To the graduating class of 2017

Pastor Hagin often says, “Ministry is spelled W-O-R-K!”

And he’s right. Our upside down kingdom requires work—most unseen and unknown to others—from its citizens.

Public teaching and preaching is the fun part of ministry. However, there’s a lot that happens from week to week. Walking alongside others through the mountains and valleys of life is an endless, and often thankless, task. My dad is a pastor and it’s often hard for him to describe his work to others.

Graduation is less than two weeks away, which is why my thoughts are drifting more and more towards this idea of life and ministry.

Many think of the two areas as separate—this is my life and this is my ministry—but there really cannot be a line of demarcation.

My friends who are leaving Rhema for the great wide world are faced with this reality. I understand their conundrum because I’m staring down the barrel of the same gun—I just have a little more time to think about it since I don’t graduate until next May.

Thankfully, our instructors have been pointing us in this direction all along. Our launch date into the great race of life, the passing of the baton, is never far from their minds.

These are men and women are Rhema alumni. They’ve been on the mission field, served/are serving in the local church, and brought their families along for the ride. I am thankful for their willingness to teach us not only biblical truths but also practical life applications of the truth.

I have no doubt that my friends are leaving Rhema prepared.

Their hard work started the moment they moved to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, flipping their entire lives upside down to follow God. Most of my friends have worked odd hours at two to three jobs for the opportunity to study God’s Word in order to become fully equipped ministers of the gospel.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2017!

Go into the world and teach people about faith and what it means to follow Jesus. Know that those went before you and those who are coming behind you are cheering you on!

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Ordinary Hamburgers

 “This is just an ordinary hamburger. Is that okay with you?” 

I was invited to eat lunch with a few friends and they were bringing the food.

“Of course, I love ordinary hamburgers–I love all hamburgers!” 

And it’s true. I was not lying to my friends, blowing happiness and sunshine their way to be nice.

Ask anyone who knows me well: I’ve never met a hamburger that I haven’t liked. If I had to choose between a salad and a hamburger, a hamburger will win every time.

What got me thinking was the phrase “ordinary hamburger.”

My friends and I had a great conversation over ordinary hamburgers.

I loved every minute of it because I was secretly thrilled to be invited to eat an ordinary hamburger on an ordinary day for the sake of connecting with someone else.

I am a big fan of ordinary. 

If I had to choose between big, magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments and small, ordinary, yet repeatable moments, that choice is a no brainer to me. Ordinary wins every time.

Because 95% of life is ordinary. Chasing the extraordinary 5% is costing us big time. 

So, please, invite someone over for an ordinary experience, like coffee or dinner, and have some fun!

Who you’re not

Do you know who you’re not

I realize this is a weird question. Experts and amateurs alike focus more on discussions around discovering who you are than discovering who you are not.

However, it’s vital to know both. 

You’re more likely to be counterproductive, pursuing things that are not related to your purpose, if you never discover who you’re not. For those who are Christians, you’ll also see more results in your spiritual life by knowing who you are and who you are not.

The topic of identity gets a lot of attention in our culture because our fast paced culture doesn’t allow much time for introspection and reflection. If you’re not moving at full speed, someone else might get ahead of you! 

Never mind the fact that life is more a marathon than a sprint….

By learning who I am not, I am freeing myself up to be who I am.

My focus is getting sharper.

My purpose is becoming clearer.

I compare myself to others less and less.

I don’t have to be you and you don’t have to be me. Isn’t that awesome?

Take my advice. Spend some time getting to know yourself. Then get busy chasing your dreams and helping others.

Know who you are, know who you are not. 

 

 

Because we’re family

The Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom from beginning to end.

And I struggle as a young person to wrap my head around these upside down commands because nothing about our world is about putting others first.

The worlds says, “Me first!” and the Kingdom says, “Me last!” 

Check out Romans 12:10 in these 3 translations:

NLT: Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

ERV: Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself.

MSG: Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

We are to love everyone like they are our brothers and sisters. This makes sense when you think about it because there are only two types of people in the world: Those who are already our family in Christ and those we want to see become our family in Christ.

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:16. 

 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

Evangelism is not about us versus them. Outreach is not about being a bully and forcing Jesus down someone’s throat.

I can’t get away from these thoughts…

I am not sharing the gospel to get ahead.

I am not seeking a platform to build “my ministry.”

 Evangelism has absolutely NOTHING to do with my advancement and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with showing someone else the path to redemption. 

The path of humility is all about taking jealousy and the need to get ahead off the table.

We’re on this journey together.

We’re growing together.

We’re serving together.

You’re not more important than me and I’m not more important than you because we’re family. 

 

 

 

Selfishness Anonymous 

We’re all selfish. 

It’s true. 

The number one priority can easily be yours truly, especially for us single folks. 

At least, this is something I have to keep in mind…

There is coming a day when spontaneity will come less and less. 

And I’m okay with that. 

The temptation to put others last is not new. This has been a problem from the beginning of time–only Jesus is perfect. 

He gave us many great examples of selflessness. 

We all want to be like him, but it’s hard…the upside down kingdom is a bit much to wrap your head around. 

  • The first will be last. 
  • He who wants to be first must be a servant. 
  • It takes the faith of a child to get into heaven. 

None of these truths can be lived out with a selfish attitude. (And none of this is possible without the Holy Spirit.)

Maybe we all need to go into Selfishness Anonymous. 

It couldn’t hurt, right?

A Moment of Silence

Since when did complete agreement become the goal? 

I’ve listened to the news quite a bit since the Orlando massacre and the amount of political talk and civil rights talk and gun rights talk is nauseating.

What about just being sad for 5 minutes before we launch into “These are the issues we need to address”?  

Which, by the way, is what everyone says EVERY SINGLE TIME after a tragedy of this magnitude.

Here’s what I want to say: Everyone, shut your mouth. 

This is not the time to start a conversation about gun control.

This is not the time to start a conversation about conservatives vs. liberals.

This is not the time for Christians and the LGBTQ community to stand off nose to nose.

This is not the time to pick a part Islam.

I just want everyone to please be quiet. 

There are 49 families who are mourning. Their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, lover was killed.

If you can’t think of a kind, compassionate thing to say, please shut up. 

We can riot in the streets later.

We can debate for hours later.

I am sad about this senseless loss of life. None of those victims set out thinking, This is it, my last day on earth.” They were just out having fun (albeit at a later hour than I like to be out) on a Saturday night. 

Please pray for the families. There are some hard days ahead.

Pray for ways you can show kindness and compassion to those around you–no matter how different they are. 

Pray for strength and wisdom on how we should all properly respond to this tragedy.

But for now, I think we all need to take a breath and just sit in this space for a minute. Let’s take a few moments to grieve before responding rashly. 

 

Living out the story

Aren’t cliff hangers the worse? 

To be Continued…

No one wants to see this at the end of a TV episode. And don’t even get me started on movies with 50,000 parts. Or book series where the next book isn’t coming out for another 18 months. 

Just tell me what happened!

Thankfully, the Bible tells us the whole story of Jesus. 

This is also why I’m trying to take it easy on the apostles as I read through the gospel. They didn’t have the full story like I do.

Come on, Peter! 

Thomas, what’s your problem?!?

James and John, did you seriously just ask Jesus to give you the best seats in the house? 

Here’s how I look at it: When I start doing everything Jesus asks me to do–without running my mouth first–I can pick on the apostles. 

By tracing the the faithfulness of God throughout His story, I am learning how to trust Him when I don’t have the full story (which is a lot).

Marvin Yoder, my teacher for Bible Interpretation, taught us about the Principle of Application today. I loved Mr. Yoder’s thoughts on seeing ourselves doing the works of Jesus and the early church. 

As Christians, the Bible is the final authority in our lives. However, if I never apply it to my daily life, it’s still just a story.

If Jesus healed, so can I.

If Peter could stand before a crowd and know exactly what to say by the Holy Spirit, so can I.

If Paul and Silas can sing praises in jail after being beaten for their faith, so can I.

 I’ve reached the point in my faith where I’m convinced that not taking the Bible to heart, that not living out the scriptures as practical, do-able truths is the number one reason the world sees the gospel as powerless.