The following is a letter from a mother printed in a German newspaper in November 1993:
“I had a child from 1969 to 1991, who then left the house. I was always busy professionally and the child learned to walk and talk from somebody else. He lived his childhood, which went by so quickly, and grew up. It may be possible to unite career and child rearing. I myself can only tell of the wordless grief that accompanied me, like a dark river, despite outward success. I had a child and sat at a desk.”
So what about you? Youth, are you willing to let your parents spend time with you? Why or why not? What can you do to remedy this situation? Maybe you can help by giving them this short writing.
Parents, are you focusing in on your children or just letting life pass you by without a care in the world, only to regret it all later? If you are, what can you do to change this?
If you think you are doing a good job spending time with your children, I want to ask you to ask them how they think you are doing. Ask them, “If there was one thing we could do together today, what would that be,” then do your best to do that with them.
And if that won’t work, just take them out for a soda, a bite to eat or just go out and get some hot chocolate & count blue cars at a busy intersection for a bit.
Please spend time with the children God has given to you.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” - Deuteronomy 6:5-8
The following lyrics are from one of my favorite bands on the planet, Project 86. Some of you might think this is too radical, but is it?
I think not.
As Christians our old person is dead and the flesh is dying anyway. As the song states, "I’ve erased all of my fear of the grave." Thanks to the Holy Spirit and His power we can live fearless in this world.
It is time to stand up for our Savior. We need to have the following attitude in all we do for Christ as the song states, "You’ll never kill Him (Holy Spirit) that lives inside of me." I am so glad for the life that our Lord and Savior has given to me.
Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the following song and lyrics.
You can hear the song at the following link. Follow along below. It is a very powerful message to read the lyrics while listening to the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KM21wwYOSM
Project 86 - The Butcher
This man came to me he was looking for action
Pulling a blade to my neck
He said, "Call me the butcher cause that's my trade
And you know that I’ve come to collect."
I said, "Hit me now
And we’ll see where it leads
Cut me out if you think I will bleed
Strike me down if you think you’re a man
Cause I know that you don't understand"
Because there is no weapon
There is no blade
You wonder why I’m not afraid?
There is no weapon
There is no blade
You’ll never kill Him that lives inside of me.
He looked into my eyes. All he saw was conviction.
Dropping the blade to the earth
I said, "How could you think that I’d ever retreat?
You know that I’m already dead."
I said, "Hit me now and we’ll see where it leads
Cut me out if you think I will bleed
Strike me down if you think you’re a man
Cause I know that you don't understand"
Because there is no weapon
There is no blade
You wonder why I’m not afraid?
There is no weapon
There is no blade
I’ve erased all of my fear of the grave.
There is no weapon
There is no blade
You wonder why I’m not afraid?
There is no weapon
There is no blade
You’ll never kill Him that lives inside of me.
2 Corinthians 5:1–10&17
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
I also want us to remember Philippians 1:21: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Serve Jesus in all you do. So what do you think?
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 22, 2009 0 comments
Once there was a woman whose homemade pies were continually stolen from her window sill while they were cooling. She obviously became frustrated with putting such time and energy into making them only to have them stolen. Finally, she devised a plan to teach the pie thieves a lesson.
She decided to make a pan of brownies. She took extra care to make sure that these brownies would be the best, using high quality ingredients to ensure that they were tasty and succulent. Once they were baked, she put them on the window sill to cool. Then she hid to see who came to take the brownies. To her shock, she saw an upstanding community leader and church member in her congregation swipe the pan of brownies!
The next Sunday morning at church, the woman wanted to mention the brownies in conversation with this leader. While she was talking to some friends, the culprit approached the group and joined in the conversation. She knew this was her chance. So she said, “You know how I’ve been having problems with someone stealing my desserts while they are cooling on the window sill over the last few weeks?” The group nodded, and one younger lady asked, “You aren’t still dealing with that are you?”
The woman replied, “Well, I think I finally took care of the problem.” With the thieving church member listening, she told the following story:
“I really didn’t know what to do, so I thought I would make that person a nice pan of brownies. I used the best ingredients money could buy, took extra care to make sure they were mixed just right, and then I added the final secret ingredient . . . dog poop.” All of the faces reflected shock, except for the culprit’s: he looked mortified. She continued, “I placed the batter into the pan and then went outside to find two pieces of dog poop from the neighbor’s cuddly cocker spaniel and added them to the pan. I cooked it and then placed the pan on the window sill. Then, like clockwork, the brownies disappeared.” The group laughed hysterically, but the community leader quickly excused himself and went to the restroom.
She never again had another baked good stolen.
How many of us are like the person who stole the brownies? How about this for an answer: All of us are guilty of this.
You might be saying, “Now Jason, not me! I don’t steal, and I wouldn’t eat a pan of brownies with poop in them.” You may not be a thief, but I bet you have had some “brownies with poop” in them before. You might even have had them last night before you read this blog. Let me explain this rather strange metaphor.
When surfing the internet, which is often an appealing “brownie,” have you ever visited a site or partook of something you knew was “dog poop” — something impure or inappropriate? When watching a great movie, which was an awesome brownie, did you shut it off or fast forward when it had sex, violence, or crude jokes in it? Or did you eat that dog poop too? How about appealing brownie music? Do you consume the dog poop with that brownie? Or did you discard music that is lyrically immoral and only partake of pure, delicious, untainted brownies? There are many kinds of quality brownies available.
Or maybe you go to church and worship God on Sunday morning, only to turn during the week to the dog poop of consulting your horoscope and listening to mediums and spiritists, such as Sylvia Brown or (dare I say?) Oprah and the like. Have you partaken of the incredible brownie of sex only to experience dog poop because you are not married to that person? Have you become so gluttonous with food that you are gaining weight on a monthly basis?
Scripture is clear that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Take Adam and Eve as an example. God loved them so much that He allowed them to go their own way and disobey Him. However, in His love, he had warned them that if they went their own way, they would die. We still have consequences today for our choices. You can do as you please but there is dog poop in some of the brownies. We are taught how to live a godly life, but God allows us to choose our own way. If we choose to stray from Him, His heart breaks.
I know because I am a father too. When my children obey me, their lives, for the most part, are productive and good. When they decide to go their own way and make a decision against what I have told them to do, they experience unpleasant consequences for their actions. Many times I don’t need to discipline them because they already realized the trouble and hurt that they caused themselves or others.
James 1:21–24 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." Are you like the community leader in this story? In what areas of your life do you partake of moral “filth”?
For further study, please read James 1:19–27 and II Kings 21:1-19.
Questions to ponder:
1) How can today’s church often be like the Israelities during King Manasseh’s reign?
2) How are you being like the Israelities in this scripture?
3) Of what moral filth do you need to rid yourself?
4) How do you plan to get rid of this moral filth?
5) How will you let the Holy Spirit help you stop returning to this lifestyle?
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Does that sound like the headlines we read today? It amazes me that the more this world changes, the more it remains the same.
Jesus, as well as many other prophets, warned us about circumstances that are happening today. In II Peter 3, Peter warns of the last days and writes about the world being destroyed by fire. He also states that scoffers will come and deliberately forget that the world was once destroyed by a worldwide flood. Hmmm… Doesn’t that sound a little like the events happening today?
Regardless of what happens in this world, our hope needs to be in Jesus Christ — not in people. Unfortunately, we so often put our hope in people and in a politically correct mindset. What comes to my mind is the most recent vote in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) allowing practicing homosexuals to be ordained as pastors. This principle can be supported nowhere in Scripture. Even the ELCA knows something is amiss, as is evidenced by their very own actions. Why can I make such a bold statement? Because people that are living together outside of marriage and practicing sexual relations cannot be ordained in the ELCA. They know that such a sexual relationship is a sin.
I believe that we have allowed sin to creep into the church, and now we don’t know what we believe. Read I Timothy 3 to find out what kind of people should be in leadership in the church. We have bent this Scripture to the breaking point, and until we are willing to rectify this problem, we will be nothing but hypocrites in the world’s eyes. We have put Pharisees into church leadership. We well know what Jesus said to and about them. We have also allowed false prophets into the church to speak for God. Check out II Kings 21 to see the effect that false prophets have upon the church. I believe this damage is occurring in today’s church.
You have to live as though you believe what the Bible says — even when acting upon Scripture is the difficult thing to do. Until people see that a relationship with Jesus actually works in the real world, they won’t want to come to Him. Case in point: I once had a friend who talked a good talk but didn’t walk the talk. He claimed to be a Christian but was actually lying to me and others. He even lied to people who didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. (Some witness that was.) As his Christian brother, I confronted him on this matter. I even told him, “Just tell me the truth, and I will forgive you no matter what happened in the past.” He told me the truth, and I forgave him. However, he continued lying to me and others. This person, as well as a person who sins and has no repentance (turning from one’s wicked ways), should not be in leadership in the church. Other people saw my friend’s hypocrisy in action, and I had to attempt to mend the bridge in those relationships.
I do not write this to condemn but to challenge each and every Christian: live out your faith in Christ! I Corinthians 15 is a great passage to read about actually living our faith in view of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Christians, aren’t you tired of eating table scraps? Our faith is found in Jesus Christ and no other. Let’s start living what we believe so the world can see the truth. This will not be easy, but if you are in the center of God’s will, you will have peace of mind. If you want safety, then please STOP following Jesus or claiming to be His follower. You are giving Him and His followers a bad name. Being in the center of God’s will is not safe, but it is an adventure!
More reading: Genesis 6:5 – 9 (How was Noah known among the people of his time? How can you begin to live that way?), Matthew 24, The Book of Haggai, The Book of Habakkuk, almost any minor prophet.
If you read my previous blog about Mort, my teacher, mentor, and football coach, you know that he taught me the importance of standing my ground even in the face of adversity. He also taught me the importance of being a man of my word with individuals and in a group. Mort also taught me the importance of a great work ethic and the fact that great people are built in the face of adversity.
Yet there were still many more lessons that I learned throughout my high school football career. As you may or may not recall from the earlier blog, during my sophomore year of high school, our football team’s season finished 3 – 6. I was on the scout team appropriately named “The Hamburger Squad.” Every week, we would get pummeled by the starters on defense and offense. Being a part of that taught me the importance of “sticking to it” even when times are tough. I also realized that helping others improve often makes you improve as well.
My junior year was more of the same: we finished 3 – 6 again. It was a tough year with little reward. Despite our continual efforts, the losses just piled up. During my senior year of football, we continued to work hard but figured it would be another typical year.
Then . . . much to our surprise, we actually won the first game of the year! We never won the first game of the year. It had always been a heart-breaking loss. During the next game, our team began to meld together as we all realized, “I need to trust my teammates to get their job done.” Our team captains along with some juniors stepped up to lead, and we won our second game of the season.
Our next test was against the 10th ranked team in the state, the Mora Mustangs on their home field. They were dominant! They had won state titles two years in a row and were looking just as tough as ever. I will honestly say that before the game even started, I didn’t think we could win. But the juniors who led the previous game seemed to not understand who we were facing. They were either brave or simply naïve, for they were fearless.
These same juniors had started a new tradition that year. As our team would leave the locker room in two single file lines, one person would shout almost at the top of his lungs, “Nothin’ But!” Then the whole team would shout back in unison, “Torture!” It still gives me goose bumps remembering it! The team chanted this walking ALL the way to the football field:
(On a side note: The word “torture” back then had a lighter meaning than it does today.)
Anyway, since I was on special teams, I was always out on the field before the rest of the team. Therefore, I always got to witness the team walking out on the field. It was an awesome, intimidating sight. Our team chanted this to the 10th ranked team in the state — on their home turf! Did I mention that they had to walk right through the fans of this team? There was no way around them. Cups, candy wrappers, profanity, and other insults were being hurled at our team as they calmly (at least outwardly) walked to the field chanting, “Nothin But . . . Torture!”
It was an awesome sight, a memory I will never forget. It was quite a rush for a 17 year-old young man.
We ended up winning the game 21 – 13 and began to believe in ourselves. We realized that with even more hard work we could accomplish something great. The fans also began to believe it. That year we defeated a team that was ranked #3 in the state and finished the year 9 – 2. Our only two losses were to the state champions twice.
I learned many lessons over my high school years of football that have stayed with me throughout my life. Throughout my senior year in particular, I learned the importance of teamwork and of having a great leader. Every game we played that year had a different hero. I also learned that just because you are older, you may not necessarily be wiser and may not get the glory and credit. Sometimes you need to let others lead. The juniors on our team during my senior year stepped up to lead and did a phenomenal job.
You might be wondering what this has to do with faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you have decisions to make? Or are you going through hard times right now? Then focus on Christ and stick with it. Pray and seek His guidance. Listen to His Holy Spirit and do His will. It may be hard right now, and you may never have peace and comfort in this lifetime. But you need to be okay with that. Do you really believe the Bible or not? If you do, then remember your reward is in Heaven. So live like you believe that!
“Don’t covet your neighbor or friend’s life and stuff. That is a sin! Instead, do the will of your Father who is in Heaven.”
For Further Reading:
I Corinthians 13
Haggai 1 (focusing on verses 5–7)
If you call yourself a Christian, do you actually do what the Word of God says? Sure you read it, pray, and go to Sunday morning services, but do you actually live out the Word of God? Do you only try to be a good person and just get by doing only the easy things it teaches? Are you seeing or living out Acts 3:38-47?
Are you living out God’s dream or the American dream? Maybe living out your dream has nothing to with God’s dream for you. I ask this question because once my family and I started seeking out God’s will with all of out heart, mind, soul, and strength and quit worrying about what people thought of us, the real adventure began.
I think there are people out there that know what God wants them to do, but they are afraid to follow Him because of what their friends and family might say or think. Also, some people are not willing to give up their comfortable lifestyle.
My family and I don’t really buy a lot of new things anymore, but we do share with a lot of people and they share with us. A great example of this was the other morning we ran out of milk. I was just about to go buy some when a friend showed up at the door with 3 gallons. It was like 8:00 in the morning! We’ve also been given clothes that others have outgrown or no longer need. Some of these clothes are nicer than what we would have bought new for ourselves. We give clothes to others as well. It is really incredible to see God bless His children through His people.
Another way God blesses us is through our health care plan. We belong to a co-op called Samaritan Ministries. It is a group of Christians that help pay for each other’s health care costs. We pray for each other and share the load financially. We send our monthly check to someone in need in the co-op. For example, my oldest son needed to go to the emergency room for care at our local hospital. We let the need be made known to the co-op and we received checks from our Christian brothers and sisters to help pay for the emergency visit.
I want to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to rethink how we do life here on earth. If we really believe this earth is not our home, we need to have a kingdom perspective and build up treasures in heaven rather than treasures here on earth. I encourage you again to read the book of Acts 1-4 and start living what you are reading. If we put our faith in God and not man, our example will be seen by all.
Fear God and not men. This essentially means respect our Father God. He deserves it.
For further reading check out Joshua 24:15 and Romans 3:21-31.
(Note: Before reading the following blog please know this story is about trusting and obeying God. It is not about health insurance being bad. But we do hope it gets you to rethink some things through in your life.)
Over two years ago when my family and I begin our journey in starting Worldview Warriors, we needed to head down a very difficult yet rewarding path on which we had many difficult decisions to make. These decisions would affect our whole family. One of the most difficult decisions at the time was what to do about health care.
You see, we had been trained, probably a lot like you are, that we needed and deserved health insurance and needed to have it since we have a family of 8 people. At the time we definitely didn’t have the money to pay for something called COBRA, which we could have gotten for a time to have some, “peace of mind” but it was far too expensive for our income. So, we went without health insurance for about a month.
One thing you don’t know yet by reading this blog is that my wife was pregnant with our 6th child at the time and she was due in October of that year. We definitely needed health insurance (or so we thought.) We even went through the hoops and paperwork to get the government health insurance that is available, but we knew deep down this was a mistake. We knew God was not calling us to use this government service. It was a difficult time for us because we had unknowingly been trained to think inside of this man-made system and to not have health insurance at the time seemed like utter foolishness. If you will, we had been trained to trust in human ideas and not in God and His ways of wisdom. God was calling us to obey Him and trust Him. So, we cancelled the government insurance and relied in God. This was about 6 – 8 weeks before our daughter was born.
About one month before she was about to grace us with her presence, someone contacted us and told us these words, “My husband and I have been praying and if we don’t pay for this pregnancy, God told us we would be sinning.” My wife and I were shocked, dumb-founded, and amazed! We hadn’t told anyone of our need and yet this woman of God was telling us that God had told her that they needed to pay completely for this pregnancy. This included all doctor visits before the birth, the birth itself, and any check ups with the mid-wife right after the birth.
God spoke to this couple about our situation. They heard Him and obeyed. Even though it was hard not to have health insurance, God blessed us immensely for our trust in Him. He is our provider.
Are you willing to completely trust in God? Are you willing to trust the God who gives you life? Take time this week to read about Abraham’s faith in Romans 4 and challenge yourself to live as he did. I encourage you to start following his example and see what adventure God has in store for you.
Next week I will continue this story and our journey of trusting God and His people completely. My family and I are continuing to learn not to trust in human ways of thought, but in God’s and God’s alone. Remember, human ways are not God’s ways. Man’s wisdom is utter foolishness to God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 - The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 1:17-19 - For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Matthew 7:13 - 23
Acts 2:14 – 4:37 (Read just one chapter a day over and over. I encourage you to live life as the early church did.)
Years ago, I sensed that the Lord was leading me to read biographies of great people in history. For instance, two people who came to mind were Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
I bought a few biographies that piqued my interest but never read them, for, as life goes, I became busy with other things that crowded out my reading. However, within the last six months, much has changed — thanks to God using an incredible man from Lima, Ohio, who is discipling me. He challenged me about four months ago to form a board of directors. I told him, “Worldview Warriors already has a board of directors in place.” He responded, “I mean a board of directors for life.”
He explained that when I am faced with decisions throughout life, I will often need to sit down and have a “meeting” with my board of directors. He said, “You may even want to sit down, place all the books you’ve read from these people in front of you, and consider what each person would do in this situation. Learn from their wisdom and mistakes.”
He insisted that one of the books must, of course, be the Bible. He also encouraged me to read the biographies of Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, and Ghandi. He said that the biography of General Patton should also be on the list. “He will teach you how to not give up your position,” he said.
Thus, I obtained a biography of General Patton and General Rommel (who was in the German army during World War II). I have learned so much from both of these men already, and I am only one fifth of the way through the book!
I am telling you this for two reasons. First, leaders are learners, and we all need to grow, no matter where we are in life. Even my discipler, who is in his 60s, told me, “I’ve never thought of reading about General Rommel. You’ve taught me something today.”
Secondly, although I didn’t read these biographies years ago, as God was urging me, God didn’t forget what He wanted me to do. I had forgotten, but He didn’t allow my distraction to divert His purpose. God is faithful!
Here’s my challenge to you: find a biography on a great person in history. Do you have a hero or someone you’d like to learn more about? Buy a biography on that person and read a little each night. I think you will be surprised at how much you will learn from the past. If you can’t make up your mind or don’t know where to start, I suggest that you try a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, General Thomas Patton, or Mother Theresa. Then pray every day that God would help you to daily implement what you are learning.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” You can learn throughout your life. Let God train you.
Looking back on my life I can now see that in 2006 of November God had me standing on the edge of a cliff in the spiritual realm telling me to jump. Over two years before this, God was preparing my family and I to start a new ministry geared toward helping students, adults, and families become true followers of Jesus Christ. God had been training my family and I to help people not only get into the Kingdom of God through the narrow gate in Matthew 7, but to also live a holy life pleasing to God in all they do. We realized that the way to life eternal was to not only go through the narrow gate but to live the narrow path that Jesus teaches about. If you haven’t noticed by now this scripture text in Matthew 7 has really impacted my life.
So, two years ago on June 4th, my family and I jumped off the cliff and began an adventure with God. We had no idea where this path would lead us but I knew we had heard God’s voice and needed to obey. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made in my life. We would be leaving the comfort of a weekly support team, health insurance and a steady paycheck. We would be trading that for a life of uncertainty, much lower pay and we would have to rethink how to live in a society where we wouldn’t be the norm.
To put it bluntly God basically said, “Do you trust me?” To which we said, “Yes.” And He responded with, “Then leave what you are comfortable with and follow me down the narrow path. Are you willing to take up your cross?” We have had to rethink our whole approach to many things in this life.
The ministry of Worldview Warriors is even more than we thought it would be. God is using this ministry more throughout the world than I personally imagined up to this point. Worldview Warriors is now helping families in the Philippines get out of forced prostitution and slavery in our ministry partnerships with Threads of Hope and His Work Undercover (Read more in this newsletter). Our internet presence is being felt not only in North America, but also in Europe, Australia, Asia, and even Africa. God is moving through this ministry!
Faces in the ministry have come and gone, but God continues to bring qualified passionate people to the ministry for us to continue to raise the bar for Christ’s Kingdom. Our Fastcasts (the 30 second audio devotionals) continue to be played on WXML radio in Ohio and we are currently recording more Fastcasts as you are receiving this newsletter.
On a more personal note, my family and I have been majorly stretched, refined, and pruned by God. He continues this process even today. This road has been difficult and at times, seemingly unbearable. My family and the team we have put together at Worldview Warriors continues to focus in on the Holy Spirit. We are learning more and more how to listen to Him and be guided by Him.
If you support this ministry in any way it is such a huge blessing. Whether you pray, use our materials, give financially, or trust us enough to bring us in for an event, know we could not do this ministry without people like you. We praise God for you everyday. We need to become the church that is talked about in scripture with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.
So, how are you and your family doing following the narrow path? Please do not only go through the narrow gate but start living the narrow path as well. Matthew 7:13-23.
Through my travels around the country, I am blessed to meet so many wonderful, caring people who are not afraid to serve God. I also meet many people who call themselves Christians, yet I can’t help but wonder, “Are they really?”
I write this not to judge but to get us to think about and examine ourselves. Let me explain. I believe Jesus when He said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
In my travels, I have been exposed to a variety of churches with an even greater variety of styles. This is amazing to see how different we are yet worship the same Lord and Savior. I visited one church that host an annual gambling tournament! Yes, they are actually gambling in this church-sponsored event. I’ve spoken with a youth pastors who’ve struggled with their church holding events they don’t agree with but don’t know what they should do about the situation. Things like “outreach events”, which are actually alcoholic parties where people get drunk. These “outreaches” are even sponsored by the senior pastors.
Yet beyond these outrageous realities, here’s the kicker for me: Many pastors divorce or do not have their lives in order in other ways, yet the church does nothing about it. The congregants leave the pastor in his role of leadership (and call it grace), even though I Timothy 3 clearly states the life for which overseers and deacons should be striving. I will paraphrase it for you: Be the husband of but one wife, who manages his own family well and whose children obey Him with proper respect. This man must be self-controlled, not a drunk or lover of money. (See it all in 1 Timothy 3:1-13.) My point here is that Jesus said in Matthew 7 that the gate that leads to life is narrow. He also said that the path is narrow. Readers, this is a call to holiness.
How are you doing? Heck, how am I doing? Are you falling into the ways of the world, or are you taking the narrow path that leads to life? This is difficult to do, I understand. I often strive and fail in this area. However, the key is this: are you tapping into the Holy Spirit or yourself for strength? Are you tapping into knowledge or into your relationship with the King of the universe? The solution is not in us. It is in Christ. Pray and ask God today to lead and direct your path. Then listen for His voice and obey His direction. See what happens when you follow Christ with a reckless abandon. The adventure awaits!
“I love the way y’all say things without hesitating. You aren’t afraid to speak the truth, even if it hurts or is embarrassing. I think that a lot or people today don’t want to stand up for this kind of thing.”
This quote came from one of the students to whom we ministered during the “Be Prepared” tour. He also said that many people today appear to worship God in church and during religious activities, but then go home and engage in immoral activities on their own time. This student even wondered if these people are actually Christians. It was obviously very upsetting to him.
It makes me think of Matthew 7:13-14, when Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
Yes, the gate to life is narrow, but I think we tend to forget that the road to life is also narrow. We cannot simply pray a prayer and then leave it at that. We must repent and turn from our wicked ways. This is where it gets tough.
Years ago, I had a very good friend whom I still love very dearly as a brother. He said he was a Christian and lived life with his friends and family. One day, however, I caught him in a lie, followed by more lies. I confronted him about his dishonesty. He admitted that he had lied not only once, but also numerous times before that. I forgave him, and we moved on. Later I caught him in more lies, so I asked another brother in Christ to accompany me when I confronted this man. He again admitted his guilt. I told him that I forgave him and that we would just move on from that point. All was forgiven; however, I told him, “Always tell me the truth from this point on, even if it is very difficult to do so.” We continued our friendship as if the lying had never taken place. This peace lasted about one month, until I sensed that he was lying again. I confronted him about it again, but this time he grew defensive and stated that I was just paranoid. He began to ignore me and failed to return my phone calls or e-mails. This totally confused me because I thought that we had moved on from these lies.
Obviously, he was continuing his path of lies. However, he no longer seemed remorseful about his actions anymore. Thus, I had to deal with a very difficult situation and make some hard decisions.
I share this story with you because at that time I was also questioning whether my friend was even a Christian. I asked myself and God, “How can he be a Christian when he is definitely not walking the narrow path as Jesus Christ has told us to do?” I was consumed with this situation and bewildered over how it could be happening.
After much prayer, meditation, and counsel from wise brothers in Christ, I was freed by God from this situation. Praise God that He allowed me to think this through and see clearly. I forgave my friend and tried to make things right with him (as Jesus taught), even though I was wronged. However, because my friend did not like what I believe are the God-given standards by which we are to live, we don’t talk much anymore, which is a difficult, but probably, a good thing. Praise God that my family and I are now free to do what God has called us to do. I don’t need to worry anymore whether this person is telling the truth or is lying again. My family and I now focus on Christ.
Everyone, God is the judge — not us. It is up to Him as to who is following the narrow path and entering through the narrow gate. So the burden is on Him, not you or me. Later Jesus says in verses 21–23 of Matthew 7, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
So, I guess the question for all of us is this: Are you truly following Christ in everything you do and not being a hypocrite?!
For further reading, check out an old book by Andrew Murray called Absolute Surrender, and read Matthew 7:15–29.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 11, 2009 0 comments
While on the “Be Prepared” tour on the west coast, Silverline and I were able to stay with a wonderful couple in Phoenix, AZ. Silverline took two days to record a few songs with their new label, VSR, while I took a few days to write, pray, and seek the Lord. I was a little skeptical of being able to do much ministry while we stayed there, but God reminded me that if we are willing to do His will, He will work through circumstances for His greater glory.
Many people came over to the house on a Sunday evening to celebrate a birthday in the family. Little did we know how God had prepared to use that time for ministry! Around 8:00 that evening, we began a praise and worship time for anyone who wanted to join us. Soon we were praising our Lord and Savior by singing as the Holy Spirit led, with each person singing whatever he or she felt led to sing. Sometimes we all sang the same song, but other times we all sang something different. It was an incredible time of worship.
After worshipping, we prayed for about an hour for our friend, Adam, to be healed from his enlarged spleen. Please pray for his healing. Then our hostess asked us to pray for a young man who was there worshipping with us, whom I will call Tim. She did not tell us what to pray for, in order to allow the Spirit to lead. As we began to pray, some of us laid hands on Tim. As we prayed, a recurring theme began to emerge from each person praying — fear and confusion. I was a little confused myself because I supposed that Tim needed physical healing.
As we continued praying for this young man, we became more certain that we were hearing the Spirit correctly. As we prayed, Tim began to cry, with head hung low and shoulders hunched over. After about 20–30 minutes of prayer time, we all felt that we could do no more, that the prayer time was finished. Tim just stood there with his eyes closed, weeping. We all sat down quietly to allow Tim to do business with God. After about 15 minutes of silence, Steve, Silverline’s guitarist, told him, “Tim, there’s nothing more we can do right now. You need to just give it over to God. Only you know what to do now.” Tim remained in his hunched position for another 5 minutes, and then. .. it happened. Tim fell to his knees and began to cry profusely. He decided to trust God and not himself anymore. Something broke in the spiritual realm and we were now able to pray over Tim again. This went on for the next 40 minutes. I didn’t get to bed until 3:00 the next morning.
How about you? Are you dealing with fear and confusion? Is there something you need to surrender to the Lord? Is there an area in your life that you have not submitted to God? Are you dealing with pride or selfishness? Then give it over to God. Pray right now. Ask God to help you submit to His will and fulfill His calling for your life.
God continues to move greatly on this tour. Lives are being changed! People are being freed from personal junk and are becoming free to live out their relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people are also beginning to recognize that they are stuck in religious, ritualistic institutions that had good beginnings but have somehow developed into institutions of men. Praise the Lord that people are becoming free in Christ! Yes, people are being saved. But many are also realizing that beyond salvation, they need to be discipled in order to grow. Both students and adults are stepping up! Praise God!
Imitate or Inhabited: The choice is up to you.
I have been blessed in so many ways through out my life. I realize how privileged I was growing up in a family that tried to teach me about Jesus Christ and His ways. My mother led me to Christ as a child. As a teenager I turned away from Him and went my own way. Through their example of unconditional love and constant prayer for my soul I was drawn back to our Heavenly Father. My parents are far from perfect, but they love me and care so much for my family and me. Below is a note I just received from my father today! I wanted to share with you this much needed wisdom that I believe we all need to remember.
“It seems as if most everyone is so confused about what’s happening today but yet still try to maintain living by their own thinking. Think about this – We all have access to unlimited wisdom, unlimited power, unlimited love, and unlimited grace in an awesome God.
We try and choose to imitate Jesus by trying to force ourselves to act in different ways in our own strength (WWJD). Let’s look at this a little differently (WIJD) “What Is Jesus Doing?” We don’t just have an example, we have an inhabitant!” There is a world of difference. John 15:5 says, “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit. Because apart from me you can do nothing.” In Galatians 2:20 we see “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
I think attempting to imitate our divine example finds us failing often and even growing ever more frustrated with our ability to live as Jesus did. We need to see ourselves as vessels in which the Spirit of the living God dwells, and when we do we’re inclined not to try harder but to trust more.”
I want to encourage you to go and do this. I think that’s all that needs to be said this week.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 1, 2009 1 comments
Should irresponsibility be rewarded?
When I was growing up, I was really into football. Heck, I’m really into football today too, but I actually played it when I was younger. I weighed a whopping 135 pounds as a senior in high school, even though the program said I weighed 155 pounds. (Who was I fooling?)
As a sophomore in high school, I was on the scout offense and defense and played in JV and freshman games, since I was small and definitely needed the practice. (That’s code for “I really wasn’t that good.”) I started for the freshman and JV teams and suited up for the varsity games to play special teams for kick-offs. Suiting up for three games a week was a rush for me.
A funny thing happened that year, however. Our homecoming game was not a typical game for our team. According to the team rules, if you stayed out past 10:00 p.m. the night before the game, you would not play in Friday’s game. Strict? Yes. But those were the team rules, and they were necessary.
The night before the homecoming game, four of our senior leaders decided to stay out past curfew, and our head coach and many players found out. Our coach had a decision to make: Let these seniors play in the game even though they knew the team rules, or make them pay the consequence for disregarding them. That night changed my life. Even though we were playing one of the best teams in our conference, our head coach, Tom Moriarty (otherwise known as “Mort”), made the tough call and benched all four of these starters right before kick-off. Pandemonium broke out! These starters included our quarterback, the running back, and a very athletic tight end who caught most of the passes. The four players were livid! Even though they had been out with the homecoming committee the evening before, our coach reminded them that they broke team rules and knew the consequences. One player threw and kicked his helmet, another yelled at our coach profusely, and fans and parents were bewildered as to what was going on. You could hear the fans yelling to put these players in the game. Without them, we had little chance to win. I am sure our coach felt enormous pressure, but he would not relent. He stood his ground for the first half, and his point was made. I think he knew that he had to make this stand or lose the respect of the players.
Reminiscing about this event in my life leads me to see parallels in life today. Even though we all know there are both good and bad consequences to our actions, we still make stupid decisions. We want something but don’t have the money to pay for it, so we just put it on credit. Then later we’ll partake of that poor choice by paying three to five times what the item is actually worth. But now some people don’t even have to pay for a bad decision because they will be “bailed out.” Is it right that businesses and private citizens who make bad choices and bad decisions get rewarded for irresponsibility? Those of us who have “played by the rules” of society and are self-controlled in our finances now have to pay for the irresponsibility of others. Is this right? If we would just let people and businesses fail, people might actually learn from their mistakes and become better individuals and better citizens. Just like my coach taught us so many years ago, breaking the rules should not be rewarded. People need to learn from their mistakes and move on to become better people.
My coach probably didn’t know what an impact his actions at that game would have on his players long after the season was over. But I am glad that he was my coach and want to thank him for the lessons in personal responsibility that he taught us. Because I learned so much about life from the game of football and from all my high school football coaches, I want to thank them right now:
Head Coach — Coach Moriarty
Defensive Coordinator — Coach Moberg
Assistant Coaches — Coach Korf and Coach Leadholm
Freshman Coaches — Coach Martin and Coach Baumann.
This is for you, Mort. I want others to know what a great man you are. Thank you for being such a great influence in my life. I am 38 years old now, and this lesson — as well as many other teachable moments from you and your staff — are gifts that have changed and shaped my life in great ways. I hope to teach my children some of the same lessons that I learned from you.
I want to encourage those reading this blog to write a note to someone who has mentored or discipled you, thanking that person for sinking his or her life into yours. Send that person a letter, or post it on your facebook or myspace for others to see. If you can’t think of anyone or have too many from which to choose, ask God to help you in choosing someone. Then get to work. Do it right now, or time will slip away from you.
In closing, I just have this to say: Thanks, Mort! I am still realizing how much you taught me about life in those four years of playing the great game of football for you. Thanks again.
For more reading on this topic, check out John 6. (Yes, the whole thing!) Leaders are learners. Notice how Jesus leads and how His disciples follow, while others simply blow Him off.
Have you ever been so busy that you don’t know which way is up or down? Have you even been so busy for the Kingdom of God that you are actually not doing much earthly good? You’re busy running to church or school activities or trying to do your homework in order to please your teachers and family with good grades. Or maybe you’re busy trying to get into that perfect college or busy with your job.
Now don’t get me wrong — being busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can, however, divert our focus away from God and His desires for your life. He may be calling you to be a doctor or a lawyer, but your attention is on goofing around and having “fun.” He might be calling you to work with your hands and be a carpenter or a machinist, but you have other dreams and desires that you would rather fulfill. Instead of following His lead, you decide to be selfish.
Some of us may even get so focused on doing things for the kingdom of God that we treat our fellow man in horrible ways. Jesus said to love our enemies. How much more then should we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?
I recently needed to apologize to a sister in Christ. We had passionately argued about something petty, and I should have treated her more kindly. So we apologized, forgave each other, and moved on. This is how our interactions with each other should be, as Jesus Christ taught His disciples. In order to stay in check with Christ, we must be in His Word daily, pray to Him constantly, and seek His ways in everything — especially when we have wronged someone.
In everything you do, I encourage you to recognize how God is moving in that situation and to join Him in His work. When you mess up, apologize, seek forgiveness, and move on. Every aspect of our lives needs to center around God and His work. Without this proper focus, you will labor in vain, and, before you know it, you will be retiring from your job and wondering where all the time went. Don’t serve yourself. Serve Christ. You won’t be disappointed.
For further study, check out Matthew 5:43-48.
A few weeks ago I posted a blog entitled “Dealing With an Institution: Racing Toward the Answer.” In it I discussed some problems that I and many other pastors and lay leaders see within the church. The response has not been surprising, but I believe that I need to comment on this topic again.
Using Scripture as our guide, let’s look at I Timothy 3:1-13. I will stay away from the hot topic of whether or not women should be in church leadership and focus on verses 2-4. It says that whoever seeks to be an overseer should be above reproach, self-controlled, the husband of but one wife, etc. It also states that he must manage his family well and ensure that his children obey him with proper respect. Read verse 5 to see why this aspect is so important.
I understand that people have things happen that are out of line every now and then, so I am not writing about an instance that occurs every once in a while. But in a broader sense, how can we put people into leadership in the church when we know that they have family issues? Or how can we support someone preaching from the pulpit who has just gotten a divorce or is a practicing homosexual? How can we allow this when Scripture provides such blatant guidelines? Galatians 6:1-10 has the answer. It states that those who are spiritual should gently restore those who are caught in a sin. We are to carry each other’s burdens, and, in this way, we will fulfill the law of Christ.
Let’s think outside of the box. How can we restore someone gently? First of all, we need to address the situation. Consider if what we think is happening actually is. Secondly, if this person is involved in sin (keep in mind that every situation is different), he should be removed from leadership for a time. Let me elaborate on what I mean. If the pastor is involved in a sin, those in lay leadership should have the integrity and guts to call this pastor onto the carpet. Reveal the truth and offer grace.
What might this look like if a pastor is going through a divorce? One thing that the leadership could do is to tell the pastor and his wife that he is going to be out of the pulpit and leadership for a specified amount of time, such as 6 months. The leadership can offer to pay part of his salary and pay for marriage counseling in order for them to reconcile. Reassure the couple that the church is there for them, loves them, and is seeking God’s guidance (For example: A prayer and fasting time held by the leadership of the church or maybe even the whole body). After the specified amount of time, the leadership can reevaluate the situation and seek God’s direction.
We need to hold each other accountable. We need to restore each other gently. Most of the time, this does not happen. We either simply run these people off or accept them in their sinful state without helping them recognize their need for repenting of their sin and asking for forgiveness.
My friend Angela here in Ohio refers to this concept in our next podcast, which will be posted on Feb. 16th. She refers to the similarity between the church today and the Israelites in I Kings 18:16-46: The Israelites are dancing around the altar of Baal and cannot choose between two opinions. Here’s one last thought as I finish. Another friend of mine just told me this on Friday: “Truth without grace is judgment. Grace without truth is license.” I think this statement rings true! Speak the truth in love.
For more reading, check out Matthew 18:15-20.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 2, 2009 0 comments
Doing Things Our Own Way:
I am blessed to be able to travel and speak to youth leaders and students all over the country. Thus, I have had a variety of traveling experiences, both positive and negative. Once when I was on a tour with the band Silverline, we had a little trouble. We were headed to a state college in Pennsylvania for one of our evening events with Worldview Warriors and were driving Silverline’s bus with a trailer in tow through a very hilly, tortuous, windy part of the state. As I was lying down in the back of the bus, I noticed I was beginning to move side to side vigorously, and it continued to get worse. I was seriously beginning to wonder if we were going to make it out of this apparent accident, for we were currently passing a semi-truck and trailer.
Ryan, Silverline’s vocalist was speaking loudly to Isaac, the driver, “Let off the gas! Quit trying to correct it; just let it correct itself.” Although I don’t drive the bus too often, I knew this situation couldn’t be good, for Isaac was calmly but sternly saying, “I am!” Praise the Lord that Isaac finally corrected our potential detour route over an embankment, and we were on our way again.
This experience reminded me of how often we over-correct when trying to fix our predicaments. We know the Bible’s model for a strong marriage and that a good name is more important than riches, but we still try to do things our own way rather than simply apologizing and seeking forgiveness when needed. Boy, do we mess things up from time to time. However, the good news is that God is right there to take over and guide us, if we will allow Him to do so.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 26, 2009 0 comments
A Day In The Life of My Family:
As I write this new post, I am amazed by the pain that I feel. No, I’m not seriously injured, but I recently did do something stupid. But it was worth it!
My family and I live in Ohio, where we recently received a large snowfall and very cold temperatures. Since Sunday was such a beautiful day, I took five of my children to the large hill in our town called Reber’s bottom, which is perfect for sledding! My three-year-old daughter, Eva, wanted to go down but would only go with me. So I went with her, which was a big mistake! Halfway down I realized that I would pay for it the next morning, for my backside and back quickly began to hurt. We got to the bottom of the hill safely (Thank You, God!), and I realized, “Oh boy, I need to walk up this hill.” Then reality really set in: I had to carry my three-year-old halfway up the hill. Now my legs, back, and arm were feeling the burn! Yet I went down that hill two or three more times with our friends and the kids.
By Thursday of that week, I was still in pain, which brought to mind a couple points. First, I realized that my unusual physical exertion was symbolic of a Christian’s spiritual life. We only read and study God’s Word when it is convenient or necessary. This practice is like my using my physical body once in awhile, although I should exercise daily.
Despite the pain, this sledding experience allowed me to spend time with my kids, which makes all the pain worthwhile. They begged me to take them sledding and were thrilled that I did it with them. Spending this quality time with my kids also led me to consider our relationship with the God of the universe. When I am able to do something special with my kids, they love it, for they go crazy — tackling me, hanging onto my legs, and sometimes simply mobbing me. There are many times, however, that they need me to simply be still and hold them.
I believe our Heavenly Father wants to receive such attention from us. He wants us to go out of our way to spend time with Him in His Word. He wants us to pray to Him by speaking, listening, and simply being still in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He also delights in our loving each other. Although I often fail, I work at it every day, as I hope you all do as well. I encourage you: Take some time this week to cultivate the most important relationship of your life — your relationship with Jesus Christ.
How can you let Christ know this week that you love Him?
For further reading, consider Matthew 5:1-12.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 19, 2009 1 comments
Last week I recounted how the film WALL[E] really affected me and discussed the lessons that we can learn from the story.
This week I will focus on what I believe is the best film of 2008. Like WALL[E], I was not expecting anything great from this film.
No, it is not Batman: The Dark Knight. Surprisingly, the movie is. . . (drum roll please)…
From start to finish I was blown away! The graphics were spectacular, but the message was even better. Although the connection I am going to make may at first seem far-fetched, please bare with me. As I watched the film, many controversial thoughts rose to the surface of my mind: Is the church as we know it really the way that it is supposed to be? Is the corporate and business-like institution that it has become of God or of men? Is this really the church that Jesus envisioned? These musings do not necessarily apply to all congregations. I am merely referring to the institutional methods that many churches push and how many Christians (including myself) have gotten caught up in these models. I may or may not be addressing your situation; you know if this applies to you. So I encourage you to watch this movie with these questions in mind.
Being a young, naïve youth worker, I used to believe that I was essentially a pastor to students and their families. They seemed to agree, for I would perform “pastoral duties,” and the families did not object. My senior pastor stressed that since I was considered a pastor, I should use my God-given gifts accordingly. I was hesitant at first because of my respect for the church and what it represents, but I gradually became comfortable with the idea due to the ministry that was happening in the community. Thus, many “ordained” pastors and I considered myself a pastor. As I was encouraged, I continued to try to use my gifts in a positive way for the Kingdom of God.
However, a few years ago my world was rocked! Well, it was more like a major earthquake. A senior pastor told me that I was not a pastor and was not even considered one, even though I was already performing pastoral duties. Confused, I asked why he believed this. He stated that since I had not received seminary training and was not ordained, I was not a pastor. (I am not bashing a seminary education. I am sure that it is fine teaching.)
He then informed me I was not qualified to baptize anyone or “bless” communion, even though I had already been doing so for several years. I asked him for an explanation of why I needed to be ordained. He simply stated that that was the church’s requirement. I wondered where this teaching is found in the Bible.
I wondered aloud, “Were Phillip and Peter ordained?” They both baptized people. He gave no reply, so I moved forward.
“Was John ordained?” He certainly baptized and offered communion. Once again, his reply was silence, I pressed on.
“And for that matter, was Jesus ordained?” Now he had an answer for me: “Well, He’s God. And the disciples were with Jesus, so it was acceptable for them.”
“What?!” I said. (I was thinking, “Are those words really coming out of your mouth?”) I continued, “I have a conversation with God everyday!”
Now, I am not trying to start a battle or divisions within the church. But let’s consider: what is the church? Is it Sunday morning in a building, singing a few songs and listening to the “professionals” sharing their wisdom? Or is it the Church, the body of Christ, living every day to bring glory to Christ in all that we do? Every day, everywhere we are, not just in a building. I believe Acts 2:42-47 is an example of what the Church is supposed to look like.
If you believe that I am out of line, please let me know. One of the reasons that I write this blog is to encourage discussion. We can discuss issues with gentleness and respect, as I Peter 3:15-16 encourages us. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I would love to hear from you.
Let me stress that whether or not you agree with my musings, my desire is to pursue the truth and expose any falsehood, so we can better serve Christ.
Let me explain how these questions arose from my watching Speed Racer. As my wife and I both watched it with our children, she looked over to me with tears in her eyes and asked, “Are you hearing this?” The words that were coming off the screen were so strangely familiar to us, so real, that we had to stop the movie and rewind it just to make sure that we were hearing it correctly. At one point in the movie, Racer X (considered the villain until we see the whole truth) and Speed are treated unfairly; causing Speed to wonder if racing is worth all of the difficulties. Racer X and Speed then have a dialogue about the racing industry:
Speed: Racing hasn’t changed, and it never will.
Racer X: It doesn’t matter if racing never changes. What matters is if we let racing change us. Every one of us has to find a reason to do this. You don’t climb into a T180 (car) to be a driver. You do it because you are driven.
Speed: If you know so much, why don’t you tell me why I should keep driving?
Racer X: Sorry — that’s for you to figure out. I just hope when you do, that I’m there to see it.
This scene led my wife and me to consider our journey with Christ. Throughout the movie, I identified with Racer X. I almost let the institution change who I am in Christ. I almost let this “beast” tame me, as I began to fall into the mundane and the status quo cliques. But praise God — He woke me up from this stupor to face reality. Somewhat like in the movie, the Matrix, in Speed Racer everyone was simply happy with normalcy.
Another scene that stood out to me is the final race. Speed Racer is not welcome in the race because he is going to ruin the plans of the powers-that-be to make money promoting their engine to the world. Through much adversity, Speed Racer passes each driver and is finally battling the best driver on the circuit, Cannonball Taylor. Taylor tries to win by cheating but is discovered by the onlookers and finally crashes. The truth begins to come out.
This scene is given significance by an earlier scene that astounded my wife and me. In that scene, Speed speaks with his father, Pops, about doing something to reveal the truth about the racing industry. Pops tells him, “If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get.”
Speed asks, “How? . . . How can we fight this?”
Pops concludes, “The truth will come out.”
My wife and I are excited because we believe that the truth is slowly coming out. It has been a long, hard road, which may only get more difficult. However, God does not call us to a comfortable life.
Doing this type of ministry has been exciting, difficult, and crazy at times. But no matter what, we are committed to completing this journey. We believe that we have been called to a ministry of lifting up the body of Christ and, when necessary, helping her tackle the difficult issues. I believe these are two aspects of the calling of the body of Christ, the Church.
Know that we at Worldview Warriors are here for you. More importantly, God is here for you, as we all walk this journey of the Christian life.
Let me close with one more thought. Over the years, I have been in dialogue with many pastors over the “church” issue and the pastoral issue. Surprisingly, many of them agree with my assessment of the situation but are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their credentials and retirement. Ladies and gentlemen, fear God and not man!
I had actually considered becoming a pastor for awhile. However, I could not understand the need to get a piece of paper in order to legitimize what I was already doing. Since I believe that leaders are learners, I did begin to research that path and started thinking in this institutionalized way. I almost sold out. Before I go on, I know that some of you have been called into pastoral ministry within this “institution.” You may also want to help change the church’s mindset from the inside. (I was under the leadership of one of those awesome men.) If that is your desire, I applaud you and want to encourage you to go for it! Do not wait, for the longer you wait, the more you will change. If you are planning to go into pastoral ministry, I encourage you to remind the bride of Christ of her calling.
In Speed Racer, the rich sponsor, Royalton, says, “Racing has nothing to do with cars or drivers.” Instead, he says that it is about money and power. Then he asks Speed, “Are you ready to be a real race car driver?!” And to that I say, “No!”
Everyone, let’s become the Church of Christ that we have been called to be. Amen and so be it!
Here is some further reading for your consideration:
• Acts 2 (especially verses 42–47)
• Acts 3 (Are you witnessing in the streets? We are called to it.)
• Matthew 28:18–20
• I Corinthians 6:1–8 (Something to think about. Should we be wronged? The truth will eventually come out.)
• Matthew 5, 6 and 7.
Many of you may or may not know that I am a movie buff. I’m not a huge one, but I enjoy relaxing to a movie with my family or even sitting down to watch Jackie Chan for the 10th time. I just love movies!
Two movies in 2008 stood out to me not only as great entertainment, but also as stories with a poignant message from which to learn and teach. In this first installment, I will be writing about that adorable strong man and intergalactic superhero — no, I’m not talking about Hancock or Iron Man, but none other than… Wall(e).
Yes, Wall(e). I was hesitant to even watch this movie because of what I had heard from others and from what I had perceived would be nothing more than a brain-washing statement on the danger of global warming and a thoroughly politically-correct “green” message.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find, I believe, a diamond in the rough. Behind all of its comedy and cuteness is a serious lesson for students and adults alike. Let me explain one truth that I recognized. At one point in the movie, we are introduced to humans who are on a spaceship. They are all overly obese, excessively entertained, and completely self-indulged on food, convenience, and communication. It was an eerily realistic representation of the way that many of us Americans live. It led me to consider: Have we become so carnal, self-absorbed, and self-centered that we don’t even see the truth anymore? I believe the answer is, “yes.” My own life is included in that answer. (For further reflection, listen to our podcasts with Dan Schilling on Oct. 27, Nov. 2, and Nov. 9, 2008. They will equip you to have a kingdom mindset for life.)
“Black Friday,” the shopping day after Thanksgiving, is a perfect example of the blind carnality and self-absorption that many of us have. A Christian friend of mine told me that on Black Friday, he dove for one of the three remaining laptops for the sale price of $299. (Ok, I probably would have done the same thing, but does this attitude glorify Christ?) The entertainment industry wades in the desire of Christians and non-Christians alike to escape from reality through entertainment. For instance, game companies now flood the market with board games about television shows. Instead of actually playing tennis, bowling, or exercising, we now play a sport on our TV and equate it with the real thing.
Rather than getting only a regular size soda, we “build a bigger barn,” and order what seems to be a keg of soda just for one sitting. And we presume that that is normal.
Here’s more proof: My father was recently in McDonald’s to purchase two chicken sandwiches, a small fry, and two small drinks for himself and me for lunch. The man behind him handed the cashier a coupon for a chicken sandwich and told her, “They usually let me get three with this.” Let me tell you that this man certainly was not in need of three sandwiches, if you know what I mean. However, since he was with a couple of people, we supposed that the sandwiches were for them. After the cashier’s approval, the man pulled out three more coupons for three sandwiches each, for a grand total of twelve sandwiches, and ordered fries, drinks, etc. Thus, the three of them sat down to devour their feast.
I think you get the point. Some of you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? They had the money, and McDonald’s approved it. So why write about that?” Despite the obvious fact that such a habit is unhealthy, here’s the truth that I am trying to convey for you to ponder: Have we, as the Church, gotten so complacent that we just want to be entertained and spoon-fed from the pulpit? For those of you in small churches, have you become numb to winning people to Christ or so focused on your “club” that you think that baby baptism and confirmation are enough to be a Christian? You may go to church services every Sunday morning just to get your spiritual charge for the week, to gorge yourself on the biblical message to last you until next week.
But do you care to live your faith during the week?
Another truth is portrayed in a poignant scene near the end of Wall(e), in which the captain of the ship is speaking to the ship’s auto-pilot robot. The captain wants to return to earth, but the auto-pilot informs him that he has been warned against that, in order for the human race to survive. The captain plaintively responded, “But I don’t want to survive! I want to live!” Even in his comfortable, mundane existence, the captain realized that there must be more to life than mere survival.
We need to realize that God has so much more for us than just survival in the life that He has given us. Now those of you in large churches also need to be aware of your attitude toward church. In a busy, active church, it is easy to get lost in Sunday morning services and programs that fill your time throughout the week and forget that there is so much more to the Christian life.
Live the Christian life! Get into ministry opportunities right where you are. But don’t contain “ministry” just within the walls of your church building. Go out into the world, as the disciples did after Jesus went home to heaven. They were merely following His example, though: He ministered right where He was in the everyday world. Don’t remain locked away in some church athletic program or a cliquey Sunday school class. Actually, when Jesus went to the temple, He questioned the status quo and seemed to challenge the hypocrisy that the institution had become. Jesus did not challenge God and His ways, but He challenged the man-made, man-instituted rules that they were placing upon the people. Perhaps it is time to follow Christ’s example. He did not challenge people and their practices to be a jerk or a problem. I believe He genuinely wanted people to search for the truth.
What about you? Are you tired of the mundane and the table scraps you are receiving? I know I am. Do you feel like you’re just surviving? Your needs, wants, and whatever else you can think of are being met, but are you truly living? Are you living the adventure that God has in store for you? Maybe living for God has become just a religion or a list of rules to fulfill your obligations to the Supreme Being and others. If it does, you might need to reevaluate your relationship with God.
Are you ready to live for Christ with a reckless abandon, not worrying about yourself or what others think about you? I know my family and I are, and we want to welcome you to join us in this adventure for Christ. Live the adventure of a lifetime serving Christ where you are, no matter where that is and no matter your circumstances. Next week, I will tell you my favorite movie of the year. No, it’s not Prince Caspian or a story about a Dark Knight.
As I sit down to write this I am listening to one of the best bands ever, Five Iron Frenzy. You should go check 'em out if you have not heard them. They are amazing and really encourage me in my walk with Christ. They are fun, weird and near as I can tell love Jesus Christ. My favorite song is, "Every New Day." I am also thinking how thankful I am for God's grace and provision. Without it my family and I wouldn't be where we are today.
When my wife, Jaya, and I made this decision to go full time with Worldview Warriors in June of 2007 we had no idea how stress-filled and crazy things would be. We also didn't know how rewarding and joy-filled it would be either. Isn't that just like God? He wants us to live life and to live it to the full. As it says in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." You notice that it doesn't say everything will be easy or perfect it says that, "in all things". The good, the bad and the ugly.
Unfortunately, we do not live in perfection anymore (See Genesis 1 & 2). We live in a fallen world by our own choosing (See Genesis 3). So, bad and evil things now happen. However, our heavenly father wants to give us good gifts. HE STILL WANTS TO GIVE US GOOD GIFTS!! Yes, even on this side of eternity. Check this out in Matthew 7:7-12, Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
Isn't that amazing?! Even though we as the human race have basically told God get out of our lives, He's still there wanting to give us good gifts in this life. Now, we are called to hear His teachings and obey them. That is the tough part but really it isn't. Let me explain.
I have six children. Two boys and four girls. I want all of them to succeed in all that they do. If I could put my thoughts and past experiences into their minds I would do it. This would help them to see why I don't want them to do certain things and why other things are perfectly okay. I absolutely know things that they do not because I have experienced them. Things like: Love, Pain, Emotional Hurt, What honesty and integrity looks like, Betrayal and Joy to name a few.
Since I have experienced them I know what to look for in people and in certain situations. I have the experience. I can disciple them in Jesus Christ and His ways. I want them to experience the best of everything. However, they are their own people. I cannot force them to do anything. They can only choose to do the right thing or what I teach them to do. They must choose for themselves this day whom they will serve. (Joshua 24:15)
Kind of like you.
You have to choose whom you will serve. God has been very clear that you are to honor and obey your parents. Once you move out of the house and are truly on your own, you no longer need to obey your parents BUT you still need to honor them. Think about this, they love you more than anyone on the planet! Why would they want to hurt you? Please listen to them. Honor and obey them.
Now, some of you do have parents that are not following God and His ways. What do you do with that? Some of you are in foster care or are in a situation where you live part of the time with mom and the other part with dad. I encourage you to pray even harder to your heavenly father for guidance. Ask him for wisdom. A divided house is a very hard situation. I am truly sorry that you are even in that situation. I believe that it was not God's plan but He has allowed it to happen for some reason.
Remember Romans 8:28? No matter where you are at in your journey of life seek God out! Also, remember that we (Worldview Warriors) are here to help you in your walk with Jesus Christ. We truly care for you. Let us know if we can do anything for you, EVER.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. - Philippians 1:21