No one talks about the son who stayed at home

I sat and talked with a friend the other day. We were talking about life, faith, and stories. As I shared about another friend of mine who has majorly turned his life around, he said “Joel, I’ve grown up my whole life in church, I’ve never partied, I never even touched alcohol until I was 21, I never did drugs, I’m not married, so I’ve never had sex, I’ve never majorly screwed up. I’ve always done exactly what the church has taught me to do. And I feel like that’s not good enough. Like I don’t have a story to tell.”

He paused for a moment and drew a breath as his eyes moistened. Then, with his voice quivering, continued,

“I hear people talk about all these people who are turning their life around, who used to be really bad, and everyone celebrates them. But here I am, and no one even mentions how well I’ve done at keeping all the things that Jesus commands and the church tells us. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t have a story to tell, that I have nothing to say that is worth listening to.” Continue reading

Advertisements

Innocence

I read a great article by Andrew Byers, and I wish I had saved the link so I could direct you to it, but he was talking about purity as a Christian in today’s culture of so much violence, sex, and nudity, and what does that look like.

He starts off by talking about how as a Christian culture, we try so hard to be relevant, that we don’t want to be known as “prude”, because then we are afraid of becoming “out of touch”. But then he makes this point:

“Did Jesus say in Matthew 5:8, “Out-of-touch are the pure in heart,” or did He call them “Blessed”?

“Be wise as serpents, and as culture-savvy as the average viewer”? Or is it, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”? (Matthew 10:16).”
~ Andrew Byers

“My point, rather, is that innocence is precious and preserving it is not a vice. It is OK for us to be offended by the offensive. We are not to be moralistic [one who teaches or promotes morality], but we are called to be moral. Scripture beckons us to purity (Matthew 5:8), to wholesome speech (Ephesians 4:29), to honoring the sanctity of the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), to discerning good and evil (Romans 12:2). Somehow, we need to learn how to be culture-savvy and yet also innocent as doves.” ~Andrew Byers

It’s ok for something we see on television to offend us, for us to want to turn away from watching something. We shouldn’t be ashamed of saying “I’m not going to watch this”. It’s scriptural. That isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it should be encouraged and we need to be ok with that.

But he acknowledges that everyone is different, and some people don’t have the same convictions as us… Continue reading

Differences Make Us Strong

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b] faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:4-8, NIV

Tonight at our guys bible study, we read through Romans 12. I had a note saved in my phone saying “We are all created different, and that is ok, even good”.

It got me thinking, as I look at my group of friends, I realized while we all have 2 really big things in common, a heart after God, and a love for adventure, after that, the similarities end, until you get to the really minor stuff.

For example, I’m a nerd, I love computers, filming, photography, websites, graphic design, etc. I have no interest in sports, boxing, or almost anything athletic (except ultimate frisbee, I am a beast at ultimate frisbee), I’m a creative, but I’m not good a coming up with new ideas, only refining ones already in existence, am a HUGE introvert, and I don’t like beer.

Then you have Cameron, my best friend. Continue reading

Life to the Full

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10, NIV

How often do we hear this scripture quoted in church? And we focus so much on that first part. “The thief (read Satan, or Devil) comes only to steal kill and destroy”. We stop there. We talk about how we have to fight the devil, resist him so he will flee from us. But life is so much more than just resisting the devil. Continue reading

Faith

In our world, especially the Christian world, we throw around this term “faith” a lot. You see it everywhere. Phrases like “just have faith”, “put your faith in Jesus”, or “it’s a matter of faith”…

But what is faith? Continue reading

Loose Lips Sink Ships

“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:16 (NIV)

I’ve been doing a lot reading and bible studying about the topic of “gossip”.

We christians love our gossip, thought that’s not what we call it. We call it “sharing a concern for prayer”.

Bull. Continue reading

The Edge of Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

I don’t really like discomfort. I don’t think anyone does.

Some of us find comfort in different things, so things that are uncomfortable for me, are very comfortable for others.

But life is boring when you are comfortable.

Think about it. If you sit in a big, comfy, chair all day, every day, what happens to you? You get fat. You become lethargic. Apathetic. You stop living. You die early.

Getting up and running or doing something physical isn’t comfortable. But it is so necessary for life.

The same is true of us mentally and spiritually. If we never get up and do something to exercise our brains, our spirit, our souls, then we become comfortable, and eventually we get spiritually fat, lethargic, apathetic, and lifeless.

Your life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. You need to get out beyond what you want to do, what you feel comfortable with.

Take a risk.

Do something dangerous.

Be wild.

Be crazy.

It’s the crazy ones who push to the edge of their comfort zone, and beyond, that will change the world.

God Speaks Through Shuffle

Today’s post is going to be short, since I don’t know that I have a whole lot to say on the subject…

Have you ever found yourself driving in your car, listening to your iPod while it is on shuffle and the perfect song for whatever you are going through comes on? Continue reading

Generosity

“Your degree of generosity is not measured by how much you give, it is measured by how much you have left over after you give.” – Jay Link

This reminds me of the story when Jesus was talking to his disciples about the woman who only put 2 coins in when everyone else was dropping lots of money. He commended her, for while everyone else was putting so much more than she did, they were only giving their tithe, their 10%, she gave everything she had 100%.

True generosity requires a bit of sacrifice on your part. If it doesn’t really cost you anything, then you’ve not really given anything up. Only when you are giving something up for someone else, when it really costs you something substantial, is it truly generous.

Do you consider yourself a generous person? When you hold yourself to the standard of it’s not about how much you give, but how much you have left, are you still generous? Take a look at that, and challenge yourself on it…

Writing A Better Story

I have had a few people who couldn’t be there when I spoke at Amplify Youth Ministry a few weeks ago ask me for my notes, so today, I figured I would share them with you all who wanted them. I hope you enjoy 🙂

Continue reading