According to the Riches of His Grace

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…" -Ephesians 1:7-8

Category: Uncategorized

What is Fellowship?

img_2963

When I was in college, a group of friends and I would go on a monthly basis to a Captain D’s restaurant close to our campus for lunch. We called it, “The Captain D’s Club”. I can remember one day they were going there to eat and I didn’t want to eat there that day. One of the guys in the group said, “Just come for the fellowship.”

On Sunday nights in the fall and spring, my roommate and I watch “The Walking Dead” in the lobby of the building we live in. About five others come to watch it, some because they are fans of the show. Others come, admitting they don’t like the show. I have heard one of them say before, “I don’t like the show. I’m just coming for the fellowship.”

The word “fellowship” has become a term that Christians use to describe any time they gather together. Any time two or more Christians are in a room together, it is called “fellowship.”

However, the Scriptures have a deeper meaning than this. Fellowship in the Bible is not simply a social event. While two Christians eating at Chick-Fil-A can be fellowship, it is not necessarily fellowship.

What is “Fellowship”

The Bible describes the early church days after the ascension of Jesus as being devoted to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers. (Acts 2:42) But this fellowship is something different than how most Christians speak of it today.

The word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word “Koinonia”. If a person only knows one Greek word, it may be this one. But the meaning of the word is far lost.

Primarily, “Koinonia” has to do with a partnership in something or mutual participation. However, it has even been used to describe sexual intercourse. [1] Koinonia has to do with a deep intimacy of two or more people working together with a common goal in mind. It is never the same thing as simply socializing over a sports team, fried fish, or “The Walking Dead.” It is much deeper.

What does this mean?

In view of this, how many Christians truly know genuine fellowship? It’s not socializing. It is more of a unity of Spirit that is derived from knowledge of Christ and pursuit of His mission in the world.

Fellowship may include socializing, but it is socializing about the things of God; not  things of the world. Fellowship is about growing us and edifying us to be stronger in our faith. It is something that carries on to go somewhere.

Fellowship sanctifies us. In Eph 4, Paul speaks of unity of the body. He speaks of pastors equipping the saints for the work of ministry (which includes fellowship), “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)

This is where every Christian is going. God plans to continue doing a work in them until Christ returns. (Phil 1:6) Fellowship helps this happen.

The Goal in Mind

Fellowship is not small talk. It has a vision in mind. Its end goal is closer conformity to Jesus for both the individual Christian and for the church. So the next time you call your lunch at Chick-Fil-A a fellowship, ask yourself the question, “Is this going to make the people I’m with more like Jesus? Will they know God more from this time together?” If it’s not seeking their sanctification and if it’s not about the things of God, it’s not fellowship.

[1] http://www.greekbible.com/l.php?koinwni/a_n—–dsf-_

On Setting a New Years Resolution

GOAL

I love the final day of the year because I always take a time during the day to reflect on everything that happened in the year. I read all of my journal entrees, I scroll through every Facebook post, tweet, and Instagram picture, I review my preaching schedule from the year and think about each of those times I preached. I spend time reflecting on the things I have done over the course of the year and how the Lord has worked in me from Jan 1 to Dec 31.

As 2016 approaches, it is the perfect time to look at the previous year and think about the upcoming year. A question we can ask ourselves is, how can we change? What do we want to do differently in the coming year than we did in the previous?

I have been going to the same fitness gym since I was twelve and January is always an interesting time. On January 1st, the place begins to flood with new faces. In about February or March, most of those faces disappear. Why? People set a New Years Resolution to lose weight or get in shape and it didn’t stick. Why didn’t it stick?

I believe that many people would do better at their New Years Resolutions if they made the resolution more measurable. There is no way to track and see how I am doing when my New Years Resolution is “Get in shape.” What is your definition of “in shape”? Is it getting rock hard abs or simply not getting out of breath as easily?

When I plan for the coming year, I don’t necessarily call them resolutions. I call them goals. On December 31 for the last couple years, I have sat down and come up with goals for the following year. As today goes, I am working on my 2016 Goals. Here are some of them:

-Journal at least once a week (52 times total)

-See 20 movies you’ve never seen before

-Run 250 miles

-Read 50 books

These aren’t all of my goals for the year, but they are some I am shooting for. I may not make each one of them and that is okay. When Dec 31, 2016 arrives, I can at least see how close I got.

Do you see how these goals are measurable? No matter the month of 2016, I can look at my goals for the year and keep track of them and see how I am doing on each one of them. I can’t do that as well if my goal is “Run more” or “See more movies.” There is just no way to measure that.

Keep in mind that as you set New Years Resolutions, make them as specific as possible. The more specific they are, the more likely you will be able to watch your progress and the more likely you will stick with it because you can be encouraged at the progress you are making.

8 Things to Consider Before Writing Christian Content Online

keyboard and hand

I’ve been writing online for at least 3 years. Before this blog, I had another one that is not in existence anymore. I use social media as a means of sharing truths about the Christian faith. Many of my tweets and Facebook posts are Christian related.

On a daily basis, I see Christian things written on the internet, whether blogs, articles, or just Facebook statuses that are terrible. I’m not meaning that in a critical way. I’m not saying they don’t necessarily know what they are trying to say. Their theology could be really good. They could have a good heart in it. But writing is an art form. If you don’t do it correctly, the results could be damaging to you, the view of the Christian faith, and the view of the church.

In the time that I have been writing Christian content, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been very arrogant. I’ve criticized the church in ways that I shouldn’t have. I’ve made my posts a place for me to vent my anger instead of glorify God. And I still make a lot of mistakes today.

So I want to offer 8 things to remember before you post Christian content online in hopes that you won’t make those mistakes.

1. It’s Not For Everyone

This is of first importance. God gives Christians different gifts. Some of us have the gift of hospitality. Some have the gift of preaching and teaching. Some have the gift of music. Some have the gift of knowledge. Some have the gift of writing. If you don’t have that gift, maybe you should just refrain from writing Christian stuff online. I understand you want to express your faith and you should use the gifts God has given you to do that. Don’t try to use a gift God hasn’t given you. If someone didn’t have the gift of preaching, I’d never want them to express their faith behind a pulpit. That could be disastrous. The same with writing.

2. Be Careful of Every Word

Every word you write will play an impact on how people read your stuff. Just think if the writers of Scripture had written their message in a different way, using completely different words. We’d still have the story of Jesus, but we’d arguably view it in a different way. Ultimately, everybody perceives words differently. What you write as a normal sentence could come off as very condemning to a reader. Don’t post anything Christian online without making sure every word doesn’t come off wrong and correctly tells the message you are trying to.

3. Be Mindful of How People Will Look at You

People view me in all kinds of different ways because I write Christian content online. Some view me as a super-Christian who never does anything wrong. Some view me as a guy with way too much time on my hands. Some view me as a know-it-all. Some view me as a really smart guy. I honestly don’t like having any of these views attached to me, but ultimately, if you take up a ministry of writing Christian content online, it will affect the way people look at you.

4. Avoid People Pleasing

There are a lot of times that I post things on Facebook that I take down within the next five minutes because I did it for the wrong reason. I did it, not to glorify God. I did it because I was hoping it would get a lot of likes. Sometimes, I’ve even hoped certain people would like it, perhaps a certain girl. If you want to post Christian stuff online, you have to avoid the luring temptation of trying to please people instead of pleasing God.

5. Less is More

Along with writing being an art form, getting people to read your entire article is a skill very few have. I have a ton of friends who write blogs that are great, but I rarely read all of the article that they post because it is too long. We must recognize the fact that most people in today’s time do not have a very long attention span. I have a minor in Journalism and one of the things we were taught in regards to blogs is that if a person has to scroll more than 2 or 3 times, they probably won’t finish reading the article. A skill you need to work to acquire is that you can present your message in as few words as possible.

6. Avoid Post-Event Ranting

There was a time when I had a blog that I basically used to vent my frustrations at American Christianity. My most common time to post blogs was Sunday at 2:00 pm. I would come home from church, frustrated with something a pastor had said, something I had heard a church member say, or just something I noticed at church. And so, I would sinfully assume that that represented the entire church of the United States and write a ranting blog post about why American Christians needed to start following Jesus because they weren’t doing it right now. If you get frustrated about something related to Christianity, give yourself some time to cool down. Then, when you are cooled down, either you won’t feel the need to write the content anymore, or you will be calm enough that you can do it with tenderness instead of rashness.

7. Beware of a Critical Spirit

Two of my spiritual gifts are knowledge and preaching. Sometimes, that can make one arrogant. So, at times, I have a very critical spirit. The Lord is working in me with that, but it’s still there. And, a lot of writers have that as well. You’ve seen those articles going around Facebook, right? “10 songs we should stop singing in church”, “8 reasons people aren’t singing in church”, “12 reasons your church is unbiblical”, “5 reasons you aren’t a Christian if you’re not a Calvinist”, “25 reasons your spiritual life stinks to God”.

If you write Christian things, you have to be careful that you don’t attack the bride of Christ. I don’t know many husbands that like it when someone speaks against their wife. Your job is not to tear down the church, it’s to build it up. If what your saying can’t spur the church on to growth through love and encouragement, maybe you should not post it.

8. It’s Just Seed Planting

You must recognize that you probably aren’t going to see someone come to faith in Jesus based on something you post online. It’s a good prayer and all things are definitely possible with God, so it’s not necessarily not going to happen. But typically, it’s not how people surrender to Jesus. It takes more work than that. But posting Christian stuff online definitely is a way to plant seeds and begin work among people who don’t know Jesus.

Many Have Already Been “Left Behind”

7645d926b1acff61607dae2f7949136c8aeb7cc1

Today, the new Left Behind film released to theaters. You should check out Christianity Today’s review of the film before you go see it.

Let me tell you my story with Left Behind. I used to be obsessed with the series. I read the 12 books in high school for several book projects and made corny little short films for the projects set in the Left Behind world featuring me and some of my classmates (in which I played the main guy left behind, Jesus, and the Antichrist all in the same film).

In fact, had it not been for the Left Behind series, I wouldn’t be a Christian. The first films connected me to Kirk Cameron’s evangelism ministry in which I watched and became a Christian from his presentation of the Gospel. So I am thankful for the series.

Theologically, I don’t really agree with the sort of eschatology that the series presents anymore, but that’s not what this post is about. Frankly, very little, if any, of the ministry I do on a daily basis has anything to do with the rapture, a 7 year tribulation, the antichrist, or the number 666.

My worry is that many Christians have already been left behind whether Jesus has returned or not. The reason I say this is because of a major misunderstanding of all of this.

The message of the New Testament is constantly this: Jesus could return at any time, so make sure you are faithfully working for him while you wait.

Think of it this way. A manager has been gone for lunch from a business and the employees decide that they will slack off while he is gone and just pretend to be working hard when they see him coming back into the building. But he doesn’t come in the front door that day; he comes in the back. They didn’t see him. He comes up to the front and sees all the employees slacking off.

Those employees who were slacking off are going to be in trouble. They might get fired.

This is why I worry that many Christians have already been left behind. Because American Christianity has reduced being ready for the return of Jesus to watching the news and connecting the news stories with what the Bible says.

But let’s take a look at those signs:

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,  for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:3-14)

What do you see there? It’s not wars and persecution in Syria that signals the end of the world. It’s not the outbreak of Ebola or earthquakes in Myanmar.

It’s actually not until the end of this passage that Jesus says that the end will come. And what is the sign of that? When the Gospel has reached all the nations.

Later in Matthew, Jesus gives the Great Commission where he says, “Go and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19).

Nations is used the same way in both of these passages. In the Greek, it is rendered “ethnos” which means people groups. A people group is any group of people living in an area. They can be based on language, culture, religion, or many other things. Multiple nations (people groups) exist in every country of the world.

Statistically, there are over 16,000 known people groups in the world. Of those, over 7,000 are classified as “unreached”, meaning there aren’t enough Christians, if any, in the area to evangelize the people group.

What does all of this mean? It means that there are still over 7,000 nations that have not heard the good news of the Kingdom as Jesus said would happen before the end. I have no idea when Jesus will return. But I think there is still a lot of work to be done.

So, Christians, don’t get left behind. Jesus said reach all nations with the Gospel, so go do it. Maybe you should go to another country for it (as people often think when talking about missions) but maybe you should go to your next door neighbors.

Our primary job is not to connect the news stories on CNN to verses in the Bible. Our job is to share the Gospel with people, that we are all really bad sinners and Christ has bore all the sins of the world on himself and taken the punishment for them. Now, all who receive him will receive forgiveness and eternal life. We are to call people to believe that and then walk beside them as they follow Jesus. That’s what making disciples is.

So don’t be the employee that is slacking off when the manager returns. Be the one who is joyfully doing his job in faithfulness. Don’t get left behind.

The King is coming. When the clouds roll back and he descends, we will see his face and all will be right in the world. Until then, it’s not and there is a job to do. Go and make disciples of all the nations.

Why We Have More Time Than We Give Ourselves Credit For

hour-glass

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We have more time than we think. I often hear people say (especially college students like me), “I don’t have enough time!” I say that myself quite often. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I only have a part time job, and I have maybe 2 people currently in my life that I spend time with regularly, but I tell myself, “I don’t have time.”

We have a lot of time that we just waste and then don’t remember it later. We all have the same amount of time.

The call of Scripture is “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) So followers of Jesus are to use their time in the best way possible for the Lord. However, it’s probably a good attitude even for non-Christians to not waste time.

So, let’s calculate our free time, shall we? (Using my schedule, but you can implement your own)

There are 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. So we all have 168 hours a week.

If you sleep 8 hours a night, you sleep 56 hours a week. This takes you down to having 112 hours a week.

I take 9 hours of class a week. This takes me down to 103 hours a week.

At my current job, I work 10 hours a week. This takes me down to 93 hours a week.

I have two chapel services to attend on campus a week, each 1 hour long. This takes me down to 91 hours a week.

We can throw in that I probably eat for around 7 hours a week (30 minutes a meal for lunch and dinner.) This takes me down to 84 hours a week.

I spend 2 hours a week in church on Sunday mornings. This takes me down to 82 hours a week.

And the grand total comes down to me having 82 hours a week free.

Even if you work 40 hours a week, instead of the 10 that I currently do, that still puts you at 52 hours a week (61, if you don’t have the class that I do).

So, maybe you ask, where does the time go? I can’t rightly say that I don’t have enough time, when I have nearly three and a half days worth of unscheduled time every week.

The truth is, we spend our time doing things that we forget about later. We spend hours mindlessly surfing the internet, looking at our phones, watching television, or staring at the walls.

So let’s start using our time for meaningful things. Let’s use our time to build relationships, to impact lives, to love God, to love our neighbor. I have nearly half a week of time to do incredible things for God, yet I often tell him that I don’t have time to do it.

I can’t keep saying that I don’t have time. Can you?

Word Up!

The New Testament is full of language of how Christians are supposed to talk toward one another. Here are a few examples:

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

So encourage each other with these words.” -1 Thessalonians 4:18

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” -Ephesians 4:29

We love that preacher who will get up in front of a crowd and talk about how bad Christians are doing. “You need to get out of Facebook and get into the Book! You don’t pray enough! You should be evangelizing more! You are not giving enough effort in your walk!”

Certainly, there are times when it is necessary to rebuke and correct. However, we hear this kind of teaching and we start thinking about how terrible everyone around us is doing in their walk and we boast internally to ourselves that this guy is talking about all of them. We hear this kind of talk and we yell, “Preach it, brother!”

But if a speaker gets on the stage and encourages the audience in their walk. If he tells them that they are doing well, the crowd isn’t so entertained. Now, I understand, sometimes this can be bad. Just recently, Joel Osteen’s wife got on stage and “encouraged” everyone to do good  for themselves because God is happy when we do things for ourselves.

However, there is such a lack of encouragement among Christians. We are really good at being critical of others. But we rarely encourage one another in the Lord to continue following after Jesus.

So do that. Think about people you know who are doing well in their walk with Jesus and go encourage them to continue in him. Based on the New Testament, that is what the church community is for: To encourage one another because Christ’s return is near!

How We Over-Spiritualize Our Lives

A few days ago, I got a massive headache. This was a bad one. It lasted nearly 48 hours and never let up. I’ll bet I took 20 Ibuprofen in that 48 hour span (pray for my liver) trying to get rid of it.

So what did I do? The same thing I always do when I have a problem with my body. Google it to try to figure out how to get rid of it. I’m sure I’m not the only person who does that, but it’s a habit that may cause you problems. I found something called “Computer Vision Syndrome” which is what I deduced that it was. CDS occurs when you look at screens (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) too long, resulting in headaches, neck aches, and sleeping problems. I work as a cashier currently, so I am always looking at a computer screen. I have also been watching LOST like crazy, trying to finish it before seminary. (I said in an earlier blog post that I had given up watching LOST because it was causing problems in my walk, but after a few weeks, that got worked out.)

Desperate to get the pain to go away, I shut my computer and cell phone off and said that I wasn’t going to look at them for a couple of days until the pain went away. This left me with little to do. I couldn’t read either, because it would strain my eyes. I actually sat in my room for about an hour singing songs from a hymnal because everything I typically do in free time involves a screen or reading.

I was convinced that God had given me this headache in order to help me depend more on him, as that is not something I typically have to do here at home too much, because it’s so comfortable.

After a couple days, the pain was still there. So another thought came into my head. “I have a brain tumor.” So, I thought to myself, God must be planning to bring me home soon to be with Jesus. So, subconsciously, I started planning, in the event that I was right, how in the last 3 months that the doctor would give me to live, I would go around to various churches preaching a message on Philippians 1:21 “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” This was going to be the purpose for which my last few months were lived out in life for the glory of Christ.

Then it hit me. Earlier that week, I had decided to fast from caffeine for a few days, just because I haven’t fasted much lately, so it was a discipline I wanted to do. So, I went from having several cups of coffee a day to none. I googled caffeine headaches and it exactly described what was happening to me. It also said they can last up to 9 days! So, I decided to quit the fast earlier than intended and I drank 2 cups of coffee and a glass of iced tea. As my body was shaking from so much caffeine, the headache went away.

So the headache really served no spiritual purpose whatsoever. It was just that my body didn’t have the caffeine that it was used to.

I tell you that really long story to show you how I can sometimes over-spiritualize my life. And I am sure I’m not the only one who does that. Christians all around do it. For me, it is an immaturity in my Christian walk that Christ has yet to fully sanctify me through, but he will.

We all do this. We make our lives more spiritual than they actually are. I believe God is sovereign over everything, but we can often assume that everything that happens to us has a super-spiritual purpose for us.

So, you get a head cold. I’m just going to be honest with you. It’s very, very unlikely that that head cold was sent to you to teach you some spiritual lesson. The truth is that sin has corrupted creation and we get head colds because it’s part of living in a sinful world.

I don’t know why we do this. I can kind of guess for me. I have a tendency to view myself as a main character in the world. I don’t purposefully do this. It just kind of happens. I do this in my pride. So, I read Scripture and see what seems like Peter or Paul being the main character of the world. The truth is they were just one of the ways God was working in the world, but it was the one that got recorded in the Bible. We don’t hear about the great discipleship that was happening in the church at Philippi or Thessalonica. We don’t even see the missionary work that the other apostles of Jesus were doing in the world. Just Paul.

So, as I am the biggest story I see in the world, I have a sinful tendency to assume that I am the main character of the story God is working on the world, so every small thing that happens to me must be this super spiritual thing. But it’s not. You and I are not the main characters of God’s story in the world. Jesus is. Everything in the story points to him as the star of the show. We are all supporting cast and guest stars that Jesus uses.

I don’t know why you over-spiritualize things in your life, but that is why I have a tendency to. Maybe it’s the same for you, but maybe it’s different. These are things that God is continuing to work out in me as I follow Jesus.

Is there another reason you over-spiritualize things?

Lessons Learned From Being a Pastoral Intern

The final day of my internship, delivering a sermon from Mark 8 titled "This is not a Drill."

The final day of my internship, delivering a sermon from Mark 8 titled “This is not a Drill.”

I worked as a pastoral intern at a church from May 12-July 13. It was definitely the best job I have worked and I learned so much from it. While I still have a really long way to go, I am much more prepared for future ministry than what I was in May. I preached eight times during the internship. I helped with several pastoral care visits. I was present in staff meetings. I helped lead children to Christ at VBS.

There are six main places that I grew or things I learned this summer while in my internship.

1. Form your own ministry identity

I remember when I first went into ministry, me and two of my friends (who are also going into ministry) were discussing who we were “the next of” after seeing each other preach. One of them was said to be Judah Smith, because he uses a lot of sports references, one was said to be Kyle Idleman, because he looks like him. I was said to be John Piper because I would yell “GLORY” a lot while preaching.

However, in this internship, I learned how much you have to form your own identity as a minister. Young ministers, you are not the next anybody. Your not David Platt, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Kevin DeYoung or any other famous minister. You are you. If you try and be them, it will be disastorous. If God had needed another one of those, he’d have made another on of those.

I would realize this so much as I would write sermons this summer and they would sound just like Matt Chandler. He is my favorite preacher and I watch his sermons a lot, so I sounded like him. I am still trying to find my own voice, but I am learning to go away from trying to be like any specific preacher.

2. The Celebrity Pastor

Having at one time wanted to be an actor, that carried over into my ministry career. I have wanted to be a celebrity pastor for a long time. Not like Joel Osteen, but I wanted to be one of those famous guys who writes book, goes around to speak at conferences, and has a church of 40,000. And if God still chooses to put me there, I will serve with joy. However, working in a church that was only around 600 divided between 3 services this summer, I have come to see that there is awesome work being done for the Gospel in all church sizes. Whatever my congregation size, I want to see disciples made.

3. Theology Reconsidered

For the past year or more, I have said quietly that I am reformed. What I mean by that is that if you were to ask me where I stand on the issue of reformed theology, I’d have told you I believe it, but I didn’t go around proclaiming it. If you don’t know what reformed theology is, it deals with a “high” view of God’s sovereignty, focuses heavily on predestination, and says that God’s chief end in doing anything is to bring more glory to himself. I had some conversations with various people this summer, connected to my internship, who provided me a view on the opposite side of this issue and I am now working through what I actually believe about them. It may be years before I work out everything.

There are many views of reformed theology that I still agree with, however, there are many questions that are now there that I just never considered before. If God predetermines every single detail (including where dust is in a room), how do we deal with the person who goes to hell? Is God’s goal really to glorify himself, or is it to pour out of his own glory for the benefit of others, resulting in him being glorified forever? I am reading various books on the topic right now and reading and praying through the key Bible passages on these topics and trying to see what conclusions I can come to.

4. Application Preaching

I have always really enjoyed preaching. It is one of my favorite things in ministry. However, I have always preached sermons that were heavily theological and didn’t have much application in them. These sermons leave people saying “Dude, that was a really awesome sermon.” or “Man, you are one of the smartest guys I know.” (even though I’m not). However, this summer, I really started to ask the question when I would write sermons of “How can this sermon help someone to love Jesus more and follow him better?” If you don’t answer that question while writing a sermon, at least in my opinion, it doesn’t do much to build up the church.

5. Church Planting

The pastor I worked under has a goal to plant 20 churches by 2020 and I got to see his heart and strategy for that, working under him. It really helped me see the importance of church planting. If we don’t plant churches, the church doesn’t multiply. About a year ago, I would have said that my call in ministry was missions. Lately, I’ve been saying that it is to pastor. However, maybe it is to bring the two together and plant a church to pastor it.

6. You can have fun

Often, pastors are depicted as uptight, always serious, and no fun to be around. However, the pastor I worked under gave me a view of a pastor that has fun being a pastor. Let me try to help you understand this. The pastor I worked under recently posted a video to Facebook of himself lip singing a rap song. He has used sermon illustrations about people accidentally shooting their butt-cheek off. He posts a selfie at least once a week. He has one of the funniest twitter pages I have ever seen. And he is a fun guy to be around.

So, being an intern, I definitely saw that you can be serious about the Gospel, love preaching, pray, read the Bible, do ministry, and lead a church and at the same time be a really fun person to be around. You can be funny without being stupid or vulgar. And you can glorify God with a sense of humor and a fun personality.

When the Angry Husband Called Me

A couple years ago, I worked as a news reporter. I usually didn’t cover anything other than ribbon cuttings at new businesses and when the occasional celebrity was in town, but one day I got a phone call (My phone number was listed on our organization’s website). The lady on the other line was calling me to request a reporter to cover a story about their child getting picked on by another kid at the YMCA.

Two problems with why I can’t cover that news story. First, kids get picked on everyday. Sending a reporter to every incident would be dumb. Second, it was the YMCA in a completely different county than what I reported in. So, I directed them to the reporter for our organization that was over the county they were in and the phone call ended.

I went on with my life. I didn’t think anything else of the phone call and thought I’d never have to worry about it. I honestly forgot that it even happened. Until 6 months later.

I received a phone call from a man who sounded a little angry. Remember, I had completely forgotten that the phone call ever happened. The man told me that my telephone number had appeared on his wife’s cell phone record and he wanted to know who I was. (The night of the call, they had actually had to call me several times) He told me his wife’s name and I told him I had no idea who she was.

He threw a fit and immediately assumed that his wife was having an affair with me and it sounded like he wanted to look for me, find me, and kill me (like Liam Neeson). I told him that I was a 20-year-old college student and I had never even met his wife, but he wouldn’t take that as an answer.

So, I am in a difficult situation here. A dude is on the phone with me wanting to kill me who I have never met. So, I began to think very deeply about the name of the woman he was saying was his wife and suddenly it clicked somehow!

“Oh, wait, your wife called me a while ago because I am a news reporter and told me about your child getting picked on at the YMCA,” I said.

It suddenly clicked with him too. So now, all the pressure is off of me and it has suddenly gotten really, really awkward for him.

“Oh…….yeah…..I remember that. I’m sorry, man,” he said.

Lesson of the day: Be careful assuming things and if you do, be careful how far you take those assumptions.

Are things really as “awkward” as they seem?

I have a theory.

Maybe it was because I was five at the time, but I don’t recall people talking about things being “awkward” twenty years ago. My parents don’t talk about anything being “awkward.” Awkward wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary until I got to college.

It seems like I can’t be in the room for five minutes without being called awkward. I suppose I sometimes deserve it, but a lot of the time, it’s not as big of a deal as everyone makes it.

What has been a major innovation that has come in the last twenty years? Texting. Now don’t think I am down on texting. I text everyday. But what if all of this “awkwardness” came from the fact that people have all of their important conversations through text messages? So when it comes to having face to face conversations, any imperfections in communication (not responding immediately, mumbling, etc.) comes off as awkward.

When you are texting, you have all the time in the world to think about what you are going to say, but in person, you can’t wait an hour to respond to someone’s question when they are right in front of you.

So how about we squash the awkward bug? How about we only text when necessary? How about we only text for informational purposes? Text to find out general information. Don’t text when you need help with a problem in your life. Don’t work out arguments with loved ones over texting. Don’t ask girls out over texting. (Seriously guys, that’s not very manly) Let’s start actually having face to face conversations again. Or at least call them and hear their voice.

Our generation lacks community because we ignore people in the same room as us in order to talk to people far away from us virtually. The result of this is a generation of people who think everything is awkward.

Let’s put down our phones for once and talk to the people in the same room as us.

030911_Text_t670