For many of us, becoming a Christian and joining a church is a lot like getting invited to a country club.
We sign up on a little card, are handed instant “community” within the group and are even given a calendar full of all the ways to become involved.
We receive a place at the table of doing, serving and attending. We meet up for regular gatherings that make us feel good, feel loved and feel accepted.
Yet, despite the all-inclusive aspects of this new life, something is missing. Something is lacking.
After years of attending, doing and serving, we find that we don’t know Jesus more intimately than we did that first day we prayed and asked Him into our lives.
You’ve heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive, but today I want to challenge you that the opposite may actually be true.
Not because the saying isn’t biblical (it is) but rather to reveal if your “gift of giving” may hinder your ability to receive.
Our culture loves to pride itself on how capable we are, how much we give to others and how good we can be. But, if we take in account Scripture and especially the teachings of Jesus, then we are faced with the reality that it may not about what we give, but instead what we receive.
When you’re walking down the street in a group, and you pass by a blind beggar, what do you do? If it’s me, I avert my eyes and keep walking.
But what if that beggar knew your name and, as you passed by, he kept shouting your name louder and louder. Would you stop then?
Honestly, I have no idea what I would do, but three of the four Gospels in the Bible tell us what Jesus did.
In (Matthew 20, Mark 10 and Luke 18), Jesus is just outside of Jericho and as a crowd follows him and passes by a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the man asks what is going. When Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is near, he begins to call out, trying to get Jesus’ attention.
People tried to shush the beggar, telling him to stop and be quiet. But Bartimaeus would not stop. He knew that he might never get this moment again, so he called out louder and louder until he found himself shouting the name of Jesus.
Have you ever just needed a friend?
And most people I know have.
At one time or another, we all will need a true friend, someone who is willing to show up, even though it’s inconvenient, costly or hard.
This life, no matter how self-sufficient we are, is not meant to be experienced alone. Community is an integral part of the human design, but somewhere along the way to gaining 1K online friends and followers, we have lost our connection in understanding the need for real friendships in real life with the people right beside us.
One of the best examples we have of how to be a good friend came from Jesus. He was the master relationship craftsman and fine tuned the art of showing up and loving people well.
You may have awakened today in a hard place. Where down seems up, right seems wrong and easy seems so very hard.
Whether you are in a physical battle, financial struggle or even political fight, there are moments where each of us is given more than we can handle or comprehend, and the struggle wears us thin.
Friend, if that is where you find yourself today, then turn with me to (Luke 8) and see how Jesus handles us when our faith is painfully stretched.
Everybody loves fall, but within some Christian circles, not everybody loves Halloween.
The creepy masks, the gory costumes and the darkness that seems to cloak the festivities of the holiday are enough to make the best Christian turn off their porch light, attend a harvest party at church and just otherwise pretend Halloween doesn’t exist.
Now, I know that there is indeed a lot of darkness surrounding the holiday, even today, and I would be remiss to not acknowledge the influence of it on all the revelry of October 31.
After 14 hours sitting sedentary in a car and logging hundreds of miles of fast food and soda pop, I looked into the hotel mirror that night and saw the worst version of myself. Greasy hair, muffin top belly, and a blotchy, pimpled face.
“Disgusting. I feel so disgusting,” is all I could think.
For the remainder of that day, all I felt was unattractive. Fat and unattractive.
Fast forward 12 hours + a solid night’s rest. The morning greets me at 6:00 a.m. and I head to the same hotel’s weight room for a 30-minute run on the treadmill. When I return to our room, I look in the same mirror. Staring back at me is the woman from the day before, sweaty, stinky and make-up less. Yet, this woman looks different. She doesn’t seem fat at all. She seems strong, capable and full of life.
My muffin top was still there. The adolescent-type pimples hadn’t disappeared overnight. I still hadn’t showered. So, what in the world had changed that I viewed myself so differently within just 12 hours?
You, my friend, are a missionary.
You may not have had to move to a faraway country or raise financial support, but you have been strategically placed by God to live intentionally in the very community you are in right now.
You may not be an official missionary in the traditional sense of the word, but you are indeed an everyday one. You are an everyday missionary, and God has placed you in your corner of the world for a purpose.
And I believe that purpose is to love God and love people with everything you have. (Mark 12:29-31)
You may be thinking, who me? I am not a missionary. I’m not married to a pastor; I didn’t go to seminary. Heck! I’m not even a small group leader.
To that, I say, Perfect! Because God’s Word doesn’t call people to do any of those things.
We were standing in an empty parking lot, the final stragglers from a local meet-up. Continuing our conversation long after the doors closed, we stood by our car doors, and my good friend listened as I grumbled about the overwhelming season of life in which I found myself.
I steadfastly declared that I would simply quit the most taxing endeavor I was a part of because it was all too much and that was the most expendable option. Quitting made obvious sense and I sighed in relief just thinking about the freedom it would bring.
That is until she looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re a quitter. You quit when things get hard.“
“I’m not a quitter,” I replied, with more question than resolve in my voice.
“Yes, you are.”
For many young Christ-followers, there is a question that is almost taboo to ask in certain Christian circles. Is it wrong to drink?
I think this is both a valid and a fair question, and it deserves a response. So today, we are going to dig into God’s Word and see what it has to say about this whole topic of drinking alcohol.
So, is it wrong to drink alcohol?
In a nutshell, Yes. And no. And maybe.
Yes, It is wrong when: