“I see my brother”

Matthew 5:43-48The Message (MSG)

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

This is what makes Jesus a radical. He calls us to a radical love. A love that is not easy, but actually can be quite difficult. Just because it is difficult and hard to understand doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. If we are looking for excuses to dehumanize people, I think we are finding excuses to live in sin. We are called to love all and embody the grace of Jesus, no matter what may come at us, and maybe especially if persecution comes. The early church grew in massive numbers and power when they were under a greater persecution than anything we can even imagine. Are we so busy crying that things are unfair that we miss the opportunity to love those that don’t look, act, or believe like we do? We need to bring a revolution of love and grace back to the church. And this doesn’t mean we shy away from hard conversations, but that we actually embrace them because it is the loving thing to do, but we always always always start with love and relationship before anything else.

 

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Be Confident and Lead

QuoteConfidence is one of those things that if you don’t have it, you won’t lead well. Insecurity will destroy us from the inside out. I know this from experience. I’ve only really learned how to lead other confidently in the last year and a half.

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Give Away Influence

As a youth pastor and leader in ministry I think one of my most important roles is to give away my influence. In order for me to fulfill what God has placed on my heart, I need other people. As a side note, if your dreams or goals are small enough that you can accomplish them without the help of others you are missing out.

According to Ephesians 4 God has called those in ministry to equip the saints to do ministry. This means I need to be equipping leaders to do the heart work. I’ve got some incredible leaders, but I also need to help develop them. Part of developing leaders is giving away the influence that has been given to you. I have influence on my students, and I must steward it well. This means I need to give up speaking from time to time to allow other great voices to speak into the lives of my students (Clue, they aren’t really my students anyway).

This week we had our youth service for the first time in a month. We had to cancel last week due to extreme weather, and I have really missed preaching to our students, However I had scheduled one of my most crucial leaders to speak the second week back after break. She politely offered to allow me to speak and change the schedule, but it’s not really about me. It’s about what our students need to hear. And our students needed to hear from her, so I gave away my influence so they could all grow. Not to mention she has incredible influence in the lives of our students anyway. She did an incredible job and ministered in a way I never could have. It makes our group more whole, and raises the bar of discipleship in our community.

Leader: who do you need to give more influence to? Who do you need to invest in? How are you really living out Ephesians 4 to build up others to minister to the body?

Small Things Matter

I am so often the person that misses the details and only sees the big picture, but the small things are so important. You can look at this from a variety of different ways. When it comes to creating a culture of excellence it is the small details that will set you apart. Or it is the small interactions that will give those around you a positive or negative perception of you. We have to be aware that our words and actions are telling a bigger story, and even the smallest of interactions will tell something to those watching you.

Small interactions can lead to big impact too. Just take the example of a Domino as outlined in this video:

A domino can knock over a domino one and a half times the size of itself. If you watch the chain reaction, it has massive impact. I think the same things goes for our small choices and small interactions. They leave big impact on the lives of those around us. Whether the choice is to just a simple act of kindness, or to speak deep words of life into a friend, these things are small, but make big impact that permeates the soul of another human being.

I know when someone comments on my clothes or how I look it gives me a little boost of confidence that wasn’t there a few minutes prior to said comment. The same can be said for a negative comment and causing a little bit of insecurity. Which kind of impact do you want to make? We are making an impact on those around us everyday, just ask yourself what kind of impact are you leaving? Are you leaving those around you better than before, or are you helping slowly tear them down without even realizing it?

I’m Judgemental, Well Sometimes.

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“What God has done for us, we should expect Him to do for others. Like Ananias, we hold the sins of a “Paul” against him. We doubt the call of God on the life of one who has erred. But would God treat Paul differently than Matthew? Why do we expect God to have less grace on others than He has had on us? Let us trust God to choose His vessels. Then let us lay down our lives to bless them, pray for them, and rejoice over them when they exceed us in usefulness to the kingdom.”

The quote above is written by Dick Brogden in his year long devotional called Live | Dead Joy, and is referencing stories in Acts 9 and Matthew 9. This paragraph hit me the other morning as I was reading. As a Christian it is easy for me to get stuck in this idea that people have to have things together before they can serve or belong. It’s easy to be judgmental toward others and their current situation. To be honest, over the past few weeks I’ve had quite a few judgmental thoughts come to mind. Judging people for where they are at, and the decisions they are making. But guess what, I’m wrong.

I’m completely wrong. It’s so wrong of me to judge someone where they are at, especially if I’m not willing to do some hard work and help them out. This is what I love about Jesus. He calls us to follow Him in the midst of a messy life, and yet He doesn’t leave us alone. He comes along side us, grows us, and sets us out on His mission.

I’m reminded of a prayer a friend prayed for me years ago when he said, “God, may Adam never forget what it was like before He knew you.” If we always remember where we came from, we’ll have a better outlook of where others are currently at, and we won’t judge their situation.

Let’s love people better!? Are you with me? Forget being judgmental, and let’s just be a friend to those around us. And yes sometimes being a friend means callings things out when people don’t see it, but that’s not judging, that’s being a good friend.

A Change That Makes Me See How Jacked Up Our System Is

This month my wife and I are trying something new and we are eating very clean. Of course we have spiritual reasons for doing this, but it has caused me to think about some things that relate to my job and our community.

Right now Kasie and I are eating only fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and a limited amount of whole grains, and we are only drinking water. This means we are not eating meat, dairy, most breads, sugar, or caffeine. The caffeine and sugar are the parts I’m really craving and missing, but energy wise I’m feeling great. I’ve also been running 20 minutes everyday, and I think that has helped me not go crazy as I have some sort of outlet.

One of the things that has bugged me about this change in our diet is that we’ve already spent our entire monthly budget for groceries and it’s only one week in. I think we may be able to get another week out of the food we’ve already purchased, but it definitely won’t last us the entire month. Now this is just a short term change for us, so the financial piece isn’t that big of a deal to me. However, I can’t help but think how we’re trying to eat more “natural” or “healthy” and yet it takes a huge amount of resources to do that. Right now I’m sitting at a McDonalds eating a fruit oatmeal (and drinking water) and I feel like I’m cheating. Well in all reality I probably am cheating to some extent, but I have a meeting and this is close enough. As I sit here I’ve seen multiple homeless people walk in and get food. This breaks my heart, because they have nothing and there is no way they could afford to eat the healthy way I am right now. I think our system is so jacked up when it costs more to eat healthy.

It is also frigidly cold where I live right now, so that means kids aren’t in schools. This breaks my heart, because so many families rely on the school for free breakfast and free lunch for their children, so while a snow day may be awesome for a lot of kids, so many others may not get to eat. Let alone eat a healthy meal.

So today, I’m praying for those around me that can’t afford to eat healthy. I pray that our system would change, and of course I want to do my part to make change. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I don’t like to sit around and do nothing when I see a problem.