Why The Bible Matters

bibleReposted from Radical Mentoring

Why do so few people read the Bible?

I’m not talking about a random verse pulled out to make a point, I’m talking about the book itself . . . the entity . . . this thing that’s integral to our faith. It’s one of the most important topics!

God’s Word is eternal . . . it’ll last beyond the internet, the Super Bowl, the iPhone, the Final Four . . . everything. In heaven, we’ll recognize the words, the wisdom, and the authors, and we’ll never tire of learning what it all means.

So why bother now? Why not wait until heaven when we’ll have all the time in the world? (. . . or out of the world?) Besides, is this stuff really important? Is it really true? Why do we struggle to ‘get into it’?

There’s the fact that God’s Word has been around . . . unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and almost half the world’s population believe its essence. A friend of mine was ready to commit his life to the nine ‘insights’ spelled out in The Celestine Prophecy. I asked, “Wow, what if the author changes his mind, or discovers some new truth?” Shortly after, he published The Tenth Insight. My friend later became a Jesus-follower.

Isn’t it smarter to build your life on a time-tested plan?  The New Testament approach to life is wise, effective, stable, practical, and true.

“But isn’t the Bible just a compendium of stories and folklore, pieced together by church people with a motive?”

Sounds convincing, until you try to explain how the Dead Sea Scrolls perfectly matched earlier manuscripts and were untouched by church people from their recording until their discovery in the 1950’s. The Bible is true. You can depend on it.

“But is it relevant?” You bet it is! Here’s just one example . . .

You get a new job or have your first child or move to a new church. You’re scared out of your skin! But when you read 2 Timothy 1:7, God reminds you “the spirit of fear is not of God, but God is love, power and a sound mind.” Suddenly, you realize “Hey, I can do this! God loves me! This fear I’m feeling isn’t coming from Him . . . I have His power within me . . . I can discipline myself . . . I have a sound mind . . . let’s get on with it!” You’re no longer afraid.

And one more point . . . the Bible is supernatural! I’m not kidding.

Remember Hebrews 4:12? For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Paraphrase: God will use His Word to help you sort out your thoughts and attitudes regarding what you want (i.e., your “heart”).

I take that to mean when I read the Bible and ask, “God, what are you teaching me here?” or “Lord, what would you have me do?” He’ll often give me wisdom I’m not smart enough to discover on my own.

And then I try to obey. I also write it down in my journal, because I don’t want to forget. I’ve unearthed much of what’s written in my blog posts this way.

So . . . read your Bible. And chat with the Author as you read. Pray. Ask questions. Listen to His answers and instructions.


In Light of the Facts

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 11.25.34 PM

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

“Just give me the facts.” We men say it all the time. But sometimes our biggest problems stem from not accepting the facts. From deceiving ourselves and believing something other than the truth. This is particularly true of optimists like me. I’ll tell myself all kinds of lies to keep hope alive . . . to see a pony in the pile, to think a particular problem can be solved. Here’s a painful principle . . .

A problem without a solution is a fact.

To illustrate. Suppose I decide my problem is that I can’t dunk a basketball. Now I’m about 5 feet 10 inches, and I can’t jump. At all. I can lose weight, work out, hire a personal trainer who works with the ‘vertically challenged,’ practice jumping 8 hours a day, whatever. But this side of heaven, I’ll never dunk a basketball. There is no solution to this problem. So failing to dunk a basketball is no longer a problem, it’s a fact. I cannot dunk. Period.

Think about how much time and effort we spend on unsolvable problems. To call it a fact seems so final. So hopeless. The ‘cold hard facts.’ But wouldn’t it be smarter to accept the facts and then live in light of the facts?

Okay, that’s the post.

So what’s bothering you these days? Are you stuck, trying to solve a problem that has no solution? Will you accept the facts and set yourself free?

God is with you. He might not take away the problem, but He’ll help you deal with it. He won’t change the facts, but He’ll be with you as you live in light of the facts, no matter how hard they are to accept.


Four of the Worse Reasons to leave a Church

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 3.55.53 AMReposted from Rethink

I once heard a pastor say that the church is like a body. Sometimes you eat food and sometimes you “release” food. In other words, a church will always be bringing new people in and letting people go. And both are required to be healthy.

There certainly are valid reasons on why you should leave a church, but that’s another topic of another post. In this post we are going to examine some of the worst reasons to leave a church.

1. I’m Not Being Fed Anymore

If a church abandons it’s call to teach God’s word and grow and develop the congregation, this can be a legit concern. However more often than not I see this used as an excuse to leave based off a dislike of the new direction, type of preaching, or some other stylistic preference.

It is not the church’s job to feed you. It is your job. 

It’s popular in our culture to abdicate our responsibility and assign blame to someone else for our own failure. If you are not being fed in your spiritual life the only person to blame is you. It is your job and your responsibility to feed yourself, not anyone else’s. If you are not being feed at your church I suggest you find a way to feed yourself. Buy a book, download a podcast, journal, pray, dust off your bible, just find some way you can feed yourself. 

If you aren’t getting spiritual fed at your church, don’t leave; find a way to feed yourself.

2. I Don’t Have Any Friends Here

Whenever I hear “I don’t know anyone here” or “I don’t have any friends” I always ask, “Do you go to a small group?” “Have you tried to hangout with anybody?” Most of the time the answer is no. If you aren’t plugged in anywhere outside the Sunday service you will never build relationships. Relationships are built when you invest your time. In other words, the grass isn’t greener over there; the grass is green where you water it.

Friendships rarely just happen. They are forged by time spent together. If you go to church once or twice a month for an hour on Sunday you aren’t going to develop any friendships. You need to spend more time with people.

Find a place to serve, check out a small group, find a common interest with someone and just hang out. Learn people’s names, listen to their story, and when you find someone you connect with hang out with them outside church. You aren’t going to get connected without first putting in effort. 

Instead of waiting for someone to invite you, invite. Don’t leave your church until you at least put effort into building a few friendships.

3. They Don’t Have “________” Ministry

As a pastor I get approached regularly about starting a ministry for “__________.” Nine times out of ten they are great ideas. We won’t talk about the one out of ten bad ideas… When I ask if they would want to lead, start, or help in the ministry the answer is essentially no you do it, I just want to attend. This consumeristic mindset is crippling the church. 

Maybe the reason you have such a great idea for your church is because God wants you to do it!

Every church cannot have every kind of ministry. Each church is unique and will look different and have different ministries, and that’s okay! Just because your church doesn’t have this great ministry doesn’t mean it should be started. It might not align with their specific mission and vision.

If you have a ministry you think would be beneficial to your church go meet with your pastor. See if it will fit the direction your church is heading. If it does, don’t assume your pastor will do all the work; offer to help start it or even lead it. The pastor of your church isn’t the only one gifted to lead a ministry. You are too! Use your gifts to grow and benefit the church.

4. The Pastor Doesn’t Know My Name

If you go to a smaller church or hang out with the pastor regularly you might have a case. However, I have seen people get mad that a pastor cannot remember their name when they talked to him once, and they are part of a 1000+ congregation. I am terrible at remembering names, and I feel TERRIBLE when I forget someone’s name. But there are 100’s, sometimes 1000’s of names pastors have to keep track of. Give them a little grace.

While in a larger church not everyone can have a personal relationship with the lead pastor, there is a benefit. The larger the church the more pastors will be on staff. You might not be able to be best buds with the lead guy, but find another pastor on staff that you can connect with.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you to never leave a church again. Most of us will not be at the same church for our whole lives. And that’s okay! The purpose is to challenge why we leave. A lot of people bail at the slightest inconvenience, and in doing so they are robbing the church of their gifts and skills and they are robbing themselves of what the church has to offer them.

Sometimes the greatest things in life are on the other side of difficulty. Maybe, just maybe, if you stick it out you will find it was well worth it.

Before you leave your church prayerfully consider your reasoning. Have you considered talking to someone on staff or in leadership at the church? Is the issue a reason to leave or can it be solved with a few conversations? Doing life with others is hard, and there will be conflict. But if we push through that conflict there is beauty on the other side.

When is it Time to Leave Your Church

Reposted from Rethink

It’s no secret that most people don’t stay at a church for very long. The reasons are many, some good, some bad. The reality is people leave churches. The question is how are you supposed to know when is it time to leave? 

Maybe you are thinking Well, if that’s true, then you should be telling people to stay in their church!

I have written on the worst reasons to leave your church before. But there are also good reasons to leave your church. I get it, church attendance has become increasingly sporadic. But the answer to that issue is not telling people to stay in bad situations. 

I’ve talked to many people that have been considering leaving their current church. In the majority of cases it’s a decision that weighs heavily on them. It’s not always easy to discern and figure out when it’s time to find the door. 

While there are plenty of reasons to stay in your church, there are also things that should cause you to leave. And that’s what I want to look at in this article. Here are reasons to consider leaving your church.

You Haven’t Found Community (but you’ve tried)

One of the biggest reasons that church is important for Christians is that we have people to do life together with. If you aren’t finding that in your church, it might be time to look for a different church. But hear me on this, you have to TRY first. I have heard the complaint from a lot of people that goes like, “I’m not connecting at my church.” Then I ask, “Well what have you tried?” And often times it’s nothing… Or “I went to something once.” Before you can say you can’t find community you have to try first.

The Church Isn’t Doing Anything for People Outside The Church

Churches should have a balance between growing the spiritual depth of those in the church and loving those outside the church. If you church has become all internal and has no focus on what’s happening outside the walls, it’s time to go. Any church that only focuses on those inevitably become sick and dies. The church was never meant to be exclusive, but rather inclusive. That responsibility lies not only on the church, but on you as well. Find a place that puts an emphasis on loving people outside the church. 

There is Abuse of Power in the Church Leadership

It’s a sad reality we live in that this even has to be said. But it’s commonplace to find a church consumed with the pursuit of power. I have heard many heartbreaking stories of spiritual, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse that have taken place inside churches. If the leadership in your church is demanding, twisting the Gospel to give them power, or is using the Bible to put others down, get out. If there’s even a hint of that in your church, RUN.

You Don’t Agree With the Vision

One of the beautiful things in the church in the western world is that there are a thousand different kind of churches, each with a different look, feel, and vision for why they exist. Most of these differences aren’t right or wrong; they are just preference. If you don’t agree with the direction your church is going, that’s fine; go find one you can get behind. That’s the beauty of having so many unique churches; each one will make an impact in a different way. 

You Don’t Trust the Church With Your Money

Do you trust your church to use the money you give to make an impact on people’s lives inside the church, in the community, and around the world? If you cannot trust the church with your money, you shouldn’t give them your time.

I know of a lot of churches that keep closed books and will not share where the money that comes in goes. They might show broad categories, but no specifics. Giving to a church is like making an investment. If you shifted your 401k to a new broker and they wouldn’t show you where your money was, you would pull it fast! If you regularly give and attend a church you should know exactly how your money is being used and you should see “returns” on your investment.

Church Politics Have Overtaken the Pursuit of Jesus

Wherever two or more people gather the one thing you can guarantee is there will be issues. Every church has, and will continue to have, issues. You cannot expect a group of broken, messed up, people to come together and all of a sudden be perfect. Not going to happen. If you want to be a part of a church, or any group of people, you will have to have some grace.

However there are some churches where the church politics have overtaken everything else. If your church is all about the church politics, drama, or he said/she said it might be time to look for a new church.

There’s No Place For You to Use Your Skills/Gifts

Every single person is different and has a unique set of skills. This means that you were created in a way that you can serve and use your skills to benefit those around you. There is a place in which you can use those gifts inside the church. If your church doesn’t have a place or aren’t willing to let you use your skills, you need to find a place where you can use your God-given gifts to benefit those around you. 

Maybe you are living one of these things out and now you are wondering, How do I actually leave my church? That is a whole other article and is highly situationally based. However let me say this. It should always start with prayer and conversations with trusted friends. Don’t make this decision on a whim or in search of green pastures.

I want to hear thoughts… What reasons do you think someone should leave? Have you left a church? What drove you to that decision? 

Not Being so Hard on Yourself


Reposted from Winning With Jesus

The past few weeks Jesus has led me to make time on my day off to “review the film” What went right, what went wrong and what can be changed.

As I sat down for the film session, I was ready to hear all the things that needed improvement.

As I closed my eyes, Jesus rattled off 10 areas where I did an excellent job and a whopping 1 area to improve upon. It helped to totally change my perspective of God.

I couldn’t help but laugh, here I was going into the film room with a mindset of what I was doing wrong and instead God flips the mindset into what I was doing right!

Totally God!

The more and more I understand God’s nature, he isn’t about berating me into make changes. He does it in a kind and loving way and it is for our benefit!

Romans 2:4 says,

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
Repentance simply means a changing of one’s mind. So in the example above about the film session, I repented of falling into self condemnation and hatred into loving myself and giving grace to myself right where I am at.

Prayer: Father I thank you for every reader. I pray that you help remind each reader of how kind and loving  you are. Holy Spirit, help us not be hard on ourselves for the sake of sounding spiritual . Help us to recognize where we are doing what is right and make note of it. And if we need a correction, you do it in a kind and loving way. In Jesus name! Amen!

Comments and Application:  Are there areas in your life where perhaps you are too hard on yourself? How can you show more grace to yourselves in those times. I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

How is Your Relationship with God Today


Reposted from Follow the Good Shepherd

How’s your relationship with God today? Is it dull or intimate? Do you still remember your honeymoon stage when you first encountered His love? Do you still feel the same way now? Do you still feel the strong urge to fulfill your mission and to realize your godly vision now or is it long gone?

A lot of Christians go through this stage when they feel bored because there’s not much action (this is not true though as a lot of miracles happen everyday, we just overlook it or take it for granted sometimes). Although it’s normal, it doesn’t mean that we should not address it. Love is not just about feelings. It’s a commitment.It means to stay in the relationship through the ordinary and extraordinary, through the routine and the unusual, through the highs and lows, through the similarities and differences. It’s a piece of work but we need to trust our Potter to turn us from a simple pile of clay to a glorious work of art.

Most of the time, when our relationship gets boring or if we feel like His path is not where we want to go, we tend to run away from God. We don’t want to do what he asks us to do. We try to tune His volume down in our lives so we can live how we please. If we continue to do this, things might get dangerous. Consider the story of Jonah and how God pursued Him: Letting Go: Running Away From God.

So, what should we do if we feel like the fire inside us is burning out?

Pray Unceasingly. No matter how boring our prayer might sound like to ourselves, remember that our God is a very personal God and He is mindful of us. Communication is vital in any form of relationship and prayer is our main communication tool with God.

Keep Reading. Not everyone hears God audibly speak to us. Reading his Word would allow us to get advice and teachings from God himself without waiting to hear a thunderous voice from heaven. The Bible is our ultimate instruction and guide book that He left for us. Everything we need to know is already in here.

Stay Connected. Attend the church service, listen to podcasts, and catch up with your life group from church. Hearing God’s Words through godly people is a way for us to reconnect to God and vice versa. Remember, if you take a coal away from the rest of the burning coals, it will become cold. But if you put it back with the rest, it will burn again.

God never fails to provide and take care of us. He has given us a mission to fulfill in various areas of our lives. That should be enough to keep us from getting bored. Sometimes, the problem is that we don’t like the mission itself, thus, we ignore it and pretend nothing is happening in our lives which leads us to getting bored. It’s never gonna work this way. God gives us the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life but remember, it takes two to tango!

Prayer and Grace


Reposted from The Life Project

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:2-6

This is a really neat little passage; there’s so much to see.  As Paul closes out his letter, he reminds the people to be devoted to prayer, and while this may seem routine, after all, Apostles talk about prayer a lot, Paul here seems to bring it to life.  I’m always struck by the idea of prayer being “watchful and thankful.”  Maybe thankful, as in giving thanks isn’t so surprising, but watchful!  How often do you hear someone say that we should be watchful in our prayers?

Watchful for what?  Things you want God to give you, like little favors?  “Oh yes, and Father please send me that new Lexus…” something like that?  Somehow I doubt it. Maybe watchful for someone who needs intercession, maybe an opening for the Gospel, maybe something that is within God’s priority system− yes that seems more like the kind of “watchful” that Paul has in mind.  He continues by asking for the people to pray for him, but again, not in the way we might expect.  Notice, that even though he is in prison, he didn’t ask them to pray for his release, he asked them to pray that he might preach the Gospel effectively.

I don’t know about you, but that gets my attention every time!  When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:5. He taught us to pray for God’s priorities. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”  Do we remember to do that? Are we watchful for specifics that fit into this category?  Well, I can only speak for myself, but truth be told, I forget or overlook this more often than I’d care to admit. Paul seems to continue in this line of thinking when he advises us to be wise when speaking to “outsiders,” non-Christians.  We are to be ready to make the most of every opportunity, to show them the love of Jesus Christ: Maybe we should pray for those opportunities.  We are to speak to them “with grace, seasoned with salt…” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor” meaning that we are to deal with them in love; more love than they might deserve.

I have a little secret for you to consider:  Speaking to someone with grace is not telling them that they are wrong, even if they are.  It doesn’t mean calling them names, or being critical of the way they live.  Yes, there is a fair chance that they live as unbelievers, but guess what? They are unbelievers, and that may be just how they are supposed to live.  Our job isn’t to correct the world, it is to save the world for Christ.  This requires grace, not criticism.  Salt is an interesting metaphor; I’ve heard many different explanations for this, so I’ll throw out my thoughts.  When we season food with salt, we add it to bring out the full flavor of the ingredients, and when we speak with grace, seasoned with salt, we are sharing the full love of God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to die to save it.  We need our speech to be so full of His grace, that nobody hears the slightest little bit of condemnation come from our lips!

So, when you put this all together, maybe I should remember to pray that God will bring me opportunities, and give me the words to share, so that some may be saved.  What do you think; do you need to join me in praying this way? If not, I’d love to hear why that is.

Whats Your Watts

wattReposted fromRadical Mentoring

Walk into a dark room and flip the light switch. Darkness disappears, replaced by light. In fact, darkness isn’t really a ‘thing’ in and of itself.  Just something that happens when there’s no light.

Genesis 1:4 recounts the creation of light . . . “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Sometimes, we think of someone as bright. Every now and then, we’ll run into a Jesus-follower whose spirit shines. In church world, we want people to plug in. I guess it’s easy to compare spirituality to electricity because both are invisible and somewhat hard to understand.

The reality is that some people seem to be ‘15-watt’ people, others are ‘60-watt,’ while a few seem to glow naturally like ‘100-watt’ bulbs. If that happens to be you, you’re going to inevitably attract people (and maybe a few moths!). But what if you’re a ‘15-watt’ person? Or ‘30-watt’? Maybe you’re diligent about your faith walk but kind of private and quiet. Should you aspire to more light? And for what purpose?

I see three reasons we should aspire to have higher ‘wattage’ . . .

  1. Our personal peace deepens– When the Holy Spirit shines brightly within us, we’re more confident. When we trust God with outcomes, we deal better with our circumstances and we’re affirmed that Jesus is real and He’s right here with us and for us.
  2. Our influence grows – When we go public with our faith in Christ, others watch our lives in a special way. The cynics are waiting for us to fail so their lack of faith can be confirmed. The doubters will pay attention because our lives will enter into their decision to follow Jesus or not. And true believers will want to celebrate our faithfulness; they’re encouraged by our ‘bright light.’
  3. Our sin becomes more apparent – It is so easy to be dumbed down by the world, the flesh and the devil. “Hey, I know I’m not the best Christian in the world, but I’m not the worst either.” When our wattage is higher, we’re more sensitive to the sin that tempts us . . . our conscience quickens, and we’re more apt to turn away from bad stuff and ask forgiveness, both from God and from each other.

So how can we increase our wattage?

Through prayer. For over two years, I’ve told people about the strength and confidence I felt going in for my lung transplant. It was supernatural! I truly believe James 5:16 which says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” whether that prayer comes from you, a few or a multitude. I’m convinced the more people who pray and the more fervent the prayer, the higher the wattage of the person prayed for.

Let’s pray for each other in 2018, but don’t forget to pray for yourself. Ask God to raise your wattage for your good, the good of those around you, and for His glory.

Scripture: Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)