The Waiting Game

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The Waiting Game

Psalms 27:13-14

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord". I love that the Lord knew we would need a little extra encouragement when having David include this additional line in the scripture. Typically my response to waiting is to furrow my brow and ask, "are you kidding?", "are you sure", or "right now, you're saying the best thing for me to do is wait?!". (Provide as much attitude as possibly when reading those quotes.) Frequently, those responses come from me in moments of stress, anxiety, or when I'm pressed for time. I've asked questions like, "God, I need to know whether to take this job tomorrow or not" or "I need to know right now if this guy is my husband or not". We believe that pressing in, being quick, and getting as much done in a day is possible is a sign of strength and accomplishment. We see waiting as weakness and that it displays unsureness, lack of intelligence, slothfulness, or unpreparedness. We strive to run in the opposite direction from these descriptions by seeking to be quick, correct, and efficient hoping that if we keep moving fast enough, we won't realize the damage that has been done in our haste. 

We ask questions in urgency hoping for an immediate or at least timely, as defined by us, response. In my life it has been rare to receive the immediate response I'm looking for, and often times it is for my own good to be patient. The longer I wait to hear the Lord's voice, I tend to react in one of two ways. One, in frustration and impatience. Two, in peace and endurance. I will admit, the second is achieved less often than the first, but something that is consistent and true regardless of how mature I choose to be in the moment is that I am persistent. I have found that although I am imperfect, the Lord is gracious to respond to this persistence with drawing near. Once he has drawn near, even if he doesn't answer my prayer in the way I expect, my heart is still somehow at rest. The length of time that my my stubbornness lasts varies between situations, but when I finally reach the place of rest, I find that that place is really what I was searching for all along. 

In that instance, this call to wait on the Lord isn't just about His response to our requests and pleadings, but literally just to wait for His presence, to wait for him to draw near. It's in this place that there's more clarity. It's in this place that there's peace. And it's in this place that we have the daily opportunity to live. In the deepest part of me it is truly my desire to live closely to Him and not simply to receive all of the answers to my questions. Which, is a miracle because I am a seeker of understanding, I want to know the plan, and I deceivingly believe there is comfort in control. BUT when I have truly met with the Lord, I find that none of those things are as important as waiting for Lord, whether that's waiting for Him to simply meet with me or to give me guidance for my next steps. When waiting seems like the last thing we should do, let's make the bold choice to do it anyway.

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Martha Vs. Mary

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Martha Vs. Mary

How have you been lately? 

If one the first word that comes to your mind is “busy”, congratulations, you fit in to the same category as about 99% of all American’s. (I would say 100%, but let’s be honest- the 5 yr. old and under crowd are doing just fine juggling their napping and play-date schedules.)

The point I’m trying to get across is, practically everyone admits to being busy or leading a very over-booked lifestyle. Meaning it must just be the way it goes, right? We all have so many important appointments to go to, deadlines to make, relationships to maintain, church functions to attend, sporting events to see, Dunkin’ Donut’s coffee runs you HAVE to make(can i get an Amen?!)- so how could we not be busy??

That rationalization has always subconsciously seemed completely justified to me, because it’s just how the average human has come to function. It’s normal.

That is, until I consider quotes such as this one from Bruce Hindmarsh:

 
 

“Busyness is moral laziness. Because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people…. But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do, moment by moment, to respond to Him…Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.” - Bruce Hindmarsh

 
 

Busyness is moral laziness?? 

What?! 

My human defensive nature started to quickly try and come to reasons why that was a completely insane notion…. But the more I pondered his words over and over, the more convicted I became. 

Would it be so off to say that we clutter our lives in order to distract ourselves from the possibly difficult tasks the Lord has called us to obey? That we cram our schedules to a point that, even if God was calling upon us to do His work, we couldn’t hear or feel it because we are so numb to the Spirit by our overwhelming “to-do” lists?

I use phrases all the time like, “I just don’t have enough time” or “There’s just no extra space in my schedule for that” and I may really not have any extra time. BUY then I have to ask myself- Are the things that are taking time up my schedule, things that are in response to God’s calling on my life or the things I find important to my life?

We shift around and make room in our schedules everyday for deadlines and meniscal errands we have for that day, yet find it impossible to make room to fellowship, build relationships, or disciple. 

As I wrestle with this epidemic-sized problem we face as a culture, and my own shortcomings in this area, I am immediately reminded of a particular story in the Bible. In Luke 10, Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary that reads,

 

    “Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

    The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it- and won’t be taken from her.”  - Luke 10:38-42 The Message (MSG)

 

How many of us are the Martha instead of the Mary in this story? 

I’ll say it- I’m Martha. With no hesitation. Not that I’m happy about it, but it’s the hard truth. And I’d venture to say I’m not alone here. 

Dear friends, put yourself in the story- Even if Jesus IN THE FLESH was in your own home, would you sit and listen to Him or would you still find something “important” to do like Martha?? She thought she was pleasing the Lord with her exasperating efforts, but all He wanted was her to be still and listen to Him.

It is important to realize that we are just stewards of the time we are given. We have been given this life, as a gift. A gift with an individual central, divine goal- fulfill the will of God. 

That’s it. Really. 

As Christians, most of us have heard that before, but how many of us actually live that way? We fill our brains and our schedules with so many temporary stresses and obligations that we become numb to the moments He’s divinely placed before us. 

Time is a gift, each moment is a gift, and we will one day be held accountable for how we used it.

With saying all of this, It’s important to know that there is grace in all things, friends. We aren’t always going to handle our days in a way that glorifies and honers God, because this is a messy world with a lot of messy people… But we can try.

God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”(Psalm 86:15). When we come to Him humbly and confess our sinful stewardship of the time He’s given us, He is there to first, forgive and secondly, to “guide and direct us”(Psalms 32:8) So rejoice in knowing you are already forgiven, but in return, it only makes sense to give back to God some of the time He has so graciously given to us.

So if I may, I challenge anyone reading this, that in the next battle between your inner “Martha vs. Mary”, realize the eternal value of choosing Mary’s way. To “be still & know that He is God”.

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Hope for Those Who Fail

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Hope for Those Who Fail

Twenty Sixteen. We're two weeks in. You've made it this far but I wonder how we're all doing on all those resolutions we made. I know I've already dropped the ball on almost everything I decided was going to be different this year, especially those things regarding my relationship to the Lord. All the time commitments I said I was going to make, the reading I was going to do, the times I was so compelled to spend in prayer...all of that has since taken a back seat to the things my flesh wants. That sin to which we said "no more" still tries to entangle us. The pages of our Bibles remain unread. Our hearts continue to beat for everything else in the world first and then to God last. 

The great (and counter-cultural) news is that it's okay. The Father's affection towards us and certainly His saving grace over us isn't dependent on our faithfulness to a standard of behavior or completing a checklist. How beautiful is this simple gospel. That in our faithlessness, God is Faithful. Though we deny Him, He does not deny Himself and He is therefore the solid Cornerstone on which the entirety of our lives are secure. 

Romans 3:3-4 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged" 

What hope this truth brings to us as His disciples!

Don't let this hope turn you towards apathy, pray that this hope would compel you to energetic action. It brings so much hope and security to know that His grace is abundant in every moment of our lives. However, it's necessary we respond to this great grace with great service.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?   

Let's not see his mercy towards us as an opportunity to remain unchanged. Thank God that His grace is abundant. It's more than enough for our past, present, and future failures. With that understanding it would be a massive failure and rebellion against God to allow our flesh to convince us that we should continue in our sin, apathy, and selfishness. Let's continue on in the resolutions we made to serve God more effectively and to walk daily with Him. Let's do this understanding that when we fail, as we most certainly will, He is our faithful, unwavering Father that will find us in our failure and reach out His hand and simply say, "Let's continue on together." Let your failure in every area of life lead you to a powerful, personal understanding the gospel. That when you fail and find yourself in the dust He'll lift you up, brush you off, and spur you onwards. 

In your victories. In your failures. In your pain. In your joy. He is faithful. He is your hope. Let nothing else come before Him. Knowing His power is in you, rid yourself of everything else, until He is first. 

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Mirror vs. Mindset

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Mirror vs. Mindset

The mirror. Defined as, “a surface that reflects or gives an image of an object placed in front of it”, but for so many people, mirrors hold much more weight than a mere reflecting object. For example, as babies, one of the typical new parent things your mom and dad probably did was show baby-you your reflection. If you ever get the opportunity to watch this take place, it’s really a rather beautiful thing to watch. To see the awe and excitement on a baby’s face when they realize they are looking at themselves is so joyful. Yet, somehow if we fast-forward 15 to 20 years, we laugh at the idea of ever being excited to see our reflection. 

So where did it go wrong?

Why is it that time and maturity coincide with a growing lack of self-worth?

These are questions that haunt me everyday. Why is it that every morning when I stand in front of my bathroom sink, I’m always flooded with negative thoughts on anything from my less-than-perfect waste line or my slightly left-crooked nose? I don’t think that time or maturity is necessarily the culprit here. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it’s our own fault. Yes, you are you can be your own worst enemy on this. But before you get too offended and quit reading, just hear me out.

We constantly allow our minds to be bombarded by society. From celebrity social media pages to the demoralizing “catchy” song lyrics on the radio, we have created a mindset of what or who we are suppose to be from all the wrong places. How can you ever know the truth about your self-worth if your only sources of information are fictional? It’s like learning how to have a family by watching The Brady Bunch. You’re family is never going to be like the Brady Bunch(sorry to crush any dreams of you avid TVLand watchers out there), because it is a fictional, fairytale-like representation and that’s it. Sure, when I use that example it might seem like common sense, yet when regarding our self-image, we fall to this lie every day. But now that we have nailed down where we need to stop looking for answers, let’s try and answer the next question: Where can we find the truth? Where can we find healing?

There’s only one place that speaks truth into who you are, and that’s the Spirit-breathed, written words from your father. Your Heavenly Father.

 
Psalms 139:13-15
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
 

So often we find ourselves in self-created “woe-is-me” situations that can defeat us and steal our joy, and most of us have the greatest cure to all these situations laying on our bedside table, yet never think to use it. I’m talking about the Bible. The Bible contains all the direction we need to achieve a fulfilling life, we just have to open the pages and read it first in order to receive His guidance. Seems simple enough, yet most of us still don’t do it. Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”. Did you get that? Reading scripture gives us hope for any situation. That means there’s no situation you encounter that God didn’t already know about or a problem He forgot to cover in His Word. Give your Creator some credit here, He has equipped us fully to face any battle. We just have to dive into His word and find it.

However, just merely reading the words at face value, closing the pages, and never giving that particular scripture a second thought won’t fix anything. His direction must be digested and applied, as well. In fact, 2 Timothy 2:7 says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything”. He promises understanding to those who meditate and take His word to heart. That is when you will truly conquer problems, and that is when you will conquer your insecurities and battles with contentment, too. NOT just by temporarily fixing your physical “inadequacies”. 

We can take that knowledge and apply it to scripture such as Psalms 139:13-15 (quoted previously); take to heart what this passage has to say in the battle against the mirror. Realize that you were uniquely crafted in your mother’s womb and hand designed by the God of the universe. Only the truth of God's word can show you that. 

And if you have gotten absolutely nothing else from this, please just remember that who God says you are speaks so much louder into who you are than what a mirror can muster up. Jesus's death on the cross demonstrated His final and total love for you once and for all, giving you something infinitely more beautiful than any mirror could ever show. 

 

 

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2016 Reading List

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2016 Reading List

As a disciple of Christ, it's important to dwell on His words. It's vital to sharpen your mind and ready your spirit with the beliefs and doctrine that align with God-breathed and God inspired scripture. More than any other book His word is where we should look to know God, there is no text more important. So consider putting the Bible at the top of your 2016 reading list. Part of living near to Christ is having communion with Him each and every day. One way we do this is by setting time aside to posture our minds and spirits on Him, if only for a few minutes. We often refer to this time as "devotional" or "quiet" time. As cliche as it is, when you commit to doing this consistently you'll find it provides strength and endurance in your relationship with the Lord. During that quiet time, reading books and articles written by pastors of our day and be theologians of the 1800s is a great tool in helping us draw near to the heart of God. The following lists are all books, articles, or devotionals that i've had the opportunity to read. God has used each of them to teach me, challenge me, and encourage me. I hope that you'll find the same strength I have found from pursuing the Lord through these texts. 

Follow along with the Bible reading plan created by Arrowhead Church. Download the PDF here: Arrowhead Church Bible Reading Plan

Spiritual Growth Books 

  • The Explicit Gospel - Matt Chandler
  • To Live is Christ to Die is Gain - Matt Chandler
  • Look and Live - Matt Papa
  • What is the Gospel? - Greg Gilbert

Life Application Books

  • Garden City - John Mark Comer
  • Life on Mission - Dustin Willis | Aaron Coe
  • Evangelism - J. Mack Stiles

Devotionals 

Blogs

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New Mercies in 2016

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New Mercies in 2016

The Christmas holiday season is over and a new year has come. After festivities have ended and you’ve cleaned most of the wrapping and tissue paper off of the floor, you glance at the Christmas tree with its lights and beauty, and for a moment or maybe an evening it seems like time is still - stillness at the end of chaos.

As I sit here today, on the first days of the year, knowing 2015 is gone and 2016 is here, this seems like real stillness. Not just stillness in comparison to the chaos, but true stillness. During these moments it feels like I have the opportunity to breathe, free of distraction, and consider the year to come.

Even if it seems like nothing in the world or in your personal life is changing, there’s an understood opportunity for newness. There’s nothing magical about the clock changing from 11:59 to 12:00 on December 31st, but still somehow the world recognizes, and most celebrate, this opportunity for newness. It’s odd to me that this can be exciting for people who haven't come to know the truth of the gospel. The New Year holiday is defined as this chance for leaving the old behind and gaining a clean slate from no action or deservedness of your own. It's significant enough to our culture to throw a multimillion dollar party in Time Square and throw two thousand pounds of confetti in the air. It's heralded in almost every home across the nation. We celebrate this newness, but we - both believers and nonbelievers- often reject the gift of true newness offered every moment (and not just yearly) by the very One who created this new year. 

Don't get me wrong, I celebrated the New Year last night and enjoyed every moment. I toasted, I made resolutions, I embraced every part of the New Year’s traditions and dressings. December 31st had come to an end and 2016 arrived with all it's promises of new things. Among all this excitement and newness I also had weird dreams last night, woke up feeling unrested and anxious, had a fight with my husband, and then a less than ideal first day of 2016. There’s nothing more tempting than to throw away this prized opportunity of newness, when on day one I'm met with struggles. THANK GOD my newness doesn’t just come once a year because I might as well just sleep this one off and wait for December 31, 2016 to come…it’s in this moment that I am reminded Jesus came to offer me a gift—

 
“The steadfast love of the Lord never cases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” –Lamentations 3:22 
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” –Acts 3:19
 

This year, I hope to repent and I hope to receive newness, and not hesitate in my self-pity, hurt, pride, or doubt. How much time have I wasted, have we wasted, in the waiting when we can walk in newness of life, fully surrendered? The understanding of this promise from the Father doesn’t change the reality that I didn't make it an hour into the new year without experiencing a struggle, but it does change how I respond.

What things would you like to see happen with your New Year? Let's rejoice in the reality that the newness our culture celebrates with the turn of a calendar year has no comparison to the newness of life we receive daily in Christ. His mercies are new now and will continue to be new every morning that you rise in 2016. 

 

 

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Embracing Those Holiday Questions

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Embracing Those Holiday Questions

The holidays are always filled with the unexpected; Grandma’s rolls burned at Christmas dinner, 80 year old Aunt Cleda brought her new boyfriend to the candle light service, and the YETI mug you planned to buy your dad for Christmas sold out. However, as a college student, there is one thing that is always consistent; answering those dreaded "future questions". "What do you want to do with your degree?”, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, “Are you dating anyone you’re serious about?", I could go on and on, but if you are/ have been in college, you understand. For whatever reason your relatives think that what you want for Christmas is to feel like you're in an interrogation room forced to correctly answer endless inquiries about your future. 

Now, even though your extended family members didn't mean to totally depress you with their desperate attempts to create small talk, you’ve now found yourself emotionally binge-eating your way through the plate of Christmas cookies because you couldn’t answer a single one of their questions confidently. And that obviously means you’re failing at life…. right?

WRONG.

SO PUT DOWN THE COOKIES AND BREATHE.

So what you don’t have your future completely planned out; News Flash: We aren’t suppose to.  

 
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34 NIV
 

Sure, it's great to have passions and dreams. The Lord has given us certain gifts and talents to pursue and use, but we are never going to be 100% sure what tomorrow holds, or even if we will have a tomorrow. The collegiate stage of life can be paralyzingly stressful when we make life seem like a ladder of accomplishments you must climb in order to succeed or some checked boxes on your "Life To-Do List”. The expectations society puts on college students to become successful is an extremely heavy burden to carry, especially to a barely-twenty-something year old.

BUT it doesn't have to be like that.

College can also be a time of abundant growth when we stay open to the opportunities and path Jesus has for us. When we see this young adult stage as an opportunity to freely do the Lord's work with out being tide down to a career or a long-term relationship, it can be such a time of spiritual freedom.

We all have ideal ways in which we think our lives should go and certain goals we set for ourselves, and we all feel the pressure to achieve them. However, the best way to really accomplish anything in this life, is to release your control of it. Yes, you read that right, let your plans go. Being open to the Lord's plan means being able to lay your own aside. Life isn't a Pass or Fail class, it's a process. As the world pushes productivity and efficiency into our heads- the only true demand our life has is obeying God's Great Commission. 

 
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:18-20
 

So my challenge for you is to embrace not knowing exactly what career path to take yet and to love the freedom in not having your future spouse picked out. Instead, focus your thoughts on what you can do to further Christ's kingdom today, right now. Have the extra cup of coffee with a friend who needs your advice even though you should probably be studying, wake up an extra ten minutes early to do your Bible study (because let's be honest, when you say you'll do it at night, it never actually happens), and ask the girl crying outside of her professor’s office if you can do anything for her. God doesn’t measure our success by our career path, how high our GPA is, or how long it took us to find “the one”. He merely asks us to shine the light of His truth onto a sin-cursed world and there’s no GPA or level of education needed to do that.

So this holiday season, if asked one of the dreaded "future" questions- be confident in replying with "I don't know" or "I'm not sure”; be confident in knowing you’re pursuing Christ’s will for your life and that’s all you can do right now. God’s a gracious professor, who wants to see you succeed and prosper, but we as His students, have to do our part as well. Let go.

 

 

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Sharing Jesus in a culture where everyone knows His name

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Sharing Jesus in a culture where everyone knows His name

Last week I was driving home from the office and passed by a number of church signs that left me feeling unsettled. At best, these signs grossly miscommunicated the message of the gospel of Jesus. At worst, they held statements and phrases that entirely contradicted the life and message of Jesus Christ. In addition to church signs, I drove by plenty of other advertisement boards that were all focused on trying to sell something that we "deserve". In fact, one sign at a car dealership literally stated "Everyone deserves to drive a newer and better car." Not that I don't think that new cars are great - I'd love a fully loaded 2015 Nissan Xterra - but the thing that left me unsettled was how "me" focused all these messages were. Some signs said that following Jesus would lead us to prosper and help us get what we want in life. Others communicated that our salvation and relationship with Jesus was based fully on our ability to be righteous and perfect. Then there were business advertisements that simply want to convince us that we, as human beings, have a right and claim to have absolutely every thing we want in life. Regardless of what message was being communicated, it's easy to realize that our town and culture are saturated with various versions of what it means to follow Jesus. 

People have heard the name of Jesus, they've heard the term "gospel", and they've probably attended many church events. The problem is, after hearing and experiencing all of that, they still don't know what the gospel is. They're tired of hearing different versions and they're tired of attending of events where they don't actually meet Jesus- events where they're just told to "do better". So how do we share about Jesus and live on mission when people have become conditioned to shut down when they hear His name? I've got a few thoughts. 

1. Don't be cynical.

I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
— Lesslie Newbigin

Cynicism keeps us from seeing people the way Jesus has called us to, and it's really pretty wicked. It's easy to be negative about all of the things around us that we disagree with. It's easy to assume the worst about everything and everyone, especially the things we have no control over. And it's easy during a simple 12 mile drive to feel depressed about how self-focused our culture is. But the reality is, Jesus never placed his hope in culture or humanity. Jesus had hope in what he could do for humanity. That same hope is how we should view every life we're able to come into contact with. No one is beyond redemption because no one is beyond Jesus. 

2. Preach the gospel to yourself first.

It's vital that Jesus become realized and tangible in our own lives. And it's out of that kind of place that the true and life-altering message of Jesus can be effectively shared. No personal opinion, religious belief, or denominationally held doctrine has the ability of being true on it's own. It must possess the unaltered message of scripture in order to carry any weight. In order not to go on confusing people with various versions of what it means to be a Christian, we have to know Scripture for ourselves.

Get in the word. Get on your face in prayer. Pursue the presence of God. Ask that He would, in His kindness and grace, allow Jesus to be truly revealed to you and realized by you. It's all about Jesus. Christ is all that matters. Christ in every eye that sees you, Christ in every ear that hears you, Christ be all around you. When Christ is all around you, the cultural noise of so many false gospels fade away and the true Jesus penetrates the hearts and minds of those you come into contact with. For Christ to be all around you, Christ must be in you. Pursue Him first. Pursue Him hard. 

3. Change up your strategy.

Our culture, the southeast United States, is peppered with churches in every single town and overly saturated with marketing strategies to get people into the doors of the church. For a long time, we've been focused on getting as many people as possible to gather in one place at one time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that strategy. After all, thousands and thousands of people gathered at one time to hear Jesus preach. And after Jesus, thousands gathered to hear the teachings of Peter as he compelled the believers in Acts to make their lives all about Christ.

Our current problem is the fact that people aren't drawn to our churches the way they were drawn to Jesus, because Jesus has become less and less what our churches are offering. Don't misunderstand me. I have a deep desire to see God glorified, His word revered, and people share life with one another in corporate worship. And I truly believe God will do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, through whoever He wants. And if that means revival breaks out in a single service on a Sunday morning, I'll be beyond thrilled.

However, the place that God has challenged me is that I shouldn't be inside of the Church just waiting for people to start coming in. I should be outside of the church bringing them back with me. Evangelism, discipleship, life on mission. That's what works. What doesn't work is convincing people that church is cool enough for them to spend a couple hours at on Sunday mornings. Followers of Christ in post-Christian areas of our country are realizing that way people encounter Jesus through the movement of His church is by pursuing them, not by expecting them to come to you.

 
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
— Luke 14:23
 

Let's go get them. Let's fill the house.  

 

 



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A note to my friends

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A note to my friends

Christians have to choose between isolation, which is easy, and belonging, which is costly — yet much more satisfying
— Ray Ortlund

I want to start with a short disclaimer. While this is a message intended for the college students and young adults that a part of our ministry at Arrowhead Church, I'd invite any and all to join us in our pursuit to follow after Jesus, together. 

What has felt like, at least to me, the endless summer is coming to a close and over the next few weeks we're all headed back into regular work and class schedules. With the understanding that most people may not be too excited about that, I want to offer up some thoughts on why I'm deeply excited to return to regularly living in community.   

Don't misunderstand me, I am not condemning summer. For many, the summer is a season to spend much needed time being refreshed and energized by vacation and family. For others, it's been a summer full of service. Some have packed their bags and headed to various places in the states or over seas on mission trips to share the hope of Jesus with the lost and to be the hands and feet of Christ. Others have strapped on their chacos and spent 6-9 straight weeks at student camps loving and discipling kids. And then there are those who have spent their summer in internships or jobs. Regardless of how you spent your last two and a half months, it's pretty clear that summer isn't spent in the same kind of close-proximity community that we're used to during the school year. I'm deeply excited about returning to that kind of community because I get to experience so much of Jesus through relationships, and I hope you'll be able to do the same. 

Whether you're dreading or excited about the return to "normal life," I want to share a vision and offer a simple challenge. Put simply, my desire this year is for it to be in our Church as it is in Heaven. For it to be in your hallways, classrooms, dorm rooms, locker rooms, campuses, ministries, jobs, and relationships just as it is in heaven.

What does that mean?

Throughout the year, we'll experience the presence of God in lots of ways: through teaching, small group studies, and times of worship. However, there's one very specific way that the kingdom of heaven is engaged and multiplied here on earth. That's through our relationships with one another. Since the beginning of time, God has been building His kingdom through the community of believers who follow Him. He's continuing to do that now and will do it forevermore. This means the most meaningful, heaven encountering moments aren't during a worship service or in our perfect church attendance. No, heaven is made real to us here on earth when we can experience the presence and person of Jesus Christ through one another. 

So as you soak in the rest of your summer, my prayer for you is that the Lord would give you an excitement- like the night before Christmas kind of excitement- to jump into community with one another. When the redundancy of the fall schedule sets in, don't isolate yourself, and don't do life alone. You're made for community. We're made for one another. We're made for more. Let's not do surface level friendships that are based on how happy we can make each other or how much we have to offer one another. Instead, let's be humble, honest, and selfless. Let's pursue one another just as Jesus pursued us: relentlessly and with unending grace. Get excited now about imaging Jesus to your friends and allowing them to image Jesus to you. When that happens, we'll see it become here just as it is in Heaven. Choose the costly, yet much more satisfying life of pursuing Jesus together.

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