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Posted on Mar 28, 2016 in Blog, Church, Featured

Easter Isn’t Over, Neither Are You!

Easter Isn’t Over, Neither Are You!

Easter has just begun. We celebrated the beginning of Easter yesterday. But Easter is a long season. Seriously. According to the Church Calendar, Easter lasts until the season of Pentecost, which is approximately 50 days after Easter. So, from now through May 15, we are in the season of Easter.

So, don’t you go thinking that resurrection thing was just a one day deal. That’s not true. The resurrection changed everything. Yes, the fact that Jesus died on the cross was important, but if Jesus did not conquer the grave, we are crazy to spend our lives following him. In fact, our entire faith is futile. Without the resurrection, we don’t even have victory over our sins.

14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. ( 1 Cor. 15:14-19)

The resurrection changed everything. Easter is not just a day, it’s a season. Resurrection is not just a day, it’s whole new way of thinking. You are no longer dead in your sins, you are alive in Christ. Your savior is not rotting in a borrowed grave, He is alive. He appeared to hundreds of witnesses to prove the fact that he was alive again. And hundreds of witnesses saw him ascend into heaven. And Stephen saw the heavens open to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is alive.

Resurrection Sunday is the day we celebrate the event, but resurrected living is an entirely different thing. Once we have put our faith in and belief on Jesus, we are no longer dead, but alive again. We were the walking dead, but Jesus cured us from out death. So now, you are alive. Alive like you’ve never been before. Your life is being transformed. Your mind is being renewed. You are no longer operating under the old system, but are being redeemed and restored into a new world.

Because of the resurrection, you now have victory over sin, victory over death and confidence to approach the throne. The curtain was torn, and you can enter into the holiest place. Actually, you now become the holiest place because God resides in you. You are the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God dwells in you.

All this is because of the resurrection. You have new life because of Jesus’ new life.

But, just as Easter isn’t over, neither is your responsibility as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Remember, Jesus appeared to hundreds of witnesses after he came back to life. And there were hundreds of witnesses who saw him ascend into heaven. Just before he ascended, he told his followers something:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus’ followers had witnessed Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension. And he told them, you will now be my witnesses – telling people the story of what they had seen – to Jerusalem (where they were), Judea (the bigger region), Samaria (to the people in surrounding areas, some who had previously been outcasts) and the ends of the earth (everywhere else.)

We are witnesses too. We may not have seen Jesus with our own eyes, (even though we have plenty of evidence for the story of Jesus) but we have witnessed other things. We have witnessed the resurrection power of Jesus in our own lives. We have witnessed the new life we have received because of Jesus. we have witnesses the resurrection power of Jesus in the transformed lives around us. We are witnesses who have a story to tell.

Just like Easter isn’t over, we aren’t done yet either. You might be thinking to yourself:

“I invested time and resources to invite someone to Easter, and they came. So, I did my job, I’m done now. Right?” 

WRONG! You have only just begun. “But isn’t it the “church’s” job to make them disciples?” Yes, it is. But, who is the church? The church is not the pastor. The church is not organization. The church, actually ecclesia is the right word (ecclesia means: called out ones)…the church/ecclesia is the community of believers. You and I together are the church. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Together we make up the body. We cannot be individually the body of Christ, we must be in community.

That means, that you have a role to play in making disciples. Yes, you did a fantastic job investing in someone and inviting them to church. And I applaud you for that. Seriously!! Great job! Bravo! But, don’t let up now.

Don’t miss the opportunity to solidify the commitment of the person you invested in. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow up and give your invitee the opportunity to ask questions. Don’t worry about having all the right answers. If you don’t know, just tell them you don’t know, but you’ll figure it out.

Right now, while they are interested and hopefully excited about Jesus is the best time to solidify them in that commitment. Don’t let that seed go to waste. Don’t let the worries of the world spring up around that seed of the gospel that was planted and choke it out. They need you around them, helping the seed to grow. They need the health of other believers and Christian community to encourage them in this new walk.

Don’t miss the chance that you invested so much time and energy in. They’re worth it. And Christ in them is worth it. Do whatever it takes! Keep going. Keep investing. Keep pursuing them. Keep inviting them to church. Keep up the good work.

You’ve only just begun.

You invested time and resources to invite someone to Easter, and they didn’t come. That’s all I can do right? 

WRONG! You’ve only just begun.

“I spent time with them. I tried to meet their needs. I did what I could to invest in them. And I invited them to Easter, but they didn’t come. What else can I do?”

For some, it can take a long time of investing and investing and inviting and investing and investing and inviting before they’ll ever agree to come. And potentially even longer before they are willing to consider Christ. I believe this process of investing is going to be taking longer and longer the more our culture becomes hostile toward Christianity. It’s not like it used to be.

Don’t lose what you’ve invested to this point by avoiding this person or avoiding the issue. They didn’t come to Easter, that doesn’t mean we stop caring about them. It means we keep caring. Perhaps caring more than we did before. Maybe we need to try different things. I don’t know what to tell you because it’s different for every person we’re trying to reach just like it’s different for each of us doing the investing. All I know is that we must continue on.

You’ve only just begun. Don’t stop now. Don’t hesitate to invite again. Don’t lose what you’ve invested.

Jesus is still risen. The resurrection is still the most significant event of all time. God is still drawing people to himself. The gospel is still good news and the Spirit is still active.

Easter isn’t over. Neither are you.

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Posted on Mar 4, 2016 in Blog, Church, Dear Leader, Featured, Humility, Leadership, Unity

An Open Letter to Andy Stanley From the Pastor of a Small Church

An Open Letter to Andy Stanley From the Pastor of a Small Church

Dear Andy,

First off, I love you. Seriously. I’ve spent a lot of time studying your way of doing things. I’ve been an Andy Stanley champion for a decade. I’ve bought your books and ready them. Some of them more than once. There is great insight in them for up and coming pastors like myself. I’ve used your podcasts, I’ve bought books you’ve recommended on your leadership podcast. I’ve loved having you as a source of wisdom and input into my ministry since I discovered you in 2005. So, I feel like I’ve known you for over a decade.

Second, I don’t normally write these kinds of posts. I generally try to write posts that will help the people I know and lead be better disciples. Most of them don’t know about Andy’s remarks, and probably never would. But, in this instance I feel compelled to respond. And, I feel like I may have something to offer you for a change. And, I’m hoping you’ll hear me. Chances aren’t great you’ll ever read this letter, but it’s worth a shot. I’m not anti-mega church like so many. We can disagree without hating each other, right? More on that later.

Third, my intent in writing this letter is to share with other pastors of small churches some of the things I’ve learned – which is being pointed out by the response to your comments. I was offended, though I’m trying not to be.

Recently, you preached a sermon at your church, where you spoke ill of small churches. And from the outcry I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve had your hands full dealing with the backlash as a result. (The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZhhpiU4d0A). I’m sure that’s not been fun. But, I’m also sure you’re learning a lot from it. At least, I hope you are.

Since you were pretty direct and blunt in your remarks, I’ll just go ahead and be blunt and direct in my response as well. You said some pretty stupid things in that sermon. I get where you were coming from, but I think you probably could have been a little more careful. I’ll be honest. I didn’t go watch the whole sermon. I didn’t care to after what I saw and heard. I’ve listened to a lot of your sermons over the years. I’ve shared them with my friends, family and church.

Along with being the pastor of a small church, I’ve worked in several mid-sized to large churches as well. So, in part, I understand both worlds. Not to the level you do, but I get more than many. That said, I’m not one of those “mega churches are evil” people. I see you reach a lot of people for the kingdom. And I thank God for what you and so many other mega churches are able to do.

But there were some words that are going to be hard to get over. And as a result, will change the amount of influence I’ll allow you to have in my life and ministry in the future. I refuse to write you off, but my pursuit of your teaching will be a little more tempered.

These are a few of the quotes from the snipet I saw.

“If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult, get over it. Find yourself a big ‘ol church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.”

“You drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church.”

“Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.”

As is so often said nowadays, it’s not just what you said, it’s also how you said it. It wasn’t just a comment that was made in passing. It was a remark that you spent time preparing. I decipher this based on the point you wrote out on your screen. “Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church.” I know you work on your sermons well in advance, you’ve said you work on three sermons at a time at one of your earlier drive conferences. So, You probably worked on this sermon for a few weeks. So, it’s hard for me to imagine this was off the cuff and not well thought out. Because that’s not you. And, the manner with which you made these remarks show that you are very passionate about what you said. And, I guess if that’s your strategy, you should be passionate. But, what if you’re wrong? In fact, you’ve said “Your beliefs shape your attitudes.” Perhaps this is why you spoke with such passion.

Does your, phrase that pays principle apply to your church? If your church is teaching children to hate church, should people choose a different church? Isn’t it also selfish for parents to drag their kids to your church if they hate your church?

You’ve also said, “It is when our hearts are stirred that we become most aware of what they contain.” (Source: It came from within! The The Shocking Truth of What lurks in the Heart). Is that what your heart contains, complete disdain for all us small churches out in the world struggling and wishing we had the resources you have at your disposal?

I don’t pretend to know the pressure and scrutiny you are under as a mega leader in the American Christian church. I can’t imagine having so many people scrutinize my sermons and listen for things that can be taken personally. I’m sure I’ve said similarly offensive things, it’s just that there aren’t tens of thousands of church leaders and Christians listening to me.

As you have said: “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (Source: The principle of the path) Somewhere along the way, your priorities seem to have gotten a little out of whack. That is, assuming you believe what you said. And that’s why I’m writing this really long letter. Because, maybe it will serve as a catalyst to help you create some disciplines that correct your path for the future. I know that sounds arrogant, but you’ve also said we’re supposed to learn from everyone. That we should be asking good questions.

From reading your books, I don’t think you’ve had a ton of experience leading a small church. North Point was a plant/split from your dad’s church that started with 1,000 people. You may not understand the challenges we small church pastors face. We work on strategy and systems in the same way you do, but we don’t have a pool of thousands of people to draw from the implement the strategy. Often times, if we think something is extremely important and needs to be done, we are the ones who have to get it done.

You may not understand what it’s like to have a megachurch down the street from you, and have people leave your church to go there. You may not understand what it’s like to have friends leave your church because the mega church offers more than your church can imagine. There may be a lot of things you just don’t understand because you’ve never had to lead a small church. And to be honest, I refuse to judge you or condemn you for your lack of knowledge. Instead, I’m hoping you’ll learn from us small church pastors. Because while you have things to teach us, believe it or not, there may be a thing or two you can learn from us. And, to be honest, if you’re not willing to learn from me/us, it’s foolish for me/us to continue to learn from you.

As far as I’m concerned, you’re forgiven. I probably put too much stock in your words anyway. So, it’s also on me that I put myself in a position to be offended by your words. At the same time, it does me not good to carry a grudge against you or any pastor. We have more to learn from one another. And if we can all walk a little more humbly, the Kingdom of God will advance in a much more biblical and unified fashion than we have seen in the past.

To my fellow small church pastors who may be reading this letter, learn from me. Several years ago I realized I was allowing pastors such as Andy Stanley and Matt Chandler among others to have too much influence in my ministry. Learn what you can from them, but be more concerned about what God wants to do through you in the church he has you in. He put YOU there for a reason. If God wanted Andy or Matt to be pastoring your church, God would move them there. Can we learn from them? Absolutely. In fact, to this day, If Andy or Matt were to offer to mentor me as a young pastor, I would still take them up on their offer. I don’t expect that to happen. (How awesome would it be if each Mega church pastor took some young, small church pastors under their wing for a year or two or three – at no cost! After all, do for one what you wish you could do for all – right Andy?) But, let’s stop elevating one another as idols in ministry and be more focused on being and doing who and what God wants for us. And don’t use this as a tool to talk down about other churches. We all know, if they were to scrutinize us in the same fashion, they’d find something to make us look bad too.

Anyway, Andy. Thanks for your apology. It is accepted. (Of course, I know about your apology because I follow you on Twitter, maybe I’ll get lucky enough for you to follow me back someday.) And my hope and prayer is that God will use this in your life to further the mission of the Kingdom of God in our modern day and age, and that this may become a tool that actually unites us and sharpens our attack.

You’re an awesome guy who just happened to offend thousands of other awesome men and women who used to look up to you. It just shows us you’re as human and flawed as we are. Who knows, maybe that’s why you said what you said. But, you may want to think a little more carefully the next time before you say something to drive off all the leaders you’ve been trying to lead for the last 10-12 years.

Thanks for listening,

David

 

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Posted on Feb 2, 2016 in Blog, Church, Featured, Truth

Definition: Abide

Definition: Abide

Waiting can be hard. I don’t know if you’ve had to wait for something, but I have. It can be challenging, stressful, annoying. The waiting is often the worst part. We get impatient. We want things now. We can’t wait for our birthday. We can’t wait for Christmas. We can’t wait for summer. We can’t wait for our wedding. We just have a hard time waiting.

Today I would like to look at another word: abide.

What is the meaning of this word that Jesus used in a very important teaching? If you want to know the context of this word, go read John 15.

What is the literal definition?

In the english dictionary the word is defined as:

verb (used without object), abode or abided, abiding.
1. to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.
2. to have one’s abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.
3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.
In the greek dictionary, the definition is similar:
  1. to remain, abide
    1. in reference to place
      1. to sojourn, tarry
      2. not to depart 1a
    2. to continue to be present 1a
    3. to be held, kept, continually
    4. in reference to time
      1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
    5. of persons, to survive, live
    6. in reference to state or condition
      1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
  2. to wait for, await one

There is a key verse outside of John 15 that I want to draw your attention to: 1 John 2:28

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”

Let’s Define it:

Abide means to remain, to continue in, to be present in continually. What is the big deal with “abiding in Christ?”

That’s the key question we need to answer. Why do we need to abide? There are a few reasons:

To avoid drifting

The key temptation we face in waiting for someone is that our focus can drift off to something else. It’s like having kids. You may have noticed it can be a challenge sometimes to keep your kids attention for long periods of time. You may be talking to them, but a bird flies by the window and they’re distracted. Maybe the TV is on in the background while you’re talking and a funny commercial comes on and they get distracted. Or one of the siblings comes into the room and they get distracted. Before long, you realize it’s taken you 15 minutes to say something that should have only taken about 15 seconds.

The same is true for us. We need to abide in Christ, remain in him and be present in our relationship with him so that we don’t find ourselves drifting off course when life comes along to distract us. And it always will. There will always be a distraction. There will always be an opportunity to drift. We must abide.

To produce fruit

From the very beginning of the bible to the very end, God has been in the business of gardening to produce fruit. In this key passage in John 15 we discover the key to producing the fruit of the kingdom. Can you guess what it is? The key to producing fruit is remaining in, being present – abiding in Christ. The fruit of the kingdom is contrary to the fruit of the world. (Yes the world produces fruit – and it’s desirable too, just ask Eve.) If we want to produce the fruit of the kingdom of God which is making disciples, spreading the gospel and seeing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our own lives, we can only do so by remaining in Christ.

To be ready for His return

In  this verse in 1 John 2, we also see that abiding in Christ is what makes us ready for His return.

They key to not making mom and dad mad when they get home from a date is to make sure the house is ready for their return before they get home. And I’m not talking about rushing to clean the house in the last few minutes before they arrive. It’s easier to be ready for their return if we have kept the house clean all along. Other wise, we may find ourselves trying to clean up when they get home a few minutes early.

If we want to be ready for Christ’s return, we must abide in him continually. We must be present with him continually. We must remain in him. This means we are actively working on our relationship with him. This means we are presently pursuing him. This means we don’t wait for Sunday to come to hear from his word, but that we are in his word daily. We are devoted to this relationship and we are going to choose to make our relationship with him a priority. We’re not going to make a mess of our lives all week long and then hope it can be fixed up and cleaned up on Sunday. We’re going to continually reorder our lives around the call of the Kingdom. We will use Sundays as earmarks to make sure we are in a state of constant pursuit.

That’s why abiding is such a big deal. We must abide.

Will you abide in Christ today?

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Posted on Jan 26, 2016 in Blog, Deliberate Living, Featured, Intentional Living

Definition: Personification

Definition: Personification

It’s a fun word when it comes to writing. It’s fun to take an inanimate object and personify it. Me and my spot on the couch are best buddies. He knows me and I know him. When things are rough, my friend knows just how to comfort me.

What does personify mean?

v. to attribute human nature or character to an inanimate object or an abstraction.

That’s how we generally think of the word. But there’s another way the word is often used.

v. to embody a quality, idea, etc. in a real person or a concrete thing.

even better: 

to be an embodiment or incarnation of; typify.

To embody a quality. To be an incarnation of something. In other words, we might say that Joe personifies hard work. Or that Jane is the personification of a caring person. When we look at Joe’s life, we see in him the embodiment of hard work. When we look at Jane, we see in her the incarnation of care.

As believers, we are supposed to be the personification…the embodiment…the incarnation of God’s love.

Pause: what does it mean to be a believer? 

It’s worth figuring that one out. Because the essence of being a believer is not just someone who believes in the existence of something. People will say all the time that they believe in God. But that does not make that person a believer.

In the book of Acts we see the disciples say “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.” (By the way, that word for household is the same word we get our idea of 6 to 8 from – there are 6 to 8 people God has put in your life to reach for His Kingdom.) So, if salvation comes from believing in Jesus christ, then it becomes very important that we understand what it means to believe.

So, what does it mean? Believe means to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, to place confidence in the thing to be believed. Here is the distinction. You can say you believe in God and still not be saved. Belief in the existence of someone or something is not the same as placing your belief in it.

Faith is important, but it’s not just faith. It’s a belief that leads us to change our lives completely. A belief that leads us to place our confidence in Christ.

Think about how you act when you really believe in something. When you really believe in a product what do you do? You completely incorporate it into your life and you tell everyone else about it.

Play: Back to personification

The point of being a believer in Jesus is that our lives look more and more like His life and less and less like the life of others who are still completely entangled in this world. We are supposed to look different, sound different, act different.

When it comes to our families, we love them differently. When it comes to our neighbors we love them differently. When it comes to our jobs, we work differently. When it comes to how we spend our time, we invest it wisely. When it comes to how we spend our money, we don’t hold on to as much as we can for ourselves, but we see it as something God has entrusted us with to build His Kingdom on earth.

We aren’t completely wrapped up in this world any more. We are being untangled. And as we are being untangled, we start to stand out. The more we are untangled, the more we will stand out.

The question is: Based on the actions of your life the past few weeks, would people be able to say that you are the personification of God’s love? Are you noticeably different? Do you make decisions that differ from the decisions your non-believer friends and family make? Of equal importance, do you live your life in close enough proximity to them that they are able to see the personification of this change?

I know I have work to do. I’m not there yet. But I’m getting there. It’s not okay to stay the same. I have to make progress. I have to grow in my walk with God. If I’m not growing I’m dying.

Where are you?

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Posted on Jan 1, 2016 in Blog, Featured, Vision

Let Go, Move On, Use Both Hands

Let Go, Move On, Use Both Hands

There are probably hundreds of articles written and shared today about the one thing you need to do as the new year begins. Lose weight, get organized, spend more time with your family and less time with your phone, and so on. And those are some good things.

But, I would like to propose to you the predecessor to starting anything. Whether you’re starting a new year, starting a new job, a new phase in life or any other new thing, this will help you.

But before tell you about letting go, let me share with you from my own experience. I’ve been in ministry for 15 years. I’ve been around a lot of people during that time. But, there is something I’ve observed. In nearly every church I’ve worked in, there has been something that people were holding on to that ended up costing them.

For some it was holding on to a traditional style of worship. For others it was control over a ministry or program that they had been running for decades. For others, they got overly attached to a leader or pastor.

Then, when it came time for things to change, all hell broke loose. Quite literally.

When the worship style started to change, people started clinging more tightly to it. The style of worship became the most important thing. More important than anything else.

When the leadership of a program was changed, people would try to subvert the new leadership. They would intentionally set up the new leaders for failure by withholding critical information. Or they would gossip behind the scenes to try to create dissention.

When it was time for the pastor to move on, people never gave the new pastor a chance. They would constantly compare him to the old pastor. They would talk about all the ways the new pastor didn’t measure up, or how different he was or about his weaknesses – never giving any credit for his strengths and differences in areas that the former pastor was weak in.

What many of these otherwise wonderful people didn’t realize is that their clinging was only strangling what they were holding so dear.

If you’re going to have any success moving forward in this new year, you’re going to have to let go of last year. You’re going to have to let go of some specific things that will hold you back.

The predecessor to starting anything is letting go of anything that’s holding you back.

What are these things?

The Past, Control and People

1. The Past 

The past isn’t the past if it’s still affecting your present. The past is over. It’s gone. It’s never coming back. Yesterday is gone. There is nothing you can do to change it. There is nothing you can do to fix it. Whatever yesterday was is what it will always be.

So, stop trying to compensate for the mistakes of yesterday by making up for it today.

Another perspective. Things will never be like they used to be. The world is constantly changing. People change. Churches change. Families change. Everything changes. Don’t forget the past, but don’t cling to it any longer. Celebrate what it was.

When we try to cling to the past (which is impossible), we dilute the possibility of today. Today can’t make up for yesterday, but today has tons of potential in and of itself. You are only defined by your past when you stop doing anything of significance today. Make today great, and be determined to make tomorrow great too.

2. Control

You may be a control freak. I’m not. But I’ve worked for a lot of control freaks. I’ve known a lot of people who have a hard time not being in control. If you’re not a control freak and you have one in your life, you know what it’s like.

When life is only what we can control, we’re never open to the possibilities of what exists outside our own abilities.

You can’t control everything. It’s impossible. All you can control is yourself. You can have influence in the lives of others, but you will lose that influence if you try to control. There will be things that happen that you can’t plan on. There will be things that change that you will just have to accept. You cannot control every situation. You cannot control every person.

If you look around you, and you find that you can control everyone and everything, look in the mirror. You’re a control freak. You need to release people to be who they can be, and focus on yourself. Let go.

3. People

We all have people who used to be in our life that we miss. For some of us it’s family. For others, it’s an influential leader. For others of us, it’s a friend. Losing people is hard. Whether someone dies, moves away or simply moves on, it’s hard to lose someone.

But, if we never move past that relationship, we are yielding control to something that never will be. I miss my grandfathers. But, if I never move on and try to make the most of those who are around me today, I severely limit what today can be. I never open up to new relationships – ones that could potentially create more impact and greater memories that before. Aside from family, most of the significant relationships we have lost were at some point new relationships. Don’t miss out on a potentially meaningful relationship because you’re clinging to the memory of a relationship that used to be.

Celebrate the memories of those relationship. Laugh at the stories. Think fondly of the time you had with them. They shaped your life. They helped you become who you are today. But, don’t get stuck there. Don’t stay there. Start some new friendships. Meet some new people. Stretch yourself.

The gist of what I’m saying is, I want you to have an awesome 2016. It will be tremendously difficult to reach new heights if you have one hand clasping to something that was, but will never be again. Stop choking out the possibilities of today by grasping so tightly to yesterday. Let go of it and reach toward something new and exciting this new year.

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Posted on Nov 19, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured

Why We Are So Easily Offended

Why We Are So Easily Offended

I wrote a post a couple of days ago about how annoying Social Media has been lately. If you haven’t read it, you ought to. As a follow up to that post, I have a question to ask you: Have you noticed how easily offended we have become?

Why do you think that is? Why is it that, no matter what you say, there is a good chance you’re going to offend someone? I have offended people by talking about tupperware sippy cups. Seriously. Why have we become offended about everything.

Let’s try it out. I’m not going to say anything offensive in this paragraph, but tell me if you do. It’s offensive to be a Christian, and people are offended by Christians. It’s offensive to be American and americans are offended by people being american. It’s offensive to eat meat. It’s offensive to drink cow’s milk. Those are some of the easy ones to talk about. I don’t even want to mention the others because I don’t want people to be distracted by them.

Why? Why are we so easily offended? It didn’t used to be this way. People have always been offended by things, but not like this. In the past, people would get offended if you said something that they took personally. We would get offended if someone called us fat or ugly, rich or poor, stupid or smart.

Why are we offended by silly things like milk and meat now? I think it boils down to this one thing: truth.

Truth, morality and reality used to be something that was defined outside of ourselves. Definitions to reality existed outside of who we are. Honesty was defined. Integrity too. Our humanity was defined by biology.

That has all changed. Now we define truth, morality and reality within ourselves. We decide who we are and who we are want to be. When we make a stand on something, we are doing so because we are that thing. Whatever the issue is, it’s not just a battle of ideas, it’s personal.

That’s why we are so easily offended. Because when you disagree with someone who has defined their own truth, morality and reality, you aren’t just disagreeing with an idea. You’re actually insulting that person.

It’s the same as calling someone fat, ugly or stupid. (All names I’ve been called, by the way.) You may thing you’re discussing an idea, but you’re not. You’re discussing a person.

This is one reason why absolute truth is so important. Without it, we are at the mercy of the most popular idea of the time. Without it, we are at war with each other.

With absolute truth, we are at the mercy of truth and the God who created it. And He is a God who loved us enough to send his Son to walk in Grace and Truth. He is a God who sent His son to die to pay the ransom for my sins and to restore me into the likeness His son.

Without absolute truth, there is no right or wrong. There is no way to decide who gets to decide. There is no way to determine if I am right and you are wrong. With absolute truth, there is a right and wrong. And, even though you may not think so, that’s a good thing.

Why is it good? Because, let’s say someone breaks into your house, steals your stuff and harms your family. You go to the trial, only to hear the defendant say that he was only doing what he thought was his right. And it just so happens that the jury and judge agree with him. He was doing what he thought was his right. It doesn’t matter how it affected you, because it is what was right for him.

It may seem ridiculous, but it’s not that far off. “But we have laws that protect us against that!?” I know! That’s what I think. But, those laws are continuously being changed to match our new moral relativism. It is not too far fetched to imagine that most, if not all laws will be done away with over time.

And, how do we decide what should be laws if we don’t have any absolute truth to base them on. You may feel that all life is precious and valuable, but that doesn’t mean I do, or that the judge does. If we all disagree, how do we decide what is right and wrong? We are left to do what’s right for us. And if that affects you negatively, that’s just your too bad.

That’s why we’re easily offended. Because we have become the be all end all for everything. We are the source of our own truth. And when something conflicts with that truth, the person doing the offending is in the wrong. I can’t possibly be wrong because I decided it was right in the first place.

If you find yourself being offended about an issue, try to dig into it a little bit. Try to discover if this belief is based on absolute truth or something you have created. If it isn’t, try to discover what the truth is. If you don’t know how to figure it out, ask someone. Ask me, and let’s see if we can’t find the truth together.

As long as you’re interested in the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

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