Created to Care

This side of eternity is scarred by pain, heartache, disappointment, and danger. Simply living can feel treacherous. Because we live under the curse of sin, all of us will suffer circumstances that we would rather avoid.

When God allows life to take us through a valley, it can be easy to lose sight of reality in the shadows. We will experience this, and so will the people in our lives.

As Christians, this should create a unique bond among us. Here is a question for you to consider: how much do you care about other people’s hardships?

Take a second or two to really think through your answer to that question. I have noticed in my own heart and in the lives of many other Christians a coldness towards the suffering of others…until it’s you.

If we wait to care for the hurting until we are hurting, it will be too late. Here are four questions to consider when you are ministering to someone who is suffering. The first two are introspective, meaning they will (hopefully) correct faulty thinking. The last two are calls to action, asking what can I do to help this person through their difficult season. I challenge myself with these questions often.

  1. If I had their circumstances, how would my emotional health be? This question may seem like an odd place to start, but often people who are going through impossible circumstances feel like they’re drowning emotionally. Ask some basic questions about how they are, and if they put a guard up, gently persist. If you show genuine care, you might be surprised at what comes out. The information they share may help them as they get a chance to process with a friend and experience outward sympathy.
  2. Can I be a source of joy for this burdened person? You can see it on their face. It looks like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. I’m an over thinker. One of God’s greatest gifts to me when I’m walking through hard times is friends that make me laugh. Can you be the same source of timely humor for someone who is burdened today? Be on the lookout for a long face.
  3. What unmet needs can I minister to? Sometimes people are hurting physically and could use some help cleaning around their house. Maybe they’re hungry. You may even be able to help out financially with some medication. Without being condescending, check on how their material needs are being supplied and see if you can make any practical contributions.
  4. Have I asked enough questions? Not everyone welcomes questions, but I would bet most people enjoy verbalizing their struggles. It helps dispel loneliness. Ask thorough, genuine questions. They will be so grateful.

Of course, all of these depend on the fact that you actually care. If you feel cold or distant from hurting folks, pray that God might break your heart for the things that break His, then be His hands and feet to minister to the broken around.

Christian Millennial’s Number One Unaddressed Issue

Although we take a lot of criticism, millennials possess many strengths. We yearn for success in our families, handle money surprisingly well (when we have it!), and are notoriously socially inclusive.*

But there is something I believe Christian millennials are doing that I fear will have unforeseen consequences.

I believe the greatest issue facing our generation is a delayed sense of seriousness about the Lord. I have observed a lack of complete submission to the Lord in the millennial workforce and college setting.

I know this feeling well, as this was much of my own college experience. Even while knowing I was called to pursue ministry preparation, I still found myself cyclically walking through seasons asking one big question: Is the price of holiness worth the sacrifice of worldliness? 

This is where our generation is. Many see their peers living in “self-discovery,” experimenting with sin to see which flavor they like better – Christ, or living for self.

Playing with sin puts the Christian in a holding pattern. When we see following Christ in this light, our reasoning says, “I’ll get serious when I’m dating, or married, or when the kids come, or when…” There is never a true resolution because devoting all of ourselves to Christ is a matter of the will, not emotions.

To conclude, the source of this issue is unique to each individual, but we can still trace it’s origin to how millennials answer whether or not the price of holiness is worth the sacrifice of worldliness.

We need to remember that any worldly experience lost cannot compare to the joys of knowing Christ more (Phil 3:8). Obedience is rewarded with a greater knowledge and experience of God. No sin will ever satisfy like the gift of knowing Christ more intimately.

So, I ask my millennial readers, is the price of holiness worth the sacrifice of worldliness? I pray you will answer with a confident “yes.” For my older readers, please help us in this area. We can use your direction! The time to follow the Lord seriously is now!

*The 8 Greatest Strengths of Generation Y. (2014, February 03). Retrieved February 03, 2018, from

The Sting of Regret

Moses hit the rock, so God kept him from seeing the promised land (Exodus 20:12). David slept with his soldier’s wife, so the child died (2 Samuel 12). Peter denied Christ, and was wrought with guilt (John 18:15-27).

Sin has many consequences, but I want to focus specifically on regret in this post. Your soul stings when you have caused yourself unnecessary suffering. Left unchecked, regret will take you by the hand and lead you spiraling into despair. It poisons our faith in God’s goodness.

Like everyone else, there are regrets I live with – needles of the conscience that nag and call for attention. I have learned one very important lesson as a result of dealing with the things I wish I could take back.

Avoiding regret requires self-discipline. Either I will experience the pain of disciplining myself, or the pain of God’s discipline as He corrects and redeems my faulty living. 

Holy living comes at a cost, but so does obstinate behavior. Faithfully obeying God is never as severe as the devastation of sin. So, for those of you wrestling between right and wrong, the choice is simple. Either you will experience the joy of obedience (for righteousness sake, 1 Peter 3:14) or you will pay for disobedience later (as a result of sin, James 1:15).

Since we all have regrets, here are two things we can rejoice in as Christians.

  1. God has promised to work all of actions and circumstances for the good of His children (Rom. 8:28). God can turn regrets into powerful life lessons. We learn deep truths about Him when He corrects us. As we experience His discipline, we come to know His character better and appreciate His awe-inspiring holiness much more. Since His discipline is rooted in love, we are drawn closer to Him, even through the pain we have caused ourselves (Hebrews 12:6).
  2. Regret can be turned into a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 34:18). Regret has a tendency to break us. Why is God close to the broken in spirit? Because His love is compassionate, and the broken in spirit are pliable. They’re tender to the voice of the Savior. They see the truth about themselves compared to the God of Scriptures. The need for intervention is magnified, and there is an increased longing for the Spirit of God. God loves when we learn to rely on Him for all we need. As a result, He draws near to us and we experience a greater intimacy with Him, even though we have messed up. That’s grace.

Regret can be a powerful toxin that discourages the soul. Ask God to reorient your focus when you fight with regret. I also recommend reading Psalm 34 when regrets arise.

3 Questions to Ask Our Rebellious Friends

We’ve all been close to friends who once walked with the Lord but have faded off into different lifestyles. I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that many of us have done the same.

Sadly, I’ve noticed my own generation excusing ourselves during seasons of disobedience. It seems we have bought into a “Christian” version of finding ourselves, where we experiment with sin to see if it’s truly better than following the Lord.

I would attribute the lack of strong Christian relationships as a leading cause. In order to help us be there for those who are faltering to temptation, let me pose three questions to ask our friends (or ourselves!).

  1. Are you joyful? During seasons of disobedience it’s easy to feel weighed down. This happens because our identity in Christ is in direct conflict with our uncharacteristic actions. There can be no peace where we are stirring up tension between following Christ and following our own desires. Sin may produce fun results for a season, but it will never satisfy like joy in Christ.
  2. Are you fearful? Disobedience can often lead to unhealthy and unbiblical levels of fear. These fears could be of unfortunate circumstances or God’s discipline. They often spiral into wondering if God will “spite” me for the wrongs I’ve done or if my life will drastically fall apart because of my selfish actions. Pure, honest, and obedient living will always give you peace about what God will allow in your life because you know that You are not fighting against His will for you.
  3. Is there something bigger going on than just behavior? This will probably be a “yes” almost every time. Maybe your friends are going through a struggle and they are bitter towards God. Maybe they were never really saved and are starting to express their lack of conversion. Possibly, he or she is in need of a Christian friend who offers positive peer pressure. The reasons could be endless, but we are called to be a reflection of Christ’s love and friendship no matter what.

As always, pray for wayward friends, and we must be careful to remember that we are never too good to stumble in our walks with the Lord (1 Cor. 10:12, Gal. 6:1-2).

A Hidden Gem in the Christian Life

I hope you occasionally sit back and observe the ways of godly older people. I consider this somewhat of a pastime for myself. Imagine the wisdom you can obtain if you try to see life through their eyes. Their perspective is one of understanding.

If I could pick out one specific thing I’ve learned the most from this crowd, it’s this – balance.

Here are three specific aspects of balance I’ve learned from those older than I.

  1. Balance isn’t sexy. How many movies have you seen about a man who handles his finances well, lives modestly, balances work/home life, and lives with discernment? Not many, if any. It’s sad but true. The best way to live is the least glorified. Our culture values flashy displays of passion and excess much more than controlled living.
  2. Balance requires consistent discipline for years. Some of us are “fad” people (guilty!). We go in and out of seasons of spending, TV, books, exercise, and just about anything else that is fun at the start. But, there is a ton to be reaped when we sow for decades the same seed. It will certainly yield an abundant harvest.
  3. Balance trains us to be godly. Since balance takes discipline, it also incorporates many aspects of spiritual self-control. Learning self-discipline in all areas can have positive effects on our walk with Christ (example, consistently spending time with the Lord even with a busy schedule). Balance helps us to keep all things in their proper place in our Christian walks.

I pray that I will grow immensely in this area. I hope you join me in asking yourself how you might balance your life to show the whole character of Christ.

How Music Affects Emotions

I love music, and if you know me personally, you know this to be (probably annoyingly) true. I can spend countless hours on Spotify crafting the right playlist for the right mood. There is a powerful satisfaction in a song that resonates with your exact feelings or takes your emotions to a place you didn’t know you wanted to go.

I’ve often analyzed the concept of music’s power over our feelings in conversation and personal thought. Here are three observations about music and our emotions.

  1. Music helps our hearts emote (emoting is when we express what we feel). Like reading poetry, music puts into words those deep seeded stirrings that we struggle to properly express. It allows for honest realization of any particular emotion, and provides a safe and healthy outlet.
  2. Music helps us move beyond emotional handicap. Identifying feelings is important, but music’s purpose can come full circle when we pay close attention to our listening patterns. For example, sometimes I’ll find myself listening to a lot of melancholy music. I can then process through why I might be doing that and address any hindrances if I need to (there may not always be an unknown reason; i.e., sometimes sad music is just pleasant).
  3. Music soothes loneliness. It’s comforting to know that someone has experienced a similar heartbreak. On the other hand, you can be overjoyed when someone puts words to that “sunny Saturday afternoon windows down driving weather” kind of feeling. Either way, it’s a simple reminder that at our core, people are quite similar.

Music does so much more than those three things, but those are the first that came to mind as I sat down to write. I encourage you to ask yourself what music does for your emotions. I’ll bet you will be pleasantly surprised at your answer.

The Simplicity of Relationship with God

Sometimes we overthink our relationship with God. Have you ever heard of this routine?

Three chapters of Bible reading, ideally dispersed throughout Old and New Testaments, combined with a less-read portion of Bible. Follow that with two sermons from two different, favorite preachers (each 45 minutes or greater in length). Tier one of prayer (sedentary prayer, of course) – 30 minutes, tier two – 1 hour, expert – any amount greater than 2 hours. All of this must be followed by quality worship music in transit to obligatory location for the day, followed by superior moral living. Once this routine is complete (preferably before 8 am), then one has communed with God. 

That paragraph is laughable. Some of you might even be a little peeved. “That’s not how it works!” 

You’re right. It’s not, yet at times we still tell ourselves the ritual above is the true Christian walk. Although all of those things are wonderful routines (and I would highly recommend each one), they neglect the simple beauty of the way God has organized this whole relationship.

God has made the instructions simple enough for a child to walk with Him, yet rewarding enough for the deepest intellect.

Read and communion (with God through prayer and with His church). 

Are there complications along the way? Of course. Will our world push us to overcomplicate and search to no end for solutions? Indeed. Does suffering make life messy? Always. Is following Christ black and white? Nope.

But, God keeps the ground rules simple for us. He always meets us in the quiet place. Maybe you’re reading this and you have recently felt that your walk with the Lord has become unnaturally complicated – like you’re trying to accomplish it more than enjoy it. I wonder if the missing ingredient is the simplicity of fellowship with God…that we read his Word, and we talk to Him and his people (the church).

Don’t let over-active spirituality and box-checking take the place of personal investment in the Bible and prayer. Keep it simple. It’s refreshing.