In my previous post I said I would share five more insights with evangelical Christians, but I want to detour from that idea and focus on friendship/counseling in this post.
Everyone we know has room for growth. It’s our job as brothers/sisters in Christ and friends to help that process along when necessary. I have found that many of us go about this process while underestimating the role of the Holy Spirit.
So, in hopes that we will avoid this trap, I want to propose three simple actions to substantiate the Lord’s work in someone else’s life.
- Ask really good questions. We can inquire in a way that helps our friends/family see our point. Often people can see the truth better if you guide them to it through intentional questions. We should inquire in a way that helps others to analyze their motives and reasons for thinking and acting the way they do.
- Pray for them. It’s simple, but true. Ask the Lord to deal with the issues you see. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeing your own blind spots.
- Be patient. From my experience, people often grow slowly in their walk with the Lord. As a friend, I want to be gracious and patient as they stumble and stagger when progressing. Practice patience and don’t set expectations in your mind for where you think the individual might be in the future.
All of us have room for growth, so let’s strengthen one another by supporting the Lord’s work in our lives.
I like to observe themes in people groups. The church is a great place to exercise this hobby. I’ve grown up in, and into, an evangelical culture, so I have a decent feel for our strengths and weaknesses.
I want to share five things I wish I could say to every evangelical.
- Relax in God’s grace. Performance and works seem to be the default measure of the value of our faith. We need a big view of works, and a giant view of grace.
- Laugh more. We worry so much about what we can and can’t laugh at that we lose any sense of humor. The evangelical community is short on gregarious Christians.
- Get over our popularity/fame/celebrity culture. We can do great things in the shadows. Millions of Christians have lived in anonymity for centuries, and they were alright. Let’s follow suit.
- Read more. I looooveeeee Netflix! But, a good memoir or novel is refreshing as well. We should allow our imaginations to be stretched more often.
- Enjoy/appreciate the beautiful world that God has made! Aesthetics are a huge part of my faith. I wish we would be a culture of Christians who strive to express beauty in all areas of life. It’s attractive to a dull, lost world!
I’ll share five more with you in my next post. I pray you take these to heart if they’ve resonated with you and that you look to live them out going forward.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NLT)
In American society, grandeur equals greatness. Jaws drop at thunderous slam dunks, minds open at the sound of clever speech, and friendships form around an abundance of finances.
Are those in the bright lights truly great? Does wealth determine worth? We answer “no,” but our actions call us liars.
Christians (as a society) are no better. We say “there are different gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:4) while we fawn over our favorites, proclaiming them to be exceptional pictures of godly, holy living without ever encountering them in private.
I would wager that our society fails to see what is truly great. The man who consistently expresses loves to his children, day after day, sacrificing his own desires for their satisfaction is truly great. The woman who remains faithful, day after day, to a soldier traversing foreign lands is truly great. The child that takes care of an ailing parent, day after day, is truly great.
If greatness is determined when there is no audience, what does this mean for Christians? I believe private acts of love, benevolence, faithfulness, and consistency, both to Christ and others, are what determine the stature of an individual.
It’s easy to act grand when the world watches. It’s what you do when no one will ever know. Those moments determine if we are truly great or if we are another average pretender worshiping the “great” idols of our culture.
“We are church.” Have you heard of it? If not, I’ll share a short synopsis, which leads into my point. We Are Church is a house church movement in San Francisco built of three simple principles: each church meets in a member’s home, is led by two un-paid pastors, and all giving goes to the mission of the church according to the New Testament.
I don’t want to speak to whether or not I agree with the philosophy (maybe later). Instead, I want to use this as a springboard to make a point.
I am encouraged by the conversations I’m having with friends and family. It seems the rigid, inflexible, old school, uber-organized, non-communal church is slowly losing momentum.
This means fewer celebrities and more church families. It means more Christ-centered focus, and less consumer-driven worship. It means more engaged Christians instead of passively surviving lukewarm Christ followers who never get beyond wondering whether or not they’re saved because they spend their days on social media comparing themselves to more popular Christians.
So, I’m encouraged, and I hope you are too! I pray the American church will re-focus on Christ and stop thinking of our wishes and wants. I pray the Lord is glorified, instead of pastors, worship leaders, and Christian mouthpieces.
Having finished my first two semesters of seminary, I took some time to look back on what I’ve learned over the past 10 months. To be honest, there aren’t any deep epiphanies or earth-shattering truths. If anything, this year has instilled in me a greater conviction to be a good listener.
Now more than ever I see the value in soaking up what people say and thinking it through. Not just to hear others, but to internalize what is said. To listen to what the Lord communicates in His Word, through others, and in prayer.
This serves me well in life, in lectures, in church, in relationships…the list continues.
Listening is the on-ramp for learning, avoiding downfalls, increasing in wisdom, loving Christ correctly, being a faithful son/brother/friend. This act can teach us much more than we ever imagined. Those who listen will constantly be presented with opportunities to grow.
So, with one year down and more to go, that’s the most important thing I’ve learned all year. I urge you, listen more, and talk less. The world needs more “hearers” and fewer talkers.
In college I sat under the preaching of Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. There is one quote of his I will never forget:
“You were running so well. What happened?”
I love this quote. It’s not wrought with emotion. It’s cliché-less. It’s pointed. It’s unmistakable. It plays no games.
I ask you the same question. Maybe there was a time when your gaze was fixed solely on the Lord and His priority in your life. Perhaps you lost focus. We all do. It’s human nature. That’s why community is so important. It keeps us going . . . moving forward, pursuing what really matters . . . running well.
I urge you, if your pace has slowed (or maybe you’ve even quit), keep running and find others to run with.
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (CSB)
Emotions are tricky. I’ve said that before, and I’ll continue to say it as I age. God desires His children to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want to make sure this is the case in my life, especially emotionally.
My question for you today is simple. What do you feel when you think/interact/speak of God? Feelings don’t have the final say; truth does. But to ignore the fact that there should be an emotive response at the name of Christ is to ignore a crucial part of the human make-up.
I ask this question because I know many Christians who live “heady” lives, devoid of any artistic beauty in their walk with the Lord.
I don’t think we can justify this way of living with the book of Psalms (51:8; 62.8; 64:1) . It’s counter-biblical to live a spiritual life devoid of emotional care.
So, if you’re caught in a spot of lifeless intimacy with the Lord, milking a parched soul, I only ask that you become aware of it and ask Him to change it. Read more of the Psalms. Write poetry. Sing a song. Find a way to be completely His, emotions and all.