Would You Take a Selfie With God?

No matter how old you get, I think you’ll agree that none of us will ever forget the friendships we had in High School. Those were formative years of our adolescence. And if you were anything like me, you had different friendships.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

I had 2-3 friends that my parents didn’t care for. They would strongly encourage me to stay clear of them. “That guy’s bad news, Brent” they would say. “They’re going to just get you into trouble.”

Generally speaking, they were wrong. One friend, however, they were dead right on with…..but that’s a different blog post 🙂

I digress.

Have you ever viewed God as a friend? You know, like the friends you associated with in school? Well, this thought entered my mind recently and I ended up mulling over it a while.

selfie.002

Whether you already have a relationship with God or not, I think this concept of the Creator of the Universe actually wanting to have a real friendship with you and I is difficult to grasp. I mean….he’s God! But he still calls us ‘friends.’

Anyway, the more I thought about it I determined that there really are two types of friend that God offers to us. See what you think.

Friend #1 – That friend you have a lot in common with. You have so much fun just being together and in each other’s company. It doesn’t even matter what you’re doing. You really look forward to spending time together. This is the friend you’ve taken selfies with in about HALF of your Instagram feed.
Friend #2 – The person you work to build a relationship with because of what you can gain from them. Maybe because of who they know, what they have, or the position they hold. This friendship is not the kind that just evolves naturally. It requires initiative, but the investment is worth it!
I would argue that there are aspects of both in God. The longer we know him and spend real time with him, the more comfortable we become. The more we learn that he really is very relational.
Additionally, I’d be willing to bet that God would take the most epic selfie! (we just might have to edit the brightness down afterward)

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INKED with Intent

Tattoos have gained increasing acceptance in our society in recent years.  It used to be only the rebellious outlaw types had tattoos.  Bikers, convicts, etc.

Not so much anymore (although I am secretly rebellious).

If you follow this blog much, you know that I write a lot on leadership and Biblical encouragement.  That said, this post is not going to address any Biblical position about tattoos.  If you are a follower of Jesus and do not think believers should have them I totally support your personal views.  This is not a right vs. wrong post, so please refrain from making it one.

This is simply sharing my personal story surrounding my tattoo.

So, love it or hate it…..here it is!

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The pocket watch | It is slightly warped, as if beginning to melt.  It has typical roman numerals for time, but if you look closely the hour and minute hands have been replaced by the magnet needle of a compass.  There’s lots going on here.  This pocket watch looks a bit different.  The same can often be said of God’s TIMING and DIRECTION in our lives.  As we follow His guidance in faith, His ‘where’ and ‘when’ usually don’t look a thing like our plans.  Can you relate?

The puzzle | If you’ve done many jigsaw puzzles you know that the best method is to start with connecting all the border pieces.  Then you fill in toward the middle.  Notice, my tattoo has no border yet.  It also has a couple pieces laying off to the side…not put in their respective place yet.  Ok, so two things here.  1) God’s way of piecing together our image of Him doesn’t seem logical.  He works from the inside out!  2) Those two pieces off to the side?  Yeah, He’s never really done artistically rendering us.  There will never be border pieces when we allow God to continue working on us.

Conversation | Those who have tattoos have stories behind each one.  They can tell you precisely what it means to them.  For me, the design was meant to hold a bit of symbolism as to create intrigue.  When people ask about it, that’s my window of opportunity to share my story of walking with Jesus.  How it isn’t always easy or clear, BUT that He has ALWAYS BEEN THERE with me every step of the way.

* Minor side note:  This tattoo looks FREAKIN’ AMAZING!

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and God Bless!

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It’s Not a Witness Protection Program

A witness protection program is offered by the government in exchange for testimony that could convict a dangerous or most wanted criminal. After testifying in the courtroom, the witness is given a new identity. The protected witness’s new identity includes a new name, Social Security number, birth certificate and place to live. Every effort is made to ensure that the person’s prior identity is destroyed so a new ‘safe’ life can begin. The intent is to protect the individual, who essentially goes into hiding…maybe even permanently.

This is NOT the case in the Christian life.

witness protection

When you and I witnessed the grace, love and mercy of what Jesus did on the cross for us, our identity changed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

No name or driver’s license number was altered, but our entire being was transformed. God gave us a new life and new eyes to see things the way He sees them.

Unlike the witness protection program, our new identity in Christ is not intended to protect us. The opposite is true. God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Instead of taking that new identity and keeping it from everyone, you and I are supposed to share it everywhere we go. In fact, our story involves telling others about both of our identities…past and present. Why? Because there is power in transformation. People tend to take notice of a changed life.

Many people are lost and need to be transformed. God expects us to go and share the gospel message with the world around us. Instead of hiding from the world, we are called to abide in the Word. His Word says to “go” (Mark 16:15).

Your ID badge labels you an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Your new life creation involves a new mission. This transformed identity moves us away from a life of self-serving, and into a life of serving God and others. Who can you share your identity in Christ with today? Maybe a better word here is …who ‘should’ you…?

How drastic has the difference been in your new identity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment.

 

photo credit: http://www.redstate.com

 

 

 

I Can’t Talk About Jesus With Others

Have you ever said (thought) those words?  I know I have in the past.

So, what prevents us from speaking about Christ to those we interact with every day?  Why is it that talking about Jesus on Sunday feels just fine, BUT it feels awkward at the grocery store, gas station, or workplace?

complicated

I suggest 2 possible reasons this can be true for many believers:

Acknowledgment | What are you and I taking notice of in our ordinary daily lives?  If we’re not NOTICING God’s hand throughout the week (and even outside of trials and stress), we are obviously not going to be mindful to mention Him.  This is a dangerous place to be, because when we don’t acknowledge Jesus in our relationships, successes, and personal growth we take credit ourselves!  And eve if we don’t SAY IT, simply NOT giving Him credit assumes an unhealthy level of autonomy.

Excitement | Think about this.  We rarely find it difficult sharing our excitement with EVERYONE when our team experiences a huge win, when we’ve had a big personal success, or after we return from the most amazing vacation EVER.  The details and passion within these personal experiences come through easily and quite clearly, don’t they?  I would conclude, then, that our excitement and energy around the things of Jesus can have a direct effect on how much (if at all) we share his involvement in our lives with others.  If we are not excited about Jesus adjustments must be made.  Something needs to be changed so we can experience Him in new and fresh ways.

Take a look at the attitudes of Peter and John in Acts 4:20 (emphasis is mine).

“…for we CANNOT but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

The attempts to hush Peter and John were unsuccessful.  Their experiences and beliefs were so strong that they COULD NOT refrain from speaking of Jesus.  Notice this passage does not use the phrase ‘will not.’  It would seem that their situation went beyond obedience.  Witnessing about the life of Jesus was not an option.  It was practically automatic.  To refrain would require much effort.

How do we get to the place that Peter and John were?  Well, the excitement and acknowledgement needs to be there first.  Next, intentionality and desire must follow.

Lord, may you give us eyes to see your works in our lives…and a humble love for others to want to tell them about it.

 

 

The Gospel, Brewed With Old Coffee

photo by: www.fredericpatenaude.com
photo by: http://www.fredericpatenaude.com

I LOVE espresso!  And I’ll admit….I’m addicted.  I’m one of those crazy, moody people who get that ‘I’ll kill you’ look in the eye if I don’t have my strong coffee first thing in the morning.  I’ve even been known to take my french press with me on leadership retreats (because they NEVER have decent coffee).

Once or twice in the last 20 years, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of using coffee grounds from the day before to make my espresso in the morning.  Why, you ask?  Either poor planning or it was simply the end of the paycheck.  It doesn’t matter, though.  No matter the reason, don’t ever do this.  It’s watered down and nasty!

The same is true with the Gospel message.  God’s Word should be strong, tasteful, and fresh every time it is heard.  But like using old coffee grounds to cut corners, the scriptures can be cheapened….and often are.  For those of us who are key leaders in the Church, this represents poor character and communicates a weak image of God.  Wouldn’t you agree?

I don’t need to spell them out for you.  There are numerous moral and social issues in the news every day that boast health and unity, yet run cross-grain to the Word of God.  And the worst part…many pastors are allowing the Bible to be diluted by political correctness, social rights groups, and Hollywood agendas in order to not offend anyone.

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”     2 Timothy 4:1-5   (NLT)

photo by: leadershipfreak.wordpress.com
photo by: leadershipfreak.wordpress.com

My encouragement (and plea) to any pastor reading this post is to preach with boldness God’s truth.  Communicate what it says without running it through the news media filter first.  Doing this just might get your church ridiculed in the local paper, result in hundreds of people ‘unfriending’ you on facebook, or even cause members of your own family to treat you differently.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather endure these kinds of social scoffings than have Jesus himself look me in the eye and tell me that I watered down what He died for.  Just teach what the Bible says…God will take care of the Pharisees of today.

What are your thoughts?

 

Yesterday’s tools: Ineffective!

Wow…1891 to 2007  is represented in this picture.  Roughly 116 years between these two phones and the primary function remains the same…..communication.  The rotary phone could make single phone calls.  That’s it!  It couldn’t take messages, offer call-waiting or conference calls, or utilize a contacts list for speed-dialing.  The iPhone, however, can do all these…plus countless additional methods to send and receive information.  Here’s the problem with the rotary phone today.  It can’t be used with today’s technology!  It has become obsolete.   The need for making phone calls, however, still remains a need today.

Question…

How would you personally react to a friend of yours if they were insistent on keeping their rotary phone and refusing to move forward with technology?  One might think they are ignorant, irrelevant, and/or disconnected from society.  Ironically, many of our churches are like this person.  Figuratively speaking, they are attempting to Tweet, Blog, and Facebook the vision of their church and the love of Jesus…using a rotary phone!  These churches are becoming ‘ignorant, irrelevant, and/or disconnected from society.’  Now, can they still ‘DO‘ good works for the Kingdom?  Absolutely!  Many times, however, the topic turns to audience.  Who and how many do you want to reach with the Gospel message?

I don’t recall who actually coined this statement, but I remember it from a conference a few years ago.  Referring to the Gospel they said, “Its necessary to constantly change HOW we spread God’s Word, so long as the Word itself doesn’t change.”  Jesus modeled this for us.  He taught outside in public gatherings.  He also used parables.  He realized that if He only taught in the synagogues His audience would be limited.

In what ways is your church using Social Media to advance the Kingdom?  Or…if you have been resistant to, what have been your reasons?