23 December 2009

Colossians 4:5

v5 – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

What is the motive in the life of a believer? What is the motive of your life? What is the goal of your new life in Christ? These questions are essential in addressing your outlook on many aspects of your walk with God. How you view the purpose of your life, especially in reference to the Lord, is going to determine so many things, from your level of obedience to your experience in worship. Answering these questions, aside from the work of the Holy Spirit, may be the most important factor in the vitality of your faith.

Do you view life as a party to be enjoyed; shirking everything you can in order to have fun? Are you looking to have as much fun as possible while you are on this earth? Are you trying to fill your life with exciting experiences and amazing adventures? Is your Christian walk about experiencing as much of God as you can in this world’s pleasures?

If this is your perspective, you will struggle in the faith, for the Christian life is not ultimately about fun. It’s not about getting as much enjoyment out of life as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much about fun as the next guy. I’m all about having a good time and enjoying the fruits of this world. And the Christian life can most definitely be fun, to a greater extent than a life apart from God. But that cannot be the goal of our lives. Our life in Christ is much more important than merely experiencing what the world has to offer, even if it is done in a God-honoring way. Life is not just a party to be enjoyed.

The Bible refers to us as “ambassadors of Christ.” Have you heard that term before? What is the role of an ambassador? To represent the agent who has sent him. So if we are ambassadors of Christ, we are to represent Christ who sent us. We are to take his message to those to whom he has sent us; and those people would be “all nations.” Our new life is about spreading God’s message of redeeming love to a world desperately searching for answers. Our new quest is to share God’s love to a world desperately in want of it. This is the reason we have been left in the world after our salvation: to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). This is the new purpose of our lives.

Two questions you may be asking: Why is this distinction important? And what does it have to do with the verse quoted above? This distinction is important to make because it will determine how you react to things that happen to you. If life is still all about fun, you are not going to be as willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. When difficulty or persecution arises in your walk, you may be more likely to abandon the faith in search of a more “fun” lifestyle than stick it out. It simply won’t be worth it to you.

But that’s not life with Christ. Christ did not save us from a boring life to a more exciting one. He saved us from death, so that we might live. Believing in Christ is not about increasing your happiness; it’s about increasing your holiness. When you take the new perspective that life is about spreading a message of redemption, difficulty becomes easier to accept. In this mindset, a difficult life is not a failure; it’s merely the cost of fulfilling your purpose. You will then be more likely to withstand the pressures and testing, and to be presented before the Lord holy and blameless.

Now, how does this relate to the verse above? Paul tells the Colossians to “make the most of every opportunity.” If you have the wrong perspective, you may think this means to make the most of every opportunity to have fun. But he’s not saying that. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Be smart in the way you interact with the lost. Be intentional in the conversations you have with people at your school. Take every chance you get to share the message of God’s love. Take every conceivable chance to let them know of their sin, of its price, and of the overwhelming grace and love of God. Let that be your outlook on every situation now. Not, how do I make this situation better; but how do I spread the Gospel in this situation. And sometimes it’s not done with words, but merely by showing the love of Christ to someone. Be wise in the way you share; but make the most of every opportunity.

This is my charge to us: let the Gospel be our focus. Let the cause of Christ become our cause, our one and only cause. May we run and fight and struggle to spread the message of God’s redeeming, saving love. And in doing that, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1b).

Shalom Aleichem.

26 March 2009


As many of you probably know, we as a Forge class just got back from our 10 day trip to Israel. We saw some amazing sights, and experienced some intense days, but I feel safe in saying we all have been changed. Our eyes have been opened to the Text in new ways, especially when it comes to our Rabbi. There are so many things I want to say about the trip, but as of right now I am still trying to fight through jet lag. Me and a few of the boys are in the middle of a 36 hour day, and we are trying to stay up until tonight--so right now is definitely not the best time for me to be explaining about the trip. The stories are coming, though (and a few pictures as well). Just wanted you all to know that we made it safely back from the Promised Land.

25 February 2009

Fundraising . . . without the "fun"

Oh the joys of fundraising. If any of you have ever had to do fundraising for an event, you know what I'm talking about. It's a unique situation, one I can't even begin to describe to you. It's definitely one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do in my life. But there are great lessons to be learned from having to go through it.

The biggest lesson is learning to trust in God. I like being self-sufficient and taking care of things on my own, but apparently God has placed me in a position where I cannot provide for myself. I feel helpless and weak, but I'm learning that's where God wants me. He wants me in that place where I am relying completely on Him for all my needs, and fundraising gives you a great opportunity to do just that. I wish it didn't take such a situation in order for me to rely on Him, but that is what it has taken.

Pray for me. Pray for my funding, that God would be faithful to provide, and it would come in on time. And most importantly, pray for my faith. Pray that it would survive this testing, and prove to be a genuine, God-honoring faith.

07 February 2009

Austin Mission Trip: Day 2

Today brought a morning of rest, some great devotional time, and then we were off to Zilker park for some fun and fellowship with strangers. After last night, I was really focusing on having some conversations--on just getting myself out there and letting God provide the rest.

And the great success of today is that I did have some conversations while we were in Zilker park. Talked with Danielle who is a believer, and whose friend was a baby ruth last year at the woods (her name is allison) and was hired for summer staff but cant do it because her parents told her she had to get an internship--and allison is thinking of doing the forge next year. So hopefully we'll get to talk to her at church tomorrow night, but it was great to see how God lead us into that conversation.

Another lady I talked to was named Bekah. We met bekah in line for the girls bathroom (I wasnt waiting for the women's restroom, mind you, I just met up when I came out of the guys). She is a non-believer, and was reading the books "meditation" and "happiness" so she is obviously searching for something. But she wasn't open to talking about the gospel--she said that everyone has their own beliefs that work for them. And then she proceeded to head out pretty quick.

One of the guys I talked to was just a weird situation. He was just kind of sitting off by himself, watching children play play. I went over to talk to him (at the insistence of B-rit), and proceeded to try and talk to him. But his answers were really short, and there just seemed something fishy about him. Finally, after I asked him if where he was from (he had already told me he was not from Austin), he said, "A long way from here," and then got up and just walked away. So again, no gospel presentation--but the more I think about it, the more I am glad I talked to that guy. Even though I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, this guy gave me the heebs, and I was just glad that he went away from where all the kids were playing. Not saying anything was going to happen, but you never know.

As I look back on today, I am happy yet still unsatisfied. It is good that I got out and started to engage strangers in conversation. Getting over that hump was a huge success, and one I know I can now relive on a regular basis. But I am eager to get over the next hump--sharing the gospel with a stranger. Hopefully the next few days will provide me that chance. Tomorrow morning we are going to church under the bridge, which is a church service performed for the homeless under the overpass of a bridge. I hear it's awesome. We are planning on just going and chatting it up with whomever we meet. Continue to pray for us. We've had two good days of witnessing, and we want it to continue. We want to see God do some great work through us before we leave Austin.

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always."

Austin Mission Trip: Day 1

(This blog was actually written yesterday, Friday the 6th of February.)

As the day winds to a close here in Austin (actually, I guess it's just getting started, seeing as its 1:15 a.m.), I figured I would write and give an update on how things are going.

Day one was great. We had some evangelism training this morning, which was good. I got some really good stuff from that. Then in the afternoon I had the chance to relax and actually take a nap. But the big event didn't come until later tonite, when we hosted an FCA Fifth Quarter. Let me tell you, details were all over the place tonite , and schedules were constantly being changed, but we got the event done. And in true God fashion, it was a smashing success. There was an awesome turnout (maybe around 75 people) and the kids were asking Candice (the sponsor for FCA) when the next one was. To be able to give that ministry such a shot in the arm for future events they may do was awesome. And just to be able to interact with the kids and talk to them and support them where they are was great.

But i wasn't happy with my own "performance" tonite. Starting conversations with strangers is perhaps difficulty #1 in my life, and I let myself off the hook tonite. I threw the football with some guys at various times, and juggled the soccer ball with some others, but I just wasn't intentional with my conversations--which is to say that I really didn't start any conversations. As we were driving back to the house after it was over, I was really bummed out about it. But luckily, tomorrow will provide a chance to get back on the horse so to speak--another laid-back atmosphere in which I can have some intentional conversation while engaging in some sports. So if you get the chance, pray for the group--pray that God will continue to work through us here in Austin. We really want to see God do some great things this week, and are praying that he would answer that prayer.

10 November 2008

How do you like the Forge?

People have been asking me in recent weeks what I think of the Forge. They want to know what it's like and how I feel about my decision to come. As to the first question, I can't really give an answer. It's a situation I've never really been in before, something I can't fully describe to someone who hasn't done something like it. It's difficult, fun, stretching, encouraging, heavy, and uplifting all at the same time. There are difficulties, but they are ones that serve to empower and discipline me in my walk with the Lord, who has graciously given me the ability to see these difficulties in light of how He can use them.

And as for the second question, there has never been a time when I have regretted my decision to come. I have never wished I was anywhere else, except I could stand a few days to go visit some of the folks back home who I miss. The time seems like it is flying by, and I never think I've been here as long as I have. I can't believe I've only got 6 more months to be here, 6 more months until the Forge is done and I have to go back into the "real" world and be a light there. But I'm confident that when that time comes, the Lord will have shown me where I am to be next, and He will have prepared my heart and body to be a light right where I am.

21 October 2008

Forge Update

It's been a few weeks since the last update.

Life at the Forge is settling into a routine, which is really not too predictable at all. Our schedule is somewhat set, but at the drop of a hat we can be told to pack our bags and be ready to go somewhere (and its always an unknown destination at that). It's great, though, to have the variety, the spontaneity--plus all the trips are baller-awesome (thats right Jimbo, I said it).

On top of all that, the lessons are starting to get really good and powerful. The classes are really starting to take off, and we are starting into the nitty-gritty of what it means to live in community, how/why we have faith (both in God and in general), and perhaps most powerfully, in learning about our identity (how it is built, and how it should be built). That class specifically is really opening my eyes to what is going on with my thoughts and perceptions about the world, and me in it.

Then there are the lessons learned outside the classroom, which may be the most powerful. Since we have been here, we have been in the process of writing a covenant which will help serve us and sanctify our time here as much as possible. It's taken 6-weeks, lots of meetings, a few moments of hurt feelings, and some awesome worship, but we finally have it. It has been interesting to see how we have been transformed simply by the process of making this covenant. We have been learning what it means to die to the self, to put others before yourself and your own "rights," how not to be a stumbling block to others of the faith, and what it means to live in a community. We have seen with our own eyes what it is to be in a relationship, to be fully invested in that relationship. We have learned that in order to have a successful relationship or community, you have to think of others before yourself. It's not about me or my rights or my preferences; it's about doing what is best for the community, about doing what will best serve and glorify God in that community/relationship (since that is what it exists for in the first place). For us, for this family of the Forge, sacrifice is no longer just a word on a page. Love is not merely a word we throw around without understanding the significance and the implications of its usage. We are learning more and more what love entails, the sacrifice (which can sometimes be extremely difficult) that is so often required for love to survive, the forgiveness that is absolutely necessary to live in close fellowship with other human beings. And all these lessons came in the first six weeks. I can't even begin to imagine where God will take me in the coming months, but know that this program and this place is a blessing which I can't even begin to describe.

I do miss everyone back home, and think of them often. I especially miss three little girls back in Georgia, who by the day are becoming less and less little, but ever dearer to my heart. If you see them, give them a hug for me--and tell them that Chris misses them a lot, and will be coming to see them as soon as he is able.

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."