Quote: Wrestle With Anger

You can tell God all your horrible feelings of revenge and retaliation. Be honest about that. Christians sometimes feel they have to “nice-up” their prayers, but if you read Psalms or any of the prophets, you’ll see they are just as crazy as you and me. Let God handle the ugly force of your anger. Each day just wrestle with it, between you and Him, each night put it back on the shelf, and the volume of your hurt will decrease. It’s slow, but honesty is the start to healing. Don’t hide it — God is there to hear your venting.

— from this post


Getting Advice From Non-Christian Friends

Anonymous asked:

Is it wrong of me to go to my non-Christian friends first when I need someone to talk to? I feel like other Christians would judge me and yell at me more than actually hear me out.

There is this myth going around that atheists eat babies, punch cops, and commit mass genocide, while the truth is that anyone is capable of atrocious crimes.  Anyone is also capable of companionship because of God’s common grace.

It’s not wrong to turn to ANY listening ear when you need someone.  It’s true that many Christians have done a terrible job of simply keeping the mouth closed and being present with someone.  You’re not wrong to feel this way.

The difference comes when you start seeking advice.  Here I’d recommend you to find at least a few mature Christians who will speak both grace and truth to you when you’re ready to receive it.  You don’t want people who are “Yes Men” that only tell you what you want to hear.

Let’s consider a few things about “advice” before we get into the difference of Christian wisdom.

Continue reading “Getting Advice From Non-Christian Friends”

Quote: Striving

“Legalism is a state of the heart and not your hands. It’s about self-righteousness versus Christ-righteousness. One has it going on with the Lord; the other is basically in love with his own reflection.

Striving is okay. Putting effort into opening your Bible does not automatically equate to dismissing Jesus at the door. If you’re the kind of person who needs a scheduled prayer time in the morning, that doesn’t mean you’re defying the grace of God. He is not offended that you’re using some of your willpower. He’s also cool with you reading your Bible while you eat, on the way to work, or even in your — gasp! — least awake part of the day.

God is not put off by any of that. Because ultimately the power to chase after God comes from God Himself.”

— from this post

Throwaway Phrases: “He Was Passing Through”

A lot of the miracles that Jesus performed happened as “he was passing through” from one place to another.

Along the way, Jesus suddenly made “by-the-way” pit stops, and someone’s life would change forever.

To the disciples and the average bystander, these encounters looked random and haphazard. Some looked dangerous.

Jesus passed through Samaria, a town where there was fierce mutual animosity with the Jews because of a feud that was centuries old. He could’ve easily circumvented the area — but he had an appointment with this Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus didn’t care about racism or class warfare or family feuds: his own bloodline was coursing with Rahab, a pagan prostitute, Ruth, a Moabite foreigner, Judah, a philanderer, and David, an adulterer and murderer.

Yet he crossed these worldly boundaries — even the infinite distance between Heaven and earth — and met us broken people in all our grit and dirt. He was never just passing through. He was always reaching across the great divide into the human heart.

Continue reading “Throwaway Phrases: “He Was Passing Through””

Quote: Special Class

Jesus did not die for a ‘special class of sinner.’ He died for everyone. He went to the beggars and bums, the rich aristocrats, the blind and lepers, government officials, Pharisees and the demon-possessed, the children and old women, the Greeks and the Jews, the Samaritan at the well and the Roman general, and you and me. He even looked at a dead person in a grave and thought, ‘I can do something with that.’ Jesus simply loves; no conditions, no second-guessing, no exceptions.

Question: Praying For Jerks And Worse

Anonymous asked:

I find it difficult to pray for my enemies. I mean, it’s obvious that it wasn’t meant to be easy, but, Jesus instructed us to. What I find most difficult about that instruction is, where do I draw the line with praying whether or not God gives unto my enemies 10x what they did to me (if that’s even biblical at all?) Most importantly, HOW, do I pray for them?

When God says, “Love your enemies,” every single person in the world has a story of why that can’t possibly happen. 

If you and I were to sit face to face across a table over coffee, and you were to explain your story, I would be tempted to agree.  Most times I am tempted to get in a car and go Tony Jaa all over that guy who hurt you.

Here’s the thing: when we use the word enemy, we’re saying some person who is a one-dimensional horrible evil monster that twirls his mustache at night and dreams of ways to torture you.  But besides the rare historical exception, that person almost never really exists. 

Continue reading “Question: Praying For Jerks And Worse”

Freedom to Love, Fail, and Act A Fool

I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully free to do exactly what I wanted to do.

What I mean is: I’m always worried about the piercing eye of perception from others around me.  I modify my voice to fit the crowd, change my opinions just enough, maintain the appropriate social standards, keep an invisible distance between who I really am and how I want others to perceive me.

A few days ago I texted a friend: “I thought I saw you, looks like your twin.”

She said, “Go up to her and tell her!  Show her my picture!”

And I replied, “I can’t just do those things.”

But — why not?

Continue reading “Freedom to Love, Fail, and Act A Fool”

Quote: Everyone Kindly

The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds him liking more and more people as he goes on — including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

— C.S. Lewis

Quote: Lifetime

Whenever someone tells me, ‘Yeah I went to that church and the preacher was just so awful, yelling at us and and everything; that praise leader was so arrogant; that usher was so rude’ — I always cringe just a bit. Because I was the guy who yelled, too, and God patiently softened my heart over the years. Maybe that pastor really is a jerk, I don’t know, or maybe he was just having a bad day. But really you should give him the same grace that you were looking for. You don’t have to go back there, but please don’t judge a fraction of God’s work over a slice of someone’s lifetime.

Who He Is

One thing about serving food to the poor and homeless is the unavoidable excitement in giving.

Today I served potato salad, and I swelled up each time someone said “yes” and I threw down a helping on their plate. I imagine this is how our Heavenly Father feels when a helpless, poor, broken dude like me or you looks to His grace and says, “Yes.”

This is who we are and who He is.

Quote: Overruled

“The miracle of the Gospel is that only God’s opinion of you matters now. That includes your own opinion of yourself. God says you are accepted, clean and just as righteous as Jesus, and God will not allow His opinion of you to be overruled. You are what He says you are.”

— Lee Younger

Question: Can’t Break The Habit of Religious Fear

Anonymous asked:

Hello, so I’ve only been following and believing in God out of fear. And at the end of the day, it’s not the right way to follow him and forcing myself to believe him isn’t really doing anything for me. I don’t know how I can *really* get to know Jesus, but since he’s coming back soon (which is why I’m so scared) it’s really hard to go to him because I want to, but it’s just because I’m afraid. Help please thanks

My friend: let’s take a huge breath and relax.  Let it out slowly.  Go to the nearest grocery market and get some Haagen Dazs and Gardettos snack mix.  If that’s not your thing, type in the keyword “lol cats” and enjoy that until your brain is decompressed.

The problem with fear is that fear consumes more energy than it creates.  While it might work as a motivation for a little while, it can’t sustain itself for long-term living.  Having done martial arts my whole life, I’ve had my share of really scary masters, but we secretly hated those guys.  We did what they said but really just resented them.  Those easygoing masters, while they didn’t have us jumping up instantly, were better trainers for the long haul.  We respected them more because we actually liked them.

I understand that “Jesus coming back” or “Hell” or “punishment” are all legitimate reasons for fear, but none of these are even close to the focal point of a sincere relationship with your Heavenly Father.  A pastor once said, “God is like a dad who wants to be with his kids and enjoy them.”  That was, by the way, said by a very-Reformed Calvinist who subscribes to all that hyper-fear theology.

Think of it this way: When you have kids one day or you do have kids, is your main goal for them to be scared to death of you?  That they would force themselves to get to know you?  That they’d be trembling up to the second you come back home from work?  Of course not.  You’ll walk through the front door of your home with open arms and receive them when they run towards you.  Because you love your kids.  Even when you discipline them, the motive is out of love.  God loves you even infinitely more than that.

Continue reading “Question: Can’t Break The Habit of Religious Fear”

Quote: Genuine Freedom

The church should be a place where we can say anything and know we won’t be kicked out, where we can confess our sins knowing others will help us, where we can disagree and still be friends. It ought to be the one place in the world where we don’t have to wear masks. And, should that happen, the world—where phoniness is the standard—will flock to our doors. Why? Because freedom, genuine freedom, is an attractive commodity.

— Steve Brown

Throwaway Phrases: “But As For Me And My House”

There’s a cool phrase in the Bible that shows up in the Old Testament at least a dozen times. It’s one of those things we can gloss over, but it’s woven in so persistently that the thread is undeniable.

My favorite instance is in the Book of Joshua, where he says:

“As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.”

Continue reading “Throwaway Phrases: “But As For Me And My House””

“Christian Introvert” Published at ChurchLeaders.com

My post about Christian introverts was published at ChurchLeaders.com …!

Check out the original post on my Tumblr here or my blog here.

Thanks for the encouragement and love you guys!

— J

Question: I Don’t Think I’m Elected …!

Anonymous asked:

I tried to get saved. Quit everything that was keeping me from God, you know? Two weeks. I failed, and after praying and reading the Bible, have come to believe in election. Acts 13:48 and John 13:18 (in context) I don’t really know what to do now. It hurts too much to read the Bible.

(Made you anonymous just in case.)

There are some weeks I feel like I’m in an episode of Scooby-Doo, where at the end of the episode I unmask a Neo-Reformed Calvinist and we can all relax again“So here’s the guy who’s been causing all the fear.  It’s just a blogger who plays XBox all day and retaking the 13th grade.”

My dear beloved friend: I’m not sure how you’ve been misinformed, but somewhere along the line you’ve been sold a line of lies that isn’t working.  There’s a whole mess of stuff to work through here, so I’ll try to keep it real simple.

Continue reading “Question: I Don’t Think I’m Elected …!”

Quote: Don’t Care

“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly, I don’t care.”

— Donald Miller

Insecurity Is Not A Sin: But It Doesn’t Work Either

A dear sweet young lady with tears filling her eyes asked me, “Is insecurity a sin?” — and I said as hard as I possibly could, “No, no it is not, and God loves you exactly as you are.”

She was anxious, afraid, trembling, and completely ashamed of herself. I understood: because inside all of us is that scared twelve-year-old kid who is terrified of screwing it up, having convinced themselves they’ve missed the bus on life or that everyone else has got the secret-sauce to success.

But I also knew that insecurity could lead to some bad places, so I told her —

“I think you just need to let yourself out to play.”

On one hand, I’ve seen how insecurity can spark the worst sort of hatred. It can force a desperate, manic heart of compensation by constantly trying to out-perform the next guy in the room. It protects itself so it’s easy to get offended, to have a hyper-sensitivity, to misinterpret harmless words as an attack, to jump to wild conclusions, to throw people into defense, to hold a self-pity that expects apologies, and to go down rabbit trails of “I don’t like how you said it” instead of focusing on the actual issue. That’s a lose-lose situation.

There’s also that slimy little insecure monster that abuses authority and wreaks hell on others: “I can’t stand that you’re better than me, so instead of working on me or learning from you or supporting your growth, I’ll just ruin you to feel better about myself.” I’ve been in the direct path of that whirlwind.

That doesn’t mean he’s such a bad dude: he usually doesn’t know he’s doing it. He’s too insecure to admit he’s insecure. He’s accustomed to people talking in circles and no one has really taken him to the side and said, “This is not okay.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to be truthful with an insecure dude only to see a pushback with the force of a nuclear bomb, because truth is too painful and “church-nice” is such a top priority.

This isn’t cute, and it doesn’t work.

The sooner you can see that, the sooner you can get the help you need.

On the other hand, there’s the heart-breaking story: that insecurity can poison someone on the inside until they feel worthless, incompetent, unloved, and barely third place. It prevents someone from speaking up, going out, enjoying company, and feeling any peace about themselves. It’s devastating and hardly holding on: “I don’t deserve good out of anything because I’m anything but good. No one could possibly like me for who I am.”

And I’m telling you: you’re dead wrong.

You can totally let yourself out to play: and anyone who has a problem with that says more about them than you.

Continue reading “Insecurity Is Not A Sin: But It Doesn’t Work Either”

Question: How To Encourage Your Pastor (They Really, Really Need It)

Anonymous asked:

What can I say or do to encourage my local pastor? I know that you are a pastor yourself and I’d like to ask you, a pastor, what pastors need to hear.

Thank you so much for this question.  If I knew you, I’d buy you any coffee you want and give you a long forty second hug.  I did write a super-long post on this before, but since ministry has gotten even tougher here in the last few weeks, I’ll go at this question again.

Continue reading “Question: How To Encourage Your Pastor (They Really, Really Need It)”