2 False Assumptions About Sharing Our Faith

Anybody who grew up in church hearing about the great commission has had to deal with two false assumptions surrounding the issue of sharing our faith:

  1. I have to achieve a certain level of competence and have my life together before God can use me.

and

  1. If I were transparent and let people see my weaknesses and struggles, it would invalidate what I had to say about Christ.

Both are reasonable thoughts. I mean think about it, it’s way too easy to compare ourselves to the champions of the faith. We can say “Paul got knocked off a horse by God and was blinded for three days. Of course his faith will be greater than mine.” Or how about “Moses spoke openly with God, He doesn’t do that with just anybody.” This one we’re all guilty of: “I don’t have a crazy testimony; just wouldn’t know what to say.”

All that’s a load of bull.

As with everyone, we all try to and funnel our circumstances into something we think we can control. But as Hebrews 11:1 points out, “Faith is being…certain of what we do not see.” In other words, it isn’t really faith until we get beyond what we can control.

And when we can’t control something everything goes out of whack. We are afraid that if we follow God where leads us, our incompetence will expose us and we’ll look like failures.

Let’s all remember that Paul had to go through years of prison, torture, name-calling, slanderous speech and even hot pursuit. In the early days of his ministry he was continuously kicked out of towns and synagogues for his fearless teaching and bold speech. He even narrowly escaped death in Damascus by being lowered over the wall in a waste basket (Acts 9:23-25).

Talk about humbling.

Years later he shared that out of all his rich years of experience, he singles out that failure in Damascus as being among the very most important of his life (2 Cor 11:32-33). It was important because it taught him that out of he cannot rely on himself. He is not in control of his life.

So what did Paul do that we must also do? “Boast of the things that show my weakness”(11:30). Paul chose to live under submission to the Holy Spirit. In doing so he could reap the rewards of God’s work and not his own.

Little-ant-caught-weight-lifting-resizecrop--

Trusting in the Holy Spirit can be unsettling. On occasion, He might even decide to let us look like failures just to get the message across. That’s why we need our inadequacies. Without them we will never understand our need for true strength.

Realizing and tapping into that true strength can only come through understanding and awakening to our weakness.

In a sense God is saying “You’re better the way you are—weak. That way you aren’t even tempted to trust in your own abilities. I get the glory and you have to fumble around the way you do, “for my power is made perfect in your weakness”(2 Cor 12:9).

It is not the hardship in itself that helps us know God better. It is when we embrace the hardship by faith, seeing it as an opportunity to experience God’s power, that we grow towards maturity.

So, to answer those two false assumptions: no, we don’t have to have it all together to share our faith. Also, that we must embrace our weaknesses and boast in them so that in our humility we can let the light of Christ shine forth into the darkness.

We reveal the reality of the transforming power of the gospel best when we are authentic, honest, and open about our weaknesses.

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How To Rob God

My last post entitled “Stewardship” was all about how to be a faithful, obedient servant. As I thought more about it I remembered the outstanding debt I owe. What debt?

For years I drove around the country with some friends playing music. At night we’d either crash on someone’s floor, stop at a Wal-Mart parking lot and sleep in the van or drive on through to the next town. We even invaded some Lowe’s storage sheds on one occasion (Funny story behind that one).

In recent years I’ve been home working, plugging into my church community and trying to find my niche. As bands come into town I do my best to go connect with them and support them as so many did when I was in their shoes. I keep saying that I’ve got an outstanding debt to repay for all the hospitality that was shown to me. There’s nothing like a hot shower, warm food that’s not from a can or gas station and free wi-fi. So naturally the door to my house stays open when bands or friends need a place to crash.

How this ties in with stewardship is seeing and understanding our role in accommodating and serving those in need with the resources at our disposal. The bible talks a lot about tithing and giving away with the attitude of a servant. A lot of that is trusting the Lord to be faithful to replenish and restore to us what was rightly His in the first place.

Malachi 3 God tells us that,I the Lord do not change.” He says that we are robbing Him when we withhold our tithes and offerings.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” 

Think back to a time when you really needed God to move and make something happen and in His perfect timing he came through and radically showed Himself to be faithful. Have we grown so thick and stubborn that we forget how good He is? His promises are true. He will never give us more than we can handle(1 Corinthians 10:13).

When we withhold from Him what he has faithfully provided us we are in a sense saying, “I earned this myself! It’s mine to keep or use however I please.” By not freely giving back into His hands we are not only withholding a blessing for someone but withholding from ourselves as well.

If God is the giver of all things, can we not trust Him to take care of us in our times of need? Like the widow in the temple(Luke 21) let us be willing to give back to God even out of our poverty and allow Him to pour out His blessing upon us.

As stewards of the Almighty, we all have a debt that we can never repay. Yet as slaves of righteousness(Romans 6) we are obligated to obey as faithful servants. Kind of an odd picture, right? We are slaves yet we serve through love because of the great love bestowed upon us. Thank you, Father!

May we not continue to rob God with our entrusted time, energy and resources but be ever willing to offer them up to Him as faithful stewards of the call.

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2 Important Things I Forget When I Play Dodgeball

Last Wednesday after the normal youth group activities at my church I ran down to the gym and proceeded to pwn some newbs in my favorite game since childhood. Dodgeball. Now, I have a great memory. But most of what I remember are the small, dumb details of my life. Here’s two things I constantly forget when I play dodgeball:

  1. I’m 24 and my body isn’t near what it used to be at 12-16. Those years were the height of my jr. high and high school baseball career so you can guess that my arm and core were in great shape.
  2. I’m 24 and most of these kids are ages 12-16. Oops.

All of those thoughts seem to evade me when I’ve got a big rubber ball in my hands. The only thing I’m thinking in that moment is, “Stand still. Your time has come.” Any pain or fatigue that I may feel tomorrow I will feel tomorrow. I’m not worried about feeling sore or remorse over the bruises to the face or egos of my youth group kids. They’ll be fine.

Thursday morning, however, the entire right side of my body felt like I’d been hit by a train. But I’m writing this on Monday morning 5 days later and I still feel the pain of trying to do something or be someone I’m not.

Often times when we overlook or disregard our current state and try to take on something we’re not prepared for the effects can be devastating. Not only do we affect ourselves but also those around us.

Have you ever found yourself waist deep in a conversation and realized, “Oh snap, I’m not cut out for this one”?I have. I’ve said some pretty stupid things and tried to give advice or console someone where I had no business speaking in the first place.

We need to be smart and prayerful about the battles we choose to fight but we also need to remember that God often puts us in those places where we have no choice but to rely on Him. How do you think the champions of the faith got to the point of no return where they said, “God, you’re gonna have to move this mountain and make this happen or I’m done for”?

“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him.” Job 13:15

I sometimes see faith as a muscle that needs to be worked out and used frequently so that it can be relied upon in times of need. God is our hope and stay. When has He ever left us high and dry?

Funny if you think about, but that may have been the same thought some of my youth group kids had last week before they got pulverized by yours truly, El Toro.

I doubt it. 

Kinda catchy though. El Toro. I like it.

Always remember to remain steadfast in the Word and to exercise your faith so when the time comes you’ll be ready to stand up for what truly matters.

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P.S. I totally forgot about this picture until AFTER I made the El Toro reference. Dodgeball anyone? Awesome

dodgeball

Foot-In-Mouth Faithfulness

I used to hate Arkansas.

Let me rephrase that: I used to hate I-40 east. But if you’ve ever driven even 10 miles down the interstate in my old ’93 GMC 15 passenger band van with 6 other sweaty dudes with no AC in July, you’d understand. Times have changed, freon has been recharged, vans have been totaled and replaced, and I’ve seen enough Arkansas Tourism commercials to cause me to completely recant my former beliefs. Cell reception aside, I’d take Arkansas over most anywhere else in America.

300x300 One night we played at a venue named “The Hole In The Wall” in Atkins, AR. Literally. I was standing behind our merch table watching a band perform when I sent out a tweet saying, “I still have yet to form an opinion about this…band?” Immediately after their set finished, one of the guys(who I didn’t know at the time) walked off stage, pulled out his phone and said, “Hey Clay, explain this tweet to me.”

Shocked at being called out, put on the spot and flabbergasted at the power of twitter, I started sputtering. “What the heck?” I thought. “You really can’t just say whatever you want and never face the consequences.” The band guys were gracious and humorous about the whole thing and we ended up becoming fast friends. They’re still two of the most far out and ridiculous people I’ve ever met.

Being confronted about my words really put me to thinking. Many of us are firm and decided in what we think, say, or post online but are we really faithful to what matters most when we’re up against the wall?

Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can’t see anything.

How about our faith itself?

Faith is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.

This is where obedience comes in. We must ask ourselves, “Am I going to obey and trust Him or will I compromise my words when the waters get rough?”

Thank God for grace.

Thank God for friends with a little extra salt in their pockets to sprinkle on a situation when I say dumb stuff. Our Father does the same thing.

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Perseverance—It’s The Climb

The more you stare at it the higher it gets.

Over lunch at Jimmy’s Egg the other day, I was telling one of my pastor’s about my struggle with wanting to become the man God wants me to be but never want to have to put in the grunt work to get there. He reminded me that God isn’t so much focused on the finished product of what we become but on the process we go through to get there.

If you haven’t read through James recently it starts off with how to deal with temptation and persevering through tough trials. What continually draws my attention is James 1:4:

“And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Just before that James tells us that when our faith is tested it produces perseverance. I think so often we get impatient and focus on our finish lines instead of the hustle and grind it takes to get us there. We want that instant car wash experience.

Babe Ruth struck out all the time. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before finally finding the formula to construct the light bulb. Do you think either would have achieved greatness or notoriety if they’d have given up or said, “It’s not worth it.”

The longer we sit and stare at our problems, the bigger the mountain in our way seems to grow. But we will never reach spiritual maturity unless we strap on our boots and tear a hole up the face of that mountain.

Your patience matters. Your endurance matters. Your perseverance matters.

When you feel God isn’t there or isn’t listening, have faith that He’s on top of it and waiting to see you on the other side.

You can hate on me for quoting a Miley Cyrus song but it’s not always about getting there that matters, it’s about perseverance. “It’s the climb.”

Give God the reigns and let him take care of it. He knows what He’s doing.

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The Worry Wart—Trust

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I meet one-on-one with a few senior guys from my youth group on a regular basis. Usually our time consists of about 45 min of goofing off, eating ice cream and talking about life. Then we get down to business.

The following hour or so is where it gets real and we dive deep into the Word and/or whatever book we’re going through. The purpose of this time is to cultivate and disciple these fellas to love the LORD.

As a 23 year-old, it’s way too easy to forget what it’s like to be 17-18 and trying to figure out what college to go to, whether or not I’ll need to work and all the other stresses that come with young adulthood. I, myself sorta skipped the whole college phase and went right into the music scene/road show circus. I still, however, know what it’s like to be in their spot: faced with a tough decision and having to duke it out to make the right choice.

I get it. It’s scary knowing that whatever decision you make right now could ultimately determine where you end up in life. We all know, we face these questions all the time. Peter reminds us to “cast our cares and anxieties upon Him(Christ) because He cares for us.”

Again, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Just before that He says:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

What I constantly try to remind these guys is that “yes, we need to be proactive and obedient to His call in our lives but also that God will provide our needs and take care of us. In the meantime, ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.'”

Did you hear that? Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. That’s the proper perspective we need to have. Why do we get all bent out of shape when we know that He’s got it down? He’s got our problems and issues under control.

Stop being a worry wart and trust in Him fully, today.

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