“We Need More People!” Obamacare and Discipleship

I’ve got a friend who’s gearing up for med school here in the next year or so. As we drove home from a wedding last weekend he was talking about the future of medicine and what that field will look like in the next 15+ years. A point was made that even though law schools are pumping out recording numbers of applicants, those job opportunities are drying up.

When the question of was posed of whether or not it’s similar with the medical field my friend immediately jumped in saying, “no way, we need more people!”

With all the new healthcare laws and legislation being passed we’re only just beginning to see and understand the lasting effects of what all this means for the future of medicine. Apparently doctors are now having to squeeze in 5-6 patients in an hour instead of the normal 3, allowing less time for checks ups and diagnosis. Thus our doctors are getting overworked and burned out from the sudden influx in their workload due to the new healthcare reform.

Hearing my buddy say “we need more people!” with that much gusto really got me thinking about the urgent importance of discipleship and evangelism. As Obamacare ushers in a new generation of healthcare reform we can see that we are facing issues and culture changes that we have never seen before. With the rise of the internet, social media and everything else we use to “stay connected” with our world, there are even more opportunities to shine a light in dark places that have ever been available to us.

Everything is changing around us. There is nothing new about sin, however, we’ve just found new ways to do it.

As humanism continues to take root in the heart of man we turn inward to answer our questions and solve our long-trevailed problems.

And therein lies the core issue: we turn inward.

To what?

To whom?

We cannot rely upon our own inward wisdom or tendencies to lead us in the right direction. Jeremiah 17 reminds us that:

9. The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

 But praise God for His promise that:

10. “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

Since we cannot trust ourselves to fix our problems we continue to fall upon Christ at the foot of His cross daily in reverent prayer that He would lead us and push us on towards a pro-active, sanctified life.

Again we are reminded of the urgency of our mission as believers. According to americanvision.org:

“The statistics are staggering, 80% to 85% of young people leave the Church, never to return. As evolution, humanism and atheism continue to infiltrate our schools, theaters, magazines and television, our young people are faced with hard questions. If we send our children out into the world, unequipped to answer the hard questions and lacking a solid foundation in God’s Word, we should not be surprised if they fall away.”

See more about this article here.

In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus “said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”

Those words “we need more people” are also true about the future of the church. Though the above statement is true about much of our young people in the church I look at the church and see a new generation of believers who are pushing forward, seeking Christ and hell-bent (ironically) on making a change for the kingdom.

To fix those staggering statistics and keep our young people in the church we don’t need more programs, more youth events, more culturally relevant topical lectures. The answer is not more of what is driving them away.

We need the gospel. We need it to be lived out through our lives and to pursue and disciple those young people.

We have our work cut out for us. Whether we be doctors, lawyers, legislators, pastors, or landscapers, we are to be disciplers of Christ.

The harvest is plentiful but “we need more people!”

Will you answer the call?

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The Gospel Pizza Delivery Man

Last Friday I started delivering for Marco’s Pizza. I’m only doing a few nights a week but I’ve already made some gnarly cash. Anybody who’s ever thought “Delivering pizza is way below me, that would be my last resort.” has never listened to Dave Ramsey. It’s quick, super easy, a lot of fun and places are almost always hiring.

Plus I get to listen to the Rangers play on the radio. This could be their year.

Recently my church hosted a missions weekend and had a young couple speak about how to evangelize in your work place and community. One of the main points that stuck out to me is to remember to view the people around you as more than just machines or landscapes. The people who bag your groceries, shop in the same stores, order your pizza are all in need of the Gospel.

I’m still in need of it. I need it every day.

Until we recognize our need for the Gospel, even as Christians, how are we to have our eyes opened to the needs of the world around us?

Every day, every transaction, every interaction is an opportunity to let His light shine into the hearts of those machines we avoid eye contact with as we stand in line among the landscape of our temporary home.

Back to the thought of “that’s way below me.”—what some see as trifling or humbling I see as opportunity. I have dozens of literal open doors every night to speak life and drop a dose of hope into their world as well as deliver some dang good cuisine.

Oh how I wish was bold enough to speak more openly when I had a stage and a crowd of people every night. Never pass up an opportunity.

Let us not grow cold to His redemptive work on the cross and fail to remember our dead bodies and hopeless spirits prior to Christ’s sacrifice and mercy on our souls.

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“What Took You So Long?!”

Who’s in charge of the chocolate fountain?

A few weeks ago I got a letter in mail. Anything hand written that doesn’t say “bill” or “statement” on it is always welcome in my mail box. It being the wedding season of my life I wasn’t too surprised until I read a girl’s name above my address and a bridal shower invitation inside the envelope.

Chuckling to myself I texted a picture of the invite to my friend who’s helping to orchestrate the event. “Is this for me or…Sarah?”(the name above my address) I asked. She responded with laughter assuring me that I was definitely invited though I may be the only guy attending. Pleasantly I declined though I did offer to man the chocolate fountain if need be.

No hard feelings. I never know what to bring to wedding showers anyways. A towel perhaps?

This whole thing got me thinking: how weird would it be if I didn’t re-mail the invite to the correct recipient and showed up in place of her? I’ll bet Sarah would feel left out when she realized that she was invited but never told.

Woe to those who know of it but never preach the gospel. Imagine hearing from the lips of a new-born Christian “What took you so long to tell me?”

I know of a middle-aged/senior adult man in my church who recently became saved after 30+ years of his family vehemently praying for his salvation.

No one is out of reach of God’s hand.

No one is “too lost” or “too far gone” from the power of Christ’s redeeming atonement.

As John 6 states in verses 37-40: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Christ goes on to say that He “is the bread of life.” He gives life, He sustains and He rescues sinners.

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:16

Like a captive waiting to be set free, may we struggle and fight with all our might to free the actual captives, slaves to sin, who upon seeing their error and God’s redemptive grace may say to you: “This is good! This is truth. What took you so long?!”

#150

“MOVE YOUR *BLEEPING* FEET!”

Every metal, death metal, hair metal, metalcore, hardcore, mathcore, nintendocore, prog metal, djent, sludge, grunge, grindcore, “experimental”, screamo, “whatever-the-heck you think your band sounds Iike” band I’ve ever heard has a mosh call.

A mosh call is usually a one-liner command commonly filled with expletives that rings out over a dead silence in the middle of a song just before the big breakdown. The point of a mosh call is to amp up the crowd, causing them to come undone and tear the place to shreds. Then go buy t-shirts with said phrase printed on it in big block letters. Hey, mine did it too, minus the colorful language.

I won’t go into detail about some of the more memorable mosh calls I’ve heard but it certainly does cause a guy to wonder “what does he really mean?” Side note, I really love the bands that say something different every night to throw off their expectant fans: “Make this place look like a pile of bananas!” Chaos and confusion ensues.

Bananas? Really?

How can even a 5′ tall guy with a microphone have such a commanding presence and influence a crowd of strangers to go “bananas” and punch every living soul in the room in the back of the head? Why are they so willing to do what he says?

Why aren’t Christians as equally willing to step out and speak up in love? We know who’s talking. We know His voice. It’s a non-violent approach. It could get that way if we push the right buttons but we ought to do so anyways because the God of the universe says so. He’s not looking to sell t-shirts. He’s got one agenda: the rescue of sinners.

We are agents of the cause. We’ve got more than just a hallow one-liner to egg us on to doing something we don’t understand to hurt people we don’t know. We have the living Word of God to guide and instruct us to move our feet.

Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe  all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Christ is the truth and Christ is enough. Let us be ever willing to share the truth in love.

May we be ever vigilant to share the gospel and move our feet.

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P.S. As blasphemous as this may be, imagine Jesus as a front man. That would be a mosh call. He could make anything sound awesome and terrifying: “You brood of vipers!”(Matt 12:34)

What’s the best/worst mosh call you’ve ever heard?

 

Still one of my favorite band shirts of all time

Still one of my favorite band shirts of all time

Speak Up & Speak Out

The danger of not talking to strangers.

Last week I was meeting at Braum’s with a buddy of mine from the youth group. I got there a bit early and read up on Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” before we got started. As I was leaving, after our study of Galatians, I held the door for a couple who was also headed for the parking lot. “That’s a great book!” the husband said as he passed me. His wife nodded in approval and repeated his comment.

Obviously they had seen my copy of “Crazy Love” clutched in my left hand along with my notebook and ESV Study Bible. I’m guessing they were Christians since they recognized Chan’s book and didn’t mind speaking up. They saw something in common with themselves and felt comfortable talking to a stranger about it.

It wasn’t until the following morning that I thought back on what they’d noticed. Or hadn’t noticed.

Do you think they would’ve said the same thing to me, a total stranger, if I was only holding my Bible?

Possibly. Maybe they would’ve seen it and thought, “Hey that’s great! I’m glad he’s reading God’s word and pursuing truth for his life.” Or maybe even, “A Bible. Hmmm, I wonder if he knows what to do with it.” God forbid, “I wonder his stance on pedobaptism.”

Why are we so quick to cast judgement on people? Especially as Christians, why is it so easy to make unfair assessments and jump on our legalistic bandwagons?

Everybody in America knows what a Bible is. I guarantee you every Christian would recognize a Bible if they looked at one. It makes no difference what book that stranger is holding; we are to speak out. We are the mouthpieces of the gospel.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Romans 10:14

I’m sure you were told as a child not to talk to strangers. But how did Jesus gather His disciples? How did you first hear the gospel? Somebody before you chose to be obedient and speak up. So do likewise.

Speak up and Speak out

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P.S. I do endorse Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love”. It’s a great tool for examining our place before a holy God and how we should respond to the life that He calls us to. Chapter 4 entitled “Profile of the lukewarm” is a huge eye opener

Does God Need Your College Degree?

Before someone jumps down my throat over the title, let me explain. 

Recently I was recommended the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. The purpose was to help identify areas I could clean up in my writing. It’s been a fantastic tool and I’m already implementing a few of the ideas it mentions. One of the early chapters is about fighting clutter—trimming the wordiness fat and making clear what you really mean.

If anyone reading this post has an english degree you’ve probably already spotted plenty of things you’d love to mark with a red pen. So there you have it! God can definitely use your english degree to help you point out and argue my point, haha.

Here’s my real question: do we give the gospel a fair chance?

I think there are two ways we christians damage the gospel:

  1. We’re either too shy or scared to share our faith openly, afraid of doing it injustice.
  2. We’re over-confident in our knowledge and abilities and turn people off by our jargon and pomp.

Doesn’t God’s word promise to comfort us? I’m no public speaker though I’ve found confidence that the LORD will give me the right words to say at the right time. When you know the truth and are passionate about something, fears and uncertainties all seem to slip away.

When sharing our faith and proclaiming the mystery of the gospel “which is Christ”(Col 1:27) we also tend to scare people away by our methods of approach. Don’t let your presentation of the gospel fend people off by how you give it.

Will someone who didn’t grow up in church understand christian-ese when you speak it to them? Of course not! Don’t dialogue with someone you can talk to. Don’t interface with anybody.

Here’s a quote from Zinsser’s chapter about clutter: “By using a more pompous phrase in his professional role he not only sounds more important; he blunts the painful edge of truth.” 

Never dumb down the truth of the gospel by catering to the idea that people will always flee when you spotlight their sin. Jesus is offensive to our sinful nature. Be loving but firm. We’re all in the same boat; we all need a Savior.

What about the college degree thing? Oh yeah. We’re always trying to limit God’s abilities. Don’t let your occupation, social status or education level impede or impose on God’s use for you.

Remember: we are the plan. It is ultimately the Holy Spirit who convicts unbelievers of sin and compels them to repentance but we are the mouthpieces.

Be obedient and open your mouth; God will give you what to say.

Clean the clutter.

Simplify, simplify.

#150

Why Are You Still At Church?

Over a venti ice water at Starbucks the other day a friend of mine asked me this question. Two weeks ago he had seen me be introduced to our church body as an official member. To phrase it differently he was asking why I chose to stay where I’m at instead of branching off to go somewhere more “hip” or “relevant”.

Both of us grew up at our church and both have charter member parents who’ve invested over 30 years apiece into that congregation. His story is a bit different from mine though we’re both able to connect on many levels. Karl(I’ll call him) is in his 30’s; he left OKC for 4 years in the military, got married, came back, and is currently raising 2 kids with his wife.

I, on the other hand, finished high school, joined the band wagon road show circus and spent the next 5 years popping in and out of my church body when I was home. Recently, however, I felt convicted to become a legitimate, functioning member. Even though I was raised there and have attended for 23 years, I reasoned that just like salvation, I am not born into membership just because my parents raised me in it and I continue to attend.

To answer Karl’s question, I told him that when I had that “grace moment” a few years ago, everything really clicked. I came to understand the true purpose of community and the value of mature, godly leadership. “Look around,” I said. “We’ve got a few centuries worth of wisdom and insight on our staff alone.”

I don’t want to go where all my friends go just because it’s “the place to be”. I’m in it for the long haul and I want to invest in the spiritual leaders of tomorrow. What better place to do it than under the guidance and leadership of men that I’ve grown up under my whole life?

The tangent I could spill on this subject is better sipped over a Starbucks venti ice water. I’d love to talk more on this issue so get ahold of me if you’d like to hear it.

Consider today why you’re still at your church. What benefit are you seeking and how can you best invest in others’ lives in the process? Don’t go somewhere simply because they have the best coffee or play the newest songs or for what you alone can “get” out of it.

Surround yourself with a body of believers who are passionate about the gospel. Develop people to delight in God and declare His glory.

Find a church where they preach Christ crucified.

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