Maybe I’m not supposed to say this because I’m a pastor, but I’ve never questioned my faith more than I have in the past 18 months. I’ve never doubted God. Not His existence, not His love, not His presence. But I have done a lot of asking, searching, and chasing after answers to some tough questions about life, faith, and how God interacts with us particularly in the middle of hard times.
Although I’ve never doubted God, I have wrestled with anger that, if I’m honest, I’ve directed at Him more than once. As I watch people I love go through difficulties in life, as I watch students I love experience pain and hurt, and as I watch tragedies of all shapes and sizes unfold across the planet (like yet another high school shooting that took place today), sometimes I can’t help but take a step back and wonder why in the world God allows certain things happen the way they do. That’s a tension that we all have to face.
What I’ve come to realize and have complete peace with is that there’s nothing wrong with struggling through those moments. There’s nothing sinful about wrestling with God’s plan. God’s grace is greater than my weakness, and it covers me even in these moments of my life. Especially in these moments.
In less than two weeks, your streets will be flooded with kids (and parents) who are trick-or-treating. This is literally the one time of year that people you don’t know will be coming to your door, and it’s a perfect opportunity to live out your faith by being intentional with this opportunity to show them Jesus. Here are seven simple ways to take advantage of the opportunity to be on mission:
Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking at First Christian Church. It was the third installment in a series called “Pursued,” all about realizing that God doesn’t give up on us, and He doesn’t chase us to punish us, but He pursues us because He loves us. A few of my favorite quotes/thoughts:
“Sin is what separates us from God. Shame keeps us running away from Him.”
“You are never too broken, never too damaged, never too used, never too ugly, never too dirty to be loved by God.” ()
“The difference between the world and Jesus is this: The world says, “You’re filthy, your clothes are dirty…go clean yourself up and come back.” Jesus says, “You’re filthy, your clothes are dirty…here, have mine. I’ll take your dirty ones.”
You can watch the video of the entire message below:
To be successful, every organization, church, or business needs a clearly defined mission and vision. () Without defined goals, processes, and systems, nothing can be measured or evaluated. No progress can be made.
The challenge for leaders young and old is not understanding the power and importance of these two vital identity components. The challenge is understanding their basic function and how they relate to each other.
I often see churches that have two mission statements, but no vision. This is so common it’s actually the norm. Churches have catchy, clever, and carefully crafted slogans that they call a vision but that represent little meaning to the actual operational direction. As I train our team at First Christian Church Student Ministry, and as I coach other leaders to develop and implement strategic vision within their organization, I explain these concepts in a simple, clear way. Here’s what it looks like:
- By Jimmy
- October 10, 2014
- Blog,Christianity,Following Christ,Hard Truth,Leadership,Life,Ministry,Pain,Prayer,Self-Worth,Self-Worth
The first time I dreamed that I was drowning, I was actually surprised to wake up. It was so real and so vivid that I actually believed that I was dying. I don’t know if you’ve ever dreamt you were drowning, but it’s terrifying.
I was even more surprised because I don’t normally dream, or if I do I don’t remember them when I wake up. But this one felt more like real life than a dream, and even a few minutes after I woke up, I was still breathing heavy and my heart was beating fast.
That night a few years ago is one I haven’t forgotten. It came in the middle of a time in my life when I had some big decisions to make and didn’t know what to do. Things were good at work, but I was feeling pressure to succeed, and for someone like me who struggles with not tying my identity to my achievements, this was crushing. I was finding that I didn’t know how to do what I needed to do to keep things moving forward, and my bag of tricks and easy ideas was running out.
I first wrote this blog post in April 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I had a conversation with a friend today that prompted me to share this again.
As I write this, images, stories and news bulletins continue to emerge in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Last night I was looking through some pictures online and I was literally speechless. My stomach hurt. I couldn’t stand to see any more. I was filled with an incredible sense of anger at the injustice in all of this. I felt helpless to do anything about it, which only amplified the anger I felt. There’s really no other word to describe the feeling.
It only got worse when I read about 8-year-old Martin Richard, who lost his life in the attack. An innocent child, enjoying the race and cheering on the runners with his family. Only the most evil of people could take the life of a child in this way. I am so angry as I write this that I can barely type. I can’t wrap my mind around what motivates this kind of horrible action.
Someone asked me this morning if it’s wrong for Christians to be angry. He had been told growing up that anyone who is truly a follower of Jesus doesn’t get angry, and he wanted to know if the fact that he was feeling what I had been feeling about all of this meant that he had done something wrong, or that his faith was weaker than he thought.
You might be wondering the same thing. Is it ok for Christians to be angry?
If you regularly make graphics for your ministry, business, organization, or just for fun, these four tools will save you literally hours a week. I use them constantly to generate graphics, social media posts, and more for FCC, for my blog, and even for personal use. They’re worth a look and I guarantee if you try them you’ll be hooked. Here they are in no particular order:
Does it sound weird to you that a coffee from Starbucks can do more to impact a student than your latest, greatest idea for a youth ministry program? Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but it’s true.
There is a really good mini-article in this month’s Group Magazine called The Relational Economy that simply sums up a truth that many of us overlook or lose sight of: a relational investment in a student’s life will have 10x the impact of your best program (). This column, written by Ned Erickson, puts it this way:
I just got off the phone with a guy who got some devastating news today. He just found out that his dad has inoperable brain cancer and probably only has 4-6 weeks to live.
As soon as I picked up the phone, I knew something was wrong. I don’t know this guy well at all. We’ve only met in passing. But as he told me about what was happening and described the whirlwind of emotions he and his family are experiencing right now, all I could think of was how helpless I am. I didn’t know what to say, or what to do, or even what to offer.
I started to write this post with some really wordy paragraphs about church growth and ministry strategy but it sounded lame so I deleted it. Instead, let me admit to you what one of my biggest struggles has been.
I struggle with a constant feeling of insufficiency. Why? Because I’m a doer. Because I’m in a position of leadership and far too often I choose to wear the pressure of having to make things work. Because I bought into the idea long ago that if my church or ministry is going to grow, I have to make it happen. We have to have the right people. We have to design the right program. We have to offer the right kinds of events, teaching series, or opportunities. We have to play the right games. You get what I’m saying, right?
Here’s what I discovered a little while ago that I keep coming back to and am only now beginning to understand.