The Impossibility of Waiting…

I’m writing this post from Panera Bread. From where I sit I can see the line growing as the lunch-time rush begins. Some are gazing into the pastry case, tempted by Orange Scones (mmm…). Others simply stare into space as they wait. But most (especially those in their thirties or younger) stare at their phones.

To be honest, I can’t remember that last time I stood in a line without pulling out my phone to check email, Facebook, or whatever else might be waiting for me.

And yet Scripture is clear: waiting is a necessary and important component to the godly life.

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Every Christian Has Baggage

In fact, not only does every Christian have baggage… every Christian NEEDS baggage! You simply cannot be a Christian if you are unaware of the skeletons in your closet. Maybe your baggage isn’t severe, you’ve never been to jail… but every Christian need to be aware of their own sin and great need for God.

Some people say that Christianity is only for the weak. They’re right! If you think you have your act together and that you don’t need to be forgiven, you don’t need mercy or grace, and you don’t need God’s strength to make you strong… then you may call yourself what you want, but you cannot truly be a Christian.

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Every Prayer is an Act of Submission

There is no such thing as a prayer that commands God and tells him what to do. Such an act is not prayer, but an attempt to take God’s throne.

Every prayer is an act of submission and trust, recognizing that we live under God’s authority and sovereignty. We pray because we know who is in control. And we pray because we know our own limits.

Prayer reminds us that we are not soverign. It is an act of humility and faith. Anyone who comes to God with pride may be call what they’re doing “prayer” but they have not really prayed… they have simply displayed their sinful arrogance and shown God and others who they believe is king.

God calls us to pray, and he acts in response to our prayer. This is a great mystery to be worked through and considered (and that is far beyond the scope of this blog post!).

Here’s my point: Yes, God calls you to pray and he answers prayer. But do not approach God as if you are the one with authority. Prayer is always an act of submission.

Milk, Meat, or Soda?

Which best describes your teaching… Milk, Meat, or Soda?

As youth pastors. We are often tasked with feeding our “sheep” milk. We often minister to nonChristian teens, to students who are new believers, and to those who are doubting their faith (whether they admit it to us or not). These are not people who need spiritual meat, they need milk.

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Be What You Want To See

One of the most important things I’ve ever read about parents came to me through the book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Teenagers. After conducting the most extensive study on the religious beliefs of American teenagers, Christian Smith and his team concluded, “We’ll get what we are.”

By and large, when it comes to parenting, we will get what we are. This isn’t always the case, and sometimes that’s a really good thing, sometimes it’s not.

If this is true (and I believe it is, though I’m not interested right now in defending it), then as parents we all need to take a look at how we are living and ask, “If my kids become me, will I be happy with who they’ve turned into?”

My wife and I were talking last night about our concerns that our son has been watching too much television and that he likes playing on his Kindle Fire too much. Meanwhile, he has bins of toys and shelves of books which aren’t getting the attention we’d love them to receive.

And yet, I consistently have my iPhone with me as I walk throughout the house and we almost always have a television on in the house.

So… we need to ask ourselves what example we’re setting. We need to become the change we want to see.

One of my friends and mentors, Walt Muller, coincidentally wrote the following blog post which is perfectly timed. My family will be taking the challenge issued in Walt’s post, I encourage you to consider it too.

Social Media Enslavement… What I’m Going to Do… and a Challenge… 

So. . . I’ve decided to lay out some rules. Initially, I thought they’d be great rules to pass on to parents, teachers, and teenagers themselves. Reality is, I can’t pass them on unless I’m already gripping them tightly in my own hands. Here are the rules I’m going to enlist in my own life. I want to invite you to try them out as well. . . for a week maybe. . . and then let me know if you’ve seen any benefits.

1. Don’t engage with your smartphone as long as you are present with and/or in conversation with real flesh and blood human beings. They deserve your full attention.

2. Don’t bring your smartphone or screen of any kind to the table. Converse with others over the meal. . . using your eyes, your voice, your ears, and your full attention.

(there’s more good stuff in this post, click the link to read the rest)