Failure to Communicate

We’ve all been in that conversation. The one where you’ve been totally misunderstood and you’re standing there thinking,

I didn’t say that! Were you even listening?!

What it comes down to is this: communication is about what they hear, not what you said. So if you were spouting off brilliant solutions to great mysteries, but no one had any idea what you were talking about – then communication didn’t happen. Miscommunication and confusion happened instead.

As legendary coach, John Wooden has said, “You haven’t taught until they’ve learned.”

To the best of my knowledge, here are some of the main culprits to lead to miscommunication:

Old Phones

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Jesus Paved the Road to Racial Unity

They just aren’t like us. They’re half-breeds! Unworthy of being a part of the people of God! While we were suffering, they stayed and fit into the pagan worlds of our enemies. They don’t deserve to be called ‘Children of Abraham!’ 

That’s how the Jewish world talked about Samaritans. While Israel was in exile, those who were not deported intermarried and mixed into the cultures around them. When Israel was resettled, these “half-breeds” were marginalized and became a people unto themselves. They still considered themselves a part of God’s people, so they didn’t truly belong to the cultures around them. But they didn’t fit into the Jewish world either. The Samaritans kept a version of the Mosaic Law and had their own Temple in order to continue in worship of the LORD their God. But the divisions between the Jews and Samaritans ran deep, and their differences brought deep divisions and hatred.

This makes Jesus’ interactions with Samaritans all the more remarkable. Jesus took his disciples through Samaria instead of going around it, like everyone else (see John 4, ESV). He took his people through the hood. And of all people to encounter, he befriended a woman who had been married and divorced multiple times. She represented the lowest of the low among a people who were already despised and rejected.

City

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Rooted: “Does God Repent?”

The following is a brief excerpt from an article I’ve published for The Rooted Ministry. Please follow the link below to read the whole post.

Rethinking God’s nature is a dangerous, but exciting thing. What if we’ve misunderstood what it means for God to be sovereign and omniscient? This is a provocative question, and one that is increasingly being asked among theology professors today.

As youth workers, we can easily be intimidated to avoid difficult and confusing biblical passages. After all, most teenagers I know would prefer talking about how a Christian worldview effects their social media habits, rather than discussing controversial biblical passages. But we need to demonstrate the beauty and value of studying the Bible (all of it, not just the comfortable parts) seriously.

Many of us are intimidated to teach on passages where God “repents” or “regrets” or “seems to change His mind,” because we don’t know what it means or what the implications ought to be.

Read the whole article

5 Reasons Youth Workers Need Theology

I was sitting in the car with one of my youth group students. We had just spent the last two hours hanging out and talking about the movies and video games he’s been into lately when he asked seemingly silly question. It turns out, those are the questions that are usually the most difficult to answer. He asked, “Why do you think God made us so we need sleep? It seems like we could get more done without needing the sleep.”

He was curious, but didn’t even take his own question seriously. But it turns out, that very question gets to the heart of creation. Why did God create the Sabbath? Why are there seven days in creation instead of six? Simply put, so we would have a very tangible reminder that we are not in control. We can’t even control our bodies. They need sleep and rest. No matter who you are, your need for rest demands that you lay down your strength and rest in your weakness. In fact, those who are healthiest and most productive are strong advocates for rest! God made us with a built-in system to remind us that he is in control and we are not.

It was a great conversation that never would’ve happened without a reasonable degree of competence in Christian theology. I’m not wise enough to come up with all this on my own. Thankfully, I don’t need to!

Here’s the thing: you never know when significant theological questions are going to be asked. Usually, it’s unexpected and from the least likely student.

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The Gospel and the Pursuit of Racial Unity

Talking about race and ethnicity is dangerous. You’ll probably say something wrong and hurtful along the way. But if you’re courageous and willing to walk the long road together then real progress can be made.

In the Church it’s essential for us to keep the gospel central in all things, including how we talk about and pursue racial harmony. The following is a simple attempt to clarify how the gospel drives the pursuit of racial unity.

Skyscrapers

Worshipping Christ Together
The gospel is the “good news” of salvation and new life. It is the announcement that our sin has been forgiven through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because we are now “in Christ” through faith, “we are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The gospel is not only for one ethnic group, but for “all peoples” of the earth (Matthew 28:20, Acts 1:17). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:18).

We are united by faith with brothers and sisters of all skin color, language, and cultures. We worship Christ together and are adopted into one Christian family as children of God (John 1:12).

Racism divides. The gospel unites. When we kneel before the Lord, may our worship here on earth reflect our worship in glory where we will be surrounded by all tribes, nations, and languages. If your church is filled with people who look the same then you’re missing out on a foretaste of heavenly worship.

This isn’t only a critique of White-churches, but of Black-churches, Asian-churches, Hispanic-churches, etc. Your ethnicity and culture matters. Embrace that. But seek opportunities to partner with brothers and sisters of faith who are different than you as a reminder that the Church is bigger and more diverse than your local congregation. Worship the Lord Jesus together.

Loving One Another Starts With Listening
The Great Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The gospel is the pathwway to loving God the way we ought. We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19), and how he loved us was through the message of the gospel.

But we cannot love our neighbor as ourselves if we won’t listen to our neighbor. As we consider the events of the past week and all the racial tension in our country, may our hearts be broken for one another. Black lives matter. Police lives matter. All lives matter because we’ve been created in the image of God.

Let’s put aside the anger and put on love for one another. I understand that’s easier for me to say since I’m neither African American nor a police officer. But we cannot move forward towards healing and unity if we allow ourselves to be filled with anything other than love.

I am convinced that in the pursuit of racial unity, love begins with open eyes and open ears.