What Happened When I Became a Christian?

#tbt: me, Ann, and Bradley (who lead me to Christ)

What happened when I became a Christian, twenty years ago today?

Not much.

There were no fireworks, no inner feelings of joy or relief.

I didn’t tell anyone, for weeks at least. I just went on with my day (July 31, 1995), which involved football workouts, of course.

Nothing felt different. But now that I look back, I know that a real change did take place, underneath my skin and within my soul.

Click here to learn what did change…

10 Inspiring Quotes from “Through Gates of Splendor”

book_ through_gates_of_splendor amazonIf you heard someone say, “”Every Christian should read this book,” what would you do? You may or may not listen to him.

But if that person is an elder at your church, and says this while teaching on a Sunday morning, you are more apt to listen to that wisdom.

And if that person has been a mentor for you for over 15 years, you definitely follow his advice.

A man like that encouraged our church body to read Through Gates of Splendor last fall. I’m glad he did, since this book was one of the top books I read in 2014.

If you haven’t read this book, or if it’s been a while, here are some excerpts that inspired and challenged me:

In preparation for the mission

“We’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned?” Ed McCully (in a letter to Jim Elliot)

Click here for more points to ponder…

Citizenship, Culture, and the Church

Citizens_SermonSeries GraceChurch

I have lots of thoughts on this week’s sermon, Citizens: Identity. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch below:

It’s important to remember the context of this message, that the sermon is primarily for Christians, the body of Christ. Likewise, virtually all of the Bible was written to those who follow God, or at least say they do.

As the pastor (Matt Williams) said:

“We have to train a culture of Christians to think courageously, and look at the Scriptures and apply them to us.”

Therefore, none of what I say here should be taken as “Those people should do this,” or, “What if someone else (not a Christian) wants such-and-such?” Those may be valid points and worthy of discussion. It’s just not the focus here.

What IS the focus? Click here to keep reading…

Confederate Flag Controversy: What’s Your Worldview and Identity?

confed_flag SC_Statehouse getty miaden_antonovA few weeks ago, I had to apologize to someone in my church. This wasn’t an insignificant apology, like, “I’m sorry I forgot our appointment.” This was an issue when I deeply wounded someone in the body of Christ.

A whole bunch of thoughts were going through my head, as I walked into this mediated apology session:

  • Through my pride, I hurt someone who God cares about deeply.
  • I didn’t deserve forgiveness, but I needed to ask for it.
  • I sinned against this person, against others who were involved, and against God (Psalm 51:4)
  • God values peace, and I needed to do everything I could to make that happen.

But one thing I wasn’t thinking: I never thought that I could walk into this meeting and demand forgiveness. I wanted reconciliation, but I would have understood if this person wasn’t ready to give it to me. (Thankfully, they were a lot more gracious that I would have been, and I was forgiven immediately.)

Even though God commands us to forgive each other, just as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), I couldn’t insist on being forgiven. Forgiving is a choice of one who has been offended.

The Question at Hand

I am writing this blog post to my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially my white southern friends. Other people are invited to read this post, but I don’t think you’ll fully grasp where we are coming from. (Truth be told, I don’t fully understand these complex issues, but I’m working on it.)

Shortly after a recent racism-motivated massacre in Charleston, SC, many people were calling (once again) for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in Columbia. Others said that people were using this tragedy for political reasons, and it was not the right time to bring this issue up. (But exactly when is a good time to discuss this? It’s been an issue for at least 20 years. Thankfully, Governor Nikki Haley has bravely called on the SC Legislature to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.)

So, this is the issue: Should Christians support the removal of the Confederate Flag from our State House grounds? And if we want to take it further, we can ask: Should Christians freely display this flag?

Click here to keep reading…

By the Grace of God

Lead Academy

When we led summer camps that were 8 weeks long, we always had plenty of energy, until the last week. By the end, we knew we couldn’t make it one more day.

When our camps were 4 weeks long, we felt the same way. We had just the amount of energy to make it to the end.

The End of Teaching

As you know, I have been a long-term substitute teacher for past four months, besides the two months last fall. I loved the opportunity, and I really love the school. But at times, I was doubtful I could make it to the end.

Don’t quit now! Keep reading…

Humility in Our Gospel Mission

Matthew 28:19-20 is one of the most-used passages to justify foreign missions (and not always accurately so). Another similar passage is Acts 1:4-11.

In discussing this passage, Brian Dembowczyk points out that we (evangelicals in the USA) tend to have a proud, self-centered view of the gospel and of missions.

“And so when it comes to global missions – and local missions for that matter – we need to resist the pull toward missional pride and pursue missional humility instead.”

Keep reading…

Prosperity Gospel vs Racial Reconciliation

airplane how-the-prosperity-gospel-hurts-racial-reconciliation desiring_god

Russell Moore is spot-on, in How the Prosperity Gospel Hurts Racial Reconciliation:

The prosperity gospel targets the most vulnerable in any society, whether urban or rural, black or white. As it does so, it offers a simplistic path to upper mobility through “claiming” God’s promises for health and wealth or through planting “seed” money, usually in the ministry of one of the prosperity preachers. . . .

The primary harm the prosperity gospel does to racial reconciliation, though, is that it is not the gospel. . . .

The prosperity gospel teaches us to seek God’s blessing outside of the covenant fulfillment in Christ, and to hope not for the reconciliation of heaven and earth in him but instead to aspire to whatever Western culture deems as success. This is not gospel; this is witchcraft. And, as such, it cannot bring about reconciliation. You cannot reconcile people across carnal divisions with a gospel based on carnal promises.

These are the negative aspects of the false teaching of the prosperity gospel. Be sure to read the full article to see how the true gospel drives us towards racial reconciliation.

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