The Jonah Effect – Contempt vs. Compassion & Evangelism

Many people today, both in and outside of Christianity, know about Jonah from the Bible. Mostly remembered for being inside of a great fish, Jonah’s tale teaches us much more than just the time he spent an aquatic creature’s stomach.

In fact, God’s speaks to us today just as clearly as those who would have read the part of the Old Testament so many years ago. At the heart of Jonah’s struggle resides the war between pride and compassion – self-righteousness versus evangelism.

The first three chapters of Jonah describe the process of God calling Jonah to bring a prophecy to the evil city Nineveh, Jonah running away via ship, God disturbing the sea, Jonah’s shipmates eventually casting him overboard (at his own request – which actually leads to their worship of the Lord), Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and his prayer of repentance, followed by his return to dry land and preaching to Nineveh. The entire city, upon hearing Jonah’s message from the Lord, repents of their sins and worships God.

The fourth chapter of Jonah gives us the real backstory behind Jonah’s foolish escape attempt from God’s calling. Many have tried to say Jonah was afraid of what might happen to him in Nineveh, but Jonah 4:1-3 tells us the truth:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was yet in my country? That I is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah actually grew angry because the Ninevites repented and avoided the judgment of the Lord! Reading that makes me angry at Jonah’s pride and self-righteousness, but does my judgment of Jonah also apply to my own life?

Christ calls all of his disciples to share his gospel to the world, but many of us turn and run from that every day. Are we not in the same boat as Jonah? Why do we act this way?

Sure, some of us may claim that we are afraid to share our faith, but what is the real story behind our excuses? What Jonah lacked we also find ourselves deficient – compassion for those who did not or do not know the Lord. Notice the difference between that and how Matthew describes Jesus in Matthew 9:6:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

 Jesus had compassion for people – not just the poor and downtrodden. Jesus had compassion on the cities he looked out over, even those that would soon demand his crucifixion.

Paul paints a wonderful picture of Christ’s humility in Philippians 2:5-11, as he urged the Philippian church to imitate Christ’s humility:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Humility sets the stage for compassion. We lack compassion today because we lack humility and servant-hood. We let pride reign in us and fuel our self-righteousness. If this were not true, then the church would be sharing the good news of Christ with a lost world! Instead, the church spends too much time looking down on the lost with contempt like Jonah stared at Nineveh.

Let’s examine more of how pride fuels our self-righteousness and squelches our compassion. For Jonah, he was an Israelite, a member of the people of God. When God established Israel, he wanted his people to live in relationship with him and bear his name to the world. We see through the Scriptures that instead Israel mostly turned inward and developed pride for themselves instead of compassion for the world that did not know God.

When Jesus was on earth in the time of the Pharisees, this attitude had developed into a strong self-righteousness based on how well one would observe and keep the law. The “better” someone could keep all the laws, then the “better” that person was. The Pharisees for the most part believed they were better and treated others just like they were not. Jesus actually addressed this in a parable that would have seemed quite shocking to those who hear it (Luke 18:9-14):

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We fall into this same trap today. Those of us in the Church, the people of God, get so consumed with our own morality and self-righteousness that we, either blatantly or subtlety, look at the lost world with contempt. Instead of thinking, “They need to hear the good news of Christ from us,” we think, “They need to act more like us.”

Today as cultures and lifestyles that differ from us assert themselves in the world, the sharp division of contempt or compassion becomes more and more apparent. Our contempt grows in the face of the celebration of sin rather than compassion for the lostness of those who are deceived by such things.

How do we combat this battle that rages within us? It all begins when we remember what actually sets us apart is not our own doing. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 5:8:

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Even when we did not deserve it – Christ gave his life for us! How quickly we forget this! If we look back at Jonah, he forgot it too:

Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Our pride lies to us. It tells us that we make ourselves good and what we do good makes us better than someone else. Then we don’t have any reason to share our faith when we are wrapped up in our own self-righteous bubble.

The time has come to burst that bubble and remember that our good is not really that good. Jesus died to set us free from the burden of self-righteousness, but we still struggle with it daily. We will never take the gospel to the world if we continue seeing it with contempt instead of compassion.

May our hearts be broken so that we will honor Christ as Lord and see the world as he sees! Christ, the only one ever without sin, saw the world with compassion and love. As Christ-followers, we are called to do the very same!

Here are some steps to take if you are struggling with a compassionate heart for the lost:

  1. Ask for forgiveness – Ask God to forgive you for holding on to your pride and self-righteousness
  2. Remember – Remember back when you gave your life to Christ. What led you to that?
  3. Humbly serve – Start small and serve others. Have the same mind that Christ did like Paul wrote in Phil. 2
  4. Read the Bible – this may sound like a no-brainer, but the best way to combat the lies of pride is with the Word of Truth
  5. Be accountable – Be a part of group of believers that will help keep your heart in check

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday School Leadership June 2018 – Being Spiritually Prepared

I shared the following with our Sunday School leadership this past month at FBC Chickasha, and I also wanted to share it here on my blog. Anyone who serves in ministry must recognize essential nature of not only being prepared logistically but also spiritually.

As a Sunday School leader, what does it mean to be prepared every week? Everyone who leads in Sunday School has something to prepare, whether it be a Bible study, group fellowship, prayer time, working on outreach, ministry needs, outreach projects, or anything else! All of these roles are extremely important, but we must not forget the most important aspect of preparation for our ministry.

Above anything else we must prepare as leaders in Christian ministry, we must be spiritually prepared. The work we do stands empty and hollow without the Holy Spirit empowering us.

Remember carefully what Jesus said to his disciples as he was preparing to go to the cross. He gave a powerful reminder of the true foundation of the work to come:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5

Notice that Jesus instructs to be spiritually connected to him before we are to engage in ministry, seeking to lead others to follow Jesus more.

We cannot lead people where we have not gone ourselves!

Does this mean that study and preparation for a Bible study or a fellowship is not important? By no means! Even with this admonition that Jesus gave to his disciples, we still see them focusing on study of the Word throughout the rest of the New Testament. The challenge we see before us calls us to spend time with Jesus before we begin preparing for Sunday morning.

As we consider our Discipleship DNA for Sunday School, studying the Scripture stands at the forefront, but our goal focuses on more than learning about the Bible. Sunday School exists not to simply convey information or teach knowledge but to transform people through encountering the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Preparing week-in and week-out can lead to a rhythm of work, which can be very healthy but also lead to a lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit if we do not keep our humility and motivation in check. Pastors and other ministers know this well too.

May this challenge be a reminder to all of us who lead. Am I abiding in the One who I serve and teach about to others? Am I trying to produce fruit apart of the vine of Christ?

Here are some steps to consider in spiritual preparation for Sunday morning:

  1. Begin with prayer – before opening a lesson or reading a Bible passage, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your heart and mind. Be bold and ask him for passion for His Word and His people.
  2. Read the passage devotionally first – Don’t read a passage with a teacher guide or consider how it can be broken down into teaching points. Let the Word speak to you first. This challenge is not just for teachers but all leaders in the class/group.
  3. Meditate on the Scripture – This is not eastern mediation, emptying the mind of thought. Christian mediation involves filling the mind with Scripture and its truths. Let the Word early in the week be in your mind and consider it throughout each day.
  4. Prayers from the Scripture – after reading a passage, pray it! Martin Luther always asserted this type of prayer.
  5. Christian fellowship around the Word – speak with other teachers or members of your class and encourage one other with what’s coming.

These are only a few in many different possible ways to spiritually prepare for a Sunday morning Bible study. Abide in Christ! Abide in His Word! Pray for the power of God to work in your class each week and see what He will do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do My Kids Really Care About?

Parenthood brings so many unique challenges. Not only do the doctors and nurses send you home with a tiny little human without any instruction manual, but now you are to care and provide for this tiny baby! No matter how many children you have, there is certain weight on your soul that comes with leading a family. fullsizeoutput_5655

For me, I know that I am responsible for caring for my family, providing for them, and leading them in many ways, most importantly spiritually. Each of these responsibilities hold their own set of challenges as well.

Keep in mind: I’m not complaining. Being a husband and father, as well as having a vocation that provides for my family, blesses me continually. My description of this feeling merely serves to provide some background for where the balance between all of these can become shifted.

I am a minister, and too often my calling consumes me. The pressure that comes with any job, including the pressure I put on myself, squeezes tight on my soul. This pressure comes in many forms, but most times it comes from wanting to excel, making the Lord and my family proud.

This pressure affects my patience, personality, focus, time, and so many other aspects of me that I do not even realize most times. Where does this come from? Why is it so easily consuming? Many who work struggle with this, especially when working hard to provide for a family.

During the 2018 Winter Olympics, one of the USA athletes stood out to me. David Wise competed in the Ski Half-Pipe, and he won the gold medal in the 2014 Winter games in Sochi. During the competition, NBC showed an interview giving a glimpse into Wise’s life behind the skis. He spoke of how he realized what was really important – his faith and his family knowing they were loved by him – and how to his young children it didn’t really matter if he was the greatest skier in the world. He spoke these words right before winning his gold medal, defending his gold from the previous games.

Considering all of this, the story of Paul and Silas with the Philippian jailer comes to mind, from Acts 16:25-40. In verses 33-34, after Paul and Silas share the gospel with the jailor:

33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

IMG_8874My role as a husband and a father is to take care of my family, provide for them, and lead them to know Jesus. But while my kids are young, as they are now, what do they really care about? Do they care that I work hard to be a faithful minister? Do they care about anything I accomplish or any accolade I receive?

What my kids really care about is daddy playing a board game with them or listening to them play piano or having a dance party. They just want to be loved.

Hard work and excellence are great pursuits, but leading a family requires no less hard work and excellence. However, the type of work my family needs just may look different than what I had expected. The balance and the expectations change over time as well, as the seasons of life ebb and flow.

All parents feel pressure – but we do have some control of where that pressure is applied. May the goals I have in life be that I provide first and foremost the love of God to my family so that they know the Lord and seek to know Him. May I keep in balance being a great husband and father along with being great in my vocation.

Money, jobs, and awards all fade away. Focus on the things that last forever.

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Be Gollum, Put Down The Precious

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Reese’s cups are quite an unhealthy “precious” in my life.

As I am writing this post, I already realize it may sound somewhat postmodern or old fogey sounding, but this is something that has been heavy on my mind lately.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary tales of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings garnered a new level of notoriety with the recent movie releases, but the story itself is nothing new. The Hobbit was first published in September 1937, and the world was introduced to Bilbo the Hobbit, Gollum, and the ring that Gollum called “my Precious.”

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Gollum and his Precious

Throughout the stories, Gollum’s relationship to the magic ring was described more fully. He was obsessed with it. He couldn’t live without it. He was addicted. When he wasn’t holding it, he went insane…well, even more insane.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever laid your cell phone down and walked away from it for a few minutes? How do you react? Do you hunker down and start screaming for the precious?

Smartphones have really done crazy things to us. Some of us are checking facebook or twitter at every stop light, dinner table, or wherever. You can never get some people to answer, but he or she will text back immediately. Do we have a problem?

I know I’m picking on cell phone people here, and not everyone has this problem. However, many of us have unhealthy obsessions that take incredibly too much precedent over normal life. It could be anything from technology to a hobby to a destructive behavior.

Put down the precious. Just let it go.

In the movie, Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf forcefully urges Bilbo to drop the ring and let it go. It’s so tough for Bilbo to do, but he does. It was keeping him from real, normal life.

The Bible has so much to say about all of this, but these words of Jesus are some of the best,

Matthew 6:19-21 – 19″Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Take a few minutes and just consider some changes you can make in your life to let go of the treasures that will not last. Be resolute in chasing after things that really matter and that really last.

The Precious poisoned Gollum, and it even poisoned Bilbo, Frodo, and anyone who carried it. Is something poisoning you?

Don’t be Gollum. Put the Precious down.

What Made David So Special? // 1 Sam. 13:14, 16:7, Acts 13:22

Lately I’ve been asking myself this question, what made David so special? He is described as a “man after God’s own heart,” and yet there were so many things David did wrong. He committed adultery, murder, lied, and even battled some pride issues. He even writes in Psalm 51 that “surely I was sinful since birth” and asked for a new heart to be created in him by God.IMG_4481

So how was he a man after God’s own heart? Despite all his faults, God never left him, and David was always a huge figure in the history of Israel. The answer lies in what really set David apart from so many others.

When it came to the Greatest Commandment, David nailed it. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 has written the “Greatest Commandment” which is also quoted by Christ in the Gospels, “4″Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

If you look through the history of all the Kings of Israel, David clearly sets himself apart by his worship. He truly loves the Lord with everything. He never worships a foreign god, consults a medium, or tries to be God. He had no other gods before him.

There are only a few other kings that come along – Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, and a few others – that display this some type of attitude and behavior, but David is the shining example of it. And what set the other kings apart was their actions concerning the worship of other gods in the land. Asa was even described in 2 Chronicles 14 & 15 as serving the Lord “wholeheartedly.” He had an amazing prayer in 2 Chr. 14:11,

“Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God: ‘LORD, there is no one besides You to help the mighty and those without strength. Help us, LORD our God, for we depend on You, and in Your name we have come against this large army. Yahweh, You are our God. Do not let a mere mortal hinder You.’”

So what’s the point of all this? What amazes me about David is the dynamic of his relationship with God. In spite of his moral shortcomings, God never leaves Him. Times got tough and David even underwent discipline, but God never left Him. What David did was a lower priority to the condition of his heart.

God looks at the heart first. He does not ignore what people do or don’t do, but those things come second. Notice what Isaiah 29:13 says, “And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me…” God is not upset with what His people are doing; He cannot stand the difference between their hearts and lives.

What does this mean for us today: What or who is number one in your heart? What drives your life?

We are not going to be perfect. We are going to mess up, and God knows that. God knew David would mess up, and boy did he! But he still sought the Lord first, and that is what drove his life. When David did mess up, he turned back to the Lord and not something else to make things right.

Our hearts need to be our number one concern before we try to “live better.” God wants us to live for Him, but He wants our hearts first.

That is what made David so special: God had his heart. That is why he was a man “after God’s own heart.”

Who has your heart?

Be a Positive (+), Because You Don’t Know How Many Negatives (-) Someone Has Had

Do you ever let things bother you more than they probably should? I do. I’m a people pleaser and type A personality, so when things don’t always go how they should or something isn’t kosher, I really let it get to me.

So in this post I am going to be transparent and honest, and hopefully it can be a positive to you.

Even though I try to stay positive, sometimes negatives can really get me down. The other day I had a negative come up. The week had been long, I was physically and mentally tired, and this negative just ate at me like a termite into a tree.

My mind continued to work with all the ways to fix the issue, wrestling with feelings of failure and inadequacy. All the times you preach and teach about our worth in Jesus and how much He loves us – and when the time comes for me to use the truth to face the lies I find myself not doing so well.

Going into the next day I still carried the negative with all its effects and me. As the day moved slowly on, people began to visit with me (not knowing what was going on because I was putting on my best smiley face). Moving from conversation to conversation, folks began to encourage me and give me some great positives. I wasn’t asking or fishing for them. But I do think God was speaking through others and saying, “You aren’t a failure. Look to Me for your worth. You may fail at times, but you are not a failure.”

Those people did not know what was going on behind the scenes, but for my one negative I heard and saw at least ten positives. As I reflected on this even more, I wondered what I am in the life of others. Am I a positive (+) or a negative (-)?

Proverbs 15:13 says, “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart [produces] a broken spirit.” Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”

In my own life I was challenged by this to be a positive in the lives of others, because you never know how many negatives someone has had before you have seen them.

As Christians we are the light of the world (Matthew 5). And I believe while we struggle in the life, we must still shine our light in the darkness of others’ lives.

Letting Go and Jumping In // Luke 9:23-26, 57-62

A little over a week ago, I fulfilled a long-time dream of mine and went skydiving. I’m not quite sure what has drawn me to it. Maybe it has been the idea of flying? Maybe it’s sheer ignorance of the effects of gravity and force? Whatever the real reason, I went.

And went I did. My jump was called a “static jump,” which means that I had a cord attached to the plane that automatically pulled the parachute as I jumped. It also means that I jumped with out anyone with me, navigating myself to the ground.

I took a class to learn how to do this, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how I actually had to exit the airplane. We skydivers have to step out on the wheel of the plane, hold on the wing strut, and then let go and jump back. No kick, no push, just jump. And let me tell you, once you get out there, it would be quite difficult to get back in, although not impossible. You can watch the video of my jump just below if you would like.

We all come to a point in our lives when it’s time to hold on or let go. But what holds us back? Fear? Over-commitment? Anger? Pride? Shame?

In Luke 9:23-26, Jesus shares some very strong words about what it means to follow Him, “Then He said to [them] all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.”

Jesus is calling us to follow Him, to “jump in” to His work and Kingdom. Yet, so often we are holding on so tightly to something, and we just can’t let go. The funny thing is, compared to a life lived with Christ, the things we hold on to seem silly in comparison. Some hold on to a certain career or money, others hold on to status or fame, even more hold on to sin that takes them on a roller coaster of happiness, depression, and destruction.

Probably what are held on to the most are our own lives. We want to choose where our lives are going and how we spend our time. “I’ll give some of my life to God, but not all of it. I need to be sure and have at least some control.” For most of us, this is what is holding us back – ourselves.

But Jesus didn’t say, “If anyone follows after me, he must give me a few hours on Sunday, maybe a Wednesday here or there, and a committee seat.” The commitment to following Christ is a whole life following Him. From Church on Sunday to lunch with your co-workers or friends on Tuesday, to your family on Thursday, and making that decision on Saturday – following Christ is every time and everywhere.
With a new school year coming, times change so much for many of us, and many new opportunities come forward to share the love of Christ. And while we are here and have life, God has a plan for each of us. What will be your answer to His call?

Look at how some others responded to Jesus later in Luke 9:59-62,

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” But He told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is asking for everything, but He gave everything for us. And the truth is, everything we have in His perfect hands is so much better than leaving everything in our hands. Where is God calling you to right now? And what are you holding on to that is keeping you from falling into His perfect grace and plans? Let go, and jump in!

God’s Word > our word // Acts 8:26-40

Have you ever stood on the shore of a beach and let the water rush around your feet? What is that feeling like? Can you notice the shifting of your weight at the ground beneath your toes slowing gives way?

I shared with our Sunday School leaders last week some things that have been on my heart lately, and one thing we discussed was the importance of God’s Word being the foundation of ministry.

However, the Bible is not merely for pastors and Sunday School teachers, but it is the ONLY powerful, reliable foundation that any Christ-follower can rely on for growth and truth.

In so many of our churches and ministries today, what foundation is being used to build disciples? So many times we focus on attendance, numbers, aesthetics, events, or even just trying to keep people in the doors. But disciples aren’t made that way. A real follower of Christ doesn’t follow because the music is just right or the preaching is shallow. Real followers feel the breath of God from the Scriptures.

We see an example of this in Acts 8:26-40. Philip, one of Christ’s disciples, is following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and comes across a man reading from a scroll of Isaiah. When Philip asks the man if he knows what he is reading, the Ethiopian replies, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” Check out how Philip responded (vs.35):

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”

After this, the Ethiopian was so moved he gave his life to Christ and wanted to be baptized immediately! What’s even crazier about this story is that they are in the middle of the desert, and as soon as this happened they were near water. Water? Desert? What??? (that’s my Gus (Dule Hill) impression from Psych)

No matter what our role in the church is, ministry must have a focus on God’s Word and training people in it. Whether it’s having study groups, discipleship, going deeper in your sermons or talks, or challenging your Sunday School class to read together outside of church – we have to put our faith and trust in the Bible over our own words.

Don’t focus on the clever little sayings that sound good, making all your points fit alliteration, or always making people happy. Don’t try to “convince” someone to the Gospel. Let the Gospel speak for itself.

There are many smooth speakers out there who have very large crowds come to hear them, but how much does that really impact someone’s life both here and in eternity? The best preachers aren’t remembered by what they said but what Scripture passages their sermon was about.

Even though it may seem like I’m just talking about church and ministry, this also applies to the individual Christian’s walk and relationship with Christ. It is vital to being a disciple.

It’s summertime right now, and church camps are in full swing. So many people have a great experience with the Lord, but very few have a lasting relationship that comes out of it. The biggest difference from camp and life away from it is the absence of the breath of God. To maintain discipleship and commitment, God’s Word must be breathed into our lives consistently.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

How close do you have to be to feel someone’s breath? Very, very close. Sometimes, uncomfortably close. When we draw near to God through His Word, we feel His breath – we draw close to Him. Draw near and let the Holy Spirit breathe life into you!

Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Life Lessons from the Legend of Zelda

Life Lessons from the Legend of Zelda

Even though video games can be a controversial issue due to the questionable content some of them contain, the Legend of Zelda has always been a game for all ages with a storied legacy.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of the first Legend of Zelda game (the very first game I ever owned – the gold one*), and my friends David Rutledge, James Cluck, and my brother Ben collaborated with me on this project.

There is much to be said about the game from the music to the stories. This post is all about life lessons that we have found from the Legend of Zelda. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we would love to expand it! So if you have any, please leave a comment below!

1. Always be looking for opportunities to make a difference, they are around every corner.
2. Love is the most powerful force of all. More hearts, more power.
3. Learn how to use a boomerang. It could save your life. Literally.
4. Be on guard. Use a shield wisely.
5. Courage and power are important, but without wisdom both are incomplete.
6. Without music, everything would be so boring.
7. A testimony wields no strength unless the one who is giving it has faith.
8. Even when all things seem to be falling apart around you, don’t forgot you’re only a song away from a clean slate.
9.You have to be willing to rearrange a few things to get to where you want/need to be.
10. God gives us many tools, but sometimes, only the hookshot will work.
11. You have to get good with what you have first to get something better.
12. Helping others on your way often ends up helping you along your way.
13. There’s often treasure down the path that looks like a dead end.
14. Hard work will frequently only earn you 20 rupees.  Deal with it.
15. Heroes don’t need to talk.  They just nod and get to work.
16. There are many things that we should change as life goes on, but there are a few that should always be the same.
17. Never give up.
18. Evil is persistent, but good always wins.
19. There is a hero inside all of us.
20. It’s dangerous to go alone!

*David told me that gold edition of the original game is actually more common than the plain gray version!

David – @spaceportorange
James – @jamescluck
Ben – @benjmat
Me – @dougmatlock