No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

This is an absolutely amazing verse of Scripture. The promise that is found in it is so refreshing!

The problem that I find though, is when people quote this Scripture they take it completely out of context. It seems like everyone likes to look at 1 Corinthians 10:13 to remind themselves that God is faithful and that He is present. And both of those things are good and true and found in this verse.

It is when they say things like “Don’t worry you will never face a situation that you can’t handle.” Or maybe they come out with “Wow, I’m really sorry you went through that terrible situation, God must really think you can handle a lot.”

Excuse me?!

First, if that is how you respond to someone going through a rough situation in their life, then maybe you should take a clue from Job’s friends who just sat quietly for a while with him.

Second, this verse is not talking about facing difficult situations. This verse does not promise that we will not face terrible troubles in our lives that we may not be able to handle.

This verse mentions temptation. You see, we all face temptation every single day. We are tempted to sin and rebel against God. That temptation looks differently for every person on this planet. Sometimes it comes upon us so strongly we just do not see anyway out.

We feel like we have to give into the sin because the desire is so strong and oppressive.

But Paul writes here in 1 Corinthians there is a way out! He says no temptation is new. People have been facing the same sins throughout human history. Perhaps the mode of that temptation is different but it is still the same sin trying to press in.

Not only does he say people have been facing the same sins since the beginning of time but he also says that God is faithful and will provide a way out. Now that is awesome!

When we are in the darkness and we are completely lost. We feel the only thing we can do is give into the sin we have been struggling with for our entire lives. But God is there and He wants us to see that He has given us a way of escape.

This is where memorizing Scripture comes in handy. See, when Jesus was tempted by Satan, He quoted Scripture to overcome that temptation. Psalm 119:9-11 goes like this: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.  With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

That is the message we find in 1 Corinthians 10:13. God has provided a way out of sin. We really can live righteously.

And maybe sometimes we do face situations in our lives that are too difficult for us to handle, but that is why we have the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ. But that is a lesson for a different day.

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Anyone who is spreading the news of Jesus has a huge responsibility. We want to make sure we do everything we possibly can to bring everyone we come in contact with closer to Jesus and not push them further away. 

This has led to many discussions about being relevant. Maybe it is because I am in youth ministry but I have heard this discussion a lot when it comes to reaching the next generation for Jesus.

It is a tricky wire we try to cross. Many adults do not want to get involved in youth ministry because they are afraid they will have nothing to offer the kids. They don’t know the right lingo, they don’t dress the same, or their own teenage kids don’t want to hang out with them in public. 

Whatever the reason, many adults shy away from getting involved with teens.

I believe that this is a mistake!

Teens are not looking for someone to be their adult buddy. They don’t need you to be cool. It makes me a little sick to watch adults try to dress in the current teen fashion and talk like them.

You are no longer 16 stop acting like it!

As adults in teens lives we need to act like… well… adults. So many youth don’t have a strong family structure at home. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should replace their parents, but we should try to be a source of consistency. We can provide rules for them. Sure they will push back, but as long as you continue to show them love and let them know you are doing this because you care, one day they will get it (or at least most of them will). 

Also, let’s not forget that we are speaking the message of salvation. It has been provided by the God of the universe! He made everything. He sent His perfect Son Jesus to die in our place. He was our sacrifice! 

Please stop referring to God and Jesus in terms that degrade the amazing deity that He is. It is not worth sounding “cool” (again the kids don’t need you to be cool.. they have teen friends for that) to dilute the personality of the amazing God we serve. 

Let’s use some Biblical names for our God, and not new “hip” names (I don’t even care that nobody says hip anymore) that we have come up with to try and reach the next generation. These other names and qualities have been defined to us for a reason. They work in getting across who Jesus really is. 

What I want you to get is the message we carry as Christians is more powerful than we can imagine. It was given to us by God Himself because He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place and we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us to help. 

When we show genuine love to teens they will be attracted to it. They will see that you genuinely care and that will be abnormal from what they receive from other adults in their lives. They wont care that you wear suspenders or that your hair is beginning to turn white. As long as they see you care about them, the feeling will be reciprocated. 

And stop trying to make the message of Jesus cool. It is better than cool! It’s salvation. It’s from God and it is a message that has been crafted to last. 

“Maybe you’ve already decided you’re a follower and Not a Fan; well, I hope you keep reading, because one of the core symptoms of ‘fandom’ is that fans almost always consider themselves to be followers.” Kyle Idleman on page 27 of Not a Fan

I know some people may read that line and then think “well that includes everybody!” That was one of the first thoughts that went in my head.

Either I am a fan and just think that I am a follower or I am truly a follower of Jesus. Was this just some ploy to try and get the readers to continue after chapter one of his book?

I don’t think that is the case. Idleman really wants people to take a careful look into their lives and ask some hard questions.

He wants them to leave the comfortable lifestyle of being a fan (simply liking Jesus) and become an all out follower of Jesus.

Idleman wants his readers to allow their faith to influence other areas of their lives, not just their Sunday morning show. He wants people to go from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.

This book encourages it’s readers to dive into all that Jesus has to offer.

It is not good enough that we simply sing songs on Sunday morning or that we make sure to say things like “God bless ’em.” It is not even good enough that we put a “Jesus fish” on the back of our cars or a bumper sticker with a cool Bible verse.

Idleman wants to see real committed change in the lives of those who love Jesus.

What is even more important though, is that Jesus wants all of these things for us as well! He did not call us so we could continue living exactly as we always have.

God has called us so we can be in communion with Him. It is so we can accept the salvation Jesus provides. We now have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us.

This calls for some drastic life changes and we can find examples of how to live in Scripture. Check out the story of Paul in Acts. That kind of excitement and devotion is what we have now been called.

So stop settling for what you had before Jesus. Evaluate your life. Are you a fan or a follower? Now do something about it.

There is One Way

March 20, 2012

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'” John 6:66-69

Jesus did something amazing. He fed over 5000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and two fish! In some places today that may not even be enough to feed a family of 5 for a day. This action was nothing short of miraculous. 

Because of this, Jesus had many people following Him. Jesus and the Twelve went across the sea but people followed them. They wanted more from Jesus.

The problem was, they were not as much interested in gaining spiritual insights as they were about getting another free meal. Jesus saw this and began to teach. 

He told them about how He is the bread of life. In this sermon He said things like “You need to eat my flesh and drink my blood” (paraphrased). 

At the end of His teaching people began to comment on how Jesus was saying some very difficult statements. They were not sure they wanted anything from Him at this moment because it was hard to process all that He meant.

So they left. Thousands of people no longer followed Jesus because He asked too much of them.

Now it must be understood that Jesus was not calling His followers to cannibalism. He was alluding to a time when we would take the Lord’s Supper together. When we take the bread and cup we remember that Jesus’ body was broken and blood was poured out for us. 

But people respond the same way today. When a preacher begins to call the congregation to change, some people stop going to that church.

When a man reads a passage of Scripture and he feels that he needs to change, sometimes he decides that the Scriptures must be speaking in a figurative way. That way he can continue living however he wants.

Instead of responding in that way, let’s respond as Peter did. We need to realize that Jesus is the Holy One of God! There is no other way of salvation. It is only through Him!

We should be excited to follow Him because He is the only One leading us anywhere! 

Don’t forget who Jesus is and what He has done. Don’t let fear keep you from committing completely!

Have you ever heard of the organization Jews for Jesus? If not I would highly recommend that you look it up.

I just finished reading the book Called To Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Rosen. I received this book free through booksneeze.com.

This book was written by Moishe Rosen’s daughter. She retells the story of her father’s life. It starts from the time Moishe is born. He is a young Jewish boy who was taught the importance of Jewish practices but not really of Jewish faith. He came to the understanding that a Jewish person did certain things because they were Jewish, not because a belief in God.

Moishe had a few encounters with Christians. Some of these were good and others were not. Moishe met, fell in love with, and married his wife Ceil at a young age. They both shared their Jewish understandings. When Ceil became pregnant though she began to pray to God and that led to a change in both of their lives.

Ceil became a Christian first. She was searching Him out. She felt helpless and needed God’s guidance. God provided a person to lead her to Christ and she started going to church and having Bible studies. After a long time, Moishe realized that Jesus really was the Messiah, so he and his wife were both baptized and they continued in church.

After that many troubles came. Both of their families rejected them, they went to the east coast so Moishe could go to Bible college and he started working with the American Board of Mission to the Jews (ABMJ) for many years. After many frustrations with the organization he left and continued working with a project he had started called Jews for Jesus.

Trouble continued to come his way but he believed that the call God had placed on his life was greater than any persecution he faced. He lived out God’s calling his whole life until at the age of 78, on the day of Pentecost, he died of cancer.

I was blown away by this book. Honestly I was a little hesitant to get started because the book was a bit longer than the others I have been reading and it has been a while since I have read a biography. I am so glad I chose this one and stuck with it!

Reading the story about all the troubles Moishe faced and how he overcame them was so encouraging. I loved seeing how passionate this man was about reaching out to Jews with the saving message of Jesus. He did not let anything stop him.

The author made sure to point out many of Moishe’s flaws which just made the book that much better. As a reader, I got the feeling that Moishe was flesh and blood just like me and yet he was able to do great things for the Kingdom! I would highly recommend this book to others! It is a great way to get excited again about the call that God has placed on your own life.

It is amazing to me at how much we learn from our parents. I hear about how much of an influence our parents have on our lives but most of the time I tend to not really think about it.

Well this weekend, Mom and Dad came down to visit. Then on Sunday we all went to meet with the church at Stokelan Drive. When the Lord’s Supper was passed around, I took each emblem and then leaned forward, folded my hands, and began to pray.

Right as I was leaning forward I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I saw my parents leaning forward in the exact same way as I just had and they were praying.

I have always considered the Lord’s Supper to be a very special time for a Christian. I take the bread and cup very reverently and afterward I follow it with much pray. But I always thought it was something that I had just learned to respect over time, never really associating it with anyone in particular.

Well either my parents passed on a particular gene that causes us to hunch over right after eating tiny pieces of bread and a small cup of grape juice, or I learned this reverence from them.

This got me thinking about how powerful an influence we can be to others without even realizing it.

I have noticed this with my son. I once sat down and grunted a little while doing it as if it were difficult. For weeks after I did, he copied me.

We should make sure that we are modeling what we want other people to follow. Even when we may not think anyone is watching. Often someone is watching, even though we are not aware of it.

Examine yourself. What are the things you do and say every single day? Is it something you want your children, students, or others to copy? You may have a much larger influence on them than you think. Be sure to act intentionally and make sure your actions are ones that God would desire.

A Great Book for Men

March 14, 2012

“God has wired each of us – you, me, and every other man – with a deeply felt need to be significant and to feel like our lives are going somewhere. Nothing feels quite as good as coming to the end of a long day – or a long life- like an exhausted warrior, knowing that you have spent yourself in a worthy cause for the glory of God.” (Taken from the book Man Alive by Patrick Morley)

Patrick Morley takes his reader through 7 primal needs that he believes each man has. If these needs are not met then he says the man will feel unfulfilled and unable to figure our why.

The seven primal needs are: to feel like I don’t have to do life alone, to believe that God knows, loves, and cares about me personally, to believe that life has a purpose – that my life is not random, to break free from the destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down, to satisfy my soul’s thirst for transcendence, awe, and communion, to love and be loved without reservation, and to make a contribution and leave the world a better place.

As I began to read this book I was a little hesitant. I have read books that are meant to spur men on to live the life that “God desires” for them and I left the book feeling like the mission was not accomplished. On page 7 of this book Morley says “I’d estimate that as many as 90 percent of Christian men lead lukewarm, stagnant, often defeated lives.” I had a problem with this because he based that number on nothing except his own estimation.

Fortunately there were not many other problems I had with the book. Patrick Morley did a great job addressing these needs that men have. I believe each one to be true. We really do have certain needs to be met and we cannot meet them on our own. It is only through growing in Christ the way that Scripture shows us that each one of these needs can be met.

There are many great lines in the book like the one above. It’s like the author is calling his readers to live godly lives as men. He wants us to know our calling and find our fulfillment in Jesus. It is quite a call and I really felt spurred on to do great things that God has laid out for me to do!

Men who are seeking out God or maybe just trying to find a purpose for their lives would benefit from reading this book. It is a very easy read and really captures the attention. I got this book free from blogging for books.

Oh For Crying Out Loud

March 13, 2012

“As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they has seen, shouting:

‘BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacer, rebuke your disciples.” But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!'” (Luke 19:36-40)

I know this is a few weeks early. Palm Sunday does not come around until April 1 this year (no foolin’!), but this passage has really stuck out to me.

Jesus is entering into the city and the people of Jerusalem are shouting out praises. They are celebrating who the believe may be the Messiah. Now it is true that they still do not understand what the Messiah was really going to come to do. They still thought he would free them from Roman captivity. But none the less, they knew Jesus was a great man.

But then there were the religious leaders who are getting upset because people were celebrating Jesus. They were indignant that Jesus would continue to let the people shout out and they commanded that He stop them.

But Jesus quote the Old Testament to say that His praises deserve to be sang and if these people don’t then someone or something else will do it.

What are you doing in your life to proclaim the praises of the One who has saved you? Are you pushing it off to let the stones cry out? While that would be quite a sight to see and I’m sure an amazing sound, it is not the way God desires it to happen.

God longs for us to proclaim His greatness and to tell others about the amazing change He has made in our lives.

Don’t wait for the rocks to cry out. Do it now. Find someone and let yourself be excited about what He has done for you.

The tough question to grapple with is would you? I mean if believing in Christ would cost you your importance, would you follow Him? If it would shame you amongst your friends, would you follow Him all the same? If it meant you could no longer be an expert judge in your field of influence, would you follow Him? And the big one, if Jesus loved your enemies, would you still side with Jesus? And this speaks nothing of the financial problems following Christ would entail.Donald Miller

Who doesn’t like to feel important? I’m not talking about being famous. I’m not asking the question “Who wouldn’t like to be world renown?” I’m not even asking the question “Who doesn’t like to be the center of attention?”

I’m asking who doesn’t like to be important?

That’s why we get up in the morning isn’t it? We have the motivation to go about our daily routines because deep down we have convinced ourselves that what we do matters. And that is a good thing. It does!

We play a part in this huge crazy mess called life and that gives us importance.

It could be a number of different things. Parents get motivated because they have children to take care of. They are making a difference in their children’s lives. If someone doesn’t do the job we do in the office something will not get completed as it should. Friends need us. Whatever it is, there is something that makes us feel important.

But just imagine for one moment that the thing that makes you important no longer did. Say that a certain friend no longer needed you to bounce ideas off of, or you are no longer the go to guy at work. Think about when your kids move out, or a new discovery is made and suddenly your field of expertise is no longer valued.

Now think about the reasons you follow Jesus. Are the two connected? Is the only reason you continue to get up and follow after Jesus really because you have something in your life that makes it feel worth it? If those one or two things were taken from you would you keep following Him?

I bring this up because it is some pretty radical stuff that Jesus calls us to. I am supposed to be a completely different person once Jesus comes into my life. Think about these verses.

Philippians 4:10-11: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Luke 9:23-24: And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Paul doesn’t say that he is content in good circumstances. He does not say that when he is feeling validated or when everything is going his way that he is content. In 1 Thessalonians Paul does not write to rejoice for the good stuff. He does not say that when your enemy gets good things that you curse God and then when God blesses you that you bring glory to His name.

Jesus is not saying to focus on ourselves and make sure we have the best life possible.

In good and in bad, we follow Jesus. Even when we do not understand the world around us, we pick up that cross and keep trudging along.

See God did not call us to do big important and flashing things. God called us to be followers of Jesus. He called us to give over our entire lives to Him. He called us to something better than importance.

So, even if everything was stripped away from you, would you still follow Him?

I am a little late getting this put together. I have not been quite as diligent with posting as I would like to be but I am going to be making some changes to hopefully help with that. I will let you know more about it after I list the top 8 posts for February. Here they are!

Being a Real Man

What To Do When Things Don’t Go as Planned

The Perfect Father

That Would Never Happen to Me

Don’t Let Your Faith Flatline

Book Review: The Coming Revolution

The Power of a Voice

Tebow and Our Responsibility

From January to February my post about Tim Tebow dropped from number 1 to number 8. Football season was over and he was not quite as popular of a topic. However I believe this is the first time that I have had carry-over into a new month’s list.

Two of my top three had to do with being a man or father. I thought that was very interesting.

As I mentioned I had not been very diligent with writing posts during February as I would have liked. I plan to change that. I want to write four posts a week. I would like to see myself put up a new post Tuesday through Friday.

Sometime I am going to do to help with that is give myself some categories. I started this blog to be a Christian influence online and I want to keep doing that. Now I am going to do that in a different way each day of the week. I am going to finish out this week writing just as I always have.

Starting next week I will be writing in these categories.

Tuesday: Weekly Verse. I will be taking a verse from Scripture and writing specifically about it. It may be a verse that has caught my attention or one that people seem to have a lot of questions about.

Wednesday: Quotes. As I read through articles and other blog posts I come across quotes that grab my attention. I will be posting those on Wednesdays and my thoughts about them.

Thursday: Ministry. I work in a church doing Youth Ministry so that will definitely be a topic that comes up in my Thursday posts. However I will also be writing about ways that different groups of people can get involved in ministry.

Friday: Hot Topics. On Fridays I will be posting about a current hot topic in our culture and a Christian response to it. It can be from Hollywood to politics to weather patterns (I know, that last one really grabs your attention doesn’t it?).

I hope you are as excited as I am about this change to my blog. I want to do the best I can to live a Christian life in every way and I hope that this blog helps you to draw closer to Christ as well!

If you have a blog, what was your top post for February?