Disruptive Witness

Causes are as easy to pick up as they are to put down.

I really enjoyed this topic in the book. We are people of cause. A lot of people will follow a cause because of their peers. They do not really care about the cause but think it is cool because their friends are doing it. Stop being part of a cause because it is cool. Pursue a cause that you are personally invested in. Stop letting the world pick your cause. When we let the world choose our causes, we live a half-hearted mission.

How on earth can we redeem each moment for him if we are so absorbed by the next thing that we forget he exists at all?

Sometimes, I think we live for the next best thing or event in our lives. We do not understand the concept of being still and trying to learn in the moments. I have learned the faster I go, the less I learn. We miss moments because we rush through them. The same can be said with God. We live from our computer screen to our cell phone screen and miss moments with God. I have been trying to go to the mountains once a week because that is my time to be still. It helps me hit the pause button and be still. As I look at the mountains, I realize that this world was not created overnight. So why then do we try to overnight our moments with God? Stop making God UPS and learn to rest in Him and with Him.

The mourning we experience reflects the reality that each human life is significant and made in the image of God. 

This statement is so true. It is always hard to hear of someone dying. You might have not known the individual very well, but your heart still breaks for the person. It does not matter if the person mourning is a Christian, their heart still breaks for that individual. My old college pastor told a story once that he was invited to speak at a young person’s funeral. He did not know the person, but he said it was a very sad time. At the end, he gave an opportunity to accept Christ. A lot of people in that room accepted Christ and lots of tears were shed. That story has stuck with me because they were mourning the loss of God’s creation, but that day mourning was turned into joy because people were saved, and love came in.

Alan did a great job writing this book. It really makes you think about how I can become a better witness in the world. We have to do better. We have to stop fighting our battles over social media and start listening more. We have let our causes be our voice instead of letting the love of God speak through us. So, are you ready to be a true witness? If so, get this book.

Finding Your Way Back to God

IMG_7282Finding Your Way Back to God: Dave Ferguson & Jon Ferguson

This book changed my whole perspective on the prodigal story in the Bible. If you grew up in church, then you understand how many times this story has been told from the pulpit. This book takes that story and explains this statement:

“God, if you are real, make yourself real to me.”

The prodigal story is found in Luke 15, and it is about a young man that takes his inheritance early and then leaves his father’s house. He goes, spends everything, and ends up in the pits feeding and eating with the pigs. The first concept is the journey back home from our past. The son had to make the journey home, but he was full of guilt and shame. The journey home brings healing, freedom, and forgiveness, but it is up to us to make the journey home. The question on the way back home that we must ask is, “How did you forget God?” This question must be asked because somewhere along our journey of pursuing God, we have forgotten him, and then we realize that we need his grace and love to make it back home.

Another concept from the book is about a longing for love. On p. 32 of the book it states, “Sometimes human relationships add incredible richness to our lives. Sometimes they just bring sorrow. But none of these relationships can fulfill the deepest longing for love in our hearts. That’s why, in our journey to find God, we need to pay attention to whether our desire for love is distracting us or is leading us to him.” We have to ask ourselves, “Who is our true love? Are we trying to fulfill love by worldly desires or Godly desires?” We have to examine our hearts and make sure our pursuit of God is for love’s sake and not only heaven’s sake. Sometimes I think we get so caught up on trying to get to heaven that we fall in love with the concept of heaven more than God.

One of the last concepts that I would like to talk about is asking God, “Why?”

A lot of Christians or even people that have left the faith want to ask God, “Why did this happen to me?” The book goes over this “why” concept and how that can keep us away from God. Asking God why only makes us lose faith in God because we question his way. We do not understand, but we must have faith to believe that God will work all things out in his own time. It is not our job to ask why, but it is our job to say, “I will trust you, God.”

By the end of the book Jon and David explain the son’s arrival home back to the father’s house. I do not want to spoil the ending, so you will have to buy the book and read the rest of the nuggets of wisdom that they explain. Some of these thoughts are my own that I gathered from the book as I read it. So, please do not hold the authors accountable for all of the statements. I hope you buy this book! I highly recommend it. I will post a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

Stop

red stop signage under clear blue sky
Photo by Martin Péchy on Pexels.com

This word is probably the most hated word in America. We live in a fast paced culture that likes to keep moving and rolling (even through stops signs. Guilty as charged!)  It is the hardest word to follow when trying to hurry through life. We do not have time to stop and be present because we feel like we do not have time to stop.

I was at church a couple weeks ago, and the pastor was talking about always trying to be good and do good and not resting in the righteousness of Christ. Sometimes I think Christianity has become so many rules that we always try to reach the status of Christ, but we were never called to reach the status of Christ. We are called to follow Christ and make disciples. Too often, instead of resting in Christ, we strive to become perfect like Christ, but that is not our purpose. Stop trying to strive. Rest.

When we try to strive in Christ, we end up failing because we are all sinful creations. We are not perfect, so let’s all be real and know that each of us will fail. This is one of my biggest fears: that we try to become perfect Christians instead of becoming disciples. I saw a tweet that said, “Instead of making a to-don’t list, make a to-do list.” But I question if God really wants a to-do list, or does he just want our hearts?

So, stop trying and let God work on your heart. Stop trying to become the perfect Christian and rest in his peace. Stop acting like you have it all together; be broken and real with God. He is looking for imperfect people. When we stop trying, God starts working in us and through us. Christianity shouldn’t feel like a job it should be filled with peace and rest.

 

 

Everybody Always

You do business with buyers; you do life with neighbors.

Do you know your neighbors? I just moved out of my childhood home, and I knew most of the neighbors on a surface level. I did not really know them, but we would do the wave and talk to one another when we were outside. I think this is how a lot of Christians know their neighbors. We never take time to invite our neighbors to dinner or get to know them. I know I am guilty of this, and I hope in the future- once I settle in a community to call home- that I am able to put this into practice.

I want people to meet you and me and feel like they’ve just met everyone in heaven.

WOW! This statement is hard to take in because it is hard to love people that have hurt you or taken advantage of you. I think most people expect a lot of Christians to fire back, but we as Christians have to learn to love through trials. I think social media has painted a bad picture of a lot of Christians, and unbelievers will judge a lot of Christians by what they post and how they respond to others. We have to stop beating each other down and learn to not post at all. We show more strength by not posting at all than we do by trying to be right.

God isn’t always leading us to the safest route forward but to the one where we’ll grow the most.

Embrace the journey through the uncomfortable. Loving people can be challenging, but it is people that shape us along the way. Each of us can learn important lessons from people that are different from us. Sure, people will take advantage of our love, but that is okay because we learn to forgive them through God’s love towards us. Love is not safe, and it is painful, but it is worth the journey.

People don’t follow vision; they follow availability.

I think this is a shift that is taking place. People want someone to talk to more than they want vision. I think this shift is happening because of social media. We see so much of others that we, in the end, simply want someone to talk to. Our vision has been blinded by our unavailability.

Loving people the way Jesus did either changes everything in us or it changes nothing.

Jesus loved people expecting nothing in return. Too often we make loving people a job instead of a calling. We cannot look at people as a job, but rather we should look at them through the eyes of Jesus. When we see people the way Jesus did, then we will be moved with compassion, and that changes everything in us. We have to quit using the language of “they are a piece of work” or “they suck the life out of me” because those are the very people Jesus would choose to be with. Love people to the point of being uncomfortable because that is when Jesus will change more in you as a person.

The Broken Way

When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ.

I really enjoyed this concept in the book. The church does need to do a better job at creating spaces for brokenness. I think a lot of people are afraid to be open with others because the church can turn someone’s vulnerability into gossip time. This has to change! If you have to tell the church every week that this is a safe place, then I question how safe the space truly is.

He looked out the window and pointed. Every morning that the sun rises, and you get to rise. That’s God saying He believes in you, that He believes in the story He’s writing through you. He believes in you as a gift the world needs.

Our brokenness has purpose even though it feels like there is no hope. Our hope isn’t found in the one that caused our brokenness, but our hope is found in Christ. As I read this in the book, my mind went to when my parents got a divorce. I was broken to the core because my whole life had just changed. It was hard! I was 8 years old, and it took me until I was a teenager to deal with that deep wound. There were many nights that I did not care. I questioned God; I asked why. I know now that it had a purpose, and God has used me to help other kids going through that same brokenness. It is true that God is writing a story through us. Even though it may take years to see the story, it always ends in God’s redemptive plan and points back to Him.

It’s always the vulnerable heart that breaks broken hearts free.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of the book. Be open about your brokenness because it is through our brokenness that God can heal the broken heart. I got the picture of having open heart surgery. God is there about to mend a broken heart that has been through a lot of pain and blockage and needs blood to flow through it again. He has to go in and make the blood flow clear again and put His touch on the heart. The recovery will be painful for a short time because the surgery takes time, but your wounds are now scars that can tell the story of God’s sovereignty.

The Broken Way isn’t just a good read. It is a soul-searching book. It will bring up wounds from your past that may not have been taken care of, but through this book, God will do a work. Tears will be shed as you read. Have an open heart as you read this book. Be prepared to close the book at times to talk to God. Don’t rush through God moments because you will have them as you go through this book. I encourage you to keep a journal too. I wrote some things down from my past that I thought were taken care of, but there was more that needed to be exposed. Don’t be afraid to go digging because some roots need to actually be dug up and not just trimmed. Get ready for a journey through your brokenness.

 

Compassion and Culture

I just started a new book by David Platt called Counter Culture. He is breaking down nine areas that our culture has basically allowed to become social norms. The book has me thinking a lot about the word compassion and how to be compassionate in a world that is broken and without compassion.

First, compassion moves us to action not anger. We as Christ’s disciples have to realize that he didn’t call us to be angry at the world but he called us to love it. This doesn’t mean we must keep silent about issues but there is a right way to standup for what you believe and protesting isn’t one of them. We have killed our witness over social media platforms because of us “protesting” in the name of Christ. It is easier to protest against someone than to love them. We have gotten really good at protesting but lack in love.

Second, everyone is called to be compassionate not just a few people. I do not like when you people say, “Daniel, you are so compassionate.” It makes me upset because it is almost like they are saying “thank you for doing my part as a disciple for me”. Compassion is a call for everyone. The issues and the cries of this world should break your heart. It shouldn’t make you look around and encourage people that are living out a compassionate life. Your encouragement doesn’t replace your responsibility to be compassionate.

Third, GET INVOLVED! Nothing makes me more upset than people that talk about an issue but aren’t doing anything to help. The world has seen enough talkers, they are looking for doers. Your greatest witness to the world is to show them you care further than your pew seat. Pews keep making the Christian church more comfortable while the world is crying out. Don’t be afraid to get involved in someone else’s mess.

Don’t be a bystander anymore. Get involved in some mess. It is time that we quit making the word compassionate about how big of a check we write. Checks don’t replace your compassionate duties. My prayer is that we don’t just write checks but get involved with the place our check is going towards. What would happen if we activated compassionate loving disciples in a broken and dying world?

The Trap of the Cracked Door

Have you ever walked past a cracked door and wondered what was behind it? I find myself doing this all the time. I will usually end up walking past the same cracked door a few times and wonder, what in the world could be hidden behind the door. It could be completely dark and I would still take a peek because I want to know what is behind the door. Isn’t this the same way we feel about the calling of God upon our life?

I know there has been many times in my life where I have tried to peek and even open a cracked door that was never meant to be touched. The door looked so promising and looked like a perfect door for me and I felt compelled to open it. Sometimes I feel like we can get so caught up in opening a promised door but it wasn’t our promised door to open. If YOU have to open the door then the door was never promised for you. The problem with opening someone else’s door is that we actually take away from their promises and try to do their calling when God never called us to that door. This is why we have to learn the art of patience.

It is hard to be patient and wait. I look over my life and the times that I have tried to open a door that was cracked. I will never forget starting Transition Furniture when there were many door cracking moments. I would always want to move faster and dream bigger and force doors to open into the future. I could never live in the present door that WAS OPENED for me. I learned an important lesson: Moving from cracked door to cracked door only holds you back and never leads you further into the future. If you learn to live in the present door that WAS OPENED FOR YOU, then the other doors will open and you will not have to worry about a cracked door.

Be careful of cracked doors. The cracked doors look promising but they are only traps to hold you back from the future. Learn to live in the present and stay faithful to the opened door in front of you.