Why I Blog

In the past, I’ve given reasons why blogging can be a great idea. I wanted to give the few basic reasons why I blog.

It allows me to lay out a longer and deeper argument.

This is the main reason why I have a blog. Typically I write and publish my thoughts using Twitter. I love Twitter’s micro-blogging platform. It has caused me to condense what I say to 140 characters. This has helped me cut many wasted words and get straight to the point in whatever I write.

Yet there are times where a few tweets are not adequate to lay out a thought or an argument. A great example of these longer thoughts is when I wrote my argument stating that tongues were still part of the typical believers life. This post could of never been written in a series of tweets. It would of been separated and not seen as a whole piece and argument.

This is why I have a blog. I don’t write in-depth posts everyday, but when I want to write one, it’s great to have a place to do it.

It allows me to me train myself in the art of communication in writing.

In my opinion, writing is one of the hardest things to do in communication. Written words contain no emotions, inflections, attitudes, etc. It is only in the way they were written that they can convey those sort of things. Writing long-form blog posts here help me to tune my written communication skills. Writing has never been my strong suit, but the more I write here, the more my writing is being refined.

It allows me to write once, share forever.

I have talked to many people over the years and will continue to do so. Writing my long thoughts in a blog keep me from using time repeating myself. Now I can send them a link and say “read this.” I can also share a thought with a group of people instead of saying it multiple times, person to person.

It’s my personal doctrinal journal.

It’s beautiful and humbling to look at my blog posts over the years and see the maturing work of God in my life. I don’t like writing in a paper journal and I’m not much of a everyday journalist. Using a blog though, I can capture the major spiritual things I have believed and taught as well as post personal updates from time to time.

Advice For Twenties

Being a person in your twenties is a crazy thing. It’s a transition period for most people. A person typically enters their twenties being single, dependent on their parents, and at home. Yet by the time they leave their twenties they typically have families of their own, finished with school, working a full-time job, and maturing into a responsible adult. In these ten years most of a person’s biggest choices are made, choices that will define the rest of their lives. The range of emotions and experiences during this brief ten-year span can be overwhelming and confusing. Everything gets looked at, critiqued, adjusted, cemented or thrown out.

With that said, I wanted to offer a few helpful tips to those in their early twenties. Soon, I will be exiting this decade of my life and I wanted to share some of the things that have kept me sane, secure, and steady in God.

Plug yourself into a church and serve

When it comes to church attendance and service, there are three types of young people. There are those who don’t go to church or serve. They decide to put it off until they are in their thirties and have a family of their own. In truth, apart from an intervention from God, when these people are in their thirties, they will still have reasons and excuses why they can’t be part of a local church.

The second type of people are those who join and serve many local churches. They go to one church for the worship, one church for the message, one church for the college group, one church for the friends and events, and another church for the special outreaches and mission work they do. These are all things to be excited for and be a part of. The problem arises when we never fully commit to one local church. The local church is a family.  God designed this local family to refine you, like iron sharpening iron. When iron sharpens iron, there is friction. God’s maturing process for us is to be in a place where where there is a friction that sharpens us; a friction can cause some frustration or stress now and again. This is not done by picking and choosing things you like from a multitude of different churches. It’s done by finding a gospel preaching church and becoming a part of it and becoming a part of all the things that will irritate and frustrate you about it.

I hear many people use the excuse “well, I’m not growing there in this area of my life”, like the church is supposed to be perfect and complete in every area without their help. My advice to those people is to get in that area and help build it up where it’s supposed to be.

Don’t like the worship? Don’t feel it’s passionate enough?
Then join the church and help the worship team out by joining the team. Pray for them and the church. Worship God passionately each service in the midst of the congregation.

Don’t like the preaching/teaching? Don’t care much for the presentation? Don’t think it’s relevant enough?
Then join the church and help teach a Sunday School class or a kids/youth service.

Don’t think the church is committed to outreach and missions enough?
Then join the church and help organizing ways to reach out to the community. Talk to the pastors about helping them plan a short-term missions trip.

Legacy isn’t left by traveling from church to church, week to week. Legacy and change happens when you plant yourself in one place for a long extended period of time. I have been a part of my church for 14 years. I am being matured in the faith because I am constantly being sharpened by people and ministries that are not perfect. We are being perfected together for the glory of God.

Embrace older believers

Christianity has been around for a long time. The gospel is perfect but over time the church has added some things and traditions to it that may be unneeded or may not be relevant to the current generation. The problem arises where we start thinking that older people have ruined Christianity and stripped it of its greatness by all the traditions they hold. While there may be legitimate things that need to be changed or updated, most of these thoughts come out of arrogance and over-zealousness. The New Testament continually tells older men/women to teach and train the younger men/women. The Bible doesn’t say for younger people to state the ways in which the older people are ruining the church.

In hindsight, here are a couple reasons I thought older people were ruining the church:

  1. I didn’t see the bigger picture
    Many times we are focused on a issue that is a stumbling block to 3-4 people while the issue  is helping hundreds. Sometimes we get into a pattern of thinking that 16-30 is the only age bracket in the church. In typical churches, we only make up 20% of the congregation. Take a step back and think about other people and other age brackets.
  2. I wasn’t mature enough yet
    Many of the things that I had a problem with in the past were simply because I wasn’t mature enough to understand or want them. I’ll use hymns as an example. When I was a teenager through till my early twenties, I didn’t care much for hymns. I found them wordy, passionless, and lacking musical flair. Now I desire them more than any new cutting edge song. Sure, I have joined the worship team and helped them have more musical flair (see the above main point about joining the church), but the words and substance of the songs have remain unchanged. What has changed is my maturity. Now I understand the songs and have learned to apply passion from my heart when singing them.
Choose to embrace older people/believers and some of the traditions they hold. You may find out that as you get your older twenties that many of these things are good.

Make knowing God your one dream

Currently, there is much talk in the church about living your dreams and reaching your goals. I find this unscriptural since we are called to lay all those things down in order to pick up our cross and follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23). But not only is it unbiblical but it is also impractical. The Lord ordains where we live, what job we work, and the rest of our future.

Here’s the truth: God calls 98% of people to love him passionately and serve Him extravagantly in the midst of their mundane life.

You can go to college and get a MBA. You can plan to start a new business/ministry that will change the world all while donating profits to dig wells in Africa. Just realize that the Lord’s plans for you most likely will include you working as a shift supervisor at Target (or somewhere like that) for several years.

Why?

Because God’s plans for your life aren’t about you having the most awesome job so that you feel fulfilled in your life. His plans are for you to be fulfilled in him alone. He will go to great lengths to make this happen, whether by long seasons of singleness, boring jobs, serving a smaller church instead of helping a exciting mega-church that’s a few more miles away, etc. To quote C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory, “we are far too easily pleased.” God wants to be the absolute and ultimate center to our lives. He wants to teach you how to have passion and love for Him that will last. That mostly happens in the boring, dry, dull, and mundane parts and times in our lives.

So go to college, learn, grow, build relationships, travel, visit, but be content with whatever lot the Lord gives you. Make your only dream and goal to know Him. Don’t let your work factor into your satisfaction. Let only Jesus into that place. That place of satisfaction was made by Him and for Him. Anything else that tries to occupy that place in your heart and life will become an idol and will ultimately distract you from knowing Him in His fullness.

Thoughts On The Gay Marriage Debate

This week, there has been a lot of news about gay marriage. First, Vice President Biden said that he was very comfortable with gay marriage which led to President Obama declaring his support for gay marriage, the same day that North Carolina voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

As you would think, emotions are high between Christians who are against gay marriage and the homosexual community who are looking at this week being their defining moment in history. I thought I would take a moment to sum up some of the opinions that both sides have about the issue and then give my own thoughts about it.

The Secular Side

When I say the secular side, I am talking about how gay marriage is seen apart from Christ and the Bible. They see it as a political issue. People with a secular viewpoint may be Christians or not. They just don’t look to Jesus for a national bar on law and morality. People with a secular viewpoint are those who don’t see much (or anything) wrong with homosexuality or gay marriage. They don’t have to be gay themselves, they just have sympathies towards the gay community. Some just have an indifference to the whole issue. They are of the mindset “to each their own”.

I was sent an article that partially sums up the secular viewpoint. It was written by an evangelical Christian. Here’s a quote from it:

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it doesn’t affect my own life negatively. For my friends and acquaintances that are GLBT,the ability to have a legal standing on par with heterosexual couples carries weight in every area of their lives. And the fact that two consenting adult people love each other and are committed to one another does not devalue me, my marriage, my religion, or the society I live in. If anything, it has created a more stable, tolerant, and accepting society.

In reading the article, I am sympathetic. I understand and I agree in part. When God is taken out of the argument (which is what America has done) there is no reason that homosexual marriage can’t exist. In fact, it makes sense. Christianity seems to be the only thing that stands practically against gay marriage. Apart from God, it seems that people (gay or not) should experience equal rights, privileges and benefits (such as tax breaks) regarding marriage.

The Christian Side

Before I summarize the Christian viewpoint, I want to set up a couple things. When it comes to political issues, there are two two types of Christians:

  1. Liberal Christians
    These people tend to look at the issue with a practical filter only. They don’t take in account what the Bible says on a matter or what God’s heart is about the issue. They look at it secularly. (See “The Secular Side” for that viewpoint.)
  2. Conservative Christians
    These people tend to only look at the issue through the Bible, practical or not. They believe the authority of the Bible trumps a person’s desires and that the heart of God should be the center of every debate.

The problem with liberal Christians is that they move quickly to licentiousness and end up supporting/approving/helping/working-towards things that God does not approve of. The problem with conservative Christians is that many of them lack love and go quickly into moralism — like if we just had good families, good & moral laws and the Ten Commandments back in school, people would be more godly (which is untrue).

Speaking as a (conservative) Christian, we can’t seperate ourselves from being Christians since that’s who we are not what we do. So, as Christians, we want to love/hate/approve/disapprove of the things that God does and love people without condemnation. In the above article, the writer pushed “to love” and made love seem like acceptance/toleration — that God only calls us to love each other and be at peace with everyone. At its roots, it seemed like a mix between a hippie declaration and a unitarian message.

But i think the focus is wrong altogether.

Question: What is mankind’s chief end? Most people would say “to love”. In fact, the whole article had that as its focus; that love is supreme, the highest priority and the greatest good we can seek.

But “to love” isn’t our chief end. “To glorify Jesus by loving” is.

This means that the chief end in everything we do, believe, support, help, protest, etc is to glorify God by loving Him first and loving others. Love doesn’t look like toleration. Love looks like a cross. When we talk about love, we view it through the cross. Jesus loved us so He died on the cross. We love Him so we pick up our cross.

So how is it love to accept something and help push for something that will not only destroy people emotionally/physcially in this life but also for eternity? How does that temporary toleration (in this life) of gay marriage glorify God?

Jesus loves us and glorifies Himself by calling us out of our sin not in making us comfortable and accepted in it. Gay marriage didn’t start with equal rights, it started with telling people struggling with homosexual tendencies to accept their condition. That “gay” was the way they were born.

So the question becomes, as Christians, how do we love God and love people truly, giving them what they need/lack and not by acceptance/toleration, and doing it in a compassionate way?

That’s the question the church needs to ponder on. There’s tendendacies to either say “you’re sinful and not worthy of compassion” or “you can’t do anything about this so it’s not sin and therefore live with all the joys of the free in Christ.”

How do we say “you’re living in sin” but in love and compassion? Some may say we don’t need to point out sin, but that is what love commands. We are called to call good, good and evil, evil. We are compelled to help people be free of the poisons that are killing them, both in this life and the life to come. Tolerance is not equal to love as Kevin DeYoung points out:

If Jesus can be against lovelessness (Rev. 2:4) and against tolerance (Rev. 2:20), then tolerance must not be the epitome of love.

My Thoughts

This issue is closer to my heart than most, due to my being a homosexual in the past. By God’s grace helping me struggle with the tendencies inside me, I now stand free from the chains of homosexuality. This did not happen by marrying a girl or negative reinforcement. Jesus saw me wanting freedom and led me out of the pit of my own twisted sexuality.

With that being said, I cannot support gay marriage because:

  1. God doesn’t.
  2. It will destroy them. (read Romans 1)
  3. It leads them to believe that their issue is accepted, that it’s not sin.

At the same time, I realize that America couldn’t care less about God’s heart in all of this and that gay marriage will happen soon enough. It will not be the fault of a President or an organization. The American people’s hearts are dark and evil. They rejected Jesus many years ago so gay marriage is just the next step in living for themselves.

That said, I am concerned that the government would not call these civil unions but marriages equal with that of straight couples. It is very probable that the government would excerise its muscle by denying churches their 501c3 status if the pastors refuse to stop discriminating against gay couples who want to be married by the church. I feel that a civil union that provides the same tax breaks that married people get is better than the push for marriage equality. Marriage equality climaxes with the ending of Christian freedom and the true beginning of Christian persecution. In a world of toleration, there isn’t much room for absolutes. Since I believe gay marriage will eventually (most likely soon) happen, I am ok with the end of our Christian comfort. I’m sure it will be part of God’s plan in the end.

As for the church, I agree that we don’t need to brow beat people and standing on street corners with turn or burn signs. But neither do we deny that sin is damnable. At the same time, we need to proclaim that all sin is damnable. The church should never become a place where those surrendered and living in sin are comfortable and led to believe their issue is accepted by God. In love, there should be an atmosphere and culture that partners with them to lead them to the cross and freedom. We ought to preach the gospel and then bid people to follow Jesus, who calls/moves them to “come and die”. Jesus calls us to a cross and all sinners, gay or not, are required to climb upon it.

The problem isn’t gay marriage. The problem isn’t homosexuality, toleration, religiousness or hypocrisy. The problem is that we, as a nation, have rejected Jesus.

As Christians let us call everyone, including ourselves, back to Him.

New Music I Love: Desperation Band, Sovereign Grace Music & Paul Baloche

Every now and then, people ask me what new music (mainly worship music) am I listening to, loving, and recommending. So every once in a while I post some music I’m listening to here on the site. Enjoy.

Desperation Band: Center Of It All

Buy it here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/center-of-it-all/id513137095

In my opinion, this is the best cd that Desperation Band has put out. It is the first where they have written all songs around a theme. That theme? The centrality of Christ. You can find the theme in every song. The album is a little more sedated than their previous cds and has a more electronic feel than any of their other projects with exception of their Sessions & Remixes EP.

Sovereign Grace Music: Risen

Buy it here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/risen/id425675118

This ministry is great. They are dedicated to writing songs for the local church that are highly scriptural and deeply theological. This project revolves around the resurrection of Christ. While most only sing resurrection songs during Easter, this album gives the church great songs to sing about the resurrection all year long.

Paul Baloche: The Same Love

Buy it here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-same-love/id511157126

It is of my opinion that Paul Baloche has released three great albums: Open The Eyes of My Heart, A Greater Song, and this one. The Same Love focuses on the love of Christ, but through the cross instead of sappy emotionalism. Paul’s writing on the cd is pretty top-notch. The only sad thing about Paul is that my generation and the next will most likely miss out on his great songs because his style isn’t cutting-edge. He’s revamped his sound recently and is pretty great now, but still falls short of high-energy music like current Hillsong United stuff. But unless your an avid fan of hyper music, you’ll most likely love this cd.