Tag Archives: religion

No Pressure

Blog---No-Pressure

In many Christian circles highly pressured calls to salvation are the norm. Sometimes they are done in the midst of a church service as an altar call. Other times they are public evangelism efforts. Even others, people push to get every person they share the gospel with to pray a prayer of salvation.

In many of these instances I have personally witnessed people being encouraged, excited, enticed, and even coaxed to respond to the call being given. Too often, the purpose of these things is to feed the ego of the person giving the call or wooing the crowd get people to make a public proclamation of what they just heard before they leave the presence of the one giving the call. Now before I ruffle every feather of every person reading this, let me clarify a few things:

  • I believe that when done in proper biblical context, public calls to salvation are very necessary for sharing the gospel
  • I believe men like Greg Laurie are gifted to share these kinds of messages and encourage heartfelt responses to the gospel
  • I believe there are many other men and women with similar gifts that do so with great awareness of their actions and opportunities

So why did I start with negatives if I believe in the three statements above? Because way too often we think we are the final word in unbelievers coming into a personal relationship with Christ. We put so much emphasis on our responsibility to share the gospel and on the need to bring all to salvation that we miss the greater point. Here is a wonderful example from scripture where I think you will see where I am going:

Early in John chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. As they are in conversation, Jesus makes it pretty clear that He is the Messiah (“I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26). Now let me say this. I do not think that Jesus was weak in His evangelism. He was solid and knew how to tug on all the right strings when necessary. So here Jesus is, the super-evangelist, and the women gets away without praying her prayer. Yup, in John 4:28 it says that she left her water jar and ran into town to tell a whole bunch of people what happened. But there is no evidence to show that she actually came to salvation. As a matter of fact, I think there is more evidence to the contrary. In verse 29 of the same chapter she is quoted as saying “Can this be the Christ?”. So she didn’t personally believe. Jesus had a chance with this woman right in front of her to get her to proclaim Him as Lord and He let her go (because He is perfect and knows perfectly what to do). Additionally, after the woman runs into town to tell all the people what she had heard, John records this from someone in the crowd:

“It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

They no longer needed some person (the woman in this case) sharing their information, because God Himself allowed them to personally know who Jesus was.

So why then do we push so hard to get people to the “decision”? Is it for ego’s sake? Is it because we believe this is what we are called to do? Or is it something else? I think we need to examine our hearts and determine why it is we believe what we believe about the way in which people come to salvation. For me, I hold to the firm belief that God does ALL THE WORK before we ever share with that person as well as during the time we are sharing and after we are done. Now this definitely doesn’t mean I should just sit and do nothing. It means that:

  • I can freely share without the worry of “doing it right”
  • I can continue loving that person and believing God can save them even if they reject me
  • I do not have to get creative in order to share the gospel (ok, sometimes getting creative is fun)
  • I do not have to stretch or distort God’s word in order to lead unbelievers to Christ (yup, people do it)
  • I get to be blown away by the fact that God would use me to assist Him in doing a work that He can do all Himself

So go and share the amazing news of the gospel. Share it freely and trust that God has prepared you (and that person) for whatever may come as a result.

There is no pressure in that!

 

 


God-Centered

The following is a post I wrote for For His Glory Community Church a few months back. It’s something I have been focusing on a lot lately (living a God-centered life) so I wanted to reshare it here.

God-Centered

LIVE GOD-CENTERED!

It sounds so simple……..until you begin to unpack the complexity and enormity of what that really means. Let’s look at a few key areas which I believe we must first submit to before we can begin to outwardly live God-centered.

Make Jesus Lord of your life (Luke 9:23-27)

This isn’t about making a decision to accept Christ. Effectively, anyone can claim to “accept Christ” or even “follow Christ” (John 6:64-66). The decision to allow Christ to rule and reign in our lives and to submit to everything He is calling us to is much greater. During His public ministry, Jesus told people to give up everything they had and even hate their family. Why would He do that? I believe this is Jesus’ illustration to say that we must be willing to risk and even give up all we have to follow Him and truly make Him Lord.

Love the greatest commandment (John 13:34)

If we cannot do what Jesus has commanded us to do, how can we make Him the center of our life? Love is such a challenge. The world gives us many definitions (most of them false) of love. In Christianity, the catchy phrase says something like “love is a verb”. I agree that it is an action. But the root of that action is where true love comes from.

Why should we love Jesus? To seek blessing? Or maybe because we’ve just always loved Him? To me (and I hope you), loving Jesus is rooted in the recognition of the gift of grace He has given us through His perfect life on Earth, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead. He died for each of us personally so we could live a life free of condemnation. I LOVE JESUS because He loved me first and has given me the ability to truly love.

Why should we love people? Because Jesus tells us to? Or is it because we feel bad for them? Maybe both in some small way, but greater should be the desire to love like Jesus loves because we love Jesus. Our love is Jesus’ love and our loving of His people is Him loving His people through us.

Live out the great commission (Matt 28:19-20)

God sent Jesus to us and Jesus sends us to the world (John 20:21). We are an ambassador of Jesus. As this ambassador, we are given the key to the kingdom and Jesus is asking us to make copies and hand them out. While we trust in the sovereign will of God who is able to reveal Himself to anyone and everyone, we must see the world as never getting the keys unless we give them to them. God does not put His work on us, He blesses us with the opportunity to share in it.

God-centered

If we make Jesus Lord of our life, love Jesus and His people, and live out the great commission I believe that we will live God-centered. This will flow out into our families, work places, churches, communities, and more. As Christians, living God-centered isn’t a way of life, it is our life.


Live God-Centered

I recently contributed a blog post to the For His Glory Community Church website. If you have ever asked yourself what it looks like to live God-centered, I suggest you follow this link.

FHG-Logo-Final


We’re All Good

I think it is easy to assume that the guy that never speaks up, the family that always walks into church with a smile, and the college student who has tons of friends are ALL GOOD.

“We don’t have to worry about that person, he/she is a strong Christian.”

Have you said it before? Or are people saying it about you? You know what happens when we ass-u-me right?

I live a pretty transparent life. I use Facebook, Twitter and even this blog as a sounding board from time to time (ok, most of the time). But I still have people come up to me and wonder what I am doing to keep so happy and so strong. They want to know why my life is so good. REALLY? I usually tell them to just scroll through a few more of my posts, or sit with me for some time so I can share what life is really like. It’s tough and frankly sometimes it sucks! It is only because of Jesus that I can hold it together. Without the Rock as my foundation, I would be swept away (read Matthew 7:24-27).

The real danger in the assumption (not just being a donkey) is this:

What if I was in a massive state of depression? Nobody would know a thing until I was spiraling out of control, or worse yet dead.

What if I was caught up in sexual sin? Before you found out, I had already managed to ruin my marriage and my family.

WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ASK? WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE THE TIME TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?

Maybe it is because we are fearful of being inconvenienced. Or maybe we are afraid to know the truth about people we love. Or maybe, and this a BIG maybe, we may not actually have everything figured out.

The questions start simply. How are you? What has been going on in your life? What can I pray for in your life? How is your job? Your marriage? Your relationship with God? Are you struggling with anything?

I am sure by now you see it, and you either think I’m an idiot for bringing this elementary stuff up or you feel convicted to pick up the phone and send a text to someone in your life right now.

So practically I encourage you to do a few things:

  1. Think about all the people in your life that you care about (family, friends, business colleagues, church members). Maybe even list them out.
  2. Think about the last time you asked that person the hard questions.
  3. Pick one or two of those people.
  4. Don’t assume a single thing.
  5. Ask the hard questions.


Tell It

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

Could you imagine if all you ever heard was Jesus?

There are over 250 million proclaimed Christians in the United States. I’m not going to debate that number (even though I could) but use it to show something quite shocking. Stats on the web show that in order for a topic to trend on Twitter, it needs approximately 30 tweets every 5 seconds. If approximately 500,000 people tweeted once per day something about Jesus, He would never leave number one. Jesus would be the most talked about (trending) topic on Twitter every single day. And that’s only 500,000. Could you imagine if 1 million people tweeted something about Jesus. What if 100 million people tweeted Jesus? Instead of Jesus, we get trending topics like #20ThingsIDontLike or #TheEndofTheWorld #122112. Those are recent topics that have trended on Twitter. Other days, it’s the name of the latest celebrity that got pregnant, the most recent famous couple to get a divorce, or both. For a while it was all politics. Food probably lands there from time to time. It is just ridiculous to think that anything other than Jesus would be number one.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, your Savior if you call yourself a Christian. Through none other will you receive the eternal security that you so dearly hold on to.

So how about personally? What do you like to talk about? What trends in your life? As Christians, we are called to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are we glorifying God when we spend so much time talking about the things that we do? I know I’m not.

Tell It - Wordle

Now let me take a breath for a second so I can say that we don’t need to run around saying Jesus with every breath (though that would be cool). God isn’t asking us to only wear clothes from Christian companies, read books by Christian authors, and watch corny Christian movies (ok, that’s a joke). But really, we just need to think about the things we do and what topics are at the top of our life.

So what do I do to make sure Jesus trends in my life?

I try to wake up every morning before my family gets up so I can pray for 10-15 minutes and then I read my Bible. Sometimes it is a specific devotional (like the Live Second book) while other times I just get into a chapter of the Bible and read a few verses.

I use social media as a tool to share about my faith in and life with Jesus. Not every post has Jesus in it, but I want to be transparent in communicating how I live my life so people see the real me and that Jesus is real in my life.

Professionally, I own my own business so I have a little more liberty than some may to share their faith. All my colleagues and business partners know I am a Christian because I tell them so. I’m the guy that doesn’t drink at business functions and doesn’t cuss with the other guys (and some girls) at networking events, not because I’m a holy roller but because I want to set myself apart from the world when it comes to those things. I have a platform to speak to others and do so with the utmost honesty and integrity so God willing, people see Jesus in me.

The Christian life is not easy. Glorifying God in all you do isn’t automatic. It takes full dependency on the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to let Jesus trend on Facebook, Twitter, at the dinner table, in the grocery store line, while on the job or at school. He is definitely worth the placement!

Thank you for joining me as I shared my story. Now it’s time to share yours.

 


After

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

The day after…

“But it is a simple story of what we have seen and heard that people want to hear most.” Live Second, page 78

I really wish I would have read that simple part on August 14, 2006 (the day after I got saved). Instead, I took matters into my own hands and began slashing everything that wasn’t “good” for me. You have to know me a bit to know how true this statement is but to explain it best, when I do something I do it with radical abandonment. Remember my gambling problem in my “Before” story? Yup, go big or go home. So I took that same tact when I became a Christian. No drinking, no friends that were bad influences, no this, and no that. I didn’t want to associate at all with the past. The problem was that I was still at the controls. I could only last so long steering that ship in the storm until I lost control again. I didn’t really have anyone discipling me and was left to what I thought I knew about being a Christian and what I was hearing in church week in and week out. Another part of the problem was that I was in church some Sundays hung over from the night before so I couldn’t hear half of what was being said. I was still blind, leading my own blind self!

That changed shortly before the following August when my wife and I decided to get baptized. God began working in my heart to show me that He needed to lead and I was just to follow. It was a tough concept but one that made a whole lot of sense. If I couldn’t do it before, I couldn’t do it now. I mean that’s why I accepted Christ in the first place.

We enrolled in a new believer’s class at our church and began to learn the foundational aspects of Christianity. I started to see how I could apply what I was learning to my life by letting God lead. We enrolled in another class a few months later to get deeper in the word and prayer. I started memorizing scripture. My radical behavior started being used to pursue Jesus. I was soaking things up like a sponge.

Fast forward to August of 2011 where while sitting in Haiti on an 8 day missions trip, I was presented with an opportunity to pray about planting a church with a pastor I had grown to love (the same pastor that was guest speaking the first day I went to church and got saved).

Fast forward to August of 2012 where  I entered a Biblical theology and pastoral training program with Mars Hill Church in Seattle as I began seeking to answer the calling I believe God has on my life. Just two weeks later my family would embark on a journey to help plant For His Glory Community Church in Claremont, California (www.forhisglorycc.org) where I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as executive pastor alongside two of the most Godly and amazing men I have ever met.

FHG-Logo-Final

What have I learned (and am still learning) along the way?

  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8)
  • When God wants us, He will grab onto us and not let go (Daniel 4:35)
  • We must allow Jesus to be Lord over our whole life (Romans 10:9)
  • No matter where we are in life, God’s plans are greater and He will blow our minds (Isaiah 55:8)
  • Jesus loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8) YUP, I SAID THAT ONE TWICE

Join me tomorrow for “Tell It”, the next chapter in my story.


The Moment

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

“Those of us who follow Jesus have all had a moment of realization.” Live Second, page 77

In a moment my eternity changed!

It would be cool to say I had an apostle Paul moment (“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me.” Acts 22:6 ESV). I mean seriously! Well I can’t say that happened to me. Actually, there really wasn’t anything tangible about my experience that day. But to give you the best perspective, I have to back up a few days.

The week leading up, I was in Chicago on a business trip (I’m from So Cal). On the last night a big group of us went out and partied pretty hard. We got back to the hotel, went straight to the bar and proceeded to continue the festivities. I was hanging with the guys and flirting with the girls while overindulging in cocktails until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully I made it to my room solo and crashed for the night. But I woke up to a different sense than I had ever felt. It was as if I knew I needed to change something. A little bit of what my friend Dean had shared with me over the years started clicking. On the plane ride back home, I started asking questions of one of the guys I was on the trip with who was a Christian and lived it well. He was a great husband and father. I asked him what the whole church thing was about and what it meant to be a Christian. You see, I grew up going to Catholic church and made most of the sacraments but I never got it. It wasn’t ever real to me. Darren had a great way of politely sharing things and this conversation was no different. He didn’t lay down the law and tell me give up my junk, he just shared a few basic thoughts and told me to find a Christian church close by my house so I could hear for myself.

The night I got home I shared with my wife that I felt like it was time to check out the whole “church thing”. She agreed and we figured we would go that Sunday. My friend Dean had been telling all about how great his church was and it was close by our house. He shared about how good the pastor was and how laid back the church was. But when I told him we were going that Sunday, he said he had other plans. That could have easily derailed the process as my wife and I were going to have to go on our own but we figured we might as well give it a go anyway.

That Sunday morning we walked into Calvary Chapel East Anaheim and were excited to see what Christianity and the hyped-up pastor were all about only to find out the pastor was out of town. Now for anyone that has invited a friend to church, you never want the pastor to be gone when the new people show up. I mean the guest pastors are never as good, right? Wrong! The Bible says in Isaiah 58 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” God knew exactly what He was doing that morning. The assistant pastor spoke and nobody else had to be in that church that morning. His message was clearly from the Holy Spirit, through the pastor, to me. I heard in a gracious and loving way how everything I was doing was so backwards but in Christ, it could all be redeemed. I heard that it wasn’t too late for our broken marriage. I heard that by accepting God as my Father, I could become the image of Him to my daughter.

There was no altar call.

There was no call to pray a prayer.

But God was calling me to Himself. I could feel it and I had to respond.

In a quiet moment inside my heart on August 13, 2006 I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Join me tomorrow for “After”, the next chapter in my story.


Before

A few months back, I was blessed to be selected to contribute 4 blogs to 60-Days-of-Second: Please join me on my journey through 4 readings from the new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First. Get the “Live Second” book in stores NOW.

“We all have a ‘before’ story. For some of us, that story was before we met Jesus. For others, it was before we took our faith seriously. For others still, that story is the up-and-down journey of a long walk with God. But we all have a ‘before’ story.” Live Second, page 76

Before that Sunday morning in August of 2006, who was I?

Well my mom always said that when I was little I was a “good boy”. I don’t remember getting in a whole lot of trouble other than an occasional reprimand from my grade school teachers for talking too much in class. Oh ya, and I argued with my little brother but anyone that has siblings knows that fighting between them is pretty normal. When I got to junior high, it was much of the same.

High school so a lot of things change. I was still a pretty good kid, but I found myself hanging around a lot of the wrong people and honestly, I became one of them. I did a lot of stupid and shameful things. Things like drinking, experimenting with drugs, getting into lots of fights, messing around with girls and stealing. As I look back on high school, especially my junior and senior years, I thank God that He had His hand on me then though I did not accept Him. There were many instances where I could have died but didn’t. Two of my close friends sit in jail 17 years later for a crime I was almost a part of one summer night. Now I wasn’t all bad. I respected my mom (most of the time), didn’t hit or intentionally hurt women and would do an occasional good deed. But that in no way made up for the hurt I caused others.

I should have learned my lesson after high school but I didn’t. Instead the messes I played in simply changed. I did a lot of partying from 18-28. I was married at 22 to the love of my life and together we had our first child the following year. My little baby girl was such a blessing but I didn’t take the time to appreciate her as much as I should have. Instead of enjoying my wife I chose to complain about every little thing she did. She spent too much, complained too much, didn’t do this, and didn’t do that. I was so busy pointing all my fingers at her that I had none left to point in the mirror. And even if I had a free finger, I wouldn’t have pointed it there anyway. There were times when I flirted with and garnered the attention of other girls. I visited strip clubs, sometimes with my wife and sometimes without which only fueled the fire more. When it came to money, I was making way too much of it and spending even more. Cars, clothes and casinos were at the top of my interest list where my wife and child should have been.

IMAG0774_1

There must have been someone in my life pointing back in the right direction, RIGHT? Well not really. You see, from the outside looking in I had it all together. Before that day in August of 2006, I wore a great game face. My friends and family saw a 28 year old man with a beautiful wife, a healthy young girl, a successful and lucrative career, a nice house, multiple cars and everything else necessary to live the “American dream”. My friend Dean tried many times to tell me I needed to go to church and drop all my bad habits but I definitely wasn’t listening. I thought to myself, “What could God give me that I didn’t already have?” and “I don’t want to quit having all the fun I am”.

But the week leading up to that day revealed the true weight that was on my shoulders. It was unbearable and I had nowhere to turn. I was destroying my marriage and at risk of becoming a weekend father. I was at risk of losing the two most important people in my life. It was then that I began to realize there had to be something more. There had to be someone who could remove the weight and show me the true sense of joy I sought everywhere but never found.

Join me tomorrow for “The Moment”, the next chapter in my story.

 


The Clans of the Proud (from a friend)

Simple words, yet eternally profound.

I have actually never done this before. But because the topic is so important, the result so hurtful, and the friend so dear, I decided to post her blog word for word. I encourage you to take this blog and share it with every Christian you know. Please post the link to your social media feeds and forward the email if you directly subscribe to my blog.

 

The Clans of the Proud by Julee Huy

We speak of unity,
And loving one another.
Do we love outside our community,
The one God calls our brother?

I’m not talking about a one world religion.
I’m talking about division,
And pride,
And separating into sides.

The air fills with the sound,
Of drums beating loud.
To tribes we are bound,
The clans of the proud.

In love, His blood was shed.
In humility He came and died.
By His grace we have been led.
In greed, we mock Him with our pride.

There is sweet unity in our cause.
Strength and wisdom yet to glean.
For one Savior we seek applause.
On one God we all do lean.

We speak of unity,
And loving one another.
Do we love outside our community,
The one God calls our brother?

The actual post and more from Julee’s heart can be found at the link below.

The Clans of the Proud


Impossible Earnings

After church this afternoon, we headed over to the quad at the Claremont Colleges to engage the community. While walking around we noticed a guy on his knees, burying his face in the grass every minute or so but we figured he was praying so we kept kept walking as not to interrupt what he was doing. After talking to a few other people, we made our way back over towards he and his family.

The man was extremely polite, eager to share with us about his upbringing, his profession, and his faith. There was no heated discussion, no debate over view points, not even push-back from me when he blatantly discounted my Jesus as a mere man. He went on to talk more about the dedication he has to his faith.

He memorizes his entire religious book. He prays at least five times a day, saying exactly what he is told to and in the same direction he is always supposed to point (yes, direction). He gives of his time and money to those that need it more. He respects others. He worships his god. Then I asked him.

“What happens after you die?” 

“Hopefully I have done enough to earn a good standing with God” he says.

Done enough? Good standing?

How about no chance!

I responded “The Bible says that none is righteous, not one. We all sin and fall short.”

“I serve a merciful and just God” he says.

No matter how hard we try, not matter how much we do (or don’t do), we will never earn one sliver of good standing with God. The same God that has mercy on all must also be just with all. Justice means we all pay for our sins. Thankfully mercy came in the way of Jesus.

Without spinning circles with this man, I shared one sentence.

“Through Jesus, you can be sure of your standing with God”

With that, I thanked him for his time, greeted his wife and kids and went on my way. You see, there was nothing I could say in that moment to get him to feel what I feel.

ONLY GOD SAVES

What breaks my heart is he will go about his life doing everything he can to earn the impossible.

I only pray God changes what my conversation never could.