Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
The statistics are against churchgoing young adults in America. These "twenty-somethings" who are seeking to build community with each other and the church at large are having a difficult time.
Churches are struggling to provide ministries that meet the felt and real needs of these men and women; as a result, many of them have built their own communities outside of the church. The church must make an effort to reclaim this generation with and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This means providing opportunities to build real community for believers in the church, believers who have left the church to seek their own community, and those who are unsaved and need Christ.
At Village Seven, Catalyst was launched to provide a place for twenty-somethings to gather and fellowship, study God's word, and build real community together. As the staff member who oversees this growing community, I have been impressed with the dedication and passion of this group. The first study had 18 attending, and the numbers have stayed consistent in the last two months. I am excited to see how God will continue to draw His people together. Please pray for this young community and feel free to encourage twenty-singles you may know that are unconnected to give Catalyst a try.
Catalyst is currently studying Philippians. My prayer for this group echoes the Apostle Paul's in 1:6: "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Without giving too much away, the series ends with Shinji acheiving self-actualization. The final two episodes of the series leave the action element of the show unresolved, while instead focusing on Shinji's consciousness. In a moment of triumph, he realizes that he is "loved," and his personal understanding of who he is sets him free.
Shinji's experience is nothing new. In fact, one needs only to flip through the channels, pop in a movie, read a few blogs, or read a book to see Shinji's struggle everywhere. People are hurting in a broken and painful world. You will also see the solution Shinji discovered all around you: Self-actualization. By realizing the full potential of you, accepting yourself and lacking prejudice, you can break-free of the problems plaguing you.
Regardless of your personal take on self-actualization (or defenition, as they vary), a Christian must look at culture's response to the hedgehog's dilemma and find it lacking. The ultimate answer is for man to save himself through himself. One blogger wrote "If you think (decide) you are unhappy, you’ll always be right. If you think (decide) you are happy, you’ll always be right." This is a hopeless task.
Ecclesiastes teaches this clearly. Man saving man is vanity, meaningless, chasing after the wind. Self-esteem is impossible to satisfy. Instead, Christians must find their joy and hope in Christ-esteem. Unless we are filled by the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, how can any of our problems truly be solved? Apart from the love and patience of a Father who will never abandon, a marriage that will never be broken, and a house that will always be filled with joy, how can man find satisfaction?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
While it can often take extreme cases like physical abuse for the dilemma to manifest itself in an obvious way, each of us have a tendency to avoid relationships because of the potential pain. If I invest in the lives of those around me, I will get hurt. This is the reality of the broken world in which we live. Even a spouse, best friend, or family member can cause us pain, whether it is intentional or not.
As Christians, we are called to pursue relationships whether they hurt or not. We are called to make disciples of all nations, to love our neighbor, and to serve the "least" of those among us. The hedgehog's dilemma can be very real and painful for some people, but it is no excuse for us. We recognize that God restores relationships and brings healing. We know the joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore we should boldly develop relationships with friends, family and even strangers, speaking the truth in love.
I realize this is easier said than done, but one of the first steps must be identifying our "dilemmas" and crushing them with the truth of God's word so He can enable us to truly love our neighbors.
What is your dilemma?
Monday, October 19, 2009
In 2004, the Lance Armstrong Foundation paired with Nike to produce the well-known “live strong” wristband. The band, symbolizing the fight against cancer, was instantly popular and inspired so many people there were bidding wars on EBay due to shortages. Even today, over four years later, these yellow wristbands are still found everywhere.
As I was thinking about these wristbands, I was struck by a strange thought. “What message are these wristbands sending?” Or, in other words, what worldview is represented by these two simple words? The answer is not difficult to find. The battle against cancer is, indeed, a fight. It is about clinging to life with every breath; instead of giving in, those struggling against impossible odds are to live life for all it’s worth before it is too late in hopes of attaining the greatest meaning possible.
In the meantime, money will be raised and research will be done to help prolong the lives of those with cancer. The goal is that one day cancer will be defeated and living strong will be even easier. As a result, human life will be extended and mankind will have conquered one more enemy.
While the battle against cancer is a worthy one and the idea of living strong is certainly not wrong, I have been wondering how the Christian worldview should fit with the idea of living strong. We are certainly called to run the race well, fight the good fight, and live passionate lives loving God and our neighbors while we are here on this earth. But there is something that should set us apart and give us a different perspective than others.
We have hope that cannot be understood apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While we are to live strong and use the opportunities God has given us, we are also to die well. We should be like the Apostle Paul, torn between living for Christ and yet yearning to be with Him (Phil 1:21-23). For us, death holds no sting (1 Cor. 15:55) but instead is our gain.
This is something most of us have been told over and over, but have never really stopped to meditate on. We have great promises from the one who cannot lie that this life, full of evil, sickness, sin and death, is not the end. Instead we look forward to eternity without pain, sorrow and suffering. This means that we should not only live strong but also be sure of what we believe.
Are we just playing make-believe or do we truly trust that God is good and true to His Word? Whether cancer is defeated or not, do you intend to die well, putting you hope in the one who saves? I do not know what this year will bring for each one of the students and faculty at CSCS, but I know that God is faithful and I pray each of you will rest in Him.(Thanks MacKenzie)