Tag: Reconciliation

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The day I stopped to listen (MLK Day)

The day I stopped to listen (MLK Day)

Martin Luther King Jr. day is one of those holidays that I always forget about. It seems to sneak up on me every year, and it passes by with little fanfare. This year as I sat at home with little to do, I decided to finally read Dr. King’s famous speech in its entirety. I was surprised to find how few of the battle lines have moved in the past 55 years. We still are dealing with issues of prejudice, bias, and hate today. Yet it seems like the weapons of our wars have changed drastically in the past few years. Today, I want to take a step back and look at how we fight. Are our actions leading us further into the society that Dr. King spoke of in his dream, or are we drifting out into the sea of injustice?

The day I met a feminist

A little less than a year ago, Jessica and I were out shopping at the Mall of America. Jessica decided to brave the crowds at the Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale to get some scents. We were separated by the crowds, and I began to wander the store looking for her. As I rounded a display table, I found myself in the path of a woman in her forties. She set her face in a scowl as she strode forcefully through the store. Her eyes flashed with anger, as if she were ready to challenge anyone there to a fight at a moment’s notice. I immediately dropped my gaze and stepped to the side (as did everyone else in her path). As she passed by, I noticed a button on her lapel. It read “This is what a feminist looks like.”

In the days following that split-second encounter, I looked back and wondered if the woman’s statement was really true. Is there a way that we can fight for freedom and equality without becoming wearied veterans? Is there a way to preserve my neighbor’s countenance even if we find ourselves on the opposite sides of a debate? Two months after my encounter, “Pride Day” rolled around. My Facebook feed filled up with angry, hateful, and ignorant comments from both sides of a modern debate. As I scrolled through the mutual hate and ignorance, I discovered the root of the problem.

Are we fighting for equality or superiority?

In every debate since history began, the world has been divided into “us” and “them.” But this attitude will never bring us into true equality. As soon as I divide the world into two groups, I lose the ability to set “them” on the same level as “us.” If the issue is about one of two groups gaining power, then I cannot honestly desire to see “us” enter the minority. Many of the debates I see today begin by drawing the battle lines and dividing us into factions. But “us” and “them” debates  will never bring change, save by violence or intimidation. If I want to see the chasms in our nation healed, it is up to me to stop placing “them” in a category and start treating everyone like my neighbor. (see Luke 10:25–29)

2000 years ago, God willingly gave up His power and majesty when He came to this world for our sake. He was the only person in human history to truly deserve a position at the top of Earth’s society. Jesus didn’t take what was rightfully His. Instead, He “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) When Jesus gave Himself for us, He started a new movement: those in power willingly laying aside their positions for the betterment of their fellow man. If I can live like Christ through His power, I can begin to break down the barriers that exist in my life.

What this holiday has to teach me

As I read a little bit today about Dr. King and his efforts to bring equality to our nation, I learned a little bit about the opportunities I have to make a difference. In his speech, Dr. King called out the white people who joined the march for equality in his day: “many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.”Jesus commissioned every one of us to stand with the poor and oppressed. This means that I have a responsibility to listen and to care.

The answers aren’t always easy. But healing begins when we are willing to stop and understand each other. I cannot find my worth in my worldly position, but from my place in God’s hand. Armed with this knowledge, I can honestly rejoice when my neighbor is exalted, even when they reach a position far above my own head. “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Today, I want to begin placing the needs of others before my own. Justice starts when I lay down my rights and fight for the rights of my neighbor as if they were my own.

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A Bridge Between Two Worlds

A Bridge Between Two Worlds

What would you do if human history still has a thousand years left? How would you live if you believed that the next Great American Revival is right around the corner?

A Bridge Between Two Worlds

Before I dive in, I want to share my heart for this post. I believe that this website is a small part of the call that God has placed on my life, and I would love to see the impact of this endeavor multiplied a thousandfold. But this post specifically isn’t meant for the world. This one is just for those of you whom I call friend. I believe that we can do great things together, and I don’t want any of us to miss the plans God has for us.

Estimates vary, but the sources I found all say that less than 10% of millennials are dedicated Christians, with some sources estimating as low as 4%. Regardless of where the line is drawn, all sources agree that we are the least Christian generation in the history of America. By the grace of God, I have managed to find myself in circles where the statistic is reversed. It is easy to take Christian subculture for granted when it is all you know. But, as we all know by now, the fellowship we have shared over the years is not the norm for America. People are lost and hurting everywhere we look.

Our Unique Calling

I mentioned in my first post that I have more to offer than many of the people alive today. The truth is, all of us do. If you are both a Christian and a young adult today, then you are very unique. Together, we make a bridge between the lost and the found.

I hope that this doesn’t sound like an exaggeration. The generation before us lived largely with a supplemental faith. As with every generation, there were a few who were deeply dedicated, but many went to church out of mere habit. As our generation grew up, we suffered through divorce, abuse, and neglect. Most of us associate the pain we carry with the church and its often hypocritical members.

So, what about us specifically? My friends from Horn Creek, JBU, and Friendship church, we are the future of the church. Moreover, I believe that we hold the answers to the questions our generation is asking. You and I understand both the pain of our generation and the hope of Christ.

We are blessed beyond comprehension to be here. I can count no less than 5 influential father figures in my life, including my biological father, who (in opposition to the statistics) is still happily married to my mother. Many of you have more pain in your past than I. I am learning about the deep damage that divorce can cause through my wife’s story. There will be more heartbreak in our future. But I can’t imagine facing this knowledge without the hope of Christ to guide me. There are millions of people out there who do not have this hope.

A Revival Story

I love the story of Israel’s kings. Have you read it? If not, grab a Bible and read 2 Kings on a rainy afternoon. It is truly amazing. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin, led by David’s line, did some pretty terrible things. Even so, they were turned back to God no less than five different times. One time, a priest found a dusty scroll containing God’s commandments in the temple storage room when they were cleaning it out. He gave it to the kid who just so happened to have inherited the throne at the time, and after reading it, this kid decided to renew the covenant they once had with God.

This kid king’s name was Josiah. Did I mention that he was eight years old when this happened? Look it up. An eight-year old and a dusty book was all it took to turn a generation around. They were God’s people once again. This lasted for 31 years, long enough to redeem a large part of a generation. After that, a new generation had to make their own decisions.

Hell In a Handbasket

Do you remember when your grandma used to tell you that this world is going to hell in a handbasket? I certainly do. Growing up, I was told that my generation will be the last. That the world is gearing up for the apocalypse. I got married as early as I could because I wanted to experience marriage before Jesus came back to take us all home. It’s not like there could be another eight-year old or a dusty Bible lying around today.

If you were raised like me, then I ask you, please try to think differently. What would you do if human history still has a thousand years left? I don’t mean to ignore all the prophesies that have been fulfilled in the past 200 years. I do believe that we are near the end, but I know that time looks very different to God than it does to us. Jesus’s disciples thought that he was going to return the same day that He left. I don’t doubt that we still have enough time left to turn this world around once more. Every generation that returned to God pushed Israel’s destruction back by 100+ years! How would you live if you believed that the next Great American Revival is right around the corner? Live like that and it just might truly happen.

The Challenge

It is true that our world is merely following the pattern set by history. Even so, many generations throughout history have been turned back to God through the work of a faithful few. Today, you and I are the few who understand both the mindset and needs of our generation and the hope of the Gospel. If we do not do this work, it is possible that no one will and an entire generation will be lost.

The solution is very clear. I have seen your love. We don’t just attend church, we live full lives in Christ. Our peers have turned away from a church that sells Jesus by removing truth to make Him more attractive. It doesn’t mean that they are beyond the reach of the true Gospel. We need to be sharing the whole truth every chance we get.

We can’t sell it, though. Our generation can see through that. Jesus told us “freely you have received, now freely give.” Again, “We love because He first loved us.” We have to genuinely care for the people we live with. We believe in a God who created us simply because He is good. He loves us because He is love and He gave us the free will to love Him in return. Moreover, when we alienated ourselves from Him, He came down to our world and gave us a second chance simply because He is love. In the end, we have the choice to live fully with Him or fully without Him, and either way, He will honor our request. This is the story we live, and it is deeper, richer, and more amazing than any “easy to swallow” gospel you have heard.

The Proposition

What does this practically look like? I believe it starts with prayer, genuine concern and intermission for the well-being of our peers. After that, we listen to God’s calling. Just don’t settle for less. There are enough consumers out there already. This world is in need of a generation that gets up off the sidelines and loves radically. If we are different, then we will be noticed.

Second, I believe that we need to be actively reaching out to the Church. The generations above us have a great deal to teach us, as well as to learn from us. They may seem cold and distant, but it is only because they are confused by us, just as we are by them. We need their wisdom, and they need our zeal. It’s how the church was designed, and it is the only way we can succeed.

My Part

Right now, my mission is this website. Please consider sharing my posts and praying over this project. I will be launching a Worldview series very soon in an attempt to get the full Gospel into the hands of millennials who have never heard it put this way before. Jessica and I are also working with our church and are looking for opportunities to bridge the generational divides we see. We are considering meeting with the church leadership in order to create channels for high school students to get involved in children’s ministry.

If God calls us to sell everything tomorrow and go somewhere new, I will follow. In the meantime, we will take every opportunity we have to change the world around us here in Shakopee. I hope that I have inspired some of you to do the same. Many of you have already sacrificed much for the Gospel. Thank you for your service. I pray that your zeal and boldness will grow stronger each day. If “everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life (Mt. 19:29),” then there is nothing to fear in this grand call.