In the Face of Disaster

If you have been paying attention to your surroundings for any amount of time you know that disaster is inevitable. The type of disaster varies, it could be a natural disaster, a family disaster, a societal disaster, or a financial disaster. We can try to control these situations and sometimes temporarily control them but for the most part, they are out of our control. So what do we do when we are in the face of disaster? If it’s inevitable, what’s the point of moving forward?

Undeniable Truth

The truth is disaster hurts. If anyone were to tell you different they would be lying. When disaster strikes it can sometimes leave us close to paralyzed. We initially feel as though there is no hope. It may take days, months, or even years after the disaster to heal. The suffering that comes with disaster seems to be impossible to escape. This leaves us searching for relief in all of the wrong places. We begin to seek acceptance, we want to numb the pain, we want to drown out the silence. By the time the disaster is over, we are someone we ourselves don’t even recognize. Becuase of this disaster, there is now a trail of tears, broken hearts, and a sharp feeling of loneliness. Is there an end to this unbearable struggle?

The Reality

The reality is there is hope for restoration. Disaster and suffering are inevitable but that is not the end of the story. The Bible talks about suffering numerous times. It points out that there is suffering but because of Jesus, that circumstance doesn’t have the final say. Jesus does.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Although we may encounter suffering we know that there will be a time when God restores all of creation. There will be a time when there is no more suffering and things will be the way, God intended. This is a hope that we have when we are in Christ. This helps us see that although there is suffering here, it doesn’t have the final word on our life. Although we will encounter disaster we no longer have to walk through that storm alone. We have God with us, sustaining us by His grace and love.

Share the Love

If we have this hope, what do we do with it?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Because of what we have experienced in our times of trouble, we are able to share that hope with others. When someone is staring into the face of disaster, we can come alongside side them and show them the love that God has shown us. Through this, they are given that same opportunity to experience the hope and love that only Jesus give.

His grace is louder than the circumstance. Knowing this truth we should come alongside those in need and be the light of the world. The disasters we face are infinitely smaller than God’s restoring power.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Ryan Wilson

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Transitions

There are countless transitions that happen throughout our lives. Often times they’re small, but sometimes they’re big and extraordinarily important. Let’s say you move to another city far away from home, that’s a big transition. If you leave the job you started your career at, that’s a big transition!

Transitions can have a positive or negative impact on our lives depending on how we adapt to the transition. Sometimes transitions happen when we least expect it. If a family member passes away it will be a transition getting used to life without them. If you a lose your job it is a transition to find a new job and a new flow of life. What we do with these situations that we’re handed matters. It can be the difference between flourishing through the transition or limping through to the next season of life.

Surprise Transition

Surprise transition is when we are given a situation we did not necessarily ask for and it often happens very quickly. Often times we have a hard time readjusting because we didn’t see this coming. In surprise transition it is imperative that we step back, take a deep breath, and lean on Christ. When we begin to believe the lie that we are all alone or that there is no hope, we have lost. Without that alone time with God, without a deep relationship with Him, without trust in God, we will slowly but surely be burnt out by our situation. That’s why it is so important to lean on Jesus in all facets of life. When we cast our burdens and anxieties on Him and trust Him with our lives, He gives us the strength to finish the race He’s called us to. We may not be able to control what situation we are handed but we can control what our reaction will be.

Planned Transition

Planned transition is a transition that is planned and is something that you have time to prepare for. This one can easily bring anxiety when what you have planned doesn’t go as well as you thought. Planned transition can be just as stressful as surprise transition. Again it comes down to what we do with what we’re given. Something I’ve learned is that you need to leave white space when you plan because God might have something planned that you weren’t expecting.

The benefit of a planned transition is we see it coming before it happens, but we must steward the knowledge of transition in a healthy way. When we see a transition coming, a way we can draw near to God is by fasting and praying. When we do some form of fasting and we spend time in prayer, we align ourselves with God and we grow closer to Him so that we may know Him and His will. Prayer is powerful, it is the first thing we should be doing before we do any sort of planning.

Common Ground

Although these two transitions come to be in different ways, they are still similar. They are still transitions into a new season of life. Our lives are full of seasons, good and bad. What we need to do in every transition is cling to Christ and our identity in who He is. When we are rooted in Him, nothing can shake us. Transitions are inevitable, how will you respond?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Todd Diemer

Hymnal to Hillsong

Recently I had an opportunity to preach at a small church in Southeast Ohio. It was amazing! I was able to meet new people, experience a different setting, and see a different way to do church.

Prior to me preaching there, I knew that they did church somewhat differently. This church was more of a traditional church with hymns, responsive readings, and doxology. The church I currently serve at plays songs by Elevation, Hillsong, Bethel, etc.

The town that the church was in was a town of about 1,700 which is much smaller than I’m used to. Altogether this was very much culture shock but pleasingly eye opening. Since I knew that the worship at this church was going to be different, I began to ask questions to the people around me as to whether hymns were better for a Sunday gathering or if contemporary music was a better fit? As you can guess I received a wide variety of answers. Some people believed that Hymns were the only way to do worship and others thought that contemporary was the standard and to them, hymns didn’t reach that standard. Another person thought that we should do both as to not upset anyone and serve both the long time attendee and the younger generation. This sounded like the best answer yet until a close friend who was raised in both cultures made a profound point.

He pointed out that both were worship to God, one was not above the other. Then he continued and pointed out that our call is to make disciples of all nations, that we need to reach our community and those around us. As a worship leader, he wants to bring everyone into an encounter with God whether that is the lifelong Christian or someone who has never experienced Christ before. He wants to bring people to a deeper level of relationship with God and to a deeper level of worship. Hymns are great for those who grew up singing them but the question is, is it great for someone who is stepping into a church for the first time? Hymns are just as worshipful to God as contemporary worship is and vice versa. The wrong question is, whether or not one is more worshipful to God than the other. The right question is, which style of worship will bring a first-time guest to an encounter with God?Let’s not let our preferences get in the way of what God wants to do in someone’s life.

When we go on long term missions we try to learn the country’s language, we dress like them, and we play/listen to the same music as them. We do everything to bridge the gap between us and them. Why in our local context would we not do the same? Why would we make others bridge the gap to us?

In every part of our life, we should be bridging the gap to the lost. To make them build the bridge is contrary to the Gospel.

Let’s start building bridges.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Michelle Jimenez

What I Learned From the Streets

Recently, I had an experience that has stuck with me. I’ve done it many times before and I’m noticing a pattern, a common response. What I’m talking about is street evangelism, going to a certain area (i.e. A downtown) and just talking to people. I’m sure that many of you have had very interesting, unsettling experiences with people who do this but it doesn’t have to be that way. The street evangelism that I’m talking about is different from the way a Jehovah’s Witness or a Morman would do it. What I’m talking about is just purely going and talking to people, casual conversation, not carrying a tract or an agenda, but just going out and showing people the love of Christ.

Relationship

The first thing that I learned is that people desire relationship. We have so many things in our world pulling for our attention, making us think they care when in reality they have their own selfish agenda. When you go and have a conversation with someone on the street or at a public event and you don’t have an agenda, they sense that and appreciate it. Our God is relational and we need to show that for others. We’re not here to push an agenda, we’re here to show them that the creator of the universe loves them and that they matter.

Don’t get me wrong, this can get scary, especially when we ourselves struggle to create relationships. We have to push through and remember that they desire relationship just as much or more than we do. People can make the statement that God can use someone else to carry that out but the thing is, He chose you!

Hope

The second thing that I learned is that people have a deep desperation for hope. They want to know that there is a purpose for them being alive, and regardless of their situation, they can overcome. Without Jesus, all hope is only temporary and will at some point fade away. What we want to do is bring hope and healing to a broken world. Through the casual conversations, I was able to bring a hope to people by sharing my story and how Jesus transformed my life.

Love

The third thing that I learned is that people desire to be loved. We were designed to be in relationship with God and to feel His love. If someone doesn’t know Jesus how are they supposed to know how to receive that love? By simply taking time out of your day to talk to someone, shows them that you care and they see the love behind what you’re doing.

People have searched far and wide for love and haven’t found the true love that comes from the Father. We have that inside of us because of the Holy Spirit in us and we weren’t given this love to hold it in but instead give it to others.

Conclusion

Through all of the times I’ve been intentional about talking to people, I’ve seen that they are desperate for the love of Jesus. People were created to be in relationship with God and you can see that in people. When they don’t have that relationship you can see how they are in desperate need of it. Through Jesus, we find relationship, hope, and love that fulfills us.

Go out and share your story, when you share your story it shows what God can do in someone’s life. Even if you feel like you don’t have a compelling life story, your story matters and is important. Your story is so important that you need to share it with others! When someone sees what God can do in your life they will believe that God can do it for them.

 

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15

 

 

 

 

Please, Assume I’m Lying

Assume that everything I say is a lie. That’s what I want you to do whenever you read a blog post from Kingdom Thinking. What I want you to do is go check what I’m saying for yourself. Whatever I have to say about God, life or any topic, I want you to go and see for yourself if I’m lying or not.

If we believe everything we hear from someone else we will inevitably be led astray. God has called us to be critical thinkers and use His Word as the standard. We should be putting everything we hear through the filter of Scripture in context.

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

Here in 1 Thessalonians, we are told not to despise prophecy but to test it and hold to what is good. When someone tells us something about God we shouldn’t instantly agree or disagree. We should test and see if it is of God. Some ways to test it are, see if what was said matches with Scripture and see if what was said happens to come true. If it doesn’t match Scripture and come true and only one happens, then how can we know for sure if it was from God? Just because someone says something, does not mean it’s true or untrue. We should go through this process of testing with grace. As you shouldn’t instantly believe someone, you shouldn’t handle that with condemnation or judgment.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

This verse is interesting because it is not something we think about. We see influences in our world (i.e. pop culture) and we often don’t think it’s that deep. For example, we listen to music, watch videos or listen to public figures and don’t filter it as we should because there’s no way that it could be “that serious”. When we say things like that, we are ignoring the spiritual influence on the world altogether. I think it’s safe to say that the spiritual is more real than what we see in our daily life.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the context of music, when you are hearing music through your ears we believe that it is sound waves going through the air hitting our ear canal being translated by our physical brain and interpreted…. It is simple, factual information…. In reality, we are experiencing the spirit and the meaning of the artist who created that music…. We are spiritual beings experiencing the spirit of another through physical means.

When we lack the intentionality to filter what we consume, we leave ourselves open to be deceived. That is what 1 John 4:1 is talking about. There are spiritual influences in our life and we need to filter them to see if they’re of God.

As I said in the beginning, for your benefit, assume I’m lying. The closer we grow to God and the more we are immersed in His Word, the easier it is to identify a deceiving spirit leading us astray.

Stay woke my friends.

Wholehearted Seeking Pt. 3: In the World

Welcome to the third and final part of the Wholehearted Seeking series! Today will be over something we have often heard but don’t often know how to apply. What we will be going over is, being in the world but not of it. Now I’m sure after reading that, you instantly have a bunch of thoughts soaring through your mind. The goal for this post is to look at this from a fresh perspective and to seek the Kingdom through it.

Being Sent

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. John 17:16

Plenty of times, people have taken and this verse and used it to crawl into their safe, Christian bunker and wait for Jesus to come again. People have also used it to be extremely weird (If I’m being honest). But what is this verse saying? If we look at the scripture in context we see what Jesus was actually emphasizing.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:15-19

We have been commissioned into the world for a purpose. We weren’t called to hide in bunkers and have no impact on the world. We’re here to bring the good news of Jesus.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Have an Influence

But how do we do this? We do this by having an impact in every part of our community. To be excellent in all we do and to be the best at our work. When we put in more effort into our work, then people will begin to ask questions as to why we go above and beyond. We then are able to point everything directly to Christ.

Excellence honors God and inspires people. When we do things with excellence and give it our all, people see something different going on. Colossians 3:17 tells us that whatever we do, we should do it in the name of Jesus. Colossians 3:23 tells us that when we work, we should work at whatever it is with all of our heart, working for the Lord and not human masters. God’s creation is excellent, His Word is perfect. Shouldn’t that inspire you to be the best you can be?

God didn’t create you to be average, He created you for a reason, to have an impact on your surroundings, to spread the Gospel. For us to settle is to give up on our calling.

His Purpose in You

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

There’s something that God has placed in your heart that He wants to use for His purpose. The God of the universe, the Creator, wants to use YOU to complete His perfect Will.

Before you go, I want to encourage you. I want to encourage you to go and carry out what God has placed in you. Whether that is making that album, writing that book, starting that business or starting a small group. Whatever it may be, go, and do it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If it is His will, you will see the fruit and give Him the glory and praise. He is with you!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Wholehearted Seeking Pt. 2: Community

Wholehearted Seeking Pt. 2: Community

If you’re reading this that means you have come back to read the second part of our three-part series, Wholehearted Seeking, where we touch on three main areas and how to seek the Kingdom of God in those areas. If you’re here for the first time, check out the link at the bottom of this page to take you to part one where we went over our devotion life. This post is going to be about the importance of community and what healthy community looks like.

Importance of Community

The importance of community has been evident since the beginning of creation. Genesis 1:26 says “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” From the beginning, we see that we were created in the image of God. Notice it says “Let us make mankind in our image” God is three in one, He is the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. This right here shows us that if we were created in God’s image and likeness then that means we were created for community.

If we are someone who is a “Lone Wolf”, who is to hold us accountable? Who will be there to push us forward? What will we do when times get hard? To isolate yourself from others or to avoid contact with others as much as possible is called Social Isolation. Social Isolation can lead to loneliness or negative self-esteem.

Community doesn’t just mean having people in your life though, it also matters about how close you let them in. To have legitimate community is to live life with others, which means you have to let others into your life in a deeper way. This is hard because many of us have been hurt by people we’ve let in but we can’t let that past situation keep us from what God has for us when Christ has freed us from that pain.

Healthy Community

Just as important as community itself is, so is healthy community. When we have unhealthy community, that can lead to pain and cause us to carry baggage. That is why it is just as important to have healthy community. The Bible speaks on having healthy and unhealthy community. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20. If our inner circle is filled with people who are relentlessly pursuing God and have true wisdom from God, then we will grow in wisdom and prosper spiritually, mentally and emotionally. If our inner circle is filled with people who are against God and do foolish things then we will suffer spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

So what does healthy community look like? If we look in Acts 2:42-47 We see what healthy community is. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The early Church had community exactly the way God intended. They had everything in common, the took care of each other, they met regularly to know God better, they ate together and they worshiped together. This is what we should model our community after.

What Next?

There is one way to positively get into healthy community. That is getting plugged into a local church that preaches the Bible. When you start attending, you should start serving, get into a small group. When we live life with other believers, we begin to walk out what God has for us in community.

Wholehearted Seeking Pt 1: Devotion

Wholehearted Seeking Pt 1: Devotion

Welcome to the first post of a three-part series called, Wholehearted seeking. This series is about seeking the Kingdom of God in three key aspects of our life. Part one is over our devotional life and what we do behind closed doors to seek God and to grow in relationship with Him. There are various ways to get alone time with God. But the point of focus is how important it is to get time with Him.

Focus and Purpose of Devotion

John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” In this verse, Jesus is metaphorically drawing a picture that shows that we rely on Him. To bear fruit in life is to abide in Him and without abiding in Him we will bear no lasting fruit. How to abide in Him is having a lasting relationship with Him.

This Metaphoric picture supports that without a devotion life, knowledge of the Word and a prayer life we will not be able to have a sustainable relationship with Jesus. That is why before we talk about the different kind of disciplines we must know first and foremost that Jesus needs to be at the center of all we do. If we stop making Jesus the center and purpose of our life, all of our devotional disciplines are meaningless. The purpose of our devotion life is to know God better and to grow in Christ. Christ should be at the forefront of our minds in all we do, with a devotional life, we will grow in that.

“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”
~John Owen

Disciplines for devotion

S.O.A.P.

Using the S.O.A.P. method is a great way to start a devotional routine. S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. This creates an outline of how to dissect scripture and how to grasp what God is saying in His Word. This format of Journaling was a great way for me to create a routine of spiritual discipline. Soaping is a great way to start journaling if you’ve never journaled before or struggle to journal well. It helps you get into a mindset to see what God is revealing to you.

Bible Reading Plans

Bible reading plans are a great way to keep a schedule to your reading and will help you see the Bible as a narrative for God’s purpose and glory in Jesus Christ. I use the Read Scripture app which is a Bible reading plan to read the whole Bible in a little under a year. Apps like this guide you through God’s Word to help you see how all scripture points to Christ.

Writing Out Your Prayers

This discipline is a discipline I’ve seen help a lot of people grow in their prayer life. It gives you the opportunity to see how you have grown in your relationship with God as time has gone on and you look back in your journal. For some people, writing out prayers can help them express what they are feeling in a more real way.

Praying through the Psalms

This is a discipline that will help you grow in your prayer life. What praying through the Psalms is, is praying God’s Word back to Him. It gives you the ability to relate to what the author was going through and soon you will be able to turn to a certain Psalm that relates to how you are feeling and you can pray through that. Praying through the Psalms will help you see how the authors prayed in different situations so you can formulate how to pray in times of rejoicing, crisis, mourning or praise. Praying through the Psalms is separate from your daily Bible reading, it is not a replacement.

Here are some resources on each discipline:

S.O.A.P.

Bible Reading Plan

Writing Out Your Prayers

Praying Through The Psalms