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Christ Following, prayer

The Secret to Going the Distance 

January 18, 2017 • By

I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host, and his guest, were talking about “guys who have been following the Lord for a long time now”.

I never really thought about it, but now it hit me like a football to the face: I’ve been following Jesus for over 30 years. Just typing that sentence makes me feel old. I’m not even sure why, but I suddenly have the impulse to drive slow, leave the blinker on, eat hard candy, and watch 60 minutes with the television volume turned up way too loud.

When I look back, I can recollect a lot of people who have given up following Jesus over the years. I don’t think they meant to, it just kind of happened. I suppose the reason most people fall away from the faith is not because they get mad at God (though some do) or they intentionally stop believing (usually after unanswered prayers). I think most people fall away because they neglect their souls.

This lead me to another football to the face moment. I had to ask myself how I’ve kept my beliefs all these years. I searched inwardly for some sort of Tweet-worthy revelation that people would ask me to write a book about. I thought that there must be some sort of mind-blowing secret to going the distance with my faith.

It turned out that the answer was really simple: just keep showing up.

Every day (or most days) for 30 years, I’ve been setting a little time aside to show up before God’s throne to say hi. I usually read the Bible too. It’s not a big deal. I’m not one of those guys who prays for two hours, then breaks out the commentaries and Greek dictionary. I just show up and visit with God for a bit. It may not sound like much, but it’s how I’ve kept my faith so long.

When I was a pre-teen, my mother had a friend who used to take my brother and me places to hang out. He had bigger muscles than anyone I’d ever known before. Every time I’d ask him how he got into such good shape, he’d always say the same thing, “It’s better to do one pushup a day than to lift weights hard but inconsistently.

In other words, “Just keep showing up.” That’s the secret. The “one weird trick” to following Jesus for over 30 years is to talk to him every day.

Build the habit of prayer into your life and that habit will build life into you.


culture

7 Reasons Millennials Are Awesome

January 12, 2017 • By

Millennials.

Just the mention of them causes some folks to roll their eyes and question the future of our nation once the youngsters are running the place. It seems like a popular past-time to bash those who were born between 1980 and 2000. In fact, you can hardly scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing a blog post or article criticizing them for being entitled, lazy, or selfie-obsessed.

As a pastor who’s been leading Millennials for a while, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the next generation. In fact, I’ve made a list of seven reasons why they’re awesome. Check it out.

They’re entrepreneurial. Millennials aren’t stuck in the mindset that you have to get a corporate job with benefits, put in 30 years, and be taken care of by the company through retirement. They’re okay with making less to do what they love, starting new businesses, and carving new paths.

They’re compassionate. I’ve never known a generation to care so much about making a difference in the world. For our camp for abused and neglected foster kids, many of our camp counselors are¬†Millennials and they come back year after year to invest in the lives of their campers. Some have even gone to foster care training so that they can open up their homes to the orphans of today.

They’re flexible. They don’t seem to be stuck in any particular way of doing things. If we make changes at that last minute or adjustments to the way things are done at the church, they just roll with it. I love that we can count on our Millennials to go with the flow.

They’re creative. Growing up, if I wanted to record an album, I had to pay a recording studio huge sums of money to make it happen. If I wanted to be a photographer, I had to purchase an expensive camera and pay to have my pictures developed (while I waited a couple days). If I wanted to make a movie, it would have cost more than a house! Millennials have grown up with affordable technology that helps make all that happen, and they’ve been able to foster those expressions since they were a very young age.

They’re tech-savvy. This goes along with my last point. Growing up with technology, there’s just no learning curve for them. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to be able to set the clock on the VCR without a manual. Millennials are programming virtual reality video games for fun in their spare time.

They’re transparent. I never have to wonder what a Millennial is thinking. I asked one what she though of my book and she answered, “I didn’t think it was going to be that good but I was really surprised.” Maybe not the most gracious answer, but I didn’t leave wondering how she really felt. Growing up in the age of Amazon reviews and social media has taught them to give their opinions plainly and with honesty.

They’re adventurous. This is one of my favorite Millennial traits. Every year or two, I take a foreign missions trip (most of the time to Ireland). I like to take people with me because the experience is wonderful, and has a way of expanding the way you see the world. Besides my mother, the only people who have been willing to go with me are Millennials. They’re okay with breaking their routine, taking time off work, and getting the money together. Instead of immediately thinking about the reasons they can’t, they think about ways they can! It’s an adventure and they’re in!

I’m excited and honored to get to pastor Millennials. I have high hopes for the future and, well, they’re pretty awesome.