We Are Not Hoodlums.

I think we've all been there.

You've scoured the Christian section at Barnes and Noble, searching for a jump start. An ignition, if you will, for your lost–––or lonely–––or broken–––life. Invariably, your eyes find the devotional section and you settle on a devotional that might help deliver you from your distance from God.
 

we-are-not-hoodlums


There's no settling here.

A great friend of mine and Quarterlife writer, Cory Copeland, wrote a devotional called We Are Not Hoodlums. It releases today.

This is not your normal devotional and the cover states it succinctly: "a devotional for the rest of us." Because how often do we head to that Barnes and Noble, only to pick up a devo that leaves us feeling less than? It's as if, unintentionally, these devotional writers come from a higher place to prescribe what we truly need.

Cory did not write this devotional to be seen as a religious authority; you can see it on every page. He wrote this as if to say:


"Hey. I'm over here sitting in the mud. I see you sitting over there in the mud. Can we sit in the mud together?"


To broken people with broken hearts and lives, this is sweetness to the soul. I mean, honestly… who writes about life being unfair? And, furthermore, is genuine about it? It doesn't matter if it's worthiness or loneliness or dream-chasing or chasing our past–––it's all covered with an air of humor and grace.

But then my dear friend set me straight and told me I could write such a book because I was in the same boat as someone who needed it. My own broken walk with God is lacking, so why couldn’t the reader and the writer be cut from the same cloth? Why couldn’t we—you and I—begin a Biblical journey together? Why couldn’t a book of devotions and examinations be written from a place of equality rather than a place of supposed superiority? 

(from We Are Not Hoodlums, introduction)

In total, there's a months worth of reading, if you're a one-devo-a-day type of man. If not, read the whole thing in one sitting because you'll love it. I am recommending this to all of you, my dear readers, because you deserve to walk through the trials of life with laughter, stories, and scripture.
 

You can find the book in paperback on Amazon here and you find the Kindle version here. Also, it's Cory's birthday today, so do two things:

1) Sing happy birthday into your computer screen, then find him on Twitter (@Cory_Copeland) and wish him a happy birthday.

2) Get on Amazon (here) and download the Kindle version FOR FREE today. Consider it a birthday celebration.

 

 

4 Reasons I Can’t Wait For Future Christmases

If I were a ghost, I’d be The Ghost of Christmas Future. I love my future Christmases… and they haven’t even happened yet. Here are four reasons why I can’t wait for those future holidays…

1. Cultivating a Culture of Giving

I can’t wait to cultivate a culture of giving in my home. So often, our families get enamored with the materialism of Christmas; it’s practically natural. In our home, I would pout if I didn’t receive what I expected to receive, no matter the occasion (holidays, birthdays, etc.). On one occasion, I received a video game–––the one I wanted–––but for a different game system. Nevermind the fact that I couldn’t play it, my bellyaching elicited this response from my grandfather:

“Be happy with what you’ve got.”

With age comes wisdom, right? It’s not what you get that matters… and Grandpa Walt was spot on. Our mindset will forever be take-take-take until we do a 180 for the sake of our families. My goal is to associate family Christmases with a give-give-give mantra. The Schmidts will get out in the community, making people feel loved and giving of our time and resources.

2. Spending Time with my Future Family

I can’t wait to spend the holidays with my family. In this season of life, I can’t see myself settling down–––ever–––and maybe that’s why I can’t wait to enjoy time with the future Mrs. Schmidt and Co.

I know I will get married despite my stubborn resolve to stay single (that’s another article in itself), making this season a time to look forward into Christmases future. Whether it’s a year (whoa), two years, ten years… I can’t wait to make cookies, babies (double-whoa), and spread all kinds of holiday cheer. The Lord will smile happily knowing that I am overjoyed at playing football in the snow with my boys–––or if necessary, a tea party inside with my girls (but let’s hope for the former).

Time is precious. Time is not finite and what we once had is gone before we know it, never to return. I don’t want to ever waste time with my family, so getting excited about them now–––when I am single and have all the time in the world–––is time well spent.

3. Cold-Climate Christmases

I can’t wait for cold-weather Christmases. You see what I just wrote about playing football in the snow with my boys… I fully expect that to happen. Being in South Florida, we really don’t get the full effect of the holidays and that’s why I can’t wait to be back in the snow.

Obviously I can’t predict what that means fully, but what I do know is this: a Christmas in Michigan… or New York… or Colorado… is way more Christmassy than a Christmas in Palm Beach. There is something transfixing about sipping hot chocolate while watching old movies or running outside in a foot of snow after getting your first lacrosse stick.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that the Schmidts will be in a cold weather climate for Christmas (once December 26th hits, though, it’s back to the beach and not a second too soon).

4. Establishing New Traditions

I can’t wait to create new traditions. I am the man I am today because my parents did a phenomenal job raising their kids–––God bless ’em–––but one thing we never did was to open the Bible on Christmas Eve and read the Christmas story. I want to do that.

New traditions are a part of the magic of Christmastime. You have some things that you’ve done, your wife has things too. You’ll decide whether to put a star or an angel on top of the tree that you decide HAS TO BE REAL (or fake). She loves lasagna on Christmas Day… and that’s great, but she’s crazy, so you get to tell her why spinach dip in a sourdough bread bowl makes sense.

We all have tremendous memories of why the Christmas season is so special and the reminiscing is thick. We hold onto many of these traditions for memories’ sake, and that’s good, but many times the best part of Christmas is creating new things… like the time your toddler son pooped himself while opening his favorite toy, so that’s why everyone goes pantsless on Christmas morning.
[alert style=”success”]Sound Off: Why can’t you wait for Christmases future? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Hurricane Sandy: The Battle Between God’s Presence & Absence

59+ deaths.

8 million people from South Carolina to Maine without power.

28 inches of snow in West Virginia.

190 firefighters deployed to Breezy Point fire.

$20 billion worth of property damage.

$30 billion worth of business damage.

 

Even as believers in the sovereignty of God, we all struggle with the question of where God is in the midst of storms, natural disasters, or life disasters.

How does God sit back and allow it to happen? How can a God of Mercy cause this?

Father and Maker of heaven and of earth, we ask for the wisdom only you can offer to these questions. Make a holy entrance with your Spirit into the hearts and minds through your words written below. We ask for Your presence and Your answers. We love you Jesus, and we thank you for presenting our requests blamelessly before our Father. Amen.

 

“I form light and create darkness,

I make success and create disaster;

I, Lord, do all these things.”

–Isaiah 45:7

So does this translate that God killed them, took away people’s electricity, and destroyed property?

He is God of all things, right?

[pullquote_right]“All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him.”
–Education, pg. 263, E.G. White [/pullquote_right]

Let us face this head on with the Truth we’ve been given: God loves us (‘For God so loves the world…’ John 3:16) and grieves with us (‘Yet He Himself bore our sickness, and He carried our pains…’ Isaiah 53:4a). Even the shortest verse in the Bible shows this attribute of God (‘Jesus wept.’ John 11:35).

He loves and grieves us. Our Lord is in our midst. He is a mighty one who WILL save; he rejoices over us with gladness and will quiet us by His love. He, the God of gods and Lord of lords, exalts over us with loud singing (see Zephaniah 3:17).

 

Many of us with a religious mindset claim that God in fact does do all things for a higher purpose.

It’s a burst for the bubble, but this is not truth.

Did God take away your daughter in an accident? Did God give you cancer? Did God plan your dismissal from the job that supports your family? Did God cause your bankruptcy? Did God cause the miscarriage you suffered? Did He allow rape, murder, or abuse?

You can bet your last penny He didn’t. These are all direct results to the fall of man, when evil began to reign on this earth. God is the same God over individuals as He is over natural disasters. It was not His original plan, but a change of plans does NOT contain our God. He will use it to create in you the gift of all gifts, Christ-likeness, and He will use the bad things in life to further His Kingdom in a dark world. Our God is not held down by the evil you and I are held down by. He redeems evil to good and most certainly will be glorified in EVERY situation. You can bet your other last penny on that one, too.

Our God is a GOOD GOD. Always, in everything, remember that He is for us. He steps into our lives that are lived out in a fallen creation. A God who steps off of His heavenly Throne where the earth was His footstool, to come and wash the feet of His children. Praise you, Jesus.

 

At the fall, Adam heedlessly opened the door for calamity, natural disasters, destruction, death; but our God has made a way to change all of that both on a personal level and on a global scale: He sent Jesus. He took stripes on his body for our healing. He suffered and died so that righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom of God would be available abundantly to us even while we are in a fallen creation. So when you face natural disaster or a storm in life, command the works of the hand of God on your behalf. Speak to that storm as Jesus spoke to the fig tree.

If this is true, how come some haven’t experienced this dominion? There are many variables that cause powerlessness in prayer. We also cannot fail to remember that prayers prevent things from happening that we don’t often take into account. In other words, if we hadn’t prayed in the first place how much worse would things have been?

Beginning at the fall of man in Genesis 3:17 when Scripture says, ‘The ground is cursed because of you…’, those who walk upon it live on a cursed ground ruled by an enemy who is here to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Romans 8:22 states that, “we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Any of you with the slightest glimpse into the world of labor pains (even stories of someone’s labor suffice), meditate on the agony of the pain childbirth bares. An almost unbearable pain, exhausting every inch of your body from sharp strikes and an ache that’s unquenchable.

My mother said it this way once after having all five of us children, “The only thing that gets you through is knowing what is coming.” Isn’t it just like that, though? The Word of God even proclaims only a few verses prior that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Likewise, the earth groans under the weight of sin with uproarious earthquakes, unstoppable tsunamis, unrelenting hurricanes… we live on cursed ground, but serve a mighty God who will display His power over that ground lest we boldly step before the Throne to intercede.

The authority of the Son of God is for you and you won’t be a victim, but more than a CONQUEROR through Christ.

 

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image… let them have dominion … over all the earth.

–Genesis 1:26

When Adam chose the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the authority we had over earth was wrested from us by disobedience, and now we find Satan is then the one in place of jurisdiction over the elements.  It is important to understand that Satan didn’t obtain this ability legitimately. Satan became the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:22) by default as a result of Adam’s surrender and the choosing of knowledge of good and evil over the dominion God gave him in Genesis 1:26.

Thus we find Jesus, Redeemer and Savior of all creation, repeatedly demonstrating power and authority OVER creation and elements.

In Mark 4:39, Jesus rebukes the wind and told the waves to be still. In John 2:8-9, Jesus turns water into wine. In Matthew 21:19, Jesus declared a fig tree never grow fruit again, and it withered away. Thus, we either work against the curse (what we naturally do) or we work with it (with faith) as Jesus did.

We must not fall deceptive to the lie that Jesus did this because he is God. When Jesus stepped off the Throne and onto dirt and dry ground, He limited Himself with His love and discipline. He remained fully God, but limited His power. All power from Him to do the miraculous came from God himself to Jesus. We have been given this gift, the Holy Spirit. Let us not face the enemy and accept the lie that Jesus is the only one capable of the power to perform these miracles. Scripture gives us the Truth to that lie––– “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12-13)

 

God is for us. Storms and disasters naturally happen under the curse. But, the Good News: We have the power over it, because of the Spirit. Jesus paid much too high a price for us, as believers, to not take this Truth and hide it in our hearts, to meditate on it, and to use it. This is what Scripture means when we are told we can do all things through Christ who gives us Strength!

We worship you in this storm, Jesus. We worship you. Give us the peace that you died for so that we might have. Joy. Patience. Endurance. Bring beauty from the ashes. In the name of the Holy One, Jesus Christ, amen.

Singleness, Marriage, and Purity: Sifting Desires Through Scripture

For starters, let’s discuss what this is NOT.

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs- how he can please the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 7:32)

I love love. I love romance. I love unity. The desire for this is natural and innate. I am NOT against relationships, nor am I against marriage. If you know me well, you would know that it is in fact one of the strongest desires I hold. But here, in this season, I am merely a mirror of the apostle Paul in his teaching of singleness, offering up the choice of singleness as a way of life (many times just for a season!) to seek a more important purpose for our life and to stand in PEACE at the center of God’s will. There is nothing like it in the whole universe.

Before reading this, I give you one ‘warning’:

If your hearts utmost, FULL desire is to work for the Kingdom, you will naturally take heed to these words. If you are still on the fence in faith, squabbling between your desire for the world and your desire for Jesus, you will naturally not find anything here helpful. You may find a sentence or two useful for a moments time, but once your emotions or the temptation of the world begins to squeal and yearn for your attention, you will feed that lion the very meat it was asking for. Sitting on the fence gives you leeway to move in either direction, depending on what your emotions are screaming for loudest. I pray in faith that any person reading these words is filled with the all-consuming Fire, drawing you into total submission and dependence upon the Word.

 

We must understand that there is always means for a renewal of the mind and a guidance by the Spirit.

Dating, sex, love… we each have a definition for all three that has come from experience, readings, or things observed. We can be honest here and admit that much of the molding of our definitions are from the world, for we are IN it. We MUST renew if we are believers in our glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.

“…if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body (worldly ways of thinking, actions that aren’t ultimately to magnify the name of Jesus Christ, etc.), you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

I believe the very first step to this rides on verse 8:4 in Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), which says, “…never [again attempt to] stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”

As humans with such a strong desire to do this, we repeatedly stir it back up on our own time and as our desires and cravings ask of us. This is dangerous to our purity. Not just sexually, but the purity of our Spirit in dividing its’ attention between working for the Kingdom and working to appease ourselves. Again, awakening this love is not a bad thing, if it is in the proper timing; the only timing that will bring peace and blessing, God’s.

Seasons of singleness are crucial. I believe our God is intolerant to wasted time. Ephesians 5 talks about seizing the most out of every opportunity in every season. As believers, our focus should not be on becoming someone worth marrying, but our focus should be on the will of God, which is becoming like Christ. In complete focus on this, we lose sight of our tiring efforts on relationships and finding someone. A season of singleness is a time for full attention, full focus, full admiration, and eyes for the only true Romance, that of Jesus Christ.

This romance story teaches us a few things about the REAL definition of love.

Let’s first understand that the world’s belief is that love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self. We seek for someone to go through life with to fill an inner craving and desire- to fill US. The world’s view is a deception by focusing first and foremost on meeting one’s own needs.

“…He began to be deeply distressed and horrified…[He] fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.'”
(Mark 14:33, 35-36)

The second deception I have come face to face with is that the world has fed the lie that love is an emotion. It is not. At least not fully. Emotions are not wrong, and they aren’t even bad. But when we use them as the measurement of love, we put ourselves at the center of importance. Our feelings, by themselves, don’t do others one bit of good. Christ showed us that true love is not measured or governed by feeling. He went to the cross when every emotion and instinct in His body told Him to turn back. “…Then an angel appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood…”  (Luke 22:43-44).

Jesus’ example shows that love is in our control. He CHOSE to love us. Love is not some strange force that tosses us around against our will. We cannot justify our wrongdoings by saying that loved grabbed a hold of us and “made” us behave irresponsibly. That’s not love. That’s what 1 Thessalonians 4:5 actually describes as passionate lust.

Christ, through the Redemption story, taught us that love is not for the fulfillment of self, but for the glory of God and the good of others. So here poses another factor in finding the right significant other. We may have good connection with someone, we may even both love Jesus Christ and serve Him and others well together. But God has a purpose for each individual, and if the other does not fit the bill of His will for you, then they are not for you. So our question then is, how do we KNOW who is then? Scripture tells us that the Spirit searches us and knows us, so with faith we have the freedom to wait on Him and not search for ourselves. The Spirit is faithful in revealing wisdom to those who ask in faith (see James 1:5-8).

Sexual purity is one of the biggest struggles and factors when dealing with desires and relationships.

“‘Sex is pleasure,’ a movie tells us. And on the radio, ‘Pleasure is all that matters’ is sung sweetly into our ears. In the midst of this harangue from the world, God’s quiet message of true love still speaks to those who choose to listen.”
–I Kissed Dating Goodbye

This is a subject that is touchy and uncomfortable. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because often times we crave this intimacy and yield to the craving outside of its intended purpose. Blessing and peace are not found outside God’s purpose. The Word repeatedly talks about the union of two people, and each time inside the covenant of Marriage. But why? What is the intended purpose of sexual intimacy if not just to show mutual affection?

The main and original purpose of sex is to “become one flesh,” meaning a complete union. Tim Keller quotes in his blog ‘The Gospel and Sex’, “Romanticism considers emotional happiness to be the main condition for marriage; if there is interpersonal happiness, sex is warranted, and then comes marriage. But when love dies, it is also allowable to walk away from the marriage. In the biblical view, however, the main condition of marriage is a binding covenant. In the romantic view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.”

Sex is a God-invented way to say to another person,“I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.”

That cannot be said outside the permanent, exclusive covenantal commitment of marriage.

“Purity consists of more than remaining a virgin… Where, when, and with whom you choose to spend your time reveals your true commitment to purity.”

So now, all you who read, take it and go. Remain pure in body, mind and Spirit. Take hold over your hearts desire for a significant other. We have the Spirit of Power, our flesh does not control us. These inner desires may be a working of the Lord, but we must not arouse it before due time. Go do what you are called to live for.

We are sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
–Isaiah 61:1b-3

[alert style=”info”] Sound Off: Singleness, marriage, and purity are all one intertwined mess of God’s love and how we (sometimes poorly) interpret it. If single, how can you focus on pursuing holiness in advance of marriage? If married, how are you balancing your commitment to God and your spouse? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Environmentally Conscious Christianity

Photo: Tom Bech

In the Beginning…”

Three simple words begin one of the most influential and controversial books in history.  Just the mere mention of these three words will cause some to become excited, some defensive, and others to shut down.  Wars have been fought over their implications, families and friends have been divided by their understanding, and churches throughout history have been torn apart over their debate.

The Bible has been at the center of many conflicts.  History has been shaped, and often disrupted, by what different people believe the Bible is saying.  However, somewhere in the midst of all the arguing, much of the Christian community has neglected to start the conversation where it should, in the beginning.

[divider]

The first two chapters of Genesis speak of how creation began.  These two chapters serve as the opening to our understanding of God, our planet, each other, and ourselves.  Both chapters are loaded with deep implications for what it means to live the life God intends.  Neglecting the importance of Genesis one and two creates many misconceptions.  Where you believe a story begins, will shape what the story you are telling even is; often times, the Church begins its understanding of the Christian message by starting in Genesis three.

Chapter three of Genesis speaks of mankind’s rebellion against God; it is the introduction of sin.  When we begin the story in Genesis three, our message becomes about the removal of sin, and salvation becomes reduced to nothing more than an answer to how one avoids Hell.  However, salvation is about more than just a ticket to Heaven.  Salvation is the answer to everything, and the introduction of a new creation that is bursting forth, here and now, and reconciling the world with God’s peace.

Christianity is God working through us, by the same power that brought the world into existence and raised Jesus from the grave (Romans 8:11), to bring about His plan to reconcile us with Him, His creation, and humanity as a whole.  To begin to grasp this, we must start with an understanding of how God intended things to be.  We must start “in the beginning.”

Though recently there has been a shift in focus, environmental issues have typically been ignored by the Church.  Any conversations about environmental issues, such as global warming, have been passed off as either myth or of no importance.  The focus placed on evangelistic efforts has made the argument that anything outside of one’s eternal security is not worth the attention of Church efforts.  However, in a view of Christianity that begins in Genesis one and two, there is a drastically different understanding of our world that needs to be discovered.

[divider]

In the Beginning, man was created in a garden.

In the second chapter of Genesis, during the account of man’s creation, it says,

[quote]“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”[/quote]

–Genesis 2:15 (NIV)

One of God’s plans for mankind is that mankind should care for the world we have been placed in.  There is a vital need for the Church to reclaim an understanding of God’s way as one that includes the proper care and ordering of our world.

The exploitation of our planet is a deeply spiritual issue, which is rooted all the way back to our very creation.

There are drastic implications to our ignoring the issues that continue to weigh upon creation itself.  Millions face starvation and death as a result of climate patterns, which are the direct result of the abuse of nature and the environment.

There are people suffering because of those who feel entitled to treat the planet as their own, personal source of need fulfillment.

This is not the proper care for God’s garden.

[divider]

Mankind has taken God’s blessing to “rule the earth and subdue it”(Genesis 1:28) and abused it to become power-hungry dictators attempting to reign over creation as THEIR kingdom, rather than using our God-given authority to order creation in such a way that no one is left in need.

With a Genesis one and two understanding of our world, poverty is no longer an abstract idea, but the direct result of our neglect to care for and order our world through the use of a self-sacrificing love.

There is no excuse for many to be suffering and starving while a few have excess.

[divider]

It is time that the Church reclaims its God-instilled responsibility to care for the creation it has been blessed with.  It is time that the environmental issues plaguing our world be understood as an offspring of the selfish nature which drives us from being what we were created to be; the same selfishness, apparent in Genesis three, which resulted in mankind’s original rebellion from God’s plan for creation.

Our world must no longer be seen as a temporary holding place (from which we wait to evacuate), but as a blessing that is the bararight[1] of all mankind to share.

It is time to reconcile with the planet itself, care for it, and properly partake in a way that is better for everyone and everything.

It is time that we see a more environmentally conscious Christianity as an aspect of taking part in the Kingdom of God today.

[divider]

[1] “Bara” is the Hebrew word, used in Genesis one and two, which means “to create.” It is the word used to speak of God’s “creating” the world and man from nothing.  Its implication is that “something” is brought into existence where there was only “nothing” before.  I use the term “bararight’, because mankind’s role in creation is not something we are born into; it is a privilege, honor, and responsibility that is derived from the very beginning of time.  It is not something we deserve, but “something” placed (created) within us, by God, from “nothing” we were or have done.

Coffee Shop Talk: Non-Christian Men, Standing for Truth, and Total Darkness

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[divider]

Why do Christian women react to the behaviors of men?

This is a very vague question so I’ll try and hone in on a certain idea to elaborate upon:

I think Christian women react to the behavior of ungodly men because we are “fixers.” We hold men to this ridiculous standard that we set up in our minds [you can thank romantic comedies for these thoughts] that you will all act like the fictional hero we see on screen. The men who always say the right thing at just the right time…

HELLO! It’s scripted!

Yet, there we go again, believing that men will step up and do all these things. We root for the bad guy who draws us in and then hope that we can change him. “He’s different with me.” is the sad excuse we feed our friends and family for why we stay with the jerk. And yet, we are appalled when worldly men don’t change and behave in the exact opposite way we are hoping them to go.

We stick around for the small moments of break through we see; and blind ourselves to the behavior that should be signaling us to RUN!

Christian women fall into the trap of believing that being in relationships with ungodly men is our godly duty to bring them to pray the prayer of salvation. I know this question could be taken so many different ways. I just felt pulled to write a little about this.

[divider]

What does it mean to have a generation of men standing for truth?

First, and foremost, I pray continually that this will ring true of the men in our generation.

What does this mean? It means that we would have men stepping up and out for the cause of Christ. Men who threw off the godlessness of the world and all that it tries to tell them to be. We would have men taking the lead in purity. Living in such a way that is truly honorable in a generation that is so lost and far from it. Men who actively seek the heart of the Father over the desires of their flesh are men who stand for Truth. The brothers I have surrounding me, I am so proud to say, are men who stand for truth. They are amazing examples of what this means and looks like.

They are men like Daniel. Drenching themselves in the Word and in prayer. The faith and obedience they have like Abraham. Even when they don’t understand what God is calling them to or even if it requires sacrifice–––they are obedient. Men like Joseph. True visionaries for this Kingdom and all the different avenues God can use our gifts. Men that stand for truth stand for Christ and live lives that reflect Him. Like David, they are men after God’s own heart and His desires for them.

Something I think a generation of men standing for truth will be identified by is courage. More than anything else, it takes courage to stand against the world. Men like Joshua. Young men leading the way into battle and taking a stand for God.

“This is my command–––Be strong and very courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9

[divider]

What do you do when you’re far from God?

I absolutely hate those moments in my life.

I look back at the times I let Satan, my selfish desires and laziness slowly pull me further and further from God. Yet, at the very same time these are some of the greatest moments in my walk with Him. My faith and relationship with the Father are deepened and strengthened through the days spent wandering in the desert. I wish I could say that I knew how to pull myself out of the pits when I’m lost and without direction. I sincerely hope and pray that those of you reading this don’t struggle to push through the dark and numb stages of life as difficultly as I do. The moments when I’m far from God I feel like I just want to shut down.

It is actually easier to just stop caring, to stop fighting, and let Satan pull me into the pit and allow my self pity to swallow me whole.

The truths of God and His love are the lighthouse that pull me through the dark.

Even when the last thing I want to do is pray–––or read the Word–––or worship, I make myself. I press in. And I praise the Lord that He is faithful to me even when I am unfaithful to Him. The moments I must completely break His heart by allowing defeat to over take me–––He still comes running when I call. He still carries me when my weak little legs give out. My fickle heart needs His love constantly beating and propelling me forward.

I’m a talker too. Well, generally. Unless I’m very, very, very, upset–––I’ll talk it out with someone. I have a close knit group of brothers and sisters that I can sit down and pour out to. They keep me pointed on Christ and make me see when I’m allowing Satan to blind me and when I’m allowing my selfish desires to keep me from moving forward. I am so blessed by them.

“If we are unfaithful He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.”

–2 Timothy 2:13

[divider]

until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

How to Tell if You’re Dating a Preacher

dating a preacher

There is but one mighty trophy that exists in the brutal competition known as the Christian dating world—that of the young preacher as husband/wife. Wishes have been made, secret séances have been conducted, and felonies have been committed, all in the name of landing a preacher as a spouse. Of this, I am certain.

But how can you tell when that fine young lad or lass you’re interested in has designs on entering the ministry, or is just a good ol’ Christian soul? The subtle nuances can be daunting. Kinda like when Dr. Quinn had to decide if Sully was right for her, or just a good-looking white boy who thought he might just be a Native America (actually…it’s not anything like that, never mind). Regardless, I’ve already started writing and don’t want to stop, so therefore, I present to you, “Cory Copeland’s Guide on How to Tell if You’re Dating a Preacher”:

If they do…take more than two minutes to pray for the meal.
Let’s just be honest here: we’re a hungry people, we Christians; we like our food. And when we pray for our food, it’s usually a mumbled mess of hasty thanks, and then we’re quickly digging in to our bountiful blessings. But the preachers? No, no, no. They’ll eloquently bless the crap out of a meal until all those within earshot can no longer hear the prayer over the growling of their own stomach. There is no debating me here.

If they don’t…mind being asked to say a little something to the congregation at a moment’s notice.
Most of us would rather have our toes gnawed off by Gollum than be called up to the platform without any prior notice. However, a preacher-in-training is always ready to share a quick word from the Lord. Their color-coded-according-to-importance highlighted Bible is perpetually open to that one scripture they’ve had a particularly poignant thought on—even if that same thought has been shared 47 other times before. Preachers are like Henry Rowengartner; they’re always ready to bring the heat.

If they do…quote scriptures in response to every day questions.
You ask: “How’ve you been doing?”
They respond: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, brother”
You’re nodding solemnly right now because you know this happens way too often.

If they don’t…spend less than an hour on their hair.
Preachers have to look good, okay? They’re up in front of groups of people for hours at a time, and for this to be acceptable, they usually feel the need to spend at least 90 minutes in front of the mirror while using three cans of AquaNet hairspray to get that, “Just got a touch from Jesus” glow. It’s their thing, okay? Back off.

If they do…set their Bible in-between you and them while on dates.
Because even if they are holier than you, you can’t be trusted to keep your hands off of them, you hooligan. The Bible softly nestled between you two while you watch Beauty and the Beast should deter you from having any of those silly notions like that hussy Belle did.

This simple little guideline should get you started on the right path toward figuring out if you’re truly dating a wannabe preacher or not. If it doesn’t work, that’s what you get for listening to a guy who religiously watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and cried tears of joy when Sully and the good doctor finally tied the knot (I regret nothing).

 

Cory Copeland writes about God, Life, and Love on his blog at www.MadtoLove.com. You can follow him on the Twitter here. Cory’s dad is a preacher; he is definitely not.

Passion 2012: ‘Seeing And Savoring Christ’ (John Piper)

John Piper

[Editor’s Note: These notes are from the Passion 2012 conference. They are from the perspective of the speaker. Enjoy them, and check out the other sessions from Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Francis Chan, and Louie Giglio (2).]

[Editor’s Note: #2: Prepare for the John Piper scripture unload, followed by explanation. Don’t say you weren’t warned!]

I want Jesus to be magnified in my body.

[box_light]So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
–1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)[/box_light]

[box_light]Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
–1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT) [/box_light]

God said,

[box_light]everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
–Isaiah 43:7 (ESV)[/box_light]

“for my glory.”

[box_light]For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
–Colossians 1:16 (NIV) [/box_light]

“through and for Jesus Christ.”

God intends for your life to bring him glory. Eat. Drink. Feel. Think. Act. All to make him look great.

We are created to put God’s infinite value on display.

The main point: Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love.

Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from being satisfied.

Faith in Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of trusting/believing.

This fulfills your purpose for God:

When you’re savoring, satisfied, and faithful, you are treasuring Jesus. God see it and loves it, but nobody else can see it. God didn’t come into the world or create the world to be glorified invisibly.

You are outwardly set free from the slavery of sins. The root of our salvation glorifies privately, while the fruit glorifies publicly.

Seeing and savoring Jesus. Being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus. Trusting Jesus are equivalent realities.

[box_light]Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
–John 6:35 (NIV)[/box_light]

[box_light]But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
–John 1:12 (NLT)[/box_light]

[box_light]And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
–Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)[/box_light]

Blind people don’t decide to see.

We are so corrupt, so in love with ourselves, so bent on sin. We cannot believe. It’s morally impossible for one in love with darkness to be in love with light. We need a resurrection.

God doesn’t raise people from the dead to be neutral.

Freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do… and it aligns with God’s will… and it’s not something you’ll regret in 1000 years.

There will be no struggle in heaven to obey. We will be the freest people in the university doing exactly what we’re doing because it will be God’s will.

More satisfied equals more free.

[box_light]Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.
–Romans 6:17 (NLT)[/box_light]

[divider]

What is the supremacy of Christ?

All that God is for us, is in Jesus. Jesus is a gift. A miraculous work. He is infinite and boundless in all of his excellencies.

He is the supremacy of: justice, patience, wrath, grace, love, ……. (Ed: and way, way more things than I can write down). If God granted you the ability to see all of this, you would just see the outskirts. He is supreme in every admirable way.

[box_light]There’s not a square inch on planet earth where Jesus doesn’t say: “Mine!”
–Abraham Kuyper[/box_light]

[divider]

[box_light]So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
–2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT) [Emphasis mine][/box_light]

When you see the magnitude of the treasure…. it’s astounding. When discussing temptations, little temptations in perspective from a little heart seem big. However, when little temptations are faced with a big heart, they look tiny.

What is freedom for the sacrifices of love?

[box_light]If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back.
–Hebrews 10:34 (MSG)[/box_light]

“you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”

[box_light]Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
–Isaiah 26:8 (NIV) [/box_light]

Your name are renown are the desire of our hearts, not the decision.

May his supremacy and sight be your desire and trust.

Passion 2012: ‘Knowing The Bible’ (Francis Chan)

Francis Chan

[Editor’s Note: These notes are from the Passion 2012 conference. They are from the perspective of the speaker. Enjoy them, and check out the other sessions from Beth Moore, Christine Caine, John Piper, and Louie Giglio (2).]

We can do this if we refuse to be reserved. You’re gonna have to get ugly.

Little kids are being raped repeatedly right now. Ugly.

You can’t casually care for sex trafficking.

[box_light]I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
–Romans 1:16 (NIV)[/box_light]

Whether it’s sitting on an airplane or talking to neighbor. Talking about Jesus is important.

We’re not ashamed when we’re in this room. God, I want to be a person who’s never ashamed. God, let me be your mouthpiece.

[divider]

Go home and read the Bible. Read it over and over again. You get so many messages all day long. So much noise; so many lies. You need it.

To really believe that Jesus touched the man on the stretcher, or the woman with the hemorrhages… and that he listens to me now: there’s power in that.

So many people will lie to you throughout your lifetime. Unless you read the Bible over and over again, you won’t be able to tell who’s lying to you.

How do you know if I am telling you the truth?

Do you know this book [The Bible] well enough?

Are you willing to say whatever, in accordance to God? You won’t even know what Jesus looks like if you don’t study this book. You’re not taking the obvious teaching in this book.

[box_light]I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
–2 Timothy 4:1 (NLT) [/box_light]

People. We always tell them what they want to hear. If you have a desire you can justify it with the Bible… if you work hard enough. We fight for what we desire. It happens in church all the time…

We don’t really want to know what the book says; we just want it to justify for what we want.

For example: we try to beautify everything. Noah’s ark. Picture the giraffes, and all of the animals two-by-two; I doubt your parents painted all the people drowning!

[box_light]Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
–Luke 14:12 (NIV) [/box_light]

Recently, I held a banquet for some underprivileged people in our community. We invited them to a party. To make them feel loved. We fed them; bought them things. When I throw a party for the poor, the lame, the weak, and I get so excited… I wonder if that’s what God feels about me.

Is that how God feels about me?

[divider]

Do you take the Word of God literally?

Do you really believe God commanded you to go and make disciples?

We have to start doing this. Human trafficking? The solution is making disciples.

There’s a few people who take God at his word and make disciples. The rest follow. I believe I can lead them to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit.