“Christian culture is redefining purity in a way that is inspiring a prideful thing of “look how pure I am.” And not only that but “I want to maintain that by not dating women and getting to know them and forming healthy relationships with them; and not building a healthy relationship that will lead to a healthy marriage. I’m gonna throw all that out because I gotta be really pure. I am going to be so pure that I won’t know how to be as a husband or a boyfriend”.”—
-Glen Fitzjerrell (aka Unka Glen) on episode 9 of the Say That podcast
Why is it so important to go to a church and have a fellowship?
The short answer is: you cannot maintain a walk with Jesus on your own. You need people to encourage you, to listen to you vent, and to call you on your BS, among many other things. Jesus surrounded himself with people. One of the first things He did when He started his ministry was go out and call his twelve friends to travel with Him. This model carried on throughout the New Testament. Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs. Paul went on his missionary travels with people like Timothy and Silas, and his letters mention dozens more people who helped him in some way.
You have things to learn, you need the Church. You have things to teach, the Church needs you. 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 talks about how we all, with our unique gifts and struggles and experiences, have a role to play in the body of Christ. You need people to build you up, but you also need to have the experience of being there for people. That is what a church is supposed to be. A place to be fed and a place to find ways to serve people.
The problem with the whole church/fellowship/other people thing is that relationships are by definition messy. They are that way because people are messy. That is another massive reason we need fellowship, to know that we are not alone in our mess.
If you want a strong relationship with Jesus, you need to learn from other healthy relationships in your life. You can’t understand what it is for Jesus to forgive you unless you have forgiven someone. You can’t understand how monumental it is for Jesus to keep pursuing after you break his heart, until you have had someone break your heart. The vast landscape of emotional lessons that we apply to our walk with Jesus is picked up through relationships with people. God is inherently relational, and so relationships are important in the world He created and the lives He is involved in.
“People get caught up in “can I keep this standard? Can I keep this standard of purity?” A walk with Jesus is not about saying “I will set this standard of behavior and then adhere to it”. That is not a what a relationship with Jesus is.”—
What exactly is worship? When I think worship, I think really lame “Christian” bands singing “happy rainbow pop music” at church, but that’s not worship. I don’t think so. What exactly does it mean to take time out of your day to worship the Living God? And how is it different from praying and praising? Thank you…
Wayne Grudem wrote a big, good book called Systematic Theology and I like his definition of “the activity of glorifying God. Namely, it is any action with a genuine and conscious adoration of God in our hearts.” The part of that definition that specifically applies to your question is “any action”. Worship can certainly be singing and clapping (but “worship” is not a genre of music) but it can be anything where you are conscious of trying to glorify God. Serving, having conversations, painting, writing, any of these can be acts of worship.
A lot of worship, particularly singing as worship, is cultural. A white American church is very different from an African American church in the same town, which are both very different from church services in other countries. If you don’t dig the music at your church, that is kind of a bummer, but hopefully there are good things about your church that balance that out. There is plenty of music out there that is made by people who love the Lord, which is not lame and not “happy rainbow” which you could load up your iTunes with and have your worship in the car or in your headphones. Bridge worship leader Jed Brewer and our friend Lee Younger are great places to start for authentic music, and I have plenty of suggestions as well. Taking time out of your day to worship God can mean whatever works for you. Worship should fuel your relationship with the Lord and it is really important.
Prayer is bringing your requests, fears, questions, and other stuff to God. The goal of prayer is to communicate these things to God and listen to response. One of the key differences is prayer tends to be more still, more about waiting whereas worship is more active. Praise is a very specific aspect of worship. Praise is about how great God is and how much He has done for us. Praise is vocal, and as we established worship does not have to be. Worship can also involve lament, which happens in the Psalms (the worship song book of the Hebrews) quite often.
It is important to have a well rounded relationship with God and to be able to express ourselves to Him. Finding time daily to worship God is key to keeping our relationship to Him strong, but it comes in a massive number of different permutations. As with many things in your walk, the key is to find something that works for you and to not judge what works for other folks.
Hey there. We Christians are all “witnesses” but not all are “evangelists”,is that true? If so, what differentiates the former from the latter?
This is one of those situations where churchy language gets a little muddled depending on background, denomination, etc, but the question is very interesting. Witnessing is simply telling someone about the Lord, who He is and what He has done in your life. You are certainly right that we are all called to do that in some way. Some groups (I’m looking at you baptists…) get a little carried away with it to almost a place of keeping score. This both makes a weird competition out of Christian life, and also makes shy people feel like they are bad people, which are both wrong all over.
Evangelist comes from a greek word that essentially means “bringer of good news”. There are people in the New Testament, like Timothy, who are referred to as “evangelist” as a title; but there is no special qualification for it. Bringing the good news into someone’s life is something that anyone who is in a relationship with the Lord can do. In the America, the word “evangelist” has gotten associated with revival tent preachers, and more recently television preachers. That is probably why you don’t hear it a lot in many Christian circles. To some people the term evokes a very particular, um let’s say- tooth-whitened, brand of preaching.
There does seem to be an idea underlying your question. There are not levels of Christianity. The difference between the people in the pews on Sunday morning and the person preaching is just a matter of where the Lord as called them. You don’t need a seminary degree to do great work spreading the gospel. Some people are called to volunteer with the homeless, or watch kids during the church service, or hangout with middle school kids who are having a rough time. That is all bringing the good news and, because of the power of Christ within us, every Christian is qualified to do it.
“The devil is trying to tell you how you will feel in the future about something you haven’t experienced yet, but light drives out the shadows When you are lying there having made love to your wife, there will be a floodlight flipped on in your heart.”—
The “why” questions one asks in Christ- Recently, I’ve been growing a lot in Christ. I have the privilege to serve in music ministry at church which has always been my dream. The reason I ever began playing guitar was because I wanted to serve God through ministry. Recently I tried to contact someone who really inspired me to seek God. I emailed him to thank him but he never responded. And to be honest, that hurt. I see God restoring relationships around me and I keep thinking why not me?
I’m sorry that your friend didn’t get back to you. That sucks, but let’s remember that people get busy, and forget to return calls. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt, but you have to have some grace with folks. Otherwise, you live and die with every interaction which will start to take a toll on you quickly.
Another important thing to remember is that comparison is the enemy of joy. I’m willing to bet that God is not restoring every relationship in these people’s lives, and if you think about it rationally, of course you know that too. We all get caught up in an emotional mindset and start noticing things that fit into that narrative. Self pity has a way of making it so we that we bend everything we see to drive us further into that way of thinking. You have to pull back and look at things separate from that emotion that is driving the bus. I know that is hard, so it is a great strategy to ask someone if there is something you are missing.
The hard truth is not that not every relationship is going to be lifelong. Some are meant to get us from point A to point B, and it sounds like your friend certainly did that for you. Instead of letting that lack of relationship embitter you, it would be better for you thank God for this person who inspired you to seek the Lord and become the ministry rock machine you are today. I know it is hard when God doesn’t give us that picture we have in our minds, but if you dwell on the way you wish things were, you are going to miss out on what God is doing right now.
Anonymous asked: Thank you for serving the Lord this way ^_^ My roommate and I recently had a disagreement. While we both agree that Christians are called to rebuke, we disagree on the motivation to seek the Lord. For me, after a hard semester, it’s because we love him and as we learn to love his holiness, we see the sin that clings so deeply to us and we learn to hate it as well. For her, it’s because of the punishment and the knowledge that the Lord will judge us. I believe both extremes are correct for different people and that the Lord has done both to draw people near him. God is both Judge and Love but ultimately, why do we obey him? Because I truly believe that even though God will judge us, he longs to walk with us too on that path of sanctification. How do we share the Gospel in a way that does not compromise either side of God?
A friend once told me “nobody comes to the cross out of fear”. That has stuck with me in all my years of Christianity and in ministry. The cross is the meeting of God’s love and justice, so I think it is the right place to look for our answer. The Romans attempted to use crucifixion as a punishment that inspired fear. The point of crucifixion was not only to put someone to death, but to do it in a way that say “this is what happens to people who step out of line, so behave”. The cross of Jesus however says “this is how much I love you, I am taking the punishment for you”. That is how the justice of God and the love of God are reconciled at the cross.
Scripture is clear about love’s supremacy. 1John says that perfect love casts out fear. Psalm 30 says that God’s anger lasts for a moment but His love is forever. 1 Corinthians 13 flat says “the greatest of these is love”. God is just, but that justice is part of his love, not a counterpoint to it. Jesus is clear about love too. He says to love your enemies, that he was here on Earth because of God’s love that sent him.Jesus’ summary of the law is all about love, love for God and love for your neighbor. If there is one thing that we can pull out of the gospel to communicate to others, it should be love.
Also, let me say a quick thing about “rebuking”. Christians are called to rebuke, but to do so in love and in the interest of building others up. We are not called to merely point out people’s flaws, and we are not called to rebuke non-believers. We can’t expect non-believers to behave like believers, and get mad at them when they don’t,that doesn’t make any sense. We are called to love people, and all of our actions should serve that, not judging.
“In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul is preaching and he says this interesting line “As some of your own poets have said…”. Paul consumed secular media. Here is a Christian guy reaching out to people, getting into their world, finding out about their world and finding something redeeming in it that they could connect to.”—
What’s some advice you have on good evangelising? So that it isn’t seen as invasive and all.. And also particularly when talking to atheists?
Invasive is a great way to describe what we are trying to avoid when talking to people about the Lord. There some important ways to keep what is a message of love and hope from seeming like a sales pitch. The first is that anything you say to a stranger is going to be somewhat invasive. Even more so if it is something as huge as a relationship with the living God. The best witnessing, or evangelism, or whatever term you want to use, comes out of a relationship. You have to earn the right to be heard in someone’s life before they are going to be willing to entertain anything you have to say. And, the relationships have to be real. You can’t be someone’s friend just to put them on your “witnessed to” list, that is using someone and it is not cool, especially in the name of the Lord.
Another issue is timing. The choice to be in a relationship with the Lord, or not, is a decision everyone has to make for themselves. If someone knows you, and knows you are on this Jesus thing, they will let you know if they are interested. So if someone has a relative going through an illness and they come to you to talk about it, you can say “well you know I believe in God so I would say…” and that’s a great idea. It is not a great idea to just show up in someone’s sick mother’s hospital room with a copy of “Mere Christianity” and start telling them about Jesus.
As to your question about atheists, debating is not sharing the gospel. Debating is not a conversation, it is much more often two people having simultaneous rides on their high horses. If an atheist has questions, by all means talk with them; but if it becomes clear that they just want to be angry about Rick Santorum at you, then I would say disengage. Nobody has ever been argued into accepting Jesus. The best strategy is to cultivate your own relationship with the Lord, befriend people (especially people who seem like they could use a friend) and pray for opportunities. When that opportunity comes you don’t have to be fancy or smooth, You just have to say “this is what I believe: God created me, He sent Jesus to take away all my wrong, and now I am in a relationship with the living God. If what you are on isn’t working for you, this works”. And know the Holy Spirit is doing the heavy lifting and we are recipients of the blessing to get to be involved.
We are recording more Say That podcasts tomorrow night and we need your questions! No subject is off limits and we promise you won’t shock us (but if you wan you can ask anonymously). Ask whatever you want: Bible, theology, ministry, church stuff, sex, dating, relationships.
What does it mean to listen to God? Do you pray and then just sit still and listen for His voice? Or does God just let you pray and then, when you’re off doing something else, answer you with a whisper or a person’s words or a sign? How does that work?
I think this is a great question. It is important to take the Christian-isms we hear all the time, like “listening to the Lord” and look at what is actually meant by that.
I have never heard an audible voice from God, nor do I know anybody who has. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I think waiting to actually hear a voice is not going to be the most fruitful strategy. God has so many avenues to communicate with us. Certainly through the scriptures: if you have a question for the Lord about what you should be doing in a situation (with a relationship for example) the answer might be laid out in the Bible (forgive for example). If that’s not the case, God certainly speaks to us through our circumstances. If you are praying about whether or not you should leave your job and an application you put in at your dream job gets accepted, that’s probably the Lord giving you an answer. God also uses people in our lives to give us answers. The Bible is very clear that we should “seek wise counsel” from people further along in their walk than us. They may have insight or experience from a situation in their life that the Lord gave them to pass on to you.
Another way God speaks to us is our own instincts and intuitions. A lot of Christians teach that your plans will always be ruined in order for God’s plans to come through. That surely happens sometimes, but sometimes our plans go largely the way we thought and God totally orchestrates that. You have the Holy Spirit of God inside you. Sometimes you pray and go with what your heart (or gut if you prefer) is telling you. You shouldn’t be afraid of making a wrong choice though. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is in control and He is working things out for your good. The other good news is that the longer you walk with the Lord, like any relationship, you get a better feel for listening. So take heart and keep asking.
“There’s this idea that sex is inherently wrong. That is not true, never was true and never will be true.
My wife has a birthday coming up and we have a cake. The guys and I could go eat it right now, but that’s not the deal. We have the meal and the party and there’s a whole thing, and that’s the proper time for the cake. That doesn’t make the cake evil.”—
-Glen Fitzjerrell (aka Unka Glen) on episode 8 of Say That
This question has been on my mind for awhile. How as a Christian do I accept people from other faiths? I’ve never really had a problem with other religions, and I don’t think they’re wrong.
It is certainly an important question, and one that there is a lot of noise around. Let’s start here: I do think that they are wrong. That does not mean non-christians are evil or lesser or deserve disrespect. It just means: I believe there is such a thing as objective truth, and it is basic Christian doctrine (Life and death of Jesus, the Resurrection, Holy Spirit, etc). And yet, I still believe that people of other faiths (or people with no faith) are to be treated with respect and I am called by the Lord to love them. I say this to point out that you do not have to make a choice between being a jerk or backpedaling from your faith.
One of the most basic principles we have at The Bridge is: you have to give respect to get respect. So if you want basic respect from people of other faiths, whether to eventually talk to them about the Lord or just for the sake of coexistence, the best and quickest way to get that is to be respectful of them first. Have you seen the pictures of the Egyptian Christians protecting muslims during prayer in Tahrir Square? That is the epitome of loving and respecting your fellow human beings’ religious choice.
Like so much jerky behavior, a lot of religious intolerance has its basis in insecurity. If you believe what we as Christians do: that the Holy Spirit inhabits us, that we are part of the body of the risen Lord Jesus Christ who conquered death, then why does someone believing something else threaten you to the point that you are angry? If you are secure in what you believe, then you don’t have to be aggressive towards people. You can be in a place where you can say “this is what I’m on, it is between me and God and if you don’t want any part of it, then that’s cool”.
As is the case with many complex issues, the answer is based in simplicity. The golden rule of treat people the way you want to be treated is the way to go. If you didn’t know the way to saved and someone else did, you would want them to share that right? But you would want them to do that in a respectful and non-condescending or judgmental way, and if you said “no thanks” you would want them to respect that. It all starts with respect.
I go to a Christian school in the Chicago area and this past month I’ve felt this distaste for some of the people on campus as far as the way that they let there faith be known. Posting things 24/7 about how God is changing their lives and how we need to convict non believers on campus. I feel like they’re vying for attention from other Christians and it bugs me. And it’s not our job to convict people it’s God’s job. I just need some advice on this because I don’t want to blind myself with this.
I think your totally right that the behavior you are describing is pretty ridiculous, and you are totally on point that these folks are probably trying to out-holy each other. The question of what you should do about it is a little tricky. Sometimes you have to let people make there own mistakes. Writing about your spiritual growth on your Facebook is a little odd, but at the end of the day it is probably not that harmful. In these situations it is important to draw the line between something that bugs me personally and something that is wrong. I would say your best bet is to hide them in your feed and go about your business. In the same way it is not our job to convict people, it is not our job to humble people, that’s up to the Lord.
Now as for the convicting non-believers on campus, this is trouble. First of all for the reason you rightly point out: we are called to love people and share our faith, not convict people and shove our faith at them. It’s also bad because if someone is a non-believer who goes to a Christian college, odds are that their defenses are up as it is and probably for good reason. There are probably people on your campus who have been hurt by church folks, and having some folks roll up and try to guilt them back to Jesus is not going to go well. Getting to know those folks and their stories and issues and loving on them will do some amazing work, so that could be where you come in as a brother who gets is.
The other unsavory thing about being so worried about converting people on your campus (who have no interest in being converted) is that you live in a giant city with tons of people who are dying to hear that they are important to God and that He wants them. There are jails, shelters, rehab centers, youth centers, etc all around the city of Chicago that would love to have some nice young Christians come serve and love their people. So if your classmates are so fired up and want to do some good for the Kingdom, try rerouting their enthusiasm to these wide open avenues. Hopefully they will jump at the opportunity, or at least have to face if they are wanting to actually serve the Lord, or just look good to other Christians.
We wanted to thank everyone who played, downloaded, like and reblogged Jed’s song “The Easy Part is Hard”. We heard from several folks how encouraging it was to know they are not alone in struggling to accept that God loves them.
“It’s hard, but you have to enforce your boundaries. When you set a boundary, people in your life (particularly people in addiction) will test it, on purpose. You have to fire down a nuclear blast level response to that. They will call you all kinds of nasty names, but here is what comes out on the other side of that: begrudging respect.”—
I’m the only Christian in my family and I really want to witness to them, but they make it really hard. My mom enjoys pulling me into drama that has nothing to do with me, and turns every conversation to be about her. I remain calm, but it’s like she’s trying to pull an argument out of me and reacts irrationally, making me feel like a bad kid, which I’m definitely not. How do I guard my heart and still minister to them?
I totally understand your situation. I am the only Christian in my family too. It is a very tricky situation to have that kind of disconnect with your parents, especially while living under their roof.
One important thing to remember is: you have no special responsibility to witness to them just because they are your family. Obviously you want them to come to know the Lord because you love them, but they are not your default mission field. Even Jesus’s family misunderstood what He was about to the extent that they thought He was crazy. And on some level, it is understandable how it is hard to give weight to the world view of someone whose diapers you changed. The good news is, there is a way to witness to your family without getting drug down.
The best thing you can do for yourself, and your family, is to take the steps to make your walk with the Lord as strong as possible. The reason the Bible says to guard your heart is “it is the wellspring of life”. You having a deep, vibrant relationship with Jesus may be the thing that peeks your family member’s interest that there may be something to this God thing. It’s a similar to what Paul says to wives who are converted but still married to non-believing husbands, you being serious in your walk and loving to your family is the best way to try to win them to the Lord. That is not a guarantee it will happen, but it is the best strategy.
One of the best ways to show that something has changed in you is not to get bogged down in drama, especially if you come from a dramatic households. That’s not to say that anytime you get sucked into it you are failing, there is grace;but as you pull away from those petty behaviors, your family will likely respect that. The good news is, the best thing you can do is to take care of your own relationship with the Lord.
Say That is seriously the MOST FREAKING AMAZING Podcast ever! If it weren’t for you guys, I don’t know where I’d be in my walk with the Lord. I love how simple, straight up, and loving your advice is! Not to mention hilarious. You all are seriously a bunch of rockstars. PLEASE keep it up! You guys have no idea how God has used yall to change peoples’ lives. Thank you so much and God bless you all<3”—
How do you know what God’s will is for your life? People tell me peace is a sign. But from experience I feel like God calls us to step out of our comfort zone.
I think you make a very shrewd, and accurate, observation that peace and comfort are different things. So the question is, what’s the difference? Well I think comfort is tangible. In whatever arena, be it threadcount or care ride quality or money in the bank, there tends to be a metric available for comfort. Peace is a more difficult to define, and it often boils down to “you know it when you feel it”. So it’s frustrating to nail down, but it is also highly useful in discerning God’s will.
Philippians 4:7 says that the peace of God “transcends all understanding”. That’s a wonderful phrase. When I took the job I have at The Bridge, it meant getting in my crappy car and driving 500 miles from the little town in Tennessee that I grew up in to Chicago, in January. Very little about that made sense to my family (who don’t know the Lord), but it made total sense to my dear friends and mentors who were walking with Jesus, and I also had peace about it. I had read the scriptures about going out with the gospel and serving the least of these (which The Bridge does). I had prayed extensively about it, as had my bosses Glen and Jed; and I had that peace that passed understanding.
There isn’t an exact formula for how to know God’s will. Peace (in the true sense of the term) is a good factor, as of course are prayer, seeking advice from older Christians, and reading the word. Here is one thing to keep in mind: God is in control, and works everything for our good, therefore the right decision is the one you make. Take this example: if God’s plan is for you to be a missionary in China, you are going to end up there. If, on the other hand, that is not the plan for your life, you can book as many plane tickets to Beijing as you want, but it’s not going to happen. The key is to be open to the opportunities and course corrections along the way.
So, I know, as Christians, we should be open minded and caring to others feelings and beliefs. What do we do when friends ask about existence of aliens and things like that?
There is great power in the phrase “I don’t know”. You are not under any obligation to know everything about everything. The important thing is to know what you believe, and even within that to keep it to the basics. The apostle Paul said that he preached “Christ and him crucified”. Things like aliens are obviously a thing that you don’t have any way to know about, and it doesn’t matter in the least in regards to salvation. So the best response to questions like that is “I don’t know”.
I know it might seem odd admit ignorance of things when you are trying to express that your way of seeing the world is the correct one. We, as Christians, aren’t trying to convince people of the thoroughness of a philosophy. We are just letting people know the story of what Jesus has done for us. Of course to get a grasp of that, we have to understand the basics of sin and the cross and the Holy Spirit, but you don’t need to know everything. In fact it can be paralyzing thinking that you have to know everything about Biblical translation, theology, and Church history, much less extraterrestrial life to talk about Jesus,.
If someone has a question about the Council of Nicea, or the Trinity or what have you, then you can follow up “I don’t know” with “but I can ask someone/google it/try to find out”. If you are telling someone about the free gift that Jesus offers: that they can be forgiven, free, have a relationship with their creator and spend eternity with Him, and they respond “yeah, but how do aliens fit into that?”, then they are not it a place to hear that news. Which is okay. If and when they are seeking, you will have a lot more credibility if you are honest about what you don’t know instead of claiming knowledge of everything, And it is a lot simpler.
“The thing about a break up is that it is kinda similar to a death. You pictured yourself married and having kids and the whole thing. So you’ve got this past that you experienced and this future you’ve foreseen, and now all of that is gone. And the thing about a death is you have to mourn it, and give yourself permission to. Some days you are just going to get sad and that’s it. And it’s okay to be sad and not try to orchestrate or manipulate your own emotions.”—
Glen Fitzjerrell (Unka Glen) on episode 7 of Say That.
Luke 10:27 says to give your all to God, and to love your neighbour as yourself. Apparently I am dishonouring these two things. I HATE myself…. But does that mean I am fully incapable of loving others? Because I consider myself a loving person.
The exact quote (from the NIV) is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself”. That can sound like a big task, but look closer. It doesn’t say that you have to output a certain amount, just what you have. There are plenty of days that I don’t have very much strength or mind to give, and that’s ok with Jesus.
The context of this verse is that an expert in the law has asked Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus answered by asking him how he reads the law. Luke 10:27 is his response, which Jesus says is correct. Next the man asks who his neighbor is, which prompts Jesus to tell the parable of the good samaritan. Verse 29 says the reason the man asked that question because “he wanted to justify himself.” I think what that means is that this guy wanted an assignment, and a hard one. He was a smart guy, a religious guy and he felt like he was coming up short and he wanted Jesus to tell him the reason for that was that the task before him was so hard. So when the answer was so simple that he already knew it, it was startling.
The correct understanding of the gospel will set you free. It won’t always make you happy in the moment, or put a song in your heart, but it will set you free. So if something about the gospel is oppressing you, then there has been a misunderstanding or only a partial understanding. You seem to be of the assumption that you don’t feel good about yourself, so you don’t feel capable of loving others well enough, therefore you are failing God. Like I said earlier, you can’t fail God, because God doesn’t have a level you have to hit. Struggling with low self esteem does not mean you can’t love others. As a matter of fact serving others is a great way to start to feel better. Listening, helping, and serving will mean you are acting out Jesus’ command to give all you have.
Part of the problem seems to also be that it is easier to believe that God is mad at you than to be believe He is madly in love with you. You are not alone in that. In fact, our own Jed Brewer wrote a song about that struggle called “The Easy Part is Hard”, check it out.
“Psalm 139 says that God made you the way that He made you, and gave you the body he gave you, on purpose, because He likes you the way that you are. Then the world looks at that and says, ‘yeah, but who wins?’.”—
I have a friend who is… awful, bit has alot of potential as a Christian. I’ve tried my best to witness to them, but I just don’t seem to get through to them no matter what. They usually just complicate things between me and so of my other friends at church because they don’t want me hanging out with people they don’t like, and most of the drama is their fault. At what point do I just leave witnessing to someone else and focus on building friendships that might help me in my Christian walk?
I commend your desire to witness to your friend, and it certainly seems like your heart is in the right place, but this situation doesn’t sound like it is good for anyone involved. Your friend isn’t getting saved, your Christian friends are acting a fool, and you are stuck in the middle and drained.
Witnessing does not mean converting someone. The simplest form of witnessing is letting someone know you are a Christian, and then acting like it. Obviously it is also telling someone about the gospel, but there is an element of timing to that. The Lord turns people’s hearts, not us. He might use us and we need to be ready for that, but you can’t force it. If your friend doesn’t want to hear about Christ’s offer of eternal life as a free gift, I guarantee someone else in your immediate orbit probably does. That doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them, or that you should stop being yourself as a Christian around them, it just means you aren’t going to pour your effort into what is (at the moment) a dead end road. That doesn’t mean your friend is a bad person, or that you are giving up on them, it just means nothing is happening right now.
As far as focusing on friendships that build your walk, that is something you constantly need to be doing. The right way to share the love of Jesus is when you are so full of it that it overflows, not when you are pouring out your supply. Even people in professional ministry have to huddle together frequently to keep each other going. You need a strong community of believers around you in order to be an effective minister of the gospel, and there is no shame in taking time to nurture those relationships first and foremost.
Last summer I went on a mission trip to Northern Ireland (no, not vacation) and God totally rocked my world and I fell in love with the people there and the way God is moving in their midst. I haven’t been the same since and haven’t stopped feeling a deep yearning to go back. I have the opportunity to go again this summer, but with college starting in the fall, some people are telling me it’s irresponsible and I need to save the money. The calling I felt is conflicted now. How do I decide?
Well it is certainly a good thing to budget your money well, it can save you a lot of stress down the line. Especially freshman year of college, which is when you make some decisions and form habits with money that you might carry with you for a long time. For Christians, one of the unhealthy attitudes towards money is to treat it provides security. The idea a lot of people have is that if you have enough money in your savings account, then you are safe from circumstance. This can lead to treating money as kind of an idol.
God is the source of both our money and our security, but he does not necessarily provide the one through the other.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear cut answer to your specific situation. Obviously doing missions work is a good thing, and the experience is worth spending money on. There are however, degrees within that. If this trip means you would be eating ramen noodles three meals a day and sleeping in a tent for your first year of college, then that may not be what the Lord is leading you to do. The Lord has a lot of cool ways for you to serve Him at school, and you may be more equipped to do that with resources you were going to spend on the trip.
So you have to weigh out those factors and look at your options. Prayer is the route you need to take. Pray for the Lord to give you peace about one of these roads. And take comfort in the idea that there really is no wrong option here. There will be other trips or you can find a way to make ends meet next year at school. When you are younger, it is easy to feel like you have to take every opportunity that comes your way, but a relationship with Jesus is a long haul situation and that fact should provide peace.
How far is too far when it comes to a relationship before marriage and how exactly should boundaries be set?
It is important to have the right mindset in drawing these boundaries. The goal is not “how much stuff can I get away with before I am officially sinning”. It should be about trying to strengthen your relationship so it can eventually do what it is supposed to do, help you serve God together better than you could separately. The motivation should be love, for God and for your partner. Love will keep you in line in ways that fear has no chance of doing. You shouldn’t be trying to avoid sin, you should be trying to live out righteousness.
There is no one size fits all rule for where the boundaries are in relationships. There are some obvious things that are no goes: anything involving what the British refer to as “the gentlemen’s area” (or lady area). As far as less severe things, that is something you have to discuss with your significant other. Some people don’t kiss before their wedding night, that’s one way to go, but it’s not necessarily extra strength holy dating. If you really want a strict line, the best I’ve heard is what my pastor told his kids: keep your tongue in your mouth and your hands to yourself.
How should boundaries be set? Early and clearly. It’s probably not the easiest conversation to have; but if you can’t have an honest conversation about your boundaries with someone, why are you in a relationship with them to begin with? I think the barrier that stops the boundaries conversation, other than awkwardness, is the idea that it’s unromantic. Which is ridiculous. A guy telling his girlfriend, “The most important thing in my life is loving God, and now loving you well is part of that. We need to talk about what makes us happy and comfortable, and once we do I am going to be in charge of keeping us strong in that. Until we get married, at which point, it is all the way on.” is Godly, manly, and romantic as it gets.
I really appreciated what you had to say about depression in episode 5 of the podcast. So many times I hear people say that all I need to get out of mental illness is God. While I do believe God can heal us from anything most of the time I think he prefers healing us through competent doctors. I liked how you were very open and honest about the issue instead of trying to talk around it. Thanks for that!
Thank You Emmie! The Say That crew has certainly never been accused of being overly delicate or avoiding anything. I can speak for all of us when I say that we are thrilled that you liked it. And also that you are absolutely right that one of the ways God brings healing is by giving professionals wisdom and expertise.
I feel ashamed about what is happening to me. I’ve been feeling very distant from God. Every time I see Bible verses, hear the Gospel, or even hear Jesus’ name I don’t want to listen to it. I’ve fallen out of my relationship with God. I don’t want this anymore. I really want God back in my life. Please pray for me. I ask for advice.
Shame and guilt are brutal cycles that we can easily catch ourselves falling into. You feel shame for something, so the shame keeps you from going to God, and then you feel ashamed about not going to God, and then you think that going to God would only increase the shame. If it goes for long enough, you fall into a place where guilt is the only emotion you associate with Jesus. But your emotions do not dictate reality to you.
So the advice I would give you is that you have to go to Jesus, even you feel like you can’t, especially then. That’s the way to crack through those emotions, because your shame is rooted in how you think God feels about you. If you are ashamed about your behavior, it stands to reason that you think God would be ashamed of you too, but that is not the case. God loves you. You know God loves you, that’s what drew you to HIm in the first place and it is what is drawing you back to Him. Things like fellowship, worship and reading the Bible are going to remind you of that, because it is the truth. You just have to push through that initial unease.
You aren’t alone. We all struggle with remembering how God feels about us. A lot of us struggle with seeing ourselves as lovable, and a lot of times we aren’t. That’s the miracle of grace. We are loved, loved perfectly, even when we don’t feel like that is possible.
Another tool in your bag in this struggle is a song that Jed Brewer wrote about it called “The Easy Part is Hard”. Grab it on iTunes and get that in your earbuds.
What if I'm not "Christian" enough for Christian College?
Hi! I’m a senior in high school and I’ve been accepted to some great colleges already, but I’m very interested in Wheaton College (IL) which I will hear back from April 1st. I wasn’t raised as a Christian, and I began to pursue God on my own around age 16. I truly want to know the Lord more and want college to be a time of spiritual growth, but I also have some reservations. I’m scared of not being “Christian” enough in comparison to the other students. Could you give me any advice? Thank you!
Let me start off with the biggest selling point Wheaton has: it is quite close to THE BRIDGE. Glen (Unka Glen) actually speaks at Wheaton every now and then, and we have had Wheaton folks come volunteer at THE BRIDGE before. You could be a part of that line of free labor…er, volunteerism.
I understand your fear. I met the Lord at 16 as well, and I was way behind on church. Here’s the thing, nobody ever gave me any crap about it. It was just part of my story, the same way it’s part of yours. While, yes it does present some challenges, it also gives you a different perspective from people who have been in Church their whole life.
An outsider’s perspective can be very helpful in a ministry context. People have a way of doing things a certain way because that’s just the way it’s done. You don’t necessarily know how it’s supposed to be done, and that means you can see things differently. That’s especially valuable in a church/ministry context, because sometimes people don’t really know why we do things that way to begin with.
I can’t guarantee that everyone will see the value that your path to the Lord affords you. Here’s what I can guarantee you: anyone who is going to look down on you for that has done you the great favor of identifying themselves as someone whose opinion you don’t have to pay attention to. You are no less saved than anyone else, and the Holy Spirit is no less alive in you than in anyone else. Knowledge in the Lord is a wonderful thing and very useful, if it is added to a humble and teachable spirit. You are going to school seeking the Lord and looking to be used, then that’s what God wants of you. You are Christian enough for Jesus, and that is the only opinion that matters.
“People talk about the depravity of man and that the heart is deceitful above all things. The Bible points to that and that is true, but it’s not meant to lead you to a place of constantly second guessing yourself. If you are a Christian, there is a new power at work inside you. You still have a sinful nature, but that’s not all of you. The Spirit of God himself is at work in you.”—
I’m confused about having a gay friend. Well, she’s happy on it. And I think I’m happy for her too. But I sometimes ask myself if I should really be happy for her, knowing that the Bible doesn’t approve.
Here is a strategy that has never worked in the history of ministry: “hey that thing that makes you happy, it’s bad and you’re bad”. If someone said that to you about anything, would you be interested in hearing anymore of what they have to say? Of course not. Now, the strategy of “I don’t agree with everything you do, but I love you anyway” is incredibly powerful. If someone was living that out, I would be open to hearing what they have to say. That’s what Jesus did on Earth, He loved people who were being told they were unlovable. That certainly didn’t translate to approving of everything they did: lying, cheating, committing adultery, etc but it was His love that drew the crowds and turned the hearts. The Cross was an act of love, not guilt or shame.
There are a great number of things that the Bible disapproves of. Many of them that I do on a daily basis according to the Sermon on the Mount. But Jesus loves me anyway, and He is going to love me through those things. He is not going to tell me to beat it and don’t come back until I feel as bad as someone thinks I should. If you want to treat your friend the way Jesus would have, love her.
It is not our job to convince people of their sin, that is the Holy Spirit’s job. And no one gives up something out of guilt or argument. They give it up because it’s not working for them anymore. Trying to convince someone that something is evil will only serve to destroy that relationship. So the best strategy is to do your job, the loving, and let the Holy Spirit do his.