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Simply complex

Simply complex

A few weeks ago, several of my family members and friends volunteered to assist a church hosting VBS (Vacation Bible School). This particular VBS was slightly different; it was for foster kids. The foster parents are required to take 12 hours of mandatory conference/training by the state, annually. Therefore, the church would conduct VBS for the kids, while the parents attended their annual session. I volunteered to help with the youth.

I was a youth intern for a couple of years and, at one point, an interim youth pastor. Needless to say, I enjoy seeing God move through the lives of teenagers. This particular weekend was no exception.

Throughout the weekend of VBS, we would break from the get-to-know-you games, for a session in scripture. The kids were somewhat shy, which was to be expected, and we would ask questions to get them involved. Basic, conversation starters.

The first session went smoothly. The second session covered the parable of the Good Samaritan. This is where I was quickly humbled.

Jesus tells how only the Samaritan stopped on the road and helped the beaten and naked man. Then the Samaritan brought him into town, fed him, clothed him and provided for him a place to stay.

This was a pure and selfless example of treating others as you would like to be treated.

Most people, kids more than others, think in the simplest of terms. 1 + 1 = 2. Cause and effect. Therefore, I posed the question to the group: “Why would the Samaritan stop for the man? What was his drive?”

Now, I enjoy theology. I enjoy delving into God’s Word, so deep that it helps me grow in my relationship with Christ. Sometimes, however, the basics/essentials of the Gospel and our faith through Christ completely shatter my need to deeply analyze the complex intricacies of God. As I asked the question, my mind begins to churn with the understanding of sanctification, atonement of sin, Paul’s battle of “the old law” and faith and obedience.

I pondered on all these things. My mind was swiftly overtaken by a truth so gripping and tragic that everything surrounding me fell into nothingness.

One of the kids responded to the question: “To inherit the kingdom of God.”

Shattered. What a fool I am. What a self-replicating virus of self-centeredness I am. All of my boastful knowledge of scripture and spiritual understanding is a trophy to be mocked. In that moment, I was not frustrated or regretful at the cause of my spiritual understanding, nor at the deeper understanding I have been granted through and in Jesus Christ, but rather at the prideful collection of theological trophies I display in my own mind. What a mockery.

“To inherit the kingdom of God.” Struck down by the words of a teenager is a humbling, and annoying experience in itself. But when reminded of the power of the complex and yet simplistic truth of the Gospel, it becomes words of rest, realignment, and humility. Do not, for even one second, assume that the Gospel is so complex that its limits coincide with your own thought process. The Lord’s plan for you to inherit His kingdom is vast and simple at the same time. I pray you continue to hunger for him.

I won’t clap, just because you say so.

I won’t clap, just because you say so.

There is something about simply being in the presence of God that is contagiously joyful. Whether it’s in a Bible study group or listening to someone’s testimony or Sunday morning worship at church. The more I experience God’s presence, the more I want to praise Him through my joy.

The easiest form of worship, in my opinion, is singing. I don’t deny that exercising love, kindness or even praying require little effort (for the most part). I do, however, find the avenue of singing to maximize my worship in little-to-no time.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoy worship through singing on Sunday mornings. Not only is it a time to praise our Father, but it is also a time of preparation and longing to hear what God has in store from the words of the pastor. A humility of the heart, as it were.

Several years ago, my church back home acquired a new music minister. He was received without hesitation and welcomed into the fold of the church family. The first Sunday, and many thereafter, he would instruct the Sunday morning gathering to praise God and proceed to clap and cheer. However, the words he used were awkward, and I felt almost forced to clap and cheer under duress. I felt conflicted. Why was I resisting, showing physical praise to the Father of my salvation?

This object of affection is nothing new or isolated. Many other churches promote the same, almost pressing, response in worship.

Romans 12:1-2 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  

Several times in Scripture we see reference to the mindset at the core of worshiping. It starts with the Gospel and proceeds to the longing and hunger for the presence of God. Consistently, I pray and sometimes weep for the ability to maximize my worship to almighty God.

I have come to learn, by God’s grace, the reason for my lament.

Happiness is not the equivalent of joy. For example, watching football on TV makes me happy. Watching a good movie, makes me happy. Eating a delicious ribeye, makes me happy. Clapping because I’m at church should not be “happy.”

My praise to Christ Jesus is not reliant on how happy I am. My praise is the convicting, and very least, response to having been redeemed. It is quantifiably minute compared to His sacrifice. We are not appointed as His children to be “happy” about Sunday morning church. We are to be filled with joy in view of God’s mercy!

To view a Sunday morning church service as happy and filled with clapping-on-que is not only poisonous, but unbiblical. Lassoing football and movies and ribeyes and Christ’s sacrifice into the same category is false teaching.

Living in a culture that promotes tolerance, and praises self-absorption, will seep into every aspect of your walk with Christ and understanding of the Gospel, if you let it. The Apostle Paul had several instances where he battled with the same traditionalism and culture impact. Do not stray from the Gospel in order to react to an emotion. Return to the understanding, the love, and the grace of Christ. Clapping and shouting have their place when in response to praising God for His love and ultimate sacrifice. As long as they aren’t the sole response of simply being in a building with other Christians.

Don’t clap and shout because you’re “supposed to.” Instead, worship through the understanding of the Gospel. I pray you continue to hunger for Him.



I read an article recently, exploring the economic growth of Bricktown, the entertainment district of Oklahoma City. The article spoke about how Bricktown may be gradually becoming “overly saturated.” Apartment complexes, restaurants, theater and music venues have all been a major part of the hot spot’s growth, both culturally and economically.

When I think of fun, I’m reminded of my Grandpa. He has a saying that I’ve heard several times growing up “We don’t ever get tired of having fun.” A phrase spoken, as if it were a royal decree, when we were to go and get ice cream or go for a burger. My siblings and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, we were about to have fun. All of the day’s boring or monotonous tasks were all soon to fade away with that simple proclamation.

So the question has to be asked. Is it possible to have “too much fun”? Is it possible to overly saturate an area of our city known to be a place for fun? Perhaps we take the question even further and apply it to our spiritual walk. Is it possible to have too much of Christ in our lives?

Instinctually, as followers of Christ, the answer is “no.” How you could have too much of Christ in your life? If anything, we crave and pray for more of Christ in our life. This, I believe, is the difference between a secular approach and a Christian approach to saturation.

In this world, we can always have too much fun. If every day I woke up to grandpa’s proverb of “…never having too much fun.” That’s exactly what would happen.

Two things eventually surface. 1) Soon the burgers and ice cream would become the boring and monotonous chores we were escaping in the first place. 2) Our time with grandpa would be completely hindered by the ugly view of the now “task-full” errands. Grandpa would be someone we avoided, instead of admired.

Galatians 5:16-17 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Our craving for Christ may be similar to the secular world for the fact that we always want more and enjoy what we receive. But praise God, the overly abundant amount of love and grace we receive can never satisfy! Overly-saturated-earthly fun is, by all accounts, attainable and self-destructive.

Saturating every corner of your life with scripture, prayer, learning more about the Gospel is our desire, our worship, and our fulfillment of faith. Cast aside earthly desires that attempt to infect the relationship with The Almighty.

“We don’t ever get tired of having fun” will always hold a special place in my life. I’m glad it has new meaning for my life with Christ. I pray that the presence of Christ never ceases to make you hungry for more.

It’s God’s Plan And Not Mine

It’s God’s Plan And Not Mine

The infamous phrase we’ve all heard before “It’s part of God’s plan.” I use the term “infamous” primarily because we as Christians seem to hear or use that term when something bad has happened. When we lose a loved one, an accident occurs, a tornado strikes our neighborhood, or a fire takes our home. As words of encouragement we rely on the promise that God can use these occurrences for his glory. We tell each other “…It’s all part of God’s plan.” Which is true, even if we don’t want to hear it right away. Tough times occur, our focus instinctively shifts from “God’s plan” to “Man, this just stinks.” Hence, “infamous”.

Many times, as we learn to understand Scripture, it does not become relevant to our lives…until its relevant. Paul’s teaching to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 15:12) describes Paul touching on the subject of the Gospel at its core – dealing with an apparent issue of doubting the resurrection of Christ. As we try to understand the relevance of the passage to our lives days, months, or even years go by. A co-worker or fellow believer brings up the same discussion, and we are able to apply what we’ve learned in 1 Corinthians. Then we are able to grasp the phrase “Not relevant until it’s relevant.”

Recently in the news, a massive company filed for bankruptcy, potentially costing hundreds of people their jobs. A large enough company that many employees considered it their career, and not just a job. Retirements, health coverage, savings, all at risk. Now, some of these employees will probably hear those infamous words “…It’s all part of God’s plan.” Not immediately soothing in a stressful situation, but Scripture tells us that it is none the less true. Here is the joy we are able to embrace…It’s all part of God’s plan!

No matter the choices we make, good or bad. No matter the economic climb or fall. No matter how many times the fault lies on others or ourselves. It IS God’s plan. You can take joy in the fact that none of this life is up to you to conquer. Whether we succeed or fall flat on our faces, it’s all part of God’s plan.

Salvation in Christ is not limited to what we can do for ourselves. Instinctively we try to fix things, thinking “Dude, I’ve read the meme’s on the internet. I can do anything because today is a new day.” The biggest and most destructive lie today is when we tell ourselves that we are capable of accomplishing anything based on our own self-worth. If that were true, what is the point of salvation? We can’t even go through life without making bad decisions, how are we then to be able to purify our own sins?

The next time someone you know, or don’t know, is going through a crisis; introduce a new meme-able phrase. The Truth that is the Gospel through salvation in Christ is our comfort, as Christians. When times get rough and the unthinkable happens, like losing your job to bankruptcy, the joy is in the overwhelming peace found in the phrase “It’s all part of God’s plan.”­­­