Emotionally Fat but Spiritually Famished

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving home from Church. We pulled into our driveway, stepped out in our nicer clothes, guitar in-hand, and proceeded to walk up the driveway.

For some context, there’s a church across the street from us, so there are usually cars parked beside the road sunday morning.

Anyways, an older lady was walking back to her vehicle and she noticed us.
Seeing our clothes and guitar she deduced we had come from church. She asked us if we had, and we said that we just came back. Her reply at that point was something that’s stuck in my heart for weeks now, not so much for her motives (which i’m sure were pure), but rather for the deeper significance behind it.

What were her words you ask? Just two – “Good job!”

Why is this significant? Because, as a Christian, going to church isn’t a “good job”. Church was never meant to be something that you do once a week, you get a pat on the back, and then you live your week like the rest of the world (Colossians 3). Stepping foot in a building doesn’t automatically make you a Christian, or even a “good” christian, if there ever was one (Romans 3).

The real question is “what is a Christian”?

-The American churchis emotionally fatbut spiritually famished-.jpgThis american “christianity” has shaped us into a lifestyle of comfort, materialism, and godlessness under the guise of “i-go-to-church-a-few-times-a-month-so-im-a-christian” mentality. This is not Christianity. The buttery-smooth speakers who entice the flesh with little regard for Christ and him crucified. Never mentioning death to self, never mentioning that you could die for being a christian, only plopping you down in a seat and allowing you to consume until you’re emotionally fat and spiritually famished.

And before i’m misunderstood, attending church is VERY important in the Christian life. Or, i should rephrase, meeting at a church house and having fellowship with THE Church is essential to the christian life (Hebrews 10:24-26).

From scripture, there’s an interesting connection that i noticed while teaching the 7th and 8th graders a few weeks back. I asked a trick question, “what’s the difference between a christian, and a disciple?”.

***dead silence***

Me – “Nothing!”

If you are a Christian you will be a disciple. Matthew 28:19 equated sharing the gospel with making disciples. It’s not different. If you want to see people saved you MUST see them discipled. It’s not a “come to the front” moment, it’s a “lay down your life, give everything you have, and submit to a Christ into a life of godliness”. This doesn’t sound comfortable!

We want our cars, our houses, our boats! We want security! But Christ says to lay them at his feet. Don’t cling to them. Having a house or most anything isn’t sinful. But our hearts can so easily entice us into relying on them for our joy rather than Christ.

As one of my favorite songs says “You possess your possessions or they posses you” (Switchfoot – “If the House Burns Down Tonight”).

And I think that’s the danger of so called american Christianity. We love being comfortable, rich, and fat, more then we love Jesus. And this is an eternal error.

Sure, there’s a whole lot more to being a christian then what I’ve mentioned, but I want to make this clear – If you are a Christian, you are a disciple, and you are to die to yourself and make disciples. Don’t neglect fellowship with the saints. Don’t just go, sit down, and leave. Fellowship is building each other up, maybe encouraging, maybe rebuking.

But either way. I think the American mindset of Christianity has it all wrong.

So, as you see the myriad of people coming in tomorrow for Easter Sunday, welcome them with open, loving arms. But don’t sugar coat the gospel message. The Christian life isn’t easy, but it’s so very worth it.


Key Verses:

Matthew 28:19

Colossians 3
Hebrews 10:24-26

 

 

 

A Radical Response To the Gospel

As I was studying to teach the 7th and 8th grade lesson on Acts 19, I was struck with the Ephesian people’s response to a horrifying discovery: Their pagan magicians could not contend with the power of Jesus.

The sons of Sceva (the pagan magicians) were meddling in places they shouldn’t have been meddling. They saw all the wonders that Paul was saying and doing in Ephesus, and thought that all they needed to do was invoke the name of Jesus, and maybe they too would be able to command demons and heal the sick.

In verse 13 they try to command a demon, but what happened to them would horrify anyone who found their hope in pagan worship. The demon literally said “Jesus I know, Paul I recognize, but who are you?” and proceeded to beat them and strip them and send them running.

So now the high and mighty sons of sceva were brought low by the power of satan. And all the people finally understood – these men do NOT have the answers.

Though i’m taking some liberty, i can imagine the people were comparing the two people – Paul and the disciples vs. the sons of Sceva. The two don’t even compare! One can command demons and heal the sick in Jesus’ name, and the other? Well, they get beat to a pulp for even trying. Based on the response of the Ephesians, I can imagine they listened to what Paul was preaching and many of them believed.

The power of the gospel is greater than we realize. The transformative power in the hearts of people as a result of the gospel is apparent in this passage. They ended up burning 50,000 pieces of silver’s worth of pagan books! That’s right around $5,000,000 worth of idolatry.

That’s the equivalent to:

  • 185 Ford 2018 F-150 Trucks
  • 12,500 GoPro Hero 5 Blacks
  • or, 6,501 iPhone 7 Plus’s

As Christ said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. I think the Ephesian people who believed the Gospel were beginning an act of repentance in burning this paganism out of their lives.

This echoed in the ears of the silversmiths, who crafted the idols. They would lose their livelihood, so what did they do? Well, they were going to lose their pride and money, so they rioted and chanted godless things. Sound familiar?

All this to say, a radical gospel changes people radically. You can’t have one foot in the world and one foot in holiness. You’re either being swept away in sin’s current, or your swimming against it in the Spirit’s power.

Do I have that ‘crazy’, ‘foolish’, ‘radicalized’ faith that the world looks down upon? Am i friends with the world? Or have i renounced my pagan practices (or maybe, addiction to money, entertainment, etc.) and allowed God to burn them out of my life?

The Bible makes clear that true disciples of Jesus make disciples, and look radically different from the world. Is this true of us?

Teaching Teaches Me

I’ve had the privilege to teach in different capacities at my local church, both in Breakpoint (teens) and Trek (7-8th grade). This experience has taught (and is teaching me) many different things!

I think when us young guys are asked to speak (if we haven’t done it much) we have a burden on our heart, and we think in the back of our head (rather pridefully), “wow, this is going to be great!”. And then we start studying and realize that teaching and speaking takes work.

Whenever i listen to Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, John Piper, or any other great speaker, I admire their work. hand-977641_1280I admire how well they speak and how God uses their messages. Their gift comes so naturally.

But The Holy Spirit reminded me that comparison will only hinder me from being used effectively. When I think of a great sermon by Tim Keller i think of a biblical, thought-provoking message with a beautiful tie-in to the gospel that brings everything home at the end.

In comparison, my novice experience has led me to be nervous for the first two minutes, confidently inexperienced for the middle, and then roughly tying the gospel in at the end.

But as one of my pastors has reminded me: Don’t be Keller, Piper, or anyone else. Be Nolan. Preach how God’s leading Nolan today. That’s a great reminder for me. Comparison is a great thief of joy, and a joyless message is easily spotted from afar.

So now God’s just teaching me to be me when i speak. Stop comparing. Be faithful to the text, preach from the heart, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Motivation For Sharing the Truth

As a preface to this post I’d like to make note of my firm belief in God’s complete sovereignty over salvation and the means of drawing people to himself (Romans 9, Ephesians 1). In said means there are believers like you and I called to make disciples of all nations, which includes both preaching the gospel and discipling them after salvation. I’m delving into one of those means today: Motivation for our evangelism.

I’ve always felt that there needs to be a more complete motivation when we share the gospel. I don’t think it helps our confidence or our witness to share the gospel strictly because of guilt. Though guilt can spur us to go and do something, it can’t be our only motivation.

I think it goes back to what we’re sharing. We’re sharing the gospel, the call to man everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation. That’s huge! It’s the greatest possible thing to tell anyone. And I think that’s where we disconnect. We think this really is good news, but we’ll tell people because it makes our guilty consciences feel better.

And that’s how I feel a lot. I feel like sharing the gospel is a Christian chore rather than a glorious privilege. And i know that’s my flesh talking.meeting-1293980_1280.png

I see in my own life that when I feel guilt as my motivations for sharing the gospel, it feels superficial and uncaring. I want to tell people to make me feel better, not for the regeneration of someone’s soul. My own selfishness makes me blurt out some short incomplete gospel snippet and then walk away thinking I smugly met
some evangelism quota for that day.

The only remedy I’ve seen in my life is to have complete satisfaction in God himself. To be so wrapped up in a longing to serve and please him that you can’t help but overflow your greatest passion into your conversations. Which I think is what Paul did. He was so completely sold out for Christ that he couldn’t help but share his greatest love with everyone he met!

When’s the last time you mentioned something you enjoy to a non-believer? Maybe your love for cars, music, or a sports team. C.S. Lewis has said (paraphrased), you complete your enjoyment by sharing it with someone. So in the same way that you “evangelize” your favorite sports team or your favorite artist by telling people about them, we complete our love for Christ by overflowing it into everyone around us. And that’s when genuine gospel presentation is found. We want others to experience the beauty of God too!

 

A March For Life

This morning marked the annual Comfort Care Women’s Health stride for life. This remarkable ministry provides crisis pregnancy help for women and girls in need. 13174153_10157009208940096_6174230335830541353_n.jpgMany of the local churches in our area raised money and marched around Waynesboro as a way to support Comfort Care.

Because of the continued support of people and local churches, they’ve reported that the abortion rate in our area has gone down, praise the Lord!

I see Comfort Care as an answer to the question of how to help women and girls who don’t know what to do when they find out their pregnant. Just letting them know that there are options and that there are people who care for them provides a beautiful stage to present the gospel to a soul desperately needing hope.

As I looked around and saw pregnant women and little babies involved in the march (or some “strolling” in their strollers) my heart was deeply saddened thinking of how many have been lost in this great unborn holocaust.

Though public opinion will most likely continue to devolve, I’m encouraged knowing that at least one life (and many more!) have been saved by God’s grace through this ministry. My wife and I will continue to find ways to serve and hope to see God continue to work!

Work and Ministry Update (April 2016)

As of now, I’m currently working full time for an. animal feed company by the name of New Country Organics. I mentioned in another post about it, but now it’s in full swing.
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My responsibilities include delivering feed all around Virginia from tuesday-thursday and on the other days I’m either packing orders or packaging feed. All in all, I do enjoy it. It’s not my dream job by any stretch but it’s certainly not a bad one! The people I work with are generally nice and hard working, save maybe a couple.

I’m definitely looking forward to being alone on the road as a time of prayer (eyes open!) and sermon listening!

On the ministry end of things my wife and I are quite busy! Wednesday nights are “breakpoint”, otherwise knows as youth group. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the youth and have found it to be quite a growing experience to build relationships from scratch. As Christians I think we get far too comfortable in our cliques, so this has been a generally positive experience for the both of us.

On Thursday nights we spend the evening fellowshipping over dinner. We sing and pray with a few other people from our church. This has been very challenging in a lot of ways because, as I said before, building brand new relationships (especially praying with new friends!) can be uncomfortable. But there really is nothing like singing ” good good father” in a living room amongst other believers. It can’t be beat.

And lastly on Sunday mornings we spend on the worship team and my wife sings in the choir. I’ve found I enjoy playing bass more than guitar, but it’s still fun either way. My wife also plays the flute quite wonderfully and many people have been edified by her talent.

Sunday evening is student lifegroup. It’s sort of a more intense youth group, with added small groups at the end for accountability and encouragement.

As of now, that’s what we’ve been up to for the most part, be praying for us as we move forward in life and marriage and seek what God may have for us!