The popularity of questioning the validity of the historical authenticity claimed by the Christian faith goes in and out of season like changing styles in the fashion industry.
I remember the first time I came across this line of thinking. I was new to pastoral ministry and was prepping to lead a youth bible study and found myself wandering online for a digital distraction, when I came across this video (only an excerpt). As a young leader with little to no study in this kind of stuff I was a bit taken off guard. I remember thinking, "If this is true, I can no longer honestly be Christian, and I need to leave the ministry.”
The words of Paul echoed in my mind:
If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. // 1 Cor 15:17-19
What was worse was when I was finished this video I had about 15 minutes left until the students, who would be attending this study, would be arriving. I didn't even have the opportunity to do any investigation of my own. I can only imagine how terrible that study must have been for those students, as my mind was quite occupied with content of the aforementioned video. But I got through it all and as the last student left my home, I immediately jumped back on to my computer and researched anything I could find on this video and the claims it brought forth.
It didn't take long to realize that this video had not much to stand on. As I searched through the sources it brought forth, each article was a non-credible sort of conspiracy theory blog which would quote another conspiracy theory blog quoting another conspiracy theory blog. Actually I couldn't find much of anything that would even come close to actually giving substantial proof on the ideas it was presenting about Jesus.
Unlike many belief systems, we actually make the claim that either Jesus did exist, is who He said he was and accomplished what we say He did, or he did not.
It definitely made some truthful claims about myth stories throughout history but, but that is about as far as the actual serious academia went and any link between Christ and these myth stories was far from real scholarly study. It would seem as though the whole thing was built through a kind of telephone game syndrome: I once heard a guy say that a guy said that some 'credible' scholars claimed that Jesus is just another myth story. But what I couldn't find was anyone showing where that original source existed.
Now don't get me wrong, I can understand how people would cling to this idea. The claims of Christianity are somewhat hard to swallow. See, we make a truth claim about something supernatural. Unlike many belief systems, we actually make the claim that either Jesus did exist, is who He said he was and accomplished what we say He did, or he did not.
The reality is, there is a good case for a real Jesus Christ and that He died and rose again, and many have written and shown this. But no matter the amount of evidence we can bring to the table, there is still a measure of faith and revelation through the Holy Spirit that must come. This is the supernatural we are talking about.
We need to enter any evidence we come across, especially info that challenges our worldview with both a critical and open mind.
People can easily question and deny that Jesus was anything but a man and find it absurd that He rose from the dead and they have that right to challenge that. It is the crux of the conversation really: Is Jesus God and Saviour, or is He not? But to take it the next step and claim he never existed leaves, pretty much, all basic reasoning. This video interview by Bert Ermahn (non Christian Biblical Critic) shows how absurd the idea of denying the historical Jesus is.
We need to enter any evidence we come across, especially info that challenges our worldview with both a critical and open mind. We both need to accept that we may be wrong and open to new and differing ideas, but we must also examine those ideas for their own merits and not be tossed about accepting every new thing we read with no critical thinking at all. And as Christians, we can be confident that our faith isn't built on fairy tales, but on actual merit, real evidence and real reasoning, but still requires faith in something greater than our own finite minds can comprehend.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
I believe we have been lied to. Those of us that have grown up in a secular world know that there are some wild misconceptions about Christianity. The atheists and agnostics that I have now know do little to convince me otherwise. If I had to believe in their perception of god I would be an agnostic or atheist too!
I would like to highlight some areas that I think would be helpful to those on the outside looking in.
Christians Aren’t Perfect People.
Before I was a Christian I was an idolater, fornicator, liar, thief, a glutton and filled with pride and laziness.
Then God saved me.
And believe or not, I am still dealing with those things.
Sure, by Gods grace I am redeemed.By His power I am working through it all, but I am still a sinner just like everyone else. It isn’t anything that I do, it is God alone that makes me righteous. It’s all about Jesus.
All too often we Christians –intentionally or unintentionally –put out the idea that we are perfect, or that we don't accept imperfect people. We try to show people a better way but we make it sound like we no longer fall short of the glory of God.
Non believers can take it one of two ways and neither is good. 1.They believe us and think that they have to get their stuff together to be acceptable to Christ. 2.They don't believe us
because they can plainly see we are lying. As Christians, we need to articulate better the fact that we are just as broken as anyone else.
God saves us in spite of our sinfulness. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Let's not unintentionally (or intentionally) perpetuate the myth that we have to work for our salvation, or that there is a specific set of secondary doctrinal beliefs that need to be adhered to.
Christians Don’t Have To Believe Everything They Are Told.
Being a Christian does not mean that you must stop thinking for yourself. It doesn't mean we should stop asking the hard questions either.
Ecclesia semper reformanda estis a Latin term used during the split from the Roman Catholic church. It means "The church is always to be reformed". I think we would do well to live by this phrase and not assume that we have arrived, theologically speaking.
Christianity is not antiintellectual, we do not have to believe that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. To be a true follower you do not have to adhere to young earth creationism, or believe in eternal conscious torment, etc. You may chose to believe those doctrines but it is not a fundamental of the faith.
If we are being true to our search for truth absolutely nothing is beyond scrutiny, and that's not a bad thing. Christians can be skeptics too.
Too often being a Christian becomes more about what we are against rather than what we are for, but that's not right. Christianity does not mean you have to fall in line with neofundamentalist conservative Christianity (or anything else besides, as Paul says, Christ and Him crucified).
The Bottom Line. Jesus.
Jesus is the only fundamental element of the faith. We should look to Him for examples of faith and practice. Do not let anyone tell you that there is more to Christianity than Christ. I am willing to be open to many doctrines, but, the centrality of Christ alone to Christianity is something that I cannot deny.
The world wants a Christianity that we have to earn but that isn't the case, this truly is the scandal of grace. We humans are unworthy but made worthy in Christ. We are not made worthy by our own actions or the opinions of others. We are not saved because we know absolute truth. We are not redeemed because we have proper doctrine. Our knowledge does not sanctify us. Being a Christian doesn't necessarily make us better people.
What Do You Think Being A Christian Means?
I am curious to know what you think defines Christianity. What is it that people mean when they say “I am a Christian”. Leave a comment.
I've gotten this question a few times, and feel it's important to give an answer here. I think this will encourage some of you, as well as help you to answer this for others, too!:
I get asked: "I just don't get it...I got saved and thought the 'old man' was supposed to be dead now, but I'm still struggling with him, so he must not really be dead, right??"
Okay, here's the deal... First of all, when you got born again, your "old man" DID indeed die! You WERE CRUCIFIED with Christ--not will be, but "were" (Rom. 6:6)! That "old man" has died, and will never be resurrected to life again, EVER! You are now a BRAND NEW creation in Christ, a specie that has never, ever existed before (2 Cor. 5:17)! You are now a NEW MAN/WOMAN in Christ!
So why then does it SEEM like the "old man" hasn't truly died? Let me give an analogy that might help. You have had Mr. Old Man living in your house your whole life, and you decided you'd had enough of him and made the decision he had to go, so you called Jesus to come get him. Jesus comes right over and immediately takes him into custody, leaves with him, and takes him out and crucifies him. Mr. Old Man is now dead as a door nail...he is not coming back, 'cause Jesus took care of it completely.
But what happens is, you go back inside your house and look around. As you do, you see Mr. Old Man's clothes still hanging in the closet, his shoes are by the door, his magazines are still on the end table, etc. You KNOW he's dead and not coming back 'cause Jesus took care of it, but you need to get rid of Mr. Old Man's stuff! So, you make the decision to gather up all Mr. Old Man's stuff, head out to the backyard, build a fire, and burn it all! (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9)!
Sure, this can be a process for some...just like the person who's been on drugs, or smokes, or drinks when they get saved. Their "old man" has died when they come to Christ, but they may have a temporary desire to do the drug or take that drink. But when they do try to do those things, they'll find out that it just isn't the same anymore; it just doesn't give them the high they used to get. They realize that a major CHANGE has taken place! They'll find out that their desire for that to continue is no longer there, because they now have a brand new nature AND a brand new spirit that is alive to God. They have thrown out Mr. Old Man's stuff, and it feels GREAT!
ADDED INPUT by my dear friend Derrick Day: "The old man is dead but the devil makes him a zombie - always trying to return to life. And just like a zombie, the old man desires the works of the flesh. But the spirit man trumps him and, over time, the old man just gets weaker and weaker until he has no more power in your life!" Thanks, Derrick!
Christians really are peculiar people.
We like to determine who is in and who is out. We love to draw dividing lines.
What I mean is: We can take non traditional approaches to many issues, women in leadership, order of service, glossalia, head coverings, and many more, but we still want to draw that line. Which is weird because some other group of Christians already determined we were heterodox due to our belief about the things like Eucharist or credo-baptism (or whatever).
I just read a comment about Rob Bell (why are we still so obsessed with someone we already excluded from orthodox evangelicalism?). The comment said that what Rob believes about the fate of everyone has changed Christianity into something unrecognizable. Basically that Christian universalists worship a different God than 'the rest of us'. That, essentially, Bell worships a false god.
I am not a universalist but there are a couple things that bother me about these types of comments.
Some historic church fathers were universalists.
Gregory of Nyssa comes to mind, but check out this link for some interesting quotes.
Eternal conscious torment isn't a fundamental christian belief. As much as we would like to think that all of our beliefs are orthodox because we read the bible properly, it just isn't true. If we haven't spent time looking into other views before attacking straw men we have done ourselves and other christians a disservice.
A lot of people that criticize Bell haven't actually read Love Wins. Unless I missed something Bell just advocates a possibility for universalism. What would be called 'hopeful universalism'. A view that someone like CS Lewis has been accused of having and he is practically the protestant pope.
There are many theories about hell. I would argue that conditionalism or annihilationism should be considered? Again, historic christianity has had varied beliefs about hell and the afterlife. See the link in the first point for more examples.
The pop Christianity that is so popular in the west today is unrecognizable from historic christianity. Except for the fact that both affirm the saving power and lordship of Jesus Christ (the only fundamentally required belief) many of the secondary points are completely different.
So, if our Christianity is unrecognizable what makes universalism any different? I am convinced that we have been conditioned to immediately denounce universalism.
It may be that, after studying it, we are still not convinced of it's truthfulness but at least we will understand why we don't believe it.
I am not a Universalist but I feel compelled to correct a few misunderstandings about it.
Christian universalism isn't pluralism. There is only one way and that is Jesus. Jesus saves people not because they follow Muhammad or Buddha but in spite of it .
Christian universalism isn't fatalistic. God does not save people against their will. There are different ideas about how this happens but, basically, the love of God is so overwhelming that no one can resist forever.
The words to describe hell (Gehenna, Sheol, Hades, etc) don't have to be literal. This is a good article that explains them.
Now, does that seen so bad? Surely God does have the power to save everyone. That is unless we think that God only saves people out of obligation or because they recited some magic words.
We have leaders in the church that are hurting people, promising things and not delivering, slandering the name of God and profiting off of pain and we are concerned that some people think that God will save everyone.
Really? That really is a thing?
In this day and age there is a wide variety of churches with an equally wide variety on stances on how we should present ourselves at church. While most churches hold the “Come as you are” mentality, encouraging people to wear whatever they want (as long as they are wearing clothes, no nudity please); there are the select few churches where they don’t officially say “Dress up”, but as soon as you walk in the doors you wish you had gotten the unspoken memo.
Growing up, I went to a Salvation Army church, that’s right it’s a church too not just a soup kitchen. I will say that more so than not my mother encouraged us to dress up on Sunday, and jeans weren’t an option until my later teen years. So when I say dress up, I mean dress pants and a blouse, skirt and a blouse or a dress for myself. My brother was in dress pants and a button up or something similar to the effect. My mother, however, was dressed up in her Salvation Army Uniform; something unique to the organization. I would go into detail but I believe that it is better explained here. And for the record I personally love the idea of the Salvation Army uniform and would wear it proudly if I were still a part of that church, I support what it stands for and the meaning that lies in it.
Now I understand that the idea of dressing up every Sunday can seem ridiculous. I mean it isn’t like God is judging us based on our appearance right? In fact, this very sentiment is what fuels most churches “Come as you are” policy. As per usual I find myself down the middle of the argument, I think people should be comfortable when they come to church but I also think that they should change out of their pajamas before they get there… you know, put a little effort in. But what if this issue was beyond the idea of clothes? What if this was about something so much more than jeans, dresses and suits (oh my!)? What if this was not about what we are wearing but who we are wearing?
My question today does not lie in the threads of your clothing but in the makeup of who YOU are as you enter God’s House. I want you to think back to last Sunday (or the last time you went to church) and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Were you rushed and anxious because you were running late?
2. Were you thinking about the service before it even began? (How long the congregational prayer will be, will the worship be good, is there a guest speaker, I hope the coffee is better than last week…)
3. Were you distracted by the frustrating morning with your kids and spouse?
4. Were you stressed out from the pressures of work or your finances?
5. What were you feeling? Happy, Sad, Angry, Tired, Frustrated, Annoyed…
6. If God was going to speak to you… would you have heard Him?
Believe me, there are Sunday’s where I would rather attend Bedside Baptist then actually go to church. Why? For many reasons, and the usual is that I’m tired. But I get up and go anyways, because I want to be there in case God needs me to hear something, or in case someone else needs to hear something from me. On those days where I am literally dragging myself through the doors I do a self-check as I enter the building.
1. This is the Day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it (one of my favourite songs)
2. Church is a privilege… it is somewhere I GET to go… not somewhere I have to go
3. If I want to meet God then I want to be focussed on God and not on myself
I leave my distractions at the door, my troubles and my stresses I surrender at the cross and I walk in KNOWING that God will move. Some days God will use me to move in others’ lives and other days He will move in my life. I know that not every day is my turn and that’s okay. Yeah there are Sundays where I leave the church going “that could have been better”… heck we are all human! Church won’t be perfect and we won’t be perfect but man does God ever use those imperfect people do complete His perfect plan.
So why should we even try to present our best selves if God is going to use imperfect people anyways? Well, because God deserves our best selves… in fact, he deserves so much more than that but we give what we can. Don’t get caught up on the fact that “what we give will never be good enough” but concentrate on presenting your best self to God.
So you don’t have to wear a ball gown to church this Sunday to present your best self but try and remember these five steps:
When you Greet People… Greet them knowing God’s love is OVERFLOWING into their lives through you.
When you Worship… Worship with full adoration for your SAVIOR, because he deserves so much more.
When you Listen… Listen eagerly to the message and EXPECT it to apply to you (not your neighbor)
When you Give… Give with a grateful heart of what’s been given to you.
When you Leave… Leave with excitement and anticipation as to what God will do in your life this week.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So, I just finished reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. I enjoyed it.
At times it was informative, boring, exciting, illuminating, confusing, poetic and probably wrong. Don't misunderstand me, I think a lot of it is right. I mean I was a cautious progressive creationist before reading it and I would pick the theistic evolutionary theory before I would choose young earth creationism. Anyway, more on that in another blog post. I wanted to talk about a certain recurring thought in this book.
What really struck me as compelling was Darwin's choice of words when referring to the traditional idea of creationism and the ways that he describes his theory.
I think Darwin was a theistic evolutionist.
Now, there are a few things that we need to be consider first.
Was Darwin ever a Christian? Did he de-convert? Does he think that God could have been involved in creation?
So, I went looking for these answers.
WAS DARWIN EVER A CHRISTIAN?
Well I am sure that some people would like to exclude him from Christianity simply because of his views on the age of the earth and evolution. However, everyone knows that we aren't saved because of orthodox creation theories. The two are not mutually exclusive as much as some people like to claim.
I knew that he was a church going man. While this doesn't necessarily make him a Christian it is interesting enough to dig deeper. So I did.
I found out that he studied to become a clergyman. I'm not sure if I would do that if I wasn't a Christian. Instead of questioning other people's salvation I tend to take their word for it.
He had to modify his beliefs because he felt he had to choose.
Wikipedia says that Darwin experienced doubts about his faith. He questioned the evil acts in the world, the historicity of the Bible and other religious matters. Obviously studying science and the world caused his, as Greg Boyd would say, "house of cards theology" to collapse. It appears that he re-built, instead this time identifying as an agnostic. He even corrected people that wanted to include him in their atheism.
It is purely speculation but it is my belief that the religion in his day told him that his studies and his faith were at odds. He could not believe in the God that required a young earth and independent acts of creation, but, did still believe in God. He had to modify his beliefs because he felt he had to choose.
DID HE THINK GOD WAS INVOLVED?
Who knows, maybe. He certainly didn't write in The Origin of Species that God was or wasn't. I think his agnosticism came through a lot in the book. What struck me as odd is many times, when referring to creation, he seems to choose his words carefully. He calls it "independent acts of creation". What does he mean by that? Surely he could have said simply "act of creation" if he wanted to try to disprove all things God.
I think what he means is natural selection, leading to macro evolution, discredits certain aspects of young earth creationism or "independent creation". Obviously this leaves the door open to " dependent creation", whatever that means. I might define theistic evolution and possibly progressive creationism as dependent.
Darwin has been quoted as saying that God couldn't be associated with the evil that happens in the world, including creation/evolution. I have a hard time with that one too!
He very well could have been a closet Christian and believed in an old earth and macro evolution.
At the beginning of the book I thought that he might be a progressive creationist. When talking about the ancestors of particular varieties of species he mentions them coming from a common stock. If macro evolution were true wouldn't every variety, species, genus, family, order, and all life come from, ultimately, the same stock? It doesn't help that Darwin himself seems to conflate the ideas of adaptation and transmutation.
If it weren't for the independent acts of creation phrase he uses later I would assume that he thinks each species was created independently. It sure seemed that way, especially earlier in the book. Later in the book he shifts his focus away from explaining the evidence as it relates to natural selection to proving positive proof against "independent acts of creation.
WAS DARWIN A THEISTIC EVOLUTIONIST?
I really have no idea. He very well could have been a closet Christian and believed in an old earth and macro evolution. Then again, He may never have been a Christian or lost his faith. It's hard to say.
I only mean to bring up the idea for curiosity's sake. What do you think?
We sat down with Dr. Randal Rauser for a Bold Cup Of Coffee to discuss the idea of being a Tentative Apologist: Rethinking The Art of Giving a Defense and also his book: God or Godless. One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. (with John W. Loftus)
You can also view more content at our YoutTube Channel
Let's Share A Bold Cup Of Coffee Together - CONFIDENCE NOT CERTAINTY
You can view more content by Dr. Rauser at randalrauser.com
Every year we have to make the decision, are we going to make the infamous New Year’s Resolutions? If so, how many will you make? How hard will they be to accomplish? By the end of the never ending questions we finally get to the point where we throw our hands up in the air, pretend we’re Jewish yelling Oi Vey, and go on without making a resolution at all. Now I have made resolutions before, yet they were always the same one… I am going to lose weight this year or the slightly different but all the same… This is my year of getting fit! Yeah, I’ve obviously lost that resolution once or twice. So I have gone the past few years without making any resolutions. Why? Mostly because I was tired of failing. I mean you can call it what you want, but at the end of the day I didn’t want to hold myself to any standards, I didn’t want to give myself any goals, and most of all I wanted nothing set in stone or written on the wall that I could be held accountable to.
I love what my blog-mates are doing with the one word aspiration. Choosing one word that you want to inspire you throughout the next year, that word that will keep you on the right path and the meaning of that word that you hope to embody. However what you will obviously notice is that I didn’t partake in that post. As I began to think of my one word that describes this next year of my life, the list of possibilities began to grow. I then began to try and narrow it down and low and behold, those words became sentences. Sounds backwards? Yeah… I know.
Vision is something MORE than goals or resolutions, its character defining.
So I stepped away. Something wasn’t adding up, why could I not pick a flippen word? Well as I sipped my coffee my answer became clear. This year I was not meant to find a word, I was meant to find MANY words. So I sat back down, tore off the top piece on my pad of paper and I began again. This time I wrote down all of the things that I would want to accomplish next year, but I wasn’t making New Year’s Resolutions, I was creating a Vision.
Vision is something MORE than goals or resolutions, its character defining. When you create a vision for who you want to be and what you want to accomplish, it’s more than checking a few boxes, it’s taking yourself to the next level. And don’t just think about your vision, SPEAK about it. Say it out loud, write it down and remind yourself DAILY of what it is you want to accomplish. “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 English Standard Version (ESV) Compact it in to a statement, like a motto. Then, you create goals (I call them vision steps) that will help you realize your vision. To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about here is my current Vision Statement and my Vision Steps.
Inspire others through my actions and words, better understanding God’s purpose for my life.
- 15 (personal development) books in 2015
- Writing once every two weeks
- Continuous Health and Fitness
- Eliminate Financial Debt
Give yourself a vision. Decide who you want to be and figure out how you are going to get there. Whether it be a one word vision like my blog-mates or a vision statement like mine. If you do not give yourself something to work towards you will stay stagnant. I challenge you to give yourself a vision this year but do not limit it to 2015, however continually strive to achieve that vision. And the best thing about a vision? Once you feel that you’ve realized that vision… you create a new one. You are every changing, ever growing, into the person you are meant to be.
Sick of making New Year’s resolutions? I was. I knew all the formulas, made lists of SMART goals, and set schedules. But I found myself more tired than inspired. And that’s when someone shared the idea of choosing one word. This word can represent a goal, a state of living, or simply an inspiration for how you want to grow in the next year. I usually spend a little time thinking over some options, and once I choose one, I search in the Bible for a verse containing my chosen word that can become a theme for the year. The more I dig, the more implications of what that might actually look like present themselves. Some of the words I’ve chosen in the past were ask, choice, and wholly.
This year the word that has found me is reach. As usual, there are a number of interpretations I can think of. The first is that I’m a person who likes to make goals and plans. I like to dream and connect ideas together. But following through? Not so much. Reaching requires effort, and I want to be someone who is willing to make a little extra effort to live the life I want. Reaching also implies stretching or leaving my comfort zone. This definitely applies to the relationships in my life. I want to reach out to others and meet them where they are. I want to reach out a helping hand, and reach to connect even when it might be more comfortable to hold back.
The first verse I came across when I looked into the Bible was from Deuteronomy 30:11: “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach.” This is the reminder I’m going to need come February, and May, and November. It reminds me that God is the one that reaches first down to me (2 Sam 22:17), and guides me with His hand. God has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), thus whenever I’m tempted to give up and get discouraged, that’s when I need to reach even more.
As a start, I’ve reached out to my fellow Bold Cup bloggers to see what words they would choose. We’d also love to hear from all of you if you decide to give it a try! // Charlotte O
Every year I sit and think about what I could have done better in the past year. What I should focus on in the up coming year. What I think my short term and long term plans should be. I Spend extra time in deep thought about this during the later part of this year because I turned 25 in November. I wanted to evaluate where I am. I was posed the idea for this joint blog and the first thing I thought was, “Yes, and this year I will write more for Bold Cup.” I was gifted three beautiful journals this year for my birthday and I was so busy during the holidays I decided to wait until the new year to break them in. When I went to grab one today I payed extra attention to the engravings. It says small things become great when done with love. I was asked to pick a word to describe where I want my 26th year on this planet to go. When I read that I thought, 'Love'. Love is the word. I want to spend more time nurturing people with love in 2015.
While contemplating what that will look like for me it seemed so glaringly simple. Jesus. I need to work more on loving people like Jesus. Openly. Looking for nothing in return. To love on them exactly where they are in life. Not where I think they should be. To support them with unselfish love. While reading the Bible about it I found “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” John 13:34 So While my word started as Love. I will be focusing more on loving in a Jesus way. Even on myself. Taking more time for myself, to find out what I want next. Even just to set aside enough time to sleep. Loving on people and myself in the best and most open way I possibly can.
So while I also have the list of putting all my clothes back on hangers in my walk in closet, and to wash the dishes immediately after I'm done with supper, to read more books for knowledge and not just for fun. To go somewhere new, to stick to my new work out plan. I also join the ranks of all the others who makes lists about who they want to be. But I do know that for myself, walking straight into 2015, this year is all about the Love. All about the love and still all about Jesus. // Ashley Elizabeth Petryshyn
I've never really been big on New Year's resolutions. I don't necessarily have anything against them; I'm just probably lazy. I'm a student though (which may have something to do with the laziness), so for me, my New Year starts at the beginning of September.
One of the books I read over the summer had an interesting illustration discussing a survey of older people close to the end of their lives. They were asked the biggest things that they regretted doing or not doing through their lives. The most common answers that came from the survey were put into these three themes: risk more, reflect more, create a legacy. Even though they may seem pretty general, it convicted me to put them into a life motto for my 2014-2015 year. Over the next twelve months, I want to risk more, reflect more, and begin to create a legacy.
The first one has been the hardest throughout my entire life. I'm kind of a wimp, so I don't like to mess up or hear "no" or do anything that I'm uncertain of. Whether it be in my schooling, extra-curriculars, romantic relationships, casual relationships, or faith, I've felt convicted to risk a little more than I usually would. (Before you get worried, let me just reassure you that I'm not going to move across the world, get hitched, and gamble all my money away. Remember, I'm still pretty lazy.)
The other two will inevitably stem from the first. I'll have more to reflect on, more new ideas to ponder, if I put myself in scenarios and positions that I wouldn't necessarily be in otherwise. And eventually, through reflection, I'll be able to find ways to begin creating a legacy, first and foremost for my (future) children but always stemming from the expansion of the Kingdom of God on Earth.
So watch out, 2015, because Cole Benton Hatchard is going to do some crazy stuff that even he can't believe he's going to do. // Cole Benton Hatchard
I really have a huge appreciation and respect for a certain type of person. These are type of people who have a few miles on the odometer of life. They have been around enough to know the road sometimes gets bumpy, but know how drive regardless of the road conditions. They have travelled to soaring mountain tops and through winding valleys and yet consistently they arrive safely to the next stop on journey- the journey of life. The type of person I speak of is perhaps best summed up in the word perseverance.
In this new year of 2015 I want to continue to become a person of perseverance. Perseverance is steadfastness despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Perseverance is endurance. It is standing firm when it takes everything within you to stand firm. To have perseverance is to prepare for the long haul on the journey. It is the well seasoned traveller who knows when to rest, and also when to make a mad dash.
When I was a younger fellow I did not have the same appreciation for perseverance. I wanted an unhealthy level of intensity. I wanted a round the clock revivals and emotional roller coasters. I thought that true spirituality looked like a fury of activity, non-stop services, and the next big event. I knew nothing of burn-out or balance.
I am convinced that a big part of how to persevere is to connect myself to the practices of the travellers that have gone before me. I am studying their maps. I am rediscovering old markers on the trail. I am asking questions like,How did they pray? How did they process trials and tribulations? How did they prepare for the long haul? I’ve discovered that in order to persevere I must have a received faith, or as theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it: “We don’t get to make Christianity up. We receive it through the lives of those who have gone before and that just becomes crucial for us to be able to survive in the age in which we find ourselves.”
A passage of Scripture that comes to mind is from wisdom of the book of James. The brother of Jesus encourages us to let perseverance grow and fully develop within us in order to lead us to maturity. The book of James presents the testing of faith. As the follower of Jesus encounters opportunities to walk in wisdom, and endures through the Lord’s help, genuine growing faith will be evident. So we read:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Praying for perseverance in 2015, // Paul Douglas Walker
As I start 2015, I want to start my New Year by going deeper and getting to the core. I want to ask the hard questions that get to the root of the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person God is forming me to be. I also have my short lists of things I want to focus on as well, but more importantly, I want to go under the surface and see what is under the hood. I want to start asking some hard question, like...
What kind of person/community do we want to become? What kind of person/community is God calling us to be? What kind of person/community does the world need us to be? What kind of world do we want to live in?
I believe it is in this place that the real exciting things happen, the real change and the lasting impact in our lives and the world. We start to get to the root of who we are as people and who we are meant to become. It is letting the LIGHT o Christ shine in and reveal what is genuine and counterfeit in our own lives and lead us to a better way--a way filled with HOPE and possibilities.
But, HOPE has a cost. It cost God and it will cost us. But, like most things worth their weight in gold, it is worth the cost needed to see change effected. Wanting is rarely enough to materialize anything. Hard work, sacrifice and determination are ingredients that lack in unfulfilled dreams. So, are we willing to be the change the world so desperately needs? Are we willing to ask the hard questions, letting His light reveal to us what is genuine and counterfeit? Will we peel back the layers and see what is under the surface? I hope you will and join a movement of people who make their resolution to be a #PRISONEROFHOPE, who dream big and as Kid President says, "make the world more awesome!"
As you read this post and reflect over the year past and the year ahead, don't be overwhelmed by all that needs to happen or how far you still need to go. We are all a work in progress and are continually being formed and reformed into something new. For today, simply pick a word that captures your next step (take one of our words if need be), to guide to you forward, one step at a time--a sort of anthem for 2015 and let us venture forward together, DIGGING DEEPER and RISING HIGHER. // Drake De Long-Farmer
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