Flaming Truth: Recalling Francis Schaeffer’s Challenge

My latest article is over on the men’s channel at CBMW.org today:

If you asked me a few years ago if in the span of three years I’d get married, graduate college, have a baby, live in three states, and work three different jobs — well, I’d probably slap you.

Yet here I am once again with a sore back and tape residue on my fingers. Mmm. The sweet smell of cardboard.

Change is scary and complicated. It’s so easy to be paralyzed by doubt, despair, confusion, or stress. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once.

Perhaps most difficult about change — whether it be a major life change or simply the the few hours after work — is remembering that it’s not about me.

It’s not my transition. It’s not my move. It’s not my change.

As the boxes pile high or the baby gear fills up the second bedroom, the ongoing struggle with selfishness rises. What better excuse to neglect others than I have so many details to take care of these next few weeks. Yet more than ever, my family needs me.

With that in mind, I offer you four keys to fighting idolatry in our greatest of transitions and change — whether that be a new baby in the family, a major job change, or a move across the country (or in my case all of them at the same time).

// Read the latest at CBMW.org // 

Some of the most helpful things I have received in the course of my life come in lists. One of my favorite lists has always been the recommended book list.

I believe that the transition from high school to college in many ways is one of the most important transitions in your life — and one of the most exciting!

Untitled-2-copyBecause of this, I’ve created the Essential Books for High School Seniors cheat sheet for High School students, parents, grandparents, or anyone who’s thinking about giving a gift or helpful book to a high school student. In this cheat sheet you’ll find:

  • My absolute favorite book on growing in holiness
  • The best book out there to prepare yourself for college (and to prepare Mom and Dad for college)
  • A book that actually changed my life 
  • Bonus notes and bo
    ok recommendations

Best of all, it’s FREE. In order to receive your copy simple fill out the form on the right-hand sidebar and I’ll send you the link to the FREE copy of Essential Books for High School Seniors. 

You can sign up for updates by clicking here. Once you’ve completed the initial process of email confirmation you’ll be sent your copy of Essential Books for High School Seniors. 

Enjoy. 

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“But they aren’t distinguished — no more than anyone else. Don’t you understand? The Glory flows into everyone, and back from everyone: like light and mirrors. But the light’s the thing.”

“Do you mean there are no famous men?”

“They are all famous. They are all known, remembered, recognized by the only Mind that can give a perfect judgement.”

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Four Lies About Faithfulness

February 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

So often we buy into the lies of not only the world around us, but also our own “Christian” culture about faithfulness. Normal, nameless ministry is no longer acceptable. Small churches, although frankly the norm, are not considered something to pursue.

For many of us who are young, we want to really change the culture around us any way that we can. The common belief is that those at “the top” are the game changers, the trendsetters, and the culture shifters. I don’t believe it for a second. And so I present to you four lies that we often buy about faithfulness.

Lie #1: My present actions hold no consequences
This is completely false. If you spent time with any man or woman over 65, they would all tell you that their teen and early formative years proved to be extremely influential on who they are and who they became. What you do right now, the seeds you plant, will one day come forth and produce some kind of fruit. You will receive the consequences, whether good or bad, from the way you live right now. Don’t waste your time right now. Prepare yourself for the future by being faithful with what you have right now.

Lie #2: Big always equals great
Faithfulness and true greatness usually happen in private. Being “big” or “famous” does not mean that you are “great.” True greatness is often found, and usually found, in the small and humble who are faithfully serving day in and day out. I could probably argue that the President of the United States is great – but what about his mother, or his teachers, or any number of people who have influences and affected him and helped him be the man he is today? Never forget that humble, quiet faithfulness is truly great.

Lie #3: Fame always means effectiveness
Faithfulness doesn’t need praise or immediate results. It realizes that although it may seem that those who are famous seem effective, those who are faithfully plodding with have fruit that lasts for eternity. That’s not to say that fame doesn’t mean effectiveness. That’s not it at all. God uses people and places them in special situations to have influence. But it does not negate the fact that those who are faithfully with where they are and with what they have can have just as much effectiveness for the Kingdom of God as those who are effective as “famous” people.

Lie #4: Small people don’t make a difference in the world
There are hundreds of stories that could expose this lie. I’ve told the story of my great-grandmother time and time again. She was a “nobody” in the general sense, yet I know hundreds of people have been changed through the ministry that she and my great-grandfather had with them. I am certain there are untold stories of faithful saints who have served in relative obscurity – yet they will be given the greatest seat when we enter heaven. Do not despair if you find yourself in a small place. Be faithful to the end.

At 6:15 on Tuesday, November 13, 2013, Vicki Sweetman stepped from life into eternity.

When I wrote my article “No Little People,” there were few people on this earth that influenced me more than my Great-Grandmother. That influence came because of the way that she had surrendered totally and completely to be used by the Lord.

Life isn’t over for Vicky Sweetman. Her life has just begun. 

Below is the prayer I prayed at her funeral just a few weeks ago. 

Father,

We come to you today standing in the face of our dreaded and devastating enemy, Death.  We are reminded and humbled today by the reality that our days, although they may seem long, are but a breath in the wind.

Yet Lord, we also today find ourselves not grieving as those with no hope. Instead, Lord, we realize this morning that this woman was yours – she belongs to you. You, in your grace rescued her through Christ and You love her even more than we do. We know today that she is even now rejoicing in the presence of her Savior.

It is because of the Gospel that we can today celebrate her earthly life. Christ has declared clearly victory and dominion over both sin and death. It was that message of Good News that my Great-Grandmother looked to and believed. It was the message that she lived out day by day through her life and her ministry. And it is the Truth that she is celebrating today and will be celebrating for eternity.

And Lord, it is Your glorious gospel that encourages us even today. Christ is not just for this temporary and earthly life.  Christ has died. Christ has risen. And Christ will come again.

Lord, let these truths prompt us today to realize the gravity and urgency of our own lives. Let it force us to examine our hearts and to embrace the truth of the gospel – that we too were lost in sin, deserving of death and punishment, yet you have provided a perfect sacrifice for us in Christ.

And Lord, let it encourage us that this life is not all there is. Eternity awaits.

“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen – are eternal.” – 1 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

A Pastor’s Priorities For Day One

Ran Ortner Trailer (documentary in process) from Todd Holland on Vimeo.

“Art is not a cleverness contest…it is really a honesty contest.”

HT: Emil Handke

Do small things really matter?