The Journey of Life…

Hey WordPress family!

It’s been a while since I last blogged. Life has been crazy busy and God has been doing some incredible things.

I would like to give you all an update on the last four months.

The Sadness…

Well, to start, I resigned from a position that I loved and moved away from the students that brought me great joy. I loved working as a youth pastor at the church that I was serving. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of students, parents, or congregation! It was a shocker to me to have God knock me on my butt and tell me “Chris, you’ve done all I want you to do here!”

So let’s just say that there were a few weeks of borderline depression- because I left the students I loved, the ministry I have spent so much time investing in, and the position of leadership that I was in. God had been doing a work in my heart for well over a year. He has been stretching me to be more than I could ever be on my own.

I still have to say that my heart is for student ministry and I have every intent to proceed in the future, but God has to finish the work that He has started.

The Journey…

After leaving the church, I have had several ups and downs. Several ministries that I had contact with had started asking me to come join them in their mission. As an attempt to figure out God’s leading, I checked out each of them. To my surprise, these opportunities turned into life lessons. At each door that I approached, God taught me a new lesson. Some of the lessons where about His soveriegnty, while others were about showing me my own sin. So, to say that the last four months has been a journey would be an understatement, and to say that this journey is over would be foolish.

The Purpose…

So, through God teaching me several lessons and giving me some awesome opportunities to meet some great men of the faith, I have been lead to a time of refreshment and revision. After turning down several positions and going in a completely unexpected direction, God has provided a surreal level of peace.

Up until about 3 weeks ago, my life has revolved around the fact that God had asked me to do ministry. My life’s purpose has been to reach a level of competence in a field that I felt God Himself had directed me into. Today, I sit unemployed and still with no idea of the future, but God is good. What I am learning is that even though ministry may be a great thing and the building of the Kingdom may be the call of the Church, neglecting my responsibilities are not.

The Explanation…

Let me explain: The responsibilities that I am talking about are twofold. 1) A calling to ministry should never supercede a calling to Christ. I’m learning that for us pastor types, guys who study ministry methods and theology all day, ministry can become somewhat of an idol. What I am saying is that we can come to love working for God more than loving God. I’m not sure that I could say that I’ve been loving ministry more than God, but I can definitely say that God has made me very aware of this idol in the past few weeks.

I have a desire to fulfill God’s call on my life and this desire is seeded deep in my soul. I believe that God has created me for this purpose and has equipped me to fulfill this calling, BUT that is not the sole purpose of my existence. What God wants just as much as me doing ministry is for me to enjoy Him! He wants a relationship with me, just as much as He wants a relationship with those who do not yet know Him.

Of course, I’ve believed this. Heck, I’ve been teaching this for the past 3 years of ministry! I guess, God decided it was time for me to go back to the basics again.

So on to the second thing: 2) I have a calling to my wife, way before I have a calling to the Church. I love Christ’s Church and my deepest desire is to see God’s people following God, but more than my heart of the church, I need to have a heart for my woman!

Now, if you’ve been around me for more than 5 minutes you’ve heard me talk a lot about my hott wife! I love my woman with all of my heart! She is the greatest thing I’ve ever gotten and way more than I ever deserved. My wife is the “cotton” to my “candy,” the “light” to my “day,” and the “sweet” to my “tea!” What I’m trying to get across is “I love her!”

But sometime affection of the heart can get sidetracked because of the burdens of ministry. My wife and I both feel that we have a great marriage and that I have been a great husband (these are her words). But from time to time, I’ve had more of an affection for my call, than my wife- which is not of God!

Even though God has called me to serve His people, He’s called me first to love, date, hold, talk late into the night, cook for, and clean for my woman. I’m called to be a Godly man before I’m called to be a “Man of God.”

The End…

So, for this season of our life- whether it’s short or long- I’m going to be sitting at the feet of Jesus and dating the hottest woman alive!

How to Lead Gospel Conversations

This will be an excerpt from a post I found on The Resurgence Blog. I hope you enjoy and this helps you out in leading people in Gospel centered conversations- whether in your local small group or with unbelievers.


Have you ever sat in a group discussion and found it incredibly difficult to get a good conversation going? I’ve found it can be very challenging to move conversations along, especially when you’re trying to go deep and get to the gospel. Here are a few principles that might help.

 

If you love, you will listen

In order to promote good gospel conversations in small group gatherings, it is important that everyone listens to one another’s story well. Don’t check out, criticize, or think about your own story. Listen to their story. In order to do this, everyone must ask questions of one another. If we love one another, we will learn to listen to one another’s stories over and over again.

 

Ask good questions

Our lives are continually changed through conflict, challenges, joys, relationships, and new experiences. Without asking good questions of one another, we can’t really share in deep community. Good questions help uncover the truth about how people are really doing and create the opportunity to share life and truth together. Ask questions and genuinely listen to one another’s stories.


Most people don’t naturally know how to ask good questions. Just after college, I decided to start asking people specific questions because I wanted to be others-focused, not self-focused.

Learning to ask good questions may start as a discipline, but it can flower into a beautiful expression of love.

Here are a few examples of questions you can ask in a group or community discussion:

  • When do you feel like that?
  • Can you elaborate on that?
  • How did that happen?
  • How does that make you feel?
  • Did you feel alone or supported?
  • Were you afraid or confident?
  • How did you respond?
  • How are you feeling now?
  • What concerns you the most about this?

 

Listening is just one part of leading gospel conversations. The next post will explain more.

 

The basic three part structure of this series is adapted from David Powlison’s counseling mantra:

1) Listen to Their Story

2) Empathize with Their Story

3) Redemptively Retell Their Story.

 

by Johnathan Dodson


The Brain Game

So, I learned today that things don’t always work out like you planned- and this is a good thing! When life throws you lemons make sweet tea… or something like that…

I think that sometimes we can have the tendency to get so caught up in our own heads that we forget that others are out there willing to help us along or better yet- pick us up when we fall. God did a really good job creating relationships. When the Spirit frees us up from the trappings of the Enemy, we can see how good God is in the creation of relationships. I mean they work so well, when the Enemy isn’t involved.

Today, I learned that my perfect little world isn’t all that perfect. That I’m not always right, even when I’ve got a very good argument to be right. You see, sometimes we can get so caught up in our own heads and so mixed up in our thoughts we miss the very thing that we desire the most- relationship. We long for a good relationship, but fear the steps to get to one.

I don’t really understand how everything works, but I have learned that I need to trust others a little more than I do. Sometimes other people can be more right than me… Thanks for letting me share 🙂

Soul Cravings_ “The Longing for Community”

 

Have you every took a long look at your cravings? I have recently… and I’m not talking about the kind of late night cravings for chocolate or pizza, but the kind of craving your soul has for intimacy, love, and meaning. I’ve recently started re-reading a book by Ewrin McManus called Soul Cravings. I suggest the book to anyone who is genuinely seeking God. In the book, Erwin takes us on a journey for God through an honest look at ourselves.

I’ve spent the last day honestly looking at myself and noticed the same soul cravings in myself. I think that all of us are longing for something. But what is that something? In the Soul Cravings book, McManus breaks down these “somethings” into 8 things: Intimacy, love, ambition, destiny, origin, meaning, life, and death. All of us wonder about these things. We desire to have intimacy with others. We long for true love that lasts. We have ambitions that drive us forward in life. We continually wonder what our destiny is. We question our existance and origin. We look to have meaning in our lives. And, we live life to only be confronted with death someday. What does all of this mean?

In Mark Driscoll’s book, Doctrine, he gives us the answer:

“Our longings for love, unity in diversity, communication, community, humility, peace, and selflessness are in fact- by design- longings for the Trinitarian God of the Bible and a world that is a reflection of the Trinity. Tragically, human desires corrupted by sin turn in on themselves; rather than finding satisfaction in God, longings become lusts- bottomless pits of selfish desire, never quite satisfied, inevitably leading to despair. Because we are made in the image of the triune God to reflect his glory, we will never stop longing [emphasis added]; yet, our sin-stained longings distort that reflection.

The Trinity is the first community and the ideal for all communities. That community alone has not been stained by the selfishness of sin. Therefore, in the diversity of God the Father, Son, and Spirit is perfect unity as one God that communicates truthfully, loves unreservedly, lives connectedly, serves humbly, interacts peacably, and serves selflessly. In a word, the Trinity is the ideal community in every way. Or, to say it another way, God is a Friend and has Friends.”

Mark Driscoll, Doctrine, Crossway: Wheaton, Ill, pg.12

So, our longing for intimacy, love, ambition, destiny, origin, meaning, life, and death is all an illaberate longing for God. I personally agree with this statement. In looking back at my life- the times that I tried to fulfill these longings myself- it just seems that I gratified only my own selfishness not benefit anyone else. Driscoll said that our longings have a way of turning in on themselves… so true! Mine always do!

The sad fact about having all of these longings is that they will never be fully met until we finally meet God face to face. Only then will we have the opportunity to fully indulge on God’s everlasting goodness and be filled. I long for that day, but until that day comes, I must be satisfied in the fullness that God gives now. He is here and he is living in me.

I challenge you to take a long look at your soul cravings and see what you notice. Look at your past cravings and see what the result of those were. And if you notice some selfishness take the time to look for God in your experiences; chances are He was there, but maybe you just missed Him.