What am I going to Thailand for?

I’ve struggled to articulate an answer when people ask me. I don’t know exactly, I just know that I’m supposed to go. I don’t have a plan, I don’t have some elaborate scheme or five-point action plan to win Thailand for the Gospel. I don’t have any of that. All I have is me and what God has chosen to give to me. All I know is I was given the means to come out here, and so I came. That’s pretty much it. The only book I brought with me was my ESV study bible, so I guess I’m pretty prepared. *sarcasm*

Something has been rubbing me recently, a thought about how we live our lives that I can’t seem to shake. It seems that the vast majority of people (Christians included) are intensely preoccupied with earning a living and taking care of their families. Not a bad thing, surely. There are far worse things to be doing… But are there also far better?

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not mince his parting words to the disciples. Many of his teachings are presented in parable form, which inherently invites confusion and misinterpretation. Not so with the great commission. It is as clear as clear can be. And I cannot help but think He meant it that way.

So why is there such a disconnect then? Why does the church more often feel like a religious social club instead of the forceful, relentless vehicle of the Gospel that it was designed to be?

Is it wealth that has blinded our reading of the scriptures? Is it a desire for cultural relevance and acceptance that fuels our messages?

The bottom line is this – a church that is not growing is a church that is dying. We are living in the end times, but we’ve lost the urgency possessed by the apostles and the early converts. Jesus could come back any day (or hour), and I can’t help but think His reaction would be “wait, what are you doing? Is this what I told you to do?”

Being a Christian means taking to heart what the Bible says, even if it looks weird. And in fact, it should look weird. If it’s not weird, it’s probably watered-down and not actually the Gospel.

What I’m saying is this – if you look at the world, you’re going to get distracted by worldly things. If you look at Jesus, you’re going to get caught up in His mission. It’s as simple as that.

Oh and that whole eternal life thing? It’s here for the believer to experience now, not just after we die and become floating angel babies in heaven.

I don’t want to discredit the work of the American Church, because it certainly has done some good things. But at the same time, social-economic trends would indicate that America is going the way of Europe and other westernized nations (predominantly secular). Religion is tolerated but becoming less and less important, and church-goers are less and less engaged.

And that is what’s frightening. Something else has filled the God-need inside each one of us, and I’m scared to think it might be ourselves. American wealth and prosperity, decoupled from a sincere desire to know the Lord and obey his commands, will be the downfall of our country. It’s the same story that’s been told over and over throughout history.

I know some will disagree with me, but that’s why this is a blog – a place where I can vocalize my opinions and not be afraid of being wrong.

Anyways, I am in Thailand now, and I will be posting more stories, thoughts & possibly even some musings. Stay tuned.

Here's to new beginnings
Here’s to new beginnings

When you’ve been hurt by the church


I want to preface this post by saying that though this a subject I have personal experience with, it is not a fresh wound in the sense I am not writing out of spite or anger, or any motivation other than a sincere desire to see those who have strayed come back into the fold.

That being said, it breaks my heart any time I hear stories of how someone’s perception of God was permanently altered because of a negative experience they had with a pastor or other member of their local congregation. These events range on the scale from the inconvenient to the downright traumatic. What do you do when something painful happens to you? What can you do? It can be awkward and very difficult to navigate these situations, but fortunately there are steps you can take to facilitate healing and move forward.

1. Know that it WILL happen, if it hasn’t already

I don’t mean this as a foreboding prophecy, but every believer who is actively engaging with a community of faith will be hurt in one way or another at some point in time. It’s just the nature of living and doing life with other people, and it’s nothing new either. We should never be surprised when the pain and suffering of the world infects a local church community.

2. Own what is yours, and let go of the rest

It can be tempting to want to lash out, immediately move on from the incident, or just ignore it altogether. None of these responses are particularly helpful to the wounded or the offender. If you had some participation in the offending incident, however minuscule it may be, offer your apologies for that portion. It will release some of the gangrene attempting to fester in your heart.

3. If needed, seek out help and a safe environment for healing

If the event that transpired was traumatic, you should likely seek outside help from a counselor who can offer a non-biased assessment of the situation. If you have attempted to reconcile with the offender, but they don’t seem interested or won’t admit they did anything wrong, it may be wise to remove yourself from the situation altogether, if only for a season. Pray that God would provide you with a safe community of believers who can support through your trying time.

4. Being hurt by the church is never God’s heart, and also never a reason to resent or reject him entirely

Because so often the perpetrator is a pastor or other leader in the church, it can be very easy to associate that person’s actions with God’s heart for us. This is almost never the case. It is certainly warranted to express your anger and pain towards God, wondering how or why this could happen. But using a hurtful pastor as a reason for rejecting God is like claiming a sick sheep is evidence of an unloving shepherd. Things happen. People get sick and hurt each other. Jesus is the Great Physician who has already and continues to absorb all the hurts of the believer unto Himself.

5. There are healthy communities out there

Don’t give up hope! If you’re like me, you may be tempted to use a hurtful incident as an excuse to detach and remove yourself from the church body. This almost always goes badly. We were designed to live life with others, and our flourishing depends on speaking and receiving the truth of the Gospel. God is capable of redeeming every painful experience to bring more glory to Himself. And that, thankfully, is extremely loving.

What are your thoughts? Is there anything you agree/disagree with? I know this is a very personal issue, but it’s one I would like to see more discourse on in the faith community.


Millennial Identity Crisis


This past weekend I saw the WWII movie “Fury” starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. Overall I thought it was a good flick, not quite on the level of war classics like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, but entertaining enough to justify a couple hours on a Friday night.

As I sat there through the canon fire and the Nazi slaughter, I was struck by the subtle attitude in the characters’ zealous belief that what they were doing was not only justified, but even necessary for their (and their loved ones’) very survival. “Best job I ever had” is a common phrase uttered throughout.

And then it hit me – our generation (Millennials) has nothing like what the WWII generation had. We have no great evil to defeat, no supreme national cause for which to labor for, perhaps not even a better future in which to hope in. Instead we are left to squabble in online forums over whose football team is better, or worse, which celebrity wore it best *gag*.

In short, a lot of us don’t quite know yet who we are or what we’re aiming for. But the great paradox is that, more than anything else, Millennials desire meaning in the work that we do and the ways in which we conduct our lives. It’s certainly not for lack of desire that we’ve wandered astray into meaningless endeavors.

So what are the obstacles hindering our pursuit of a healthy and meaning-filled life? How can we recenter our identity away from social media perception? Aside from having no great uniting conflict (which I am mostly thankful for), I believe there are 3 main hindrances which must be addressed before we can truly move forward in the life each one of us desires.

  • Student Debt – This one is huge, and could be an entire post unto itself. We’ve financed higher education on the strained backs of our future selves. If you don’t know it already, your debt is an emergency. Just like a medical emergency, it requires your immediate and focused attention. The longer you delay in paying it off, the more you shackle your future self to a fixed life path. Having options = Freedom.
  • Complicated Family Situations – The sad truth is, divorce has wrecked havoc on our perception of marriage and the family unit; so much so that some of us are choosing to forgo marriage altogether. Until we deal with our broken attitudes toward the opposite sex, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of our parents’ generation.
  • We are Incredibly Selfish – And most of us are blind to it. To be fair, this isn’t entirely our fault. Our parents took the ‘you can do whatever you want when you grow up’ mentality to the extreme, and as a result we’ve grown to expect things when we haven’t earned or worked for them. Few things are as repulsive as entitlement. Choosing to daily combat your inner pride is an extremely difficult, but worthy, charge to take up.

Yikes. So now that we’ve heard the bad news, what hope do we have to be a generation that makes a positive impact on the world around us?

Thankfully, there is hope. By working on our personal issues before choosing a spouse, we make it not only possible, but perhaps even probable, to stay married for life.

By buckling down and getting tough on consumerism and overspending now, we afford our future selves much greater opportunity to pursue work that we love, and still get paid for doing it.

By centering in on what is truly important, namely our relationships and the ways in which we treat people, we give ourselves the chance to leave a legacy much bigger than just our work and our bank account.

Though we may not have a great war to fight, or even a great evil to dismantle, Millennials still have hope for a purpose-driven identity. It just might take a little extra digging around to find it.

Any thoughts? What are your greatest obstacles to a meaning-filled life? Leave a comment below!


25 Life Lessons from an Almost 25 Year Old

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously

Seriously. Life is fun. Lighten up!

2. Be honest with yourself

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Some old dead guy

3. Accept your limitations

You are not superman. You are human. You are enough.

4. Persevere in developing your strengths

You are uniquely wired and gifted for a reason. Honor your Creator (and help the rest of us) by using your gifts!

5. Give thanks for every single day you’re given

Tim McGraw had a thing or two to say about this.

6. Appreciate the people in your life

Read Top 5 Regets of the Dying. All of them involve people to a certain extent.

7. Shoot for the stars

Aim for the moon, and even if you miss, Russia still has a space program 😉

8. Tell your parents you love them

No matter the complications surrounding your relationship with them, the fact is they probably sacrificed a lot to give you things they didn’t have. Give Mom a call! She will very much appreciate it 🙂

9. Tell him/her how you really feel

This one goes back to No. 2. Yes rejection might hurt, but it’s far far better than never telling them at all. Take a risk.

10. Create

We were designed “to work and to keep” the earth.  Be your domain Art, Science, Accounting, or Underwater Basket Weaving, create with everything you have!

11. Find the positive

It’s there I promise. Don’t be a negative nancy.

12. Run toward your dreams

Let me say that again. RUN. Don’t just saunter or jog or dance around in a vague direction. Set your compass towards what you truly want and don’t slow down till you get there!

13. Travel

Experience the world outside your world.

“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao-Tzu

14. Embrace the hurt

Hurting moments can be learning moments. But sometimes they’re just hurting moments. Don’t despise the growth and change you’re being forced to undergo.

15. Smile

It’s healthy! 🙂

16. Share your life

Don’t be a lone ranger. Share yourself with others. Live in Community. We need you!

17. Be true to yourself

Don’t be a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Or even a sheep in another sheep’s clothing. Just wear your own damn clothes.

18. Inspire others

Practice numbers 1 – 17 and this one is a gimme.

19. Unplug and Listen

The world we live in is a Distraction Machine. Take a hike, get out in the sticks, and leave your battery-powered devices behind!

20. Hug often

If you’re like me and you need your fill of physical touch, this is the best non-creepy way to do it!

21. Get tired

Spend yourself. Pour yourself out for a worthy cause, come home exhausted, then wake up the next day and do it again.

22. Call an old friend

Chances are, they’re probably thinking of you as well.

23. Marvel at Beauty

Be it a Picasso, Nature, the Opera, or Outer Space. Stand in wonder at something bigger than yourself.

24. Feel

Oftentimes we use substance or entertainment to numb ourselves. All feelings, euphoric or painful, demand to be felt.

25. Stay hungry, Stay foolish

– Steve Jobs 🙂

What do you think? Have any lessons of your own to contribute? Leave a comment below!