What is EDGE-X?

Evangelize the Lost, Disciple the Found, Give back to the Community, Edify the Church, all to eXalt the Savior.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Hey everyone,

I am writing tonight with a heavy heart. Currently, I am at a Christian pre-teen camp (meaning, we have about 150 kids aged 7 to 13 here) working with some of the young people who will make up the future of America—but not just America, but the world. I word it that way for a reason: I really worry about these kids.

Today, children move so quickly—and I don’t mean physically, but their entire lives. Mostly, that is the environment in which they were thrust. With everything working so quickly now, we can’t blame our children for expecting things so quickly. They get out of school, then go to practice for piano, only to come home, change into soccer clothes, and then go to soccer practice right after, stopping at McDonald’s along the way to get something to eat. They are owning phones at earlier and earlier ages, allowing them to connect with friends instantly when they are not physically present. Many of those phones have internet capability, with near-instant access to whatever information they so desire—good or bad.

Granted, I am a huge proponent of technology. We are a Windows family, with my wife and I having Windows Phones, my tablet, her laptop, and our family desktop all talking to each other and sharing information wirelessly between them. I find the networking amazing and utilize it to the best of my ability (and its capability). So understand that when I say the things I am about to say, I am not saying them with the voice of a bitter old man who wishes for the “good ol’ days when everything was so simple and we didn’t have all this techy nonsense!” I embrace technology and want to teach our children to use it properly.

However, I’m seeing a trend with kids today. They are so plugged into virtual life and all the consequences that it brings (both good and bad) that they are missing out on life. With instant access to anything, they only grasp a surface level understanding of the topic and then think they know about it. With friends, they are communicating mostly through text, which cannot hold anything substantial for a prolonged period of time. Without intonation and body languages, a simple, “Where are you?” can range from a heated, “Where are you so I can come beat the crap out of you!” to an “I have some of the most exciting news to tell you! Where are you?”

Sure, emoticons and longer texting can substitute occasionally for the miscommunication problem, but it doesn’t fix the problem of surface-level life. That’s what I think I am calling the “disease” many young people face: Surface-Level Life Syndrome. Kids today are only focusing on the immediate, what they can grab instantly, and what immediately gratifies their interests. Just watch a kid next time they surf YouTube. Count the number of seconds they wait before jumping to the next video either because it isn’t loading or because they become bored with it. (Obviously, this is an exception for kids who are not often exposed to electronics.)

It also comes out in conversations. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a deep talk with a youth about things that really matter. Sure, I have gone on for hours about Yugioh, Pokemon, and other various movies or TV shows. I have discussed martial arts, dodgeball, and HvZ with dozens of kids. But none of these are substantial.

I looked out tonight during the invitation after the pastor gave his alter call. He clearly lined out the gospel and how to get saved. He encouraged kids to come forward to make a commitment. He even stressed the emphasis of making such a decision. Nothing. Not a single kid responded. A few came up for prayer. That was it.

Hear me out, I am not one who is big on alter calls. I believe that a changed life is a much better indicator of actual commitment to Jesus than a prayer. I believe alter calls should be handled extremely carefully as to not sway someone into making an emotional decision. I can’t stand emotional manipulation to get people to commit to something they really know nothing about.

On the other hand, I also believe in the power of alter calls. I believe that psychologically, people will remember that moment forever, and some people need a mental anchor to cling to when making life changing decisions. I actually encourage alter calls for that reason.

But tonight? Nothing. Granted, I have no idea what went on inside the hearts of those kids. I don’t know what God is working on within them. I never base how well a sermon went by an alter call. But this night was different. It made me unsettled. It made me sad because it pointed out something: for the last few weeks I have been at camp, it’s really been the same thing. Nobody has responded to anything, really. Not that I have noticed.

What bugs me is that I see it on their faces. As I look around during and after the sermon, I see a few people intently listening. Most are either stone-faced or zoning out not paying attention. Some are obviously bored and have no problem showing it. The first group and the last group I expect, for that happens in every public speech ever given. However, it’s the stone-faced and zoned-out ones that worry me. It is like they are hearing, but not listening. They hear what the guy is saying, but are not applying to themselves.

That’s another symptom of Surface-Life Syndrome: disregard for anything they don’t really want to hear. I understand that is just part of being a kid, but it goes deeper than that. It is a selfish mindset people place themselves into where only they matter. In their own world, they are fine and content, and can do whatever they want. I actually heard a person leaving the sanctuary say, “I am the best Christian of all Christians who has ever Christian-ed.” While the comment was made in jest, I wonder how much of it rings true in the hearts of young people.

My problem is that kids today don’t seem to want more. They have everything. They have nothing to aspire to. I saw this surface within my generation as they approached college. When asking someone what they wanted to do with their life, many responded with, “I don’t know… I guess go to college…” They had no aspirations to be anything. Or, they had so many aspirations they didn’t know which one to pursue. Most times, if they had any aspirations, they were dramatically different. “I was thinking about being an aerospace engineer or a vet.” It is great to have dreams, but sometimes it is best to just pick one and pursue it with your whole being.

Outside of a Christian context, of the kids I am working with at school, I see no desire to be better, to go deeper, or to work harder. They are happy the way things are. I’m not saying that is a bad place to be at, but you can’t stay there. With no motivation and no goal, people waste away. There is a huge difference between being content with life and thinking everything is perfect the way it is.
I hope these kids go deeper. I pray they find something that tugs on their hearts and makes them want to be better. Personally, I wish it was God they sought. I know many of my unchristian friends disagree with that. I respect their opinions, but that’s still where my heart is.

I want to see kids yearn for God. I want them to realize their life can be so much better when they surrender what they want to him. He can make their life more abundant. No, it won’t be perfect, but it will be so much deeper. It will have meaning.

Sadly, I don’t think kids are coming to grips with anything that has meaning anymore. That breaks my heart. I wish they found meaning. I wish they saw that life was so much more than just the facts on the internet or the casual conversations they have with their friends. I wish they saw life was more than food and video games. I wish they saw that life was more than being the best on the football team or impressing the girl down the hall. There is a much deeper world out there if they will simply open their minds to it.

That is my prayer for the young people of this generation. I hope it is yours as well. 

ing his call, 

Monday, October 28, 2013


Hey everyone,

It's been a long time since I have written on here. I haven't forgotten about you, but as many of you are aware, life happens. And, boy, has life happened! I've had some ups and downs, but overall, all I have to say is that God reigns over all and that he deserves all the praise.

I'm going to start from where I left off. Some of you may have known that I was dating a girl at the time of my last post. Some of you may not have known this at all. I ended up proposing to that girl on Christmas of last year. About five months later, we were happily married.

Being married has been so good for me. People have told me that they have noticed something different about me ever since I have been married. I've been happier. I have had a spring in my step. I've been more friendly and cordial with people. God has blessed us financially and we have been doing well.

Granted, we had some bumps along the way, with jobs not panning out, school work getting too hard, and sickness. We managed to get through and praise God through it all. Everything seemed to be panning out... until about three weeks ago...

It all started when our dryer's heating element went out. I figured, eh, no big deal, I could replace it. While I was working on securing a relatively inexpensive heating element, we get a phone call from the mechanic we left our car with. A few days before, my wife's car was making some weird noises, so we sent it to the shop. The mechanic said that the transmission was totally out on the car, and it was way more money for us to fix, making the repairs equivalent of what the car was worth.

While we are deciding on what to do with the car, my brother brings the computer I loaned him to my house because the power supply went out on it. I try working on my laptop to order the new part, only to realize my laptop is no longer holding a charge.

In the midst of all of this, I head to work the next day. About a week has passed up to this point. As soon as I get in--I haven't even taken my coat off yet, I am informed that I have not been handling a situation the way one of my supervisors would like me to handle it. It frustrated me, because I love my job and I thought I had been doing so well. It was really heartbreaking to hear that I hadn't been doing it right.

On top of all of this, my ministry has been particularly stressful. I have some youth who have been super stressed and have been coming to me for help. I relish in helping these guys! I love that I can be the person who can direct them to Jesus and show them what next steps they should take. Nothing feels more fulfilling than serving youth as Jesus served his disciples. I love doing it! Yet, it is also stressful and puts an additional load on top of everything trying to help bear their burdens as well.

So, I begin trying to cross things off my list: I fix the computer for my brother, I fix my laptop, and then... my phone goes out. The antenna on my phone simply stops working. I cannot receive or send calls or texts. One more thing! Great! So, we begin the process of getting another phone.

The phone was to be delivered on Tuesday of last week. It never showed. I come home Wednesday--no package. I called, and they said they couldn't find it. Thursday, they called and said they had delivered it to the wrong address and were on their way.

I finally got the phone. Okay. The computer is fixed. I send it with my brother. My laptop is fixed. We end up deciding to sell the car for scrap. It was not the best choice, but about the only one open up to us right now. Things start to look up. I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or so I think...

My brother calls me back. Now, the graphics card went out on the computer. Oh well, easy fix, I think. He drops it off and I begin working on it.

Then the worst happens... We get a phone call... I had just gotten out of the shower when my wife comes in, her face red, tears pouring down her face, holding the phone, and screams in an barely understandable voice, "She's dead! Mom died this morning!"

"What?!" I scream back, embracing her. And we cry together. And we cry. And we cry some more. (And I am crying now writing this.) It was the absolute worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I have had some dramatically crazy things happen to me, and I have been very emotional, but never like this. I have been haunted ever since by that feeling of first finding out that someone you love so deeply has died; it is a horror that has been coming back into my mind over and over again over the past day or so.

Her mother had been battling cancer for about two years, and while it had taken a turn for the worse, death still seemed a long way off. She was just switching treatments and things were starting to look up. So the phone call took us totally by surprise. We had just Skyped her two days before. She seemed tired, but other than that, she looked fine, especially for someone with cancer.

And now I'm here, sitting in her parents house, composing this message with the funeral two days away, thinking a lot about the past three weeks. And crying. There has been a lot of that the past day or so. More importantly, I am thinking about the past year and all I have been through. I have been through so much.

I feel like Job. Everything seems to be going wrong. Life is stressful. We have problem after problem after problem come our way. I felt like every phone call, every email, every text message was just another harbinger bringing the next set of bad news: that my cattle had been all killed by invaders or that a windstorm had destroyed my flocks.

But then I remembered something. Before I can really play the victim; before I can play martyr for how crappy life has been, I need to remember what I do have. I still have my jobs. I still have my health. I still have my wife and she still has her jobs. We have an apartment and a way to get around. We are still insanely blessed. We have family. We have friends. And we have a great church.

Most of all, we have a great God. He has been with us the entire time, through the good and the bad of this past year. It is easy to go to one extreme or the other in these kinds of situations: either ignore God in the good and only come to him in the bad like he is some cosmic vending machine that you insert prayers into and out pops the answer you wanted, or we celebrate with God with the good and blame him for all the bad. Yet, it was not his fault in any of this. He has been with us helping us through all of it.

As I sit here and I think about my mother-in-law, I have to smile through the tears. She had a very close relationship with Jesus. She was always challenging us to grow closer to God and was constantly telling us the things the Holy Spirit was teaching her. Even when she was sick, she treated it with joy, joking about the funny things that would happen along the way.

Now, I know for a fact that she is doing Zumba down the golden streets with Jesus, totally healed and happier than I can even imagine.

Although it pains me so much that she isn't here with me right now, I'm glad to know she is no longer in pain. Selfishly, I want her here. I want her to see her grandbabies. I want to sit down with her for coffee (while I drink tea, of course) and listen to her funny stories as she recounts her life before Christ and how much God has changed her. I miss her laugh. I miss her happiness with life. I miss the way she would sing off-key in the kitchen and not even care. I miss the way she kind of danced when she thought nobody was looking. Selfishly, I miss her. But I know she is truly happy now.

This time, is a time for grieving. Yes, life has been insanely hard for my wife and I, but we have a great God who can help us through it all. All we have to do is persevere.

persevere /ˌpərsəˈvi(ə)r/ (verb) 1. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

We have to go through grieving. We have to mourn. We have to cry. We have to let life happen and move on through it all. Life is tough.

It is not about asking, "Why did this happen?" but more of, "Where do I go from here?" And for us, the only way to go is forward in the face of adversity--to strive forward even though it will be difficult. We persevere.

Following His Call,

Friday, November 2, 2012


Hey everyone!

I know it has been a while since I have written on here, so I am going to try to get back into the habit of writing again.

Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, I thought of this brilliant idea to be intentionally thankful for something each day. I wrote up a thankful Facebook post and pressed, "Post." Feeling rather proud of myself for thinking of such a good idea, I started scrolling down my newsfeed to see what was going on in the world, considering I haven't been on Facebook in a while. What I discovered was that my "original idea" wasn't all that original. After the sixth post about being thankful this month for something new each day, I was humbled pretty quickly. *sigh* God always has a way of doing that to me.

Don't get me wrong: I honestly didn't write that post to get attention or start a trend. I legitimately feel God telling me I should be thankful this month for something new each day; to really dwell on and appreciate whatever comes to my mind.

I think that this sudden feeling of thankfulness is the result of two things in my life:

First, God has been insanely blessing me since I have graduated. I feel like I have done absolutely nothing to deserve the wonderful treatment I have been getting from people. People at my church and my job have been so overwhelmingly friendly to me. God has been blessing my ministry. All of my bills have been covered. I am going to grad school. I have a beautiful girlfriend who lives only two minutes away! My life could not be better at this point. And there is nothing I have done to deserve it. I haven't worked hard to get to where I am. (I mean, I have worked hard, but my hard work doesn't correlate to people's nice behavior or my girlfriend being so close.) I have simply been given so many wonderful gifts that I do not deserve.

Secondly, a resurgence of complaining has seemed to arise recently. I don't know if complaining has actually increased in the past few weeks or if I have become more sensitive to the already existent complaints, but either way, I am hearing it more now than I did a few weeks ago.

The act of complaining has had a unique experience in my life. I understand its necessity at times, but I also believe that it is unproductive and more harmful than good. I have done my fair share of complaining, but every time I do, I can always hear God in the back of my mind, raising his eyebrow, stating, "Really? You think you deserve better? Do you realize what I go through each day?" I'm definitely not perfect in this respect. By all means, I complain every day; many times I do not realize that I am doing it until I hear that still, small voice in the back of my mind. For some reason, I am extra sensitive to it, especially from others.

Most complaints I have heard involve health and jobs. From these, I determined what bugs me about complaining: unproductiveness.

Let's look at jobs for a minute. I am very thankful for the jobs I have right now, and I will be the first to admit that God has insanely blessed me in this area. I do understand not everyone is blessed in this way. Some people are stuck in their job, either locked in by contract for a set amount of time, or because there simply are not other jobs available. My heart goes out to these people because I have been in their shoes. Back in high school, I needed a job to help pay off my car. I took the only job I could get: a janitor at my high school. I'm sorry, I was a "sanitations engineer." As I'm sure many of you are familiar with, putting a nicer title on it doesn't make the job any more glamorous. It also doesn't stop the ridicule you get from your classmates as you walk by with a huge vacuum pack on your back carrying a long vacuum wand. I took out trash, cleaned up bathrooms, and vacuumed up junk people threw down in the hallway. I think one of my favorite discoveries was a half-eaten cheeseburger shoved in between the seats in our theater. Judging by it's texture and smell, it had been there for several weeks. It was... delightful....

Did I complain? Absolutely! I grumbled in my head everyday about stupid high schoolers and their blatant disrespect for other people's property (even though, I, too, was a high schooler). The thought crossed my mind several times to reverse the flow of the vacuum and shove the hose into the vents at the top of each locker and just let the dust and gunk flow into their belongings, but I never did. Obviously, the Holy Spirit scolded me for that one.

Through all of this wonderfully glamorous work, God was teaching me something: I am in a service job. It is MY JOB to serve others and pick up stuff after people. It is MY JOB to clean up junk left around. So... I was complaining about something I was REQUIRED to do. Where was the logic in that? Sure, it was gross, but it came with the job. Where did I get the idea that I was suddenly above this; that I deserved better? Did I really deserve better? Because I was smarter, did that make me a better person? Because I was an intellectual, did that mean that I shouldn't have to stoop so low and do the work of a "lower person"? Because I was the top of my class, did that mean people should respect me and not laugh at me as I walked by?

I was reminded of a story in the Bible that I am sure many of us are familiar with. Back in the days of the Roman empire, most everyone walked where they needed to go. Only the rich could afford transportation like horses or donkeys. Note that the roads people traveled on were the same roads that the horses and donkeys traveled on. Also note that people back then did not have boots or even shoes, but wore sandals. (Many of you already know where I am going with this, but slow down and bear with me. Really think about the implications of what I am going to say next.) On the last night Jesus was alive (before he rose again), he stooped down, took off his outer robe, and washed his disciples feet--the same feet that had been walking though the dirt, mud, and poop along the road for miles and miles. People also didn't take showers back then. They didn't have toenail clippers. They didn't have medicine for things like athletes foot or blisters. Feet back then were probably the most disgusting part of a person's body, and THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE bowed down and rubbed his hands all over their nasty feet to serve them and clean them up.

Think about it.

Did Jesus once complain? Did he once think that he was better than them? Of all people, Jesus had the right to demand this job was beneath him. He was the intellectual of all intellectuals. He was the smartest person alive (even if you don't believe him to be God, the man started a movement that altered the course of history--that's pretty intelligent to me).

This comes to my mind every time I hear a complaint. This has caused a problem for me. People  will come to me complaining about their jobs like they deserve to be treated better, and I don't know what to tell them. They are seeking comfort and justification: "Yes! You do deserve more! You are worth so much more! You are smarter than your boss! You are a better worker than everyone else at your job! You are smarter than this multi-billion dollar company! You do know how to run the company better than everyone else above you!" The arrogance that filters through in the complaints rub me wrong. It makes me uncomfortable. I shift in my seat, not knowing what to say.

"Adam, can you believe they make us wear these stupid hats at work?! They don't even serve a purpose!"
Actually, they do... You work food service. By law, you are required to cover your head in preparation of food...

"Adam, the customers at the store treat me horribly! They have no respect for people in my position!"
Well, yes they don't. I really feel for you, but there isn't anything we can do about that. You're in a service job; people think they have a right to treat you like trash. It isn't right at all, but people are jerks and we can't change that, so we can either let that bug us or ignore it, treat it as part of our job, and let it go. 

"Adam, can you believe they are making me go through training again!? I have been there for seven years! I know what to do!"
Yes, but it is the company's policy to retrain people each year for insurance and security reasons. It is to make sure they are covered by law, not because they think you are stupid. So, just do it and don't complain about it. It comes with the job. 

"Adam, my boss treats me like crap and has no respect for me! He's also an idiot and doesn't know how to manage!"
Yeah, he's on a power trip. There isn't much we can do about it. But he is in a position of authority for  a reason. He may be an idiot, he may not know how to do his job, and he may get fired. But until he is either fired or leaves, there isn't much else we can do. When his job opens up, apply for it and be an awesome boss! For now, just be the best employee you can possibly be. The moment you snap back to him is the moment you become just like him. It takes a better person to rise above ridicule and handle rejection with grace. Just look at Jesus.

"Adam, can you believe they passed me up for promotion again?! I have been there twelve years! If anyone deserves to be manager, it is me."
I'm sorry, but being at a job a certain amount of time does not entitle you to a better job. Your work ethic, friendliness, and professionalism allow your superiors to consider you for promotion. Even then you are not guaranteed you will get it. Being in a job for a long time does not mean you know everything about leadership either. Honestly, I wouldn't hire you if you worked for be because of your work ethic. 

"Adam, these kids are driving me crazy! I cannot wait until the weekend when I will be free of them!"
Um... why did you go to school for education and choose a job that puts you right in the middle of little kids all the time? O.o

"Adam, can you believe that I have to keep the logo on my uniform uncovered so the customers can see it?! They came into this store, they know where they are. They don't need to see my logo to know where they are. It is a stupid rule that makes no sense."
Yes, but it is all about professionalism. It is their company policy, and no matter how stupid it may sound, that is how they do things. It doesn't matter if it makes sense; it is all about if you can follow orders and do what your superiors tell you to do. You are not the manager, you are not the CEO, so when you are, you can make the rues. Until then, you can follow them like a good employee. 

In my second job, God taught me something else I alluded to above: that if I cannot change it, then there is no point in complaining about it. I worked in the Meat Department at HyVee. I would do pretty much everything. Most of the time, I closed up the meatshop at night. It was one of the most demanding jobs I have ever had, because while I was trying to clean everything off, customers would come up and want something from the meat case or want something cut up. I would have to stop everything I was doing, clean up, and get what they needed. Many nights, I would stay an extra hour or two past when I was supposed cleaning up before I could go home.

Did I complain about this? Heck yes! I grumbled to everyone I talked to about my job until God made it clear to me: Could I change the amount of customers who came in asking for stuff? No. Could I change who was scheduled that day to help me out more? No. Could I work any faster? No. So would complaining solve anything? Absolutely not.

There are some things I could change. After a while, my job got too much for me to handle, trying to balance two majors in school and my job. I couldn't change the length of my hours, I couldn't get any days off, so I changed the only thing I could: I quit. When the job got too much, rather than complain, I took action. I left.

Yet, I do know somethings we cannot change. Our health is one thing we cannot change (for the most part). I have had friends who do not get regular hours of sleep, eat only junk food, and eat that junk food in vast quantities when they do eat. Then my friends complain about not feeling well after their poor choices. In these situations, they have no right to complain because they did it to themselves. I am not talking about these poor choices when I mean health. What I mean are those who have conditions they had no control over. Diseases like Crohn's Disease, diabetes, or juvenile onset arthritis are what I am talking about. Every person I have ever met with a condition like these have never once complained about it. They deal with it because they have realized that there is nothing they can do to get rid of it. Complaining doesn't make their disease any lighter or easier to live with. Sure, they may complain sometimes when the disease flairs up and gets more difficult than normal (although I have never heard them complain about their respective diseases, but I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they may complain when I am not around), but for the most part they deal with it. Complaining does nothing productive.

However, complaining does make us feel better.

That is probably the main reason we complain: it makes us feel better. We may feel justified, or encouraged, or relieved. I do understand that psychologically, we do need to vent. We need to blow off steam because, let's be honest, people frustrate us to no end. I am totally okay with venting, when it is appropriate and cited in the correct context.

However, psychology also shows that continual negative attitudes are actual detrimental to our physical health. Continual complaining actually makes us feel worse and may affect our physical condition. Studies have shown that stress can cause acne, digestive problems, and headaches. We need to strike a good balance between venting and complaining,

The complaints I listed above are not justified and not venting because they are not appropriate complaints. Sure, if I had a rough day and my boss was extra hateful to me or the customers were extra spiteful, then yes, I have every right to blow off some steam. But complaining about it every day is not justified. It would be like me complaining about cleaning up trash when I was a janitor--I'm complaining about something that comes with the job.

Another thing I consider when I hear complaints is the ungrateful attitude in people's voices. Rather than being thankful for having a job, or having kids, or being alive, or being thankful for whatever they are complaining about, all I hear is the horrible things that are happening. If all I hear are the bad things that are happening, then how will I know what is good? The truth is, we should be thankful that we even have a job. In my limited travels, I have seen people who don't have anything and would be thrilled to have a paying job like we have in America. But because we are Americans, we think we deserve better. We think that people should treat us like king--or at least with respect. Truth is, nobody owes us anything. We don't deserve respect. Yes, I think we should always give respect, but we don't deserve respect. We are not entitled to being treated nicely. Some will disagree with this, but that is my philosophy. I believe entitlement is one of the most dangerous traps to get ourselves into.

This is why I feel God is telling me to be thankful for something new each day. I feel I am so unworthy of everything I have been given. I am going to be thankful this month for even the little things. I pray that you will  join me and find something that you are thankful for each day. If it is a person, tell them how much they mean to you. Share the love and thanksgiving around!

God bless you all and may you have an awesome month of November!

Following his call,
Psalm 69:30

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Hey everyone!

So I have this friend… 

Okay, so in this instance, I actually am truthfully talking about one of my dear friend and not myself. For the purposes of anonymity to respect his or her privacy, the person shall remain gender neutral. However, because I do not want to have to use gender neutral pronouns this entire blogpost, I will simply use the feminine pronouns in my narrative.  Also, I am about 90% sure this person will never read this blogpost anyway, so I don’t think it should be a problem. Plus (but most importantly), I asked my friend profusely if it would be okay if I shared these stories and my friend said it would be totally fine.

With that said, I shall begin:

I met my friend years ago, so we have been pretty close for a while. She doesn’t realize it, but she has taught me so much about myself and about life. She is not a real deep person. In fact, she hates emotions and talking about emotions. It is ironic that she is like that because she is a feeler-type and emotions make most of her decisions. She does what feels right most of the time rather than taking the time to think it out and analyze what is best for her.

My friend is so dramatically different than I am. We are opposites in most ways. She is more secluded and introverted, where I love being around as many people as I can. She feels her decisions out where I use the scientific method on a daily basis. She hates talking about deep stuff where I thrive on it. Sometimes I wonder why we are friends.

I have known her for such a long time; she has often come to me for advice. I try to give it to her as much as I can, but most of the time, I do some overkill and give her way more advice than she wants to hear. Because she is so secluded in nature and doesn’t talk about what is going on in her life, I try to hit all the bases every time I see her, which tends to be overkill. Many times I see her rolling her eyes and shaking her head walking away from our conversations as if to say, “Thanks, Adam. I only wanted to know that one thing…”

Yet somehow through all this miscommunication and dramatic differences in personalities, we have developed a close bond. (I talk about this bond somewhat in my blogpost: Feelings.) We could go months without speaking and still talk as if no time had passed.

Because we are so bonded, I want the absolute best for her. I see her as one of my blood relatives, even though we are not actually related. There are few people in this world I am as close to as I am to my friend. However, when you are that close to someone, while you get many blessings, you also have the greatest potential to get hurt.

And that’s what happened.

My friend has never done or said anything directly to me to hurt me, but her actions speak volumes. As I stated above, she often comes to me for advice, and like an idiot, I always provide overkill on the advice. Still, she manages to listen and take into consideration what I say… but then goes around and does the exact opposite.

I won’t mention anything specific that she has done, but I will make up a hypothetic scenario to describe what a typical situation would be like. This will be hard because not all the emotions are transferrable between situations, but I will try my best to describe in this scenario how I would feel (were it to be true) and hopefully that will correlate to the other scenario:

My friend came up to me asking advice on what to do with her boyfriend. After giving her my opinion on what she should do, I share with her what I feel God would want her to do and then (as is true to my nature) talk her into the ground about what she should and shouldn’t do. Above all else, I strongly advise her not to sleep with him, because I have known her for so long and I know what is best for her. Sleeping with a guy would not only hurt her emotionally, but it would really mess with her mind too. She listens, nods, and says, “Okay, Adam, I hear ya. I won’t sleep with him. Thanks.” And the conversation is over.

I talk with her a few months later, and after our initial banter, she says, “Alright, Adam, I… uh… have a confession to make… I slept with that guy…” Words cannot describe what was going on in my heart and head at that moment. A mixture of sadness, anger, bitterness, surprise, disappointment, understanding, sympathy, thankfulness, and resentment were jumping around in my head so fast I couldn’t make out what to feel. On the outside I responded coolly, calm and collected. I told her I was upset about it and I was disappointed, but I still loved her and thought she should do what was best. She promised to never do it again.

A few months later, we talk once more. Again, after our initial banter, she confesses to me that she has had relations with three other men. Again, the feelings resurface. This was exactly why I warned her about sleeping around, because I knew that it would overwhelm her and not mean as much as it should. This time, I was even angrier than I was before. She had told me she would do something and completely did the opposite. She promised. She went back on that promise. It felt as if she had slapped me in the face and said, “Ya know, what Adam!? I know you think you know what is best for me, but screw you, man! I’m gonna do whatever I want to do!” I felt like I was losing her. I felt that I didn’t know her anymore. Who was this kid? This wasn’t the friend I grew up with and knew so well? What was she morphing into?

Whatever she was becoming, I knew it wasn’t good. I knew she was on a path that only led her to more pain and more sadness. She was trying to look for happiness in the only ways she knew how. My anger turned to deep sorrow. I grieved. I wept at night (literally) thinking about how to help her out. But her solemn nature kept her from talking to me about how she was feeling.

I sat patiently, waiting to see when she would talk to me, the entire time feeling like she was drifting away and that she was becoming someone who I didn’t know anymore. I watched her go through pain over and over again, never seeking help, just enduring it because society has told her that was the right thing to do; that she needed to deal with all her emotions herself to be strong. The entire time, she is only killing herself inside.

It was in that moment that God spoke to me. God told me, “Imagine how I feel every day, Adam. You have a strong heart for your friend, and you want the best for her, but I love every person on this planet. Imagine how I feel watching them walk away and ignore me on a daily basis. Imagine how I feel when they totally ignore my advice and do what they want to do. Imagine how I feel getting slapped in the face every moment of every day.”

It was in that moment that God showed me what love really was. God endures so much of our problems and still chose to come down into the middle of this rotten mess and walk among us. He knew how much people would ignore him and push him away, and he still chose to die a death that we deserved. He still died for us. He still sacrificed himself. He still chose to put our needs above his own feelings. He was still looking out for us when we were being selfish jerks.

That is true love. Agape. Unconditional, unrelenting, pure love.

He taught me that in that moment.

I am still waiting on my friend to trust me. I am still waiting her to open up and let me help her. Until then, I am praying and letting God teach me what patience and love is all about.

Think about that love today. Think about what God has done for you and what you are doing in return. Think about how much God really loves you. Think about how much you take that for granted.

I know I will.

Following his call,
John 15:13

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Hey everyone!

I am not a man well acquainted with feelings. I am a thinker, a philosopher, one whose primary actions center on well-thought out plans coming from the mind. However, recently, I am realizing emotions have much more of a say in my actions than I would like to admit.

I have this ability to gain emotional connections to people. I know, surprising, right? I am the ONLY person in the world with the ability. Nobody else could POSSIBLY understand how I emotionally connect with people.

Okay, so enough sarcasm. In reality, I do grow incredibly close to a select few people in my life. These people I have allowed to influence me and change my emotional state through something as simple as a few words. These people know me inside and out and know what can push my buttons and what can make me feel ecstatic.

I have allowed these people to have that authority in my life because I love them. I feel a special kinship—an emotional bond to them that I cannot describe. Making that connection can be a rather frightening thing because, while it has the potential for so much good, it also can be the instrument for so much pain.

I am realizing this first hand. I have been hurt so much throughout my life. I have had people break my heart and walk all over me. People who I have been closest to have said some of the most hurtful things I have ever heard. I have cried. I have broken down. I have even been depressed from time to time.

Because of this, I have developed this other ability: the ability to cut someone off emotionally from my life in an instant. While I hold them close to my heart, if they hurt me, I can cut them off and quickly jump from, “Oh hey! That guy is my best friend!” to, “Oh hey! We used to be best friends a long time ago!” very quickly—more quickly than most people. I have talked to several people about this, and they say it is very unhealthy for me to do because I never go through the process of loss and grief.

To an extent, I believe them. I do need to go through grief and process pain when someone hurts me. But at the same time, I have found this is my coping mechanism. Each person develops their own defensive mechanisms when dealing with stress and pain. Mine happens to be cutting people off.

In reality, the pain is still there, and I process it, but more privately, in my own mind and in my own way. I still feel the grief, but I let it out in the privacy of my own solitude and deal with it in chunks. People generally don’t see what is going on in my heart and mind. I keep things to myself so I don’t have to elude any sign of weakness. I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems.

At least this is how I used to think. One of the biggest lies in the world for men is that, to be a man, you have to be able to be strong enough to deal with all of your problems by yourself. You have to be the lone wolf, the silent strongman, the lone ranger, the rebellious vigilante who doesn’t need anyone in order to be masculine. Society tells us that in order to be a man; we have to put on this aura like we have everything together. Because that aura is masculine.

This couldn’t be far from the truth.

I am honestly not sure where this paradigm came from and frankly, I don’t care. The point is, it is a lie. Men today are constantly hurting themselves over and over and over again because they feel that talking about emotions are taboo and feminine. Well, to be honest, talking about emotions is somewhat feminine. But if a man wants to be a complete man, then he needs to embrace a bit of femininity to be balanced. Ask any woman out there what they prize in a man, and every one will tell you that they admire a guy who can talk about his feelings in a reasonable way and be sensitive—without being over emotional. Some guys out there take it too far and have what I call emotional diarrhea. (Sorry for that image, but that’s what I feel like when some guy comes up to me a sobbing, emotional mess and just drops it all over me.)

The point is, we need to be open with our emotions. The lie is that if we talk with another person about our emotions, then we must be weak because we can’t deal with it ourselves. Well, I have a news flash for everyone: you are too weak to deal with your emotions on your own. You will never meet a human being on the planet who is perfect and has everything all figured out. Everyone needs somebody else. We are a social people, whether or not we like it. People who shut themselves off from the world become bitter and resentful. We need each other. We need to open up to each other.

Another lie is that if we share our problems, we are just putting a burden on another person. Well, that is partly true, but the lie is in the hidden implication that other people don’t want to handle our burdens. That couldn’t be far from the truth. If you really love someone, you want to help them. You want what is best for them. You would NEVER be burdened if they came to you with a problem. (Unless you, yourself were so burdened with crap that you can’t take on anything else. But if that is the case, then you need to let someone else help you with your burdens so you can help someone else.)

If you are anything like me, you need to understand like I did that people really do care about you and the “burdens” that you carry, really aren’t burdens at all. Our burdens seem so heavy when we carry them, so we don’t want anyone else to have to suffer like we do, but what we don’t understand is that other people have already carried their burdens and let go of them and have developed a strength to be able to carry it effortlessly. They can come along side and help you carry it because they already have developed the strength so it isn’t heavy to them.

I’ll give you a personal example. When my now ex-girlfriend broke up with me a few years ago, I was devastated. I had never loved a woman so much in my entire life. When she broke up with me, she didn’t just say, “Oh, Adam, I think we should meet new people. There are plenty of fish in the sea. I feel like we are growing apart…” yada, yada, yada.  She instead decided to bring up every secret I had confessed to her, every personal thing I have ever shared, and used them all against me. As I later described it to a friend, it literally felt like she had performed a Mortal Kombat move and ripped my heart out of my chest, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, breathed fire over it, spit on it, and then shoved it back in my chest as I fell down and the announcer said, “Girlfriend wins!”

I was a shattered mess after that relationship. I did my quick emotional cut from her that I described above, but the pain was still there. But I kept it to myself. I had to carry my burden. I started snapping at those people closest to me who were just trying to help. It took me a while to realize that other people have experienced harsh break ups too. But in my pride and arrogance, I thought I was the only human on the planet to have ever felt this way and that nobody could possibly understand or help me out.

I began the slow process of talking it out with people; sharing a little bit here and there. I found that people had already been there before and had gone through a break up and could help me carry my own burden. To my shock, it didn’t burden them as much as I thought it would. They would smile and reassure me that everything would be okay. I wasn’t a hindrance to them as I thought I was. In fact, they were glad to have me talking to them about it.

The lie is that if we keep our burdens to ourselves that people won’t hurt like we do. But in my own personal experience, I discovered that people hurt anyway. If you are emotionally bonded with another person, when you are hurting, they hurt too. In fact, they hurt more because they know that something is bothering you, but they don’t know what. So they stew over it in their mind, trying to figure it out, and it only causes them more worry and more stress. If I was just upfront with my friends with how I felt, they would be like, “Oh! That’s what’s bothering you? Oh! Why didn’t you say something? That’s nothing, man! We can get through this! I thought it was much worse than what it was. I got your back man.”  If I would just share my burden with them to begin with, I could prevent a lot of heartache on their part.

Sometimes people legitimately don’t know what we are going through. I have a personal struggle that I KNOW most people will never understand (but that is a blogpost for another time). What I have learned through sharing is that, even though they may not understand, my friends still want to listen to me and be there for me. They want to be supportive in any way they can. They may not be able to grasp what I am going through, but they know I am hurting and want to help. Sometimes, I let them feel like they are helping when in reality they aren’t doing much. But it makes them feel better. It makes them feel involved in my life. And I appreciate their company, even if they cannot help.

In essence, the TLDR of this is: treasure your friends and keep them close in your life. Don’t cut them out. Don’t arrogantly think that you have it all under control. Let your friends support you. Don’t believe the lie that you have to be a loner to be masculine. Embrace some femininity and you will be rewarded.

I love you all and hope you have a blessed day.

Following his call,
Proverbs 18:24

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Hey everyone!

I thought I would post here about something very close to my heart and something I deal with on a daily basis: what it means to be a minister. What I have found is that I am not alone in how I feel many times. So, I thought I would tell you what it was like and hope you learn something from this.

First off, people who are in the ministry are not more spiritual than you: they are just like you in every way; they don't have more divine insight. They may study their Bible more because they have more time to do so, but that doesn't make them better in any way. They are human just like you, with (as my pastor would say it) hurts and hangups, blessings and baggage. Pastors will make mistakes and they will disappoint you, but do not berate them because of their position, they are doing the best they can.They will be held accountable to God for what they teach others and God will judge them accordingly. 

When people see a pastor, they tend to judge him more harshly. In some cases, that is necessary. Because I am put in a position as a "spiritual leader" of a group of people, I am called to higher standards. I am totally okay with that, even the Bible says that an overseer must be someone "above reproach" or "blameless." (1 Timothy 3:2) I try to live my life in light of 1 Corinthians 8-14, of which I focus on chapter 10, versus 31-33 which say in the NLT, "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved."

Yet, I have found that no matter what I do, someone is always offended in some way. I try to "be careful so that [my] freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble," (1 Corinthians 10:9 NLT) but I often check my Facebook page to find depressing comments on my links and even more depressing messages in my inbox. Sometimes the criticisms are valid, and I need to change something about myself. Other times, people are trying to graft onto me what they think a pastor should be. (More on this later.)

Remember that pastors are not super-humans. They are not given more spiritual gifts than you have been given.You have everything that they are offered at your disposal as well. God doesn't give them special powers or make them more equipped than you are. The same God that loves them and gives them what they need will give you what you need. Don't leave everything up to the pastor and say, "Oh, that's the pastors job to do that," because you are called to be a minister too. You may not be called to lead a congregation, preach, or teach the Bible, but you are called to be a minister to every person you run into. Don't just chalk all these responsibilities as a Christian up to the pastor and let him do all the work. You, as a congregation member, have just a much work to do. Don't place the burden all on him. 

Second, pastors feel called or compelled to do their job, and are not drafted, forced, or beat into doing it. The calling is a unique experience. I cannot speak for every pastor, so I will just describe what it is like for me: 

I feel like no matter what I do, I cannot be satisfied in any other occupation other than ministry. Every time I have found myself searching out something other than ministry, I have found myself right back to ministering wherever I was at. Everywhere I go I do some kind of ministering. I cannot turn it off. It is like a compulsion that I just feel I should do. 

Understand, I am not being forced to do this, I want to do this. Well, I "want" to do it to a certain extent. Nobody wants to have to deal with complaining, bitter people who argue all the time about whether or not the church should have green carpet or grey carpet or listen to gossip about how Jane didn't bring a salad to the potluck like she was supposed to. Christian people tend to get very childish and irritating at times, so what person in their right mind would want to have to put up with stuff like that daily? Ministry isn't something I necessarily want to do, but at the same time I very much want to do it. It is an interesting paradox. I feel compelled to do it and found that I could not escape from it. 

We know that pastors are human and that they are called to this ministry, but the third thing you must know is that each pastor's ministry looks very different because they are led very different people. This is probably the biggest misunderstanding about pastorship because, for some reason, many people believe that each pastor should be the same. I do not understand this; God has called each person differently and equipped each person differently: why do people expect them all to be the same and have the same values and pursue the same goals? 

Every pastor is (at least supposed to be) pursuing Christ and trying to advance the Kingdom of God. How they go about those goals are different, because there are thousands of different types of people in the world. One pastor may be more soft-spoken, like a teacher. Another is more in-you-face and hardcore while another works with youth and tends to be a bit crazy. Some pastors work with the broken and those on the fringe of society so they go to places most Christians wouldn't dare step into. Each person is different for a reason: why don't we let them minister in the way they are called stop grafting them into our ideal pastor?

What most people don't realize is the pressure put on pastors or other ministers. They are expected to perform, to rise above, to be the flawless example that they can look up to and their children and grandchildren can aspire to be. I wouldn't disagree with these expectations. I want all pastors to be exceptional men or women of God that everyone should look up to.

However, what I have found is that most of the time people are not attributing Biblical characteristics of what a pastor should be onto a pastor, but are instead applying what their interpretation of a pastor should be onto that person. These people are well-meaning, but they are depressing the pastor more than anything. Rather than look at what the pastor is doing right, they hone in on one thing that they do not approve of and criticize the pastor for that.

I cannot count the number of messages I have received from people who had my best interest at heart, but have tried to graft onto me their image of what a perfect pastor should be. Most of the time these people remember a pastor from their past--or even a current pastor that really changed their life--and apply that template onto another pastor. Other times, people will create what they believe is a perfect God-man in their mind and graft that onto the current pastor they do not believe is living up to their standard. What results from this fusion of expectations is a frustrated pastor and a frustrated congregation member that is not happy with how the pastor is performing.  

Let's give an example (and I will use a totally hypothetical one so nobody gets offended): 

Jairus, a young pastor, is called to the ministry and is called to reach a younger crowd of people. He decides he is going to get a Bible verse tattooed on his arm as a personal commitment between him and God and to act as a conversation starter between him and the people he will be witnessing to. He then proceeds to post a status about getting a tattoo on Facebook, where Sally Sue, an older member of his previous church, quickly jumps onto the status and writes him a personal message about how many people he will lead down a very dark path if he gets a tattoo.

Sally comes from a very conservative southern town where only the non-Christian bikers wore tattoos. They were a sign of rebellion and a wild parting lifestyle. She believes that a pastor, a spiritual leader, should never get a tattoo because he will be endorsing that behavior. She watched Jairus grow up in the church: he was such a strapping young boy with good potential! Now she feels he is backsliding and succumbing to the temptations of the world when in reality he is reaching out to a new generation. His other Christian friends support this decision and think that it will be a good conversation starter for his new ministry. Jairus feels stuck. He feels the severe questioning of his elder who desperately wants him to mold into her image of a pastor while he is trying to reach out to a group of people who have never been reached before. How can he reach one group without isolating himself from another?

Let's look at another hypothetical scenario: 

In high school, Cody was the star church boy. He was the exemplar of the youth group, the model of what a Christian young man should be. He wore the Jesus-ware, prayed every day out at the flagpole at his school, and even led a Bible study after school in one of the Christian teacher's classrooms. All the church members were so proud of him.

When he went to college, he realized that he could not relate to anyone who wasn't a Christian. Nobody wanted to be around "that hyper religious boy" because they felt he was always trying to convert them. Cody realized that he had been so wrapped up in the Christian subculture that he had lost his ability to talk to normal people. 

In order to reconnect with non-Christians, he started hanging out with those who did not follow Christ. He even went to parties just to talk to people, although he never drank anything. He stopped being so pushy about his beliefs and chose to let those conversations come up naturally. His patience was soon rewarded one night when he went to a bar with one of his friends. They ended up having a deep talk about spiritual matters over a game of pool. The young man expressed an interest in "this Jesus guy" and was eager to learn more about him. Feeling accomplished, Cody goes to church the next morning to tell everyone what had happened, but the more he shared, the more criticism he got from those he thought would be supportive.

"You went where?"
"Why did you think that would be a good idea?"
"You are called to the ministry, Cody. You should NOT be going to in places like that! What if someone saw you?"
"Do you realize what goes on in those kinds of places? Do you realize what could have happened?"
"You could have had that conversation anywhere outside that place." 

Cody was distraught. Didn't Jesus hang out at the houses of tax collectors and sinners? he thought. Wasn't Jesus labeled a "friend of sinners?" Why am I supposed to distance myself from them?

Cody didn't realize that they weren't trying to say he couldn't hang out with non-Christians; they didn't think he, as a future pastor, should go to a place where so much sin took place. These well-meaning people believe that by going to a bar, he is (1) endorsing all the sin that goes on there or (2) potentially leading someone else who is at a weak state in their life into more sin. 

In my experience (although it is rather limited), the only people who are ever rattled by events like this are those who have been in church for decades. Those who are younger or weaker Christians don't see a pastor succumbing to the wills of the world but often see it as a pastor being more relevant to them and sympathetic to their struggles, willing to go to places where they thought that  a pastor never should go. I have never met a young Christian or a weaker Christian say, "Ya know, I decided to start drinking again because I saw my pastor in a bar once." In fact, my theory has Biblical weight: the people who were most upset about Jesus traveling around with "sinners and tax collectors" were the religious elite of the day, not the weaker Christians.

Some pastors end up turning a blameless lifestyle into a self-righteous lifestyle, distancing themselves from others inadvertently. Instead of reaching people, a "holy" title is strapped onto them and those who do not follow Jesus feel they could never be apart of his "holy" lifestyle:

"I could never be like him, he is too perfect."
"Why would I be a Christian? He isn't allowed to do anything. He can't go here, he can't go there. All he can do is go to church and read his Bible."
"You can't say those words around him! He's a pastor! You'll get smited or something!"

What we, as the Church, have done is turned our pastors into holy men that are other than human. People feel like they are unrelatable as human beings. Pastors are in this "other" category that most non-Christians feel is (1) unattainable to them or (2) totally unlike them in every way and feel like they cannot be apart of it. In essence, Christianity has become its own culture to the detriment of the message of Christ. People feel Christianity is such a radically different lifestyle and totally unappealing to the common person that Christianity, as a whole, is shrinking.

Granted, in some ways, it should be unappealing. Sacrificing yourself daily isn't very fun at all. Giving up the things you love that take up all your time in order that you can devote that time to better things is not something regular people do. Realizing that there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation is a huge act of faith that seems ridiculous. Despite these very unappealing things, people were still drawn to Jesus. They came to him by the hundreds. 


Because they saw something in him they wanted. 

This charisma is what should be happening to our pastors, yet most of our pastors are seen as distant from everyday life. Normal people feel they cannot relate to them and don't really want to be around them. They are not drawn to them like they should be. But this isn't just a pastor problem: this is a Christian problem. Yes, pastors are supposed to shine the light of Christ, but as I said before, don't put all the responsibility on the pastor. Take responsibility yourself and let Christ move in you so you too can be "a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14, NLT)

I have been in very similar situations as what I described above in the hypothetical scenarios. In fact, I had one lady tell me (in essence; I am paraphrasing what I heard and interpreted from her statements, not what she actually said): 

"Adam, I could never go to the church where you are a pastor. In fact, I had to hide all updates from you on Facebook because they enrage me so much. I feel that you have gone too far and allowed to much of the world in. I fear that you will be leading other people down a wrong path. I fear for your future congregation and I pray for them if you are going to be their pastor. I think you will lead many people astray from God if you keep following this path."

Yup. That was really uplifting, which brings me to my fourth point:

You can make or break a pastor's ministry. 

I think this is the point I am trying to make in this long post: support your pastor. 

It is so easy to walk up to the pastor and criticize him or tell him what you think he should be doing in his ministry or at the church. It is easy to walk up and complain about someone else not doing their job and to tell him that he needs to speak to said person in order to make them do the right thing. It is so easy to vent to him about all your problems and then say, "I feel a lot better," and go home feeling refreshed, not realizing that he listened to six other people vent to him before you. It is hard to tell him just how much his ministry means to you.

I'm not saying that you cannot vent to the pastor; that is his job (and calling) to listen to you and help you out any way he possibly can. I am asking you to be sensitive to him, knowing his job is rough. Show him your appreciating from time to time. Take him out to dinner. Give him some time off. Tell him what a great job he has been doing. 

I think that last one is probably the most important because not enough people do it. Make sure to really let your pastor know how much he means to you. Send him an email, a letter--something to let him know how awesome he really is. Remember, it's the pastor's job to deal with a lot of junk within the church, so any form of encouragement is so welcome.

I am willing to bet that the current ratio of bad stories to good stories is about 10:1. (I don't know if that is actually true, and I haven't asked a lot of pastors nor kept track of it myself, but it seemed like a good estimate.) What would be wonderful for the pastor, and really encourage his ministry is to have that ratio 1:1. Tell him one good thing for every problem that you run across. Don't stop telling him your problems, just try to think of something positive as well, even if it may seem small.

What a pastor really wants to hear above all else is how God is affecting your life and changing you into a better person. That is the entire purpose of his calling: to help people and equip them to be better. Tell him when God has been working on you. It is one thing to walk up to him after a service on Sunday and say, "Nice sermon." It is another thing all together to say, "The sermon you just preached really hit me today. I have been having a hard time with pride lately, and that message really hit the nail on the head. I am going to really try to put into practice what you said."

Understand that you can really help or hurt his ministry. If you constantly badger him, then he will feel defeated because it is a lot of work to try to counter so much negativity. If you encourage him and lift him up, you will see his energy soar and he will feel so much better about his work. 

I have been attacked pretty severely to where I am super sensitive about my ministry. Any type of encouragement speaks the world to me. Conversely, any criticize smacks me like a load of bricks. I tend to question my calling on a weekly basis now--sometimes daily. I am not telling you this so you can reply with, "Oh, Adam... I'm so sorry... You are a great pastor and I think that you will be so fruitful and reach so many people--yada yada yada...." I am not looking for sympathy here. I don't do well with sympathy. I do best with honesty and sincerity. 

I am telling you this because I have felt the burn of criticism. I have felt people trying to mold me into what they think a minister should be. I have felt people try to graft me into their interpretation of what a minster is. I have been criticized, questioned if I am going down the right path, and told that "We'll be praying for you..."  so many times I cannot count. ("We'll be praying for you..." I have discovered is code for, "You are not doing what we think you should be doing as a pastor, so we are going to pray that God will morph you into what we think you should be," rather than who he made me to be.) I am saying all of this to say that I know for a fact what a pastor would love to hear. Hopefully, you can learn something from this post and show your pastor a bit of appreciation from time to time. I know they will love it. 

God bless you, and I hope you have a great week!

Following his call,
Matthew 7:12

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Hey everyone!

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be an American lately, especially since today is our Independence Day. I read an article from RELEVANT Magazine titled, "America, the Arrogant?" and it really got me thinking. (If you haven't read the article, I do recommend reading it, they have a lot of good points.) I don't agree with everything in the article, as I always say about RELEVANT's stuff, but the basic jist I agree with.

I have found with many foreigners that we are America, the Arrogant. I have traveled abroad for the past two years and spent a considerable amount of time in these foreign countries--enough to know that America is not perfect. I have also spent enough time talking to other people to know that America isn't that highly
viewed in the eyes of the world. Here are some descriptors of Americans in the eyes of foreigners. Americans are:


Have I said enough?

Understand, not everyone feels this way about Americans. In fact, most people I have met overseas love Americans, because the Americans buy their products and give them money. They don't care how Americans act as long as they are paying. Let's face it guys, we are one of the richest nations in the world. Even our poorest people, the ones who complain about not having a car or not being able to buy a TV or have internet are still way richer than a good portion of the world. The poorest people over here in America are still way richer than the poorest people in other countries. Let's respect that and honor that, not rub it in

The analogy used in the RELEVANT article said:

"How would you feel if your neighbor made no bones about the fact they thought they were better than you? What about if they told you they thought they were specially blessed by God and you weren’t? What if they required constant reassurance from you about how amazing they were?

My guess is you’d end up emotionally drained and tire of their company rather quickly. You’d probably avoid eye contact when retrieving your mail, stay indoors when they were out cutting their lawn and conveniently lose the invitations to their annual barbeque. Is it any wonder, then, that when Americans express the same sentiments we find our global neighbors running the other way?"

Sadly, this is the undertone of many Americans. I have seen this when I go overseas and go to a tourist site or a restaurant.Some Americans will demand certain things, rather than be grateful for what they have been given. They will ask for their orders to be special made and then get offended when the chef doesn't get it right. They will argue with the waiter and refuse to pay because they messed up the food. All of these actions scream of entitlement and selfishness.

Not all Americans are this way at all. In fact, a good portion of them are so kind and welcoming and sensitive to the culture. I think that is the biggest difference: some Americans are "me" focused and not "others" focused. The "others" focused Americans don't demand the other culture cater to them, but rather mold to the culture and realize that everyone is human and just lives a different lifestyle. Rather than saying, "Oh my gosh! This guy has no respect for me! He just keeps touching me and coming into my personal space! And he smells! This is so gross!" the person would understand that the culture has no personal bubble, deodorant isn't a priority, and closeness is the way a person expression friendship. 

Sometimes, rather than being grateful for what we have, we chalk it all up the the "fact" that God loves us more than everyone else when that simply isn't the case. There are tons of other countries out there that are just as good as the United States. Granted, they are different, but they are not worse. I have found that most people who make this claim haven't really lived for an extended period of time in another culture and really deeply experienced their culture. 

It is all about values. We value freedom, because we think it is the best thing in the world. Other cultures value other things, like community or heritage. Yet it is very arrogant of us to make the claim that everyone wants freedom. So, in some cultures, they don't have the freedoms we do, but that is okay. They do not value the freedoms as much as we do. If they did, there would be a rebellion such as the ones we saw in Egypt. We should not be placing our value system onto the values of others and expect them to simply agree and then bash them and claim we are better when they don't. 

After visiting other cultures, some people come back to America so grateful for what they have and vow to never take advantages of their blessing again. Other people come back and realize that America isn't all that it is cracked up to be, but it is one of the better options out there in the world. 

I, for one, do love my freedom. I love the independence and liberty that the United States gives. That is why I support this country and continue to live in this country. My values line up with that of the nation, and I choose of my own free will to support this nation--even to the sense of fighting for it if I must. I do pledge my allegiance to my country, and I do not see a problem with it or feel that it conflicts with my beliefs. I pledge allegiance to my future wife and to my future family. I believe that the values in this country are worth fighting for, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I have to be here. It took me traveling to another country to fully understand this. 

So today, I am asking you to join me in transforming this day into a day of remembrance, contemplation, and thanksgiving for being in such a wonderful country. Let's pray to never take advantage of this nation and the freedoms we have here.Let us not brag about how amazing our nation is and further isolate ourselves. Let us not think that God only loves and blesses Americas, but loves all equally. Let's pray for other countries and peoples and not compare ourselves to them. Let us remember that God loves all equally, and "gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." (Matthew 5:45b)

Let us remember this verse and keep it at the heart of our nation and on our minds all today:

"Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." (Romans 12:3 NLT)

Following his call,
Philippians 2:5