In > With

One of my favorite verses in the bible is Psalm 73:23

“Yet I am always with you;

you hold me by my right hand.”

It’s a great verse to send to someone who is hurting or praying or hoping…

It’s a great mental image: God holding my hand. The Creator & Sustainer of the Universe… holding my hand. God is with me.

That’s a nice place to be.

What’s better than that?!

Good question.

IN. In is better.

Colossians 1:27 says that Christ is IN me. Not just WITH me.

Ephesians 1 says that the Holy Spirit is attached/connected/woven into my very soul (1:13-14). The letter goes on and reminds us that we now have within us the same exact power that raised Jesus from the grave (1:19-20)!

It’s almost hard to believe! It’s almost too good to be true… maybe it seems that way because I haven’t fully tapped into IN.

The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is IN me. Not just WITH me. IN.

I’m into IN. I like IN.

I need IN.

WITH was great, and in some sense it’s still true, but…

IN is better.

IN > with

Sermon Prep Time

I spend about 5 hours preparing my youth ministry sermons, or up to 10 if I’m teaching in our main service. Sometimes I’ll prepare for a few hours, look at my outline, delete the whole thing and start over. That can be super frustrating, until I remember…

If 230 students are coming that weekend, each of them will spend 30 minutes getting ready to come. That’s 6,900 minutes, or about 11 hours. They’ll probably each drive at least 2 miles to get there, and 2 miles home. That’s almost a thousand miles traveled to come and be taught by me.

That fact helps me spend an extra hour or two preparing my sermon.

Sermon Prep Time

I spend about 5 hours preparing my youth ministry sermons, or up to 10 if I’m teaching in our main service. Sometimes I’ll prepare for a few hours, look at my outline, delete the whole thing and start over. That can be super frustrating, until I remember…

If 230 students are coming that weekend, each of them will spend 30 minutes getting ready to come. That’s 6,900 minutes, or about 11 hours. They’ll probably each drive at least 2 miles to get there, and 2 miles home. That’s almost a thousand miles traveled to come and be taught by me.

That fact helps me spend an extra hour or two preparing my sermon.

Cold Hard Cash Church… BOOYAH!

If you’re a follower of Jesus, and this video doesn’t make you angry, one of these two things are true: Either you are WAY more patient than I am, or you are a goon. I’m guessing most of you are just way more patient than I am.

Usually this sort of thing just makes me say, “Oh man, there’s another one of those fake pastors peddling another fake gospel. So lame…“. But this one got under my skin for a couple reasons:

First, I can’t stand gimmicks in the Church. Hey pastors, I love you, and I want you to succeed. I want 6 billion people coming to church on Sundays (or Saturday nights). So listen: If you’re living out the way of Jesus, you don’t need to give away an Xbox. (Side confession: I’ve given away a few in the past, so I’ve got my own gimmicky sins to repent of).

The gospel has made it a long way without gimmicks. The Good News IS ACTUALLY GOOD NEWS, and it doesn’t need your sprinkles on top. If it’s the gospel, the real gospel, then people will rip a hole in your roof to join you. All sorts of people. Poor people, rich people, dirty people, clean people, presidents, peasants, and even teenagers.

Second, I can’t stomach this guy because he’s a false prophet. He’s worse than guys who promise temples that never show up… He promises hope where it can’t be found because HE WANTS YOUR MONEY. The downside for the “lottery winners”: next month’s bills are on the way! What is their hope built on? Winning again? Oh, and their church’s attendance is growing- so their chances of winning are decreasing, but that won’t stop them, will it…

And this is the garbage that CNN picks up to cover?

Jesus is enough.

Fell free to poke holes in my philosophy, I welcome it. But I needed to vent this one.

woven

Woven is an ugly word. It’s just not fun to say.

But it’s the only word I can think of when I picture what happened this past weekend at Mission.

I taught in the junior high and high school services again this weekend, but this time it was different. I actually don’t really want to talk to much about it. I don’t want to ruin it.

I felt… CONNECTED.

Connected to the gospel.

and to the God that dreamed it up.

and to the students in the room.

and to the Church that I still believe is the hope of the world.

We didn’t have enough seats. Students and staff were everywhere. And everyone was leaning forward as I read from God’s word.

I am in awe.

I don’t like when people say “Good job Ryan!” after I preach.

I don’t want them to miss the point.

I am a mouthpiece. A loud, sweaty, Jesus-loving mouthpiece.

The gospel really is good news 🙂

A question for Christians

I’m guessing that most of the people who swing by this blog are Christians, or perhaps you were at one point but you no longer identify yourself as one. Either way, this question is for anyone who has personally decided to become a follower of Jesus at some point.

Why did you decide to become a Christian?

I shared my testimony this week with the students at my church, and I told them why I did. I had spent a year investigating the claims of Christ, the resurrection, prophecy, other religions, etc… and I became convinced. I placed my faith in what I believed to be true.

I surrendered to truth.

I walked away from my old life out of obligation. I felt that I had to. I walked away from friendships because I thought I had to. I quit drinking, stealing, drugging, fighting, and lying because I had to. “It’s the least I can do” I would say. I even dated a Christian girl… a really sweet girl, but she was at the opposite end of the dating spectrum for me. She asked me to pray for dinner one night out with friends and I had no idea how to. I said, “You pray, it’s so much prettier“. I was a Christian because I was convinced.

But now I’m a Christian because I’m convinced it’s the best kind of life. I still believe it to be true, but I also believe it to be the best way to live. I honestly enjoyed my old way of living, and I walked away from it expecting some sort of joy in the next life as a reward… but now I’m motivated by the life Jesus offers TODAY. I wasn’t drawn to it at first, but now I’m all in. Joy, pain, suffering, prosperity… whatever. It’s all a part of the abundant life that Jesus came to put on display and invite us into.

What about you?

Were you CONVINCED by truth or were you COMPELLED by a way of life?