Today’s guest post comes from my good friend Nathan Hamm:
At Pentecost, God crashed his own party. Amidst the sound and fury of the wind and fire, Peter and the apostles were filled, infused, and animated by God’s Spirit. They began to speak in foreign languages. Like Rosetta Stone on steroids.
Some folks in the crowd sneered. “They’re drunk. Plastered. Sloshed. They’re filled with something alright – maybe some spirits but not a holy spirit.” Peter’s response was classic. “We’re not drunk. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning. We’re not even buzzed.”
The crowd was bewildered. “If these Jesus-followers aren’t drunk, then what’s going on?” Peter responded by quoting the words of the ancient prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy….Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
In other words, these are the last days. The end isn’t near; the end is here. Apocalypse now.
“You should talk about Jesus more.”
This message isn’t coming from a raving street evangelist pushing gospel tracts and combative communication techniques. It’s coming from the young men and women who used to be in our churches. It’s coming from the atheists who used to be youth group leaders, church members, small group leaders, worship band musicians, and outreach coordinators. The message that we need to talk about Jesus more is coming from the very people who have left us behind.
For me, this is a gut check.
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I have a lot of respect for Roy Costner IV, the South Carolina valedictorian who recently tore up his pre-approved speech and recited the Lord’s Prayer instead. I commend him for his willingness to stand by his convictions and his ability to stand tall in the face of opposition. And while he’s been inundated with praise since his speech, he had no way of knowing how this would play out. It takes true courage to persevere when the eventual outcome is unknown.
I also have a lot of respect for all of my countless friends who have celebrated his actions in the last week or so. I think we’re all inspired by Roy’s passion, by the fresh beauty of a young man’s devotion. In many ways, I hope my son Drew follows the example of Roy’s faith. As I think about Drew, I can’t help but imagine what I would say to him 12 years from now if he were to follow not just Roy’s faith, but also his speech.
I think I would say something like this:
Drew, I am disappointed with you.
These seven simple words begin of one of the most helpful sentences a Christ-follower could ever utter:
The Bible is too hard to understand.
I say this not to discourage people from reading the Bible, but rather to encourage them to read it in a way that is most beneficial, even most Christian. I say this to challenge us to take the Bible seriously. I say this to discourage people from taking a casual, almost indifferent approach to the Bible, one that says, “I don’t need any help to read the Bible.”
If it were easy to understand, then why can’t our leaders agree about what it says? Just Continue reading
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“Someone should move that out of the road before there’s another accident.”
It popped into my mind as I drove through an intersection littered with debris from a recent collision. I instantly realized the irony behind my passive call to action. I broke into a rueful smile as I told my wife, and we both chuckled.
But we never stopped. I drove on, and the debris remained in the road, undisturbed.
One of the pitfalls of being an American Christian is that we’ve grown accustomed to the presence of experts–in this case the fire department, NYDOT, or AAA. And to be fair, there are countless contexts where the delegation of responsibility is the best course of action. I’m happy to delegate a triple bypass to a surgeon, technological know-how to Apple, or weather forecasting to weather.com.
But when does delegation become abdication?
I keep hearing two stories in the aftermath of last week’s tornadoes in Oklahoma. Two drastically different stories, and yet both of them are absolutely true. The contrast and veracity of these twin tales highlight the turmoil of Christian existence.
The first story is about what the tornadoes did.
The second story is about what God is doing.
The other day my son Drew asked me about a bumper sticker he saw on car as we drove by. I told him the sticker was saying that Marines are special, and we should be proud of them. The following conversation ensued.
Drew: What are Marines?
Me: They’re soldiers, and they protect our country from the bad guys.
Me: Because they wanted to be Marines. They volunteered to stop the bad guys and protect us.
Drew: Why do they protect us?
Me: Because someone needs to. We need brave people to help us.
Drew: But how do they know us? Why do they protect us even though they don’t know us?