Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

Proud to Be Different (But Not Too Proud) May 7, 2013

Filed under: Within the Church — christical @ 9:32 pm
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Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36 NASB)

One of the greatest proclamations of the Christian faith is that, like Jesus, we are “not of this world.”

What people think when you say this:

    • “Are you one of those Christians who brags about not owning a television?”
    • “Please don’t give me a tract. Please, please, please don’t give me a tract.”

Some will go deeper and say that we Christians are “in the world but not of the world.”

What people think when you say this:

    • “Did they just add to a Christian catchphrase? How hipster of them.”
    • “What does that mean?”

Let’s focus on the last response.

It means that while we lead the world by the example of godly living in the world, we do not take part in the ungodly acts of the world (I mean hate crimes, bombings, and the daily unkindness we show to our fellow man). The statement goes even further for church worship teams.

Church worship teams have it difficult, especially in the Lutheran Church. The young people want us to be edgier; the old people want us to be less edgy. Thus, we take out our identity crisis-related angst on subtleties.

Signs that your church is suffering from identity angst and taking it out on subtleties:

  1. The worship leader drinks coffee constantly.
  2. At least one member wears fake glasses.
  3. Every song transition contains one sentence ending in “Amen?”
  4. You don’t use PowerPoint. You use MediaShout, which is like PowerPoint but much cooler.
  5. You make it clear that you don’t use PowerPoint.
  6. The team ends a quarter of the songs with a minor chord.
  7. Despite what the pastor (whose first name is apparently Pastor) says, the worship leader will sing a song with “Alleluia” during Lent if he/she likes said song.

Take a look a the above list. If you agree to four or more of the above, then your church is being subtly rebellious.

Congratulations–you just learned what it means to be “in the world but not of the world.”


Sanctification: Pushing Through April 6, 2013

Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough,Within the Church — christical @ 4:52 pm
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Hello readers:

Foremost, I pray that you all had a blessed Easter!

Second: As you know (or perhaps don’t), most Christian denominations celebrated Easter this past Sunday; I say most because my friend celebrates Easter this year in May. The candy is gone. The leftovers of ham and potatoes are sitting in your fridge, cold. Frankly, the energy boost from Easter Sunday is beginning to wear off, especially if you are dealing with the stress of traveling.

Earlier this week on Twitter, someone pointed out that it’s easy to be a Christian on Easter because it’s one of two days in which the world celebrates with us (the other being Christmas). While somewhat pessimistic, it is also somewhat true. Having faith is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus probably would not have added that one sentence in Matthew 5:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In fact, if Christians were supposed to be perfect, the Beatitudes (along with the Epistles) would not even be in the bible!

On Easter Sunday, we Christians celebrated our justification. This “justification” changed our status from nonbeliever to believer; it changed our end-of-world destination. Now comes the difficult, but oh-so-rewarding sanctification. Sanctification literally means “To make holy.” By sanctification, we become better people–essentially, we start to act more like the ideal Christian.

For most people, the first change is a small one: from smiling at the grocery store clerk to using a different choice of words in your moment of frustration, we begin to notice more about the world and adapt accordingly. Wherever you are on the road of sanctification, it can be helpful to keep the following in mind:

  • Changes take time to become habit. Most people will tell you that breaking a bad habit or implementing a new habit takes about 21 days to really become a habit. However long it takes for you, remember that a problem with an overnight history will usually not have an overnight solution.
  • Changing means learning. This goes back to my earlier statement that no Christian is perfect (saint and sinner: that’s for another blog post). Consult that Bible! You can learn a lot of things about speaking appropriately (Proverbs 25:11), balance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9), and how God equips us for tested patience (Ephesians 6:10-20).
  • Trial and error are a part of learning. Sometimes the Bible does not have answers to certain specific questions (Is it okay to listen to loud music? Should I change jobs? Is my boyfriend The One?). In these situations, I find it best to pray, think through the situation thoroughly, and make an educated decision.
  • Pushing through spiritual lulls is no simple feat. However, God is with us (Matthew 28:20). With this, I urge you to go in peace about your day, having no worry of the future, whatever season you are in.


    Lukewarm February 24, 2013

    Filed under: Applied Faith,Within the Church — christical @ 9:00 am
    Tags: , ,


    ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:15, 16, 19 NASB)

    I’ll admit that church unsettles me sometimes.

    You may be the same way. If so, I don’t blame you; it’s a strange feeling, sitting on a bench in a big creaky building with red carpeting where old ladies glare at you if you smile. But that’s not what bothers me.

    Look at the faces of the congregation the next time someone gives a reading from the Passion (this will likely be very soon, considering it’s Lent). You will most likely see little, if any, shows of strong emotion.

    This lukewarmness is uncanny. We’re reading a story about God, who came to earth, suffered pain and humiliation, and died hanging on a cross. Mind you, he did this as a perfectly innocent human, not to justify himself, but with the entire weight of humanity on his shoulders.

    And yet, most Christians will react to that quite calmly.

    Part of me thinks, “They’ve come to peace with their mortality and see the beauty in Christ’s sacrifice, good for them.” Part of me flails my arms and runs out the door screaming because who can come to peace with the idea of Jesus giving Himself to pay for the damage that our own sin has caused?

    Christianity is supposed to make us uncomfortable.

    Christianity is supposed to make us do double takes.

    God’s love is dangerous. It challenges the logic humans treasure dearly. However, as a Christian, I know I have failed to reflect that. It seems like religion has failed to reflect that, too.

    Only following the Law without thinking about the Spirit behind the Law fails to reflect that. Especially now, I cannot stress enough the importance of the fact that there’s no magic number when it comes to God. Unless we seek to see God’s love, everything else is nothing.

    At church, I will gaze upon that cross and see nothing but love. God did what he did because He loved us in such a way that He’d give Jesus to take our place. We’d live and love and be free in the eternal benefits of that one sacrifice: Jesus’ own life.

    I don’t know about you, but with that magnitude of news, it’s impossible for me to be lukewarm.

    Questions of the day: how warm is Luke? Why is he so warm? And why does he get an adjective to himself?

    —The Jesus Freak Girl


    Bringing in the New Year January 2, 2013

    Filed under: Within the Church — christical @ 11:56 am


    “We’re like a tree that’s planted by the water, we shall not be moved!”

    In what way(s) would you like to become a stronger Christian this year?

    I’ve said before that all people have a place in the community of believers. The New Year is a good time to undertake a new journey in faith.

    A lot of people do this by resolving to attend church more often. Some people succeed in maintaining regular attendance throughout the year. As a praise band member, I’ve found a hilarious occurrence. Attendance tends to go from the teens to the thirties in January. The weeks slowly progress, and we lose a few people each time, until regular low attendance occurs again in April. During the summer is when we get our record lows of four and six.

    Yes, I’ll admit that church can be somewhat kind of very boring sometimes, especially when you “have more important things to do” with your weekend.

    Personally, I feel that if I forget God so much during the week in my words and my actions, then it won’t hurt me to spend an hour or two on the weekend learning about him.

    Incidentally, the worship leader proposed that all praise band members resolve bring a friend to church this month. Logically, inviting more people should help attendance.

    Here are a few ideas if you would like your own Christian New Year’s Resolution:

  • Go through with going to church more. I think we could all use this. Most churches have multiple services, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find one that works for you.
  • Volunteer. This might mean driving youth around for service projects or joining the church’s Stephen Ministry squad (an organization that equips members with basic counseling skills to help others in the congregation.
  • Read the Bible more often. This is made easy with Bible apps like YouVersion that come with reading plans.
  • Be a more Christlike person in your words. If you want to pick this resolution, it helps to work on cussing and gossiping less, as well as encouraging more.
  • Be more loving. This is one of my favorites. I fulfill it by giving small gifts, such as food, a cd, the occasional wildflower, and plenty of compliments to the people I consider important in my life.
  • •JFG
    “I resolve to be more Christlike in my words and actions.”
    “I also resolve to bring a friend to church this month. Thank you, worship leader.”


    Spiritual Gifts: FAQ July 2, 2012

    Filed under: Let's Get Biblical!,Within the Church — christical @ 11:59 am

    So, with every Bible study there are always a few questions that the basic material doesn’t answer. And today, I’ll answer what a few of those questions may be.

    Q. What’s the difference between a natural gift, a talent, and a spiritual gift?

    A. A natural gift is any ability that someone has a gift for learning quickly. It’s being a “natural” at something. A talent is an ability that one achieves through practice, like learning how to play an instrument. A spiritual gift is an ability that one uses to aid the body of believers.

    Q. What does it mean to discover your spiritual gift(s)?

    A. To discover your spiritual gift(s) means to recognize what they are.



    Spiritual Gifts: Background June 30, 2012

    Some spiritual gifts put people front-and-center. Others are less conspicuous, more as a supportive gift than a lead gift.

    Background: exhortation, service, discernment, helps, celibacy, hospitality, faith, giving, mercy.

    Exhortation: To encourage others and motivate them toward a positive relationship with God.

    1. Bible Verse: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV84)
    2. Example: “Liza” is a really encouraging person. She always knows just what to say.
    3. Remember: This is a real gift. But only give advice if it’s solicited.



    Spiritual Gifts: Representative June 29, 2012

    Representative Gifts: teaching, leadership, administration, apostle, evangelism, pastor, knowledge, wisdom.

    These gifts are common of representatives of the church, such as church workers and go-to people.

    Teaching: To instruct others in the bible systematically and logically so as to communicate information for spiritual understanding and growth.

    1. Bible Verse:And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)
    2. Example: “Jack” does a great job of finding Bible passages relevant to today’s Christians.
    3. Remember: A good teacher teaches those who want to be taught. Don’t be overbearing, don’t be too vague.



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