Thursday, July 30, 2015

An Open Letter to My Fellow Millennial Christians - "Don't Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water"

Dear Fellow Millennials,

I am a Christian Millennial. I graduated in 2007 from High School, and I have seen a lot of changes take place in the U. S. since I graduated. And I've seen even some big changes take place since I graduated from college in May. Since I graduated from High School God has done so much in my life to change my view of the world. To change my view of what Christianity is.

Growing up I often saw a lack of love and community taking place in the churches I grew up in. I saw a lot of "Cultural Christianity" that I thought was genuine Christianity...but when I went to college God opened my eyes to what I think is a more Biblical view of Christianity. Much of the things I thought were wrong growing up I began to see that they weren't necessarily wrong. I could have alcohol once in a while (always in moderation and never getting drunk), I could listen to CCM (because the Bible never says it's wrong), I could be a Calvinist and still be Gospel loving and evangelizing Christian, and the list could go on. I began to see that there was more freedom in Christ than I had previously thought there was.

But I also became increasingly concerned with some attitudes and beliefs that I was beginning to see in my fellow Millennial Christians. I saw it in college among my fellow students...and I continue to see it in some friends since graduating. This attitude appears to be a rebellious and angry reaction to the wrongs done by the Christians we grew up interacting with. We saw the bad that could come out of a particular belief they had, and so we reject it because of their wrong handling of it. Some are even going so far as to reject clear teachings of Scripture on particular matters because the previous generations believed these and held them often times with anger and judgment.

I'm tempted to give examples of particular beliefs that some of my friends seem to have rejected for this reason, but I want to avoid controversy...and I want to avoid narrowing the message of this letter to one particular belief...I think all Millennials need to examine their hearts, and think about how and what emotions they are using to guide them toward their beliefs about different matters.

So, to offer an alternative to these issues I've seen...let me expound on the conclusions I've come to.

I would love to see my generation of Millennial Christians holding tightly to God's Word. To study God's Word closely, and allow it to guide us. To be passionately committed to it's truths. But always and ever holding to them with grace and love. Reaching out without judgment to our alcoholic neighbor to share the Gospel with Him...doing the same with our homosexual neighbor as well. Let's be counter-cultural, but in a compassionate and culturally engaging way. Let's not be afraid to sit down and talk with our unbelieving friends about the truths found in the Word. Let's hold tightly to the truths of God's Word, regardless of what the world tells us we should believe. But always and ever speaking these truths with love and grace.

We can hold to the fundamentals of our faith that were held to so tightly in the previous generations without repeating their mistakes. And who are we to arrogantly think that they got everything wrong and we have gotten it all right? The previous generations of Christians were flawed, and we are flawed too. Let us go forward relying on Christ and holding onto His Word, trusting Him to guide us.

And one more thing...let's always and ever hold onto our beliefs without a bitter and angry attitude about the previous generation's mistakes. When we get bitter and angry, we might be dangerously close to having a similar attitude that they often did...but our mistake is we're directing it at fellow Christians, rather than at the world. Let's lovingly and respectfully speak the truth to both believers and unbelievers alike. We should honor and respect the previous generations of Christians, and recognize that they were flawed...just like we are.

I hope these words were helpful and understandable. I'm not the greatest writer, but these thoughts have been on my mind and I felt the need to speak them.

By His Grace,
A Concerned Christian Millennial

Sin and Selfishness...and other thoughts on sin...

Have you ever noticed how sin tends to make you think and act selfishly? I've noticed that when I begin to allow certain sins to become a pattern in my life, it begins to affect the way I interact with people. I'm much less interested in the needs of others and much more focused on my own desires and needs.

And I guess this makes sense when I consider that even just the act of sinning is a selfish act. It is putting my own sinful desires before God's desires for me.

Truth be pursuing my sin I'm choosing a lesser joy over a greater fellowship with God there is greater joy than any of my sins could give me...and yet I continue to pursue this lesser joy. This truth reminds me of a great C. S. Lewis quote...he writes, "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

So we play with mud pies when a holiday at the sea is available to us. I toy with my sin continuously when real contentment and joy is found in fellowship with my God. And my sin always leaves me feeling empty...and in the end it actually robs me of may offer me a fleeting joy...but it is not a deep joy...a truly contented just leaves me with a hunger for more sin that will leave me more and more empty.

But when I'm seeking joy in God...and when I'm running to Him rather than to my gives me selfless ability to serve love others...and to know real joy.

So why do I run after the mud pies when a holiday at the sea is available for me? Forgetfulness, distraction...the cares of this life come in and instead of continuing to cling to Christ, I run after what seems to be easier to access...and that is my sin. Often times I run after sin because I begin to feel self-pity...I feel sorry for myself in the struggles of life...and think I deserve to give into my play with the mud pies...I forget about the Holiday at the sea...I forget the joy that is found in God, and run after the fleeting "joy" that is found in my sin.

This is a constant battle in my will be a battle till I die...but by God's grace, I can fight for true joy in God. I need to fight for true joy in God...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Update's been too long since I updated my readers on what's going on with things, and a lot has happened since I last posted. I graduated from college in May and officially moved my residence to Crystal Falls, MI. I'm renting a small one bedroom house for now until I can find a good house to buy. I also started working on the side at a grocery store in the town where I pastor. I was at first kind of frustrated by the fact that I couldn't dedicate all my time to my church, but I have loved the opportunity it has given me to meet people in the community! God has been so good to give it to me, and I pray that I glorify Him there and represent my church well!

All these things are really awesome, but I'm a little biased in saying that there's one more thing that has happened that I'm probably the most excited about, and that is that on May 23rd I asked Rachel to marry me, and she said yes!

It was pretty awesome how it happened too...she came up to the area where I pastor to visit for the weekend, and before she came, I started thinking that maybe I should ask her while she was here. I already had the ring, and I was planning on asking when I visited her in August when I went on my two week vacation...but ever since I had taken Rachel on our first date to Dave's Falls in Amberg, WI, I had wanted to propose to her there. So I decided I would ask her while she was here.

So I had it all planned out...we'd go to Dave's Falls...I knew where I wanted to ask her when we got there, and I knew what I wanted to say...but God has a sense of humor...when we got there there were sooooooo many mosquitoes! It was so crazy! Every time we stopped moving we were being swarmed! So I kept trying to kill time, but the mosquitoes were only getting I went through with it and asked. And like I said, she said yes. We kept saying that we will never forget how it all happened because of the mosquitoes.

God is so good...I can't wait to marry her...

Here's some pics from the day I asked (we won't be getting official engagement pics till December):

Before I asked...

Before I asked...

After I asked...

The ring...we took this when we got back to the car...that way we weren't being eaten alive by mosquitoes anymore...

We'll be getting married on October 22, 2016.