Navigating being “in the world” and not “of it,” is one of the most complicated mine fields of our life with Jesus. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had it written in black and white in the Bible that we should avoid Snapchat and Grand Theft Auto V while we CAN post on Twitter and Instagram as long as we are never wearing a bikini. It’s all well and good that Leviticus tells me clearly how to deal with a dead cow I find in a field while I am out for a stroll. This has not been an issue for me as of late. Instead the list of actual “rules” seems much shorter than that of guidelines to living for Jesus.

Recently we navigated the Grammy Awards. There was the usual shock & awe that accompanied the show. Katy Perry’s performance was called, “demonic glorification.” The mass wedding during Macklemore’s “Same Love,” caused gasps across the nation. Then of course we love to just poke fun at poor Taylor Swift, this year with her head banging piano playing.

Christian artist, Natalie Grant was nominated for two awards.  Her actions have become viral as she posted on her FaceBook wall that she left the show early:

“We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”

It was such a vague statement that a variety of people began to basically say, “See she was offended by what we were!”  Instead, she graciously pointed out that it was conviction that caused her to leave, not any one performance.  (You can read more about that HERE)

My reaction to the Grammy Awards? The world acts like the world.

It may sound flippant. I am not saying there weren’t things that I learned about that didn’t offend me, they just didn’t surprise me. It’s sort of why I was indifferent to the awards show in the first place.

The better question for us as Christians is how are we navigating what will feed our soul?  For Natalie Grant she realized that singing for Jesus to people who want to sing to Jesus is her conviction and calling. What I don’t know is if Natalie Grant knew the words to any of the songs she heard live. Some of us will never listen to anything on the Pop radio station, some will and enjoy it while feeling guilty about it, others will proudly sing at the top of their lungs, some of us might even, “ROAR,” during “The Best Day Of Our Lives.”

When students ask me what they should do when it comes to navigating culture choices, I ask this question: “Does it bring you closer to God, or farther away from Him?  Sometimes it truly may do neither. Speaking of Taylor Swift, I don’t feel closer to God when I listen to her, but I may learn how to navigate heartache. Some things are indeed inert.

Where the “shame” lies is when we point fingers at others (namely our students) while screaming, “AHHH! Plank in my eye. Plank in my eye.” We indulge in “guilty pleasures” with a shrug and nervous giggle.

What I respect about Ms. Grant is, she has never once judged anyone in this process, but for whatever reason staying would have caused her to “stumble” as we say, so she left.

This begs the question.  Are we so busy creating a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” that we forget it’s about the state of our soul? I think the reason there are so many guiding verses about watching our heart, tongue and soul, is so we will ask the Lord what He thinks is best for us. Are we willing to delve into Scripture and ask Jesus before we turn the radio up, go to see a movie or turn on the television? None of these are “evil” however, some of them may not be beneficial for me?  If we are going to spur our students on to more, will we do the same in pressing in to be closer to Jesus?

So I wonder, “Would you have left the Grammy Awards?”  Not because of an “agenda,” but simply because the Holy Spirit nudged this is not where He wants you right now?

Some of us would stay and enjoy the show. Some of us would turn to our neighbor and ask them if they know Christ. Others would get up and walk out and let the world know about it.

Tell me how are you dealing with your convictions, and how are you sharing these with your students?

Now excuse me while I chart a path around this dead cow I just happened to find at the Super Bowl Halftime show….



LYR coverThere are some massive distinctions we need to make in ministry.  For instance, we need to make sure we recognize and live out the difference between:

  1. Teaching people about the ways of Jesus versus simply teaching them proper behaviors for Christians.
  2. Personal conviction versus religious legalism.  Those could not be more different, but they are easily confused.

These are the types of fine-lines I try and make clear in my forthcoming book, Losing Your Religion. My goal in writing this was to help readers realize just how much we personally blur lines such as these so that we can move toward freedom from the chains of religious behaviors.  The book is a journey of recognizing how we get off the path Jesus paved and recalibrating our ideas of Christianity so that we can get back on that path.  I wrote it because I’m growing in concern that many people (like me at one point) have embraced a behavior management system much more than they have the life Jesus has invited us into, but they have mistaken the one for the other.  And I think deep down we know something is off.  If we are honest, we tend to be driven by guilt and shame and often by a fear of man.  These are not Christian motivations, they are religious.  But unraveling this in our minds is difficult to do in a way that doesn’t bash the Church, but instead humbly honors God.  So it’s the latter I try to do in the book.

Well, the book doesn’t come out until November, but I thought I would list out a few distinctions that I unpack in the book between negative religion and Christianity.  There are obviously a ton more, but maybe these can be a help to you today in some fashion or form:

  1. Religion is lived for God whereas Christianity is lived because of God.  Religious ideas focus us on our actions, but the gospel is about our reactions to God’s actions. 
  2. Religion is expressed in/through what we do.  Christianity is expressed in/through why we do what we do.
  3. Religion emphasizes what we do whereas Christianity emphasizes what God has done and is doing through Jesus.

It’s one thing to list out these types of distinctions and agree with them.  It’s another to actually sift through it in our own lives on practical and often intimate levels.  This is the process that I hope the book brings people through.

- Chuck

Moral failure is something that has been coming up a lot in recent conversations. A few weeks ago, my friend told me that the head pastor of her home church recently stepped down from his position due to moral failure. The church was devastated. The ripples of the pastor’s sin rocked the lives of his entire congregation and even the community as a whole. It damaged the reputation of his church and even worse, damaged the reputation of the Christian Church.

I feel like most of us can tell a story or two about a pastor falling hard because of sin and moral failure and the destruction that it left in its wake. But too many of us hear these stories and have an “it can’t happen to me” mentality. Because the scary thing is, it can happen to any of us.

No one plans on having moral failure. Nor does it just happen out of nowhere. It starts small. It starts in the small compromises that we make in our everday lives. The “small” sin that we think, “isn’t the end of the world.” But those compromises add up. Moral failure isn’t possible without those compromises. A pastor at our church spoke on the subject this weekend and said, “sin is not a game. It is a war. A war for your soul.”

I was super convicted by his message and asked myself, “do I view sin as if it is a war?” and “do I act like sin is a war?” If I am being honest with myself, I don’t think I always do. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think it is scary how reckless we can be with our hearts. While we don’t mean to, we often leave them vulnerable to temptation and sin. It is incredibly important that we, not only as church leaders, but also as followers of Christ in general, acknowledge the severity of sin and guard ourselves against it.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

So take some time today to reflect on this. Are you guarding your heart? What is the “small” sin in your life that you need to be stomping out?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

We are in a transition right now in our group as our Youth Worship Pastor has recently stepped  down. He did a great job of leading our students and bands but I regretfully don’t know a lot about the lifestyle expectations that those in the band had. Let me unpack this a bit more and ask this:

Does a student in the band qualify as a leader?

Are they held to the same standard as a college age leader?

Is a lead singer treated differently a percussionist?

Where is the line?

Is the Worship team a front door to the ministry where non-believing students can come get connected?

Or is a place where only those students who have proven to be mature in their faith can lead others from the stage?

So many questions!

What are your criteria for a student interested in  serving on a youth worship team? Does it change depending on the role or involvement?