Justin Bieber is Sorry: How to Earn Back Trust

Justin Bieber’s song “Sorry” has been hanging around the top of the charts for weeks and keeps growing in popularity. I gotta say, although I’m no Bieber fan, it’s definitely catchy and this video is fantastic!

Besides… who hasn’t needed to plead with someone to forgive them?! We’ve all felt like we lost someone we cared about because of something we’ve said or done – friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. But what needs to come after “I’m sorry” in order to regain trust?

If you haven’t yet, give the video a watch.

Continue reading

Is This Love?!

I saw this online yesterday and couldn’t believe that this is what is being taught about love.  Now before you go off and tell me I’m exaggerating, I want you to seriously read this and just imagine what life would look like if the image below really painted a picture about love.  In many ways, this really is the image of love people would see if they watch a lot of TV and movies and don’t have any healthy examples to observe in their real lives.

Now compare that portrait of “love” to what the Apostle Paul says about love in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

Tim Challies provides a really helpful blog post the other day that’s relevant here: 8 Bullet Points on Marriage.  Love and Marriage are not toys to play with, but deep and rich longings that must not be made cheap and easy.

Finally, I’d like to recommend you to read Jared Wilson’s post here named: “10 Things Young Singles in Romantic Relationships Ought to Know.”  Here’s a little taste of what he writes:

1. It’s not bad to want to have sex with your significant other. It’d be another sort of worry if you didn’t. The key is to want to glorify Christ more than you want to have sex with each other.

4. Nearly every Christian I know who is married to an unbeliever loves their spouse and does not necessarily regret marrying them, but has experienced deep pain and discontent in their marriage because of this unequal yoking and would now never advise a believer to marry an unbeliever.

8. Pre-marital sex wounds a young woman’s heart, perhaps imperceptibly at first but undeniably over time, as she trades in covenant benefits without covenant security. This is not the way God designed sex to fulfill us.

10. You are loved by God with abundant grace in Christ’s atoning work, and an embrace of this love by faith in Jesus provides Holy Spiritual power and satisfaction to pursue relationships that honor God and thereby maximize your joy.

Perception Isn’t Everything… But It’s Close!

A few weeks ago while preparing for a ministry event I was watching Paul Tripp’s DVD, “Getting to the Heart of Parenting” (which I very highly recommend!) where he said something that I really wanted to disagree with. The problem is I could find any way to prove him wrong… and I’ve been looking for loopholes since then but have come up short. So what did he say?

“Human beings, made in the image of God, do not live life based on the facts of their experience, but based on their interpretation of the facts.”

Tripp continues in the DVD by giving an example where his young son was hurt and needed an ambulance, but he was really calm and at peace despite the blood dripping down his face. At that point, Tripp noticed his son was quietly whispering something, “I’m so glad my daddy is a doctor! I’m so glad my daddy is a doctor!” That’s true… but he has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Biblical Counseling (not very helpful if you need staples in your head to close a gaping wound).

Perception isn’t everything, but it’s really close.

My son, Matthew, is three and my wife and I have finally started making progress towards getting him potty trained. As I write this post the timer is going (he has ten more minutes right now before his next attempt to go pee pee in the potty). He’s finally starting to go when we tell him it’s time, but he refuses to tell us when he needs to go potty. He says he’s scared of the potty. Perception is everything. He knows it’s not scary, but he thinks it is – therefore he’s been very resistant and he’s finally starting to come around to it.

I’ve also been reminded of the perception that many have about me as a pastor. When I see teenagers who haven’t been in church or at youth group and I smile and tell them that I’ve missed them, many of them take that as a guilt trip saying, “C’mon… where’ve you been slacker! Don’t you care about God!” Perception isn’t everything, but it’s close.

I’ve written a number of blog posts about homosexuality, usually through the lens of Glee or Lady Gaga or some other entertainer/media form. I’m not homophobic and I don’t believe Christians should be homophobic, but I do believe that homosexuality is a sin and I have clearly stated that in those posts. If you hunt those posts down you can see what type of comments I’ve gotten accusing me of being a narrow-minded, judgmental Christian. The reality is, it’s nearly impossible to speak about polarizing issues without some people imposing what they assume about you to influence how they interpret what you say or write. Perception strikes again.

A few thoughts on getting perception to line up with truth:

  1. Be as clear as possible in what you say and how you say it. Non-verbals (eye contact, body posture, hand gestures, etc.) are so important, do not disregard them.
  2. Live in such a way that others will rightly interpret what you say. If you are a judgmental person and gossip a lot, then when you try to speak truth about a particular issue that could be controversial, people will have a tough time giving you the benefit of the doubt. But if you’re a gracious and humble person, even towards those who disagree with you, then maybe people will actually hear you out.
  3. Don’t jump to conclusions, ask more questions. This is pretty obvious, but difficult to actually do. We generally think we understand more than we really do.

What am I missing? What are some other ways we can bring Perception and Reality together in our marriages, parenting, ministry, work, friendships, philosophies, and religious beliefs?

“Break Your Heart”

If someone warned you “I know I got a problem with misbehaving. If you fall for me I’m not easy to please, I might tear you apart.  I’ll tell you from the start, I’m only gonna break your heart” would you want to be in a relationship with him or her?  I HOPE NOT!!

Those are the lyrics (slightly edited) of Taio Cruz’s #1 hit, “Break Your Heart.”  The song is catchy, and so the lyrics might go by unnoticed… but watch out.

Girls, the “playa” might make you feel special (for now); don’t let him convince you into thinking he’ll treat you any differently than how he’s treated other girls.  He won’t.  You will get hurt, and it won’t be pretty.

I’d like to share two posts from “The Source 4 Youth Ministry” about this song.  This first one gives the reaction of a Christian woman who fell for a ‘player’ as a teenager.  This second post gives a really solid and thoughtful evaluation of this song.

How the Internet Changes our Relationship with God

It’s no secret that the internet, and especially social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, has changed the way that people relate to each other.  But how does has it changed our most important relationship: the one we have with God.

I wish I had time to really flesh this out, but I just don’t.  Instead I just want to take a few minutes to “brain dump” some of my thoughts about this.  If I get enough comments below then maybe I’ll put more time into this topic again some other time.

It’s so easy to write things to people and about people over the internet.  Example: I was just talking to some youth pastor friends of mine today about cyberbullying over Facebook and how easy it is for people to write comments about someone on Facebook that they wouldn’t dare say in person, because they know how rude it is.  The internet has a way of making us feel “faceless” and anonymous, even though what I write can be tracked back to me and I need to take responsibility for what I’ve written.

I think that as we grow more and more comfortable relating to other people “anonymously” through the internet we also grow more and more comfortable treating God the same way.  We’re “friends” with people on Facebook; we’re “friends” with God because we acknowledge his existence and go to church every once in a while.  We write posts on people’s walls; we shoot up prayers to God.

But what about actually calling people up and spending time with them?  How many people over the internet would you actually call up to ask for advice or to share some new heartache?  Instead, you just post it up to Facebook for the world to see and to comment on without any of the “messyness” real relationships.

It is absolutely impossible to create intimacy with someone over the internet.  I know, I know… “But I’ve formed some really good friendships because of the internet.”  Yes, that’s true – but if you haven’t heard the person’s voice, if you haven’t seen his/her tears or excitement IN PERSON, then you don’t really have true intimacy.  Remember: Intimacy =“Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley, The Seven Checkpoints.  Howard Books, 2001. p.81).

I find the internet very helpful in initiating communication with some people that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to communicate to.  But when communication over the internet becomes my “default” there’s a dead end in that friendship.

Final thought for now:
Unless we work to maintain person-to-person friendships, endure awkward silences with others, don’t know what to say when the other person says something really difficult, and go out of our way to realize that real friendships aren’t always “convenient” like internet friendship… then I’m convinced we will grow to treat God the same way: like He’s “convenient” and impersonal and doesn’t require much from us.

Last Week at Youth Group: Moral Boundaries

What’s the difference between the fire in a fireplace and a fire that’s burning your house down?  Boundaries.

Is there such thing as a safe fire?  Yes.  And No.  Even a lit candle which is in a jar can burn your house down if that candle is bumped off the table and the flame spreads beyond it’s jar/boundary.

Sex and sexuality are the same way.  God made sex as a wonderful thing… but within its proper boundaries.  On television and in movies sex is used as a shortcut to deep relationships, but God gave us sex as the pinnacle expression of love and intimacy within marriage.

I know many people who have good marriages, but whose marriages are seriously affected because of the previous sexual experiences one or both members had before they got married.  Sexual purity paves the way to intimacy.

The best definition for intimacy I’ve come across is this: “Intimacy is the joy of knowing someone fully and being known by that person with no fear of rejection” (Andy Stanley, The Seven Checkpoints.  Howard Books, 2001. p.81).  I believe we all crave that kind of intimate relationship.  If we listened to the media, we’d think we get that kind of intimacy through sex.  But that intimate relationship comes from sexual purity!

So what are your Moral Boundaries?  Where is your “line” drawn?  How far is too far for you?

In General:

  • The further you go, the faster you go
  • The further you go, the further you want to go
  • The further you go, the more difficult it is to go back

So set clear Moral Boundaries TODAY!  If you wait until you’re alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend to define and defend those boundaries you will eventually go further than you originally want (and further than God wants too!).  Here are four keys to setting clear Moral Boundaries:

  1. Know your own boundaries first, and stick to them
  2. Discuss clear boundaries (if you can’t discuss boundaries, you probably shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  3. Agree on clear boundaries (if you can’t agree on boundaries, you definitely shouldn’t be in this relationship)
  4. Don’t sabotage yourself! (as in: Don’t “hang out” in a house all by yourselves and then wonder why you went too far)

So what do you do if you’ve already gone too far?

  1. Stop! Take a break in the relationship and evaluate whether you need to end it to save yourself.
  2. Drop! Pray.  Confess your sin to God and ask him daily to give you His strength to regain purity.
  3. Roll! Get away from bad influences and get closer to godly influences

Remember God’s love overcomes all sin when you confess and repent.

  • “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:11-12
  • “But God demonstrates is own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8