The Myth of Doing Things the “Right Way”

May I be vulnerable for a moment? Is it okay for me to come clean?

Christian dating is weird…

fullsizeoutput_113I grew up going to different youth groups because I had dated girls that went there. Being a teenager with was awkward enough. Being a teenager with Cerebral Palsy made it harder. But being a Christian teenager with a disability, well… was… fun…

There were some good things I have been taught by reading books on sexual purity and I still believe in waiting until marriage. But I somewhat wonder if “kissing dating goodbye” was such a good idea in the first place. To make things worse, I’ve unwittingly subscribed to podcast orthodoxy listening to a certain disgraced pastor rant about what it means to be a godly man and going overboard in his ultra-complementation views.

I became obsessed with doing things the “right way” when it comes to love, dating, and courtship.

I didn’t feel like…

  • I was man enough
  • I had any right to ask anyone out because I didn’t feel like I’ve earned the right to
  • I knew what I was doing
  • I had any confidence or felt worthy of dating anyone
  • I had the money or a job that was respectable
  • I had anything going for me since my world consisted of theology, comedy, and pro wrestling (quite the catch, right?)

Moreover, I became so focused on purity that in the name guarding my heart to the point that good people couldn’t enter in.

Bottom line is that I didn’t have the same grace for myself that I do for others. I never learned how to be intentional until a few years ago. I was just told that if God wills it to happen, he will bring it to pass. Pretty much, any Christian clichĂ© in regards to “true love waits” or something like it that I have been told that or I readthe ultimate  in a book recommended by friends/Christianity Today.

The truth is that “youth group/church camp Christianity” barely even taught me how to date in light of the gospel. It was mostly morals on how to wait until marriage. I am not bitter about all the people that tried to teach me good morals in light of the Bible. There are GREAT dating principles that help safeguard relationships from premarital sex. I am a firm believer that we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). I also believe that sex is good and is supposed to be for marriage between a man and a woman like God created them to complement (Genesis 2:23-25). Song of Solomon 2:7 says it plainly that love is not to be awoken until the time is right. I also learned to treat Christian young women as sisters as commanded in 1 Timothy 5:2. These are all good things. I just wish they were in light of the gospel.

I also wish that the people taught me how to accept the good with the bad and everything in between in a relationship. I wish I learned how to enjoy the journey without overthinking or fearful. I never learned how to relax in spite of all of the butterflies. Moreover, I never learned HOW TO BE NORMAL! I’ve always heard that if I am going to be a man, I need to do things right. Yet, I am learning that there is no book that can legitimately tell you the steps to pursue love. It is all a myth that I bought into. I’m humbly learning that love is different for everyone. It is a myth that ultimately sets me out for failure because the truth is that the ultimate failure is never trying at all.

Nobody warned me of how awkward Christian dating culture would be in my thirties despite the fact that these would also be the same voices that told me that the person that I find would be blessed knowing my character. Nobody told me that I would make mistakes and that I need to have grace for myself because dating is really like a dance. You just learn as you go. But I also am saddened by the fact that most of what I learned about pursuing women and being intentional I have learned from websites like The Art of Manliness, Wikihow, and True Love Dates.

In the end, I must resign myself to the fact that there is a legitimate relationships are hard in general. This relational dysfunction between sexes that exists is because we have inherited an original sin nature from Adam. But I am thankful that through the cross, Jesus redeems relationships because He has restored our relationship with God the Father.

Maybe there is no right way to date as a Christian gentleman? Maybe dating is just a process of trial and error? Maybe the only “right way” is just getting out there and being myself?

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The Return of the Writer

*blows off dust*

img_1725I know that it has been a while since my last post. Life has been a crazy ride for me.

  • Internship came and went faster than I could blink
  • Experimenting with online dating
  • Had a job to support myself

    for two weeks only to become laid off

  • Interviews, resumes, job searching, repeat…
  • Trying out new things like spoken word poetry and photography to expand my knowledge/skill set
  • Noticing how much I need to take better care of myself
  • Blog post writer’s block
  • There were probably trips to Reno and the Grand Canyon in there somewhere…

All the while, I’ve been silent on here the whole time. Despite numerous attempts to post in hopes to bring some sort of inspiration or teach some facet of theology, I just couldn’t finish what I started.

Yet in this time, I have begun to rediscover myself and rediscover how much I need grace when I blow it. In the wilderness on this side of eternity, I have had my faith challenged, stretched, and matured through every trial. After all, life would be completely boring without hiccups and speed bumps to help keep you humble.

IMG_1722.JPGBut the more that I reflect on this past year, I’m at the point where I need to start getting back to the basics of my faith and my calling. I’ve spent most of my life as a Jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. I guess you can say that I have many talents that I am good at and it gets really hard to put me in a box. Yet, there comes a point where I need to hit the reset. I say that because as I noticed how I do so many things “good”, how many things that I do could I say that I perform “well” at? It is almost like I want to do all sorts of things for the Kingdom of God while I am so scatter-brained that I really have been ineffective. I think it is time for me to focus on doing one thing well instead of being good at a bunch of things.

What does that look like for me? I’m currently working on writing my own Bible commentary and there might be times I will post some of what I am composing on this blog. I also want to address theological topics as a way to minister to everyone who reads. But I want to do it in a way where it doesn’t seem forced because other people are talking about _____________ or how a famous pastor said __________.

It is my hope that I will not be a stranger to this blog anymore. But to do this, I know I need both grace and discipline. Yeah, I think I’m up for the challenge. 🙂

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Alpha Male? Nah, I’d Rather Be a Godly Male

Sometimes I just have a good chuckle at my fellow men and look at them with bewilderment.

Seriously, I do.

cropped-Cigar-Dave-Chromo-Logo.png
I mean, I’ve been listening to some various podcasts that are not religious so that I can expand my knowledge base. And as a connoisseur of cigars, I decided a while ago to educate myself more on the world of cigars. I subscribed to this one called The Cigar Dave Show. I will admit that I enjoyed some of the content pertaining to cigars, libations, and politics here and there.

And then they talk about what is often called “the alpha male lifestyle”. From what I understand from a worldview perspective, it sounds like a bunch of women-degrading, pleasure-seeking hedonism. I’ve heard things about how every alpha male should have a harem and saying that he would be going to town if he had “hot teachers” growing up.

While I do not know the worldview of Cigar Dave, I find it sad how “America’s Alpha Male” promotes the kind of irresponsibility you would expect to find in a Maxim magazine. But what I find interesting is that when I see older men from older, they tend to have a side of them that wishes to relive their “glory days” This is not all true of men as I have seen men grow old and they carry themselves with dignity and respect. Yet, I have also seen men that could be consider adolescents with more facial hair.

Lately, I have been going through the book of Titus with some young adults in the church I serve at. Last night, we looked at what godly older men look like in light of the gospel and sound doctrine. In Titus 2:2, Paul tells Titus that the older men are to be “… sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” (ESV) This means that the godly men are to be level-headed, temperate, and holding to Biblical doctrine as well ask looking forward to the return of Christ with patience. He is completely faithful to one wife as well as carrying on the traits of an elder as he is the pastor of his home to his wife and family.

And so, in thinking about all of this talk about being an alpha I think I might end up passing. I would rather be a man that could emulate her father than being a guy who is focused solely on living the “good life”. If aiming for Christ-likeness makes me a beta on the world’s standard, I don’t really care if I finish last as a really nice guy. I would rather be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ than trying to be like every worldly “alpha male” in the world.

 

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When Christians Miss the Point of Grace: Missional Musings in a Transient City

las-vegas-09I have had my fair share of reaction from people who know that I am a Christian and that I live in Las Vegas. At one time I was a full time missionary hailing from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I had no desire to go to Las Vegas until I realize that there was a need for the gospel in the city. It was this time as a missionary for five years that I fell in love with Las Vegas. Not because of anything sinful of the city, but this is a city that is just as broken as every other city (that is if you believe in the total depravity of mankind). It was G.K. Chesterton that once said, “Unlovely things must be deeply loved before they can be lovable.”

However, I find it fascinating that when it comes to the relation between Christians and Las Vegas there are two groups. The first group treat this city like it is Sodom and Gomorrah. These brothers and sisters (as much as I love them for being well meaning) see the Sin City for what it is and would rather see God’s judgement be poured on the city and have it be poured on it NOW! The other group of Christians I see are no different than the transients that come to Las Vegas for a few years because they are stationed at Nellis AFB or they were sent here because of their job for a few years and then they move out.

When I look at this city from a Biblical worldview, I am reminded that as a Christian in the city, I am called to seek its welfare (Jeremiah 29:7). This means that we as Christians cannot check out when things get bad. instead, we are to work to see our communities prosper. This happens best when we share the gospel to everyone who will hear. After all, did not Paul say that “Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds?” (Romans 5:20) How are we, as Christians, supposed to be lights in a dark place when we take up our belongings and run to the next city?

There are times I hear my fellow believers talk bad about Las Vegas and how sinful it is. I had one guy ask me when I said I was going back to Las Vegas, “Why do you want to move closer to hell?” Good question… I would say that my calling is to snatch as many people from the fire with fear and trembling as I can (Jude 23). It was C.T. Study that once said, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” [1] If there is any city that desperately needs to hear the gospel in America, it is Las Vegas. I love this city and I want to see this city prosper. However, How will Vegas prosper Spiritually if nobody is here to share Jesus with the citizens of the city?


Footnotes

[1] As quoted in Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993), 36.

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I do not NEED anymore TRUTHless heroes (or Please Preach to Me as an Adult)

IMG_0049I haven’t written much this summer because I have been busy serving at Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center and doing some personal academic/spiritual growth as of late. And yep, I’m kind of inspired a little bit by the Christian band, Project 86. But I have been going back over my notes from Theology notes and lecture audio from taking a class with Dr. Joseph Holden (ves.edu) in my spare time as I am preparing to serve at Grace Point Church in North Las Vegas, NV as a writer. I can’t help but to think of something profound as I’m going through the notes I took from theology class and doing my own research along the way. Nobody wants to believe a lie. In fact, nobody wakes up in the morning after hitting the snooze button seventy times, “I think I’ll be a heretic today.”

But when it comes down to brass tacks, I find it saddening how much theology we get from pop culture/society/really bad Christian music. Somehow, we’ve bought into the lie that young people do not want doctrine, they want entertainment. I believe we have people like Rick Warren and Robert Schuller to thank/blame for starting this modern theology downgrade.[1] Sadly, over the past year, we have witnessed the downfall of what many would have deemed the epitome of the hipster pastors in the person of Mark Driscoll and his many various scandals.

In an article in the Washington Post, Brett McCracken makes note that most millennials do not want “hipster churches”. In fact, they would rather  “…want the church to be the church: an institution that embraces awkward people, confronts sin, transforms lives, subverts the sovereignty of self, serves others and provides meaning more substantial than the ephemera of fickle fads.” [2] In other words, we, as millennials, are not buying the whole “doing church for the unchurched” thing.

A sad example of this happened a few years ago. A church in Las Vegas posted up billboards that read, “God Gives a D**n”. The funny thing is that while the pastor thought it would help the church by having these billboards and signs up for this church, his blog actually admitted that there was no growth to his church. [3] Yet, I find it fascinating that the Bible does not tell us to church for the unchurched. Instead, church is to build up the body of Christ.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV)

I also thought that as Christians, we are encouraged to think about what is true.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

In commenting on this in his study Bible, John MacArthur notes, “What is true is found in God (2 Tim. 2:25), in Christ (Eph. 4:20, 21), in the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), and in God’s Word (John 17:17).” [4] This is the summation of Christian doctrine. To abandon this is to abandon the preaching of the Word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Let’s be real here. The Bible will always be relevant. Trends will not. And if you have to preach to me thinking that as a millennial I’m too dumb to handle topics like vicarious penal substitutionary atonement, I might have to question where you stand on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. We don’t need any more preachers pretending to be cool. We are to be a peculiar people for His possession (1 Peter 2:9). We have a message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins that we need to proclaim (Luke 24:47). Maybe we wouldn’t have so many people leaving the church if we actually acted and preached like it?.


Footnotes

[1] Michael Horton flushes this out in his book, Christless Christianity.
[2] Brett McCracken, “Can hipster Christianity save churches from decline?”, Washington Post, July 27, 2015, accessed August 5, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/07/27/can-hipster-christianity-save-churches-from-decline/.
[3] Admin, “God Gives a Damn … the Results”, Vince Antonucci, May 15, 2011, accessed August 5, 2015,http://vinceantonucci.com/2011/05/god-gives-a-damn-the-results/.
[4] John MacArthur Jr., ed., The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville, TN: Word Pub., 1997), 1828

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Christ, the (Often) Forgotten Person of Pentecost

IMG_0296Unless your church doesn’t follow a liturgical calendar, today is Pentecost Sunday. It is a time where the church remembers the first pouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4. It is a time where, as the Church universal, remember how the institution of the church began.  I know, I know… Church isn’t supposed to be an institution (that is unless Matthew 16:18-19 isn’t blacked out in Sharpie yet in your Bibles). I do not intend to cause division or start a debate for fun. However, in surveying the landscape of Evangelical Christianity, and especially in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, I often wonder if we make too much of one of the most confusing and the most abused member of the Trinity that is called the Holy Spirit. Let me explain…

In the Upper Room on the night before Jesus would be crucified, Jesus did say that He would send the Holy Spirit to help His disciples (John 14:16-17) and that the Holy Spirit would bear witness of Jesus (John 15:26).[1] Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told his disciples to wait to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem before they start to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His name (Luke 23:44-49; Acts 1:8). So, when we get to the day of the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4 (or the Feast of Weeks according to Leviticus 23:15-16), the disciples were sitting down in a house when the Holy Spirit came and rested upon them. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak in other languages (which ended up being understood by Jews that came to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast from other nations as recorded in Acts 2:5-11).  This lead to a lot of confusion and mocking.

So, Peter gets up and does an expositional sermon on Joel 2:28:32. He quotes these verses and shows how what was going on from the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 24:29) until that point had been a fulfillment of that prophecy.[2] Peter points out that Jesus was crucified and was raised a as a part of God’s foreordained plan (Acts 2:22-24) and he uses King David’s words in Psalm 16:8-11 to hammer home this point (Acts 2:25-28).  To put the icing on the cake, Peter caps off his Spirit-filled sermon with saying that David was not talking about himself, but of Christ (Acts 2:29-37).[3]

In comparison to what Peter proclaimed on the first day of Pentecost, today’s Pentecostal/Charismatic circles seem to miss the point of the sermon. The Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus. But how many of the big name ministries that focus on the Holy Spirit actually proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 15:3-4)? Compared to what I see in Peter’s Pentecost sermon, I kinda wonder if getting back to the book of Acts as the Bride of Christ requires us to stop blaming shenanigans on the Holy Spirit and returning to a Christ-centered gospel.


Footnotes

[1] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 641.
[2]Robert G. Hoeber, Concordia Self-Study Bible, electronic ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1997), Ac 2:17.
[3] Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 624–625.

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Faith in the Dark (or Trusting Jesus When We Don’t Have All the Answers, or Am I Really Walking in 14 days?)

My first day on campus. I think my eyes were closed...

My first day on campus. I think my eyes were closed…

Fourteen days until I make the walk across the stage of Calvary Chapel Bible College.

Fourteen days. Fourteen. One… Foooouuurrrrr…

Note sure what to think about it. I know I will always be a lifelong student of the Bible and I will always find ways to grow in Christ. I’m done listening to the Chuck Smith C2000 Through the Bible series on MP3, so I might work my way through some Skip Heitzig or Clark Van Wick sermons as lectures. I have no idea what is next on my journey in terms of vocation. But yet, I acknowledge that this one verse is true…

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

Someone once asked me in a discipleship school, “Can I trust Christ when I can’t see all of the answers?” Graduation from a Bible college is scary because people ask me the annoying question, “What is next?”

People have ideas of avenues for ministry for me. I just find it funny of the kind of things they come up with and try to be the Holy Spirit in my life. “Andrew, have you ever thought about starting a church for the disabled?” “Why don’t you go to seminary?” “Will you ever go back into missions?” “Why don’t you consider (fill in the blank)?” All I can do is say “Thank you, I will consider it.”

In the past two years, I have definitely grown up. I’ve grown more in love with Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I have learned what it means to be charismatic without going off the deep end. I have grown in my understanding about love, loss, and enjoying friendships along the way with both genders. I have grown in my gifting and calling to be a teacher despite the fact that I have a speech impediment. I don’t think that is something a liberal-crazy seminary can teach me.

I have been blessed to sit under the teaching of faithful men who hold the Bible in high esteem without resulting in Bibliolatry (which I am in the process of blogging about). I have been blessed to serve with dear brothers and sisters, including two semesters doing dishes under the supervision of the awesome Cagle family! I have grown to appreciate the fact that God has wired me to be creative in terms of comedy, teaching, and in film making.

I really don’t know what the future holds for me. But I do know the One who knows my future. And I know that whether I get an internship here at the college, or at a church somewhere, I know He will guide my steps as I sojourn as a light into this dark world.

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