jump to navigation

PlayStation ID March 29, 2011

Posted by Nate in Christianity.
add a comment


Get your Portable ID!

Advertisements

Restored to Grace has moved to a new home!!! January 6, 2009

Posted by Nate in Updates.
add a comment

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

Restored to Grace is now at restoredtograce.com.

All things to all men. . . December 8, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity.
3 comments

I was thinking about the idea of “being all things to all men,” when I realized something. Never in Scripture is it found that Saul changed his name to Paul when he was converted. In fact, in Acts 13 (when he’s first referred to as Paul), the passage says, “Saul, who was also called Paul. . .”

As I did more research (said research was done a couple years ago, but it was only recently that I saw the application), I discovered that Saul most likely carried both names throughout his life. Saul was a Jew. The name “Saul” is a strong Jewish name. It was kind of like “Alistair” or “William” in English. I think Saul carried that name because of where he was in his life. He was a student of Hebrew law and on the verge of becoming a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” and blameless in the eyes of the law.

Interestingly enough, he continues to use the name “Saul” even after his conversion. I’m betting this is because his ministry was to the Jews for a while. In Acts 11, Saul and Barnabas taught the Jewish Christian church in Antioch. He carried that name because of who he was among and who his ministry was directed to.

But in Acts 13, when the Jews rejected his message, Saul began to close his ministry to the Jews and focus nearly entirely on his ministry to the Gentiles. “Paul” was a common Roman name. He used this name to connect with the people he was ministering to.

So what am I trying to get at? Well, I suppose the application is that God is trying to tell us to be and do whatever it takes to spread the gospel. When among differing groups of people, are we “changing our names”? After all, we were born humans. We have that much in common with people. Paul maintained his identity as a Christ-follower, but his identity as a Roman or Jew was ever-shifting back and forth.

So, in my life? Among the poets, I’m a writer. Among the athletes, I’m a sports fan. Among the broken and fallen, I am broken and fallen. To share the gospel, I need to be able to say the two most powerful words in our language: “me too.”

My Rock. . . November 20, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
2 comments

I wish I could put into words the kind of emotional roller coaster I’ve been on these last couple weeks. Life has been so unstable, and I feel like the portion of my life spent in turning the page to “Chapter 2” can be defined as a huge trial.

Those of you who know my personal struggles would call me sheltered or naïve. What I’m going through right now pales in comparison to what many are dealing with. Perhaps I am sheltered. I thank God that I haven’t experienced some of the trials my friends have experienced. But those of you who know me well also know that I have a tendency to bear the trials of others. I carry their weight on my shoulders and suffer their pain as if it were my own.

I had no idea just how earth-shattering the transition to “Chapter 2” would be for me. Or that one person could impact my life so profoundly and be the catalyst for the change. Thanks to one person, my life looks nothing like it used to, and the course I travel will never be what I had envisioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see what God has in store, but I feel like I’ve lost all stability in my life. But I know I can find it again.

God promised that, even though life may be completely unstable, he is an immovable rock. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words:

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.

In all the instability of my life, my God, my Creator, my Originator, the Heart from which I was born—He is completely stable. And no matter what comes into my life, He will always be there.

We used to teach the children at Liquid Kids the song “My Rock.” The chorus is as follows:

You are the Rock
You are the steady and unchanging
The way You care for me is wonderful, amazing
I can depend on You, trust in You, rely on You
You are, You are my Rock.

No matter how unstable my life becomes, no matter how many times I turn the page to “Chapter 2,” no matter how difficult those page turns may be, God is my Rock.

Soles4Souls. . . November 10, 2008

Posted by Nate in Social Justice.
1 comment so far

Speaking of BHAG’s. . .

Fellow blogger Anne Jackson turned me on to a fantastic charity.

You guys know me fairly well, so you probably know that I have a heart for charities of all kinds. (See my posts on Love146 and charity: water.) This is obviously no exception.

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge

This particular charity comes with a challenge: raise enough money to supply shoes for people who need them. I’m betting most of my readers take this simple necessity for granted. Just like water, we often assume this need will be met. Unfortunately, too many people around the world go without shoes day after day after day.

So, here’s what I’m asking you guys to do with me: click the banner above and just donate $5. It goes a long way. $5 is enough to donate a pair of shoes. I also want you to check out the “50,000 Pairs in 50 Days” group on Facebook.

Spread the word about this. We’ve got 50 days to get this done! I know you guys can do it!

(Twenty) First Century Church. . . November 8, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church.
1 comment so far

At the beginning of the First Century, a group of ragamuffins were given a crazy mission: take the Word of God to the whole frickin’ world.

In 1996, a couple guys coined the term BHAG, or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. That’s what Jesus gave his first followers. It was crazy, and I’m betting those eleven guys were thinking stuff like, “What the heck did I get myself into? Why couldn’t I have said ‘no’ three years ago?”

But it was totally worth it; 3000 people became Christ-followers in a day. This new Jesus movement was spreading like wildfire, and nothing anyone could do would be able to slow it down, let alone stop it.

But don’t think that no one tried. Plenty of people gave it a shot. But everyone was powerless to shut these radicals up. A wise teacher of religious law said these words during the beginning of the Jesus movement:
the-pharisees-conspire-together-giclee-print-c12015015

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

To this very day, the Jesus movement continues to spread like wildfire. Check out the Chinese underground church. Look at the Russian believers. For 2000 years, the Jesus movement has continued to spread.

luthers-95I firmly believe we’re in the midst of a massive surge in Christianity. Every few centuries, something big happens that sets the Faith on fire. In the Sixteenth Century it was the Protestant Reformation. In the Eighteenth Century it was the Great Awakening.

The songwriter Brooke Fraser put it this way:

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
Selfless faith

I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees
On our knees

There is a revolution coming, and I believe it is already among us. Millions of people are already stirring the metaphorical fires of revival within their own hearts, and when God begins to move in people whose hearts are broken for what breaks His, the movement is unstoppable.

Let’s bring it home and make it tangible. New Jersey is America’s #1 most densely populated state. Yet it ranks near the bottom in church attendance. “A spiritually dry region,” Tim would say.

But like the First-Century Church, which surged like a tsunami through regions that were dying of spiritual thirst, the Twenty-First-Century Church is on the brink of doing the same thing. With the vision of taking church to the people (instead of taking people to the church), Liquid is about to surge through New Jersey.

For months, I’ve been itching to post about this, and FINALLY we’ve officially announced our vision for UNSTOPPABLE 2010. God is doing something amazing through His church in New Jersey.

Can you “see the King of Glory” at work here?

A beautiful weekend. . . November 3, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends.
add a comment

Nothing is more beautiful to me than hearing story after story of how God is stirring the hearts of individual people. I can’t help but shed tears of joy over each soul that Christ restores.

On October 26, 2008, 62 people pledged their loyalty to Jesus in the city of Morristown, NJ. Even remembering makes me cry.

Whatever is true. . . October 31, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
1 comment so far

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

~Philippians 4.8

“Whatever.

“Anything.”

I think I’ve had it backwards all along. I think we all have. For too many years people have used this verse to limit themselves and others around them. It’s sad, really. I even had this verse thrown at me when an authority figure confronted me about the fact that The Matrix had found its way onto my list of favorite movies.

This is a pivotal passage, to be sure. Your interpretation of it will dictate how you live your life and how effective you are in cultivating meaningful relationships with those who haven’t heard the gospel. But beyond that, it’s a command. A statement with the understood subject you. So naturally, it’s something we need to obey.

I guess how we obey this command isn’t as important as simply obeying the command, but I want to present some ideas here about one kind of “how.”

Last night during a vision and strategy meeting for Liquid Kids, I stole a few minutes with Bill, one of our new pastors and ultimate cool guy with glasses and no hair. (Tim Stevens now has competition!) Our conversation quickly moved to topics like the TV show “Saving Grace” and XXX Church. What got me about him wasn’t that he was okay with the content in “Saving Grace,” because even he admits it’s not the greatest. What hit me was that he found something redeeming in it. He found the story of redemptive love and radical grace in the middle of so-called “trash on TV.”

And the guys at XXX Church are doing something amazing. They’ve found something worth loving in what every Christian agrees would be the worst possible environment for a follower of Christ to be found. But that is what it means to show a radical kind of love. Imagine, if you will, what Christianity would look like if Jesus didn’t spend so much time among whores and thieves, insurrectionists and freedom fighters. How life-changing would grace be if He were unwilling to do that?

Here’s an excerpt from an email that Craig from XXX Church received after a gay erotica show his team spoke at:

No, thank you guys for coming! Your crew was incredibly friendly and welcoming and willing to speak with anyone and everyone. We even gave them stage time in a prime slot to promote your message. . . Your message that he loves everyone and the fact that your determination to spread that word even in what I’m sure was the craziest and weirdest event and location your crew has witnessed shows me that you guys are doing a great and selfless thing. . . Please keep doing what you are doing.

P.S. The gays thought your crew was adorable, we loved them! It was a total shock to have a bible handed to you in the midst of such debauchery.

XXX Church found something worth loving at that event—human souls. Just like Christ found something worth loving on earth. Satan meant for an event like this to destroy men’s souls. But God has different plans. I can almost hear Joseph’s voice here: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Whenever I hear a story of redemption, something inside me rejoices. But when that story comes out of the darkest place possible, it’s that much more beautiful.

Let me ask you something. How far are you willing to go to find the noble, true, right, pure, lovely, or admirable? If you come across it, are you willing to embrace it? Or will you shun it because it doesn’t fit into your box?

How do you choose to obey that verse? Do you think only on what you already know to be noble or lovely? Or do you see the pure and admirable in places that others are unwilling to go?

In The Matrix there’s a story of a man who has come to rescue people from the destructive path that they had chosen by creating AI. He possesses a unique ability and is the only one who can save them. And he will do everything in his power to secure their salvation. Even go to his death.

Sound familiar? Is it a beautiful story? Is there something noble and true in it? Then why not embrace it?

God, the Lover. . . October 22, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal, Spirituality.
1 comment so far

Imagine a scandalous love affair. One where a woman, unsatisfied with her husband’s provision and care, turns to a stranger to find the passion that seems to not exist in the promise made between her and her groom. The stranger enters her life, promising passion, affection, and desire. She opens the door of her heart to him, and he walks in offering her hope.

She also opens the door of her husband’s heart to him, and as he walks in, he carries with him an arsenal of weapons. He destroys everything. He ravages the innermost fabric of the husband, leaving him broken, shattered, and lost.

Who opened the door?

I did.

Every single day.

When God whispers to me, “Return to me. I’ve paid the price for your freedom.

I open the door to that scandalous love affair when I forget my God.

When I put my own desires, pleasures, and needs in front of Him.

When I love myself more than I love Him.

When I ignore His children. . . the weak,

the poor,

the broken.

I break the heart of God. And I crucify the God-Man over and over again.

Because He died for the weak, the poor, and the broken. And when I, the Christ-follower, forget those whom He died for, I nail Him to the cross again,

with my own hands.

I break His heart when I seek fulfillment in secret evil pleasures like porn,

drunkenness,

promiscuity.

I break His heart when I long to connect with friends and family

more than I long to connect with Him.

I break His heart when my hobbies (books,

video games,

music,

movies)

replace His love for me.

I open the door to strangers and let them tear apart my true Love’s heart.

Is it not sufficient? Is His love not enough? Or must I find something else to satisfy? Must I elevate the gift above the giver? Will I find fulfillment in knowing more about a flower or in getting to know the gardener? Can I fall in love with the uplifting and encouraging words of a woman, or can the woman herself suffice?

Is the love of God more captivating than the Lover-God?

When the woman returns to her husband, he has lost no love for her, and he reaches to her with outstretched arms because he still wants her. Because he still loves her.

Because He still wants me. Because He still loves me.

Rediscovering me. . . October 13, 2008

Posted by Nate in Friends, Personal, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
2 comments

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

~James 1.2-4

I had a bit of a wake up call last night. I guess you could say I’d forgotten who I am. The last few weeks have been a struggle for me, and I sensed God withdrawing his presence from me. Or so I thought.

When I start to feel alone like that, I begin to withdraw and wallow in self pity. That sucks because I’m a pretty fun-loving guy. It’s a sad irony. I begin to feel lonely, so then I start to do things that make me feel even lonelier. Where’s the healing in that?

For example, a few weeks ago I was hit with some pretty disappointing news. It was tough to swallow, but I got it down and was able to move on with life. Sort of.

Since I never fully addressed the pain that I had experienced that day, it began to plague me for the following weeks. And as the pain intensified, my sense of vulnerability increased, as did the feeling that God was pulling away from me.

It’s a scary feeling. Because I knew in my head that it wasn’t true. God promised to never leave me. Then why did I feel like he was doing just that?

I think it was because he was strengthening me. He was stretching and expanding my capacity in order to make me more mature. What I interpreted as his withdrawal from me was his allowance of stronger attacks on my soul in order to intensify my resolve.

But in the heat of the moment, I didn’t make this realization. So I pulled into myself and allowed the pain to engulf me. I even grew slightly masochistic and slowly cut off some of the friendships I really wanted to flourish.

So there I was—a lonely, self-deprecating shell of the man I had been, and a distortion of the man I was supposed to become.

So why James 1? It began with a “faith-quake.” God decided to send something into my life that would shake up my faith in him. I hadn’t questioned my faith for a while, so it seemed fitting that a trial should come along. The aftershocks were just as harsh, attacking me at my weakest points: my obscenely strong desire to connect. And it was painful.

God had just one word for me: “Persevere.”

“What?! You mean, in the face of all these trials, you want me to suck it up and keep going?”

“I am with you,” he told me.

“So you’ve said before,” I replied.

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see my glory?” And then he hit me with it. “I began something good in you, and I will be faithful to bring it to completion. . . Even if you are faithless, I will not lose faith in you because to do so would be to disown myself.”

So what was the wake up call? A few harsh words from a friend of mine that opened my eyes to an amazing truth about myself: I am loved. That’s who I am. That’s who I’d forgotten.

It’d have been nice if she’d simply said, “I care about you.” But sometimes the brusque way is the better one. We learn about ourselves through the ugly honesty of those who truly care.

King Solomon wrote that “wounds from a friend can be trusted.”

The wounds weren’t really all that bad, but thanks to those harsh words, I’m pretty sure now that I have at least one friend. 🙂

I’m not quite myself just yet; that “faith-quake” shook me harder than I’d initially thought. But thanks to some “wounds from a friend,” I’m on the path to rediscovering myself.