How to talk about your faith… and make people WANT to know more

This guy continues to floor me with his passion, depth, and humility. Being deeply entrenched in the Bible Belt and Mega-churches for most of my life (with a brief stint as a sort of hippie) the way most people talk about faith, gets hung up on using the “right” words or checking off a list of theological truths… and honestly, there’s a bit of pressure to “win” or “convince” the other person that you are correct and they too want to be on the right side of belief and theology (and church membership and tithing).

But when I watched this short clip of Josh Garrels’ IN:5 interview, I just sat here thinking… yes.. Yes… YES… I can imagine being any random person Josh encounters as he skates through Portland, pops in and out of small coffee shops with his guitar, or as he plays with his kids and the neighbors…

He speaks in a way that draws you in. He chooses his words carefully. Speaks conversationally but confidently. There is an eagerness and healthy fear in his eyes that makes you want to know what it is he’s talking about.

I’ve been on this thought again for a while, and I’m not at all suggesting that sound theology isn’t important, BUT what I do believe is that if we truly believe and are following Christ and being changed by Him, then we’ll have more than theological formulas to sell someone or cliché Christianese… Granted, Josh is a poet and songwriter, so he has a way with words. But can we share, in our own words (and a barely containable enthusiasm in our body language) what we say is the single most important thing in our lives?

Josh Garrels IN:5 // Believe from IN:5 on Vimeo.

God as He really is… Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast

Eric Metaxas wrote some of my girls’ favorite books and thick biographies on Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer. (You can easily find his best-selling works here on Amazon) Here he gets bold, funny, and honest about the difference true prayer, true faith, and true relationship with Jesus makes… it changes everything about your life, the way you see others, and the action you must take in response to the Amazing Grace that has transformed you. (30 minutes well spent) Whether he’s speaking to the President, writing VeggieTales rhymes, or New York Times best selling Biographies, this guy is “not ashamed of the gospel.” What an incredible influence through his God-given gifts, talents, and platform. Grateful for his obedience.

An Impossible Challenge: $1 for 1 Day

Today is World Poverty Day. Surely you’ve heard by now statistics like “Over 1.25 BILLION people in the world live on less than $1 a day.” Yes… that’s Billion, with a “B.”

I wanted to challenge myself and friends to get through the day on only $1 per day… to try and identify with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffering extreme poverty… But it’s impossible. It is simply impossible to even force yourself into that kind of poverty as an experiment in empathy…

Here’s what I mean: Have you ever let yourself identify with that harsh reality? Not just in a “poor them” kind of sympathy, but really try to imagine that bare bones existence?

  • To be honest, if you happen to see this via twitter, tumblr, or facebook, then you’ve probably already exceeded your daily allowance – what we spend on the cheapest data plan for cell phones or internet service at home is close to, if not more than, $1 per day…
  • Imagine all of your utilities are free – electricity, water, sewer (forget about TV, netflix, DVR, etc)…
  • Imagine the cost to get to work or school is free – car payment, gas money, insurance, tag fees, transportation fees…
  • While we’re at it and since we’ve mentioned a place to live, work, and get an education, imagine all of those things are free too – mortgage or rent, tuition and fees, any qualifications or even basic wardrobe and hygiene needed to be employable (let alone successful)…
  • Imagine your health needs – insurance, medications, vitamins, even something as simple as clean water… not just branded and from a bottle, but from the tap… that’s all free too…
  • And we haven’t even mentioned FOOD…not just $1 item on a “value meal” but food for the whole day every day.

We can’t even pick ONE of those things and try to manage $1 a day in ONE category! And even if all of those things were “free,” (which is the best we can imagine, since we can’t escape these obligations to banks, service providers, and employers for the day… we can’t unlearn our education or undo the physical and mental development resulting from a lifetime of proper nutrition and basic healthcare.) we still can barely stretch our imaginations to picture only $1 a day left to live on for everything else…

So, again, It’s only 8am and as I drink my second cup of coffee, finish a quick blog post on my laptop after reflecting on my daily reading I downloaded from my church’s website and a tweet about #WorldPovertyDay from my smart phone… I realize I CAN’T imagine life on $1 a day… I can’t even fake it…

It’s simply impossible to fathom… it’s a tragic injustice… in light of all the buzz lately about “Occupy Wall Street” and everywhere else… people bent out of shape about the obscene gap between the 1% and the 99%… Let’s stop focusing on ourselves “deserving more” and remember that well over a Billion people live on less that $1 a day and that pretty much anyone in the U.S. already has more than 80-90% of the world’s population – an obscene gap exists between our daily reality, no matter how budget-conscious, and the struggle for survival of Billions of people on this planet who happened to be born at a different latitude and longitude than we did…

This isn’t about feeling guilty about what we have – it’s about doing something about the fact that so many people DON’T have. It’s not about “UNDOING” something temporarily in our lives – it’s about DOING something for the sake of eternity in other people’s lives.

I can’t even imagine…

But I know something has to be done.

8 years ago… our faith journey

Honeymoon in St. John (the journey begins)

“The tune that is yours and mine

to play upon this earth,

we’ll play it out the best we know,

whatever it is worth.”

Bob Dylan – The Wedding Song

Happy anniversary to my beautiful bride.

I thank God for the faith journey He has us on together.

8 years ago TODAY… God joined us together, man and wife and the journey “officially” began.

7 years ago TODAY… We moved to a new state, homeless, trusting God to provide a home as we followed His call… He did within weeks.

6 years ago… We stepped out in faith again, trusting God to provide a new job for Amanda… He did within a week.

5 years ago… We trusted God to provide as I stepped into a church staff position even though the math never added up… He has always provided.

4 years ago… God blessed us with our first daughter. Adalyn was born and we stepped out in faith again as Amanda stayed home to raise and disciple our child… God continued to provide.

3 years ago… God was growing our family and our faith as Amanda was pregnant with Ella, our second daughter… Our awe of God’s grace in our lives grew exponentially.

2 years ago… God called me to step into a new world – full-time writing – promising to open the doors of opportunity… He swung that first door wide open a month later.

1 year ago… We were surprised by yet another little girl – Katy Jane – and God grew our hearts and faith as we weren’t sure how we would manage now that we were outnumbered and the math had still never worked…

TODAY… God continues to provide, bless, and stretch our faith. We don’t know what the future holds, but He has proven faithful to us every step of the way and I am confident that He has great things for the years ahead as we seek to be faithful to Him. Thank you God for the gift of my bride and mother of our children. Thank you for calling us to this life together. Thank you for your guidance at every turn (thank you that those turns in our journey are never surprising to you and that you’ve always gone ahead to prepare the way).