If you’re like me, you’re probably getting tired of all the “click bait” titles on your facebook or twitter feeds. You know the types of links I’m talking about. They include randomly long lists and words like blown-away, mind boggling, and faith in humanity restored.

Websites will do anything they can to get you to click through to their site. We even do it here at #LiveFully sometimes (at least I didn’t title this post “You’ll never believe why we’ve become a click bait culture”). These click bait titles, however, have gotten out of hand. So much so, that a twitter user, @SavedYouAClick, now copies the text of these titles and gives simple one word answers to these teasers. It’s kind of hilarious to see how unexciting these tantalizing titles can really be.

Another website, Clickhole, is dedicated to creating the most exciting sounding article titles and filling it with the most boring/obvious content. Here’s an example: 5 iconic movie scenes that were actually fake. It’s no surprise that this site was created by the same people who run the Onion.

The problem with click bait titles is this: when everything becomes special and exciting, then nothing is special or exciting. In order to demonstrate this, I decided to make a video with nothing but buzzfeed and upworthy titles as the dialogue. It’s kind of ridiculous – no one talks like this.

So the question must be asked – why have we become overwhelmed with click bait titles? They obviously work, but why do we click them?

The simple answer, I believe, is that we were made for glory. We want to be blown away, we want to be wowed. We want to see something amazing and praise it.

Made for glory

Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” In other words, God created us to glorify Him. If we do not give Him glory, then we will give it to someone or something else. There is a reason mankind has worshipped gods throughout all of history – glorification of great things is central to our identity. John Piper says it this way,

“What if we asked someone, “Would you want to watch a football game where all the players were no better than you? Or watch a movie where the actors could act no better than you and were no better looking than you? Or go to a museum to see pictures by painters who could paint no better than you?” Why are we willing to be exposed in all these places as utterly inferior? How can we get so much joy out of watching people magnify their superiority over us? The biblical answer is that we were made by God to get our deepest joys not from being superior ourselves but from enjoying God’s superiority. All these other experiences are parables. God’s superiority is absolute in every way, which means our joy in it may be greater than we could ever imagine.”

The reality we are all waking up to, however, is that facts about puppies or pictures of adorable cats will not truly blow us away. In fact, they won’t even come close.

If we actually want to experience something great, then it is best found in God. There are many ways to glorify God, but perhaps these three are my favorite:

1) Look to the Gospel:

Everyone thinks Jesus was a great guy, even non-Christians. We typically forget, however, how awesome he truly is. This is a man who John described with these words in John 1:14. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

If you want to be wowed, spend some time looking at Jesus. Notice the ways he loves the sinners and the sick, listen to the brilliant things he said, look at the impact he made on his followers, and remember that he died a horrible death so that you might live. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus will take your breath away.

2) Disciple someone:

The last commandment of Jesus before ascending into Heaven is known as the Great Commission. In it he says, “Go and make disciples…” Obedience to God brings him glory, but making disciples offers limitless opportunities to be wowed by God. Why? Because you will see Him change people’s lives.

Perhaps one of the most powerful (and most under appreciated) proofs of God’s existence is the change he works in people. I’ve seen radical change that simply doesn’t happen without God’s work. Discipleship allows us to see these changes, and even be a part of the change. It does not offer any instant-gratification. You won’t be blown-away within 30 seconds and you will need to actually invest time and energy in someone. But the investment makes the work of the Spirit all the more rewarding.

3) See the World:

God’s creation is unbelievable sometimes. It’s almost impossible for me to not glorify God when I see something like this in real life:

Routeburn Track

And while you can see nice photos online, they will never come close to visiting an inspiring place in real life. It will take time, and possibly money, but it is worth it. Sometimes, however, the most beautiful places are the park in your neighborhood or the joy on the face of your own children. The world is full of beautiful places, people, and experiences, but you won’t find them on buzzfeed. The internet is great for ideas, but ultimately, the things that will amaze you are not on your computer screen. Spend time in God’s creation, and revel in His great work.

Your turn: What is your favorite way to give God glory?

Election season is upon us! We actually just had national elections in New Zealand, and political campaigns in the USA are ramping up for this November’s mid-term elections. As these things happen, everyone becomes a little more opinionated.

1 Peter 2:17 has something interesting to say about politics, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaIn the USA, there is obviously no Emperor, but if Peter were writing to Americans the last phrase would say “Honor the President.” Most Christians think it’s a good idea to honor people, love the brotherhood, and fear God. None of us are perfect, but we’ll at least try.

When it comes to honoring our leader, however, I think we often fall short. America today has become extremely polarized politically. It seems like there are two groups over the last decade: Those who hated Bush and those who hate Obama. Now, most Christians wouldn’t say they “hate” either of them, but their actions and comments tell a different story.

There is a joke in the South: you can say anything you want about someone, as long as it’s followed by “bless his/her heart.” For instance, a woman might say, “That boy is completely lazy and throwing his life away, bless his heart.” In Christian politics, I think we have a similar rule. We call him liar, snake, tyrant, or even the antichrist and then follow it up with “you don’t have to like the man, but you must respect the office.”

But is calling someone a liar and a snake and a evil tyrant really respecting the office? Is this what God meant when He called us to honor the Emperor?

You might argue back, “but we have (or have had) a really bad president! How am I supposed to honor him?!”

Just to be clear, I’m writing to both sides of the political spectrum. I know Christian democrats and republicans, and both can make the mistake of despising the President. As bad as you might think whoever the leader of your country is (if you don’t today, you might in 5 years), he or she is nothing compared to the Emperor during the time of Peter’s letter writing. In fact, there are several leaders in the Bible who did not deserve honor, but God calls his people to show them honor anyway.

The Crazy “Emperors” of the Bible

1) Emperor Nero: Peter wrote his letter, from Rome, during the reign of crazy Emperor Nero. That’s right, this is the same Emperor Nero who had already murdered his mother and wife, lived a hedonistic lifestyle, and would eventually be blamed for torching 75% of Rome. His response to the accusations? Blame the Christians. He then killed hundreds, if not thousands of believers. His favorite method was lighting them on fire and using them as torches in the city at night.

So when Peter calls us to honor the emperor, he wasn’t referring to a benevolent leader who cared for his people. The Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal had nothing on Nero’s antics, but still, Peter called the people to honor him.

2) King Saul: The first anointed king of Israel was not good. He repeatedly broke the Lord’s commands and wanted to destroy his most faithful servant: David. In fairness to Saul, God did anoint David to take his place as King, but David never lifted a finger against Saul. The King repeatedly tried to kill David, even going to a witch and killing priests who had helped protect the future king.

David had Saul within his grasp. He could have easily killed him and put an end to the madness, and taken his place as King. But instead, David spared his life. When Saul came after David again, he found himself in a similar position, and again David spared Saul’s life. David explained his reason for this: “The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord‘s anointed.

3) King Nebuchadnezzar: Aside from having the craziest name in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar is also famous for absolutely destroying Jerusalem. He then brought hundreds of thousands of exiles back with him to Babylon, including the now famous Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. At one point he promises to kill all of his advisors because of a bad dream, and later he actually throws Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into a fiery furnace because they won’t worship his golden statue (they survive by a miracle).

Despite all this, when Daniel is asked to interpret a dream that will bring judgment upon the King, Daniel does not revel in it. He doesn’t say, “I knew you had this coming! You destroyed my home and tried to kill my friends. Now you’re going to get what you deserve.” Instead, Daniel was actually “dismayed.” Daniel begins the judgment on the King by saying, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!

Daniel demonstrates a sincere love for the King. He finishes the interpretation of the dream by saying, “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.

Daniel doesn’t want the King’s destruction, but rather his redemption.

How we can “Honor the Emperor”

The Bible is clear – we should honor our leaders. But how do we do it? How can you lift up a man or woman you completely disagree with? Again, the bible offers some good suggestions:

1) Pray for your leader: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” This one is simple – prayer makes a true difference. I often wonder how our leaders would be different if every Christian prayed for their leader everyday. Not only would it have a positive impact on our leaders, but also on our own life and the nations we live in as well.

2) Desire their redemption: I love Daniel’s example so much. There is a genuine care for the King, and Daniel doesn’t want to see harm come to the King. Instead, he hopes Nebuchadnezzar wil repent and worship the Lord. Paul had a similar approach with the leaders of the Roman empire. In Acts 26 he shares the gospel with King Agrippa, who responds, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am.” 

3) Speak well of them: David never refers to Saul as “that idiot psychopath who will ruin my life.” Instead, he calls him the “Lord’s anointed.” All rulers are established by God, and because of that, they deserve our respect. Next time you feel the need to rant about your leader, look to David’s example instead.

Conclusion:

Do you have to agree with everything a leader does? Of course not. You can even ask him to change his ways or policies (like Daniel). But we must do all things in a way that honors and respects them.

Your turn: There are, of course, other ways you can honor your leaders. What would you suggest?

The Fave Five 09.19.14

Evan Forester —  September 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

1) Favorite mini-documentary: The effect of wolves on rivers

2) Favorite technological advancement: The Ikea Book Book

3) Favorite Campaign: Giving to people who give

4) Favorite eating contest: Tiny hamster vs Kobayashi

5) Favorite Hymn: One dude sings 9 parts to “I Need Thee”

Over the last couple years, various stories have popped up about social media and the false reality it portrays. People share the highlights of their life, and nothing more. Not surprisingly, this can have a negative effect. One study actually showed that facebook makes people sadder because we begin to feel isolated and compare our “boring” lives to the exciting lives of others on social media.

There are a couple interesting responses to this phenomenon. One young woman in the Netherlands recently faked an entire 5 week trip to SouthEast Asia. She never left town, she simply redecorated her apartment a few times for skype calls, took advantage of photoshop, and posted everything to social media. She explained her actions, “I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet.”

Another viral video dramatized facebook depression rather well in June. It depicts a man going through a rough time. While looking at people’s beach photos, however; he decides to put a positive spin on everything. For instance, when he gets fired his facebook post says, “finally quit my dead-end job!”

Since people are getting sadder, some are arguing that we shouldn’t present highlight reels of our lives. For me, this is problematic for two reasons:

1) I do think we should be more honest on social media, but still, there are plenty of things I don’t want to share with the world. “Clogged the toilet again” probably doesn’t belong on my facebook wall.

2) I can’t control what other people put on social media. I can only control my response.

Instead of criticizing people who are “audacious” enough to post a picture of their trip to the beach instead of a picture of their garden that still has a few weeds, we need a better way to respond to facebook depression*. Here it is:

1) Stop comparing yourself

One of the earliest effects of the curse of sin was comparison. After comparing himself to Abel, Cain actually kills his brother because of jealousy. As was demonstrated with the articles above, this is very problematic on social media. Steven Furtick explains the problem, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Some people’s highlight reels aren’t even real! Img Source: Zilla van der Born

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on what God thinks of you. Tim Keller puts it this way, “We are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope.” Comparisons to other people cannot benefit you, but God’s love can save you, give you value, and change everything.

2) Get busy living

I should probably be more sympathetic, but I don’t understand people who sit at home on their computer all day and then become jealous about other people’s lives. Your problem is that you’re sitting at home on facebook! If you want to have a life of adventure or romance or fun, you will never find it online. You actually need to step out of your comfort zone and out your front door.

We all have dreams, some harder to achieve than others. We all have obstacles to those dreams, some greater than others. I get that – not everyone can travel the world or even run through the park. But our dreams are often more achievable than we think, and our biggest obstacles are often self doubt. 5 years ago I would have said, “it’s impossible to move to New Zealand.” And yet, here I am.

Perhaps I was lucky – our move could have been a disaster. But if I hadn’t tried, I would never know. You won’t strike gold every time, but the more you try to succeed at something great, the stronger your chance of success. So get out, and get busy living.

3) Be inspired

Instead of comparing yourself and feeling bad when you look at someone else’s photos and status updates, why not be inspired? If your friend on social media can live their dream, then you can too. So go for it!

4) Build true connections

Research indicates we are the most connected generation of all time, but also the loneliest. Why? Because we aren’t building true connections. Social media attention is short, we comment and move on without a sound. We need to hear people’s voices, we need to experience people’s touch, and we need to share the good and the bad.

When you spend actual time with people, you learn about their triumphs and their sorrows, their joys and their struggles. We NEED to share our struggles with others – it is freeing and helps us realize we’re not alone. This requires vulnerability and relationships with people in your life who care and will share in the challenges we have.

We often wait for other people to come into our lives and initiate relationships, but we shouldn’t. Start making the effort, go after people and build a true connection. Invite them over for dinner, host a game night, meet up for coffee, listen. Whatever you choose, just remember that social media can never replace authentic relationships.

5) Remember where true satisfaction comes from

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

This is ultimately at the root of our problem. God is the fountain of living waters – He is our true satisfaction. We should run and rest in Him. When we look at social media and become jealous of another person’s life, we’re actually believing their “adventures” are more satisfying than God. We think, “if I had what they had, then I’d be content.” The truth is, those things will never bring us the full life, only God can.

The world of social media is a broken cistern. Don’t let it depress you or make you sad, but run to God. Jesus came that you might have life, and have it to the full. Believe that, and be satisfied.

Conclusion

The moral of the story is this: if facebook is making you depressed, then spend less time on it. Instead, spend that time seeking the Lord, building relationships with people, and get busy living.

#LiveFully

*I’m no psychiatrist, and I’m not even a counselor. If you’re experiencing true depression (as opposed to facebook jealousy), I won’t pretend it’s an easy fix. Meet with a counselor, tell family and friends, and know you aren’t alone. There is help! 

The Fave Five 09.12.14

Evan Forester —  September 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

1) Favorite Meme: Forrest, Forrest Gump with Jesus

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2) Favorite Camping Photos: Morning Views from the Tent by Oleg Grigoryev (Click here for more)

All Rights to Oleg Grigoryev

3) Favorite Theme Song: Lyrics to Jurrasic Park

4) Favorite Rube Golderberg: The power of optics

5) Favorite Volleyball Rally:

Last night my wife, Morgan, and I watched the movie Frozen. It’s become one of the biggest films of all time, winning 2 academy awards and earning more than $1 billion dollars globally. It’s a remarkable film, and even as a 28 year old male I still enjoyed this cartoon movie about 2 princesses.

The True Myth

Frozen reminded me of a rather famous conversation between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. Two of the greatest authors of the 20th century were excellent friends, and Tolkien actually led Lewis to Christ. Both were professors at Oxford, and both were obsessed with myths. Humphrey Carter recounts their conversation in his biography of Tolkien:

“But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver.

No, said Tolkien, they are not.

…just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.

We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.

You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.” 

Our most common form of myth (or story telling) today is film. Here are a few popular examples that steer us “shakily towards the true harbour” of Christ. (Spoilers ahead).

1) Frozen

When Anna’s heart is frozen by Elsa, she can only be saved by an act of true love. Instead of receiving the expected true love’s kiss, however, she sacrifices herself to save her sister. Olaf recognizes this sacrifice as an act of true love, and Anna’s heart thaws and she is saved. Elsa’s fear had caused her to lose control of her powers, but then she realized that love is the solution to her fear.

In the same way, Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of true love by sacrificing himself to save us. Not only that, but 1 John 4:18 says this, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Sound familiar?

2) Harry Potter

Harry has received some negative press from the Christian community, but I think they’re missing a brilliant demonstration of God’s love. Harry’s mom sacrifices herself to save Harry, and her blood protects him throughout most of the series. Then, in the final chapters, Harry willingly goes to Lord Voldemort to die. He knows his death will make Voldemort vulnerable, and his act actually protects the people he dies for. After willingly dying, Harry is able to return from the dead and finish off the evil Voldemort forever.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” In the same way, Jesus willingly died to save us and to defeat Satan. His death was not the end, however, as he rose from the dead. His blood has covered us, and now we too can have eternal life.

3) Superman

The world’s most popular superhero has significant parallels to Jesus. A man, not born of Earth, comes and lives amongst us. He has unusual powers and rescues people, inspiring them to greater things. The “S” symbol on his chest means “hope,” and this is what Superman brings to the world. In the scene below, immediately after his father says, “you can save all of them,” notice the posture Superman takes (50 seconds):

This particular film is filled with parallels, and so are the comics. Likewise, Jesus is frequently referred to as our hope, he is our salvation, and (believe it or not) he is even more powerful than Superman.

4) Star Wars

The dark side of the force illustrates the effects of sin in our lives. When Anakin joins the dark side, they say he dies and Vader takes his place. We know this too well about our sin nature, as Ephesians 2:1 says, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins.” Perhaps the most moving scene in the original trilogy, however, occurs when Vader repents, turning from the Dark side of the force to save his son.

In this final scene we witness one of the greatest villains of all time find redemption. It is a clear reminder to us; no matter what our past, we can still be saved by the work of Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-5 continues, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.

5) Beauty and the Beast

Since I started with a Disney princess movie, I might as well finish with one. The last time I cried in a movie was when I saw Beauty and the Beast in theaters. The year was 1991, I was 5 years old, and this is the scene that did me in:

If this doesn’t remind you of the work that Jesus does in us, then I don’t know what will. 1 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” In this scene, the beast is transformed before our eyes, new life is breathed into his broken body, and he is made new.

It’s all true

This list could go on and on. Films like ET, Braveheart, The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Signs, The Lion King, the Shawshank Redemption, many are filled with truths that resonate with us on a deep level.

Do you ever watch these stories unfold and wish they were true? This is the brilliant thing – they are! So many of the great stories, the ones that really matter, are all made true in Jesus. He is the real “Superman,” he casts out fear with his perfect love, and he redeems us and makes us a new creation.

He is the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, he is the embodiment of that which we hold most dear.

I hope you’ll watch stories from now on and look for the “splintered fragments of the true light” that point us home. They are a reminder that we are called to something greater than the mundane. We are called to abundant life, and we find it in Jesus.

#LiveFully

Your Turn: What is your favorite story?

Fave Five 09.05.14

Evan Forester —  September 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

1) Favorite List of Puns: Awesome Puns

2) Favorite Star Wars Tribute film: Retribution (This was filmed at UGA and directed by a football player named Chris Conley – he also loves Jesus)

3) Favorite Cosby moment: Responding to Victoria Olsteen

4) Favorite Sermon: A Christian’s Happiness by Tim Keller (Listen to this – a far superior response to Olsteen then you’ll read anywhere)

5) Favorite Vlog: Do movie titles matter?

Here at #LiveFully, we love to talk about transformation, not just personally, but culturally as well. Today’s video is a quintessential example of the cultural impact that is possible when people are united by a vision to serve a community (and more broadly, an entire country).

I am so proud of the filmmaker, and our dear friend, Mary Claire Stewart (@maryclairephoto, www.maryclairephoto.com), as well as my wife Erin Burchik, who had the vision and passion to drive this video project from the beginning. Most of all, we are all so proud of our friends Berat and Valdete Gegaj, who have committed their lives to serve their country of Kosovo.

This is a short documentary film about a beautiful friendship that has formed between two cities – Lilburn, Georgia, USA, and Suhareke, Kosovo. Kosovo Hope, a non-profit organization in Kosovo, partners with Americans to host a summer camp for Kosovar students. An extensive selection process takes place during camp to chose 25 students to be a part of the Kosovo Hope Exchange Program, where they are given the opportunity to study English in American for a month while living with host families. This is the story of some of those students and the many people who are bringing hope to the next generation.

For more information or to find out how you can be a part of Kosovo Hope, email berat.gegaj@gmail.com

It’s been an interesting few weeks on social media. Newsfeeds have been flooded with content revolving around ISIS, Robin Williams, Ferguson, and of course, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many people have rejoiced at seeing such attention drawn to things like ALS, but others have had a more skeptical view.

I recently learned a new term, “slactivism.” Essentially, it means this: when you discover a problem in the world, you do nothing more than share a link or video on your social media. Slactivism is all about awareness, but rarely about actual action. For this reason, some people have criticized things like the ice bucket challenge.

Before moving forward, let me just say that I have nothing against building awareness. I work in marketing and generating awareness has actually been my number one priority for the last two years. Awareness is important, because without awareness there is no action. I definitely support posting things to social media, and I love seeing how something as silly as a bucket of ice water can unite people and change the way a nation perceives a horrible disease like ALS.

I also support discussion, especially when there is an event like what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri. Even if we don’t know all the facts, it is vital that we communicate with each other and work to understand the broken world we live in. Thabiti Anyabwile, for instance, explains how speaking out has helped challenge and clarify his position on how the Gospel should transform the situation in Ferguson.

Awareness and communication are good things, but we need to be wary of doing nothing more than talk. I majored in philosophy at the University of Georgia. I remember students would hang around Peabody hall and discuss how they would solve world hunger or politics or family structures. The only problem was, they never left the hallways of the school. They just sat there, smugly pretending they knew how to fix everything.

I’m all about awareness, but I want that awareness to lead to action. Here are 7 ways you can ensure that you don’t become a slactivist:

1) Don’t Forget

It’s amazing how quickly we forget things. You might read a story about sex slavery in Thailand that upsets you. You share the story online, and you might even pray about it. But how will you feel in 2 hours? In 2 days? Or 2 weeks? The danger of social media is the mass quantity of messages you hear, and because of this it’s hard to keep anything in focus. When you truly desire to change something, don’t let the next Miley Cyrus publicity stunt replace it in your memory. Write it down in your prayer journal, pray about it daily, and keep looking for ways to make a difference.

2) Put your money where your mouth is

Many causes require more than word-of-mouth, they require funding. Philippians 1:3-6 says this, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Most scholars believe that this “partnership” Paul refers to is a financial one. Later on, Paul refers to their donations as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”

The reality is, you can’t be everywhere and help everyone. But you can support people who are serving in places you can’t reach. Do take the time to research and consider the organizations and people you choose to give to, and remember that God will carry the work you helped start with giving unto completion.

3) Get your hands dirty in your local community

You may not be able to resolve racial tensions in Ferguson, but you can work to increase freedom in your own community. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the problems of the world – there are so many issues I cannot possibly solve them all. The reality is I’m not supposed to solve everything. I can, however, actually make a difference in my own neighborhood, and so can you. Engage with the people in your life and seek opportunities to change things.

4) Actually go to the community in need

If there is a place or situation God has truly laid on your heart, prayerfully consider actually going to that community. The older I get, the more I realize that no problem has a silver bullet solution. If you truly want to make a difference, you will need to build relationships and listen and work for an extended period of time. This is no small challenge and requires substantial commitment. Most likely God is calling you to your own community, but every so often, He calls people to another city or country.

5) Choose Carefully

Being a slactivist for some causes is perfectly fine, as long as you’re still an activist for something. Becoming an activist takes time, however, so you must choose carefully. I am horrible at this and frequently spread myself too thin. Don’t make this mistake, but instead bathe all your decisions in prayer and choose how you will make a difference with wisdom. A while back, Brian wrote a helpful guide to identifying your calling that is an excellent start.

6) Remember that prayer actually works

I sometimes feel like prayer is a cop-out, like I’m not really doing anything. But again, the Bible is clear that prayer matters and God listens. The great revivals were all preceded by outpourings of prayer, and nothing we do can compare with God’s ability. If anything, I need to pray more. I often pray for something once and then forget about it. But we must make every effort to pray with passion for God to bring healing, justice, and peace.

7) Make Disciples

Jesus made a famous command (or commission) before leaving us in Matthew 28. It wasn’t to go and post stories to social media, but rather “Go and make disciples.” There is nothing short and sweet about discipleship: it requires time and life-on-life relationships. Very few of us will ever be able to impact millions or billions of people at once, however, we can each have a deep influence on 4 or 5 people in our life. Once you have invested in others, once you have changed their lives, they can begin discipling people as well and you will begin to see multiplication.

Discipleship is the method Jesus gave us to change the world. A pastor in Atlanta, Randy Pope, oversees a congregation with more than 5,000 members. In his book, Insourcing, he actually states that if the elders came to him and said, “you must choose between pastoring the church and discipling your small group,” he would choose discipleship. Why? Because it works – it changes lives, families, and even communities.

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Img source: By Rauglothgor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fave Five is a collection of our favorite links from the week. Leave a comment if you’d like to share something we missed!

1) Favorite Squirrel: This guy:

2) Favorite Cat: Mulder the cat who could open a door

3) Favorite List: Organizations who are helping refugees in Northern Iraq

4) Favorite Battle with Reality: “I don’t want him to grow up!”

5) Favorite Movie Trailer: UP (if directed by Michael Bay, the director of Transformers)

6) Favorite Superhero: Spiderman in Atlanta (Bonus since we missed last week)