Archives For Brian Burchik

In many ways, the entire #LiveFully effort has been an experiment. It began in December of 2011, when I (Brian Burchik) sensed that God was calling me to start a blog and begin writing a book, both with the name #LiveFully (and yes, for some reason, I saw the hashtag in there).

All of 2012 and much of 2013 was consumed with writing, and it was extremely helpful to test content on the blog and tweak the book accordingly. Along with the brilliant Evan Forester, we wrote consistently on the blog for these years, and your support and encouragement was amazing.

The #LiveFully book launched in the fall of 2013, and the response was good. However, after a month or two, I had a nagging conviction that the book was meant to be processed differently than the way you typically read a book alone.

In December of 2013, it became clear that the #LiveFully book would serve as a textbook for a wider school curriculum. In a rare moment, God provided exactly what I wanted in the exact timing I hoped for, and I was given the opportunity to pilot the course with students in January 2014.

This began the curriculum project that would consume the entire year. It was an intense and exciting year, and by the start of 2015, the #LiveFully Bible curriculum was complete and ready to be sold.

Around this time, ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) became increasingly interested in the #LiveFully curriculum. In perfect timing, this global network of schools decided to become a reseller of the course for the upcoming school year.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 1.46.29 PM

This summer represented the first major “selling season” for the course, and we have been really encouraged at how schools have responded so far. As of today, here are the numbers of schools and students that are engaged with the #LiveFully curriculum.

-31 schools nationwide

-42 classrooms

-800 students

And we are so excited to announce that we are partnering with ACSI for the inaugural #LiveFully Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this March. With several hundred high school students and their advisors, we will gather to experience Christ in a fresh way while gaining a powerful yet realistic vision for how to join God’s redemptive work in the world.

I am incredibly grateful for your support as this #LiveFully experiment has unfolded. Currently, the blog has taken somewhat of a back seat to our work with the curriculum and schools, although Evan has offered some great posts like this recently.

We are taking some time to re-evaluate the blog & the best way to share this message of abundant life moving forward.

As we move into the future, I am increasingly convinced that Jesus is offering fullness of life for anyone who wants it. He is the source of the most abundant living on the planet, and we will share this message in as many different ways as he opens for us in the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about the course and know a school that could use it in their spring curriculum, you can visit the Scholar site or contact us here.

Thanks for who you are and your support!

Brian Burchik

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

God has given all of us unique skills and talents, and part of living fully is offering those gifts to be a blessing in the world.

Today we’re excited to celebrate one of our #LiveFully friends for his work as a filmmaker. Kyle Sklenar recently won the Best Picture award at the Campus Movie Festival at Georgia State University. Kyle’s film, “The Love Note,” beat out 250 other films, which is an incredible feat, especially since he is only a freshman in college.

We wanted our readers to hear from Kyle about this creative effort and how his faith inspires him along the way as an artist. Enjoy the interview, and if you haven’t seen the video yet, watch it first (spoiler alert).

1796646_10202677473171691_1226309763_n

-How did you come up with the idea for the story told in your film?

It was over Christmas break. I saw an engagement video where the future groom spoke a few words to his fiance. His words captured me, and I knew I wanted to use this concept in a film. However, I also knew there needed to be a hook. There needed to be something gripping. At one point while writing, September 11 dawned upon me. I struggled with using it, because I did not want it to seem like a ploy to get super emotional. I finally decided to use it, because it’s such an important part of our history.

-What was the biggest barrier you faced in creating your film?

I hit so many barriers. Looking back at it, most of them were self-induced. The festival crept up on me, so I had to do a lot of the planning only a week before the shooting day. It’d be a lie if I said it was just a coincidence that everything worked out so perfectly. The Lord provided actors (and incredible ones at that!) as well as locations (I had two different apartments in the same complex, and both groups of people were gone that weekend), and every time I asked people on Facebook about getting props, I got so many responses.

-As the film festival approached, how confident did you feel about your short film? Did you expect to win?

Once the project was finished I watched it a few times, and thought it was absolutely terrible. I thought stuff was messed up with the audio, and shots didn’t look good. I thought it was so bad, I didn’t show it to anyone. A month later at the awards night, I had very low expectations.

When The Love Note started to play, the reaction was priceless. Everyone gasped when they should, and cheered when I hoped they would. It was perfect! Then came the awards. I thought that I may have a chance for best drama, and I did. The film was nominated along with 2 others for best drama. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.

I thought that was my only chance, so my heart finally stopped racing, and I just sat back to enjoy the rest of the evening. I was slightly bummed I didn’t win anything. But then, there came the final prize. This was the big one. The mother load – BEST PICTURE. I was just sitting there, not anticipating anything because I assumed that you couldn’t be nominated for two things. And boom. I won. Just like that. It was one of the most fantastic experiences ever.

-How did you experience God in the creation of “The Love Note”?

The Lord used this win to affirm in me the things that He has put in me. For a long time, I’ve doubted my ability to make narrative films. This festival showed me that random film industry representatives saw my film, and thought it was the best of 250 others. That means that the Lord was right about my ability to make good narrative films.

-Why is it not necessary to entertain with the dirty humor or blatantly sexual content to still make a good movie?

I would say a major part of seeking God’s Kingdom in my filmmaking would be to create morally upright content. I don’t think sex or extreme language are ever necessary for a good film. Stories can be told without the F-word showing up every minute. Overly sexual content is a cheap way to get people to come see the film. This might seem strange, but I actually think people are starting to become tired of everything being infused with sex or sex-related ploys. I hope to push it back over the edge to a side of higher morals and purity. I strive to turn heads by the quality of my films, not using sex as a cheap tactic.

We are so proud of Kyle and the way that he is continuing to grow in his craft as a filmmaker. This June, “The Love Note” will compete at the national film festival in Hollywood. To learn more about Kyle’s trip and how to support just click here.

Here’s how you can stay connected to Kyle:

Website: kylesklenar.com

Twitter: @kylesklenar

Instagram: @kylesklenar

The world watched last night as the Seattle Seahawks dominated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. With a near perfect defensive performance and a rock solid offensive effort, the Seahawks were in control from start to finish.

On the heels of such glorious achievement in sports, many would say Seahawk stars like quarterback Russell Wilson have arrived at the pinnacle of their lives. And yet, as this short video reveals, Wilson and several Seahawk players are convinced that there’s something far more fulfilling than a Super Bowl victory or any other human feat.

Whether you’re a huge sports fan or not, this brief video is definitely worth the watch. #LiveFully

If you’re interested in seeing the interview in its entirety, just click here.

Can We Help?

Brian Burchik —  January 9, 2014 — 1 Comment
This is a guest post from Erin Burchik. Erin directs local and international outreach for Grace-Snellville Church outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She's also Brian's wife (which is a whole different challenge).

Chipotle Salad :)For New Year’s Day lunch, I wanted to do something really delicious. So, naturally, when I thought of delicious I thought of Chipotle. And then I thought about their burrito bowls. And then I started cooking.

As I was getting started on the food our 5-year-old Amyra and her little friend asked, “Can we help?”

I looked at the rice simmering and the chicken cooking and realized being eye level with a gas stove would not be the most beneficial way for them to help. So I told the two little ones that I would get everything ready and then they could assemble everyone’s burrito bowl.

So I prepared the different components, lined them up, showed them what to do and then let them loose. It was precious the way they debated over how to arrange the rice, beans, avocado, chicken, and cheese. They saw the bowls as their canvas and they were making a work of art.

As we sat down to eat, the girls watched our faces as Brian and I enjoyed their masterpieces. While I took so much delight in setting these two little ones up for success, guiding them along the way, and encouraging them as we ate – something dawned on me. They loved helping and being included. They loved coming alongside me to do something as simple as making lunch.

Granted, I am the one who went to the store, stood over the hot stove, and then showed them how to make the burrito bowls. But I found a way for them to be involved and it brought them and me so much joy.

I want to go into 2014 with this perspective in how I relate to God in the things I do. I want to recognize that he is the one who does the hard stuff that I can’t do: provides, supernaturally brings things together, opens doors, closes doors, creates, and guides things. But I just want to help. I want to help bring things together in the way he leads me and to just be a small part of the finishing touches. He is already at work but I want to come alongside him in what he is doing.

But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:17)

At #LiveFully, we talk a lot about wanting to be a part of God transforming every area of our lives so that as followers of Jesus we can impact every area of culture. In order to do this, we must recognize that God is working and then ask him the simple question, “Can we help?”

He is the one who can bring about another renaissance in the arts, reformation in education, impact in governments, and a spiritual rebirth in the lives of people. And yet he invites us into the process. He  provides and we get to bring a few pieces together. He does opens doors and invites us to walk through them. He is at work and we get to come alongside him. And in doing so we get to experience the most full life imaginable. Not to mention, it brings the heart of God so much joy.

So as 2014 begins, let’s keep this in mind:

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127)

As God builds things in your community, your school, your workplace, your family, may you come alongside him and see how you can help. #LiveFully

buchinger_fence_5x7In the last few months, one thing has become painfully clear: I’m addicted to what’s next.

The next big break professionally, the next house to buy, the next city to live in, the next group of people to get to know. Or in more shallow ways, the next “like” on Facebook, the next email, or the next retweet on Twitter.

This addiction to what’s next is apparent in my marriage. Erin and I have noticed that the majority of our conversations are focused on the future, as we constantly discuss what opportunities may be just around the corner.

But recently we’ve been asking, “Is this the best way to live?” And perhaps the harder question: “Deep down, are we perpetually discontent?”

Continue Reading…

Remembering C.S. Lewis

Brian Burchik —  November 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

Exactly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. On that very same day, one of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of the twentieth century, Clive Staples Lewis, also passed away.

It’s hard to communicate just how profound of an impact C.S. Lewis made in the western world, and surely his work continues to challenge and shape how people understand Christianity today. From his fiction writing like The Chronicles of Narnia, to his masterful non-fiction works including Mere Christianity, Lewis’ books have sold millions of copies and been translated in over 30 languages.

Here fifty years after Lewis’ death, let’s take some time  to remember his life and impact. This brief documentary from Asbury University does a great job honoring this man. Praise Jesus for the way he transformed Lewis’ life, and used him to creatively share the good news of Jesus with so many. #LiveFully

This is a guest post from Erin Burchik. Erin directs local and international outreach for Grace-Snellville Church outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She's also Brian's wife (which is a whole different challenge).

universal thank you noteIn a moment of potential chaos, Jesus had two options.

There were over 5,000 people gathered, hungry, and looking to him for food. He could have chosen to look at them and figure out how to throw a colossal meal together. He could have focused on what the next step was to get food, what would make the most sense in light of the huge need in front of him.

One of his disciples brought him the lunch of a little boy. In that moment, Jesus did something radical. Something that did not make sense. He chose to thank God for the little he held in his hands. In doing that, something miraculous happened. What Jesus gave thanks for began to multiply.

In choosing to focus on the (small) gift in his hands, thousands of people were exposed to God’s loving heart for them. They saw that God cared about them. They saw that giving thanks to God, even for small gifts, created miraculous, awe-inspiring provision.

This Thanksgiving season, rather than focusing on the stressful aspects of our lives or looking towards the next season too early, let’s live fully in this season. Let’s practice radical thanksgiving – even for small things. And I think God will help us see the awe-inspiring moments all around us – even miracles. Here’s 7 practical ways to cultivate this gratitude.

7 Ways to #LiveFully in this Thanksgiving Season:

1. Start counting those gifts! Ann Voskamp (the “Mother of Thankfulness” and the person I’ve learned so much about thankfulness from) says to count those gifts – all the way up to 1000. Did you know that practicing gratitude can increase happiness by 25%? So get those journals out and start at #1.

2. Try to write three meaningful thank you notes (or emails) from now until Thanksgiving. Let people know what they’ve meant to you! Here are 7 free printable thank you cards for you to use – no excuses!

3. Read Psalm 100 and 111 and take time to thank God for all he’s done in your life. Here is a beautiful FREE print of Psalm 100. Print it out and put it somewhere in your home or give it someone who needs this reminder this season.

4. Think you have nothing to be thankful for? Watch this clip starting at 2:10. It’s inspiring (even though its a little fuzzy). A man with no arms and no legs who knows how to #LiveFully! POWERFUL! Be thankful for everything in your life.

5. This is what we’re doing at our house this Thanksgiving season. You or your kids cut these printable leaves out, attach them to some branches, and voila! A thanksgiving tree! We’re doing one a day here, writing someone or something we’re thankful for on the back, and watching gratitude being cultivated in our daughter.

6. After your done reading this, close your eyes and ask yourself, “Who is the one person I need to say thanks to?” Your mom for putting up with you as a rebellious teenager? Your grandpa who sacrificed for your family? A friend you haven’t seen in a while? Don’t think – just call them! Say the thank you you’ve been meaning to say but can’t seem to get around to.

7. This holiday season when you feel stress or chaos starting to creep in – STOP! Like Jesus, take a moment and thank God. Then watch as the chaos and stress come into perspective and a miracle happens – your heart changes!

–What are you grateful for this year? How has gratitude and thanksgiving changed your perspective? 

Share what you’re grateful for in the comments below. We’d love to celebrate along with you.

A Troubling Statistic

Brian Burchik —  October 31, 2013 — 3 Comments

268/365 - Default StateI recently came across an article reflecting research from the Barna group. It’s focused on the faith of millenials, and specifically what keeps millenial Christians connected to the church.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “millenial,” it refers to young adults between the ages of 18-30. (ages can slightly vary depending on who you ask.)

The entire article is worth the read, but there was one statistic that I could not get over.

According to the Barna group research…

Only 16% of young Millenials in church know how their career/work is informed by the Bible and Christianity. 

This is troubling to say the least. The gap between people’s understanding of the Bible and how it informs their own sense of purpose on the earth is huge. And I believe it’s a major reason so many, especially young adults, are ultimately walking away from the church.

The article indicates that one way “churches can deepen their connection with Millenials is to teach a more potent theology of vocation, or calling.”  At a time when such a low percentage of young adults see how their faith integrates into their jobs and careers, the importance of this quite obvious. We must demonstrate how various careers and jobs connect with following Jesus (not just the obvious ones, like pastors and worship leaders).

The good news is that the Bible casts the greatest vision for personal calling. There is no other world religion or religious narrative that validates a person’s work and purpose more than Christianity. And yet so often we miss it.

A central message of the Bible is that every single one of us is created by God, made in His image, called to represent Him in all we say and do (Col 3:17). And more specifically, the Bible teaches that we are each created for specific good works, mysteriously planned by God in advance (Eph. 2:10).

We believe “living fully” means following Jesus in a way that transforms every area of personal life and impacts every channel of cultural life. Specifically, we believe that God’s people are called to be salt and light in every channel of culture: family, education, business, government, media, arts & entertainment, and religion.

So here’s the question: How do we help Christians, particularly young adults, understand how their faith in Jesus integrates into their work? And how can we equip them to impact the various channels of culture in the name of Jesus?

I’d love to hear how you or other people/organizations are helping equip the next generation to step into their God-given calling. Leave your examples in the comments below.

If you’re interested in further exploring these ideas, check out Brian’s new book #LiveFully: Re-imagining the Greatest Calling on Earth.

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 11.17.40 PMAs I was pulling into my driveway yesterday after a long day of work, the radio station I was listening to began to feature a brief interview with Katy Perry. She was talking about her favorite song on her new album “Prism”.

The song is entitled “Unconditionally,” and she shared that it speaks of a love that’s greater than just the “romantic” kind most often depicted in pop songs.

I must say, her small bit got me curious to hear it, so rather than turning the car off to go inside, I decided to just sit and listen. And I’m glad that I did. Like mentioned in the interview, her newest song does describe a love that transcends the emotional infatuation, or worse, the objectifying lust, of most pop hits.

In fact, I would go as far to say that Perry’s newest song is a powerful depiction of the very heart of God as revealed in the Bible and through the life of Jesus. As I listened, I could not help but hear the direct parallels between Perry’s lyrics and the message of the gospel. It made me immediately think of Jesus’ well-known parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament. (Luke 15:11-32)

So come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are all worthy
I’ll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you
I love you

I’m not saying that it was Perry’s intention to create a song that communicates God’s gracious heart. I don’t know what ultimately compelled the lyrics. But regardless of the artist’s intentions, there’s no denying the powerful description of unconditional love. The Bible states,”There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (1 John 4:18) Perry’s song echoes the same notion..

I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

The Bible makes it plain that there’s nothing anyone can do to earn God’s love – that would make it conditional to our own efforts or personal piety. God’s love is unconditional, displayed most clearly through the mission of Jesus.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.      (1 Jn 4:10)

We love because he first loved us. (1 Jn 4:19)

It begins and ends with learning how to receive and accept God’s unconditional love. Only then can we begin loving others in a similar way. We can choose to close ourselves off from this love, or, like the prodigal son, we can return home and experience the unconditional love of God – the grace that every human soul longs for.

Appropriately, Perry’s song ends with a call to the openness required to receive this kind of love.

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart
Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free

-In what other mainstream art or entertainment have you seen glimpses of God’s heart for humanity? Would love to hear about it in the comments below.