Archives For #defined

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”

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

Jeremiah 2:13 is a rather fascinating Bible verse. It boils down all the sins of Israel into two evils: “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.

I believe we can say the same thing today. All of our sin – our lying, cheating, stealing, pride, lust, sexual immorality, greed, hate, selfishness, and so on are the result of forsaking God and pursuing other means of satisfaction.

This creates a bit of a paradigm shift for me. It means my sin has the same two roots as a murderer, adulterer, and addict. We have each forsaken God, and we’ve each turned to different cisterns to find satisfaction. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority of sin (maybe even all of it) occurs because the sinner is seeking satisfaction or happiness.

Living Water verses Empty Cisterns

The great tragedy, of course, is that no sin can satisfy us. The imagery is striking in Jeremiah 2:13. Living in New Zealand has reminded me of how beautiful living waters can really be. We are spoiled here with clear, blue rivers that rush across the entire country. A cistern is meant to catch and hold rain water. They are necessary in many parts of the world, but fresh living water is always preferred to water that has sat stagnant in a holding cell.

God promises us living water!

And yet, God’s people have rejected clear and fresh running water. Living water is available in abundance, but instead they poorly build their own cisterns, hoping to find refreshment by their own devices. And while they may find something to drink, the dirty and diseased water never satisfies. It leaves them feeling empty, sick, and thirstier than ever before.

When you really open up Jeremiah’s metaphor, it seems insane. Why would anyone forsake abundant, clear, and clean water for dirty water that runs out far too quickly? And yet, all of us do it.

Some cisterns I like to build:

Until recently, I thought cisterns were limited to outright sins. God has begun to show me, however, that I run to more than I realized. Here are three examples:

1) Approval of man: I am a people pleaser. I had anxiety issues in high school because of it. My desire to please people still remains strong today – I seek satisfaction in the knowledge that I have impressed people (in fact, I’m probably hoping to impress you with this blog post right now – pray for me!)

2) Self-Righteousness: I want to appear godly. I don’t always desire godliness when I’m on my own, but I want to hear other people talk about how godly I am. Why? Because I seek satisfaction in my own self-righteousness. This is wrong, and frankly has caused me to treat people rather poorly because I thought I was “better” than them. Being godly is a great thing to desire, appearing godly is an empty cistern.

3) Dollar bills: I’d like you to think I don’t believe money satisfies. And really I don’t care about the bills and coins and numbers on my eBank statement. I just want the lifestyle that comes with lots of money – I want to eat out whenever I want and travel wherever I want and not feel bad about it. I just think I deserve a rich man’s lifestyle sometimes. This can sometimes have rather negative effects for me.

Full disclosure: This is embarrassing, but I once spent $130 on a year’s supply of body lotion. It was a luxury item, and I was tired of always saving money and saying no to nice things. So I decided I deserved to have a nice thing or two around. I know my sin nature drove this decision. Why? Because I don’t even use body lotion. I just don’t like the stuff. But for some reason, as I stood there in the mall I decided I deserved the luxury lifestyle and so I handed someone my debit card. I regretted it greatly after two hours, and despite having well moisturized hands for two weeks (before I gave up) it certainly has not satisfied me yet.

The need to demonstrate compassion

All of my thinking has lead me to two conclusions:

1) I need to pursue satisfaction in God alone. It’s not enough to reject cisterns. Rejecting old cisterns along will lead us into new ones, and there is no limit to cisterns we can create. If we hope to move away from our idols, we must turn to the only one who can satisfy us and provide living water.

2) I need to demonstrate more compassion to others: It’s so easy to compare myself to others. “I may need the approval of man, but at least I haven’t cheated on my wife!” I’m not hear to argue that some sins are less heinous than others, but they do have the same root cause. An adulterer commits adultery because he (or she) believes it will make him (or her) happier. In the same way a thief steals for thrill, a murderer vies for power, and a teenager first looks at pornography.

All of us are desperate to find happiness. We want satisfaction and we all look into our own cisterns. Instead of looking down at others who simply want happiness, I challenge you to be like Christ and enter into their world. Don’t join in their sin, and don’t give them excuses to continue in it either. Instead point them to the source of true happiness and fulfillment: God.

Once you’ve tasted living water you know that nothing can be better.

So share the good news: that Jesus offers the life they desire. He is the good shepherd, and he has come that we may have life to the full.

Your turn: What are some empty cisterns in your life?

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.

Entitlement or Mercy?

Evan Forester —  October 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

I’ve been convicted of something lately. I don’t like sharing my faults publicly, but one of the most brilliant freedom’s we have in Christ is that we can be open about our sin and know that God has already forgiven us.

I suffer from a disease I like to call “divine entitlement.” In other words, I think God owes me good stuff because I’m such a good guy.

Castle Howard

Divine entitlement: I’ve earned a house like this! Now where is it?

I can make it work logically in my mind: I do good deeds, and therefore God should give me nice gifts. Sure, I might forget that God and I have different standards of good deeds and nice gifts. But then I read something like Mark 10:35-52 and it blows my logic out of the water. Continue Reading…

1) Favorite Quick Vid on the Bible: The smart and funny author Eric Metaxas speaks on the authority of the Bible.

2) Favorite concept for books: No more half-read books…maybe.

3) Favorite Laundry love: Generosity at the laundromat and powerful result.

4) Favorite Smoothie maker: if you’re familiar with comedians Tripp and Tyler, you know this isn’t a new video, but such a classic.

5) Favorite Daddy-daughter duet: love this Dad singing with his girl.

This was the first year of officially declaring October 10th as #LiveFully day. And it was also the first time we’ve ever tried to use Instagram as a means for people to “submit” videos for a contest.

In many ways it was an experiment, and I’m real encouraged by the participation and videos that were shared to celebrate the full life of Jesus.

Before announcing the winner, I wanted to share a few of my personal favorites:

            Best Rap             Most Creative             Best Action             Cutest         Best Ending 

Although there were some really great videos, at the end of the day, a winner has to be chosen for the huge prize money. (Well, maybe not huge, but something.)

So, in this inaugural #LiveFully celebration, the winner of the Instagram video contest is…

Karen Reynolds from Lilburn, Georgia! (Instagram: wrenreynolds)

Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 1.45.47 PM

Here’s why we chose Karen’s video as the winner:

1. It captures her everyday passion of teaching fitness training to others

2. Her caption shed beautiful light on her own personal journey of living fully

Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 1.48.22 PM

3. She dives into the pool in her clothes (c’mon that’s just fun!)

4. And lastly, this was actually her first post ever on Instagram. Not a bad way to start.

Congratulations Karen! And thanks to everybody that participated. I can’t wait to build off this for next year’s 10-10 celebration.

 

 

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This Thursday, October 10th, is the first official #LiveFully day.

Why?

Well, the logic is pretty simple. The Bible verse that inspires #LiveFully comes from the words of Jesus in John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

So it made sense that the date 10-10 would be a great one to celebrate the full, abundant life that Jesus offers and gives to his followers.

Although we have big dreams for what this annual celebration could become, this year we are starting very simple. It begins with the question,

“What does living fully look like for you?”

We want to know what the answer to that question is.

But here’s the thing. We want to see it in 15 seconds. Yep, that’s it.

To celebrate #LiveFully day, we are holding an Instagram Video Contest. We want you, your family and friends to capture what living fully looks like through 15 second videos on Instagram.

What should the video be like?

Given that brief amount of time, these videos will obviously be short and sweet. We aren’t expecting Oscar-level quality. We just want to see you living fully. This could mean doing what you love, laughing, eating, or adventuring (that’s not a word but you know what I mean).

These videos are meant to be fun, and the more creative the better! Although I consider this more of a celebration than a contest, we will be selecting our favorite video and the winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift card.

So how do you “submit” your video?

Oh that’s simple. Just capture it on Instagram and put it up with the hashtag “#LiveFully

My wife Erin already submitted one last night as an example. (she’s known as @eburchik and pretty amazing so feel free to check it out).

Submit as many Instavids as you’d like, just make sure you get them in by this Thursday and that they have the #LiveFully hashtag so we can find them. We will select the winner and announce it this Friday, October 11th.

Have fun with this, and don’t let fear keep you from submitting a video. Anyone can do it! (assuming they have Instagram of course. If not, well, I guess they can’t.)

PS – What I’m most excited about is that after all videos are in, we are going to bring them together for one huge #LiveFully montage video. Combining all (or as many as we can) of your unique expressions of living fully into one video is going to be awesome, and we will share that with all of you.

PSS – This is the last week we are offering a great promotion if you buy the new #LiveFully book by Brian Burchik. Go here to learn about the bonuses ($40 worth of FREE stuff) and get the book.