Archives For #defined

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

Hi everyone, Evan here. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over 5 years since Brian came to me with the idea to launch #LiveFully. I was honored to help and it’s been fun watching #LiveFully grow. Since then, we’ve written hundreds of blog posts and Brian has done incredible work with the #LiveFully book and course.

I’m now excited to share something new that I’ve been working on. After writing more than 150 #LiveFully blog posts, I started thinking more about a unique perspective on the gospel I could provide. Several months of planning, research, trial and error, prayer, and more have led me to today. Earlier this week I did a soft launch of a new website called Leaders Go Last, and you guys are some of the first to hear about it.

What is Leaders Go Last all about? For the full story, you can read the About page. But here is the short answer: In Matthew 20, Jesus completely changed the paradigm for good leadership. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.Great leaders put others first and themselves last. Leaders Go Last is dedicated to equipping believers to lead by serving their families, communities, and places of work.

nehemiah-book-coverAs we often said around #LiveFully, life with God isn’t just about Sundays, life with God fills all. This principle certainly applies to the way we lead, both in and out of the church.

So I hope you will visit Leaders Go Last and consider subscribing. If you do subscribe, you’ll get a free book study that I’ve spent a few months writing. It’s called Lead Like an Exile: 15 Leadership Principles from the Book of Nehemiah. Each Principle includes a story from the book of Nehemiah and applies a timeless leadership principle to our modern lives. Nehemiah wasn’t a prophet, priest, or king. He was a great leader with a vision, and he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem when no one thought it was possible. I’ve learned so much about leadership while writing this book, and if you read it, I’m sure you will become a better leader as well.

Once again, thanks for your support of #LiveFully over the years. I hope you will continue to support the #LiveFully movement! And of course, I hope you consider joining Leaders Go Last. I’d love to stay in touch.

God bless,
Evan

Happy New Year!

For the last 75 years, a group of researchers at Harvard have studied a group of men to determine the secret to having a good life. A book was published to share the results of the study, but since most of you would rather watch a video than read an entire book, you can watch a Ted Talk summary below:

And, since some of you won’t want to watch a 12 minute video, I’ve also highlighted the key points:

Robert Waldinger, the 4th director of this study, summed of the results by saying this, “The clearest message that we get from this 75 year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

In other words, happiness wasn’t about being wealthy. Happiness wasn’t about being famous. Happiness didn’t come from working 70 hours per week. It wasn’t even about pancakes or queso dip!

But still, this couldn't hurt my happiness, right?

But still, this couldn’t hurt my happiness, right?

Instead, happiness (and greater health) actually came from good relationships. Waldinger went on to identify three specific benefits that support their main message:

  1. “Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills.”
  2. “It’s not the number of friends you have, but the quality of those close relationships matter.”
  3. “Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.”

Good relationships actually improved people’s happiness, health, and brain power. Loneliness decreased those things.

But this isn’t about how many friends you have on Facebook. In fact, it has been said that even though we are the most connected generation, we are also the loneliest.

As many of you know, it can feel very lonely in a crowd. I remember going to summer camp as a kid one time, only to find my friends had to cancel. I knew no one, and despite being surrounded by hundreds of kids my age (who were all having a great time), I felt very lonely. If we’re disconnected from real-life relationships, then watching everyone have fun on social media can feel very similar to a permanent week of my summer camp.

The results of this study shouldn’t surprise us. Scripture has pointed us to the importance of relationships for thousands of years. Romans 13:9 says, “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

This list could go on, but God consistently calls us to love others, because without love, we really have nothing.

There are a few applications I’d suggest in light of this study:

  1. Focus on real-life relationships: I’m a fan of social media, but I know it can’t hold a candle to actually interacting with people in real life (or even on the phone). It may be easier to aimlessly scroll through a news feed, but if you want to live a happy life, then you must pursue real relationships. I’d take 5 strong, encouraging relationships over 500 facebook connections any day.
  2. Keep relationships fresh: Waldinger actually suggests this in the Ted video; doing new and/or exciting things with loved ones will improve your relationship with them. Go on date nights, play sports, join a book club, worship together, and do whatever it is you can imagine to keep relationships growing.
  3. Focus less on riches and fame: Many Americans are obsessed with these goals. We kill ourselves to get ahead, but this often hurts the most important relationships in our lives. Ted Turner, one of the most famous and successful people in the last 100 years, had this to say about the success he had. “I have been to the end of the rainbow, and there is no pot of gold.” In other words, success without relationships will leave you feeling hollow.
  4. Prioritize the ultimate relationship in life: If relationships with people can increase your happiness, healthiness, and brain power, then imagine what a relationship with God can do. Not only that, when we love Him first, we will find our ability to love others will only increase. As 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

#LiveFully

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.

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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

I’ve never really bought into the fear of old age that’s rampant in our culture today. I don’t exactly love the idea of a slower metabolism or bad knees, but I figured it is balanced with an increase in knowledge and wisdom.

If in20years.com is to be believed, I won't go grey! But my face will become increasingly greasy and leathery.

If in20years.com is to be believed, I won’t go grey! But my face will become increasingly greasy and leathery.

But here’s the problem, that increase in knowledge and wisdom is not what I expected. There is this strange dichotomy, and I’m not sure how to handle it. For every one thing I learn, I seem to encounter one hundred new things that I don’t understand!

In a single day, even in a single minute, I can feel both a growing sense of confidence in my newfound abilities and an overwhelming despair at my lack of abilities. This happens to me in all spheres of life: knowledge of God, relationships, business, politics, hobbies, marriage, and the list goes on.

I remember a mentor of mine, Drew, once showed me a pinecone. He said, “you’re a smart guy, you understand things well. But you need to realize something, your understanding is limited to this pinecone. Someday you’ll realize that this pinecone is actually part of a tree, and that tree is part of a forest, and that forest is part of this whole earth.”

I’m just now starting to see what he meant, and it’s a little terrifying. The world used to have simple problems and simple solutions, but now they seem more complex than ever. There are billions of people on Earth, each with a heart that is more complex than I can imagine. As Jeremiah puts it, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

I’m 29 years old right now, to some that’s young and to others that is old, but supposing good health I’m about a third of the way through life (give or take a few years). If, at 29, I’ve grown this much aware of how small I am in this huge world, where will I stand when I’m 40? 64? 78?

Perhaps I’m getting too philosophical right now (it happens sometimes). But here are two thoughts that have given me comfort this morning:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

and

Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Perhaps growing older isn’t such a bad thing. If an increase in knowledge means I will grow to understand my weakness more, then it will only drive me to God more, For His power is made perfect in my weakness.

There is a multitude of verses that discuss the vastness of God’s knowledge, grace, and mercy. As a kid, I used to think we might get bored in Heaven. But now that I am increasingly aware of the vastness of this universe, and the exponentially larger vastness of the God who made it all, I’m quite looking forward to eternity. God simply has so much to offer that we will never come close to boredom.

Your turn: Does anyone else ever experience this collision with their inadequacies?

My wife Morgan told me about a quote she once read as a teenager. Her dad made her read it when she lost the plot* because of a door ding on her car. She didn’t appreciate it at the time, but has since grown to really appreciate its truth:

The longer I love, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” – Charles R. Swindoll

There isn’t much to add to that really, I think the idea speaks for itself. I would, however, like to add this one little nugget.

I’ve always been amazed at the attitude of the apostles throughout the books of Acts. Acts 5:40-41 is where their impressive attitudes are first described: “they beat [the apostles] and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

I always read this and thought, “who does that?! Who rejoices when they get beaten?!” The apostles showed an attitude that is far beyond my abilities in such a situation.

And perhaps that is the key. In order to have an attitude that rejoices, even in times of challenge and darkness, we need God’s strength. I don’t have the ability, but God does. When I seek Him out, He changes my heart. And it is from this heart that our attitudes reach the surface.

We live in a broken world, but it still carries the echoes of Eden. You will experience disappointment, heartache, pain, and sorrow. You will also experience joy, success, friendship. As humans, our tendency is to look inward when both bad or good things happen. “How could this terrible thing happen to me?” or “It is so awesome that I am successful.”

Instead, in both the good times and the bad, we should turn our hearts to worship God. He is the Author of life, and developing an attitude of worship for Him will ensure we experience the most fulfilling life possible.

*Lost the Plot is a commonly used phrase in New Zealand that means “To cease to behave in a consistent and/or rational manner.”

I’ve had conversations with many non-believers that go something like this: “I just can’t believe in an all-powerful God with all the bad stuff happening in the world. Disease, murder, hunger; if He is real then why does God allow suffering?”

I would imagine that everyone has asked themselves this question at some point in their lives. Despite feeling incredibly inadequate to answer this question, I am going to attempt to do so in the best way I can. It’s not a simple answer, in fact, I think it requires several answers. The five answers below do not necessarily stand alone, but I believe they can work together to give us peace and understanding about the suffering in this world.

The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh - a site of tremendous pain and suffering

The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh – a site of tremendous pain and suffering

1) God created a world without suffering

Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

God is powerful enough to create a perfect world without pain and suffering. But He also desired for His people to love Him, and love is a choice. If mankind had no choice to love or reject God, then we could not truly love Him. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose to reject God’s love and His way.

As a direct result of our rejection of God’s good ways, we inherited all the bad things. Some of these are a direct result of people’s actions: stealing, murder, and so on. But Genesis says the very ground is cursed because of our sin. Natural disasters, diseases, and death were not part of the original