Making Faith Practical eBook Now Available!

Beatitudes v3 I have released a new eBook about making faith practical!

You can purchase and download it on Amazon.

In it, I take what Jesus says in Matthew 5:3-10, commonly called The Beatitudes, and explore ways we can incorporate these truths into our daily lives.

I mean, who really prays to be poor or persecuted? So how do we incorporate these ideas into our lives to receive the blessing which Jesus promises will accompany them?

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful in your everyday journey of following Jesus!

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,

   for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn,

   for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble,

   for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,

   for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful,

   for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure,

   for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace,

   for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3-10)

Why Isn't My Life Easier When I Follow Jesus?

Labor_8Why isn't life easier? I follow Jesus. I try to be kind to others, I read my bible regularly, I give to my church and charity, yet I often feel like life is a boxing match where I'm in the 12th round against a heavy weight.

Doesn't God...I don't know...kind of...owe me? At least a little?

I mean listen, I know Jesus went to the cross for me and I can never pay him back for that. I get that and I'm so grateful. But shouldn't I get to avoid some of the issues other people deal with because I'm on board with what God asks me to do?

Have you ever thought something like this?  Even if I say that God doesn't owe me one, I often act like it when something less than perfect happens in my life.

I know that Jesus said in this world we will have troubles, but shouldn't that just be stuff like, occasionally somebody tells me I'm dumb for believing in Jesus? Something manageable, something that doesn't really hurt.

I've been a pastor at a mid-sized church for the last 3 years and we've had tons of people dealing with illness and financial problems and addictions and everything else you can name. We've lost several people to cancer in my time. I've had to do a funeral for a 2 day old baby.

That's just the difficulties I hear about. I also have challenges in my own life that just make life hard. My wife and I are still dealing with the financial fallout from the failure of a business we believe God told us to buy several years ago. Having a child with special needs is a never ending battle in numerous ways.

My wife and I occasionally talk about whether we'll ever get to a point where life isn't just so dang hard.

Shouldn't we get off better than the rest of society because we're working to be obedient to Jesus? Shouldn't the abundant life Jesus talks about in John 10:10 be a little more cushy?

I've prayed about this as I really explored the depth of my self centeredness (it was ugly) and I feel like there's 2 reasons why this completely selfish disposition of mine is off base:

First, God is looking for faith.

Listen, if everybody who decided to follow Jesus got a Cadillac, lost 30 pounds and found their dream job, who wouldn't follow Jesus? And how would it be possible for anyone to be a genuine disciple of the man who told us to pick up our cross and follow him?

I don't know about you, but when everything is going well, I actually have the hardest time getting closer to Jesus.

I feel like he occasionally allows my life you involve some chaos so help me remain engaged in discipleship - the process of getting closer to him.

The abundant life Jesus is referring to involves so much more than money and possessions. It's about a life of more meaning. It may not always show up on a bank statement.

Are we willing to trust God to bless us, even when it's not in the manner we would request?

Or, are we only in this thing for what we can get out of it? The scriptures repeatedly affirm that we are called to patiently have faith in the face of doubt or unfulfillment. (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, Matthew 25:1-13)

Will we trust that God will fulfill his promises to us when all the evidence we see points to the contrary? The word for that is 'faith'.

Second, there is an enemy at work

In Matthew 13:24-30, there's a story called 'The Parable of the Tares'. You can read the whole thing for yourself, but the summary is that Jesus tells of a farmer (representing God) that plants his fields with good seed.

In the night, an enemy plants weeds among the crops.

By the time the farm workers figured it out, they couldn't do anything about it. Pulling up the weeds would damage the crops, so the farmer tells them to let the weeds grow. At harvest time, they will separate the weeds from the crops.

In Strength To Love, Martin Luther King Jr. breaks down this story.

King notes that Jesus never disputes the reality of evil. He does not say that the weeds were an illusion or a state of mind. He says that the weeds - evil - is real.

The other thing Jesus tells us is that God is going to deal with evil once and for all at the time of the harvest.

In the meantime, Jesus calls the satan 'the ruler of this world' (John 12:31).

The kingdom of God is here, and it is yet to fully arrive. We can not expect a world which is not paradise to treat us as though it were.


When I keep these truths in mind - that God is looking for faith and that there is an enemy at work, it helps me approach life more prepared.

There's a big difference to preparing for a beach trip versus preparing to run a Tough Mudder.

God has promised abundant life and he's going to deliver it. It's a promise that I believe in, so I'm willing to put everything I've got into putting myself in a position to receive it.

How To Figure Out God's Plan For Your Life

SunsetTracksCrop"God has a plan for you" You've probably heard that (or some variation of it) dozens of times, if not hundreds.

Maybe you've heard it when everything is going wrong, and somebody was trying to encourage you. To give you hope.

Perhaps in a time of frustration or devastation, somebody quoted Jeremiah 29:11to you where the prophet records God as saying "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Or maybe it's not even out of crisis or loss that somebody talked to you about God's plan for your life, but simply because you're dealing with the mundane mediocrity of everyday life. Working at a job that doesn't feel like its advancing God's kingdom in this world.

It's encouraging to believe that God not only has a plan for us, but that it's a good plan. A plan that will be fulfilling and meaningful.

The problem we run into is in trying to figure out what that plan is. We're okay with "trusting" God when we know what's going to happen (or at least we think we know) - but when we don't have the full picture, when we have no idea what God is up to, that's when it's difficult.

The word for that is 'faith', and it's really tough. It's much harder than you would expect with how much people talk about faith.

In an effort to help us as we seek to incorporate this faith into our daily lives, I have included some practical steps for engaging your faith in the area of figuring out God's plan for your life.

Now, I need to clarify that prayer throughout this process is critical. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., "Prayer is a marvelous and necessary supplement of our feeble efforts, but it is a dangerous substitute."

With that in mind, here are three things you can do to find God's plan for your life.

  • Try different things.

There's a verse in the book of Psalms that says, "Be still and know that I am God." (46:10)

There's value in knowing that sometimes we need to be careful not to replace devotion to God with doing stuff for God. But on the same hand, sitting around and waiting for your ship to come in isn't very biblical, either.

Being obedient to Jesus means you need to know what obedience looks like. By trying different things -trying different groupon events, volunteering on a team at church, going on an outreach, etc; you can figure out things which you are passionate about. Art? Music? Social Justice? Education? Kids?

Because God isn't going to automatically call you to do stuff that you hate. Sometimes we have this idea that God wants us to continually suffer and we can't enjoy ministry or serving God, but that's not God - that's a bully.

God is a loving Father who wants us the best for us. Sometimes that means facing challenges, but it also means learning to use our gifts.

If you find the intersection of what you're good at and what you care about, you will have found your calling.

Make a list of things you're good at. Now make a list of things you care about. Circle places where the two can collaborate.

Love kids and are good at music? Get involved in the kids ministry at church using music.

Love people and are great at leading discussion? Get involved in a small group at your church.

In order to do this, you need to know what you're good at and what you care about, so try anything and everything you can until you have these answers.

If your church doesn't have a class about finding these things out about yourself, I'd encourage you to read the book S.H.A.P.E. by Eric Rees to help you figure some of these things out. In order to know what God is calling you to do, you have to understand who he has made you to be.

  • What makes you mad?

Martin Luther King Jr also said "If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."  In other words, figure out what you are willing to die for, and live for that purpose.

God doesn't need men and women to make a difference in this world. He's God. He could blink and change everything, but God has chosen to work through people like you and men to make a difference in the world.

I don't know why God has chosen to work through us, imperfect and broken as we are, but he is very clear about it. What areas of brokenness in this world are you simply not willing to ignore? Throw yourself into bringing the restoration and redemption of Jesus into those areas.

Does social injustice make you mad? Is it kids not having a support network? Domestic violence? Refugee camps? Sex Trafficking?

You have one life. If you can use it to make a difference on one issue, what would it be? Bill Hybels calls this 'Holy Discontent'. You find something that makes you so upset that you simply won't allow it to go on without doing something about it.

Our natural reaction is to look away from places of pain and hurt. Instead of looking away, start to research and explore places of pain to see which of them where you simply have to make a difference.

  • Do what makes sense

King Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, tell us that we make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps. (16:9)

In other words, get moving, and God will get you where he wants you to be.

If you go through the first two steps and feel like you have several options, and don't feel that God is clearly telling you to choose one of them, then start with the one that seems to make the most sense to you.

We can become paralyzed by indecision, worrying that 'I might find myself doing something completely different than what God wanted me to do.

Again, let's remember that we're dealing with loving Father here, not jerk boss.

Thomas Merton once wrote a prayer that included the following line: "The fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you."

Let's assume that if we are seeking to please God, he loves it. and if he wants us to go a completely different direction, he'll make it happen.

In the book of Revelation, God defines himself with this phrase: "What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open." (3:7)

If God wants to get you somewhere specific, he can simply open and close certain opportunities and possibilities to get you there. He's not worried about whether he can guide you.

If you simply seek in obedience to fulfill the purposes God has put in your heart, he will make sure you end up in the right place.


I hope that these steps encourage you. You will not stand before God one day and be berated because he was calling you to move to Lichtenstein and become a goat herder and you totally missed what he was saying.

God made you for a purpose, and while you may not see how you fit into the overall picture for this world, God sees it; and if you seek to honor God in all you do, he will accept that as worship, and he is not cruel to anyone, let alone those who worship God.

Continue to seek to please our Father, and you will certainly accomplish your purpose.

I Am A Hypocrite

I know there are people who refuse to attend a church because of all the hypocrisy they find in it.

Let me warn you up front that you probably won't like my church because I'm one of the pastors, and I'm a hypocrite.

I I wish I could say I wasn't a hypocrite, but that would just make me a hypocrite and a liar.

Sometimes I judge people who are judgmental.

Sometimes I look at people who commit sins that I am not tempted by, and consider their sins as being more severe than my own.

Sometimes I ignore advice I give to other people.

Arrogance and pride and lust and selfishness have at different times in my life grown wild in the soil of my humanity.

In Red Letter Revolution, Tony Campolo says that we are all hypocrites and that our only choice is where we set the boundaries of our hypocrisy.

Socrates, as I have written elsewhere, was considered the wisest man alive by the Oracle of Delphi in large part because he was aware of how much he didn't know. The other 'wise people' his era were self deluded into believing their knowledge was all encompassing.

I think we are all hypocrites. What defines us is whether we are aware of it. And once we are aware of it, whether we try to reduce it.

CS Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms worries that rather than being 'too good' for bullies, or cruel and dishonest people, we are perhaps not good enough to minister to them.

My favorite part of Blue Like Jazz is when the 'pope' starts to repent to the 'sinners' for failing them.

You know why Jesus was able to attract the outcasts of society despite the fact that he wasn't compromising God's standards - in fact he was raising them?

I think it's because it was a genuine message from a completely genuine person.

We still have that genuine message, but often, my failings and flaws make it hard to actually see the good news.

My name is TC and I'm a hypocrite. I'm sorry for that. I'm working on it, and I think I'm getting better about it. If you can forgive me for it, I think I can help the Body of Christ as we seek to grow closer to God together.

Follow Me

23_MuradOsmann_1140-660_resizeOne day, as Jesus was walking along the shore of the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers - Simon, also called Peter and Andrew - throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, 'Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!'

They left their nets at once and followed him.

I always thought this was crazy. Why would these men leave their careers in a moment to accept a vague invitation?

I mean, he's Jesus, so maybe there was such a magnetism about him that they couldn't help but to follow him...but based on Isaiah 53:2 ("There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him"), it seems that was probably not the case.

So what could lead to their actions?

I was in Nashville for a music conference once, and after a session one evening, I walked to a convenience store to grab a snack.

While I was there, a fairly famous musician came into the store - Steven Curtis Chapman.

Because I understand that celebrities are just human, I have no interest in requesting autographs. I don't have any dislike for the man, I just know that we're not going to spark a long term friendship in a convenience store, so I didn't bother him as he was just trying to buy some food and keep moving even though I was the only other person in the store in addition to his agent/manager guy.

But even though I didn't interact with him, I knew who he was. If he had suddenly turned to me and offered to hire me at $100K per year, I would have immediately accepted, knowing he had the resources to do it.

Back to Galilee - word of this Jesus must have swept through the vicinity. People must have talked about how this great Rabbi was in the area of the seashore today. But with work to do, and a likely less than perfect religious record, the fisherman surely never expected Jesus to pay them any attention. There was no point in going up to him because there was no chance of some long term relationship starting.

But when he suddenly started walked among the boats of workers, they must've known who he was.

To their shock, Jesus doesn't just walk by, but turns to talk to them. Not to condemn them, but to invite them.

In light of this, we could understand their reaction.

They knew before he ever asked that he was worth following, they simply never expected they would be allowed to do so, much less to be invited to do so by Jesus himself.

You Are What You Do

shadow_figure_440Who are you? Are you a compilation of ideas and beliefs?

Are you defined by your potential or your intentions?

I would argue that you are defined by your actions. That you are what you do.

I've heard many celebrity apologies who, after doing something terrible, like uttering hateful speech, or drinking while driving, or abusing a girlfriend - they say something to the effect of 'this isn't who I am'.

But that's ridiculous. If you drink and drive, you're a drunk driver. If you speak with bigoted language, you are a bigot.

For my part I can say and do arrogant and prideful things. No matter how much I don't want it to be true, that makes me an arrogant and prideful person.

Now, I'm not saying we can't change and leave behind the parts of us that we no longer want to identify us, but that's not the point of this post.

My point is that we are what we do.

In the book of Revelation, chapter 5, we encounter a scroll in heaven.

All heaven and earth is searched, and nobody is found who is worth to open the scroll.

But then, one is found. It is Jesus. And here is how he is identified:

"...Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered..." (5:12)

Jesus was worthy to open the scrolls because of what he did.

I want to make it clear that Jesus is not being given this honor because he was a victim.

In Matthew 26:53, we are clearly told that Jesus was never out of control of his own execution. He had the ability to pull the plug at any time.

So Jesus being the Lamb who was slaughtered isn't about what happened to him, but rather his choice to accept it.

He was not a victim, he was a sacrifice.

It was through that sacrifice that he brought redemption.

Jesus' actions made him worthy.

His actions become how he is identified.

Instead of spending time telling others who we are, let us show them.

If we say we love people (as Jesus told us to), talk is cheap. If we want to be known as somebody who loves other people, what are the actions in our lives that points to that?

I would suggest that we look for places to sacrifice, as there is really no better way to demonstrate our values than when we give of the resources we cherish most deeply - our time, our efforts and energy, in the most extreme case, our lives.

I heard it said in the past week that if you want your life to matter, find the things you would be willing to die for, and start to live for those things.

Jesus both lived and died for our redemption. He is identified by his ultimate act, but also by all that is before that. Before being slaughtered, his actions demonstrate that he is the Lamb. That his worth is incredibly great by his innocent love for God and other people.

Again, it is what Jesus did that defines him.

Let us ask what our actions say about us.

Measuring Up

stfrancis2"So soon as he certainly has followers, he does not compare himself with his followers, towards whom he might appear as a master; he compares himself more and more with his Master, towards whom he appears only as a servant." That quote is about Francis of Assisi written by G.K. Chesterton.

As a leader, it's easy to start to derive your identity from what your team does or does not accomplish.

And if your team does a great job on a consistent basis, becoming arrogant is certainly a potential pitfall.

I get to lead some amazing people at my local church. People who volunteer their time and skill to help our local church make a difference in our local community and our world.

Staying humble when you work with amazing people can be hard (at least for me). Sometimes I get a bit arrogant. Sometimes I make the mistake of false humility, where I become too self deprecating.

Staying emotionally healthy and having a healthy self image is tough.

I love how Francis addressed this. The more other people wanted to follow him, the more he wanted to follow Jesus. If things were going great, it would be easy to pass that praise on to the Master he so closely followed.

If things were going rough, he has a mentor he can turn to rather than bearing the brunt all on his own.

His perspective and self worth would always be rooted to relationship that would not shift. Assisi would not be 'promoted' above Jesus at any point. Jesus would never fire him.

That's the solid ground on which to build our identity, not the shifting grounds of performance or results.

In order to have the best performance and results, one must have confidence. Jesus can give us that security and confidence.

Francis need not worry whether his followers abandon him, whether for valid reasons or not, because it would not change his identity as a follower himself.

To me, this is a brilliant perspective and one that every leaders - especially church leader - should keep in mind.

Retelling Christmas: A Story of Joy

balloonsThis past Sunday, I got to speak about the joy we find in the Christmas narrative. Pretty much everybody who discovered what God's plan is - and that they get to be involved in it - are filled with joy. You know what? I don't like ending a sentence with the word 'joy' and a period.

Joy needs to have an exclamation point after it.



That's better. Okay, back to the blog post:

But it's not just at Christmas that people discover JOY! regarding God's plans:

Matthew records a story on Easter Sunday (I know, I know, now talking about Easter at Christmas. I shouldn’t do that...)

Anyways, Matthew tells us about some women heading to Jesus’ tomb on what would become known as Easter Sunday. When they arrive, they find an angel has rolled away the stone and the angel shares with them the news that Jesus has risen.

Here's what happens next:

Matt 28:8 “The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great JOY!, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.” (emphasis mine)

These women discovered something God was doing, and it filled them with JOY! These women got to be the first people to share the Gospel.

(Just quick side note here. If you're a woman and you feel that God is calling you to ministry, what more authority do you need than the fact that God chose women to be the very first messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? God's gifts are not separated by gender. That's my riff on that.)

The bottom line is that if you want JOY! in your life, find out what God is up to and get involved.

This doesn't mean you won't have difficult time and circumstances arise. But if we remember that God is all about renewing and restoring all of creation and we get to be a part of that, there's a JOY! at the core of that which no circumstance or situation can ever fully smother.

So share the message of JOY! that the God who made us and knows all about us loves us and wants to have a relationship with us, because this is not something we're supposed to hold onto and hoard. God was pleased to share this JOY! with us, now we should go forth and share it with others.

Put other people first by volunteering.

Do something randomly nice like paying for the check of a family at a restaurant without them knowing

Give a Christmas present to somebody totally not expecting one from you (and tell them not to go get you one, but give something to charity if they feel a need to reciprocate).

Tell stories of JOY! in your life this Christmas in honor of the God who shouted it to us through his own son Jesus!


A Weird Way to Save the World

thornsAnd this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith. ― Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

That the opposite of sin isn't doing good or being good; rather it’s trusting Jesus.

That’s a weird idea.

That when I screw up and do something that’s selfish and hurtful, it doesn’t mean that I need to make myself into a better person; but that I am a person who is in need of a Saviour.

Jesus saves us from all our selfish, destructive ways not by glaring at us and threatening us with what will happen if we don’t start to get our stuff together.

Instead, it seems like he’s always trying to lead us on paths that lead to life rather than paths that end up in us getting the same, normal results everybody else gets in life.

Instead of saying “stop doing that or else”, it seems like Jesus says “stop doing that, because I’ve got a better way”.

Jesus shows us this narrow path by the way he lived his own life. He was the Son of God, yet he didn’t show up demanding to be treated like a king.

There’s a great story in the book written by one of Jesus’ closest followers, John that highlights this:

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:3-5)

Jesus knew he had been given authority over everything, and yet here he is, washing the dirty feet of a group of men, one of which was going to betray Jesus.

He didn’t use that authority to dominate or control or bully. He knew he had it, and he chose to serve. That’s definitely weird.

At the end of that story, Jesus tells his disciples “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (v. 15)

Jesus saved me.

From my sin.

From a life of anger and hopelessness

And ultimately, from death itself.

He saved me by serving and sacrificing. That’s a weird way to save the world, and I’ll never be able to adequately express my gratitude for it.

But I want my life to be a response to his great love.

So I will worship God with my heart as I sing of his great love.

I will worship God with my mind as I think of the things he has done.

I will worship God with my soul as I invite God into the center of all that I am.

And I will worship God with my strength as I go out into my community and my world and share his great love through my actions.

Because if Jesus can bring salvation through serving and sacrifice, then I know I can point to that salvation through doing the same things.

35@35 #19: Crockpots and Microwaves

crockpotTC’s Principles and Guidelines for Life #19: “God works more like a crockpot than a microwave.” I actually wrote a blog post on this one several years ago, and it became one of my own personal proverbs out of that process.

The bottom line is that we live in a day, age and society that often wants all of the rewards and none of the hard work.

If you want proof, just watch commercials on late night or mid-day TV.

We want to lose weight, so we want to buy a pill that will make it happen automatically, because dieting sucks.

We want money, so we need to hire a lawyer and take somebody else's money.

We want a more organized closet so instead of cleaning it out, we should buy vacuum sealing bags so we can fit more stuff in. Seriously.

I decided recently that I needed to eat a bit healthier. Eating healthier always seems like a good idea until the moment I have to put carrots into my shopping cart instead of potato chips.

Because it isn't easy. It takes work. I want to be healthy, but still eat all the junk food I want.

I think we can often treat our journey of faith, or just life in general this way.

We want all the benefits, and none of the hard work.

Maybe Jesus totally understands this, and that's why he said "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine." (Luke 10:38)

God isn't fairy dust or magic potion or a get rich quick scheme.

A life of following Jesus is going to be an always developing journey. He won't 'fix' us when we open our heart to him. Instead, he will come in and live with us.

We don't become a ventriloquist puppet for God. We open ourselves to the maker of the universe who makes us spiritually alive, then he helps us to spread that life through the rest of who we are.

But he doesn't force it to happen. And he won't snap his fingers and remove the selfish urges and desires that live within us.

Over time, he'll work with us and in us to create a masterpiece. Adding spices here, stirring the pot there, putting in new ingredients when the time is right, letting heat and time do their work.

If we want to be fully and masterfully prepared, we must keep in mind that he is a patient chef. He uses ways that create richness, not salty, overheated garbage. God loves us too much to treat us that way.

But will we allow him to finish his work? That's the question we all have to face, especially when the process seems to be stretching out for an eternity.

Just because the chef doesn't seem to be constantly working on the dish in the crockpot doesn't mean he's making any mistakes.

Our job is simply to cooperate as much as possible, and not to give up.

Patience, after all, is one of the things he wants to instill in us.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis mine)


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

35@35 #17: Devotion

PoiseTC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #17: "God doesn’t call us to a life of balanced devotion. He calls us to radical devotion." Aristotle tells us that in seeking virtue, we should avoid both excess and deficiency. For example: courage is good, but foolhardiness (excess) and cowardice (deficiency) are not.

I think, in general, there is value in heeding Aristotle's call. However, when it comes to our relationship with God, the thrust I see across the narratives of the books included in the Bible do not paint, to me, a picture of God wanting a balanced relationship with us.

Rather, I see a God who passionately and relentlessly pursues the people whom he loves.

In the Gospels, in the letters written by Paul, and in the book of Revelation, the imagery of a Bride and Groom are used to provide a picture of the church and Christ himself.

This is not some casual relationship that God calls us into. It is one that calls for utter abandon of our former way of life for one that is focused primary on him.

If you get married and try to work your spouse into the areas of your life where you happen to have room for him or her, your marriage is not going to go well.

You have to be willing to bulldoze large sections of your schedule, your living spaces, your habits, your desires and preferences, etc.

How much more for a relationship with God himself, who connects with us on a level far deeper than what is possible between those of us who are living in this world?

Jesus hints at this concept when he shocks us in Luke 14:26 with these words:

"If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple."

Wow. Hating my father and mother, wife and children, even life itself in comparison to how I love God?

That's not balanced. That's pretty excessive. To the point of being possible crazy.

Here's why I submit that violating the Golden Mean in this case makes perfect sense: because this isn't one sided on our part. We're not giving utter and complete devotion and then being let down.

Rather, we're responding to the unbalanced devotion that God has already shown us. He sent his son to die for us before we deserved it. Heck, we never would have deserved it.

God showed 'unbalanced' compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness long before we did. It is in responding to this with 'excessive' devotion that we can actually start to grasp, and receive and appreciate the relationship God has extended to us.

Our relationship with God has no Golden Mean. We can never match what he has done. We can only respond. As he has given his best, the only response that makes sense if for us to do the same.



35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

35@35 #16: Consequences

A road leads deep into a  Kansas cornfield in late July.TC’s Principles and Guidelines for Life #16: “Bad choices do not lead to good places.” One thing I don't see Jesus doing in the writings of his followers is trying to force people to make better choices in life.

For instance, there's the guy who Matthew tells us about in his writings. He gets the title of 'Rich Young Ruler' in most instances.

And Richie (I'm going to go ahead and give him that nickname) asks Jesus what he has to do to have eternal life. After a short conversation, Richie decides he values his possessions more than his relationship with God.

You know what? I'll let Matthew tell his own story:

Now someone came up to him [Jesus] and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. (Matthew 19:16-22)

Notice what Jesus does here: lets him walk away.

Doesn't run after him. Doesn't try to sugar coat some issues that Richie needs to deal with. Doesn't lower his standards to accommodate this dude. He lets him walk.

See, one of Jesus' later followers tells us that "...a person will reap what he sows..." (Galatians 6:7)

In other words, if I plant corn seed, later on I'm going to be eating corn. And if I live selfishly, I'm going to get the results of a selfish life down the road.

This is true whether or not you're a follower of Jesus.

If following Jesus meant that I could avoid the consequences for my dumb, selfish actions, I bet everybody would follow Jesus.

It doesn't. If I, as a follower of Jesus, make bad choices, I'm going to have to deal with the consequences.

God will forgive me when I ask for forgiveness, but he's usually going to leave the consequences for me to deal with.

This doesn't even have to involve sin.

My wife and I bought a business several years ago. We didn't do enough research on what we needed to know. When that business failed, it left us with a lot of financial burden. We're still dealing with it today.

God didn't give me a winning lottery ticket. I didn't get a call one day that my debt had been paid in full.

We ran a business unsuccessfully, and we have to deal with the consequences.

That was an inexperienced, unwise choice.

When we make truly bad choices - why should it be any different?

Consequences help us learn.

So if you are in a situation where you are constantly dealing with difficult circumstances, start planting different crops.

Plant grace and mercy and forgiveness instead of anger, frustration or resentment.

And then be patient. What kind of foolish farmer would plant seed on Monday, then give up on his crop that Wednesday?

We sow what we reap, and bad choices lead to bad places.



35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.


35@35 #8: Selflessness

PufferTC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #8: "Never defend or justify yourself, let God do that. Just answer questions with honesty." So listen, this guideline will totally not work for everybody.

It will only apply to people who take Jesus seriously when he says "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

Those of us who have made the choice to follow Jesus have signed up for a life of learning to die to ourselves.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in Cost of Discipleship, "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die".

I hate this part of following Jesus. Everything in me wants to be selfish and fulfill any appetite I may discover within myself.

Yet I have learned the value of not doing that. It's because of this that I'm participating in Lent this year. I have given up all electronic entertainment (TV, Netflix, Movies, Video Games, etc) for 40 days so that I can instead focus on reading and prayer. Activities that I know improve the quality of my life and help me grow closer to God.

But they are less instantly gratifying that entertaining myself, so I naturally neglect them.

How does this all relate to the guideline that I try to live by, not to defend myself?

It may sound like I'm advocating that we, as believers should be doormats. On the contrary, I believe it's easy and expected and instantly gratifying to defend myself. To try to get revenge on people who speak ill of me.

Indignation is like rage candy. "How dare you!"

I'm asking us to go beyond that. To make the choice not to pick up our weapons when insulted. That takes more courage that most of us commonly walk around with. It's the opposite of being a doormat.

It means not being passive aggressive, or fantasizing about putting people in their place.

Miroslav Volf, in Exclusion and Embrace, makes the argument that in a world where trying to pay back injustice with injustice creates a never ending system guessed it...injustice.

"If you want justice and nothing but justice, you will inevitably get injustice. If you want justice without injustice, you must want love." (Volf, 223)

It is not until we are willing to let God have the last word by refusing to repay evil for evil within our own lives that we truly become the peacemakers that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount. (See Matthew 5).

When I seek to justify myself, it leads to angry emails or pointed conversations. But when I trust God to deal with any unfair or untrue accusations, I embrace what Henri Nouwen refers to as the 'downward mobility' that should exist in the life of every believer.

We fulfill the parable of the wedding guests who take a seat of low honor and are publicly honored by the host (Luke 14:7-14).

I've been reading the book of Job again recently, and the only mistake I see from Job is that he tries to justify himself. God, in his response to Job, never takes issue with any of Jobs specific points of argument. Rather, he appears to take umbrage with Job's tone.

Job's only mistake was his efforts to defend and justify himself against his friends (and considering what he went through, that's pretty impressive).

When we are attacked or criticized without cause (look, if you're not doing your job and your boss criticizes you, this doesn't apply to you. Do you job.), we have a choice. We can defend ourselves or let God defend us.

Personally, I like the latter choice. Because when we put ourselves in God's hands, not only are we safe from anything that he doesn't permit, but we make ourselves open to receive his blessings.

That's a much better alternative than me getting the visceral benefit of demonstrating my contempt or anger through criticism or insult.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

35@35 #6: Forgiveness

Mali-denounces-deadly-stoning-as-dark-age-practiceTC's Guidelines and Principals for Life #6: "Forgiveness is the core of Christianity." I've read several books in the last year plus that have talked about handling hurt and forgiveness.

No Freedom Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu talked about post apartheid South Africa.

Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright dealt with theodicy - the discipline of explaining the existence of evil in light of an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God, which delves quickly into the reality being hurt and offended in this life.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf, a Croat who wrote with a context of the brutal warfare his country engaged to examine how we can create true community with one another.

Out of these texts, one of the most sticking take away point was this: that the defining characteristic of Christianity is the call to love one's enemy.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  ~Jesus (Matthew 5:43-45)

We live in a world of hurts, both great and small on a daily basis. You were out of milk for cereal this morning. You were cut off in traffic. Your boss/teacher criticized you in front of your peers. A rumor was started about you on social media.

Or maybe worse is going on. You're being abused. You were attacked. You've been robbed.

Our normal way of handling the feelings and frustration and injustice of these situations is to either pay it back upon our offender, or, when that isn't possible, to look for other ways we can vent our anger.

Often, this means we lash out at others who most likely had nothing to do with what wounded us. That's our nature. "Misery loves company" the saying goes.

When I have been hurt, if I cannot demand justice from the perpetrator because I don't know who they are, or they are too strong for me to hurt in the manner that I was hurt, then I will visit my pain on others. At least then others have to deal with my same issues and I can find shallow comfort in that.

When I was a child, I was taught that we should treat others the way we wish to be treated. My problem with this system was that a person who did not follow it would never be punished. I decided that the buck would stop with me. If somebody was being mean or selfish, I would give them a taste of their own medicine.

While my solution was foolish (I did mention I was a child, right?), I believe my logic still stands.

But Jesus answered this question in a different manner. He saw that at some point the tally sheet must balance. And instead of giving back to each person what they have stored up (though that will happen one day), at this time, he would stop the cycle of hurt and blame and offense and anger by failing to reciprocate it.

On the cross, his reaction was to forgive those who had hurt him (Luke 23:34).

By breaking the cycle of violence, and indeed offering forgiveness, he gave everyone an exit from the perverse merry go round of injustice.

That is why Jesus not only calls us to be willing to carry a cross, but he goes even further to say this:

"If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine." (Matthew 10:38)

If you can't make the choice to break the cycle of repaying hurt for hurt, you aren't able to build his kingdom. It would be impossible.

If you wish to follow Jesus, loving your enemy isn't optional. It's is absolutely central.

For that is what God did for each and every one of us.

Here's how Paul put it: "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8)

If we wish to belong to God's kingdom, loving our enemies is not optional. Jesus wasn't making a nice suggestion or stating a hyperbole.

The message of the cross is this: God forgave you, now go forgive others.

When Peter bluntly asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive in Matthew 18, Jesus' response was essentially 'Don't stop forgiving'. Because when we stop forgiving others, we ourselves stop receiving it. (That's a pretty scary thought, right?)

That point, when you're no longer willing to carry a cross, is the point at which you can no longer follow Jesus. That doesn't mean he doesn't love you. I'm not going to talk about whether that affects your eternal destiny, because that is secondary.

If you're not following Jesus, you're missing out on what God has for you right here and right now.

Let us be careful each day to forgive. Not to become foolish doormats. If you're being abused, seek safe refuge. If you are attacked for a reason other than your faith in Jesus, seek responsible defenses.

But let us never stop offering the forgiveness that none of us deserves to those who have harmed us. In doing so, we expand God's Kingdom in a way that no violence could ever stop it.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

35@35 #3: Religion

church.steeple.cross_-300x199TC’s Guidelines and Principles for Life #3: “There’s a big, big difference between living for God and religiosity.” I am grateful that I have had a wide variety of experiences within Christianity. I was raised in a highly structured religion that was built on dogma and catechism.

I have also attended churches on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Churches that were opposed to any sort of outside influence and strongly sought to have a unique experience on a week-by-week basis.

The most valuable understanding I gained from these different environments is to have learned that there are people who are genuinely seeking God in both environments, and there are people who are just playing a game in both environments.

While some people view liturgical denominations (Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, etc) as being too focused on rules and repetitious religious services, it’s just as easy to become fixated on the elements you may encounter at a non-denominational, evangelical/charismatic church.

Anytime we get our eyes off God and onto the systems we place in our communities of worship, we have missed the point.

Anytime we reduce God to a set of rules or requirements, we have missed the point.

Anytime we’re more worried about our religion than we are about God, we have missed the point.

I have made numerous mistakes in this area of my life. When I was an adolescent, I wanted to throw off the liturgical faith of my childhood because of how constraining I found it. I made the mistake of lumping God in with that religion.

It took me a little time to realize my mistake and to start learning to engage with God directly rather than through a lens that I didn’t like.

After finding myself in a variety of churches and learning institutions that emphasized relationship with God and personal faith over the next decade+, I discovered that I had created, out of these places, a new personal liturgy, which I had put in place of God in my life.

Because religion is easier to manage than God. I can handle a paper tiger much easier than I can handle a real one.

And religion without God is incredibly dangerous. It convinces you that you are accomplishing all that God wants for your life, while robbing you of the chance to actually discover those things.

I have tried to stop putting God into categories or certain roped off areas of my life.

In the end, whether you are religious or not is not the question. Whether or not you are putting God first and seeking His kingdom come and His will be done in your life and through your life is the question.

You can be Methodist, Baptism, Presbyterian, Catholic, Non-Demonicational, Evangelical, or any other branch of Christianity and love Jesus.

That is the right question.

35@35 #1: Change

transformMainTC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #1: "People rarely change, and even then it’s never on their own." We are in the season of New Year's Resolutions. We want to work out more, eat healthier, do more charity, be a better parent or spouse, go back to school, quit smoking, save money, or perhaps all of the above.

These are great ideas. Surely things that would improve the lives of those who undertake these endeavors.

So why is is that only about 8% of New Years Resolutions are actually fulfilled?

I read a quote once (but now can't remember where) that said this: "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer because they both keep doing what they've always done."

This idea doesn't just apply to money: apply it to a healthy lifestyle. Apply it to your engagement as a parent or spouse, apply it to pretty much anything in your life.

So why is it so hard for us to change ourselves?

The simple answer comes from Isaac Newton's first law of motion which is often summed up this way: A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.

Unless an outside force exerts force on an object, that object will keep doing what it has been doing. (That's actually the third law).

In other words, if we want to eat differently, or stop doing something (like smoking), or start doing something (like saving money), we're going to have to exert force in that area of our life.

We quickly figure out that it's way, way easier to just let the thing do whatever it was already doing. And then we often give up.

For me to carve out time during my week to write a regular series of blog posts is going to require effort. And that's just a short essay. Being a better husband or father will take not only time, but energy, and sacrifice.

So the bigger the change (or the bigger the object we're trying to move), the more force it will require. No wonder we can give up so easily.

Honestly, some things are just to big and too heavy for us to move on our own. That is where a person of faith will need to engage in a relationship with God to help move the object. And because God is a redeemer rather than a genie, the process will still take time and energy.

This is why we so often fail: because it isn't easy. Who wants to choose the rocky, difficult path when the wide paved way is always right in front of us?

But that begs the question: why do we get so frustrated when other people don't change?

When we fail to change, we are often able to justify that failure (I was too busy, I was too stressed, I was too (fill in the blank)), but when others fail, we turn in to a results based person. I don't care why you didn't do a better job at X, the bottom line is that you let me down.

We recognize the cost of change in our own life and excuse ourselves when we are not prepared to pay that cost. We must learn to extend that same grace to others. If we are not willing to do that, we would be wise not to interact with other people at the point of that frustration we have.

(This is why it's so important to keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards, as Ben Franklin famously said)

It is possible for us to help somebody change: a friend asks you to help them go to the gym on a particular schedule, or asks for you to provide accountability over a particular area of their life.

But it must be noted that this can only occur when you have been invited to do so. The other person must want to change before you can help them in their journey.

So the bottom line is this: people rarely change because change is hard. It's much easier to stay in the rut we've carved out for ourselves.

But if we're ready to ask for help from a God who offers empowering grace, there is always hope.

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2a)

"Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 19:26b)

The Problem with New Life

solang_valley_apple_orchard_bgWhen we choose to follow Jesus, we are offered a new life. No. That's not right.

We are not just offered a new life. We're promised a new life.  We're called to have a new life. A life that God gives us.

"...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This new life is rich and satisfying (John 10:10)

This new life is eternal (John 3:16)

This new life means our sins are washed away (Titus 3:5)

This new life means we are free from any and all enslavement (Romans 7:6)

Wow! What a great thing to have, this new life! Why in the world would anybody NOT want it? Nobody would say no to freedom and redemption and eternal joy. At least nobody who isn't crazy, right?

But there's a problem.

A life already exists in the place where this new life is supposed to exist. I mean, if you are giving me a new life, what does that mean to the life I now live?

There is only one possible solution:

The old life must die.

If I have a grove of orange trees, and I would rather have apple trees in the same place, my only real solution is to get rid of the orange trees.

But my old life wasn’t an orange tree. It was a briar patch.

Pulling up those thorny branches is going to take a long time. And it's going to hurt.

I could just clear a tiny bit of it and plant an apple tree, but it wouldn't take long for the briar to overgrow it and kill it.

No. If I want an apple orchard, I'm going to have to kill all the the briar patch.

Dietrich Bonheoffer said ‘When Christ calls a man, he bids him ‘come and die’.

Jesus told stories about how new wine can’t be placed in old wineskins.

If we want to follow Jesus and receive all the amazing benefits of that life – there’s going to be a great cost.

The cost of dying.

That's why Paul says this:

"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Nothing can free you from this correlation.

The more your old life stays alive, the less new life you have room for.

This cost ends up being a reason that many people never accept this amazing offer. Giving up what I have is scary, and difficult.

Jesus never pretends it will be easy. But he makes it pretty clear that it will be worth it.

Choose new life. Choose to remove what was there so that God can place new life in those spaces.

Anything less is not what God wants for us.

Guilt vs. Shame

downloadI’m reading a book called Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown right now. It’s a good book so far, and she has some great stuff to say. Right now, I reading about the difference between guilt and shame. It’s been useful, because I didn’t understand the distinction between these two concepts very clearly.

Guilt looks at a situation where you come up short of the standards you hold in your life and say ‘I did wrong’ or ‘I came up short there’.

Shame looks at those situations and says ‘I’m a horrible person’ or ‘I’m such a loser’.

Guilt is useful only insofar as it makes us aware of our need for the mercy that God so willingly gives us when we fall short, and the grace which empowers us to live a life closer to the one Jesus calls us to live.

Shame is wholly destructive, and leads us to believe that we don’t deserve the mercy and grace that God wants to share with us.

Brown makes the case that using shame to correct behavior is completely counter-productive in parenting, managing, teaching, or any other leadership situation.

I couldn’t agree more. We are all children of God, and we inherently all have worth.

Instead of calling people to live up to the standard of following Jesus, to the calling that God extends to us as partners in the ever expanding nature of his Kingdom, shame attacks their very self worth.

It’s an effective trick.

That must be why Satan likes it so much.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan tells Eve that she has no worth if she doesn’t eat the apple. “…as soon as you eat it…you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

If you don’t eat that apple, you’re going to stay a loser. Shame on you if you don’t eat that apple.

When Jesus was at the end of his 40 day fast, Satan came to Jesus and gave him several challenges. The first two started the same way: “If you are the Son of God…” (See Matthew 4:1-11)

Unlike the response he gets in the garden, Jesus does not let shame manipulate him. He looks to the guidance and standards given by God in the scriptures and avoids the trap.

Shame is still a favorite tool of our enemy today. When you find yourself devaluing the inherent worth you have as a person, adjust this internal monologue with what God says about us.

That you are beautifully and wonderfully made by God. (Psalm 139:13-15)

That God greatly values you. (Luke 12:6-7)

That nothing can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38-39)

It’s okay if you see areas in your life that do not yet measure up to the life God has called you to live, but don’t think that’s where your self worth comes from. Those feelings of guilt are simply there to point you back to the one that says he is working in us, and won’t quit until the work is done. (Philippians 1:6)

Breaking the Rules

olympicsteamusaRecently, I heard Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K from Duke) speak about leadership. He talked about being the coach of Team USA, which included players like Kobe, Lebron, Kevin Durant, etc.

I dont’ know about you, but I was insanely curious to find out how he lead a team full of alpha dogs like that. And not only that, he led them in a way that left every single one of them singing his praises, after they won the Gold medal.

He revealed the approach he took with them: that he did not put a single rule in place for the team.

See, most NBA teams have rules like, ‘If you’re late for a meeting, you have to pay $1,000’. For somebody making $20+ million per year, this is basically a joke.

Coach K didn’t want to use meaningless fines to convince people to fully engage with what the team was doing.

So instead of rules, he asked the players of the team to help him create standards by which the team would conduct themselves.

Rules, he said, are external. But standards are something we hold internally. They are how we truly judge our actions.

So the team created standards: Nobody late for a meeting. No bad practices. Nothing short of a Gold Medal.

Coach K told us that nobody was ever late for a meeting. Nobody had a bad practice. In the London Olympics, they took home the Gold Medal.

I realized that I had made a similar switch from rules to standards in my own life, I just hadn’t recognized that change.

But lately, I have been seeking an overall standard for everything I do. A lens whereby I can view everything I do and don’t do and determine whether I’m doing the right thing.

For some people, the phrase What Would Jesus Do? filled this role in the 90s.

To be honest, I was never really in love with this standard.

I have no idea if Jesus would watch this movie, or read that book, or how much money Jesus would give to that charity.

Jesus lived in a totally different culture than mine.

I learn a ton of valuable principles from Jesus, but I also know this: I’m not Jesus.

There’s a lot of stuff he did that I haven’t been able to do yet (see: raising people from the dead). And there’s a lot of stuff I do that Jesus never would (we can start the list with driving a car and move into other stuff like ‘being selfish’).

So WWJD was a nice idea that didn’t work for me.

Here’s what I’ve come up with lately: before I do or don’t do anything, I’m trying to ask myself the following question:

Is this helping me become more like Jesus?

Because while I may never be just like Jesus, I can certainly become more like him. And I believe that is exactly what I have been called to do.

To be honest, I haven’t fully deployed this question in my life because I’m scared of where it will take me.

I’m going to have to start doing some stuff that I would probably rather avoid. And there’s stuff that I’ll probably have to stop doing that I like.

The thing is, I know that becoming more like Jesus is going to outweigh anything I have to sacrifice or give up.

I want that to be a standard in my life. Something I aspire to instead of a rule that mocks me when I fail.

What standards do you hold up before you?

Simple vs. Easy

self-awareness-with-a-simple-brain_1If you find following Jesus to be easy, then with all due respect, you’re doing it wrong. Jesus is rarely complicated. In fact, when a man asks Jesus to summarize everything required of us under the old covenant (or old testament if you prefer), Jesus basically says this: Love God and love people with everything you are.

What does that look like?

Be generous.

Don’t hate.

Don’t lust.

Be humble.

All of those things are simple. And much of the time, really tough.

Most first century Rabbis required their students to attend many years of schooling. They had to demonstrate extraordinary quality before the Rabbi would ever consider asking them to become a disciple. It was a long, arduous, complicated process.

Jesus, on the other hand, walked up to some fisherman and said ‘Come with me, and I’ll teach you how to fish for people.’ They dropped their nets and started to follow Jesus.


But not always easy.

As they lived in the moment of God’s mission to renew and restore a broken world, they were constantly criticized by the religious crowd. They had to deal with constant demands by needy people - begging for food and deliverance.

Eventually, many of them would be jailed and executed for daring to be identified as a follower of this man, Jesus.

At a conference recently, John Maxwell talked about how great ideas develop.

He said they start at a level of being simplistic. Simplistic is fast and shallow.

From there, they move to being complex. Complex is long and deep.

Many ideas get stuck at complex. Being a follower of God was insanely complex when Jesus was born. There were hundreds of rules to follow.

But complex doesn’t work. It must make the last evolution: Simple.

Simple is fast and deep.

Jesus boiled all these rules and requirements down to: Love God and love people with all you’ve got.

If your faith is simplistic; that is, you just believe what you’ve been told, keep working to develop it.

If your faith is complex, meaning you can’t communicate what’s important to people who are unfamiliar with it, keep working to develop it.

When your faith is simple, make sure it stays focused on the things Jesus emphasized.

And don’t become discouraged, and give it up. Because while a life of simple faith isn’t easy, I promise you that it is worth all your efforts.

You are part of God’s simple plan to make all things new.