Christian Millennials: It’s the Thought that Counts?

I love my generation.

I really do.

There’s not doubt we are part of an exciting time.  Technology does things our parents only saw in the movies.  We have been the first generation to grow up with things like social media, cellphones and the world wide web.  My generation helped start organizations like kickstarter which let’s people give money to projects they want to see become a reality.  A few of us founded some world changing charities, some have become pastors to usher in the next generation of the Church and others still are on the cutting edge of medical health and sciences.

But…

And there’s always a but.

What about the majority of us?

Let’s face it, every generation has their few stars who rise to the top and do amazing things.  But what about the rest of us? .  What are we supposed to do?  Or maybe a better question to ask is are we fooling ourselves?
You see I know the my generation is aware of the world’s problems. I know if I ask my friends the question ‘what is wrong with the world’ that they can give me answers.  But what are we doing about it?

You know what I think we are doing about it?
We are “liking” it on facebook and patting ourselves on the back for it.  We dump water on our head, put a big red X on our wrist, we like pages for certain causes and we make sure we tell everyone on our social media accounts that today is national “insert major cause here” day.

But is this helping?

I suppose on a pure awareness level that doing things like that helps to raise “awareness” of that issue.  But if it stops there, then we’ve really missed the mark especially when the Jesus we follow lived a life of hands on ministry.

You see for the all the good my generation has done, I see one glaring flaw.

We.Are.Selfish

Now humans are in general selfish there’s no doubt about it but thanks to a materialistic culture in thought and a prosperous culture in reality my generation has, in many ways never had it easier, and still demands to do things our way with very little room to listen to the generations who have come before us.

We’ve fled the church by the hundreds of thousands

We think we know it all and when we disagreed, we took the easy way out and left our faith institutions instead of doing our best to work together to be co-workers in the Kingdom of God

We’ve decried the faith of our fathers for not being authentic enough while making our own faith up by only taking parts of the Bible we’ve deemed radical and organic.  We’ve tossed the baby out with the bathwater.
And I’m one of them.  I’ve made these mistakes.  I left the Church angry and frustrated.  Many times my reasons were valid but my reactions we were anything but.

Jesus prays to the Father that we are one Church and I’m afraid to admit that at times, I’ve contributed to the very thing that frustrated me.  Division and drawing lines in the sand that hinder the spread of the Gospel, not grow it.

For my generation to start changing our cultures, we need to be proactive participants and not annoying bystanders.  What good is it to point out all of the problems with the world if we won’t get in the mud and start working on solutions together?

We can rant on Facebook, we can write blogs about the problems of the world (pun intended) and we can walk around thinking we know better.  But if we aren’t willing to actually move and take action then we are nothing but the people we criticized in previous generations.

As long as we keep thinking the world revolves around us and our rights and our wants and our dreams I can assure you we won’t see much change.  Jesus tells us that if we want to find our life we must first lose it.  James tells us that true religion is to look after the widow and the orphan (AKA – Not looking after yourself).  The disciples gave up their entire lives so the gospel would be spread to the ends of the earth.  Many of them lost their lives because of it but Paul counted it joy because unlike our self-centered culture, Paul knew that what mattered wasn’t what he did for himself, but the impact he made on people around him to spread the good news of the gospel.

We (millennials) might have these grandiose thoughts about how to change the world but if we don’t put the work in to make those ideas a reality then they are useless to everyone except ourselves.  We trick ourselves into thinking that if we are aware of an issue and we stand against it in our hearts then we’ve done our moral Christian duty by publicly saying “I’m against this!” or “I’m for that”.  I promise your words although well intended do very little to change the status quo,

When it comes to our faith the words we say are only the beginning. If there is no tangible actions behind our words than our faith is pretty much useless as James tells us.

So where do you start? When faced with the world’s problems it can get pretty overwhelming pretty fast.  Start with little things in your life that you can do to start changing things you know that are harmful to yourself, other people, or the environment.

My girlfriend recently has decided to cut back on her use of disposable items such as plast silverware, straws, cups plates and bags.  She decided that she didn’t want to add to the problem of throwing away items that the earth can’t break down and reuse.   A simple lifestyle change that over time will help to reduce the amount of waste we bury underground.

You want to help the generation coming up behind you? Then find a place you can volunteer to start being a role model

You want to feed the homeless? Then volunteer at a shelter and be the hands and feet of Jesus

You want to fight Human Trafficking? Then get in touch with an organization and see how you can help.

Don’t just dump water on your head, don’t just draw a big red X and throw in on social media so people can admire your good work.  Get in the dirt with us and start impacting people.

20140217-085634.jpg

Advertisements

Bursting the Christian Marriage Bubble

So as amazed as we all are that Tim has pulled the wool over some girls eyes long enough to maintain some sort of steady relationship…. I got a girl to say “I do.” Perhaps many of you do not know me but that’s ok, you can agree along with the rest of us that God can do anything. Now saying that, I appreciated Tim’s last blog about bursting the ideals and assumptions we have going into a relationship. I wanted to expand on it a bit and talk about marriage. Now, I got married on Sept 1, 2012 so I am certainly no expert on the subject and wouldn’t pretend to be. Hopefully some of these things you will be able to identify with and will help you in the future. If you have any more please share them as marriage doesn’t get any easier as you go.

Many of Tim’s list of 5 applies to marriage as well so I won’t try to repeat anything he has already stated so well. But here is another list (of 6) that I have learned.

1. Sex isn’t as great as you might think
You may be lifting an eyebrow (especially those who are married and enjoying a healthy sex life) and my pre-marriage self is wondering “what on earth can you mean?” However, I will stick to this one. Don’t get me wrong, sex is amazing and wonderful (in the confines of marriage) but it is not what will hold your marriage together. Your marriage will determine the enjoyment of the benefits. I can go back a few short years when I couldn’t wait for my honeymoon. I couldn’t wait to be married so I could do “marriage things.” That is what is pounded into our minds right? “The Bible says that sex is for marriage and marriage only!” While I agree with the statement the constant reminder of the marriage rights started to warp my mind on what it is actually for. I started to want the marriage more for the benefits it came with. Is that any reason to get married? I’ll answer for you. Definitely not! One theory I have for the reason that the divorce rate is higher among Christians is because of sex. Kids are getting married to enjoy the benefits of marriage and not because they are ready to submit themselves to one another and serve God together. Let me tell you, if sex is your goal in marriage, you will be highly disappointed. Some nights you may just not be in the mood. Does that mean your marriage is failing and something is wrong? No, but if that is your main focus… things may start to crumble when this begins to happen.
Sex in its correct context, the physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding of two people is beautiful and brings two people who already are in love even closer. The bonds created in sex are inexplicable and why it is meant for marriage. It is so much more than just a physical act. But, it is not a reason for marriage. I won’t take the time to go deeper into this one but I think you get the idea. Have a correct perspective of sex in marriage. Focus on the relationship not the benefits of it and the benefits will be even better.

2. You are Selfish –
When people ask me what is the top thing I’ve learned about marriage since the wedding day I always say the same thing. I’ve learned exactly how selfish I am. This is one of those things that you just can’t prepare for. Dating begins this process but when the wedding vows are done and over you realize how much you missed. When I was single I ate what I wanted for dinner, I went where I wanted to go, and spent money where I wanted to spend it. This all changed once I got a ring on my finger and I’m now with this other person every day and every night. A quick example. The other night Julia was working late and mentioned she wanted a salad for dinner. So as I get home from work and I’m just doing a few things around the house I finally decide to order Chinese food. The Chinese food arrives and not 10 mins later Julia walks in the door with this look on her face “YESSSSSS!!!!! CHINESE FOOD” and I right them realized that I probably should have asked her if she wanted anything. Oops. It’s simple and was mostly harmless but it showed that I’m still working on constantly being aware that it’s not just “every man for himself” any more. I’ve got a wife that I have to consider into everything (if I want to have a solid Christian marriage that is). Should I really buy that new ______ (fill in the blank) without consulting her or should I really be hanging out with this group of people right now? Every decision should get input from all parties involved.

3. Your actions affect another
This is one I’m constantly struggling with and learning to deal with. One of the most terrifying moments just before the wedding day was when it was impressed on my mind the responsibility I was taking on. I had learned in the months leading up to us starting to date that I had a lot of things God wanted to see changed in me. He is still changing and working with me. But now, its not just me that my actions and decisions affect but my wife as well. I am held accountable to how our marriage is reflecting upon God. I am held accountable (to an extent) for the spiritual wellbeing of my family. Being “the head of the household” doesn’t mean I make all the decisions. It means that I have the God given responsibility. It means I am taking initiative to lead our family in a path of spiritual growth and development and we can foster that type of activity. It is definitely a team effort but I have that responsibility. The thought of that terrified me until I also realized that God didn’t wan to see me fail and would be with me every step of the way, in success and failure. But it is not just leading. It is every aspect of life.
How I talk to certain people affects not just me but Julia. Where I go does not just affect me but Julia too. Where I work, what we do with our money our time, etc. Everything is affecting both of us. It is an enormous responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

4. Time will not slow down
While Julia and I were engaged we were under this delusion that we would have so much more time when we are finally married. We won’t have to spend so much time in the car driving to one another. We won’t have to say goodbye and goodnight every day. We will just be able to get so much more done. Trust me when I say… life sped up after marriage. It was like someone kicked us into the next gear and time started to go faster than before. The days and weeks fly by and before you know it a year is over. Time will not slow down. My advice to you? Start good habits early in life. Are you single? Start spending time with God as much as you can. You will never have time alone like you have right now. Are you dating/engaged? Spend time with God alone… and together! You won’t believe how crammed full your life will get as the years pass on. The world, the flesh, and the devil will try to squeeze every last second out of you and keep you from that precious time with God. But, if you developed those habits earlier (say when you were single) it will be easier to maintain. Then when you get married you are used to spending time in the scriptures and praying together. Let me tell you… that doesn’t happen overnight. It is a “chore” and has to constantly be readdressed. You will never be able to spend enough time together with The Lord. Get in the routine as early as possible. But always remember it is never too late to start :)
As life goes on it will only get busier… kids, activities, school, work, etc. Everything will pile on. Don’t let life separate you from the one who gave it to you.

5. Be content with where God has you now
I will word this one carefully and lovingly because I know we are struggling with this right now. As humans we always want to see what is coming next and get going to the next stage. While growing up we couldn’t wait to be a teenager. Then we couldn’t wait to go off to college. Then we couldn’t wait to start our career. Then we couldn’t wait to get married. On and on the list goes (in whatever order). But I can speak for myself that I was always ready for the next step. ESPECIALLY when EVERYONE around me was crossing into that next step. I felt left out. I knew God gave me the desires of my heart for a reason but I didn’t want them if they couldn’t be satisfied. God’s timing however was perfect and was worth waiting for. If I would have settled for something earlier I would not be as blessed as I am now. God gave to me the perfect girl for me at the perfect time. But I want the next step! This is a constant struggle to be content with where we are now and with what God is doing with us now. God is never not working with us. God is never just asking us to sit and do nothing. Even “waiting” implies preparing. Please refer to this post on waiting for more of an explanation. God knows what He is doing and we have to learn to submit our wills, our plans, our desires, and everything to Him. He made you with your desires. Even if they don’t make sense right now, or they frustrate you, or they make you lay awake at night in tears. God gave them to you. He made you and He didn’t make a mistake. Trust that He will satisfy the desires of your heart in His time and His own way. Easier said than done, especially in a “now” society. Whatever you want you should go get. That isn’t how God works. Rely on Him and be content with where you are now and what you’re doing for Him now. The next step will come at the best time.

6. Remember to date your spouse
One last thing. Dating your spouse. I guess this could be thrown up into number 4 with time constraints but that isn’t the only thing here. Dating your spouse is about learning about them, spending time them, and generally showing interest in them. Flirting in marriage is the best thing you can do. Let your spouse know that just because you both are wearing rings doesn’t mean you don’t still like to flirt with each other and have fun. Marriage is stressful, hard work, and sometimes you just want to throw in the towel. So pick a night and show your spouse that they still have your attention and you are still attracted to them. I will never stop learning about Julia. There will never come a time where I will be a “Julia expert.” This is a life long commitment and dating your spouse is a great way to keep everything going.

As I stated at the beginning, a lot of what Tim said about dating applies to marriage as well. Friendship or perceived romance or lack of butterflies. Let me tell you in marriage there are days that there are no butterflies in my stomach because they’ve been eaten by vipers haha. But love is a choice and every day I must chose to love my wife. I chose to put her before me and do anything I can to make sure I am being a benefit to her. That is not easy and things get rough. A strong marriage grounded on the right things will always prevail as marriage is ultimately a picture of Christ and His Church. God would never bring two people together and want them to fail. God is for marriage. Hopefully these few basic points help you in some way.

Rob

Wedding