Fighting Your Quarter-Life Crisis with a Good Cause

Rather than let my quarter-life crisis continue to be imminent as my twenty-fifth looms around the corner, I decided to be proactive.

When a man has a mid-life crisis, he either gets confused or depressed. If confused, he will likely buy a boat, a car, or that big TV he has always wanted. If depressed, he may become somber and run back to his old vice.

When a man has a quarter-life crisis, he either goes crazy or gets stupid. If crazy, he may start setting unreasonable, often selfish, goals. If stupid, he could do one of the countless things that men who aren't ready to grow up yet do--you know the story.

I have a goal setting personality type, which makes being unreasonable a risk for me. I've set way too many ridiculous goals in my life; and yet when I meet them, I rarely celebrate. Instead, I ponder what went wrong along the way or what I'm going to do next. Both of these steps are good things, but they've often hindered positive feelings. This means that no matter how successful my last year was, I always go into my birthday feeling like the year could have been better. Although I'm always thankful for my relationships--with Christ, my wife, family, friends, colleagues, and others--I rarely reflect on that. Instead, I'm stuck thinking about what didn't happen during the last year and what needs to happen in the next. Sometimes it's holy discontent, but other times, it's just unnecessary mourning.

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Why Pastors Never Meet Expectations

Most Protestant Christians are encouraged to evangelize; instructed that it’s the duty of all Christians. Indeed, it is the job of all Christ followers to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), but not all of us are evangelists; nor are all of us called to be. Rather, “evangelist” is a church office, like apostleprophet and teacher.

Today, we use the term evangelist in its broadest sense: anyone who evangelizes (preaches the gospel). We also use it to describe people who are especially good at bringing others to Christ, which gets a little closer to Paul’s definition.

The Higher Gifts: An Owner's Manual

All who come to Christ are gifted in some way or another. We have desires to use these gifts: both as a way to propel people toward Christ and as a means for moving those who already know him. Or at least we should.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he asks that we “earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Just prior to this statement, Paul mentions these “higher gifts": apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpreting.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

Raysd: A New Online Magazine Offering Christian Perspectives on Culture

Raysd is a new online magazine offering Christian perspectives on art, movies, music, culture, and the world.

When Jessi Gering, who serves as editor of the publication, recently blogged about it, she noted: "The world we live in is constantly changing—from technological developments, to the forming of new countries, to swiftly-moving culture trends. Raysd is a new online magazine that offers a Christian perspective on culture around the globe."

Some highlights from the first issue:

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Interpreting, (Well) Everything

You don’t hear about dream interpreters much anymore. We generally feel that everything has a scientific explanation. So when we have a dream, we assume it’s our mind trying to make sense out of some nonsense in our day. Likewise, since most people who speak in “tongues” are considered a little loony, you don’t hear about people interpreting tongues. Understandable, yet that probably wasn’t God’s intention.

The Apostle Paul talked about the gift of interpretation when mentioning other spiritual offices and gifts.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:27–31 ESV).

I’m concerned about the lack of interpretation in our churches. We seem to take most things on face value. And our version of face value is skewed in the direction of rationalism. I believe in reason, but I don’t believe everything can be reasoned away. It’s reason that convicts me and convinces me that the spiritual is essential.

Most of us place the spiritual in a box, only looking for it in spiritual services. Yet it’s all around us. Just like everything has some form of electrical charge (electrons), so the whole world has some sort of spiritual charge. And because the world is this way, interpretation is needed. We have to perceive how God is working—what He is doing.

Interpreters are few and far between today because those who recognize God’s constant interaction with us are few and far between.

Spiritual depravity travels. It works in us, on us, and slowly dwindles down our desire to follow Christ. It is not as if we have immunity to the forces around us.

I’m not sure when the gift of interpretation will become prevalent again. I would like to be hopeful, but I cannot be hopeful until I see us awake to the Spirit again. It’s not that the Spirit has stopped working; it’s that we have stopped acknowledging it.

The spiritual gift of interpretation isn’t prevalent anymore because the other gifts aren’t prevalent anymore. Or better put, they’re generally not acknowledged or identified anymore (at least not properly). Given, there are many who are interpreting the Bible well. There are many great biblical commentators. I’m grateful for these people, but their work alone is not enough. It’s one step among many that must take place. We need people on the ground, in our churches, in our communities, interpreting regularly.

So let’s listen this week. Let’s be intent on hearing Christ. Maybe we can turn this negative into a positive. What can you do to enable interpretation in your community?

 

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Speaking in Tongues: Not Crazy, Just Different

The spiritual gift of “speaking in various kinds of tongues” is either fully embraced or completely ignored. Depending on our belief set, we either think we need this gift (or we’re not really anointed by the Spirit), or we think it doesn’t matter. There is little room in the center. But embracing this gift properly involves embracing the center.
 
Spiritual offices and spiritual gifts are discussed in 1 Corinthians 12:27–31.
 
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:27–31 ESV).
 
Tongues, in the context of 1 Corinthians, are something that have to be interpreted (1 Corinthians 12:10). Paul talks about two types of tongues: those of people and those of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). When someone speaks in the tongues of angels, they are speaking to God (1 Corinthians 14:2)—no one understands them. They need an interpreter for people to understand them (1 Corinthians 14:28). When someone speaks in the tongues of angels, they are meant to be dialoguing with God, not trying to impress their friends. When someone speaks in the tongues of people, they are miraculously speaking to someone in their own language, without training (Acts 2:3–4, 11).
 
But it doesn’t matter if we speak in tongues if we don’t love (1 Corinthians 13:8)—without love, tongues become noise.
 
Paul also contrasts prophesy with speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues helps the individual speaking, but prophesying builds up the church (1 Corinthians 14:4). Paul desires for every Christian to speak in tongues, but helping people grow in their relationship with Christ is more important (1 Corinthians 14:5–6).
 
“So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” (1 Corinthians 14:9–13 ESV).
 
Based on this passage, it seems that those who are constantly expecting people to speak in tongues are actually striving for “manifestations of the Spirit,” not focusing on what’s most important: helping other Christians grow in their relationship with Christ.
 
We are meant to primarily focus on the church “outsider” (1 Corinthians 14:16). We can’t forget the real purpose of spiritual gifts: “in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19 ESV). “Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers” (1 Corinthians 14:22 ESV). Tongues are a sign for those who don't believe in Christ, but we have to be cautious.
 
Incredibly, the problems with people who speak in tongues today were addressed by Paul in the first century AD: 
 
If ... the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:23–25).
 
Paul then goes on to offer some further guidance for speaking in tongues: 
 
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:26–33 ESV).
 
For Paul, everything comes down to “order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). This is also his reason for asking women to be silent in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 14:34–35). Paul makes this request, which is not applicable today, because that’s what the Law says (1 Corinthians 14:34). There was a large (and likely influential) Jewish population in Corinth, as evidenced by the synagogues unearthed there. Paul desired for the Corinthian church to minister to the Jewish population, not ostracize them. Women speaking in church services in the first century would be ostracizing for Jewish men, and perhaps even Jewish women. (Of course, women not speaking in churches today would be ostracizing for most people. So the opposite is true today: women should speak in our services.) Although Paul’s request about women certainly does not apply today, what he says about tongues fits precisely with what churches are dealing with now.
 
In our church services, we need to have balance and order, even when using spiritual gifts. We need to let the Holy Spirit be reincorporated, and we need to use our spiritual gifts, but we cannot do so at the cost of ostracizing people. (God wouldn't want us to ostracize people.) Our goals are clear: help people come closer to Christ, and help those who don’t know Christ. Speaking in tongues is important, but we need a centrist approach about when and how to do so.
 
How do you plan to reincorporate (or better incorporate) the gift of speaking in tongues into your church? 
 
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Administrators: Leaders, Not Paper Pushers

In the church, the spiritual gift of "administrating" is probably top on the list of easy affirmations. We’re comfortable saying, “You have the gift of administration,” but uncomfortable affirming someone’s prophetic or apostolic calling. We like the gift of administration because it makes it easy to hand off work to people more organized (and willing) than us. But for Paul administrators were leaders.

Paul first describes church offices (major roles) in 1 Corinthians 12:27–31, and then describes spiritual gifts.

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:27–31 ESV).

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My Book on Spiritual Gifts: Get the Best Deal, Join the Movement

I'm working on a book about spiritual gifts, which I'll be releasing as an e-book soon.

I want you to be the first to know about it, and I want you to get the best deal. I also want you to join the movement of people who are embracing their spiritual gifts, rethinking church, and changing society as we know it.

Join the movement. Be the first to know. Sign up for updates here.

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Help: A War Cry, Not a Cry of Desperation

“Help” is a word of desperation. It’s what we say when we think we can’t go on. That’s not the case for the biblical writers, though. For them, it’s a war cry.

The psalmist said: “I lift my eyes to the hills from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psa 121:1–2 ESV).

In the ancient world, people thought the gods dwelled on the hills. So the author looks to the hills, not to flee, but for aid. He then acknowledges that his help comes from Yahweh (the Lord), who made heaven and earth. What is there to fear in the earth if everything in it is God’s?

But here’s where it gets really interesting: God is all about empowering us to do His work. That means that His gifts, His abilities, become our gifts and abilities. That’s what Paul talks about in his first letter to the Corinthians:

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Healing: It's What We All Need

Spiritual gifts or curses? Back in October, I opened a series of posts with that question. I was convinced then, and am now, that the primary reason why many of us feel empty is that we’re under utilizing our spiritual gifts. Unless we’re following God’s will, we’re not being who we were meant to be. That doesn’t just hurt God, or others, it hurts us.

One of the under-utilized gifts is healing. The world needs healing. Paul would agree. Here’s how I know.

When Paul describes how the church should function, he describes church offices, and then discusses gifts. It’s a tragedy that miracles are rarely seen in our churches—it’s a sign that we’re in spiritual gridlock. Healing (in Paul’s context) is about wholeness. 

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About
The Infinite God is everywhere, are you looking? I am dedicated to finding God in all aspects of life – the Bible, the news, and the arts. Because I find that the most fulfilling journey of all is searching for heaven here on earth.