Tell your life story in 6 words (no more or less)!
Few phrases make a pastor cringe and fight the urge to cup their hands over their ears in a childish I-can't-hear-you motion. Some of these include:"I'm not being fed here." "Where is MY tithe being used?" "We've never done it that way before." "How far is 'too far'?" "Was that you at the pub Friday night?"
One statement which has not particularly made me cringe but has had me really searching and thinking lately is the idea of "being challenged".
We like to say there are churches we don't go to because we aren't challenged.
We go to churches because we are challenged.
We want to listen to podcasts from speakers who challenge us and avoid books by authors who don't challenge us.
We say that we want to be challenged, but that is not true.
We say we want to go to places and people who can challenge us, but we lie.
Granted, we lie because we have re-defined (falsely) what "challenge" actually means. When we say want to be challenged, we mean we want someone to blow our minds. We want someone to communicate something in a way we have never thought about it before. We want to think of things more loftily than we had before.
We want to read books that really make us think, and in so doing, make us learn a lot.
We want these things, and we call it challenge, but we have misunderstood and forgotten the primary element to challenge.
Action! Movement! Application!
Challenge is a call to engage and change.
We do not want to be challenged. We want to learn more, maybe. We want to know more information, perhaps. We want to answer more questions correctly than someone else, probably.
But very few really want to be challenged, because being challenged means being called to engage and change. Very few of us want to change anything as most of us are too comfortable to engage.
Challenge has to do with whether or not you want to engage something enough to enact change in the way you live, act, or do. Challenge has to do with whether or not what you are reading, hearing, studying, or interacting with engages you to act.
Will my life be different? Will I live differently or am I just waiting for you to blow my mind?
Do I really want to be challenged, or do I really want to know more information than you?
I think of books we commonly call 'challenging' by guys like C.S. Lewis, NT Wright, Bonhoeffer, and I wonder if any of them, as brilliant as they may be, actually engaged me enough to change, act, and live differently.
I think of books by people like Shane Claiborne, SD Gordon, and Francis Chan; books I could read in a day or two but I was engaged to see choices I needed to make to really be more like Jesus.
I think of podcasts I've listened to that I once thought were great challenging sermons, but I cannot remember many that really rocked my life in a way which made me say, "I need to change some things."
The most challenging speakers, writers, and pastors are not necessarily the most profound.
This is because it is not their role to be challenging. It is not up to THEM for YOU to be challenged.
Being challenged is up to YOU! When presented with something, no matter how simple the presentation, its up to YOU to determine whether you will engage and change.
Intentional eye contact with every person I encounter
Tomorrow begins Lent. It is the forty-day period before Easter. This year it begins February 17. Lent is a chance and challenge to refocus your life, withdraw from usual practices, and draw closer to the heart of God.
I'd like to invite you to joining me in a prayerful and reflective Lent. Click this link to receive daily emails during Lent containing passages from Dr. Crabb's new book to help you focus your thoughts and begin your own conversations with God. Emails will begin on February 17.
In hopes of true sacrifice and empathizing with my pregnant wife, I intend to give up coffee and caffeine for Lent. I don't tell you that here as a cry for attention, but for a request of accountability.
Help challenge me through the lethargy and headaches that are soon to ensue.
Will you join me? What do you choose to give up?
Okay fine! Go head! Put your finger in the outlet. Maybe then you'll learn.
Studies show that more and more people know less and less about the Bible. Less and less people read Scripture regularly enough to form even an elementary sense of what the Bible contains. Each generation knows less than the one before it, and that is unnecessary. What is more, there are less and less people who have a true and accurate understanding of who Jesus Christ is.
I do not want to be a part of that group.
So I am embarking on a challenge to read through the gospels in 1 month. Would you take the challenge with me and defy the growing statistics of people with little understanding of Scripture and our Jesus?
BEGIN TODAY, DECEMBER 1
3 Chapters, 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), 30 days
Check in here for my reflections and please leave your reflections as comments.
Challenge others to engage with us!