There’s a storm brewin’,
Rolls of thunderous chaos,
Lightning; fierce, bright, terrifying.
Timber quakes and dishes rattle;
My heart is alive again.

Grass green; post-storm.
Life flows from these streams,
Revival flows through these veins.

An arsonist.
I’ll set the world ablaze;
Light a match and set it to hearts.
Engulfed by compassion,
There’s no stopping this wildfire.

Welcome to faith,
To love once again,
To Hope and joy,
Usher the Spirit in,
May I present to you, Jesus.

Outside, Looking In: A Short-Story

He was at it again. The crazy street-preacher simply couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “The fire of Hell will rain down on you! REPENT! REPENT!” he shouted. A few interested onlookers watched as his “message” continued, while I managed to squeeze myself through the throngs of people in the city square. Rush-hour it was, and on time as usual, was the man who couldn’t stop preaching.

What was it that drove him to proclaim so boldly what he thought to be truth? Christianity was one of those things that was difficult to understand; so many versions, so many rules that could either bend, snap, or vanquish altogether. Heck, from the conversations he had managed with a few of his “believing” friends, it sounded like they didn’t even know what they were talking about.

What were they talking about?

It stumped his mind for hours. The endless tweets and status-updates about righteous living, conferences every so often that they would come back from “on fire for the LORD” only to fizzle out a few days later to be found in their same old hypocritical habits. At least he stood for what he stood for; the 3 G’s; Girls, Guns, and Grub. The women he slept with, or attempted to anyways, the guns he shot, and the food he ate made up who he was, in his eyes.

From a young age, he had heard his Mom say, “you are what you eat, which was true for Alex, a doughy, full-bodied young lad, who just so happened to eat a lot of pizza and drink a lot of beer. His nickname was “The Tank” and everyone in the neighborhood would cheer him on at the local bar during chugging-contests, because the kid could PUT. IT. AWAY. Goodnight to anyone who tried to beat him at his favorite sport, drinking.

Walking home now, Alex came up to┬áthe spot on the hill where the local church was gathering for “First Fridays”, the Friday evening Bible Study where young Christians spent the first Friday of every month together reading Scripture and praying. But who on Earth went to church on Friday night? Didn’t they know that was for Sundays and the rest of the week was for living, especially Friday night!

Tonight was different, though, he had nowhere to be. No parties to attend, girls to seduce, or movie to watch in his ‘bachelor-pad’ apartment. And curiosity was getting the best of him.

Sitting down at a bench across the street from the church, he sat down to people-watch. Outside, looking in, he had the perfect vantage point.

One thing was certain, the girls were sure cute, for Christians. What does that even mean, he thought to himself, surprised at his own confused thinking. For Christians? Alright, they were attractive, period.

But what made them so special? What was it about the men within this church that kept them at least attempting to seek out purity and mentor relationships, or what did they call it–discipleship?

The service was obviously about to start, as the line of people entering was dwindling down and the doors were about to close. Contemplating his options for the evening, he realized it couldn’t hurt to at least check into this so-called, “community”, and to see what they were truly all about. Rising up from the bench and taking the few awkward steps across the street toward the greeters, Alex made his way into the church…

What would Alex (a fictional-character, by the way) have been invited into if it had been your church? How welcoming are you to outsiders? It’s incredibly easy to become wrapped up in the communities we already have. Sometimes, an opportunity to reach out to an outsider is at hand, and we just have absolutely no idea. I sure hope that Alex would not have been ignored, no matter how many questions, or how much “baggage” he may have brought into the situation. Because let’s be honest, you were Alex at one point, in your own way, and so was I.

In the same light, what if the story goes differently, as it often does, and Alex decides to continue onward in life without ever visiting a church? What are you, The Church, doing to reach out to him, meet him where he’s at, and let him know that he is undoubtedly loved, despite [insert everything here]…?

Consider this a simple reminder for you, for me, for everyone to continually seek out way to be others-oriented in the way we “do ministry”. Dealing with personal struggles is certainly important, but please do not forget the outsider, the foreigner, the stranger. One day it was you and one day it may very well be you again. Be gracious, inviting, and loving hosts.

4.6 Billion

Did the title grab your attention? That is a massive number with a lot of zeros. Written out it looks like this: 4,600,000,000. So what are we discussing here? The value of an international corporation? The net worth of a celebrity?

Actually, 4.6 Billion is a generous estimate of the number of people globally whom do not profess Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. 4,600,000,000 have the potential to die tomorrow having never had a personal relationship with God. 4.6 Billion.

“Okay, okay Justin we get it.”

Do you?

These 4.6 Billion people are heading into Judgement Day with no hope of being redeemed from the fiery furnace of Hell’s torment if nothing changes. What are you going to do about it? Better yet, what am I going to do about it?

Aside from attending church on a fairly regular basis, giving our offering, and participating in the occasional service-project many of us do nothing else to facilitate bringing others into the Kingdom of God. How are people outside of the church supposed to learn about Jesus and the way that He can radically transform their lives if we are not going to them and living life alongside many of them. I’m currently reading “Radical” by David Platt and it is really challenging my thought-process when it comes to the way that America does church and the way that I’ve grown up as a part of that church. The bottom line is…SOMETHING needs to be done.

We cannot afford to stand on the side-lines any longer as our brothers and sisters here in America and in countries across the globe are suffering in poverty. Knowing that members of my family, friends, classmates, and coworkers have the potential to die tomorrow without ever having known the redemptive power of the Cross makes me shudder. These are people who God has placed in our lives for a REASON. If you and I don’t do something to reach out to them, to show them Christ’s unconditional love, grace, and mercy, then who will?!?! The sad reality is that likely…the answer is…no one.

So, the question still poses itself, what are you and I going to do about it? For starters, I’m going to begin praying fervently that the Lord would change my heart and give me a greater desire to serve and give up my life for others as He has already done for me. I’m well-aware that my heart is certainly not in that spot right now and I would be lying incessantly to tell you otherwise. But it can’t stop there…

While prayer is ESSENTIAL and we can do nothing apart from the work of God within us and for us through His own Sovereignty, it does require some sort of ACTION on our part. We NEED to GO! Jesus Christ has SENT US to MAKE DISCIPLES of ALL NATIONS. As of right now I’m going back to Kansas State University to complete my Bachelors of Science in Communication Studies. However, I’m becoming more and more aware that if my life has truly been crucified with Christ and I’m going to serve Him in faith always (Gal 2:20), then it is very possible that I could be called anywhere at anytime.

And He WILL call me. He will call YOU (yes…even you) as well. The question then becomes…will you answer that call? Another reality is that we are ALL CALLED. There are BILLIONS of souls crying out in desperation for someone to bring them to LIFE. Because as of right now, they’re dead. You may see a living, healthy individual, but the reality is that within them, the cold frost of death is choking their souls.

Family of God, what are you going to do?

Are you aware of the sense of urgency we MUST have?

I know that I’ve placed more questions on the table than answers, but as of recently, this is what has been placed on my heart. And while it is still in the beginning stages and I’m weary of posting something so challenging while not being totally steadfast and firm in it myself, I believe God has called me to share…and so I have. Praying for you!