Friday, January 04, 2013

Identity in Christ Brings Growth in Christ

I decided to let a new year allow me to revisit my old blog.  With that said, I was going through old posts that I had begun years ago but never actually posted.  Here is one of those:
All of us tend to resist change. There is a built-in drive toward stability known as equilibrium. This God-created characteristic is necessary to avoid becoming overwhelmed with ideas....  Yet it is this same resistance to change, in addition to our flesh, that sometimes makes it difficult for us to grow in Christ. Part of the process of developing to spiritual maturity is overcoming the inertia that prevents us from becoming increasingly ‘conformed to the image of His Son’ (Romans 8:29). Foundations of Ministry p. 75
I have found the essence of the thinking in this quote to be very true of how I have thought. My resistance to change, compounded with my flesh, has made it difficult for me to grow in Christ.  Knowing that and knowing that my ultimate goal as a Christian is to become more and more like Jesus and bring glory to God, why do I resist change that will make me more like Him?

I’m convinced that the more I understand that I am identified with Christ, the more I will allow myself to be changed to His likeness.  In other words, with my focus on Jesus, remembering that I am a child of the living God, I know that I can change and I want to change.  When I focus on the change, itself, and all that I have to DO to be Christ-like, I get frustrated and quickly feel like I’m faced with a totally insurmountable task.  What makes me feel that way?  Well, I feel that way because the task IS insurmountable; I, myself, cannot become like Christ through any effort of my own!  (If I could complete the change myself through hard work and maybe a little luck, then I wouldn’t need Jesus!  On my own, I would have attained the acceptance of God...and since I know myself all too well, I know that's just not possible.)  I need Jesus to continue to draw me to Himself so that I can become more and more transformed to His likeness.  And the more I remind myself that I am a child of God and identified with Christ, the more I want to live up to the loftiness of those truths...for His glory.

When I first read the above quote from the text, all of these thoughts and feelings jumped out at me.  It’s true: there are so many times when we, as Christians, feel like we cannot fight the undertow that is pulling us away from Christ.  However, I have found that the more I identify myself with Christ, the more I find that the undertow is not as strong as I thought.  In my journey to know and to experience God and His love, I have come to better comprehend the reality of my identity in Christ.  I recognize that the inertia in my own life does not have to signal that I’m farther away from Christ; it can actually be taking me back to Him—reminding me that I need Him and that it is only through Jesus, that I have hope in this life.  I know that I’m far from having worked out all of my “issues”.  However, I’ve found that my identity in Christ brings me to live life as a more committed and joyful Christian—one that is becoming more like Him with each new day.  What do you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

True Being

True Being

To uncover true being
is to see through the BEASTLY

see through the thick mane,
the keen eyes,
the sharp teeth,
the destructive force

with wounds inflicted and wounds received.

To uncover true being
is to see the lion as she really is

as a kitty who loves to cuddle.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Year -- An Old Truth

I wanted to post the prayer letter that I wrote for our ministry last month:

For Outside the Box, a new year brings with it many new plans, new projects, and a renewed passion to see students drawn to the hope found only in Jesus Christ. One old truth is at the forefront of my mind in this new year. From Matthew 9, “37Then he [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” As workers in the field, we at Outside the Box confront the vast harvest on a daily basis. Each event in each new year brings with it the reality that there are hundreds of thousands of youth that still need to be exposed to the life-changing power of the gospel of Christ. The harvest is extremely plentiful. Would you consider beginning 2008 in prayer for how you will partner with us in our work of cultivating and reaping the vast harvest? We depend on your financial support and prayer to continue the Lord’s work. THANK YOU!

Our 2008 calendar is filling up quickly. Please keep us in mind over the next months of ministry:

Feb 22-23 Dare 2 Share Ministries Survive Tour, City #5 Lincoln, NE
Feb 29-Mar 1 Dare 2 Share Ministries Survive Tour, City #6 Phoenix, AZ
March 7-8 Dare 2 Share Ministries Survive Tour, City #7 Atlanta, GA
March 9 Pure By Choice Pure By Choice 2008 Denver, CO
Mar 14-15 Dare 2 Share Ministries Survive Tour, City #8 Seattle, WA
Mar 19-23 NYI: AZ, So. NV District Xtrav 2008 Flagstaff, AZ
April 5 Club Live Club Live 2008 Fairborn, OH
April 11-12 Dare 2 Share Ministries Survive Tour, City #9 Chicago, IL
April 12 Catholic Men’s Event Put Out Into the Deep Detroit, MI
Apr 29-May 1 NNYM YMEC Washington, D.C.
May 15-17 Urban Youth Workers UYWI08 Los Angeles, CA
May 25 Paradise Paradise08 LaCygne, KS
Jun 29-Jul 1 Christ for Native Youth Trail of Hope Durango, CO
Jun 29-July 2 JAMA New Awakening 08 Philadelphia, PA
July 2-5 Church of the Nazarene FUEL, City #1 Nampa, ID
July 3-7 Ron Hutchcraft Ministries WLS 2008 Roach, MO
July 10-12 Church of the Nazarene FUEL, City #2 Pasadena, CA
July 17-19 Church of the Nazarene FUEL, City #3 Toronto, CAN
July 24-26 Church of the Nazarene FUEL, City #4 Orlando, FL
Jul 30-Aug 3 Church of the Nazarene FUEL, City #5 Vancouver, CAN

As you can see, 2008 will be extremely full of life and ministry. We depend on you. Please consider who from ‘your world’ needs to join Outside the Box as a partner in ministry in 2008.

A Countdown Clock is now available for sale from Outside the Box!
We've developed a unique computer software program to help events and churches keep their program segments on schedule. Controlled from your laptop, the software displays a large countdown clock, moving down to 00:00, so that everyone on stage knows exactly how much time is left within their segment. It also offers the ability to send word messages. This great programming tool is now available for $35. All proceeds go to support our ministry. Spread the word! Here is a link for more information:

Ministry Developer
Outside the Box Ministries, Inc.

Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement of Outside the Box Ministries. May 2008 be an amazing year of reaping the vast harvest.

Monday, August 13, 2007


So the beginning of my last post references a friend that I sent a letter to. The recipient of that letter was a certain Kathryn Taber, who will BE MY WIFE around this time in 2008!!! (Yes, I'm very excited. Yes, I'm going to be marrying the girl that I've dreamt about for many years. Yes, I'm a very lucky boy.) One of my favorite things about Kat is that she offers me a grace that I can rarely offer myself.

The excerpt from the letter that I wrote to Kat was originially written to her in one of our very first correspondences. It was an attempt at honesty. It was a risk. I'm still one of those who agrees with the 'age old adage', "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." But I don't want to talk about me. I want to talk about her. Her response is something I can only describe as transcendent. She read what I wrote and responded so wonderfully.

She said, "I hear you, BJ. I really appreciate that you know what you've been saved from."

She didn't respond with fear and trepidation wondering how deep my potholes really went. She released me to be free of what I was already free from. She allowed me to walk past the junk of life to experience forgiveness on this earth. She tangibly introduced me to grace.

Kat is not the first person that has ever extended me grace on this earth. She is, however, one of the first I've known to offer it freely to many. Kat took a major risk with me. She risked the possibility of being hurt by another guy...again. She didn't have to do that, but for Kat, that response isn't something that she has to try hard to do. It's who she is.

It reminds me of Jesus. Kat would be the first to stop me here, saying that she is in no way close enough to Jesus for me to write about...even on a nearly dead blog. But she would humor me...and so I continue. Jesus offers grace to those that despise him, to those that denounce his name--his very existence even. He offers life and freedom to people that may never know that they are already free to experience him directly, not living under any law revealing how they are commanded to obey him. What's best is that he offers you and I a daily grace that we can then extend to others with whom we may cross paths. This, and so much more, has drawn me to the woman who will be my future wife. This is grace and it's what BEING THE CHURCH is all about!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reflections from a Messy Christian #2

[Here's an excerpt from an email I sent a friend today. [The parentheses represent the only real additions to my original email.] I was curious to get more feedback about my thoughts here. To those reading, please let me know what you think!

I want to be honest with you about something. My road, though I have been a Christian for almost my entire life, has not been without many potholes, misdirections, and miscues. I'm assuming that doesn't come as a shock or surprise to the world is messy [and so are those in it]. However, I just want to lay it out there from the beginning that I'm far from perfect. I've made many mistakes, all of which I wish I could get back...but I'm grateful to the Lord for pulling me through and for allowing me to learn from my journey and keep going. I know I'm not really in a spot to start confessing my life's woes to you, but I don't want to give any mixed messages. I'm a sinner...saved by grace...and reveling in my redemption as often as I can. My favorite Scripture is from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Now I know that Paul wasn't talking about sin when he was talking about boasting here...but I think the premise is still true...that in the spots that we are weak, we need to be vocal. We need to express that only Jesus can get us through--that on my own I'm useless and weak. But that's not the end of the story (thanks be to God). After all, His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in weakness. His power is made perfect when we get out of the way and let Him work! Why is it so easy for sin to continue to own people...even those made new in Christ? Because they're trying to beat it on their own instead of putting Christ on display in their lives! Right? [...and ultimately, even you if disagree with my thoughts here. What would it hurt to put Jesus on display? Could we end up making a mistake by being honest about who we are and our need for Christ to indwell us daily--even (and I would say ESPECIALLY) the grossest parts of who we are?]

I hope you don't think I'm nuts--just passionate about my Lord. I want to live for Him more than anything, yet I fall so short so often it seems. I hope this email doesn't freak you out. It is very much I'm wired and how I think, so now you've seen more of my heart. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A New Year

I'm lying here tired from my day with my mind spinning--as usual. It's a new year and I want to live this one better than the last and screw up less and honor God more. I guess I feel overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed with desire to be a better person, a fuller man, a stronger Christian...and I feel the heaviness of not knowing where to start. I have so many flaws, so many hangups, so many sins (that so easily entangle) and it often feels like I have so little to offer. A new year but the same frustrations and struggles. I know I'm a new creation but I feel so very old.

Yet in the midst of my sobering thoughts, I find myself comforted that I am His. I have no more answers in this the start of 2007 than I had at the end of 2006, but I have my Lord...and He is enough for me. He doesn't feel like enough most days. He doesn't feel present in my struggles and frustrations very often. But I do trust that He is enough.

I'm wondering if I'm alone in feeling like this and wanting to snap out of it and put some crafty spin on this that's motivating and captivating and...and yeah, you get it. I'm actually trying to find expressive words to make this sound better than it really is. :::smiles::: I'm a redeemed wretch, but I am His.

:::teary eyed::: I'm very thankful.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reflections from a Messy Christian

If I was going to write a book, this would be the title--Reflections from a Messy Christian. It's amazing to me that so many believers pretend to have it all together--all sorted out and tied up in a pretty bow. So many put on a happy face for Sunday morning, and their snazzy clothes, and they talk the usual Christianese...all the while hiding from what they're really feeling or wishing they could say or tell someone about. Why do so many messy Christians pretend to be all put-together?

I wish I had happy thoughts about church and how it helps people. Right now I don't. I've seen so many times that the church shuns the messy people--they're not welcome. They're asked to leave or change or are not allowed to step foot inside a place that is supposed to love and care about people. Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you." How many people did Jesus shun or turn away? How many people didn't feel good enough to be near Him or not welcome around Him? NONE. Jesus surrounded Himself with a motley crew of guys who were basically nobodys by the worlds standards. These men, He would later call His disciples. Jesus welcomed tax collectors and prostitues--those shunned by the wold but important to Him. He welcomed children, whose presence was seen as a bother or burden--even to His disciples. To me, Jesus' mandate to love as He loved is clear. We need to follow His lead and love the messy people.

I wish that church could be the safest place on earth for messy people to be. It's just not. As a result, many people are not welcome and many more become pretenders...just to be able to fit into the shiny environment that they so long to be a part of. Me? I've pretended for a long time...but long for a place where I can be me and come with all my issues--big and small--to a place that draws out healing and life and the Spirit of the Living God in one another. I don't want to be a part of a shiny church, I want to be part of a community that is real and raw and life-giving. The early church was a place where people were drawn--it was a contagious place. Today's church is a place where the messy people know that they're not welcome so they don't even try to go, and even more play the pretend game to try to find comfort in a place where they are never really known. I'm not a cynic--I long for revival and life in the church and I believe it is possible. But it is possible only if we're willing to confront our weaknesses and stop pretending to be all put-together. We have to acknowledge that we are messy believers who don't have it all figured out, and we have to have that modeled from the leadership of our churches. Brokeness and humility and weakness are not signs of a bad Christian or a bad leader, they're signs of a real Christian--a real leader. So what are we afraid of?

I don't know about you, but I'm drawn to the idea of messy Christians openly acknowledging their messiness and their need for their Savior. That's me, as best I can describe myself: a messy Christian who is daily in desperate need of his Savior.