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Author Archives: Cory

Jesus Doesn’t Belong In Church

Photo Credit: astrid westvang (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: astrid westvang (Creative Commons)

Jesus doesn’t belong in church, and if you understand the church as the ekklesia, a gathering of believers, here’s why. I observe individuals who only partake of Jesus on Sundays, and outside of the Sabbath, there isn’t much attention to living a lifestyle that vibrantly represents Jesus. Furthermore, if people are being intentional about Jesus outside of Sundays, they usually still gather with the church, in a body of common believers, discussing or studying him over coffee time or in a group setting at home.
And that’s great, but if we only keep Jesus in the ekklesia, how will we carry out his heart for the poor, the spreading of the gospel to the nations, the loving of the lost and the sinners? I mightily believe in the church gathering as a place to be built up and filled, but I more so believe in it as a weaponized cannon—building you, filling you, and then launching you out to do something with your faith.

If we allow Jesus to only exist in the church, then I’m afraid we have created a faith that is expendable, like a lifeless, forgotten toy on a shelf that will never be used to its full capacity.

I’m also afraid Jesus wouldn’t show up to church on Sundays today. I’ve spoken at over 30 churches in the past two years and it’s strange to me how often people like to listen but struggle to implement, religiously attend but are easily offended.
When I speak about Jesus in church, the radical drop your nets and follow me and flip some tables Jesus—not the kind and merciful Jesus, I get lots of wide eyes, huffing and puffing, and pats on the hand afterwards for it “being a good message, but hard to apply today”.

Are you serious?!

(Begin Rant) What do you see when you read the Bible then? Do you skip over every command and call to action Jesus gives? What’s the purpose of your faith? What are you even doing with it? How do you reason with yourself to keep your faith within walls? No where in the Bible does it desire for you to have an easy life, a comfortable journey, or a glorious position, but instead desires you to have an effective faith. In fact, if you want to be comfortable and make life about you, don’t go to church stirring up apathy and downgrading the duties of that church from action to inaction because “Jesus had to be radical then, but there’s no need for that anymore” (End Rant).
Jesus didn’t visit the temple often when he was on earth because of this very reason. The Pharisees, the religious, comfortable gurus, would hate on Jesus because he was “too radical”, and ashamedly, many in the church would say the same to Jesus today if he visited.
And that’s why Jesus brought his ministry to the hills, to the in-betweens, to the crowd that was longing for action and willing to take risks to see Jesus’ words become tangible truth. 
Jesus cannot belong solely in the church, he cannot exist only in your being, this we already have, but what shall we do with it? I pray you answer, “Take it outside the church, bring it to the ends of the earth.”

Stop Losing Friends Because of Your Love Life

I just read a Tweet from @GoogleFacts that said, “An average of 2 friends are lost every time someone falls in love,” and thought to myself…that shouldn’t happen.

But it does, because we place the obsession of one person’s love above the steadfast love of our many friends.

Photo Credit: Dragon Todorovic (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Dragon Todorovic (Creative Commons)

It amazes me how easily we ditch friends the moment a potential love affair enters our sights. We bail on Bachelor evenings and bro nights, we skip a study session or workout, all to spend time with a new interest. Then we go as far as to keep the boy or girl that caught our attention away from our friends for far too long before we actually allow them to meet because… “I didn’t want to introduce them without them being the real deal” or whatever excuse comes to mind.

And that’s why we lose friends over love—because erotic love outshadows agape love. Because we think some new fling is more important than a lifelong friendship. Because we think we must play to the emotional and physical needs of our love interest rather than support, enjoy, and journey with our best friends. 

If you do any relationship right, you should never lose friends.

Remember all those heartbreaks where your friends let you cry on their shoulder or complain to them or say “I told ya so”? Well, your friends know you pretty well and if you want to gauge if the next person you want to date is worth it, make them hang out with your friends within the first couple dates. You’ll get the honest feedback you need right away from your friends rather than discovering it months later on your own.

I think dating is all wrong when we create a fantasy for ourselves to date in. It can happen in two ways:
#1: We create a world where we can date this person and not let them near anyone else—no friends, parents, coworkers involved.
#2: We become someone we’re not—city girls become country gals, the non-athletes become sport heroes, the nice become naughty.

If we create a world for our dating to exist outside the actual world we live in, the relationship is bound to fail because reality is the only place dating can survive.

You have to be you. You need to pull dating into your life rather than leave your life for dating. Friends and family are forever, dating rarely is. I think the quickest way to see if the person you’re dating is a lifetime investment, is by showing them your life, raw and real. Ask them to come to game night, invite them to a family birthday party, make them go to Hot Yoga or hang with the guys for a night. That’s how you keep your friends and that’s how you keep dating real.

Love Now, Not Later

Photo Credit: Jessy Rone, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Jessy Rone, Creative Commons

I’ve held a lot of grudges because of one moment of interaction with someone else. I’ve never met them or hardly know them and they do that?! Judged. Although the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a common warning, I find it a struggle to follow. One look, word, or action and we choose to classify people into a genre—punk, druggie, loser, sappy, too happy, too nice, fake, jerk-face. Why are we using one moment to define a lifetime?

Honestly, you’re just like me, we’re not perfect in every moment of every day. Emotions are a funny thing—they roar in some moments and are balanced in others. Sometimes anger and sadness outweigh happiness and joy.

If we choose one moment to define people for a lifetime, we are missing out on their story and ignoring their pain.

Whether you know the individual intimately, cordially, or briefly, one moment shouldn’t define your love towards them. Love is a free gift meant for the happy and the hurt. Interactions can give you clues into who the person is, but behind the mask and inside the human is a world constructed from a lifetime of battles and attempted recovery. Your love can pull them through.

We tend to offer more grace to momentary mess-ups with those we know well and cast more judgment on those we don’t—but shouldn’t the scales of grace be equal?

One moment is not enough to categorize an individual into a group you “don’t want to deal with,” because it’s a cop out to not have to work at loving someone. Isn’t it interesting how we like to love when it’s easy but struggle to love when it’s hard?

Jesus was great at tough love. How many times did he have to correct Peter before he became the rock the church was built on? How many moments did he tell the disciples to quit being jerks and let the children and the sick come to him so he could heal them? And—how great his love was when he knowingly let Judas betray him, extending his grace to the sinner and sacrificing himself for the world.

I think God puts tough moments in our life daily, watching how well we will love when it’s difficult.

When it comes to people we don’t know well, we need to choose any moment that comes our way, good or bad, to be the presence of love. There are too many factors we don’t know about the person to write them off and withhold something God has commanded us to give.

In every interaction today, choose to embrace the weird, risk the uncomfortable, connect with the impossible and be love in the moment to share grace with a lifetime you’re not sure of…yet.

Why Singleness Brings You Closer to God Than Being in a Relationship Ever Will

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Admittedly, I have been in a lot of relationships throughout my life. Some were popularity moves and comforts (those darn high school years) and others were pursuits of the daunting Christian journey of finding “the one.” And now I’m 26, had three breakups in the past two years, and realizing how much closer I am to God when I’m single rather than when I’m in a relationship.

It shouldn’t be that way.

I wrote the Ebook Why Christian Relationships Fail and How to Make Yours a Success two years ago; although the content is filled with my relationship stories, lessons, and helpers, for some reason, my relationships are still failing, even the one with the big guy upstairs.

I always thought Paul was crazy when he told people not to marry in 1 Corinthians chapter 7—all I have ever desired in life is to be married— it’s the ultimate Christian christening. But the more I live and get my heart broken and grovel in the mess of my life, I find that the journey out of relational brokenness and into singleness grows my relationship with God more than it ever did when I was in the relationship.

In verse 32 Paul relays, “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs-how he can please the Lord. A married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-how he can please his wife-and his interests are divided.”

I’ve never been married, but I have been in a lot of relationships where this statement is still true. Reflecting on my time in and out of a relationship, I find that I always trust God and pursue God more when single than I ever do while in a relationship. Paul is spot on—our concerns change once a significant other is involved. 

We are more worried about why she didn’t text me back or why he chose to go out with his friends rather than come over and watch Netflix. We care more about how she is feeling and how he is doing and connecting on a euphoric level that makes us day dream of wedding bells than we ever do about how our relationship with God is going.

Married couples tell me similar concerns arise too—jobs, money, kids, drama, and problems often take a higher priority than focusing on a relationship with God does.

And let’s be honest, we do a pathetic job of making God our first priority. Because he always should be, in or out of a relationship.

I do love the benefits that relationships offer when God is pursued first, when every problematic blip on the relationship radar is approached with God’s love, God’s guidance, and God’s Word. People grow into God and into each other when relationships are operated that way.

Even so, we have a solo journey that we will always adventure, and it’s the personal pursuit of God. While in a relationship, we need to long for God more than we long for our other. We need to be right with God, before we can be right with our other. And if we can’t do that, then maybe we shouldn’t be in a relationship, because a rough relationship with God will bring a rough relationship with those we love.

In my singleness, I feel God closer, I notice him more often, he is a life-spring of everything that I’ve searched for in a significant other. I understand why God’s role in my life changes in a relationship, and I also understand why in the future I’m never letting that happen again. 

Instead, I’ll tell the girl I fancy that she can come along for a lifelong pursuit of Christ, but that I don’t need her, cuz I’ve got Jesus. And I hope in return, she’ll tell me the same thing, “I don’t need you either, cuz I’ve got Jesus.”

Why I Always Come Back to Jesus Even When I Don’t Want To

Photo Credit: Alberto Brunello, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Alberto Brunello, Creative Commons

Jesus is many things to many people—a conversation-starting tattoo, comforter in trouble, good luck charm, master of all plans, that “guy with the cross”, and everything in-between. Even the various Christian denominations and non-Christian religions can supply a twist on who Jesus is to them. 

I’ve been the annoying kid in Sunday school who knew every answer, the gutsy teen who spoke at his own youth group, the exemplary college kid who everyone knew was a Christian, even been the gung-ho young adult who preached in churches and led his own mission trips. Now I’m 25, burnt out and derailed at a quarter life crisis, and wondering if I even know Jesus—any form of him.

Jesus has always been the answer for every problem I’ve run into—and you’ve probably felt the same. Not necessarily that I looked to him to be the solution right away, but others around me assured he was the remedy, like Robitussin is to a cough—you just need a particular dose and everything will be alright.

Life has brought a lot my way—axed friendships spiced with bitterness, rotting relationships soaked in emotional discord, wayward paths full of messy mistakes, unexplainable loss of identity and worth. Again, you’ve probably experienced some of those yourself, as well as other scenarios full of turmoil. But doesn’t it seem repetitive that Jesus is the cure-all?

I think that’s how a lot of Millennialls feel—Jesus has always been the answer, but with him life’s problems aren’t always fixed. That’s why it’s so easy to shove faith aside in moments of despair. Even with Jesus the pain isn’t lessened, the time frame for hurt doesn’t get cut in half, you still have to journey through it.

When life brings a punch, we feel the weight of emotions pressing us into darkness. It is in this place we wrestle with solutions. Our flesh longs for instant relief and wobbles between help from God and a pursuit of pleasure. At the root of us all we are searching for meaning—the “whys” of every happening. And it’s in the darkest moments people offer Jesus, and yet, our humanness screams for something else, something tangible.

As a 25 year Christian who has preached on the lows and helped many people through them, my darkest moments question God’s ability to heal. When friends and family drop words of hope and reassurance of Christ into my lap, I push them away, because Jesus has always been the answer, he is the answer I give to others, but when you’re the one at the bottom of the pit—Jesus doesn’t seem to hold the solution.

And yet, God calls us to him when:

  •      we need help (Psalm 46:1-3)
  •      we are weary or burdened (Matthew 11:28-29)
  •      we need power and strength (Isaiah 40: 29-31)
  •      we need peace (Proverbs 1:33)
  •      we need forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
  •      we are worried (Matthew 6:25-32)
  •      we need wisdom (James 1:5)

He’s promised to be there for everything.

I’m not sure what keeps us from believing his promises in moments of dangerous lowness. We can blame satan, but maybe it’s a lack of faith. Maybe it’s the struggle against flesh and spirit or our inability to see beyond what is happening right then and there. Whatever the reason, the toss-up of giving Jesus a chance is what splits those who continue a life for Christ or one without him.

I’ve been there, too, moments where I utter, “I’m giving up. I’m done. This is all a hoax and always has been.” Even so, I keep choosing Jesus, but I haven’t always been sure why.

I do know that we have to doubt before we can believe in anything. That’s how you develop trust. And in moments of doubt, Jesus has always followed through and his promises have always remained, I’ve just been the one who ignores them.

I also know that when the world seems like it’s ending, hope still exists, even if I don’t want to believe it. Even in our darkest moments—we all have a future. Finding the light again sucks, but the process of growth that occurs is unforgettable.

Furthermore, Jesus isn’t a magical elixir, he isn’t an instant fix for all your problems, and we can’t expect him to be.

Jesus is a companion. One who has faced every temptation and walked a journey full of highs and lows. He, unlike many others, is willing to go round and round with you through them, too.

You may not feel him, you may not want to believe that he can help, but he’s the only person I know that doesn’t shove you out of his life because of mistakes, apathy, uncertainty, or deficiency.

And that’s what keeps me coming back, whether I want to or not.

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