Category Archives: Faith

What is True Faith? 2 Illustrations 1 Step

Several years ago I worked with a gentleman who was trying to explain to me what his understanding of faith was.

He said, ”Richard, faith is like this. You walk up to a wide, fast flowing river. It is so wide and moving so fast that there is no way across it. But God has directed you to cross at that point in the river. So you pray, ‘God you told me to cross right here so give me some rocks to step on to get across this river.’” My friend continued, “When you have faith like that God will give you the rocks to step on and make it across where He directed you to.”

I thanked my friend for this illustration of faith. But I disagreed with him on one point. I still disagree with him on one point.

Faith is like walking up to a wide and fast moving river with no way across. You know God has directed you across this way but it seems impossible. So you pray,”God show me a rock to step on.” God responds with, “Take the step.” Again you say, “God show me a rock to step on.’ Again God says, “Take the step.”

This debate goes on and on until you realize that to be faithful; to have faith, you have to take the step. My point to my friend and my point to you is, faith is taking the step even when it seems like you will sink into the river and be swept away by the current.

Here it is. The payoff. The outcome of truly stepping in faith. As you step out in faith your foot catches a rock below the surface of the river. Yes your foot may get a little wet but you do not sink into the river. You aren’t swept away. God has you the whole time.

That is faith. Not in yourself but in God your creator. True faith.

Today, you may be facing a huge decision. God has directed you to take a step of faith, but you cannot see any rocks to step on. God asks you to step and God will provide a place for your foot to land.  

I challenge you with the thought. Where has God asked you to step out in faith but you are waiting for the path to be shown? How can you take that first step of faith?  

Stepping into a river with no place to stand seems crazy, especially to people in the world. Such is the case with decisions we are asked to make as followers of Christ. Sometimes, God asks us to do things that seem crazy to the world. We must obey.

I would love to hear what decisions you are facing. Start the conversation below.

While you are here, check out this weeks video:

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DEPRESSED: 20 IDEAS

  1. Seek help. You cannot fight this alone.
  2. Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Do something for someone else. Often, depression causes us to only focus on ourselves. Find a way to do something for someone else.
  4. Try to get the focus off of yourself. I know this is hard.
  5. Pray.
  6. Read your Bible.
  7. Pray some more.
  8. Go see your medical doctor.
  9. Pray some more. Do not give up.
  10. Find a friend you can trust. Talk to them.
  11. Exercise –  Take a 15 minute walk around the block first thing EVERY morning.
  12. Journal. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. Try to keep track of the things that trigger your depression. If you are not a writer then draw.
  13. Talk to a counselor. It can help tremendously to just talk to someone about how you are feeling.
  14. Find a hobby. Take up something creative like painting, or photography. This will get you up and going.
  15. Set some goals. Depression can leave you hopeless. Write down some simple goals each day. Celebrate when you accomplish those goals each day.
  16. Write yourself a list of positive affirmations. Read them each day. Or better yet record them on your phone and listen to them each morning.
  17. Make and keep a routine. Depression causes us to check out. Create for yourself a routine and  stick with it. This can bring about a feeling of daily accomplishment that helps.
  18. Read some books. Read books that are positive and encouraging. Read books that teach you about your struggle.
  19. Pray without ceasing. Sometime it seems that God does not care when we are suffering. That is just not true. Keep seeking Him and you will find Him.
  20. Do a personal check and make sure there is no besetting sin in your life. Did you hurt someone that you need to apologize to? Are you involved in a secret sin that you struggle with? Search your soul. Often a hidden sin can be the cause of a deep depression. If the Holy Spirit identifies one in your life confess it and start the healing process.

These are some of the things that have helped me over that last several months. Feel free to comment some other ideas or let me know if I missed on some of these.
You are not alone in your fight against the darkness of depression. Join the conversation.  

This Weeks Message:

8 Ways To Help a Friend Suffering with Depression

A 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20 percent of young people with diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment. That means that many of your friends in class and on campus who struggle with depression and other mental disorders are not getting help.

Combine that with another survey that suggests that 1 in 5 students has considered the possibility of suicide and we have a lot of hurting people around us. You may know some of these who are hurting. You may have experienced a friend that wanted to commit suicide.

What did you do?

How did you handle the situation?   

Were you able to help?

I hope you were able to provide help to this friend that was hurting. But some of you may not know what to do. I wanted to provide for you some ways to help a friend or friends who are suffering under the weight of depression.

Here is a list of some ideas. Feel free to leave a comment and add some other ideas if you have them.

  1. Be there to listen. Make conversations about what they’re going through easy and open. Ask them what you can do – find out what they find helpful during tough times. Make sure you acknowledge they are feeling down but try and remain positive and encouraging. Send them notes of encouragement. Send them texts to help them get through the day.
  2. Choose when to talk. If you want to bring up a sensitive issue with someone, try and choose a time when you are both relaxed.
  3. Accept their condition. If someone is suffering from symptoms of depression, it isn’t possible for them to just snap out of it, cheer up, or forget about it. Asking them to do this can come across like you’re not taking their feelings seriously and could upset them. It is difficult for someone who has never been through depression to understand what it is like. If there was an instantaneous solution the person would have already done that to be well. It just does not work that way. Add an extra measure of compassion when you are helping a person suffering from depression.
  4. Get informed. Finding out more info about depression might help you better understand what someone is going through. There are various website, books, and blogs that can help you become informed about the situation your friend is in.
  5. Encourage them to get help. If you have a friend with depression, it’s really important that they seek help. It is a good first step to have them speak with their counselor if you are on a school campus. It is also a good idea to have them visit their medical doctor. Sometimes there are some real physical problems that can cause depression. If no solution is found down that avenue then their medical doctor can help them take the next step. If they are uncomfortable you might offer to go with them as an encouragement and support system.
  6. Back down if they aren’t ready. If you think a friend needs to visit an expert but they didn’t respond well to the suggestion, don’t force the issue or put too much pressure on them – it could put them off getting help. Remain supportive by offering help and suggestions when asked.
  7. The exception to #6 is if you think someone may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. In this case it’s important that you seek help immediately.
  8. Finally, remember that depression is hard to explain and often a very lonely experience. When you are there to support a friend just by being available it can have a tremendous impact in their lives. Never underestimate the importance of just being there.

What other ideas do you have? How can you better help a friend who is going through a dark period in life?
Feel free to comment.

This Weeks Message:

13 Reasons Why (5 Reasons to Live)

As many of you know the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why launched on March 31. Since then it has gained a lot of attention from teens and parents to educators and politicians. There are some very important conversations taking place because of this series.

We could argue all day long about the content of the series and the level of appropriateness of the material provided in the series. I do not want to do that. What I would like to do is point out a main concern of mine. My concern is that this series will normalize this behavior among your generation. Well, maybe not so much normalize that act of suicide, but normalize the possibility of suicide. When something becomes a possibility in the mind the action is easier to take. I do not want that to happen for you.  I do not want suicide to become a valid option for escape. There are other solutions.

A secondary concern that I have for those viewing this series is the series dismisses personal responsibility. How? It is in the premise of the show. Hannah sends cassette tapes to the 13 people who caused her suicide. Each of the 13 people receives a tape that says “Welcome to your tape {Name Inserted Here}” Hannah blames these 13 people for her suicide. Clearly, this dismisses her own personal responsibility in her suicide. Society does not teach it and many try to ignore it but you are responsible for your actions. Even when people are being cruel, evil, hateful and ugly, you are responsible for the actions that you take. We cannot allow this series to suggest otherwise.

Certainly, I do not want to make light of all that happened to Hannah in her young life. This young lady had to endure so much in her life. More than anyone should have to. But that still does not make suicide the best option. Suicide should never be an option at all.

Because of that I want to provide 5 Reasons to Live.

Here is the truth. Suicide is the number 3 killer of teens and college students in our country today. A recent survey found that 1 in 5 high schoolers has thought about committing suicide. ONE IN FIVE!

This is certainly an issue that we must talk about. And if nothing else 13 Reasons Why has opened up that conversation.

Maybe you have found this blog and you are having a tough time right now. Maybe you have considered suicide. Maybe someone has hurt you deeply and you just want out. Please don’t do that. Please get help. Talk to an adult or a friend.  If you want you can email me anonymously and we can talk. Email: contact@sameshirtyesterday.com

Here are 5 reasons to live:

  1. You are an image bearer. Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him male and female He created them.” Being created in the image of God does not mean that you look like God in body (because God is not confined to a body) but that you show His image in His moral attributes. What does that mean? We, as humans, display God’s attributes like love, joy, peace, holiness, truth, etc. in this world. I realize that I am speaking in ideal terms. But you must know that you bear the image of God in the attributes that you display to others.
  2. You are loved. 1 John 4:9 “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” Two things here. 1. The love of God. The word used here for love is the word used to express unconditional love. It is a love based NOT on family affections, romantic passions, or fondness. God loves you with NO conditions. 2. God sent His son so that you might live. God’s unconditional love, expressed through the giving of His Son, is the only avenue for life. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, you can have life.   
  3. You are a masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them.” The word here workmanship makes reference to an artist creating a masterful work of art. You have been created by the great artist as a masterpiece. A portrait that takes time and focus and care to create. As a masterpiece you are cared for during and after the creation process. God, your creator, longs for you to understand just how important you are to Him.
  4. You have something to offer. So many times when you are struggling through the clouds of mental darkness you become very self focused. But when you realize there are others out there that need help and you begin to provide for them in simple ways then you realize “Life is not quite as bad as I thought.” You have time, talent, and resources to offer. Go and make a difference for someone else.  
  5. Future Relationships. At this point in your life you may feel like no one cares. You may feel like nobody wants to know you. But here is the truth. You will make new relationships as you move to different stages of life. Things will change. You will find people that love you and that you can love. There are what? 8 billion or 9 billion people in the world. I’m sure you can find someone. Change your circumstances. Change your outlook. Change your circle of relationships and you will see some new possibilities.

The purpose of this post is simple. You have options. There are so many options other than suicide.

Here I came up with five reasons to live. You should sit down and write down as many more reasons to live that you can think of. Nothing is too small. It could be that your dog or cat will miss you. Or that your parents will have no one to take the trash out for them. Write them all down so that you can begin to see all the reasons, big and small, that you have to live.

And once again I say. Do not keep it a secret. Get help. Talk to an adult. Or talk to 10 adults if you have to. Just find someone who will listen. You can email me and we can talk: contact@sameshiryesterday.com.

God Bless and Never Give Up!

This Weeks Message:

Planting Mars [Ep. 009] – You Find What You Look For

In this episode I lay out the verse that I have been challenged with for this year.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Will you join me in seeking the Lord in 2017. I have a feeling that we will come to know Him like we never have before.

At the end of the episode I offer an opportunity to join me in seeking the Lord together this year through an intense discussion group. I am calling it Preparation For Launch. Together, we will read through the entire Bible this year. We will watch some videos together that give us a better understanding of the Scripture. We will have a closed discussion group on facebook to share what the Lord is doing through this year.

If you would like to be a part of Preparation For Launch you can do one of three things. 1.) Comment below, 2.) comment on the Same Shirt Facebook site or 3.) email me at contact@sameshirtyesterday.com

I will leave it open until next Friday, January 13. Then we will get started.

Here are links to the resources we will be using.

Year of biblical Literacy

The Bible Project

 

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Here are a few thought on overcoming the lions that you face today.

You should read the book.

 

 

Good morning welcome to thoughts from my office on this cold December Day It is a few days until Christmas but my thought isn’t about Christmas today. It’s about a book I’ve been reading. The book is called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. If you get a chance to find a copy of this pick it up. It’s challenging, it’s encouraging and I will share the main premise of the book with you today.

I picked it up at Mardels on the dollar discount rack and it laid on my shelf for about 3 weeks before I picked it up and started reading it. It has really helped me see some things in my life that I  have allowed to consume or control me. There are fears that I must overcome. A lot of this kind of fear causes us to stagnate and sit there.

So I want to share with you the premise of the whole book. It is based and second Samuel chapter 23 verse 20 Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever read that before. Maybe you read through the Bible and read that verse. I’ve read through the Bible many times in the past and never really thought much about it But this man jumped into a pit with a lion on a snowy day and defeated the lion we are told. And then becomes the commander of King David’s army a significant achievement for him. This man is barely mentioned in a few verses of scripture and this whole book it is based on that verse or that’s the theme or the premise of the book.

It’s a great thought to think about today and specifically we talk about fears that we have. These fears that control us. When I  look in the eyes of a lion my response is to turn and run the opposite direction. But not this man. He looked at the lion and chased it down and defeated it. And sol there are lions in our lives today. There are lions in my life that I’m fearful of. That I’m scared of. That I’ve been actually running the opposite direction of and I’m sure you’re the same way as well. So this book, th is the scripture challenges us to look at lion in the eyes and chase it down. And he goes on to say in the book to say that you may be defeated. You will be defeated at times when you chase lions but those are times that you grow.  Those are times you become faithful and those are times that you begin the conquering of those fears. The overcoming of those fears and ultimately the point is that God has called us to do some tremendous things that were too scared of. And how we we don’t jump in the pit on a snowy day with a lion. Which is just crazy. That is three things stacked against you, a lion, in a pit for you can’t run away, and snow. It’s cold and you can’t walk very well you can get good traction all those things when you’re battling a lion.

So my question for you today what fears are you battling and what is it that you need to look in the eye, trust the Lord in it, and go forward in it.

No so often we talk about fear like you can overcome your fear on your own. But ultimately that’s not the truth the truth is that by God’s power, his grace, his mercy, he helps you walk through and into those fears. He helps you face lions and move forward. So I hope these words are encouraging for you today as the Lord has called us to some tremendous things as we step out and take advantage of that opportunity.

Be faithful to do what he has called us to do even when it’s hard. Even when it looks like a big giant lion. Let’s go do it today. Have a great day. God bless!

What is a Moonshot?

A moonshot, in a technology context, is an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits.

Google has adopted the term moonshot for its most innovative projects, many of which come out of the Google X, the company’s semi-secret lab. Google moonshots include Google Glass, Project Loon (a balloon-based Internet service project), the driverless car, augmented reality glasses, a neural network, robots for the manufacturing industry and Project Calico, a life extension project.

Here’s Google’s definition of a moonshot:

A project or proposal that:

Addresses a huge problem
Proposes a radical solution
Uses breakthrough technology

 

The term “moonshot” derives from the Apollo 11 spaceflight project, which landed the first human on the moon in 1969. “Moonshot” may also reference the earlier phrase “shoot for the moon” meaning aim for a lofty target.

 

This Definition comes from whatis.techtarget.com

Is The Church Ready for Robots?

Over the next five years, as we see more automated machines take human jobs are we prepared for that as the church? You may think it’s a silly question at this point in 2016. But I think it’s a very important question that we need to ask now. We need to be asking and answering these tough  questions today so that we can be prepared for the arrival of these new technologies.

If you do not think it is a possibility for new robotics technologies to take more and more human jobs then check out the following video from Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that is now owned by Google. The machines they have created are amazing to say the least. The following video shows just one of their creations.

Now are you thinking, “WOW I didn’t realize there was a machine that was so human like?” A time is coming when people will lose their jobs  to machines that are more efficient, can work 24/7, don’t need to be paid, nor do they require food or breaks. What will we do as the church when this happens? 

An article published in September on theguardian.com titled “Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says” estimates that by the year 2021 6% of the US workforce could be eliminated due to automation. That is 6% of the entire US Workforce. The article says that this “disruptive tidal wave” will affect areas such as customer service, transportation, and logistics. People who have been working in these industries for many years will lose their jobs and will either need to be retrained or look for work in other Industries. It is staggering to think that 6% of the US Workforce will lose their jobs to automation by 2021.  

Are you prepared to minister to 6% of your local community who just lost their jobs?  Are you prepared to lose 6% of those persons who give to your church financially?  Are you prepared to help these people who have lost their jobs and have limited specialized skills to find new avenues of work?

According to experts that is only the beginning.  What do we do 2030  when 15% to 20% of the workforce has been displaced by automated machines? 

Interestingly the article says, “The challenge posed by automation is not being taken seriously enough at a policy level, Stern added. ‘Politicians would rather talk about getting a college degree and technical skill training, things that are probably five to 10 years too late. We don’t really have a plan and we don’t appreciate how quickly the future is arriving.”

“…we don’t appreciate how quickly the future is arriving.” Is the article about politicians or about the church? In my opinion the church is more like 20 to 25 years behind the curve.  We need to be ready. We need to be thinking, planning, and preparing. We need to be taking action.

As further evidence another article in the Washington Post titled The Brave New World of Robots and Lost Jobs says, “Politicians need to begin thinking boldly, now, about a world in which driverless vehicles replace most truck drivers’ jobs, and where factories are populated by robots, not human beings. The best way to cushion this future is to start planning for how Americans will be able to take care of their families — and find meaningful work — in a world where most traditional jobs have vanished.”

That same article suggests that “The “automation bomb” could destroy 45 percent of the work activities currently performed in the United States, representing about $2 trillion in annual wages, according to a study last year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. We’ve seen only the beginning of this change, they warned. Currently, only 5 percent of occupations can be entirely automated, but 60 percent of occupations could soon see machines doing 30 percent or more of the work.” I’m not sure if you read that or not but we are going from 6% of the workforce to 45%.  If 6% was not staggering enough this research suggests almost half or the US workforce will be without work.

I don’t want to belabor the point but we must plan for the future.

Is this something you have ever thought about? Is this something you have prepared for?

I’m not offering any solutions at this point, I may do that later. Right now I would like to suggest two possible outcomes. Now these are only two outcomes that come to mind. There are probably many more. I would love to hear your feedback.

Here’s what I’m thinking at this point:

  1. The church sees people losing their jobs to automation and isn’t prepared for it. This in turn has two outcomes of its own.
    1. There is an abundance of ministry opportunities as families are hurting and looking for ways to provide for their basic needs.
    2. There is a significant reduction in financial giving to the church and ministries have to be cut to the bare bones. This may include the loss of current church buildings and meeting places as well as a significant reduction in staff.
    3. Therefore the church falters in its ability to minister.

It will be interesting to see, if this happens, how the church responds.

Or, and I do not want to try to place spin on this but I do not see this outcome as entirely negative. Here is what I mean. If churches have had to reduce their staffing to the bare minimum then the personal ministry will be reverted back to the individual members of the congregations. This will be a good thing as it will help Christ followers take up the task they were called to do.

As churches have gone through the process of reduced income they will have had to identify the absolute necessities for ministry (Unless one of your church members owns all of the robots). That is a really good thing. That means, well I hope it means, that churches will have gotten in their Bibles and prayed to God to identify what it is that they are supposed to be doing and then put all of their limited resources toward that ministry.

I think the church then begins to look a lot like an Acts 2:42 church, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

In no way am I trying to make light of a situation where so many people have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. I am simply saying that one of the possible outcomes is the church gets back to being the church. This would be a good thing in my opinion.

2) The church is prepared for a situation like this and stands out as an embassy of love and hope.

Just think about the opportunity to step in and show love to all of these people who have lost their jobs and were not prepared for it. It will take a lot of planning and preparation but if we start now we can be ready.

Being prepared means we have thought through how to minister to many people who are looking for work. Being prepared means we consider how the church can be a part of reeducating these workers into new areas of work. Being prepared means we have already taken a hard look at our ministries and identified the essential aspects of ministry as opposed to the nonessential.

The list can go on and on. I know that the church in the US has a lot of problems as it is that we are working through. But I see the next 5-10 years of technological advancement potentially as a defining moment for the church. It is a defining moment that we are just not ready for at this point.

Like I said before, I see it potentially as an opportunity to get back to the task of being the church. Winning the lost, making disciples, fellowshipping together, praying, and showing Christ to a lost and dying world.  

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.