To My Black Brothers and Sisters

I love you.

I am for you.

And I hurt deeply with you this morning.

This is not the first time I have felt this way, but I realize I might not have been as clear and vocal with you about it before.

Honestly, it's because I assumed you knew.

I assumed you saw my heart.

I assumed that most people aren't really that hateful or racist.

And I assumed wrong.

For the first time in my life, I'm a little bit ashamed to be white.

In fact, I'm also horrified that we - as in those of us who call ourselves American - have misunderstood the meaning of freedom of speech and the extent that we are allowed to use it.

What happened in Charlottesville is evil. It is wrong. It is horrific.

And it shouldn't have been allowed.

I know I must sound naive. And it's partly why I am sometimes hesitant to say too much on a topic that I worry I don't know enough about.

But I do know that what I saw reported in Charlottesville crosses so many lines of decency and what's right.

I saw hatred so blatantly displayed in the name of freedom of speech and I was revolted.

I wasn't born in this country, so excuse me if I don't fully understand the concept of freedom, but it seems to me that there are some things that should never be allowed.

Like bullying.

And threatening.

And hatred.

And anger so deep it feels murderous.

Especially when it stems from a position of power.

Again, I may not be the smartest bulb in the package and to some of you, I might even sound a little bit on the late side expressing my disgust over what's happening to you, my dear black brothers and sisters.

But this is how I feel and I wanted you to know that, to know that you are not alone. That you are not unseen or ignored, and that there are many of us who stand by you completely.

And by the way, yes, I do consider you my brothers and sisters.

See, I believe we are all made in the image of God.

We are all brothers and sisters.

We are alike.

So I repeat from the bottom of my heart:

I love you.

I am for you.

And I hurt deeply with you this morning.

Sincerely,

One who is silent no more.


Today Is World Refugee Day

Hey. Today is World Refugee Day.

Check out this video we made that shows what we're doing to love God and love people. I think you'll love it!

https://vimeo.com/222218794

Learn more about our work here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 6.24.53 PM

 


Can Wonder Woman Save the World?

You ever try to run your world? 

And quickly realize you can't. You're a complete failure at it. You can't even get the basics right - or at least that's my story.

Then you stop long enough to look around you at the world at large and for a moment you're utterly astounded that things have come to this. Just this week:

Manchester. London. Egypt.

ISIS. Ramadan. Terrorism.

Kathy Lee. Donald Trump. And everyone else in between.

If there's one thing that has become evident to all of us it's this:

We are not in control.

It's not hard to comprehend why we long for a super hero - at this point any one will do. Even the staunchest chauvinists are intrigued by the concept of a woman super hero.

If Batman couldn't save the world maybe Wonder Woman will.

I tried to do a spinal tap on an 11 day old recently. I've been in practice for 15 years and can do this procedure in my sleep. Heck, I love this procedure.

I tried once, twice, and nothing. It was a bust and I felt like a complete failure.

I could hardly look the parents in the eyes as I filled them in.

I started my usual chain reaction of beating myself up on the head, of telling myself I'm good for nothing, a total loser.

The world and all its messes felt far away. I had my own personal disasters to tend to. I was too steeped in my own self pity to care about the rest of the world. I could fake it on twitter, but frankly, Manchester is a million miles away.

Where was my super hero when I needed one?

Then it hit me: somewhere along the way I'd bought into the lie that I'm supposed to be the super hero - the Wonder Woman who would sweep in and make everything better for everyone.

And when Wonder Woman fails - which she ultimately will - then what happens?

I am not in control and it hurts to admit it. It hurts my pride. It hurts my heart. And it hurts the people I'm desperately trying to help.

You ever try to run your world and fail so miserably you don't even want to be with yourself?

I usually have to get to the bottom of the pit before I have the unction to look up. And then it hits me.

I am not in control and it is the most intoxicating feeling in the world.

I don't have to fix everything all the time.

I don't have to have all the answers.

I don't have to be perfect.

I don't have to save the world.

But there is one who can.

There is a super hero among us. And He's waiting to save the world.

He's in control and no earthly mess will intimidate him.

No political argument will ever take Him down.

No terrorist will ever touch Him.

Ever wonder what grace is?

I'm learning that grace is the light that makes its way through the darkness when it feels like nothing else will.

Grace is that moment when you realize you're not in control and that it's the most liberating feeling in the world.

Dejection has a way of engulfing me when I lose control of my life.

Grace takes a deep breath and finally understands that help is closer than I think.

Grace hushes the whispering lies in my head and gives me another chance.

And I? Well I asked for another chance. 

And this time when I asked, I looked the parents in the eyes, unashamed.

I was not in control, but there is one who is.

I am not in control and it's the most intoxicating feeling in the world.

This time, when I stuck the needle in the back, I didn't do it alone. I had a super hero beside me and everything would be all right.

And everything was all right.

Are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders today?

Maybe it's time for you to admit:

You are not in control and it's the most intoxicating feeling in the world.

There is a King is among us. Our super hero is here. Whether you're neck deep in your own messes or carrying the weight of the rest of the world on your shoulders, it's time to step aside and watch our superhero do it again.

Watch him save the world. Watch him save your world. Watch him do it again.

There's a song I've been addicted to. It's called "The King Is Among Us". I sums up what I'm trying to say.  Why don't you take a minute and listen to it right now? I have a feeling you'll love it.

https://youtu.be/ZxqrQao3eOw

Hey, don't forget that Morning Minutes is up and running and it's been AWESOME! Click here to listen to today's episode. Also don't miss the Faith Boosters on Youtube. We'll be dropping one in the next 24 hours. Look for it! 


Some Pretty Awesome Updates For You!

I have been itching to tell you what I'm about to tell you today.

#1 Morning Minutes Is Coming Next Week

What are Morning Minutes, you might be wondering? Don't worry. I made a video to tell you all about it (see below), but the bottom line is that it's awesome and it's coming next week. Here's your chance to study the Bible in 5 minutes each morning. And it's free. Subscribe today. Trust me. In my opinion, this is the best project I've developed in my ministry thus far.

#2 Faith Boosters are up and running

You might have heard about the #FaithBoosters by now, or maybe even watched a few. Here are some links. These babies are meant to boost your faith and encourage you. I'll be posting them as fast as I make them. You can subscribe to Youtube and not miss one!

#3 The Change Series is Coming Soon

I'm working on a 4 week teaching right now I'm calling The Change Series. You'll be hearing more about it soon. If you're longing for change in your life, this one is for you!

#4 Global Syrian Refugee Update
Chloe

Yeah, we're going back to Lebanon in September 8-15!  Our work there is just getting started. So far we've run 3 medical mission trips to Syrian Refugees. In April we saw 1047 patients and seen $8800 on meds. We raised a little over $9000. If you feel led to do it, we'd love for you to partner with us monthly! Just click here to do it!  In the meantime, meet my friend Chloe. She's 10 and she raised $1680 for us through her class to help fund the work we're doing. She's our hero today and here's her sweet face that is sure to put a smile on your face!

#5 Upcoming Speaking Events

If you're free this Friday night, I'm speaking at Compass Church in Naperville to Singles! I can't wait for what I've got to share. You can also check out my speaking page for a list of events. If you're looking for a speaker for next year, I'd love for us to connect!

Hey. That's all I've got for now!

Don't forget to sign up for Morning Minutes here and watch the video below to learn more! You're Gonna Love this I promise you (or your money back guaranteed!).


https://vimeo.com/218567455


13 Reasons Why I Hate 13 Reasons Why

I hope you never watch the show. I managed a whole 10 minutes before I shut it off and wish I hadn't wasted the time.

Here are 13 reasons why I hate 13 reasons why so much:

#1 Because of my Pediatric ER on any given night

Let me start by saying that I know a little bit about this topic. As a Pediatric ER doctor, I know teenage suicide firsthand. A typical night in the ER for me includes no less than 1 and regularly up to 6 teenage depression and suicidal evaluations. The age is getting younger and younger. The methods of attempts more and more convoluted. I'm the one looking at teens in the eyes with scars on their necks from hanging attempts and I'm the one trying to explain to parents what in the world just happened. So please keep reading.

#2 Because Teenage Suicide is real - not fiction

This year 5000 young people ages 15-24 will die by suicide. Every minute, a teen makes an attempt serious enough to require medical attention. Millions more think about it seriously enough to have a plan. Odds are you know someone ages 10-18 who is struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, cutting, or anxiety.  I should know. I take care of them daily.

#3 Because You Don't Gain Justice by Killing Yourself

Even the hint of the idea that a human gains any sort of justice by committing suicide should be horrific enough to make us stop. The truth is that most truly depressed teenagers can't think straight enough to devise any sort of letter scheme or plan to explain their actions. Their brains are hurting and death will not cure their pain.

#4 Because of the Effect the show has Had on Teenage Suicide

I'm told that since 13 reasons why was released on Netflix, the number of teenagers being seen in hospitals for suicidal thoughts and attempt has more than doubled. While you might think that there has been an increase in awareness of the issue, the sad reality is that the real reason that the numbers are increasing are much more sobering.

#5 Because the show glamorizes suicide

Yeah. Sadly, the show glamorizes suicide to such a degree that many who might never have considered it now do. I have seen this pattern over and over again in the ER. Teens come into the ER and ask to be admitted to the mental health hospital because of the sense of community and friendship they have found there. There is now an even darker bond achieved by a suicidal lifestyle that should scare us all.

#6 Because Suicide should never be Depicted as even an Option

It's not even an option. It shouldn't even be on the table. The truth is that a show about suicide puts suicide on the table - for everyone. This is tragic and heartbreaking. Netflix should be ashamed.

#7 Because of the Darkness it brings to people who need Light

Where there is darkness there must be light. To present a darkness while glossing over the light is harmful and evil. If there can be a redemptive option out of this dark show, it is in waking us Christians up and prodding us to be the light. Our world has never been darker. Let's shine for Jesus now. Let's shine right where we are. No more fear. Speak up. Love everyone. Be the light you are called to be.

#8 Because of the missing element of Hope

Even more than light is the need for hope. Hope is the belief that change is possible. For every person reading this post who feels the weight of despair, for every soul wondering if there could be a better day, and a freer way, the answer is a resounding YES!! Jesus loves you. He died for you. He is waiting to give you life with beauty and hope. Every scar on your arms, every tear shed, every hurt you've endured HE will redeem and use for good. Don't give up. There is a better way. Hope is alive. Change is possible.

#9 Because of the lie that makes it seem as if death is not final

If there's one common thread in the show, it's that even after suicide, the star of the show still speaks. While that might sound good, ask anyone who's lost someone to anything - death is final and suicide even more so in its method and pain. My mother's brother committed suicide when he was in college. I learned his name, but nothing else about him in my 45 years on this earth. Death, you see, particularly in suicide, is silent. Painfully silent.

#10 Because of the real lack of resources to deal with the avalanche of need

Have you ever tried to seek medical help for someone with mental health problems? To say it's hard is an understatement. On a typical busy ER night, we start off with 2 social workers to do mental health evaluations and after 7pm we lose one. On any given night we could have 10 patients in the ER waiting for 1 social worker to get them the help that they need. This is real life. If a show claims to help increase awareness of the issue of teenage suicide, let me ask you the next obvious question: who is working on getting more resources into the health care sector to deal with the need? Again, I call upon the church to rise up. Counselors, get training in adolescent depression and suicide and start speaking the truth. You are called for such a time as this.

#11 Because of the missing voice of truth to the show

If it sounds redundant it's not been said enough. There is truth. There is light in this world. There is a better way to live. There is healing to be had. A show that focuses on the problem without offering truth is evil. If you're reading this post and have a voice, speak up. Shout the truth from the mountaintops. If you don't, surely the rocks will do it.

#12 Because of the deepening divide it creates between teen and parent 

While many have written about the need for parents to watch the show with their kids, the reality is that like any other netflix series, watching this show is private and isolated. Some lucky parents might be privy to open discussions on this topic, but for the truly hurting, this is a luxury they are unfamiliar with. In my opinion, this show simply widens the huge schism between parent and teen that was created the day the smartphone was dropped and continues to deepen its trenches in families everywhere.

#13 Because it is deceptive and destructive 

I'm not the only one who thinks like this. I read a great article called "13 reasons why is deceptive and destructive" over at TGC. Don't be fooled, Christians. This show is real, and it's deceptive and destructive. Odds are your kid knows all about it and already has an opinion on it. So turn your phones off, make dinner for the family tonight, and sit down with your kids and talk to them. Look them in the eyes and ask good questions. You'll be glad you did.

For years I've wondered when anyone will start paying attention to the horrific rising epidemic of teenage depression and suicide. If we're paying attention now (potentially one small benefit of the show), let's no longer just listen. Let's do something about it.

If you're reading this post and are struggling with thoughts of suicide, email me here. If you're a parent and need prayer or direction, email me here too.

And here's also a further resource for you:

Fearless podcast image copy


What will awaken the American Church?

Nothing will awaken us to the state of the American Church like spending a week with Christians on the other side of the world.

I met a Lebanese man named Adel last week. I'd met him before and he hadn't made much of an impression on me.

He seemed uneducated but kind.

He had brought me coffee in the afternoons on previous trips to the Middle East, but he'd never been much of a conversationalist.

But last week, he became our designated driver. I ended up seeing a whole lot more of him than I'd ever planned on.

He still seemed rough around the edges and not so young in age, his wife about 20 years younger and full of energy. I inevitably heard snippets of his story. He'd lost his first wife to illness, then at 55 he met a woman who introduced him to Jesus. He ended up marrying her.

It didn't take long for her to figure out that he didn't know how to read.

Desperate to read the Bible, he asked her to teach him how to read and she did. 

In the last 10 years the Bible has become the only book Adel reads.

He doesn't read bestsellers and doesn't have a favorite Christian author.

He doesn't follow Twitter or Instagram.

He doesn't have a blog or a website.

But he reads God's word every moment that he can.

On the way to the airpot, I learned another little secret that my friend Adel had kept.

In the last 10 years since learning to read, Adel has committed not just verses and chapters of the Bible to memory, but entire books - like James, and the Peters, and Mark and Job, and Hebrews and on and on.

I asked him why.  I asked him how.

He was baffled by my questions. "I can't get enough of it," he said. "I fall asleep listening to it, and wake up thinking about it. It is my life. It is my joy. It is everything."

You will likely never meet Adel on this side of heaven. You will never read anything he's written, and you might never even notice him.

Yet on an average day in Lebanon, a 65 year old man who couldn't read until he was 55 is striving towards holiness, seeking after God, and has found intimacy and peace such as many of us here in the western world will never know.

While we in western Christianity argue about homosexuality in the Church and whether females should blog and teach the Bible, our brothers and sisters in Christ overseas are actually living the Christian life.

They have forsaken all and are following hard after Jesus.

They have counted the cost and have jumped all in.

Instead of worshipping their pastors, they respect their pastors and worship the Lord.

Instead of striving for riches, they give away what they have for the glory of God.

Instead of ranking their favorite Christian authors, they make lists of passages in the Bible they still long to memorize.

In a country where you might expect opposition and resistance to the gospel, the very opposite is happening. 

We went to the ice cream store for dessert and ended up leading the owner of the store to Jesus.

My friend Tamar took a cab ride home after a week of serving the refugees and ended up leading the cab driver to Jesus.

We took care of people displaced from their homes having lost everything and saw in their eyes a hunger for Jesus.

In a world where material comfort is wanting and rare, and where pain abounds and personal loss rules the day, people have awakened to their true need.

They are searching for Jesus.

Yet here we are in our comfortable American houses striving after more - more money, more fame, more followers, more success, more book deals. More of everything.

We argue the merits of a new health care plan forgetting that we serve a God who heals. If only we spent as much time praying for healing as we do complaining about healers.

We argue the rights of illegal immigrants all the while neglecting to point them to the true source of freedom and riches in this life.

We argue with each other about everything while the watching world smirks at us underwhelmed by this message of love we claim has saved us.

We justify our sins instead of forsaking them.

We defend our rights instead of yielding them.

We fight, fight, fight, never satisfied, always striving for more.

Yet in a world where islam has ruled the day, an awakening is happening, a movement of God's spirit turning people's hearts to Jesus.

They're doing it not because of someone's book or tweet, but because in quiet desperation people have quit talking about God and started talking to God.

Help us, they've prayed.

Show us, they've begged.

And He has. He most powerfully has.

What if we too stopped for a minute and did the same?

What if we quit chasing after our own comfort and our own version of an American dream and started running after Jesus?

What if we asked the Spirit of God to move our hearts deeply towards him, changing us, reviving us, uniting us?

What if we made it our life goal to know God and His word like my friend Adel has?

I'm learning that nothing will awaken us to our desperate need for God like our pain.

Help us, we can pray.

Show us, we can ask.

Awaken us, we can plead.

And He will. He most powerfully will.

 


How to be a Christian Speaker

More than any other question I get asked is this one:

"How do I become a Christian speaker?"

While the question is meant to be flattering at first, it's come up enough to beg an answer. But perhaps I should start with the obvious:

Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a "Christian speaker".

Ironically I'm coming off a month of what most would consider successful Christian service, peaking with an amazing God inspiring conference in Oklahoma where many lives were impacted and eternally changed.

Yet this morning I was brought back to reality by my favorite Christian author Oswald Chambers, who doesn't mince words and said this in "My Utmost for His Highest":

"The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go "outside the camp, bearing His reproach". In Luke 10:20 Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view - we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God's grace has laid the foundation....One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit."

One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit.

Let the one who has ears hear.

God calls us not to be Christian speakers but to be fully devoted to Him. He gives us spiritual gifts and calls us to exercise them according to His leading and choosing.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Become fully devoted to God.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Become aware of your spiritual gifts.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Do what you can where you can with what you have.

Learn to fight for a close and unhindered intimate relationship with God believing that the depth of your vertical relationship will always determine the breadth of your impact and service.

What that means is that you must make pursuing God your first and foremost priority - before networking, before strategy, before blog building, before platform developing, before service in your church, before any other thing.

Make pursuing God the one thing you desire and seek. Give it your time and your attention and your focus and your vision. Fix your eyes on Jesus until you really fix your eyes on Jesus.

Then get used to the valleys. Between mountain top experiences are the deep and arduous valleys. That's where the mettle is made. To give you an idea of what I think of this process I wrote a book called "Stripped" to define it. You will literally feel stripped in the valley of becoming what you are meant to become.

And that is a good thing.

Get used to the valleys and let God use them to make you. You will learn that brokenness is the way. Weakness is where you will learn His strength. Surrender is non negotiable.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Don't rush the time in the valley. Don't manipulate to get out of it. Don't breathe a sigh of relief if you find a short cut.

There is no short cut to your calling.

And above all stop looking at everyone else's mountain top experiences. It's easy to lose perspective in the valley but remember that your perspective in the valley is limited. When you see someone else's mountain top experience, remember that they've been in the valley too and more likely will head there again soon.

Mountain tops and valleys.

And that is a good thing.

Don't despise the day of small beginnings.

Small beginnings give you time to learn, to grow, to develop your voice. Small beginnings shape who you are and give you space to make mistakes without the scorn of the crowd.

Above all don't quit. Don't ever ever ever quit.

Find God's promises and make them the broad ground you stand on. Hang on to them and live in them. Breathe them. Trust the One who gave them. Love Him with all of your heart and commit your way to Him resting on these words of His, words He cannot but fulfill.

Finally, never ever underestimate the power of prayer. It is in your prayer closet that you will shed tears and wrestle with doubt and confess disappointment and admit despair and then it is in the prayer closet that you will slowly but surely feel the everlasting arms beneath you.

Slowly but surely, it is in the prayer closet that a shift happens in your heart. You start to actually believe that God is good. That His plan is best.  That He knows the way and that His timing is best.

The problem is that most people who ask the question "how do I become a Christian speaker" never stop long enough to pray. They're too busy making a dream come true, a dream that will never satisfy and never deliver.

Because you see, it is only when you quiet down enough to make it to the prayer closet that you finally understand:

There is no such thing as a Christian speaker.

It's all just a mirage.

The truth is far better: we are followers of Jesus Christ shouting out His name and declaring His praise from the mountain tops - sometimes loudly, but most days unnoticed, or perhaps heard only by a few.

A few that we don't think matter at all - our neighbors, our kids, our nephews and nieces, our co-workers, our people - but the few who might ultimately change the world, if we only understood the truth about what it means to be a Christian speaker.

And that, my friend, is a very very good thing.


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What you can do about the Syrian refugee crisis

Does your brain ever go numb because of the size of the problem you're facing?

Mine does.

And when it does, I'm tempted to mentally check out - to catch up on my ever growing Netflix queue instead since that is a massive problem I know I can manage.

Right now on the other side of the world is the ongoing and mind numbing problem of the Syrian refugee crisis.

And the more I think about it, the dumber I feel.

A few days ago I found myself at a gathering of leaders and pastors from the Middle East. These are some of the key players doing the work of evangelist/relief worker/discipler and all that goes along with finding yourself as the recipient of an unexpected humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportion without any advance notice. How dare they just show up unannounced?

What's even more astounding is this:

While Lebanon has welcomed over 1 million refugee, it is home to only about 100 evangelical churches. Yeah, I said one hundred. As in 100.

And while Jordan has close to 2 million refugees, it boasts just 55 evangelical churches. Yes. Fifty five.

Then there's Turkey. A quick google search on Turkey shows that only 0.008% of people in Turkey are considered evangelical while close to 3 million refugees now call Turkey home.

While evangelicals are certainly not the only people helping refugees, I want to focus on evangelicals here because I am one.

And when it comes to helping people in need, evangelical Bible believing Christ followers ought to have the market on this.

Helping people in need and pointing them to Jesus is our calling - every single one of us.

And pastors and leaders in the Middle East recognize it. They have set aside politics for the sake of love. They have refused to settle for other priorities. They have allowed God to interrupt their agendas for the sake of His kingdom.

As a result, they are seeing God do mammoth things in their communities. They are seeing people who have never heard of Jesus come to know and love Him. They are seeing miracles beyond my capacity to describe. They are living first hand stories that they can't even talk about for safety purposes. In fact, many of them are doing this work in secret for safety reasons, risking their lives daily.

Yet they have refused to settle for fear.

What's more amazing is that these church leaders have been at it for over 5 years. They are swimming upstream at a pace so fast it's a surprise they're still going strong.

I believe they need our help. 

I'm not talking about American politics here or partisan practices and what the US should do in the face of the refugee crisis here.

I'm talking about the Church.

I'm talking about you.

I'm talking about us seeing with fresh eyes.

I'm talking about us awakening to the biggest opportunity of our lifetime:

Muslims are coming to Jesus in droves. They are running to him. They are begging us to tell them about Jesus. God's kingdom is advancing at a mind boggling pace and most of us are missing it for American Idol.

There are 150 evangelical churches in the 3 countries with the most Syrian refugees. If I had to guess I'd say there are at least 150 evangelical churches in my city of Chicago if not 150 satellite campuses of one single megachurch in my town.

If you are a follower of Jesus and care about the lost, this isn't just an issue du jour. This is the opportunity of our lifetime.

If you have prayed to be used by God in any shape or form, if you long to see God do miracles such as He did back in the days of the early church, if you wonder where God is and why you don't see him anymore, you might just be looking in the wrong places. And it might be time to reframe your question.

Instead of asking what you want God to do in your life, you might want to start asking God what He wants you to do with yours.

A few days ago I met Ken, a retired Home Depot employee now working with a Christian ministry in Jordan and travels back and forth regularly from New Hampshire to do this.

Then there's Annie, the 22 year old college grad who moved to Lebanon to live with a Kurdish family and help disciple them.

And Anna, my friend Carl's daughter who moved to Beirut to make movies about the refugees. On her own. Just because.

The list goes on.

Many are heeding the call of the Spirit of God and saying yes, Lord, I'll do it. I'll go where you want me to go. I'll do what you want me to do.

They're choosing to put themselves smack dab in the middle of God's amazing story and they're loving every minute of it.

Look, this isn't meant to be a guilt trip.

I mean, I totally get it. You might not be able to pick up and move right now. I know I'm not ready yet. But have we stopped long enough to think about it?

Maybe it's time we pause and ask God what He wants us to do about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maybe it's time we act.

We can start by fighting the temptation to switch the channel simply because we're overwhelmed.

We can start by refusing to go numb.

Of course here's a quick and easy way for you to act: become a monthly partner with us. Support our medical and dental work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Our next medical mission trip to the Middle East will take place April 28-May 6. Find out more about it all by clicking here.
Or you can just click here to Donate and as a 'thank you,'  you'll get my Free Falling Devotional - A 40 Day Journey Of Faith 
(oh, and feel free to share this article!).

https://vimeo.com/202532707

Medical-Dental Trip (Jan 2017) from lina abujamra on Vimeo.


Beauty and the Beast's Gay Moment: What Should Christians Think?

What should we do when Hollywood produces movies we don't agree with?

We Christians tend to be a fickle bunch. We don't put our money where our mouths are and we're living to regret it. Let me explain.

We say we don't agree with a lot of things: like premarital sex and adultery and divorce and homosexuality. The list goes on. Yet for decades now we've bent the rules. We've ignored our own "should nots" and justified our decisions to pay big bucks to watch whatever sort of entertainment is thrown our way. Simply because we've wanted to. We've wanted to be entertained. We've wanted to be amused in a land of make believe even if that land goes against everything we say we believe.

Little by little, like the culture around us, we've become desensitized to sex on the big screen. We've become jaded about nudity. We've become amoral when it comes to our entertainment choices.

What used to shock us during prime time now makes the list of our favorite TV shows. What used to ruffle our feathers is now regular fodder for office chat.

When 50 shades of grey came out, many Christians spoke against it. Our sensibilities were offended. Yet in its opening 3 days, 50 shades gathered a nice $81.7 million in over 3000 locations. Then came Fifty Shades Darker, which didn't live up to its prequel in numbers, but still had an official trailer with 114 million views in the first 24 hours of its release online. That's huge. Were those clicks evangelical clicks? We'll never know for sure, but it seems to me that many might have been.

You might think I'm being dramatic, if not a little bit judgmental. You would never ever watch 50 shades of grey, after all. You have your limits. Yet you, like me, have stacked your Netflix queues with shows that you would never want your pastor to see.

Your pastor who according to Barca research has the same issues with his entertainment choices that you do. Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) it turns out, admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past with over 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admitting they currently struggle with using porn.”

The struggle is real.  

Barna polls also show that 64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women admitted to viewing pornography at least once a month, compared to 65 percent of men and 30 percent of women who identified as non-Christian and said they watched porn at the same rate.

When it comes to our viewing habits, we who call ourselves christians are not that different from the rest of the world.

Enter LeFou and Gaston and the most recent Hollywood morality debate. 

What should we do when Hollywood produces movies we don't agree with?

To protest on the grounds of Biblical morality sounds ridiculous if not hypocritical. To say nothing sounds wimpy and "safe". But I wonder if we who call ourselves Christians are simply living out the repercussions of our own bad decisions. Perhaps we who call ourselves Christians should consider showing the world what we believe by simply putting our money where our hearts are.

Perhaps instead of pointing our fingers judgmentally at our non-believing friends and accusing them of offending our morals we should use our fingers to point to what we do stand for. One single dollar at a time.

Which might mean skipping a movie, or two, or even an entire Netflix subscription in order to teach our kids that what we value the most is not on a big screen. It's in the pages of a book called the Bible.

Perhaps it's finally time we switched the channel.

I wonder how big our impact could be if all of us who call ourselves Christians were willing to stand for what our God stands for. I mean really stand for it risking ridicule and not fitting in. I mean at the expense of our popularity and our cultural relevance. I mean at the expense of our own addictions and desires.

I wonder how big a dent we could make if we took our God seriously.

Which begs the question: where is your heart in this matter? Is it tethered to Hollywood, or is tethered to God and His word? 

Hey have you heard of Covenant Eyes? It's an internet accountability and filtering system. I'll be telling you more about it in weeks to come, but check it out here and get the first 30 days free! If you're serious about holiness, you'll want to do this! 

Here's a great resource on purity for you from the archives:

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Why I Love Valentine's Day

Hey.

It's Valentine's Day.

You happy? Mad? Sad?

How does V day make you feel?

Maybe you love it, like me.

Or maybe this Valentine's Day is hard for you.

Maybe you leaned over and kissed the one you love this morning. Or maybe you can't stand looking at that body next to yours.

Maybe you're berating yourself for forgetting to make a dinner reservation tonight. Or maybe you're berating God for forgetting to provide someone to make a dinner reservation with.

The truth is that today is either really hard, really great, or somewhere in between. I know... I'm a genius. Still...

For me, Valentine's Day is sort of like Thanksgiving.

I love everything about it.

Why, you ask?

Well, because it's a day in which I stop for a moment and recognize the important things.

On this day, I stop and remember that were it up to me, I might have been married, twice, to the wrong guy. But God knew me better than I knew myself. He had a purpose for me that He planned before I was born. And somehow, despite my best attempts, this awesome God made a way for me to feel the pain of singleness and then use it to write a book about thriving in singleness (check it out here), and to host a daily radio show for singles (listen here), and to have a heart for singles like me.

Trust me.

I could have never thought this thing up.

But every year on Valentine's Day, I stop and think about love. Not the love of a man that still hasn't show up yet, but the even deeper love of the Father.

If you don't know Jesus, this might sound creepy. I get it.

But if you do know Him, then it makes perfect sense to you and odds are you totally agree.

Some days - like today - being single isn't very easy.

Yet some days - like today - being single is just perfect.

But whether you're single or married, and no matter what your view on Valentine's Day is, let me sum it up like this:

If you're married today, go ahead and celebrate the gift of love God has given you. Be grateful that God knew exactly who you needed in your life (yeah, I mean that guy you're married to!).

And if you're single, go ahead and celebrate the gift of love God has given you. Be grateful that God knew exactly what you needed in your life right now.

And if you're still waiting for a man/woman to show up and sweep you off your feet or if you're still waiting for your husband/wife to make that dinner reservation for tonight, be encouraged on this Valentine's Day with my two favorite verses on waiting from Psalm 27:13-14:

"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!"

Happy ValenThrive's Day everyone! 

And *hugs* to all of you reading (See? Even I get sappy on V day). 

And because I love singles a little bit more than I love marrieds, I put together this awesome ValenThrive's resource for you - don't be shy: share it with your friends and on social media!

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