Monthly Archives: January 2011

I got my Confidence at Wal-mart!

I did a search on and there are around 8,000 books available for purchase that are on the subject of confidence. The listed categories of books range from business to Arts & Photography (“Drawing with confidence”) – it appears the everyone wants confidence in what they do. One of the popular statistics that’s been thrown around lately involves this subject. In an international study of teenagers it was found that (no surprise) American teens are bad at Math – some of the worst in the world apparently. What makes this statistic interesting is that American teenagers scored the highest in another area: Confidence. The same group of people that scored lowest in math scored highest in confidence.

The reason is clear – when my generation started arriving on the scene back in 1984 many of our parents and teachers decided that it was important that we be confident so they worked hard to make us feel good about ourselves regardless of what we were actually capable of. They gave us ribbons for participating even if we did a terrible job. They had people come to our schools who did magic tricks, gymnastics and motivational talks all of whom told us to be confident. They told us if we believe in ourselves that we can achieve our dreams as long as we just be ourselves because we’re unique and wonderful. This, of course, is total crap, but it actually accomplished something: many of us believed it and we developed disproportionate and totally unfounded confidence.

I’ve worked with some very talented people over the years, but the most impressive human trait I’ve seen is humility when coupled with skill. That’s because to be humble while possessing great ability is to be Christ-like.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”

Philippians 2:1-8

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having confidence, in fact I think that its safe to say that anyone who really succeeds has a healthy measure of it. I think that the real issue with confidence isn’t as much about having the right amount as much as it is getting it from the right place and putting it in the right person. You can put confidence in yourself, your parents, your pastor, your boss, your job, your spouse, your spouse’s job, your children, the government, your school, your sports team, your car, technology, your favorite author, a diet, your favorite news station… and the list goes on and on. As I said there’s nothing wrong with confidence. Look at these two verses from first Corinthians:

“Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:31

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 1 Cor 3:4-5

I’m going to say something that might sound crazy to us americans. I believe that God basically doesn’t want us to have confidence in ourselves. I know that sounds crazy to some of us. He doesn’t want us to hate ourselves either – he wants us to have self respect; to believe that we’re vessels capable of containing the holy spirit. But he wants our confidence to be in him and him alone so that he can do through us things that we never thought were possible. Its like Oswald Chambers says:

‎”We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves!” – O.Chambers

Our ability to accomplish the work of God is directly corollary to our surrender to him; until we submit to him we have no way of knowing what we’re truly capable of. To reach that place of surrender our confidence needs to come from God and it needs to be placed back in God alone. But we have to believe we’re capable of being use by God – that his power can work in us and that it can overcome the challenges around us. Look at Peter when when Jesus calls to him to walk on water:

And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:29-30

Based on this, I’d propose that confidence is a cycle. We submit to God and he gives us confidence saying “I’m giving you this task because I made you capable of doing this and I will strengthen you” we then say “I can only do this because God is strengthening me.” therefore we submit to God and he continues to strengthen us.

Just the other day I was talking to a friend who’s had an exciting, but daunting opportunity put before him. He admitted as the time drew nearer that he was getting nervous. He said he wasn’t sure he could do it. I told him that I didn’t think that he could either. That might sound like I was being a bad friend or just hurtfully honest, but I also said that I believed that God could do it through him. I told him that he’s having those nervous feelings is God’s way of drawing him closer. If you feel like you can’t do something that you’ve been called to do, maybe that’s because you can’t – and you need to realize that before you can let God do it through you.

False confidence can come from lots of places. And whether I buy the fitness magazine “Get in shape and everything will fall in place” myth or the Wizard of Oz “you had it all along” myth or the motivational speaker “you can do anything if you follow your dream” myth, I’ll never reach my full potential until I put my confidence in Christ.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

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Quote: Dedication and Failure

I think one of the greatest failings in my generation is impatience and a lack of true dedication. We tend to pick a cause or project and chase after that for a stint, and at the first major failure we’ll give up and decide that we’re not chasing after the right goal. I’ve seen it in others, I’ve seen it in myself. The great film director, Cecil B.  De Mille said

“Most of us serve our ideals by fits and starts. The person who makes a success of living is one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That’s dedication.” – Cecil B. De Mille

This reminded me of something Craig Groeschel said at catalyst this year

“This generation over estimates what God wants to do with them in the short term and under estimates what God wants to do in the long term.”  – Craig Groeschel

I know some people that at a young age are already angry because they haven’t reached celebrity status in their field. I think one of the greatest failures a young person can have is thinking that I have already reached a place where I no longer have any major lessons to learn. This mindset means that failure comes as a total shock and complete disappointment. Whereas a resilient, dedicated individuals remember Thomas Edison’s quote regarding his efforts with creating the first lightbulb.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

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My 3 rules for watching movies.

In my adult life, I have been called ‘stupid’ by a peer only twice. Both incidences involved a Christian who was commenting on my opinion regarding what kind limits Christians should put media they consume. In both cases I was defending why I thought some popular movie shouldn’t be owned or regularly viewed by a Christian. I’m not someone who gets a kick out of stirring the pot, but it was obvious in both cases I’d struck a nerve.

As a Christian who enjoys observing, critiquing and participating in popular culture I try to not set arbitrary rules – I look to scripture. Here are my personal guidelines and the reasoning behind each. While I’ve probably broken them all at some point, I can say that I’ve never been sorry when I follow them. I’m talking about movies, but they can really be applied to all forms of media.

  • I do not go see R-rated movies in the theater unless I am recommended it by someone who I know holds my same values. This may seem prudish, but the reason is two fold: First, what if you get caught walking towards that theater by someone who is struggling or is young in their faith – what if they happen to know the kind of content in the movie you’re about to see is not God-honoring? You wouldn’t want to cause someone to stumble. (Mark 9:42). Second, if you go to see that movie and you see something that you shouldn’t, it will effect you and you can’t unsee it, where as If you watch the movie at home you can skip parts of it. (Job 31:1) I recognize that I’m very unusual in this way as statistically, Christians are just as likely to go to an R-rated film as non-christians.
  • I don’t watch any movies with frontal nudity. The reason is simple: Ephesians 5:2 – no hint of sexual impurity. This one seems like a no-brainer to me, but when I told a Christian friend that I wouldn’t watch a particular movie because it had a number of nude scenes in it, he flipped. He said “Just because of that you’re going to miss a great movie.” Just because of that. Just because I’m trying to take the scripture seriously. I don’t do this because I think I’m better than anyone – I do it because I know I’m a sinner; I know the effect those movies have on me and I know I’m not the only one.
  • Finally, I try not to buy any any movies that I’d have to throw out if I ever had children – I thought this was just a good rule to have about life in general. What if all single young adults lived life as if one day they might have to sit down with their children and explain everything they had ever done. What if people began preparing for parenthood before they got married? You wouldn’t just have better parents, you’d have more responsible people – even if they never had kids. I told a Christian friend of mine about this philosophy and that’s when I got called stupid. I’m not going to write a whole manifesto to defend myself on this. I just don’t believe that it is stupid to live a life filled with a desire to be responsible, to be selfless, to be above reproach and to maintain the child-like state of innocence Jesus talks about in Matthew 18.

I’ll quote again from my favorite Pauline epistle:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

No matter what you’re doing in life, if you’re not sure if you’re on track with Christ, read this passage and ask – is this me? I do it all the time and honestly most of the time the answer is “no, not really.” – That’s where I know things need to change.

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All In

I’m not a big poker player but on occasion I have caught clips of professional poker being played on ESPN7. I remember seeing part of a championship game of Texas Hold ‘em that had one particular player who was known for going ‘All In’ in almost every game he played. Apparently it worked – he made it all the way to the championship game using this method. In poker, when you go all in it forces everyone else in the game to do one of two things: they have to go all in or they have to get out of the game.

Today, the senior pastor at Frazer issued a challenge to the members of the Frazer Family; he asked that in 2011, all of our members choose to go all in for Jesus. Much in the same way that poker player did in every game, we have to decide if we’re going to take the plunge – take the risk and invest all we have in Christ.

The average American church-goer would probably tell you that the Christian life isn’t terribly difficult because we generally still get to have our comfortable, safe lives. That’s not the picture that Paul gives us in 1st Corinthians:

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

The early Christians were so invested in Christ that if it were all a hoax, they would have been men to be pitied. They knew that to be all in, they would have to give of themselves such that everyone around them saw the sacrifice in their life. It reminds me of something a friend of mine posted on his facebook page, I don’t know where he first heard it, but he said

“The kingdom isn’t advanced by technological progress, military tactics, or economic growth. The kingdom is advanced by sacrifice”

To be all in means to sacrifice. Many people have asked Jesus to be their Savior, but have they decided to be all in for him? I’ll leave you with the words of “I have decided to follow Jesus.” You may not know that this song is attributed to Sadhu Sundar Singh, a man who was born in India. He grew up in an entirely different religion until he had a vision of Jesus one night. When he converted to Christianity, his family forced him out of the house, only after his father tried to poison him. He witnessed for Christ for the rest of his life. Think about the sacrifice that he made – how he went all in, as you read these words.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

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