church fellowships are as bad as facebook

Most churches have “fel­low­ships”. No, it has noth­ing to do with Lord of the Rings. It’s the Chris­t­ian term for “hang­ing out”. Some churches have fel­low­ships weekly, monthly, quar­terly. Every­one gets together, brings some food, and they sit around and talk while the kids play hide and go seek in the church building.

As time goes on, peo­ple make their way from group to group and hop in on dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions as pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tions become unin­ter­est­ing. As peo­ple leave, every­one smiles and wave good­bye, and the church lead­er­ship con­grat­u­late them­selves for another suc­cess­ful ful­fill­ment of Acts 2:42 (they devoted them­selves to the apostles’ teaching and the fel­low­ship, to the break­ing of bread and the prayers.).

How­ever, in the grand sceme of things, very lit­tle was accom­plished. No one knew Jenny had an unex­pected bill that she’s strug­gling to pay. Or Dean who is strug­gling with how to be a strong spir­i­tual leader in his home. And cer­tainly no one knows that Susan just lost her vir­gin­ity last night. Peo­ple don’t talk about that, fel­low­ships are happy times. Besides, between peo­ple pop­ping in and out of con­ver­sa­tions, no one ask­ing Susan insight­ful ques­tions about her life, and Dean not feel­ing com­fort­able pos­ing his ques­tion to 12 other peo­ple, noth­ing is ever said.

Peo­ple crit­i­cize Face­book for being the essence of fake friend­ships. Really, these church fel­low­ships have been rel­e­gated to noth­ing more than Face­book rela­tion­ships. Brows­ing sta­tus updates, being enter­tained by funny quotes and pic­tures, and then mov­ing on to the next pro­file page. Sorry, but that’s not true fel­low­ship. That’s not liv­ing life out with the body. Those aren’t qual­ity relationships.

Did you know most peo­ple can only main­tain 6–8 close rela­tion­ships. Yet we hang out with 70, 150, 1000 peo­ple at these fel­low­ships and walk away think­ing a very spe­cial rela­tional bond­ing occurred. It’s ok if you don’t talk to every­one in your church. That doesn’t mean you have any less com­mu­nity. Try­ing to talk to every­one and main­tain some con­nec­tion only takes away time from delv­ing deeper into a few lives.

So what does true fel­low­ship look like? Well I call it authen­tic com­mu­nity, and it hap­pens every day. Peo­ple call­ing each other, going out to watch a foot­ball game, see­ing a movie, com­ing over for din­ner, work­ing on a hobby. It’s peo­ple liv­ing reg­u­lar life…together.

Simple Rules for Eating Healthy in 2012

It’s a new year, and for many of you, you’re try­ing for the umpteenth time to exer­cise and eat healthy. I’m one of those peo­ple, and this year I’m com­mit­ting to a non-​​traditional diet that has very sim­ple rules. In my expe­ri­ence, you can loose weight and nour­ish your body with­out hav­ing to count calo­ries, fat, carbs, etc. I’ve already lost 10lb this year.

In my new healthy eat­ing lifestyle, it’s not so much a num­bers game as it objec­tive based eat­ing. Read on and see what I mean.


  1. Drink 2 liters of water a day (3 liters in hot­ter weather). This helps with the diges­tion process so food doesn’t sit and accu­mu­late. It also flushes out tox­ins and is good for your heart and vas­cu­lar system.
  2. Eat more greens. The more raw the bet­ter. If you want an easy way to get your veg­gies, you can either drink a cup of Green Machine a day or look into Juice Pluse.
  3. Eat slower. Eat­ing fast has proven to cause weight gain and it’s harder on your diges­tive sys­tem when you don’t allow the enzymes in your saliva to do their part in digest­ing the food. Try chew­ing your food until it’s a pulp. Eat­ing slower also will help you eat less. Your brain doesn’t rec­og­nize how full your stom­ach is until about 20min after you start eat­ing. Try tak­ing a smaller por­tion than nor­mal, eat­ing slower, and you may find that smaller por­tion quite satisfying.
  4. Sup­ple­ment with vit­a­mins. The 3 big ones are fish oil, multi-​​vitamin, and B vitamins.


  1. Stop drink­ing soda (pop, coke, what­ever you call it). When I stopped drink­ing car­bon­ated drink years ago, it was amaz­ing how the dif­fer­ence one choice like that made.
  2. Cut out red meat. Not say­ing you can’t have it occa­sion­ally, but if you’re really ana­lyt­i­cal and need me to break it down for you, I’d say only allow one serv­ing of red meat a week. Alter­na­tively you should be eat­ing white meats like chicken, turkey, and fish.
  3. Don’t bring junk food into your home. It should be an auto­matic given that when you do your gro­cery shop­ping, ice cream, chips, and candy (or any other food in those aisles) don’t go in your shop­ping cart (the excep­tion would be for a party or holidays).
  4. Stop eat­ing fast food! There’s noth­ing more to be said about that.
  5. Watch out for cheese. If it’s an option to put on your sandwich…opt out. If there’s a meal with sub­stan­tial amounts of cheese in it, def­i­nitely stay away. There’s a lot of fat in that stuff.

The last rule is that if you’re going to choose to eat healthy, you need to choose to live healthy all around. The real­ity is, eat­ing is only part of it. You need to com­mit to mak­ing healthy choices through­out the day. Cut down on tv watching, exercise daily, have hob­bies, get out and socialize.

Don’t fol­low this list to loose weight, do it to pre­vent or help your already exist­ing high blood pres­sure, dia­betes, con­ges­tive heart fail­ure, etc.

5 reasons why commitment and responsibility trump the independent life

Most young peo­ple (and even older adults) run from things that might tie them down. A full time job, buy­ing a house, mar­riage, etc. They want to live a life that’s free. A life where if their desires change, there’s noth­ing hold­ing them back from fol­low­ing through on them. At a quick glance, peo­ple might say that inde­pen­dence is the sim­pler life. There’s less respon­si­bil­ity and there­fore more joy (after all, that’s what this blog is about, get­ting the most out of life through simplicity).

How­ever, I’m going to argue against that premise and lay out 5 rea­sons why hav­ing com­mit­ment and respon­si­bil­ity are more free­ing and enjoyable.

1. In order to build a life of sub­stance, there needs to be a solid foun­da­tion. You can’t build a sky­scraper on sand, nei­ther can you move up in life if you never set­tle down and take on respon­si­bil­ity. I’m not speak­ing of only mov­ing up finan­cially. In all areas of life, there’s room to grow, and growth requires a firm foun­da­tion (phys­i­cally and emotionally).

2. Per­ma­nence allows for you to invest. Whether it’s invest­ing in rela­tion­ships, the com­mu­nity, your church, etc. Not that you can’t make a dif­fer­ence in a person’s life in a short time period, but some of the most reward­ing moments in life are see­ing your hard work and invest­ments grow and mature over time.

3. Rou­tine takes away the stress of the unknown. Some could argue that hav­ing bills, a fam­ily, and a full time job can be stress­ful. On the other hand, it can be just as stress­ful when you’re always won­der­ing if you’ll get enough hours this week or if the you’ll have enough free­lance projects, your retire­ment, when that spe­cial some­one is going to come into your life, and liv­ing pay check to pay check can be rough when your car unex­pect­edly dies.

4. Sta­bil­ity and reg­u­lar­ity build cred­i­bil­ity. As you invest in those rela­tion­ships, your net­work grows, and assum­ing you’re a per­son of char­ac­ter, so does your rep­u­ta­tion. This is another aspect of mov­ing up (from point 1). A good name is to be more desired than pre­cious met­als (that’s what the Bible says). And as a Chris­t­ian, a good name is what you want because it implies an abil­ity to more effec­tively min­is­ter to other peo­ple and have influ­ence in their lives.

5. Per­ma­nence in the begin­ning allows for more inde­pen­dence in the long run. As you work that full time job, as you put in the years in one place, and as you build your sav­ings account, the oppor­tu­ni­ties abound. Per­haps you can’t take week­end road trips all the time in the begin­ning, and maybe you can’t spend the sum­mer back­pack­ing through Europe, but a well planned and invested life will give you more oppor­tu­ni­ties in the long run to do just as many, if not more, amaz­ing things that your friends did in the first few years of their young adult­hood. Because when you reach your 30s and you find your­self well estab­lished, your friends who didn’t want to set­tle will find them­selves fac­ing a harsh real­ity that they’re 10yr behind the eight ball hav­ing to start a career, and their days of inde­pen­dence will for the most part have ended, while yours are just beginning.


*Side note: If God’s called you to live a life as a missionary, evangelist, or mil­i­tary per­son­nel, that’s a dif­fer­ent story. I’m talk­ing about the peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing to God’s leading.

2011 — Recap of My Life

This past year will def­i­nitely go down in the record books as a crazy roller coaster! It all started with a carry over from 2010. I was wrestling with a lot of things spir­i­tu­ally that were induced by my trip to Kenya in Novem­ber 2010. Dur­ing that time of search­ing and con­fu­sion, I got involved in my first dat­ing rela­tion­ship. God taught me a lot through that. It didn’t work out for the obvi­ous rea­son that we were in 2 dif­fer­ent worlds spir­i­tu­ally. In the end (June), God used that rela­tion­ship to reaf­firm my spir­i­tual con­vic­tions and set me on a path that pur­sued Christ more pas­sion­ately than I ever had in my entire time as a Chris­t­ian. More on that later…

Along with a rela­tion­ship, 2011 started a 12-​​month pro­gram in Para­medic school. This proved to be the great­est chal­lenge I’d ever encoun­tered in my life. Over the course of the year, I encoun­tered doc­tors, nurses, and mil­i­tary spe­cial forces who had at one point been through Para­medic school. They all agreed that it was the hard­est thing they’d ever done as well. Because of jug­gling work, school, and clin­i­cals, I lived out of my car a week at a time. Sleep was min­i­mal and so was my social life. Unfor­tu­nately, there’s not a whole lot of sto­ries to tell about my life in 2011 other than the count­less emer­gency scenes I went on at work and clinicals.

Come the Fall, my school load had slightly light­ened (that or I was use to the abuse by then), and I decided to go through fire­fighter school on top of Para­medic school which I regret­ted every minute of; but I made it through and have that under my belt. God was also teach­ing me lessons about what it means to live sold out for him. I’ve always had the men­tal­ity that my respon­si­bil­ity is no dif­fer­ent than that of a pastor’s, but I reached a point of enlight­en­ment in the Fall that I am a grown man and I can no longer fear con­fronting those older than me and chal­leng­ing oth­ers to pur­sue Christ more.

An image came to mind that encour­aged me. It’s that of a 16yr-​​old boy who fal­si­fied his age and now is on a shut­tle boat about to land at Nor­mandy on D-​​day. As the door drops, bul­lets are whizzing by, and friends are drop­ping dead all around him. He now real­izes that he’s no longer a boy, but a man, and though there’s an over­whelm­ing sense of fear in his inner­most being, it’s time for him to man up and charge for­ward onto the beach. I feel that rep­re­sents so well the feel­ings and think­ing process that I went through this past year.

Since then, I’ve spent a great major­ity of my time dur­ing the week at a local cof­fee shop down­town called Rem­edy. Over time I’ve come to know all the work­ers and most of the cus­tomers. It’s proven to be a fan­tas­tic loca­tion for min­istry. Mul­ti­ple times a week I have oppor­tu­ni­ties for dis­ci­ple­ship. Part of man­ning up is just cut­ting to the chase with peo­ple and ask­ing them where they’re at spir­i­tu­ally. The con­ver­sa­tions that have ensued have been incred­i­ble! On a num­ber of occa­sions I’ll have other peo­ple who are lis­ten­ing jump into the con­ver­sa­tion and in no time there’s an impromptu Bible study of 4–6 people.

Another bless­ing that Rem­edy has brought are the num­ber of close rela­tion­ships I’ve built with solid believ­ers who are actively serv­ing in their churches through­out Knoxville. Speak­ing of serv­ing, I was con­victed about the lack of ser­vice I had in my church. I felt that despite my insane sched­ule, there was no excuse or exemp­tion for peo­ple not to serve in some way. So, I talked to my wor­ship leader who’d been want­ing me to play bass gui­tar and he lent me his to learn and start play­ing in wor­ship. From there, I’ve now taken it upon myself to serve the church by encour­ag­ing other mem­bers to find areas to serve in by ana­lyz­ing their gifts and if need be, cre­at­ing min­istry oppor­tu­ni­ties if some­thing doesn’t exist already.

One other thing that God has chal­lenged me to do this year is find some­one that I can reg­u­larly dis­ci­ple. It didn’t take long for me to find that per­son. I’ve been meet­ing with him weekly and doing an overview of the Bible as well as teach­ing sys­tem­atic the­ol­ogy. I also work with him rela­tion­ally by hang­ing out for recre­ational pur­poses at var­i­ous times dur­ing the week.

The last thing that I can say is that in Octo­ber I lost my job, and was with­out work for 2 weeks. God was good and pro­vided me a posi­tion with the largest ambu­lance ser­vice in the world, but they were just start­ing up an oper­a­tion in Knoxville. I was 1 of 8 peo­ple that was hired to be on the ground floor of this oper­a­tion. It’s been the best job in EMS I’ve ever had or seen. My work part­ner has proved to be a very good friend that has gone out­side of work and great men­tor as I enter into the role as a Paramedic.

And that’s it in a nut shell. Now I’m a Para­medic. I’m very excited about the prospects for this com­ing year. I have a list of New Year Res­o­lu­tions you can check out. Also, there’s some pic­tures of events from this past year.

God bless!


prac­tic­ing on a dummy


my para­medic class


get­ting ready to do a clin­i­cal in surgery



after a day of fire school


UT foot­ball game


one of my many crazy scenes


play­ing pool with friends


first con­cert — Lady Antebellum




church lead­er­ship team play­ing ball before church


impromptu Bible study



2012 New Year Resolutions

I’m espe­cially excited about what 2012 holds for my life. It begins a new phase with the end of school and the start of a career, and I feel it’s going to be a year that defines what a sub­stan­tial part of my life will be like. That being said, here’s some res­o­lu­tions that I hope will become part of that defin­ing process.

  • Take 2 mis­sion trips
  • Lead a small group
  • Dis­ci­ple 2 guys
  • Make a weekly habit of rock climbing
  • Eat bet­ter and exer­cise regularly
  • Start nurs­ing school
  • Write 1 song per month
  • Take time to reflect each day (going for a walk, before bed, etc)
  • Spend 1hr in prayer and read­ing the Word each morning
  • Read the Bible chrono­log­i­cally in 1 year

The Simple Guide to Finding God’s Will

So the end of the mat­ter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scrip­tures. Think of oth­ers before your­self. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do what­ever else you like, with whomever you like, wher­ever you like, and you’ll be walk­ing in the will of God.

Occa­sion­ally I like to read through the whole book of Eccle­si­astes in one sit­ting. At first it’s pretty depress­ing as you read about how every­thing we do is all in vain, but at the very end of the book, the author brings it all around and leaves the reader with a very sim­ple and some­what inspir­ing (depend­ing how you look at it) mes­sage. In Eccle­si­astes I believe I have found an answer to the age old ques­tion of find­ing God’s will for our lives.

Life is pointless.

Van­ity of van­i­ties, says the Preacher,
van­ity of van­i­ties! All is van­ity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A gen­er­a­tion goes, and a gen­er­a­tion comes,
but the earth remains for­ever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and has­tens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its cir­cuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weari­ness;
a man can­not utter it;
the eye is not sat­is­fied with see­ing,
nor the ear filled with hear­ing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is noth­ing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remem­brance of for­mer things,
nor will there be any remem­brance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
(Eccle­si­astes 1:2–11 ESV)

Your life sit­u­a­tion is not unique.

Did you see that part in the pre­vi­ous pas­sage where it says “there’s noth­ing new under the sun?” So often we like to think we’ve got a prob­lem that no one else can relate to. The truth is, all prob­lems can be cat­e­go­rized and boil down to a few things. Stop think­ing your prob­lem is this huge thing that can’t be solved. When you think your prob­lem is unique, we tend to down­play the advice we receive, even of those who are much older and wiser.

The first step in find­ing God’s will is rec­og­niz­ing that His will is sim­ple and so is your prob­lem (in one sense). Don’t over think.

Do what­ever you love.

So every­thing is point­less and noth­ing we do is new. We just keep rein­vent­ing the wheel and think we’re doing some­thing novel when in real­ity we’re not. So, the author boils his con­clu­sion of life down to this.

I per­ceived that there is noth­ing bet­ter for them than to be joy­ful and to do good as long as they live; also that every­one should eat and drink and take plea­sure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecc 3:12–13)

The author con­tin­ues to say this:

There is a van­ity that takes place on earth, that there are right­eous peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the right­eous. I said that this also is van­ity. (Ecc 8:14)

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. (Ecc 11:9)

Basi­cally it’s knock­ing the idea of karma. Good peo­ple some­times suf­fer what we think bad peo­ple deserve and some­times bad peo­ple enjoy the ben­e­fits that we think are befit­ting of good peo­ple. There­fore, the sec­ond quotes con­cludes that the whole mat­ter is van­ity and there­fore we should just do what­ever we enjoy doing. Whether it’s morally good or bad, it doesn’t humanly matter.

You will be held accountable.

Chris­tians might freak a lit­tle bit at the thought the Bible would tell us we can do what­ever we want. Don’t get too hung up on that. The point is that it’s all van­ity. In real­ity, the author says in the very last sen­tence of the book, “For God will bring every deed into judg­ment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Here on earth, what you do doesn’t hold much weight, but that’s not to say it doesn’t count for some­thing in eternity.

The bot­tom line is to fear God and keep His commandments.

The end of the mat­ter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his com­mand­ments, for this is the whole duty of man.” That’s it, that’s all there is to say. You can share your story with me and make out your life sit­u­a­tion to be as com­plex as you think it is, but my response will always con­clude the same way. Are you fear­ing God and keep­ing his commandments?

What are the commandments?

Let me gen­er­ally list off the com­mand­ments for our life.

  1. Live/​pursue a life that mir­rors God’s holi­ness (Look at Exo­dus 20 and Gala­tians 5)
  2. Be involved and actively serv­ing in a local body of believ­ers. (Hebrews 10:25)
  3. Evan­ge­lize and dis­ci­ple peo­ple around you. (Matt 28:19)

Bring­ing it all together.

As an exam­ple, you may ques­tion if cos­me­tol­ogy is some­thing you can jus­tify doing as a Chris­t­ian for a liv­ing and how that fits into God’s plan. Well, my first ques­tion is if you ‘re actively being faith­ful in keep­ing the 3 com­mand­ments above? If you are and your desire to do what­ever it may be isn’t sin­ful, then that’s all I want to know. In fact, I encour­age peo­ple to be inte­rior design­ers or cos­me­tol­o­gist (often thought of as vain occu­pa­tions when in real­ity every­thing is vain) because you have an oppor­tu­nity to relate and there­fore min­is­ter to other peo­ple in those occu­pa­tions whereas it may not be as easy for me.

Fear God, keep his com­mand­ments, and do what­ever you desire. This is the chief end of man. You don’t need a writ­ing on the wall. God has given us the lib­erty to do what we love and it doesn’t have to be directly spir­i­tual, we just have to be inten­tion­ally spir­i­tual wher­ever we are, doing what­ever we’re doing.

The Reformation Polka

Here’s a lit­tle Ref­or­ma­tion Day humor.

by Robert Gebel

[Sung to the tune of “Supercalifragilistic-​​expialidocious”]

When I was just ein junger Mann I stud­ied canon law;
While Erfurt was a chal­lenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the light­ning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augus­tin­ian! Oh…

Papal bulls, indul­gences, and tran­sub­stan­ti­a­tion
Speak your mind against them and face excom­mu­ni­ca­tion!
Nail your the­ses to the door, let’s start a Ref­or­ma­tion!
Papal bulls, indul­gences, and transubstantiation!

When Tet­zel came near Wit­ten­berg, St. Peter’s prof­its soared,
I wrote a lit­tle notice for the All Saints’ Bull’tin board:
“You can­not pur­chase mer­its, for we’re jus­ti­fied by grace!
Here’s 95 more rea­sons, Brother Tet­zel, in your face!” Oh…

Papal bulls, indul­gences, and tran­sub­stan­ti­a­tion
Speak your mind against them and face excom­mu­ni­ca­tion!
Nail your the­ses to the door, let’s start a Ref­or­ma­tion!
Papal bulls, indul­gences, and transubstantiation!

They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exem­pleror;
The Pope, how­ever, hauled me up before the Emperor.
“Are these your books? Do you recant?” King Charles did demand,
“I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!” Oh…

Papal bulls, indul­gences, and tran­sub­stan­ti­a­tion –
Speak your mind against them and face excom­mu­ni­ca­tion!
Nail your the­ses to the door, let’s start a Ref­or­ma­tion!
Papal bulls, indul­gences, and transubstantiation!

Duke Fred­er­ick took the Wise approach, respond­ing to my words,
By knight­ing “George” as hostage in the King­dom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin’s model if the lan­guages you seek,
Stay locked inside a cas­tle with your Hebrew and your Greek! Oh…

Papal bulls, indul­gences, and tran­sub­stan­ti­a­tion –
Speak your mind against them and face excom­mu­ni­ca­tion!
Nail your the­ses to the door, let’s start a Ref­or­ma­tion!
Papal bulls, indul­gences, and transubstantiation!

Let’s raise our steins and Con­cord Books while gath­ered in this place,
And spread the word that ‘catholic’ is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfet­tered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! Oh…

Papal bulls, indul­gences, and tran­sub­stan­ti­a­tion –
Speak your mind against them and face excom­mu­ni­ca­tion!
Nail your the­ses to the door, let’s start a Ref­or­ma­tion!
Papal bulls, indul­gences, and transubstantiation!

kingdom currency

I first heard the phrase “king­dom cur­rency” used by a friend while I was in Kenya. He was refer­ring to the body of Christ shar­ing out of the same pocket. That’s exactly how our mis­sion team func­tioned the whole month in Kenya. Some­times I paid for everyone’s bus tick­ets, and then other days dif­fer­ent peo­ple paid for all my meals. No one kept track of money, we just paid for things as it came along. I have no idea how much I spent on oth­ers or how much was spent on me. It was a unique way of liv­ing, but what I con­sider a bib­li­cal way.

Like I said, that was unique. There were dif­fer­ent vari­ables on that trip that made that type of liv­ing con­ducive. Here in the States it can’t work exactly that way. How­ever, that same con­cept of one purse is healthy. I love being gen­er­ous. I’m always buy­ing peo­ple cof­fee or help­ing out where I can. I never look at the total or take a receipt. I don’t expect peo­ple to pay me back or return the favor. I just want other believ­ers to have the same will­ing­ness to give from their pocket.

It’s such a touchy sub­ject. I know bud­gets are a good thing, and you can’t spend with­out keep­ing track of your expenses to some extent. I gen­er­ally know my lim­its, and I know I’m not going to go broke by doing sim­ple things like buy­ing peo­ple cof­fee or a meal. Chris­tians need to real­ize that what we have is ulti­mately God’s, and there­fore if we see a need, we need to be more lib­eral than we prob­a­bly are with our money. It’s king­dom cur­rency and I choose to live it out.

John Flavel on Finding God’s Will

John Flavel:

If there­fore in doubt­ful cases you would dis­cover God’s will, gov­ern your­selves in your search after it by the fol­low­ing rules:

  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offend­ing him. God will not hide his mind from such a soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
  2. Study the Word more, and the con­cerns and inter­ests of the world less. The Word is light to your feet (Psalm 119:105), that is, it has a dis­cov­er­ing and direct­ing use­ful­ness as to all duties to be done and dan­gers to be avoided…
  3. Reduce what you know into prac­tice, and you shall know what is your duty to prac­tice. “If any man do his will he shall know of the doc­trine” (John 7:17). “A good under­stand­ing have all they that do his com­mand­ments” (Psalm 111:10).
  4. Pray for illu­mi­na­tion and direc­tion in the way that you should go.Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that he would not per­mit you to fall into sin…
  5. And this being done, fol­low Prov­i­dence so far as it agrees with the Word and no fur­ther. There is no use to be made of Prov­i­dence against the Word, but in sub­servience to it.

The Mys­tery of Prov­i­dence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Ban­ner of Truth Trust, 2006), 188–9, empha­sis mine.

HTJonathan Par­nell

live simply, live radically: making friends

All of you are prob­a­bly famil­iar with the hit work­out pro­gram P90X. Well they’ve come out with a new pro­gram called P90X+ for those who are ready to go beyond the orig­i­nal pro­gram for a greater chal­lenge. Liv­ing sim­ply is a stretch for some peo­ple but if liv­ing sim­ply isn’t rad­i­cal enough, I have some more chal­lenges for the “élite”.

Remem­ber, every­thing on this site is to help you live more ful­fill­ing lives that are extra­or­di­nary, break­ing the sta­tus quo. Do I have life fig­ured out? No, but do what you read, and it is guar­an­teed to work.

Meet strangers

I hear it all the time from friends that they strug­gle with mak­ing friends, find­ing peo­ple to do things with. Plain and sim­ple, they’re lonely. These are cool peo­ple, they’re not socially inept, but social­iz­ing just isn’t work­ing for them. It’s almost as if they expect rela­tion­ships to just hap­pen. Here’s the truth, 9 out of 10 times it’s up to you to make rela­tion­ships happen.

The major­ity of our rela­tion­ships are formed through com­mon activ­i­ties such as church, school and sports teams. The prob­lem with those rela­tion­ships is they’re usu­ally formed around one par­tic­u­lar inter­est, and those peo­ple you meet in those venues don’t usu­ally have much more in com­mon than that one interest.

So, get out there and start meet­ing peo­ple out­side your nor­mal venues. Wher­ever you go (ie gas sta­tions, cof­fee houses, restau­rants, etc) seek to engage peo­ple on a deeper level than the typ­i­cal transaction.

Peo­ple are wired to be self-​​centered (if you don’t believe me, than you’ve obvi­ously never spent much time around a 2yr old). To make friends you need to view oth­ers as more impor­tant than your­self and look at oth­ers inter­ests as more impor­tant than your own. I know you want a friend but you first need to be a friend before you can have a friend. When I meet some­one and engage with them, I treat them like we’ve been best friends. It’s not the cul­tural norm how fast and aggres­sively I pur­sue rela­tion­ships, but it works.

Take risks with strangers

When I meet some­one that I think has poten­tial, I make sure to get a num­ber, send them a quick text so I’m in their phone, and within a cou­ple days try to set up a lunch date or activ­ity. I love being gen­er­ous, so I always pay at our first meet up. It may or may not go any­where from there, but that’s ok. Some friend­ships last a week and oth­ers for years. It’s impor­tant to take life one day at a time and squeeze the most out of it. Don’t try to live a ful­fill­ing life for 10yr, strive just for today.

Remem­ber, treat strangers like they’re your best friend. To me that seems like how Jesus would’ve treated peo­ple. So share what you have freely with every­one, it’s not yours any­way. God gave it to you and he can take it away just as fast.

Don’t be afraid to invite strangers over to your house. Lis­ten, if you really want to be used by God and you say that you’re will­ing to be sent any­where, then this shouldn’t be an issue. How do you expect to be will­ing to be sent to the Mid­dle East with your fam­ily to preach the Gospel if you’re afraid of hav­ing strangers around your home and fam­ily here in the US?

Be con­sis­tent

Meet­ing strangers is a good prac­tice, but some­times hav­ing famil­iar­ity is good also. After all, one way to meet strangers is for friends to intro­duce you to their friends. So, become a reg­u­lar. Even if it’s 2mi out of the way, go to the same gas sta­tion. Even if you don’t feel like cof­fee one week, hit up a local cof­fee shop regularly.

Be con­sis­tent with ini­ti­at­ing activ­i­ties. Don’t invite some­one you just met out to lunch once and then expect them to ini­ti­ate the next activ­ity. With social media on the rise, it’s an undis­puted fact that peo­ple are get­ting worse at know­ing how to social­ize. Some­times we need to give peo­ple a lit­tle help.

Here’s the for­mula for mak­ing a best friend. Treat the per­son like they are your best friend, inter­act reg­u­larly and serve them.

Don’t be picky

I’m the worst at this. I want friends but I’m super picky about who I want to be friends with. You have to have the right looks, be on my “level”, be well con­nected, etc. I know, sounds pretty super­fi­cial, right? I’m just being hon­est and work­ing on it.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons from my brother, Jonathan. He is the man. Peo­ple flock around my brother, and it’s almost like he doesn’t even try. Here’s my the­ory about him. He shows no par­tial­ity to peo­ple. He’s kind to every­one (which I am too) but he goes beyond that and includes/​hangs out with the “unpop­u­lar” kids even though my bro ranks high on the cool kids meter. That says a lot about his char­ac­ter and I think other peo­ple notice and it makes him a very attrac­tive person.

This is an off the cuff blog post. It’s not meant to rank high on Google, but I hope it at least gives you some things to chew on. Set goals. Meet 1 new per­son a week, fig­ure out where you’re going to hang, etc. Now get out there and make some friends.