Beyond the Border: The Final Chapter

Back in summer of 2014, Jordan and I had much we wanted to say and little to no idea what we were doing. Nevertheless, we embarked on the experiment of Borderland.
Throughout our writing partnership, we learned much about God, the world, and ourselves. We learned more about how to write what we wanted to convey, and even more about opening our eyes to what God was and is doing around us.

Though we are still committed to such, it is with a paradoxical blend of light and heavy hearts that we announce the end of Borderland.

There are many reasons. Our lives have both changed dramatically. We started this journey as idiot bachelors, and are now both idiot married guys. We moved farther in terms of vocation. We have both seen old dreams and expectations fall apart epically and new unexpected ones set before us.

We have both changed in terms of life, beliefs, and other things. Now, new paths have been set before us and we know we must take those.

However, we will always treasure the lessons learned and friends made during this time.

Both of us will continue writing, of course, and we invite you all to keep following us. Jordan has a new blog in which he will show his findings in the exploration of better covenant theology, and as for me (Adam), I’ve joined up with a blog called Rogue Millennials, a group that explores the good and bad of life, faith, and church from a millennial perspective.

As we part ways here and take new roads, remember with us to be brave, be kind, love hard, and in ALL things, especially the crappy parts, seek God. Thank you all for reading, following, and praying. May God bless you all in your journeys as well.

Peace out, y’all!

– Adam and Jordan

To continue following Jordan: The Jordan Evans Blog

To continue following Adam: Rogue Millennials

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No, You Didn’t Fall Into Sin..

King David will forever be one of my favorite characters in the Bible. For some reason, his life, both his insight into the presence of God and his failures, have always fascinated me. I’ve asked myself several times, how could someone so connected to the presence of God, in a way that some of us only dream of being connected, find himself in the center of cover-up conspiracy similar to a modern-day political thriller? How could he “fall into sin”?

I’ve heard that phrase several times in my life, especially in student ministry..”Well, I was at her house watching a movie, her parents were gone for the weekend, and once the clock said 2:00am, I figured it was time for me to leave..But I didn’t want her to be alone, so I stayed a while longer..And we went upstairs for a while and we fell into sin.”

Is that “falling” into sin?

The other day whole reading the story of David and Bathsheba, I noticed something I had never seen before in my previous times of reading the story..

“In the spring of the year, the time WHEN KINGS GO OUT TO BATTLE, David SENT Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. BUT DAVID REMAINED AT JERUSALEM.” (2 Samuel 11:1, ESV)

It was war season and King David, who in previous passages was usually on the front lines taking cities with his mighty men of valor, made the choice to stay home. He was not where he was supposed to be, and generally speaking, 98% of the stories I hear of someone “falling into sin” is because of this very reason.

“Her parents weren’t home”..”2:00am”…”It was Spring Break and it was late”.. Sound familiar?

Let’s be honest for a minute. I started this blog with “…how could someone so connected to the presence of God fall into sin” for a reason. As New Covenant Christians we are more connected to the presence of God than anyone in the Old Testament, including King David. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and because of that, we are free to make our own choices without any kind of inside or outside force “forcing” us to do something (2 Cor 3:17, Galatians 5:1). It also means that we can’t use excuses for the choices we make. The devil didn’t MAKE you do it, your “flesh” didn’t MAKE you do it, you MADE a choice to surrender your freedom for a lie – the age old lie that you are missing something and need someone or something to make you whole apart from God. It was the lie Adam and Eve believed, it was the lie David believed, and it is the lie our flesh loves to throw at us. But what is the flesh?

Your ‘flesh’ is really just the system of beliefs and thought-patterns that developed while you were ‘in Adam.’

We are saved, we are holy, we are free, and we are new creations, but there are times when the flesh, the tendency in all of us to meet our needs apart from Jesus, has a desire that is contrary to the Holy Spirit and our new nature in Jesus. You see, the flesh isn’t a “who” and contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t a force or your “sin nature.” Your sin nature, or “old man” was crucified and buried with Jesus (Col 2:11-15). Your “flesh” is really just the system of beliefs and thought-patterns that developed while you were “in Adam,” keeping you from living in faith and resting in the goodness and promises of God. Your flesh is the desire to try and earn, work, and force things to happen for your benefit. I honestly believe this what Paul was referencing in Galatians 3:2-6,

“…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law,or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

The flesh is intimately connected to the Law, but the Spirit is intimately connected to faith.

Notice how Paul uses Law and Flesh almost interchangeably in this passage. The flesh is intimately connected to the Law, but the Spirit is intimately connected to faith. The truth is, everything you could ever want or need is found in the person and presence of Jesus and the only way to access this supply is through faith. Walking in faith is walking by the Spirit.

Everything you could ever want or need is found in the person and presence of Jesus and the only way to access this supply is through faith.

You’re free. You make choices. Jesus loves you, and forgiveness is a promise (1 John 1:9). Nothing outside of you or inside of you controls you, but with our freedom we mistakes and bad choices, especially when we decide to try and meet our need for love, pleasure, etc. outside of Jesus. We have choices in every situation, whether we want to believe it or not. Sometimes the best choice is to leave, and in some instances it would have been wise to never have gone in the first place. We’re forgiven, we’re holy, and we’re new creations, and this will never change, but we cannot blame anyone else when we make a bad choice.

Vacation: Had To Get Away

Six months. Call it a sabbatical, vacation, or hiatus, the point was that I was going to give up something I loved for six months so I could spend time learning, loving, and being loved – something which was desperately needed for myself and my new, beautiful, exhausted bride.

 

Honestly, I thought I would go crazy. Six months without serving in any kind of leadership role, ministry, or team, and that six months was to only be the beginning -we purposefully included a contingency plan for if we felt the need to take more time away and rest.

 

The situation was that I had reached a point in ministry and life called “burnout.” I had been going so hard for so long, without any real kind of rest, and it got to me. It got to my wife too. I started in ministry when I was fifteen years old; leading worship ministries, organizing and leading student ministries, doing day-to-day church administration, and on top of that, I was a full-time college student and worked outside the church. Now, it wasn’t always like this – responsibilities and obligation were slowly added to the mix, and most (if not all) of the stress on my life was my fault. In fact, I’ll never forget the Sunday afternoon where I looked at my wife in her tired eyes and said, “I love Jesus, I love the presence of God, and I want to see revival, but if I don’t take a break for a while, I feel like I’m going to die.”

 

It felt like I was being choked to death, but it was my own hands which I saw around my neck. To make matters worse, I hated myself for it all – I was believing a lie about myself that said my importance to the Kingdom was based on how much I was doing and how busy I was making myself. Another lie even crept its way in, leading me to believe that my title was more important than my character – this isn’t to say I had character problems, just that I cared more about assumed-authority rather than Kingdom-servanthood based on the five-fold gifting upon my life.

 

In the the sixth months I took off, I believe every single one of these issues and more were dealt with, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you. My heart is that you read these words and apply them to your life right now, so you don’t have to go through everything I did.

 

Before you ever pick up a microphone, know who you are.

 

I jumped into ministry at the young age of fifteen. This had some benefits, but some significant problems. Mainly, I had no idea what I was doing. My parents had been teaching me leadership and ministry principles my entire life, but it was more like the whole “wax on, wax off” lessons from Karate Kid. They would say, “When you’re leading, do this and this, don’t do this, and never say this,” but I was always too busy playing PlayStation to really understand or reflect on what I was being taught.

 

I had a crazy experience when I was fifteen, where I knew ministry was going to be a huge part of my life. My problem from the start was that I was all heart, and no head. I rushed onto a platform without taking the time to understand who I am – a son, loved by his Father. I don’t know where the lie crept in, but for the first few years of ministry, my serving in ministry was in order to reach the prize of God’s love and favor. I preached, led worship, prayed for the sick, prophesied in order to please Him so I could have favor, and sadly I have wrestled with this lie for years. Even when I finally recognized it was a lie, I still wrestled with it.

 

I find it interesting that before Jesus even began His public ministry, the Father wanted to make Jesus knew who He was – His beloved Son (Matthew 3:17). There was a rending of the heavens above Jesus that was directly connected to God’s declaration of Him being His son, and everything Jesus did on earth was tied to this moment in His life and ministry. Jesus was God, yes, but while on earth He lived as a Son walking in full union with the Father, making this lifestyle possible for us as well.

 

Over the last 6 months, I focused on this topic. I read every book I could find on grace, love, the Father’s heart, sonship and identity. I finally found freedom in this area, and now I wholeheartedly believe that an understanding of sonship and identity are foundational not only to our relationship with the Father, but also with the rest of creation.

 

Learn to say no, even when you want to say yes.

 

One of the greatest revelations my wife and I received is that we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity. When we first made the decision to take a break, my wife said, “You know, as soon as we take this break, there are going to be a lot of opportunities open in front of us, but we’ll have to say no.” And that’s what happened, over and over again. Days after making the decision, I was offered a position at a relatively large Southern Baptist church, days later I was asked to lead a college ministry, and one day after that a man asked if I was interested in planting a church in his community, using one of his properties and financial backing. I turned all of these down because: one, I didn’t believe they were from the Lord, and two, I wanted to remain faithful to rest.

 

Rest is probably the hardest thing for us to do, especially in modern times. It’s an act of dependency and faith, trusting in God alone for the fulfillment of His promises. It means I don’t wake up in the morning begging God to move for me or open doors, and I certainly don’t try my hardest to make things happen – that, my friend, is how you give birth to an Ishmael (see Genesis 16). God is faithful, He always has been faithful, and He always will be faithful, even when it seems like He has forgotten about you.

 

It has been almost three months since stepping back into ministry and serving, and I love it. My wife and I feel rested, refreshed, and ready to serve in whatever way we’re asked. We plugged into an awesome church, made some new friends, and we finally feel healthy now. The greatest testimony I could ever share with someone is this: I’ve served while exhausted and sick, and I’ve served while refreshed and healthy.. Refreshed and healthy wins, hands down. Remember, the Sabbath was made for you – resting is faith, and faith is resting.

 

I’ve served while exhausted and sick, and I’ve served while refreshed and healthy.. Refreshed and healthy wins, hands down.

A Breakup Letter to Theology


Dear Theology,

This is hard for me to say, and I don’t know where to start…

But I think we should take a break…I think we should see other people…I need some space…you get the idea.

I’m breaking up with you, and I want you to understand why.

When this whole thing started between us, it was new and exciting. You seemed so intense, complex, mysterious; and dare i say it, sexy. We had this whirlwind romance between us and it seemed so perfect. I even had part of my identity wrapped up in you as an aspiring theologian.

But things have changed, because I’ve had some realizations, and it’s only fair that I make them known to you.

Sometimes, you really seem to love drama.

One would think that studying you would help to bring believers closer together and unify them. Not really. I can’t tell you how many bitter social media comment section battles I’ve seen waged over you. People go for the jugular with one another if anyone should dare to disagree with their opinions concerning you. In fact, some of the ugliest battles I’ve seen have been over you.

It’s like a big battle royale of premillennial, postmillennial, amillennial, complementarian, egalitarian, eternal conscious torment, annihilationism, universalism, conditionalism, penal substitution, Christus Victor, feminism, liberationism; and the list goes and on. Sometimes it seems like all studying you amounts to is fighting, and I’m so tired of fighting.

Sometimes, you call too much attention to yourself

Studying you can be exciting, but you draw so much attention to the intellectual aspects of faith, that the mystic nature of it can be lost. True, some level of academic study is necessary to contextually understand scripture to its fullest, but sometimes it feels like the academic study dwarfs everything else, and then the Bible just becomes another textbook or reference source. Believe me, I want to know more and to learn all I can. But it’s far too easy to get lost in the shuffle of articles, papers, studies, et cetera; and watch the magic disappear and the faith get sucked out of the faith in exchange for academic understanding.

I need more…

I need more than cold mechanical academics. I need more than arguments that are great for reasonable belief, but not so much for faith. I need a continual walk full of mystery and wonder instead of an extended class.

So, I need a break…

Maybe not forever, but for a while. I need time to reorient myself and rediscover the magic, and I need space away from you to do so.

Please know that I still love you, and I hope we can still be friends. I want to know more, but right now, I need a different and more intimate kind of knowing that seemed to get lost in the shuffle between us. I know you’re not the villain here, but I still need some space. I hope you can understand.

Sincerely yours,

Adam

Story and Statement: Finding God and Rediscovering Myself in the Narrative, Not Systematics

imageI remember the first time I heard the word “narrative” as it relates to theology and Biblical study. Before this time, I had been pouring myself into studying book after book of systematic theologies – books which have the sole purpose of trying to outline and map beliefs about God from the perspective of certain denominations and movements. But when I heard these words, “narrative theology,” it felt like something had blown into the room. A peaceful uneasiness, like an invitation to explore a place I had been before, but from an entirely new perspective or starting point.

I have long considered myself a teacher. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to “make sense” of the Bible so I could explain it to people. This drove me to read anything and everything I could get my hands on; I’ve probably spent thousands on books in my short 24 year life. But, systematic theologies were somehow like a life-preserver for me. After years of reading and studying, I found it hard to believe anything about anything, because I read all the perspectives from all the authors and I believed everything they said as being the “truth.” It was when I found a theology book, I finally came to the conclusion, “This is how to understand God and the Bible.” No more study, no more debating, just find the systematic I liked, written by the pastor/teacher I liked, and I’ll have all I need. Little did I know, this would be death to my Spirit, and something God would consistently try to pull me away from throughout the years, though I would never listen.

Years later, having coffee with a friend, I began to open up to him. “I feel dead inside.. I know theologically that God loves me, I know theologically that I’m justified by faith, and I know theologically that my sins are forgiven, but I feel dead..Like there is nothing about God or my relationship with Him that is driving me to pursue Him anymore.” It was here, in this local coffeeshop that I was discovering the truth of who I was at the time; a man who had pursued knowledge of God, but not God Himself, and this was killing me. My friend, a local Pastor, spoke the words that brought life and anguish, peace and uneasiness; “Jordan, God has never invited anyone to study Him and make statements about Him..But He has called everyone into relationship, intimacy, and to join Him in the story of redemption.” I don’t know if it was the Spirit of God on what He said, or if it was the thought of all the money and time I had waisted in trying to “know about” God instead of seeking Him, but I was now crying in front of strangers. Whatever it was, I felt a change in that moment. A rebirth of a younger me who used to stay up all night “chasing” after God, just wanting to see Him and feel Him in the room. A rebirth of a wild-er side of me that had long lost its sense of wonder and adventure due to being domesticated by “sound doctrine.”

This invitation into a narrative focus brought a new understanding of the purpose of theology, particularly systematics..

1. God’s overall narrative defines my understanding of systematic theology, not the other way around.

This one was particularly hard for me. As a student of theology, most of my vocabulary revolved around 8 syllable words for particular ideas. Do not get me wrong..Systematic theology and the study of church doctrine is important, and to be honest, I still thumb through theology books every once in a while, but my understanding of God’s redemptive narrative informs my understanding of systematic theology..Not the other way around. If I read something in a book that contradicts the overall narrative of scripture, I throw it out. That simple. Understandably, this ruffles some feathers in some of the circles I walk in.

2. My relationship with God is defined by the narrative, not a series of systematic statements.

The same goes for my relationship with God. Most systematics begin their theological understanding of God’s relationship with mankind at Genesis 3, which to be honest, is horrible. From this perspective, mankind is something God tolerates, granting relationship with some people, but ultimately desiring good behavior from everyone in order to be loved by Him..But if your theological understanding begins in Gensis 1, you see God desperately wants relationship with man, going on a rescue mission to redeem His lost sons and daughters. God wants me, He loves me, and His desire is for me to love Him. That’s it. Because of this, and His sacrifice, I can walk boldly into His room and spend time with Him whenever I want to, and He doesn’t have to “put up” with me.

3. My ministry, and what God has called me to, is now defined by His open invitation of reconciliation to all people.

My ministry drastically changed. No longer was ministry about getting behind a pulpit and making statements about God, nor was it solely about “getting souls saved” to add notches to a belt. I had been invited into the ministry of reconciliation between God and man, an intercessor and ambassador for the Kingdom. I represent the King everywhere I go, and with every word I say, and I can only do and say what He tells me to. Ministry is now about welcoming people into new life, teaching them how to live a new life with God in His story, then teaching them how to go out and be ministers of reconciliation as well.

Narrative has caused me to reclaim myself, and now I am inviting you into the same narrative. The story of God’s love, redemption, and reconciliation.

Red Cup Special: What Rahab Can Teach Us About #MerryChristmasStarbucks

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    What the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is to your textbook “basic white girl”, the Gingerbread latte is to me. The drinking of this wondrous brew, which is aptly described as Christmas magic in a cup, is nothing short of a transcendental experience. In fact, my girlfriend insists on being present when I have my first one of the season, so that she can see my facial expressions of bliss and make fun of me for them. However, my joy in the Gingerbread Latte faces a threat, in that according to Joshua Feuerstein, in order to be a great Christian and American and enjoy my latte simultaneously, I have to be a total jerk.

    As you likely already know, Feuerstein, an Arizona-based “evangelist” and social media personality, recently made a video that went viral, in which he accuses Starbucks of hating Jesus and being against Christmas in regard to their new plain red holiday cups, claiming that Starbucks had removed “Merry Christmas” from their cups and forbade their employees from saying such. While the authenticity of these claims could be challenged, I’ll avoid such as a friend of mine already wrote on that. Plus, that’s hardly the pinnacle of this pile of insanity. Feuerstein went on brag about having worn a Jesus shirt and brought in a gun to be intentionally offensive. However, the worst part of his tirade was where he stated how when asked for a name to put on his cup, he gave it as “Merry Christmas” in order to force the barista to put it on the cup, then claimed victory in having “tricked Starbucks into putting Merry Christmas on their cup”, and called on others to pull the same deceitful gag and post it on social media, designating the “movement” as #MerryChristmasStarbucks.

    It’s not hard to tell that this “movement” is crap. We could focus on the ridiculousness of Feuerstein’s claims, the disgusting nature of his purposefully offensive manner, or his call for an idiotic militancy. But the worst part of this whole debacle is the fact that the Christianity proposed here is a fraud. Instead of a faith that seeks Jesus and his matchless grace, we see one that desires control over society and people.

#MerryChristmasStarbucks perpetuates a Christianity which craves relevance and power instead of Jesus.

    This sort of Christianity, among all its other problems, lacks authenticity. It doesn’t point to the true heart of God, but instead portrays an attempt at conquest of culture that pushes others away from the love of Christ. Unfortunately, this sort of thing has become all too normal these days, a “Christianity” that lives for a fight more than healing a broken world, and in this, many are soured to the message of grace. When Christianity is more concerned with winning the Christmas and culture wars and less concerned with ministering to the hurting, people notice and walk away.

It’s completely possible to be so obsessed with “keeping Christ in Christmas”, that we fail to keep Christ in us.

    In the midst of all this insanity that sends many running for the hills away from the Church, there is a clear calling going out to those that wish to make a true difference in the world, those that truly wish to realize the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth rather than conquering a culture.

   

We owe it to a hurting world to be the bearers of an authentic Gospel.

    Contrary to all this tomfoolery, the power of an encounter with an authentic God is life-changing, and it is this sort of encounter that we are called to bring forth in the world. In scripture, we can see such in the life of Rahab. When we meet her, Rahab is a prostitute in Jericho living in a house built into the city wall (the bad part of town). Things slowly begin to shift when Jericho begins receiving news of the Israelites and the power exercised by their mighty God, which strikes fear into the city. When Israelite spies come, the encounter with God becomes even more real. Rather than giving into fear, Rahab decides to take a chance and hides the spies from the city authorities, even the king. She even goes so far as to help the spies escape, advises them in a safe return, and brokers a deal for her family’s safety in the coming invasion of Jericho. We could argue this as just being cunning, but why did she hide them in the first place? Why not give them up? Perhaps the answer is simply this:

Rahab encountered the message of an authentic God, and it inspired her to want more and better.

    Of course, we know the story of what happened after. Jericho falls to the power of God before Israel, and the promise for salvation is kept for Rahab and her family, who become part of Israel. Rahab later marries, bears a son named Boaz (yep, that Boaz), and goes on to become part of the ancestry of both David and Jesus. All of this is traced back to one point, where Rahab comes face to face with the message of an authentic God, and is changed when she responds.

The encounter with an authentic God changed Rahab’s life. We have the opportunity to offer that same change to the world around us. But first we have to be authentic messengers of an authentic God.

    This world has had enough of culture wars and conquests. It’s sick of hearing reasons of why Jesus will hate you if you vote Democrat. It’s sick of people who choose consolidating power over consoling the broken. It’s had enough of “Christians” who care more about coffee cups than people. It’s time we laid aside all this idiocy and took hold once again of a living Gospel of an authentic God, because we need it’s changing power just as much as this world does. It’s time for us to leave behind #MerryChristmasStarbucks to give the world something far more authentic.

It’s time to be real Christians serving a real God again.

Written and Posted by Adam McBroon

The Gutsiest Gal in the Bible…or…What Christians Can Learn From Ruth

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    As it may have been noticed, I haven’t written in a while. This is due in part to my returning to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree at Lee University. Being a student once again has been eye opening, especially in classes concerning theology, ministry, and the Bible. In these classes, I have learned many new and challenging things, one in particular being this:

    When it comes to the Bible, your vantage point matters.

    The viewpoint from which we consider the Bible and what it has to say can affect the picture drastically. Just like the rest of the world around us, how the Bible appears to us depends on what lens we are looking through.

    This idea of viewpoint struck me in respect to one of my favorite books of the Bible: Ruth. Granted, I am somewhat a hopeless romantic, so I do like that there is a good love story in the Bible, especially after all the insanity in Judges. Plus, it’s easy to read and only 4 chapters long.

    But in looking back, I realized this is much more than a romance. Ruth is not simply a story about a Moab girl, living in lonely world…(Sorry, couldn’t resist). This is not a story about a good girl who loves her mama, loves Jesus, and Israel too (Okay, last one, I promise).

    Ruth is not simply a story about a doe-eyed girl from Moab who sticks with her mother-in-law and eventually lands herself a man.

    Ruth is a story about a tough woman of faith and conviction who put that faith to work; and we as Christians can learn a great deal from her.

    In looking at Ruth’s story, we can see some qualities that speak to us as Christians and how we should walk in our own faith.

1. Ruth was firm in her conviction, even when it meant leaving everything behind.

    “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go., and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17; ESV)

    This passage is hardcore, pure and simple. This isn’t just “Mama, I’ll never leave you.” Ruth is actively attaching herself to Naomi, and in such is breaking ties with her country, her gods, and her family. She leaves all that behind and gives her full loyalty to Naomi, taking Israel as her own people and Yahweh as her God. Ruth leaves everything behind for the love of her mother-in-law, and in such aligns herself with the One True God. She knows what she is leaving behind, but still she stands firm in her stance and doesn’t look back.

2. Ruth persevered in a rough place and kept going.

    So let’s say that you decided to leave all you’ve ever known behind for loyalty to your severely depressed mother-in-law, who now changes her name from Naomi, meaning “pleasant”, to Mara, meaning “bitter”, stating that God has made her bitter. So now, with no man of the house, you are responsible for providing food for you and Miss Sunshine, and must do so by gleaning as a field as a foreigner, where you’re already not well liked for being such. On top of that, you’re a widow who didn’t produce a child in her previous marriage. So yeah, not much street cred there.

    Still, that didn’t stop Ruth. She worked tirelessly in the fields to gather food. When noticed by Boaz, he tells her to follow his servants in her gleaning, guaranteeing her more food. He also invites her to lunch with his staff, then instructs them to leave more for her on purpose. While we can cutesy this up and say that it was Boaz flirting and trying to impress Ruth (and parts of it could have been), let’s not lose sight of the reason Boaz shows favor toward Ruth.

    “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:11-12; ESV)

    Ruth knew what she was getting into, but still persevered, and that perseverance brought about favor with Boaz, provision for her and Naomi, and later began bringing joy back to Naomi. When we walk the walk that comes with our talk, it’s amazing where it can take us.

3. Ruth didn’t shy away from taking a risk on a huge step of faith.

    In seeking security for Ruth, Naomi advises her to wash and perfume herself and dress in her finest, and to go to Boaz where he is working on the threshing floor of his field and make her desire to be his wife known. Again, consider that Ruth is a childless foreign widow. Despite the fact that her hard work and loyalty to Naomi is helping her reputation, she is still rather low on the totem pole. Plus, there were a litany of negative possibilities. Boaz could have refused her, possibly banned her from further gleaning in his fields, taken advantage of her, have her beaten and/or killed, etc. On top of that, her intentions could possibly have been mistaken by Boaz or a potential onlooker for being immoral. There were dozens of reasons to welch out. There are always reasons to abandon our deepest dreams.

    Despite these possibilities of crashing and burning, Ruth stepped forward in faith and made her intentions known to Boaz, who reciprocated them, to the point of making a public business deal to secure the right to marry her from a more viable kinsman redeemer and publicly declaring his intention to marry Ruth. There’s no guarantee that we won’t fall flat on our faces, but the rewards that come with stepping past the risks in faith are well worth it.

    Looking back on this story of loyalty and love, we can find great inspiration for our daily lives. This story can be a source of strength and encouragement in standing firm in conviction, persevering against opposition, and walking in faith toward our dreams. Just as Ruth changed her vantage point of her family as Naomi, Israel as her country, and Yahweh as her God; just as I experienced how a change in vantage point can change what we see in the Bible, perhaps changing the vantage point of your faith in God can bring about a shift that leads you to walking in strength and faith.

Written and Posted by Adam McBroon

Confessions of an Epic Jerk: A Redemption Story That’s Over 9000

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Besides this blog, Jordan and I also share a love for the classic anime Dragon Ball Z and its companion movies and series. What can I say? Guys love stories that involve fighting and being able to fly and shoot energy blasts. Aside from a bacon tree, that’s the dream.

While Jordan is a die hard Goku fan, my favorite character hands down is Vegeta, mainly because I love a good redemption story.

To give a quick overview, Vegeta starts out as a complete jerk and the main villain of the series. Over time, necessity forces him to align with the heroes against a common foe. He later joins them as a fellow defender of Earth, but only out of obligation. Seeing Goku as his great rival, he plunges back into evil for a chance to defeat him, but soon finds it may cost him everything he holds dear. Vegeta then makes considerable sacrifices and faces up to all the evil he’s done. He opens himself to goodness and love, and goes from a selfish villain to a family man, hero, and close friend to his former enemy.

As I said, I love this character because I love a good redemption story.

Redemption stories are epic, especially when your own life is one.

For me, such is very much the case. The road that led me to the heart of Jesus comes out of a great wasteland of sin and selfishness. The time spent in that wasteland and the exodus thereof is now the story I will tell; so be forewarned, it’s kinda gritty.

In 2004, I went to Lee University with big dreams of being the next big name youth pastor. By May 2007, I became disillusioned and apathetic and decided to quit. I railed against God for this happening, but really, the fault was my own.

So from there I went into job hopping, drifting through life, slowly ignoring God, and eventually looked for happiness in the party scene. In 2009, I met a woman and things got hot and heavy pretty fast. Six months later, we moved in together, and a year after that, we found out we were having a child. Then came September 2, 2011, the greatest day of my life, when I held my son for the first time.

At the time of my son’s birth, his mother and I were engaged. All in all, I was a pretty good father. As for a good fiancé, not really. We fought, a lot; and I fought dirty. I was quite emotionally abusive towards her. Her past was a bit more checkered than mine. She had sown more wild oats, and I used it as a weapon, frequently. But in reality, I was jealous that I hadn’t really had my own wild phase. I thought that I had missed out and took it out on her. I made that longing into an idol, and it yielded pain and destruction.

In the days leading to what would’ve been our wedding, I was an impossible jerk to her. As a last ditch effort to pacify things, she offered a “free pass” for me to have one outside experience before the wedding. I sought to make use of it during my bachelor party, but only ended up with a night in jail for public intoxication.

Soon, due to cold feet and conflict, we decided to cancel the wedding. The idea was to take time to work on us and be better prepared for a marriage. But I believed that I was still entitled to my “free pass”.

Sin thrives on a sense of entitlement.

So I still sought to use my free pass, including posting Internet ads to attract any takers. But soon, she found out and was hurt and livid. Of course, it was done there and we went our separate ways. Granted, in hindsight her and I went together like oil and water. But because of my selfishness, a family was broken. That doesn’t get fixed.

When we make ourselves into our own god, destruction and pain will always be the results.

So we went our separate ways, and I went into a long chain of depravity, one girl after another, always making them objects and saying whatever to get what I wanted. That kind of existence has a high price. Thankfully, I avoided any biological consequences, but as Taylor Swift says, “You live like that, you live with ghosts.” And the house of my life was very  haunted.

Among all this, my spiritual life was a sham. I was virtually agnostic, deciding that if God existed, then He was a series of four-letter words for letting my life be how it was. I pushed away God and people, but continued in church attendance to appease my family. It was all a show, and I endured every service with a stone heart.

But here’s the thing about stone hearts: they can’t be maintained forever, and mine had quite a few cracks.

Finally, one day, I broke. I admitted I needed God and rededicated. I admitted I needed community and got involved in groups. I admitted I had to face my demons and confessed my sins to my new brothers and sisters. The farther I went with this, the more I realized that I had pursued a false freedom. But now, true healing and freedom could begin.

Despite the junk and grime of our pasts, God is always calling us to freedom and to see ourselves as His beloved children.

To paraphrase the words of Father Gregory Boyle in his book “Tattoos on the Heart”…

The world looks at us and says Empty. God says Enough. The world looks at us and says Finished, but God seeks to lead us to Fullness.”

God began to drive me to be better than what I was. Then He prepared to take me out of the wasteland and into the Kingdom. Where I saw only a cautionary tale, God saw a storyteller and brought me to writing for this blog. Where I saw just a failure, God saw a leader and eventually brought me to being a leader in my church’s middle school ministry, which has been greatly rewarding. God has made me face faults, and now I am returning to school to finish what I started. I saw only jaded and damaged goods, but God introduced me to the woman that has shown me what it really means to love unselfishly.

In this call to change, God has also made me a better father, son, friend, worker, and person in general.

I love redemption stories because I am one.

No matter where you are or have come from, you are as well. Trust me on this:

All the redemption stories God writes are great ones.

So to live out your redemption story, remember a few things.

1. God sees you as better than what or where you are, and is calling you to better.

God sees you and all your potential, no matter what your past and/or present looks like. The fact that He sees better in you is more than enough reason to be that better. Take your faith out of your own power and put it in God’s, and He will guide you to being better than you saw yourself.

2. Quit running and own up to your junk.

You’re going to have to face up to all your dirty deeds eventually. That’s just life. But it’s okay. After all, you can’t have a redemption story without something to be redeemed from. Just admit all you’ve done to God. Own up to it, be an adult, and admit it. And then leave it at the throne of God. You don’t need the junk anymore; you never did.

3. Stop loving yourself more than everyone else.

Jesus wasn’t kidding about that “love your neighbor as yourself” thing. He meant it. We’re good at the love your neighbor part, just not the as yourself. But take that to heart. I left a trail of hurt behind me because I refused to love anyone as much as me. Sin thrives when we make ourselves number one and render love unbalanced. So how do we balance love properly? Two things: Love God most, and love others as much as you love you. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

4. The hardest part…Forgive yourself and move on.

This part is excruciatingly hard, but so necessary. God loves you and forgives you. He will no longer hold that sin over your head, so don’t do such to yourself. Forgive yourself and move on. To not do so is to say that God’s grace is inadequate, and nothing could be farther from the truth. To steal a quote from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, “Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.”

At one time or another, we all screw up and end up playing the villain in our own story. But the good news is that God will redeem you and your story by joining it to His. What’s more,God’s story is full of former villains converted into heroes for this world. A better life, a better calling, and a better story await you. The choice is yours.

Written and Posted by Adam McBroon

Towards an Apostolic Christianity..

Apostolic. You say it in some churches or around certain Christians and you’ll get dirty looks. You may even get told you’re a heretic if you talk about apostolic ministry being active in the church today. In their defense, there have been some pretty..Weird..People who have claimed to be “apostles” within the last hundred years or so, especially within the Southeastern United States (Apostle E.F., anyone?..The Apostle?..Robert Duvall? No? Okay..Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who has seen that movie..). For the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on apostles and the apostolic ministry. I keep coming back to the same questions over and over again: What if we’re all called to be apostles in some way or another? What if “apostle” isn’t just an office, but also a function?

Yes, you read that right, and no, I’m not crazy. As I reflected on these questions, I decided to read up and study apostolic ministries, compiling everything into this post. This is in no-way scholarly, nor is it argumentative..If you want to argue theology, find some first year Bible students. First, let’s look at the definition of what an apostle is, where the word originated, and why I believe we’re all called to be “apostles.”

*DISCLAIMER* I believe the office of Apostle is still active in the church today, and that only some people have been given that office. This piece is about Apostolic Christianity, not the office of an Apostle. For great teachings on the Apostolic office, as well as the rest of the Five-Fold, check out Jonathan Welton’s videos on YouTube here.

From what I can tell, there were three functions of an apostle:
1) An apostle was one who carried another culture with them everywhere they went.
2) They influenced and changed the culture to look like where they came from.
3) Finally, an apostle was someone who was “sent.” They were commanded to go as emissaries by royal decree.

The word “apostle” did not originate in the New Testament, but comes from around the reign of Alexander the Great. Once Alexander had either destroyed a territory or a nation had submitted themselves to his reign, he would send an “apostolos” into the towns and cities to change the culture to fit that of Greece. Ever wondered why the New Testament was written in Greek? An apostolos changed the culture. Ever wonder why Greek architecture seems to be everywhere in the Mediterranean? An apostolos changed the culture.

Sometimes, Apostoloi would march into a nation with the armies of Greece. Other times, Apostoloi would work their way into society slowly, but with precision, targeting specific areas of influence. For example, Apostoloi took Greek philosophy and language with them everywhere they went, influencing thinkers and education systems. Soon, they would hire contractors to build new buildings that reflected Greek style. This is imperative to understanding the function of an apostle: If you want to influence society, going in guns-blazing may not be the only way or the best way; you can also go in subtly and target specific areas of culture with precision. Subtle is the key word there. Some of my favorite scriptures are the ones where Jesus compares the Kingdom to both a mustard seed and leaven. When the Messiah and the Kingdom came onto the scene, there wasn’t a big show..Stars falling from heaven, angels descending from heaven, etc. The Kingdom came as a message, and the Messiah came as a baby. In contrast, there was spiritual conflict as the Kingdom fought against another kingdom.

So what does this information have to do with us?

What if I told you that we as followers of Jesus meet all of the requirements above to be considered “apostoloi,” but many of us just don’t know it?

1) We carry another culture with us
I don’t mean this in the typical “in this world, but not of it,” way. We literally carry another culture with us. Jesus said the “kingdom is in your midst,” meaning that He and His people were representatives of the Kingdom on earth (Luke 17:21). Everywhere we go, the Kingdom of heaven comes with us.

2) We’ve been charged with with changing the world to look like the culture we come from
When Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, He said to pray for it to be on earth as it is in heaven, because this is God’s will (Matthew 6:10). Think about this for a second..Every time you pray, you’re asking heaven to come be a part of whatever you’re praying about. Heaven invades when you pray, fulfilling God’s plans and purposes on earth.

3) We’ve been sent by royal decree
Do I really need to say it? Jesus told us to go. In fact, Jesus said that we are to go into all the world, and that we are to go because of His authority (Matthew 28:16-20)! The Great Commission is our royal decree by Jesus to change the world.

We need a fuller understanding of what it means to be apostolic in the church today. Though I believe the gift and function of the apostolic ministry is still active, an apostolic understanding of how the church is meant to operate is detrimental to proper ecclesiology and missiology. What are your thoughts? Comment and share to let us know!