When Missions Isn’t Sexy

Missions, Andes Mountains

I have been on a lot of mission trips. I have built churches in Mexico, spent weeks in the Andes’ Mountains, and slept on the ground of an orphanage.

I’ve never shared Jesus with my neighbor.

I discovered something recently. Mission trips are sexy. They attract our attention. That is why you are likely to jump at the chance to go. Everyday evangelism lacks appeal.

Let me give you some examples:

  • “Four weeks in the jungles of Brazil”
  • “Help rebuild Haiti”
  • “Dig wells in an African village”
  •  “Love street children in Thailand”
  • “Spend a month with the underground church”

Maybe you have been on these. Maybe you are planning on going. I really want to go to Thailand, I heard it will forever change my life.

Is it possible that missions serves my purposes more than it serves the purpose of God?

Do not misunderstand me, global missions is needed. God might want you to go on all five trips. The world is in desperate need of his redemptive power.

Mission trips are attractive because they require only a week or two of commitment. I get to travel somewhere new and experience a new culture. I benefit.

What happens when the mission God has called you to, is not sexy?

  • “Share the Gospel with your lab partner”
  • “Start a Bible study for your intramural team”
  • “Take your roommate to church”
  • “Wake up early and pray for your professor’s salvation”

I think these fall under the category of “unattractive”. They are not eye-popping. They are unattractive because they require actual commitment. No one will celebrate or ask to hear about this mission trip. You cannot put it on a resume or share pictures with your church.

I believe the true test of the great commission is found not in the attractive but the unattractive. It is found in the mundane not the extraordinary.

Would our campus look different if we embraced the unappealing?

Why travel the world when I can walk across the street?

Three Things Monday (FEB 24)

Sarah’s Story

Worth five minutes to read. “I went into my freshman year at college with a plan to kill myself by Christmas break. I had excelled academically in high school and often reveled in my own sense of superiority. I wore black, I read existential literature, I had a lip ring. I was enlightened. More than anything I wanted to be tragic and important.”

The Closing Ceremonies and the End of History

Ed Uszynski writes about the closing ceremonies and the peace we seek and the day we will find it. 

Marriage and Purity

Maybe you saw the picture that went viral last month. This is the story of the bride behind the picture.
“I wanted to share the story behind the photo for the hundreds of thousands of people who found inspiration through this sweet moment we had.”

Things That Do Not Make Sense

wonder, don't make sense


(of an idea or suggestion) wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate.

There are some absurd moments in the Bible.

There is a peculiar verse tucked away in an often time overlooked book of the Bible. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time reading Hebrews because, I’ll admit it too, its full of hard to understand statements. Buried in the middle of the book is an absurd passage.

Read Hebrews 12:2-3 with me. “…who for the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

 Is Jesus crazy? Did you catch the absurdity of this verse?

It says that before Jesus ever went to the cross, he looked towards the crucifixion with joy.

That statement screams, “You have to be kidding me!”

The Romans cross was the most excruciating and humiliating way a person could die. It was reserved for the worst of criminals. It was so treacherous that women were for the most part exempt from ever being crucified. The man would be stripped naked, beaten, and forced to carry his cross through the streets as people mocked him. By the time he reached his hill of death, he would be nailed to the cross and lifted up for all to see, where he slowly suffocated and died.

Yep, that’s my definition of a “joy-filled” afternoon. A once in a lifetime experience.

Seriously, is there anyone out there who is saying, “sign me up, sounds like a great way to spend my weekend!”

Why would Jesus think such a thing? Where is the joy in the cross?

You. Me. Us. The Church.

We are the joy. As Jesus was looking towards the cross he saw the washing away of our sins and the freedom that he would bring to us – and it brought him joy. He saw the reconciling of his people to himself and the pain, suffering, humiliation and shame was only a means to an end.

Wildly unreasonable and illogical. Sounds like the definition of grace.

What else is “absurd” about Jesus?

Seven Things New Christians Should Know

new Christian

New Christians are like a teenager learning to drive a manual car. You can probably learn to drive stick on your own, but you will stall out, get frustrated and probably want quit. It’s so much better when someone teaches you. You’ll still stall, probably get frustrated but at least someone is teaching you. You can grow as a Christian without help but it is so much better with a little direction.

Billy Graham said, “The decision is 5 percent, following up the decision is 95%. Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have.”

Here are seven things you should know as you begin your new life:


You need God. You need more of Him every day. God speaks to us through His Word. The most significant thing you will ever do in your life is listen. Find a common time and place, open up your Bible and read through a book. Jot down a few observations and what the passage is asking you to do. Feed yourself every day.


Do not listen to this lie that is running through your head: “I’m not ready to share my faith yet.” Just do it. Tell a friend, a sibling, parent or roommate. Tell them about the decision you made and why you made it. You will be nervous scared terrified. Thankfully someone overcame their fears and told you.


Call it what you want: a discipleship, mentorship or “you-know-more-than-me-ship”. Find someone who has been doing this Christian thing for a while and ask them to lead you. It is amazing how much you will grow when you do not have to go at it alone.


Paul said that we would spend our life working out our salvation (Phil 2:12). So, spend your life diving deeper and deeper into the pool that is the Gospel. His death, burial and resurrection is a mystery you will spend your entire life figuring out.


Do not hold yourself responsible for sins Jesus no longer holds against you. You are forgiven. You will still struggle with the same things you did before you met Jesus – that’s okay. You are free to struggle, you no longer have to struggle to be free.


Find people who gather together to worship and hear from His Word every week. The church is the people of God. Love God’s people – even when it is difficult. Worship, learn and grow in community. You need a pastor and a family to hold you accountable. You also need a place to serve. Make it a priority.


Pray. Pray when you make decisions. Pray when you are walking to class. Pray for your friends. Pray for your enemies. Pray when it difficult. Always pray. God speaks to you through the Bible, but he wants to hear from you in prayer.

Three Things Monday

Cork board, three things

Every Monday I’ll post three things worth checking out when you have a few free minutes.

1. Honoring Your Parents While Disagreeing With Them. Zachery Perkins writes, “So, how do we go about disagreeing with our parents while also keeping the commandment to ‘honor thy father and mother’? Here are five things to keep in mind when we face disagreements with our parents”

2. Facebook Knows When You Fall In love. What your Facebook activity reveals about your love life. Is the study true for you?

3. Toxic Porn, Toxic Sex. Gene McConnell: “On a cold, dark night, there’s nothing better than a blazing fire in the fireplace. It’s safe, warm, relaxing and romantic. Now take that same fire out of the fireplace and drop it in the middle of the living room. Suddenly it becomes destructive. Sex is like that fire. As long as it’s expressed in the protective commitment of a marriage relationship, it’s wonderful, warm and romantic. But porn takes sex outside that context.”

What Flappy Birds says about my need for Jesus

flappy birdYes, I downloaded the game Flappy Bird.

Yes, I have yelled at that poor little bird.

Yes, I almost threw my device across the room in frustration.

I bet you have too.

Registering an incredible 50 million downloads, Flappy Bird, is a cultural phenomenon. This past week the developer of the game stopped selling Flappy Bird in the app store. He was interviewed by Forbes Magazine and asked why he took it down.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, but it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

You can read the whole story here.

Why are we addicted to such a simple game?

The game tricks us into thinking with one more try, we will do better. Sometimes we do better – but it is never enough. Which is why that game is frustrating, maddening and even heartbreaking. Its why you curse under your breath and throw things.

We are obsessed with winning, but you cannot win. There is no end. The only way to be a winner is in comparison to your previous score or compared to your friend across the room. But the game always ends with a loss.

You can do better but you cannot win.

This is life without Jesus. There is a lie that has been around long before Flappy Bird, it goes like this: “Doing better is enough.” But it is not, that’s why the game keeps you coming back for more. That is also why in life you will never be satisfied with better.

You can sin less but you cannot be sinless on your own.

It is not enough to be better than you were yesterday. It is not enough to be better than someone else. This is the fundamental problem of humanity. This kind of life tends to be frustrating, maddening, and heartbreaking. Doing better is not what satisfies.

Only Jesus wins. He wins on our behalf.

Flappy Birds is like life. It is frustrating, until I realize that Jesus has already won for me, I don’t have to play the game anymore. I don’t need to be better. I need Jesus. The cross is the only thing that is enough. Jesus took care of it.

When I realize that Jesus has won for me, I am free to lose. When I stop trying to save myself by doing better and let Jesus save, it’s incredibly peaceful.

What if everyone knew this truth? What if you actually believed it? What if you devoted your life to proclaiming the saving power of Jesus death and resurrection?

The game always ends by losing. Jesus has already won. I cannot lose.

Five things college students should remember on Valentine’s Day

love, valentines day, 5 things

A quick survey of the conversations I have had over the past few weeks reveals that there are more people not looking forward to Valentine’s Day than those who are excited. It does not matter where you fall on the spectrum – “I can’t get enough of the flowers, color red and chocolate” to “If I see one more status update about that special gift from their special someone I might actually explode” – Here are some things worth remembering this Friday.

1.  Who you are is defined by Jesus, not who you are with.

Have you ever met the person who finds their identity in the person they are with? Maybe you are that person and that’s why you have found yourself in a string of broken relationships. Jesus has already declared you to be free, loved and secure in Him. I’ve witnessed countless shipwrecked relationships in which one person asked the other to do only what Jesus can do. But people cannot do what Jesus does. When we find our worth in Jesus not people we are free to actually love and enjoy the relationship God has given us.

2.  You are not married yet – so don’t play pretend.

Marriage is great, when you are married. Pretending usually leads to a lot of heartache. I know this is true because anytime we live outside of God’s plan, it does not go well. This Friday night do yourself a favor, stay away from backseats, cozy couches and snuggly beds. Your marriage will thank you someday.

3.  Being single is not the enemy.

Singleness and in a relationship does not equate to defeat and victory. It is tempting sometimes to feel sorry for ourselves when we are not in a relationship as if we are losing at life. That is not how God sees it. He has a plan and purpose even in singleness. Enjoy this time because you are right where God wants you.

4.  Single? Don’t worry, you probably don’t have the gift of singleness, so pray for your future husband/wife.

It is true, God has given some of us the curse gift of singleness. But in general, God has called you to marriage. The command was given back in the beginning, “get married and make babies” (that’s my version of Genesis 1:28). Take some time to pray for your future valentine, maybe they need more prayer this week than you!

5.  Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to proclaim to an unbelieving world the truth about love.

God is love. I will love my wife better because I know and experience the love of God in my life. Would it not be great if you were able to proclaim the love of Jesus on your campus this week?