On labeling and generalizing people

"We tend to classify people according to certain fundamental traits or cognitive prototypes, rather than seeing them as complex personalities with highly variable behaviors that depend on the situation they are in, their moods, their states of health and so on.

This is a kind of ‘reducing valve’ that allows us to make sense of the world and impose a false but comforting consistency on the personalities of the people with whom we interact.”

- Walter Mischel

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In short, we get lazy in actually getting to know people and just label/classify them instead.

Redemption is all about restoring unique God-given identity to all God’s people.

On Blessing

Whenever God blesses - He blesses with the hope that it gets channeled & shared.

Whenever God’s blessing stops with us - His blessing stops being a blessing.

It rots and morphs into something that destroys us.

From the very beginning, God’s vision remains unchanged.

He desires all of us to become Awesome Givers and Blessers like He is.

As long as we keep “taking” & “hoarding” - we miss the mark completely - every time.

So, think about that - next time you pray for His blessing.

Revisiting Psalm 57:8

Psalm 57 was written in one of the darkest hours of David’s life. He was a twenty-something fugitive running for his life from Saul and his army.

And while being chased, David sings and cries,

I will awaken the dawn!

The dawn wasn’t going to wake him up. He was going to awaken the dawn!

It meant that he was going to lift up his voice, sing and praise God BEFORE God’s deliverance (dawn).

He wasn’t gonna wait for the miracle. He was going to WELCOME the miracle.

Kind of like Jesus offering a prayer of thanksgiving BEFORE He fed the 5000.

And like Paul and Silas singing & praying BEFORE God’s rescue operation in the form of an earthquake.

Thanksgiving after a miracle is called good manners.

But thanksgiving BEFORE a miracle is called FAITH!

And FAITH awakens the DAWN!

Church Administration and Youth/Young Adult Ministry

When we’re in conversation with church administrative leadership that are responsible for and taking care of a church that is 62 years old (Adventist median age) - we begin to see how difficult it is for church administration to intentionally set aside or dedicate a portion of budget for youth and young adult ministry.  

*Currently, the North American Division has 28 full-time staff for Retirement as opposed to 3 full-time staff for Youth Ministries.  But the NAD administration did put Young Adult Ministry as one of their Building Blocks and did set aside $250,000 for Young Adult Ministry.  

But, often, there are so many ministries and departments that are vying and competing for attention, budget and care that it is almost impossible to give sufficient regard for a generation that’s simply not offering or tithing enough.  

To date, I haven’t met a single administrator that would say that youth or young adult ministry is not important.  But in all of their committees and meetings, there are always more pressing, urgent and important matters at hand that insist and demand to be heard, noticed and ultimately cared for.  And often, the youngest person on our committees is somewhere in his/her early fifties.

So, what do you do with much of our church leadership that is constantly surrounded and besieged by committee members and departmental leaders that are making a very convincing and compelling case for their ministry and their department?  

And how do we deal with a culture and an environment where anything that is ‘of youth' isn't really taken seriously?  (i.e. the different reaction you get for terms like youth pastor vs senior pastor; youth tent vs main tent; youth convention vs asi convention etc.)  

1.  First, we pray for our church leadership.

The answer never lies in being critical or cavillous to our leadership. We need to first seek to understand and empathize with their current predicament and feel the enormous amount of weight pressure they are dealing with on a daily basis with their constituency.  Then, we need to prevail in our intercession for them and ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be upon them in every committee and every meeting they preside and facilitate. Prayer still remains to be the most powerful weapon for change and transformation.  

2.  Second, we exercise our leadership.

The fall back verse that we always turn to when it comes to encouraging and empowering youth comes from 1 Tim. 4:12.  

Don’t let anyone look down on you for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

The background and context of this verse comes from the beginning of this chapter where Paul talks about the later times (end times) and how many will abandon faith or become hypocrites.  According to Paul, in the end of times, many will either leave church or stay & deceive.  This prophecy has been fulfilled for the most part.  And it’s in these times, we’re called to ‘train ourselves to be godly’ (vs 7) and to ‘set an example’ (vs 12) to all believers.  The command is to fully manifest the power of godliness in our lives.  For if we’re diligent in these matters and persevere in them, we’ll save both ourselves and those who are hearing/watching us.  (vs 15-16)

3.  Third, we equip, mentor and empower the next generation.

The calling we received isn’t to stay idle and wait until we’re told what to do.  Nor is it to point fingers at the leadership and remain cynical. There’s still an army of youth that needs to be gathered and rightly furnished to finish the work.  Instead of passively waiting for a budget & job descriptions to be handed down to us, it’s high time for the youth & young adults go creatively crowd-source the funding that is needed for innovative evangelism.  It’s been a great privilege of mine to witness amazing evangelism startups by entrepreneurial Adventist young adults that were committed in reaching their peers for Jesus.  Brand new children’s ministry, campus ministry, community outreach projects have been planned & launched by the young adults that decided to train in godliness & set an example.  

While there might be some signs of the times that alarm us (pope, sunday law, middle east, and more) - we need to remember that unless the “gospel of the kingdom is preached to the whole world” (Matt 24:14) by an army of youth that has been rightly equipped and empowered - Jesus is not coming any time soon.  For there are still millions and billions of people in this world who have not heard the name of Jesus yet.  

So, don’t waste your life pouting, blaming, complaining or running away. Instead, train yourself in godliness and set an example.  For this is God’s will for your life!  

Everyone is Coping!

Coping with life in a sinful world.

Whether it be via drinking, smoking, gaming, shows, dramas, drugs or sports - everyone is coping.

Coping with a thirst that can only be quenched by the Living Water.

No one intentionally plans to smoke, drug or amuse themselves to death.

But it happens - because the thirst is real.

Thirst for intimacy, meaning, and ecstasy.

Thirst and longing for something else than this life.

The lure of money, sex and power is real - because it appeals to our thirst.

So, next time you see people “coping” - show some love!

Dare to empathize then pave the Way to the Living Water!

On Loneliness

Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect. Adam was lonely because he was like God, and therefore, since he was like God, he had to have someone to love, someone to work with, someone to talk to, someone to share with.

All of our other problems—our anger, our anxiety, our fear, our cowardice—arise out of sin and our imperfections. Loneliness is the one problem you have because you’re made in the image of God. 

- Timothy Keller