Thoughts on Jennifer Knapp’s Interview

There has been a lot going on in my heart since I read Christianity Today’s interview with Jennifer Knapp. I have felt sadness, compassion, anger, confusion, and disappointment. One thing that I can’t escape thinking about is a question that Matt Chandler asks in a lot of his interviews and sermons: “Where is the fight against sin?”

I think we often forget that we’re in a battle against our own flesh. Not just the world and culture, but the sinful lusts and desires that rage within us. Francis Chan has also spoken lately about the “middle road” that so many Christians have created, neglecting to follow the narrow road of Christ… “If I can just follow some of Jesus’ words, then I can do whatever else I want…”

As followers who love the Lord, we’re called to follow even the HARD words of Jesus like denying self and getting rid of the sin and filth within us (James 1:21). We can’t lie and say that his words are easy, and we don’t have the right to pick and choose what we want to follow.

Will we struggle with sin? As long as we’re breathing we will, but our desire won’t be to live in that sin as a continuing lifestyle void of confession, repentance, or “struggling well.”

There is so much to Jennifer’s story than I will ever know or need to know, but from what I do know that I did not see in her interview with Christianity Today, is a fight against that sin. There was an acceptance of it. And that makes me sad. I want to see her make war with it.

So I guess my next response in all this is to look in the mirror and make sure I’m really engaged in the daily battle against my flesh.

Did you read the article? What are your thoughts on the recent news?

Review: The Trouble with Paris DVD Study

paris3We often live in light of the statement, “I will be happy when…” Being immersed in Western culture, we can’t deny the heavy influence of consumerism on our lives. In The Trouble with Paris DVD study, Mark Sayers communicates relevant truth to teens, young adults, and adults across the board in way I’ve never seen before.

Filled with trendy and engaging motion graphics and video, Mark hits on three main points when it comes to reality: Hyper reality, Reality, and God’s Reality. Most of us live in hyper reality or have been influenced by it in some way. This is the life we dream of where it’s all about “me”. There’s no work—only pleasure, fun, vacation… and no pain.  This is a world the media has created (in ads, shows, movies) and because it invades so much of our lives, we often don’t want what’s real anymore. We’d rather buy that product that will add meaning to our lives. But the fact remains that it’s still a plastic promise.

The truth is that reality is far from hyper reality. Life just isn’t neatly wrapped up like it is at the end of a show or movie. Conflict often lingers way after the credits roll and injustice, war, poverty, and death still exist whether we deny it or not. Awkward silence still pervades, forcing us to face the emptiness and loneliness we sense in our hearts.

God’s reality, however, is better. He has given us glimpses of heaven on this side of earth: genuine friendships, a wonderful vacation experience, marriage, laughter, the beauty in nature and much more. We must then place meaning under His reality. So to do that we need to have a biblical view of God’s reality and how we fit into His story.

Mark Sayers portrays God’s reality with creative, cartoon illustrations in how God came to redeem all of creation. I’ve never seen the biblical account quite like this before! (you’ll just have to see it)

You’ll do your youth, young adult, and even adult ministry a disfavor by not showing the truths in this DVD and then teaching from it. I am recommending this product to people who have been shaped by consumerism and the media (and that’s every American!)

Review any product you’d like on SmallGroupExchange.com and get The Trouble with Paris for FREE!

Truth on a Starbucks Sleeve

coffeeIt’s wet, cold, and rainy here in Dallas. I’m off work today as well due to a severe case of strep throat. Before my husband left to workout with his friend Jay, I hinted that I would love a warm cup of Starbucks. A few hours later he came in the door with one. I was so happy he remembered! While sipping on my white chocolate mocha, I noticed the writing on the sleeve advertising their new Tea Time drinks. It read ‘Your next “action item”: Do as Little As Possible.’ 

I just loved reading this simply because that is what I’m trying to do in my life. I don’t know if you struggle as much as I do with that “to-do list”. I have things to get done and when they don’t get done, I get frustrated. And sometimes my mood is determined by what hasn’t been done. I don’t focus on what has been done. As Americans I think we also characterize success by what we “do.” But I think we can be successful and still do only a little. Little in the fact that we’ve come to understand priorities, moderation, and balance in day to day life. Not being so overcommitted or stressing ourselves out to the point of physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. Maybe it even comes down to not being so hard on ourselves to be all things to all people.

I saw this lived out on my trips to Argentina, Guatemala, and Africa. Tea time and siestas was a daily thing. They lived simple lives, they loved well, and were relationally driven. They probably have less heart attacks than we do. 

Success in the simple really is attainable. I’m striving hard for it. Do you think living a simple life is possible in our culture today?

Billboards & Cotton Candy

I’ve really been thinking about culture’s influence on Christianity. When I drive home from work every day, billboards scream at me left and right (I don’t notice them in the morning because I’m just waking up). The “me’s” and the “you’s” shouting from the billboards make it difficult not to think about what I want or deserve. I guess I really do need an exotic vacation, a million dollars, and the perfect body.

Many pastors today preach right along with the billboards: “You can have it all now.” “Believe in yourself.” “God wants to bless you.” “God wants to make you rich.” The focus is drenched on man, but very little attention is upon God. This kind of teaching feels so good. It tickles my ears. I begin to think there really is so much greatness in me if I just tap into it. It even tastes like cotton candy but in the end, it bites me with a bitter, awful taste.

The truth is that living a life committed to Jesus Christ is far from this sugar-coated mentality of “Jesus wants to bless me and I am so great.” True Christianity calls me to a life of surrender (giving away my life), sacrifice, hardship, humility, loss, pain, and more. Yes, God does promise blessing and joy when I live life in Him and I am the first to say I experience his fullness every day, but he also tells me that above all else my heart is deceitfully wicked and apart from Him, I can do nothing.

This message is very conflicting with the message we hear in culture and even in churches today. And I might be lucky if I catch these words on a billboard. I have to constantly examine what my eyes and ears are taking in and line it up with Scripture.

Do you think many churches are teaching a false gospel? How has cultured shaped your view on true Christianity?

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