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Contest runs through Monday, February 3. A winner will be announced Tuesday, February 4.


Scripture Is Not Just for Others; It’s for Us Too

Do you ever consider how often we use Scripture to prove ourselves right? To back up actions that other people view as unloving?

Yet how often do we use Scripture to gauge the state of our own hearts and souls?

There are so many commands and instructions in the Bible, and we Christians often use these to argue with other people about why they are wrong. We may not frame it that way. We may not ever admit that we’re judging someone as wrong and trying to prove ourselves right. We frame it with all kinds of fancy terms like discipling, and imparting truth, and doing God’s will, and sharing the gospel, and—my personal favorite—correcting in love.

But, if Scripture is for rebuking and correcting, how often do we use it to rebuke and correct ourselves? Jesus commands in various places to watch out for false prophets. He often uses wolf/sheep metaphors to get his point across.

When reading these passages, do you ever internalize the command, and wonder if you have sometimes acted as a false prophet, a wolf leading sheep astray? In Matthew 7, Jesus says you will know false prophets by their actions. Do you ever ponder your own actions, and wonder if you’ve done anything that might mislead someone about the truth of the kingdom of heaven? Have you ever lost your temper? Have you ever been dishonest—even a little bit? Have you ever said something hurtful that you wished you hadn’t? Have you ever alienated a non-Christian with divisive or judgmental words, or shut someone out of the kingdom of heaven based on a flawed idea of what the kingdom is?

Suffering: When Others Hurt [Part 2 of 2]

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we talked about how we tend to explain away past hurts and difficult times in our lives? It’s perfectly natural to internalize and trivialize our own hurts. After all, it’s been drilled into us that we have so much to be thankful for, that to focus on hardship is to be ungrateful for all of God’s other blessings, such as food, clothing, shelter, employment, financial security, etc. We learn to tell ourselves that we can’t afford to indulge our own heartache and suffering because there are “real” people with “real” problems in other parts of the world, dealing with issues such as starvation, extreme poverty, diseased water, human trafficking, child soldiers, etc.

But to explain away hurt to such an extent renders our own sorrowful experiences powerless to transform us. Brushing it off or trivializing suffering often takes us further from the heart of the hurt. It allows us to distance ourselves from our former pain, to put a barrier between us and it, so it can never touch us again. And if we can never touch it again, never again access that helpless, why me? why now? feeling, never open old wounds and stir some salt around in them… Then how can we ever possibly hope to be present with anyone else during their difficult times?

Our own suffering makes a world that is not really about us, completely about us. But suffering is not individual. Suffering is corporate. We need one another.

GIVEAWAY: Bleed Out, by Aaron Mitchum

The book Bleed Out, by Aaron Mitchum, is a great resource for teens on what it looks like to be compassionate in today’s world. Grab a copy for a teen you know today. Click the Enter button below for a chance to win. Contest runs through Monday, January 27. A winner will be announced Tuesday, January 28.


VIDEO: John Pickens Talks Grieving Teens [9 of 9]

We have arrived at the end! Or, for you, perhaps it’s the beginning. We really appreciate the time John Pickens took to come in and shoot some video with us on his experience pastoring grieving teens. He gave us some really great material, and you can watch any of the installments using the links below. Today is the final installment of our Grieving Teens series. We hope you’ve learned something from it that you will ideally never have to use.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7  Part 8


Suffering: When We Hurt [Part 1 of 2]

Ever notice how good we get at coming up with answers and explanations for the hard times in our lives?

After we have come through a particularly difficult time ourselves, it becomes very easy—the further and further away we get from that difficult time—to look back on it and assign various platitudes and reasoning for why it was so awful. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

God needed to teach me a lesson.
There is a season for everything, and that was my mourning season.
That happened to me so I could use it to minister to others.

But when we’re in the midst of a struggle, of a difficult situation, the last thing we want—even though it might be the first thing we ask for—is an explanation. Because no explanation is good enough. No explanation will satisfy our questions, nor will it ease the pain. If God is truly omnipotent, after all, then God could manage to arrange a lesson-learning situation that doesn’t involve tragedy and grief. God does not cause situations of suffering and sorrow so good things can be brought out of them. The broken world we live in causes hurt—not God—and perhaps God, in God’s gracious omnipotence, helps us use our faith to learn something or turn our experiences into opportunities to serve.

GUEST POST: Jason Frizzell | Consumerism

*Editor’s Note: Return guest and friend of the Barefoot blog Jason Frizzell shares some thoughts on consumerism and values today.

What do you really value? In different seasons of life I’ve found this question to be both motivating and debilitating. As I’ve stared into the mirror and seen the reflection of how I have invested my time, resources, and abilities, I’ve experienced moments where my values are inspiring and moments where my values humble me because they are different from what I hoped them to be.

Life is a journey, filled with a sequence of highs and lows. Self-discovery is critically important for an individual, his or her family, and his or her broader community. The process of self-discovery begins with uncovering what our values really are.

Values, beliefs, and customs are directly related to tendencies, priorities, and actions. Objectively identifying how we behave will lead us to question why we do what we do. It is the determination of the why behind a particular behavior that leads us to discover what value drives our activity.

The sobering reality is that much of what we say we value actually differs from what our realistic, lived values tend to be. While it’s true that an external environment, perceived limitations, or uncontrollable circumstances contribute to the development of a set of values, personal choice and activity still bring a set of values to life.

Let’s look at the state of the North American church for a moment. Consumerism and democracy have shaped North American faith. As a result, people have a tendency to voice their individual opinions while searching to create (or consume) their own personal spiritual experiences. The resulting factor has been an elevation of personal spiritual development with the resulting diminishing value of a communal experience or expression. The question of, What do I get out of this? becomes more important than, What can we contribute to this?

Knowing what we value will help us redefine a vision for our present reality and our future hope. Values shape who we are and what we do. What do your values say about you?