When challenge is inspiring…

I really love this graphic to your right.

A couple questions came into my mind immediately when I saw it. “Why is this inspirational?” and “If it is inspirational, why is this mindset so rare in the realm of Christian discipleship?” (and has been for a while)

It shouldn’t be rare. Jesus was unapologetic and forthright. He watched people walk away because he was so candid about what it would mean to follow him.

He said there is a easy / broad way and a hard / narrow way. He said, “to follow me is to go the hard / narrow way. To follow him you deny yourself, to follow him is to take up your cross, which means leaning into discomfort rather than leaning away from it, it means taking risks, it means going against your natural instincts and loving your enemy, going the second mile in service to people who have been an enemy to you, it means living like no one else lives, and dying to self daily, it means, committing yourself to Kingdom and not building a kingdom for self, it means being willing to be considered a fool in the eyes of the world, it means trusting that God can do more through you than you ever imagined if you will put yourself in his hand….

Jesus didn’t lower the bar, because to lower the bar would make him look less worthy than he is. Yes, people said, “No.” But the one’s who said, “Yes”, knew what and who they were saying yes to.

Our family has sports out the wazzoo. I got a “little” monster who will have countless practices, and games, and meets, and tournaments for the next 6 years, in as many as four different sports. So I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m in it with Christian parents who have kids who love and are good at sports.

So as a student pastor for over 25 years and a fanatical sports dad, as someone who lives in both worlds (sports and church) … I can say without fear of overstatement, that there are, all too often, two different standards for athletics and discipleship.  I could write a book (that’s an overstatement) of examples on the disparity of rational for sports vs. spiritual opportunities. I’m not, cause I don’t want to make too many people mad at me. But I can say, that once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

I wonder if many of the dechurched millennials and GenZ people walked away, NOT because the bar of discipleship was too high, but because it was uninspiringly low.

It’s possible that many dechurched Millennials and GenZ did not find Jesus worthy of centering their lives around… But it’s also possible, that they were never expected or challenged to.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart begins April 25 at 11 am

“Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart” is our 6 week series during our Sunday School hour. It is a series that will help students understand what it means to become a Christian and how to know if they are a Christian. Put another way, it is a study on doctrine of “assurance of salvation”. Assurance is the level of confidence someone has that they are saved.

Why this series should be a priority?

  1. This series should be a priority because Christians, or perhaps your student who is thinking about becoming a Christian, should know what the Bible says about what a credible profession of faith is.
  2. This series should be a priority because there are many authentic Christians who struggle with assurance of salvation, needlessly.
  3. This series should be a priority because there are many professing Christians who are not really Christians. According to Jesus in Matthew 7 there are many who are confident, who should not be. Why? Maybe, there was likely a breakdown somewhere in process. Maybe an incomplete understanding of the gospel, maybe just a premature declaration of salvation, but the reality is that there are many who have false assurance. False assurance is scary. It’s like someone who thinks they are taking a miracle drug that will cure their cancer, but it is a placebo.
  4. This series should be a priority because it will equip students to be able to help friends who are in any of the above categories.

What’s the deal with the title?

This series is based on JD Greear’s book based on the same title. In the opening of the book JD talks about how he was baptized four times and that when he wrestled with doubt he would keep repeating the prayer of asking Jesus into his heart. He could not not find peace until he searched the Scriptures for a basis of Biblical assurance.

Isn’t someone who asked Jesus into their heart a Christian?

Countless people who use the language of “asking Jesus into their heart” are saved. For many “asking Jesus into your heart” is shorthand for the invitation of Jesus to repent and believe. So if by “ask Jesus into your heart”, you mean turning from sins and trusting in Jesus, we are good. But, there are many who prayed a prayer, but never really turned from their sins and trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord. They may have said the word, “Jesus come into my heart”, but they are not saved according to the Biblical criteria.

Because of the potential for confusion and because the stakes are too high (eternity) we prefer to go with the language of Jesus and Paul when talking about conversion, which is repentance and faith.

What are some supplementary resources for this focus?

You can buy the small book by JD Greear by the same title.

You can buy another great new book by Dean Insarra, “The Unsaved Christian”

Transgender Resources: Watch for Updates

This blog serves as a bulletin board for stuff (links, videos, book recommendations) as much as it its for articles. Recently I’ve been reading books and watching interviews on the issue of transgenderism, both generally and specifically the modern phenomenon of girls identifying abruptly as trans, known as ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria)

There are some great resources written from a Christian worldview standpoint that I will add below (eventually), but I think it is noteworthy that some of the pushback against the transgender moment (specifically with regard to how we handle this with kids) comes from very progressive people, atheists, psychologists, etc… Yes, the church has an answer, but I have found it helpful to know the secular reasoning for concern as well. FYI, there aren’t many places that will give a platform to criticism of the transgender movement, which is why you have to watch Joe Rogan or Ben Shapiro to see it. Below you can see some. (Disclaimer: I don’t agree with everything said by the author or interviewers.)

In England there has been many attempts to cancel JK Rowling because she (although pro-lgbt) has expressed concern about freedom on conscience issues and redefining womanhood and that lack of science in transgenderism.

Secular books.

Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier Note: I have read this secular book and wish every counselor or parent of a teen girl.

The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society by Debra Soh Note: I have not read this book, but have watched the interview below.

Secular Interviews

This is an interview with Joe Rogan. Lots of language. I’m not posting this to endorse everything said, but so that you can hear from Shrier in a different context.
This is an interview with Ben Shapiro. Yes, he’s a conservative politically. If you don’t like Shapiro’s politics you should still watch the interview. Remember, that very few people will give a platform for any shape or form of rebuttal to group think on the transgender phenomenon among teen girls. (Schrier is not an evangelical)
Author of the end of gender. A secular progress person, possibly atheist, who has written pushback on new gender identity activism.

Is Jesus getting bigger?

In Prince Caspian (the second book published in the Chronicles of Narnia series), C. S. Lewis reminds us that there is a most important exception to this rule.  When the Pevensie children are lost in Narnia seeking to find the way into Prince Caspian’s camp, the young Lucy experiences a personal visit from the great Aslan, who up to this point has been invisible to her older siblings.  As Lucy encounters her old friend, she perceives him to be somehow “bigger” than she remembers from past experience:

Lucy: “Aslan, you’re bigger!”
Aslan: “That is because you are older, little one.”
Lucy: “Not because you are?”
Aslan: “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Is Jesus getting bigger or smaller to your student. If they are growing in the faith, Jesus will be getting bigger. Not that he is bigger, but their capability to appreciate the bigness of Jesus increases as they mature.

What does this mean practically?

It means that as big as Jesus is to an 11 year old who becomes a Christian, He will only get bigger as they grow in the faith.

Maturing in the faith means that from 11 to 16, Jesus looks more trustworthy than before. It means that Jesus looks more awe inspiring than before. It means that Jesus looks more worthy of our sacrifice and devotion.

The converse is also true, that if Jesus is getting smaller, something has gone wrong and we have cause for concern. If Jesus is getting smaller, other things are getting bigger.

This begs the question. How do grow in such a way that Jesus looks bigger? Quite simply by looking at Jesus! For far too many people their first look at Jesus was their last. As we look at Jesus, as we study his words, his works, and his wonders, he will get bigger!

Political Media is a Business and Other Thoughts

Nobody asked, but here are some thoughts for my Christian friends about political media consumption and engagement online.

1. Political news is a BUSINESS. Again, political news is a BUSINESS. If you only get that, you will be blessed. We like to believe that our source is telling us the unvarnished truth, but often our source is telling us the truth we want to hear the way we want to hear it. Why? So we keep going back to that source, we keep tuning in, we keep clicking, which leads to good ratings and more advertising money, and a higher pay check for the person giving you the “news”. They have no financial incentive to tell you stuff you don’t want to hear.

2. Since political media’s business isn’t trying to persuade anybody, but providing a specific audience (consumers) what they want to hear, they will say things differently than if they were trying to persuade people. Most lay political commentary on social media are people repeating WHAT they heard on tv, the WAY they heard it on tv or online.
Why doesn’t that work out so well? Because, UNLIKE the person paid to tell the audience what they want to hear, your (and my) social media audience is NOT made up of people who already agree, nor is it made up of people who friended us to get our political hot takes. They want to see pictures of your kids. Actually, they want you to see pictures of their kids.

3. Political media can be toxic for Christian empathy. Since political media knows it’s human nature to want to feel smart and righteous, and it wants us to keep watching, the media will package and present our news in way that (yep) makes us feel smart and righteous. Rarely in political media will the paid tv pundit say, “good people disagree on what’s best” or “I understand why they think this would work”. No, our flesh likes to feel indignant, and people producing political media know that.
So what happens is we, the consumers, take WHAT we have heard and the WAY we have heard it, and try to reproduce it in our dialogue with others on social media. Again, why doesn’t that work? Because your neighbors who believe differently have likely been told their news from their perspective so that they believe that you are dumb and evil. Just like yours, their news source wants them to keep coming back.
It takes humility and intentionality and patience to seek out news from diverse sources. Maybe you are right on everything politically. But hearing other people make their arguments from their perspective can help you better have conversations in good faith, not assuming the worst about people you disagree with. I try to do this and it is a frustrating and sometimes infuriating discipline, but also a humbling discipline. Try to find the most reasonable, ethical, person you can, who disagrees with you politically, and hear them out.

4. Christian friends, political media is often Christless. Even when its telling you things that are factually correct. Secular liberal or secular conservative media is detached from what God has and is doing in the world. So we have to consume media though the lens of our experience with Christ and Christ’s plans for us.
So when we battle online for ideas, we tend do it in a secular way, as though Christ is a non-factor. We know we have done this when “owning” someone with mic drop arguments is the goal instead of “winning” people.
I have had to remind myself many times that it is much more important to win people to Christ than to win arguments in the 24 hour news cycle. We need eternal perspective. There is no shortage of ‘hot takes’ on social media, but there is a shortage of people captivated by Christ who want others to be captivated by Christ.
That’s all I wanted to say.

Rising 6th Grade Parents: Get Connected! Essential Links and Forms!

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Nothing is normal due to Covid! I HATE that so many of the activities and mission projects this summer your students could have participated in have been cancelled. And if you don’t know, your rising 6th grader would and is welcome to participate in anything in the student ministry (except Sunday School).

So you don’t miss out on anything, and so that we can serve you better, here are  seven things I suggest you do ASAP!

1.  If you haven’t already, please give CLICK HERE to here to help us serve you by giving us some basic info about your student.

2. Let us know if you want to participate in our Act, Love, Walk Theme this summer. Basically, your student would be assigned a small group and they will try to squeeze in four gathering around the theme of Micah 6:8. Buying a shirt is optional, everything else is free. CLICK HERE TO SIGN–UP!

3. Sign-up for the youth enewsletter here it is run from MailChimp.  Click here –>  http://eepurl.com/Kcx8P    Watch your promotions or spam folder if you aren’t receiving them.   

4..  Sign-up for text reminders.  You need to text @vbc4christ  to #81010    

 5.  If you are on Facebook join the group  here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/versaillesbaptiststudentministry/

FYI, the group is updated much more frequently with inside info and discussion. I recommend turning on notifications if you want to stay in the know!

6.  If you are on Facebook join the page here  https://www.facebook.com/versaillesbaptiststudentministry/

7.  If you are on Instagram find me https://www.instagram.com/kevinhash/

I tend to post mostly ministry related stuff there, quotes, or funny stuff, and pictures of my kids being awesome. I’m excited about this time of transition!  Praying for you all!Blessings!Kevin B. Hash

Busyness or Appetite?

If only I had the time.   I’d exercise more.  I’d read more.  I’d get work around the house done.  Well, we are several weeks into the shutdown, and what have you found time to do?  My guess is that the void has been filled with what you want to do, what you value, what you have an appetite for.

If we are honest, busyness is useful sometimes.  I get a lot done when I’m busy trying not to do something.  I might be writing this because I’m procrastinating on something else. Hmmm….

Busyness can be a great ally in self-deception. Sometimes I tell myself I really want to do it, that I am the kind of person who would be doing something, if I only had the time.

Well, many (not all) have more time than they used to have. Calendars that would normally be cram-packed with practices, games, meets, end of the school year concerts and awards programs have been wiped clean.

That void in our calendars is revealing, clarifying, and maybe humbling. For Christians who expressed aspirations to read the Bible more and pray more when they have more time, how has that worked out? Did you find more time to read the Bible, or did you find a new series to binge watch on Netflix? Did you find time to pray, or did you discover a newfound love for viral video or political engagement?

At the end of the day, the issue of pursuing Christ, employing the Word or God and prayer as a means to grow closer to God are not about time, but appetite.

The truth is, on our busiest day, we have time to crack open the Bible, and we have time to pray. But do we have the appetite? And if we don’t, can we do anything about it?

Hopefully this will help you think it through. Many people know they should exercise; they believe that exercising will make them healthier. They really believe it. But they don’t have an appetite for it. And they won’t, until they do it. They won’t until they do it enough to benefit from it and enjoy it. I’ve replayed that cycle a dozen times.

  • I need to exercise.
  • Exercising is a hassle. Exercise clothes, time, energy to do it, but here we go.
  • You, know, I don’t think exercising is too bad.
  • I really feel better on days when I exercise.
  • I actually miss when I don’t get to exercise.
  • I get so frustrated when I can’t exercise. I really have an appetite for it!

Of course, then I’ll get out of the habit, gain 15 pounds and restart the cycle. But appetite can be cultivated for exercise and spiritual health.

So the progression toward spiritual appetite might look/sound like this.

  • I know I need hear God (in His Word) and talk to God (prayer), but at the end of the day I don’t do it.
  • I’m going to make time to do it. Yes, tomorrow!
  • I’ve done it. I’m not sure I’m getting anything out of this.
  • I needed to hear that! I’m glad I’m reading the Word more.
  • It amazing, the more regular I pray the more at peace I am. I’m remembering that God is in control.
  • I’m becoming a different person. My words & actions are being shaped!
  • I can’t wait to meet with God tomorrow.

Big Picture! God wants to have a relationship with you! He gave His Son Jesus so that He could have that relationship with you. God wants you to succeed because He wants you!

Maybe before we do anything, we should pray for God to give us the desire to desire Him. That is a prayer He will answer!

Photo by Alexandre St-Louis on Unsplash

Our Youversion Bible App Plan… Plan

VBC Student Ministry has been campaigning to introduce people to Youversion: The Bible App.   Since we cannot meet at church for worship, small groups, and discipleship we have focused on something that should be a priority anyway, pandemic or no pandemic, which is reading our Bible daily.

Since The Bible App has group plans we decided to use it to get students in the Word AND connecting them with ministry leaders.  So we have ministry leaders hosting plans or participating in plans.   The students read the Bible/Devotion on their own on their phones or chromebooks and leave comments that others see and can interact it.  See youtube commercial below and keep reading.

Here are some basic tips for our students and parents.  In a separate post, i’m going to share some hyperlinks to recommended plans.

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