Growing Up

I have spoken with many former church members and not-a-few former Christians.

Many of them have told me that they left the Church or left the Christian faith when they were younger – teenagers or early 20’s. When I ask them what it was that caused them to decide to leave, the same kind of story is told.

They had a question about God, they asked the pastor, and didn’t get the answer they were expecting (or wanted).

Steve Jobs was one such person. I never met or talked with Steve Jobs, but this story is documented in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography.

The soon-to-be founder of Apple computers rejected Christianity because of one incident he had with a Lutheran pastor. Walter Isaacson tells the story:

“Even though they were not fervent about their [own] faith, Steve Job’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. ‘If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?’

The pastor answered, ‘Yes, God knows everything.’

Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, ‘Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?’

‘Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.’

Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.” [Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, pp 14-15, Simon & Schuster, 2011]

There are many supposedly enlightened people whose rejection of religion rests on just such a flimsy foundation. They are still living as adults on the basis of a rejection of a kindergarten version of the Christian Faith which they probably misunderstood in the first place.

When I was 13, I had some specific ideas about the world, my place in this world, and how I should live my life.

As I am now 36 years removed from those ideas, I certainly don’t live by many – if any – of them.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV).

It is sad if a person continues to think about the Church, God, and life in general, based on something that happened when they were younger.

The Good News is that God still loves each one of us with an unconditional love. He is ready and willing to welcome us back to Himself.

God’s love for us is the same today as it was when we were children. Jesus Christ still forgives all our sins, the Holy Spirit still prompts repentance, and the Father is ready to welcome us into His strong and loving arms.

Come back to church. God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life. Join a Bible study.

And pray for those who, at one time, decided to leave. Pray that the Holy Spirit can use you to help them see that God still loves them and wants them to be a part of a fellowship of believers.

The Year That Was

Here are the Top Blog Posts for the True Man Blog. Chances are good that you’ve read these already, but I find it interesting to see what you find interesting.

Thanks for a great year!

Ed

 

Title Views
For Your Safety 373
Engraved on the Palms of His Hands 339
Home Is Where the Heart Is 210
Saved by Grace – But Who’s Grace? 174
Uncomfortable Christianity 89
Given and Shed For You 80
No One Gets Out Alive 70
Temptation 39
I Appreciate You, Pastor 38
A Prayer for the Pacific Nations 33
Road Trip for Immortal 17-year-olds 33

Make A Dent in the Universe

A couple of months ago I re-entered the wonderful world of Junior and Senior High School ministry. Twenty years ago I was a youth ministry in St. Louis. But that was when I wasn’t much older than a youth at the time – 25 years old.

Now I’m 46. I’m the age I felt was old when I was in high school.

I suspect that I’m considered old by the high school kids in my church. I know I am to my own kids (one of which is now in high school).

You would think that many things would change in 20 years. And they have. In 1991, the World Wide Web (WWW – sound familiar) had just come online.

However, that year the WWW could only be used on a NeXT Computer.

What a NeXT computer is isn’t nearly as important as who created the NeXT computer.

Steve Jobs.

Yes, the guy who co-founded Apple Computers!

Last week, Steve Jobs died at age 56 – 10 years older than I am – from complications due to pancreatic cancer.

A lot has been written about Steve Jobs, but there are two things that Steve Jobs said that caught my attention and really made me think.

The first one is this:

“I want to put a dent in the universe.”

This made me think about what Steve Jobs did with his life. Yes, he made a boat-load of money. But from what I read and heard about him, that wasn’t the reason he did what he did with his life. His motivation was to make a difference. He had a dream of doing things that went beyond the two feet around him. I get the impression that he didn’t really think of himself in a selfish way. His approach to life was not “what’s in it for me” but rather one of “how can I make a dent in the universe.”

This is a good way to live. But I didn’t think that way when I was in high school. When I was a teenager, I thought only of myself most of the time. Most of the things I did were designed to make me feel good. I did them to have fun and didn’t really think all that much about what other people thought.

I see this in high school kids today. I’d like to tell them what I needed to hear more often when I was their age, that there is more to life than just “me.” But that I also can “make a dent in the universe” through what I do and say.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun and feeling good. But there is so much more for a son or daughter of God. You don’t have to wait till you are older to make a dent in the universe. Look up and look out beyond you.

So a lot of what I do with the youth group today is based on a question, “What are you doing to make an impact in the Kingdom of God?” A corollary to this question is “Is what you are doing bringing glory to God’s name?”

I never gave that much thought when I was their age. I wish I had. Maybe I could have gotten to some very important and impactful things a lot sooner – and could have made an even larger dent in the universe.

The second thing that Steve Jobs once said just floored me.

“I want my kids to know who I am.”

He said this in answer to the question, “Why did you authorize your biography and sit down and do so many candid interviews for it?”

Steve Jobs was afraid that the only way for his kids to know him was to make sure a biography was written about him.

How sad is that?

I want my kids to know who I am. So I spend time with them. Lots of time. I pitch to my sons until my arm feels like it’s going to fall off (then I feed balls into a pitching machine). I sit with them as they fish. I play Wii bowling with them (but not as often as they would like, I suspect). I worship with them daily through devotions and prayer. I eat dinner with my family at least five nights a week.

That’s how I’m making a dent in the universe. I won’t invent some new technology like the World Wide Web or an incredible piece of electronic gadgetry like an iPhone or iPad. I won’t make billions of dollars.

will make a dent in the universe by loving my kids – and the kids I minister to in our church’s youth group. They won’t need a book – or an ebook – to know who I am.

And I will tell them of the love of Jesus Christ. I will do it by making it a goal that everything I do will be so that God gets the glory and others will know I work in God’s Kingdom.

Do What You Love

What is contentment? What does it look like? How do you know you’ve found it?

Well, one thing it is not is “settling.” This is a concept I’m still working out. I’m reading a book called “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” – the co-founder of Apple computers. I think that sometimes settling for something can feel or look like contentment. But it isn’t really. It can begin as contentment. But if what starts out as contentment doesn’t move you to carry out your mission in life, then it ceases to be contentment and degrades into settling. Here’s a quote from the book:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for yourjobs lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” (Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University, quoted in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, page 21).

It would be easy to dismiss because Steve Jobs is a multi-billionaire. The perception is that he must be greedy – the opposite of contentment. But if you do a little digging into who Steve Jobs is, you will find that he really does epitomize contentment instead of greed. He found something he loved and did that with his life – not to make gobs and gobs of money but because he simply loved to do it.

And Steve Jobs didn’t stop with the Apple ][ computer, but moved on to the Macintosh. He didn’t stop at the Macintosh but continued until the iPod was introduced. He didn’t stop there but continued with the iPhone and then the iPad. He doesn’t need the money – which is easy to say now that he’s got billions. But Steve Jobs was content with having nothing, as long as he was able to do what he loved.

Like I said, I’m still working through this idea but so far it seems to be a good illustration on contentment versus greed.