All posts in “PERSPECTIVE”




Matthew 16:2
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

You’ve just been invited to a party by the most popular upper classmen in school where the alcohol is going to flow endlessly like a river, drug use will be rampant, and your crush has already asked to sleep with you after the party. You now have a choice. Will you go to this party to do the “popular” thing and sacrifice your morals or will you sit it out and do something else fun instead? How many times have we been faced with these decisions, and how many times have we given in to our selfish desires and ignored God’s?

We spend so much time building our own little world focused on “What can make me feel good?” or “What will make me more popular?” We suffer and bring harm to ourselves to protect our little world while ignoring God’s big and perfect picture. We need a perspective change. We need to turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus and then watch as our old desires start to fade away. Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Garbage. What a strong word. Paul compares all the momentary desires of his life to trash. It’s time to put aside your little kingdom and embrace the infinitely better kingdom of God.

QUESTION 1. What do you desire most? to be popular? to have the coolest car? the most money?
QUESTION 2. How much time do you spend a week focused on helping and loving others? How much time do you spend focused on God?
CHALLENGE: Lay aside your little kingdom and join in the kingdom of God. You’ve been invited; all you have to do is say yes




Lamentations 3:31-33

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

It’s hard, in the midst of a grief filled period of life, to believe that God is present in the situation. Most of the time we end up blaming God for it and then wonder at the injustice of it all. But here’s the thing: God does not cause bad things to happen. He may allow them, but then He’ll also use them to strengthen you or to bring Himself glory.

I’ve heard countless stories of people diagnosed with cancer who have used their situation to tell others about Jesus. [Or in the midst of a disaster I’ve heard beautiful stories of people coming together against all odds to help someone or people accepting Jesus.] Confusing sentence. An alternative might be: And I’ve heard beautiful stories of people accepting Jesus in the midst of a disaster, or people coming together against all odds to help someone. God is present in every situation. Next time a disaster befalls you or someone you know, try to see how God is working and then instead of pushing God away, join with him in bringing about his love and goodness to the situation.

QUESTION 1. Is it easy for you to find God in every situation, good and bad?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that God causes bad things to happen? Why or why not? Find scripture to back your belief.
CHALLENGE: Have the courage, even in the midst of your own pain, to find where God is working and then join him. You’ll find your troubles will diminish when you begin to see the bigger picture through the eyes of God.




Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you’ve ever climbed a mountain then you know what the view is like from the top. You can see for miles and everything is so clear. You wish you could live in this moment forever. But unfortunately, you can’t. Not much grows on top of a mountain. It’s harder to breathe up there and we aren’t meant to live up that high.

In our spiritual walks we crave those mountaintop God experiences where everything is so clear, where everything seems to be going right, and where God is so very real. But we aren’t meant to live on mountaintop experiences because it’s in the valleys that we grow.

The verse above in Romans tells us that nothing, not even the height of a mountain or the depth of a dark valley, will separate us from God’s love. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, everything could be going great or you could be going through some hard times, God is right there with you. We have to learn to be content in either circumstance and to always remember that nothing can ever separate us from God.

QUESTION 1. What was your favorite mountaintop experience? Was it a church retreat? A Christian concert?
QUESTION 2. When did you go through a hard time that you can look back at now and see how God was right there with you all along?
CHALLENGE: When you’re in a valley, don’t think that God has left you or doesn’t love you anymore; he will never leave you. Push harder into God and know that he is right there holding you.




Have you ever seen people who were just “crazy in love” with each other? How do they act in public? Do they get exited about being able to spend time together, laugh together and lift each other up?

Now, let’s transition these thoughts over to Jesus and your relationship with him, that is, could you say you are “crazy in love” with Jesus? Do you find it difficult keeping Him off your mind in a given day? What images or thoughts come to your mind when you think about being “crazy in love” with Jesus? Jesus is amazing, he forgave us from our sins, he sets us free from all our baggage life brings our way and he loves us to the point of sacrificing his life for us! Knowing this should make you want to cry out “I love you and praise him” regardless of whose watching!

QUESTION 1. As Christians we all say that we love Jesus, but based on your actions towards Jesus and others would anyone actually really know that you loved Him?
QUESTION 2. What ways can you show Jesus and others that you’re “crazy in love” with him this week?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to change your perspective regarding what it means to be in love with Jesus. Don’t just tell Jesus that you love him, tell the world that you’re in love with him! Become “crazy in love” with Jesus today!




2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I like to think that I am a lot stronger than I really am. I don’t like others seeing my weaknesses, especially before I do. If I know where I am weak, I can avoid those areas or work on them in private. However, there is a deep-rooted fear in me that does not want to be insignificant or weak, so I try my best to be good at everything and to constantly improve in areas where I’m not.

Maybe you’re like me and you don’t like the fact that you have weaknesses. Or maybe you also try hard to fix, hide, or avoid areas where you are weak. If so, you are not alone. However, I want you to know that something better is offered to us than the restless pursuit of an unattainable perfection. There is freedom from our endless striving. There is the recognition of our acceptance. We don’t have to get it all together in order to be considered enough.

Paul reveals, in his letters to the Church in Corinth, that our weaknesses are not just acceptable, but they are welcomed! In fact, when we embrace our weaknesses, God shows up and moves in mighty ways. When we let Him know how much we need Him, His power comes through. God does not overstep when we are trying to go through this life on our own. However, when we invite Him in, He loves to show us His power in amazing ways. When we admit our weak spots and our need for Him, He works on our behalf. Let Him amaze you in the midst of your weakness by relying on Him in every area of your life.

QUESTION 1. What are some areas of weakness in your life?
QUESTION 2. How have you been dealing with those weak areas? Do you try to fix, hide, or avoid them?
CHALLENGE: Admit your areas of weakness to someone you trust today. Then ask God to make his power known in each of those areas.




Psalm 68:5

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy dwelling.

I’ve read this verse a million times it seems, but something about reading it through yet another time caught my attention in a new way. You see, I absolutely love the way the Bible talks about God’s heart for adoption and for those who are hurting. We see over and over again the character of God revealed through his love for those whom others have deemed “unlovable”. It’s absolutely incredible when we think about the depths (depth?) of God’s love.

However, reading this verse again, it wasn’t the father and protector characteristics in the first half of the verse that stood out to me. The second half, “is God in his holy dwelling,” leaped out at me like never before. God, in his holy dwelling, cares for the hopeless and the hurting. It’s who He is! Usually, when I think about God’s holy dwelling, my mind wanders to the holiness of his heavenly home.

However, heaven is not His only holy dwelling. You are! I am! We are! For those of you who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit (been born again?), you are God’s holy dwelling! When we think about that reality, it is no wonder God wants us to take care of the orphans and widows. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Pure religion, in God’s eyes, is when we allow God to simply be himself when he is hanging out with us. He wants to live out His character through us, His holy dwelling!

Think about your best friend that you can totally be yourself around. There is something so great about being around them, right? That’s how God should feel when he is with you. He should be fully free to be Himself in and through you in all that you do. Let yourself reflect His character.

QUESTION 1. What areas of your life reflect the character of God? How do they do so?
QUESTION 2. What areas of your life do not reflect the character of God? Why not?
CHALLENGE: Align your life with God’s character so that God can fully be himself through you in all you do.




Romans 1:21-23

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks… Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols…

I’m sure we can all think of that one toy that we were obsessed with as a kid. Maybe it was a toy you owned or just something you always wanted. For me, it was a robodog! All the fun of having a pet without the responsibility of keeping a real animal alive! One year I remember asking for it over and over again. I think my parents got tired of hearing me talk about it, so they got me one for my birthday. I was thrilled! I didn’t care about anything else in that moment…my attention was locked in on this robotic dog. I opened up the box and got the dog running. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen…for about thirty minutes.

After the excitement wore off, I remember taking the dog to my parents and saying “I can’t get this thing to be quiet…it’s annoying.” What I thought was going to fulfill me ended up leaving me disappointed.

So many things look so good on the surface. We live in a world where every new item is said to be what we are missing in our lives. However, all this stuff leaves us still feeling empty. The Church in Rome was the same way. They took God off the throne in their lives and they worshipped man-made idols instead. We may think that sounds crazy, but we do the same thing to God today. Don’t be left disappointed by idols; put God back on the throne as the King of your life!

QUESTION 1. Look at how you spend your day. What are you dedicating all of your time and attention to?
QUESTION 2. What are you looking to for fulfillment? What would it look like for you to put your idols aside and give God your attention?
CHALLENGE: Ask God to show you how you can make more room for him in your life. Then do it!




Psalm 118:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Have you ever stared death in the eye? You get in a horrific car crash but come out unscathed. You get diagnosed with inoperable cancer but it leaves on its own. When you come out of these circumstances on the other side you have a new appreciation for life and you start living it to the absolute fullest. You become so grateful for every smile, flower, and ray of sunshine; but then it starts to fade and you begin to complain about little meaningless things again.

Wouldn’t life be so much more enjoyable if we always looked at everything as a blessing? Instead we find temporary happiness in complaining, which starts to slowly eat away at our joy until there is nothing left. While we sit and wonder, “Why can’t I have the new iPod,” there are others around the world wondering, “Why do I have to walk two miles in the blistering heat to get fresh water?” Some may even be asking, “Will my kids make it through the night?” We are so blessed; we have more than we could ever need. Stop complaining and instead give thanks to God every day for the insane amount of blessings in your life.

QUESTION 1. How often do you complain? Take note of how many times in your day you complain or are dissatisfied.
QUESTION 2. Have you ever had a brush with death? How did you feel towards life’s petty issues afterward?
CHALLENGE: Spend time over this next week thanking God for every blessing you see. You’ll find your complaining becomes less and less as you start to take notice of how incredibly blessed you are.




Have you ever seen those Magic Eye books? You know the ones with the picture within a picture? The picture within actually has a 3D image that appears out of the page. The interesting thing is that the image isn’t always easy to see. I remember being in a café looking at one of these books and being frustrated because I couldn’t see the 3D image everyone else was seeing. So, being competitive like I am, I purchased the book and brought it home to practice. I tried all the tricks that people told me about in order to see the image, and finally after a couple of days of trying I was able to see the full 3D image. I was pretty pumped to say the least. For a while, I had started to doubt if the image even really existed at all.

The key is I kept focused and kept searching for new ways to view the image. You see, just because I couldn’t see the 3D image didn’t mean that the image didn’t exist. This is the same as it is with God. Just because you can’t physically see God doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist. The truth is, just like that 3D image existed, so God exists as well. You just need to stay focused and keep looking for new ways to see His image.

QUESTION 1. Have you found it difficult to see God in your life? What makes it hard for you see him?
QUESTION 2. If you have found it hard to see God, then we encourage you to talk to others and find out how they have seen God at work in their lives.
CHALLENGE: Remember, don’t give up and stay focused. We promise, if you are truly seeking God, he will truly show himself to you.




Sometime you need someone to come in and show you a completely new perspective on something. And sometimes as crazy as you think it is, it actually makes a lot of sense! Never close yourself off to things that are different or sound crazy.

Jesus was notorious for changing peoples perspective on things. You don’t need to look any further than the Sermon on the Mount and the beatitudes to illustrate this. Jesus came and brought a COMPLETELY new perspective to this world. He changed peoples thinking as it pertained to love; things like don’t hate your enemies, in fact love them! Don’t stop with serving your friends; serve those who it hurts to serve! I challenge you today to read Matthew chapter 5, but read it with an open mind. Let the word of God change you. Maybe you will wake up tomorrow living and loving more like Christ!

QUESTION 1. Read Matthew 5 and meditate on Christ’s wisdom.
QUESTION 2. Are you willing to see God from a different perspective?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you this week to go out and find new ways to see God. Change your perspective on how you seek him. Don’t only look for God in the ordinary places like church and youth group, but look for him in places and ways you would never expect.




Matthew 25:40

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

 One of Brennan Manning’s famous quotes suggest that “the greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. [He suggests] that this is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Words are an imperative when sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and his love. Sharing about what Christ has done for all believers on the cross, or merely sharing words of encouragement, can transform a person’s bad day into a good day. However, as we all know, words alone aren’t always enough. Imagine if a person told you they loved you every day, but when it came to acting out that love, they never actually showed it. What would you think of that person? Would you really believe that they loved you? The same goes with regard to Jesus. It’s hard to tell someone that Jesus loves them when the person is going through hard times. No one knew this better than William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, who walked the streets of London preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, homeless, and hungry. What he realized was nothing short of amazing; that is, when sharing the good news and love of Jesus Christ with the homeless, hungry, and beaten down, he needed to also show the love of Christ through his actions by helping them find food, clothing and shelter. Christ’s message of love and hope, if done only with words, usually falls upon deaf ears, but words of Christ’s love and his good news coupled with action helps the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and the mute to speak of the wonders and beauty of Jesus Christ and what he’s done on the cross for all who believe.

QUESTION 1. How many of your friends know that you’re a Christian? For those that don’t know you are a Christian, why don’t they?
QUESTION 2. For all your friends and acquaintances that know you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, how many of them would say your lifestyle reflects Christ’s love towards others.
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your words, and to live a lifestyle that reflects those words of love through your actions.




Psalm 40:5

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.”

I don’t know about you, but I am really good at being dramatic. I can easily take a situation and overthink it until I make it something that it’s not. It is so easy to blow things out of proportion when life gets hard or you don’t understand the “why” behind a situation. I cling to the opinions of others as though they are my identity. I face an obstacle and I coward away because I am afraid I might fail. I get upset over the smallest things. I experience pain or heartache and suddenly feel as though I am the only one who has ever felt this hurt. I need to be grounded far too often. I need a reality check. Maybe I’m alone in that, or maybe you have done the same thing once or twice.

As easy as it is for me to blow things out of proportion in my everyday life, I find comfort in knowing there is one thing I can never make bigger than it is – the plans and wonders of God. His ways are so far beyond the limits of my imagination that I cannot possibly over-exaggerate who He is…even on my most dramatic days! When I am stuck in my own head and can only see things from my perspective, He’s holding the entire universe in His hands. You think that’s crazy?! Think about this…He’s not only holding the entire world in His hand, but He has a unique plan for every person on it! Take that one step further to acknowledge the fact that He not only has a plan, but He wants a personal relationship with each of us! The more you think about it, the more amazing it is!

There is literally no way we could possibly name all the things He has done for us! His deeds are too far beyond our own comprehension – they are both too grand and too detailed for us to be able to notice them all. Even when we cannot understand it all, He still acts and moves on our behalf. That is just who He is! So if you are at all like me and you start to overthink the challenges you are facing, take a step back and think of all the ways God could be at work in and through your life!

QUESTION 1. What are some of the ways you have seen God work in your life, in big and small ways?
QUESTION 2. What have you learned about His character through those works and wonders?
CHALLENGE: Spend some time thanking God for each item on your list from Question 1, and for what He taught you through those works.




Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 So much of our days are made up of seemingly menial tasks. We have to sweep the floor or clean the bathroom for our parents, run errands, or deep clean the freezer at our job. If we look at these tasks as silly or boring, then they will be just that, silly and boring. But if we change our perspective and look at our menial tasks as being done for Jesus, then we’ll notice a shift in our thinking. Suddenly it will seem worthwhile; it’ll have a purpose, and we may even find joy in it.

When Jesus came to earth he didn’t expect everyone to wait on him hand and foot as he very well could have; he is the Messiah after all. No, he humbled himself and served others as an example for us. At one point in his ministry he even got down onto the dirty floor and washed the grimy feet of his disciples. His ultimate act of humbling himself and serving was his death on the cross for us, taking on all our sins so that we can have life. Next time you are faced with a task that seems ridiculous or hard, look at it through the eyes of Jesus and serve with all your heart, just as Jesus did without complaining but with joy and love.

QUESTION 1. How do you view the small and seemingly meaningless tasks in your life? As burdens or as a way to be Jesus to others?
QUESTION 2. When you serve, do you serve with joy or do you grumble and complain?
CHALLENGE: Look for opportunities to serve, they’re everywhere. If you find yourself in a situation where you just don’t feel like serving, stop, then remember Mark 10:45. Serve joyfully and with all your heart just like Jesus did.




Matthew 16:18

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

 These days we come up with a lot of excuses for not going to church: it’s too early, we don’t like the music style, the preaching is boring, it feels more like a business than the hands and feet of Jesus. Yes, the church is flawed because we are flawed, but the church is more than a building and programming; it is people, people who are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and the earthly example of him. Are we doing a good job at that?

In the above verse, Jesus wasn’t talking about church as a four walled institution, he was talking about being the church. We, as followers of Jesus, are the church. The reason the church gets such a bad rap is because we aren’t living out our lives as Jesus called us to live them out throughout the week. Even we as Christians sometimes don’t like church because of this! We must band together, as believers, and be the breathing, walking church of Jesus Christ.

If we started living out our faith every moment of every day, imagine the change that would sweep through the church. Imagine hundreds of passionate, loving, sold-out Jesus followers gathering together weekly to encourage and learn from each other and then being sent out for the rest of the week to encourage and love others. This is what the church should be about—not something to check off of our spiritual check list but a place of love and encouragement that begins a chain reaction that extends far beyond the walls of the church.

QUESTION 1. What is your view of church?
QUESTION 2. Which more closely describes your view of church? “What can I get out of this for me?” or, “How can I become a better follower of Jesus?”
CHALLENGE: Find a church full of encouragement and love, then become the breathing, walking church of Jesus everywhere you go.
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