Self-Sacrificing Masculinity: Laying Down Our Lives

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Self-Sacrificing Masculinity: Laying Down Our Lives

by Tyler Marines, Resonate Pullman member

Recently the Lord has been teaching me a lot through my failures as a man. Just the other day an incident occurred that pushed me toward a realization:  I, as a man, need to put to death my selfishness and grow in self-sacrifice for the flourishing of others, regardless of the benefit or lack thereof for myself.

As my family is getting ready to move to Boise, selling and buying houses, my wife is getting more and more excited about her vision for the new house. Nicole is a great interior decorator and has come up with great ideas for what to do to our new house to make it feel more like a home. Nicole and I had been talking back and forth about what kind of beds we were going to get for the boys’ bedroom. I had wanted to get bunk beds and she wanted to get two “vintage iron beds.” We never came to a decision and one day when I came home from work she asked me which card she should purchase the beds on. I kinda looked with a raised eyebrow and my best sarcastic voice, I said something along the lines of “Oh, I hadn't realized we had figured out which kind of beds we were going to get for the boys. What did you decide on?” She could obviously hear the sarcasm in my voice and thus we started to argue.

I’m a verbal processor so it took me 10-15 minutes of us discussing the situation to understand what I was feeling and why I cared. Throughout our marriage we have struggled to find things to do together that we both enjoy, which has affected our friendship a bit. Since we had the kiddos, Nicole has struggled to find things that she likes to do. So when I see that she loves interior decor and is gifted with turning a house into a home, I see our house in Boise as an opportunity for us to have some fun doing something we love together. Once I figured that out I was able to express it to her. I didn't care that much about the beds; what I cared about was being able to decorate the house with her, alongside her, and my frustration in this instance was that she wasn’t including me, though I never really asked her to. I expressed this to her and she still wanted to work on the decor by herself, which felt like a rejection to me. My frustration rose and I responded poorly; pushed a small box off the couch, snapped at her, and stormed off. We avoided each other for the rest of the evening and then went to bed. In the morning, as I walked out the door to work, Nicole said she wanted to talk more about the previous night so I said we could talk about it when I got home for lunch.

A little while later the Lord started reminding me about his story, the good news that while I was still a sinner, an enemy of God, someone rejecting Christ daily, he went to the cross with grace and sacrificed himself for my good, my thriving, my salvation. Throughout the morning, he also reminded me of the text in Ephesians where husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, in that same self-sacrificial, in the face of rejection type of love. My conviction continued to rise as he was speaking and pointing to sin that I needed to repent of. I also started to see that her rejection of my desire was really my fault due to me inserting my ego into the things that she loved to do. Rather than allow her to enjoy what she’s good and free her to be a home-maker as God made her to be, I would input my thoughts and selfishly want her to adopt my ideas and if she doesn't, I’d take it personally and choose to get hurt by that. What a poor example of Christ. After realizing this, Nicole and I were able to sit down and talk about the prior night and come to reconciliation through my repentance and her forgiveness. She expressed that the main reason that she wanted to decorate by herself was because she knows that our styles are quite different and us decorating together would most likely cause argumentation. *facepalm* Yep, that's on me. As the man of the house my goal and role is to work hard and self-sacrifice to protect the flourishing and freedom of my family and, in this instance, I was the one stifling the flourishing.

Even as I repent of this I want to call the other men into our church to learn from my kairos of understanding, a learning moment, and look toward their own lives and try to identify areas where they need to repent of selfishness and take on more self-sacrificial masculinity. God has blessed us with gifts and skills that we are called to utilize for his glory, and when we allow things like ego, hobbies, personal desires, or anything else to get in the way of directing the people around us to Christ, then we are sacrificing God’s glory for our own; a thing that we should hastily repent of and then actively seek to do the opposite. My example specifically applied to my family and my marriage, but this principle applies in all areas of our lives and interactions as men. How much more would our communities, our villages, our churches be thriving if we had men across Resonate who were exemplifying this? The principle here is that we as men are called to model Christ and the way he responded to his bride, the church. We should be looking for ways to lay down our lives for those around us to enable the church to flourish and grow more. Who needs help around you and how are you living towards them? Are you willing to stay up late to help a roommate study for a test or go into work early to help a project get finished? When you’re at work are you only fighting for yourself to succeed and climb the ladder, or are you seeking to help your boss and/or your employees thrive? When you are at home are you loving on your roommates/family and encouraging them to make good choices? Are you aware of needs in the community around you? Become aware, bring flourishing by serving and loving, and direct all glory back to Christ.

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Motherhood: Just another form of discipleship

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Motherhood: Just another form of discipleship

by Maria Royall, Resonate Pullman member

Last year I did the thing I never wanted to do - I became a mother.

For as long as I can remember, traditional femininity has been a point of contention for me. I was a messy, adventurous kid that was banned from wearing dresses at one point in my childhood. My best friends were boys as early as third grade. I loved sports, stayed up late watching MMA with my dad, and was terrible with kids. Occasionally I’d decide to get dressed up, and as soon as changing into jeans was no longer an option, I’d regret my decision. Growing up with old-school values floating around me, my tastes didn’t agree with what a young lady was supposed to be like.

Fast forward to high school, where Proverbs 31 is on repeat (and out of context) from the mouths of women around me. Again I felt out of place - what if I never get married and don't want to have kids? Is that all the guidance the Bible offers me? Distaste, paired with a multitude of problems with women in my life, quickly gave way to bitterness, and I submitted myself to the belief that I wasn’t made for Godly femininity. Godliness sure, but I’ll pass on the femininity part.

Fast forward again, about a decade this time. God has given me a great gift in my husband David, and we love being the baby-less couple that baby-haters give their approval to. Then one Sunday, in the middle of a sermon, I heard God ask me to unclench my fist and my entire being groaned. David and I talked on the drive home, assured ourselves that people try for months to get pregnant, and decided it’s probably a good idea to be obedient. Less than a week later, I was pregnant. Classic.

This is not the part of the story where I embrace impending motherhood and change my attitude. I grouched my way through pregnancy. I felt no connection to this creature or excitement for the new identity coming for me. I avoided telling people for as long as possible. But the most uncomfortable part was being around other moms and noticing that I was nothing like them. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place - knowing that I was made for this, but not really believing that could be true.

Right after I passed the eight month mark of pregnancy, I attended a Resonate women’s conference. There was a panel of wise women available to take questions, and I asked “What aspect of Biblical femininity do you think is often overlooked or forgotten?” One response struck me - It’s that Godly women exhibit the characteristics of Christ. This man that is the founder of our faith is not only the ultimate example of a good man, but a good woman as well. Discipleship is the process of becoming more like Christ, and that is not exclusive to men. Genesis 5:1-2 says “On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female.” We are God’s people, created in His image. We may have different roles to explore, but sanctification is the same core process regardless of gender. It’s chiseling away that which does not depict the Father, and allowing Him to reclaim what was His from the start.

You see motherhood, the one thing I avoided most fervently in over four years of marriage, has been the sweetest God-given fulfillment of the God-given identity I’ve always carried. Much like marriage, parenthood will put your sin on full display for you, your spouse, and your copycat. It’s fun, it’s wonderful, and yes it’s hard - but in the hard times I can either defend the parts of my identity that I’ve protected since my youth, or I can submit them to Christ and allow Him to transform me. Parenthood is discipleship intensified. Having a son has not made me angry, short-tempered, selfish, or undisciplined - those things were all inside me from the beginning, and having a baby depend on me to fulfill his every need is only shining a light on them. Do I justify them, or do I give them up?

Giving up your body is a self-erasing experience, and through it I experienced Jesus in a new way. From conception, when I submitted my treasured plans to God; to pregnancy, when I relinquished my right to my own body; to labor, when I suffered profoundly; to birth, when I surrendered my fears to believe that God made me for this; to infancy, when I sustained my child at my own expense. Jesus was erased completely for my sake, and bringing a child into the world allowed me to experience a fraction of His sacrifice.

And that’s only the physical reality - I am constantly being transformed internally as well. I am learning humility every time my needs or desires clash with the child in front of me. I am learning patience as he learns new and creative ways to make messes. I am learning kindness every time I forget that fatherhood is hard too.

We’re afraid of new, higher levels of responsibility because it puts our shortcomings on display. But the responsibility of parenthood was designed by a loving God who handles our failures with kindness and knows how to give good gifts through our obedience. Motherhood is just another kind of discipleship. Repent, believe, and be transformed.

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When your community rejects God's will for your life

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When your community rejects God's will for your life

by Ann Scallorn, Resonate Moscow member

“What do you think you will accomplish over there?  You don’t speak the language.”

“You are too young.”

“You’re headed to a region that is hostile to the gospel.  It’s too dangerous.”

“You should leave this to the professionals.”

“There’s plenty to do right here at home.”

These were some of the reactions I received from people in my faith community when I was preparing to spend a summer on mission in Southeast Asia when I was in college nearly 20 years ago.  Rejection from followers of Jesus was not something I had anticipated.

During the previous year, my college minister had challenged me to consider giving up just one summer to serve others in some ministry capacity.  He saw within me a heart to serve and to engage people in spiritual conversations, and he wanted to see those ministry skills grow. I was quite resistant at first, mostly because I wanted to do my own thing during the summer. Once I finally let go and took his advice, I was ecstatic to share my plans with the rest of my own faith community, which spanned several individuals in my family and home churches growing up.  I soon experienced a strong tension between those who supported me and those who did not. I did not know how to navigate the terrain of such complicated relationships in a community of people who loved Jesus. How do we handle well-meaning Christians who oppose God’s leading? Had my objectors been strangers or mere acquaintances, it would have been easier to brush this off, but they knew me well, and I loved them dearly.   Going overseas meant I would potentially lose their approval and respect, two things I wanted so desperately. My decision also began to expose the reality that I wasn’t on the same track as many of the people who had considerable influence over my life.

There was one person, however, who sat me down and said, “I see what God is doing in you. You cannot allow other people to dictate your obedience to God. Sometimes following God means learning to stand alone and to own your own life.” I had a choice to make and I was the only one who could make that choice.

As I reflect back on this pivotal season of my life I can see three main areas of spiritual growth: Community (connection with others), Theology (connection with God), and Solitude (connection with my own inner life).  If we are to address this question of what to do when our faith community rejects our obedience God, we need to address all three areas.  This article is simply my story and what I’ve learned thus far in each area.

Solitude:

Solitude is a really old word with a rich heritage in Christian history.  It’s not talked about much in many modern Christian circles, but our faith has countless examples of individuals who’ve experienced solitude before God.  Their silence taught them how to speak, to live, to reemerge, and to serve others. Simply put, solitude means to be alone. Loneliness is the negative side, but stillness is the fruit of solitude with Jesus.  I don’t have to extract myself from society to experience solitude, nor is this the goal. Solitude with Jesus leads us to a deeper engagement of his Spirit, which then produces a deeper engagement of those around us.  Loneliness isolates and alienates, but solitude transforms and engages us in a deeper experiences of ourselves, our God, and others.

Solitude happens when I pray honestly, asking God to bring about truth in the innermost places of my heart and mind. It happens when I face myself as I truly am, not as I pretend to be.  It happens when I take time to be alone with God (on a hike, on a personal retreat, early in the morning, etc.). It happens when I journal or meditate on scripture. Solitude exposes who I actually am, and Jesus gives me the means and the courage to face this truth, to set me free from its negative realities and to make me still, genuine, humble, and ultimately free in his Spirit.

Solitude in this season of rejection forced me to face a darkness in myself I’d rather not confront:  I am such a people pleaser. I’m incredibly indecisive, afraid of failure, and terrified of looking like a fool.  These things have often prevented me from forming deeper relationships with people, trying new things, and doing what is right.  This darkness was paralyzing, and it had to die. I would never be “the big deal” to many of these people and the shameful truth is that my desire to be their hero was in direct conflict with following Jesus.

When I was younger, my focus was often what to do (whether or not to serve overseas) and how to deal with difficult people.  Do I ignore them? How can I prove myself and my case to them? How can I set this person I disagree with straight? Solitude revealed my insecurity and my arrogance, and now 20 years later I’ve learned that there are better questions to ask.  Questions that deal with God’s will for my life on a different level: Who is God in this situation? How do I love this person? How do I forgive this offense? How do I lead others into a deeper experience of God? Am I hearing what this person is actually saying or am I just reacting?  Am I truly seeing this person? What is God already doing in this person’s life? How do I follow Jesus better? How do I love someone that I do not love? Thankfully the answer to almost all of these questions is found in Jesus and in the way he lived. They are by no means easy answers, but they are good.  And they are true. And they bring life where there is none.

I thought that growing spiritually meant I would reach this point of being immune to rejection, that I would be so certain in my path that I’d be unmoved by harmful comments.  While I have grown thicker skin over the years, this wasn’t always the case. It’s not like Jesus revealed truth to me and the sting of rejection completely evaporated. The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus is asking us to trust that there is life on the other side of any death we are called to die.  The life on the other side of dying to myself is not a pain-free existence. It’s the power to emerge and live without resentment, apathy, and the weight of proving myself to people who have rejected me. It’s the power to forgive, and to continue loving. It is the power to continue being vulnerable with others and to reject the inner compulsions to shut down and hide.   I am learning to no longer need applause, accomplishment, or the approval of others to experience life. I don’t need to prove myself or even set anyone straight. I know who I am, and I am free to exist entirely for something and someone else. I still have a long way to go and I fail often, but this is what I’ve gleaned thus far from solitude with Jesus.

Theology:

When I was rejected by my community, it felt like a death and an abandonment.  I felt alone even though I wasn’t. Solitude really overlaps here because many of the realities of Jesus’ experiences with rejection were illuminated for me in seasons of solitude with Jesus.  There’s so much I want to say here, but this is a blog not a book. In short, Jesus knows rejection and abandonment on a level I never will. He claimed to be God and Messiah. He experienced rejection from his community on all fronts.  According to Jewish law he died a blasphemer. According to Roman law he died a traitor and zealot (a potential threat and insurrectionist). And within the context of the Triune God, he died God-forsaken. Jesus dies the death of the blasphemer, the traitor, the God-forsaken. Jesus knows rejection on a level I can hardly comprehend and will never experience.  The most beautiful thing about the gospel is this great exchange. God dies God-forsaken so that those who are forsaken in their sin can be transformed into vessels of God’s grace, of his very Spirit. The forsaken become the worshippers. The outsiders become the insiders.

I found myself in a place of rejection different from Jesus’ death and alienation on the cross.  But because of what he has done, because of the great invitation he extends through his sacrifice, he can step into my lesser experience and speak with authority and truth.  He experienced God-forsakenness so that even in my own seasons of abandonment I will never experience God-forsakenness. “Be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus’ kingdom is filled with transformed and rebirthed communities: transformed people invited into the ultimate community of God Himself.  It’s as if Jesus extends a hand saying, “Come and die with me. There’s life on the other side.”

Community:

Dallas Willard once said that the realities of Jesus’ kingdom are made evident in the context of relationships, not mere rules.  How do we navigate rejection? How do we love our enemies? How do we discern whether or not others in our church are misguided in their advice?  In Christian circles we often talk about God’s will in terms of destination and accomplishment: What does he want me to accomplish?  What is my purpose? What should I do about this situation? These are not bad questions to ask.  However, when we look at the scriptures, God is equally concerned with who we are becoming along the way.  At the end of my life will I look more like Jesus?  Will I have learned how to love God and love others like Jesus did?  Josh did a great job in the previous blog (resonate.net/blog/willofgod) unpacking this for us. Journey is everything.  And how we journey together is critical.

As I continued to raise support for life overseas both that initial summer in college and the following two summers, I discovered something completely stunning about the church.  Some of the very people who outright rejected my decision to go, later came to me and said things like, “I don’t understand you, but I’ll pray for you. And by the way, here’s a donation.  I feel led to give financially to you.” This happened with not one or two but several of those people who initially rejected my decision to serve overseas.  Even in our division, God was bringing us all together. God uses our obedience to not only create new communities but to transform old ones.

While I was overseas, I kept a journal and when I returned I spent hours typing up excerpts from my summer as a thank you to everyone who supported me, including those who rejected me.  Several of them came to me and asked me to speak at their churches, asked me to share more stories, and even in the years following told me things like, “I decided to go on a short term trip overseas.  I can’t speak the language, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know God is leading me. Will you pray for me as I go?” “Hey, we read your journal and are now praying about how we can serve better.” “If you could do that, we’re asking what God might want to do with us.”  

Three areas of growth for me on display here:  community, theology, and solitude. All vital. All leading me into a deeper experience of Jesus.    

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What is God's will for my life?

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What is God's will for my life?

by Josh Martin, Resonate Pullman pastor

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

“God never brings you to things you can’t handle.”

“God would never want you to be unhappy or uncomfortable.”

“God will send you a husband/wife as soon as you are satisfied without one.”

And my all time favorite… “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.”

God’s will dominates collegiate ministry conversations.  And if we’re not careful, these empty phrases dominate as well.

Why do we run to quick answers when it comes to God’s will?  Do we not know what else to say? Do we realize when we talk like this we make God sound like the Wizard of Oz, or a secret keeping riddler?  

I’m not sure.  But, there’s got to be a better way forward, and maybe these 5 things will help.  

5 THOUGHTS ON THE WILL OF GOD //

1.  95% of God’s will has already been revealed to you in the Bible.  

Sure, I made up that percentage. But the truth remains, the majority of God’s will is settled.

God has given every Christian the command of abiding in Christ, living sent, being a disciple-maker, growing in the fruit of the spirit, bringing the kingdom of God to the earth, joining a local church, praying, serving, being equally yoked if you’re getting married, being holy, etc….

So often people want to know what God wants them to do, but they rarely recognize the BIG ROCKS of God’s will have already been given.  God probably won’t give you a sign, but good news, you don’t need one. You have a Bible.

Pastor JD Greear says it like this, “Stop looking for the voice of God, when you already have a verse from God.”  

2. For the other 5%, you can do whatever you want….. if

If you are committed to abiding in Christ… do whatever you want.  

If you are committed to making disciples… do whatever you want.

If you are committed to the local church…. do whatever you want.

If you are committed to making Jesus famous, not yourself famous…. do whatever you want.  

If you understand that your whole life has one ultimate glorious goal and end, namely, Christ being glorified as you bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth…. do whatever you want.  

I don’t mean to be simple, but it is pretty simple: Covenant with a local church and their leadership, commit to being discipled, commit to making disciples, commit to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth, then pick whatever you want to do and do it.  Covenant means you don’t bail when it gets hard, you stick it out, you live in submission to others, and in that environment you will see “God’s specific will” fade in comparison to the magnitude of “God’s revealed will.”

Get the big rocks in place then do whatever job you want, date whoever you want (as long as they are doing the same things listed above), live wherever you want…..etc.

Again, Pastor JD Greear is helpful when he says, “Do what you do well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.”

3. When it comes to the specifics, your leader and your community know what you should do better than you.  

This is a tough one.  You and I are used to making our own decisions.  And most of us think God reveals his will to us privately instead of revealing his will to us corporately.  

Here’s what I mean: Don’t inform people on what you decided God’s will is; instead, bring your situation to your church family and ask them what you should do…. Pray together, decide together, get affirmation from those who know you best, then do it.  

Sometimes- often times- your leader and your community have a better sense of what you should do than you do.  They know you and love you and pray for you and shouldn’t be informed of your decisions, they should be invited into your decisions.  

Personally, I believe my wife Amy and our pastors and my huddle know God’s will for my life better than I do.  I trust them and would obey them. And I don’t think that they would ever put me in a place where I would have to choose between what my community thinks and what I believe God is speaking to me.  

This may be too much for some of you, but for me, I believe if God is speaking something to me, then He’s going to speak it to my leaders and community as well.  I see them as a gift to me when it comes to God’s will decisions.

4.  Romans 12 tells us to “test and approve” God’s specific will.

You can try something you believe is God’s will and find out on the journey that it’s not working.  That’s a very biblical picture of God’s will. In Romans 12, Paul writes of getting the big rocks of worship and transforming of our mind settled, then moving to testing and approving.  

This is freeing news: We can fail and try something else.  We can move and move again. We can take a job and see if it works.  You can go on a date and then a second date and then not go on a third.  This should take the pressure off, and God knows we need the pressure off.

You don’t have to be afraid you are going to take the “wrong path” or miss out on “God’s best”.  Decision paralysis should have no place in the life of the believer.

5.  The summation of the whole will of God in three simple words: Be like Jesus.  

The more you grow in obedience to Christ the less you will stress about his will.  As you are being conformed into the likeness of Jesus, God will offer you 1,000 opportunities a day to obey Him, and you’ll say “yes”.  And one yes will lead to another yes, and 1,000’s of “yeses” from now you will be in the middle of God’s will.

Keep saying “yes,” commit to let God get as much glory as possible from your life, and see the #adventure that takes you on.   

His will might not be the easy thing, but as you become more like Christ you won’t seek the easy thing, you’ll seek the “Kingdom Thing.”

In summation, if you want to do God’s will: Make disciples, Seek first His Kingdom… and everything else will be added unto you, including that job or boyfriend/girlfriend or whatever….

If, of course, it is His will.  :)

That’s a promise you can trust.  

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Preparing for Life

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Preparing for Life

by Billy Schmuck, Resonate Pullman member

What is age?  What is middle age?  Why would college students care? Many people correlate age with experience and experience is surmised to create wisdom.  Does this mean that the accumulation of time-lived determines the account balance of wisdom? Since we have all known people wise beyond their years as well as old fools this is surely not the case.  So perhaps some experiences are more valuable than others and this creates the difference in wisdom among people of similar age.

We begin life by being given everything; necessities like food, shelter, language, and love.  We go on to learn who we are and about the world we live in – not necessarily in that order. We hope that our lives will be invested in something worthwhile, but time marches on regardless.  As we live, the path behind us resolves, allowing at least some predictability for what lies ahead: family, career, etc... (I would guess that most college students will find this vista about five to ten years after graduation).  Life is varied enough for sudden turns or lost ways, but most of us have clarity of direction for at least half of our lives. What then do we do when the decades begin to stretch before us like rolling plains after the limited sight-lines we had while crossing the mountains of our youth?  

If wisdom does not come with time alone, is it experience that should be sought after?Consider the case of people who have gone through similar traumatic events; near drowning for our example.  One person may recover to not only hone swimming skills but also learn life-saving techniques. Another may associate water with death and never again be able to take delight in the life-giving liquid.  In fact, people learn incorrectly from experience on such a regular basis that there are multiple professions dedicated to helping individuals unlearn false lessons. So then, it is only when the right lessons are learned that causes experience to have value.  Thus age only correlates with wisdom by increasing the probability of having experiences leading to learning; right, wrong, or some combination thereof.

How then do we learn the right lessons?  I submit that long preparation is for more than just dreaming, but doing; even trying and failing.  Good parents know this. They send their child into a situation when he or she is ready to learn, not when winning is guaranteed.  Parents give their children a foundation, and are available as counselors, but achievements cannot be given, they are won. Eventually parents are joined by teachers, professors, supervisors, mentors, and most importantly self-drive.  Like investing for retirement, preparation is not a one-time event; a diploma is not an arrival. Those who are wise never stop preparing.

If a person new to an instrument practices every day for a year, he can be good and might be satisfied to take casual enjoyment as someone who can play.  But what if there is a hunger and thirst to get better and the practice continues year after year – that person becomes a musician. What if, in a spiritual life, a similar unbroken study of scripture is not measured in weeks or months but in decades?  What has that person become?

Life after college is not the destination because one has only just finished the initial preparation – a majority of one’s years still lie ahead.  Neither is it the medi eval period between the freedoms of childhood and retirement; what a tragic waste of labor that would be. It is simply more life. Life, when you reduce it down, is the same in pretty much all of our seasons. Minister to others as your preparation allows, be humble enough to allow others to do the same for you, and invest in compassion, skills, and wisdom so that you are ready for the next opportunity when it comes along.  

It is the investments over time that allow us to bear fruit: an instrument mastered, wisdom sought, a spouse wooed, and houses made into not just homes but missions, refuges, and dojos.  The discipline of regular savings into a retirement account, while critical, is very weak without time applied to mature the investment. When we think of time it is either as discrete moments or as passing seasons.  The moments are what create memories and change who we are, but it is in the moving time that our form is solidified. The sum of lazy Saturdays, Monday mornings, and dark nights are where we grow wings and put down roots so when the moments come we can fly to the rescue or stand firm with roots deep as the mountains.  This is what our middle ages are for: to work while we invest.

It is a sad thing when we see an elderly man doing menial labor because he did not invest for the days when the strength of his hands would fail.  But how much more will one’s heart break upon realizing that a child drowned because one did not learn to swim (or knew but never taught the child).  To these worldly concerns (which are by no means trivial) a Christian bears a further weight. What if, when we are called to live the gospel toward someone or to give a reason for our hope, we are unprepared?  What damning consequences lie therein!  This does not mean that one should live a life consisting only of disciplined practice and study.  Living with joy, knowing how to rest, and extending love are each an expression of holiness and a preparation no less important.

Finally, after being given everything at birth, each of us will come to an end where everything but our souls will be left behind in death.  At twilight our school years will seem but a moment in the span of our life, though they were preparation for much that came later. Perhaps then we will finally grasp how the whole of our life on Earth is just a blink, a moment of preparation for eternity.  Eternity which begins not with our last breath, but at our first. An eternity which changed in a crystallizing moment of our first breath of newborn belief - where we were given everything.

PS - I was asked to write an entry on ministry in your middle ages.  First came the phase where I was asking “how old do you people think I am?”  After that, I did give it some thought but honestly couldn’t see anything fundamentally different.  You prepare your heart. You show up. You serve. You share what you have (wisely and responsibly - we all have tools of one sort or another that you don’t just hand out to anyone).  If you have kids you drag them along and kill two birds with one stone, or if the task would be a hindrance to them (or visa versa - both conditions which are remarkably less common than younger people think), then you play tag-team with your spouse or a friend.  Frankly age doesn’t matter. Season of life doesn’t matter (of course resources like time and emotional energy do impact the method). Maturity does matter - but you only develop that through exercise. Don’t wait for a better time. Learn to roll a cable. Feed one of His sheep.

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Support Raising & Disciple Making

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Support Raising & Disciple Making

by David Royall, Resonate Finance Director

Everyone on Resonate staff raises support.

Everyone going on mission projects raises support.

Everyone going to Elevate or other discipleship projects raises support.

Every one of our foreign missionaries raises support.

That’s a lot of dependence on external funding! One pastor from a partner church asked me if we could pay for our staff entirely with internal tithes, if we would do that instead.

I told him no. Nor would I want to pay for our mission projects or discipleship projects without ministry partners.

Financial support raising is one component of a larger endeavor called Ministry Partner Development. From the very beginning of Resonate, our staff has had ministry partners investing their money, their prayer time, their encouragement, their wisdom, their talents, their possessions, and their networks of relationships into this mission.
I have been raising support for my ministry and family for over six years now. As I continue to invite more people to join my ministry partner team, my conviction grows stronger that support raising is a form of discipleship, both for me and my ministry partners.

Giving is an honor and a form of discipleship.

Everyone on Earth, whether a believer or not, is a steward of God’s resources, and is responsible to learn joyful, sacrificial, and obedient generosity.

King David understood the honor of giving. God forbade him from building His temple, but he was anxious to participate in the vision by raising the funds and materials needed for his son Solomon to build it. He allocated countless resources from his Kingdom for the purpose of the temple, but he didn't stop there. He gave generously from his personal treasury “over and above” those kingdom resources. The leaders closest to him saw his joyful generosity and they gave “freely and wholeheartedly,” and the people they led responded in kind.

This fundraising campaign led to “great rejoicing” in Israel. David broke out in song, and worshiped God, saying “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. … I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you,” (1 Chronicles 29:14,17).

When crowds, tax collectors, and soldiers asked John the Baptist what the first step of discipleship is, he told all three to practice generosity (Luke 3:11-14). The first thing Zacchaeus did upon belief was to practice repentant generosity (Luke 19). The early church’s first disciples liquidated “their property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45, also 4:34-35). Conversely, false discipleship was exposed by the closed-handedness of the Rich Young Ruler (Matt 19), the Rich Fool (Luke 12), and Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5).

Those who aren’t yet practicing obedient generosity should be given an opportunity to give! If our hearts go where our money goes, they should be invited into the joy of giving to the local church, to ministry workers, and to ministry projects instead of having their heart on a boat! While writing to his Philippian ministry partners, Paul thanks them for their support, and teaches them that it is more for their benefit to give than his benefit to receive: Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account,” (Phil 4:17). That is true ministry partner discipleship.

Inviting people to give is an honor and a form of discipleship.

Support raisers not only lead others in discipleship by inviting and challenging people to give, but they are themselves discipled in the process.

Pastor Alistair Begg declares, “If you cannot trust God with the physical, how dare you trust Him with the spiritual?” Ellis Goldstein, MPD Director for Cru, adds, “If you cannot trust God for your daily bread, then do not tell me you can trust Him for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

It’s easy to vaguely believe that God can transform hearts and change cultures, but our belief is challenged when we ALSO have to rely on him for the smaller, tangible things in life. God has provided for my family through our ministry partners every month for the last six years. God has proven that He can be trusted with our physical needs, so how much more do I believe that He can provide salvation to the world!

With this belief also comes humility and gratefulness. Not only is God powerful enough to provide, but he is gracious enough to provide for ME! Who am I that the King of kings would consider my needs and convince people to give toward them? There are millions of incredible ministries, organizations, and individuals worthy of supporter investment. God, the owner of cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50), sends a cow my way every month, and that floors me. I am so grateful and humbled by his consideration and grace, and I can’t help but be generous in turn when I have the opportunity to be God’s blessing to someone else.

The step-by-step process of cultivating a ministry partner team is an incredibly refining process as well. God has used this responsibility to increase my level of discipline as I identify, meet, follow-up, and stay in contact with my ministry partners. God has also built up confidence and courage in me. I must be confident in what He’s called me to do to the point where I not only believe that it’s worthy of my time investment, but that it’s worthy of others’ financial investment! Then, I must be courageous enough to stomp on cultural norms and directly ask people to give their money to my ministry.

I have grown in belief, humility, gratefulness, generosity, discipline, confidence, and courage, and these are all aspects of ministry partner discipleship.

If you have the opportunity to raise support, or are invited to support the ministry of someone else, I challenge you to think beyond the transfer of funds and see the larger opportunity God has given you. Whether for staff, missions, Elevate, or something else, it’s not a “necessary evil,” it’s a discipleship opportunity.

God is challenging you to obey, to give, to rejoice, to believe, to be humble, to be courageous; that is, to BE A DISCIPLE.

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Jesus is Lord of your Education

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Jesus is Lord of your Education

By Nicole Kelp, Resonate Pullman staff

“If you are at college for any other reason than to be a missionary for Jesus Christ, you are there for selfish, sinful reasons.” - Walt Henrichson, author of Disciples are Made not Born

This quote seems shocking, abrasive even. But when you look at some of the statements of Jesus, it seems to fit a theme:

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26)

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Clearly, Jesus is saying the reasons that many people are at college - to get a degree in order to get money, personal success, and a positive public reputation - are ultimately a waste of a life because they are not in submission to God.

What does that mean for us in America, where going to college and pursuing the white-picket-fence-and-retirement-account American Dream is all but expected? How can we handle the social pressures if God tells us not to pursue an education? But is pursuing an education bad? Is there a way to honor God with our education?

These are questions I’ve asked myself a lot. Not only did I go to college, but while at college I got two B.S. degrees and two minors. I then got a Ph.D. I entered that path because of social expectations in my family and in my field of study. But I exited that path not caring about social pressures and instead trying to submit to God’s plan. Now I teach at a university and also work for a church, and I’m trying to have a healthy relationship with education along the way.

I think the clearest answer to my questions lay in the examples of two of Jesus’ apostles - Peter and Paul. Peter was an uneducated fisherman (Acts 4:13). Paul was educated by a reputable teacher (Acts 22:3). Both of them were mightily used by God to extend His kingdom. But that was despite their education levels and because they had surrendered to Jesus as Lord.

I think part of my conundrum was due to the cultural assumption that some things are sacred and some are secular - that we make disciples at church but not at college or in a job. But that is a lie from the enemy. God clearly says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as unto the Lord, and unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Unlike us, God clearly makes no divide between the sacred and the secular. All things are to be surrendered to His Lordship. All things are sacred. And through that, we can experience the joy of surrendering to God regardless of what our schooling or vocation looks like!

So, what does it look like for you to surrender to Jesus as Lord in your education?

For some of us, this may look like abandoning the plans we had made for ourselves. Is God calling you to give up a particular college or degree, or even a university education entirely, for the sake of moving somewhere else for the sake of being on mission and extending God’s kingdom?

For others, this may look like staying where we are and being a light to a dark place. Is God calling you to be intentional with your classmates and professors, sharing the Gospel as you pursue your education? Is God calling you to help contribute to the development of knowledge in your field with a gospel worldview? Is God calling you to graduate, get a job, and become a missionary to your workplace? God could even be calling you to earn the credentials that enable you to enter a closed country where no missionary would be allowed.

For all of us, this means remembering our identity. I am a Christian who happens to be a professor. I am not a professor who happens to be a Christian. This guides my actions in academia, reminding me to share the hope of Christ as much as I can. Apply this to yourself: do you think of yourself primarily as a college student who happens to be a Christian, or primarily as a Christian who happens to be a college student? How you answer that question will have radical implications. If you are not thinking of yourself as a Christian first, then you are not surrendered to Jesus as Lord.

In his essay “Learning in War-Time,” C.S. Lewis reflects on being a Christian in academia in the midst of WWII. His thoughts are apt regardless of the presence of a physical war, because we are in a spiritual war. All around us, people are existing on the brink of hell, dying without a knowledge of Christ. Are you pursuing an education for the frivolities of a comfortable and reputable life, all the while ignoring those who are going to hell without knowledge of Christ? Or are you willing to surrender your education to the Lordship of Christ so that God can use it for good?

C.S. Lewis finishes his essay with this paragraph: “If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on Earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon. But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.”

Examine your heart. Are you pursuing an education in order to build your own kingdom and attempt to satisfy your soul with temporary, physical things? Or are you humbly offering your education to God, allowing Him to use it to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth?

There is no in between. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

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The Resurrection Leads to Multiplication

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The Resurrection Leads to Multiplication

by Jess Dahl, Resonate Ellensburg staff

On the day after Easter, college students across the world will go to class as usual. A staggering number of those students have yet to hear or fully understand that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ impacts them personally.

Our church, Resonate, continues to exist so that the resurrection story may capture students’ hearts. We pray that resurrection conviction would lead people to follow their risen Savior into the Great Commission. We long to see resurrection power fuel a movement to plant churches in college towns.

In Matthew 28, after that first Easter two thousand years ago, Jesus gives us clear directions before he returns to heaven.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

He has just defeated death so all authority on heaven and earth is his. Nothing can stop his name from spreading. Now that we have been reconciled by him to his Father, his command is that we go and make disciples in that same power.

At some point, every college student in America will ask “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Jesus gives a very clear answer. All Christians living in the light of the resurrection are called to go and make disciples. No church made that up; no movement came up with that trend. The command to go make disciples is straight from the mouth of Jesus. In light of the Great Commission, we as Resonate Church have set a clear goal to plant 21 churches by the year 2021 (a vision we have termed “21x21”). In light of the resurrection, we believe in God to do big things on college campuses and surrounding towns. There are many questions and comments surrounding this endeavor, and we wanted to answer a few of those here.

“Why 21x21?”

The vision of 21x21 is not telling you what to do with your life, because Jesus has already done that in the Great Commission. It is giving you the how. Before the clear vision of 21x21 was cast, we taught the what of discipleship, then assumed people would figure out the how on their own after graduation. Hopefully they found a church that helped them, hopefully they continued to be pushed to make disciples in their new cities, jobs, and workplaces, hopefully…

We view the clear goal as a clarifying line in the sand that begs the question: Why not go and make disciples with your church that has become family over the last 4 years? We have seen people graduate with a generic hope of figuring out how to go and make disciples on the side of life in the “real world.” This typically gets choked out without a clear plan or accountability.

Our goal is that everyone would clearly define how they plan to go and make disciples of all nations after graduation. If not this, then how?

There are many ways to make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission. This is not the best or only way, but we do believe it is strategic and we have seen God bless our obedience.

College campuses are incredibly dense areas of lostness. Sixty-five percent of Americans attend college. On top of that, nations that are closed off to the gospel are represented on college campuses in international students.

We see in the New Testament that Paul often goes to port cities to preach the Gospel, knowing that many came there for trade and would return home, taking the gospel with them. We view the college campus are modern day trade port cities. If we take the gospel to these concentrated areas, we will see many sent out upon graduation and take the gospel with them.

“I’m not called to plant a church.”

This statement typically needs to be unpacked a little. It might be that God has other plans for your life, but most often it is a mask for something else. The problem is that most people don’t like clear accountability. We don’t like having a clear how when we’re actually trying to wiggle our way out of the what (the Great Commission).

If we’re honest, we like it when the how is murky and we can pursue a life that ends on our own ideas of success and happiness.

I get it. I hate people telling me what to do. That’s why giving my life over to God was so hard. I wanted to do my own thing, but I quickly saw how that led to an entirely unfulfilled heart and empty life when things rose and fell on what I wanted. Once I gave God control, he started to create new desires in me. I began to see that a life that multiplied itself was more fulfilling; one that focused on others actually made me happier. A life poured out is actually the fullest life. How backward is God’s economy?

Walt Henrichson, author of Disciples Are Made Not Born, says, "If you are at college for any other reason that to be a missionary for Jesus Christ, you are there for selfish, sinful reasons." That is a very blunt statement, but one that if you follow it down the line of reason actually rings true. Christ gave all He had to come after us, how can we not leave all we have to go after others and tell them? The clarity of this makes us squirm. It’s not that pursuing a specific major or career is bad, but if that is ultimate there’s the problem.

In summation, you might not be specifically called to plant a church, but you are irrefutably called to make disciples. Why not go with some like-minded people to a new college town and start a community on mission there?

“Surely you don’t expect everyone who graduates to go plant a church?”

Why not? We will present the opportunity for people to move with their friends to start a community that allows flourishing for both them and those they meet. Until they hear from the Lord how he wants them to do that in another way, why not start here? Our goal is not to tell people what to do, but instead to help graduates have a clear pathway to live in the mission of God.

“Those Elevate and church planting videos look like you’re having too much fun. You need to settle down and be serious after college.”

We are having fun. We are also in the thick of a battle for souls that means lots of long days, hard conversations, and messed-up stories that need redemption. But we are doing it with a family we have helped create, which for many of us started in our college years. What is more fun than that? What is more purpose-filled than that? We’d love to have you join our family on mission.

We continue to see the resurrection story capture students’ hearts. We continue to see resurrection conviction lead people to follow their risen Savior into the Great Commission. We continue to see resurrection power fuel a movement of college students and families that are selling all they have to move to college towns and plant churches so that all may know, being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And we continue to see that even in the cost, our resurrected Savior is with us.

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Good Friday: Because Jesus is Powerful Enough to Do Anything

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Good Friday: Because Jesus is Powerful Enough to Do Anything

by Josh Martin, Resonate Pullman Site Pastor

Last year I explained Good Friday to my 3 year old.  I figured she’d seen enough Little Einsteins to understand good guys and bad guys.  

For weeks prior I’d been telling her about God’s power.  I told her the story of Jesus walking on water, the one where he calms the storm, and the one where he raised Lazarus from the dead.  

At the end of each story I would ask Harper, with as much expression as I could muster, “Now, how in the world is this possible?”  

Then we would say in unison, “Because Jesus is powerful enough to do anything.”

Then I would pray, kiss her forehead, and turn out the lights.  

I started the Good Friday story with Palm Sunday.  I told Harper that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and everyone sang his praise.  Then I said Jesus went to the temple and drove out the bad guys because they were keeping people from God and no one should be kept from God.  She liked that part.

I told her about the final healings Jesus did and the last things he taught.  Then, I told her on Thursday night, Jesus got his best friends together and washed their feet.  And they shared their last meal. Then I told her about the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was sad and praying.  

All was good until this point.  It was when I said the bad soldiers came to the garden and took Jesus, she sat up in her bed.  

“What are they doing?” she asked.

“They are going to take Jesus to men who will spread lies about him.  They are going to blame him for bad things, though he’d never once done anything wrong,” I responded.

Then I told my daughter what the Roman soldiers were ordered to do.  How they put Jesus in chains, how they hit him with a whip, and put a crown of thorns on his head.  I told her they spit in his face and put a costume on him and called him names.

When I got to the part of Jesus being nailed to the cross Harper yelled out, as if she had a great idea, “DAD, DAD, WHY DOESN’T JESUS USE HIS POWER?  WHY DOESN’T HE USE HIS POWER?”

The only thing I could think to say was, “Baby girl, Jesus is using his power.  He is letting them do this to Him.”

Somehow in that moment, kneeling next to my daughters bed, I felt the cross differently.  I saw it more clearly. It all made sense. God used my daughter to teach me the most basic truth in the world: That the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the most powerful act of God in redemptive history.  More than parting the Red Sea, more than healing the blind, more than fire falling down, more than every other story combined, what we see on Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the power of the Trinity on full display.

God’s power to joyfully crush his son.  (Isaiah 53:10)

Jesus’s power to joyfully endure the crushing.  (Hebrews 12: 2)

The Spirit’s power to ultimately raise Christ from the dead.  (Romans 8:11)

Good Friday is God’s Friday.  It’s God’s power. It’s God’s plan.  It’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit doing something that changed eternity.  

I was in a daze when Harper asked me what happened after Jesus died.  

“They buried him in a tomb, rolled a big stone in the entrance, and left him there,”  I said.

“And on Sunday when his friends went to visit, He wasn’t there anymore.  Jesus finished the greatest miracle of all. He didn’t stay dead. He came back.”

“Wow”, she said.

“Jesus did that so we could be with God.  It’s a miracle. It’s a gift. It’s good news.”

“Wow”, she said again.

Then I leaned in and asked, “Now Harper, how in the world is this possible?”

She looked at me, smiled huge and said, “Because Jesus is powerful enough to do anything.”

He is.  He truly is.  

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Why is Easter so significant?

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Why is Easter so significant?

by Kelly Van Nuland, Resonate Pullman member

History is rife with religions containing a central figure who experiences a death followed by a resurrection. The reason for the death and the resurrection vary from story to story, but it is an undeniable theme: Osiris, an Egyptian divine, was ripped apart, sewn together by his wife and brought back to life to become the god of the dead. Odin, the chief Norse god, to receive wisdom from the realm of the dead, hung himself from the world-tree for nine days before returning to life stronger and wiser than before. Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, was devoured almost completely by the Titans, who left only his heart. His father Zeus sewed the heart into his leg, where he was recreated. Tammuz, an Assyrian god, was taken as a lover of the goddess Inanna (Ishtar) who ultimately kills him. Out of remorse, she then resurrects him, but repeated the cycle every year in the cadence of the death and regrowth of the crops. Mankind inescapably finds the death and resurrection theme all around them in the world and in every aspect of their lives, which is why it has always been part of our religions.

We see death and resurrection all around us, but we never experience it ourselves, which makes it seem unattainable, divine. We see it every year in the seasons, we see it in life cycle of plants, we see it in ourselves in a way; as we grow, we create smaller copies of ourselves who learn from us and carry on not only our biological components but traditions and memories as we grow old and die. It seems that God has built a world on which death and resurrection is a critical theme. But why would that be?

John 1:1-3 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” John is telling us in this verse that Christ (the Word), who is God, is the part of the God-Head through whom all things were made. Creation was designed by Jesus.

In Romans 8:20-23, Paul explains that since the fall of man through Adam in the Garden, that all of creation was subject to the fall: ”For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” What Paul is saying is that all of creation innately knows that we are in need of a re-birth. Since the fall, all of creation, chief among it man, has been longing for what is missing, what seems to be broken. We know from Scripture that the missing, broken piece is reconciliation with our creator. Paul also tells us in Romans 1:8 “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Christ, who designed creation, designed it in such a way as to constantly point back to him. And creation is no different in its fallen state; all of creation is constantly expressing its need for renewal through a savior.

Even though there are many stories of deities in other religions being killed and brought back to life, the story of Christ’s death and resurrection is uniquely different:

1. Unlike the others, Christ went to his death willingly.

In John 10:11, Jesus says “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep,” and later in verse 15 he says “I lay down my life for the sheep”.

2. Not only did Christ die willingly, but he died sacrificially, meaning no part of his death was for his own gain.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 6-8).

3. Furthermore, Christ did nothing to deserve death.  

He was entirely sinless, and yet still chose to die: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

4. Lastly, Christ’s death was the only thing that could finally reconcile us with God.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). To put it simply, Christ willingly died a sinless, sacrificial death for the sole purpose of reconciling creation back to God.

As a Christian, it is truly impossible to overstate how joyous Christ’s resurrection is, but it is extremely important to be able to define why. Jesus endured a horrible death on a Roman torture device after which his lifeless body was buried in a tomb. All throughout His ministry, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Then he died. If the story ended there, we would only remember him (if we remembered him at all) as either a lunatic or a con man. However, three days after his death, life returned to his once life-less body, and Christ walked out of the tomb that has interred him. The foremost reason the resurrection is important is that it proved Jesus was who he said he was. Christ was not a liar or a lunatic, he was, and is, the Son of God. The resurrection, which proved his identity, also proved that he accomplished what he has set out to do: provide a path of reconciliation between the fallen world and God the Father, and the medium through which salvation is possible: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. . . . For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:13-14; 16-17).

The foremost reason the resurrection is important is that it proved Jesus was who he said he was.

The resurrection of Christ is not just a matter of fact, which can be taken lightly--it is literally a matter of eternal life or death. The resurrection is not simply a fact to be believed or rejected, it is a fact to which our response will determine our eternal destiny. This Easter, don’t just focus on the holiday or the fun or even the church service. Focus on Christ and your response to his death and resurrection. Focus on the One whose resurrection can truly give you new life.

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What's the purpose of short-term mission trips?

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What's the purpose of short-term mission trips?

By Sage Foss and Casey Harkins, Resonate Send team

It may be easy to think that being a Christian is just about us - we get eternity in heaven with Jesus and we get God’s comfort here on earth. But that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though we do get those things, the Bible is clear that being a Christian is about more than just us. It’s about sharing the love that God has given us with others.

But how does that manifest in our lives? Do we just share with the people in our context or go out of our comfort zones? Should we live in the same city our whole lives or move somewhere else? Or should we travel to share about God to other places on short-term trips? If so, which trip do we go on? Where do we choose to go out of the myriad of opportunities? And is short-term missions even the best way to share about God?

To answer these questions, we need to start in Matthew 28. Jesus says we must go and make disciples of all nations. He doesn’t say that the Great Commission can be fulfilled by sharing the Gospel and making disciples in only your home and comfort zone. We must go out; we must be sent. As he was ascending to heaven, Jesus said that we should be his witnesses in our home cities, out to our whole home country, and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8).

One way of doing this is via short term missions. God is advancing His Kingdom all throughout the Earth, and we must choose to closely align ourselves and our purposes with the mission of God. His mission is that those with the knowledge of God and Christ’s resurrection should spread that blessing to all peoples of the earth because God is worthy of the praise and glory of all people. “To do any different is to disobey the direct commands of God Himself.” (https://globalfrontiermissions.org/gfm-101-missions-course/biblical-basis-of-missions/)

Beyond our Backyards

Looking at the examples of Jesus and Paul, we see that they were long-term missionaries using short-term tactics. God’s mission for Jesus and Paul was for them to declare His glory regardless of their location or circumstances, but He also asked them to change their location at certain times to bring the Gospel to people who had never heard.

In Mark 1:38, Jesus said “Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” In Romans 15:19-20, Paul declares his “service to God…from Jerusalem all the way around Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, for it has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known.” Therefore, God has given us the mission to make His name known on our campuses, in our workplaces, and in our homes, but He has also commanded us to lift our eyes and look beyond our own backyards - to bring the Kingdom of God afar as well.

Missio-Dei vs. Missio-Me

Short-term mission trips have many personal benefits to the go-ers - increased awareness of lostness, deepened trust of the Lord and reliance on His nearness and Spirit, and the excitement of something new and unfamiliar. But the moment our short-term mission trips are motivated by our own personal gain, we’ve made the trips into something that does not reflect the Missio Dei - God’s mission. It has become the Missio Me. Once we align ourselves with how God is moving in the places He has brought us to and obediently participate in the Great Commission, personal discipleship and growth are the natural byproducts.  

But the moment our short-term mission trips are motivated by our own personal gain, we’ve made the trips into something that does not reflect the Missio Dei - God’s mission. It has become the Missio Me.

Give, Pray, Go!

So the understanding is clear that we are all called. There is no argument against Jesus’ command to live on mission and to go. But what if you can’t go and are limited to your current location? Does this mean that you get a free pass?  Going is not the only way to participate in short term missions. We see throughout the New Testament the churches supporting Paul and the apostles in their efforts to take the Gospel to the unreached, by prayer and funds (Phil 4:16-18, Acts 13:2-3, 1 Cor 16:1-3). Even if you are physically unable to participate in a short term mission trip, it is likely that you know somebody who is and could be blessed by your support and prayers. And as for you who can go, don’t spend $3000 for a two week mission trip and then give nothing else the whole year. Whether you personally go or not, continually pray for God to work in hearts across the world and to pray for people going on short-term as well as long-term missions!

Praise God that we have this “ministry of reconciliation” - the good news that God is restoring relationship to His people through His saving grace (2 Cor 5:19-2). As ambassadors for Christ, He has called us to join Him in His ministry.  How are you being obedient to God’s command to further His global mission?

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Don't be a hero

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Don't be a hero

by Preston Rhodes, Resonate U of I student

I grew up in a small town in Idaho north of Coeur d’Alene called Spirit Lake. With a population of just over 2000 people, what Spirit Lake lacked in adventure and nightlife, it made up for in Friday night football. Timberlake High School, nestled into the woods behind Spirit Lake, boasted a football team with 10 straight league titles by the time I was in high school. As I grew up going to these games, I began to idolize the players on the field. By the time I was a sophomore, I was preparing to be one.

The varsity class before me was extremely talented. They had been playing together since elementary, and I had always looked to them as young men worth emulating. As a running back, I most intently watched the guy who was our best varsity running back, Forrest. Forrest loved football, and he loved Timberlake football. Since he knew that he would be graduating in the coming year, and his beloved team would be in the hands of some goofy sophomores, Forrest began spending time after every practice working with me. We would go over my footwork, reading the defense, predicting running lanes, and audible calls. Forrest taught me all the tips and tricks he had learned because he not only wanted me to succeed, but he wanted the entire team to succeed.

In my next two years as the varsity running back, I used all that Forrest had taught me, and the program was hugely successful. But the one thing about Forrest that I did not replicate was his decision to pass on his wisdom to the next generation. I knew that our JV running back, Josh, would soon be leading the team. Sadly, my love for Preston football was greater than my love for Timberlake football. I didn’t want Josh to be better than me. I cared about praise and admiration more than team success. The next year, as Josh stepped onto varsity, he struggled not only in his skill as a running back but also in his ability to pass down his knowledge to the younger class. After four years of this cycle, as of 2017, Timberlake is no longer the reigning Intermountain League champions.

In this last year, some of my close friends and I have spent time studying 2 Timothy. As we worked through chapter two, we were struck by Paul’s declaration of the cost of disciple-making. Here are three realizations, or Kairos moments, I’ve had from verses 1-4 of 2 Timothy 2.

  1. In verse three, immediately after Paul exhorts Timothy to make disciples, he proclaims “Share in suffering.” Initially, this statement seemed disconnected and out of place. As I processed this verse with my huddle however, it became clear. Paul is writing this letter to Timothy from prison, which he had been thrown into because he was making disciples. Paul was not in prison for being a disciple of Jesus. No one would go to that trouble if he kept to himself. Paul was in prison because he was changing the landscape of culture by making disciples who were making disciples.

  2. In verse four, after Paul tells Timothy to share in suffering, he encourages him to keep focused on the task our enlisting officer has given us: namely, to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:18-20). Here in Moscow, I am frequently having conversations with leaders who feel defeated because we aren’t hosting enough events, we aren’t bringing enough people to church, and we aren’t meeting enough people on campus. Through this text, I realized that we have taken our eyes off of Christ’s command to make disciples, and instead have gotten entangled in the things we feel are important. We are bombarded by good initiatives that, if we are not careful, will supplant our efforts of disciple-making.

  3. Now we circle around to verse two, the sentence on which all of Paul’s statements hinge. “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

  • You (Timothy, second-generation)

  • Me (Paul, first-generation)

  • Faithful men (third-generation disciples)

  • Others also (fourth-generation disciples)

Paul’s message here is the key to true disciple-making: get out of the way. When Paul came to Ephesus in Acts 19 and started the church there, he had a few options. He could have stayed and pastored the church, he could have been the local hero for founding Christianity in their city, he could have bolstered his own reputation by remaining the face of the Christian operation. Instead, he found Timothy, discipled Timothy, and then turned over everything in Ephesus to Timothy’s care. Paul was not a hero; he was a hero-maker.

Paul’s message here is the key to true disciple-making: get out of the way.

When I was playing football in high school, I had no interest in making my successor into a hero. My only interest was in being a hero; therefore, the cause that I fought so hard for died out right when I left. The ultimate cost of disciple-making is sacrificing your pride to let someone else be the big deal.

In your life, what system or effort or area are you leading that would come to a halt if you disappeared? Where can you turn over responsibility and position to someone you disciple? They don’t have to be ready; they just have to be faithful. This doesn’t mean you stop serving or innovating or working hard; it means you dedicate your effort toward turning people’s eyes to Jesus and not to yourself. In everything you do, aim not to be a hero but to make a hero.

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The Power and Purpose of Prayer

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The Power and Purpose of Prayer

by Jess Dahl, Resonate CWU staff

The further it's embedded in our post-tragedy lexicon, the more it's mocked as a form of civilian slacktivism, and more recently as a form of political obfuscation. - (A.J Willingham, CNN February 20, 2018, “How thoughts and prayers went from common condolence to cynical meme”)

The term “thoughts and prayers” was trending on Google last week. In the wake of another national tragedy, people were seeking answers. They were mad. They were believing that the prayer offered by Christians during a tragedy is not an answer to their hurt in any way. In fact, they believe it is a thoughtless slight, the equivalent of turning a blind eye.

How did we get here?  How did coming to the presence of the God of the universe and asking him to intervene in a broken world become a trending meme of irrelevance? As Christians, we need to check our own hearts. Are we throwing around the phrase “I’m praying for you” in the place of righteous angst, holy heartbreak, and kingdom-spurred action that leads us to the throne of the Father? We should take seriously the cries of the hurting and beg for mercy.

Our Lord was a sent Savior, he prayed for us and he acted on our behalf. As his followers, we must do the same on behalf of those around us seeking answers.

When we offer our prayers, we must know the purpose and power of what we are offering and have an answer for the hurting world who doubts if prayers matter.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF PRAYER?

1. Prayer reminds us who God is and who we are not

When Jesus teaches his disciples - thus teaching us - how to pray in Luke 11, he starts by addressing who God is. He calls him Father, and calls his name holy, set apart from us. When we pray we must start there. Everything else is temporal; God is eternal. He is not like us, he is completely other and outside our world. We have to remind our hearts that in the ebb and flow, the highs and the lows he has been and will remain the same.

There is much written on the significance of Jesus calling God “Father” in this prayer. We don’t think much of it now, but the people listening were shocked to hear the almighty eternal God referred to as the term of endearment between a child and father.

Josh Martin, one of our Resonate pastors, referred to a Christian’s relationship with God as one of both authority and intimacy. He is the one who can get stuff done, and because of Jesus dying on behalf of the sin that kept us apart, he is now near to us. We have access to the One who holds the keys and control.

Calling God “Father” reminds us of our posture in prayer as that of a needy child coming expectantly to a father asking him to make injustices right again.

Calling God eternal reminds us that He isn’t going anywhere (Hebrews 12:28).

Calling God powerful reminds us that he can change what is outside of his design for the world (Isaiah 55:8-11), and calling God good reminds us that he wants to change those things. (1 Timothy 2:4, Isaiah 30:18-19)

2. Prayer aligns us to his kingdom and his desires

Prayer changes our hearts. Once we remember who God is, we can orient ourselves to his kingdom and die to our own aspirations of control. Spending time in his presence and word reminds us that our eternal God has a plan to redeem this world. So often we come to God with an idea of what he should do or what justice looks like, most of it selfish at the core. In prayer, we are reminded that God’s kingdom is lasting and we have a part to play in his plan to redeem the world. In his kingdom, he empowers and equips his saints to usher in truth and push back darkness. If we die to our own selfish desires for our own kingdom, we can finally listen to what God has to say about his kingdom and what role he’s asking us to play. We will see that throughout scripture God uses his people to fight for justice, to be a voice for the voiceless, and take a stand when his children are being oppressed.

3. Prayer changes things

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the darkness of this world. John Piper says that prayer causes things to happen that would not happen if you didn’t pray. James 4:2 says that you do not have because you do not ask. Once we remind our hearts to God’s character and his kingdom, we can ask confidently for things in alignment with both of those aspects of our father.

There are countless times in scripture where God relents and bends his ear to the request of his people. When God becomes frustrated with the centuries of Israelites who continually forget what he’s done and blaspheme his name, he wants to wipe them out. Moses intervenes, reminding God and himself of his promises, and God relents (Genesis 32:9-14). One could argue that all that pleading and claiming God’s promises did more to bolster Moses’ leadership and care for the people he was leading than actually believing that God forgot his promises for a second. It’s as if God wants Moses and those looking on to remember who he is and what he can do.

He’s waiting for his people to believe and call on him in faith to bring his kingdom to earth.

Church, we have to be people who daily know who God is, what his kingdom does, and that we have a part to play. Prayer should never be the equivalent of “slacktivism”. It should cause our hearts to break as we see places where God’s kingdom does not reign. It should cause us to pray with a determined and disciplined angst. We can seek the Author and Authority of the universe with the intimacy of knowing we’re his children. What if we stopped treating prayer as a way to quickly tie up a hard conversation and instead believed it had the power to change hearts, minds, and earthly trajectories? What if a hurting world started asking us to pray because we took it seriously and allowed God to move?

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When you fast

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When you fast

By Connor Kerr, Resonate Pullman member

I remember standing on the cold locker room floor with hundreds of starved youth as we waiting to be weighed in. I was surrounded by young men who had the same passion that I did: wrestling. The same thing would happen every Saturday: one proud boy would start grumbling about how long he had sat in the sauna to lose that extra pound. Then another would top the story with his own heroic tale of how he was 12 pounds over on Tuesday and hadn’t had any water for days. Wrestling’s bizarre weight-cutting culture is arguably what it’s known for best, and it taught me a lot about my relationship towards food.

 We would fast for all the wrong reasons, but we developed a deep love for food and a bizarre level of nutritional discipline. We also understood that the kid that was quietly keeping to himself in the corner was the toughest (because he didn’t have to convince us by way of boasting about his starvation).

 Years later as I recovered from the aftershock of my drastic dieting, I began my journey into fasting from a Christian perspective. I assumed it would be easy because I had trained all these years not to eat, but I had no idea of what I was getting into. Christian fasting is not about losing weight. It’s about what you gain.

 What is fasting?

The Christian fast is a temporary surrender of something to make room for Jesus. Many believers take the season of Lent to fast from something good (cell phones, makeup, coffee, singing) to fill its place with something better (God-focused things like prayer and confession). Historically, the main type of fasting for Christians has been food. We see many examples of the Jewish people fasting in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Jesus himself fasted in the desert. Fasting typically consists of skipping a meal or a day of meals. When I give up food for one day in hopes to get clarity from God, every hunger pain is utilized as a reminder to pray. Urges to eat remind you to repent, and the smell of your coworker’s lunch prompts you to direct your focus on God and away from your own needs.

 Why?

Christians have used fasting as a powerful weapon to build churches, attack sin, praise God, and receive clarity. It is miraculous how a fast from food can rip me out of a season of spiritual dullness. In 2nd Samuel 12, King David is faced with the worst moment imaginable: his son is going to die, and it’s his fault. He immediately begins a fast, which is a staggering testament to the power of fasting.

 The question of why we should fast is often a disguise for the real question in our hearts: “What will I get out of this?” My theory is that this strange entitlement we have towards God’s commandments is our consumerism bleeding in to our spiritual life. Fasting is not meant primarily to provide results; rather, it is meant to reorient your focus onto God. You want to be in step with the Holy Spirit before making big decisions, and fasting acts as a tool to help you get there. Not to mention, we serve a God that is worth our full attention, so to direct your thoughts and actions towards him is always a worthwhile task.

 “When you put aside food to say ‘There’s something better than food, and it’s being with God’ then all of the sudden fasting from food becomes feasting on God” -David Platt

 The temptation to boast:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:16-18

 Now by cautioning us against boasting, Jesus demonstrates his understanding of temptation and hunger. Also, by starting with “when you fast” instead of “if you fast,” Christ is providing a mandate, not an opportunity for extra credit. Many who have fasted can attest to the overwhelming urge to tell everyone they run into how hungry they are. I have even found myself steering conversations to a place where I can politely decline to go get food with my friends, hoping they will prod me for the reason I am abstaining. We must be humble. When you feel the urge to talk about your hunger, instead vent to God, and ask Him for satisfaction.

 So that’s it?

This is by no means a complete guide to fasting. There are books that cover the true history and meaning of fasting, and to be honest there are much more comprehensive blog posts about the subject. My heart is for the people of Resonate Church to be people who use the power of fasting in response to life and in anticipation of life. I'll leave you with some questions to ponder, as you consider the role fasting will play in your spiritual life:

  • Do you fast before dating someone?

  • Do you fast over your future career?

  • Do you fast when God blesses your family?

  • Do you fast when a family member is sick?

  • Do you fast to pray for people in your life who are struggling?

  • Do you fast over your kids’ future?

  • Do you fast to pray for your community?

  • Do you fast and pray for opportunities to be sent on mission?

 You may not have ever tried fasting for the Lord. If you are one of those people, my question to you is: When will you begin to fast?

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Lent and the Discipline of Prayer

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Lent and the Discipline of Prayer

by Josh Martin, Resonate Pullman pastor

If you’re a believer in Jesus, then God’s goal for your life is total transformation.  

God’s strategy for this transformation is the gift of a new heart and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This new heart that God gives us is filled with new desires, but it does not come pre-packaged with new disciplines.  

The way we participate is by creating new disciplines and allowing the Spirit to change us through these disciples, and none are more significant than bible reading, prayer, and fasting.  

Over the last 10 years our church has taken the 40 days leading up to Easter, commonly known as Lent, and leveraged this season to give up something and take on something.  

We engage this season with heightened discipline, fasting, praying, and repenting. Fasting is a temporary renunciation of a good thing, like food, television, social media, sleeping in, coffee, sugar, etc… in order to intensify our expression of need for something great, namely God’s power and presence in our life and our church.  

This year for Lent we want to corporately focus on the discipline of prayer.  

Here’s the plan: A church-wide commitment to pray for 1 hour a day for 40 days.

How you get involved is by downloading the Resonate app or going to lent.resonate.net to receive daily scripture reading, prayer requests for your site, and a music playlist.

Each day you can pray alone, ask your huddle to pick a time together, or join in the church-wide schedule that will be made available at each of your sites.  Each site will provide an opportunity to pray together for this hour Monday-Friday.  The weekends will have no corporate schedule.

The hour of prayer will follow the same daily rhythm and will be guided with an hour long soundtrack, scripture reading, and a prayer list, ensuring that you feel equipped to make it the full hour.

Here’s the rhythm: Each day you will follow this four section pattern.   

1. (15 min) READ:  We want to spend the first 15 minutes reading the daily scripture and asking God to speak to you.  As we read, we are hearing from the Lord and tuning our hearts in preparation for prayer.  The word convicts our hearts, renews our minds, and  informs our prayers.

2. (10 min) REPENT/BELIEVE:  For the next ten minutes we repent of anything going on in our heart that is not like Christ.  You ask God to search us and change us.  We confess our sinful thoughts and actions and believe again the good news that Jesus alone gives us right standing before God.

3. (25 min) ASK:  The next 25 minutes is petition prayer.  We’re asking God to move and provide breakthrough in ways only he can.  We’re praying for the lost, we’re praying for financial provision, we’re praying for leaders to be raised up, we’re praying for wisdom, and we’re asking for power.  Your site will provide a list of more specific prayer needs, and of course we can also pray for things we know about that are going on in our church.  This is a great time to pray with someone else or to write out your prayers on a tear sheet.  

4. (10 min) PRAISE: We want to end each time by worshiping God and giving Him glory for who He is.  We can sing to him or pray prayers of adoration, but all in all be reminded that God is good, He is in control, and He can be trusted to meet all of our needs in Christ.

We believe that during this season God is going to meet us in prayer and move in mighty ways in the life of our church.  We know the vision God has given Resonate can only be accomplished through extraordinary prayer.  May this season give us the breakthrough God wants for us, and may it give us the discipline to carry on a life saturated in prayer.  

“Prayer is not preparation for the battle, prayer is the battle.” -Leonard Ravenhill

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The Blazes of Movement

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The Blazes of Movement

by Preston Rhodes, Resonate Moscow student leader

The blazes of movement start with the spark of a few crazy people who say yes.” - Jacob Dahl

Wide-eyed and haggard on a cold September morning in 1853, a young man boarded the last clipper leaving the harbor at Liverpool. His destination rested that day far more as a fabled land in the Western conscience than a fruitful mission field warranting legitimate dedication. 52 years later, Hudson would board a ship in the same harbor on his last voyage to China, assured that God’s work through him the last half-century had helped cultivate the most fertile missionary ground in the world.

Hudson Taylor was born on May 21, 1832 in the UK. At 17 he put his faith in Christ, and immediately began an education in the medical field. Only four short years later, he bade farewell to all those he knew and stepped aboard the Dumfries as the first missionary of the Chinese Evangelisation Society (CES). Five treacherous months later, Hudson arrived in Shanghai.

Upon his conversion, Taylor developed a holy ambition that would drive him all the days of his life. He stood with the apostle Paul in Romans 15, proclaiming “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.”

This ambition led to a holy discontentment in Taylor. He became restless as he heard of unreached millions in the Chinese interior who had never heard the name of Christ. His pleas with the CES fell on deaf ears, as they were more interested in maintaining Western ties and focusing on coastal regions. Finally, Taylor resigned from the CES and independently moved inland.

China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women … The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, and souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.” -Hudson Taylor

In 1865, Taylor realized his need for missionary help as the 12 known provinces of China and Mongolia were far too vast for him alone to evangelize. He felt that he lacked the experience to lead a team of missionaries, but he stepped out in faith and asked God for 24 fellow workers. With that decision, Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, and within 15 years there were over 100 missionaries working for the CIM.

All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” -Hudson Taylor

Taylor suffered greatly in the remaining years of his life, losing four children and one wife to sickness and malnutrition. In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion targeted Christians in his area, killing 58 CIM missionaries and 21 of their children, as well as over 30,000 Chinese Christians.

God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence upon Him.” -Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor died in June of 1905 at 73 years old, shortly after the death of his second wife. Throughout these trials, Taylor held firmly to the belief that God would provide all that he could ever need, and God protected him. He protected him from unbelief, from cowardice, from unfruitfulness, from disobedience, from becoming a doctor and buying a house in the suburbs of Yorkshire and saying “someone else will reach the Chinese”.

At the time of his death there were 825 missionaries working with CIM, and approximately 100,000 Christians in China. Today, the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly CIM) has over 1600 missionaries in China, and the Chinese church boasts 150 million believers. Hudson Taylor, a 21 year old kid with little education, sparked a movement in China that has yet to cease simply by trusting in God for big things and refusing to rest until he had spent his all in the completion of the Great Commission.

The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” -Hudson Taylor

Taylor would implore you, young college student, not to passively become a casualty to the American dream. He would plead against you striving for the nice house, nice car, nice job, nice family, nice retirement; relaxing in leisure as your last act before standing in the presence of God, while untold millions perish eternally for lack of knowledge that you so abundantly possess. When He returns, even our most legitimate excuses will be wholly worthy of shame.

There will never be a better time in your life to write yourself as a blank check given to the purposes of God. Give your life to the evangelizing, equipping, training, and sending of college students to the nations, that we may obey the command God has placed on our lives. Might God be calling you to join in the sufferings of Christ, to fall like a grain of wheat into some distant ground and die, to hate your life in this world and so keep it forever and bear much fruit? Make your life’s purpose the fulfillment of the Great Commission within our lifetime. There is no greater purpose.

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A pastoral word to a hurting campus

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A pastoral word to a hurting campus

On Tuesday, January 16, WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his life. The grief rocked the WSU campus, and it's unfortunately a grief that too many people across the world have experienced. Resonate Pullman Pastor Josh Martin shares his thoughts in the wake of tragedy.

Last Tuesday night, while rocking my daughter to sleep, I received a text about Tyler’s death.  I followed the link and read in disbelief.  

After scrolling through the police report multiple times, the weight of it started to settle in.  I could feel the tears, so I closed my phone, shut my eyes, and tried to keep singing to Lucy.  The song says, “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.”

Somewhere around, “that He would give His only Son…”, the sadness became unbearable.  I quit singing, held my little girl, and wept.

What crushed me that night wasn’t just the loss of a young man with a bright future.  What crushed me was that sin has so infiltrated and devastated our world that hurting people are left to believe there is no way out.  Sin is a liar.  It lies to us and it lied to Tyler.  

So often suffering make us feel isolated and alone.  We are tempted to believe the lie that no one sees us,  hears us, or knows us.  That could be no further from the truth.  Truth is: God is not simply aware of our suffering, He is grieved by it. He responds to our pain with a Father’s heart: I hear you. I see you. I know you. You are never alone.

The entire biblical narrative can be summed up in one word: deliverance. That may seem overly simplistic but I assure you it’s not.  Because deliverance implies captivity.  Suffering.  Sorrow.  Waiting.  Wanting.  And needing to be saved from a power you are powerless against.  

Deliverance is the overarching Biblical narrative, because it’s the action of being rescued or set free.

There is no doubt sin is powerful, and it has caused great sorrow in our world. It has many of us in its grip right now, but make no mistake, God has no rival. Where sin runs deep, his grace runs deeper still.  

However bad your circumstances, God can deliver you.  

However dark your past, God can deliver you.

However present your struggles, God can deliver you.

However captive you are, however dark it is, however deep you’re in, however long it’s been going on, God can deliver you.  There is always a way out.  You can be set free. This is good news, not good advice.

Religion tells you what you have to accomplish for God, that’s advice.

The Gospel tells you what God accomplished for you, that’s news.  

There’s a lot of good advice out there in the wake of tragedy, but there’s only one place for Good News, and that’s Jesus.  

Jesus is most bright and beautiful when times are most dark and tragic. Go to Him - it’s the best advice I offer, because He’s the best news in the world.   

Cougs, take your cares to Jesus, and let him heal you now and forever.  

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Wrestling with doubt

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Wrestling with doubt

by Maria Royall, Resonate Pullman member

Doubt and I have a long history. I grew up in the church, and I was generally pleased with my life. But as I grew older, I learned how to doubt what I was taught. I loved to poke holes in what people taught me. But there comes a day when doubt wants to claim you as its own, and you have two choices- give in, or fight for your freedom. So when I was 19, God sent me to Haiti to confront the doubt I thought I loved.

A disastrous earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. My team was there to assist the YWAM base in Saint Marc, who had been aiding those affected for over a year at the time. One day, my team (and a few people from another church) went to pray with people who had been displaced in the earthquake, many of whom were injured. I watched those missionaries pray for healing, and tell person after person they would be healed. That familiar feeling crept in, and I couldn’t keep pretending I wasn’t bothered to my core. Who are you to promise these people they’ll be healed?

My mind was flooded with memories of people promising me healing that never came. At last, we met a woman whose back was so injured she could barely walk. I couldn’t hold my frustration anymore and I walked away to pray alone. Then I remembered the man in Mark 9 whose son needed to be healed by Jesus, and in a moment of transparency he cried out “I believe, help my unbelief!” I went back and placed my hand on the woman, prayed this man’s words, and the woman stood up tall. She was healed. She danced away, joyfully proclaiming what had just happened. And my heart took a step toward healing through that intense experience.

Until that moment, I had been suppressing my doubt and anger. It was my own personal problem, I thought I could live with it, and it was a little too complicated for me to know what I really believed. But denying how I felt was hindering my potential to heal and grow. Your emotions reveal the beliefs you hold most deeply. It’s important to listen to and acknowledge your feelings of doubt, while not allowing them to drive your decision making. Doubt is normal, and suppressing it harms the close relationship you’re meant to have with God. But it’s also indicative of lies you’re believing, and those lies are worth digging up.

For me, I didn’t believe God wanted to heal people. I doubted He was a God who would give people relief from their pain, and that made me bitter. Doubt is often easier to find in our hearts than a firm trust in God’s plans and promises. Rather than justifying our doubts as a shortcoming on God’s part or counting what we feel as more reliable than God’s word, we first need to recognize that our beliefs can be a product of our fallible surroundings and second, seek out the lies we’re believing and kill them.

So if you find yourself in a season of doubt, what should you do?

1. Speak up.

If you let doubt fester in your heart and never take the time to sort out what you really think and where it’s coming from, you may never recover. Journal, pray, tell a friend- just don’t keep it inside. Give your community the chance to listen for lies you’re believing so that they can speak truth, support you, and fight for you.

2. Memorize scripture.

The Holy Spirit corrected me in that moment through a verse I had put to memory. The word of God is powerful and full of truth. Keep it on your mind until God moves it to your heart.

3. Be willing to accept correction.

It can feel like a personal attack to hear someone tell you you’re wrong, but remember what’s at stake. The lies you believe want to destroy you. Don’t come to their defense.

 

God is gracious toward his children and aggressive toward the lies we believe. Draw near to Him and listen as he corrects the falsehoods that lead you to doubt Him.

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What’s beneath and beyond racism

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What’s beneath and beyond racism

by Nicole Kelp, Resonate Pullman staff

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

We’ve all heard these famous words proclaimed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. We know the story of the Civil Rights movement and the beginning of freedom for black Americans.

But these words, and the memorialization of this movement on MLK day, are not just history. The thesis of these words should impact us daily.

When Jesus was on earth, He repeatedly challenged expectations. The Jewish religious leaders of the day expected him to only care about rich Jewish men. But Jesus instead cared about the outcasts - the poor, Samaritans and Gentiles, women, “sinners” like prostitutes and tax collectors, the disabled, and the sick.

In Luke 4:18 Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has appointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners … and to set the oppressed free.” Right after saying this, He shared how God had used the prophets in the Old Testament to heal and care for non-Jews, and this infuriated the Jews. But this is how Jesus lived his life. He didn’t care about societal expectations of propriety. He cared about justice. King followed Jesus’ example by caring about and fighting for the oppressed.

How can we follow Jesus’ example as well?

Where in your life are you harboring prejudice and only caring for people like you, and not caring for those who are different than you or more disadvantaged than you? King talked about judging people by the content of their character instead of by the color of their skin. Including race, there are plenty of areas where you may find yourself judging people. Have you felt prejudice against someone because of nationality, immigrant status, occupation, socioeconomic class, education level, perceived social influence, gender, disability, mental illness, or appearance? We may like to think we aren’t prejudiced, but if all our friends think and look and act like us, we may be excluding others. If we don’t feed the hungry and care for the sick and hurting, Jesus says that we have failed to care for Him (Matthew 25:31-46).

If you’re able to identify an area where you harbor prejudice, what can be done then? There are two things to consider:

1. Don’t just try to “be better.”

We could set resolutions to be more inclusive, to serve the poor, to care for hurting people. But then we would just be changing behaviors and not our hearts. Jesus cared about the oppressed, but that was because He had the heart of God for people. Don’t just change your behaviors - instead pray that God would change your heart to see the broken and hurting people and desire to care for them.

2. Don’t wait.

In his speech, King said “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. There is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” This principle applies in the Kingdom of God as well. We need to make the most of every opportunity and use our time on earth efficiently (Ephesians 5:15-16). When God has affected our hearts, we should care for others and share God’s love with them both in word and deed. This is an area where I sometimes struggle - God has burdened my heart for oppressed people, yet I don’t often do anything tangible to help them.

Near the end of his speech, King quotes the book of Isaiah by saying “I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.” That Isaiah passage was also quoted in the book of Luke to describe John the Baptist as he preached and prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival. Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth, and that involves the high and exalted people being humbled while the oppressed people are freed. The Kingdom of God is all about changing expectations, giving grace where it’s undeserved, and valuing different things than the world does.

This MLK day, how can you live like John the Baptist, like King, and most importantly like Jesus? How can you help usher in the Kingdom of God on earth? Notice the areas in your life where you may be failing to care for the oppressed like Jesus did, ask God to change your heart, and take active steps to bring hope to the hurting or those who look or act differently than you. Then Martin Luther King’s dream - and even more importantly God’s will - can become reality in your area of influence on earth.

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GIVING HURTS (and it should)

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GIVING HURTS (and it should)

by David Royall, Resonate Finance Director

Running and weightlifting sound terrible.

You’ve obviously heard about how important exercise is for your wellbeing, but you hate gyms. Maybe somebody guilts you into joining them in a New Years resolution, so you put on some unseasonably cold clothes and head to the gym. You run as hard as you can on a treadmill and lift some heavy things until you run out of ideas and go home. The next day, your legs feel heavy and your arms feel weak, and somehow the next day you hurt even more!

Then comes the existential crisis: Who invented exercise anyway? Why does it have to hurt? How can something that feels so bad possibly be good for me? How am I supposed to go back to the gym when I’m still sore from the last time?

But your friend keeps asking you and you keep joining until something mysterious happens: you stop feeling so sore, you have more energy throughout the day, and you even look forward to your next visit to the gym! Even more, you experience more discipline in other areas like your sleep schedule, time management, and food choices.

Tithing and financial generosity sound terrible too.

You’ve probably heard people plead for you to tithe to your local church and give to church planting and mission trips, and you run through excuses like someone who’s never been to the gym. You don’t have any extra to give, you’re already giving so much time serving your church. You decide to give once or twice and it really hurts your finances.

Then comes the existential crisis: Who invented tithing anyway? Why does it have to hurt? How can something that feels so bad possibly be good for me? If God has all the resources in the world, why would he want me to give him a fraction of my measly income to my church?

But giving is a spiritual discipline just like exercise is a physical discipline. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Discipline hurts because it needs to! Giving must strip away the idols of self-security, self-provision, and selfishness that have been building up in your heart for years. Giving is a matter of discipleship and nobody is exempt from repenting of selfishness and obeying God’s commands.

Once you establish the discipline of regular giving (especially tithing), something mysterious happens: you stop feeling so poor, you have more purpose for your finances, and you even look forward to your next tithe and the next support letter you receive! Even more, you experience more discipline in other areas like budgeting & wise spending, stewardship of the things God’s already given you, and prayer toward the ministries you’re supporting, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

I challenge you to begin the discipline of tithing (giving 10% of your income to the local church) and giving beyond that to special requests like church planting, mission trips, and staff support. Even if it doesn’t make sense today and it hurts tomorrow, I assure you it will grow you into a more godly disciple.

To start practicing obedient generosity today with Resonate Church, you can go to give.resonate.net.

There are a lot of common questions regarding why and how to tithe. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions:

1. Is tithing really Biblical if it’s not explicitly commanded in the New Testament?

Yes. The tithe was introduced in the Old Testament with the priest Melchizedek (Gen 14), established by Jacob (Gen 28), and required in the Levitical law as the primary (but not only) mandatory sacrifice for all Israelites (Deu 14, Lev 27). Through Israel’s history it had been ignored and distorted, so Jesus redirected the teachers & Pharisees who meticulously tithed cumin from their herb gardens but ignored what the tithe was supposed to be producing: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He affirmed they should be practicing the tithe but not ignore its greater purpose (Mat 23:23). The rest of the New Testament affirms that Christians should be giving generously far beyond 10%.

2. How important is the “10%”?

Strictly speaking, tithe means “tenth” or 10%. It was the term and amount established in the Old Testament (see above) by God’s wisdom, who made it a sacrifice proportionate to anyone’s income level. Through the prophet Malachi to the Israelites, God states that giving less than the full 10% is robbing him, and then challenges them to give the full tithe and see how he blesses them in return (Mal 3). Any percentage of your income you give is better than none, but intentionally withholding part of your tithe may indicate a distrusting heart toward God. Take on God’s challenge by giving the whole 10% and see how he blesses you in return.

The New Testament church seemed to treat the 10% as a floor for giving, rather than a ceiling. If you are already giving 10% and are comfortable there, you can continue to be stretched in generosity and discipleship by setting a giving goal of giving 15%, 20%, and more! It could be that the next raise you get is God wanting to increase your standard of giving rather than your standard of living.

3. How can I give if I live off student loans or my parent’s money?

This is a tough and common question. The majority of students living off student loans or parent’s money receive some spending money above their necessary expenses to use for gas, food, coffee, and activities. The simplest solution is to look at how much spending money you receive after tuition and fees are taken care of, and tithe off of that. In reality this isn’t a full 10% since expenses aren’t excluded from a working person’s income. Another solution would be to set a giving goal every term or month when you receive money that would stretch your finances and follow that.

With loans, worldly prudence would tell you not to give away money that isn’t yours and you have to pay back. But if you’re substituting tithe for spending that money on coffee or personal expenses, then there’s no difference in repaying your loans, while there is a difference in your obedience.

If your parents disapprove of tithing off money they give you, it may be hard to balance honoring your parents with obedient generosity. I’d encourage you to talk with them about your conviction, just like you’d talk with them about other challenging parts of your discipleship. Hopefully they will trust you to make your own decisions and to view the money they give you as yours, and not theirs.

4. What’s more important: tithing or supporting people?

Tithing comes first. It represents giving control back to God of what he’s given you, being obediently generous without controlling the specific designation of your gift. Supporting people, giving campaigns, or specific ministries you believe in is a great way to be generous beyond your tithe. But since you still control the designation of your gift, you aren’t truly giving control back to God, and so you may not grow spiritually as much as with a tithe first.

When the tithe was established in the Old Testament, it was accompanied by other mandatory sacrifices and freewill offerings. If we apply the same model today, both tithes and other gifts are mandatory and important, but tithes come first.

5. What do I tithe off of? When should I tithe?

The Old Testament model has people tithing off all their “firstfruits.” This model would include paychecks, bonuses, and even sales of personal items. I believe you could err on two sides of the question “Should I tithe off of this?” You could get really nitpicky about tithing off of everything that comes into your possession, like the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23. Or you could be trying to get out of tithing on a technicality. Either may lead you to forget the purpose of obedient generosity and may indicate a sinful heart toward tithing.

I suggest tithing immediately when you receive your income. This is both a symbolic gesture of giving away your “firstfruits” and is a practical way to not forget or reduce how much you give after your budget starts running low. You can always give more at the end of the month if you have extra, but at least you’ve been obedient.

6. Do I “owe” God if I’ve never tithed before or if I miss a gift?

God wants you to tithe to draw your heart back to him, so start giving obediently today and never look back. Christ has already covered up your shortcomings and sins with mercy on the cross, a debt that we could never pay back. If you feel conviction about skipping a past gift or two, maybe it would be good for your heart to make that up, but don’t let the weight of guilt stop you from being obedient today. Accept his free gift of mercy and be obedient moving forward.

Additional resources:

  • How to give to Resonate Church:

    • Go to give.resonate.net

    • Drop your gift in a Joy Box at Sunday Gatherings

    • Text “resonatetithe” to 77977 to receive a mobile giving link

    • Download the Resonate app (text “resonateapp” to 77977 for a download link)

  • Want to learn more about giving and financial stewardship? Email giving@resonate.net to request a copy of Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn to learn more about the theology of giving and Biblical answers to a lot of big financial questions.

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