5 Ways To Share Your Beliefs Without Being a Jerk

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Right + Rude = Wrong.

Someone mentioned that to me and it has stuck ever since.

The counsel is timely, especially in circles where truth claims are criticized and those who express them, in extreme cases, are dismissed as anachronistic.

But is there a way to share your convictions without being snooty or insular? Here are 5 ways you can share your beliefs without being a jerk.

1.KNOW

It is significantly harder to share unless you know what you believe and why you believe it. The “what” deals with the content of your beliefs and the “why” deals with the justification for your beliefs.

I’ve realized that the more unclear I am in either of these, the more insensitive I could appear to someone else. Consequently, the clearer I am able to understand the “what” and the “why”, the better I can articulate myself to someone else and prevent avoidable misunderstandings.

2.LISTEN

Knowledge is irrelevant if I do not listen.

Listening is the process of building a bridge between your experience and theirs. When they feel heard, people are not only willing to hear what you say, but are also willing to offer you their trust.

Stories are sacred. So the fastest way to boost your jerk-o-meter is to dismiss their story because it contradicts with yours or to ignore it because what you’re going to share is more important.

Listen to their story. God forbid, you may even learn something new.

3.START

Picture a container of water.

The force of the water out of the container is largely dependent on the size of its exit and the water pressure. i.e the larger the exit, the less water pressure. The smaller the exit, more water pressure.

Depending on how the amount of pressure and the size of the exit is calibrated, the same container can be used as a reservoir for a calming shower or for a lethal water jet.

You and I are pressurized containers of information.

Only when I listen to someone else and start from where they are, I’d know how to calibrate what to say and when to say it.

Because the right thing said at the wrong time is the wrong thing said. What was meant to comfort can, instead, cut.

4.REALIZE

As you share, realize your role and God’s:

Your role is to share if needed. God’s role is to translate it as needed.
Your role is to prioritize the relationship. God’s role is to bless it.
Your role is to be a safe place. God’s role is to transform that space.

5.UNDERSTAND

Lastly, understand that God is bigger than your beliefs.

Humbling? Yes. But internalizing this has inspired me to delve deep into His presence while alleviating me from much avoidable heartache and stress resulting from “not sharing the truth.”

We are sharing truth whether we verbalize it or not. The posture of our hearts and the attitude of our minds do more to communicate what we believe than even our own words.

When you understand that God is bigger than your beliefs, you will also realize that His ways are higher than your ways ( Isaiah 55:9 ).

You will also feel liberated knowing that your effectiveness as a believer was never dependent on someone’s willingness to change their story.

Know, listen, start, realize, and understand. What else would you add to this list? Leave a comment below!

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A 3-Step “Hack” for Examining and Enjoying Scripture

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Articulating the “why” and implementing the “how” are two things.

That’s why some may spit some smoove words to you, but may not actually have game.

OHHHHH!

But that’s a topic for another day. (Get it together, Kevin.)

The more I spend time with well-intentioned Christians, especially youth and young adults, the more I realize that while there is a confidence when answering “why” of Scripture (purpose) , there is a lack of clarity concerning the “how” of Scripture (method of study/interpretation).

So here’s a simple 3-step process I’ve been experimenting with for both my personal time with God, as well as my ministry to high-schoolers.

Before you check it out, however, there are 2 major keys of success that you must consider in order for this to work:

Be open-minded and be diligent.

To be open-minded is to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit teaching you from, and through, Scripture. I believe that the Spirit leads us to find both the Truth for our faith and truths for our daily living in Scripture (John 16:13). Be willing to humble yourself to the truth of the text and be taught by the Spirit, rather than teaching to it.

To be diligent is to exercise the discipline of investigation consistently and effectively. I believe God rewards those who diligently seek Him and those who do will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)

OK. You’re ready. Here are the steps:

Step 1 – Observation

Prayerfully read the passage under consideration multiple times. Look for the following:

– The 5 Ws ( Who is writing? to Whom is he writing? When is he writing? Where is he writing from? Why is he writing? )
– Repeated words or phrases
– Genre ( type of writing)
– Themes (ideas in the passage)
– Anomalies (words that are “oddly” placed)
– Patterns in the passage (parallels, metaphors, similes)
– The subject and the object (who is talking to whom?)

After you gather enough information, ask as many questions as possible about the passage. Be sure to ask ­only observation questions at this point.

Because here’s the thing: An excellent question is always better than a mediocre answer.

As one of my friends once told me, “The Bible is a book of answers. We simply ask it questions.”

At this stage, avoid, as much as possible, from jumping into questions that pertain to your personal life. We will get to this at the reflection stage. Stay with the passage. The more detective work you do here, the better your reflection will be at the end.

Step 2 – Connection

You will have collected enough data at this point to make some connections.

Start making connections from A to B where A = point from the passage and B = other scriptural passages, personal life experiences, history, education, etc.

If you have access to tools such as Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and concordances, they will greatly aid you in making these crucial connections. The more connections you make,  the better.

Step 3 – Reflection

The fruitfulness of this step depends on how much work you put into steps 1 and 2. Poor investigation will lead to mediocre connections which then would lead to powerless reflections.

At this stage, pick one instance in the passage where you saw Jesus/God.

Put yourself in that scene. Use your senses. What would you see, touch, feel, taste, hear, and smell?

Then ask some reflection questions to yourself regarding the truth about that passage:

Examples:

What is Jesus telling me in this situation?
What is stopping me from doing what He’s asking me to do?
On a scale of 1-10, how much do I relate to the disciples in this passage?

The effectiveness of this step depends on the sincerity of your heart. Believe that God wants to speak to you.
Oftentimes it’s easy to forget that the Bible is, in fact, God’s love letter to His people. As such, any passage in Scripture, when carefully considered within its context, can reveal some powerful things during this time of reflection.

So there you have it. Observation. Connection. Reflection.

Try it. 

What would you add to these steps, if any? How can you make this better? Share your thoughts below! 🙂

Why Bible Reading is Difficult and What you Can Do About It.

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“ It’s too boring…”

“It’s too hard…”

“It’s not relevant…”

“I don’t get it…”

“It’s too old…”

And they go on. I’ve heard them, you’ve heard them.

Let’s face it: Reading the Bible can sometimes be a slow death experience. Maybe it hasn’t for you. But it surely has been for me.

Pastors, teachers, and well-intentioned Christians have portrayed reading the Bible as a joyous search for Mickey Mouse in Disneyland. But for me, more often than not, it has instead been a painfully cruel game of “Where’s Waldo” in Jurassic Park.

It’s been a journey, but I’ve learnt to appreciate the Bible quite a bit. It’s actually been a joyful experience! But why has reading the Bible been, and, can be such a difficult experience for many?

My dude Peter has something to say about that:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
(1 Peter 2:1-3).

The word that had me pause is “if” in v.3.

In the Greek, this word is used as a conditional clause. That means that the facts of verse 1 and 2 are assumed to be true IF the condition for it to be true in verse 3 is valid. In other words, my dude Peter is saying that you’ll grow through the word of God IF you have experienced who God is for yourself.

This makes more sense when you see how Peter introduces the letter in chapter 1. The disciple spends a significant portion of the chapter explaining to his hearers who God is and what He has done on for, and, behalf of them. He then makes a brief appeal to the read the word of God and then introduces his next thought cluster with the verse above.

Let me put into Kevinese what Peter was maybe trying to say few centuries ago:

Reading the Bible can be so difficult for many people because they are trying to figure out WHAT God is trying to tell them before trying to figure out WHO God is to them.

The Bible is a love letter from a Father revealing His heart to His kids. Inspired by my buddy Richard Martin who shared this thought with me, if I can add something to Scripture (which I can if I want to get stoned), I would add just two words before Genesis 1:1:

Dear Kevin..”

Because that’s what the Bible is! From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a beautifully syncopated symphony of a Master Conductor leading the instrumentalists to compose this single line of melody that has been reverberating through the chambers of human history since the beginning of time:

“God…is…love.”

But some tend to focus on the melody at the expense of forgetting the heart behind it – much like a student who is at an orchestra to write a report for credit rather than to listen to the music for enjoyment.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard the muted groans of many well-intentioned people when it comes to reading the Bible. For many, it’s been a textbook rather than a love-letter. For some, it’s been a cutlass to cut others rather than a scalpel to surgically restore their own hearts. For the longest time, The Bible has been a manual for my spiritual growth. Nothing more. Nothing less. Because of this perspective, reading the Bible became more of a chore rather than a joy for me. I may have trusted His words, but I didn’t trust the Author.

The Bible is the only book in the world where the key to unlocking it’s meaning lies in the heart of its Author. 

That being said, if you’re struggling to read the Bible as I used to, here are a few things you can start doing right away:

1) Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Sin has jacked up all of us since the fall. Our first parents’ innate orientation towards God and his laws has been completely and irreparably reversed by sin. While Adam and Eve enjoyed floating on the streams of God’s love prior to the Fall, we have been swimming upstream. So the reason why things of God tend to be difficult and amorphous is because our sinful human nature defies Him at every.single.level. It’s not your fault. There is an enemy. And you better give credit where credit’s due.

2) Change your perspective

The good news is that even though we have been wrecked by sin, by grace through faith, we have already moved from death into life. Christ has begun his good work in us, creating in us the desire to both will and to act according to His good pleasure. Since His work in you is conditional upon your choice to permit Him, you can now choose to change your perspective about Scripture.

How?

Start looking for Him before looking for what He’s trying to tell you. Search for the Planner before seeking His plans. Look at Him in the face of Jesus, before hearing what he’s trying to tell you.

And the more you do this, the more you begin to see Him. The more you see him, the more you want to see him. The more you want to see Him, the more you want to spend more time with Him in Scripture.

You’ll then begin to realize that information about God will lead you to intimacy with God, and your intimacy with God will then lead you to learn more information about God.

Who’s with me?

 

The Gospel According to Sriracha

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There are two kinds of people in this world.

People who have tried Sriracha. And people who have not.

If you are here, chances are that either you know what Sriracha is, have tried it, or wondering where this gospel is found in the Bible ( check in the appendix…… just kidding)

For those falling under the aforementioned third category, Sriracha is the world’s greatest sauce.
If you haven’t tried it yet,  I suggest you stop reading this article, go to your local Asian store, buy a bottle,  and put it on as many food items as possible and immediately consume them.

You will see the light.

Sriracha, predictably, is also my most favorite sauce. I like it so much, I douse Sriracha on my Sriracha.

Recently, one of my Sriracha-lover friends mentioned a documentary made on this ubiquitous, fan-mongering sauce, the origins of which no one seemed to know. Being an obsessed fan, I wanted to know more about this condiment than just its effect on my tongue.

I watched all 35 minutes of it.

As I began reflecting on the documentary, I could not help but see parallels between my favorite sauce and the good news of the Christian message ( i.e the gospel)!

Here are some napkin-notes I took while watching it.

1) Sriracha does not advertise. Ever.

I was dumb-founded when I heard that David Tran, the CEO of Huy Fong foods and the mastermind behind Sriracha, does not advertise his product. “We don’t have time to advertise” David says. “There’s only time for production. I’m busy looking at my chili supply that I don’t have time to look at Facebook or Twitter” he continues.

Tran spends almost all of his time with the source of the product that he doesn’t have time to be concerned with advertising it. As a result, the quality of the product does its own advertising.

Reminds me of John 15 where Jesus gives a lesson in horticultural to his bros.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Jesus tells his disciples that when they are connected to Him, they won’t have time to flaunt their “fruit.” The more they would spent time checking their relationship with the Source and less on themselves, the more their friends will see and share their Christ with others.

What if we spent less time advertising our Christianity and more time with our Christ?

How would that look like?

2) Sriracha forms authentic community.

Sauces don’t form community. Sriracha does.

When I wore my Sriracha shirt to class few weeks ago, I was ambushed by at least half a dozen people. All of them were diverse, yet unified by one goal:

They loved Sriracha ( And they wanted my shirt ).

Everywhere I go, I invariably meet Sriracha fanatics like myself who inevitably end up reminiscing the moments when their tastebuds were resurrected.
It fascinates me how community is formed around a green-capped, plastic bottle!

Part of the reason, I think, is how affordable it is.

Tran purposely marked down the price per bottle in order to make it accessible to both college student and congressman alike. He loved his recipe so much that he wanted everyone to try it.Sriracha-Mac-and-Cheese-Baked1

Coincidentally, Scripture mentions that God so loved the world that he wanted everyone to try His “product” – salvation.

The gift of salvation – the person of Jesus Christ –is made available, accessible, and affordable to every human being.  Those who had “tasted” this gift were not only transformed, but also formed a community of “fanatics” who’s only purpose was to offer this gift to others.

Today they call it the “church.”

3) Sriracha is a symbol of sacrificial commitment.

David Tran is boss.

As an immigrant from Vietnam during the 50’s, he had to endure many hardships prior to starting his business. After noticing the lack of hot sauces in local Vietnamese restaurants, Tran began to experiment with chili and spices and concocted his own sauce.
It took him one week to make one bottle, but he persevered.

That was 4 decades ago.

Now David has a factory that manufactures 3000 bottles per hour, 24 hours, 6 days per week raking over 1 billion dollars in global sales.

Because of one man’s commitment to his passion and the sacrifices he was willing to make for the benefit of others, millions around the world can now truly taste food.

The Christian message is rooted in One who was willing to give it all up. One who was faithful to His commitment to save the world even to the very end. Because of what He did, millions around the world are still able to truly taste life.

———-

Can’t wait for that glorious day. When at that great banquet table, with all who have endured till the end, my Savior eats with me.

It will be fantastic.

Especially when He reaches under the table…

..and pulls out His Sriracha bottle.

🙂

A Sriracha lover? What do you like about it? Any more connections to anything you can find with it??
Feel free to share in the comments below!