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Rookie Mistakes: Five Lessons for Young Christians

It’s been almost seventeen years since Jesus interrupted my selfish little existence and woke me up from sleeping death. Seventeen years since my eyes were opened to the meaning of life, to the beauty of Jesus, to the pleasure of knowing and being known by God.

As I look back on my earliest years walking with Jesus, I feel so much gratitude and joy. I also wish I could go back and talk to younger me and steer him away from so many misunderstandings about God, life, and himself. I’m sure that seventeen years from now I’ll have much to say about what I’m currently missing. But for now, here are five lessons I wish I would have known as a younger Christian that might help you in your walk with Christ.

1. The Lord loves baby steps.

For my first four years as a Christian, I waged a seemingly useless war against addiction to pornography. I danced the moral two-step toward God. With every step toward Jesus, it seemed, I took one step back toward lust and darkness. How frustrating it was as a new believer to finally be eager to do good for the Lord — to finally put away pornography — only to find with the apostle Paul that “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). I was sure that God would only love the post-porn version of me. I was wrong.

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The Sanctity of Unwanted Life

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court. Since that Monday, January 22, 1973, just under 60 million babies have been legally executed in our country. That’s roughly 3,000 little lives lost every single day. 

I’ve struggled with how this modern holocaust continues in a nation where over 3/4 of the population are professing Christians, and where access to the Bible, which so clearly affirms the value of human life (Genesis 1:27Psalm 139:13–16), is always only a finger-swipe away.

Even if we were to set aside our religious convictions, science itself objects. Modern advancements in technology and molecular biology make it impossible to argue that a baby inside a mother’s womb is anything less than a baby. So, if Christianity and modern science stand opposed to the legitimacy of abortion, why does the slaughter continue?

Three words: self above all.

These three words are the engine under the hood of the pro-choice movement. But they are also the touchpoint where the abortion issue confronts even the most passionate anti-abortion activitsts among us. One moment in Jesus’s life illustrates the point.

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Dying to Make God Famous

How do you measure success in your life? As an artist, I’m tempted to assess myself in all kinds of wrong ways.

“Why am I not selling more records?”
“How is that artist doing so much better than I am?”
“Why wasn’t I called to play at that event?”

Likely, your questions are different from mine, but the heart behind them is the same.

“Why don’t I have more followers on social media?”
“How did he get the promotion over me?”
“Why are her kids more well-behaved than mine?”
“Why haven’t I been able to bring more people to faith?”

In our culture, numbers are king. It’s increasingly difficult not to see growth as our surest sign of God’s favor. As Christians, the questions can be even more frustrating because our motives are often for noble causes like advancing God’s kingdom and making him famous in the world. How could God say no to that kind of ambition?

Well, he seems to. All the time. And his word helps us begin to make sense of his decision to do so.

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Five Natural Ways to Get to the Gospel

Think of evangelism like a road trip. Every trip you take has a beginning and an end. You determine your route not only by your destination, but also by your point of origin. 

As Christians called to preach the gospel, we always want to wind up at the person and work of Christ. But depending on where the person is today, we may need to take alternate routes — sometimes longer, sometimes winding, sometimes even taking a dreaded detour — to get our news to their hearts.

Most of us spend our time navigating clumsy conversations without obvious opportunities for the gospel. If Christ is the only hope for the world around us, why does it feel so impossible to connect him to actual people and their circumstances without coming off canned or irrelevant?

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The Real Battle for Sexual Purity

I used to look at pornography nearly every day for a decade. But for the past twelve years, by God’s grace, I have not visited a single porn site. 

For many battling addiction, that sentence embodies what we’re striving for. That sentence, however, is not a success story. 

As we all know by now, lust manifesting in addiction to pornography is rampant in our tech-savvy culture, and sadly it’s little different among Christians. I’m in weekly conversations with college guys at our church who are fighting hard against lust and porn addiction. 

It’s interesting for me to hear how people talk about their struggle. Often when they share, they frame it in terms of “how long it’s been” since their last encounter with porn. The room rejoices with those who haven’t had an incident in a while, and we spout off advice to the ones who have. You can almost see the ranking system build before your eyes: The most recent sinner cowers on the bottom with the lowest score, while the one with the longest record of abstinence stands tall at the top. 

But we may have it more wrong than we think. Why? Because our actions don’t always reveal our hearts.

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