Because faith, truth, & justice compel me to stand | Adrian Boykin - Aug. 13, 2017

My heart breaks today as I continue to read the horrific stories out of Charlottesville. Three dead, dozens injured, some still in critical condition. The Alt Right, White Supremacists, and sometimes blatantly racist, and at others naively miss the point. To every African American person, and to most every minority, the Nazi salute and the Confederate flag signify one thing: People with black, brown, yellow, or red skin are worth less than people with whitish skin. This is the reality of the confederacy: Slaves were worth 3/5 of a man. They were sold as cattle. This is the reality of the Nazi movement(s): Jews, blacks, gypsies, disabled people, and others were “less than.”

When people of color see the confederate flag, or confederate statues, or Nazi salutes, that is what they think and feel. They don’t feel some philosophical argument about states rights (A position that never holds weight since the state’s right in question was only about keeping human living beings in slavery, as 3/5 of a man). Instead, what is heard and felt through all the Confederate and Nazi symbols is, “you are inherently less than me.” Tragic.

Now is the time for people of good will–of every race, of every political party–to stand up and recognize these facts of history, and oppose the current foment of racism that is reaching a feverish pitch once again. It was the Apostle Paul who noted that Christ Jesus has brought us near by the blood of Christ. He Himself is our peace. He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility (between ethnic groups), making one new person out of the two. (Ephesians 2:14-16). Christians of all people must stand up for the broken-hearted and oppressed. Christians of all people must stand against racism in all it’s forms, for the very first pages of the Bible shout, that every person is made equally in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

I will not stay on the sidelines. I will stand with and pray for those who are being marginalized in our great country. I will stand with and pray for police officers in harms way. And I refuse to be politicized into an either/or between Officers and African American brothers and sisters. Why? Because faith, truth, & justice compel me to stand. Are you with me?

This Faith Ain’t Boring | Adrian Boykin - Apr. 6, 2017

One of the most tried and true ways to make Christianity boring is to turn the whole endeavor into a set of propositions.  Across the centuries, many have walked this path.  Across our communities, many still do.  Sadly, this is a prime reason many people we know—young and old alike—get disenchanted with faith, and walk away.  They find it boring.

Perhaps we see the alternative—the stunning reality of what could be—on Easter and Good Friday.  “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 5:4-5).

Read those two verses again.  For the Christian, the old self was “united with him” in His death.  For the Christian, the new self is “united with him” in His resurrection.  “Him” is Jesus.   The offer is this glorious reality of union with the living God.

The tragedy for so many Christians is that we have imbibed this idea that our faith can be summarized by propositional statements, written on paper.  Those statements are critical.  They can indeed provide a foundation.  But the sap of Christianity that energizes our weary limbs, comes from being connected to the vine—from life “in Christ.”

My wife has been going to a local chapel in town for 30 minutes each Monday, just to silence herself before Jesus, to quiet her soul, to remember that she has a soul, to get reconnected to the vine.  Its been this time of solitude—talking to and then listening to the resurrected Christ—that fosters that thing Christians talk about so often, but live so rarely: relationship.  We are invited to a relationship with the living God.  Propositions alone will not get us there.

In his New Testament Epistles, the Apostle Paul scribbles the phrase “in Christ” some 200 times.  Some would call it the centerpiece of his writings.  Fascinating!  The centerpiece of his doctrine is an experience of relationship with the living God!

On Good Friday we remember we are people who have suffered with Christ, united with him in His death.  On Friday and Saturday, we feel the sting of death.  On Easter Sunday, we remember that we are people in whom the Resurrected Christ now lives.  The sting of death is no more.  Christ now lives and reigns, and through His Spirit, He dwells in us.

As we believe this truth, as we take time of solitude to hang with the living God, boredom finds no home in our hearts.  Christ in you, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27). May the Resurrected Christ, dwell richly in your heart through faith today.  May you be grounded and strengthened by His love, which surpasses knowledge, that this Easter, you may bubble over with all the fullness of God! (Ephesians 3:17-18).

A Time for Preparation | Adrian Boykin - Dec. 16, 2016

Year’s ago, an older woman at a church I used to serve declared simply, “My worship of God on Sunday morning is more or less dependent on my worship of God before I get to church on Sunday morning.”  She was a simple, but profoundly deep woman.  She had a connection with Christ and people that were almost mystical in beauty.  She understood that spiritual depth was far more dependent on the preparation of her own heart than on what anyone else fed her.

When we worship God prior to going to church, we begin witnessing the Sunday church-time activities through a completely different lens.  Worship music ceases to be something that does or doesn’t meet our preferences.  It becomes an instrument for praise and thanksgiving.  The sermon ceases to be about the silver-tongued messenger and becomes so much more about the message.  The people cease to be men and women we like and don’t like.  They become bearers of the image of God.  These changes reflect a heart level change that happens through much time in the cauldron of prayer, side by side with our God.  Yes, that’s available.

When we are alone with God, with no one else watching, preparing ourselves for the church service (or the workday, or the…..), then we become prepared to truly worship God at church, regardless of how engaging the worship, regardless of how riveting the sermon.  Indeed, we even enter the walls of our church looking to bless those we don’t like and greet those we don’t know.  It is the worshipper who has met in secret with God, who then enters the doors of the sanctuary, looking to “Contribute to the needs of the saints and to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

I’ve found something similar when it comes to the Christmas season.  My experience of worship each Christmas almost always depends on my preparation ahead of time.  I’m not talking about preparation around the tree or in the stockings, though that deserves its time.  And Lord knows I’m not talking about hanging the lights around the garage—how I wish to delegate that task!  I’m talking about my preparation for the coming Messiah.  Do I ask the Lord to prepare me for Christ afresh this season, yet again?  Do I bathe that hope in prayer?  Do I wait eagerly for “good news of great joy for all people,” “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” and even those breath-taking words, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 2:10; 2:14; 1:37).

Advent is the season of preparation for Messiah.  It’s a four-week window, in which we moderns can stand fast against the assault of Christmas boredom and materialism.  It is the season before the season, a time that God would use to “Prepare the way of the Lord” to “Make straight paths for Him” (Matthew 3:3).  We engage worship at Christmas as we bathe these promises in prayer.  We anticipate the second advent of our Messiah even as we reflect upon the hope that is ours from His first advent.

So may we ask ourselves today, “What is it I really want this Christmas?”  Don’t answer too quickly.  “What is it that I really want this Christmas?”  My guess is that we want just what Scripture promises The Christ will bring.  May we prepare ourselves to receive it in full, this Christmas season.

  • Pr. Adrian Boykin, Lead Pastor, Kearney eFree Church
The search for a Soulmate... good or bad?

According to research conducted by the Gallup Organization, young adults today are searching for a soul mate. An overwhelming 94% of never-married singles agree that “when you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost.” The idea that your husband or wife is able to communicate their deepest feelings and is able to meet your need for intimacy and closeness, is something that we all desire in a marriage.

In marriage, God designed us to be a team. Such teams are key not only to marriage but they are based on a biblical principle of ministry. Under God’s leading, a team is designed for mutual encouragement, accountability, and discernment. Our charge is found in Philippians 2:3-4 where Timothy wrote, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” – Soul mates with each other and in service to God.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of soul mate that the Gallup research was reporting. The research states;” Young adults today are searching for a deep emotional and spiritual connection.” This type of expectation suggests that some young men and women are looking to their mate to fulfill a spiritual role that only God can fill.

I John 4:19 gives us insight into how our relationship with God sets the example for our earthly relationships when it says, “We love because He first loved us.” It is important to examine our priorities. Our marriage, our family, our children can never take the place of our relationship with Christ.

 

Sylvia Asay, Ph.D., CFLE

Professor of Family Studies

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Are you really communicating or just talking?

Communication is often cited as the most important ingredient in a healthy marriage. When asked about the failure of their marriage, many divorced people often say something like “we just grew apart.” This usually means that the communication between them was lacking and that they failed to stay connected.

Over time, breakdown in communication can slowly erode a marriage and affect the couple’s ability to grow together towards maturity or relational growth. Two communication psychologists have found that predicting divorce is possible by how well the partners listened to each other even about everyday things.

Having different interests or goals is not an indication that the marriage is headed for divorce but it can mean that the relationship may not be as satisfying if the couple fails to share these with each other. As Christians, it is not uncommon for one partner to experience spiritual growth that leads one or the other to move ahead in different directions or with different passions. When this happens, the key is to continue to communicate honestly with each other. Even though they may not fully understand, they will know that you haven’t moved away from them.

It is important for couples to periodically take a check of their communication levels within their marriage. Which level represents your marriage?

 

Level 1:  Information about daily activities, small talk, avoiding subjects that are emotionally charged. “It is cold outside today.”

 

Level 2:  Reporting what others have said or done without sharing ideas or feelings. “I saw John at the grocery store today. He has a new job now.”

 

Level 3:  Sharing your ideas, judgments, and decisions but watch for acceptance or rejection from the listener. “My parents want to come for a visit.”

 

Level 4: Sharing some feelings, revealing emotions, beginning to reach emotional intimacy by sharing things you would not share with just anyone. “I am concerned about Jim’s behavior at school. What do you think is bothering him?”

 

Level 5:  Sharing feelings and emotions with complete openness and honesty, feeling that nothing you say will change the way you feel about the each other. “I appreciate the time that we spend together but it seems that we have had very little time together lately. I want to talk about how we can change that.”

 

If you evaluate your communication level at level 1 or 2, you may want to find new and deeper ways to connect with your spouse. If you feel your communication level is at 3, you may want to discuss why you hold back or hesitate to share. If you identify your communication level at a 4 or 5, you and your spouse are probably communicating in a way that allows you to grow together.

 

Are you really communicating or just talking??

 

Sylvia Asay, Ph.D., CFLE

Professor of Family Studies

University of Nebraska at Kearney

What To Do When Expectations Clash | Sylvia Asay, Ph.D., CFLE

As a child, we all have expectations about what it will be like to be a grown-up. Each of us embraces expectations about how our life, our work, or our relationships will look. Newlyweds bring in many expectations about what it means to be married. They have expectations about what a husband or wife does, what romantic means, and many other pre-conceived notions about their marriage. Some of these expectations come from the media, but the vast majority comes from the model that we have seen while growing up in our own families. If you saw your parents being openly affectionate towards each other, the chances are great that you will expect to have that same kind of relationship with your spouse.

Problems sometimes arise when one spouse has expectations that are different from the other spouse. Being able to communicate expectations sounds simple enough but is often difficult. Expecting your spouse to act a certain way or to just know what you want and like can be disappointing if you don’t recognize the expectations that are driving those ideals. No matter how long you have been married, miscommunication about expectations can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a general breakdown in communication. If this is your experience, try this simple exercise with your spouse:

 

  1. Ask yourself the question, “When I was growing up, what were the unspoken rules of our house?” Share these with each other. (Examples might be: don’t raise your voice, work first before you play, don’t talk to other people about family problems, don’t buy expensive gifts, husbands make all the financial decisions, don’t be late, etc.)

 

  1. Talk about how some of these unspoken rules have an influence on your expectations about life, your marriage, or your spouse.

 

  1. Identify areas in your marriage where these expectations have caused problems in the past.

 

  1. Make a plan to compromise or change some behaviors in response to understanding each others expectations.

 

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 9:9

 

Happy negotiating!