Archive for 'God'

Letter #1 – Life outside the cage

Posted on 18. Nov, 2011 by .

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Letter #1 Life outside the cage
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 18, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 18, 2001

Dear Brett,

Well, I guess it’s here. Happy birthday. I hope your 20s are your greatest decade yet (but not the greatest ever…haha).

These letters have been fun. It was a great way for me to distill everything I’ve learned in my 20s and pass them along to you. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Have thought a lot about this last letter. These will be my final words to you as you embark on this new decade and I embark on mine.

You had a favorite Bible verse in high school, Brett. You quietly made it your personal manifesto for your high school years:

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” – Prov 29:25

I’m glad you latched on to that verse, especially during those years when others’ opinions are everything. It reminds us of the danger there. Fearing people–their thoughts, opinions, and notions of us– is a snare, a trap. Imagine a rabbit in a small wire cage–that’s what we do to ourselves when we live in fear of man. As fragile, insecure, broken creatures, we’re prone to caring way too much for the approval of those around us. It’s an addiction, and the more approval we get, the more we need.

And this is problematic…

Because if you drive an SUV, they’ll think you don’t care about the environment. And if you have a southern accent, they’ll think you’re an Alabama redneck. And if you haven’t read all the classics, they’ll think you’re uneducated. And if you talk too spiritual, the pagans will think you’re a fundamentalist. But if you don’t talk spiritual enough, the fundamentalists will think you’re a pagan. If you use use the word “sovereign”  and quote John Piper a lot, you’ll make the Calvinists happy. But don’t talk like that too much, lest the v-necked church planters and charismatics label you a geeky presbyter. Oh, and make sure you speak out against abortion, democrats, and homosexuality to keep the entire evangelical world happy as well. But don’t do that too much or the secularists will tag you as a bigot and hatemonger. And if you dress too nice, some will say you’re materialistic or that you have bad taste. If you don’t dress nice enough, you can’t be a part of their club. If you put gel in your hair and wear Converses, your Alabama friends will think you’re an Atlanta sellout. If you wear polos and Sperrys, your Atlanta friends will think you’re an Alabama bumpkin. Don’t even get me started on what they’ll think when they find out you were in a fraternity.

Feel that cage? See the wires?

There’s a way out: Stop caring.

Just.

Stop.

Caring.

Let it all go. Be free. Declare approval bankruptcy. Then begin living life.

I’m not fully there yet, Brett, but I’m getting closer. I can feel the freedom of care-less-ness a little more with each passing day. And rarely–very rarely–I’ll bump into someone who is living in this freedom. They’re like aliens. It’s so rare and refreshing, it’s like they’re not from this planet.

I think these people get that, on that day, we’ll all stand before our Maker…alone.

Alone, Brett.

“They” won’t be there. Just you and God. Think about that…it changes everything.

Love others hard. Do great work. Live in community. Humble yourself daily. Seek feedback and accountability, but only fear One.

Then forget everything else.

That’s life outside the cage, Brett.

Remember this.

-Brett

P.S. Enjoy that 32 waist, bucko!

Brett, live your life for others, requiring only the approval of One.

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Letter #3 – The self in righteousness

Posted on 16. Nov, 2011 by .

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Letter #3 The self in righteousness
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 16, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 16, 2001

Dear Brett,

I wrote you yesterday about this issue of reliance vs. self-reliance. I need to address one more hyphenated “self” issue with you today. This one’s going to sting a bit so brace yourself.

You became a Christian when you were 14. Everything changed after that. You got really involved with your youth group. Your youth pastor discipled you. You grew so much spiritually during your high school years.

But there’s a problem with rapid spiritual growth: self-righteousness.

Brett, self-righteousness is simply looking to yourself for the answers to all of life’s questions and dilemmas. It can be spiritual or secular in nature.

Spiritually self-righteous people focus on DOING. Youth group Christianity–what you’ve known for the last five years–is very DO and DO NOT based.

DO read your Bible.

DO pray.

DO go to church.

DO NOT drink alcohol.

DO NOT have sex.

DO NOT listen to bad music.

These are all moral instructions either directly or indirectly rooted in Scripture. But Brett, this is NOT Christianity. At its core, Christianity is much more of a being religion than a doing religion. Of course we are called to do–obey, give, serve, etc–but we have to begin and remain in the be. To be is to accept what someone else has done for you. To do is to try to do that for yourself.

Self-righteousness looks different for different people, but I know how it looks for you, Brett:

Looking down on people.

Viewing anyone who drinks alcohol as evil.

Viewing anyone who smokes as evil.

Being convinced that your theology is 100% right.

Being confident (or arrogant) in areas where you should be extending grace.

Expecting grace from all, extending grace to few.

Priding yourself on being “a good Christian guy” and using that reputation as a weapon of influence.

There is also a secular self-righteousness you practice:

Villifying anyone that appears “liberal.”

Looking down on other nationalities, viewing them as inferior.

Looking down on people of lesser socio-economic status, viewing them as inferior.

Defending political ideologies out of kneejerk reaction instead of objectively evaluating them for their merit.

Grace is a funny thing, Brett. It’s the antidote to self-righteousness. You’re going to discover more grace in the coming years. But beyond that, you’re going to need more of it in the coming years. A lot more.

Remember this, Brett.

-Brett

P.S. Baseball & steroids: A soon-to-be match made in heaven.



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Letter #4 – Reliance

Posted on 15. Nov, 2011 by .

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Letter #4 – Reliance
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 15, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 15, 2001

Dear Brett,

I’m up in the mountains right now, about an hour north of Atlanta. I’m staying in a one bedroom cabin with faded pictures of bears and floors made of compressed wood. There’s a fog hovering over the mountains in the distance. It’s raining.

I’m here to clear my head, recalibrate life, and ponder my last few days in my 20s.

Did I just write that? “my last few days in my 20s.” It’s surreal.

An extroverted friend said this week, “Are you crazy? Three days in the mountains by yourself? I’d be miserable!”

Lots of people would be miserable. Not us. We love it.

Brett, the Myers-Briggs tests you’ve taken are right. You’re an introvert. Being an introvert simply means that you “recharge” from being by yourself. 95% of the people you know wouldn’t believe that. The other 5%–the ones who really know you–would agree wholeheartedly. Yes, you’re socially adroit and have lots of friends, but you enjoy the creativity and deep thinking that solitude brings to your soul. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you dislike people or always want to be alone. In fact, you go crazy when you’re by yourself too much! But aloneness, in moderation, is something you need. With grease gun and drill in hand, God geared you this way.

But Brett, as with all matters of internal gearing, this comes with a warning. Your introverted bent is going to be fueled in the coming years by a society obsessed with independence. Everything has already begun to change and will change even more in the next ten years. Amazing advances in technology are going to make us all the gods of our own domains. Where we had to rely on educators and bosses and preachers in the past, we’re now able to find all that for ourselves. All those old barriers that separated us commonfolk from information are going to burn in a massive fire sparked by American innovation. We’ll have free and open access to anything we want to know. With a computer, anyone will be able to do anything, be anyone, create what they want to create. Average Joe’s will lead movements from their cellphones. Every pinch of inconvenience will be eliminated from our American lives thanks to all these advances. I’m not kidding here, Brett. Nor am I exaggerating.

Now let me interject, much of this is great! There are lots of magical things happening that make life better. But in this new age where we all get to be our own spelunkers of truth, we’re losing something as well–

reliance.

Reliance on mentors for wisdom. Reliance on friends for comfort. Reliance on family for support. Humans aren’t designed to be one-man power plants, generating everything we need for life independently. We need others in a bad way.  We need God in a bad way.

Remember when Jesus said it’s easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than it is for him to get to heaven? You know why Jesus said that? Because he knew that when humans get rich they get unreliant. Instead, they become self-reliant. Well today, though some are rich financially, everyone‘s rich on information and opportunity. And I fear the glut of those two resources are making us less God-reliant, less people-reliant, and more self-reliant. What we’re witnessing today, Brett, is a revolution of self-reliance. And it’s fundamentally changing the way we do life.

Brett, I’m not sure if this is a problem for extroverts. But I know that in the next ten years, it will be a problem for you. Brett, need others. Lean on others. Rely on others. You can’t be that for yourself. You can’t find that on a glowing screen.

I hope this letter isn’t a copy and paste when I’m turning 40.

Reliance.

Remember this, Brett.

-Brett

P.S. Most jaw-dropping, unbelievable, fact about your future self? You’ll like country music.

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Letter #15 – Lattice words

Posted on 04. Nov, 2011 by .

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Letter #15 – Lattice words
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 4, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 4, 2001

Dear Brett,

Hey amigo. Enough talk of work (we’ll come back to that next week). Let’s talk about people.

Just because someone is a good speaker doesn’t mean they’re right. They might be. Or they might just be a good speaker.

Just because someone is a good writer doesn’t mean they’re right. They might be. Or they might just be a good writer.

Just because someone can rattle people with tears or goosebumps or laughter, doesn’t mean that what they’re saying has any merit. It might. Or they might just be a good communicator.

Some people can conjure words that make men soar, but everything they say is utter crap, empty rhetoric. Fine-tuned communication is an X-man’s skill. The greats have it. But so do the maniacs.

We live in an age of compelling story-tellers, movie-makers, salesmen, and preachers. Some are saints, but some are charlatans. Brett, you’ve got to learn to tell the difference. You’ve got to separate the garbage from the gold. It takes a strong gut and an eye heavied by truth. And pray. Pray that God gives you eyes to see past the lattice work of words to what’s beneath. So many get deceived.

This is important, Brett. Remember.

See ya.

-Brett

P.S. Sorry. You’re not getting any taller. Only wider at this point.

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Letter #19 – Devil on parade

Posted on 31. Oct, 2011 by .

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Letter #19 – Devil on parade
From: Brett Trapp – Oct 31, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Oct 31, 2001

Dear Brett,

Hey, man. Happy Halloween. Hope I didn’t turn you off yesterday. That wasn’t my intent, and I was just trying to be honest.

I remember what you were doing ten years ago today. I know exactly what you’re doing actually. Or not doing, rather.

ATO, your fraternity, has a Halloween Date Party tonight. Everyone’s going to be there, dressed in costume. They’re having it an old plantation home in the middle of a field out in Colbert County. Should be a lot of fun.

But I know you’re not going. You’ll be sitting at home. On purpose. And in the past week, you’ve been quick to remind people why you’re not going. You’re taking a stand against this event because you have a fundamental problem with Halloween as a holiday. You were taught by church, mentors, and your Christian high school that

“Halloween is the devil’s holiday.”

“Halloween has Satanic roots.”

“You open yourself up to demonic activity if you participate in Halloween.”

“On Halloween, witches in covens around the world sacrifice babies and cast real spells.”

Who knows…maybe some of that stuff is true. But I’d just like to ask you, Brett, why is this such a big deal to you? Of all the clear and present evils in this world, why are you digging in to oppose this one?

I’m pretty sure the devil’s on parade every day of the year, not just Halloween. The devil’s on parade in Thailand where women are bought and sold like cheap lawn furniture. The devil’s on parade in Haiti where little kids, restavecs, act as slaves to wealthy families. The devil was on parade last month when the terrorists struck. Heck, the devil’s on parade behind your fraternity house in west Florence. There are hungry kids back there.

Take a stand. Be a man of conviction. That’s great. But if you’re going to plant a flag and advance the kingdom of God, I’m not sure a party with college kids wearing silicon masks is the best use of your conviction.

Just a thought…

-Brett

P.S. Bama football: Hang in there.

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How lunatic sports fans are made: The “jumping dad” theory

Posted on 10. Jan, 2011 by .

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Tonight the Auburn University Tigers will be playing the University of Oregon Ducks in the BCS National Championship game. Several dramatic storylines and two napalm offenses have made this one of the most anticipated BCS championship games ever.

As a big time Alabama Crimson Tide fan, I have to admit that I’m pumped to watch the game tonight. I’ll be pulling for the Ducks, and I’ll be pulling for Auburn. The Crimson in me wants to see Bama’s longtime rival fall. The SEC in me wants to see Auburn embarrass the Ducks, tightening the conference’s 5-year death-grip on the rest of the college football world. Doesn’t really matter who wins; I’m a fan of college football and I’m looking forward to a good game.

What I’m not looking forward to is the social media blitzkrieg that will follow the game.

I’ve seen it all before: lunatic fans using Twitter, Facebook, and message boards as their personal attack platforms. Arrogance, anger, and jealousy fuel the carnage as words become hand grenades. I’m not talking about your standard trash talk–that’s part of rivalries and sports in general. I’m talking about irrational, emotionally-fueled nonsense. Fans going back and forth with comments stacking up in little steaming clumps for all the world to see on Facebook or Twitter.  The fireworks go late into the night until everyone falls asleep. Then everyone wakes up the next morning and tweets about going to church.

But it leaves me asking…

WHY?

Why are people so emotional over “their” team? Why will people alienate friends and family over a sports team? Why do people who are calm and sensible in everyday life become crazy instigators online? With all the important issues in our world, why are people so dang passionate about sports?

My buddy/Auburn-superfan Wes Howard wrote a blog post this morning that got me thinking about this. You can read the full article here, but here’s an excerpt…

“Fans can argue (and will) all day long about who is better and it can get ugly, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s important that we keep that in mind, but there is something special about a father and son connecting over a sport. Some of my favorite memories are from watching Auburn games with my dad. We would jump up and down and scream at the TV.”

What’s ironic about this is that I grew up one street over from Wes in Florence, Alabama. While he and his dad were “jumping up and down” cheering for Auburn, my dad and I were doing the same thing, only we were cheering for Bama. Two little boys with two dads leaping out of their recliners cheering for their team.

I’ve thought about this before, but Wes’s post clarified it for me. I think lunatic sports fans become that way because that is precisely what dad was. Of course kids imitating their parents isn’t a new revelation, but think about it: As a child, when did you see your dad get truly happy? When did you see dad get visibly giddy? For many people, the only time they saw their dad so full of life was when his team was scoring a touchdown.

I had a great dad–loving in every way–but there was a different kind of joy that would come out of him when he cheered for Bama. It didn’t matter what else was going on. It didn’t matter what was happening with his job. It didn’t matter what other stresses of life were bearing down on our family.

In that moment, a father’s joy reigned supreme. It filled our living room like an intoxicating fog, putting smiles on the faces of me, mom, my two brothers, and probably even the dog.

Forget the thermostat; I believe a father’s emotional state truly determines the atmosphere of a home. And when that atmosphere is electrified by a dad cheering for a sports team, it tattoos a child’s soul with a message that says, “This brings joy. This is who we are.” And a little piece of that child’s identity gets permanently tethered to that object of joy.

Sports are great. I think they serve a purpose in society. I think they teach us about teamwork and leadership. I think they tell great little stories that bring us happiness in this life. This is not a sports-bashing post. I just wonder what would happen…

If Christian dads allowed their kids to see them get excited about things that really matter.

If Christian dads strategically planned their enthusiasm in the direction of things that matter, knowing that little eyes are watching.

If Christian dads allowed themselves to jump out of the recliner…

for things that really matter.

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Thanks, Debbie. (a reminder on living)

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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Imagine you could touch and see all the nuggets of wisdom from the last decade of your life. Imagine you could gather them together, one-by-one, and pour them into a giant distillery of wisdom. Imagine then that the machine slowly awakes from its sleep, creaking to life. Gears begin to grind, steam shoots from aluminum pipes, whistles blow, conveyor belts begin to glide along. And on the other end of this giant wisdom machine is a spigot and out from that spigot gushes the juicy nectar of A Big Truth.

If all that learning could be distilled into one summarizing truth, what would it be?

I know what mine would be.

The grand, sticky sweet truth of my 20s could be summarized in three words: Live life intentionally.

It’s as if God rented a billboard in the background of every scene of my 20s, and they all say a different version of the same truth…

Live

life

intentionally.

Live life on purpose, Brett.

Brett, don’t coast.

Brett, don’t just float along and react.

Don’t let 2 hours-a-night of primetime TV steal your days, Trapp.

Don’t let a life hard-wired for rich adventure be shorted out by an influx of passivity.

Plan.

Live.

Thrive.

Are you listening, Brett?

I think a lot of people think God has given them a life like a rock. I think He’s given me a life like play-dough. And the play-dough is ours to make a work of art or a little pile of play-dough poop. And though I believe he is directing our hands in some weird way, He affords us a million little choices, a million little right or lefts, a million little ups or downs. And every little choice links together to form a life.

The story is His, but for some insane reason he hands us the pen and let’s our chubby little kid-hands write a bit.

Yikes.

Scary thought–that we’ve been given one shot to make this life count for something. There was a start…and there will be a finish. There is no opt-out option for death.

I’ve faced death only a few times in my life. When my dad died when I was 19 was one of them.

But I faced it this week again–first time in a while.

I have a good friend here in Atlanta named Matt. On Saturday night Matt’s mom, Debbie, was out shopping with his sister. She sat down for a minute, slumped over, and never woke up. A brain hemorrhage had suddenly and unexpectedly ended her life.

Sunday morning a few of us went over to Matt’s house. We sat in silence mostly. We tried our best to be some comfort in an ocean of grief. I broke down once, thinking again about that day ten years ago when my own parent had passed on.

And we listened to Matt tell of his mom, Debbie. He told how that week she had sent he and his brother and sister long text messages, telling them how much she loved them. One of Matt’s buddies from college told how his mom once brought tons of furniture and rugs and spent all day decorating their college pad. Later that day, some friends set up a Facebook page where countless people told stories of how she lived life…

intentionally.

I left Matt’s and called my mom. Just needed to hear her voice.

I’m going to Debbie’s funeral in a few minutes. Hoping the call to live life intentionally becomes a little more real, because I know I’m not there yet.

Thanks, Debbie. We miss ya already.

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And the winner is…

Posted on 01. Jul, 2010 by .

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All right, here it is! Last week I set out to raise $2200 in 22 hrs to help bring clean water to people in Kenya. You guys stepped up, and we did it! Well I won an ipad for my efforts, and I said I’d give it away randomly to someone who gave at least $22. So I rounded up a few friends to help out with the drawing (see video below). Couple of notes…

  • I entered everyone who gave at least $22 within the 22 hr window one time
  • The winner needs to email me at iamtrappstr at gmail dot com

Again, thanks so much for your help! We really made a difference to some special people that God really cares about.

-Brett

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

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22 in 22! Give Water / Win an ipad!

Posted on 25. Jun, 2010 by .

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If you’ve been listening lately, you’ve heard me talking up the Water for Kenya 5K. This is an event the company I work for is hosting and sponsoring. The 5k is happening in downtown Norcross, Georgia, tomorrow, Saturday, June 26, at 8:00am. We’re partnering with an incredible non-profit here in Atlanta, Kenya Medical Outreach. KMO does tons of good work in Kenya, but this event is all about clean water. There is a true crisis in Kenya. People there hike for hours to gather toxic, contaminated water every day.

Of the many complex world crises–wars, crumbling economies, earthquakes–this is the easiest to solve. Digging a simple well provides clean water for life.

But it takes money.

A small team of us has been organizing this event for months, and we can’t wait to see it all come together Saturday morning. If you’re going to be in Atlanta on Saturday, WE’D LOVE TO SEE YOU THERE! Even if you’re not a runner, come out and just walk. Online registration is now closed, but you can still register the morning of the event (registration opens at 7am).

If you can’t make the run, YOU CAN STILL HELP! At the time of this post (midnight on Thursday night), I’m kicking off a personal fundraising campaign called 22 in 22!

I’m trying to raise $2200 in the next 22 hrs to help dig a well in Kenya. I’m asking 100 people to give $22 to help save lives. $2200 will provide clean water for life for more than 85 people!

Those that know me well know that I’m all about the number 22. It was my dad’s high school basketball number, and–for whatever reason–it’s taken on a lot of meaning since he passed away on New Year’s Eve of 2000. My dad was a pastor for many years, and those of you who knew him, knew he was a man of God. This is something he would support. If you knew my dad, I’m asking you to make a gift in his honor.

I have a personal fundraising page at http://firstgiving.com/BrettTrapp where you can securely pay by credit/debit card.

Oh! And one more thing. A bunch of people in my company are raising money for water as well. A generous donor has donated an ipad to be given to the top fundraiser in our company. Right now, the leader has collected $1450 so far, so anyone could win it! And if I win it, I’ll do a random drawing from everyone who gave $22 and give it to that person!

Give Water / Win an ipad

$2200 in 22 hours (100 people giving $22…of course you can always give more:)

22 in 22!

GIVE NOW and THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

–Brett

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Picking and Choosing in Conference Royale

Posted on 03. May, 2010 by .

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My job has taken me to some great conferences in the last few months. I’ve been to Catalyst, Catalyst West, Adopted for Life, LifeWork 2.0, and the Q Conference. Each experience has been rich, opening my eyes to the dark places and introducing me to great new people.

However, I find myself feeling buried, buried under the weight of so many heavy issues.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”   – Romans 12:21

All these Christian leaders have their thing–a flare to shoot into the darkened Christian stratosphere, warning us of some great injustice in some forgotten corner of the world. And those lights seem to be multiplying in the night sky:

  • Creation care
  • Fatherlessness/mentoring
  • Modern slavery
  • Domestic evangelism
  • International missions
  • Sex trade/child trafficking
  • Adoption/orphan care
  • Poverty
  • Pornography
  • Hunger
  • Disaster relief
  • Homelessness
  • War/violence
  • Micro-finance
  • Clean water
  • Nuclear disarmament

And this is just the start. There are so many worthy options (which isn’t always a good thing).

Is it just me or did it used to be easier? Seems like the church of the 80s/90s played a pretty simple game–abortion, homosexuality, and secular music on the flop; alcohol on the turn; and R-rated movies on the river. Jerry and James and the SBC dealt the cards, and they mobilized players around the table. They played this game long into the night and well into the end of the century. Same cards, same script.

But things have changed…

Now there is myriad hot button issues, and I’m left feeling swamped. Conference leaders have constructed this gigantic Roulette Wheel of World-Change. Every few months they gather us in, call for bets, then give that sucker a whirl.

I have two bets: my time and my money. God’s given these in limited supply–this is what I have to play with–and I can’t go back to the ATM machine.

To say yes to one issue is to shun another. To embrace one is to damn the other. Do I save God’s creation or petition the government about Congolese violence? Do I mentor a child in downtown Atlanta or do I help child slaves in Haiti? Is it better to finance water projects or feed the hungry? Furthermore, does God look at that list and prioritize one item over another? And if so, should all of Christendom rush to those few issues and place their bets there?

I’m thankful for conferences. I think God uses them–in a small way–as vehicles of his will. I’m thankful they’ve raised the flag on these issues because sometimes churches forget to. I just have no idea where to begin. I’m not looking for some legalistic checklist or grid to give me a false sense of righteousness. But I do want to maximize my life, my time, my resources. I want to be strategic.

I have some thoughts, but honestly, I’m pretty clueless.

What do you think? I’m listening…

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