The Internet's favorite Unkle.

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Anonymous asked: Hello Unka! I just want to ask if motivations matter in obeying. I’ve heard the gospel so many times, but it’s hardly changed me from the inside out as it ought. I get increasingly bitter and resentful. Why isn’t knowing what God has done through Jesus enough for me? I want to know God and have Him change me and how I live… Thanks for your help and your ministry. [edited for length]

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Unka Glen answered: Motivations matter very much in obeying. If for no other reason than having bad motives will ultimately lead to you failing to obey. As Jesus Himself said, and it was a rebuke: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8).

So let’s start at the beginning, you want to change, but the question is: why? As you rightly point out, if it isn’t out of love, then what’s the point? Blindly obeying seems like deep devotion only to those who’ve never really gotten far in their walk. If you go a few steps down the road on real faith, you will quickly come to a point where option #1 is to sell out and give up, and option #2 is to go to God in prayer and say, “hey, what the hell?”

THAT is when your walk with the Lord really gets going.

You can’t ignore what’s holding you back in your relationship with God, and increase prayer, or Bible reading, or church attendance, and expect that to change things. Stuck is stuck, and when you’re hung up on something, the point is to get un-stuck so you can move forward. And the only way to do that, is to go to God in prayer and tell Him: 

“I’m stuck, I’m mad, I’m frustrated, and I have negative thoughts about you, God. I know that you’re more than patient enough to put up with me saying those things, since you already know I’m thinking them”. Sometimes I think the Lord purposely leads us through tough circumstances to force this kind of real dialogue, at long last, into our relationship.

If you want to live a more righteous life (as opposed to a less-sinful life, designed to make you feel good about you), then all you need to do is remember one simple thing: do what love demands of you. 

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If you don’t do the podcast thing, click here to stream this episode. If you’ve never heard our podcast, this is a great episode to start on! Lots of humor, and some truly outstanding wisdom from the fellas. If you love reading my Q&A’s on this blog, you’ll really love hearing me and Matt and Jed, and Lee go over things in person. 
thebridgechicago:

Say That 140 is up!
How do I know if God gave me a desire, or if it is just completely selfish? I am intimidated by my potential partner’s sexual history, how do I move past that? How can I live a balanced life instead of being a workaholic?
Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

If you don’t do the podcast thing, click here to stream this episode. If you’ve never heard our podcast, this is a great episode to start on! Lots of humor, and some truly outstanding wisdom from the fellas. If you love reading my Q&A’s on this blog, you’ll really love hearing me and Matt and Jed, and Lee go over things in person. 

thebridgechicago:

Say That 140 is up!

How do I know if God gave me a desire, or if it is just completely selfish? I am intimidated by my potential partner’s sexual history, how do I move past that? How can I live a balanced life instead of being a workaholic?

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

Source: thebridgechicago

thebridgechicago:

Singer-songwriter Eric Peters is our guest worship leader this month on The Bridge Podcast. His first selection was a hymn for people who struggle with feeling helpless and hopeless: Come Ye Disconsolate. We hope its reminder “Earth has no sorrow the Heaven cannot heal” is an encouragement to you.

Hear more of Eric’s reworked hymns every week this month on The Bridge Podcast

Source: thebridgechicago

"Make no excuses. Change or don’t. Leave or stay. Own your decision. Half measures and good intentions and group expectations don’t count. We’re all either following God, or we’re doing something we think we ‘need’ to do instead."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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 asked: Hey Unka! So, I want to become a chef. It’s something I’ve always wanted to become. It’s just that I also want to do meaningful work in my life. So how could I tie in the two together?

Unka Glen answered: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, ANYTHING you’re interested in, the Lord can use it for the Kingdom. Anything. Let me tell you a story of someone I know personally (though I know she’d prefer to remain anonymous).

As you may know, my main job is inner city ministry here in Chicago, and one night I met this sweet young gal who was brought to our service by some homeless men. She explained that she was a recovering alcoholic, and that since she had started working her recovery, she started seeing people on the streets in a very different way

She also explained that she worked in a very fancy restaurant in the city, and that this restaurant would often throw out lots of food unless it was prepared “just right”. So she began collecting this food, and was using it to feed the homeless very slightly less than gourmet-quality meals. 

Those men warned her that she was doing all this in a dangerous neighborhood, and that she could simply bring that food to churches that participate in our Bridge program, and those churches could distribute it in food programs for the poor, as they’ve already been doing. That way it would save those already poor inner-city churches some money, while keeping everything simple and safe. 

But the story doesn’t stop there! This same young gal started talking to other kitchen staff that she knew in other gourmet restaurants, and started getting them to set aside food too. Some of those restaurants got so excited, they offered to come down to those churches and homeless shelters, and cook for the people in person!

Who knows where it might go from there? Think of the possibilities!

All this came about because one person felt a burden of love, and saw a way to serve those in need. And I promise you, this young woman has as much influence for the Lord as any pastor in the neighborhood. You feed a starving person gourmet cuisine, they already sense that something remarkable and miraculous is at work!

Whatever your interest, whatever you’re into, God can use it.

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Wherever your journey is heading, and however difficult it may seem, there are steps you can take to have a healthier Christian life. And those steps begin with reminding yourself of the truth, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, and courageously embracing your gifts.

You can do it.

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- Guest author Jeremy Nichols in the September BridgeBox devotional. (via thebridgechicago)
Source: thebridgechicago

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This past weekend featured a triumphant return to my home town of Houston, Texas. I was looking forward to meeting with podcast and blog superfans, and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I got there, I was mobbed by literally a fan.

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This is by far the most adorable mob I’ve ever encountered. Her name is Allison, and she is amazing, and smart, and a survivor, and amazing. I know I said amazing twice. Shut up. She’s amazing.

Then I was suddenly mobbed again!

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As you can see, this mob is roughly twice as big as the previous mob, and things were clearly about to get out of hand. Stephanie and Seth turned out to be fun and cool and sweet and bound for amazing things. If you’re gonna be mobbed, this is the way to go.

Many apologies to Charlie and James who I forgot to photograph, and to Joshua and Ernie who I wasn’t able to synch up with (next time fellas, for sure).

It’s so amazing to meet people just like you that I pray for every day. We really are all connected in this amazing way, and I look forward to eventually meeting many more of you in person, and to hearing your stories, and sharing a laugh or two.

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Anonymous asked: I’ve been going to the same church for the past 24 years and I’m 24, lol!. I’ve been involved in different ministries, especially with the youth. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve never really been spiritually fed by my church. The sermons are always about the haters in the church, and there’s a lack of love between the members. I really want to go somewhere else, but I don’t know how to leave since I’m so involved. Any tips?

Unka Glen answered: You’d be surprised how often I hear stories just like like this. And the truth is, we have to be prepared for things to get worse before they can get better. So let’s start here:

1. Make up your mind, today, that you will leave. Going back and forth on this decision has kept you from being fed, and kept you from moving on. Decide that it will happen, and put all your brain power behind how you’re going to get it done.

2. Start looking for another church. Nowadays plenty of churches have their pastor’s sermons posted online, so that’s an easy way to start your search. However, you’ll eventually have to do some visiting. This will not be fun. You will kiss a few frogs before you find your price. (Protip: start your search by looking for churches with good doctrine, with 300 people or less in them, 100 or less, even better).

3. Start looking for places to serve. Not all churches are set up to do the kinds of ministry you may feel called to, or maybe they have enough volunteers to cover areas where you want to serve. All that’s fine, as long as your new church feeds you and re-charges your batteries, you can simply serve in ministries outside your church.

4. Explain to your pastor exactly why you’re leaving. You told me: you aren’t getting fed, sermons are about haters, and there’s no love in the house. I’d tell him the exact same thing in that same kind of plain english. This isn’t a complaint, it’s not a demand that he do something about it, it’s not a debate, or even a discussion. The decision to leave has already been made, you’re simply being respectful by giving him the info on why you’re leaving.

5. Explain to everyone else why you’re leaving. Oh, you could opt for the “nice” option. You know the one, where you lie about the real reason why you’re leaving. And that lie helps your church to keep on sucking, instead of giving it a reason for change. But you’re not going to go that route, because it would make everything worse for everybody. Honesty is a Godly virtue, niceness is not.

6. Explain why you’re leaving to the people you’ve been serving. Once you’ve spoken the plain and simple truth to your pastor, you’ll need to speak an even simpler truth to the youth.

Something like: “I love you all so very much, and I’ve become very attached to you. And all this love has made think about young people who don’t have a church home, and don’t experience the kind of love you do. And I want to give them the kind of love we share. As part of that, I’ll be attending a church that will help keep me a bit more prepared and equipped for that calling.”

When it comes to confrontations, if you try to find the least painful way of doing things, you usually end up with the most painful outcome. But if you accept that a certain amount of pain is inevitable, you can focus on moving straight through things, making it quick and clean and simple and loving. And by facing that pain with Godly courage, you’ll actually make things much less painful.

Will people freak out? Yes. Will it be unpleasant? Of course. But that’s going to be true no matter how you handle things, or when you handle them. The Lord’s servant moves forward and follows The Master. sometimes that will be a popular decision, and sometimes it won’t, but we follow anyway.

"Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, and said that you are like this son, who comes crawling home, hoping to eat with the servants and sleep with the dogs. And Jesus said that He is like the father who puts a robe on your back, and a ring on your finger, and lays out a feast before you. …All that matters is that you come home."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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 asked: Hey Unka! I really like this guy at my church. I have a hard time getting into conversations with just him, so I can get to know him better. I have a hard starting a conversation with him and only him. Any advice?? Thanks!

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Unka Glen answered: Well, it’s easy enough to come up with a reason to get his phone number (I’ll text you the link to that thing we were just talking about, oh do I have your number? You know I don’t think I do!). So from there you can do some texting, and while that’s something, it doesn’t really compare to real face-to-face conversation, does it?

In the end, if you want to be alone (and I think it’s a good idea to have some alone time to get to know one another), then why not invite him to meet you at a coffee shop or what have you? This can be as casual as “what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Oh I see, well they have the best ice cream over at this little place near me, let’s meet over there later this week, and I can show you what I mean.”

Either way, get your mind around one simple concept: if you want some romance in your life, you’re gonna have to fight for it. All kinds of problems and strange obstacles will arise, and you’ll have to fight through all those things to keep the relationship moving forward. And yes, hearts may be broken, but trust me, broken hearts can mend stronger than they were before. 

God gives us the courage to act on the doors He opens, but sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes you choose to do your part, and the other person in the relationship fails to do their part. In those cases God gives healing, He gives us a greater wisdom, and leads us on to even better relationships. God turns all our setbacks into comebacks.

Nonetheless, you’re smart to be focusing on communication as the thing to take you both to the next level. Communication with God (prayer) is all important, and that takes us to our next question:

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Anonymous asked: Hi Unka Glen! I tutor a great 10 year old boy, and so far it’s been pretty awesome. However, I’ve noticed he has a habit of “shutting down”. This has only happened once before with me, he quietly started crying and putting his head down. I responded by letting him have his moment, but also being attentive and encouraging. Within minutes, he quickly resumed doing his homework. But today it happened again, what should I do? [edited for length]

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Unka Glen answered: Learning to communicate is essential for healthy relationships, especially in the area of getting help from other people. I’ve seen young kids yelling and screaming for a parent to help them, while the parent is saying something like, “Billy, if you want me to help, you have to stop screaming and tell me what’s wrong. Is it your foot? Is it your head? Somewhere in between? Is it an existential crisis Billy?”

It’s silly to have a problem, and want help, but then to fail to express that problem and ask for help in a simple and direct way. So silly. Except you and I can be just like that. Whether it’s saying “I’d like to get to know you better over ice cream”, or “God, I’m angry with you because I don’t know who else to be angry with”, we struggle to simply express ourselves and be vulnerable. 

Now is an awesome time for this young man to learn to “use his words” to express himself. At his age he may not have the cognitive bandwidth to figure out the right words to express himself, AND figure out how to process those emotions at the same time. But once the emotions have burned off, ask him to express what it was that was making him frustrated. 

Let him know that he doesn’t have to use all the right words, and that you won’t negate his emotions by telling him he’s wrong to feel the way he does. If he can express himself after the fact, then maybe he can express himself a little earlier next time. Also, ask him to express himself on things that are not so emotionally charged, “why is Iron Man your favorite Avenger?”, or “why does this person in this comic book look so sad?”

Also, just like having a prayer journal, you can encourage him to write down his feelings, and tell him that he doesn’t have to show anybody unless he wants to. The main idea is to start expressing things in healthy and mature ways. 

Just like good prayer, you’re encouraging him to separate the explanation from the analysis. First, let’s figure out what we feel, THEN we’ll decide whether it’s based in reality. When we try to have the “right” emotions (whatever those are) we end up censoring everything we really feel. Better to simply say, “I imagine I’m wrong about some of this, and right about some of it, but I won’t be able to analyze that until I express it.”

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"God isn’t in a hurry. He’s patient. That’s in the Bible. But Christians are not patient. They want to hurry up and get to a point of ‘good enough’. That’s not how life with God works. It’s about constant little tweaks and adjustments and growth that happens at a pace specific to you."

-

Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 138 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

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(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago

thebridgechicago:

Chicago metal powerhouse Fire Down makes their BridgeBox debut with this scorching rendition of the classic hymn “Rock of Ages.” Turn up the speakers, and be aware the BridgeBox is not liable for injuries suffered while moshing, headbanging, or crowdsurfing.

Support inner city ministry by getting face melting Rock and Roll (among many other things) in your inbox every month. Sign up at missionusa.com/bridgebox.

Source: thebridgechicago

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 asked: Since I was young I knew in my heart that I liked dancing, but I’m turning 20, and never took dancing classes. These days I’m starting to feel something missing, and that I should do more with my gift, but I’m hesitating and confused, how can dancing honor/glorify God? [edited for length]

Unka Glen answered: Let’s start with this: ANY interest or passion you have can be used to glorify the Lord. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

So, let’s look at just one way you could serve the Lord through dance. 

First, you search the world over for the best Christian dance music (if you look through my archived posts, you’ll see tracks from The Poolhouse Guru, and those might work for you).

Next, you come up with a dance that interprets what’s in the song. If the song is about the storms of life that can blow us off course, you dance in a way that looks like you’re being tossed around by a storm. You get the idea.

Then you find some at-risk young ladies, and teach them this dance. This will teach them the spiritual content in the song, dancing will teach them to be more body-positive, and it will give you a chance to uplift and encourage them.

But wait there’s more! You put on a recital, so now your class will be witnessing to their friends and family through their performance. You getting excited yet? Do you see the possibilities? You want me to supersize it anyway?

Okay, how about you help churches to raise grant money for all the culture and getting all the at risk youth off the streets. Those churches then host the classes. Then by having those recitals in their church, they’re doing new outreach to friends and family that would never normally be in church. This will increase the Sunday attendance, and bring in additional funding from the grant money.

All from you and your love of dance.

Whatever you’re into, do THAT for the Lord. You don’t have to do what I do or what anyone else does, to make a big difference for the Lord. Do YOUR thing. Dance with all your might before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14).

If you like gardening, help inner-city churches plant gardens that help feed the homeless in their communities. If you like surfing, get out your waterproof Bible and tell them about the first dude to walk on water. If you like horses, start a program that takes juvenile offenders and teaches them that they have to learn to control themselves, in order to control these powerful animals.

Of course, all of these amazing things, in fact every amazing thing in my life, came about because I took what God gave me, and I fought hard to make life give me success. Forget about the romantic notion where you have something important that you bring to the table, and someone else does all the difficult and vulnerable work to make things happen.

It’s your dream, and you need the benefit of learning to overcome obstacles in order to make it a reality.

"What’s the difference between you and the great heroes of the faith you read about in scripture? They had struggles just like you, they had doubts and fears, and sins of all kinds. In the end, they gave in to the wild love they had for God, they were carried away, and they left their senses. That decision to be whole-hearted, that’s what we need."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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 asked: Hi Unka, so I cussed while praying because I was angry at someone. But after that I repented, and even prayed for the same person, because God convicted me to do so. When I told my friends, they judged me because, according to them, I should approach God in reverence; not use my mouth to say bad words since the same mouth brings him praise. But I see God as my Papa, and I’m just telling him how I felt mistreated. [edited for length]

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Unka Glen answered: Your friends are making a giant, huge, hairy assumption that God is honored more by behaving reverently, than by honesty. The problem with that particular assumption is that Jesus told a parable that directly contradicts it.

The Parable of the Two Sons can be found in Matthew 21:28-32, and it tells the story of a father who tells one son to go work in his vineyard, and that son says “I will not” and has a funky and disrespectful attitude. But then, walking away, and having vented his anger, this son begins to examine his attitude, and he changes his mind, and goes to work in the vineyard.

The other son, like your friends, sits up and gives a snappy, “I will sir!” when the father asks him to go and work in the vineyard. From the way Jesus tells it, you picture this son answering even before thinking about it. Talk about obedience! But as Jesus goes on with the story, the second son didn’t go to work in the vineyard.

Jesus tells this parable to tell religiously devout people why prostitutes will enter the Kingdom ahead of them, because, while some people behave correctly, it’s often those who act wrong that have a way of actually following God. Jesus didn’t ask those religious people which son had the better attitude, Jesus didn’t ask which son had the most holy response, Jesus asked: “Which of the two sons did what his father wanted?”

You see, in your story, you did what your Father wanted, which was to change your heart and mind, and even pray for this person. Okay, so it was a little ugly getting there, just like it was for that first son, but I don’t hear Jesus saying a single word of condemnation for that son

I also think maybe there’s an implication in that parable, that by being honest and venting his real feelings, it may have helped this first son to see what was wrong within himself, and get back on the right track. 

Many cultures value politeness over honesty. And that’s cool and all, but don’t ever make the assumption that God fits neatly into your culture. It’s all fine and good if you have a boss or parent or authority figure, and you give a quick “yes boss!” to everything they say, and act busy when they’re around, and wear the right clothes, and so on. But we should NEVER treat God that way.

Honesty is a Godly virtue, one that respects the truth. By contrast, you disrespect God by going to God and pretending to feel something you don’t (especially since HE ALREADY KNOWS). You honor God by putting all this funky and sometimes ugly emotion on the table, and saying, “Father, I know I’m probably wrong somewhere in this, but I have to lay it all out in front of you, so you to show me where, and what’s really going on.”

I pray that prayer every day, and despite my often funky attitude, and my unholy-sounding conversations with God, you’ll notice that, like you, I’ve got plenty of vineyard dirt under my fingernails.

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