Is It Wrong to Help People in Order to Spread the Gospel?

use meI’ve heard non-Christians levy this accusation at helpful believers several times:

You’re only helping that person so you can tell them about Jesus!”

Is this a genuine concern? If even part of our motivation in serving others is to preach the gospel, does that make it wrong?

As always, let’s look at the scriptures:

But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

In this passage, Jesus is moved with compassion for two reasons. First, He noticed their physical condition. They were weary and scattered. The NLT uses the words “confused and helpless” to describe their condition. Jesus certainly was aware of their problems, and wanted to free them of their distress.

Secondly, Jesus was concerned because of their spiritual condition. They were like sheep having no shepherd. They weren’t a part of God’s flock (John 10). They were separated from God (Eph. 2). And not only that, but Jesus identified that the reason they were weary and scattered was because of their spiritual condition. In other words, their utter separation from God resulted in their physical plight.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, they died spiritually, which led to death in every area of life. Separation from God resulted in all sorts of bad stuff, including sin, sickness, poverty, and strife. And we can work hard to battle sin, sickness, and poverty, but at the end of the day, all that is doing is attacking the symptoms rather than the source. Spiritual death is the problem; everything else is just a side effect.

That’s why Jesus said to John’s disciples,

The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5)

Jesus offers help to people in need, but ultimately, He offers the gospel to them, because the gospel is what will actually fix their problems.

Is it wrong to help people in order to spread the gospel? Certainly not! If you’re not preaching the gospel, you’re not really helping. You’re just covering up a wound that’ll get worse and worse.

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Teaching My Son the Definition of Bravery

Inigo MontoyaAs some of you know, I have a six month old son. His name is Jack. And he’s awesome.

He’s just on the verge of talking. In fact, his mother is convinced he’s started saying “mama,” but since there’s no video confirmation, his first words are still up for grabs.

But soon he’ll be talking and learning new words.

That’s where you come in. There are several words you’ve been using incorrectly this week, and it’s going to confuse my son. So my request is that, regardless of your political or religious affiliations, that you would make an attempt to use these words the way the dictionary says they should be used.

The words in question are “brave” and “dignity.”

This week, a woman committed suicide. Many people are calling it a “brave” and “dignified” way to die. Now I’m not looking to discuss whether doctor-assisted suicide is a good or bad thing. I’m mainly concerned with the language we’re using to describe it.

“Bravery,” as I understand it, is putting yourself in danger or harm for the sake of others. Most dictionaries agree, saying that it is the ability to face danger, fear, and pain.

The soldiers defending our country are brave. They put themselves in harm’s way every single day to assure that you and I are safe. Many of them will die protecting us. They face danger, fear, and pain so you don’t have to. They are brave.

Christians who are being beheaded as we speak are brave. Terrorists are threatening to murder them in grisly ways unless they renounce their faith and embrace Allah. They have held to their convictions, and have been slaughtered as a result. They are brave.

Brittany Maynard didn’t want to fight. She didn’t face pain. She chose to bow out early, to die of a drug overdose in her bed rather than survive as long as possible for the sake of her husband, mother, and friends. That is not brave.

In any other context, we would call that cowardice. But at any rate, no one in their right mind would call that bravery.

But we didn’t stop there. Not only are we trying to confuse my son with nonsensical definitions of “bravery,” but we are also calling the way she died a “death with dignity.”

The implication is that those who have chosen to fight their illness rather than give up early have not died with dignity.

My grandmother died seventeen years ago fighting cancer. She lost all her hair, lost significant amounts of weight, and was bedridden in her last days, before dying a few days after Christmas. To say Brittany Maynard died with dignity is to say my grandmother died in an undignified fashion.

One was a fighter. The other was too afraid to fight.

One thought of her family. The other thought of herself.

One ended up losing the battle. The other gave up with a bottle of pills in her hand.

My purpose is not to criticize Brittany Maynard. Really, I just want my children to know what words actually mean.

We don’t need to call Brittany Maynard’s actions cowardly. That’s unnecessary, and will just make people mad. But please, for the sake of my son and his developing mind, let’s give up this ruse of calling her actions “brave” and “dignified.” Because her death was neither brave nor dignified.

How to Pray for Missionaries

???????????????????????????????It’s important to pray for those in ministry. Paul commanded the church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); Jesus asked His closest friends to pray with Him on the eve of His death (Matthew 26:36); and we are told to pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men, especially those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

But we often don’t know exactly what we are supposed to pray. After all, most missionaries live thousands of miles away, don’t have regular access to Facebook, and may even speak entirely different languages.

But our prayers are required nonetheless. The Apostle Paul even went so far as to say that there were things he could not have accomplished had the church not been praying.

So here are FOUR THINGS you can pray for missionaries, both local and around the world.

  1. Colossians 4:3-4: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
  1. Ephesians 6:19-20: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
  1. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2: “Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.”
  1. Colossians 1:9: “We continually ask God to fill you with knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”

To summarize, here are the bullet points you can (and should) pray for missionaries on a daily basis:

  1. That God would open a door for their message
  2. That words would be given so that they would make known the gospel
  3. That they would declare the gospel fearlessly
  4. That they would declare the gospel the way it should be preached
  5. That the message of the Lord would spread rapidly
  6. That people would honor and receive the message
  7. That missionaries would be protected from evil men
  8. That God would fill them with the knowledge of His will

Pray these things daily for a dozen missionaries around the globe. And watch the world change.

(Related Post: “Two Ways to Evangelize the World“)

MYTHBUSTERS #1: I can’t stop sinning

mythbusters sinningThe Claim: Christians are sinners, and will never be able to overcome their sinful nature. Every one of us sins hundreds of times a day, and there is absolutely no way to stop.

What the bible says:

Stand in awe, and sin not. (Psalm 4:4)

“Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! (Romans 6:1-2)

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6, NLT)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Ephesians 4:1)

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. (1 Corinthians 15:34)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

“Therefore, if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

The Verdict: BUSTED!

The born again believer has been given all authority over the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), and has been made free from not only the consequences of sin, but the power of sin itself (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Now this doesn’t mean that if you sin, you are going straight to hell. John tells us we don’t have to sin, but if* we do there is forgiveness:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may sin not. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

People tend to make mistakes. Proverbs doesn’t say “a righteous man never falls”; it says “a righteous man may* fall seven times, but rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). If you slip up, just confess your sin as John instructed and start living right (1 John 1:9).

But the fact remains: sin has no power over you. So, just as Jesus told the adulterous woman, “GO AND SIN NO MORE.”


Note: Notice how the bible uses phrases like “may sin” and “if you sin” as opposed to “will sin” and “when you sin.” According to God, sin is a choice, not a destiny.


My new book UNFAIR ADVANTAGE talks about overcoming sin and living life worthy of God’s calling. Check it out on Amazon.

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What’s Under Your Cushion? (or, White-Washed Couches)

under your cushionSeven months ago, I was up in Big Bear for our youth group’s annual Winter Camp. I woke up at around six and headed down to the main lodge, hoping to curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal and warm up next to the fireplace. With a bowl of Cap’n Crunch in one hand and a book of matches in the other, I headed over to the fireplace… and was greeted with a cushionless couch.

Apparently, some of the boys had taken them in the night to build forts, shields, and a giant “mega-bed.” They also spent at least an hour playing the “lava” game. Epic, I know, but not what I was hoping to find at 6:12 am. You see, for those of you who own couches (most of my post-college audience, I assume), you know that I didn’t find just a cushionless couch. Concealed for what must’ve been decades beneath those tacky plaid cushions was a hodgepodge of delightful treats.

Where should I start? There was the candy: three and a half gummy worms, about two dozen nerds which had probably started off orange but had since faded to an unappetizingly chalky white, about three-eighths of a jawbreaker, and what I sure hope was the remnants of a Milky Way bar.

There was also what I assume started off as a single Oreo, a six-sided die, a monopoly house, an almost-empty travel-sized tube of toothpaste and some used dental floss, a “MASH” scorecard (spoiler alert: they all died alone), a used iTunes gift card, and a mysterious sticky substance that was purple in color and salty in taste.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I did manage to find one dime, three nickels, six pennies, and an unidentified silver coin bearing the image of an elderly woman among the other remains.

Jesus once compared the Pharisees and Sadducees to “white-washed sepulchers” (Matthew 23:27). They worked hard to look good on the outside, while on the inside they were dead. They were lost, confused, and filled with sin.

If that exchange took place today, I think He may have called them sofa couches. “You look all clean and vacuumed on the outside, but just look beneath the cushions,” He might’ve said. “For underneath your well-swept cushions are moldy old sandwiches, sticky M&Ms, and the remains of various beverages you have spilt over the years.”

Christians love, love, love to put on a show. We love to look like we have it all together. But ask yourself today, what’s under your cushion? Is everything on the inside nice and clean, presentable for the King of kings? Or do you have a mess on your hands? There’s nothing wrong with getting a little gunk stuck in there every now and then. Just don’t try to hide it. Jesus can’t clean up your couch if you won’t let Him see what’s under the cushions. Deal with it now. Let God clean up the mess so you can walk perfectly before Him today.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)


CHALLENGE: And hey, just for fun, email me pictures of your filthy couches. I need the encouragement to know I’m not the only one!


 

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An Open Letter to My Son On My First Father’s Day

Jack,father and son

This Sunday is Father’s Day. You’ve probably never heard of Father’s Day before, but it is a day to celebrate and honor dads. On the surface, that sounds pretty good for me. Your mom will no doubt buy me something awesome and then sign your name to it; a bunch of people at church will shake my hand, pat me on the back, and give me candy cigars; and we’ll eat lunch at a restaurant where salad isn’t considered a part of the meal. It’ll be pretty good to be me.

But really, I don’t feel all that deserving of celebration quite yet. I’ve only been your dad for 55 days. Maybe in five or ten years I’ll feel a bit more worthy, but so far, I haven’t done all that much. Being a father is one of the most important jobs a person can have, and I plan to take it very seriously.

But as you’ll someday learn, we live in a screwed up world, son. And I know there are many valiant fathers out there, but on a day meant to celebrate fatherhood, I can’t help but think of all the things we fathers have been getting wrong.

Right now, 43% of American children live without their fathers. That means there are over 15 million children growing up without dads, most of whom are living below the poverty line. Kids growing up without fathers are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 14 times more likely to abuse women, and 32 times more likely to be runaways or homeless.

Related to the absence of fathers is the dismal state of marriage in our country. They say fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Now I know this number isn’t accurate, but the fact that so many people believe it demonstrates the reality of this epidemic. So many fathers are unwilling to remain committed to their children’s mothers. I grew up with married parents (your grandma and grandpa), and I married a girl with married parents (pop-pop and gangy), so I didn’t realize how widespread divorce was until I started working in youth ministry, where hundreds of our students were growing up in broken homes, and many had never even met their dad.

Of the children fortunate enough to grow up with their fathers around, I know that many dads are disconnected and withdrawn from their kids. Many hide in their work, hide in their hobbies, hide in the garage, or hide with their friends. We laugh at the way fathers are presented on television, but those fictional dads bear some semblance to the reality of fatherhood in our country.

The importance of a father in the life of his son is paramount, and so rather than bask in my own unearned glory this Father’s Day, I’d like to make a commitment to you, Jack.

  1. I promise to love your mother each and every day for the rest of my life, even if I don’t always feel like it.
  2. I promise to eat dinner with you at our dinner table on week nights, rather than be working late at the office.
  3. I promise to teach you to throw a baseball and climb a tree and ride a bike, to tithe and pay bills and use your money wisely, to build a fire and set up a tent and survive in the wild.
  4. I promise to take you to church on Sundays instead of soccer games.
  5. I promise to make decisions you won’t like because they are for your good.
  6. I promise to teach you to drive a stick shift.
  7. I promise to teach you math and science and spelling and history.
  8. I promise to teach you the fear of the Lord.
  9. I promise to be your father more than your friend.
  10. I promise to go to your basketball games and school plays.
  11. I promise there will always be a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and three meals on your plate.
  12. I promise to spank all the foolishness and rebellion out of you that I can.
  13. I promise to pray with you daily, not just pray for you.
  14. I promise to read to you.
  15. I promise to play with you.
  16. I promise to travel with you.
  17. I promise to talk to you.
  18. I promise to listen to you.
  19. I promise to have fun with you.
  20. I promise to dream with you.
  21. I promise to punish you (if you deserve it).
  22. I promise to worship with you.
  23. I promise to show you how to treat a woman by treating your mother like the queen she is.
  24. I promise to raise you the way God said to do it, not the way the television or government or Oprah tells me to.
  25. I promise to protect you and provide for you.
  26. I promise to always be there for you.
  27. I promise to teach you to fight lions and bears and giants.
  28. I promise to teach you where you came from.
  29. I promise to teach you where you are going.
  30. I promise to teach you who you are in Christ.
  31. I promise to teach you to be a husband.
  32. I promise to teach you to be a father.
  33. I promise to teach you to be a man.
  34. I promise to teach you to trust and follow God.
  35. I promise to be better every day.

I love you, son, and even as the world falls apart, I promise I’m not going anywhere.

Love,

Da Da (aka, the hairy guy who is really excited to change your diaper when he gets home)

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6.4)

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Important Lessons My Son Has Taught Me about God

jack13:16 am. The family is finally asleep. But of course, that’s not gonna last long.

3:19 am. Jack’s cries fill our bedroom.

Maybe he’s hungry. We try feeding, but he doesn’t bite. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s in dire need of a diaper change. We check, but the diaper is clean. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s cold. We give him a blanket. Jack continues to cry.

Maybe he’s warm. We strip off the onesie. Jack continues to cry.

I know. He just needs some bro time. I take him downstairs, and walk through our darkened kitchen with him gently cradled in my arms.

Jack calms down.

For about seventeen seconds.

Then he continues to cry.

And as I continue to pace back and forth with our crying infant in my arms, I think to myself, “If only he knew how to articulate what he needed, then I could give it to him.”

And right as that thought came to mind, God said to me, “That’s why most prayers don’t get answered.”

Christians are really good at crying. Experts, in fact. “Why does this always happen to me?” “Why do things never work out in my life?” “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”

We are very good at vocalizing how terrible things are. We are also fairly decent at (erroneously) attributing all of our woes and troubles to God. But I’d venture to guess that 9 times out of 10, we never actually ask for a solution. We just whine about whatever is going on, then blame God when things don’t get better.

For example, if you feel a fever coming on, complaining about how you always get sick isn’t praying. Accepting the sickness because “God works in mysterious ways” also isn’t praying. Even silently hoping that you miraculously get better isn’t praying. To make it a prayer, you need to verbally ask God to heal you. Confessing a scripture or two that promises to give you what you need is an absolute plus (in the case of sickness, Isaiah 53:5, Exodus 15:26, Luke 9:11, 1 Peter 2:24, and James 5:15 are just a few). Then you need to sincerely believe that God will deliver. And to finish it off, promptly praise God for His goodness and mercy and love.

That’s the prayer of faith.

My son Jack couldn’t tell me what was wrong because he doesn’t speak the English language. He’s just a baby. And most Christians are unsuccessful in prayer because they don’t speak the language of faith. They are spiritual babies. Now Jack will naturally grow up as time progresses. But Christian growth isn’t automatic. It takes deliberate and intentional action. And unfortunately, most people are unwilling to put in the time.

The language of faith is simple:

  1. Ask God for what you need (Matthew 7:7, Romans 10:9)
  2. Continually confess a scripture that promises you what you need (Joshua 1:8)
  3. Believe that you receive (Mark 11:23, Romans 10:9)
  4. Thank God for always meeting your needs (Philippians 4:6, Acts 16:25)

So stop complaining, stand on the Word, and have faith in God.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

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One Thing You Didn’t Know about Angels

Anaheim_AngelsAngels are pretty cool.

They fly around worshipping God, they do the bidding of man, they carry swords and beat the tar out of demons.  But angels have one particular hobby that is… just a little bit weird.

On occasion, an angel will come to earth, dress up as a normal human, and… ask Christians for favors.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

I know.  It’s pretty weird, right?

It’s almost like a supernatural version of Guess Who?.  That homeless guy with the shopping cart outside of Arby’s?  Might be an angel.  The Vietnam vet with the cardboard sign?  Might be an angel.  Sure, it’s possible he’s just a boring ol’ human who’s going to use your spare change to buy a pack of cigs (which apparently is what all homeless people do if you ask the internet), but who knows?  Maybe it’s a guy who’s just down on his luck.  Or better yet, maybe he’s really a six-winged angel with a sword made of fire, who happens to be taking his annual two-week vacation in downtown Los Angeles (it is the City of Angels, after all).

The point is that it’s not our responsibility to only help those who we deem worthy of help.  God saw fit to help us when we weren’t anything close to worthy of it (Ephesians 2).  And then when Jesus commissioned us, He told us, “Freely you have received.  Freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

So let’s make a game out of it.  Let’s see who can entertain the most angels by the time we get to heaven.  And spoiler alert: if you only help your friends, your grand total will be zero.

I don’t know about you, but I intend to set the new high score.

And…… GO!

The Only Two Steps You Need to Overcome Sin

sin-struggleI work with teenagers, which means I get asked a lot of questions.

“How far is too far?”

“South Park isn’t all that bad, is it?”

“Am I old enough to date?”

And the big one:

“How do I stop sinning?”

I’ve been a Christian for almost ten years now.  And from all of my time spent in the bible, all of the thousands of sermons I’ve heard, and the countless books I’ve read, I have managed to condense all of the teaching on the subject of overcoming sin into two simple guidelines.

Want to overcome sin in your life once and for all?

Here’s how.

1.    Stop looking for steps to overcoming sin 

We often think that there is some secret we have not yet learned, some rule that has not yet been given, some work that has not yet been performed, that is the key to unlocking victorious living.  When we look for something new, we take our eyes off of what has already been done.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  That means the work has already been done.  Jesus isn’t going to come back and do something extra to help you.  It isn’t necessary.  Grace is more than sufficient for all of our needs.  Everything we could ever need was paid for on the cross.

Which leads us to step two.

2.    Stop sinning

It might sound too good to be true, but it really is that simple.  Just stop sinning.

Do you remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery?

“Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

As far as He was concerned, she was more than capable of ending her sinful lifestyle.  And she didn’t even have the Holy Spirit living within her.  How much more capable should you be?

The fact is, every time you or I sin it’s because we made a conscientious decision to do so.  Sure, the devil may have dangled the carrot in front of us, but you choose to reach for it.  And guess what?  God already told us how to overcome satan:

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

We also need to stop blaming our “sinful nature.”  After all, God said the sinful nature has already been dealt with:

“Know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

That means there isn’t a little guy inside of you forcing you against your will to do a bunch of things you don’t want to do.  We like to think that there is, so that we are able to sidestep any personal responsibility for our actions.  But that little guy inside you who supposed to be pulling all of the strings?  The bible says he was crucified.  That means dead.  Isn’t that a relief?  Your sinful nature has been killed off.

So… you can’t blame the devil… you can’t blame the sinful nature… I guess that just leaves you.

You already have everything you need to overcome sin in your life.  There isn’t some special formula you need to discover to rid yourself of sin once and for all.  There also isn’t something important you need to do.  All you need to do is accept that Christ’s work was sufficient, and choose to live it out.

When we claim that we need something new or something more to overcome sin in our life, our words betray our lack of faith.  Grace is a complete work; there is nothing more to do.  And when we say otherwise, what we are really saying is that we don’t really believe that Jesus was able to free us.  When we make excuses, what we are really saying is that Jesus wasn’t enough.

So there you have it.  The only two steps you will ever need to overcome sin in your life.

  1. Stop looking for steps to overcoming sin
  2. Stop sinning

You already have the power.  You have already been given the authority.  Right now, you have the ability to stop sinning once and for all.  That’s what God said.  Just believe that He meant what He said, and start living it.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

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A Biblical Lesson from Disney’s Frozen

Disney's FrozenToward the beginning of the Disney movie Frozen, an unconscious Anna is rushed to Grand Pabbie the Troll King after being accidentally struck in the head by her sister Elsa’s cryokinetic powers.  After his initial inspection, the Troll King says to the King and Queen,

You are lucky it wasn’t her heart.  The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.

As soon as he said that, I immediately thought to myself, “Someone’s gonna get zapped in the heart.”  Sure enough, fifty-seven minutes later someone got it right to the heart.

Now as much as I’d like to attribute this keen foresight to my uber-prophetic abilities concerning all things cinematic, that is not the case.  I simply utilized a dramatic principle called “Chekhov’s Gun.”

This principle basically states that every part of a story must be absolutely necessary and irreplaceable.  Everything that can be eliminated from a story should be.  As Anton Chekhov said, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story.  If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.  If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

I knew someone was getting zapped in the heart because if that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have wasted precious time writing that line into the story, recording the audio, and animating that scene into the movie.

Chekhov’s Gun is an important tool that is used by authors around the world to more effectively communicate their stories.  A storyteller wouldn’t include something (or someone) in his narrative if it weren’t absolutely necessary to the plot.

And God is the greatest Storyteller of ‘em all.  He is the Originator of Life, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Creator of the Universe and Existence itself, and the story He is telling is that of our salvation.  And in this divine narrative that He has been declaring for thousands upon thousands of years, He included you.  He wrote you in, with all of your passions and talents and qualities and quirks.  He considered your role irreplaceable, and determined that no other person on the entire planet could play your part better than you.

It’s no mistake that you’re here.  How on earth could it be?  Of all the different time periods in human history, God destined you to live now.  He created you to be who you are.  And He planned for you to do things that only you can do.

Now’s your time to shine.  A heavenly crowd is waiting on the edge of their seats.  The curtains are about to open.  So get with the Director, learn the part you were born to play, take the stage, and do what you were created to do.  Change the world.

[ Your turn: There are plenty of other examples of Chekhov’s Gun.  Name a few of your favorites… oh, and NO SPOILER ALERTS.” ]