Denying the Cool Factor

I was intelligent enough to prepare for at least one of my two talks this past week at Christian Alliance International School’s (CAIS) Spiritual Emphasis Week Camp. My first talk was about the life of Paul, one of the greatest early Christians and missionaries the world has ever known. I prayed and prepared to not only inform kids, but also to encourage them to be more Christ-like. I think it went well, and lots of kids told me so afterward. (You can see my presentation on Paul if you want.)

However, my second talk was not anything like the first.

I was to speak on engaging culture. There was no description, and I was definitely at a loss on where to start this huge topic. Seriously, it’s extremely broad. So what does a guy do when you feel overwhelmed? You’d think I would prepare way in advance and pray even more earnestly. But nope. I did what too many of us too frequently do. I procrastinated until the very last minute, and I only worked on the talk so I could save my butt from utter disgrace.

And the worst part? I tried to rely on my own knowledge and coolness.

As I look back it’s only too obvious how silly I was. I know that I should have prepared more. However, it’s funny that I thought I might be cool! Ha!

After my talk I joined the kids in a time of ministry and worship, and God worked in my heart. First, He helped me calm down after the debacle in front of 75 kids and about 10 adults. Then, he showed me my mistakes. And finally, He reminded me how much He loves me.

The next time I feel overwhelmed and stressed, it’s best not to rely on myself. Rather, I need to point to Jesus and rely on His strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). The greatest things in life are not about me nor my perceived coolness. Rather it’s about Jesus and the glorious victory of Him overcoming sin and death and bring us into God’s presence.

Amen and Amen.

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Paul, an Apostle of Jesus

Later this week I’m speaking at the Christian Alliance International School (CAIS) of Hong Kong for their Spiritual Emphasis Week. I’m pretty excited since it’ll be the first time I get to speak and preach about Jesus at another international school outside of ICS.

(Seemingly random transition…)

Since I became a Christian, I’ve learned quite a bit about Paul and his life. One of my favorite letters from him was, and still is, Romans. Jesus is my favorite all-time person and character from the Bible (hands down!), but Paul really knows how to speak to the heart of person that is attempting to be Christ-like. I really enjoy the way he doesn’t hold back and just gets in your face about following Jesus.

Anyway, the topic I’m speaking about this Thursday is the life of Paul.

(Aha! Not a random transition anymore!)

In preparation for my talk, I had the joy of studying his life in more detail for about two hours today. It was great, and I definitely know a lot more about the finer details of his life. The best part though was that I know how I want to present his life to the students at CAIS. Paul seems like such a hero of the faith that he can be unapproachable. On the contrary, I found that he is quite relatable. I’m going to present these facts to the kids.
Here’s a snippet if your curious…
He’s seemingly unapproachable:
  • Arguably the greatest missionary in the history of Christianity
  • One of the top-most students and scholars of Judaism; an elite Pharisee
  • Literally saw God
  • Experienced and performed numerous miracles
  • Suffered for the faith more than most (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
  • Wrote between 7 and 14 books of the New Testament (depending on whom you speak with)

Paul is relatable:

  • He was a sinner. He even claimed to be the chief of all sinners! (see 1 Timothy 1:12-17)
  • He was both a white-collar & blue-collar worker (Pharisee and tentmaker)
  • Not very handsome (perhaps because of all the beatings!)
  • He had arguments and disagreements with those he loved – Barnabas and John Mark
  • Though he toiled in his work, he needed time to rest and recuperate and had longs stays in some places during his missionary journeys (such as Corinth and Ephesus)
  • He was a third culture kid (born in Tarsus, citizen of Rome, raised in Jerusalem, traveled the Mediterranean and Asia Minor)

I’m excited to elaborate on all this for the kids. I’m sure Paul never wanted fame or acknowledgement. He achieved success because he was sold out for Jesus – It’s only when we put ourselves aside that Christ can use us and raise us up. My goal is for the students to want to strive to be like Christ just as Paul did. But above all, I want them to know that God loves us, no matter what successes or failures we accrue on our paths.