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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

Posts Tagged ‘the gospel’

4 Things The Gospel Teaches Us About Social Media

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community

Since 2013 I’ve seen a growth of just over 2000% on Twitter alone. On other social media channels I’ve experienced similar results as well. Having seen these results, I could probably easily jump in the murky waters of digital marketers, attempting to sell you on a 5 step process to achieve the same results.

But as much as this post is about social media, it’s really more about the gospel than social media.

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

(By the way, I have no clue what this photo has to do with social media. All I know is it’s awesome and my boys are currently obsessed with Lego Star Wars, so there you go.)

The other day my friend Stephen and I had this little exchange on Twitter:

This little idea got me thinking about Twitter and the people I follow. You see, I maintain a private list of just over 130 people that I follow. I don’t publish this list, but I allow these people to influence me in some way shape or form. While many of them I often do agree with, there is easily about 1/3 of them I don’t.

Tim Keller speaks to this when he says:

“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”

Several times over the course of this past year I’ve intentionally withdrawn from social media seeking a better perspective. Because it’s my first calling to experience the gospel for myself, before attempting to lead others in doing the same, I’ve used that distance to develop a healthier gospel perspective about social media.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Everyone says they are an expert. I’m sure you’ve heard others mention this, but I tend to see this more as everyone wants to be a somebody, wants to be perceived as important, special, significant in some way. It’s what drives the “look at me” frenzy, endless self promoting, platform building culture we have now settled into. The gospel cures this (Matt. 16:25, Matt 20:16). John Piper beautifully communicates a better perspective when he says:

“We weren’t meant to be somebody–we were meant to know Somebody”

2. It’s not about connection as much as people say. Simply put, if this were true, then we’d be the most connected people group of all people groups in the history of people groups. And while we certainly are more connected than ever, rather have more access than ever, paradoxically it’s true we are also a more disconnected culture.

Jon Acuff presents the healthiest perspective here. Social Media is really more about collecting ideas, sharing those ideas, and spreading those ideas. The very best interactions I have on Twitter or Facebook or any other platform have always left me encouraged, and inspired. Not to mention, I’d still rather have an exchange over a warm beverage than an exchange of 140 characters.

3. Social Media creates an unhealthy attachment to identity. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to over the past several years have admitted to struggling with this issue. Because in many ways, social media provides instant gratification, propping up and inflating a false sense of self, it’s easy to allow your identity to be informed by things like number of followers and retweets.

“Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’ We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious. ” ― Tim Keller

I’ve learned two things by gaining some distance:

    • I’m just fine without social media. The world keeps on spinning without any complications.
    • I’m confident what I won’t hear when I die are the words, “You didn’t have enough Twitter followers.”

4. The impact of Social Media can never be truly quantified. There are those out there with far more experience than I when speaking to this but as a father, my thoughts turn my family and my kids. Just the other day I had a conversation with Molly, my soon to be 9 yr old, about why she cannot have a Facebook account. I couldn’t believe she brought that up! Teaching them a new decorum for how to communicate and be responsible online is a challenge I never expected.

A line has been crossed for sure, we’ve reached a point of no return. Because of digital accountability, careers are now threatened. I have a feeling that for generations to come, we’ll be dealing with the ramifications of our actions online today.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” — John Piper

Experiencing the gospel creates a new filter by which you view the world. Suddenly things that used to matter, appropriately no longer have Kingdom value. And because of this re-prioritization, I’ve found that new freedom, new joy, new mercies, new grace, and new life can be discovered.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I love interacting and encouraging folks that I meet online. But the pseudo relationships built there will never, nor can they ever, replace your core need for true authentic community.

What does the gospel teach you about social media? What would you add to this list above?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted on: January 22, 2014

Why We Struggle With Beginnings And Endings

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Experience

Why do we struggle so much with beginnings and endings?

Why do we have such a hard time when things come to an end or when faced with a new adventure calling our names?

What is it about how we’ve been created that makes these things cast such large shadows that more often than not, we run and hide, seeking the comfortable safety and shelter of the familiar?

These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking over the last several weeks.

Like you, I’ve been bombarded with seasonal messages and topically themed blog posts about things like setting goals, making resolutions, and the true meaning of Christmas.

And can I continue to be honest with you? I’ve ignored most of them.

This year has been jammed packed with lots and lots of STUFF and these last few weeks has been an incredible time of unplugging a bit and finding some rest.

It’s not that I don’t care about the true meaning of Christmas or the importance of setting goals, etc. That’s not it at all. It’s just that I have come to understand that when I start to feel the pressure and pull of what everyone else is doing, I need to do the opposite.

Succumbing to that pressure is what fuels the false self and nothing will kill beauty, kill the heart, like the false self.

But back to the questions I raised earlier.

As 2014 begins, we’re all together in this same space of experiencing different degrees of highs and lows. And even as the Christmas season starts to fade and our senses become dull to the majesty of it, you’re faced with the inevitable new year that has arrived whether you like it or not.

Which leaves you with a choice to make; either you can attempt to escape, run and hide, or you can dive head first into the adventure that is waiting this new year.

Me? I want to say that I’m diving right in. That I’m not looking and jumping into the deep end head first, no looking back.

But that’s not completely honest.

To be completely honest, I’m a bit scared.

What if this year turns out to be another year of exactly the same? What if I continue to fail, mess-up and let those that count on me the most down, all over again?

That’s what is keeping me stopped in my tracks so far. Stalled out. Stuttering, puttering, and limping along.

Then I came across a couple verses the other day that have helped me understand at least a little bit of why this tension exists, why this struggle with beginnings and endings is experienced by so many.

I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.Rev. 1:8

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.Rev. 1:17-18

I’ve read those verses over and over the last few days and the thing that keeps coming back to me is the last question I asked above. What is it about how we’ve been created…

Let me nail it down.

We’ve been created not only BY God, but created in HIS exact image. Did you catch the nuance there? It’s a whole different issue altogether.

We’ve been created to reflect His glory and designed to experience abundance only when resting in that glory.

That’s precisely what John Piper means when he communicates the mission and purpose of Desiring God.

Understanding that we have been created in the image of the One who knows no time, knows no beginning, and no ending; a natural tension is established. After all, all that we experience in life, this side of heaven are those very things, beginnings and endings.

Loved ones die, jobs start and end, relationships and friendships dissolve, money gets earned and then spent, and nothing seems to truly last. In spite of all our very best efforts, absolutely everything we touch corrodes and falls to pieces, eventually.

So what if the secret, if there truly is a secret of any kind, is to accept that tension and cease our attempts at resolving it?

What if the intent is to invite The Father right smack dab into it?

A Better Approach

I’m convinced that what the gospel frees us to do is not simply live a life of trying harder or making more resolutions or creating more rules of discipline for ourselves, but rather unclenching our fists and letting go.

Instead of the strict legalistic attempts at behavior modification, make room for the unknown, create margin for the beauty around you and allow yourself to be surprised by what happens.

Should you set goals, and make resolutions this new year?

Absolutely, I think you should! You can never improve on anything when you don’t measure, and process where you come from and take stock of where you’re going.

I’m just choosing not to use the word resolutions anymore. Instead I’m making declarations. (I’ll be doing a series about this soon, so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss out.)

Join me in letting this new year be the very best year ever!

What goals and/or resolutions have you decided to make for 2014?

Share your comments in the comments below!

Posted on: January 2, 2014

Giving Thanks Starts With A Choice

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Community

One of the biggest reasons why I’m such a strong advocate for gospel-centered biblical community is because of the reminders they provide that we are not alone. Many times in the midst of the dark night of the soul, its relationship and community that give us hope, helping us find the perspective to be grateful even in the storm.

Giving Thanks Starts With A Choice

Photo Credit: Mlwells13 via Compfight cc

Tomorrow, most of us will sit down with our friends, neighbors, family members, and even possibly a stranger or two and we’ll gather around a table for a meal. For some it will be a joyous occasion filled with laughter and light-hearted celebration. For others, it’ll be much harder.

But no matter where you fall in that continuum, giving thanks will always start with a choice.

I use a gratitude list to help me make that choice, especially when I find that it’s not as easy as I’d like it to be.

Here’s a list of some things I’m grateful for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the stewardship I’ve been entrusted with to be a father to 3 amazing little joy factories.
  2. I’m grateful for grace. Without it, I would not be alive.
  3. I’m grateful for laughter but also grateful for stillness and solitude.
  4. I’m grateful for 10 years of marriage and the man I’m becoming because of it.
  5. I’m grateful for redemption and that all things are BEING made new.
  6. I’m grateful for the gospel that tells me I’m could never be loved any more nor any less.
  7. I’m grateful for things like my daughter Molly’s smile when she comes home proud of a good grade.
  8. I’m grateful for my son Riley’s kind, tender heart, which constantly shows me The Father’s heart.
  9. I’m grateful for Jonas’ curly hair and hilarious laugh. What joy he brings to our family!
  10. I’m grateful for being able to sit and read by a fire.
  11. I’m grateful to be home with my family. There have been years where I’ve been on the road far more than I’ve been home.
  12. I’m grateful for God’s generous and abundant provision.
  13. I’m grateful for friends and community that constantly remind me of the gospel.
  14. I’m grateful for this season of thanksgiving that naturally turns my heart towards the things that matter most, like friends and family.
  15. I’m grateful that things like fame, power, prestige, and notoriety aren’t the currency of The Kingdom of God.

It’s amazing to see what happens in our hearts when we allow them to give thanks. The power of gratitude is an awesome thing.

Want to know how to dig yourself out of a dark hole, where nothing seems to going right, and there is little hope in sight?

Write a gratitude list.

Want to change how others experience you in relationship?

Begin to write gratitude lists.

Want to impact the outlook you have on life and others?

Sit down and write a gratitude list. 

It’s easier than you think and will carry more weight than you realize.

Question for you: What things are you grateful for today? How will you give thanks this holiday?

Share in the comments below!

Posted on: November 27, 2013

Underestimating The Audacity Of The Opposition [Mistakes in Marriage: #4]

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Marriage

Note: Having recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, I began a series of stories, or rather mistakes I’ve made in those 10 years. I hope that through these deep, personal stories, you’ll come to see, as I have, the gloriously beautiful experience of the Gospel that is marriage. Make sure you’re signed up for email updates so you won’t miss any of them.

Underestimating The Audacity Of The Opposition

I’ve already covered a lot of mistakes in this series so far and to be honest with you, I’m feeling the gravity of it all. Looking at things from a whole, create a voice that tries to say things that aren’t true of me or my marriage. But that doesn’t even come close to what they are really trying to accomplish.

What they are really trying to do is contradict the very character of God and His desire for marriage to be the ultimate vehicle for you and I to experience Him. In other words, it would be easy to pick apart and dissect one action from another and make baseless claims on one another in our marriage, but that would never hold up against the narrative of the gospel.

For those who are just now visiting and haven’t been following the Mistakes in Marriage series since the beginning, let’s take a quick breath for a second and do a little recap.

  • Mistake #1 taught me that I was not nearly as ready for marriage as I thought I was. Being a bit naive, I quickly went from making one set of spoken vows to another set of unspoken ones that have done more damage than I ever could have imagined. Amazingly enough though, it’s become apparent to me that God lives and still speaks in the dark, hard places of marriage.
  • In Mistake #2, I talked about how dulled we can become to the mirror that is presented to us in the judgements and faults we find in our spouses. This creates a blindness that prohibits us from seeing the depth of our own defects and understanding that the only reason we see them in others at all is because they first exist in us. Again though, The Father is gracious, and reminds us that even still He is for marriage, and for us.
  • Mistake #3 brings things all too close to home for most of us. We all, at one time or another have dropped the dreaded “D” word in moments of despair and anger. Statistics tells us that every single married couple on the planet has had some sort of connection with divorce, whether through direct relation or extended family members. The most deceptive trick that the enemy performs on our marriages, tricks us into thinking that we are not in this thing together.

So now that we’re all caught up, let me introduce my next mistake that, potentially, could make some of you uncomfortable. This mistake has been made in every single marriage that has ended in divorce and continues to repeatedly rob from mine.

Underestimating the Audacity of the Opposition

The church doesn’t much like to talk about the reality of an enemy these days. It’s not very commercial, doesn’t put butts in seats, and isn’t particularly safe or attractive.

But if you look at both the micro and macro of life, the presence of opposition can be seen in everything and everywhere. Scripture makes it especially clear in 1 Peter 5:8.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

You have an enemy. I have an enemy. We all have an enemy. And that enemy, the devil, as Peter calls it, is constantly looking to take us out and destroy the beauty that marriage was intended to be. Through the first three parts of this series we’ve seen how marriage is clearly the metaphor Christ uses to help us understand the context of relationship with which He desires to have with us. And because we also know through the story of the bible, that Jesus was opposed by Satan, (Matthew 4:1-11) how much more does it make sense that that very same opposition would be dead set on causing havoc in our marriages.

There are countless stories that come to mind when I think back over the course of these last 10 years where, like clockwork, I could count on being sabotaged in one way or another. For example, all of the photos that you see serving as the backgrounds above came from our wedding. I’ve already told you little bit about how magical it was but let me let you in on this.

Mary and I have been extremely blessed to have grown up in the most amazing community of friends. Many of them are singers, actors, entertainers, or speakers of some kind and many of them came from all over for our special day. Some of them performed, some sang leading us in worship, and even one very special father figure walked Mary down the aisle.

It was just the picture perfect evening.

Mary on the balcony

One of Mary’s friends, a ridiculously talented photographer, offered to take some photos. We felt very lucky and very blessed. His were the ones we were most excited about. Well apparently, unbeknownst to him, his camera had some sort of malfunction and every single photo he took turned out slightly out of focus.

Needless to say we were devastated.

Now I certainly don’t want to give off an impression that would say I believe that everything that goes wrong or badly in marriage is strictly at the hands of opposition. As you have clearly read and will continue to read as this series continues, I have caused enough opposition myself. I bring into this relationship a unique combination of sin, brokenness and woundedness, that when mixed with Mary’s sin and brokenness, contains the potential for a lethal reaction.

Which is why I have no choice but to turn to the gospel.

Tim Keller, who I love dearly, as many of you already know, says this beautifully when he writes:

“Without a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Christ now, and hope in a perfect love relationship with him in the future, married Christians will put too much pressure on their marriage to fulfill them, and that will always create pathology in their lives.”

Our only hope, my only hope is for the affections of our hearts to be arrested by the gospel, such that when we encounter opposition of any form, we’re driven back to that very same gospel.

Do you readily acknowledge the presence of an enemy who opposes you and your marriage? How do you handle it?

Encourage us all with your comments below!

Posted on: October 18, 2013

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