12 Lessons from My 20s

Learn from the past; focus on growth for the future.

So I’ve turned 30.  For some reason after you leave your 20s, you can no longer hide behind being “twenty-something.”  People might take you more seriously, but they also expect more.  As I reflect on what I’ve accomplished (or not), worked through and experienced over the past 10 years, I figured I’d let you in on a few lessons I’ve learned.

12-lessons-from-my-20s

My prayer is that these lessons help inspire all of us to grow on the journey God is calling you to pursue.  If you’re in your 20s, maybe the lessons are helpful.  If you’re older and wiser, maybe it’ll help you reflect on your last 10 years as well.

  1. God prepares, I’m along for the ride. I earned a Business degree from MUN (2008) before moving into theology. I thought I was running from God’s call to ministry, but it turns out God was preparing me.  It was one of the best educational decisions I could have made.
  2. Marriage is the best commitment I’ve ever made. July 11, 2009 will always be the beginning of my biggest and most exciting adventure!
  3. Going to Bible College as a married couple took off all the pressure. While everyone was trying to find the love of their life, we were on the crazy journey of working, learning and exploring Toronto.  I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything!
  4. School is expensive and loans aren’t free. I’m still paying for every good and bad decision I made as a student.  Have fun, but think twice before spending money.
  5. Commuting is draining. After commuting in Toronto for over a year, I will avoid commuting in the future at all costs! Sometimes we convince ourselves that we have to make a certain amount of money, but the cost of distance is very draining on a marriage.
  6. Don’t shy away from big opportunities. At 25 years old, I took on the role of Lead Pastor of a small church (Bethel Bay Roberts).  I didn’t think I was ready, and I probably wasn’t.  But God doesn’t always call the equipped, he can also equip those who are called (Hebrews 13:21).
  7. Taking healthy risks is never a bad thing. Risk can sometimes lead to failure, but risks always lead to learning something new.  One thing I can say for sure – innovative success always beginnings with a healthy risk.
  8. You’re never ready for kids. I will never have enough energy, time or money.  No matter what, we had to adjust what we had in order to “train up a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
  9. Raising kids is exhausting, but extremely exciting. I wonder where my toddler’s energy comes from, because I don’t have it. We might celebrate an “early bedtime” kind of night, but waking up to a child who calls me “daddy” is the beginning of a good day.
  10. My wife has to come before my kids. I love my kids and they are my pride and joy, but my wife and I are a life-long team.  She’s my “partner in crime” and I can’t afford for my kids, or anything else, to derail that.
  11. Dedication and commitment always pay off in the long term. I’ve blogged on and off for the past five years.  Once I committed myself to posting at least one new post a week, engagement increased over 200 percent.
  12. Every aspect of my life is connected. My health, work, and home life all affect each other. It’s all too common to focus on one thing as we try to improve.  I’m not exactly great at keeping the balance, but I’m learning I can’t work on one and not the other.

#Learn from the past; focus on #growth for the future. #discipleship #tenyears Click To TweetAnd now it’s time for decade #3!  Thanks for reading and make sure to reflect yourself!  Learn from the past; focus on growth for the future.

Your turn…

What have you learned in the past 10 years?  How can you leverage those lessons to increase personal growth for the years to come?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Should Christians Participate in Halloween?

Finding the Balance between Distraction and Opportunity

Most Christians have already made up their mind on this issue.  Halloween is either a good thing or a bad thing.

halloween-participate

I’m not sure if the answer is as simple that either good or bad.  In order to live in the world and be witnesses of Christ, we should be identifying the balance between distraction and opportunity.

Halloween as a Distraction

Halloween isn’t the devil’s birthday (as some have suggested), but its history isn’t very holy either.

The Druids celebrated year-end on October 31st. They believed the dead returned as ghosts, were able to predict the future, and otherwise connect with the dead. It was definitely a dark and evil night. It would be difficult to argue otherwise.

It wasn’t long before the Catholic Church moved their celebration of martyrs (All Saints Day) to November 1st and remembering the dead (All Souls Day) to November 2nd.  It’s amazing that many don’t know much about either of these celebrations.

As history unfolded, and cultures collided, All-Hallows-Eve (October 31st) turned into Halloween. With that, came traditions like the poor asking for food and money in return for praying for their dead relatives (eventually known as “trick-or-treating”), and dressing up like ghosts so the “real” ghosts would leave them alone.  There are many other traditions, but the point is, they have transformed over the centuries.1

While we can make connections to today’s traditions, there is such a disconnect between what Halloween is today and what it was in the past.

With that said, that doesn’t mean we can’t be distracted by it all. As each year progresses, the amount of time and money spent on Halloween is unreal.  In the U.S. alone it was estimated people spent $6.9 billion on Halloween in 2015.2

People decorate weeks in advance, and sometimes just as much as Christmas. Is there anything wrong with that? If it’s a distraction, then yes!  If it leads to an opportunity, then maybe no.  As Paul wrote, “I have the right to do anything…but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The biggest distraction with Halloween is attempting to make “fear” a good thing.The biggest distraction with #Halloween is attempting to make FEAR a good thing. Click To Tweet

The reason why so many of these traditions begun in the first place, was because of fear.  If we promote or otherwise encourage “fear” we diminish Paul’s words: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

As Christians, we need to make sure we don’t jump on the “fear” bandwagon.  We need to let everyone around us know that our God is all about hope and love, not uncertainly and fear.

If we find ourselves putting fear in people, we may be distracting ourselves and others from the gospel.  After all, we are His witnesses.

Halloween as an Opportunity

If Jesus was a homeowner today, how would he respond? If Jesus was advising our families, what would he say? It’s difficult to ignore Jesus’ response to children. I can’t think of a time when Jesus told children to go away.  I can only remember him saying, “let the children come to me…” (Luke 18:16)

I picture Jesus kneeling & looking at the vampire saying, 'You might look scary, but God loves you!' Click To TweetI can picture Jesus answering the door with a smile, as a bunch of kids scream “trick or treat!?” I picture Him kneeling down to get on their level, and complimenting the little princess’ hair, giving a fist-pound to superman, and looking at the vampire and saying, “You might look scary, but God loves you too!”

So, we have to ask ourselves, do we allow for godly opportunities even when culture might be pushing the tradition in another direction?  How will we respond when neighbourhood kids knock on our door?

At Bethel we do a “Halloween Ministry” every year. It looks like “Halloween” just enough so families recognize they’re invited, but different enough so that they recognize God’s love.

We light up the street corner by our building, play Christian music, give away Hot Chocolate, and of course a bag of treats with an encouraging verse inside and promo for our ministries.  And probably my favourite part: our 50+ ministry dress up in fun costumes to serve those who drop by!

Since starting this ministry, we have met so many people, and had numerous conversations that we would not have had otherwise.

So What Do We Do?

  • Reclaim October 31st for Jesus!

We don’t want to “Christianize” Halloween, but redefine Halloween.  Every day is God’s and darkness is no match for the light of the gospel.  Participate in a new way and reclaim a dark night.

  • Don’t ignore the possible distractions or opportunities.

Reclaim Oct 31; don't ignore distractions/opportunities; build hope, not fear; be a witness for Christ! Click To TweetIt’s easy to run in one direction or the other: it’s all bad, or there’s nothing to it.  There are clear distractions and clear opportunities.  Don’t ignore them.

  • Build hope, not fear.

There is nothing Christian about fear.  Instead of removing ourselves from the night, spread hope.  Instead of jumping in and “innocently” scaring children, surprise them with love.

  • Remember to be a witness for Him!

We are Jesus’ witnesses and we must point to Him.  When children knock on our door we have the opportunity to welcome them and show them God’s love through our witness.  We also must remember not to be distracted by the potential unprofitable activity that doesn’t bear witness to Christ.

Click here for more ways we can show God’s love on Halloween.

Your turn…

How do you feel about Halloween?  Is it a distraction or opportunity?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

The Christian Flag & The Persecuted Church

In 2015, our provincial government made the decision not to raise the Christian flag during Holy Week.  In 2016, the new government raised the flag, only to lower the flag shortly after.1  The local municipalities did the same due to religious controversy.2  Reactions seem mixed.  My challenge: let’s support the persecuted Church by focusing on Easter and the true message of Christianity.

Christian Flag

The Christian Flag

A flag by definition, is a piece of cloth used as a symbol of a nation, or organization.3 Symbols are powerful and they can recall ideals of many sorts – good and bad.  As a result, a flag can resemble unity and disunity at the same time.  I think the Christian flag may be doing this in 2016.

It wasn’t until 1897 that a “Christian flag” was established, and that seemed to be initiated through a patriotic desire.  The simple symbols represented Christianity in their own right: white for purity, blue for fidelity, and a red cross for Christ’s blood.  In 1907, a Methodist pastor wrote the first pledge to the Christian flag:

“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one brotherhood uniting all mankind in service and love.”4

While the meaning and message seemed well-intended, I’m really not ready to associate my faith with a flag and all its potential meaning.  I would rather support the persecuted Church through prayer, a renewed focus on Easter, and the true message of Christianity.

Christian History

Flags engage patriotism.  Patriotism isn’t necessarily a bad thing; however, history has shown us that if God’s agenda is derailed by human agenda and patriotism becomes the driving force, the result is painful.  The Crusades are a great example of this.5 Modern examples include slavery and bigotry. My point, however, isn’t to point out the issues among Christian history, rather to show the powerful and sensitive ideas a flag can display.

I’m proud to say I’ve found eternal freedom through Jesus.  I’m proud to say I’m a follower of Jesus.  But I’m not quick to pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag, nor am I concerned whether or not it’s raised in political spheres.

The Christian Message

I’m more concerned about spreading the true message of Christianity: love, grace and peace (or I tend to say: selflessness).

Love: God doesn’t love everything we do, but God loves everyone.  He even loved us before we responded to that love.  The Church is called to show that kind of love to others.6

Grace: God sending Jesus for our salvation is the whole point of Easter.  The Church must protect and proclaim this message at all costs.7

Selflessness: Jesus himself acted with selflessness when He provided grace to humanity.8 We may have the right to raise a flag, but for the sake of the kingdom, is it beneficial?  Paul wrote:

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.9

Christianity and Culture

In 2015, Primer Davis met with various church leaders to come to a conclusion of whether or not to raise the “Christian flag” during Holy Week.

I don’t have the minutes to that meeting, but the resulting decision was not to raise the flag.

In 2016, thoughts on this matter changed – the newly elected Primer Ball, his Liberal government and surrounding municipalities raised the Christian flag.  It’s the result of our pluralistic culture.  There are now numerous beliefs, values, and ideologies that are often respected and celebrated.  Governments try to balance support so that equality is valued, but this process is obviously full of tension as the concern of one impacts the other.

Nevertheless, the question for Christians in this pluralistic society is this: how is the Christian message proclaimed better – by fretting over the flying of a symbolic flag, or by showing love, grace and selflessness to those who have concerns over its meaning?

How then, will we show our support of the persecuted Church? I believe that holding true to the Christian message respects those dying on account of that message.

Holding true to the Christian message respects those dying on account of that message. #PersecutedChurch Click To Tweet

References   [ + ]

7 Reasons Why Sharing Our Faith Can Be Difficult

Sharing our personal faith with someone seems to be one of the hardest things to do.  It was common for first century people to share stories with one another – they lived in an oral culture.  So, when something impacted them, talking to people was fairly natural.  Today, in the twenty-first century, there are so many factors that slow us down to share the truth that God has gifted us with.  The good news is, many of these factors start with us.  If we can overcome the things that slow us down, sharing our faith will become a lot easier.

I’ll be the first to admit, sharing my faith is difficult.  That said, God has appointed believers to be his witnesses.  Luke shows us how Jesus prepared his disciples, not just for their own journey, but also to spread the message to others.  Over the span of Luke’s writings, Jesus called his disciples, taught and mentored them, sent out the 12 disciples, sent out the 72, provided for them spiritually and physically, laid down his own life to full-fill the mission, resurrected, told his followers to wait until more helped arrived, and when the Holy Spirit came, the followers of Jesus were given power to be witnesses in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[i]  The message of hope, love, joy, and peace was not only brought to some, but eventually to the “end of the earth,” and it was accomplished by God sending those who believed at witnesses of how God impacted them.

So why don’t we share our story with everyone we meet?  There are really no excuses, but I think there are several reasons.  Here are 7 reasons that I came up with:

1. It’s our personal life…

The impact of God isn’t superficial.  When we experience the freedom of accepting Christ as the Lord of our lives, he starts to encompass our entire being.  With that, comes personal transformation.  Because it’s often very personal, we tend to hide what God has done and keep it to ourselves and close family and friends.  While some things are personal in nature, we need to remember that others deal with personal issues as well.  God may need you to share your story of freedom with someone who is struggling.

2. We feel unworthy…

Good, we should.  We have received an unworthy and unwarranted gift of grace from God.  That should make us feel very humble and unworthy.  The amazing part of God’s sending plan, however, is that he asks us, the unworthy ones, to be his Church.  He wants those who have been impacted by his love to spread the message to others.  We need to stay humble and allow the Spirit to move through us.

3. We have too many questions ourselves…

Because our relationship with God requires faith, there will always be some unanswered questions.  God is beyond are understanding in many situations and there are many times when we have to trust in God to ease our mind. That said, let’s remember two things: (1) don’t stop thinking; and, (2) don’t let unanswered questions stop us.  God gave everyone a mind, so let’s use it.  As we think about God’s glory, we may indeed come to a better understanding which we can then share with others.  As we live, however, let’s not let unanswered questions stop us from sharing God’s plan with others!  The next life-changing theologian could be awaiting our witness.

4. We’re comfortable…

We’ve all experienced being new.  Whether it be new to the Christian faith, or new to an assembly.  At some point, however, the newness wears off and we become comfortable.  This doesn’t only stop us from sharing our faith, but also disregards the need to share our faith.  We need to remember that God made us new and desires for us to spread that message of hope.  If we remain comfortable, then the message will die with us.

5. We’re unsure of the outcome…

I think it’s safe to say, most of us have many friends, co-workers, and family who don’t have a relationship with Christ.  Most of us would also say, they’d love for them to start having a relationship with Christ.  What stops us from sharing our faith?  I think it’s partly because we’re afraid of the possible outcome.  It’s normal to think through how someone will react to our testimony; however, we need to make sure we rely on the Spirit to bring life to what we share.  Read Luke 12 to see how the Spirit helps us with the right words to say and provides the right resources that we need.

6. Religious freedoms…

In our culture today, people are free to worship, live and respond to any religion of their choosing.  Some Christians interpret this to mean other religions are more important than theirs.  This is not entirely true. Religious freedoms allow for everyone to choose their own religion.  There is nothing stopping a Christian from sharing their faith, as long as they don’t force an individual to participate.  In fact, religious freedoms actually allow for Christians to share their faith to anyone who will listen.  Let’s make Christianity a desired option to choose.

7. We forget to ask God for help…

Sharing our personal story is difficult, but we’re not alone.  God has partnered with us be his witnesses.  Let’s go back to Luke’s gospel.  In chapter 12, Jesus taught his followers that the Spirit will give you the right words to say when you defend your faith.  Jesus followed this up just before he returned to heaven.  He said to wait in Jerusalem until the power of the Spirit comes to help you to be “witnesses of these things.”[ii] In Acts, the Spirit empowered the believers and they continued to spread the message.  Today, the same power can help us.  The Father and Son are willing and able to equip us with the Spirit to give us boldness to speak and to live-out Christian lives as witnesses of the truth. Let’s not be afraid to ask for God’s help!

I’m sure at least one of these reasons have crossed your mind at some point.  While many of them have lasting impressions and are difficult to overcome, the ball is in our court.  With God’s help, we can overcome whatever is slowing us down from sharing our faith.

God has called us.  God has provided a way to help us.  Will we choose to be a witness?

Join the conversation…

Why do you think Christians find it difficult to share their faith?  How have you shared your faith?


[i] Luke 5, 6-8+, 9, 10, 12, 22-24, Acts 1:8, ESV.

[ii] Luke 24:48.