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Returning and Re-Gifting

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Did you know that the most popular gift given during the holiday season is the gift card. Everyone loves gift cards. You know why, people like to shop for themselves. The rest of the gifts that people give aren’t accepted as much. According to survey’s taken, the majority of people don’t hold on to the gifts they get at Christmas. They will either return it to the store and get what they want or they will re-gift it. 

Re-gifting is when you take what someone else has gotten you and give it to someone else. It’s a great idea, as long as the gift you’re re-gifting isn’t personalized… “To my wonderful son Justin Larkin.” That can get a little weird and is considered unacceptable. But that’s what I’m gonna do to Dana King this year. I’m gonna give him something my mom gave me… you're welcome Dana.

Think about the things you've returned and re-gifted. But at the same time, what are somethings you would never dream of letting go? What makes those gifts so important?

Socks and Underwear

Every Christmas you go to the Christmas tree and see the presents beautifully wrapped. They all look amazing when their wrapped. Ever gift has the potential to be exactly what you asked for,  what you wanted for Christmas. But sure enough, it never fails, you're going to get one of the two (if not both) of the two most commonly received gifts at Christmas… Socks and Underwear. 
You never asked for socks and underwear. But you got them anyway. Socks and underwear, not the gift you wanted, but they are definitely needed. 
Great way to understand Christmas. Ultimately, Christmas isn't about the gift we want, but it is about the gift we need. Take some time to think about the gift the first Christmas gave us.

Children Are Selfish

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since 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
When my kids wake up in the morning that don't start off thinking, "What can I do for my mother and father today? How can I best serve them? How can I honor them?" As much as we wish they would do that, the truth is they sit there in their underwear waiting for mom to bring them breakfast. They're kids, and kids are selfish. They think only about themselves. There's nothing wrong with that. It takes time and maturity before they start to think about someone other than themselves. By a certain age, we expect them t…

Team Justin Vs. Team God

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Let's say that God and I are competing in a  cosmic flag football game. I’m the captain of "Team Justincredible." See what I did there? Combined Justin with incredible. God is the captain of "Team Died For Your Sins." I think his team name is a little braggy, but whatever.
When I choose my team I’m going for the very best of the best. My quarterback is Tom Brady. I can’t stand Tom Brady, but the Patriots are undefeated. I’m trying to beat God’s team at flag football so “Cheat to Win”…deflate gate part 2. Tom is going to be throwing to the greatest receiver of all time during his best seasons. Jerry Rice when he was with the 49er's 1987 and 1995. Those were his best season for touchdowns and yards. Not the Seahawks or Raiders Jerry Rice, '87 and '95 Jerry Rice. My running back would be Emmitt Smith in his prime. And finally I would pick Jameis Winston. I know that last pick is a strange one, “Why would he pick Jameis Winston?” I ask my self that same …

No Armor For Your Back

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We are in a cosmic battle. Don't know if you are aware of that or not. But the truth is that we are. And we need to be aware of that.

Here's why. Do me a favor and read Ephesians 6:10-17. The famous "Armor of God" passage. Notice in this verses that there is no armor for your back. It's all in the front. We have to be on guard and facing our opponent in order to be protected. Turning your back and running only leaves you exposed. In other words, pretending you're not in a fight will only result in you getting knocked out.

We are in a cosmic battle. Yes, Jesus did deal the final blow. We did already win. But everyday that has to play out in our lives. We have to live as if we are victorious. Sharing that victory with others.

Find someone to share your faith will, let them know how much God loves them and take a stand against the devils schemes.

Engaging God

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This morning I was reading an article about Christians that struggle with their faith. I think that many of us at one point in our life fit into that category. It's understandable. It's difficult to keep your relationship with God fresh and alive because life is busy. We get caught up in that business. Over time a relationship that was once the most important one in a persons life becomes routine. We go through the motions. God goes from being our everything to just our something.

So how do we keep the this from happening? How do we keep our fire? I saw a quotes that captured my thoughts perfectly… "The more I engage scripture, the more I engage God." When I read this it clicked for me. Never give up the opportunity to engage the Savior of the World. Don't skip or skim.

Open up your bible and read. Get your "youversion" app out and read. If you hate reading, get an audible bible, push play and listen. Never forget that God's word is your connection …

Justin and His Torn Labrum

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Four months ago I hurt my shoulder working out. I was practicing jujitsu one day, the next day I woke up and could hardly move my left arm. Every time I did move it my shoulder would pop out of place. Like any man, I did not go to the hospital. I sucked it up and dealt with the pain. I did stop working out. I did stop using it. In my eyes I was protecting my arm and my injury (at the time I didn't know what was actually wrong with my shoulder because like I said, no doctor).

Three months later I woke up, pushing through the pain I got in the shower and started washing my hair and that's when it happened. My should popped hard and was frozen in place. There I was naked in the shower with my left arm stuck in the air, hand resting on my head, soap dripping into my eyes. Kind of a compromising position to find yourself in. For the next 10 minutes I maneuvered and shifted
my arm back and forth until it loosened up and I could get it back down.

After that I went to the doctors and…

The Two Bearded Preachers and Their Dad Fail

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I started a new project with my good friend Martin Bender. Every week as The Two Bearded Preacher (We're both preachers and we both have beards. The title is probably self explanatory), we host a podcast called The Partially Informed Podcast (Again, self explanatory).

Martin and I talk about everything from politics to caffeine induced paranoia to adult doll fears (Yes I have a fear of dolls, you can listen here.) Just recently we found out through a series of test that Martin is more of a "Hipster Pastor" than I am. He's pretty upset about that. We've even started a movement to end "Facial Profiling." (It's a real thing. Just because we have beards doesn't mean we are homeless, terrorist, or confederate soldiers. #Endfacialprofiling)

One of our main bits is called "Dad Fail of the Week." Parenting is a tricky business. Martin and I are here to help all dads be the best they can be. Therefore we share our failures as dads in order to m…

Free Wifi

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When I’m at the church during the week, its pretty common to hear someone yell, “Is the internet out?” It goes out all the time. When that happens it's very inconvenient.

Step 1) Get up, walking into the front office. (About 15 steps from my office, so yes I'm lazy) Step 2) Unplug the router.  Step 3) Count… 1 1,000… 2 1,000, up to 10 1,000.  Step 4) Plug it back in.  Step 5) Wait for it to reboot and then try connecting again. 
It comes back on, and everything is working. Then all of the sudden, “Did the internet go out again?” Repeat Steps 1 through 5. 

Sometimes we treat our relationship with God very similar  When we base our relationship with God solely on feelings, we are treating God like he’s a cheap Wifi hotspot signal we mysteriously lose from time to time. Satan wants you to treat God like he is an unreliable Wifi Hotspot. Why? Because if you "feel" like you keep loosing your connection, eventually you’re going to get up and go to another spot to get better recep…

"If You Had the Cure, Would You Share It?"

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What if you found out that you have cancer? That would pretty be the worst news you could get. That’s when you start working towards your bucket list.
What if one of your friends came up to you and said, “Listen, I’ve been working on a cure for cancer and I found it.” Talk about great news! Then he hands it to you. You take the cure and your cancer is gone. What next? Wouldn’t you feel obligated to share that cure? Wouldn’t you feel compelled to help others? Of course you would! What kind of a person wouldn’t?
But why don’t we feel as obligated towards sharing Christ like we would share the cure for cancer? The cure for cancer just delays the inevitable. Jesus assures eternity. 
Forget about cancer. Do you tell people about a good movie or a new television show? Do you inform people when a great restaurant opens? Do you give your stamp of approval and encourage people, “You have to go to Sonic after 8pm… half off milk shakes!” Of course you do. We will do everything in our power to let t…

Skittle Theology

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This past Sunday I started a new series to talk about the Holy Spirit. I needed to illustrate the relationship of the Trinity.  But what illustration can I use? I could go with the whole water description (liquid, ice, steam): three forms one substance. I could do that. Or I could go with how some people describe the trinity as a three leaf clover: three leaves one clover. That’s kind of cute, and Irish. Maybe I should try the one say that the trinity is like three in one shampoo: three activities, one substance… no. 

The C.S. Lewis route is a fun and simple illustration. Lewis talks about dimensions. If you have one dimension then you can only draw a single line. If you have two dimensions, you can connect more than one line and create squares. Take it a step further and with three dimensions you can build a solid body like a cube. One cube is made up of multiple squares and lines. Meaning that when you get to more complicated levels you don’t leave behind the others. All in one… now …

Soaked in Urine

Apparently the month of March is the birthday month. My kids have been invited to more birthday parties in the last month than the rest of the year. That’s not even an exageration. I lost count but I believe this last Saturday was birthday party number five. So there I was at a three-year-olds birthday party with my family just chilling out under the shade while my kids splash around in a kiddie pool. One of my buddies walk up with his one-year-old daughter in one hand and his other arms full of everything else. So I thought to myself… “I should probably help him out.” Time to do something nice. So I walked up and said “I’ll hold your kid while you get settled.”
So there I was holding a one-year-old while my buddy eats and relaxes. It was my good deed for the day so to say. So what do I get for my thoughtfulness? The answer is… a leg soaked in urine. That’s right, she peed on me. That’s what I get for doing something nice. 
That brings up a good point, did I expect anything more? One of…