Being with a loved one struggling through mental health is a difficult place to sit. Sometimes in our frustration well-intentioned words or phrases come out that do more harm than good. Following is a list of seven things to avoid saying and why they are hurtful.
Life is good, isn't it? We can have everything at the click of a button. Our every need is at arm’s reach. Comfort is easily attainable for most of us. And once we get it, we build bigger walls, install more security systems, hoard up our treasure for ourselves, and work harder to ensure we never lose the comforts we've come to mistake as rights.
Jesus is calling us as a church to step into our calling, and to step out of our comfort zone.
Tear down walls
We are to tear down walls, remove the barriers that keep people from Jesus, and start fulfilling our destiny. This is the only way we will live life to the fullest.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Your happiness and peace rest in fulfilling God’s call on your life. But here’s the next part of that truth. Your life isn’t about you. It’s bigger than you.
John 10:11 goes on to describe Jesus as the good shepherd, one who would lay down his life to protect you.
Ask yourself. Are you living a life worthy of that sacrifice? And then remember you aren’t the only sheep in that story. Jesus laid down his life for the person to your right and your left, and every other one as well.
Build a bigger table
Jesus didn’t save humanity by sitting on his couch, reading the Torah and binge-watching the Bible on Netflix. Get off your butt and engage with culture. Engage with the sick and the weary. Engage with the people whom Jesus died to save. And in case you are wondering, that’s everyone. No exceptions.
Start inviting people to sit at your dining room table. Welcome the religious, political, social, and sexual outcasts into your homes. Serve the people who make you uncomfortable.
Stop moving away from people who look, speak and act differently. Engage with the people you’ve spent your entire life moving away from.
Speak up and be the voice for those that don't have a voice. Like you, they were made in the image of God. Like you, they have a right to be heard. But before they can be heard, we have to stop demanding that our voice matters more.
It’s time to let go of selfishness and start living lives that imitate Jesus. If we are going to impact our culture for Christ, we must learn to sacrifice self.
Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone church? Are you willing to give up your own selfish desires to serve others?
Call it comfort or call it casual Christianity. But whatever you call it, it's killing us. Literally, destroying us.
The problem is we continually expect life to be easy, to be comfortable. This desire is misplaced. We've decided that comfort means structure and rules within the church -- that it means certain subjects weren't approachable, and that it means we can only worship beside and with those who look exactly like us.
That is not comfort. That is death.
You and I weren't called to comfort; we were called to be the hands and feet of Christ. That means doing work and getting dirty.
Comfort a #firstworldproblem
Gay Marriage. Abortion. Women in leadership. Politics. Racism. Poverty. Classism. Kaepernick. Immigration.
Is your skin crawling yet? Did your anxiety just rise? Good. We're getting outside of your comfort zone, and that's where you should be. If not we could go on. Our culture is full of hot topics. As a church, we were raised to stay silent.
If we don’t talk about it, won’t it just go away?
Can't we make up some rule that excludes those from our communities who think and look different than us? Isn't that what Jesus would want us to do? Is it church... is it really?
Instead, we'd rather focus on our #FirstWorldProblems. You know the ones: is there enough parking, is the lighting right, is the music too loud, if we keep growing will there be space for me, or is the pastor plain boring. It's time to move away from the rule "no politics or religion around the dinner table" and start addressing real needs. People are hurting, and we've sat on our hands for far too long.
It’s time for the American Church to start adulting.
And that starts with us.
A reality check
If our desire for comfort isn't directed to walking alongside those who are hurting and offering them comfort, then we are missing the point.
In John 16:33 (NIV) Jesus made it clear that "In this world, you will have trouble." Our world is at war, and the church is standing idly by sipping tea watching it all go down.
Let’s start by getting comfortable discussing the issues as they arise. Let’s talk about violence in America. Let’s address the sorrow and lament with the black community when racism and hate takes a life. And then let’s get to work to bring comfort to those who are suffering.
When we stay in our comfort zone, we turn a blind eye to the hurting. We become unfeeling and calloused, saying its not my problem. And church, we will die.
Good podcasts will stick with you. They get you thinking and open up the possibilities of how you engage with the world.
Much like our human desire to binge watch Netflix, a great podcast will capture us. Are you driving to work? Podcast. Saturday chores? Podcast. Working out? Podcast. Annoying the kids? Podcast. Breathing? Podcast. It’s the talk radio shows our parents listened to while driving us around - but relevant and interesting. Oh, and convenient.
If you feel like you need an extra little push out of your comfort zone, give one of these three a try:
Unfiltered Radio is a movement on a mission, in our city and our world. The show seeks to amplify the name of Jesus and to lead people to experience the love and grace he offers.
We’ve gotten Jesus wrong. He’s been misunderstood, misinterpreted and his message hijacked by followers and skeptics alike. The bias of church history, politics, religious movements and personal agendas lay claim to his life and mission.
This podcast will have you taking a new look at Jesus. We all have filters we approach Christ with. What does he look like when we strip those away?
Relevant Podcast is a production of Relevant Magazine. It explores the intersection of faith and pop culture. Every Friday introduces listeners to artists, authors, pastors and other influential creatives.
This podcast delivers poignant, sometimes random and always life-changing perspectives on culture and faith. Warning. Once you start listening you’ll want to catch up on all the ones you’ve missed.
You Have Permission
Dan Koch is the host of the new podcast called You Have Permission. He describes his faith journey as complicated. He seeks to engage anyone with questions about God, science, faith, politics, culture and more.
This podcast gives permission to take both Christianity and the modern world seriously. The show introduces listeners to a plethora of experiences and vantage points.
A resource for Christians on the right and left, skeptics and those who are non-religious. You Have Permission is for anyone who wants to explore the questions faith presents. It’s addictive. It’s relevant. You may just get hooked on the episode To Think Theologically About Aliens.
Try all three podcasts and come back to tell us what you thought. Tag @CenterpointFL on Twitter and let us know if there are any podcasts you’d add to this list.
Reject apathy by opening your eyes, stepping out of your comfort zone, and into your calling to serve others.
Meaning of apathy
According to Webster apathy means a lack of feeling or emotion, a lack of interest or concern. Basically, to be apathetic means you don't care.
Apathy is an easy state to fall into, but it is deadly to our faith. We convince ourselves that turning off the news and looking the other way solves our problems. But this is just not true. The ability to turn our eyes away from pain is a privilege, and it is a privilege, as Christians, we have to forgo.
Step out of your comfort zone
We naturally gravitate away from what is uncomfortable. It takes an effort to engage in new ways. But Jesus did not take the easy way out and neither should we.
Jesus spoke up for the weak, the marginalized, the outcast and for us. We must do the same.
I want to challenge you to go through your day and take a close look at your routine and conversations. Listen for the moments that make you uncomfortable. Search them out.
Start embracing the feels
Don't run from your emotions. If something or someone pulls on your heartstrings, listen to that pull. The world is full of problems, but we don't have to become overwhelmed. As we grow aware, we become wiser and learn how to better care for the world and the people who live here.
Focus on hope
You alone can not save the world. That is not your calling. Yet, we can each do small things throughout every day that heals our world rather than destroys.
Listen to those who are hurting. Really hear their story and ask what they need. Perhaps all they need is your ear. Maybe they need your help. Never assume. Be clear and ask.
Apathy kills faith, numbing us to the needs of others. It shuts us off from hearing that gentle nudging from God telling us when to act. By practicing your listening skills, you'll be more open to that nudge and more likely to be in the right place at the right time.
Make your circle bigger
Jesus did not come to earth to hole up in the synagogue and speak with those who already knew him. Instead, he went out into the world and met people where they were.
Don't make your circle exclusive. Be intentional about meeting people who look different, believe different and live differently. The goal isn't to shape them into a mini version of you. You might be surprised how much Jesus chooses to minister to you through them. You aren't the only one he is working through. You, my friend, as do I, still have a long way to go ourselves. God isn't done with us yet.
Together let’s work on rejecting apathy and embracing Jesus’ call to serve others.
Centerpoint is a non-denominational church in the Brandon Valrico area that is doing things differently.
Yeah right. I hear you. “Non-denominational churches are just Baptist churches in disguise.” If you’ve been part of the evangelical church for any amount of time, chances are you’ve heard this joke. Or how about the one “non-denominational churches are Baptist who like to drink.”
So where does that leave Centerpoint, a non-denominational church claiming to be an alternative to church as usual? Are we Baptist in disguise? Tattooed hipsters who like our music and comfortable millennial safe spaces? Or are we something more.
Centerpoint Church is tearing down every unnecessary barrier. Nothing should stand in the way of hearing about Jesus. We see denominations as one of those barriers. Over time denominations can put up hoops to jump through on how to become a part of the community. Rules develop that are less scripture based and hold more of a “how to get into the country club” vibe.
Everyone at Centerpoint is welcome. There is no age requirement. Tattooed hipsters are as welcome as grandma. Sexual orientation, belief in God, marital status, or musical talent are not pre-requisites.
You are safe with us, exactly as you are.
What does non-denominational mean
Non-denominational is an adjective. It means open or acceptable to people of any Christian denomination. Stick the word in front of church, and it becomes a place of worship, a community accessible to anyone.
When we strip away denomination, we are taking away years of built up historical bias. The church as a whole has molded Jesus to fit a set of rules. Jesus broke through cultural barriers and religious rules of his own time, and he is doing the same today.
Who we are
Centerpoint is a diverse gathering of real people who believe in Jesus. We want to see our city changed by his love. Come join us and see for yourself. You don't have to buy into everything we say, that's the beauty of our non-denominational church. Whether you are a Jesus follower, atheist, agnostic or skeptic, we've designed a place for you to ask hard questions of the Christian faith safely.
Join us this Sunday for one of our three services in Brandon or Live Stream from the comfort of your own home. Before you come, feel free to take a look at previous messages. See for yourself if we hold true to who we claim to be.
Velocity is our middle and high school youth group that meets in Valrico at Centerpoint Church every Wednesday night.
At Velocity we want your kids to know Jesus and make connections with friends that will last. Your teen is approaching adulthood quickly. We don’t want them to think church only happens while they live at home.
We’re on a mission to show your middle and high school students that they are a vital part of our community NOW.
What to expect
6th to 12th graders have the potential to change the world. So, we’ve set out to inspire them to do just that. We created an environment to inspire youth to live a gospel-centered life. Velocity challenges them to reach out to friends here in Valrico to tell them about Jesus. We want them to enjoy crazy games, loud music, and fun in a healthy affirming environment. This is a place where they can come as they are. It's a place where they can feel safe and comfortable to be different and ask hard questions.
We know Valrico and Brandon have a lot to offer your teens. Schedules fill fast with extracurriculars, after-school jobs, homework, and local events. We hope that Wednesday nights at 6:30 PM is a time your high school students won't want to miss!
Where to find us
Conveniently located on the corner of S. Miller Rd and Durant, just follow the orange cones for drop off and pick up. If it's your teens first night with us, park and come in. We want to meet you. Check your kid in the first night, so we know how to contact you in case of emergencies.
Centerpoint Church is an alternative to church as usual. Our middle and high school youth group in Valrico holds that same mission. We are tearing down every unnecessary barrier. We want your teens to feel safe to come as they are and to hear about Jesus, whether they buy into everything we say or not.
Come check us out!
Stay up to date
Velocity offers various events throughout the year.
Parent information nights happen once a month. Someone from our team will meet with you and answer questions.
The latest updates regarding upcoming youth group activities in Valrico (and some, like camp, further away) are available by subscribing to our mailing list or following us on Instagram.
The church as a whole has handled the topic of sex and sexuality poorly. Let me be clear. If you are gay and seeking a church home in Valrico, you are welcome at Centerpoint Church.
Sex is directly related to our view of God. Silence distorts the idea of sex, romance and relationship. This affects our views of God. We cannot be silent.
We are not any church; we are an alternative to church as usual. We don't operate on guilt or shame but dive into hard questions about our faith in a safe environment. We encourage the skeptic, the religious and anyone in-between to explore what it means to follow Jesus.
The problem isn’t sex
Sex is good. God created it. The problem isn't our sex drive; it's letting sex drive us. A great relationship is what fuels sexual intimacy. The function of sex is to nurture a healthy relationship.
Culture is not the enemy. We are to engage culture. Our culture says treat sex however you want but… Swipe Right (for a more detailed three-part sermon series on healthy sexual relationships).
We tend to elevate sexual sin above everything else. That is not the gospel. We are quick to overlook the husband treating his wife like $#*! but are more than willing to throw stones at those the church has traditionally labeled as outcasts. We are quick to call someone a sinner without first evaluating our own lives.
This has to change. The problem is not sex or sexual identity.
We lose kids to the culture, not because we don't entertain them, but because we don't dare them. If we can't talk about our beliefs and the hard questions openly, then we never grow. We hide because we think we can't be honest about who we are in the faith community.
This needs to change.
The sexuality of Christians
There are many gay, queer or same-sex attracted Christians. Some have chosen same-sex marriage while others have chosen chastity. It is the same choice heterosexuals have, though historically the cultural differences are extreme. We disagree amongst ourselves on the restrictions of historic Christian teachings. Every denomination seems to have co-opted Jesus into defending their stance.
If you are part of the LGBTQ community and looking for a church in Valrico, know that you are welcome at Centerpoint. We aren't out to change you. You are welcome exactly as you are.
Called to love
Every person has been made in the image of God and has extreme value. We are called to love. That means we live life side by side, even when we disagree. We ask hard questions about Scripture and Jesus. We value one another and honor how the Holy Spirit is working in each of our lives.
What if God has a destiny and a will for your life and mine? What does it look like to surrender our will, our life, our bodies to God? What does it look like to explore these questions together?
Today let’s commit to hear one another and to ask the hard questions doing our best to remove preconceived biases from the conversation.
Joy is the second fruit of the spirit, and yet we rarely talk about it. It is something we all long for, but the truth is that it rarely happens in our comfort zones. In fact, it often follows pain and is a companion of fear and uncertainty.
Joy and happiness are often confused with one another. Our culture has hijacked and commercialized the meaning of happiness. It has been wrapped up in success, possession of things and fun. The pursuit of happiness is a pursuit of comfort while joy is a quality found regardless of our circumstances.
Rooted in love
Joy is the second fruit of the spirit. It follows love, but we rarely talk about it. The two are deeply connected. It is rooted in love, and like love, it is a practice.
Joy happens in spite of suffering. It is an act of resistance against despair and a display of trust in God. See, joy is about connecting with something beyond ourselves. Like love, it points the focus away from selfish desires.
Joy comes in the morning
In the midst of our pain, it can feel impossible to believe joy will follow. Psalm 30:5a states that “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Joy flows from pain in the sense that we do not truly know we possess it until it is tested.
When we choose joy, regardless of the situation, we are placing our faith and hope in a God who is bigger than our circumstances. This doesn’t mean that we don’t hurt or mourn. No. Embrace those feelings when they come, don’t stuff them. But remember those moments, tragedies and sufferings do not define who you are in Christ.
It was what you do in a moment that defines who you are, not what happens to you. It is by your fruits that you will be known.
Try joy on for a spin. Choose today that you will, no matter what lies ahead, commit to living a joy-filled life.
Conflict is messy. Typically, when we go into an argument, we are quick to blame the other person. But a close look at our own motives and flaws will reveal that the other person isn't 100% at fault. Only when we acknowledge our own crazy, even if they still get 97% of it, can we begin to discuss hot-button issues.
Not sure you actually own 3% of the crazy? Watch this before reading more.
The following advice is for both online and offline conflicts. When you start to feel hot-headed, take a knee. Remember that Jesus spoke hard truths but his love for those he interacted with has never fallen into question.
Check your heart
If your goal is to change someone’s mind, you know seek confirmation that you are right, it’s best to walk away.
Mathew 7:1-6 tells each of us to check ourselves. The first verse “Do not judge, or you will be judged” is often used to ward off judgment of any kind. That’s not what the verse is telling us. In fact, we are to judge. You’re to judge me right now and flip open your Bible and take a look for yourself to see if what I’m saying is true. If we throw out judgment all together then how would we recognize the false prophets 7:13 warns us against?
What Matthew is saying is that you and I are to check our own heart and motivation first. We have to deal with our 3% before we can speak with grace and love.
Don’t live in a bubble. Create spaces where you hear other sides. Learn to engage with the world and culture around you. Get uncomfortable; it's where real change happens.
Recognize your own bias and set aside preconceived ideas. Really listen to the person in front of you. After hearing them out, even if you still disagree, you may find you understand how they arrived at their belief.
Christ's life is an example of what this looks like. When he came across the hungry, he fed them. When he met the blind, he gave them sight. He addressed their need and then he could say I know you and I'm here.
Stay away from personal attacks
Stick to the issue you are discussing. Only God knows a person's motivations. There is a story behind the person standing in front of you. A story that led them to this moment. If you listen carefully, you might begin to see them as a person deeply in need of God's grace. They won't benefit from your assumptions or personal attack; neither will you or your cause.
Friend, there is hope for us yet. We can stand strong for the values of Jesus without sacrificing the grace of Jesus. And we can do it without being an @$$.
I'm a comfort junky, and if I had to guess, so are most of you.
We live in a world of instant gratification. Hot coffee at a push of a button, fast food on every corner, our favorite shows stream, and we can connect with friends the moment we think of them through social media. Waiting is so rare that when we are inconvenienced, we spend more time complaining about the inconvenience than the time it actually took from us.
Life is great, as long as the systems work, and we are comfortable. But what happens when it gets uncomfortable?
Guess what. God doesn't care about your comfort nearly as much as you do, and you shouldn't either. God's waiting for us to step out of our comfort zone and start living into our purpose. He's given us a mission, and it's past time to start doing it.
Take the next step
What happens when we feel the Holy Spirit prodding us to go somewhere we’ve never been? Do something we’ve never done?
Here's the thing. When we learn to sit in discomfort, we start to change. We start to see God working. God can do some extraordinary things if we would just step out of our comfort zones.
Throughout Scripture, men and women are called to step out of their comfort zones because there was a mission for them to fulfill. We never hear God saying, "Oh, if this works for you, that is."
Even Jesus wasn't overly comfortable with the mission that lay before him. In Mark 14:35-36, he prays that if there is another way, he'd like to take it, but ultimately says God's will is the way he will go. I don't know about you, but the cross and all that came with it doesn't sound like God was interested in comfort. God was mission-focused, and Jesus followed through.
God is our comfort
In uncomfortable seasons God can do extraordinary things in our lives. When we refuse to step out of our comfort zone to take that first step into the unfamiliar areas God has called us, we are robbing ourselves of being a part of what we as a church have been called to be.
God doesn’t care about your comfort. He is your comfort. No matter where He calls and leads God goes along with you for the ride. His comfort isn’t the cushy life we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, the comfort we are offered is knowing God will never abandon us no matter how difficult life gets, no matter how far we are asked to go, no matter what it costs.
God has broken through the barriers built up by tradition and culture. We are being called to keep pushing forward, to keep living into our calling and to get uncomfortable! The next step is ours.
Every time you step outside of your comfort zone you are relying on God. That's a faith grower. You are stepping into the unknown, and there is only one place you can put your trust, and that's in Jesus.
We each come to hard points in our lives that we can’t make sense of. It could be a cancer diagnosis, a lost job, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship… so many things can toss us into a state of confusion, fear and uncertainty.
It is in those moments that we can either choose to run from God or choose to trust God.
Don’t toss scripture at them
As Christians comfort should be about making the hurting comfortable, not ourselves. Often when we are placed in situations that make us uncomfortable, we can be known to throw scripture or sayings we think are scripture, but aren't, at others.
Here are a few examples:
God never gives you more than you can handle.
God helps those who help themselves.
Nope. Not in Scripture, but we sure do love tossing those around into the silence of pain when it becomes unbearable.
Job's friends did. When he was in full on grief, they started mouthing off their theology trying to make sense of his pain because they were uncomfortable. You know what happened, they heard from God. Not in the way they probably would have liked, but they heard.
God showed up and said to Job’s friends, “I am angry with you...you have not spoken the truth about me.” (Job 42:7)
We need to be careful when we sit with others in their pain to not attempt to be the mouthpiece of God. Trust the Holy Spirit to work. Be present and ready when God nudges, but don’t force your way through the discomfort of silence.
Do what Jesus does
Don’t be like Job’s friends. Instead, try imitating Jesus. Show up and be present. Throughout Scripture Jesus shows up where people are hurting. It’s not comfortable. It’s culturally wrong. It’s inconvenient.
You and I weren't called to a life of comfort or convenience. We were created for a purpose. Some days that purpose is just to show up and be present in someone else's darkest moment. Some days that means to trust even when it feels impossible.
Be honest with God
If you are walking through fear and loss hold on tight to Jesus. He won’t leave you. Take what you are feeling to God. Be honest. Your situation, your pain is already known and seen.
Are you willing to be honest and authentic? Are you willing to sit quietly and listen for God’s presence?
Having an atheist friend is one of the best ways to not get trapped into a Christian bubble.
We have a tendency, as humans, to choose people who affirm our every thought and make us feel good about our life decisions. When we limit our crowd to people who believe the same, do church the same, vote the same, listen to the same music… you get the idea… we begin to atrophy.
Engage with culture
Our brains die from neglect. We aren’t challenged and begin to slip into “Christianese” language. We forget how to speak to those outside our circles. There is a chance we may even forget how to think for ourselves.
The cure? Engage with the culture around you. Seek out friends who think differently. Find an atheist friend and have real conversations.
Ask hard questions
Questions produce stronger faith. If we never question why we believe something – if we never challenge it – then how can we know we truly believe?
Having a friend who believes that God does not exist is someone worth listening too and hearing out. Your atheist friend will have well thought out arguments that will challenge you. Sit with that challenge and explore why and what you believe.
Yes. You may spend nights tossing around their arguments in your head instead of sleeping. But isn’t a stronger faith that has been challenged and came out whole worth it?
Get outside of the echo chamber
As Christians, we build echo chambers. We do it through social media and with face to face relationships. Over time we gravitate to the people who reflect what we like about ourselves. These people make us comfortable in our -own skin. Friend, that is a dangerous place to live.
We are not called to be comfortable. We are to be world changers. If we are going to be a light for others to see Jesus, then we have to engage with those who see the world differently.
Our best friends are the ones who challenge and stretch us. They don't let us stay the same boring person we are today. They love us as we are but also see our potential.
Solidify your belief in God, share Jesus
When you challenge your faith, I mean dig deep and get to the core of why you believe what you do, it comes out stronger. Before you can share who Jesus is with others, you have to address your own doubts. Don't run from them. Explore them. You'll be better for it.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
Invite your atheist friend to dinner. Instead of trying to win them over to your way of thinking sit back and hear them out. Explore their beliefs and listen to the why behind them.
In order to love others, we must be fully loved by Jesus. In order to be fully loved, we must be fully known. Often this is difficult because we place expectations on Jesus and believe he has expectations of us.
These expectations are often not truly there. Jesus asks us to follow him. He doesn't tell us to get our crap together first. He wants us to simply follow; the rest will fall in line as we begin to engage God honestly.
The people Jesus interacts within the New Testament are transparent, and their lives are transformed for it. Their transparency allows for Jesus' light to shine fully through them and transform others.
Your need can shift the narrative of your life. But you have to recognize that need and be honest and transparent. The Samaritan woman (John 4) needed to be seen and fully known before she could see that Jesus, the Messiah, was standing in front of her offering her fulfillment.
You, my friend, are fully loved. It is that simple. There is nothing you have to do to earn this. But to understand that love you have to lay all of you out in the open for Jesus.
Have you ever kept a secret from a loved one and then felt the distance between you both grow? Jesus isn’t holding anything back from you. But are you holding back from him?
Believing that you are not loved fully by Jesus is you projecting your fears and keeping secrets. Let go of them and accept that you are fully known. Jesus can see all your flaws anyway. You have to be willing to accept his love. He came for you before you ever repented. He looked at you and felt compassion and love. He saw you and loved you long before you ever knew of him.
Let him in.
If you want to live a transparent life you have to remember your life is not about you. Your story isn't for your own benefit; it's to shine God's light for others to see. That same love Jesus has for you, He has for everyone your life touches.
Think for a moment of the blind man found in John 9. The disciples ask Jesus why the man is blind, and in verse 3, Jesus answers, "This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."
When you share your story with others, can they see the love of God in you?
Have you been honest enough with Jesus that those broken places are being filled by His light and love? Are you reflecting Jesus' love or are you to busy hiding secrets Jesus already knows?