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We were two weeks away from moving from Austin to a tiny town in Colorado. I was on the phone with a dear friend, worrying about what we were going to do with our couch. I was saying, “We don’t have room for it up there, but we got a really good deal on it.” My friend said, “Hunter, it is disgusting how little you think of God.” Wow. In that moment, he was so right that I was not even offended. He loved me enough to call out my shortsightedness.
In the passage you are about to read, we learn about how important good friends are.
- Do you have friends who will call you out for God’s glory?
As a volunteer Young Life leader, I brought a group of guys to camp in July. After camp, I had a conversation with one of my guys. He said he wasn’t ready for a relationship with Jesus because he “wasn’t ready for everything to change.” As hard as this was to hear, it was also extremely encouraging. This kid understands enough about the gospel to know a relationship with Jesus will change everything. I know that, someday, my friend will experience the entirety of Jesus, and his life will, in fact, be forever changed.
- Have you ever experienced the fullness of God?
I have had some brutal jobs in my life. My current job, however, is the most physically demanding job and my favorite yet. Sure, slinging around 250-pound logs all day might not sound like a blast, but I really do love every day I get to work. Working with two of my closest friends, both of them men striving after Christ, is priceless. We have accountability, community, and great conversation. There is no better job in my mind. In the passage you are about to read, we see the emptiness work can bring when we go at it alone or for the wrong reasons.
- Would you describe your work life as fulfilling or meaningless?
Growing up, something I heard quite often from my parents was, “That’s a bad idea, Hunter.” Being the perfect child, though, I would still do whatever the bad idea was once the adults weren’t watching. Through this, I got some great stories; I also got scars and broken bones. However, when my parents turned out to be right about my idea, their reaction was never “I told you so.” Their response was to continue to be my parents. In the passage you are about to read, Peter experienced what should have been an “I told you so” moment from Jesus. But Christ’s response was not that. Instead, Jesus continued to be Peter’s Savior.
- When have you suffered from your own disobedience or bad choices?
When I was young, I remember we basically lived at the community pool during swim practice season. There was a small pool, basketball court, and several acres of lakefront property, mostly covered by grass. We would all swim in the lake until it was time to head to the pool for our practice, and while we were running to the pool, we would, at some point, have to stop and pull sticker burrs out of our feet. The sticker burrs became a serious problem. At the time, an older gentleman lived across the street from the pool. He rarely spoke to anyone, but day after day, he would crawl around on his hands and knees and pick those dreaded plants out of the ground.
- In what ways are you crawling around in a field of sticker burrs for the benefit of others?
I definitely have a love-hate relationship with personality tests. Learning about myself is enjoyable. But when some test describes me better than I ever could and accurately explains my past, present, and future, I get a little unsettled. The personality assessment, StrengthsFinder, once accurately predicted one of mine and my wife’s arguments, word-for-word. There is something oddly enjoyable about such accurate predictions and assumptions. In this passage of Scripture, we see a similar, odd concept where Jesus’ actions were perfectly predicted by a prophet.
- In what ways do Jesus’ actions shock or surprise you?
Years back, I received the chance to get to know a very successful lawyer. I remember asking him, “What is your secret?” Oddly enough, he had no secret at all. His success was, and is, quite simple. In court, he does his best to act as Christ would. He doesn’t get angry, and he doesn’t ignore the truth; he treats all parties as brothers and sisters. Because he acts so differently from others in court, juries seem to always side with him. When he is in the courtroom, he always lays his hands flat and with his palms up because he says, “You cannot get angry with open hands.”
- In what ways do you live a life that causes others to ask, “What do they know that I don’t?”
After receiving a job offer in Colorado, my wife and I asked God if it was his will. We promptly heard “yes,” and two weeks later, we arrived at our new home. During our quick and hectic transition, God continued to make his answer heard clearly. We didn’t know how we would get our car to southwestern Colorado. We learned that, at the same time, two friends needed a way to get from Austin to a camp just thirty miles south of where we were moving to. Although I sought God’s will first, this isn’t always the case for me. This instance, and today’s passage, speaks to the importance of seeking wisdom from God before taking action.
- In what areas of your life do you tend to respond without first going to God for guidance?
As I creep through my early years of adulthood, there is something I wish had been taught to me before graduating from high school. I wish I knew how much of life would be spent, especially at work, watching somebody make decisions and handle situations in which you profoundly disagree with. I have learned through my many jobs that we often keep our mouths shut and move along with our day. This can be out of fear, but it can often be out of pure obedience to our superiors. Yet, even when we are in these tough situations, God can still work through us in marvelous ways.
- What does it mean for you to walk blamelessly before God, even when those around you pursue earthly things?
Some of my favorite talks to write while in student ministry, and as a volunteer Young Life leader, were those directly about the gospel. I enjoyed writing these because I was constantly reminded about the profound nature of the gospel’s power. But when times get hard and my faith is tested, I can distort the foundational truths of my salvation. It seems to make my situation a bit more tolerable. In doing so, though, I desert the true gospel and push myself away from the only truth that brings life. In today’s passage, Paul rebuked this mindset, as it is displeasing to God.
- When was the last time you deserted the power of the gospel, and why?