The only way to make ultimate sense out of your story is to understand how it fits into the greater story of the purposes of God for the world. God takes great pleasure in pouring out His power on those who will dare to radically align their purposes with His. In the Lord’s Prayer, God presents us with a clear and compelling vision regarding His  purposes for the world and for our lives in it. The history of Christianity as a global movement is rooted in the lives of countless ordinary people whose lives were swept up in God’s extraordinary purposes revealed in this prayer Jesus taught his followers.

Steve Childers explains this concept as he concludes his message at this year’s Desiring God Pastor’s Conference, in MN sponsored by Desiring God Ministries. Consider 1) listening to this explanation of the Lord’s Prayer and then 2) worshiping God–by joining with all those at this conference and singing the prayer to God from your heart (6 minute video).

July 4 Shirtless ManJPGLast 4th of July is one I’ll never forget. And neither will our guests. Our celebration of the 4th began normally. Becky and I had several seminary students over to our home for an old fashioned hamburger, hot dog, baked beans, etc. spread.

As it started to get dark, we all drove to our neighborhood fireworks display on the edge of a small lake near our home. A relatively small crowd of a few hundred neighbors were there. A few of the students brought to my attention that the blaring music was very boomer–70’s hard rock. Hadn’t noticed it except for my involuntary head-banging.

It was a very Norman Rockwell sort of scene with kids and dogs running around as spectacular fireworks were exploding high in the air.

What happened next is still hard for me to believe. Just after a beautiful display of fireworks over the lake had ended, a shirtless man walked over near the base where these very high-powered, professional fireworks were being launched.

He then handed his beer can to another man, who had a large American flag in his other hand, and then reached over and picked up one of the large boxes of fireworks-apparently scheduled to be shot off for the next round. I still can’t believe what happened next. This man hoisted the large, heavy box of very powerful, highly explosive fireworks over the top of his head and lifted the box up as high as his arms could reach.

Then this man started walking from the edge of the lake toward the broad yellow tape that was designed to keep the crowd (us) at a safe distance from these potentially dangerous explosives. He stopped about 10-15 feet before the yellow tape, with his arms still fully extended as high as they could go, when the first sparks began to shoot from the huge bottom of the large box of fireworks.

Standing about 6 feet away from this shirtless man was his buddy with the can of beer in one hand and raising up the American flag in the other.

If you look very closely at the video screenshot above (from my trusty iPhone), you can see this shirtless man with his hands held high above him holding the box from which all the fireworks are starting to explode. And if you look to the right of this man (his left) you’ll see his buddy, who has a big American flag in his right hand that you can’t see because it’s behind the fire. If you look closely you can even see the yellow tape (between these 2 men and the crowd in front of us) supposedly meant to keep us a safe distance from the fireworks.

What took place next only lasted for 7 seconds before the shirtless man had to throw down the exploding fireworks box. But everyone with us that evening said they will probably never have another 4th of July when they don’t remember this one. Immediately after the explosions and balls of fire stopped shooting at us, one of the seminary students, Nolan, yelled out,

“That one nearly killed you Steve! We’re lucky to be alive! We’re lucky to be alive! Friendly fire!  We just came under attack! This is unprecedented in the American society! We just came under attack at our own fireworks show!”

Becky and I think our favorite Thank You note came from another student, Tim, who wrote,

Thanks again for having us over for the 4th. It was one I’m certain we’ll never forget. It was the first time I was shot at by a shirtless man while his buddy held his beer and waved an American flag. I’d like to think that this is what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. “Give me drunk fireworks, or give me death.”

To help make your 4th of July weekend more memorable, I’ve just posted the video I took of those 7 seconds, along with some slower instant replays so you can see the most amazing and frightening fireworks display I’ve ever seen.

You’ll also hear the adrenaline-soaked comments made by some members of our group immediately after we stopped being fired on. And If you watch the video carefully, you’ll see why Nolan screamed, “That one nearly killed you Steve!”

UPDATE–JULY 4, 2015: For some reason there is no neighborhood Fourth of July fireworks celebration scheduled in our nearby park this year. Hmmm. I wonder why?

If you’d like to see this brief 3-minute video Click Here.

Or watch below:


It might surprise some Millennials to hear that one of our generational battle cries is fairly old school.

The popular acronym YOLO (you only live once) has captured the hearts of many an emerging hedonist (and not the Christian kind). It wrests the minds of thousands with the tyranny of the urgent, motivating a kind of desperate restlessness to squeeze the last drop of pleasure out of these quickly fading days. YOLO is imprisoning a generation with a familiar lie exposed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:32: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

But YOLO is a mask worn by an ancient despot. Who doesn’t remember his previous disguises? He has had other aliases. You may remember him as carpe diem, or more recently, “the bucket list.” He has gone incarnate in figures like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray or Robin Williams’s portrayal of professor John Keating in Dead Poets Society. He ensnares would-be servants of the true King by holding out fleeting satisfaction and vaporous rewards.

How should Christians respond to these lures? As adopted heirs to the throne over all creation, we can laugh in the face of such puny promises. How silly it must seem to be offered the thimble-sized cup of three score and ten years for worldly delights compared with oceans of full-joy pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Learning from the Devil’s Playbook

So that we are not deceived, let us examine together our captor’s strategy. What makes the YOLO mantra such a trap? How does it make us slaves?

When we believe that the only pleasures available to us are those we can wring from the fabric of our short lives, time becomes our greatest enemy. As the ranks of each passing year close in on our fragile village of pleasure seeking, a chaotic frenzy erupts in our hearts and minds. Regret and gloom drive the captives mad:

“I can’t believe I’ll never get to see Italy!”

“What if I never find a husband or have children?”

These are the kinds of melodies that earworm their way into prisoners of the bucket list. They haunt casualties of carpe diem captivity.

On the Third Day

Without a distinctively Christian hope, we are doomed to suffer under this maniacal monarch in one form or another. But as Christians, we believe in a glorious resurrection! Secured by our elder brother, who settled the question once and for all that we don’t only live once, Christians hope to follow our trailblazer into an eternal inheritance.

Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27–28)

The hope of all those eagerly waiting for Christ’s second coming is to be saved from the great judgment that evaluates what we did with the time we were given.

For those who are saved from this judgment, we will receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28), and a city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14). But what kind of lives does this hope produce? Quite contrary to bucket-list victims, it produces lives that, like our Savior, go outside the camp (Hebrews 13:13).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you have been set free from the slavery that panics to hoard all of the honors and riches of this world, thinking that in them you have eternal life and legacy. You cannot keep them anyway (Matthew 6:19). You are free to spend all of your strength and wealth and time to point others to a joy richer and more lasting than anything YOLO can offer.

Give What You Cannot Keep

To riff on Jim Elliot’s famous phrase, he is a fool who keeps what he can give, and loses what he cannot earn.

YOLO offers the false promise of “eternal life” by acquiring stuff now. It says, “If somehow I can acquire enough social media followers, photos at historic monuments, or accolades at the workplace, I can achieve a sort of immortality.” Only the fool thinks he can earn eternal life by holding onto things.

“He is a fool who keeps what he can give, and loses what he cannot earn.”

The deeper problem is that eternal life is never gained by our efforts. Your legacy will not save you on the Judgment Day. Instead, Christians are set loose to give freely because we have been given everything. Eternal life is a gift from the Resurrected One, and so all our dying (giving) in this life is empowered by the Spirit of the Crucified One.

We spend our lives as resurrection-seed, knowing that no bucket list will ever compare to the glorious New Creation waiting for us on the other side of the resurrection from the dead.


Full author ryan shelton

Ryan Shelton (@SheltonRyan) is a graduate of the Worship Pastor Concentration M.Div. at Bethlehem College & Seminary. He lives in the Chicagoland North Shore where he serves as the worship director of Winnetka Bible Church.

Reference:You Only Live Once? Get Free from the Tyranny of YOLO Source: