At some point this past January I picked up a copy of RELEVANT Magazine’s January/February 2018 issue [#91] while perusing the magazine rack at Barnes & Nobles. For those who might not be familiar with the magazine, RELEVANT isn’t your typical Christian magazine. Here is a description from their website:
Since 2002, RELEVANT has been the leading platform reaching Christian twenty- and thirtysomethings. Covering faith, culture and intentional living, the stories we tell are at the intersection of where a Christ-centered life is really lived. Our magazine is not about “being relevant” (whatever that means)—it’s that God is relevant to every aspect of our lives. (And yes, we cover the stuff that’s relevant to our readers.) We reach about 2,300,000 twenty- and thirtysomething Christians a month through all of our platforms, publishing every other month in print and iPad, as well as daily online, occasionally on RTV and weekly via our podcast.
We’re twenty- and thirtysomething Christians seeking God and striving to impact the world around us. We are people who want to live well—outwardly, creatively and intentionally. We are pro-Church and want to love our neighbors as ourselves. We serve the Creator, so we love great art—whether that be redemptive music, movies, books or design. We are daily seeking to show how God is at work in the world and in our generation.
We try to publish ideas that break stereotypes, challenge the status quo and spur a generation to know God more—and change the world while they’re at it. We want to engage our generation in a deeper conversation about faith, challenging worldviews and causing people to see God outside the box they’ve put Him in. Encountering God changes things.
We believe God is alive and speaking both inside and outside the four walls of the church. That’s why we cover life issues and culture next to social justice and spiritual growth—to look at the things relevant to our lives and world, and give voice to what God is doing in and through our generation. We believe a lot can be learned by looking more deeply at things that challenge you. But we also believe in the importance of the Church and want to be catalysts for change rather than part of the mass exodus of our generation leaving it.
Christians can’t be complacent living in a Christian bubble and never engaging the world they live in. We want to live the way Jesus did. Through relationship and love, the world was changed. We don’t think believers should be known primarily for legalism and bigotry. We believe in dialogue—about Truth, about faith, about freedom in Christ….
RELEVANT Media Group is a multimedia company whose purpose is to impact culture and give voice to what God is doing in and through our generation. We believe encountering God changes lives, so the magazine looks at how we can live that out in tangible and intentional ways. We talk about culture and real-life issues that other faith-based magazines might shy away from because we believe it’s important to address the gritty stuff of life—even when it makes us uncomfortable. If it’s relevant to our readers, you’ll find it on our pages.
RELEVANTmagazine.com is the daily updated, interactive counterpart of RELEVANT magazine. Together, they have become the leading platforms reaching a generation of culturally savvy world-changers hungry for God….
WHAT WE BELIEVE: Whether 20 years into it or just starting out, if you’re at this website you’re probably on a spiritual journey. Christianity is not a destination. No one has it all figured out. And because of that you’ll find the articles in RELEVANT ask questions a lot of others won’t, which is something we feel is vital to our spiritual growth. We need to never stop pursuing Truth and authenticity with passion.
But we do believe. We believe that eternal life and the only true freedom is found in Christ. We believe a relationship with Him changes things forever. You are not the person you used to be after you find Him. You may not be perfect—we’re all sinners, after all—but you don’t live the way you used to. Jesus told us to be in the world, yet not of it. We’re supposed to stand out and make a difference. We’re supposed to live for something bigger than ourselves.
That’s not something we can magically attain overnight. Following Christ and figuring out what it means to be like Him is a lifelong quest. It’s the hardest, longest and most rewarding thing we will ever undertake. It is what will define us—not only in this life, but in the life to come.
For more information about Christianity, we recommend checking out the Bible (it is the source, after all) and finding a good local church where you can meet other people like you. (More information on RELEVANT and quote source here.)
I found the January/February 2018 issue of RELEVANT to be quite informative as well as entertaining even though I haven’t fit into its typical audience’s age group for, well, let’s just say a very long time. However, there is a fair amount of confusion out there today about who Jesus Christ really is in our rapidly increasing secular society. And it is even more important to reach out to the younger generations today who have been secularized by our culture from the cradle up including in the classroom and in pop culture, social media, and everyday life. This magazine along with their various platforms are geared for the younger generations who are genuinely seeking after truth.
With that being said, I read a short article in the January/February 2018 issue the brought a smile to my face. It’s titled, “A Beginner’s Guide to Ethical Cooking,” on “The Cheat Sheet” on page 36. See if you don’t agree:
We’ve all been there: a moment of clarity while staring into your refrigerator, where you determine that from now on, it’s no more leftovers and frozen meals. You’re going to become a real cook, make healthy meals and start buying groceries from that cool little bodega over by the yoga studio.
You’re going to be one of those people who sprinkles exotic seasonings on your seared salmon and harvests fresh herbs from your little backyard garden. You can see it all in your head, and it looks great, but next week, you’re probably back to preheating the oven for another DiGiorno pizza.
Truth be told, what you’re trying to do is a good thing. Part of being mature with your resources is knowing how to buy and cook food responsibly.
It’s not as hard as you think. It just takes a few easy steps to get you started on the right path. You’ll be grilling salmon like America’s Next Top Chef in no time. (Quote source: RELEVANT, Jan/Feb. 2018, #91, p. 36)
Ah yes, those “moments of clarity”…. I had one back in October when I decided my eating habits were going to kill me (not literally) if I didn’t take some control over the kinds of foods I was eating on a regular basis (too much sugar, too much fat, too much salt, and all those chemicals and ingredients nobody can even pronounce let alone know what they do inside your body). While I’ve been eating the same fast foods and processes foods everyone else has been eating for most of my life (except during the several of times I started a new diet and successfully lost “X” number of pounds only to slowly, or not-so-slowly, gain many of them back), I had an “ah ha” moment while eating lunch off the value menu at Wendy’s (burger, fries, you know… that stuff). To make it even worse, I had just found a copy of a diet book at a Goodwill store for $1.00 in the same shopping mall where Wendy’s (a fast food restaurant) was located, and I was looking it over as I ate my fast food meal. (Oh, the irony, right?)
A relative of mine has had great success with this particular diet, “The Virgin Diet,” by. J.J. Virgin, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, a Certified Health and Fitness Instructor with advanced certifications in Nutrition, Personal Training and Aging, and Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. She has been following this diet for the past several years since it came out in 2012. I knew she loved lasagna and pasta as much as I loved Wendy’s or Burger King, so I figured if she liked the diet and was still following it after several years, I should at least give it a try. So, when I saw a copy of it at Goodwill store for $1.00 (“used” but in “brand new” condition), I had to buy it. I had previously told myself that I was never going to buy another diet book for the rest of my life, but for $1.00, how could I resist? So I bought it and took it over to Wendy’s to have my last “fast food meal” while thinking it was impossible I could ever be successful at it.
Right off the bat it took away gluten, eggs, soy, dairy, corn, peanuts, sugar and artificial sweeteners. So what was I left with to eat? Lettuce leaves? I know it sounds awful (it’s really not awful at all, just different), but the author said to give it one week–seven days–and a person would be able to feel an amazing difference. So I did, and I did… and I’ve been eating this way since October because I feel so great in a dozen different ways then I did when I was eating so much crap. It’s not really a diet, but a way of life, and I really like what I get to eat now, and it’s a very healthy way to eat, too. And after a lifetime of dieting, no diet has ever made me feel as good mentally, physically, and in every other way as this diet has made me feel due to getting rid of foods that make us feel bad (e.g., food intolerance) and we don’t even know it. I can definitely see why my relative has stuck with it for so long now.
However, this blog post is not about dieting. It’s about a “moment of clarity” that can start one going in a new direction or just getting back on track, whether it’s dieting or anything else that we struggle with in life. In the case of this particular blog post, I’m addressing Christians who have been Christians for a very long time, but who have pretty much settled into coasting in the Christian life as it has lost a lot of it’s “glow” in place of all the other “stuff” our society offers us.
I’ve read some pretty startling statistics on the younger generations in our culture via the Barna Group, a 30+ year research and resource company considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. Starting with the “Baby Boomers,” to “Gen X,” to “Millennials” (also sometimes referred to as “Gen Y”), and the latest generation, “Gen Z,” with each passing generation the postmodern mindset has taken a must stronger hold in it’s many and various forms. Often Jesus Christ has no real meaning or appeal to a growing number of people in the younger generations. Not only has postmodernism taken center stage–where truth is relative and there are no absolutes–it has often watered down the true meaning (when not totally discrediting it) of the Gospel. However, we can’t just blame the culture. Showing up for church every Sunday like clockwork isn’t going to convince anybody of the reality or genuineness of Christianity. It is in how we live our lives and the genuineness of our own actions towards others that makes the difference.
In an online article in RELEVANT titled, “Does Fasting Even Matter Anymore,” by Levi Carter, he writes about his own relationship and desire to return to the passion he had when he first came to know Jesus Christ:
As I’ve delved deep into my relationship with God, I’m reminded over and over again of the words of God in Jeremiah 2:2.
“I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me, and followed me through a land not sown.”
It’s interesting that in the history of Israel, God doesn’t remember their arrival in the promised land or the golden age of David and Solomon as his favorite season. No, God remembered their first season—alone and completely dependent on him in the wilderness.
That is the season that God longs to return to with us from time to time.
Many of us feel similarly about our first season with Christ. It was painful, intimate and messy, but everything was new and real and beautiful.
When I think back to my early days with Christ, I think of the raw and honest prayers I prayed. I think of how I dug deep into the Scripture, not to pass some religious test, but because I desperately needed the sort of truth that could set me free. I can’t escape the feeling that the wilderness of first love was his favorite season with me, nor can I escape my own ache to return.
I’ve been praying to return to that place, to heed the admonition of Christ in Revelation 3, “Repent, and do the things you did at first.” This is something that I’ve prayed for 10 years, and last year I sensed that this was what God was telling me this fast was the path to that place.
The second day of my fast I heard one word: Consecration. The Hebrew word for consecration—qadash—means, “to be set apart, to make something holy.”
It spoke of all the things in the Old Testament, that God set aside for Himself or for His use. Like the consecration of the firstborn male, the tithe or the articles of gold and silver for the temple. Essentially God was saying, these things are set aside for me and I’m going to use them for a specific and holy purpose.
We talk about holiness in the Church, but we don’t talk about the fact that there’s a reason God wants us to be holy. He has a specific purpose for us in mind, and in order to make a difference, we must first be different.
God began to highlight areas of compromise in the shows I allow myself to watch, consume or get complacent in.
When we remove compromise from our lives, we are rewarded with closeness. Isaiah told us that “your iniquities have separated you from your God.” Jesus taught that it was the pure in heart who would see him. God is making me holy, not just for a purpose, but for proximity. God doesn’t hate sin because he’s vindictive, God hates sin because it’s the only thing that stands in the way of him and his kids….
As I’ve sensed these winds of change, the wilderness has produced in me a dependence on Him that was previously unknown. When we look to fulfill our dreams or accomplish a goal, it’s easy to forget that Jesus told us in John 15 that apart from Him we can do nothing. When we take away a basic need like food, a union with Christ is forged. We are saying, I need You more than my most basic human needs. This posture of humility creates a lean in our hearts. Where we no longer lean into our own understanding or ingenuity to produce, but rather lean unto His heart. (Quote source here.)
Whether we are older and contemplating retirement, or younger and anticipating a career or life change, or maybe just trying to get through a difficult time, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” That is for everyone, at any point, and any circumstance, in our lives.
I mentioned the words to the chorus in the song, “The Basics of Life,” (YouTube Video below) in a previous blog post, but they are worth repeating again. Here’s the chorus: We need to get back to the basics of life–a heart that is pure, and a love that is blind. A faith that is fervently grounded in Christ; the hope that endures for all times . . .
These are the basics . . .
We need to get back . . .
To the basics of life . . . .
YouTube video: “The Basics of Life” by 4Him:
Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here