How Technology Can Operationalize the Bible with Chris Lim of TheoTech | Episode 32

Tune in to the most recent episode of our Future.Bible Podcast with our special guest, Chris Lim of TheoTech!

Chris is the Founder of TheoTech, a company that is focusing on creating technology to advance the Gospel through designing creative programs and spreading the word of the Gospel in all they do.

In this episode, Chris discusses TheoTech, how he got started in the technology industry, and what drives his passion for using technology in a unique way to spread the Gospel and reach more people.

Get to know more about Chris and his work through their website at theotech.org and connect with Chris through the links below!

YouTube: youtube.com/c/theotechorg/

Facebook: facebook.com/theotechco

Twitter: twitter.com/meritandgrace

TheoTech Podcast theotech.org/podcasts

spf.io – real-time translation captions in over 60 languages

ceaselessprayer.com

projectpentecost.com – Project Pentecost provides resources for churches to celebrate the multilingual and multicultural diversity in their worship services

Liked this episode? Help us be submitting a review on iTunes about the Future.Bible Podcast so more church technologists and leaders can discover these interviews and episodes. You can catch future episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and other podcast outlets, and be sure to keep up to date on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and our blog!

TRANSCRIPTION:

DJ Chuang:    Welcome to another episode of the Future.Bible Podcast. I wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine here in Seattle, his name is Chris Lim and he has done some really neat things in his short life. I think I’m twice as old as you are, I’m 53. How old are you?

Chris Lim:    I’m 30.

DJ Chuang:    Okay, see, almost. Yes. And he’s previously worked at Amazon, and he loves the Lord. So he has a very unique perspective, many perspectives I would say, about theology, and technology, and scripture engagement. So we’re going to have a conversation something about that.

DJ Chuang:    But, Chris, maybe for a little more context, I’m low context, but many other people would like a little more context on your background. How did you get into technology, and when did you come to the Lord, and how did that come together?

Chris Lim:    That’s a lot of questions to answer in a brief sentence. But, let’s see, technology. I got into technology when I was probably three. Because my dad had a laptop, and those were the early days when they were still big, heavy, and clunky. And I got to play with it, just kind of bang on the keyboard.

Chris Lim:    But, the thing that got me really into computer science and programming was probably the TI-83 Plus, the programming calculators that they had you do in school, because you could actually program that, and so I remember writing a program that helped me do my math homework so I wouldn’t have to do it all by hand. I could just plug in the numbers and get my quadratic solutions out.

Chris Lim:    And that program would spread to other people. You would transfer it calculator-to-calculator. And just that feedback loop of having an idea, being able to put into a program, and it does it for you is probably how I got started really appreciating and loving that power of technology.

Chris Lim:    And so, later in my life, you asked me about how I knew the Lord, I didn’t grow up in a home that was Christian, but kind of like my parents came to Christ, personally, and so it wasn’t culturally Christian. It was something that we experienced God’s grace work in their lives and my life personally, as well.

Chris Lim:    We can talk about it on your other podcast erasing shame sometimes, because there are definitely some other elements of what God did in my life to let me experience the power of the gospel because I think sometimes, we can easily assume that just the message of the Gospel is all that people need to hear. But it’s really the power of the Gospel that can set people free from shame, from sin, from addictions, and stuff like that.

Chris Lim:    I experienced that power by God’s grace. And that was a huge turning point for my life, in the sense that I realized that all the things I loved about technology were given by God as a gift, and meant to be used for a specific purpose for the Kingdom of God. And so, that changed my life and I worked for Amazon for several years. And eventually, I got called by God to leave Amazon, and start my company TheoTech, and to basically say, “What if God is our customer? What if we obsess over what God desires, and then work backward to invent technology that delivers those outcomes?”

Chris Lim:    And so that’s what I’m doing today. I have my Co-Founder is my sister, and we’ve been doing several projects that I can talk about. One of them is a free prayer app called Ceaseless. We do the TheoTech Podcast, which I’ll want to invite you to, so share as well on our thing. And the big thing we’re working on right now is a program called spf.io, which provides real-time translation and captioning for events. But really the big dream, the way that it serves our customers’ interests, is that we believe that God’s Kingdom is incomplete without people who are deaf, are blind, people who can speak many languages.

Chris Lim:    And so, we’re inventing this technology to make it possible for churches to welcome people in every language. People can just come on their phone, pick their language, get a translation. And then that brings our witness to God’s Kingdom through our local gatherings. And so, that’s spf.io, S-P-F-dot-I-O, and it’s the big push that we’re doing.

Chris Lim:    We’re working on something for Pentecost. To make that, to make Pentecost a big deal. To make it a thing. It should be like Easter. It should be like Christmas. We should be so excited about the gift of the Holy Spirit and what it means for the nations.

DJ Chuang:    That’s great. So you’ve explained spf.io. Let’s give you a minute to explain Ceaseless because I think that’s a really impacting kind of thing, too, in terms of prayer, and Facebook, and people.

Chris Lim:    So Ceaseless started as this idea of like, “Hey, I have a hard time praying. I’m always praying for myself. I’m a pretty selfish person, but I know God wants me to pray for other people. And so what if I could build programs that help me to pray for others instead of myself?”

Chris Lim:    That’s really where Ceaseless came from. And eventually, we built a prototype and stuff like that. And I had about 70 friends who signed up to get an email of their Facebook friends, through their Facebook friends, to pray for every morning. And after a few months, we prayed for more than 20,000 people, just the 70 of us. So if you’re part of a small church of like 70 people, your relationship footprint is enormous.

Chris Lim:    And for us, it took time to discern this, but with that principle of saying, “God is the customer,” I began to realize something. I realized from 1 Timothy 2, that the apostle Paul told us to pray for all people, especially those in power. And the reason why is that God desires all people to be saved.” So if my customer wants that, and has already specified the way that desire is to be expressed, through the prayers of God’s people for every person on Earth.

Chris Lim:    What’s happened are we take it may be at face value as an abstraction, like “Okay God, we pray for the government. We pray this group, or this nation, or this society.” But technology has made it possible for us to take that even more literally, and to pray for individuals personally, that we know, that we have a relationship with.

Chris Lim:    And the powerful thing with the math of it, is that if only one percent of the world, one percent of Christians in the world, personally prayed for three of their friends every morning, the mathematical model shows we could pray for everyone on Earth, personally, assuming that you had a relationship that way.

Chris Lim:    Now we have unreached people groups where there are no relationships. So this is just unveiling the frontier, I guess you could say. But at the end of the day, technology is making it possible for us to pray personally for every person in our contact book that God would either save them, work on their life, help them and encourage them. And that’s unprecedented. That’s the power of tech.

Chris Lim:    And that’s what it looks like when you make God the customer. You do the things that are innovative. They go beyond just, “Oh, I’m the busy person. I’m very distracted. I want to pray better.” So let’s build a human-centered app to help me do what I think I need, versus a God-centered app, which is saying, “God wants us to pray for others this way, so can we support those interests that God has for our prayer lives.”

DJ Chuang:    Wow. Those are phenomenal world-changing ideas. And you’ll notice that if you’re listening on this podcast at normal speed, it sounds like Chris is talking at 1.5 speed, and he does talk very fast, so feel free to rewind and unpack some of his thoughts because they’re pretty dense, and then let’s move into-

Chris Lim:    I’ll speak slower, too.

DJ Chuang:    Let’s move into how you’re thinking, in terms of God being the customer, who wants to communicate to his people through scripture ultimately, but perhaps facilitated through technology. Speak to what you’re exploring there.

Chris Lim:    So, I had this thought early in the days of TheoTech, but we haven’t really done much with it. And it was a dream of worldwide Biblical literacy. Just worldwide Biblical literacy. We believe that’s something God desires, and thinking about how does technology play a role in that.

Chris Lim:    Now if you think about language, itself, our ability to communicate. That is a God-given technology. It was there from Adam and Eve, and it’s so amazing that I can create thoughts in your mind just through the sounds that are coming out of my mouth, and that you can track with me. That’s pretty incredible.

DJ Chuang:    Or symbols on the page or a screen.

Chris Lim:    Exactly. And then additional technologies like symbol on a page, on the screen, and everything else like that. Kind of in our present day, we have an abundance of access to scripture in English, at least. Not the multilingual, but in English, everybody can get it for free on the internet, get it on our phones. And so the real challenges of our day, when it comes to Bible scripture engagement, seem to be a couple of things.

Chris Lim:    One is that we have a flood of information, and possibilities, and distractions, and so scripture is very easy to kind of not be a priority that we are actually giving our attention to. We have things like Facebook, which are actually designed to steal our attention for profit, and connect with our friends. But, you know, it’s the talons intentionally designed to capture that, and take it away maybe from scripture, and the kind of deep engagement of scripture that’s necessary to really benefit from it.

Chris Lim:    We also have other things like the fact that we don’t really practice the scriptures. So we might read it just for knowledge, or study, or curiosity but we’re not operationalizing it, and it was always meant to be operationalized. And so that’s where technology might do something unique in our present time. So these are just some brainstorming ideas of opportunities for technology to make a huge difference when it comes to scripture engagement.

Chris Lim:    And so, I tend to think about making God your customer does end up making you a leader. We’re not just trying to follow the market. We’re not just trying to follow the fact that everybody’s attention is being captured by Instagram, Facebook. “We have to go there now, we have to go here now, we have to do this now.” It’s a factor in what we’re thinking about.

Chris Lim:    But what we know from scripture is that what God desires is the obedience of faith among the nations. And that the scriptures were meant actually be practiced, right. That’s what’s kind of special about our opportunity here.

DJ Chuang:    I can think of a verse Jesus that said after His resurrection, “That we are to make disciples of all nations, or all nationalities, or in the cities. To baptize them, and to teach them to obey all that He is commanding.”

DJ Chuang:    That second part often gets left out. And I think that’s what you’re referring to when you say operationalized.

Chris Lim:    That’s exactly. That’s what I mean by operationalize. And that’s what I think of, it’s like worldwide Biblical literacy 2.0, because everybody already has access to, for English speaking at least, everybody does have access to the printed text, and to the digital text.

Chris Lim:    It’s not an issue of that kind of access. The challenges that we face are how do we actually live into, and obey this in communities of practice and in our individual lives? So, this is all brainstorming again, and I’m just talking our future of-

DJ Chuang:    Well, we want to create the space to have those conversations so that others can join in and build on ideas like this.

Chris Lim:    That would be wonderful. So, I’ll give you some prototype ideas that we did experiment with, but never really shipped. So, one thing that we did, people on the podcast probably, if they work, they are familiar with performance reviews, and in a performance review, your peers give you feedback about your core competencies. Like are you good at coding? What is the quality of the code you produce? And, are you able to work with your colleagues? That kind of feedback.

Chris Lim:    And the goal there, at least when I was at Amazon, is to help create leaders, right. That you have these leadership principles and you’re trying to hold each other accountable to, and when you practice them, are rewarded by the performance review system. And one thing that has happened in Christian history, and it’s not anew, you just take Ignacio’s, the Catholic tradition, and the prayer of examine. Kind of, right, where people are examining at the end of the day and the beginning of the day, their own spiritual life.

Chris Lim:    One thing that’s, I think, technology could do that we tried to prototype was, we took some texts like the fruit of the spirit, we took some texts like qualities that I Peter says that “If you practice these you will never stumble. You will never fall.” And made them into almost a performance review thing, where on a regular basis, you can just examine your life and consider to what degree this fruit is being produced, or to what degree I’m practicing this quality that Peter says if I practice I won’t fall and I won’t be fruitless.

Chris Lim:    And through the regular practice of that end, up operationalizing the scriptures, which it was meant to be for. And so, now it’s no longer just having to be, “Oh, I heard a convincing sermon this one Sunday.” Or, “My time of prayer resulted in this thing.” It like actually the scriptures are kind of like effecting our life and intentionally being molded to change us, right. It’s like looking in the mirror that James says. We’re actually paying very close attention to the mirror. To see like, “Okay, what is my life aligned with? The kind of character that God is intending for me to reflect Christ.”

Chris Lim:    And it’s this very scripture-driven way, it’s not just an ambiguous value system, but it’s like, here’s what the scriptures wrote themselves say, that the fruit of the spirit is like. And so, that’s something that you can do personally as a discipline. Anybody could do this because they have the texts and they can do this. But it’s also something where I see technology could help, right.

Chris Lim:    Because we are distracted, something as simple as having it on your calendar to do a Christian, not performance review, maybe grace review. I don’t know what we want to call it. But having that time on your calendar where you’re like, “Okay, let’s now take a moment to look in the mirror, consider the scriptures, and where I’m bearing fruit the way God wants, where I’m lacking, and what can be changed, so that I can produce more of the qualities and fruit that the Lord himself says He wants.”

Chris Lim:    So, for me, that’s what it would look like to innovate in this space. Is thinking through how do we press the scriptures further than just, “Oh, everybody has access to it in their pocket, or on the internet.” Or just like getting their attention by, “Oh, look at a little clip that had a verse. Or, I read the verse of the day.” But pressing it in further and deeper into our lives the way our smartphones are so embedded in our lives nowadays, so that it is shaping us. It is kind of renewing our mind. And we’re trying to refit according to and be renewed according to, what God’s calling us to do.

DJ Chuang:    Let me contrast what you’re describing. So it’s not a reading plan, where people are just reading the text. There are very good tools out there for reading the text, maybe even reading through the whole Bible in a year. There are good technologies being applied to Bible translation. So there are about 6,000 languages in the world. 4,500 are in process of translation already. There’s another 1,500 or so that technology can accelerate that translation.

DJ Chuang:    But what you’re describing is a bit more of, how do we discern, evaluate, or measure our own spiritual growth in fruit? Now, in doing that, it sounds like a self-evaluation quiz. And we have our own limitation of seeing who we are by ourselves. We also have blank spots, and so how do you think this concept would apply in the sense of a community so that you get feedback from other people that are speaking to your life?

Chris Lim:    That’s a fantastic question because even in the process of evaluation, I wanted to be very careful because we want to think it through the way that God does things. And I don’t think God does evaluations, according to the way we as humans do, necessarily, okay. There’s something about God’s grace that is transformative about how we do the evaluation. It’s not the same as a performance review at a company, right. God has an objective, and for those that have the Holy Spirit in them, that objective is going to be fulfilled without fail.

Chris Lim:    That’s the amazing news of God’s grace, is that despite all of our failures, and our sins, and everything like that, somehow God’s grace abounds even more in order to produce in us the character of Christ so that we become like Christ. So there’s something about self-evaluation in the Christian theological context that I think is really hopeful. It’s not a time to be guilty, and to beat yourself up, or to try to be perfect about it either. It’s just that it’s a way that you’re listening to God. And really saying, “What does God really want out of my life?” That’s the big question that we’re asking, right, and that’s what we’re trying to see, are we living into what God’s calling us to.

Chris Lim:    So in light of that then, the community aspect isn’t really the same thing as an accountability group. I’ve been in accountability groups, and it’s been like, “Man, I looked at porn this week. I messed up. Okay, let’s pray for each other,” and that’s it. There’s no real sense of like, “Here’s God’s calling and gifting your life, how do we unleash that, and these other things are hindrances that we’re going to try to work on so that you can bear fruit for the gospel.”

Chris Lim:    That’s really the big deal. That’s the big goal to serve that vocational discernment, following the Holy Spirit, and then using our gifts to bear fruit in the Kingdom wherever God sends us.

DJ Chuang:    I like that. Fruit-oriented, rather than failure-oriented.

Chris Lim:    Absolutely.

DJ Chuang:    Hey, those are alliterations. Preachers will like that.

Chris Lim:    It’s a great alliteration, you should use that. And so when it comes to this concept of community-based scripturing, I don’t yet know what it will look like in concrete form, right. But there’s certainly room for a 360-degree evaluation, which is like, “Hey, DJ. You know me well enough, love your feedback, but am I speaking the truth in love, or did you feel like I was passive aggressive?” And maybe I held back from you, and that’s not good. That’s not a kingdom.

DJ Chuang:    Well, I think, to riff off your thought there, to be a fruit-oriented approach to speak into someone’s life, and call out a potential in a scene were God’s working, that perhaps, there’s a way of celebrating, “Hey, I see God working in you, Chris, in these and these ways, and this situation.”

Chris Lim:    Yes.

DJ Chuang:    And that can propel us forward toward responding to God’s grace working in our lives and how we are seeing-

Chris Lim:    Yes, that’s fantastic. And the technology can help with this because the tighter we can close that feedback loop, of we, hear scripture, we’re practicing it, and we get the feedback loop. Even if it’s not coming from the world, but like our brothers and sisters in Christ saying, “You know, it didn’t work. But guess what, you were faithful to what God called you to do.” That’s fantastic. Affirming that, right.

Chris Lim:    The tighter we close that feedback loop, you end up with a flywheel. That concept of the momentum is building up, and you just can’t get enough of it. You want to obey more and more of whatever God calls you to, right. And the flywheels keep spinning off, and picks up more and more energy, more fruit, you end up with a virtuous cycle.

Chris Lim:    So, I love that thing you added, which is the opportunity for us to affirm one another in the way that God’s grace is bearing fruit in our lives.

DJ Chuang:    Yes, and that’s kinda the ideas that we want to provide a space for, and to share, and to allow us to build on ideas that build on ideas. And then at the right time, God will begin to bear fruit. Have it be, some of you will water, some of you will harvest, and we can celebrate together.

DJ Chuang:    I apologize for the noise. We’re at the Seattle Cedarbrook Lodge for the Bible Tech Conference. It’s day one of two. And Chris is dropping by, to hang out, and talk with us on Future.Bible. And, unfortunately, you couldn’t be here for the whole conference.

Chris Lim:    Yes, but I’m really glad I got to hang out. And there’s one thing, I don’t know if you were trying to wrap up, but there’s one thing I wanted to say.

DJ Chuang:    Yes.

Chris Lim:    One more thing. One more thing.

DJ Chuang:    I know you mentioned like you have two or three prototypes, so. We have time for one more.

Chris Lim:    Oh, this is not a prototype this is more like a comment. It’s something I noticed. I’m a millennial, and in my church and stuff, I have friends who are around my generation and age group, and younger. And I have noticed that many people actually are not engaged with scripture, even when they go to church. They get the liturgy, they do scripture and worship, of course. But they’re influenced more by other books, or their work, their homework, their schoolwork, and then whatever.

Chris Lim:    And one plot that came to my mind from my conversations with them, was that I think that there’s a misconception, that when you read the Bible, you have to understand what it says right away. And it’s discouraging, because it’s a pretty big book with so many different genres, and if people dive into it, a lot of stuff won’t make sense.

Chris Lim:    And so you just be like, “I got nothing out of it. I’m going to give up.” But I think that if people viewed it a little bit more like going to the gym, or something like that, where they realized like, “You did 10 push-ups today, and that was all you could do. You do it again the next day, you do it again the next day. Eventually, you can do 15, 20, 50, 100. You don’t see the results immediately, but you know that as you consistently put in the effort into it, eventually, those muscles start developing, and you see progress over the long term.”

Chris Lim:    And so what I’m encouraging young people to do is like, read the Bible, even if it’s only one verse a day. Or, if you brush your teeth in the morning and brush your teeth at night, you could just read something while you’re doing that. But consistently make your way through it, even if it’s only like one verse at a time, but in order, so it still has context. And what happens is that, after the first year or whatever like that, you may not have gotten anything out of it, but you still did it.

Chris Lim:    And then the concepts start connecting, and then allusions start forming to, “Oh, Yes. I remember that other thing,” and then they start forming into bigger structures of meaning in your mind, into the bigger narrative. And over time, you get to the point where you become completely literate. Now you know your way around, you can navigate your way around inside the texts. And more than that, you can even start to predict what the authors are going to write before you even read that part of the what they said. And that’s a good sign that the scriptures are being embedded into your way of thinking, into your mind.

Chris Lim:    You have the genre now, you know what the profits about to say. You know what to expect when they talk about injustice, immorality, idolatry, and all that stuff, and you get bigger concepts that hold that meaning together. And so, I want to encourage people, who if they struggle with Bible reading, don’t feel guilty about it. But if you can make it something like brushing your teeth, and consistently go through the scriptures over time, you will see the benefit of it.

Chris Lim:    And you’ll get the joy more and more, it becomes another flywheel, as the meaning starts forming in your mind, and you start to see it apply to so many other parts of real life because you’ve meditated on the texts consistently. Then you get the feedback loop, but it takes time. It’s like going to the gym. If you give up to soon, then Yes, you’re not going to see the results, and it felt like it wasn’t worth it.

DJ Chuang:    That’s a great thought. And there’s something about the Lord’s Prayer that talks about give us our daily bread. And that we are to not only live by bread alone but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. So there’s something in just reading the word, or hearing the word, that will take effect over time. As we continue to-

DJ Chuang:    Thanks for the encouragement. Some of our viewers and listeners would want to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Chris Lim:    Yes, you can email me at Chrislim, C-H-R-I-S-L-I-M, @TheoTech.org, T-H-E-O-T-E-C-H-dot-O-R-G. And I’m also on Twitter @meritandgrace M-E-R-I-T-A-N-D-G-R-A-C-E. And those are probably the two easiest ways to connect with me personally. You can also find our TheoTech Facebook page and like it, and other ways like that.

DJ Chuang:    And we’ll add the links in the show notes.

Chris Lim:    Fantastic.

DJ Chuang:    So that you can one-click through those things, but wanted to just give you an audible on what that would sound and look like. Well, thank you for listening and watching this episode of The Future.Bible podcast. Please like us and rate on iTunes so that others can join this conversation as we talk about the intersection of the Bible and technology. Let’s create the future together and remember to be a blessing because God’s blessed us so richly. Bye, bye

HIGHLIGHTS:

03:18 we’re working on right now is a program called spf.io, which provides real-time translation and captioning for events. But really the big dream, the way that it serves our customers’ interests, is that we believe that God’s Kingdom is incomplete without people who are deaf, are blind, people who can speak many languages.

And so, we’re inventing this technology to make it possible for churches to welcome people in every language. People can just come on their phone, pick their language, get a translation. And then that brings our witness to God’s Kingdom through our local gatherings. And so, that’s spf.io, S-P-F-dot-I-O, and it’s the big push that we’re doing.

We’re working on something for Pentecost. To make that, to make Pentecost a big deal. To make it a thing. It should be like Easter. It should be like Christmas. We should be so excited about the gift of the Holy Spirit and what it means for the nations.

04:12 So Ceaseless started as this idea of like, “Hey, I have a hard time praying. I’m always praying for myself. I’m a pretty selfish person, but I know God wants me to pray for other people. And so what if I could build programs that help me to pray for others instead of myself?”

That’s really where Ceaseless came from. And eventually, we built a prototype and stuff like that. And I had about 70 friends who signed up to get an email of their Facebook friends, through their Facebook friends, to pray for every morning. And after a few months, we prayed for more than 20,000 people, just the 70 of us. So if you’re part of a small church of like 70 people, your relationship footprint is enormous.

And for us, it took time to discern this, but with that principle of saying, “God is the customer,” I began to realize something. I realized from 1 Timothy 2, that the apostle Paul told us to pray for all people, especially those in power. And the reason why is that God desires all people to be saved.” So if my customer wants that, and has already specified the way that desire is to be expressed, through the prayers of God’s people for every person on Earth.

07:12 Now if you think about language, itself, our ability to communicate. That is a God-given technology. It was there from Adam and Eve, and it’s so amazing that I can create thoughts in your mind just through the sounds that are coming out of my mouth, and that you can track with me. That’s pretty incredible.

09:13 We also have other things like the fact that we don’t really practice the scriptures. So we might read it just for knowledge, or study, or curiosity but we’re not operationalizing it, and it was always meant to be operationalized. And so that’s where technology might do something unique in our present time. So these are just some brainstorming ideas of opportunities for technology to make a huge difference when it comes to scripture engagement.

And so, I tend to think about making God your customer does end up making you a leader. We’re not just trying to follow the market. We’re not just trying to follow the fact that everybody’s attention is being captured by Instagram, Facebook. “We have to go there now, we have to go here now, we have to do this now.” It’s a factor in what we’re thinking about.

But what we know from scripture is that what God desires is the obedience of faith among the nations. And that the scriptures were meant actually be practiced, right. That’s what’s kind of special about our opportunity here.

10:48 One thing that’s, I think, technology could do that we tried to prototype was, we took some texts like the fruit of the spirit, we took some texts like qualities that I Peter says that “If you practice these you will never stumble. You will never fall.” And made them into almost a performance review thing, where on a regular basis, you can just examine your life and consider to what degree this fruit is being produced, or to what degree I’m practicing this quality that Peter says if I practice I won’t fall and I won’t be fruitless.

14:36 That’s the amazing news of God’s grace, is that despite all of our failures, and our sins, and everything like that, somehow God’s grace abounds even more in order to produce in us the character of Christ so that we become like Christ. So there’s something about self-evaluation in the Christian theological context that I think is really hopeful. It’s not a time to be guilty, and to beat yourself up, or to try to be perfect about it either. It’s just that it’s a way that you’re listening to God. And really saying, “What does God really want out of my life?” That’s the big question that we’re asking, right, and that’s what were trying to see, are we living into what God’s calling us to.

So in light of that then, the community aspect isn’t really the same thing as an accountability group. I’ve been in accountability groups, and it’s been like, “Man, I looked at porn this week. I messed up. Okay, let’s pray for each other,” and that’s it. There’s no real sense of like, “Here’s God’s calling and gifting your life, how do we unleash that, and these other things are hindrances that we’re going to try to work on so that you can bear fruit for the gospel.”

15:40 Fruit-oriented, rather than failure-oriented.

18:23 I have noticed that many people actually are not engaged with scripture, even when they go to church. They get the liturgy, they do scripture and worship, of course. But they’re influenced more by other books, or their work, their homework, their schoolwork, and then whatever.

And one plot that came to my mind from my conversations with them, was that I think that there’s a misconception, that when you read the Bible, you have to understand what it says right away. And it’s discouraging, because it’s a pretty big book with so many different genres, and if people dive into it, a lot of stuff won’t make sense.

And so you just be like, “I got nothing out of it. I’m going to give up.” But I think that if people viewed it a little bit more like going to the gym, or something like that, where they realized like, “You did 10 push-ups today, and that was all you could do. You do it again the next day, you do it again the next day. Eventually, you can do 15, 20, 50, 100. You don’t see the results immediately, but you know that as you consistently put in the effort into it, eventually, those muscles start developing, and you see progress over the long term.”

And so what I’m encouraging young people to do is like, read the Bible, even if it’s only one verse a day. Or, if you brush your teeth in the morning and brush your teeth at night, you could just read something while your doing that. But consistently make your way through it, even if it’s only like one verse at a time, but in order, so it still has context. And what happens is that, after the first year or whatever like that, you may not have gotten anything out of it, but you still did it.


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