Identity, Purpose, and Belonging with Joe Elliott Founder of Catalyst Collective [Podcast 33]

Joe Elliott knew that he needed to do something different if he were to reach young adults. During a brain-storming session with several other youth pastors, many great ideas rose to the surface. But they all knew that if they began doing much of what they put down on paper, they all would get fired.

But Joe was in the right place at the right time to begin applying some of the ideas. Out of that the Catalyst Collective was born.

Joe is married, the father of three children, a dreamer, motivator, connector, and speaker. I look forward to you hearing from him.

Here is the interview on His Hands His Feet:

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Why Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground

If you are a Christian who goes to church all the time, who not only loudly sings worship songs at church but also always has your radio or Pandora tune into worship channels, who loves to read books and commentaries to learn more about God, who strives to always follow God’s laws and to honor Him—this is for you.

I bet you are a person who always asks, “What is the right thing to do?”, and you want God on your side.

This is for you especially if you strive to live life like this, but you wonder with bewilderment why your prayers go unanswered, and if your prayers even get off the ground.

You wonder if God even notices you.

God gave Isaiah a word several thousand years ago and it is recorded in Isaiah 58 (one of my favorite chapters that I to define my walk with God).

As it says in Isaiah 58, here is why our prayers often don’t get off the ground:

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Warning: Your Possessions Own You

When Danielle and I returned from living in Thailand for six months, we swore to not let the American consumer culture pull us back into its vortex. Those six months in Thailand showed us that our possessions didn’t dictate our happiness level. I think we unknowingly went through a six month detox.

When we moved back to America, a window of opportunity existed. We easily could have sold everything we owned and moved back to Thailand. In fact we planned on that. But God had a different plan, and we remained in the U.S.

Ten years after living in Thailand an honest self analysis tells me that I have not been very successful at avoiding the consumeristic mindset.

Here are some results of my self analysis:

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When You Feel Like Tapping Out

3 Ways to Stay in the Game

I am one of the many who watches a LOT of basketball this time of year. I enjoy seeing teams play well together, the cinderella stories, and buzzer beaters.

If you watch team sports, especially basketball or football, you probably have seen a player tap the top of his head or look over to the sideline and raise his hand. He is signaling to his coach that he wants out of the game.

In today’s up-tempo style of playing, this is common. It’s definitely a different approach to the game from a generation or two ago when players stayed in the game for longer stints. In football, some even played both defense and offense.

It isn’t that the players are giving up or don’t want to play anymore. They just need a breather or a short rest. But some do “tap out” because they feel defeated or want out of the game.

An athlete though has put in hours of preparation to play in the game. If they were to give up, it would mean that they were not fulfilling their purpose.

But what about life? Do we ever want to tap out? I don’t mean for good. I mean, do we tap out of what God’s purpose or mission is for our life because we are tired, discouraged, or feel defeated?

Can I let you in on something?

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5 Ways Having A Purpose Gives You Confidence

Do you ever feel like you are aimlessly wandering through life? Do you struggle making decisions, both big and small? Odds are you do. A lot of people do.

I introduce my podcast episodes stating that everyone has a God-given mission or purpose. I really do believe that. Every single person created, whether they believe in God or not, has a purpose for being on this planet. It is a lie from the enemy of God that some people don’t have a reason for being alive.

So why is it so hard for us to know what that purpose or mission is?

The thing I learned about God is that He rarely forces His plan on us. Unless your name is Jonah getting swallowed by a giant fish, or Saul/Paul falling down blind on the road to Damascus, God patiently works with us, nudging us, sometimes waiting for us to be ready for His plan for our lives.

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Where Does Generosity Come From?

How often do you not give to help another person because you don’t have any “extra”? I put that in quotes because for most of us what we consider extra is subjective.

Several years ago I was with a small team from our church doing some work in the Texas valley. The little town of Progreso sits about 1 mile from the border of Texas and Mexico. A family’s house had burned down months before and stood vacant. No one had worked on the house. I imagine the emotional pain cut deep paralyzing them. They also didn’t have the money to do the work. So our team helped them tear down the burnt out house so at least they could remove the hazard.

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Do You Know How to “Be With” Others Well?

I am the classic introvert. I can ride or drive for hours without saying a word except, “Do you need to stop?” It’s not that I don’t like people. But I get lost in my thoughts and even can feel interrupted if you talk to me.

I have improved some, but sometimes I have to purposefully interact with others. It just doesn’t come natural. God, with his sense of humor and, I expect, out of His loving desire to help me grow, first gave me an expressive wife, then years later, a son who wakes up talking until the moment his eyes close with sleep at night.

Being with. A simple phrase, but how well are we at “being with” other people? It’s a lot more than simply talking to them, acknowledging them, or even tolerating them.

Here are three ways we can “be with” someone well:

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How Embracing the Presence of God Will Make Life Better

15 Promises Manifested by God's Presence

God’s presence honestly perplexes me. I both want His presence and am afraid of it at the same time.

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How God handles His presence reflects His complex nature. On one hand He presides in a Holy and lofty place. On the other hand He resides with the lowly and contrite in spirit.

Our mishandling of God’s presence can incinerate us yet we also can’t escape His presence. Wherever I flee, He is there.

God is set apart from us yet He resides within us if we allow Him.

A big word that describes God’s presence is Omnipresent meaning that God is always present without any exception. As I said, we can’t escape His presence. For some this creates intense discomfort. But for those who embrace His omnipresence it brings many promises.

These are 15 promises that manifest with God’s presence.

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Is There Something In Your Life That You Need to Get Rid of?

Sometimes You Have to Dig It Out by the Roots

We had the same plant growing in every flower bed in our yard. The previous owners of our home apparently liked this plant. Even though it’s a pretty plant with either pink or purple petunia-like flowers that bloom each day, it’s incredibly invasive. It grows thick and tall, choking out or dwarfing the other plants in the bed.

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So Danielle and I decided to remove most of the plants. I took a sharpshooter shovel and started digging in a flower bed in the front of the house. I quickly learned that the plant’s roots were tubular traveling underground with many plants growing from each cluster of roots.

We moved to the backyard flower beds, and we decided for the easier, quicker method—cut the plants off at ground level. We just wanted the flower beds to look better.

Both methods worked and the flower beds looked neat and uncluttered. For a few weeks anyway. Then it began to rain. And rain. One day I looked into the backyard and guess what I saw. The plants were growing again like crazy. I think they were growing back even thicker.

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Have We Changed What It Means to Be a Disciple?

3 Ways We Have Lowered the Bar for Discipleship

When I say “We” I refer to the church. I count myself in that clan. I grew up going to church every Sunday. Our family attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other time something was going on at the church.

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That wasn’t a negative thing for me. It was my extended family. We did a lot of life together with other families. Many Godly men and women influenced my life in positive ways.

Looking back I recognize something that has become engrained in today’s church culture. It’s the idea that once a person “prays a prayer” of salvation, the job is complete. Now just keep hanging around the church, and you will be okay.

I prayed a “prayer of salvation” at the age of seven. I have a Bible with the date written in my seven-year-old handwriting in the front cover. I found the Bible on my bookshelf. Take a look!

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