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Author, Better Together, Bethany House 2018

Lead Pastor, Real Life Church, Valencia, CA with over 6,000 people on 3 campuses

Conference speaker

Wife: Lorrie

3 daughters

Related Topics

Our culture is obsessed with selfies.  The selfie stick is so popular but has been banned in some public places due to injuries.  We are all guilty being slightly narcissistic, especially when scanning a group photo and looking for ourselves.  “Our selfie world is not just about the stick or the pic,” he says.  “Its about our state of mind…we are lonelier than ever.”  The Bible tells us to “die to self” or bring every thought under subjection to Christ and allow His Spirit to manifest fruit in us.  “Sometimes I feel like I’m even more consumed with me when I’m so focused on trying to die to me,” says Rusty.  

Rusty, a self-proclaimed introvert, recently found himself in a place of spiritual exhaustion.  His life was filled with disappointments.  “Because of my introversion, I thought, ‘Forget it’,” says Rusty.  “I thought, I can do better on my own.  No one gets me.”  He started focusing on himself but became emptier than he had ever been.  He sought counseling, worked on his physical health, yet still he felt stuck. Even his devotions were focused on himself.  “I picked up devotionals promising to renew joy and facilitate closeness with God,” says Rusty.  Still something was missing.  Then one day, he realized: in all of the work to fix himself, he had lost himself.  “The scriptures are written to a plural you, not an individual you,” he says.  “It means we need each other to accentuate the positive and strengthen the weakness in each other.”  At the peak of this frustration, Rusty met with a fellow pastor who told Rusty about a recent pain in his life.  After the friend shared his story, Rusty felt strangely better.  “Life is better lived together -- especially in our pain.”

Once Rusty and his family went camping with another church family who lent them an RV.  “I hate camping,” Rusty says.  That night, the kids went to bed and Rusty and Lorrie assured the kids they were right outside the front door around a campfire.  Soon they heard footsteps in the RV.  The kids started banging on the side of the camper yelling, “Help, help! We need help!” Rusty and Lorrie ran to the RV and opened the door.  The kids fell out crying.  “Why would you leave us alone, especially in times like these?” they cried.  Lorrie reassured the kids that the door was unlocked.  “No it wasn’t! We didn’t know how to get out!” they said.  As much as Rusty and Lorrie tried to convince the girls that the door was unlocked, the girls were convinced they had been locked in.  “I realized the girls weren’t the only ones in a self-imposed prison.  I had convinced myself that because of my disdain for camping, I was unable to have fun.  All of us are trapped in a self-imposed prison of isolation while we complain about being alone.  But the door is locked from the inside,” he says.  The key to breaking out of the prison of isolation is to admit we need others.  Rusty reminds us that Scripture says it is not good for us to be alone.  “We must come to a place where we embrace the need for others in order to be our true selves,” he says.  Since we were created in God’s image, we were created for community.  Rusty says God didn’t create us because He was lonely.  He created us because He wanted us.  “We are truly better together.”  

When Rusty’s youngest daughter was 6, she decided she was ready to be on her own.  “Apparently the rules at Prison George were too strict,” he says.  She wrote a note: I am running away from home. You have been mean to me my whole life.  I will miss you. Love Sidney P.S. I’ll be at the Young’s.  Rusty says the best part of that note was her admission of where she would be.  “We get mad at people, get frustrated with our family and our co-workers drive us crazy, but in most cases we beg them not to leave us alone!” The Bible states, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God,” (Hebrews 4:16); “Let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28); “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

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