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Acts 15 has a statement that I think should be engraved on the cornerstone of our church: “We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:13). Far too often, usually without realizing it, Christians drift away from grace and start creating personalized rules to test who is “really” Christian. These aren’t usually bad things, but when outward benchmarks replace inward transformation, we risk turning the grace of the gospel into a whole host of laws. And when we do that, we make it difficult for those who are turning to God.

Here are a three ways that folks in church often make it difficult for those who are turning to God:

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College students are always asking what God’s will is for their life. And the closer they get to graduating, the louder that question gets. There are two ways to hear that question. You can hear it as a heart seeking after the idol of certainty and security—and using God to do it. Or you can hear it as young people legitimately desiring to serve God with their talents.

Knowing my own tendency to seek after idols, I’m sure a lot of students fall into that first category. But on the whole, I choose to hear this question the second way. It thrills me to think of the 116,000 college students here in RDU, many of whom are sincerely asking, “How do I discover my calling? Where can I leverage my gifts for God’s kingdom?”

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As we’ve watched the events in Ferguson unfold, I (J.D.) have honestly been unsure exactly how to respond (as I’ll explain below). We have talked about it among our pastoral team and prayed as a church. But after talking with Chris Green, Sam Fisher, and Chuck Reed, three African-American pastors at our church, and Jerome Gay, one of our African-American church planters, I wanted to go ahead now and put before you a few thoughts that I hope might guide your thinking, Summit Church, in the gospel as you process this. Chris Green has helped out immensely in helping to process this.

First, meet Adon (age 4), son of J.D., and Caleb (age 13), son of Chris Green:

Adon 2014 Caleb 2014

Let us suggest four guiding principles as we approach this situation:

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