Monday, July 30, 2012

Money Possessions and Eternity (Part 2)

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Luke 16:13)

In this second installment of "Money Possessions and Eternity" we will look at a little more of what Mr. Randy Alcorn has to say. Today I ask these questions: 

What spiritual effect does money have on your life? 

What impact does your money have on your day-to-day living?

"Jesus clearly said that we can and should use money for good purposes, both for this life and the next. Human hearts can be redeemed by Christ, and in the hands of the redeemed, money can serve redemptive purposes." (Money Possessions and Eternity pg. 18)

Just as the only saying goes, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people", we could also posit that "Money does not cause sin/selfishness etc, people cause those things." Yes, it doesn't help, but in the end it is a matter of our heart and what we choose to do.

"To regard money as evil, and therefore useless for purposes of righteousness, is foolish. To regard it as good and therefore overlook its potential for spiritual disaster is equally foolish. Use it, Jesus said, but don't serve it." (pg. 19)

The Bible also consistently warns us to not be foolish. Proverbs urges us many times to consider this:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov 1:7)

"Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (Prov 26:12)

"The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult." (Prov 12:16)

Foolishness is greatly discouraged by Solomon and (obviously) by God. As Mr. Alcorn puts it to say dealing with money is a black and white issue is foolish. Money has the potential to be dangerous, but only if we allow that to happen. Money has equally great potential to be incredibly helpful to God's kingdom and to our lives.

"Once we allow money to have lordship over our lives, it becomes Money with a capital M, a god that jealously dethrones all else. Money makes a terrible master, yet it makes a good servant to those who have the right master - God." (pg. 19)

Exodus 20 very plainly states that we are to have no other gods before the truth God. We can turn money into our god and this is very, very dangerous.

Furthermore Mr. Alcorn takes the idea of material wealth not being inherently evil a step further:
"Do we imagine Jesus using his bare hands to cut wood, or can we assume he used the best affordable tools in his carpentry? And if our Lord were living in today's society, wouldn't he take advantage of the current technology in his trade? Would he abstain from using power saws, believing that handsaws are more spiritual? would he hesitate to travel in a car any more than he did a boat? would he avoid using a microphone even if it would allow the crowds to hear him better? It would be disastrous if every believer dropped out of society's mainstream and stopped making money." (pg. 26)

I encourage you to consider these words very carefully. Examine your heart and ask yourself these questions:

Do I think about my money incessantly?

Do I worry about how much or how little money I have every day?

I think it wise to consider materialism and make sure that we aren't obsessed with wealth or possessions. There is SO much more to life. Yes, wealth is not a bad thing if used correctly, but wealth should not be our only goal. We must allow wealth (or lack of wealth) to be a slave to us, and us its master. We must not be a slave to wealth. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vessels of Wrath

At some point in all our lives we have had that scenario where we wished someone would just die. Or we wished that someone would be hurt because of the harm they have done to us or to someone else. Indeed, just this last week in the Colorado shooting I found myself thinking time and time again, "That man deserves to die. No trial. No court. Just death. He deserves it."

I have been thinking, however, and have come to the conclusion that this is absolutely false. This is a sinful mindset and a dangerous one. No one "deserves to die" because of a sin they commit. Because the truth of the matter is this: We ALL deserve to die. Every one of us is just as sinful as the man who chose to take the lives of those people. Every one of us has done wrong. I live off the premise that sin is absolutely not relative. Sure there are sinful actions that have greater consequences, but a sin is still a sin no matter the size.
But I would like to ask this question: What is the proper response to the Colorado shooting?

Certainly we can rule out anger, hatred, harsh words. Anything that would cause US to sin is the wrong response.

However, after many a political argument and a conversation with one of my brothers on the subject, I have also discovered that the wrong response is to say there should have been more guns. We needn't get into a huge argument about why there weren't more guns, saying that if there had been less blood would have been spilled. Because here are the facts: There weren't more guns there.

The response should be this: Why wasn't Jesus there? This may seem weird at first but hear me out. The only true way to have stopped the shooting would have been if that man, the shooting, had had a personal relationship with Jesus. If that man was a Christian and lived a life to glorify God then none of that would have happened.

So the real question is, why wasn't there anyone in that man's life to point him to God? This should be sobering for us as Christians. Are we really trying? Are we really reaching out not to the 3rd world countries, not to the homeless, but to those who are living next door? Those who have degrees and are working toward PhD's. Those who have plenty of money and are simply wasting away their lives. Yes, mission trips are fantastic, but not if the person 5 feet away from us at school is lost!

At the same time we can ask this question: What message was God trying to send through that shooting? We can look through the Bible and see countless times when God brought fire upon evil doers. But this shooting was not against evil doers, in fact many Christians were significantly harmed by this!

I find the redeeming qualities to this tragedy as this: God showed us that

1) We need to reach out to our neighbors now more than ever. We need to spread the Gospel, the good news to everyone we can. We must be ever vigilant in speaking to those around us about God.

2) Miracles are not a thing of hundreds of years ago, they are a current, active, incredible happening. See the story of Petra Anderson and others. She was born with a birth defect that she and no one around her knew of until the shooting. A defect that saved her life.

sub point 2) God proved that He has formed us before the creation of the world. Before we were in the womb God knew us. God has created us all special for His purpose and glory. He has reached down and handed us physical, current evidence of His power.

So by sending this Vessel of Wrath. This man that caused terror and shocked the core of our nation, God showed His almighty glory. Equate this to Pharaoh in Egypt and the Israelites. For years and years God used the Vessel of Wrath, the evil dictator of Egypt to teach God's people many valuable lessons. And in the end God proved His awesome glory and might by destroying the man who tortured His people.

God uses horrific situations in mighty ways. We simply need to look deeper than the surface and see what He is trying to teach us. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Money Possessions and Eternity (Part 1)

Wealth. Money. Riches. How often do we think to ourselves, "If I only had a million dollars!" Or... "If only I could have more money!" I know I have many, many times. If I had a money tree in my backyard life would be SO much easier! Pay bills, buy food, purchase a car, move on. Not have to worry about finances at all. In my mind I see this as an absolute plus. If I don't have to think about money then I can think about other things.

I've been reading a book that you should definitely read, and I'll be using it to talk about the Biblical response to Wealth/Money.

The book is: "Money Possessions and Eternity" by Randy Alcorn

The words he wrote down in this book really convicted me but also allowed my entire perspective on money to change. Hopefully I can do the same for you:

"What follows are Solomon's statements in Ecclesiastes 5:10-15. The italicized paraphrases after each statement are mine.

'Whoever loves money never has money enough.'
The more you have, the more you want.

'Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.'
The more you have, the less you're satisfied.

'As goods increase, so do those who consume them.'
The more you have, the more people (including the government) come after it.

'And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?'
The more you have, the more you realize it doesn't meet your real needs.

'The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.'
The more you have, the more you have to worry about.

'I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner.'
The more you have, the more you can hurt yourself by holding onto it.

'Or wealth lost through some misfortune.'
The more you have, the more you have to lose.

'Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.'
The more you have, the more you'll leave behind.

After his years as the world's richest man, Solomon said, 'When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun' (Ecclesiastes 2:11). The more Solomon had, the more meaningless his life became. Most people chase their mirages with money, but they run out of money before they run out of mirages. So they still believe the lie that 'If only I had more money, then I'd be happy.' But Solomon had it all. He had more money than he could possibly spend. He chased down every mirage. He ran out of mirages before he ran out of money."

-- Money Possessions and Eternity (Page 49)
Randy Alcorn

I plan to post much more in the future from this book, and my thoughts on Alcorn's words. Here is simply a taste, an introduction. That wasn't even a full page.

Go get the book.

In conclusion think about these questions today:

Do I seek money over God?
Do I consider money as an "idol" rather than tool?

Look ahead to some of my posts being additional parts to this concept of wealth and money. Alcorn has a lot to say on the topic and so do I.

God bless!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sinless and Holy

Have you ever considered the difference between the words "Sinless" and "Holy"? I had not until just two nights ago. I think it's fascinating and want to share my thoughts with you.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

Sinless: "Free from sin; pure; perfect. Christ yielded a sinless obedience."

Holy: "Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character."

Being sinless is to be without sin. Being Holy is to be incapable of sinful action.

Therefore I would say this: We can definitely work toward being sinless. We can strive to do our best and be sinless. Indeed I'm sure there are some people out there, and people in the past who have been almost sinless. Able by the grace of God to control their hearts and minds and do only as God would want
However, per these definitions I would also posit this: No one on earth, no human being is holy. There is not a single person who is ever "incapable" of sinful action. We are all perfectly capable. But who IS holy? God. God is holy. He is one-hundred percent free from sin, as WELL as absolutely incapable of performing any sinful action.

To me this is truly wonderful. Here's why, if man can attain a certain level of being sinless (never entirely) but God has proven to go above and beyond that to the place of absolute perfect holiness, doesn't that prove how desperately we need Him? Doesn't that prove how God doesn't need us?

At which point I can stand in awe of this thoughts: God has zero reason to need us. He even has perfect Angels to worship Him. He doesn't need us. In fact we just make Him look bad most of the time. Yet He keeps us. He loves us. He takes care of us. He tends to EVERY. Single. One of us. This should hit us right at our core.

To close, here are a few Bible verses for thought:

1st Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"

Romans 8:8-13 "Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Live By Faith

Are any of you as tired as I am of people constantly arguing? What's worse in my opinion is people arguing about Christianity. People who supposedly believe in the same God, the same Bible, the same truths... yet are still arguing over semantics. Yes, I do appreciate a good debate. I do see the "goodness" in stretching your fellow brothers and sisters by having the good talks. But when I hear people arguing over the most frivolous little details it upsets me.

So in this post I would simply like to give one exhortation:

Live by faith. And live with actions that prove your faith.

We don't need to have petty conflicts over differing words in the Bible. We don't need to fight over which commandments are more important. The entirety of the Bible is important. Every single word is needed. But more importantly, we need to just live by faith. We don't have to argue little details when in the end we believe in the same God. If we truly are like-minded in our core principles (The Bible being inerrant and God being the only Creator) then nothing else matters.

The Bible even speaks to this end. I would posit that as people down here fight over little details, He is up in heaven shaking His head and laughing at us for our ignorant behavior. God says we are to live by faith and not by sight (2nd Cor 5). Furthermore God fully emphasizes the fact that we are:

1) Suppose to not fight and to watch what we say in every area of life.

Proverbs 17:14 "The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out."

Matthew 12: 36-37 "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

2) Trust God and not ourselves. And if we trust God and not ourselves then we would trust that the little things in the Bible aren't worth arguing about and rather focus on working together in what matters and that's winning souls for Christ.

Psalm 9:10 "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Isaiah 26:3-4 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal."

The final point I would like to make is this, we must live by faith, but we must also accompany that faith with deeds. I can exhort you to live by faith, I can say forget all the nonsense and just live by faith, but that is not enough. We must help others, we must speak to others in a loving manner, we must encourage and love everyone around us. We cannot have this selfish Christianity that says, "Well I'm living by faith I don't know about all of you but I am so I'm good!" That does NOT work. It is our incredible duty as Christians to spread His Word, to show love and compassion to those in need, and to strive always to live in a manner worthy of God's calling.

I read this chapter from James today and it got me incredibly excited about this topic. The way I see it, what better way to summarize my thoughts on this than from the Bible itself? The words are straight-forward and beautifully written.

What does God have to say on this? Are we to live just by faith? Or are we to have actions that prove our faith?

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

~~ James 2:14-25 ~~

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Truth About Friendship

It's a pretty safe assumption to think that everyone has lost a "bestie" at least once in their life. Some have lost more, some have lost many. It's also safe to say that everyone will let at least one of their friends down this year. Probably even this month. The main pitfall to friendships is that we are all human. We are void of perfection and therefore unable to be the best friend possible one-hundred percent of the time.
In this post I would like to discuss a couple different aspects of friendship.

1) (As already stated) We will fail each other.

2) What will our reaction be when a friend fails us?

3) We don't need to worry about friendship because we always have God.

I think we all understand our fallibility. So let's move to #2. I would like you to take a moment to ponder the question. Consider a time when a friend, a close friend, has failed you. Whether it be something truly horrible or just a small instance. Consider those moments and the time following and think very carefully about what your reaction was to that friend. Was it good or bad? Are you proud of how you reacted?

I encourage you to take to heart the words of the Bible and maybe look at some passages in a different light than you have before.

Matthew 5:43-44 -- "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"

Here's the thing, when someone fails us, and we react poorly, that causes a tension between the two of you. This could start an argument/fight and then suddenly you are "enemies". The word enemy may seem like strong language at first, but if you are really upset at someone then let's face it, you're not on the same side anymore. And if you think enemy in this case is a strong word, then just heed these words:

1 John: 3:15 -- "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."

Yeah... I don't think enemy is too strong a word.

This brings me to my next sub-point: Have you hated your "brother"? In this case I'm meaning both in the familial and the non-familial sense (And yes, this includes sisters). I know I have. I have had the worst feelings for my siblings. Anyone in my family can attest to the fact that I have been enraged by one or more family members in the past.

What's the Bible say to this? According to the verse above I'm a murderer. Thus I have also broken the Ten Commandments in my anger (Exodus 20:13). This should be a very sobering thought for all of us.

Here's another thought. In the family when you are angry or upset it's obvious. The whole family knows you are the one to steer clear of for that day. And it's also usually pretty obvious to whom you wish to take your anger out. But what about when it's directed to someone outside of your home? This is where the conviction should really set in. At least it does for me. I can sit in my room and murder people all day long and no one on this earth will know. The problem? God knows.

Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

Every. Hidden. Thing. So yes, that includes your thoughts. And don't you love the extra push off the edge when it says "Whether it is good or evil". It's as simple as that. We must refrain from evil thoughts, we must cease the murder in our own hearts. We are better than that, and God is certainly more deserving than that.

Let's move onto the final point. We don't need to worry about friendship because we always have God. Any of you out there struggling with friendship? Have any of you had a good friend turn their back on you and just walk away? We will always fail each other. It's ok.

In the end we need to put our money on God. We need to rest our hope and faith in Him and not in other fallible people. God will be there for us through thick and thin. Yes, you'll have a friend or two who will "always" be there for you. But I promise you they will fail you at some point. If they don't downright leave you, they will certainly mess up. But it doesn't matter. Forgive and forget. Move on. Because the truest of friends is God. The One who, "will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I don't want to use the cliche of we "have a friend in Jesus" (The Bible verse at the end covers that). I just want to put it this way. We HAVE Jesus. He died on the cross. He rose from the dead. All for US. We can tell our besties all day long that we would die for them but the reality is that Jesus already did that! He beat us to it.

Can we rely on God more and accept each other for who we really are?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

John 15:12-15

Monday, July 9, 2012

Success and Failure

"Success consists of getting up just one more time than you've fallen down."

I read this quotation today and it got me thinking about success. My first reaction to this saying is that it is false. I would not quantify "Success" as a numbers game compared to "Failure". Being the type of guy that I am I love to define terms. So let's begin with a definition of Success:

"The favorable or prosperous termination of anything attempted; a termination which answers the purpose intended; properly in a good sense, but often in a bad sense." (Webster's 1828)

I absolutely love this definition because of its depth. What we see first is that Success is generally a favorable, positive word. Webster defines it as a prosperous termination. Interestingly, the definition of prosperous is: "The state of being successful" (Webster). Ergo the definition is redundant. I think Webster did this on purpose. He wants to press the fact that we are dealing with a "win".

But a vital question must be asked: do you define your success by your failure? I think I am guilty of having done this before. What is the purpose of saying, "Oh yes, I succeeded because all the other times I failed!" Reminds me of the famous phrase:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." (Edison)

I fear that in this day and age we focus too much on failure and compare that failure to our (or others) success. Let's tie some Bible verses into the beginning quotation. I believe that the Bible speaks against this saying in a few areas. We are not suppose to count our falls. We are not intended to think so much about our failures, but rather focus on the goal. Just so long as we do as God would like, live for His purpose and glory and not for our own glory. For if we do this, we will succeed. They go hand in hand.

Indeed, God even says that those who are righteous, those who do believe in God, will be able to pick themselves up (By God's grace) but the wicked will not.

Proverbs 24:16 -
"For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes."

Furthermore I think it is key to note that the most important thing to do is follow God. Let's use an analogy:

Consider a minefield. One of the deadliest, most dangerous parts of any battlefield. Say you are a soldier, you know in front of you is a mile long mine field. You have two options to choose from:

1) Just go for it. Run. Try to see if you can just get through it without getting killed.

2) There's a minesweeper. You can pick up that minesweeper and carefully pick your way through the field. Sure this will take longer, but you have a incredibly higher chance of not dying.

I'm sure you can see the connection. We have two options to get through life:

1) Just go for it.

2) Accept and use God as our guide.

I don't know about you, but I think I'll go with option 2 in both scenarios.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I would like to posit this conclusion: God will guide us to success. No matter how many "failures" we have. If we lean and live for God. We will succeed. Because we will succeed in what matters. Let's live for God!

"And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him." (1 Samuel 18:14)

"Save us, we pray, O LORD!O LORD, we pray, give us success!" (Psalm 118:25)

Friday, July 6, 2012

What We Believe

In the Debater world there is this philosophy that works off the idea that it doesn't matter what you (as a person) believe, it only matters what the facts state. Now, for debate this is perfectly reasonable, if we tried to have a formal debate about, for example, the Criminal Justice System, then our own personal beliefs on the matter shouldn't be taken into account if the Facts disprove them. If we have empirical studies that prove X number of people are having their rights taken away from them, it is absurd to think someone could come back with, "Well. I believe you are wrong!" And sit down. It doesn't work that way. In this instance, it truly doesn't "matter" what you believe.

Facts are facts.

However, there is another aspect of our lives that the belief is all that matters. Christianity holds its foundation in faith and our belief is vital. Yes facts prove Christianity, yes archeology proves it, but we still must hold our beliefs.

A.W. Tozer once said, "What we believe about God is the most important thing about us."

Hebrews 11:6 reads: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Faith and belief are vital to our walk with Christ. Many times through the Bible we see "Faith" written in accordance with the core of our beliefs.

I do want to point this out though, they are similar but NOT the same. Let's see how:

Webster's 1828 defines them separately as-

Belief: "A persuasion of the truth, or an assent of mind to the truth of a declaration, proposition or alleged fact, on the ground of evidence, distinct from personal knowledge."

Faith: "In theology, the assent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed. Simple belief of the scriptures, of the being and perfections of God."

As we can see here both are known as "an assent of mind". In other words, in both cases your mind agrees. You set yourself in the ways taught to you. You have "assented" to the idea(s).

The difference we see is in the latter part. Belief comes through a "declaration, proposition or alleged fact, on the ground of evidence". To believe you must have evidence. Which if you think about it is fascinating because how many times do we say "I believe" without having proof of said belief? I found this happened quite a few times this year during debate rounds. One debater (even myself on occasion) would say "I believe" this or that and then never prove it with evidence.

How about Faith? The difference with faith lies in the ideal that you see "the truth of what God has revealed". It is specific, pointed to our "Faith", pointed to God. In the end both of these words coincide with each other and both should be held in reverence.

Let's equate this to our current day and age. Many people speak out and say they believe this or that. They say that their faith lies in something other than God. We do not want to be Bible thumpers but we do need to call them out. If you are having a conversation and hear phrases such as those, ask for the evidence. What evidence is there, spiritually or physically to prove their assertions? This is vital to any discussion.

1st Corinthians 15:14-17 Is incredibly powerful and speaks on this issue:

"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (14-17)

Let's look back at the debate analogy. If we state a fact, but do not prove it's truth, it is nothing. It is useless. Just as Paul says, if we have been saying how Christ was raised, if we have been speaking about the resurrection, but it never actually happened, it is useless. Indeed he goes so far as to say our faith is FUTILE (Adj: Incapable of producing any useful result; pointless).

What's the good news? It DID happen. The Resurrection happened, Christ was risen from the dead, those who were dead in sins can now be saved by His cleansing grace. Our faith is NOT futile for we have the evidence, the proof, the facts are on our side. We should go forth boldly for the Gospel knowing that no matter what anyone says, we do have faith. We have belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and when the time comes it will all be proven to be the truth. I exhort you, please do not let slanderous words or deeds weaken your faith. God is on your side.

Romans 8:28-31:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The 4th is tomorrow and the sounds of freedom, liberty and revolution will be echoing across the plains of our great nation. People will be reading words of our Founding Fathers as they celebrate the heroic event wherein just a handful of people chose to sign a document in direct revolt against the Motherland and vow for freedom for the States.

This got me thinking. We have Easter, Reformation Day, Christmas. I suppose Easter would be the closest for a "4th of July" kind of celebration for Christianity. Celebrating Christ's death and resurrection, His denying death its sting and rising once again to be at His Father's right hand. But my question is... where are the Fireworks?

Do you suppose that God looks down from Heaven every 4th of July with a smile? Thinking, "Those American's enjoy their freedom (that I gave them). Celebrating those great men (that I created). And the founding of the nation (that I created). Reading the documents (that I created) through those men (I created)."

It just feels to me like we worship the Founding Fathers on the 4th a little too much. Granted this may not be the case in your circles, but I can guarantee it is across the nation. Shouldn't we hold this day in reverence to the One who created it all? Think about it! God created a handful of men to be born at roughly the same time, and to be sent to the exact same location at the exact same time to all have the heart for Freedom and revolution to all work together and to fight, then sign a document they were all apart of making!

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

So it brings me then to this thought: If as a nation we don't hold much Divine Reverence in the 4th. Yet we celebrate with massive explosions, tons of food, games, etc... What are we doing on Easter?

Yeah... an Egg hunt.


I'm not necessarily advocating we buy up a bunch of mortars and launch them off on Easter (Though... now I think about it that's a fantastic idea), all I'm saying is that we should check our priorities. Tomorrow you will be going to parties, celebrating, shooting off fireworks and having a grand 'ole time. I encourage you to do the following: Remind those around you of the majesty of our Nation, and how none of it, absolutely NONE of it would be here if it were not for God. And then try discussing the "Coincidence" of God creating so many brilliant thinkers and liberty-fighters at the same time so as to create this nation. Let's get talking about the stuff that matters.

The Founders wrote:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Paul wrote:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Christ HAS set us free. God created Franklin, Washington, Jefferson etc to free a nation. but God Himself freed our souls.

Live for freedom!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Outside Looking In

At some point in all our lives we have had those times when we thought, "I REALLY want to be with those people." Or... "I REALLY wish I could go to that."

Do we live lives that cause unbelievers to wish they were apart of the Christian community?

This post serves two purposes, 1) To exhort my fellow believers to "Shine", and 2) To encourage us all to keep fighting the good fight.

I have been sick for the last couple days, and had a lot of time to just sit and think. This morning while I was doing my Bible study the most random song popped into my head. Any of you remember the Album WOW 1996? Yeah... the greatest hits one? What about this song:

Yes you can now proceed to pull out your awesome 90's dance moves. I won't judge you.

As old-school and dated as this song is, it delivers a very true message.

Make 'em wonder what you've got
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored
Let it shine before all men
Let'em see good works, and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord

I ask again, do we live lives that cause this kind of reaction?

Matthew 5:14-16 Parallels this idea: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Not only are we suppose to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord (Col 1:10-14), but we suppose to be an actual Light. We ARE the light of the world. We ARE suppose to shine. Do we shine?

I would like to look at the first verse of "Shine". Now back in the days I didn't really listen to anything but the chorus of this song. So this morning I looked up the lyrics, and this verse really caught my eye:

Dull as dirt
You can't assert the kind of light
That might persuade
A strict dictator to retire
Fire the army
Teach the poor origami
The truth is in
The proof is when
You hear your heart start asking,
"What's my motivation?"

Now, as confusing as the lyrics are I think we can glean at least this one idea, we, on our own, cannot do anything. We are helpless, pathetic little creatures. As the Newsboys put it, "You can't ssert the kind of light that might persuade a strict dictator to retire". You thought a sick panda or a one week old kitten was adorable, what do you think God says every time He looks at us? That aside, often I find myself "dull as dirt". And I ask God, beg God to explain to me what exactly my purpose is here on earth. Eventually I will receive a complete answer, but for now I feel God telling me that my purpose is to shine. If I don't have marching orders, if I don't have a clear path to take, why not spend my time doing the little things? What's the harm in living a life that shines for everyone to see God's glory. Isn't that a perfectly satisfying task?

Being a boy, I tend to sway toward militaristic analogies. Let's try this one out:

The private in the army has no "power". He has no "authority". In fact, officers call him the "grunt". On all accounts this man appears to be useless. But this is absolutely not the case. When it comes down to it, that man will be fighting for his country. That man WILL be making a difference. So if he is sitting in the fox hole, with no orders, just told to sit there and wait, should he just sit there and be bored? Absolutely not. He can check the horizon for incoming enemies, he can spur his fellow soldiers on with encouraging words and actions. That one, seemingly useless man, can cause a great wave of change.

We have all heard the analogies of us as "Soldier's for Christ" and how we "March into battle" and I think we've heard them too much. I think we have forgotten that we are actually, physically in a war with the enemy. And it's times like these in my life, when I feel useless, when I feel purposeless, that I must remember I ALWAYS have a purpose. No matter where we are in life we are called to do HIS work.

Two exhortations:

1) Are you shining now? If so, are you encouraging others to do the same? If you don't feel that "shine", if you feel dull, pray, seek counsel, find someone you know who shines and use their wisdom to increase your own.

2) We are never without purpose. The only way we can be purposeless, is if we give up. Let's not give up. Let's continue to push and fight for the Gospel. Pick those up around you who need some encouragement, and minister to those who know not of our God.