Sunday, August 3, 2014

More than Conquerors

Figured I'd switch it up and do one of these during the day instead of late at night for a change!

So I was reading some more of Piper's book "Don't waste your life" - surprise, surprise - and came across a section in the book that talked about what it meant to be more than conquerors which struck me. I've heard that phrase throughout my life in the church but if anyone ever took the time to explain it, it must not have stuck with me.

Christians come under attack from by Satan in many different ways. We may have a constant affliction, such as Paul. We may undergo a personal tragedy. We may not have had the best upbringing and were never in church. We may be tempted constantly. Whatever it is, "the aim of the attacker is to destroy you, and cut you off from Christ, and bring you to final ruin without God. You are a conqueror if you defeat this aim and remain in the love of Christ."

So we've seen what it takes to be a conqueror - To best the challenge that is brought against us and to draw closer to God in the process. To not let the attacker, Satan, win. But many times, we stop there. "Alright, I feel  better. I'm not great, but I'm alright. Let's move on with life." But we stop at being 'more than conquerors', and Jesus promises that we will be greater than that. "One who is more than a conqueror subjugates his enemy. A conqueror nullifies the purpose of his enemy; one who is more than a conqueror makes the enemy serve his own purposes. A conqueror strikes down his foe; one who is more than a conqueror makes his for his slave."

So what does it all mean? We've not been separated from Christ, and we have, through Christ, risen above the challenge. But we must use that affliction, that temptation, that tragedy - the force that came against us needs to be used against the enemy. We need to use it as a way to spread God's glory. Show the world that which was once our pain is now our joy. Use that to help others and to show what Jesus has done for us. Be more than a conqueror. Be a Christ-follower, one who is not ashamed to spread his love wherever & whenever we may be called to speak. What was meant for evil is now meant for good - for God's glory.

It's a powerful message, if we take the time to share it. Have a great week everyone. Let me know if I can pray for you about anything.

Love in Christ,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Praise and Thankfulness

Here we are again - another sleepless Sunday night. Hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was so-so. To be honest, it's been a rough week. But that's alright, because I have a sovereign God, and I know he is in control.

So last Sunday was a great day. I spent time in a study by John Piper titled 'Don't waste your life', which a friend had given me several years back. I've picked it up several times since then, but only made it a few chapters in each time. But it is funny, or rather amazing, the things God can put in your life right when you need them. He's done it for me before, whether it be money for a mission trip or a friend sending an email or calling when you need encouragement. But it's always great to be reminded that God IS in control, and that he loves us and will always be there for us.

So as I said, Sunday was a great day, and was really encouraging. But the rest of my week wasn't the greatest. But I kept being reminded, either by daily scripture reading, or by Piper's book, that God is sovereign and has his hand over everything, even if we can't see it. He reminded me that God's glory is what's most important, and even when, or rather, especially when, we're not at our best - that's when God has the most chance to be on display. Because it's easy to praise and seek Him when everything is rosy. But enjoying God and praising Him during the hard times - that's when the world can truly see how amazing Jesus is and what separates our religion from others - we have a relationship with our Lord and Savior. And we never stop to think of how awesome that really is. The God of the universe wants to have a relationship with us!

He should be praised and we should rejoice in Him. He is worthy of worship, during our good times and our bad. So even though this week has been rough, and my heart is heavy, I choose to keep my head up and thank Him for everything that he has blessed me with. I don't deserve anything he has given me, and any day that I wake up is another day to thank him for. The house I have, the friends I've been blessed with, the family I was born into. They're all tremendous blessings, and I don't say it enough. Thank you God for the blessings you have given me. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die on the cross for me. Thank you for all that you do - for all the things that are too numerous for me to even think of. Thank you for it all.

Love in Christ,

P.S. - Let me know if there is anything I can pray for you about!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Dangers of Moralism

How's it going everyone? Been a while since I've posted. It's another sleepless night, so I might as well make some good out of it.

So something that has been on my mind lately is what we consider good, or moral. In America, we say we are a Christian nation. This is especially true of the South - the 'Bible Belt'.  But I'd argue that is not a Christ centered culture, but instead is one of moralism.  What is moralism you ask? Moralism is 'the practice or moralizing, as distinct from religion'. Being a good, or moral, person is not a bad thing. We are born with an innate sense of right and wrong. But moralism itself says it is separate from religion, so take note.
I'll use myself as an example. By society's standards, I have high morals. I've never cheated on someone I've dated. I don't do drugs. I go to church. I help my friends and family. I'm a 'good person'. But if that's all I ever am, then I've missed the point. I may be a 'moral' person, but I'd still go to Hell. 

Our conscience is there to help point us towards Christ. That innate sense of right and wrong helps point out that we have sinned. And even one sin is enough to tip the scales irrevocably and send us to Hell. It doesn't matter if you went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, gave in every offering, and helped out at the Jimmie Hale Mission. If Christ isn't your Lord and Savior, no matter how moral you are, you will end up in Hell. There is no way of sugar-coating that fact.

While being moral isn't wrong, like so many other things in this life, we take what was mean to be good and twist it. Our conscience tells us that we should be moral and that there is right and there is wrong in this world. We're raised to be 'moral' citizens. Society, while it is loosening its stance on what is moral and what isn't year by year, does try and enforce upon us the importance of being moral. But it's so easy to slip into that and do nothing else. And that's the danger.

All moralism will do is make you a slightly better sinner. It won't save you.

Love in Christ,


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Visitor

So I was watching some Netflix during my lunch break today, as I do most days, and was hit pretty deeply by what I was watching. It was an episode of Star Trek:DS9 (yeah, yeah, yeah - I can be a bit of a geek, lol) called 'The Visitor' and it was, to me, one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen. Maybe it just hit the right emotional cords at the right time in my life, but I couldn't help but write about it.

Ignoring all of the scientific technobabble, it boils down to a story of a boy who has lost his father. Jake loses his dad in a freak accident, but his dad isn't truly dead, just lost in time, never aging. His father keeps appearing to him, but the time between each visit keeps growing farther and farther apart. Jake spends his whole life finding a way to save him. In the end, as an old man, he does find a way, and it's a great, sad story, but that isn't the point of why I'm writing. Watching the episode made me think of two things.

First, as Christians, is why we don't spend that kind of energy and effort in trying to reach those that we care about. If you go back to the title of the episode, The Visitor, it reminds me of how we are only supposed to be visitors in this world. This is not our home. But we should be trying to make a difference in it while we are here. We shouldn't be letting our lives pass by without trying to spread the news that we believe in.

Second, it reminded me of the love that God has for us. He sacrificed his own son so that we could spend eternity with Him. He loves us more than I can even imagine. I don't know about you, but I have a pretty thick head regarding some things. Growing up in the church, I have heard this simple truth more times than I could count. But hearing it and actually believing it down to the depths of your soul are different. One day when I was at the lowest point I could imagine, the true value of what God had done sank in. And to this day, even when I'm feeling down, I can think back to that moment and a smile comes to my face. I know God, the creator and sustainer of this universe, loves me, even when I don't love myself.

I know that I tend to ramble sometimes, but I hope that this encourages someone. If you ever have a doubt, know that God loves you, even if you don't know how he could get past your sins. His love isn't like ours, and it's unfathomable - but that's a good thing. And if you want to go watch some geeky TV with a surprisingly good story, go watch the episode I mentioned and try not to cry.

Love in Christ,

Monday, January 13, 2014

When Peace Eludes

Gotta love those sleepless nights that decide to visit randomly. No matter how early you have to get up... no matter how desperately you want to fall asleep... those blissful dreams won't come and take you away. This is where I find myself tonight, or morning almost. Nothing deep was on my mind, I was just unable to find peace. None of the usual routines helped. So I found myself here. Maybe it's the lack of sleep that's getting to me, but my inability to find the peaceful sleep that I longed for in my bed reminded that so many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, find themselves longing for peace. Some people try to find peace in the things of this world, trying to find that escape, no matter how temporary that fleeting moment. And there are good things in which we can escape the madness this world throws at us.

For the non-believer: Whatever the vise is that grips you, it's hard to give up on the one thing that has given you some measure of peace in this world. I understand it more than you know. The world can be harsh, and it can be even tougher to trust an unseen God who you don't believe in. Heck, I struggle trusting God and I'm a Christian. I want to have some measure of control in my life. I fight Him and the peace that he gives freely. I think it's human nature to try and do things ourselves, and not try and rely on someone or something else. But it's so much easier when you give him your burden and let him pull the yoke. Your soul can find rest with Him. I know it's not easy to trust, but it is definitely worth it.

For the believer: Whether it's football, a good book, or just spending time with friends, we need to focus on the Giver and not the gift. God gave us things in this world to enjoy and with which to find rest. We even have a place we can go for fellowship and support in hard times. Some of us hide behind the mask of religion, even though we are hurting on the inside, unsure of how we can keep going from one day to the next. Whether it be due to pain, dullness, or any myriad of issues, our focus slips. We divert our eyes from God, and even the things he gave us for peace and enjoyment no longer grant us peace. But this is where we err. We should find peace in the things God has granted us, but not let them be our all consuming passion. We should try and refocus on Him, not anything else. He should be our passion. He should be what we turn to when things don't go our way. He is the Prince of Peace. He has promised us that he will help us bear the burden. And while I'm not saying everything will go our way, I know it will be far easier with Him than without.

Part of me wishes I could have gotten more sleep tonight. There's a good chance of being irritable in the morning due to the lack of sleep. But the other part of me knows I'll be fine tomorrow, no matter what is thrown my way, if only for the fact that God is with me. And hopefully someone reading this gets the encouragement they needed and finds the peace that God has promised them. I think a little lack of sleep is worth that. Have a great week everyone. As always, let me know if there is anything I can pray for you about.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When You Can Afford to Lose

Aloha everyone. Sorry it's been awhile. Been a little busy, and haven't felt like posting as much lately. Had a lot on my mind, and still do. But I'm not gonna get into all of that right now cause I'm sitting here and listening to a song on repeat by Will Hoge called 'When I Can Afford to Lose' and it's been making me think, and I felt like sharing...

The song talks about how he isn't going to take the chance with a girl again until 'he can afford to lose'. And those thoughts hit home with me. Too many times, we as humans want to take the safe route. We don't want to do anything risky until we can afford to handle the loss if it comes our way.

It doesn't matter if it's in financial matters, love, or even submitting to God. We want to feel like we have some kind of control. But sometimes you have to take risks. New business owners may have to take out a second mortgage on their house. You may risk telling your crush how you feel, only for it to be thrown back in your face. But one thing that isn't a risk is trusting in God.

On some level, we may or may not acknowledge this, but we put it off until another day. We want to say, "Well, I'll go to church when I get everything in my life situated." We want that control. To come to God on our own terms. We want to dip our toes in the water, say that we're doing what good 'Christians' are supposed to do, but still be able to have control over our lives and the direction God may send us. Heck, I know I want to handle my finances as they can get pretty tight if I'm not careful. It is a serious struggle for me to trust God to provide for my finances after giving my tithes. To be honest, the majority of times, I don't give them for that reason. I find myself incapable of letting go of that area in my life and letting him take control.

But shouldn't we trust Him? He who gave everything so that we might one day live by his side in Heaven. He who has never broken one promise to us, even after we break covenant after covenant. Even though we break sin against Him daily, He is still faithful. His love never changes. He never changes. Nothing we can ever do will make Him love us any less. And as broken as this world is, it's hard for us to trust in that promise. Nothing else in this world has that kind of guarantee. I'm not saying it's easy to let go. I'm just saying it's worth it. He is worth it. Give Him a chance and let Him prove it to you.

Love in Christ,

PS - Let me know if you have any prayer requests. And if you want to be praying for me, I have my black belt test coming up on Nov 1st - less than 3 weeks away!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This is the end?

So I watched a movie tonight called 'This is the end' - it's by Seth Rogen and James Franco - same people who made Pineapple Express, which was "stoner humor". It's their typical thing, and can be amusing at times if you like that style - and while I typically enjoy them acting stupid, I had to address this movie and some of the content within.

The premise of the movie is as follows: the actors are playing themselves. They're at a Hollywood party when the literal apocalypse happens. Some people are sucked into Heaven and the rest of the world starts falling to pieces. Parts of the movie are funny as they try to ration food, scavenge for supplies, and try to figure out what is actually going on. If you actually want to watch the movie, I'd stop here as spoilers are going to follow.

Slowly the realization that the actors are in the actual 'end days' starts to sink in. One of the character grabs a Bible and reads part of Revelation describing some of the things happening. They start trying to figure out what is going on, how to survive, and how they can end up in Heaven. They wonder why they're still on Earth when they are, for the most part, 'good people'. They wonder if they haven't tipped the scales enough to end up being balanced on the good and earn God's favor.

But they missed the point! They skipped to the end of the book and didn't see the directions on how to get there! There is no "good enough" to end up in Heaven. In John 14:6, Jesus says he is the only way to Heaven. Nothing we do will ever tip the scales far enough for us to balance it out or end up on the 'good side' of God. One sin is all it takes to damn us for all eternity. An infinitely holy God cannot abide even one sin. And all of us have sinned. There is no sacrifice we can make or life we can live, on our own, that gets us to Heaven.

Luckily, we don't get by on our own merits, but on the perfect life of Jesus Christ. God doesn't see scales. If we believe in Him as our savior and redeemer, He sees a passport marked 'approved' - He doesn't see our names, but instead sees his son who died for our sins.

I don't know about you, but the fact that Jesus Christ has paid the price I could never hope to repay makes me extremely grateful. And movies like these demand a response from those who know the truth. We shouldn't let our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. think that as long as they live a 'good life' that they can skate on into Heaven. We have to make sure they know the truth and make sure that movies like this don't cloud the subject.

Love in Christ,