Saturday In the Tomb

Posted: March 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

You know I was reflecting yesterday on what Christ had done on the Cross. How he died to restore what was lost when He created the world. How we destroyed it. Through our selfish ambitions and motivations, we as his creation wanted more than Him. That’s where we went wrong. There is nothing greater than Him. There is no job, no person, no position, no hope greater than Him. Yet somehow, our heart still thinks there is more. It isn’t until we fully grasp the greatness of the Cross and what took place that we can finally find satisfaction.

What must have His disciples been thinking as they probably sat through all of that Friday night wondering what went wrong. How just a few days earlier the city was wanting to force Jesus into the kingship. How they were going to now be famous. How His influence was going to promote them greatly as His name was lifted high. Now it’s done and they were sitting trying to grasp what had just happened. Wondering now where their lives were going to take them.

What’s funny is I can relate. There have ben times I’ve allowed my own selfish ambitions to rob me of seeing the bigger picture of what Christ was doing. I’ve allowed my own personal thoughts and will to super-cede His. The funny thing is, I can relate to the disciples. I can imagine them wondering the whole day Saturday what the next phase of their life would be. Some would go back to fishing, some carpentry, a physician, lawyers and many other things. How they would just go back to being normal. Living a routine life always wondering what might have been. But God had other plans…

You see, as they spent all day pondering and wondering how the man they followed is now gone, they had no idea what was coming. They had no idea that from that point on, God was going to use them to change and shape the culture and position of the world forever. Whose main message is no longer the law, but grace. Who’s main purpose is no longer their own will and desires, but His. You see at this point it was Saturday, and they had more questions than answers. Just like you and I, we have seasons of more questions than answers. But the greatest hope is not only that Sunday is coming, but that Sunday came! That is what I take rest in. It’s not that it’s being finished, it’s that it is! Whatever the struggle, burden, or pain, hold onto Him. He knows.

Jesus Is Better

Posted: May 8, 2012 in Encouraging, Life Change, My Faith

Growing up in a home with a Godly heritage and lifestyle can sometimes be taken for granted. I never had to worry how much my parents loved each other or if they would always be together. It was just there. We went to church together, prayed together, read the Bible together, and did everything together with full joy. The older you get, you start seeing how rare that really was and is. It seems like every year the statistics show more and more broken homes and hurtful situations.

This isn’t a post about how much better I’ve had it than probably most people have in regards to strong Christian influence in my life, it’s a post about why. Why was is so evident? Why was it so consistent and stable in my life and not in so many others who also grew up in “Christian” homes? If there was one simple phrase that make up the theme of my parents life it would have to be “to make much of Jesus.” Jesus is everything to them. Which is where my stability and influence came from.

It seems so frequent now to see many people that have grown up in church, lived a Christian life, do all the right things they were supposed to be doing in their faith, yet decide to throw in the towel or maybe worse, just go through the Christian motions. The sad thing is, they are missing out on the greatest joy they could ever experience, and it’s far greater than even just living in a stable Christian home. I think what has bothered me lately is the fact that too many people love and follow the IDEA of Jesus, and not really Jesus. Let me explain.

In Mark 1, starting in verse 16, we see Marks story of Jesus calling the first disciples. I think we can get so much from this passage:

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20 ESV)

This is such a unique passage to ask why would anyone drop what they are doing and follow someone they didn’t even know? Not only that, they decided they would leave everything behind. Without going into full detail of what they were giving up, it’s just important to note that they literally were walking away from everything in their life they knew as comfortable, to follow a person they’ve never met, who didn’t promise them anything better than what they already had. The only phrase of value that Jesus offered was that He would make them become fishers of men. At that time, they didn’t even know who or what He was referring to. All they knew was that following Him was far more valuable than just living a routine life of going through the motions each and everyday. So they gave it up, and in the end, we know it was worth it.

Unfortunately today, so many people will only “follow” Jesus if He can promise them something in return. Whether that’s wealth, good health, a good job, a good church, a great family, or whatever else that might be. People are in love and want to follow the idea of Jesus and not Jesus. They like the idea that somehow Jesus is a divine waiter out to serve and get their every desire. So they go to church, sing in the choir, give their offering, and whatever else they need to do to feel they are living the Christian life, all the while, filling the void with all the trinkets of this world and trying to attach Jesus’ name to it. Without once taking a step of faith and even slightly consider that maybe Jesus has a bigger plan and purpose for their life, but it would take sacrifice, maybe even giving up everything.

I’m so thankful for the Christian home I grew up in, but it wasn’t always easy, and it definitely wasn’t comfortable all the time. My parents taught me at an early age that Jesus is far better than the Christian life, and that living and following Him won’t always be easy, but is definitely worth it. That’s a lesson that isn’t learned once and you got it. It’s something that is processed and fought for our entire lives. Even through the struggles, disappointments, failures, and heartaches; Life with Jesus is better.

In Him

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Encouraging, Life Change, My Faith

It’s funny watching kids as they grow up. I am around my sisters’ kids pretty regularly and it’s easy for them not to have a care in the world. They never worry about having a roof over their head, or if they are going to have food to eat. It’s just there. Since it’s there, it’s easy to start expecting more. More snacks, more treats, more iPad time, more of what they want. I was watching one of my younger nieces the other day as we were eating. Her focus quickly moved from the current meal to dessert. Then my sister gave the same speech she has given hundreds of times, and the same speech we all have heard a hundred times. The “eat a few more bites of your veggies before you get dessert speech.” That was followed by a lot of debating, negotiating, and reminding for the next 15 minutes. As I watched that scene play out, like I have seen many times before, I kept looking and asking what is the big deal? It’s just a couple bites of veggies that is keeping you from what you really want. But my niece couldn’t grasp that, just like I couldn’t grasp it at her age either. She couldn’t see that her parents weren’t trying to make her life miserable, they were trying to help keep her body and nutrition in balance the way it’s supposed to be.

I was thinking about this the other day when I felt the Lord speak to my heart and say, “Now you know how I feel!  You ask me for things, you often get caught up in the moment…but your problem is that most of the time you just don’t understand WHO I AM and WHAT I AM DOING!”

I am so glad that we serve an Ephesians 3:20 God.  The Bible says in I Corinthians 2:9 that we literally have NO IDEA how much He has planned for us.

Just like my niece has no idea what her parents are capable of…we have no idea how HUGE God is and what HE can do.  BECAUSE…I believe many times we are caught up in what we want rather than who He is!

One of the things I am trying to do right now is become less aware of my perceived needs…and instead focus on continually discovering WHO HE IS.  Because, in doing so I believe I will stop asking Him for “treats” and “snacks” and be able to finally discover the feast that He has set before me!

HE IS THE MOST HIGH GOD!  NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM!

Even as we grow older in our Christian faith, we get so focused on God’s will, which is many times just trying to do our will and attaching God’s name to it. Instead of focusing on our will, or even God’s will, we need to focus on GOD’S PERSON. It is only IN HIM that we can find full satisfaction. Then it won’t be as often that we are “debating, negotiating, or being reminded” of how dumb and how little we really know.

But God…

Posted: December 14, 2011 in Encouraging, My Faith, Uncategorized
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In my Bible study lately I have seen the phrase “But God” come up pretty often. Probably the most recognizable verse is Romans 5:8. It intrigued me enough to do a study of everywhere in the Scripture that has that phrase. What I found was how encouraging each one of these verses were. So below I want to share with you just a small portion of each verse that has that phrase in it so you can also be encouraged. I purposely didn’t put the entire verse in here because I want you to see how powerful those two words can be:

Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night…
Gen 31:7 …but God suffered him not to hurt me.
Gen 48:21 …but God will be with you…
Gen 50:20 …but God meant it for good…
Exo 13:18 But God led the people about…
Exo 21:13 …but God deliver him into his hand…
Judges 15:19 But God split open a hollow place…
1 Sam 23:14 …but God delivered him not into his hand.
1 Chr 28:3 But God said unto me…
Psa 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave…
Psa 68:21 But God shall wound the head of his enemies…
Psa 73:26 …but God is the strength of my heart…
Psa 75:7 But God is the judge…
Pro 21:12 …but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
Isa 17:13 …but God shall rebuke them…
Jonah 4:7 But God prepared a worm…
Mark 2:7 …Who can forgive sins but God only?
Luke 5:21 …Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
Luke 12:20 But God said unto him…
Luke 16:15 …but God knows your hearts…
Acts 7:9 …but God was with him
Acts 10:28 …but God has shown me…
Acts 13:30 But God raised him from the dead
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his love toward us…
Rom 6:17 But God be thanked…
1 Cor 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…
1 Cor 2:10 But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit…
1 Cor 3:6 …but God gave the increase.
1 Cor 3:7 …but God gives the increase.
1 Cor 6:13 …but God shall destroy both it and them…
1 Cor 7:15 …but God has called us to peace.
1 Cor 10:13 …but God is faithful…
1 Cor 12:24 …but God has tempered the body together…
1 Cor 15:38 But God gives it a body as it has pleased him…
Gal 3:18 …but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Gal 3:20 …but God is one.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Phi 2:27 …but God had mercy on him…

No matter what situation we are facing, or how bad it looks, God is still in control of every aspect of our life. Hopefully this phrase will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me.

It’s been a while

Posted: December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is a test post. I will post again very soon. :)

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The events that have unfolded over the last few weeks and even months have been such an eye-opening display that the Lord’s return isn’t too far away. From the huge Tsunami in Japan to all the tornado’s in Alabama and storm damage in many other states, it is hard not to see that we are getting closer. I for one can’t wait.
Sunday was a historic day for our Country and the world. I have been glued to the news to see all the events of the Bin Ladin death and how they have unfolded. I love the details of the raid of our Navy Seals and to see how they defeated a tyrant. To me, one of the craziest things about the whole ordeal was the reaction to his death. Some have rejoiced, some have been angered, some are just indifferent. As many have already said, I am thrilled that justice has been done. I don’t gloat in a man’s death but I do gloat in the fact that a tyrant is dead. There is a difference. We all are equal in the sight of God in the fact that we have all sinned and fall short of His glory. Therefore all of us needed a Savior in that of Christ. I am so thankful for His salvation and gift of grace. We all get to make that choice as to whether we receive Christ or reject Him. Unfortunately for Bin Ladin, he adamantly rejected Him his entire life. He even went so far as to hate Christianity and make war against it. That was his choice. I wish he would have found Christ, then he wouldn’t have been the enemy he was. I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul when he was Saul, making a living off killing Christians until God intervened. Paul then became the spokesperson for Christianity. In a miraculous rescue because of God’s grace. I wish a long time ago Bin Ladin would have made the same decision. He didn’t. He chose the path to make war and now he had to deal with the consequences like we all deal with consequences of our own sin. His lead to a premature death. I am glad justice was done. My prayer is now for the followers of Bin Ladin. I hope they see where following a man get’s them and find grace instead. I for one am glad I follow a Savior, and I already know how that ends. We keep getting closer.

Who Do You Fear The Most?

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Life Change, My Faith

I remember as a kid growing up there came a point that I became terrified of dogs. It didn’t matter if it was a big, small, fat, or skinny dog. If it was a dog, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I am not sure what happened, there may have been a point I was around an angry dog and that is what did me in. I actually don’t remember even overcoming the fear, just that I have. There came a point in my life when I realized an important truth. It’s just a dog, and I am smarter, and in most cases bigger than that dog. Thinking back on this time in my life I realized something that to this day is a huge statement in my life:

WHATEVER I FEAR THE MOST CONTROLS ME THE MOST!

There are countless times in my life I can look back and realize I altered what I was doing or even how I lived my life because I was afraid of what someone might think about me. Which leads me to this verse:

Proverbs 29:25 - “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

I can’t tell you how often that verse has been proven true in my life. Unfortunately it’s been too many. Which is why I wonder, why do we let the people around us control how we live our life? I read a link from Twitter the other day talking about why we let people influence us over God’s influence, and it lead me to some though provoking statements.

If I fear man, then he controls me. What he says about me matters more than what God says about me. His opinion can literally determine if I am in a good mood or bad mood. What he says can control whether I feel good about myself or bad about myself. In our life, and even in our churches, people are consumed with what people think about them. That’s why Facebook and social media is so addicting to so many people. It becomes a place you can try to control your own identity in hopes that someone will give you the approval and acceptance you are looking for. In reality, it can just leave us more empty and a deeper desire to seek a deeper shallowness that leads to empty relationships that we will give up everything for. Why? Because of the fear of man. Not that using social media is a bad thing, but for many people it has become an avenue to live out their deepest fears and insecurities. Which leads me to this verse:

Proverbs 9:10 - “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

We are foolish to allow man’s opinion of us override God’s opinion of us. This is an incredible week throughout the year. The time when we can reflect and celebrate the fact that God Himself died on the cross and paid the price for our sin. If THAT doesn’t show how much He values us then nothing can. The best thing that God can bless us with is an ever-increasing and accurate view of Himself. As our view of Him increases then our fear of man decreases. It is amazing how we can so easily let someone keep us from doing what we know is right because we are worried about what someone else might think about it. To top it all off, many times we attach God’s name to it and call it His will so that maybe somehow it will make official to those around us that which we know is wrong in our hearts. One thing I have learned over the years is that if it is the hard way out, then it’s probably God’s way out. Not always, but in many cases this may be true. But we do everything we can to avoid the tough conversation. God wants total honesty and dependence on Him. Not to live in fear of what someone else may think or react, but to live in confidence knowing that no matter the outcome, you fear God more than man. This is the only way to live a life completely satisfied in Him.

Carrying the Name

Posted: March 4, 2011 in About Me, Life Change, My Faith

As you know from this post I can’t get enough of Acts 9. It never gets old to me to hear someones story of how their relationship with Christ began, but Paul’s conversion story to me is one of my favorite. What makes it so intriguing is the fact that you have a man whose job is to murder those belonging to “the Way,” whose life is radically flipped upside down by the One they are following… Jesus. The name above every name. I want to bring up three things I have learned in the last couple weeks that have stretched my faith and have drawn me closer to Him.

1. When you are carrying the Name and someone is tearing you down, it is not you they are tearing down.

 One of my favorite lines in Paul’s story is when Jesus stops Paul in His tracks on the road to Damascus and said “Why are you persecuting ME? Not, why are you persecuting my followers? This is the moment in Scripture that it becomes clear to us, that Jesus isn’t just tagging along with us, He takes the responsibility.  Anything good that might come from us, is only because of Him. Anything bad that might happen to us, is not on us, but on Him. One of the biggest lessons I have learned recently is that Jesus is more mad when someone mistreated you than you could ever be. Why? Because it’s against Him. His name is on the line. Even in the face of our worst sin, when forgiveness and repentance is sought after, He takes the responsibility on Him. So when someone reminds you of your past, or throws things back in your face, it’s not your face, it’s His. Oh, and He doesn’t take that lightly. Romans 12:19 makes that clear.

2. When you carry the Name, it’s easy to know God’s will.

It seems like one of the greatest battles Christians face is the ever constant question of what God’s will is for our life. I love how this passage shows how specific Jesus is when we trust in Him. He literally says to Ananias, “go to straight street and walk up to Judas’ front door and ask for Saul of Tarsus.” Now I don’t know if you can get more specific than that. That is what happens when you walk with Jesus instead of just proclaim to know Him. He gets specific. Now the crazy thing is, we may not like what He has to say. It may be something we aren’t thrilled to do. Ananias wasn’t excited with what Jesus asked him to do, but he did it anyway. Why? Because His ways are better than our ways. That’s where faith comes in. Being faithful with where God has placed us and pressing into Him so we know His next step and opportunity for our life, even if we aren’t thrilled about it.

3. When we carry the Name, we can’t help but share Him.

I love that the Bible is specific with the first thing Paul did when he got his sight back. “Immediately he proclaimed Jesus.” Three days earlier he was killing anyone that spoke the name, now he proclaims the name. Only a radical transformation from our Savior can cause that. When we see Jesus for who He really is, you won’t be able to help but talk about Him. That should be our focus. To proclaim the Name above all names. Jesus. Not worship about Him, worship to Him. It’s more real to me now more than ever. There is nothing greater and more satisfying than to put your trust in Him in all things, not just a few things.

Carry the Name…

I Love You, if…

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Hot Topics, Life Change, My Faith

This is the love season. You see it everywhere, people are trying to figure out the right card, or where to go on the perfect Valentines date. The one time of year when people might go just a little out of their way to emphasize their love for someone. Seems we get a little sidetracked at times when it comes to love. It’s a lot easier to love someone when they have something in return for us. It gets even easier when that something is of great value or want. I hate that we have become a people who put stipulations on our love for one another. We live now, whether consciously or subconsciously, with the mindset of “I love you, if…” You can fill in the blank.

This may not be something we do all the time, but many times we will see ourselves in this situation. I am so grateful for a God who doesn’t have those type of motives. Who loves us no matter who we are, or what we have done. Who gives more grace than we can handle, and shows His love in ways no one could even fathom. Who, most importantly showed His love by giving the greatest gift that can’t be matched. His Son.

One of my favorite verses of all time is Romans 5:8. It’s been on my heart all week and I can’t get enough of it. But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Just reading that verse gives me chills and a complete brokenness to my own life and situations I face. I can’t get over what He has done for me, and I pray I never will. In honor of Valentines day and one of the greatest love verses, I just want to expound on a few of these words from this verse:

Commends
This is such a powerful word and one that sets the stage for the rest of the verse. Some translations use the word shows here, which is true, but only half of what it is trying to say. Some use the word demonstrates, which is another powerful word and gives us a picture and demonstration of what true love looks like. I like the word commends because of its meaning. Commends means to praise formally or make official. Think about how amazing that is. God makes His own love for us official by giving us His only Son. That is perfection. I also love that is word is used in the present tense! He still commends. No matter your situation, what you are going through, or who you are, God wants to pour out His love for you right now. Don’t let things in your past or present rob you from receiving what true love really is. It’s offered right at this moment.

That
It’s only in God’s love that we find salvation. If He doesn’t pour out His love through Christ, we have no hope. But He did. I love that the definition of that means “to such a degree.” There is not a greater degree to go than to give up the most precious thing that you have. Your life. No amount of money, wisdom, or fame even matters if you don’t have your life. Christ gave His freely. For us. So that we could see what true love is, and in return have a relationship with the creator of the world.

Were
Our past. It took place right where we are. We don’t have to clean ourselves up and then He loves us, He loves us now. One thing that is a battle at times as a Christian, is thinking that God only loves a future version of us. That He can only love us if we just overcome a certain sin, go to church regularly, read our Bible everyday, pray all the time, or treat people nice. While those things are good to do, He loves you regardless. No matter what, He loves.

Died
This is the reason this verse exists. To show what the greatest love produces. The payment for our sin and a broken world. To finally restore the glory of God. I love the second definition of the word die: “To be killed for a cause.” That is the easiest way to explain what God did for us. The cause was great. Our sin is bigger than we can handle. Christ had to die. In the process we see love, but not only see it, but get it. We get God, and He wants us. That’s what makes this love so powerful.

That’s something Valentines day can’t compete with…

Forgiveness Isn’t an Option

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Life Change, My Faith

Just thinking about that word strikes fear in a lot of people. However, I think many people don’t know what giving true forgiveness feels like and some have a hard time receiving it. Lately I have seen this a lot in my own personal life and those around me. It’s amazing to see people look at their life and the things that have happened to them or caused by them and then pass it off like their responsibility is over when whatever was done is over. That isn’t true, because even if we were the one that was hurt, we now have a new responsibility to truly forgive – Matthew 6:14-15. The problem is what I see over and over is people who feel like they have truly forgiven the one that has caused them pain and hurt and end up justifying their actions and attitude because of it. So as I was reading and praying the other day I wrote down 5 signs that help us determine if we still may have an attitude of bitterness or unforgiveness:

1. We keep trying to convince ourselves we are the victim.

People are going to let you down. It’s part of the fallen world that we live in. Not only that, there will be a time in your life that you will let someone else down. That’s why Jesus was so emphatic with Peter when Peter asked the question we all wonder at some point in our life. “How many times should we forgive someone?” I love Jesus’ answer in Matthew 18:21-23. He says seventy times seven, which basically means as many times as it takes… He knows people will let you down more than once.

2. Instead of praying for the person that caused us pain and for their reconciliation, we concentrate our prayers on the healing of our own hurt and pain they caused us.

I’m not saying you won’t have deep hurt and sorrow caused by someone, but if we focus our healing and prayers on them, then in the process God will heal us as well. I love what Lewis B. Smede said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” I John 2:9-11

3. We buy into rumors and lies about the person that hurt us, and pass it along like it’s the truth.

This is one that a lot of people can’t see happen in their life. They are so concentrated on getting revenge they will listen to whatever rumors, true or false, and want to get that message out to whomever has an open ear to listen to them. I’m not saying that sometimes it’s not the truth, but as a Christian, we don’t have an option. We don’t have the right to say anything that is going to tear down and corrupt another person. Ephesians 4:29

4. Instead of comparing ourself to Christ, we compare ourself to the person who hurt us the most.

I wish people could see how harmful this is. From the moment they get hurt by someone deeply, that is the person they use from then on to justify their own actions. It becomes easy to develop the attitude that as long as I don’t do anything to anyone as bad as that person did to me, then I must be OK in the eyes of God. Saying it like that it becomes easy to deny, but many times our actions back up that type of attitude. The only thing we can compare to is Christ and who He is. Nothing comes even close. Philippians 3:8

5. It causes us to take our eyes off the Cross.

You know one thing I can’t figure out is how anyone that claims grace can turn around and not offer it back to those that hurt them. I know there is a healing process and that it takes time to get back to that point, but what happens so often among even Christians is they don’t want to heal, or forgive, or give grace in return. That is such a dangerous place to be. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness, He gives it to us, that’s why it’s called grace. Just as quick as He is to give it to us, we need to be quick to extend it to others as well. The only thing we can boast in as a Christian is the cross. Galatians 6:14

I know there are a lot of people who have been hurt deeply, and it’s my prayer for you that God will continue to show things in your life that may need to be dealt with in regards to these things or maybe some others. Whatever it may be, know that by you offering and extending forgiveness to others, it gives you the freedom to hold onto Christ and rely on Him in all things. Trust me… there is no place you would rather be.