Open The Blinders

2 Corinthians 5:16

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

One of the biggest things I have been challenged with this year is how I view others. How I view the stranger I walk by in the store, the cashier at the checkout, the random person driving by, and just about every individual I encounter. What I noticed was, how my attitude toward people changes depending on where I am. At church it’s easy to be loving and welcoming, but outside of church, it’s so easy to assume the worst about everyone. It’s easy to forget that they, just like myself, are a child a God.

The first time I was convicted of this was while listening to the song ‘Ever Be’ when the line, “Let Your praise ever be on my lips” played. I thought about how that would effect my relationships, strangers on the street, the cashier, the person driving by, etc. That’s when I began to realize, that everyone is a child of God, and everyone is loved by Him. It’s my job to be intentional with others and show them that love that Christ first gave me.

And it’s hard.

What’s easy is to forget about the strangers at the store, to walk by them without a second thought, to go on with the day rushing to the next thing. It’s the unspoken rule to not talk to strangers in public, we all act as if we want to be left to our own regards and people are just an expensive you can’t afford to spend time on. I know I’m guilty of it.

But Christ keeps reminding me, “See that person, yup, I love them. See that one, yup, I love them too. That one over there, yup, that’s my child as well.” I believe it’s not only our job to stop evaluating others from a human point of view, but to go a step further and start evaluating others from Christ’s point of view.

The story of the cross is not a story about Jesus, but rather a story about how much God loves us and what He will do to reach each and everyone of us. Loving others is a blessing that we get to be apart of. And at times, yes it’s hard, you just want to do your own thing. But when we can take a minute to step back, and allow God to work in us, to allow God to let us view others the way He views them, we allow love to come into us. And love covers a multitude of wounds. Not just others wounds, but even your own.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (Emphasis Mine)

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

We’ve been given this task of reconciling people to Christ, we are Christ’s ambassadors, we speak for Christ.

I guess, what I am wondering is this, what would happen if we would open up our eyes and heart, to see everyone you see, everywhere you see them, as Christ sees them. There’s so many people who are hurting, who are just slipping through the cracks. I can’t even imagine what a simple smile, or hello could do for them. What if you were more courteous to the cashier or server, then they are to you? They might be trying to sell you a product, or gain your favor for a large tip, but you have the opportunity to give them God’s gift. How much greater is that?

I think because we are not getting persecuted everyday, being killed, that we forget how great of a message and how important of a message we have.

Let go of the binders and share the light with all.

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The dream.

The other night I had a dream. No, not the Martin Luther King Jr. kind of dream. But a dream nonetheless that has left me pondering since.

But before I share my dream, I need to first give some history of my dreams. For years I would dream dreams of me fighting in battles, saving peoples lives. The first time this happen, in my dream I was on a raft full of people in stormy waters (however it was also parked in a dock, cause it’s a dream) and on this raft we were going out to war. I did my best to blend into the crowd on the raft so that I would not have to participate in the battle. But then, a real life coworker was on the shipping dock and whispered to himself, aren’t you suppose to be a christian? Since it was a dream, I heard what he said and it hit me hard. I jumped to the front of the raft took control of the helm, directed us out to war and also took control of the 50 cal that just happen to appear.

End of 1st dream.

I woke up from that dream realizing that as a christian, we have a war to fight with this world and we can’t waste our time blending in. For the next few years I would always have dreams that I was some sort of super hero saving peoples lives, occasionally I would forget how to use my powers but by the end of the dream, I would survive and have saved lives.

This continued until  I enlisted in the army. During basic training I quit having this dreams, actually I simply quit remembering my dreams all together. Here and there I would remember, but none of them were ever as cool as my battle dreams.

But the other night, I had a dream. It was a war dream. I was placed in a battle with my current army unit. It was us verses some kind of aliens. Everyone had a rifle but me. I was scared out of my mind. I noticed others had picked up some of the enemies rifles, it brought me a moment of hope thinking I could do the same. Nothing, I couldn’t find a single one.

I was scared and weaponless.

Then 4 of us lined up behind a door, about to clear a room. Still without a weapon. But our plans stopped as the enemy through a grenade at us. I managed to escape the blast, but as I turned back I turned around to be directly facing an enemy, holding my buddy, while the enemies rifle was facing directly at me. I feared for my life. He took one shot, but I dodged, took a second and I dodged again. He ran out of bullets and begin to reload a new magazine. I took this opportunity to charge him and steal his rifle out of his hands as he was fumbling. I ran toward him, my head was inches from the barrel of his rifle. He was fully reloaded with his hand on the trigger. I had full confidence in myself that I would be able to grab his barrel and swipe it out his hands. I grabbed it, but he over powered me, the barrel lowered to my stomach. I thought, is this it? Is this end of me? He pressed the trigger. I was hit square to the chest. The blast woke me up.

After I had collected myself when I woke, I thought about the dream and was quickly reminded of the spirtual battle that is constantly going on around us. We can’t see it. But we often feel the effects of it.

What I realized is how stupid it is for us to try to wrestle with the world, to wrestle with the enemy when we aren’t even properly equipped. I was brought back to Ephesians 6. What was I missing? A weapon. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

We need to equip ourselves with the knowledge of the Word of God. The enemy is crafty, he’s not something we can beat on our own. Without God’s Word, we have no chance.

The dream has left me wondering, am I equipped? Where does my confidence lie? In my own hands, or in the hands of my Creator? Am I carrying Gods Sword, or my own?

Have Faith or Wander

I was listening to a sermon the other day called, “Don’t Stop on Six” by Steven Furtick (To view on youtube, click here). It was a super great sermon about Joshua and marching around Jericho.

Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know, that Israel had to wander for 45 years before they marched around Jericho? Why? Because 45 years prior when Moses sent out the 12 spies to spy on the land, 10 of them returned with a lack of faith that God could help them bring victory of the land.

Their lack of faith kept Israel wandering for 45 years.

It makes me wonder, what promise of God am I keeping myself from because I lack the faith? What are you keeping yourself from because you the lack the faith? It’s not that God doesn’t lack the power and desire for you to receive His promise, but rather we tend to lack the faith that God can carry us through no matter how big our enemies, our opposition, looks.

What does faith in God look like? Sometimes it’s you starting a conversation with a stranger, showing them God’s love through your conversation. For a lot of us, talking to strangers might be the scariest thing ever, but isn’t God bigger than that giant?

Sometimes faith might be asking someone for you to pray over them. Maybe your scared you won’t say the right words, and you have the right to believe that. I agree with you. But that’s why we have to rely on the Holy Spirit to take control. Romans 8:26, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” It’s not about you or our prayer, it’s about letting the Holy Spirit use you for Him to pray over someone.

Sometimes faith might be to not show partiality to those you know (James 2:1-13) but engaging with someone others don’t normally engage with. It may not be comfortable, but I also don’t think Jesus’ death was very comfortable. But also, it is showing love and that is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).

Sometimes faith might being saying “No” to what your normally would say “Yes” to, around those that are closest to you, in order that you may be an example to them that they don’t have to live down that same path. Will they question you? Yes. Will it be awkward? Yes. Will they, might, distance themselves from you? Maybe. But would you rather keep wandering in sin for 45 years, or move on to where God has called you?

In the same way, sometimes faith might be saying “Yes” to what others normally say “No” too. This might be reaching out to others in a public school, in a bar, in a neighbor hood, at a club, in the streets. Maybe these places aren’t comfortable to go to, but isn’t that where Jesus went?

What is faith in your life? Where are you settling? Where are you letting yourself wander?

A great point Steven Furtick made, was when the Israelites were wandering around Jericho there are two things you can not: It was Joshua who told them not to speak when marching, and 2) Joshua never told them how many days/times they would have to march. They didn’t know it would only be seven days (well the bible doesn’t tell us they would know). That speaks volumes to me. That’s like doing a workout, and not ever knowing when it is going to end, not ever knowing what your next move is. There’s no hope for the end, there’s no motivation to get through to the end, when you don’t know when the end is.

Let that sink in.

Now why would Joshua not want them to speak? What is often your limiting factor when trying to accomplish anything? Is it the physical effort that goes into it? Can your body just not take it? Or is it your thoughts that often stop you, telling you “You can’t do this,” “you’re not cut out for this,” etc? Just a thought by Steven Furtick.

Not’s enough for now, but I really encourage and suggest everyone to check out that message by Steven. Let it speak into your own life. He made so many more great points.

It’s Not Enough to Hear, But to Do

Warning: No Scripture found here, just thoughts.

I’ve found one of the greatest things to be as hearing a message about God’s great love for me. Not just hearing, but also reading about it in blogs, journaling about it, reading about it in books, and etc. It’s an amazing pick me up and makes me feel so much better as a person. It’s the message that everyone deep down inside craves to hear, ultimate acceptance despite all that you’ve done. Complete peace, joy and love despite all that you’ve done.

But at the same time the message of the Gospel doesn’t infinitely last in our hearts. All to often I’ve seen in myself how full of the Spirit I can get during the time of hearing God’s message, but as soon as I am doing hearing it, the next morning, a week later, it goes away and it’s really hard to still have that joy and peace as I did when I first heard the message. I get so accustomed to living back how I was before I heard the message, that the message just doesn’t seem to exist anymore in my life.

That is until, I hear another great sermon simply about God’s great love for me again. Then again I feel an undeniable love for God, a passion, a fire inside of my heart. I remember who God is and how great He is. But after the message is over, I go back to where I was.

It’s a cycle, going back and force between loving God with all my heart, to forgetting who God is in my life.

It makes me feel fake.

I have to constantly go back to His Word, to hearing sermon messages, to reading, to constantly be reminded of HIs love for me, otherwise it’s so easy for me to slip back into the world. It’s something I have to fight for.

I no longer believe it’s enough to just hear God’s message of love. I don’t believe it’s our purpose.

I believe our purpose, or at least mine, is to seek out ways to show God’s love to others. It’s not enough to receive God’s message, but to also give. “It is better to give than to receive.”

Relevant magazine posted an article, found here. At the end of the article, there was a quote that I deeply believe in,

“Gather a group of friends to read, study and brainstorm ways to engage locally and globally.”

Isn’t this what Jesus tells and shows us over and over again. Wasn’t this the way He did His ministry? But He didn’t have to brainstorm, He just did.

For me, receiving the message of God’s love isn’t enough. It’s what I want to live out. I want to continue God’s ministry in others. What better way to receive God’s love than to show it to others in need?

I just can’t imagine what a difference it would make, not just in my own life but others, if I replaced time I spent on meaningless things and replaced it with time where I engage locally and/or globally with others. How cool and awesome would that be?

Hell is real. The internal struggles people face everyday is real. But if you would be the person that helps show them God’s love, wouldn’t that be cool? Wouldn’t it be cool to be a first hand witness to seeing others transform their lives? I know I do.

Doubting God

When I was about 12 years old(7th grade), my dad once asked me this question that has stuck with me. He asked me,

“Do you ever doubt God?”

When he had asked me that, I thought it was the craziest thing someone has ever asked me. In my mind I thought, “Of course I don’t doubt God! How could I ever doubt Him?!” I simply responded with, “No, why?” He told me about how from time to time as he got older the devil would attack him with doubts. At that moment, I learned that his question was something I was going to look out for in the future if I wanted to continue my life with God. I remembering praying there while sitting in the front of the car with him, praying both for his faith and the prayer of my future faith to be protected from the devil. It’s something I have continued to pray for.

It wasn’t until recently that I really felt doubt. It started at first with questioning my own faith, asking myself if my actions reflected my faith. In my mind, I didn’t think my actions were very faithful. That got to me really questioning my faith and how much I actually believe, which through that spiral of doubt had be doubting God Himself. I was confused to why I never felt Him anymore, why I never felt like reading the bible anymore, why I didn’t pray like I use to, why I never felt inspired for Him anymore, why I would do things I felt like He wanted me to do and find no results. I absolutely and most certainly knew Christ to be true in my mind, but I just couldn’t find it in my heart anymore. It hurt me. When I did pray, I always prayed the words from Mark 9:24

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 

There were some times that I honestly just didn’t care about my faith. 

There is one truth however that I could not ignore. God is someone who I want to believe in. Whether or not He is true, He is someone I want to believe in. If this man died for me, was spit on, was made fun of, but took this punishment of ours, of mine, in such humility, than I want to serve that God! No matter how much I doubt myself, He still believes in me, no matter how disappointed I am in myself, He still loves me. No matter how much I want to just ignore Him, He’s right beside me. That is someone I want to believe in. 

The devil loves to remind us that we aren’t good enough for God. I don’t know about you, but that hurts me a lot and causes me a lot of confusion. But you know what the crazy thing is, God knew that before sending His Son on the cross to die for us. We will never be ‘good’ enough for God, but God isn’t asking us for our good deeds. He even tell us we can never earn His grace; it’s not by our works that we are saved. Faith saves us, giving our heart to Him saves us.

Where is your life heading?

What are you striving for? Where is the destination of your actions leading you to?
Something that has been on my mind lately is living on purpose. I’ve been around enough people to know that a lot of people, not all but a lot, end up not even starting to reach their goals or dreams. We, myself included, get caught up in the moment and never take the time to realize our goals and figure out an action plan to reach them.
When I worked in the candy factory I loved talking to people about what their future goals are, one wanted to be a photographer, one wanted to be a writer, another wanted to start his own business. All great goals, but every few months I would check up with them and ask them when they are going to start reaching their goals. Without fail, they always said “maybe in a few months.”
How are we to reach our dreams if we never begin, or even take the time to realize our dreams?
Don’t be afraid to reach out for your dreams, how are you to reach them if you never start?
Small or big, I want to challenge you to take 15 minutes out of your day in the morning and at night to write down your goals, reflect on what you can do reach them, reflect on what you are doing that is preventing yourself from your goals, and most importantly pray about them.

As for me, I don’t want to wake up one day realizing I’ve been living my life on accident regretting on what I could have done if I had just started and took the time focus on my dreams.

Make Mistakes

Sometimes we are afraid or ashamed to make mistakes. Don’t be. Risks are an important part of life, they are meant to be taken. Besides it’s an our mistakes that we grow, without mistakes we make no growth. Don’t be afraid to make that mistake out of fear of the unknown. Embrace it, love it, and don’t let it stop you. The moment you give fear your control is the moment you stop living.

Jesus told a parable once about three men who each received a share of a farmers talent to hold onto for a while. The one who was given much took a risk and doubled what he received. But the one who was given little did nothing but burry the talent because he was afraid of losing his single talent. But because he did not take a risk, the farmer took that talent back from the man and gave it to the man who took the large risk.

If we are to afraid of mistakes with just a little, how can we ever be trusted with a lot.

If we never take the risk with a little and make the mistakes, how can we ever expect to learn and be able to handle more?

Make mistakes. Live life in it’s fullest. If you have to, be stupid! Be stupid in the sense that you do make mistakes. The worse thing you can ever do for yourself is to never make a mistake. What joy it is to learn and grow! This is where true wisdom is found.

Your challenge as you read this is to go make a mistake tomorrow, make one on purpose! Let the fear go and double your talents!

Don’t lose your only talent out of fear! Don’t hold onto that single piece of thread! Break that thread so you can rebuild it with a bridge! Learn as you go! Nobody has all the answers, nobody truly knows what they are doing and have full control over their life. That’s why you need to make mistakes, so you can learn how to build your single thread into a full bridge!