Just starting typing…

(fyi, wrote this with eyes close, and without double checking errors. & it was more of a brain dump)

We as a society have learned to receive everything. We have been accustomed to having things down for us. WE have automatic sinks so that we don’t have to turn the faucet on. We go to coffee shops because we don’t want to make our own coffee for much cheaper. We go to fast food chains because it’s to much work to make our own food, that tastes better, is better for you, and cheaper. If the remote isn’t near us, we won’t get up to change the channel. Sometimes we will be hungry, but to lazy to get up. We’d gladly take it if it was served to us, but since it is not, we’ll pass. Not only that, but it accumulates over with how we want instant results. We want to look good without working out or eating healthy. We want to have money without having to do the work. We want to became great, without having to put in the work. We want to get better without taking the time for ask for help, we expect others to come help us. I’m extremely guilty of this myself. I’d much prefer to be served than to serve. Now of course I won’t tell others that, but that is naturally who I am. I think we are all guilty of this to an extent. We want greatness, but we are to lazy to put in the work. We want something, but won’t seek after it unless someone us does it for us. We look to be served.

More examples: We want a clean house, but we won’t pick up after ourselves. We expect someone else to. I’ve noticed that some guys won’t even flush a urnal if it isn’t an automatic flush. We dream of the places we want to go, we ‘pin’ the things we want to make, do, and/or eat, but we usually don’t put in the effort to make those dream comes true. But we get jealous of those on youtube who have worked their butts off to be able to live our dreams.

Now here’s an anomaly.

Jesus Christ came into the world to serve, not to be served.

Matthew 20:28

 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,and to give his life as a ransom for many.

I really feel like that defies everything that we’ve sorta become. It’s not that the world told us we are to be served. But over the years we’ve sorta come to expect others to serve us. But in reality, we aren’t worth being served. What have you done as in individual that makes you more important than the next person, especially so important that you should be served?

The only person worth serving is Christ, but despite that, He came to serve us. Humbling. With that in mind, it begs to ask the question, how can we serve others? In the littlest of things, in the biggest of things, how can we serve others? How can we humble ourselves before others?

John 13:5-6

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus washed His disciples feet. That’s gross in and off it self, but considering they didn’t have as good of hygiene as we do today, and that they were sandals, their feet are GROSS.  What does it look like today to follow the example that Jesus set. What does it look like for us to wash the feet of others? It means, no one is to good for us, doesn’t it? No one is below us. Even if you’re the best, you’re not.

For me, I think sometimes I try to dismiss others because I don’t like how they are, or I think to be blunt with my thoughts, that I am better than them for one reason or another. Only because they are different than me, and I can’t seem to normalize our differences?

James 2:3-4

If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I think again, that’s why James is talking about here in James 2. For whatever we like to favor some people over others because we rate them as a better person. But those who we dismiss, are still people. People who still have the same needs and wants that the rest of us have.

To pull this all together to an end, I believe as christians, we need to intentionally seek out ways that we can serve others, even to the point of humbling ourselves and perceiving our self image to not be as good as others, and that their should be no discrimination in who we serve.

Pride

Proverbs 8:13

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech.

A while back I started doing blog posts inspired from the book of proverbs. Verse by verse I was going. Eventually all the verses just started to become the same thing over and over again. I lost a lot of inspiration. In fact, it’s been since March 14th of last year since I last posted about Proverbs (view here). I have kept checking back on this next verse, reading it across almost every translation just to find some inspiration. I just honestly haven’t wanted to write about this verse, or any of the rest in the chapter. It’s all just become the same thing over and over again.

But alas, today I am pushing myself through it because sometimes with your relationship with God, and with others, you just have to keep pushing through despite how you feel.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil. Looks like we can categorize pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech under evil. How many of you hate evil? How many of you hate talking to someone and they start to get prideful, nothing they say is wrong, they have all the best stories, their way is always right, etc? Or how about arrogant people? Like trying to talk with Tony Stark, or Steve Jobs for example? Talking to people who are full of themselves is the worst. I think it’s clear to say we all hate this kind of evil.

But what about when it is in yourself? It’s easy to recognize it is within others, but what about yourself? Are you/can you be prideful or arrogant? Do you find yourself to be more right than wrong? Looking honestly at past situations, why do you think that is? Where you truly right, or was pride getting in the way from you admitting your wrong?

Maybe pride is stopping you from opening up to others. You like to control how others see you, you show others an edited version of you, but not the raw footage.

But to fear the Lord is to hate evil and pride and arrogance and evil behavior and perverse speech.

What is it in your own life that you are failing to recognize, but you can so easily recognize in others?

What Dust is Collecting Over Your Window?

Lamentations‬ ‭2‬:‭18-19‬

Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of beautiful Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.

That’s pretty intense if you think about it. A little back story: basically Jerusalem has committed sins against the Lord(what a surprise). Because of their sins, the Lord has removed His mercy from their land and now destruction is upon them. Jerusalem is being attacked, but it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into fighting back, they can’t win because the Lord has removed His protection from them. The Lord even broke down His own temple in Jerusalem. The prophets are no longer receiving visions from the Lord.

It seems Jerusalem has done some pretty terrible things against the Lord, perhaps maybe even more terrible than anything you’ve ever done, then again perhaps not. Whatever it was, it made God furious.

There’s two things I can’t help but notice in these verses though:

1) Jerusalem is still referred to as “beautiful”

So despite the many sins of Jerusalem, it is still referred to as “beautiful.” I just can’t imagine facing anyone’s wrath, but yet in the middle of it, you’re still referred to as beautiful. Jerusalem was/is God’s chosen nation, chosen people. Even in His wrath, He still loves them.

2)  There’s forgiveness

This one might be easy to miss. Despite the misery Jerusalem is in, they are still being told to offer their hearts back to God. They committed some pretty terrible sins against God, is currently experiencing His wrath, but somehow they are still being offered forgiveness through repentance and committing their hearts back to God.

This all relates back to us. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses some pretty crazy words to describe God’s relationship to us. He used words such as:

He choose us (v.4). Holy and blameless (v.4). Predestined us for adoption (v.5). Predestined (repeated in v.11). Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (v.13). 

As Jerusalem was God’s chosen people, we all are now God’s chosen people through faith in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we are all His beautiful children, and that’s the way He is going to refer to both you and I, despite what we do. Through faith, we have forgiveness of sins. Galatians reminds us over and over again that we are no longer slaves of the law, but slaves of Christ. It’s all about Him. It’s not about us. It’s not about what you’ve done, are doing, and will do, it’s about what He has done for us. Nothing can change His love for us.

I believe the catch, if there is one, is this: the more we chose to live for the world, the less of God we will see in our life. I heard this beautiful illustration of a glass window the other day. Sunlight was trying to enter the room, but because of the filthiness of the window, the sunlight couldn’t reach into the room. Dust had collected and layered itself over the window. That dust is our sins if we let it continue in our lives. Your sins are forgivable, but they still leave a mark on us. The strongest impact is that it gets in the way of letting Christ’s light into our heart. The more we sin, the less we feel God. That’s not to say if you aren’t feeling God, it is because of some sin in your life. But often, because of sin, we separate ourselves from God. It’s the consequence of the choice we make when we sin. Our sin creates a filter over the window and that changes the effect of God’s light into our hearts.

But there is always forgiveness, your window can always be cleaned, and not just cleaned, but be made new, and bigger!

No matter the guilt you are feeling, even if it is greater, or less then the guilt we see in Lamentations 2, God can restore your heart. That’s exciting. We can’t be to far gone for Him to heal us.

You’re still beautiful. You’re still forgiven.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.

Isaiah 43:25

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again.

Micah 7:18 -19

Where is another God like you,
    who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
    overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Ephesians 1:7

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

#WhiteandGold

The dress. Is it white and gold or blue and back? Myself, I tend to find it light blue and gold.

The Center Dress is the original dress.

The color you view the dress has everything to do with the environment an which we look at it. It’s an optical illusion.  Just like this cube. The brown square on top is the exact same color as the bright orange/yellowish square in the front.

But because of the context in which the squares are placed, our eyes perceive it as different colors.

What I noticed, and I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, is that we often take verses out of the bible and interrupt them the way we want to without their original context. Here are some of the most common that I have seen(And I’ve totally been guilty of this):

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Philippians 4:13

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Matthew 7:1

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

Matthew 7:7

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

1 Corinthians 10:13

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Sometimes we just see a verse that we really love the way it is, so we take it for ourselves. Sometimes we do this to justify a means, sometime we do it because the verse makes us feel better, but for whatever the reason, we all do it. Looking at sports, a team is not a team based off of their strongest member. A team is a team based off of the sum of the whole. Every last player and coach is just as important as the next.

This is just a friendly reminder, before you go picking out a verse, look at it’s context within the chapter, book, and the whole bible. Question yourself, are you looking to justify your actions or your happiness? Most importantly, create discussion. Nothing is better than sitting down with another person and discussion your interpretation of scripture with one another. You don’t have to life your life with Christ alone. Find a community and grow with others.

You

Timothy 2:1-2

my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Why does this mean to you, what does this mean to me?

I sit here and wonder what would give me, you, or anybody, the right and position to share our insights of the bible, God’s Word, with anybody? Fact is, I’m a sinner. I don’t follow God’s Word perfectly in my own life, actually, I don’t even come close to it. I don’t think anybody does. I feel like I should place myself in the position that I am always learning God’s Word and will never be ready to actually teach God’s Word. There’s just so much to learn and in this life time I’ll never fully understand God’s Word.

What will ever make me qualified to teach His Word?

The answer, God’s grace. I’ve found and seen that where we are weakest gives way for God’s grace to be strongest. Where God’s grace is, becomes where we are strongest. That’s more than just a pick me up cliche. It’s a true statement that is even backed by evidence in Scripture.

  • Abraham and Sarah couldn’t bear children. Abraham became the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5)
  • David was a small shepard boy, youngest of the family, not a soldier. He took the giant Goliath (1st Samuel 17)
  • Moses left Egypt abandoned by himself. He stuttered and was afraid to speak. He lead the Israelites (Exodus)
  • Paul hated Christians and killed them for a living. Now responsible for writing most of the New Testament (New Testament)

Those are just a few examples. Sometimes when I look at biblical examples, I can’t help but think ‘well that’s nice, but those are biblical examples. What about now in today’s age? Where is His grace making us strong?’ This answer is just as obvious. I look to my leaders.

Who is the one leading that alcoholic ministry? A former alcoholic. Who is the one that is leading that financial class? The one who was formerly broke and bankrupted. Who is the one that is leading that sexual purity ministry? One who use to be addicted to sexual immorality. The list goes on. You might even find that your pastor, or the person who has the best relationship with God, was once the furthest from God, but because of God’s grace they’ve felt His love and that inspires them to Him.

The area in which they struggled, God’s grace now resigns. Because of their struggle, they have a heart for those struggling in the same area and because they struggled, they understand the hurt and pain more than anyone else. God gave them grace and freed them from their struggle, and now they are able to help others.

It’s hard to feel qualified to share God’s message with others. It’s easy to feel like a hypocrite. To feel like you’re not worthy to add anything to the discussion of God. But you’ve been covered by God’s grace. Let His grace guide you. God has a purpose for each and everyone of us but we need to start by accepting His grace into our life. His death paid for your sins.

Pass on the grace that God has shown you to others. Pass it on, so that others may also pass it on. Let guide reside in your weaknesses.

2 Timothy 2:13

if we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.

Matthew 16:24

Then said Jesus unto His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up the cross and follow me.”

Short Bit on Evangelism

One of the questions I have been struggling with for years is why should we evangelize? I know that we should, but I could never come up with a core answer that I was satisfied with. I wondered, should we evangelize because we love others and don’t want to see them go to hell, should we evangelize because we love God and want to share Him with others? Whereas I thought those were good answers, I wasn’t satisfied with them.

Just the other day I was thinking about it again, and it finally hit me. There are three things I know to be true about God, one, that He is a loving God, two, that He is a jealous God, and three, God cannot be in the presence of sin. What this means to me is this, God wants us all to be saved, He wants us all to enter an eternal relationship with Him, but God can’t have that because of our sin. God is so pure, and we are so sinful, that we would burn in His presence. That’s why He had to send His Son down as a sacrifice for our sin so that we can be made pure before Him. It is only through His Son that we can be made sinless before God. I believe that is also why we can’t have God dwell here among us in the flesh like we so often crave, we would burn in His presence. I believe that is another reason why Jesus had to be made human. I believe that is why the devil seems so powerful to us, because he is ‘god of this world,’ the devil can live in this sinful place.

Our God loves us so much though that despite our sins, He still wants to call us home to Him. That is why it is our job to evangelize. God’s actual presence would destroy us, so it is our duty to be His witness.

And how is this done?

Think of your favorite leader, or simply your favorite person. When you tell others about them, what do you tell them? Do we tell others how much they don’t like this, that or the other thing? Or do you tell them what that person does to make you appreciate them? Especially with a favorite leader, do you tell everyone the things they hate, or do you tell them about all the good things they do, do you tell them about all the qualities that make them a good leader? For me, when I have a favorite leader, I love telling other people about all the good qualities about them.

What I noticed about the bible and God, is I often see people tell everyone what the bible is against, what God doesn’t like, and why they need to change their ways. Why can’t we tell others about what God has done for us? Why can’t we tell others about the healing He has down in our hearts? The new life He has given us? The second chances He gives us daily? That He blesses us daily simply because He loves us? Why can’t we tell others more about what God has done for you personally instead of what God disapproves of? Everybody knows what the bible condemns, but nobody seems to know what God can do for us.

Are You Consistent in Character?

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

All day long I’ve been looking forward to writing a post. This morning I was super inspired and came up with a whole bunch of ideas and topics I wanted to explore, but a few hours ago when I finally went to write, I lost all motivation. I couldn’t even get myself to write down the few words that I had started from my notebook. So I decided to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier instead, by the way it’s a great movie! Then I went to try to write again, I couldn’t.. So with my buddies, I started to watch the movie “The Hornets Nest” because one of our drill sergeants happens to be in that documentary. I was hooked within 10 minutes. All of a sudden everything that we have been training for the past few months came alive. I saw all our training exercises come alive in real life scenarios! But in the back of my mind I felt God tugging at me. I could hear the thoughts “you have limited time, and you’re going to spend it watching movies instead of digging into the Word?” It convicted me enough to the point where I told my friends I would have to watch it later and I was going to my room to read the bible. I happen to open straight up to Romans 12:2 and it inspired me.

One of my thoughts earlier today was, “I’m not interested in how you act around Christians, how you act in church.. I am interested in how you act in the world.”

Something I have noticed is how differently people act in Church verses how they act in the world. In Church they act so ‘high,’ they constantly speak praises about God, and simply they try to act as spiritually ‘cool’ as possible. And that is absolutely great! I love seeing people excited about God, I love seeing people act pure, I love seeing people praising the Lord! It inspires me! But then it gets confusing, cause we can see the same people out in the world and you would never know it’s the same person. How can you seek Jesus so much in Church and within Christian social groups, but once in the world, there’s no trace of Jesus in you? I’m guilty of this.

In Church this morning we were talking about Enoch. He’s mentioned in the bible twice, once in Genesis 5:23-24, and once in Hebrews 11:5. All we really know about Enoch is that he was faithful, and that God took him from earth. The first point our leader(I’m not sure if he is a pastor or not) made about Enoch is that “He is consistent in his path.” It got me thinking, how are we consistent in life? How can we be consistent in life? What does consistency look like? I think it starts with thanks. In hard times, in good times, no matter where you are at, no matter what happens, you can always give thanks.

Every once in a while I will challenge myself, or my friends, to only pray for thanks all day. Even when you get cut off in traffic, even when you get behind at work, even when your car won’t start, when you stub your toe, make it your first reaction to give thanks. In every situation there is always something to be thankful for, you just have to find it. When you do find it, you’ll find more joy throughout your day, and with that joy comes a loving attitude, and with love comes the sharing of Christ to others.

One of my favorite bible passages is Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

It doesn’t matter the circumstance, God can work through it for good.

Challenge yourself on how you can be more consistent in your life. How does your character different from when you are within the Church, to when you are within the world?

I just want to leave with one more thought that I may expand on later: Being Christian is not about being comfortable. Comfortability leads to being lukewarm, and as it says in Revelation 3:16

So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Be consistent. Be uncomfortable. Be faithful.