Stuff

Lose Your Stuff

Over the last couple of days, my wife and I have been preparing for an upcoming garage sale. Going through old items can be a fun time to remember long lost memories. It can also be a great reminder of how much junk we collect throughout the years. I find myself saying things like, “Seriously? Why did I keep this?” While I was sorting through the piles of trash (or treasure…I guess it’s all about perspective) I was reminded of a passage in Luke 9:1-3.

Jesus gathers his disciples together and empowers them to go out and do ministry on their own, in order to continue the legacy that Jesus left. Think of this as an internship of sorts, where they’re finally sent out to do the work that they’ve been learning about for the past couple years. After giving a little pep-talk, Jesus sends them on their way, WITH NOTHING. The real question is why? Why does he tell them not to bring anything? I think there’s a couple of reasons.

 

Stuff doesn’t fulfill our needs. God does.

Our worldly possessions don’t really fulfill any need. No matter how new our stuff is, no matter how advanced, we’re still going to have a longing for something more. I believe we’re designed that way for a purpose. Think about it, when’s the last time you bought a new phone? How long did the initial excitement last? Probably a week at best. How long was it until you wanted something else? I’m going to guess you’ve felt this feeling at one point or another. This is how we’re built. Stuff doesn’t fulfill our needs, but God does.

 

Stuff gets in the way of God’s purpose for our life.

Like his disciples, Jesus has called all of his followers into ministry. We all are to take part in that internship program that the disciples went through. Every believer is do act out on the Great Commission, to share the Gospel. Unfortunately, not many do. Stuff can be a reason why we don’t. Why go talk about Jesus, when we can play video games, or watch television? Why spend time in God’s word, when we can spend time on social media? Stuff can be distracting. Jesus didn’t allow his disciples to be distracted from their true purpose in life.

 

Don’t get me wrong: Jesus isn’t saying to sell everything. Not everyone is called to do that. What he’s saying is that when your stuff is getting in the way of you discovering and acting out on your purpose, then ditch it! Never forget that your worldly possessions won’t fulfill your needs, but God does. Lose your stuff. Find Jesus.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: JD Hancock)

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Rahab

God Used a Prostitute

The nation of Israel had left the slavery of Egypt, and had just spent 40 years wandering around the desert. Finally, God was telling them to take the land that was promised to them long ago. Joshua was the one that assumed the leadership role of the Jewish people. He sent spies into a town called Jericho in order to retrieve information prior to their conquest. The two men came across an unlikely of characters: a prostitute.

Rahab had heard what God was doing with the people of Israel. She and her family had heard the stories, and fear came upon them. The entire town of Jericho was afraid of what God could do to them. She was willing to do whatever it took to fight for that God. Are you?

 

Don’t let your past define you.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: we’ve all screwed up. At one time in our lives, we’ve all chosen sin over God. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul reminds us that nobody is righteous. Nobody alive can say that they’vbeen a good person, because there’s no such thing. We all have pasts that we’re ashamed of. That’s why Jesus died. He took care of it. The price was paid on the cross. Don’t let your past haunt you. Don’t let it define you. Start fresh just like Rahab did. Begin on a new journey of life that God is calling you to.

 

Life isn’t about what you did. It’s about what you do.

Because we’ve sinned, we all get death. The good news is this: if you have come to know Jesus as your savior, your price has been paid. When we start a relationship with Jesus, our slate is wiped clean. This means that life isn’t about what you did, but instead about what you do. With Jesus, you have a fresh start. What are you using that fresh start for? What are you doing for Jesus? Go live for God, just like Rahab did.

 

Don’t let your past define you. God used Rahab, a prostitute. He can use you too! If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to do so. Take a minute and read through the good news. If you want to begin that relationship today, or if you have questions, I’d love to talk.  Go live for Jesus!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: martinak15)

 

How has God been using you? Leave a comment below!

Searching

Searching for God’s Will

Christians are so cautious today about finding and focusing on God’s will for their lives, that sometimes it can be a hindrance. Often, any type of decision is one that we go to God for guidance. While Jesus modeled the life we should be living, and called us to live something similar, He doesn’t really care about the little decisions we make. What I mean is that God doesn’t really care what fast-food restaurant you choose to eat at. He doesn’t have an opinion on what team you should cheer for, or what color socks you should wear.

But what about when the big life decisions roll around? What then? How can we truly find God’s will in our specific situations? Last night, I taught a similar lesson to my local church youth group, and I thought it would be a fitting blog post for today. Here’s a few things you can do when you’re searching for God’s will.

 

Journey Through God’s Word

When you’re searching for God’s will in your life, what better thing to do then spend time in His word? Personally, it was after spending a lot of time reading scripture that pushed me to hear God’s call on my life into ministry. If you’re planning on hearing from God, you’re not going to do so unless you’re spending time in His word.

 

Spend Time in Prayer

Prayer is another thing we take for granted. In the beginning, God created everything. He made Adam and Eve from the dust of the ground. He breathed life into you and me, and we can talk directly to Him. Prayer is such a powerful thing. If you’re planning on hearing from God, it’s not going to happen if you’re not praying.

 

Listen to the Holy Spirit

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside you. I know, creepy. When we come to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are filled with God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us, comforts us, and helps us in times of need. If you’re planning on hearing from God, start listening.

 

Listen to What People Have to Say

Surprisingly, God put people in our lives for a reason. If someone has experience in a certain area that you are questioning, talk with them. They’re experts for a reason. Go talk to people. Get advice from those that know what they’re talking about. If you’re planning on hearing from God, listen to what people have to say.

 

No matter what you’ve heard, God made you special and he made you with purpose. Find that purpose today, and start living the life you were created to live!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Damian Gadal)

Love

Fight Sin with Love

Let’s face it: life is a battle. Every day is a journey filled with many obstacles to overcome. In the Bible, God describes an even larger battle that’s ongoing. It’s the battle of good against evil. In the beginning, sin entered the world through Adam & Eve. We’ve all done it. We’ve all sinned. At one point or another, we’ve chosen to satisfy our own selfish desires instead of following God. In the battle of life, sin is on one side of the battlefield. What’s on the other side though?

In 1 John 4:8, we see that whoever doesn’t love, doesn’t truly know God. In the last part of that verse, we read that God is love. In this battle of life we speak of, sin is up against it’s nemesis: love. These two are like water and oil. They simply don’t mix. It’s a battle out there. Here’s why…

 

Selfishness is the Root of Sin

Sin comes in many shapes and sizes. We’ve all been there at one point or another. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve all stolen the cookies out of the cookie jar when we shouldn’t have. Everyone has lied, cheated, or taken unethical shortcuts. The truth is, nobody is perfect. We’ve all sinned because we want to satisfy our own selfish desires. We’ve taken the cookies because they seemed desirable at the time. We’ve lied because it seemed to be the best thing to make ourselves look good. Selfishness is behind all sin.

 

Humility is the Root of Love

A constant theme of scripture is the idea of humility. We’re told to have a realistic view of ourselves. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves, and at the same time we shouldn’t think too less of ourselves. No matter how much you don’t want to hear it, you’re not God. At the same time, you aren’t dirt. You’re somewhere in between. As followers of Jesus we’re called to love just like he did on the cross. Jesus paid our price on the cross. He didn’t shed his blood for any of his own purposes, but for our benefit. He was humble and he did it because he loved. Love humility in action.

 

Love is a Direct Attack on Sin

Life is a battle. It’s sin against love. Satan is pushing for sin. He wants to push you and me into a lifestyle of selfish pleasures. God on the other hand is pushing for something more. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, paid our price in full, so that we could live. He wants us to share this good news of love with the world, by speaking words of love and living a life of love. He wants us to fight sin with love!

 

Everyday we have a choice. We can either satisfy the desires of the flesh, or we can choose to put others before ourselves. Today, I choose love. I hope you do too. Join the fight. Let’s destroy sin with love. As always, don’t forget to comment below and subscribe to occasional email updates.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: photosteve101)

Hockey

Hockey Players & Jesus Followers

As I was listening to the sermon this Sunday, all I could think of was hockey. In Romans 12, Paul spends a great deal of time explaining what it really means to be a genuine follower of Jesus. Right away, Paul addresses that, as Christians, we should be apart from the world, living a life of worship. Our lives should be living sacrifices for God. Everything we are, and everything we do should be done for Him as an act of worship.

As I sat listening to this sermon and as the congregation was being challenged to go “deep in Christ”, all I could think of were hockey players. Let’s face it: hockey’s a tough sport. You cannot be afraid to get hit by the puck, and the puck is no laughing matter. It’s a frozen chunk of solid rubber that’s traveling roughly 100 miles an hour. To make matters worse, the few seconds you do end up with the puck, you become target number one.

Hockey players aren’t small dudes. When you do have the puck, they’re going to do whatever it takes to separate you from it. You’re either going to end up sandwiched between a player and the boards, or you’re going to be hit so hard you won’t know what planet you’re on. Hockey players define what it means to be a living sacrifice. But what does Jesus mean when he tells his followers to be living sacrifices?

 

Being a living sacrifice means living your best.

Hockey players are always shifting from the bench, to the ice, and back to the bench. The average time a hockey player spends on the ice is less than a minute at a time. But the time they do spend playing, is a time when they give it their all. Being a living sacrifice for Jesus means living our best all the time. We can’t let our guard down. We have to be at the top of our game. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice.

 

Being a living sacrifice means worship.

A life of sacrifice has purpose. Hockey players aren’t sacrificing their time, their health, and their teeth for nothing. There’s purpose behind their sacrifices. When it comes to being a living sacrifice for Jesus, there’s purpose behind that too, and that purpose is worship. If we live our lives sacrificially, we are living lives of worship. Worship shouldn’t be something we do for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. It’s not something we do while we’re listening to our favorite worship album in the car. Worship should be done all day, every day by the lives we live.

 

Being a living sacrifice for Jesus is kind of similar to playing hockey. You put your best foot forward, and you do it purposefully. Jesus was a living sacrifice for us. The least we can do is be a living sacrifice for Him! Go deep in Christ this week. Be a living sacrifice. Don’t forget to cheer for your favorite hockey team this playoff season, and  leave a comment below about how you have been living a life of worship this week.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Just a Prairie Boy)

Light

Let Your Light Shine

So, maybe you’ve heard of the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus walks up a mountainside, sits down, and after a crowd gathers he begins to teach. Jesus instructs his disciples and the crowd about many things. But there’s a little passage at the beginning of his famous sermon, that I’m interested in today.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus calls us the light of the world. He told the crowd, the disciples, and even his followers today that we must go out into the world and spread the light. But what does this mean exactly? How can we let our light shine in this dark world? Here’s a couple of ways…

 

Living as the light means living a Jesus-honoring life.

When we sin we don’t want others to see. We often disobey God in the shadows of life, intending to hide it from the world and even God. In the light however, we tend to put our best foot forward. What if your life were in the light all the time? Light exposes darkness, it exposes sin. That’s how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to live lives that would glorify our Father, free from darkness and sin. Turn from what is evil, and cling to what is good. Live a life of light.

 

Living as the light means living a life of action.

Living as the light not only means living a Jesus-honoring life, but also living a life of action. Jesus says that when we live as the light, people will see our good works and give glory to God. Our good works are not done just because they’re fun. We don’t do good works to show people how good we are. We live a life of action for a purpose: to push people toward Jesus. The life that Jesus called us to live is a life of light and action. Go out and be the light.

 

This week, be the light. Live a life that honors God, and a life of action. Be purposeful this week in your interactions with others. Go out and spread the light. As always, don’t forget to comment below about your experience as the light.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: mccun934)

Fearless

Fearless

This week’s first post was on a passage I read in John 20:19-23. It was the first time Jesus showed himself to his disciples following the resurrection. Before this passage, the disciples witnessed a bloody crucifixion. Jesus had met with his disciples, washed their feet, and led them in the Lord’s Supper. He took them to the garden to pray, and they saw Jesus being carried off by the guards. The disciples witnessed the illegal trials where Jesus was falsely accused. They watched as Roman Governor Pilate called for Jesus to be crucified.

His disciples were there, watching Jesus carry his cross to the place of the skull. They watched the nails being driven. They saw Jesus hanging on the cross. After breathing his last, Jesus’ disciples prepared his body for burial and laid him to rest in a sealed and guarded tomb. They saw the brutality that the Jews and the Romans took out on Jesus, and they figured that they’d be next. The disciples were afraid, and were hiding behind locked doors.

We too experience fear. Fear is a natural part of life. Some people are afraid more than others. At one point or another, everyone is afraid. The Bible speaks a lot about fear. Here’s a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re afraid.

 

There’s only one thing we really need to fear.

All throughout scripture we’re told that there’s really only one thing we need to fear: God. He’s the creator of the universe. He’s the one that breathed life into us. We shouldn’t fear things of this earth. There’s no need for us to be afraid of spiders, public speaking, or clowns. We shouldn’t be afraid of being alone in the dark, creepy basements, or making the wrong decision. God should be the only one we fear. But the fear we should have for God isn’t the fear we generally think of. When we were younger, and we did something wrong, our fathers would correct us. Some fathers are more forgiving and some fathers…aren’t. Either way, a child has a healthy dose of love, respect, and fear for their father. It should be the same with our Heavenly Father. We need to fear God, in order to develop a good relationship with him.

 

When we trust in God, we can be fearless.

When we place our trust and have faith in God, we can be fearless. There’s no reason to be afraid of not succeeding, because God’s with you. We shouldn’t be afraid of the neighbors next door, because God won’t give you anything he knows you can’t handle. Being afraid of sharks is unnecessary, because they’re just a part of the beauty of God’s creation. God is the one in control. He’s the one calling the shots. Instead of being afraid, God tells us that we’re supposed to be full of self-control, love, and power. Trust him. Have faith that he’ll help you through it, whatever it is, that’s causing you to be afraid. Don’t let your fear get the best of you. Be fearless!

 

The disciples were experiencing genuine fear in the days following Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus found them in their fear, and gave them a reason to be fearless. He died on the cross for our sins, and paid our price. By defeating death, and overcoming the power of sin, Jesus proved the he can get you through any fear. What are you afraid of? Comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to get daily posts sent directly to your email! (See bottom of site)

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Vox Efx)

Selfie

I Took A Church Selfie

If you don’t know what a selfie is, I’m not sure where you’ve been the last 10 years. Probably under a rock somewhere in some far-off corner of the globe. In the slightest chance you haven’t heard of them, they’re pretty simple. You hold your phone up, aim it at your gorgeous face and say cheese! Estimates have shown that there are over 1 million selfies taken every day. That’s a lot of selfies.

Selfie1

Something as simple and as fun as a selfie can be a useful teaching tool. For example, to a lot of people’s surprise, I actually used the idea of a selfie in my previous sermon last Sunday. I told everyone to take out their phones and take one during service. I even took one myself while I was preaching. For all you doubters, I’ve even included proof in this post. The selfies were snapping on Sunday. Here’s why…

 

A snapshot of your life.

When we take a selfie we’re taking a snapshot of our lives. It’s something to remember a moment with. It’s a way to highlight a time or season. But it’s even more than that. A selfie is a snapshot of you. That one picture, in a way, captures who you are as a person. It’s a snapshot of our life that we show the world. The real question is what are you showing? What do people see when they see your selfie?

 

Selfie2What do people see when they see your selfie?

When the world sees your selfie, what do they see? I’m sure they see the best of the best, because it’s not very often you find someone snapping a selfie during the rougher times in life. Similarly, what do people see when they look at your social media presence as a whole? Are you giving an honest picture, or are you just highlighting the best of the best? When taking a selfie, how do you want people to see you? What do you want people to see when they look at that selfie? What’s important to you?

 

In your selfie, do people see Jesus?

Today, people will claim to see Jesus in weird places. Don’t be confused. I don’t mean that we should literally look for Jesus in selfies like they’re some sort of Where’s Waldo? book. People should see Jesus in your selfies in a different way though. Like I said in a prior post, we’re all called to be witnesses for Jesus. Moments before ascending into heaven, Jesus left us with a command to be his witnesses to the world. He told us to go out and share the gospel in order to make disciples. We’re called to represent Jesus to the world. The question is: are you? In your selfie, or your life snapshot, do people see someone that’s living for Jesus, or do they see someone that’s living for themselves? What do they see in your selfie?

 

This week, I have a challenge for each one of you. Go out and be witnesses for Christ like we’ve been called to be. Let this calling define who you are this week. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take a selfie to leave in the comments below.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: *Passenger*)

Abortion

54 Million

This week, I came across a statistic that shocked me. Since 1973, over 54 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone. Let me give some perspective to the size of this problem. WWII, one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen, was the cause of just over 405k American casualties. In 2014, Spain’s population totaled 47 million. Over the course of 38 years, over 54 million abortions took place.

Like many other issues that are highly debated in today’s world, the topic of abortion is constantly in the spotlight. The legality and practice of abortions vary state to state, but overall, in the United States abortion is legal and widely accepted. Surprisingly, even among Christians, abortion is an acceptable option during pregnancy. Unfortunately, in my take on scripture, I’ve yet to find evidence in support of a practice such as abortion. In fact, Jesus would even go so far as to say that abortion is murder, and that life begins at conception.

Like my previous post in reference to the gay marriage debate, this simple blog post isn’t going to change the way we think about abortions. I don’t intend to give a solution to this epidemic. However, I do intend to give a few reminders to help guide the Christian response to the issue. The following are a few reminders we should keep in mind when approaching the topic of abortion.

 

Aborting a life is one sin among many.

In Jeremiah 1:5 we see God tell Jeremiah that he was known by God before being formed in the womb. God told Jeremiah that he was set apart as a prophet before birth. It’s passages like this that push me to the biblical viewpoint that life begins at conception, and we all know that taking an innocent life, or murder, is clearly labeled as sin. But with that being said, we shouldn’t be so quick to cast the first stone. Sure, abortion is sin, but so is lying, stealing, cheating, sexual immorality, etc. The fact is we’ve all fallen short. We’ve all, at one point or another, chose to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh instead of honor God. Keep that in mind as you approach the topic of abortion.

 

God doesn’t advocate or support sin, nor should we.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again: God doesn’t advocate or support sin. We shouldn’t either. For God to be God, he can’t be pro-sin. In the beginning, immediately following creation, Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. They couldn’t enjoy the fellowship with God in the garden that they once enjoyed because of their sins. In other words, sin got in the way of mankind and God, because God can’t be attached to it. In no way does God support sin. We shouldn’t either. Something else to keep in mind when we approach the abortion issue.

 

In his defeat of death and sin, Jesus proved he can bring new life.

Because we sinned, Jesus had to die. Blood had to be shed. The price had to be paid. Jesus willingly paid our price on the cross. He bled, and he breathed his last, for you. Then Easter happened. Jesus didn’t stay dead. In his defeat of death and sin, Jesus proved to us that we can have new life through him. Maybe you’ve done something in your past that you just cannot let go. Maybe you lived a life so dark that it haunts you to this day. Jesus can take care of it. The price has already been paid. Your slate has been wiped clean. With Jesus you too, can overcome the power and grasp of sin. Jesus offers hope, healing, and new life. With millions of women going through with an abortion last year alone, this message of restoration is one that we shouldn’t forget when we approach the abortion discussion.

 

If you’re wrestling with the decision of going through with an abortion, or maybe you’ve had an abortion in the past and are looking for Jesus to offer a way out, I’d encourage you to connect with me. I’d love to talk with you and point you to the many priceless resources our world has to offer. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Transformer18)

Locked Door

Locked Doors

Recently, I read a passage found in John 20:19-23. It was evening on the first Easter Sunday. The stone had been rolled away, and the angels had told the Mary’s, “He has risen“. Unaware of what had happened at the tomb that morning, the disciples had locked themselves in a room in fear that the Jews would come for the disciples next.

Christ’s disciples just saw what had happened to Jesus. They saw him die. Some of them even helped to prepare Jesus’ body and lay him to rest. They witnessed the stone being rolled to seal up the grave. They saw it all go down. It was over. What the promised Messiah was supposed to bring to Israel, a physical Kingdom on earth, was now lost. Jesus was dead, and the disciples figured they were next.

The doors were locked, but according to the passage, Jesus just showed up. Today, let’s take a look at that locked door passage and learn a couple things about Jesus.

 

Nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

As much as you think it is, your sin isn’t too big, and your past isn’t too dark for Jesus. No matter what you’ve done with your life, you haven’t screwed up enough to the point where Jesus cannot come into your life. The price for our sins has already been paid, and it was paid in full. Jesus died on the cross that was for us. We were the ones with the death sentence. He simply took on death and sin so that we wouldn’t have to. We’re good now. Our slate of wrongdoings has been wiped clean. It’s now ‘white-as-snow’. No matter what you’ve done, or how bad you think you’ve lived your life, stop lying to yourself: nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

 

Jesus meets us where we are.

In the first time Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection, Jesus didn’t go to the door, knock, and wait for them to come to him. He didn’t come to the edge of the house and call out for them. He didn’t come to the edge and wait for them to find him. He came and met them where they were. Jesus does that with us today as well. He meets us where we are. I’m not taking about simply your physical location but everything else too. Not only can Jesus find us at any address, but he can go where no other doctor can go. He can love when nobody else can love. He can counsel where no other counselor can. He can meet you, wherever you are, and whatever your situation may be.

 

Maybe you think that your past is too dark, too sinful for Jesus to come into your life? Maybe you’re in a painful situation or a time in your life that you simply need help. Nothing stands in his way. Jesus can meet us where we are. All we must do is start that relationship with him. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to read the gospel message in full. See what God has done for us, and how you can start that relationship today. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below about how Jesus met you where you were.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: bulletsoul23)