Friday, November 23, 2012

Gems in the rough

Gems... Rubies, Diamonds, Sapphires, and others I can't remember. These have been used so many times to describe our Christian walks. I would agree they are very good for illustration because of the picture it paints of how much God values us in our human minds. Think about it, to describe how much something is worth to us we use something extremely valuable in our minds and compare it to that. Now I guarantee God would not use a Gem to describe how much we mean to him but to our fragile human minds thats the best thing that makes sense. I mean to God gems are as worthless as dirt. However to describe his love he takes something we value and says, "You are worth million times more to me than this small thing you call valuable."

It is a beautiful picture to have a God so big call us beautiful in his eyes and say he wants to work on us. It is more than we deserve and could ever ask for! I mean in a sense we are all really gems in the rough at the beginning. God hasn't started to work on us(or we haven't let him) yet and we still have rough edges and don't look pretty. Now while I really like that picture of God smoothing us out and working on us I just realize something recently. Why do we need to smooth out gems? Why do we polish it and work hours to make it look beautiful? Well just that! To make it beautiful! But what makes it beautiful? Well most people would tell you the color or the purity. Well I must point something out first. You know that gleam a gem gives off? Or that color it has? Would you see that if it were dark?

So often we get caught up in letting God work on us we forget to be a beacon of hope to others. To show others what life with Christ looks like. I am not saying letting God work on us is a bad thing! By all means no, it is a great thing! However when we don't shine out for Christ what was the point of letting God work in us? Just like you can't see a gem without light neither can people see Christ if he isn't reflected in us. With out light reflecting of that polished surface you wouldn't be able to see that amazing gem. We need to reflect Christ with our entire being to let God work in us then let him shine in our lives!

I would like to point out there is another problem with this. During this process it can be very easy to start to show off our own beauty(beauty God created in us nothing we did on our own). When that happens we are giving off a wrong impression. We are taking credit for something amazing God did in our life. That is the other side of the ditch. We must never let that happen. We must let God work in us, polish us, smooth us out, then reflect him, and finally point those who see our beauty to the one who actually did the work.

So I challenge you my brothers and sisters to shine for Christ. Not only shine for Christ but when people comment about that beauty in our lives don't just smile and nod but boldly speak out for the one who made that beauty. Don't let Satan deceive you into thinking you did all that work. In every aspect of your life give God glory and let His kingdom reign! May God bless you all this week.

Your bro in Christ,


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Emotionless God Myth

It feels like so often Christians nowadays see God as distant and not emotionally attached to our decisions. What do I mean by that? I mean that so many people assume that whatever we do doesn't affect God. That he doesn't grieve, feel hurt, or joy. Yeah we hear about things that hurt God and things that make him happy but how often do we actually think about how our actions affect God? I know I am guilty of not thinking about it as much as I should.

In my Old Testament class we went over Ezekiel in detail. To set the stage Ezekiel was a prophet in Babylon during the time of the taking of captives from Jerusalem to Babylon as well as the destruction of Babylon. Ezekiel was a one who saw visions of what was exactly happening in Jerusalem while he was in Babylon. With those visions he then described them to his fellow Israelites to tell them what was going on in Israel. Another interesting thing about Ezekiel was the fact that he was very in tune with God's feelings and emotions. What God felt he portrayed through Ezekiel to give us an example of how he really feels.

So with that setting there are many times that God portrayed his emotions through Ezekiel but I wanted to point out one main event. That was the day Jerusalem was destroyed. Before that day God had told Ezekiel that on that day he would lose something. God lost Jerusalem along with his temple and at that same time Ezekiel lost the closest person to him besides God... his wife. The same day God was grieving for his people who had walked away from him Ezekiel was grieving for his wife. Talk about a massive blow and what an example to show what God was feeling!

Yesterday was exactly six months from when my closest friend died. That was a dark day in my history. I have neglected to write about how I feel about it or how I was dealing with it because words seemed to small to describe what I was and am going through. Every memory of him is sweet yet at the same time it feels like someone stabbed me in the heart and was slowly twisting the knife. Every time I see a picture of him I want to cry. He means more to me than words can describe but many times I try and fail. Yet through all of that I realize now that God was grieving with me. God feels what I feel he is not just sitting up there watching expressionless. During those times God came by me and comforted me giving me hope for the future and the strength to go on.

With that we also have to remember that he doesn't only feel what we feel but he feels what we do. Have you ever tried to imagine every time you sin what God's reaction is? I know I haven't done it as much as I should. God does indeed feel pain and hurt when you sin against him. He is grieved when you fall away and don't follow his words. He wants us to be joyful and satisfied in him. When I thought about the pain I feel every time I think about my friend and then took that and applied it to what God feels when we sin against him it really put things into perspective. Because I know my pain is nothing compared to what He feels when we sin and when you put it that way it really helps you visualize that pain He feels. Would you really want to cause God so much pain just to please yourself? I know I wouldn't!

So what would happen if you took all the things you do and thought about if they please God or not?
Would you find that a lot of what you do is God pleasing or does it cause him grief?

So I challenge you to evaluate your life and look at what causes God grief and change that. Turn that into something God can take joy in. This life is so much bigger than living for ourselves. There is so much joy and fulfillment to find in following God and his word. Don't give up just because you feel depressed, sad, or angry. Remember God knows what your going through. Tell him about it and ask him to help you through it. Remember the power of prayer! Stay Strong!

Your bro in Christ,


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After your heart

Wow so much has changed since last time I wrote yet it feels like nothing has happened if you know what I mean. One thing I have been dealing with lately is the fact of where my heart has been. Think about it. All over the bible it talks about where our treasure is there our heart will be also. I have been trying to evaluate where my heart has been. What is taking my attention, efforts, and energy. To be honest not much that seems to put my treasure in heaven. 

So what is with my title "after your heart?" I was one day listening to this song "After your Heart" by Phil Wickham. By the way I love Phil Wickham he has great music and lyrics. So I was listening to this song and it hit me. That is the battle I face every day. I face the battle of giving my heart away. The world is after my heart to indulge in the things of this world. The Holy spirit is after my heart to do things that benefit my life in heaven. Every day I have the choice to either give my heart to the world or  to the Holy spirit. So what do I do. Usually to be honest I give into the world but my ultimate desire is to give my heart wholly to God. 

I want my heart to burn after God. To have my treasure in heaven. To make what I do here count to my heavenly home. Yet the devil and the world everyday go after our hearts to pull us away from God and focus on our own selfish desires. We must fight against the flow of the world to put our hearts in the right place and trade in our selfish desires for selfless ones. To take humbleness instead of pride, scorn instead of praise, the hard road instead of going with the flow. It is a battle that you will face everyday. Like the song talks about I want to go higher in my love life with God. I want my love for my God to fill me to overflowing and then for that love to flow out of me to those around me. 

So I challenge you to fight against the norm and give your heart to God to grow closer to him. What does that look like? It can take on many forms. It can manifest itself in material things(buying a lot of stuff), in always trying to look good(outward beauty, looking cool), getting your joy from this world instead of relying on God for joy and love, and many other forms. Pray about it and find an area where the devil is winning in the battle for your heart. Then take this challenge: to fight in that area to give God glory and control. To let that selfish desire or whatever it is die and rely on God for it instead.

So what will you do? Will you let the devil win in the battle for your heart and desires? Or will you stand up and fight? Will you take the challenge to examine your heart and fight against the devil? Or will you just sit back and let the devil win? Its your choice but remember you can't do it alone. I have made that mistake so many times in thinking that I could do it on my own and trust me it doesn't work. You will need major backup. Grab a friend and try to take the challenge together but most of importantly pray and ask God for help. He is the number one person who can help you in this battle. Like my other posts state prayer works and in this situation you will need a lot of it.

Fight on Brothers and Sisters! Fight against complacency, lukewarm spiritual life, pride, and the like! Get on your knees and fight like a man(or woman)!

Your bro in Christ,


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Where do we go from here

Recently my life came to a screeching stop. To be more accurate I should say mine was put on pause my best friend's came to an end... You really never know when your time on this world will come to an end. You never know how much of an impact you have around the people in your life. Every little decision makes such a difference in the grand scheme of things, such a difference that one small decision can change the course of people's lives all around you. That one decision to follow what you believe in to strive after something worth living for.

Okay well now down to it. To be less cryptic my best friend Josh Eddy died on May 5th 2012 following his passions photography and Christ. Josh was the closest friend I have ever had. We meet at church one day when our fathers introduced us and at that time I had no idea how close of friends we would become. If I remember correctly It was about two weeks later when I invited him over to my house. That day we clicked, we had majorly different personalities he was out going and very right brained. I was an introvert and very left brained but we understood each other so well. We were able to mention any scenario or emotion and instantly we knew what the other was talking about.

From there I friendship took off, from that Sunday on we went to each others house every Sunday without fail. Even with those long Sunday afternoons during the week we would call each other and talk for hours about whatever was on our minds. Our friendship quickly took on a whole new level. We talked to each other about everything we were having problems with, our likes, dislikes, and the like(yes pun intended). Josh's love for photography and my love for adventure brought about many amazing adventures together. In our minds the things we did were bigger than anything in the world even if it only consisted of having a long talk walking around the neighborhood late at night.

Our conversations consisted of everything a normal teenage guy would have on his mind but at the base of it all there was always that thirst for being a man of God. We both felt it and as we grew closer and more knowledgeable of the things of God that urge grew stronger. To do something for God's kingdom, break out of the mold that had been put on teenage guys, and be a true Godly young man were all things we longed for. The biggest thing we talked about besides God was our future. How we wanted to make the right decisions now so that our future would be that much more worth it for whoever we meet and interacted with.

The next biggest milestone in our friendship was Josh's move. I thought that was the hardest thing I would ever go through, boy was I wrong. I missed him so much but thanks to technology called a phone we conversed regularly and something strange happened. Our friendship grew more when we were apart then when we were together. We had limited time with each other so we talked more seriously and deeply. We started challenging each other and moving forward.

One day I was in the shower and Josh calls which wasn't shocking at all since we talked every other day for an hour or two. The shocking part was he said it couldn't wait until I was done with my shower.  So I got out of the shower and took the phone from my mom and he told me he was in the hospital at first I thought he was joking but quickly realized he wasn't. He had recently that day came inches away from death after he fell off a zip line and landed in a creek which caused him to have to have 4 staples and more stitches in his head. From then on Josh had a different view of life. Half the time it was more real and what it should have been but the other half was he became depressed. He was going through the same thing I am going through now. That our lives felt so controlled by sin and self-centeredness that we could never break out of it. Those conversations led into many good and complicated discussions.

Finally it came down to it. Josh had decided after much discussion with me and others to pursue his paramedic training. He almost opted out of it because he heard how hard it would be on his family but in the end he went with it. His decision lead him to go to ALERT basic training. The first miracle I had witnessed was a month before he had to leave. He still didn't have all the money he needed and we were talking on the phone. We were joking how God could provide the money in 30 mins or less if God wanted him to go. Later on in the conversation Josh was interrupted by his parents who said they had just found a package outside that they hadn't seen and it was for him. So he left for a moment, opened the packaged, and came back to the phone almost speechless. He asked how long had it been since we said God could provide the money. We calculated it and it came out to exactly 30 mins after we said God could provide it in 30 mins or less. We were both blown away and we said good by with wonder in our voices.

So with that Josh got his gear and left for ALERT. I missed him so much while he was gone. I wrote him four letters while he was gone with what we usually talked about when we were on the phone. The shocking part was when he came back I was the first person to see him besides his parents and he said we needed to talk. The whole time I thought I was keeping him informed about what was happening in my life in my letters. Instead I was just telling the surface things which wasn't what he was looking for but showed him my true heart. That night I will never forget. We were sitting in a parking lot and he all of a sudden looks at me and gives me a challenge. He told me that I was going down a path that slowly lead to death and I wasn't seeing the tell tale signs. He challenged me to stop my life and get rid of everything that was hindering my walk with God and run after him. In many words he put my life in perspective and showed me what I should do and then told me about how ALERT had changed him and what he had to do when he got home. Let me tell you to hear him verbally tear me down by showing me my sins hurt worse than anything I had felt before but he did it in love. If it were anyone else I probably wouldn't have listened but our friendship was so close that I knew he would only do it to help me even though it hurt him to do it. Lets say I didn't sleep well that night.

The last time I saw Josh was on his 19th birthday. That weekend was an awesome time full of ups, downs, and awesome adventures..... A month later my family was hosting a prayer meeting at our house when we received an email that said Josh had fallen in a river and was missing and was most likely dead. I have never cried so much over the next few days and weeks in my life. I have started and stopped this blog post so many times trying to paint a picture of who Josh really was and how much he meaned to me. I have come to the conclusion that I can't do it. A picture is worth a thousand words and it would take more than I can count of those to tell you how much he meant to me and paint a vivid picture of who he was.

Josh wasn't perfect and neither was I, thats why we got along so well. We both saw the importance of living a life dedicated to God and we both ran after it. Josh reached and attained his goal of getting closer to God. I on the other hand am left here with a hole in my heart and aching to know Christ like Josh knows him now.

So to Josh.... I miss you so much. It hurts so bad every time I think about you and the great talks and times we had together. No one can understand how bad it hurts and nobody can help me. I wish I was with you in heaven and my pain was taken away. Every time I think of you I cry like I am crying now and I don't think it will ever get any easier....

To God.... I want to follow you with my entire being. I don't want anything to get in my way. I want you to break my heart so your truth and healing can sink into it. I want to use the gifts you have given me to the greatest extent and become the man of God you want me to be. I want to know you as Josh knows you now and I want your love to overflow onto the people around me allowing me to be a witness for you.

To those reading this... What are you doing with your life? Are you wasting it with frivolous things of this world and hoping things will change on their own? Are you feeling lonely and empty? God is holding out his hand of mercy and help. Will you take the challenge I lay in front of you to take God's hand and pursue him with your entire being? Will you remove those things in life that hinder you from growing closer with God and get down to living life the way its meant to be lived?

Will you surrender your most precious dream whatever it may be and give it to God to do what he will with it?

So where do we go from here? I have to trust God that he will fill that gap of loneliness I feel from Josh's death and will work in my life to grow. I have to surrender my dreams and hopes with the assurance that it will be worth it.

One last thing. The day I went down for Josh's funeral I woke up really early and hiked Table Rock, the last hike I did with Josh, and let me tell you watching the sun come up over that ridge I experienced exactly what Josh did that he wrote about. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen and not being able to share it with someone like Josh wrote about broke my heart right there. However there is consolation if God can create something that absolutely beautiful think of what he can do with your dreams.

Your bro in Christ,


Monday, April 9, 2012

Heavenly Focused Mind

James 1:14-15  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 

Now most of you would say, "duh" to the fact that the more you focus on one thing the less you will focus on other things. Yet you realize it so much more when you actually experience it. In the past few weeks I have been realizing the importance of focusing on Christ continually. The more I focused on my work and the problems in my life the less I focused on Christ and the more frustrated and depressed I became. Yet the more I focused on God, his grace, his forgiveness, and heavenly things the more I became happy I was alive and thankful for the small things in life. Focusing on Christ continually will leave little time for other things to dominate your thoughts. James makes this very clear in the above passage. He points out the importance of focusing on Christ by showing you the opposite affect. The more you focus on the things of this world and of sinful desires the more likely you will be to act on those thoughts and desires. How do 100% of all sins start? With a thought, that thought carries into a desire then finally into action. 

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

Now what would happen in you focused all your thoughts on Christ and heavenly things? I think its safe to assume you would be less likely to think of things of this world. This is what James is trying to say. He is trying to show you that the thoughts of man will direct his path. The devil is always trying to plant evil thoughts in our minds to cause us to sin, however; God gives us the strength to fight those thoughts. If you are continually keeping your mind on Christ and heavenly things your perspective will likely change on many parts of your life. Since thoughts direct your actions with your thoughts on Christ you will begin to put into action things God would want you to do. Prayer ties into this. Praying causes us to focus not on ourselves but on Christ. This focus will cause us to think on things of God and hopefully spurn us onto following God more in whatever form that may come in. So in your prayer life a great thing to pray for is for God to give you the strength to fight evil thoughts and help you focus on things of God. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It All Starts With Prayer (Part 2)

Prayer is a powerful thing. Its is probably the most powerful thing you will ever encounter in you life. Yet how many people actually view it as powerful? What does your prayer life look like? Does your prayer time start good but after a little bit you get distracted then you end up feeling guilty that you got distracted. Then after feeling guilty you give up because you aren't getting anywhere? Prayer is the basis for our Christian faith, the main way you should build a relationship with someone is to talk to them. You need to communicate with them and if there are things in your life that are hindering you from that you won't have a good relationship. Your relationship with God needs to start with God at the center.

Listen if you don't feel close to God or you feel like your prayer life is extremely lacking Pray! Stop your life and pray. Don't let your life continue to go on without God at the center because if you don't stop your life you will find yourself drifting away from God at an alarming rate. Clear away all the distractions, give God as much of your time as you can, and talk to him. Seriously consider how your prayer life with God is and be willing to listen to what God wants you to change. God listens! Tell him exactly what your feeling. If you don't feel close to Him or you want to have a better prayer life tell him. If you feel depressed all the time and worn out tell him! If you want something to change in your life that you know needs to change tell him. God loves to listen to what you have to say to him. He wants to help you, he is always there for you. Come to him as you are. God already loves you as you are so why try and make yourself look better? Come to him with all your problems and believe that he will begin a good work in you. Your relationship starts with prayer, with communication with a Holy and Amazing God! Don't let the distractions of life pull you off your walk with God. With that said now might be a great time to stop and pray.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It All Starts With Prayer

Have you ever felt like your prayer life is close to non-existent. That you can never seem to prayer without being interrupted, distracted, or bored? Do you feel like you don't have that closeness with God that you have been longing for your whole life. Well let me tell you I have been finding out that everything starts with prayer. Your relationship starts with prayer. Thats why its called a relationship. Can you every imagine being in a relationship with someone and never talking to them? Now what kind of relationship would that be? In my quest to draw closer to God I have started to read this awesome book called, "A Praying Life." by Paul E. Miller. Miler has this awesome example that might describe you or your situation that I would like to share.

"Lets imagine that you see a prayer therapist to get your prayer life straightened out. the therapist says, "Lets begin by looking at your relationship with your heavenly Father. God said, 'I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters to me' (2 Corinthians 6:18). What does it mean that you are a son or daughter of God?" You reply that it means you have a complete access to your heavenly Father through Jesus. You  have true intimacy, based not on how good you are but on the goodness of JEsus. Not only that, Jesus is your bother. You are  fellow heir with him. The Therapist smiles and says, "That is right. You've done a wonderful job of describing the doctrine of Sonship. Now tell me what it is like for you to be with your Father? What is it like to talk with him?" You cautiously tell the therapist how difficult it is to be in your Father's presence, even for a couple minutes. Your mind wanders. You aren't sure what to say. You wonder, Does prayer make a any difference? Is God even there? Then you feel guilty for your doubts and just give up.(Does this sound like you?) Your therapist tells you what you already suspect. "Your relationship with your heavenly Father is dysfunctional. You talk as if you have an intimate relationship, but you don't. Theoretically, it is close. Practically, it is distant. You need help."

Does this exchange between the therapist and you sound familiar. Are you struggling with praying? Prayer is an amazing thing. If your relationship with God is suffering and you don't know where to start I would say start with prayer. Prayer is an amazing thing it can turn your life around, it can give you strength, and it can draw you closer to God. I would encourage you to start your day with prayer and through out the day pray. Pray for what you need. Not what you want but what you need. May the Lord bless you in your quest to draw closer to God.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The beginning

Everyone at some point in their life receives a wake up call. Most of the time it doesn't come in the form of a literal phone call while your sleeping. It comes in the form that you least expect it. Mine came in the form of a talk with a very close friend of mine. This friend of mine loved me enough to tell me the truth even though it hurt and for that I respect him and hope I would do the same for him if that opportunity came. This friend pointed out something that had been sneaking up on me for the last couple years. It was a small thing called distractions. Sure some distractions can be good but for the most part they pull you off course from your current goal. If that current goal is a deeper relationship with God then distractions are the very very last thing you want in your life. 

Over the past few years these distractions had began to turn my relationship with God into a religion. If I looked good on the outside in my christian walk then I was on the right track.  The more I got distracted with the things of this world and worrying about looking good on the outside the more I pushed God farther away. I was looking at the major sins in my life and the fewer I did those sins the better I felt I was doing in my relationship with God. I wasn't looking deep into my heart and testing my actions with scripture. 

My friend gave this very good analogy. He said life is like a car and the oil in the car is God. As long you keep your car full of oil you can run life the way its meant to be lived. He told me hey your life has run out of oil you are on empty. Sure you can run your car without oil for a while but if you keep ignoring it your car will eventually explode hurting you and whoever else is in the car of life with you. Then he said to refill your oil in your car can you keep driving the car? I replied no. He continued, same with life you can't running you life at full speed while trying to put God back into your life. You need to stop life and make sure you are right with God before you should even consider continuing on with life. He challenged me to stop the car of life, turn off the radio of distractions, and refill on God. To make sure I was right with God before starting that car again. 

As much as it hurt to admit he was right. 100% right. He left it at that and told me to think and pray about the next steps to take in my life. I thought about it, oh did I think about it. It has plagued my mind ever since he talked to me. It scares me to think what would have happened if my friend had not spoken into my life and in a sense wakened me from my dazed driving course. I have taken his challenge and decided to get rid of my distractions that God was telling me to get rid of them. I have decided to take that time instead to study God and pursue him. 

Now I want to challenge you. Are there distractions in your life that are pulling you off the path? Are you looking at your outside and using that as a gauge for how your christian walk is doing? Because if you are you are in serious trouble. You need to stop your car and analyze where you are with God. You need to dedicate yourself to God and pursue him with all your heart. We are human beings made to follow someone wether it be God or distractions(aka the devil). I am not saying distractions are bad but if they get between you and God you might as well call them sin. So will you step up to the plate. Will you challenge yourself for however long God wills to pursue him? To stop going to get togethers with friends or events that you really enjoy and instead spend your time studying the God who made you learning what pleases him. 

Your relationship with God is just that, a Relationship! If you don't put effort into it to keep it going it will fall apart. If you just keep trying to love God while loving other distractions your relationship will majorly suffer. God has given you the freewill to do anything you want to do. Its up to you to take up the challenge and pursue God with all you have. Trust me it will be worth it.