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Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Source of Life

The Gospel of John opens by describing just who Jesus is. We find here one of the most stunning revelations about the Son of God, that in Jesus is Life, and that Life is the light of all mankind. This seems to work to qualify the statement immediately before it, which states that everything in our Universe was made by Him and that if Jesus did not make it, it was not made! WOW! Later, in John 14:6, Jesus states outright that He is the Life! Now, if Jesus was with God in the beginning and IS God, and has created all things, and if He is Life, and His Life is the light of all mankind, then it is safe to say that mankind was created to be connected to His Life.
Remember, mankind was originally created perfect, and once walked and talked with God face to face, as we do with our friends. He created mankind with His Life, and to be sustained with His Life. Now, God also purposefully created mankind with free will so that we could have the chance to choose to love Him. The first man and woman chose to push God away in a naive attempt to advance their own life apart from God. God had warned against it, but they made their choice, pushing God away from them. They pushed away their source of Life.
What is the opposite of life? Death. If God is Life, then separation from God is death.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Second Wind

There is so much going on in our culture and society that needs to be touched on; so many people in this world, in this nation, in our own neighborhoods that are in desperate need to not only hear but be affected by, the loving truth of the Gospel. That is that God wants to draw near to us, so much so that He made a way to do just that. I urge you to join me on an adventure that will hopefully open your eyes to see God, and the world around us, in a whole new way!
Saturday, April 19, 2014

The True Power of Easter

How would you feel if you did something... amazing, no, awesome. How about if you just did something that no other human being had ever done in the history of humanity before or after you? And let’s say that almost every person on the face of the earth found out about it and knew that it was you that did it... I’m sure you’d feel pretty darn good, right? Now, what if that spectacular event happened hot on the heels of the most shameful, excruciatingly painful day of your entire life? You’d probably feel even better, having gone from less than zero to way past hero!
Now let’s take that one step further... How would you feel when people who celebrated your stunning victory gave remembrance to not the victory itself, but these several hours that you would likely not ever want to relive... EVER.  How would you feel? I'm sure you'd feel a little insulted. “Here I've just done what no other human being has or ever will do and all you can remember is my shame?”
Now, how do you think Jesus might feel? He came back to life!  He conquered death. He rose from the grave! However you want to say it, Jesus did what no other man or woman before or since has done: He brought himself back to life! AND (as if that weren't enough) He did it for humanity's sake. HOWEVER for centuries, the church has focused almost exclusively on the worst 12 hours of Jesus’ life when celebrating and taking time to remember him!
Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but if he did not come back to life, then he was no more than a man. Without Jesus having overcome death, there would be no salvation. Our faith would be pointless! Yes, Jesus died. Almost every other person in the world has or will die. Jesus’ death is only significant when you understand and believe that his life was sinless to the point when he became sin for us and realize that his death was unwarranted by both men’s standards and by God’s.
However for most, death is a fact of life so the fact that Jesus died is nothing outside of the ordinary. The power of Easter does not lie in the torture, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, but rather in his resurrection. Jesus Life is what is to be celebrated as opposed to his death. It is only when we begin to celebrate the power of Jesus’ Life that overcame death and when we begin to accept his offering of his Life to us do we begin to come alive... That is when Jesus’ Life enters into us and we allow His Life to become our Life.
Friday, February 7, 2014

Actions Speak Louder

One of the philosophies behind Love In Action is the idea that “actions speak louder than words.”
"Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? James 2:14 (msg)
We believe that love can not be demonstrated any other way. One can say “I love you” but if one then acts in malice, the actions demonstrate the fact of the matter. We all know this on some level. Yet there are some who think that as long as they talk a good game, they can do whatever they want.
You have no doubt seen this unfold countless times not only in spiritual matters but in relationships, in business and in politics too. These people are often called hypocrites (which is just a form of lying if you think about it). Now just so we are clear, I am not pointing any fingers as we are ALL hypocrites. We have all said one thing and done another (See? Same definition as lying). And most of us have been called out on it in one way or another.
Something to consider is that a person’s true intent is revealed when they are called out. Either they will accept and embrace it or they will reject and ridicule you for daring to say something. Accepting and embracing the feedback shows that you are intent to grow and are willing to put your pride aside in order to grow and become more like Christ.
Rejecting the feedback usually demonstrates pride and is often accompanied by ridicule or belittling of the one calling the other out. This is an attempt to marginalize the messenger in order to marginalize or void the message. This also shows immaturity by the one being called out not to mention a lack of a desire for growth.
As followers of Christ, we are called to grow closer to Him and to grow closer to mirroring Him. This should be the point of any rebuke or judgment. This should be done in love and offer hope and healing to the one being called out. Remember that you can only try to allow Christ to flow through you, and you can’t always expect them to accept or embrace the message immediately if at all.
This is a brief overview of many topics I hope to touch on deeper with you soon. Until then keep learning to love like Jesus!

Friday, December 20, 2013

All I Wanted for Christmas Was to End My Life

About ten years ago this week, warm Christmas music full of fading memories of better times wafted through the air. Golden light reflected off the falling snow onto the shoppers walking up and down the night time sidewalks. Imagery of family and togetherness were everywhere and I just could not take it anymore.
I had been living in and out of my car for a year by that point and I had no hope in changing that. I was working a full time job and I still did not make enough to afford an apartment on my own. The relationship with my family had been fractured. The few friends I had just didn’t understand. My more prep and posh friends were nervous about having a homeless friend. While some offered to let me stay at their place for a night here or there, it felt like I was in a stranger’s house. Those who allowed me to stay for a week or two, seemed to feel like I was a burden. I felt like I had to answer for every minute of my day. Many of the very welcoming churches I tried quickly became unwelcoming once they found out that I was homeless.
I was without hope. I was without love. All the messages of the inescapable advertising and songs were just a reminder of what I once had and had lost. After a month of this I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was 22 and hated what my life had become. Other older homeless people who I had talked to told me that they had become homeless around my age and couldn’t get back on their feet. I did not want that for my future. I had made up my mind and planned it all out.
I was going to kill myself for Christmas.
Ten years ago today, while an old friend from high school was home from college, he decided he wanted to hang out with me before Christmas. He knew what my situation was but he wasn’t put off by it. He wanted to go out and get a book for me that he found helpful for him. I was kind of like “whatever” so I just went with it just to have time with who was likely the best friend I had. We got to the bookstore and got the book on audio CD and drove back. We hung out in his driveway until his mom told him to come in. We parted ways for what I thought was going to be the last time.
The book was by some guy I had never heard of so I planned on not even reading it, but I had a long drive to get back to my usual overnight parking spot, so I unwrapped the CD case not really looking at the book cover and popped in the first CD. As I was pulling out of the driveway I realized that my friend had bought the wrong book! Same author, just the wrong book! The title was weird, “Waking the Dead?” We had seen some advertising in the Christian book store for it and had a good laugh mocking it and it’s title. I was so disgusted that I almost pulled the CD out, wondering if I could still return the product for cash.
For some reason, I kept listening. It struck a chord deep inside of my heart that I had tried to bury. The author wasn’t starting out with pious preaching about what I needed to do or how I needed Christ to come into my life, but rather he started out by basically telling me about my heart. These things were impossible for some author I had never met to know. My closest friends didn’t even know these things about me let alone my heart! I was balling about 30 minutes into the book.
That night, I found a hope. I realized that there is so much more going on than I realized. I realized that I was living in my current state as the result of a lie. The lie I was believing was that I would never rise past my current position in life, that I was doomed to be another undesirable, unloved nameless homeless person for the rest of my life. The idea that God’s glory is man fully alive left me in optimistic disbelief. It was the first trace of optimism I had had in a long time. I gave my life back to Christ in a way I had never done before, it wasn’t just words or a predefined prayer, it was a realization that I love God because of the way He already loves me.
By the end of the month, I had found an apartment with some of the people I knew from one of the churches I was regularly attending. Within 4 months, I had met Kelly and within 17 months I had gotten engaged and then married. I now have a beautiful little boy who my wife named after me because she loves me so much and I now have another baby on the way. I have a growing graphic/web design business and I have a great church to call home. I also am in the process of starting a ministry to help empower American Christians to take part in local missions. This is all due to the moving of Jesus in my life.
God loves you too. Jesus wants Life for you! He says that Himself in John 10:10. The reason we don’t have the Life is that no one is righteous—not even one. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. For Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If you would like to know more about God, my relationship with Him, my life experiences or yours or even how you can come to know God through Jesus for yourself, please send me an email and we can talk. I hope this testimony has helped you or that of someone you know.
Monday, September 9, 2013

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
~Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
We really are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and it shouldn't surprise us when it is made evident in our lives. However I seem to be taken aback by it almost every time! I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you do too. I was at Panera today working, and another business man I met there showed up. We exchanged our pleasantries before going back to our workflow. He had to go a couple of hours later, but he told me that he keeps my business card in his pocket New Testament and that he's praying for my business. I had no idea the guy was a Christian!
It makes me realize just how my attitude and the way I conduct myself has an impact on others, believers or not, for good or bad. The writer of Hebrews knows that sometimes though, we just don't have it in us to continue acting gracious. I don't know about you, but when things are getting hot, I have a hard time wanting to try to keep composed. I usually wanna fly off the handle at someone! But the author of this book reminds us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us." In other words, keep working toward the goal of the life given to us, even though it will get hard!
BUT HOW?!? He answers that too! By "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." You may be thinking something like "Well, that's all very nice an churchy, but really, HOW?" Well, we humans often find inspiration from other people's triumph, their success stories, the stories of the guy who set out to do the impossible with all the odds stacked against him and won anyhow! Some of you may be thinking of the old movie Rudy, or more recently The Blind Side. Well that is what Jesus' story is supposed to be for us!
Seriously, think about it: A guy whose goal in life is to live a perfect life so he can die in the place of mankind, taking on their punishment for rebelling against God so that they might have a second chance to be with God for eternity. And here's the real kicker, he's supposed to raise himself from the dead to conquer death once and for all? How... IMPOSSIBLE does that sound? Yet, historical documents both Biblical and secular from that time period state this to be true. The story of Jesus life, death and resurrection is supposed to be the most inspiring story of all! And we are supposed to look to His facing the shame of the cross and scorning that shame to reach His life's goal, and being seated at the right hand of God!
So, the next time I am feeling like life is just getting too hard for me to handle, I'm going to ask myself, 'does this compare to what Jesus went through for me?' Because people are watching, and there are those who know I profess Christ, even though I don't know them or that they are there. How about you?
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Applying the Bible to Your Own Life

Many people have many different opinions about the Bible, some positive and many negative. I think one of the many issues people have with the Bible (other than misinformation) is that it is intended to act as a mirror into our own souls. It shows us God’s love toward us and then asks us to love Him back and love each other as we love ourselves. This can be a scary thing for those of us who don’t live like that and calls us into conviction.
A lot of people have turned this into a bad thing, thinking defensively “I’m fine and don’t need something or someone to tell me how to live my life.” Then when things get so screwed up in our lives, we scratch our heads and wonder why our lives are going to Hell. Here’s one of the big problems:
We as flawed people tend to pass any blame or responsibility directed at ourselves onto someone else. We see this with the story of Adam and Eve, in our friends lives, in our daily lives, and even in ourselves. We hear a good piece of advice or a convicting piece of scripture, and automatically seem to think about how someone else should apply it to their life and never think twice about how it could impact our own life. Any advice, accusation or scripture we find of importance, we should think of how it should be applied to our own lives first.
In any relationship (work, family, friends, marriage, etc…) this can get us into trouble too. It seems that a lot of  the time, we get caught up in trivial arguments because someone makes an accusatory statement about us and we get defensive and retaliates back at them with another accusatory statement. This tends to go back and forth until both are hurt by what was said and no good comes out of it.
Instead of trying to shift the blame off of ourselves, we should be willing to own up to the statement if it has a basis in reality. “You never,” You always,” Why can’t you…” These kinds of statements, though inflammatory, typically have some basis in reality.
“You never …” or “You always …” These are unlikely to be true as there are most certainly times that “you” have done whatever, but maybe it’s not as often as you should. Own that. Make a mental note of that. Make a conscious effort to change that. Try LISTENING to what that person has to say to you and use that as a guide as to how you can act better toward them!
Let’s not ask how people in our lives can act better toward us, but rather,
Lets ask ourselves how we can act better toward the people in our lives.
Don’t get mad, impatient or upset with the people in your life when they tell you these sorts of things. Listen to what they have to say WITHOUT interrupting them or trying to be right. Think about what is being said, and don’t think of what they can do to make it better, but rather think of what you can do to make that issue better.
The Bible has many great lessons to learn, but they mean nothing if you do not apply them to your life. As we go forward with these lessons, think of how you can embrace them and incorporate them into the way you live and think.

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