Sovereignty

January. January was the last time I let my fingers start going across the keyboard to write a blog post. Today is a new day as I break away from my writing hiatus, and finally write again. I haven’t felt the need to write in a long time, although I do really enjoy putting my thoughts on paper. Today I want to share my recent events and thoughts about God.

On Friday July 4th I left for a short term mission trip to Los Angeles, to be returning on Sunday the 13th after working all week at skid row with the homeless population. These last five months have been a lot of planning, fundraising, and meeting with the team in preparation for our time down there.  We sent support letters, had car washes and bake sales, met each week, and did evangelism projects together so that we as a team could become one. Through all of this I have been stoked for this trip, I have never felt so strongly that God was going to impact the team like he will on this trip. So needless to say I have been super excited to go down to L.A and see what God has in store for us.

Unfortunately I made it a little less than halfway to Los Angeles. Saturday morning I woke up at our campsite with an intense pain in my side, and I went to use the restroom. While doing so the pain in my side increased a ridiculous amount to which I fainted because of how painful it was. Shortly after the team took me to the nearest hospital where again I fainted, but learned I more then likely had appendicitis, thankfully we didn’t need to act on it right way. So this resulted in the team going on without me, and I headed back home. After doctor visits here we went from believing I had appendicitis to thinking it was a kidney stone, but soon to find out I had inflammation and I had so much waste piled up that it was hurting my insides. So I’ve been sitting at home with stool softeners and lots of solitude with God, cleaning out my insides and digging in to the word.

Now I’ve been face-timing the team in the evenings, keeping up with the devotionals the team is doing, and sending verses and tons of prayer about what they are doing down there. But I got upset when I found out it was all due to lack of bowel movements. I wasn’t able to be in L.A serving God because I had to poop? It felt pretty crappy (no pun intended) to learn I was at home because of that. Last night I was doing the evening FaceTime with the team waiting for our youth pastor to give the message, when another team using the same program and housing as our team joined us for the message. They joined because their leaders were at the hospital with a student from their group because she had gotten fairly sick and wouldn’t be going on with them anymore. What a coincidence, or was it? We believe I was held back so that our team had a connection with the other team, so that they weren’t alone, so that they had common ground with us. God held me back for a reason, and this could very likely be the reason, now the other team was able to connect with us, do worship with us, and listen to a message with us because we had an ability to connect. Both teams are going through the same thing of losing somebody on their trip, and it made it a whole easier when they learned they weren’t the only ones.

Lets think about that. God was in control the whole time, no matter how upset I was, or in wonder of why I wouldn’t get to go on the trip I had been beyond excited about. God is sovereign! How foolish was I to be mad at God, when it was His will to keep me from going. God has been in control, and He has been in control since he made the earth, and get the kicker; He’ll be in control until the very end! Now why could I not process that as it was happening? It seems pretty obvious that God is wholly and completely sovereign, there’s plenty of verses about God being in control.

God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth, both visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16).

Imagine that, the God who created all things gets to say how its all ran! God is in complete control.

Now I would say I’m writing this post to encourage those who read it to not worry when things don’t go your way, or life is a tough. And I say this because knows everything, and whatever happens is His will. Think back to the book of Job, Job asks God something along the lines of “Hey God, what the heck are you doing to me? Why does my life suck when I follow you greatly?”. God answers Him and basically says that He has been in control since day one, and that Job needs to realize God is sovereign. Yet at the same time, we need to realize that God does not need us, but we need him. In no way do we actually help God, God merely uses us as an instrument to conduct His will. We serve Him not because He needs us to, but because we need to grow closer to God.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:24-25)

Continue to serve and do things for Him, but know it is not by your power but by His that we accomplish His will. We must let God increase, while we decrease.

John 3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease.

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Perfection

So I have been thinking, quite a bit. I have this idea that might seem a little weird at first, but it really makes sense if you think about it. We as people were made in the image of God, and many people make the mistake that we are supposed to be actually like Jesus and that his lifestyle is the end goal. But in all reality Jesus was perfect and we’re not, nor will we ever become perfect.  So my thought is that we are not made to be perfect, we pursue and desire the perfection that Christ had but we will never achieve it. Looking around now, and looking back in the bible nobody has ever achieved the perfection of no longer sinning. For me, I see King David as one of the people who were the closest to ever achieving that, and yet he had a long ways to go, he messed up in many ways. Moses even was at a point where he was close, but he struggled with being too humble to the point where he wouldn’t achieve anything for Christ and all the works were through Aaron. We see that even some of the godliest people were unable to achieve perfection, and that’s because we are all pursuing a perfection we will never be able to reach. I believe it is not possible to reach that level that Christ was on, no matter how close we get nobody is free from error, we all make mistakes. But yet there is one exception and that is Jesus himself, how crazy is that? Somebody was able to live a life without ever lying, never lusting, never judging, never hating, and loving those around him even though they were nowhere near perfect. Now that is crazy.

I use to bring myself to the lowest of lows over things I have done. But why? Whats the point of dragging yourself down? Nobody has ever achieved or reached the perfection that Christ had, we all make mistakes and sin is sin. That means adultery and telling a white lie are the exact same thing in the eyes of God, they have the same consequence which is death. We believe we have to be perfect, and that is a lie that so many Christians tell themselves, because there is no perfection from sin, there is only perfection that makes your sin not matter. The only perfection that is real is the perfection made by God sending his son to die on the cross. This perfection is to make you free from the sins you commit, it makes you clean and that is perfection. It doesn’t mean you wont make mistakes, but it means that those mistakes are overlooked they don’t matter, and they don’t hold you back, yet we look at them as if they do hold us back. And that is because we believe we must have a physical perfection from sinning, when really we must have the perfection that God gave us, not the perfection he showed us in Jesus.

 

But don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean we are free to sin as much as we want simply because God will overlook it. It means we need to continue to pursue the perfection we wont ever reach, and through that pursuit we will live a life that honors God, and will show other people the glory of God. God still detests sin, and desires for us to not do it all. But it is a constant pursuit of something we will never reach, so we can’t spend time dwelling on our mistakes, but we must move forward from them so we can continue to live in a way that brings glory to God.

 

Matthew 18:5-6 5“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

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The Urgency

Its been a month since I last wrote, and honestly it’s because I haven’t had anything pressing on my heart that I felt I needed to share until a few days ago when I read through the book of Jude.

Jude is a the book all the way in the back,the one right before revelation. Now in the past four or five days I have been able to read through the short 25 verse book three times and even now I still struggle to really grasp its idea and how to interpret it.

The book starts out by blessing those who are believers it says Jude 1:1b-2 “To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” but once we get past the start it gets into an idea of how ungodly people will be punished, but it gives us a very strong sense of urgency that we must go and save.

Jude 1:12 “When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots.”

This sense of urgency is exactly what we need to feel, the idea that we have such a great reward waiting is just the reason why we need to share it with as many people as possible. We are the hands and feet of God therefore we need to do his work, that means spreading the gospel both near and far. Later in Jude it says:
Jude 1:14b-15 “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

This is to remind us that nobody is free from sin, and that God is still going to judge all of us. Because we all have sinned and fallen short of Gods glory, he is using this as a way to motivate us into sharing the gospel. Its like he’s saying ” you! you are saved! But he, him over there! He is not, and he is going to pay a very bad consequence, so go now and share the gospel with him!” In fact this is exactly what he says in verse 22-23:

Jude 1:22-23 “And on some have mercy, who are in doubt;and some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

We see this huge call to go and do, snatch them out of the fire. Be quick is what he is saying, we don’t get the luxury of wasting time because the end is near. God gives us a huge calling to save, but that doesn’t mean to run out and yell at people about Jesus, it means to show love and demonstrate Gods love in the ways He works through us. We have to be so in love with Jesus that it makes a difference not just in our lives, but a difference in the lives of the people around us; co-workers, friends, and classmates. We need to show Gods love as often as possible, and in every way possible because it’s not just something we have to do, its something we get to do.

For me, what I found is that the book of Jude is just a much more detailed reiteration of the verse Matthew 5:15 “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”.

God is telling us to share the love He gave to not just ourselves, but to everyone we get the chance to share it with.

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Lets Date, The Right Way

Dating. It seems like it’s always something I talk about, always on my mind. I recently finished the no dating challenge that lasted a whole year, and in turn I tried to use that time to focus more on God. But it seems that I finished the challenge and I was already back on the dating track. I went on a first date less than a month after the challenge had ended, and found myself caught up in excitement. Soon I entered a relationship with this girl and it just recently ended  when I broke up with her about a week ago. But you see, I was so blinded by emotional attachment and the excitement of a new relationship that I basically threw my requirements out the window without giving it a second look. Now the girl I was dating wasn’t a christian, she didn’t meet my number one requirement. Now I’m not saying she was a bad person or that I didn’t care for her because that wouldn’t be true. She was great, the sense of humor, her morals, and desires they are all great, and she deserves somebody great as well. But while talking to two of my most close friends, and a great pastor it made me continue to dwell on the list of requirements that I had made before the challenge was over and eventually led to my decision to end the relationship.

Now you’re probably thinking “List of requirements? That’s selfish.” The list of requirements are things needed in order to date me. Now it seems selfish, but when we think about dating it’s really about marriage. You date because you have plans of eventually marrying, not so you can use them to find what type of person you want to marry. So I had my list of requirements, some I shared with you some I kept to myself. But high atop that list said the person I would date needed to be a christian, but its more than that now. It’s not about just being a christian, it’s about having somebody who is equally yoked. If the person you’re with doesn’t believe it like you do then it’s not right either, because if the person you’re dating isn’t pulling you closer to God then where are they pulling you? You see the devil has always been sly. And he can use almost anything to pull us away from God, even other people’s good intentions. People we date that aren’t christian most likely have no desire to pull us away from God, but instead just want somebody that they care for that will care for them back. But the devil can use this to pull us away, it starts by giving up small things like the kinds of music we listen to or the things we say, but it soon continues on to be something larger than we expect. It gets us to a point where we become to emotionally attached to turn back, so we continue moving in a direction we know we shouldn’t. This is why as Christians we need to be dating and marrying people who are going to draw us closer to God and strengthen our relationship with him. Not just a christian who will be okay with your faith but has no desire to grow on their own. 

2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

So now atop my list it doesn’t say: 1. Needs to be a Christian.

It says: 1. Needs to be a Christian who shares the same love for Christ that I have, and needs to be pulling me closer to God.

But you see, that can be a tough thing to measure. It starts with an obvious showing of faith, and for me is going to be somebody who is trying to grow their faith stronger every day. Its going to be someone who serves a lot, shows love, and genuinely is trying to leave their life of sin.

Now I encourage you to hold me accountable. Let me know when I’m doing something wrong, call me out, and make sure its genuine.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9  To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

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God Loves Gays

This video has been out for quite some time now, and it’s actually very well made. The story makes sense, and it is nothing less than what would be expected of what a homosexual teen would go through. Although i do feel that it goes a little over the top, this does happen even if it doesn’t describe every teen that is homosexual. It’s about a 20 minute video so you might need a bit of time to watch this, but here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ROXTFfkcfo

 

I don’t believe this video is pointed at the large population, but more towards the Westboro Baptist Church but either way it still affects us. The video shows how a normal girl has to go about living in an opposite world, she likes boys but she is one of the few. The idea behind the video is to make us root for the girl, we want her to be able to be happy being a normal person. Yet, that’s exactly the point behind the video, to make people against homosexuality feel bad for the girl, because in our world we would be “rooting” for the homosexual person to feel happy.

Now I do not, and never have believed that God hates gays, but that doesn’t mean I am in support of them. I believe homosexuality is a sin, but it’s no worse than any of the sins we commit on a daily basis. If I lie, and John is a homosexual we get the same punishment. The thought that God would hate somebody based on something they do is so ridiculous, the bible even says that there is nothing we can do to fall away from gods love.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The bible does make it clear however that lying with another man is a sin. But God still offers his love, that doesn’t go away. While change is hard in anything it does not mean that change is impossible. I do feel that people facing homosexuality may have one of the toughest times overcoming the temptation, but that does not mean it cannot happen. Now I’m not writing this to offer a way to “change” or overcome that temptation, but simply to say that God loves you no matter what.
In fact God loved us so much that he even sent his own son to die for us, to take away our sin. Jesus paid the price that we deserved, He died in the most gruesome way by taking nails through His wrists and ankles and left to bleed to death. But His death makes us clean, it doesn’t mean we can no longer sin, but in fact we don’t have to pay the price of punishment as long as we believe in Him, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But just because we accept him doesn’t mean we get to have a cakewalk into heaven, it is hard work to change from our sinful desires. Something i don’t think any person has been able to fully steer away from, because even the best of people such as King David, still fell to temptation far after they established themselves as a God-fearing christian. Repentance and a lot of forgiveness is required, and a part of the daily christian life.

Gods love is eternal.
Gods love is great.
God loves you despite your sin.
God even loves gays.

Hebrews 13:5b God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”[a]

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You Without Sin May Throw the First Stone

1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.”

This verse caught me a little off guard today, as I sat here and opened up my bible app it was the “verse of the day” but the words ring entirely true. It got me thinking, that surely I am not the worst of sinners because think about every other person out there. I thought about people who practice prostitution, people who do meth, thieves, non-believers. But the more I thought the more I realized that me claiming them as worse than myself is in fact incredibly wrong, my judgment means nothing but yet is one of the things I struggle with the most. How selfish am I that I immediately think I’m better than the people who sit next to me just because I am supposedly “more holy” because I go to church, write a blog about Jesus, and know more bible verses than you. And that’s simply not true, my sins are exactly the same as any others, if I lie but you murder somebody, I deserve and get the same punishment as you. For some reason though I feel that I have the right to judge when in fact only our Father in Heaven has that right, and its strictly reserved to him for good reason.

John 8:3-7 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Here we see Jesus say that whoever has no sin in their life may be the first to condemn the woman who committed adultery. This story is my favorite in the entire bible, the idea that we cannot judge someone because we too have the same sin in our lives is exactly why we have no right to judge one another. But how hypocritical am I? I share how I struggle so badly with judging others but yet I write about why we shouldn’t. I can see my need to quit judging others, and its something I have been working on for a long time, and I know I will continue to struggle with it in the future. But I know God is working through me, and helping me to see others without judging them for what they have done. Because judgment makes divisions, it splits people, breaks relationships, and leaves scars after its healed. I feel that judging other Christians is even worse than judging non-believers, because as Christians we are a family. We may not carry the same exact beliefs, and we may do things wrong to others but we need to know that we are in this together.
God didn’t send his son to die for our sins and have Him say ” Armenians shall not get along with Calvinists”, I believe that God never desired for the divisions of the church, but instead wants us all to be together worshiping and being in fellowship with one another. Judgment and disagreement drives people apart, because I know I’m not the only person who doesn’t want to be affiliated with Christians from the Westboro Baptist Church. But they are believers, and they are a part of this big Christian family. This brings us back to the idea that at the heart of Christianity is love. And judgement is not love, nor does it show love. Judgement defeats the whole purpose of loving others, and sharing Gods love with them, because what homosexual wants to go to a church where banners are hanging saying “God hates fags”?

Luke 23:33-35 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God,

Jesus even demonstrates not showing judgment at one on his darkest hours. He was on a cross with nails through his wrists and his ankles, when he asked for water they gave him vinegar. When he cried out to God they spit at him, and laughed about him being able to save himself. How different would it be if you were on a cross? I know I would’ve yelled, and I would’ve judged, I would’ve hated with everything I had. Jesus shows love, when we would have judged. This is how God desires us to be, loving instead of judging,

Love Vs. Judgment is something I am going to struggle with for a long time. And its something that many people deal with on a daily basis, if we left God to be the only judge of people and the sin they commit think about how many more people would be sharing our love from Jesus Christ.

“You who is without sin may throw the first stone”

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Some Catching Up

Today marks two months in which I wrote my last blog post. Why it’s been so long for me to write? That’s a question I can’t answer. For some reason I’ve been completely unable to write, think up, or desire to write passionately on something that God has put on my heart. And I honestly haven’t had anything on my heart to write about, yet I have had lots to say, lots to share, and lots of time to write.

This thought of not writing, not being able to let words flow on the paper has been killing me inside, even draining. The love I have for writing about Christ hasn’t gone away one bit. But for some reason I haven’t had the need or want to lately. So now that I’m around to writing let me catch you on the past two months.

Two months ago to this date I finished the challenge of not dating for a year, so that I could spend more time focusing on Christ. Finishing this up I was in the heart of a quick moving summer break working at both Fred Meyer, and Taco Bell. Soon I began the process of dating again and started a relationship with my amazing girlfriend Kiana. School was just right around the corner, in which I registered to do running start a program that allows students to take college courses so they can graduate high school with their AA degree. This has extended my summer to September 23rd of which then I will start college level classes. And recently I was involved in an accident totaling both my car and the other drivers. Unfortunately the accident has shifted my spine out of alignment in which I have to see a chiropractor 3 times a week for the next two months. Now I’m still working both jobs, seeing a chiropractor, going to the new church plant; Restoration Church, and preparing for college to start on the 23rd.

Now I’m not stating all this to make it look like I’m excelling at being overrun with things to do, because honestly I’m not. And I believe this is why I haven’t been writing as of late. Not because I don’t have the time, but because I haven’t been setting aside the God time I need. The time for me to focus, be mentored, and strengthen my relationship with Christ. Something I and any believer is in desperate need of.

So I’m asking you for prayer, I need it. For setting aside that time to strengthen my relationship. I need to figure out how to handle my schedule better, and overall get back to writing and connecting again on a deeper level with Christ.

Thank you.

Lastly I want for us to remember today, 12 years ago. Our country suffered a tragic act of terrorism which led to numerous deaths, a long war, and much heartache countrywide. And with this being said I ask for us to remember not just those fighting for our country, but those who lost their lives that day, those who showed bravery helping clear out the area. And all those who will be affected by what happened that day forevermore.
Thank you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

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