Monday, July 9, 2012

All In

It is truly amazing! Here I stand today, at 27 years old. Just 9 years removed from my senior year of high school. I cannot believe I have gotten from where I was, to where I am. It is not possible for this to happen to me! Well, that is, apart from Jesus Christ. I used to make deals with God in high school. I would tell God that if he would bring the perfect girl into my life that I was going to marry, then I would start to go to church. See, I wasn’t a Christian who went to church. I was lazy. I always had excuses, and since my parents did not go, I didn’t go.  My dad always tried to get me to go to Vacation Bible School, but why should I go to church if my parents weren’t? It is not a jab at my dad. I love my Dad and the person in my life that led me to relationship with Jesus. But in high school, the relationship was mostly a distance kind. I prayed and talked to God, but I thought those people that devoted their life to their church family on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and then the real Jesus freaks that went Wednesday nights were crazy! I hadn’t really allowed God to change me from the inside out. Now, I stand in awe of the presence of God, talking to high school students and trying to tell them just how awesome of an experience this can be for them if they would only give 100% of their hearts and efforts to God and go “all in”. See, where I was, and where I came from to where I am today is only by the grace of God. I used to only listen to all kinds of music. I thought Christian music was only what hard core people did, and that definitely wasn’t for me. I used to think I would never stand in front of a group and be able to talk about God. God wasn’t going to use me for that. I was not good enough. Up to a certain point, I was right. I was not, and am not good enough on my own. It is only through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus that I can say and do all things. Now I look back and just laugh, it was because I told God I couldn’t do that for Him that I think once I finally submitted and went “all in” that he could just laugh at me and say sarcastically, “Yea, I don’t use people like you!” I want to be real and open. I am so far from perfect, but there is one thing someone cannot say me, and that is that I do not wake up in the morning and try to live for God as best as I can. I fall all the time, but I fall because I am running, not because I am standing still. I have so many people in my life that I can look to that support me and help me be the most I can for Christ. None of us can do this on our own. We definitely need Jesus! But it also helps to have certain people around, young, and old, to help influence us and encourage us. I have never seen my prayer life so strong that when I pray about something, I have faith that God will answer in some way. I feel like when I worship, I am singing unto God with all that I have. I never feel better than when I am listening to the holy spirit and singing out God’s praise! I cannot thank God enough for the people in my life. My family, my friends, and yes that includes some of my best friends that are 15/16 years old in the youth group, and most of all for the gift of His son Jesus Christ!

I just got back from running listening to one of the guys from our church sing Lord of All, and I felt like the whole time I was singing at the top of my lungs for God. What an awesome truth and an awesome praise song! I love you Jesus! Thank you! I'm 27 years old, and I am finally all in!

Friday, June 29, 2012

More Crazy Love

I was reading tonight in Crazy Love and was reading what Francis Chan was talking about with "lukewarm Christians".

LUKEWARM PEOPLE gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street.

We have to compare ourselves to Jesus, and while we will never measure up to Him, that should still be our goal.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them.They ask, “How far can I go before it’s considered a sin?” instead of “How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?”

1 John 2:3–4 tells us, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

I want to be the person that is not lukewarm, and that others look at and say, they seem like they are on fire for God, and really and truly are. Not that I don't mess up, but you can always tell who's kinda faking it, and other people see that too.

The following line was cool. Kinda reminds me if 2 Timothy 2:22. We can't stand still or sin will sweep us away. We have to constantly we swimming (or running toward God). If we are moving towards God, we are moving away from sin.

If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.

I see things best through songs and this first one is the opening line to From the Inside Out. It demonstrates to me that while we all screw up, His mercy is greater!

A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
Should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace

The next song talks specifically about love. I think you can apply this to love of a spouse and to God as well. When we decide to love God, it is a life long commitment and something that takes work for us to continue to love and seek God. As you know, it's not always easy to be on fire for God.

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

This last song is Glory to God and the line here shows how the love turns into commitment and how we have to do like in Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." ... We have to be willing to give up our lives and let God guide us, and guide us so that He receives all the glory. Not always easy but a good challenge for both of us!

Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be Yours

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crazy Love

I have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and I came across this tonight and wanted to share with you. He is basically asking the question ... "Are we in love with God or just His stuff?"

Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, “I don’t really love you or want your want your love, but I would like my allowance, please.” Conversely, what a beautiful gift it is to have the one you love look you in the eye and say, “I love you. Not your beauty, your money, your family, or your car. Just you.”

It really challenged me to not always ask God for material things that won't really make me happy long term or to only seek God because I am looking for material possessions or because I'm scared of Him taking away my blessings because I screw up. He wants us to love Him just because He is God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cool Stories of what God is doing

It is amazing how God uses His people to work in the lives of others. I have a coworker whom I have known for more than 5 years now. Over the course of the first few years we had some discussion and I learned that he never really went to church or knew God on a personal level. He had flirted with the idea of going to church, but was just uncomfortable with the idea of walking into an unfamiliar place and not knowing the customs or traditions that a church may or may not do. I know that was my excuse for so many years. It is irrelevant if the church does that or not, the fact was that it was one of the things keeping him from attending. He had some difficult times and drowned his sorrows in alcohol. I do not think he is an alcoholic, but the emptiness inside of him was being filled with alcohol. A few years ago, I shared when I had an opportunity about what God was doing in my life, and I of course prayed for him. Fast forward to about a year ago. He met this girl. Long story short, they were married and she was able to convince him to go to church. It turns out; the church they attend was not condemning and was not full of traditional things that he had pictured in his mind. He has been going to church for 6 months now, and is really getting a lot out of the messages from week to week. The music is still a little different for him, but he is getting used to it. The fact is, going to church doesn’t save you, but by going to church you are being exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ on a week to week basis. Just think if this person had other people in his life on a day to day basis that lived out what God has commanded us to do. How much more he would want that relationship in his life! One of the quotes I saw yesterday was one from Francis Chan. “Lukewarm living and claiming Christ's name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God.” If we are saying we love God, but our actions speak to things that God detests according to His word, what are we really saying to these people that see us?

Another very cool thing that happened yesterday is that one of my closest friends decided to go on a mission trip. This guy is one of the greatest guys you could ever meet. It’s a shame he has, for so long, not let anyone see the real him. He is starting to change though, and has made some awesome progress. Part of that has been giving it all to God. Sometimes it is easy to give some things to God, and think that you can handle the other things better. I know I was like that, and probably still am to some degree on some things, but it’s amazing what will happen when you give it ALL to Him. My friend has done that, and has trusted Him. He is taking a leap of faith, and because he knows this is what God is calling on Him to do, we can trust that he will protect him. It is just a very cool experience!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This story is greater than I can ever be

Pretty much everything in life someone deals with involves relationships. These relationships can be good or bad. They can involve feeling great or feeling terrible when thinking about these people. Relationships can be formed in many different ways. They can be a lifelong friend that you met at school. They can be a waiter or waitress that served your food at a restaurant. They could even be a custodian who cleans up messes that you make. We are all people that have thoughts, feelings, goals, problems, responsibilities, dreams, etc. Regardless of someone’s skin color, height, weight, income bracket, etc, we are taught in 1 Peter 2:17 to “Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.” This is the essence of life. I have to live by this verse because it is one of the pillars to my faith. If you love Jesus, it should be for you as well. This blog is about my journey, struggles, relationships, thoughts, and everything in between. Join me for the ride!