Category Archives: Random thoughts

Music Man

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11-12 ESV).

I love music. I usually have some kind of music playing in the background of our home while we go about our daily routine. The type of music depends on time of day, what we’re doing, and the general “mood” of everyone around. It’s interesting to see the different styles of music that my two small children enjoy. My daughter likes to sing and dance to folk and bluegrass while my son enjoys pop and hip-hop (he has recently discovered Lecrae).

King David was also a music man being proficient in playing several different instruments. I’ve found myself spending more and more time in the Psalms, usually starting my quiet time with Psalms and prayer. King David poured his heart out in the Psalms, he held nothing back. He showed us times of praise and worship such as Psalm 9 that starts, “I give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds,” (Psalm 9:1 ESV). Then in the very next chapter sings, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 ESV). King David showed us his highs and lows. Times of rejoicing, and times of trouble. Singing, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him,” in Psalm 28:7, to crying out, “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me,” in Psalm 38:1-2.

God called King David, “a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22 ESV) yet David still had the ups and downs that come with life. He experienced joy and sadness. Great rejoicing and times of equally great grieving. Times of blessing and times of burden. Yet, through it all, his faith never waivered. His trust in the Lord never ceased.

When I look at the life of King David, the songs he wrote, the life he lived, his blessing and his heartache, it encourages me in my own walk with the Lord. David shows us that as Christians we are not always promised an easy life. We are not always promised that things are going to go our way. But he also shows us how to trust the Lord in those dark times. He shows us that it’s okay to cry out to God in times of need. That just because we experience the hardships of living in a fallen world, our Heavenly Father still loves us.

I pray that you would spend time in the Psalms. Spend time worshiping the Lord through the songs of David. Experience his sadness and his joy. The Psalms are showing me how to walk through difficult times trusting in the Lord. They are showing me how to worship God, how to come to Him with the hard questions in hard times. I promise you, God can handle the tough questions. But most importantly, the Psalms teach to trust the Lord. To truly have faith in Him.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,” (Psalm 30:5 ESV).

 

Advertisements

Chocolate Santa

There is a huge, half-eaten, chocolate Santa Claus in our kitchen cabinet left over from Christmas. It still tastes amazing, I know this because every so often I walk into the kitchen and break a piece off. I’ve also been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” again. If you haven’t read it, you should. In the second section of the book he talks about Jesus’ sermon on the mound from Matthew 5.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6 ESV).

As I thought about hunger, the chocolate Santa came to mind. Many times instead of making a meal to satisfy my hunger I would just eat part of the Santa. I would fill up on junk food instead of getting proper nutrition. Then I thought about how often I tend to do the same thing in my spiritual life. Instead of feeding my spirit the bread of life that is Jesus Christ, I fill up on junk the world offers. How many times have I scrolled mindlessly through social media instead of spending time in God’s word? How many hours have I spent playing video games instead of praying for opportunities to share the Good News? When was the last time I was truly hungry for God’s word?

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 ESV

The problem with filling up on a chocolate Santa instead of a home cooked meal, is it doesn’t satisfy for very long. I get hungry again and go back for more. I catch myself in the same cycle with social media, TV, and video games. I binge “eat” thinking it will bring me joy and I’m left unsatisfied. I’m left wanting more. So today I’m taking a stand, I’m throwing out the chocolate Santa. And I encourage you to do the same. Take a break from social media and spend some time in God’s word. Skip tonight’s episode of whatever show you watch and pray. Fast from spiritual “junk food” that leaves you unsatisfied, and fill up on Jesus.

Fish Shaped Tambourine

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV

When I think about mission work I usually envision people in a third world country building schools or providing medical aid to people. I envision people living in shacks and struggling to find fresh water. And yes, the occasional fish shaped tambourine. Yet, when I googled the biggest need in the mission field I was surprised at what I found. It wasn’t new buildings, fresh water, or medical aid. Several articles stated that the biggest and most neglected mission field wasn’t in some far away country, it was in our own back yard. Article after article, saying the same thing, we are doing an amazing job at providing a service and spreading the gospel “to the end of the earth,” but have forgotten our neighbors.

One of the last things Jesus says in the book of Matthew is, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). Yes, we are called to reach the world for Christ, but we can not forget about those in the world that live on the same street as us. We can’t forget about the part of the world that we work with or go to school with. In our effort to reach the ends of the earth, we should not forget about those on this earth that we see everyday, our friends and family, our neighbors.

We don’t have to jump on a plane and fly to some impoverished village to be a missionary, you just have to walk out your front door. As Christians, everywhere we go is a mission trip. Schools, the work place, the grocery store, these are our mission fields and we have been neglecting them.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 ESV

This is my prayer, that we would take our mission field seriously. That we would realize we are God’s laborers in His harvest and approach our everyday lives with urgency in spreading the Gospel, not just at the ends of the earth but in our own cities and towns as well. That today, and everyday after, we would reach out to those that God has placed near to us and tell them about Jesus Christ.

Quoted from a coffee cup

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV

I have seen the above verse on coffee cups, t-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, pretty much anywhere you can stick a verse, I’ve seen this one. It’s a great verse. It inspires you to strive forward, to keep pushing, to go for gold! But is that what Paul really intended when he wrote it? If we look at the verses just before, Paul is talking about being content instead of personal achievement.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Paul is saying because of the strength that God has given him (and us too!) he can face any circumstance, good or bad, and be content. Keep in mind, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He wasn’t on a mountain top, staring at a beautiful sunset, he was in jail! To me, that statement is way more powerful than, “You can do it!” It says that no matter what you are going through, God is with us through it all. He may not bring us out of the storm like we want, but He will bring us through it and He will be by our side every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.P.G.

Some of my favorite video games I’ve ever played were RPG’s, or “role playing games.” The reason I liked them so much is because you could play any type of character you wanted. You could be a dashing hero always there to save the day, a villainous raider taking whatever you want by force, or somewhere in between. Another great aspect of RPG’s is that if you didn’t like your character or a decision you had made, all you have to do is erase it and start over or load a previous save where your actions had not yet taken place. This works only in the realm of video games. When we try to apply this same logic in our real lives, we can find ourselves in a loop of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt, and may even fall into depression. We don’t have the option of loading a previous save in the real world, or simply erasing our past mistakes. We don’t have that kind of power, but God does.

“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

God has the power to change our characters. He can take us from villainous raider to dashing hero. He can hit the reset button. But how? The bible says, “…those who become Christians become new persons.” So how do we do this? How does someone become a Christian? Much like an epic main quest from one of my favorite RPG’s, a person can travel down “Romans Road.”

Romans Road is a journey through the book of Romans in the bible that lays out a path to salvation through Jesus Christ. As you travel along Romans Road you will discover who needs salvation (Romans 3:23), why we need salvation (Romans 6:23), how God provides us with salvation (Romans 5:8), how we can receive salvation (Romans 10:9), and the results of our salvation (Romans 5:1).

The amazing thing about this is the fact that once you walk Romans Road, it isn’t the end of the story but the beginning. This is when your epic tale of salvation, your trust in Christ truly starts. You are free then to explore the side quests of Christianity.

If you have never walked down Romans Road, if you are still living in your past mistakes, still living with the shackles of sin in your life, I urge you to trust in Jesus. Let God remove the guilt, the shame, and the regret. We can’t do this on our own, only God, through faith in Jesus Christ can. Let Him hit the “reset” button on your life, and start anew!

 

Imaginary Jesus

“We can’t know Jesus apart from the Bible because, as Jesus himself says, the Bible always and on every page testifies to him. Any other “Jesus” is just a Jesus of our own imagining.” -Barry Cooper

 

I’m currently reading a book called “Can I really trust the Bible?” In it, Barry Cooper talks about the difference between the word (the bible) and the Word (Jesus). He points out that the religious or spiritual people of Jesus’ day wanted the word but not the Word. And how today we seem to want the Word but not the word. Hang with me here, I know this sounds a little confusing but the point he’s trying to make is extremely important.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders spent their entire lives studying the bible. Yet, despite being in the word of God their entire lives, they never actually met God. They studied the scriptures day in and day out, increasing in knowledge but never in love. They turned God’s word into a profession instead of a relationship. Fast forward 2000 plus years and we seem to have flip-flopped. We want the Word, but not the word. We want God’s grace, mercy, and love, but have no time for his word. Which begs the question, if we are not reading the bible then are we really following a biblical Jesus? Or are we worshipping our own imaginary Jesus. I fear many are worshiping a false Jesus, a Jesus made of good intentions instead of biblical truth. We have to make it a point to dive into God’s word in order to truly know the Word.

Jesus shows us the importance of the word of God while being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Jesus says, “It is written,” indicating his knowledge of the written word of God. Another interesting point in Matthew and the temptation of Jesus is the fact that the devil tried to use scripture against Jesus. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11,12 trying to tempt Jesus into sin. I believe this is one of the most important reasons we must study God’s word. The enemy has proven that he knows the scriptures. He knows the scriptures well enough to quote them to us in an effort to make us stumble. As Christians, we must be prepared to do spiritual battle with the enemy just as Jesus was in the book of Matthew. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor we are to wear in this battle, and the only offence we have against the enemy is the word of God.

In Ephesians, the word of God is called “the sword of the Spirit”. If I am going to battle with a sword, I want to make sure I know how to use it before I am thrown out onto the battle field. Much like a knight would spend time training with his sword, we must spend time training with ours.

If you are a Christian and reading the bible is not part of your regular routine, I highly encourage you to do so. At first, some of the scriptures may prove difficult, just as it would prove difficult to weld a sword for the first time. Don’t let this discourage you. With time, and help from the Holy Spirit, you will grow in your knowledge of the word and your skill with God’s sword.

 

 

 

 

Cracker Jack

This morning I was in the gym (killing it #humblebrag) and this thought kept popping into my head, “crackerjack clean”. It just kept repeating itself in my mind, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean, crackerjack clean. I thought on it and what it meant. It just kept going over and over again, crackerjack clean, to the point I was starting to get annoyed. After returning home and getting my son to school, I started looking through old notes, googling the phrase, and after a few minutes I found it. A quote in one of my study bibles by Chuck Swindoll, a former Marine.

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with every day need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just crackerjack clean living. Just honest-to-goodness, bone-deep, nonhypocritical integrity. Authentic obedience to God.” -Chuck Swindoll

Chuck was talking in reference to David in 1 Samuel 24:1-7 when he found King Saul, who was trying to kill David, a little exposed. David had the opportunity to take King Saul out, but chose not too. Why? King Saul was God’s anointed one. David stood for a righteous principle. He stood for God, and he was obedient.

For me, this quote by Chuck means something else. It means I need to adjust my life. It means I need to remove every stumbling block in my life that may cause another brother or sister to stumble or hinder a nonbeliever from coming to Christ. It means living a “crackerjack clean” lifestyle. A living sacrifice.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:13 NIV, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall in sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” That’s pretty intense! Paul is saying that if by him eating meat it causes a brother or sister to stumble or fall away from Christ, he would stop eating meat altogether! But maybe today, for us, it’s not meat, maybe it’s a beer or a glass of wine. Maybe it’s encouraging gossip or slandering someone. In reality, it’s ANYTHING that would cause a brother or sister to stumble.

We have been called, by God Himself, to point others to Jesus Christ. An anything that would hinder that needs to be eliminated from our lives. Crackerjack clean.