Tag Archives: Christ

First World Problems

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3 ESV)

I just started a bible reading plan that puts the bible in chronological order. One of the things that immediately stood out to me was how verbal God was in Genesis 1 when He was creating the world. He could have just snapped His fingers, clapped His hands, or did a little head nod and POOF! the world is here. But He chose to speak the world into existence. I counted fifteen times where the bible states, “God said,” while He was creating the universe. God spoke and created the world. God spoke and created the sea and land. God spoke and created the creatures of the sea and air. The only thing that God did not speak into existence is man. The bible says that, “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Gen. 2:7) God almighty breathed life into us. We were created different from the rest of the universe. We were created with purpose, for a purpose. Everything else was created for us, but we were created for God. We were created to know and love God through Christ Jesus.

Our God is a verbal God.

Even after man had sinned against God, He called out to them. Genesis 3:9 says, “But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” God called out to Adam and Eve because they were hiding from Him. They hid because they were afraid. God still calls us today and many of us are hiding. We are hiding from God because we are afraid. Afraid that God will punish us. Afraid that God will reject us because of the things we have done. Afraid because we know that He will do some very radical changes in our lives. In reality, it’s impossible to hide from God. Just like He found Adam and Eve, He will find us. At that point when we are in the presence of God, we have a decision to make, will we submit to His will, confessing our sin and turning to Him for help. Or will we continue to run and try to hide. After many years of running and trying to hide myself, I can tell you that what God wants to do in your life is love you. God is love (1 John 4:8) and God wants to show you what love truly looks like.

Our God is a verbal God and He is calling you today. He calls to us through Jesus Christ and through His word. I once heard someone say that if you want to hear the voice of God, read the bible out loud. I challenge you to start your own bible reading plan. Get to know the God of the universe, God the creator, God the Father. I pray that God would call out to you as He did Adam and Eve and you would answer.

 

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CrossFit, vegans, food allergies, and Jesus

I DO CROSSFIT!!! There, I said it. I don’t have to tell anyone again for at least 6 minutes…

There are countless memes and jokes about people who do CrossFit or follow some kind of weird diet plan (I also do keto…..) and how they can’t wait to tell you about it. Comedians joke about people with food allergies bursting with excitement to tell you about how they can’t eat peanuts or have ice cream (I’m also lactose…). Sadly, there are no jokes about Christians who can’t wait to tell you about Jesus.

I want the gravity of this to really set it.

Vegans are known for being more excited about what they can or can’t eat than we are about eternal life. People are more enthusiastic about the exercise program they follow than we are about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even atheists seem more adamant about their faith that there is no God than we are about there being one. Some of us are more eager to tell you about ice cream giving them a tummy ache than the life changing power of Christ. If we truly believe the bible, if we truly believe in Jesus and His resurrection, should this not be the center of everything we are? The center of every conversation, the reason we do anything, our everything.

How is it that we who believe that an almighty God created the universe and us with it in His image, and sent His son, Jesus, to die for us because of our sin so that we could be washed clean and brought back to Him, forgiven, has been outdone by people who can’t have peanuts?

There is power in our testimony. The reason people who do CrossFit or follow certain diet plans have the reputation they do is they are giving a life changing testimony. They tell stories about how whatever they are doing is making their life better. We as Christians are called to do the same, give our testimony. We must tell people about the Good News that is Jesus. We can’t afford to hold back. It’s not just someone’s health that is at stake, it’s their very soul.

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11,12 ESV

The life we have is because of Jesus and the cross, his resurrection, mercy and grace. The love of God through Jesus Christ is life.

Lord, give us boldness to speak your Word to those you have placed in our lives. Give us a burning desire to speak your name Jesus. Ignite our hearts for you. Amen.

………..I do CrossFit.

 

True Colors

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV

My children have watched the new “Trolls” movie somewhere around fifty times. They enjoy it so much we purchased the soundtrack so that we could listen to the songs as we travel. One song in particular sticks out to me, the Justin Timberlake remake of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”. One part of the song says, “I see your true colors and that’s why I love you”. I think of my wife when I hear this song. She sees my true colors. She sees me for who I really am, good and the bad. My wife knows me when I’m at my best and has seen me at my worst. Despite knowing the worst about me, she loves me. Her love for me is not a matter of what I am or am not doing, but our relationship is.  I can do things that put strain on our relationship and even though my wife loves me, she’s upset with me. On the flip side of that, I can do things to build our relationship. Her love for me isn’t necessarily growing, but our relationship is. In a way, this describes our relationship to God. While his love for us eternal, we can do things that build or destroy our relationship with him.

The bible says that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Before we proclaim him as our Lord or trust in him as our savior, he loves us. While we are lost to our own sinfulness and busy making idols out of ourselves, God loves us. He loves us so much he sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place so that we could be reconciled to him and have eternal life. God sees our true colors and loves us anyway.

While God’s love for us is unconditional, our salvation is not. Our salvation requires us to have faith and trust in Christ (John 14:6). We have sinned against God and even though he loves us, without faith in Jesus we are lost and destined for hell. Heaven and hell is not a matter of being a “good person” or what your true colors are, it’s a matter of faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Hell is not for sinners, it is for those who reject Jesus.

This week is holy week, a time when we reflect on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, his crucifixion, death, and finally his resurrection on Easter. It’s a time of celebration for believers, a time when we can rejoice in the gift of salvation and the eternal life to come. This is also a time that we should be reaching out to those who do not have the hope of Jesus in their life. A time of invitation. A time that despite what people’s true colors are, we would reach out and show them the love of Christ. If you don’t know Jesus, I pray that you would seek him with an open heart. God is not hiding like some decorated Easter egg, he’s waiting for you with open arms. God loves you, no matter what your true colors are.

Back Row Believer

Growing up in the southeastern part of the United States, I heard the term “back row Baptist” more than a few times. It was said as an insult to people who either show up late to church and leave early or about someone who simply comes to church out of obligation instead of worship. For some reason this statement has been on my mind all morning, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me.

As believers in Christ, we are called to spread the love of God to our brothers and sisters in the world. Our job as Christians is not to judge them because their timing is a little off or which pew they choose to sit in, but to be thankful that they came to church in the first place. To encourage them to grow in their knowledge of the bible and their understanding of the love of God.

I have so many friends and family members that desperately need to hear the gospel, yet refuse to set foot in a church. When I ask them why they don’t come, the answer is almost unanimous, they feel judged by the people in the church. They feel like they don’t measure up to the standard that we have put on what a Christian should look and act like. They feel like they don’t fit in. That’s not on them, that’s on us.

We are the true “back row believers”. We have, like the Pharisees, rejected the commandment of God in order to establish our own traditions (Mark 7:9). We have rejected the new commandment from Jesus to love one another (John 13:34). Jesus followed this new commandment with the statement, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). People will know us by our love. Not by the way we dress, the way we talk, or where we sit, but by our love for one another.

This Sunday when you walk into your church, take a seat in the back a have a look around. Does your congregation look like it would welcome people “from every nation, from all tribes”? (Revelation 7:9). Or is it a “cookie cutter” congregation, where everyone looks the same. Jesus has called us to reach the world. Not just the part of the world that looks and talks like us, the entire world.

“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly,” (Romans 12:16 ESV).

We are called to live in unity through love in Christ Jesus to the glory of God. This is not an option. “For God shows no partiality, ” (Romans 2:11 ESV).

God shows no partiality, Jesus has no favorites, and neither can we. We must love all with the same love that was shown to us through Jesus Christ. Anything short of this is sin.

Today I encourage you to stop and look in the mirror. Take a good, hard, long look at yourself. Now, go find someone that looks completely different and tell them you love them. Tell them God loves them and Jesus died for their sins just as He did for yours. Then invite them to church. Because at the end of the day, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-34 ESV).

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolution

“For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

 

Looking back at 2016, I’ve had highs and lows. Spiritual mountaintops and darkened valleys. Like David in the Psalms, I had moments where I praised God aloud for His grace and mercy and then screamed out, “Where are You?!” I’ve had moments where I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did I end up in this situation?” If I were to be completely honest, those times of darkness were often times I turned away from God, thinking I knew better than He did, and trying to do life on my own program. But one thing always brought me back around. One emotion or concept. One feeling, love. The bible says in 1 John 4:8 that God IS love. When I was down and out, feeling blue and sorry for myself, there was always someone there to love me through it. Someone to sit me down and speak truth to my life, not anger or hatred, but love and truth. I thank God for the people He has placed in my life. People of strong faith, people to keep me accountable, people to love me. I’ve seen what my life looks like without the love of God and His people in it and it is not a pretty picture. That is why my new year’s resolution is 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.” I’ve allowed myself to drift into the cares of this world for too long, forgetting what true love looks like. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT.  God is love. There is no clearer picture of that than Jesus Christ on the cross. That is true love.