Tag Archives: God

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!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Body

“Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

 

The bible states over and over again that we, Christians, are the body of Christ. The body of Christ, that’s kind of a weird analogy. But lets really take a look at this. Like a body, we Christians all have a purpose. We were all created to have a function on this earth that will help the church. We each have a calling in this life that will further God’s kingdom.

Now, like a human body, not every part of the body of Christ is as glamorous as others, (nobody wants to be the colon…) but they are each one just as important as the others. The bible says, “But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it.” 1 Corinthians 12:18 NLT. I know a lot of us would love to be the fiery preacher on stage, when in fact God may be calling us to drive the church bus full of seniors to pick apples. But we must not look down on these parts of the body, or feel bad when we are not called to be the “glamorous” parts of the body. Each part is essential for a healthy body.  “In fact, some of the parts that seem the weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally.” 1 Corinthians 12:22-24 NLT.

The problem that we run into today in the church is that a lot of Christians are simply not functioning the way God intended. It doesn’t work very well when your hand tries to act like a foot! We can’t pick and choose what part of the body we want to be, rather we must step into what God has called us to be. So how do we know what God has called us to be? How do we know if we are a foot, or a hand, or an eye? Well, to put it simply, you jump in! Start serving, start volunteering, see where your talents are. Try to pick up a cup with your ear or write with your feet, you’ll soon realize what and where your calling is. Some are called to be greeters, some worship leaders, and others are called to full time ministry. My point is to get out there and try! The church is always in need of more volunteers. Who knows, you may just be the next mouth of the church….or possibly the colon.

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.

 

 

 

 

Fearing Man

I’ve made a reputation for myself, and not necessarily a good one.  I’m not sure how I get here. Actually, I take that back, I do know. It starts with me turning from God.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 ESV

I try so hard to be cool, to fit in, to make people laugh. I’m still trying to be part of the “cool kids” club. But in truth, I’m running from God. I’ve made friends here, good friends, that desperately need the hope of Jesus. But instead of speaking truth to them, I engage in idle chatter. Ephesians 5:16-17 NLT says, “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.” I understand what the Lord wants me to do, yet I run. I run from the awkwardness of confessing my faith to people out of fear of what they will think or say. I hold my tongue when God is clearly telling me to speak. Instead of asking, “How can God use me?” I’m asking, “What will they think?” Bouncing back and forth between Galatians and Ephesians, it’s clear how we as Christians are supposed to act. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 I am tired of living my life to please man. It is fruitless. If I stop and look at my life and everyone agrees with me, then I can almost always be assured that it doesn’t agree with God. We as Christians follow Jesus, a man that was murdered for the way He lived. Why should we think that, as Christians following this example, we would not face some form of resistance? 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV assures us that we with face persecution if we are true followers of Christ. Looking at the world around us, it’s painfully clear that we are trying as hard as we can to please man, not God. We try to be politically correct in everything we do, worrying more of what some group of people will say about us instead of what the creator of the universe will. We think that we are making progress in law and rights when, in actuality, we are plunging further and further into darkness. We true Christians have to make a stand. We can no longer afford to fear man, we are losing too many brothers and sisters. Paul spells it quite clearly for us in a letter to Timothy. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV I don’t think you can paint a clearer picture of the world today than that. So what do we do? As Christians what can we do in such a dark world? Paul gives us the answer in the next chapter of the same book. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill you ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV I hope these words are as sobering for you as they were for me.

We are called to action. Prayer is great, and I highly encourage it. But we are called, by God Himself, to do more than just pray. We must reach out. How will they ever be saved if we fail to tell them about the love of God? Fulfill your ministry, whatever that ministry may be.

Withdrawn

“However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31 NLT

 

As I look through some of my recent journal entries, one word seems to be popping up in almost all of them, distant. Distant from friends and family (mainly because I live in a different country) but also distance from God. I don’t feel as close to Him as I have in the past. It has been weighing on me for a few weeks now.

This morning I had a few minutes before I had to take my son to school, so I decided to read a chapter. I have been on a journey through the entire bible and have made it up to 2 Chronicles. The book is recapping all the Kings, good and bad, that have ruled in Judah and Israel. Hezekiah had put into place some religious reforms to bring the people back to the Lord. As I read about the success of Hezekiah, the chapter closed with the verse above. The last part of the verse is what really hit me, “…God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.” In the ESV version of the bible it says, “God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.” That’s exactly how I have felt lately, left to myself. But as I prayed and really tried to look at this verse, God gave me a different perspective. It says that ambassadors came to ask about all the remarkable events that had happened. I believe that God left him to himself to see what he would say in regards to the miracles that God had done in his life. Would he give God the glory, or would he try and take credit for it.

As I reflect on this verse, I can’t help but be humbled by what God has done in my own life. The miracles He has worked in me, the gifts He has given me, His grace and love.  The truth is that without Jesus in my life, I can do no good. The only “good” is what Jesus does through me, when I allow His living and active word to change me and work through me. When I stop trying to take the glory for His works and just thank Him for all He has done for me. What about you? Are you having a season of “withdrawal”? Maybe this is a good time to stop and look at all the things God has done for us. His miracles, His grace, His love, His mercy. I know for me it was. This one short verse stopped me in the middle of a selfish “all-about-me” season in my life. A “test” to see what was truly in my heart.

I pray that you will give yourself fully to Jesus Christ. Hold nothing back from Him. Give every area, the good, the bad, and the ugly over to Him. Trust me, He can handle it.

 

Tone-deaf

“And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on among them today. They follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord…” 2 Kings 17:33-34

Sometimes when my wife calls me or asks me to do something, I’ll pretend not to hear her. I know, I know, this is horrible. But it’s the truth. She’ll ask me to give the kids a bath or take out the trash and I just sit there looking off into space. I joke with her that I must have gone tone-deaf to her voice…she doesn’t think it’s too funny. Making my way through 2 Kings, I came across some verses that really stood out and honestly make me reflect on the way we view Christ. I say we because I am guilty of this as well. The verse above says that yes, they worshiped the Lord, but they also continued in their old ways. They never TRULY worshiped the Lord. They never TRULY surrendered to God. As I look at my own life and compare it to these verses, I can’t help but to relate. Yes, I worship the Lord Jesus Christ, I read my bible, I sing songs of worship, and I pray. But I also have not fully surrendered. I haven’t surrendered my emotions, my selfishness, my pride, the list goes on. I know what the bible says about this, but just like with my wife, I sometimes try to act like I don’t hear the Lord calling out to me. It’s usually when He asks me to do something difficult or out of my comfort zone. In these times it’s important for us to remember the promises of God. God said He would never fail us, forsake us, or abandon us. Hebrews 13:8 states that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If this is true, and we believe what the bible says, we must take to heart what Jesus said in Matthew 28, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus Christ is with us. Always. We Christians must turn from our old ways. We must forget the religious customs that came from this world and remember what the bible says about who we are and what we are called to do. We can’t afford to turn a deaf ear to God any longer, this world needs Him. Please, please don’t follow the footsteps of those mentioned in 2 Kings 17:40, “But the people would not listen and continued to follow their old ways.” Whatever God is calling you to do, no matter how difficult or awkward it may be, do it. God is with us. Trust in His word. “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.” Philippians 1:6.