Tag Archives: God

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.

 

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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.

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).

 

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).

 

 

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.

Fall So Hard

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 ESV

 

The first sin, the fall of man. It was a dark day for mankind when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. They were kicked out of Eden, Adam had to start working the fields, and Eve was promised painful childbirth. Not a very good start in my opinion. To cut Eve some slack, she was deceived by a creature who, “was more crafty than any other beast of the field,” Gen. 3:1. Nevertheless, they sinned. They chose to believe the lies of the enemy instead of the truth of God. Why? Why did Eve put her faith in the lies of the serpent instead of God’s truth? Yes, the serpent was crafty but I think it has more to do with how Eve viewed the tree. It says she, “saw that the tree was good for food,” and, “a delight to the eyes,” Gen. 3:6. Eve viewed the tree as a delight not as a means to death. She viewed it as pleasure instead of pain. God told her that if she ate, she would die. Yet, she eats.

Thousands of years later, we still commit the same sin. God tells us not to do something because it is sin and sin leads to death, but we do it anyway. We still choose the lies of the world, the lies of the devil, instead of God’s truth. We do it because it seems delightful or may bring us momentary pleasure but we are left with guilt, heartache, and pain. We have to change our perspective on sin. We put new labels on old sins to make it seem less lethal. We say things like, “I’m struggling with…” or “I messed up again.” We must call it what it is, sin. Don’t get me wrong, I have things that “I’m struggling with,” we all do. The bible says that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. But we must call sin, sin. The good news is we don’t have to live in a continuous sin cycle, we can be free from the chains of sin.

So how do we break free? How do we escape slavery to sin?

We confess.

Romans 10:9 says, “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.” This is how we are saved from eternal damnation, but how do we free ourselves from our sin cycle?

We confess.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be HEALED.”

We confess to God and we are saved, we confess to one another and we are healed. We are not meant to do this life alone, we need each other. We need people in our lives that we can confess our sins too. I’m not talking about someone you confess to and they say, “Yeah, me too buddy! Join the club.” I’m talking about Christian brothers and sisters that will hold us accountable to our sin. People that love us enough to tell us when we are wrong and to call out our sin.

The problem many face is that we don’t like to be called out. We don’t want people to know our dirty secrets. We fear the rejection of man more than the wrath of God. This too comes from a problem with our perspective on sin. If someone warned us that we were about to do something potentially deadly, like walk into traffic or jump out of a plane with no parachute, we would thank them for saving our lives. If someone calls out our sin we tell them to mind their own business. We must view sin as the poison it is and be thankful for the people that God has put in our lives to help us overcome it.

My prayer for you reader, is that if you are struggling with sin you would confess it and be free. You don’t have to live with that guilt and shame from some hidden sin anymore. Confess and you will be healed. Break free from the bondage that is sin.

 

 

 

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.