Tag Archives: Christian

Where is Your Hope? (Reflection for 9/17)

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope”
-Lamentations 3:21

ROTD: Just because you can’t see God doesn’t mean He isn’t there.

Why?

Life can beat the absolute crap out of us. Sometimes it’s due to choices we have made, and sometimes it’s out of our control, and sometimes it’s both. This is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, because it deals with just that. The first half (v.1-20) are basically this man crying out because of all the pain and affliction he has faced in life. And there is no correction of his thought. He cries out, “God, why? Why is all of this stuff happening to me? Why do you seem so set against me, so far away? Where are you?” Don’t we do that as well? When we don’t see where life is headed, or when we can’t possibly comprehend how God could be at work in our situation, we get down. Frustrated. Angry. Bitter. Depressed.

Then, the turning point.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…”

What words.
You see, we get so caught up in the before-the woe is me, life sucks, when will this end way of thinking-that we seem to forget all that we know about God. Listen to what the speaker recalls.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The speaker then goes on to describe the goodness of the Lord-how compassionate he is, how His justice is true, how He DOES hear our cries and see our tears. How, even in the midst of suffering, He is eternally merciful, he responds to our anguish.

We need to stop polarizing God-forgetting the good in the bad times, and the righteousness in the good times. But specifically, when things are hard and life has us beaten down, we need to call all these things to mind. Just because life is dark around you, and you can’t see God moving, doesn’t mean He’s gone. He’s always right there. So have hope.

Prayer

God, we pray that you help us to remember who You are at all times-good and bad. God, we know that sometimes life gets out of control, and you feel very far away. Help us to pursue You even then, even more. We need you, Lord, always. Show us Your goodness, God. We won’t let go until You do. Teach us to be patient in tribulation and to have joy amidst the pains of life. We love You, and we thank You for being who You are.
In Jesus’ holy name, Amen. 

Where Did I Go Wrong? (Reflection for 9/14)

“Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future. Therefore her fall is terrible; she has no comforter. ‘O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!”
-Lamentations 1:9
ROTD (reflection of the day):
Don’t let your arrogance lead to your consequence.
WHY?
If we go through life thinking we can follow God AND continue in our same patterns of sin. There is an inevitable spiral that will occur. You can’t serve God and yourself. Because of our sinful nature, allowing ourselves to continue to dwell in a place of sin only strengthens those desires and ways, and we fall into them more and more. The bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee, but we often forget that first we must “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). We must have an attitude of continually trying to draw closer to God, to fixate our eyes on Him, to do all that is within us to serve Him wholeheartedly. If you keep living in sin, don’t blame God for why life has suddenly gotten harder to live-examine the way you are living, first. Oftentimes, when we try to blame God for why some things in life have taken a turn, He points us back to our own actions. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that your actions never have consequences anymore. So think of your future-think about whether what you want to do is aligned with the way God would have you act and conduct yourself. Be conscious of the fact that Satan is ALWAYS around, waiting for that moment when he can trip you up. So be alert! Be in the Word, in prayer, in communication, in fellowship, and always looking up. Then you won’t have to ask, “where did I go wrong?”
Prayer:
Lord, keep my mind focused on the long run. There is more to life than just this life, but what I do here does affect what I’ll be doing for eternity. Help me to not worry about tomorrow, but to continually be aware of Your presence with me. Help me to pray, to read, to seek, and to be aware that the things I do, do have consequences. I love You, God, and I want to serve you with all that I have. Keep me awake to the workings of Satan, and help me to be aware of my actions.

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

#Lovethesinnerhatethesin (aka, On Homosexuality and The Overall Attitude Towards Sin)

In light of today’s’ historic events, I would like to state this as simply possible. Even though this is a long post.

Loving people does not mean we lessen truth.

God loves ALL people. This is true.
God hates ALL sin. This is also true.

As a Christian, a follower and disciple of Christ, I am to attempt to do the same. It’s cliche, but I do try to love the sinner, hate the sin.
Hashtag. But it is quite applicable here.

I love everyone, with a deep compassionate love as friends and to see them come to know the saving power of Christ.
But I do hate all sin. Sin is sin is sin, it separates us from a loving God who wants nothing more than to hold us close and be with us. I hate my sin. I hate the things I do that I shouldn’t. As Paul says,

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Rom. 7:15, 18-19).

I sin. You sin. We all sin. This feels uncomfortable to read, I’m sure, but that’s because it’s’ TRUTH. And truth is not a comfortable topic nowadays. We as humans hate to be told we are wrong, because we live in our own broken world.
It’s like if you were always only given puzzle pieces, but never the box. And are punished every time we try to put them together. That’s society. We like our puzzle pieces, we like having a chaotic order. But we need to see the big picture. We need to put the pieces together to realize what we are missing in our lives.

Alas, since Adam, we all sin and fall short. We all have some…desire..some longing deep within us for answers. For a reason to exist. For something more.

And that more, is God.
And while yes, God loves all of us, God also is pure Truth. and the truth of the matter is, that while I can love all people, I cannot condone the sins they do, mine included.

So do I support the decision of the Supreme Court today?
No. Homosexuality is a sin, against God’s design for humanity.
But also against God’s plan is lying. Manipulating. Sadness. Bitterness. Gossip. Stealing. Murder. I could write article upon article on each of these, because they are all things that take humanity away from God.

Unfortunately, a lot of people like to put homosexuality and other such issues apart, as if they are different or worse sins. The only thing that makes them different is the popularity level. I hate the sin of adultery as much as I do homosexuality.

To those of my friends who are in such a place, hear me.
I love you. Dearly and deeply, and you are good friends to me. That will never change.
But if I say I love you, and I believe this so strongly, then wouldn’t the loving thing to do be that I tell you the whole truth? That I love, and have dialogue, and understand, and explain, and not condemn, and not spew hate, and not base my opinion upon emotion but upon the foundation of who I am as a person? I will love you until the end, and I will live my life in such a way as to demonstrate that the love of Christ is truly compelling to any human heart.

To those of my friends in the church, hear me.
Love is good. Love is God. But God did not intend for love to be separate from His other attributes. God’s love is intertwined with His justice, His righteousness, His law, His perfectness, His holiness. We cannot just love people. We must love them in truth, or else we are just giving a false God to people.

You want to love like Jesus loved? Fine. But Jesus did not love in a politically correct manner. He loved fully, and hard, and deep, and if love meant telling someone the WHOLE truth? If love meant that He took a stand upon the truth, and didn’t move just to make someone feel loved? If love means that Jesus called out people who were sinning because of His desire for them to see the love of God in their life?

That’s love.
We need to love fully, not partially. Don’t be willing to love people without truth. Because of the issue at hand, I say this. Homosexuality, and the like, is a sin. It is. And I will stand by that. I will stand by adultery being a sin. And murder and lying and stealing and so on and so on and so on.
It does not mean I hate homosexuals or any other people group. It does mean I love people and I will do my very best to show the love of my God to this world in as true a fashion as I can. There is no hate in God for people. There is no hate in me for people. God is love, and because of that love I will make this stand. God doesn’t stand for sin, so neither will I. I will talk just as much about the hypocrisy of the church as I will the homosexual lifestyle we see now in open legal rule. No sin is good. No sin is more than another, this is just a pressing issue of the times. And so I write because I love, as God loves.

Because the Truth Can’t Be False. (Is There Relative Truth?)

This is a topic that I could (and probably will) spend the rest of my life debating for and talking about. But I am going to try my best to present three, simple points that help to explain why truth isn’t just something we can make up and choose as we go along.

1) The statement refutes itself.

This one is pure logic. Think about it. If we all are supposed to agree that truth is relative, what are we saying? WE ARE ALL AGREEING THAT THE STATEMENT “TRUTH IS RELATIVE” IS TRUE. so that means there is at least ONE thing in the world that holds true for all men. If this is true, then the entire argument falls apart. It’s a self-defeating statement.

On the other hand, if truth is relative, that makes it okay for me to say that I don’t believe that truth is relative. According to logic, I am saying that “truth is relative” isn’t true, you are saying “truth is relative” is true. Such a statement does not leave room to be both true and false; something must give way. If I am correct, then truth is relative is wrong. If you are correct, please see part one of this proof.

As Christian rapper Lecrae says in his song “Truth”, “what if my truth says yours is a lie? What then?”.  You cannot have your cake and eat it to.

2) Humanity presents evidence to the contrary.

Again, I could write papers and dissertations and sermons for years on this, but for now I will give you some simple logic to think about.
There are some things that we call universal.
A smile is a smile, no matter where you are.
We all know tears (generally) mean sad.
We all understand poverty,
We all know anger and hurt and pain. These emotions transcend culture.
I realize these are big generalizations, and the extent to which/the context in which these emotions occur may vary from country to country. But to recognize that we all smile. We all laugh, we all cry.

I did find some research for the hard-fact minded. In his article “How universal is happiness?” Dutch Sociologist Ruut Veenhoven says that “The available data suggest that all humans tend to appraise how much they like the life they live….Consequently, conditions for happiness appear to be quite similar across the world. The consequences of enjoying life are also largely universal. There is more cultural variation in the valuation of happiness and in beliefs about conditions for happiness. The greatest variation is to be found in how happy people are.” (Veenhoven, 2010)**. While how we view it differs across the board, reading through it became clear that we all do, in some way, understand the concept of “happy”.

3) “Because the Bible Tells Me So”

While this answer seems cliche, it is in fact true. We first of all recognize that Jesus Himself is the Truth. John 1:1 says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. The word “word” there in Greek is λόγος (logos), which among other things means “reason explained by words”. Christ is the reason, and He Himself says “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life-no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The word Truth here is ἀληθείᾳ (alethia), which when broken down means roughly “to not be hidden/unaware of-true, truly, verity”. God has not hidden himself from us. The reason that we have these universal, seemingly deep ingrained morals is because they have been placed in us by a God who made us in His image, because He is truth.
To say that you can be moral without religion is a contradictory statement; if there is no God, where did the morals come from? Ourselves? The laws and morals that seem to govern humanity are true, because the One who made them is true. If we created our own laws and morals, this becomes impossible. If truth is relative, then there is no point in society creating non-relative guiding morals for society. When the truth is relative, all things become permissible. There is a lot more that I could begin to say, but I was trying to keep these arguments simple and basic. Perhaps I will explore this more as I move forward in my learning, but I hope that it is at least thought provoking. God bless you!

  1. **Ruut Veenhoven, 2010. “Greater Happiness for a Greater Number,” Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(5), pages 605-629, October.

The Balancing Act (Devo, January 28)

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
-Romans 8:6-8

The outcome here seems pretty plain. Focus on the world? Death. Focus on God? Life.

Then why do so many Christians try to do both? I myself am not exempt from this. There are definitely times where I try to be as cool a guy as possible in the world while still praying and going to church on Sundays. But to be blunt, it doesn’t work like that. Think about who we are as humanity, as a whole. The human condition strives to free itself of God. Maybe not of all religions, but surely of THIS one. You don’t hear protests worldwide against Buddha. You don’t hear people trying to get Zeus or Ganesh removed from the Pledge or from schools. There was a movement to build a mosque a few blocks from the 9/11 site in New York years ago. But as soon as the name of Jesus is mentioned, there is an immediate response. Why?

Because clearly, there is something different about our God.  There is something that demands a response from the deepest parts of us, something that demands a decision. And we all know this. Because of Adam and Eve, we are all naturally disposed to sin. Our nature hates God from the get-go. Nobody chooses to be at war with God initially. We all are. It’s how life is.

But our God is a God of pursuit, who never stops chasing us and who let His only son die so that the payment for our sins could be made. Because He hates the thought of being away from us. His love is so much greater than His wrath that we deserve. He gives us opportunities and people and even nature itself speaks to who He is and His glory.

Why, then, would we want to try to walk as a part of both kingdoms?
For one, it will surely  tear us apart inside. It’s a war we can’t win on our own, and it will leave us more unsatisfied than fulfilled.
Secondly, what’s the point? The world is like…it’s like the sirens from greek mythology. They were beautiful, beautiful maidens with a lovely melodic voice that would lure men into their death among the rocks of the shore. This world is the same. It is tempting, alluring, and seems like it will fulfill you but it leads to your death. Sometimes physically, or emotionally, or mentally…but always spiritually. It will leave you unsatisfied and longing for more. Whereas God promises to give us exactly what we need, more than we want, and all that we desire. His knowledge of what we require is beyond us because He created us. And since He is the sustainer of all things, He can fill all the places that are empty within us.

When we find ourselves in Christ, we find ourselves with more peace and more joy and more life and more….everything. Life itself may not be easier, but the way we respond to it will surely change. The way we live life changes, because God first changed us.

So stop being so double minded and trying to decide what’s best for yourself. Stop trying to have everything you want, stop trying to have “the best of both worlds”. Because at the end of the day, it won’t work like that. God demands a response-and if you allow yourself to choose, you will reject Him. But if you let God work in you and reveal the true nature of either side of the fence, you will be drawn to Him.

Will you keep walking a tightrope in your life? Or will you surrender to the love and grace and mercy of Christ?

http://bible.com/59/rom.8.6-8.esv

Hand in Hand (Devo, January 26)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
-James 1:5-6

     I’m back in college now for my spring semester, and this verse especially speaks to me. I really do need wisdom this year, to know how to approach a lot of situations that are coming up in my life. There are so many times that we wish we had a bit more wisdom, a bit more insight, into what life will bring. Wouldn’t it be nice to know just what to do with your finances? If you knew the best way to fix your strained marriage? If you could sit down and figure out your best college option, or job option, or career path?

We all want wisdom. But what I think a lot of people don’t understand is that wisdom doesn’t really have anything to do with us. When we ask God for the wisdom to see what’s right to do, we think it will be like flipping on a light switch. But there’s another component: faith. If we ask God for wisdom and don’t really believe that He will come through, then why would He give it to us? It’s like a child asking a parent for something without really believing they will get it. It’s worthless.

     When we come to God asking for ANYTHING, really, we need to come in faith-in the assured knowledge that He is, in fact, God, and that He will deliver what He promised. God is willing to give to all who ask Him! If you want more wisdom, discernment, strength, discipline, He will help you and give you what you desire. It might not look like what you think it should-but it will definitely become a part of your life. But you must come in faith, lest you be tossed about by life. If you had wisdom but no faith, it might even drive you away from God. If you had discipline, but no faith, then your life becomes based on works. If you ask for discernment but have no faith, then you may question whether your intuitions are from God at all.

     Faith is so integral to our relationship with God. We need to be less like the kid who asks without being sure, and more like the little kid who just raises his hands, knowing Daddy will pick him up. There is no doubt in that baby’s mind. We need to be the same way. We need to believe and be confident in the fact that He will do all the things He promised. When we have that confidence that God will come through, then it is God who really can begin the work in us. It has nothing to do with our own power or intellect increasing; rather, it has to do with the infiltration of the Holy Spirit into our hearts to transform us to be more like Christ.

So go ahead. Ask for wisdom! Ask for the things you need. But ask in faith, and believe on God to be faithful. And He will. God bless!


http://bible.com/59/jas.1.5-6.esv

I Gotta Be Nice to WHO? (Devo, January 20)

 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
-Luke 6:35-36

  Oh no……It’s the in laws.
Specifically, MOTHER.
And you have tried. You have tried and tried and tried but it seems like no matter what, there is always something wrong. ALWAYS. And you know what Jesus says about loving your enemies, but it just seems impossible with this woman! Isn’t there another way to do things? Shes’ just..so easy to not like. It’s easier that way. I still can be civil to her. But LOVE her?

Love your enemies.  It is one of those things you can say, and it sounds good. In reality, however, it is one of the hardest to put into practice. Mercy. We are called to love our enemies, to give even when those receiving don’t appreciate, to forgive and show grace. And it’s hard! Because some people are messed up. Lots of us are. But how do you tell yourself to love your parents who never showed any kindness or care towards you? How do you tell a girl to love her rapist? How do you tell a kid to give something to the bully that took everything from him anyways? In real life, loving our enemies is much harder than it seems.

     But let’s put it in perspective.

     There came a man who preached peace, and repentance, and a new way of living that was so different from everything else that everyone else was trying. He talked about reconciliation, and redemption, a man trying to reunite His family back together.  He presented a new kind of relationship, that didn’t require our work but merely answering His call. And what happened?
His children didn’t hear Him, or want to hear Him. They shouted Him down, they tried to kill Him multiple times, drove Him out of towns and villages. His own people in the town He grew up rejected Him. Those closest to Him fled from Him. He was tried in court and, when they couldn’t really find anything wrong, sentenced Him to death. He was beaten beyond recognition, torn up and bloodied, and nailed alive to a cross to bleed and die. He was abandoned by His own Father, and for moments this man was completely alone in the world.

That man was Jesus. He took on the sins of the entire world so that we might be able to be with Him someday-because He loves us that much. And when we do become followers of Christ, we need to extend that same mercy and love towards all that we meet. Now, I’m not saying that sometimes you can’t stand up for yourself. Even Jesus threw people out of the temple when they were doing wrong. But we all are sinners. We all fall short of God’s glory. He died for us all. And to extend the grace that He extends to you, to another person…that kind of love has a powerful, life changing effect. People don’t understand just how somebody can be so gracious and merciful in a situation that clearly would be reasonable to be upset and bitter and unforgiving in. And that is where the Gospel is presented. Because just like that person may seem undeserving of forgiveness…so are we. But God did it anyway.

So yea. Put up with that annoying coworker. Be loving to that person nobody seems to care about. Try to extend yourself to that stuck-up “popular” kid. Try to forgive the driver who killed your child, try to forgive that family member, that mother, that father, that neighbor, that spouse. It’s not an easy task, and it takes time and prayer and discipline. But the effort is so worth it. Because if the love that Christ loves us with is allowed to go forth, this world will be a much, much better place.

Will you begin to try to really show God’s mercy today?

http://bible.com/59/luk.6.35-36.esv