Standing Up in a Sit Down World

Living a life above reproach is the dominant challenge Christian’s face. Why is it so hard? Why must we be different than others? Why can’t we just live normal lives like everyone else? Peter says it best. In 1 Peter 2:9, he writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

I often use the phrase “standing up in a sit down world.” I heard this at a summer camp when I was 9 years old, and it stuck with me ever since. This statement means to willingly be different because we are confident in who God created us to be. As Jesus followers, we are called to live like Him. When we look back at historical scenarios involving Jesus’ encounters with others, we notice almost an awkwardness about Jesus and a strange vibe that He often gave off even to political and spiritual leaders in the community. The reason Jesus’ conversational encounters seem to be odd is because He was odd. He was DIFFERENT. Now before you get mad and DM me about how ridiculous I am for saying Jesus was odd,  you have to hear me out. The definition of odd is “different from what is usual or expected- strange.” Remember, Jesus was not the man hanging out with the rich pharisees and drinking fine wine with the Jewish leaders. He was the man befriending tax collectors, protecting adulterers, performing miracles on the Sabbath, and informing the High Priest on His intentions to tear down the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Jesus’ remark about the Temple would be equivalent to someone in today’s society saying they intend to burn down the White House. As you can see, Jesus made many extraordinarily bold statements. Why? His life was not to be lived only in obedience to the Father’s will, but also as an example of how we are to live. If we are called to reflect Jesus, we must be different too. We must stand up in a sit down world.

The HOW, is what becomes an issue. Because of our sin nature, we have no ability to choose righteousness on our own. We must do all things in the strength granted to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, our sin nature desires to rule over our lives. So how do you battle the two? You must die to yourself every day. This means, giving up our fleshly desires for God’s will. Die to your wants and let Christ take over. Let his thoughts fill your your mind and let His love fill your heart. When we practice living a life for Jesus and not ourselves, we create habits that honor God and influence others in a righteous way. The struggle never goes away though. The idea that we would live righteous lives infuriates the enemy which gives him incentive to destroy lives and ruin reputations. When Satan attacks us, he brings people into our lives who have bad intentions or he may throw an obstacle at you that seems to big to overcome. He also will bring up previous temptations hoping you will fall back into the very sins you tried so hard to overcome. We must be prepared for Satan’s attack by putting on the full armor of God as talked about in Ephesians six. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). Do not let the enemy take over your thoughts. Pricilla Shirer says, “Do not enter dialogue with the enemy.” Louie Giglio describes it as, “giving Satan a seat at your table.” Both phrases emphasize the importance of looking to Christ as your ideal and resisting the enemy. Protecting yourself from the forces of evil through the supernatural force of the Holy Spirit is vital  not only to your spiritual life, but also your mental and physical life.

What does this look like in MY life? Honor God and love other’s wherever you are at in your life. If you are a student, be a student. If you are a Husband or Wife, be a spouse. Whether you are a businessman or a handy man, do what God has called you to do for His glory. Confide in those who seek God’s will, and pursue relationships that Honor the King. Peter tells us we are a “royal priesthood.” Therefore act like it. Women, be proud daughters of the most high. Men, be bold warriors for the kingdom. Value yourself the way God values you, and value others the way God values others. When the enemy approaches, do not be timid. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV). Be bold like Christ and seek His guidance in all things. Pray like a warrior because you are one.

 

What is Good Community?

Many people have different ideas of what good community is. A “good friend” can be many things depending on what your morals are based on. We see what good community looks like all through scripture from people like David and Solomon, to Paul and Timothy, to Jesus and the disciples. The writers of scripture deeply stress the value of good community among believers because they understand being a Christian in a dark sinful world is not easy and can not be done alone. I like to think of the influences we should keep as Christians as not only to be “good community”, but “godly community”.

Why is “godly community” important for believers? Our goal as Jesus followers should be a consistent pursuit to live lives that reflect Jesus. Just like anything in life, reaching a goal takes more than desire. It takes discipline, effort, time, and COMMUNITY. If your goal is to be a doctor, spending time with other doctors or people pursuing the same thing would be a wise choice. If you want to be a professional basketball player, you would want to seek out other basketball players and coaches that will help improve your skills to reach that goal. It goes the same for our walk with the Lord. In order to reach the goal of being like Christ, we must pursue friendships that point us to Him. According to scripture, anyone who encourages you to seek the Lord is a good friend. Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”(NIV) Wisdom is something that is God-given. The more time we spend with God, and with those who reflect the person of God, the wiser we will become. This does not apply solely to friendships, but also dating relationships as well as marriage. Now, I am not married, so I may not be able to give you tips on having a healthy marriage, but I do know scripture is clear about whom God desires us to pursue. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14, ESV) In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth he brings this topic to surface because it was a serious problem. The church was being broken apart by the peoples desire for unhealthy relationships with non believers and the pursuit of those who were not honoring God with their lives. If we are not careful with the company we keep, we will find ourselves buried in guilt, shame, and regret. Why? Because we are human; we can only say no to a sinful desire for so long before we find ourselves enslaved by temptation. On our own we cannot beat temptation. I can speak from personal experience. I was not always the person you may think I am from reading this blog. Not too long ago I found myself with a crowd who wanted to claim to be Christians to look good, but would rather lead lives that portrayed the complete opposite to feel good. Being raised in a Christian home, I knew my company was not healthy. I knew they were not people that desired to lead me to righteousness, but I didn’t care because caring about my walk with Christ was lame to them. Therefore, it became lame to me as well. I started making the choices they did, and saying what they said. Thankfully enough, when I was drowning in guilt, shame, and blinded by my own darkness, God pulled me out. I spent a lot of time in prayer, and the Lord lead me to people who would play a huge role in the life I now live today. I am not perfect by any means, but because of the new found influences that I choose to keep, I consistently feel God’s presence in my life- even in the trials. Never underestimate the influence of the people you have allowed in your life.

Steps Towards Finding Godly Community:

  • Pray (pray that God changes your desire and directs you to those who honor Him)
  • Read Scripture (find scripture that relates to your situation and study God’s words)
  • Go and Seek (seek friendships that honor Chris. Make an effort to spend time with people that glorify Him)

Prayer

Prayer is the supernatural event in which we speak to God. Though we may not be able to see God, or reach out and touch Him; we as Christians know that God is omnipresent. Meaning: God is everywhere at all times. We often forget the supernatural that takes place when we seek God in prayer. Think about prayer as the way we communicate first hand with the God of all creation. It is essential for our Faith. In order to maintain a “relationship” with another person, we must be good communicators. It goes the same for our faith. If we truly want a strong relationship with God, we should desire to talk to Him. It is essential that we are not timid of His presence or His voice, but that we delight in His willingness to deeply love us. All through the New Testament we see God relating to those he loves; not shunning in disapproval, but kindly listening and loving on those who come to Him. When Jesus fed the 5,000 in Matthew 14, he tells his disciples to bring the five loaves and two fish to Him; symbolizing the ability to take care of the needs of those who follow Him.

The problem with Christians today is the immunity of God. We have developed a mindset towards God that undermines His power. Therefore we see a lack of prayer life in many professing Christians in today’s world. I live in an area where there is a church on every corner, which may seem like an awesome thing for someone who does not live in the Bible Belt or may live in a country where Christianity is scarce or banned. Our prayers become vague when we have an improper view of our Creator. Simply because there is no reverence towards the one whom we are praying too. In order to encounter God through prayer, it is important to understand the character of God. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power, and divine nature.” (Romans 1:20a). Paul’s pointing out God’s divinity and power to the Romans. He desires for the church in Rome to truly have a proper image of the creator. Until we do the same, we will not receive the results that we “expect” through our prayers.

What should we expect when it comes to prayer? John writes, “Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) We can be certain that anything spoken by God will be heard if our hearts are focused on His will and not our own. We can also be sure that the more we pray, the closer we find ourselves under God’s protection.

What can we talk to God about? We can discuss anything from the blessings we are thankful for, to the our daily necessities, and even simple topics like our everyday occurrences. Whatever is laid on your heart, take it to God. It is important to remember that not only is God our savior and our father in Heaven, but He is also our friend. In fact, He is our best friend. He defines “best friend”. He is the one who knows our struggles, our pain, our wants and needs, to how many hairs are on our head. If God loves each of us individually wouldn’t it only make since to go to Him with our life? I am not saying that God will give us everything we we ask Him for. What I am saying is that God does care about you. He wants to hear from you, and He wants to guide you. Ultimately, He wants us to understand that He knows our every need. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3:12). If we want to hear from God, we must start by living for Him. Seek God’s guidance and He will faithfully plant you where He desires.

What Is Grace?

Grace is a term we hear quite often. Most of the time, we hear it in Church or in disciplinary situations. Many people tend to confuse GRACE  with forgiveness and mercy. Sorry to say, but grace is neither of those. Grace is the the free and unconditional favor of God, as shown through the salvation of sinners.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Meaning: though as humans, we by nature reflect nothing but dishonor and foolish disobedience, God chose to send His perfect, humble, and righteous son; to carry the weight of our sin into death. In doing so, we could receive the gift of eternal life. That’s grace. Forgiveness is God allowing us to change our hearts, and making us new and whole when we sin. Mercy is God withholding punishment from those he loves. Because of our sin, we all deserve hell. From the time we were conceived in the womb we were destined for eternal death. But because of God’s mercy and forgiveness, he gives us opportunity and freedom through salvation. Both of those acts are able to be done in following of God’s grace.

I would say grace can be condensed into the term, unconditional love. The term unconditional love is a sacrificial love with no boundaries. No matter the sin, no matter the words, no matter the hate, and no matter the past you may carry; if your name is hidden in Christ, you are forgiven and saved by God’s GRACE. Think about all the people in your life that you love. Though your love for those people or that person may be deep and full. And though you may be confident that you would sacrifice yourself for them, us humans are fully incapable of true unconditional love. Which is what sets God’s Grace apart from the grace we experience within our peers here on earth. If God’s grace was common and complacent, it would have no power to it. It would be nothing to put hope in because we then could have hope in ourselves rather than God. It is important that we understand not only what grace is, but the value of it. Because of God’s decision to grant us grace we no longer are slaves to our sin, but we are made royalty to the King of all creation. “For freedom you have been set free. Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Paul tells the church in Galatia to stop taking on the pressure and weight of their mistakes. He says this because Jesus has already taken it on for us all. The sacrifice of the Son was the ultimate act of grace in all of human History. As weird as it may seem, that “ultimate act of grace”, was directed at you and me. Yes; the liar, the thief, the adulterer, the murderer, the envious, the prideful, the selfish, the rapist, the dishonoring, the hateful, the fornicator, the greedy, the angry, the homosexual, and the immoral. Under God’s mighty unconditional sacrificial love, what is known as grace, every sin under Heaven has been forgiven and shown mercy, so that we will one day spend eternity with Him. That is grace.

Scripture about Grace:

Romans 5:8,  Ephesians 2:8-9,  John 1:16,  Acts 11:23,  Acts 15:11,  1 Corinthians 13:10

 

 

Doubt…

I recently received a question on whether doubt was a sin or not. Also, did Jesus doubt and is it healthy? In General, the act of doubting is not a sin, in fact many of us should doubt situations that may not be healthy or uplifting. I believe God instilled different brain functions to help us battle obstacles throughout life. However, as Christians we know that because of the fall, all systems of life have been “broken” and “disjointed”. In other words, the perfect world that God created was no longer perfect. Meaning a warning mechanism that is instilled by the creator is now also capable of being twisted by the enemy.

Doubt becomes a sin when it is used to question God. You may say, “How can I be sinning if I am simply being careful with what I listen to?” and my response to that wold be; are you really being careful with your beliefs, or undermining the voice of God? God clearly states in scripture of His ability and willingness to speak to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. “So I say to you: ask and you shall receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9). Jesus is telling us here that our relationship with Him is not one sided. If we call upon the Lord, He will respond. Typically, this is when doubt rises to the occasion. Most of the time, we doubt when we open the door to both God and Satan. God may give us guidance and direction while the devil paints a picture of a discomforting situation in our mind. Which then causes us to stiff arm the truth and believe into a lie.

Doubting our faith or the voice of God is not healthy by any means. Picture a long line of dominos. Once the first domino is triggered, it is a steady pace at which the following dominos are impacted by the recent fall. It’s the same thing when it comes to doubt. once we open the door to the enemy, he finds a place in our mind and does what he does best. Deceive. eventually we end up believing a long line of lies and faulty claims about our ability, potential, self worth, or our salvation. Not only does this push us farther away from the arms of the father, but it damages friendships, destroys marriages, tears apart one’s success, destroys a person’s physical health due to stress, and enables a person to clearly listen and understand the words God intends to speak to them.

Jesus never once doubted. He was an all-knowing being therefore he never once doubted the will of the father. Even at His death, He knew the will of the Father before He opened the door to the lies of the enemy. Judah Smith once said, “For Jesus knew the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barrabas, in order to treat Barrabas like Jesus.” what pastor Judah is pointing out, is the number one priority in Jesus’ life was to consistently dwell in obedience to the father. If our mission on earth is to be like Jesus, we must reject the knock of the enemy and find peace in God’s voice. By doing so, we will find ourselves at peace from obedience to the Father’s will. When we keep our minds and hearts renewed with God’s promises daily, we are capable of cutting off the road that leads to doubt and stiff-arming the enemy.

What is God’s Word?

God’s word is as many of you know, the Bible. However, living in a world that flaunts religion and Jesus as something you do for good luck or the guy who “hung out” on the cross we all wear around our neck, it’s easy to undermine the reality of Scripture. we must not forget these three things:

  1. All Scripture is God Breathed: This means everything written in the Bible was spoken into being by God Himself. though many men might have been titled as “authors” of certain books in the Bible, each word written in it was spoken through the writers by THE Creator God.
  2. It is the Inerrant Word of God: Because the Bible was spoken into being by the Ruler of all creation. It is inerrant. For God does not make errors and never will He start. This belief is essential if we truly want to allow God to speak to us.
  3. The Bible is NOT a rule book, it is a GIFT: I believe the Bible to be a gift from God Himself. Not only do we have a way of speaking to God through acts of Prayer, but we also have a way of hearing from the Lord through His word. Yes the Bible contains the Ten Commandments along with many other commands from God on How he desires for us to live our lives. But, if we are saved by the blood of His son, we should whole-heartedly desire to honor His commands. Not out of timidity of a supreme being, but simply out of love and reverence for the One who first loved us. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7)

So let’s say someone gave you a gift that was handcrafted, perfect, completely flawless and without mistake, and is capable of changing your life for the better simply because the person loves you… Would you accept it? Would you use it? Would you share it with others? I believe you would. Now I may not know who you are or how you think. But what I do know is the struggle of living in a world so crooked and broken. I know the pain and the desperate need for satisfaction. I also understand how the ideas of self-worth and popularity play major roles in the EYES of young people. I’m here to tell you today that the answers you seek and wish to find all live inside the “sixty six book love letter” from God Himself. God’s word is not a decoration or a pre-game hype. God’s word is about changing lives and pointing those who read it to the Cross. which is the center point of all of life.