Monday, October 24, 2011

Kick it into Gear

“ In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you have received from us.”     – 2 Thessalonians 2:16

            Have you ever seen a car in idle? Japanese sports cars tend to sound high pitched while American muscle cars have this roar like noise to them. Some of these cars can get so loud that you can almost feel the power and speed they have. The vibrations of their rumbles can almost pierce the body. However, the thing about being in idle is that it’s just noise. You don’t see the speed or the power, you just hear it. There is no movement in an idle vehicle. An individual can have the fastest race car in the world, but if it stays in idle it is useless in a race or even in getting to places. In order to be useful the car needs to kick it into gear. Are you an individual that is sitting idle?
            In this verse Paul has a pretty intense command. He tells the Thessalonian church to stay away from idle people. If you substitute the word idle with the term lazy, then you have the concept of this verse down. I have been serving in church for a long time and I see many people fall into this idle category. I am not excluded from this group. In idle they will praise God and tell everyone how they want to change the world. They are going to feed the hungry, be bold among the world, and even grow spiritually; however, like the idle car, they make just a bunch of noise. The idle person doesn’t do anything; he just spews out empty words that carry no weight. He is virtually useless. Paul tells us to avoid these people. Are you one of these idle people?
            Today I want to challenge you to kick it into gear. Instead of sitting around all day being lazy, do something. Back up your talk and be a doer; put your words into actions. You might sing about giving your all to God, or you might pray how you want to be a world changer. It’s time today to stop revving your engine and kick it into gear. Stop being useless and let’s get this done. God speed!
p.s. God speed means good luck…. lol

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why do they hate you?

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."-Matthew 5:44

I'm going to be real with you all, this is not your average post about some devotional I had. This is just bluntly my thoughts being typed out on my computer screen. It might not even be intelligible. To the few and proud westerners that are reading my thoughts, what precedes after this intro can seem really raw and gorey. The images at the bottom are not for the "faint at heart". These are just a few of the numerous stories that happen everyday to the persecuted church. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the pictures below, they depict a burning of christian corpses that Sunni Muslims committed. It took place in Nigeria and happenings like these still take place daily. As a matter of fact, 70% of Christian face persecution to this day.

When seeing these images below I was truly shaken. Questions started plaguing my mind instantly to the tone of; why do Muslims hate me, why do they hate people of God,  or why do they hate Jesus so much? I had to calm myself down and breathe because I know that not all Muslims do this. Muslims are not an evil satanic force that wants to conquer the world and put every Christian to the flames. You wouldn't know it from the numerous persecution stories, but Islam is actually a peaceful religion. So I had to refine my question and ask why do these extremist hate me? Why do they hate you God? I honestly don't know this answer and  maybe it is a lot more complicated then what meets the eye, but this is something open ended for the reader to decided. 

In all actuality, Nigerian Muslims are not the only ones persecuting Christians. In Eritrea, Africa,  professing Christians are put into shipping containers until they recant. Do you know how hot a shipping container is? I have been in one and it literally feels like an oven. It is musty and extremely hard to breath once the sun goes up. I couldn't imagine what its like being put in that with dozens of other people. Persecution is not only in Africa, it is also in the Middle East and China. China still puts Christians in prison for sharing their faith to others. 

All this truly breaks my heart. Hearing about these stories of people being tortured, abused, killed, molested, raped, all because of their belief sickens me. I can't possible imagine the pain that these individuals go through. I can't imagine the weight of the tears they shed or the scars they have to bear because of their love for God. I honestly don't know if I could pick up that cross and walk down that road which they tread on daily; can you do it? What breaks my heart just as much is the responses I hear about the persecution. The anger in people's voices. Some cry out for vengence and others want them exterminated. Is this what Jesus would want? That is called Hate and Jesus has called us to love. How about the nonchalant apathy? Would Jesus agree with that?
If there is a challenge burried somewhere in this mental spiel of mine it is love. Love those who hate us. Love those people that burnt all those Nigerian Christians alive. Love those people that killed the pregnant women and raped the families daughter. Love the person that forces the Christian child to become a soldier and commit such horrible notrocities. Don't only pray for the victim, but pray for the aggressor. Pray for the persecutor. Pray for the Muslim man that decapitates the "infidels". Pray for the Chineese Secret police who kills and throws believers in Prison. I challenge you to start praying. The persecuted need your prayers, but so do the persecutors.

Any way thats all for now.... Here are some of the photos

Sorry, I thought I could post more but I just can't look at it anymore

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Having a Godly Brain?

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”- Colossians 3:2

            I just want to challenge you today to really live this verse out. There are a lot of things that might be plaguing your mind. You might be thinking about work, school, games, TV. shows, family strife, etc. I challenge you to just take a minute and just forget about all that. Take a minute right now and just set your mind on things above this world. Set it on God, Jesus, his sacrifice, scripture, or whatever. Adopt this mindset today.
If you do this, I guarantee that your day will be filled with more joy and less stress. You will be more compassionate and loving to your neighbor. You will not become angry so quickly. In other words, you will really be a shining light. This challenge is extremely tough because as soon as you stop reading this little spiel of mine, your day will continue with the numerous challenges you have.  Your thoughts, worries, ambitions, and desires will be battering the gates of your mind and heart like a conquering army. This might be the hardest challenge that I have yet to give. Lol, why is it that the small verses in the bible seem to be the hardest to accomplish. Oh well, Good luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Opinions and Butts

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which  depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

            Being influenced by different ideas  is probably one of the most difficult struggles that I see for many Christians. Most Christians don’t even know that they are going through this struggle. We all have our own opinions and ideas about the way life works. In addition to our ideas there are billions of other ideas that range from how to live life and even the best way to be a Christian. These viewpoints and ideologies influence our life and opinions about the world we live in. In the Christian realm, there are thousands of different perspectives on what a Christian is. The secular world fairs no better; they have equal, if not more differing views on life then the Christian. So in this cesspool of ideas and opinions, which one do we follow?
            I don’t nearly have enough time or space to write about the different views of our planet. What I challenge the Christian today with is to look at the core of message of Christianity. It is not a specific doctrine, it is not a specific life style, nor does it have to do with a denomination. What it has to do with is Jesus. “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (verse 2-3). Read that last part again; to know the mystery of God is found in Christ. It is not in doctrine, it is not in church, it is not even found in the Bible. It is found in Jesus. Doctrine, church, and the Bible can give readers wrong interpretations. All you have to do is turn on the Christian channel, read church history, or even read some books to know that this is apparent. You have to look at life through the lens of Jesus. You have to read the bible through the lens of Jesus. You have to go to Church through the lens of Jesus.  It is all about Jesus. So my challenge is to look in him. Whatever your ideas are in your walk put them in comparison to Jesus. Would he agree with you? Doing this exercise will build your relationship with him because you’re getting to know him more. Knowing Jesus more opens a veil to the mystery of God. Knowing Jesus is the essential and absolute element in Christianity.
            Do this even with all the secular arguments about the nature of life. Put them into contrast with Jesus. I have been doing this for a while now and the results are interesting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Challenge to Love

“Because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for the saints” – Colossians 1:3

            What are you known for? Are you known for being really muscular or supper smart? Are you known for being the best gamer in Halo (for those that don’t know it’s a video game). Maybe you are known for an amazing talent to clean? In this chapter of Colossians, Paul is telling his audience that the Colossian church is known for their love of the saints. Imagine that, being known for love. The Colossian church had a letter written to them to describe their love; however, a few years later, that letter was put into a work that compiled with a bunch of other letters. It was still not finished though. After this, all those letters were put in a work that consisted of stories about Jesus. This work is the bible and it is still read about today. Their love for the saints is still remembered.
            Imagine being remembered for something like love. That is just so powerful. Jesus calls us to constantly love. I just wanted to challenge you this morning with loving someone. We all have people in our lives that are hard to love. I challenge you to do it. Love your family, friends, and enemies today. It is time to be remembered for something that is greater than games, school, or muscles. So go out there and start loving others.
“And the second (greatest commandment) is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” –Matthew 22:1

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Hardest Thing for Youth and Parents….

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1

            Working in youth ministry for a long time, I have come to notice the hardest commandment for most youth to follow. Do you know what that is? It is honoring your father and mother. It is the most difficult to do this especially if you have a rough home. Today, I just want to encourage all those people that are young reading this (though there are not many) to honor your parents. Love on them and just do what they ask. Pretend, if you must, that whatever they are asking you to do, is not them speaking but Jesus himself. Trust me; I know that it can be tough. But there are many benefits to honoring them. If you live in a non-believing household, it can truly show the love of God to them. It is like witnessing to them just by your actions. You become a light that shines Jesus like a beacon. How awesome is that? For those in a Christian house hold, it helps out your family. It takes off stress from their day and allows them to take it easy a little. Just listening to them and doing what they ask can truly bless them. Its called loving on them; they are the bread winners after all.

And Now for the Parents
“Fathers (this also includes mothers), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
            Parents, I hate to say this, but you have a bigger responsibility then your children. You are correct when acknowledging that your children should honor you; however, do you know what the term exasperate means? It means “to irritate or provoke to a high degree; to annoy extremely.”(  The biggest complaint I get from youth are that you guys annoy and bother them all the time. I don’t pretend to know your household situation, but being in my 20’s I can relate to both camps of this passage. Do you remember what it was like when you were their age? How your parents talked to you? In other words, put yourself in their shoes. Try to remember what it was like to be a youth. This could help you realize if you are exasperating them or not.
            Even more importantly, you guys are supposed to truly train them up in the Lord. This means numerous things; however, to put it in a few words, remember how Jesus trains us. He never gives us anything we can’t handle and he constantly loves us and is there for us. It is true that he gives us commands on what to do in life; however, he led us by example. Whatever he askes of us, he did it first. He showed us how to serve by serving us. Also, think about how many times you need to go to God for forgiveness. Do the same for your children. Show your kids how to honor others by honoring them. Anyway……. This is just some food for thought. Good Luck!