Friday, July 23, 2010

The Right Foundation

To be honest, I am not sure how many readers I have. I know for certain that at least three people read my blog. Thank you to everyone who reads the blog and I pray that God would continue to use my blog in whatever way He see's fit. That being said I have a request for all my readers:

Please pray for this next week. The Uth group at Calvary Kendall will be taking 140 kids up to central Florida to spend a week in Camp Gilead. I think this is an extremely important time if not the most important time for these kids. I am unsure of where many of the kids are in life, however, given that it wasn't to long ago that I was their age and I was surrounded by the pressures and pains that come with being young, I can only imagine that based on the way this world works, it has gotten progressively worse.

Everyday now it is consistent in the news, this world is loaded with evil. If I call myself a man of God and I claim to be a warrior then I must go and fight for the Lord in the place where He has called me. My place is with the youth. On a regular basis the enemy takes joy in poking and prodding their young minds, loading them with complete garbage and lies. In today's world the education system sells ideas like safe-sex before marriage and evolution as if they were products you would find in the healthy food section. This world is twisted.

I have received comments from some on my need to study apologetics and read so much, telling me I don't focus enough on the love of Christ. Clearly they don't understand why I do what I do. In fact they forget that it is His love for me that ignites in me a passion to learn all I can about that which has saved me and continually sanctifies me. The more I ponder His love and mercy on my life, the more I can't help but cry, the more I can't help but praise, the more I can't help but make it my lifelong goal to know everything I can in order to be used by Him to go wherever, whenever to answer whatever for whomever all in His name.

Aside from the fact that knowledge and reading are powerful and that the bible calls us all to be diligent in studying the truth (2 Tim 2:15), another huge reason why I study apologetics is for the kids. Have you ever sat and spoken with a kid and listened to some of the questions they have about God and the bible? In the book "Who Made God?" Norman Geisler begins his section of the book with a story. The story was about a day when his grandaughter approached him with a question his wife could not answer: "Grandpa, who made God?" He goes on to say that while the obvious answer was no one, He has always been, we as Christians need to do well in learning all we can about what we believe.

Imagine being used by God to answer that question holding one child back. Imagine leading a child to Christ! I don't think their is a more beautiful thing in this world. To take a young mind and through God be used to set it in the right direction. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs
22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

In Matthew, Christ warns us of the consequences of causing one of His little ones to stumble.

18:6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

As Christians, as men and women of valor, we who have seen and been poisoned in our pasts by the wells of this world should be quick to keep watch on those kids we come across. It is so important we get a hold of the foundations of their lives and gear them toward Christ. This world is filled with liars, apostates, deceivers and the like. Any one today can sell you a cynaide pill and make it look like M&Ms. Show them love, show them mercy, show them grace, show them all these things just as Christ showed you them when you fell on your face and came into His arms.

Our lives ought to be living letters for the youth. We need to shepherd them and lead them by example (1 Peter 5:2-4). We must be above reproach so that in seeing our good works, they might follow in our example.

In my daily reading of Isaiah the other day, God pulled the brakes of my heart and parked me in the center of a verse that to me is Him yelling at me:

Isaiah 58:12 Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

Though many say that this verse is speaking of Christ, if I am to be Christ like, then I too must do my all to raise up the foundations of many generations. Those generations which will come after me. The last thing I want on my watch is for Judges 2:10 to come to pass, and if I can pass on that same passion to the youth, then it won't.

Paul calls us as those with knowledge to give aid to the weak in 1 Cor 8:10-12. We who have the knowledge need to do all we can to pass it on to others, just as Christ has passed it onto us. That we who know what is right ought do it and be lights in this world, especially to the young ones.

Please pray for us this upcoming week. Pray for our leaders, pray for our sessions, our devos, pray for the hearts of the kids, that this wouldn't be a recreational vacation from life to enjoy and have fun, but that this would be a retreat of the heart from the things of this world in order to build strong christian bonds, in order to link up to God and never let go. May it be about igniting a fire in their lives, that the Consuming Fire might burn away the chaff in their lives that only the heart would remain, a heart of flesh, ready and willing to receive all that God has to pour out. That God would break them and rebuild them. That He would invade the rooms of the temple of their hearts and turn over tables, leaving no room for anything except Christ. That they would not be discouraged by this world, but encouraged in Christ, because of the cross, to live boldy in His name, proclaiming His love and glory to everyone. May we all live to be this way, may we all long for a closer relationship with Christ.

May we all be as the man who found the treasure hidden in the field in Matt 13:44, willing to sell all we have for the field, to dwell in the field, live in the field, work in the field, worship Him day and night in the field.

I leave you with something God dropped on my heart. My prayer for the youth of today

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“ I have no pleasure in them”:
2 While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
5 Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
8 “ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“ All is vanity.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two ears, one mouth...

It was 7 in the morning and I was wondering why I was even awake, then I realized my door was cracked open just wide enough to allow a dog to come in. It was then I knew why I woke up. I have a 4 year old yorky named Snickers (to me his name is Puppy, Mr. Puppy when I am upset) who for whatever reason has chosen me to be his best friend in the house. That dog loves me. Normally, his routine is to wait until my alarm clock goes off. Upon hearing it, he quickly rushes to my door and patiently waits for me to open it. If the door doesn't open quickly enough for him, he'll begin scratching at my door, whine and bark, begging me to come out so I can say hello.

This morning was different though. When he went to scratch the door, it opened. I was completely silent when he walked in. He didn't know I was in the room. I could hear him sitting in the center of my room panting, looking for a sign of life. I could hear his discouragement when he let out an almost silent whimper and began to walk out of my room. I smiled and just said "puppy" in an almost silent 7 in the morning voice (the kind of voice you can barely make out) and he quickly jumped for joy. Immediately he jumped onto my bed and began running around in circles just barking and licking. It was awesome.

Made me wonder though. Is that how we are? Like puppy, we too should have that someone whose voice makes us scream for joy. The voice that when heard, causes our hearts to melt and makes us want to run in circles just praising in love. Not knowing what to do or say, we are just all over the place, in pure awe that He would even talk to us. Is that how we respond?

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

As Christians, we should always know what His voice sounds like and if we don't then we ought to figure out why that is and get as near to Him as possible. The closer we draw to Him, the closer He draws to us (James 4:8). This is why it is so important that we get in His word and we pray. When we pray, we must always remember that it is dialogue with God, not a monologue. A lot of the times we get so caught up in asking asking asking that we fail to remember, "Prayer is about getting to God, not the answer." (Chambers) How else are you going to get to God if you don't listen to Him? How else are you going to know His voice if you don't listen for it. It is important because as John tells us in 1 John 2:23 we need to know the Son, else we don't have the father. John is exhorting us to have an intimate relationship with Christ.

A.W. Tozer put it well in his book Man's Pursuit of God (get it, it rocks!)(and sorry, the quote is long)

Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. We are at the opposite end of the pole from there. Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.

Take a 5 minute break right now, and ask God to speak to you. Pick a Psalm right now (Psalm 43, 44, 50, 51, 81, 84, 37, 100 pick one!)and just read it and keep silent and listen. Did He rock you? Alright let's keep going! (Praise God)

A lot of the time, we get caught up in like I said, asking asking asking, that we don't consider the other side of a conversation: listening. James tells us that we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Quick to listen to His word, slow to speak back, and slow to becoming angry if we don't like what we hear. But if it is God speaking, and we know His voice, why should we be angry? Ever stopped to wonder? I know I have. How can we get mad at God. If you haven't read Micah, check it out, sweet little book. In it, in chapter 6 verses 1-8, we see God contending with Israel. He is asking them "Why?" In verse 4 He reminds them of their captivity in Egypt and how God rescued them. Now this isn't the first time God does this in the bible. There are countless verses in which God has to remind the people that He is God and that He has rescued them. Why is that?

What is it about ourselves that gives us the right to second guess God? As Christians, when we hear God's voice, we should be just as excited as my puppy was this morning. "Yeah well sometimes God isn't exactly the nicest guy, sometimes the trials hurt!" Yeah, well consider this: Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Imagine that, even in chastening, there is love.

We aren't always going to like what we hear from God, that is a given. He tells us time and time again that we aren't going to understand His ways, however, that in no way gives us the right to question Him. Job learned that when God answered him in Job 38. Beautiful chapter of the bible. God has to remind Job who laid the foundations, who controls the ocean, who feeds the animals, who provides shelter, who causes rain, who guides lightning, who makes ice, who causes it to melt, who guides the sun.

If God is control of everything, and through Him all things are made. If it His God who holds the universe together by the power of His word, if it is God who does all things (and all things He does are good James 1:17) and works out all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28) why don't we listen to Him. He should be the first person we go to, He should be the first voice we look out for.

God speaks through a variety of ways. Sometimes it is through His word, sometimes through a person, and sometimes, in silence.

There are plenty of times in life, I know at least for me, where we feel as though the voice of God is silent. "He isn't speaking to me" we say with a discouraged faint and as a result we waiver and in some cases we fall. What if God keeps silent on purpose? What if His silence is His answer? Every stopped to wonder that sometimes God keeps silent to teach us something. What if we have become so dependent on His blessings that we have forgotten that it has nothing to do with His blessings and everything to do with Him, the Giver of the blessings. So God is being silent, that doesn't mean He isn't working. This is where faith steps in. Perhaps our faith is being tested, and in this test, we'll come out with a stronger more immovable faith.

We have to go through valleys to gain perspective. You won't know just how high the highest mountain top is, until you have first seen the lowest valley. Remember this,

Matt 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Whether in good times or in troubling periods, God is speaking, listen for His voice and remember, it's God, who cares if we don't like what we hear, quit focusing on the your feelings toward the message and start focusing on God's feelings toward you. Listen for His voice and learn it well. Once you know it's Him'll melt...

Job 2:10b "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


For some time now, this verse has been beaming in my head. While most people know it, sometimes I think few people truly understand the depth.

The Kingdom is an Upside Down Kingdom. Whatever it is you know of kings and rulers, governments and how to attain status, toss it. A lot of the times we get caught up in the thrill seeking, the books, the head knowledge, the evangelism, the ministry, the work. May we never forget the first thing needed to enter His kingdom.....bankruptcy...

I leave the rest of my post to Oswald Chambers...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit." Matthew 5:3

Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I can not attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be - to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man - the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord's teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. "Blessed are the paupers in spirit," that is the first principle in the Kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ's kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility - I cannot begin to do it. Then Jesus says - Blessed are you. That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
We are nothing. We came in naked, we go out naked. Everything in between, we have because of Him. Mercy, Grace and Love are what we have and they are manifest in everything we have been blessed with. Because it is by His mercy we haven't died off, it is His grace that allows me to stand before His throne boldy, and it is His love that did all this for me. May we never forget who it is we really are.

Read Isaiah 59 today and see what it is we are without Him and what it is He did for His sake to save us...

Love you all...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When Necessary, Use Words...

Preach the gospel and when necessary, use words. - St. Francis

This is one of those quotes that for time now has been stated repeatedly, both for its simplicity and it's depth. The quote itself is something that if placed in a paragraph of jargon might be lost due to how short it is, however, this quote carries with it the weight of the gospel.

For those of you that don't know, this week is my last week at my current employer. God has graciously provided me (and why I don't know) a job elsewhere. The stress level is reduced and the work load is decreased, however, I think the lessons God is going to teach me are going to be like non other. While I have a peace about my next job, I don't. I do because I know that it's where I need to be, however, at the same time I have this sense of unworthiness. Why? Well it's mainly due to the above quote.

This morning I came in earlier than normal to complete something for someone. It was a simple yet tedious task of scanning somewhere around 1,000 pages of bank statements, enough to make you prefer being thrown into a washing machine (it was the first thing that came to mind, I'm sorry). Nevertheless, while I was scanning, the person who assigned me the job came by my desk to check on the status of his work. I was no where to be found (because I was in the copy room scanning away). The sad part came when he sent me an email that read: " I thought you were coming in at 7am?
My good friend, unless something important or a family emergency came up, I need to say that you certainly don’t practice what you preach."

After speaking to him and ironing out the reason behind his message, it was clear that it had nothing to do with trying to upset me and everything to do with him being a good friend. He isn't a christian, however, he was sharpening me and bringing to my attention a fault I have. I work hard, however, not hard enough. I commit to things, but at times I struggle to follow through. I have the tendency to some days just get lazy. Additionally, and to my shame, I have in the past used a holy act to justify an unholy act.

The danger in the above is that with each occurence my testimony is damaged. It's true what St. Francis said, our words are not nearly as important as our actions. Our actions and how it is we handle situations both in response and in initiation can often times determine how open people will be to hearing the gospel when the opportunity is presented to us. Tomorrow I'll be going to lunch with him. When the opportunity presents itself to talk Jesus, I now have the obstacle I put in front of me.

Whether at work or at school, church or at home, please please please keep that testimony. If our commission is to preach the gospel unto every nation and bring people to Christ, we need to make sure that our lives match up with the thing which we're saying. A quote that has always stuck out in my head goes like this: “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”

Matt 5:16 is clear on our need to be lights in this world, but what happens when we go against what the gospel says? It's kinda like putting a lens cap over your flashlight, sure you have a flashlight, but you look just as dark as the next guy. We are all going to sin, no man is without sin (Ecc 7:20). It is this pressing matter that allows Christianity to talk, however, when we become hypocritical in our talk and our walk doesn't line up, we are in danger of shutting doors.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have spoken with people on the street and most of the time the issue has nothing to do with the bible more than it does with the people. Many times people have an issue with the church, with the pastor, with a friend who is a christian and often times we forget one of the most important ingredients of christianity. We forget the most important element of Christ: Love (John 13:35). Love should drip from our every word, our every actions.

Love alone should drive us to live to be more Christ-like. While we will never be exactly like Christ, our walk should always be headed in the direction of Him (1 John 2:6).

I am dirt. I am the lowest of the low. The only thing that makes me anything in God's eyes is Christ and Christ alone. Because I am covered in the blood of the lamb I am made white as snow. Love should be my driving force, love should flow through my veins and come right out my pores. When I sin, my spirit should twist and turn in desparate need of repentence and a hug from the father.

Consider this next time you're about ready to do something that might compromise your walk. Look at the people around you, the people who are about to witness you explode. If they even have the slightest idea you are Christian, or if you're wearing that WWJD bracelet, consider their hearts, better yet, consider their eternal destination. Think about how you might hinder the word from getting through. Think about how with your actions you might cause someone to stumble over the cross. Consider not your own need to express your emotions through anger and desdain, instead, consider your need to express the love of Christ, so that someone might come to know Him. It's all about humility because of love. You are humble because it was His love alone that saved you. You express humility and esteem others greater than you and as a result want nothing more than to love on them.

Let love be the blood which sustains your every breath. Because it is His blood that is proof of the ultimate love He first had for you.

I have a week left in this place. May the rest of my week be a living letter for Christ, so that when I'm gone, someone might consider Christ. I have had plenty of mishaps and most likely, many people in this place won't remember me for Christ. (It makes me cry) However, all is not lost if just one person see's the light. Then all the mistakes, all the stupidity and all the heartache was worth it.

1 Corinthians 9:22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

James 1:22 "But be DOERS of the word, not just hearers, deceiving yourselves."

Love you guys/gals

Adendum: I was just listening to to this song and I wanted to add it...sometimes when we mess up we need this reminder...

I'll blame all this on my selfishness
Yet you love me
And that consumes me
And I'll stand up again
And do so willingly

You give me hope, and hope it gives me life
You touch my heavy heart, and when you do you make it light
As I exhale I hear your voice
And I answer you, though I hardly make a noise
And from my lips the words I choose to say
Seem pathetic, but it's fallen man's praise
Because I love you
Oh God, I love you
And life is now worth living
If only because of you
And when they say that I'm dead and gone
It won't be further from the truth

When I go down
I lift my eyes to you
I won't look very far
Cause you'll be there
With open arms
To lift me up again
-Relient K (When I go Down)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Piece of Mind

I had a weird dream last night. Well not weird, I mean nothing extraordinary happened, however, there was one thing that wouldn't leave. Lamentations 2. I woke up at around 1:45 in the morning with the need to read Lamentations 2 and for fun I read Isaiah 2 as well. I can't remember for the life of me Isaiah 2, however, I did go to sleep asking God what He was trying to tell me with Lamentations 2.

The whole chapter is about how angry God is with His people. So here I am at 2 in the morning asking God what He is so mad at me about? What was He getting at? What did I do now? I fell asleep clueless. My second dream was pretty much the same, only this time, Isaiah 11 was ringing in my head. This morning when I awoke, it wasn't to my normal alarm clock. Apparently I had left my digital clock alarm on. It was set for 7:25am. I normally wake up at 7:45am (On Mondays) and get out of the house by 8:10am. So while I waited for 7:45am, rather then try to sleep, I read Isaiah 11. It was beautiful.

It was all about the future we would have with God because of what Christ would do. This chapter, in case you haven't read it, or don't remember it, is all about what it will be like to live under the Rod who would come from the house of Jesse. Clearly we identify this as Christ. The details of the chapter though were weird to me at 7:30 in the morning after only being awake 5 minutes, I was reading verses about babies playing with vipers and leopards relaxing with goats. Sure God, whatever you say.

I finished my wake up by reading Mark 5 and got out of bed. The verse from Mark 5 that stuck out to me was when Jesus told the woman that "Your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction." I walked into my kitchen now with a chapter about Anger, a chapter about babies and vipers and Jesus healing a woman.

Then it hit me. The babies and the vipers are a symbol of peace. Can you imagine, seeing a small child playing with the most venomous snake and not being killed? Can you imagine a goat and leopard living in the same place and the leopard not eating the first? Talk about going beyond human understanding. This thought then drove me to Phil 4 where Paul speaks of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

So I'm starting to connect the dots, however, what about that chapter from Lamentations? Then it clicks. In Lamentations (and part of this I am putting together now as I type) the people of Israel are being afflicted. It seems as though God has forgotten them. Jeremiah is crying out and reminding the people of there folly and is painting God to be one who is devouring His own people. But in chapter 3, God reminds us of His mercies and how they are made new every morning.

At this point fireworks are flying in my head. I just got a picture from God of his redeeming story. How at first, God was angry with the daughter of Judah (Lam 2:1), yet, Christ came and gave His blood for us so that we have a way of permanently stopping the bleeding that sin was causing because of our slavery to it and then as a result of our faith in Christ, we are saved and now have peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace so bizarre that to this world, there is no explanation.

As I finish this, a passage in scripture comes to mind, my Bethel, as I call it.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

Why God gave me that I don't know, and I apologize for the horrible structure and flow of this blog, however, I definitely know this one was from God. It is so sweet to see Him speak to us.

I pray for any and all who are suffering. For the guys who at this moment are confused or struggling with sin or don't feel like they are living up to their call as men, remember who our refuge and strength is. Remember that as men we are not called to live by our own strength and that sometimes doing what is right in His eyes may sometimes make us seem like fools in the eyes of other men (2 Cor 13:7), but let's all live to the ringing of Gal 1:10.

For the girls, the daughters of God, don't ever lose respect for yourself. God hasn't and neither should you. Don't ever settle for less than what God has for you, and while at times it may seem as though the weight of sin is breaking down the walls of your heart and the world is flooding the camp you call life, know that God has redeemed you and that He will restore and bring comfort to you (Isaiah 57:18). And please, do not settle for any man who is less than what God calls a man to be (Check out 1 Tim 2, 3 and Titus).

Much love to you all...

P.S. The reason for the title is because I felt as I typed this that in a sense I was taking you through my thought process on these verses....all thanks to His grace and mercy... :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Favorite Word in the Bible

I am a nerd. Most of you by now should pick up on this based on how I write and how I find the dumbest thing funny and entertaining. (On a side note I am also a 5 year old at heart so it all works out well in the end). Every nerd, whether small or great, if they are Christians, should consider adopting a word from the bible which they call their favorite. As a nerd, I have chosen mine. In fact, I chose it long ago without even knowing. The funny part is that it ends up being the center piece of my life verse.

The bible word: Bondservant. But why stop there, let's nerd it out even more. In the greek, Bondservant looks something like this: δοῦλος. The word is read doulos, and is pronounced "dew-lows". The meaning of the word I think carries a huge weight. What's important about the word is not so much the word itself, but more so what it applies to.

The definition of doulos is the following:
1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a) a slave
b) one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
2) a servant, attendant

It's root word in the greek is: deo, which means:
1) to bind tie, fasten
a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains
b) metaph.
1) Satan is said to bind a woman bent together by means of a demon, as his messenger, taking possession of the woman and preventing her from standing upright
2) to bind, put under obligation, of the law, duty etc.
a) to be bound to one, a wife, a husband
3) to forbid, prohibit, declare to be illicit

Why what is the big deal about the word? This isn't going to be a blog about how to be a servant or some giant exposition on humility, No. I want to know what you are doulos to? Ever stopped to wonder who's at the other end of your chain? What do I mean? Well as a bondservant, you are, according to definition, slave to something or someone. Additionally, based on the root word for doulos, you are bound to something. So let me ask the above question again, what has you bound?

When I was in high school, I had a monster chaplain. He was always quick to challenge the students and drive home the parts of the gospel they didn't want to hear. One day, after a really sweet message regarding the center of our universe, I had some questions regarding his sermon. See most of my life I was slave to my doubt. I had a hard time accepting the love of God. I never had peace. Most of my life I lived in fear. Fear of death, deathly fear of God and what He thought of me. This fear, this lack of peace, took me to horrible places and for years caused me a lot of torment. When I went up to him to speak to him regarding his sermon, it was to find the answer to the sleep-depriving question I had: "What does that mean? To have Christ at the center? And how can He actually Love Me? Why?"

His response was simple, and it was this response that came back to me one afternoon as I was reading through James 1:2-4 on joy. "Chris, what is at the center of your universe? Your joy will last as long as whatever is at the center of your universe." When I heard the answer, I just nodded and smiled. What did that mean? To have Christ at the center of my universe? I had heard it so many times, however, like most sunday school answers I received, that was as far as it went, hearing.

Being a bondservant goes beyond simply hearing a word. To be bound to something, to be slave to someone is to not be able to make a decision or think a thought without first considering the thing to which your bound. Think about that. There is something in all of our lives that affects or influences our decisions. What people sometimes seem to overlook is that we can be slave to more than just the TV, or slave to sports, slave to working out, no being a slave goes beyond that. You have heard of being slaves to sin, however, what about being a slave to something like say shame? What about being slave to doubt? Slave to guilt? Slave to depression?

When I was in 7th grade, a friend of mine and I went on a trip down a river in central Florida called "The Peace River." In search of the very thing the river was named after, I went along with him in hopes to find some answer or at least make some new friends. I can't remember a majority of the trip, however, I remember at one point getting one on one with the pastor and just expressing to him my issues. His response: "Well Chris, I pray that here on the peace river, you find peace, that peace that no one can explain." Wow thanks for the response. That whole trip those words stuck to me, but in the wrong way. I saw the search of peace hopeless.

Most of my life I did what most people do when they have an issue. I clouded my mind. I would keep myself busy. Fill my day with things to get my mind off of what was really bothering me. I was a slave to my doubt. Everytime I did something I knew was against God, I became a slave to my guilt, the chains became heavier. A slave to my shame. My shame, guilt, self-condemnation robbed me every day of whatever joy I could have. There were some days I couldn't enjoy a thing in that day. My mind was to busy doubting, worrying, questioning. I never had peace. No matter the place, no matter the person, no matter the relationship, no matter how in shape I was, I had no peace.

It's a cruel place to be. Stuck in a jail cell you built with your own hands, unable on some days to even move. On the outside I had it all, but inside, I was screaming. I was a slave to my doubt. So I ask you again, have you considered today what it is enslaves you? Remember that it goes beyond a person or a thing. To be a doulos to something is to forgo everything and anything else and consider that thing before anything else. In my case, before joy, before peace, I considered my shame and doubt. In my case, before going to church and reading the word, I would consider my mistakes, my guilt, and never make it into the parking lot.

When Paul used the word doulos in Gal 1:10 (which is my life verse) he used it because many thought he was fluffing up the gospel for the church of Galatia so that he could build up his own kingdom. Paul, however, in Gal 1:10 was refuting his critics by letting them know that he wasn't about winning anyone's approval except God's. Paul was so dead set on Christ that he wasn't for a second going to consider anyone else's approval. He wasn't going to even pay attention to what men thought. He was too busy about God's business to even care what someone else thought.

Let's take it a step further. In Phil 3, Paul talks about "forgetting what is behind me" which to me is to say, I am not going to even consider what mistakes I made in the past (and he did plenty bad), I am going to completely disregard what has come to pass in my stupidity. I am going to press on to Christ, my goal. For me, Paul brought to mind Romans 8:1. There is therefore NO condemnation in Christ. We have been forgiven of our sins and have been made new (Gal 2:20). We are no longer subject to the slavery of our sin, no longer subject to the slavery of our emotions, the slavery of shame, guilt, our past; we are slaves to Christ, forever forgiven and forever His.

Realize that we, as sons/daughters of God through Christ (Gal 4:7), are free and are slaves to Christ (1 Cor 7:22). What's funny is sometimes people forget that as slaves to Christ we are made free. People sometimes tend to focus on the restrictions and not on the freedom we find because of those restrictions. When Paul exhorts someone else as a bondservant, he in most cases is reminding them to be about their master's business (Col 3:22, 1 Tim 6:1, Titus 2:9).

It is hard to be about our Lord's business when we are drowning in our regret, spending to much time considering our failures and not enough time considering His sacrifice.

So what are you doulos to? For years I was a doulos to my shame, to my doubt. By the grace of God I have no reason to be now. Trust me when I say that even after having been born again, I have definitely made the biggest mistakes alive. To my shame I was still in my own mind slave to a sin I thought for months I had gotten rid of. We are never free from temptation, we are however free from the death grip of sin. "Sin has lost it's power, death has lost its sting, from the grave You've risen, victoriously" and may we never forget it...

I'll leave you with this:

Jesus went on that cross, despite how He felt. In the garden He asked God if the cup could be removed. What cup? The cup of wrath God would all at once pour on Him on the cross when He turned His back. Jesus became sin. But what does that mean? To say God didn't look on Him, how much does that weigh? Consider Jesus, the great I AM (John 8:58), He remembered His glory before He was on earth, and seeing as He was around in eternity past with and had been with God for eternity, imagine being separated from the person you had been with for eternity, to be separated from yourself. Our minds can't fathom that, and yet this is what is meant when I say Christ went to hell for us. Don't ever think that any sin weighs more than that sacrifice. When Jesus was being nailed to the cross and looked over at the centurion, I am sure He could remember forming that man in his mother's womb. If He wanted, He could have told that man how many hairs were on his head. His love will always and forever outweigh any shame, guilt, or fear that our sins might bring us. Don't ever forget the magnitude of His love. Be a doulos to Christ and Christ alone.

Isaiah 44:21 "Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."

"I have not been abandoned, no I have not been, deserted and I have not been forgotten" - Relient K (I Need You)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fragile: Handle with Care

I love biking. To me, biking gives me the best of both worlds. I can get some serious cardio in AND some serious worship as well. Ever tried singing "Glory to God" 15 minutes into a rigorious jog? I usually skip the "to", the "o" in "glory" is more like an elongated gasp for air, as if someone had punched me in the gut, and "God" leaves quickly from my mouth, so as to preserve my lungs from collapsing. Ok maybe it isn't that bad, but try singing and running one day, you'll soon discover lip singing is the way to go when jogging.

The cool thing about biking is how fast you can go. The fastest I have gone on bike was about 24 miles. After that my legs were identical to J-E-L-L-O (and were anything but aliiiiive). Riding yesterday though I was reminiscing on a time when I fell off my bike and nearly ripped up my knee. I looked down at the ground which wasn't far from my body at all and realize, as close as I was to it, should I fall, I would most definitely get hurt in some way. Either a decent scrape or a broken bone, should I hit the ground, it's going to hurt.

Did you know some people have broken bones by coughing? Some by sneezing? Ever noticed how little pressure it takes to twist an ankle? break an arm? pull a muscle? I remember playing street hockey in 6th grade and my ankle just rolling for a split second from a tiny shove. What resulted was 4 days on crutches and an ankle big enough to be a second person. Why do I say all this? To show you what I have learned time and time again and was realizing yesterday, we are all fragile.

The human femur snaps in half with just 500 lbs of weight on it. Mind you this is a lot, however, the femur is one of the strongest if not, the strongest bone in the body. I remember though, in high school a friend of mine got into a scuffle with a kid and ended up landing on and snapping this guys femur. The complications that insued were horrible. One of this guys lungs collapsed, he was in the hospital for months and all it really was was a school yard scuffle and a simple slip.

We are all fragile. All it takes is one slip, one fall, one sip, one smoke, one thought, one action and everything we worked for, could be gone in seconds. A pastor who spent his whole life preaching the gospel could forever taint his ministry with one affair. 25 years of service could disappear and be forgetten with one mishap.

I say this because I myself know it. All it took was one thought for me to drive off the church parking lot one afternoon to not return for another 3 years. All it took was one sip before I was loving the taste and feel of alcohol. One bad word was all it took before profanity was it's own language in my book and the best adjective was also the best verb and noun. It's no wonder James tells us to not give sin the light of day.

In James 1:13-16 he warns us of the slow yet devastating effect sin can have on our lives. How temptation gives birth to sin, and sin if left unkept can bring forth death. This isn't necessarily physical death, however, nonetheless, I have never known the word death to be anything positive, with the exception of the death of a christian (because they got to heaven).

Why else would Solomon tell us in Proverbs 4:23 to "guard our hearts!" Why else would Paul warn us to "work out our salvation" in Phil 2:12. Why else would Jude command us to "contend for the faith" in Jude 3. Timothy tells us to "flee youthful lusts" in 2 Tim 2:22. Paul tells us to not let sin "be named among us" in Ephesians 5:3. The warnings are many and yet so many times we fail to take them. Don't feel so bad, I know plenty of people who didn't either.

Look at Samson. He entertained one thought and it became the end of him. He lost everything. Check out Saul. He committed act after act against God until eventually he was no longer king. Judas. This guy manifested deceit in his heart so much so that he betrayed the one Person who would never leave him nor forsake him.

Why do I say all this. Because our lives can at times be fragile. Our walks can be fragile. Our minds, our emotions, all can be fragile. Because it is so important that we take heed to Matt 7:24-27 and build our house on the right foundation, on the "sure foundation" Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 28:16.

Remain in the word, meditate on it day and night (1 Tim 4:12-16). Don't for a second think you can do anything on your own, even the things you are strongest in, take heed, lest you fall (1 Cor 10:12).

That's just one sense of fragile, what about the other?

Ever felt like all it takes is one word from a friend to destroy your day? Every felt like all it takes is one bad meal to make you think your diet is gone? Ever feel as though if one thing doesn't go your way, you consider all to be lost? I know I have, in fact the above questions I ask I myself have felt. We all have. In all actuallity I didnt plan on writing this blog, and I honestly had nothing scripted or planned. God laid this on my heart and I spit it out. My prayer for you if you read this now and feel as though you're kinda fragile, know this: Trials and Tribs are meant to build us up. God is our strength, He is our refuge, every tear you cry He bottles up. He renews us every morning, and is with us at our every furnace. Christ went to the ultimate furnace of utter separation from God for us. He is and will be with us through every personal furnace, and like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will come out fine. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says we'll come out the finest of gold.

Is it going to sting, yes. Is it going to suck, yes. Will you wish you weren't there, oh yeah, just ask Job. The guy spent chapters wishing himself dead. In the end though, Job 38, God shows up and makes His ultimate power and glory known to Job. Read it today if you get a chance and find comfort knowing that the God who stops the oceans from spilling, laid the foundations of the earth, and governs all thing, is believe it or not, actively working in your life. Do as James tells us to in trials, and ask for the wisdom to know what you need to learn (James 1:5). God is faithful to answer and show you ridiculous things your brain can't even fathom (Jerm 29:13, 33:3)

For the Christian, please, take heed, stay in the word and above all else never forget who truly and deeply loves you. For the non-christian, in Christ we find true rest. No other place will you find an unconditional, always flowing, never failing, always remaining love. I pray you seek Him and if you have a question just ask me, I would love to talk with you. For the one who has fallen away, there is still hope, God isn't mad at you, sure there are consequences, but He is standing there with arms wide open. So you haven't been to church in a few, just go. Forget what the people will say, Remember what the Father already said. He is our rest.

Thanks to whoever reads this little hole in the internet I call my blog. May God move my fingers and move in my heart so that whatever is written is straight from His mouth, and may He bring a smile to your face today, because you have not been forgotten, He HAS Redeemed You (Isaiah 44:21-22).

Love you Guys :-)

One last thing...

When I got tired of running from you
I stopped right there to catch my breath
There your words they caught my ears
You said, "I miss you son. Come home"
And my sins, they watched me leave
And in my heart I so believed
The love you felt for me was more than
The love I'd wished for all this time
And when the doors were closed
I heard no I told so's
I said the words I knew you knew
Oh God, Oh God I needed you
God all this time I needed you, I needed you
- Relient K (I So Hate Consequences)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Daily Planner

Ever stopped to wonder for a second how you arrived at this exact moment? Ever taken into consideration the number of things that had to happen in such a way so as to bring about the moment you stand in right now? Even as you read this blog, as you came to know me, how did all of this come to be? I ask myself this question often as I walk through life. Recently I have been doing a whole mess of reflection. I went running this past Tuesday and while physically I was running through the streets of Miami, I was running along side God in my heart as He took me through the journey that is my life. Slowly we began going through my life from the day I learned of God to now. Granted, we didn't finish, but every moment I get that I am not distracted by this world, I reflect.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching one of my guys from Uth group give a teaching. A teaching I was familiar with because he had originally come to me for help on. Apparently, however, as is true with everything, we may start a thing, but God will ultimately drive it home. How I got to sit in his classroom with a bunch of other kids, it was God. My original intention last night was to sit in service and feed myself, however, God had it for me to serve last night, and in my service, He fed me.

The message was on the Seven Days of Creation. He felt the need to explain to these younger kids the importance of understanding what took place in Gen 1, because he had recently just finished taking a biology exam that essentially jammed evolution into his head as "fact". He, being burdened by the fallacies and falsehoods the education system is pumping into the minds of kids, decided to teach on Genesis 1. He, however, took a different approach. He began with the above question I presented to you (Ever wondered how you got here?) and then took the kids on a wild ride through the days of creation and the hands of a loving God who has big plans for our little lives.

When I stop and think how it is I came to be, it makes me chuckle. My mom and Dad met by "chance" as the world puts it. My dad was working at a major Mortgage and Banking office and my mom wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. My mom's dad, however, refused to allow his daughter to do anything outside what he wanted for her, so as a result told her it be best to learn business and housing so as to better her chances of survival in the U.S. (this is usually the mentality of a set of cuban parents who left the exile of communism and had to rebuild there lives from the ground up upon arrival in this country). Because of this notion in my grandfather's head, my mom, through a series of events, landed a job in my dad's office. My dad, who at the time wasn't exactly being the best husband to his current wife at the time, saw something in my mom. Overtime, a lot had to happen to my dad in order to make his marriage to my mom possible.

Additonally, after my parents were married, my dad, who today is the most faithful man I know (and a christian =D), was unfaithful to my mom, all of this before I was even a thought and all of this before he even knew God. My brother had just been born and my parents were pretty much at the brink of divorce. How my mom forgave my father, I won't know, I'll say God placed it in her heart and she responded, because exactly 1.5 years after my brother was born, I appeared. (Do the math, 9 months of pregnancy, means in 9 months, my parents rebuilt there marriage). Now there are plenty of details missing, however, in the end, I came to be.

My life between then and now, too much to type here, however, I am currently working with God on putting something together He put on my heart. Looking back though, I can honestly say that there is one giant blueprint from which my life has come. God throughout my entire life has been there, throwing things in my direction, talking to me, showing me, helping me, teaching me, guiding me, and ultimately, saving me. Why He invests so much of Himself into a rebellious wretch like me, I'll never know, but the proof is in the pages. The pages of my life scream God and God, whispers love in the most beautiful and majestic, goosebump giving way possible.

The pages of creation yell plan. Verse 1 declares the creation of everything with the exception of one thing, God, who always was. Verse 2 begins with the nature of God, who starts a work and is faithful to complete it as is seen in verse 31. The earth was without form and void. Would God really create a thing which is void and witout form? No. Isaiah 45:18 is clear on the fact that God does not create something to be desolate, but makes it to be inhabited. He who starts the work is faithful and will finish it (1 Thess 5:24). He put the verse there to show His nature. He see's His work through.

The days of creation speak of a Daily Planner. Each day dependent on another. God didn't create fish first, then the seas, He didn't create animals and then the land, He didn't create the birds and then the sky. God first went and prepared the place, prepared the way, prepared the work, then placed the creatures into their respective places in order that they might fulfill their purpose.

Our lives are no different. We were all created to be inhabited by Christ. Our purpose is to glorify and worship Him. We were not left to be damned to hell, God desires for all men to come to know Him (2 Peter 3:9). The day we said yes to Him was the day God said, "Let there be Light!" He then began to work in us His ultimate plan. He will continue until we reach that last day and finally come into His rest.

God has prepared for us an awesome plan which He wants to work out in our lives. Eph 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." As Christians we need to know something. We didn't just accept Christ for the sake of fire insurance. God has a huge plan for us to live out and He has it all set up ready and waiting. Are we going to choose to walk in it and trust that He knows what He is doing? Are we going to come to Him in full submission, giving up ourselves and letting Him work it?

Be about His business. Be about His work. Fall in mad crazy love with God. I mean after all, He fell in mad crazy love with You. He has big plans for us (Jer 29:11). We need to take to heart Jeremiah 29:11. We have heard it a million times I am sure, but it should never be a numb verse to us. In an older translation, the word plans is thoughts. He says "I know the thoughts I THINK toward you". Think, a verb in the present tense. He is constantly thinking good things toward us. He has a giant plan. He is always looking (2 Chron 16:9). If that doesn't make us want to fall madly in love with Him I don't know what will...On the cross He showed His love for us. Have we done anything lately to show Him our love for Him?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beyond the Suffering...

As I type this, I am running on a combined 12 hours of sleep for the past 3 days. It has been an amazing weekend. Amazing because of the Creator and Sustainer, the Logas, the Comforter and the Answer, and the people he has placed in my life. By the way, this is a side note, but what are you calling God these days? Currently I have been reading a book by Craig Groeschel titled "The Christian Atheist" and in it he challenges the reader to determine what his name for God is. What you call God says a lot about your relationship with Him and what He's doing in your life. We call Him Father and Lord in our prayers, but what do we call Him in our tears, in our smiles? Comforter? Savior? Healer? Redeemer? Doctor? Merciful? Graceful? Holy? For me, right now God is my Strength, my Energy, my Blood. He is my Sustainer. He is the driving force behind my existence through His word (Heb 1:3).

It was about two in the morning on the I-95 and everyone in my car was asleep. This morning we were heading back from a face melting concert with As I Lay Dying. Face melting because of the band, but more so, because God is everywhere and is just waiting for you to step up to bat. So here I am musing on a convo I had with a guy at the concert and all of the sudden I'm slipping into sleep. I want to go to heaven, but not asleep at the wheel, so I thought of ways to wake myself up. I proceeded to pinch myself, at first the pain was nothing, because after all, I am not in the business of hurting myself (masochism is no fun!). Realizing it wasn't working, I grabbed a few hairs on my arm and just plucked them. OUCH! But I was awake and aware. For the remainder of the trip I would sit up, move around, and in some cases just jam to a song with some head shakes to keep myself awake.

Then God showed up. Earlier that night we were all eagerly anticipating Underoath and As I Lay Dying. With my perfect spot in the House of Blues, surrounded by my friends, a place with which to lean, an AC vent above my head, and a clear view of the stage, I was ready to go! Turns out, God has a different plan. To make a long story short, I ended up giving my spot over to someone who was shorter and had never seen these guys in concert before. I don't say this to toot my horn, that's not what matters here. God put that on my heart, then God spoke to me through someone else. This person's boyfriend thanked me for my nice gesture and proceeded to tell me how nice I was and how few people do that. When he said that, all I heard was God yelling "OPPORTUNITY!" (It is a sweet deal when God makes you sensitive to opportunities for kingdom work!)

We talked for a bit about the band, turned out he was a musician and a paramedic firefighter. I talked to him for a while, telling him how I used to want to be a firefighter and what not. After a little more convo, we got on the topic of the band (who is christian) and he began telling me how he loved the lyrics and the meaning, then he mentioned something about Christianity (which to me was a giant door swinging open) and I asked. "Hey man, you a Christian?" "Naw man," he replied. From there our convo went into where he was.

As a paramedic firefighter, he is on a regular basis surrounded by pain and suffering. At one point he told me that some days he feels like "The fingers of Jesus, except that he is doing what Jesus refuses to do, help people." Pretty strong words. This guy had been raised all his life in a christian home, but in the end, just couldn't believe in a loving God who allows so much pain and suffering.

We talked for a while and while I really want to talk about what I said, that's not important. I'll do that in my next blog on I'm calling "Pain and Pleasure, one in the same..." I will tell you this much. I did tell him how awesome it is to know that this world is temporary. And I know that because of the existence of suffering. Given the complexity and majesty of this creation, there is without doubt more to life than just meaningless existence. Pain and suffering are testaments to this. How? Because I was not created to suffer and then just die. I was created to worship and glorify the Creator. And the Creator sits and watches every day as His creation is cursed and killed by the very sin they traded there open door to Him for. He sits and suffers long as He continually pours mercy on His creation, wanting for all to come to know Him (2 Pet 3:9).

If you think you hurt when pain takes place, imagine how much more pain God feels when He looks on His own creation and watches them freely choose to reject Him, despite the flood of mercy and grace He pours on them. A christian dies at 30, an atheist smoker lives to be 100. Why? I don't know why, but I know why it isn't. It isn't because He doesn't love us. He proved that on the cross. And think about the above scenario for a second. The christian dies at 30, HE GOES TO HEAVEN! LUCKY HIM! He also misses out on bringing more to Christ (it is a sweet tug of war, just ask Paul [Phil 1:21-24]. The atheist, well seeing as God is in control, God is giving that atheist 100 years of mercy. Does he deserve it? I don't know, I am not God. Did I deserve the 24 years God gave me before I came into a real relationship with Him? No, in fact I haven't deserved an ounce of air from the day I was born. He is giving the atheist 100 years to repent. I'm not God so I can't say that this is the exact reason, however, it is one of many. Let's not be so quick to think God is a bad guy. He isn't. He is without shadow of turning (James 1:17).

Ultimately, while man has free will to do as he wants, God will always use whatever man chooses to glorify Himself. He will always use mans decisions for His good pleasure (Prov 16:3,4,9), and because God is God, rest assured, He is righteouss (Psalm 7:11[I like how NIV puts it]) and He KNOWS BEST! (Isaiah 55:8)

Suffering is evidence to the existence of God and of Heaven. Suffering is our wake up call. It screams the need for a savior, it preaches the message of salvation. The very fact suffering exists means that the opposite of it it exists as well. The opposite of it can only be found in One Place, in One Person...will you still suffer, yes you will, but you won't suffer from a hopeless idea of meaninglessness in life, you will have Hope.

Shadows truly are security. In them we know that there is light, because we see it all around us while we stand in the darkest of shadows. Know that the shadow in which you stand today is not God's, know that today You can stand in His light, with The Light, because OF the Light. How many times does God have to pinch us before we finally wake up?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

All in the name of Love...

Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

The Issue: Doesn't this verse speak of God's fear of man? God was threatened by man, so much so that He limited Him so that man could never be as God.

On the surface some people might take the above verse and use it to support the notion that God can't be real because He is contradictory. Additionally, people will say that God is afraid of man. They'll say that God was threatened by man when man ate of the tree of knowledge because as it says in the verse, "the man has become like one of Us." In a sense, God isn't being fair, He is limiting man.....or is He?

Let me ask you, what is God saying? Before we continue I think it's important for us as Christians to really consider where we stand with God. I am a huge proponent of you coming to the conclusion on your own. While insight from others is awesome, never neglect the need to first read the verse on your own and honestly ask yourself how it speaks to you. If you don't understand, ask the Spirit to reveal it to you. Trust me, the Holy Spirit is in the business of revealing Scripture to us (John 16:13), we just have to be willing to seek and get honest with God. Don't ever think you can hide your emotions or doubts from God, the bible is very clear on God's omniscience and Jesus makes it clear to us that anything and everything that is concealed will be revealed in the end (Matt 10:26). Proverbs 15:11 "Hell and Destruction are before the LORD; so how much more the hearts of the sons of man" Meaning, God sees right into hell and He knows what is going on down their, how much more then can He see through the hearts of men?

I know the above is a tangent, however, it is so important that we get honest with God. The man in Mark 9:24 got real honest with Jesus, and because he was honest, the end result was Jesus shaking his life up! The Spirit will reveal things to you (Rom 8:26-27), check out the beautiful picture in Mark 4:34. If the above verse troubles you, get alone with God and pray. We are all called to know the word of truth so that we can properly divide truth (2 Tim 2:15).

Getting back to topic, let's establish a few things about the tough stuff before we go on. One of the things I always tell people is to focus on the absolutes. Absolutes? Yeah, those things which are clear cut and black&white. The clear cut helps us decipher the gray parts of scripture. The above verse would be considered gray; so to better understand it we need to properly put it all into context, understand the scene, compare it to the nature of God, and consider that the verse is 1 of 31,173 verses. Never consider one verse alone, always compare scripture to scripture, else you'll do things like say God creates evil, or say Jesus isn't God.

Let's first establish some absolutes consistent with what Scripture says of God, then we'll see what else is happening, then tackle the issues and get rocked by the Spirit of God.

He is:

1. The beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6, Rev 22:13, Isaiah 48:12, John 1:1)
2. The One and Only (Isaiah 44:8, Deut 4:35, 1 Sam 2:2, Isaiah 45:5)
3. The Creator of all Things (Col 1:16-17, Heb 3:4, John 1:1-3, Isaiah 44:24-28, Isaiah 45:11-13)
4. The Only One who is to be feared (Isaiah 8:13, Luke 12:4, Matt 10:28)
5. Love (2 Cor 13:11, Col 1:13, The Bible)
6. Loaded with mercy that is made new everyday (Lam 3:22-24, Exodus 34:6, Isaiah 33:2, Isaiah 55:7)
7. God is a just Judge (Psalm 7:11, Isaiah 30:18, James 1:17, Isaiah 61:8, 1 John 1:9)

These are just a few of the many absolutes of God that I think will help us in figuring this whole thing out. Now stop. I really want you to read through each verse listed (Be a Berean Acts 17:11!) and see for yourself. Don't just go on my word. Go to the Word of God and see it for yourself. I really want you to learn, as I myself am learning, to not just go with what man says, but to go with what God says. It helps you grow and it keeps me accountable. Not to mention when the bombs start dropping you'll be ready!

Let's now set the scene to get some context. Mankind has just sinned against God by eating of the tree of knowledge. The curse has just been put onto the world and mankind is still in the garden. After mankind was cursed and clothed by God, God said to Himself that man had "become like one of Us" (we'll save the "Us" discussion for another blog, but yes, this is the trinity). What does God mean when He says like one of Us? Read on, it says "to know good and evil." After this, God puts mankind outside of the garden, lest he "put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."

Now that we have other scripture to help and some context, let's get to it! So is God afraid of man? Not at all, in fact according to Luke 12:4, the only One we should fear is the One who can destroy the soul of man, that would be God. Seeing as God can do that, it is impossible for Him to fear the very Creation He Himself (because Jesus was speaking in Luke 12:4) can destroy with a word (see Rev is siiiiick!). It is His word that holds us together (Heb 1:3) not to mention that if God is the One and Only, He is the Creator of all things and is the Alpha and Omega, how could someone that majestic, that glorious, that powerful, the Creator of all things good, all things holy, all things just, all things pure, be in any way, shape or form subject to fear? Given His character and nature, it would be foolish to make such a comment. Let me also add this. Someone reading this might say "Well that is according to the bible, and how narrow-minded to use the bible alone to support arguments about the bible." To you I say this with as much love as possible: If I want to learn about Columbus, I won't look in a cook book to learn of his voyage. I'll look at a book written by witnesses of the voyage, seeing as I wasn't there to see him sail, or better yet, a book written by Columbus himself. Seeing as God wrote the bible (2 Tim 3:16, Psalm 138:2, Heb 3:7, 2 Peter 1:16-21, 1 Cor 15:3-4, Heb 4:12-13)

What did God mean when He said "man has become like one of Us?" Well, God, being the all knowing God He is, knows what good and evil are. The second man sinned, the knowledge of good and evil entered into the world. In a sense then, man became like God, knowing good and evil. The problem is, where God can do no evil (James 1:13-17, Psalm 7:11) man can. Additionally, keep something in mind, because God knows good and evil, and because God is who He is, He is the ultimate judge. He is the moral lawgiver who has given us the law (Exodus 33-34), His law, to show us how desperately we need forgiveness.

Because God is a just judge, He has to judge good and evil. Because man now knew good and evil, He therefore must judge man. Man must therefore die in order that He might judge man (and because death was in the curse). But where does God's love come in on all this? Check this out. He says something so important in verse 22, to understand it, shatters me. Man is now sinning. Should man eat of the tree of life (which we know from Rev 22:2 has serious healing powers) he would live forever. Should man live forever at this point, man would live forever in sin, something God won't have. Why? Because He loves us. Because sin separates us from God, and if man were to live eternally in sin in the garden, man would be separated from God, and we would never be able to come into that perfect relationship with Him ( is going to be awesome!)

God loves us so much and has so much mercy that not only did He take us out of the garden instead of killing us all (serious mercy), He provided for mankind by sacrificing an animal to clothe man (verse 21 and the rest of the bible) and He ultimately provided for man's eternal salvation through the sacrifice of His Only Son. Don't you see? God poured out His love. Mankind was walking in the presence of God and yet we still sinned. Yet, His saving grace is so much greater than the slavery of sin. His love abounds so much more than our sin ever will.

He is greater than he who is in the world. He conquered the power of sin and the sting of death (Hebrews 2:14-16). Talk about unending love. In a sense, death is nothing more than a butler, as Paul put it, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." Not to look lightly on death, but let's be realistic, knowing we have salvation in Christ, death really does lose its sting. Rather than wipe us out, He redeems us, He restores us. God is all about redeeming. Why does God do that for wretched man, I don't know, but I'll take it with tears of joy in my eyes and a heart so melted by this love that to think about it, melts my mind and causes me to want to do nothing but worship Him. I would kiss His feet for eternity given the opportunity (first think I'm doing when I get to heaven...Kiss His feet for a few eternities).

So in all this, why would God allow man to sin. I mean, being the all powerful God He is, He could have stopped us. Yeah He could have, but where is the love in that. Know something, God wasn't absent when man was tempted, nor was He oblivious to what was going on. He knew the whole time. He didn't stop us because He wanted us to have something called free-will. That thing that allows us to CHOOSE who we will serve. God will not force Himself on us, He wants a relationship. If we didn't have the choice to love Him, we would all be robots. How much more love is that? That God would be so long suffering, that He would give us free will, knowing some aren't going to choose Him, having to deal with years of grievance until that day that we choose Him. How much crazy love do you have to have to do that? How amazing is that?!?!?! That God would suffer long just to have a one on one with each and everyone of us that chooses. He wants a one on one with everyone (2 Peter 3:9). He is sooooo gooood!

When you marry someone, you first build a relationship with them so that upon marriage, you can take your relationship to the next level. You choose to love them. You choose to spend time with them. You make them a priority. You make time for them. You put others things away or to the side or completely off so that you can be with them. All this is a choice. The same is true with God. He wants a relationship with us. He wants to walk and talk with us. To guide us and use us for His glory. He wants us to have a radical, on fire, no holds bar relationship with Him. He is interested in our every thought, our every decision, the very hairs on our head He knows by name. He knew us before we were born.

This life is short, a vapor as James puts it, this is not where we will remain. We are pilgrims. As John Stott puts it, life is a pilgrimage between "two states of nakedness" (See Job 1:21). Pilgrims, by definition are foreigners. In Christ, we are foreigners to this world, in it but not of it. Don't ever live for the temporary, live for the eternal joy that is Christ. Your joy will last only as long as the thing in which it is derived. Base it on the temporary, and it will be just that, temporary. Base it on Christ, prepare for the flood of love and grace He WILL pour out on you.

God is so good to us, more than we will ever know. We will never amount to the kind of people that He deserves to worship Him (Relient K, Getting into You), however, He clothes us with the righteousness of Christ so that when He sees us, He doesn't see our sin, He sees His Son, who gave His life as a ransom for many. Since the beginning, God has been in the business of mercy, love and grace. He has always had a plan for us. He didn't have to create you or me, but He did. Your every breath should be spent worshiping Him in everything you do. It melts my heart to know that the God of the universe is taking time right now to love on me and hold me in His arms. If that isn't enough to move you to an utter abandonment of yourself and a full surrender to Him, then I don't know what will. He redeemed you for eternity, He brought you out of Egypt, the only thing keeping you from the Promised Land is you...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I got an image in my head this weekend while sitting at home surrounded by a large group of friends. As I looked around my house and saw the 40+ people in my home, I had to retract myself for 5 minutes in my room. In those 5 minutes I just sat and almost cried. Eight months ago I remember asking God to shake my life, to provide for me the people He wanted me to have. I took a step in faith and let go of friendships and relationships that had gone on my entire life and told God to fill the gap with whatever He had in mind. He did...then He provided for me people to both hold me and encourage sitting there in my room, this came to mind...

The man had grown up hearing the truth his entire life. He had been educated in it, brought up to walk in it, adhered to it and in some instances even partook in public displays of it, but it never took root. There was always an uneasy lack of authenticity that seemed to hold him back. Over time he dwelled more on this than he did the thing which need to take root. Instead, this unauthentic feeling took root, here began the problem.

Many times he would try to do the thing which he knew was right, however, always seemed to be swallowed whole by the things which beckoned his attention. The lights were flashing as he walked by, the people who knew him well would scream his name in attention, but he continued on, looking only to those things which brought that immediate sense of self-worth. He knew what he had to say to get where he needed to go. He had all the knowledge some would kill to hear, however, he put it to no use. His foundation was there, but he never built the house on it.

Aimlessly he sought after the things which brought the pleasure this world told tall tales of. Breathlessly he persued that which would bring him fortune, success, and fame. He had all the knowledge, but did little to use it. She called his name, and he answered, he passed him a drink and he sipped, they told him to lie and he would, He told him to stop and he refused. This went on for years. Piece by piece his morality crumbled, bit by bit his reason faded. He became obsessed with having it all, with having the answer, with having the right. In his mind, he had the right to whatever he pleased. He had heard of the word hubris once in his life, however, saw it as a vice which only the most foolish of men were subject to. He was far better than them, and his humility knew no bounds, funny how the very thing which he claimed to abstain from was the very thing he was.

The years passed on and his identity faded. He had lost himself. He was everyone. In his mind he had to please everyone, whether it was through word or deed, he had to appeas whoever was before him. Alive on the outside, but dead within, he was a white washed tomb. It came to a point where he found himself in the house of mourning. No one was their to wish him good bye, though plenty filled the room in his mind he was alone. While many knew his name, few knew his life and fewer knew his love. He sat and looked on as the service passed by. Words were said, tears were shed, lives moved on. His name would be forgotten in days to come.

There he lay alone in his grave, still alive. Filled up with knowledge but still with no use. He cried out in pain and in fear as they lowered his bed, he squirmed and he pushed as they lay him to rest. It came to a point where he realized it was by his own hands he was lost, by his own deception he was dead. In his silence and solitude he uttered His name. He answered. The box was flung open, a hand stretched out and voice uttered words saying, "I have blotted out your transgressions, return to me for I have redeemed you." Quickly he fired out of his grave, realizing it was not yet time. The hand grabbed him and took him to a familiar place....

Eight months later, here he stands, a man redeemed and reborn. Surrounded by a family of people filled with love, and for the first time in his life, he thinks, people might actually know of his love, because his love, is the same love which Someone first showed him, the night he was resurrected.

I say it a million times, and I'll say it a million more, God is way to good to me. We all will acknowledge as Christians that He is in control of everything, but do we really know what that means? Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible, now check out Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Notice that last part of verse 17, in Him all things are constant. Meaning, Christ holds it together by His own will. Per Heb 11:3, we cannot see the things which hold together this universe, this planet, this body, however, per Col 1:17, we know that in Christ all things are held together. You realize then that the ONLY reason you are even standing and you even exist right now is BECAUSE of Christ. The only reason you haven't yet died is because of Christ.

That fact, in it of itself speaks volumes of God's mercies. When He says they are new every morning (Lam 3:22-24) they really are. Every morning you wake up and realize another day of life, is one more morning where God, by His mercy and grace, has allowed us another day. What we do with that day is our choice. Knowing what He did for us and knowing the magnitude of His sacrifice, shouldn't we live our lives in constant surrender and sacrifice to Him? We need to live a Romans 12:1-5 life. It is no easy thing, however, with Him and Him alone, we can. He is taking care of the existence part and the redemption part for us, why can't we take care of the work out salvation part? He has worked so much into us, love being the greatest of them all, what are we waiting for?

Take it from a man who was once truly dead, despite the knowledge of truth. It is time to experience God first hand, and not just know about Him. Be about the God of your blessings, not the blessings of your God. Be about the God of the word, don't just know the word of God. Judas did that, and at first he was hanging out with Jesus, then he was just plain hanging...