One of Us

“What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us?

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make His way home?”

“One of Us”- Joan Osbourne

So the four lines at the top of the blog are from a song called “One of Us” written by Eric Bazilian and released by an unknown singer named Joan Osbourne in 1995. I wrestled with the song for a whole, nearly sleepless night a few days ago, because it really is something that Christians take for granted. Yet, so much of the world struggles with this ideal of God being relatable to them, and whether or not they can have a personal relationship with God.

Personally, I heard the song because it was covered by Glee in an October 2010 episode. Now, stay with me here. While many of you may hate or be in support of Glee, what the show was known for was tackling the tough issues of society. In this episode, a Glee club member’s father has a heart attack, and the episode is about how the different members of the club try to help that character deal with the event based on their religious beliefs. Ryan Murphy (Glee creator) hoped to create a balanced view of religion that ensured that there was an equality between pro and anti-religious ideas presented. The episode received critical acclaim by achieving that. This song was the end of the episode.

Personally, I haven’t had many times that I pondered the question, “What if God was one of us?” I grew up in a Christian home and learned about God from an early age. I was blessed to have great parents who helped me mature in my faith. The Bible clearly explains that Jesus Christ came down to the earth and lived in the same world with the same temptations, successes, failures etc. that we have to go through. Yet, lately, I’ve been trying to understand how people who do not believe in God view him. I feel like this view is one that Christians often overlook. In order to reach those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ, we have to be able to connect with them where they are. Whether unbeliever or believer, I believe that this question of whether God was one of us is something really important when it comes to the faith known as Christianity. This song really gets down to the mark.

“What if God was… just a slob like one of us”. It truly recreates the deep yearning of the human condition that we all feel for a savior. The brokenness and emptiness of this world truly breaks my heart. No matter how much society and the world tries to bury it, people know deep inside that there is something more to this world than what is on the surface. Yet, to these people, God is a larger than legend myth legend. The mosaic that the human population have created of God is absolutely brilliant, but it makes Him seem inaccessible to the population. How many times in history have people sat crying in the alley, park, bedroom, back of the bus etc. and wondered if God hears them? How many times do these people just wish that God walked the earth and would walk up to them and solve all their problems? Is that you?

Now, for those who came from the same background that I have, here’s the question. Can you imagine being in this position? Left in a place where you are not sure if God can relate to you? Here’s the kicker… we all have. Whether Christian or non-Christian we have all at some point seen God as that huge holy figure that we can’t relate to. We all imagine, “What if God was… just a stranger on a bus”. Even though we’ve heard the stories, we still oftentimes wonder… was Jesus really like all of us?

Our culture attempts to answer this question with different pieces of literature and entertainment. One T.V. series that I watch is Supernatural, and the basic premise of the show is that there are two brothers (Sam and Dean Winchester) who understand the “supernatural” of the world. They interact with (and often kill) the things that human culture have put in this “supernatural” box. Ghosts, Vampires, Wendigos, Djinns, Demons and Angels. In later seasons (Season 11 starts soon, so excited!) they heavily deal with Demons and Angels. In this world, God has been “missing” for longer than almost anyone can remember. While many characters voice their beliefs about God (some believe him dead, uncaring, a simple story etc.) the most striking one is from an angel named Castiel.

Castiel is the main protagonist aside from the Winchester brothers (and my favorite character!). In earlier seasons Castiel is seen struggling with this idea of who God is and what he means to Castiel. He often calls out to God, begging him to return to the world and fix it. However, Castiel’s faith begins to disappear as God continues to “not show up” despite horrible tragedies rocking the world. He doesn’t understand why God isn’t, “Trying to make his way home.” Questions run through his mind constantly. Are the stories that Castiel heard really true? Did God just make this creation just to leave it in the dust? What if God is just another really powerful angel who decided to dump the world and go relax somewhere else in the universe? These are the powerful questions that Castiel ponders, yet, are a reflection on how many people who do not have a faith in Jesus Christ think about God and Christianity. Castiel is stuck between fully embracing free will, and believing that God will come back and control the heavenly realm. This depiction of Castiel fully describes so many people in the world. It is one of the underappreciated storylines in the Supernatural saga, but one that I very much appreciate for its honest portrayal of the human condition.

The beautiful thing is that God truly was one of us. He lived with people, ate with sinners, healed people, and died as a common criminal. He felt all the same feelings that we do. The surrounding environment is obviously different because as pictures clearly show us Jesus was the only white man in an early A.D. Jerusalem (catch the humor?), and we live in the 2000s. For real though, he had the same human experience that we do, and can relate to us through our troubles. Honestly, even as a long-time Christian, it is still hard to grasp how the Almighty God understands the way I feel. It’s absolutely breathtaking, but impossible to fully grasp.

There is so much heartbreak in the world, and so many people that need to hear about God. Not the religion called Christianity. They need to hear about the God that can fill that large hole in their heart. They need to hear about the Father that is always there and listening to their every single word. They need to hear about the Jesus Christ who walked this earth, and can relate to their struggles. This is the true goal of those who call themselves Christians. Not to build churches. Not to isolate themselves from the world. Not to go to church once a week and to forget about it. This is the real purpose of Christianity. To bring people closer to the living God who is the only thing that can fill that void in the hearts of billions of people who cry out for help in this world.

P.S. Can’t believe I’m already over 1/4 through my last semester of college! Life is really busy but I’m able to hang out with old friends, make new ones, and also still finish my schoolwork in between. Life is awesome!

Why Do We Fall?

This is, in my opinion, the most famous quote from the Batman trilogy. I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, but here it is in its complete form when Bruce Wayne and Alfred had just escaped Wayne’s burning house in Batman Begins. “Why do we fall sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” That is from Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler. There has always been something in us as human beings that makes us wonder how to bounce back from rough times and tough results. In Batman, Alfred points out that we can do it on our own as long as we try hard enough, and sure enough Batman always does just enough to succeed. However, I feel like that Batman doesn’t tell the whole story. This is what I believe: I believe that when we fall down, we can’t pick ourselves up by our own power. We need the help of our family, friends, and most importantly God. Even Batman needed help from those like Gordon, Alfred, and Catwoman… but with that said, he is still the best superhero ever. PLEASE DON’T STOP READING if you disagree with my selection. I’m just putting it out there haha! In reality though, we can’t do everything ourselves, and we truly need the help of God in order to help us be able to truly pick ourselves up. I’m going to divide it into a few different categories.

First, how do we fall? Well, most of the time that we fall it is because we think that we can do everything by our self, and we quickly find out that we can’t do it. This stems from the sin nature that we have. Our sin nature (and ironically our culture) tells us we can do whatever we want, and that there will be no consequences. First of all, I think we all know that there are consequences to our actions no matter what society tells us. There’s no questioning that. Secondly, we aren’t capable of making everything go according to our plan. A lot of times people act like they have it all together, just because we’ve set up this society where failing is looked at as bad. The problem is that instead of hiding our insecurities and problems from each other, we need to share them with each other. Now, I’m not telling you to go stand in front of a ton of people, and tell them all your problems. What I’m telling you is find a few of your best friends/family and tell them what you’re dealing with. This is because we fall when we are alone. Christian loners don’t stay Christian loners for that long. They also don’t stay Christians for that long. James 3:2 says,

“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”

Obviously, none of us are perfect… so the conclusion is that we truly need others. There is no substitution for growing with other Christians, and helping with each other’s highs and lows. That begs another question…

How do we learn to pick ourselves up? The obvious answer would be that after the fall we can look back and see everything that we have done; then simply don’t repeat it. However, I would say we learn to pick ourselves up through praying to God and studying his word. If God knows everything about you, knows what is best for you in every way… then you should be praying to him. If you are in love with somebody, do you spend time with them? Absolutely. It’s the same way with God; you should spend time with him in prayer and reading your Bible. A side-effect of this is that we start to see more and more of what God sees. We see where we are really failing, we see where we are doing well… but most importantly we see what God has made us to do. That leads to the last step…

How do we actually pick ourselves up? We pick ourselves up by seeing the path that God has put ahead of us, and running straight toward it. Don’t look back, to the left or the right… go straight ahead. When we realize what we’ve done in the past (when we’ve fallen) is nothing in comparison to where we’re going that’s when we are where we need to be. We also realize that we need other people to get there, and that God has put people in our life for a reason. We pick ourselves up by bonding with them in the community of Christ, and all working together for his glory. We rely on the amazing grace of God to help us get through whatever we need to get through. Philippians 4:13,

“ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Such good words. We always need to remember, we don’t have to rely on our strength to do things. God will give us the strength to conquer any challenges that come our way, and he will put the right people into our life in order to fulfill his great plan.

What happened to Batman? Well, after his house got burned down did he dwell on what had happened? No, he saw the destiny that was beckoning him to save Gotham City, and he went straight toward it. No matter what happened, he knew his calling was to save the city from harm and he stuck with it. That is how you pick yourself up… forget all the rough times you’ve been through, see the path God has for you, and stick to that path!

Some Pointers on Life

So I decided I was going to take some of my best paragraphs in my posts about life and meld them together. I feel like I’ve gotten some wisdom (and it’s been like a mini time machine) from looking at these, and I really feel like God has put this on my heart to share them.

Don’t be afraid of the future because it is whatever God has planned for you! Some people are afraid of messing up before they even get started… you just need to trust God. Pray to him before you do anything and commit all the things that you do into his hand. I know the future can be intimidating, sometimes the numbers just don’t add up for money in college or it’s the reality of having to get a real job. Put that behind you because it really doesn’t matter. God has the final plan and if it means the path seems unsure to you then that’s God’s way of getting you to trust him more. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled Psalm 17:5

Basically, if you know in your heart that the Holy Spirit is telling you to go one way, GO THAT WAY!! There are so many things that we don’t feel like giving up. One of the hardest things I had to do was give up playing high school soccer this spring. I had been training harder than anyone else trying out for the team and felt like I was hitting my stride at just the perfect time. About two weeks before the tryouts God clearly told me you’re not playing high school soccer. I will admit, I wasted a few nights of my life trying to argue with God. It didn’t work haha. Now, a month later, I know (for one) my grades would’ve slipped pretty far down if I had been playing soccer the last month or so plus I feel like God has something he wants me to do with the spare time I now have. Can’t wait to see what it is! That whole example just is a personal example of how I realized that the direction of my life needed to be changed according to God’s plans. Like I said before, please don’t think I’m setting myself up as a perfect Christian. I have had many times where I haven’t done what God said and it’s come back to bite me. So I’ve had experience on both sides of the coin. Just remember God is out there and he CARES about you SO much. No one in the universe wants you to be in a personal relationship with him more than God does and no one is more crazy in love with you than Him! Always remember God is in complete control of the situation and He wants what is best for you.

Also, I’ve figured out that no matter what you try to fill your life up with if it’s not God it doesn’t work. Sports, school, girls, success, work, drugs (haven’t done that haha) … whatever it is you always have a hole in your soul. I’m not saying that these things aren’t good because they are sometimes wonderful (cept’ drugs lol. They aren’t good for you!) but you just have to keep God at the forefront. Because you have to remember, he gave you everything that you have and everything you will EVER need… pretty sure He should be #1 in anybody’s book! There is just a point where you have to realize that and wake up. You know, I’ve played a lot of soccer and have been around guys that have the ability to go pro… but I’ve seen that they aren’t satisfied. All that happens is that they keep pushing and pushing for better results because they can’t feel satisfied with what they’ve done. I’ve known absolutely brilliant people in school that I can tell they just aren’t filled. Even with all their success and their 4.0’s and everything else they still don’t feel at peace… they just keep doing it because it is what people expect of them. I’ve never really struggled with any of these except sports. I used to play 3 sports and I literally devoted my life to playing them. All I did was finish school in the morning/afternoon and then off to soccer, basketball, or baseball practice. Oftentimes the sports overlapped and I would end up training for one sport while the end of the season was happening in another sport. My whole weekend would be preparing and playing whatever game I had to do that weekend. Any spare time I had would be spent going to the middle-school to practice soccer by myself or practicing baseball with my dad at the elementary school. The only thing I didn’t do was get upset at losing. I never really dwelled on anything… it was just “that’s the result and when do we play next?” I mean there were still a few moments I dwelled on… a few that I still do. The biggest one was when I screwed up my club team’s undefeated season in the last game a few years ago. We were losing 1-0 with about six minutes to go and I was on a breakaway. Only the keeper to beat… and I kicked the ball right into his chest and into his hands :/ still can’t believe that one. Sorry, that was off track! My point is that I was consumed by sports completely. I honestly cared about nothing else. I didn’t care about school; how I was acting, God etc. it was just playing sports. It was my life. I’ve learned that lesson. For those who know me I still love soccer TREMENDOUSLY but I’ve made sure that it is not my life focus. Just do everything for God because he was the one who gave you the situation and the talent and the ability. I succeed in life with the gifts in life that he has given me and I know it makes him proud. When I take the soccer field I feel him right beside me. Whether I win or lose soccer games I always remember to praise him or when I score a goal or when I make a brilliant defensive play (this happens frequently ;)). For the few people who have seen my goal celebration it always starts with hands pointed up in the air. Because I REALLY feel God’s pleasure at those points since I’m using the natural ability he has given me to bring glory to him  So to wrap this section up… stuff in life is okay. Sometimes it’s simply amazing  Just remember to keep God firmly above all else and you’ll be right where you want to be!!!

Also, with people I’ve learned you just have to forgive and forget. Yes, I know sometimes the people you forgive still treat you the same way… but don’t hold on to grudges… all the grudges do is bring you down. If a lot of people had the big picture and realized how much grudges were hurting them they would let them go. People can lie to you, act fake around you, gossip behind your back, throw your friendship down the drain, hurt your heart, gang up on you or whatever else but remember that a majority of the time they are only doing it to boost their own self-esteem. I’ve been figuring this out the last few months. So it’s not a shot at you as much as them trying to be in complete control of a situation and making themselves feel better. Sometimes people do take a purposeful crack at you because they hate you or whatever but just stay strong. Those people want to see you fall and get upset. The greatest thing you can do when somebody does that is to just keep going like nothing ever happened because that will show them that their insults aren’t working and they most likely will stop. If a friendship doesn’t work out maybe that was God putting somebody in your life for a season in order to accomplish something in your life. All in all though… you seriously have to let it all go. Don’t let something become such a huge distraction and sideshow that it ruins the rest of your life and don’t let little distractions and sideshows ruin your life either! Just forgive the person and forget… live life like it never happened. If you make a mistake… make it right! We’re all human and make mistakes so just realize that.

                How do you live a life that shows who God is? By sticking to the standards that are in his word no matter what happens to you. Everywhere I go: school, work, sports, boy scouts etc. I strain to praise him every way I can. Don’t be discouraged if you think that nothing is happening because you don’t know what goes on inside of a person. I am an Eagle Scout (top rank in Boy Scouts, only 4% of Boy Scouts reach it) but I’ve also been the Chaplain Aide of my troop. There certainly much more glamorous positions in our troop, but when I reached a high enough rank to have a leadership position God just said be the Chaplain Aide and I have been for just over three years now. To be honest, I don’t really do much in my position lol. I just glorify God and occasionally have conversations with other scouts in my troop. Over the last three years I’ve had 3 or 4 very serious conversations about Christianity with unbelievers and while they haven’t become come to him I know it has affected them. Another one is my soccer team. I had been playing with one guy for five years and I never knew he thought anything different of me until our last team party about a month ago. It was our last year of club soccer so our coach had a paper with each player’s name on the top and each player wrote what they thought about that person. My teammate wrote “… I have also respected how you control yourself and never swear.” I honestly thought I had absolutely no effect on this guy until I read that  I had a few other guys say that they appreciated the way I acted. I really didn’t know until the end how many doors God had opened up for me to affect these player’s lives. I didn’t do anything, don’t think that haha. All I did was submit to God in obedience and he made everything happen  Just don’t be afraid to act different, always remember who you live for and that nothing matters besides him.

This is a nice little poem they read at my high school graduation:

“I pray that you will wake each morning and search for God throughout your day.
That you will meet the challenges life tosses your way with prayer and confidence.
That the toys and noise of this world will not reflect in your eyes.
That life will be an adventure with Christ; not too predictable or overly planned.
That you will make time to be available to Him.

I pray that when you see a need you will do your best to meet it.
When you see fear you will give comfort.
When you see anger you will respond with patience.
When you see injustice you will defend.
When you see a life without Christ you will make an introduction.

I pray that when you are in need you will go to Him and graciously accept the help He sends.
When you are afraid you will curl up in His loving arms.
When you are angry you will look at the situation through His eyes.
When you are treated unfairly you will seek His comfort and guidance.

I wish you joy with just enough discomfort so you will appreciate the joy.
I wish you prosperity with just enough struggle to make you responsible and generous.
I wish you peace but not enough to make you complacent.

Embrace the life He gives you,
Always seek His face,
Always hope, always dream,
Work hard, pray hard
Serve often, laugh often

And love unconditionally…
As He has always loved you.”

                To wrap this up, just don’t hold ANYTHING back. Just let God rush through your soul and don’t try to stop him. Imagine how refreshing it is to stand at the very bottom of a calm waterfall and just feel the water slowly rolling down your back. The sun is shining and you feel a little warm, but the water is making you feel at peace. That’s how God is, except that he is always there. He is a moving waterfall (I know this sounds funky but stick with me lol) that will follow you wherever you go if you let him. You may not always think he is there, but that’s because you refuse to let him be an active part of your life. Give him everything… your dreams, your life, your future, your sports, jobs, school etc. he can make everything in your life work together for the advancement of his kingdom. Never let go of his hand because he is the best Father you can ever imagine. He’ll lead you wherever you need to go as long as you glorify him with every single second of your life and give it all to him

I hope this all was a blessing to you. I keep getting older and the more I look at life the more I realize I can’t control it. That’s okay though, because it’s not my job to control it. My job is to trust in the Lord, obey him, and follow him. Life gets a little easier when I live to forgive and forget, to let go of my fears, and just to live life in a mostly carefree manner. I’m excited to see what God has in store, and I’m not running from it. I’m running straight into it 🙂

Benefits Of Being “Single”

So something that is really pushed in today’s society is this idea that being in a relationship is better than being single. If you’re single, people wonder why, and a lot will say that you have something wrong with you. We live in a world where updating your status to “in a relationship” is viewed as the best thing that could ever happen to you, and that it is so great you aren’t a single anymore. First of all, to clarify, I’m totally not bashing couples here. I know a bunch of great couples and I’m really happy for those who are in relationships. You guys have done well! What I’m going to be presenting is two areas of where it is a benefit to be happily single, and that it’s totally an okay thing despite society telling you it’s not. Not an in-depth look, but just a general look that I hope gets people’s minds going.

Spiritual Growth

To be very honest, my greatest moments of spiritual growth have been when I’m single, and that is the opinion of quite a few people. This is because when you are single you are obviously only responsible for you, yourself and you. You are able to focus on your own spiritual growth because you don’t have the burden of having to help your significant other (not a bad burden, you just don’t have it as a single). Yes, you do still grow spiritually with the people around you whether you are single or not, but the degree you are growing with them compared to growing with your significant other is drastically different. I know that the greatest moments in my life are the ones where I am single and I can pursue God with all of my heart everyday. In Corinthians 7:32-35 it says,

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.  I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Essentially, this scripture is saying that if you are a single, you can be completely devoted to God. Once again, Paul points out that either path isn’t wrong, there are benefits to both paths. God should always be on top of your life at ALL times, but if you are single it is fairly certain that you will be more devoted to God and what he is trying to do in you. When you are in a relationship, you will try to please your significant other right? There will be days where God will get squeezed out, and that time slot will be filled spending time as a couple. It is just natural that you will want to do whatever makes your significant other happy, and there is nothing wrong with that; however, it hinders your ability to spread the gospel. You won’t have that undivided attention toward God and that is one thing that you can have as a single.

You don’t rush into a relationship

If you are single what is the first thing a lot of people say? A lot of times they will say something like this, “You’re single? Well, I know somebody who you’d really work well with…” The singles out there know that feeling… when you feel you’re getting pushed to get together with someone. I’m sure we’ve all seen it happen before. Two people feel socially awkward as singles, and they think they will work together with someone so they get together with them. Then, over time, they realize that perhaps they don’t mesh quite as well as they thought. They start having problems and before you know it they break up with each other. Then (for a lot of people) they try it again… and again… and again. They keep telling themselves if I jump into this relationship then everything will be okay. In our society, we look at a couple and think that they are completely fine. If you are in a relationship people always say that hey, they have it pretty good. There is this false image that if you are in a relationship then the sky will be blue, and that you get to ride unicorns. Well, maybe not unicorns. You get the picture though. If you are single, you aren’t in the cycle that quite a few other people are in! So, you may ask (or may not because you know you shouldn’t question my awesomeness) is the question, “Well Caleb, that was a really great speech you just told me. So what is exactly leading up to?” My answer to you is that if you are happy being a single, you won’t rush into a relationship. You will take more time to get to know the person, more time to pray to God about it, and more time to talk to your friends about it. I personally know this approach works out well. I can honestly say I’m happy being single. I am a pretty carefree person in the first place as most of you know haha, but being single is something I am totally fine with. I am in a place where I know that I can take my time and not be rushed into a relationship. I’m going to take my time and at some point it will happen. Probably here at my college because it is pretty good at creating relationships. That’s why we students call it (college name left out) ___Mingle. It’s like Christian mingle, just in a real-life setting hahaha. Either way though, if you are a single BE FINE where you are at!!! Just continue to grow with God and take your time finding that person. It’ll work out in the end 🙂      

Why God is Beyond My Understanding

I was lying in my bed before I was going to go to bed a few nights ago and right before I fell asleep a question hit my brain. It seems like a rather simple question, but it still made me think a lot. Unfortunately, I lost sleep but I can get it back haha. The question is: Why does God do it better than me? How does it come about that even when I “know”  I have the situation all handled he will show me something I need to change? Why do I fight against what he tells me to do and attempt to make a path of my own (when I know he’s right)? These were some of the questions that went through my mind and after a long time thinking and reflecting on Scriptures I think I got a decent handle on it.

            So the first thing I realized is that God understands the whole situation whilst I do not. I mostly just see how the situation can benefit myself and I can’t really comprehend how much things affect others. When I make a decision, I only see the immediate effects of my decision. I can’t see how it truly affects others because I am not those people. I can’t feel their hurt and I can’t understand their pain. God does. He knows all of us by name and he knows our deepest thoughts. He knows everything about us. His understanding of a situation cannot be measured and that is why it should be in his hands. It really comes down to the fact that he is God and I am not. Who am I, that the Lord of all the Earth would care to know my name? As Steven Curtis Chapman says in his song “God is God”,

God is God and I am not 
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting 
God is God and I am man 
So I’ll never understand it all 
For only God is God

It is so true. There are times where I forget the amazing things God has done for me and I really just want to do it on my own. I forget that his glory cannot be measured and his mercies will never end. Everything he has done for me indicates one thing… that I need to trust him and follow his direction. Something he may ask me to do or that he does may not seem like the best thing for me, but he knows what is best for me. He knows what I truly need. An example of this was when I broke my wrist playing soccer my sophomore year of high school. I was idolizing soccer before him and he was showing me that. Soccer was my life… I was about to be called up to the varsity of one of the powerhouses in my state. It was everything to me. I was so ticked off when it happened… I asked God over and over again why did you do this to me? It was my big break, it was my golden chance… yet today I see why he did it. I know that if that injury had never happened, I would not be who I am today. My faith in God would not be as strong, and I would probably be playing soccer at some college instead of being at the university I am at today. I know that his plan at the time didn’t seem the best for me but as I look back I know it was exactly the wake-up call that I needed in my life. I wish he had figured out a different way to tell me haha, but I won’t question how he did it. Essentially, God understands the big picture and we don’t… so we should give the control to the one who knows what is best for us and those around us.

I also thought about why do I fight God even when I know it’s the right thing to do? I felt like I understand the answer, but it was still good to go back to the basics. The reason why we fight God is because we as humans are naturally sinful. Our tendency is to sin and not doing what God says definitely fits into that description. Romans 3:10-12 says, As it is written:“There is no one righteous, not even one;there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Let’s not beat around the bush here guys… sin often feels good to us. It feels good to break rules and stuff like that… now the consequences don’t feel good. They feel bad, but a lot of times sin indeed feels good. We reject God because we want to fulfill the desires of our sinful nature.

 So for example, let’s say you feel like you hear God’s voice telling you not to date a girl (or vice versa) because they’re a non-Christian, and don’t know anything about God. They are completely into our culture and have those worldly desires. You may think to yourself they are a funny, attractive and simply the perfect person for me; however, you don’t see the conflict that could be down the road. You both will most likely have a ton of conflict because that other person won’t see things through the lens that you do. They could draw you farther away from God and your growth in God would be stunted. What happens when you get married? How are you going to agree on a budget if you are barely hanging on and they disagree with you tithing? How are you going to raise your kids religiously and morally when the parents are from two completely different backgrounds? They’ll be hearing certain stuff from you and certain stuff from your spouse… how are they going to make decisions? These are all reasons why God wants us to be married to a Christian. So let’s say we don’t date this person. What if a little while later another girl comes into our life… she may not as attractive or as funny but she has a heart for the Lord. There will be problems down the road because there are with any relationship, but the problems that come with marrying a non-Christian are erased. This example may not be quite the best, but I think everyone understands the principle.

Well, I hope this pushes you to ponder these questions even more. They seem like really obvious answers, but I know the more I thought about them the more I remembered/learned about God. We always think we know the basics… but do we really? I honestly feel like we can never learn enough about God because the knowledge of God is immeasurable and we always have to go back to the basic questions of our faith and answer them again. That will encourage growth because we will see things in the Bible we hadn’t seen before, understand concepts, and that leads to a closer walk with Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus is only good if we striving to understand him more and more because he saved us. He died on a cross so that you and me only have to believe in him to have everlasting life in paradise with him. If there is ANYTHING we should be spending our time on it is getting to know him more. We don’t have to earn our salvation by works or knowledge of Christ, but we do it because we love him and want to know him more. That’s that 🙂

 

P.S. I’ve had an awesome Christmas break… and it’s going to be done in just one more week. I love being home and seeing my friends here but I can’t wait to see my college friends and more floor again!      

Growing in God pt. 2 Prayer

So, there are so many different ways to approach prayer and I really think it is one of the harder things to do in the Christian walk. I’ve always prayed a lot to God but I didn’t really think about how I was doing it. Then, I had an assignment in my Christian Thought (Theology class) at college and the point of the assignment was to grow in one area, focus on it for a week, write about it, and continue to grow in that area. I feel like it is a good description of prayer… so I’ll just post my assignment. I feel like it will help you understand prayer more because it certainly helped me to deepen what I feel is an already strong relationship with God. The point is that you can never grow in God enough and I know that I just want to know God more and more. I want to know him more, I want to see his face, and I want him to be the most important part of all of me. Anyways, read on…

 

“I chose the area of prayer because I knew that this was something that I could definitely improve in. When I read this assignment for the very first time the Lord convicted me and I realized that I needed to improve how I pray. Honestly, I can pray well when I’m in a group but I find it quite a bit harder to pray when I am alone. When I understood that was the direction that God was pushing me in I wasn’t very surprised and I decided to obey his instructions to improve this area of my spiritual life.

The way I chose to respond to this assignment was in meekness and I started it with prayer of course! I decided that I was going to let God work whatever he wanted in my life that week and that I would make time for whatever God wanted me to do to bring about improvement in this area. I understood that I couldn’t do any of this on my own and I was only going to become closer to God in prayer if I let him teach me.  I also decided that I would pray for 10 minutes at least once every day. One of my goals for the week was that I was going to pray before I got into a mode of desperation. In the chapter, it pointed out that a lot of times we associate praying with desperation, and an example of that was the Hail Mary. The Hail Mary is a desperate heave to the end zone in hopes that a miracle should happen; therefore, I vowed to pray before I got to that point. That’s how I wanted to respond to this challenge.

            On the first day of the week, Monday, I decided to start my prayer out by just listening to God for two minutes and not saying anything. To tell the truth, I really didn’t hear anything from God for those first few minutes and so I moved on in the prayer. For the next few minutes or so I thanked God for all the blessings he has given me. My family, my friends, the fact that I can attend this great university and countless other things I have been blessed with. After that, I brought my prayer requests to God and explained to him what was on my heart. One of the specific ones was my grandmother because she had been admitted into the hospital because of severe dehydration the night before. I was very nervous because she is eighty years old and my mother said that she was pretty out of it that night. I prayed to God and asked him to heal her and make it so she could go back home. My grandpa was also harvesting apples so it was a prayer for him that he would be able to focus on the harvest and not worry about my grandma. I spent just a few minutes basking in the reassurance I felt that everything would be okay. Those are the moments where you don’t do anything at all and you just have to remember that he is God. He has control over everything and will put everything in its right place. So while it was a rough beginning I felt like the prayer time ended really well.

            On Tuesday, I decided to do it a different way and started out with my prayer requests. When my mom had talked to me earlier in the day it sounded like my grandma was doing a little better, but she still couldn’t walk around and was still feeling dehydrated. At this point, I felt like she was definitely doing better but I decided I would just pray for her that day and nothing else. The combination of praying on both Monday and Tuesday just really made me peaceful about the whole situation. If I hadn’t set this time to pray aside for this project I know that I would’ve felt a lot more stressed out but with the time I spent in prayer it brought about in me much more trust in God’s plan.

            With the last prayer session in mind, on Wednesday my goal was to really be able to listen to God speak to me during prayer. So once again, I started my prayer time just not saying anything and keeping my ears completely open to whatever God was trying to tell me. Thankfully, it went a lot better than it did on Monday! This time when I was listening God told me that I needed to continue to seek him and pursue him. I feel like I do a pretty good job of learning more about God and following him but I will admit that my fire for him was dying a little. I was just losing motivation to pursue him with all my heart and during that prayer I was convicted to surrender all of myself to him again. Not just parts of me, but all of me. This really taught me that prayer isn’t just about part of me or part of my struggles… prayer is about all of me. God cares about all my struggles and wants me to bring them to him. I needed to step out of the boat before I could walk on the water. Because of this, I have stopped holding things back from God and I have given them all to him.

            On Thursday, I continued to pray to God not only about my prayer requests and my praises, but for him to change me from the inside out. That was probably the biggest thing that impacted my life from this whole exercise. It taught me that I can and should pray for God to continue to change me every day. I have always been the one striving to change myself but after this exercise I have realized that God can do that as well. Yes, I should be striving after him and changing my character to be more like him but I can’t do it all on my own. I need God to change me and I need to pray for him to do it for me on a daily basis.

            Friday was a great day because I did my prayer time after I had finished school so I was much more relaxed. I was thanking God for the health that he gave my grandmother as she was able to go back home the night before. In addition, I was showing gratitude to God for helping me survive another week of school. I find that Fridays have next to no prayer requests and quite a few praises. God must like Fridays!!!

After doing this exercise for a week, I really felt like I learned a lot about prayer. I had never had a time where I singularly focused on prayer and after this time I knew that is was a great benefit for me. I learned that God will give you peace through prayer, that if I give everything that I am to God through prayer than I am not hampering God’s help, and I realized that I needed to keep praying for God to change me from the inside out. Also, I prayed before the times of desperation and it felt so good to do that. I know that I will keep all the lessons I learned in this exercise close to my heart.”     

Growing in God (Part 1)

So I don’t know about you guys but right now I feel very weary. It’s been a draining semester and after a few tiring days I really feel like I’ve hit the wall.  Its days like this that I remember that I have the Lord my God on my side, and he will give me the strength I need to endure. I know who he has created me to be and I know that I am carrying out his will. Plus I’m being the person who he wants to be. However, the race doesn’t go to the swift; it goes to those who run the entire course. The essential point that I am going to approach in the next few blogs is growing in Christ. So how do we stay close to God and keep that center of peace?

The first part of staying close to God is reading your Bible in an intentional matter every day. Studying your Bible isn’t just reading it; it is searching deeper and deeper in the text to build a strong relationship with God. I can admit; it seems so hard sometimes to remember to read my Bible. Plus when I read it I am so tempted (and sometimes do) just skim through it really fast. The fact of the matter is that when I purposefully read through the Bible to get closer to Christ… it becomes more alive to me. The words that I read become more and more important to me and I become more and more impacted by them. I was reading through the Psalms a few days ago (They are amazing) and I just really felt the power of the words. This is what I read.

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works… I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Proverbs 104:31, 33-34

Another passage that I just reread really inspires me (and many of you have read it) is Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

            If you just tread over those words really quickly then you won’t really pick up anything; however, if you really reflect on the significance of each word you realize how dynamic these passages are. Another way of studying the Bible is simply just to read through the passage and then stop and think about each individual verse one by one. As it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It isn’t a question of whether God’s Word will shape you; it’s a question of are you going to put in the effort to make that possible. Also, this needs to be done every day. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot of time, but enough that you actually understand what you are reading. On some days where you are really busy, it’s okay just to read straight through the passage. Ideally, you do want to have that time of reflection but sometimes it’s just not possible. I understand people are busy; however, I feel that if I have that time of reflection my busy days go so much better!

            Another thing is that while the Bible should be the overwhelming majority of the spiritual content you read, reading something else about Christianity at the same time is always a good idea as well. For example, right now I am reading a book many of you have gotten your hands on (and if you haven’t you really should) called “not a fan.” by Kyle Idleman. He is the pastor of the fifth largest church in America, but the size of his church doesn’t matter. The content that he has written in this book is absolutely amazing. It brings such great clarity to the Christian faith and it asks you rock-solid questions that make you think really hard about what you believe. I would highly suggest it to anybody… its purpose is, “Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus” and it meets that expectation perfectly. There are so many other books you can read to build your faith and I would highly suggest it. These books give you another view in which you can build your faith. Some of the words from authors like C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Lee Strobel and others are grounded in the Gospel and bring about such great growth in your faith.

            In this series, I’m going to cover multiple areas of how you grow in faith but I really felt like reading the Bible and additional materials would be a great way to start. As I stated earlier, don’t just read the passage and then come away with nothing. Dive deep into the text, understand it, reflect on it and let it change your life. The Bible is truly dynamic; it is where we can read God’s direct message to you and me. Treat it that way 🙂 can’t wait to see where the series is going to go. Really excited to be hitting this topic 😀

 

P.S. Long-time readers… I probably haven’t spoken to you guys in forever haha! Life is going absolutely fantastic here at college. I am really busy but I’m having a great time and am really enjoying the people and events here. Thus why this blog is a little shorter than usual… I think I’m going to go shorter though. I feel like my previous writing was maybe a bit too long and with shorter posts it will keep your attention better. Plus my rambling will be kept to minimum lol. Anyways, hope life is going well for you guys!