Transitions

In life, we always have the times of transition where we have to adjust to a lot of different things. How we adjust to new situations in life can determine who we are, what our purpose in life is, the people around us, and how we serve God. As I have reached the end of my undergrad career I’m about to enter a time of transition in my life. I enjoyed the last bit of the semester, but I can’t help but look ahead because life will be quite a lot different now that graduation and finals have rolled on through. Will I miss being at Northwest (like that is even a real question)? Yes, but I also know that God has a lot more in store for me as I move in a new direction. I’m gonna hit on a few different parts of transitions, and there’s a few important things that go along with them.

Firstly, there will be new activities that you will participate in. In the short-term you may yearn for the previous activities that you had but take advantage of the new ones that are placed in your life. Keeping to the norm is so easy, but God calls us to move outside of those boundaries. He pleads for us to jump headfirst wherever he sends us because in doing that his mission for us is fulfilled as we rely on him for assurance and guidance. He cherishes and loves you with a deeper meaning than our human existence can even comprehend. He knows every single part of you, and because of that God knows what we are capable of. New activities and opportunities that fall into your life are never accidents, they are his way of showing you how to serve his Kingdom. For me, I don’t know what plans that he has for me. I will be returning home to the same area code, but I don’t want to live the exact same life that I did before high school graduation. College has changed me and I know that God will show me the new, unique path that he has prepared for me. Some things will be the same, I’m not saying that’s bad at all. I’m just saying that God will carry people in transition in new directions, and we should be all-in for doing that as he calls.

Additionally, you and the relationships you have in your life will change as you go through changes in your own life. In transitioning to a new surrounding there are different people in your life and they play a new role in your development. People who have been in your life already will play different roles in your new environment. Time and space changes relationships in so many different ways as some relationships will drift farther apart and others will stay close together. The old saying says, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver but the others gold.” I love this because it really applies to transitions. Those friends that you keep throughout the transitions in your life are the most important to you, but at the same time you need those new friends because they can directly relate to your life. I have a core group of friends that I know I can lean on anytime. They are wonderful people that God has placed into my life. With that said, I’m excited to see what new friendships are on the horizon, and how those are going to impact my life.

Most important of all is the fact that you yourself will change during a time of transition. Things that mattered to you before may not matter as much or you may put them on the back burner. New things will become important to you as you find yourself in a new atmosphere. Your personality may change to a certain degree. Your ways to spend your free time may change. A lot can change. The priorities in your new life will be in a constant fluctuation, and the level of different priorities may change quite often in a short amount of time. The level of your relationship with God should remain constantly on the top of your priority list. It sounds like a really simple thing (Duh!) but it honestly is not that simple in actual implementation. It is extremely easy to rely on what you’ve learned throughout your life, especially if you’ve been a Christian all of your life. So just don’t forget to read your Bible every day and pray to God whenever you can because that’s where true growth comes. I’m not gonna lie, this is something that I have struggled with at different times. Yet, I always find myself running back to God because I know that no matter how my life is going in the end He is by far the best thing for me. True growth comes when you do something on a consistent basis. The longer you pursue God the more you realize that he is crazy into you, and wants to love you more than anyone else in this world ever could!

So hopefully that’s a short message that resonates with you. This applies to anyone’s life, whether you are going through a transition or not!

 

P.S. I’m graduated from college! It’s pretty cool! I’m excited to see what happens in the next part of my life, but I will be more free to write this blog so expect more posts!

 

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!

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 (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!

Battle Cry

A lot of times Christians take a lackadaisical approach to the real spiritual war we are in. Our own salvation is in Jesus Christ but there’s so much in this than just us. There are other people’s lives at stake… we just don’t think about the fate of non-Christians we love. I hate to break it to you… but they’re going to hell. Good people go to hell. What I mean by that is if somebody lives a good life and never accepts Jesus… they’re hosed. I like to use the analogy of a boomerang. Somebody will reach out and do as much good as they do to save their own life but no matter how much they do the boomerang will always come back to them. You can’t do it on your own… you need God. But that’s not what this is about. This about witnessing to those who haven’t heard this news and I will use the chorus from the song “Battle Cry” by Skillet to expound on this topic.

I believe we can’t lose

This is a huge part of the witnessing process… realize that God has already won the war. Satan cannot reverse that however much he tries and his fight is doomed. That doesn’t mean that we can relax because the individual battles are still in our hands. Satan tries to get into our heads and puts fear into our hearts. Don’t listen to him… whatever he says we can’t lose!!!

Even mountains will move

When God leads us to do something and we think that all the odds are stacked against us… there is still a way to achieve the goal he has put in our hearts. If we follow God with all of our heart mountains will move. Whatever God wants to be done will be done… we just need to believe that he will move those mountains for us.

It’s our faith, it’s our life

A huge part of witnessing isn’t reaching out to the lost; it’s building your own faith. Thankfully, I’ve had people in my life that do that for me on a constant basis. From my best friends, to my mentors, to the people at my private Christian university right now… my faith has been built up. Especially at this university, I love how my faith is challenged and I want to know more about God. Additionally, this is your life. Don’t waste the time that God has given you to save the lost. He has given you everything you need… you just need to take the initiative and incorporate him into your life. Then you can reach out to the lost and help bring them to God 🙂

   
This is our battle cry

Witnessing to non-believers is a huge call for us as Christians. It’s honestly a battle cry because when we are witnessing we are grappling with demonic forces… it’s not something to be taken lightly. We are living for God and in carrying out his will he is helping us fight against Satan. This is a battle; therefore, it needs a battle cry that comes from us and that encourages us as we fight the enemy.

They can’t take us down

That’s the point… no matter what happens we can’t be stopped. I’ve honestly come to this conclusion… dying for Jesus is an absolute honor. If I was killed because I was spreading my Christian beliefs I would win. It’s something that I’ve struggled with but now I can say it with absolute truth… I am NOT afraid to die for my faith. Nobody can take me down.

 
If we stand our ground

We have everything… we just need to have the guts to stand our ground and not budge a single inch. God calls us to be warriors for him and that means to stand our ground for him.

If we live, if we die

You see; if we live and continue to preach about Christianity we win. If we are killed because of our refusal to stop spreading God’s word we win. Why? Because we are finally rid of this fallen world where sin abounds and we decay every day. Then we get to see God face-to-face. Either option sounds wonderful to me!

We will shout out our battle cry

We don’t need to be quiet about our faith. Shout out to the whole world what God has done for you and do it all of your days. We won’t keep the life-changing effects of Jesus Christ to ourselves… we will spread it across the whole globe. Whether you’re a missionary, doctor, banker, athlete, student etc. there are chances in your life to witness about Jesus Christ. So let that battle cry shout out in everything you do and let it spread to others!!!

 

This is why I believe God calls us to battle. So men, don’t be boys. Be real warriors that are seeking God’s will and fighting for his kingdom. Women, don’t be girls, strive for God! We can’t lose so there is no reason to be tentative… God will move those mountains in your life. He will move in your life and do things you never could’ve imagined. So don’t be afraid… use that battle cry to bring glory to God and everything he has done!!!!!!!!!!!

 

P.S. 6 weeks of college are in the book. The workload is getting higher as I head toward mid-terms but I’ve had so much fun here. So many good times!!!!!