Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/09/2012

The last line of the poem today actually states the topic for this past week, and the whole poem fairly well describes certain seasons within the life of one desperately pursuing God.

We may fail at times, but we must learn from those failures and trust God. We can not go back to who we were and start over. We must renew our commitment in our hearts and minds, pressing onward and digging deeper!

moving forward

sometimes i stumble
other times i fall
i could go back to where
i started this walk
but then i would go over
what i have already learned
instead i will continue
i will move on from here
i have what has happened
now i must move forward
letting go of lessons learned
makes absolutely no sense
so i press on towards the goal
leaving mistakes behind
but not forgetting so that
when they arise again
i know how to avoid them
going back is not an option
not for me anymore
all that is left is to finish
move on from where i am
and complete this race
the race of life and love
and the pursuit of God

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 145.

The Core Values: Desperate Pursuit

Here is your regular reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from the wisdom book!

One thing I ask of the LORD,  this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD  all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD  and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

Last month we looked at The Four Core Facts: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, the change in their willingness to suffer and die for the Gospel, and the conversion of Paul. (Here is another reminder that if you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.)

This is all well and good, but it is not enough to know these things. To quote an often used and out of context verse (including out of context here!), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Even demons believe God exists, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus and the Disciples lived and died for Truth.

How can we do better than demons?

The Core Values, as with the Core Facts, grow out of each other. Therefore, today’s post will hit slightly on each of the other areas. Here is our first:

Desperate Pursuit of God

Believing and knowing requires action. How can we get to where we sincerely and honestly pray Psalm 27:4?

First is what every good Jewish boy and girl understood growing up: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

How do we get there?

It can be tough loving God with all that you are when you are constantly reminded of your past, of how you may have fallen short, or even because of your pride.

As Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

But forgetting can be difficult. We get so focused on it, and so many times it feels like the harder we try to forget the more imprinted it becomes in our memory. (I will get back to this in the next Core Value)

We must learn what Jesus meant when He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

As I have said time and again to our youth group, one of my favorite definitions of hate is “misdirected love,” or, as in this instance, “exponentially more love toward another.”

We need to get to a point where we desire to be with God so much that it is almost as if we hate our family and friends. This of course is impossible, because the closer we draw to God the more we will love others!

But this is what it takes. We have to focus so much on who God is that God is all we seem to think about throughout the day.

In my life, it took selling/donating most of my possessions and leaving home. I knew movies, things, and even some people were getting in the way of my relationship with God. It eventually led to ending an engagement to be married, losing my job, and going from Illinois to Arizona. It was kind of “go to the land I will show you” like Abram (Abraham) received from God in Genesis 12.

It is different for every person, but the key is that it takes an unbridled passion for God. It is like wanting that new toy, that new phone, that new car, that new dress, those shoes, that girl, that boy, that man, that woman, that home.

The only difference is that our desire becomes focused on learning about and falling in love with the Creator of the Universe and Lover of Humanity.

Why do you think the Bible refers to marriage so often when talking about God and us?

Next week is the second of the Core Values: Diligent Prayer

What thoughts do you have? How have you demonstrated a desperate pursuit of God in your life? What have I left out that you feel needs to be added?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/02/2012

First of all, my usual friendly reminder to go check out the words of wisdom at Proverbial Thought.

The poem this week is fitting, because as I go through the Four Core Facts and Four Core Values for the youth group I help lead I hope that the words I share make an impact on your life. I pray you come to know Christ intimately and learn to follow His ways and fall madly and passionately in love with Him. May I make an impact in your life for His glory as He has made an impact in my life through others and His great love.

impact

may my words leave you well
may my actions leave an example
may my love leave an impression
may my life leave an impact
for the Word made me well
for His actions made me an example
for His love made an impression
for His life made the ultimate impact

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 142.

The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator

For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Conversion of Saul/Paul

All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.

Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.

Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.

There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.

The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.

However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:

“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV

This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.

This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.

Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).

There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.

Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.

But then it all changed.

Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?

This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.

What would send Saul (meaning “prayed for”) into synagogues to preach the Gospel and the desert wilderness for some time to study to eventually come back as Paul (meaning “small”)?

Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.

It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.

In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.

Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Thoughts?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 08/26/2012

Do not forget us over at Proverbial Thought! These daily devotionals could very well change your life!

When the Disciples were assured of the Life of the Risen Lord, they were so radically changed. They suddenly loved people whom they may not have ever given a second thought about before Jesus came on the scene. They could not help but love others, because they knew how much God loves them.

I love them

This love compels me.

It moves me completely.

I look on those lost,

And my heart breaks.

When someone is hurt,

My heart hurts, too.

When my brother mourns,

My heart mourns.

When my sister is moved,

My heart is moved.

Lord, this love is too much for me,

But I know it is Yours.

Send more.

Help me love my brother.

Help me love my sister.

Let my heart break,

mourn,

move,

hurt,

love for them all.

Break me for them all.

You love me…

I love them.

Thank You, God.

More.

Thank You For

  Your Love,

     God.

   Amen.

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 138.

The Core Facts: A New Boldness

A wise mind would go find some wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross and the despair of the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

I feel I must first verify for everyone that there were indeed more than 11 or 12 Disciples as evidenced by Jesus appointing 72 to go on a short-term mission (Luke 10) and 120 meeting in “the upper room” between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost (Acts 1:15). You see, the Twelve Disciples were Jesus’ inner circle, His closest friends entrusted with leading the fledgling Church after His ascension.

And now, we should start with the obvious: Why were the Disciples willing to die?

They firmly believed they had seen the Risen Lord.

Jesus was not just another man. He made the impossible claim that He is God (John 10:30). Jesus backed up this claim through various miracles …

… the ultimate miracle being that He was beaten, crucified, died, and buried, and rose back to life.

The Disciples were convinced they saw Jesus risen from the dead, and that gave them the confidence they needed to willingly face death for the sake of the Gospel.

This change is more than just a willingness to die. This needs to be understood.

People of many beliefs are willing to die for what they believe. That cannot be denied. September 11, 2001 is enough evidence for Americans, and many nations around the world see evidence of this deadly devotion many times a year if not every day.

There are a couple of differences with they young Church. The Disciples had a passion to share the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. They taught a radical message that required change in all who believe.

Just like the Western world today, people in the Roman Empire had an understanding that you could believe anything you wanted, just do not try to tell anyone they are believing wrongly. If you did, you were clearly wrong and must be stopped.

The Disciples started a new revolution of love for all people, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, color, nationality, or societal stance. But it was also a revolution of needing to change yourself: your habits, your thoughts, and especially your beliefs; in other words, that everyone was essentially wrong.

They knew the consequences: Deny your teachings or risk imprisonment, torture, and even death.

This means the Disciples went from a group of cowards who ran away from punishment to not shying away from the threat of suffering and death.

As I said two weeks ago in my fourth point, it would have been easy to stop the early Church from growing beyond several dozen or several thousand people.

If the Disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, most if not all of them would have cracked under torture and the threat of death and admitted to the removal of the body (which Jews would not do, because touching a dead body made you ceremonially unclean … very non-kosher).

If the Disciples had suffered from mass hallucination, all the authorities would have had to do is open the tomb and show them the body and snap them back to reality … or at least stop new converts rather handily.

If the Jewish and/or Roman authorities had stolen the body … THEY COULD HAVE PRODUCED THE BODY!

Did you notice a trend?

The Disciples becoming so bold in the face of the most powerful forces in the known world is not a trivial matter.

The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth can not be credibly denied.

The Disciples despairing after Jesus was led away is and understandable truth.

The change in the Disciples to endure pain and death for a belief that Jesus was who He said He was and had risen from the dead only helps to prove that Jesus really is the risen Son of God.

It also helps explain the fourth of the Four Core Facts: The Conversion of Saul/Paul

Are there any other thoughts? Is there anything to add?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 08/19/2012

I offer another friendly reminder to read the wisdom coming out of Proverbs over at Proverbial Thought.

Something great to understand is that even Jesus’ closest friends deserted Him at the crucifixion, yet Jesus never leaves nor abandons us. He is our greatest Friend, but we must never forget that He is also our Lord and Savior.

old friends

when it comes to relationships
Christ wants the best we can give
He wants to know us deeply
and talk with us frequently
this friendship He wants to have with us
involves the greatest of all trust
He desires the same Love He sends
He wants to treat us like old friends
an old friend is one that is always there
someone who thinks of you and really cares
someone who knows what you will say
someone who thinks of you everyday
Jesus is that kind of friend
He will be there through the end
His friendship is the best you will see
He loves us unconditionally

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 134.