Posts Tagged ‘ Belief ’

Really?!

Get a taste of wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

Big and Newborn Bros

Big and Newborn Bros

My Wedding with Nick

At my wedding 2.6 years ago

Yesterday was my little brother’s 28th birthday. I still think of him as a junior higher, perhaps 13 or 14 years old. That is now half his age! I can barely believe it!

This past Thursday, January 9, was my 14th Re-birthday. It was 14 years ago I first knelt down and declared I believed Jesus is my Savior and the Son of God. I was only a couple years older than how I still view my brother when that happened.

This all got me to thinking about something.

Some friends and I had a conversation about conversations a while back. It was all about the exclamation “Really?!”

The full context of this conversation was focused around what one of us had heard about friendly conversation and this one word. Asking this word after a friend or loved one makes a statement is the same as casting doubt on the validity of the statement.

It is one thing if the conversation goes like this:

“I just won a million dollars!”
“Wow! Really?!”

Winning a million dollars is not a typical occurrence in daily life. Shock and amazement with a little bit of doubt makes sense.

But when the conversation is more like this:

“I lost my phone today.”
“Really?”

In this context, it can said as any of the following:

  • Anger: “How could you do that again?”
  • Sarcasm: “This is such a surprise coming from you!”
  • Astonishment: “This just happened?”

And many others.

The underlying theme is that saying “Really?!” denotes disbelief or mistrust, or at worst it denotes aggression or animosity. And to be fair, most of us use the term in such a way as to say “Tell me more!”

In Jesus’ Name. Really?!

You are probably thinking about how often you say “Really?!” to people, and, if you are like we were, you are attempting to justify your use of the term and explain that you usually mean “Tell me more!”

Let me then ask you this, Christian believer: How do you live your life?

Do go around claiming your connection to your church and as a good Christian, yet those outside the Church look at your example of love and light and think “Is this person really ‘blameless and innocent, [a child] of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16, ESV)

Put another way, do they look at your life and say “Really?! That’s a Christ follower?” And they want to stay away from God because of your example?

Or do you go around sharing the good news of Christ as you live out His commands of love and sacrifice? Do those outside the Church look at your example of love and light and think, “Really?! This kind of thing is true? Tell me more!”

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6, ESV

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 11/24/2013

Heed the call of Wisdom through Proverbial Thought!

Every single person on Earth has been issued the same calling in this life by God. Most people will not heed this call.

This calling is simultaneously simple and the most difficult to accept on many levels.

This calling is only found through faith in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

This calling is to believe and follow Jesus Christ, the living Son of God.

This week is Thanksgiving. May those of us who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb be thankful for this calling and freedom!

Your death on the cross is an invitation
Your resurrection is a call
You invite us into love and forgiveness
You call us into life and repentance
i accept that this is all true
i accept that You have done and do these
my response is to come to You
my response is to turn from my old life

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 08/11/2013

Accept the truth that you need more wisdom, and go read the proverbial commentary at Proverbial Thought!

There are two groups in this world:

  1. Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
  2. Those who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Within the first group there are subgroups which define a response to Jesus:

  1. Those who ignore Jesus.
  2. Those who hate Jesus.
  3. Those who love Jesus.

There can be subgroups for each of these, but the focus of the poem today is an explanation of that last group.

accept and respond

i heard the Good News

i looked at the facts

i know it was true

i accepted Jesus

my mental decision

brought in a choice

be a new person

or just say i know Jesus

this life can be hard

and not seem very just

i will take up my part

and respond to Jesus

i accept this truth

i will do what i must

i have to share with you

because i responded to Jesus

Seeing Stars

As usual, here is your friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for your daily dose of wisdom.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Last week I discussed expecting the coming Messiah. I am continuing this little series, not from the standpoint of believers, but from the perspective of “outsiders” to the faith.

Star-struck

Nobody is completely sure who they were, but the Magi were definitely by our modern definition astrologers (study the stars, planets, and other such heavenly bodies to better understand the present and future) and possibly Zoroastrians. This could make sense, as Zoroastrians, like the Jews, are monotheists (yes, they still exist), worshiping only one god. In fact, they may be willing to accept that the Jews worship this god in their own fashion.

Regardless, they would have had reason to believe that this “king of the Jews” could indeed be Savior of the world, for Zoroastrians also believe one is coming.

While they were watching the stars, they saw this one star that, according to all of the various alignments and timing, meant someone in the area of Palestine of the Jewish people was being born as a king. This king was worthy of their worship.

Misguided

What is amazing is that foreigners knew the Jewish Messiah was coming.

How many in Israel knew?

Some were expecting, as discussed last week, but none knew until He was right in front of them or someone (such as angels?) told them.

How is it that the very people who should have seen the Savior of the world coming missed it, but outsiders recognized the times for what they were?

Part of it is that most of the Jews had an idea of what the Messiah should look like, and he was not exactly what they envisioned.

These Magi, however, were open to the fact that the Creator of everything could work however He wanted. They could see what most others could not, because they expected God to move in unusual ways.

Many Jewish leaders ended up getting hit over the head with their own sins and obtuseness. They had all the answers, but could not see the Rock of Truth flying straight at them.

Us

Would we have known Jesus was coming?

Are we paying attention to our times? Can we judge (with the help of the Holy Spirit, especially) whether Jesus may be coming soon?

Think on this (keeping in mind this is simply food for thought): If many religions and even atheists are expecting a highly probable (some would say definite) end to life as we know it, perhaps even to our planet, why is it so weird that some Christians expect the soon return of Christ to this world?

What are you looking at? What are you watching?

Or are you going to be surprised by God coming and ruining your plans?

Expecting the Messiah

I would like, firstly, to offer a reminder to check out Proverbial Thought. Wisdom is always helpful, and especially so during a busy holiday season!

Secondly, happy first week of Advent! Regardless of whether you practice celebrating Advent, we must always remember the importance of the coming of our Lord, which leads to the post:

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:21-38

I have fallen in with several different crowds in my life. Before this gets out of hand, I mean within Christianity. One of those crowds with which my history is long and varied is those expecting the soon return of Jesus Christ. I recently have been hearing people, due largely to last year’s predictions of the rapture and the coming of the “Mayan prediction” of December 21, 2012, being the end of the world (bunk), mocking people who expect His soon coming.

These people doing the mocking are mostly Christian.

Here is some food for thought about expecting Jesus:

Is it really so silly?

There was another time when many people were calling for the coming of the Savior, and many others mocked them. It was easy with so many other religions and pseudo-Saviors popping up to save the day … and failing. Some expecting the Messiah claimed God had revealed to them that His Messiah was coming soon. Others were astute enough from years of dedicated prayer and fasting to recognize what was going on around them.

And those few were right.

The story above relates how to elderly people were eagerly waiting for the coming Messiah. When others may have laughed, they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was coming.

I am pretty sure, however, that few laughed. In fact, when we consider the thousands that later followed Jesus, there were many people who expected a Messiah. In this story, it says Anna “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Do you realize that many of those who heard this may not have even been alive, let alone remembered this, by the time Jesus began His ministry 30 years later?!

Sometimes, God speaks through the craziest things

Many people today eagerly await the returning King of kings. This is good!

Sure, there are problems with some people claiming to know the date. Some people flat-out deny Christ’s return. Some people say it is not really that important.

Sometimes, we disregard a truth because of where it comes from.

Joseph and Mary easily could have disregarded what was being said about their infant son, but I am pretty sure their dreams and visions from only the previous six to nine months were vividly fresh in their minds. They were seeing an impossible baby being born to verify the visions and dreams! These prophecies were becoming run of the mill for them, by now!

Perhaps that is our problem.

How many Christians today regularly fast and pray? How often do you set aside time for seeking God through prayer and listening for Him?

Jesus could be coming this month (even as you read this). How could we know if we are not daily seeking time to talk with God. We do not believe in miracles or spiritual gifts, so why should we expect His return to be soon.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Philippians 3:17-4:1

This Christmas, and always, expect the Messiah to return soon. He may not, but we should live as though He is coming tonight but may wait another thousand years. Of course, we must praise Him always!

The Core Values: Engrossed Existence

Here is another friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from Proverbs!

We now continue our look at the Four Core Facts and the Four Core Values, having examined the desperate pursuit of God, diligent prayer, and a consecrated heart.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

As I said before, all of the Core Facts and Values flow together. The Values are useless without the truth of the Facts. Without a desperate pursuit of God bathed in diligent prayer creating a consecrated heart, we play a dangerous game with the fourth Core Value:

A Focused Life

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . . For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7

Why would I say we play a dangerous game with a focused life without the Core Facts and Values?

Perhaps you have heard that line that goes something like “Those who believe in nothing will fall for anything.” People can devote their lives to just about anything out there (read the tabloids, news, and/or history books).

Some people even dedicate their lives to God without considering the possibility that God will come collect. Then they are surprised at what God wants.

It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly
and only later to consider his vows
Proverbs 20:25

This is why we need a foundation based on the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God, and a value-system based on the truth revealed in the Bible.

FOCUS!

Have you noticed how easy it is to be distracted? Humans have always found a way to distract themselves, but Modern Man has really excelled in this area.

We have access to an entire world in ways barely imaginable 100 years ago, from cars to trains to airplanes.

We have access to an entire world through the internet.

We have access to endless entertainment through books, movies, television, video games, sports, the internet, and various other entertainment-industry options too numerous to list here.

We have access to friends and family any time of the night or day around the world through telephones, cellular phones, e-mail, Facebook, the internet (noticing a theme?), and so many other things.

We have more than enough to distract us, and we have even made it possible to stop using our own imagination.

But what do the most successful people in our world have in common?

Focus.

Their lives are dedicated to one major thing (which can include many smaller things, but usually related things), and they do not let anything get in the way of their dreams and goals.

They each have a focused life.

This is basically what God has called all who would follow Him to do. Be focused.

On what?

The answer comes in a rebuke of Peter by Jesus:

“You must follow me.”

We have to focus our lives on Jesus.

However, I will take this a step further.

There are a lot of people who claim to follow Jesus, and they show up to church regularly, tithe, donate, and volunteer.

They live good lives.

While their lives are engrossed in Jesus, I would posit that their entire existence is not engrossed in Jesus. (See the title of the post worked in there?!)

In truth, these people (and even many people engrossed in following Jesus can succumb to this) are distracted by serving.

How do we know when we get distracted by service?

One of two things is usually what happens:

  1. We are not going where Jesus is going. We find ourselves in the church building all the time, or at church functions, and we know everyone we see or know someone who knows that person well and we are all Christian. We rarely encounter anyone who is hurting, mourning, in desperate need, or stuck in sin (of which we are aware).
  2. We are exactly where Jesus is, but we are “pulling a Martha. Sometimes, we are so busy serving Jesus that we forget about actually serving others, and we are surrounded by people who really need Jesus.

The Problem and Solution

We are not fully engrossed in following Jesus. That is just the way it is.

This is where the other values come in. To be fully engrossed we must desperately pursue God by reading the Bible, learning what it means through teachings and fellowship, and seeking where God is working. To effectively pursue God, we must be in constant communication with Him through diligent prayer, and this helps us grow in a desire to study the Bible and find where God is going. As we pray and study, we find our hearts are growing ever more consecrated to God, and our desire to seek Him and talk with Him grows. The more consecrated our hearts become for God, the more we find our life being focused on God.

The only other step is that we must put it all into practice.We must be with those who are hurting and in need. We must show love and grace. We must forgive ALL people.

We must effectually become like Jesus Christ.

Our focus in life must be to be completely engrossed in living and loving like Jesus, pushing aside distractions and pushing on in faith, grace, and love.

Next week, I will briefly discuss The Core Mission.

What are your thoughts? How are you doing?

The Core Values: Cardiac Consecration

Here is your regular, friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from Proverbs!

We now continue our look at the Four Core Facts and the Four Core Values, having examined the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

As I said before, all of the Core Facts and Values flow together. The Values are useless without the truth of the Facts. Without a desperate pursuit of God bathed in diligent prayer, there is little need for the third Core Value:

A Consecrated Heart

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

This requirement of a person seems simple enough. To put it in overly simplistic terms, we are required to do good, be forgiving, and live life honestly … with God.

Why are these so difficult, then?

To do good, to act justly, often means to think of others before yourself and to sacrifice.

To be forgiving, to love mercy, often means showing love, grace, and, yes, forgiveness to those you feel are least deserving … or to whom you would rather not.

To live life honestly, to walk humbly, often means realizing you do not understand this world or yourself as well as you think. It always means realizing you are someone in need of a Savior.

These are the beginning steps to having a consecrated heart.

But what is the first step?

Why not start with what it really means to have a consecrated heart …

From Merriam-Webster:

1
: to induct (a person) into a permanent office with a religious rite; especially: to ordain to the office of bishop
2
a: to make or declare sacred; especially:to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony
b:to effect the liturgical transubstantiation of (eucharistic bread and wine)
c: to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication
3
: to make inviolable or venerable <principles consecrated by the weight of history>
I especially like definition 2a. In fact, the second definition is the whole point.

In fact, this may help sum up this post pretty quickly.

Having a consecrated heart simply means that you declare your heart sacred, that you set aside your heart to be devoted completely to worshiping God.

Simple, yes? Declare your heart as God’s own.

For it to really mean anything, as stated before, it requires the Core Facts and the other Core Values.

You need faith that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was necessary for your salvation. Without this knowledge, you can consecrate your heart to anything. It happens all around our world every day. Look at all of the religions, numbers of gods, lack of gods (and God), and every other belief, including in the self. Apart from God, we can do nothing, especially save ourselves from condemnation. (A simple, quick explanation: No God = No humans, thus we can do nothing without God.)

You need to have a desperation to know God, which comes from a desire to know truth. (Many seek truth, but not all seek to know truth.)

We grow more desperate to know God through diligent prayer. At the same time, diligent prayer usually grows out of a desperation. (Kind of like wanting to talk to that boy or that girl on the phone at all times of the day or night, because you can not seem to get enough. You find yourself falling ever more in love the more the two of you talk. You know what I mean 😉 .) With the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer, it can often be a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. It always depends on the person, the circumstances, and the ways of God.

When you believe something so strongly, you dedicate your life to it. That is what a consecrated heart is. It is praying “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV)

And it leads to the fourth Core Value: A Focused Life

What do you believe? Why? What do you spend your time doing and with whom and about what do you talk? To what have you dedicated your life?

Why?