|The Praise of Folly||
No I do not go to Mars Hill Church, and actually live no where near the Mars Hill Church Plants, but I love listening to his sermons! Take a few hours to listen to his sermons sometime! Really good and challenging stuff! His current sermon series he is going through is "Ephesians".
I cannot tell you all the different things flowing through my mind right now, and for the first time this week I am actually enjoying the multitude of thoughts racing through my brain. I am excited. I am hopeful. I am beginning to dream again! About what you may ask? About the things that will, by the grace of God, help further the glory of the kingdom.
I began writing my New Years Resolutions for next year. They were not even technically supposed to be New Years Resolutions, but when I noticed that everything I had written down was for 2013 I decided to just claim these ideas as my New Years Resolutions! I want to share with you some of the resolutions that are on my heart! These things range from things like a job and a car, to things like setting up an unorganized (in terms of SEU organizing it) inner-city missions trip to Washington D.C.
Yes, I go to Church in D.C. Yes, I am from the area, and the church that will be working directly with the group of people I hope to get to come with me will most likely be my own home church, but this is not about "my church." This is about my heart for D.C. and the inner-city community that surrounds my church. This area is filled with churches, and these churches are either not filled at all, or are filled with older men and women. The young people that live all through-out the neighboring communities? Where can they be found? Out on the streets trying to make it by through gangs, sex, drugs, violence, partying, money, and life lived this way because they do not know that there is more to it through Jesus Christ.
I have met a lot of kids from the area, many of them know OF Jesus. They know OF God. But, that is as far as their knowledge goes. The road is narrow! When are we going to start taking that seriously?! It is not enough to allow someone to go along being satisfied with the simple thought that there is a God! We must as Christ followers show them the truth! The truth is love, hope, and a relationship that outlasts anything this earth can provide! I want to start a ministry within the Inner City that goes beyond just a short-term missions team! I want to see a generation of a new community of believers in the inner city begin to flourish and grow! I do not want these dreams to become just become vague possibilities! I want to carry them out with integrity and faithfulness to the kingdom of God! I want to know what it truly means to live a life that resembles that of Christ!
I ask that you would pray for my heart if you are reading this. That God would start a passion stirring within my heart to settle for nothing less than being completely faithful to the kingdom of God! I am young and this is a great time to dream right? But this dream...it feels so real! It would be detrimental to myself and the kingdom of God to not follow through with it! I need accountability for this! I need prayer for short term missions, for working a job next semester, for getting a car next summer, for starting a ministry within the D.C. area that would truly spend time diving into the hearts and lives of the community, and I need prayer for more faithfulness to the seeking of the kingdom of God first and foremost. Thank you all for your prayers! Keep me accountable to a life of faithfulness and love for the Lord and humanity itself.
Alright, so to be honest I actually had no intention of making two parts to this Book of Judges thing. But, once I started writing and thinking through all that I wanted to write out in words, I decided it might be better if I split the two up, so people weren't forced to read one long post (that's assuming people would even want to read it in the first place haha).
So, as you know if you read Part 1, I started reading the Book of Judges recently. In Part 1 I spoke much about the connection between the Old and New Testament and how the Old Testament is a great foreshadowing to the reality that is to come in the New Testament.
While reading the second chapter of Judges I found it strangely compelling. There were many things that stood out to me, but one of the most compelling things was found in verses 18-19. These verses say, "Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
I don't know if it is just me but as soon as I read these verses the first person I thought of was Christ. I read these verses and I thought of how we, as Christians, now are the chosen people and just like God sent judges to his chosen people the Israelites, he has sent us one final judge who is Jesus Christ. I read those verses and I see the Lord being moved to pity by his people who are seeking something more, who are seeking to be saved physically, emotionally, and spiritually! I see the Lord sending a judge who would save us from the hands of our enemies, "all the days of the judge." And, I see one final thing which is different...that in order to save us our judge in Christ had to die. But unlike the other judges who died and everyone returned back to their sins and stubborn ways, our judge came back to life in order that he could still be with us.
I know this was a short post, but it was short for a number of reasons. One reason is I'm a little tired and my brain isn't running as smoothly as it was during Part 1, but the other reason is because I don't believe there is too much else to say. Christ is the Ultimate Judge who has come to save his people from their sins just like the earthly judges in the Old Testament, except this time the judge is eternal and defeated death by rising again. I hope this encourages you! If you get anything out of this let it be to get into your word and hear from the Lord about who he is!
Today is one of those days where I have so much to say, that, to be perfectly honest, I don't know if I will even get the chance to be able to say it all -- let alone say things that I do get the chance to say properly. I first would like to insert one of the things that I was, at first, thinking about writing an entire blog post about, but now will just try to summarize it real quick within this one blog post.
Before I get into the main topic of "The Ultimate Judge" (Part 2) I want to encourage people to read their Bibles! I have to be honest with you all it has been a good week since I have had a really good quiet time with God. I haven't really enjoyed just hearing from God and taking in his beautiful word. Christians want to be Christians, but have no idea that in order to be a Christian you must live like Christ did. In order to know how Christ lived you must open up your Bible and dedicate your life to understanding what it means to imitate Christ.
This brings me to my next point, that Christians, including myself, tend to neglect the Old Testament, but the fact is if you wanna know what Christ used to fend off temptation from Satan himself in Matthew Chapter 4, it was not the New Testament (cause it had not been written yet) but it was the Old! The Old Testament brings so much understanding to the character of God that we see in the New Testament. The God between both Old and New Testaments is in no way different in character attributes.
I started reading the book of Judges today because I told myself that I would make today the day in which I would open my Bible back up and just hear from God. It was one of the most refreshing, convicting, and eye-opening times that I have had with God in awhile. I rarely ever read the Old Testament and I was pretty sick and tired of myself for that so I began reading a book in the Old Testament that I have never really thoroughly read by myself, which is Judges. I have heard Sunday School story, after Sunday School story from the book of Judges, but I haven't really dove into the book like I probably should have.
While reading the book of Judges I had to stop myself many times and just wonder...why? Why is there so much war and violence coming from a people who were to be chosen by God himself and why is it that this is the same God that I now look too and define as "Love" itself?
The words of my High-School theology teacher began to echo in my brain and those words were, "The Old Testament is just the foreshadowing of the reality to come in the New Testament." Once I realized that I began to start seeing the actions of God in the old testament as just pieces of his character rather than just taking the actions at face value.
An example of this would be in Judges 1:6-7 which says, "Adoni-Bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes. And Adoni-Bezek said, 'Seventy Kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me.' And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there."
When first reading that passage I was caught off guard by the gory nature of the people of Israel and the God who led them to do such things. Taking a step back I realized that this action that took place was not just something in the flesh, but it meant more than that. The point of the whole action was so that God could follow through with his word in which he says, "Vengeance is Mine!" Yes, he had people carry out these actions for him, but in the end Adoni-Bezek did not see it as the Israelites punishing him, but he saw it as the God of Israel repaying him for his cruel actions. The point was God's glory in the midst of such of terrible things. God is righteous in his justice and who are we to say that he is not?
I also found myself caught off guard by the fact that Israelites all throughout the Old Testament are found going to war with some other nation, and each time are lead there by God. When I think about this I become immensely confused because if there is anything that we are taught in church, it is that we should not be violent with our brothers. There are even Christians who believe we should not go to war with other nations in general (another debate for another time). I then realized that if we look at the Israelites as God's people going to war in order to proclaim the Glory of their God above the other gods in world and seeking to create some sort of kingdom while still here on Earth, then we can begin to see the link between the Old and the New Testament. The God who is there for his people and causes them to go to war does the same thing today, but it is in the Spirit and it is against the flesh and those who speak false things about Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 we are taught that, "...though we walk in the flesh we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take very thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete."
I know this was a little long but it is what I believe scripture to be teaching. I know there can be a lot of confusion when it comes to scripture and what is being in taught in certain churches so I thought I might be able to come alongside and give you some advice to what I believe that word teaches. Hope you are blessed by this.
So here's the thing, right about now if you look around your neighborhoods and churches you will begin to start seeing signs up from things like salvation army, operation Christmas child, and so on and so forth. But, I want to encourage you to give. It is the Christmas season and I know that in today's economy there is not a lot of money to be spent on anyone else, let alone yourself. But, I hope that you can dig deep inside yourself and begin to see the joy that will spring from your heart and soul when you begin to care for those less fortunate than you.
At Southeastern a group of students have set up a Christmas tree inside of the lunchroom, and all around the tree are little paper ornaments with a child's name, their grade in school, and what toy they would like for Christmas.. This toy drive is not to the kids out in Africa or India, but it is for the kids who live less than five minutes down the street from our campus.. I don't know why, but for some reason whenever it has come to me giving to kids in other countries through things like Operation Christmas Child, I never seemed to really see the children as people...it is sad for me to even think about now, but I just have always heard that people in other countries needed help and therefore I would give them a little something to help them out. It has always been hard for me to grasp my mind around the pain and suffering that goes around all over the world, but what I find more saddening is the lack of desire that we have to give to those in pain who are only right down the street from us.
Many of us believe that in order to impact the world we must become missionaries, and we must go out into the world and reach others. But, we do not take that mindset and apply it to going out into our very own neighboring communities. This is where, if you are a Christian, that you are to believe that God has placed you.
Where you are - that is your missions field, that is the place in which you are too reach out and give to others also! It is important to give to those in other countries too, do not get me wrong! But, let us not forget that pain that is residing within our very own country this holiday season.
I have a little paper ornament for a third grader named Juan who wants a transformer...I have been praying for Juan everyday since I have gotten that little ornament...my heart aches for Juan because I want Juan to be loved this Christmas and I want him to see that love through a simple transformer toy. I only have about $10 to my name as of today. I sometimes feel like I am the one who needs someone to give him something for Christmas...But the words of Christ ring true in my heart, and that is that it is better to give than to receive.
So this holiday season do not be afraid to give! Give to others! Love others! Be excited to lay down your life for someone else in order that you may see their lives benefited in return. Be humbled this Christmas season and if you are having trouble with this, then do not fret because you are merely human and just like the rest of us you must pray for guidance and for the softening of your heart in order to do the will of God.
Maybe you can recall being in a classroom, noisy, lot of chattering and commotion, and the teacher is trying to get the student's attention and it's not working- not working and then finally - "QUIETT!!!"....and it is. Can you connect with that one? Alright..now imagine that worldwide and the speaker is God - that's what's going to happen. 'Be still and know that I am God'. -Mark Mullery
A quote from a Pastor who preached at covenant life church this past Sunday and his sermon was very encouraging to listen to. He helps remind the believer and non-believer alike about the sovereign and loving power of God who has his hand over his people and is faithful until the end no matter the circumstance.
I recently have found it tough to really just have that perseverant faith that I need in order to enjoy my relationship with God and bring him utmost glory and praise and this sermon in a very simple yet detailed way helped bring that back into focus for me. I love the quote that I mentioned above simply because I have never thought of God's return and his grabbing of all of the Earth's attention like that before. If there is anything I am the most familiar with it is the yelling of a school teacher at a classroom in order to get their attention. And one day I believe God will come back and silence the earth with his wonder and love. I believe he is softening my heart everyday in order that I may experience bits and pieces of this wonder and love until the day he returns, when I and all my brothers and sisters in Christ will experience it in full..
Just a little bit I wanted to share with you all. Make sure you take a listen to this or share it with friend! I do not go to this church so don't think I'm just trying to get you to become a member haha I just want you to be encouraged and excited about the power of God.
I'm going to be honest I do not have much to say tonight. I am in a very quiet and reserved mood and on top of that I have a paper and homework assignment due tomorrow that I need to get done. I wasn't even planning on writing tonight actually, then I just finished praying and spending some time with God when I realized that there was something really short and to the point that I could share.
I wanna remind you if you're a Christian about a little test you can take to see if your heart is in the right place. And, by right place I mean if you are focused on loving God and following his commands and loving others. This test is something both Christians and non-christians have heard of, but most of the time go about it in the wrong way. This test is taken through a person's prayers. If you want to see if your heart is in the right place you must pray and see the kinds of things you are praying about. A person fixed on the things of Christ does not just pray for themselves but more importantly prays for others.
This has been extremely convicting for me. today. I had a friend ask me if I had any prayer requests and I told him my requests, but as soon as I told him I realized that my requests were all "me" focused. And then, the next thing you know he told me his prayer requests and they were not just for himself, but for the broken-hearted, sick, lost in this world. When he said these prayer requests to me I just cringed cause I realized my heart needed to be in check. I need to be deeper in God's word daily, yes, but I need to be out in the world serving and loving others and looking like Christ too! I need to be desiring to imitate Christ, and that is something I have been struggling with lately, and that is simply whether or not I really truly want to live like Christ. I have the head-knowledge of who God is, but will I step out and seek to be one with Christ in action. Will I see everything as a loss in order that I might gain Christ? Will I seek to put to death the misdeeds of the body every single day? Or will I wake up every morning thinking about myself?
Just a little convicting and encouraging word for all of you out there. Seek to love God and follow his commands, and his commands are to Love him and Love Others.
Right now even as I write I am doing something that I have not done yet once while writing any other blog post on my site, and that is listen to music while I write. I usually do not do this simply because I can usually focus better with the music turnt off, but tonight is a little different. Tonight I cannot turn off the new Bruno Mar's song "Locked Out of Heaven." I'''ll be perfectly honest with you -- I absolutely love this song and somewhere out there, there is a Christian who detests me because I as a Christian love this song that talks about sex and how it has made Mr. Mars over there feel, "locked out of heaven."
I cannot pretend that I am too fond of Bruno Mar's lyrics at all, but the groove to the song and his voice? This man is talented! I am not writing this blog post to talk about how absurd Bruno Mar's lyrics are in this song, because I am a Christian and to be honest that would be too predictable and obvious, instead I wanna talk about his music video.
Although his lyrics may be a little far-fetched his music video made me remember the days when I used to watch Bruno Mars and his band behind him, The Hooligans, do mini podcasts from their tour bus while they were on tour. These guys looked like they were having so much fun! They just laughed all the time, played awesome music, and put on one heck of a show! Watching these guys play not only made me envy their talent, but it made me envy their fun. It made me want to go out and dance around on stages and sing songs and hang out with my close friends and have the time of my life!
As a Christian I feel like too much we have been held back by our churches and by ourselves quite frankly to not enjoy life and have some fun. I believe the Christian life is a mission, yes, and I believe there is work to do for the kingdom, but there is also this immense amount of emphasis on fellowship, joy and pleasure to the Glory of God, and I feel like Christians don't know how to do that. The world puts a standard that fun is only able to be had through sex, drugs, alcohol, and other adrenaline pumping and unsober-minded things. I heard the argument once that, if the only way you can have fun is through drugs, sex, and alcohol, then you probably aren't a fun person, and I couldn't agree more.
I watched the movie "Beware of Christians" this summer, which is actually a documentary following four Christian college students around Europe, and It was such a eye-opener and peaceful reminder to me that as a Christian I can joke around and just have fun with people! Why can't we dance around and go insane and do it cleanly without lust and while be of a sober mind? Why can't we have more church events that involve Christians getting together to not just sit around and talk, but PARTY. Why does the word "partying" in the church have to have negative connotations?
In Bruno Mars music there was a lot of girls and lust and blah blah blah, but there were scenes of him and his boys just hanging out and performing and dancing all over the stage and I just sit here and envy that so much...I want to dance. I want to go insane with friends. I want to laugh until my stomach hurts and I know that this can be done to the glory of God. In purity. In right-mind. In grace. And in excitement.
I'm just venting a little here cause I really enjoy just having a good time, and I loved helping DJ dances in Highschool because to honest I love most of all helping others to have a good time! I love being able to perform in front of people, and I love being able to write for other people, if that means a little added enjoyment in their life! Because I believe joy is a strict attribute through the spirit of God that needs to be experienced in the Christian life or else the Christian begins to suffer to not look like Christ, but rather like the world that can only seek to have immediate pleasure. The great thing about being a Christian is that we can take the things of the world like dances and parties and we can enjoy them and yes receive some sort of immediate pleasure, but through Christ we receive the knowledge that this goes far beyond the dance but for all eternity cause it helps benefit your soul and souls in which you have fellowshipped with during your experience.
I hope all that made sense! I kinda am rushing to get to Chapel on time! I know there are a lot of grammatical errors probably too, but I'll take care of that after chapel! Thanks for reading!
Alright, I'm gonna keep this simple and straight to the point.....if you're a guy and do not have close guy friends......get them. They are key to your success as a man! And more importantly, if you're a christian guy and do not have close christian guy friends..............GET THEM!
I cannot explain how much of a blessing my guy friends back home in Maryland and my Guy friends here in Lakeland, Florida at Southeastern University are to me! The other day me and a couple of guys at Southeastern got together and decided after the men's basketball game, which Southeastern sadly lost, we would get together and have a small little Bible study! When we got together we did not know necessarily what book we should read, but we got together prayed and decided we would, first and foremost all the Holy Spirit to work in us and guide our talk, but also we would go around and talk about how each one of us had been doing in our relationship with God.
Somehow, I am not quite sure how, but we all got on the topic of lust and pornography. A nasty dirty topic that too many people and Christians seek to avoid, and yet we began talking about our struggles with this and it was encouraging to be a part of! A group of guys gathered together with one common ground, which is Christ is amazing, but a group of guys gathered together with one common ground, which is Christ and their sin, is life-changing! Each one of us, by the grace of God were able to be transparent with each other and honest about our faults and failures, and we knew we would not judge each other because we each knew we had Christ and at the forefront of our minds!
Getting involved with a group of people who are going to encourage your walk with God is incredible! Yes, co-ed Bible studies are amazing! I believe people she keep doing them! But, at the same time, do not simply have those only because there are things that girls deal with that guys cannot fully comprehend and there are things guys deal with that girls cannot fully comprehend!
Get some friends of the same sex and encourage each other and keep each other accountable! We will have a much more pure and strong male and female population if more people are secure in who they are in Christ, and I believe this comes through spending more time with those who also are at the same common ground as you are in Christ!
Hope this all made sense! Just a little word I had on my heart and something I wanted to express!
Here's a video of me and my boys back home in Maryland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m1W5jPy8DQ&list=UU1gKjXLObb4z5NfL13q4MSw&index=2&feature=plcp