The Ultimate Gift

•December 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s something about this time of year.

Christmas time.

A time for family and friends.

A time for giving.

A time for good food, and holiday music.

Peace and love on earth, and good will towards men.

Christmas time can be all of these.

But what if you have no family? No friends?

What if you have nothing to give, and nothing to be given?

Homeless? Without food?

Stuck in a constant battle with others?

Alone, with no one to love you?

Christmas time is all of these for some people as well.

Maybe right now, You know someone who is hurting.

Someone who is in need.

Maybe you are the one who is hurting…who needs help.

Its so easy to get wrapped up in the material driven Christmas.

The Christmas that calls us to pursue our own needs, and comforts.

Christmas is a time for us to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ.

Our Messiah.

Our Savior.

Our God.

God’s ultimate sacrifice. The propitiation for all mankind. Born of a Virgin in a manger. Born with a purpose. (John 3:16)

To fulfill the will of the Father.

When Christ died on the cross He defeated death. He defeated sin. He bridged the gap that separated mankind from spending eternity in the presence of God.

So for all those hurting, in this broken world…for all those suffering hardships and persecution… for all those who feel alone and helpless, there is hope.

God’s love for mankind is shown to us in His Son, and in the promise of the future restoration of all creation.

For God will return the world to it’s original sinless state, where the lion and the lamb are at peace. Where mankind will live forever in the presence of God. (Revelation 21:1)

Yes this world is full of pain and hurt. But we are promised that in this new creation, that God will wipe away every tear. We will live in His warm embrace, when God’s plan is completely fulfilled. (Revelation 21:4)

So take comfort. God is there. He is waiting for you to turn towards Him. He is waiting, to embrace you, and wipe away your tears.

To give away your life, is to gain it eternally.

God’s presence. The ultimate present. The ultimate gift.

God's embrace

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Sharing in our Struggles

•December 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“Does anyone have any prayer requests?”

The question is asked, but you stay silent, even though as soon as it is asked something comes to mind.

Why?

We are we so willing to listen to others’ hardships and pray for them but won’t share our struggles?

Sometimes its a matter of pride. We don’t want to share our struggles because we don’t want to let others know. Or maybe we don’t think we need others’ help. We hold onto our pride.

Sometimes it’s because we feel our problems, our struggles are too small, or insignificant. This can be especially true when sharing in a group, and someone shares a particularly difficult struggle with the group. How can we ask for prayer now? After he said that? After she asked us to pray for that?

Romans 12:15 tells us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” In this chapter Paul describes the body of believers as sharing family affection and brotherly love. We are to be as a family. The family of God.

Doesn’t a family rejoice with one another? Doesn’t a family weep with one another? Struggle with one another? Isn’t that how a family should be?

We need to be there for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. But we also need to let go of our pride, and let them help us with our struggles. If no one is willing to share, then no one will be able to help each other.

We must also realize that if we aren’t asking others to pray for our struggles, what then does that say about what we think of prayer? If we believe that prayer works, wouldn’t we want our friends and family to be praying for us?

Be ready to pray for each other, to comfort each other, to weep with one another.

Be ready to share with each other.

Because sometimes, you’re the one who needs to be heard.

You’re the one who needs prayer.

You’re the one who needs to be comforted.

prayer group

The Devil Made Me Do It

•December 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“The devil made me do it.”

We have all heard it before, perhaps even said it ourselves.

It’s the idea that Satan used his great skill of temptation on us; to make us do some terrible sin. Satan, we all know, is the great deceiver, the father of lies, the god of this world.

We know that Satan is a deceiver. We see him lying and tempting people in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden, he tempts Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He tempts Christ, as we can read about in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

We also know that he is our enemy. We who are Christians, are the Body of Christ. When Christians are doing the will of God, it makes the devil angry, and he will work to try and stop us from doing so.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
—1 Peter 5:8-9

But can we really claim then “The devil made me do it?” Is this an acturate statement?

Personally, this sense of thinking has always made me cringe. There is just so much wrong with the thinking that Satan, or his demons make us sin.

It’s our favorite game as human beings. The Blame Game. We love to blame someone, or something else for our actions. Our own sins. That is what this kind of thinking is all about. I am not responsible for my own actions, the devil tempted me, and he’s to blame.

This is so wrong! All men are sinners. Not one of us is blameless. Romans 3:23 tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory.

Neither the demons, nor the devil himself can make us do anything. They are tempters, we are the doers.

We make the choice to sin out of our own desires.

And what about the tempting itself? Every time we are tempted, does that mean that Satan or a demon is hovering over our shoulder, whispering in our ear? Are the devil and his demons the catalyst for our temptations?

tempting

So how can a demon tempt us?

Can a demon tempt us to steal? Can they tempt us to sin sexually? Can they tempt us to physically harm, or even murder someone?

During the Sermon on the Mount, Christ speaks on the Law. He touches on adultery and murder.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do Not Commit Adultery.’ But I am indeed saying to you that every one who looks at a woman to want her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Now if your right eye causes you to stumble into sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble into sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should go into hell.”

—Matthew 5:27-30

According to Christ, it is not only a sin for us to commit adultery, but also the thought of adultery. Lustful thoughts towards anyone who we are not married to is a sin.

You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell.”

Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus tells us that not only murder is a sin, but also angry thoughts toward your brother. Christ is of course, not simply talking about your actual brother. He is also not saying that anger is a sin. Christ himself became angry. What he is saying are those angry thoughts, the ones where you wish ill or harm on someone, or the insults that you throw at other people are also sins.

Stealing we know is the 7th commandment that the Lord gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. When it comes to stealing, why would someone steal? Because they covet something. They want something that is not theirs. Thou shall not Covet. This is the 9th commandment.

So, if it is a sin for us to not only steal, but to covet as well, how can a demon tempt us to steal? If it is a sin for us to not only commit adultery, but to lust as well, how can a demon tempt us to commit sexual sins? If it is a sin for us to not only murder, but to have angry, harmful thoughts towards others as well, how can a demon tempt us to physically harm someone? If demons can’t make us sin, how can they tempt us to commit adultery when placing a lustful thought in our heads is making us sin?

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
—James 1:14

James tells us that our temptation comes from our own desires. We are tempted to sin because we desire to sin ourselves. We are tempted to steal because we desire to have what is not ours. We are tempted to commit adultery because we have lust in our hearts. We are tempted to murder because we have anger and hate in our own hearts. It is, as Jesus say in the Sermon on the Mount, our own hand that makes us sin.

We need to stop playing the blame game, and fess up to our own actions and sins. We are the sinners, we are responsible for our own sins, and we are the ones in need of forgiveness.

Kronk

Creed of the Cross

•December 9, 2011 • 2 Comments
For any who cared to see it,
here’s my Creed that I made in my theology class…

Perfect.

Perfect God.

Perfect Creation.

Out of Nothing, He makes Everything.

Space

Earth

Sun

Land

Sky

Plant

Animal

MAN

WOMAN

Man. Created in His Image.

God loves Man. Man walks with God.

Man wants more. Man wants to be God. Man falls to temptation. Man disobeys God.

Perfection is Gone. Enter Sin. Death are it’s Wages. Cain and Abel. Tower. Sodom.

Hope still Remains in the Darkness. God STILL Loves Man.Light shines through.

Born of a Virgin, sound asleep in a Manger.God Incarnate, and found in Human likeness.

Jesus the Christ.The Messiah.The Son of God. The Fulfillment of the Law.

Nailed to A Cross. Sent to Die for You, Me, Mankind. Atonement For Our Sins. It is Finished.

Laid in the Tomb, Only to Break Free of Deaths Grasp on the Third Day! Death where is your Victory?

Jesus is the Way,  the Truth, the Life. He is the One and Only Path to God. Follow the Son, Be With the Father.

Holy Spirit in us shall Dwell. The Body of Christ, his hands and feet. Go and Tell it to All the Nations. 

He is Coming again.God’s plan will be fulfilled. Evil will be Vanquished. Jesus will take seat on the Throne.

New Heavens, and Earth. The Tree of Life waiting across the River. Eternal life with Christ Our King. Perfection.

Scattered Round

•December 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Many roads I’ve traveled upon

All I search for, the place where I belong,

And through it all, I’ve lost myself,

And now I can never go home.

My soul,

Got up and ran away in the wind

My whole,

Left shattered and never to be mended again

And I know it was pointless to fight,

But I chased my soul in the dead of the night

But it ran much quicker than me

And I knew it was free.

My heart,

Gone in the night just like my counterpart,

Lady dressed in blue,

The more that she teased the more my love grew

But she cared nothing for me,

And soon I would hopelessly see

She’d leave me with my broken heart,

And my cold memories.

My mind,

The last straw keeping this man doing time

Oh Sanity,

A blessing for others, but a curse upon me

I am tired and cold

And can no longer stand being left all alone

So the gun in my hand I slowly lift to my head,

And I promise myself that soon I’ll be dead,

The torments of memories from the life I once lead,

To be forgotten and never thought of again.

But an angel appeared to me in the middle of the night,

And said, “Be strong friend, you’ll be alright,

For your father he knows all of your pain,

And he cries to hear you think that your life is in vain,

Just remember my son

The bullet can’t be undone

And the Lord says stand up and be strong,

Time will heal your wounds, it won’t be too long

For God still has plans for you.”

My faith,

Rekindled in the morning when soon I did wake.

My pistol lay there on the ground

But no sign of the bullets…

That I left scattered round.

prayer

Thank You God

•November 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Thank you God, for the good and the bad,

For the blessings I’ve lost, and for the ones that I have,

For the greatest of Enemies and the Closest of Friends,

For holding me close at the darkest of ends,

Thank you God for the rise and decline,

But most of all, Thank you for Your Will, and not mine…

water

Heart Driven Spontaneity

•November 3, 2011 • 3 Comments

A common criticism that I hear today of the church is of it’s rigid structure of Sunday morning services. Every Sunday is planned so strictly making no room for error. Sunday morning comes, and there is a very structured process. Greeting, Sing 3 songs, collect offerings, make announcements, sermon from the Pastor, closing song. Interruptions are given annoyed looks. No questions are asked. The Pastor talks week after week. The congregation listens week after week. Spontaneity is frowned upon.

I share the same grievance in this area as many people do.

First let me say I understand structure, and the importance of it. We need structure. Especially as Americans. The American society revolves around structure. Most of us, whether we think so or not, work better with time structure. Sunday morning service having a set time is important. As Americans we just work better with this. Most people also need a specific, stable meeting place. The local church building provides that.

That being said, I also understand this postmodern generation’s longing for unstructured, spontaneous church. While structure is important it can also be an enemy to growth and to authenticity. As the Body of Christ we need to be constantly helping each other through our spiritual walks and growing with each other. Structured Church leaves most of the congregation silent (with the exception of songs) for the entire service. The rigid structure that is seen in many churches also can many times come off as fake and unreal, whether that is the case or not. Structure is Mind Driven.

Spontaneity is Heart Driven. Spontaneity is a member of the congregation raising his hand, or even calling out a question in the middle of the Pastors sermon, because they disagree with something that he said, wants to affirm it, or doesn’t understand it, and because they want to grow, they ask to understand. Spontaneity is a member of the church standing up and requesting a song to be sung, because they feel moved to sing that song in worship to God. Spontaneity is the man in the back row, interrupting the service, because something has been triggered inside of him to ask the congregation to pray for him, because he has been struggling with his daughter’s death. Spontaneity is that sudden urge to share what God wants you too, with your Christian family, at that moment, because you know that is what God is calling on you to do.

One of the most touching moments in all the times I have visited Church, was at my home church of Eastport.  Right before Pastor Charlie goes up to start his sermon, a member of our church, Ferdez, interrupts the service to ask if she can sing a song to her mother, who is visiting from Costa Rico. Ferdez’s mother doesn’t speak much English, and Ferdez wanted to sing a worship song that she would understand. With no music to back her up, Ferdez stands up in front of the church, and sings a Spanish worship song, with tears streaming down her face, as well as her mothers.

What a Powerful Moment.

It’s in moments like these that as you can’t help but smile, you know that God cannot help but smile either.

At my home church, my favorite Church service, is the annual thanksgiving service. Hands down. We spend sometime in worship, and then Pastor Charlie addresses the couple of mics  set up around the sanctuary. The Rest of the service is open to anyone from the congregation to get up and share what they are thankful for. The following is a slew of testimonies, prayers, and offerings of praise and thanksgivings. Every year, when Pastor Charlie says the closing prayer, I have tears in my eyes, and I am not alone in this. It is such an amazing thing to hear the wonders, miracles and blessings that God places in the lives of my fellow Christians. Everything shared is spontaneous. And Everything shared is beautiful.

We need more of this in our Church. We need flexible structure. We should have a structure to our services, but we shouldn’t rely on our planned services more than the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to encourage questions to be asked. Sermons with feedback and discussion? This would only promote growth.We need Spontaneous requests for song, Impulsive times of prayer, and Unprompted testimonies that go along with the Sermon.

We also, in my opinion, need our Pastors to step down from the pulpit every now and then, and hand over the mic to members of the congregation. So many stories of God’s provision and love are wasted, because we never give them a chance to be shared. So many members of the Body are never asked to share their story. So many members are never asked to pray. Tell individual members of the church how you would love it if they prayed that week at church. Start letting the Church share with the Church. Start letting the Church get to know the Church. Allow God to use the stories he has written for his Glory.

In my honest opinion, A Pastor who is in the pulpit every week…is not doing his job.

Flexible Church Structure. Spontaneous Church. Think about it. Do it.

church