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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Love

I support loving people as they try to figure out God. I support Christians who understand grace and forgiveness. As a fellow brother in Christ, I urge my fellow believers to stop being cruel and judgemental and stop engaging in culture wars. Allow people the freedom to understand and grow. Love people for who they are and where they are at so that they may experience the Love of Christ.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22: 37-40

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Advent – Day 14

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But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6 (ESV)

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Advent – Day 1

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.

Luke 1:16-17 (ESV)

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Sunday, December 2 is the first day of advent (the time of waiting for the coming of the Christ). I can’t think of anyway to bring in the season but with the Advent concert by Future of Forestry. I see this show almost every year and I’m excited to be going again with my friends. I had a wonderful Fall and I anticipate Winter and the Advent season will be no different. It’s such a special time for me – the anticipation of the Savior to come redeem this fallen world. FOF really captures this in their version of these holiday songs.

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I really enjoyed seeing many of the Olympians in London give God praise and honor for their victories. Many did this despite being on a big stage with a huge television audience. As Christians, God puts us all in positions to share our testimony or witness to others. This morning I got up and heard Christian music in my living room. This guy that is staying with me was on his knees with his eyes closed and hands in the air. At first I though it was a bit too much, but then I immediately felt conviction. How often do I praise God like this? I got my heart straight with God at church and gave him thanks for putting this guy in my life to encourage me in my own walk.

I got on Facebook briefly tonight and saw this picture all over the place. It was like a huge celebrity showed up in town. A guy named Paul Jr was speaking at my old church. I will be honest with you.. I don’t know who this guy is. But there were enough people at a church excited about this guy that I felt I should know him. Apparently Paul Jr is a new Christ follower and he has a great testimony. I think he appeals to bikers and to those who don’t know Christ that watch his show – God will use anyone to share the gospel. But I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit I don’t always see the “attraction” model of church and their ways of reaching the community as effective.

Western churches and the mega church have become a big thing here in the U.S. It fits todays culture of serve as many people as can. The “attraction” model church believes in luring as many people through the door (advertisement, billboards, guest speakers, etc) as you can and hope somewhere within an hour service (but not too much than that because we wouldn’t want to bore people) someone will hear about Jesus. Now I don’t have a problem with preaching to the masses. Jesus did it and Peter preached a sermon that saw thousands come to Christ. I have been to crusades that many came forward and received Christ. But the problem comes with discipleship and the process of sanctification. I personally see the ‘attractive’ model as giving only a prelude to the what the gospel can truly do for someone who desperately needs Christ. Very rarely do you see much put into growing the members of their church within their ‘programs’.

I’m not bashing the church today. I attended a mega church for years and spent most of my Christian walk comfortably sitting behind the church walls waiting for people to walk through the door to witness to. I bought into this and saw churches with small attendances as ineffective. But today I have seen more effectiveness in my own witnessing outside the church in the community. Churches today scratch their heads at the lack of tithing. They want to know why Christians have a higher divorce rate and why we put more effort into our accomplishments at work than in our time with God. They see the numbers grow but they aren’t seeing the maturity. Are churches today putting too much time and effort in their gimmicky flashy ways of talking about Jesus and not enough in the A to Z gospel sanctification process? Is the gospel message not attractive enough? I’ve always been cautious of throwing immature Christians in the spotlight (especially celebrities) to be the God story of the week – even though their stories can be inspiring. What happens when our golden boy spokesman Tim Tebow that we created blows it someday? Then the non-believers laugh at us and the judgemental Christians annihilate him (and I personally know all about this..). All I know is that I felt Paul Jr and his bikes got a lot more glory and honor than Jesus today (and mainly from Christians of this church that claim to already know Jesus) and I saw a lot of church leaders patting themselves on their backs for the big numbers that came in. True gospel change can be a slow and long process and I personally would like to see more emphasis put into that than smokes and billboards. Broken people need people to walk alongside them and show them love without any judgement. Jesus preached to the masses, but He spent most of His time with the few teaching and training them to be true disciples. These are just questions that come to mind from my own experiences in the flashy church. Despite the ‘great things’ I did and patted myself on the back for, I still ultimately needed Jesus for change.

We have a broken world out there with hurting broken people. We as Christians need to go out there and find them, not sit back and wait for them to come to us.

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I spent my whole night with God tonight in front of this candle. I’m at a place in my life where God and I just talk all the time. I had a very interesting week this week. I shared my story with someone I deeply care about Saturday night and it got me processing a lot about where I am at in my walk. God’s really pulling me out into the community to share the gospel and my testimony to others. The brokenness of this jacked up world is really weighing on my heart. I really care and love people  and I find myself hurting for them. It kills me to see people make the choice of turning from God when Satan throws his punches our way.

Church for me exists in the world. Sundays are great for fellowship and teaching, but I’m growing in my walk meeting with people out in the surrounding community. Tonight I spent hours in the smoky atmosphere of Coffee Rush with a brother that just went through divorce. It’s a shitty thing for anyone to have to ever go through and I feel for this guy cuz he has little kids. But what an encouraging night that came from hanging out with him. God used me to impact his life in our short time together and he in turn was a blessing to me. I knew of him when he was married and was always encouraged when I saw his family. But then last summer I saw him at a small group alone with a look in his face that was all too familiar. I knew right then and there his marriage was over and I felt for him. But hearing him speak of his desire to cling to Christ through this tough time made me knew that God was going to take care of him. Tonight we had the opportunity to meet for the first time.

What an amazing turnaround God has done in his life! God is really working in this guy. I’m not saying that life is easy for him – he’s lonely, he’s struggling with lust and finances. Yet he has peace because he knows God is going to pull him through this. That’s God!!!! He doesn’t let go. We can have peace and hope because he is our anchor when life sucks. He is ever faithful and true and we can cling to hope when disaster comes. I love this verse from Hebrews..

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  – Hebrews 6:19

I’ve gone through more pain and trials since coming to Christ than when I lived life without him. Coming to Christ doesn’t guarantee things will get easy. But when we surrender our lives to him, He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us and we can have peace in that. He is the anchor to our souls and we can navigate through the crap when we cling to the cross. I have experienced the type of trials that can destroy a man. But at the same time I can honestly say that I am where I am today because of Jesus Christ. His grace and love for me are the only things that got me where I am today. I don’t fear man or this world because God continues to show me that he will bring me through whatever I go through and give me exactly what I need. What an amazing God we have!

Tonight I saw my new friend and the power of what God can do when we turn to Him. This guy turned to the cross of Christ – the place where God loves us and where Jesus shows us that he understands what we are going through. And now his testimony will be used to change the lives of others who are experiencing trouble. This guy prayed for me and told me how much meeting me impacted his life in a short few hours. I laugh because I feel the same way about him. He was a light to me tonight and a reminder of who God is when life beats us down. I love how the body of Christ is used to encourage each other.

Tonight I realized where God wants me after spending some time with Him. I know a big part of that is being out in the secular world and serving these men that are struggling and going through painful situations. I get pain and I don’t fear it. Jesus is my rock and I’m secure in that and pain has always brought me closer to him. People call me modern-day Job or whatever, but they also know that Christ is my foundation and the trials of life just make me cling to Christ. I want to share that and proclaim that to others. God may allow freedom in this world, but He doesn’t lose control. He knows what we go through and he offers himself as a source of hope to overcome it.

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I had a great day at church today. Chris mentioned that it was Missio Dei’s 4th anniversary, which means it been one year since I started coming here. My friend Shauna took me to Missio’s 3 year anniversary party at a park and that is how I got started. I am thankful for the friends and family I made here. It’s been a blessing.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Hebrews 12:1-2

Speaking of Shauna, she once asked me about a year ago if our loved ones that have passed on can see and watch what we do here on earth. Shauna’s husband had passed away a couple of years ago. I did a little research for her and remember hearing this passage preached and told her it was all I could find. I’m thankful Chris preached on it because I now stand corrected (and would like to correct that Pastor that told me about it too).

Some people think cloud of witnesses refers to those that have passed away and are now in heaven cheering us on. But I forgot to take notice of the word therefore, which refers to the chapter before. Chapter 11 is a chapter talking about all the amazing people in the Bible that have endured the struggles of the Christian walk and have run the race with their focus on Jesus. The cloud of witnesses refers to them and how we are to look to them as examples. We are also part of a bigger story and are to lay aside our weights (the thing that hinder us – which can be good things too) so we also can continue to run the race. Our focus is always to be on Jesus as we move forward in life with endurance. The gospel as he puts it will “leave you encouraged to run because of what Christ has done on the cross, the freedom He gave you to run in the resurrection, and the power that you have to run in the Holy Spirit.”

I’m glad Chris had us take time to evaluate our own lives and the things we may need to cast aside. It gave me opportunities to sit and re-evaluate where I am at in my own life and what I need to be focused on. He also really stressed to have Godly examples that are living their lives for the Lord that we can look to for encouragement. I am thankful to have quite a few older Godly men that I meet with weekly to learn and grow from.

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