Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thirty Three

            It is exactly 1am as I write this now.  I’ve been working on our kitchen remodel all day: specifically prepping and laying the new floor.  I just now climbed into bed after washing my face and brushing my teeth.

            To put lay out my thoughts simply, I’m thinking about Jesus.  Jesus, my Savior and my God, only lived on this earth for thirty three years.  And yet, what He accomplished in that time (really, only three years of that time) is still rocking the world to its foundation to this day.  I’ve got fifteen years until I reach that age. Obviously, Jesus was on a different mission than we are today, but it still makes me wonder:  If we’re to be living by the example that Jesus set forth, how are we accomplishing that?  Clearly it’s not rejecting Christ’s example if we decide to get married or move out before we’re thirty, but how are we planning to establish our life around the kind of ministry that He carried out?  If you were to die at thirty three, what could you say that you did for the sake of the gospel?  What, as a friend recently asked me, would you want people to say about you at your funeral?  That last question (in many forms) has become a cliché.  But should it be?  I believe that we as a culture have become unacceptably earth minded.  As if life ends here.  You can only take one thing to Heaven with you, and that’s souls.  Are you going to hoard the gospel to yourself?  How many people are you going to take to Heaven with you? 

            Jesus lived to thirty three.  You expect to live longer, but can you really guarantee that? 
            Jesus changed the world forever in three years.  God just might use you to change it in a lifetime.  It’s not as far fetched as you might think.  Do you trust God?  Or are you so prideful as to think that God doesn’t know better than you what He can and can’t use?

            Do you TRUST Him?  How much?  a day?  a month? a year?  how about a lifetime? 

I say go for the big one!  I’ll go with you all. the. way.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Harold Camping Got Right

            While we’re all laughing or shaking our heads at Harold Camping for thinking he knew the day and hour of Judgment Day (which the scriptures clearly state is impossible), let us pause for a moment, let the atheists take over the mockery of our faith and those that claim to follow it, and reflect on just one aspect of Camping’s message and practice.

            He was 100% right when he said that Judgment Day is coming.  It most certainly is.  Assuming that he honestly and truly believed that it was coming on May 21st, what can we learn from him?  The thing that jumps to my mind rather quickly is his complete devotion.  We know that it is a tragedy that his life has fallen apart in vain.  However, what is something that he did right?  He completely devoted his life to telling the world that Jesus was coming.  He spared no expense, counted all as loss, and chased what he thought was a calling with all his might.  Can we say that we advance the gospel with even half that passion?  Can we say that we are willing to truly count this life as loss, take up our cross and follow Him to the ends of the earth?  Are we even willing to take a laugh to our face when we try to save someone’s soul?  Are you willing to give your life for the sake of the One who gave it to you in the first (and second) place?

            Harold Camping gave all he had to tell the world a lie: why can’t we even come close to that kind of devotion for the truth?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Gospel of Great Price

           I was at a car wash today, and the way our car wash worked, we received money on a donation basis; people give whatever they want to.  As I was standing on the sidewalk (waving a sign, dancing to my iPod), I found myself thinking “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we witnessed to people as we washed their cars?”  Well, the very next thought to pop into my head was “oh, but if they don’t like that, they might give us less…”  The moment that thought ran through my mind, I realized the folly of what I was thinking:  what price do I put on the gospel, and what am I actually willing to sacrifice for it?  The very fact that such a thought occurred (regardless of how fast it was corrected) points to an unacceptable deficiency in my faith that hides in the dark recesses of my heart.  Is the $15.00 that someone might give really worth more than the seed that I could plant in that person’s life?  The flesh would have me think that it is.  After all, my future is secure: I’m going to heaven. 
How far are we willing to take this?  Does the Christian walk end at salvation?  If so, why don’t we get taken up to heaven right away, and spare all this misery here on earth?  Seriously, let’s face it, life is good because God is good, but sometimes (if not lots of the time) life can be an incredible drag.  Answer:  we are here on earth because we have a mission.  The mission is not getting closer to God (however, the mission will never reach its full potential without that), no, that is only the means.  Really, we would get a whole lot closer to God a whole lot faster in His presence.  The mission, my friends, is to build His kingdom on earth.  Building Christ’s kingdom on earth looks like at least a percentage of the two billion people on earth that claim the name “Christian” stepping up to the plate, giving up their selfish pride, and going and living the great commission.

What is the Gospel worth to you?  $15.00?  $100.00?  Your life?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What She Will Be

            For those who might ask, no, I don't plan on writing about marriage and relationships all the time.  But a blog is a place for thoughts, right?  
           I wrote this in my journal.  I felt for some reason that I should share it:

10:15am, May 17th, 2011

Not even knowing who my wife will be, of these things I am certain:

She will be loved, but not smothered.
She will be cared for, but not spoiled.
She will be protected, but not caged.
She will be blessed, but not worshiped.
She will be a source of pride, but not touted as a prize or an idol.
She will be led by example, but not a bad one.
She will be indescribably beautiful, even if only in my eyes and God’s.
She will be praised, but not lied to.
She will be told the truth, even the hard truth when necessary, but always in love.
She will be led in the nurture and admonition of the LORD, but not treated as a child.
She will be listened to with an open heart and mind, not a closed one.
She will be a woman with her own desires, and they will not be overlooked.
She will be valued above the most precious treasures; all but the Lordship of Christ.
She will be supported in raising a godly family, not abandoned in such a crucial battle.
She will be my first priority in life, not shelved for the sake of my own desires.
She will be constantly reminded of my love for her, but not with lifeless repetition.
She will be a beacon of hope to all, and will never lack the admiration of her husband.
She will be given hope and love, especially in the hardest times of her life.
She will be given children who are taught to love and respect her.
She will be loved by me as Christ loved the church.
She will be the love of my life.


She will be all that and so much more.  Lord, be with me as I seek to provide.

“Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”
~Proverbs 30:29~30

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What is the Gospel?

     This video was a really unique and profound look at the Gospel.  While I disagree with the notion that to reach a lost world, we must drop to their level and adopt their lifestyle, I feel that the man in this video entirely communicates an incredible passion for God while he communicates it in a manner that a certain demographic will be comfortable with. 
       I do believe that there is a difference between speaking their language (as long as the language does not compromise you faith), and living their life.

"Like, like" and Where I Stand

            This is a dangerous post.  I may even end up removing it; but as of 5:38pm on May the 17th 2011, this is what is on my mind (and that is what blogs are for, no?)

            Oh, the ever-common question: “Who do you like?”  I give my typical response, ::big smile::  “Oh, I like lots of people!” “No, no, no!  Who do you like, as in ‘like like’?”

I’ve had this short conversation a few times recently (even once today), as if now that I’m 18 I must be pursuing some sort of relationship.  Well, the truth is, I am:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” “trust in the LORD with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  These Words have taken on a whole new meaning to me as the concept and reality of marriage draws nearer with every passing year.  Who could she be, and when will I know?  Frankly, I know a lot of really great, God-fearing girls, and a personal attempt to answer these questions could seem rather daunting.  However, I know only one God, and He loves me with an unbelievable passion, and He went to Hell and back and worse for me, just so that He could call me son.  He did all that and so much more, is there even anyone else who comes close?  The answer is no.  With that in mind, I have full confidence that learning to love Him, learning to trust Him, learning to follow Him, and learning to let His love shine through me will bring me to a place of readiness and maturity that is required of marriage. 
You can never fully love another person if I do not have a passionate love for Christ.  How can you have one without the other?

So many guys value the one half of being "ready": having a job, a car, a "plan", and maybe even a decent savings.  But to truly be ready, to truly be a man worth marrying, the most important part of maturity is having a loving and strong relationship with Jesus Christ.  Becoming "ready" is no small task: Take it seriously, men.  It's time to take our "manly" responsibilities and apply some of that "hard work" to building a strong foundation for your future family that will hold strong throughout the worst storms.  Don't act like a man, BE a man.

For those of you who might ask, yes, I want to get married.  Put simply (but honestly), I am absolutely dying to get married.  If I didn’t only have $32 to my name, I might be just a little tempted to run down the streets looking for anybody (I love that part in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!).  But I know that there is a chance I will spend the vast majority of life as a married man, and if that is indeed the case, I want to spend this short time here as an effort to make those years as good as possible.  It’s like a small picture of how we should live on earth:  We’re only here for a very short time when you consider the immensity of eternity. (assuming that you don’t want to go to Hell,) we can only take on thing with us to Heaven: souls, and the life of faith that it takes to lead them to Christ.  Are we willing to spend this moment on earth serving ourselves and saving no one?
Back to what I was saying, I want to be as ready as possible so that when the time comes, I can dial that number or knock on that door with full confidence that I am working within the Will of God.  I don’t have to look for her.  If you’re traveling, and the person in the seat next to you is reading the map, you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to get there; you just need to follow the directions of your guide and trust that they will bring you to the right place.  You can’t just trust God in one thing (read my earlier post Go Bold or Go Home) and say “oh yeah, I’m trusting Him to bring her to me.”  You need to live a life of faith, and only then will you be able to confidently hear and understand the Voice of God in regards to His will in any part of your life.

So to answer the “like, like” question, I love Jesus Christ passionately, and am enjoying such a relationship.  However, I am still looking forward to the day that I am formally introduced to the girl that I’ll be blessed enough to share in the love of Christ with forever.

Friday, May 6, 2011

If I Stand

          This is one of my all time favorite songs.  It’s just not the same without hearing it sung, but the lyrics paint such incredible word pictures all by themselves.  The chorus is a way of living; a beautiful one that lives and breathes for God.
   I would definitely encourage you to look this song up:


If I Stand ~ Rich Mullins

There’s more that rises in the morning than the sun
And more that shines in the night than just the moon
There’s more than just this fire here that keeps me warm
And a shelter that is larger than this room

And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper that mere sentiment
And a music higher than the songs that I can sing
Stuff of earth competes for the allegiance
 I owe only to the Giver of all good things
So if I stand, let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to you

And if I sing, let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep, let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home
And there’s more that dances on the prairies than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean than the tide
There’s a love that is fiercer than the love between friends:
More gentle than a mothers, when her baby’s at her side

And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper that mere sentiment
And a music higher than the songs that I can sing
Stuff of earth competes for the allegiance
 I owe only to the Giver of all good things
So if I stand, let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to you

And if I sing, let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep, let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Gospel According to Hollywood?

           Something that I have encountered numerous times over the years is our tendency to “Christianize” everything.  We want everything to have at least a ring of Christian moral to it so that we can feel better about it.
            In this age of media, and confusion about who we really are as beings, and why we are really here, there has been a large increase of films that pose these questions in ways that are supposed to make us think.  To many, this seems good.  “Yes! We want them searching!  Now we have a way of communicating with them in a way that they relate to.”  News flash:  humanity has been searching for the answer to our existence for far longer than films have been the “answer.” 
            How many times have I had to hear about The Matrix?  Yes, I’m sure you could find some way to make the plot sound just like the sinners walk to redemption, but really, if the people are already searching for the answer, why not go to them and give it to them straight up?  Why do we need Hollywood shoving their post-humanist agenda into our minds while the weak among us water it down by showing us the “moral” of the film.  Another news flash:  Hollywood did not invent morals:  God did. 
Why, in this age of unbelievable opportunities for communication, are we searching so desperately for any way to reach the lost besides just going ourselves?  We’re taking movies that were made by lost people and saying “yeah, hey, you’ve got it mostly right!”  How did the Apostle Paul do it?  He packed his bag and he walked.  Nothing could keep him from spreading the gospel; not being imprisoned, not being beaten, not even being stoned.  He was finally beheaded because he dared to simply walk and talk, and evangelize almost the entire civilized world.  Sometimes things are best done the old fashioned way.
Yes, we can find morals in Hollywood: but is that where we should be looking for nutrition to build a solid spiritual backbone?  And yes, you can find shreds or chunks of the gospel message interwoven in the plots, but is that really the best way to lead people to Christ?

Which gospel will you preach?  The gospel according to God’s inspired Word, or the gospel according to Hollywood?

The Great Commission and the Holy Distraction.

            The Great Commission:  Go ye and prepare for marriage, find a godly spouse, be fruitful and multiply, and make your home an embassy for Christ’s kingdom.

            Whoops, we seem to have this turned around.

            The last time I checked, the Great Commission went something like this:  “All authority on earth and in heaven has been given to me [Jesus Christ]:  Go therefore and preach the gospel unto every creature, making disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you, baptizing them in the Holy Spirit.
            Cryptic words from our Lord.  What could he have meant?  The last command that we received from our Lord is one that we seem to have the hardest time following.
            In my church culture, we are obsessed with the family.  We love marriage, and we love children.  That, my friend, is a beautiful thing.  Far be it from me to say that I have anything against that.  To be totally open and honest, I am absolutely dying to get married and start a family.  If I thought I could be well married THIS year, I would bust my tail to get it done!  Here is where I have one holdback on our focus.
            It seems to me that we drive the goal of marriage and family so hard, that we as youth spend every waking hour preparing for that day.  I am totally guilty of this.  What we need to remember is that while, yes, a family is an incredible evangelical tool, God still uses individuals.  Life is far too short to spare any time on our terms.  The last order we received from our commander and chief was “go!”  Young Mormons are required to spend a minimum of two years in overseas missionary work.  Why cant we even manage half of that within our own neighborhood?  We’re being beaten at our own game!  We have no time to spare: thousands of people die every single day without ever hearing the NAME of Jesus Christ!  How can we lie so comfortably in our dreams of the wonderful family that we will one day have and neglect the second greatest commandment in the entire Bible?  How many souls can we save before we get married?  That should be a question that ever dad should ask a suitor:  “what have you done to save a life?”
            Yes!  You will most likely spend the far greater portion of your life in marriage.  And yes, preparing to be the best husband/father, or wife/mother that you can be is one of the greatest time investments that you can make.  But who says that you can’t have one if you have the other?  Who’s to say that learning to faithfully bring the joy of Christ’s salvation to the world shouldn’t be a central part of our preparation process?  Yes, us guys can get a bit preoccupied with trying to find a good job or career, building up a savings account, tackling college courses- all this while striving to become a man worthy of the gift of a wife.  But before the day that a guy stutters his way through an important conversation with your dad, you girls have a lot of waiting.  There is no exception to the Great Commission: we are ALL called to reach out to our lost and dying world.  Not all are called to leave their homeland (however, I personally believe that most are; if only for short periods of time), but we are all commanded to fulfill the Great Commission wherever we are.  Ladies, how are you preparing to support and participate in your future husband’s ministry?  Guys, are you prepared to lead your family into the front lines in a campaign to save this world of death?
            Have you thought about the fact that the only reason that we are still here is for the purpose of saving souls?  If we weren’t needed here on earth, God would have taken us up to heaven as soon as we accepted Him.  We could have worshipped and glorified Him there in perfection.  But no, we have a job to do here, and we are ignoring it.

How then will they call upon whom they have not believed?
How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?
And how will they hear without a preacher?
How will they preach unless they are sent?
Just as it is written, “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”  (Romans 10:14~15)

            There are many hearts to be set free.  How long, o sleeper, will you lie in your comfortable complacency? 

            You have been sent.  Will you go?

Why We Are Called

            The following was spoken by the late singer/songwriter, Rich Mullins, in a concert shortly before his tragic death in a car accident:

See, I believe that a few were chosen, that a few were elected.  I believe that if God has anything for you it’s not just to make you happy.  God did not choose you or call you out of this world just to make you high.  And God didn’t choose you and call you out of this world just so that you could be pious.  Because there are enough pious people, and there are enough happy people in the world.  But what God called you for, and what God called you to is to make a difference in the world.  You know, there are a lot of people who have never heard the gospel of Christ.  Sometimes I have a little bit of trouble when I see people paying fifteen, sixteen bucks a hit to hear some flashy Christian group say “Jesus is Lord” to the tune of fifteen bucks a person when there are people who live not far from here who can’t even afford to buy a Bible.  And somehow it seems a little bit weird that we should have more ministers in this country and fewer people when in the world there are so many people who would give anything to have a minister, but they can’t find them, because they’re not there, because they’re in our country. 
I don’t believe that God chose you, and blessed you so that you could heap those blessings up upon yourself.  I believe that God chose you, and you, and you, and all of you, because He wants to make a difference in this world. 
And you know what I think is scary about God is that He didn’t come up with any Plan B.  That He left the church here; and the church is the only group of people, and the church is the only institution in the world that can bring about a change.  This government cannot do it; so stop depending on the government.  Educational systems cannot do it so stop trusting educational systems.  The church is chosen by God to make a difference.  And you know what people?  Your not going  to make a difference by building more bombs.  And you’re not going to make a difference by wearing more makeup and showing up on more television shows.  And you’re not going to make a difference by having the loudest PA, or the biggest crowd at you concerts:  You’re going to make a difference when you lay down your life, and in complete submission to God choose to die with Him in service to other people.

The Power of a 180

A “180” is commonly thought of as a half-turn.  Specifically, it is a 180degree turn, which means that the subject will end up facing the opposite direction. 
About two and a half years ago I was in church listening to a sermon by Greg Harris (one of my all time favorite preachers).  The sermon was on repentance.  At the time, I was in a very different place spiritually, so I didn’t absorb much of the sermon.  However, one concept stuck, for it reentered the forefront of my mind two years later:

I had been struggling with lust; and losing.  I was so battered and bleeding and angry at myself for praying the same prayer of apology and asking forgiveness over and over and over again.  But then one night, as I lay in bed weeping over another failed day, I literal sound byte played through my mind.  It was Mr. Harris talking about repentance.  He said that remorse, repentance, and forgiveness were three very different things.  Remorse is feeling genuinely regretful and broken about what you have done.  Forgiveness is God cleansing that sin by wiping it away.  Repentance is literally turning away from that sin.  Someone who constantly returns to their old ways shows a lack of a repentant heart: without repentance there is no remission of sin. 
What do I mean by turning away?  The answer is almost too simple;

What is the opposite of telling a lie?  Speaking the truth.
How does a liar seek true repentance?  He strives to speak the truth of God.
What is the opposite of stealing?  Giving.
How does a thief seek true repentance?  He learns to give all that he has to God, and allows God to be generous through Him.
            What is the opposite of cursing and blasphemy?  Blessing.
How does a curser and blasphemer seek true repentance?  He takes every opportunity to bless and be a blessing to God and everyone around him.
            What is the opposite of disrespect?  Respect and honor.
How does a disrespectful teenager seek true repentance?  He respects and honors his parents and all other authority figures in his life.

            Here was the big one for me that night:  What is the opposite of lust?  After thinking about it, I realized that lust is a false love based on feeling and impulse.  It has no commitment and no dignity.  Therefore, the opposite of lust is true love.  Now, guys, don’t get all excited and think that I’m saying to go out and find a girl.  No, I’m talking about something different entirely.  I prayed that night that God would expand my heart and give me an enormous capacity to love Him, and that my love for Him would overflow onto those around me.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like caring for someone’s heart because you want to ease their pain and rejoice with them in their gladness.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like talking and engaging with someone with genuine interest, even if they may not be considered “cool.”  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like hating the sin but loving the sinner; not being so self centered so as not to step out of your comfort zone and exhort your struggling brother or sister.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like having a passion for sharing your faith with those who don’t know God’s love like you do.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like doing whatever it takes to follow wherever God leads, even if it may look like foolishness to the world.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like all this and a thousand other things.  When you have all these outlets of pure, beautiful, strong, committed love flowing through you, you will have no space left for the cheap throwaway “love” that lust offers you.
            In today’s culture, the battle against lust is an unbelievably steep one.  It is exhausting and relentless.  However, I will submit that it is not a lost cause and it IS a battle worth fighting.

            A powerful example of a radical 180 is that of the apostle Paul (formerly, Saul).  He went from being a relentless persecutor of Christianity to becoming the greatest defender of the faith to ever live!  That, my friend, is a total turnaround. 
            The next time you find yourself on your knees asking for forgiveness, why don’t you ask yourself (and God) what you can do to turn away from your sin?

            Make the 180.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cry the Name

            The following words are from an email that I wrote two of my friends a couple days ago:

I found this great psalm today and found it to be a great one in a time of temptation.  I was feeling pretty sorely tempted so I ran and cracked my Bible open and it came right to psalm 18.  It's a great psalm of victory, which brings me to something I want to toss out:
            I've learned that cracking open scripture with the right heart attitude is an almost sure-fire way of driving of temptation (especially temptations of the lustful sort).  One thing that I was thinking about earlier however is that I so often leap at the psalms and such with titles like "cry for help in the time of trouble", when we should spend equal or more time in the psalms with titles like "worship of the Lord in His greatness".  I've found that for me personally, the crying out psalms have been very effective in times of confession and repentance in prayer, while focusing on God's ultimate greatness and power really helps to dissipate the desires of the flesh (talk about contrast!):  When we really start to grasp the magnitude of God's incredible awesomeness, our little personal desires take the back seat.
            By all means, cry out and pour your heart out to God, because we are totally depraved and helpless without Him.  But never neglect to ponder anew His greatness and power, and what that means for all evil that has its eyes on your life call. 
            Having Christ in your heart and not calling on His power is like carrying a sword and fighting with your fists.  It doesn't make sense.
            What do you guys think?


Go Bold or Go Home (Christianity is not for wimps)

Have you ever eaten at Del Taco?  Good, yummy stuff.  My personal favorite is the Macho Combo burrito with steak.  By the way, why do they call it Del Taco when they only have three or four different tacos on their millions of options menu board?  Think about it. 
All that is beside the point.  The only reason that I brought up Del Taco is because every bag, cup, burrito wrapper and sauce packet has a very common (non-trademarked) phrase on it:  Go Bold or Go Home.

What does this mean to a non-believer who just happened to read the side of his cup of Mountain Dew? 
Besides meaning that Del Taco is the boldest choice for your lunch (the world is full of lies), it means that we should live our life to the extreme.  After this life, there’s nothing else.  Make the most of it.  Make money, spend it; have fun.  
If you do not know Jesus Christ, and the above paragraph sounds shallow and empty to you, keep reading.
What does this mean to the Christian?
It means that Christianity is not for wimps.  Just because it is a free gift does not make it easy to use effectively.  Someone may give you a hammer and nails and lumber for free, but it still takes muscle and brains to put them to good use.  It takes hard work to be a Christian.  As Christians, we want to be tough, fearsome warriors for God.  We want the enemy to tremble at the power of Christ in our lives.  When we think Chuck Norris, we think everything that is tough and manly and powerful.  If Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne (fictional, but nonetheless) were after you, you would fear for you life because these men are known to be fierce warriors who will do whatever it takes to complete the job.  In the book of Judges, the Bible speaks of a man named Samson.  Samson was the strongest man who ever lived.  He killed thousands of armed men with the jawbone of a donkey.  He was a warrior and his enemies knew it.  Samson was a household name because he had the reputation of being a man who could massacre his enemies without even breaking a sweat.  The ultimate example of a frightening reputation is Jesus Christ.  It has been over two thousand years since his physical death, and to this day entire governments are intimidated by the very use of His name.  That’s what I call power.
That’s the Christian I want to be.  I want it to be that demon spies rush in a screaming flurry to headquarters because Joshua Eddy is heading to the front lines.  The power of Christ is the same for all of us: it’s how you use it.  Two people can have the very same firearm, but it is the one who is highly trained in its use that will take out the center of the target.  Like so many Americans, we Christian just keep the gun (that is, Christ’s power) in the closet and expect it to protect us when we need it.  There’s nothing wrong with having a weapon for the protection of the family and home, but not being trained in its use is just asking to be disarmed by a skilled and deadly enemy.  
How do we become skillful warrior for Christ and his Kingdom?  That is an enormous question.  However, true to character, the Bible spells it very clearly and concisely in Proverbs chapter three:  “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and men.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”
We must reject all concept of sin in our lives.  As one who has tried to be regular in prayer, I have learned that even one “little” sin that I was unwilling to give up has completely numbed my ability to talk to God with any sincerity.  I can’t look Him in the eye when I know that He knows that I’m hiding something from Him.  But why won’t we give it up?  Is it really that worth it?  I’ll give you a scenario:
A Marine was on the night watch when he heard a noise.  It might have been nothing.  He knew that he should go check it out, but he wanted to finish his cigarette first.  It was cold and he didn’t want to waste the last half inch on nothing.  Suddenly a shot rang out.  The next few moments were chaos as soldiers ran out of the barracks.  Word finally came around that the commanding officer, a man who was a strong and gifted leader, had been assassinated.  When an investigation followed, the soldier confessed to having heard a noise, but shrugging it off as nothing.  He was discharged for negligence in the line of duty.  His military career, his training, and his future all came crashing down and were forgotten all because he wanted to finish one cheap cigarette.  He could have been a hero.  But he valued a few puffs of smoke more.  
Are you passing up a whole life of effectiveness for Christ because you don’t want to give up your old patterns and habits of sin?  In C.S Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, a demon tells his young protégé that if they must lose a soul to the lordship of Jesus Christ, they must do all that is in their power to hinder their productivity:  A sleeping Christian is just about as good as an unbeliever.  In fact, they consider the inactive Christian as a valuable asset.  A lazy Christian who does nothing for the sake of Christ, but rather lives for himself will lead others astray.  A Christian may be hesitant to follow the example of an unbeliever, but we tend to flock together.  In these days of laziness and complacency, we like to find the easiest rout; the most comfortable ride.  So in our weakness we find someone who is fun to be around, is a “Christian”, and most of all, will not challenge us in our walk.  
If you never exhort your friends to step up to the plate (while leading by example), you may be guilty of being a soft pliable Christian: unwilling to step on toes and go out on a limb for the sake of Jesus Christ and the soul of someone that you call your friend.
Dear friend, I fail to be strong on a regular basis.  Far too often do I care more about what others think of me, and not “making anybody uncomfortable” than I do about being a real man for God.  If I have been that way to you, I apologize and beg your forgiveness.  I pray that someday soon I will be given a second chance to speak into your life in a meaningful way. 
What are you holding on to besides the Lordship of Christ?  Why are you holding onto it?  Is it worth the cost?  Have you considered the cost?  Why not?
Christianity is not for wimps:  Go Bold or Go Home.  If you won’t live for God fully, then why live for him at all?  Are you just looking for a free ticket to heaven?  If that’s the case, how could you possibly say that you have a heart of true repentance?  
Telling someone that God has a great plan for their life has become one of many Christian clichés, but let’s look at it anyway:  No matter how worthless or mediocre you feel, I guarantee that you could not possibly imagine the possibilities that are granted to a willing and humble heart.  I know that I have not completed any large work for God yet, but even so, I could not have imagined even two years ago that I would ever amount to half of who I am today.  Not because I am someone worth bragging about in earthly terms, but because this battered soul has been through the valley of death (not the shadow of death) on its hands and knees, and because God brought it back to him.  My soul is what one song calls Broken and Beautiful.  Broken because of the places it has wandered, and beautiful because of the Love that brought it back to life.
I never want to hear another person say that God can’t use them.  How prideful!  Do you really have such pride in your heart to think that the God of all creation, who started with absolutely nothing, could not use you for a great work?  I pray that God would save us all from such a snare of thought. 
Think of God’s Word, the Bible, as a dumbbell:  you can use to work out every muscle in your spiritual body.  Think of prayer as running:  it will strengthen your heart and give you endurance for the hard race ahead of you (not to mention build powerful relationship between you and God).  Ask any professional athlete how hard they train to be the best.  You might be surprised.  In competition, a professional triathlete will cycle one hundred and twelve miles, get off his bike and swim for 2.2 miles, get out of the water and run a marathon (a little over 26miles).  These are some of the most powerful humans on earth.  How hard are you willing to train to be a powerful Christian?
Christianity is not for wimps:  Go Bold or Go Home.  If you won’t live for God fully, then why live for him at all?  

JDD: A Bagel and an Intro.

I’m sitting here in my living room on the couch, on my laptop.  I just opened Microsoft Word 2003.  I have a now-cold parmesan cheese bagel with cream cheese sitting next to me (so much for trying to eat healthy…).  

Being self-diagnosed ADD, I rarely have one powerful thought in my mind long enough to get across the living room to my laptop.  I usually find myself distracted along the way: but not today.  No, today I made it.  I had this concept in my head before I went to bed, and it was still there when I woke up.  Before I allowed myself a chance to forget, I ran with all my might.  One thought dominated my mind: I must  make it!  I blew all distractions aside as I made it to my destination in record time.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I opened up the refrigerator and grabbed the bagels and cream cheese.   As the bagels sizzled in the toaster, I suddenly remembered that I wanted to write about something!  I ran to my laptop and turned it on, and opened Microsoft Word 2003.  I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story because we are living it right now.  You are now up to speed.
I sat down to write a blog post about a serious topic, but then got distracted writing a colorful intro.  So I decided to take that intro and make it a separate post about ADD.  I think I’ll just write about my ADD every once and a while so that you can occasionally get a peak into my little world of swirling thoughts. They seem perfectly orderly to me, but as a very left-brained friend likes to tell me “you just don’t know any better.”  As long as I’m comfortable, that’s fine with me.  I actually get things done faster this way!  A very left brained person will work on one thing until it is done.  I, on the other hand, will start and half finish five things for every one thing they do.  That means that in two days, assuming that the left brainer finished two projects per day start to finish, I will have completed ten projects and already started ten more!  See?  There is indeed power in a busy mind.  And look, see?   The first sentence of this paragraph was going to be the very last sentence, but I got distracted writing about getting distracted and now here I am, 183 words later, still writing!
I have just re-diagnosed myself with JDD:  Josh Distraction Disorder.
I’d better end this thing fast so that I can get on to the real stuff.