Words To Live By.

These words matter much more than mine:

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:14-17.

Advertisements

Its Not Me, Its Not Us.

Psalm 127:1 says,

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.

Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.

This verse stood out to me today. It was a reminder to not put my faith in flesh (Philippians 3:3) or what I can do. We can all do something. God has given us all gifts and abilities. Its what we do with them that matters. He can use us for great things with the things that He has given us.

But there is also something so important in realizing that if we were not here and if we weren’t doing these things, God would continue to do great things. While its important to use your gifts and abilities to glorify Him and tell others about Jesus in many different ways, don’t ever get into the habit of thinking that you’re the reason people are coming to know Jesus or are turning their lives around because of your gifts.

If they’re turning their lives around for you, thats not a good thing. It kind of defeats the purpose. They’re aiming to please you.

It should all be about Jesus and what He is doing here with us.

Someone once told me, “If you’re going to build someone a house, great! But make sure you also build one for them in Heaven!”

Make sure the “houses” that you are building have God in the center. What you do with your life can be awesome and you can do great things. But like this verse says, without God being the focus of what you’re doing, its worthless. Give it all back to Him and know that He is what holds it all together!

This is just a simple little reminder I had today and its something that I need to be reminded of everyday. Its not about me! Its all about God and what He is doing here in people’s hearts. I am only a tool to help build the Kingdom. God is doing the real work!

We Need This Revelation.

I am 17 years old, a senior in high school, and have never read through the book of Revelation. It was always too scary for me. I didn’t want to think about it. So I never read through it. Not until this week.

Two weeks ago, I picked up my Bible and a verse in Matthew was staring at me. It was loud and clear that this verse was pertaining to me. My Bible was open to Matthew 26, where Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, and he found his disciples asleep outside of the garden. They were waiting for Him but became tired and dozed off.

Matthew 26 says this: 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

This verse really challenged me that day to give more time to Jesus, even when I’m tired. I often brush aside the thought of digging into the Word when I get home from school because I can barely keep my eyes open. But His Word says, ‘The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’. It was right in front of me. And I needed to respond. I needed to give God an hour everyday. That is what I committed to do this weekend.

On Monday, I failed. My body’s weakness overcame that boldness to devote this hour to God. I went to bed early that night and had the mindset of, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. That is an awful thing to say. Especially about time with God.

I was being hypocritical that day because I’ve been flustered with how many of my peers say that in youth group every week. They say they need to get in the Word more, every week. And all I’ve wanted to say to them is if you need to, why don’t you?

And then there I was. Face to face with my warm, consuming, comfortable bed that begged for me to lay my head down and forget about the world for awhile. Yes, I failed. I am not proud to say that I made a commitment to God and didn’t keep it. The next day, I knew that this couldn’t wait any longer. This challenge, to pray and spend time with God for an hour everyday, is something I did two summers ago and it turned my life around. I felt like I got brand new eyes and ears after that experience.

That challenge was only 21 days and God showed me so much in those 21 hours. Honestly, though, the hour goes by so fast that I usually spend an hour and a half to two hours in the Word and in prayer. I wish more people my age would devote more time to God. We give our time to plenty of other things.

I wish people my age would read through Revelation. It is something that really scares a lot of my friends but it is so real. It is more real than the television shows we watch. It is more real than Instagram. It is more real than school and money and things… Because all of this stuff here will fade away. We forget that sometimes. Revelation is a book that has totally changed my perspective on life and how I view things. Do I have an eternal mindset? Do I worry too much about being comfortable? Because we are never promised that. Not now. And definitely not in the future.

In those detailed chapters, there is talk of fire and pain and regret for those who don’t know Jesus. I instantly thought a friend of mine that doesn’t know Jesus. We’ve been friends for a very long time and I know that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with God. These verses brought sorrow. I kept thinking, She doesn’t know what is going to happen someday. How do we tell people about Jesus in such an urgent way but with gentle love? The message that sits, waiting in the Bible needs to be spoken of. People need to hear about what Jesus did for them. We can’t say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

I want to see an awakening in my generation. Some people are in a deep sleep and they need someone else to tell them the day has begun, its time to get up. It is so important. I hope you feel that way as a Christian. I sincerely hope that you have hope in Jesus and that you want to share that with your friends who are lost in darkness. I don’t believe Revelation is a book that we need to scream from the streets to people that don’t believe. I believe that book is motivation for us believers. It gives us a picture of what we’re up against and a hope that as followers of Jesus, we have victory in the end. He won. But there is still a battle that rages on.

Revelation is our reminder to keep going and to trust in Jesus. And I really think it serves as a reminder that our friends are dying. Do you remember when you received new life? Do you remember where you were yesterday? Last month? Last year? Years ago? Jesus gave you new life. He wants to do the same for the people placed around you in your life.

Read Revelation. For people my age, I really encourage you to do so if you haven’t. Or read it again if you already have. This stuff is scary, but its so real. We can’t be scared anymore. Jesus won. He has defeated the grave. Read this book with that hope in mind. This scary stuff is real, but so is Jesus. And so is the blood that He shed to save us. Take a journey with Jesus today and go spend some time with your real Savior.

Revelation 3:20

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.

Revelation 21:8

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Revelation 1:5

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 22:12

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what they have done.”

Why You Could Be A Bad Friend

For some Christians, sharing their faith with the people closest to them makes them freeze and then retaliate. When I see that I don’t understand. Then I freeze and retaliate. When I learn that someone is a Christian, I kind of expect them to love talking about their Savior, Jesus, to others. And when I don’t see that, a part of me hurts inside.

I hurt inside because being a Christ follower is dong exactly that: following. Jesus didn’t stand still. He didn’t sit around His whole life waiting for lost people to find Him. They were lost! Sure, people did find Jesus, as we read in the Bible. But He knew the importance of choosing the path God had before Him and taking that path because there were lost people who needed help along the way.

If you are a Christian, you are not called to stand still. No, not literally. You are not called to stand still in your faith. You are called to go and tell others the truth that you possess. The truth that you hold in your hands. Proclaim the Word that you claim to believe yourself.

Talk is trash. People can throw it away. Not everyone has a perfect memory and can recite the Gettysburg Address. The words you may say to someone may mean something then but may not stick with them.

I’m not saying words of wisdom, sermons, or kind words are not worth it. What I’m saying is to only tell someone you love them but never show it to them will get thrown away into nothingness (just like trash). What is the point when actions show so much more to people? We like to see that you mean what you say.

As you hear so many pastors and preachers and leaders say, God is calling you to action.

Go and tell your friends about Jesus with words and by who you are. If your faith in God is the most important thing to you, it will shape who you are. It will change the way you think, feel, act, and respond to certain things. Isn’t that what we asked Jesus to do when we asked Him into our hearts?

I say all of this because I care. I say all of this because as a Christian, you have a responsibility. I say all of this because there are people out there that need to know Jesus.

If this is all scary, seems demanding, or is too much for you, you have the choice of turning back. You really do. You have that freedom. But if you follow Christ, these things shouldn’t seem abnormal to you. Being called to action should not be crazy. Being a Christ follower is not normal! So why do we expect so much to be like everyone else and retaliate when we are called to be different? That is not what we signed up for!

I don’t know what you are thinking right now. If you think I sound angry or mean or like I’m pointing my finger at you right now, I just want you to think about why you feel that way. I want you to know that my intensions for writing this is not to say that I’m perfect in this area of my life, but to say that as followers of Christ, we have an opportunity to proclaim truth and spread love.

Love isn’t always easy and fruity and bubbly and fun. Love is caring enough to help someone when they’re stumbling. Love is caring enough about a friend to tell them about Jesus because you know the other option is hell.

This is a serious thing we have to think about as Christians. Do we believe in God? And do we believe in hell? Do we fear both?

Proverbs 9:10- To fear God is the beginning of Wisdom.

A prominent leader in my life, Michelle, shared with our small group this last week a vision she had about her unbelieving friends. She said that she imagined people from every nation standing in line on Judgement Day to meet with God. A friend, who didn’t know Jesus, turned to her with fear in her eyes and asked,

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

That was a powerful message for me to really observe how important sharing my faith is to me. Am I telling everyone I can about Jesus and the love He has to offer? Or am I too worried about crossing boundaries and making them feel suffocated?

That is a word I hear a lot; “suffocated”. It is usually followed by “my parents” or “this weird person at school that talks about Jesus ALL THE TIME”. But we can’t fear this word. We can’t fear how people will react to hearing God’s word. They need to hear it. Right now I’m remembered a great quote from a great movie I used to watch as a child (and still do):

“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” -Cinderella Story.

(I know that what we’re talking about isn’t a game, but we can relate it to a game because this quote is so true!)

For me, this article was very difficult for me to publish because I know of people in my life, who are Christians, who would be offended by what I have to say. And if I told them this to their faces, I don’t think they would like me anymore. That is exactly why I needed to write this. Because there is something really messed up about that.

If you have this truth, don’t go and shove it in people’s faces. But don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you magically one day and ask about Jesus. There is a fine line between the two and we need to be there.

Sharing your faith is too important to worry about what others are thinking. If Jesus would’ve kept quiet during His life here on earth, we wouldn’t be able to look forward to an eternity of life with God. He saved us. And He wants to save your friends too. And maybe, just maybe, you were put in a friend’s life to be the one who tells them about this Savior.

John 3:16- For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever may believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jeremiah 1:7-8- But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

Matthew 28:19-20- And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

1 Peter 4:18- And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Matthew 25:31-46.

Enlightened.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 4.45.09 PM

It was my freshman year when God first planted a seed in my mind about something that is now called “Enlightened”. All I can remember is a vision of my peers worshiping in my auditorium. Their hands were lifted high and the beautiful song “The Stand” was being played. The thought took me by surprise and I didn’t know what to think about it.

That would be cool, I thought. But that could never happen at my school.

That thought was pushed to the back of my mind for 3 years.

During those three years I learned a lot. I felt heartache, lost a lot of close friends, learned what kind of boys NOT to date, I started leaning on God, and learned a lot about myself. High school is a place to grow up. Its a place to figure out what you want to do by what you’ve learned and acquired in your life. And I figured out what I want to do with my life.

I figured out that I want to do whatever God asks me to do with my life. Wherever I go to college and whatever I end up doing, I want it to be for His Kingdom and for His glory, not mine. These past few years have made that so clear in my life.

So this summer, while I was home, God started poking at me. One night we had youth group at church and I was leading the musical worship. So before the service started, I snuck away to the prayer chapel.

I prayed for the night, the worship, and all the students that would be at church that night. I prayed for an awakening through worship and what would happen in that room. Then when I was going to keep rambling on, feeling prompted to listen, I just stopped talking and started listening. Thank the Lord that I did. He said something that changed my life forever.

“Worship” was what I heard so clearly. At that moment, peace fell upon me and made me sure that worship is something I need to do for the rest of my life. But I didn’t just want to stop listening there. I wanted to to do something about this calling now. So I asked,

“What can I do right now with worship, God?”

I will never forget what He said:

“That vision that I gave you three years ago, about worship in your school’s auditorium, needs to happen this year. Now is the time.”

So there I was, in the beginning of the summer with this dream and something God was asking me to do and my family was leaving for a few days to start traveling for NTS camps. All summer. I would be gone for a little over a month. That would not leave me a lot of time to plan. This night needed to happen soon, in the beginning of the year, as to say “We’re going to start off this year right”.

My adrenaline kicked in and I started messaging and talking to a few close friends that went to my school as well as my Dad. I told them my idea and asked what I should do about it. Leaving for a month put me in a tough spot to plan this event. One thing that the vision was clear about was that the room was full of students worshipping. It wasn’t just a few people in a worship club. This was to be an event with a room full of people on fire for Jesus. I knew that some people needed assurance that they weren’t alone at school.

This was not going to be easy to get together.

When I got back from camp, it all began.

First we got the OK to use my school’s auditorium for a Sunday night service.

Emails were sent to dozens of youth pastors around the area to bring their youth groups.

My friend Kaley and I were reading through Matthew 5:13-16 and God gave us the name ‘Enlightened’ after about 3 hours of having no idea what to do with this night.

Then we gathered together 10 more students from my school to help plan and lead this night.

The theme of the night is ‘Enlightened’ because as students, we want to encourage our peers to shine brightly for Christ in our schools. There are a lot of broken and lost people that need love during high school. We don’t want to just sit back as Christians and dismiss ourselves when something is out of comfort zone. We want to step out and do what God is calling us to do. And that is going where “my trust is without borders!” Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re singing. Enlightened will serve to be a reminder to Christians that school is a mission field and a very dark place that needs a lot of light.

God’s hand has been over all of this because we miraculously have 16 churches connected and 6 schools that are advertising on their own! As we started praying about numbers, we were praying for 500 and it looks like we’re going to have more than 500 people there that night!

The band is all students and the speakers are students. Enlightened is led by high school students for high school students! God is using a lot of amazing leaders to make this night possible and its been an incredible blessing to be apart of it.

As you are reading this, I hope you are encouraged and as excited as I am about this event. In this post, I wanted to get the word out but I also wanted to say something even more important: We need prayer.

Here are some things we need prayer for:

1. For God to speak to many students that night to do something to be a light in their school this year.

2. For the band and the speakers and the ones planning it, its a very busy and stressful time (the date is October 5th-very soon!)

3. For candles. A church has already donated a few hundred fake battery-powered, white candles for something special during the service. But with our numbers growing, we’re praying for more!

4. For no technological problems.

5. For the worship that night-that the Spirit moves.

6. For the word to spread like wildfire!

Listening to God has been an incredible blessing and we haven’t even had this event yet. I encourage you to listen to what He has in store for you and to follow the path He has set out for you. It could change the world.

I cannot wait to share what God does at Enlightened on October 5th!

Lustful Lies

Over the summer at camp, we talked about the obsession over sex. Its real. It has flooded the media and all the movies we see… Purity is so important to me and I get fired up when this topic is brought up. This is what I learned…

 

2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”

Do you believe that God’s word is true? Do you fear Him enough to obey what it says because you know the consequences that are also written down in His word? 

Lust is a forbidden word, isn’t it? But if we are all honest with ourselves, we all lust after something. Whether its the opposite sex, same sex, money, power… Whatever it is, we find something we want and we center our focus on that one thing. For guys, it starts earlier than it would for a girl. I’m talking about lusting another person. It is very common for a 5th or 6th grade boy to start looking at pornography. But did you know that 11% of girls watch it too? Its not just a guy thing. Its a people thing. Because our kind messed it up in the very beginning, we all have this temptation in our lives sooner or later.

I see girls more open about their lust on the Internet. There are Woman Crush Wednesdays but there are also Man Candy Mondays. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Most “Man Candy Mondays” and “Woman Crush Wednesdays” can be jokes but the way girls go on and on and on about celebrities like Zac Efron and Channing Tatum show that girls do lust just like guys do.

While it may seem I’m bashing on girls, I want to say that both guys and girls are guilty of this. Its not just girls and its not just guys. 

With the access technology and smart phones have given us, its very easy to become another viewer in that statistic’s percentage. Now lets go back to that verse in 2 Timothy.

“Run” it says, “from ANYTHING that stimulates youthful lust.”

Usually when you run from something, you don’t look back. If someone was chasing you with a gun, you would run as fast as you could to find shelter and/or safety. Looking back would just slow you down. You also wouldn’t turn back and run towards that person. Why pursue something that will hurt you? That example, as ridiculous and obvious as it may sound, is how ridiculous it is to chase after pornography or lust. I’ve talked to and heard many stories from leaders and friends that dealt with pornography or sexual activity and then got married… It messed them up. Your mind is so easily effected and its often hard to shake a thought once it enters your brain. 

So run. No, not literally. I mean run from outfits that you know will cause someone to stumble. When you put your clothes on in the morning, when it comes down to it, you’re dressing for people. If you were going to sit around at home all day, alone, you would wear sweatpants, sweatshirts, pajamas, and would not try to look good. You know that people will see you when you walk out the door and you know that what you wear says sends some kind of message. Your heart can be displayed by what you wear. Your clothes always show your intentions. 

So don’t be selfish and base your self worth on causing others to stumble. If you feel pretty because someone whistles at you, that worth is over in one second and shows that when people look at you, they don’t think about you but what they want to do to you.

If you believe God’s word to be true and want to love your neighbor as yourself, don’t assist your brothers and sisters in Christ in sinning against your big, powerful God. 

Run from pornography. If your phone or computer tempts you, tell someone that can keep you accountable. The last part of that verse says, “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” Ask a friend or be brave and ask a parent to turn Safesearch on or something on your computer. Those images you see only take a few minutes to reach but will never leave your mind. Pornography, besides how it effects your mind, seems harmless. You may think:

“It won’t hurt anyone. I’ll be fine” 

Pornography is an industry. A deceitful, greedy industry that will do whatever it takes to get money. Guys and girls, some unwillingly, are pushed to do things in front of a camera and a crew. Its deceitful because the people behind these movies make sex something that its not. Its not just for you. It takes two people and when you have the mind-set that this act is only for you, you grow up with a selfish mind-set towards marriage. 

Pornography is so selfish. You are setting aside moral boundaries to please yourself and then thats all sex is; for you. If you think that you don’t have any idols or you’re not a selfish person, I’m telling you that pornography is making your own self an idol and all you’re thinking about is yourself. 

 

Run from chick-flicks. Okay, not all of them are bad. But today’s society places too much emphasis on two people’s sexual relationship in movies. 

You read the verse, “Run from ANYTHING…” Music, books, TV, etc. can stimulate lust whether we realize it or not. After seeing something so many times that seems to bring happiness, we can start to lust for it. After seeing a picture perfect couple on a screen or in a book, we start to want that. And when we see that they decide to have sex before marriage, we might want that too. Because if that couple is happy and its working out, it must work for everyone else. 

When we put ourselves in these situations, we open our minds to earthly thoughts and allow a door to open for lust to come in.

Run! Run! Run!

Don’t just shy away from these things. Run! My mom once told me a good analogy/example of crossing the line and how far you should go when it comes to boyfriends or whatever temptation there may be… She said:

“We don’t serve a God who stands back and says, ‘Oh, you’re almost there… A little bit farther… That lines getting closer… Just two more inches… Okay, stop!'”

That is not how it goes. God doesn’t coach you to get as close to that line as you can so you don’t cross it. Think of that line that God has set as a starting line. If you’re close to that line in your life, run the opposite direction to the finish line.

Run!

 

 

2 Timothy 2:22 

“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Last First Day.

 

Its surreal when you’re walking through the halls again, after everyone got a new haircut and style during the summer. Its so strange to be always watching the clock again to see when a class will finally be over. To hear “What is your schedule?” over and over and over again as people compare their sheets of crinkled paper.

One of my friends said to me this morning, “I feel like we’ve been on a dragged out Spring Break and we’re just coming back to school again”. I totally agree. Summer zipped by and wasn’t sad to say goodbye. But the rest of us were sad to see it go. Now its up to us to choose what kind of attitude we will have towards this year.

Here we are seniors. Here we are at a starting line to a bumpy road ahead of us. There are decisions to be made. Questions to be answered. Will we choose to get a serious case of Senioritis (that I think I already have as I was finishing a summer reading project last night)? Will we decide to not care about anything but care about partying and making memories we may not remember the next day when the hangover kicks in? Will we start dating “The One”? Will we know where we’re going next year?

“Where are you going to college?” 

“What are you doing with your life after high school? Any ideas?”

We hear it all day long. Most of the time, we say “No idea”. But I think its important to ask yourself where you’re going this year. Who are you going to talk to? What is your goal when you enter a classroom? How are you going to leave an impact on the students you’ll leave behind in your high school? What does God have in store for you this year? And will it be about you or Him? 

 

I want to ask you this: Where are you going in high school? What are you doing with your life during high school? Any ideas?

 

Good luck this year and may the force be with you. 

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Isaiah 30:21  

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Mornings Without Coffee.

IMG_4567Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.19.44 PM

Over the summer, I’ve calmed down on my morning coffee routine. I go out for coffee a lot for meetings, but I haven’t been drinking it every morning like I used to. It was such a big priority in my life. Then I heard a conversation had by my Dad and a friend at camp this summer. They were talking about coffee as a source for people. Its something that we cling to and we become obsessed with. So I listened and of course learned something. So here I am writing about it.

Coffee is good. I love it. It is something that brings people together for great conversations and good times. It also tastes pretty good too.

While its good, its an obsession to many people. Even adults. More so for adults than kids. They need to have it to make their day go by smoothly or for them to be in a good mood. It’s something that people rely on to make them happy or even ready to take on the day. It’s the source many people go to and they constantly rely on this drink for energy.

We live in a  fast paced world. Time is always ticking and we’ve always got things to do, people to please. And if we decided to watch TV or hang out with friends late one night then wake up the next morning feeling drowsy, we go to coffee. Its an easy way to lift our spirits and gives us just enough caffeine to get out the door.

Its kind of crazy to think about. That we rely on coffee to keep us awake for meetings, school… to keep our eyes open after we stayed up all night talking to a friend on the phone… to help us study for a big test or presentation… We base our excellence and success in a day based on if we’ve had coffee or not. Because if we don’t get our coffee in the morning, we obviously can’t be a bucket of sunshine. Duh.

Thats the thing. We may say “I am a grump without my coffee” or “You don’t want to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee”. Why is this our excuse? So we can be a grump when we haven’t had our cup of coffee?

Our attitude can heavily rely on this simple cup of coffee so much that we mentally think we can’t have a good day without it. It sounds silly but I caught myself thinking that way. Thats what an obsession does to you. It hides into an everyday routine or thing that is normal and quietly elevates itself into an obsession in our lives.

Coffee does wake us up and can keep us awake when we need it to. The downside of drinking coffee everyday is that we become obsessed with this feeling of being perked up by coffee that we are only nice, alert, or energetic about whatever we’re doing because of this substance we inhale everyday. Not because we’re passionate about smiling to people in the morning and working hard at our jobs or at school or doing well on a test.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Don’t go to coffee to fulfill you. Don’t let that be your source of happiness every morning. It’s just a drink that will fade and will only make you want more. Why go to a source that will always run dry?

I’m not telling you to quit drinking coffee. But I’m encouraging you to reflect on why you do what you do every morning when you turn that coffee pot on. When someone told me this, it made me rethink about my eating and drinking habits. Do I get my source of energy from coffee or God every morning? Am I only filled up with coffee or am I filled up with Him before I walk out the door?

Just something to think about.

Matthew 5:6 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Don’t Wait To Fall In Love

(what I learned about relationships this summer).

 

This life that we are living right now is about falling in love. Not with another person. But our Heavenly Father.

 

 

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” ~Augustine of Hippo

 

 

We are in a love story right now with God. And He gave us the choice of life and we can choose to recieve that with no cost. It’s free. He set it out as a gift. He wants to love you and give YOU the choice of loving Him back. And even when some say no, He still loves. What an amazing gift.

But know as you are unwrapping this gift, the price lies in what you choose to do with it. If you want to live with and experience this powerful love, it won’t be easy. Like a bride and a groom both need to contribute to their marriage and the same goes for any relationship, we need to give our all in our relationship with God. Can you imagine the price He paid for us? Sending His only son to die… All for this free gift that everyone in the world has the chance to accept and so few unwrap.

True love is patient and kind. It is not boastful, proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way. It never gives up. God IS love. And He gives us this amazing opportunity.

It is an opportunity for true love.

God’s love is true because He has never hurt us, wronged us, forgotten us, or stopped loving us. He sent His son to die for us so we wouldn’t have to be apart from Him. Think about this: He would rather die than live without you.

Something else that blows my minds is this: Jesus knew your name when He hung on that cross. He knew my name. He knew all the people He was dying for. And in that moment, He knew He was dying for the love His father had for us. 

I believe we are all apart of this big, beautiful story where all of our stories collide to see who chooses love at the end of the day.

We may think choosing love with a significant other is the best kind of love there is. That they are the solution to all of our problems. But I say don’t wait to fall in love before you find that person in your life.

Don’t sit around and pray to God for a significant other when you are not at the moment seeking God’s love. The purpose of this life is not to find a person to marry and live the rest of your life with. Its about finding God and finding your purpose here on earth.

Stopping what you’re doing and waiting around for that special person is a waste of time. Falling in love with Jesus takes time and you’re using it on someone that could never fufill you like Jesus can.

One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, said this,

“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.”

When you decide to follow Jesus, you give your heart to Him. And then you are taken on this wonderful journey with Him. Its not easy. But is love and relationships ever easy? I took AP Spanish, so I’ll answer this question in Spanish: “No”.

But Jesus is perfect and Jesus is worth it and Jesus loves you more than anyone else can.

So stop waiting for this special person to sweep you off your feet and change your life. They will change your life. But they could change it by helping you grow closer to your Heavenly Father. That person could be your plus one on this journey we call life and they could help make the ride more enjoyable. But they shouldn’t take the place of your relationship with God. They should help you grow closer to Him.  If you’re falling in love with Him and devoting your life to Him, someday He’ll bring that special persons into your life to walk this journey with you. That’s what He can do. But when you get to know God better, you understand that He has a perfect plan and sometimes it doesn’t match with the plan we had mapped out in our heads.

 

When I wrote about the metaphorical “stoplight”, I really meant what I said.

 

At the moment, I’m really focusing on falling in love with Jesus. After I read one of Donald Miller’s books, he said he started reading the Gospels and fell in love with Jesus when he learned so much about Him in these four books, and I wanted that. So I started reading the Gospels. And let me tell you, reading Matthew for the hundreth time was hard at first. I felt like I knew all the stories too well. But that was the thing. I knew the stories. Like the Christmas story, when Jesus fed 5,000, and when Peter walked on water… But now I was really paying attention to Jesus. How He acted, what He said. I learned so much more than just skimming through the stories.

 

Jesus was and is a fascinating and awesome person. He hung out with the outcasts and always spoke truth. I don’t know about you, but someone like that would be refreshing. There’s so much talk and so many lies and so much gossip. But He was perfect and stuck to God’s word. And He was a servant. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. Like… We don’t really put that into perspective. Because if we say we want to be like Jesus and we act so high up and too good for getting on our knees and serving, we’re nothing like Him at all. We’re actually the opposite of what He desired to be on this earth. He served and He was the Son of God.

 

Just imagine if someone like Beyonce or Jay-Z, the most popular couple right now in Hollywood, were seen cleaning toilets at a church or someone’s house. Or if the most popular kid in your school sat by the weirdest kids in your school and risked their reputation to talk to them. 

The difference is Jesus was so contriversial and not everyone believed that He was who He said He was. But He knew who He was and still got on His knees to wash His disciples’ feet. 

 

How amazing is that. 

 

I’m going to be honest and say it would be really easy for me to get up off my knees and wait for someone else to wash my feet. But that’s what makes Jesus different. He wasn’t just a man, He was the Son of God. And I love Him.

 

I hope that before you fall in love with anyone, you see Jesus as your first in your life. I hope that you love Him so much that you only want to honor Him in any relationship you enter. And I hope that you won’t wait to fall in love with Jesus. If you wait for a relationship or marriage to fall in love, you’re going to be really dissapointed. 

 

 

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  

Two Masters.

($ and Posessions and Media)

Jesus talks more about money and posessions than anything else in the Gospels. Throughout His life He taught many people with numerous stories to represent the Kingdom of God and what it looks like in this world. He always reminded the disciples and bystanders that you cannot serve two masters. Whether that be money vs. God, relationships vs. God, yourself vs. God or whatever it may be for you, He warned us that it is not possible and is also dangerous to get close to that dividing line.

Having so much could mean so little in this world to the next. Material things are shiny and colorful and pleasing to the eye for a reason: money. Everyone wants money. Everyones wants comfort. Everyones wants the perfect future they’ve pictured in their heads their whole life. Why?

These material things are made to look like fufillment. They are advertised to look like fufillment. To taste like it. To feel like it. But you know what? The people that are tying to sell you the houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, and credit cards are also reaching for this false sense of fufillment themselves. They want you to pay them a whole lot of money so they can do the same thing and spend it until their hearts are content.

It is a circle.

You also see people with lots of money and posessions giving to charities, orphans, the ill, etc. We all see it. Thats my point.

In Matthew 6 it says,

“Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…”

Many times we are caught doing that. Its easy to do this when you’re very involved in a church or you’re trying to display a certain image or both. For me, it was getting involved in church a lot. When I started getting involved with church all the time and church people were my friends, I wanted to prove something to them by how much I serve or give or do. Sooner than later I saw a path behind me of service and good deeds that didn’t produce “fruit”. The seeds I thought had planted were not planted right. Those seeds were for approval from man. Not God. Its always important to check our hearts when we take a close look at why we do what we do. Why do we give? Why do we serve?

Trying to portray a certain image is a lot of work. Its all about making sure you’re wearing the right thing and saying the right things and talking to the right people. I don’t know when identity started falling into the hands of man, but its something that has happened to many of us in our lives. We worry about what people are thinking and saying about us.

Sometimes we want our identities to latch on to someone else’s. Sometimes its someone rich and famous. They look like they have it all. They have security, they are loved by millions and love themselves. When we see that, we may think we want that.

I see a lot of people loving a celebrity so much that they start to identify with them. They tweet them, they follow them, they talk about them, and they think about them a lot. This perfect person is displayed on a screen where you can hit replay on their videos on Youtube all day long.

Sometimes its a cute guy or a girl that is a perfect candidate for someone if they were on their own season of “Bachelorette” or “Bachelor” (if you know what I’m saying). Sometimes its an athlete that just seems too cool for anyone. Sometimes its a person who is really talented at what they do so we want people to know that we follow them.

Its crazy that people can associate themselves with what celebrity they like the most. How the fans will instantly cling to only their celebrity’s entourage. Some fans even become enemies against other fan groups… The power of one famous person is efficacious. Am I saying its a good or bad thing? I’m just saying its crazy to me.

Celebrities, entrepeneurs, and millionares are heroes in the world’s eyes for doing what they do best. It could be starting a worldwide company, making a movie, singing, dancing, or creating an App on the iPhone. That person and their managers/partners are always seeking opportunities to get their names known in the media. Its about spreading word of their name or company. Most of their lives are lived for making their name known whether that name be a company, and app, or their actual name.

We do that too. Social media is the easiest way to get known. The easiest way to get attention as well. We hastag and follow and post just the right picture to spread word of our names.

With this power we have to spread word throughout media, you’d think it’d be so much easier for Christians to spread word of God’s name. With the accessability to do so, it seems to be easier to spread word of our names. Yes, there are many faith-based accounts dedicated to God, but there are also MANY more Christians that use their accounts for very different reasons. Those reasons could include lifting themselves up. I don’t know you but you do. When you post a picture, you know your intentions when you click share. Media is powerful and effective. A lot of the time we use this resource to make ourselves look fun and happy and hot and likeable. We want our names to be known and remembered. But why create your legacy online with pictures or posts? Why not create a legacy with things you do?

 

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” -Bono.

 

Music is one of the most powerful and influential pieces of media. Pop artists have that influence in the sweaty palms of their hands. They give their talent back to the world with what they create, sell, and perform. But what I see is and hear is not giving. I see artists lifting themselves up along with sex, money, drugs, and the list goes on. The lyrics are about the artist in some way, shape or form.

To me, most of the time, these pop songs don’t look like giving. We look up to these people so much and all they are doing is taking. Taking our money and time for lifting themselves up more.

Not all celebrities are like that but a lot are. You can tell by the messages of their songs. I don’t get celebrities that go on and on and on about how deep their music is and the meanings behind it when the lyrics describe a party where everyone is wasted and doing whatever the heck they want.

I realize some people that read this may get defensive because they have a certain celebrity in their mind that they love and don’t want anyone bashing on. You might be trying to defend them in your mind. If thats you, hear me out.

The only reason I am talking about celebrities is because of their influence on this country and in this world. We all have our favorites that we follow and ocassionaly tweet @ them… But if we’re trying to defend our favorite celebrity by saying, “ALL of their songs/shows/movies aren’t great but he/she is such a genuinly good person” we’ve allowed that power and influence to stear our minds into accepting things the world says is okay. And when we think these things are okay, then we start loving these people even more and turn them into idols.

Obsessing over people, material things, or money leaves an empty hole where we fought so hard for fufillment. Lifting ourselves or material posessions up will only bring ourselves down to a level where we rely solely on temporary things. Its a bottomless pit that desires to be filled up when in fact, its impossible for that to ever happen.

What we feed ourselves effects what comes out of us. I’m not talking about food even though its still true for food (gross). I’m talking about the media we take in and the ideas of looking good and having a lot of money. Wanting to look good while doing good things is worthless and empty. Give because its a good thing and we serve a good God. Don’t hold on to money and identity so tightly that it weighs you down, pulling you farther away from all the things you can do for the Kingdom of God.

Giving is so important according to Jesus. And if we do good things for approval from others or for an identity, the bad intentions behind a good thing decreases the value behind that good thing. Why give if all we’re wanting to do is recieve in the process? That’s called taking and we learned about that in Pre-School. We should know the difference by now.

Matthew 6:1-4