Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'm Coming Home EG



Today,

I am sure many of you are wondering why I haven't posted anything. After all, my sweet Ella Grace has been with her Savior face to face for 3 years today, For the past two years since she passed away I have written about her:

the day after she passed away

her first birthday in Heaven

her second birthday in Heaven

But this year I can't find the words.

I spent the past 3 days (including today) at a conference with 6000 other people being taught by minds who have spent their lives glorifying God by studying and teaching His word. The name of the conference this year was 'Coming Home' and was a eschatological look at the word of God. Of course in three days there is only so much one could teach and be taught, but the teachings were extensive and full of Biblical truths that saturated my heart with a hope and a longing for what is to come.

ULTIMATELY that is what I feel today. 3 years have passed since I saw her precious face light up as I tickled her tummy. 3 years have passed since I held her sweet hand in mine. 3 years have passed since I laid her tiny body on top of mine to stop her from crying. 3 years have passed since I held her lifeless body. But I know she hasn't counted them. And I know she isn't looking down on me wishing she could be here with me.



3 long years in earthly time. 3 years of healing, being hurt again, healing again, being hurt again, and healing. 3 years of being reminded daily how tiring it is to live in a broken world - to watch loved ones come and go; some with full lives (97 year olds) and some with short lives (17 months old) - to feel cheated, abandoned, unloveable - to feel you could fall in love again, only for it to come to an end 1 day later.

The days go by so slow EG, but the years have gone by so fast. I am three years closer to eternity then when we first met. And my longing to be with you is still there, but ten times as much as I look forward to seeing you, I long to be in Glory. The type of glory none of us has seen here. The type of glory we can only dream about and you are experiencing,
“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal...And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations." Revelation 21

Tears stream down my cheeks, not for the sake of crying but because this Truth - it is stunning. I have a hope against all other hopes that I shall reign with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That my soul will be so completely satisfied in His being glorified. And that no longer will there be tears, pain, suffering, mourning, death or loss, only Life and the steadfast love of the Lord.

The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, a husband, children, an education, a family, a little girl named Ella Grace, traveling, adventure, and creation. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you, when my daughter passes away in my lap, when my best friend walks away from our relationship, when somebody falls in love with me and I walk away from them. When my family is gone and all that is left is your steadfast love, my lips will praise you.

Keep praisin Him baby girl. I miss you, but I am coming home soon and very soon and I look forward to meeting the Jesus you have been worshiping for a 1000 years face to face.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Preach the Gospel, if necessary..

The quote, "preach the Gospel, if necessary use words," has been commonly (falsely) accredited to the late Saint Francis of Assisi, but I believe this quote should not be commonly quoted by believers of Jesus and was never part of St. Francis' theology.



In any country, any people group, anywhere in the world language is used as a form of communication. You will never go to a people group which does not have some way of communicating. Even when we go overseas to serve a people who do not know our language we try to use gestures to get our point across. Have you ever met someone that was able to figure out where you came from, what you believe, and how you live based off of your actions towards them? Is it possible for someone to figure these things out about you without saying a word? No, unless they can read minds.

On February 24, 1209, Saint Francis heard a sermon on Matthew 10:9, in which Jesus tells his followers they must go and proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven has come and to take no bag, no walking stick, or no two shoes for the journey. During this sermon Saint Francis received his calling to be a missionary. Throughout the span of his life he attempted many missionary journeys to share the truth with people in Morocco, and Jerusalem, but was stopped by a shipwreck and illness. He also attempted to bring the Gospel to the Sultan in Egypt at the time of the crusades, and realized the power of sharing the Gospel with the Sultan and the crusades ending. Francis had a passion for sharing the Gospel, and is described as a follower of Jesus who strived to live most similarly to Him. Francis stood on top of hay bales, stairs, and boxes in the middle of town squares and pastures preaching to any who would listen to the Good News. Although this quote is not his these are a few quotes which were said by him:

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

"...As for me, I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any privilege from a man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert the world by obedience to the Holy Rule rather by example than by word."

Through reading these words, it is hard to deny the commitment St. Francis had to both proclaiming the Gospel and embodying the Gospel. However, it is important to notice there is an age old tension between the two. Show justice or preach the Gospel? Notice the misuse of the original quote. If this quote is used to diminish the importance of sharing the Gospel, then it is unfaithful to the heart and spirit of St. Francis. However there is a correct concern, as St. Francis would say, if we are continuously preaching the Good News and asking people to trust in Jesus while not living out the truth of the Gospel in our own lives, and in showing justice towards them. As James 2:14-16 tells us faith without works is dead. The pendulum can swing both ways. If we spend so much time showing justice without ever sharing the Gospel, then the Gospel is not in our justice and we are just another organization trying to be 'kind' to the world. 

In conclusion this quote is not only not biblical it is heretical. It takes the necessity of preaching the actual words of the Gospel out of a follower's mind. And it takes away from the truth that they (the lost) will not and cannot hear unless the Gospel is preached. So in an effort to remain in a Biblical state of mind, I have come to debunk this crazy quote and share:


How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)

So, since we do not know who said that quote, but we do know it is isn't biblical (at least with those specific words: if necessary) then we should stop sharing this quote, and begin to quote the Bible. It is always necessary to use words when sharing the Gospel.

Preach the Gospel, if necessary ALWAYS use words.

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Resources:
1. Catholic.org http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50
2. Catholic Encyclopedia Online http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06221a.htm
3. Relevant Magazine http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/reviews/29094-review-the-explicit-gospel

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why you should watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Why you should watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show..




Tomorrow, Tuesday December 10, 2014 for one hour of primetime television, Victoria's Secret premieres it's most outrageous, colorful, and expensive lingerie worn by the 'world's most beautiful women.' They feature many well known artists, backstage interviews, and a $10 million+ 'Fantasy Bra.' 

A few facts:

In 2013 10.3 million people tuned into the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Twice as many women watched the show as men. In a pole done on Entertainment Weekly's site, 34.75% of people said they watched the show for the boobs, 24.54% said they watched the show for the models, and 18.19% of people said they watched the show for the insane, sparkly outfits.

One commenter said, "I watched it because my daughter wants to be a model and to show her what goes on while being a model! and some of the perks of being a good model, you can walk the Victoria Secret runway! that's why."

What I don't need to tell you is whether or not you should watch it. Of course the arguments are listless for young teenage and young adult women to not watch it, as well as for men. Only you can know whether you can watch these women walk across stage with their endlessly long legs, incredibly tiny torsos, and surprisingly large breasts, and have pure thoughts (men) and security in your identity (ladies). You be the judge of your own heart when you turn on the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show of 2014. But what I would like to say is a little different.

While in Thailand this past year, I saw many women parading the streets of Pattaya wearing scantly clad clothing/lingerie and selling themselves to men for sex. However, I was there to love them, to share Good News about their identity with them, and to ask them their stories. So what is the difference between walking the streets in Thailand, and sitting on the other side of a television screen watching women parade themselves across a stage in scantly clad clothing? 

My heart.

My heart is the biggest difference. You see my heart while sitting and watching the VS fashion show is not to love those girls, hear their stories, or share the good news about their identity in their Creator with them. Why? Because this is a safe place, they will never hear the things I say about them, and I am "just watching TV". My heart is to judge them and myself. My heart thinks things like, "how could these girls parade their bodies like that? How could they want to be a sex symbol in an age where we are trying to fight pornography addictions in men? Why would they want to be half naked in front of 10.3 million+ people? Maybe I should be that beautiful, Dang I need to work out more, etc." Or even to the degree, "Whatever, I mean they are pretty, but they put themselves in a position to be mistreated by men, and at least I don't parade around in lingerie." Instead of: "I wonder what got them to this place in life? I wonder what her story is? I wonder if anybody has told her she is beautiful not because of the way she looks but because of what is in her heart? I wonder if she knows the God who created her?" I wonder how much our hearts could change while watching the VS Fashion Show, if we were more willing to see the worth of these women, not based off of what they are or aren't wearing, but based off of them being a human being created in the image of God.

Maybe it is unrealistic to think we should be watching TV shows with less judgement, and more love. But 1 Corinthians 10:31 still rings true, even while you are watching the VS Fashion Show, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

So turn on the VS Fashion Show, and love those girls across the TV screen with your thoughts and words and be careful of your heart-it is deceitful above all things. Or don't watch the VS Fashion Show because you know you can't with a sound heart and mind, either way, love your neighbor as yourself (including your neighbor across the TV screen).

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Cancer Sucks




Last night I walked into the gym with two of my friends to go work out. A sweet middle-aged woman was working the counter. She couldn't seem to find my friend and I's information so she just said yall just go ahead and go through. I noticed something was wrong with her eyes, but didn't want to ask her in front of everybody else around if something was wrong. After we had just finished working out and finished sitting in the sauna we were packing up our stuff to leave and the same lady (the lady from the front counter) walked in to collect towels. Her eyes though, there was something about her eyes and I felt I should ask her if something was wrong. So I looked at her and said, "are you okay?" She quickly responded, "no." And I quickly responded, "o I mean do you have allergies or something?" And she instantly reacted by putting her face down, crying and managed to utter out, "no I don't have allergies." As I walked closer to her I looked at her and said, "what's wrong?"

Side note: the Lord is worthy of his glory, every ounce of it however and whenever and I feel so abundantly honored that one of the ways He receives glory is by opening our eyes to see the things that make his heart cry.?

In this moment, the Holy Spirit intercepted time and space to sovereignly be in the woman's locker room of the local YMCA. She looked up with tears streaming down her face and said, "my friend just died from cancer." Not at all what I was expecting to hear her say or confess, but while being shocked I thought, "what do I say now?" All I wanted to say was, "cancer sucks, death sucks, and it sucks that we have to encounter such a reality that robs us of life." Thankfully, the spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). She needed prayer. She needed to be seen in her pain. The justification of her pain and tears needed to be recognized by others. And most of all she needed to know she is not alone. And that she is loved. 

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31


Love looks like holding a stranger while she mourns the loss of a friend. And love looks like feeling the tears roll down your cheek because the Lord has opened your eyes to see the things that make His heart cry.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

I believe





I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men...

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky



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Monday, September 22, 2014

When you meet 3 strange men

Today I met three strange mice, and by mice I mean men.
And by strange I mean strangers.

The first one's name is Jean. He was my taxi driver this morning to the Orlando International airport. I hopped in his nice car and he welcomed me so kindly. I soon asked him where he was originally from (I could tell he had an accent). He began to tell me his life story, that he is originally from Haiti but has lived in the states with his immediate family for 20 years. He has two sons, one 12 and one 6. He loves Jesus a lot. And he told me it isn't just because he grew up in the church, but because he made a decision to follow Jesus. He wants to go back to Haiti, to a village in the mountain with his wife and children to serve his people in Haiti. He told me, "many people buy things and cars and stuff, but my father always told me those things are not worth anything, but if you invest in people you are investing in souls." That's when we missed the exit and had to turn around because we got distracted talking. Jean is an honest man, with an honest heart, with a willingness to serve me whole-heartedly, and desire to return to his home and serve his people. In the meantime, I am thankful for his service in our country.



Second is my friend Aaron. There was one seat left in the exit row on my 1:30 flight from Orlando, Florida to Denver Colorado. It was in the middle of two men. One who is 32, lives in Denver and is named Aaron. Almost immediately after I sat down he asked me if I was on my way home. After talking for about an hour I did some school work and then he asked me about my pictures from Haiti on my computer that he saw. After sharing the story of Ella Grace with him he told me "wow, how lucky, well I mean you know what I mean. I mean how lucky you were to be able to love her for that time." Yes, very lucky. After we had landed I asked him how he was getting home (he lives in Arvada as well) because I was going to have to pay for a taxi or the A-line home. He was like oh yea, I have a car I mean we drove. I asked him if there was a chance he could give me a ride home and he immediately said "yes of course!" 1 hour later and I had arrived home in Arvada without having to pay for a taxi (thank you Jesus).

Third is my friend AJ. He is the most interesting of the three to me because I see the most intentionality of the Lord in my friendship with him. At about 8:30 pm tonight I went to Kinkos to get some of my notes for my seminary classes printed off. I sneezed as I walked in and AJ said, "bless you do you have allergies or are you allergic to Kinkos?" Haha. I showed him all I needed to get printed and he started printing it for me. In the mean time this other man was having trouble with his copy machine so AJ helped him out then the man finished and left. AJ and I were talking a lot about music and the purpose of life. He asked me what I do so I told him about YWAM. He was intrigued that many students find the purpose of life while in DTS, and began to explain to me that he doesn't think he will ever find the purpose of life. We talked and talked and talked as he finished putting together everything I needed printed and then he began to close the store. I was about to walk out when he said, "hey, you are welcome to stay and hang out for a bit while I finish closing the store." I thought to myself 'Of course I would love to stay in Kinkos while you close the store, why am I in such a hurry' and hung around while he closed the door. We ventured outside and sat on the curb as he told me about his grandma and grandpa, his ex-girlfriend and his need for a second job. I asked him why he needed a second job and he told me that he has to help his grandparents out because they don't have work and they need help paying bills. AJ wants to be a professional piano player. He loves to read books, and he loves his grandparents like I have never seen somebody love their grandparents. He is seeking the answers to life's greatest questions, and I have many guy friends who I know would love to tell him. Pray that as we spend time with AJ and befriend him, that he will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as his savior and Lord. The Spirit is stirring in AJ.

TRULY,
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Did Jesus really die for our #happiness?

What happens when people start believing what Victoria Osteen has said on TV?

They start believing Jesus died for their #happiness


Victoria says:

"So I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God (laughs) we're not doing it for God, I mean that's one way to look at it, we're doing it for ourselves; because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That's the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning, so I want you to know this morning: just do good for your own self, do good cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship him, you're not doing it for God really, you're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes "God" happy (lifts hands) Amen?! Let's open our hearts to him today."




(May not want to mention this ^ to Job.)

Thousands clapped their hands and said amen. Why? Because it is exactly what we want to hear. We want to hear that God makes us happy. We want to hear that God takes pleasure when we are happy. We want to hear that what gives him the greatest joy is our obedience for ourselves. We have 'itching ears' to hear that when we come to church and worship him we're not doing it for God really but for ourselves.

So what's so wrong with the fact that this is what the Osteen's claim is one of their beliefs?:


Because they aren't living by it. They are actually taking scripture and completely manipulating it, or one could argue, they aren't even using scripture to make their claims.

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:3-5

When the 'Christian' world is clinging to this false gospel, the world is groaning with expectancy (Romans 8:19-20) for the True Gospel. The world is longing for the Truth (1 Peter 3:18) that sets them free. And the world is longing for a hope above all other hopes that takes them into a relationship with a living, loving, and righteous Father.

But we mustn't forget what Paul wrote in verse 6 of 2 Timothy: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come."

Or what Romans 8 says, "he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in uswho walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." And if we walk according to the flesh, or according to our #happiness we will die. "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."



And we mustn't get confused about why God has us here.

What if I said it was never about us? What if I said the Gospel was really not about what God did for us. Would it make you angry? Would it make you sad? Would the idols inside of you well up and scream out?

Did Jesus really die for our happiness? I mean, is that really how cheap grace is? Let's think back to when we received Grace. 

What did grace do for you? Did it make you stand proudly and say, "wow, now look what Christ has done for me, he has made me happy!"

Grace made us stagger. Grace made us wounded, humble, and broken before a Holy and perfect God. Grace made us see the darkness of our sin, and come crawling on our knees to the cross longing for the Light. Grace made us desperate for love and mercy. Grace walked out of the grave. And Grace showed His nail-pierced hands to us. Not to make us #happy, to make us whole. To give us the opportunity to proclaim Grace to the world.

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14

There's no bigger obstacle to loving God well than our own thorny pride which causes our minds, bodies, and souls to seek advancement and goodness for ourselves. We think about ourselves. We desire happiness. We pursue the avenue which best uplifts ourselves, even at the cost of others. But Grace turns our world upside down and inside out. Grace says it isn't about you, it was never about you. Grace says, "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16

We are here to be living testimony's of God's Grace. We are here to proclaim the glory of God with every breath we take. And we are here to "conquer [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony, because [we will] love not our lives even unto death." Reveleation 12:11



Let us as brothers and sisters in Christ never forget or deny the burden which Paul carried for the lost. And let us not forget the jealousy of our Father "who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4

Let's not forget that the Bible doesn't say in Matthew 5, "blessed are those who do good for themselves because it makes them happy" but it says, blessed are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, and blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you. That's the Gospel.

"I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen." Romans 9:1-5 ESV


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Other sources for further reading:
1. Piper, John The Pleasures of God: 1991 http://www.desiringgod.org/books/the-pleasures-of-god
2. The Gospel Coalition Blog http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2014/03/05/youre-going-to-die-and-so-might-your-dreams/