Trusting the Lord

IMGP0564 01 Trust in the Lord

So I must admit, I have a problem of letting things go and trusting God to take care of me. You could even ask my wife. Aside from “I love you” and “Can you help me with this?”, it’s probably the thing my wife tells me the most. When times get rough, it is the most important thing for us to remember, but the easiest for us to forget.

It seems to me that most people when they have trust issues with the Lord get referred to Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on you own understanding” (NASB). This really is a great verse from a great book. Solomon is trying to help us become wise. The reason we cannot lean on our own understanding goes back to our sinful nature. Even though we want to follow and obey God, our bodies and minds have an inclination to trust ourselves and put us above God. I tend to say a lot “I can fix this” or “How can I help?”. Statements like these are not inherently bad, but I don’t see much room for God to act in them; they are very me-centered. But when I have to hardest time in trusting the Lord is when my family is having financial difficulties.

I recently decided to re-read Isaiah. I found a verse that helps me more than Proverbs does, “If you will only obey [God], you will have plenty to eat” (Isaiah 1:19 NLT). I read that and thought to myself “ain’t that the truth”. There’s even a story about that in the Bible. In the Exodus 15-16, God decides to provide water, manna, and quail for His people. God’s instruction was for them to eat all of it in a day, and when they didn’t, it was rotten by morning. I’m reminded of a song by Kristian Stanfill called The Lord Our God. The lyric in my mind says “Our provision through the desert”. It’s a reference to the story in Exodus. God will provide for us. Today, He is asking us, through the words of Isaiah, to obey Him and He will provide for us.

So simply trusting God is necessary for our lives. And trusting Him through our rough times is even more important in our lives. I get stuck thinking I have to be the provider for myself and my family, but the truth is that God is that provider. Yes, he works through me for the provision, but it is ultimately Him that is the provider. So place your trust in Lord, and let Him help you through the days of your life.

UPDATE: I also thought of this hymn while I was driving today. I had heard a somewhat Jazz version of it while shopping at Hobby Lobby, but I thought that it would fit with this post as well. I thought this was a pretty good arrangement of this hymn.

Mindless Reading?

read-books

Hey guys, guess what. I’m back!!!!!! Today’s post is going to be short, and that’s okay.

I just had someone say something to me that I couldn’t understand. “I am going to read something that I don’t have to use my brain.” WHAT?! I can’t wrap my head around such statement. Now I know that plenty of people want to have mindless reading from time to time. I work in a library, so I see people’s reading habits very well. But I don’t get mindless reading. This person’s comment came from a place where they are a college student, and didn’t want to read something that made her think like college does. I understand that. I went to college for 6 years, and the last 3 I was an online student (if you want to read and think A LOT in college, be an online student). But I have never felt that way. Most of the things that people read “mindlessly” are actually pretty bad for us. Something I’ve seen during my days at the library, is that mindless reading usually equals something involving lots of sex and promiscuity, drugs, and profanity. So if we read these things mindlessly (aka when our defenses are down), is there really any wonder why these things are so prevalent in our society?

Maybe my problem with mindless reading comes from what I read when I need an escape from what I have to read. I turn to the Bible. This was especially difficult when I was studying the Bible, but I did it anyway. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV). I equate this to the words I’m reading, God is actually saying them to me. Have you ever been captivated by a public speaker. I have, and I always seem to love what they have to say. But the greatest speaker there is and ever will be is God. You can’t read the Bible “mindlessly”. You have to think. It causes you to think. It isn’t just words on a page. It is the words of the God that created everything there is and ever will be. I love reading His Word. I can’t imagine any reason I wouldn’t.

So mindless reading really confuses me. I don’t read mindlessly; I can’t. I understand why people think this is what they need to read when they want an escape. But do we really need to mindlessly enter a place full of sin? My encouragement is to read the Bible when you want to escape. To me, reading Scripture is just like going to the Throne Room of God and listening to Him speak these words and tell these stories. That, my friends, is so much better than escaping to a fantasy world full of the things God would not be proud of.

PS Please don’t think I’m criticizing this person. I fully understand their viewpoint. It just brought forth a topic that I thought I would share with the blog!

Hiatus :(

Yesterday I didn’t make a post. Some of that decision was intentional, and the other rest is that I am simply very busy at the moment. I really didn’t have anything to say yesterday. And I honestly would rather not try to force a blog post.

So until I can get out of this busy period (probably next week), I have to go on hiatus so I can focus on work. I will be see you guys soon!

If You Believe The Way You Say You Do

helping-hand

I’ve been listening to a CD the last couple of days and a song has really struck me. The CD is Need You Now from the artist Plumb, and the song is Unlovable. It has struck me because it has gotten me to think about the way we, as Christians, tend to view people and treat them accordingly. This is especially a problem when they aren’t your typical Christian. For instance, the typical Christian would view a single mother, that was never married, much differently than a woman who had been married or is a widow. Why? Any one who believes in Christ should be treated the same as other Christians.

In Mark 2, we see Jesus eating at a table with sinners and tax collectors. These men and women were largely thought of by the Pharisees as non-associables. The religious leaders wanted nothing to do with them, and were shocked that a man who not only is a teacher, but a man claiming to be the Son of God would associate with these people. When asked he responds, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NASB). Jesus spent time with these men and women because he saw a need and sought to fill it. As Christians we should do the same.

I feel that in today’s culture, we get so hung up on how to live and doing the right thing, that we tend to push people away. People reject the gospel, not because of personal unbelief, but because of how a “Christian” acted. To me, this behavior is probably finger-pointing (it could be other things, but this usually what it has been). Putting people down, and showing them all the ways they have been wrong is not the best way to lead people to Christ. Yet, this seems to be the preferred way. I believe that the best way is through a conversation that shows all the good Jesus has done for us, not all the wrong we’ve done against God. It’s true, we’ve all done bad (Romans 3:23). We cannot maintain the high standard God has for us. But that is the point of Jesus. God knew that we couldn’t fulfill all His requirements, so He came to earth to fulfill them for us.

So we must think about the way we speak to non-believers about Christ. We can’t push people away that need our help. Christ came to help sinners like you and me, so we must also be here to help sinners like us. The lyrics that got me thinking about this were:

“Why me?
Why am I not welcome in your company?
Why do you treat me like an enemy?
If you believe the way you say you do
Oh, then why am I unlovable to you?
Oh, why am I unlovable to you?”
-Plumb, Unlovable

So let us perpetuate this faith that we say we believe and extend our hands to help those that come to us looking for help. It’s what Christ would do, so we should to.

Giving Your Best

2012-05-20_Give_God_Your_Best-940x528

I have recently been faced with a problem. This problem has been going on for quite sometime. Am I really giving my best to God?

When I first began in worship ministry, there was absolutely no way I was giving my best.I could blame it on many things, but when you come down to it, I wasn’t doing the best job I could. I was let go from my church and spent a year away from it before God gave me an opportunity to lead again. I gladly took the position with the vow to myself “I will always be do my best and getting better!” I have been doing pretty well. But this week, my ministry hits a turning point. The outcome could change the way that the worship ministry at my church operates. It hurts to think about and I truly wish that I could skip it. But I’ve reached a point that I have to be an administrator and thumb down some rules.

Despite the hardship though, this is actually a good thing. Paul writes, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, on who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT). Without God’s approval, we cannot receive God’s blessing. I personally have seen this countless times. If I act before God, or don’t even consult Him at all, my plans seem to fail and end horrible. That’s even in the Bible: “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT). This is even more important in the life of ministry. Since we are doing God’s work, if we don’t wait we are acting like builders of a building without consulting their foreman.

God also tells us in the book of Proverbs, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4 NASB). This rings pretty true with me. My management style has never really been one of force. It’s more, I’m just around to make sure nothing bad happens. But that’s not what God is saying here. In order for our deeds to do well in the world, we must be diligent about our work. We cannot say, “whatever happens, happens”. Instead we must be intentional about everything we do, because, as Paul says, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB).

Therefore, we must give our best to God. It’s what He wants from us. Whether you are in leadership or not, you must give God your best. It’s true that our best might not be as good as someone else’s (at least the way we see it), but I assure you that God loves to see your best. So give it to Him. If you haven’t been doing the best job, like me, than it is time for a change. Let’s make a change. God wants and deserves our best. So what’s holding us back? Let’s give it to Him, and be glad that we did.

O Praise Him

o_praise_him_by_juliabohemian-d4pk775

I promise guys. One day I will figure this whole blogging thing out and actually post stuff when their supposed to be posted.

Any way, this week I though I would post about O Praise Him by David Crowder* Band. The song often asks worshipers to turn towards heaven and praise Him. Praise is defined as the offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship. That’s all this song is asking of us, to simply turn and worship the Lord with praise. A good way to also look at this song is through the lens of Psalm 148:

“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for He has issued his command, and they came
into being.”
-Psalm 148:1-5, NLT

I love this song as a way to get worship started. Its a good way to get people to be thinking upwards, right from the beginning.

So have a listen below.

This Weeks Set

  • Fill Me Up – Preston Howell
  • O Praise Him – David Crowder* Band
  • How Great Is Our God – Chris Tomlin
  • You Alone Can Rescue – Matt Redman
  • Always – Kristian Stanfill
  • One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails) – performed by Kristian Stanfill

Build Up Others (Romans 15 & 16)

photo (1)

Well friends, here we are. I decided to go ahead and put the last two chapters together, so that way we can start something new on Monday. Not sure what it is, I may just talk.

There is a very important task for us as in the life of being a Christian. It’s not one that many people seem to talk about, and it most certainly isn’t one that I’d given much thought to until I was placed in leadership. It is something that is hard for us to do, especially when we are new to the faith. But it is a vital part to our walk of faith. What I’m speaking of is pouring into someone else. It is important for us to share Jesus with people. This saving grace of ours is not something we can, or should, keep to ourselves.

Paul tells us, “We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” (15:2 NLT). It is important to help people. Take every opportunity to help people, and open the Scriptures up to them. If we don’t do this, we miss opportunities to turn people to Christ, or even simply to just make new friends. I had an experience with this today at work. As I was preparing for this post, someone at work saw I had my Bible open. She asked me about a specific verse that she wasn’t able to understand. I was able to help her understand, and I could see her eyes open to it.

As a worship leader, I must pour into both the congregation I serve and the team that helps me. This doesn’t mean that I need to be having a Bible study with them every time we get together. But it is important to see how everyone is doing. Checking in with the Senior pastor so she can pour into me and I into her.

The other part of this is that this helps us to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus commanded us to make more disciples. We cannot do this unless we are building others up in Christ. It is important because not only does it further the gospel message, it can help us learn more about our faith. I find speaking to people who either aren’t Christians or new to the faith, help my faith much more than speaking to a pastor or someone more mature than me. Don’t get me wrong, speaking with more mature Christians is great too. But “newbies” tend to think of thing I hadn’t. Then we get to travel into the Bible and learn together.

I suppose the main point is to find someone that you can spend time and learn together with. Our faith is not based on a blind decision and devotion. It is important to continue to learn and build others up in Christ. Help them through difficult passages, or times in their lives. They will be able to do the same for you when you have a need. So stand strong and help others and build them up in Christ!

Previous Chapters

Live In Harmony (Romans 14)

live_in_harmony_print-r45a2b6a348244e968417771fa5e63950_ea28_8byvr_324

In this chapter Paul is speaking about the danger of believers criticizing other believers. It seems that the problem arose from believers saying that other believers were wrong by their dietary preferences or when they choose to worship. Paul’s concern is that it is important to have faith, but it is not important to nitpick in such a way. “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.” (14:1 NLT).  The important thing is to believe in Jesus.

Now obviously there are things that are wrong. There are teachings out there that are completely against the gospel, even though they claim to follow Jesus. It is important for those that are more mature in the faith to correct those that start to follow these false teachings, but otherwise we cannot pick out every detail.

There is a couple at our church that my wife and I have started to become friends with. They are vegetarians and my wife has been quoted as saying, “Salad isn’t food, salad is what food eats.” Now Paul is saying that neither of us is wrong. Now we could have a theological argument over this, but honestly in the scope of salvation it is a non-issue.

But I think what lies at the root of this chapter is what Paul says in verse 19, “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” (NLT). The church isn’t a place where we tell everyone they are wrong, or beat each other down. It is supposed to be a safe place where believers can gather with other believers and build each other up. It is true that everyone has a slightly different approach and view of God and Jesus, and that is because of their experience. All those viewpoints help us to know the true God. Music is pretty boring if every instrument and voice did the same part. It become interesting when we add harmony. So just like music, harmony is important in the life of the church. Simply do everything for the glory of God.

Previous Chapters

Being a Christian is Counter-cultural (Romans 13)

13616155-one-way-road-sign-that-says-jesus-with-blue-clouds-in-the-background

In today’s chapter, Paul seems to question the way both the Jews and Gentiles run their lives. Many of these comments he makes, still hold relevance in our lives today. When you read the Bible, it is pretty amazing how many times life really hasn’t changed that much since Jesus’ day, and even before.

The first comment that he makes, that is totally counter-cultural is to have respect for authority (especially government authority). “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (13:1 NLT). I wrote a little bit on following authority back in July. But it still holds true today. But it goes beyond just submitting. We have to show respect. We’re almost a year away from the last election, and people today still get pretty nasty over the winner or loser. It’s true that we can disagree with whatever policies or laws are made, but that doesn’t give us the right to name call or speak negatively. As a Christian, I believe that it is our duty to show right respect and submit to authority without any complaints. It is the world’s job to complain, not ours.

Paul goes on to call government “God’s servants”. They are charged with upholding the peace here on earth. God handles the eternal justice, but government is told to handle physical punishments. Paul said in the last chapter, “Don’t think you are better than you really are.” (12:3 NLT). If we were given the gifts and abilities to participate in government, that’s where we would be. Being in government is a special call, and not everyone can do it. But since we disagree does not meant that we are better than “God’s servants”, so don’t act like you are. Do the counter-cultural thing and accept governments role over you. Thank goodness we have the right to vote in the United States. That gives us the ability to voice our opinion. If you aren’t fond of the government, vote to change it. Otherwise, we must follow it’s lead (provided it doesn’t conflict with the way of God).

The second counter-cultural point that spoke to me in this chapter comes towards the end. In today’s world, along with the culture of Rome during the time of Paul’s writing, a party culture seems to reign supreme (especially for my age group). Nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with going to parties all weekend and getting drunk. Sexual promiscuity is a big issue as well. It isn’t a problem for people to fight with others over something simple or a misunderstanding. And there is a “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality among most people. Yet Paul writes, “Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.” (13:13 NLT). The world tells us that behaving this way is some how wrong, and the word “prude” gets thrown around. But what if Christians lived this way, and tried to help people see the error in their ways. The world would probably become a better place, and some of our problems might not be issues any more.

The things that God asks us to do, don’t always feel like big things. But when we think about what our friends, family, and the rest of the wold choose to do because “everyone else does it”, we begin to see how counter-cultural this way of life really is. So my friends, I encourage to know that you are not alone. We all have these issues to fight against, and God wants us to do it. This way we prove that we are His, and not the world’s. “So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” (13:12 NLT). It will be hard, but God is there for you, to help you remain His and go against culture.

Previous Chapters

Be Jesus (Romans 12)

God-is-love

There’s a phrase that I’ve heard a lot, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It’s a great sentiment, and definitely the point Paul is making in this chapter. But Paul’s point isn’t to just make the world better, it is to show the love of God to the world.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (12:2 NLT). In Christ, we have become new creations. We are no longer the same people we were when we were in sin. However, every once in a while we fall and become like the person we were before. But God gives us the power to fight that tendency off, if we let Him. God has a will for our lives, and it is the best life we could possibly have. It might not be the same as the Jones’, it may not even be what you think is the best life. But God knows what is best, and wants to give it to us.

The two things that Jesus calls us to do is love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to also love each other as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). This is a very important commandment in our Christian walk. Extending grace and love should be something that we do instinctively. However, I know it’s hard to accomplish this task. Whether it be co-worker, friend, family, or someone you go to church with. Love is hard. Paul says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (12:9 NLT). This means that we can’t just say that we love someone, or act nicely to them, then turn around and be mean about them. We can’t pretend. Loving God and loving people is something that we either do or don’t do, we can’t pretend.

The last thing that Paul gets at in this chapter is to allow God to handle evil. “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (12:21 NLT). This is a basic aspect of Jesus like love. Paul uses an example from Proverbs, “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.” (12:20, Proverbs 25:21 NLT). To me, the best example I can think of is in the gospel of Luke, when Jesus is arrested, Peter cuts off one of the guards ears. Now this man is clearly an enemy of Jesus. He works for the Pharisees and is seeking to arrest Jesus. But Jesus kneels down to him, and gives his ear back! (Luke 22:50-51). If Jesus can heal a man who came to arrest him, we should be able to treat our enemy as another human being, rather than ignore them or fight them at every opportunity.

As a Heart Man, we must constantly search for what is in God’s heart. I am convinced that at the center of it is love. That is the central point of our faith. Love and faith were such a different idea than what was taught in the time. As we have seen a lot in this writing, most believers thought that it was all about ritual and all the hoops to jump through. But Jesus said different. As Christians we should not do what the world tells us, and love the way God loves us. Sometimes it means a sacrifice for you, that’s when it’s hard, but it is just as important to do it. Think of Jesus on the Cross.

Previous Chapters