Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Godliness

It's been another little while, as I've been rather busy, but I've been wanting to get this post up for several days now. Last weeks camps went very well, but that's not what I want to write about. I've been able to talk with one of my very good friends alot the past couple of weeks, and they have amazed me with how spiritually mature they are, and being several years younger than I am. I can tell you, when I was in High School, I was nowhere near like that.

You see, I tried to make God my top priority for years. And I failed, quite miserably. I have learned a lot in the past 6 months, and one thing I've learned is you can't make God a priority. God has to be your life. If you try to make Him your top priority, you can't have the relationship He wants with you. Make God your life, and then your priorities will fall in line.

My friend has done this, 4 years ahead of me. I can probably quote more scripture, debate doctrine more intellectually, give history behind a lot of Bible stories, and do basic word studies on some Old Testament passages. But what good is all that without the right relationship with the One who made all of that? I have been challenged, my friends, to increase my love for my Lord and Savior. It's really not hard...read the gospel message everyday. In our camps, we weave the gospel into every story we tell, so I hear it everyday. When you hear what Jesus Christ did for you every single day, it's hard not to thank Him for it, to praise Him, and to love Him all the more. That's my challenge to you guys: reflect on what God did for you.

John 3:16- God loves the entire world.

Romans 3:23- We have all sinned, and that seperates us from God

Ephesians 1:7- Jesus came and died on the cross, shedding His blood to cover our sin, only to rise 3 days later to prove His power over sin and death, and therefore gives us a way to be with God again.

1 John 1:9- Just confess our sins to Him, and He is faithful and just to forgive them, just like that.

2 Peter 3:18- We must grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and further our relationship with Him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I have been challenged recently to start looking at the Bible a little bit differently than I used to. Look at its stories from a different perspective. It's really amazing how we think we know a story from the Bible, because we've heard it in Sunday School and read about it in our lesson books. Why don't we look back in the Bible at these stories? Are we so inflated that we think we've gotten everything there is to know about them? Take Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Shane and Shane's most recent album has a song called "Burn us up", it's quite possibly their coolest song of all time, and it's about that story. But there's a point in the bridge where the lyrics say:

You are able to deliver from the fire of affliction
It's the declaration of my Lord
You're not an image of gold
You're the God of Old
You have made us, come and save us, we are yours
But even if you don't we will burn.
I decided to go back to Daniel and read this story from the Bible. This is what Daniel 3:16-18 says:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, But if not we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
We always look at this story as a great story of deliverance for God's servants, and it is, but I have never heard that part before: Even if God doesn't save us, we will not bow to you. They went there fully expecting to be burned alive for God, and they were ready and willing to. What a picture of obedience! For some reason, we tend to overlook that part of our stories. Even with Jesus. Most people, when you ask them why Jesus died on the cross, they will say it's because He loves them. And that is definitely true, I am not saying He doesn't, and that is definitely one of the reasons. But if you read any of the four gospel accounts, Jesus was praying to God beforehand, pleading for any other way. But, God planned only one way, and Jesus loved His Father so much, "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross." (Phillippians 2:8)
The ultimate picture of obedience was Jesus Christ. God, in the form of a man, resisting all temptation to do His Father's will and lay down His life for us on that cross. Can we really say we love God that much? That's where our obedience comes from: our love. Do you love God enough to lay down your life for Him? It's a difficult question to answer here in America. We can easily say of course we do, never have to think twice about it, because the odds are we'll never have to find out. If I can love God that much, what would anybody have on me? That's my challenge to myself. To increase my love for my heavenly Father, to the point where I can say with Paul "to live is Christ but to die is gain."
Sorry for the novel, but this has been stewing around in my head for a while...til next time.