Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Book of Sinners

Do you ever feel worthless, useless, unqualified? Have you ever taken a look at yourself through the Law and decide there's no reason God should use you-- of all people-- to work for His Kingdom?

I think sometimes it's easy to see others and view them as somehow better than us, more godly, more qualified to be used by God. However, one thing that I love about the Word is that it doesn't sugar coat the people God used throughout the Old and New Testament. Instead, it shows how God would choose a man or woman, they would sin against Him, and yet He would still call them back to Himself and continue to work through them. Take a look at these men and women of the Bible:

Abram and Sarai doubted God's provision (Genesis 16)

Moses killed a man (Exodus 2)

David was an adulterer and a murderer (2 Samuel 11)

Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1)

Jonah ran from God (Jonah 1)

Peter denied Christ (Matthew 26:69-70)

This is just a short list of many, many men and women in the Bible that God chose to work through. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". It doesn't say some, this is an all inclusive verse describing every human to ever have walked on this earth. Yes, that includes you and me, but it also includes David, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Mary, Paul and all of the other great men and women in the Bible.

Satan is going to show you your failures again and again. Martin Luther once said, "When Satan taunts me with my sins, at first I try to reason with him. Then I quote Scripture". The hymn Before the Throne of God Above speaks of this as well in the second verse:

"When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me."

You have been forgiven, you have been set free. Sin is not longer your master! When you start to feel inadequate in light of how many times you've failed God, recall that Christ died to release you of your bond. Rest in that today.

Worry No More

Hey guys
As I've mentioned before, I'm doing a read through the Bible with some of my friends from my hometown. I came across a great verse during the reading yesterday, Luke 12:25. It reads: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" This is not the only time the Bible mentions worry either. Matthew 6:34 reads: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." I think these two verses are great reminders for us. They aren't saying that we should just be completely apathetic about things. It simply means that we should control things that we are able to. There is not enough time to spend stressing about things that are out of our control and, like we read in Luke 12:25, the worrying won't accomplish anything anyway. It's yet another reminder to give your worries up to God and trust in him that he will take care of you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Escalators are still Exciting

Yesterday I had a meeting with the Young Life staff from the South West Twin Cities Area. This does not sound exciting. But let me tell you what - five wonderful co-workers of mine converged at the Mall of America for a little business, and we had a great time. While I was waiting for everyone to arrive, I sat by two escalators. Again, this does not sound exciting.

Now I didn't grow up riding riding escalators on a regular bassis, so any opportunity I get to stand in one spot while going up the stairs is an opportunity I don't want to miss. While I do this, the thought always enters my mind to go the wrong direction - go down the up, and then up the down.

So there I am, almost 23 years old, smiling like a child, bounding down the up escalator. Things started off well as my legs battled gravity, my mind was focused, and innocent bystanders gawked. What seems awkward at first becamea nice rhythm as my feet stepped down and glided back, inefficient but enjoyable, going against the flow. A successful journey almost ended in humiliation, but agility, experience, and determination landed my feet firmly on stationary ground. One step backward and I was enjoying an effortless ride back to the top.

As a Christian, I feel like I should be running down the up escalator of life all the time. Too often I follow the crowd, step on the moving staircase, and enjoy an effortless ride to the top. I don't even think about putting one foot in front of the other and next thing I know, I'm stumbling over myself at the top as everyone around me hurries on by.

As a Christian "young adult" it is easiest to live the way my culture is living. What does that look like? I'm involved in all areas of life. I am getting networked for the rest of my life. I should be capitalizing on every opportunity, making the most of my day. Staying connected, technology is at my fingertips more often than not. As a student I am studying after going to class. Going to work and staying out of debt. Now is the time when I should be seeing the world, having fun, and meeting new people. My body needs exercising. And of course, I'm trying to grow in my relationship with Christ.

Why do I notice the busyness more than I notice how I am growing closer to Christ?
Why is it hard for me to listen to God?
Why am I frustrated with the way my schedule shapes my life?

God clearly tells us humans how we are to live our life each week. Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15 both give Christian "young adults" a pattern for life that God desires us to follow. In light of God's work during Creation (Exodus) and His people being liberated from Egypt (Deuteronomy), the Sabbath is heavy on the heart of our Father. Work six days then rest on the seventh day. Simple. The cultures I am surrounded by today, both secular and Christian, simply do not have the rhythym of Sabbath rest incorporated into them. Living a life that goes against the flow is not easy. Going from a schedule that I'm used to, back to what God desires takes planning, prayer, and power that only God provides.

I have heard the Gospel. The Holy Spirit has lead me to respond in faith. But unfortunately I have continued to live my life the way culture sees fit. I've been hopping on the escalator with everyone around me. It sure is busy, but it feels right - until I realize that I'm no different today than I was yesterday.

God has been pulling me back toward Him for a long time.

God wants me to run down the up escalator with Him.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Every year at the Doctor's Office I work at they have a big Halloween theme competition. We have two suites and each suite competes to win a nice dinner out paid for by the Doctor that owns the practice

We've known about this competition for weeks. My suite decided to do The Wizard of Oz and the other side is doing Toy Story. Each team was supposed to decorate their suite with their theme this weekend and we are coming in costume to work on Friday.

On Sunday I went to work to help decorate and to my surprise only two other people on my team showed up to decorate our suite! I felt frustrated and disappointed that so few people on my team came to help. The other team however showed up in full force to decorate their suite.

The difference in sides showed. The other team showed up and worked together and did a fantastic job decorating. Our side did not.

Who do you think will win this contest?

A week ago I read 1 Corinthians 12, verses 12-31 are entitled "One body, many parts."

Verses 24-27 especially stood out to me. "While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

When you lack unity it's not just the whole body that suffers, but the individual parts also suffer.

I'm encouraged by the way God intends for us to work together. I'm encouraged that we share in each others sufferings and joys. I'm encouraged that we are not alone. When we go it alone we burden ourselves. We end up frustrated, discouraged, hurt and disappointed. God has created us to need others. We are not self sufficient. We miss out on the blessing others have to give us and we have to give others when we do not work together.

I think this short video shows the need for others and for teamwork perfectly:

What happened at work isn't disappointing because we won't win. What's disappointing is that we failed to be a team.

We forget to ask others if the need us and we forget to ask others when we need them. I think our responsibility is two fold. I think it's our responsibility to seek help from others and I think it's our responsibility to offer to help others.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hope is a wonderfully glorious thing.  I heard someone say a few weeks ago that much is lost when hope is gone.  I would have to agree with Him.  Hebrews 11 says that faith is the assurance of things HOPED for.

What do you hope for?  I find myself to be hoping for a lot of silly things all of the time.  Mostly though, I find myself hoping just to be able to get through the day.  I wonder why this is.  I think that it has much to do with being nearsighted.  I focus on the things of this world way to much and not on that which is to come farther down the road of life and eternity.  I look at my circumstances way more than how God would want me to be in those circumstances.  We are called to walk by faith and when I get caught up in how THINGS are instead of how I am, I am not walking by faith.  The way that I live is a direct reflection of that which I am hoping for.  

If all I want is my circumstances to change then that is what I am going to be focusing my time andy energy on because that is what I think is going to be bringing me peace, joy, happiness, contentment, and all of those kinds of things that we really want in life.  The Apostle Paul had something interesting to say about that.  He said that he had learned to be content in all circumstances because he had found Christ to be his strength.  

If I spend all of my time and energy worrying and fretting over things that more than likely I can't change and even if I do somehow get them to change I won't be joyful, happy, or content because I'll still be the same, and I'll continue to be miserable.  Here's what I am finding.  When my faith is in trying to change my circumstances to bring some joy back into my life it's not going to happen and I am also not hoping for very much.  When I find myself hoping for the things that the Bible speaks about me having in this life I find myself placing my faith in the One who can deliver that which I am hoping for.  Those things come to me when I am living in a relationship with Him and letting Him do the the things that only He can do and trying to change everything around me all of the time.

God is a rewarder of those who put their faith in Him, and so I ask you, "What are you hoping for and what have you placed your faith in in order to receive that which you are hoping for?"

Side-note: I'm not saying we don't have any responsibility regarding the circumstances of our life, but I am saying that I we are looking to them for the joy, peace, and fulfillment that only God can give us, then our hope and our faith is misguided and whether our circumstances change or not we will be miserable.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Tonight, I'm feeling a little discouraged. Discouraged because of the falling numbers of youth group involvement. Discouraged because last year, there was never a night where no one showed up to girls Bible study; discouraged because that happened tonight. Discouraged because of the apparent lack of passion and love for Jesus by many in our community - and even our church.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever feel the way I am feeling tonight?

Tonight, I'm seeking encouragement from the Lord in His Word. If you're feeling the same as me - or if you ever have felt the same, ponder and rest in these words from our Heavenly Father:

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace . . . '" - Isaiah 55:8-12a

"'For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.'" - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

"[Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." - Galatians 6:9-10

Often times, I wish I could spark passion and love into the hearts of those around me. But then I am reminded of the complete miracle that salvation is - and the complete work that is done by the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful for the gifts He has given to me, the greatest work being His redemption. But how can we best teach that to those around us - those who need Him most but whose hearts are so far from Him?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let Him

Why do we as Christians so often say that we want to change, that we want to give everything to God and let Him do His work, but then we listen to the world, and our view of ourself is distorted, and we want to be in control of our lives again...Then when we fail we think that we have once again failed God and that we will always be a disappointment.

Today the challenge in the world is to see ourselves as God sees us. I came across this clip by The Skit Guys, and it really opened my eyes to see that there are so many areas that I am not wanting God to "chisel" away - things that are bringing me more harm that good, but yet I cling so tightly to them.

The Skit Guys - God's Chisel

The skit says it well, that we can never let God down, because we were never holding Him up. Let God work in every area of your life. It will hurt. But it will be the best thing that could ever happen to you. Let's let God work in us so that we may bring glory to His name.

Buffalo Stampede

Ideas stampede through my mind like buffalo used to stampede through the plains of central Montana. Sometimes in the midst of the stampede is one lost buffalo calf, circling aimlessly, dodging the bigger guys, and somehow surviving the stampede. Often times this happens in my mind with ideas.

A little buffalo of an idea that has been running circles in my head for the past four years comes from Clay Binford. When I told Clay that I had been listening to the band Burlap to Cashmere, he had me listen to Stephen Delopoulos. The first track on his album, Me Died Blue is called "Another Day." When Clay first dropped this dope track, he told me about an incredible idea he had for a commercial. He vividly painted a picture of a luxury car driving through Glacier National Park, a content family on vacation, soaking in the magnificent views while the song "Another Day" plays in the background.

To my knowledge, Clay's idea is still an idea. The idea is stampeding through my head today. Does this mean that the idea will become reality? Maybe another day.

Too often the Holy Spirit nudges me to make a phone call, send a letter, or stop what I'm doing and have a conversation with someone. I tend to say: "I'll do that another day." Recently, I put off a phone call for two weeks before scrolling through my phone's contact list and pushing send. I waited until another day left a voicemail. A text message came as the response. Instead of quickly texting back, I waited until another day. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit had that idea going through my head to have that conversation with that an old friend. Our communication kept getting put off for another day, but we finally met up.

You'd think a hundred years worth of buffalo stampedes crashed through that coffee shop on Tuesday. In less than three hours, Jeremy and I shared more ideas with each other than is humanly possible.

Some of these ideas were what we ought to be doing with our current reality. Other ideas were looking forward to the new lives we will have after our temporal life on earth comes to an end. Ideas about creativity, money, friends, trust, outer space, books, concerts, houses, family, communicating God's unconditional love, degrees, jobs, memories, Sabbath rest, and growing up. What I put off until another day was so encouraging that I was left hoping for another day like the one I just lived.

I have an idea.

Don't live another day saying you'll do what God wants you to do another day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Come to the Wedding Feast

Is it just me, or do you find the teachings of Jesus extremely convicting? Even just simple snippets . . . a small amount of words from the Word can have a huge impact. Just the other day I read Matthew 22 during my devotions. The first 14 verses contain the Parable of the Marriage Feast. If you've got your Bible handy, pull it out and read those verses - if you don't have a Bible handy, I'll still quote it down below. There's just something reading the Word on printed paper versus screen, if you ask me.

"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out outher slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destoryed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen.'" - Matthew 22:1-14
As I read that passage over the other day, I was struck by the simplicity of the king's invitation in verse 5 - "Come to the wedding feast". And yet, how the invitation was not gladly, excitedly accepted. "But they paid no attention and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business . . ." (vs.6) We're busy people, aren't we? The busier we are, the more important we feel. The more important we feel, the less we feel like we need the Lord. It's easy to give up an hour on Sunday morning (well, some mornings. As long as we're not too tired and didn't go to bed too late) and call it good. But Jesus wants so much more than that - in fact, I think we could even be so bold as to say that He requires more than that. A few chapters earlier in Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, "'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (16:24-25)

O friend, may we not be found going about our own business when there is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb to attend. May we not be so consumed with ourselves that we overlook those around us who are also invited to this Feast.

"Be Thou my vision, O LORD of my heart.
Not be all else to me save that Thou art."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hold Fast

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our Lord will stand forever"
-Isaiah 40:8

I'm a nanny for the cutest, sweetest, most perfect little one year old on the face of the earth. Okay, maybe I'm a little biased...but she's still great. We often go on walks in this beautiful autumn weather as they are surrounded by the most lovely nature right in the middle of the cities. Right outside their place there are bushes and bushes of wildflowers, so I usually pick one for her to play with on our walk. As I picked a big, yellow one for her last week I noticed she still had it when we got back, she had held onto that flower with all of her might so that it had no resemblance of a flower at all at the end.

This made me think of all the "flowers" I hold onto in my life. Whether it be actual flowers that I'm refusing to throw away at the moment, or trivial things in life that I hold onto, they're going to pass away. The Word of God assures us of that. However, it is the Word that will remain forever, God's Holy Word-- which, like Him, cannot fade. How awesome is that!

The phrase "hold fast" is seen in the ESV Bible 23 times. Among other things, we're called to hold onto our righteousness, our integrity, love and justice, goodness, God, and His Word. This phrase always reminds me of someone who refuses to let go, as puts it "something securely in place"

So you can try to hold fast to something in life, such as flowers, relationships, or whatever it is that you're holding onto. However, they will fail you. Friends, let us hold fast to that which cannot fail us, God and His Holy Word! I hope this will challenge and encourage you this day to examine what you're holding onto in this life.

"You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him"
Deuteronomy 13:4

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mileage Matters

A car's lifespan is measured by mileage rather than years. My lifespan should be measured in the same way. I bought my 1993 Subaru Loyale when it was fourteen years old. That doesn't mean too much when you're buying a used car. If the odometer would have read 1310 miles the car would have been categorized as "new." Since the odometer actually said 131,000 miles, the car was "used." Now a used car, is by no means useless.

That same odometer rolled over to 196,000 miles last week. Today the oil was changed and it received a little "tender loving care." What happened between 131,000 and 196,000 miles? Did "The Silver Bullet" sit in the garage? Was my little station wagon gently going to the grocery store and picking up a gallon of milk? Were the windshield wipers cracking and peeling because of the fan in front of the treadmill?

No stinking way! This old car has carried me up and over mountains. Unintentionally chased tornadoes across rolling farm land. Shivered through an exceptionally cold winter night in North Dakota. Rallied through mud puddles. Transformed to a bed and breakfast for a transient ski bum. Hauled Icelanders, Kiwis, and Swedes up the ski hill road. Moved college kids from apartment to apartment. And despite a few clanks, bangs, and a rattle and hum, this old car has been a sanctuary where God has filled a life with memories, joy, and a love for life.

Does an old car just magically continue to run? No. Routine maintenance keeps it healthy. Simple steps are taken to keep things in working order. Sometimes an extensive repair causes stress, lost time, and an empty wallet but in hindsight, it's worth it. When the Subaru was 17 years old, it never looked better. The hatch back was delicately embraced with a beautiful arrangement of stickers. The new roof rack increased it's storage capacity. But some things under the hood were looking sketchy. An overwhelming number of dollars were spent, parts were replaced, and some tears may have been shed; but new life was breathed into an old body.

When I was 17 years old, the miles were beginning to take their toll on me. I know I sound like that guy down the hall in the nursing home, but I'm for real. Satan had deceived yet another teenage guy growing up in a comfortable Christian home. While my outer appearance, actions, and reputation said one thing, lies filled me up inside. Pornography and masturbation were rotting me deep to my core. At the same time I still looked appealing to the world. Gossip, slander, and jokes that broke hearts faster than they showed love flowed out of my mouth. On Sundays that same tongue shaped words that sounded like the poems of the Psalmist. Activity filled my weeks, leaving little time for routine maintenance. It was time to check the oil, replace some parts, and put new life into an old body.

God used normal humans to show me what was going on under my hood. I was looking shiny and ready for the road, but disaster was bound to take place. Rather than allowing me to blow a head gasket, crack a block, or burn all of my oil; God used the knowledge I had from a Christian K-8 education, the routine of church and youth group, and the desire to be friends with many people to give me a complete overhaul.

Have I been fixed up to sit in the garage? No. Has the Master Mechanic done some free work that has allowed me to have more adventures than I ever imagined? Yes. Do I require routine maintenance, the occasional oil change, and a new part now and then? Yes. Everyday is a new day. God fills my tank free of charge. I just have to show up. I don't know how many miles God will let me drive with Him, but I can't wait to see where He takes me!

Take time to "look under the hood" today. Ask God to show you what you need to let him repair. Let Him fill your tank for free.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Love Love Love

I've been thinking all week about love. I keep asking myself "what is love?"  1 Corinthians 13:4-7,13 says "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

I've been trying to figure out how to love people. How do I love people? How do I love my family? How do I love my friends? How do I love my co-workers? 

I've failed to help a friend in need because of my selfishness. I've watered love down.

I've said that I cared or love people but haven't backed those words up with actions. I've made love flippant. 

I've said I love food or clothes or a movie. I've thrown love around casually.

I've spoken carelessly, harshly, unkindly and unfairly. I've forgotten to love altogether.

What is love? 

1 John 4:9-10 "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. "

What is love?

I think love has become a word used to describe feeling, but when the Bible talks about love it is an ACTION! 

I can say I love my brother, but that means nothing if it isn't backed by actions. This morning my brother asked me for a ride to the bus stop because he was running late. My reaction was not instantly willing or kind. If I gave him a ride, I would have to leave earlier than normal for work, which meant less time to get ready. I gave him a ride, not because I wanted to, but because I love him. Love was in the act of giving him a ride. I can tell him I love him every day, but I would fail to love him, if I didn't put that love into action.

This is love: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

The Bible says that love is greater than faith. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13) 

Let that sink in for a moment. Love is greater than faith.

What does that mean for us?

Faith is believing, but love is put into action.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

How will you put love into action in your life?

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Key

Nearly two weeks ago, in our "quiet" little town of Beulah, ND, the high school received a bomb threat. Praise the Lord no bombs were found, the threat was not executed and the students remained safe. As a safety response/precaution, the school district had the entire school re-keyed. That means new locks on every door, many new keys - and a busy Beulah Lumber (& Lock Service!).

While I don't know enough to re-key a lock, I have been taught the craft of making new keys. Despite the gitters I get before I begin, it's a fairly simple process. The key-making machine has two key holders - one on the left side for the old key being copied, one on the right side for the brand new key - the key that is cut away to produce an identical copy of the old key. Once the keys are securely locked in their places, the switch is flipped, the saw turns on, and the keys are brought up near the saw. One thing I learned early on in the key-making process is to not look at the key you are cutting. Keep your eyes on the first, old key as you push down the length of the key. Let the saw cut its way through the new key, carving it to match the old key. Taking your eye off the old key and looking at new will often cause a mistake. Only when you are completely finished - every groove cleanly cut - can you turn off the machine, remove your new key, and compare it to the first key.

As I was engrossed in making approximately 25 keys last week, I was struck by the thought of how similar we are to those keys. Jesus is that first key - the initial one that we, the new key, are being copied into. For those of us being copied to be like Jesus, it's not always an easy process or a pain-free one. Difficult times come, but as the Word promises us, these difficulties are often for our good.
". . . He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:10-11)
During such times, we don't know what the end result will be. All we know is that we're being cut, and that it hurts. But the Lord will not give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) and He is with us during our trials (Hebrews 13:5).

No matter what your circumstances are, trust Jesus. Cling to Him. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, He is the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). The Lord has something incredible in mind - He is making you more like His Son, Jesus Christ. What an image to be copied into!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hey guys
Going to church on Sunday is a good thing, but it's not enough. It's good to spend time with God every day, be it just in prayer or as a daily Bible study that you do. My friends and I have a Bible study going right now. Nothing too out of the ordinary, until you consider that we are all in different cities. What we are doing is a year long walk through the Bible, and how we are sharing our feelings on the readings is in the form of a blog. I really like doing it, and if you have friends who are in college elsewhere it's a great way to stay in contact with them and to keep growing in the Lord. For those of you still in high school, I'll suggest something we did when I was in high school. Once a week we met, in the mornings before school, usually at a coffee shop or cafe in town. We would rotate devotionals with somebody different going each week, speaking about whatever it was that we wanted. It was a great time to learn more about God, especially from the perspectives of people your own age. I really enjoyed just spending the time and growing closer as a group as well. Factor in some good coffee and maybe a caramel roll, and you have a recipe for a good start to the day.
Until next week

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slow Dancing

The other day in class, Dr. Rick Thoman said, "Business is the arch rival of hearing God's voice."

Dr. Thoman said this roughly one hour after I wrote in my journal. I was only planning to put the pen on paper for a couple thoughts as I was finishing my "quiet time" - this is what God had planned ...

What is God saying to me this morning?
God speaks in Exodus 20 - "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image ... You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain ... Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."

In Deuteronomy 5:15 it says "...the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath Day."

Then in Hebrews 4 it is stated, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

The grace and mercy that God has given me allows me to enter His presence. Is entering the presence of God just another thing on my "To Do" list?

God wants me given'er for six days and spend one day resting in His presence. I have been taken out of a sinful dead-end life and God has opened the doors into His throne room. He is standing there with a smile on His face, welcoming me in, wanting me to sit and listen to Him. Each and every day God wants me to come into His presence, see His glory, remember how He has saved me, and He wants to overwhelm me with His unconditional love so that I can go about my day; blessed to be a blessing.

Life is busy - so much work to do, tests to take, grades to make, assignments to finish, people to see, and fun things to enjoy. There seems to be more and more stuff adding to the already busy schedule, but there is still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.

Jeremy Erickson recorded a song called "Slow Dance" a few years back. As I write, the lyrics from "Slow Dance" run through my mind ...

"Have you ever watched kids on a merry go round,
Or listened to the rain, slappin the ground?
Have you ever watched a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into night?

Do you run through each day, on the fly?
When you ask "How are you?" Do you hear the reply?
When your day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores runnin through your head?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast.
The time is short now, the music won't last.

Have you ever told your kids, you would do it tomorrow,
and in your haste not seeing their sorrow?
Have you ever lost touch, let a good friendship die?
Cuz you never have the time to stop and say "Hi?"

When you run so fast gettin somewhere,
you miss half the fun gettin there.
When you worry and hurry, through your day,
it's like an unopened gift, thrown away.
Life is not a gift, so do take it slower,
when you hear the music before this song is over.

You better slow down, don't dance so fast.
The time is short now, the music won't last."

Everyday is a gift from God - what do I do with the gift?
Am I finding my rest in Him?
Is my "quiet time" just another thing on my schedule? Is my heart quiet?
Can God's voice be heard over everything else in everyday life?
Do I hear God's voice? Ever?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Will you attend PASSION 2011?


Today is October 6th! You have 11 more days till the October 15th Early-Bird registration date. I would encourage you to seriously consider attending PASSION 2011 in Ft. Worth!

I was in Camarillo a few weeks ago for Good Shepherd's Open House and it just happened that about ten of us AFLBS alumni young adults were in town for the weekend. Having recently moved to CA and living in a town that doesn't have an AFLC church and after working at the AFLC Headquarters for five years I have been feeling cut off from the AFLC. I was thrilled just to be around other AFLC and AFLBS people. I was thrilled because in a lot of ways the AFLC is a family. We are a family of believers. Seeing all those AFLC and AFLBS friends that weekend felt like being home. And I needed that connection!

I think it would be awesome if a whole bunch of us AFLC Young Adults attended PASSION and connected there!

Have you prayed about this opportunity to attend PASSION? Please do!

Check out their website if you haven't yet and let me know if you have questions.

Have an absolutely fantastic week and be blessed in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love Is

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is
Love is
and is not jealous;
Love does not:
and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
doe not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never fails."

-1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
May we be found living out of the perfect love for the Lord to those around us. May we show them the wonderful love that He has bestowed upon us. May this fruit of the Holy Spirit be found in our lives in abundance.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rest in His Peace

Have you ever been really tired? Can you recall that feeling of pure exhaustion when you would so love to give up and forget about everything else? I think a lot of times we can feel like that in our Spiritual life as well as our need for sleep in the physical sense.

God has been calling me to rest in Him this week, and all week I've been confused as to what that could mean. I didn't know how to rest in something that I couldn't physically rely on. Later in the week we sang the hymn "I Am Thine, O Lord" and the last verse has a line that reads, "There are heights of joy that I may not reach till I rest in peace with Thee." This struck me with the realization that I couldn't be completely joyful in Him if I wasn't resting in His peace. But how could one rest in peace?

One of the classes offered at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School (AFLBS) is Hebrews and James, and this week we were learning about rest. Crazy how God has a way of doing that, huh? The second section of Hebrews 3 speaks of "A Rest for the People of God", and chapter 4 opens with "Therefore, the promise of entering His rest still stands". That's a promise! Verses 15-16 say, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

God knows our struggles, He has been through everything that we have and is there with us even now. In that last verse God proclaims that we can confidently run to Him and He will give us His peace. Matthew 11:28 reaffirms that: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"

Are you resting in His peace? Give Him your every sorrow, trouble, need, everything. He is more than capable of handling any situation. Matthew 8 tells the story of the storm on the sea, which Pastor Michael Brandt spoke on at the Revival Conference last week. He stated, "Jesus created those waters, He's more than able to subdue them". Just let Him!

I pray that this would be an encouragement to you. Just rest.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hey guys

College is a busy time. Between all the classes and other activities, things can get pretty hectic. One class in particular is taking a lot of my time right now. I’m taking organic chemistry this year. It’s a tough course that requires a lot of time and effort in order to have success. The amount of work that goes into it puts a lot of stress on a lot of people, so it got me wondering what the Bible says about stress. The verses are everywhere. One of my favorites includes Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” One thing that I really take out of this verse is how God is always there. The Bible doesn’t use words like “sometimes” and “maybe.” I love how it’s definite: “He will sustain you” and “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” It’s incredibly comforting to know that he’s always got our backs. Another passage that I really liked, and one that I think of with every test coming up, is Philippians 4:6-7 -> “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The verse really says it all here, let God know about what’s troubling you and don’t worry about it, because God is going to take care of it.

Until next week,