Free Will

•January 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

ah, the age old debate. which side to choose? on one hand, Calvin said some pretty brilliant things which are very hard, especially as a believer, to disagree with. but, on the other hand, it seems like there has to be some choice, or else aren’t we all merely set up as a puppet show? now that i have peaked your interest in this debate, i will begin to talk about what really has been tugging at my heart recently. no, it is not this debate, but it has so much to do with the ‘free will’ or choice humans are given, maybe not for eternity, but day by day, that i am so interested in digging into.

seeing as how i haven’t blogged in about an entire year, i wanted to hit on something that recently has seriously hit home with me. i want change in my life, because i am never fully satisfied with where i am in life. maybe that has something to do with the fact that i truly believe earth is a temporary living space God has given us, or maybe it is just because there is so much on the horizon for me that is changing. either way, i am able to make, if i had to guess, hundreds of choices every day. whether that is coffee or latte, where to sit in class, what to eat for dinner, or what i should pursue as a career, life is full of decisions. realizing this, there is a decision we all make when we wake up, that can alter the way we live forever.

i am fully aware this is not new material. songs, verses, and books have been written on waking up with Jesus. but beyond that, we have a distinct choice. do i spend time reading my bible today, do i pray, invest in other’s lives, transform my mind to be more like Christ. i am utterly convicted that my first thought in waking up is, ‘what do I need today?’. maybe i am the minority, but think about the choice you make every morning.

pushing snooze, watching sportscenter, thinking about ‘that’ person, playing on apps, video games, skipping class, glorifying yourself.

we make dozens of choices before we leave our house everyday. if only these choices became God focused, where would we stand? is intimacy with the father worth having sleepy eyes at night? or salvation for a friend, is that worth an early morning? let us, even in our worst days, wake up knowing that the choice is ours to get out of bed, to read and to pray, and to make this day.

i love Zac Brown and the song ‘Make This Day’ is perfect for this post. sure, they are not christian in genre so there might be a swear or drinking themes here or there, but they are real about everything. check it out and realize you can make every day one for the Lord. http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=wgk8HhmGz-o

if you need some help on what choice you can make, check out this verse in Galatians. “for you were called to freedom, brothers. only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Day 35: Becoming my Own Audience

•May 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Over a year ago i wrote a post called “A Call From Pleasing Man”.  I wrote it to friends of mine who were still in high school and in  hopes it would spur them on toward Christ.  I went to send a joke message on facebook and the message from over a year ago popped up at random.  As i read it i realized these are words i have been needing to hear myself.  It never ceases to amaze me how inconsistent my heart for God is, and how incredible He is at finding me.

“A Call From Pleasing Man” 

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to gain the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If i were still trying to please man i would not be a servant of Christ.

Can you say that all you do is for the Lord? I do not believe any man or woman can answer that question in all honesty with a yes, but still are we not called to have a Christ like mind and to desire to be more of him and less of ourselves everyday? I am convicted to write this message not in a way to make myself sound righteous but to hopefully motivate all those who read to honestly analyze their life. For I do not claim perfection but i do know the Word of God to be without blemish and for that reason I feel i have room to talk.

Sports, Grades, Friends, Family, Achievements, Graduations, New Jobs,

All of these things listed above are great but what are they without the Lord? What true joy comes from any of these things? The answer is none. In the moment these things bring us happiness but they do not fulfill us with joy. These things are merely things of the world. Are you praising the name of Jesus Christ with every act in all of these things? If you have been blessed why would you not praise the Lord?

I do not intend to go into how we need to honor the Lord in all we do, though that is an incredible point, I am much more concerned in conveying the fact that we as humans let our eagerness to please the world and our own selfish indulgences pull us away from seeking the approval of the Lord and ministering to a broken world because of what He has done through his Son.

You know what Jesus has done upon the cross so why does that not make you fall to your knees daily and praise his name? Why does that not make you reach out to everyone around you in proclaiming who he was and what he came to do? Why does that not make you want to Love others simply because you were given the greatest gift?

Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to find his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

Sports, Grades, Friends, Family, Achievements, Graduations, New jobs,

Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily. He calls us to show to everyone the freedom in which that cross has brought us. Who are we to hear this and to turn away from it? Jesus says if we attempt to find our lives in these things listed above, if we try to establish our identities in them we will lose our lives, but if we seek our lives in him we will find them.

You know this unbelievable freedom and life through Christ. You are called to share this with everyone you know and not to keep it to yourself for not sharing the Gospel with others is like one starving man not telling another starving man where he can find food. How can you sit still when you have been given this eternal promise? What will it take to move you? A man on a cross who is perfect? A man sent by God himself without blemish and purely through love? A man to take the fall for everything you have done wrong up to this very moment?

HE HAS COME… SO MOVE

Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

-Jordan

Challenger

•May 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

reading through romans i have discovered many different passages that i have heard so many times and that i have neglected to really engage myself on in awhile. one of the verses that really made me think was Romans 12:2 where it says, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’

this verse to me used to mean that my mind and my thoughts would be different than this world, and all of that because of a good, acceptable, perfect God.  i do not find that interpretation by any means to be wrong, but that is not what stuck out today.

what stuck out was this, that one word, testing.  in regards to jordan’s most recent post about the word being under attack, i think that this word testing is something that we do not do enough, or do correctly.

this verse is referring to testing in regards to the mind and the will of God, in a sense, whatever you hear, see, or learn, comparing it to the will of God.  and this is where i think so often we have some disconnect as believers.  oftentimes, when we have a pastor or a leader who is charsimatic and well respected, we have no doubt replacing whatever they say and making that our doctrine, or our theology.  now, in most cases, i would say that there is not a major problem with this; this person has been placed into a leadership role by God so that he may convey to the people what God’s character truly is.  the problem is that all leaders have faults and not one has the exact identity of God figured out, or else God’s character would be of finite knowledge (a whole other problem). in regards to making your theology a teachers, no matter how wise, unless that teacher is Jesus of nazareth, beware.

also, i find that when we are testing maybe something controversial, or something that everyone most likely does not agree on, or something that does not seem to be correct doctrine, often we compare that information that seems misguided not with the will of God.  i would say more times than not our focus becomes what did other people say and how can i use their thoughts without really inspecting it myself.  personally, i find this tactic to be scary, because it replaces the independent thoughts that God has blessed you with with a robotic regurgitation of a pastor’s words.

so i encourage everyone in this, seek out knowledge as it is in the Bible, regard that as your doctrine, and talk to people that might not agree with every single thing that you believe in terms of theology or the character of God.  seek out gentleness and respect and be able to see both sides and investigate the real truth in each case. because, even if they are wrong, challenging your belief and your mind is not a bad thing, and is biblical.

-Jason

Day 33: Is The Word Under Attack?

•May 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

John 1: 1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

i believe whole heartedly in the interpretation that these final verses are in references to Jesus Christ but i would like to acknowledge that i believe it encompasses the Word as well.  As this passage has so clearly pointed out the Word was God, and we are given the news as readers that this light which God has made shine, shines in the darkness and has not been overcome. If we have this understanding, can we not stand satisfied with the knowledge that the light of God can not be put out?  That it can not be changed?  Is anyone willing to say that someone can distort or destroy this light?  i believe some would say satan has and will do everything in his power to distort the Word and to destroy it.  i believe that too, but i am not asking what satan or anyone else is willing to do but rather is it possible?

From my perspective and from the knowledge i have i would say yes.  i do feel that the Word is under attack.  How can we say it is not?  i cannot remember a college course i have taken where God himself was not denounced in one way or another.  But saying something is under attack and claiming that something is in danger are two different things.  i do believe that their are people, movements, and satan himself who are constantly attacking God and the Word but i will never believe that they can overcome it and for that reason i will not worry what my professor, a stranger, a brother/sister or satan himself have to say about my Word and my God for i know that nothing can overcome its light.

i have not found thus far that attacks upon my beliefs have negatively impacted my walk yet they have strengthened it.  Every time someone or something twists words or poses trivial inquiries  i have not found that my first response is frustration toward the asker of the question yet toward my ignorance in not having an easy answer.  i have learned to handle these moments as opportunities for myself to better understand what i consider Truth, Truth being God’s Word.

1 John 4: 1-6

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Finally i find it hard to justify myself or anyone else in retaliating against these “attacks” on God or the Word.  This passage from 1 John gives us insight on how to on our own deal with those who are false prophets.  i struggle to find the benefit in proclaiming to all who we believe to be “wrong”, “evil”, or a “false prophet”.  we should first be careful in claiming that those who pronounce the existence of Christ, as false prophets, because even scripture states that if one believes in Christ they are our brothers or sisters in Him.  Secondly, i understand why we feel a need to protect those around us from what we believe to be false prophesy, but are we trying to hard to protect them?  Are we inadvertently assuming the roles that the Holy Spirit and Jesus should be playing in the lives of our fellow believers?  If we know that the Holy Spirit will give those who truly believe discernment and Jesus will protect His flocks, what do we have to worry about?  i am not saying that we must not be alert but i do not believe that God needs us to be declaring war against others or taking up swords “in His name” for Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”.  God has always had a plan and if we are to trust Him with our lives we must remove this sense of defending Him.  He at any moment can crush any uprising.  Let us truly be His vessels for breaking and allow our tongues to move toward and for Him and Love alone.

-Jordan

Day 31: A Few More Questions

•May 12, 2011 • 3 Comments

i apologize for my sporadic posting we have been having internet issues.  i am going to pose a few last questions before i make tomorrow’s post in hopes that someone may finally lend their thoughts in answering the question.  Do you as a Christian believe that the Word is under attack? How does this affect your walk with Christ and what is your response if you answered yes? If you answered no why do you think it is not? Finally the big one… is it worth our time to defend God? Does He need us to come to His rescue and speak out against whatever we deem incorrect in the world or about the Word?  i am not looking for specific answers just thoughts. mind you i am posting on this tomorrow so no rush but i would appreciate responses asap.

-Jordan

Day 29: How Would you?

•May 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

i have a question i am hoping that some people will respond to.  It is quite vague but i am looking for anything.  If you had 5 minutes to explain following Christ to someone, how would you?

-Jordan

Day 27: Matthew 25

•May 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

i was asked by someone close to me to give my thoughts on Matthew 25.  i decided to split up Matthew 25 into its three parts and just pick out certain points that stick out to me.

Matthew 25: 1-13

1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Heres the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

In this parable Jesus uses the practices of marriage at this time as a representative tale of what the coming of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven will be like.  The big thing i take away from this portion of the passage is the Bible is clear that all will be shown or receive the message of who God is by God himself in one way or another and it is up to them whether they respond foolishly or wisely. i use to get so caught up on the fact that i felt that those who were not willing to spare their oil were selfish until i realized why they could not spare their own oil.  This oil is representative of our relationship with God and how bright and long it allows our lamps to burn.  Just as i cannot have a relationship with Christ for someone else, these people could not give oil to others because it would not fuel their lamp.  One must be prepared with their own oil for if it is not their own they do not have a genuine relationship with the Lord.

Matthew 25: 14-30

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his masters money19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’  23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!’  24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’  26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This portion is another parable of the time between the resurrection of Jesus and His return.  i do feel that this passage is not easy to read.  At first glance i believe someone, without prior knowledge of the Word, reading this would assume that God punishes those who protect His message.  i do not believe that the verse about hiding the Word of God in our hearts so that we may not sin against Him supports this man’s efforts either.  For in that verse we are to hide the Word of God in our hearts so that what we are believing is true and so that it cannot be tainted.  i do not think that for one second that the reason this man is cast into the shadows is because he did not turn a profit with what was given to him.  It is evident that the issue lies with this man not using the message God has given him, and instead of using it he has hidden it from the world.  If we hide the message of God from the world, there is no way we can be sharing it and Jesus even told us that if we deny Him before the world, He will deny us before His Father just as He does in this passage.

Matthew 25: 31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

i think reading this passage is fairly self explanatory as far as the overall message behind it.  i do not think it is to hard for someone to understand why Jesus uses the imagery of a shepherd as well as the entire passage as an allegory for the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  The one thing i would stress to anyone i was trying to help explain this message to that had never heard it before is what Jesus exclaims is the difference between the goats and the sheep.  It is to easy to say that Jesus is claiming the good works you do for others on earth will separate you from the rest and i also think that is wrong.  For we have been told throughout all of scripture that our works are meaningless without our Faith and vice versa. So if we are to assume that Jesus is not simply speaking about works, what are we to believe He is saying?

The main example that comes to mind is from John 6: 35, ” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”.  i think it is crucial to realize that when Jesus is telling the sheep that they fed Him, He does not mean with just food but with the Bread of Life.  What good is our earthly food to these people, when it does not offer everlasting life?

i hope this has been some help.

-Jordan

 
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