Archives For Bible

I Still Choose To Believe

January 29, 2018

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Considering the world that we are living in and the state of America (and the world), there’s a wonder why we should believe.

We question the validity of coming to church on a Sunday morning to worship God and believe in His son, Jesus Christ.

We don’t even take it that far.

We question the existence and character of God.

We begin to put together questions and answers in an attempt to place God on trial: the challenging “if-then” statements of our time:  “If God is real, then [insert antidote]”

The doubts, the questions, the cynicism, the skepticism, the “free thinking” seem reasonable at first glance.

 

 

But, in spite of what the condition our world is in, I still choose to believe!

I choose to believe that Jesus still lives! I choose to believe that He died for me and He died for you too!

I choose to believe because I look at the evidence in my own life both spiritually and even in the physical that proves that Jesus IS who says He is and that God is real and loves you and me.

I must acknowledge that while some amazing and awesome and wonderful things are happening in my life, I do experience trouble and challenges, which is a part of life.

Years of low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and a poor appreciation for my identity was something I struggled with for a long, long time.

It took a lot of prayer, counseling and building of real, healthy relationships with people.

In many cases, God put people in my life to help lift me up and help grow me up…people who actually cared, who listened and who empathized with my situation but also told me the truth about myself and about my situation.

Even when circumstances didn’t change immediately, I felt the sting of discomfort and disorientation and confusion.

But, through Christ, I was able to deal with the status of being up or down, rich or poor and doing things I don’t necessarily want to do but have to do in life:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

Also, the Lord already overcame this trouble filled world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

I choose to believe and I choose to have faith because I’ve experienced too much of God and Christ in my own life to even think that both are made up. The message of the Gospel hits me at my core and moves me to live for Him.

The evidence of knowing God and Christ will show up not only in your own personal walk but also for others who see you and speak to you!

I’ve been through too many moments in life that have tested my faith to the limit…moments that I’ve fallen so hard I didn’t want to live…moments I felt so confused I almost decided to throw in the towel…moments I felt so lost and alone that I questioned my existence.

Then, God reminds me, He loves me. He reminds me through His son Jesus, who took my place and in turn has freed me from the guilty, penalty and power of sin.

My declaration is not a naive notion. It is real. It is real because my relationship with God and Christ is real.

Today, now more than ever, it is imperative to keep the faith.

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bearing fruit

In what could be described as frustration, I was going back and forth with God, sharing my thoughts and concerns with him about not moving forward as quickly as I wanted.

I was doing all of this in prayer, stowing myself away from all of the people and traffic and simply pleading to God for clarity and understanding. I told Him of my frustration with not seeing things grow or change as quickly as I had hoped.

Fortunately, the Lord gave me a bit of peace first from all of the anxiety. Then, over the past few days, I felt led to simply sit down and read my Bible. Besides, I had a sermon to prepare for anyway.

Day by day passed and I found myself focused less on the “what-if’s” of the coming days and more on being productive and actually bearing fruit.

Not long after that, a whole day of chores got done! Most everything in my schedule book was knocked out!

Then, after that, I got hit with a ton of blog ideas.

And my comic strip seemed to come alive again along with an assortment of other ideas in my head.

Inside of me, I felt less anxious. I felt less concerned about the days ahead. I felt peace. I actually feel, and believe, that the Lord is up to something major and I’m a part of it. And it feels amazing!

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget. We move so quickly to make things happen that we somehow foolishly forget that apart from Christ we can do nothing.

Upon reading John 15:1-8, I realized that not only is it my responsibility to abide in Christ (stay connected to Him) but also an opportunity for me to bear fruit from that connection.

The fruit is not just a bunch of actions either…but…of everything that glorifies God and changes us so that we become more like Christ.

The actions that are genuine and becoming of a Christ follower come as a result of the fruit because of our connection to Christ Jesus, the true vine.

I think of the fruits of the spirit when I read Galatians 5:22-24

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A computer, a smartphone or any of our favorite electronic devices can only run on their own for so long. They too need a power source to connect too to be of any good use to us.

Our connection to Christ is crucial in not only our surviving but in our thriving and striving to live for the Kingdom and affect change in the culture.

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“Being Ian” owned by Nelvana

A few days ago I was watching “Being Ian,” a cartoon series that I have over the year grown quite fond of.

The story follows a boy named Ian Kelley and his family and friends. In this particular episode, Ian was trying to get a movie he made for a contest submitted to an awards group in Los Angeles.

The contest was ALL that Ian could think about. He was on his way to Los Angeles via an RV family road trip with his father, mother and two brothers. Only, one problem! Everything that could go wrong went wrong.

Of course Ian, being who he is, filmed with his video camera every single event that took place with his family on the trip.

Ian’s dad was all about staying true to an itinerary of multiple stops and side trips which made Ian anxious.

In an attempt to try and get to Los Angeles more quickly, Ian messes with his dad’s itinerary. Ian’s dad finds out and refuses to change his plans. While they make it to Los Angeles on time, they have a wreck in Hollywood that leaves Ian no choice but to throw out his copy of the movie in order to keep from falling off the Hollywood sign with the RV.

He tries to get his friends from back home to make a copy, but, the copy is deleted.

All at the end of the 2-part episode seems lost. That is, until Ian realized that the footage that he shot could be made into a movie.

As it turned out, the journey that Ian filmed turned out to be a win for him.

And such as our own lives.

We get so hung up in getting to a destination, goal, outcome and circumstance.

We get so wrapped up, stressed out and anxiety riddled over getting things to go our way.

Philippians 4:6-7 says this:

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the middle of the journey, it’s easy to get impatient. It’s easy to feel as though things are not moving as quickly as it should.

But, the believer in Christ is reminded in scripture to be anxious for nothing. The believer is also reminded that the anxiety is replaced with the “peace of God” which “surpasses all understanding” and will “guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

When the journey seems long, tumultuous or even just plain boring and tedious, my heart and mind is kept in Christ when I’m not filled with anxiety. When I am in prayer and when I’m thankful my perspective is placed into proper position in order for me to continue this wild and crazy journey called life.

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About a year or so ago, a co-worker sent me an article regarding the “Calvin and Hobbes” creators’ take on bullying.

The article hit home with me, reminding me of the times I was picked on, bullied, teased and humiliated mercileslly by other kids. I even had a few cousins who didn’t have a problem with poking and prodding me with their opinions and criticisms about the way I talked, walked, acted or existed.

Bullying did so much damage that it took a long time for me to come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. I take the issue very seriously, but, I learned most recently after reading that article and after further study of the Word of God that my whole view on Bullying, perhaps my “theological” view on Bullying, may have been very, very wrong.

Let me explain…and both apologize.

In the past, I have made comments like, “your bullies will get theirs someday” and “one day you’ll be successful while they are working at McDonalds.”

Junk like that! Yeah, I know. I realize now moreso than ever that victory is NOT found in seeing your bullies fail and fall. That’s not love that God calls us too…at all.

I was wrong and I apologize.

I used to believe that my bullies of the past would one day get theirs and that they would be dealt with.

Truth is, that’s not always the case. They could end up with a change of heart. God may have changed their hearts and minds. Then what? Or, the bullies may not change at all and instead of working in fast-food they could end up being your boss! Then what?

As my Pastor one Sunday was preaching on loving your enemies, the Lord was tugging at my heart, reminding me of my boyhood past that seemed to play over and over in my head and heart. Then, conviction came, the reality that I not only needed to let go of what happened in my past but realize that the victory doesn’t come from the bullies of my past getting what I thought they deserve, but, from victory in Jesus.

Luke 6:27-31 says this:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

Luke 6:35 says this:

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

The article I read talked about a kind of moral justification, a kind of desire to be good and not stoop down to the level of the bully. And that’s a good thing to consider. But, for a deeper and lasting and real affect, it has to be more than just desiring to be good. You can’t do it by yourself and by your own kind of moral compass. Your greatest victory is in Christ.

What Would I Tell A Kid Now Dealing With Bullying

I’m still trying to figure this part out! The best advice is to make sure that people know about it. And as a kid, I know this is hard! On the one hand, you want something done about it, but, on the other hand you don’t want it things to go from bad to worse.

I was fortunate that I had a healthy understanding that who I was to God was way more important than what people thought of me. That got damaged during times of bullying, but not totally destroyed.

It’s by His Grace and Mercy I’m able to maintain that mindset even after all of that.

What I have found is that building a network of friends and people who support and love you through it helps.

As a kid going through bullying, I often felt alone in my struggles. No one, especially adults, bothered to step in and try and fix the problem. As kids, it seems like we were left on our own when it came to bullying.

There was no “speak up” or “speak out” or other bullying initiatives. It was the wild west for me and a lot of other kids.

I would say, “sure, self-defense, teach your kid to fight or put them in karate classes,” but that only solves a part of the problem.

The issue of bullying is complex. It is a little more than just “self-defense” but it is also a little more than just teaching children to accept and love one another and appreciate each others’ differences.

As a kid, much like the writer of the article I mentioned earlier said, as a kid you want justice NOW…not later. And that’s hard on the heart of a boy or girl. It’s a harsh lesson of childhood, but, it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m grateful for kids and adults who step up and demand that bullying stop these days. I’m grateful for the fact some kids are a lot stronger and tougher in their resolve and refuse to let themselves be teased or picked on or belittled.

But, I think of the kid like me, who didn’t want to get hurt so they would try to avoid the fight…but…knowing that if they did try to do something and they lost they would come home to punishment.

So, what would I tell a kid now whose being bullied!?

This might not be much to that kid out there, but here goes……………

You matter.

You matter more than you know. Please, don’t forget that you’re important and that you matter. You have purpose in your life. You are valuable!!! I know you’re hurting right now and I know that it sucks that you’re being bullied.

Self-defense is one thing…and you’re probably scared of fighting and getting hurt. But, don’t go it alone. There’s too many people around you that actually do care and will stop at nothing to see you through what you’re going through right now.

Tell your family, tell the school leaders around you, tell your church, tell the world, make it known….you’re loved and you matter!

Things are a little different now than what they used to be, and you don’t have to fight through this alone. If you’re a victim of bullying, say somethings and don’t stop saying something.

If you need to talk it out…if you need to cry…if you need help…you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

Never let anyone try to make you feel less than what you are.

From the Spiritual aspect…to the person whose experienced bullying…know this….

Your greatest victory is not in just being better than your bullying…but not becoming bitter from the bullying. The greatest victory is in Christ…where love will lead you to letting go of bitterness, anger, hatred and vengefulness and will instead lead you to prayer for them and yourself and praise to God.