Jul 29, 2014 - Update    No Comments

What of the Cost?

Matthew 16:24-28

24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25″For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26″For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?27″For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. 28″Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

 Moments after Peter makes an attempt at rebuking Christ for prophesying His own death, we are given this glimpse into the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. As some of you know in the recent months I have begun a new career with a third-party logistics company. It has been a very neat experiencing getting to see this “world” of how freight moves around the country. I have also had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people of all walks of life who present their uniqueness quite vibrantly. However, I have also had the opportunity to experience first-hand this “gaining the whole world and forfeiting the soul.”

Let me be clear, there are wonderful, generous people where I work. There are believers and there are non-believers. Overall, my workplace has a vast mixture much like any other company. Yet, because of the nature of this business and the money that is constantly in motion, I am also presented with very distinct models to garnish insights from.

There are those, like any other company, who are so enamored by money that it is all they think about, all they base success on, and ultimately, all they are living for. It is evident by the way they swindle, connive, backstab, and manipulate in order to place themselves ever so more in the next tier of “success.” I too have found myself checking the reports more often than I should and giving to much credence to where I fall in comparison to others. What then shall I do, quit?

The reality is that I have bills to pay. I also must count trials as joy. That being said, I don’t “need” this job any more than I “need” to eat my next meal. How much weight am I giving to the sovereignty of God and His ability to care for me? Therefore, if it where between this job and God there would be no contest—God wins. However, I believe God has purposefully put me in the position that I am in (because He ordained it so). It is a good trial. A good test of my faith. And I must say, overall, I am successful. I am successful because of my mindset. I wake up each morning thankful to see the sunrise, thankful to go to a job in the first place, and thankful to meet so many different people and have opportunity to minister. I pick up my cross each morning and before I even begin the day I am giving up my life.

I don’t “need” things. I don’t “need” to be this or that. What I need I already have, the faithful love of a transcendent God who measures out goodness in abundance and who is also so immanent that He indwells me. By comparison all else is found so wanting. So, I have already traded what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose. And bear in mind none of this is of something good in me, rather, it is the good and richness of the one who dwells within me that enables me to conform to His image.

My prayer for you, reader, is that in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, will have more and more opportunities to go through trials and moments of stretching so that you will continue to persevere and conform. I pray God’s Word will richly bless you and that as these trials come that the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.

So I ask you, what trial are you facing? How is it affecting you? How do you pick up your cross?

Please, leave any comments you may have down below. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook. God bless!

Jun 25, 2014 - Update    1 Comment

Count it all Joy

James 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Around three weeks ago I began a new job. So far I have been somewhat successful, but one of the main things asked in the interview has stuck with me these last few weeks, “how well do you do with rejection?” From the moment I enter the office till the final minutes before I go home I am on the phone calling freight carriers. All over the country I am asking them their truck availability in the hopes that one of them will have a truck available to pick up and deliver my particular load.

After a couple days on the phones the question began to play over and over in the back of my mind, “how well do you handle rejection?” Because a huge part of what I do includes hearing “no, nothing available” all day long—assuming they don’t just hang up, one must be ready to answer this question. Because I have had a “sales” type job in the past that was exclusively on the phone I answered it as I always do these type of questions, “very well, just can’t let it get to you”—essentially I lied. It sounds foolish, and it probably is, but even though these total strangers might have something for me the next day, hearing them say “no” is sometimes hard to bear. It might be the quantity at which I hear it each day rather than the actual answer itself.

The book of James begins with James addressing the 12 tribes that have become “dispersed abroad.” So it is important to not assume that he is speaking to telemarketers. He is also addressing some pretty intense trials that the brethren are enduring due to their faith, rather than being “rejected” at work. But here is one way it applies to us in America —at least how I find one application in my daily life.

I consider work in this life a trial in itself—due to the fall. Don’t hear me wrong, I love working. I love being useful. And if I could hear “yes” all day long I would be thrilled, but the reality is that we live in a fallen, dysfunctional world. And I consider the hardship of bearing all those “nos” day in and day out just so that I can help provide for my son and wife a “various trial.”

Here comes the neat part though. This job—a blessing. The money in the bank—a blessing. The people I converse with on a daily basis and have the opportunity to possibly share the gospel with—a blessing. Getting out of the house and away from other temptations—a blessing. Et cetera. It is a blessing and I count it all joy. Not only are there those who will not work, but there are also those who cannot work and I must remind myself of this.

I am also proving to myself and to those around me the faithfulness of God. In my testimony to the world and to myself I am revealing where my joy ultimately comes from, the life and work of Jesus Christ. I am able to not only “grin and bear it” for the sake of what it provides, but I can be thankful that it provides another opportunity to grow, learn, and ultimately conform more and more to the image of Christ.

Ultimately, I am seeing the “lacking in nothing” playing out in this aspect of my life. In the same way God feeds the sparrows, I am reminded more and more that regardless of how my deliverances come in this life, if at all sometimes, my destination is sealed and my journey safeguarded by God—which gives me the utmost joy.

So I ask you, what trial are you facing that you can count all joy? Are you being specifically persecuted for your faith? How do you live out this joy in such a way that you are reminded this testing of your faith is producing steadfastness?

Please, leave any comments you may have down below. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook. God bless!

Jun 18, 2014 - Update    No Comments

God is Good

God is Good

Luke 11:11-13

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This past Sunday was Father’s day and it was my first Father’s day with my son Brice. And as a pastor in training at First Baptist Church of Tempe I was also scheduled to preach this past Sunday evening. My passage was from the Gospel of Luke, Luke 11:1-13 to be exact. I spoke on the way the Lord instructed the disciples to pray, and the parable of the Friend at Midnight found in verses 5-8. I also spoke about the way Christ continues to further describe the giving nature of God.

In Luke 11:11-13 we are given a picture of the giving nature of God by Christ using earthly fathers to contrast with our heavenly father. As I read verses 11-13 I began to think of Brice and my relationship with him. I thought of all the times he “asks” for things (bear in mind he is 11 months old and asks through body language, grunts, even the occasional scream). All day long when I am holding my son he wants, needs, and desires different things. Some of the things my son desires are good like, clean clothes, water, food, a clean diaper, to play, et cetera. However, some of the things my son desires are bad like, sharp objects, dog food, random trash outside on the ground, hot metal that will burn him, small objects that will choke him, et cetera. While each of these categories are extremely different on the safety scale, nonetheless, he displays the same desire, need, and want for each.

With this understand as a father I can better understand these words of Christ. If I as a finite, fallible, wretched human being can discern what is best for my son and give it to him, why do I not trust that my heavenly Father can also do the same or better? The reality is that God infinitely knows what is best for me more than I know what is best for my son, Christ says so Himself “how much more will the heavenly Father five the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” In the summation of my life there is very few gifts that have radically changed both the way I am on the outside and the inside, and only one that has brought my spirit to life—and that is the Holy Spirit. Now, this indwelling is the greatest gift we can receive, and how much more guidance and empowerment do we receive only by asking! It is a beautiful picture of how our Father in heaven masterfully takes care of us.

So how much do you trust and lean on this understanding of God? How much do you fellowship and submit to the heavenly Father who takes great care of you and has your best interest at heart? If God is real then you only have Him to thank for your life to begin with, the very breath you breathe is a gift, so be thankful.
Please, leave any comments you may have down below. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook. God bless!

Jun 10, 2014 - 2 Timothy    No Comments

Not Waiting to Exhale

Not Waiting to Exhale

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The breath and spoken Word of God is powerful, powerful enough to bring all things into being, powerful enough to create man, powerful enough to create all that exists. Because God said, we have. Because God spoke, things came to be. The way God chose to speak His Word, bring us His revelation, was perfect. When we turn to the Scriptures we know that what we read was brought into our lives by the eternal One.

This passage, where Paul is speaking of how useful Scripture is, seems to be founded upon where Scripture originates from. Each book of the Bible essentially has two authors, the human and the divine. The divine leading and guiding the human. And when we read Scripture today we are reading the very breath of God.

Paul tells us that the Word of God, breathed out by God, is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training specifically in righteousness. And we need these things so that as men and women of God we may be equipped completely for every good work God has planned for us.

When I buy some furniture from Ikea, I don’t question the authenticity of the instruction manual it comes with. I assume that the instruction manual is profitable for equipping me to put together the furniture. Likewise, as  Christians we need to have faith in what God chooses to speak into our lives through the pages of Scripture.

One of the beautiful things about Christ is that He was the fleshly embodiment of Scripture. He was God in the flesh, the Word in the flesh. There are probably so many components to that to which my finite mind will never understand, but it gives me a great glimpse into how truly profitable the Word of God is and can be in my life.

This week as you seek guidance turn to two Words, the written Scriptures that God has sustained down through the centuries and the God-Man who was the Word became flesh. Let the Holy Spirit reveal things to you about God and live in righteousness equipped completely for every good work.

Tell me, how have you found value in knowing that Scripture is breathed out by God? Please, leave your comments below!

Jun 3, 2014 - Thoughts    1 Comment

Give Me Truth

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
― Henry David ThoreauWalden

            We seem plagued by a society that claims to have so much truth and yet deny it at the same time. Whether it is natural science, politics, technology, et cetera, there is so much information but so little truth. The worst part of the whole situation is that it would seem the majority of people are more concerned with being “right” than knowing truth. We live in an age were pride reigns supreme and there is no “straight talk.” Has it always been this way? Probably. Has it always been to this extreme? Most likely. Will it remain this way? At least until the return of Christ. But we need to take a step back for a moment and realize that it isn’t just about “being right.”

Years and years before Thoreau, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus a likewise question, “Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” (John 18:38a ESV). I can’t really blame Pilate for asking, his worldview probably didn’t afford him much to go on as far as purpose and reality. In America today we see schools teaching valueless, purposeless, dehumanizing lessons. We see political figures constantly caught up in a whirlwind of debauchery. And we have religious leaders that are so focused on personal health and wellness that pagan hedonism could almost take a back seat to this false gospel. Where is the truth in all of this? And if we have/value truth so little, how is everyone so right?

America as a whole is falling for the same con that the Nazi’s did regarding the Jewish people. The best way to eliminate a human being is to set up first in your own mind that they are not human, have no worth, no value, no purpose. When one takes away innate worth from a person and classifies them as “non-purposeful-humans” or not even humans at all, one can see how quickly rationalizations for extermination can become. In our schools we learn that humans are animals, without purpose, with reason, without logic behind their design, and without a moral foundation. In politics we learn that rules can be bent or broken, that amusing speech is preferred over facts, and that because we have no moral foundation there is no sense in keeping anyone accountable. Lastly, we see in religions purporting false gospels and false gods that mankind is either left to their own devices (in which they are always better in their own eyes) or not culpable for anything at all, the real focus is what you can get out of this life here and now.

Due to all this we have a mass group of people who have little truth, and yet are so convinced by what they perceive as right and wrong—which many can’t even base on any real authority other than their opinion to begin with. It is a sad state to be in and I pray God convicts souls, humbles proud, and graces the humble. However, all is not bleak for there is truth and it has been revealed to us:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7 ESV)

Please, leave your thoughts below. All constructive discussion is welcome!