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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!

Feb 1, 2013 - Update    No Comments

Update 2-1-2013

Greetings to all! I am taking this blog in a new direction and hope that I will be able to not only blog my thoughts/activities. mentor and minister, but also use this website as a supplement to my resume. So far everything is well, please make sure to check out the different areas of my site. If you wish to send me feedback, please use the contact form here.

 

Thank you and God bless!

 

In His service,

Zach

Nov 17, 2011 - Update    No Comments

Update 11 – 16 – 2011

Update to all. The site is coming together–somewhat. Hopefully it will be somewhat completed by the end of this month in time for the Christmas season. God bless and have a wonderful day!

-ZS

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