Broken Mirror

It’s easy to see the faults, the little cracks, in others. Am I right? Everywhere we look we can see imperfections. This truth is especially true when we cast our gaze upon humanity. But why? Why is it so easy to focus solely upon, what we deem, faults of those around us while continuing to think of ourselves as being better off? The answer is pride, envy, guilt, jealousy, and anything else you can think of. Overall the answer is simple….it’s the sinful nature found within every one of us that causes us to want to focus on the faults of others.

Have you ever judged someone? If so, I bet you did not feel bad about it at the time. Now, have you ever been blatantly judged? Was it justified? How did you feel? If you were honest I would bet you answered that you felt mad, upset, or even hurt.

What if I challenged you to think about how you would feel the next time you began to focus on someone else’s faults and judged them? Do you think that would make you take a step back and reanalyze what you were doing and why? Would you begin to think about how that person is a precious child to the Lord Most High? What about putting yourself in their shoes, would that happen? Would you realize that you are looking into a broken mirror? Why or why not?

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but to each of you to the interests of others” (NIV 2011).

Lost In The Wilderness

As of lately I have become immensely fascinated by maps and wilderness navigation. There is something about looking at an image and using it to move throughout canyons and mountains that brings out a sense of adventure in everyone. Something else about maps is intriguing to me though, the ability to see where you have been and look into the “future” to where you are going. This ability to see into the future allows us to prepare and come up with a plan of attack and that is what I love…planning and being prepared.

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Needless to say I easily become frustrated when I cannot plan, or my plans fail. And this is exactly when God knows He has me where He wants me; when my plans fail and there is no back-up plan. It’s funny how we can plan and plan but are never prepared for when our plans fail. And how crazy is it that the part of the plan that fails most often is the exact part of the plan that is seen as the strongest and least likely to fail; except for divine interference from God.

Currently I wish I had a map that would show me what God has in store so I could be at ease, but also so I could prepare for the next obstacle, but what would that do to strengthen my faith? Nothing and that’s why God will never give us a map to follow.

Though I am struggling to continue on this path in good faith, I am confident that God has something in store and that He provides for all of our needs and will place us where He wants us for the moment.

Lord, use me where you see fit and where I will grow the most for your glory. Use me, move me, challenge me, and call me for your purposes wherever that may lead. I am yours…completely.

My Sea of Galilee

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Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind,[b] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (NRSV)

This account is of Jesus walking on water and bringing comfort to His followers in the way only the true Son of God can. God Himself called Peter to step out into a raging, open sea….a sea full of uncertainty and possibility of failure. There was one catch though, all Peter had to do was fully focus and rely on God to keep him safe.

There are many times in life that, as Christians, we are called to completely trust God and take steps out into uncertain waters. And this is exactly where I am currently. I am Peter being beckoned into a raging sea full of failure and uncertainty.

The very God who is calling me into this sea is also strong enough to save me if I should start to sink, so my soul will respond to the call by saying, “Yes, Lord, I will trust in you. I will heed your call into this sea of uncertainty and rely fully on your power and love for me to keep me, your servant, safe.

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“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now”

Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Homosexuality and Marriage

The thoughts in this post are strictly my own, as I sort through them, and in no way representing those of the Church of the Nazarene.

I never thought I’d be writing a post about homosexuality and marriage, because to me the issue is too broad. But I woke up this morning to find myself reading an article about a major Christian denomination attempting to split in order to separate the progressive ministers from the traditionalist ministers. This would allow room for ministers to perform homosexual marriages without forcing the traditionalists to accept it.

My natural instinct as a minister was: “God, look at the Church…it’s falling to pieces in a world that so badly needs it”. 

So here are some of my thoughts on this hot topic:

  1. Though this is far from an exhaustive list the Bible says this about homosexuality…it’s a sin
    1.  “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22
    2. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sounddoctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” 1 Timothy 1:8-11
  2. Though homosexuality is a sin, so is adultery, idolatry, hate, lying, and judging…
  3. Though homosexuality is an act of sin, I believe we need to let ministers decide wether or not they will perform homosexual weddings….and here are some reasons why:
    1. If we refuse to marry homosexuals based on the simple fact that it’s an act of sin, then we MUST STOP marrying those heterosexual couples who are sleeping with each other outside of marriage, who are living together outside of marriage, or even have children outside of marriage!! Why? Because of the immorality that so often accompanies those events, which would also be acts of sin. IF WE MARRY THE SEXUALLY IMMORAL, THOSE PREGNANT OUT OF WEDLOCK, AND THOSE LIVING TOGETHER, BUT NOT HOMOSEXUALS WE ARE GUILTY OF JUDGING
      1. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5
      2. “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12
      3. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” Romans 2:1-3
    2. My last thought for now on this is: Christ died for my sins, in the same way He died for the sins of the sexually immoral, homosexuals, liars, judgers, thieves, slanderers, those controlled by greed, and everyone else in the world! The blood that ran from MY Saviors body and down that tree is SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL than my sins, or those sins of anyone around me. As Christians let start focusing on the atoning blood and quit focusing on our human logic and judgments. Lets begin to minister to a broken world instead of fight among ourselves….I think Christ would prefer that.

Neither Jew or Gentile

This is in no way a full arrangement of my thoughts (those will be pieced together in later posts).This is primarily an introduction to how God’s been changing and molding me.

This summer I went on a school trip to Israel in order to finish the last credit hours needed to fulfill the requirements for my degree. And though I knew it would be a life changing adventure, I never fully realized just how powerful the trip would be.

We travelled all over the country and saw a large number of Biblical sites. These sites include Nazareth, Bethlehem, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Pools of Bethesda, Megiddo, and Masada. While learning about the different sites, we also spent time focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict that is currently going on….and this is where my heart was ultimately challenged.

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For most people this conflict boils down to either supporting Israel, or supporting Palestine…with no possible way to support both.  But it became clear after hearing stories from both sides that there are no innocent parties. Dehumanization is happening on both sides, but most Evangelical Christian groups refuse to see it for that, and view their stance (supporting Israel) as the only Biblical option.

And though that may be the more correct answer according to the Old Testament, many would argue that according to the New Testament that view couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28

Christians exist on both sides of the battle line….and yet the struggle for “control” continues to rage on. Since when are Christians allowed to pass judgment, let alone support the killing of other people, let alone OTHER CHRISTIANS? I’m not sure about yours, but my Bible tells me I should strive to love those around me no matter what…..that I should join together with other Christians and praise our Father together as one.

Lets put Gods commands, and decrees before our personal, and flawed ideals. As Christians we need to start focusing on being LESS pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, and be MORE pro-peace, pro-love, pro-justice…for all.

God, continue to be present in our lives in such a way that we can’t even attempt to deny your work. Keep helping us see and understand your ways, and how you call us to treat our fellow man. Let us honor and praise you through those acts, and allow them to mold us into more of the people you want us to be. In your Son’s great and glorious name we come to you and pray. Amen.

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Is Our Holiness Holy Enough..

1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality“.

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ“. 

(For a majority, if not the entirety, of this post I will be referencing 1 Thess 4:3)

I will also be posing more questions than answers in order to allow you to process things on your own.

What is holiness? What is sanctification? Is there some magical potion, or something, we need to get there or achieve them? If not then how in the world can we get to that state in our Christian walk……is it even possible for us sinful humans? Lets take a moment to ponder that.

Can a humanity, that fell from the beginning (from the desire by Adam and Eve to achieve godly knowledge), ever recover from such a fall and get to a state of complete devotion to God while still living on this Earth. Have you ever taken time to ask that question?

Well what do YOU think?

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Luckily for me, I’ve spent some time thinking about this over the last semester as I study this thing we so dearly call Christianity, especially sanctification. This topic has been emphasized as well by my working through the licensing in the Church of the Nazarene. The fact that God would Will us to be sanctified tells me, first of all, that it is a completely possible state to attain in this life. If it weren’t, why would God’s Will be for us to be sanctified?

1 Thessalonians 4:3 seems to be speaking primarily in the matter of sexuality, but the principles can be applied to any aspect of our life. If our sexuality is sanctified and completely devoted to God and loving others than how could any part of the rest of our life be unsanctified? Would that even be possible? Could we be sanctified in one area and unsanctified in another? I’ll let you process that on your own.

So why don’t more Christians seek this sanctification? What’s so intimidating about it? Or are most of us American Christians to afraid to devote ourselves completely to God because we don’t want to give up our sins and comfortable life? What’s your reason? Why aren’t you allowing God to mold you into all He wants you to be?

Isaiah 64:6, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

BUT THERE IS HOPE THROUGH GOD’S GRACE

1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality“.

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ“. 

“Therefore Stay Awake—For You Do Not Know When the Master of the House Will Come.”

According to the FBI

  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. It is not only the girls on the streets who are affected; boys and transgender youth enter into prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13 on average

According to The Covering House

According to Abolition Media (Internationally)

  • 27 million people are involved in modern-day slavery across the world
  • 32 billion – Total yearly profits generated by the human trafficking industry
  • An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year

Last night I finally gave into two separate, but like callings from God. Every couple moths for the past year or so I have been compelled to speak out against the Sex Trade, and advocate those groups attempting to put an end to it, and rescue the victims of it.

A couple of weeks ago I found a song that talks about how we, as Christians, are called to harvest the Earth for God. To sow, and reap. And how it is now time to start harvest because The Master is coming soon. In essence its a call to action hidden in a catchy song, but it’s one that won’t soon depart any authentic Christians mind.

The song is The Harvester – Brandon Heath.

It’s time to wake up America!!

AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE CALLED TO FIGHT THE INJUSTICES IN THE WORLD!

For all the ways God has blessed us how can we sit on the sidelines while others around the world, and EVEN IN OUR COUNTRY are getting their freedoms taken away by either poverty, or by others selling them as if they (HUMAN BEINGS CREATED IN GODS IMAGE) are mere cattle.

“14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” James 2:14-21

It’s not just faith that saves us! SAVING FAITH PRODUCES WORKS NATURALLY!!! It’s a cause and effect relationship. Why would God save us if He knew we sat around and watch our BROTHERS AND SISTER being forsaken?

Last year I had the honor of meet a couple of amazing men from a group called Destiny Rescue. They are committed to fighting Child Trafficking, Slavery, and Sexual Exploitation all over the world.  They speak out against, work with governments agencies, and even go in a actively rescue victims out of the situations they find themselves in.

They are just one group out of many that are created to fight this injustice. But without support and help ultimately these agencies will never succeed.

As far as I’m concerned only God has any right to not care. But HE DOES CARE! Do YOU?

As a Christian YOU are commanded to be a light in the world, to live as Jesus did, to fight for equality, and to speak for those who can’t. Are you? Are you being a voice for the millions that are stuck in any of the injustices in the world? Or are you sitting at your desk, in a heated house, wearing new clothes, surrounded by a loving family without any worries about those down the road who don’t have any of that?

Psalms 82:3 “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you

Luke 10:30-37 “In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

1 John 3:17-18 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

God’s Unexpected Gifts

As most of you know, last year (2012) I was deployed to Afghanistan until August of that year. This meant training started in Sept of 2011, requiring lots of traveling. Well due to the timing of our departure out of country and Christmas we were allowed to take some time off and go home to spend time with our loved ones before we walked in hell’s front door. 

As expected we were all excited to go home and were anticipating the time for the buses to arrive at the Mississippi base to take us away. Most of us had headphones in listening to music that reflected what we had been through in some way, while the others stood around “smokin and joking” as we call it. The songs we listened to varied from love songs, rap, and songs that got our blood pumping. There was one song that in particular struck my mood at that time and the whole bus ride home to Ohio I listened to it. The more I listened to it, the more I thought about by girlfriend at the time, and honestly the more I prepped for the trip that would be coming way too soon. 

We got home safely and spend the time with loved ones and living life like only a soldier about to be deployed would. Fast forward to Christmas Day. I gave Amanda a ring and made her my fiancé. 1 week later I left to go back to Mississippi. Within 2 weeks I was on the other side of the world. But it was that bus ride back to Mississippi that really stuck out to me. It was way too early in the morning. We had to report to the Armory somewhere around 4 am, so my family and Amanda went out to Walmart (for some reason) and to get breakfast. (That is one of my favorite memories from when dad was alive). 

Well I got on the bus and instantly put my headphones back in…that same song. Playing over and over, the whole way. It made me think of my new love, and those I was leaving behind. 

Moral of the story is that God used a single song to keep those feelings of love and commitment kindled in the depths of my heart. No matter how mad I was, or how hurt I was, whenever I listened to that song Amanda came to my mind and that unending love refilled my heart. Even to this day that song has the same effect. It rekindles those memories and makes me remember exactly what I felt during those times and what love for her should look/feel like.  Even though the song is by no means a Christian song, or even a song I’m willing to post on here, God still used it as a way to remind me about what our love started off as, and what it should be like.