The World of Pain and the Bridge of Hope

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Recently I was looking at an interview done by NBC News talking with Tracy Morgan after his car accident and was very saddened. Not only was I saddened seeing him go through a tough time, given experiencing a bad car accident myself, but what really got to me was his answer to the reporters question. The reporter asked him, “Emotionally speaking, do you experience depression? How are you getting through that?” He then answered, “I love comedy, I wonder how I’m going to be funny again……remembering my identity, what do I do.” His answer personifies a deep issue that many people are dealing with individually and what we are dealing with right now as a society collectively: We are in sense of desperation and many of us are without hope.

Not only that, we know that these issues are there but we violently strive to stay busy enough or preoccupied enough with things that give us a sense of comfort so that we don’t have to address these issues. We’re always trying to keep up with the latest news, latest tweet, latest Facebook post, latest sporting event or news to not look upon these things but suppress it in hopes that it goes away, but it doesn’t. It’s like knowing you have to take out the garbage, letting it stay in the house for weeks but spraying air freshener to counteract the smell that just won’t go away.

Have you ever just sat back and realized how bad and evil things really are? Have you ever just really thought about Isis and what they’re doing? Not only that but the massive racial tension, constant murders, and political wars going on that we surely can’t ignore. What about the ideological tension? People are filled with greed taking money for themselves, with no view of society as a whole. I could go on and on. We’re living in a time in which the writer of Judges expresses and is true for us today, that “…..everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21: 25) As in the past, this is a day where man still continues to believe in himself and his ability to solve his problems.

What is the answer? What is the bridge that mends the chasm of our hopeless desperation?

Not too long ago I interviewed some young people around my age. I asked them four questions, which were: How did we get here? What’s the meaning of life? What’s wrong with the world? How can what’s wrong be made right? One of the young ladies answered like this. She said, “Didn’t we all just evolve to what we are? Well that’s what I just learned in class today. The meaning of life is to just enjoy it and be as good as you can to everyone. She said she didn’t know what was wrong with the world but obviously something is wrong. Lastly, she said in order for things to be made right we have to be better people and do things differently.”

Walking away from the conversation, I realized something vey startling: This is what our society is teaching and telling us. Our society says that basically you’re a cosmic joke, you’re here by accident and you’re just the end result of random evolutionary processes. What’s the meaning of life? This is all there is, so you might as well live it up to the fullest why you have it. Just consume, enjoy, and satisfy your desires. It’s all about you. You want to recreate the gender norms, sexuality, and morality? Do it. You want to just be generically spiritual or be religious and approach God anyway you want because He accepts everyone just as they are doesn’t He? Go ahead. What’s wrong with this world? Well looking at it, everybody is a good person and you’re either not governed correctly or educated sufficiently. How can the wrong be made right? Easy, just get a little more information and get a little more education. All the while telling us that these are the answers to the hope that we’re looking for, they’re leading us down paths of unfulfilled promises. The chasm just gets wider and wider, the absence of hope gets deeper and deeper with every fleeting moment. But there’s good news……..

Hope has come. It’s not through a situation, or a circumstance, nor through a human relationship, it was through a person and His name is Jesus.

What is the bridge that mends the chasm of our hopeless desperation? It’s the Gospel!

2,000 years ago, the bridge of hope entered the world. When He stepped down from majesty, to take on full humanity, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1: 15,16) It’s very important to realize when figuring out who you are, it’s starts with Him. You are the crowning glory of God’s creation. We’re the only part of God’s creation deemed created in His image. Because we’ve been created in the image of God, in His compassion, rationality, love, and fellowship, we have inherent dignity, value and worth. You’re not just an accident.

Why are you here? He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:17,18) You exist to bring God glory. God’s glory is what drives the universe. It’s why everything exists. As the Westminster Catechism state, “What is the chief end of man? To bring glory to God and to enjoy Him forever.” Not only that but God saves man for His namesake (Psalms 106:8), Jesus’ life and ministry was about the glory of God (John 7:18; 17:4), even the universe sings forth His glory (Psalms 19:1)! Our society says look within you, see what you want and go get it, the Gospel says look outside of yourself, that’s why you’re here.

What’s wrong with the world we live in? I am. You are. It’s that we have this deep abiding issue: sin. The problem lies in the fact that human beings since the Fall are sinful by nature and live in a world in which powerful forces seek to induce us to reject God and His standard for our living. We are the only part in creation where God commands to obey, and we turn to Him and say “No. My way is better.” It’s this rebellion and love of it that’s wrong with the world. We don’t do what we are created to do. We owe Him our obedience and worship but yet we worship the created things rather than the Creator and suppress the truth and our unrighteousness. We all like sheep have gone astray; each has turned to His own way. (Isaiah 53) We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and deserve God’s wrath as punishment. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) There’s nothing we can do to change that, you can’t just govern or educate that away. You can’t give enough motivational speeches, write enough man-centered self-help books, or do more religious and moral works to get rid of it. It’s there and is the chasm between you and hope.

What is it about the Gospel that is the bridge of hope?

It’s the cross of Christ. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:19) When Christ entered the world, He came to give His life as a ransom. He came to do the will of the Father in being our substitute and dying in our place. In His active obedience He fulfilled our righteous requirement and in His passive obedience He took upon Himself our wrath and the curse of our disobedience. But He didn’t just stop there. He didn’t just live the life we should live and died the death that we deserved, He rose again, eternally triumphant in defeating death. His death was the payment; the resurrection was the receipt. When Christ died, infinite holiness, infinite purity, and infinite righteousness was laid down on the behalf of finite sinners. And the payment was more than enough. So that God could stand all at once completely justified, He poured out His wrath on sin. Those who come to Christ in repentance and in faith are found in Christ. We were in Christ on the Cross and God has punished our sin in Christ. He can stand as a just, holy, and a righteous God and yet forgive sinners, who otherwise have no hope of ever being forgiven. Because of this vicarious death, because our sinfulness is imputed on Christ and His righteousness is imputed on us, we can stand before God, completely justified and completely forgiven. He died not to make bad men good, He died and rose to make dead men live. The chasm has been bridged.

If you’re a Christian, I pray that this blog, and more importantly the truths it communicates, would cause your heart to swell with joy and assurance in the hope of what Christ has accomplished that is a present reality. God is sovereign, the Lord Jesus reigns, and by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

If you’re a non-Christian reading this, I pray that you will be provoked to think hard about the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the message we have staked our lives on, and it demands a response from you as well. As Greg Gilbert says, “If there’s anything in the world that you cannot afford to ignore, it is the voice of God saying, ‘Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgment! That kind of announcement demands attention.’”

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How Do I Know I’m A Christian?

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There are questions about ourselves that are easily answered, and there are other questions that present more of a challenge.

If someone asks me, “Are you a husband?” I can show them my ring, present my wedding certificate, point to the woman standing next to me who shares my life and my last name. Yes, I am 100% sure that I’m married.

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The Pursuit

Hi my name is Jasamine Stewart. I’m 23, married to the most amazing man on the planet, and I love Jesus. God gave me this blog a long time ago and although life delayed it, I’m thankful for the opportunity to share it now. I’m not a writer or a Bible expert I just know what the Lord has shown me. Thanks babe for letting me write a guest post on your blog! Enjoy 🙂

I can think back to years of my life where I spent so much time working. Working so hard to make the best grades, earn the most awards, trying to be fastest, the prettiest, the best .I wanted PERFECTION, or at least the appearance of it. I look back on those years and ask why? Why did I want acceptance so badly? It’s because I didn’t know my heavenly Father. While I was busy laboring in the wrong fields for earthly gains, pursuing temporal validation, God was reaching out to me. I thought that if I achieved all of these things, I would win some sort of prize or achieve some sort of important status. I was searching for acceptance and satisfaction in all the wrong places. I reluctantly carried this void for many years.  I believed that achievement and honor would fill me and sustain me but little did I know how impossible that was. You see the only thing in this world that can fully satisfy you is JESUS! Jesus said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John6:35)

Even in my rebellion of chasing after all of these things that would bring temporary satisfaction, God still loved me so much and continued to pursue me. He reached out to me and allowed me to see how flawed my thinking was. No work, acclaim, or person  from this fallen world would ever fill the void that persisted  in my heart. No, it was only through His son Jesus where I would find true love, forgiveness of sins, and the life that I so longed for.  As the Apostle John wrote,  “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

I’m so thankful that no matter how messed up I was or still am, I have a heavenly Father that never gives up on me and always welcomes me with open arms. And in this relationship with Him, He gives us a choice. Like any other relationship we choose who we love and have companion with, otherwise that would be a pretty awkward relationship. The same goes with God. He forces Himself on no one, yet He allows us to choose to either accept Him or reject Him.

In light of His pursuit of us, when the Gospel meets our life it demands a response. We see who we are in light of who God is and the Gospel stirs our hearts. We are stirred one way or another: belief or unbelief. Will you continue to search for temporary gains in this world through a person, job, status, etc? Or will you truly seek to to turn from your sin and enjoy a joyous, eternal relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Many reject Him because of love of sin and wanting to be in control of our life. Even in our rebellion, “….he is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) 

Unlocking The Treasures

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Before I stepped foot onto the football field at Clemson University, I had never had any legitimate experience in playing Defensive Back. I knew that I wanted to play this position because, in my mind, it was the quickest way I was going to make it to the NFL. I had played the position in high school but beyond that I was as good as a musically inclined person picking up a new instrument: a novice.

The first practice of my career went completely contrary than I expected it to go. Not so good. I got my first rep and I actually thought I was going to do well. I saw many great Defensive Backs and had teammates like Coty Sensabaugh (Tennessee Titans) & Marcus Gilchrist (San Diego Chargers) give me pointers on techniques. I just knew I was ready for the job. Wrong.

Obviously learning to play Defensive Back at a high level takes a lot more than just someone showing you how to play it and pointers. It requires skills that take practice after practice, workout after workout and drill after drill to develop fully.

The study of God’s Word is no different. Learning to do it properly is a process that can’t and won’t happen overnight. Yet that’s just what we do with new Christ-followers when we tell them to make sure they invest in personal Bible Study time. As a novice, we’re handed a Bible and expected to take it from there. It’s not rocket science as to why many give up on the process.

As in the previous blog, I gave you a number of reasons as to why people don’t study the Bible as well as why it’s most crucial & essential to everyday life. I think one of the most common reasons is that people don’t know “how” to go about the process. There’s a method to it all. But before I go into the method I want to give you 10 ways to go about your personally study time. Personal Bible Study has a very specific aim: life change. So it’s absolutely necessary that you study prayerfully, study humbly, study carefully, study joyfully, study simply, study confidently, study consistently, study diligently, study intentionally, and study personally.

So then, how do we get to that particular aim? What process will lead to that result? How do we unlock the treasures of Scripture? Let’s take a closer look at the road we will travel. Remember: The Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy. So be patient and diligent.

1.Observation  

In this first step, you ask and answer the question, What do I see? In this step you want to look for four things. First, want to look for terms. A term is more than just a word. It’s a key word that is crucial to what an author has to say because it unlocks the meaning. You got to learn to recognize terms and pay close attention to them, because they are the basic building blocks with which you construct meaning. Secondly, you want to look for structure. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not just a collection of mere stories that just fell together. It’s a library of carefully written books. There are two kinds of structure found in Scripture: grammatical structure and literary structure. Third, you must pay attention to the literary form. There’s a huge difference between the Hebrew poetry of the Psalms and the epistles of Paul. Each book, chapter, and verse must be read according to its proper “rules” if you want to grasp the message of the author. Lastly, look for the atmosphere of the text. What was it like to be in the author’s shoes? What was it like for Paul to be in prison? What was it like for him and Philemon as he appealed for him to accept his run-away slave as a brother in Christ? You want to transport your senses into the passage. This is an exercise for the imagination, not just the intellect.

  1. Interpretation

Here is where you want to ask and answer the question, What does it mean? This is the central quest of your journey. You want to find the meaning. First, you must barrage the text with questions. If you want to understand a biblical text, they must be asked. That doesn’t mean that every one of them will be answered, but you still need to ask them to determine if they can be answered. Obviously if you’re going to ask questions, you must also go look for the answers. Where do you find them? In the text. The answers for your questions will come directly from your last step of observation. The more time you spend in observation, the less time you will need to spend in interpretation, and the more accurate will be your results. Vice Versa. Not only must you ask the text questions, look for the answers, but also you must put the answers together in a meaningful whole. Integration is the stage where you reconstruct the meaning of a passage after you’ve taken it apart to inspect the details.

  1. Application

This is where the text comes alive in your life. In this crucial step you want to ask and answer the question, How does it work? It’s so important after you ask the previous questions to allow the text to come alive. How would it work in my life? Because if it isn’t working in my life, then what authority do I have to share it with someone else? In that case I would have a credibility gap. You must see how the text would transform your life. I think a great way to go through this process is using S-P-E-C-K: Sin to avoid, Promise to claim, Example to model or not, Command to follow/Call to action, and Knowledge to gain about God.

Bible study is so crucial to our everyday life and walk with the Lord Jesus. There are treasures in Scripture that are ready to be unlocked and transform your life to conform you to the image of Christ as well as carry on His ministry with other believers. We’re commanded to encourage one another and be equipped while on this mission. I hope these steps help you in your study time. These thoughts presented by Howard G. Hendricks has changed my Bible Study time and I’m confident it’ll do the same for you. Share with someone else. Enjoy your journey and travel well my friend. Be diligent in your pursuit of His mission.

Why Study The Bible?

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So I’ve been on a journey. A journey that takes patience, consistent effort, and denial of self-sufficiency. As I read different books that supplement my Word study and help me along the way, I like to share what they’ve taught me with others to help you as well. While on this journey I’ve learned there is some thing that is, though looked at as monotonous at times, critically essential to our Christian walk: Study of the Bible.

With the world that we live in, there are a number of reason why people don’t study the Bible. Many of us want a word from God, but we don’t want the Word of God. We know enough to own a Bible but not enough for the Bible to own us. We pay the Bible lip service, but fail to give it “life service”. Do you question the Bible’s relevance to real life issues? Are you locked out the process because a lack of technique and basic skills? Are you convinced that study of God’s truth is only for the “professionals”, not just ordinary people like you and I? Is it a low priority or no priority at all? Do you have doubts about it’s reliability or whether you can really determine it’s meaning? Or do you perceive it as boring?

If you identify with any of these reasons, then this post is for you. But trust me, every one of these obstacles can be overcome. Let’s take a journey through three passages that should build a pretty convincing case for three benefits you can expect from Scripture that can be found nowhere else. These aren’t an option, they’re absolutely essential.

I.Bible study is essential to growth

1 Peter 2:2 – like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation

Here are three words that unpack the truth of this particular passage. The first word is attitude. Peter describes the attitude of a newborn baby in comparison to our longing for the Word. Just as a baby needs a bottle to sustain and fill it’s hunger, so are we in need of the Bible to sustain us. I like to think of it like an equation: Baby + milk = growth physically; Believer + Word = growth spiritually. The two are absolutely synonymous and essential for their growth. As a baby’s attitude shows it’s dependence on milk, so should our attitude show a dependence on Scripture.

Peter also gives a point about our appetite for the Word. He shows us that we should “long” for the Scriptures. In light of our view on study of the Word, it’s almost viewed as an acquired only for those “other” people and not for me. One of the Psalmist says God’s Word is “..more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” How do you acquire this taste? By feasting on the Word.

There is a purpose to all of this, which brings me to the last word: aim. What is the aim of the Bible? The text tells us: so that you will not only know but grow. Certainly you can’t grow without knowing but you can definitely know without growing. Please understand, it was not written to satisfy you curiosity, but to help you conform to the Christ’s image. Not to make you a smart sinner, but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a bunch of biblical facts, but to fill your heart and transform your life. You should ask yourself this question: As long as I have been a Christian, have I been growing old or have I been growing up? This leads us to point #2.

II.Bible study is essential to spiritual maturity

Hebrews 5:11-14 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again, for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good from evil.

This is an instructive passage in terms of studying Scripture. The writer says “it’s hard to explain” not because of the difficulty of revelation but because of the density of reception. He said they were “dull of hearing” or modern terms slow to learn. The key word in this passage is time. He tells his readers that in light of the passing of time they should be communicating the truth to others as teachers but still needed to have someone communicate it to them. That’s true for us today. He says they still need milk not solid food because solid food is for the mature. So that bids the question, who is the mature? Are they the people who go to seminary? Or the ones who can destroy anyone in a theological battle? Or who knows the most Bible verses? No, the writer says that the spiritually mature are the ones who trained themselves in constant use of Scripture to distinguish good from evil. The mark of spiritual maturity is not how much you understand, it is how much you obey.

III. Bible study is essential for spiritual effectiveness.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

That’s such encouraging and powerful Scripture. It says that ALL Scripture is profitable, even the ones we tend to neglect because of the emotional, pragmatic, and superficial approaches to Scriptures we take. Paul says that all Scripture is profitable, but for what?

  • Doctrine/teaching: It will structure your thinking. That’s crucial because if you’re not thinking in light of Scripture, how can living be correct? What you believe will determine everything about your life.
  • Rebuke/reproof: It will tell you where you are out-of-bounds, it tells you what sin is, what God wants for your life, who you are light of who God is, and much more.
  • Correction: It opens the doors (whether open or hidden) in your life and provides a purifying component to help you clean out sin and conform to God’s will.
  • Training in righteousness: God uses it to show you how to live. Having corrected you on the negatives, He gives you positive guidelines as you are on your journey.

What is the overall purpose in this text? In order that you will be equipped for every good work. Bible study and obeying it is the primary means to becoming an effective servant of Jesus in this life.

Now the ball is in your court. It’s so important that we be prepared and equipped for every good  work God has to for us in view of His mission on this earth. He has outlined it in His Word, it’s now on you to invest. Travel well my friend. Be led by the Holy Spirit and His direction and err on the side of action; don’t default to negligence. The real question is: How can you afford not to be in God’s Word?

For more info on this resource, purchase the book “Living by the Book” written by Howard G. Hendricks

The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned….The Most Important Lesson I Could Teach You.

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Over the course of life we learn many different lessons that are important. Some of these things that we learn, whether grand or miniscule, may not be of equal value but of equal importance when it comes to putting ourselves in the best possible position to have a successful life. For example, the lesson of being respectful, responsible, trustworthy, etc. Or learning the lesson it takes to accomplish your job, going to college to learn to achieve a degree, or even learning the plays of the playbook to put yourself in the best position to succeed. They’re all of equal importance but of different value to each one of our lives. In light of this lesson that I’ve learned and going to share with you today, those lessons don’t even compare. Not in importance. Not in value.

This is not an exaggeration. In many ways I believe this is the most important lesson I’ve ever learned and if it were the only lesson that I’ve learned, it would be enough.

What this lesson is, is the lesson of how to spend time alone in the Bible, studying, reading it for myself, and spending alone time with God. Because once I figured out how to read this book for myself, which it’s not hard with all of the resources and helps that we have provided through the Internet, once I started to do that, I was ok. That’s really all that I needed in this life. I really could just go to this book and see what God has to say to me and just do it. It produces a life in which you are not dependent on other people to explain it to you, because the Holy Spirit has given you illumination to the truths of the book.

Let me stop here and tell you another important thing that I’ve learned which held to be true. Someone once shared with me, “This Bible is the most powerful thing on Earth. It’s the greatest thing on Earth but it can be the most dangerous thing if you don’t have a heart to please God and allow the Holy Spirit to transform everything about your life. It can produce the most joyous life in Christ but also can produce the most self-centered, egotistical, Pharisaic-legalistic mentality if you’re not careful. Use it, don’t abuse it.”

This is a scary realization. Honestly, just like I did for so long, I believe that so many of us don’t read the Bible for ourselves. We would rather read what this guy’s blog says about it, or what this person’s book says, or what that person on stage says, etc, failing to realize that the Scripture is final authority. Personally, I don’t see how it’s possible to pull off following God in our culture and our world without spending this true uninterrupted time alone with God. Without this alone time with Him, it produces a life of arrogance, self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, and a lack of the love of Christ. Learning from someone else or listening to different messages is great, but it’s something so different about time alone with God.

The truth is, it’s the only time that we can’t lie. See I can lie to you; I can very easily lie to you. It’s really not that hard to deceive someone. I know how to seem humble and say the right words to make you think that I’m that way or close to God, or to think whatever you want to think about me. We get pretty good at communication and communicating to people who you want them to think you are but then there’s that alone time with God and there’s no one to lie to. God knows the intention of the heart, even when we’re trying to look or sound good. It’s even times in our prayers that we think we’re clever enough to try and sound good, to make it look like we love Him and want to be with Him but He sees it. He sees how we long for the things of the world and He’s an afterthought, but we’re clever enough think we can do that. Rightttttt. It’s the one time you really have to be real.

Recently, my wife and I have been doing a challenge; which I think is one of the best challenges in the midst of all these crazy challenges on social medias. This challenge is to spend 30 mins. or more of uninterrupted time with God together and apart. It’s been so great and refreshing to go before the God of the entire universe, who keeps all things moving, who sent His Son Jesus Christ for us, who allowed us to have hope in that great sacrifice and commune with Him. As Peter says it in 2 Peter 1, “So I will always remind you of these thing, even though you know them and are firmly establish in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…..For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…..We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it…” (2 Peter 1:12,13;16;19)

This lesson has changed my life. All the lessons I’ve learned so far had importance in their own way, but this was the most important lesson I have ever learned and could ever teach you. We have this Bible that has proven itself over thousands of years. It’s reliable and it will do us all well to pay attention to it. Let it be enough for you; it’s the very words of God. Spend that alone time with God. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Allow it to change your life. God bless you.

The Game Show

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Where you are in life right now, it’s no mistake.

By now you’ve probably realized that you have a distinct but important choice to make each day: Just let life happen, while trying to survive to the next day, or actively run this race with diligence and expectation until the end. With each day comes new challenges, new possibilities, new perspectives, a new this and new that, all of which are the means by which our lives are pushed toward something worth living.

As I sit back and take a look at my life and the lives of others, I would compare them to two game shows. Either we are living this life like “The Amazing Race”; full of excitement and expectations for the new possibilities for each day, or we are living each day like “Survivor”; just holding on to what resources we have just to “survive”. Which defines your life?

In my opinion, it’s so easy to live life as if we’re in the middle of the show “Survivor.” We have to go no further than the issues that we face on a constant day-to-day basis. As soon as we wake up, we’re smacked in the face with the idea of “things” that would seem to make our life more “secure” and “comfortable”. We make states like: “I don’t have enough of this or that.” “I can’t get here or there.” “I wish I would have done this.” “Why did this have to happen?” “Well if I just had a little more of this, I’ll be fine.” This perspective leads to a life of just trying to make it through the day. This life breeds nothing but worry and stress. This life is not enjoyable; trust me I know. The resources that we do have are inadequately used because they’re channeled in the wrong direction. We’ve all been here. Sad thing is, some of us are still here because the cares of life are choking any hope of something “amazing” in each day.

Can I help point you in the direction of freedom?

Jesus says it best. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

If we cannot add any more time to our life by worrying about things, which we have no control over to begin with, why not make the CHOICE to live “The Amazing Race”? One of the most beautiful things God gave us is choice. We truly have the ability to look pass all of our daily problems and reach toward the goal in mind. The more I look at life, the more I realize that life is so much more than things. It’s so much more than having a selfish attitude of concern about what “I” can get out of life. Having that mindset is boring to me. Just look at it this way: Imagine that you’re on your deathbed. You’ve done all the things that you wanted to do for yourself. You’ve visited all the places on the bucket list, you’ve made millions of dollars, you’ve accumulated so much stuff but have no life, what did you gain? Now imagine this: You’re on your deathbed. You have believed in Jesus and your belief has been evident in your life. You didn’t just talk about it but you lived it. You’ve repented and trusted in Christ and Him alone. You gave to the poor. You took people in who needed help. You were more concerned about others needs rather than your own. You didn’t hold on to the cares of this life so much that it affected who you are. You’ve run the race of life with endurance and at the end of your life you leave behind something that will outlive you and that’s a life in radical abandonment to the glory of Triune God. Now that is amazing! That is living “The Amazing Race” each day. The sad part about this is that in America, the first is the lifestyle that is portrayed and sought after.

Living “The Amazing Race” is not about choosing to be pushed by the goals and dreams you have in life, which are all temporary. It is about living life with an eternal mindset; living a life with the glory of God in view. It’s not about living like “Survivor”, just trying to hold onto the things of this life to make it to the next day, but holding onto what’s eternal that allows you to look forward to each day no matter what. Don’t look to what you can get out of life, look how you can maximize the glory of God in your life. Choose to live each day in that pursuit! Live “The Amazing Race”!

Lessons From Brooke Bronkowski: Living a life that matters.

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When I read certain things, they touch me in a place in which I say, “Wow, that was touching. That was a great story.” But I walk away just touched. Then there are other things that I read and I walk away and say, “I have to do something.” I walk away changed.

Currently I’m reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and there’s a story in the book about a sweetheart named Brooke Bronkowski. When I tell you this young lady was awesome, this young lady was AWESOME. She was a fourteen-year-old girl who was madly in love with Jesus. During her high school years, she started a Bible study on campus, spent her money on Bibles so that her friends could have them, and people lives were completely changed because of her efforts.

She wrote this essay when she was twelve years old; I read it and walked away changed.

“SINCE I HAVE MY LIFE BEFORE ME”

By Brooke Bronkowski

I’ll live my life to the fullest. I’ll be happy. I’ll brighten up. I will be more joyful than I have ever been. I will be kind to to others. I will loosen up. I will tell others about Christ. I will go on adventures and change the world. I will be bold and not change who I really am. I will have no troubles but instead help others with their troubles.

 You see, I’ll be one of those people who live to be history makers at a young age. Oh, I have moments, good and bad, but I will wipe away the bad and only remember the good. In fact that’s all I remember, just good moments, nothing in between, just living my life to the fullest. I’ll be one of those people who go somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan, and nothing will hold me back. I’ll set an example for others, I will pray for direction.

 I have my life before me. I will give others the joy I have and God will give me more joy. I will do everything God tells me to do. I will follow the footsteps of God. I will do my best!!!

October 22, 2000, Brooke and her friends were headed back from the movies when the driver of the car lost control of the car and crashed into a tree. Brooke Bronkowski was pronounced dead the next morning. Her life on earth may have ended when she was just fourteen, but her impact didn’t. In her short years on earth, Brooke was faithful and committed to her mission to serve Christ. Her life was not in vain. She considered others over herself. She wasn’t overly concerned with what others though about her. At her funeral, people read her poems she had written about her love for God. Everyone spoke of her love and her joy. She lived a life that mattered. She was not concerned with the stress or the concerns of this life; all she was concerned with was her mission on earth.

How many of us can say that for ourselves? How many of us really live missionally? It’s very easy to hear a story like Brooke’s story and just be touched, without believing that it could just as easily be me or you or anyone who life ends suddenly. Each one of us could die at any moment, and at that moment when we face God, there is nothing you can change or do differently about your life on earth. We have to understand this. We have to believe it to a point that it changes the way we live.

So I encourage you, today, at this very moment, really let this soak in and remember that it is true. Allow this truth to change the way you think and the way you live. Live for Jesus. Go out and do things for other people. Go out and care for the poor. Don’t pass the homeless person on the street or the weird person without helping them, or at least sharing an encouraging word with them. Don’t see a friend in need and not help them. Don’t live life selfishly; only concerned with your desires and your objectives. Enjoy each day. Make each day the best day ever. Live a life that’s worth living. Live a life that matters.

http://articles.latimes.com/2000/oct/22/local/me-40332 (Article on Brooke)

The Best Day Of Your Life

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You could die before you finish reading this blog post. I could die as I’m writing this blog post. Today. At any given moment.

But it’s so easy to wake up and go about the day as if it was just “another day”. An average day where you go about your life overly concerned with your to-do list for the day, focused on different things such as your family, job, other appoints; thinking about your desires and needs.

We just do a great job by living each day caught up in so many things. We forget that our life truly is a vapor.

But there’s nothing normal about today. Today really can be THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. Everyday can.

You may ask, “How can that be possible? That just seems exhausting. Shouldn’t I be able to have some throwaway days? Even possibly some throwaway years.” When something grand is going to happen, it’s easy to say that this day is going to be the best day ever. But just an average day being the best day ever? Yeah right.

For me, like the day I had my first football practice, I thought that would be my best day ever. Or even when I played my first down, the day I started my first game, the day I graduated, or the day I got married. All of these days, to me, were going to be the best day ever.

What I’ve come to realize, since those days are behind me and I can never get them back, is that today is really the best day ever. Every day I wake up, I reaffirm that to myself. I’ve come to understand that there are so many things in this life that we can’t control. But the things that make our lives great and wonderful are under our control. See, we can’t control our money; God can take that away at any second. We can’t control our jobs or our positions; God can end that. People can end that. We can’t control our relationships; we can’t control other people and what they’re going to do or whether they are going to love us for the rest of our lives or not.

But how many of us try and control these things that we can’t control? All they do is produce worry and stress in our lives that affect each day. When we focus too much on these things to where they stress us out, it makes us so nearsighted that we are blind to what really matters in life. All we see is what’s right in front of our face right at that moment. We forget about all the things that matter that makes our lives great.

It’s kind of like this: If you dropped your IPhone and cracked the screen, it would ruin your whole day. Right? You’ll say, “Awwww man, it’s 22 months before my next upgrade. Why didn’t I get insurance? My liffffeeeeee is ruined.” Now suddenly all you are doing is staring at this one thing, and never mind that God woke you up that day. Just forget that everything that you need to make the day great is under your control. You forget that you have that job, or you’re blessed to live in that house, or drive that car, etc. Because you cracked your screen and you’re so nearsighted that you’re blind and you miss out on all of these things.

You can’t control those things but what you can control is your choice. You can choose each morning that today is going to be THE BEST DAY EVER. You can decide that you’re going to be so close to God that you’re going to seek Him with your whole heart. You can decide that you’re going to be pure in your thinking today or I’m going to give the best effort in life today. You can decide that you’re not going to worry and stress over things you can’t control but you’re going to be joyful in all things. You can make the choice that you’re going to show love today and share Jesus with someone today. All of these things that make your life great, you do control!

What will you decide today?

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

“It’s not what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.”

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Have you ever been in a store and you see a big bag of potato chips that advertise the bold description across the front: “Zero grams of trans fat.” Or maybe you have bought the diet soda that boasts that you’re consuming “Zero calories”. Yes, we all have. Through their advertisement, we sought what seemed appealing to our health without even looking deeper into the contents that were offered. Because they had these particular labels on their products, we just “assumed” they were healthy for us, would benefit us, and was the product that we were looking for.

When I take a closer look at these products and read what they had in them, I see that there are things like “yellow #6” and other artificial colors, and chemicals that I’ve never heard of. I thought it was very ironic that these products were being advertised in such a way that makes me think that they are not harmful yet were full of empty calories and chemicals that sounded weird.

This made me think.

It made me wonder how many of us flash around our “no trans fat” or “no calories” label, trying to convince everyone that we are healthy and good. Yet we have no healthy elements to our lives. We all declare, “Look, we have no trans fat. We have no calories. We are wealthy, we have good families, we’re in love, we’re doing the right things, and we’re going to church, or this and that.” But if we really looked within ourselves, we would realize that we’re not all that we advertise ourselves to be. On the inside, we’re prideful, we’re greedy, self-centered, and only worry about what we do when “people are watching.” Obviously, it’s not about what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.

As I write this post, I take it in and do a self-evaluation of Dante’. I ask you to do the same. Trust me, I could sell anything to you. We all know how to lie and fool people. In the society we live in, words come and go, we all know how to say the right things, sometimes do the right things, or post the right things to give an appearance that we are doing “the right thing.” I did it so well.

I’m reminded of what one of my coaches Brian Mance would always tell me when I told him I was going to make the play. He told me, “Stew, don’t talk me to death.” I talked oh so well. I would say that I was going to make the play but I would take plays off here and there. I wouldn’t run to the ball. I wouldn’t be focused. When the time came to make the play, I wasn’t ready because I talked myself up more than I did to back up what I was talking.

In my Christian walk it was the same thing. I could fool you by doing the things that “good” Christian do. I wouldn’t go to too many parties. I would make sure that I didn’t swear. I would have regular attendance at church. I had an appearance that I was doing the “right” thing but my heart was far from God. Behind closed doors I was still doing my own thing. I wasn’t truly submitting my life to Lordship of Jesus. I was still doing it my way and trying to add Jesus to my life. I advertised that I was healthy but my true content was toxic.

How many of us can say the same thing? We all have and still do the same thing. It’s so easy to fool others into thinking that what we advertise is what we really are. I will tell you this: God is more concerned about who you really are. He’s more concerned about our heart and our lives rather than what we are going to accomplish in this life. We mix it up so much. We think, subconsciously, that our lives are more defined by what we say rather than the way that we live. We say that we care for one another but we talk against one another. We say that we care for the poor but we walk by them everyday. We say that we love our jobs but we go into work complaining everyday. We say that we are “Christian” but we want to hold on to our old ways of living. We say that we have goals and going to accomplish this and that but we only work at it when people are watching. If the consumer really knew the product that you were selling, would they truly benefit?

I encourage you today, advertise less and work more on the product. Really work toward living a life that matters. Really look into the mirror and evaluate yourself and see whether what you say outweighs the way that you live. I’m going to do the same. Remember, it’s not about what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.

– Dante’