The Next Generation

“That the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:6-7).

The next generation is the heartbeat of a nation

The lifeblood that flows to all its extremities

They are the ones that will protect the core values

We have laid the foundation for them to stand

Have we done it well

Have we given them some solid ground to make a house

Our lives pale in comparison to theirs

What have we given up to make them great

Will we have faith in them to carry the torch

It only takes one generation for a nation to fall,

For values to be lost,

For hope to be forgotten

We have a responsibility to the next wave of citizens

It must shape our decisions

Learn your ancestors well

Inquire of the long remembered heroes

Teach your children well

Instruct a child diligently

Live well

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That I May Know Him (Philippians 3:10)

“That I may know Him.” (Philippians 3:10)

I pray that one day I may have a faith in Christ like Paul did. His writings provide so much encouragement, so much inspiration to be what God has called me to be. He preached a message of surrender and sacrifice while also emphasizing a furious fight for what is good. Surrendering and fighting sound counter-intuitive, but Paul taught both. He preached the message of Christ and knowing Him. We must surrender to Christ to be able to access the full power of His grace in order to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). It is an active surrender into the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ that enables us to act according to His will.

It may sound spiritual and lofty that surrendering enables you to fight more furiously, but it can make sense in the practical everyday life. When a person surrenders to someone or a cause, they are not cowering back in fear, but engaging people with a humility found in love. When you are willing to surrender what you want to do for what you need to do, then you become dangerously close to accomplishing whatever mission you are on. Do what you need to do to get to where you want to go. Not out of obligation, but because you understand the bigger picture. Base every decision on a life philosophy. Every decision you make matters. The seemingly insignificant decisions become significantly powerful when repeated consistently over time. Surrender whatever you have to in order to know Christ as completely and clearly as you can.

Five words from Philippians provide so much insight into the purpose for life, “That I may know Him.” Oswald Chambers said it well, “I am not here for self-realization, but to know Jesus Christ.” Self-realization is not the goal, nor the path to self-improvement. Tim Keller offered valuable insight when he said, “The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” We see ourselves most clearly at the feet of Jesus.

Find yourself at the foot of the cross. This is why James can say with confidence, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Feeling satisfied and being fulfilled are not evil desires. A desire to be happy and loved might be a powerful motivator, but it must not be the end goal. Satan uses this desire to drive us into sinful actions that will result in temporary happiness that fades away. The goal must be to know Christ better, and the effect will be a more full life. Focus on Christ, and you will be ultimately joyful. It would be rather difficult to diligently read, study, and meditate on Jesus’ actions and principles and live an unfulfilled, joyless, hopeless, and loveless life. Jesus loved everyone unconditionally, He gave people hope for a future, and He was full of joy in all circumstances. Pursue Jesus Christ and don’t look back.

References:

http://www.esvbible.org/Philippians%203/

http://www.esvbible.org/1%20Timothy%206/

http://utmost.org/the-spiritually-vigorous-saint/

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/699892-the-essence-of-gospel-humility-is-not-thinking-more-of-myself

http://www.esvbible.org/James%201/

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Force of Grace

God’s grace is incomprehensible. The depths to which He can forgive know no bounds thanks to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ on the cross. I hear God say, “I forgive you my son.” I find His words in scripture to say, “You are my Son” (Psalm 2:7). I feel His grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness in the times of deepest need for it.

“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our tresspasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

His grace has force and power beyond reality. This video captures the force of His grace:

This thing that is
but we often cannot see.
Too close for us to see the magnitude,
the glory of this structure.
We often see the detail
But not the stretching, sweeping scale of the thing.
It wraps us up.
Holds us.
So we consider it gentle. Warm. Kind.
We do not see, though, the violent nature.
The wrath and hate for the converse: our sin.
We do not see the scale.
We touch what is visible through our tunnel eyes and say “grace.”
But we see only a fragment of the grand, scandalous tapestry
That God has woven together over time.
The fabric of the world itself.
The very reason the stars are strung together.
When we choose to put one foot in front of the next, it’s grace.
This gracious glory buried within us,
Beating on our ribs to speak of his wonder.
With this touch, life is given.
The giver’s love is this cloak.
This sea of blue green forgetfulness. This face of majesty.
The crackling, roaring thunder.
Grace, his sound.
Glory, his bright display.
Breaks and creates. And finds us. And we’re found.
The split curtain. The opened back.
The mingling blood and water.
The flood that destroys the world we’ve built.
All the earth submitting to his power.
The Cross.
Grace wrapped in triumphant glory.
He is the eyes-shut embrace. The driving rain.
The wind blows, but only at his word.
And this same fury, this sin-thrashing storm,
Is the tempest that bows to wash our feet.
And this same fury, this sin-thrashing storm,
Is the tempest that bows to wash our feet.

References: http://vimeo.com/91498915

http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm%202/

http://www.esvbible.org/Ephesians%202/

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Beauty in Brokenness

Beauty in Brokenness

What is first noticeable about this photograph? Is it the broken fence or is it the beautiful sunset in the background. You cannot ignore the broken fence in the foreground, but the sunset is hard to miss in the background. What do you focus on?

In our lives, we tend to focus on the fence. We draw into sorrow and brokenness and don’t let go of the hurt and pain it has inflicted. Often times, there is a sunset on the horizon, but we must look through the revealing lenses of our sorrow into the lessons it can teach us. Sorrow is inevitable and trying to avoid it would be futile. Running from anything that might cause us to feel sorrow or experience tragedy will result in a life of fear and regret.

Sorrow can actually be very life altering in a good way. Sorrow is like a fire in our souls that can kill us or refine us. Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost for His Highest, says, “The way to find your self is in the fires of sorrow.” Jesus actually said it better when faced with the upcoming pain of the cross, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.’” He understood the bigger picture and did not focus on the upcoming sorrow, but the glory to be revealed. He was motivated by love, convicted by His purpose, and focused on finding Himself in the fires of His sorrow. Isaiah 53 and Philippians 2 reveal how much Jesus suffered, but with a clear purpose in mind. He is now high and lifted up, seated at the right hand of the Father, given the name above all names, the LORD of lords and the King of kings. Jesus Christ my Savior and Redeemer, my hope and everlasting love, my friend.

“If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment to other people.” (Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest)

References: http://utmost.org/receiving-yourself-in-the-fires-of-sorrow/

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In Love (Ephesians 1:5-6)

“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5-6 ESV)

These verses are so packed with encouragement, love, and grace. First of all, Paul, the author of Ephesians, starts by saying the root of God’s action is found ‘in love.’ There is no other way in which God operates towards us other than love. He is rooted and grounded in love as a part of his nature, and we should operate in the same way towards others. We have a testimony from God to share with the world, one of love. This love between Christians is how the world will see how we are different.

Then comes the encouragement. We are predestined for adoption into the family of God. This is cause for rejoicing and praise. Paul also reveals how we are to obtain adoption. It is not free, but was paid for with a price by Jesus Christ dying on the cross for the sins of the world and raising to life, conquering the grave three days later. Believe in this sacrifice, find hope and comfort in this love, anchor the weight of your soul upon this truth. For by it, we have a heavenly citizenship that cannot be taken. We are safe and secure in the warm embrace of a loving Father.

Love is the foundation, but God’s will is the driving force. He has a purpose in everything that he does. He has a plan that is higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His will causes his plan to come into action through those willing to fight for the cause. Jesus gave his disciples this principle, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). As adopted sons and daughters of the King of the world, we are called to a higher purpose in accordance with God’s will.

These two last phrases coincide with one another. They are all about God’s ‘glorious grace’ which we must not forget to praise God for daily. Love is the foundation, his will is the driving force, and his grace is the agent in which he blesses each one of us. We do not deserve God’s grace, yet he willingly pours it out on our lives over and over again. His grace deserves our praise, and when we praise him we receive the blessing of his grace. It is cyclical and weaved into the very nature of our being. Praise and blessing, praise and blessing. Finally, Paul reiterates the foundation of love by calling us the ‘Beloved.’ It starts and ends will love. If nothing else love God and love people well.

http://www.esvbible.org/Ephesians+1/

http://www.esvbible.org/Isaiah+55/

http://www.esvbible.org/Matthew+9/

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My Sufficient Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There is no statement in the bible that I have found to be more freeing than this one. I have titled this blog “My Sufficient Grace” because of the power this verse has in my life. I will repeat this short sentence over and over again in my head to comfort my soul and bring my mind to ease. When I can’t sleep, I repeat this until I can drift into a quiet restful place. It is astounding and almost offensive that in our weakness, we are actually stronger than we could ever be. Knowing that God’s strength will be imparted to me in the right time is so comforting.

When I think of grace my mind directly diverts to Jesus. The Gospel of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross is the ultimate manifestation of grace. When God says “my grace is sufficient for you” the impact of this statement is to reflect upon what Jesus did on the cross to rid us from sin and all unrighteousness. When we have received salvation through Jesus Christ all that we need is found in Christ. Our part becomes falling in love with Jesus as He loves us. Our responsibility is to kneel at his feet and soak up the sufficiency of his grace. There is nothing else in this world that matters other than Jesus Christ and him crucified. Paul said it best, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

I divert back to Tullian Tchividjian’s statement of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” often because of the truth it represents and the biblical foundation for it. I’m a huge basketball fan and have played all my life. There is a commercial with Derrick Rose for Adidas where he begins a monologue while snapshots of him practicing in the gym and playing the game he loves flash across the screen. I’m paraphrasing, but he states, “If I lost all the money, the fame, the possessions, what would I have left…..Everything.” His point is that he does it for the love of the game and he has everything he wants and needs when he steps on the court. Every time I see this commercial I think of the same concept in regard to my spirituality. If I lost everything, I would still have Jesus and His sufficient grace. No one can take that away from me. In trying times, I do my best to remember this verse and stay the course. I know that ultimately I have everything that I need in Jesus Christ my LORD to the glory of God the Father.

References:

http://www.esvbible.org/2+Corinthians+12/

http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+2/

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Fight for It (1 Timothy 6:12)

“Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12)

This verse has defined my spiritual walk for the past five years. I came into college naïve as to what the world was really about. I realized more and more the corruption that surrounded me, but also saw how ever faithful the grace of God can be. It became a fight to cling to what I was taught from such a young age. I graduated from college and entered the working world. The transition brought me even more into a fight for which I was not prepared. I have fallen, I have sinned, and I have been brought to the lowest point.

Nevertheless, there is a fight to be fought and spiritual warfare is all around us. I see this life as a constant struggle joyfully accepting the challenge that lies ahead. Christ is our supreme example “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). I would not dare to compare myself to Jesus, nor my struggles to his own. On the other hand, a trustworthy saying I addressed in another post says, “If we have died with him, then we will also live with him” (2 Timothy 2:11). Therefore, my “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). I hope we both can see the paramount precision the Scripture uses to enrich our understanding of life and godliness.

Life is not easy. Part of what I am realizing is that if you truly desire something you will fight for it. The only issue lies in the object of our desire. What do we truly want? If our desire is in line with God’s will, then the fight becomes a worthy cause. So the question then becomes what are you fighting for? Then you can truly see if you are in line with God’s will for your life. This is not an end all be all for determining if you are operating in the will of God, but it could be a good start.

I wrote this poem a while back at the height of my struggle. It is my best attempt at poetry, and I hope it can encourage some. It is spiritual in nature because I see the everyday battle more in the spiritual than in the physical, emotional, or mental aspects of life.

“The Beginning and the End”

The fight has begun

We battle on

We wage war

The world is not ready

Our Spirits unite in love

Care for the fellow man

Driven by action

Driven to death

Saved by sacrifice

The battle rages on

We will not quit

We cannot fail

The wind behind us

The swiftly beating heart

No more pain

The fight has begun

 

References:

http://www.esvbible.org/1+Timothy+6/

http://www.esvbible.org/Hebrews+12/

http://www.esvbible.org/2+Timothy+2/

http://www.esvbible.org/Colossians+3/

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