Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Come to the Well

So there is this band called Casting Crowns...if you haven't heard of them....go to your nearest Target or Wal-Mart or music store and buy every single album...it'll change your life. They are one of my favorite bands and honestly, out of the 5 albums that I own...I have not heard a song I didn't like. They consistently deliver beautiful gospel centered songs that really impact me each time I listen to them.

Anyway...Emily just got their newest CD: Come to the Well. She was letting me listen to it and there were two songs that really stuck out to me. There's been a lot of stuff going on in various aspects of my life lately, and it seems like a lot of people have been more concerned about their differences and are more passionate about what they are against than what they are for. It seems sometimes like the gospel takes a backseat when people try to point blame at each other. These two songs reminded me that it's not our differences that matter and if we let our differences cloud our judgement, we are causing others to stumble or doubt because we are not living the lives God has called us to live.  It's so easy to judge others because they are different....maybe they think differently or they live differently, but no matter the difference...God made us each unique and if we go around pointing fingers and blaming others...we're not living lives that point others to God. Such a great reminder.


City on a Hill
by Casting Crowns
Did you hear of the city on a hill?
Said one old man to the other
It once shined bright and it would be shining still
But they all started turning on each other

You see the poets thought the dancers were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak

And one by one they ran away
With their made up minds to leave it all behind
And the light began to fade in the city on a hill
The city on a hill

Each one thought that they knew better
But there were different by design
Instead of standing strong together
They let their differences divide

And one by one they ran away
With their made up minds to leave it all behind
And the light began to fade in the city on a hill
The city on a hill
And the world is searchin' still

But it was the rhythm of the dancers that gave the poets life
It was the spirit of the poets that gave the soldiers strength to fight
It was the fire of the young ones, it was the wisdom of the old
It was the story of the poor man that needed be told

It is the rhythm of the dancers that gives the poets life
It is the spirit of the poets that gives the soldiers strength to fight
It is the fire of the young ones, it is the wisdom of the old
It is the story of the poor man that's needing to be told

One by one, will we run away?
With our made up minds to leave it all behind
As the light begins to fade in the city on a hill?
One by one, will we run away?
With our made up minds to leave it all behind
As the light begins to fade in the city on a hill?
The city on a hill

Come home
And the Father's calling still
Come home
To the city on the hill
Come home

Jesus, Friend of Sinners
by Casting Crowns
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Yeah...

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
Yeah...
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Monday, May 28, 2012

To those who serve...

To those who serve, I can't thank you enough. There are no words in any language to convey the depth of appreciation, love and respect that I have for you. My daddy is one of you. He along with all of you, are the reason I'm alive and free today. Because you fought for this country...because you sacrificed...I have freedom. Many of you sacrificed your lives for this country...for my future. Even though I don't know you...you will never be forgotten. Never. It's because you gave up your tomorrow that I have mine. I will never forget that. I will never take a day for granted...Thank you. Please take the time to thank someone who served...not just today, but every day.
White Crosses
February, 2003 by Carolyn White

My knees sink deep in sodden turf
beside a white-washed cross,
as I wonder, all amazed
at your sacrifice and loss
Not just for me, young soldier, did you die,
but for a nation, to be whole and free -
Indeed, for all the world to see,
what freedom can do and be.
My heart’s in sorrow wrung
to gaze upon the crosses white
standing tall-both near and far
aglow with warmth and light
Strangers, we, you soldiers brave
I know not you-you know not me,
But in my mind, a boyish grin I see
and her, a shy and girlish gleam
To the “HEART” of each, no strangers, we
Brave and strong, their hearts did beat
within, this land of patriot dream
in pride, in love of home and family
But alas, to save this land, this sacred land
that we, in gratitude, may have,
you gave your life-eternal gift,
-- and now your cross here stands
Each cross a life, cut short at prime
your gift to keep us free
To follow dreams
we couldn’t have dreamed,
save for you, your lives,
now, a mist in time’s eternity
No words can ever “thank you” say
So we’ll do our best to honor you--
Through lives lived well in freedom’s land
Your loss-our gain, the honor yours, forever claimed
You’ve passed the torch on down to us
along with freedom’s, joyous cry
The torch, we’ll carry, you can trust
We’ll carry it, even if called to die
To the young ---to the old,
to each and all, a bell now tolls
that Freedom rings--it’s loud and clear
Listen--- and you will hear
Freedom rings, white crosses gleam
Oh say, can you see,
the waving flag unfurled
The sacred red,
the white, the blue
Old Glory, forever, reign supreme!




(A tribute to our soldiers in response to visiting Arlington Cemetery.
Overwelming emotion overtook me at seeing the price paid for our/my liberty
and freedom and I had to speak to the many who there lay.
God bless the many souls who gave their all. God Bless America! - a note from the author.)

Memorial Day


No, Freedom Isn't Free
©Copyright 1981 by CDR Kelly Strong, USCG (Ret).

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our God is In Control


Sometimes, you just need to know that God is in control. No matter what your day was like...sometimes it's just to remind yourself of this and find comfort in his arms.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When a life ends...

Hey everyone, just wanted to write and ask you to pray for our friend Janelle and her family. Last night, her younger brother Josh was killed in a head-on collision. Please pray for them as they grieve and pray that they would find comfort in knowing that even in this painful moment, God is in control.

It's really hard when things like this happen...no one goes untouched by the death of a friend or loved one, especially when it seems like their life is cut short. It is easy to struggle with this at times but it always comforts to know that God has our days numbered before we draw our first breath. Even in this tragedy, we have to know that God is still good and still sovereign. We'll miss Josh very much and our hearts break for this sweet family.

Thank you so much for your prayers.
Chelsey and Emily

Friday, May 18, 2012

Predestination

Predestination is often a topic of great controversy among the Christian community. Free will, the doctrine of election and God's Sovereignty...they are all points of dispute...mainly because they are not rightly understood. So what does the Bible say on these topics?

Lets start with the basics...if you are a Christian, how did you become one? You heard the gospel and turned from your sin right? Well why did you do it? Because you saw a need for a Savior? How did you see it? You were willing to see it? So were you more willing than others? This might sound a little confusing but if you think about it...you had nothing to do with your salvation. I know people are gonna hate me after this but I don't really care. The sovereign grace of God and his electing love are the reasons you became a Christian. You weren't more willing or more receptive and you more than likely didn't sit down one day apart from hearing the gospel (also God's sovereignty that you heard the gospel) and decide to become a Christian because it seemed logical. Not saying that it can't happen that way...but I'm 100% sure that the reason for the logical thoughts and the reason you sat down that day are because God was at work in you. I'm rambling and probably not making any sense, so I'm going to let Spurgeon and Packer say it better than I ever could:
When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul - when they were as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron; and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown all of a sudden from a babe into a man - that I had made progress in scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God ... I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, I ascribe my change wholly to God. - (Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, Banner of Truth, pp. 164-165).

The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Rom. 8:32). - J.I. Packer
Okay, so now that we've got that covered...the Bible DOES teach election cover to cover. It would be hermeneutical gymnastics to say that it doesn't.

Lets start with God's sovereignty(his will, plan, rule...etc):

Acts 4 speaks of God's rule...he is the ultimate ruler of all things and he is independent from his creation. He is in charge of nature, nations, history and every little detail.
Job 12 speaks on his sovereignty over the nations "He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and leads them away"
Proverbs 21 and Job 12 both speak of the work of God's hands...everything is in his hands and his hands cause everything.
Acts 17:22-31 makes it obvious that God determines all things.
Isaiah 45:1-25 is the Lord speaking directly to us and saying that it is He who causes and forms and creates and destroys all things in his timing.
Matthew 6 tells us that God takes care of everything that birds need which makes it obvious that he provides and cares for every minuscule need of ours because aren't we more important to him than birds?
Proverbs 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." - meaning that it's not fate, it's not our choice, it's not the roll of the dice...every decision is wholly from the Lord.
Acts 2:23 "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." - Jesus was delivered up according to plan...it was all apart of God's plan for us.
Isaiah 53:10 "Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief" - The Lord's WILL, desire, plan...
Psalm 139 (especially verse 16: Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.) - his book...he didn't just plan it out, he wrote it down...
Psalm 16 "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot" - he assigned to you what your life holds.
Jeremiah 1:4-5 "Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”" - He chose you and appointed you to a specific life.
Proverbs 16:9 "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps" God directs and lays out every single step of our lives.
Daniel 4 tells us that everything is God's dominion and God's will.
Ephesians 1:11 "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" - everything...all things are only according to His will.

The Bible says that God is sovereign repeatedly throughout. This is just a small sampling...every word in the Bible points to the sovereignty of God.

Alright, so we've covered that God is sovereign over all things and nothing happens outside of his will...nothing...not a hurricane or a tornado or a tsunami or a war or the fact that you ate a sandwich for lunch today...everything is according to his plan down to the tiniest detail.

Well...what about salvation? We've kind of come full circle now...back to how did you become a Christian...was that your choice or God's? Were you just willing or were you one of God's elect? Let's check out Romans 8:29-30:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Okay, we're going to go through this backwards...bear with me.

Glorified: perfected before the Lord.
before that...
Justified: conversion - God forgives us.
before even that moment, God already was at work in you...before you knew.

Notice the words foreknew, predestined, and called. Do you know what they mean?

Foreknew: Most people think it is God's foreknowledge...that he knew beforehand. BUT this is not right at all. To say that God knew beforehand implies that he is passively observing everything...this is not the case at all. In the Greek...the word they use means initiative, activity, relational. Foreknew is the active working of God whereby he sets his affection and in that way knows them. It is personal...he is aware of you and he loved you beforehand. There's a difference between knowing and KNOWING. God isn't just mentally aware of you...he distinctly and intentionally placed his affection on you apart from anything you ever did or ever could do.

Predestined and called kind of go hand in hand. Predestined is election. Predestination means that he chooses. It is an eternal choice based on his will and not on anything we do. The ultimately decisive factor is the grace of God...solely...nothing else.

A lot of people don't believe in predestination and the doctrine of election. They don't believe that the Bible teaches this or that a loving God wouldn't have every single person come into the kingdom of Heaven. Let's look at a few passages of scripture.
Ephesians 1:3-11 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 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. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
Romans 9:10-16 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Matthew 11:27  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious. 
I think it's pretty clear that it has nothing to do with us...nothing we did saved us...it's God's saving grace and unconditional election. God goes after people who are not after him...think about it, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul...none of them were actively trying to be saved...in fact they were all running the opposite direction.

So now we come to the point where you're probably thinking "well election isn't fair...what if someone wants to be saved but isn't God's elect...it's not fair at all that he gets to choose." Well just to put it in my own terms...no one runs hard after God apart from his saving grace.
Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
In essence...it's not up to us. God gets to choose because he is God...if no other reason.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God is not accountable to us. He doesn't owe us anything. Remember what Packer said earlier?
God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Rom. 8:32). - J.I. Packer
Some get justice, some get mercy. The wonder isn't that he chooses some, it's that he chooses any. I can't say it any better than Mark Webb...this is one of my favorite quotes/explanations of the doctrine of election and I think it definitely helps put things into perspective.
“After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, ‘This is the most awful thing I ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.’ I answered her in this vein: ‘You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but you, etc.’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction toward hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams.’ That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.” –Mark Webb
Election keeps no one out of heaven who would have otherwise been there. We are dead in sin and cannot come to God apart from him reaching out, giving us life and saving us.

So...what about free will? Yes...you have it...BUT no one is autonomous. Free will is the ability to choose according to our desires...we have the free will to choose what we desire most. We freely do this all the time. You had the free choice where you sat today, the free will to give your wallet to someone who is pointing a gun at your head...etc. We are free to choose God and come to Christ if we desire to...BUT because of our spiritual deadness, we will never desire him...we won't choose him because we won't choose what we don't desire. Every moment of the day, you freely say no to God until someone changes your desires, enabling you to freely choose God...freely desiring to do so. He does something. God takes the initiative and goes after your heart. No one comes to God on their own and is turned away. God changes your heart...he does the work.

So how dead are you really?
Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
He gives us a new heart...John 3 tells us we must be born again.
Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.
GOD made us alive...we cannot make ourselves alive. Dead people rot, they don't make anyone alive. Why did he make us alive? I have no idea...because He is God and in love he set his affections on us before time began. Consider how you came to Christ...before you went after him, he came after you...he tracked you down.
"The Spirit recreates the human heart, quickening it from spiritual death to spiritual life. Regenerate people are new creations. Where formerly they had no disposition, inclination, or desire for the things of God, now they are disposed and inclined toward God.In regeneration, God plants a desire for himself in the human heart that otherwise would not be there." - R.C. Sproul
Did you create a desire or did he change your heart?

So, we've covered all of this and I'm sure if you are anything like me when I first heard all this, your brain is smoking and starting to leak out of your ears. We've talked about doctrine and the how and the why but there's still a few questions you have...maybe why doesn't God choose everyone? What about John 3:16? - Well, in response...let me ask you something...What does God love most? He loves the world for sure...but he loves his glory more. He loves me because he loves his glory. There are those who will exalt the glory of God and others who won't.

The Bible presents this:
  • as a matter of praise not a debate...it's a matter of wonder and praise
  • as a matter of comfort...to those in Christ, he chose you - you were his before the world began
  • by making it a motivation for mission - to go and preach the gospel...we don't know who the elect are so we need to go!
Also seek comfort in the fact that you cannot change people...God is the only one who can change a person's heart and give them a desire for himself. It's also a comfort that we don't have to get life right before coming to Christ...Christ got his life right for you. Just share the gospel...God will take care of the rest.
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Paul endured more than most of us could even imagine...all for the sake of sharing the gospel. None of it was in vain because God is at work. The gospel is unstoppable and God's plans will not be thwarted.

So, your brain is about to explode...what are you supposed to do with all this information? How in the world can you apply all this knowledge and doctrine to your life?
  1. Make it a matter of ceaseless praise if you are a Christian.
  2. Take great comfort in your God
  3. Preach like you've never preached before.
That's it...that's all I've got for you. I hope this was helpful and maybe cleared up a few things for you. If you have questions, feel free to contact us or your local pastor. There are also plenty of resources out there...chapters 16 and 32 of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem would be extremely helpful to read. After all this, there's only a few things to do, praise God, take comfort in him and go preach the word.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flash of Light

Lightning: A flash of light in the sky caused by an electrical discharge between clouds or between a cloud and the Earth's surface. The flash heats the air and usually causes thunder. Lightning may appear as a jagged streak, as a bright sheet, or in rare cases, as a glowing red ball.


I don't know if you are anything like me or not but typically I don't give lightning a second thought...if I do it's probably something like "crap it's going to rain" or "I should really get inside before it hits one of the bazillion trees in my yard" or something like that. I don't think about it much to say the least.


Anyway, I was driving home from a church meeting tonight and was just blown away...there was a spectacular display of lightning out there tonight. It just really struck me tonight how something as simple as an electrical discharge between clouds and earth screams out the praise of God. It was just a wonderful reminder of how awesome our God is.


I don't really even know what I'm trying to say except our God is great and it doesn't take much to realize it. Everything from the freckles on your shoulders and the blue of your eyes (or green or brown or hazel) to the simplicity and complexity of nature, it's all God's handiwork and every moment of our day we should be so amazed and in awe of him that we can't help but praise him.


Take some time just to marvel at what he has done...from the perfect strokes of the colors at sunset to the flash of lightening to the roll of thunder to the way a flower blooms...the beauty of nature on your drive to work or the sounds of it in the morning when you wake up...the sounds of children playing or an awesome worship CD...realize that everything in your life has been touched by the hand of God. That thought alone is enough to brighten my day and refocus me when I get frustrated with work or scheduling. Take time. Remember who he is.


All this from lightning...who knew?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Live Like That

“Live Like That” by Sidewalk prophets is a song that has really stuck with me and become a sort of running theme in my life since it was released months ago. Maybe that’s because it continues the themes of both Passion and Rekindle or maybe it’s just something God has really been trying to drill into my head during this season of my life; either way, the challenge expressed in these lyrics is both powerfully convicting and incredibly inspiring for me, and I hope it at least makes you take a minute to stop and consider what David Frey (Sidewalk Prophets’ lead vocalist) is saying here.

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that
I don’t know about you, but the lines that most stand out to me are the questions that he’s asking of him. He’s examining his own Christian walk, which is cool for two reasons in my opinion. One, it’s always good to remember to keep our pride in check and make sure we’re continuously living what we say we believe, as opposed to letting or lip service suffice. And two, I like that his challenge is directed toward himself instead of questioning the listener. This way, the audience isn’t a defensive posture and immediately turned off. It’s as if by challenging himself, he’s opening the door for the audience to do the same in their own lives.

So, I guess what I really want to do is go through the lyrics (mainly the questions expressed) and try to convey what’s in my heart to you guys when I hear this song.

“What will people say of me when I’m only just a memory, when I’m hope where my soul belongs?”

What is going to be my most enduring/endearing quality when I’m seventy-three and a half years old? Or better yet, what is going to be the thing that is most mentioned at my funeral? It should be the most important things about me, the things I dedicated my life to, right?

The sad truth is that most people live and die without moving anything more than the dirt it takes to bury them. I don't want the highlights of my life to be meaningless partying or hanging out, doing nothing when there's so much more I could be doing with the 50+ years that I have left on this planet.
As a Christian, my relationship with God and the advancement of the gospel should be the defining aspects of my life. What I do for God, the gospel, and my community now and throughout my life should be the things that people are left talking about after I’m gone, because those are the things that are important and lasting in such a temporal world.

“Was I love when no one else would show up? Was I Jesus to the least of us?”

I drive through downtown Charlotte almost every day on my way to work, and if you don't know, Charlotte has a decent sized homeless/runaway population that can be easily seen lining the streets. The problem is that I'll find myself avoiding acknowledgement, adjusting the radio or organizing the junk in the passenger's seat when I'm stopped at countless red lights, pretending I don't see the neediness in the faces in the crowds, ignoring "the least of us".

And it isn't just the overtly needy that are so overlooked. It's the quiet guy sitting in the back of my classroom, it's the girl I might walk past every week who is just one broken relationship away from either falling apart or embracing hope. I attend a college ministry that meets on a campus of over 22500 students, or to put a gospel spin on it, 22500 immortal souls that are going to spend eternity somewhere (to quote my pastor). I imagine there are many missed opportunities to love and share the gospel every day.
So why do I constantly let the opportunities go by? It's as simple and as tragic as dismissing the hurting because I assume that someone else will help. I wait for someone else to do what God's telling me to do. And if I'm being honest with myself, this is a sin issue that I need a lot of work and correction in.
"Was my worship more than just a song?"
In other words, am I really thinking about the lyrics behind the worship songs that I sing on a Sunday morning or a Thursday night or has it just become as routine for me as getting dressed in the morning? I don't want my worship to be absent-minded lip service when it should be about praising the king of the universe.
And I'll take it a step further and say that worship isn't just singing songs on Sundays. Worship is my daily quiet time, my prayer life, my conversations with other people. The way I live my life should be an expression of my worship to God and I don't want to be apathetic about it. My desire is to live a purpose-driven life for God.
"Am I proof that you are who you say you are, that grace can really change a heart? Do I live like your love is true?"
2 Corinthians 6:3 says "We (speaking of Christians) put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited".
As a Christian, my life should reflect the love that He showed us. God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us. We cannot forget that he is a wrathful God who hates sin and must punish it...but as Christians, we are called to love the way he did. Love should be the watermark of every Christian's life. Do I love enough to lay down my life?  
I need to be the proof that God is loving by showing love to other people. And I need to be proof that grace can change people's angry, bitter, ugly hearts by being completely open with how mine has been changed. I should be a walking, talking billboard for God's love and grace, but do I really live that way? If I look just like the world, my ministry has no merit and if I'm discredited, the gospel that I'm supposed to be representing is discredited.
"People pass, and even if they don't know my name, is there evidence that I've been changed?"
 It's funny how you don't notice your life really changing day to day, but when you look back, you can see this huge difference in who you are, or when you always have that one relative every holiday that says "Oh, look how much you've grown!" and it makes you wonder how other people see you (people you see every day, people you've lost touch with, random strangers).
I just got a job at a soda shop and I've been a little overwhelmed that people somehow notice a difference in me and automatically ask if it's because I'm a Christian. And this was before they even knew who I was!
Living a life of obvious, radical discipleship is something that I've been really challenged to pursue this year, and to see fruits of that is seriously inspiring me to keep growing and being open in my relationship with God to the advancement of the gospel. I've never been more excited about anything. If I could encourage you guys in anything, it would be to pursue a relationship with God wholeheartedly, so that it projects the light of Christ into the world.
Even if people don't know who we are, there should be evidence of God's grace and authority in our lives.
"When they see me, do they see you?"
Again, as a Christian, I am to always rightly reflects God. My purpose is to point people to Him. When people see me, they should see Christ and it should be obvious. This is probably the lyric that makes me truly stop and think every time I hear this song. When I do sing it, I sing it like a prayer question to God and as a challenge to myself. It might just be one of the most important things to ask ourselves daily, "When people (random strangers, the cashier at the gas station, the family I'm serving in the restaurant, the youth kids at church, etc.), when they see me, do they see God reflected in how I'm interacting with other, in my modesty of what I wear, in my temperament.
"I want to live like that and give it all I have, so that everything I say and do points to you.
If love is who I am, then this is where I'll stand, recklessly abandoned, never holding back. "
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation".
If I am now to be characterized by Christ's love, instead of the worldly identity I had before, I need to be passionate about living like it. It's about taking an enduring stand for Christ, no matter what, not just making a one-time, spur of the moment decision. I need to stop holding back and toning down my Christian walk. Sometimes that can be as simple as not turning down my car radio so that nobody knows I'm listening to Christian music, or it can be as radical as signing up for overseas mission trip in places I know to be notoriously bad for persecuting Christians.
I want to live in a way that brings the most glory to God, regardless of what I might have to sacrifice (since any "sacrifice" I could make would pale in comparison to Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the cross, let's be honest). I want to be radically on fire for Christ and use my life for eternal significance.
"I want to live like that."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Emily!!!!

Happy 22nd Birthday Emily!!!!!!!

 (photo by Jamal Byrd)

(photo by Jenny Veleke) (L-R: Ross, Amber, Emily, Gracie)

(photo by Tim Queivryn)

It has been such a joy to get to know you over the last 4 years! You constantly make me laugh and forever challenge me. It's been fun rooming with you (all the late night conversations and hyper-tired-ness) and now writing with you. It's been so cool to see you grow in your faith and to see the fire burning more and more brightly every day. Love you!!

colemans in love.: {help save a baby isaac: calling all med students!...


Hey everyone! I don't know if you've been following the Coleman's story or not but I highly recommend that you check it out. Baby Isaac is probably the cutest thing ever and he needs your help! Mindy just posted about a way that we can help raise awareness about Fanconi Anemia and help fund research to save people with this blood disorder. Please check it out....especially if you are a med student! colemans in love.: {help save a baby isaac: calling all med students!... Help us spread the word to find a cure!