What Would You Do

I think one of the funniest commercials I have seen has to be the older Klondike ice cream commercials that asks the question of: “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

But that has gotten me thinking this week about that question…only in a different light.

I have started thinking about the question of, “What would you do for Jesus?”

I think that is a question that many of us need to ask ourselves when it comes to our walk as Christians. Too many times we seem to want to ask the question of what would Jesus do for me? That question has already been answered by looking at Scripture and realizing that Jesus died for your sins as he did all who will trust and believe.

Get involved in the church and seize each chance you get to share the Gospel with someone so that they can come to know the hope that you have that can only come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and getting to know who it is that saved you from the sinful nature that can dominate your life.

Today we have to make sure that we are not to eager to be what this world wants us to be. We have to be on our guard for the ways of the world and allow the Lord to do his work in us.

Open the Word and let the Lord tell you what He wants for you today. He is always speaking to us through His Word but it is up to us to make sure that we are looking for it. Pray today that God will reveal something to you each time you read and put your full trust in Him.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3-5 ESV)

Letter to the Graduates: Remember Your Chains

As we approach that time of year again, a song that I remember hearing growing up continues to echo in my mind.  The song is “Remember Your Chains” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  This song has absolutely nothing to do with graduation, but as it has played over and over in my head I realize that it can be applied to each of our lives as we look to turn the pages to a new chapter in our lives.

The song deals with remembering the prison of sin prior to our salvation.  Remembering the chains of bondage that held you down and kept you from moving forward, but also remembering that those chains are now gone…you have freedom. The hook of the song says:

“Remember your chains, remember the prison that once held you before the love of God broke through; remember the place you were without grace, when you see where you are now, remember your chains and remember your chains are gone.”

What a great message for us today no matter what we pursue in our lives…remember where you came from and remember that you are no longer that person.  You are no longer held by the chains of your past…you have freedom.  The message goes even deeper in the second verse of the song with the lyrics:

“There’s no one more thankful to sit at the table than the one who best remembers hunger’s pain; and no heart loves greater than the one that is able to recall the time when all it knew was shame. The wings of forgiveness can take us to heights never seen, but the wisest ones, they will never lose sight of where they were set free…love set them free”

This message is the one I want to convey to the graduates, but also to us all as we pursue a life of happiness and contentment…No one is more thankful than one who works to achieve a goal.  Letting go of our past and moving forward in forgiveness for others, but also for ourselves…God forgives, and our past is our past…mistakes we may have made only make us more thankful for the future and the things we now have.  Life may not always go our way, but little experiences will always help us to see the beauty of the moment we are in.

Today, as you look to the future, remember the past.  Remember where you were set free…remember the work that you had to put in to accomplish this moment…the long hours, the long roads, the lessons learned and the love…the love of others, your family and friends.  I urge you today, do not lose sight of all the work that got you to where you are today…and go with God…

Allow God to work in your life today, submit to his ways and allow Him to lead your steps. Seek him for clarity in the path that you feel led to take, and at the end of the day…Remember your chains and remember that your chains are gone.  Nothing is holding you back from becoming who God wants you to be, the chains are broken and the world is awaiting.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your steps.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Wanted: A Few Good Men (and Women)

I think back to the early 1900s and what is likely the most famous poster to ever be printed in the United States.  The poster depicts “Uncle Sam” stating, “I want You for the U.S. Army”.

Uncle Sam became somewhat of shorthand for the United States in the early 1800s when someone coined the phrase while loading barrels of food that were stamped with “U.S.”  The joke was that it stood for Uncle Sam, and it became a nickname for the Nation’s Government.

In 1917 when the country was getting ready to enter World War I, James Montgomery Flagg depicted ‘Uncle Sam’ as an older, serious looking gentleman, wearing clothing that resembles the American Flag.  Flagg was well known as a propaganda artist, with the Uncle Sam poster being his most famous work.

From 1917-1918 more than four million posters were printed for use to try and entice men into military service.  But the focal point for me comes in the statement, “I want you for the US Army”.

Truth is, the government needed help with the military; and I envision the Church of today being in the same boat as the Government was in the early 1900s; in need of a few good men and women to serve.

God can use each of us to bring others to Him.  That means you and I have a purpose to go out and serve, much like the men and women in the military.  The Armed Services are in place to help protect our country and provide well-being.  The Church is in place to do the same when it comes to the spiritual well-being of those around us, this is where God, “Wants you for His Army!”

Are you willing to give yourself for service?  Are you open to reporting for duty?

It may take some sacrifice on your part, but the sacrifice that was made for you on the Cross of Calvary is more than worth the time that we are asked to put in to furthering the Kingdom of God.

God is speaking to each of us today, asking us to join His army and fight the battle against evil and sin.  He is asking each of us not only to join the Army, but to be recruiters as well.  We are the poster for the Kingdom of God; we are the bearers of the message; and the message: “I Want You for God’s Army!”

Be the example, live the example, and bring others to know the love the God has for them.  Today is your day to shine!  Start recruiting today!

Life…Filtered

Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram…

All of these apps for our smartphones have become a way for folks to put aside the reality of life and almost put on an alternate reality in many cases…

Before you get mad, let me explain. It all has to do with filters.

Each of these has a way to alter reality and make it more appealing to our audience…we can change the lighting of a landscape, we can remove blemishes from our faces and add a dog face if we so desire.

What it comes down to is that we can take what we feel is ugly and turn it into something that we think people will be drawn to…something that they will talk about…but are we being real? Or simply just trying to mask the ugliness of life?

We tend to try and do this with sin as well…we see the ugliness in our lives and we try to cover it up by “filtering” it.  We try to cover it with a story of how it’s ok for us to do this or that because “God wants us to be happy,” or “God didn’t design us to be boring.” But the truth is, he does want us to be happy, but not by covering up the world and hiding who we really are.  In fact, the best filter that we can put on is Christ.

Jesus is like a permanent Snapchat beauty filter. He removes the blemishes from our lives, takes away the dark and the sin and leaves us beautiful before God.  He has smoothed out our wrinkles and made us look brand new because of his sacrifice.  Stop trying to find things to cover your sin and allow the blood of Christ to wash them away.

Live life unfiltered by the world so that the savior can work with the beauty that is the real you…allow him to be your filter….there is nothing more beautiful than when others can see Christ in you.

What is your Goal?

Goals…we all have them, we set them daily. We strive to make things better by setting goals that we think we can attain.  Whether it is a goal to be married by a certain age, to have a certain number of kids, or even a career goal that we set out to achieve, many of us have a goal for where we would like to finish up in an area of our lives.

I’ve noticed recently, however, that when it comes to our Christian walk we have set goals that seem to get us off point when trying to move forward. Bear with me for a moment and I will explain, but I feel we need to be quite careful when setting ourselves goals in this area.

Let’s take a look at some goals that we may have:

“My goal is to get to heaven.”

“I have a goal to keep myself out of hell.”

“I want to be the best person I can be in this life.” Or maybe, “I want to be known as a good person.”

And while all of those are well and good, they miss the point of what our Christian life should look like.  Heaven is not a goal we should strive to attain…Heaven is a reward for living the life that we have been called to live.  Living just to stay out of Hell will certainly send you there if your focus is solely on that.  Being a good person doesn’t accomplish the goals that God has for us in life.

If these are your goals, you’re missing the point.  Our lone goal should be to establish a relationship with our Creator…to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who thought that we were worth dying for…even when we weren’t worth dying for.

Romans 5:8 says, “God showed His love for us in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

While we were yet sinners…he didn’t wait until we got it right to die for us, and he doesn’t want us to wait until we accomplish our goals of getting it right before we accept his gift. Set a goal today to accept his sacrifice in your life….if your journey is based on getting to heaven you’re missing the road to get there.  Jesus said there is only one way to God and that is through him.  He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and the only way to get to heaven, stay out of hell, and become a good person in this world is to die to ourselves and develop a personal relationship with him by allowing the Holy Spirit to take hold of our hearts.

So…what is your goal today?

Being Still and Just Knowing

Silence and Rest…

It is something I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about because life can get very overwhelming at times.

One of the things that came to mind is the importance of silence in our lives. As a coach, I often encourage athletes to relax and take a few moments to quiet themselves and just focus on the upcoming game or event, sometimes encouraging them to separate themselves from others so that they can truly focus without distraction.

I have found that many times in life we tend to need moments like that as well; times where we just get away from the noise and focus. How many times have you found yourself longing to get away from all the distractions of life and just be alone with your thoughts? Maybe you have tried to separate yourself to accomplish a task with no interruptions…maybe you just wanted the peace and quiet that you can’t seem to get with the hustle and bustle going on around you.

Whatever it is, I believe it is a natural feeling to find solitude at times. God created this world and took a day to rest and enjoy what He had created…we need those times to get away and enjoy His creation as well.

I firmly believe that times of quiet are vital to our relationship with God.  I don’t mean the “Quiet Times” that we were told about in Youth Group growing up, where you pull out a devotional in the middle of a busy restaurant or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office…I mean times where you actually pull away from everything and practice what Psalm 46:10 says…a time to “be still, and know that I am God.”

How do I know that these moments are important to us? Jesus even told his disciples to get away from all the distraction to reflect on what they had seen and experienced.  Mark 6:30-32 gives us this insight that Jesus finally told his disciples to come away with him by themselves “to a quiet place and get some rest. (v. 31)”

Get away with God today…separate yourself from the paperwork, from the noise, from the errands and the running around.  Hop in the car, turn down the radio, and drive to a spot that is secluded…remove yourself from the noise and find a quiet place to sit with your Bible and reflect on the good things that God has done.  Get away with Jesus to a quiet place and get some rest.

You might be surprised at what you will hear when you take the time to be still and just know that He is God.

Why Do You Doubt?

John 20:24-29

Thomas was one of the Twelve, Thomas was there for the ministry of Jesus, and Thomas was full of doubt after the news was received following Jesus’ Resurrection; but Thomas is not much different than you and I.

It is something that is within us, something that we can’t really explain.  It is something that we must overcome to fulfill our life as a Christian.  That something is doubt – not being able to believe in something unless it is there physically.  Many times we are like Thomas in that we feel we have to be able to touch something to know it’s there.

I mean, the only reason that we believe in the wind is because we can see the effects of the wind, and we can feel it brush across our skin on a breezy day; but if we couldn’t feel it, would we still believe?

Jesus came to the earth to abolish the slavery that we face each day when we become a party to sin.  Each day we are faced with numerous decisions to make – most of which we make sub-consciously – and most of which deal with the subject of right and wrong.  But our sins were washed clean, and for that we have no one to thank but the Father of Lights, for sending His son to live a perfect life and to die in our place.

But Jesus’ death would mean nothing without the resurrection, because without that victory over sin and death, we would have nothing to grasp ahold of…nothing to save us.  Enter Thomas; the doubter, the one who stated to the others, “unless I can touch his wounds and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  Thomas had to touch and see for himself the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.  He had a need to see for himself before he would believe – he couldn’t take someones word that Jesus had risen.

We all are like that in some way…many of us feel that we have to see something for ourselves before we believe…we can’t just take someone’s word for it, that would be too easy.  Think about it; you hear news of someone’s death – the first thing you do is look in the obituaries to see if it is true…or make a phone call to ask someone else for confirmation; you can’t just take someones word for it.  Maybe it isn’t a death, maybe its a storm – you know, when someone says it’s raining, you look out the window to see and make sure; and I’m sure there are many other things that you face in life that are this way.

Jesus knew that Thomas needed to see.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to touch.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to believe.  Thomas was going to be instrumental in the Apostles’ ministry to the rest of the world.  Thomas needed to be a messenger for the King of Kings – so Thomas needed to believe.

Jesus had appeared to the Twelve without Thomas present, but we see that their word was not what Thomas wanted to see…Thomas had to experience it himself.  So, Jesus appeared again…this time knowing Thomas would be there.  Jesus entered and looked at Thomas and told him to touch the wounds; Jesus told Thomas to place his hand in His side.  We then see something that was crucial to the continuing of the ministry of the Twelve.  Thomas replied, “My Lord and My God!”  Thomas finally got it, he finally believed.  But that is not the end…

Jesus responds to Thomas by asking him, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  That is a question that we should hear every time we see a miracle occur in the life of someone…a life that is riddled with illness, or maybe the recovery of someone from cancer…whatever the circumstance, the question is the same, “Do you believe because you have seen?”

But Jesus didn’t stop with the question…because Thomas needed to hear one more thing.  The ministry of Thomas, as well as the others, was dependant upon one thing … Faith.  The faith of those who would hear the message of what Christ had done for the world.  It was a message that was upon the shoulders of the Apostles to share to a sinful world, a message that was to change the world – one life at a time.  That statement was this, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Blessed are those…the ones who would hear the message of the Twelve.  You and I are a part of that group.  How do I know that we are a part of that group?  John 17 – Jesus prayed in the garden for the ones who would be touched by His message brought to them from the ones who had been with him.  Jesus asked that the Apostles be blessed, and then he asked for a blessing upon those who would hear their message.  Jesus had to say this so that Thomas would understand.  Thomas needed to understand that he was now to help carry that message to the ends of the earth; but not only Thomas, the rest of those who were called Apostles.  Jesus told Thomas in front of the others, not to embarrass Thomas, but to help them understand as well.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – The key is this…Jesus is saying to them, tell people of the blessing that knowing and following me can bring.  Tell them how I saved their lives.  Tell them about my Father.  Tell them about ME.  The words of Jesus were a command to the Twelve; tell the world of the love of Christ.

If Jesus had stopped at the question, Thomas never would have known the answer.  It wasn’t a yes/no question when Jesus asked Thomas, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  The answer to that had already been made when Thomas responded with, “My Lord and My God!”  Jesus was telling Thomas it was his turn to tell someone else…show them my love in your life, show them I exist…you have touched me – now, go touch someone else.

The question today is this, “Why do you doubt?”  Jesus has already given the command – touch me, know me, love me, share me.  Share me to a dying world, share me to the ends of the earth, share me with those that need me.  Jesus is speaking through everything that we’ve ever faced in life – and he is saying, “Believe!”

“Blessed are those you have not seen and yet have believed.”  Believe.