No Hate Here

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I struggled with whether or not to write anything. I often feel that my words would do no good because somehow I would jumble my thoughts and would not be able to produce a coherent statement. I have since moved past that and have learned that silence speaks. I would rather speak and have a few misplaced words than to not speak at all and appear to be supportive of a movement. What happened yesterday in Charlottesville has no place in the Kingdom of God. Hate has no place in the Kingdom of God.

I am vehemently against any person perverting Scripture to justify their hate-filled actions. This is not what the Gospel is. In fact, if anything, a movement that seeks to produce harm and tries to justify it on Scripture is a form of an Antichrist. There cannot be any mistaking it. The spirit behind the movement is evil, regardless of what the supporters may tell you.

Thankfully, Scripture is not silent when it comes to living with our neighbors. The Apostle John wrote a portion of the New Testament and was not silent on this topic. The fourth chapter of 1st John speaks to love quite extensively. While this is a short read and one I encourage you to pursue on your own time, I want to focus specifically on verse twenty of this chapter. John tells us that if someone claims to love God, but hates their brother, they are a liar.

Love is the only option for a Christian. It does not mean that I have to endorse the sin in their life, but I am called to love them. The way we treat those that we can see standing right in front of us is an example of how deep our love of God is. If you want to love God more, start by loving your brother more.

You can try and justify your actions and personally, I do not care. I am choosing love. I would rather love and be wrong.

Ruth: Discovering Your Place In God’s Story

Ruth is one of the more underrated books of the Bible. We tend to overlook the truths found in the Old Testament and instead skip right to the New Testament and Jesus’ words. All of Scripture is profitable for a person. I am glad that there is now a way to emphasize the book of Ruth in a new manner.

Ruth

This new book from Eugene Peterson is unlike any other of his works that I have seen. This takes us through the story of Ruth, but allows us to see it in a new light by filling in the drawings on the pages. As the pages turn so do the images reflected not only on the paper, but also in my mind. The entire project is relatively short, but so is the book of Ruth.

It is a nice way to help relax after a stressful day while taking in more biblical truth. Overall, the pages are a good thickness and should withstand a fair amount of coloring objects.

I would highly recommend this as a gift or for personal study. I received it for free in exchange for an honest review. These words are my own and have not been influenced by the author or publisher in any way other than the printed book.

Grief

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Comforting Those Who Need Us Most

 

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

Thessalonians 4:13-14
Life is a miracle filled with God’s blessings, love, and cherished memories. Life also comes with struggles, temptations, and loss.  At some point in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one.  Our grief is one of the hardest things to overcome – and it manifests differently for everyone.  We as God’s creatures love deeply and thus we feel loss strongly.  

For many, it takes time, faith, prayer, and support to heal from the loss of a loved one.  But for some, the journey may be too difficult and their burden too heavy.  We’ve all heard that there are 5 stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  But what if someone struggles to heal?  What happens if they get stuck in one of the stages of grief – anger- for example can lead to a great deal of self-destruction.  How far might a person go “to make the pain go away.”

There’s an upcoming film “Annabelle: Creation” that deals with this very premise.  I’m not usually a fan of horror movies but there’s something in the storyline of this upcoming film that’s worth talking about.  The movie begins with two parents – the Mullins – who suffer through the unimaginable and sudden death of their daughter.  Their grief is unbearable, and it is when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable that temptation and evil comes with whispers of consolation, and a way of “seeing” their little girl again.  I don’t want to give away any more plot spoilers, but needless to say the Mullins give into temptation, and a supernatural battle against evil takes place in their home.  If you’re a fan of horror movies, you may really enjoy this film which releases in theaters this Friday, August 11.

Though the Mullins are fictional characters, the idea that we’ll do anything to hold on to a loved one who has passed and/or that evil wants to take advantage of us during a time when we are vulnerable can be very real.  

Grief, especially when it comes unexpectedly, can crush the spirit of even the strongest among us.  As Christians, it is my hope that whenever we come across someone who is grieving, we reach out to comfort and support them with their immediate needs (ex. cooking dinner for the family, babysitting the children, etc.).

It is also my hope that we minister and share God love with them and remind them that they are not alone.  As Christians it is our duty to take care, comfort, and pray for one another.  Healing may take weeks, months, or years, but it is a comfort when they know they can turn to God and to their neighbors to help them through.

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1:3

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Thessalonians 4:17-18

 

Photos provided by Warner Bros.

Thought Overload

I really need to be posting things here more often. I suppose posting is not the best terminology. Anyone can hit the post button and throw something up on the internet to live forever. Rather, I need to take the time to sit and hammer out some words. Not only will it help keep the creative juices flowing, but it will also hopefully allow my brain to process the thoughts that I do have.

I do not know if my brain ever slows down. I would not say that I need a therapist or anything like that, but rather my brain always runs scenarios, sequences, word analysis, and a host of other things without slowing down. I can have a conversation with someone and be analyzing their choice of words and actions while trying to figure out if any of it will fit with an upcoming sermon and continuing to dwell on the Scripture and book I read earlier that morning. My brain is a scary place.

Writing helps me take these thoughts captive for a few moments to put together a coherent string of words. It is a little refreshing, if we are being honest.

More on this to come….

Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out

Evangelism is lacking in the church today. I am not one to believe the theory that it is not being done simply because people are ashamed of their faith. I believe the main reason Christians are not sharing Jesus is because they do not know how. They have come to know Christ, but then no one has shown them how to actually share Jesus. Instead, they have seen it more as a step by step process that if you miss one, you damn a person to hell eternally. This is not the case and I am glad the new book from Alvin Reid Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out is now available to help a new generation of Christians learn to share their faith.

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Throughout the book, Reid’s desire is for the reader to see that sharing the Gospel does not have to be a pressuring topic. Instead, Jesus should be something that comes up in our normal conversations of life. If this Gospel has transformed our life and is still working in our lives, we should be talking about it. We should not simply leave evangelism to those who are deemed evangelists. Evangelism is the call of every believer.

If a believer will follow the steps outlined by Reid, they will feel encouraged to share Jesus, but not in a pressured manner. Rather, the believer will see that sharing Jesus is as simple as living life and capitalizing upon the situations that arise on a daily basis. When we spend time talking to our neighbor, we build a bridge for the Gospel to eventually cross. When we speak words of encouragement to a coworker we allow the Gospel to slowly work its way into the person’s life. When we share the Gospel and it transforms the heart of a person we have played an integral role in God’s mission on earth. Whether we find ourselves able to explicitly share the words of Christ, we must trust that God is working in the lives of those around us and in the end it is not our responsibility nor in our ability to save anyone. That role is left to Jesus.

This book is the best one that I have read designated specifically to sharing Jesus. Reid does not condemn those who have not actively been sharing the faith, but he gently encourages them to start sharing. It is an easy to read book that would be a perfect study for a small group or even a church-wide campaign.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words above are my own and have not been influenced in any way by the publisher or author.

Called To Help – Red Nose Day

As we near the start of summer and think about vacations and time off with families there are others who are not nearly as fortunate to enjoy those luxuries. On May 25th NBC television will air Red Nose Day, a live telecast aimed at ending child poverty.

Red Nose Day is unique in that multiple charitable organizations will benefit from the three hour live program that night. The event is all about coming together, to have fun, and make a difference for kids in need.  The goal is to end child poverty, here in the U.S. and around the world — one nose at a time.

The fundraiser began in 1988 by U.K. director, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and recently started in the U.S. Red Nose Day raised over $36 million in 2016, and over $23 million the previous year, totaling over $60 million in its first two years in the US.

The two charities among many others that will benefit from Red Nose Day are Covenant House and charity: water.  These are just one of many organizations that everyday work tirelessly to make a difference here at home in the U.S. and around the world. What’s staggering with the statistics is that this is happening right here in the U.S.

We’ve learned from Red Nose Day charities that:

  • 1 out of 5 young people live in poverty.
  • Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness.
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.

It’s heartbreaking with regards to the homeless kids and youth as it puts them in such danger of human traffickers – something I know so many of our churches and organizations fight against.  We have an opportunity to make a difference and keep some of these kids away from the streets.

We hope you will consider taking the time to help those in need and checking out both ministries and finding a way however big or small to support them. We’re called to help those in need and we often forget that although we are fortunate to live in a country that provides us with a lot – there are many children right in front of us who struggle to even get a meal a day. We hope you’ll think about ways you can help our youth and even join in on the fun and put on a Red Nose and post to your social channels with the hashtag: #rednoseday

Red Noses are available at all Walgreen locations.  For those wanting to do something fun and get involved, stop by Walgreens and buy a red nose.

We do believe that if we can all raise awareness about this issue – we can all end child poverty one nose at a time!

Check out the videos below highlighting this movement:

 

Stages of Life

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They (insert your own definition of they) say becoming a parent changes you. I suppose that is true, for most folks. The problem that I have is that I also turned thirty shortly after becoming a parent. I suppose both of those things connected have influenced my thoughts. To be frank, I cannot determine which one has changed me more.

There is no doubt in my mind that when a person enters into this thing called parenthood that they really did not know what to expect. You can prepare for it as best you can. You can read all the books, listen to the podcasts, and hear from your coworkers, but you cannot know the actual feeling until it happens. When it happens it seems like you look at the brevity of life more. You see decisions that you make through a new lens. You are more aware of the impact your life is having on the world.

Turning thirty is one of those weird milestones for society. Prior to that it seems like society still treats you as a child. You can serve in the military, risk your life enforcing the law, and wire millions of dollars around the nation to keep the economy flowing, but you have not reached the age that makes you an adult. Having made it half way to thirty-one I have seen a shift in my perspective. For me, I do not think the shift happened last October, but rather it occurred a couple of years before. I do believe it was more of a gradual thing. It is not something that you wake up one morning and feel different. Things gradually slide in the direction of having a different perspective to where when it happens you cannot pinpoint an exact time of change.

I am confident that there are other stages that change a person. I know I will continue to change each and every day I am alive. This is only the beginning of my thoughts on the subject.

Have you noticed a change of perspective of your life? When did it happen? Do you agree that the changes listed above influence your outlook on life? If you haven’t experienced either of these, can you think of another time when your outlook on life has changed?