Uncovering Loneliness

Life is a very interesting piece of work that God has created. There are so many connections between different things throughout time, relationships, love, happiness, anger, confusion, and loneliness. Loneliness is a tough feeling to have. It doesn’t hit you right away, it just slowly eats its way into your life and then you feel completely lost once you truly recognize it. I would guess that loneliness is the number one cause for suicides in America. Loneliness is also probably a small reason as to what has caused Facebook and Twitter to become so popular. Loneliness is a devastating problem.

Wait…

Where does loneliness come from?

Seriously… think about where it comes from.

God.

This is just my train of thought here. I have looked at the scriptures and have seen a small pattern woven through them. Why would God create us? God created us for a purpose, right? Give glory to him (Romans 11:36, 1 Cor 10:31), obey him (Luke 11:28), and bringing others to Him (Mat 28:16-20). Those are all very closely related and our other purposes are all based around those. But think about this: why did he want us? Why did he create us in the first place? Why does he want us to be alive and live eternally? You see, he wanted us because He wanted to be loved, just like we want to be loved. And it means so much more when those people choose to love us, just like it means so much more when God gives us the choice to love Him or reject Him.

Loneliness. It just shows us that we need others, just like God needs others. Tenth Avenue North just released a new EP with the song No Man is an Island, which speaks about the loneliness we may feel. But that loneliness is just a mental feeling if we just realize that God is always there with us. Yes, we may be able to have other earthly friends but God is there, just waiting for you to come to Him and be eternally satisfied. 

Mike Donehey, the lead singer for Tenth Avenue North, went into a little bit of there new song with Air1, a christian radio station, and he said some really encouraging stuff regarding loneliness.

“You’re made like God. That’s why you feel lonely. You’re made for others.” That quote really hit me. I had never related God with loneliness until I heard that, but it is so beautiful.

So what we need to realize with all of this information is that we have God with us all the time. No matter what we go through, God has us in His hands and won’t let us go. He will be By Your Side whenever you fall, whenever you are struggling, and whenever you have everything going right. In every circumstance, whether you have earthly friends or not, you have God. Hold on to that and bury that deep in your heart so you never lose sight of that. Then realize that is something to share and not hold by your self. Other people are hurting and struggling too. Let’s share the love of God and help others escape their loneliness.

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Fly Fly Away My Beauty

Have you ever experienced the annoying sensation of knowing a fly is buzzing around you or your food? When you are aware of a fly buzzing around you or the objects that you originally thought you were going to throw into your stomach, a terrible hatred is brought up within us. If you have not experienced this hatred then you must be extremely lucky, or you live in Antarctica. Either way, the fly, whether it be a regular house fly, a deer fly, a fruit fly, a horse fly, or any other kind of fly, they all tend to be mindbogglingly annoying. Why is this? Well the simple and obvious answer is that they buzz around us and are rather disgusting when analyzed. They never seem to leave.

This weekend I realized something. I went camping this weekend and of course we had food. This food was mighty delicious, as was evident by the flies gathering around it and the plates that were sitting around this food. I immediately felt a hatred towards these flies. How could they go around thinking they had the authority to steal and dirty our food? These worthless little annoyances needed to just scram so we could enjoy our fire and canned apple pie filling in peace. In this moment of hatred is when I had my moment of realization: What if that hatred towards the flies is a sin? I was hating God’s creation! God did create those flies and he said that his creation was good every time he created something (Book of Genesis). I was condemning God’s creation to death. How cruel is that? Yes they were bothering us, but what if that is Satan? What if the devil is using God’s creation to fuel our sinful nature by presenting it in an annoying way? Romans 1:20 says some pretty crazy stuff when Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

As I thought about this, I sat and observed these flies sitting on our paper plates. They were so cool. They were so disgusting but in a cool way. God was there showing himself through those tiny little beings! Magnificent! All I had to do was slow down and just see the flies as what they were–God’s creation. But, please take a moment and slow down right now as you read this. If I saw God through some little annoying flies that could possibly be used by Satan, what could God do with us? We have the opportunity to accept and share Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit that comes with it. That is powerful.

Now I am not saying that these thoughts are all completely true and we should stop hating flies. No, I am just making a point to focus your attention on where God is. He is everywhere! He is in those little flies, the wheat in the fields, the flowers in your garden, the water flowing from your sink, and the brain in your head. God can reveal himself to you through so many things. We just need to look for Him. Also, Satan can use many different things to bring us away from God and we need to be careful of these things.

So next time you see a fly, or something else that may annoy you often, try to look for a glimpse of God in that subject and realize how much God can do with our lives if we surrender them to Him.

L I F E . . . life…

Life is very complicated, yet sometimes seems pointless. I don’t know why you live life, but I have some reasons why I think it might be important for us to live long and prosper. 

My reasons for living life:
1) Praising God through a Christ-like life
2) Bringing others to make the choice of accepting Jesus so they can live for eternity with Him
3) Loving as many people as I can
4) Enjoying the beautiful Creation that God has made for us and Him
5) Eating and drinking as much ice cream and milk as I can
6) Enjoying this life that God created
7) Keeping this body nice while God lives in it, while eating ice cream and drinking milk

Those 7 reasons are very important to me and I hope that you look into them as you create some reasons for living. I hope that maybe I will think of some more reasons as life goes on, because life is beautiful. Scripture says that life is going to be tough and we are going to struggle, but isn’t life beautiful?! We get to live in a place full of nature and beauty that God has placed onto this earth. But the struggles we go through are also a beautiful part of life because we get to live through them and see the product of grace and truth on the other side.

I hope that this is an encouragement to you. Just remember:

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 

Ephesians 3:12

The Mystery Revealed

Have you ever wondered what the angels are doing? Have you even wondered if angels even exist? How about whether they float around among us or not? The Bible doesn’t say lots about angels, but it does say they exist and explains some aspects of these unseen creatures. We know they were created by God, as all things were created by God for Him and for His purposes (Colossians 1:16). There are thousands upon thousands of them, as we can see in many places in the Bible, including Jesus’ birth and Hebrews 12:22. We are not to worship the angels, for they are servants of God just like us (Revelation 22:8-9). So we know that there are many angels that are servants of God. So is the only difference between them and us that they are up in heaven, already with God? Maybe they have more shine to them when they enter into a room and wear white clothes with halos above their heads? Or maybe another difference is that they have wings?

Yes, angels are up in heaven with God already. Yes, they may shine a bit more because they are from heaven. Yes, they may or may not dress a little differently, but I don’t think that any of these differences are important. The angels are servants and worshipers of God, just like us. They are already in heaven, but we will eventually be in heaven worshiping and serving God. The way they dress or glow with light doesn’t really seem that important either. So what separates humans from angels?

In Ephesians 3, Paul talks about the mystery that has and is being revealed. This mystery is Christ. God sent His one and only Son to die for our mistakes and our wrongs so that we would forever live together with God, forgiven of everything that we did or even thought that separated us from God. In verses 2 and 3 of this chapter, Paul says, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.” Paul wrote, apparently briefly, about the glorious blessings that we now have through Christ because of his sacrifice in chapter 1 of Ephesians. Verse 3 of chapter 1 states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Amen! But Paul continues to reveal the mystery in chapter 3!

Paul continues in Ephesians 3:4-6 saying that we are all united, Gentiles and Jews, because of what Christ has done for us, and this knowledge was not made known to former generations. I want to just stick Ephesians 3:7-13 in here now just so you can read it on your own, because there is some powerful stuff in what Paul says here:

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

I don’t know if caught some of the things Paul mentioned, but there are a few things that really stick out to me. Verses 8 and 9, verses 10 and 11, and verse 12 all have something different to say and they all say something powerful. But they all come down to a very important point in the end.

Paul gets as humble as a person can possibly be when he says in verse 8, “…I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people…” How can Paul think that way?! Paul was a very highly respected person in the Jewish society, but Paul persecuted those who proclaimed Jesus’ name. Paul did this until Jesus literally appeared to him and blinded him. After this moment, and after he got his sight back, Paul became one of the most influential missionaries for the Lord. The Ephesian church is one of the churches that he helped to establish. So with all of this, Paul says, “…I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people…” How depressing, right? But wait, Paul says less than the least of all the Lord’s people, and he continues, “…this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” So even though Paul says that he is the least of all the Lord’s people, he does realize that he is the Lord’s and that he was given the honor of reaching people with the good news of life. That mind set is outstanding! He realizes that he has done terrible things and is probably at the bottom of the totem pole, but he still gets it. He gets to serve God. Do see that? He gets to serve God. He is joyful that he gets to serve God and tell others about Jesus’ sacrifice! This verse makes me think about one thing: Am I focusing too much on the bad and not on the joy and honor that I have in Christ?

Now we get to the angels. Verses 10 and 11 reveal what the angels think of what is going on down here on this little planet called Earth. “Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God is being made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Uh… WOW! We, the church, are unfolding the MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD! And who are we revealing it too? The rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. I would assume that is mostly angels. God’s plan was to save us and show us His love through Jesus Christ and that plan is unfolding before the angels very eyes. The angels had no idea what was happening! They want to know what is going on in us humans! We were discussing the difference between us and the angels before. Well, that is the difference. We have been reconciled through Jesus and are now filled with God’s Spirit, and our job is to tell everyone we can about this reconciliation. The angels serve and worship God, but they don’t have the experience of being taken away from God and brought back to Him through His Son. What a privilege to be the ones that God loves enough to send His Son to die for. But the crazy part, is in the next verse.

Verse 12 says it all. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Did Paul just say that? We may approach God, the ruler and creator of all life, with freedom and confidence. God would have struck anyone down had they done something wrong in the tabernacle or if they approached and touched the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6), because that is where He dwelt with His people at that time. But now, if we trust in Jesus and give our lives to Him, we can approach God with freedom and confidence. We are free from our transgressions and we are confident in forgiveness of God. Nothing is more encouraging than that! We are blessed with every spiritual blessing, so we can approach with freedom and confidence. I cannot wait for that day when I approach God with freedom and confidence, ready to worship and serve him for all eternity.

So all of this combines into one main point: We are privileged. We are privileged because we have been saved by God and we now have His Spirit in us, and because of that, the angels look down in wonder and amazement. Through the grace God has given us we can now reveal the mystery of Christ to all of those around us. We need to spread the word that God has saved us and we can now approach God with freedom and confidence! We are privileged! No matter what we go through we know that we are forgiven and we have an eternal life with God coming our way and we need to send that message out the world. So after reading this today, I hope that you feel privileged to be apart of God’s chosen children. Even the angels look down in amazement at the mystery that is being revealed in us, so do you feel that amazement, thankfulness, freedom, and confidence in Christ?

Why They Don’t Sing on Sunday Anymore

A very interesting opinion written by Thom Schultz on his blog, Holy Soup at holysoup.com. I would agree with a lot of what he says–lots of people have stopped singing because of the amplification, the spectator atmosphere of it all, and the choice of song. But I would also argue that in many cases that helps me worship God more. When I am listening only to the words that I am singing rather than the people around me, I focus more on the worshipful mindset that I should be having. Now I know this is different for many people but that is just how I have grown to enjoy worshiping.
I play electric guitar in my worship band at my church so I also have experience with the leading of the worship. Through my experiences, I have noticed that it is very easy to focus on the professionalism of creating the music. With my youth band, we practiced for weeks trying to get the same set of songs worked out but we just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t until I realized that I was focusing too much on the music and sound rather than what that music and sound is supposed to be doing. As worship leaders, we are supposed to LEAD… WORSHIP. So it is very important to grab hold of the worship that we are lifting to our God rather than all the noises that we are creating with our voices and instruments. And that should translate into our everyday lives as well. When you wake up in the morning, what is your first thought? I know my first thought is, do we have Froot Loops??? This is very important to me because I love a good (fake) fruity cereal for breakfast. It really makes my day just to have that bowl of Froot Loops. But should that really happen? My entire morning is centered around a bowl of fruity cereal. Why should I focus on that when there is a God filling me with his Spirit every day, hoping that I would grow closer to Him every day?
In a way, the spectator aspect of some worship bands has is the result of a group of excited Jesus followers who are worshiping God with all their heart. I hope that we all see that that heart of worship is really what matters in the end. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Holy Soup

Looking around the church last Sunday I noticed that the majority weren’t singing. And most of those who were singing barely moved their lips. The only voices I actually heard were those on stage with microphones.

That’s been the case for years now–in churches large and small. What used to be congregational singing has become congregational staring.

Even when the chipper “worship leader” in contemporary churches bounds on stage and predictably beckons everyone to “stand and worship,” the people compliantly obey the stand command, but then they turn into mute mannequins.

What’s behind this phenomenon? What happened to the bygone sounds of sanctuaries overflowing with fervent, harmonizing voices from the pews, singing out with a passion that could be heard down the street? I suspect it’s a number of unfortunate factors.

Spectator set-up. Increasingly, the church has constructed the worship service as a spectator event. Everyone expects the people on stage to…

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Obamacare by the Numbers: Who Really Cares?

This Post, on the WordPress blog Bereans @ The Gate, presents some great stuff on Obamacare and the socialistic actions Obama is trying to enact. Also, some great perspective for Christians when dealing with politics and government. Good read!

Bereans @ The Gate - old

The Congressional Budget Office recently reported new numbers related to the impact of the Affordable Care Act.  The report provided good news for Democrats and other presidential supporters when it estimated that the number of uninsured has dropped to approximately 30 million Americans.  On balance, however, Republicans and opponents have more fodder for the political battle.  Insurance enrollments totaled 1 million less than anticipated.  More damaging yet was the $1.2 trillion price tag and the loss of an estimated 2.5 million jobs over the next decade due to the impact of Obamacare on the economy.

Too often opponents of Obamacare are accused of not caring about the disadvantaged.  It would seem these numbers suggest an alternative motivation for opposition.  Surely one can care about the disadvantaged without supporting a job-killing program that will inevitably reduce the quality of healthcare for all Americans.   We have fifty years of history in this…

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