10/10/17
Pray Without Ceasing

I walked into my kitchen on Sunday night and looked at the shelf where I keep the coffee mugs. My fiancée, Ali, has begun to move things into the house so that the transition of her moving in once we’re married will be smooth. Between the two of us, we own roughly 483 coffee mugs for some reason. One mug, in particular, caught my eye. My mom got me this one for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’ve drunk out of it many times, but for some reason, it was like I was reading the words on it for the first time. It says, “Prayer changes everything.” I was stopped in my tracks for a few moments pondering those words.  How had I never noticed that before? I knew that it was no accident that the Holy Spirit drew my eyes to that phrase.

Do we believe that prayer changes everything? The correct answer is yes but do we genuinely believe that deep down? I think that the best way to figure that out is to examine our own prayer life. I’ve heard it said, “The quickest way to humble a Christian is to More ‘Pray Without Ceasing’

10/03/17

The Light in the Darkness

When I first had the idea of writing a blog, it was with the thought that I could offer encouraging words to whoever would read it. I feel like I have done a good job of that with each post. However, I am finding it hard to be encouraging today in light of the tragedy that took place in Las Vegas Sunday night.

I awoke Monday to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining through my bedroom window and illuminating the room. I lay there for a few minutes with my dog before finally getting out of bed. My fiancée was coming over to have coffee before she had to go to work. I have Monday’s off, so I had a nice, relaxing day planned. I scrolled quickly through my Facebook, and I kept seeing statuses saying, “Pray for Las Vegas.” I didn’t know what had happened. After Ali left to go to work, I decided to finally check out what had happened and then my heart broke. More ‘The Light in the Darkness’

09/07/17

For His Kingdom and Our Good

I had a plan for what I was going to write about when I sat down to do my last blog post. I had been thinking about the topic for a few days and was eager to get my thoughts on paper, even if it is digital paper. So I did what I normally do, and I began to type away. Once I was finished, I started the less-than-exciting task of proofreading. I became more and more shocked as I read over what I wrote. It wasn’t even close to what I had in mind! I got off track somewhere along the way and never got back on the intended path. Rather than scrap what I had written, I decided to go ahead and post it. I didn’t have much confidence in what I wrote, but I had spent the time and effort, so I didn’t want to waste it. Then something interesting happened. I had multiple people tell me over the week that my blog was just what they needed to hear. I stood amazed each time I listened to that. How could something that I didn’t have much hope for make any impact? Then I was reminded of what it was that I had written about, “If we only knew what God knew.” God knew exactly what I needed to write, even though it wasn’t what I wanted. God decided to use me although I had no idea what He was doing.

That idea is what I initially set out to write for my last blog post. We often only see what’s happening right in front of us. I passed through a town that was preparing for a parade as I drove up to my parent’s for a Labor Day cookout on Monday. There were fire trucks, floats, and all the regular parade participants lining up as people began to crowd around the road. The thing that most caught my eye was a horse and carriage. If you have ever seen a horse in a parade, you know that they are always wearing blinders. Obviously, they do this so the horse can only see what is straight ahead and to prevent it from getting distracted or spooked from anything that is going on around it. Seeing that horse made me think of the fact that we spend most of our lives living with blinders on, preventing us from seeing what God is doing around us and even what God is doing through us.

God has made a habit of using imperfect people.  More ‘For-His-Kingdom-and-Our-Good’

08/22/2017

If We Only Knew What God Knew

“After all, I’m only human” is a common refrain we say when we make a mistake. We are essentially justifying why we are not perfect because, as we all know, every person is flawed. As another old saying goes, “to err is human.” I don’t think that I am making any ground breaking statement when I say that all people have shortcomings. Each and every one of us has our struggles. There are even issues that we, as in the entirety of the human race, collectively can’t seem to overcome. One of those things is not being able to see beyond our current situation, and when we can’t see beyond our current situation, it leads us not to be able to see how God is working in our lives.

Often, in our staff meeting, we will be talking about what is going on in the life of the church as well as our own lives. We share both the triumphs and the struggles. You will have many highs and lows when you spend your life working in ministry, serving both God and people. Some days I’m chomping at the bit for it to be my turn around the table so that I can share what God is doing through the youth ministry at St. John. Other times, I’m dreading having to speak because More ‘If We Only Knew’

08/02/17

More Than Conquerors

Hypernikomen. I’ll let you reread that word a few times so you can try to figure out how to pronounce it. What you have just read is a fancy Greek word that Paul wrote in Romans 8. Hypernikomen is the word that gets translated into “We are more than conquerors” in English. This word only appears once in all of the scripture, and that is in Romans 8:37, ” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” This is a verse that should make us feel confident when we read it. Paul is telling us that we have become “more than conquerors” which sounds awesome, and it is. But wait, what exactly does it mean to be “more than conquerors?” What have we conquered? Those are great questions, thanks for asking. I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Let’s start by examining what hypernikomen means. The root of the word is nikao which means “to be victorious” in war. So when Paul adds the prefix “hyper,” he’s stepping it up in a big wat. He is no longer talking about just winning a war but utterly demolishing an enemy. Imagine it this way, one country has invaded another country and won the war, but instead of taking over their newly conquered land, they decide to destroy everything. Not only are they going to destroy every standing structure that they find, but they are also going to salt the earth so that nothing can ever grow there again. They have made it so that life can never exist there. Hopefully, you are grasping the sheer intensity of this word. The literal translation of hypernikomen is “we are over-conquerors.” The only way to have been an “over-conqueror” to the level that Paul is suggesting would to be infinitely more powerful than your enemy. Keep that image in your mind as we look at what it is that “we are more than conquerors” over in our lives.

The first thing that I think of when it comes to that verse is sin.  More ‘More Than Conquerors’

07/26/2017

Flee From Sin

Ants are fascinating creatures. I have always been intrigued by ant farms and watching how they operate. While I was on my mission trip last week, we moved a piece of carpet that was outside on the ground. We discovered that there was a colony of ants living under that carpet and they went into survival mode when we disturbed their ecosystem. Hundreds of ants convened to take their eggs and food down into the tunnels for protection. Within just a few minutes, all evidence of the ants was gone, and they were safe hidden away in their tunnels. It was captivating to watch this happen in real time. However, I hate ants when they end up making a home for themselves in my apartment. This is precisely what happened to me this spring.

The invasion happened the same way that all ant invasions happen. At first, there are just a couple ants, so you kill them. Then there’s a few more the next day and a few more the day after that and a few more the day after that and then, suddenly, you realize “I’ve been overrun! ” More ‘Flee From Sin’

07/12/17

Living the Abundant life

As someone who works in full-time ministry, it’s not unusual to be put on the spot with a biblical question. One of the things that I take pride in is being able to think on my feet and handle such questions quickly. However, I tend to struggle with the question of “What is your favorite verse in the Bible?” My brain always draws a blank. For some reason, I immediately forget every verse that I have ever read. I stumble around for a few seconds before something finally comes to my mind. Those few seconds feel like an eternity! The answer to that question, as of right now, is Romans 8:28 but it changes periodically.

My first favorite verse was John 10:10 which reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” I attached myself to the last part of the verse. I wanted to have life abundantly even if I didn’t quite know what that meant at the time. All I knew was that Jesus was offering me more life than I currently had and I wanted in. I once heard it said that the book of John is “is like a body of water in which a child may wade, and an elephant may swim.” This applies to John 10:10. More ‘Living the Abundant Life’

 

07/05/17

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Calling

Have you ever been reading the Bible and you came across a verse that stops you dead in your tracks? That happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I came across Ephesians 4:1. Let me fill you in on the background of the book of Ephesians. The letter was written by Paul to be read to the churches in Ephesus, which is in modern day Turkey. Paul was the one who started the church in Ephesus, and they held a special place in his heart. He tells them in 1:15-17 how thankful he is because of their faith and love. The pastor of the Ephesian church is Timothy and the apostle John also served there. When the guys who write the Bible are running your church, you’re probably doing pretty well.

In the first two verses of chapter four, Paul tells us to “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” It was that first part that caused me to stop and just stare at the page. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” My mind immediately jumped to the questions of, “What exactly is that calling to which I have been called?” The first thing that came to my mind was . . . More ‘Walk in a Manner Worthy of Your Calling’

06/28/17

We are Holy as He is Holy

A few weeks ago, in my blog post titled Hagios , I made the statement that “We are holy as Christ is holy.” This may seem like an audacious claim, and it is. We will always fall short when comparing ourselves to Jesus. He was/is perfect, and we are not. Each of us continuously fulfills Romans 3:23 which states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus never fell short of the glory of God; in fact, He is the very personification of God’s glory. How in the world can we say that we are anywhere close to Jesus when it comes to holiness? Much like everything else in the Christian faith, it all revolves around the cross and the empty tomb. (Quick disclaimer: I am not saying that we are God. Jesus was 100% God and 100% human. We are just 100% human, as far as I know.)  More ‘We are Holy as He is Holy’
6/21/17

You Are the Temple

Last week, I began to write about the Greek word Hagios. Paul uses hagios all throughout his writings to refer to Christians. It translates into English as saints. The literal meaning of the word is “The most holy thing” which is how God sees believers. This is a genuinely fascinating concept, the God of the Universe sees us as holy. Today, we are going to look at another place where we see the word hagios.
 
One of the places where the word hagios is used is in the book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews, whoever that may be (I speculate Apollos or Luke), spends chapter 9 showing how Christ’s sacrifice is greater than the sacrifices that they did in the Old Testament times, specifically through the ritual called the Day of Atonement. You may know that ceremony by the more common name of Yom Kippur, which was and still is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.   More ‘You Are the Temple’
06/14/17

Hagios

How’s your Greek? More specifically, how’s your Koine Greek (the language of the New Testament)? You may have learned a few letters if you were in a fraternity or a sorority but if you’re like most people, you don’t know your Alpha from your Omega. Admittedly, I don’t know Greek very well, but I have studied some. I took Intro into Greek during my sophomore year of college for the purpose of understanding The Bible better. One day, I overslept my alarm and missed class.  More ‘Hagios’

06/08/17

This is the Day the Lord Has Made

I meet with some friends a few times throughout the week for coffee and fellowship before we go to our respective jobs. As you probably already assumed, this happens pretty early in the morning. I like to pray as I drive to wherever we meet, and I often need to pray in a way that will correct my mindset off of wishing that I was still in bed and focus it on Him.

I have never been nor will I ever be a morning person and I was particularly tired that day. Also, I had to spend a significant amount of time turning my apartment upside down to find my wallet   More ‘This is the Day the Lord Has Made’