Monday, January 2, 2012

I Am Resolved

New Year's resolutions are funny things. I am not sure if I have ever made a promise to myself to do something in a New Year. I am not sure why I never have, I think I just get tired of "promises" that we don't intend to keep. Although I have set goals for myself. I was challenged a while back to set goals, those that can be measured, in order to hold myself accountable to God. Normally around this time I get alone with God and seek what He would have me to do this year in every aspect of my life. Now to some of you that are reading this you may think it's stupid and that's fine by me. However, I know God has a purpose for my life and every day I wake up trying to live for Christ. I follow Him with everything I am. A lot of people aren't willing to do this because for the most part we are selfish. We don't want to be told what to do, especially with everything we have and do. Here's the difference-- God isn't a cruel boss that I serve. God is my best friend and Savior. He has my best interest in heart and so if He has the best plan for my life why not follow it? I know I would mess up my life if not for following Him.

I am resolved to follow Christ every day of my life. I purposed in my heart a long time ago that Christ was all I need. I have determined that I will follow Him to the ends of the earth, until I die or He returns to take me with Him to live with Him forever. I am challenged to read, follow and live out His Word in my life in all situations.
St. Patrick, a great missionary to Ireland whom the holiday is named after, once wrote this. I think the words are beautiful and if I had an anthem it would be this!

 Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
St. Patrick (ca. 377)
I encourage you all to read the first chapter of Daniel. It is a great story of four young men that determined they would not turn their backs on all God has done for them by doing what the world says is okay to do. I love how the Bible talks about Daniel purposing in his heart, or being resolved to not defile himself. He made his mind up a long time ago that he was going to serve God no matter the costs.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Daniel 1:8)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:16-18)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TV and the Decline of Christianity

I used to watch a lot of TV. Wait, I still do watch a lot of TV. I wish I didn't watch so many shows, but I just can't seem to help myself. It is like the TV Execs know exactly how to get me to sit on the couch week after week and watch their program. I watch a variety of shows (comedy, drama, romantic, action, or sometimes it's a little bit of all of them) and it doesn't really depend on what mood I am in. It seems like the story plots have gotten more intertwined and the audience (I) can identify with the characters. I come home after a day of "busyness" and I know what shows are coming on. I make dinner with my wife, get out the TV trays and sit on the couch as we laugh and talk about our favorite shows. Sometimes I really do think it is a bonding moment for us to talk about the shows.

Wait....(insert scratching record sound as this blog comes to a halt) did I just say we bond over TV shows? I wonder how many people in America can identify with the above paragraph to some extent. The last few weeks the question has come up in our household, What did people do before they had the amount of exposure to TV as our generation does? It is weird question to ask. What would you do if you couldn't watch TV when you come home after work that had a bad case of the Mondays and its to cold to go outside? What would you do on a Friday night, if you didn't have TV, when you can stay up as long as you want because it's the weekend and you don't have to go to work the next day? What would you do when you come home from church on Sunday and the football game was not on TV to sit and relax and enjoy the game?

Now don't get me wrong, I am not accusing the TV for causing the small and steady decline of Christianity as we know it. I am accusing us, the Christians, for being sucked in and becoming so addicted to TV that it changes our lives. I am not saying get rid of the TV but for some it might have to come to that point. When you and your family is bonding over TV, and not Christ, we might have a problem. When you talk about TV shows more than you take an interest in your family's lives, there might be a problem. The average household has close to 3 TV sets in their house. How many do you have? The average family watches anywhere between 6-8 hours of TV in a given day. How much TV do you watch on a given day?

There are some good shows on, remember the first paragraph, trust me I know. There are some shows that you seem that you just can't miss them. How does it make you feel when you can't watch your favorite TV show in the same week that it comes on? Does it drive you wild just waiting for the second that you can watch it? Do you have to close your ears anytime you hear someone remotely talking about the show, because you don't want to know, you would rather watch it for yourself?

How do you feel when you miss going to church on a Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, or any other activity they might put on? How do you feel when you miss your prayer time with God during a given week? How do you feel when you miss reading your Bible during the day?

Now you tell me, as Christians, what have we put more emphasis on in our lives? My wife and I have tried to do this just this past week. We turned the TV off early and read a devotion and a passage from the Bible. After doing this we looked at each other and said, "This feels weird, almost awkward." We have become so accustom to bonding over TV that when we shut it off to bond over Christ, it was something that we weren't used to. I believe that it will continue to be awkward until we get in the habit of this routine, but I think that our lives will be better off.

Can I challenge you this week to take time out of your regular scheduled programming to read your Bible, pray and think about God? Well, I don't need your permission, I am challenging you to do just the way it's a challenge that I am taking up as well.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.(Joshua 24:15)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Common Things between Dr. Oz and Christianity

I have found out in the past months that my wife likes to watch shows like Dr. Oz. Every once in a while I will watch an episode or two with her. For the most part he has good things to say. His show is really entertaining and informative. However I am sure when Dr. Oz created the show, he never meant for it just to be entertaining and informative. (I cannot put thoughts or words into the meaning behind his show but I am assuming here) I assume that he created the show to help people change their lives, to help their health. As I scan through the channels in a given day I see shows like: Biggest Loser, Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc. These shows, yes, albeit entertaining, were probably created to help people.

However, how many people watch these shows and agree with someone like Dr. Oz that there is a problem and they need to change, listen to his plan to help them get on the right track but never actually put that plan into place? It is so funny to me because I do it as well. In the past, I know that I needed to work out, so I used to put the workout DVD in the player and push play. I then, sat on the couch and watched the entire workout DVD without actually moving a muscle. It is a sad reality but for the most part we are either lazy or we just don't care enough to actually put forth the effort to change.

I find this true of Christianity as well. We so often go to church to hear a moving message, only to forget it the next day or by the time we hit the door to leave for lunch. A few years ago Casting Crowns had a song called, "Between the Altar and the Door". The leader of the group explains the song like this: “When we’re at the altar, everything makes sense,” Hall says. “We know what we’re supposed to do. We know how we’re supposed to live. Everything’s black and white. But somewhere between the altar and the door, when we leave and go out into our lives, it all leaks out, and everything gets gray again. The Christian life is the journey between the altar and door, trying to get the things you’ve got in your head, into your hands, feet, into your life." (

My question is this: When we are faced with the Word of God, why can we nod our head in agreement only to leave unchanged? As Christians we know how we are suppose to live but when we get in the "real world" it's a whole lot harder to put into practice? The reason I suppose, is just the struggle that we live in between two worlds; One that is earthly and one that is heavenly. I don't presume to have all the answers, I just know that maybe we should try to not be so lazy or apathetic with our faith. The Bible doesn't seem to say that God is okay with that kind of attitude. Paul several times in Philippians encourages us to actually keep putting into practice what we learned. (Phil. 4:9) I hope that as I finish writing this, that I will not walk away unchanged about putting what I learn about my faith into practice. I hope and pray that as you walk away from reading this that you would not walk away unchanged or challenged to put what you have learned about your faith into practice as well. May we not come face to face with God only to leave unchanged or not better off for being with Him.

 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22-25)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reason Behind "The Awkward Years"

I was walking through the bookstore the other day, and thought to myself, "There are a ton of books in here!" Now I know thats not a new revelation or some grand thinking but it is a profound statement when you began to unpack the implications. There are over 800 books being published every day and close to 300,000 books published every year. There is information being passed in seconds on the internet that anyone can access almost at anytime. For example, if you want to speak your mind and find someone to listen, just post it to Facebook or a blog like this one. It seems like we are having more and more information thrown at us, however it seems like we're in a decline of morality in America.

It's just interesting to me that everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks that they can help everyone else. We live in a culture where self help is priority and we want as much information on the subject to do just that. Here is my thought: You can read all the books you want and seek out all the opinions you can find but they won't change your life as much as the Bible.

Now I am not accusing anyone but have actually just realized this myself--- That we have traded in God's Word for man's opinion all too often. Most often we turn to the Bible in times of need. However the Bible states that we should hide his Word in our hearts so that when trials and temptations come up we know how to face life not wait until we are in a bind.

Now life isn't easy. It almost feels like that now that we accepted Christ, life got harder. The reason, in my opinion it got harder, is because you are not living for yourself anymore you are actually following Jesus. I would like to call this the "awkward years"--- the struggle to really continue seeking Jesus even though it's not easy. Eventually though the "awkward years" will turn into the "wonder years" when we get to heaven but right not it's tough.

As I write on this blog that is my goal. Simply to document a journey of one Christian man going through the "Awkward Years". There will not be  a whole lot of rhyme or reason to this blog other than what God lays on my heart. Hopefully it will be more Biblical than not. My opinion is really pointless and probably would just contribute to the thousands upon other thousands of opinions out there. So hope you enjoy and that God can use this struggle to help you in yours.

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. (Phil. 2:29-30)