Thanks

Posted: November 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

What does it mean to truly be thankful?  I like to check myself, just like everybody else, and really reflect on my year.  I force myself to think of life through the lens of opportunities (taken or left behind), choices (wise or unwise), and did I make a valiant effort to be more like Christ this year?  How much has changed?  I like to look back at my life with my wife, relationships with family and friends, and where life seems to be going.  Sometimes I will post things trying to zap people for not being thankful all the time, but what good does that do? Through the last year in Denver, moving to TX, and the people around me who walk with me, I see evidence of change.   My eyes have been open more to this world and to the amount of heartbreak in it.  The need of Jesus has become even more apparent.  Things are changing like crazy but the gospel stands true.  I just want to challenge you, like I am challenging myself, to start doing this daily.  Instead of the list of things you are thankful for being posted to a Facebook status, or tweet, write them in a journal.  Go back and read those at the end of the year.  Some things will be minor and some things extravagant, but at the end of the year there would be 365 things written or more.  Wouldn’t that be cool? Most of all let us start being thankful for grace!  God has given grace abundantly for us who do not deserve it. John Piper’s devotion for the today is written about giving thanks…..  Check it out:

“Glorify By Giving Thanks”

It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Gratitude is joy toward God for his grace. But by its very nature, gratitude glorifies the giver. It acknowledges its own need and the beneficence of the giver.

Just like I humble myself and exalt the waitress in the restaurant when I say, “Thank you,” to her, so I humble myself and exalt God when I feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that I really am infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for me is free and undeserved.

But the point is that gratitude glorifies the giver. It glorifies God. And this is Paul’s final goal in all his labors: for the sake of the church — yes; but, above and beyond that, for the glory of God.

The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is also the response which we feel to be most natural and joyful, namely, gratitude for grace. God’s glory and our gladness are not in competition.

A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are always the same life. And what makes them one is gratitude.

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Hebrews 2

Posted: November 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

I woke up this morning with many things on my mind.  The Lord immediately started impressing truth into my thoughts. God taught me, through the Holy Spirit, who He is and what He is about…..

Some would say life isn’t fair.  We want to have our cake and eat it too.  Some would propose living life with knowledge of the gospel but without being saved and walking in it.  Some know the gospel and it effects every fiber of their being. Those people find deep passion to let people know the gospel but see that blinders are upon the recipients.  It’s life.  There will be struggle, sin to be dealt with, repentance, seeing the gospel ignored, seeing the Holy Spirit soften hearts, and also we will see hearts radically transform under the power of the gospel.  Truth sets us free to realize we are only a part of a grander story, something which may include relationship changes, people feeling convicted, people walking away from the Lord, and people falling deeply into a relationship with God.  We are out of control.  Then we read this:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;you have crowned him with glory and honor,8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”13 And again,“I will put my trust in him.”And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

There is nothing outside His control. NOTHING. Everything is subject to Jesus.  This means He rules regardless of pain, suffering, great relationships, bad relationships, people ignoring the gospel, people submitting their life to the Lord, lives changing for the better, lives continuing neck-deep in sin, and the list will continue on into eternity.  Why would the list keep going on into eternity?  Because our God is an eternal, self loving, all-powerful, all loving, just, infinitely good, jealous, benevolent, grace bestowing, mercy giving, great, amazing, unique in character, and only to be praised for who He is.  He was God yesterday, right now, in the future, and past what we can comprehend.  His just participation in this world should have destroyed everything as soon as sin entered the world.  He chose a different route.  He sent Jesus.  We would never wage war on sin by ourselves.  We will never make our life precious enough to Him to keep it, because at our best try we always fall short.  Our God is infinitely Holy, sustains his Glory, and makes it possible for us to be a part of that.  Either we are part or not.  Life doesn’t stop for us.  Life doesn’t even evolve around us.  Everything is under His feet.  Salvation is even His to give us.  Look at the big picture and see how glorious it is.  I dare you.

Jesus submitting to a humble life, dying a death on a cross, being buried in a tomb, and raising from the dead gives meaning to everything.  There is no life apart from this. There never will be.

I Freak Out Sometimes

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

I have hopes I can intentionally speak directly to the hearts of youth at South Pointe Church.  If you take a look at the previous blog you can see that I asked them to send me something that they deal with in life, include scripture, and on my end I will keep it anonymous.  With something like this it gives me the ability to pray for someone who wouldn’t ordinarily say something out loud and also gives them a chance to help others.  I hope to touch on some of these subjects as I speak on Wednesday nights.  With that said…. here is the first one written by ANONYMOUS.

I Freak Out Sometimes

Oh how I love those random moments when I can’t even look up…afraid of the silent judging…Or how about the times I can’t even ask for ketchup at McDonald’s…Thank you Anxiety, for always being there…NOT! You’re the reason I have trouble making friends…or even talking in front of them. And I just loved that little attack you gave me in class the other day…hands shaking, heart beating, the ‘tap tap tap’ on the desk as I try to talk in front of the class…Sometimes I can’t even send a text cause you have to jump in  with the worst possible outcomes…a simple “Hey” can give me a mini heart attack.Ok, I’ll be the one to admit that I struggle with controlling my sudden fear struck mind. Not gonna lie, I hurried to find these verses to write this. I should have looked them up earlier in life, but as I looked them up, it got me to thinking about them and how true they are…for example,

Psalms 55:22, “Cast Your Burden On The Lord, And He Will Sustain You; He Will Permit The Righteous To Be Moved.”

Although I rarely look up these verses, I do pray about this a lot! I’ve asked for God to take this anxiety away many, many, many times! And after praying and praying and still having these breakdowns…I thought God wasn’t listening…I got mad…upset…scared…But after thinking about it, I realized that this anxiety is what makes me…well me! It may not always be fun but it makes me that much stronger!Every breakdown or mini heart attack might hurt or make me cry…but it doesn’t kill me…it just proves that I can handle it. It proves that I’m not as weak as I seem.I believe that God didn’t give me this just to punish me or make me suffer, but to help me, and maybe, help others…Just remember…

John 14:27, “Peace I Leave With You. I Do Not Give To You As The World Gives. Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled And Do Not Be Afraid!”

New Plan for Blog

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I thought of trying out a new method to reach youth.  The thoughts I have, “How can I get youth talking about their current state of affairs?  What is on their minds?  How can I get them to spill the beans?  I decided one way to do that is to get them to let me post blogs, written by them, on my blog so they can be anonymous.  This may or may not work, but it gives them a way to post something without wondering if they will get feed back.  I truly hope they will send me some things they struggle with, how the Lord is working in their lives, how something is effecting their lives, or other topics.  So next week there may be new writing styles and that is why…  Pray for the youth as they already have enough on their plate and writing a blog can take away from time doing other stuff.  I will still post but I will make sure there is a way to differentiate between the posts.  Thanks for always reading!

—Brad

Truth Hurts

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

Check out this video that somebody made.  There is beauty in the fact of Christ died for the sinner, gave them a way to worship the Father, and not only worship Him, but worship Him forever.  I only wish that all of the youth group, church, and, lets go big here, the world knew this.  Let’s preach this message with the strength of the Holy Spirit and soaked in prayer.  My hope is that when we share this message the we realized we have nothing to do with it.

The Importance of Romans 12:1&2

Posted: October 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I grew up in the 90’s, in a seemingly normal family, in Texas.    I would even say that my parents made sure that I was brought up in a church with great teaching, doctrine, and a pretty good sense of community.  I was in a generation where internet started becoming popular to download songs and find what seemed like infinite amounts of knowledge.  The thing that I didn’t see was the filth which would be introduced into my life through friends.  A few of my friend’s brothers had stacks of pornographic magazines which filled filing cabinets or would be several rows deep halfway up the wall.  I had a beautiful sister,  and my parents tried to protect us from the world.  You can’t take every relationship with a person and go through their closet space, what they eat on a daily basis, or see what kind of tv shows they watch.  There are just some things you won’t be able to hold your children back from.I was a really skinny and short guy all my life, but I was willing to fight any bigger guy for my sister to be protected.  The same went for her! I remember her trying to hunt down this huge guy that almost broke my nose……. but we won’t talk about that.

The point of this blog is to say that if it were not for Christ…. I would be stuck in a mud pit of sin, fighting for things not of Christ, addicted, helpless, struggling with no hope.  When I became a believer, I started seeing differently.  Now addictions, head knowledge of scripture, fighting for what seemed right, and how I lived changed.  I was not a true believer til my early 20’s.  I was a long ways away from the first magazine I had seen.  I was unable to see a woman without seeing her as an object.  I developed having anger from my issues with lust.  I tried to have relationships with women which would be considered ” Christian” before I was a believer but it would always lead to a confusing struggle of dos and don’ts.

This is when God changed me.  I  became a believer in the Most High and Just God.  The Lord ridded me of a relationship that I could not handle and would not cause praise to be for His name.  The Lord would soon show me to my long time foe of lustful addictions.  Over half my life I had these things in my life!  I prayed for Him to take it away.  His answer was no.  He knew my struggle, but this was the way that I could glorify Him in the highest.  I soon started fighting with everything I had to get out of addiction.  This is when I realized the truth to Romans 12:1&2.  The same author that wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” wrote Romans 12.   I started seeing the Lord would not just remove things from my life.  I was supposed to lay down my body for the worship of Christ.  I was no longer a singular individual, but part of a body of Christ and I no longer could think for myself. The Lord quickly put me into this battle which I found difficult because I never had anyone to keep me accountable.  Because of lack of true accountability He challenged me to love Him enough to lay down my ways to follow after Him.  It took months of taking steps, falling, feeling a cycle of inability to get out, more prayer, more reading, and meeting someone special.  The Lord knew that I was putting things in my life to get rid of lustful things.  I had put accountability software which blocked out anything questionable, would report all websites to people I knew, and would not let me on the internet if I tried to disable it.  I put parental control on my tv.  I started seeing the fruit that lust bore in my life.

The Lord made it evident that if I didn’t fight to get out then I wouldn’t get out.  My act of worship was giving everything to rid my life of the sin that was there.  I would either run away if I didn’t feel strong enough to handle temptation in some way or I would battle it head on when the Lord was showing me scripture to fight with.  I look back now and realize the amount of grace, strength, and power which He gave me during those times in which I was so weak.  About this time was when Joy and I started dating.  I had some issues here and there seemed to be the perfect woman introduced into my life.  I was in love with her from the moment I met her.  The most beautiful person I have ever met was standing in front of me and I had to offer nothing but a broken life of lust.  This is when I saw that if she was so beautiful, amazing, and worth fighting for then how much more is Christ worth fighting for.  This drove me to mad obsession of understanding how to worship Him through getting addiction out of my life.  Mercy  and grace (the free and unmerited favor of God) were shown to me through this.  I have never witnessed such a beautiful thing in my life and God was showing me that He was better.  This was the point where I realized I had to be willing to sacrifice that relationship to make sure I was walking with the Lord.

I hadn’t seen porn, or anything, for a couple months when images and dreams starting happening.  Images were torturing me in my sleep and I could remember (even after all this time) the first images I had seen in magazines.  I knew the giving of myself was for the church and me as worship. I had not realized the back part of Romans 12:1-2.  My mind must be transformed!  I started realizing that the battle was not ending anywhere close.  I had to meditate on scripture.  My thoughts,  words, and actions were all hinging on the transformation of my mind. I had to change from the mind of a slave to sin to the mind of a slave to righteousness.  This was weird at first because I would lay down to sleep at night and would pray before that the Lord protect me from thoughts.  It started off by me waking up from dreams and I could pray.  I would then realize that just asking God’s protection wasn’t all that needed to happen.  He called me to be led by the Holy Spirit in my dreams.  This can’t happen when you are focused in on sexual images from your past while you are in a comatose state.  Eventually in my dreams I was thinking of my own accord.  Images were popping up and immediately I would think about scripture and the God that I loved.  Images started going away.  Freedom was there at last… so I thought.

Now I am down the road and I realized that it was not just the start of a battle with lust but with everything in which God is not glorified.  SIN has to be cut out of life, Christ must be worshipped, and I will always have to battle.  It’s no different for everyone else out there.  If we are believers then we should had the Holy Spirit convicting us, walking us through battle, being strong in our weak points, defeating sin in our life, finding new sin, and starting the cycle again.  We should never stop presenting ourselves as individuals as a worship to the Lord.  We should never stop filling our mind with the scripture of God. In scripture it calls this “girding up your loins.”  We should be prepared and readying ourselves for battle everyday for the sake of the gospel.  We as individuals should be lifting up our lives as worship so that the community of believers benefits from Christ working in us.  If we do then we can see the will of God for our lives, our community, and speak truth into those around us.  I’m not worried about catching flack for a really long blog which describes my flaws in a very vivid picture because people need to know how to fight the good fight, have other people next to them to battle with, and to draw support from.  Where is the church?  How did Christ change your life and start destroying former sin?  Where are you now? Are you still battling?  Are you waddling in sin with an unrepentant heart?  Check yourself!  Are you finding new sin to lift up to the Lord to work through?  Here is a list of a few for me that I found once I had addiction to lust out…. anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, jealousy, pride, attitude, laziness, and etc….  until Christ returns I will keep trying to be more like Him.  I challenge you to do the same.

My Everything

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

The last couple blogs have been about music and how artists relate to the gospel.  Today I wanted to post a video which can speak for itself.  If the gospel has changed our live’s what would our viewpoint be?  Would we want to see our live’s keep changing?  Would we just say that we were a Christian because there was this point where we said a prayer or did something that gave a time frame of when we got saved?  Would we be able to see that our life revolves around Christ in everything we do?  The first time I heard this song I wept.  I haven’t heard it in a long time and then it popped up on my playlist this morning. I sat still again.  By myself, sitting at my desk, just pondering if I lived out the abundant life that John 10:10 talks about.  I wonder if I live fully in the freedom that Christ gave me.  If Jesus is our everything then we can live in freedom, abundant life, caring for each other more than ourselves, reaching the people that are less fortunate, sharing the gospel with those around us, we would be full of courage, our fears would be defeated, we would be living lives that would always be challenged by the evil one because he would hate that we are all living for Jesus, and we would all be listening to the Holy Spirit.  How awesome would it be to see a world filled with Spirit led believers? What if there were people who loved the Lord in a way that they think of honoring Christ in everything they do?  How can we get this way?  Ponder with me as we listen to God in this matter.