Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's getting real...

I haven't given an update lately on what's been going on with me at my church...and with recent developments, I think now is a good time for an update!

As many of you know, this past February my church voted and I became the "Student Pastor" of my church (Lakeview Bible Church, Crystal Falls, MI). And then in April my church voted to make me Associate Pastor. My pastor at that time decided that he would retire in June of 2015, and that if I wanted to stay, the church would vote at that time to take me on a Senior Pastor. This summer I worked at my church full time and loved it!  I decided toward the middle of the summer that I would stay as long as the church gave an affirmative vote that they wanted me to stay.

Well, in the last few weeks things have moved forward much faster than previously anticipated. A few weeks ago, my pastor, Dick Kreider, announced that he would be retiring on January 1st, instead of June 1st. Since then things have moved into high gear, as the leadership team works toward making this transition as smooth as possible.

I am so excited about the future, and I look forward to seeing what God does!

I have two prayer prayer requests that I'd like to ask my readers to pray for (although I could write a book on all the things I need prayer for):

  1. On this Sunday we will be having a Q&A time with the whole church during Sunday School.  Please pray for wisdom for me as I seek to answer the questions the church poses to me.
  2. The Following Sunday the church will be voting about whether to approve me as Senior Pastor of Lakeview Bible Church.
Like I said, I'm very excited about all this!  God is so gracious to allow me this potential opportunity to serve the church I have grown to love so much! But I covet your prayers!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Number 1 Thing I Have Learned at Northland...

"What's the biggest thing you've learned in your time here at Northland?" Pastor Mike Bullmore (Senior Pastor of Crossway Community Church) asks the students in my Pastoral Theology and Administration class.  When asked this question, it didn't take long for one thing to stand out in my mind...and what stood out to me was that I learned freedom.  I wasn't raised in a household nor did I go to a church that claimed to be legalistic (I don't know that any church/family does), but I certainly became a legalist. I had my own ideas about what was right and wrong, and if people I knew claimed to be a Christian, and they did not measure up to these standards, I didn't think they were a good Christian.

I can give some examples.  One of them was music.  I've written on this before but more contemporary styles of Christian music were out of the question. If it wasn't Majesty Music or Wilds music, it was bad (this is an exaggeration, but it was pretty close). Another area was generally in my walk with God.  I thought that if I did all the right things (read my Bible, pray, etc.) that God would be happy with me, and give me the joy I sought.  But the truth is, it only left me disappointed.

So when I speak of freedom, what am I referring to?  Am I speaking of a life lived completely for myself, indulging in every sin imaginable?  By no means (Romans 6:15)! I am referring to the fact that we have much more freedom in Christ than we might think!  Believe it or not, even though we might try really hard to find it, Scripture doesn't say much about music, or what music styles are appropriate. And there are endless other topics that Scripture doesn't speak directly to, that we have much more freedom than we often allow ourselves to have.

Now, am I trying to say that we should not have standards? No, of course not.  Standards are good, and I think we should all have them.  However, we should not use our standards as a measuring rod to discern the spirituality of a fellow believer.  There's more wiggle room in these areas where Scripture isn't clear than we like to acknowledge.

There's another aspect to this freedom, and that's that in Christ, we have the freedom to overcome sin.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, through meditation on Scripture and prayer that fuels my affections for God, I desire and have the power to fight sin.  As I find joy in a relationship with my God, I then desire to obey Him. In this kind of relationship with God, I do not obey Him because of a legalistic set of rules I've placed in my life to force me to obey (which is what the Pharisees did and they really missed the heart), but I obey Him because I want to obey Him.  My heart's desire is to please Him, so I then glorify Him with my life from the heart. This is where true lasting change comes...and it is truly liberating.  Not that I never struggle with sin anymore...that's certainly not the case...but I know that there's hope.  There's power in Christ to help me overcome fight sin.  I've seen this over and over in my own life within the last few years that I've been at Northland.

So, many of you may have mixed feelings about Northland.  Some of you may have completely written Northland off as a school that has gone completely "down the tubes"...some of you may love and support Northland...some of you may not even know anything about Northland...but Northland has had a HUGE impact on my life.  I've been taught, and I have learned that there is freedom in Christ, and this freedom is...well, liberating.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Put down your device!

I walk into the "Daily Grind" (it's our coffee shop on campus at Northland) and order my drink.  I pay the worker, and walk over to wait for what I have ordered to be given to me.  I stand there nervously and promptly pull my iPhone out of my pocket to check Facebook. I look through my newsfeed until my drink is ready.  Once it is ready, I thank the worker and grab my drink.  I go to class and since I'm a little early I sit there and check Facebook while I wait for class to start.  Since I'm a Senior too...I am suffering from major "senioritis" I surf Facebook and other internet sites while I wait for class to be done.  I go to my next class afterward and promptly get out one of my devices to check Facebook again.  There are people around me, and I just have short pithy "conversations" with those around me...I engage in hardly any really deep conversations. This is my life...the life of a millennial...

Is it wrong that I want more than this?  Is it wrong that I feel like I'm really missing out on things? This has been something I've been thinking about lately.  I took a class my Sophomore year at Northland called "Technology in Ministry"...but really it should have been called "The Theology of Technology."  In this class we basically spoke of the danger of overusing technology.  With the rapid rise of more and more technology, we are becoming a more and more "connected" people, who really aren't truly connecting with our fellowman. We think because we look through our newsfeed and see what a lot of people are doing that we are really socializing...and maybe we are, sort of...but are we missing something?

I believe we are.  Now, before I get into this in depth, I want to say that I love technology.  I have a Macbook Pro, an iPad, and an iPhone.  I love my devices and they really do help me stay connected with my loved ones, but just like anything can become bad when it is used incorrectly, technology can do the same thing.  Technological advancements are wonderful, but they have the potential in our sinful hands to rule our take over so much of it that we loose our ability to interact with people in "real life" in person situations.  My sinful nature can turn any good thing into an idol if I let it.  And I know that I have allowed this to happen me. And I'm SURE that I'm not the only one who has found themselves struggling with this...

So what have I done to work through this?  To try to keep from falling into this?  Well first of all...every idol has it's roots in my spiritual life.  I'm not finding my joy in my fellowship with God, and so I'm running after an idol that I think will satisfy.  So first of all I need more of God's Word...more fellowship with Him in prayer...and more fellowship with the Body of Christ to build me up and encourage me.  If I take this out of the equation, it's just external behavior modification...I need to seek joy in my fellowship with God to truly overcome these idols that so quickly take over my life.

But there are some boundaries that I've set up for myself to help keep me from being drawn away by these idols.  Here are two things that I have done to try to keep from letting technology control my life:

  1. As much as possible I try to keep all devices away while I'm with other people.  I want to develop good relationships with people around me.  I want to share the Gospel with unbelievers that I interact with, and I know too quickly I can use my devices as a shield to keep me from doing this. I say "as much as possible" because there are some exceptions...for example, if there's some emergency or something like that. There are some other exceptions, but this is a general rule that I decided I want to follow.
  2. I have removed Facebook from my iPhone and iPad.  My primary reason for initially doing this was because my Facebook app has a section on my newsfeed that says "people you may know," and lately it has been suggesting people whom I have no common friends with, and many of them have very bad profile pictures.  So really, my motivation for doing this was for purity purposes...I don't want to be tempted to click on them and see things I shouldn't see.  And the other reason why is because my main reason for using my phone and iPad all the time is so that I can check if it's not on them, I'm not tempted to pull them out as often, or to stay on them for as long as I used to.
I know both of these things are pretty simple, and if I find that I continue to struggle with this, I may put more restrictions on myself, but for now I think these restrictions will do.

Since I started doing this, I've found so much enjoyment out of talking with people...I know that sounds ridiculous...shouldn't that be the way it always is?  But truly...God created us to be relational people...and when we deny ourselves that, I think it is really damaging to us.  We feel so isolated even from the person sitting next to us.

So friends...if you know me in person, keep me accountable.  If you see me pulling out my device when I'm with you, please remind me of the fact that I wrote all this.  And friends...try putting down your devices and really talking! Ask someone what God is doing in their life!  Talk with that lady sitting in next to you on the to that fellow student sitting next to you in class...don't hide behind your device in fear!  Speak truth into people's lives...give someone a hug. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vigilance with sin...

As the end of summer is nearing and I'll be going back to school in 9 days, I've been reflecting on the summer and what I have learned. Often times a friend at school will ask, "what did God teach you this summer?" So I've been thinking about what He's been teaching me...because, for the Christian, God is always working in our lives...teaching us and shaping us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

So, what did (is) God teach (teaching) me this summer? The thing that stands out to me is that God has reaffirmed for me my need to be vigilant in my fight with sin. The pull towards it can be so subtle...a lingering look at something I know I shouldn't be looking at...a thought being entertained that I know is wrong...and before I know it I'm falling into sin...

I have to be vigilant about what I'm feeding my mind, and this means guarding my eyes and ears too.

In this fight of course "the best defense is a good offense." This means that we're renewing our mind with truth from God's Word and praying. When we're meditating on truth from God's Word and allowing those truths to move from our heads to our hearts, this is our offense. We're reclaiming the territory of our mind and fueling our affections for God.

But even when we're doing this, there are those moments in our lives when temptations come...we see those images, our minds begins to be drawn away to chase that idol...we have to have a good defense in that moment. Our first instinct should be to get away from the temptation before it gets a foothold...but it cannot end there.  The next thing I've found that works well for me is that I pray...ask God to help me in that moment to overcome the temptation...but it cannot end there either. Because my sinful flesh is going to pull my mind back to those images, idols. This is when I need to renew my mind with scripture...those thoughts need to be replaced with truth from God's Word. As I meditate on those truths, it pushes out all the garbage.

This is a constant battle that we will fight our entire earthly lives...but our merciful God has not left us alone in this fight...He's given us tools for this battle!

Another tool He has given us is other believers. God never intended for this Christian life to be lived alone. It sounds spiritual to say, "all I need is God" but really this is foolish. God has given us fellow believers to encourage us when we're struggling. They can pray with us, for us, and they can offer advice to help us. 

Now, I've made it sound kind of simple, but like I've said, the pull toward sin is very subtle, and we have to be vigilant. We need God's grace...we need His strength to keep fighting, even when it gets REALLY hard. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dangerous Men

Has anyone ever heard someone say, "Inside every man there's a little boy trying to escape"?  I agree with this statement...sort of.  Or I should say, I understand what makes people say this.

What makes them say this is when an adult man finds himself doing or wanting to do reckless/crazy things.  Perhaps this is said when he goes or wants to go skydiving (something that I have secretly wanted to do...although I guess it's not a secret anymore), swimming with sharks (something I don't want to do), or running a marathon (something I do want to do someday).  Perhaps it could be said when a grown man LOVES to watch superhero movies (something I do like to do), or plays way too many video games where he does violent things (something I do not like to do).

There is something inside a grown man that makes him long for danger...I know this sounds crazy, but it's true.  I still will often find myself fantasizing that I'm a superhero saving the day.  We say that this is childlike, but is it really?  Is it wrong for a grown man to feel this way?  I would submit to you that it is not wrong for a man to feel this way, but it can be expressed in an incorrect manner.  Allow me to explain...

As we see in the Scriptures, God made man to be the leader.  To courageously fight for what is right, to lead his family and to not be afraid to take risks in the process.

The sad thing, however, is that too often this desire is squashed by unfulfilled expectations.  I could go into details about why this often happens, but there are too many to name.  But lets just say something happens that makes him feel like he can't, or shouldn't give in to these urges to lead, these urges to be the courageous man God has created him to be.  So fear overtakes him and the man/young man/boy pushes those feelings away...but as much as he tries to quiet them, he can't...they're who he is.  So these desires manifest themselves in doing completely ridiculous things (pulling awful pranks on his friends, or giving into dares from his friends to do VERY dangerous things), illegal things, or in playing too many video games (the video games allow them to vicariously do the things they've always wanted to do).

These lists I have made are by no means comprehensive, they're just some areas where I've seen this problem manifested.

So, what should we as men do to combat this problem?  Well, some of us may need serious counseling by Godly Christian men to work through the struggles in our lives that have caused us to be crippled by this fear of leading.  As we work through these things, God will help us to learn how to lead.  This is something God has been working on in my life over the last few years.

So, my fellow men...let us, by God's grace, seek to be the men God created us to be.  To be the leaders God created us to be.  To not be afraid to take risks, to stand up for the truth.

Now, before I close this...I feel the need to clarify it wrong for men/boys to enjoy video games and superhero movies?  No, I don't think so.  But if a man is allowing it to become his "substitute leadership" (as in, he's living vicariously through the characters), and not truly leading in real life...then there's a problem.

Okay, that is all.  Often times I feel like my blog posts are a bunch of random thoughts strung I hope that all made sense.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reckless self-indulgence and bondage to sinful passions are simply not what God intended for human beings. Such behavior has much more in common with a dog than it does with God's design for us. When we indulge ungodly passions, it is as if we were sub-human, licking our own vomit or eating our own feces. These actions might be acceptable in dogs, but they are shameful and disgusting for people created in God's image. So it is when we are controlled by our ungodly desires. We were created for something much more noble than eating feces. We were created to have passions that are directed to the glory of God.
 -Edward T. Welch, from his book "Addictions: A Banquet in The Grave" (pg. 219)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is summer break really over halfway over?

It's hard to believe that we're already this far into the summer. It feels like it has gone by so fast...I have to be back on campus by August 23rd...crazy, right?

I have mixed emotions about going back to school in a little over a month...

I want to go back because:
1. I'm going to see my girlfriend.
2. It's my last year.
3. I'm excited to see other friends.
4. Continued teaching from God's Word.
5. To see how the new partnership with "The Southern Theological Seminary" is going to affect things at school.
6. Continued discipleship from the faculty.
7. I'm going to see my girlfriend.

I don't want to go back because:
1. I want to continue to work full time at my church.

But God is good...I need to trust His plan is perfect in ALL in the moment, for His glory...not looking so forward to the future that I forget what God has for me in the here and now...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

Once again, much like my previous's another topic that I'm extremely passionate about, but the same blogger/pastor/author/musician, Stephen Altrogge, said it much better than I ever could. To read the article follow this link:  Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

Serving Those In The Church Who Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction

There are many topics on which God has given me a great amount of passion, and one of these things is the way that the church is/has handled the issue of Homosexuality and Same-Sex Attraction.  I have been going back and forth in my mind about whether to write a blog post on this issue, because I think it's a big problem.  Too many Christians are afraid to talk about this issue because they're afraid of condemnation, or being treated differently because of their struggle.  Too many Christians stand at a "safe distance" so as not to be identified with them, and what they need is our love...our support, and to be treated like any Christian who has struggles with sin. I said, I've been wanting to write a blog post on this, but I found a blog post on another blog that handles this issue way better than I could.  I've read the book by the guy who's interviewed called, Is God Anti-Gay? and it is an excellent book!  I highly recommend it...anywho...follow this link to read the article: Serving Those In the Church Who Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Blessed Beyond Measure...

As any of you who have been following my blog posts lately will know, I was recently appointed as Associate Pastor of the church I've been going to since I started college 3 years ago.  I cannot tell you how much of a blessing the job has been so far.  I love the preaching, but more than anything my favorite part of the job is talking with people in my church about what God is doing in their life.  Many times this is right after the service when I get to talk to people about how the message affected them.  It is in moments like this where God confirms for me His calling in my life to be a Pastor.  Seeing how God is using me, a broken vessel in His hands to accomplish His is humbling, and a greater blessing than I can adequately thank God for.

Another way in which I have been feeling incredibly blessed lately is when it comes to my wonderful girlfriend.  As a part of my job, I have 4 weeks of vacation per year.  Two of those weeks I took for the past two weeks.  The first week I spent with her family, and the second week she spent with mine.  The time with her family was awesome!  I love every one of her family members and had such a great time.  Her family lives in a "touristy" town, so there were all kinds of fun things that were always available to do.  I got a lot of sun, and a lot of mosquito bites, but it was wonderful!  Haha!

The second week with my family was awesome as well!  My family loves her, and she loves them.  No matter how crazy they got while she was there (and my family can get quite crazy), Rachel just kept saying that she loved them so much.

At the end of the second week we drove down to Columbus, OH for the wedding of a friend of mine, and it was a beutiful wedding!  Then we drove up to Flint, MI area to stay the night at Rachel's Grandma's place before I drove back to the UP the next day.  It was hard to say goodbye to Rachel that Sunday afternoon...because I will not be seeing her again till school starts up again at the end of August...but I couldn't have asked for a better visit.  God is so good to me...when I am so utterly undeserving...

Rachel holding my niece Emily. This is my favorite pic of Rachel...

The two of us at Watkins Glen in Watkins Glen, NY. It's about an hour away from where my parents live.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Broken and filled...

Do you ever feel as if you have been broken and filled at the same time?  You feel like God has broken down your pride and made you feel completely inadequate, but He's also filled you with greater affection for Him, and for those He's put in your life to point you to Him?  I suppose this is what Paul reflected on in 2 Cor. 12:9-10, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

If you've been following my recent posts you know that I was recently appointed to the position of Associate Pastor at my church.  In fact today in Impact Groups (they're the small groups we meet in at Northland every Wednesday) one of the leaders of our group brought the article from the local paper that announced my appointment.  Anyhow...I've been thinking about this position a lot, and what it will entail.  I didn't feel like I was going into it with pride, but I found out today that God was about to show me that I wasn't acknowledging truly how much I need Him in this position...

Today I got some information that broke my broke my heart because I greatly love the one that is struggling...I got the news, prayed a quick prayer, and tried to keep doing the things I needed to get done today...but God wasn't going to let me get away with just that.  I started speaking with my girlfriend about what was going on (I can't thank God enough for the encouragement she gives me), and I began to feel overwhelmed with the need to stop what I was doing and talk to my Father about it.  So I got alone and began to pray to Him about it.  Before I knew it I broke down...God began to press on my heart how much I truly need Him.

Left to myself I turn immediately to selfishness and indulgence in what I want.  I become inward focused and turn quickly away from the One who alone can give me the joy I seek...He alone is worthy of my undivided affections.  I desperately need Him...every hour!

My prayer this summer as I minister at my church is that I would continue to be broken and filled!  Broken by my own inadequacy, and filled with strength to do the work and a love for the Church that can only come from my Father!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pastoral Ministry

Many of my readers might remember a post I did back in the end of January titled, "Incredibly Blessed..."  In this post I spoke of the fact that I felt incredibly blessed to be used by our glorious God to have been given a staff position at my church.  The title of this position was/is "Student Pastor."  The plan with this was that I would be in this position till I graduated from college...however, things have since changed...greatly...

I have since then been offered a position as Associate Pastor of my church, and this Sunday the church will be voting.  The position will last until next year when I graduate, and at that time I will have to decide whether I will stay...and if I say, "yes" the church will vote to decide whether they want to appoint me as Senior that our current pastor can retire...

So...this puts me in the position where I now have to make a very big decision...a decision, that should I choose to accept, will bring with it a big commitment!  A commitment to shepherd the flock God has granted me...a commitment for which I will be held accountable to God for how I handle...

Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of praying...and seeking Godly counsel.  My mind has gone all over the place...considering my options...I would just like to share with you some of the things God has been doing in my life through this...

God has been greatly increasing my love for His church.  More specifically, He has increased my love for the people of Lakeview Bible Church.  This group of believers has been a greater blessing to me then I can express.  They encourage me so much, that I'm often praying to God to help me see that I CANNOT do the work without Him!  Because as I'm complimented and encouraged over and over, I can very easily get a "big head" and think that I don't need God's help.  But these acts of love and encouragement have even been expressed in truly loving correction.  Many times they have come and given me advice about my preaching, and I've greatly appreciated every bit of this.  We often don't think of correction as being an indication of love, but it really is...they love you enough to be honest with you...this is a great thing, and a great blessing!

God has also been greatly increasing my burden for the theological training and spiritual growth of His church.  It is a real tragedy when God's people go their entire Spiritual lives and never increase in their love for God, their love for His Word, their love for the lost, and their desire to see fellow believers discipled.  My heart aches for the spiritual growth of the church...too many pastors give their churches milk every Sunday...and the people stare with gaunt spiritual faces...yearning to be truly fed from the Word!

So...God has been bringing these things to mind lately...and I struggle, because I don't know if this burden and love is a sign that God wants me to take this position.  So...followers...if you think of me, would you pray? I would be greatly blessed and encouraged if you would!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Relationship musings...

Relationship advice from someone who's been dating a girl for almost a month: put away selfishness and pursue the glory of God in all you do. I find that anytime I begin to seek my own desires or her desires above God's...things start going downhill. But when I'm continuously repenting of my selfishness (because it happens often) and pursuing His glory...I'm more content and happy in the relationship then I was when I was focused on myself or her...

God is teaching me what it means to "put Jesus in the middle."

I'm excited to see what God does in the future in our lives...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What will keep my generation in church?

When speaking about the topic of what needs to be done to get kids to come out to youth group, I once heard someone say, "Lets get a band!"  This has been the answer that many churches have given...but statistics have shown that this has done nothing to change the exodus of the youth from churches.

Before you stop reading because you think this is going to be a post condemning CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), please allow me to elaborate.  I have actually been greatly blessed by the rich theology in CCM artists such as Keith and Kristyn Getty, Sovereign Grace Music, Chris Tomlin, etc.  My argument is going to be that this is not what will truly keep my generation in church.

So, what do I think will keep my generation in church?  Before I say what these are, this is certainly not an exhaustive list.  These are just two things that I know that have blessed me greatly in churches that I have attended.

The first one is a faithfulness to God's Word.  This means sermons that are expository (going verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, book-by-book) or Theologically driven (I include this one because I think teaching on major doctrines of the faith is really important (Systematic Theology)).  We've heard too many topical sermons or motivational speeches, and we just want God's Word!  This means not throwing in man's traditions, or going on rants about "what's wrong with people these days."  Just teach us the Word.  And while you do this, we want to see genuineness.  We want to see that you are being real with us...that you have wrestled with these truths before getting up to preach them.  We can tell when you're being fake, so please, really do this!

The second one is, love us.  Love us truly.  Show you love us, don't just say it.  We'll forgive easily when you wrong us if you are loving us.  This means giving us the opportunity to serve when we can.

Now...I want to speak to my generation:  Be respectful.  The things I have stated might be things you identify with, but the previous generations of your church have a lot of wisdom, and you would do well to listen to them.  God has commanded us to honor and respect them, we should do this.  The older people in my church are some of the greatest people to talk to...we can learn so much from them... those who know me personally...I want to clarify.  The problems in churches that motivated me to write this have not been true of every church I've gone to.  The church I work at right now is one of the most loving churches I've been a part of, and the pastor is always speaking of the need to be faithful to the Word.  This is more an indictment of issues I've seen in general over my 26 years of going to various "baptist-like" churches.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Balanced View of Self

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. 
(Genesis 1:27, ESV)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. 
(Psalm 139:13-16, ESV)

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
(Colossians 1:21-22, ESV)

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 
(Romans 5:10-11, ESV)

Do you ever feel yourself slipping into self-pity, and even going so far as hating yourself.  You think thoughts like, "How could anyone ever love me?!  I'm so weird, and annoying!"  Anyone?  I have...I often struggles with thoughts like this...

It's actually become quite "hip" among Christians to put ourselves down because it makes us appear humble...but really this is either what we do to mask our self-righteousness, or our self-pity.  Both of these are bad...

So...what does God have to say about this?  How can we have a balanced view of ourselves?  I think we need to look to scripture.  I think the Bible shows us both sides...

The Bible speaks of the facts that apart from salvation in Christ we are enemies of God...deserving of an eternity in Hell.  If we just focus on this all the time, this is not good...because it can cause us to slip into this self-pity...because the truth is, as Psalm 139 tells us...we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."  We were made in the image of God!  And Jesus came to earth to suffer and die for us...we may be the scum of the earth...but God has blessed us with so much that even after an eternity of singing His praise...we could never praise His adequately...this is our God.

I think to keep both of these truths...the truths of the fact that we were enemies but we are also fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by our wonderful glorious God...keeping these in balance helps us to have the right view of ourselves...

So...friends...don't become puffed up with pride...because you need God...without Him you would be hopelessly bound for hell...and friends...don't become so filled with self-hate that you withdraw from everyone in fear of judgement...for you are "fearfully and wonderfully made, and Jesus loved you enough to die for you!  These are glorious truths that must be kept in balance!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Founders Days

From April 28-29 Northland is going to be having an event called "Founder's Days."  It's an event to commemorate our founder (Paul Patz), but it's going to be a time for guests to experience Northland firsthand.  The coolest part about the celebration is the fact that Dr. Albert Mohler will be there to speak, and Andrew Peterson will be speaking and giving a concert.  I can't wait for this event, and I think that if you (my readers) could come, it would be an awesome event!  Click here to see the website and view more information about it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Incredibly Blessed...

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 
(Psalm 8:3-8, ESV)

God of heaven...maker of everything...sustainer of everything...yet He is "mindful" of us.  This Holy God who cannot look on our sin, thinks of us, and is active in our lives.  Do you ever feel incredibly blessed and unworthy to even be regarded?

Recently God opened the door for a ministry opportunity at my church, and this past Sunday the church voted unanimously to take me on as a staff member.  This is all for the grace of my loving God...I feel so unworthy, and inadequate, yet I know that God chose me for this...and He can enable me to do the task ahead.

I deserve nothing more than the pit of hell...yet God chose to die for me, that I might have life...

And not only this...but He then chooses to use me for His purposes in this world...He doesn't have to...but He does.  He gives us opportunities and situations where we can glorify Him, and point people to Him.  He gives us powerful positions...and one can often feel overwhelmed...but I'm continuously reminded of the fact that God is sovereign in appointing us to these positions, and He's also sovereign to enable us to do the job.  I just need to continuously seek Him, and trust His power to work.

I'm also super thankful for people He puts into my life to help and encourage me...again, He doesn't have to do this either...but He made us to be relational people...He works in our lives through our friends and acquaintances.  I'm so thankful for the friends He's given me...and I look forward to continuing to develop these relationships...for HIS glory!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Musings on 2013

Many things can be said about this year.  It was the year of adventure (I went on a missions trip to N. Africa), it was the year of trials (my internship in Illinois), it was the year of great realizations (my internship in Illinois), it was the year of letting go of my anger at God (my internship in Illinois), it was the year of making new friendships and deepening previous relationships (this past semester at Northland), it was the year of new beginnings (new president at Northland) and I'm sure I could think of more things that could characterize this year, but I think I have written enough.

I really enjoy writing out prayers to God, so I think the best way to close out this post is to thank the Lord for what He did this year.  So, here's my prayer:

Father, I thank You so much for this year.  I thank You for the work You did in my life through all the circumstances You brought me through.  I know that I don't learn nearly as much when my life is going the way I want it.  So, thank You Lord for not giving me what I want, but giving me what You know I need.  I know that I can thank You for the trials because You are working Your great purposes in my life through them.  Help me Father in the coming year to keep my eyes fixed on You!  I know there will be times when I will take my eyes off of you, but help me when I fall to run right back to Your loving arms!  Help me Father to submit myself to You, and please work in my life to make me more like Yourself this year!  I give this year to You, O LORD!  Do with it what You will!  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.