September 19, 2012
Instead of welcoming John and the Savior with praise and following their teachings, the people of the day, most specifically the religious leaders, were acting like children…..
So instead of following, what was their response? The religious leaders came up with lies. John abstained from certain foods and actions so they called him demon possessed. Then Jesus came along, partaking in the things John did not and they called Him a glutton. There was no pleasing the religious leaders. They acted childish and without wisdom.
You can find the rest of this post at Hammer and Anvil by clicking here.
September 18, 2012
We are going through “The Story” which is a curriculum made to go through the major themes of the Bible in 31 weeks. This week during the youth group lesson we focused on Jesus being tempted in the wilderness found in Matt and Luke 4.
Here we find Jesus, right after His baptism being led into the wilderness, by the Spirit. He is tempted by Satan while He is there. We are given 3 of these temptations. One is to turn stones into bread (Jesus had not eaten for 40 days). The second listed is to worship Satan and then Satan would give Jesus rule of all the earthly Kingdoms. The last one we are told of is for Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. For this one Satan even quotes Scripture to try and coerce Jesus to jump, because angels would come to protect Him.
There are a few points that stick out to me in this account.
This happened right after Jesus was baptized. Jesus was coming out of a spiritually high moment. God said a few words, and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. There is no doubt Jesus felt close to the Father. This is when Satan decided to attack.
Satan attacks who Jesus is. For the first and third temptation, Satan says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” It’s like Satan is saying, prove to me that you are who you think you are. I need some proof. Satan pulled no punches and when straight for Jesus’ identity.
Jesus quotes Scripture each time He is faced with a temptation. Jesus knows His Scripture so well, that when He is presented with a situation that would take Him out of the will of the Father, He quotes Scripture. He does not sit back and whimper. We are not even told that Jesus prays to God to take the temptation away. He quotes Scripture and Satan moves on.
Satan leaves until “an opportune time.” Verse 13 lets me know that this is not the only time when Jesus was tempted. Satan planned on coming back to try to get Jesus off track again. It was not just a one time deal and once Jesus beat Satan, the deceiver never tried again. Satan would be back.
When I study this text I am always left encouraged. I think about the times when I am tempted. It is often after a major spiritual high. Great things are happening, youth group has been “successful,” my family has had a great day, I’ve just experienced a week of CIY or camp, or any number of events. Then I get hit with one of so many temptations and I wonder what I’m doing wrong.
I may actually be doing something right. This is exactly when Satan came to tempt Jesus.
Satan likes to attack who we are. When we become Christians, we have often left a life of sin. The temptation is usually there to believe we are not actually a new creation. We are just fooling ourselves and everyone around us. Even though Jesus never sinned, He was faced with that temptation as well.
It is so encouraging for me to see that Jesus went through temptations to fall away or to pursue His own will, and He overcame. Jesus is not asking me to go through anything that He didn’t face. I’m in great company when temptation comes knocking!
I am so blessed to be in the company of the Son of God. Jesus faced temptations and so do I. How awesome! That encourages me to be like Him in those moments of struggle.
Jesus quoted Scripture in those moments. I need to know my Bible so well that when I am tempted I am able to quote Scripture to battle it! God has provided a way out, and it is found in His word. Jesus knew that, so I need to follow His example.
Its also important for me to remember that temptation is not a one time deal. I will be tempted over and over, but each time I have what it takes to overcome because I find myself in the will of the Father and in the company of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit.
Remember that when you are tempted, you are in great company, and like that company, you too can overcome!
September 14, 2012
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” -Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3
I have recently assembled two different barbecue grills. They were different kinds and both came with their own set of directions. Now, I am a bit different than most guys you may know. I have to read the directions. If I don’t, and I get somewhere in the process of putting the object together and it is wrong, causing me to backtrack, I get pretty frustrated.
I like it when the instructions are written out as simply as possible. When I am able to read about each piece, alongside a detailed picture, I do well. Lucky for me, I only misread a couple times with each of the grills so assembly was very simple.
When I read the verse I pasted at the top of this post, it caused me to stop for a moment. It almost sounded like Paul was saying that following Christ was simple. My first thought was he tells his readers that there is nothing to it, its just simple.
This sounds great, but is that what Paul was actually saying, and if so is following Christ really all that simple? Is it simple to leave the life we lived before Christ? Is it simple to get rid of sin and addiction?
The answer is yes and no (I know, I hate that answer too).
It makes me think about the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight”. He has come up with a plan that would allow crime to rule once again. His plan? “It’s simple. We kill the Batman.”
For anyone who has watched the movie, you know it wasn’t all that simple to actually kill Batman. In fact he didn’t accomplish it. It was not simple to actually carry out, there was a lot of work that went into the plan, but the plan itself, at its most basic level was simple. He would do whatever it took to carry out this plan.
I think this is what Paul is trying to say. Our focus should be on devoting ourselves to Christ. It should fill our minds and flow from our hearts. At our most basic level, our lives should be about devotion to Jesus. It’s that simple, meaning there is just the one thought, or the one goal.
When we find ourselves in a situation and we are unsure of what we should do, we can ask ourselves “Will this show devotion to Christ?” and that should give us our answer. No matter what outside influences may tell us we have to keep evaluating our lives to see if we have a pure and simple devotion.
There are no, “I am devoted in these two situations, but not these two over here.” That is complicating the matter and not the simple, pure devotion we are called to display. Our devotion to Christ should permeate our entire lives.
It is what our lives are about. Then, when we are devoted to Christ and only Christ, we will not be led astray by the one who has been deceiving since the beginning.
September 12, 2012
Stop using your family as an excuse. “God has been calling me to do inner-city mission work for years but my wife really likes where we are.” or “I would listen to the call of God but now is not a good time financially”I’m too old.I don’t have the time.I’m not skilled in that area.I wouldn’t even know where to start.I don’t see any of the people Jesus calls, making excuses. Instead they just follow, knowing that the details will take care of themselves.
September 11, 2012
There are times when I feel like I am too good to do a job. I’m sure I am not the only one. We don’t like to admit this, especially in the Christian community, because we like for people to view us as humble. When it comes right down to it though, there are jobs that we look at and think, “No way will I ever do that! I am not going to lower myself to that level.”
The jobs are different for everyone:
Fast food worker
Stay at home mom
Or any number of different jobs (Disclaimer: I am not saying these jobs are of least importance, these are just ones that I have heard people say they would never like to do).
In Jesus’ day there were jobs like the ones I listed. They had to be done but nobody wanted to do them. In John 13 we read about one of these jobs.
Jesus and the 12 have gathered together for the Last Supper but nobody has washed their feet. You see, back in this day, there was a servant who would wash the feet of those coming into the house. The roads were dirt and everybody wore sandals, so when traveling, their feet got really dirty and needed to be cleaned off (we just have people kick their shoes off before entering the house).
For whatever reason this didn’t happen, so Jesus gets down and starts washing away. The disciples were completely baffled! This was a job for the lowest of servants, yet the man they have been following for 3 years, their “leader”, was down washing their feet!
At the end of it all Jesus told his disciples, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s.”
As Christians we have really loved this example. At church camps, youth group times, or retreats, there are often times when we bring people forward and we wash their feet to show how we are lowering ourselves and serving them. Honestly, it’s a great object lesson.
Except it doesn’t mean what it used to. There was a speaker at NYR (Nationwide Youth Roundup) one year who said he keeps a toilet bowl scrubber in his office because that is the current job he considers most like the feet washing of Jesus’ day.
What Jesus was trying to get us to see is that we should actually “consider others better than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3, yes Paul said it here, but this is what Jesus was teaching). This considering of others is more than just something we say, but we actually need to do it!
As Christians, we need to take jobs to serve others. We need to not think, “I deserve better than this! I can’t believe I am the one to have to do this job!” We should rejoice over the opportunity to serve someone else and in that service, provide an opportunity to see Christ in our lives.
This week, find a job that nobody wants to do, and get it done. Do it so that you can serve someone, not for the praise you may receive.
Do it because Christ died on the cross for you and never thought, “I deserve better than this! I can’t believe I am the one to have to do this job!”
What are some jobs that nobody wants to do, but would create an opportunity to shine Christ into someone’s life?
September 10, 2012
I’m not the most creative person. I know for some of you that may be hard to believe. You have given into the misconception that all people who work in Youth Ministry have a special part of their brain that is constantly coming up with new games or creative ideas. There are those who fall into that category.
Unfortunately, I am not one of them. It would be convenient if I was, but I’m not.
Most of the time I find myself getting in a rut. I go to the office everyday at right about the same time. I get studying done, visit with those who come through the offices and plan. But sometimes I find myself staring at my notepad and all of a sudden it is 4pm. I look down and the only new thing on the paper are the slight indentations from my elbows (and sometimes a little drip of drool).
I write this, not so the elders who have hired me can read this and wonder why they are paying me, but instead because I’m guessing I’m not the only one who sometimes comes to a roadblock.
Most of the time we manage these frustrating situations in the wrong way. Instead of sitting there and continuing to do nothing, change your situation.
Today I grabbed my laptop, a couple Christian Standard magazines, and my Bible and I left the office. I went to sit in the sun at McDonald’s. I ordered a coffee and have gone to work.
I almost immediately felt a change in my attitude and my thinking process. Sometimes all that has to happen is a change in scenery. It can really get the brain working.
Being physically active can help. Going for a walk or a run. If your workplace has a gym, maybe shooting some baskets. It creates a break from the norm and will help you feel refreshed when you come back to the task at hand.
I am not here telling you to procrastinate. What I am suggesting is taking some sort of break from the norm to help the creative juices flow.
I’ve seen it help in my own life and I am convinced it will help in yours.
September 7, 2012
My wife dug up a bunch of her old love letters. They are ones that she wrote to me and she gave them to me again in a folder. As I read through these letters I was filled with such joy and even had some tears running down my cheek (I’m not afraid to admit it!) as I remembered the conversations we had in those beginning months and even the first year or two of dating and then being married.
It also helped me to remember more clearly the person I was. I was able to recall thoughts I had, events we did together, feelings I had for both her and life in general. It was refreshing and a bit eye-opening.
Sometimes we forget where we have come from. Without proper reflection we tend to believe we have always lived life exactly as we have lived it now. You don’t believe me? If you have children, tell me, how did you spend all that free time before you had children? You can’t remember can you? Don’t worry, neither can we!
It is good to have times of reflection. It is good to look back on your life and see where you have traveled. I am not saying to live in the past and try to always be living in the “glory days.” I am saying to think about who you used to be and see how far you have come. If you don’t know where you came from, you may have forgotten where you are trying to go.
This is why it is good to write goals for yourself (both short and long-term). Sometimes we think we are right on track with where we have been trying to go, but we have forgotten the destination and are in fact moving towards something completely different.
Some people find it beneficial to write a journal. It keeps their thoughts fresh in their mind and also gives them point of reference into their past.
It is good to remember. If you have not spent time reflecting recently, I encourage you to do it. It may be quite an eye-opening experience. Hopefully it is refreshing and encourages you to run the race with even more passion!
September 6, 2012
Over a year ago, my family and I moved to the boot-heel of Missouri. I began working for a congregation full-time as the Student Minister.
There were new people all around. We had new parents to get to know, new students. I even had to change some of the ways I was getting my work accomplished.
Our son was continuing to grow and change. Then we found out we were going to be having another baby. Change seemed to be all around, and it still is. That line “the only constant thing is change,” continues to ring true, and I’m sure that it is not just true for me.
Chances are, you are facing some sort of change in your life. It could be a new job, or a new addition, or loss to the family. Perhaps you have recently changed schools, or at least changed grades. A change in diet, friends, hairstyle, clothes (hopefully this one happens regularly), are all things we encounter at some time in our lives.
Change can be something in our lives that causes a lot of stress. It brings about the unknown and a feeling of uneasiness. Isn’t it comforting to know that we have a God who is always the same?
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Our situations may change. To be honest, we may change. But God stays the same. He has promised to be with us, and He keeps that promise. He is always pure, good, Truth, and love. Our perception of this unchanging God may change, hopefully for the better as we know Him more, but He never does.
It is comforting for me to know that I can always trust God to be exactly who He has always been and to do just as He has always done. I need that constant in a world that is always changing around me.
September 5, 2012
Today’s post can be found on Hammer on Anvil. It is a comparison of the Jews rebuilding the temple during the time of Ezra to how our hearts must be rebuilt toward God. Our hearts are of the utmost importance and must be in tune with God before any other life change begins to happen. You can get to the post by following this link: http://hammeronanvil.blogspot.com/2012/09/rebuilding-temple.html
September 4, 2012
It has been a while since I have done a monthly top posts. Now that we are into the Fall scheduling I plan to be posting much more regularly again. There will be a slight change in the days I will be posting though.
I have been asked by hammeronanvil.blogspot.com to post every Wednesday on their site. My first post there was last week and I am very excited about the opportunity to contribute to a great team of bloggers there. Be sure to check them out!
That means I will not be posting here on Wednesdays. For the next month I will be posting 5 times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday here and Wednesday on Hammer on Anvil.
We will see how this schedule works out over the next month. If other changes are needed to be made, I will be sure to let you know!
Now that I have that business out of the way, let’s take a look at my top 8 posts from this last month.
There was tremendous growth of viewership to my blog in this last month. This had everything to do with me posting again. I had 225 monthly views. I didn’t start posting until the middle of the month. I have not had this kind of traffic since February. I am excited to see the continued growth as I put intentional effort into developing content and publishing.
Thanks for reaching and I hope you continue to come back!
If you have a blog, what was your top post for August?