In reference to Chumley’s sermon on “The Bible as a Mirror” from Sunday, July 14th, as a professional barber, I had a thought.
Let me start off by saying that nobody likes to be convicted. However, conviction is necessary to grow up in maturity. Pastor Whitney’s sermon on Sunday was definitely one of those “hard to hear” types of sermons. The major focus was on temptation! That’s right, temptation. The stuff we often deal with alone in the dark, where we like it to stay. Temptation is easy to pass off as someone else’s fault. In my life I can be like Frollo from Walt Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, singing Hellfire and blaming my temptations on others. Specifically, when I was a kid, whenever I got in trouble I would blame God for tempting me and then getting me in trouble. I can look back and realize how childish I was for thinking that way, but then I realize that I sometimes still think like that! While I don’t blame God if I get bad grades or make my parents upset, I do blame God for more significant issues I haven’t dealt with yet.
Pastor Whitney’s message talked about how pointless it is to blame God for our sins and temptations. She gave a relatable example of how the temptation of lying is easy to fall into. The words she gave that stuck out to me were, “If I did that, I would have to answer to God for it.” I instantly began thinking that lying to get out of a ticket couldn’t be that bad, but then I caught myself. Have I become so nonchalant about sins that I start comparing them? I was reminded that the biggest issue to do with lying is that it degrades character.
Pastor Whitney’s story ended by showing that honesty is much better than being deceitful. However, I cannot say all temptation stories are like that. I felt convicted about my actions and my lack of care for being righteous. The great thing about temptation is that God gives us the strength to resist it if we rely on Him. He gives us constant grace and love – knowing that we will fall into temptation. As we grow, we recognize good and evil, giving us more room to walk away from temptation and less room to hide from our sins.
Pastor Whitney’s sermon from the book of James hit right on with what is going on in my life. Recently, I have been struggling with believing that God with provide money for me to stay at Life Pacific for my second year of schooling. Listening to Pastor Whit talk about what James wrote regarding faith, endurance, growth, and joy was inspiring. First of all, faith is the one big thing we need in our lives to be able to believe what God has called us to do.
For me, God has told me that Life Pacific is where I need to be. Since I have been a student at Life Pacific I know that God made this campus and Lifehouse my home. When I believe that I can’t be here because of money I am choosing to believe the lies of Satan. When I have faith that my God will provide what I need for next school year I can endure and even press on. With faith, endurance, and not giving up, I will grow and have joy in my life.
As a Christian, is there anything more complicated than church? I’ve been a Christ follower for almost 21 years and I’ve attended church my whole life (except for a few stints of playing hooky here and there). I’ve loved attending church and exclaimed with the Psalmist “I rejoiced when they said let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) But, I’ve also dreaded the whole idea of church and felt that it had no purpose in my life or in my walk with God. I’ve been on staff at churches and I’ve been a nameless face in a lonely congregation. I’ve been paid staff, volunteer staff, layperson, new believer, reluctant participant, wounded congregant, and thankful congregant (not in that order, by the way!). I’ve even despised the church and felt her unnecessary. I’ve even, ashamedly, slandered the church (who is the bride of Christ). I now defend her. I once thought that you didn’t need to go to church to be a Christian. And pushing all semantics aside, I disagree with my former self.
You cannot be a follower of Christ by yourself. We need the fellowship of other believers. We need to participate in the church, which is the Body of Christ. We believers make up the Body of Christ! Our body is not so healthy, though. We are missing too many members. We are blind in one eye, we don’t hear so well and we are going mute. We limp when we walk and our hands don’t move as well as they could.
This past Sunday, Pastor Scott said, “The church doesn’t exist for us, we are the church.” If we don’t “like” church, then we don’t like ourselves. If we don’t like ourselves, we better change ourselves. When I haven’t liked church is when I haven’t been participating in church. Church was not ever meant to be a spectator sport or a show we attend on Sundays. I have only loved attending church when I have been serving in church: when I have been doing the things and participating in the roles that God has created me to participate in. When I have been functioning in the role within the Body of Christ that I was created to function in.
The times when I sat back and simply just observed church, that is when I grew frustrated and despised church. When I have served and participated in church, that is when I saw the reason we have church. Jesus says, in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we gather together as believers, we are the church and we exist to proclaim the risen Savior. When we gather together as a community of believers, we lift up Christ and He then draws people to Him. If you find yourself questioning the need for church, maybe it’s time to look at your role within the church. God created you unique and has given you specific talents and abilities. How can you serve your church? What part of the Body of Christ are you supposed to be? We need each and every believer to participate. Without each other, the church just doesn’t function the way God created it, no wonder so many people are leaving. If you need to, will you repent with me, return to loving the church, and call them back?
Since I started attending Lifehouse in February of 2012, I have
yet to hear a message that hasn’t spoken to me on some level. Since
Pastor Scott started the Christian Atheist series these messages have
been resonating deep in my heart and soul. This past Sunday was
May 26, 2013, this past Sunday’s sermon, is titled “When You
Believe In God, But You Worry All The Time”. Although I do not worry
a lot, (in fact my wife used to complain that I did not worry enough) I
do have some worry in my life. When Pastor Scott pointed out
the fact that our worry shows our lack of faith in God, and in lacking
faith we are actually mistrusting God – these facts deeply convicted
me. I don’t doubt God’s love for me, but I sometimes think
he has more important things to do than fix my little problem. If
that is not a lack of faith and mistrust than what is?
Thank You Scott for showing me that I can just slow down, take
stock, pray for guidance and peace, and God will be faithful.
Change. When I hear that word, many things come to mind. I think back on how drastically life can ‘veer off course from one little event. Pastor Scott’s message on Sunday was a figurative “nail on the head” moment for me; I have been deeply concerned lately with the future for my own life and with issues concerning change. Personally, I like comfortability, which I feel is common amongst most people.
Overall, my life has been relatively stagnant. I was always the pastor’s kid, in an “always Christian home” with a very laidback schedule. I often thought this was all that life was about, being the most comfortable person you can. It wasn’t until college though that I really began to feel change. I learned many things that both shocked me and encouraged me. I learned that true Christianity is a lot more than a feeling religion. It is one that requires deeds done in faith and actions that glorified God over ourselves. I learned that humility is an important aspect of the Christian faith that requires a deep inner change, which goes against the natural human tendency for self-seeking happiness. I learned obedience is key for the Christian, an obedience that does not seek to justify oneself or fight against servant-hood.
Sometimes, change brings things we may like. For example, the young man preparing to propose; going into a healthy and life long relationship with a significant other can be a very pleasant and eagerly awaited change. The business woman who has worked hard her entire life, about to step into a higher position offering better pay and bonuses would also thoroughly enjoy the change coming into her own life. However, like it or not, as Pastor Scott said, “If you are having a horrible time, just hold on, change is coming. If your life is going great, get ready because change is coming.” Change is common for all people; everyone has good times and bad times. Many of these changes have deeply impacted my life and walk with God. None of them were easy yet all were important for me. Sometimes, changes happen that may seem like nothing good comes out of it. In Acts 7, a faithful follower of Christ is put on trial for heresy and ultimately executed. Such a thing can easily be terrible in the eyes of the one reading it, which I must admit I indeed am guilty of, but find that through this man’s death God was able to kick start the Christian movement on a scale that proved to be effective. As any living being on earth, change affects us all, it is one of the major factors that make us what we are today. We live, learn and adapt through change; whether for good or for ill. In the end however, while things may become chaotic and utterly indiscernible, we have hope that God never changes and that ultimately, His plan will succeed.
For the Love of God; John 3:16
Most people know me as a writer. Which is true, I write and I do spoken word and that’s my thing. However, one thing I haven’t quite been able to write is my story. I want to be able to incorporate my story into my poetry. I’m challenging myself in my writing to have it be more than just what I do, but that I shine through it as an example of who God is.
Today in church, Steve spoke about not understanding God’s love for him. He said that for a long time he accepted God’s love for everyone else, but couldn’t see how God could love him. I used to say those exact words about myself, and that’s a huge part of my testimony.
When I was in high school my mom had cancer. I don’t really remember if we had a relationship before that, so I can’t blame cancer for destroying our relationship, but I know not having my parents for those years is a big part of who I am today. I dealt with a lot of depression through the ages of 14 and 15 (and beyond), and I was cutting myself among other things. Halfway through my sophomore year I went to a convention with the youth group from my brother’s church. I wasn’t considering myself a Christian, but I was pretty sure there was a God. I didn’t believe that God could love me. I thought that I was so messed up that I shouldn’t even exist at all. I hated the person that I was, but I didn’t have the strength to change.
On the second night of the three day convention, a speaker came out and talked about God and His love. He said that there were people in the room who didn’t feel worthy of God’s love, people who felt like giving up. He promised that God was waiting with His arms open. I felt like he was speaking right to me, and it broke me. I instantly gave my life to God, knowing I would end up at Life Pacific College, but nothing else.
The thing is, I haven’t thought about that instance in detail in so long. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten where I came from. Steve had seven points on God’s love, some of which being that His love is unconditional, sacrificial, and beneficial. Steve’s message was for me. But his message was for everyone else as well, because God’s love is for everyone.
For the love of God, God loves you; don’t forget where you came from.