I Love You This Much

As a parent, we ask our kids how much they love us and there is nothing cuter than when they stretch their arms out as far as they can and tells us, I love you this much.  If they could stretch farther, they would.

We tell people all the time that God loves you.  But, what does that really mean?  It is unimaginable or intangible to comprehend the love of an Infinite, Eternal Being that lives beyond time and space.

1 John 3:1 says, “See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children—and so, in fact, we are.” (Good News Translation).

So, I try to think of something to relate God’s love for us.  The best place I have found is the universe that He created.  I love to go out on dark nights and look at all of the stars that He has created.  Stargazing just makes me feel close to The Creator.  Science tells us the observable universe, as we know it, is 13.8 billion years from one end to the other, and expanding all the time.  What that means, if we were to launch one photon of light from one end of the universe, it would take 46 billion years to get to the other end. Because even though the observable universe is 13.8 billion years across, the universe is expanding so the photon of light would actually have to travel 46 billion years to cross the universe.  We cannot imagine! In our observable universe there are 100 billion galaxies and in each of those galaxies, there are approximately 100 thousand million stars. Just think, God spoke that all into existence.

Colossians 1:16 tells us that God created everything through Him (Jesus Christ) and for Him.  So, that 13.8 billion wide observable universe was created by and through Christ.  The very same Jesus Christ that died on a Roman cross to pay a price that you could not pay.  Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd.  He said that he would be willing to leave the 99 sheep in the flock to come and save the one that

Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd.  He said that he would be willing to leave the 99 sheep in the flock to come and save the one that needs to be rescued.  If you are that one lost sheep that is away from the flock, call out to the Good Shepherd.  He is looking for you.  So, the next time you are feeling unloved or uncertain about God’s love for you, go ahead and ask Him, “How much do you love me?”  Christ will lovingly look at you with His stretched out 13.8 billion years and beyond nail scarred hands and arms and say, “I love you this much.”

I John 3:1- Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God (NKJV)

Father God, You are love.  Your love for me is unimaginable.  I thank You that when I am feeling unloved or that I just don’t matter in this world, You take your eternal arms of love and wrap me tight.  Remind me that I am your child and nothing will separate me from Your eternal love.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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…Just Stay Quiet

This isn’t for you to point the finger, but rather evaluate yourself. I’m writing this, because man I can talk a lot. That’s why it’s really healthy for me to write; I have to think before I type. Everything I write is intentional.

When I speak, it’s not always like that. I just spout off as things cross my mind. There’s no strategy or reflection involved.

I have a friend who I really admire, that annoys me to the core. When someone asks him a question, it seems like an eternity before he’ll give you an answer. Me, being a pretty snappy person, it bothers me like no other. Today, as I write this and as I’m reflecting, he’s someone I desire to be like. At least he’s someone Id like to be more like when it comes to speaking.

I think if we take a step back and look at people we would consider as wise, we’d see people who are really slow to speak and very intentional with their words.

We really need to be meeker. Let us be slow to speak and try to be wise with our words.

Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[a] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do you talk too much? Are you intentional with your words? Do you think people see Christ through your speech?

Just Do It

 

In 1988, perhaps the greatest tag line of the 20th century was launched. Nike, at the start of the ad campaign controlled about 18% of the domestic sports shoe business.  Ten years later, Nike controlled 43% of the domestic sports shoe business.  Nike’s sales went from $877 million to 9.2 billion in worldwide sales.  That is amazing!  Now you know why Nike co-founder Phil Knight can give millions of dollars away to the University of Oregon and why Oregon has all those cool football uniforms.  The point of the ad was no more excuses.  Whatever you have set out to do, just do it.

Jesus actually came up with the ad campaign idea first (not really, but it is a great segue into this segment).  In Matthew 19, the Bible tells us a rich young man came to see Jesus for resolve to his personal moral dilemma.  The young man was following the law and was faithful to God, but it just wasn’t enough.  He still had this burning desire for more.  More of God, satisfaction, and contentment in his life knowing he was doing all that God wanted him to do.  So, the young man looked to Christ for answers to his burning questions.  In the end, Jesus exposes what the young man already knew in his heart.  The young man was wealthy and living a comfortable life.  However, his wealth and comfort were in the way of him truly being obedient to God.  Christ calls us to a life of obedience.  The problem is we allow doubt and comfort to control us.  We taste the water, but we never drink and are satisfied.  By doing this, we constantly live a life unfulfilled and longing for more.  In Romans 12, we are told to use the gifts that God has given us.  Every one of us has talents and gifts to give back to God.  He has given us His salvation and power to do the good works He has already called us to.  Christ summed it up like this, love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.  Now, don’t ask, “Well, who is my neighbor?” because you already know who God has called you to love. Now it is time to Just Do It.

“You can only learn what obedience is by obeying”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Matthew 19: 16-22 ESV
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,  Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Romans 12:6 ESV
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith”

Father in Heaven, You have saved me for Your good works, empower me to do Your will as You call me in that moment.  I pray that I will love my neighbor as You loved me.  In Christ’s name, Amen

Throwing Up Our Hands In Rest

I was reading a book today, and man was it refreshing. It’s a book called The Place of Help by Oswald Chambers. There’s a section of the book that he hits on that was extremely refreshing during the midst of all these recent scary moments. Hurricane Harvey, North Korea’s push to going nuclear, and now The Largest Wildfire hitting Los Angeles California.

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To me, it can seem very overwhelming to the point of where I think something is GOING to happen to myself. You may be like me and think the same way, or maybe you’re someone who has a bit more confidence and you’re ready to take on these extreme outside sources of fear.

Whatever it may be, I wanted to discuss the verses of the day. It’s a familiar story, but in the midst of our struggles as a country; it shed some new light.

Mark 4:35-41 ESV
“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Oswald Chambers brings about some really interesting questions after reading this verse. Are we confident in our Savior? Oswald Chambers really puts a focus on a specific section of the scriptures.

Mark 4:40
“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

In this section of scripture, I really felt convicted yet encouraged. My lack of Confidence and Faith in my Savior but encouraged and reminded that he can speak calmness in the midst of chaos. That he can heal every hurt and that he can restore destruction. Feel confident in that!

What area specifically do you lack confidence when it comes to your Faith?

Outdoing One Another

We will start this post out with a little Jeopardy question that goes like this.

Me: “I would like NBA for 1000, Alex.”

Alex T: “Gary Payton, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley were all notorious for this.”

Me: “What is trash talking?”

Ah, yes, trash talking- truly a lost art amongst today’s athletes.  The idea of getting into an opponent’s head and affecting their play takes pure genius.  Trash talking comes from being competitive and wanting to win.  Growing up playing basketball as a vertically challenged, slow white kid, I needed an edge somewhere.  Running my mouth gave me that edge.  Although, if you can’t back up what your “preachin”, you quickly find yourself sitting out of a lot of pickup games.  I even carried my trash talking into my adult years.  In fact, I almost came to fisticuffs with a pastor’s son during a church league softball game once (see the classic Tim Wilson song, “Church League Softball Fist Fight”).  I even trashed talked my own son during backyard basketball games.

So, you are probably thinking doesn’t trash talking kind of go against the Bible and the teachings of Christ?  Well, kind of sort of. But, in I Kings 18, Elijah trash talks the prophets of Baal pretty hard.  And, when you get to the Gospels, Jesus wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with the Pharisees.  I also think the Apostle Paul liked trash talking.   In some of his writings, the Apostle Paul showed his competitive side by making references to different types of competition (see I Corinthians 9:24-25, 2 Timothy 4:7 and Ephesians 6:12).

However, one verse that gets overlooked that Paul challenges us into a competition is Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  What, did Paul just lay down a challenge?  Yes, he did.  His challenge is to, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”  In today’s culture, we are conditioned and taught to take advantage and tear down the other person.  God’s instruction is to honor and lift up your brother and sister.  And, they should try to outdo you by showing you honor.  What would our homes be like if each of us tried to “outdo the other in showing honor”?  Who has the Holy Spirit put on your mind to honor today?

Romans 12:10 ESV
“Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor”.

Heavenly Father, show me who I can lift up and bring honor to today.  In Christ’s name, Amen

Life is Anticipation and College Football

Today is August 31, 2017. We are only two days away from what I would consider the happiest time of the year. We are talking about College Football season.

If you’re not a football fan, that’s fine too, this will still relate to you. I want to talk about anticipation today. For me, I’m anticipating The University of Alabama to have another fantastic season. I’m really looking forward to Alabama’s Junior Running Back, Bo Scarbrough, to be one of the most exciting players to watch this season. The guy just runs like Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.

My question for you today is, what are you anticipating? Is it something as petty as football? Are you ever anticipating anything spiritual? For me, often times, the answer would be a resounding no.

The events I’m anticipating: Football on Saturday, certain music coming out this year, certain movies coming out this year, and especially dinner. Guys, I’m probably making a frozen pizza.

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With that being said, I recently have been reading in Joshua. Which has always been a book I have neglected in the Bible. However, it is pack full of powerful lessons and rich history.

I want to focus on a simple verse from Joshua that I read last night. It really got me taking a look at what I’m most hopeful for and provided some much-needed perspective. I highly recommend you reading Joshua in context though.

Joshua 3:5 ESV
“Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

What are you anticipating? Is it matters of building up the Kingdom or is it simply JUST early stuff?

By the way, there is nothing wrong with anticipating some Alabama Football.

Stuck In The Middle With You

Isaiah 1:18 ESV
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord”

2 Timothy 2:23-26 NIV
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

45 years ago, one of the classics of all time was released- Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel.  Who would think that a song released 45 years ago would be relevant today?  Stuck in the Middle with You contains some of the most memorable lyrics of all time.

 “Trying to make some sense of it all,

But I can see that it makes no sense at all,

Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,

‘Cause I don’t think that I can take any more

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”

I don’t know about you, but that is exactly how I feel.  Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right.  They even show up at protests in their clown/joker suits.

Let’s say that 10% of the population are Klansmen/Neo-Nazis/White Supremacists and another 10% are Antifa/Marxists.  By the way, I think that is a very high estimate.  That means there is 80% of the rest of us stuck in the middle (probably more like 90 or 95%).  80% is the voice of reason.  No, we may not agree on everything, but we should be able to reason with each other.  We are the people that make sense.  We are the people that need to stand up and say, “No” to the clowns and jokers.  No, we will not be a part of your scheming and dividing.  Those of us stuck in the middle will not allow you to run amok over the rest of us.  If you all want to go fight this out, then go take it to the parking lot and have at it, the rest of us are having a party.  I am happy to be stuck in the middle with you.

For followers of Christ, we need to take 2 Timothy 2:23- 26 to heart.  We need to be the ones leading the call for reason.  We are the ones that understand that “red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight”.  We, Christians need to be a guiding, calming force in the midst of the chaos.  We are to be the city on a hill.

Dear Heavenly Father, use me to be a calming voice of reason in the midst of the chaos that is taking place in the world today.  In Christ’s name, I pray,  Amen.