Materialism and Jesus

I woke up this morning to a small dusting of snow on the roads. My wife went to work, and I cleaned the house. The best way to clean is listening to podcasts, in my opinion. My podcast of choice was Timothy Keller: Treasure vs. Money.  His analysis of our materialistic inclinations as Americans was quite astounding. Definitely worth a listen.

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My life is at a weird point. I am in a job I enjoy for the most part (auto technician) an I am heading up the shop’s social media as well. It is a cool job description, but still not what my end goal is.

 

I am also dabbling in helping other people grow their business brand. I do not have a whole lot of experience other than my business podcasts and building a small landscaping company that turned a decent profit over the summer. I am essentially learning as I go and seeing what works. Currently I am helping friends and family.

These thoughts brought a lot of insecurity to my soul. Questions ran through my head, wondering if i would be “stuck” at one job, or that I would regret not doing this or that.

It is no coincidence that as I was stressed and frustrated over my lack of “direction” in life, Tim Keller’s voice rang through the house as I was putting away the dishes. His challenge in his message was to reconsider all of your ideas of materialism. Most Americans do not consider themselves materialistic.

This thought challenged me, because I do not consider myself materialistic. But as He spoke and revealed Jesus’ words about money, The Holy Spirit revealed to me my indwelling materialism. What were my end goals for my business? For my job? For my life? Subconsciously it is to make money. Not to glorify God, not to make God look great, but rather to make money so I will not have to work as much. This is materialism.

The thing is, making money and aspiring to make a good living (by american standards) is not a bad thing. If my goal was to make more and work less so that I could serve the Lord in more sacrificial ways, then that is a good God-glorifying goal. But all my heart has been set on is that savings number we are shooting for.

As God checks my heart, it is so freeing to know that God is greater than all these things, and that the Holy Spirit can break down all materialism in our souls. This is so encouraging to me.

Tim Keller – Treasure Vs. Money

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Jesus is the Only Foundation That Cannot Be Shaken

In our obsession with the world and what it has to offer, we lose sight of Christ. How to Start Paying Off DEBT (2).png

The common objection to the claim of scripture:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7

This is a bold statement. The peace “of God”. Think about the peace that God has. Eternally content, happy, and joy-filled. The human mind cannot understand it. Not only the simple mind, but the elite thinkers and philosophers cannot and will not understand it. This peace is beyond all understanding.

Then comes promise: “…will guard your hearts…” it is not simply a vague “some of you can have peace”. If we are growing in our love for Jesus, peace is sure to follow.

Peace will also guard our minds. How is this possible?

When we place our hope and peace in something finite, there is always a chance of loss. For instance if our hope is money in the bank, then the moment we have less than our “peace standard” we lose our peace. If our hope is in another human being, we will inevitably lose that hope when they either leave us or die. It’s a morbid thought, but simply put, everything in this world is finite. Everything will end.

Some will claim that they have lived there whole lives in peace, what makes a Christian’s peace different? We lay hold of a foundation that can never be broken. Throughout our whole lives, we never have to worry about losing out on God’s love for us. We will always be His. In five years, ten years, 50 years, He will hold us fast to Him.

You can certainly place a pseudo-peace on money, recognition, you name it. But in the back of your mind, though there’s a chance you won’t lose them, there is certainly chance that you will. That gnawing reminder of your own fallibility and idolatry will never create the lasting peace that comes from the only sure foundation. In Christ alone.

Subduing My Little Piece of Ground

This past Monday (my day off) was spent by myself for the first half of the day. My wife was at work so I decided to finally mow my front yard and clean up some of the landscaping.

As someone who tries to see the spiritual aspects of all of life (something that Adventures in Odyssey taught me!) working to make my yard and flower beds look nice kind of reminded me of God’s command to subdue the earth in Genesis.

I think this is where many people (both men and women) get their drive to build, create, restore and rebuild. We have it wired into our very beings. Ultimately we will never restore our little piece of dirt to it’s former pre-sin glory, but we desire to try to subdue it as best we can.

And that was what I did last Monday.

Pictured, I have some before and after photos.

There was something immensely gratifying about getting my hands dirty while listening to great music. It really is such a beautiful metaphor of God’s work in us.Daily Re-dedication.jpg

The Holy Spirit’s work in us isn’t a one time thing. We can’t just mow the lawn of our souls once. It’s a constant trimming back, revitalizing, and convicting of our hearts. And it takes work.

Grass starts looking like weeds when it sits stagnant for a time. Flower beds get overrun, leaves pile up. The sin in our lives is the same way. When you’re not fighting it, it’s growing back.

Fighting sin is messy. Your hands will get dirty and your soul will grow tired, but we must go back to God’s word and to prayer to reconnect with our Lord to regain our strength again every morning.

And it’s not an easy task. God calls us to die to ourselves. Take up our crosses. Go make disciples of all nations. The only way we can do this is by the simple daily act of committing ourselves to God’s will as shown in the Bible. And though cutting grass and putting down brown bedding may be trivial in of itself, God can still use something simple to show us a small glimpse into one way He works in our lives.

Because, just like up-keeping a home, cutting grass, and washing dishes, keeping our souls requires daily re-dedication. Daily reviving. Daily dying.

 

As My Plans Unfold

I have so much in my life i like to schedule, plan, and put into action. But these last few weeks have reminded me that despite my want for control and stability in my life, God has his sovereign hand on my life.

A couple weeks ago we were looking for jobs and had also found a nice little apartment that looked promising. notes-514998_1920.jpgThe only problem was we didn’t have jobs at the time so we obviously wouldn’t be accept
ed for a lease.

Despite that problem we asked for a showing just to see if we wanted it and it turned out to be what we were looking for. It had one bed, one bath, and a small kitchen and dining area (and of course a driveway for my various auto endeavors).

We left hopeful but ultimately disheartened knowing we couldn’t live there until we had jobs. Then I got a call.

After rejecting a job offer that was good pay but very short term (three weeks) I got a call in a next few days asking for an interview. I went over and did the usual “tell me about yourself” dialogue and left. I thought it went well.

That afternoon they called and said they’d like me to start that Monday!

During this time we had been checking that apartment to make sure it was still available and it turned out that the price had gone down $50 per month!

So God specifically didn’t give me a job (for around a month!) just so we would secure the apartment we’re now living in at a lowed price then we were originally going to pay.

Proverbs 19:21 rings in my head reminding me that I take many steps forward, but God is ultimately leading them.

Though I know God isn’t always clear with why He does things, I know that He will always do them for our good and His Glory.

Some Resources For You!

I decided, because I had to go and update my auto insurance (which took a decent chunk out of my normal writing time) to give you all a list of awesome resources I have found invaluable in my walk with Christ, below are links and pictures, enjoy!

(click on the pictures for the link)

Desiring God
-For everything related to The Bible and life, plumb the depths of their many articles and sermons!
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Bible Gateway
-A great resource for looking up and reading scripture!

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Plugged In
-When it comes to new movies, it’s hard to tell how crude it’s going to be. Plugged In gives you every instance of Sexuality, Cussing, and anything else before you even watch it!

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Downcast (APP)
-The BEST podcasting app i’ve ever found, though it’s only on iOS, the interface is clean and easy to use. I found ALL of the sermons I listen to and easily download them daily. I great tool for sermon and teaching consumption.

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Theology Thursday #3 – Promises, Promises

“which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures”
~Romans 1:2

In today’s Theology Thursday text (as you see above) we’ll be looking at Romans 1:2.
Now, as we’ve already seen in the previous post, this is the Apostle Paul writing the letter to the Church in Rome around a.d. 55, and it was most likely written from Corinth.

The context for the beginning of the second verse:

“which he promised…”

is that Paul is referring to the Gospel, or literally, the “Good News” as we read back in verse one which I expounded on here: http://wp.me/p3UQi7-2x
So next we see Paul tells us that the Gospel was “promised beforehand”.
Now, what would that mean? We’ve already seen the context and background so now we have a fairly good idea of what he’s referring to, but, for my own sake, (i just love defining things for clarity) we’ll look at both words:

The definition of “Promised” (according to Google) is:

“To assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen.”

And the definition of “Beforehand”:

“Before an action or event; in advance.”

So, looking at both these definitions working in harmony together, we see Paul telling us prophiesthat The Gospel was a message that was definitely going to happen, but was also promised before the New Testament was even written. Pretty cool seeing God’s sovereign hand working in history before it happens!

To expound even further, we’ll look at some pretty mind-blowing “promises beforehand” found in the Old Testament completely fulfilled in the New Testament concerning Christ who is the very center of the Bible and the Gospel.
The first being Genesis 3:15:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Kinda cool finding a promise for Christ so early on in history, completely fulfilled in Christ on the cross paying our penalty for sin. (John 19:30)
Another later on:

“A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.””
~Isaiah 40:3-5

This passage is a very commonly cited messianic reference pointing to the one who would “prepare the way” namely, John the Baptist. Who, in turn points to Christ as Lord and Savior and God.
And take note, there are literally hundreds of these prophecies pointing to Christ. These I noted are just a couple of examples! It’s really fascinating reading up on more, and there are plenty of great study resources to take advantage of out there.

If you’re a Christian, you’ve most likely heard all this before, but sometimes it’s good (for me included) to look through the Bible and really study, not just read, but study and learn and apply. I hope this encouraged you in some way!

Thanks for reading and remember to follow to be notified about future posts!

The Amazing Gift Of Community

Night_Maze     So this past Saturday, I went to the “River of Life Night Maze”. It’s basically a Christian event from 5pm-Midnight where they have big inflatable obstacle courses, games, etc, an amazing speaker, and a corn maze! On top of that, a bunch of my friends who were off to college a few months ago were on a ministry trip to help out so the Night Maze would run smoothly and effectively.

It was a great time. Quality time with close friends I hadn’t seen in a while, a great message from an amazing man of God i’ve known for a while, and just plain corn maze awesomeness! Seriously, corn mazes at night are fantastic. Loved it.So at this little outing, I was very encouraged, I had laughed so hard it hurt, and beat my good friend at an obstacle course game. (My favorite type of inflatable game.)

So all in all it was great. Great time, great friends, great God.

It was encouraging because there are times in my week where I just need to get out. Get out of the house, see new sights, or just the occasional brief change of scenery.
My life is pretty simple, nothing too amazing, nothing too terrible about it, it has its highs and lows just like anyone else. I wake up, I eat, I have school, I have work, I have plenty of things that keep me busy throughout the week.

But I’m sure there’s plenty of us who just need something more every now and then. What with the daily grind of life, and the times it seems just too monotonous and hopeless and you feel just plain down. (I don’t know about some of you, but that’s me a lot.)
So I tried to medicate the problem, asking myself:
“Do I need more time in my bible?”
“Do I need to sleep more?”
“Should I pray more?”

All those are good options, and we always need to make sure we’re getting a proper amount of each, but those didn’t seem to be the problem.
So usually at this point I begin to pray and ask Jesus for some wisdom in my predicament of (we’ll call it) loneliness.
Why do we feel lonely? Why as Christians do we say Jesus is enough and then turn around and feel lonely? Is it unbiblical to be lonely? Is it ok to feel even a little bit down?

These questions always run through my head. And, for me, the answer usually isn’t any I listed. (Although sleep is a legitimate problem at times I admit.)

The Answer? (For me at his point.)
It’s people.

Godly people Jesus has placed in my life to encourage and lift me up and show me Jesus through how we talk, laugh, and interact.

Community, The Body of Christ.

I’ve heard of many Christians who live lives thinking if they “need” people, or if people encourage them, it’s somehow an idol in their hearts and interactions should be strictly platonic, because, after all, shouldn’t Jesus be enough?
Well, yes, He should.
But, we’re really missing something. Jesus commanded us:

“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
~Hebrews 10:25

We see clearly in this verse to “all the more” seek the community of godly people, not neglecting it! How encouraging is that? We’re to have friends and love and serve people, and God does it for His glory and our good! (Romans 8:28)

Pretty encouraging! I was so encouraged seeing my friends this weekend and seeing how God’s been working in their hearts and minds, and I hope and pray anyone reading this would remember to seek out godly people for help and wisdom, and to find a good, bible-teaching Church to grow in community and service with other believers!

Seriously, when Jesus commands something of us, He knows best. So believe that and be encouraged!