When God Becomes our Satisfaction

My heart hasn’t had much of a desire for God and His word for a while now. Many days I would only pray that God would help me to want Him at all.

It’s a strange type of faith when you wake up in the morning, hoping that your spark of joy in Christ will be ignited. It’s almost like the joy is laying dormant, not necessarily gone altogether.

I don’t know if anyone has experienced this in their walk with Jesus, but it can be very discouraging. Wondering if there’s something wrong with you, wondering if God has abandoned you, wondering if your different sin struggles could have caused this.

As I wrestled with drawing near to God, i knew already that I was the one who moved. I’m the sinner, I’m the law-breaker, God didn’t become less amazing in the past few months, my own fallen self just wasn’t appreciating his Glory.

Something has changed in the last few weeks though. As I wrestled with some personal struggles, God used a combination of a music artist, a preacher, and His Word to grab hold of my heart.

He read from Jeremiah 2:13:

 

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We expect Jeremiah to give a laundry list of all the things they didn’t do right, all the things they need to work on, but instead we see something different. God says they have only committed two evils, they forsook God, and made cisterns of water that couldn’t hold any water.

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God’s using this powerful imagery to show them who the ultimate satisfaction is. The cisterns of false gods, food, money, power, sex, recognition, etc. were all cisterns that didn’t hold any water. In essence, even in the Old Testament we see God’s leading us to the heart of the issue: God and God alone can satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts. We can try to make relationships, money, and anything into a pseudo “cistern” but when we pour our satisfaction into it, it goes right through the bottom onto the floor. Left emptier than before.

And this has been my problem. As I’ve started my business, Iv’e felt a deep longing for financial stability, for recognition as a “business owner”, to have more freedom in my life. Though these can be good things, they’d slowly evolved into things I’d become obsessed with.

As my insecurity grew, and my idolatry turned to other things, I found myself medicating my idolatry with more idolatry, a broken cistern smashed into another. Many of us understand this vicious cycle, whether struggles with lust medicated with more lust, or desire for money medicated with visions of future financial success, or even personal insecurity turning to athletic races to gain self-worth.

All these things are worthless. They don’t satisfy. There are many more sins that I struggle with, but they’re all born of these two sins found in Jeremiah 2.

We forsake God. Whenever I want something more than Jesus, it’s an idol. Whenever I place my whole life into something other than Jesus, I become an idolater.

And God designed us this way, we were created for Him, we were created to enjoy Him above all things, and when we realize that nothing else satisfies our souls like pursuing and loving Jesus, we then find balance in the rest of our lives.

I’m slowly learning this on an upward climb to joy. I’m beginning to grasp it in little ways: being freed from worrying about clients because Jesus has purchased my eternal security on the cross, being freed of lust because God is far more beautiful than anything else in this created world, being freed of self-doubt, because God has my steps in His hands and has created me in His perfect purpose to accomplish His ultimate will.

These are only a few examples, and i haven’t lived them out perfectly, but God is working on my heart!

 

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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To The Slow Readers

Today I heard a very encouraging clip from John Piper from the “Ask Pastor John” podcast I subscribe to. He talks about how slow reading can be a discouragement to some, but it can also be seen as a gift to read slower and think deeper. When you think about it, you can’t speed-read notes, underlines, etc. So 15 minutes of deep soul-refreshing scripture or Christian book-reading can be far more beneficial than 15 minutes of fast speed-reading. There are always exceptions, but I’d encourage you to take a listen!

Click the picture for the link:

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Every Breath Is Your Ministry

In the midst of life and all of its insanity, iv’e come to realize more and more that all of it, every breath i take is ministry.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

Our circumstances have been a bit crazy lately, though the car is fixed, (which we are very thankful for!) many things are a still a mystery for the future. But that’s life, an opportunity to learn and grow even when things don’t go the way we want.

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Amidst it all God has been really renewing my faith in His total control. Though it may seem a bit counter intuitive, all the trials and stress have brought me back to the throne of the king who’s really in control of it all. And that’s been the biggest comfort to me, knowing that God keeps His promises. And understanding that even though I may not see the purpose now (or may never until eternity) He is still working all things for His glory and my good.

So really, life is one big ministry.

We live, we die, and what’s it all for? Or rather who’s it all for?

As I watched my wife and cousin play a crazy game of badminton (pictured below) I thought of Gods purpose in the little things. What are ways I glorify Christ while playing a game? How can I love my wife well in the midst of stress? How can I praise Christ in everything?

And that’s when I was reminded that life is my ministry20140720-160059-57659900.jpg. God placed me here for a specific purpose. He elected me, saved me, and gave me the desire I have for ministry, and all I want to do is give back. Give back to His work and not mine. And as I wonder how and what that is, I’m learning to trust Him with every breath I breathe, to give each one to Him and let Jesus do the rest.

As my good friend (kind of) Jon Foreman once said “Every breathe is a second chance” and I want to live for Christ in such a way that each breath I’m reminded of the second chance that Christ’s blood bought for me on the Cross.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to follow me if you’d like more life and ministry updates! I just reached 50 followers and I’m so thankful that what i’ve been writing has resonated with some.

 

 

 

Thoughts From Dever, Mineo, and Keller

As i begin my social media involvement (aka twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc) i find twitter to be rather interesting because of the bite-sized posts which must be summed up short and concisely. So to begin my little social blogging idea iv’e picked 3 quotes from prominent voices in 21st century evangelicalism and i’ll talk about how each quote has been true and applicable (or destructive and heretical) in my life personally.

These 3 gentlemen, John Piper, Mark Dever, and Andy Mineo all hold a somewhat prominent place in my life spiritually, Keller has great sermons that i learn a ton from and devers book “9 marks of a healthy church” has been personally helpful as i read it, and Mineo is one of my favorite rappers, speaking the truth through a somewhat unique art-form: hip-hop.

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Kinda funny huh? Just imagine, getting devoured, then spit out? All while being miraculously kept alive? A bit traumatic but kind of an interesting thought. How scary must that have been?! Wondering how long until he would die, wondering if god forsook him? All those things would’ve ran through my mind for sure.

But of course the message got across certainly. Jonah obeyed, and the fish swallowing him was all part of gods sovereign plan for ninevah and Jonah’s heart. Isn’t it encouraging knowing Gods in control even in the craziest of circumstances? He works on is in the most stressful of times.

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This one reminds me of the verse in hebrews that says “we do not have a high priest that cannot sympathize with us”. I find it so encouraging knowing Christ went through the same that we do, but to a greater (and more painful) extent. He cares through the pain because He’s been through it and understands perfectly-maybe even more so, then we do. So take heart knowing he knows and understand you.

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With the craziness of various religious practices of “holy prayers” or “holy icons” makes everything very complicated. Unbiblically so. Spiritual growth is certainly not complicated, but its very costly.

The simplicity of growth: staying in the Bible, prayer, and accountability, etc seems simple at face value, and it is to an extent, but the cost is great.

The cost is putting ourselves in the grave. Our fleshly desires that wage war in our mind and hearts and bodies. The cost of laying our hearts out to Christ is truly a great cost, after all, no one wants that kind of exposing of the soul, but thats what we’re asked for. Complete and utter dependance.

Some Encouraging Words

It’s almost like John gives us a bit of a pep-talk in the next few verses we’ll be reading. Reminds of Narnia where the war-cry was “for Narnia, and for Aslan!” and all broke out running to face the enemy.

Though a bit different that’s what these verses remind me of.

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children, 
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Once again John makes the reference to the Church he was writing to as “children” denoting most likely his older age and his wisdom to guide them. But instead of his usual “little children” he says: “dear children”. These next few lines you can imagine were written with much heart for the souls of the recipients. I love the encouragement.

  1. -Dear Children- He begins by making clear the foundation of the faith we hold. Remember this was right after he rebuked the people for being fakers who claimed Christ but still hated their brother. (See that post here) So after he gets things straight he begins to write of the purpose and hope for us. Namely, Christ. He writes because those in Christ are forgiven for his name’s sake (God’s glory, the purpose of salvation and everything). His purpose for writing was to make Christ’s name great by pointing out the work God’s done in their lives.
  2. -Fathers- He encourages fathers who “knew Him who is from the beginning”. Though I’m not 100% sure what the culture was like father-wise, John encourages fathers in their faith. They know Christ who is from the beginning. In many other places in the Bible, the father is the head of the home. So maybe John was encouraging fathers for knowing Christ and leading well. Just my thoughts though!
  3. -Young Men- I fit into this category. And John uses very fitting words for my generation. Words like “overcome” really resonate with us young men, we want to tackle something difficult and accomplish things with our lives. John uses fitting words of encouragment when He says: “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one”. Though I’m sure they all knew that it doesn’t mean we’re going to be sin-free, but it does mean we have victory over sin and the flesh because of Christ, whoever the young men were John was writing to, they were certainly showing signs spiritual maturity. John takes time to encourage them. Could someone say the same to me? Or you? Will you be the person to encourage someone you see growing and come alongside someone falling? John certainly took time to do so, and when we see growth, we should take time to encourage also. 
  4. -Dear Children- As I’m writing this, I wonder if “Dear Children” is referring to all of the categories listed. Maybe he was talking of some of the children, which he very well could be, we see in many of his other writings that John refers to a group of people many times as “little children”. So it could be these are for everyone on the list, which I personally think they are, but could very well apply to children also!
  5. -Young Men- He speaks of young men again using the vernacular that we can relate to: “because you are strong”. Notice the different wording for different groups? Fathers are given twice the same encouragement, that they know Christ. But young men are given encouragement of overcoming sin because they are strong and they can overcome. Obviously not strong in themselves, but strong in Christ. I’m sure the Holy Spirit did that for a reason. It certainly resonates with me!

These few verses are like an anthem for me. I imagine the recipients reading this in front of everyone and everyone being inspired to grow deeper in their walk with Christ. After exhorting them he encourages with strong descriptive words. I hope these verse encourage you also!

Grow deeper in Christ. Overcome sin by trusting Christ who is from the beginning, staying strong remember that in Christs forgiveness we can overcome the evil one.

Thanks for reading!

A Few Good Quotes

I love quotes. Just today my pastor coined a nice one saying:

“Even though you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s right to do it.”

Very true! I see the scriptural backup up when Paul said: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” (1st Cor. 6:12)

Quotes have been very helpful to me in years gone by. For example I still remember 2nd Corinthians 5:17 from the first year of Youth Group where we memorized scriptures throughout the year. Though I admit I forgot many, I still remember a lot to this day.

That single verse that’s ever so clear in my mind and heart really showed me the value both practically and privately of knowing the Bible when it’s not readily available. For instance when I would struggle with a certain sin I would quote that verse, reminding me that Christ has changed me and has made me new. I still quote it to myself today!

So in honor of the way God wired our brains to remember little thoughts better than longer ones I’ve compiled a list of 3 quotes that I’ve either heard or found that I’ve been encouraged by. I hope you will be encouraged also!

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”
-John Piper

I absolutely love this one. John Piper has been an inspiration to me in the last year, teaching me that God wants us to love Him and therefore glorify Him by being satisfied in Him and enjoying Him for who He is. Just as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not loving God with all their hearts, God is not most glorified in us when we don’t want Him. So genuinely wanting God is the key to all of the Christian life and ministry. If we genuinely want God (which is miraculous in of itself!), then everything else will fall into place (generally speaking).

“The idolatry that exists in a man’s heart always wants to lead him away from his Savior and back to self-reliance no matter how pitiful that self-reliance is or how many times it has betrayed him.”
-Matt Chandler

Quoted from one of his books I’m currently reading: “The Explicit Gospel” Matt Chandler tells things like they are. Yesterday I listened to a sermon where he preached out of Acts talking about how blunt God is with us. He tells us that we’re sinners and never once lies about the human condition. One great point from it was this: Would you respect a God that said while you were desperately wallowing in your sin: “nah man, you’re doing great! Just keep on keeping on, you’ll be fine!” No! God tells us who we are. We’re sinners. We need God, not ourselves. (See a theme in these?) We tend toward self-reliance when really what we need is reliance on God which ultimately satisfies.

“Stop looking for the path of least resistance and start running down the path of greatest glory to God and good to others, because that’s what Jesus, the Real Man, did.”
-Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll holds a special place in my heart. His sermon on dating being the very first sermon I had every listened to other than my local pastor. He opened me up into a world of good teaching on everything from life, money, marriage, dating, etc. This quote is so true because life isn’t about the “least resistance” the wasted life (as John Piper says) is not how hard it was but rather how much God was made glorious in it. Mark Driscoll has empowered many boys to be men (myself included) and to treat women with love and dignity and absolute purity. Though somewhat controversial as a pastor in some areas, his doctrine is solid and I’m thankful to Jesus for giving me a great resource early on in my walk with Christ.

So that’s all for today! I know many of these quotes aren’t a 3-point sermon, but I’ve found it helpful to have little quotes that represent God rightly in my head as nice little reminders of who He is and what He’s able to do through me. So I encourage you to memorize something. Maybe a verse, a chapter, or a quote from a Pastor. (hey, that rhymed!)

Anything that would bring you back to the Truth in Christ is something you should always have in your mind, reminding you how amazing He really is.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to “like” the Facebook page (on the right-hand side if you’re on a computer) for more updates and quotes like these! A few have and I’m encouraged by that!