Category Archives: God/Living

Church vs The Gym …It’s not what you think

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You might wonder how someone like myself, with a background that would make just about any normal person scream “geek” (which I happen to actually take as a compliment) would enjoy so much time at, and put so much effort into, what I do at the gym. I have crazy hours, even people out on the west coast would find my hours on some days of the week a bit rough. I spend a lot of time around computers at school, as a hobby, and as a job. I spend many more hours than the average person would in a week playing video games online with others. I have a custom built PC that I built myself and its specs are far beyond anything you will ever find just sitting around in someone’s living room as a “family” computer. But if you know me, you know that is just one side of me, you know that an even bigger passion for me is knowing and living for Christ, and when it comes to church life and ministry I could almost build myself a separate resume from my IT one. It’s not a secret to me, I don’t deceive myself, I know full well the shortcomings of life in world and the vanity and emptiness of all it’s trappings. I don’t wish for ignorance, and I certainly don’t desire to willingly and knowingly ignore that knowledge and pretend it’s a great place to hang out in. However, I also know full well how things function inside what we call “church”, our culture has managed to take what the Bible intended to be something that we are, and turn it into place that we go to. What was supposed to be the means by which followers of Christ could come together and corporately enjoy his presence and use as a stepping stone to build community with one another, we have turned into a bi-weekly “event”. I know how it goes, and I’ve been a part of that problem myself, I am not just some unknown person looking in from the outside with no knowledge of whats really happening and making some artificial judgement.I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and there isn’t a single one that I wish any malice or will ill towards, but I do wish some of them would wake up and set aside their “bias” or “preferences” on Church and see what it is according to the Word of God instead of just what their Pastor or some Church leader tells them it is. The church should be the light of the world, and in each and every community that there is a localized branch of the body of Christ we should see the hurt healed, the lost saved, and the God’s glory revealed, I realize that however correct or factual or truthful that might be, it is a tall order for a bunch of humans, I get that, I’m not saying anything to the contrary here, believe me.

 Now I’m sure that my desire to “name names” and “point fingers” as some probably see it, may cause some folks to be offended so I apologize in advance if referring to the specific region of GA that I live in reference to this issue/post offends you But, I’ve noticed that especially in the area of GA that I now reside, in the church is where I see the most conflict, the most hurt, and its where I see the most tension. In the gym, though, that’s where I find the most acceptance, outside of my small circles of technology and gaming minded acquaintances its where I feel the most at ease. See the 45 pound weights don’t care how nicely dressed I may or may not be. They don’t care if I am pre, mid, or post trib, and they don’t care if I am a UGA Bulldogs fan or an Alabama fan, When I get on that elliptical and crank up the resistance and work up a good sweat and really get my blood pumping the machine doesn’t care what I do for a living, it has no idea what translation of the bible I prefer or whether I listen to contemporary or traditional Christian/worship music. For that matter , nether does anyone in the gym, I can have a conversation about the weather or a certain exercise, or maybe just encourage someone that I see trying to go for some new personal best in what they are lifting. I might find myself in need of some encouragement and I know that in the gym, we have a sort of loosely connected, unspoken, community. I walk into a church though, and I get invited to a “fish fry” but I’m not a huge fan of fish, and especially not fried food at all, so I politely decline, and automatically the looks start. I show up on a Wednesday night and all anyone wants to talk about is Sunday’s college football game, but I don’t really follow sports and I’d much rather talk about something that revolves around technology or gaming, or even better yet, I’d really love to talk to my brothers and sisters in Christ about God, about the things we are experiencing in our relationship with Jesus, yeah, I’d love a nice long, in depth and intelligent conversation on that topic. I don’t  mean I want to sit down with my pastor or some great theologian about how “transubstantiation correspond to the ecclesiastical movement to eschatological events” I mean just normal, conversation about whats going on. It doesn’t mean it has to turn into a prayer meeting followed up with an altar call and some misguided believer getting “saved” again, just normal conversation about what should be the single most important thing in our lives as believers that well share in common.

 This is why sometimes I prefer the gym over going to church, I can still pray, read my bible, listen to worship music and hear from God without setting one foot inside the door of a church building…I sure do miss that sense of community though, it’s true that in the gym there is almost a something that slightly resembles community but its not eve close to a cheap imitation of what I should be able to have with my brothers and sisters in Christ….then again, I’m there, I’m in the gym, who say’s I’m the only follower of Christ that enjoys some heavy lifting ?

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“Hey Rocky, Don’t Forget The Cinnamon Twists”

The other day, I decided to have a bit of a “cheat meal” , see with how I eat, I don’t have a “cheat day” I just have certain days now and then where 1 or 2 of my meals are “cheat meals”, a whole day of eating that way would be ridiculous. I went to Taco Bell and hit up the drive thru, they forget my cinnamon twists even though it was on the receipt in the bag of food they handed me. This made me think ” if people can’t even handle cinnamon twists how do they expect to ever be entrusted with something bigger or more” (like, $15 /hr)  I’ve noticed something though, these days it’s almost as if society itself feels entitled to almost everything, as if it is the responsibility of the whole world to give them whatever they want/need without having to do anything to work for it. Life is rough, like Rocky said in Rocky Balboa “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life”. But there are people out there that want to be like Rocky, they want to be the “champ” they want that title belt but they don’t want to fight for it, they don’t wanna take any hits for it. They want what they haven’t earned and don’t deserve.

There are people out there from all walks of life that have learned to remember those cinnamon twists, they figured out that if they find themselves starting out asking “do you want fries with that” it’s ok, because they are just starting, they aren’t staying. Maybe its college that ends in a degree and a nice paying job in an office, or maybe it’s starting their own business, or maybe it’s becoming the very best they possibly can with some skillset and getting paid for that, but either way they are not planning to make a career out of where they are now. And how they carry themselves and how they perform this beginning they are in reflects that. It’s confidence that stems from the knowledge that as they learn to master where they are now, as they learn to do these smaller, simpler things, with excellence, it prepares and equips them for the next level. They understand that they are laying a foundation on which they will build everything that follows. There’s another kind of people out there though, the kind that can’t remember the cinnamon twists. It’s not because they aren’t capable of it, though some of them may even wrongly believe that to be the case. It’s more because they don’t want to, because they are willing to settle with where they are and make it permanent. They don’t want to do what is required to move beyond this beginning point, they don’t want to be able to handle or be expected to handle, anything more. Because of this they settle in, and then they start wanting things like $15 /hr., because even though they are unwilling to confront and become all that they must to reach that next level, to go to that next point. They still realize that the barely more than minimum wage pay they are getting will not be enough to live off of for long; they can’t have kids and support a family on that pay. Somehow even though they are unwilling to do what warrants the kind pay they want or need, even though they can’t remember the cinnamon twists, they still want to get paid like the ones that do.

Obviously even though my personal experience at Taco Bell was literal, by now I hope you’ve realized that the concept of forgetting the cinnamon twists is figurative. I can’t explain exactly what it represents, because it’s so much of a concept, and a general attitude more than any particular or definitive, tangible thing that you can point to. But if comes down to this: not giving up, keep moving forward, don’t expect someone else to earn it all for themselves and then just give it to you because you just gave up and stayed where you were. I know it’s difficult and often scary and uncomfortable, especially at first, and its ok to need help, it’s alright if you can’t be a one man army that single-handedly defeats all the challenges and things that life throws at you. Others can help you; it doesn’t weaken you or make you less of a person if they do. But it’s like Rocky Said, “it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done” Rocky had Mick, he had his wife Adrian, at times even Pauly was almost helpful. But he knew that when he climbed into that ring and that bell was rung, no matter how much help he had received, no matter how much encouragement or support he got from that group, the fight was up to him, HE had to take those hits, block those punches, and return fire!! He had to keep moving; Mick couldn’t climb in that ring and do it for him. He remembered the cinnamon twists, for him it was applying all of his training, it was keeping in his mind all those things he was fighting for, if we want to win we have to remember that ultimately its US that will have to do that work, fight that fight, we are the ones that have to remember those cinnamon twists, we still have to make the choices and we still have to be the ones to carry out the actions, there is no way around it.


Created? For Real?

I can see how some may not think it worth much to care whether there is truly a creator or not, or if by cosmic chance and evolution we are here, but consider this, if there is no creator we just all “evolved over millions and millions of years” then we can do whatever we want in our life, nothing more than the immediate consequences and we get to decide whats truly right for us and whats wrong for us BUT if God is indeed real and is the creator of the heavens and the earth that changes EVERYTHING, because then the bible is true, cover to cover, genesis to revelation, then that means there is a right and wrong way to live and there ARE eternal consequences for our actions, people would have to stop doing whatever they want, admit they are wrong for how they live, work hard to live according to God’s ways and not whatever whim the culture of the day goes for.

 

But the only problem with that is ignorance and denial may bring a feeling of peace and relief temporarily but they wont actually change the truth. That’s the difference between God and his word vs the culture of this world, its un changing it doesnt morph to suit the needs of the people, its not designed to make you “feel good” , although the joy that comes from living in the truth, in knowing God, is better than any temporary happiness this world can ever muster. But I digress, if all creation is just that, creation, then there must be a creator. If God created everything then Genesis must be true, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” , but then that would mean that evolution is incorrect? YES, there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up, and unlike their counterparts in the pro evolution camp they aren’t trying to suppress or cover up the information from the other side out of fear. Because at the root of all this we find 2 things, Pride and Fear…now Pride is something we have to deal with it, its that human nature that wants to be prideful and boastful thinking it somehow can or has done something incredible significant in this world/universe, then Fear, the great paralyzer, the antidote to fear is faith. Now these are connected in such a core way, think about it, if the Christians and all the pro creation or “anti evolution” folks are right, imagine what that would mean for everyone else who had been living as though they were wrong? On the other hand, if all the Pro Creation/Anti evolution and Christians are wrong, then what have we really lost? missed out on some fun maybe but thats about the worst of it, since after all there is no creator so if God isnt real there arent eternal consequences and they can go and start making up for lost time…think about it.


What I Have Learned Of The True Meaning Of Following Christ

As a teenager I used to think following Christ was all about having a t shirt with the right saying on it for the right moment and going to church every Sunday and wed and almost every time the doors were open, or making sure I had my “quiet time” and “said my prayers” now as an adult…on the edge of becoming 28 soon, I realize, I get ME into more trouble, more adventures and more awkward moments than any of my peers ever could, and I have found that following Christ is about what goes on in my life, from my work ethic to the way I treat someone of another faith or ethnicity, it’s been about going into the woods and checking on that group of homeless people in the frigid cold to see if they needed anything even though all you could have provided was whatever you could afford to get them yourself, which meant maybe some cheap firewood or some cheap thermals from Wal-Mart.

It’s about the adventure of taking a trip, whether it be into town or around the world, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people because the thought of a place where God is not known and glorified is concerning. The thing is, most of what I have learned , not because i read a book, or prayed out loud at some prayer meeting, or spoke in tongues or prophesied or heard a really dynamic speaker deliver a captivating and inspiring sermon, but rather I have learned from the things God has done in my life, adventures in my times with ministries like Project 1 reaching the Homeless in the Douglas County/Douglasville area, or taking mission trips to Honduras with FrontLine Missions, or the time I spent in FTC (Fulfill The Call) ministry school, or the great debates and conversations I have had with my good friends Josh Garvey and Manny Badeau who were never afraid to disagree or present a different perspective on something. See those are the things that have shaped who I am and influence how I am, there is a lot both good and bad that has happened over the last few years, and I am really excited about what could possibly be to come, the adventures that await, because I know what I have already learned and experienced, and the thought that there is even more out there? I firmly believe life was meant to be an adventure, I have never been satisfied with the same ole thing, the 9 to 5 “the usual”, that’s far too plain and boring and uneventful for me and with where God will surely lead me in the years to come I sincerely doubt I will have to worry about anything being mundane or average

 

 


I have a plan for you…and some random thoughts

Last night, as I walked to end of our rather long driveway to take out the trash, I looked up at the sky and noticed what a beautiful, clear and starry night it was. As I looked at all the stars I spotted a constellation or two, most notably Orion The Hunter. And as I looked up at this great big sky with all these stars, more stars than I could have counted in an entire night, I realized how great and awesome they were, and just the idea that these great big balls of gas in space are so far away we still have not found a way to even travel close enough to explore them first hand other than by some probe or space telescope. Yet despite being so far away we are able to perceive them with our own eyes as these bright dots in the sky. Even more amazing is we still are only beginning to scratch the surface of exactly what “space” out there beyond our planet, in which all these stars seem to hang, is made of. Now taking all this into consideration , how amazing and how powerful, must God truly be to have created it all? He placed every star in the sky , he set the boundaries of this planet and that planet, he set Earth in just the right place/distance from our sun, any further it would be extremely and bitterly cold, too close and we would burn up. God knew EXACTLY where to place us, and whats even more amazing is that as big and great as God is, as powerful as he is, God desires to be in a relationship with us, as insignificant and small as we are, he made us to show us his goodness, that we might experience God in all that he is, that he could be glorified by us witnessing Him. Not only that, he promises us that he has great plans for us, plans that are for our benefit.

Now  God never did promise us that things would go smoothly and perfectly 100% of the time, and I don’t think that myself or any other believer actually thought that he did, but somehow there is this unspoken expectation that everything would go according to plan, we would never skip a beat, all would go off without a hitch….or at least that is what we WANT to happen, however unreasonable that expectation may or may not be.

The real interesting thing though, is that even if things DON’T go as planned, even if there are obstacles that crop up, problems, or even failures along the way in life, it’s not the end of it all. God promised us in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ” the key point here is that God has his own plans for us, and those are the ones he is going to carry out. It’s our own plans trying to accomplish something other than what God wants that often causes so much friction and stress in our lives.

God has this great plan for us and I would believe its a wild and adventurous plan, a great big plan. After all we do serve a great big God don’t we?

 

 


Did God really just do that? Yes, yes he did

I love the story of Gideon (no not the guy that left that bible in your hotel room) … In Judges 6 there he is hiding out, using the wine-press for thrashing wheat to hide from the Midianites and an Angel of the Lord appears and says “The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor” and Gideon feels he should point out some basic facts like hey his clan/tribe isnt the biggest and baddest in Israel, and he is kinda the runt of the litter…if you read on you find he wipes the floor with the Midianites, he does it with about 300 men (I sense a good movie in there) but wow talk about calling that which is not as though it already was, Praise God, he comes to each of us and calls us a mighty warrior.

We all have those struggles in our lives, we have to fight that fleshly/worldly old nature that sometimes forgets its dead already, we have this world and all the garbage it throws at us too, man, its rough sometimes…Im serious, ask anyone from the most prominent evangelist to the guy that just got saved last week, is it any wonder sometimes when God calls to us we do a double take, almost as if to say “what, me Lord? you must have the wrong person, don’t you know….” But if there is anyone who truly shows us the power of speaking life or death over a situation, even in a more literal sense, its God. God has a plan, his will includes us doing stuff for the kingdom, and while its true that at that exact moment the facts we state might be very true of us, God made everything out of nothing, in fact he spoke it!! , he used a boy and 5 smooth stones to kill a 9foot tall warrior, he made the stand still, parted seas, rose people from the dead…yeah..the facts dont really mean much to Him haha, he speaks TRUTH, and the truth is that God speaks in a way as to declare truth, truth that we just haven’t realized yet. He calls that which is not as though it already was!! He does this because it is who God says we are that determines our identity as Christians.

Its just like Roman 4:17 says it is, its like when God calls you a mighty warrior…BAM!! right then and there, you are now a mighty warrior, as if he literally calls it into existence. We live in such a wonderful, marvelous and upside down and inside out kingdom, so today, rejoice and remember, God has called you his Children, he sees you as the mighty warrior like Gideon, our fight may not be against flesh and blood but its certainly one heck of a fight and in this fight the weaker and less capable we are on our own, according the worlds standard and the more dependent on God we are the greater the things he can and WILL do in us and through us!!!


Milk and Meat, “Am I right with Jesus” or “how now should I live”

as believers we need to move on from the “am I right with Christ” this is something that should be firmly established in our lives, this is the milk of our spiritual walk and not the meat, we should be moving on to developing and seeing fruit, fruit in the ministry God has given us and fruit in the sense of the fruit of the spirit in our lives, if we are so focused on a “am I right” mentality, we will be wasting so much time doubting and re

affirming our faith we can easily become of little use to the kingdom, while its true we need to check ourselves, Id be very careful with the phrasing “am I right with Jesus” or “is my heart right with Jesus” …are you a christian? then let us move on from these foundational and elementary truths of salvation and let us press on into the meat of the gospel and put our focus on living and producing fruit instead, if we offend God or perhaps commit something wrong then by all means let us rectify that as soon as we are made aware. But it is nearly impossible to focus intently on salvation and being made right with God over and over again, and at the same time focus on moving past that to a state where one finally understands “I am a Christian, I have received salvation and been made right with God now, my sin has been dealt with, I must now pursue living as such and no longer as one seeking salvation and right standing with God over and over again” In Ephesians 4:17 through the rest of the Chapter Paul talks of the importance of how we should live, not a regular occurrence of something that so closely resembles the act of “getting saved” on a daily or weekly sort of basis. Even Christ himself put a great deal of emphasis on what the kingdom of Heaven was like and instead of what it was not like.

 

Again using Paul the apostle as an example, the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Corinthians is a sort of checklist of things that should be showing up in our lives, we can never hope to mature in our faith and grow in intimacy with God if the extent of our relationship is a sort of daily “is my heart right” there is the concept of accountability issue between believers which is a wonderful biblical concept to keep us aware of our faults and provide support to improve them, the problem though , I fear, is beyond a simple issue of semantics, its something deeper, there is something very specific and pointed about the wording of “is my heart right with Jesus” and I don’t mean the difference between some sort of new or old school preaching style. That phrase strongly indicates dealing with a sin and salvation issue, which for a sinner is wonderful, for one who lacks an intimate relationship with Christ, still an enemy of God and friend of this world such a thing MUST be dealt with before anything else can be done in their life , for God. But for a believer, for one who knows Christ and strives to live according to how the scriptures describe the Kingdom of Heaven and how our Lord and Savior laid out the way in which, and standards by which, we should live, it seems like going backwards and a hindrance to growth to teach one another to continually check that condition of that. We are to grow strong in Christ, to mature in our faith by developing the disciplines needed to live as Christ has commanded us to live and to learn to gravitate away from desires and practices of this world and towards those of God through the help and fueling of the Holy Spirit.

 

I would strongly question a teaching that puts a strong emphasis on something so elementary and so much the spiritual milk at the point of neglecting moving forward and deeper into the teachings contained in the bible that lead to Spiritual maturity, stability, and growth

 

*These words contained in this message here are my opinions, they are based on Scripture and personal experience, professional education obtained on church ministry, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit…anyone is welcome to disagree, agree, give approval or disapproval or otherwise share your opinions on this…should anyone feel inclined to disagree please be aware that I may counter and disagreement and do not be offended if such a thing occurs