Modern life doesn’t give us as many opportunities to spend time with people and connect with them, at least in person, compared to, say, 80 years ago or 100 years ago,” Twenge told New York Magazine. She also pointed to millennials’ tendency to desire fame and money as a possible contributing factor. “There’s clear evidence that people who focus on money, fame and image are more likely to be depressed and anxious,” she said. But another study, also led by Twenge, may offer another clue. Not only is belief in God at an all-time low, but the amount of people who say they pray is five times less than the number of individuals who prayed in 1980.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 CEB) http://bible.com/37/pro.3.5-6.ceb
There has been one constant since God created the heavens and the earth, we have a lot going on. With all that is going on that usually brings two things: anxiety which brings stress. We are always so worried about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. We have an aversion to seeing what is now, because we are controlled by what has been done to us, what we have done and what will be done.
We don’t trust anything, let alone God.
When we are controlled by anxiety, stress, and distrust that leads to a life of fear, and we absolutely controlled by fear.
Fear is not the life that God wants us to live. It is not the desire that He has for us, there is so much more that He wants for us.
Some of you like me have heard that about God all our lives and when we hear it still we cannot comprehend a day without fear. Largely because we think that we are in control of our lives and everything we have is because of ourselves and our will to get it. You can’t live the life that God desires for us.
Think about this for a moment. God himself had to die to give us what we truly need. Even God in all His perfect glory and majesty didn’t just give us that life, but He sacrificed living in Heaven and came to earth and died a brutal death on the cross. Even God had to sacrifice so He could give.
In that He is teaching many things, but most of all that the life that God desires for us is not freely lived, freely given yes, but we must die to ourselves to live into this desire that God died for us to have.
I have a bracelet that I wear everyday, in fact I never take it off. That and my wedding ring are the two things that I never take off. Here is a picture of both of them:
I always wear these two things because it is a reminder of what truly defines my life. First and foremost I am no longer my own, but I am God’s and everything that I want for my life doesn’t matter, but what God wants for my life supercedes my desire. Secondly, my commitment to my wife to be her partner in everything, in marriage, in ministry, and in life. What’s most important between these two things is that God’s will is primary in both commitments. For the best life possible to truly happen in my life and in my marriage to Amy Christ HAS to be the CENTER. The three rings symbolize that. That at the center of everything: life, marriage, and all that is Christ is and has to be the center.
No matter where you are, what you are going through I submit to you to trust in the Lord with all your heart. This is your choice and that is the point. Trusting is a choice. It’s all a choice, but its the best choice you will ever make.
Live in that Trust.
I have been planning for this weekend for longer that I thought I was.
This weekend the Heights Youth Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC where I am blessed to be the Director of Youth Ministry is having a retreat at our church for our youth to deepen in their faith, their identity in Christ, and their call to live a full life in love and grace. The actual retreat have been on my mind ever since I started at Arlington Heights.
Teenagers need an experience away from school, family, and stress of life to focus completely on God. We all need that, but it is crucial to have that experience in your adolescence, because these experiences ground you in the only identity that you should concern yourself with.
I am additionally blessed that I have the pleasure to lead this retreat with a co-speaker, Jason Weaver, my best friend, my brother in arms. We have always dreamed what it would be like to do ministry together and this weekend we finally get to experience what crazy ministry God is going to do. Even more so our worship team is a team of two of my other brother in arms. Joseph Cisneroz and Timothy Miler. It’s a scary thought the four of us together, but nonetheless I am excited.
Personal moment over.
What I need from you is prayers. We have over 15 students coming to stay with us this weekend from Arlington Heights and I want you to pray for them consistently through the weekend. Pray for them to cast aside all distractions and to focus completely on God and God alone this weekend. Pray that God rocks our souls with His mighty love and grace and that through that they cement their identity in God.
It’s going to be amazing to see what God does in us, through us, and thankfully in spite of us.
Bring your mess, bring your brokenness, because all Christ wants is you. We find this new life, this new love at the cross, because we cannot get to easter unless we go through the cross. As hard as the cross was Jesus endured it for you and for me. And yes there will be trouble in this life, but because of Christ we will not be defined by our brokenness or our mess, we are defined by the mercy on the other side.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of[b] the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners,[c] so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NRSV)
Yesterday was a hard day. This past weekend a tragedy struck the community of Benbrook, TX with the death of two young girls that left this world all too soon and last night at Arlington Heights UMC we opened our doors to the family to give them a memorial service for the two young girls.
In the midst of the memorial service I thought of this scripture that I had been trying to write a post for all day, but for some reason never got around to it. Barbara Brown Taylor one of my favorite authors once this following quote in an interview Flycatcher Journal.
Thin places are transparent places or moments, set apart by the quality of the sunlight in them, or the shadows, or the silence, or the sounds—see how many variations there are? What they have in common is their luminosity, the way they light an opening between this world and another—I’d say “between this world and the next,” but that makes it sound like one world has to end before the next one can begin, and a thin place doesn’t work like that. It works to make you more aware of the thin veil between apparent reality and deeper reality. It works to pull aside the veil for just a moment, so you can see through.
The author of Hebrews is illustrating for us a thin place in Hebrews 12. A place where we are cognizant of more than we can physically see. I have felt this type of place two times in my life, when my Papaw (my dad’s father) and when my grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away and I was at their bedside in their last moments. Words can’t express these moments, but there is a tremendous feeling of community in these moments. It’s when God blurs the lines between Heaven and Earth that we truly see who God is, when Jesus was born and when He died on the cross.
Just like my previous experiences, last night I felt a tremendous community among us, a priesthood of all believers, a cloud of witnesses that were and are with us in all times of our lives, but sometimes I guess its more thick, or more apparent than others. These moments are precious gifts to us from God himself, saying that we are not alone and we are never alone. And we never will be.
It’s Holy Week and Easter is coming, but Easter is not here yet and its in these moments that we need to realize more and more that to get to Easter you have to go through the Cross. There is no other way. Why does it have to be this way? No, it’s not because God wants us to feel pain before we feel love, it’s because God wants us to know that even though there is pain, anguish, and death, that God has the last word.
Not even death will have the last word.
As it turns out as Frederick Buechner says, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.”
So, wherever you are, whatever you are doing know that God is bigger than what you are facing, and God and God alone will have the last word, and that word is Love. Because that is the whole point. Jesus came and died not for himself, but that we, through Him would have life and have it to the fullest. Not just exist, but to live life fully now and forever.
So let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.