Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rekindling, Supporting, and Encouraging

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her....." (Eph 5:25).

"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." (Col. 4:21).

"Because He himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb. 2:18).

It's three for one days at the Thought of the Day. The next set of milestones I am setting out for myself have to do with all of my relationships in life: my beautiful wife of 7 years come January 19, my son of 3 years, all of my family since I was born, and all the men and women I come into contact or relationship with as I go about trying to spread the Truth. Forget the chord of three strands, this is a cable of numerous strands and it will never break as long as Christ as at the center. Some strands may break, some may fray or become weak, still others will become stronger than ever when strained. All in all, it comes down to my relationship with Christ that will prove the strength of the cable. So here are my goals relationally for 2009:

1) Rekindle the passion in my marriage. How? The hundreds of ways I used to when we were dating. Send her love letters, write her poems, flowers, as many dates as possible, LISTENING, remain steadfast in our weekly night together, and many more.

2) Support my son through encouragement of his interests, involvement in his activities and passions (even though they may not be mine), dedicated play time every night that I am home with him, and exemplifying Christ both in his presence and away.

3) Lastly, encouraging all those I meet whether they know Christ or not. It takes more effort to break down than it does to build up. Through connection with people, Christ will shine through, I just know it in my heart. Believers or not, we all share the same struggles, temptations, and desires. I must not be afraid anymore to share the struggles of being human while seeking the face of Christ. How am I going to do this? Make the effort at least once a day to pray, call, e-mail, text or visit those who I am establishing a relationship with.

Wow, this year is going to be full. Hopefully it will be full of Christ, passion, and purpose. But my goals are not finished, tomorrow, on the first day of 2009, I will outline the easiest and most common goals that everyone shares: physical.

For those of you who follow this blog, I urge you to share your goals for the year here. All those who read them will be encouraged and pushed to set their own. And by sharing with everyone, we can be supported by the others to reach and achieve our very own milestones.

Trying to be a California wildfire,
Jesus Freak Out!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brain Dusting

"A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised" Prov.12:8.

Wisdom of this world and of Christ are 2 totally different things as we have discussed in previous posts. But, warped minds come in all shapes and sizes. And I can tell you that the television has an uncanny way of doing just that: warping our minds.

It's time to clean the dust off the synapses and begin exercising my mind. This means opening my mind to new points of view, criticism, and most off all, Christ. To do this, I must intellectually stimulate those brain cells that have been in hiding for a while. I used to love to read. Instead of reading, this past year I have found numb refuge in the television. It's a great way for me to unwind at the end of a day full of flying and students trying to kill me or help me on my way to a violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations. But, it is a mind crime to think that the television could substitute for something as pure and simple as reading. It's time to run for the bookshelf instead of the remote this year. Here are my goals for 2009 to help me keep my brain from atrophy:

1) Read one new book ever 2 to 3 weeks. Breaking this down, that's 17-26 new sources of information a year!

2) Read one chapter of the Bible each and every day. Really this shouldn't be all that difficult seeing as some chapters are shorter than a TV commercial to read. It's not like I am going to read Psalm 119 every night (check it out, 176 verses). While reading them, I am going to study them as best I can using other sources of information.

3) I am going to engage my wife or son (he's only three but way smarter than I was at that age), or a good friend in a conversation that pushes the limits of our spiritual and intellectual thinking without talking about politics. It's like a workout partner. I want to do this as often as possible. I don't have a definite milestone on this one.

Our minds are the only things that cannot be stolen from us by this world unless we give over the keys to them. I have almost lost my own mind control. It's time to wrestle it back from the screen and free think for Christ.

Knocking myself on the head with my ringfinger,
Jesus Freak Out!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time to Prepare

After a longer than expected hiatus from writing, I am now throwing myself back into it full force again. The holidays have been good and bad for me, but all in all, God has taught and still is teaching me some valuable lessons about how to live my life for Him and not myself. Most of all, I was hit in the face today at church. My life has no real plan right now. My plan is haphazard at best and I am still trying to find myself professionally, spiritually, and relationally. Over the next few posts, I am going to try and find my own purpose while working to help all of us find ours.

First and foremost, we must have a spiritual plan in our lives in order to keep our souls focused on the real purpose for our lives: living for Christ in all that we do. "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1Cor 10:31). This is way too broad to be a milestone, but it must be the driving force behind all that we plan and do. With this in mind, here are the spiritual milestones that I am setting for myself:

1) Open the door to a relationship with one new person a week inside or outside of church. That makes 52 people during the coming year that could potentially start a new relationship with Christ. Sweet! It's lofty but do-able.

2) Dedicate time each day with Christ. Read, study, and pray. It's that simple.

3) Hold true to a devotional with my wife and son once week. Family time is almost as important as time with God. It's time to move this to a higher priority level.

4) Keep this blog going for another year with posts at least three times a week, and six when possible. It's another lofty goal that other bloggers have told me is difficult......and it is. But, I know that through dedication and sacrifice, it can be done.

These are just my milestones written out for you all to see. Some I will meet, others I will fall short on, but I am going to try my best, doing all for His glory. I challenge each of you to do the same. Set your priorities in the right Light, and nothing is impossible.

Spring cleaning a few months early,
Jesus Freak Out!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Meaning of It All

I am posting for the first time in awhile. Life has been crazy with a move and Christmas and throughout all of this, I have finally found, on the eve of Christmas, why we do as we do: God and family. Something happened tonight that put me into a mood that I will not soon forget. My brother did not attend our family gathering for the first time in a while and I was upset. I wanted to give to him something he has not had in a long time: peace and solitude from all the commotion of life. He is a hard working, family loving man who has one of, if not, the toughest jobs on the planet: law enforcement. Of course I reacted in a way that was wrong and unjustified and I have sought his forgiveness. But that is the meaning of it all. That is the reason for this day each year.

"For God so loved the world, that he sent his only son, that whosoever should believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Our pastor used this same verse at church this evening, but I felt as though it needed repeating here. God sent His Son for our forgiveness. To think that I could not sacrifice my own pride for my brother, is downright criminal (no pun intended). And to think that God's sacrifice was not enough for the one I had to make tonight. I sought my brother's forgiveness after a long conversation and some tears. I try to love him without condition, for I am merely human, but will always love him, come what may. And so God loves us. He will not abandon us or forsake us. And he sent His Son into the world on this Christmas day as the sacrifice for us. And for me to be so bold...........God forgive me.

Please enjoy this time with family as there are many in the world tonight who cannot spend it with theirs. Family and God: often times, they are the only things that we have to solely rely upon. I did not mean for this to be downtrodden. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. Celebration with family and joy in their presence. Joy in our lives knowing that our Savior was born on this day and celebration in His reason for coming to this earth. Thank you Father for your sacrifice. Thank you Jesus for your life!

Merry Christmas,
Jesus Freak Out!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Walk Away

First, I will be back this week on a limited basis. It's Christmas, we moved and we are trying to get settled, so it will be sporadic. For today though, I want to thank my friend Neal's beautiful wife April for this next post. She is one heck of a writer. Check out her BLOG.

Most of the time, when we read stories of “God calling,” we focus on what God’s call cost the men and women who obeyed. God’s call cost Abraham security with his family; God’s call cost Esther comfort in her position of authority; God’s call cost Mary her reputation; God’s call cost Paul his freedom and eventually his life. The cost is usually what we pay attention to.

There is an untold story, though, that is absolutely essential if we are going to maintain life-long consistency in responding to God’s call. It’s after the call. It’s after the struggle of whether to heed and obey. It’s after the adrenaline-rushing moment of others realizing what you’re doing. It’s after the attention goes from you to God. It’s after the sense of yes!-it-was-worth-it.

It’s the walk away.

When God calls, he calls us toward something. It may be a physical move to another city, it may be a changed habit, it may be a shift in the dynamics of a relationship, it may be a form of denying yourself. In the act of moving towards that something, we are walking away from something else.

When the dust settles, when the decision is made, when the words have been spoken, we find ourselves a little further from the norm and from what’s socially accepted. Although we’re closer to God than ever before, there can still be a sense of loneliness. The friends who once partied with you cannot understand why you won’t. The coworkers you used to gossip with don’t even include you in regular conversation because of your change. Even Christian friends aren’t comfortable with your new convictions and are quick to drop a sarcastic line to let you know.

It’s in the walk away from our old lives that we must be on guard from a fearsome enemy—pride. It was pride that we wrestled with in order to initially obey God. And now pride will try to seduce again. This time, it’s in the form of spiritual pride. After answering God’s call and embracing the change, pride will try to offer us comfort for our loneliness. Spiritual pride soothes the ego and feeds an us-versus-them mentality. It encourages us to judge the ones who haven’t walked away or answered a similar call. The worse thing about spiritual pride is it keeps us from drawing near to God with our pain.

The difference between Paul and the Pharisees that Jesus condemned was simply in the walk away. Paul left family, left political and religious positions of authority, and left places of comfort all in responding to God’s call. When he walked away from those things, he bathed himself in humility and filled his heart with praise for God. He never forgot where he came from. The Pharisees, however, in their acts of righteousness, succumbed to spiritual pride during the walk away. Both Paul and the Pharisees knew the word of God. Both obeyed and made great sacrifices. The difference? One kept worshipping when the miracle was over and the other boasted of its success.

When God calls, we are blessed in our obedience. The Father smiles, the hosts of heaven pause and the world takes note. When the moment is over, though, we are wise to guard our hearts from pride. It’s not only our moving towards what God calls us to that counts as worship. It’s also in the walk away.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Movin' On Up

I just want to let everyone know that I will be taking a break for the next week from posting. My wife, son and I are moving into a new townhome and this week is going to be non-stop busy moving small things all week, big things on Saturday, and then cleaning the old place on Sunday. On top of that, we will be attending all the fun Christmas-time events in between and working. I am going to try and get a few guest posts up for the week, but it is going to be hit and miss. I will begin anew come next Monday. Until then, be safe, and keep on reaching out to those who do not know Christ as this is a time and a season where they need Him most.

With love,
Jesus Freak Out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Excellence in All We Do

I am not trying to tout on my work ethic here, but ever since I started working, I tried to be the best I could at anything I was doing, whether it was fueling airplanes at the local airport in college or prosecuting my unit's little corner of the War on Terror in Afghanistan. It's a pride thing with me that I have to get over, but I always wanted to be better than the next guy. I always wanted to be the BEST!

Now, let's apply this to our walks with Christ. As we live out our lives, hopefully with the guidance of God, we must strive to be the best at everything................for HIM! Too many times, and I am probably the most guilty, we try to be the best for someone or something else, beit ourselves or those who have power over us. Our priority is skewed. Proverbs 16:3 sums up in 12 words how we should look upon our labors daily and for the kingdom: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." It's that simple. If we do everything as if we were doing it for Christ himself, then how can it go wrong?

Now, don't take this as if I am saying that nothing could possibly fall short just because we are doing it for Him. What I am saying is, our outlook on life will change dramatically because our priority is on God and not on ourselves. When we serve ourselves, good comes for a short while but it cannot be sustained because we see failure through our own eyes. When we serve God, good will come forever because our success or failure is not measured in human terms. When we fail with God, we still win because we learn and grow. When we fail with only ourselves, we just fail and most of the time we can't see the forest for the trees.

Dusting the TV screen for a better persepective,
Jesus Freak Out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Service Before Self

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I got the funk and could barely stay awake last night. So on with it.....

The next core value that we lived our Air Force life by was Service Before Self. As we can easily see here, this is and should always be the mantra and ethic of a Christ follower. Our service to Christ, to our fellow follower, to those who do not yet have a relationship with Him should always come first before even ourselves. This society we live in is all about looking out for Number 1. Our number one should be God in the whole scheme of living for Christ. Service, just as Jesus exemplified through the washing of His disciples feet at the Last Supper, is the ultimate sacrifice we can make.

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty" (Prov. 11:24 NIV).

We must give of the time, money, talents, and work ethic that God has given us. Remember, it is not ours. It is on loan from God to serve His purposes. Service Before Self is not just a mantra, it's an attitude change.

Getting over myself to serve,
Jesus Freak Out!