Why I still sleep with a night light…

E.T. the Extraterrestrial

e.t.

When I was really young I use to share a room and a bunk bed with my brother. One night I had just closed my eyes and fallen asleep when my brother started screaming.

Sean: “E.T. is moving by the door!”(We had a stuffed E.T. toy laying on the floor by our door.)

Me: (given the fact that I had plenty of reasons to doubt the supernatural) “Be quiet, you’re annoying me.”

Sean: “He’s moving, I swear.”

Dad enters the room: “What’s going on? Y’all need to go to sleep. It’s getting late.”

I was a good big brother at this moment and went on to explain to my dad that I was trying to get some shut eye but the little one below me was yelling and being a big ol’ baby because he thought a stuffed alien was moving. My dad picks up the little alien and moves him around to show us that it’s just a toy. Then, my dad of course tells us to be quiet and go to sleep.

Five or ten minutes passed and once again my brother began screaming. Pretty much the same dialogue happened. My brother was really scared, I was really annoyed, and my dad acted like he was confused as to why there was so much commotion. It got quiet again but this time I didn’t roll over and fall back asleep. I sat up and I watched E.T.

A few more moments passed and sure enough… it moved.

Sean and I: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Dad help, E.T. is moving!!!!”

We were scared out of our minds. Up until this point in my life I didn’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural. I was immediately overwhelmed and overcome by fear.

My dad bursts in the door and says, “Guys, it’s alright… I’ve been messing with you.” He goes on to explain how he had fishing line tied to the doll and that he was moving him from outside our door to scare us. Let’s skip past how traumatized I was from this and how I now sleep with a night light at the age of 24 and get to a practical lesson.

  • I doubted because I wasn’t looking.
  • I refused to believe my brother.

I want to talk about doubt. I think many churches and Christians face the same problem. They dive into some recommended apologetics. They cry out in prayer. They come to church and sing worship songs, but still they doubt. I had doubt too. I doubted that an inanimate object could move until I opened my eyes and waited for it to move.

I think we are looking in the wrong place. We fail to see God moving in front of us because we are trying to drift off into sleep. In a society of leisure and comfort we have closed our eyes. I think the story of the moving doll teaches us two things.

Choose to Look Around You

Romans 1:19-20 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Miracles exist all around us. The idea that we are walking around on a floating and rotating rock that circles around a huge fiery ball of gas is nothing short of miraculous. The fact that people are healed inexplicably in hospitals when they should have died. When you start talking about how I have an amazing wife (Yes, this is a true miracle.) Miracles are all around us.

Have you ever wondered why mosquito bites itch? Before a mosquito bites you they inject you with some of their saliva that helps them to get blood quicker. The saliva itself has an assortment of anticoagulants that keep your blood thin and flowing really nice. After the mosquito flies off it leaves a little of the saliva and your body then releases antibodies which further go to release histamine which is a nitrogen compound that causes an inflammatory response. Without the saliva from the mosquito your blood would clog up inhibiting the mosquito from ever getting any of your blood in the first place.

Something as simple as this is one out of a billion examples of how there are all these little miracles taking place all around us without even being aware.

Believe in the Existence of God

There are Christians crying out every day, “Jesus lives. God heals. The Spirit leads.” But, much like me in the E.T. story, nonbelievers turn their back and refuse to believe.

Hebrew 11:1-3 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

God doesn’t always reveal Himself in blatant movement like the E.T. doll from my past. Rather, He being that which can’t be seen, reveals Himself in the things that can be seen. We are because He was and always will be. We can because He already did.

I’m not saying believing is easy. I know there are people that will have doubts from time to time. But, I think that you have to understand everything about Christianity isn’t always obvious. That’s why we have faith. That’s why we cling to a hope that’s beyond rational explanation.

 

Picture Credit: http://www.people.com/article/original-rick-baker-et-designs-revealed

 

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Why Christians got stoned…

God uses the unusable

Saul aided in the murdering of Christians. Acts 22:10 says, “And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.” From the outside Saul looked unredeemable, unreachable, and hardened beyond the reach of salvation.

In Acts chapter 9 we see Saul’s fiery rage against Christians burning stronger and fiercer than ever. Saul was headed to Damascus with a letter that gave him authority to arrest any and everyone, men or women, which belonged to Christ. But, something miraculous happened: Christ intervened. God unexpectedly and unexplainably met Saul where he was, offered him mercy, and began to use him in incredible ways. Saul later became Paul after his conversion to Christianity. Paul went on to write almost half of the New Testament and established a church presence that had never been seen before.

I don’t know about you, but I have never held a coat for a friend while they stoned someone. I have never “breathed threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” as it said Saul did in Acts chapter 9. Yet, I used to think that it was too late for me to do something really great for God. I thought maybe I should straighten up a bit and when a better time came I could serve God.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The story of Saul’s transformation to Paul teaches us three things:

  • It’s not too late to be used by God
  • There will never be a better time to be with God
  • We are good enough for God NOW

It’s not too late

Saul was pretty deep into sin. He was threatening Christians and allowing Christians to be murdered. God didn’t abandon him and leave him to figure out things on his own. God intervened and said, “it’s time for you to do something for Me.” The same goes for you. No matter what you have done, said, or thought it is not too late. God can and will still use you. All you have to do is ask.

Now is the time

In college I was really lost. I stopped going to church because I was trying so hard to save myself and I thought that I needed to act better and sin less before I could go to church. (You can read more about my testimony HERE) Don’t try to wait and fix yourself before diving into a relationship with God because that will never happen. There is never a better time than right now to dive into a relationship with God.

You are good enough

I used to find myself thinking I am beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy. I’m sure you have felt this way right? You may have sinned or really messed up and you begin to think, “I just don’t see how God could forgive me this time.” I use to think that I had to fix these mess ups and sinning problems before I could enter a relationship with Him. But, that’s the beauty, mercy means we do not get the punishment we deserve. NO ONE is beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy.

When I was younger I remember a time where I was on the playground and the whistle blew for everyone to come back inside for class to start. I started running and I fell straight to the ground. One of my shoe laces was untied! How embarrassing. I was probably in first grade at this time and I had skinned my knee so naturally I started crying. When I looked up there was no one around and I realized that I better get up, tie my shoe, and get back to class.

As a Christian you’re going to forget to tie your shoe laces and you’re going to fall and skin your knee. Maybe you fall back to an old habit or maybe you fall back to an old sin.

Regardless, you have one job. Get up, tie your shoe laces, and run back to God.

Dive into a relationship with God

Choosing God over the world

I’m going to be straight forward. If you are a Christian you have to choose God over the world. You cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in God.

When I go swimming I like to check out the water first. I’ll stand next to the pool and I’ll dip one foot in to get a feel for how the water is that day. Sometimes, I’ll just sit at the edge of the pool and put my legs in the water leaving the remainder of my body dry.

I feel like this is the way a lot of people approach Christianity. Instead of diving head first into a relationship with God we are slightly dipping in our feet to create a balance between the two worlds. “Yea, I’m a Christian but, I would like the security of the outside of the pool because I don’t know exactly what the inside of the pool has to offer.”

This is not how God operates. God is not a part-time God. 1 Kings Chapter 18 is a perfect example of that. In 1 Kings we are introduced to Elijah the Tishbite. According to James 5:17 Elijah was just an ordinary Joe Schmoe like all of us. But, when you look at 1 Kings Chapter 17 and 18 you see an ordinary man who was willing to dive into God’s plan head first.

Check it out:

  • Elijah confronted a pagan king and told him it wouldn’t rain for three years. It didn’t.
  • Elijah was fed by ravens.
  • Elijah prayed and had a boy brought back to life.
  • Elijah confronted 450 prophets with a Survivor style of competition. They got some wood and an ox. The first god to light the wood and ox on fire wins. The loser is voted off the island i.e. dies.
  • Elijah soaked his wood and ox in 12 barrels of water and prays. Everything in the general area was incinerated and God was glorified.
  • Elijah prayed and ended the drought.

(If you want to read the entire story CLICK HERE)

Elijah forgoes his safety, his security, his routine, his comfort, and his doubt. Elijah didn’t have time to just dip his feet into a relationship with God. He jumped in head first and God provided. He jumped in head first and God protected. He jumped in head first and God answered.

God will provide for you.

God will protect you.

God will answer your prayers.

Imagine if God didn’t provide, protect, and answer. Elijah would have been killed when he confronted the king. Elijah would have starved. Elijah would have buried a child instead of raising him from the dead. Elijah would have been killed by the 450 prophets of Baal.

What is holding you back from choosing God over the world? Maybe you’re scared to choose God because of your finances or uncertainty of the future. God will provide you with what you need. (Philippians 4:19) Maybe you’re scared of what people will say or think of you. God will protect you from your enemies. (Psalm 59) Maybe you’re not sure if you can handle what God throws your way. God will answer your prayers. (1 John 5:14-15)

Elijah was a man just like you and me. When he dove head first into faith God provided, protected, and answered. He will do the same exact thing for you. So, dive in.

Why I Don’t Care if you like my Photos…

I may not be as great as I think I am.

I read an interesting statistic that says 80 percent of people consider themselves superior than those around them. I’ve recently become knowledgeable with a term called illusory superiority. It’s the term for the cognitive bias for people that overestimate their own abilities in relation to other people. I thought this was particularly interesting due to the age of social media and the perverse effects that narcissism is beginning to have on our society.

The whole idea of social media has recently intrigued me. The basis and basic functions serve as a very helpful tool for people to stay connected, yet people are the most disconnected than they have been in years. According to thinkprogress.org, “…a recent study has found San Diego State University (SDSU) psychology professor Jean M. Twenge analyzed data from nearly seven million adolescents and adults from across the country and found that more people reported symptoms of depression — including sleeplessness and trouble concentrating — compared to the 1980s.”

How can this be? If I were to scroll through Facebook or Instagram right now I would see a nice highlight reel of everyone’s life mixed in with some odd complaints or daily activities of those who post on these sites. Everything on social media would indicate (for the most part) that people are happy and lives are perfect. I think we are in an age that hosts an unprecedented amount of people who may be narcissistic and don’t even know it.

When I got into college I was clueless. I was in English 101 my sophomore year and we were given an article to read. It was about narcissism. At this point I had no idea what that word even meant. I literally read the whole article clueless as to what narcissism was. Was it terrorism? Was it hatred of one’s country? Was it being a Nazi? This is what I was thinking! All I knew is that according to the article there were a lot of negative consequences of being narcissistic.

People post about the meals they are eating. They post about the clothes they are wearing. They post about the grades they are making. They post pictures of themselves working out and on, and on, and on the list could go. The point is people actually think that their lunch is unique and more artistic than Bob’s lunch that he posted. I have always seen this as a little strange. Let me take a picture of my meal so everyone can like it! I guess I have never really understood why anyone would care. But, this is the reality for those around us and the imminent doom for the generations to come: “Stay relevant and interesting or be lame and lousy.”

It’s easy in this world to find our meaning and our purpose through other’s acceptance and opinions of us. I find myself doing this all the time. I will be playing basketball and I will miss a shot or do something really bad and find myself wondering if other people think I’m the biggest loser in the gym! But what’s the point to all of this? Here is the point: you are loved, you are an heir, and you are unique.

We get so lost and caught up in what others think of us. We have forgotten that we are already accepted. We have been tricked. Society says we are irrelevant unless we have 100 likes on Instagram but the Greatest One sent His Son to die for us. Society tells us that we must become famous but we are heirs to God’s glory. Society says we need to distinguish ourselves or be a face in the crowd but we are the chosen ones.

You are Loved

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We don’t need love, affection, and attention from the people whose love, affection, and attention shifts more than the Texas weather. Our God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us.

You are an Heir

Romans 8:16 says, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” We don’t have to strive for fame because we are children of the most Famous One. The most Famous One knows our name. The most Famous One knows me better than I know myself. The most Famous One knows each and every one of my hairs on my head. I am already famous.

You are Unique

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I don’t need to rise and thrive in a sinful world to set myself apart. I am already set apart. I am unique. I am part of the chosen race. I am already set apart.

More important than being popular with the world is to be popular with God. Quit wasting your time, your energy, and your effort trying to be popular with the world. I’ll say it again, quit wasting your time, your energy, and your effort being popular with the world. The hole that you are trying to fill through words of affirmation, retweets on Twitter, and hearts on Periscope will never be filled. You will reach those 100 likes and still feel empty. Shift your attention from the world and put your eyes on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We have a great cloud of witnesses that surround us. Instead of fixing our eyes on attention and fame, fix your eyes on the One who joyfully endured the cross for all of our sins including the vanity that consumes our society. Fix your eyes on the One that gave up His seat at the right hand of the throne of God to be ridiculed and spit on. We can do this because we are already loved. We can do this because we are heirs. And, we can do this because we are unique.