Kindness fights schizophrenia…

drive-thru-coffee.jpg

Earlier this week my friend and I decided to go to Starbucks. The inside was packed so we decided to go through the drive-thru.

The line was particularly long on this day, and the line was wrapped around the little shopping center that the drive-thru was located in.

There was a point in the line were two lanes of traffic intersected and you had come to a mutual understanding of who gets to go next.

Well, I thought since I’d been in line a while at this point, that I should get to order before a lady who had come from another side of the center and was about to get to cut the whole line.

The person behind me started getting really close to show that he wasn’t going to let the lady in either and when I looked in my rearview mirror I noticed everyone else had tightened up as well. So, I decided to go ahead and let the lady in.

She waved like four times and mouthed thank you. I didn’t think much of it at the moment, but we continued to wait in line until it was finally our turn to get to order.

When we got to the window, I reached out to pay for our coffee, and we were told the lady in front of us paid for both of our coffees.

Bear with me, because there’s a point to all of this.

This is a story of how a little grace (giving someone something they don’t necessarily deserve) and kindness go further than I think people realize.

A simple thing such as letting a lady get into line before me, which by the way only added about three total minutes onto my wait, caused her to show kindness and generosity to us.

We had the opportunity to bring in happiness and good vibes rather than cause frustration and negative vibes.

So for this one story, I’m going to give you three reasons why you should spread kindness and grace daily.

1) The Bible asks us to

First and foremost, the Bible calls upon us to be graceful and kind.

We have Matthew 7:12 that says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them….”

The Golden Rule! Most of this learned this in school growing up right? This is an obvious one. If I pulled up to Starbucks on the wrong side of the drive-thru line I would hope that someone would let me in because I know that I would let others in.

But this goes way further than coffee am I right? If I were to make a mistake I would have that someone would judge me for who I am and not for the action.

I have a tendency to do the opposite in traffic.Two lanes are merging and I just assume that the person next to me is trying to cut the whole line instead of waiting like everyone else. But, I have been in a situation where I can tell you that I got to the end of the lane and realized that I had to get over and no one would let me because they were probably thinking the same thing.

I assure you this goes far beyond traffic and cars too. Someone is rude to you when your checking out at the local grocery store —> kindness

Someone is rude to you when your checking out at the local grocery store —> kindness

Someone has trespassed against you —-> grace

I’ll end this section with Proverbs 11:24-25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

2) Monkey see, monkey do

This one I’m sure you have seen or witnessed from experience. One small act of kindness or grace encourages and empowers others to do the same thing.

I let a lady go in front of me in line and she bought me coffee. I understand this doesn’t always happen but letting kindness and grace spread would never be a bad thing.

3) There are health benefits

I once heard there’s is a portion of your brain that can’t distinguish the difference between helping others and helping yourself. While I couldn’t find that online I did go to google scholar and type in “Benefits of Kindness.”

And, just like I thought, there were an array of positive effects that kindness had on people. One study found that it was therapeutic and that it actually helped trouble teens. The same study found that kindness led to an increase in forgiveness. (1)

There was another study that showed increased kindness lead to being more connected in your social life. (2)

Lastly, there was a finding that kindness led to a decrease in negative effects for patients with schizophrenia. (3) I don’t fully understand that one but, I do think that it is really awesome that kindness fights schizophrenia!

So, what will be your reason for the season? Whatever it is, I challenge you to share kindness and grace this week.

 

 

Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

Coffee Picture

Our silence has become eerie…

killer-clown-with-ax-670x388.jpg

Silence has become moral indifference…

Imagine seeing a kid. The child is standing in the middle of a road. Needless to say, this is dangerous enough.

But further, standing next to the kid is his father. In his father’s hand is an ax and in front of you, the father raises the ax to slaughter the boy.

Here is a quick multiple choice question.

What do you do?

A) stop the lunatic

B) allow it because it’s his kid, so it’s his choice

C) walk by and hope someone else stops him because you don’t want to cause a scene.

Most of us would choose option ‘A.’ Of course, you would. You wouldn’t allow it. That’s a murderer, and he must be brought to justice.

And you definitely wouldn’t just walk by and hope some else stopped him because if they didn’t stop him or someone else didn’t see him, then the kid’s blood would be on your hands.

This seems silly and dramatic. But, the reality is that the world is full of Christians living and reacting to life changing events and scenarios choosing option ‘C.’

We have become silent on issues that are important because the fear of causing a scene.

Abortion

Money

Marriage

Adultery

Divorce

Greed

The list goes on. I don’t want to preach about tithing at church because it might offend someone. I don’t want to talk about abortion because it is a sensitive subject. And, it isn’t just these big topics.

It isn’t just these big subjects.

How many times in your life has someone you’re close to and care about gone off into left field and you become silent in fear of damaging your relationship with them rather than holding them accountable to what the Bible says?

I’m guilty of this. My pastor had asked me a couple of months ago to meet and talk to someone at our church. He wanted me to talk to them about their walk with God.

They came to church and they were involved, but it just didn’t seem like they ‘got it.’ They didn’t believe it. They would come on a Sunday, serve on a Sunday, and represent themselves as if they weren’t a Christian at all the next day.

I selfishly asked him, “What if they stopped coming? What if they stopped serving?”

He jokingly responded, “You’re right… I would hate to lose a servant; eternity isn’t that important anyways.”

I was, needless to say, very convicted at that moment.

But, you get the point. I was fearful of offending someone and losing them as a servant and as an attendee of our church.

I had become morally indifferent. And, I think a lot of us Christians have too.

be5e1e82252074da0cdd2a3424057473.jpg

Please Don’t Burn Library Books

I know what you might be thinking.

“This guy sounds a lot like one of those crazy people yelling at me on a school campus telling me that I am going to hell.”

But, I would say you are very wrong. I’m not asking you to go out and yell at sinners and command them to become saved, or they are terrible and heathens.

I am asking you to stand by the Word of God and Its convictions.

We are to know what the Bible says about pressing social issues, and we are to stand on behalf of the Word of God.

Here are my three ways you can avoid being silent without burning books and picketing soldiers funerals.

Learn the Word of God

Before you can go out and defend the Word of God, you must know it.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

If this is true, then we must know it inside and out. The words aren’t just words they are God-breathed words. Every word is important and serves a purpose greater than our own.

Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

We must meditate on it day and night to be prepared to do what it asks and to make our way righteous.

Speak the Truth

Once we know the law, we must defend it. Once we are aware of injustice, we must fight against it.

Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

We are to take not part in the world that we live in other than to be a light and to expose the darkness for God’s glory. Once we know what the darkness is we must speak the truth and expose the enemy in his lies.

Vote

I’m sure you noticed the circus of an election we are having thus far. We are at a crucial time in history where our decisions could change the course of history to come.

As Christians, it is our duty to not only follow God’s law but to elect people that will help defend God’s law.

I am not claiming that either candidate is perfect or is an outstanding human being. But I can say that we have some important decisions coming up.

We get the chance to elect someone who is against the murdering of an incredible number of unborn children and to see supreme court justices that will not only uphold the constitution but our religious freedoms.

As a Christian, it is your duty and responsibility to take all of this into prayerful considerations.

Last but not least

I would like to end on one final note. I have admired and respected a band called For Today for a long time. They are a screamo band that tours with secular bands in order to spread the Gospel to more than huge Christian dominated crowds.

They have a song called, “Saul of Tarsus.” I love the beginning, and I think it ties in the whole practical lesson.

It goes,”May the world know that I am Yours. I will never be silenced. I will never be silenced.”

Let that be your challenge this week. Let the world know that you are His and never be silenced.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

Clown

Footloose

Word of the Day

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eerie/

 

19 people brought down a nation…

Unified for the right cause

Recently my church joined together in a night of prayer. We came together and joined the nation to cry out to God.

One of the speakers said something that really stuck with me. He said,” 19 people (terrorists) brought a nation to its knees on September 11th, 2001. What would happen if we joined together as a church.”

Now before this time I wrote a song called Unify Us. I’ll be putting the lyrics at the end but I just wanted to post a song again that has been on my heart and explain it a little bit.

Those 19 terrorists were unified. Now they weren’t unified for the right reasons but unified they were.

Imagine the possibilities off Christians all across the globe unifying for one cause.

What cause you ask?? To know Christ and make Him known.

That’s our goal here at Fort Bend Fellowship. “To know Christ and make Him known.”

I love it. I mean our purpose on earth is to glorify God after all. To do this we must make Him known to everyone.

But what about community problems like poverty, sex slavery, abortion, murder, and etc. What if we unified against those things? What would the world look like and how would the world benefit from truly knowing a God full of mercy and grace?

How would the world benefit from truly knowing a God who selflessly sent His Son to die for us?

Wouldn’t that cause a movement? Wouldn’t this movement show people dying to themselves daily? Wouldn’t this movement involve a people that would be more concerned about their neighbors suffering than themselves?

That’s the inspiration behind this song. The concept of coming together as one people. Coming together as one church for one cause: To known Christ and make Him known.

Here are the lyrics to my song. I really hope you enjoy them and I challenge you to think about that idea and how you can unify with the local church and the Christians around you.

Unify Us

The world is dark; it needs your grace.

We call upon your name to fill this place.

The world is sick; it needs your mercy.

Will you open up the floodgates and let the whole world see?

The world is cold; it needs your love and the purifying power of your only Son.

Unify us to know You and make You known.

We are your people.

We are your Church.

We are your hands.

We are your feet.

Unify us for one cause.

Could you die for your enemies?

At the RIGHT time, Christ died for us all

I went through a sermon series with my youth called “He is the cure.” I spent months diving into and exploring Romans.

It was hard for me to go through Romans 5 because I felt like I could have done four or five sermons just on this chapter alone.

The whole chapter paints a beautiful picture. At the exact moment we needed salvation, Christ died for us. Not when we were on good terms with Him and not when it was necessarily convenient for Him either.

When I say, “not when we were on good terms,” I mean the worst of terms. We weren’t just unliked acquaintances, we were enemies. We were rebelling. We were literally running in the exact opposite direction of the way He wanted us to go.

But, the beautiful thing is that He relentlessly pursued after us in an unseen fashion. And, to show His love for us He allowed His Son to be murdered on the cross on our behalf.

All of this was while we were enemies.

Now I don’t know about you but I could not imagine giving up a child, or even a pet, to die on behalf of an enemy. But, God did just that.

Lately, God has really been blessing me in the musical category. He has been putting songs in my heart and I’ve been using them to lead worship for my church.

I wanted to use this blog to share a song that I wrote and that we sing at our church that was inspired by Romans chapter 5.

It’s probably not surprising that the title for this song happens to be, you guessed it, Romans 5.

Romans 5

Though I’ve Failed Lord you never fail.

Though I’ve rebelled Lord you never fail.

 

The thorns, the thorns pressed upon your head

The nails, the nails hammered in your hands

 

You saved your enemies, the helpless, the diseased, the lost, and the defeated.

Christ died when He was needed.

While we were enemies you reconciled with me, the lost, and the defeated.

You died when You were needed.

 

Because of me, You’re on the cross. I’ve caused Your pain.

But you redeemed all of the lost and gave us new names.

 

You saved us all from drowning.

You came and took our place.

You showed Your own love towards us through your saving grace.

 

 

I used to jump out of moving cars…

timthumb.jpg

I wasn’t the most smartest kid there was…

When I think of the word “jump” adrenaline starts coursing through my body. I can vividly remember being told to jump on multiple occasions when I definitely should not have. I can also remember telling my friends the same thing.

I have jumped out of moving cars. Me and one of my friends made it a competition. It started at a mere 15 mph and progressed to over 35 mph when my friend Kyle jumped out of my car window and into a ditch.

I have jumped off of houses into swimming pools, onto trampolines, and simply to the ground to hit and roll like a ninja/ parkour runner.

I have attempted to jump on top of things that were too tall because my friends made me believe that I could make it. The result was scraped up shins and elbows.

There was a time when my friends and I were joined to swim. Off next to the swimming pool about 8 feet from the edge was a fire pit that stuck about two feet off the ground.

This from the outside looked like an easy jump. But, there was a catch. From the edge of the pool under the surface of the water sat a ledge that was about a foot and a half wide.

So, to make the leap from the fire pit to the water safely, you would have to clear the 8-foot jump to the edge of the pool and then an extra foot and a half to clear the ledge.

It was scary. Most people chickened out. They were scared that they wouldn’t make it or that they would make it past the edge and scrape their back on the ledge right underneath the water.

But, my two friends and I did it. We made the jump. Despite all common sense telling us not to. Despite the risk of destroying our bodies. And, despite the fact that most people were telling us not to because they had chickened out.

It was a glorious feeling.

Just to clarify, I am not encouraging you to jump out of cars or to do dangerous stuff. I am encouraging you to take jumps of faith.

walking-on-water-prank.jpg

Taking leaps of faith

I’m sure you have heard this saying before, “just take a leap of faith.” For the sake of this particular blog, I will be referring to it as a jump of faith.

But regardless, what does it mean? How does someone take a jump of faith?

Although the Bible talks about many jumps of faith, I would like to refer to one specifically.

Matthew 14:22-23 talks about Peter’s jump of faith. In this scripture, Peter finds Jesus walking on water. Upon seeing this, he asks Jesus to allow him to come out with Him.

Jesus says come and Peter takes a jump of faith. This was soon diminished by the fact that he doubted and began to sink. Peter immediately cried out to Jesus and there He was to come to the rescue.

A lot of people get caught up on the fact that Peter began to sink.

“Silly Peter, how could you.”

“You sunk!”

But, I would like to focus the attention on the other disciples that sat faithlessly in the boat who never even attempted to go out onto the water.

I think this lesson teaches us two things:

1) Taking a jump of faith takes a commitment to having just an ounce of courage.

Peter got really excited and just needed Jesus to tell him to come to jump.

In the same way, I just needed an ounce of belief that I was going to make it in order to leap off the fire pit and into the water.

And it is the same for you! All you need is an ounce of courage to jump into faith or into what God is calling you into today.

2) Being successful in the jump of faith requires that we fix our eyes on Jesus.

Had Peter fixed his eyes solely on Jesus rather than his fear and anxiousness he would have walked on water for a long time.

It’s like my personal leap. Although I had the courage to jump, if I didn’t have the physical abilities then I just simply would not have made it.

In the same way. We can have the courage to do anything God wants us to. At that point, we must fully rely on God to see us through.

We must channel all of our focus to Him and trust that he truly will see us through.

When we become anxious or scared, we must remember the promises that He has given us.

Here are a few scriptures that I love and have memorized for times like these:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Isaiah 41:10

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” 

Isaiah 35:4

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

 

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

It’s beautiful. We have no reason to fear. God is good, and God is with us.

I’m sure you have noticed it by now, but I have bolded every jump.

That is my challenge for you this week. Muster up just an ounce of courage and jump.

And, when you do, trust in God and remember that He WILL see you through.

 

 

 

Photo Credit

Guy Jumping

Guy Walking

Jump

 

Sometimes I feel distant from God…

house-of-cards-jan-piller.jpg

4 hours of work 20 seconds of destruction

When I was younger, I use to make bridges out of cards. My brother and I had a collection of Pokemon and Yugioh cards laying around that I would use.

I would start with five cards and eventually, after hours, I would have a hallway length bridge that had no real use.

I would spend hours and hours making this bridge that allowed my hot wheel cars to roll across, and my brother would come over and in the matter of second reduce it to a pile of cards again.

I don’t know what was worse, thinking that my card bridges were impressive or thinking that my brother wouldn’t destroy them as soon as he saw them.

I get this way a lot in my faith. I build what I think is a wonderful relationship with God. I spend days reading more than normal or praying more than normal. From the outside looking in, I would have a “sturdy bridge,” or a solid relationship with God.

All that is ruined and demolished at the simplest signs of trouble or stress. That’s why I end up confused as to why I feel distant from God or why my relationship seems so temporarily hollow.

How can this be? How could I feel so confident one second and so empty the next? How could I have this seemingly strong foundation one moment and a pile of rubble the next?

dirty-bowl1.jpg

I don’t eat from dirty dishes

Matthew 23:25-26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees here. He was making it clear that you can look great on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

If you clean your dish on the outside perfectly, I mean you scrub them, and they are shiny and nice but leave caked up food and gross stuff on the inside, you probably won’t use that dish.

In the same way, we need to focus our hearts on Jesus rather than what we look like on the outside. If our bridge looks beautiful from the outside but is made of cards only, then it will just crumble to the ground at any time.

Sam-Van-Aken-Tree-of-40-Fruit-1580x530.jpg

Apple Trees don’t make oranges

Mathew 7:18 describes it a different way. It says, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”

I love this depiction as well as others throughout the bible like a fresh well won’t produce salt water and vice versa.

Regardless of the illustration, the point is clear. The Pharisees were so worried about their outward religious appearances that they neglected the issues in their own heart. That’s why Jesus had to knock them back down to reality in Matthew 23:25-26 to make it clear that focusing on the heart will lead to the genuine change and permanent foundation.

That’s why Jesus had to knock them back down to reality in Matthew 23:25-26 to make it clear that focusing on the heart will lead to the genuine change and permanent foundation.

So where are you? Are you needlessly building a bridge of cards only to be destroyed? Are you an apple tree trying to produce oranges? Are you a dying tree that you are trying to

Are you needlessly building a bridge of cards only to be destroyed?

Are you an apple tree trying to produce oranges? Are you a dying tree that you are trying to

Are you a dying tree that you are trying to revive with living fruit?

Here is a quick test to see:

Read Galatians 5:16-25 and see which on you fit in with most.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Here is you challenge this week.

  1. If you found yourself mostly in the acts of the flesh
    1. Ask God to tear down your fake bridge and uproot your tree. Ask God to build you a new bridge with the foundation of Christ and to plant a new tree that will bear the fruit of the spirit.
    2. Ask God to forgive you for your sins and continue to walk in the newness of Christ.
  2. If you found yourself mostly in the fruit of the Spirit with the occasional bad fruit
    1. Ask God to remove the bad fruit to make way for a more plentiful harvest and fresh fruit and to continue to grow your healthy tree.
    2. Find ways to remind yourself that apple trees don’t produce oranges.

 

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

 

 

 

Cards

Bowl

Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a fraud…

two-faces-smile.jpg

Things are not always as they appear

I was at the local YMCA the other day, and a stranger approached me.

He came up to me, introduced himself, and told me that he had heard me talking to my friend.

I started playing the conversation back in my head. My friend and I talked about fantasy football, basketball, and some other just absurd and meaningless things.

What could this guy have to say to me?

  • “I heard your conversation, and I have to tell you that I am embarrassed to be an American. Both of you are idiots and should have your mouths sewn shut.”
  • “I tried to hold my tongue, but you picked up Tony Romo on fantasy football?” At this point, he would laugh hysterically, bend over, and start slapping his knee. “Hey guys, did you hear that? This guy (pointing at me) drafted Tony Romo…. Go get Frank and Steve, they have to hear about this absurdity.”
  • “I can’t believe how bad you are at basketball. I’ve never seen you play but based off what your friend was saying, you are horrendous.”

Any of the above would have been traumatizing but ultimately could have been a possibility. We are both idiots, I did draft Tony Romo, and I am pretty awful at basketball.

But what came out of his mouth next was unexpected. He said, “I heard you talking to your friend, and I can just tell you’re full of happiness.”

What? Happiness? Me?

I know what you’re probably thinking, “Yea that makes sense, Isaiah is always happy and bouncing off the walls. Doesn’t surprise me.”

FRAUD-300x280.jpg

I get this happiness comment a lot and, although I can see where people are coming from, I have to admit, I feel like a total fraud.

When people tell me this I kind of laugh. They don’t know how anxious I get all the time. They don’t know how little faith I have at times. They don’t know my frustrations, pain, sorrows, or struggles. How can they look at me from one experience and say I’m full of happiness?

Okay, I don’t want to give off the wrong vibe. I am a very happy person. I guess what I am saying is that I still get confused as to why people constantly point it out.

In my head, I just think, “Yea, like,  I’m kind of, like, happy but so is, like, the person at that table so, could you, like, go tell them instead.” In my head, I’m also a ripped surfer, but that’s irrelevant. (I also got a lot of points taken off all my speeches in college for the use of ‘um’ and ‘like.’)

Q: What is relevant?

A: The difference between joy and happiness and why I think people notice it in me.

Joy_vs_695_258_70_f7f7f0_all_3.jpg

Happiness vs. Joy

Happiness – Temporary and based on circumstance

Joy – Everlasting and NOT based on circumstances

When I was in elementary school, I got a brand-spanking-new Nintendo DS. It was awesome! I loved the thing, and it brought me so much happiness.

Until… bum bum bum… it broke.

imgres.jpg

The whole front screen shattered. I panicked and did what I did best, hid it under my sister’s dresser. No one would ever look for it or find it there. Every so often, when my sister was away, I would go into her room and get the DS and look at it hoping that it would magically be fixed.

It was never fixed and I eventually had to find a way to tell them I broke the gift they gave me.

This is the thing about happiness. Happiness is awesome. Happiness is great. But, happiness will leave you and you will feel empty if you don’t have joy.

If I put all my happiness in a house, or a car, or a phone eventually it will depreciate and I will no longer have the same happiness that I once did.

If my house burns down then where would my happiness be at then?

If I come outside and the new car that I bought gets hit and ran then where will my happiness be?

If all my happiness is my phone and it get’s stolen, where will my happiness be then?

This isn’t just materials either. If you put your happiness in a relationship, what will happen when y’all break up? Where will your happiness be?

If you put your happiness in money, where will your happiness be if you lose your job or, God forbid, you have medical expenses or a huge bill? Where will your happiness be?

Night_of_Champions_2008.21.jpg

*Tag in joy*

Once we realize happiness is only temporary and fleeting we must tag in joy. Joy is praising God during our suffering (James 1:2-4). We then begin to learn that our trust in God through trials is what gives us deep and genuine joy for the Lord.

We can begin to learn that even when we are not happy, we can be filled with joy knowing that we can talk to God about our unhappiness and He will give us His eyes (Psalms 73) (I wrote a little about this HERE).

I think this is the difference in why people approach me. I may not be temporarily filled with happiness but  I always have joy.

I believe that joy is a necessity for Christians and their walk with God through:

  • Focusing on the truth of who God is.
  • Praying and developing an intimate relationship with God.
  • Participating in fellowship with other believers to push you towards joy.

The-joy-of-the-lord-is-my-strength.jpg

“The Joy of the Lord is my strength”

We sing a song called ‘Joy of the lord’ at Fort Bend Fellowship. (Click Here to listen to it. It rocks and I recommend everyone jamming out to it.)

Here are some of the lyrics:

“Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord

In the dead of night
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord

CHORUS
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength”

challenge-Change.png

 

Here is my challenge for you this week: Let the Joy of the Lord be  your strength.

Are you dealing with a tough breakup? – Choose Joy

Are you struggling with depression from an uncontrollable circumstance? – Choose Joy

Are you having a bad day? – Choose Joy

Whatever it is… Choose Joy

Say it now if you have to, “I choose Joy.

If you want to have a joyful life it starts by conquering one fear, one struggle, or one problem at a time. It’s a small difference that makes a huge impact.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

 

 

 

 

Lyric Credit

Challenge Photo

Joy of the Lord Photo

Tag Team Photo

Red DS Photo

Joy vs. Happiness Photo

Sad and Happy Photo

I’m a fraud Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I almost broke my sternum…

cute-baby-trying-to-lift-weights.jpg

I Couldn’t Bench the Bar in Eighth Grade…

When I first started working out, I was a twig. My squat max was around 80 pounds. That’s the bar and some change on each side. I couldn’t even bench the bar by itself. I had to use a curling bar.

I would look around me, and people were doing much more weight than I was. One day I had had enough. Everyone around me was benching 135 (the bar with a 45), and I was benching 30 (a curling bar with a 2.5). This was the day I would bench 135!

I loaded the bar up and told my friend to spot me. My friend unracked the bar. I barely had the strength to keep my arms locked out!

He asked, “are you sure you got this?”

I, of course, wanting to be like everyone else, said, “yea bro, easy money.” (That, unfortunately, use to be cool to say.)

In my mind, this was the part that I grew superhero strength and blew 135 off my chest, and everyone would induct me into the men’s club. We would high five each other, and I would make fun of all the toothpicks that couldn’t even bench the bar.

However, there was an entirely different reality that played out. What happened you ask? Well, as soon as I unlocked my arms to lower the weight to my chest, my arms gave out, and the bar slammed into my sternum.

My breath got knocked out of me. My feet left the ground and flew in the air. And, the worst part was that, instead of anyone helping, everyone was laughing hysterically as I was suffocating to death.

I could go on all day about how weak I was, but I would rather talk about how strong I have become.

3-Custom.jpg

“A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step”

I would one day go on to bench 135. But, it didn’t happen overnight. I would go on to be part of a powerlifting team that won a national championship. But, once again, it didn’t happen overnight.

It took a lot of day-to-day workout sessions and discipline to grow into the lifter that I eventually became.

In the same way, we must discipline ourselves and grow day-to-day to become the person that God wants us to be.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

I think this is a beautiful depiction of Christianity. We often find ourselves comparing ourselves to others. We want to read the bible every night like you hear others doing. You want to pray as much as others do. You want to have the faith that you have seen others demonstrate.

But, 2nd Corinthians makes it clear. We become more like God one degree at a time.

God doesn’t ask you to be perfect in a night. God doesn’t ask you to become saved and have a prayer life of a prayer warrior. He doesn’t expect you to be as patient, or as merciful, or as gracious, or as disciplined. But, he does expect you to try.

finding-the-best-bonsai-trees.jpgBecoming Bonsai Minded

So what does this mean for you? And, what on Earth does Bonsai Minded mean?

I was on the phone with my great friend, Austin, the other day and we were talking about this very subject. He made a great connection between 2 Corinthians 3:18, Manna, and the Lords prayer.

In Exodus 16 the Lord tells the Israelites that they are to gather enough Manna for the day. Any more will spoil and less they would starve. The Lord’s prayer asks God to give us today our daily bread. No more, no less.

 

Did you know it usually takes a minimum of three years for a Bonsai tree to grow enough for you even to start working on it?

 

This is our duty and this is our task: Learn, Grow, and Pray enough for you every day. And, this is what it means to become Bonsai Minded

Don’t get caught up in the end result. If I got caught up thinking about how I couldn’t lift as much as those around me, then I would have quit a long time ago.

Slowly but steadily I continued and found myself surpassing my original goal.

 

This is my challenge for you: start.

Do you want to read through the Bible in a year? – Start with a chapter a day.

Do you want to pray to God for an hour a day? – Start with five minutes a day.

Whatever your goal is, just start. You don’t have to get there today or even tomorrow, but one degree at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

Weak Person

Thousand Miles

Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you tired of getting the short end of the stick?

unfair.jpg

Why do the unrighteous get away with everything?

I had a friend in Junior High who made me jealous. From my point of view, he got everything. He got all the cool gadgets, had the coolest shoes, he did whatever he wanted, and never got in trouble.

He could have gotten away with murder. He was in class one day and shared his favorite finger with the teacher. What was his punishment? The teacher laughed and put him in the back of the class.

On the other side of the coin, I would get in trouble for sneezing too loud. I don’t say this figuratively either. I have severe allergies, and I sneezed one too many times and got sent to the principles office.

At the end of the day, no matter how well behaved or good I was, my friend seemed to always come out ahead.

Have you ever felt like this?

You are doing the right things, but the promotion goes to the person that doesn’t act right. Or, you seemed to be plagued by financial hardships yet, the person who disobeys everything God says is getting their new boat or BMW.

They have the better marriage.

They have the better friends.

They don’t struggle as much.

They can do more things.

They get away with everything and not one person notices.

These are all lies that Satan wants you to believe and Psalm 73:6-16 talks a lot about this issue. It addresses the illusion of the wicked getting anything they want and get away with everything.

It says, “surely they don’t struggle.” “They are free from common human burden.” They are always free of care; they go on amassing wealth.”

Surely God has an answer for this right? Why ‘good’ Christians get cancer and wicked people seem to have healthy bodies?

The truth is that we have a tainted picture of reality. Our view of others lives has become murky because of sin and Satan.

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Jesus

Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, talks about this in verses 16 and 17. He says all of this was hard to understand: why do the ‘good’ get pain, struggles, and turmoil and the unrighteous seem to prosper and succeed?

He didn’t understand until he entered the sanctuary of God, as mentioned in verse 17.

Before, Asaph was blinded by jealousy and pride because he was viewing life through sin and Satans point of view.

The grass looked way greener on the side of sin and unrighteousness because he forgot what it meant to look through the eyes of faith.

Leading up to verse 17 life was unfair. But, after he entered the sanctuary of God in verse 17 his distorted reality becomes apparent. Suddenly his whole perspective changes in verses 18-20.

He says,”Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.”

He continues to say in verses 27 and 28,” Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

This is the switch we have when viewing life through the eyes of the Lord. It is always easy to desire what the people around you have and to be angry because it appears that they obtain them by doing what is wrong. However, our great reward is being faithful to God.

At the end of the day, these earthly pleasures are nothing more than that. We live knowing our hope is in the Lord and the eternity that He promises. An eternity so beyond our ability to understand.

Our hope and our joy come from being close to God not to a new BMW or boat.

How are you viewing reality? I challenge you to look through the eyes of faith this week and not through the eyes of sin.

It is my belief that this is a crucial step in learning to walk with God.

 

 

 

Photo Credit.

 

Seeing light at the bottom of the pit…

I’m glad I was depressed

When I was at Austin College, I found myself in a pit. I have talked about it before, but I was involved in very self-destructive behaviors and hated every second of life.

From the outside looking in I looked great. I was a collegiate athlete, I had a double academic scholarship, and I was making excellent grades. But, this wasn’t the case.

I was lost, broken, and had no hope. If ever I was in a pit, this was it.

Psalm 40 shows us a time David was in a pit and when he was so overwhelmed by life and emotions.

What is a pit you ask?

A pit could be any of life trials that leave us unable to free ourselves without the help of God.

For me, being wrapped in sin and depression was my pit. But, what does Psalm 40 say we should do when we find ourself in the lowest of lows?

1) Wait for the Lord (Psalm 40:1-5)

I have heard this before, “wait for the Lord.” But, it means way more than what it says.

When I buy something, and it’s shipped through Fedex, I check my phone for the delivery time, I check outside my door for the package, and I wait anxiously because I know at any moment my package will arrive. I don’t just sit around ignoring any possibility of it showing up.

In the same way, we are to wait for the Lord.

Isaiah 41:10 says:

We are to prepare ourselves through prayer and crying out to God because we wait because we know that something big is going to happen.

We dive into the word because it tells us everything we need to know about how God delivers us from our pit.

The tougher, more extreme, or intense our pit is, the more steadfast we are to wait for the Lord to deliver us.

Waiting is a perfect time to tune our hearts to God so when He answers we know exactly how and then we can thank Him for it after. Which leads us to my second point:

2) Proclaim God’s goodness (Psalm 40:9-10)

It’s only a matter of time before God delivers you from your pit. When He does, it is crucial that you praise Him endlessly for it.

You may not see it now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And, believe it or not, God makes all things work together for his good.

I didn’t think that my depression and self-hatred would lead to an intense testimony that testifies to God’s love and pursuit for me. Nor did I realize that I was going to be a youth minister.

In the same way, God will use your pit for something beautiful even if it feels like he won’t now. And when he does, it is ever more delightful to praise God knowing that even He can turn muck into a masterpiece.

That is why I’m glad I was depressed at Austin College. I get to praise God because he has delivered me from suffering and the deepest pit I have ever been in. And, I have a story that impacts people and brings God glory.

So, what is your pit?

Maybe, like me, it is depression. Or, maybe life’s events have you feeling like you are cornered with no hope or escape.

Whatever the case, turn to the Lord today. Patiently wait for Him expecting Him to fulfill His promise. When He does, never cease to proclaim His goodness and what it has done in your life.