Monday, December 9, 2013

It's been a while... part II

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)-
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

In the previous blog I didn't discuss the second part of these verses...I'm gonna try and do that now. 

So, we have been reconciled by Christ and are now seen by God as holy and free of blemish or accusation... "if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel."

This is the second part of what is so amazing about God's grace. He sees us as holy and blameless...and we just have to have faith. I think sometimes the word "faith" is seen as vague and nebulous and something very intangible. But I don't think it has to be that way.

James wrote, "I will show you my faith by my deeds." (chapter 2, second part of verse 18)

Faith isn't something that just happens in our minds. It isn't something that just happens inside of us - it starts on the inside, and grows and changes us and as it does we start looking different from the outside (not physically, of course). 

Faith is like a cookie, in a way. If you give a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk. If you have faith in God and believe that He is who He says He is, then you will want to worship Him. You will probably want to tell others about Him. It also seems likely that you would want to follow His advice and suggestions on how to live better. 

So, when Paul says that God sees us as holy - as long as we continue in our faith - I don't think he is saying that we just have to say that we believe in God and go to church and say the words on the screen and maybe attend a Bible study or something. Paul's faith wasn't something that affected part of his life. His faith changed him from killing and imprisoning others to being imprisoned and beaten (and eventually killed).

One of my former Bible study leaders said a couple times that the Bible is like a mirror. You hold it up and it will show you yourself and your flaws. But when you try to hold it up to someone else and see their flaws, it gets distorted and doesn't give a clear picture, because it isn't meant for you to use it to change others. It is meant to change you, to make you look at yourself and look at God and maybe see something/someone greater than your current self, and hopefully want that potential to become reality. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's been a while since I blog'd

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)-
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Wow. Ok now I don't want to be cheesy, but seriously this is crazy. The crazy part isn't even that we were God's enemies - to me, it is that we are now "holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation..." Wow.

I have a hard time believing that, most of the know what I mean? But when I actually take the time to think through it, to sort of have a conversation with God about it (I'll explain), then it seems to make sense and I can start to believe that truth about myself, at least for a time. To me it is like, how could God forgive me for being so selfish and prideful and angry? I mean, He sees my inmost thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Of all people/beings, God has the most right to say, "No, you have done too much wrong to be forgiven."

But that's not what He says...He says, "Come now, let us settle the matter...Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

He says that what He did on this earth and on the cross was (more than?) enough to forgive me for the terrible things I've done and thought and said and even all of the things I should have done but didn't do. He says that if that wouldn't have been enough to forgive all of the sin, He wouldn't have done it. Jesus didn't leave heaven and live and die on earth so that we could be partially forgiven and then work to try and make up the rest. That'ts not how it works. That's not how God forgives, and that is not what grace is. You know the song, "Amazing Grace"? There is a reason for the title of the song.

So here is another set of Bible verses that kind of does a good job of showing what grace is like. The prophet Elisha is helping out the king of Israel, but the king of Aram doesn't like this, so he sends an army to capture Elisha.

2 Kings 6:15-22

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So He struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

On a side note, here is some more music I downloaded recently:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Questions, questions, questions

I'm going to title this after I write it, mainly because I don't know what I'm going to write/blog about right now.

Ok, I got it.

So I've been reading this book lately called Velvet Elvis. It is written by Rob Bell, who is a pastor at a church called Mars Hill (I'm pretty sure) and has written other books and made some video Bible study things too. So anyway, in this book he is just spilling some of his thoughts about Christianity and what it means to be a Christian and what Christian faith looks like.

One of the points he just made was that Christian faith is like a trampoline - it isn't rigid, but has room to flex and bend. Trampolines work by getting on them and jumping on them and doing things that may not be entirely safe, but you don't experience a trampoline by standing next to it and talking about it. Also, the springs in a trampoline help it to work, but without any one spring it would still work. Springs are like specific beliefs about Jesus/God/Bible and that sort of thing.

For example, he said that he once heard someone say that if the earth/universe was not created in 6 24-hour days, then none of the Bible is true and Jesus didn't live or die on the cross. He says that is more like a brick wall; when you take out one piece, the rest of it crumbles down too.

So anyway, with the trampoline idea, he says that part of having faith is also having doubts. Having doubts isn't a bad thing, and asking questions isn't a bad thing. Asking questions means you acknowledge that you don't have all the answers, and you are having to look outside yourself for help in some way. He also says that through asking questions we should come to truth, and since God is truth, it is good to ask questions. He clarifies this by saying that 'questions' doesn't mean things like "Can God make a rock so big that even He couldn't lift it?" (CS Lewis would reply that nonsense remains nonsense even if you try to put God in it.)

Rob Bell says that the kind of questions we should be asking are the ones that come from our hurts, our confusion, our wonder about God. They should be real, things that either we want to know about God or we don't understand about God or are keeping us from getting to know God. Something like that.

And I think that is a good point. There isn't anything wrong with asking questions, and by asking questions, we keep moving in our relationship with God and with others. You can't have a discussion without a question (or at least a starting question). And since God is truth, and God doesn't have any boundaries or limits or whatever, our questions usually lead to more questions (this is Rob Bell's point, not mine).

So yeah...I want to try to ask more questions. I haven't been doing that lately, I think. I haven't been wrestling with ideas about God and the world and the universe and life and what it looks like to live in a way that shows love to God and shows love to other people..

and that takes me to the song, "Live Like That" which I think I have posted the lyrics to somewhere on here.

Jude (1:)20-21- But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This is basically me typing down some things I wrote down from a Campus Church event I went to at UNL. The speaker was (apparently) talking about passion, and what it means to live with passion. So here it is:

Rarely is passion detached from sacrifice.
What you do now will affect you later in life.
Passion usually starts with a decision that involves action.
Engaging in your passion means you will encounter resistance.
When is the last time your faith cost you? With passion comes a cost.
God doesn't do random. You were designed with purpose and passion.
The life you want will always cost you something.
What will/would be said of you?
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (I think that is in James somewhere.)
Passion - money can represent passion.
Passion is required to pursue God and do His work.
Passion doesn't just happen, it is a choice.
Passion is contagious, and it can be negative.
Things happen that we don't understand or want, but they shape us.
Passion in our culture is rare.
When we look back [on our lives], what will we see?
We often don't live up to the potential (the passion) we have from God.

And here is the set of verses I wrote down:
Acts 16:22-34 - The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Free Music (v. 1)

Hey, so I had this idea the other day. I know of some websites where you can get some pretty neat free music every now and then (or pretty regularly if you want) and I want to share some of that with whoever reads this blog.

So here is the first post. First off, there is this website called iTickets. They have a free song every week, and each song seems to be available for about 2 weeks before you can't download it anymore. You have to sign up to the website to get the free songs, but it is an easy process and they don't send you emails except to tell you when new music is available and/or when there is an event/concert in your area. The site seems to be focused on Christian music, and you can see the free songs here. (Both links should open in a new window.)

Next is NoiseTrade. They have a ton of music available for free, and you can even send a tip to the artist if you like their music. There is also an option to share an album/song/artist from Facebook or Twitter, which is kinda handy. NoiseTrade has music available for a limited amount of time, but there doesn't seem to be any set limit or date on anything (as far as I can tell). Again, you have to sign up to the website, but it is pretty straightforward and they don't spam or share your email address except when you download music. Then they may share your email with the artist that you downloaded. For today, I'll give a list of the music that I got by showing you the artists' pages:

NoiseTrade also has audio books available from time to time, so if you want to listen to a book you can do that too.

And I think I'm going to call that good for today. I hope you are doing well. Stay healthy!

Psalm 150:1- Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Youth group, small groups, and fulfillment

Hey, it has been a while since I've written anything on here..for those of you who care to read it, sorry about that! But I think I may start blogging more (again)..we shall see, but anyway.

The youth group my wife works for is changing the way they are doing things this fall (for the high school ministry). They are having more of an emphasis on small groups, and more specifically, small group Bible studies. They want to focus more on developing the students' faith, which is pretty cool in my opinion. However, some of the students don't like this idea. From what I have heard of the conversations, the main reason is that they want to see "everyone" more often than twice a month. (The current plan is small groups every other week, and then big group the opposite weeks.) They say that they will miss seeing each other every week because they don't get to see each other at school because they tend to hang out with different people at school.

I can understand some of that. Wanting to see your friends is a good thing. However, it seems like these students aren't fully understanding that by doing small group Bible studies, they can get something that is better than just seeing "everybody" every week. When I was in high school I didn't go to any Bible studies until the end of my Junior year. My senior year, I regularly went to 2 Bible studies a week, plus a youth group. Now, please understand that this is not a Holier-Than-Thou type of statement. I wanted to be at each of those, and I felt like I was developing deeper relationships with the other students at those Bible studies, the adult leaders of those Bible studies, and most importantly, God.

Going to weekly Bible studies helped me stay constantly in God's Word and in prayer. It was encouraging to me to see other students that also wanted to grow in their faith and know God more. It was more fulfilling to me than anything else I had been involved in before that. And it wasn't because I saw the same people every week. I got to experience a closeness with God that I had not felt before, and it was great! I know it doesn't make sense to many people that God is personal, and that having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is something that happens to those who want to know Him.

I have no intention to bash on the students at the youth group. I enjoy helping out with the youth group and I am really looking forward to this year. But I think some of them may be trying to find fulfillment in something that won't stick. They are trying to be fulfilled by seeing their youth group friends every week...but those relationships are not going to be as fulfilling as a relationship with God. I hope/pray that they will find a deeper fulfillment in developing their relationship with God through the small group Bible studies, and that they will get to know their small groups more as well. I know it certainly helped me a lot, and I am confident that I am not the only one.

Since we will be studying the book of Acts, here are some verses that I like:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. -Acts 2:46-47

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Yes, graduation! I will be graduating college soon. That is weird, huh? It seems kinda weird to me at least. But at the same time, I can see it is 'a part of growing up' or whatever, so I kind of knew it was coming. What I'm doing after that, I do not know, but I trust that God has a plan.

This past weekend my wife and I visited a church near Chicago in order to see if it is somewhere that she would be interested in having a job and if they would be interested in having her work for them. She is one of the final candidates for a youth ministry director job, so that is pretty neat! So we have been praying about that, and so have other people, and we are both thankful that so many people have been praying for us and are interested in what is going on in our lives. If you were on of those people, thank you!

In other news, things have been interesting at our apartment complex lately. A couple days ago the water was shut off for a few hours. Earlier this week we woke up in the middle of the night to police lights flashing outside our window (somewhere in the parking lot). We don't know why they were there. So that was fun. Sort of not really.

I guess that is it for now...for those of you who actually read this. If you have any questions you want answered or comments you want to give, feel free to do so! You may have noticed that you have to prove that you are a human now in order to do that. It is a recent change, because I've been getting some spam comments lately that barely pass for English (it is more like word salad) and then have a link on them. No thanks, bro.

I hope you have a good day!
Here is a thought: Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beware of Christians!

It is "a movie about leaving religion to follow Jesus"

How about that! Anyway, I watched the movie a while ago and took some notes. Here are those notes...

What happens when we give up on religion and try following Jesus? (and what does that look like? in a day to day aspect, what does it look like to give up religion and follow Jesus?)

An observation: we (Christians) are just as crazy about worldly stuff as everyone else. (obviously this is a generalization, but those do come from the general trend of things. So I think it is worth considering.)

Why don't we ask older people who have been through it before? (when it comes to getting through tough situations and handling things we aren't sure about; why do we go to others who are still trying to figure things out, instead of those who at least have the benefit of hindsight? I think the reason is pride/selfishness.)

If physical intimacy is for marriage, how can we have a physical relationship (and feel ok about it)? (also, what does it mean to have a physical relationship?)

Jesus didn't come to establish a new religion, He came to establish the Kingdom of God. (I think this is a big one that nearly everyone looks over at some point or another.)

What is our role, as Christians, to the poor? --> You wouldn't let your friend be cold or starving or thirsty, would you?

What does it look like to put Jesus in the parts of our lives that we are trying to keep Him out of?

[As Christians, we should be] living for something much bigger than [our own lives/happiness]. (the thing I actually wrote was "we're living for something much bigger than ourselves." but I think some explaining is helpful)

And then a bunch of Bible verses that, if I remember correctly, gave a rough outline of the different parts of the movie: Acts 2:42, Luke 12:34, Jeremiah 17:9, 1 John 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

And lastly: (I wrote this on top of a t-shirt design because I ran out of room on the flyer the gave us) Would you say that [insert name of person here] is not a Christian because of their actions?
Likewise, would someone looking at your life say that you aren't a Christian based on your actions?

One of my former Bible study leaders liked to give the analogy that the Bible is like a mirror. As we look into it, it shows us a reflection of who we are and where we are flawed. However, if you try to use the Bible to look at other people, it doesn't work that way; the reflection gets distorted because that is not how its supposed to be used. Does that make sense? He can explain it a lot better than I can.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." -Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Knowing, doing, thinking

The words could possibly be changed, as far as the order of them goes. But anyway. Here is what I'm thinking about.

Knowing - that knows; having knowledge or information; intelligent. (in other words, to know something, to be aware of it)

Doing - the act of performing or executing : action

Thinking - to employ one's mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation

Alright, there are some definitions from the internet. But even if you just look at the words, all of them have the good old suffix -ing. This implies that there is something happening, it is a current action or state (from the internet: expressing the action of the verb or its result, product, material, etc.)
So all of these words could be classified as 'active.' Each of them means you are doing something. But I suppose some might disagree. "Knowing," it can be argued, "is not really active, it is simply a passive state of being." I would say that is fair, but there is still that suffix to deal with. If it helps, let's just take it out: Know. Or, To Know. ok. good.

So, to know something is passive. It isn't doing (that is one of the words already!) something, is it? Is it more of the result of doing something? You read a book, you know what is in it. You talk to a person, you know (hopefully!) how they are doing, what their day has been like, what they are up to, and so on. Maybe, just maybe! before you do something, you even think about it.
I think about talking with someone, then I go and do it, and then I know more about them. It is sort of a progression, huh? So is one greater than any of the others?

Is it better to know information than to do something because of the information? Is it better to think about something before doing that something? Or is it better to do something, even if you don't know everything or even if you think it might not be a good idea?

I think it depends on the situation, personally.

But, in most cases, I think doing is more productive. It may not get the desired results right away, or without thinking about what you are going to do, but it does get something done, right? So why procrastinate?

Well, procrastinating is easy. Doing things can be hard. Especially when doing something involves making a change; changes are not especially easy to enforce, or begin, or maintain. But why? If things are always changing, why do we find it hard to change? Is it that we want to stick with what is easy? We want things to just stay as they are?

I'm not sure what my point is here, but here is a quote I will end with:

We change when the pain to change is less than the pain to remain as we are. -Ed Foreman

PS- I got the definitions from a couple of dictionary websites by doing a web search. Same with the quote.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Live Like That" / Reanimating Play-doh

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that

"Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets

Listening to this song right now..I think it is something that many of us can relate to, even if the goal isn't exactly what this song describes. Doesn't everyone want to change something about themselves? It is not easy or pleasant to think about. But here is another question: Why? Why do so many of us feel the desire to change something about ourselves? And does merely thinking about the change help? Well it actually might, but that would be another post. Is the reason we want to change because we don't think our current lives are not [insert word here] enough? Not fun enough? Not happy enough? Not social enough? Not smart enough? And is this a reflection of our lives in general, or do we see ourselves as something that won't change, because we can't change? I think there are many things we can change about ourselves, but we often don't realize that or understand that. Of course there are things like genetics and upbringing and that sort of thing; our background and past does influence us - there is no doubt about that. But that doesn't change that fact that we are not completely set in our ways.

Have you ever played with play-doh or silly putty? Sometimes, if you let it sit out for too long, it gets dry and hard and brittle. You can't shape it as easily, and it isn't as fun to play with. But there is usually a way to get it to be malleable again. Sometimes just warming it up helps, other times you need a little water or oil or something else to get it moist again. Maybe you are at the place where you feel like some dried out play-doh. You feel like you aren't adjusting to things as well as you used to, or you just feel brittle. Well you aren't the only one, for starters. Life here on earth isn't easy, and everyone knows that. But God knows just what it will take to get you (and me) back to a place where we are feeling better and living better. Like adding water or heat or oil to play-doh or silly putty. It will take some time - even though God is not contained in time, we still are. And it might be a little uncomfortable (or a lot uncomfortable, it partially depends on what sort of habits we have gotten into) but God knows it will be worth it: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God's plans are good, and they are to prosper us! Who doesn't want to prosper? God's plans for us give us a hope and a future. I like the sound of that :)

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity." -Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Friday, February 1, 2013


So. Those of you, if there are any of you, who come to this blog regularly know that I haven't posted a blog for quite a while. There are several reasons for that.

But in more exciting news, I got married recently! Actually it was over a month ago, but things have been busy, as I'm sure you can guess. But anyway, being married has been great. We have made it through our first month together, so we are definitely going to make it another 40 or 50 years, right? haha ok I joke, but seriously it is really nice to be married and know that I don't have to try and think about dating anymore. I'm done with all that guessing and pursuing (although I will continue to pursue my wife) and trying to ask someone out on a date and all that awkward fun stuff. Now we just hang out and play board games and cook food. haha it is a grand ol' time :)

We have been helping with a youth group in town (my wife is part-time there) and that has been pretty fun too. I feel like I am actually starting to get to know some of the students there, so that is always nice. We just planned our summer trip; we are going to Niagara Falls! It should be a pretty exciting time, and I may post some stuff about that when it happens.

Anyway, just wanted to post an update and let you know that I haven't forgotten about this site, and I'll be back later. Hope you are doing well, and thanks for reading my blog! Feel free to leave comments and whatnot :)