Free To Struggle

“Hallelujah we are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free.” This is a line from the song The Struggle by Tenth Avenue North. When I first heard this song, I didn’t understand what it meant. Now, it is a beautiful phrase that describes my life in this world with Jesus as my savior.

I’ve been learning a lot these past couples weeks, hence the constant posting. I learned one very interesting thing from a counselor I went to yesterday. He was telling me that the most people who become sex addicts are CEOs, big wigs, and people who are highly decorated. He further explained that the reason for this is because they are searching for relational intimacy and they try to find that in a place that people don’t get to see: the bedroom. 

As I heard that, my heart broke and I started to cry because I thought about how God loves us so much and wants intimacy with us, and specifically how He loves me. Since yesterday, I’ve seen how my desire for relational intimacy has impacted me. I so strongly seek relationships with people to have that intimacy. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to seek intimacy with people, but they can’t be my source of it nor can they be where I find validation.

I’m always fighting this desire to run to people and I have to keep reminding myself of the promises and truths that God has given to me. It’s a constant battle against the flesh. The flesh desires to be in relationship with people, but my inner being needs to be intimate with God. I understand that I will never be done fighting sin, temptation, the flesh or the world until Jesus returns and calls us home. Until then, it is a struggle, but it is a holy struggle. Praise God that I struggle because that means His Spirit is in me. If I wasn’t in a relationship with Him and didn’t have His Spirit, I wouldn’t be able to struggle I would just submit to sin (Romans 8:5-8). A verse after that (Romans 8:9a) says “You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you…”

If you are struggling with anything right now, praise God because without Him you wouldn’t be able to.

So once again “Hallelujah! We are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free!” 

Grace Like A River

Are there any wounded hearts present tonight? Of course there are. We are all wounded and deeply afflicted. Afflicted by sin which leaves the deepest scar of separation from our perfect, holy and loving God. There is not a soul on earth that is not impacted by this tragedy, yet there is an answer to it all which redeems sinfulness and turns it into life: grace.

I don’t think you can write too much about this topic especially when talking about God’s grace. It is so deep that the Apostle Paul describes it in this way:

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more”

-Romans 5:20b

It doesn’t matter how deeply sin runs because you can’t out-sin His grace. We know that we are loved because “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

This tragic separation is now repaired and leads to a beautiful marriage of wicked people to a holy God:

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

-Romans 8:14-16

So we have this saving grace and the Holy Spirit in us that testifies with our spirit that we are His children, but the world still hurts and we are impacted by the sinfulness that is still left to ravage the world. We are justified (declared righteous) before God because of Christ’s work on the cross. Now, the Spirit is in us to continually work in us the process of sanctification (making us holy). It is a process that is why Paul has prayers like Ephesians 1:17-19a, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Colossians 1:9-14. There are many more, but look at what Paul is asking God to give to these churches (seriously go read it). Paul asks that Ephesians church would know God and the hope they’ve been given better. He asks that the Colossian church would know His will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

While we have been given redemption, we haven’t fully received it yet (1 Peter 1:4b-5; starting with “This inheritance…”). Continually, we are called by God to rely on His grace and love when we sin (1 John 1:9; Psalm 51; Psalm 32) and when this world causes us pain (Hebrews 12:7-13; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 62:5-8).

So when your heart is hurt, lean and press into Him because He can handle it and He will surely care for you (Matthew 6:25-34). Does He not receive glory when you run to Him? When you proclaim that God has healed you in your hurt and brokenness, does He not receive praise? Go to Him in your brokenness the same way a child goes to his parents in helpless surrender. Do not hold anything back because Jesus Himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Just run. Run as fast as you can into the river of grace that flows from Calvary. There is no need to cleanse yourself beforehand because the purpose of the river is to heal. In your brokenness, despair, anguish, hurtfulness, and sinfulness go to Him in total abandonment of self and repentance and drink deeply from that river of grace. This, too, is how God receives glory: not only when we serve and obey and sacrificially love, but also when we surrender and confess and repent and turn to Him. So if you are hurting, glorify God this day by running to Him and drinking from the wonderful river of grace.

In Christ Alone.

There is one thing I see constantly repeated throughout this life: it’s all about God. Marriage, driving, eating, friendships, fishing, baking, creating art, reading, listening, doing homework, sitting, breathing, living. It is all about God. There is nothing in this life that you can separate from God. Even sin plays its part for without it we would not have grace and the wonderful declaration of reality found in Romans 5:8.

Today has been a particularly difficult day. Words that describe this day are stressful, anxious, worry, confusion, pain. I’m sure that sounds familiar to everyone because everyone has days, weeks or even seasons like these. While my troubles are not of the caliber of a loved one dying or being diagnosed with cancer, they still bring tension to my life. All I wanted today was for someone to care. To ask how my day went and be genuinely concerned with my life.

I experienced something that isn’t new to me: people fail. I sought to be comforted by human hands and they failed. I’m not upset, mad or even slightly annoyed by those people because of two reasons. First, because people will always fail and I can’t expect them to be my savior in any manner. Secondly, It was a confirmation that I need to look to Christ to be my justifier and comforter. I love the image of Christ’s supremacy in Colossians 1:15-19:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Though everything was given to Him, He cares for us deeply and loves us and that is beautifully displayed in Romans 5:8, but also in Revelation 21:1-5:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

That is beautiful and that is the hope I have to look forward to! Today, this is how I saw that it is all about God: humans (me) fail and cannot be where I lean and press into when I’m hurting or where I find my ultimate source of love. So I will daily surrender any hope I might find in what the world offers and in Christ alone will I find love, attention, satisfaction, validation and care.

A Season of Change

Fall (or Autumn as some prefer) is said to be the season of change. It makes sense that this is the season of change. A new school year, new seasons of New Girl, and sometimes even new jobs. Well, this season has been quite the change indeed.

I just recently turned 20 years old which is quite strange to think about. As I look back on the last 10 years of my life I see a tremendous amount of work that has been done in my heart. I’ve been the “Jesus is my homeboy” guy to a disciple of the risen Christ declaring that Jesus is my life.

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Anyway, that’s really crazy and I’m excited for what God has in store the next 10 years of my life. One thing that is constant in my learning and that continues to deepen as I age is this understanding that nothing matters except God. 

That is quite a bold statement to the rest of the world. Really? Family, friends, and even one who might be your wife aren’t important? Okay, obviously I care much for those things, but, in the end, whom will have I have? I think Psalms 73:25 states it quite well:

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

I am reading through a book called Justification by N.T. Wright and he says this:

But we are not the center of the universe. God is not circling around us. We are circling around him. It may look, from our point of view, as though “me and my salvation” are the be-all and end-all of Christianity…But the real point is, I believe, that the salvation of human beings, is part of a larger purpose. God is rescuing us from the shipwreck of the world, not so that we can sit back and put our feet up in his company, but so that we can be part of his plan to remake the world. We are in orbit around God and his purposes, not the other way around.”

-N.T. Wright, Justification

As I read this, I wholly agreed with him. I know that, personally, a lot of my life has been about me. I’m starting to see the real picture of what life is about.

This would be comical if there wasn’t so much at stake, but we use God. We use God to get his stuff. We use God as a means to an end be it marriage (“just keep waiting”), a successful life (job, family, etc.) or for anything else in this world.

We hear that God loves us and that all he wants to do is make our life better. Well, that is true he does love us, but ultimately he wants to glorify himself. Is that our thought as we go throughout the day? I know for me it hasn’t been that way at all. I realized about a month ago that I was really living for God to get his stuff and cared nothing for him.

I surrendered his stuff for him, not solely because he will satisfy me more, but so that he would glorified in me and that people would look at him when they see me.

It was a very freeing and joyous moment knowing that I have Christ in me and that’s all I need:

“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

-Psalm 34:10

I would challenge you, thoughtful reader, to consider what is the end goal of your life. What is that one (or maybe multiple) thing that you want? A good way of figuring that out is by looking back at your day and asking yourself this question: what was I pursuing the whole day?

For some, it may be a relationship pursuing any girl or guy that gives even the slightest hint of interest. Maybe it’s a 4.0 so you lock yourself away from anyone who might distract you from that. Whatever it is, it holds you back from true life:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

-Jesus Christ of Nazareth (John 17:3)

Worship-less worship

Very recently, I was talking to a couple of good friends (Clint Harper and Elliott George) and they were talking about how sometimes people sing things they don’t understand. They commented that it’s becoming more common that the time of worship by singing has become equal to the amount of time the pastor speaks. Because of this, it is also becoming more important to correctly worship God. In the same way you wouldn’t have a theologically unsound pastor preach a church, why would we allow theologically incorrect worship leaders lead worship?

I completely agree with them. It hit me a little bit harder this week at the gathering (Tuesday night worship service on campus). I sincerely want to sing praises unto God Most High! It’s the words of truth that stir my soul, not just emotional feel-good lyrics. When we sing songs that speak of who God is in a way that mimics what the Bible says…oh the desire in my heart to pour out song and praise and fill the room with loud music.

A song entitled “What Do I Know Of Holy” by the band Addison Road is a great example of a song that pierces the heart. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

“I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees”

This is so true! Look at all the times in the Bible that God appeared to people! They weren’t all happy and smiley! They were terrified:

Isaiah 6:5

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Job 42:5-6:

“My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

And even the Apostle John, who had seen Jesus before, saw Jesus again in His Heavenly form (Revelation 1):

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

God is terrifyingly holy. Yes, He is our Father and Friend, but He is God. Jesus Himself says this in John 4:24:

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

If we are not worshiping in truth, then what are we doing? The idea of worship is to bring worth to our object of worship, hence it’s appropriate to call it worthship. Next time you are singing in church or any place for that matter, consider what you are about to proclaim.

Blog Updated

Hey everyone,

So I have updated and moved on. This will be my name blog site either forever or for a really long time. I have moved on because wordpress is simply more professional and as I have grown in my relationship with Christ I have had major overhauls of my heart that lead me towards different beliefs in different things. My Tumblr will be saved just as an archive for my own personal use to look back and see my spiritual growth. This will, hopefully, be more encompassing. I hope to make this more about my life so the hope is that it will include more than just text, but some of my photography and personal life as well. So here it is and stay tuned for the next post!