Tag Archives: christian living

Connection Problem. Learning to see and hear Jesus when the world is so loud.

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We’ve all had the experience of trying to get a hold of a friend, and after calling, the number is wrong, the number has changed, or when you finally connect, the signal is so weak that you can barely hear what the person is trying to say. This is a great picture of how our relationship with God is. Sometimes there are attempts, but they just end up unsuccessful.

I’ve been meditating on what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Fellowship is such a christian word, and has many uses. If I’m hanging out with my friend, I’m fellowshipping. For some fellowship means singing songs, playing games, or eating together. But you can eat together and not necessarily eat together. Sometimes you can be in the same house, eating at the same time, but not really in the same room, or even looking at each other. I like to use one of my wife’s favorite words in regards to relationship, and that word is connecting. Connecting is an intentional effort to spend time and communicate despite what is going on around you.

As believers it is easy to have problems connecting with Jesus. We gather together to fellowship with Jesus but a lot of times we go to church and we forget that Jesus is there. I mean we see the pastor, we see and hear the worship team, we see the random church guy that we don’t know. Its impossible to know everyone when you have multiple services and the church is large. You just never know who you are going to sit next to. With all of the programming, announcements, and activity it is easy to get lost. Sometimes church can be so distracting. I go to a really big and an awesome church with a lot of activity however distraction is not something that  only occurs at large churches; this problem can happen anywhere.

So how do we see Jesus with all of the activity? How do we see Jesus  sometimes we go through the motions at church. We go through the motions with Jesus.

Is Jesus really always with me? That really depends on us right. Jesus promised he would never leave us or forsake us, but that doesn’t mean that we would not leave or forsake him. I want to stick on this point because the biggest problem that I have and I believe we as christians have is that we are so earthly, that we fail to see Jesus.

Often we fail to recognize Jesus when he is right in front of us because he comes in a form that we don’t expect. In one of the judgements in the book of Matthew,Jesus condemns and rewards his servants based on whether they treated him well. When they ask Jesus, ‘when did we see you?’, he answers, ‘as often as you did it to the least of these you did it unto me’. Jesus underscores that he is always there always watching and expects us to serve those who we see as burdensome or who cause us inconvenience.

Sometimes we have connection problems with Jesus because we are disconnected at church and or home.  We need to be plugged into a local church. God commands us to. There are no lone ranger christians. I know church  can sometimes be trying, and there are people who can be off putting.  This is why church is so important because even in the brokenness, pettiness and sin we find in our church, we still find Jesus is there using it to conform us unto his image. When our wives are nagging or arguing with us, we are supposed to see Jesus. When our husbands as being dry, inconsiderate, indifferent or harsh we are to see Jesus in them. When your children are being rebellious and mouthy we need to see Jesus. It is not that it’s Jesus who is harming you but rather Jesus is calling you to exercise patience, forgiveness, kindness and love to someone who doesn’t appear to deserve it. We need to see people in the divine image even when they don’t see it in themselves.

We are ambassadors of Christ who call forth the divine proclamation of reconciliation and of a new creation. Our message to the world is that “you don’t have to stay broken down and defeated but you can be born again.” If we make it our goal to focus on seeing Jesus in the mundane and unlikely people and places we will find that like those 3D brain teasers Jesus is behind the scenes in more places than we think. When we are conscious of his presence, we are able to enter a deeper worship and fellowship with him and can say,  “I see you Lord. Thank you for your presence.”

Often our connection problems with Jesus come because we are looking at the wrong things. There are sins we need to repent of in order to be connected to God.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

We cannot walk in the dark and then pretend to come in the light. We can fool people but we can’t fool God. If we confess our sins, God is able to purify us and connect with us again.

Sometimes in spiritual things we fail to see Jesus. Sometimes we focus on form but not substance, on appearance not on spirit, on noise and not the gentle whisper of the Spirit. Even when reading the Bible, we can miss Jesus. This is what Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of in John 5, reading without seeing Jesus. The same thing can more easily happen with prayer. There are times when I am praying and find my mind scattered and frantic, my body tired and drained. In those times I find it hard to see Jesus. Sometimes we just pray without even trying to hear what the Spirit has to say back to us. This futile process will cause us to miss Christ as well. We must realize that our flesh is in opposition against things of God, and that we must overcome it to see him. Connecting with Jesus is a challenge in subduing our flesh and focusing on the spirit. For where the spirit is there is liberty. There is liberty because the chains of the flesh have been broken and we are able to experience new movement with little restrictions. Here’s a passage in Luke 19 that illustrates this in an interesting way.

2And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Zacchaeus knew his own physical limitations would limit his ability to see Jesus. He anticipated the obstacles and worked around his limitations so he could get a sight of Jesus. The devil will throw as many obstacles as he can to limit our encounters with Jesus, but when we seek to overcome them and wrestle with the flesh and seek a higher plane it is then that we will hear the master’s voice, Come down for I will dine at your house today. 

Each day I must strive to connect with Jesus. I need to be able to see Jesus as he is passing by.  I must connect with him and check in with him. I should submit my plans and have him give his approval or disapproval. This is the call of the disciple following the master where ever he directs. Where Christ is not present I must seek to bring his presence, not just as a vehicle but as a command post. Remember Gods command to Joshua every where the foot shall go I shall give you possession. We are to lay hold and build the kingdom and announce to all that this belongs to the Lord. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of.

Jesus promised us that he would be with us always, which is why he gave us his Spirit. When he commands us to walk in the Spirit he is telling us to be aware, to be focused, to be vigilant in our search for him. There is a great old testament image of this found in Numbers 9. After the Israelites escaped from Pharoah they were led by a  cloud, which represented the presence of God. This is how Moses describes how the children of God moved.

15On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 16So it was always: the cloud covered it by daya and the appearance of fire by night. 17And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. 18At the command of the LORD the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the LORD they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.

Where is the Spirit leading you? Where is Jesus taking you? He who has ears, let him hear. Keep your eyes on Christ.

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Being Born Again is your only Hope

If you have seen the Matrix, you will understand why this picture relates to the message. You need to be born again. Its your only hope.

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What I learned from Coco: Family and life after death.

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I recently watched the movie Coco last weekend with my son and like every good movie, it touched my soul. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. I heard Coco was a movie about the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, but I didn’t really know what to expect. There was something beautiful about the depiction of Dia de Los Muertos, that the movie brought to life, and it got me thinking about something in a very new way.

The bulk of this will not focus on why Coco was a great movie, because that can be summarized in a few phrases; great writing, great acting, great story. However for me the reason Coco is such a great movie is how it makes you think about family, life and immortality in a whole new way.

For those who have not seen the movie, the bare bones plot of Coco is the following. Miguel , the main character, is a young Mexican boy who is trying to escape the trappings and weights of following in his families tradition. He has a passion to be a musician, but his family expects him to follow in the traditions of his family and become the most exciting of professions; a shoemaker. His parents were shoe makers, his uncles and aunts were shoemakers, his great grand mother was a shoemaker, so it followed that Miguel must be a shoemaker, and kill his dream of becoming a musician.  His Grandmother, reminds him that is what his great great grandmother would have wanted. His great great grandmother Imelda had banned music as if it was some type of “witch craft”, so Miguel had to secretly play, but never in in the presence of his family.  Miguel could never kill his passion, but his passion for music almost killed him and would take him into the land of the dead.

The day of the dead is the one day where the spirits of the dead ancestors can come and visit those who are still alive, however in Coco the only way the dead can visit is if the family has an ofrenda; an alter with food offerings and pictures of the dead. Miguel screws things up for his ancestors as he loses the photo of the matriarch in search of his recently discovered musician grandfather. With the photo of the matriarch gone from the altar,  Miguel’s great great grandmother is left behind in the land of the dead unable to pass through. She ends up discovering Miguel is at fault, and encounters Miguel, who by magic has entered the land of the dead in search of his great grandfather, the “secret” musician.

The land of the dead is a wonderful and beautiful city, with its own outcasts, and heroes. There are spirit animals, and parties and celebrations all leading up unto the greatest party that culminates at the end of the day of the dead. Life is not eternal in the land of the dead. One only lives as long as you are memorialized by someone who is alive. This is where the importance of family comes in, and in the movie it becomes the driving theme as Hector needs to ensure that his grandmother Coco does not forget her father, who Hector finally gets to meet in the day of the dead.

Hector finally returns home, and the history of his family, and returns the photo to its proper place on the family altar, with a new addition. The movie ends in joyous celebration.

One of the big themes in Coco that relates to the gospel, is the central character Miguel’s quest to know about himself through his great grandfather. This quest in a very limited way mirrors the quest we all have to know who we are and why we are here. It is our quest to know God, the father. Miguel knew that if he could find his father, it would validate who he was inside. He knew that his families answers about who he was and where he came from was missing something. There was a truth about him that he had to find out. We all are in a quest to know who we really are, what makes us tick, what is our destiny, what are we here to do. The only real way we can find that is if we find it in Jesus, who shows us the Father.

The world says all kinds of things about why we are here. It essentially says life is accidental, and our ancestors were monkeys, and we will live our meaningless, but extremely fortunate lives and then die in insignificance. Because life is so short the world tells you to live it up and seize the day. Little do they realize that we have a father here who has been hidden, but offers us keys to find him, and in finding him we will discover not just about our life here, but the life in the forever after.  Look at what Paul writes to the church in Ephesians 2

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Bible tells us that we are living in the land of the dead now, and that earth is just a mere shadow of the world to come. The only way we enter that world is if we remember and have an encounter with Jesus, if he is on the altar of our hearts, not only does he visit us, but he stated he will take us with him in the new earth. If we deny Christ, if we place other things, success, wealth, relationships, other gods, or even saints above him, we will not enter the new world.

In Coco the dead live only as long as their memory lives, and though that works as a metaphor, in real life it is not true. We all exist and our known by God. We were made to live forever. The question is whether we live with him or we are banished away from the light and joy of the world.

Heaven is real, Hell is also real. Our lives have consequences, we must live with purpose, and the only way we can find true life, abundant life that passes beyond the grave is to find that life by looking to our father. The father God answers us in Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us we are to die to the things, the dreams and lies of the world, and when we do that in Christ, Christ promises to give us new life.

So what happens after we die. Scripture points to the fact that those who have put their trust in Christ will wake up and be with him, while those who have not believed will wake up to judgment. So there are some family we will not see again, at least not see them in the best of circumstances.

There are things that I want to incorporate from Coco, not the altar but the passing down of stories. I believe our families on earth are one of the greatest blessings we have. However I have another family, a heavenly one. Our spiritual families are of huge importance to us, and in fact are the tools God uses to help preserve our memories of Jesus. We experience God in a greater way when we worship God. When we worship together we share how God has been faithful, not just in saving our souls, but in the daily benefits, of how he gave us peace, he brought healing in our lives, he helped us overcome unforgiveness, unbelief, or blessed us with a new job or even a new child.

Underscoring all of this is our need to appreciate history, and those who went before us. This pertains to our own families, and our spiritual ones as well. Celebrate your history, share your stories and and hear the words of Jesus, and also from Hector, and our loved ones who encourage us to “Remember Me”.

 

 

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The Christian Response to Hate: Where is the Love

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5 Thoughts about Charlottesville

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History was made this weekend. Our nation’s under belly has again been exposed. America is indeed a melting pot but its got some serious leaks that if left unaddressed will lead to flooding and destruction.

  1. White Supremacy as well as any view that holds one ethnicity as superior over others is a demonic ideology that should be justly denounced by all people especially Christians.

2. Our country is being driven by extremists and people stuck in their ideological caves who can’t bear listening or trying to understand the beliefs or positions of others. Our culture loves screaming. Whether its in sports entertainment or politics, civil conversation and dialogue has been tossed out the door.  We need civility. We need a national conversation on race, and maybe a national review of history because its clear that many people want to revisit times when the church and government stood quiet in the midst of state sponsored and condoned terrorism. Our laws grant the right to protest, and to be able to express our beliefs as long as we do it peacefully. The merits of those beliefs are what need to be laid plain in public debate.  The ideology that  justified the extermination of the original natives of the land,  one that drove government policy to place Japanese in externment camps,  hang blacks, and lock them up for not having identification is akin to the ideology that is animating these protests. It is one that views all other races as subordinate to the White Race. It is abysmal. Let’s not get it twisted, the protests were not just about protesting the removal of a historical monument, but the rise of the New White Supremacists is a response to the growing minority population and a reaction to the charges of being called racist for wanting to hold on to the memories of a White America.

3. For our nation to thrive we must focus on the things that unite us without ignoring the areas where we are different. Our politics are more polarized then ever. We have gotten to the point where supporters of the other political party are considered our enemies. I have read comments suggesting they be hung, executed and or deported. This is ridiculous. We hate our neighbors next door, we are distrustful of anyone that doesn’t look, speak, or dress like us. We listen to our own media channels, and worse call anything that we doesn’t agree with our position, “fake news”. Its so easy to control you if you cannot even look or listen to other outlets. We have to use critical thinking. Remember the source and the character of the person you are listening to. Scripture points out that you will find wisdom in the multitude of council. If you cannot trust the media, then all you have is propaganda. If we have propaganda, then we no longer have an informed electorate and the basis of our democracy is dead. We are being controlled and manipulated by much larger forces, who are looking for more power and control of our government, our lives and our mind. The Devil is having a field day with all this hate. If you are getting to the point where you hate anyone who does not look like you, then you have lost.  That is what White Supremacy is about and on the other hand there are elements of other ethnic or sexual superiority on the other end of the spectrum. For Christians we are taught to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. How can we be christians when we hate our brothers who are of a different political party. How can we be christians when we are quick to break up families of people with different skin tones. How can we be christians when we are scared of muslims? I’m not even talking about the radical ones in the middle east, but any one with a a burqua or hoody. This is crazy.

4. Scriptures call us to speak out against sin.

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God 

10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

As believers we have to condemn Racism, in all of its forms. We cannot give a platform to bigotry. However the gates of hell have started to open up and if believers, especially White evangelicals stay silent, we will see it sweep through the populace, even in the church.

5. Finally we must continue to pray.  The American Church is being tested. What will we stand for? We cannot give in whole heartedly to any political side, for the kingdom of God is much grander and will not be supplanted by a political ideology. We have a gospel to proclaim, and not just one that saves us from individual sins, but against crooked systems.

29“The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 

The judgment of God is near, and we as the church need to intercede for our country, for our leaders, for our elected officials and for our brethren. We must stand against corruption, bribery, systematic oppression and for the poor, the needy and the immigrant that is passing through. My brothers, let us pray, for God is in the midst of separating the wheat from the chaff. There are dark forces that have arisen from the shadows, that will not return except through love, prayer and condemnation.

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5 Qualities in a Good Wife

 

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The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

So let me tell yall, that I definitely hit the lottery with my wife. So in my Fire Marshall  Bill voice (Let me tell ya something), this is a free bee, the best place to find a good wife, is in the House of God.

Regardless of whether you find a wife in the House of God, here are 5 qualities in my wife that every man, particularly Christian men should look for.

1. A Love for God

Let me tell you when I was looking for a wife, I needed to find someone who loved God. That is the first commandment that God has for all people. I did not want to marry someone who was apathetic about God. I did not want someone to dampen my zeal for God,  I have enough flaws as it is. I did not want someone who was going to send me to Hell. My wife has a relationship with God. Its why I married her.  I’m telling you if your wife does not love God and you do, you will have some obstacles trying to serve God. For those of you who may not believers, a wife who loves God can eventually get your butt saved, and save your from the biggest mistake you will ever make in your life. My wife loves God. A bonus about a woman who loves God, is even when you screw up, which you will, a woman who loves God will be a little more merciful. Fellas, I have made some bad decisions, and my wife has seen me through because she loved God. You will make mistakes, and you want to know your wife’s got your back.  A wife who loves God  will also point you back to the mercies of God. The bigger thing for me, however is I know I had planned to have kids, and I wanted them to have certain values and I wanted them to avoid Hell. As Christian men we have to live for more than this life, we know there’s a next one and I wanted my wife to help me instruct my children that there is a deeper life that we need to aspire to.

2. My wife loved me for me

Boy this is so big. I don’t think I have seen another woman who can compare to my wife on this point. Fellas, when I met my wife I was a broke grad student, with a bad wardrobe, but a good heart, and some decent looks. Fellas I married up. My wife had a better job then me, she was and is better looking then me, and had all kinds of guys after her. I still don’t know how I got her to marry me. She still doesn’t know. Since I married my wife, I got better jobs, better wardrobe and better looking. That’s what you call favor from God. My wife brought me favor. Men,  you want to know your wife doesn’t love your for your job, for your money, for your position, for your influence, for what you can give her materially. My wife loved me for me, for my goofiness, she loved me for my vision, and the little charisma I had. I told her as God blesses us I would provide her with the material things. Men I live and lived in Southern California, even the Christian woman can be materialistic, You don’t find many woman like my wife.  To add some perspective, I planned to be a missionary and travel the world, so I figured I wouldn’t be balling and needed someone who was willing to ride when God sent me. Men I know you understand that you don’t have problems blessing your wife, having someone who knows her worth and knows its isn’t measured by what I can or can’t afford to buy is a lost value.  I recently took my wife to Tiffany & Co to do some browsing and after checking out the selection my wife decided she just wasn’t that interested. She has her same ring, but wasn’t that interested in upgrading her bling.

3. My wife is my friend and made me a better person.

Fellas your wife has to be your friend or your marriage won’t work. I have shared my biggest struggles with my wife. She knows my darkest secrets and my dreams. My wife wants to talk alot more than I do, but that’s cool. At least I know she is interested in me. She genuinely likes me. She wants me as her companion, and as her confidant. I like going places with my wife, walking with her, watching programs with her. Dancing with her. Going to church with her. I can be myself without putting on any pretense. Some relationships are more like a business relationship, and when you have multiple kids its hard because that time gets limited. However when its just me and my wife I can enjoy her and tap into her mind. My wife also makes me a better person. I am a little more sensitive, though I still need to work on that. My wife makes me think less about me, and more about my family. She also challenges me to be more like Christ, and lets me know when I fall short.

4. My wife is a good mom

I always wanted to have children. My wife wanted children. We love our children. My wife is a great mom. She loves them hard. She loves them a little too much, but that’s okay. My wife preferred to stay home and help raise our children instead of her career. She was willing to sacrifice,  because she loves our children. She cooks for them helps them with their homework, and she loves it. Some women see it as a chore, she can at times but she genuinely loves being with our kids. I like knowing my children are in good hands. Fellas especially young men, these qualities are getting harder to find. My wife also can cook. Fellas this is a big issue. I like knowing my kids and I don’t have to worry about throwing our plates full of nasty food in the trash. I like knowing my wife teaches my children about God. She teaches them morals. My wife is about her family. She’s one of a kind. Single men, if you want a family, make sure your wife is a family woman.

5.  My wife is fine and virtuous 

After a few kids, my wife still looks good. She hardly ages. People ten years younger than us still think we are their age. When you are looking for wife find someone you are attracted to. Someone you don’t mind taking out in public. I’m kidding, but I’m not. Men our sex drive is strong, so its important to find someone who can meet that need. I’m so blessed to have a wife who turns me on . As Christians we don’t have the luxury of testing out our woman before we marry, or having different woman, but you want to be aroused by your wife.  You also prefer your wife not to be flirty with other man, and not to have extensive history if you can avoid it. There’s a lot of temptation out there for woman as well. You want your wife to be strong and avoid those temptations.

To my wife: Babe you are one of a kind. I know I found a diamond with you. You are all I could dream of and I know many men would love to have a wife like you. I still don’t know why you married me, but I’m so glad you did. I pray that God will bless you and increase you and use you for his glory.

To my readers: Men please find someone who possesses these qualities. If you do, you’ll  be better off in the long run. Make sure the one you marry will be down with you through the thick and thin.

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7 Things I Love About Stay At Home Moms.

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The modern world with its tendency to classify sociological trends did something interesting. It birthed the title, “stay at home mom”. This describes a sociological shift that occurred in part to industrialization, the rising costs of living, and the potential for greater earnings, where more and more women began entering the workforce. The shift was so great that it needed to distinguish the difference between a “working mom and a stay at home mom”. The biggest myth however when using such descriptors is that a stay at home mom does not “work”.

I want to give a special shot out to the oldest vocation in the world. In fact it is only due to the lack of compensation that it is not the oldest profession in the world.

Let me go way back, back, back, back, in time. Back to the beginning of time. Back to the original command given to man. God himself in Genesis 1:28 states

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This great command given to mankind could only be possible given the execution of this role and position; Mom.

The role of all mothers is not merely to usher new life into the world, a great feat on its own, but it is to train, nurture, instruct life enabling human flourishing. It is not just the birthing of the seed, but the tending and gardening of it to see that it realizes all the potential inside.

So here are 7 things I love about my wife and all stay at home moms.

You do it for the love of kids.
When most of the world focuses on compensation, you focus on the love of the kids. This may not apply to all moms, because there are some husbands who due to their overprotectiveness, or insecurity force their wives to stay home.Regardless of the reason, a mom who stays at home is home benefits the kids. Kids need their mothers.Our world is so crazy in that kids spend more time at schools, sleeping, than with their parents. What is even more disappointing is that the stress to place our children in preschool or day care at 3 months old or even younger robs children of that precious time when they are oh so impressionable and need their moms.

Your job is hard
A stay at home mom particularly is a teacher, a chef, a taxidriver, an entertainer, an advocate, counselor, and maid. Your shift lasts much longer than 8-10 hours and you get no overtime. The only raises you see, are the amount of noise and the cost of expenses needed for the job.What can you say, you do it for the love of the kids.

You guys are sooooo important.
In an age where there is so much pressure to get ahead, or to reach the american dream, its nice to know that the time sacrificed to be with the kids is worth not getting there as fast. Even if its a year, or two that you have. That time is invaluable. Time goes so fast. Treasure the time with your kids. Even when you don’t feel like you are making as much a difference, trust me your kids appreciate the fact that they are with their mom.

I know its lonely out there
Its hard being the only adult in the room all day. Its hard not getting to have adult conversations, and knowing your husband is out working potentially with other woman who are made up, and dressed nice. Yet you are not alone. There are plenty of mothers in the same shoes.

Its not about the money, but use it wisely

Its still hard but its easier to be a mom when your husband is making really good money. Not all mom’s are on the same playing field, some have to make it work with less. Super Kudos to those mom’s who can feel the pinch but budget, and use coupons, who save and find resources to make it all work.  Remember you are investing in your kids, but also remember each husband has his own expectations about spending. Please do your best to stay within those lanes. For those moms who are the accountants and manage all the bills, here’s a special shout out. You guys rock! Special shout out to my wife who always finds ways to take care of us without breaking the bank.

Make sure you get your self time
I have a great wife who always is thinking of the kids or for my well being, at the expense of taking care of herself. I have to tell her its okay to go to the gym. The kids will survive. She needs to relieve the stress. I am happy when my wife goes out with her friends and has a ladies night out. I know my wife loves when we are out and the kids are home and we have the time with just us. My biggest concern however for moms who are always giving is that soon you can begin running on fumes. Don’t forget about developing yourself. Never stop growing. Find ways to utilize your strengths, plan for what you want to do when your kids age, and you can go back to work. Be a mentor and help new moms. Read books. Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to get all dressed up , made up.

You are fulfilling the Great Commission

This is for all those believers who are mothers.Just as God wanted to populate the earth, he also wants to populate heaven. Do you know God counts the empty seats in heaven. Do you know once that last seat is filled, its time to wrap it up. Please disciple your kids. Please pray with them, read the bible with them, and imitate humility, mercy, forgiveness and love not just for them but for God and your husband. You are also their first pastor. Moms you are shepherds. Feed your sheep, not just material food but spiritual food as well. Moms you guys can impact and set a strong foundation for faith for your children while they are young. God honors that, in fact that was always his plan.Remember you are helping to unlock all the potential that is in your child.

 

 

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When your faith is weak

Here’s a podcast about how to respond when our faith is under attack.

 

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The one thing ISIS got right

ISIS Al-Qaeda Militants Fighting Syrian Civil War

Its amazing to see the phenomenon known as IS or ISIS grow in the speed it has. From a relative unknown faction fighting in a civil war, the group has grown from a local unknown militia, to world wide terrorist group. Fueled by political and religious motivations, the group has been recruiting young, idealistic, frustrated, disenfranchised and confused youth by skillful propaganda. Ironically, its draw; the invitation to take on the wicked governments who are killing women, children and civilians has been the very thing that ISIS has itself turned into. Beheading christians and muslims from other sects is a norm for the organization.  Now with members  in the tens of thousands, the group has been making gains in Iraq, and in Syria, but is now being opposed by coalition forces in Iraq, and by other rebels in Syria.

There are a host of narratives that are intriguing about the religion, politics, and eschatology as it relates to ISIS and its intersection with Christianity but the one I want to address is this question.

What if Christianity was as successful at sending new missionaries to the front lines as ISIS?

There are many different hypothesis that experts are using to explain the growing numbers of recruits. Some call it the perfect storm of propaganda, idealism, disenchantment, adventure and opportunity. We are seeing young people leave their homes, with out any consideration of their future, their families, or even well being to fight what appears to be a glorious fight, against what is being painted as “an evil enemy”. These people with no military background are jumping to the front lines and willing to give up their lives for what they consider an honorable cause. We know that these recruits are falling for a bait and switch, and that the righteous cause that they thought they were joining is really more wicked and depraved than the governments they are opposed to.Yet something has to be said about the undertone, the undercurrent and the narrative to be apart of something more about building a kingdom that has caused so many young people to join.

The words of Jesus come to mind when I think about the willingness to give up everything.

25Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Now, I know the phrase hate his own father, mother and wife will throw people off. Jesus is not telling his disciples to hate their families, because we know that Jesus’ main command is to love God and to love our neigbhors. What he is saying that we cannot let even the things we hold dear keep us from following Christ. In order to follow Christ, we must be prepared to leave the things we consider most precious to us, our family, and even our lives. These things may not always be necessary, but in the event that they do stand in the way Jesus says we should be prepared to give up everything. The invitation to carry the cross, is an invitation to death, its a call that says to follow Christ we must subordinate our dreams, desires, expectations, and plans and hopes for our lives for something greater. We are no to no longer focus on building our own kingdoms, but the kingdom of God. We must be ready to give our lives to following Christ and building his kingdom. My brothers and sisters in Egypt know this well, as many of them lost their lives to ISIS soldiers and recognized that this high cost of giving their lives was worth knowing and gaining Christ.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world,

We are invited to the greatest mission in the world. We are also fighting an enemy, a system, a corrupt kingdom with the greatest dictator of them all. He like Pharoah refuses to let his slaves go, and he is willing to fight tooth and nail, not only to prevent his citizens from leaving, but to reenslave those who have left his grasp. Our weapons however are not physical, they are spiritual.

for though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Our primary weapons are prayer, God’s word and disciplined lives of obedience. Their is an evil dictator that we cannot take down with AK47’s antitank weaponry, and bombs. The way we take him out is by our groups of militias (churches) praying , and preaching, and confronting the idealogies and false gods of this world, that are holding the world captive. We must discipline ourselves against sin, and make sure that we do not get carried away with the materialism, secularism, or racism that has imprisoned the world. We must love our enemies, and pray for them. To my brothers and sisters in Lybia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China. Please continue to pray for those soldiers who may be killing your family. Pray that they may come to the light. Pray that they may know the one true savior, Jesus. For my brothers and sisters around the world, let us pray for patience and strength for our family who is being persecuted. Let us also pray for protection and that the forces such as ISIS may be stopped.

There are many things that ISIS errors on, but the one thing that it got right, is it knew it had to invite people into a bigger story, a larger narrative. We as believers must invite people into something bigger, something timeless, something eternal. Its about establishing the kingdom of God and joining in the work of spreading the gospel around the world.

The world is a volatile one, and will continue to be one until Christ comes. In the mean time we must recognize who the real enemy is. Yes there are corrupt government officials, but there is one even more corrupt pulling the strings. The god of this world is using these so called leaders as puppets. I am by no means saying that we should not seek political means to fight, but we should recognize that they can only do so much.

We need more laborers, we need more soldiers in this fight. We fight on our knees. Please join with me in praying that those in darkness may come to the light. Pray for more laborers. Pray for your brothers in the West who have been caught up in living for themselves, and pray that our Lord Jesus may come soon.

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Superbowl: Putting the game in perspective

Its no secret that the Superbowl is an unofficial holiday in America. I’m surprised we don’t get the Monday off from work to recover from the food comatose that ensues each game. Besides Thanksgiving more food is bought for Superbowl Sunday than any day of the year.   Football has replaced baseball as the national past time, so it makes sense that the biggest game of the year is a big deal. Its no coincidence that many of America’s idols converge on Superbowl. The big four are entertainment, consumerism, sex and gluttony.

Many men in the church know more football players than bible characters, more NFL teams than books of the Bible. They spend more money attending games than giving to a church, more time celebrating touchdowns, and crying over defeats than celebrating their salvation and weeping over their sin.

Houston we have a problem.  Now I’m not some purist who doesn’t watch the NFL, though I think the college game is more entertaining. My personal sports addiction has been the NBA. I have been working on monitoring the time I watch and read about it.  I’m not here to say that watching games or even going to parties is wrong. There is a time for everything. A time for the Seahawks to repeat, A time for balls to deflate. A time for Brady to be shady and on and on we go.

I do think we as believers need to do more than have viewing parties at churches. I think we need to really address some of these issues and internalize how we are doing in dealing with our countries idols.  Isn’t it amazing the amount of garbage we will be fed during the Superbowl. There will be a couple of funny commercials, but along with those there will be plenty of sex driven ads for beer, food, or some automobile. I have never been a fan of half time shows, because without fail they will have some wierdly costumed singers, prancing on the stage doing some gyration usually with someone breakdancing in the background while patches of rabid fans are jumping up and down in adulation. There is likely to be some cooky imagery  and stage decorations which will convince you the stage designers are in league with the devil or “illuminati” : ) and for the most part the music will not be my cup of tea.  I mean if we throw a Shad, Andy Mineo and Dream Junkies (Don’t worry if you don’t know who they are) to perform maybe that would be something different.

Its sad to think that for many people without God, this is a highlight of their year, and yet when it ends then what. As believers we believe in something that transcends a game, a show, something that transcends the food, the friends, the ads. We are awaiting a King to return, and that’s when the real celebration will begin. The task then is how to communicate this truth with our friends, neighbors, and family. In truth we have to be as excited about our God then anything else. You know the Oscars are coming up, and I could write the same article and just move around a couple of things, because maybe you are not in to sports, but into film, or fashion, pageantry, and awards. The point is that the best that the world has to offer can not hold a candle to what we will experience when our God comes in his glory. But where does your greatest excitement lie?  I thank God for these events, and I praise God when he allows athletes on big stages to glorify him. I’m looking at you Russell Wilson. The application however lies in how can I communicate with my sphere of influence the goodness and greatness of God in my life, whether I’m “winning, or losing” , because with God we are always winners. That’s why Paul says, “We are more than conquerers through him that loved us.” So when the commercials stop, the madness ends, the last chip is dipped, let us be thankful, but prayerful that the world may see and worship the God to whom all glory is due.

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