Taking Every Thought Captive

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is the battlecry I didn’t know my heart needed. I spent the majority of my morning wrestling with my thought-life, as I have for the past few days. Having difficulty sleeping due to anxiety revolving around thinking or perhaps even lack thereof. Over dinner the other evening, I shared with Allie that I felt the world went by too quickly sometimes and I wished there were more time to think and ponder. Interesting for a man to wish for that who is often consumed by destructive thinking, but I meant in the hustle and bustle of the monotonous, everyday it’s easy to forget to dream or to listen to God’s voice and leading.

I found myself restless this morning, wrestling with temptations to be lustful or bitter or to covet the riches of others. A lack of contentment led to a feeling of anxiety and a general wrestling that led to a need distract and accomplish – a need to avoid listening to my heart and to God and to bury myself into something – so cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry it was. Contrary to the norm of remaining in those life-stealing thoughts and/or numbing myself by seeking the entertainment of Netflix, etc. I found myself listening to a sermon on “Do Not Be Anxious” taught out of Philippians. It’s a frequently utilized passage that I’ve read, studied, preached to myself and to others, numerous times. But God has a way of teaching us something new with the same verses sometimes. And this time, I felt a call to action.

A sort of “enough is enough.” Allie’s shared with me that a tactic her parents used when she was having a pity party as a child was to tell her that it was a “Party of 1.” Meaning they weren’t going to entertain her ideas and stay there with her, but she was welcome to join their party of forward thinking, whenever she was done wallowing. I’ve since seen it used as a gentle anecdote to bring me out of my own pity parties of one. And so enough was enough – there was nothing healthy coming of staying in those dark, deceptive, depressing, deviant, distractions from the truth, known as my own negative thinking.

I’d equate pessimism as a habitual thought-cycle, a sort of systematic mind-numbing addiction. An unsatisfactory result occurs and your neural pathways have trained themselves to assume failure, which to no one’s surprise leads to further failure because you didn’t take the time out of your day to plan and to believe in yourself long enough to make a change. And so you did the same thing, “expecting” a different result – the very definition of insanity.

And so I laid on the bed, exhausted from going on a cleaning rampage to calm myself and had a heart-to-heart with God. “Lord, help me take every thought captive for your glory. If it’s not from you, help me to submit it to your will and to send it away from me. Heal and renew my mind. By taking my thoughts captive, I ask that you’d set my heart free so I’d be alive enough to be me.”

Scholars on addiction and thought-process have come to see that in order to retrain one’s impulses, whether they be thoughts or actions, it is necessary to identify triggers and to plan new responses. So instead of getting anxious and throwing back a few beers like you did in college, maybe you’ve now matured and have started going to the gym instead. For me, I think that whenever I’m faced with anxiety, anger, depression, or any kind of unwholesome thinking, I’m going to have to train myself to pray. But not only to pray – but to believe in the power of prayer and in its effectiveness. Then to make a move, take a step in a direction, sure of my footing because I’ve submitted my will to the Lord and pressing forward rather than remaining in the same place.

So long, stagnancy. Goodbye, evil. Farewell, apathy.

Enter Jesus. Together, we’re Taking Every Thought Captive.

taking-every-thought-captive

Awake!

“Do not fear, O children of God. Do not worry, children of Jerusalem. Men and Women of the United States; brothers and sisters of Manhattan, KS, the Kingdom is coming! Rise up, shout, praise, sing, and dance! Victory is coming! King Jesus has won. Away from us, evil one. Your dwelling place is not here! This city has been claimed by the Holy One. In The Light, there is no darkness at all.” (Journal Entry, 8/25/2012)

We have been living far too long as if our lives will amount to nothing. Perhaps I should not speak on behalf of all of you, so allow me to restate that…I, Justin, have been living far too long as is my life will amount to nothing. “Absolute nonsense!” says the LORD. As Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is my declaration of faith; my ‘salvation-verse’, so to speak. If Christ of Nazareth and His Spirit is truly to dwell within me, then how could my life amount to nothing?!?! That is to say that Christ, Himself, shall amount to nothing…What a radically idiotic statement.

As you may see from my journal entry above, dating back to the beginning of the academic year here at Kansas State, my heart has been heavily burdened with awaiting upon the LORD for the redemption of my city, Manhattan, KS. LORD-willing and dependent upon hard work, diligence, and an incredible amount of GRACE from the Holy Spirit, I will graduate from this great academic institution in a matter of months. To what degree will my class have impacted the 23,000+ hearts/souls on the campus? To what magnitude will they have experienced the deep, compassionate, life-changing love of Jehovah Jireh, LORD of Lords, KING of Kings, Adonai, King Jesus?

I believe the answer to many of the aforementioned, rhetorical-questions lies within another simple, yet difficult, question: How SURRENDERED are each of us (you AND me) to the LORD? Essentially, to what extent have we laid aside our personal ambitions to satisfy our flesh, that we may live by the Spirit, for the Spirit? C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Hell is a place where you always have to do whatever you want to do.” We must come to a greater realization of our depravity and inability to do anything good by satisfying our own sinful desires in order to give up our constant pursuit of counterfeit-affections. A deepening understanding of our sinful hearts leads to a greater dependency upon the LORD and an undeterred gratitude for the beauty of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection!

Now, how can I expect you (the reader) to deeply consider this, without placing my heart on the table, that you may see my own need for total surrender to the LORD. If anyone desires for others to take a step in the right direction, then they should have already taken two steps that way. It is in this spirit that I’d like to share another journal entry…

“LORD, I have neglected Your love and chosen counterfeit forms of love/affection that have robbed me of my ability to fully love, dwell in, and serve You wholeheartedly. Please wash over me in your grace, mercy, and love…Above women, I will serve You. Above money, I will seek You. Above status, I will love You.” (My Journal, August 2012)

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) PERSEVERE.

Trials will come. More likely, trials are already occurring. There will be many efforts made to deter the body of Believers from pursuing the LORD wholeheartedly and keeping them from bringing others into the Kingdom of God. The #1 way for the enemy to oppose The Church is division. We must realize this and make every effort to counter attempts to break us apart. Above all things, it is necessary that we walk in total surrender to the LORD, allowing His Love to wash over any and everything we do. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

If you read, remember, comprehend, or enact ANYTHING from the things I’ve written, allow it to be the next couple sentences….WE MUST WAKE UP! There is constant spiritual warfare taking place all around us. The course of real lives, hearts, and souls are on the line as we interact with and serve alongside people daily. One hurtful word or a single harsh action could be all that it takes for a seed of doubt or bitterness to form inside the heart of any individual (myself included). Members of the Body of Christ, we are called to holiness. The word “holy”, means to be set apart. In the case of pursuing the holiness of God, we are to be set apart for the service of the LORD in every circumstance, seeking to live above reproach by the strength of the Him who sends us.

It’s insane to consider the concept that the Creator of the Universe has enlisted me in His plan for the redemption of the LORD…A friend of mine, Rachael, stated it well earlier this week, “Think about this: God despises sin AND He knows everything…..so how is it I am still alive!? Because of love. Uhmazing.” If there is even a hint of humility within your hearts, this statement should resonate within each of your hearts. Praise Him for the grace and love provided to cover over our many sins and short-comings. Through His provision, it is indeed possible to live a lifestyle that is above reproach.

May the LORD use these words of exhortation to awaken hearts and breathe life into our hearts and souls as we endure the race that is set before us.

The Next Chapter

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Many things are separated by chapters. The use of chapters in books informs the reader that a new idea, story-line, etc. is being introduced and that one has reached its’ conclusion. Sometimes the authors will leave us sitting on a cliff-hanger, not entirely sure of what is to come next, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, it is time to turn the page and continue the journey that is found within. It turns out that life has chapters as well. A chapter for childhood; being raised up under the direction and strict discipline of our parents who teach us right from wrong, a chapter for teenage rebellion, a chapter for young-adults/college-students; learning a lot from your own mistakes, the grace shown by others, the hardships life has to potentially offer up at some point, and so on. Around this time last year, I was writing a post titled “Time Flies and Season’s Change” and how true that is! It is safe to say that I am not the same man that I was and it is fairly safe to say that you are not the exact same person that you were a year ago either…time changes things…it changes us…and as we change, a new chapter begins.

I graduated with the Class of 2008 from Olathe Northwest High School! Many of my peers graduated the same year and have recently completed their undergraduate studies at Kansas State University and other universities across the United States! Congratulations to those of you that were disciplined, demonstrated perseverance, and enough intelligence to graduate in the ever elusive four-year time period. To those of you that have another year or so to go…I’m right there with you!

Regardless of graduation status, many of us are turning the page and beginning to write the next chapter of our lives. Some are getting engaged, others starting relationships, some dedicating themselves to singleness for a period of time to seek out the LORD, some are ready and seeking, and some are ALREADY MARRIED.

Friends, graduates, brothers, sisters, married, unmarried, etc. I write to you today with a single appeal to our generation as we step into the next chapter of life; whether it be landing a corporate job, marrying the spouse of your dreams, devoting your life to full-time ministry, etc. I desire for all of you to keep this in mind as you take those steps…

Grace is absolutely essential to the advancement of the Kingdom of God and to the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, grace is a rarity. We live in a judgmental society; passing judgement on one another for wrongdoings. In fact, calling someone judgmental is announcing judgement. Therefore, currently, as I write this, I am being judgmental. I NEED GRACE. Without your grace, I will be accused of bigotry and slander. With grace, this can be viewed as a message to encourage, challenge, and strengthen the Body.

Forgiveness is difficult. But God is love. And “[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) My friend Bryce recently wrote on his Facebook page, “Stars shine in a dark night as a reflection of the sun. Without the sun the stars can’t shine. Christians shine in a dark world as a reflection of Christ, [The Son]. We can’t shine without Christ.” We are indeed a reflection of our Savior…or…more accurately, we SHOULD be a reflection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If this is the case, and it is, then we will learn to genuinely love others. We will grow in our ability to extend authentic, no-strings-attached, grace to one another and to others outside the community of Christ.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Paul, often viewed as one of the ‘superheros’ of The Church, was weak and sinful at the core, but he had given his life to God, submitted to him as His disciple, and rested in his position as one of God’s beloved children. If God’s grace was sufficient for him, then is sufficient for us as well.

LOVING OTHERS, without regard for their wrongdoings, and EXTENDING GRACE, even to those who have hurt you is NOT easy. I struggle with putting this into practice in my own life, but I am taking steps toward it and would love it if you joined me in this journey.

Let’s conclude the chapter of our lives where judgement, condemnation, and superficiality play starring roles…Pray with me that, as we turn the page in life to the next chapter, God would begin to write in ink the story of unconditional love, authentic grace, and overpowering redemption in each of our lives and in the lives of those we impact.

Humbled By Grace,

Justin Meyer

1 Corinthians Discussion

Dear Friends,

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly been making my way through 1 Corinthians. It’s been a challenging study, as many perspectives of mine are being challenged/questioned through Scripture. We know that “The Body” aka The Church is made up of many parts and some are gifted with wisdom and understanding, others knowledge, and so on (1 Corinthians 12 on spiritual gifts), which led me to the conclusion that sharing my uncertainty with others could possible bring about a positive dialogue which enriches all of our perspectives with the knowledge and person experiences of other readers and their personal relationships with Christ! That being said, I’m VERY EXCITED and strongly encourage you to participate in the discussion which I hope to create over these passages.

I didn’t come across too many confusing/troubling aspects of the first two chapters, but if you’ve got any questions over those, feel free to share! The first thing I’d like to discuss can be found within 1 Corinthians 4:3-5,

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

Verse 5 is intense. He will EXPOSE the motive’s of our hearts! Wow, turns out we’re not as sly as we may think on some occasions. God knows and WILL bring those things to the light. How silly of us to think we could hide from the God whom created us from the dust and placed us in our mother’s womb?!?! 

Here is where things get confusing for me…Chapter 5: 3-8 is Paul’s response to a recent sexually immoral act committed by one of the church’s members. Someone has slept with his father’s wife and Paul says,

“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed  judgment  on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satanso that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” 

So basically, Paul is now saying that we shouldn’t pass judgement in Chapter 4, but now in Chapter 5, he’s stating that he IS passing judgement as if he were there with them…THEN, Paul instructs his church in Corinth to hand the man over to Satan in order that he might be saved. If you can shed light on this, please share, because logically I cannot comprehend this instruction!

Moving right along…to Chapter 6, Paul discusses with them lawsuits among believers and how it’s ridiculous that they cannot settle such matters within the Church as it is a bad witness. “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated,” he states in 1 Corinthians 6:7. But then comes the topic of marriage! Get excited all of my single friends! No one can argue that within today’s culture, a 20-something single man and woman are under an incredible amount of pressure. In order to be established as a ‘successful’ member of society, one must graduate, marry a ‘respectable'(who gets to define exactly what that is anyways?) counterpart, become employed, and make their elders proud in all aspects of life. But what if Scripture were to throw a wrench in all of these plans? What IF one was called to be single? What IF one was called to be single…for the rest of their life? Paul’s position is that “it is good for a man not to marry.” I really encourage you all to read Chapter 7 as it will certainly challenge many of you to seek the Lord in regards to marriage. OBVIOUSLY, I’m not saying marriage is a BAD thing. I’m straight. I hope to be married to a beautiful woman someday, BUT shall it be the Lord’s will, I should be able to be content with that…and according to Scripture…so should you.

Alright, I’m about to open up a can of worms, so prepare yourselves. Let’s discuss gender roles within the church. Particularly women’s. “Oh no he didn’t!” But oh yes I am…haha. Before continuing to read, pull out your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16.

Within this section of Scripture, we are taught that:

  • Christ is the head of every man and man is the head of woman.
  • Men should not pray or prophecy with their heads covered.
  • Women should cover their heads, otherwise they dishonor themselves as if their head were shaved.
  • Man is the image and glory of God. Woman is the glory of man.
  • Men and woman need each other.
  • It is disgraceful for men to have long hair.

Now, I don’t know about you…but I didn’t grow up in a church where women were expected to cover their heads and to be silent within the church? Women generally don’t wear anything to cover their heads (for some reason I have the image of bonnets from “Little House On The Prairie”). AND a majority of my brothers in Christ have gone through periods where they sported longer hair. BUT, isn’t this the NEW Testament? Aren’t these teachings ones that are valid and something we should wrestle with? So…I’m wrestling with them and am confused. What are your thoughts on gender roles within the church? Within some divisions of Christianity it is acceptable for a woman to pastor the church. Is there Scripture that supports this idea? (1 Corinthians 14:33-35 continues the conversation…)

The last area I’ll take the time to cover and invite discussion over is the concept of spiritual gifts. The primary section to focus on would be Chapter 12, which just so happened to be titled “Spiritual Gifts”. After reading through this chapter, it is discovered that the Spirit is manifest in many ways. There are gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. My main question is…where are all of these spiritual gifts hiding?!?! I believe the power of God is real and present in current-day, ABSOLUTELY. And I’ve witnessed friends being healed before me through prayer. But when was the last time you saw someone speaking in tongues, or found one whom could interpret tongues in such a way that edified the Body of Christ? What are your thoughts on the spiritual gifts? Are they still alive and well today? And if they are…then why are they not present within the modern day churches of America for the most part.

Thanks for sticking with me through this journey! PLEASE comment with your perspective on some of the things I’ve mentioned and feel free to present any questions of your own. We can work together to bring about a greater clarity and more concrete understanding.

Blessings,

Justin Meyer

Flirting With Darkness

How far is too far? What can I get away with in this situation? Will I end up getting caught at some point? This isn’t necessarily wrong…is it? Or my personal favorite, “well I didn’t necessarily lie, I just omitted part of the truth.” In a society filled with lies; falsified legal documents, hacked personal sites, shady business practices, and relational conflicts stemming from white lies told during our numerous gossip sessions (don’t even get me started on gossip…), there is much darkness.

We all know that this world is a broken and dark place, so get to the point Justin. Okay, okay, I will. My family of professing Christians, many of you are no different than the world! You embellish stories to make yourself seem the bigger man, you judge others in your cynicism, and often gossip about one another; rarely considering the lethal consequences this can have to relationships. There is a REASON that God instructed us to avoid such a practice 8 times within Scripture (Proverbs 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, 20:19, 26:21-23, Romans 1:28-30, 1 Corinthians 12:19-21).

One of my favorite lines from a Mark Driscoll sermon was when he said “I didn’t say your name…He did!” referring to the Holy Spirit as he addressed a crowd of men who had just been stripped of their pride. Keep this in mind if my above statements rattle your cage and you feel your blood begin to boil with defensive accusations of “I’ve seen this in your life too!” Oh trust me, I’m well aware. I’m a sinner, saved only by the grace of Christ, and any good thing that comes from my mouth, any worthwhile action, any fragment of holiness that has EVER been produced on my behalf was done by the work of Christ in my heart and life. I take full responsibility and blame for anything that is lacking in my character and life, as Christ has given me EVERYTHING that I need in order to overcome sin and to pursue righteousness. It’s a simple matter of SURRENDER. But oh how we loathe surrender…

We’ve convinced ourselves time and time again that we are capable of controlling our sinful nature and we fail every. single. time. Satan WANTS you to believe that you are capable of withstanding temptation on your own. “You don’t need accountability or to pursue the strength of Christ in order to overcome the power pull of greed, lust, anger, and the like, you can do it on your own…” We love those words of affirmation that the Devil offers us and allow them to feed our pride, giving birth to arrogance, which produces a cold and stubborn heart that despises rebuke and calls to righteousness. Hence allowing ourselves to become numb and apathetic to the ruthless effects of sin in our lives and the lives of those we love.

Brothers and Sisters, you CANNOT overcome sin on your own. You are absolutely incapable of any form of righteousness without Christ. Do not be fooled. Do not listen to these pitiful lies the Evil One feeds you daily through media, self-help books, ill-advised friends, and many other sources. You MUST seek Christ!

Fellow Believers, we must flee from darkness!

Genesis 39 depicts the story of Joseph who was being tempted by Potiphar’s wife to come back to bed with her. What does Joseph do? He FLEES! He runs…

 Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

We must not allow ourselves to walk precariously along the edge of the Grand Canyon of sin. The analogy being that you wouldn’t want your child to play in a busy street, so your rule might be that they play in your yard or on the driveway where they are safest from harm. However, if they wander too close to the street your natural response (or at least my Mom’s) will be to call out for them to come back closer to the house where they are under your watchful eye.

If you are reading this, God is calling you back to His House. He doesn’t want you disobeying and playing too close to the street where you are in danger of being hit in a head-on collision with the fatal consequences of sin.

Stop flirting with darkness and pursue the Light; Seek Christ.

The Battle: Dying to Yourself

           When you’re in a conversation with another person, the first question asked within American culture is typically “How are you?”…If we’re honest with ourselves, the majority of us ask the question not for the answer of the person we ask, but for the general custom of reciprocating that question. In plain English, we’d rather talk about ourselves than know how others are doing. This is human-nature…in the natural state. Terms like “I”, “Me”, “Myself”, “Mine”, etc become the prefix for a vast quantity of our spoken and written sentences. I’m guilty as well. It’s very easy for me to write to you about myself… how I’m doing, what I’m feeling, the things that have been on my mind, but it’s difficult for me to focus on things that are not of selfish nature; not self-oriented.

            All people have certain shortcomings. Some aren’t punctual. Others gossip about their friends. And yet others are simply apathetic to the world around them. All of which are sinful. God created us to love Him and love others. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to love ourselves…we are commanded to love others as we love ourselves (because God already knows that we love ourselves way too much, which is what makes it difficult for us to love others to that same degree). Society has taught us that in order to be successful, we must have good self-esteem. Our teachers have told us to keep our heads up and to never lose. We’re always selling ourselves to the world.

I’ve got to be honest with you…I, Justin Meyer, am not a very good product to sell. There’s that filthy self-oriented term “I” again. I can’t figure out a way to write this part without it though, so bear with me. I’ve gotten into credit card debt and lied to my parents about it. I’ve dabbled in the sinful world of lust. I’ve squandered a good year or more of my college-education being self-absorbed; whether via social media, chronic-depression, or a very selfish focus within my relationships. God has blessed me with the cream of the crop when it comes to fellowship. Few will ever have the caliber of friends that I do. To those of you that read this, I am incredibly grateful for your patience and unconditional love with me.

The bottom line is that I will fail. Every. Single. Time. I have given up…its okay though. This needed to happen in order for the next leg of the journey to occur. Galatians 2:20 states, “For I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” A few chapters later in Galatians 5:24-25 it says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” So why is it okay that I will fail every single time? Because I must die to myself anyways. The old Justin Meyer MUST be put to death. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” By the power of the cross, I can become a new creation under the authority of Jesus Christ!

Now, by absolutely no means is this easy…I don’t write to you as an expert. I’m an amateur and have much to learn from those before me. Thankfully there’s the Word of God that captures many faithful brothers and sisters in Christ whom have gone before and walked life on the straight and narrow path. There is much comfort, exhortation, and hope to be found in Romans 6 on this issue though. Take a minute to slowly read the chapter that I’ve copied and pasted from BibleGateway.com below. I would’ve only selected a few verses, however, I feel that the entire chapter is very important and speaks the truth of God far better than I could place eloquently into type.

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.

The main point made is that I no longer have to be a slave to sin but I should joyously embrace the idea that I am a slave to righteousness should I choose to follow Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior with all of my heart. Authentic followers of Christ are incredible difficult to find in the world we live in. 1 John teaches us to examine our hearts often to see if we have been diligently following Christ. I must say that the past few weeks I have certainly not been walking the straight and narrow, but rather I have been attempting to patch the holes in a sinking ship. The ship being me: my dreams, my efforts, my plan. Well folks, that ship has sailed and it has been sunk by the storms of life, the mighty hand of God, and because I was the captain of that ship.

I’ve found myself on a deserted island with nothing but the relationship that I have with Christ, His Word, a notebook, and a few faithful friends that have pledged to stick with me through thick and thin. The battle to die to myself has just begun. In order to advance the Kingdom of God and allow Christ to dwell within me, I must allow myself to kneel before God and state that He has control. Something that is incredibly difficult for a man to do, since we are so prideful in nature.

I mentioned earlier that my personal weaknesses are being self absorbed especially through social media. So through the very strong urge and encouragement of a friend that cares about me immensely, I’ve given him my passwords to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that I can only be on them for short periods of time when he’s around. I’ve deleted my Google+ account and Netflix account. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I WILL succeed this semester by the grace and power of God. I WILL give my life over to sharing the Gospel and making Jesus look as good and faithful as He is; whether in conversation, at the gym, or in my professors’ offices when asking for help on my rather intense class line-up.

My prayer tonight is going to be Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

You can join me in this by praying that God truly becomes my ‘everything’; my portion forever. Also, those of you reading this should seriously examine your hearts as Scripture exhorts us to do and see if you have truly died to yourself and have allowed yourself to live by faith in Christ alone. My prayers are with you all this evening!

Blessings,

God’s Servant

What if…?

For centuries human-beings have never stopped asking questions. Since the beginning of our existence on this planet we have wondered about the existence of the heavens and the stars. We have sought to the find cures for sickness and we have asked philosophical questions about the meaning of our very existence on planet Earth. One of the driving questions of society today is “What if…?” For example, “What if the sun were to stop shining?” “What if our planet ran out of it’s resources?” And for centuries scientists have evaluated hypotheses to see if they could scientifically reach the correct conclusion. “If the sun were removed from the equation, then life could not sustain itself.”

Being a human-being and a curious one at that, I feel myself inclined to ask a “What if…?” question that I believe could change our entire perception of our lives. Are you read for it?…Perhaps you’re not ready just yet, so allow me to provide you with some background and reasoning behind why I feel it is necessary to write this…

A few years ago at Olathe Bible Church (my home church), one of the pastors took us through a series entitled “What if the Church?” To this day, those teachings have stuck with me and I believe have impacted me to the core. It was the kickoff series to a region-wide serve day in the suburb of Kansas City. But you would not believe the absolute incredible impact that it had upon the community. Several neighboring churches jumped on board with the idea and THOUSANDS of people served on the set day. It was incredible to see how the LORD used the obedience of a few pastors to lead their flock towards serving the local community; effectively reflecting the unconditional love of Christ and heart of service that all of God’s children should have.

Provided this background, I believe you are ready for my question…What if those who proclaim to be Christians ACTUALLY lived their lives in a Christ-like way?

I believe it is absolutely fundamental for a believer to desire to be Christ-like. As Christians, you are therefore claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. There are many “Christians” that do not understand this concept. To them Christianity is simply attending a church service on Christmas and Easter and updating their facebook profile so that it reads “Christian.” I firmly believe that in order to be a legitimate child of the LORD you have to experience a much more significant change. I believe Paul Washer stated it best when he said to someone who claimed to be a new believer, “You think you’re a follower of Christ?…Well do you have a new relationship with sin?”  In another sermon Washer is quoted saying, “The sign of a genuine work of God in the heart is that you begin to hate the sin you once loved and to love the righteousness you once ignored.

Take a minute to take these quotes to heart…and then open up your Bible to 2 Corinthians 5:17, which states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We must absolutely HATE sin and love Jesus Christ more than anything else in order to follow Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul as we are called to do.

So then, what if…believers were actually Christ-like?

What if…you served? All throughout the Gospels there is example after example of the LORD’s absolutely unconditional love for His children. My favorite is found in John 13. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, the Savior, The God-man, WASHES his disciples feet! This was a task for the lowest servant in the household. And yet…Jesus got down on his knees and proceeded to wash away the dirt and filth from the feet of his disciples and then says,

“Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)

Jesus has instructed us to serve others, so let’s do it! Not with a heart of resentment but with a heart that loves Jesus Christ so much that we desire to display our love for Him via our obedience to His Word. Brothers and sisters, SERVE OTHERS!

What if…the media you watched brought glory to God? There is not a single person that cannot tell me they do not expose themselves to media throughout the day. We live in a culture that is absolutely saturated with media. We love music, films, news, etc. It’s easy to pop in the new action-comedy. It’s easy to spend my day surfing through ESPN and various CNN articles. But what if, instead of watching that action-comedy I soaked in a sermon? What if, instead of listening to the culture-filled hip hop, I listen to Lecrae or the Pearlescent Shepherd’s gospel-filled lyrics? Regardless of what we tell ourselves. Media DOES influence our perception of the world. So let’s be mindful of what we allow into our minds and hearts…

What if…you cared about others? Jesus CARED about others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, brought light to the dark places, and just overall CARED. Shouldn’t we care?…When was the last time that you said, “How are you doing?” to someone? Next question…when was the last time you actually listened to that person’s response? The greatest gift we can give to others at times is simply listening. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve just needed nothing more than for someone to listen to me. If you see someone is having a rough day, then go out of your way to encourage them! It’ll make a huge difference, I promise.

What if…the church was more than a building? Most churches back in biblical times were simply tabernacles (tents) where people met to celebrate the Sabbath. But they were FAR MORE than that. Churches were COMMUNITIES. They were places where brothers and sisters in Christ came together and encouraged one another. Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another.” In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about the tremendous need for unity within the church-body! So make church more than a building. Make church a community of believers passionately striving to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly.

My concluding thoughts lead me to my final question, which is, what would happen if followers of Christ lived out their lives for the glory of God; reflecting His unconditional love to others in every aspect of their lives?

If history teaches us anything, then I believe the answer is revival would be found within the church. When a community of believers actually live their lives out in faith, when Christians are on their knees crying out to the Most High God, and when we live our lives in a continuous state of joy, THINGS HAPPEN. Incredible things happen. The joy within the body of Christ is contagious. The church growth is exponential and unstoppable. And suddenly even the largest obstacles that Satan could possibly muster up could not defuse the on-fire spirits of these Christ-followers!

Ok, I lied, one last question…

With these things in mind…what are you waiting for?…Let’s take the teachings of Jesus to heart! Let’s live our lives for Him and NEVER look back!

Blessings and Happy Easter to all,

Justin Meyer