I See Greatness In You

I asked God to speak to me today. In prayer, out loud – I said, “Lord, I want to hear your voice – to feel your presence and to know that you are for me.” And I waited on the Lord; I waited for Him to come. And He didn’t…Not right away, anyways.

But somehow, going through the motions of the day, Allie and I began to open up – sharing deeper and deeper longings and dreams in our hearts and taking the time to intentionally ask questions and seek out more intimate truths. Walking further into the caverns of each other and finding precious rubies in each others hearts.

Vulnerable moments. The kind that make you hesitate before you share. The impulse comes and you begin to speak but doubt clouds your judgment and stills your tongue – wait a couple moments longer and you’ll be silenced – and then again the words come to your lips, you take a leap of faith and let them escape, exposing yourself to the other’s impact.

In that moment, you’ve chosen to be known.

And insecure fear can race into your mind, forcing you to wonder whether or not you should have shared that intimate part of yourself.

And in those moments today, we both found Jesus looking back at us – the other listened, asked questions, and went to the King as their mediator, gently refusing to pass judgment or throw the first stone.

“I see greatness in you.”

“I see greatness in you,” my wife said as we paused and reflected on the wonderful day of sharing that we had experienced together. “It’s the moments you’ve taken in your life to be vulnerable with others and listened to their counsel that have led to your greatness today, and more greatness to come.” (Slightly paraphrasing. But the message was clear, straight from the Lord. Two separate messages. First – a playful, “I heard your prayer and answered it. Didn’t I?” Because He spoke to me, clearly, plainly, and beautifully – just in a different way than I had expected. The second message became clearer the more I meditated on the words my wife had spoken. “I’m proud of you, son.”)

“I’m proud of you, son.”

Unashamed. The Lord, my King and Father, is unashamed of me. He isn’t passing judgement on my weight or lack of income recently due to poor sales or my insecure worrying and constant pleas for others to pray for me, because of my disbelief in the effectiveness of my own prayers. He isn’t saying, “Go read one more chapter of the Bible and then I’ll pour out my love and affection upon you.”

The story of the prodigal son is true. It’s my story and it can be yours true. A ragamuffin, troubled by the thorn in Paul’s side, recovering from addiction to counterfeit affections by God’s grace. Every memory of hurt and torment, every word of abuse, every fragile friendship that experienced abandonment, Jesus has offered to take those from me and to replace them with His love. All I had to do was let Him in. Never once after letting Him in has He cursed me with residency in my past, dooming me to a life of shame. Rather, He’s freed me from my shackles and shown me His powerful mercy and grace. To the point that my beautiful, outstanding, strong, faithful, kind, merciful, Christ-like wife said, “I see greatness in you.”

Words that melted my heart, softened me to His Love. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. I’m accepting myself because He accepts me – not as an acquaintance and not even as a distance friend, but as a son – a son that He is proud of.

vulnerability

Forgotten Lessons

Brothers & Sisters,

I’ve been reading off and on, “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan throughout the course of this semester. I’ve finally finished the book! Perhaps having to visit the doctor on Saturday was a hidden blessing as it gave me much time alone with God, without many distractions to spend studying, praying, reading, etc. The book is essentially about the power of the Holy Spirit and the way that today’s churches are set up in ways that do not display a dependence or apparent need for the Spirit to come through.

Francis Chan writes, “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.

Challenging perspective, right? Do we live our lives for Christ to such a degree that we are desperate for Him to come through in the body of Christ? More specifically, in our personal lives do we live in such a way?

Read the following passage:

“I think that we all could agree that living ‘according to our sinful flesh’ is not what is intended for us as children of God. Yet even so, we often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God. We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers. While it is true that we are humans like everyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us…”

Here’s the kicker…

…Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, ‘I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them myself.

Personally, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve looked at my problems through this lens, to where I said to God, “but wait a minute, what are you doing, LORD? I think I know a better way…” He must be up there laughing as He patiently waits on me to realize just the opposite, that I need Him to take the reigns.

The truth is that “He desires to do more than ‘help out’ a bit. He wants to completely transform us. He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place–life change just as miraculous as fire coming down from heaven.” A few pages later, Chan writes, “God wants the praise for what we do in our lives. But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them?” O that we would develop a heavier heart for prayer, to seek the LORD for wisdom regarding every matter of our lives. What will it take before we surrender and realize our absolute desperate need for the Creator to assist in the lives of the created?

Finally, I want to share with you a story that I believe we should read and be mindful of, going forward as “the church”…

“A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body. The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.”

Can we, as the church, with confidence, say that this has not happened within the context of our gatherings? Have we loved deeply to the degree that shortcomings and flaws have been overlooked, that we may love unconditionally and share the grace which has been so mercifully shared with us? Unfortunately, I believe that there are times when this is not the reality. Only one thing is capable of changing hardened, apathetic, and stubborn hearts like ours (notice that I include myself), and that is prayer. Prayer, I believe, is the most under-utilized resource that Christians have at their fingertips, yet never seem to fully use it to its’ potential. Let’s pray that God would build His church, an unstoppable force, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit. (Francis Chan)

In conclusion, I have some questions to consider. Will the Holy Spirit continue to be the “Forgotten God” that Chan writes about in his brilliant book? Will we continue to live our lives in such a way that they could have been lived without the LORD? Shall those that witness our lives say that we lived no differently than the rest of the world and that nothing stood out, or set us apart, from the rest? “My prayer as I’ve written this book,” Chan writes, “is that it would not merely add to your knowledge. Maybe that sounds strange, but I mean it. Often in Christian circles we talk about truth in lieu of applying it to our lives. We hear an incisive sermon, discuss at lunch afterward how ‘great’ or ‘powerful’ it was, and then never think about it again, much less allow the Spirit to change us through it.

I pray that we would choose to live in a such a way that truly reflects the glory of the LORD, that leads us to repentance and to a way of life that would truly, desperately, need a Savior to save. LORD, “speak loudly and drown out the other voices calling us to conform to the patterns of this world. You are the Spirit of self-control and love. Give us the self-control needed to deny our flesh and follow You. Give us a love strong enough to motivate courageous action. Manifest Yourself through us that we may serve and love Your bride, the church, as You do.” Amen.

A “Fearless” Conclusion

Today, I finished reading Max Lucado’s book, “Fearless”. First of all, I highly recommend his book to absolutely anyone. It has surely opened my eyes to the incredible amount of fear in our world and renewed my mind according to God’s will, regarding what it is that I should fear, and what it is that I should not. If you are interested at all in what I pondered this afternoon, as I began to draw a few conclusions from what I had read and what I felt God was attempting to teach me, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following journal entry that I ended up writing as a result…

Fear has a way of setting the world on fire; men and women hungrily eat up tidbits of dreadful news through every avenue of media they can. I’ve witnessed this with motherly figures in my life. Women that have positions in which they have nurtured and matured me throughout the years and whom I certainly love. They watch hours of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline, 20/20, and other shows that will remind them of the dangers of the world. It’s like a sick addiction where scary news must be read, shared with others, and fret over, while good news is quickly forgotten.

Forgetting seems to be a common issue that Christians deal with. God constantly reminds us to remember throughout the course of Scripture. Ministry leaders must remind us frequently that God is still there and He still cares. Christians, we have to remember. If we forget who our God is, then who will tell this broken and depraved world that there is indeed someone who can save them!?!?! God is here! Our Savior has come and will surely be coming back.

The old idiom, “you are what you eat,” can be taken quite literally. We will become whatever it is that we fill ourselves up with. If you feed on the fear that media wants to feed you, then you will be fearful. If you read magazines that tell you to worry about the shape and size of your body, then you will care far too much about your looks and potentially become critical of others. If you sip from the sex-crazed goblet of romance novels, pornography, and sensuality in general, then you will indeed become a sexually immoral being.

What if we began to fill ourselves up with the words of God? He says to us, “Be strong and courageous”, “do not fear”, and reminds us that we have “not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood”. If you want the world to change, then change it; one broken heart at a time…starting with yours. Yes, even your heart needs healing and indeed our minds need to be renewed. If you fill yourselves up with God’s Word and His Spirit, then you will surely become more and more Christ-like each day and the people in your life NEED Jesus’ love. Let’s face it, you and I are not capable of loving others to the degree that they need to be loved, especially if we are not filling our cups to overflowing with His gracious, perfect, and merciful love on a daily basis.

Ready for the bottom line? God is God. If one truly reveres (respectfully fears) God, then all other fears cease and courage is born. Max Lucado stated, “Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers.” How incredibly true! “When God is fully revealed to us and we ‘get it’, then we experience the conversion of our fear…’Fear of the Lord’ is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” At the bottom of the same page, Lucado writes, “A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.”

Imagine a country filled with men that actually feared God…Imagine what they would be capable of under the direction of the Holy Spirit…Imagine how much your life would differ if you concluded to live a life that is free from the fears of this world, but maintained a healthy dose of the sobering fear of the LORD. Imagine…how friendships would be deepened, marriages restored, families brought together, nations united. The imagination is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that God has given us. Anyone tired of simply imagining? Who is ready to make their wildest, Christ-centered dreams a reality?

It would appear that Max Lucado shares my love for coffee, as at the end of his chapter, “Caffeinated Life”, he writes, “Eternal glory. I’d like a large cup, please. ‘One venti-sized serving of endless joy in the presence of God. Go heavy on the wonder, and cut all the heartache.’ Go ahead and request it. The Barista is still brewing. For all you know, it could be the next cup you drink.” Christians, it is time to walk away from the paralysis of fear. It is time to truly live. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” (Max Lucado) Lay down your pride, O Christian, fall on your face before the LORD, admit that you are not adequate for the task as your forefathers have (even Jesus relied on prayer, do you think yourselves to be more capable than He?), ask Him for His blessing, and when He touches you, lifts you up, and instructs you to live according to His purpose, free from fear…then do just that. Live obediently.

Continuing the Fight,

Justin

Restless Heart

I know that You’re there

I know that You’re real

I know that You’ll spare

I know that You’ll heal

 

I know that I love You

I know that You’re mine

 

Yet the pain has me blue

Eyes distracted, I whine

 

Sure, it’s not preferred

Nor suggested

Sure, I’ve conferred

Yes, arrested

 

The ideas absurd deep within

That keeps me distraught;

Keeps me witherin’

 

It’s probably a drought

 

I’ll give it time; I’ll jest

I’ll keep the faith; I’ll rest.

 

Tonight, I choose You

Nothing else is enough.

Tomorrow, I’ll choose You

Even when it’s rough.

 

Nothing else satisfies

Nor will suffice

Nothing else gratifies

Nor will thrive.

 

Now Jesus please captivate;

Renew my attention.

 

LORD, speak! Make me still…

Submit my restless heart to Your will!

 

And as I drift off to sleep,

Father, I give you my heart to keep…


All Talk. No Walk. Tick-Tock.

Verbally professing one’s faith is absolutely essential to the continuation of the Great Commission, as well as shining the light of Christ into a very dark and sinful world. Without people preaching the Word of God, sharing their testimonies, and studying Scripture with one another, no one would be fed the living bread they need to stay alive and Christianity would go extinct. So if you are bold and courageous enough to take heed to Romans 1:16 and are unashamed of your faith and you are fulfilling the commission Jesus gave all of us in Matthew 28:18-20 then THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service in this area.

Now, with this being said, there is a certain issue within Christian spheres that I would like to shine some light on. Before I continue, keep in mind that this is a plea and a press towards righteousness and is in no way a form of condemnation, nor am I saying that I have perfected this in my own life. That disclaimer being said, let’s proceed.

I’ve yet to meet a Christian who did not want to talk about what they believe in. We are a people of fellowship, always wanting to discuss theology, doctrine, and how we perceive Jesus Christ and Scriptural truth. However, I’ve been challenged recently by witnessing some of the projects the youth of Olathe East High School’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) have been working on. Lars Hanson (Lars Hanson Testimony), a teenager seeking to graduate from high school, is a leader within the group of young individuals and I am deeply moved by his service, testimony, and ability to teach from God’s Word. It’s young men like him that remind me why youth ministry is so awesome and moving. My love for youth ministry aside, these students have put into ACTION the things they’ve been learning. By serving the community around them, praying within the school’s four walls, leading teammates to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and much more.

Shouldn’t this spur us on? I’m a 21-year-old and I think my faith can often pale in comparison to the faith mentioned above and in my previous blog “Selfless” where I talk about the faith and servant’s heart of Jed who wants to be a missionary. I believe this should certainly fuel the fire for the older generation of believers to take steps of faith and to MOVE; to take action and to move mountains for the LORD.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

So will you join me in taking action? Men, we are called to lead, to stand up for what is right. Those who know the good they ought to do and don’t do it, sin (James 4:17). Therefore I challenge you and I challenge myself to man up and to meet the call of the Lord on our lives; to serve wholeheartedly, love unconditionally, and to live counter-cultural lives of humility, submitting to the authority of the Lord and living in reverent fear of our Heavenly Father. We must constantly remember who it is that we serve.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Time is running out brethren. Life is “but a breath” and before you know it, your friends, coworkers, classmates, family members, and many others will be dying before your eyes, having never seen the Gospel of Christ actively shown to them within your life and the lives of other “believers”. So, will you change this trend? Will you begin to profess your faith more boldly? Will you not only verbally share the message of freedom in Christ but also display it to others by the life you live out?

Tick-tock…..tick-tock….tick-tock……….this is an urgent matter. Time is running out! Praying for you brothers and sisters in the faith!

Selfless

How many hours in a day do we spend thinking about, or working on, our plans? We have to-do lists, calendars, planners, Facebook events, etc that we must constantly remind ourselves of in order to keep up with the whirlwind lives of our peers. It’s a competitive world out there. Information Technology (IT) companies spend a lot of money on figuring out ways to increase download speed, the quickness of receiving data on cell phones, etc. In fact, a recent commercial by one of the major cell phone companies talks about how things were “so 27 seconds ago” (they had already received the info. before their friends).

At the white-knuckle pace our lives move; it’s a wonder we have a chance to interact with anyone in the first place. No wonder so many Americans and “first world” countries have increasing amounts of people suffering from depression and other emotional/mental disorders. We all have a desire for human interaction, human contact, a desire for someone to care about us, to notice that perhaps we’re not having the sunniest of days. Or, maybe we simply want them to notice the new haircut or pair of shoes we’ve recently acquired. The sad truth is that often, each of us finds ourselves in the backdrop of everyone else’s lives. To use a movie reference, we’ve all become extras, instead of playing supporting roles or co-stars. Essentially, we have no real impact on the film, or the lives of our peers.

We must ask ourselves the question: Is this how life was meant to be? Is it better for us to continually compete and step on each other’s toes or is it perhaps better for us to live lives that are counter-cultural, and in humility, serve those around us?

Think about the last time someone served you; did something out of the ordinary and went out of their way to make your day better…It made an impact, didn’t it? You still remember! The sad thing is that you may not be able to remember because we’re all sadly so incredibly selfish.

So, I have this amazing friend Jake. Words truthfully could not do justice to the relationship that has been cultivated between the two of us over the past couple years as brothers in Christ and as very close friends. Anyways, recently he’s been sharing stories with me about a young teenager that attended Camp War Eagle (a summer camp for underprivileged kids) where he was on staff a summer or two ago. Jed, the teenage camper is giving his life away for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A few months ago he was texting Jake about how he realized his computer had become his idol and he was going to destroy it. So, he and his youth pastor literally destroyed his computer; that he had saved up for and paid for on his own. But he didn’t want anything hindering him from following the LORD wholeheartedly! The story doesn’t end there though, recently this young disciple of Jesus has decided that he wants to give his life to missions and would like to do missionary work in Haiti, the inner city of Chicago, and wherever else the LORD ends up leading him. In fact, he’s so serious about it, that he’s already began fundraising, not only for himself, but for some friends to go with him to Haiti in order to serve the LORD.

As Jake told me these stories, I was incredibly challenged. How easy it is for one to talk about how great it would be to serve God wholeheartedly and yet how few and far between are those individuals who put that faith into action. Jed has his heart set on leaving the legacy of Christ behind. He’s not focused on accumulating wealth, finding a wife as soon as possible, or playing it safe here in America for the rest of his life. No, he wants to literally give up his comfort and pleasures so that he can give his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that perhaps a few may be saved! That, my friends, is incredibly selfless.

So here’s the challenging thing to think about…what would the world look like if we had the same faith and obedience that Jed has? I’m truly inspired by this young man’s sacrifice and wholehearted devotion to following his Heavenly Father with every fiber of his being. It is truly phenomenal. I’m drawn to this passage when praying over this topic:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Matthew 6:19-21)

If you are surely in love with Christ, then are you finding your treasure in His Kingdom? Or, are you attempting to rule a kingdom of your own. If the latter is your choice, then I must warn you that moth and rust will destroy your wealth and that once your heart is no longer beating and your lungs no longer breathing, then your life will suddenly have ZERO value. Your net worth will be $0.00 after it is all divided amongst your living descendants.

HOWEVER, if you were to live a life that was selfless; gave up everything and followed Jesus Christ with every bit of strength the Holy Spirit blesses you with…I would argue that your life will certainly hold much value. So much value in fact that it could not be measured in terms of money or points, but rather it would priceless; as you’d saved souls and brought them into the Kingdom of Heaven saving them from the fiery furnace of Hell! What could possibly be more worthwhile on this earth than doing that?

Pain

Life is easy. No one sheds a tear or has self-image issues. There isn’t any hurt or bitterness, right? Actually, that couldn’t be more WRONG! One is blessed with certain gifts when they have a relationship with Christ as their Lord and Savior. Some are gifted with evangelism; a heart that is driven by sharing the Gospel with the lost and bringing new brothers and sisters into the Kingdom of God. Others are gifted with understanding and relating to others. I believe one of my gifts is being able to understand others and lately a side effect of that has been empathy. In plain English that means I am well aware of what others are feeling, whether it is joy, sadness, fear, etc. The sad truth though is that as I’ve looked into the eyes of my friends, coworkers, and strangers, and as I’ve heard their stories the emotional quality that is most common is pain and sorrow.

 

This simple truth is plaguing my heart right now. If pain is so common and if sorrow and feelings of emptiness trouble so many of us then why do many of us pretend that everything is alright? American culture has taught us that we must have everything together. To appear broken and contrite is to lose your dignity and any chance of finding success, right? Well, that is certainly what the world has taught us.

 

Friends, I want to plea with you to change your heart on this. We do NOT have it all together, nor do we have to pretend that this world is all sunshine and rainbows. The reality is that the grass is not always greener on the other side and unfortunately there is never a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. (Sorry if I just broke the hearts of some of you who believe in fairy-tales) Real people who have real relationships and are going through real life WILL experience pain. So, with this in mind, let’s have a conversation on being hurt and broken…

 

A primary example of this that almost everyone can relate to would be the pain one feels when their parents tell them that they are disappointed in them. Within the mere seconds that those words leave the lips of one’s Mom or Dad, the heart of the child is immediately ripped to pieces. I don’t care how tough you are or how callused your heart is toward hurtful words; few words will hurt you more than these.

 

On a deeper level though; pain is more often brought to us by the terrible things that others have done to or against us. There was that one kid in elementary school that would just not let you have a good day. When I was in the third grade, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and in order to correct it an orthopedic doctor prescribed a back-brace. From that day on, I was known by many of my peers as “Brace Boy”. And at the age of 21, I still have that seared into my memory. There are some days when my 8 year old sister comes home from school in tears. When I ask her what’s wrong, she explains through sobs that one of her peers told her that her dress was ugly and made her look fat…My sister is EIGHT! As the older brother and having the protective nature that I do; one can imagine how I wanted to react in that situation. With fists clenched, I reassured Brianna that she was incredibly gorgeous and created in God’s image and that she couldn’t ever be more beautiful than she already is.

 

I’ve been reading Mark Driscoll’s book, “Death by Love”, which is essentially a series of letters that Pastor Mark has written to various members of his congregation. There are FEW books that have ever elicited an emotional response from me as much as this one has. Turning the pages through the various situations some of them have been in has literally made me cry. Hearing how some of these women have been forced into sexual relationships with men they didn’t want to. Learning of the prideful arrogance of some men; reading about how a woman was unfaithful to her husband during their engagement and then didn’t tell him until after they were married. All of these stories are filled to the brim with pain. But that’s real life…

 

As I’ve studied these stories and as I’ve looked at my own life; the root of at least 80% of the pain I’ve been through is caused by sin. Sin that I’ve either committed personally or sin that others have done against me.

 

Brothers…Sisters….Friends, please turn from sin! There are so many of you that claim to be believers, yet your private life is filled to the brim with sin. Some of you spend so much time making yourself appear righteous and holy on the outside by doing all of the right things, reading all of the right books, but on the inside your heart is filled with sin! Maybe that sin is adultery of the heart. Maybe it is pride. Perhaps you hate your brother and therefore are guilty of murder but regardless your heart is sinful!

 

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

 

As this passage in Matthew makes crystal clear; the way that one appears on the outside is not important. It is the heart God concerns Himself with and by the heart you will be righteously judged one day. One of the most humbling realizations I’ve made is that the honest truth is that we either love sin or love God. You simply cannot love both, nor can you serve two masters.

 

This is certainly heavy stuff. It should be of no surprise if this sort of conversation makes you weak to your stomach or elicits an emotional response. In fact, my prayer as I write this is that many of you are driven to tears of repentance. I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts and reminds you of the injustice you’ve done against others and the heartbreak you’ve caused them. And I pray that the message of the Gospel and the healing that it brings is able to rebuild your hearts; that God will change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh as Ezekiel 11:19 states.

 

Family, I love you very much and am deeply aware of the real pain and suffering you are going through. I assure you that the only thing you have to hold onto is Jesus Christ. His unconditional love, overwhelming grace, and underserved mercy is the only thing that will bring your heart and spirit true healing. Only God has the power to change hearts. So pray that he changes yours my friends. I desire nothing more than to see your hearts radically transformed by the message of Jesus Christ and to one day walk with you and rejoice in the streets of Heaven. My heart simply cannot bear the thought of a single one of you being devoured by the fire of Hell. However, I love you too much to not remind you that if you do not turn from your sin and if you choose to live in disobedience to the LORD, then you WILL be subject to the righteous wrath of God.

 

Sincerely,

Justin Meyer

Where Is the Life Change?

Chances are that if you walk into a coffee shop, grocery store, café, music hall, school, or even a local church, 80% of those people or more will claim to be Christians. If you were to take a survey and ask each of them, they would claim that they were saved. By doing so, they would be claiming that they are followers of Christ. After all…it’s in the name….CHRIST-ian. My question is does that 80% of the American world really know who Jesus is? Besides the stories you’ve grown up hearing in Sunday School about the cute and cuddly baby Jesus, or the Jesus shepherding the fluffy sheep, and inviting the kids to come and sit with him, do they REALLY know who Jesus is? Do they KNOW who their Lord is? Do people even understand the weight of Jesus Christ being Lord?

In medieval times the title “Lord” was given to individuals who typically owned a large amount of land and had a particular amount of power. They would provide the citizens of that community with protection and the resources necessary to stay alive and in return the citizens would pledge their loyalty to the Lord and serve him in every way required of them. So is Jesus Christ REALLY the Lord of your life?

So back to who Jesus is….not only is He the Lord, but he’s THE Savior! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down into the world and took on the human form. He lived in the same body that you and I live in and experienced the world in which we live in. He faced temptations, felt pain, tasted fruit, breathed the air, spat into the dust, and loved. The incredible part about the story though…is that unlike EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, Jesus Christ of Nazareth NEVER sinned. Not once did he break one of the 10 Commandments. Not once did he waiver from the will of His father. He lived a perfect life for 33 years and in the end was flogged, nailed to a cross, was crucified, died, and was BURIED for YOU!!! His flesh was torn apart because I sinned. He winced in pain as whips lashed his back because you live a life of sexual immorality.

The crazier part…He ROSE FROM THE DEAD three days later, conquering death, so that we, the sinners, the ones that deserve NOTHING short of death can be saved and can have the opportunity to enter into a relationship with Him.

Which brings me back to that social gathering place where 80% of those there will claim to follow this Man, this God, this Lord, Savior, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. How can they claim to know Jesus Christ and then continue living their lives in the same ways that they always have? Why is it that there have been times in my personal life where I’ve gone to youth group and then that VERY SAME afternoon logged online and started viewing pornography, making me guilty of adultery, directly disobeying the Lord. Maybe sexual immorality isn’t your stumbling block….maybe it’s anger. Or maybe you’re prideful and refuse to be humbled, maybe you’re selfish. But my question once again is HOW can you claim to KNOW GOD and NOT live a changed life?

Galations 2:20 says, “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 Man, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

I spent hours this summer thinking about this verse and examining my own heart and relationship with Christ. I asked myself, “Do I wake up everyday and decide to die to who I want to be and who I am, so that Jesus Christ can live in me? Does the life that I live reflect who Jesus was and is? And most importantly am I living by faith? Do I BELIEVE that God can do HUMONGOUS things and change the world through ordinary, imperfect people like myself?”

Here’s THE CHALLENGE: Chances are that YOU are in that 80%….chances are that you have claimed to know Christ. Please, I beg you, examine your heart and ask yourself the same questions. Can you look back on your life and pinpoint the moment where you decided to TURN from the ways of this world and TRUST in the Lord, therefore SURRENDERING your life to Him?

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

My hope and prayer is that you will choose to make the decision to turn from the ways of this world and trust in the Lord and then you will begin to apply Scripture to your daily life, making you CHRIST-like! Isn’t that what it’s about anyways? Having a personal relationship with Christ and becoming more and more like Him as your personal relationship becomes more intimate. Similar to how you pick up some of the mannerisms, catch phrases, and other various characteristics of your close friends…

I’ll leave you with this…Paul Washer often says to “new believers” this…”Do you have a new relationship with sin? Because if you have a new relationship with Christ, you better have a new relationship with sin!” Meditate on those words and by the Grace of God may you die to yourself and LIVE in Christ’s name! I will be praying over every single person that is to come across and read this.

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

God at Work

For those of you that have stayed up to date on my blog and various writings, then you’ll know that the last thing I wrote was “Warrior”, an article written to declare war on sin as the body of Christ. Toward the end of the entry, I asked two things of readers. One was that they would join me in the war on sin and the second was that readers would be lifting me up in prayer, as I knew the fight would become even more difficult than before. I knew this, because I had just publicly declared war upon my sinful flesh and the seductive ways of the Evil One.

The past couple weeks have certainly not been easy. My flesh has battled me every step of the way, as I’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to continue the transformation of my heart, mind, and body. Regardless of the minor setbacks and hardships… in comparison to the Magnificence and Majesty of the King; life has been good. Fellowship with friends in my hometown over Spring Break was refreshing and very needed.

I’m pleased to tell you that the Lord is at work! Not only in my heart, of course, as we serve a God that is omniscient and Sovereign beyond our comprehension. Every day I learn more and more about my Father’s incomparable greatness and it is an honor to be serving him daily.

A friend of mine wrote me the other day stating that he had read my note “Warrior” and had decided to declare war on sin, along with me. His addiction to pornography had been a battle for him for some time; not uncommon; and he was ready to fight back! Since that moment, the Holy Spirit has blessed him with the strength to deny his flesh the gratification that can come via the false seduction available online. Glory to God as He is at work within the hearts and souls of men!

Another person I know (I’m being vague in both circumstances to protect the identities of these individuals of course) had been dealing with the usage of marijuana. He began to seek the counsel and fellowship of other brothers in Christ and asked us for prayer. Through prayer, Scripture, and various other resources, he was able to declare war on his flesh by deleting the number of his dealer, setting up accountability with one of his closest friends, and much more!

It is SO EXCITING to see the LORD at work! A brother in Christ and I went on a prayer walk prior to Spring Break…we prayed for the campus, for our friends, for the community as a whole, and that the LORD would begin to work! Remember the story of Jericho in the Bible? Well, he and I prayed that the walls people have built around their hearts, their reputations, and much more would come crumbling down! This may sound scary…and in a way it is! But how exhilarating it has been as prayers have been answered, lives have been changed, and conversations have started!

Brothers and sisters, I thought that these first-hand accounts of the Lord being at work would possibly encourage you and spur you on. Hopefully they have. I will and have been in constant prayer for all of you. Please remember that we are called to live in community with one another and cannot fight alone. Find a brother/sister in Christ who will race towards the frontlines of battle with you; picking you up when you fall, healing wounds through the Spirit, and pushing you beyond your limits through Christ!

Blessings,

Justin Meyer

P.S. A quick shout-out to my friends HipHop and J-Weazy; the Pearlescent Shepherds! They JUST dropped their new single. For their entire last album and recent single for free, check out http://pearlescentshepherds.bandcamp.com