First off, let me credit my favorite band, Red, with the title here, since it is the title of their last album.
Secondly, if you’ve never listened to Red DO SO!
So, this post is about is about about finding beauty in pain and suffering
If you’ve gone through or are currently going through something that is making your walk with Christ difficult, please let me know and I can be praying for you!
Typically, when I start going through a hard time, I make a note of it and call it a Crucible. Webster’s Dictionary defines crucible thus: a severe test.
We’ve all gone through one. Look back on your life and you will find at least one or two…or maybe 14 if you’re like me. And they’ve all done me an amazing amount of good by the grace of God. I may not like them while I’m going through them, but I do thank God after they have passed because upon further reflection, I’ve found that my faith has grown as a result and that it has definitely removed a lot of bad things in my life. God loves to toss His people into the metaphorical fire so that they can come out and be even better than before. Unlike the purification of certain precious metals where there are still impurities in them, when God wishes to remove an impurity from our life, nothing remains.
But how does going through a crucible affect us personally? Well to be plain and simple–IT SUCKS.
At some points while going through it, we wonder if it’ll ever end because it seems like there is never any end in sight. It took me a while to realize this, but God doesn’t let us see the end of it–because at least in my life, if I am able to see the end of something and that I’m getting closer to the end, I tend to slack off a bit. However, God does place Himself in our path and says, “My grace is sufficient for you–take up your cross and follow me.”
Crosses are meant for what? For dying. Christ calls us to die to our old selves–if you’re in Christ you are a NEW CREATION–the old has gone, the new has come.
This transformation is not easy and it certainly wasn’t easy for Christ. Let me ask you one question…
Why do you think Jesus sweated blood during his last night on earth?
It wasn’t the beatings.
It wasn’t the Romans and the Sanhedrin mocking him.
It wasn’t even being nailed to the cross.
All of those things on their own would have made a normal person crack and give up. No, what made Jesus almost crack was the apparent facing off against his Father’s wrath. And that alone should scare us if it caused Jesus to sweat blood. But Jesus understood that it was needed in order for him and God to be glorified. When Jesus rose from the dead, he was no longer a man, but completely God.
So I just leave you here with this: when God disciplines us by putting us through a crucible, it will never feel good. You will feel amazing and more free in Christ after it passes. But once you are in the midst of one, remember the crucible Jesus had to endure in order for him to achieve his Father’s glory and to achieve his purpose in life–which was to bring mankind back into a right relationship with God and to have the most personal and intimate relationship with God…
Also, just want to share why I love Red so much!
My prayers go out to all of you!
Find me on Twitter!
Before moving on to reading this post, please read the passage of Scripture I am referencing, which is Romans 8–the whole chapter. It speaks of how we become God’s children through spiritual adoption by the death and resurrection of Christ…
For readers who do not know, I work in child welfare. It is an extremely saddening, stressful, and overall emotionally laden job. But in my work, when things work out–whether the child reunifies with their actual parent or becomes adopted by another family, it is a very fulfilling job.
But it is on the adoption aspect I wish to focus upon. And for this, I’m going to bring in a snippet of my own personal life story. I grew up in a single parent home. My mother and father divorced when I was 9 years old and my brother was 5 and a half years old. I don’t remember much of what happened around then–just that my dad had stopped living with us and I was confused and upset as to why that was–like I was at fault.
A few months later, my mother got accepted to law school and we had to move. To my mom’s credit, she did her absolute best to make sure I was able to have a childhood–meaning that the stresses of life didn’t hit me. But try as she might, I had to grow up faster than she wanted me to. She was going to school full time and working full time just to make sure that we had everything we needed to live everyday. Roof, food, and clothes and any other bare essentials.
Get the point?
During this time in my life, I felt abandoned by my dad–extremely. I never heard from him and never saw him unless my mom took us up north for vacations in Minnesota where he was and even then it was minimal.
I’m looking at all this from 20/20 hindsight and I’m seeing how God acted in my life as a father. And I can really see how my own spirit was crying out to God in this way. You see–boys and girls need a father, father figure, or a strong male role model in their lives. For boys, it is the father that is supposed to be model for them to grow up to be strong, wise, and godly men. For girls, it is the father that is to model for them how a man should be treating them–and how to judge men when they are seeking their future husband.
In my life, God appeared to me in three different ways in a fatherly role through others in my life that helped and guided me to become the man I am today. These three different forms are: mentor, disciplinarian, and servant.
I. Mentoring aka discipleship–2 Timothy 2:2 and Proverbs 27:17
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” ~2 Timothy 2:2
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” ~Proverbs 27:17
Every man of God has a responsibility to teach.Whether it be in a church, home, or with a young man. A boy who is to grow in Christ but is without guidance is like a ship without a rudder to tell it to go left or right. And this goes for women as well! We are the body of Christ, a family of believers united with Christ as the head of all of us. Even though that in our own spiritual lives we never stop learning from God, it is children who need to see in our lives how we interact with God and that we teach them how to do the same.
However, I have discovered that when I have taken on a mentoring role with young men and begun to disciple them, I have found that it is important to follow how Jesus did it–He was first a friend to people, addressing their physical needs and getting to know them as a person first before addressing their spiritual needs. Believe me, when you address a person’s physical needs, it becomes easier for a person to then open the door of the person’s heart to give them the bread of life, everlasting water, that their spirits are hungering and thirsting for…
II. Disciplinarian–Hebrews 12:7-11
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
God disciplines us so that we might come closer to the perfect holiness that God has. We will never achieve it as long as we live, but it’s a process by which we learn and sometimes it’s painful. As men, we are to sometimes allow God’s discipline to work through us to the young men that He has placed in our charge. How are children to know what God expects of us if there is no one to exemplify it in their lives? Proper growth in God and His Son requires a personal example of it in that young man or woman’s life constantly, so that they may know how to live for God in their own lives as well.
III. Servant–John 13:1-15
We are all called to be servants. Christ gave us the greatest example He could in washing the disciple’s feet. He led by example, not just by words. Remember that when it comes to being involved in a child’s life, it is important that we live by our words and God’s Word. To lead is to serve, and to serve is to lead–my alma mater calls this servant leadership. It is a quality that every follower of Christ must have to humble themselves, remove themselves from being the center of the universe, put God there along with the rest of mankind. In God’s kingdom, it is the last who will be first. Those who put others ahead of their own welfare will be blessed and rewarded by God.
How do we do all this? Look to 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The Word of God is fully equipped to help us in teaching and being examples of God the Father to young men and women. Don’t forget that. If you are at a loss of how to disciple, be involved in a child’s life–look to God’s Word and He will show you what that child needs, just like He gave me what I needed from men in my church. I have learned the value of hard work and the importance of following and glorifying God in my day to day life.
God does not excuse any man or woman from this role. The Great Commission leaves no room for error on this. Just because we do not have a son or daughter of our own flesh and blood does not mean we can just sit idly by on the sidelines cheering on the other families. No, God has given us a duty to teach and disciple the next generation–even if that means being involved in a person’s life who is not necessarily related to us by blood. Romans 8 shows us this. And if you read that chapter all the way through, you’ll find that the love that God has for His children transcends that of any earthly kind of love. He loves those that HATE Him–and the love He has cannot be taken from us or separated from us, as the end of Romans 8 says…
God took that step to adopt us. He followed through on what James called the TRUE religion: taking care of widows and orphans. The people who really needed God otherwise.
Prayers and blessings to you all
Okay, so there is going to an emotionally laden post. Why? Because I’ve literally had it up to the eyeballs with nerve of some people accusing me of things this week in regards to my views on the Las Vegas shooting. Before I address the accusations and bile that I’ve had thrown my way–allow me to share with you what I shared on Facebook–
So there–whether you agree with me or not, that is what I said. It is what I firmly believe, and if you feel the need to call me names, feel attacked by that, or in any other way “triggered” then you definitely need to go find someone to talk to about your insecurities because as my favorite speaker and author, Ben Shapiro, says: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
Now, let’s move on to those who have leveled accusations and bile at me. I won’t pollute my writing with them just because they’re nonsensical and really incoherent nonsense. But it hit me personally because the general theme of the messages was that I don’t give a shit about dead people, children, or about others.
I’m gonna pull the best line from How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days…
If you’re going to accuse me of not caring, you better damn well have known me PERSONALLY for the last 5 years.
Now, most of the people of who thrown that accusation at me don’t have their own two moral legs to stand on. And to all my friends who have perhaps faced something similar, I would ask that you remind anyone who has said these same things to you of this–their support of abortion.
This matter is not about Right vs. Left or Gun Control vs. 2nd Amendment.
It’s about Right vs. Wrong.
When anyone-a friend or someone who doesn’t know me-says that I don’t care, and they are currently supporting abortion, they don’t get to throw the loss of life card to support their argument. On it’s face, these two may be completely different, but to me they concern ONE thing: the loss of life. Anyone who supports abortion today does NOT get to guilt trip someone who supports gun rights by saying they don’t care about the lives lost to senseless gun violence. My retort is this: WHAT ABOUT THE LIVES THAT WERE LOST THAT NEVER GOT A CHANCE TO LIVE IN THE 44 YEARS SINCE ROE V. WADE??? If you’re going to support something as violent and senseless as abortion, you don’t get to cry about the lives lost to gun violence and then use that to support your policy measures.
I care about EVERY life–it saddens me that so many were hurt and killed in Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, Aurora, etc. But you don’t get to lecture me about my support for gun rights using lives lost to guns, all the while standing upon the bones of millions of dead children. You just don’t have that right. You know how Christ said this in Matthew:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye…”
Believe me, I’m up for discourse. But if you’re going to hop on your moral high horse in order to guilt trip me, you’ve got another thing coming. You say you’re speaking for the victims of the senseless gun violence? Then I ask you this–where was your voice to defend those who never had a chance to say something? This is not a guilt trip, but it’s to make you realize the hypocrisy of your stance in coming at me in this issue. I care about every. single. life. From conception all the way to birth and from there all the way to a natural death. Until you can end your support of abortion, you do not get to play the loss of life card to support your position on gun control. You just don’t.
My prayers go out to all of you.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
Do you have personal demons that you struggle with? If you say no, I’m gonna be really blunt and say that you’re a liar. Everyone has a personal struggle, a demon that constantly plagues us–even the Apostle Paul had one, as he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7–
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.“
But did you know that God actually calls us to make war? (I’m actually taking a bit off of John Piper’s sermon, Killing Sin, a little bit). I am by NO MEANS perfect in any way. I’m still constantly struggling to fight those things that God finds abhorrent–the biggest of them being lust, it’s a constant struggle for most men but worse than others. It takes a ton of self-control on myself, and I constantly rely upon my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to come beside me and tell me that I’m screwing up according to God’s Word. But God calls us to a life of holiness–God calls us to:
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
So, where does God call us to make war and what or who are we supposed to be making war upon??? For this, we go to Romans 8:13…
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
So, in this verse we have two presentations that Paul is trying to make, and remember this: PAUL IS SPEAKING TO CHRISTIANS IN THE BOOK OF ROMANS–HE IS NOT SPEAKING TO UNBELIEVERS!
The first presentation in this verse that Paul makes is that if a believer claims to be in Christ, but is living a life of sin–THEY WILL SPIRITUALLY DIE. Paul in the previous chapters asked that since we are saved by grace through faith, do we keep on sinning? And he said no. The old has gone, the new has come!!! We are to no longer sin, don’t live according to this world but what are we supposed to do if not that? That is where Paul’s second presentation in Romans 8:13 comes in. Paul calls us to PUT TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE BODY. But how do we do that? Paul answers that too–kill sin by the Spirit.
But that begs another question–what does it mean to put something to death by the Spirit? Well, let’s flip on over to Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:17 says:
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
So, in order to put to death that which is earthly and sinful in us by the Spirit, the Spirit calls us to go to God’s Word. But what are the methods that the Spirit wishes us to use to kill those sins that are keeping us from growing in Christ. Paul writes this in Romans 6:12-13:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
Paul says that God calls us to present our bodies to Him as instruments of righteousness, not unrighteousness. But if you’re a follower of Christ like me, then YOU KNOW that trying to be like God can be tiring, that it’s impossible to do so on our own. That’s why God has given us His Holy Spirit, to guide us continually on this. So, when our bodies do end up becoming an instrument of unrighteousness (AND BELIEVE ME, YOU WILL END UP FAILING AT SOME POINT), where does the Spirit point us to in the Word to remedy that? Let’s hop on over to Matthew 5:29-30 for the Spirit’s answer!
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Kinda paints a picture what Jesus wants you to do, but here’s the rub–he’s not saying to literally cut your hand or poke your eye out. If you did, Jesus would most likely be doing this:
What Jesus meant was that in the pursuit of being righteous and holy, aka pursuing God, you must take DRASTIC ACTION to remove sin in your life.
I point you back to the passage I shared at the beginning of this post. And I want to share a little story. When I was 12 or 13, my mentor took me to an event here in Omaha at Brookside Church. I don’t remember exactly what it was called, but I do remember exactly what happened. There were speakers to be sure, but I remember other things than what the speakers were talking about. There were individuals in black morph suits, going around the sanctuary whispering and I remember just being overall creepy. But I later went on to find out that they were pretending to be demons attempting to persuade people to sin, and all around presenting lies and accusations. But towards the end of the event, the organizers brought out a huge cross, and ask that by stepping up to the platform, praying to God, and symbolically dying to our old sinful selves. When you read that passage at the beginning of this post, just ask yourself this question: What were crosses made for in Jesus’ time? Crosses are made for dying.
So that’s my prayer for each and every follower of Christ–that they remember the cost of following Jesus and that the cost of following Him is high and requires the believer to die to him or herself.
So just remember these things:
A. What does God call us to do upon ourselves?
- Make War: On What? Our sin
B. How does God want us to make war upon our sin?
- Kill sin
C. How do we kill sin?
- By the Spirit
D. How by the Spirit?
- God’s Word
E. How does God’s Word direct us to kill sin?
- Present ourselves as instruments of righteousness, not unrighteous
- Take DRASTIC ACTION to remove sin
- Take up our crosses daily and die to our old earthly and sinful selves
Thank you for reading tonight! My prayers go out to you all! Take a listen to Tedashii’s song, Make War below!
Sorry to those of you who read my blog, my job has been running me ragged the past few months and I have not been able to post anything because, honestly, I’VE BEEN TOO TIRED. Life has finally slowed down and I have been missing typing out my thoughts and letting others read and share their responses with me. But recent events have prompted me to address some things that have my stuck in my craw so to speak. And that is all the hate I have seen.
I’m guilty of hating too. Not for anything that they were, but for things they have done to me. But hatred gets you nowhere.
Charlottesville and Boston was filled with hate and that wave of hate for those who don’t share the same point of view react violently. A person has died as a result of this hate. And instead of taking the blame and admit that each side was at fault as a result, they are instead playing the same game that Adam and Eve tried to play with God in the Garden–The Blame Game. You had Antifa and Black Lives Matter, both groups that, in my opinion, have aspects of hatred within them, Antifa more so than BLM but probably not by much. And then there were the neo-Nazis, need I say more?
With so much hate flying against each other, it was inevitable that something bad would happen, and it did–a woman lost her life.
God’s heart broke that day for sure.
And the sad thing is I’m sure there had to be some followers of Christ somewhere in that mixture of hatred. Where were they? Christ’s love was definitely needed there, and I can only hope and pray that they were NOT any of those holding signs or taking part in the mob and hurting anyone, but that is probably a false hope.
If there were, they were not doing two things:
- Being bold for Christ
- Representing Christ in a godly manner.
I have not seen one picture of a person crossing over, from either side, embracing someone and saying to them that Christ loves them and that they would be praying for them. That simple action would have spoke volumes and God certainly would have spoken through that. I am praying that God would reveal himself in these horrible events so that His glory might be seen.
God equates hatred in the heart with murder–His standard is that high.
Can you be like Father Sixtus O’Connor, who ministered to Nazi War Criminals during the Nuremberg Trials? If you agree with the actions of Antifa and BLM, how shocked would you be to find some people in Heaven such as Robert E. Lee, Andrew Jackson, or Hitler (unlikely)?
Ask God to examine your heart and to remove what doesn’t need to be there. Ask Him to take your heart of stone from you and to give you a heart of flesh, and pray that He would do the same for others who hate you.
All my prayers go out to you, let me know how I can be praying for you specifically.
“Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.”
The past couple months, I have taken to mentoring two young boys who are some sons of friends. And it has definitely been a personal adventure that has helped me to grow in my own spiritual journey and walk with God. It has definitely helped me to understand the difficulties of what it means to be a parent. And, quite honestly, looking at society, taking some time to invest in young men who don’t have a godly role model in their lives is EXTREMELY important.
C.S. Lewis writes in The Abolition of Man:
“It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms (logical arguments) that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use. We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element’. The head rules the belly through the chest—the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. The operation of The Green Book (a book promoting relativism) and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. … A persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment… It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so. And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Scripture is filled with the importance of teaching children. Especially teaching them God’s Word, and how it speaks to men and women respectively. C.S. Lewis calls men that have no morality or virtue “men without chests.” I’m speaking to men here alone, women have their faults as well, but I am definitely not qualified to speak on them. Men, the next generation of guys that come after us–it’s our responsibility to make sure we raise them to be the godly men that God expects us to be. There are expectations of us as followers of Christ to be spiritual leaders–in the home, church, and the world. And one of those expectations is to teach and invest in children.
Have you ever seen how a sword gets made? It starts with a bit of raw iron ore. And then the blacksmith melts it down, removes the impurities in the iron, and then lets it cool in a molded shape. The blacksmith then takes it and heats it back up–not to the point of melting it but to the point that he can take the hammer and beat it into a certain shape. This process of heating and cooling is a lengthy process and takes time, because if the blacksmith does it wrong or doesn’t take the time to forge the sword into the best quality possible what happens to it? The moment it enters into a battle and meets up with a sword that is properly made, the poor sword will shatter. By heating and cooling the sword and beating it with a hammer, the blacksmith makes this sword as strong as it can possibly be.
So it is with young men.
I quoted Proverbs at the beginning of this post that iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. A companion proverb to this is “bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
God is the blacksmith, we are His hammer, and the Bible is the anvil upon which the sword is rested upon while being forged and it is also the whetstone used for sharpening.
God being the blacksmith is obvious–He is the author of everything that exists in the world and is the creator, His stamp and handiwork is upon everything. The Bible is the anvil because it is the solid foundation that the sword must rest upon while God forges it. God’s Word as the whetstone is also what is used to help young men become sharper and stronger and more established in their walk with God. We, as more mature followers of Christ, are the tool that God uses and works through to help forge young men into the mature followers of Christ in the future.
But simply teaching it is not enough for young men, they must see the teachings in action by those who are teaching them. If we do not walk the walk that we are talking about, then we are, in the eyes of young men and boys, MEN WITHOUT CHESTS. And they will be as well when they grow older. And they will contribute to the disorganization of society and cause it to fall even further into chaos. Satan is an “agent of chaos,” to quote one of my favorite movies, and he wishes to make us so as well.
Instead, try to live up to be the opposite, and I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but if you can be Batman, then always be Batman. Still flawed, but holding true to what you believe and know to be right according to God’s Word. Be MEN WITH CHESTS.
To start, let me just throw out the disclaimer that the song I am about to mention belongs to one of my favorite bands–Thousand Foot Krutch…#throwupyourrawkfist
Here are the lyrics of the song
Now, at first glance this song might not be making any sense, since it’s talking about throwing off some things and then it “welcomes you to the masquerade.”
I was on a run last night and to help keep the rhythm, I had my Running Playlist going on the Spotify app! This song came on and as I was listening the central theme of the song hit me, despite having heard the song hundreds of times before. And it led me to one piece of Scripture…
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
For the longest time, I thought this passage was constrained to meaning salvation from sin. But it’s salvation from so much more.
Whatever you are struggling with, the gospel releases you from it, and replaces it with the most fulfilling relationship you’ll EVER have in your life. A relationship with Christ and by the gospel, God takes us– flaws and all, brings us to Him and begins to work on us to change us into who HE meant us to be.
So, as the song says: out of the fire, rise from the ashes, reject your doubt and release your passion. The Gospel gives us the power to be:
Unashamed of who we are
Unashamed of God and
Unashamed of the Gospel and God’s Word.
Welcome to the Masquerade everyone, unmask yourselves.