“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.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering about the title and the picture. How can God’s wrath be good to the last drop? In short, it is, but that is not that upon which I wish to focus on, but it will come into play in this post. This post however, focuses upon what Christ did today.
To start, let me share this passage of Scripture with you:
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44)
Christ needed to come before his Father, to pray to Him and ask that what he was about to face, that if it were possible, to take a different route. But God told His son no, this is the only way. As much as it saddened His heart, both God and Jesus knew it had to be done? But what was it that Christ was so afraid of?? Most people think it’s the trials that Jesus was afraid of, knowing what he was about to face. Christ knew what he was gonna face, but it wasn’t the trial and the subsequent beatings–no, what Christ was afraid of was much more fearsome. So fearsome, that Christ sweated blood.
By the way, after Christ was arrested, he went into BEAST-MODE.
Any normal man, having undergone several beatings, a Roman Flogging, having thorns crushed on to his skull, walk a full 1/3 mile to Golgotha, and then endure the exsanguination and suffocation of the cross all the while enduring the scorn and mockery of the crowd would have died long before even being nailed down to the cross. The two thieves that were crucified with Jesus? All they had to endure was maybe a beating before being crucified. If you want an idea of what the Roman flogging entailed, watch the video below from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ (GRAPHIC CONTENT):
By the way, this still doesn’t even come close to what the Romans did.
When Jesus was hanging there on the cross, it became dark. This is the time that God poured out His wrath on Christ, and Jesus took it all. He took on God’s Wrath, endured separation from his Father by becoming sin, even though he didn’t know sin himself, and took on the worse thing imaginable–His Father’s wrath on all of humanity’s sin.
So, why is Jesus taking the cup of God’s Wrath and drinking it all good to the last drop?
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
There was a joy that Jesus knew about in his act of dying on the cross. And that joy was was YOU. Jesus endured the shame, the pain, the wrath of God for you. He bridged the gap between you and God, the gap that no one could cross, and he did it in a way that all you had to do was take a single step towards God and He would embrace you.
Will you embrace God back?
WATCH THIS CLIP
ALL CREDIT TO LUCASFILMS
So, I’m a Star Wars junkie, #noshame.
And by far, my favorite characters are ranked in this order from 1 to 3:
- Darth Vader
But for the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on Yoda, because there are a few things he says that reminds me a few things of what God says in the Bible. One of the first things Yoda says to Luke in the clip is:
Luke had been searching for Yoda, Yoda, for reasons to difficult to explain, hid his identity from Luke for a bit. But only when Yoda revealed himself as the person Luke had been searching for, Luke was just shocked, because Yoda was right in front of him the whole time and he didn’t realize it.
Now, for the Scripture version of this:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
How often do we find ourselves searching for God and not see Him? God certainly has a way of garnering our attention if He needs to be dramatic–look at what happened with Moses and the burning bush, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, and Jesus when he went fishing with his disciples. God knows that we’re foolish and sometimes can’t see such huge things that can jump out and bite us if they were any bigger, like Him. And even those who are searching for the things that God has, they discount Him because they don’t meet their expectations, just like Luke was constantly discounting Yoda up until Yoda revealed himself as the person that Luke had been searching for.
How many times have you seen God offer His help to you and out of your own selfish pride, swatted His hand away? Perhaps the biggest complaint that I hear people make about God is that He either doesn’t do enough or that He hasn’t done anything. Are you freaking kidding me? If you even understood half of what Christ did for you at the cross, you would bow down out of shame. God came down as Christ to redeem mankind out of it’s own sin and to provide a way to give them righteousness so that they may stand before God. God offers that as a free gift to us and all we have to do is accept it and follow the way Jesus lived–and we can stand before God without any shame because of what Christ did for us. Just like Luke, we tell God, “I don’t think so…” If you’re asking something of God, just remember Matthew 7:7:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Next thing of note that Yoda says:
This was a bit trickier to relate to Scripture, but I was able to figure it out 🙂 Take a look at Luke 9:46-48. The disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest. But Jesus shut them down quick. Luke in the movie was looking to become great and look to have adventures, Yoda with his quick quip was able to shut him down as well about what it would take to become great, and he had the wisdom to back it up. John the Baptist, in exalting Christ, said that Jesus must increase but John must decrease so as not to overshadow what Christ had come to do. We must humble ourselves and God will exalt us to the highest place, but we must show others why we consider God to be greater in our humility.
Next Yoda saying:
To put it plainly, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 says this:
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
God shakes His head at us. We go to EVERY source for spiritual fulfillment in our lives, except Him. Why is that? I know the answer is sin, but even more unexplained is the reasoning why we’re willing to give everything else a try except God’s way. Is it because God provided the way and it’s His way or the highway? Ironically speaking with that kind of phrase, the highway leads to death according to Scripture, it’s the narrow less taken path that leads to life. But once again, it’s our pride to resist God and seek our own way to salvation, even though each and every other way will ultimately lead to the same result: FEELING EMPTY IN OUR SPIRITS.
Next Yoda Saying:
God offers an invitation through His Holy Spirit. It beckons us to come and seek the Lord and find that He is everything good for our spirits, and that He can both provide for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. God asks that we come to Him, and see that He is good and His love endures forever.
Final Yoda Saying and it’s the reason for this post’s title:
In the book of James, it says to draw near to God and God will draw near to us. There is no going back. To put it even more plainly, God is all or nothing. There is no one foot in and one foot out. Yoda would plainly say it like this like he does in the movie:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
If you stop following God, you will backslide, and God won’t come near you, for you are sinning. Remember, your body is a temple, and God dwells in it, but how can He if your life is filled with sin? Commit to God and God will commit to you, that is His promise.
Now, to lighten things up, I offer to you Bad Lip Reading’s video “Seagulls, Stop It Now” ENJOY!!!!
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove”
Okay, so that’s a pretty famous quote from the BEST chick flick out there. And you’re only hearing that from me once. And it’s in reference to something I witnessed today, and that’s the marriage of one of my closest friends from college.
And being in the wedding party, I got a front row seat to everything. And watching the ceremony, I began reflecting upon the words being said, the significance of each of the actions that the bride and groom were performing, and the nature of the wedding ceremony as a whole. And then something hit me….
I am completely not husband material.
Main reason being is that I never had a permanent role model in my life as to what being a godly husband looks like. And finding someone to love and start a family with someone is a strong desire of mine!
And I have begun to doubt if God will ever bring someone into my life.
When I say that I am lacking a role model, I am not saying that I never had any godly men in my life, but I come from being raised by a single mom, and having mentors in your life is not the same as witnessing 24/7 what a good marriage looks like. And I completely fearful that I will make the exact same mistakes that my father made with my mother that led to their divorce.
It’s difficult is all, I’m 28, single, and I doubt that I’ll ever be as good a husband as the men in my church. This may sound like a pity party call, but there is something else.
God has me. Whatever He decides, it will be well with my soul. That song is what got me thinking about what God is doing. Have you heard that hymn? If not, here’s the song as performed by Jars of Clay:
And here’s the history of that song:
“Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family — a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Yet, God in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once more.
On Nov. 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. His plan was to take another ship.
About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger. Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck. She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that could be His will, or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.
A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.
Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”
Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down.
According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey.”
–CREDIT TO http://staugustine.com/living/religion/2014-10-16/story-behind-song-it-well-my-soul
The first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll What ever my lot you have taught me to say It is well, it is well with my soul is what spoke to me the most. God can give you peace on anything. ANYTHING. And I forgot about that today and hearing that song in my car, I couldn’t resist singing with the rest of the song after the first verse. God has taught me to be content in life, and that any new thing or person that comes into my life is a blessing given by Him and it’s His timing that matters. My job is to just follow Him and love Him. God will deem me ready as a husband in His own time, and I hope that is soon, but I will exercise patience until that time and continue to worship God 24/7 and say IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, on whatever God decides to do!