Saturday, January 21, 2012

better life? guess again.

Am I the only one who has a dislike for church signs? For some reason they're usually filled with cheesy quotes or misspellings or Christmas wishes that are still up in February. The other day I saw one in particular that made me do a double-take. It read:

"Follow Jesus for a better life."

Last time I checked, this isn't what the Bible taught about the life of a follower of Jesus. If I remember correctly, it talks about being hated. About giving up everything that you have. About taking up your cross. About being persecuted and cursed.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

John 15:19 says, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

Matthew 5:11 says, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."
(Note that He says, "when," not, "if".)

Luke 9:23-24 says, " Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.'"

A few more are Luke 9:57-62 and John 16:1-4. (Note that in the second passage He says, "...when the time comes," not, "if the time comes.")

I don't know about you, but to me this doesn't sound like a "better life." I don't know what kind of life you have right now, but being hated and persecuted and giving up your life and taking up your cross probably doesn't sound much better than anything through which you are going.

Now, life with Christ is not horrible. It is in fact wonderful to be persecuted for the Lord, knowing that it is for His glory (click here and here for verses about this). But, it is not wonderful to someone who is only seeking a better life.

I would conclude that getting someone to follow Christ with the incentive of a better life is false advertisement. The incentive to be a follower of Christ should be because you love Him and want to honor Him and glorify Him in everything that you do, because, after all, this is what we were created for. If you come to Christ for a better life, you are not only coming for the wrong reason, but you will not be capable of being a true follower of Him. If you didn't come to Christ because you loved Him, what on earth would make you want to give up your life for Him? If you only "got saved" for your benefit and so that your life on earth could be improved, why would you be excited to be persecuted for Him?

It doesn't make sense. No one seeking a "better life" would want to be a follower of Christ if they have a correct understanding of the term. No one. Absolutely no one.

If you're looking into the things of the Lord because you think He might help you through exam week, or because you think He might heal you of your cancer, or because you think He might bring you Prince Charming, think again. Because that's not what the Lord is for. Yes, He might do these things for you. But only after you take up your cross. And after you deny yourself daily. And after you forsake all things for Him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

the mystery of the lowercase "a"

I would like to share one thing that has boggled my mind for a while now. It's the lowercase "a". Ok so when you were in kindergarten and you learned how to write the alphabet, think about the way you learned how to write a lowercase "a".

It probably looked like this:

So, my question is, when in the world did I learn to write an "a" like this:

I have absolutely no idea. I don't remember anyone teaching me. It wasn't in my handwriting books. And I am completely baffled by this. We teach children in school to write it one way, and then in all of our books it is printed another way. How do these children know that this also means "a"? I can't figure it out. And I literally think about this all the time. Ridiculous, I know. But it drives my mind crazy.

And so I thought I should share. Enjoy. And may your mind be blown. Happy Tuesday.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

what's with all the "z"s?

According to a recent intense study (my observations) conducted by an intelligent researcher (me), it has become apparent that businesses are all too much a fan of the letter "z". Let me explain.

If you have not noticed, it is now common to exchange an "s" at the end of the word to a "z". Apparently this makes your business cool. For example, I was riding down the road the other day when I passed a billboard for some sort of restaurant. The name? Fatz. Yes, Fatz. Now, I'm sure you would agree that if this place was called Fats, no one would go there. Although McDonald's is no healthier I am sure, I would feel much more nutritious eating there than eating at a restaurant called Fats. Ah, but we have no worries. Throw a "z" on the end there, and you're good to go.

Another example. Let me preface this by saying that we have issues with our mini-blinds all the time. Like, all the time. They're constantly falling off, or breaking, or the wrong color, etc. So, I was sitting in the kitchen one day and, naturally, there was a box of mini-blinds leaning against the wall. What do you think the name of the brand was? You guessed it. Blindz.

I do not understand this. I am trying to imagine how the business owners came up with this name and thought that it was acceptable. This is the conversation that I am picturing in my head:

Business owner #1: "Alright guys. We're gonna sell mini-blinds. What should we name the business?"
#2: "Well...we could always call it Blinds."
#3: "Nah. Not original enough."
#2: "Ok, but what if we put a 'z' on the end instead of an 's'?"
#1: "Perfect. I love it."

Is this seriously what happens? It concerns me. The creativity of the United States of America has really gone down hill.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

prayer. in our daily lives and in the church.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about prayer. At the Rise-Up conference, prayer was talked about a lot. One of the seminars I went to was "Lord, Teach Us to Pray" by Mike Atwood (which was excellent, by the way). I've been burdened about it a lot and was reminded that when people think about "devotions" they think about reading the Bible. Maybe you've got a book you read, or maybe you just stick straight to the Word. Maybe you read a passage over and over and meditate on it and apply it to your life. I don't know. But I came to a realization that people spend so much time hearing what God has to say to them, and forgetting what they have to say to Him.

We want to hear what God is telling us, but do we have anything to say in return? Shouldn't we have a few words of praise or thanksgiving for Him? Or maybe a couple things to ask for? One or two friends that are struggling and could use some help? Confessions to make?

I don't want to make a generalization and say that no one prays and everyone spends too much time reading the Bible. Obviously, this is not true (first of all, you can't spend too much time reading the Bible; and also, I am aware of a good number of people who pray a lot). But overall, I believe that the church as a whole does not spend enough time in prayer. It is incredible what can be accomplished by prayer, it really is. I've heard so many stories that were clearly answers to prayer.

For example, Scott Degroff was one of the speakers at the Rise-Up conference. He told the story of how his kids were in need of shoes, so they sat down together as a family and asked God to provide for them to be able to get shoes. That same day, some people showed up at their door and said they wanted to take their kids to the store with them and buy them shoes.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that was an answer to prayer.

I used to not think too much about prayer, and always just sort of prayed for different things throughout the day as needed, but never really spent quality time with the Lord in this way. And then I got a car. And then the radio in my car broke. So, with a little encouragement from Mom, I came to the realization that I didn't just have to sit there in boredom while driving down the road, but I could use that time to spend with the Lord. So that is exactly what I did. And every time I drove somewhere, I would use the time to pray. And it is incredible how much better I feel when I've spent time with the Lord like that.

But the individual prayer lives of the Saints (including my own) isn't the only thing that has been a burden on my heart recently. I've also been thinking a lot about the weekly prayer meeting.

I have grown up in a home where we were at the chapel every time the doors were open. If we weren't throwing up or in the hospital, we were there. It's never been an option, and I intend to keep it that way. I realize that many people have not grown up like this and have not always been at every single meeting.

My intention is not to offend anyone in any way, but to encourage you to come out to the prayer meeting. I realize that you just got home from work, that the kids have a lot of homework, that you ran into the neighbor's mailbox, or that the basketball game is on tonight. But come. Please. I beg of you. The weekly prayer meeting is so important, yet often so overlooked.

One other thing Scott Degroff said was that he had never been to a prayer meeting and regretted it. He had never come home and thought man I really wish I hadn't have gone tonight. It just doesn't happen. You'll be glad you went, I promise.

As Dad gave a short devotional last night at the prayer meeting, he talked about Acts 4. In verses 23 to 30, the saints got together and were having a prayer thing that they prayed for was boldness. And then in verse 31, it said that the place where they were meeting together was shaken, that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and that they spoke the word of God with boldness.

All of this happened from one prayer meeting.

In verses 32 through 35, they went out in unity, and gave witness of the resurrection of Christ.

I have complete confidence that something like this could happen in the prayer meetings of the local churches. But before something like this can happen at the prayer meeting, there has to be people at the prayer meeting. Yes, there are people at the prayer meetings every week. But we want more people. If this is going to happen at the prayer meeting, do you really want to miss out on it? The building might shake. The people are gonna be filled with the Holy Spirit. We're gonna ask the Lord for boldness, and He's gonna give it to us. It just might be intense.

If you've ever been to Shannon Hills, the first word that comes to your mind when you think of it probably isn't intense. But if we put enough of our minds and our hearts into it, I think that just might be what it's like.

Intense. The prayer meeting at Shannon Hills Bible Chapel. I'm not kidding.

If you don't come on a regular basis, I strongly encourage you to do so. You won't regret it. I promise. In fact, you just might be glad you came.

1 Timothy 2:1-8