Endless Apps

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

   for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods,

   for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

   for his steadfast love endures forever

Psalm 136:1-3

I think there are some places on this planet that are more holy than others. Today’s story is about one of those places: T.G.I.Fridays. The other day I was talking to a friend and he mentioned the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Apparently T.G.I.Fridays is having this sweet deal where you go and pay ten dollars and you get endless appetizers. So, of course, that very night my friends and I had to make a trip. Seven of us piled into two cars and made the trip to T.G.I.Fridays. We all ate rounds and rounds of mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, and potato skins until we were about to burst. I heard several guys talking about how they couldn’t even sleep on their stomachs that night because they were so full. By my estimation that seems like a pretty successful night. While we were at the restaurant it felt like the appetizers were never going to stop, our waitress was constantly coming to our table asking if we were ready for our next round. Unfortunately, we always knew that eventually we were going to get full or T.G.I.F was going to close or run out of food. Even though the appetizers were called endless we all realistically knew they would have an end. Thankfully God’s steadfast love is even more endless than endless appetizers at T.G.I.Fridays. God’s love for us is eternal. He loved us before we were even born and will love until the end of time. No height or depth or anything in this world or not of this world can ever stop God from loving us, and that’s something that I have found incredibly encouraging.

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Lil Dribblers

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

   my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

   as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

This past fall I got the opportunity to “coach” 5 and 6-year-olds playing soccer in the town I go to college in a league called the “Lil Dribblers.” I would use the term “coaching” loosely, because “coaching” kids that age is really just another word for herding. Responsibilities routinely consisted of being a jungle gym for the kids not playing to climb on, or target for kids to kick a ball at for fun. I wouldn’t trade the time I got to spend with those kids for the world, it was amazing. When I think back to it one thing I remember is how the games looked. It didn’t look much like a soccer game many times. While the kids certainly had fun, every game had the same look: one ball traveling around with 8-10 kids trailing it in a herd. It was incredibly entertaining to watch how the kids all chased the ball together no matter where it went. While this isn’t the best strategy for soccer, it’s a great strategy for our Christian walk. In this Psalm, David explains that God is all he is chasing after and that God is the only thing that satisfies and sustains him. God is so great that he should be our only focus. We don’t need to look around to see where everyone else is at or listen to what everyone else always has to say. All we have to do is pretend we’re the five-year-olds and God is the ball and chase after him and only him.

Tall Buildings

The Lord is great in Zion;

   he is exalted over all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name!

   Holy is he!

Psalm 99:2-3

I’m not from a huge city with skyscrapers or anything, so anytime I go to a really big city I find it really cool to look at the huge buildings. I’ve always wondered how in the world they build buildings that are that tall. I’ve always been amazed by buildings so big that when you stand right underneath them and look up the top isn’t even visible. I was talking to a friend the other day about just how big God is. He was explaining about how he feels like even when he says the best words he has to praise God he feels like he’s shrinking God. I hadn’t ever thought about that, but it really is impossible for us to describe God without putting him in a box he doesn’t fit in. Our God is too huge, his love to unfathomable, his holiness too perfect for us to ever be able to describe. We’ll never have good enough words, we’ll never be able to look on God and completely understand him. Sometimes, when we’re looking at something so big, so great, and so beautiful, all we can do is be in awe.

Made in the Image

So God created man his own image, in the image of GOD he created him; male and female he created them

Genesis 1:27

Last fall me and some friends decided to make a trip to Indianapolis to catch an NBA basketball game. We got a great deal on some tickets and decided to make a day out of it. We road tripped to Indy and started walking around the city. As the time for the game to start got closer some of the guys went ahead to the stadium and a few of us kept wandering around the city. After about a half hour we stumbled onto a cool looking building with a statue outside. When we went inside we saw a small two story building with all types of sculptures and paintings lining the walls. The owner of what we came to find out was a private art gallery came out of his office and showed us some of the pieces. The whole gallery was pretty cool (see picture for proof)image1-3 but what was most amazing was the prices of some of the pieces. Some of the pieces that seemed pretty ordinary to me had prices close to 100,000 dollars! I don’t know a ton about art, but what I gathered from reading what was on one of the expensive pieces was that the artist who created it was well renowned. The work had great value because of whose fingerprints were on it. We were created by the all-powerful God of the universe, and his fingerprint is on us. Because of the greatness of the one who created us we have inherent value. That means that every person we meet has immeasurable value because of who made them. If we all remembered that a little more I bet we could do a better job of loving God and loving our neighbor.

Blessed be the name of the LORD

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 1:20-21

Since I’m away from home for college now I’ve had to find a new church to attend while I’m away. My friends and I tried several churches but couldn’t really find one that we felt challenged us until we came on to the church we attend now. We heard the pastor speak at chapel at our school and decided that we absolutely needed to go check out his church. It’s a small church of maybe 50 people, but the way they praise the Lord has already challenged me more than I could have ever expected. Just the other week they lost a young man from the congregation who was in his twenties. I could feel the sorrow in the sanctuary when I walked in. The pastor got up and explained what was going on in the church to everyone there who may not have known, and then as a church, we entered into a time of giving testimony. The first lady who had the microphone began to sing through tears that she would forever praise Jesus no matter what. Before long the whole church spontaneously joined in song to sing that they would never stop praising Jesus. In the midst of tragedy, the people of our church continued to praise God. In the same way, Job’s first reaction to hearing that he had lost all his possessions and that all his kids were dead was to praise God. Job knew God’s goodness isn’t affected by circumstances. No matter what: God is good, so when (not if) tragedies come our way– big or small– we can always say “blessed be the name of the LORD!”

Lost in Indianapolis

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 21:25

This past fall me and a couple friends were eating dinner talking about the upcoming Big Ten and SEC championship football games that were happening that night. We jokingly talked about how expensive tickets would cost. Out of curiosity we looked up the prices and found out tickets were only 7 dollars! We made the impromptu 2 hour trip to Indianapolis and got to watch a great football game. After the game somehow we got separated and ended up lost at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy. We spent about 15-20 minutes wandering in circles around the stadium just trying to find each other. Once we found each other we were so disoriented we had no clue which direction our car was. One by one our phones began to die each guy taking a guess at what direction to go as we wandered in circles. No one person led. Each of us kept saying which direction “looked right”, and we kept getting further and further away from the car until we eventually put the address of the car into a phone GPS. In the book of Judges, the nation of Israel makes countless mistakes. As the book progresses the nation spins further and further in a downward spiral of sin and ungodliness. The Israelites had no human king, but they had also abandoned following their ultimate king: God. God is meant to be our king, and if our life has no leader, no king, we won’t be able to figure out what direction we should be moving.

Lost on the Bike Trail

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Exodus 13:21

A few years ago my dad and I went on a Saturday biking trip. We drove out to a state park with a cool biking trail and spent the day biking around. We were having a blast when I decided I was going to go on ahead just a little bit. I told my dad I was just going to see what was over the hill while he rested and that I’d wait for him. I biked on ahead enjoying the trees and scenery whizzing by me as I flew down the trail. Eventually, I realized I had been riding for a quite a while and stopped to look back for my dad. When I looked over my shoulder he was nowhere to be found. Somehow when I was on my own I had veered off the trail and had no clue where I was. Without my dad’s guidance I had gotten severely lost, and in fact had trouble even finding him again. When the Israelites were lost in the wilderness God led them day and night. We may not have a pillar of fire or cloud ahead of us showing us where to go all the time, but if we are Christians we are led by the Holy Spirit, and God’s word. God’s instructions for us aren’t restrictive but are His way of keeping us on the path he has planned for us. We can’t do any better going off on our own. Look on God’s leading and instruction as a blessing to keep us in line with his will instead of oppressive decrees today.

Treadmill Runs

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us

Romans 8:18

 

The treadmill was invented in 1818 by an English engineer named Sir William Cubit as a torture device for prisoners. Prisoners were forced spend hours a day on the treadmill in order to pump water or produce energy. Where I play college soccer we still use treadmills in a similar fashion. Our team runs twice a week at pretty high speeds for pretty long distances on the treadmills. It can be hard and usually results in our group of 30 college aged boys walking like 80-year-old men for most of the months of January and February. The pain of the treadmill runs are tough, but they’re worth it. We go through the pain and put in the effort because the reward of becoming better soccer players outweighs the trouble of running. This is just a blurry reproduction of the beautiful picture of our Christian lives. Becoming a better soccer player is a decent reward, but our reward in Christ for persevering in the faith is far greater. In Romans, Paul is saying that whatever trials we may go through for Christ absolutely pale in comparison to eternity with him. When we look at eternity with a savior who loves us dearly, no struggle is too large. Remember that any struggle you face is not even worth comparing to the glory that is yet to be revealed to us through Jesus.

Fetch

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

I haven’t told a story about either of my dogs in any of these devotionals yet, which is incredibly unbelievable. It’s probably about time to end that streak. I have a black lab back home named Raven that my family and I adopted from the pound when she was 6 months old. I love her to pieces; in fact I probably spend more time with her than with most of my friends. She loves to run and go for walks, but more than anything she loves for me to go out to backyard and throw a tennis ball or stick or anything she can chase down and bring back. I don’t know a ton about dogs, but I do know that dogs like her were bred specifically to chase things and bring them back. Her long legs make it so she can run long distances, her webbed feet make it so she can fetch objects that fall in the water (if she wasn’t scared to death of water) and her expert control of her jaws make it so she can carry a delicate package back to her master. Raven is happiest when we play fetch, because that’s exactly what she was made to do. The same principle applies to you and me. As we learn more about God we learn that he first and foremost created us to glorify Himself. True pleasure isn’t found in the world or somewhere hiding deep within ourselves, but found in glorifying God. We’re happiest when we do what God made us to do, which is praise and glorify Him.

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