Car Accident

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

My dog loves to go exploring. Unfortunately she likes to explore by herself. Basically she likes to run off and see what all is going on in the neighborhood whenever she can. One time specifically, I let her outside and went back inside to take care of something. Somehow I inexplicably forgot that I had let her out until an hour or so later when I heard one of our dogs barking on the back porch. I walked out of the door to see what was going on and saw my dog laying on the porch not moving, and when I knelt down to pet her I could hear her whimpering as she breathed in quick shallow breaths. My mom and dad rushed out and saw that she was clearly in a lot of pain. We decided that we needed to get her inside. I know for sure I’ll never forget how she squealed when I picked her up and carried her through the back door. We rushed her to the veterinarian and later found out she had been hit by a car on a nearby street when she wandered off. I thought for sure she was going to die that day, and now I watch her incredibly carefully when she’s outside, and would never ever let her wander off. In our lives, we all wander away from our master. We’ve all chosen to run away and put our eternal destiny in danger. The best part is that when we come home to God through his son Jesus there’s healing. God puts us back together and then he never lets us go. The same way I would never let my dog leave my sight in the backyard again God promises to hold his children close to him for all of eternity, and nothing in this life or the next will ever separate us from Him!

Lion King

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20

The Lion King is one of the greatest movies to ever be produced. Don’t argue with me on this because you will lose. The craziest part of the movie is that it can toy with the emotions of people from 4 to 94. I know it still gets to me when that evil Lion makes Simba think it’s his fault his dad dies and tells him to run away. I couldn’t help but think about times in my life where shame and guilt over my sin has driven me to ‘run away’ from God and anything that has to do with him. I know how incredibly hard it is to understand that God’s grace really can cover all of our sins. We never have, or ever will, see anything like it, but that’s what makes it so special. God’s grace is one of a kind, so no matter how short we fall his grace makes up the distance. May this never be a license to sin freely, but a comfort that brings us back to our Savior when we feel guilt and shame. Don’t allow sin to be a reason to run away from God; run to him. If we run to him we’ll always find forgiveness and correction that will lead to growth. This verse sounds complicated, but in this passage Paul is just reminding us the instructions and laws of the Bible are impossible to meet, and that when we look at how often we fall short our debt looks unpayable; however, no matter how great a debt we accrue God’s grace through Jesus Christ our Lord is enough to cover what we owe.

Airplane

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:20

The other day I was flying home from college when a really odd thought crossed my mind. On my connecting flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Greensboro, North Carolina it seemed to me that pilot took an extra aggressive takeoff. It sort of felt the same as when a teenager is driving for the first time and doesn’t know how hard to step on the gas. I mean we really took off quick. As we were taking off my leg was against the side of the plane since I had a window seat and I felt the plane’s side vibrate, and I thought wow this plane could really just fall apart at any time. As I looked out the window I realized that my life could legitimately end at any point during that flight. Now obviously the plane was safe and my life wasn’t really in danger, but just the smallest of hiccups on the plane take off made me think about how quickly any of our lives could end. I’m just as guilty of anybody at getting caught up in temporary things. Nothing in this world is as important as the things of God because everything is this world will pass away someday. Like C.S. Lewis says: If we as Christians spent more time thinking about the next life we’d be a lot more effective in this one. Let’s not get caught up in things that won’t last forever when we could focus on something eternal.

March Madness

For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways and holding fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier that you

Deuteronomy 11:23

I can’t really think of a time of year that’s better than March. The weather starts to warm up some (unless you’re in Ohio apparently) and more importantly the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament happens in March. 68 teams play in a huge tournament over several weekends to determine who is the national champion. Every year the teams get seeded from 1-16 in four groups. Theoretically, the best teams are 1,2, and 3 seeds and should never lose to lower ranked seeds; but that’s why the time around the tournament is referred to as “march madness.” Sometimes teams who nobody has ever heard of beat some of the tournament favorites. For the Israelites trying to take the promised land, they were certainly a 16 seed in a lot of ways. On their own, they never would have been able to take the promised land from the more powerful nations that held it. The difference is that they had God on their side. Many times in our life we might feel like a 16 seed team trying to beat the best team in the country to accomplish what God has lead us to do. Remember that when God leads you in a direction he will provide. We don’t have to rely on our own power, in fact, we shouldn’t. If we rely on ourselves we will certainly fail, but when we keep God’s commands and walk in his ways we shouldn’t be surprised when he accomplishes incredible things through us.

Homemade Highlights

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,

and her speech is smoother than oil,

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,

sharp as a two-edged sword

Proverbs 5:3-4

 

Most things are better as they’re planned than when they’re played out. This means that a bad idea is going to turn out even worse when you put it into action. I got to see this principle lived out this past winter when a friend and I decided to highlight our own hair in our college dorm. We headed to Walmart and based our decision on which hair dye to buy by which one was on sale (mistake #1), then we very briefly skimmed the instructions (mistake #2), then we each applied the hair dye sloppily to our own hair (mistake #3). When we looked on the box we were like “wow this looks pretty sweet, I bet my hair will look cool when it looks like that.” However, we certainly did not get what we were promised by that box. We got splotchy streaky orangish hair that looked like a complete mess. As we look at the things of the world–represented by the adulterous woman in this passage– we have to remember that they’re never going to live up to their promises. Wealth, power, popularity, relationships or anything this world offers against God’s design will never bring prosperity that lasts. This passage implores us to hold on to wisdom and godly discernment, and not give in the false promises of the world because they never live up their promises. (Also side note, never dye your own hair if you don’t know what you’re doing. I promise you’ll regret it.)

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.

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!”

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