See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:1

A few years ago as a family we went out to adopt a dog or two from the pound. I was walking up and down the rows of cages with dogs on either side. Almost every single dog was up on the fence yapping or barking; all of them except for one. I almost missed her, but there was a gangly black lab looking puppy laying on her stomach silently right at the front of her cage. As I walked over she let me reach my fingers past the ‘no petting dogs in kennel’ sign to gently touch her nose. When we got to meet her as a family she promptly flopped onto her stomach so everyone could rub and scratch her. We adopted her that day, and now she plays fetch in our backyard, eats in our kitchen (her own food and ours), and sleeps in my bed (she’d tell you it was her bed if she could talk). She doesn’t just live at our house, she’s a part of our family because we adopted her. I shudder at the thought that if we hadn’t picked her up she probably would’ve been put down. You and I were in the exact same situation. We were alone and destined for death, but God didn’t leave us there. Not only did he save us and bring us into his house, but what kind of love he had that we should be called his children!!! How exciting is that??? If we trust in Jesus and make him Lord of our life we get to be adopted by God and called a part of his family and enjoy fellowship with Him, and that’s a truth we can’t be reminded of too often.

Shrimp and Grits

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst

John 6:34

One of the things from back home that I miss the most while I’m away for college is my mom’s cooking. Nothing compares to coming home from school or soccer practice or a long day and eating some home cooked food. My favorite food that my mom makes is undoubtedly shrimp and grits. It sounded a little weird to me at first, like shrimp and grits don’t seem like they belong together, but I promise you shrimp and grits were created specifically to be eaten together. The grits are all cheesy and garlic-ey and I’m sure there’s all kinds of good spices and fancy cooking stuff in there too that makes them so good. My mom’s shrimp and grits are so satisfying that I really think I could eat an entire bathtub full of that stuff. I’ve certainly tried to eat enough of them to never have to eat again, but for some reason no matter how much I eat I always wake up hungry the next morning. In John 6:34 Jesus explains that when we come to him we never have to hunger and thirst again. We don’t have to look for satisfaction in friends or in money or in popularity because we already have ultimate satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus that can never be topped. Nothing in this world will ever wholly satisfy us like an intimate growing relationship with Jesus.

Wake Boarding

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

A couple summers ago I was learning how to wakeboard with a guy from my church who runs a water sports ministry. I had gotten to the point where I could consistently get up and ride in a straight line but every time I tried to turn and move at all I would immediately fall on my face. After about 3 or 4 times of falling flat on my face, Chris brought the boat around and told me he had figured out why I kept falling. “You’re looking down at the water”, he said. “You always end up heading towards what you look at. Look up and you’ll be fine.” The next time I focused on getting my eyes up as I rode and sure enough I didn’t fall on my face. Our Christian walk is the same way; if we let our eyes drop and focus on things on the Earth we’re sure to fail. Jesus endured the cross and the shame for us, so we ought to keep our eyes focused on him, and only him. As Christians, we should want to become progressively more like Jesus, but that’s only going to happen if our gaze is set on him. Remember, we’re always going to move towards what we look at most.

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.

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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