Lives Are Our Worship

June 22, 2009

The other day I had the privledge of going to see a good friend of mine get married.  To be in the experience of everything going on that night, I definitely felt overwhelmed and very excited.  It’s almost weird to watch someone your age get married, because it finally hits you that you’re growing up and becoming a big kid.  On the way home, I had a real sick talk with one of my buddies about how we as Christians share the love of God with others.  Immidately the thought of “evangelizing” came up in conversation.  Of course, to us, we automatically assumed evangelizing meant going around, going up to people, and asking them if they wanted to hear about God.  This has been coined “initiative evangelism.”  Honestly, in my opinion, that just scares people, turns them away from God even more.  Who goes out to lunch by themselves and wants someone (usually a group of two or three) coming up to them and asking them if they’d like to know God personally?  I’ve seen this on the beach as well.  However, before I get hated on, I would like to acknowledge that this is no way is a bad thing, because I’ve seen lives changed by this, but I’m not all for it and it just my opinion.  This is getting off topic however.  The main point of this story was that when we think evangelism, we associate it with one thing such as street preaching or talking to people about God.  Afetr talking with my buddy, we were able to come up with what we felt true evangelism was.  To us, it was anything that involves showing the love of God on others, so that they may come to know Him.  Period.  This can take on many, many, many forms.  The real point of this post was to emphasize that how we live our lives is our worship.  Our everyday lives are viewed by many, and all the people who are around us.  We have so much influence by how we live our lives, because that is where people can see us for who we really are.  I honestly think that is where God shows up the most because He is reflected in everything we do.  People see God is us.  It is very easy to tell people that you are a Christian.  It is very easy to even tell people that you love Jesus, or go to church, or even read your bible.  That all means nothing if those poeple don’t see the love and character of Jesus inside of us. I’ve sadly seen it all too many times where people acknowledge God with their lips and deny Him with their lives.  Even more sadly, I’ve seen it in myself.

I went for a run today and I always do the iPod music on shuffle thing because that way I don’t have the same music playing every time I run.  Today for some reason I wasn’t in a very good mood, so I just needed to get out of the house and clear my head.  The first song that came up was a worship song, which ordinarily I would not listen to while running, but today was different.  It made everything feel right.  It made me realize, as I was running, that God wants to be part of every aspect of our lives.  So I asked God for the rest of the songs that were played during my run to be worship ones, because I feel that He was using that for me today.  Lately in church during the music worship, I have just felt stagnant, not really getting into it.  I have just gotten into the habit of the weekly church service and making it a chore rather than an experience with God.  My run today was like no worship service I’ve ever had.  That 40 minutes was the most uplifting time with God I have had in a long time.  God was really putting on my heart that He wants my life, every aspect of it, to be centered around worshiping Him.  Then all the other things, like “evangelism” would fall into place after that.  I will have no choice but to show others who God is through the way my life is lived and the love that fills me up from Him. And coming back to end with the story that I started with, the marriage of my two friends yesterday exemplifies what I just wrote about.  It is a testament to God’s love and grace and it is being shown through those two being together to everyone who knows them, and I’ve seen personally lives changed by them.

OUR LIVES ARE OUR WORSHIP

That’s all I really have, and as usual it is in it’s random thought format.

Cheers,

Brandon

Shackin’ Up

June 19, 2009

Recently I just finished reading “The Shack” by WB Young.  It really got me thinking about a lot of things, but most importantly my relationship with God.  I think way too often, we as “Christians” put our reationship with God in a box in a way that always comes down to rules, guilt, and spiritual rituals.  I found myself in that boat.  Everything I did wasn’t centered aroud God but based on Him.  I think thats the problem.  That we try to equivilate everything to God, which is impossible.  I don’t think He wants us to make everything conformed to Him, but He wants us to be so tight with Him that everything we do coinsides with Him.  I got to thinking about how we live our lives.  I am starting to learn to hate the “what would Jesus do?” bracelets.  God does not call us TO BE Jesus but TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP with Him.  Does that make sense?  He wants us to be in such a relationship with JC that we have a heart like His, that we see like Him, so that we are not doing things out of forced rules but out of pure love.  I don’t think I can fully understand God’s love if I am willing to separate Himself from me, if I’m willing to put Him in His own little corner of my world.  I like to “put God first” when it’s convienent for my life or my time.  The main thing I was getting from this book is that we need to get back to the place where we first come to know God, and forget all the preconceived notions we have about Him and how being a Christian works.  I am now convinced that the word “Christian” is a verb.  It is the literal meaning of Christ in us, love flowing in and through.  Claiming to be Christians is a big name we put on ourselves.  People don’t see what that is unless we are intentional about letting Jesus take control of our lives and therefore letting our words and action be an overflow of that.  For me, “The Shack” was a wake up call.  It took me back to realizing that I was making my relationship with God a burden or an obligation.  It reaffirmed the love of God in my life, even when I didn’t trust God to be God.  It also made me see the importance of forgiveness, and not just forgiveness of sin by God, but forgiveness to others in our lives, to help tear down walls we have put up.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when the main character Mack is with God at the shack, and gets a chance to meet his father for the first time since he had died.  There were many issues between Mack and his Dad but when he was able to see through the eyes of Jesus, he ran and embraced his father, as tears were exchanged and forgiveness overtook their relationship right there.  When Mack is asked to forgive one more person in his life (the killer of his daughter) he is very stand-offish.  He in no way thought he would be able to forgive the man that kidnapped and murdered his daughter.  Jesus explained the concept of forgiveness to him again, in a way that he had never heard it.  Forgiving does not mean ever forgetting, but taking your hands from someone’s neck because you have been trying to choke them the whole time and not letting go.  Jesus explains the forgivness of God and how important that is so a relationship can take place between us and holy God, and how this was all possible because of Jesus and the love that He exemplifed on the cross.

Bottom line:  Being in a relationship with God is not about rituals and rules, but about love and letting God be the center of every part of our lives.  This has really changed the way my relationship with JC has worked these past couple weeks, which carries over into everyday life.

I know this is a lot, and a bunch of random thoughts, but sorry thats how I roll.

Cheers,

Brandon

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished, he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”-Romans 3:23-26

A Prayer for God’s Grace

June 2, 2009

The other day I was at church and the pastor gave a talk about “a prayer for Grace” and what it meant to pray for God’s Grace daily and find it in our lives.  That really got me thinking about my short 21 years and how God’s Grace has transformed areas of my life that I have so often overlooked.  I’ve realized that I have either taken grace for granted or just been too prideful to accept it.  There have been times in my life where I see other people who accept the grace of God no matter how big they screwed up, and then they allow it to reshape their lives.  It’s weird though because I still find things in my life or in my past that I feel that God could never forgive me for, almost like I think there is a sin too big for God to handle, one that was just a bit taller and wider than the cross that He hung on.  This weekend was a wake up call for me, that God’s grace CANNOT be put into a box.  It can’t be narrowed down or specified to a certain area of sin.  God’s love doesn’t see us as who we are, but what God has made us through Jesus’ death.  I still can’t wrap my head around that.

The church did a pretty cool little thing where there was a series of people who came out on their stage and shared a story on a peice of cardboard.  On the front it would say something like “found my identiy in parties and sex” and then on the back it would have a statment such as “Loved by God who calls me His own” proclaiming the way God not only pursued their lives to change them but to change their hearts and extend a gift of grace that could be found no where else.

There is nothing we can hide from God, but at the same time there is nothing that we can do to not be loved by God.  I think that we need to be constantly praying for God’s grace to come into our lives and transform our mess, into a message, a message of hope and love, of new beginnings, of restoration and purification.

I think we just need to humble ourselves enough to be at the point where we realize we NEED grace, because there is nothing else we can do to solve that disconnect from God that sin causes.

“And God is able to make all grace aboud to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”-II Corinthians 9:8

“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”-James 4:5-7

Cheers, thanks for reading

Brandon

It’s always a fight

May 15, 2009

Have you ever tried to personify sin? You know, make it tangible or something relevant to your life?  I feel like Lecrae does it very well in his song, “indwelling sin”.  Attached is a video for the song some guy made on youtube.  This song is sick because it really shows the battle between us and sin.  It is not something that we beat in a day, or if we “beat” it that it’ll never resurface in our lives.  Sin is something that is always pursuing our hearts away from God, and I think the more we are aware of that, the more we will be able to fight it off.  It’s clear how much God hates sin, so it makes sense that it would battle for dominance in our hearts and lives.  The song is basically a dialouge between two guys, one who has surrendered his life to Christ, and the other who doesn’t understand and wants him to go back to his old ways.  The believer is trying to explain that he doesn’t want that sin that was taking over his life, how it never satisfies him.  He is doing everything he can to get rid of it, and taking steps to avoid it in the future.  He talks about all the temptation that he faces, and how giving in “no way honors God who’s ruling sovereignly.” which is one of my favorite lines.  Sin means we have to make a conscious effort to turn our backs on God.  We have to love something apart from Him, more than Him.  To me, that is a scary thought that we can be so easily tricked and deceived by a world who doesn’t get it.  Our lives and hearts have been transformed, and I think that’s why we are so shameful of sin.  Someone who is not following Jesus may not have the same convictions, so we do our best to justify our actions as “better” than them.  Wrong.  We’re both in the same boat, in need of salvation, the only difference is that we know where to find it.  Maybe we should be asking ourselves questions as to why we’re not sharing that.

So how do we fight sin? How do we rid our lives of it? Well one, we will never rid ourselves of it, so lets throw that option out the window now.  However, we can fight it, so that our lives will honor God.  We have to be aware of it.  In his song, Lecrae hits on a sensitive issue, pornography.  He basically says that it’s not one day, “i think i’ll look at porn, oh crap I’m addicted.”  He explains that things lead to it, so if we can avoid certain situations, we can ultimately avoid the sin that it can lead to.  “A little BET, late at night, thats like a little crack”, “I see how you be tryin’ to be, BET at night becomes addiction to pornography”.  The point he makes is amazing.  Our sin starts way back with the little decisions.  The situations we place ourselves in lead to temptation or God.  Where are we placing our hearts? Towards God, or away from Him, losing the ongoing battle to sin every day.  

 

Enjoy the song

 

Cheers,

 

-Brandon

 

stress

May 7, 2009

I’m convinced that stress does not come from God.  In fact, I think God wants us to be stress free, to stop worrying about tomorrow and give all of our cares to him.  Not because I’m really insightful or really in tune with God, because I wish I was, but because God tells us in His word that that’s exactly what we should do. Graduating is scary.  The real world is scary.  Taking risks is scary.  Talking to a friend about God is scary.  These all produce stress in my life, no doubt.  But again, I don’t think God wants me to handle it by worrying and living my life in fear and question.  I don’t think He wants us running around trying to figure out our entire lives in one day.  I think He wants us to use today for today.  God doesn’t give us these days to be wasted worrying about tomorrow, a day that quite honestly may never come.  Stress takes away from us getting to love God every day.  It puts a riff in the relationship we try so hard to maintain.  We put our cares and burdens in front of God, instead of giving them to Him.  

The last two weeks I have done nothing but worry about my future.  Worries that have carried over into my relationships.  But most importantly, it has worn on my relationship with God.  Instead of letting Him slow me down to enjoy what He has me doing today, I have been trying to ask Him what He has planned for me later.  

Today is what we’re given.  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  What if God decides to come back tomorrow, will I be able to answer to Him when He asks how I was spending my time? The word “Urgency” has really been stuck in my mind lately.  What if my time has been spent worrying so much about myself, my life, and my future that I have lost sight of what’s really important, the great commission.  Bringing the Gospel to the world around me.  Going through the book of Philippians lately has really challenged me with my attitude, to have the attitude of Christ.  If I do take on that attitude, tomorrow would not be a worry in my head, my money and job would not be my main concern.  My main concern would be others, loving others enough to share the Good News.  

In Matthew 6, it lays it down pretty clear about worrying about our future, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” verse 34.  

Paul tells us in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” verses 6 and 7.

And lets not forget about 1 Peter when he says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” verse 7.

Its pretty clear what God has to say to us about stress and worry.  I’ve lost sight of this lately.  Luckily we have a God that loves us even when we try to take our own way and make our own plans.

GPS- God’s Positioning System

April 20, 2009

You ever wonder how it does it? GPS I mean.  Global Positioning System.  It’s amazing, assuming you drop enough bills to get a top of the line product.  That thing can lead you perfectly anywhere, right?  Tonight at church Pastor D was referring to this, and how it would be so awesome if we had a GPS for our lives, so that we could get to where we’re going, in the most effective way, with the least amount of errors, traffic, or getting lost.  Then I got to thinking about how God provides us with this, in Him and through His word.  It’s our responsibility to ask.  As I sat there in Church, I couldn’t help but think how God doesn’t fail.  How His wisdom and guidance never leads me into a traffic heavy area, or on a crash course into the middle of nowhere when I’m trying to find the nearest restaurant on my gps.  It’s so funny how time and time again, I get the directions from God, and I choose to take my own route, the one that I think is right, because I know best.  Often, and ALL the time I do this I find my way to be a disappointment.  I find it being a road to a dead end.  I love how in James 1:5, James writes to us and tells us “if you need wisdom, ASK our generous God, and He will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.”  I love that, and I read it thinking of course, I know I know.  But my life doesn’t usually reflect that me knowing means me DOING.  I know I need God to help guide me, and not just help, but take a huge hold of the wheel that I have my hands so tightly gripped on and let Him do the driving and navigating.  

When we take our own way, using our own GPS, and not asking God for His input, we get lost, misled, and hurt.  The only way I can say this is because I have experienced it time and time again.  My compass is jacked up.  We can’t love God and let other things reign in our lives as well, because as James goes on to say that a “person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” 

Where are our hearts?  Who is guiding our path?  Am I loyal in everything I do to God?  Or is my heart divided?  These are questions that I have been struggling with all night after hearing the message today.  It was encouraging to me to know that even though we reject God and His directions sometimes, He is always willing to redirect us to Him.  

 

Cheers,

Brandon

 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”- James 1:5-6

 

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”- 1 John 5:14-15

Your Grace IS Enough

April 2, 2009

I think accepting God’s amazing grace is one of the hardest things to do.  Not because its so unbelieveable, but because we are way too prideful as humans, and to put it bluntly, we suck.  We make like all about us.  We make life all about how much money we make, the things we own, and our social status.  I’ve really been challenged by Francis Chan lately as my bible study and I are going through his book, “crazy love”.  

 

I’m still missing the point.  It is not our “job” as christians to live perfect lives that are pleasing to God, because we can’t and we won’t.  My life has been so focused on following rules and aiming to “please God” that I have lost sight of everything He is all about, Love.  I’ve lost sight of what its like to be in a holy perfect relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want that back.

 

I love the point Francis made in his book that we can’t just love God on our own.  We can’t just decide to start loving God and expect to fall completely head over heels for Him.  We have to ask God to take over our hearts and mold them.  We have to allow God to break our hard hearts and let them be filled with Him, then we can start loving like He has created us to.  

 

Yes I sin, I mess up, I blow it, I make mistakes, and can keep going on and on about what I don’t do right, but what I finally have started to learn, is that being a Christian is about receiving a Grace that covers all of my past, and my future sins.  When I start to do that and accept that Grace, and fall in love with Jesus, there is no guilt or shame.  There is a grace that covers me.  And I finally begin to fall in love with Jesus because of the right reasons.  I start to fall in love with Him because He was willing to sacrifice His life for me.  I start to love Him because His love is unconditional.  I start to fall in love because I want to be more and more like Him, not to please Him, but because I simply just love Him.  The things I chase on earth don’t seem worth anything, and I start to see my life here as temporary and realize that Grace can now be extended from me to others, and that Jesus wants to use me to glorify Him here.

 

And the best part?  It’s 100% FREE and undeserved.  Now I have a chance to live a life like I have received it, and that my sin is dead, because of the death Christ suffered, for me, for you, for us.  

 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”-2 Corinthians 12:9 

 

Cheers,

Brandon

When You Lose Sight Of It All, It Is Finished

March 20, 2009

So ya, I haven’t written in about 3 weeks, give or take, and I left off by saying I felt like a hypocrite writing, so I decided to take a break from it for a while.  This post is not about how my life has had this dramatic turn around in the last 3 weeks and that I have been able to run from sin and stop sinning and stop feeling the weight of the guilt that comes along with it.  If we could, and it were that easy, I don’t think there would be a need for God.  In these past 3 weeks I have come to realize that there is no such thing as working our way to please God.  There is not enough good, sinless, “perfect” behavior we can produce to please Him and change His view of us.  I have come to realize that living my life has been focused on me.  I realized that when I say things like, “I make sacrifices for God” or “I have been able to beat that struggle” is all crap, because it is all focused on glorifying myself.  God doesn’t call us to live a life of working to earn a better spot in Heaven.  I believe and have begun to feel that falling in love with Him is the most important aspect of life and that everything is rooted in that.  After studying some more of Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love” I have began to realize that loving Jesus produces the good fruit, not that me producing good fruit will get me in tighter with Jesus.  He used the analogy that we would have to stop loving in order to sin just like trying to go running while eating a box of twinkies.  It’s very counter productive.  We would literally have to stop running in order to eat the twinkies.  So not only do we have to stop “running toward Jesus” to sin, we have to make a conscious decision to pick some earthly, temporary, fleeting desire over Jesus, which tears us down, much like a twinkie would do to our pretty little 6-pack, or in my case wanna be good looking abs.  So the reason my life has felt crappy lately is not because of all of the sin in my life and struggles I deal with, but my love for God being on low.  I have started to fall in love with things of this world instead of God Himself, who has created me in His image and to love Him.  The same God that sent His one and only son to die in my place so that I would not have to face the penalty myself, and so that I can spend eternity with Him.  Friends, I hope this encourages you wherever you are at in life right now.  If we are living our short lives for us, or to “work our way up to Heaven”, or to try to please God or earn His approval, we are wasting it.  Jesus made this point quite clear on the cross when he spoke the word “tetelestai”.  This means “it is finished”.  Our wages were all anti’ed up that day on the cross, so why do we live in fear and guilt trying to make up for that? 

 

“IT IS FINISHED”, what magical, graceful, loving, pure, amazing, wonderful words those are, spoken to us, and still changing our hearts as we continue to fall more and more in love with Jesus.  

 

Cheers, 

-Brandon

My last post for a while

March 1, 2009

Theres been some pretty heavy stuff on my heart lately.  And one of the things was how I always tend to look at people who are these “Christian Leaders” and think about “how much them and God must be clicking” or, “How can they be saying one thing, and acting out another”.  I would consider myself someone who wants to portray the Gospel and rep Jesus in every aspect of my life.  Theres a problem with that.  My life doesn’t line up with that of Jesus’ most of the time.  I have become one of the Pharisees that Jesus said were fake.  I have become the one thing I never wanted to be, a hypocrite.  Now I’m not saying we all have to attain a perfect standard, because lets face it, we cant and wont.  But I also feel that people who read these posts might have this idea of me of “someone who really loves Jesus”, therefore I should act like it.  Well the problem is, I don’t act like it, and its getting the best of me.  Sure its easy to say all the right things, “Jesus loves you” “Just love God with all your heart”.  But doing it has been the hard part, and I don’t feel right about writing this blog which is meant to spur people on to love Jesus.  I’m not giving this blog up or anything, I’m just taking a break, time to get right with JC, who makes it possible to write about heartache and failure and love and grace and struggles.  Its not fair to you to hear me say one thing, and then not follow through.  I see it all the time, people who are all about Jesus, love Him, “live their lives for Him”, yet just don’t get it.  They don’t get that a relationship with Jesus means your life might look different, that we are “dead to sin because we are alive in Christ”.  This sickens me, it disgusts me and saddens me because people notice it, people start to question this “Jesus we are following”.  They don’t even want a part of it.  So I have found myself in those shoes, saying things, doing others.  

 

I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore.  When I start writing again, I want it to be cause me and JC are so tight that I want to write about Him and how I’m seeing Him work in my heart and in the people around me.  

 

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”~ Proverbs 16:3

 

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.”-Matthew 10:32

 

“He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”-Mark 7:6

 

-Brandon

 

Lost and Insecure, You Found Me

February 24, 2009

so I’m sure all of you know this new song by the Fray, “You Found me”.  I am in love with this song.  Its just catchy and fun to sing to and a great piece of music well put together.  But then I started listening to the lyrics and really breaking down what the song was saying.  I think this song is about us and our relationship with God.  I think we are always thinking that God leaves us hanging and that He is not there when things are falling apart.  How we are just waiting on a call from Him.  But really I think God uses this to teach us patience.  He does this so that we rely on Him for everything and that we stop relying on our own strength to get us through.  I think He does this because He loves us.  Because before its all said and done, He finds us, when we need Him.  I love the term “lost and insecure” because I feel like thats how we are in this world, without God.  We are nothing. We are insignificant.  We are lost.  But God steps in to find us, He loves us.  He finds us lying on the floor.  When we’re desperate and call out, He’s there.  When we fall, He’s there.  When we call on Him, He’s there.  When we turn away, He finds us no matter how far we run.  God finds us at our lowest form, humans, sinners, evil, liars, rapist, terrorists, murderers, adulters, cheaters.  And He loves us and continues to pursue our hearts even when turned from Him and our faith is falling short.  I think these verses and bridge are about how we call and beg to see something, and we miss it, so God does His thing, and finds us.  

 

I’m attaching the video as well, enjoy!

 

Cheers,

-Brandon Thomas