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Christian

Simply Have Faith

There is a story in Matthew that I really love. I might have shared it before, but I read it yesterday, and I wanted to share a few thoughts that came to mind as I read it.

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””
‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭14:22-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I can relate to Peter in so many ways. First is his desire to reach out in faith. Over the last several months I have really had a burning desire to become a minister. I don’t know what that looks like, and I still owe time to the Navy, but I want a faith that will lead me to taking such a leap forward in serving God, and being the example of what God intended for me.

There is a song that I love so very much. I have a brother in Christ who always tells me how much it means to him when we sing it during worship on Sunday mornings. Most have heard it. The song Oceans by Hillsong United has really become a reflection of what I pray for my faith to become everyday.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be…” (Hillsong United)

Aren’t those words so beautiful. The idea of the Spirit taking control and truly leading me to walk such faith that I would ignore the waves around and just step on the water toward my Savior and then live a life that reflects his image. But it is the other side that we see in this story that often trips me up. Shortly after Peter leaves the boat to walk towards Christ we see fear begins to fill his heart. When fear fills his heart the clouds of doubt move in, and Peter who so courageously left the boat begins to sink into the sea.

It is that second image of Peter that I also relate to. I let the world around me in, and with it comes doubt and fear. I fear I am not enough. I begin to doubt the fire inside my soul the Spirit has given me as I try to serve God. I begin to doubt that I am not good enough to be who God expects me to be. I don’t think I am alone. I am sure there are others who have such a fire for God, but often begin to doubt their faith.

Jesus like he always did he reached out and said to Peter you of little faith, why did you doubt. I always imagine Jesus with a look of love as he reminded Peter that his faith was enough to give him the power to walk with Christ on the water. All Peter had to do is walk to Jesus. You see, Jesus was in control of it all. It was Peter’s faith that got him out of the boat into the stormy water. All he had to do was look to Jesus and walk.

My pray today is that all of us have the faith that Peter started with as he left the boat and walk to Christ. I pray we let the Holy Spirit work in us so that we can take the first step forward, and no matter the things that tell us we are not enough or cause us to fear we will continue to look to Christ. All we have to do is walk, he has the rest.

God Bless!!!

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Christian

Validation

The last couple of Wednesday nights Laura and I have been attending a Bible class on compassion, and how Jesus showed compassion to others throughout his ministry. Last Wednesday we talked about the idea of compassion through validation. We started class by watching a video, and I wanted to share the video in this post, because it really sets the stage at the idea of validating others.

After we watched the video we looked at a couple of instances where Jesus showed compassion through validation. I wanted to look at a couple of scripture we looked at in class.

The first scripture is in Luke. “On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” (Luke 13: 10-17).

Honestly if you blinked you would have missed the way Christ validated the woman in the scripture. In verse sixteen Jesus validated a woman who had been struggling with an illness for eighteen long years. Angered at the fact Jesus healed on the sabbath the synagogue leader chastised Christ for healing her, but here is the validation “The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:15-16) He called her a “daughter of Abraham”. The value of women during this time in Jewish society was not held in high esteem, but not only did Jesus recognized her, he called her a daughter of Abraham. Just in that simple phrase Jesus showed her respect and compassion through validation.

The second story is from Luke chapter seventeen. “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke‬ ‭17:11-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Like the earlier scripture Jesus not only validated these men by recognizing them, but for this one man who returned to Jesus, he said it was his faith that cured him.

In both of these stories, Jesus showed compassion through validation. In the first he validated the woman through equality. The religious leaders looked down on her because of her illness, and Jesus by putting her on a level ground with the men around her validated her existence being equal to them. In the story of the ten lepers Jesus validated the one who returned by validating the man’s faith. Jesus validated all of the lepers he healed by just recognizing them.

I love the idea of compassion through validation. Before we studied this I really never thought of it, but it was mind blowing for me. I mean everyone loves a compliment right? Earlier this spring I shared my blog with one of my college professors, and the feedback he gave me really made me feel like I was a decent writer. I really was welling up with pride. So much so that I told my wife what my professor said. She said, “I thought you knew that already, we (my family) have been telling you the same thing.” It was so encouraging for me, and relighted my joy of writing when My professor validated my work.

Here is my prayer for us. I pray that we all can be intentional about showing others compassion through validation. It might be just as simple as telling the cashier at the grocery store that they are doing a great job. Or maybe it is as simple as telling your preacher the impact their sermon had on you. Even easier you can do as Christ did and validate a homeless person by sharing some supplies and food with them. I pray we all take a page out of Jesus’ story by and show love through validation. You never know the lasting impact a simple act might have.

God Bless!!

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Christian

Reason To Celebrate

Man I love Easter! Not for the candy I will steal from my children’s stash they got as an Easter gift, or the joy of a new pastel colored shirt that I got to wear for worship this morning (I do love pastel). I love Easter because that is the day as a Christian we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. I just can’t help put feel recharged by the spirit when I remember how God put an end to eternal death.

You see, as we read about the fall in Genesis, we see how life changed. God Wanted us to walk and communion with him in the Garden of Eden until the day that man was convinced to eat of the one tree that God commanded them not to eat from. From that moment on we could not achieve the relationship with God that we were meant for. We “humanity” could not reconcile with our God. There was no way we could ever recover without the help of God. What made it worse is as much as God tried to heal the wound of sin in humanity things just got worse. The beauty is the even though some lost faith, God never left. He sent his son to earth to live as a man, and he would die to cover the sins of humanity.

My family and I have been working through a five day study by J.D. Greear called “Easter”. In this study he really does a great job taking us through each aspect of the last week of Jesus all the way through resurrection. The one theme throughout the study was the Jesus took our place. It was our sin that he was tried for. It was because of our sin that he was tortured. It was because of our sin that he was hung on the cross. However, that was not where the story ended. On the third day Jesus was raised from the grave.

I love this version in Luke, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” (Luke‬ ‭24:1-7‬ ‭CSB‬‬). I love how the women were asked, “why are you seeking the living among the dead?” Before the resurrection all the followers of Jesus loved died on the cross. Between Christ’s death until his resurrection those who wanted him dead thought they had won, but our God had another plan.

There is a song I have really come to love. It is called “Death Was Arrested”. It gets me every time when I think about the words in the song that say, “released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more. My son was a ransom he faithfully bore.”

Isn’t it a beautiful thought? We see the defeat of the death with the resurrection of Christ. He bore all of our sins, and died so we could be saved, but the best part is it did not end there. I love Easter because I celebrate the fact death is not the end. I know that I will get to be with God when I die.

My prayer for those who have not accepted the gift of the sacrifice of Christ is that you reach out and take it. Jesus took our place when we should have died for our sins, but you can celebrate in the eternal life. My prayer for those who have accepted Jesus in baptism is that no matter where you find yourself today, CELEBRATE the defeat of death in the resurrection of Jesus. THE TOMB IS EMPTY. HE IS RISEN!!!

God Bless!!

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Christian

Spiritual Lenses

Today my family and I visited the Fernandina Beach Church of Christ, and the preacher spoke about a parable Jesus told in Matthew of the sheep and goats. As Bryan spoke he said two things that will stick with me for a quite a while.

First, he asked, what was Jesus mission statement? Of course like All good preachers thankfully he answered the question by reading a verse in Luke chapter ten. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Now I can relate to a mission statement. I mean I am in the Navy, and we are supposed to live out the Navy’s mission, which is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. But as a Christian I am supposed to reflect Jesus in all I say and do. Now Jesus reflected his mission statement to seek and save the lost. He surrounded himself with the poor and the rich alike. He ate with sinners and tax collectors. He even picked twelve ordinary men of different professions (mostly common fishermen) to be his closest friends, and to carry on his mission after he was gone.

However, as I look back on my life I don’t see Jesus mission statement. Sure I give money so the church can serve the community through different means. Sure I hand out the bags of goodies to the homeless I pass in the car as I am driving, but I have to truly look deep and ask, do I really live the mission statement of Jesus?

Going back the the parable in Matthew we hear Jesus say, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-40).

Hearing this story, and reflecting on my life, it got me a little choked up. It caused me a little anguish knowing I am a follower of Jesus and don’t really fulfill his mission statement. You see, Jesus wants he followers to serve everyone. He lived his mission statement by seeking and saving all the lost. He did not just chose just the Jewish people, but he sought out all those who were overlooked by the community. Those who were look down upon, or completely overlooked. He wanted to find the people that really needed his healing touch.

So how do we do that? What does that look like? Well the leads me to Bryan’s second point that stayed with me. He said, “we (Christians) have to look at others through spiritual lenses. An example of this was a quote he shared of Mother Teresa’s to why she served so many. She served each one of them as Jesus in disguise.

How mind blowing is that idea. All we have to do is to look at everyone with the same compassion and love that Jesus showed, and treat even the least of these as it was Jesus himself.

My prayer today is that we seek to serve those that Christ himself would serve if he was walking the earth today. I pray we we can throw away the idea that there are others who are beneath us, and remember that we are commanded to love and serve each other. I pray we have compassion for those we interact with everyday. So much so that others see a reflection of Christ.

God Bless

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Christian

Coming Out Of The Dark

In earlier posts, I have talked about my struggle with depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until a year ago that I realized how much my poor mental health had affected my life. The purpose of this blog was to try to share my struggle as I work through my issues. I want others to know that it is ok to talk through the issue of mental health, so one can get out of the darkness that comes with depression and anxiety.

Through therapy and medication I have been able to come out of the darkness that I found myself in over the last several years. However, it wasn’t until I got stronger in my faith that I began to see a light in the darkness of my life. I have been blessed to have strong family roots. I am blessed to have a wife who loves me, and his put up with me during my time in the darkness. God has blessed me with four sons who have been my reason waking up every morning.

Even though I have been blessed with family and the love they have shown me, it wasn’t until I realized that they were not the source of my strength. In Psalms we read, “No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. (Psalms 121: 2 MSG). It took a recalibration in my thinking to really make progress on coming out of the darkness of poor mental health. It took me realizing that although I was blessed beyond measure, I needed to be reminded who provides my strength.

Once I admitted no one but God is the source of my strength did I really begin to make progress to a healthy mental state. It wasn’t until I let God in did I began to read his word more. When I allowed God to be the center of my life I began to pray to him more, and started to have faith that he would provide an answer.

It is well documented in First and Second Samuel how when David relayed on God as his source of strength he found God’s immense blessings. In Psalms we read a song of David after defeating Saul. “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:1-3 NIV). When David relied on God and the strength God provides he would find victory, but as he took God’s providence out of his plans David found himself surrounded by darkness.

Here is my prayer for all of us; I pray that we all take the provisions of God. I hope that all of us can find the strength God provides us, and let go of the idea that we are not the true source of the strength we need to get through the trials of life. When we find his strength and provisions we find peace. With the strength of the creator we can do anything.

God Bless!!