Saturday, December 6, 2014

Please Share us with Your Friends!

Will you help us reach our goal by the end of 2015?

Take Time to Relax

How often do you just sit down and take the time to relax maybe even take a nap? I would suggest that you try and do it everyday or at least several times a week. .Just don't go to long with out taking the time to relax. Michael Hyatt has a blogpost about taking daily naps and its benefits. Relaxing doesn’t have to always be a nap, it can be anything that allows you to de-stress. For me I enjoy engraving glass using a Dremel. For you it may be something else. Whatever it may be make time for it, because it will make you a happier person. I have found personally when I am able to do my hobby and work with my hands my mind does not have to focus so hard I can just deflate some. It allows me the time to stop worrying about deadlines, family issues or anything else that maybe weighing me down. 

I know I normally have some scriptural support in my post. I just felt lead to write this one to help offer some encouragement for those of you who work too hard and stress yourselves out. The Lord used prayer as a way of him getting away to be alone. But he also enjoyed eating at peoples houses. There are multiple times we see him eating at someone’s home, take for example when he is at Martha and Mary’s home, or when he was with the twelve in the upper room. 
It is my hope that if you do not have something you can do to relax that you will find something. You need somewhere you can go to clear your head and just be alone with you, God and your thoughts. 
     How can you be fully effective in life if you are constantly stressed out? You can’t be, so invest in yourself. For the sake of your health and all those you love find something that you can do that will refresh you mentally and physically. I not only engrave glass, but I also hunt deer. There is something about sitting out in God’s creation and taking in all that he has made. These are just a few examples of things I do that help me to unwind and find solace. If you would like to have a more detailed view from Scripture about the importance of rest check out this post by my friend Dave Jenkins. 

What are some things you can do to relax? What hobby do you use to find solace?


Friday, December 5, 2014

What's In a Name?

 Have you ever stopped to think about what is in a name? It is more than just a group of letters put together to make a certain collection of sounds. It tells people who you are. When people hear your name they make certain assumptions about you from either what they have heard or from personally knowing you. Did you know that when you come to Christ all that changes?

We first see God changing the name of one who has encountered him in the instance of Jacob becoming Israel (Gen 35:10). We also have several accounts in the NT where people had contact with Jesus and they were no longer called by the same name that they previously were. For instance we have Simon called Peter, and Saul was changed to Paul. We are able to accept these new names because we have been given a new nature.(2 Cor 5:17) This does not mean we will not struggle with things of the flesh, but what it does mean is we don’t have to let it win. In the book of Romans, Paul recounts the thoughts of him battling against sin and losing but it was no longer him desiring to do it but the sin that dwelled within him.(Rom 7:15-20). When we look at Peter he was originally a fisherman, but Christ told him to follow him and he would become a fisher of men!(Mark 1:17)

The same has rang true in my life as well. In high school I went by the nickname of Casper. I was the only white guy in the group of black people. However, since coming to know Christ I have ditched that name in exchange for either my given name or Preach. Because like Paul and Peter I have a new nature in side of me and I no longer do the things I used to do. I have gone from being a thug to going to seminary to preach God’s Word. God can do the same thing for you as he has done for tons of people.
Will you accept what Christ wants to do for you? Will you allow him to change you and give you a new name?

Learning From Others

     Learning from others is sometimes easier said than done. As of lately however I have been devouring certain blogs spending hours reading what they have to say. Or watching videos that have been produced or listening to podcast to learn more on how to be more effective as an author and as a person. Some of those people have been Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Cliff Ravenscraft and Leslie Samuel. Each of these men is an authority in their field. Michael Hyatt is teaching me how to build my platform and about leadership. Jeff Goins is teaching me how to be a better writer. Cliff Ravenscraft while is the Podcast Answerman is teaching me about branding also along with technical things such as how to do interviews,(be on the look out for some in the future). And Leslie Samuel is teaching me how to handle my blog a little bit better.
     While I cannot afford to pay each of these men for their products I can learn from them in the things they offer for free. All of my content is freely given away and there are times I wonder if I shouldn't find a way to collect email addresses or charge for some of my content. I do it because I want the world to have sound theology and to experience my insights as I come across them. I have enjoyed learning from these men over the last few weeks for some for others I have followed on social networks for close to a year now.  
     Just so you all know Michael Hyatt suggest setting goals, while Jeff Goins is against that. I have written down several goals I would like to see happen by the end of 2015. First I would like to see the blog and twitter reach 100(+) followers by the end of the year. My wife and I are planning a trip to Haiti and still need $1500 to make it there in August to train pastors, lay leaders and work with orphans. I also hope to write at least three blog post per week that can include school work and personal thoughts. And I would like to read more, so I am going to target my reading time and number of pages I would  like to read each day. 

Who are you learning from? And what are some goals you have set for yourself? 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Observations From My Daily Bible Reading

Today as I was reading my Bible somethings jumped right out to me that I had not noticed in previous readings on these passages of Scripture. What I noticed is that the Bible is violent, not grotesquely violent getting into too many bloody details, but it still says "he went out struck him down and he died" 1Kings 2:46. This is not the first person whom Solomon had commanded to be killed in that chapter. We (the Christian community) say we don't condone violence when it is hard to deny that it is a fact of life. Just look at the Bible, it is not just some story book we should read to our kids to teach them good morals. NO it is a history book, telling us the things of old as they happened. I know I let my boys play some questionable video games, but I have made sure that they understand that what they are playing is make believe and when a person dies in real life there is no second chance, no coming back from the dead to try over again.
     I think it is funny that we will want to condemn some people for watching shows with violence when the book that we base our lives on is filled with it. Take the book of Judges as an example there is a story of a man being so fat when he was stabbed in the stomach it swallowed the sword, Judges 3:12-23. This is just one example that takes place is goes on to say that 10,000 men died in battle. These are just some things I noticed while reading the Bible today.
What observations have you made lately during your time reading Scripture?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning Where You Can

There aren't a lot things we can learn from a show like Sons of Anarchy. That doesn't mean we can't learn somethings from it. This scene takes place moments before Jax kills his mother. Before she dies she tells him it's okay for him to kill her because it's what they do. This is a good time to speak about grace. We are given grace by God to be forgiven and to forgive even those things that seem unforgiveable. Romans 12:19 tells us not to seek vengeance on our own.
We are called to live in the world and not of it. That means I can live in Christian liberty to watch this show and try and find redeeming value from it. There will be some of you out there who will argue with me that I am wrong and that is your prerogative to have. I will continue to be a fan of this show, despite the nature of it. It is not something I push on other people, I allow each persons conscience to  guide them. If you are not engaging in things of the world how are you going to be able to impact the world. The Apostle Paul engaged in the world when he was in Athens at Mars Hill he spoke the words of their writers. There are many different things in life we need to look at and try and find the redeeming value in it, whether it is a book, blog or a television show. We can almost always find something to learn from every endeavor we enter upon. I argue that once we can find the redeeming value in anything it is able to help us grow.
It is my hope that this post will make you think about things in your life that you need to look for the redeeming value in. I have been able to look for God in this show despite its hard hitting nature and narrative.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Richard M. Hannula's Bitesize Biography of Samuel Rutherford

Richard M. Hannula's Bitesize Biography of Samuel Rutherford was a delightful read. It is about the Scottish pastor in the 1600's, who was for Presbyterian way of church compared to the Anglican or Church of England way. I am not one to generally read a biography, but this one was fun to read. The paragraphs are in small manageable chunks not being much larger than six to seven sentences. Hannula did a great job in quoting Rutherford from his writings whether it was a book or one of his letters written to a parishioner.
Like the title suggests this is a bite size book it comes in at just 138 pages. Each page filled with nuggets of goodness.  The first chapter was a good introduction into who Rutherford was and his background. It was not until I got into the second chapter when the pen came out; and I really started circling and underling all of the great gems either about Rutherford and the things he had to overcome or his great insights. Rutherford truly had the heart of a pastor in the way he shepherded the people of Anwoth. Listen to this recount, “Each day, he visited the bedsides of the sick and comforted the grieving. Rutherford took his calling seriously and ministered to his people as one who must give  an account to God. He told a friend that concerns for his flock brought forth in him ‘tears, cares, fears and daily prayers.’” (pg 31).

Samuel Rutherford Bitesize Biography 
This has been a great read, and I don’t say that often. I would recommend this work to everyone from the elementary school student all the way up to the DMin. This work was very encouraging to me as a seminary student to know we will face trials but God is still in control.

In accordance with the Law I was given a review copy of this work  from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a far a balanced review. It did not have to be a positive review.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Writing is harder than you think…so is the rest of life.

I know some people who think writing is a breeze and everyone should be able to do it. For example I find it easier to write things than my dear bride does. For her the struggle is real. I know this is where we get all holy and sanctified and say Philippians 4:13. But I am not going there because that would be taking this verse greatly out of context.  I will say however that prayer and dogged determination will get the job done. Notice I did not just say pure determination. There is a humble reliance on God that takes place as it should in every aspect of our life.  We all have been given certain gifts and one of mine is the ability to write almost effortlessly. That is until I start with this blog. I am trying to be more pro-active with this vast opportunity to reach a wider audience than I will ever have here in my home town. 
For what ever reason we have been sold a bill of goods that life is supposed to be this easy thing and we should never experience hardships. In the book of Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul recounts all of the bad things that have happened to him(2 Cor 11:16-33). I am talking about things we go through not things that tempt us because we know from 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there is no temptation new unto man that God has not provided a way of escape from. Life does not have to be hard though, we have one who has offered to give us his portion. Does that mean we won't face challenges no,  because we will, but as long as we rest in the Christ who strengthens us then we can say along with Paul " Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV) 

So may we be encouraged no matter what we may be facing to trust in God. Because something is hard doesn't mean it wasn't meant for us to go through or have. Cry out to Jesus and he will make a way, maybe not the way you want but he will make a way. This holiday season has already been a trying time for my family and I am afraid it may get worse before it gets better. BUT I am not trusting what my eyes can see, I am going to live by faith (Romans 10:17). Like Luther "Here I stand, I can do no other."

Go in God's peace!