Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Things in my life don’t always go as planned.  If I had things my way I’d be a full-time youth or young pastor right now.  Well, maybe I’d be a rock star, or maybe  even an Apache pilot.  I would not be still working in IT.  I like computers, but I love people.  I enjoy meeting people, growing relationships and helping people.  I believe that’s why I enjoy ministry so much.  The crazy schedules and events, the to-do lists, all of that stuff takes a huge toll on my life, but the rewards are worth the price.  Seeing teenagers and young adults grow is why I do what I do.  Like I said before, I would love to be a full-time youth or young adult pastor, but I’m content with the way my life is right now.  Would I like my life to look different, of course I would, but that’s not what God wants for my life right now.
Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If only this is what computer work really was

Sometimes we look to God as if everything He does for us should make us happy.  I don’t believe that though.  I don’t think it’s biblical at all, actually.  God doesn’t always shield us from danger or tribulation.  Jesus says in Matthew 10, “…anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”  Those are some strong words from Jesus.  What I believe He is saying is that following Him is not easy.  I also believe that to think that stronger faith equals an easier life is just wrong.  The apostle, Paul, knew this better than most.  In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes, “…Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Paul knew that his suffering was the cost of his ministry, and he counted it as joy to suffer for Christ.  His resolve was strong, and his faith even stronger.  He knew that faith did not always lead to a trouble free life, but Paul knew what was truly important, following Jesus.  A life of faith and obedience can (and does) lead to a hard life.  We have to die to ourselves, daily (sometimes even hourly, or even minute by minute) to allow God to work in our hearts and in our minds.  Sometimes that process is easy, but usually there is struggle and pain involved.  Our joy comes from God, not from worldly happiness.  We will lose things we don’t necessarily want to lose.  We will battle our own wills, our personal idols, our desires and even our childhood dreams.  We will have to bury our own ideas of comfort and stability to know that true comfort and stability come from God.

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What’s Your Major?

Posted: September 23, 2010 in Christian Living, General Life
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Maybe you’ve heard this question before. If you attend or have attended a college, chances are, you have heard this one before. Depending on your answer, there are many follow-up questions, such as; “When did you decide you wanted to do that?” or “Do you want to be a history teacher (or English, or math…). When I talk to teenagers about their college plans, I usually get blank stares back, or some rehearsed speech about the importance of college in today’s society. Granted, education is important, and should not be shunned for the sake of rebellion, but is college always the right answer? In the US, education is free from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. After that, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not to continue formal education. College is not free for Americans. And it shouldn’t be. College is supposed to be higher education. It should be worth something, and thus, should cost something. My problem is not with the cost of school, but in the way our society forces college on our teenagers.

Now, college is not cheap. A rough estimate for tuition over a year at a 4 year public school is slightly over $7k, while the average yearly cost of a 4 year private school is just over $26k (I looked up stats on collegeboard.com). Multiply that by four and you’re looking at student loans hovering near six-figures. Now, if you want to enter a career field where college is not an option, well, college is not an option, but there are not many of those. For the other career fields, there are other more creative ways to learn a trade or educate yourself. I work in the technology field, and spent no money on education. I joined the Army instead. They trained me to do all kinds of nifty things, and then even gave me money to go to college when we parted ways. If you don’t feel like taking up arms against others, there are free books at the library and online that will help you learn a new trade or to know more about your current one. My point is, college is not the only option after high school.

Now to the real point of my post. Why? We tell kids they need to go to college as if life depends on it. Even in Christian circles, it seems that we put a lot of faith in this system. You go to school, get good grades (maybe even play a sport or two), get into a good college, then get a good 9-5. Get married, have kids and ignore them as you climb the corporate ladder. Ah, the American way.

There is no difference in how Christians live than most other Americans. There is nothing separating us from the crowd. Faith in God is not demonstrated by following the status quo. Our faith seems to be in the system of this society. Our faith in God is that we hope He will help us bend the system to our wills. I don’t think it’s supposed to be this way. Shouldn’t there be another way? If we continue to follow the ways of the world, how are we supposed to show that there is another way? If we didn’t spend so much time trying to earn money, and actually took care of each other, and lived simpler lives, wouldn’t we be different?

What do you think? Is college the only viable answer? Does following the crowd mean we don’t have faith in God for our paths in life? I would really like to hear some opinions on this, if you’re willing to post responses in the comments section.

Where Faith and Life Collide

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Christian Living
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I had an interesting discussion this past week with some friends about faith.  It seems that faith is a word that gets thrown out a lot in our modern Christian culture.  People talk about needing more faith, living out our faith, acting on faith, sharing faith… the list goes on.  We, as Christians, talk a lot about faith, but do we really live out faith?  Do we really have true faith?  I believe we do act in faith, but in what are we putting our faith?  When we really look into our lives, where does our faith reside?  Do we really trust God?

In Matthew 6, verse 24, Jesus says “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”  Jesus is speaking to our faith here.  What we serve is where we place our faith.  We have a choice, to serve God or to serve the world.  I believe too many of us are wrapped up in serving the world that we don’t even realize it.  We put a lot of faith into things like college and jobs, retirement and healthcare.  Now, these things aren’t evil, or anti-God or bad unto themselves.  It’s the amount of faith we put into these man-made institutions that needs to be weighed.

I would like to delve into these topics a little more on their own.  I have a tendency to write too much, and try to fit everything into one package, but to do justice to the thoughts I have, I think I’ll continue this by breaking it down into a few parts.  Hopefully this topic will pique your interest.  Hopefully it will help you to examine your faith.  Hopefully it will help you draw closer to God.  This is the interesting part of Christianity.  This is where we put our money where are mouths are.  This is where we see if we truly believe what we say we believe.  This is where faith and life collide.

I performed my first wedding this past weekend.  An old Army buddy asked me if it would be possible to get my license to perform the ceremony, a thought that hadn’t ever really crossed my mind until then.  I went to my church’s pastors and asked them if they would help me through the process, and they obliged.  So, I told my friend I was able to do it.  We were all pretty stoked about the idea, but for me, nervousness crept in quickly.  And by nervous, I mean really nervous.  I haven’t ever been more nervous about anything in my life.  I think the stress is what caused the upset stomach I dealt with for 5 days.  I didn’t want to screw up the start of two people’s life together.  In front of all their friends and family.  And on camera.  Not with Youtube and Failblog lurking in the shadows.  So I was nervous.

Nervousness can be fairly destructive, ruining many experiences, or even causing people to forego certain experiences altogether.  Fear is a big motivator, but it is also a big de-motivator.  For me, the two are closely linked.  I get nervous when my fears take hold of my thoughts and run rampant.  All I can think about is how horribly wrong things can go, and how everything is going to suck, and nothing good will come of anything.  My irrational fears push aside my rational thought until all I’m left with is doubt.  The problem is that when I start to go down this road, my view becomes very narrow, and all I see before me is failure.  The worst part about all of it, is that I forget that there are friends around me to help and support me.  I lose sight of the joys in my life, and the opportunities laid out before me.  I get caught up in the negative and forget about any positive.  That’s not a good place to dwell.  The stress takes a toll on my body, and my mind.  It’s not healthy to live under fear, nervousness and anxiety.

Jesus said we should not worry.  He instructs His followers to leave things to God, and allow Him to take care of it all.  Jesus wants us to live our lives unburdened with stress and fear.  These things will drag a man down and keep him from enjoying life.  Trusting in God does not mean He takes away all pain and suffering, it means that we trust that He will bring us through.  When we actually trust in God, we can let go of the worry, the fear, the stress. It isn’t easy to give it up (which is why I’m writing my second blog entry about stress in a little over a month) but we need to, if we plan on living a fruitful life.  The fear will keep us away from the beauty of life.  We must rise up and not allow our doubts to control us.  We need to follow God when He pushes us forward, not wondering how it will work out, but trusting that He knows how.  Our job is to go where led, not to come up with excuses about how things could fail.

There were many times over the past few months where I tried to figure out how to bail on doing this wedding.  I was so stressed and worried about it that it actually made me sick for the better part of a week.  I made the decision to do it, so I had to follow through; plus, there was no time to call in a backup a week before the wedding.  I am so glad I decided to stick with it.  The wedding was in Oregon, a place I have never been before, but had heard a lot about.  If I didn’t go do this wedding, I would have missed seeing the Pacific Ocean again (it’s been many years since I have seen it).  I would have missed visiting a place where the weather was cool all day long, the trees and fields were green and lush, the people were friendly and only slightly odd… I would have missed a lot of wonderful things.  I was reunited with old friends, and met new ones.  I even had the honor to be an integral part of the new life two people will now share as one.  Not many people can say that.  I could have missed all of that.  I am grateful that my friends wanted me to be a part of their lives in such an amazing way.  I am grateful that God placed me in the situations He did, so I could be able to legally perform weddings in the first place. If only I would have given my fears and doubts to God, I would not have been as nervous and I would have been able to enjoy the weekend even more.  Maybe that is a lesson I will keep and apply over the rest of my life.  I don’t want to miss out on amazing blessings just because I can only see how things can go wrong.