Category: Musings and Ponderings

“Love is Life”

Leo Tolstoy once said:

 

“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

 

My relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life. This relationship has led me to spend two summers in full-time ministry in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (where I will most likely be moving next year)…it has led to countless hours in youth work, worship ministry, etc. But most importantly, this relationship has shaped who I am and all that I strive to be.

Lately, due to many extenuating circumstances, my time with God has taken a backseat to everything else going on in my life. Last night, as I sat alone in my apartment, I decided to spend time with my Maker…and I did. I spent 2 hours praying, singing, reading, etc., which made me realize how much I have missed this time with Him. This post is a reflection of what I learned last night, because this is going to change many aspects of my life over the next few months.

 

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10

 

My strength, my joy, my serenity comes from the Lord. I have never been content with the ways of this world. Yet, lately, I haven’t been seeking my refuge in the arms of the Lord as I used to…and this needs to change. For, as MercyMe so eloquently put it,

 

“I have not been called to the wisdom of this world but to a God who’s calling out to me. And even though the world may think I’m losing touch with reality, it would be crazy to choose this world over eternity.”

What really matters in life? What is worth living for?

Love.

“Healer heal me

Savior save me

Maker change me

Lover love me

‘Cause I’m so tired of living for

The kind of love

That only lasts for a while

The pain, the shame

Tear me up inside

So I fall on my knees

To get back on my feet again

And I cry out for You

Would You please speak to me…”–Ten Shekel Shirt

Love is the most important thing. Not the kind of love that is fleeting, but the love that is eternal. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all we are and have, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Is there anything more important in life?

1 John tells us that because God first loved us, we can more fully love. If I am relying on the love of my Lord for my strength and for my fulfillment, then I am able to love freely, without worrying about what I will get in return. I will be able to care for my neighbors, for those in need. And, when I love this way, God gives us life abundantly.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshall and direct our energies wisely.”

–Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message)

Love is life…love is everything. And I want to love more…more freely…more abundantly…I want to fully embrace the “greatest commandment”, for that is all that really matters in life. I want to live unapologetically, and how better to do that than to serve God with all that I am?

I don’t know how this is going to play out in my life practically, but I know that I have decided to once more live as my Lord has called me to live, which is to love.

“He’s everything to me, more than a story…”

“Everything to Me”

This song is so powerful, lyrically and muscially, and I will be singing it as a duet at church in the near future…just wanted to share the words, as it is so accurate of how I view my relationship with God.

Everything To Me

by Avalon

I grew up in sunday school

I memorized the Golden rule

And how Jesus came to set the sinner free

I know the story inside out

I can tell you all about

The path that led Him up to Calvary

But ask me why He loves me

And I don’t know what to say

But i’ll never be the same

Because he changed my life when He became…

Everything to me

He’s more than a story

more than words on a page of history

He’s the air that I breathe

The water I thirst for

And the ground beneath my feet

He’s everything, everything to me

We’re living in uncertain times

And more and more I find that i’m aware

Of just how fragile life can be

I want to tell the world I found

A love that turned my life around

They need to know that they can taste and see

Now everyday I’m praying

Just to give my heart away

I want live for Jesus

So that someone else might see that he is…

And looking back over my life at the end

I’ll go to meet you saying you’ve been…

You’re everything to me

You’re more than a story

More than words on a page of history

You’re the air that I breath

The water I thirst for

And the ground beneath my feet

You’re everything to me

Lord, you’re everything to me

Following the crowd….

I just wanted to post real quick to explain something…

I am not a follower.

My entire life, whenever “everyone” has been doing something, it has been an IMMEDIATE turnoff…just a few examples:

The color orange…I ‘discovered’ it in 8th grade, and my 10th grade year it became popular. It made me so mad that I didn’t wear it for awhile, until it was not as common.

The Lord of the Rings movies…I will not watch those until they aren’t an obsession for pretty much everyone I’ve met. Same goes for Reality TV–immediate turnoff to see so many people schedule their lives around television…I hardly watch TV at all. (no offense to those who do–this is just my opinion for my personal life!)

Etc…my parents can vouch for this individuality. Even with clothes–if something is “trendy” I could care less. I wear what I want to wear. I listen to the music that I want to listen to. I have come to the point in the past 4 or so years where I could care less what others think about me. Honestly. I just don’t care–because the only one I need to please is Jesus Christ…

Why am I blogging about this? Because there are some who think that I posted the list of 100 things because everyone was doing it. That is not the case. I did it because I had some free time (now that my life consists of work, church, and being at my apartment) and I thought it might help people to get a small glimpse of who I am…I thought it might be interesting…granted, I did get the idea from some others, but I did not do it because it is “trendy.”

Sorry for the rant…I’m a bit annoyed, a bit hurt, and I wanted to clarify my thoughts.

Note that the list has been deleted.

The Cost of Being a Disciple

APU is known for having phenomenal speakers each year, who come from all over the nation. One of our favorite speakers is Francis Chan, a pastor from the LA area. He comes each year for at least 5 chapels…I missed his 3 chapel series because of DC last Fall, so I was so glad he came today…

But it was also one of the most challenging messages I have heard in a long time. So I am going to share my thoughts here…

He talked about how success is often measured today in numbers…pastors love when their churches are growing, when there are tons of people attending each week…but he pointed out that in the Gospels, whenever Jesus had large crowds around, He was skeptical…

Luke 14:25-34 says, “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'”

Numbers are not everything…because not everyone is following Jesus genuinely…

This is a passage I have studied many a time before; but as usual, Francis posed a question to us all that made us think in entirely new ways…and I was astounded.

He said this: What if Jesus were in chapel today, speaking? What if He told us this parable, and then asked us to follow Him right then, to just walk out the door without telling anyone…leaving everything behind…would we follow Him? And if He told us that we had to pick up a cross, and walk with Him to a hill to be crucified (as the scripture says) to our old life…to everything we have known…would we do it?

The Event Center was quiet, as people pondered the meaning of this question…

Would I do that? Could I do what the disciples did in John 6, when things started to get tough?:

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'”

Then Francis began to talk about the salt portion of the scriptures. He even brought salt, as is his style…he always has great object lessons…anyway, he had salt that was good, and salt that was worthless.

He poured a pile of the good salt onto the podium, making a small pile. He then poured the bad salt (or the “white specks”) over that until the pile was quite large. He stood back, admired it, and said “Wow! That’s a great looking pile!” He then asked us what good that pile was, what it was worth to anyone…nothing. The Bible says that the white specks were not even good enough for the manure pile, because manure has redeeming value, and the white specks have none…

Not good enough for manure?

It seems that in Christianity today we have lost the meaning of what it truly means to be a disciple, a follower of Christ. Churches don’t mind having the worthless salt mixed in with the good salt as long as their churches are growing and the numbers are getting higher…but what does Jesus say? The opposite!

What is wrong with this picture? Churches should be helping people to grow, and to become true disciples of our Risen Lord…

In closing, he asked us to consider whether we were the salt, or just a white speck…

And that is something I am deeply pondering today.

I don’t know if I could just leave everything and everyone behind, like Jesus says so often in the Gospels…I don’t know that I could do it!

Yet, that is the cost of being a disciple…

(NOTE: If you ever want to watch an APU chapel, use the link in the sidebar. Our basketball games and other events are also available live and online.)

A song with new meaning…

I Will Offer Up My Life

By Matt Redman

“I will offer up my life in spirit and truth,

Pouring out the oil of love as my worship to you.

In surrender I must give my every part,

Lord, receive the sacrifice of a broken heart.

Jesus, what can I give?

What can I bring to so faithful a friend, to so loving a King?

Savior, what can be said?

What can be sung as a praise of Your name, for the things You have done?

Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part, of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.

You deserve my every breath for You’ve paid the great cost;

Giving up your life to death, even death on a cross.

You took all my shame away, there defeated my sin,

Opened up the gates of Heaven and have beckoned me in.

What can I give, what can I bring, what can I sing as an offering, Lord?

Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part, of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.”

…Amen.

“The Passion of the Christ”

The screen goes black…as the music fades, the audience is left stunned, unsure of how to react…they are silent, even as they file out of the arena, caught up in introspection, after this incredible depiction of their precious Savior, who died for their sins…

I have no words to say…I am left humbled to a greater degree than I have ever before experienced…I am left feeling so incredibly ashamed, because I know that I did this to my Lord…it was MY sins that nailed Him to that cross…all the hymns from church now have much deeper meaning…

I cannot say any more, for we signed a release that stated that we would not reveal anything about this film–which is fine with me: I want you to experience this film for yourself…as it truly is an experience…

One thing, though: Mel Gibson has an incredible heart. As he spoke to us, it was so evident that he loves Jesus…

More on this later….I am honestly speechless, as were the rest of the 3700 viewers of the film today…much to reflect upon…