This World is Not the End

Life seems heavy during this season of life,

Tonight I was humbled by a group of men that I meet with regularly.  These men are of varying ages, but the room is filled with wisdom found through walking this world for longer than I have.  While I have had my share of triumphs and trials, I am always humbled when coming together with this group of men.  It emphasizes more to me the importance of community where you can shoulder each others burdens and celebrate life’s joys.

In recent moments there have been those who have departed our lives that bring the reality of how much this life is a vapor.  So much worry, so much planning, so much time and money protecting our physical securities that we miss out on the life we have around us.  To say that this is all there is seems a very bleak existence indeed.  To say that we live then die and live life the best we can in the moment is just as discouraging.  There is no reason, there is no drive, there is no hope beyond the moment.  Moments wasted on this and that, rather than embraced for greater purpose.

For those of you who do not see life as a moment that passes then moves past your own existence, I encourage anyone to take a moment to sit and take in what life really is.  This is a big world, we are but a small being on it.  This is a large universe, we are but a moment in time.  These realities can weigh heavy with out something to bring us a greater reality.

If you would indulge me for a moment then you may return to your reality.  A world shaped out of moments and ending in death is a world void of meaning and hope.  A world shaped from hope of fulfillment, without knowing when, is one filled with expectancy holding us anticipating for a greater moment.  This is a world where joy becomes a reality in knowing that hope is based on reason, hope is based on the reality that there is something better.  This something is not irrational but one based from understanding that living in this world without hope is a dead end, thus there is no reason for life and no reason for us to be here.  In that line of thought, we should not exist because there is no point in existence in the first place.

So if there is no true existence, then we should not be here now.  However, we do exist and we have joy and we have hope because we feel drawn to there being more than what there currently is before us.  There is an innate drive in us, no matter how much we may deny it we feel there is something more or bigger than ourselves.  We may hide in politics, general religious activities, social activities, business, on and on and on life can take us.  Still there is a drive, a hope and an expectation of more in life.

It is in times of great sorrow and suffering that life is brought into focus.  Money seems meaningless, time is fleeting and moments past are held in higher value than they were in the moment.  We wish for more, we hope for more.  Here there are two paths that people take in these times.  They either dive into sorrow or look for something more.  It is here that the idea of hope shines through the darkness.  The reality that there is more, can be more and pushes us to realize there is actually more.

I have been honored to be apart of some lives recently has brought this reality back into focus.  Seeing those around me go through great trials, but hold to the hope of a greater expectation than they currently face.  A reality that there is more and it is real to them, and brings life into an other wise bleak existence.  This is not to say I did not have hope before, but a real live trying hope that breaks through even the hardest moments, that is something to behold.

Those moments when all hope is placed in something more, even after a great loss.  A hope that brings joy to the reality that there will be a greater day and a uniting that will drowned out and overcome all current vapors.  A moment everlasting filled with Joy and hope fulfilled.  This is an amazing reality to behold, and something more than a hollow truth of non-existence.

There is more, and I have seen it through my own suffering.  There is more and I have been reminded of it through the trials of family and friends all around me.  A hope that does more than keep us afloat, but propels us to a reality that there is more after this momentary existence in this world.  A promise of a truth that Heaven is real, God has redeemed us and we get to celebrate in that for eternity with Him.  This is the hope that drives us as it is built into each of us, even though we may deny it.  For without hope there is no reason for life.  For if it was not placed within us, we would need not live life at all.  If we need not live at all, then why are we here in this current existence?

I leave you here, and I hope in hope that the reality of hope is alive moving you towards the greater reality.

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Suffering and Us

Just read one of the most open and raw perspective on suffering. It was convicting in that I have pandered to those who suffer, without knowing what I thought a kind word might have been, was actually deeply hurtful and disregarding the persons actual feelings and actual circumstances.

Second I was comforted in this story due to suffering I have been through. No one will ever know how suffering and pain will effect another person. We then are not to try and understand, but to just love and be patient with the person suffering. Yes some suffer more than others, but we must not weigh this in the moment, this does not help. We instead need to love in a couple different ways.

Love by not trying to give kind words that you feel will help, love by not saying it will all be OK, love by not pointing out other success stories, love by not passing famous quotes or mis-applied Bible verses.

Love by doing what Christ did, be present and patient. Jesus loved those who were unlovable by others. He just showed up, and was present. He listened, He embraced and He loved by seeing the person’s pain, not trying to cover it up. Lets love as Christ did, lets not try and help by masking current pain, but be present with the person in there pain. Even if we dont understand how or what they are going through in there suffering, just be present and patient.

We can all take comfort in Christ as He is the only one who does know and understand our suffering. For the rest of us, we need to rest in that fact as well and not be worried so much about what to do, but what we are doing presently in that person’s pain.

Here is the original post I read:

Suffering

Loving Obedience

Good Morning World,

I have been waking up early this past week, most of the time just laying there wondering why I am laying there awake in the first place.  So today I rose and went to reading my Bible.  This is not to say “Yay look at me, I’m reading my Bible.”  Quite the contrary, its been a while.  With life and school and work and……..I have put many things before my time with God.  Now I will also say that this is something of an answered prayer.  I have been waking up later and later out of exhaustion and a feeling of being run down.  To wake up early really isn’t something I am choosing to do, but something I feel God is allowing me to do by His power to get my lazy butt out of bed.  So yes, Glory to God for the simple task of getting me out of bed in the morning!

All this to say, I ready my Bible this morning and God showed me some amazing insights to His nature and ours as well.

Today I was in Deuteronomy 8 through 11.  This is a time that Israel is being prepared to go into the promised land.  Moses is speaking to them out of instruction as well as warning.  Remember that this is not the original nation who came out of Egypt, but there children.  This is a key aspect to Moses’s speech and wisdom he is trying to impart on them, Do Not Turn From God!

While this is simple enough to hear, it is hard for man to follow.  God is a God of love and desiring to teach us His perfect ways of living life.  Moses points this out in Deut. 8:5 when he discusses the idea of Discipleship.  God is a disciplining God, He is teaching us His ways directly.  He desires to walk with us and show us how life is best lived, and how to live it.  He is not a distant God who barks orders then stands back, no He gives guidance but then walks with us to follow His ways.  It is when we rebel that He then separates.  Even in that separation however He is just patiently waiting for us to return to Him.

This point is shown in Deut. 8:11-14 where Moses is saying to remember what God has done and to follow Him.  Also to understand that in our comfort we usually turn away from God and to those things we are finding comfort in.  Only when God is tested and His patience extremely tried, does He react.  He does so however in a correction, not a condemnation.  He desires all to come to Him, but can not have those who are against Him in His presence.

The awesome part of all this is that God is the one doing the work within us.  We are not righteous in our own right.  Deut. 9:4-5 points to the fact that God is the only one who is righteous.  We are not and will never be righteous in our own understanding or efforts.  It is only because God gives us His righteousness as He turns our hearts back to Him.  Yes we make the decision to turn to God, but He does a lot of work to get us there.  The glory here is that God is righteous apart from us, Deut. 9:6-8, thus He never changes both in His standing, but also His desire to be in continual relationship with us.

So simply putting it this way, Love God for He is Mighty and Just, Deut. 10:16-21.  God is a God above all others, there are no others.  We create our own gods in our lives but God is more powerful that His creation.  This is awesome because we may think our wills are strong, but they are in fact week as we keep turning from the very Creator who is Master of everything.  We are week in that we can not look to God and simply be in relationship and obedience to Him.  It is only by God’s love and power we are able to do so.

Lastly God does delight in our obedience to Him, in fact He imparts much on those who do, Deut. 11:13.  God loves when His creation, children, return to Him and want to be with Him because of God’s love for them.  Obedience is not a bad word, it is very powerful.  It takes a decision on the part of the person to follow and acknowledge God and His desires for them.  This goes back to the idea of Discipleship and that is how this relationship with God works.  Much as we train and raise up our children, God desires to do this with us.  This would actually be primary in that we can not train and raise up our children unless we first learn how that is done by the very person who created the process, God.

I will leave this there as my brain is starting to run a bit wild with all the thoughts floating around.  Remember that God is a loving God, who is Righteous apart from us, but desires to make us Righteous through Him and His continual efforts to turn our hearts to Him for eternity.

Celebrating with Reverence

Hello everyone,

Today was a good day.  I had some good news delivered today I had been anticipating.  Life just went well today for me in general.  When I got home, my wife had a very similar day with lots of uplifting happenings and feeling very joyful.  It was a good day.  Not all days are like this, most I would dare say I feel are not this filled with the many ups that were experienced.  Every so often though, these days break through the normal day to day, and even the times when it feels that depression might be setting in.

So why the title then, Celebrating with Reverence.  Well in amongst my happy feelings today I had a thought.  One that was trying to creep in and steal away the simple joy’s I was having today.  I felt that I should not be celebrating these good things that were happening.  Why? Because others were not able to be experiencing them, in fact there are a lot of people who will never get this chance to celebrate as I was today.  To this I also had the thought, there are so many with much less, celebrating with so little.  Who am I to celebrate such big things and such awesome things, when others will not get these same chances.

Well, to tell you bluntly and honestly, this was the enemy trying to take this from me.  Today was a good day, today provided for my families’ future yet again in new ways, today I was able to celebrate accomplishments about my kids and feelings of life’s joys with my wife.  These are not bad things, these are not negatives.  The enemy however is strong and quick to dash these times from us, and I feel I give in way to easily.

I discussed these feelings with my wife, and she had some great wisdom.  It is not the point of being blessed, but what that blessing can provide for others through us.  Might I say I think I am married to the wises woman around 😉 .  She is right, all joking aside.  God does not bless us because we work hard, we do things the right way, we pray a certain way or follow the rules better than the next guy.  No, Gob blesses us so that we may bless others.  Does this take away from our joy in the moment, most certainly not.  However, this does change the perspective of that celebration of joy.

God does bless us in this life, even if we can’t or don’t see how He is blessing us.  It could be in the day to day provision, a kind word, or something we never saw coming.  He also blesses us in what we ask for, be it in ways we also were not expecting.  He however is not a Gene in a bottle.  He does not bless simply because we ask Him too, He blesses us because He loves us.  God also blesses through others in their blessedness.  We use what we are given to carry out His mission of loving those around us.

There are many dynamics to this, scripture I could quote to fit this perspective, and I could go further in depth.  I merely wanted to share a thought I have had in hopes that it helps others who may feel wrong for celebrating their joy with those around them.  We should be considerate of how we celebrate around others, because there are those who are hurting and who do not have the same opportunities or material gain others might.  However, those who do get those opportunities or material gain are able to bless those who do not.

So as the devil may be trying to take the joy from something simply as a good day, or to a major accomplishment, focus on the reason and simple joy that God brings us.  He works through different ways to uplift us as well, even those with much have difficulties in life.  Celebrate with God because God is a good God, not because He gives us stuff.  Celebrate that we are able to provide for ourselves, families and others because God does bless us.  Celebrate because we know that whatever we gain in this world, we truly do not need after we pass into Heaven because of God’s ultimate gift in/through Jesus.

Joy is a good thing, keeping it in perspective is also a good thing.  Celebrating is also a good thing, so go celebrate.  Do so in the knowledge of God and that He is a good God, One who will love us no matter what.  This is also what carries us through the hard times, the simple joy and knowledge that God is a good God.  A God that works in us and through us for His glory and glorious rescue plan for humanity.

Be blessed and celebrate!

 

Full Submission to Christ

            In all of the discipleship process ,Christ is central.  The understanding that Christ took our place on the Cross in a selfless act should be central in how our development occurs and how we reflect a selfless driven life to others.  Bonhoeffer described that any effort to hinder Jesus in this suffering is satanic, it is holding Christ back from becoming what He was supposed to be.[1]  The understanding that Jesus was rejected in this selfless act of suffering struck me to my core.  Where have I been denying Jesus His rightful place as He suffered to take the rejection of God away from me?  Also where am I denying the suffering I am supposed to take on in order to become what Christ has made me to be?

These questions have disturbed my view on becoming and making disciples for Christ.  The full denial of self to me seems to be where I need to work in order to come to full freedom of self and freedom in Christ.  Focusing fully on Christ in daily prayer, scripture and worldview is something I feel I need to become more aware of and focused on.  Even in this pursuit, keeping the focus on God rather than my own desire to develop further can become counter productive.  Letting go completely and just focusing on the one who goes before me is where I need to reorient my life daily.[2]  I find that I have bought into the fallacy that I need to know myself, rather than fully embracing and knowing only Christ.  I can never know who I am or what I am to be unless I give up fully on the idea that I could ever know on my own or apart from Christ.

Embracing suffering is central to Bonhoeffer’s discussion as well on the Cross.  Taking up the Cross as a follower means I bear suffering and not avoid it.  Only through suffering could Christ become who He was called to be.  How then could I ever believe that I was above Christ in that I should avoid suffering as well?[3]  As Christ prayed for the cup to pass over Him in Gethsemane, He came to understand by only drinking the cup fully, could He then pass from it.[4]  From Bonhoeffer’s statement I draw new hope, that only through bearing the suffering will it be able to pass.[5]  As Christ became the savior of all through His suffering, how much I can become in Him through the suffering I face in the world.  This to me is true submission and a desire to fully embrace Christ by holding fast to him and fully denying the self I still try to cling to.

[1] Boneffer 85

[2] ibid 86

[3] ibid 89

[4] ibid 90

[5] ibid

Christ is Central to Discipleship!

I had an assignment for class this weekend that focused on the centrality of Christ in discipleship.  While it was a big title, I found one key element, Christ is central in everything!  This is even more important when talking and walking with others as they come to know and grow in there faith.  If you up for it, read more below.  I know I learned a lot, I hope you find it helpful as well.

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Discipleship can be summed up in a single word, obedience.  From this all other aspects proceed in a follower’s life, no matter what they are following.  We can be obedient to a cause, political party or various figures throughout history.  The key component is obedience.  This is why as a Christian disciple, Christ must be the key figure that we are obedient to.  There would be no other reason to be called a disciple of Christ if first that person is not committing themselves to obeying Him.

Karl Rahner explained, “obedient surrender of the whole person to the incomprehensibility of the holy God.”[1]  This kind of surrender starts with the giving of a person’s inner and outer self-allowing transformation to start to take place.  This act of giving oneself over to Christ becomes a life transformed by Christ’s grace.[2]  If a person is not focused on Christ, then they are not going to be letting Christ in to transform them.  It is not by our power that we are moved by Christ, but it is by Christ that we are moved.  If there is no obedience to His will, there is no reason to call oneself a disciple or follower of Christ.

It is by Christ that also calls a person into discipleship.[3]  To answer the call of Christ suggests having obedience to what He is calling us to.  The recognition of the calling is important, but going back to who the person is following is the important theme.  Without a follower recognizing that it is Christ that they are choosing to obey, they will not truly be focusing on Christ.[4]  This is taking the follower out of the equation as Christ is the one who calls, Christ is the one who is recognized and Christ is the one who initiates the relationship.  There is no place that a disciple is in a position to hold power or sway in the relationship.  It is Christ doing the work, Christ doing the teaching and Christ doing the transformation of a person’s mind and heart.[5]  All we do is say “yes lord” and we are transformed by Christ for God’s glory.

Areas of Submission

            With obedience also comes the act of submission.  Once Christ is recognized as the One we are seeking after, we must come under His authority and how he is calling us to be.  This again is not a mere act of our own will, that would be taking away the centrality of Christ in the process of discipleship.  It is rather an understanding revealed by Christ and a change brought on through that understanding.[6]  Christ is the reason for the understanding and for the cause and completion of the change in a disciple.  At no point is a person able to say no to any aspect of Christ in their life, for if they say no to anything they are saying no completely to Christ.[7]

One of the main topics of submission surrounds around humility.  Humbling oneself and coming to Christ is the recognition and submission to Christs will in a follower’s life.  Without humility a disciple will be focused on themselves for; self-glory, will be self-reliant, boastful about themselves, care what others think rather than what Christ thinks, resist facing personal sin, weakness and failures, struggle with blessing s of others, more positional rather than sub missional, and want to control rather than delegate in ministry.  All of these issues stem from a focus of self rather than a focus on Christ.[8]  Again it removes Christ, telling Him no, causing a rebelling nature to take hold.  Understanding this will help in refocusing continually on Christ and draw from Him what we need to sustain our relationship with Him.

Part of being a disciple is that taking into account the cost of followership in Christ.  This is a thoughtful process to help the new believer understand the cost of following Christ. [9] Being a follower of anything takes full attention and focus to continually develop in pursuit, being a disciple of Christ is no different.  They must also be willing to carry the burden and sacrifice in life for Christ, the focus still is fully on Christ even at the cost of possessions, family, etc.[10] Disciples submit to Christ authority in study, his call to love others, and fulfilling His mission in their lives.[11]  Finally a disciple is one who is bearing fruit of their relationship with Christ by growing themselves as well as others in Christ.  All of this is fulfilled by the filling of the Holy Spirit who again was given to disciples by Christ for Christ’s glory.[12]

Three Stages of Discipleship

            In looking over the obedience and submission to Christ in the Discipleship process, three stages can be seen to emerge.  First this type of relationship is sacrificial, second it is relational, finally it is transformational.[13]  Each stage helps to develop the disciple into a new being over and over again.  This process does not stop until fully complete in joining with Christ in Heaven.  Thus, this will be a lifelong mission that the disciple has been called into and given the power to accomplish by Christ.

First looking at the sacrificial aspect of the discipleship process. This goes back to the initial decision to follow Christ.  The disciple needs to take an account of what they are going to give up in order to follow Christ.[14]  Are they willing to sacrifice family, friends, possessions, career and their life in the service to Christ?  This is a recognition that they are no longer in charge of their lives.  Christ is the head and they are following Him in every aspect of their lives.[15]  However in this process they are not alone as Christ tells them he will always be with them; “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[16]  There is a comfort and a cost in surrendering to Christ sacrificially, one however is a calling that all must attain to as a disciple.[17]

Second principle is one of relationship.  As previously mentioned, disciples are not alone in the discipleship process.  There must be a love for God, neighbor and other disciples.[18]  This is not something that a person should or can go at alone.  There is an important element in focusing on relationship, it is an example of love.  Through relationship a follower finds their gifts that God has equipped them with.[19] It also takes effort to have relationship, causing growth and a show of love when interacting with those around them.  This is where they can find their mission in Christ in caring for those He has called them to serve.[20]  In this mission they get to reach out to others and share with them what they have found in Christ.[21]  This is where the faith meets action and begin to fulfill the great commission that Christ calls all disciples to.

Finally, discipleship is transformational.  As all are made a new creation at conversion in recognition of Christ as the savior, disciples are changed over a lifetime as He works within them.  Disciples should understand that spiritual growth is something that allows them to become more Christ like in each moment in word, thought, attitude and action.[22]  Forming spiritual disciplines help to connect them further to God and through this connection Christ is growing them more in maturity as a disciple.[23]  An important aspect of the transformational process is that it generates a more Christ like person, as this person is changed internally so will how they see and interact with the world.[24]  This helps to bring them closer not only to Christ over a lifetime, but drive them more to desiring and performing His mission.[25]  This process essentially is coming under Christs authority and allowing Him to change them into a new creation in Christ’s image.[26]

All three principles tie together to bring a holistic view of discipleship.  There is the sacrificing of one’s self to Christs authority and mission.  Then a relational aspect that helps to connect them with the Savior allowing Him to empower and grow them for the greater mission.  Finally, the transformation of the disciple themselves as Christ creates them into a new being that will then go out and love the world as Christ does.  Christ is the reason for all aspects of Discipleship, it is by His love that He instructs, changes and empowers disciples to be on mission in changing the world.

Bibliography

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Geffrey B. Kelly, and John D. Godsey. Discipleship. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple making is–: how to live the great commission with passion and confidence. Nashville, TN: B & H Avademic, 2013.

Linnane, Brian F. “Dying with Christ: Rahner’s Ethics of Discipleship.” The Journal of Religion 81, no. 2 (2001): 228-48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1205541.

Merida, Tony. The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman. DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman. DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

[1] Brian F. Linnane, “Dying with Christ: Rahners Ethics of Discipleship,” The Journal of Religion 81, no. 2 (2001): , doi:10.1086/490821. 236.

[2] Ibid

[3] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, and John D. Godsey, Discipleship (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003) 202.

[4] Ibid

[5] Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Emerson Coleman, DiscipleShift five steps that help your church to make disciples who make disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) 46-51.

[6] Ibid 48

[7] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple making is–: how to live the great commission with passion and confidence (Nashville, TN: B & H Avademic, 2013) 25.

[8] Tony Merida, The Christ-centered expositor: a field guide for word-driven disciple makers (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2016) 36.

[9] Early, et. al, 22

[10] Ibid 23

[11] Ibid 24-25

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid 26-27

[14] Ibid 26

[15] Putman, et. al, 46

[16] Mathew 28:20 ESV. Unless otherwise noted all Biblical passages are in the English Standard Verson.

[17] Early, et. al,  27

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Putman, et. al, 50

[21] Ibid

[22] Early, et. al,  27

[23] Ibid

[24] Ibid 28

[25] Ibid

[26] Putman, et. al, 48

Living in God’s love, not my own control

Hello all you happy people!

The past year has been an interesting mix of feelings for me.  It was a calm year yet one of busyness and distraction.  In the past five years there is an expectation to have something major just happen in our lives.  I think this has put me on alert most of the time and in light of this, I had a year trying to figure out what life is really all about.

To recap I am a father of five loud, rambunctious, creative, inquisitive, at times strange, awesome kids.  I know every parent would say that their kids are great, I do and I will!  This however puts me at odds with myself when I am looking for time of reflection, prayer and peace in a time of life when that feeling is truly rare.

This feeling of being at odds has caused internal reflection as well as external.  I have changed as a man, husband and father over the past year.  This is to be expected as we all are constantly changing, for better or at times for worse.  These up and downs help to carve us as individuals, but also help us see where we fit in the larger picture as well.

It is this last point I feel I have struggled with over the past year the most, where do I fit now?  I was a Coast Guardsman, I am a husband, I am a father, I am a Christ follower, I am……. This is what keeps me in constant quandary, but I have found this is not a bad place to be as I have been feeling.  This is a time that I can focus, renew and enjoy the moment that I am in presently.

I have got too caught up in what I want the world to be, rather than enjoy the world that I currently am a part of.  God is showing me that I don’t need to change what’s going on around me, but change what is within me.  This is easy to say, hard to do.

Hard in the sense it takes effort to take stock of who I am, and where I am.  Bringing those two together can be equally as hard as I put expectations on what I want to be, not thinking about who I have become presently.  God has a plan, God is in control, so I need to take my hand of the darn wheel and let Him do the darn driving.

I constantly talk about how we as a culture have control issues when I talk to other men about growing in Christ.  In reality, I have put up a good facade and fooled myself in the process.  I am one that needs to feel that I have it together, thus I try and hold it together.  This encompasses the peace in the house hold, peace in the workplace and peace in all that is surrounding me.

I allow the news, coworkers, children, my lovely wife, strangers to mold and shape me because I want to make sure I am who they need me to be at every moment.  Rather than relying on the God who made me who I am, I am trying to be something I am truly not to everyone around me.  Then I get to the point of questioning, what and who am I really?  When the pillars that I have lifted myself up onto fall, there is nothing that is supporting the falseness I have created.

These are the crazy things I let take over my life.  Rather I should turn to God, because I know I should.  Funny thing in these times I realize more and more, God is meeting in the craziness I have created around me.  He is cutting through the falseness and wanting to show me who I am in Him.  This is a hard lesson I learn over and over, but oh what a great God I serve in that He is constantly there to serve me in love.

I have had a bumper sticker on my car now for a while that states God Is Love.  At first, I put this on my car hoping to spread the message to the world, unfortunately I started to live my life like a bumper sticker.  It became a mantra more than a reality.  God is truly love, but He is not a bumper sticker.  I am learning to live in His love rather than just wearing it for others to see why they need Him and how great I am because of God.

I am nothing apart from God, He is the one who is great.  He is the one who I draw my identity.  He is the one who brings peace and meaning to my life.  This is my focus, not just over the next year, but for eternity.  Continually shaping my mind doesn’t work, God shaping my whole being does.

I hope that this next year brings you God’s awesome love and peace.

-Mr. Pentafied