Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Growth & Flourishing of the Christian Mind

God works in mysterious ways, as they say.  And how truly mysterious it is and difficult to comprehend.  Just when you think you've discovered a way in which God operates, he surprises you with another.  

At times he seems distant.  At times it seems hopeless.  At other times he is close.  Sometimes he grants the prayer.  Other times he refrains.  Sometimes light wins the day, and sometimes it seems as though there is no shame in the universe and no hope for a better tomorrow.  At times it seems that evil reigns.  At other moments one wonders just how this world could be so dark with such wonderful souls within it. 

To understand God is to understand who we really are, as humans.  But who can understand God?  Who can know his ways?  No one may know him completely, but we can know certain truths about him.  The wise seek out his hidden secrets, as it is written.  

To be a truly wise person, that seems like the height of this life.  We want a mind of wisdom.  We want a mind fully absorbed in the truths of God.  In short, we want the mind of Christ.  

Life is a short and beautiful thing.  I think of life as a vast forest.  Though I was raised in the forests of Wisconsin, so that would make sense.  But think of it... we watch a sun rise and set every day.  We see a moon dangling in the sky.  We see millions of stars in the sky.  Nature grows from the ground, springs up into giant trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and all these wonders.  We see people on their journeys.  We can wander for hours and explore the vast landscape.  How exciting don't you think?  How absolutely amazing!  It's simply incredible.  We tend to muck it up though, don't we?  We stare at computer screens.  We sit in cubicles.  We pay bills.  We drive along the roads.  And we rarely look up.  

It reminds me of the classic C.S. Lewis novel, The Screw Tape Letters.  One demon instructing another demon on how to stifle mankind from knowing God.  Imagine if we all looked up a few times everyday.  There wouldn't be a non-believer left.  Abraham Lincoln agrees with that when he said, “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Today my assertion is this: God has not made us to live miserable and defeated.  Though I sometimes feel that way.  There are legitimate moments to feel such things.  But in essence God has called us to a life of victories.  Not victories in the normative sense, but victories of the soul.  And victories over the world.  Victory is the effect of Christ's victory, his gift of the Spirit, and the Spirit's work in our souls. 

Let me tell you, before I knew Jesus I was quite assured of my own wisdom.  Or I was at least quite well assured of my own militant agnosticism, and that I was right about it.  Not very humble of me, I know.  

Before I knew Jesus, and for most, before they know Jesus, their wisdom amounts to that of a drunk, crippled inebriate locked in a closet.  I knew jack.  They know jack. A central part of my walk with Jesus Christ has been slowly being made knowledgeable of the world around me.  And of myself.  

I had always been told Christianity was for dumb hicks and elderly grandmothers.  And that at the greatest universities were all these great, complex philosophies and views.  And I found much the opposite is true.  The prevailing philosophies, like relativism and post-modernism are blatantly anti-intellectual, basically saying that there is no truth, there is no reason to study or look into anything, so just do whatever you want.  Basically the philosophy of a beach bum or a drug addict, just garbed in higher terminology.  And within Christianity, a wealth of wisdom, hard facts, and very difficult truths to follow.  These are often truths about ourselves and about our conduct.  Not necessarily about our critical rhetoric, or the things we believe within, but more what we brass tacks actually do.  The word of God cuts right to the heart of our hypocrisy and demands better.  Alone, not possible.  No hope.  With Jesus, it's inevitable.  Victory comes like a flowing river.

Let's talk about a few ways in which God floods the light into our former darkness.  It's versatile.  It's far reaching.  It's absolutely incredible.  But a huge part of it is our active participation.  God does the mighty work, we do the footwork.  God provides the breakthroughs, we do the action steps in the real world.  

The journey starts out pretty tough.  At least it started out tough for me.  I'd been saved, yet I was a mess.  So I got to work on myself.  God got to work on me.  

I started to understand the truth about the world.  A true, biblical worldview began to be cultivated in my mind.  The soft spiritual world begins to appear out of the fog.  I started to recognize the spiritual battle, the heavens, the earth, and the true intents of the human heart.  I noticed the battle and I begin to take part in it.  

How truly astonishing; and awkward.  It is quite difficult at first.  If you remember in C.S. Lewis' work The Great Divorce, those who walk into heaven find it quite prickly and painful at first.  As if everything were sharp and painful to the touch.  But eventually the skin toughens and it becomes easier and easier to walk in such a way.  It is a new way of walking.  And much like learning to live for the first time; How to truly live!  

For earlier I lived in the shadow of the true life, now I'm beginning to live a real life.  And it's amazing.  Yet very scary too.  Quite difficult at times.  And I don't want to pray, but I make myself pray.  I don't want to study God's word, but I make myself study.  I don't want to go to twelve step groups, but I make myself go to them.  I don't always want to be at church, but for some reason I'm impelled to go.  In fact in all these areas, where there had been little to no interest or drive, suddenly I find myself able to force myself.  Much more able to force myself down more moral roads.  That sensation, of being able, actually able to live a better life, having that internal drive to do it, that was the pink cloud of the first few years of my Christian walk. Because I had wanted to want such things, I had ached for a better life, yet it seemed like my debased desires for sex, pleasure, and entertainment had always dominated and pushed aside those desires for righteousness and moral conduct.  

Finally I thought to myself, no more losing the war.  Finally I can fight hard and win the battles. By the incredible power of God.  His will be done, not mine.  And I began to embrace not my plans for my life, but God's plans for my life.  How did I know them?  I didn't really at first.  But I prayed constantly and God revealed his ways to me and shined a light in the direction he wanted me to go.  So it all began falling into place. 

It's very difficult.  But finally, a challenge worth taking.  No more lounging at clubs or grungy bars hoping to get drunk enough to talk to a random girl and maybe have a night of fun, only to feel empty and hopeless the next morning.  No more sitting in basements smoking bowls, and wishing something meaningful would happen in my life.  No more tripping out in summer, trying to trick myself into believing for a few moments that I'm really on a mind changing journey. And all too soon the realization would come that it was just another fragmented high, gone, taking much of me with it. Soon enough no amount of tripping could conceal the fact that I was an obese, chemically twisted failure of a human being.  The challenge of Christianity changed all that.  No more darkness and sadness and suicidal thoughts, no more laying in roads wishing to be hit by a car!  No more hospital beds, and no more staying up all night talking, thinking we're smart, but not remembering a word of what we said.  

Instead, a real challenge.  To live a real life!  To live a life outside the internet, outside the movie screen, outside the dope house, outside mom and pop's basement in suburbia.  To really live for something greater.  A real challenge, wow.  It is tough, yet so very worth it.  

So quickly, ten positions of the mind, developments of the soul that I've encountered within the Christian life.  They come in the fullness of time, in prayer, in study, and in His willingness to give them.  These revelations are short in comparison with the wealth of genius and growth God gives over the fullness of time.

1.  One of the earliest revelations I had was the moment of being sold out: God must have all there is of me.  God must be all in my life, no compromises, no half measures.  God gave that thought, my part was to resolve to see it through, patiently over time. 

2. In surrender is vast power.  I got low, very low to the ground in worship to God early on and to this day.  This physical response reflects an eternal reliance upon God in all circumstances.  It's necessary because this new attitude is just that, new. It does not come easily.  Beating back internal rebellion is best accomplished through prayer, flat upon the ground.  It sounds odd, trust me, it's amazing.

3. Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness is essential to daily worship.  The more I thank God throughout the day, the more I come to realize just how blessed I am.  I've taken for granted everything in my life, being a pompous self-entitled middle class suburban kid.  Reality sets in when learning about life in the rest of the world where food and shelter are often scarce.  No need for guilt though, just more praise and thankfulness to God.  Easy to describe, it even seems cliche' but if one can actually put it into practice, that's where it's powerful.

4.  God has made you with the option of standing on the heights. Psalm 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.  This one is a mystery to me.  It has something to do with wisdom, but also much more.  I think it must be related to worldview, to understanding reality, yet also to do with an attitude of mind.  I'm learning. 

5. God gives us the gift of mounting up on wings like eagles (Isaiah 41:30).  The mystery here is of deliverance. And of strength.  Even youths grow weary.  Very weary, if your like me.  Yet God promises a future where we will mount up on wings like eagles.  We will walk and not grow weary, we will run and not be faint.  I've often had dreams of running, jogging, and loving the wind in my face. I run along dark suburban streets, through dark woods, though I'm not afraid, along ancient trails, though I know not where I tread.  And I see the beautiful dark city, and the trees.  This is a gift God gives, of being at full speed, of being strong and able to perceive the world and see the beauty of life.  It is part of that Christ-like mindset of awe and wonder, and also of consistent strength and wisdom. 

6. In suffering we mature.  Every saint will go through dark midnights of the soul.  They are so very natural in our Christian walk.  Don't let anyone condemn you and get on you, that somehow you have to always been cheerful and joyous.  That is not so.  There are certainly tough times, dark times, and dark midnights of the soul.  No need for pretending.  Be real.  If they don't get it, oh well.  But on the back end of suffering, and through trials I'll find myself coming out the other end amazed by a new strength I feel.  I run my hands across my arms and chest and back and find new spiritual muscles have formed where there had only been flubber.  Through suffering and trials we mature into more full stable Christians.  It's really quite amazing.  I always take a particular delight after coming out of trial, to find myself crafted a bit more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  It is something to be grateful for.

7. Desperate to Share.  This is where zeal, power, faith, love , and wisdom combine to form a blazing fire, a Spirit fire of conviction, conviction, conviction to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a consuming fire within, a conviction unbendable.  This same desperation, this zeal has stood against the worst threats of death and martyrdom from the worst evils across history.  The fire of the Spirit, the zeal to share the gospel ensures that the gospel is spread throughout the world.  And it ensures that the true disciples give up their lives for Jesus Christ at the proper moments to bring Him glory. 

8. Seeking Knowledge & Wisdom - This is one of my favorites.  I love wisdom and I love knowledge.  I love reading books.  I love listening to audiobooks.  I love watching documentaries.  I love browsing Youtube for lectures, sermons, apologetics, and presentations.  I love taking college courses and writing papers.  I love searching for books on sins I struggle with, reading them, and finding victory over sin.  This journey is fun, it's astonishing, and so rewarding. Many Christians reject wisdom, don't be foolish like that, seek it out. 

9.  His Will be done, not mine.  Oh how hard it is to set aside my plans for His plan.  I wanted to be a writer, a blogger, a podcast host or some such thing.  But God set me into ministry in the Salvation Army and I follow where he leads.  Are you following Him or are you stubbornly staking out your own way?  God's plan extends into romance, into friendships, personal conduct, money, goals, plans, political views, and personal moral framework.  His will in all these things be done, not mine. 

10. All for His Glory.  Finally, my internal motivation.  Who am I doing it for?  My own personal prestige?  Or for His eternal glory?  All we can do is ask God to make us right in this area.  And seek to have the heart of a servant.  This is a profound mystery.  But God makes it possible.  All for Him.  All for His glory and honor.  Amen.  

The greatest wisdom is in his word of course.  One of the greatest choices I've ever made was to trust God's word fully.  I started off exceedingly skeptical of the Bible.  I tended to lean toward my own personal opinions instead of God's teaching.  I tended to assume if I didn't understand a scripture, that perhaps it was wrong or misrecorded.  I don't think that anymore.  I realize that if I don't understand something yet, the fault lies with me, not the word.  Trust his word.  And believe in God.  Belief is trusting that God is really real, that Jesus Christ is really alive, seated in glory in heaven, and faith is trusting Him, that he will do what is right and that His word is really the truth about life and reality.  

If you cultivate that vital relationship with God through Christ, on a daily basis, and pursue wisdom in your life, you will find greater revelations than these on the journey of life.  Grow and flourish as a Christian.  You've been called to victory, to overcome the world.  Embrace that legacy and live the victory as your new Christian mindset.  

Related Posts:
  1. Take a Stand Like Daniel: Being a counter-culture warrior
  2. Sermon: Purity of the Heart & Holiness
  3. The Divine Mysteries of Jesus Christ
  4. Sermon: Fighting the Good Fight of the Faith
  5. The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion
  6. The War on Principles & the Hope in our Worldview
  7. Take a Stand on Key Issues: Addiction, Abortion
  8. Politics & God
  9. Comprehending the Truth about America
  10. Be a Powerhouse Christian Battleship

Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Obey Christ & Have Assurance on the Day of Judgment

"As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Saskatchewan back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played 'Amazing Grace,' the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.

When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Sometimes we succeed at things in life only to find that we’ve arrived at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and we’ve really made a big blunder.

In The Christian life, we can worship with a full heart, come to church on Sundays, maybe even show up early for Bible study, but when it really comes down to it, we aren’t too concerned with God and his instructions for how we ought to live.

This is where the rubber meets the road: obedience. We must obey God, rather than men. This is it. Are we really gonna do it or are we full of it? This is the test. We’re called to have faith in God, and we’re called to love God with all we have. But what does it mean to actually love God? Is it a feeling? Yes, but it’s much more than a feeling. Love is a command.

Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “He who loves me obeys my commands.” John 14:15 And again in 1st John 5:3: “This is the love of God: to obey his commands.”

The scriptures seem to indicate again and again, especially in the gospel of John, 1st John and 2nd John that love is closely related to obedience. How can you tell someone really loves you? He respects you. He listens to you. How can you tell your children have been raised well? They listen to you. They obey you. It’s the same with God.

So much so that when Jesus describes the day of the Lord, he says that to those who were obedient he will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” But to those who did not obey his commands, and live like he lived he will say,” I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”

So today, I don’t want to get into anything too fancy. We’re going to dig into God’s word regarding five themes of obedience:

1. Obedience to His Commands as Love

2. Living like Jesus – love and mercy

3. Living Holy – avoiding sinful behavior

4. Carrying my Cross

5. Living to Serve – gathering fruit for eternal life

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." -1st John 5:1-5

I think it’s absolutely fascinating that this scripture says “This is love for God: to keep his commands.” We assume love is a feeling. But love in the idea of agape love for God is obeying his commands.

This message is a call to action today. I want to call the body of Christ to be obedient to God. Obedience is the difference between false converts and true followers.

We can’t work our way to heaven. We have Jesus for our need. But our response is vital. Faith without works is dead. 

We need to ensure we’re working in the right spirit. We’re working, serving, obeying not because we’re hoping God will accept us, no, we’re working from the perspective that we love our heavenly father so much, we want to do everything we can to please him.

Some of you have to unplug and really focus in on the word of God. The Salvation Army is a branch off from Methodism. Susanna Wesley, the great mother of Methodism understood that for her children to be Christian in a secular world, she had to teach them with a solid method. She knew that to hold strong to Christianity took a daily method, a lifestyle of faith. We need to make sure we’re doing that. Because it’s very easy for the world to suck us in and try to steal our blessing from us.

How can we be confident on the day of judgment? In the first letter from John to the churches, he makes it quite clear, confidence is this: In this world we are like Jesus.

"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus." -1st John 4:16b-17

Now one could preach a thousand sermons on what it means to be like Jesus. But in this context, in the letter from John, the writer of the love gospel, I think he’s referring to the triumph of mercy over judgment, so showing mercy, and loving service. Jesus exemplified those two attitudes of the mind.

He really could’ve been much more hard and judgmental. He’s God after all. But every time he was confronted with some serious sinners, he always played the mercy card. He always showed mercy to those in need. Think of the woman at the well, Jesus knew instantly that the woman before him was a Samaritan, a traitor to Judah and the true kingdom. In addition, she had been married five times, and was currently living with a man who wasn’t her husband. He told her the truth about herself, and offered her the kingdom of heaven.

Do you do the same? Do you show unexpected mercy in difficult circumstances? When someone makes a mistake do you show them grace? Or do you jump on them and really grill them about it?

This message is one of calling all of us to repentance. And we need that. Myself included.

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." -1st Peter 1:13-21 

When I was a very, very new Christian I found myself transfixed with verse 18 of this scripture. “You were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors.” And I didn’t think of that in context of ancient times, I thought of that in modern terms. As it applied to my life… empty way of life. Nine to five, public school, go to college, get a job, get married, have children, focus on me, focus on my ambitions, focus on feeling good, on having fun, on going on extravagant trips, on gorging myself on food, media, drink; and ignore the big questions. Stare at the TV.  Sit on the internet.  All that stuff was the empty way of life I inherited from my American ancestors. And it sucked and it was pointless. Jesus calls us to something much greater.

It also said, "Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." Let's see: Sexual sin, pornography, drugs, alcoholism, cigarettes, masturbation, selfishness, these are all common sins within the church. Not outside, but within. So if your struggling with one of those issues, fine, you don’t have to hate yourself, but pray about it, sincerely, on your knees. Ask God to remove it from your life, every night. And seek out resources to recover. Consider AA or NA or Celebrate Recovery or reading recovery books on these topics. Most ministers agree the two biggest problems in the church are sexual sin and irresponsibility with money. 

Are you struggling with these issues? Seek out Jesus, take action steps and grow past those sins.  Ignore cynical voices who say these things are  inevitable, they are not.  The truth is many Christians overcome these sins and never return to them.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

What is your cross to bear for Christ? It can be many things. But it comes down to a very simple principle: Am I living for myself and my plans, or am I living for Christ and seeking his will for my life?

This isn’t super complicated. It’s quite simple: Am I allowing God to lead me, or am I firmly in charge? 

 For me, when I got saved I knew I was called to ministry. If I had ignored that call, and done what I wanted, which was to be a writer or blogger, or political activist, I would’ve been ignoring God’s call for my life. 

There’s a second cross I carry, that of staying clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. I was addicted for more than 10 years. Part of turning to Jesus Christ was rejecting all of that. One day at a time, Christ makes it possible. I have supports and they help me stay the course. 

Thirdly, a cross I carry is that of chronic fatigue. I’m tired all the time, everyday, exhausted and weak.  I’m hoping God will change that, but if he doesn’t then it must mean it’s a cross to bear for his glory. 

These crosses were very heavy at first, but as I learned the way, growing closer to Jesus, they are lighter and lighter. For his yoke is light.

Now let's talk about bearing fruit. Each of you are a fruit tree. And every so often Jesus walks over and collects the fruit your producing. Good fruit can be many things.  Some examples include: Making disciples, handing out bibles, worshiping the Lord, praying regularly for others, giving food to the poor, helping the sick and widows, sheltering the homeless, and visiting those in prison.

This is where I want to call all of us to action.  One of the key requirements of our faith is doing good works. Now I’m not saying everybody has to put in fifty hours a week. But one or two hours a week? Or 5 or 10 hours a week?  We can certainly do these things. 

I wonder about the body of Christ on Earth: Why aren’t we carrying the gospel into the community? Heaven is real, hell is real. There are young people out there in the community who need the gospel we carry. Please, get active. You don’t have to volunteer at the Salvation Army if you don’t want to, but if you don’t, then become a mobile ministry yourself.

The primary point is this: Take action. Write things down. Make a plan. You don’t have to tell anyone, but do it. One of the mottos of the Salvation Army is “Do Something!” I believe the Salvation Army is the army to go into the community. Jesus didn’t say invite he said GO! 

If you’re an extrovert, go, talk to people, make connections, be a disciple maker, bring them in. If you’re an introvert, then get on social media, write articles, post photos and scriptures, create an email chain, write a blog, and/or be a prayer warrior in private. Or serve in more practical ways: Volunteer at a nursing home, work with at risk youth, or at a jail. 

This is stuff we should already be doing as the church of Christ. It’s our mandate. If we aren’t doing this stuff, and if all we really do is show up on Sundays, then we aren’t really living it, plain and simple. Plain and simple. Repent. Do good works. Get active. Call out to God. Make a plan. And put it into action. For those of you who already do, great, keep it up! For those of you who aren’t, get to work. Your called to serve.

Do it for Jesus Christ our glorious risen savior. He will call us to account, make sure you’ve served and He can say to you: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

In closing, your homework is to read 1st peter chapter 1 which really encapsulates what we talked about today. This is the reason we do what we do, the reason we obey, because we have an incredible real inheritance in heaven. 

Therefore we can say: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." -1st Peter 1:3-9

Related Posts: 
  1. Take a Stand Like Daniel: Being a counter-culture warrior
  2. Sermon: Purity of the Heart & Holiness
  3. The Divine Mysteries of Jesus Christ
  4. Sermon: Fighting the Good Fight of the Faith
  5. The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion
  6. The War on Principles & the Hope in our Worldview
  7. Take a Stand on Key Issues: Addiction, Abortion
  8. Politics & God
  9. Comprehending the Truth about America
  10. Be a Powerhouse Christian Battleship

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Devotional for Children

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3 

The apostle Paul wrote these words, encouraging believers in Jesus to run the race. Run the race of what? Of the faith.

Paul calls the testifiers to the faith a “great cloud of witnesses.” Who is he talking about? He’s talking about the greats of Bible history: Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Gideon, Noah, Joseph, and many others. These were men and women who had lots of problems. They were imperfect. They made lots of mistakes. Noah drank too much. Moses had anger problems, and didn’t think he could speak very well. Jacob was liar and a cheat. Yet they all had one thing in common: Their lives were transformed by faith in God.

What is faith? Faith is believing God instead of believing the world. Faith is believing God’s word instead of believing the television. Faith is believing in a God the world will make fun of you for believing in. And through faith, we can do things no one else can do.

Through faith we become like superheroes. We become like jedi knights, guardians of the souls of humanity.

Some of you in this room will choose the way of the world, you’ll toss aside God and choose to do things your own way. And your life will be a disaster. But some of you will choose God’s way, and you’ll look skeptically at the world. You’ll live a life of faith, standing out from the crowd of the world, so lost in sin and selfishness. You’ll be a hero, you’ll be a protector of freedom and carrier of the gospel.

The list that Paul writes in Hebrews 11 could be expanded to today. He talked about Abraham, Moses, and Joseph. But we could add many names. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, by faith he started the Salvation Army. We could add Tim Tebow, quarterback, during a football game Tim Tebow put John 3:16 on the marks under his eyes. And it was discovered later that when the audience noticed that millions of people googled John 3:16 to read “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

The list goes on, George Washington our first president, Christian. John Adams, a crucial figure to help found our nation, dedicated Christian. Abraham Lincoln, Christian. Galileo, Newton, Collins. C.S. Lewis the author of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, J.R.R Tolkien author of the Lord of the Rings. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft has recently begun attending a church. Get this, even bad boy Justin Bieber recently got involved in a church.

Faith is real children. I want you to remember that. God is real. And we need people like you to run the race today, and tomorrow, and everyday. Because the truth is, much of our country is falling away from God, and it’s harming our society. We need young people like you to stand up and say, “We need God in America.” We need young people to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ and carrying his gospel to the lost in our world. As you enjoy your activities today, be thinking about how you can be a light to the world. It’s hard. It ain’t easy. But you can do it. Just like when we run a race, or play a sports game, we get tired at times, we struggle at times, but we keep trying, because we want to win, we want to finish the race. Let's live for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, not for ourselves, but for God. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chivalry isn't Dead, the Gospel is still True

Painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence

There is something wonderful about the human spirit driven to valor.  A greater light takes over in moments of crisis when the heart is driven past self preservation, into an unexpected urge to honor.  Something overcomes selfishness.  In that moment something greater overcomes the dark self obsessed heart, and a valor fills the soul.  This valor, this better angel of our souls drives men and women to do great things for those in need.

They say chivalry is dead.  They're lying.  Only in their own dead hearts is chivalry truly dead.  And everything else with it, aside from the debased desire for sexual and physical satisfaction.  That is what drives so much of our society.  They want what they want.  And they can't allow the idea of valor.  They erase it from history.  They expunge it from the present.  They censor it from the future.  Yet valor endures.  Chivalry endures.  

They say honor is an illusion, a lie concocted by the brain of man to invent meaning for his existence.  They are wrong.  With their own debauched minds they twist and contort reality to create a material-limited universe to grant themselves permission to be critical theory creeps, critics of everything, while living secret lives of immorality and debauchery.  Entire disciplines rest on such false realities, invented by the minds of men to escape the inevitability of the God who calls us humanity to account for their actions.  The mind recoils at such accountability.  

Honor still lives.  Chivalry still endures.  Though not on the bright lights of the television screens.  It isn't allowed to break through the screens of lies in academia, in politics, in television or in hollywood.  But it rules in the hearts and minds of a great many americans who look in confusion at the television false narrative wondering just what manner of madness prevails on such straights.  What fools they are!  They demand a world without borders, without accountability, without morality so they may do as they please.  But no such world exists, and they will be called to account.  And what a terrible day that will be for them.

And what wonderful day it will be for us.  We will finally, finally be free of the daily scorn.  We'll finally be free of the constant television narrative, mocking our values, mocking our faith, and making war on what remains of our Christian American nation.  It is a dark day to live in, but God remains entirely sovereign.  Such things must take place.  And we are just as duty bound to resist and fight to our last breath, to stand for Christ, to share the gospel, and to be light to our political system.  

Don't believe their lies, don't ever compromise your theology.  Believe the Bible.  Resist their values.  Resist their lies.  And stand firm in prayer.  Keep praying.  Keep speaking up.  Keep sharing the gospel.  Because it matters.  And your values aren't gone, your principles and morality aren't gone.  Christianity isn't gone.  It's just that temporarily, they've stolen the megaphones, the progressives have, and they use them to mock us and attack us with every breath they have.  Why? Because they hate America, they hate Christianity, and they want to show the world that they can steal America, remake it in their own image, and leave the dust of the Christians behind as evidence of their superiority.  But they are wrong.  And their "better world" is predicated on manipulation, brainwashing, and authoritarian enforced "equality."  

Their worldview is a lie.  And Jesus Christ is alive.  He is coming again.  He will reign on Earth.  We will be His children forever.  God be praised, for he gives us the victory.  Amen. 

9/11 Memorial Cross, via Wikimedia
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  2. An Essay on the Fall of Man in Today's America
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  5. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  6. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  7. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Struggle of America: Authoritarian Secular Socialism vs. Christian Free Society

The Withdrawal from Dunkirk, 1940 by Charles Cundall

We are the last hope of western civilization.  And for America.  We are the light of the world.  Don't hide your light, but let it shine.  Shine brightly because we are the people of the promise.  We are the chosen of God in the world.  Jesus lives in us.  We have the power to shape the world. There is great danger lurking in the darkness, along the quiet streets, and in the noise of the great cities. Wicked forces hatch their schemes, darkness prevails.  Yet there is great light, lingering among the people triumphing in their hearts, standing firmly against the dark.  The great struggle continues.  We are the carriers of the sacred fire.  We are the people of the light.

"Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins." -Isaiah 58:1

Across the eastern world, across Africa and the middle east Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds.  More than half of Africa is believing in Jesus today.  The underground church in China is the fastest growing in the world.  South Korea is a haven of Christianity, while North Korea is a dark orwellian nightmare society.  Russia has enacted anti-evangelizing laws, but the church there is now going under ground, continuing to grow.  The gospel is moving steadily through India.  Christ is moving through the Muslim world through dreams and visions.  It's true.  

"All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." -2 Timothy 3:12

There are those who fight that battle everyday.  Many are indigenous missionaries, some are foreign missionaries.  It's an exciting prospect.  But my concern, my calling is upon the home front.  My calling is focused on western civilization, on America and Europe.  Because western man, brainwashed, and a bit drunk on modernity, and the technologies and the sciences, moved in arrogance away from God.  Such is leading to chaos.  Ironic that the 3rd world is turning to Christianity in such a massive way, while at the same time the 1st world is arrogantly embracing a lifeless secularism.

The world is divided along different lines, in conflict between the United States, Israel, and a few allies in Europe facing down China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and other middle eastern nations.  World wars are common in our day and age.  We've had two already.  Wars are common, though some on the left seem to think humanity has moved past such problems. Remember when President Obama rebuked Putin for invading the Ukraine?  He said this is the 21st century, this doesn't happen anymore.  But it was happening, right in front of him.  Leftist academic types, favor big government and total control because they believe they know best and that humanity is just so good, there is no need for checks and balances any longer.  If everyone would just shut up, they'd fix everything with the government.  Of course, the facts don't match that analysis.  It's a naive worldview that fails to take into account the facts.  They think humanity has "evolved" to be so great today.  It's not true.  Human nature hasn't changed.  

The world has relied on America, the good guys, to be around the corner in battles like World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.  The world needs good guys, to protect Israel, to protect 3rd world nations, and to stand against evil regimes.  

America today is in danger.  America is facing an inward socialist insurgency. That's not a conspiracy theory, just a fact of life.  They announce it openly.  They use alinsky tactics to push it forward.  They gathered around socialists like Bernie Sanders; but the goals are the same throughout the whole leftist movement.  They seek domination, to transform America into their idea of a government controlled utopia.  

I want there to always be an America around the corner to sweep in for the rescue.  If America falls into chaos and disrepair, then the world will quickly be at the whim of China and Russia.  These are corrupt regimes, set on self interest and total control of their populations.  If America fades from strength and international influence, when these corrupt regimes invade countries, quietly taking control of places like the Philippines and Australia, there will be no overpowering force to set things right. 

Somehow narcissists and cynics have managed to take control of the United States.  They say stupid things like America is no different than the rest of the world.  They fail to realize that freedom is rare in Europe.  They fail to realize the good of America.  They say America is solely to blame for slavery, though dozens of other countries had it before us and after us.  They ignore the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Americans who set the slaves free during the civil war.  These cynics are never satisfied, never happy with things.  They seek to change things.  They seek to enforce equality by taking away freedoms, like freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of choice.  They seek to silence and force Christianity from the public square.  They seek to force pastors to do what they say, or else.  They are corrupt and power hungry, but they control the media, so they are good at appearing righteous as they steal our freedoms and make war on religious freedom.  

The gospel of Jesus Christ made America great.  It wasn't us.  It was God.  He still loves us, the remnant in America.  But he wants us to take a stand and fight.  The gospel has cost many a great deal.  Think of the thousands upon thousands of martyrs that lost their lives for the gospel.  We are called to the same.  But we've gotten lazy in the United States.  We've allowed our enemies to take over.  So now is the time to stand.  Otherwise we deserve the fate we receive.  

Listen to me, very carefully, because this is certainly a fair projection: The ones who tweet to #DisarmHate, and rally to murder cops, and beat up people at anti-Trump rallies, are the kind of people, who in time wouldn't blink at the prospect of jailing or killing "hateful" Christians who refuse their equality orthodoxy.  First disarm hate, then kill hate?  It seems that way.  That's a controversial opinion to some, but to people who understand human nature, it's self evident.  These people are stupid, useful idiots, violent authoritarian types, increasingly outraged, and dissatisfied.  Thankfully there seems to be a growing counter-culture rejecting the ideological worldview of these equality nazis.

The forces arrayed against us are many.  Perhaps the greatest difficulty is those who pose to be us, but are not us.  Think of Westboro Baptist Church and their horrible witness. Think of the endless stream of false teachers on cable television turning off millions to the true living gospel.  Think of the RINOs and Neo-cons in the Republican party, in GOP leadership constantly surrendering to the socialist left, enabling the socialist left, and apologizing to the leftist media complex.  Think of the traitorous self-serving leadership of the GOP who attack conservatives more than democrats.  Think of how the leadership of the GOP constantly hike up spending, throwing away the future of our nation.  Think of the corruption, the insider trading, and the crony-capitalism.  It's reviling. 

The leftists, well, they are terrible.  But the immediate problem is the enablers in our own ranks that shoot us in the back as we try to storm the battlements of our ideological enemies.  They are the real trouble.  

Perhaps our ancestors, the greatest generation, that fought World War II offered up a greater sacrifice than we could ever know.  Perhaps on the world stage, before the throne of God, they offered up themselves to save the free world from the horror of the Nazi Socialist party.  Yet with so many of them dead, who was left in the United States?  Perhaps, too much evil was left over and not enough good remained.  And perhaps our academic institutions, Columbia University, and others were too open to the "new ideas" of the Frankfurt School fleeing the Nazis.  Perhaps they should've been less accommodating to the bizarre ideas of these communists.  It's wonderful to be open, but when one apprehends truth, the whole idea is to close the mind around it, and reject that which is inherently destructive.  The greatest generation is an example to us of true heroism, of doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.  So, there is great reason for hope.  

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" -Psalm 27:1

This is a war, a spiritual war.  The kingdom of Satan has taken many hits across the centuries.  The kingdom of God is moving out in all directions.  We are on the frontlines today.  We must continue the struggle against our enemy, the evil spiritual enemy of God.  

"The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." -2 Corinthians 10:4

Jesus Christ is alive.  He resurrected from the dead to give us victory over our true enemy, the king of this world, the evil one who presides over all evil.  Satan is our enemy.  Satan presides over the human trafficking industry, he presides over genocides, he presides over the millions of abortions every year, and he presides over atheistic socialist regimes that have nearly toppled western society time and again. We have to take them on.  We have to fight. And we can.  

I see the beginnings of hope forming today.  I see a movement of Christians rising up to stand for hope in America.  I see a movement of conservatives set on restoring the Constitution.  I see a generation of young people who realize they've been lied to and betrayed by the socialist left, who will become the front line warriors of a new great awakening.  

This movement will not be televised, unless to be attacked by the fascist media complex.  This movement will exist within churches, within political action groups, within student groups, and within the hearts and minds of everyday Americans.  It is my hope that this fire of freedom and faith will spread into Europe through the interwebs to inflame the hearts of Europeans and Russians with the flames of liberty and the unmatched zeal of Christ.  God willing, the truth will spread like wildfire, like brushfires in the hearts of men, to stand against this big government atheistic socialist agenda across Europe and the Americas; to stand for freedom, liberty, limited government, free markets, and most importantly of all: the living gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.  We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim?

I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.” -Winston Churchill, 1st speech as Prime Minister, May 13th 1940, to the House of Commons.

"Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in this evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." -Ephesians 6:13 
George Washington crossing the Delaware
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  5. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

25 Pictures to Share on Social Media

I love sharing the truth on social media.  It's fun.  I relish it.  You should too.  You should share everyday, become a mobile one man ministry.  Or one woman ministry.  Be a powerhouse Christian soldier.  That's what we need today.  Take a stand.  

Young people interact on the internet.  Young people are the future.  So target young people by blasting out the truth on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all over the place.  Use these pictures.  I don't own any of them, but I share them freely.  Thanks and God bless you.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

10 Fascinating Prager U Animated Video Shorts

Source: PragerU
Have you ever heard of Prager University?  They make animated video shorts and post them on Youtube. View their channel here.  They are also available on the PragerU website.  I've learned a lot watching these videos.  They are fun, entertaining and informative.  These are ten of my favorites.  Enjoy!

1. What is Crony Capitalism?

2. Does Science Argue for or against God?

3. The Most Important Question about Abortion

4. Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?

5. The Least Free Place in America

6. Game of Loans

7. Government: Is it Ever Big Enough?

8. Religious Tolerance: Made in America

9. The War on Boys

10. The World's Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Junkie Shares about Addiction, Jesus, and the Salvation Army

There is philosophy, the realm of ideas and then there is life in the real world.  Probably the hardest part of Christianity, the gospel and the Bible is translating those teachings into the real world.  

A few short years ago a young man, me, went from all out junkie, serious, near death junkie, to all out sold out for Jesus Christ.  In that moment of justification, in that moment of the shattering of the chains of addiction Jesus Christ did all the translating.

A realm of ideas that I knew very little about, a realm of spirituality, of religion and theology went from theoretical ideas, from foggy conjecture and pithy remarks, to reality.  There were tangible consequences to the reality of Jesus.  It became real to me by the reaction of Christ to a call for help, from me, in 2012.  On a literal date, there was a response.  Not in words, but in a transformation in my life.  

It's been approximately three years and eight months since I was loaded up to my eyeballs.  The realm of being on drugs, being messed up almost constantly had continued form age 16 when my parents divorced and I was expelled from school shortly after, until age 27.  It had been constant.  There had been jail, probation, chaotic moments, hospitalizations, detoxes, and rehabs.  Suddenly in 2012 all of that changed.  

This is my testimony.  It's real.  It's factual.  And it demonstrates a fundamental shifting of my life, from one road to another.  There had been numerous attempts to try for a better direction, sincere attempts, but they had failed.  I don't mean token attempts, but real battles to attempt to get clear of addiction.  Every time I would slide back in.  

After that moment, everything in my life changed.   I began attending a church community, a medium sized church being run out of a high school auditorium.  That would've never happened before, I couldn't want to go to church.  I couldn't care enough to go to church.  It just didn't matter to me.  It never could.  It was as far as New York to Tokyo.  There was nothing there for me, my mindset had been in direct opposition to even the suggestion! 

I began reading the Bible everyday. I found myself hungry for it.  Again, I didn't read books really.  Not unless it was something trendy, to seem cool to my liberal friends.  I didn't read anything but Hunter Thompson and Henry Miller back then.  Nasty junk, really.  The Bible seemed to jump off the page.  I'd read it before, but it had never impacted me in that way in the past.

I began attending recovery groups.  I began dealing with my underlying issues.  I began reading tons of books.  I read C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, A.W. Tozer, Ravi Zacharias, John R.W. Stott, and anything to do with Christian counseling concepts of healing from past struggles.

I put down the benzos and left em behind.  I flushed the clonapin and lorazepam.  I ended my love affair with amphetamines and ambien, all from the doctor of course.  I left behind the weed.  And no more alcohol, wow, alcohol had been everyday.  And the biggest drug, the true killer of Justin Steckbauer, yes, I finally finally put down the dextromethorphan hydro-bromide.  I set aside the awful love affair with the tripper drug, the triple C.  Finally a real nightmare had ended.  These things had seemed so appealing at one point.  By 2012 I had come to HATE every one of those drugs and the awful control they had over me.  I despised the endless highs and lows.  I hated it and I hated myself for what I'd become.  

Hope had been left behind two years prior.  Jesus changed it all.  Who can truly explain why?  It's hard to explain.  The best way I can put it is that there were suddenly powers within me, powers to resist, powers to stand firm, powers to want something better.  Let me say that again, powers to want something better.  Because the biggest obstacle for a true addict is wanting to want sobriety.  It's always a struggle between half of you wanting to quit and the other half very firmly wanting to stay loaded.  Deadlock.  Jesus gave me new desires.  He fired up a revolution in my soul.

Six months later I was baptized before a group of my peers, in water, and I stood before them and told my story.  It was my first sermon, I suppose.  My first message of hope.  

Almost instantly I knew I was called to full time ministry.  I was called to give my whole life to serving God.  It's hard to explain.  You just know.  Plus the trail behind me had been such a perplexing question: What do you want to be when you grow up?  If you recall Ferris Bueller's day off, Sloan and Cameron are talking and Sloan asks him,"What do you want to be?"  He replies, "I don't know."  And she asks, "Well what are you interested in?" And he turns and looks at her and smiles and says,"Nothing."  Same thing with me.  Nothing, yet, everything.  I loved to write.  I loved to read poetry at open mics.  I loved to learn.  And I loved philosophy.  Sure enough, theology was in my future.  

Now at this moment I was riding high on a wave of hope and revolution in my life.  But there is this verse in the Bible, a mysterious verse that challenges all would-be Christians.  It says: "count the cost."  (Luke 14:25-34).  Despite all the modern theos of the free gift, and the love of God, and yes those things are true, but there is also another side to the saga.  There is the side of suffering, of trials, and of painstaking troubles inherent in the Christian life.  

I don't know if I counted the cost.  Though I think I did.  I offered my life to God without reservation.  I don't think I fully understood what the road ahead would be like though.

I became part of a church plant, and I began serving on several ministries at my church.  I kept getting more involved.  It was good, very good.  I was sick and tired a great deal, but I was getting stronger everyday.  I worked the 12 steps and experienced the fullness of a spiritual awakening.  And a real one.  I gathered up my 40 or so credits from the university of Wisconsin that I had left behind and applied to attend Liberty University, the largest Christian college in the world.  Shockingly, I was accepted.  God thing. 

The church plant fell apart sadly, poor leadership, and just at that time I was looking for work.  I hadn't worked in years and it was about time I stop mooching off family.  So I applied at a Salvation Army transitional living center.  In fact my dad had worked at a nearby building for more than twenty-five years.  

The thirteen months I worked at the homeless shelter would be the hardest time of my life.  I attended college full time, and at the same time worked full time hours at the shelter, then had a mental breakdown and cut back to part time hours.  The struggles I went through at the shelter were immense.  The battles were constant.  It seemed like I was constantly struggling with emotions, depression anxiety, sleep problems, anger, and inner turmoil.

But I was on fire for the Lord!  Wow!  I was on fire.  I told everyone I could about Jesus.  I handed out Bibles.  I prayed.  And I held recovery groups.  I talked constantly with homeless folks about Jesus and recovery.  Nobody was really listening much, but I was still telling them!  That year was filled with prayer, and dark prayer, prayers that were filled with angst and tears.  

I worked rotating shifts, weekends and holidays, and the hours I was assigned included Sundays.  So I wasn't able to attend my baptist church anymore.  But the officers there and the social services director said that I could attend the Salvation Army services at the corps on Sundays.  The shelter closed during those hours anyway.  So I started doing that.  

Now, I had in mind something much easier than what God was putting before me.  I hadn't begun working at Salvation Army with the idea of getting involved with the army.  In fact I still didn't even know the Salvation Army was a church until I applied for the job and began reading about them online. Even then, no interest.  I wanted to be a Christian apologist or an itinerant evangelist.  It was just a job or so I thought.

Somehow I ended up getting involved in the Salvation Army.  I can't really explain it actually.  I started attending Salvation Army conferences.  I started learning Salvation Army theology.  I started reading about the Salvation Army.  And pretty soon I was shocked to find myself at Salvation Army conferences, and they held a "call to officership" and I was amazed, finding myself jumping up out of my seat and moving toward officership.  I don't know what I was thinking.  It must've been temporary insanity.  Or cult-like brainwashing.  Who knows!  But three different times God gave me a shove out of my seat, to the officership corner of the room.  And I hobbled over there in a frodo-like daze to pray with a DYS or a cadet or an officer, or whoever.  So as I affectionately refer to it, I was kidnapped by the Salvation Army, aided and abetted by God almighty.  

That fall, after leaving the homeless shelter (thank goodness) and I loved the people, but man was it stressful. Probably over 30 different times I had to call an ambulance, the police department, and even the fire department (twice).  Yes, that crazy.  But then things really got out of control, because I found myself moving from home in central Wisconsin to a quaint little sea-side village in upper Michigan.  You really can't make this stuff up.  Upper Michigan?  Does God have a sense of humor?  Yes he does.  

So I must've been in a trance, obviously, residuals from previous drug addiction, and I woke up upper Michigan working as an intern for the Salvation Army.  "Explain that pinhead!" -Bill O'reilly.  Junkie goes in, intern comes out, can't explain that.   And that's where I'm writing this from right now.  From upper Michigan.  It's really gotten crazy.  This has been the toughest few years of my life, though nothing is tougher than to live addicted without hope.  

I committed my life to Jesus Christ, because he swept into my disaster and rescued me from the rising waters.  He saved me, brushed me off, cleaned me up, set me right, set me free, and set me upon the mission I had always been meant to champion.  My whole life I had been looking for the righteous cause to champion, and finally, finally, finally I had found it.  But more so it, and it being He, found me.  Today it's hard man, it's really hard.  I'm single, I don't have many friends, I work long hours, I have to deal with snotty coworkers and difficult situations.  And I have to fight my own inner demons, my own depression, my own bitterness and brokenness and my own tendency toward selfishness and self pity.  But the war is winnable now.  

Count the cost.  Jesus Christ calls us to do something bigger and greater than we can possibly imagine.  It seems impossible, and it is impossible.  Why does God do it that way? Because if it was doable in our own power we might be tempted to think it was all about us.  When it's officership in the Salvation Army, it's too much, too much for Justin alone.  But in Christ anything is possible.  It's gritty and awful, and crying and weeping and living and loving and victory after victory and chaos and order and all manner of new, scary situations, social anxiety, panic attacks, preaching Spirit filled sermons, working long and hard, and feeling darn good about it, standing firm, studying hard, and finding in myself new spiritual muscles, new maturity, and new abilities that I never had before.  Christ is building me into a superhero for his cause.  And a beautiful cause it is, the cause of the gospel, for which Christ died for me to set me free, not from addiction, but from sin. Behind addiction is selfishness, behind selfishness, sin, evil, and darkness.  Christ set me free from all of it.  And more, he called me to serve him with my whole life.  So I'm doing it.  It's insanely tough, but equally amazing, rewarding and wonderful.  What is He calling you to do? 

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  7. Big Picture: The Solution to all the Problems of Earth
  8. What is the meaning of Life?
  9. You Oh Lord are my Strength: The Manifold Provision of God
  10. Daybreak: Examining the Problem of Pain