Thursday, August 25, 2011


What are words? Are they symbols or spoken sounds? They have the power to both communicate and evoke immense emotion. When we are in pain we desire nothing more than words of encouragement. We give our word to others as though it is creditable enough to trust. We can have words with others out of anger. Three little words have enough force to communicate great affection and attachment. Words have the power to build up or rip apart, yet we use them flippantly, frivolously, throwing them around like spare change. 
So often words can bombard us, completely changing our disposition. Painful words can impair our view of reality. They give us tunnel vision, only revealing the inadequate and unacceptable parts of who we are. All too often we are unwilling to evaluate if the words that hurt us so deeply have merit, but instead, we accept the pain and strive to please others in order to receive encouraging words that can dull the ache of past scars.
But where do words receive their power from? Do they come from us? Is the power of words found in their assigned meaning, or in what we personally associate with them? All of us have been hurt by words, and many of us choose to believe these things that others tell us about ourselves. Who should we believe? Should we believe our fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, friends, co-workers, elders,and peers? Sometimes, yes. But I challenge you to think about the most damaging words you have received. I would bet that you were not only quick to believe them, but that they came from someone you trusted.
The problem for many of us is that we have allowed ourselves to believe these words even though they are contrary to the Word of God. Have you been told that you are weak and usless? Well, Christ says that His power rests on you (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Have you been told that you are not worthy of love? Well, Christ tells us that He loved us enough to die for us (Romans 5:8). Have you been told that you are not beautiful enough? Well, Christ says he knit you together and that everything he has made, including you, is good (Psalm 139:13, Genesis 1:31). Have you been told that all you do is cause others pain? Well, Christ himself, the Creator of the universe delights in YOU(Zephaniah 3:17).
This reflection moves us to two points of application. Firstly, choose to define yourself by God’s Word, not others’ or your own. Secondly, be dedicated to being intentional with your words. Recognize the impact that God has allowed you to have over others. We have been blessed with the ability to directly communicate value and worth into one another’s lives. Pray for discernment with your words, be intentional to uplift, and in the case that you say something hurtful, be quick to apologize and remind them of how Christ sees them: as a child of His who is dearly loved. God’s Word says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

This is something that I challenge myself to work on this semester. May we remember the power of our words. Let us view each individual word as a mighty tool to impact Christ’s kingdom.

Monday, May 30, 2011


In the spring of 1945, Billy Graham and Charles Templeton worked alongside one another in a Youth for Christ tour throughout North America. Graham and Templeton shared the gospel to thousands effectively and genuinely.  Graham and Templeton developed a strong friendship based on their common passion for the Christian faith.  When their Youth for Christ rallies received International attention, they decided to broaden their mission and began a five week tour in Europe. It was at this tour that many predicted Templeton to be the best, most influential preacher of his generation.  In the months that followed their European tour, Templeton began a long and life changing season of doubt.  He states that logic and reason began to slowly erode away his seemingly strong faith.  He lost his confidence in the inerrancy of scripture, the sovereignty of God, and the existence of the Trinity.  Templeton continued working in the Christian ministry until 1957 when he declared publically that he was agnostic. In 1996, Templeton published his autobiography, “Farwell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.”
As seen through the life of Charles Templeton, apostasy is a real danger.  Even Charles Templeton, a man predicted to be the most influential preacher of his generation, was not exempt from falling into doubts that lead to apostasy. Perhaps one of the most saddening truths about Charles Templeton’s loss of faith was his own sense of loss.  In his interview for Lee Strobel’s book, “A Case for Faith,” Charles Templeton stated, “There is a profound sense of loss when anyone abandons a belief system they’ve held since childhood. I was a teenager when I became a Christian, and I was ill equipped to challenge the ideas of my friends and mentors. At first, I accepted the beliefs of the people around me, but slowly, and against my will, my doubts deepened until my faith languished and died. These years of indecision were the most troubling and trying of my life. I found myself re-thinking the story of Jesus of Nazareth and for all its intrinsic fascination, it just wasn’t the same. It was as if someone I loved had died.” 
So how can we strengthen our faith and avoid apostacy? We need to know the God we serve and be able to defend Him to the world. Maintaining a relationship with the Lord remains the top priority. If we truly know God, we know he exists. We need to challenge one another to think deeply about our faith. Our youth groups need to challenge our adolescents to think about the significance of a Christ centered reality instead of living a "christian life" based on an emotional high or the christian "experience". Without critically thinking about what our faith means, our faith cannot be genuinely our own.  Though doubting can be dangerous, it is not shameful, but instead, it is a way for us to actively question the truths of Christ. Without questioning biblical truth, can we whole heartedly believe? The danger of doubt comes when you deal with it secretly, like Charles Templeton did. We should not give the devil a foothold in our life through isolation from our Christian community. We cannot give into secrecy because of our own sense of shame. When experiencing doubt, it is important to include the family of God. We need the accountability and support of our fellow believers through these dry seasons.  Our community should seek to find truth together. My point is: we all doubt, but when we doubt we need to actively seek God with the help of those around us. Their prayers carry us through.  We need to be able to defend our faith with confidence. Though knowing doctrine and theology is helpful, it is not enough to save our faith; we need to believe it.  Even Templeton, a devote unbeliever, claims, “No one in history has touched the hearts of men and women the way Jesus did. He had the highest moral standard, and the greatest compassion of any person I’ve ever heard of. And his wisdom was unsurpassed.  Everything good and decent and pure that I know, I learned from Jesus, and if I may put it this way, I miss him.”
          Lets learn from Templeton. Instead of concealing doubt, lets seek answers from God's Word, Christian peers, pastors, and mentors. Lets let our doubts lead to answers that strengthen the confidence we have in our faith.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There were five of us. Five of us, with eight left over sandwiches from the campus restaurant to feed the homeless in the streets of Chicago. Conflicting feelings of nerves and excitement filled us. Like the prayer for the two small fish and five loaves, we prayed, "Lord, multiply our efforts." We earnestly prayed for direction as well as a sense of urgency for the Gospel message.

We broke up in teams and went our separate ways. As other team headed toward the brownline, my team asked me, "where should we go?" I thought about all the alleys and bridges crowded with the homeless, but Michigan Avenue was placed on my heart. "But Lord, that really doesn't make sense," I thought. Michigan Avenue is the wealthiest part of Chicago, but regardless, we listened and blindly walked in that direction, unaware of what to expect. We walked about a half of a mile without seeing one homeless person. We kept walking. A mile, with still no sign. At mile and a half I was concerned. I had never walked in the streets of Chicago with out seeing anyone homeless. Just as we were looking for a place to cross the street to turn around, about to give up our efforts, I spotted a homeless man: John.

We approached him and offered him a meal. He gladly accepted and hastily took a bite of his cheeseburger. We simply told him that we wanted to give him some help and a taste of the hope we have received. Then we asked if we could pray with him. His eyes fell, he raised his withered hands to hide his tears. In between his broken sobs he whispered, "I was about to give up...I was about to give up." The three of us Moody students fell to our knees, burdened for his brokenness. We took this time to go to the Lord and lift him in prayer, calling on our Savior for deliverance.

After our prayer we shared the Gospel, telling John of God's heart for the poor and needy. We emphasized that we all fall short and fail, and without the Lord, we are ALL broken. Only the redemptive blood of Jesus is enough to save us from our sin. John's sobs grew louder as we asked him if he wanted to invite Jesus into his life. He nodded his head and we silently waited for John to ask the Lord into his life in his own words.

About 40 seconds past and with his sobs now under control, he fervently prayed, "Jesus. I need you. Save me. I cant live without you. Make me a good person. I believe in your Son, and I know you love me and that Jesus died for me. Come into my life. Come into my life." His raw, emotional, genuine prayer sent a heaviness in my soul as I realized the eternal impact of his words. When I looked up from praying, I saw a new brother in Christ, redeemed in the blood of Jesus. We encouraged him in his decision and told him the power of prayer. We asked him for his email, and asked him where we he spends his days so we could reconnect with him. We also connected him with a church and a homeless ministry.We looked at the time and realized that it was now 12:10 am. We left in awe of what we had just witnessed. The Holy Spirit was at work.

We prayed as we walked back to campus, both aloud and in our hearts. When I got back to my room, I really spent some time to reflect on John's conversion. As I looked back, in hindsight I saw the Lord's hand working in my night from beginning to end. The Lord gave us a small team to make us weak and to rely on Him. He heard our fervent prayers of blessing. He placed Michigan Avenue on our hearts, and he lead us John. He gave us a divine appointment. As we were about to give up, God brought John to us, and as John was about to give up, He brought us to John.

so let us think....

I have learned that when we allow the Lord to direct our path, there is nothing coincidental; everything is a God-incidence. On Friday night, Christ showed me this reality in my own life.

When God puts people in your path, it is not a coincidence! Share the Gospel message often, pray for divine appointments with people who are ready to accept the Lord, plants seeds in peoples life, and live your life as an example of God's saving grace.

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:15 b

It was not a coincidence that I met John, but it was a God-incidence.

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? ...So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:14-17

As camp came to a close, I realized I had come out of the summer with more than a modest check, instead, I had left with a new appreciation and passion for the Lord's work. A passage that the Lord had really placed on my heart was 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has taught me a lot about respecting those in authority as well as those who work with me. My prayer is that I would place this into practice at Moody. Summer has come to a end, my the lessons I have learned are coming with me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So, I am at camp, and from the moment I stepped on this camp campus, I realized that when I applied here, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I am working everyday from 7am-10pm with one afternoon off. This is not what I expected, but this is what I needed. Everyday I am encouraged and expected to selflessly serve others and to focus on the advancing of His kingdom. I have been consumed in this whirlwind of serving every hour of everyday and preparing for further service this year. With only a half hour of time before bed every night, I have been trying to fit in my devotions before lights out, but already, I am feeling drained and needing to be refreshed by my Savior.

Last night, my storm caught up with me. I was woken up in the middle of the night and moved to the first floor of my building because of a tornado warning. There, our leadership told us to fill the bathrooms because it was the safest part of the building. While waiting out this storm in the middle of the night missing much needed sleep, I found the renewal I needed. There on the floor of the boys bathroom, we sang hymns to Our Lord and Praised Him for what He is doing in us. The boys bathroom became my Sanctuary: the place I reconnected with my Savior. (gross, but beautiful).

Here I am learning how to serve selflessly, constantly focus on my Savior, and find time with my Lord at every chance.

Just an update.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

And the Journey Begins....

Finally, mostly because of the pressure from friends and family, I have made this blog. This way, all of you can know what is going on in my life, both in thought and action. I have carefully considered how I should start my first post. I've reflected on some reoccurring themes of my life: contentment, purity, forgiveness, love etc. Although I realize that any of these universal themes would be more than adequate for this simple blog, I have chosen a topic that I have been on an unwavering quest to cultivate.

Early on in my Christian faith, I began my earnest search for wisdom. Throughout the years, God has taught me many lessons and given me passages from His Word to encourage me in this quest.
As my school year at Moody Bible Institute has come to a close, I enter my summer break with 30 units worth of knowledge. Though I will be out of the classroom this summer and working at Gull Lake Christian Camps, my goal is to practically use what I have been blessed to learn throughout this year and to grow in wisdom through practical ministry experience.

In a way, this blog is the means to keep track of my progress; a place to record the lessons I learn. My hope is that my life and this blog would pour out heavenly wisdom on all I encounter.

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

My prayer is that this blog will genuinely show where I am in life, provide encouragement, be bold in truth, and centered in peace-loving sincerity.

God Bless.