Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rangers, Vader, and Prayer

A few days ago, I was talking to a nonChristian buddy of mine about my housing predicament.

Basically, I'm couch hopping until my future roommate's roommate moves out and I can be my future roommate's current roommate. Did that make sense?

Anyways! As you could imagine, it can be stressful. If you've ever been in a situation where you don't have a home and are living transiently, you know that strain it can put on your nerves and your patience. 
Fortunately for me, God has blessed me with awesome friends who have let me stay in their homes for weeks at a time. Definitely beats living in a '94 Jeep Cherokee Sport in the parking garage of Paradise Valley Mall.

So I was talking to my buddy about the situation.
I was tired and spread thin trying to juggle the stresses of life and be a good Youth Director all at the same time, and it's only by the grace and providence of God that I can manage all the craziness at once. And to think: I don't even have a wife or kids yet.
He nodded and listened.
I took a drink of my coffee. I really dig the new Ethiopia roast.
He took a bite of his muffin, and with crumbs on his lips and masticated muffin in his maw he asked,

"Why don't you pray about it?"

I stopped and looked at him. My brain tried processing what he had just said. My brain felt like I had just typed the word "the" in to the Google search bar.
You don't even believe in prayer!
Ain't I supposed to be ministering to you?
Why don't I pray about it?
How do you know I haven't been praying about it?
Hey! You don't tell me what to do!
but what I really said was,

"Huh?"

"Ya. You say that God cares about all that kind of stuff, so why not pray about it? Faith is your job, right?"

Well played... Well played.
I nodded my head.

He was right. 

As a follower of Christ, I have unlimited access to the creator of the universe, the ex-temporal master of all things tangible and not, the one who breathed in to Adam and gave him a free will and a soul, the Lord of all who sees all, knows all, loves all, and created all. The God who split the Red Sea and holds super novas on the tip of His finger. The Creator of water and gravity and the sender of summoned fire, the savior of the Israelites, the crusher of armies, and builder of civilizations who walked among us in flesh and was killed and then was resurrected who purified me from sin and adopted me to be an heir of heaven.

Ya. That's the same God we ask to bless our hotdogs and help us not get caught when we cheat on tests.

Don't get me wrong. God cares about our desires and our hearts. More than God cares about our actions, God cares about our hearts. He wants to know our concerns and passions. He cares about our fears and stresses, He wants to know your thoughts and opinions. 

God is not the disconnected, distant deity that observes from afar and shakes His head at our ignorance.

God is love. He's intimate. Over and over we are reminded that above all creation, we are His love. He created heaven for us; a place of eternal communion with God. Heaven is a place that we can always dwell and walk with our creator like He always wanted. He is not far away hoping we make the right choices and hoping to see us soon. He is always with us, among us, guiding us, working through us and around us. He is always intervening. 

When Jesus was killed, He fulfilled the law of the sacrificial system that had been practiced for hundreds of years. Jesus was the ultimate sin offering, the perfect lamb sacrificed, and just like in the first Passover, the blood of that perfect lamb saved us from death.

I love when Old Testament metaphors work out like that.

Jesus' sacrifice cleansed us from our sin. All the things that we had done, or ever will do were wiped away. All the records had been wiped clean; we were seen as innocent, without sin. Jesus healed the void between us and our creator.
It's all because of Jesus that we have that restored relationship with God.  

And it's not just one way. Communication goes both ways. Not only does God always listen to us, but He can talk to us. It's important that we take time to listen to Him.

Looking back at the conversation I had with my chum, what distressed me the most was the fact that most of my urgency was rooted in my atychiphobia. So badly I didn't want to let down my students or my leaders. I couldn't bear to let down Pastor John or the parents. Most of all, I couldn't live with the fact knowing that I had failed my God. So I tried with all my strength to please God and do all that I could to be the youth director that God commanded me to be. 
But that was the problem.
It was my strength.

It should have been obvious enough that God had done so much to get me where I am today. Or in the words of Rachel Caprine, "Totes obvi'"

If I want so badly to fulfill God's will and be used by God, then I need to in communication with Him.

Imagine, if you will, an Airborne Army Ranger. The elite of the elite. Equipped inside and out for any situation, always ready, always aware, and always dangerous. Any order given, and the Rangers carry out that order with perfect adherence, completing their objective with extreme prejudice.

But without orders, they're just well dressed soldiers getting dusty and tired.

Any experienced military man will tell you that communication on the battlefield is as valuable as bullets.

We're the same way. We are soldiers, fighting the good fight. We have our general orders, but if we want to be effective in the trenches and mud, we have to be in communication with our commanding officer. 

My geeky brain just turned on.

Remember Darth Vader? The corrupted, half-cybernetic, ex-jedi, father of Luke Skywalker (sorry for the spoiler, but if you didn't know that, you need find a bigger rock to live under)?
Darth Vader is the visage of passionate tenacity, always pursuing his objective. Equipped with enhanced cybernetic limbs, a superior knowledge of the force, and lightsaber skills that rival that of Jedi Master Windu, Darth Vader is the ultimate soldier. He can even survive in the vacuum of space for six hours with his own life support system. He single handedly led the assault on the Jedi temple after Order 66 was given.
Some of you are shaking your heads and saying "What is this psycho talking about?" and that is totally valid.

Even as powerful and equipped as he was, Darth Vader took time out of his day to have one on one time with his Master Sidious. He knew the objective and the goals, but keeping in consistent communication with his master kept him focused and on track. Eventually he caught Luke.

In the same way, when we pray, we are focusing our mind on God's heart. We are actively pursuing God's will and making it our will. By praying, we are setting our hearts and minds on God.

Praying is an act of faith in itself. 

When we pray, we are declaring "Yes! My God is real, my God is alive, my God cares, and my God provides. I rely on Him.
When we put our faith in God, He works through us in the same way he used the apostles' faith. Our prayers are the culmination of our faith and reliance on the characteristics of God.

God wants to be relied on. God wants us to trust Him and follow Him. 

God cares about wars and cosmic rotation and macro development, but He also cares about our times when we are so stressed we could punch a barista. He cares about our fears and tough times. He rejoices in triumphs with you and cares about the things you care about because He designed you to love those things.

If we are to build our entire existence around our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to know Him on a deep personal level. Reading His word. Seeking His heart in prayer. Sharing our hearts in prayer. Listening and waiting on God.

If we want to be effective "Rangers" and "Sith lords", then we have to be in communication with our master.

Take some time with your creator and pursue His heart.



Hey I stayed on topic! Mostly...





-- Darth Nate, lord of the youth

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cliches, Contentment, and Crashes

One day, I was sitting in my office. 

Yes, I realize that sounds very impressive until I tell you that my office is the long black table on the right as soon as you walk in to the Starbucks on Decatur and I-215. 

That’s my office.

Anyways! I decided that I should step out of the office for a bit, so I took out my earbuds and got in line for my third refill. In front of me in line were two ladies discussing their troubles:

"I just don't know what to do. He just lets it get worse and worse, and doesn't even do anything about it. We just need to stop going." said one lady. The other lady laid her hand on her friend's shoulder, leaned in and said,

"God will never give you more than you can handle."

At first, I thought "what a good friend. She's pointing her friend to the gospel. Way to go, venti-caramel-frappuccino-light-with-extra-caramel lady!" but the more I thought about it, the more internal conflict I had with this comforting cliche catchphrase of conversing Christians (holy alliteration, Batman!). 

Of course we have all heard this saying, but does it really have any biblical credibility? What does the bible say about this? And why did we start saying it? I searched the bible, but I couldn't find this comforting tidbit of wisdom anywhere.

It's not in the bible. At least not in the ESV, NASB, KJV, or NKJV translations.

The closest I found was 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

but this verse is specifically about temptation. Even this verse gives the implication that the person being tempted is still in need of escape to help endure this temptation, and the provider of that escape is our faithful God.

Hm.

From there, I went on looking at some of the big names of the bible: 

Job's family was murdered by bandits, his entire fortune stolen, afflicted with plates sized boils, and a very unsupportive wife. That's more than anyone could handle.

Yikes. By the way, don't Google boils. Really. Trust me on this one.

John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and was eventually executed. More than he could handle.

Paul was blinded, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a venomous snake; More than he could handle.

This list goes on for pages! Look at the Judges, the Apostles, anyone who followed God with their life, by human standards, were given way more than they could handle. Paul puts it beautifully:

"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." 
(Philippians 4:10-13)
Paul tells us the summary of his life. He knows what it is be poor, to be in abundance, to be starving, to be happy, to be sad, to be beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, poisoned; he found the secret of being content in every situation: Christ. It's Christ. Paul points to Christ in his times of abundance and in the times when he is chained to a wall in prison and beaten daily. It is because Christ has empowered him. It is only through Christ could Paul even dream of enduring. It was not by his own strength or strong will could he endure these trials, but because God gave Him the strength. 

God gave Paul more than he could handle specifically for the purpose of revealing Himself through Paul's life.

Hear me out. 
People would look at Paul's life and say "there is no way that he should be where he is." and that is exactly correct. God empowered him and brought him where he was.

If God never gave us more than we could handle, then we would never really need God. As our creator, he wants us to rely on Him in the same way a parent wants their children to rely on him. 

When I was younger, a pastor named Dave Barreras said something that stuck with me.

"Being within the will of God is not always the safest place to be, but it is the best to be."

Pastor Dave and his wife Yvonne recently moved to Prescott, Arizona to open up a Gospel-centric Rescue Mission for homeless and families in need. Over the past year, they have faced phenomenal opposition financially, architecturally, governmentally, and physically. But they knew that they had been given the mission to serve the homeless and helpless, and they knew that being in the will of God was more important than being comfortable. They knew that alone, the two of them could not muster up the money or the support needed to accomplish this, but it is by God's providence that they have gotten this far. Being their son, I am humbled being able to watch God work miraculously in their lives and witness the creation of the Yavapai Territorial Gospel Rescue Mission.

Following God is hard. And scary. Sometimes it takes you places you're scared to go. It calls you to do things that you are not comfortable doing.
But isn't that the coolest thing? We mere humans have been empowered by God to do incredible, unimaginable things all for His glory.

We follow Christ where He leads.

I love how God leaves us lessons in His creation.

One of my favorite authors, Erwin McManus, said that followers of Christ are like rhinos.
A rhinoceros standing in one place is big and intimidating, but not necessarily dangerous; their vision is terrible, their turning radius is laughable, they're fat, and they're dirty. 
But a herd of rhinos: that's some scary stuff.

Every animal on Earth has a specific name for a group:
A herd of cattle.
A murder of crows.
A smack of jellyfish.
A committee of vultures.

A herd rhinoceros is called a crash.

A charging crash does exactly that. Crash.

When a crash of rhinos get charging in a group, each rhino can only see the rhino in front of it, following wherever it leads knowing that wherever they are going, nothing will stand in their way. Once that fat, grey tank gets rolling, it has enough momentum behind it to run straight through a building. Now imagine the power of fifty.

We are like a crash of rhinos. 

When we drop our head and follow Christ, there is nothing that can stop us. As hard as a brick wall is, when we follow the leader, Christ, we run straight through it.

When Christ is the leader, we know that no matter what we encounter, Christ encountered it first and overcame. 

We are unstoppable. 

We have been empowered by Christ for the purpose of magnifying His eternal qualities.

Paul, Job, dad, you, me, we all have been given the chance to follow Christ on a crazy adventure and overcome unspeakable odds. 




Nate T B









Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Dead Sea, Wookies, and Reconciliation

So the other day I was eating dinner at Pastor John's house like I tend to do at least once a week. When I first moved to Las Vegas from Tucson as an awkward loner, they adopted me as part of their family. It's been such a blessing being so close to my boss and his family.

Anyways!

On his dining table beneath the glass table top is a large world map that has inspired many a snazzy conversation and a plethora of good laughs. As Pastor John's daughter began explaining the geekiness of having a world map as a dining table, like usual, I got distracted. I began looking at the Middle East which was directly between the ketchup and vegetables.

 I could see the Sea of Galilee flowing down the Jordan River in to the Dead Sea.

All through the bible, these three watery entities are important settings for so many stories; Jesus' baptism, Jesus calming the storm, the stopping of the Jordan River for the crossing of the Ark of the Covenant, the recruitment of Jesus' first apostles, and so many more! The Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea are pretty important places throughout the bible. So many lessons were taught by Jesus on the shores of these bodies of water, but one of the lessons was taught to me by a short, round, balding man named Tim Reed.

Tim Reed is a humble professor at Arizona Christian University who has had significant involvement in my life. He was the professor and mentor of my father, the man who wed my parents, my teacher during my short time at ACU, and a consistent friend and source of wisdom. He taught probably my favorite class of time: Biblical Discipleship.

In this class, there would always be some strange object on his desk like a model ship or a potato or maybe a bottle of bleach, and he would use these ridiculous objects to explain deep theological concepts and train us in discipleship. One day, there was no object. Just a drawing on the chalk board.

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are less than 70 miles apart; that's a shorter distance than Tucson to Phoenix. Despite the short distance, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are completely different.

The Northern of the two is the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is known for its beautiful, clear waters, abundant life, and powerful bipolar weather. People have lived in close proximity to this body of water for generations thriving off of its abundant fishing waters and fertile surroundings. 

The Jordan River flows both in and out of the sea which is one of the main causes of its fertility and clear, life sustaining waters. The Sea of Galilee is always flowing out as much as flows in to it. The Jordan River flows in to the Sea of Galilee, bringing in fresh, oxygen rich water, creating currents throughout the sea, and then the sea flows southward in to the southern Jordan.

The southern sea is the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is exactly that: dead. The salt content is so high that nothing can survive but sturdy strains of Mediterranean bacteria. The salt is so concentrated that fish cannot survive in the water for more than a few seconds. The salt is so dense, a full grown man can lay on top of the Dead Sea and not sink. Plants are scarce, fish are dead, and the water is poisonous to stomach.

The Dead Sea, though close to the Sea of Galilee, is the opposite. Both seas are fed by the same river, both are in similar climate and areas, but what is the cause of the vast difference? What could cause one to be radiant and life sustaining while the other is nothing but a reservoir of expensive salt?

The one difference is the Jordan River.

Both seas receive a constant flow of water from the Jordan River, but only the Sea of Galilee pours the water out. The constant flowing of the Sea of Galilee is constantly stirring and creating currents and spreading that oxygenated water throughout as well as continuing to push that flow south down the Jordan.

The Dead Sea is stagnant. All that water that is poured in to it just sits and becomes like the rest of the water around it. Bitter, useless, unusable.

I see a lot of parallels between our spiritual growth and these two seas.

In one hand, we have the Sea of Galilee; full of life, fresh, moving, life sustaining. This isn't just because of the water flowing in but more importantly the water flowing out. In our own lives, we are poured in to. We grow at church, small groups, books, personal quiet times, daily devotions, by being in nature. We have all these resources that are constantly pouring in to us and giving us the resources we need to be growing, active, radiant followers of Christ. But what do we do with it? Do we take in all this information and allow it to only bless us? Do we sit and relish in our secret wisdom of our own minds? What is the point of learning all of this wisdom and information? Why do we learn the importance of serving others? Why do we study the teachings of Christ that say to love your neighbor? What is the Great Commission even good for?

By not using the gifts and resources given to us, we are the Dead Sea. We are stagnant. We are being poured in to without allowing anything to be poured out. We are hoarding the love of Christ and denying anyone else the joy of experiencing the glory of God. Christ’s teachings were meant to be lived out and shared, not stored on the C:drive of our minds.

When we truly understand the heart of God, we see others not as a distraction from our own personal growth, but as the beloved creation of God.

We have been severed from the creator and lover of our souls by the sin that we harbor in our own hearts. The introduction of sin in to our universe split the intended order of things. When before, man could forever physically commune with God and all of his physical needs would literally pop up from the ground, now the presence of sin destroyed everything.

Imagine the heart break of Adam. 

One day, he is walking through the garden with no shame, physically looking at the face of God, hearing His voice, rejoicing in every moment of the perfect world. The next day, his first and closest friend, his creator, his God can’t stand to be around him. And it’s all his fault. I can’t even comprehend being able to look back and remember the face of God and know that everything is going to be different forever.

Some people hate thinking of the depravity of sin. They think that the talk of sin or hell is too negative or not happy enough, but I feel the opposite.

When we really understand the twisted perversion of sin and the venomous ferocity of our sin, we look at God and marvel.

Maybe we feel ashamed.

Maybe we feel dirty.

Maybe we feel unworthy.

Maybe that’s all true.

When we look at our sin, and we look at God, we are humbled. In no way do I think that God should love us.

But He does.

More than we can ever understand. More than you can dream, God perfectly, completely, and eternally loves you. Why? Because that’s who God is. Love is part of His character. It’s who He is all the time, and that’s forever. In the same way that God is eternal, unchanging, omniscient, omnipotent, self-existent, ex-temporal, and perfect, He loves. He always has and always will.

Even through our sin.

When I look at my sin and then look at the grace and love of God, I am completely blown away. By understanding the depravity of sin, I better understand the love of God.

With this deeper understanding, I can’t just sit here and think “Wow, thanks, JC. You’re the man.

NO!

I have to get up and take full advantage of this second chance that I have been given! God has poured His grace out on to me despite my sin! Not only does He love me, but He has removed my sin! Through Christ, we have been restored, reconciled, returned to glory! The relationship that Adam had with God in the garden is the relationship that we have with the Father today! My life is no longer mine! Everything I am, I completely owe to God, and I am going to use everything that Christ has given me to show what Christ has done in my life.

I feel a bit like a Wookie. I know some of you just cocked your head and said “what???”, but hear me out.

Spoiler Alert: if you don’t know me very well, I’m about as big a star wars nerd as it gets. I use a star wars reference in all of these blogs at least once. Sometimes accidentally  If I was any nerdier, I’d be writing fan fiction and building a life size replica of an X-wing. Don’t know what that is? That’s okay.

If you’re not familiar with what a Wookie is, Chewbacca is a Wookie. Everybody knows Chewbacca.

Within the Wookie culture on Kashyyyk, they follow a strict set of social and religious rules. One of these practices is called a “life-debt”. A life-debt is one of the most serious and binding covenants. When a Wookie’s life is saved by someone else, that Wookie can swear loyalty and service to that individual for the rest of their days.

I don’t want to get too geeky. You guys will beat me up and take my milk money.

In the same way, that’s how I feel. Christ saved me from death. Eternal death. Because of my salvation, I want to commit my life to serving Christ for the rest of my life. I owe Christ a life-debt.

Christ has restored me. He has given life to my soul and blessed me with glorious purpose that He designed for me and only me. We have all been given purpose that only we can fulfill.

By God’s great love and grace, we've been given life and made right with God. When the creator of the universe comes in to your heart and changes your soul, there should be dramatic change. Stagnancy should not be an option. The Holy Spirit is constantly stirring and compelling us to grow and serve.

Sorry, Lumineers: I don’t want to be the Dead Sea.



Nate T B 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Purpose, Sovereignty, and Being Left Handed

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, and one of my buddies from Phoenix had posted a silly link saying "I want to live like the apostles!" Loving biblical humor, I clicked on it. It had a huge list of the apostles, Stephen, and other people who had come to an unfortunate demise because of their faith. I had seen all these before:

Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, was stoned to death.
When I say stoned, I don't mean he overdosed on anything. Stephen was dragged outside of the city and had rocks thrown at him until he was dead.

Have you ever had someone throw a rock at you, and it hits you? Ya. Imagine that, except the people throwing them at you hate you with the utmost intensity and intend very much to end your life. And there's a lot of them. The part that scares me the most is that Stephen was around the same age as some of my students...

The list went on;

Several disciples were crucified upside down.

Several were cut in half. With a sword.

Some ended up being lion munchies.

One died of old age! On a desert island.. alone....

And I started thinking "Holy cow! That's ridiculous! It makes me look like such a pansy Christian!" What on God's green Earth could convince a human being to endure such a brutal, unbearable, gruesome demise?

Truth.

They truly understood the weight of what they were preaching and living for, and they also understood the persecution that would follow. Jesus gave them ample warning, telling them they would be persecuted and murdered for what they were doing. He warned them that His path was hard and not pretty. But the apostles knew that their mission was more important than their own lives. They knew obedience was more important than comfort.

Am I living that? With all my heart, I do NOT want to be crucified or stoned or anything like that! I don't even enjoy stubbing my toe! But I want to live so filled with passion that I put the call of the gospel in higher priority than oxygen or life itself.

At camp, I created a saying. I would use this saying to exhort my staff, to encourage them.

"What you are feeling is not as important as what we are doing."

Clearly, encouragement is not my spiritual gift.
Many times, this phrase would get passed around when a counselor would be disgruntled with another counselor and it was distracting to the ministry:

"What you are feeling is not as important as what we are doing."

Maybe one of the program staff really likes one of the girl program staff, and they're having a hard time focusing on the ministry and the kids:

"What you are feeling is not as important as what we are doing."

In no way did I ever mean it in a way that was devaluing the validness of their feelings. They might be angry at that other counselor for a good reason! And liking a girl is a great, beautiful thing! but the main reason we were there was to share the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ. The main reason God put us here. So that brings me back to the martyrs.

Those men were killed by people who wanted them to denounce their faith, admit they were lying, admit they were wrong, but the apostles knew with every fiber of their being that what they had experienced the last three years of their life with Jesus was real. They knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was God in human form, come to die as payment for our sins because of incomprehensible and perfect love only fully attainable by God Himself. They knew that what they were preaching was the most important words to ever be told, and that their mission was more important than anything else.
If, for one moment, they did doubt Jesus, or if they really were lying, would any of them actually gone through with their execution and torture? Their faith was worth dying for.

If they were lying, they would have recanted their lie with a simple "just kidding!" as soon as people began picking up rocks, or as soon as the cross was brought out.

If they doubted, they would have cracked beneath the torture and renounced their faith. But they didn't. They knew that what they were feeling was not as important as what they were doing. They trusted in the promises of Jesus Christ, the promises that had been made thousands of years before Jesus was even born. They had complete confidence in the promises of God. They had complete confidence that Jesus Christ is who He says He is. That, in essence, is faith.

In Hebrews, faith is defined as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is having complete confidence in the faithfulness of God; confidence that God will always keep His promises. The Holy Spirit works through our faith to glorify God.

So what am I doing for the kingdom of heaven? Fortunately we live in a place that's totally cool with our love for Jesus. In fact, being a Christian is the cool thing to do in America. I can never thank God enough for that! God's grace goes beyond my understanding!

I'm sure I don't have to talk about the countries that hunt down Christians like jedi after Order 66. The persecution is unspeakable! Followers of Christ living in tunnels and basements, protecting individual pages of the bible with their lives just so people can sneak in and read it for a few minutes. THEY are living their faith just like the apostles! I knew some friends in college that were going on a secret mission trip to a country in Asia that had made bibles illegal. The trip's main focus was to smuggle bibles in to the country and distribute them to several underground churches. That's so rad! That's like Jason Bourne stuff mixed with Billy Graham. You could call it...... the Bourne-Again Identity.

Man, I need to work on better jokes....
Anyways!

I am blessed and cursed with religious freedom at the same time. I live in a place that does not force me to stand for my faith in the face of death and painful persecution. Losing friends and alienating people is nothing compared to the sacrifice made by some.

But I do not wish I had their life. Why? Because God has put me here in Las Vegas where my faith has been tested in different ways. I have been put here for a specific purpose. I have devoted my life to the pursuit of God's will in my life. If God wants me to start a church in Guang Zhou, I'm packing. If God wants me to die a grumpy, cantankerous, old curmudgeon of a youth pastor, I'll shop for a good cane now.

At what point in the maturation of faith do we decide that being comfortable is God's will for us? When do we decide that being challenged is a thing for missionaries and foreign Christians? What age do we have to be before we decide that we are just too old to step out of that boat and follow Jesus on to the water?

It reminds me of the book Do Hard Things and The Barbarian Way. The God we worship and serve today is the same God that split the Red Sea to rescue the Israelites, the same God who gave Jephthah the outcast the strength to save his people, the same God who created and named the stars and created the oceans, the same God who spoke to Moses, whose voice caused Moses to radiate the glory of God's presence, the same God who formed Adam from dust and walked with him in the Garden of Eden. I worship THAT God. God never changes. His promises hold fast and true. I have full confidence in the promises of God.

The Holy Spirit is what gives a Follower of Christ his power; He surrounds and penetrates us, He binds the galaxy together. The Holy Spirit resides in everyone who trusts in Christ alone. He works through us, uses us, empowers us, gives us the strength we need to do all the things God designed us to do.

One thing that I always found fun and uber exciting about being a Follower of Christ is the fact that we all are created with a purpose. A unique, important, God glorifying purpose that was designed only for us before we were even born. Before the universe began, God had a plan for each of us as individuals.

Mind. Blown.

One thing that always blew me away was the story of Ehud. In the book of Judges, Ehud is the famous left handed assassin who delivered a message from God to the evil King Eglon.

Ehud is described as a left handed man who was given a mission from God. He made himself a sword and strapped it to the inside of his right leg. When he goes to the palace of King Eglon, the guards check him for weapons, they pat him down as they would check a right handed person, checking the left leg. Anyways, Ehud gets a private audience with the King and whispers to him

"I have a message to you from God."

He takes out his hidden blade and slays the great fat king, hides the body, and escapes, never to be seen again.

So the story is pretty rad in itself, but the part that blew my
mind is the fact that God created Ehud to be left handed specifically for the purpose of rescuing the nation of Israel from the oppression of the evil king.

Whoa! Am I the only one who is just blown away by that? God's sovereignty is like a cosmic Rube Goldberg machine that involves the entire universe to accomplish one result: the glorification of God. Everything works together to accomplish this from the exploding of stars to babies being left handed to the death of a blue whale, everything is part of God's plan.

That is what a temporally minded being like myself finds so astonishing. When was the last time any of us marveled at the greatness of God? When was the last time you looked at leaf and said "Holy crap! That's awesome!"?

Our God is so huge! As one of His marvelous creations, I will serve Him my entire life, always looking for more ways to serve and grow to become more and more of the man that God designed me to be. We are all here to serve a higher purpose than what we see in front of us right now. Our decisions and actions impact eternity, and we each have a job to do. What we are feeling is not as important as what we are doing. What have you been called to do?

I think I got off topic....

Nate T B