Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Found Him

"I found Him!"

I will never forget those words.

We had just finished one of our Christmas services, and I was standing in the atrium of our church this past weekend greeting folks and catching up with people.  One of the members of our youth group came up with their mom displaying a slight smile on their face.  The mom was smiling too...and they both politely waited to speak as I finished my conversation with a couple other folks.

This youth has spent the last seven months really searching and struggling with God.  They held off on getting baptized last spring because they weren't sure about God.  Their family loved and supported them, but they continued to struggle spiritually, slowly moving further and further away from God.  They still came to church and I had the honor of praying with and talking with them several times.  They just chose to not accept Christ, and eventually let their family know that they didn't want anything to do with Him or God...period.  It was a decision that had slowly been made over the past six-seven months, but it was very purposeful.

This decision was made aware to me at church a few weeks ago after a Sunday morning Bible study.  I was saddened, but still kept praying for them, not knowing how, where, when, or if God would ever become real to them.  I had no quick answer...no miraculous statement...not really any idea at all.  All I had was prayer and love.

So there they stood on Christmas Eve.  They had just finished attending the worship service with their family, and there they were, three weeks removed from respectfully informing me that they wanted nothing to do with God.   I smiled, said hi to them and their mom, and gave them both a quick hug.  Mom softly said they had something to share.  I looked down at the student, and the tears welled up.  Same with mom.

"I found Him."

That's all they were able to say as they smiled and gave me one more quick hug.  The mom thanked me and they both moved on.

WOW!  I have no clue when, where, how, etc...absolutely no details.  They admitted several times that they didn't feel anything from God no matter how long they searched...how many times they prayed...how many Bible verses they read.  What I do know is here's a young person who had less than a month ago publicly denied Christ, and somehow He was now a reality to them.  I also know I will never forget that moment...that look on their face...that statement:

"I found Him."

Sometimes God feels far away.  Sometimes we question if He even exists or what good following Him really is.  Even when we don't feel anything from God, He's still there.  Philippians 4:7 says that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind."  That's powerful.

There's plenty of things that we can pursue; plenty of options out there; plenty of things to find.  There will never be someone or something larger or more important for you to find than a relationship with God the Father Almighty.  Never give up trying to discover Him.  Never stop learning about Him.  Never stop depending on Him.  Never stop serving Him.

When everything seems hopeless or lost, there are three words we can find comfort and strength in.

"I found Him."

Stay strong.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fear God

I struggle with fearing God sometimes.  I'm a pretty positive person.  I usually look at the bright side of something, even in tragic situations.  I respect God, love Him with everything I am, and try to serve Him often.  But do I fear Him?

Every week I have the privilege of attending a campus ministry at Piper High School.  It's a public school that has a tough reputation, but it has done a decent job of cleaning up it's act over the past 5-7 years.  It still has a long way to go, but has a lot of good students walking the hallways.

This past Tuesday, I got into the classroom that we use a little early and got to chat with a few of the students that don't normally come to the campus ministry meeting.  As each conversation drew to a close, I told the student we'd love to have them stay.  We had pizza, soda, and Christmas cookies!  Woo-Hoo!  Most students politely said they had plans.  One student I've been chatting with for a few weeks now laughed as I invited him to stay (again) and said he already had something going on.  When I asked him what that was, he laughed again and said, "I'm already going to hell so I don't think I can stay."  I assured him he could stay, but he again reminded me that he was going to hell and that there was no hope for him.  I smiled and told him that I disagreed with him and briefly explained that everyone can be forgiven.  He laughed, said, "Not me!", then gave me a big smile, high five, and wished me a Merry Christmas (kind of ironic I guess) before he left the room.

I don't know if you've ever encountered someone that flat out claimed they were going to hell and were excited about it.  It breaks my heart when I see people willingly choose that as their destiny.  I'm positive this young man does not have a proper understanding about hell or a proper fear of God or he would surely not be joking about hell the way he was.

Jesus knows fear. He was tortured, mocked, and murdered on the cross...experienced every sin imaginable on the cross and was separated from His Father as a result. There's no doubt Jesus knows fear better than any of us can imagine. Listen to His words in Luke 12:

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.  But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear."

Strong words from the Son of God. However, if anyone had the right and knowledge to offer such advice, it was Jesus.

Does your life have a proper fear of God? Do your words and actions show respect/reverence/love for a Father that has done everything He can to prove His love for you? Do you take Him for granted? Do you forget about Him until you need something? Does your life mock Him in any way? How often does sin enter your life? What do you do about it when it shows up? To what lengths are you willing to go to make sure you properly fear the God who gave everything to share a relationship with you?

I can't wait till school starts up again next year so I can see this young man again. I'm praying for him often and hope/pray that somehow he will see Christ this Christmas. Maybe you will be the one who shows Him Christ in such a way that He finally makes sense.

Fear God enough to accept His love and share it with those around you. Never stop displaying Christ to the people God surrounds you with each day. Stay strong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


On Thanksgiving, Ndamukong Suh stomped on an opponent's arm during the Detroit Lions' loss to the Green Bay Packers.  He was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, ejected from the game, fined, and suspended.  Feel free to disagree, but I believe that play really cost the Lions any chance at winning.
Last Sunday, Stevie Johnson caught a touchdown pass against the New York Jets defense.  His touchdown celebration started with a little dance, but then he proceeded to pretend "shoot himself in the leg," mocking Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who spent time in jail and was released by the New York Giants after he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub.  Johnson was penalized, which ended up costing his team field position and a touchdown, and was eventually fined by the NFL.
Bob Costas gave a very nice monologue during Sunday Night Football about excessive celebrations.  You can watch it here: 
I love sports.  I hate losing.  I love celebrating wins.  I'm all about intensity and being as competitive as possible.  However, the heat of battle...the middle of the competition...that's where you can often get a glimpse of the heart of a person.

How often does "winning" make people forget priorities, character, class, grace, etc.  At what cost are people willing to go to win?  How about you?  When you find yourself in a competitive situation, whether it's on a field/court somewhere, in the classroom, at work, dealing with relationships, wherever; will you sacrifice your character and your reputation for a "win?"

Proverbs 22:1,  "Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold." 

You are the only person who ultimately chooses what your reputation will be.  So don't stomp on people.  Don't mock other people's mistakes.  Don't sacrifice who you are or your future for a temporary "win."  Stay strong.