Rooted

Over the last few years, our church has had year specific themes that we, as a congregation focus on throughout the year. These themes have served to focus/refocus us, unify us, and motivate us to move forward in our personal and corporate relationships with God.

We are surrounded by a culture that is constantly shifting. Right is called wrong, the truth is despised, and people are pressured into comprising their values. This is the cultural reality that we find ourselves ministering in the midst of. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we, the Church of Jesus Christ, stand firmly grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

We must remain Rooted.

  • Rooted in the Word.
  • Rooted in faith.
  • Rooted in love.
  • Rooted in hope.
  • Rooted in the Gospel.

My church’s theme this year is one that can be developed throughout the entire year in a wide variety of ways. In fact, in many ways, the theme of Rooted is simply a cumulation of what we, as a church, have been working towards over the last few years.

We desire to Know God—Read and Pray (2016)

We desire to Grow in our relationships with Him – Walk Worthy (2017)

We desire to Go and spread the good news – Beyond the Walls (2018)

We desire to Remain knowing, growing, and going – Rooted

The idea of remaining Rooted can easily and consistently be applied to both the individual as well as the church as a whole throughout the year.

We as individuals are challenged and encouraged to stay Rooted in holding onto our faith and digging into the Word. The church, as a whole, is challenged and encouraged to remain Rooted as the Bride of Christ even as the culture around us quickly shifts.

We can, thankfully, produce a message of stability and consistency no matter what sort of uncertainty lies ahead, we can show that our foundations are unshakable.

Today, next week, and for the rest of the year, my prayer for you is that you remain firmly rooted.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”      -Colossians 2:6-7

Don’t Forget To Remember

Recently, I was on a plane with not much to do so I decided that I was going to pass my time remembering. I allowed my mind to travel back to a specific date and location. I sat there as I remembered the people who were around me, what I was feeling, and what my outlook on life was at that specific point. Some of my memories were sweet and left me feeling warm while others made me cringe from embarrassment. Either way, I enjoyed remembering.

It is a good thing to remember the past.

I have been to many different places in my life and they all have one thing in common. No matter if I am in a big city, small town, or even a middle-of-nowhere wilderness I can always find some sort of memorial. A small sign, plaque, statue, monument, stones, engraving-all these can be found. And they all have one of three messages… “Don’t forget this person.” Or “Don’t forget this thing that happened.” Or “Don’t forget this person that did this thing.”

So why is remembering so important? Because most of the time forgetting can have tragic results.

Now, I’m not simply talking about misplacing your keys (although that can be a bit of a bummer.) I am more so talking about forgetting the people, events, and truths that have shaped you into who you are today.

Deuteronomy 8:11-14 says,

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

See, God completely understands our human tendencies. We are forgetful and prideful people. God tells the people of Israel to remember the person-God, the event-God bringing them out from slavery, and the truth-God did it and it was not by their own power.

And then in verse 19, God gives them the tragic results of not remembering, “if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them…you will surely be destroyed.”

Remembering is serious business. It can literally be the difference between life and death.

There are so many tragedies in history that we need to remember.

The Original Fall of Mankind, The Holocaust, soldiers who bravely gave their lives protecting the oppressed, 9/11, The Sandy Hook Massacre, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, multiple Genocides, and sadly I have only named a few. But all of these need to be remembered.

But also, triumphs should be remembered as well.

Jesus Rising from the dead, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, walking on the Moon, cures for terrible diseases, The Emancipation Proclamation, Israel becoming a nation again, and the Bears winning the Super Bowl in 2020. (That last one hasn’t happened yet, but I am hoping that one day I will be able to remember it.)

In the same way that we should remember history-defining events, we should also remember our own life-changing events.

I remember when I was trapped and chained by sin. But, Praise God, I also remember when I put my trust in Jesus.

I remember those countless times where I had fears and doubts. But Praise God, I also remember those countless times where God firmly yet gently pulled me through.

I remember when I was unfaithful to the God who loves me. But, Praise God, I remember when He continued to be faithful in spite of myself.

Don’t forget the important stuff in life.

Write things down in a journal. Take pictures. Create something to put in your house.

But whatever you do, remember.

“Highly Subjective”

Lessons can and should be learned in every moment of every day, you just need to look for them.

Somewhat recently I wrote a fun little short story. It could be classified as a goofy adventure story, a mystery thriller, or a thought piece. Hopefully, it’s a bit of all three.

Well, after tweaking it, editing, asking friends to read it, and more editing, I finally decided to send it in and see if it was worthy of publishing. So, I sent it into four different short story publishers. (I will send it to more, but I wanted to start small since I’m not in a rush.)

A few days ago, I was sitting on the couch scrolling through my email when I came across a message from one of the publishers I was waiting to hear back from. My heart began to race, but I fought to keep my expectations small and my emotions in check.

I opened the email.

“Thank you for submitting blah blah blah…to the blah blah blah…” I read quickly and the words on my screen prompted me to look up and announce to my wife.

“Here it is honey! My first rejection letter!”

“Congrats babe! Proud of you!” was her response.

Yep. You read that right. I got rejected and my wife congratulated me. She was proud of me.

Why?

Because we had already talked about the probability of rejection. Back when I was deciding whether to send in the story or not she encouraged me to do so. And when I asked, “what about when I get rejected.” Her response was perfect. She told me about a famous author who had been rejected hundreds of times before her novel was finally given a chance. And she told me how that author went on to sell millions upon millions of copies of her books. She reminded me that getting rejected might just be the first step towards success and that I shouldn’t be discouraged.

I have a pretty awesome wife huh!?

Well, aside from the encouragement to persevere there was another lesson that I was reminded of. As I re-read the letter my eye was drawn to a specific phrase. “This isn’t a reflection on your writing. The selection process is highly subjective…”

Subjective is an interesting word. It is defined as something “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”

Ok, that’s all well and good, but what would the opposite of subjective be? Is there anything that is not based on personal feelings, tastes, or opinions? Is there anything that is just universally real and untouched by the whims of people? Is there truth that is unchanged and unaffected by our particular views?

Yes.

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

Hebrews 4:12 proclaims “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Hebrews 13:8 exclaims that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:8 reveals, “For I the Lord do not change.”

There is, thankfully no subjectivity when it comes to who God is and the truth that He has given to us.

He is God.

He is truth.

The Bible is God’s Word.

The Bible is truth.

I am thankful that there is a real truth that is not subjective.

I am thankful that the promises found in the Bible are not subject to the whims or opinions of people.

I am thankful that God’s love for me is not based on my own feelings.

And I am thankful that I have a Savior who does not change.

 

These are all great comforts to me in the midst of a highly subjective world.

While I Was Reading

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books, The Lord Of The Rings. Although it was broken up into, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Tolkien himself always intended for it to be a single book. If you have never read this literary masterpiece I highly recommend it!

Anyway, while I have been reading I have, again, realized just how quotable Tolkien is and how deeply relatable his characters are. As I read for fun I don’t want to read to just simply escape reality. (Read my thoughts on that topic here.) Instead, I want to read everything, even fiction, with purpose. I want my stories to teach me something and remind me of my own reality. (The good stories will always do just that.) Today, I wanted to share a couple of quotes with you that recently impacted me.

The first quote is the ever-wise Gandalf in response to Frodo’s questioning why he was chosen for such a great task.

“‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must, therefore, use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’”

These words greatly remind me of God’s interaction with Abraham in Genesis 12-17. God chose Abraham, not because he was a great man of great strength with great faith or great stature. God just simply chose him. After God chose Abraham He blessed him and, in turn, used him to bless the entire world. Similarly, God chose and used Moses, imperfections and all, to lead His people out of captivity and right up to the doorstep of the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, in Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that God is consistent. People are not saved because of personal merit or works, but rather by the grace of God alone. And Ephesians 2:10 encourages those that have been chosen and saved by grace to produce “good works” as a result.

Frodo was very weak; however, he was still “chosen” for a great purpose -to destroy the evil ring. We are very weak; however, we have still been chosen for a great purpose -to glorify God and to tell the world about Jesus and His love.

The second quote I want to bring up is spoken by Aragorn when he is trying to ignite courage in the face of almost certain doom.

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”

As I read this I can’t help but ask myself the question, “Do I do what I do to get recognition and pats on the back? Or do I do it because God has called me to faithfully serve Him?”

Galatians 1:10 makes it clear that if our intentions are to please people then we cannot truly be servants of Christ. And Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

We need to do the right thing even if no one is watching and waiting to sing our praises.

The reality is that God is always watching, and His opinion of us is all that really matters anyway. Everything that we think, say, and do should be for God’s glory even when its not popular and especially when we do not receive recognition for it.

The purpose of sharing these quotes is to first, show how they remind me of great truth found in God’s Word. The second reason is to remind all of us how we can take everyday life and situations and think of them with a biblical mindset. That’s why I created this blog in the first place. Everyday life from a biblical perspective.

What is something that you have read, or seen, or heard lately that reminds you of our awesome God?