I no longer fear death, for death has been defeated. And the One that defeated it, defeated it for me. It’s Sunday.
Happy Easter, everybody.
I know it’s been a while since my last post. I just got into 1 Chronicles, and the first ten chapters have been genealogies and a brief recap of Saul’s death. Lookin forward to God speaking to me through the coming chapters.
Just didn’t want y’all to think I had fallen of the face of the Earth.
2 Kings 22.
Josiah, King in Jerusalem. Never heard of God’s Law. Hilkiah the high priest gave him the Book of the Law, and it broke his heart.
You have the Word. You have no excuse.
Let the Bible break your heart.
Bible Reading of the Day: 2 Kings 17-18
Quick study today.
One of the big things that have stuck out to me the most in the last few days’ readings was the constant succession of godlessness among the kings. Chapter 15 specifically read off a list of kings of Israel, very few of whom walked with the Lord throughout their reign.
That’s what I want to talk about today. I feel like there are far too many people struggling with a “…and he did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not turn away from the sins of his father…” tagged onto their names. A lot of people, and a lot of my friends, were raised in households where compromises of faith were made, and that’s just how it was.
Ezekiel 18:20 tells us that we will not be punished for the sins of our fathers. So why are so many people stuck in a family tradition of sinfulness?
I’m scared that a lot of people feel like their family name is already tarnished, but if we really believe 2 Chronicles when it tells us that we’re new creations in Christ, we have no excuse to perpetuate sinfulness just because our parents set a crappy example. It doesn’t matter if your great great great great grandfather started it. Let it stop with you.
Be the change. Be Hezekiah.
Let your kids say that their dad “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.”
Bible Reading of the Day: 2 Kings 7-8
Today, a man and his very vocal wife set up camp on the drill field at Mississippi State University and waged war with many Christian students that happened to be walking by. Interestingly enough, these people were Christians as well. For hours, large groups of believers and nonbelievers congregated in the middle of campus to listen and debate with this woman. Basically, what went down was a whole lot of hollerin’ and not a whole lot of listening. From both sides.
Her position was one of repentance. She preached what she thought was the was the Gospel using scare tactics of Hell and eternal damnation. It was her view that if you engage in a sinful act and die before you repent, you will spend eternity in Hell, Christian or not.
I personally believe that my Jesus died to cover all the sins I have done or will do, and I have a hard time believing that Christ’s sacrifice was necessary if we are saved by simply apologizing to God. I believe that repentance is important, but just as Hebrews 10 tells us that the same sacrifices of the Israelites year after year can never make perfect those who draw near to worship, repentance also cannot cleanse us of sin. Only by the power of the cross can our sin be covered. Hebrews 10 goes on to tell us the sacrifices were simply a reminder of our sins and that it is impossible for blood of bulls and goats to remove sin. Same goes for repentance. We are called to do it because it reminds us of our folly, not washes it away. That’s Christ’s job.
I believe what I believe, and she believes what she believes. And I made peace with that. But I still felt really upset. My friend Alek approached me afterward and told me he could tell I was really torn up about it. Through talking with him, I realized that I was upset because she was the only one spreading the Gospel (or what she thought was the Gospel).
This is where our reading for the day comes in. In 2 Kings 7, Israel had been going through a famine, and a few desperate lepers decided to go to the camp of the Arameans to see if they could get food. By the time they got there, God had caused the Arameans to hear sounds of a huge army, so they took off, leaving the camp unattended. When the lepers saw this, they took advantage of this blessing and rejoiced for it.
Verse 9 is what gets me. “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it all to ourselves.”
Is that what you’re doing with the Gospel?
There are people out there suffering, feeling the harsh effects of spiritual famine. Guys, people are dying without this message. You have found the Aramean camp, filled with food, drink, gold, silver, and clothes, and you’re keeping it to yourself.
My pastor mentored me during my senior year of high school, and one thing he always said was, “I’m just one beggar telling another beggar where I found bread.”
THAT should be our desire because THAT is our purpose. The friend I mentioned earlier likes to use the quote, “How much do you have to hate someone to withhold the Gospel from them.”
I disagreed with the woman in the drill field today, but I’m forced to admit that she found the Aramean camp and is bringing the good news to the gates of Samaria.
If I don’t agree, then I should be doing it myself.
Hey hey friends. This week, I applied for a program called Trials, which is a law school preparatory program that will take place during five months of this summer. Part of the application asked for a two-page essay explaining why I wanted to attend Trials, why I am interested in a legal career, and in general, letting the program get to know me better as a person. So I shared my testimony. As I wrote it, I realized that many people reading this blog don’t know my story entirely. Out of respect for spiritual nakedness, I copied my application essay and pasted it below (without the law school stuff)
“I was born and raised in the small town of Flowood, Mississippi, in a modest yet loving family. My parents instilled Christian values in me at a young age, and my faith has shaped me into the person I am today. I credit everything to them because I would not have made it if they had not raised me in a Christian household. My mother had severe back problems including excruciating pain and a spinal AVM, which progressively became worse as time passed. However, because of my mother’s health problems, we were able to come together as a family to get through it. When I was in eighth grade, a confusing time in any young man’s life, I lost my father, the greatest man I had ever known, to liver cancer. The stress of my father’s death and my own rebellious, argumentative attitude intensified my mother’s health problems to the point of confining her to a wheelchair. As a thirteen-year-old boy without a father who constantly fought with his mother, I began to battle with depression. I lost sight of the Christian values that my parents had taught me, and I abandoned my real friends for people that would make me well-known and popular. As a freshman in high school, I began to give in to sexual impurity, and I spent the following summer in England, where I started abusing alcohol. These things became my life, and that was a dark time for me.
I found clarity in the middle of the worst depressive episode I had experienced. I looked at myself and my life, and I realized that the person I had become was not the person I wanted to be. My head cleared, and I realized that I was better than that. I spent that night on my face, returning to the God that I ran away from. I began meeting with a small group of sophomore boys, where I reconnected with some of my real friends that I had abandoned when my dad died. Ever since, I have been grateful for the life and fulfillment that I have received because of the grace of Christ. Because of Him, I have something far greater than the life I had been living.
My life philosophy comes from Colossians 3:23, which says to “do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men.” For me, this means two things: first, to give everything I have in everything I do, and second, to operate with integrity in all of my endeavors, no matter the immediate personal cost. I think this applies to any aspect of a person’s life, whether that be personal relationships or in the workplace. The way I see it, if you live by this principle, you will be successful in anything you do. God has planted seeds of greatness in each of us. It is your responsibility to culminate them.”
No reading for today.
I’m taking 18 hours this semester. I’m a double major in political science and philosophy with a concentration in pre-law, so I had to get one 18 hour semester out of the way.
I used to be the kind of Christian that put my relationship with Christ before everything, and I took pride in that. But that was high school, and my schoolwork had very little effect on my future. College is the real deal. Every test you take can determine your grade in a class and influence your GPA, positively or negatively.
With this 18 hour semester backing up on me, with all of my professors assigning homework and tests on the same days, I was really tested on whether school or Christ was more important to me, and my focus went everywhere but on my relationship with Christ, as I’m sure you can tell by the length of time between my last post and this one.
Once school took priority over Christ, everything else did too. I would take breaks from studying or homework, not to get in the Word, but sleep, eat, or exercise. Pretty soon, my social life was getting in the way of Christ, too. What started off as one idol I was temporarily putting before God turned into multiple gods that I worshiped and poured my time into.
I put the God that saved me on the back burner because I wanted to get into a good law school. I’m ashamed of that.
A few weeks ago, my pastor said that the enemy may not be able to snag you with getting drunk or sleeping around, but he can certainly make you busy. That made me see what was happening to me, but I still tried to get myself out of my hole of school work before getting back on track with Christ.
Last night, I was studying for an ethics test when a buddy of mine from high school sent me a text asking if I needed prayer.
That hit me hard. This was a guy a few years younger than me that I had spent a brief time mentoring, and it made me realize exactly what I told him in my reply: “Yes! Man, school has been backing up and kicking my butt. I’ve been so busy that my mind has been completely off God. Please pray that my focus is in the right place.”
He came back with, “Man stay in the Word! We’re on a battlefield.”
Ain’t that the truth. So much wisdom from a high schooler.
That’s something we’ve talked about while we go through the Old Testament on here. Not only are we called to be warriors, God calls us to be STRONG warriors. We’re warriors no matter what. Cause we’re constantly in battle against a foe that has been around way longer than we have. The only thing we have a choice in is whether we are strong warriors or not.
Give it your all. Every day. “We’re on a battlefield.”
Bible Reading of the Day: 1 Kings 3-4
It’s been about a week since I last posted, and I have been feeling the effects. I’ve still been in the Word every day, but not setting aside time to really get into it has seriously brought me down. Stay in the Word, ladies and gents.
In other news, today’s reading came from 1 Kings, and I can’t think of a better passage to get back onto tumblr with. So let’s do it.
Since last time, David has died and left the throne to Solomon, who at this point is only a kid: ”…yet I am but a little child” (3:7). But this certainly doesn’t stop him from being the best human king Israel and Judah and ever seen.
In chapter 3, God visits Solomon in a dream and offered to give him anything he asked for. When this happens, Solomon is a thirteen year old guy, tops. Think back to when you were thirteen. What would you have asked for? Now think about yourself at your current state. Still, what would you ask for?
Solomon proves in verses 6-9 that he’s more mature than any of us were at that age, and most of us as we are now. He’s given the opportunity to ask for anything he could possibly imagine, and he says, “So give your servant an understanding of heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” v.9
Solomon asks for wisdom! And because of this, God not only gives Solomon wisdom, he gives Solomon the power and wealth that we would have asked for in a similar situation! Chapter 4 goes into just how powerful and wealthy Solomon was.
“Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River (Euphrates) to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life. Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty kors of fine flour and sixty kors of meal, ten fat oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, a hundred sheep besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl. For he had dominion over everything west of the River…he had peace on all sides around him. So Judah and Israel lived in safety…Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen…” ch.4:21-26
Now I don’t know what a kor is, but homeboy had it made. And not only did Solomon have it made, but Judah and Israel had it made too! Things were good under Solomon.
Chapter four goes on to talk about his great wisdom and how men from every people came to hear him speak.
Solomon’s decision to choose wisdom over all else calls to question the kind of wisdom he must have had to begin with. To be that young and ask for nothing more than wisdom and discernment requires some preeminent wisdom and discernment.
We have to do the same thing. Wisdom doesn’t just come along, and usually God doesn’t just give it to you. Proverbs tells us it’s something we have to strive and work for. But before we are able to strive and work, we have to have the wisdom and discernment to even begin. This kind of wisdom comes stock and standard in every make and model of Christians.
So next time you’re desperately begging God for a black 2012 4WD Toyota Tundra with a V8, crew cab, pipes, Falken A/T’s, and lift kit (guilty), tap into that wisdom of the Spirit and pray that He continues to work in you every day and allows you to grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man. (1 Samuel 2:26, Luke 2:52)
Bible Reading of the Day: 2 Samuel 17-18
Today’s reading was full of names that are hard to pronounce.
This holds absolutely no relevance. I just wanted to point it out.
That being said, I love the symbolism in this passage. When the Old Testament pulls out some awesome symbolism, it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.
So today’s reading takes place in the middle of Absalom’s conspiracy against his own father, David. In the previous chapters, 2 Samuel explains how Absalom plotted against David by taking the legal and social issues of Israel into his own hands, thus gaining their trust and loyalty. In this, he gains quite the following. One thing that happens that I think is really awesome is that in chapter 15, in the midst of being conspired against by someone he loves, David weeps on the Mount of Olives. Sounds a lot like Jesus, if I do say so myself.
But what happens in today’s reading is the conflict between the people of Israel under Absalom and the servants of David. In chapter 18, David rallies the troops and there was this huge battle which God gives to David. After the battle, Absalom is riding a mule, but as the mule passes under a tree, Absalom gets his big ol’ head stuck between the branches.
“…so he was left hanging between Heaven and Earth…” v.10
Symbolism at its finest.
It’s always a beautiful thing in literature when someone dies in a way that reflects the life they lived. Absalom was the son of David, a man after God’s own heart. David loved him, and he could have been a great man of God. But he got caught up with power and -something that we can relate to more- making people like him. He was so very concerned with making everyone like him that there was no way he could focus on giving glory to God.
Not only did Absalom die hanging between Heaven and Earth, homeboy lived his life suspended between Heaven and Earth. Absalom was an Israelite, a chosen son of God. Heaven was in his grasp, yet he let his eyes wander back to Earth.
We’re not called to make people like us. The first commandment was “Thou shall have no other gods before Me,” not “Thou shalt be really freakin’ popular” (Ex. 20:3).
Jesus warns us in Matthew 10:22 that “man will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm til the end shall be saved,” and in 24:9 “you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
Why does man have to hate us? Because “…the wicked detest the upright.” - Proverbs 29:27
I understand that it goes against your nature to not be concerned with whether or not you’re well-liked. And I don’t think that it’s a bad thing if you are. If you’re a solid believer and you’re popular and well-liked, then it’s probably because you’ve demonstrated the love of Christ to a lost society. And that is a wonderful thing. Just don’t let it be your primary focus.
If you don’t have the first world pain of being “too popular,” don’t freak. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.” - John 15:18
Keep the first commandment in mind as you go about your weekend, and remember that we are in the world, but not of it. (Luke 15:19)
Stop living your life suspended between Heaven and Earth. If you don’t, Joab will thrust three spears into your heart. Real talk.