Podcasts

Timepiece

Audemars-Piguet-Royal-Oak-41-main-imageLeBron James is one of its eighteen ambassadors. In the rap community you’ll find the likes of Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Jeezy as its chosen few. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hugh Jackman have received one as gifts. Audemars Piguet, manufacturer of handmade Swiss watches has been providing these luxury timepieces to the elite since 1875. Their flagship model, the “Royal Oak” is sold through retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Cartier, and Bulgari starting at around $15,000 apiece. The most expensive Audemars? Be prepared to plunk down a cool $1.3 million for.

 

“…spent a whole lot of money on a watch, ironic because I got it but I hardly sit and watch the time tick by. I spent time trying to buy it to own time; I never thought that I was only wasting my own time.  Who holds time? They say He’ll be coming in no time. Pray I pay attention, because I’m giving Him no time.” –Lecrae, “Timepiece”

 

The Christian message spreading MC from Atlanta poetically calls listeners to think about the time their spending on Earth. How are we using it? Where is our focus? In a season where things seem to be moving a million miles an hour it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there will always be more time in the future to slow down and direct our attention to the things that matter. We rush off to work, we rush home for lunch, we rush to our kids’ activities, we rush out for dinner, and we rush to get in our favorite TV shows or sporting events before crashing and starting all over again the next day. As Brian Vande Lune asked this past week, “…where in there do you hear about time for God?”

 

“Does my time spent on earth qualify me for Heaven? Did we tick Him off by wasting all these ticks on the clock? Or is He graciously giving me time to give Him my heart? I’m sure it’s the latter, sure that it matters, and I believe I’ve been given all this time so I could try to redeem it or make the most of this stopwatch I’m racing.” –Lecrae, “Timepiece”

 

Have we considered why we have been granted the time we have on Earth? Scripture and theology would point to the glorification of God and the impact we could make on others, but could it also be a third component, the redemptive act of surrendering our hearts completely to Him? It might be that our years here are the anticipatory seconds for us to finally ‘see the light,’ turning from our wasted moments to moments that matter, and ultimately coming to relationship with Christ.

 

“…and at the end of your days when eternity’s in your face, you have one life to offer up in His service or lay to waste…and fame, money, success be competing for my investments, but I can’t take them with me when it’s time for me to exit.” – Lecrae, “Timepiece”

 

As author Francis Chan once illustrated using a long rope with a few inches of red tape at the end, our life on earth pales in comparison to our time in eternity. Our minutes ticking away make up just a few in relation to the time we’ll have in Heaven or Hell. If we ask ourselves what it is we’re fully invested in or worse yet, distracted by, would it be humbling to see what the ‘pie chart’ would look like?

 

“…yeah, and you say Audemars, Audemars, Audemars, but I still don’t know the time that the sun comes down from the stars.” – Lecrae, “Timepiece”  

 

Men, let’s not lay waste to our lives. Take the time to be in community with Christ, because as Lecrae describes, the other idols in our lives that pull for our investment won’t be coming with us.

 

Set a Fire Down in Your Soul,

 

Austen

The Sign

sign

17 Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

Judges 6:17

As I read the account of Gideon speaking to the Lord I am wondering what made Gideon request that a sign be delivered from the Lord to prove it was him.  It is something that we do all the time – “God give me a sign.  If is really from you than show me a sign.”  It is also something that is written time and again as in when Jesus first appeared to the Apostles 38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” 40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Luke 24:38-40. 

Could it be the Gideon wanted to prove that he was not dreaming, almost satisfying himself to say that he was awake the way that Jesus wanted to prove to the disciples that he was not a ghost.  In this case the Lord complied. 

19 Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. – Judges 6:19-20

Gideon asked for a sign which his own hands can handle and which his own hands can see.  I believe this is true that anything else by our own humanity is incomprehensible.  Through many cases of Jesus from his birth to his resurrection he appeals to us through many witnesses of his wonderful grace and amazing Love. 

Sometimes this is still not enough.  Sometimes I think that we need this tangible sign to connect with the intangible connection between our physical being and our spirit within us. 

 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. - 1 John 5:9-12

The Promise. Through this we also see a confirmation of his promises. The Lord promises and the Lord delivers. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? -Romans 8:31.  Because the truth is scripture shows that time after time God always stands on his promises. This is also seen as a promise to the enemy that he has lost and has been forever defeated though Jesus our Lord and Savior. 

And through the witness of our senses it strengthens our faith of the evidence of things not yet seen. I believe again that it is a willing connection that our God wishes to make so with our mind and body we can be in complete relationship with him. 

So let this story remind us of these three things accomplished in one sign from above.  Also it should be said that God can come to us at any moment as in the case of the lowly person of Gideon to reveal to us the hidden man of valor that exist in us to bring out what can be a great warrior for God. 

Strength & Courage 

Jeremy 

Phobophobia

 Ebola Masks2

Well, it’s getting to that time of year again when some kids like to run around in masks to scare one another and some like to be scared. While it is mostly in fun, haunted houses and scary movies usually make an appearance once a year and then go into hiding till the next season. But there are some things that may unexpectedly appear that may be even more scary than someone behind a mask. The recent resurgence in cases of individuals contracting the ebola virus, including some in the US, has started to increase the anxiety level of certain people. If you found out that your next door neighbor had come down with ebola, would you be a little nervous?

So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

The CDC and other news agencies have tried to assure the public with facts about the disease and the unlikelihood of it spreading to most people, but when it comes down to it, many of our fears are irrational; especially when we think something may happen to us, even if a remote chance. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but it is easy for any of us to become anxious when we feel threatened at all. I’ve sometimes wondered what it is like to live in a war zone, when you hear stories of what it is like for someone caught in a crossfire or living in fear during the bombing of London, not knowing if the next one will be directly to you must have been unnerving. The shell shock to civilians must have been similar to those fighting in the trenches. Less than 100 years ago, nearly 5% of the world’s population, most of them young and healthy, were killed by the 1918 flu pandemic.  We take it for granted that we don’t face most of these fears during our lifetime, but there is usually something we encounter that can threaten our confidence.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

Ultimately, when we look closely, most of us are afraid of losing something. Whether it is our job, our health, our money, our stuff, or those closest to us, there is always a threat that something will be taken from us. We can feel secure most of the time, but when we see this happening to others around us, we realize we are all vulnerable. In one interview with author Stephen King, the thing he said he was most afraid of was losing his mind, as in losing his memory through Alzheimer’s disease. While health concerns are a constant threat to us all in these vessels we use that will eventually break down, there is still hope.

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.    Psalm 39:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  I Peter 5:7

So, whether these fears that come and go in our lives are because of valid concerns or from unlikely threats, the question we need to ask is where do we put our hope? We can trust that the latest technology has to offer can keep us safe for a while, but these things are still imperfect.  Even when we cannot control our environment or what happens to us, we can put our trust in the One who transcends our circumstances. Some of the most joyful people I’ve met have been those with very little in the way of material possessions, or even in the way of health. They know our time is limited and live more fully in the face of death and other limitations we experience here on earth. So, take time to be thankful for all that we have been given, especially the gift of salvation we have in Christ. That makes it possible to look beyond the scope of our limited lives here to an eternity where a dream of what life is like in a perfect world becomes a new reality.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

God is within us All

Today I have something very special for you all.  A very good friend of mine has written a testimony just for you all.  He is a man who has come from the bottom to be reborn and find God.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Leighton has been reborn. His message brings hope that no matter where our lives have taken us God will always be waiting for us to join him again.

Hello, my name is Leighton Lowell, and I was asked to write about my journey with God and my military service. Let me start by saying that I was raised by two wonderful parents who took the vows of til death do you part as a sacred vow. They were my heroes growing up and until the day that they passed. They were believers in God but never practiced religion in the form that I do now. We never attended church or read the bible. We were raised to juarmy-high-definition-wallpaper-background-hd-wallpaper-picture-army-wallpaperst know that he existed. Looking back, Christ was in my life and protecting me even when I didn’t truly understand what and who he really is.

Me not really knowing Christ led me into making some really bad decisions while in high school. Decisions that very well could have put me in prison for a very long time or into the grave at a very young age. God did not allow that to happen because he had much better plans for me. Those bad choices are what led me to join the United States Army right out of high school. It was a choice that I had to make in order to leave that lifestyle behind me.

I spent three years traveling the world and growing up. I still did not actively have Christ in my life nor did I go to church, but he was still there guiding me in the path that I needed in order to become the man that I am today. I reunited with my family in Oklahoma a few years after getting out of the military due to an unfortunate accident that my little brother had. He was severely injured, so I packed up my things and moved to Oklahoma.

My brother healed, I found a great job, met someone and was on my way to having my first child! Things were really looking up for this sinning soldier when a letter came in the mail. I was told that my service was not over and that they needed me for combat. Why me? Why now? Why would God do such a horrible thing to me when I was FINALLY getting my life figured out?

I was angry with God! He was really messing up my plans. I watched my son grow up his first year through pictures and videos sent to me. On the morning of my first anniversary,  we came under heavy mortar attack. The day that was meant for celebrating had turned into the worst day of my life. Why God? Why? I made it home safe and attempted to continue on my Godless life. Nobody could see the hurt in my heart. Nobody could see the images that were burned into my mind. I was living a literal hell that only God could help.

I turned down invitations to attend church with others. God couldn’t help me. He was the one who did this to me. Right? I went on to making some seriously bad choices that could have ended my career, my family and my life. I ended up in a nasty divorce due to me not allowing God into my life, and then The Lord had finally had enough and it was time for him to intervene.

He sent an angel to me who is now known to all as my wife. Her name is Stephanie, and she has by far been a blessing in my life. She never once forced religion on me. She spoke of God and his powers. She taught me what Jesus did for me and led me to the church to learn more. She saw the pain in my heart and knew that I needed help. She understood that she could do all that she could to help me, but what I really needed was our Lord and Savior. Since God put my angel in my life, I have been able to open up doors that the enemy had held shut for so many years. I attended mass on a regular basis and am very proud to say that I became a messenger in Christ by being confirmed in Catholicism this year!

My life was finally given to The Lord and those doors have flown open faster than I can even explain in words. God knew what he was doing when my life was in shambles. He knew what was ahead, and he knew that I needed to hit rock bottom before I would be able to handle his greatness. If anyone reading this may be going through a rough time or doesn’t believe that it can get better, give it to God. He is the only one who will help you in ways that aren’t humanly possible. There is nothing that he cannot handle. Close your eyes, bow your head and ask for his help.

Thank you for your time, and I will leave you with this-  “Lord I ask that you look down upon these lost souls and guide them in the path that you have guided me and my family. I pray that whomever may be reading this sees your true power and that maybe it can help at least one person on their journey. Lord I thank you for the opportunity to share my story and thank you for all things that you have done for me. In Jesus name we pray. Amen”

Not Just Another Psalm 23 Blog

We read a lot of scripture in our lives, and often times we read the same verses over and over again–but each time we read it, something new pops out. God’s cool like that. His written word is full of layers of messages and inspiration. I just had one of those new revelation moments in hearing a sermon this Sunday on Psalm 23.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).

This Psalm is strongly applicable in weary seasons of life like when a job is stressful, kids make life extra busy, or there seems no possible time to fully gain rest. But this Psalm is also powerful in times when you aren’t sure where you’re going or what you’re supposed to do, as well as in times when you are trying to control the outcomes in your life.

David notes instantly in the Psalm that the Lord is his shepherd, and he lacks nothing. God being the shepherd, means David (and us if we’re applying it to ourselves) are the sheep. Sheep are to be guided, tended to, cared for in every way. That is an amazing way to think of God–as our shepherd. But I feel there are times that we try to take the shepherd role. We remove the rod from God’s hand and try to force our own way and take care of ourselves. We need to understand that isn’t our role. Even as manly as we think we are, we can’t be the shepherd–it’s not our job!

Going into the second verse, I love the language used that God “makes” us lie down. As our shepherd, he knows when we need a break. So often we forgo his suggestion to rest and keep on running, but the end result is always a fatal burn out. It is in those times he makes us lie down, and sometimes it happens with a swift blow to the head or an uncomfortable kick in the butt.

Once we’re down and resting, he is able to refresh us. God is also able to help us reset our vision for the future. We often pursue our own heart, rather than the heart of God. I see that in King David’s life. Although he was a man after God’s heart, his selfish side interrupted his heart at times and led him astray.

Exhibition Barbee-22Verse 3 introduces a key concept for us: “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Notice here that it isn’t for our own glory, for our benefit, or even the path we may want. God leads us where he needs us to go. Here’s the biggest takeaway I got from the first three verses: God knows the way better than you and I.

As much as we think we know what we’re doing, God knows it even better. In fact, he’s been down this road millions of times before. He knows the way better than us all. We need to trust that way, trust his shepherding touch, and trust his voice when he tells us to rest or to proceed.

Take a look at some of your favorite scripture today. What is it that you can find that you haven’t noticed before? Let God speak to you in his shepherding voice, and follow in the way that he leads you.

Love Loud!
Cory Nikkel

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