It’s Okay To Go To The Deepest Parts Of Struggle.

“I am learning how to struggle.

I am learning how to hurt.

I am learning how to wrestle and not give up.

I am learning perseverance and endurance.

I am learning just how weak I am and just how STRONG God is.”
-Unknown

Now, I’m not sure who penned these words, but I first read them in a blog post by Jake Larson. It was one of those things that you read and think, “Man, God had that for me today.” Learning how to struggle is exactly what I have been doing as of late. Struggling is so often looked at as a bad thing, and to some degree, it does suck. However, on the other hand, struggle is good. As my stepdad once told me, “I hate to see you struggle, but it shows you aren’t willing to give up. You aren’t willing to give in to what the world is telling you. It shows that you really care about what God has to say about sin.” Another saying that I absolutely love is “Hallelujah we are free to struggle. We aren’t struggling to be free.” That comes from Tenth Avenue North’s song The Struggle. Through this process of struggle, God had been teaching me a lot of things through this season of my life and has been doing a lot of heart work in me. A few of which are:

•Patience || God has been teaching me what patience really looks like. I am learning to wait on Him and His timing for all things. Patience with frustrating situations or people at work.

•God is the only one who can pick up the broken pieces of my heart and put it back together. I can’t rely on other people to fix me, especially since everyone is broken in their own way and that people aren’t perfect.

•God is teaching me to rely on His strength because I can’t do it on my own, that it’s okay to be weak and even to reach out to others and especially Him in moments of weakness.

•He’s teaching me to remember that even when I do fail, He dusts me off and tells me to try again. That it’s not always about being completely free from sin, but learning the art of trying again.

If you are struggling, know that the struggle and suffering isn’t going to last forever if you belong to Christ Jesus. Be encouraged in the fact that struggling shows you care about God and His movement in your life.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Hunger Among Other Things

As of 2011, 20,000 children under the age of 5 died from hunger and hunger related causes. To put that into perspective, that is 250 filled school buses of kids that died every single day. That’s nearly 14 kids every minute. To say that there is a problem is a little bit of an understatement. And it’s not just a problem that effects third world countries. Hunger also effects children in the United States. So what can we do about it? Through an organization called World Vision, people all over are participating in an event called the 30 Hour Famine. World Vision hosts several Famine events every year, but not only that, they offer child sponsorships in order to continue caring for the hungry after the Famine events. You can visit and learn more about World Vision at worldvision.org.

This will be my eighth year doing the 30 Hour Famine. When I first began doing the Famine in my 7th grade year, the number of kids dying every day was nearly double what it is today. Through efforts of World Vision and The 30 Hour Famine, the number of hungry kids are decreasing dramatically. I’ve been able to see students grow closer together, but more importantly closer to God. Being able to be apart of that is something special.

So here’s how it works: students and anyone else who wants to participate raises money to send to World Vision so that they can distribute food and resources all over the world. Our group will be fasting for 30 hours at the end of April, hence the name 30 Hour Famine. We do this in order to get a little feel for what it is like to be hungry and use it as a tool to raise awareness by telling people why we aren’t eating for 30 hours. While fasting we are going to be doing service projects around our community to help students see the need that is in their own back yards.

This is just a brief overview of what The Famine is about. If you want to learn more, or even get involved, you can head over to 30hourfamine.org. I also ask that you would consider donating to a great cause and organization that is helping the hungry all over the world. If you would like to donate, you can find my donation page here: http://30hf.worldvision.org/site/TR/30HourFamine/30HourFamine?px=1466796&pg=personal&fr_id=2540.

God bless you all!

In God’s grip,
Alex

What is Repentance?

What is repentance?

Can I not be satisfied with a simple penance?

It seems right though, doesn’t it?

The act of working to earn the favor of the one who created us?

But it doesn’t seem to work one bit.

I work and work, but at the end of it all I’m just one giant mess.

I work with all my might.

Only to be outshone by the Light.

What’s the point if my works can’t earn favor?

Will I ever be accepted by the Almighty Savior?

I’m the younger brother.

I run off and squander the things my Father has given me.

With Him I don’t even bother.

I just want to live happy and free.

You see, we all have this sickness; this SIN-sickness.

Pleasing ourselves, that’s our business.

Is there a cure for this black heart?

This is where we need to start.

You see, there’s this guy named Jesus.

But He didn’t come to please us.

He came to save us from our sin.

Do you know what He did? What He did when our souls were soaked with gin?

God came in the flesh and died for that sin!

Body piercing saved our lives!

He was nailed to a cross and bore that weight!

He cleared our slate!

Because of that my soul thrives.

Do you remember that brother?

That brother who with his Father wouldn’t even bother?

That son, hungry and poor, came to his Father saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called Your son.”

Humbly he came realizing that that life he lived wasn’t all that fun.

Do you know what that Father did?

He embraced and kissed His son.

His son He could not, would not rid.

To His son He did run.

It’s the same way with Jesus.

To come humbly before Him and say that we’ve sinned and that we need Him.

He says, “Come to Me in your weakness.”

Don’t get repentance confused with penance.

To work for salvation is just nonsense!

It’s not just nonsense, it doesn’t make sense!

You see, we are all enslaved to sin.

Only Jesus can set us free.

And to this I grin!

Because to true joy and freedom, Jesus is the key!

Death and the Hope I Have

Seeing death is a hard thing to come to grips with. I have seen many people whom I love dearly die and also many people who I don’t know die. Even though I don’t know these people it still breaks my heart to know that a family has lost a loved one. I write this because a little girl named Talia has passed away because of cancer. Lets be honest, cancer sucks. I have lost a best friend to cancer. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to cope with.

Death shows that we live in a broken and degenerating world. I believe that death hurts us so much is because God did not include death in his original plan for the universe and for his people, which He called good. It was after Adam ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil that death plagued the world. Not only physical death but spiritual death as well. We were separated from God. Death is not a natural thing and that’s why it hurts so much.

Whenever I think of death, I come back to John 11:35. It says, “Jesus wept.” The shortest Bible verse in the English language. In this chapter, Jesus’ good friend Lazarus passed away. Weeping is something entirely different than just crying. Weeping involves a pain so deep that all you can do is let reality sink in and try to find the path to healing. It comforts me to know that Jesus wept. He can sympathize with us when we lose a loved one. The God of the universe can sympathize with us when we lose someone. How great is that! And for those who hope in Christ and his completed work on the cross and through the resurrection we don’t have to fear death because we know that death was defeated. We are merely “asleep” until the second coming of Jesus Christ.

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55 NKJV)

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26 NKJV)

In God’s grip,
Alex

Where I’m At

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Sorry I haven’t posted on a while. Life has been happening and haven’t really gotten a chance to write anything in a while. I just want to update you guys with where I’m at in life and in my ministry.

So recently I just moved out of my parents house. It has been a trip for sure. I have been learning how to budget my money better and also I’ve been having to trust God in a new area of my life: the area of finances. It has been really tight money wise and I have never really had to trust Jesus with the provision of the things that I need. I’ve always had my parents to provide for me. It’s something that is hard, but it is also something I need to learn. Being dependent on Jesus is something that I strive for and this is offering me an opportunity to give Him more of my trust. I moved in with some Christian bros that I go to church with and that has been great. Being able to fellowship and have conversations about Jesus whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Ministry wise: I know I have expressed to you guys that I have a passion for youth and youth ministry. I have been heavily involved as a youth leader at my church and that has been amazing. Being able to connect with the kids is a blessing and being able to be a part of their spiritual growth has been a gift from God. I am also going to be taking over discipleship groups for the boys in youth this coming fall. I know I will always have a passion for youth. I have also expressed to you that I was wanting to be a youth pastor. But things have come up in my life (that I don’t care to share with you at the present moment) and I feel like that involvement in youth ministry isn’t what I originally had planned for it to be. I feel like God is calling me to something else. I believe I will always be involved in youth ministry, just not the way I had originally intended.

I need prayer. Prayer to be able to trust Jesus in all things and prayer for ministry. Specifically in the areas concerning being a youth pastor or not and leading the discipleship groups for the young guys in youth. I need guidance of the Holy Spirit and for Him to guide my steps. Thanks for reading! Love you guys.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Oklahoma and the Explosion on Twitter

Earlier John Piper posted these verses in two separate tweets:

and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. (Job 1:19, 20 NKJV)

Donald Miller said some things about it and long story short, it blew up on twitter. I’m not here to point to who is wright and who is wrong. I’m here to beg the question, “What do non-Christians think/see/feel when they see bickering and fighting amongst the body of Christ?”

It deeply saddens me to see Christians bicker and fight. I know that nobody is perfect and we will not always get along, but it’s not about us. It’s about how we are repping Christ to people and I think that when non-Christians see the disunity within the body, they don’t want anything to do with us and more importantly, Jesus Christ. And to say hurtful things on such a public forum such as twitter makes it that much worse. People all over the world can see the hurtful things we say to each other.

It’s a good thing that there is grace through Christ. Just because Christians are saved does not mean we are exempt from temptation and sin. We will screw up, pretty badly sometimes, and when that happens it’s important to remember our humanity and why Jesus came here. My challenge to you guys is to watch what you say, not only to people face to face but also over the Internet. When it comes to the Internet, I believe people are more likely to say hurtful things when they can’t see the consequences directly and immediately. For those of us in Christ, we need to be the light that He has called is to be instead of bickering and fighting amongst ourselves.

In God’s grip,
Alex

To Know You

For one so unfaithful,
You do love a lot.
Out of my idolatrous heart came desire which birthed my transgressions.
Soon there was only death.
I walked in death for what seemed a lifetime.
I no longer had the strength to exist.
I cried out, not knowing who would answer.
And there you were, waiting to pick me up.
You spread out your arms to show me grace and the abounding love you have for me.
You love me so much you sacrificed your Son to be beaten, disgraced, and mocked.
He would eventually hang on a tree and become a curse for me.
All so that I could know you.
For one so unfaithful,
You do love a lot.