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)
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.
I just wanted to share with you guys what God has been doing in my life and just some of the different passions He has given me over the past few years and the ones that I have recently discovered.
I’ll start off with my passions first. Growing up in an amazing youth group has given many chances to go on mission trips. Now when people think of mission trips, they usually have the stereo type of either Mexico or some distant country on the other side of the world. I have been to Mexico as well as Haïti, Ecuador, and The Philippines. But I have also served missions in Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California. My youth pastor wanted us to know that there was need in other countries but also in our own back yards as well. It was on these missions (local, out of state, and out of country) where I developed a passion for the broken, the lost, and the needy.
The most recent passion that God has given me is a passion for youth, which is also tied into my calling. I feel God is calling me to be a youth pastor. I think that one of the most important times for building faith is in Jr. High and High School. If kids have a strong foundation in Christ during these years, they will be less likely to brush their faith under the rug or abandon it completely during college. To be able to shepard youth would be a huge responsibility, but also a great honor and pleasure. I have recently joined my church’s youth group as one of the adult leaders. Baby steps, right? So I invite you to pray with me and for me as I persue this passion and calling.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
This is for anyone who is struggling with sin in their life. Rest in the fact that there is nothing you could ever do to separate yourself from the love of God. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, are doing, and are going to do, God will always love you. Period. If you don’t believe in God, this amazing Grace can be yours. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He was tortured to show how much he loves you. You just have to believe in the sacrifice He made on the cross and that he defeated death, and you will be forgiven and set free from your chains of bondage to sin.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
John 3:16-17 NIV
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Galatians 4:7 NIV
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Romans 6:6 NIV
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
This is a simple, yet powerful statement. To deny ourselves daily and pick up your cross daily. We must become accustom to principals of self-denial and patience. If we indulge our ease and appetite, it will be harder for us to bear toil, weariness, and need for Christ. In life we meet many “crosses” that can get in the way of following Christ. For me personally, some of those crosses have been struggles with pornography, issues with trusting God’s plan for my life, and allowing myself to be influenced negatively by those around me. Even though we don’t have to take these burdens alone, for Christ is for us and if he is for us who can be against us? But we are called to take up these crosses as they are put in front of us and follow Jesus.
The second part to this passage is pretty important as well. “For whoever would save his life will lose it…” And basically what this is saying is that by trying to preserve your life by filling it with earthly things that you hope to be remembered, you will have denied Christ and his truths. And by doing so you will have lost something infinitely more important than your possessions or property; your precious soul.
“…but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” If you lose your life for clinging to Christ, you will have gained something far better than material possessions and that is you shall have life again. A new and eternal life.
Are you prepared to deny yourself daily and take up the cross of Christ and follow him with all you’ve got? It can be difficult at times but if God brought you to it, he’ll bring you through it.
My youth group and I recently went on a mission trip to San Francisco this past October. I love these inner city trips because it is not only helping others, but these kinds of trips really open eyes to how much poverty and need is in our own country (for those of you who are American anyway).
Some of the things we did were: work at various food banks, working at the Rescue Mission, doing a few prayer walks, and kids ministries. One child ministry we went to was called King’s Club. It is one of the only after school programs that incorporate Christ into its daily activities. King’s Club is a place for K-12 kids to hang out in a safe environment after school. The people that run the club help the kids with their homework and various other things, as well as helping them get to know their Saviour, Jesus Christ. The day we were there we played with the children and helped them with their homework. A few kids from our group led VBS for the little ones while a friend of mine, Rachael, and I led worship for the teenagers. I also gave my testimony while we were there.
One experience that I wanted to share with you guys is how my group met a woman named Monica. We had bought some things at a convenience store to make sandwiches and such and we were looking for a person in need to have lunch with. We had been walking around for a while and we weren’t getting much in the Spirit in where God wanted us to go. We walked by a woman and she asked us if that was food in the bag we were carrying. Our leader, Laura, and I exchanged glances and we knew that this was the person God wanted us to have lunch with. So we told her that it was food and that we would like to have lunch with her.
After eating a few sandwiches, we started to talk to Monica a little bit. We learned that after her parents separated, she ran away to San Francisco and had been there ever since. After talking for a bit we headed back to where we were to meet afterwards, leaving Monica with the remaining food. It was amazing to see how God had led us to this woman with just a simple, “Is that food in your bag?”. It reminds me of a few Bible verses. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40 NIV).
That’s how I think that we should treat others, the way we would treat Jesus.
Heaven, it’s the place where the people that believe in Jesus Christ go after they die. My perception of Heaven has changed a lot over the past 10 years in which I have grown in my walk with God. One question I had when I was younger was, “What do you have to do to get into Heaven?” The scenario that always popped into my mind was after dying, I was at the gates of Heaven and Jesus was standing before me. He pulls out a scroll, unrolls it and it just keeps going and going. He read to me all the good and bad things I had ever done, and that if I had done more good than bad, that would get me into Heaven.
Looking back on this, I can see how flawed my vision of what Heaven was and how to get in. Now that I have matured in my faith I can see how far I have come in my walk with God as well.
Jesus was fully God and fully man. He came to earth to teach, heal the sick, cast out demons and such. But these were not the only nor the most important reasons He became flesh. Jesus came to die a sinners death so that we would not be separated from God the Father. Jesus died the death that we should have and gave whoever believes in him eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. He makes it very clear that there is no other way to Heaven except through Him. Jesus also said, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:33. Saying this, Jesus is seeing who are true believers. ” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10.
The resurrection is just as important as the crucifixion. How can someone who is dead be a saviour? They can’t save anyone! This is why the resurrection is so important. How could Jesus save anyone if He was dead? He could not.
The Bible clearly states that it is by grace that we are saved, not works. That if you believe wholeheartedly that Jesus came to this earth to die your death, then you are saved.