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!

My Calling

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My youth group in 2011

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

In God’s grip,
Alex

You Are More

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—

In God’s grip,
Alex

“Take up your cross and follow me.”

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“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.”
-Luke 9:23-24

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.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Redemption

A few days ago, I wrote a blog talking about my struggle with pornography. After writing it, I felt like I should write a follow up post about the hope that I have in Christ.

Jesus said in Luke 5:31, 32, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” When Jesus said this, He was speaking to the Pharisees because they asked Him why He hung around sinners and tax collectors. And how awesome is that? We as a human race are sick and broken, but Jesus came to earth to love us anyway! We don’t deserve the forgiveness that Jesus offers, but because God loves us so much, He gave us grace.

Jon Acuff told a story about when one time he was at Chuck E. Cheeses (he was a kid at the time) and he saw another little boy get a big bowl of ice cream. And what he thought was the sprinkle line was really the hot dog condiment line. This little boy accidentally put mustard on his ice cream. A worker had seen this and asked if he wanted a new bowl of ice cream. The boy shamefully replied, “No thanks, I’ll just mix it in.” And he mixed in the mustard until his ice cream was a yellow mess. And that got me thinking, how often do we do this in real life? Where we are sick and broken and we just mix in the sin and shame until its a disgusting mess. Let God take your bowl of disgusting ice cream and let him fix it!

Even though my bowl is a disgusting mess, God still loves me and he is working in my life in order to fix that bowl. If you ever feel like you’re too far lost, that there is no way you could possibly be forgiven or loved by God again, that is a LIE straight from Hell! Satan is trying to rip you further and further from God. But it’s never too late for you to give your bowl to God and let Him fix it.

God loves you! No matter what you are struggling with.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
-Romans 8:37

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
-2 Corinthians 5:21

In God’s grip,
Alex

Revelation 3:14-22

 

I am writing this post upon request of on of my cousins, because he told me that this is a problem within the body of Christ that I have noticed as well. Before I get into what this post is about (although I’m sure some of you have guessed based on the graphic or have already looked up the scripture) I’m going to give a little background to what is happening in the book of Revelation.

The book starts out with the apostle John having a vision of Christ. He describes Jesus’ appearance as being dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet with a golden sash around His chest. His hair was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shinning in all its brilliance (Revelation 1:13-16). That is a pretty awesome description. After John falls on his face in worship, Jesus tells him to write down the things he is about to tell him and give it to the seven churches of Asia. Each church is told what it is doing right in the eyes of the Lord, but also what they need to change so that they can become closer to God. It is here where we get into the nitty gritty.

The last church, that of Laodicea, is not commended for having anything good about it. Revelation 3:14-16 says, ” To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Laodicea was the wealthiest of the seven cities. Despite it’s wealth, it always had problems with its water supply. At one point, an aqueduct was built to bring water from hot springs into the city. But by the time it got there it was neither hot nor refreshingly cool. The church had become as bland as the water that was brought into it. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t like to drink lukewarm water. Like it the church of Laodicea had become distasteful and repugnant. The believers were indifferent about everything and therefore became idle in their relationship with God. It’s cool to see how God can use simple things, such as an aqueduct, to help us understand how he feels.

Verses 17-19 go on to say that the Laodiceans thought themselves to be rich, not needing anything. But Jesus goes on to say that they are the exact opposite: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Jesus tells them to invest in heavenly treasure, which they can only get from him, instead of earthly treasure. To take white clothes to wear to cover their shameful nakedness. And a salve to put on their eyes so that they could see. All these are not referring to their physical attributes, because the Laodiceans were known for their wealth, dyed clothing, and salves that helped with many eye problems. Jesus is referring to their spiritual attributes. Because of all of these things that they acquired, they didn’t have to rely on God at all. You could have all the wealth in the world and still have nothing without the vital relationship of Christ in your life. God was showing the Laodiceans that true value does not come from material possessions, but from a right relationship with God. Verse 19 says that those that God loves he will rebuke and discipline, so we should repent, because God is a loving God, but he is also a just God.

Verses 20-22 say, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Jesus is constantly knocking on the door of our hearts, waiting for us to turn to him and be in fellowship with him. The pleasures of this world can make us indifferent to God. I know that I don’t want that and I pray you don’t either.

Jesus tells us that if we are neither hot nor cold he will spit us out of his mouth, just as one would with lukewarm water. I want to end off with words of encouragement. Don’t settle for following God halfway. Let Christ fire up your faith and get you into action. Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart, waiting for you to turn away from idleness and turn back to him. Will you answer?

In God’s grip,

Alex

Philippines

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God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity! This summer, June 4-18, I will be going on a mission trip with my youth group, Fusion, to the Philippines! I am really excited about this opportunity.

Here are a few facts about the Philippines: as of 2010, the population of the Philippines is 92,337,852. Most of the population is about 15-64 years old. The sex ratio for the entire population is about 1. The main religion there is Roman Catholicism, about 80%. People over the age of 15 and over can read and write. On June 12 1898 was when the Philippines declared independence from Spain and on July 4 1946 they declared independence from the U.S.

God has blessed 30 people with the ability to go on this mission trip. While we are down there we will be doing kids ministries, minor construction, and evangelizing. I pray that God does amazing things in and through us as we embark on this journey. I ask that you would pray that we could make our financial goals. We each have to raise about $2,000 for this trip. I also ask that you would pray for our safety, but most importantly, please pray that we could grow closer to God and that we could do the work He has planned for us. I thank you for your support.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

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