Sunday, December 03, 2006

Evanescent Storms

Anyone who has ever been to Texas knows that the weather fluctuates quite a bit. As a native of Texas, I have become accustomed to the drastic changes of temperature that are produced by the weather and I have learned to adjust on the fly. A perfect example of such a radical change of temperature happened this past week when the temperature went from mid 80's to below freezing overnight. I had quite a bit of work to do that day and I had decided that a little weather wasn't going to stop me from getting it done. After finishing at work, and being told that the offices were going to be closed because of the bad weather, I got in my car and drove home carefully navigating over icy bridges and around numerous wrecks. After driving what seemed double the normal amount of time, one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen took place. As I pulled into my neighborhood, the clouds parted and the late afternoon sun streamed through as if it was reclaiming it's rightful territory.

When you think about it, all storms fade away. Although they may not always be easy to deal with and they may come at inconvenient times, they don't last forever. In a letter written to Jewish Christians who were going through a "storm" of suffering, Peter explains that trials are only temporary and a faith that endures is a genuine one:
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Although a personal relationship with Christ is an extraordinary thing and provides us with eternal security, Jesus doesn't promise that we won't suffer here on earth. In fact, He tells us that the world will hate us because we love Him (John 15:18-19). However, we can know that everything we go through, whether good or bad, is under God's sovereignty and is ultimately a part of His plan for us.

When you are going through a hard time, do you blame God for not being there? Or do you make an effort to allow God to strengthen you through it? We can be sure that we will go through "storms" of trial and suffering, it's just a fact of life, but we can also be sure that these "storms" are evanescent (temporary) and that, no matter what, God is always there. For just like the sun is always right behind the clouds, so too the Son is always with us and His glory will shine through to redeem those whom rightfully belong to Him.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Not By Might

Throughout my life I have been given certain responsibilities that require a lot of work and determination in order to complete. Many times, before undertaking the work required to finish these responsibilities, I'd think to myself, "This is too hard! How am I going to do this? I'm never going to finish!" Like me, I am sure you have been given certain tasks that require you to do a lot of work as well and maybe you have even had the same negative thoughts as I have. These stressful times in our lives can end in frustration and disappointment if we forget that only by the power of the Holy Spirit can anything of lasting value be completed.

An account of an assignment that required a lot of work and determination can be found towards the back of the Old Testament. In 586 B.C., God brought the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, against the people of Judah because of their constant disobedience. Nebuchadnezzar's army destroyed Jerusalem (which is in Judah), burned the Temple of God and took the survivors from Judah as exiles to Babylon to become servants to the king and his sons (see 2 Chronicles 36:15-20). In 539 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and in 538 B.C. the exiles returned to Judah to rebuild the Temple (see 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). Finally, 50 years after its destruction (536 B.C.), the Temple's reconstruction began (see Ezra 3:7-11). However, because of their enemies' interventions, the exiles were unable to completely finish the Temple (see Ezra 4). After this, opposition put a halt to progress and there was no further work done on the Temple for over 10 years.

Through His prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, God told the exiles to resume work on the Temple. Zerubbabel (who I will refer to as Zeru for your mouth's sake), the governor of Judah, was given the responsibility of making sure the task of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem was carried out (see Ezra 3:2, 8; Haggai 1:1; 2:23). As you can imagine, the assignment of rebuilding the temple wasn't a simple task. However, through the whole ordeal, God gave encouragement to Zeru through His prophets. In Zechariah 4:6, God revealed to Zeru that the Temple would be completed "not by force nor by strength, but by [His] Spirit".

As you can see, Zeru and the people of Judah went through a time where the task they were given was humongous and the opposition was strong. Nevertheless, God was always with them and ultimately, it wasn't force, strength or any other ability given to man that completed the assignment; it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the monumental task was overcome.

When you are faced with a large project or a difficult time, do you react as if what you have been given will not be enough to make it through? Or do you rely on God to fill in the gaps of your abilities? We can and should take comfort in the fact that, as Christians, we do not have to rely on our own strengths or abilities in order to do the Lord's work. For "[God] takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love" (Psalm 147:10-11). Remind yourself throughout the day that you are not alone in the tasks that God has given you. He will prepare you to overcome what He has called you to do. All you have to do is be faithful to Him and count on His unfailing love.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Forever Hope

Pierce, my eight year old brother, is going through the stage of his life where he becomes anxious during the times when our parents aren't around. This past week my parents went on a vacation and were gone for four days. The day they left, Pierce came to me and asked, "Collin, when you were younger and mom and dad went on vacation. How did you make it through?" After thinking a bit, I looked him in the eyes and I told him that our mom and dad would give me a prize to look forward to when they came back so that I would think about the prize instead of the anxious time I was going through. I then told him that, if he could make it through the days that our parents were gone, I'd take him to get some ice cream. His face lit up and I could tell that he was already starting to feel better and was ready to take his anxieties head on.

Just like a trip to get ice cream gave my youngest brother hope and something to look forward to, so too does the prize that God offers us at the end of our days here on earth. Philippians 3:14 says, "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Paul was sharing with the Philippians that, although he had not reached perfection (verse 12), he was choosing to focus on "forgetting the past and looking forward to what [lied] ahead" (verse 13).

There is no doubt that you will go through hard times that will test your spiritual endurance, but how do you respond to these times? Do you focus on the hope you have in Christ? Or do you allow the evil one to make you feel worthless? Because we live in a sinful world, it is easy to become discouraged when trying to live our lives for Christ. We may begin to feel that what we have to offer for Christ is not worth anything or that we are not usable by Him. Although there will be times when you will feel like you've lost all stamina and you want to give up, take time to focus on the hope you have through Jesus Christ. For "though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:16b-18)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

You Snooze, You Lose

Sleeping has to be one of my favorite things. There's just something about cuddling up in a big comforter that makes me feel relaxed and safe. Sadly, because I love sleeping so much, I've found that, as I've gotten older, I have begun to sleep later and later. What used to be a wake-up time of 6:00AM for school has turned into a 10:00AM rush to get ready for the day. This may come as a shock to you, but I've found out that the later you wake up, the less time you have until the day is over. Because of this, I've found that I have to stay up later to get things done that I could have gotten done earlier. This forces me into an endless cycle of going to bed later and consequently waking up later because of the lack of sleep.

This type of cycle can wreak havoc in our lives! We begin to get less done during the day and get used to sleeping more and more. In fact, I suppose it could get so bad that, if we are sleeping while others are working then others will be sleeping while we are working and it will cause us to have to work alone! Proverbs 20:13 says, "If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!" This verse reminds us that an unhealthy balance of sleep will cause us to lose what we would have received if we were awake and working for it.

Not only does having a healthy balance of sleep allow us to get more work done, it also is important for our walks with Christ! In Mark 13:34-37 , Jesus tells us that we need to be ready for His return at any moment. As Christians, we have been called to be fishers of men for Him (Matthew 4:19). Therefore, we need to work diligently for the Kingdom of God at all times! How can we do this though if we are stuck in bed?

Do you need to work on finding a more healthy balance of sleep? Are you making the most of your day by wisely using the time God has given you? The Bible makes it clear that when we find a good balance of sleep we will benefit from it and that we need to use the time God has given us to work diligently for Him. An unruly sleep cycle can cost us our health, jobs, friendships and even make us feel so rushed that we forget to spend time with the One who allowed us to live another day! When you wake up each morning, thank God for the opportunity He's given you to use that day for Him. Then, instead of turning over and going back to sleep, jump out of bed and begin your day. Because, when it comes down to it, if you snooze, you lose.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Get Rooted

To me, one of the most beautiful things to see is a mountain side covered with trees. It's as if the mountain comes alive as the squilions of trees sway back and forth synchronized with the movement of the wind. Even more amazing is the way God has designed trees to stand as tall as they do without falling over. A tree's roots attach to the soil beneath and give the tree nutrients and stability. Not only that, but a tree's roots prevent erosion by stabilizing the soil around them and also improve the quality of water by slowing and filtering rain.

Collosians 2:6-7 says, "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." As Christians, the only reason why we are able to stand tall in God's presence is because of our decision to root ourselves in Christ. Through this decision we have been given the amazing opportunity of beautifully showing the world God's gift of His grace.

But what does it mean to be rooted in Christ? When storms come and go in our lives, if we are rooted in Christ, we will filter all that we experience through "the truth [we] were taught" by Him and allow Him to produce in us what it is He wants. There is no doubt that, because we live in a fallen world, we will face situations that will challenge our allegiance to Christ on a day to day basis. However, since Christ is our foundation, our "faith will grow strong" and we will be able to pull all spiritual nutrients that we will ever need from Him. He will provide the stability we need in order to face anything that comes our way and nothing will ever be able to snatch us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

Growing our roots in Christ isn't only a benefit for us, it also benefits those who have yet to come to Him. In a world filled with evil "erosion", we should be a constant erosion deterrent for those around us. Others should be able to tell that we are rooted in Christ by the way we act and talk. The less erosion those around us experience, the more likely they are going to be able to see the eternal benefits of rooting their lives in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Have your rooted your life in Christ? If so, are you stopping the evil erosion that plagues the world today? As Christians, we need to constantly spread our roots in Christ and allow the spiritual nutrients we receive from Him to cause an "overflow [of] thankfulness" in our lives. When we do, others will see the beauty of God's grace and they will be spurred on to check out the soil that only He can provide. As you go throughout your day, remind yourself that you are secure in Christ when He is your foundation and allow yourself to be moved by His will. Because one of the most beautiful things to God is seeing His "trees" swaying back and forth with the movement of the will of His Son.

This post was for my boy Josh.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Operation Useful

In my opinion, one of the most magnificent tools the U.S. uses is the aircraft carrier. At a length around 1,071 ft and a width of 271 ft, this “boat” is not your dad’s leisure craft. Just as impressive is the crew’s ability to keep this carrier afloat. With upwards of 5,000 people aboard, the crew must stay organized and remain at the top of their game in order to efficiently keep this bad boy afloat.

Before any aircraft on the carrier is allowed to take off, a FOD walk must be completed. During a FOD walk (which stands for Foreign Object Damage), the flight deck crew walks the length of the deck and looks for anything that isn’t tied down. According a CNN transcript, “Even the smallest piece of debris, like a screw or a tiny scrap of metal, can be sucked into an engine. The consequence could be fatal to crewmen and damaging to aircraft.”

Although the job of walking the flight deck and searching for small debris may to some seem simple, easy and a waste of time, without it there could be fatal consequences. What would happen if a flight deck crewman felt that his job of performing a FOD walk was useless and therefore decided that there was no point? If the crewmen didn’t carry out this job, the whole operation could be hindered. This job, though small, is obviously very important.

Many times, it is easy to feel that what we have to offer God is useless. But no matter how big or how small our part in God’s master plan is, the Bible tells us that nothing we do for the Lord is ever done in vain: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58). With such reassurance that what we do for Christ is never inadequate, we should never allow a feeling of insignificance get in the way of doing the Lord’s work.

Do you ever feel that what you have to offer to God is unimportant? Do you make others feel that what work they do for the Lord is not important in His eyes because of how “small” you think that work is? Just like a crewman’s job of performing a FOD walk on an aircraft carrier is important to the ship’s overall operation, so are the jobs that God has given each and every one us. No matter how small we or others view our work for the Lord, we must “be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work. [Because] nothing [we] do for the Lord is ever useless.”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Friendly Fire

Let’s say you know someone that is constantly engulfed by sin and you make an effort to gently and humbly mention to this person that, if they would just change their ways and turn to God, they would get better. However, no matter how much you try to convince this person that you want what is best for them, they still continue to do what they know is wrong and, after a while, they begin listening to the lies provided to them by those who they classify as “friends” but who are really their enemies.

These “friends”, who are not really friends at all, congregate together submerged in the same sin knowing that, because everyone is struggling with the same sin, nobody will tell them that what they are doing is wrong. Because there is no correction, there is no growth. With no growth, a Christian’s walk with Christ begins to wither.

I think one of the hardest things to hear is criticism. Nobody likes to hear someone tell them that what they are doing or the way they act is wrong. One of the harsh realities of being a Christian is that we must work at being mature enough to help keep others accountable as well as allowing fellow Christians to hold us accountable. In order for us to make sure that times of accountability don’t turn into crazy confrontations, we must do our best to remain humble helpers and gentle guiders.

The Bible tells us that it is important to confront each other in a humble and gentle manner when we are trying to keep someone accountable to Christ (Galatians 6:1) The Bible also tells us that those who accept legitimate criticism are wise (Proverbs 13:18, 15:31-32, 25:12, 29:1, Ecclesiastes 7:5). Knowing this, valid criticism based upon God’s Holy Word and not our own judgments are an important aspect of fellowship with fellow believers.

When a brother or sister in Christ comes to you in a gentle and humble way and talks with you about how you need to change a certain aspect of your daily life, how do you respond? As a Christian, are you connected with fellow believers so that you can be a part of healthy accountability? While it may be hard to hear criticism, it is important that we remain mature and remember that “wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Loyalty Through Lifestyle

It is said that, during the first century, the symbol of the fish was used as a secret code by early Christians who were being persecuted in order to identify fellow believers. These Christians would draw half of a fish on the ground when they encountered a stranger and, if the stranger completed the rest of the fish symbol, then they both knew that they were in the company of a fellow believer.

For those of us who live in countries where there isn’t any major religious persecution, we are blessed with the ability to openly express our loyalty to Christ. Many place the fish symbol known as the ICTHUS (ICTHUS is a Greek acrostic that stands for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior.") on their cars, jewelry, clothing, and even on their bodies. Such open expression of loyalty to the one who saves all who believe in Him is a beautiful thing; however, this declaration of allegiance should be just as obvious, if not more, through our actions and our lives as Christ-followers.

Galatians 5:22-25 tells us that, when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, evidence of our allegiance to and love for Christ is apparent. Such evidence includes “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. While others might assume we have these “Fruits of the Spirit” just because we wear a symbol of a fish, such fruits can only be produced by the Holy Spirit’s help in our daily lives, not through any religious symbol.

Is your Christ-like attitude and allegiance turned off when you leave your ICTHUS branded car or when you take off your ICTHUS jewelry and clothes? If someone were to meet you for the first time, would they be able to tell that you are a Christ-follower even if you didn’t have any religious symbols nearby? It should be apparent to others that we, as Christians, serve the one true God and that we actually walk the walk of the Christian lifestyle instead of just claiming to. Communicating our loyalty to God through religious symbols is awesome, but without loyalty to God through our lifestyles, these symbols become nothing more than a false fa├žade.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Beyond The Basics

I realize it has been forever since I have posted. I have had a very busy month and a half but I hope to be posting more regularly now. For those of you who are regular readers, please forgive my absence.

Imagine there is a ten year old kid taking a stab at college calculus. Let's say that, for whatever reason, this kid never attempted to expand their basic knowledge of mathematics before making an effort to understand calculus. Because of their lack of mathematical knowledge, they find it hard to understand anything that the professor is attempting to teach them. Let's now say that they were put in charge of explaining calculus to someone who was interested in learning it. At best, this kid would only be able to repeat some of what they'd heard from the professor, all the while not understanding what it was they were communicating. It would be safe to say that the person they were explaining this too would not become anymore knowledgeable about calculus than they were before. Obviously, in order for this kid to be successful in understanding and teaching more advanced mathematics, he or she would first need to be knowledgeable of, and have a grasp of, the principles of simpler math.

Just like this ten year old, there are many Christians who become either content with their basic knowledge of Christ or are unwilling to expand that knowledge. These Christians end up becoming frustrated when they try to comprehend certain scriptures or messages and, because they themselves only have a basic understanding of Christ, they are unable to fully teach others about Him.

In Hebrews 6:1a, the author writes, "So let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding." Basic understanding of a certain concept or idea is important, as it is the foundation of more advanced concepts or ideas, but, if we limit ourselves to basic understanding, we will never be able to fully understand nor teach others to the fullest. It is important that we strive to know more about Christ and equally important that we maintain the foundation of that knowledge: the basics.

Are you content with your knowledge of Christ? Do you make attempts to study your Bible and get to know more about God? While it is true that knowledge is not what brings forth our salvation, our faith should bring forth a desire to know more about our Savior. That knowledge, in turn, should compel us to become more Christ-like. And how much more Christ-like could your actions be when you know more about what Christ is like!? As you go throughout your day, make time to study God's word and ask Him to reveal to you more about Him. Don't allow your lack of knowledge to deter you from sharing Christ. Rather, strive to know more about Him so that when you do share Him with others, you will not only be able to share with them basic teachings about Christ but you will be able to help guide them as they mature in their walk with Him.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

110 Pound Sin

My sister’s boyfriend bought her a Weimaraner puppy for Valentines Day this year. This puppy started out weighing around five pounds and was small enough to be held in two hands. No matter how hard he tried, there was no way he could overpower anyone. Now, around two and a half months later, this dog—who is still considered a puppy—is just under fifty pounds and can easily walk my sister instead of her walking him. It won’t be long before my sister’s dog, whose name is ironically Maverick, will weigh in excess of 110 pounds.

About a month and half after my sister received Maverick, he had become such a handful that she knew it was time for him to realize she was in charge, not him. To do this, my sister enrolled Maverick in obedience classes so she could learn how to control him. After a couple of weeks of obedience classes, Maverick had definitely improved. He would sit when asked to and he would even shake your hand. However, there were still many times when Maverick chose to ignore my sister’s commands. Because of this, my sister has continued Maverick’s obedience classes so that one day he will be an obedient dog.

The experience that my sister has had with Maverick is similar to the experience many of us have with sin. When a certain sin is new to us, it is easy for us to turn our backs on it. But, if we continue to fall into this sin, it becomes bigger and bigger until we finally cannot escape it.

Sadly, it is human nature to continue on sinning instead of being obedient to God (Psalm 51:5). As Christians, when we find ourselves about to fall into a sin that has a hold on us, we must put ourselves through obedience classes. What do I mean by that? I mean that we need to meditate on the word of God (which will show us what is expected of us as Christians and how to live) and allow the Holy Spirit to help us overcome our unruly sins (Psalm 139:23-24). This must be a constant practice (Joshua 1:8) so that we will become better and better at defending ourselves from sin.

Do you find yourself constantly committing the same sin over and over again? Have you put yourself through obedience classes? It is crucial that we all realize that the fight against sin cannot be won by ourselves alone. We must utilize the power of the Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 3:20) and allow Him to train us to be more obedient. If we wait too long to do so though, the sins that were once only five pound sins will become 110 pound sins and they will “walk us” instead of us controlling them. Throughout your day, take time to put yourself through obedience classes and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you (John 14:26) how to show your sin who’s boss.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Satisfied Outside From The Inside

When I was in the seventh grade, one of the “cool” things the “popular” kids did when they got a headache was put a bandaid on their head. They would prance around the hallways sporting their skin-toned bandaids thinking that 1) the bandaid would really cure them from their headache or 2) everyone else would catch on with the latest trend and they wouldn’t be the only one that looked silly. Using a bandaid to cure a headache is like putting on lotion in order to stop internal bleeding—it just doesn’t work! The “popular” kids were trying to use an external solution for an internal problem.

Many times, the same is true for our spiritual lives. We ask God to provide for us things that will make us seem healthier, happier or more Christ-like on the outside instead of asking Him to help us work on who we are on the inside—which will then affect who we are on the outside. We ask for temporary outward things like new cars, more money, more friends or fame instead of asking for things that will strengthen our relationship with Christ like wisdom, discernment, contentedness, or the passion to seek Him and to do His will.

Luke 16:15 says, “Then He said to [the Pharisees], ‘You like to look good in public, but God knows your evil hearts. What this world honors is an abomination in the sight of God.’” In this verse, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that, although they seem to be good on the outside, God knows who they are on the inside and that the approval of the world is an outrage to God.

Because we live in a world where the way someone looks, dresses, talks, and who they hang out with come across as being the methods for hapiness, I’d argue that this generation has grown up believing that, in order to achieve happiness, one must appease the outside in order for the inside to be satisfied. However, just the opposite is true. In order for us to have a true and meaningful relationship with Christ, we can’t just look like we have that relationship (although, living the life is important), we must also allow God to work on us from the inside.

Do you find yourself asking God to provide for you things that only affect who you are on the outside? While God does definitely provide things for us that are temporary, if we really want to put up a defense against temptation and strengthen our relationship with Christ, we must allow Him to fix who we are on the inside. Sadly, just like the popular kids were trying to use an external solution for an internal problem, many of us focus our energy on satisfying our outward self with temporary solutions. When the outward solution wares off, we wonder and complain to God because we are left feeling empty and misled by the world’s promises. Throughout your day, ask God to help purify who you are on the inside and you will find that the outside will become satisfied.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Clear The Path

The other night I was preparing for my regular ritual of eating multiple bowls of cereal. However, this ritual was interrupted by one of the stools from the bar that just so happened to be right in the middle of the kitchen. Every time I had to move from the refrigerator or cabinets to the bar, I'd have to walk around this chair. Usually, walking around something isn't a problem. However, the space around the chair was really small and it was hard to maneuver through—especially while walking with breakables in hand. You'd think that, since I had to make multiple trips around this chair, I'd just move the chair to save myself the aggravation of dodging it during my later trips. But nonetheless, I didn't move the obstacle in my way.

My reluctance to move the chair was either brought about by laziness or pride. I was either too lazy to move the obstacle in my way or I thought that the object was too easy to overcome to even make an effort of moving it. I believe that, in a spiritual sense, many of us have this same problem. We have temptations or strongholds in our lives that cause us to stumble, yet we refuse to get rid of them in order to clear the path for the future.

This type of behavior is dangerous. If we don't work on the things that are causing our relationship with Christ to suffer, we will ultimately end up feeling aggravated and lonely. We will feel convinced that God doesn't love us because we don't feel Him working in our lives. But, when it comes down to it, the reason why we don't feel God moving in our lives is because we allow the things of this world to get in between our relationship with Him.

Are there times when you're too lazy to work on the things that are causing you to stumble? Does your pride cause you to believe that what you are struggling with is too small to make an effort to fix? God desires to be with us (John 15:16a). He gave up His own Son just so a relationship with Him would be possible (John 3:16). What are you doing to nurture your relationship with Him? Throughout your day, allow yourself to become conscious of the things that are getting in the way of your relationship with Christ and work on removing them. You will find that the more important you make Christ in your life, the more your relationship with Him will grow and the more obvious His presence in your life will be (James 4:8a).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Work Berserk? Pray Away!

It's not unusual, in this day in age, for people to pull numerous all-nighters per week just to make sure they get their work done. In fact, I myself pulled two all-nighters last week to make sure I met a deadline. Although for me this is an unusual occurrence, with the technology we have, we are able to do more in smaller amounts of time than we would have been able to do before. This, however, causes us to believe that, if we'd just grit our teeth and work a little harder, we could get even more done.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed and unappreciated with the amount of work many of us have. In fact, sometimes, in order to feel respected, we compete with others by comparing the amount of work we've completed in the little amount of time we've been given. However, I assure you, although we think we are busy, the amount of work we have is child's play compared to the amount of work that was given to Christ (Check out what Jesus says in Luke 5:23; there are way more sinners than righteous people! He was a busy man!).

Even though Jesus was constantly called upon by many and there was plenty of work to be done, the Bible says in Luke 5:16 that He "often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." You see, Jesus knew the importance of getting away from the troubles of this world by going to places of solitude and communicating with God. Jesus was showing us that, no matter how busy we think we are, we're never too busy to put God first.

God is aware of everything that takes place (Matthew 10:29-30, Psalm 139:1-16) and He knows that we can become stressed with what we have going on. In fact, the Bible tells us that God knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8)! God’s been gracious enough to provide for us 24 hours in a day. The least we can do is make time to communicate with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Are you spending too much time on worldly things and not enough time with the Creator? Has your life become a hypnotizing schedule of work then sleep, work then sleep? Be mindful that God is the maker of time and provides for those who call upon His name. Get in a habit of taking time out of your day to go away by yourself to talk with God (Matthew 6:6). By doing so, not only will you find refuge through His love from everyday strain, God will reveal to you where He wants you to be (Psalm 32:8).

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Remember To Remember

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone and right when you began to speak you forgot exactly what it was you were going to tell them? Or maybe you were going to use a word that is common among everyday words but for some reason it was stuck on the tip of your tongue? Memory is a funny thing. We know what we want to say, and we’ve been speaking since we were younger, but even fundamental things like words or phrases seem to escape us every once in a while. Sometimes the things we want to remember are forgotten and the things we want to forget stick in our minds. In fact, our memory is so funny that during times of trial we forget the many wonderful things God has done for us and the untrumpable power He possesses.

1 Chronicles 16:12 says, “Think of the wonderful works He has done, the miracles, and the judgments He handed down.” At first glance, David’s song of praise seems very simple and maybe even shallow compared to the many deep eye-openers provided by the Bible. After all, remembering what God has done for us in order to be reassured of His unfailing love seems like common sense. Nonetheless, many times we still forget that, no matter what happens, God is in control.

This verse, however, goes much deeper than remembering the many ways God has provided for those whom He loves. In the last part of the verse, David instructs us to remember “the judgments He handed down.” A great defense against the hardships of times of trials is remembering all that God is capable of, but any great defense must have an offense and remembering the standards that God calls us to meet and then following them is just that!

Do you take for granted the feelings of security produced by the thought of God’s amazing power by forgetting to follow His commands? While remembering all that God has done for us truly provides a sense of safety and a faith facelift, we mustn’t forget to follow the commands God has given us. For the love of the Lord remains forever with those who have respect for and are obedient in God’s standard (Psalm 103:17).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Who Do You Say He Is?

Imagine you are a representative of a company whose President has given you the duty of attending an important meeting with several other companies. In this meeting, your job is to convince these companies that their future relies on their decision of whether or not to merge with the company you represent. If they decide to merge, their business is guaranteed 100% success; if they decide not to merge, their business is destined to be a failure. You willingly accept the job you've been given and you attend the meeting. Everything goes well in the meeting until you begin to openly distort the image of your company and its founder. You start cussing and lying, blaming and scamming, and, because of the way you are negatively representing your company, the other companies decide that, even though merging with your company would guarantee them success, they would much rather accept their fate as a company destined for failure.

As Christians, we have been given the duty of telling others about Jesus (Mark 1:17). Our job is to get other people to accept Christ and to “merge” with the Holy-Spirit so they may be guaranteed eternity with our loving Father instead of being destined for isolation away from Him in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:41-42). Our responsibility to represent Christ well is a very important one then, since the eternities of many people rely on whether or not they accept Him. However, many Christians don’t seem to carry out this responsibility, or at least consider it important, even though we are commanded to do so!

In Luke 9:20, after Jesus finished asking His disciples who others claimed He was, He asked them who they believed He was. In response Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!” Like Peter and the other disciples, many of us have no problem proclaiming that we believe Jesus is God’s Son who sacrificed Himself on the cross so that we may live with Him forever. However, many forget that as Christians our actions have just as much, or more, impact on the way people perceive Christ. We can proclaim Christ is Lord all we want, but if our actions do not represent Him correctly, those who need us the most--the souls of those who have not accepted Christ--could be forever turned away from Him because of the way He was perceived through us.

Are the things that you say, do, or participate in good representations of Christ? Are others able to tell right away that you have Christ in you? As Christians, we are called to be set apart from the ways of this world (Romans 12:1-2). If others see a distorted view of Christ through you because of the worldly things you do, your ability to carry out the duty of bringing others to Christ will suffer. For too long, the name “Christian” has been considered just a title for those who claim it; we must all make a conscious effort of representing Christ in a way that will attract others to Him.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's What's On The Inside

Have you ever been given a box of chocolates as a present? I have and most of the time it is a great gift. However, there are certain boxed chocolates that come with assorted chocolates filled with many mysterious concoctions and you are given no clue as to which pieces of chocolate are filled with what you actually like. Each piece looks great from the outside, but when you bite into it and you find out that the chocolate has been filled with dark chocolate lemon cream with a touch of fake fruit syrup, or some other gross filling, you quickly realize that the chocolate’s outer beauty was misleading.

Like these assorted chocolates, many of us portray ourselves as highly religious and extremely moral people, but on the inside we are no better than anyone else. In fact, some go as far as to believe that, because of their “perfect” outward appearance, their path to Heaven is different than any “normal” person. In Luke 11:27-52, Jesus criticizes the religious leaders of that time for doing just that. In verse 39, Jesus says, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy—full of greed and wickedness!”

It is easy to put up a holy front without actually practicing a holy life. In fact, Peter, in 2 Corinthians 11:14, tells us that even Satan himself pretends to be an “angel of light”. But, as Christians we are called to be set apart, or holy, just as our Father in Heaven is holy (Leviticus 19:2).

Is your relationship with Christ only a front? Or are you actually working on allowing God to polish you from the inside out? If we want to live an abundant life through Christ, we must work hard at getting rid of the gross “concoctions” that are within our “chocolate shell”. In order to do so, we must constantly strive to be more like Christ by spending time in prayer and diving deep into His word. No matter how “clean” you are on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that speaks truth about the condition of your relationship with Christ.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Learn Then Do

Wow, my 100th post! I'd really love to hear from those who read thecoblog to see whether or not it makes a difference in their lives. What do you like about it? Has it impacted your relationship with Christ? What would you change? Do you have a subject you want me to write about? Do you have any friends who'd love to read thecoblog? Don't hesitate to send them a link! Thanks again! God Bless!

When I was younger, I used to race pinewood derby cars. My father and I would spend time together in the garage building, sanding, painting, weighing and testing the cars until everything was perfect. We’d check to see what the best placement of the weights was and how much graphite was the best amount. We’d even make one of the front wheels higher than the other so it would decrease the friction between the car and the track (yes, it was legal).

Not only did the relationship between my father and I grow during the weeks that it took for these cars to be built, I was also able to learn how to use the tools that were required to build them. Similarly, when we go to Church, we come together to fellowship with each other, to connect with God and to be equipped to do what we have been called by God to do.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “[Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the Church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and build up the Church, the body of Christ.”

The people who are the leaders in your Church have been given a vision from God in order to carry out their ministry for Him. According to the passage above, their responsibility is to take this vision and use it to equip people to do God’s work. Sadly, many who attend Church fail to realize why it is so important. They don’t see that when they go to Church they aren’t just listening to a sermon or singing songs, they are being taught how to use the “tools” God has given them in order to be best used by Him.

Because they don’t realize that they are to use what they’ve learned to do work for God, they begin to have a self-centered walk with Christ. By this I mean they go to Church wanting only to be fed instead of using what they’ve learned in order to feed others. This would be just like me not using the tools my father taught me how to use; if I didn’t use the tools, the cars would have come out ugly, or worse, they would have never been completed. Likewise, we must not only focus on learning more about Christ, we must use what we’ve learned at Church to improve our relationship with, and to more effectively bring other people to, Him.

Are you allowing yourself to be equipped by the messages that God speaks through the leaders of your Church? Are you using the gifts that God has given you for His kingdom, whether it’d be at your Church volunteering or witnessing to others? Just like my goal of winning the pinewood derby races required using tools that I learned how to use, as Christians we must strive to win the race that God has given us by doing what we’ve been equipped to do. Our prize, however, is not some small gold plated medal, our prize is eternity with our Creator (1 Corinthians 9:23-25).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I Showed You So

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that ultimately resulted in an “I told you so” moment? There have been many times in my life where I have given someone advice on how they need to handle a situation and, even though they wanted my advice, they chose to do the complete opposite. Many times, after the situation had passed, they’d come back to me and tell me that they wished they had followed the advice I’d given them. Sadly, many of these conversations have been with people who are not followers of Christ and they ultimately make a huge mistake that they wouldn’t have made if they would have listened to the advice I’d given them from the Bible.

Since it is God’s Word, the Bible is the source for guidance on how He wants us to live our lives. Every word that you read from the Bible is useful for learning (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and shows you how you need to live your life. God promises us that He wants what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28); all we have to do is live according to His purpose.

As Christ-followers, we already know that living our lives according to God’s will is the path to a more abundant life through Him, but the concept of living by someone else’s purpose is a hard one to accept by those who haven’t experienced the life-change Christ brings about.

Many times we try to talk with non-Christians about the difference there will be in their lives if they would just accept Christ, but our words prove to be useless in bringing them to Him. We become frustrated because we want them so badly to see that Christ is the way, but they continue to think that the message of Christ is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Proverbs 23: 9 says, “Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.” No matter how hard we try, no matter how long we hold our breathe, there are just some people who are so hard-headed that they will not listen to the loving advice we give them about Christ. It’s in these cases that we have to live a Christ-like life so that they will see the difference in us. Instead of constantly telling them that they need to accept Christ, show them the life-change they are missing out on. Show them Christ through how you act in your every day life.

If someone that didn’t know you tried to guess whether or not you were a Christian, would they be confused as to where your allegiance was? If someone had been told all of their life that Jesus was the way, yet they constantly refused to accepted Him, would the image of Christ through you be the key to the door of their heart? When our words are considered useless, we must rely on the way Christ is perceived through us to lead people to Him. Live your life according to God’s standards for you and remember that “I showed you so” will ultimately reach more people for Christ than “I told you so”.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On Track

Millions flock every year to their local amusement park to ride rollercoasters. Even though the cars on these roller coasters reach high speeds and altitudes, many ride without fear because they are certain that the cars will stay on the path laid out for them. What would happen though if these cars were to get off track? The result would be devastating; people would either be killed or badly injured. As Christians, it is just as important that we stay on track with what God expects from us.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

Sadly, many times we fall into the same sin over and over again. This proverb tells us that it is important that we look ahead and fix our eyes on what lies before us. This means that we need to be aware of our surroundings and the impact it has on our walk with Christ. Like verse 26 says, we must mark out a path to follow and then stick to it. The earlier we decide what we will do in certain situations, the more likely we will follow through with our decision.

Verse 27 warns us not to get sidetracked. It is very easy to follow the path that everyone else is following, especially since it is so wide, but it is imperative that we stay on track so that we will not conform to the evil of this world (Romans 12:2).

Do you find yourself doing what the world says is right? When you are around people who aren’t believers, do you end up doing what you know the Bible says is wrong? Like Proverbs 4:25-27 says, it is very important that we stick to the path that we are called to follow as Christ-followers. This path has been mapped out for us through God’s Holy Word so that we can live an abundant life with Christ. When we don’t follow it, our life is filled with evil and our relationship with Christ suffers, but if we follow the path, our lives will be filled with the joy of the Lord.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Get A Life

We live in a world where everyone wants to do what makes them feel good. As Christians, we know though that what makes us feel good isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. We also know that God calls us to be set apart from the ways of the world so that we may live an abundant life with Him. Even though God’s plan for our lives isn’t always easy to comprehend, we know that His plans are perfect. How though, can we come to have true life through Christ?

In Mark 8:31-38, we read of a time when Jesus taught His disciples three very important lessons about living their lives for Him. In verse 31, Jesus tells His disciples that, even though He was God’s son, He would suffer, be rejected by many, be killed by those who opposed Him, and then three days later He would rise again. In verse 32, Peter pulls Jesus aside and tells Him not to say things like that. Jesus realized that Satan had a grasp on Peter and in verse 33 He sternly says to him, “Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Just like Peter did in verse 32, there are times when we try to tell God what He can and cannot do. We want Him to bless us but we don’t want to live for Him. We claim to love Him yet we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to direct us. And we limit our loyalty to Him for times only when we feel content. As humans, our comprehension is finite (or limited) and therefore God’s ways are far beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). The first lesson on living our lives for Christ is we must learn to accept God’s authority and let Him be in control (Psalm 46:10).

In verse 34, Jesus calls together His disciples and the crowd over to listen to Him. He tells them that whoever wants to be His follower must put aside their selfishness, pick up their cross, and follow Him. What does Jesus mean by this? Jesus is giving us a second lesson on living our lives for Him. He is telling us to be selfless. Jesus wants us to sacrifice what the world has to offer and show Him our undivided love by following Him.

In verse 35, Jesus gives us His third lesson on living our lives for Him. He goes on to tell the crowd and His disciples that those who try to keep their lives for themselves will lose their lives, but those who give up their lives for His Kingdom will find true life. Our lives are not our own, we were created by God for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). If we try to rule our life, even though it is not ours, we will for sure lose it, but if we give it to God so that He may use us in order to further His kingdom, He will give us true life. Indeed we must be slaves to Christ (Romans 1:1).

Are you putting importance on the things of this world? Are you storing your treasures here on earth or in Heaven (Matthew 6:20)? In verses 36 and 37, Jesus reminds His disciples that if they try to gain the whole world they will lose their souls in the process. We must not be ashamed of Christ or the Good News He brings (Romans 1:16). If we are, Jesus tells us in verse 38 that He will be ashamed of us when He returns. As you go throughout your day, meditate on the three lessons Jesus was teaching us on how to live our lives for Him. Remember that our time in this world is only temporary (2 Corinthians 5:1) and if you aren’t living for Christ, you need to get a life.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why So Surprised?

Throughout my life, I’ve always wanted to make sure I knew exactly when and where something was going to happen, especially if I was involved. In fact, I remember going into my fifth grade class with my parents a week before school started in order to learn everything about that class so that nothing unexpected would happen. I was happy to find out that the teacher was going to write what we were going to do each day on the board. In a perfect world, everything would be like that. The future would be written down on the board and we would know exactly what was going to happen. But this isn’t a perfect world and many times the things God allows us to go through are unexpected. In fact, many times the roads God puts us on are no where close to where we thought we’d be.

After my eighth grade year, I had a humongous desire to learn how to build webpages—this was an urge that I never had before and I certainly never thought I’d ever do anything with computers. There was a problem though; in order to take a Webmastering class at my high school, you had to be a junior or a senior. My father, who encouraged me to work toward my goal of learning how to build websites, contacted the principal and asked if it were possible for me to take the class as a freshman. With some thought, the principal told my father that he would allow me to take the class but I would have to pass the keyboarding exam which was the prerequisite class for Webmastering.

At the end of my eighth grade summer, I worked hard at learning how to write business letters and mastering my skills of typing so that I could pass the exam. After much preparation and prayer, God helped me pass the exam and during my ninth grade year I was bussed from the ninth grade campus to the main campus in order to take a Webmastering class with juniors and seniors.

After my freshman year in high school, I had gained the knowledge required in order to build websites. The story doesn’t stop there though; God was not done preparing me for what He had in store. My sophomore year I joined a student organization called Future Business Leaders of America and competed against students across the nation in multimedia design. The project that I was given was to make a presentation using an animation software called Flash. Not only had I never thought about animation, I had never used this software before. It turns out that, once again with much preparation and prayer, God helped me win third in the nation.

The success that God gave me during that time spurred me to work more on my computer skills. During my sophomore, junior and senior years in high school, I worked hard to learn computer programming. With much preparation and prayer, God allowed me to pass the Advanced Placement test for computer science. At that time, I knew that I was interested in working with computers, but I had no idea why God allowed me to do what I’d done.

I am currently 19 years old and I work at Fellowship Church as the animator for their new children’s curriculum. The amazing thing is that everything that this job involves uses the skills that God allowed me to gain earlier on in my life. Because of the animation competition I did as a sophomore, the transition to the animation software I use now was extremely smooth. Because of the web work that I did in my ninth grade year and because of my previous computer programming experience, I am able to use a part of this animation software that uses the same computer programming language! If I didn’t know the programming language then I wouldn’t be able to do so many of the amazing things that this software is capable of doing! I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would end up being an animator but God knew exactly where He wanted me.

You may be thinking, “Collin, you’re just rambling on in order to brag about your success” but that’s not true. I tell you none of this in order to brag about where I am or what I’ve been through; I tell you this in order to boast of the awesome power and wisdom of our God!

When I began to realize that God had prepared me to do the job that He has put me in, I was surprised! But why was I surprised? As Christians we constantly tell ourselves and others that God can do all things, we boast to others about His awesome power and we rely heavily on His wisdom, but many times we ourselves are surprised when we see the works of God.

If we truly believe that the Bible is God’s word then there is no reason why we should be surprised when we see a display of God's power. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” I had no idea why I had the desire to learn how to build websites or to learn computer programming or even why I joined FBLA, but now I see that what I went through was God’s way of preparing me to do the job He designed for me to do.

Do you sometimes feel that what you have gone through in your life is just a jumble of different events that amount to nothing? Do you feel that the things that you have gone through in your life are in no way preparing you to do what you feel you were meant to do? Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Even though you may not know it, God has a plan for you and no matter the situations you are currently in, no matter where you live or what you know, when the time is right, God will place you where He wants you to be. Live your life for God, work at everything as if you were working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23) and when God’s plan for your life is revealed to you, don’t be surprised by how much God has prepared you to do what He has entrusted you to do.

Friday, January 20, 2006

On Guard

The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy and I haven’t been able to post as much as I would have liked. Fortunately, I am glad to say that the busyness has come to an end for a while and you can look to see posts closer together in the future. For those of you who read my blog every chance you get, I am sorry that it has been so long since the last post. Thank you to all who prayed that I wouldn’t be too stressed with my workload; God has definitely been with me as the amount of work that I’ve had has been, at times, overwhelming. God Bless!

A long time ago, there was this cat that showed up in our backyard. Even though we already had two cats, my Mom, being the wonderful and caring person she is, decided that we were going to keep it. Out of the three cats that currently call our house home, Annabelle was the first, Bob was the second, and the third—the one that showed up in our backyard—was Sadie. One thing that you will notice if you watch Bob for a while is that he is very territorial (he’s the only male cat we have) and he doesn’t like it when Annabelle or Sadie get around him. Annabelle won’t put up with Bob’s shenanigans so Bob won’t mess with her much, but in Sadie’s case, she has to be on constant guard in order to know where Bob is. She knows that if she lets her guard down, Bob will corner her and pounce on her.

The life that Sadie has experienced in our household is one much like the life of Christians. When we first accept Christ we are placed in His family which brings feelings of love, joy and belonging. What many soon realize though is that the Christian lifestyle, as amazing as it is, brings times of trial and suffering as well. The truth is that as Christians, we are in a war with Satan and the demons that were cast out of Heaven with him. These times of trials are tough, but they are God’s way of giving us the opportunity to grow in our walk with Christ and to strengthen our reliance on Him. We must constantly be on guard against Satan’s ploys; he is always on the prowl in order to destroy our relationship with Christ. (John 10:10).

When Bob chases after Sadie and corners her, she will usually start to scream. It’s at these times that we run after Bob yelling and clapping so that he will leave Sadie alone. Because we are bigger, stronger and smarter than Bob, we are able to scare him away so that Sadie will be safe. The same is true with the wonderful God we serve! When we accept Christ and believe sincerely in our hearts that He rose from the dead after dying on the cross for our sins, we are guaranteed life in Heaven with Christ forever (John 5:24, Romans 8:1-2)! The power of Satan and all of his demons doesn’t even come close to being as powerful as God; it can’t really be compared!

Are you conscious of the fact that Satan wants so badly for you to fail? Do you feel that you have no chance of standing up against his evil plans? It is very important that as Christians we are aware of the fact that Satan wants to destroy our faith, but at the same time, there is no need for us to be afraid! We serve an amazing God who is more powerful than we can comprehend; even demons believe in Him and they tremble because of it (James 2:19)! Dive deep into God’s word and build your relationship with Him; the more you know about our Creator, the easier it will be to stay on guard against Satan’s attacks.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Don't Forget

After my senior year in high school, most of my friends went off to colleges that were out of state. I always enjoy getting to see them again when they come into town because I am reminded of the many qualities that make each of them unique. I find that the longer I am away from them, the more I forget about how funny they are, what they sound like, and sometimes, because I go so long without seeing them, the picture of them in my mind’s eye becomes blurry. Because we are humans, there are times when we will fail. When we sin, we separate ourselves from God and, when we constantly sin against Him, it is easy to forget who He really is.

The kingdom of Judah experienced this exact same thing. In Isaiah 1, we read of a vision given to the prophet Isaiah concerning the rebellious nature of Judah. In verses 2-3, God says:

The children I raised and cared for have turned against me. Even the animals--the donkey and the ox--know their owner and appreciate his care, but not my people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.

As you can see, the people of Judah had turned their back on God for so long that they no longer recognized Him nor appreciated His care! Because the kingdom of Judah continued to sin, they cut themselves off from God’s help; their rebellion against God constantly invited the punishment for their sins (verse 5) and the country lied in ruins (verse 7).

In Isaiah 1:10-15 wee see that God was not happy with the sacrifices that were made by the people of Judah. This was because their sacrifices were only outward expressions without inward faith. Isaiah 1:16-20 shows us the command from God to Judah to turn from their sins and to seek Him. God lets them know that, even though they were stained with sin like scarlet (which is a deep-red permanent dye that is virtually impossible to remove), He could make them as white as snow if they would obey Him. However, if they chose to turn away from Him and refused to listen to His instructions then they would be destroyed.

Do you feel like you have been so far from God for so long that you have forgotten who He really is? Like Judah, we have all had times in our lives where we have strayed from God and His will for our lives. This passage reminds us that, if we turn from our sins and obey God’s instructions, He will come near to us. However, the longer we turn our back on Him, the more we will invite punishment into our lives for the evil deeds we do. To truly experience who God is and the love He provides, we must indulge ourselves in a relationship with Him and strive to do what He instructs us to. Don’t allow sin to cause you to forget the wonderful things God is capable of doing in your life.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Follow The Light

For Christmas in 2005, my family and I went to College Station, TX to spend some time with my aunt’s family. A while back they got a new dog named Duke and, when we go to visit, we enjoy playing with him. Duke is a two year old black lab and he could be considered a perfect candidate for animal Attention Deficit Disorder. One of his favorite things to do is to chase around a laser beam and try his best to pounce on it. Wherever the laser goes, so does Duke and, when we try to put the laser away, Duke will gnaw at the drawer and try to get it back out.

Like Duke, we all choose to be led by something. Sadly, many people choose to follow money, drugs, sex, etc. because they feel that it will guide them to the most abundant life. The only problem is that any satisfaction we get from worldly things is only temporary (Matthew 6:19-21). As Christ-followers though, we can rest assured that God’s plan for our lives is perfect, even though the Christian lifestyle isn’t always easy.

The true path to joy that only God can provide is revealed by the light that God’s word provides. The Bible says in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Just like Duke was following the light from the laser, if we want to live a truly abundant life, we must go where God’s light (the Bible) leads us. The more we follow the path that God paves for us, the more we will yearn to look to it for guidance—just like Duke when he’d gnaw at the drawer in hopes to be able to follow the light again.

Do you find yourself following things that are of this world? Do you look to God’s word for guidance? The road we’ll travel is not always easy to understand, but as Christ-followers we can rest assured that our Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 20:24); all we have to do is follow the Light. Look to God’s Word—the Holy Bible—for guidance; “do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5b-6).