30
July
2012

Giving for Ourselves

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

We’re so full of ourselves, aren’t we?

We think,

Ooh man, I gave to this-and-this cause, I’m pretty good”, or

I sure am doing a good thing and being faithful”, or

Man, I give such a nice amount of money as a tithe”, or

I paid my tithe at my church—I’m a really faithful person”, or we think,

I spent time volunteering time and money to this other charity or church—I am blessing someone else a lot.

Leave it to us to pervert something as innocent and positive as donating our own resources, and twist it into something about which we GLOAT or PUFF UP ourselves.

It really is uncanny how selfish we are—everything always comes back to US *rolleyes*.

How bout this, though—if there is an omnipotent God of the universe, Who is supreme—then I’m just guessing—*more than likely* He doesn’t somehow ~nEeD~ you. Just sayin. Now I know we could branch off into a whole ‘nother theological discussion about “Why God made us if He didn’t need us~” and all that jazz that’s been debated and discussed ad nauseam already. Not the point here. So anyway, BACK TO the point. One interesting take on it is the following:

There’s a part in the Bible where the Israelites were getting started as a people group, and God was giving them their rules of conduct, and just setting them up, and whatnot. God tells it to a certain Israelite, Moses, and Moses is supposed to tell everyone else about it. So around all that, Exodus 25:2-3 says,

Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for Me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me. And this is the offering which you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze.

Seems kind weird, huh? God says,

Make them do an offering, but it’s only whoever’s hearts is prompted that they have to give it to me.

WWEEE are the ones that get all caught up in the dollars and cents of giving. But maybe it isn’t about the *actual* gift itself that is given to God? Maybe God doesn’t need the money. Maybe God doesn’t need the blood offering. Maybe God doesn’t somehow NEED our tithes. Imagine that.

Perhaps it is for our OWN good, and perhaps it is something that is meant for US when we give..? Who are we to think we can somehow give God resources that He couldn’t otherwise get? God is not a “Cause” like the thousands and thousands of other causes that are always vying for our attention. He’s going to have His will and His way no matter what.

The point is—are we going to be a part of it? And is our act of offering something to Him meant to spark something in US and not somehow meet a need of the omnipotent God Almighty that He somehow couldn’t otherwise get?

Here’s the thing—God don’t need ANY of us, ok? He is GOD. He’s gonna get done His will on this earth. Like honestly, stop puffing up yourself and thinking you are just so good—you cannot somehow “help God”.

The Christian faith is not about somehow roping in as many unsuspecting humans as you can get, and making them somehow think like you. Don’t be such a Socialist in trying to make everyone “the same”. I have my suspicions that the American Evangelical Christian church has business-ized the Christian faith too much and has made it sound like we’re just trying to “get as many converts as we can so we can get a bunch more money and tithes coming in” and run it too much like a business. But that shouldn’t be the focus and shouldn’t be the point. And that’s coming from ME—someone who sees the value in business, Capitalism, planning, strategizing, budgeting, etc. etc. I went to business school, I’ve worked my whole life—I see the value in it all. But no, it’s—it’s too much in American Evangelical Christian churches—it’s not about cash flow month-to-month and sheer growth for the sake of growth. It’s *not* about these things.

Another part of the Bible even says it flat-out—it says you should be a cheerful giver when you give your money to stuff (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). If it was all about the bottom line, the Bible wouldn’t say it that way. The Bible—meaning, the certain author that was writing that certain passage—would’ve said something like, “Just make sure the money is given, regardless of the person’s heart intent.

But it doesn’t say it that way.

Now if the Bible bothered to mention the heart intent and internal condition behind your giving your money to the church, my thought is, it is a valid thing to address and identify your heart intention behind giving; the focus it not left solely to the actual resources themselves that you give.

Furthermore, it is my point that it is not only the person/church/cause to which you are giving that is meant to be edified and helped—maybe it is for YOU, the GIVER. Maybe YOU are supposed to learn something through it all. THAT is the point.

And additionally—think about it, when you’ve given things to other people in your life when you have done it out of free will and because you wanted to—it feels good, doesn’t it? It is a truly fulfilling thing. But not only just the fact that it “feels good when you give to someone else” (which is true)—but you really *can* learn lessons through doing it.

Well that’s the way it is with God! That’s the reason it ties in with the Scripture where Jesus Christ Himself says, “When you’ve done something for someone on earth, you’ve done it for Me.” (Matthew 25:40) It’s all the same thing. It’s all about love. Showing love to others directly affects your relationship with God because He loves them with the same perfect and unyielding love that He loves YOU. We’re all connected, as His children and His humans—whether ya like it or not.

Think about it.

Started on July 30th, 2012; 5.20-ish PM

Finished on August 4th, 2012; 8.25-ish PM

—Travis J

 


17
July
2012

Little by Little

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

How dare we?

We want stuff now! Wait wait wait wait—what? We have to WAIT for things sometimes..? Um no—don’t  think so. I’m gonna need the end result NOW.

Microwavable dinners

Get rich quick

Pay your bills online

Next-day shipping

Fast food

Now now now—NOW!

Why do we do that..?

Now about this topic, most people will just say the usual rant about “How dare we think we can get everything now? Patience is a virtue, let’s be more patient, have more faith, and wait.

Mmk blog’s over, thanks for readin! Cool story, bro.

NOT!

That’s a good lesson, and certainly a lesson that most of us have heard before in SOME form or fashion. You’ve either watched a movie and they’ve said it, heard it at church, your parents or someone in authority told you—or SOMEWHERE along the line—you’ve heard that same lesson of, “You can’t just have everything now—you have to wait.” And like I say—it’s a good lesson, and it’s true.

Sometimes it just doesn’t stick though—we don’t remember it. We get caught up in wanting things instantly, and this lesson is just not enough. Like for instance—when you know that the outcome of something is already going to be a certain way, it’s like, what’s the point of going through the motions and wasting a lot of time..? It’s tempting to just think, “Let’s just do the end result.”

Well, if you stick with that logic 100%—you’d never watch a movie! You’d just go around watching the ends of movies all the time, and have no build-up. That’s no fun. There’s no journey. You then eliminate the whole premise of going to a movie—for FUN, for a JOURNEY of sorts.

Now that’s absurd! As results-oriented of a person as I am, I’m realizing that life’s not all about the bottom line, the end goal, or the objective-at-hand! Sometimes, it’s about the journey that gets you to where you’re going. You’ve heard the old cliché/adage—“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” I don’t generally like clichés, but I think that one’s got some truth to it.

Just look at Exodus 23.29-30. In this context, you see where the Israelites are now sort of coming into their own as a people group—God’s giving them laws, giving them some land, just getting them set up and whatnot. In these two verses, God’s letting the Israelites know that He’s going to take obstacles out of their way that hinder them from being their own, free people. But look at the exact quote of what God says,

I will not drive them out before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased and possess the land.

That’s kind of eye-opening to me. Because to me, in my mind, I think, “Well, if you already know what needs to happen, let’s just rush in and do it!” But that’s not right. I have to check myself. It’s not ALL about the end result. And BONUS, in these verses, God gives the “WHY” behind the reason He says, “Wait, it’s not gonna be all at once, it’s gonna be little by little—because the wild animals would multiply against you.”

Now, here in our real lives in these times in which we live, I’m not saying you’re going to be torn apart by wild animals if you’re not patient 😛 . But the point is—there is a method to the madness. You need to wait and to be patient because you know why? The things you are going to learn, and the things through which you are going to go are going to be better for you in the end than if the end goal were to just happen instantaneously.

Oftentimes in life, there is a process that must play out in sequence before things happen. (This makes it sound like I’m trying to jump into a predestination/free-will debate—NO! Do not allow your mind to go there! That is NOT the point here!) The point here is that sometimes we need to be aware that we need to go through the process because it is actually the process that is just as important as the end goal that ends up happening. We learn things, we grow, we are challenged through the process; and all of that gets us ready for OTHER things beyond merely that “end result” with which we’re always so encumbered.

You can make the comparison to any number of things. Think about it—schoolwork. Sure if you were to cheat on an assignment or get someone else to do it for you, maybe you end up with a good grade. That’s what matters, right? Getting that grade on that one assignment? Let’s just get that end result—who cares about the actual PERFORMING the work as long as you get the grade. The thing about it is, perhaps doing that work and going through that process rather than just instantaneously arriving at that end result is what is going to be strengthening you the most for what comes AFTER that “end-goal” of a grade. See there’re these evil little devils called EXAMS. And it’s a funny thing about exams—usually you’ll realize that if you’ve taken shortcuts to get the nice little end-result “good grades” on all these papers or assignments down the line—it ain’t gonna be so pretty when you try to take that exam. You are going to suck, haha. You are going to be in trouble.

And that’s just one example, but do you see what I mean? Many times it’s the process you go through that is what’s need most, rather than just that perceived “Finish line” we always make out, with stuff.

“Well why, God?! WHY do I have to go through these hard times?! How could this happen!? Why should I even be DEALING with this certain thing in my life?! Why can’t this thing that’s troubling me just go away!?!?! I just need to reach the end goal of RELIEF from these troubles.”

It’s not just that end result. It’s that journey. Perhaps you need to be strengthened. Perhaps you need to learn something that will better equip you for something else down the line.

God is a logical God—we are logical beings and we were made in His image. Read through the Bible—you’ll find that the ENTIRE way through the book, things are explained “WHY”. Both sides of the equation are done. It’s airtight.

The only thing that’s missing is our execution of the things we read in there. Let us not forget them. Let us take verses like these ones in Exodus 23.29-30 and let us remember that instantaneous may not be the way God works all of the time. And you know what, whatever comes our way, that is ok. If you know Him and are a child of His, you don’t have to worry that things aren’t happening instantaneously.

—Travis J

Started on 7/17/2012

Finished on 8/1/2012, 1.00-ish – 2.00 AM-ish

 


13
July
2012

Sometimes stop praying and DO, Exodus 14.15

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

Whether you’re a Christian or not, you can appreciate the topic of this blog—which is Prayer.

And when I say that, I *don’t* mean to state in relativistic terms that somehow,

Oh this truth is just as valid if you think about prayer’s being just ‘meditating’ or something, and you don’t think that prayer is to the Almighty God of the universe—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—is real or valid.

I won’t ever be relativistic with my faith where I identify a principle or a point about my Christian faith and somehow state that “This principle is the Christian VERSION of a certain principle, and every other religion and philosophy has its own VERSION of this given principle”.

Now, I *do* think on a principle level with things in life, and I *do* believe that there are certain principles that ALL sorts of religions and philosophies promote that reflect the same principles that God the Father relayed to us through Jesus Christ. And so what that means is that lots of times, there are incredibly good principles and statutes that you can find in all sorts of OTHER religions and philosophies besides just Christianity—I don’t have any problem with admitting that. Truth is truth. Now all that having been said, what I said before still echoes—I’m not just going to compartmentalize Christianity and my faith in God to be “just another religion” in a set of any number of other religions from which anyone can choose, all equal in validity or truth. Sometimes you find identical principles across various religions, but even though that’s true, a relationship with Jesus Christ is the main thing that matters, whether you call it a “religion” or not, and whatever other stuff you believe in ADDITION to the relationship with Jesus Christ or not.

But I’m not here to play that game in this post. The purpose of this blog is not all of that stuff about “the Christian faith” as whole. Since I’m starting to chase too much of a rabbit trail right now, let’s get to the issue at hand—prayer. All of that nearly un-related prologue aside, here’s the real point of this blog:

Sometimes you need to stop praying about something, get up, and DO. You’re prayed up, you know the answer (or you *kinda* know the answer), and it is now time for you to just DO; to get up and DO.

And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.’

That’s Exodus 14.15.

Whether you are a person who’s been a Christian and been on your hustle with your faith for a lot of your life and sought the Lord and His truths as you should, or whether you are a new Christian who has cried out to the Lord: you need to learn this, take it to heart, remember it, and act upon it.

So often we’re told that we just need to pray more. And that’s a good thing—and it’s true! The Lord God wants a relationship with us, so certainly we need to communicate with Him. He wants every one of us on the planet, and He wants us all individually, and He wants us completely.

Another reason we pray is not just because we realize that since we are in a relationship with God, prayer is one way of communicating with Him; but also, so often we recognize our own limited ability and our own humanity, and we just get floored and confused sometimes. We get to a place where we’re like, “Man, I am at the end of my rope, and I don’t know what else I can do…” and we pray.

And these are good reasons to pray, too—keep it up.

But lots of times, we SUBSTITUTE acting with praying. INSTEAD of taking action, we pray. In all of this bombarding we get from our churches and our friends that encourages us to “Pray more” (which, again, is not a bad thing in and of itself), we’re not told enough that sometimes you already know what needs to be done, and so you should DO it instead of praying about it. Here’s two examples. I’m sure you could think of more reasons why sometimes action is better than prayer. But here’s two:

Sometimes you’re so prayed up about something that you’re so aware of the situation and all of its different aspects and angles—few people know the situation in its entirety better than you do. This certain situation is on your mind, and so you’re thinking about it all the time. And you’re thinking, “Well if I do this-and-this, then that-and-that will happen.” You’ve gone over it over and over in your mind again and again, and you continue to do so. Whenever you find yourselves in situations like this, sometimes you need to go ahead and take an action. Something is wearing on you that it is the thing you need to do. But you don’t do it. You’re scared. You’re scared that the results of that action are gonna hurt.

Or the other reason that you pray INSTEAD of taking an action is because you wonder if the certain action is even the right thing to do. You think to yourself, “Well, really, I’m not 100% convinced that this is the right action to take.

And like I said, you could probably think of more reasons why praying instead of acting is bad.

I just will say that many times, we *DO* know what the correct course of actions is, yet due to fear of whatever, we do not act on it. We say, “Oh we’ll pray about it.” And that’s a cop-out sometimes. And honestly, as you learn and grow, as you collect more wisdom and let God continually form and shape your mind, you will see more and more times in your life where you will be faced with decision-making and you do NOT have to pray because you know Him, you know His principles, His character and nature; and as you’ve seen Him work in your life, you will increasingly be able to readily identify the correct course of action to take or the correct decision to make without having to spend as much time in prayer. And you will realize how at peace you are with such decisions you make even without prayer—you *can* be confident in them. They *can* be Scriptural, rational, and the most loving thing you can do—which is all how you wanna live your life ^_^ . Living those ways brings you the most liberty in your life, honestly. Oh, you already have the supreme amount of freedom you can have—you *are* THE decision-maker of your life, that’s true. But there are certain decisions you make in your life that can bring you a higher level of liberty than other decisions you can make in your life.

And see now I’m gonna have everyone upset, saying, “Oh Travis is so arrogant and he’s trying to tell us all to be arrogant—not thinking prayer is necessary.” Again I tell you, I am *not* saying prayer is unnecessary. I have seen the power of prayer in my own life—particularly through a somewhat-recent family tragedy that turned upside-down my family. So I’m not downing prayer. I’m not somehow sayin, “Eh, get strong in your faith and don’t worry about prayer.

Get up and DO. No one else can do it for you. YOU have to.

–Travis J

Started on 7/13/2012 and 7/19/2012, 4.30-ish PM

Finished on 7-22-2012, 12.30 AM

 


12
July
2012

True Nature of Love? Letting People Choose

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

So many people get caught up in the question of free will–that is, whether each one of us as individuals, has free will over our lives and calls all the shots, etc. On the one hand, people say,

No no no, everything that happens in life is pre-planned.

And then on the other hand, people say,

No no no, it is *totally* up to us–we all have the final say in our own lives.

And the opinions on both sides have the arguments that say, “Well, we’re all ultimately just a product of each one of our own our environments, and one’s actions are strictly a function of each one of our own’s environments.” and then opinions like, “Well, we may be INFLUENCED to act a certain way by our environment, but we ultimately always have a say in whether we act on such things or not.

So all that is all that. I’m not here to play that game today. The deep questions like that are boring to me, because theologians and scholars argue for and against these types of questions all the time, and neither side will ever reach a conclusive point that is universally accepted as truth. So in that sense, to me, it’s boring to engage in those conversations.

HOWEVER, it’s interesting to know about such debates and to get you thinking about life. And as far as this particular debate goes, about free will, for all of the people that think God is just an overbearing father figure up in the sky controlling everything, passages like Exodus 13.17-18 are pretty interesting because they are strong evidences that God leaves stuff to US, as people.

At this place in Exodus, God’s just taken the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, and the Israelites are currently traveling to the new place where they will live. Now, whatever movies or media we’ve seen about this story–guarantee it doesn’t accurately portray just HOW MANY people we’re talking about, here, that comprised ALL of the Israelites–this was a ton of people about which we’re talking. But I digress.

Anyway, this chapter 13 of Exodus and verses 17-18 are pretty interesting because we are taken into God’s psyche–we’re seeing God’s thought process. YHWH, the name of the “Big-Mr.-Bearded-Man-In-The-Sky” that we all call “God”. Yeah, His NAME is “YHWH”, which, translated, means “I am”. Meaning, He exists as an Independent Variable (for all of you nerds out there like me), meaning He stands alone. His existence relies literally on *nothing* else. Yeah, we’re taken into His MIND. That fascinates me. These verses (Exodus 13.17-18) show how God thinks. And like I was saying, at this point in Exodus, God had just taken the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and was leading them to a new land, and so they were traveling. These verses are interesting because basically God thinks to Himself,

You know, I *could *take the Israelites this-and-this direction because it would be be a shorter route, but honestly, if I take them that way, they may get into war with some other nations, and then they’ll want to return to Egypt, and that is not what I want for them. So I’ll take them another way.

That’s incredible, to me. See–He indirectly states that He is going to ultimately leave the CHOICE of whether or not to return to the Egyptians up to them, to the Israelites! He didn’t just MAKE them choose the decision to remain out of Egyptian slavery, He states that, “They might want to [return to slavery into the Egyptians] and, I don’t want that for them.” This suggests that God does *NOT* just function as a puppeteer sitting up in the clouds somewhere making everything happen in life. That is, He did not just force everything to happen way back in the days of the Israelites, and then fast-forward to our times here today–my sitting here TYPING this blog, and your sitting there READING this blog–He does not sit up there and just function as a puppeteer and control everything. We DO have free will.

One of the reasons these couple of short verses where we see God’s thought process is so incredible to me is because in the chapters preceding these, we saw God do some crazy, HUGE things–some would say miraculous things. His power is undeniable, and His absolute reach and abilities unquestionable, His abilities are sovereign and omniscient. Now, it’s just incredible to me that whether God has the power or not to step in and control events (I tend to think that He *does*), He chooses not to. He leaves it up to the discretion of the Israelites. He leaves our lives up to our own discretion. Surely He is looking down on us, often, and wants to just make us choose the best course of action because He knows best, and He absolutely and supremely loves us. But He doesn’t–He lets us choose. Those are the rules of love–you WANT people to CHOOSE to love and to act a certain way, you don’t want to just force them to. Otherwise, it ceases to be love. That’s how your God works.

To me, that’s incredible.

–Travis J

7/12/2012

12.00-ish PM


09
July
2012

You Can Be Confident

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith,stream of consciousness/random

Genesis 49.20a, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…

You can rest in that. You can rest in that promise and you can be confident in that promise–you can rest in the same principle as this one, as it is also found in Romans 8.28. You are a child of God, and no matter what happens, you can be confident in this promise. Whether someone’s ill actions toward you bring you down, or whether random acts of this fallen world bring you down–you can rest and be confident in these promises.

–Travis J

7/9/2012

7.15 PM-ish


08
July
2012

We’re *ALL* Subject to Fall

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

So one of the craziest things we, as people, can do, is get so wrapped up in the high status that we assign to other people, that we begin to think they are perfect or could not possibly do any wrong, etc. etc. Like for instance, when you see someone in a position of power, over time, it just sort of becomes a “That’s just the way it is” mindset that we hold, for them—that’s just sort of the “Way we see them”, and we eventually get to a point where we don’t really question it or anything. It’s just, “the way it is”. Or similarly, when we read the Bible, we see these big and well-known quote unquote “Bible characters”, and we read and hear these stories of their great faithfulness, there in the Bible. And we get the same old stories quoted at us, and we see “how FaiThfUL tHEy wEre, anD WhY am I aS chRiSTian nOT aS FaiTHFul As THeSe epic BiBLE hEroEs??~

Well lez-be-honest, if ya do a little scanning in the Bible, there were times that these great heroes of faith did some STUPID things. After they did all their big heroic-Bible-antics that show great faith or whatever and got blessed of God or whatever, oftentimes, after all that, they went on to doing some little things and big things that were just stupid, and that showed lack of faith. Examples to follow, later in this brief blog post..

We see a few examples in the Bible people whom God ACTIVELY blessed, and HIGHLIGHTED, and GIFTED, and they were people with whom God had an active, vibrant relationship. Yet, they still acted out of emotion and did some pretty stupid things sometimes. One example is Jacob/Israel in the Old Testament. Real quickly, if you were to read the few verses in Genesis 42 – Genesis 43.15, you see an example of what I’m talking about.

Now, in the chapters in Genesis that lead up to chapter Genesis 42, you’re sort of seeing, just, the history of the patriarchs of the Bible, and how God set up the beginnings of His relationship with mankind and his designating the Hebrews as His people, and how God intervened and took care of Abraham and has family, and then his son Isaac and HIS family, and then Jacob/Israel and HIS family; it all shows how God was active in the lives of those people, the people He has set apart as His children, the “Hebrews” from Hebron and Canaan-dwellers. Now God obviously dealt one-on-one with Jacob and Israel, in the chapters leading up to Genesis 42. Jacob/Israel knew it, he wasn’t stupid. But even after all of that, he still had a streak of stubbornness and a time which he was not faithful, and he should’ve just clung to the past times where he and his fathers were faithful, and God took care of them. But he didn’t–He got scared:

All of Jacob/Israel’s sons went down to Egypt to get some food and supplies to bring home to Canaan since there was a famine in Canaan; and upon their arrival in Egypt, turns out all of his sons dealt with Joseph, who WAS ALSO Jacob’s son, and was who all of the other brothers attacked and sold as a slave, years ago. Jacob/Israel just thought Joseph was dead all of this time, and all of his sons thought their brother Joseph was dead all of this time. Anyway, when they’re all in Egypt, Joseph says he will not give all of these brothers provisions until they go back home to their father Jacob/Israel, get their youngest brother Benjamin and bring him back to Joseph. Now the point of all of this and why it is related to what I am speaking about in this blog is here, at this point: when all of those brothers return back to their father Jacob/Israel and tell him that they need to take Benjamin down to Joseph in Egypt in order to get all of the provisions they were sent to get, Jacob/Israel wouldn’t do it.

Jacob/Israel did *not* want to send Benjamin down to Egypt. Why? He was scared. He was living out of his emotion. Jacob/Israel was like, “No! I lost one of my other sons years ago! Why should I send my youngest son, Benjamin, now, and risk losing him too!?” And he didn’t do it. Now, Jacob/Israel had seen the hand of God in his own life, up to now; he had seen the hand of God in his fathers’ lives, up to now. Yet because of his FEAR and his EMOTION, he was not faithful with what he needed to do, right now, in sending Benjamin down to Egypt.

Now some time goes by, they run out of provisions, and Jacob and his sons and all their families and everything–they REALLY need STUFF now. So as you make your way through, to Genesis chapter 43.10, and then the few more verses up to verse 15, Judah highlights the exact thing here I’m saying. He says, “Ok dad (to Jacob/Israel), you’ve refused to send down Benjamin all this time, and now stuff’s getting real, we need supplies now—can we go yet, and take Benjamin? If you had just done it before, the first time we told you we needed to do this, we coulda been gone and come back with more provisions TWICE now.” THIS TIME, Jacob/Israel complies. But it took some time to go by, and for things to get a little more miserable. And it need not have been, had he just been faithful as he had done with things in his life, previously, and realized that God would take care of him JUST AS GOD HAD DONE IN ANY NUMBER OF TIMES IN THE PAST.

So I have two MAIN points my point in this brief blog post, and then I have a third MINOR point:

1)      First I want to get you to identifying the fact that we are ALLLLL in the same boat, as far as, it is true that each one of us individually relates with God (now, He deals with different people in different ways sometimes, certainly, because we are all unique–but we all are dealt with, individually). There are no LEADERS or “Really strong Christians” that just have it SO figured out that they are not subject to fall, or subject to sin sometimes, or subject to just act with less-than-perfect faith sometimes. The point is, every single one of us, individually, relates with God, no one “has it all figured out”, everyone is subject to backsliding or being LAZY in our faith—even one of the monumental characters of the Bible with whom God OBVIOUSLY dealt in a big way, like Jacob/Israel. Oftentimes, your leaders have a stubborn streak with God—and if we are honest with ourselves, *ALL* of us have been known to have a stubborn streak with God.

 

2)      Second, my point is to implore you to not give in to your emotion so much. Like I was saying, in Genesis 42—Genesis 43.15 with Jacob/Israel, and then when you read about Solomon in the Bible, because they were giving in to emotion, it delayed their being faithful to God or it STOPPED their being faithful to God. A second example beyond just Jacob/Israel, is Solomon. Solomon was granted, LITERALLY, more wisdom than anyone else in the world. I tend to think that it was a supernatural thing where God literally unlocked more brain-power, and Solomon was given an ability to think and reason with more brainpower than anyone else before him, or anyone else has since him, and that he was tapped into more sectors of the brain than anyone else before him or since him. But what’d he do? He ended up getting sexually involved with many many many many women (foreign women with different philosophies), and it affected him—negatively. He knew better, obviously; but he gave in to his emotion. And it bit him in the butt. And due to Jacob/Israel’s unfaithfulness and due to Solomon’s unfaithfulness, God’s blessings were either delayed or interrupted and ceased. When you get a sense, or a call, or a prompting of the Lord—one of those ones that inexplicably and obviously form the Lord—follow it. Do it. Don’t delay. Don’t let your emotion or your own stubbornness and “stiff-neck” displace your faithfulness.

 

3)      Third, I’m here to encourage you in this brief blog post to just make sure you never stop questioning things. Always hold other peoples’ feet to the fire; it’s *OK* to have a certain level of doubt and skepticism about things, and constantly demand that people prove themselves to you. It’s ok to do all of that. Now the danger comes when you take that *too* far, and you stay so skeptical and cynical all the time that you just become a NEGATIVE or PESSIMISTIC person—God doesn’t want that for us either (Side-note: you have more liberty and more happiness and peace in your life if you live your life in from a “glass half-FULL” mentality instead of a “glass half-EMPTY” mentality. Anyway, that’s just a minor point here—nothing much to do about what I’m really discussing in this post). Hold your own feet to the fire and make sure you are acting out of faith; but also, do so with your leaders. They ain’t perfect. And neither are you.

Travis J

7/8/2012

7.35 PM-ish

 


28
June
2012

Get Over Yourself and Don’t Be a Doormat

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

“Smart as a serpent, harmless as a dove”

You know what that’s from? (Matthew 10.16)

You need to be smart, Christians. You *DON’T* have to be a doormat to the world. You *don’t* have to let everyone walk all over you. You are to be empathetic to other people, be compassionate and GENUINELY caring, and feel their pain, yes. You are NOT to be full of yourself, and neither are you supposed to look down on any one, nor judge anyone, nor think you’re better than anyone, no. But all of that having been said, you also do not have to let anyone walk all over you.

Furthermore, you do *not* have to count yourself out, nor allow yourself to remain ignorant of the ways of the world. You *are* to be a person that is not OF the world even though you live IN the world. But that having been said, you do NOT have to be weak, and you do not have to be ignorant. You can be aware of the ways of the world without engaging in them. You do not have to become a slave to the ways of this world. You DON’T have to play the tired old games that everyone else plays in this world. You can rise above.

One of the ways you stave off falling into the trap of becoming bought off by the world is, well, to refuse to be when someone tries to buy you! Don’t owe anyone anything. Guard your actions closely and don’t let anyone buy you out. What do I mean by that? You won’t really understand until you read those few verses out of the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Aww you gonna make excuses now?? You say don’t “have a Bible”? First, you’re probably lying. Second, if you have Internet to be able to read this blog, then by default—YA HAVE A BIBLE. Look up these short passages and think about them as you read them, verse-by-verse. Abraham never let anyone buy him out:

1) Genesis 14:17-24

2) Genesis 23:7-17

The first passage says that Abraham did not let this guy give Abraham stuff because Abraham did not want it to be said that THAT GUY was the source of Abraham’s blessings. The second passage is similar.

*sigh* I hear all you smart-alecks out there now: “Oh, Travis said it’s a sin to take gifts from people–his theology is all messed up.-_- I’ll ignore your inability to understand and grasp the heart of what I’m saying here. And the way I’ll ignore it is to continue my analysis so that maybe you can understand the point I’m making, which supercedes this ignorant and premature judgment some of you have made on this piece of writing so far.

Abraham’s actions are smart. He remained faithful to God even though people tried to buy him off. Sometimes it’s so easy to sell out, but what’d Abraham do? He took the higher ground, he stood on his own two feet and on his faith that God would provide for him, and he did not take handouts.

Why? Is not our society littered with people that will just TAKE whatever freebies are given to them? Sure it is. If you’re a human being with even the slightest understanding about the concept of “give and receive”, then wrong or right, we often feel a sense of debt when someone does something good for us, gives us something, helps us out, or what have you.

You’ve experienced this. Think back to when you’ve been at work—just any day, a regular day. Your coworker comes up to you and says, “no no no, I got it…” and does something for you that you were about to do, that was YOUR duty, or does something for you that you were just about to do, or something. Or how about when someone’s just gotten you a gift or done something nice for you out of nowhere? You kinda feel like you “owe them”, or you want to do something back to them and reciprocate by doing something nice for them don’t you?

My whole point here is that Abraham did *not* want to give a MAN, a HUMAN BEING, the right to boast over being the source of Abraham’s successes. Abraham faithfully wanted to attribute that to God, and to God alone. Abraham did not directly attribute his successes and blessings to himself, nor did he give in to the pressure of other peoples’ trying to buy him off because he did not even want to approach the possibility of giving someone else the right to say that THEY were the source of Abraham’s blessings.

Let’s get over ourselves. Let’s not worship our own success. Let’s not hoist up our own efforts. If you start thinking you are the sole cause of all of your successes and blessings, you’re walking on dangerous ground. God will make sure you are humbled. He loves you that much to allow you to be humbled. And guess what? The more stubborn you are, it’s possible that the harder something has to hit you before you get it through your thick skull that HE is to be hoisted up and thanked for your successes and your blessings in which you find yourself.

Ephesians 2:8-9; 1, Corinthians 1:29 . Look them up real quick—you have a Bible. Oh you don’t have one?

You’re lying.

— Travis J

Started: 6/28/2012—4.15 PM-ish.

Ended: 7/2/2012—12.40 AM-ish


20
March
2012

No Longer Work for Free

Posted in : poems

I did you a favor,
Why is it you can’t see?

My intentions pure, work ethic hard—
Why you doin this to me?

You’re worried you’d go under,
Different I thought it’d be.

I tried my best to do required,
Did my best to make you see

That some are out there that’re good,
You don’t b’lieve me obvi’sly.

So go ahead and burn a bridge,
Or one or two or three;

Keep living, doing, operating,
I’ll no longer work for free.

—Travis J
12.45 AM-ish, 3/20/2012


29
February
2012

Biggest Mistake Ever

Posted in : poems

Biggest mistake ever,
I ran away too soon.
It scared me when I thought of you
and thought I had no room.

On one hand I’d many visions
and I had so many dreams;
then it felt like the other hand
Was you and me and all our means.

I thought the places each would take me
were much too incompatible.
So panicked, made a decision,
that’s, alas, regrettable.

Why couldn’t I remember?
Why’s it that I couldn’t see..?
Why do I think it impossible,
an eternal care for me..?

I thought the differences and the cash,
Would make you run away.
So what I did? Headed it off,
Thought there wasn’t any reason we should play.

How quickly I forgot,
Or chose simply to not see—
It’s possible, it might’ve been
That you really, truly cared for me.

Though I can say that I was strong,
remained steadfast, stuck to my guns—
that confidence and comfort’s empty,
‘cuz all I’m left with is re-runs.

This attitude I’ve got,
and these conclusions that I’ve reached,
If I was honest, they’re prolly fair,
since our relationship I breached.

Travis J
1.00 AM-ish
February 29th, 2012


21
January
2012

Careful What You Wish For

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

Careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

No, obviously I wasn’t the one who originally came up with that cliché that we’ve all heard. Wish I was, though—I’m a businessman, I’d copyright it/or sell it….*daydreams*

Oh. Blog. Right, sorry, got distracted 😉 .

Seriously, how many times have you prayed, or have you been in a congregation or Bible study where you or someone else prayed something like,

God, please prepare me for what it is you want me to do, and show me the Way and the Path You have for me.

We have to be more conscious with our prayers, folks. Mean them more. Don’t be repetitive. Don’t be clichéd with God—you must be straight up with Him. He knows everything, and knows your heart and mind anyway, so why not pray with that understanding? Remember four things, when praying to God:

1)      He’s not a Santa Claus.

2)      Don’t be repetitive—Scripture specifically states He don’t like that much (Matthew 6:7).

3)      He already knows not only what you NEED (what the best path for you is), but He knows what you WANT (stuff that’s on your mind that you want to attain/fix/overcome/etc.), so don’t act like you are revealing anything groundbreaking to God that was previously unknown to Him.

4)      You’re not doing HIM any FAVORS, by praying.

Back to the original point—“Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Those of us who have chosen to live lives dedicated to Christ and becoming increasingly more like Him, and have chosen to live lives striving for disciplining ourselves and others in His name to also become more like Him must mean what we pray, and pray what we mean. We fall so in love with Christ that we often find ourselves thinking and praying that we just want Him to guide us, and show us what He wants us to do on this earth; and that we just want to be used by Him in powerful ways.

And I’m not downing that. I think it is perfectly healthy for us to want that; to desire it; to pray and ask for it. That is a good thing.

But we must keep our perspective. Oftentimes we think that our faith is sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and “~getting people saved~”, or that it’s always church campy, or church retreat-like. Or we think that living out the principles of Christ and knowing God with our lives is just like a really awesome short-term mission trip or camp that never ends.

When we make that decision to become disciples of Christ, and we accept His gift and are redeemed, we, in essence, are making the decision to become vessels of sharing His love and living our lives in His Way. This is not something that is to be taken lightly. It means that we are going to end up changing in some way. In big ways.

By the way—side-note: Now that’s where we lose a lot of people. And by “lose a lot of people”, I don’t mean,

Oh we as Christians didn’t get the dang CONverts, woe is us! We wanna make everyone like us!

I don’t mean it that way. What I mean is, lots of times, when it comes down to it, there are people that do not take that extra step to be a disciple of Christ and really live out His ways because they think they have to change too much about themselves. Now I’m talking about two different types of people here:

1)      People who are lost and that are on the verge of choosing to accept the free gift of Christ’s redemption that He offers.

2)      People that HAVE ACCEPTED the free gift of Christ’s redemption that he offers and “are saved”…..but then, they just want live the rest of their lives “for themselves”, and never have the courage to just step out and see where the Lord leads them.

Whichever the case; whether we’re talking about a “lost person” that does not accept the gift of Christ, or whether we’re talking about a Christian that “got saved” but then just sorta coasts for the rest of their life on earth (you know the types—they sit in a church pew every now and then, they hear a sermon every now and then, and generally think, “eh, I’m not a terrible person, and I’m ‘saved’.”), WHICHEVER of those two types we’re talking about, there’s something we have to understand. When we DO make that commitment to Christ, life DOES NOT become all sunshine and lollipops and happiness.

I’m sorry, it just doesn’t.

Now I fervently believe that you do get sort of an ultimate inner peace that you can’t really explain when you sell out to God through Christ–I’ve seen/felt/observed this in my own life, and heard plenty of other testimonies of people that will say the same thing. But that doesn’t mean that somehow life is just coast-mode, and you pretend like everything’s fine for the rest of your life.

A single verse of Scripture from the Bible is at the heart of this blog. It’s Acts 9:16. The context of that verse is a story where someone that hates Christians and hates Jesus is killing Christians, but then has an experience with God. Verse 16 is God Himself/Jesus talking, and He says, “…I will show him [the Christian-killer that’s having a conversion experience to become a disciple of Christ] how great things he must suffer for My [God, Jesus] sake.

It was God/Jesus saying that statement. (If you’re confused as to why I put a slash between God and Jesus, just ask. It’s actually really simple, despite what people say.) God/Jesus was saying that this guy who’s becoming a disciple of Christ is going to be a “chosen vessel”. That person is going to be someone who’s seeking after Me and is going to be someone that does great things in the name of God and Jesus Christ. This guy that’s a Christian-killer is going to be INSTRUMENTAL. But even though that guy is going to be instrumental, he is going to suffer things in life; many things.

One of the keys to being able to deal with such challenges is the fact that when you have an encounter with Christ and you slowly begin reflecting His character and taking on His traits, you get to a point where many things that used to bother you simply don’t anymore. Your perspective gets heightened and improved. Many things that could happen to you that seem absolutely horrible, you come to realize are not the end of the world, and that they cannot completely destroy you. Nothing can destroy you. You’re a child of God. You begin to walk around with a heightened sense. When you make a *real* decision and a *real* effort to accept the gift of Jesus Christ and begin an honest and real effort to become like Him, you *will* notice this. It is not something about which I have to pretend or make grandiose statements. This is just what happens.

Back in that Bible reference I was making, this “guy that is having the conversion experience, and is gonna suffer things in life” is Paul. This is the guy that ended up writing most of the rest of the entire New Testament, and is where we find much of what we believe as Christians. The Bible records that he ends up being shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, has an ailment/condition of some sort for the rest of his entire life that bothers him and causes him pain of some kind (be it physical or mental/spiritual—he’s bothered by it). Look at what all he has to go through. This man—Paul—is someone we all point to as simply one of the most heroic, astounding, amazing followers of Christ who ever lived. And yet—he suffered SO much. Make sure you’re willing to do the same. Make sure you’re honest with yourself and with God the next time you’re beseeching God to lead you where He wants you to go.

Cuz He’ll do it.

—Travis J
12.00 AM-ish, January 21st, 2012



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I'm very big into education, and my energies are devoted to inspiring this desire for education into other people--at home and abroad.

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