Monday, October 27, 2014

"Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?"

"And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.'" -Mark 10:18

     Often times people ask the questions, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "If God is real, why does he let bad things happen?" "Why me?" "Don't I deserve better than this?" These are questions that are always asked in the misunderstanding of what good is, and a discontentment with what is promised.

     The question I would first like to address is, "If God is real, why does He let bad things happen?" This question bothers me for more than the obvious reasons. God, the creator of all things, created people, humans, to serve Him.He gave them simple instructions and a way to follow them. And when His creation became incompetent and continually broke those laws, God had compassion on them and send His only son to serve His creation, and then die a slow and cruel death. Now let me ask you this: If God sent His son to not only die a cruel death, but to live a life of hardship and to serve those who, had it not been for them, he wouldn't have had to be there, that any human deserves better? Does any human deserve better than Jesus? No. Not at all. Jesus was and is perfect, and if He wasn't blessed in an earthly way, then why should anyone else be? Now God does bless us, and often in more ways than Jesus was blessed, but this is something to think about. I'm not saying that we should turn aside all blessings, but that we should look at it in a different way.
     Instead of seeing things in the way that God is letting bad things happen, but that He is letting you grow. He is allowing you to better see why He set these laws in place. Also, if you follow God and if you are baptized and stay faithful, you will receive the crown of life (Mark 16:16 and John 3:15). How is this a bad thing? Yes unfortunate things happen, but in the end, if you remain faithful, you will not only have gotten into heaven, but you will have let your light shine (Matthew 5:16) your entire Christian life, and what's bad about that?

     "Why do bad things happen to good people?" First of all, what qualifies a person as, "good"? In Mark 10:18, Jesus, Himself says, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone?" However, for the sake of answering the question, I will change "good people" to "Christians", because really, all men are equal to God (Romans 2:11). Now, like I said in the previous paragraph, living a life towards God is not a bad life no matter how tough the times get. In fact I wrote an article about it not too long ago (you can read it if you click here). It doesn't matter how hard times get, if you are a true Christian, then you will live in heaven for eternity and it doesn't matter how hard your life was on earth because it's not even a fraction of the time that we will spend in heaven.

     Today I would like to encourage you all to think about these things and study them for yourselves. I'd like to encourage you all to look at things, instead of man's perspective, but God's perspective. It can be difficult at times but it makes everything so much easier to understand. And one day, you'll be in paradise and look back, and you'll thank yourself.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Waiting For Happiness

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." -Psalm 37:4

     Whether Christian or atheist, mathematician or author, gymnast or couch potato, we all have one common goal: we all seek happiness. Some of us find it, others don't. However, most people don't find it. They're looking in all the wrong places. They look at knowledge, or power, or money, or friends, but the truth is, it's in none of those things. There is only one thing that can help us find happiness, and that is the word of God. 

     Happiness is not something you get. It's not something that you achieve, it's not something you can be given, you have to go out and get it. You have to learn to be content in all things like Paul, and you have to know how to ignore all those horrible things that are happening and focus on your relationship with God. Happiness is not something that you can give to yourself, you obtain happiness when you have a full understanding and appreciation of God and what He has done. Happiness comes when you stop thinking about yourself and you stop thinking about what you don't have and what you could have, but it comes when you become content with what you have. 

     I'm not condemning the mall, I love the mall. It's fantastic and I absolutely love it. However when we live in a place where there is a mall 5 miles away from pretty much everyone's house, and when electronics are constantly updating, and the list of "necessities" is getting longer and longer by the day, it can be hard to stay content. It can be hard to say that you don't need something when you can get up, drive to a store, and buy it. However that is not where happiness is. 

     When we indulge in ourselves, we forget about happiness and we forget what it's like to live the simple life and we end up waiting for the next thing to come out, or for graduation, or for a job, but really, that's not happiness. Happiness is when you realize that you don't need those things to get to heaven. Happiness is enjoying the things you have while you have them. Happiness is not being attached to the things of this world but to things of God. You can't wait for happiness, and you cannot lose happiness without your own consent. In the verse written at the top, it does not mean that if you follow God, He will grant your every wish, it's saying that once you love God with all your heart and He is all you want, you will become content and Happy because God is good, and perfect, and He, and only He, can give you true joy.

     Today I would like to encourage you all to look past all the things that you want, and the things that you think will make your life feel better, and see what's in front of you. See what God has given you and see what you can do for the kingdom. God doesn't want to see us sad, but that's not His choice, it's yours. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Christianity in the Work Place

"You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you." -Psalm 128:2

     Often times we are told to spread the word, and to not drink, and don't watch this, don't listen to that, that we neglect thinking about our work. We forget to teach about working hard, not only for God, but at our jobs, or in school, or anything! These are, in fact, the things that occupy the most of our days.

     Our spreading God's word depends greatly on our reputation. Would you be more willing to listen to a happy, upbeat person about their life, or someone who walks around constantly gloomy and sad and depressed and hates everyone and everything? I mean, I don't know about you, but I don't really want to follow the lifestyle of someone who hates their life and everyone and everything in it. It doesn't exactly appeal to me. However, if you're always positive about your work, your school, your life, people are going to be more willing to listen to you. And not only are people going to want to listen to you if you love your life, aren't they going to appreciate God's people more if they're always over-achievers? Won't it give God's people a better reputation if we are always working hard and looking nice and doing a nice job? People don't really look up to people who are always slacking off. As God's people we are to be examples of His word, even in something seemingly irrelevant.

     I know it seems like it wouldn't matter, but not only is it going to improve your grades or pay check, but people are going to get a better opinion of Christians. The world seems to believe that Christians are just lazy bums who think they're better than everyone else. This is not the case though, but how can we prove that if we are lazy bums who think we're better than everyone else? We need to show others that we're human, and that we are Christians, and that we are good. When people start noticing these things about Christians, they're going to start noticing them about God.

     I know it seems silly and ridiculous that something as simple as going the extra mile in whatever you're doing can help further God's kingdom, but believe me, it can. You may not see the results, but they'll be there. I'm not saying that if someone sees you working hard they'll automatically convert to Christianity, but it's a lot easier to listen to someone you respect than someone who doesn't seem to deserve any respect what-so-ever.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spread the News!

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all these things that I have commanded you.." Matthew 28:19-20

     I love books and movies and tv shows. I love comic books and I love telling people about them and I love convincing them  to read/watch such things. I love spending my time with my books. I recently bought a new bookshelf and am already well on my way of filling it up, and that's just my books, not to mention ones from libraries or my mom's books or my brother's books or books for school. When you love something a lot, aren't you going to want to tell people about it? If something is precious, you want others to see how precious it is, and experience it with you. When you hear a great new song, you want to listen to it over and over again and tell your friends all about it. 

     What about the Bible? Do you love talking about the Bible? Do you know it front-to-back? Do you know the names of all the people? Do you know all the parables and where they're found? "But that's so HAARD!" well I can only imagine all the Harry Potter fans know every name of every character in the series. I have seen some fans who studied languages of their favorite movies. There's nothing wrong with this, but how much do you talk about God? I'm not saying that we need to know every single word of the entire Bible, but how much do you talk about how wonderful He is? How much do you tell your friends, "Hey, I have this amazing book here! Every time I read it I catch something new! You should read it!"? 

     In this day and age it can be difficult to share the gospel, as it's not very popular. Some places are already being denied their religious rights and are unable to speak about homosexuality in the pulpit. This doesn't mean, however, that there is no hope. This doesn't mean that the church is going anywhere, I'm not saying that all Christians are in danger right now, but the true church has never been popular. True Christianity has never been popular and that's because not enough people are teaching the whole counsel of God  (Acts 20:26-27) and people find Christianity hypocritical. They see it as impure, and they don't see it for what it really is: wonderful. We need to show people this now. We need to show people this every day. We need to talk about it and show it to people and bring it with us everywhere. We need to study it, live it, breath it. Because if we aren't, then what does that say about our faith?

     Today I would like to encourage you to study God's word, and to spread it to everyone. Wear it like a badge of honor. Take some time every day to pray and to study and to just sit back and appreciate the glory of God. If you don't have the time, make it. God gave you that time, and it's time to give some back. I'd like to encourage you all to trust Him and love Him and appreciate Him more. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Myers Briggs Personality Excuse

     "But Moses said unto Him, 'Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." -Exodus 4:10

      I am sure that the majority of you have taken or at least heard of the Myers Briggs personality test, and if you haven't then I'll explain it a bit. It's a very interesting theory of personalities where a single individual has 4 of 8 personality traits. There are 4 categories and 2 results from each category. The first category is likely the one you are most familiar with. In this one you are either introverted (I) or extroverted (E). I'm sure you are aware that this means you're either energized by people (E) or energized by being alone (I). The second one, however, is a little less popular. You are either Intuitive (N) or Sensing (S). If you are intuitive it means when solving a problem, you typically look at the big picture first and pay attention to the details later. Sensing, however, means you pay more attention to detail. The third is Thinking (T) and Feeling (F). This means that wen you're making decisions, if you're a Thinking type, you typically make your decisions based on fact instead of emotion, and Feeling types typically see things in a more personal and emotional light. The last category is Judging (J) and Perceiving (P). Judging means that you typically don't procrastinate and keep things very scheduled, while Perceiving means you're more open to suggestion, and typically keep a flexible schedule.

     This study is one of my favorites and it has really helped me understand the personalities of others around me. However, it can be easy to use your personality as an excuse. How? Well, say you're a thinking type like me, and tend to put logic above emotion. This is typically because the personality with the thinking personality type isn't as emotional and doesn't see emotion as a top priority. Now say you have a really good friend who has had a rough week and you're the only one who can make them feel better, but you decide that because you're a thinking type and don't have a whole lot of emotion, you just won't. You decide that emotions are petty and you can get over them and so should they. Or say you don't want to go to church because you're an introvert and "literally can't". I know it sounds ridiculous but I've heard it before. It's important not to use these things as excuses.

     I'm not saying that people don't have limitations, and I'm not saying that introverts are going to hell because sometimes they need to stay home instead of going to something (other than church or their own wedding or something important like that, obviously). I'm not saying that thinking types are going to hell if they don't know exactly how to respond to their friend who is crying their eyes out, but I am saying that it can be easy to find excuses through our personalities. First of all, this personality thing is really just a theory anyway. It's incomplete and imperfect. Basing your life and your choices on it are as logical as building a house with pasta. 

     I'm not saying that it's wrong to take the test, I'm not saying that it's wrong to be an introvert or an extrovert or anything like that, but what I'm saying is that it can be easy to think that the Myers Briggs defines you. It describes you, yes. However, taking something that describes you and letting it define you is not only unhealthy, but it can cause you more harm than good.  It can cause you to lose friends, it can cause you to despise your friends, and it can cause you to fall short of God's law. 

     But how does one conquer ones obstacles and overcome these things that seem to keep them from God? How does the noisy extrovert keep from spending too much time with his friends and not enough time with God? How does the feeling type learn to not put their emotions first when it comes to important things? Well at the beginning of this article I wrote down Exodus 4:10, but not the very next verse which says, "Then the Lord said to Him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I the Lord?'" God has given us our abilities and our struggles, and He can help us overcome every single one of them. 

     Today I would like to encourage you all to, instead of seeing what people tell you to see, see the possibilities. See the possibilities of growth. Use the gifts that God has given you to to help further His kingdom. Maybe you're good at talking to people and understanding their emotions, or maybe you're really good at coming up with plans and you can set up a devotional at your house or something, or maybe you're really shy and quiet and can help someone else who is also shy and quiet. I'd like to encourage you to take your strengths and use them, and take your weaknesses to God, and He can help you overcome them. Mostly I'd like to encourage you to not use your personality as an excuse, but as an encouragement to others! God is always willing to help you, and it's important to go to Him with your hard times. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Will You Be Remembered?

"...Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." -Revelation 2:10

     As a teen in high-school, I often think about college and what my life will be like when I graduate. I often think about what job I'll get and where I'll live and things like that. I also start thinking of my entire life ahead of me, and how I'll spend my time. What will I be remembered by? Will it be my money? Will it be my kindness? What are my goals? What is it that I'm trying to be remembered by?

     Everyone in life has a goal. What is your main goal? It's okay to have goals that aren't about God and that aren't about the Bible, like getting a promotion or being the top of your class, but when our lives revolve around God, our priorities and our main goals are going to revolve around Him, and our friends and family are going to see that. But if your goals are all about your job or your education, then what does that say to others? What does that say to God? When you miss out on church because you have homework, what does that say to those around you? When you go to church instead of basketball practice, what does that say to your team mates? If you were to die right now, how would people remember you? What would be written on your tomb stone? I sure hope mine says something about how I served God. I sure hope mine says more than that I was good at science or that I was a fast runner. I want my tomb stone to stand proudly and say that I was a true child of God. What do you want yours to say?

     Today I would like to encourage you all to think about your life choices and what you're basing them on. Are they based on God? Are they based on His word? Are they based on the passing moments on this earth? I'd like to encourage you to examine your life and the choices you're making for the future and for right now, and ask what they're based on. There's nothing wrong with sports and there's nothing wrong with having a good job or a good education, but when our main focus is on those things, it's time for a change. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Listening To the Kettle Whistle

"You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you." -Psalm 128:2

     I am a big tea drinker. I love hot tea, I love cold tea, I just like tea in general. And now that the weather is cooling off (well, it's October but I live in Texas so it's still in the 90's here but I'm pretending that it's cold) I have started drinking more hot tea. In fact, I am drinking some now as I write this. Anyway, as a regular tea drinker, I have a whistling tea kettle. When I first started using the tea kettle, I thought it was cheap because it never seemed to whistle correctly. It would give out a weak, unsatisfactory squeal letting me know in barely a whisper that my tea was ready. I lived with it, and I drank my tea from a kettle that was inefficient and didn't seem to want to work. Well one day when I was sitting at home alone while my mom ran some errands, I started making my regular cup of tea. I put the kettle on the stove and went on about my business. Not very long after I hear this wonderful, glorious whistling coming from my kitchen. I had forgotten about the tea and could now hear the whistling throughout my whole house. As it turns out, I was too busy trying to be efficient, that I forgot to enjoy what I was using.

     Sometimes in life we can get so wrapped up in getting things done efficiently and swiftly, that we forget to actually enjoy the things that come with our work. Ecclesiastes 5:12 says "Sweet is the sleep of the laborer". Yes it's important for us to work, yes it's important for us to be efficient, but it's important to rest. It's important to take time aside for yourself. Psalm 128:2, as we see at the top of this article, says "You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you." Sometimes we get so caught up in working that we forget to enjoy the fruit of our labor. We forget to take time aside and remember that we aren't just working machines. It's okay to take some enjoyment in what we do. Whether it's your work for the Lord, your job, your school, anything! It's important to take time aside to enjoy and appreciate all the work you've done. 

     Why? Why is it important for us to enjoy what we've done? Why is it important to look back and see what all you have done? Well, if not then we can get burned out. I love to run. About two years ago I started running every morning, and I got pretty good at it! I got in shape quickly and I enjoyed it. Then I started getting these dizzy spells that kept me from doing just about everything. They were really bad for about a month or two and by the time they were finally bearable, I was out of shape again. Forgetting that I had to get back in shape, I started running again. This time, however, instead of starting out small and progressing, I started out sprinting long distances on the hard sidewalk. The next week I was unable to run because my knees hurt so bad it was physically impossible to run. In fact, I had hurt my knees so bad that about 4 months after that I tried running and couldn't even get up to a jog without immense pain. Why? I forgot to rest. I had forgotten to take some time and rest instead of going all at once. If we forget to take time out for ourselves, it can be easy to get worn out and just stop working altogether. 

     Are you taking your kettle off the stove too fast? Are you forgetting to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Are you over-working yourself? Today I would like to encourage you all to take some time out of your busy schedule and do something you enjoy. Go see a movie. Go shopping. Take a nap if you want to. We were created to rest every once in a while! Today I would like to encourage you all to take a break. Even if it's just 30 minutes, it's still important. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," -Matthew 28:19

     Have you ever babysat a toddler? Or maybe you have a little sibling who's about 2 or 3? If you do than you are probably aware that they are always asking questions, trying to gather information about this new exciting world that they have recently entered. I'm sure you are also aware that 90% of those questions are "Why?" Sometimes we need to ask this question, ourselves. Why must we go out to all the world? Why do we have to teach others about God? 

     The first reason is that if you don't, who will? I'm sure you have all heard the story of Esther. I'm sure you have all heard the wonderful story of a young, beautiful lady that became a queen because of how beautiful and charming she was. But Esther had to go through some struggles too. Esther was unsure of what she wanted to do. I mean, what if she died? What if the king didn't like her question? What if she failed? In Esther 4:14 Mordecai tells her "If you keep quiet in this time relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" 

     In the passage you just read, we see that Mordecai is telling Esther that yes, God's will will be done, but it's Esther's job to make sure that it happens. Esther was put in that situation to make sure that her people will be saved. God puts us in situations so that we can save our people from destruction. By "our people" I mean the general population of the world. Maybe God gave you a good friend so that you could help them become a believer. Maybe God allowed you to be put in this situation so that you can show others that even in hard times, you still have to do the right thing. It's important that we are always looking for opportunities because who knows, maybe you were put there for that reason. 

     The second reason is that if we don't, the punishment is eternal. Have you ever heard the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? I'm sure you have. The rich man refused to help Lazarus in time of need, and when the rich man died he went to Hades and was begging Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers so they didn't end up in the same place. Abraham's response was, in Luke 16:29, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear from them." The rich man, in response, told him in the next verse that if someone from the dead came, they would believe. However Abraham sees through this thought and responds with the logical statement that if someone doesn't hear from the prophets, they won't listen to anyone else. We can see this also through the life of Jesus, as he raised from the dead himself, and performed miracles, and still people didn't believe in Him.

     So what if all the evangelists just stopped evangelizing? What if we all decided that we were all happy with the amount of Christians that there were in the world, and it was time to stop telling others the Word? Well, everyone would end up with the rich man. There is only one way to heaven as we see in Mark 16:16 which says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." This isn't saying that you don't have the be baptized and just believe, in this context it's talking about how people were being baptized but didn't believe in what they were doing. However we can see that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, so wouldn't it make sense if we wouldn't be saved without these things that make us saved? So we need both. But who is going to save others? Who is going to help them get to heaven if they don't know these things? We need to help others see this. 

     There are many other things I could talk about, but I'm sure you don't want to read this article for 7 years and I really want to eat sometime before then. But it's okay if you ask "why?". It helps us to see things for ourselves. It helps us see why God wants us to do things and gives us motivation to do so. Now I'm not saying that we need to go around questioning absolutely everything, just looking for a fight. But God has a reason for every single one of His commandments and it's important for us to see and study these reasons. Today I'd like to encourage you to study things for yourself and go teach everyone. Whether it's a friend, or a mission trip, or just helping in Bible class. Anything you can do to further the kingdom is a great thing.