Archive for the ‘Question from a student’ Category

How Do I Know If I Should Walk Away From A Friendship?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30 in Clifton Park!!!!

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QUESTION’s FROM STUDENTS

(Click HERE to view the other questions)

QUESTION: I have a few friends that I feel are causing me to do things that I shouldn’t do. How do I know if I should leave a friendship? How do I do it?

This is a great question and happens to be what I talked about last week at UNITED with the High School group. This is something that is for anyone, not just students. We all struggle with this one.

“Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.” I Corinthians 15:33

No matter where you are in life, your friends will never leave you the same! They could be either bad or good.

I have talked with a lot of students over the years who who have told me about horrible situations that they are in. When I talk to students who’s lives have gone out of control and they find themselves in a place they thought they would never be (most of the time being far away from God), I ask them “How did you get here? How did you get to this point? Where did the wheels start to come off?”

99% of the time, they start the exact same way, “Well, I had these friends…” They would go on to tell me about how they had some friends that got them into a lot of trouble, or they met a guy or a girl that caused them a lot of unnecessary pain.

Sometimes we all do some crazy things to “belong” or feel “accepted”.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a mutual friend. Every friend that you have will effect you wither positively or negatively. Your friends will never leave you the same!

If you are anything like me, I hear something like that and I think I’m immune to that principle. That applies to someone else not me. If I choose to have bad friends (or good friends who do bad things and have a bad influence on me), I am smart enough to get out of those relationships before it destroys me. I’m too strong to let that happen.

Then…I’m reminded of guys in the Bible like Samson. Read Judges 13 and study his life.

If you choose to hang out with the wrong people, then they will take you to the wrong places.

Here are some final thoughts:

- Think of your top 3-5 closest friends. Do they have a positive or negative affect on you??

- God created us to be in a growing relationship with Him. If your friends are causing you to push farther and farther from God, then that is a problem.

- If you are a Christian, then it is okay to have friends that are not Christians, but we have to learn to make our closest circle of friends be people that are like-minded and will help you draw closer to God. Jesus hung out with some of the worst people in that society, but He also had His inner circle of friends that strengthened and encouraged Him. He didn’t look to others for direction in life.

You might say, “Okay, I have some close friends that I know are bringing me down. What do I do?”

I’m glad you asked! You can do one of three things:

1. You can do nothing. Unfortunately, this is what probably 90% of us will do. We end up sacrificing our future for a friendship.

2. You can step back. This doesn’t mean to totally leave the friendship, but it does mean spending less time there. You need to step back and put boundaries in place.

3. You can walk away. The wrong friends will lead you to the wrong places and you will end up in a place where your life won’t line up with God’s plans – That is called a wasted life. You can walk away from that. This is the hardest option to apply, but tough circumstances that we put ourselves in often requires tough choices to fix it. Ask God to send you the right friends.

I have seen so many students destroy part of their life because of choosing the wrong friends. Oftentimes they say, “Well, I want to ‘help’ my friend”, but they don’t set up any boundaries and they ended up taking that relationship to places that are dishonoring to God.

I will talk more about dating relationships in the near future.

 

Is It God’s Will For Us To Get Sick?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30pm in Clifton Park! We are making a HUGE concert announcement!! Think BIG!

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Question From A Student

(Click HERE to view other questions)

question-mark.gif QUESTION: Is it God’s will for us to get sick?

This is kind of a continuation of last week’s question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. I got asked these types of questions the most. We all wonder about this stuff sometimes, especially when either we or a family member or friend is sick or hurt.

God is sovereign. All that means is that God is powerful or “mighty” over everything. He has the power to do literally anything that He wants. Amazing thought, right? The problem is that we in our human minds can’t comprehend that. We are finite. Naturally the result of trying to think about what all that entails causes us to come up with questions.

That means that God can do either of two things:

1. He can directly CAUSE something to happen.

2. He can passively ALLOW something to happen.

 For example, God caused the creation of the perfect, sinless Adam and Eve, then He allowed them to rebel against Him. He did not cause them to sin and He certainly could have stopped them, but He chose not to for His own purposes and to bring about His perfect plan. God knew that if He “caused” them to stay perfect, then Adam and Eve would have no true reason to love God. Love requires the “choice” to love. Make sense?

The sin of Adam and Eve brought every type of evil to the earth – both moral evil (sin), and natural evil (sickness and natural disasters etc…). The word “evil” literally means to perverse something that was originally good. In the case of sickness, illness is a state where good health is missing.

When Adam sinned, he condemned all of humanity to suffer the consequences of that sin, one of which is sickness.

“Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. 21 All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children,  including the new bodies he has promised us.” Romans 8:22-23

Even though we live in a cursed world, God still uses that pain oftentimes for good. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are loaded with situations where Jesus used sickness to reveal the fact that He truly was the Son of God.

When illness does come, it may not be the result of God’s direct intervention in our lives, but is rather the result of the fallen world, fallen bodies, and poor health and lifestyle choices. God wants us to do our part to be healthy. Either way, God oftentimes uses our sickness to teach us something.

I can think of countless situations where through sickness and hardships, people grew closer and closer to God, and it changed their lives for the better.

So…Sickness is definitely the result of the Fall of man into sin, but God is very much in control and He DOES often determine how far evil can go (just as He did with Satan and Job’s trials (Book of Job) —Satan was not allowed to exceed those boundaries). He tells us He is all-powerful about fifty-six times in the Bible, and it is amazing to see how His sovereignty dovetails with the choices we make (both bad and good) to work out in a perfect plan.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together F35 for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

For those who are Christians and are suffering with illnesses such as cancer etc…, the knowledge that they can glorify God through their suffering tempers the uncertainty as to why He has allowed it, something they may not truly understand until they stand in His presence in eternity. At that time, all questions will be answered.

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Don’t forget that UNITED LIVE is tonight with Aaron Cavin!! This is the HUGE event that only takes place once a month! Bring your cell phone? Yes, this is the first and probably last time I will ever encourage students to bring their cell phone!

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 QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

(Click HERE to view the other questions)

question-mark.gifQuestion: How can God allow bad things to happen to good people?

This is going to kind of be a re-post from last year when I got asked the same question. This question has been one of the most asked questions that I have ever received.

This is one of the biggest questions that people have about all of Christianity! If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he stop “innocent” people from suffering. Even further, why doesn’t He stop Christians from suffering? I am only going to be able to barely scratch the surface on this blog post, but will re-visit this in the near future.

Here are some facts from the Bible to help understand more about us and God:

- In Genesis, God created all things “good”. (Genesis 1:31)

- God did not create evil. (Romans 5:12)

- God created man sinless, but with the freedom to “choose”. (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:15-17)

- With the freedom to choose, comes the freedom to make right and wrong decisions. He gave us the choice to either obey or disobey him.

- God wants us to TRULY love Him, but He knows that forced love is not TRUE love. We must CHOOSE to love Him!

The bottom line is that God could intervene (after all, He IS all-powerful) in the world by forcing us to love Him, but that would make us merely robots without a choice. Unfortunately, throughout history we have made many poor choices. Often those wrong choices bring about consequences that end up hurting ourselves or other people, sometimes innocent victims who didn’t deserve it. I can do everything in my power to do the right thing, but be driving down the road only to be hit by a drunk driver. That driver’s poor choices would have led to me (the “innocent” guy) getting hurt.

Sometimes it looks as if there is no justice in the world. Just turn on the news for five minutes! CS Lewis has said that over 80% of the worlds suffering is a direct result of the evil of mankind. The Bible does say that God is a God of justice. Life in this world is only temporary and every single person will stand before God one day to answer for the things we have done here on earth, both good and bad. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account”.

God will often use the trials we go through to teach us valuable lessons and to make us better Christ followers. God is working in us even when bad things seem to be happening! Sometimes it is the trials that we go through that brings us to God! I will blog more about this angle in a later week.

So, why do bad things happen to good people? Because we live in a diseased world full of sin! Sometimes there will be situations that come up that are hard to explain, but we have to remember that God loves us and cares for us. We need to be able to say to God, “I don’t know what to do in this situation but I know that you are God, and that you have my best interest in mind, so I’m going to trust you!” We live in this world for now, so we have to constantly battle the affects of poor choices.

The good news is that a time is coming when there will be no more suffering for those that accept Jesus. In heaven, God has created a place of eternal glory where there will be no more crying, pain, sickness, or death; a place where people will share his joy forever. One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible says, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

I’m not surprised by seeing or hearing what is going on in the world today! We reap what we sow! That is as an individual and as a country.

Another question that can be asked is, “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?” Hmmmm.

I read a quote somewhere recently that said, “This world is the only hell that believers with experience.” I thought that was interesting. What do you think about that statement?

Where Did Halloween Come From?

Come back this weekend! I will be posting a couple of funny videos. I know that I just made your day, but please hold back the loud cheers out of respect for those around you..

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Somewhat Special Edition:

QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

(Click HERE to view other questions)

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QUESTION: Where did Halloween come from?

I don’t know. Google it! Okay…just kidding, I’ll google it for you…

No! This is not a post about what Christians should think about Halloween. You have to make your own decision. I am just presenting the facts. I will not give my opinion on here (even though it’s my blog and I can if I want to :) ). If you want to know my opinion, feel free to ask and I will tell you outside of the blog world. If you can really care less about the history, then scroll down for some interesting Halloween facts!

Here we go:

halloween_image.jpgHalloween can be traced back through history over 2,000 years to the ancient religion of the Celtics in Ireland (not to be confused with the Boston Celtics and it’s actually pronounced “keltics”). The Celtic people were very conscious of the spiritual world and had their own ideas of how they could gain access to it.

The Celtics (no…no…no…don’t forget it’s “keltics” not “seltics”) celebrated their new year on November 1st, along with the United Kingdom and Northern France. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On thesamhain_1.jpg night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain (pronounced sah-ween), when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. These prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. Also, they believed that these spirits of the dead would rise out of their graves and wander the countryside, trying to return to the homes where they formerly lived. Frightened villagers tried to “appease” these wandering spirits by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of the finest food and bits of treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. This is where the “trick or treat” tradition got it’s roots.

Turnips (pumpkins were eventually the desired subsitute) were cut with faces representing demons and was originally intended to frighten away evil spirits. It was said that if a demon or such were to encounter something as fiendish looking as themselves that they’d run away in terror,thus sparing the houses dwellers from the ravages of dark entities. They would have been carried around the village boundaries or left outside the home to burn through the night.

bonfire.jpgTo commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebrationsnap_apple_web.jpg was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

You get the picture…over time as different cultures collided, the night of October 31st came to have different meanings to different people. Either way, there seemed to always be a connection with the dead.

Immigrants that came to America brought their different traditions with them. For the most part they kept some of the same ideas from their ancestors, but practiced them more as a “party” and “celebration”. Later, it turned into community parties and a way for neighborhoods to unite.

halloween13.jpgWhile there are still people in the world that take this holiday seriously and use it to “connect with the dead”, for the most part it is just another reason for people to have parties and share candy. Parents just love to dress their kids up in dinosaur costumes that don’t fit.

Here are some other facts: (Yes…I know this has been long!) :)

- Halloween is second only to Christmas in spending. Consumers will spend over $2.5 Billion during Halloween. That’s a whole lot of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods.

- Halloween is the third biggest party day of the year behind New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday

- 86% of Americans decorate their homes at Halloween.

- Approximately 82% of children and 67% of adults take part in Halloween festivities every year.

- The official Orange and Black colors of Halloween came from orange being associated with fall harvest and black symbolizing darkness and death.

- More than 93% of children, under the age of 12, will go out trick-or-treating.

- 90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags.

- Over 10% of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes.

How Can I Know If Something Is Wrong?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30 in Clifton Park! New separate environments for Middle School and High School! See you there! NO…IT IS NOT CANCELED! :)

ALSO…there will be a special edition of Question From A Student on Friday. The question is, “WHERE DID HALLOWEEN COME FROM?” I will even write the whole post in this fun orange color! Yaaaaay!

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QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

(Click HERE to view other questions)

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QUESTION: How do I know if something is wrong (sin) or not?

This is something that we all struggle with. Why? Because we all have the urge to do what’s wrong inside of us…the Bible calls it a sin nature. Simply put, sin is anything that we do that goes against the laws of God.

“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” 1 John3:4

To keep this short, here are some thoughts for you:

- The easiest part is the fact that the Bible directly lays out in black and white some guidelines for us. The Bible specifically declares certain actions to be sin. For example, read the following verses – Exodus 20:1-10, Proverbs 6:16-19, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Those verses are just a few of so many where God paints a clear picture of what is a sin against Him. There is no doubt as to whether those things are sins.

- The big question here would be, “what about the things that the Bible does not cover?” Well, what I can say is that the absence of it from the Bible does not mean that it is okay. While the Bible might not list every single sin that can ever be committed, it does give us principles that we can turn to in order to be able to make a good decision.

It is good to ask not whether something is wrong, but, rather, if something is definitely good! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If there is room for doubt as to whether or not something “glorifies God”, then it is usually best to walk away. The problem is that so many of us, myself included, don’t walk away.

- Another thing we can do is ask, “who does this affect?” We are called to do two things – LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS! (Mark 12:29-30) If you think about it, if everyone followed those two commands, then there would not be a need for laws, government etc… Every wrong thing that we do affects either our relationship with God, or with other people! Every single wrong thing! Before we do something, we should ask, “who will this affect?” and “how will this affect them?”.

- As I said above, we exist to bring God glory. He is to be the number one priority in our lives! No habit, desire, recreation, relationship, dream etc… should ever take priority over conforming to God’s will. Only God should control our lives! Don’t become “enslaved” to anything! (1 Corinthians 6:12)

“And whatever you do or say, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17

The good thing is that while we will always have our “sin nature” in this life, we don’t have to let that sin control us! You can ask God to forgive you of your sins because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Some of my favorite verses are Ephesians 1:7-8 where it says, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his son and FORGAVE OUR SINS. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Once we accept Jesus into our lives, we can claim those verses as a promise from Him! (Also see Ephesians 1:7)

Who Created God? Where Did God Come From?

Don’t forget that UNITED is tonight at 6:30 in Clifton Park! New separate environments for Middle School and High School! See you there!

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QUESTION FROM A STUDENT

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QUESTION: Who created God? Where did God come from?

The atheist Bertrand Russell wrote in his book “Why I am Not a Christian” that if it is true that all things need a cause then God must also need a cause. He concluded from this that if God needed a cause then God was not God (and if God is not God then of course there is no God). This was basically a slightly more sophisticated form of the question, “Who created God?” Even a child knows that things do not come from nothing, so if God is a “something” then He must have a cause as well, right?

The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not really make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have odor, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created, or come into existence, or are caused. God is uncaused and uncreated – He simply exists.

How do we know this? Well, we know that from nothing, nothing comes. So if there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence then nothing would have ever come to exist. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been existing. That ever-existing thing is what we call…drum role please… GOD. :)

Here are some final thoughts:

- Everything that has a beginning has a cause. Right? The universe has a beginning. Therefore the universe has a cause. God, as creator of time (see below), is outside of time. Since He has no beginning in time, He has always existed, so doesn’t need a cause.

- I don’t have space to put all of the information on here, but if you TRULY study Evolution vs. Creation, then you realize that it is not really “blind faith” after all! Just start by thinking about the logical answers to these questions: Can mutations produce intelligent information? Can information really come from non-information? What is the source of all information?

- The Bible says that time is a dimension that God created, into which man was placed. It even tells us that one day time will no longer exist. That will be called “eternity.” God Himself dwells outside of the dimension He created (2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). He dwells in eternity and is not subject to time. God spoke history before it came into being. He can move through time as a man flips through a history book.

- I read an interesting quote about this. “Because we live in the dimension of time, it is impossible for us to fully understand anything that does not have a beginning and an end. Simply accept that fact, and believe the concept of God’s eternal nature the same way you believe the concept of space having no beginning and end—by faith—even though such thoughts put a strain on our distinctly insufficient cerebrum.” (Isaiah 57:15)

- Like so many things in life, it takes faith. “Faith” is where many people become stuck when studying the Bible. HERE IS THE WAY THAT I WAS EXPLAINED FAITH GROWING UP – We all believe in many things that we have never seen. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you seen history? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but by faith we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence.

- Do you know that you have a “receiver”? Prior to the moment that you accept Christ into your life, your ‘receiver’ (your spirit) is dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1). You need to be plugged into the life of God, and then you will come alive and become more aware of the invisible realm that requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for the person that comes to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

When discussing the answer to this question, you can get really really deep if you want. I might continue this next week. If you have further questions about this, then feel free to comment.  I hope that this makes some sense! :)

What do you think about God?

Questions That Students Are Asking

I am going to be started a new series of posts for my “Question From A Student” category very soon. I recently asked students to submit some more questions that they have about God, the Bible, and life in general.

Below is a list of some of the questions that were asked more than once. (The number represents how many times it was asked) Not all of them are listed. Some students submitted multiple questions.

- Why are we here on this earth? (16) (Also…What is my purpose?)

- Why does God love me? (8)

- Why do bad things happen to good people? (7)

- Once I have found who I am in this life, how do I stay true to God? (4)

-  Why hadn’t God showed Himself to me until this past summer? (4)

- When will God come back? Am I safe? (6)

- Is the Bible really true? (7)

- Does God have a physical body? (3)

- What was God doing before He created the Universe? (2)

- Is it wrong to question God? (2)

- Why did God seem so evident in the Old Testament, but so distant today? (2)

- How long is eternal? (2)

- I am so lost. I do not know where to turn. What can I do to feel like I belong? (5)

- I accepted Jesus, so why am I still scared? (4)

- Why is it okay for God to demand that we worship Him? Isn’t that a sin? (2)

- Why don’t we always feel happy and reassured about our salvation? (4)

- I have tried to listen to God, but He won’t speak to me. What can I do to hear him better? (4)

- Why does God care about me if I am just one of so many people in the Universe? How is that possible for Him? (5)

- Where did we come from? (7)

- Why doesn’t God answer me when my family is in need? (2)

- When I read the Bible, where do I start? (2)

- How do I figure out God’s will for my life? (6)

- Did God really create us? (4)

- Is there a way to become more devoted to Jesus, when I have so many distractions? (6)

- Am I going to heaven when I die? (4)

-  How can I make my dad love me? (2)

-  I have so many options after school for college. How do I choose? (2)

-  Is hell a real place? (3)

- What can I do to help at church? (3)

- How do I know that my boyfriend really loves me? (2) (Also girlfriend)

-  What advice do you have about dating? (8)

Anyway, this can give you an idea of what is being asked. I love it when students ask questions! There are many others that I didn’t post.

My biggest concern is that I’m afraid that so many students are going to the wrong places to find their answers! We need to do our part as leaders and parents to find out what they are asking, and then give them answers from God’s love letter to us – the Bible!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GOD, THE BIBLE, OR LIFE? Whether you’re a student or adult, feel free to leave a comment. You can put “ANONYMOUS” as the name. You can also make up an email address as well! :)

“Baggage” – (2 of 2)

n1273805272_119381_3235-cropped.jpgWe all have baggage and junk in the trunk! Baggage is the stuff we carry through life that keeps us from being effective for God and truly living the life that He has for us. (John 10:10) It could be emotional pain, worry, fear, betrayal, peer pressure, religion, abuse, sin, and many more!! Sometimes we carry baggage that is not even our own fault! For instance, many students are carrying baggage because their parent is trying to live out their dreams through his/her kids!

Either way…the question for this post is this:

WHY DO I STILL FEEL WEIGHED DOWN AND BURDENED ABOUT MY PAST EVEN THOUGH I HAVE GIVEN MY LIFE TO GOD? 

This is a question that most Christians ask many times through their journey of following Christ! I know I’ve asked it many times.

When we cross that line, and accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, then He forgives us and takes our sin away. (1 John 1:9) Right? Well, then why does a little bit of time go by and then I feel the pain and guilt again? You feel like the baggage is right back where it was before.  You read verses like Matthew 11:28-30 (see previous post) and then feel discouraged because you feel like the application of those verses don’t help you.

ANSWER:

Once you accept Jesus into your life, He does forgive you and takes that sin and moves it as far from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) You can’t get farther than that! You then know that you will spend an eternity with Him and that nothing we ever do can take that away! Do we still sin and need to ask for forgiveness? YES.

Here is the problem, we receive God’s forgiveness so willingly and openly, but we don’t receive our own forgiveness! We don’t forgive ourselves! When we sin, God will forgive us, but we still have to live with the consequences of our sin. We have a problem many times getting rid of the guilt and shame for the things that we have done, or for the things that were done to us.  God says to give that to Him as well! (1 Peter 5:6-10) The enemy wants us to believe a lie and he will try to bring up the “old stuff” in an effort to make us ineffective!

 Here are a couple of thoughts and verses that can help:

- When God forgives us “He remembers our sin no more”. (Jeremiah 31:34)

- When the old sins come into your mind and you start feeling guilty, KNOW that that is not from God.

- Continually renew your mind! (Romans 12:1-5)

- Continually praise God for what He has done for you. (Philippians 4:8)

- Remembering our own sins is only beneficial when it reminds us of the extent of God’s forgiveness and makes it easier to forgive others. (Matthew 18:21:35)

-  The next time your old junk comes into your mind, CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Start to thank God right then and there for his mercy.

- For some, they need to forgive someone who hurt them or betrayed them in order to be freed from the baggage! Let them be accountable to God, and don’t let that ruin you!

UNITED LIVE – “Baggage” (1 of 2)

img_1717.JPGUNITED and UNITED LIVE is growing with each event! Many students start coming right after school and are staying til the very end when I’m kicking them out on the curb. It’s awesome!

I had the pleasure of speaking last night at UNITED LIVE! Since camp, I’ve been burdened about all of the baggage that students carry. Adults too! PEER PRESSURE – EMOTIONAL PAIN – BETRAYAL – FAMILY CRISIS – WORRY – SIN. You name it, and it’s something that students are dealing with. 

We all start out our lives with everyone loving us caring for us. Everyone thinks your just adorable. Then…all of a sudden, someone says “I don’t like you” or “You’re stupid” “You’re worthless”. Someone that you trust betrays you. The sin in your life starts spiraling out of control. We are left carrying baggage. Baggage is the stuff that is keeping us from being effective for God. We all have baggage. You do. I do.

So what do we do? We try to just conform. We ignore it and just accept the weight as just being what your life is all about.

You start walking around thinking…”I’m not good enough” “No one loves me” “I can never trust anyone ever again” “My life is messed up” “I can never have God’s best for me”.

At that point, we either go in one of two directions.

1. We believe a lie and self-medicate to cover or ignore the baggage. This is where cutting, alcohol abuse, drugs, bad attitudes etc… come in! Nothing ends up working and you are left with this weight and you can’t handle it anymore. You are ready to BLOW UP!

We scream…WHERE IS GOD? WHY HAS HE FORSAKEN ME? I GAVE MY LIFE TO GOD BUT I’M STILL CARRYING THIS WEIGHT AND BURDEN. I CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS!

2. We seek truth.

God has been saying all along, “Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover yur life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me…watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live FREELY and LIGHTLY!! (Matthew 11:28-30)

God is telling us that he wants to take our baggage and give you the life that you can only have through Him! Jesus said, “The thief is there to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10) 

Now you can scream…I DON’T HAVE TO LIVE THAT LIFE! I AM NOT WHO THEY SAY I AM, I AM WHO GOD SAYS I AM! I’M NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THE ENEMIES LIES, I’M GOING TO BELIEVE TRUTH! I’M NOT GOING TO BE AFRAID ANYMORE! I CAN KEEP MY HEAD UP HIGH!

God’s grace reaches to the darkest places of our lives.

What is your baggage? Are you willing to let it fall so you can live freely and lightly?

Tomorrow, I’m going to write about why so many Christians still have this weight even though they have accepted Christ.

QFAS: Sticking With It After Camp!

(Did you check out the new camp pictures that I posted below yet?)

(CLICK HERE to view the other “Question From a Student” posts.)

question-from-a-student-pic.jpgQUESTION: How do I stick with the decisions that I made at camp now that I am home?

This is the question that I am being asked the most from students and parents now that we are done with both of our camps. Camp is powerful, and God really works in the lives of those that go, but what about when you get home and all the temptations and old junk come back?

Honestly, I think that it is a pretty easy concept, but it’s just very hard for all of us to actually do. It’s one of the most basic things we should do as a Christian. Are you ready for it? Here it is… MAKE THE DECISION TO REPLACE THE UNGODLY THINGS IN YOUR LIFE FOR THE GODLY!

You can’t make a decision for God and say you want to give your life to Him, but then only actually do it one hour a week at church! It has to be a lifestyle. Find the things in your life that are holding you back. What are the negative influences in your life? Certain friends? Music? TV? Internet?

Here are a few thoughts: 

- Start with your eyes and ears. I have written that 100 times on this blog, but it is so important. Everything that comes into our minds, which effects our heart, comes in through our eyes and ears. (In Vermont, they would call that having “IDEARS”. Get it? Your eyes and ears give you idears. haha…I know…pretty corny) Things we see, and things we hear. If your eyes and ears are turning into trash cans, then you will naturally end up leaving your God-given desires on hold. Let positive stuff invade your life.

- Use Philippians 4:8-9 as a filter. In whatever you are doing, use these verses as something to compare it to. It says, “You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

- If you are doing something destructive to your body or thought life, then don’t make excuses for it. Call it what it is…destructive.

- Look at the amount of TIME you spend on things. That usually can tell you where your heart is. is stuff like church second and third to sports or work etc…? If so, then you need to re-prioritize. I see students all the time making the decision to put other stuff before God and church. EVERY TIME they are struggling with staying connected to God. Don’t let that happen to you! Make the decision to commit to God now and stick with it.

- How do you stay positive? Read the Bible! Start in Philippians, because it has so many truths for the Christian to hold on to and apply.  PRAY! Do you talk to God regularly? He is always ready and waiting for us to talk to Him and tell Him what is going on in our lives. Get plugged into church! When you worship God and meet other people that are just like you and trying to do what is right, then that is one of the best things that you can do for your life. UNITED and our all-new c-group program will be starting soon. Make it a priority! God should come first in our lives.

I know that this is all pretty basic stuff, but it is something that I have tried to focus on in my own life. It works. Do I slip up? All the time, but I keep getting up and getting back at it! Don’t quit! You can control most of your situations if you are pro-active and focus on God.

More to come!