Do you hear the knocking?

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There is a song written by Bob Dylan and sung by various artists since then called “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”  The song deals with the fact that the concept of right and wrong has been diluted and when we come to realize our mistakes of doing wrong believing it was right at the time, there is no way we can be accepted into heaven, yet we are relentless in our efforts to keep knocking.  The following is a link of my favorite version that was in the movie “Lifted” (Highly recommend watching it if you have not already):

In this postmodern culture we live in, we have developed the “karma mindset” of what goes around comes around and people get what they deserve.  The problem is that “karma” is twisted truth and the very fact that you have lived long enough to see that everyone does NOT get what they always deserve should be all the proof you need.  The truth of the matter is, everyone, including you and me, do not get what we deserve.  Rather, we get Grace and Mercy.  Yes, there is Justice involved as well, and it is in Justice where people get confused with “karma.”  Our minds easily add up everything we have done bad in our life that brings us down in despair.  At this point, I would like to share George Strait’s song, “Love Without End”:

The good news is that we do not need to live a life that focuses on “being good” or “doing good” because in Revelation 3:20, Jesus Christ says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  There is no need for us to knock on heaven’s door because Jesus is knocking on our door!  When there are things going good and right in your life, Jesus knocks, telling you there is much more!  When things go bad, nothing is going as we planned, Jesus knocks, telling us to let Him in and He will make things right!  Will you open the door?  Maybe you are too ashamed to open the door because of all the messes you have made in your life and you do not want a perfect God to see that.  Guess what?  He has already seen your mess, He has seen that you have fallen, He knows your situation.  Maybe you have opened the door before, but then you just started going back through the motions, Jesus continues to knock!  Maybe you opened the door before and you were being led out of your comfort zone and decided to shut it.  Jesus continues to knock!  I love this one quote that was read in the TV series “Touch”:

“There are 31,530,000 seconds in a year, a thousand milliseconds in a second, a million microseconds, a billion nanoseconds.  And the one constant connecting nanoseconds to years is change.  The universe, from atom to galaxy, is in a perpetual state of flux.  But we humans don’t like change; we fight it, it scares us.  So we create the illusion of stasis.  We want to believe in a world at rest, the world of right now yet our great paradox remains the same.  The moment we grasp the now that now is gone.  We cling to snapshots, but life is moving pictures, each nanosecond different from the last.  Time forces us to grow, to adapt because every time we blink our eyes the world shifts beneath our feet.  Every day, every moment, every nanosecond the world changes.  Electrons bump into each other and react; people collide and alter each other’s paths.  Change isn’t easy, more often it’s wrenching and difficult, but maybe that’s a good thing, because it’s change that makes us strong, keeps us resilient, and teaches us to evolve.”

Our God, who is the one and only intelligent designer, created us to change.  He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.  Stephen Covey once wrote, “Taking charge of your life requires discipline.  But discipline is neither readily attained nor easily maintained.  It demands the mental stamina to overcome empty passions and faulty habits.  It also requires the fortitude to resist the pull of so many temptations that otherwise might lure us toward meaningless sideshows.  But more than anything, it demands a relentless focus on what matters most.  Many people see discipline as the absence of freedom, when in fact it is the source of freedom.”  What matters most in your life?  Jesus Christ is knocking on your door because He wants to be in a relationship with you.  In John 14:6, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  It is my prayer that the door Jesus is knocking on will remain open in my life.  I encourage that to be your prayer as well.


Freedom of Life

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Everybody can fall from privilege, nobody can fall from grace.  Now is the time to achieve freedom FROM the world towards freedom TO and IN Jesus Christ.  Our possessions and self-centered desires are obstacles that prevent us from gaining more understanding of God’s heart and His will for our lives to be lived here on earth just as it will be lived in His kingdom.  I am not saying that we need to just forget about all of the obligations we agreed to and debts we have made in life to this point.  I am not saying that we need to sell everything we own and be missionaries in third world countries.  I am saying that we need to gain perspective of our existence here on earth.  In the words of James Thurber, “All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.”

We need to seek Jesus Christ ONLY, nothing more, nothing less, and that will result in a truly filled life.  A part of the mission of the church I am attending is the mission that should be of every church, “to pursue the face of God, not just his hands.”  When we pursue His face, everything else will fall into place.  Abide in Jesus and allow him to abide in you.  Christianity is not just a one-time decision or a few simple words said in a prayer.  Christianity is a commitment to a relationship that once it is obtained requires us to change our ways of thinking and acting.  Christians take up the name of their Lord and Savior and have the ability and therefore the obligation to live up to it.  Let us be honest with God, with others, and with ourselves because when we face reality and be authentic, only then will we have the opportunity to be united in love and peace.

Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to WORK it and take care of it.” The emphasis of work is mine because it is the key word.  As Christians, we cannot be content with the way we have been or where we are right now, but need to pray continuously, always following Jesus Christ even when it requires leaving our comfort zones.  We should have no need to fear because we read in Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.   You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”  Let us meet God in the garden, talk with him and walk with him now through eternity!

The Journey of the Journey

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This past weekend, I went to a men’s retreat for the first time and learned a lot about who I am, where I am, and where I need to be.  I thought I would take some time to reflect and share my experiences because there was just so much symbolism that took place over the weekend.  The original start time for the retreat was 9:30 pm Friday.  According to GPS systems, the drive was calculated anywhere from 2 ½ to 3 hours.  I joined a carpool with two other guys and that is where the fun began.  There were times of immense traffic as well as bridges being out and road construction galore.  All three of us had our GPS systems on and it still took a few stops asking for directions (Yes, men do sometimes ask for directions) and a few calls to find out how to get to where we need to be.  When we finally got to the destination that only took a little over 4 hours, we discovered that we were not alone.  People were still on their way, going around similar if not the same detours we had to go.  Once the majority of the group arrived, we officially began the retreat around 11:30 pm.  The irony of all this was that the main topic of the retreat was “how to be a wise man.”  The truth of the matter is that life rarely goes the way we plan it, hence the reason for my title of this blog.  Everyone’s life is a journey and there is a journey within that journey.  One of the many quotes mentioned at the retreat was, “When I am alone, I am dead.”  This comes from:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.  Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?  And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”  AND 1 John 3:14-18:  “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.   Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.  This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.   If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?  Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

The problem is that I am so accustomed to being independent taking heart to the adage phrase, “If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.”  It is my desire to live a life that is completely devoted to God and to only think, speak, and act in ways that are pleasing to Him alone.  My major struggle is the application of this.  HOW DO I LIVE A LIFE THAT IS PLEASING TO GOD????  Regular evangelism or missionary work?  More involvement in Church?  More time in prayer and Bible reading?  All of the above are great in and of themselves, but what specifically do I need to do?  The answer is surprisingly simple.  Keep focused on Jesus Christ and walk by faith.  Everything else will follow as long as we do not force ourselves to do things we were not meant to do at a certain time.  Two quotes I got from the retreat are worth mentioning here, first, “It is easy for our heart to lead us, however, we need to lead our heart.”  Second, “Self-control consists of behavior habits that build intimacy with God.”  Whether we like it or not, we are on God’s time and He will get His way and will put us on detours in life when we start going on our own and will continue to work on us, in us, and through us.  Philippians 1:6-7 says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in youwill carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.   It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart,and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.”  We read in 1 John 4:4, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Faith does not mean staying positive, it means holding on to your trust in God.  Our lives reflect on our trusts, what and/or who we depend on a daily basis.  A belief without trust is just a wish.  One of the activities we did on the retreat was split up in small groups and hiked through a 7 mile path that consisted of various levels of terrain, taking turns carrying a 30 pound rock in a backpack.  The group I was in decided that we will trade off the rock every 20 minutes.  At the halfway point of the walk, that was reduced to 10 minute intervals because that is where the exhaustion was kicking in.  Personally, at the halfway point, not only was I tired and sore, but also felt nauseous and faint.  Because I was part of a team, I still took my share of carrying the rock indicating to the group that I was fine because I knew that the experience was well worth it.  Every time our turn ended and we placed the backpack with the rock down on the ground for our team mate to pick up, there was a great feeling of freedom.  What was the message from this?  Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.   For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  We find in James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” Galatians 6:1-5, “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.  Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.   But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.  For each person will have to carry his own load.”

God created us and knows our hearts, but we still need to be real in our prayer lives and be completely honest and open towards Him, we also need to be real with ourselves and know who we are and finally we need to be real with each other.  Who are we?  Children of God living in a world full of sin that requires constant war of our minds, hearts, and spirits.  As long as we are still living in this world, we will make some mistakes, fall down and lose some battles.  As believers in Christ, we can have assurance that the war has already been won.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 declares, “But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.”  We cannot survive this world on our own, which is why God established the Church for people to come together and share their lives with one another as Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”  We find in 2 Corinthians 5:7-21, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.  Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”   He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”