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The Power of Prayer February 26, 2009

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, The Journal.
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So there is this woman in my class who was previously diagnosed with cancer. The story as far as I know it is that she had had some kind of lung cancer and that it was removed. Well the other week she was supposed to go in for another scan to investigate what they may be another sign of cancer. So in my class she recieved a phone call (keep in mind I was not present during this class, I skipped and I was very upset that I did so) that she has to go to the doctors office, and that she should bring someone with her. So in class my professor got everybody to prayer over her and they did so, very emotional, tears everywhere. When I had heard the news I prayed for her as well. But I don’t think my faith was that strong, because really all I did was remember her in my prayers, that there would be healing and God would be glorified through what would happen. And boy was he glorified. Turns out, the doctor had the wrong scans, and Jessie, the woman, didn’t have any trace of cancer! She was completely fine! ISN’T THAT AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! God totally took all of us in a 180 turn and took our misery into sounds of great JOY!!!!!!!!!!! GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT PRAISE HIS NAME FOR SOMETHING SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Learning to Teach February 16, 2009

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, The Journal.
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So today I gave my first official lesson at the Senior High youth group I help with, otherwise known as the Refinery. Well, technically it was my second time teaching, but this was the first “official” time where I knew¬† weeks ahead of time and had the ability to prepare. I felt like prepared well, and God certainly inspired me of ways to get my point. But, like everyone who teaches their first time in front of a crowd of people, I got jittery and started to sound like I was speaking in tongues because I was going so fast. The first half went by rather quickly, then I had a ten second pause trying to collect my thoughts (which was rather embarassing), but then as I continued on my second half, it went by rather well. I made the points God intended and I do think we’ll be implementing them in our youth group. (I spoke on Luke 10:25-37 by the way, good passage on who is it that we are to serve). As I’m reflecting on what I had taught this night, I’m beginning to realize that I really didn’t implement my own message. I mean, who is Jesse’s neighbor right now that he needs to serve? Who needs the loving? Maybe if I actually implemented my own message I’d be a better teacher. Makes sense right? Hmmm….

Romans 5 February 10, 2009

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Heyo all, it’s been a while, but I think I’m just going to jump right in on what I’ve been thinking. Earlier today I was reading through the book of Romans, specifically chapter 5. I’ve been reading it mostly as a time of devotional to God and study as well, I have been going through different books of the Bible and mostly reading a chapter or a passage as I plug my way through. In chapter 5 of Romans, the bulk of it discusses the differences between Adam’s sin and Christ salvation, two acts done by two different people. Paul attempts to prove the fact that one man’s actions can have repercussions for everyone in verses 12 and following. He explains that through one man’s sin, Adam, all were caused to sin and that everyone inherited an unrighteousness within themselves. Sounds kind of unfair doesn’t it? I mean for one persons actions to cause all this harm and despair in our being, and that we have to accept the fact that one person caused us to have the choice of sin rather than righteousness. But how much more unfair is it that one person paid for all those sins? And that one person suffered and died so that we no longer have to be sinful or be condemned? NO ITS NOT FAIR! BUT JESUS DID IT ANYWAY!

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through the righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:19-21

As I read that passage, it blew my mind at how much more I realized that God would be glorified through His Son Jesus. Because when the Law came into the picture, sin increased because we now knew what was disobedient to God, and that sin caused so much unrighteousness. Yet when the grace of God came and took all that away, Christ and God were exponentially magnified and glorified! Even though one person potentially plunged our existence into death and despair, the One person took the responsibility of that action and made it possible for many to become righteous in Him.

The Christmas Service December 25, 2008

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, Randomness.
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I guess it’s been a while since my last post, but I figured today of all days was as good as any to post something that hit me today. Today I attended one of the Christmas Eve services my church held for the night. Everybody can relate to the setting, the choir singing on key, the people selected to light the candles, and the elders reading the nativity story. I do enjoy our reflection on the birth of Christ Jesus. The songs we sing such as O Holy Night, Silent Night, and O Come all Ye Faithful have excellent imagery that let’s us reflect on the birth. There’s nothing like hearing the congregation sing and worship God together as one. Yet there was one thing that bothered me…

As I looked around the room, I began thinking about the time and effort put into the service. I’m not ungrateful about the people that came together to create a service that reflects on Christ, not at all. But I’m concerned about the time they put into it. I know that the month of December is the busiest month of the year for our church. And isn’t that a problem? I mean, it should be the opposite shouldn’t it? The music director for my church is just overwhelmed with concert after concert and requests for several sound equipment. This is what we’re warned not to do, to add fluff to Christmas. I mean with all these concerts and events, are the leaders of our church really getting the time with their family that they need? All these things that happen, it doesn’t really helps us focus on Christ. A lot of times I feel like we do them just to feel nice.

I think it would be wild for a church to just not do anything with the exception of a service. I think the members themselves would take the duty of organizing these kind of events. In addition, on Christmas, we need to include the miracle of Zachariah and Elizabeth and the birth of John. We never put the two together, and they are a part of the nativity. We don’t need the concerts or the teas, we only need the reminder of the miracle of Christ. John 1:1 tells of the Word became and verse 14 of that Word came and “tabernacled” amongst us. God, Christ, in all His glory, majesty, and power, came and became a baby! The God of the universe, was a wailing and screaming baby… and that’s the miracle of Christmas.

John is my Hero, Part 1 November 18, 2008

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, The Journal.
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I adore the story of John the Baptist. He is my hero. If there was one key figure in Scripture who fervently followed God and His calling as well as had the same harboring doubts as any Christian, it be John the Baptist. If we were to categorize his life in literature, we would call his tale a tragedy. Nothing really good happens to him, and in all his preaching and teaching and walking of the faith, he ends up with his head chopped off by the order of the king. Sounds like some life we should aspire to right? I mean who wouldn’t want a steady diet of wild honey and locusts? Or not take a bath for… an entire lifetime?

locusts

honey21

John was a guy from even before day one, when he was still in his mother’s womb, started to joyfully serve God. Elizabeth, John’s mother, told Mary that when the “sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy!” (Luke 1:44 ESV). Even before he could speak John was enthusiastic about his ministry! If you sit down and think, when was the last time we leaped for joy because we were serving God?

I can tell you of plenty of times when youth group was the last thing on my mind or that the service project I was about to do was a tremendous inconvenience to me. (I really thank the grace of God to still work through me in these stages and that Christ was still preached even when my heart was coarse). Yet there are other times, the times when everything is wrong or broken, when life is crushing, taunting you, and mocking you, and the times where people just seem to have a morbid atmosphere about them. It is these times when all I want to do is seek God, love God, know God, and work for God!

I think John is the perfect model. His life is never complacent and it never takes a breather. He is constantly paving the way for God, for the Messiah to come! I’m not saying that he went and looked for a way to make his life a gauntlet of pressure, but at the same time I don’t think he ever complained about it. John is my hero because he didn’t complain about the pressure or about the struggle. Complacency didn’t exist in him. So to make it practical, why do we seek to be complacent? Why do we seek to have everything go smoothly? What are the things that we will accept as a constant struggle so that it will bring us closer to God with every battle?

Teaching October 1, 2008

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, Randomness.
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Ever thought about how much what we do, what we say, and how we act affects those that watch us? In one sense we are constantly teaching those around us. We teach them about ourselves, we teach them about others, we teach them about our worldview, and sometimes we teach them how they should act. I think we often forget how much our own lives affect others. We forget that there are people who actually look to us for acceptance, or for advice, or even for a way of living.

Teaching is done everyday. It is done when we speak, when we react, and sometimes when we think. Every action we do will teach someone. So what are the implications of this? Do we really ever think about how much we affect others? How are we to go about our daily lives in a manner that reflects Biblical principles? Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us that, “These commandments which I am commanding you, you shall keep on your heart, you shall teach them diligently to our children. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” If we live a life of consitency, where God’s commandments are reflected in our everyday life, we can teach those whom we love what it means to love God. To me this is one of the most important aspects of Godly living, being able to see God reflected in us. But how can we teach this?

We can teach this in how we speak, for instance we can offer encouragment instead of a sarcastic comment. We can choose to have other people have the last slice of pizza instead of ourselves. We can calm ourselves down when we drive when we drift to road rage. What are ways you can teach people?

Learning September 22, 2008

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We all learn. We all like to learn things that interest us. And sometimes we learn things that discomfort us. Personally, I love it when teachers and professors have you learn things yourselves. It’s a pretty awesome experience when you get things to click together in your head and being able to say that favorite saying, “EUREKA!” At times though we have to learn things the hard way, especially in relationships. For instance, I used to date this girl in college. One night before I dropped her off at her dorm, I had accidentally called her by her roommates name. BIG MISTAKE. Sometimes my mouth goes before my mind, I really have to learn to control that. I learned the hard way that sometimes people, women in particular, don’t really blow things over as well as I do.

Sometimes learning can be easy, especially when someone is supervising or teaching is over you. My Bible professor in my Old Testament class really challenges our thinking about evangelical presuppositions or what we take for assumed knowledge. In one class he had our heads spinning about wether or not the Davidic covenant is conditional or unconditional and wether or not it has been fulfilled. My head is still trying to wrap around the discussion.

And then there are times when we learn things about ourselves. When we start to analyze ourselves and what we have done in the past, we find out what our tendencies are, how we act in front of others, and how we act in times of distress. We all can say what we believe in, however, how many of us actually apply what we believe in with our daily lives. The past couple of weeks and the summer have been a time for me to learn some things about myself. Just yesterday I was involved in a pretty bad car accident (I’m ok so don’t comment about how I am doing). I guess you could say I recieved a crash course in handling car accidents. God is good, He definitely helped me to step up as a man or a leader and handle the situation as best as I could have. I do have to be honest, I was shaking in my shoes the whole day.

Learning is something that we really do everyday. So what are things you have learned recently? What have you learned about yourself? Do you like what you have learned?

The Fifth/My curse July 29, 2008

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, Randomness, The Journal.
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Today was a rough day. Nothing spectacular happened, however I felt my soul hit hard by thoughts of my brother. For those of you who don’t know, I have a 17 year old brother, he’s 16 months younger than me, so we’re pretty tight. About a month ago I had learned something about my brother’s past that has dramatically shaped how I look at my brother now. He went through an incredible traumatizing experience that certainly could have permanently haunted his life. Really praise God that Satan wasn’t given that chance, my brother has stronger convictions than most believers and I bet my life on it that he has greater convictions than some of the greatest speakers and pastors that have served God. It’s really more of a testament to God in how he has blessed my brother and how he’ll continue to bless him as he enters the ministry.

Now, when I had heard this history of my brother, it took me a while to fully process the gravity of what had happened to him. I was crushed as any brother would be, I love my brother and would lay down my life for him in a heart beat, that’s just who I am. But then I began to reflect on the life I lived with my brother. The person who had hurt my brother was in no way as a great a criminal as I was. For years I tortured my brother, calling him names, beating on him, pulling pranks, simple brother things really nothing to extravagant. But the entire time, for the better part of ten years, I had no idea the kind of hurt he suffered, I was never the bigger brother I should have been.

Not to toot my own horn, but I always felt like God did give me this personality that would willingly be there for the hurt of others, and I have actively pursued that since high school. Yet in ignorance I could not see the hurt that was right in front of me. Ten years my brother never told me this, and during that time my parents were getting a divorce and I had pretty much shut him out of my life. I was jealous and angry at him during that time. How come he was the more spiritual? How come he got the better grades? Was thinner and more athletic than I? All these questions buzzed around my mind creating a misguided and inappropriate disdain for my brother. What kind of brother am I?

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t, I wasn’t the brother who pulled my brother aside and told him I loved him. I wasn’t the bigger brother who protected him from those who picked on him during elementary school. I wasn’t the brother who gave an ear to him when he went through times of struggle. My pride had really blinded me from this pain. Thank God Johnny came out the way he did. If you were to talk to him, you would be astonished at the knowledge of his God and others. How quickly he forgives those who have trespassed against him. The hurt that had happened to him then, he now sees as a way to further advance the Kingdom with his Testimony, PRAISE GOD!

Yet I can not bring myself to forgive myself. My struggle, my lament is that I had allowed this to happen to him, I was the greater sinner. I know God sees all sin as equal, a lawbreaker is a lawbreaker (ref. James). However, I knew the Word, it was in my heart, in my mouth, I knew of the warnings and this other person did not. My brother has forgiven me and the other, God has forgiven me and I pray that this other will seek His forgiveness. But I still can’t forgive myself. It is this pain that is tearing me up. What if something as traumatic like this hits close to home again? And I continue to blindly go on without seeing it? I pray that this won’t happen. I pray that someday I can forgive myself, I’m sure I can be used by God in a much easier way.

I pray that I am not being blind to other hurts in front of me now. One thing I appreciate is honesty and a person that can be real, so if I notice a hurt I can be there. My warning and I guess word of advice is to not go seeking out for the hurt of others before solving the hurt of your family. Your family is yours forever, whether we respect and love them or not. If we don’t help our home and family, what kind of followers of Christ are we? Or simply what kind of people are we? Certainly not ones that are qualified to help others. Please don’t be like me, and have years of regret for not loving my brother the way I should have. I told him that will no longer be the case. I am going to love my brother and be content with the fact that he will do greater things than I in God’s name. Please, seek for the healing and love of your family.

Too much repenting/The Third July 24, 2008

Posted by Jesse in Biblical/Theological Thoughts, The Journal.
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Whoa, what a day. It’s incredibly ironic the places God chooses to use to show us what we’re doing wrong or to have a change of heart about something. Recently I have been listening to sermons suggested by some friends, it’s an awesome way to get fed when your painting (which is what I do for a job) and to find interesting ways to prepare messages. The problem is that I sometimes get so worked up in the messages I’m listening to, that I forget I’m at work! Today for example, I was listening to a man name Matt Chandler, great speaker I highly recommend him, and for six hours I’m listening to this man, really taking in what the Holy Spirit is saying or said through him. I got so worked up that I stop painting and tears start to well up in my eyes! Then I have to repent for not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, PAINTING! I thought it was humorous in a way cause I’m almost literally telling the Holy Spirit to stop working in my heart so I can get back to work. I mean honestly, what if my boss walked in on me praying and repenting to God with a paint brush in my hand? He is a Godly man himself, but even I would say to stop listening to this stuff at work, it’s ridiculous!

At any rate, my heart was confronted to some things that I have been previously processing through. One issue in my life is pride, a pride that I don’t necessarily think I’m better than people, but I can sense this air about me that shouldn’t be there. It wasn’t until Matt said it that I realized what is was. I think I get prideful in admitting to myself that there is nothing wrong with me, that I was sent here to help, encourage, and admonish others. Now I don’t think there is anything wrong with the latter, but how big a crime it is for me to actually think for even a moment that I am above sin! Above other peoples hurt! We’ve all interacted with people that have said this too, and now we know what is wrong with them, pride. It is still something I’m chewing through, however, so I still need time really confront this pride but if you’re going around thinking that your life is perfect and now it’s your turn to help, well you’re wrong! There’s obviously something wrong here! *Preaching mode turned on* If we sit on our butts thinking that the only time we can help the body of Christ or anyone else as well, then we’re wasting away! God doesn’t want to see what you can do in perfect conditions, God wants to see what you can do in crazy times! When we’re given little and have invested in those little things, God will bless with even larger things to care for (Matthew 25:26). Read James for crying out loud, you prideful biggots. Let’s do God’s work even under stress! How much more glorious it will be to see someone’s life change for the better when all you see is darkness in your own life! Let your “self” die, so we can resurrect in Christ and live the life He lived, one of servitude to others! I mean Jesus Himself was still serving even when He was nailed on the cross.

In addition, I’m recently confronted with a little of feeling of “not doing anything.” Here’s what I mean. Ever since the beginning of college, I have had this hunger for God and knowledge. I’m enjoying reading books, talking to people about theology, and actually enjoying being involved in class. No crime here. I love to learn, and I especially love to learn about Scripture, the Bible, and God. However, what the heck am I doing with all this learning? I have just come to realize that I have never actually put my knowledge to practice. All this gaining in theology, text, literature, writing, and for what? So I can know how to read the Bible better? So I can know where the books of the Bible are? I should be taking in what Scriptures are saying! I have to live the life I’m reading about! I’m not evangelizing at all if all I’m doing is sitting there learning! Let me get out there, actually listen to others, love others, and give two craps about their life! !$#!(%R*!*(!%!#_(&!

Now all this is not some crazy new revolution I’ve dawned upon myself. There is still time to process this, chew on it, think it through. I think one of the biggest failures Christians do when hearing or reading a message is take it in, agree/disagree with it, think about what was though provoking, and then do nothing to apply it. Do nothing in their life to make an application for what the speaker had to say. I pray I won’t make that failure today, so give me some time, maybe in the future I’ll blog about what I did to apply these truths in my life. Until then, CIAO!