2014 has ended and 2015 has begun: time for new year resolutions! I usually make the same cliché resolutions. You know: eat better, exercise more, blah blah, etc. And like a lot of people I generally make my resolutions known, except for spiritual ones. Why? Is it out of shame? Fear of being made fun of or scoffed at? Or is it because of our society telling me that religion is offensive and to keep it to yourself? I don’t know, but not this year! Here are my spiritual resolutions:
1) Be a better spiritual leader to my family.
2) Read my Bible everyday.
3) Be a more patient father.
4) Pray. Pray by myself, pray with my wife, pray with my kids.
5) Grow closer to God.
If you look closely at the lens of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, you’ll see a ring near the base of lens that controls the F-Stop. The F-Stop represents the size of the aperture, or opening, in the lens. The lower the number, the more light is allowed to enter the camera to create a bright and vivid image. The higher the F-Stop, the slower the shutter needs to be to get enough light for a full exposure. If the shutter is too slow the image will be blurry.
Our hearts can act like an F-Stop to God’s light. If you open it wide, you will be bathed in God’s goodness and can absorb more love and knowledge and grow as a Christian. But if you close your heart, you open yourself to blurry images of God, leaving yourself vulnerable to underexposure, leading to Satan’s darkness.
James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
1 John 1:5 – “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
Most blogs, speeches, books, etc. are written for a target audience. I write this blog with three audiences in mind:
1) People who are looking for something. They may not know exactly what it is, but they are searching. If something that I write will cause just one soul to ask a question that could lead them to God, then I will count this blog a resounding success!
2) People who are like minded as me. Its always good to see that there is someone else out there who thinks the same way as you do, and another hope I have of this blog is to encourage other Christians who are also struggling through this world.
3) God. This is who its all about. God sees, hears, knows everything. He should be our target audience, not just in our speech or worship, but in everything we do –Colossians 3:17.
Comedian Chris Rock said, “I’m never proper or careful, but I never curse in front of my mother, either.” We certainly need to remember the people we love and respect when we talk, but we need to think about our Heavenly Father much more.
In Matthew 14:22-23 we read about Jesus and Peter walking on the water. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and Peter went out to meet Him. But Peter saw the storm and started to sink, he called out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!”, and Jesus reached down and pulled Peter out of the raging sea (verses 30-31).
Jesus will do the same for us today! He will reach down and help pull you out of your life’s raging sea. But some of you are thinking right now: I have already called out “Lord, save me!”, but nothing is happening. You are still sinking and you are just about to go under! Look at verses 28-29:
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Peter asked Jesus to call him, and He called. And then, watch this now, Peter got out of the boat. Jesus has taken the first step, He died for you and me, then He called us to follow Him. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. It’s now our turn to take a step, to get out of the boat and go to Jesus, then He will reach down and pull us to safety.
We’ve all seen the movie or read the story of Snow White. The wicked queen asks the mirror who the fairest of them all is and she doesn’t like the answer! Well folks, a mirror doesn’t lie, but sometimes we do lie to ourselves.
James 1:23-25 tells us of just that same idea. If you look into the mirror and see the person you ought to be, but then go about your day being the opposite person, you are lying to yourself. Just because you look the part, doesn’t mean you will get the role in the school play.
The same goes for our Christian lives! We may look good to the world by attending services and by being a “good person”, but until we match our hearts to the image we are portraying we are on that wide path that leads to destruction.
Or maybe your reflection is just the opposite, you don’t like what you see in the mirror and you want to change it. Acts 2:38 suggests a good place to start: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Its impossible for us to control the words the people around us use, but sometimes we are able to control the people who are around us. Unfortunately we can’t control who our employers hire to work with us or who is admitted to the schools we attend.
For those of us who work in or study in a harsh environment language wise, Jesus has good news for us! In Matthew 15:11 He says, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person”. Or, its not the things that we hear and see that make us bad people, its what we say and do that define us.
This does not mean the we can surround ourselves with un-Godly things intentionally and not repeat what we see or hear and be ok. Paul addresses something similar in Romans 6:1-2. Paul asks, ” Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” In other words, do you intentionally commit sins because we know that God will forgive us? In verse two Paul answers his own question, “By no means!” This same principal can be applied to who and what we expose ourselves to.
One area that Christians fail in, myself included, is music. The radio can be a horrible thing for you and your children to listen too. Good news is there are some wonderful musicians out there that are great to listen to. Two of my favorites are Acappella, and Faulkner University’s Cornerstone.