Tag Archives: Bible

Showers: Helping you figure your life out since always

“So Anna, what are you going to do with your life?”

“Anna, what’s your passion?”

“Anna, what are you going to study in college?”

“Anna, what are your plans for the future?”

These questions used to terrify me and irritate me to no end. Every day, someone asks what I’m up to or what my plans are, and up until about 35 minutes ago in the shower, my response ranged from “Well, I think I’ll go out for running back in the Dallas Cowboys*” to “Let’s be honest, I’m going to die alone with 74 cats and nobody will notice until 3 weeks later.” It was a sad, unfulfilling existence with no real direction or passion. And then I realized what has been in front of me this whole time.

The world.

All of it.

The whole thing.

I want to see it. 

If you don’t believe me, check my travel board on Pinterest.

Allow me to expound a little.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

-Hebrews 13:14 NLT

If you’ve grown up in church, or even attended church for any length of time, you’ve either heard this verse or some iteration of its message. We are sojourners and pilgrims in this world. We have no permanent residence here, we are simply passing through. One might even venture to say that we are merely guests here, passing through on our way to the Home that Christ is preparing for us in Heaven (John 14:1-4).

Fair warning, this could get a little eisegesis-y, but bear with me.

So we’re guests of the world. It’s an interesting thought. This place is not our home, we are just stopping through on our way Home. And what does a proper guest do for their host? I believe Miss Manners (yes, I just did make that ancient reference.) would say that a gift is in order. Do you see where I’m going with this? Flip back to John 15, if you have your Bible available (and if you don’t, open another tab and google it. The internet is a magical thing.) and check out vs 18-27. This is the part where Jesus is briefing His disciples on everything that is going to happen after He ascends into Heaven. Jesus wasn’t just going to leave us to our own devices when He went to prepare a place for us, He planned ahead and left us the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a gift. When we receive salvation, it is said that we receive the ‘gift of salvation’ or the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit.’ A gift. Are you tracking with me? Guests give their hosts gifts, the Holy Spirit is a Gift, and the logical conclusion is…

Obviously to buy the world a novelty corkscrew and a nice bottle of wine to say thanks for letting us stay for a bit.

Ok no really though.

When Jesus was training the disciples, He frequently commanded them to spread the gospel wherever they went.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

-Acts 1:8 NKJV

And since the Holy Spirit is now within us, our job is to be witnesses wherever we are. Consider it a thank-you gift to the world for putting us up as we pass through. But above all, we are following a direct command from God. 

This is the part where my wanderlust comes in.

I’ve always loved to explore. I love to see new places, try new things, go on adventures. I can distinctly remember being approximately 7 years old, going out for a date with my daddy in his work car, telling him I wanted to go to India. I had no idea where India was or what was there, but I wanted to go there. And then I got older and Tanzania sounded cool. And now I’m looking at going to Bible college in Italy. This dream of traveling the world is becoming more of a reality as time goes by. It is now that I realize that the world is my passion. I want to see the as much of it as I possibly can. I want to meet new people, and hug them, and tell them about Jesus. Geez I sound like a starry eyed traveler. But it’s all becoming clear to me now, this is what I want to do with my life. Not necessarily be a missionary, but rather be a sojourner. I realize now that I have this incredible gift, the gift of salvation, of the Holy Spirit, and I want to share it, share Him, wherever I land.

That’s what I want to do with my life now.

Fact of Life: If you listen long enough, Jesus will tell you what to do. And if it’s really His idea, He’ll provide the means to make it happen, too.

 

*Note: After a few offers from the Cowboys, I’ve had to stop telling people that’s what I wanted to do. They didn’t seem to understand the joke.

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Sermon Notes: John 4: 27-42

We pick up here right after the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and now we get to see the fallout from that. We have the reactions of the disciples, the woman, Jesus, and the Samaritans.

1) The reaction of the disciples.

The first reaction the disciples had was one of somewhat stunned awe. I mean think about it, here’s Jesus talking to a WOMAN. In Jewish culture, women were pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. They were baby-making housekeeping machines, and that’s it. But they don’t question Him, they watched and respected Him.

Main point: We don’t always know what God is doing, but He does. Knowing His plan isn’t your job. If you knew what God was doing, there would be no need to trust Him with your life. His plan is better than anything we could possibly imagine.

2) The reaction of the woman.

When Jesus talks to the woman, the first thing she does is leave her water pot. Check this out, they didn’t have indoor plumbing, so the water pot was the only way that people could get water into their homes. If you don’t have a means of getting water, you’re gonna die. This lady straight* leaves her WHOLE LIFE at the well to go tell the world what just happened to her. That brings us to the second thing that she does as a direct result of her encounter with Jesus: she goes into the town and tells EVERYONE. Now think about it, she’s a woman. And not only that, but she’s a SAMARITAN woman. She doesn’t have a whole lot of *street cred. Her life is transformed by Jesus, and suddenly nothing matters except telling everyone what He did.

Main point: God’s desire for us is to leave our whole lives behind to follow after Him. He has so many blessings that He is waiting to pour out on us, but we have to let go of everything else and trust that His plan is infinitely better than what we could ever think of. When God gets a hold of us and transforms our lives, the natural byproduct is that we can’t shut up about it. Think about this: your life could be the only Bible that some people ever read. Does your life reflect that God has transformed you?

3) The reaction of Jesus.

So after this whole shindig, the disciples are like “hey, you should probably eat something…” and Jesus is like “Nah, it’s cool, I already did.” Notice here that Jesus and the disciples are talking about two completely different things: the disciples are talking about physical food, but Jesus is talking about spiritual food. Jesus’ satisfaction comes from doing the will of the Father. He’s not into the whole physical thing, His head is completely in the spiritual realm. Life isn’t about the things that are seen, but rather the things that are not seen.

1 Timothy 2: 3-4 – For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Main point: Our will should be to do the will of God. Life isn’t about the physical, it’s about the spiritual. When we get a hold of that, we can experience the joy that comes from living for the Kingdom of God.

4) The reaction of the Samaritans.

So the Samaritan woman runs into town, talking all about this Jesus guy. As soon as the others hear her testimony, they believe it. They ask Jesus to stick around for a few days, and they believe for themselves.

Main point: If we have truly been transformed by God, our natural response will be to tell others.

Final thought: It’s not about me, it’s about what God is doing.

*I’m sorry! I’m listening to Lecrae right now so I got my ghetto lingo goin

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Sermon Notes: Prequel

Jeremiah challenged me to post sermon notes up here, but since we’re near the end of 1 John in church, I felt the need to lead into it. During the last few weeks of Bible class last year, I really dug in to the book of 1 John. It’s an awesome book, and it’s full of super practical stuff. I’ll stop rambling now and get to the notes. I would highly suggest grabbing your Bible right now and opening it to 1 John, because I can’t exactly post the whole book up here.

1 John 1

Main point #1: Word=Jesus

God’s word has been made a physical object which we are able to use, interact with, and experience on a physical, human level. Also significant here is that the Word is described as the Word of life. If you flip back to the gospel of John, you’ll see that he was referring to Jesus. He makes it abundantly clear that the Word is Jesus. He appeared, and so became manifest to all of humanity. People were able to see Him, experience Him. Jesus. The Word. We know what/who He is and what He says, and we can testify to it.

Main point #2: Walk in God’s Light

God is light. He is absolute perfection. There’s no darkness, shadow, no gray area when it comes to the things of God. That means that anyone who claims to have fellowship with Him must follow suit. If one says they have fellowship with Him, yet does not show the evidence of that, they’re lying to themselves and to God. Light and darkness don’t mix. Try lighting a candle in a completely dark room. The light will completely swallow up the darkness. It’s not like you can have like a floating orb of dark in a room that is unaffected by the presence of light. Darkness can only live in places where there is no light. So obviously, you can’t walk side by side with someone who is Light if you are living in sin and darkness. It just doesn’t work. However, that’s not to say that those who are in Christ don’t sin. We’re fallen creatures. It happens. But if we strive to walk in the Light, Christ has promised that His grace will cover us and cleanse us, allowing us to have fellowship with Him. It doesn’t mean we’ve never sinned at all, it means our sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Fact of Life: This took way longer than it was supposed to, I’m sorry. More to come soon. And when I say soon, I mean like 2 weeks maybe.

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Help my unbelief!

Oy. It’s been forever. Too long. Summer will do that to you. Not that that’s a good excuse, but it is what it is. Anyways, as part of summer, my family took a huge road trip out to the west coast. As part of road trips, you listen to the radio. It’s just what you do. Sometimes you hear some good stuff, sometimes you hear some complete baloney. Today we were listening to a sermon on the Christian station (scary, I know) and some guy was teaching on Mark ch. 9. This passage has always been impactful to me, but today it struck me in a new way.

The passage depicts a man whose son has a demon in him. He takes his son to the disciples, who fail to heal the boy. Now, most people would give up here. Jesus’ disciples had cast out demons before, and were known for their works. If they couldn’t something, the situation was pretty hopeless. This man doesn’t give up though. He wants so badly for his son to be healed, that he goes to Jesus Himself.

After a little exchange in which Jesus assesses the situation, the father asks, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Now Jesus responds, “If you can? All things are possible for one who believes”. This is where I’m getting to. After being told that, the man answers, “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!”.

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It has been since the first time I read it. I’ve always been amazed by this man’s lack of pretense. He doesnt care about putting on a facade, he just wants God to work. Here’s what struck me today: this is the way that I should always pray. I never have the faith that is required to pass whatever trial God has placed in front of me. If I could do it on my own, where would God get the glory? He doesn’t!

What God wants is for me to get to that first “I believe”, where I am willing to let Him help me. This is the easy(ish) part. The second, more difficult part is the second half: admitting that I have unbelief that I cannot fix on my own. Apart from Christ, I am uncapable of even the tiniest smidge of Faith. With that in mind, it would be unreasonable and, quite frankly, idiotic to try to fool myself into thinking that I have everything necessary to pass whatever trial God sends my way.

And that’s about all I have there, soooo……abrupt ending.

Fact of life: hashing out a whole blog post in a car on an iPhone is very difficult.

Second fact of life: that was a very long buildup for that itty bitty point. But hey it made sense to me!

Third fact of life: this is the first post to ever have three facts of life!

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Jesus cookies. Wait what?

1 John 5:21 — Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

This morning I was told that I was not allowed to exit my room (<–paraphrase) until I had read my Bible. It was a good challenge. I’m not in the habit of doing that, I’m embarrassed to admit. So when I was startled from oblivion, I dismissed my waker and immediately grabbed my Bible. I flipped it open and began to look for little orange brackets around some verse– any verse– that was even remotely applicable to my current situation. I landed on 1 John 5:21.

I love the book of 1 John. It’s so practical and straightforward about who God is, and how to know that you KNOW Him, how to be His child and act like it, and in knowing Him, learning to Love like Him. We’re talking Jesus-died kind of Love, not cookies-are-awesome kind of love. It’s mind-boggling. And then you get to the end of the book, the very last verse, and there’s this random little blurb about idols. Idols aren’t mentioned anywhere else in that book at all. But there it is. It always stuck out to me, and that’s why I marked it out in the first place, but it took on a new meaning today.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know what John really meant when he wrote that verse. This is what I got from it.*

John talks a lot about Love in this book. Loving like how Jesus Loved the whole world enough to lay down His life for a bunch of pagan heathen scumbags who He knew would willfully disregard Him, mock Him, and generally reject Him. Personally, I find it difficult to be around people who don’t like me very much, much less LOVE them. And yet that is what I, as God’s child, am not asked but COMMANDED to do. I could easily go off on a whole other rant on that but right now I’m talking about idols. The thing about idols is that they are things that we think we love. And we think we love them SO MUCH that they take priority in our lives and in so doing, ruin them. There’s a reason God talked about idols in the 10 commandments. They have a way of sneaking in and taking over everything, and sometimes you don’t even really notice it until it’s a humongous problem in your life. So here’s John, talking all about what Love really is, and he tosses this thing about idols in there. It’s to make sure that you have the RIGHT KIND of Love happening. Jesus-died Love not cookies-are-awesome love.

What’s your love about? What do you Love? Who do you love? Is there something you love that needs to be checked out as a cookies-are-awesome kind of love as opposed to Jesus-died Love?

Fact of Life: This was written terribly. I rambled a lot and started sentences with and. Hopefully you caught was I was saying though, because it had a major impact on my life. If it didn’t, maybe I’ll re-write it sometime so that it makes more sense.

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Ouch.

I have just been slapped in the face. Listen to what Jesus had to say here:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 5:39-40

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees here, telling them that they were complete hypocrites. They were hypocrites because though they looked to the Scriptures, they refused to look to Jesus. I thought to myself, “Goodness gracious, that’s me!” I don’t know about you, but I know that I am far too often guilty of looking for life in the Scriptures, instead of going straight to the source. Jesus was upset at the Pharisees for this very shortcoming. They were so wrapped up in searching the Scriptures and obtaining knowledge that they missed the point completely.

You see, the Pharisees loved the Scripture. In fact, they started out very well as far as that is concerned. They formed as a group of priests and rabbis who were sick of Jews who didn’t follow the Law. They interpreted the Scriptures literally, and in general had very solid doctrine. They opposed the liberal Sadducees, as well as extremist groups on the far right. You might compare their beginnings to the Calvary Chapel movement. I’m taking some liberties there, I know, but the similarities are undeniable. Over time, however, they began to place a higher importance on God’s word than on God Himself. Dangerous decision.

If you look back at the above quote, you’ll see that Jesus doesn’t necessarily have a problem with the Pharisees searching the Scriptures. In fact, he admits that the Scriptures bear witness of Him. His problem is that they think that they have eternal life in the Scriptures. This is a huge problem. Only Jesus is capable of giving eternal life. Yes, he reveals Himself to us through His Word, but the Bible is meant to point us to Jesus. It is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 4:13-14

I think that sometimes Christians (especially in the circles I frequent) tend to focus more on the Bible than on Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is great. It is God’s living word. The problem is that often we’d rather spend time in the Bible than spend time with Jesus. We have an issue, and instead of going to Jesus we go to the Bible. Do you see the problem here?

Here’s the root issue: the Pharisees didn’t want to see Jesus as who He was. It was too uncomfortable. He even told them that if He were anyone else, they would surely believe His words. Yet because of Who He was, they refused to believe in Him. We have the same issue. It is often more convenient, more comfortable to put our faith in something tangible. We can pick up our Bibles, open them up, see them with our eyes. But that’s not really faith, is it? No, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Look at the countless believers in persecuted nations who have little or no access to the Bible. What do they have faith in? Jesus Christ.

Again, I’m not advocating that we all stop reading our Bibles, I’m just saying that we need to rethink our priorities. Jesus had harsh words for those Pharisees, I pray that we would stop being like them. All too often we worship the Bible instead of worshipping God. Granted, it’s much more comfortable to worship that which is tangible, but God never called us to be comfortable, did He?

I didn’t think so.

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20 minutes

Acts 16: 16-34 (It’s a fatty passage, so go look it up yourself. Be a Berean, because I’m only typing out a few snippets.)

I’ve been working with this passage a lot lately. It’s the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi. I’m doing a skit on it in my drama club, and then I have to explain it. While reading it over again in Bible class, something stuck out to me. There’s an interesting timeline, an intriguing turn of events that happens in this story. Check it out:

Acts 16: 23-24 “And when they [the magistrates] had laid many stripes on [Paul and Silas], they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

Let’s take a look at this jailer. Average, run-of-the-mill pagan heathen scumbag. What else would you expect? The guy’s got his orders to follow, and he follows them quite well. Next slide.

16: 25-27 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Pause for just a second… the prisoners, not the jailer were listening to Paul and Silas. I think it’s safe to assume that at this point, the jailer is still a pagan. Bear with me, because I’m taking this somewhere.) “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” (pause again…Put yourself in the place of this jailer. You’re minding your own business, snoozing away. A couple of your lunatic prisoners are so crazy that they’re singing to themselves, but whatever. Torture can do that to a person. Then BOOM! Everything falls apart around your ears. You know that your job is to make sure that all of your prisoners are accounted for, otherwise it’s your head on the chopping block.) “And the keeper of the prison, awakening from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.”

I’m estimating that it took around 5 minutes, tops, for the earthquake to happen and then for the dust to settle enough for the prison guard to see what was happening and register that it was not good for his general well-being. So our timeline so far:

1) Jailer is a pagan.

*5 minutes later*

2) Jailer is a suicidal nutcase.

Moving on. In the next verse, Paul sees what’s going down, and he stops our suicidal buddy over here from ending himself. I’m sure at this point the jailer is pretty shaken up, and now Paul goes and tells him that everything’s all good, nobody took off. Seriously? That must have been a lot to take in. So the guy calls for lights and takes inventory, just to make sure. Just a guess, I’m thinking this took around 10 minutes, to get everybody mustered and in formation and then call roll. Shoot, how big was this prison anyway? Are we talking Alcatraz or the jail as seen in the Andy Griffith Show? That’s why I’m giving that amount of time.

16:30-31 “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.'”

1) Jailer is a pagan.

*Earthquake. Allow 5 minutes*

2) Jailer is a suicidal nutcase.

*Jailer’s life is pretty much spared because nobody ditched. Allow 10 minutes.*

3) Jailer wants to be saved.

16: 32-34 “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night [record scratch stop: SAME HOUR OF THE NIGHT, you guys. He’s ditching work. The guy could be killed for this. He doesn’t care. He’s got Jesus.] and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with his whole household.”

Final timeline:

1) Jailer is a typical pagan, heathen scumbag.

*Earthquake. Allow 5 minutes.*

2) Jailer is a suicidal nutcase.

*Reassurance from Paul and Silas; roll call; nobody’s missing. Allow 10 minutes.*

3) Jailer is curious about salvation.

*that very hour Jailer leaves work with 2 of his prisoners, takes them to his personal abode, cleans them up, and feeds them*

4) Jailer and family are baptized and saved.

My drama club’s theme this year is “Greater,” as in, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” So how does this story show God’s greaterness? (It’s in the dictionary. Don’t question it. NO, Webster’s doesn’t have it, duh! It’s in MY dictionary. I’m currently working with the publishers on it. Release date is tentatively April 1, year elebenteen seventy two.) My question is, how else would something that insane happen? This guy’s life completely changed in a matter of 20 minutes. God is greater than anything you would perceive to be an impossible situation. Think about it. Paul and Silas were beaten to a lovely pulp and then tossed in the stocks with goodness-knows-what kind of people. Even through that, they managed to keep their mind on God, and not get caught up in their situation.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

These guys had perfect peace because they trusted God, who was greater than their situation. So much so, that not only did God rescue them from their affliction, but He made a convert at the same time, out of someone completely unlikely. Bottom line, God can get a hold of anybody He wants, using whatever means He wants, in whatever situation He decides to act in. I don’t know about you, I’ve never been beaten within an inch of my life or anything like that, but I’ve been in places where I had no idea how anything could be worked out. But God managed to do it, because He’s God. Shoot, there’s a lot of situations that I would tend to brand “Lost Cause” and just shake my head as I watch it burn. Do I think God can’t handle it? *thinky, thinky, reflect, pause. write good ending.* You might have a situation that you think is impossible. You could be reading this at a library because it’s the only place you can get internet access because you’re homeless and you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight. Your parents could be in a divorce that just got hairier than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. Maybe you’re watching your friend slowly kill herself through an addiction and you can’t do anything to help. I don’t know what your situation is, you do. I do know this, though, God is bigger. (That sounds like a 3 year old’s answer. Think about it though, it’s more profound than you’d realize.) God is bigger than the… boogey man. He’s bigger than godzilla orrrr the monsters on TV ohhhh God is bigger than the… boogey man, and He’s watchin’ out for you and me. Seriously. You have the Creator of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE watching your back. He’s got you. Nothing is impossible to Him.

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