This subject has been in my mind a lot the past week or so because my close friend Amanda and her family came to Puerto Rico for a visit. I hadn’t seen her in over half a year. That’s what happens when my dad’s job moves us around a lot. In May it will be two years since I met her. Let it suffice to say that we became very close friends very fast. Anyways, she came and it was one of the best weeks I’ve had since moving here. It felt as if Amanda had never left, or maybe more like I had never left her. But she and her family had to leave and go home just a couple of days ago. It was really hard seeing her leave, but I’m so glad she came.Read More »
So it’s another day for a blog post. What should I talk about today? Well…I recently read The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller. It was a really short and easy read, but it made some great points that I’d like to maybe expand upon.
This is a shout out to all the teenagers out there: don’t let your fear control who you are or even more important, who you become. Now by saying this I’m not saying that I don’t have any fear, that I’m not afraid. That would be an absolute lie. I’m afraid, a lot.
I’m afraid of failing in my schoolwork. I’m afraid of not getting everything I need to get done to graduate from high school. I’m afraid of meeting new people (it’s not as bad as it was a few years ago). I’m afraid for my siblings and all those people I know who aren’t saved. What if they don’t accept Christ into their hearts and lives?
Everyone is afraid of something and these are just a few of mine. And you know many of these fears boil down to? Not being good enough. A fear of being average. And you know what?
We will never be good enough.
We try day after day to live up to media’s standards or social standards or our standards or whoever’s standards. We try to do this because we care about what people think of us. We want to be popular, to be liked. But we won’t ever live up to these standards or people. We can’t. Our sinful nature will always get in the way.
1 Corinthians 4:3-4
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
It doesn’t matter what people think. Their opinions do not matter. In the end, we will only be headed to Heaven or Hell. These standards are useless. All we do is full short of them (unless they’re so low as to make us feel bad about having such low standards).
The only standard and opinion that matters is God’s. And because of Christ, we are seen as blameless before Him.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or what we will do. We’re saved forever.
So don’t let your fears control you. Don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t even worry about what you think. God’s opinion is the only opinion that matters and He has already proclaimed you His own child!
Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
There is no need for fear. This is a time to rejoice!
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
I found this quote in The Finest Hours and thought that it fit this post. It is true though isn’t it? We each have a reputation. It is what people think of us from our actions, words, and just by our way of life.
1 Samuel 16:7
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
But God looks at the heart. At our character. At our integrity. So, of course, we should all want to have integrity, because that is what God’s looking at. What He cares about. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks, because we aren’t looking for the world’s glory but God’s glory.
To receive that we need to have a firm foundation to build our integrity upon. If we don’t have a firm foundation we are like the man who built his house upon the sand. When the trials and struggles came, everything collapsed.
I don’t want to be that person who seems to have strong beliefs. But when the hard times came I come to realize that my foundation was built on stuff that only lasts maybe a little ‘while before failing. I don’t want you to be that person either.
We need that strong foundation. Only one person can give us it. God. No other person, thing, or even yourself can give you a strong foundation. Because at one point or another everything else will fail. But God won’t. He will never fail you. And I know by now that you’ve probably tired of me telling you that. But it is so important. And something that is so easy to take for granted.
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.”
Unknowingly, we sometimes built our foundation on idols like money or family. Somehow we think money can save us, but it can be taken away in a flash. As can anything else of this world. Just like sand.
“The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked.”
But God lasts forever. If we make Him our foundation, it will never be taken away. He is ever-lasting. From there we can build our integrity, our good character. All we have to do is follow Him and make Him the center of our lives.
So what is your foundation built upon? Do you have integrity? Do you have good character?
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.”
Let’s make sure to examine our hearts and make sure that we don’t have something else besides God as our foundation. That could only lead to disaster. Let’s not rely on something that’s unreliable, but on something permanent.
“The LORD detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity.”
I make mistakes, everyone does. But having God as your foundation is so important to being a Christian. It would be so much easier to turn away from the truth if God is not our foundation. Can you even be a Christian without God at the center of your life?
1 Corinthians 3:11
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.“
God must be our foundation. Beginning with God as our cornerstone, we can grow in our faith and in our integrity, by building upon Him.
I know, Thanksgiving has come and passed, but I’m not talking about the holiday. I’m talking about the act of giving thanks, of being thankful. That is something that we can discuss all the time.
I have recently started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She talks about living a fuller life in Christ. I have really liked what she has had to say about it. An important role in that is thanksgiving.
The Greek word for “giving thanks” is eucharisteo. In that word, there are the parts of two other Greek words: charis and chara. Charis means grace, while chara means joy. Isn’t that neat?
But aren’t you here to talk about thanksgiving? Yes, I am and I believe that grace and joy play a part in that. Being thankful is hard. I fail at it, a lot. We all get so lost in our own troubles and worries and temptations that sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture.
I’m not saying that any of our struggles are unimportant, because they are important. God lets us haves struggles so that we grow stronger in our faith and closer to Him. Whatever you’re going through, He will be with you. And we know from the Bible that He will not let us be tempted more than we can bear.
1 Corinthians 10:13
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
But in all of this, we can become quite ungrateful and not thankful. I know I do it all the time.
So how do we become thankful? I think it would help if we took time to focus on Christ throughout each day, everyday. For Ann Voskamp, she started to write a list of one thousand things she was thankful for.
If we start to pay attention to the things around us that we can be thankful for, naming specific things, it would bring us to not take things for granted. I believe that we would get a small glimpse of how much we can be thankful for. There are big things like God, living another day, family, etc. Then there are the minuscule things like melted butter on hot bread, rain pattering against the roof.
When we become thankful, we become joyful.
Joy is dependent on thanksgiving. The more thankful you are, the more joyful you will be.
This is something very important that I learned from One Thousand Gifts. It is so true. How can we be joyful when we are ungrateful? We may be happy, but that isn’t joy. And it definitely doesn’t last like joy does. Happiness comes and goes and can’t be trusted. It comes from material things. But joy, on the other hand, is something that can last forever. It comes from God. Once we have it, it can’t be taken away.
As Christians, we already have that joy that comes from God. But it sometimes gets diminished in going of life. Sometimes we need more of it.
Jesus lived a life of thanksgiving. Even near death, he gave thanks. He even gave thanks for his death.
2 Corinthians 4:15
All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
Because of God’s grace, we can live a life of thanksgiving too. We can learn to see things to be thankful for in any situation. It just takes a lot of practice.
But in the end, I’m sure that it will bring us so much joy.
What is the meaning of baptism? What is its purpose? Should Christians get baptized? Should we not? Are we saved because we get baptized, or is it just a add-on? These questions and more I hope to answer for you today as well as I can.
Baptism. We see it everywhere and in many different places. It is also done in many different ways. We see it in churches around the world. Some people do it in the ocean or sea or lake or pond or…..you know what I mean. Sometimes people are fully submerged and sometimes water is sprinkled on them. But what does the Bible say about all of this? Lets take a look.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I think this verse takes out the question that we shouldn’t get baptized. Jesus, God’s Son calls us to! And if Jesus commands us to, well, then I think we should.
Now I’m going to step on some people’s toes here. I don’t mean to come across offensive, but some people just aren’t going to agree with me on this. So lets just get it over with and if you disagree you can tell me where in the Bible I’m wrong. I would love to hear what you think!
You do not have to get baptized to be saved. I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible where it says that you have to be baptized to be saved. There is even an example of it.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This happens right before Jesus dies on the cross. There were two criminals crucified on either side of him. One scoffed at him; the other asked to be remembered in Heaven. Did this man (we don’t even know his name) have a chance to get baptized? No, he didn’t. But Jesus told told him that they would meet in paradise (essentially Heaven).
If you get the chance to be baptized, you should. We are called to. But it is not a necessity for salvation. And not everyone is going to get the chance. So if you get that chance, take it.
How should someone get baptized? Well, I think the best thing to do it to follow Christ’s example.
And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
John, known as John the Baptist, was baptizing in a river.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.
John later baptized Jesus and from what I read here it seems that he was baptized through full immersion. That means totally submerged in water. I believe that’s what we should do too, since Christ did it that way. But I think this is one of those “open-handed” subjects, it doesn’t necessarily have to be followed and replicated.
There is one more thing that I would like to answer and I think that it is the most important question on baptism. What is the purpose or meaning of it? If there was no purpose, Christ wouldn’t have told us to baptize.
Baptism is an external expression of an internal change. It is like a declaration. By getting baptized you’re proclaiming to the world that you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.
That’s why we baptize. It is an act of faith. I hope we can all take that step.