Monday, May 26, 2014

Are You Living Like a Prisoner?

I invite you to consider 2 scenarios with me.

1. A man is imprisoned for life. He is placed in his cell, and the place is pretty disgusting. Dirty, grimy, and just basically nasty. This man cleans up his cell. Makes it spotless. And as he is allowed and provided with stuff, he really fixes up the cell and makes it homey. He adds some personal touches, pictures of family, a few sentimental items, etc. (I am not claiming this is an accurate representation of jail, and I'm not trying to be political in anyway. Just go with it.) This man, though, for all the cleaning-up he's done in his cell, still lives in a cell. No matter how many personal items he adds, this will never be his home. He will never be free while he lives here. His life will be spent in jail. No matter how clean his cell is, he's still a prisoner with a life sentence.

2. Let's suppose the above man is called into court, and the judge says "Someone has offered to take your place. In jail. You are free to go, and they will serve your life sentence." The man leaves prison, but often he will come back, stay a while in "his" cell and visit. He basically considers this a second home. The length of time of his visits varies, but he keeps coming back. Keeps living in his cell.

Those are the scenarios. You are the man, and the cell is sin. God is the judge, and the person who offers to pay your sentence is Jesus Christ.

Which scenario are you?

Are you the first scenario? You're living imprisoned. A slave to sin. And no matter how hard you clean up your life, no matter what you do to make it look like everything's ok, you are still a prisoner, owned and controlled by sin.

Every person is born living in the cell of sin. We were born there and we will stay there, unless we recognize that no matter how good we make ourselves and our lives look, we are still condemned sinners. No matter how hard we clean up our lives, we are still living in a cell. Just this one isn't a physical cell--it's spiritual. And it will lead to death.


We accept the sacrifice of Christ. Who went to the perfect Judge, God the Father, and said "I want to take the place of that sinner, living in that cell. I want to take his place. And I want to take the punishment for his sin so that he can leave the cell and live free.

We then each, personally, need to accept Christ's sacrifice. He can offer to take our place, take our punishment, so that we can walk out of the cell of sin and live a life of freedom. But we must accept it. We must give up the cell and walk out into whatever it is that is beyond our cell.

It takes faith. 

All we have known is what is inside our cell. We don't know what is beyond, what God has for us.

So have you done that? Are you still living in your cell of sin? Have you accepted Christ's sacrifice? If not, please do so. Contact me. Someone one who can help you. Don't live one more day a prisoner.


I'm really willing to guess though, that many of you who are reading this are more like the prisoner in scenario 2. You would quickly deny it, I know. But I know I do that a lot. I have complete victory from sin in Christ. Because of what He has done for me. I don't need to return to sins that I have struggled with in the past. 

You don't either. 

It may be anger, impure thoughts/lifestyle, worry, pride, gossip, or a lot of other things. I don't know what you struggle with. But please, accept the sacrifice of Christ. He died so you could have victory over those sins. Why do we think that His sacrifice was good enough to get us out of Hell, but not powerful enough to give us strength to defeat the sins we struggle with on a daily basis?

You've been freed from your prison on sin. Why do you insist on going back to that cell? I don't know what your cell is. Don't go back. That's what Satan wants. He wants you to live a defeated Christian life. He doesn't want you to live in the power of the Gospel.

The power that can change lives. On a daily basis. 

Let it change yours. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Never Have I Ever

Have you ever played "Never Have I Ever"? It's essentially a game to prove how lame you are. At least, that's how I view it. You go around the room and state something you have never done, that you think most people would have done. For instance, when I played once, one person said "Never have I ever eaten a hamburger." She has severe food allergies. I usually win this game because there is a lot of stuff i haven't done while here at BJU that most people have done.
For instance, never have I ever...

  • Been in War Memorial Chapel
  • Been in the Seminary Building
  • Been a Row Monitor
  • Been to a Turkey Bowl Game
  • Been to a whole Bruins Game
  • Been in Essential Science (nyah nyah nyah)
  • Been to Commencement or any of the commencement activities (that will change this week!!!)

But more than that, I have never seen my Jesus fail me. God has never let me down. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. And now, as I look ahead to next week (after graduation), I can look back and see that God has been faithful and directed every step of my life. He's been faithful. Even though I have let Him down over and over--I have not been faithful, He has always been. 

I am so thankful that God's faithfulness is not dependent on what I do. His love for me is not based on how I act and what I do for Him. He loves me unconditionally. I can rest in His love for me. 

God will always love me.

In just a few days, I will walk across the platform and receive a diploma that I have worked for for 4 years. The past 4 years have been filled with so much. There were so many times I thought I couldn't keep going, but God gave me the strength I needed to get done each project, paper, test, and whatever else He sent into my life. There have been a lot of things that I wouldn't have chosen to go through. Things that God has allowed into my life that were hard, and not fun. But I can look back and see that God was in control of everything. Even though I don't understand everything He was doing, I know He is still good. Everything He has done, is doing, and will continue to do has been a part of His plan to make me more like Christ. I can trust that every thing He has allowed into my life has been good.

There have been a few not fun parts of college. But most of it has been awesome. I have made life-long friends. I'm not going to try and name them all, but you know who you are. You have encouraged and pointed me to Jesus. Over and over. You have annoyed and frustrated me, but this has caused me to learn to not stress and freak out. You've taught me how to respond when I'm upset. OK, mostly you all have been awesome. You've shown me what it means to be a true friend. You have shown Christ to me. And I am so thankful for you. I don't want to leave, but I am thankful that because of Christ, I will see you again. If not in this life, in heaven. Where we will have all eternity to worship our Savior again. I'm not excited for the goodbyes--I have already cried more this past week than I have in the last 4 years combined. I don't want to leave you. But God is moving all of us to serve Him in other areas. And I'm so excited.

I'm thankful for the church I have been a part of the for the last 2 years. God has used that ministry to grow me and challenge my walk with God. It isn't the kind of church where I can go and just sit back. There is a challenge constantly to grow, to change, and to become more like Christ. I have loved the ministry emphasis there. The people love God and seek to serve each other. There is an emphasis on reaching the lost, both in the community and around the world. I'm going to miss my church.

I'm thankful for the faculty and staff here at BJU. They honestly care about us and demonstrate this on a regular basis. My school is awesome. There are things that could be changed and I think would be better if ________, but overall, it's been an awesome 4 years. I know my teachers love me, and I hope to stay in touch with them as I go on.

I'm thankful for the memories I have. I can't list them all. There isn't enough room on the internet to store everything I could praise God for. No matter where I end up, He will be there with me. And I can praise Him.

As far as my future plans, I am not exactly sure. Last week, I was planning on staying in Greenville for grad school. This week, I'm looking at possibly going to China to teach. Next week, I could be in Timbuktu working a job I'm totally not ready for. Wherever God leads, I know it'll be awesome because He is awesome. He loves me, and I can trust Him.

Please, friends, keep in touch. Get a hold of me through facebook or email and let me know what's going on and what God is doing in your life. Depending on where I end up, this blog may end up not being updated. I will keep y'all posted though with what God does and where He leads me. I am going to miss this place and all God has shown me here. I'm going to miss my friends. I'm going to miss the safety and reliability of being a college student instead of a "normal" "adult". But God hasn't called me to be a college student forever. He's called me to trust and follow Him. And that's what I plan on doing. 

Never have I ever seen God fail me. Never have I ever seen Him let me down.

And He never will.