Wednesday, September 21, 2011

He chose us

            Hey guys today I ask that you will bear with me as for just this one post I want to set aside the funny stories and analogies in order to focus on something vital and important. I'm not an ultra serious guy but this is one message that can truly change your life, and I don't say that lightly or proudly because as you will soon find out it has nothing to do with me.

            Allow yourselves for a few minutes to be taken into a court room, where you are the defendant and everyone it seems is your prosecutor. You have broken no law, but yet here you stand accused of crimes that can lead to death. After hearing numerous screams and attacks on your character by the crowds the judge then turns to you to attempt to get your side of the story. However, when he asks his question instead of starting to defend yourself you simply remain silent.

           How crazy does that sound? Here you are wrongly accused of crimes you didn't commit, facing the worst punishment imaginable and yet when you have the chance to defend yourself, to stand up and save your own life, you choose to instead remain silent. To not even tell the Judge where you are from, Why would anyone do that? I mean in the words of my Dad when he would catch me in a lie "Boy are you just looking to get whipped?".

         As lucid or unreal as this scene may sound this is exactly what Jesus did in his last few hours before his crucifiction.  We find this very scene in the beginning of John 19, where Jesus remains silent throughout the questioning, only speaking up for a brief second to quickly put Pilate in his place.

         Through my years of studying and going to church and school if there is one lesson I have learned it's this: Jesus was very intentional about everything he did. What may have looked like him going to a random samarian village was really a trip for a woman to meet her savior (John 4). There are countless other examples throughout the Gospels, but that theme got me questioning why did Jesus choose to remain silent? Why didn't he choose to save himself?

         As I sat there frustrated with Jesus for a few seconds because he didn't make a choice, He hit me square in the face and said "I did make a choice Dustin, I chose the cross."

         Talk about feeling like a complete idiot, man there I sat flabbergasted and breathless as I contemplated what I had just heard. That Jesus had the chance to defend himself to avoid the cross altogether but instead chose to remain silent. He chose the cross.

          My mind then raced to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, and Peter tries to protect Jesus and in the process chops a soldiers ear off. (Side note, this is one of the scenes in the Bible I really wish I could watch. Something tells me Mike Tyson has nothing on this.) Jesus then heals the man's ear and rebukes Peter saying don't you understand that I could summon angels down here right now to rescue me? Jesus then goes with the soldiers.

          My mind racing at this point, recalling various times in Scripture where it really seems that Jesus time and time again chooses the cross. From a Sunday school perspective I could ration that it was because he wanted me to go to heaven so he had to die for my sins. But that wasn't sitting right in my stomach, I knew there had to be something more. Why choose the cross?????

         "I didn't choose the cross, I chose you" He replied. You want to know why I suffered and endured pain and mockery, it was so that you ,through my payment of your sins, could experience a relationship with the Heavenly Father! John 17:3 tells us "This is eternal life, that you may know God, through the one whom he has sent in Christ Jesus." The word to know there is meaning to know someone due to a relationship you have with them. Frankly Jesus chose the cross so that we could have a real relationship with him!

        Joking aside I asked myself and I challenge you to ask yourself " Is the way I value my relationship with God equivalent with the price paid for it?" If my parents bought me something as a kid they expected me to play with it and use it. Jesus paid the price for us so that we could have a relationship with Him and God through the Holy spirit. Are we using it? Or has that gift just become something we hold onto that collects dust.?

         He chose you! He paid the price for you! Will you use it?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Got Stress? Be Still!

As the college life has gotten into full swing with exams and papers amongst all of the other various devices of torture teachers seem to put students through I have noticed a very familiar look. It's most commonly distinguishable symptoms are: sweating, breathing hard, long exhales, slouched backs, heavy eyelids, and (especially in guys) messy hair. I'm speaking of course of the common crippler of our society known as stress. Now obviously I'm no doctor, so don't expect this to be some sort of medical breakdown of why stress is bad. I simply just want to share a story and try my hardest to give some helpful advice.

It all began in my hustle and bustle of the beginning of the semester, in which after my academic breeze of a Freshman year I was certainly not ready for. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, bouncing from class to class, paper to paper, book to book, ministry to ministry; when I felt this drag on my life and my heart. It seemed like no matter how much time I put into all these things, there was always more to be done. I was stretching myself as far as I could go and was barely passing by. It was then that our little friend stress hit me. I was hit with this pressing question: Can you really do all this? My good buddy stress just loved to keep throwing that question at me as I spent the majority of my free time in a theology or psychology book, only to have a ministry meeting that I had to be at in an hour. I was feeling inadequate, insufficient, and even quite frankly pathetic. If I couldn't handle this, how would I ever survive the wears and tears of the ministry God has called me to?

And once again God brought me back to one of his foundations. Psalm 46: 10 says "Be still and know I am God..." As a guy who didn't think he had time to get everything he had to get done to begin with, I thought God was nuts by telling me to take time to just be still. Under the weight of stress, and feelings of inadequacy this just didn't make sense. It was in that moment that it finally clicked what God was trying to tell me.

"Be still and know that I am God" See my biggest problem was not the amount of time in the day, but who was controlling that time. In my head, these were my problems and I had to solve them. There were MY responsibilities and therefore I had to fix them. Looking back I imagine God just anticipating the day i realized my arrogance, that me one of his creatures looking up at him and saying "Hey listen I know you're God and everything, and I know you are all powerful but let me take care of these problems." In my stupidity I had in my mind told God how big my mountains were, instead of telling my mountains how big my GOD is!

And as I hit my knees and begged for forgiveness of my arrogance and ignorance, something strange happened: the weight that had been holding me down and straining my heart was lifted. It was as if God was saying to me "Ahhh finally, I've been waiting on you to ask"

In the midst of the papers, and friendships I had forgotten one basic thing. GOD IS ALL POWERFUL AND HE REIGNS!!!!!!!!!!! He wants to help out his children and he is MORE than able to help out his children. He is just waiting on us to stop running around from distraction to distraction and sit back and ask for his help, to say "God I can't but you can, let me follow you"

So as mid terms are approaching, if you start or are currently feeling the little crippling vermin stress start creeping around. Remember, as one of his children you are not alone. He is your Father, he not only wants to help out his children.... he loves to!!! So like any good child does when they are in over their head, run behind your father and grab a hold of his pant leg and trust that he will make it all right. So simply put if you got stress, be still!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vending Machine Relationship

Very Recently I found myself patrolling the halls of school with the rumbling in my stomach that could only mean one (appropriate) thing: It was time to EAT!!!. One big problem, I had no time to go to the various cafeterias. Therefore I set out on a voyage for every busy stressed out student's best friend..... The Vending Machine. As I approached it I scanned over it's depleted contents and quickly found the crown jewel I'd been searching for: REESE"S PIECES! I paid my money and anxiously awaited as the claws of fate swirled around to let it fall down to the bottom where I could pick it up.

 As I sat in class popping these chocolate covered peanut butter clusters into my mouth I immediately sensed joy. In the place of my stress-inhibited busy school day filled with homework and activities, I found a calming peace and relaxation. It was after I had eaten and inhaled every last crumb that I asserted to myself "Now that's why I bought you." I was extremely satisfied with my purchase.

It was in that moment and over the next several days that I began to contemplate has Christianity sometimes turned what has the potential to be the most powerful life changing relationship in the planet into nothing more than a Vending Machine Relationship.

Please allow me to explain. As you know with a Vending Machine we put our money into it in order to receive our treat, I can't help but wonder looking at my life and others if we don't sometimes do the same with God. We wake up and pray not to talk to God but in order to ask for blessings over our day. To ask for healing for our loved ones, To ask for guidance with our future spouse, To ask for help resisting sin. Then we sit and wait for what we "purchased" through our prayers and quiet time. We read our Bibles not to grow and challenge ourselves but we do it just to be putting more money in the machine. We tell God "Hey I'm here praying and reading now it's your turn to do me a favor."

Have we truly became so arrogant that we forget that God owes us NOTHING!!! He is the Creator that in His great love wasn't content to just sit back and idly watch his creation fall to ruin. He sent his only Son to this earth to live and die for us,to endure the cup of wrath, to literally go through hell for us, to pay the price that we could never pay.

 However the greatest travesty is some of us have even turned the Gospel into a Vending Machine as well. We say "Jesus I'll ask you into my heart, and I'll pray a prayer as long as I get that whole eternal life thing in exchange. Hell sounds like a pretty brutal place God so I'll give you my life as long as I get heaven in exchange."

 " This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ."
This is what John 17:3 tells us. The word know there is the greek word meaning to know someone due to a RELATIONSHIP with them. We have missed the point of the Gospel!!! Salvation is not some meal plan to get you into the cafeteria (Heaven) the true point of Salvation is that we now get to have a relationship with the one true Father. To pray to him in the morning and say as my good friend John Rerick says "God I'm here because I love you".  I want to pray to you and read your Word so I can come to find out more about

 Jesus Christ paid the price for us! He wants a true impacting relationship with us, my heart is that we as the church wouldn't miss out on this. The gift that Paul says all things in comparison are rubbish, the relationship that David held onto through thick and thin, the relationship that enboldened Peter to transform from a denying coward to a passionate preacher. Let's be a generation that pursues that type of relationship, and isn't foolish enough to waste time at the Vending Machine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Very recently I sat in a chair listening to a man pour his heart out to students. Some of which were holding onto every word he said, others were more interested in what their classes would hold for them in the coming hours, or some even to busy looking at their phones to pay attention. But what really caught me was the fact that the speaker knew these things but still unleashed his passion. He wasn't going to let stubborn egocentric pompous students relinquish the fire God had placed on his heart.  His message was simple, and his delivery powerful. He simply pleaded that we would feel compassion.

Compassion, that's a funny word isn't it? What do we mean when we say compassion? Is it like love? Or more like that fiery passion we see on our favorite motivational speakers? Compassion is simply feeling so strongly about something that it springs you into action. To not be content to reduce the most powerful word on the planet (love) to just an emotion, but to push the limits and make it a force that drives and spurs you into action. Compassion is not to be confused with what I feel for Krispy Kreme donuts. Now let me tell you I LOVE me some sugary fluffy round goodness they call a donut, and if the red light is on outside I will storm the front doors like a crazy lady on the day after Thanksgiving sale. However, I'm not compassionate for them. I would never fight for them, and even though I might pitch a commercial I would never take a stand and speak on their behalf.

But that is exactly what this man was doing, he was standing up in front of thousands of students with no personal agenda but to simply urge us to feel compassion. His cause was one that struck my heart string and I would like to just pass on a few highlights to you so that possibly we can together spring into action.

In Samaria there is currently a famine going on that has been one of the worst disasters since Katrina. While I was home on college break enjoying my cinnamon toast crunch in the morning and grandmothers home cooking, 30,000 children in Samaria died of starvation. Allow me to repeat that and say that 30,000 CHILDREN DIED!!!!!!!!!!! The worst part is that their death's were completely preventable. Unlike the tragic disaster that was Hurricane Katrina that we had no control of, this deaths could have been prevented if they only had 1/8 of the food we as Americans take for granted or thumb our nose at. And there's more, if we don't act now 30,000 more children will die by Christmas Break. That at what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year where we are supposed celebrating our savior's birth 60,000 Samarian families will be wrenched by death.

Please judge my heart, I'm not trying to get on a soapbox or lecture or even guilt trip. My mind just goes back to a familiar song we all sang as kids "Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world; Red and Yellow, Black or White; They are precious in his sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world." My Savior died for these children, and we as a country have been content to sit back and watch them breath their last hungry breaths while we feast on fast food! These children were fearfully and wonderfully made! Designed with a specific purpose in mind! What if in our generational gluttony and selfishness we are robbing kids of the very thing we preach on sundays: Life.

Their are plenty of sites that we can donate on or find out ways to pray for them. But here's what I don't want you to do. Please don't close this blog thinking "That was Good" and do nothing with it!!! I don't want you to think my writing is good, I'm not writing this with myself in mind!!! The word compassion is used 106 times, and they all speak of how God sitting in heaven could have sat and watched us suffer, but because of his great love intervened and rescued us. These kids need rescuing from starvation, we have the ability to help. The question is this: Will we be compassionate?