Other, The Word

The Glory Of Heaven – Jack Hughes

If one is a believer, he has much to look forward to; If one is an unbeliever, he is destined for torment unless he repents. A sermon by Jack Hughes, on Luke 16:19-31, (the parable of the rich man and  Lazarus) focusing on the aspect of heaven. I found this message so encouraging; a great reminder that this life is all the hell we believers will ever experience. Then an eternity of joy in the presence of our Saviour. What extent are willing to go to  in the service of your King? Are you willing to sacrifice every material and relational tie you’ve ever had to surrender your body to be burned for the furthering of the Gospel and the Kingdom? We should be.

“When I get to heaven, I’m gonna sit down, and I’m gonna look at Jesus, for a thousand years. And then I’m gonna say, ‘Where’s Paul?'” – D. L. Moody

“The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace; Not on the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand. The Lamb is all the glory, in Immanuel’s land. ” – Annie Ross Cousin

The Glory of Heaven – Jack Hughes

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

Psalm 73:25-28 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”

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Reflect On The Wonder Of The Cross

I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and have so much I could say. Unfortunately, I don’t have very much time, so I can’t quite update you all on what has occupied my summer yet, but I can give some quick encouragement. The easiest way to do this: quote someone who is more spiritually mature than I. Ironically, this man, C.J. Mahaney, also happens to be quoting others. I hope you find this as edifying as I did.

“Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about the surest way to pursue humility:

There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross. 

When I survey the wondrous cross 

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride

Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner… that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust… Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.

“John Stott helps us understand why the cross has this powerful effect:

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

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Other

Facebook: A New Kind Of Predator

One of my last essays for a composition class was an opinion paper. I decided to write on a controversial topic amongst Christians: Facebook. Please enjoy, but realize that this was a five paragraph essay, not an exhaustive source of information on all things relating to Facebook and Christians. I am merely expressing my opinion, as this is not a persuasive paper.

Facebook: A New Kind Of Predator

Facebook, a relatively basic concept for social connection, has somehow affected the very core of American culture. What is it about Facebook, a seemingly simple idea, which has the power to influence an entire civilization? To answer this question, we must first understand the essence of this network. To begin with, a technical definition of Facebook is: “A social network upon which millions of users upload information about themselves for other users to see and respond.” An admittedly opinionated definition created from observation is this: “The internet breeding grounds of abundant narcissism.”

The effects of this social network, both positive and negative, can be seen everywhere. Its mark can be found  on relationships, marketing, entertainment, and society in general. In my own experience, when I meet another person for the first time, one of the first questions I have been asked is, “So… do you have a Facebook?” Instead of writing letters, calling, or emailing, individuals will message each other on Facebook. In advertisements, companies will promote their Facebook pages, saying something along the lines of, “Like us on Facebook! If you like us, we will give you free coupons!” all because advertising has been extremely effective through Facebook. Its name is plastered all over the walls of entertainment. “Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Facebook!” is the petition of every business, movie maker, music artist, and TV show. These are only a few examples, but it is already obvious Facebook has had significant influence upon our culture. This is a fact.

Several questions naturally arise when we examine this social network’s power over both individuals and industries: How is Facebook having such unprecedented effects on those who use it, or even how is it gathering as many users as it has? The answer is simple. It preys upon one of the most basic weaknesses of human nature- our pride. This tactic has proven to be extremely effective, and has been used countless times in both the marketing and entertainment industries. In every commercial on television, a company is telling the viewer he needs its product, as it attempts to stir up greed in his heart. The viewer starts to feel as if he is less of a person because he does not own this product, or he feels that his friends will view him as less of a person because he does not have what they have. This approach to advertising and by extension, reasoning, is actually a logical fallacy. It is an Ad Populum fallacy: appeal to the masses. Facebook uses this strategy, but with a different slant. It does not take advantage of the greed of the user; rather, it preys on his conceit. I dare the reader to log on to his Facebook account and scroll down the news feed with this in mind. How many status updates are all about “me”? How many are about how the user is having such a terrible day, or how he did not get what he wanted out of a relationship? On the other side of the spectrum, how many are about life being just a big bowl of cherries? I challenge the user to click on any random teenage public school user, and try to calculate the number of pictures he has taken of himself with his cell phone in a restroom mirror! If math is not my reader’s strong point, he might find this quite difficult! Now, one should not misunderstand, Facebook does not cause the user to become more selfish or conceited; it just accentuates and provides another channel through which those negative traits can thrive.

Those who have Facebook accounts should not only be wary of the ways it can allow one to practice selfishness, but also the effect it can have on one’s time. Facebook, like almost all other forms of media, is an easy way to waste time. A quick check of one’s account can slip into an examination of other user’s accounts, which can lead to hour-long chats with friends and so on. On Facebook, ten minutes can evolve into two hours without notice! Once again, this is a negative consequence that can be controlled. Facebook does not make or require one to use it for an extended period of time; it merely provides another venue for one to waste time.

In spite of Facebook using such tactics to gain users, it is not evil, and can actually be utilized for great good! I know many true Christians who have Facebook accounts and operate them to point others to the Word of God, ask for prayer, and give glory to the Lord in general. This is an extremely good way to manage a page. It is also a great tool to reconnect with old friends. It is a pleasure to search out friends to discover how they have grown physically and in the Lord. Much redemption can be found in Facebook if one manipulates it for the proper purposes and does not allow it help him sin. I would recommend a Facebook account to anyone as long as he has disciplined himself regarding time, and would advise that one apply discernment in any posts.

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Lyrics, Other

Lecrae Is Second

A music artist I have quoted many times in my posts is a Christian rapper named Lecrae. The Lord has blessed him with an ability to articulate the truth of His word, to explain it and expound upon it in a clear and beautiful way. I would recommend him to anyone searching for Christian music without shallow or nebulous lyrics. I have included a link to his testimony recorded on the I Am Second website. I have also included the lyrics and a link to one of his songs called Take Me As I Am. It had a profound impact upon me when I was a young believer. I pray that it will on the reader as well.

http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/lecrae/

Take Me As I Am – http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Take+Me+As+I+Am/4fdZxy?src=5 (If this doesn’t work, you can find this song on youtube or other websites)

Christ through faith
I talked to a cat the other day
And he was like;
“Man I really wanna come to Christ
But I gotta clean my life up first, get my sins together”
I told em: I used to think that way too
I thought I had to change myself before I could come to Christ
But Christ changed me
Let me tell you my story, it starts like this

[Verse One]
It’s 5:46 in the mornin’, tossin’ and turnin’
Chest burnin’, sermons in my head keep reocurrin’
Havin’ visions in my head of a kid
Cryin’ at the feet of the Father, for all the wrong things that he did
Now I’m sweatin’ in my sheets can’t sleep
My mind keeps tellin’ me I’m six feet deep
Don’t remind me, even though I’m still alive I can’t tell
The way I’m living my life I feel I’m going to hell
God they telling me I should accept you
That you had to leave the world, cause the world left you
Reason I can’t change, like a mystery to me
So I make believe there really is a heaven for a G
Even though they say you loved the world so much, you shed ya blood
God I feel I’m too messed up for love
They tell me come as I am but I smell like smoke
My whole lifes full of sin cause it’s all I know
The bible told me that you died for my sins
If I believe in Christ, it’ll save me from the end
But I’m scared to ask you, to save me my heart
So evil, I got thoughts, that’s full of hatred hurtin’ people
I thought at first I had to clean up my life
Now I’m hearin’ I just need to cling to the light
I’m ready to do it, but Lord I pray you understand
My life is a mess, will you take me as I am

[Chorus]
Will you take me as I am
I know the way I’m living is wrong
But I can’t change on my own, trying to make it alone
I wonder, how could you love me when my life so ugly
But you came down and died for me

Will you take me as I am
I know the way I’m living is wrong
But I can’t change on my own, trying to make it alone
I wonder, how could you love me when my life so ugly
But you came down and died for me
Will you take me as I am

[Verse Two]
I’m sick and tired of trying to me the man, my daddy never taught me to be
I’m grown up now, life ain’t what I thought it would be
I made many mistakes in my past I can’t fix
Now I’m staring at this crusifix tatted on my wrist
Is it true what they telling me, am I just crazy
Did ya bleed on the cross, for my sins to save me
But why would ya die for me
My whole life I’ve been working for Satan, while He fed lies to me
And now I’m hearing too much, trying to get a true touch
Of a love that can change me, I’m all screwed up
Figure Hell is what I deserve
But your word says we all fall short so I guess we all outta burn
Teach me I wanna learn
How you could save a wretch like me, before death says it’s my turn
I think I finally understand
No matter my past, you’ll still take me as I am

[Chorus]

[Verse Three]
My father had a few last words to give
I be telling people the reason to live
The reason to die, united with the King in the sky
This life is passing us by, I got no reason to lie
You’ll never give the world enough, they’ll hunger for more
They figure there ways are nuthin to the wonderous lord
More security than the man that left you
More love than the moms who kept you
He’ll always accept you
Be everything your supposed to
Let Christ rule ya heart, mind, body and soul cause He chose you
And if the world don’t know you
It don’t matter you’re Gods child and he’ll never disown you
Ya purpose on earth is far from worthless
That’s why ya glorified like ya life’s been purchased
And it don’t matter if the world don’t seen us
We still mean the world to Jesus

[Chorus]

[Talking]
Yeah, we’re saved by grace through faith
It’s not works
Ain’t nuthin you can do, ain’t nuthin I can do
That could get us this great salavation that we got man
It’s only Christ
So if you feel like you gotta clean yourself up
Before you can come to Him
Forget it
Just come to Him
He’ll take you as you are, and He’ll change YOU
From the inside, out.

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Greater Than Fear

I am currently taking a Composition class, and recently wrote a short definition essay about courage and its importance in a believer’s life. I have been urged by several people to post it, so here it is. Enjoy.

Greater Than Fear

Courage is a quality with a thousand definitions, the majority of which depend upon the opinion of the definer. The dictionary definition is, “…the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.” A person in the military may believe courage is what drives him to fight on the front lines and prepares him to die for the welfare of an entire nation. G. K. Chesterton believed an aspect of this, saying, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” A plethora of examples of what is perceived to be courage and its products exist, but I believe courage to be something very different from the most common definitions.

Harper Lee defined courage accurately in her book, To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus, a main character in the book, was speaking to his son, Jem, when he said: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” In the Vietnam War, something drove many soldiers to continue fighting, even with the chaos of war surrounding them. One must only imagine walking through the jungles of Vietnam, struggling to fight with the corpses of fellow brothers in arms scattered across the ground, to get a sense of the reality in this definition. Courage gave soldiers the strength to carry on. Lee’s definition is correct, but is it complete? I believe her concept of courage is lacking a key ingredient: purpose. Why does courage carry us through a noble task amongst incomprehensible opposition?

Since ancient times, wars between tribes, states, and nations have been waged constantly. The nation which successfully builds an empire is the one that efficiently utilizes the most destructive weapon of all: fear. Adolf Hitler used this powerful force to his advantage in World War II, a war in which tens of millions were killed. Fear also proved itself to be Hitler’s own undoing through his suicide. Courage is the antonym of fear; to resist fear, one must have courage. Another famous author of American literature had his own definition for courage. Mark Twain said, “Courage is the resistance to fear, the mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.” For there to be courage, there must also be fear. Courage has to be in opposition to something; otherwise, there would be no need for courage. Bravery caused the Allied forces to stand the gap against Germany’s seemingly unstoppable reign of terror. Is that all there is to bravery though? Is courage simply overcoming fear, without any purpose? What truly caused millions of men to accomplish that which many would label brave?

Although the definitions I have given so far are rather insightful, I believe they are insufficient, because they do not answer the simple question of purpose. Why do soldiers continue to fight when victory seems to be unreachable? Why does a believer in Christ stand up for what he knows to be right amongst those who might persecute him? My favorite definition of courage explains this; it is a revised version of Ambrose Redmoon’s definition, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather action, based upon the realization that there is something more important.” This is why: Something greater than our fear exists, and that is why we persevere through difficult times; that is why we fight for our nation, and that is one reason believers stand up for the Word of God.

No matter what definition for courage the reader prefers, it likely contains truth. I believe the definition stated above is the best because it describes not only what courage truly is, but why we must have courage: because there is something of greater importance than our fear, and ultimately ourselves. In reality, true courage cannot be practiced with a selfish attitude; it must be performed with humility of mind, regarding others as more important than oneself. In fact, to practice any other virtue, one must have courage. C. S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Whenever one encounters a trial, he faces fear. To truly practice any virtue, one must have the courage to overcome this fear, realizing the end result is much more important than the fear that impedes one from growth as a believer. Courage is one of the most important virtues one can possess, as it drives all others. As Christians, we cannot walk with the Lord without courage.

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