The Cost of Following Jesus

In our world today, people are persecuted for following their religion.

Christianity.
Muslim.
Buddhism.
Catholicism.
Mormon.

Whatever religion you’re part of, you are always going to be persecuted for it.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” – Luke 21:12

In our class tonight, we talked about the cost of following Jesus.
What price are you willing to pay to follow Jesus?

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Personally, I think it means putting Jesus before anything else in your world. Put Him before your sports. Put Him before your academics. Put Him before your relationship. You must put Him before everything in life. You cannot let other things interfere with your following of Jesus.

“I’m just too tired to read my Bible before bed tonight.”
“I have got to get this homework done, I don’t have time to have my quiet time tonight.”
“My chores haven’t been done this afternoon, I can’t go to church.”
“I am so tired, I think I’ll just sleep in instead of going to church this morning.”
I’m guilty of all of these. Caught red handed. Take me to the slammer. Whatever, you get the point.

Someone brought up the point that if you choose to follow Jesus, then people should see Jesus in you. You should carry yourself in a way that when people look at you they say, “Hey, that guy/girl is a devoted Christian. How awesome is that?” You should carry yourself in a way that people know you follow Jesus and that they will hold you to a standard of that. When you choose to follow Jesus, you have to be held accountable. You have to be held accountable so that you don’t slip up or let your worldly things show through. It’s a good idea to have an accountability partner. Someone to be there and say, “Kaleb, that wasn’t very Christ-like.”

I heard a story on Air 1 yesterday about a couple in the Middle East who were being persecuted and put on trial because of their confession of Christian faith. It’s sad that people have to face this; though we are fortunate to live in a country where we can practice our religion freely. It may not be as extreme as being put on trial, but in the US we will be persecuted as well. That’s something we have to face as Christians. We have to be willing to take our stand for what we believe; that’s the cost of following Jesus. We have to be willing to take hatred, the words, and the resentment because of what we believe.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12

So the question is, what price are you willing to pay to follow Jesus?

Respect

I got halfway through this original blog post about respect and realized I was making zero sense. I was beating around the bush on what I wan’t to write about. Now that my thoughts are cleared, I shall begin.

There are two types of respect I’d like to talk about in this blog post. (Technically, there aren’t actually types of respect, I just made up these so called “categories”.)
Respect for women.
This type of respect is particularly aimed at the men out there. Actually, that’s exactly who it is aimed at. Especially young men. Respect for women is something that is taken so lightly, especially in high school. Lack of respect for women bothers more than anything else in this world. I cannot stand to walk down the halls of my high school and hear a guy talking about how he just broke up with so and so and now he’s dating this chick, and he doesn’t care how she feels about it. Guys, you can’t just treat women like they are some sort of fair ride. You can’t just hop on for the ride and move on to the next one. Guys must learn to be patient, caring, and loving; respecting a woman is how you earn her heart. Women were literally made from a man. If anything, that should be the reason you respect women. 

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. – Genesis 2:22″ 

Women must learn to respect women as well; they must learn to respect themselves. So often, I see teenage girls throwing themselves at guys because they want to be “loved.” Don’t worry about that, ladies, our God already loves you enough. He died for you. One of my Facebook friends, Kevin Frisbee, summed up my thoughts so well:

“Girls, I know a lot of you feel upset and frustrated when you see friends getting engaged/married, but know that God’s love is better than any diamond ring. He has an incredible plan for you, and He doesn’t intend for us to walk through life alone. In His timing, you will have your perfect guy, but until then, trust His faithfulness and work on becoming the woman you expect your future husband to honor and love.”

I am so thankful to my parents, my dad especially, for teaching me how to respect a woman.

Respect for God.
This topic is major. Especially today in our society, respect for God is steadily becoming less and less. From people ousting “In God We Trust” to our government amending laws that were built on the principles of God, lack of respect is everywhere. I see this lack of respect often in school. One minute you will hear a student professing their love for God and the next you hear them cussing or doing things that a person who is truly devoted to God would never think of doing. That’s what really bothers me. That is just like walking straight up to God and spitting in his face. God created this Earth; He created all things. We must learn to love, trust, and respect Him.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” 

I am so thankful to my family for teaching me how to respect all people, including God.

Now, listen closely. I am no guru on respect, these are just my own personal opinions. But I do think they should be taken to heart.

So guys, next time you decide to date that girl, think about the future and think about her feelings; respect her. Girls, wait for love. Respect yourselves.

People of the world, respect God. He deserves it.

Perfectly hang on nothing.

According to statistics, 82% of adults and 89% of teens in the US claim to pray in a normal week. That’s 255,505,371 people in the United States. That’s a lot of people. Like, a ton, actually.

Of the 255,505,371 that claim to pray in a week, how many of those do you think actually pray?

We hear and recite thousands of prayers. But of those that we hear and speak, do we actually grasp what is being said? Do we actually take that time to talk to God? If your being honest with yourself, the majority of the time the answer would be no. You’re not the first to answer with no, and you’re definitely not the last.

Too often we get caught up in the world. We get too caught up in the world to take time to pray, to grasp what’s being prayed about, or to just have some silent time with God. I know I do.

Tonight during closing prayer, I had not really been paying too much attention; honestly, I was sleepy and kinda ready to be home – which is sad on my part. About midways through the prayer, something had caught my attention. It was something that had been said in the prayer. The man said, “Thank you, God, for allowing the Earth to perfectly hang on nothing.” Wait, woah, true statement, bro.

Never in my life have I ever heard this statement. You hear the cliche Christian statements: “Heal those who are sick”, “be with those who aren’t here tonight”, “forgive us where we fail”… You get the point. But this statement that this man said really surprised me. When you think about it, how amazingly true is this statement? How amazing is it that God allows our earth to hang perfectly on nothing?

This statement, all of ten seconds, really opened my eyes on prayer. If we actually listened to the prayers, what might we gain from them? If we really took the time to pray and have a legit talk with God, how different would our days be?

When you are at your lowest point and you feel like there is nothing in the world to be thankful for, take a second and thank God for allowing the earth to perfectly hang on nothing.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2 NIV

(Source: http://www.the7greatprayers.com/prayerstats.aspx)

truth vs. fiction

Truth is better than fiction.
Huh? What?
It took me a while to realize what this meant, too.

We were studying Psalms 139 and focused on the first six verses:
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 139:1-6 NIV

I had read this chapter of Psalms before and in fact had dissected it pretty well. My Bible was chalked full of handwritten notes I made about this chapter. Though tonight when we read it, new ideas about this chapter were presented.

This section of scripture simply describes how all knowing our God is. He knows our words before they’re spoken. He knows our movements before we put them into action. He knows. He knows. He knows. He is an omniscient God. We began to talk about how amazing our God is and how He knows each of our needs, each of our petty thoughts, and each of our struggles. We discussed how no matter how small or how big our problems, He is always there. We discussed how our God created the universe and all of its entirety. We discussed how God has his signature on each flower, bird, and creation on this Earth.

Amongst the discussion, someone made the point that, “truth is better than fiction.” I was initially confused on the statement. But when you think about it, this is one of the most truthful and amazing statements. We read fiction, we hear fiction, and we watch fiction. We visualize these fictional places and are in awe of their magnificence. We indulge on fiction, when actually, truth is way better. Look around you, take it all in. Sit for five minutes and take it all in. This is what we should be in awe of. Each leaf, each person, and speck of dirt was created by our all knowing God. He simply spoke it all into existence. He simply said, “Let there by light,” and there was light. This is way better than fiction. Wow.

It’s time to stop living in fiction and realize how awesome the world we live in is. It’s time to realize how amazing our omniscient, all knowing God is.

So, truth is better than fiction.

Unwavering love.

As we reflect on the events of today, we realize how precious life is. God definitely had his hand on Chase today. It never ceases to amaze me how our community can come together in prayer to support a person during their hardest times. God’s grace and love is so unwavering and was definitely seen today.

When events like Chase’s wreck occur, we often turn to God and say, “Why?” We don’t understand why God would allow something like this to happen to someone we all know and love so well; it’s normal for people to feel this way, people feel this all the time. We struggle with realizing that God has a plan for all the events that occur in our daily lives. This reaction is normal, it’s human, we’re humans, don’t be ashamed.

But we have to understand that God does not let things happen that He knows we can’t overcome (cliché, I know). His plan is something that no one will understand, but it is what is best for us and what will make us stronger mentally, physically, and most of all spiritually. God does some of the most aggravating things sometimes to make us realize this, but He does it because His love for us is unwavering.

I leave you with this simple, but meaningful verse: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19 KJV