Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Following in Jesus' footsteps has been made into a religion by people. It's quite ironic because Jesus himself hated religion. The most religious people in Jesus' day were the ones who eventually killed him. Still, us humans thought it would be a good idea to take Jesus' life and turn it into a religion, let's call it "Christianity". Christianity, like so many other religions, is full of man-made rules and opinions. Jesus never liked rules, the Bible is full of examples of that. Jesus simply said: "come, follow me." Following Jesus back then wasn't easy, but it wasn't complicated. Following Jesus simplified comes down to three things:
& Love others like yourself.
The choice to spend a life walking in Jesus' footsteps isn't more complicated than that, but it's incredible how hard it can be to follow just three commands.
It's easy to not love God when we either don't know him at all, or we grew up in a religious church that taught us things about God that aren't true. If we are going to be able to love God we must first know Him. We can simply get to know God by opening up our bibles and by getting into a good Bible-based church on a regular basis.
In today's world, where our century has been called "the century of the self" it's easy to assume that we love ourselves. The opposite is often true. Being selfish or self-centered isn't at all the same as to love yourself. Self-care is to love yourself, to take care of your own physical, mental and spiritual health is to love yourself. Often we can live very selfish lives but forget about self-care.
Love others as yourself
You have to first love yourself to be able to truly love someone else. Once you know how to love and care for yourself you are ready to open your eyes to the needs around you. Loving others is about getting into an authentic community with others, it's about deep authentic friendships and it's about being willing to serve others wherever you go in life. The needs in this world are tremendous, but each one of us has been equipped with one or many special gifts so that we can fill the needs among those who are hurting. Our whole life is a mission, and this isn't mission impossible. :)
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
When I fall to my knees,
you're the one who pulls me up again.
What a mystery,
that you notice me.
There's no place I can go,
where your love won't find me.
No place I can hide,
that you can't see.
No place I could fall,
where your love couldn't catch me.
You see it all,
through the eyes of love.
You're in everything,
you're all around me.
When I misunderstand,
your love understands me.
You surround me.
So come and see,
come and know me.
Come and search my heart,
and make me,
I just wanna be,
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
If you live in the greater Toronto area and are looking for a new church I've got great news for you! Elevation church, one of the fastest growing churches in the US right now, has it's only Canadian location in your area. Elevation church is a multisite church based in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you want to check out this modern church you can visit them at Elevation GTA in Mississauga. Get the details about the location and service times at: http://elevationchurch.ca/
You can also find lead pastor Steven Furtick on instagram under "PastorSteven". I do find it funny that we are now in an era where you can follow your pastor on instagram. Welcome to the world of modern Christian churches people! :) By the way, if you want some great advice on how to make your marriage happy and healthy check out the sermon above by Steven and Holly Furtick. Have a great week everyone!
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Lecrae Moore was raised by a single mother. He never met his father, who later became a drug addict. Lecrae didn't have an easy childhood, he had to move around a lot to different cities in the US. He experienced both abuse and neglect in his childhood. He was raised Christian but never felt like Christianity was his thing. Lecrae loved rap music and found people to look up to in the music videos. As a teen he was introduced to guns by his uncle and started looking up to gangsters. He started taking drugs at 16 and got into stealing things, fighting and more drugs. He eventually ended up on a gang list.
After getting arrested for drug possession Lecrae turned to alcohol instead and lived the party lifestyle. Lecrae has said that he was a thrill-seeker at this time in his life and would do crazy things like jumping of a third-story building. His mother saw his struggles in life and tried to encourage him to read the Bible. One day he took the Bible and ripped it into pieces and threw it on the floor to show that he didn't want this book. He said that he couldn't wrap his head around the things that were written in it and couldn't believe that it would be true. He started drinking and smoking even more and fill the emptiness inside with more women.
Lecrae eventually came to a point where he realized he needed help. The influence of his Grand mother in his life made him want to try going to church. In church he met a girl from his high school that invited him to attend a bible study. He said he was surprised that the people at the bible study were regular people just like him. They were into the same things as him, but their character was different. He said they were all really loving people and that's what drew him in. Lecrae eventually decided that he wanted to live his life for God. The change didn't happen over one night, he would still struggle with making bad decisions for a long time.
One day Lecrae was in a car accident on the highway. The car rolled over and although Lecrae hadn't been wearing his seat-belt he survived the accident without any injuries. The car accident motivated Lecrae to get serious about following Jesus. He started volunteering and would sometimes preform at a juvenile detention center. When Lecrae saw the impact his performances had on the young adults he decided he wanted to give hope and encouragement to people through his music. That't the story about how Lecrae became a Christian rapper. Today he is married and a father of three children. He helps people through his music and through his non-profit organization ReachLife Ministries.
We all have different life stories, things we went through that shaped us into who we are today. We also have different skills and unique gifts and opportunities. Each one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in this world somehow, it's only going to look a little different depending on who we are. God is waiting for us to make our move. :)
Thursday, February 12, 2015
The short answer: free choice mixed with lack of self-control in us humans. The longer answer: The Bible teaches us that God created the world and filled it with everything we needed. It was all good. We were free to live and do whatever we wanted, except evil, and this is where the problems begin. We have free choice when it comes to how we live our lives, which means we have a lot of opportunities to mess up terribly. Many of us also tend to lack self-control, which makes it so much easier to do the wrong thing.
Sometimes when I hear about the horrible things that has happened in the world throughout the week I kind of wish God hadn't given us free choice. Think about how wonderful the world would be if we weren't given the opportunity to choose between doing good or evil, if good was our only option. Think about how much easier everything would be. There would be no wars, no murders, no cheating etc.
I guess that the only problem with this scenario is that if we don't have free choice then how do we know if anything is even real? For example, if two people are in a romantic relationship because they are forced to be, then is it really a romantic relationship? I would say no, we would rather call it "an arrangement". You can't really force love can you?
If love is forced then it isn't love, it becomes something else entirely. Love is only real when there is freedom. In the same way love couldn't exist in this world if we didn't have freedom, freedom to choose love or evil.
Every day we make the choice, hundreds of times per day, to do what's good or what is evil. We choose between doing what's right or what's wrong. The more we have practiced self-control, the easier it will be for us to make the right choices. Should I forgive, or refuse to forgive and stay bitter? Should I help my co-worker or hurry on by and think of myself first today? Should I give in to the temptation to do the wrong thing or should I keep on fighting for what I know is right?
We have many choices to make and they are all small opportunities to either put more evil into this world or put more love into the world. Every choice matters. No good deed is wasted. Every time we are faced with a choice God is hoping we will choose good over evil. He wants us to come over to His side, but the choice is ours.
Let's go back to the question, "Why is there so much evil in this world if God is good?" It's simple, we are given free choice. It's up to us what kind of world we want to live in. Every choice matters. We have a choice to either pour more love into the world through our daily actions or to produce more evil.
The next question often becomes: "So God doesn't care about us? Will God just sit by and watch people do evil and do nothing about it?" No, He will not. The Bible is filled with verses about how God will always protect those who love him and believe in him. This doesn't mean that everyone who believes in Him will have an easy life where anyone trying to hurt them will be struck down by lightning from the sky. Although that would be very convenient, wouldn't it? :)
The Bible also talks about how our life is a test, God is interested in the condition of our hearts. Are we filled with compassion and care for others or are our hearts filled with envy and selfish ambition? God can also use the struggles in our lives to develop character in us, to make us into better people. This means that life won't exactly be like a long vacation for any of us, neither for believers or unbelievers. On the other hand if we believe we are never alone in our struggles. No matter what we are facing God can help us through it.
When we feel like we are running out of energy and strength to go on, God is there to fill us up with new strength. When we believe, we are not alone. When we have the God of the universe on our side there is nothing in this world that will be able to stand against us. When God gives us some of His strength we will be able to do things we never thought possible before. If you have God on your side, prepare to be amazed at what He will be able to do for you in your life.
The third question that people often ask is: "Will the world be like this forever, filled with wars, diseases and suffering?" The answer is no, it's only temporary. The world we live in wasn't always like this, in the beginning everything was good, nowadays everything's a mess. So when will the disasters end?
The Bible talks about how there will be a day when every evil deed will be judged. Whenever it seems like someone who committed a crime got away it's good to remember that it's only for now. Eventually every deed, good or evil, will be judged. For us, who will not be here for more than 100 years, it's more important to focus on today than judgement day.
What will we choose to do today to make a difference in this world? The Bible talks about how God loves every single person in this world, so if we are serious about following God we can't NOT care about those who are suffering in this world today. We are not here for ourselves, we were created to go to those in need and love them. Every single person on this planet needs to be loved, because a person who hasn't first experienced love will not choose good over evil. Loved people, love others. Forgiven people, forgive others. Hurt people, hurt others.
What will matter at the end of our lives isn't what brand of car we drove, the size of the house we lived in or how many beautiful destinations we traveled to during a life. What will matter is what we did for others while we lived. Did we love others? Did we feed those who are hungry? Did we use those who are poorer than us or did we try to help them? Did we spend most of our time, money and resources on "living comfortably" or did we use them to help those who suffer. No good deed is wasted and no good deed will go unnoticed by God. We are all born with free choice, how will you choose to live your life? It matters, because your life matters big time!
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I heard the story about Gainesville State school a few months ago when I watched the video-based bible study by Max Lucado called "Made to make a difference". Today I found the story about this football game on youtube and wanted to share it with you. It's a story about hope and about believing in people. Everybody needs love and support to be able to make the best out of their life situation.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Last week my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. I'm so proud of my parents for taking care of each other through all the years and for hanging in there through both good times and bad. They have given me such a good example for what a happy marriage can look like.
Me and my husband bought a Canadian wedding cake for my parents' anniversary and as we were celebrating them I asked my Mom what her advice is for lasting love. My mother answered that she thinks having a very good friendship at the base of the relationship is very important. She said that the passion comes and goes but the close friendship is what always remains and keeps you together. Knowing that even when you are having a bad day and aren't being so nice, you are with someone who understands you and will love you regardless. I can only agree with my mother's advice. It's like the saying: "when we deserve love the least, we need it the most."
Today I learned three small tools that make a big difference in a romantic relationship.
1.) If you think something good, say it.
When we speak life-giving words to our spouses we lift them up. Compliment your spouse, make it a rule to tell your spouse every time you think something positive about him or her. Don't just think it, say it! Every time we tell our spouse something positive that we thought about them we make them feel special, wanted and honoured.
2.) If you think something special, do it.
Make your spouse a priority. Take time to plan a weekend away together for just the two of you where you can focus on each other and reconnect. Don't let the busyness of life make you too busy to have time for just the two of you. If you want a strong and healthy marriage you can't afford not to prioritize alone time with your spouse. When you prioritize spending time with your spouse it tells him or her: "I want to spend time with you, you are important to me."
Thoughtful acts are often more romantic than just bringing home flowers or chocolate. Thoughtful acts are a signal to your spouse that you care about him or her. A thoughtful act according to women can be when her husband helps her with the dishes or help her fold the laundry. A thoughtful act can often be something that we ourselves don't value, but we do it because we know that it's important to our spouse. Thoughtful acts make our spouses feel valued and special, when we act we show them that we care.
These little tools are simple but they can make a big difference in your romantic relationship. Be a blessing to your spouse by serving him or her with acts of love. Good relationships don't happen by accident, they require a lot of intentional acts. You can watch the whole message on "Love in Action" by Craig Groeschel on the youtube video above or at www.lifechurch.tv