Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 8

Obsessed: To have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.

Have you ever been obsessed with anything? I have been trying to think about all the different things that I have been obsessed with over the years...and quite a few have come to mind. Most recently I have been obsessed with things like Halo 2 and 3, different time wasting games on facebook like jetman, mafia wars, mouse hunt, or college town.

Looking back through my life, I have been obsessed with a lot of different things...but unfortunately most of the time my obsessions aren't with the one thing that they should be with. As a Christian, I am called to be obsessed with Jesus and to live my life in Christ. I think that Christians as a whole fall short in this area, myself included. What would it look like if everyone that claimed to be a Christian lived a life being obsessed with Jesus and spending all of their time/efforts/money fulfilling the things that Jesus was all about? I for one think that people would have a much more positive view of Christians.

I want to be completely and utterly obsessed with Christ. So much that my life absolutely revolves around Him and I would feel worthless if I'm not living up to the standards that He has set.

I want to...
  • give freely and openly
  • live life in faith and step out of my comfort zone
  • be connected to the poor and needy in some way
  • be more concerned with obeying God than fulfilling the status quo
  • strive to always be more humble
  • serve better
  • think about others more than myself
  • have a "Kingdom" mindset and orient my life around eternity
  • have a passion for God above all else
  • be open and transparent with God
  • have a more intimate relationship with Him
  • be more joyful in every circumstance
  • be faithful to Christ in every aspect of my life
How about you?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 7

This chapter was a hard chapter to read. Not because it used big words or long run-on sentences that confused me, but rather because I didn't like what I was reading. Don't get me wrong, it was a great chapter and everything that Chan said was really good and really truthful...but I didn't like what I read because it really convicted me. It made me realize that I'm not living up to the potential that Jesus has called everyone to. It made me realize that my priorities are screwed up and I need to change some things.

Yesterday at Calvary Christian Church, Scott preached on sacrificial giving. I left feeling like I needed to take a serious look at my life and re-evaluate how I am doing in that area. Today, the chapter I read was about sacrificial giving. I think maybe God is trying to tell me something...

For the longest time I have struggled with giving/tithing because I always viewed my money as just that, my money. I always had this selfish thought in my head that I needed the money more than the church...I was missing a huge point. So while I was sitting in church yesterday and Scott kept repeating over and over that everything you possess is GOD'S (your car, your kids, your money, etc.) it kinda hit me hard. Something needs to change, and that something is me.

It all boils down to faith and trust. I need to have faith that even though I think that I don't have any extra money to give...God will provide and everything will work out. I need to trust that God will bless me if I give willingly and sacrificially. I need to learn to better give out of love...because as Chan said love is where giving starts. (that is my paraphrase) "For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE..." (John 3:16)

Over the next few days I am going to be taking a long look at how I can better give...sacrificially...willingly...and out of love. Pray for me.

Also, if this is something that you struggle with as well, I want to encourage you to listen to Scott's sermon from Calvary Christian Church and also check out chapter 7 of Crazy Love by Francis challenged me, maybe it can do the same for you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 6

Sometimes I think that I'm really bad at loving. When I look at people that I always seems like they love people so much more than I do. I find myself looking at people and judging them or finding ways to justify not loving someone that might annoy me or people that drive too slow on the highway. It makes me think of my dad, knowing that there have to be some people that annoy him (myself included) and people that he might not always enjoy being around...he always makes it a point to love them. I wish that I could do that more often.

In chapter 6, there is a section that talks about breaking free from preconceived notions of love and loving like Christ intended. Chan quoted a few verses from Galatians 5 that really made me think...its talks about how we are called to be free and not to use our freedom to indulge in our sinful nature...but rather to love. I had never really thought about that before. Through Christ we have been set free, but most of the time we just go right back to the sin that we were indulging in before we came to God, like a dog returns to its vomit. Jesus calls us to be more than that. We are set free so that we can love! God wants to change us. Jesus died to change us. Not so that we keep sinning.

We need to let God change us. I need to let God change me. My prayer today is that I would be able to love more like Christ...that I would be able to see Christ in others and love them. Will you make that your prayer today?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 5

I'm finally to the point at college where I feel like I'm in a routine. So I'm going to try this blogging thing again...I know it seems like I say this in every post...but I have a good feeling about this time. I decided that I'm going to take it easy and not try to blog every day, but just do it when I feel like it...which, in spite of my few posts lately, is actually more often than you might think.

I recently took a break from my normal reading (mostly Christian non-fiction) and decided to do something a little different to give my mind a quick change of pace. I just finished The Circle Trilogy by Ted Decker and really enjoyed them. Somewhere down the road I will definitely be reading more of Decker's books...but for now it's back to Crazy Love.

After reading this chapter I have been kinda convicted. This idea that I have been giving God my leftovers didn't sit well with me. I have never really thought about this, but Chan raises a good point when he says that it is impossible for a Christian to be lukewarm. The reality is that Christ wants all or nothing from us. If we aren't willing to give Him everything, then he would rather have nothing than to be fighting for our time/thoughts/love/actions/etc.

I know that no one is perfect and that we are going to screw up and not give Christ ALL of us from time to time and that God's grace covers that act...but I don't think that's exactly what he meant here. There is a huge difference between trying to give your best to God and failing...and just giving God your leftovers. This is where I feel Christians need to check themselves. Are you really and truthfully giving God your "first fruits", or are you simply giving Him what is left after you take care of your needs? When I say this, I'm not necessarily talking about money, though that is part of it, I'm talking about your time and your relationships and your thoughts and your family and your whole life.

I felt convicted by this chapter because I feel like I am not doing a good job with this right now and I need to fix something. I want to challenge you to think about this concept in your life. How are you doing? Are you giving God your everything...or does He end up just getting your leftovers?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 4

"15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)

Have you ever taken a drink of something that was supposed to be hot, like coffee or hot chocolate, and it was just to the point where it was starting to get cold? That happened to me the other day and I had to seriously fight the urge to spit the coffee out. I couldn't help but think about this passage in Revelation...God can't stand it when we are lukewarm.

Unfortunately, I think that today's church (the people not the building) is in a constant struggle with being lukewarm. I don't think that this is an intentional thing for most of us because this is the culture that we have been brought up in. We go to church and read our Bibles and pray and say the right things...but why? Because we were told to...its just what we do. We don't drink, smoke, cuss, or partake in other "sinful" activities...why? Because we were told not to.

I think that Christians as a whole get caught up in the rut of being "lukewarm" and just going through the motions because that is we are so used to doing...or "supposed to do." We need to break the mold of Christianity that is causing so many people to look down on us. We need to stop accepting mediocrity and live up to the standard that Christ has set for us. I believe that there is so much that we are missing out on in this life and we don't even know it because we are caught up in our "lukewarm" faith and content with it. We don't feel the need to grow any closer to Christ because we are close enough.

Here are a list of things that Francis Chan labels as "The Profile of the Lukewarm"

Lukewarm People...
  • attend church fairly regularly
  • give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living
  • tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in a conflict
  • don't really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin
  • are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act
  • rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends
  • gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world
  • say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives...but only a part
  • love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength
  • love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves
  • will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give
  • think about life on earth much more than eternity in Heaven
  • are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor
  • do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty
  • are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control
  • do not live by faith; their lives and structured so they never have to
  • probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't that different from your typical unbeliever
Look over this list and REALLY take a deep look into your life. Are you lukewarm?

Jesus explained in the parable of the sower different levels of people and how they accept the Word of Truth in Matthew 13. The seed flung onto the path is quickly stolen away. The seed tossed onto the rocks do not take root...they appear to grow, but only on a surface level. The seed spread out among the thorns takes root but is soon suffocated by the thorns. The seed that is sown on good soil takes root, grows, and produces fruit.

"Do not assume that you are good soil."

Like I said in previous posts...we serve an amazing God who loves us with an unconditional love. He deserves the absolute best that we have. Not some lukewarm drink that He is going to want to spit out the second it touches His tongue. We need to strive to give Him our all, our best, and our first fruits.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 3

Crazy- 1. wonderful, excellent, perfect.
2. having an unusual, unexpected, or random quality, behavior, result, pattern, etc.

Love- 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

I have come to the conclusion that most people struggle with completely understanding God's love. I have heard questions like, "If God truly loves us then why do bad things still happen?" and "How can God love me, you don't know the things that I have done." I think that each person who struggles with grasping God's love does so for many different reasons...whether it is because of some encounter that we have had in a relationship that has skewed our view of love...or whether we have just not seen an outpouring of love at all in our lives...the reasons vary from person to person.

People try to associate the love that they see in this world with the love that God shows us and while that can give us a very small glimpse of what God's love is like, it pales in comparison. For example...I know that my parents love me. No matter what I do, no matter what I say. There is nothing that I can do that would change that. But still...the love that my parents have for me is just a small fraction of the love that God has for me.

Let me try to get this point across...the God we serve is a HUGE God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-sufficient. He created everything that we are able to see in this world and even the things that we can't see. Yet a God that is so much bigger than our brains could even fathom loves each and every one of us with a love that we cannot fathom either! This God wants to be a part of our lives on a daily basis. Before we had ever been born, He knew us. (Jeremiah 1:4-5) He created us for a purpose that is "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

I can't even begin to understand God's love but I do know this...that I want to try. I want nothing more than to be a part of a God who loves us with such a crazy love. I want nothing more than to be a part of a love that God chooses to give to us. I want nothing more than to be a part of the greatest good on this earth...God. I don't know why a God so huge decided to love each and every one of us, it is crazy to think about. All that I can do is embrace this love and strive with everything that is in me to give all my love in return. My love for God should make it so that I want to spend every waking moment in contact with digging into His talking to Him through prayer...and by basking in the goodness of His creation. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crazy Love - Chapter 2

You might not finish reading this blog post...

Why is that you ask? Because at any moment any one of us could cease to exist. That is the reality of the issue. Everybody dies.

Most of the time people fail to realize that at any moment they could die. Whether your heart would decide to randomly stop beating or you fell victim to the acts of a could happen. There won't always be tomorrow and that is something that we don't like to think about. Why don't we like to think about it? Because it forces us to make the realization that life isn't about us...and forces us to make the realization that we are a selfish people.

Think about that. We are selfish. I would be willing to bet that you could not make it through one week or maybe even one day without having a selfish thought. We get so caught up in living for ourselves that we forget that every single second of our lives is not about us...but is about God. God doesn't fit into our story...we fit into His. Francis Chan walked us through how God's story is recorded in the Bible and I will walk us through this quickly.

God created the world-->People rebel against God and-->God floods the earth to rid it of the mess people made of it-->generations later...God called out Abram to be the father of a nation-->even later...people like Joseph and Moses and other ordinary people were also picked by God to do great works-->then God sends judges and prophets to His nation because they had trouble obeying Him-->then the climax...the Son of God is born among God's people and teaches people what true love looks like then dies, is resurrected, and returns to Heaven to be with God-->then the story ends...with every being worshiping God who sits on the throne of Heaven.

You tell me who this story is about.

What does this mean for us? We need to stop living like everything revolves around us...and start living like everything revolves around God. Nothing else matter in this life except for God. Not money, fame, family, friends, popularity...NOTHING. We need to live in such a way that it is impossible for us to forget God...because He is everything! We have to realize that.

Crazy Love - Chapter 1

I was packing up my books the other day, getting things in order for when I finish up my internship and head back to school, and I noticed something that kinda bothered me. I had probably no less than 20 books sitting on my shelf that I hadn't read yet...but this isn't really what bothered me. What really bothered me was that I noticed another 20 or so books that I have read...I couldn't remember a single thing about some and very few things about others. I spent hours reading those books and have nothing to show for it...what a waste of time!

I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something in order to better recall the things that I have read so that I can better apply them to my life. So I devised a plan. From now on I am going to read at least a chapter every day and sometimes more and then regurgitate what I read on my blog. My hopes are that I will be able to recall the things that I read and better apply them to my life. Also, I hope that something that I write on here will inspire someone else in some way.

Today I started the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have heard great things about this book and am really looking forward to being challenged by its words.

Stop Praying...what a way to start a book.

Stop talking at God and take some time to actually meditate and focus on who He is.

This is a whole lot harder than you might think. Just thinking of God as "Creator" is most likely too much for our human brains to handle. This video kinda puts things into perspective a little bit. This universe that God created and its detail is a lot to take in. Just thinking about how no two snowflakes are the same or how God knows exactly the number of hairs on our head or how your heart creates enough pressure when it pumps blood through your body to squirt it up to 30 feet or how there are 228 separate and distinct muscles in the head of a caterpillar is simply amazing. And this is just a fraction of the tip of an iceberg.

I feel just like Chan when he said that when he thinks about these things he HAS to worship. How could you not? Check out Psalm 19:1-4. I feel a little left out at times when I read this passage. If all of creation is a constant testimony to to power of God and how truly BIG He is...why do I miss it sometimes? Why am I not constantly lifting God up in worship? Unfortunately I think that a lot of us struggle with just this. We forget God and who He really is. We don't often think about this because it is one of those things that is always around us and never leaves. We get used to being right in the middle of it and start to take it for granted...or forget that it is there...that God is with us...and that He is AWESOME!

Chan end the chapter by hitting on some of the key attributes of God that we often forget about...not because they are easily forgettable, but simply because we forget. We need to be reminded of these things so that we never truly forget who God is and what He is like.
  • God is holy or set apart and perfect. Because of this there is no way that we can fathom everything about Him. There aren't enough words in our vocabulary to describe the words of Chan..."Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?"
  • God is eternal. That seems like a given, right? Just think about that for a while. In a world full of things that have a beginning, we have a God that doesn't. We have a God that came before everything and will be there long after everything is gone. Try to grasp everything about that...
  • God is all-knowing. It is humbling to think that the same God who is big enough to have created everything in existence and is holy and eternal is also a God that wants to know the little things about us...and everything else about us for that matter.
  • God is all-powerful. Everything was created for God. (Colossians 1:16) Yet we seem to go about our lives thinking that everything is here for us. Daniel 4:35 says that basically we are nothing and God is everything...He has ultimate power to do as He pleases. Who are we to tell Him any different?
  • God is fair and just. He is pretty set in His ways. He can have no part of sin because He is holy. And all sin must be punished. Its as simple as that. The cool thing about it is this: God gave us His Son to take the punishment we deserve. Everyone is covered in that sacrifice...that's pretty fair. Yet Jesus took the punishment for something that had to be punished...that's pretty just. God hates sin and must punish sin. And He is completely fair and just in doing so.
It is an amazing thing to get caught up in everything that God is. I think that I need to take some time right now just to continue to take this all in...I encourage you to do the same. I know that I can't physically comprehend or explain God...but I need to try. Just look at it this way...we will NEVER run out of reasons to worship God. That is comforting encouragement to live a life of worship...finding things daily that are new and exciting about God.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tops... I've come to the realization recently (with help from various people in my life) that I am a bad blogger. I rarely blog for a few reasons: 1) I am busy. (Lame excuse I know) 2) Sometimes I just don't have anything that I feel is "blog worthy." 3) When I do have time to blog, I find myself doing other things like playing online games or watching TV.

I'm going to try to do a better job of blogging more. I really enjoy reading the list of 15 blogs that I follow as often as I can, and find myself wondering why people don't blog more so that I can read them. Then I realized that I might be making some people (if anyone actually reads my blog) feel the same way...wondering every night why there isn't a new post on Cody's Contemplations for their reading enjoyment.

Well folks, today is your lucky day! The wait is over! You blog dreams have been fulfilled!

I'm in a weird mood right now and I decided that its time for a random blog. So today's theme is...

TOPS: My top 3 list...of top 5 lists!

I am going to try my best to compile my top three list of top five lists regarding how things rank (or ranked) in my life! Woot!

Number 3: My top 5 favorite foods regardless of genre or whatever thats called for food...
5) Sesame Chicken- This is my all time favorite chinese food dish and the one that I find myself ordering regardless of the restaurant. The best sesame chicken I have ever had was from The Wonderful House in Scottsbluff.
4) Chili- I'm not really a huge soup it's a good thing that I don't really classify chili as a soup. There are 2 chili's that each have a separate place in my heart forever. First, Cristina Sander's chili is the best chili that I have ever eaten...I love to eat it with fritos, lots of shredded cheddar cheese, and a little bit of sour cream. Second, my mom's chili. Many of you might think that this is very weird but I eat my mom's chili just like my dad dousing it in sugar. Yes you hear correctly...SUGAR. Try it sometime...I wouldn't recommend it with a really spicy chili though. Reserve it for a really mild one.
3) Smothered Enchiladas- Favorite mexican food of all. I get these at any mexican restaurant that has them. Cheesy enchiladas covered in spicy pork chili is to die for! If you are ever in Scottsbluff, you have to try the smothered enchiladas at El Charrito for the are muy muy bueno!
2) Cheeseburgers- The best grilling out food ever. I could eat burgers anytime and anyplace. You can find cheap burgers for a dollar at various fast food places to satisfy your hunger. Or you could dive into the world of gourmet burgers for a pretty penny. Regardless of where you get them, they are sure to fill you up...some more than others though. The only things that could possibly be better than a cheeseburger (other than my number 1 food) is a cheeseburger with BACON!!!
1) Pizza- The chameleon of foods. Think about it...they make breakfast pizza, mexican pizza, veggie pizza, dessert pizza, taco pizza, cheeseburger pizza, mac and cheese pizza, and the list goes on. Like a food but are wondering how to make it better? Try making it into a pizza! I eat pizza fresh, day old, hot, or cold. I simply don't get tired of it. The best pizza that I can think of might surprise some people. Little Caesar's Hot and Ready. Cheap. Take it home and douse it with Frank's Red Hot Sauce then dip it in some ranch dressing and you could almost call that heavenly.

Number 2: Top 5 best of the worst pick up lines ever...
5) If you were a new hamburger at McDonald's, you would be McGorgeous.
4) How you doing? (said in a sleazy Joey Tribbiani voice)
3) Your graphics are so beautiful that they rival Doom 3.
2) There's this movie I really want to see, but my mommy said I can't go by myself...
1) Do you have a boyfriend? [No] Want one? [Yes] Well, when you want a MANfriend, come and talk to me.

Number 1: Top 5 things that I played with when a child...
5) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- I used to be obsessed with the TNMT. I collected all the action figures and would play with them on a daily basis. My favorite thing to do with them though, was to line them up in 2 lines facing each other, then grab my dad and have a war by shooting a rubber band at the other side. The first person to knock all the TNMT's down on the enemy side won. AWESOME!
4) Basketball- When I was younger, I could almost always be found outside playing basketball. Whether it was by myself, with my dad, or with the neighborhood kids...I did it all the time. That part of me hasn't really changed much. I still do that quite a bit.
3) My Bike- Riding around the neighborhood racing other kids, timing myself to see how fast I could ride to my grandma's and back, making ramps and trying to jump over things, crunching a pop can and putting it on the back tire to make it sound like a motorcycle, riding through the gutter to make all the water shoot out behind you, and trying to make the longest skid mark on the sidewalk...ya my bike riding days were the best!
2) Legos- This probably consumed at least 6 months of my life if you add all the hours together. If you were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas when I was younger, I probably would have said legos. And the few days after Christmas and my would know where to find me...I was in my room building all the sweet legos that I had received. I had so many legos that my mom got me a huge tote to put them all in. It was big enough to fit me in it. I had lego parties that lasted for days. Best days ever!
1) Dirt- What little boy didn't play with dirt? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a boy would actually be a girl if they didn't play in the dirt at least once in their life. I lived outside in the dirt. I was REALLY into building forts and those always required digging a trench somewhere in the back yard. I think the time that I realized I didn't like dirt so much was when my dad put me to work digging little holes to make a walkway of stepping stones in the back yard...dirt went from work. Sad day!

Welp...I hope that you enjoyed yet another trip into my head for a moment...see you next year!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Much...

I realize that I haven't posted in a couple months. For some reason I seem to have fallen off the blogging bandwagon. I really had no intentions of doing so, but I guess things just caught up with me and I fell behind...really far behind. I apologize to everyone that follows my blogs...if there is anyone. I will try to do better at blogging more often.

These past few months have been great. I'm always amazed at how God seems to work in my life even though at times I don't think that I deserve it. When I think back on my life, God has always taken care of all my needs and even a lot of my wants. He blessed me with a great family growing up, an awesome youth group through Jr High and High School, great friends at home and at college, and a great church family wherever I have been.

He has also blessed me with various material blessings. My very first car, a 1987 Ford Bronco II was given to us as long as we could get it running. My second car, a 1990 Nissan Maxima, was also given to us so I would have a more reliable car for college. When my computer stopped working this last year during my internship, some families in the church got together and bought me a new one. When I was at school it was not uncommon to get a note in my mailbox saying that someone had made an anonymous payment towards my school bill.

Things continue to go well for me in spite of me seemingly screwing things up occasionally. Right now in my life, my family is still awesome and continues to support me in everything that I do. My friends are also still awesome, keeping in touch for the most part even though I'm 4 hours away. I just recently got a wonderful girlfriend, Meghan Splattstoesser and she is seriously amazing! I also just recently got a new truck, which I have wanted forever. I have a great job doing what I love as a youth intern. I will be going back to school starting next fall and am super excited about that. God has really taken care of me.

I guess the reason why I'm writing all of this is because most of the time I fail to give God the glory for all the things that are happening in my life. I like to take the credit for myself. So right now I just want to stop and say thanks God for blessing me even though I don't deserve it.
How has God blessed you in your life? Do you give Him the glory for those things?