Carpe Diem


Saturday, July 14, 2012


I never knew what that meant until a few days ago.  I saw a hashtag followed by YOLO.  Since then, I've been seeing it pop up here and there.  What does it mean?  Well, according to my sources (my sister), it means You Only Live Once.  So true, right?  But people are like "Jumped in a snake pit YOLO" and I say your living is going to be shortened by your attempts to make "the most" out of life.  But that isn't my blog post for today.  I'm not talking about people's stupidity and their justifications for it.  What I'm talking about is us.  What do I mean?  I mean the people who are living life like we're never going to die.  No, you might not be bungee jumping off a cliff or swimming with sharks, but you're living life like you've got plenty of time still.

Us humans have a warped sense of time.  To us, 70 years seems like forever.  Especially when we're young.  If it seems a ways off, we tend to think "Oh, I'll die at 72, the average age to die.  When I get near that age, I'll get my life in order."  People say "I'll wait till I'm older to get rid of my addictions.  I'm young now, I want to live life."  But as they get closer and closer to that 72 year mark, they seem to think that they still have time left.  They hit 72 and feel like they're going to make it to 80.  After 80, they feel like a spring chicken who's gonna make it to 90.  But one day, life is going to run out for them, for all of us.  We don't know when we're dying.  I could die in the next 5 minutes.  Do I believe it to be true? I hope not!  I'm not planning on dying soon, but I don't want to die and stand before God and have him say "What did you do with your life?" and I have to say "I spent it seizing the day.  YOLO, ya know."  I want to be able to look back and see all the times I decided to do something for God instead of for myself.  I chose to do the right thing instead of the stupid thing.  I chose to make a difference in someone else's life rather than make the morning news.  I don't want to look back with regrets.

People say you don't regret taking chances and living life on the edge.  Maybe that's true.  I wouldn't know, I play it safe.  I don't go bungee jumping or skydiving.  However, living life on the edge could get you pushed off the edge before you know it.  And then what?  Your living once was full of worldly pleasures, things to get a high for yourself.  I'm not saying that doing things to get an adrenaline rush is wrong or bad.  Stupid, possibly, but not wrong.  But I am saying that when you make that the primary focus of your life, then you make the wrong choice for your life focus.  Remember, You really do only live once.  Are you going to make that life full of things for yourself or things for others?  Is it going to be all about you or all about God?  "It is appointed unto men once to die and after that, the Judgement." (Hebrews 9:27)

What's going to be your excuse? You were too busy living your life to make a difference in someone else's life?  You had things you wanted to do so you didn't want to stop for someone else?  Your bucket list wasn't all checked off, so you brushed aside the hurting and lost people?  Why should it be Carpe Diem?  It should be Carpe Perditus "Seize the lost."  Use the little time you have to live life with NO regrets, to live life to the fullest as it was meant to be lived to the fullest: For God alone.

What makes me angry


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Warning: What I am about to say might make a few people angry.  Of course, when one person expresses a strong opinion, it will tend to make the people who have opposite opinions to be peeved.  I don't believe that it should be a source for argument, but discussion.  Opinions, convictions, beliefs, whatever you want to call it (though each of those words have differing definitions in my mind), are best stuck to.  The phrase "stick to your guns" comes to mind.  If you believe something and feel that strongly about it and it is God honoring (Honoring God is most important in every conviction), then stick to it no matter what anybody says.  It's not easy, believe me.  I've had to stick to my guns a few times in my short lifetime, and it feels like a lonely, depressing road.  However, honoring what God has put in your heart will bring great rewards.  And the plus side is that people will respect  you for having a conviction and sticking to it.  Even if they don't agree.

So with that being said, here is the question for today, the 184th day of the year.  "What makes you angry?"

Lots of things make me angry: the current state of our country, the downsliding morals of the world in general, the way people handle things, the self-serving nature of people, the laziness of people, etc.  And I could probably write a good long blog post about each and every one of those things and why they make me angry.  However, the one thing that has been angering me most is the attitudes of the church.  Now, I know people will say "If you're angry with something in the church, you're bitter.  I beg to differ.  In the second chapter of John, right at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, he got angry with the way things were handled in the church.  He even got a whip and started turning tables over.  If something in the church is not God honoring or not to the most excellent standard of worship, then it doesn't belong and we shouldn't just sit by and twiddle our thumbs waiting for the next person to say something about it.  We should be the bold voice to speak up against something we see that's not right.

That being said, here is what I am angry about.  Church has changed so much in the last hundred years.  Okay, church has changed so much since the first century churches.  However, the world has changed a lot since the first century.  In the first century, the Christians feared for their lives.  Even the Jews were out to put them in prison.  But all that aside, church has changed dramatically in the past hundred years.  Even in the past fifty years, church has changed.  It used to be the place where people assembled expecting God to come.  EXPECTING.  It wasn't an "I hope God comes today in our service."  It was "If God doesn't come, something's wrong and we need to figure out what it is."  People spent hours in prayer each week for the church services seeking for God to come.  They didn't hope for it, they expected it.  They wanted to see the presence of God every week.  They didn't care about anything else.  They didn't care if they had bulletins, the latest technology, the latest "evangelism technique," the latest anything..  They cared about the Spirit of God coming first, then about people being saved.  If you don't have the Spirit of God, how do you think people are going to see and hunger after Him?

Today, however, we are concerned about the latest programs.  Do we have junior church, do we have bulletins, do we have contact cards for the ushers to hand to the visitors, do we have technology, do we have the latest and greatest everything.  I'm not saying that junior church, bulletins, contact cards, technology, or the latest things are wrong.  They can be good things to have.  However, we tend to get caught up in it.  Do we have a snack for the kids at junior church?  I think it's just plain sad when kids walk into junior church and ask what snack they're having today.  They're not excited about what they're learning, they're wanting to have animal crackers and juice.  Are the bulletins up to date, and look pretty?  Are we making sure our service runs seamlessly?  Now don't get me wrong, I'm afraid people are going to take this as me bashing all of this stuff, and I'm not.  I'm saying that we get so caught up in the aesthetics that we're not worried about people having a true deep down salvation.  We're not worried about people seeing the presence of God.  We think we have the answers to the perfect church service, that we're not willing to just throw away the bulletin and let the Spirit of God lead the service.  We feel we must have things just so or else.

If your church is one that's slipping on this, be the voice to speak up.  However, don't just speak up and expect everyone else to change.  It's just plain hypocritical to say "I think we should spend time in prayer each week for God to come in our services" and then don't do it yourself.  Get down on your knees and start praying.  People keep talking about getting outside of their comfort zone while sitting in an air conditioned building in relatively comfortable pews just twiddling their thumbs wondering if God's gonna show up today.  It's time to get active, to get on your knees and weep before God begging to see Him.  God wants to come to our worship services.  I don't think people realize that.  God wants to be at their church every single service.  We just get so caught up in doing the right thing at the right time that we don't give Him room to just come and be with us.  We tell God when He can come.  We think God can come only when we tell Him to come.  We say "God, you come when we're singing this song."  Or "God, you come when we're praying."  Or "God, you come when the preacher is preaching."  We don't say "God, you come when you're good and ready to come, and we'll be here waiting for You and when You do come, we'll obey what the Spirit tells us to do.  No matter what."  Nowadays, if someone gets blessed and says "Amen" during church, you can almost hear the collective gasp and heads swivel to see who in the world just said that.  If someone starts to listen to the Spirit, we wonder what show their trying to put on.  If someone starts to follow what God is telling them, maybe running the aisles even, we just want to tell them to sit down so we can move on to the preaching and maybe get out at noon today so we can go home and eat.  Oh, we would never say it.  We would never tell someone that they couldn't get up and run the aisles.  If someone did, we wouldn't tell them to sit down.  But we would be thinking it.

Have we become so like the Pharisees of Jesus' day who had to have the worship of God just so, down to how far you could travel on the Sabbath?  Have we become so formal that we create a box to try to shove God in.  Have we come to the point where we try to force God to come at a certain time?  Have we gotten out of touch with the true meaning of worship?  Do we even realize that when we worship, we worship a Holy God who is much bigger than we our that could snuff our lives out quicker than a candle?  Do we even realize how huge it is to have the Creator of the universe to come and grace OUR service with His presence?  Do we care?  We say things are better now.  We think we're winning people to Jesus.  But are we just winning people to our program?  Do people feel good about the praise music we sing?  Do they feel that God is their friend who will put up with their sin and maybe overlook something here or there?  Do they feel that God is what they want Him to be?  And are we giving people these ideas?  Are we watering down the image of God so much that people don't have a reverent fear of God?  Are they not awed by the thought of God?  Are WE not awed by the thought of God?  Think about it.  We go to worship in the presence of God, the creator of the world.  There are over 7 BILLION people on this planet.  The universe is infinite.  The sun is 93 MILLION miles from the earth.  There are things we've never seen in the universe.  Things are bigger than we can imagine.  And God created ALL of it.  He could destroy it all with the snap of His fingers.  All He had to do was speak and the universe was created.  All He has to do is speak and it's destroyed.  That should put some reverent awe in people, but it doesn't anymore.  We have God sized down to this little thing that we can put into a box and carry where we want and when we want God, we open the box and say "You can come out now, God" and expect God to come.  Do you think God is going to follow what you say?  God doesn't come to us on our terms, we go to God on HIS TERMS.  Are we trying to put God and our Christian lives into a little briefcase to carry around with us to use when we need it?

If we are, God help us.  We are so pitiful and depraved to think that we are smarter than God.  We are the scum of the earth to think that God obeys us instead of us obeying God.  We wonder why things go so wrongly.  It's because we're trying to control everything ourselves.  We try to tell God what to do.  We kneel down to pray and say "God, thank you for doing this, but you forgot to do this other thing.  Hurry and do it so we can get on with our lives."  We are pitiful.  We are like tiny bugs, tiny ants trying to take control of the universe.  We are so arrogant to think that we have control over God.

How do we fix it though?  I believe that through prayer....lots of prayer, lots of humbling ourselves, lots of seeing who we truly are compared to who God truly is, we can turn things around.  But that requires a commitment, one that we don't stress enough anymore.  Loving God is a commitment, but we act like loving God is just another thing to be thrown around according to our whims.  We need to be so committed to God that NOTHING can rip us away from Him.  God is to be our number one priority.  Before everything else.  That's hard for us to do, for some reason.  We let our lives get in the way of daily worship.  We end up right before bed reading a Psalm then praying a couple sentences and laying down and forgetting about worship till the next night right before bed.

I'm not just saying this to everyone else, I'm saying it to myself, too.  I seem to struggle with finding time to worship God, but I can find time to do everything else I want to do.  I forget about keeping in contact with God through my whole day and just think about it when I have nothing else to do.  I think we should make a commitment.  A true commitment.  A commitment to daily worship.  Not just daily worship, but hourly worship.  If I could make up a word, we should be committed to secondly worship.  That's worship every second.  Could we make every second of our lives about worshipping God?  I don't mean every second you should be on your knees praying or singing songs or anything.  I mean, everything you do, whether you're at work writing a report, on the phone with someone, resting at home, at the grocery store, even while doing recreational activities, it should be to the glory of God.  Our lives should be a direct worship every second, no matter what we're doing.  If we can do that, if we can get back to worshipping God every day all day, then we will see results.  Great results.

The Nicest Thing Ever


Sunday, July 1, 2012

For today, the 182nd day of the year, the question is: "What is the nicest thing someone ever did for you?"

For me, I can't think of one specific thing that has been the "nicest" thing anyone ever did for me.  My mind immediately goes back to my parents who, even when it was difficult, they made sure my needs were always met. My parents have always gone the extra mile to help me out and make sure I have everything I need.  I can't imagine my life without them and their help.

However, the one specific thing that stands out to me that someone did for me is Jesus's dying on the cross for me.  Just for me.  If I was the only person ever to be saved from Jesus dying on the cross, he would have done it....just for me!  I'm amazed at the ultimate love and sacrifice that was put into this act.  I'm so thankful that God sent His Son to Earth to pay the exact price for every single person's sins.  I don't know about you, but I've done an awful lot of sinning in my lifetime.  It seems so easy to just....do wrong things!  But, even when I intentionally do something against God's laws, I know that forgiveness is just around the corner if I ask.

What has been the nicest thing someone ever did for you?  What do you think other people would say would be the nicest thing you've done for them?

Here's my challenge to my readers:

Find a person, any person.  It could be a family member, a close friend, someone who goes to your church, the cashier at the grocery store, the mailman, or some random stranger.  Pray about something nice you can do for them, to cheer them up, help them through a bad time, or just say "Hey, I'm praying for you."  Then do it.  Don't hold back, let God's love flow through you to show that person that pure sacrificial love that Christ gave to you.  But don't let it stop with one person!  Once you've done something for that person, move on to the next.  The blessings you'll get from helping others will be addicting.

So when the person is asked "What is the nicest thing (Insert your name) has ever done for you? They don't have to stop and think about it; they know exactly what it is.

What has someone done for you that really stood out to you?  Why did it stand out to you?  What are some ways we can help others?  Post your comments, I'd love to hear them!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


Friday, June 29, 2012

I've decided to use this blog to write down my thoughts....who knows, maybe it will go somewhere this time! Only time will tell, I suppose.

Anyways, I ran across a website the other day that got me to thinking.  Like, really thinking.  It had 365 thought provoking questions, one for each day of the year.  I decided to start with the number that today would be (today, June 29, is the 181st day of the year).  The website I'm taking this from is http://www.marcandangel.com/ and it's from an article called "365 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask Yourself This Year."  I'm going to try to write every day, but we'll see how it goes.  It might be sporadic.

Today's question, #181, is "Why do we idolize sports players?"

I'm going to change this to "Why do we idolize people (sports stars, movie stars, music stars, or anybody in general really)?"

First off, everyone has a hole in their heart, that's how we start.  This hole we tend to fill with things in the world, like money, fame, popularity, material possessions, etc.  It's only to be filled by God, so anything less than God would be insufficient.  We know that nothing can compare to God, so we're fighting a futile battle trying to shove everything else in that hole.  However, idolizing people is a little more than that.  We see people that have a certain talent or certain looks or certain abilities that we don't have that we would just love to have.  We might not be able to carry a tune in a bucket, so we idolize pop singers that seem to hit all the right notes all the time (they really don't, they get a lot of help anymore from computers.....and lip synching during a concert...don't get me started!).  We might see a sports star that has athletic ability that's 250 pounds of pure muscle or speed or any number of physical attributes.  Why in the world would we look at these people and want to be them?

You see the Kardashians, their marriages are broken up all over the place, they're on the front of every tabloid for every scandal that you could ever dream.  You see the sports stars, their lives are filled with the temptation to take steroids to bulk up, and when they do, their lives are changed forever for the worst.  Music stars, movie stars, they all end up in some sort of rehab for any number of addictions.  The reality of this is, these people are no better than us: broken, sinful people with a hole in their heart that only God can fill.  Why would we want to be anything like them?

It comes down to being dissatisfied with ourselves.

Psalm 139:14 says "I will praise [God] for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  Do you feel fearfully and wonderfully made?  Do you feel like the pinnacle of God's creation?  Do you feel like an individual that has unique talents and unique abilities?  Or do you feel like God made a mistake on you and your entire existence must be a mistake?  You might not be the greatest musician, you might not be a talented writer or an athletic bodybuilder.  You could be just the average person living the average life.  But you are special.  You have a talent that nobody else has quite like you.  Maybe you're a speaker, maybe you're a writer.  Maybe you just have that special touch with the elderly or children.  Maybe you do have a talent, but you're too afraid to use it and let it grow because you're afraid of what others will say.

This is my challenge to my readers (if there are any..):

Find something you do well.  If you can't think of anything, think of compliments you might get.  That's probably an area that do well in.  If you can't think of any compliments you get, think of something you really enjoy doing and feel comfortable doing.  That's probably something else you have a talent in, just waiting to be developed.  Once you find something you do well, practice at it.  Your talents aren't just going to bloom overnight.  You're not going to write the next great classic without developing your writing skill.  You're not going to sing the next opera overnight, you have to train your voice.  Even the person with the most talent still has to practice.  It may seem to come naturally, and it might come naturally to a point, but that person still has to practice at what they do in order to become better.  So practice, practice, practice.  Maybe you practice at home, at church, or some other place you feel comfortable.  Once you get really comfortable doing what you do well, branch out!  See where it could take you.  You never know what you can accomplish until you accomplish something.  Always try to get better, never just stay in one place.  Keep moving forward, and one day you'll wake up and realize that God did give you a talent, He was just waiting for you to exercise it.  Lastly, I challenge you to do everything, everything, to God's glory.  You'll be rewarded greatly for it.  I promise.

Maybe you won't be famous or popular or a star.  You might not be well known.  But, you will be using what God gave you, and that makes you a star in God's eyes.  And that's all that matters, right?  Of course, right.

Feel free to comment or share your own experiences finding what talents and skills God has gifted to you.  I'd love to hear them!