The Importance of Rest

My wife and I are full-time wedding photographers. We shoot about 30 weddings a year and all those weddings are fit into about 8 months of the year. I like to think of us as squirrels, we work our tails off all spring, summer, and fall and then have a more relaxing work schedule during the winter. This basically means that during the busy season we are working anywhere from 50-70 hours a week and during the slow season we work 40-45 hours a week. It seems like a lot at points, but thankfully we both do it together so it never seems so bad.

I am going to talk about Mark Chapter 2, specifically where it talks about Sabbaths.

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of[d] Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

When we first started working together, we only worked. Any money that came in, we saved and we NEVER rested. After a year of that, we were both grumps so we had to change something. This year we decided to take Sunday’s off, which means no shooting at all. That was challenging at first because everyone wants to do their engagement shoot on the weekends. Turns out, everyone can find time to do their engagement pictures during the week so we were able to have our Sundays.

 

We needed that day of rest because we aren’t meant to go nonstop all of the time. Even God rested. The passage above doesn’t talk about the benefits of taking a Sabbath; it just explains that taking Sabbaths are not law. If each day seems like a whirlwind and you feel like pulling your hair out, I think its safe to say you need some rest. Set some goals for 2018 to always rest on certain days or at certain times. You will see a huge difference in your daily life.

 

Stay warm and have a great Thursday!

Let’s Be Thankful For “Trust” This Thanksgiving Holiday

John 10. A chapter that talks all about sheep, so what does that mean to us? Let’s dive into to this story.

We are his sheep and he is our Shepard. This means that God knows each of us and we know him. Without that continual relationship, how could we trust God? Think of the job of a Shepard. Shepard’s are responsible for making sure the flock of sheep is taken care of. They are responsible for finding any sheep that are lost and also defending the flock to the point of death. So if we as sheep truly trust in God to be our Shepard than we should have no fear, right?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

I don’t think God wants us to walk around thinking we are invincible but I do think God wants us to be reassured that when anything comes against us, he will be there.

If we could take anything from this passage, I would say that the key word is trust. Trust is so important in relationships. Without trust, a relationship cannot function. A marriage without trust becomes two roommates with a shared bank account. A parent/child relationship without trust becomes a rebellious child with no one to lean on. A friend relationship without trust becomes a never-ending battle against jealousy and fear. The list goes on and on.

It’s easy to say that our world would be a terrible place without trust. The funny thing is that our meaning of trust, and how we value that word, is only a glimpse of what God intended that to be. We won’t fully understand that word until we are united with our king in heaven.

So as we enjoy our turkey and football today, add, “trust” to your list of things to be thankful for. Thank you, lord, for being our Shepard and helping us through every situation because we know you’ve won every battle already. We trust you, God.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with family and have a great rest of your week! Thanks for reading.

Don’t Waste Your Opportunities 

Today we are going to go through Mathew 25. I want to do this a little differently and tell this in story form. I hope this encourages you to dive into the word and read it like a story rather than a textbook. Close your eyes and start to imagine this as if you were in this story. Let’s talk about verses 31-46.

Your soul and the souls of many others are together waiting to be judged by God. As far as the eye can see are souls of others just like you. As you stand there, you notice that each person is going before the throne of God. The line starts to move and each soul goes either right or left. Groups are getting told to go right, other groups are getting told to go left.

 

After every person has found their place either to the right or to the left, silence seems to overtake everyone. God slowly turns to the group on the right and says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

There is a bit of confusion that overtakes the group on the right. They say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? ”

God simply answers, “ Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

It starts to come back to each and every one of them. The times they visited the hospital to put a smile on a little child’s face. The times they chose not to walk by a homeless person but instead gave them money or food. The times they chose to put others first rather than themselves. Those instances weren’t just moments in time where they did a good deed, those were encounters with our heavenly father. At that very moment, God made himself known to those people and they understood.

Then God turns to the group on the left and says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.

“ They too were confused but said, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” At that very moment, the group on the left is made known of all the encounters they had with God that they chose to ignore. They were reminded of the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit whispered to them when they had the opportunity to help. Instantly they realize that all of the reasons they had in the moment were meaningless.

Then he will answer them and say, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” At that moment it was as if there was something stuck in the pit of their stomach. They plead for forgiveness over and over but the decision and their choices have already been made. Eternity has been decided. Don’t waste your opportunity!

 

Please don’t waste this time you have been given and get caught up in all the distractions of this world. In the end, they will all be meaningless. Start to looking and praying for opportunities to encounter God in your life. I promise there are plenty out there; you just have to be willing to sacrifice your time. Rejoice in today because you have been given another day on this earth, so be a light for his kingdom. Have a great Thursday everyone!

 

Rest. You Need It, So DO IT!

Rest. What comes to mind when you truly think of rest. I imagine myself on a beach at sunset with no one around. I can hear the waves as they gently wash against the shore. In the distance, I can hear the faint calls of a seagull as it flies to find its next meal. I’m not thinking about work, the dog, any relationship problems, medical issues or anything. My mind is clear and I am at peace. I think we get a taste of what rest is like when going on vacation but does that truly give us peace?

 

I am responsible for covering Mathew Chapter 11. There are a lot of different things I could be writing this on but I choose to write on the last 6 verses because it really fits with my life right now.

 

Let’s read through this together…Mathew 11:25-30

 

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

I think my life is a point that makes it very relatable. Our schedule is crazy busy right now and we are really feeling it. When life gives you lemons, you just add 3 more. That’s the saying, right? I know it’s not but I think it should be. We are a culture who hates the word “No” and loves to challenge the word “impossible.” Rest is something we laugh off and say we will get to when we are dead but are we truly living as Christ by doing that?

 

As we start to go into the winter months and things maybe start to slow down a little, try to make a mental note of how you are feeling. Remember how refreshed you are and know that it is possible to have that feeling all year long, it just requires you to say no. Even God had to rest when he created the heavens and the earth so realize that we need it too.

 

Give our heavenly father those burdens and take a breath. We both know we need it. Life is too short to be on every committee or join every sport. It’s just not worth it to keep saying yes when it’s so much more fulfilling to say no.

 

I hope this speaks to at least one of you out there reading this. It definitely spoke to me. Have a great rest of your Thursday and rest up my friends!

Betrayal of a Friend

My heart is pounding. Sweat is pouring down my face. I’m lined up with 10 other guys ready to go into battle. I have a teammate on my left and a teammate on my right. I can’t stop looking at the referee waiting for a whistle to be blown. As each moment passes, I feel like a year has gone by. Every other moment of the game I have nerves of steel but right now they feel like melted rubber. Not until I see that ball comes flying in the air do I start to get a break from the nerves but they don’t leave me until I start running full speed at my opponent and WHACK! Gone were the nerves for the rest of the game. I wanted to use this analogy because I guarantee this is how Jesus was feeling the night he knew he was going to be betrayed by Judas.

 

Luke 22 talks about a few big things. One was the Passover meal and the other was when Judas betrays Jesus. I want to focus on the betrayal. Imagine you are Jesus in this moment of time. Let’s bring it to today’s world so you can really relate to it. You have gotten together for a potluck meal at one of your friend’s homes. These are just any friends; these people have been with you in the thick and thin. They had your back and you had theirs. You guys went on vacations together, you grilled out on summer nights, you served at the church with them. Even after all of that, YOU knew that one of them was always going to betray you.

It had to be tough to be Jesus that day. Just reading scripture you can tell that even the God of the universe struggled with this.

In verses 41-44 it says, “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Have you ever prayed so hard you sweat? I know I haven’t. I bet that if you knew you had to die today, you would be praying just as hard trying to figure any way out of it. I love how Jesus puts it, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” That right there is a sermon in itself. My will is not important; it is God’s will that I should focus on. Next time you are in a situation where you have to make a big decision, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your OWN understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I want to leave you with one thing, God’s will is always more important than my will. Remember that and remember that you can go to him whenever you need him.

 

The Parable of The Sower

It was the end of July and vacation bible school was wrapping up for the summer. I and about another 100 kids were packed into our small rural church listening to some guy talk about Jesus. I didn’t know much at the time but accepting Jesus just felt right. This guy speaking was asking anyone who wanted to accept Jesus into his or her hearts to come to the front. Luckily for me, I had just been up on stage playing a game for a prize so it was no big deal. I still got my brother and cousin and made sure we headed up together because we were all in it together. I remember after that church service being as excited as I was for Christmas to come that year. I don’t experience that kind of joy very much as an adult but wish I did. I was so excited that night that we spent the whole drive home calling everyone one we knew and telling them that we accepted Jesus into our hearts. Never a second thought. Sometimes I wish I could think more like that now.

Luke 8 has many stories and miracles but the one that really stuck out to me was the parable about the sower.

4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

After this parable Jesus explained to the disciples on what it meant. I really enjoyed the way the message version explains it.

 

11-12 “This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved.

13 “The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone.

14 “And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.

15 “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

I can easily see these seeds in my own life. I have had times where I feel like I have been on fire and the Holy Spirit was with me. I have also had times where I choose to not listen and to ignore the love of my heavenly father. I can bet that you can relate to that too. The good news is that God is patient, God is kind, God keeps no record of wrong because he died for us. We are saved by grace and nothing we do will ever make us worthy enough to not need God. So if you feel like you are one of those seeds who fell among the thorns and there is no chance that you are good enough, I can promise you are.

God is always knocking; you just need to open the door.

I wanted to write about the day I accepted Jesus for a couple reasons. One is that even though I accepted Jesus, I truly didn’t know what it meant to have a relationship with him and that relationship suffered because of that. Secondly, I wanted to let you know that God died for all sins and will always love you. It’s not a young person thing to do. No matter how old you are, it is never too late.

Enjoy your Thursday and be praying for those seeds in your life who may have fallen into the wrong plot of land. I promise that they are never too far away to come back to God.

What Is Love?

1 John chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 13 two books you hear quoted a lot in weddings. Whether they are Christian or not, the Bible always seems to be read in one or both of these chapters. Why is that? Well, I think the main reason is that both of these chapters focus on love, but what is love?

 

Do we really know what love is? We use the same word to share our feelings with our significant other as we do to our favorite burger joint. I LOVE you has become a watered down phrase we say that marks the next step in our relationship. Love doesn’t mean forever anymore, Love is temporary and only there under the best of circumstances. Luckily, we have a savior that first LOVED us.

 

I was a camp counselor my sophomore year of college at a sports camp in Missouri. That summer I was stuck in a log cabin with 8, 9-year-old boys that didn’t know what they got themselves into. As a part of that trip we memorized verses but to make it easier for the kids they made songs out of it. I remember specifically learning 1 John 4:10 because they paired that verse with “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift. Still to this day I have that verse memorized.

 

That verse is probably the most important verse to look at in this chapter. It states, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. “ (1 John 4:10)

 

Let’s break this verse down. Even though we have not loved God, he still CHOOSES to love us. Can you even wrap your mind around that? When’s the last time you truly loved someone that hated every bone in your body? I’m talking lay down your life because you love them so much. I don’t think we, as imperfect beings, could even wrap our mind around that. Even though we hated him, he chose to love us AND sent his Son to die for us. That love just blows me away.

 

As your week comes to an end, remember what love really means. In a culture that only wants to devalue the word love, I challenge you to give that word more value as you use it in your day to day life. Have a great Thursday!

1 Peter Introduction

1 Peter is the first of two letters sent by Peter to multiple church communities in Asia Minor. He sends this letter specifically to the people he calls, “elect exiles.” These people were under the Roman authority and he calls them exiles because he knows that this is not their home.

 

A lot of this letter focuses on how they should respond to persecution. These people were under a lot of persecution and Peter knew that it wouldn’t stop so he encouraged them to remember Jesus. Specifically, he wanted them to remember how Jesus loved and even died for the sins of people who hated him.

 

Peter also took some time to speak to husbands and wives. In relationships that were unequally yoked he spoke to the wives saying, “ wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” (1 Peter 3:1-2) He also speaks to Christian marriages, making sure that husbands treat their wives as equals. (1 Peter 3:7)

 

The final chapters of the letter talk about suffering. Peter wanted these Christians to know that suffering was going to happen. It happened to Jesus and it will happen to you and me. This world is not home for the people of God, and the world is broken and full of sin which is why there will always be persecution and suffering.

 

The overarching principle of this letter from Peter is that as Christians we will come against persecution and suffering. As that happens we are to respond in a way that is honoring to God, which is why we have been given Jesus as an example. 1 Peter is made up of 5 chapters so join us as we dive into Chapter 1 tomorrow! Have an awesome Thursday!

One Example of Biblical Maturity

Growing up I called myself a Christian. I did everything a “Christian” should do, the only problem was that I had no relationship with God. As I went through my college years and into the present time, I still feel like my relationship with God is at such a basic level. Just like any relationship, it takes time to truly get to know one another. I am finally working on that with God and as I do, I start to understand things that I didn’t have a clue on in my younger years. I imagine that in 50 years from now, I will look back and have a good laugh at what I thought I knew and the relationship I thought I had with God. Philemon is a short letter that is written by Paul and is a story about a guy named Onesimus. Let’s dive into this!

 

Philemon Chapter 1 is a story about forgiveness. I think we can all relate and think of a time where we did something before we knew Christ, only to be saved by grace through faith and now have to face the problem you created. Onesimus had to do that very thing in this story.

 

The letter starts off with Paul writing to someone named Philemon. We found out that Philemon was a guy that Paul shared the gospel with and it changed his life. Philemon went back to where he lived to tell others about the gospel and he grew to be a major part of the church. As the letter continues we find out that Philemon had a bondservant (slave/employee) named Onesimus. Onesimus did something to Philemon, the passage hints toward him stealing something because Paul offers to put Onesimus’s debt on his “tab.”

 

Onesimus, after stealing from Philemon, runs off to Rome to escape any kind of reprimand but guess what? He runs into a guy named Paul. Paul teaches him the gospel and he becomes a Christ Follower. Now the story could have ended right there. Paul could have used Onesimus to help him out with ministry in Rome, but check out what he does!

 

 

I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

 

 

Do you see the maturity in this passage? Paul is good friends with Philemon and as he got to know Onesimus he found out that he was one of Philemon’s bondservants. He could have just sent Philemon a letter and said, “ Hey man, I found your boy Onesimus. He heard the gospel and believed, now he’s my right-hand man so I’m going to need him here,” or Paul could have never said a word BUT he didn’t do either one of those. He chose to get his friend’s consent.

 

Have you ever done something behind someone’s back thinking they would never find out…. and they did? Paul is so mature in his faith that he wants to make things right with Philemon and Onesimus rather than selfishly keeping him for his own intentions. Even though his intentions were good.

 

 

I think the moral of the story is to think about the decisions you make and how they affect not only yourself but also others. Also be willing to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially if they didn’t know Christ at the time that they wronged you. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Stay True To Your Roots in God

Back in my younger years, so like 15 years ago, I just started to learn about Christianity. I still had so much to learn, and still do today, but I started my foundation then. I grew up in a family of strong believers; almost all of my aunts and uncles were missionaries at one point and know the word. I grew up getting to know the word from everyone around me. I wouldn’t say it totally stuck with me until I was mature enough to grasp it. Today’s reading is 2nd Timothy Chapter 3, let me tell you about that!

The first part of the chapter talks all about the coming of God. End times if you will. It again points out the signs that come before the coming of our lord and savior. Paul says that these are some of the signs in Verses 2-7.

 

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2nd Timothy 3:2-7)

I studied those words because each and everyone one of them looks very familiar to the world we live in today. This journal entry is not about end times but it is important to be aware what the bible says about what the signs are of the lord before he comes.

I want to focus on the second half of this chapter. It’s important to read and really understand what Paul is telling Timothy here in this letter.

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:10-17)

All of this is important writing but I really want you to focus on verses 14-16. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” We are talking about Timothy’s upbringing in the word of God and how his mother and grandmother taught him about Christ. “And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse is so important to understand. It is saying that Timothy was taught the scriptures (Bible) when he was younger and do you know what that does? Learning the scriptures not only makes you wise but it also shapes you into a better image of Christ, which is where WE CAME FROM.

If you can take anything from this chapter in 2nd Timothy, it is to get into the word of God and truly commit to learning the scriptures. I struggle with it myself and it will take discipline but it will be worth it in the end.  Have a great Thursday everyone and enjoy diving into the word!