Time’s almost up.

“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,”

~ Job 14:5

From Caleb,
        I have been very burdened lately.
        Not with work or school starting up, but with this simple fact: this year is my last year in high school, ever.
        For the last three years, my high school has been my daily mission field, but in just about 9 months it will cease to be. I have been continually burdened my that fact. Leaving a mission field and knowing that I will never have the same daily interactions with the people I am with right now.
        I so desperately want to see all my classmates come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. So many times I question myself saying, “Have I done enough? Have I said all I could say?”.
        This is something that spurs me on to take advantage of every single opportunity that the Lord gives me to speak the words of God to someone I come in contact with. With that being said, I understand that not everyone will be  receptive to what I say, that’s just the reality of it all, but one thing it doesn’t change is my character or how I love them. Those two things are paramount. It is all about planting that seed, the more times a person hears the truth of Jesus and the Gospel, it is one step closer to them actually receiving Christ!
        No matter how much I want to make sure that I always “get it right” during my last year on my given mission field, I know I will fail. Duh, I’m human; however, I will always do my best to remain intentional with what I am doing, I hope you do the same!
        That’s my challenge to you! I don’t care if you’re a junior, sophomore, freshman, or even still in middle school; realize that time flies by so you need to take advantage of every single opportunity the Lord puts before you! Time’s almost up. Use what the Lord has graciously given to you all to his glory.

Seeking Today’s Praise Instead of Eternity on the Summit

“He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.'”

Luke 16:15

From Carly,

These past couple of weeks the Lord has really been showing me how prideful I am.

I know what you’re thinking. This sounds like a rough way to start a blog post. I know. But I promise it gets better. In fact, that’s exactly what the Lord has been teaching me. His grace has already made it all better!

I never even knew I had pride, but He started to reveal how tightly I was holding onto it, so tightly that I never knew it was there.

He gently affirmed my wandering thoughts, and showed me how most of my days are spent seeking approval from others around me. I have to be the best student, athlete, friend, christian, etc. I have to do anything and everything to get the largest, most distinguished award there is, and then tomorrow I need to accomplish an even greater achievement.

“for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” John 12:43

My need for a successful, outward reputation is consuming my identity as a whole.

The Lord graciously showed me that I was living for the praise of the world, but He is standing right here, arms wide open, ready and willing to accept my flaws and my accomplishments. Just as I am.

I don’t have to get the best grades in school, get into the best college or grad school. I don’t need to receive every award and scholarship there is to offer. What’s amazing is that He’s enough, and He sees me as enough for Him. Nothing I can do would ever get me into Heaven. It’s by His incredible grace and the sacrifice of His one and only Son that allows me to live with Him forever. You see, this is not our home. Heaven is my home, so why do I keep trying to be accepted and praised here?

The featured image for this post is a picture taken on the summit of Mount Shasta in Northern California. A week ago, as I was climbing to the summit of this massive 14,179 foot mountain, the Lord impressed something on my heart that I will never forget.

He told me to think about this mountain as my life. We start out at the bottom and slowly climb to the top. In the middle, you may encounter some problems or trials, ones that require an extra reliance on Him, an extra boost of energy or stamina to continue ahead. It only gets tougher, but once you get to the top, not only are you closer to Him, but you also learned a few lessons on the way up too.

If you can see it in the picture, there should be tiny mountains just underneath the clouds to the left. Those mountains look small from here, but when you were down there in the valley, they seemed like massive, unconquerable giants. Now that we’ve reached the top, they look like little bunny hills that you can easily cover up with your thumb. This is exactly what our life is like. The problems and trials we had during our life seem incomparably unimportant to actually reaching the top or end of our journey.

Once we make it to Heaven, I can guarantee that our Heavenly Father is not going to ask us whether we made the dean’s list or achieved the eagle scout award. He’s going to meet us face to face as we talk about our relationship with Him and how we passionately shared that with others.

The praises you and I seek today, the miniature mountains in the distance, won’t matter once we’re on the summit, standing next to Jesus.

Trust me as I walk through this in my own life. I know it’s difficult to give up the pride of success and the desire to receive earthly praise, but the rewards in Heaven will be so much greater than we could ever imagine!

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

1 John 2:15-17

The Joy in Obedience

“Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

~ Deuteronomy 5:33

From Caleb, I want to take the time to recount to y’all the goodness of the Lord, so that you may be encouraged to know that the Lord is working and moving in the lives around. He is present. It is my great hope that you would be encouraged by the things I am getting ready to tell you.

So… with that pre-statement out of the way, let’s dive in.

I am a senior in high school and with summer moving quicker every single day, (I know… it’s hard to say, but true) I have started to think about what I am going to once I leave high school.

There had been multiple options presented before me; I accepted one of them as the “plan”, and that was engineering. But, at the same time, the Lord kept putting this thought in my heart that there was something different set apart for me other than engineering. That thought kept reoccurring for 9 months until this passed week.

It came to a point where I could no longer ignore that feeling that I had about my future education. It was after a certain point this week that I gave that I stopped holding back and said “Lord, take my life and do as you please.” It was just another level of surrender.

The part that I really want for y’all to hear and process is what happened next.

God flooded my heart with such extreme joy following my decision to sacrifice it all. You see, God has designed everything so wonderfully. The verse above shows that the Lord has commanded us to walk in obedience and to the things he has commanded us, but there is something so much more to it than simply obeying. God doesn’t just tell us to walk in obedience, but rather he gives us a why. The answer is that it’s for our own good.

Being obedient to the commands of the Lord brings fullness of joy into our lives, and Christ has made it so for great reason.

If we simply say to the Lord that he has our full trust, yet we are holding back areas of our life from him, then we are not being truthful with ourselves. You can’t say that you’re giving your all to the Lord and being completely obedient while withholding aspect of your life from the Lord. There must be a response to his commandments to demonstrate your trust.

God offers true joy through obeying his calling and commandments. Friends, please don’t miss that! I want you to realize that the fullness of joy lies in following God’s commandments and callings on your life! Pursue the fullness in his joy!

Take some time to think about these questions. Are you being 100% obedient to the Lord? What are areas of your life that you’re holding back from God? What can you do to give those areas over to the Lord?

With grace and peace, through Christ Jesus,

Caleb Eckerd

Taking Charge

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

From Carly,

After being in the Word and studying the past couple of weeks, the Lord has convicted me of something: I’m the one that keeps trying to take charge.

I’m too busy trying (with my own strength) to hear the voice of God, instead of just being in His wonderful presence.

Most mornings, as I start reading, I find myself searching for the next thing the Lord is supposed to “reveal” to me. I’m constantly looking for something that I make up, which is definitely not from the Lord. In fact, it’s more like putting words in His mouth.

Proverbs 3:5-6 sums up exactly what I needed to hear: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Why would I lean on my own understanding? As if the wisdom and plan of the Creator of the world is not good enough.

God is constantly working in and through our lives and the lives of the people around us. Why would we want to take control and second-guess His method of reaching us? Letting go of pride and letting Him work is so much easier than relying on my own, human understanding.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

This is the real problem: we are so transfixed on our strength and ability, or rather inability, that we lose sight of the only One who can actually overcome all struggles. We are weak. We need saving, and it’s difficult to admit that we need His amazing grace to save us. The good thing is, like this verse says, as we let go of our pridefulness and accept our human weakness, the Lord is actually glorified. He didn’t create us to help Him or do His job. He would be perfectly fine without us, but His desire is to be with us and rescue us, knowing full well that He is the only one who can.

Whether you find yourself taking charge in your own life, or feeling anxious about what’s yet to come. Here are 3 simple things that He has made effortless for us because of His love shown on the Cross to offer us grace beyond all measure:  1) Accepting His grace, 2) Resting in His truly reliable presence, and 3) Fully trusting in Him for everything, in any situation.

I’m going to be completely straight with you: You’re not going to fix it all. You’re just not. This is why the the Lord sent His son to die on a rugged cross, defeating sin and death, to offer us all amazing grace, and to purchase a place in Heaven for us. So wherever you are right now in your walk with Jesus and in your walk of life, don’t try to take charge of it all. Like I said, you can’t. What you can do is follow this verse from Psalm 46:10:

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.'”

It seems fairly challenging, but I often forget the simplicity of this beautiful command: Let go and let God. 

It’s as simple as that. He’s here. He’s the One to take care of you, to take the reigns and guide you through life. To take charge. You need only to be still.

 

 

A Week’s Reflection on Strength

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”

~ Romans 12:2

From Caleb,

Last week was been a week packed full of everything. Every kind of conversation you could imagine.

Last week, Ben and I attended the American Legion’s Boys State of Virginia. At the event, 700 teen leaders from high schools across the Commonwealth of Virginia assemble then establish, and run, a model government for one week. The people that come to the program come from every walk of life, background, family style, and economic level; with that in mind, the views and perspectives of every person there are different to a certain degree whether it’s on religion, politics, or whatever topic you pick.

One of the positions that is available at Boys State is the position of Chaplain; I gladly volunteered for the position. Being the chaplain for my group at the event was awesome. I got to pray everyday for the people I was grouped with, and I even got the opportunity to speak in front of all 700 guys on two different days. The week was packed full of opportunities for Ben and I to share our faith, and we gladly accepted.

I received just about every single question you can imagine about Christianity, evolution, religion,  morality, and politics that you could possibly imagine. Some people just wanted a single answer but other people continually pressed you on what you believed; they were testing you to know just exactly how much you knew about your given position. I’ll be honest. Sometimes, people asked really good questions that required me to stop and think for a second.

Contrary to what one might assume, I faced more opposition to me sharing my faith from the head Chaplain (he was an adult “counselor” for the week) than the actually people attending the event. Shocker. Right?

The head chaplain was extremely “anti-Jesus”, even though he claimed to be a Christian. He told Ben and I that we were “Radical Christians”, and that people like us are what’s wrong with America. When I gave my talk about David and Goliath, he told me it sounded “far too Jesus-y”. This was just one example of something he said to us, but… Just so we’re clear… There were NUMEROUS other things that were said to us throughout the course of the week.

Despite all the different attempts that were made by the head chaplain and other boys attending the event, Ben and I never wavered in our faith, and we never allowed for our message and beliefs to be changed by our set of circumstances we found ourselves in. There were times that were honestly hard; there were times when it was extremely difficult to give answer with a reply that was filled with peace.

BUT. We did.

This is my encouragement to you. Stand firm. Don’t let those around you control your walk with Jesus; live according to the truth every single say no matter the circumstances, and remember that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (James 1).