Does the Resurrection Even Matter?

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”

Timothy Keller

What if Jesus just died and never rose from the grave? Would Christianity still be validated? Would our relationship with God change? Historical, factual texts show that there was a man named Jesus who lived and walked this earth around 30 AD. Obviously this man would have died by now… so does his resurrection really mean anything?

Continue reading Does the Resurrection Even Matter?

Running To Restoration, Not Away From Fear

“Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s just deciding that fear isn’t calling the shots anymore”

~ Bob Goff

From Carly,

Fear.

I realize it’s hard to talk about this topic since most people are afraid of being vulnerable. Maybe they’re afraid of saying something they shouldn’t, something that would make them look broken inside or just different.

Continue reading Running To Restoration, Not Away From Fear

How “Creed II” and Philippians 3:8 Connect

“He’s got nothing to lose! As a fighter, when you got nothing to lose you’re dangerous!”

~ Rocky Balboa, Creed 2

From Caleb,

I want to take a second not to answer a question, but rather to share something that has been on my heart recently. I hope this challenges you, spurs you on in your faith, and encourages you to share about the goodness of faith in Jesus Christ and make more disciples.

In the movie Creed II, Adonis Creed is the son of former fighter Apollo Creed, whom Ivan Drago killed in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago’s son, Victor Drago, comes to America from Russia to fight Adonis. This was such a big deal because Victor’s father had killed Apollo Creed in a fight years ago.

Rocky, former fighter and trainer to Adonis Creed, knew that in his young ambitious ways, Adonis will jump on the fight, even though Rocky knew it wasn’t the wisest decision. Rocky warned Adonis by reminding him that Victor had nothing to lose, and because of that he was a dangerous fighter. Adonis was angered by Rocky telling him this, because he implied that Adonis wasn’t a dangerous fighter. This scene in a way rocked me.

As followers of Christ we must identify ENTIRELY with Christ; He IS our identity.

It really got me thinking: it’s the same way with Christians and following Christ. Jesus called anyone who wanted to be a one of his followers to give away all that he had and follow him (Luke 18:22). We need to be ready to sacrifice everything we have because this life we live isn’t ours. As followers of Christ we must identify ENTIRELY with Christ; He IS our identity.

We Should Fear Nothing

Christ is our identity; when we allow that to fuel us, we will fear nothing. When he is our complete identity, we have all that we need and ever will need. Accepting this, cherishing this, and making this your identity is the exact thing Christ calls us to do. We are his, and just as Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

When we accept and live in this true identity as Christ followers, we are “dangerous” to the world around us, because then we will have nothing to lose; we have all that we need. Then, we will truly able to make an impact and be effective in evangelism. This is how Christ designed it to be; however, sometimes we get distracted and manipulated by the world into thinking that we have something to lose.

The world wants you to think that you have so much to lose: your family, your friends, your possessions, your money, your job, or even your life. God tells that all the world has to offer is worthless compared to knowing Christ and serving in his mission (Philippians 3:7-8). But again, the world wants to convince us otherwise. When we accept the truth that when we find our true identity in Christ we have nothing to lose, we are dangerous to the Kingdom of Darkness. But what happens when we start to believe we have something to lose?

What’s the result of thinking we have something to lose?

When Christians think they have something to lose, we end up losing sight of Christ’s mission. We lose our heart for lost people and for the mission of reaching the nations. To those around us we appear as just an ordinary Joe-shmoe; we lose the fire that obviously marks us as a follower of Christ.

To be dangerous for the Kingdom of God we must remember we have nothing to lose; this world has nothing to offer us. Stay focused, having eternity in mind, so that we can always be ready to share about the goodness of Christ.

How Trials Will Grow You

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 42:5

From Carly,

During the writing of Psalm 42, most believe it was the time of Absalom’s rebellion, and David, the potential author, was facing the consequences. David’s enemies persecuted him, spitting lies and forcing doubt into every area of David’s life.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to dehumanize the “heroes” of the Bible. I think they’re better than me. No temptations, no mistakes. The perfect example to live by.

I may be right about one thing. They’re a great example of how we should live. Though David lived many years devoted to the Lord, seeking and serving wholeheartedly, he also went though seasons of doubt, fatigue, grief, and sin.

The wonderful thing about tragedy is that what results from such mess, turns out to be the most beautiful story of healing and spiritual maturity. You’ve heard it before. The Lord puts us through trials to come out the other end changed. Of course, as Christians we know this, but no one is battling for the first spot in line to face impending tragedy and persecution. Tragedy doesn’t just come and go in a weekend, it usually doesn’t even stay for a week. When faced with such important trials, they can rule your entire life, wreck your worldview, causing doubt and fear to fester.

At the time, David was facing such oppression and desperation, that doubt began to win.

“My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?'”

Psalm 42:3

He was questioning whether the Lord was with him or not, whether he would come out of this situation sustained with the life-breathing hope and salvation he once had. I’m guessing we’ve all been in David’s position, or a similar circumstance, at one point in our lives. We always pay attention to the aftermath of such devastation, but what matters most to our God, is how we handle things during the oppression. 

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Psalm 42:1-2 

David thirsted, hungered, longed for the Lord. To be near Him, to be healed by His presence. This is how he dealt with his grief. Though times were tough and nothing made sense, he knew the only way to get out meant full reliance on the Lord. Nothing more, nothing less.

Doubt can creep up, fear can envelope our soul. It’s what we do during those times that matters the most. Do we solely seek the Lord in our suffering, or do we cower in our misery and surrender to the pain?

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

What tenacity it took to realize his soul’s depravity. To repeat the very words he proclaimed previously. He commanded himself to place his hope and trust in the Lord once again. He vowed to praise his Savior and God. What an example. If David wrote this, we catch a glimpse of how entirely human he really is, not the perfect biblical hero without fault. David was just like you and me, faced with inexplicable tragedy during his short life. If he can resolve to hope in the Lord, to destroy his once-doubtful soul, then we can too. In fact, I encourage you to hunger and thirst for Jesus as much in peaceful times as you do in turmoil. May not only the aftermath, but also the time of oppression be what grows you, what causes you to lean on Him. 

Sustain Us Lord!

“As it is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4

From Alex,

There is a lie that is accepted far and wide in the church. It is one that, if by the power of the Holy Spirit, were examined and despised, would lead to the changing of many lives for the good of the kingdom. I believed it, and you might too. I’m scared it is stunting our growth and making the Church incredibly vulnerable to temptation. It seems we’ve convinced ourselves we aren’t in need of armor anymore. We’ve given in to the lie that every Christian can sustain themselves spiritually through worship music, occasional prayer, and small group meetings… but not on the Word of God.

This is what distinguishes the true Follower of Christ from the Christian. The True Follower of Christ is constantly washing themselves in the truths of Scripture, and is in love with the Bible in all its awesomeness. There is a daily desire to get alone with God and chew on the promises He’s laid out for us. There is nothing like cracking open a perfect book full of truths and learning about the One who created all of the veins in your body, the streaks of cloud in the sky, and the mossy dirt beneath you. There is nothing like reading the exact words of God, which are able to bring unimaginable comfort to your troubled body (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

All of Scripture is infallible. It is without error and should be completely relied upon when making decisions about life and personal beliefs. It can be trusted and is sure to bring its reader closer to reality. The Bible is the true source of Joy and sustenance for the follower of Christ, and it is what we rely upon to grow and mature in our relationship with our Creator (2 Timothy 3:16). Think about how blessed we are to have such abundant access to it now! Not only do we have a large book filled with knowledge about the Author of Life, but for those who personally know Him as Lord, we have His Spirit living within us! How amazing is that! How contrasted that is to the situation of those living in Old Testament times, who had neither (Except maybe a copy of the Law, the first few books in the Bible)! I pray the Lord would turn our hearts in submission to Him in this way. That we would be so in love with Him, the same way a newlywed couple can’t get enough of each other, that no one would have to remind us to read our Bibles! That we would do it because the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God lives in. Our. Bodies.  

Because we want to!

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 1:1-3