Posts Tagged ‘challenging’

A New Year {Encouragement for Young Men}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys, Teen Guys

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

2014. A brand new year. Among all the festivities of the past few weeks, I’m sure you took a few minutes to jot down a few New Year’s goals (don’t worry if you didn’t; I’m not judging). Perhaps you reviewed 2013 and all that happened. Or didn’t. Either way, what I’m about to say applies to all of us, goal makers and non-goal makers alike.

As I looked back over my 2013, one thing kept popping up in my face: All the times I failed (it’s not the happiest thought, I know). Failed to be on time, failed to keep my cool, failed to follow through on something, failed to focus on what I needed to be focusing on. Ouch. It hurt. I was feeling a little overwhelmed at trying to do better in 2014, and then I received an email from a friend.

Let me back up here. A few weeks before, someone had begun a “Bible verse email.” Basically this is where someone’s name goes on an email, it’s sent around to 20 people, and those 20 people send a Bible verse to the person named (also known as a “chain letter”). My name eventually ended up on the list and this person was sending me my verse. Except she sent the wrong verse. I did get the right text, but it had the wrong reference with it. She quoted it as coming from I John 1:9 when it was supposed to be referenced as Joshua 1:9. Being one of those people with an insatiable curiosity, I had to look up 1 John 1:9… And that’s where I felt as if I’d received a smack right in the face.

I had been so worried about wondering how not to fail in 2014, that I forgot about what Christ has done. He’s paid for our failures! And, like I John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s time to confess our failure, and to begin again. Learn from your failures of last year, then forget them. Live each day this year intentionally. Realize that choices have consequences, whether good or bad, and only you can choose whether to do the right thing or not. And most importantly, don’t view 2014 as a daunting year, but instead as a fresh start. Acknowledge what Christ has done, confess your failures, and look at 2014 as a clean slate, ready to be written on.

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G. K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton’s quote is brilliant picture. What are some fresh ways we can approach 2014?

What are some things you’d like to change this year in your life?

What are some of your goals for this year?

 

One Word {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Encouragement, Teen Girls

One word. The thought baffles me.

Verbosity is my weakness.

I heard the challenge on the radio a couple of days ago. Instead of writing out a list of goals and achievements; resolutions for the year, to choose one word.

One word to hold onto. One word to inspire. One word. Only one.

So I started thinking. I can do this, right? Just one word, pshaw–that should be easy…right?

Ahem. Until you start trying to narrow it down.

Words filled my mind.

Beloved?

Surrender?

Faith?

Purpose?

Trust?

Open?

All beautiful words…but they felt redundant to me. Sure, I could use them. But they didn’t feel right. So I prayed about it, and kept thinking and searching. Then I saw it:

A beautiful word. So simple. Mundane, boring even. But the thoughts that filled my mind when I read it whispered, “This is it.”

Walk

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8

To place one foot in front of the other.
To get somewhere.
Swift or slow, to progress.
Steady or shaking, intrepid or heart breaking.
To hold His hand and follow Him.
To take each step. With Him.

 

“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
~Genesis 5:24

“I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”
~Leviticus 26:12

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
~Deuteronomy 6:7

“When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness;”
~Job 29:3

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
~Psalm 23:4

“For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.”
~Psalm 26:3

“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”
~Psalm 86:11

“for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
~Ephesians 5:8

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”
~Colossians 2:6

“so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
~1 Thessalonians 2:12

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
~1 John 1:7

“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
~1 John 2:6

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;”
~Revelation 21:23-25
What do you think of this challenge–one word for the year?
What would be a word that you would choose?

The Angel’s Message ~Part One~ {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Christmas, Teen Girls

Her hands were sweaty.  She could feel her stomach quivering, her heart racing, as she knelt before the shining being before her. Favor with God?  A baby?  The Son of God?  God, as a baby–in my womb?

The thought thrilled and terrified her all at the same time.  “The Lord is with you.”

Then, like a punch in the stomach, her thoughts came back to earth, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  Surely the angel must have made a mistake.  She could not have a child.  She was not married!  She sighed.  It had been a beautiful thought, it would have been nice if it were true.

But the angel’s face did not cloud in confusion.  He did not turn away from her.  No, instead, his face seemed to beam brighter.  A full smile lit across his face as though he was expecting the question.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of GodFor nothing will be impossible with God.”

Goosebumps ran up her neck.  The hair on her arms stood straight up.  Her legs felt weak.

The sign!  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

God with us.

God with us.

God with us.

The God of Noah, that in His righteous anger, covered the entire earth with water, destroying all life but that in the tiny rescue ship.

The God of Moses, that, struck the Egyptians with plagues, delivered the children of Israel with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.

The God of Elijah, throwing fire down from heaven, consuming the offering before the prophets of Baal.

The God of the mighty warrior David.

The God that delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flames.

The God that held the lions mouths shut for Daniel.

The God that gave Esther, the beautiful Persian queen, the courage to save her people, and protected her from harm.

That God.  That God of judgment.  That God of power.  Strength.  Majesty.  Mercy.  Kindness.

With us.

In her womb.

She put her hands to her stomach, her mind racing.  Me?  I am the virgin?  Me?  My son, God?  The Messiah?

God is come to save us!

Jesus.  That was the name the angel said to call Him.  Jesus.  Her Son’s name.  A smile touched her lips. It was so sweet on her tongue.

A flash filled her sight.  A vision knocked her.  Blood running down.  Cold stone.  Violent quaking.  The smell of fear.  Sweat.  Blood.  The sounds of anger.  Yelling, screaming, “Harlot!  Adulteress!”  And blackness.  Death.  The ache filled her chest and escalated into a raging fire.  Anxiety ravaged her body.

What about Joseph, her betrothed?  When he discovers that she is with child, will he believe her that the Child is God?  That she is with child by the Holy Spirit?  Her throat burned.  Or would he order her to be stoned for adultery?

Immanuel.  God with us.  God with her. She was called Favored One… He would protect her.  He was always faithful.  Just like He was with Noah.  With Moses.  With David.  He was with her.

Her voice quivered, felt small,

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

The angel was gone.

The Power to Not Turn the Other Cheek {Encouragement for Young Men}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys, Teen Guys

Somebody shared an interesting thought with me the other day. When we think of turning the other cheek, we, as young guys find that hard to accept. We think of it as weakness, and want to fight back. That’s just a passion within us that makes sense. But what if turning the other cheek shows more strength than it does weakness? What if it’s not as meaningful if the person who turns the other cheek IS weak?

Think about it. If a person doesn’t fight someone because they physically aren’t strong enough, is that any big deal? No, they don’t really have a choice. There’s no respect there. Picture however a tough, strong guy who is able to fight back, and someone slaps him on the cheek. Now he is able to fight back and could probably win against the jerk who is picking a fight. But instead he chooses not to. That demands more respect. That’s meaningful. He’s strong enough to fight back and win, and yet, he still chooses to hold himself back.

This is the very example Jesus gives us. When the soldiers were taking Him away to be crucified, we notice a couple things right off the bat. First of all, Jesus tells His disciples to go buy a sword. Don’t believe me? Look it up! (Luke 22:36) Why then a few hours later does He admonish Peter to put the sword back in his sheath when he cuts off Malchus’s ear? (John 18:10-11) The disciples ask Jesus if they should smite (Luke 22:49) with one of the two swords He told them was enough (Luke 22:38) and when Peter in an impassioned frenzy goes for the closest guy’s head (who ducks left, so that Peter accidentally lops off his right ear), Jesus tells him to put his sword back in his place, for all who take the sword will perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52). Then, to add incense to injury, Jesus touches the guy’s ear, and heals it! (Luke 22:51) Why wouldn’t Jesus let His disciples, who had a small ability to defend Him with their two swords use it? It was partially for their own safety (John 18:8-9), but there was also a deeper reason. He chose not to defend Himself. Look what He tells Peter after telling him to put away his sword: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) He then turns to the soldiers and upbraids them for their cowardice but says it must be this way to fulfill the scriptures (Mark 14:48-49). Jesus was communicating that if He wanted to, He could stop what was happening. We know He had power because when all He did was say “I am after the soldiers said they were looking for Jesus, they all fell backwards (John 18:4-6). He could have stopped them if He wanted to. He had the ability to defend Himself. What we see here is that nobody took His life from Him…He laid it down willingly (John 10:18). I’m glad for that. It means the Jesus I serve isn’t the weak, sissified Jesus some would make Him out to be. He is strong and mighty and powerful. So strong that He was able to lay down His life to save us.

So when you see the command to turn the other cheek, know that it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to keep yourself weak and not get strong enough to defend righteousness, your family, the weak, the underprivileged and helpless. It’s not a command for the weak. It takes strength to do what Jesus did and not hot headedly defend your own pride. It means so much more when you willingly turn the other cheek when you have the ability not to.

 

How does this change the way that you think about Jesus and His life on earth?

How can you apply this concept in your own life?  

Have you ever found yourself going between the two extremes of hotheadedness and irresponsibility?

What are ways that you can strengthen yourself, spiritually and physically?

Can you think of a time in which you showed greater strength in holding back rather than exacting vengeance?

Plant that Seedling TODAY! {Encouragement for Moms}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Moms

When we moved into our home, almost thirteen years ago, the landscaping was slight to say the least. Our neighbor across the street had planted an oak tree in honor of their son who was born a year prior. As I glanced across the way and saw the fledgling little tree, the thought occurred to me that we should plant a tree in our vacant front yard. After all, I love trees. As I child, I spent long hours climbing trees and lingering in their limbs daydreaming and enjoying the glorious outdoors. But, I never got around to it. No one would be able to climb in it for years and the thought was just too depressing. I wanted a big climbing tree NOW!
Over a decade later, our neighbors have a beautiful oak tree offering shade and lofty limbs to climb. Our house, however, still has just grass. What a missed opportunity! As it turns out, we moved into a home surrounded by climbing trees, but we don’t always get that second chance, especially when it comes to growing mature Christ followers.

As parents, we desire to impress the Word on our children. We see the value of developing character and appreciate grown children who were trained, equipped and strengthened spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually. They make great company! We want that product, but do we have the patience to plant the seed, water it, tend to it, prune it, etc. until it is fully mature? Life gets in the way. We put off the training, discussing and reading of the Word for another day. Before you know it, time has slipped away and despairingly we reaped what we sowed. Don’t delay! Don’t let the business of life prevent you from having meaningful conversations with your children about faith matters. Take the time and invest the energy today! Someday, when you are resting in the arms of that fully mature child, you can relish the children and grandchildren as they call you blessed!

“She shall rejoice in time to come….Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also, and he praises her.” (Proverbs 31:25b , Proverbs 31:28)

What have you been putting off doing with your children to develop them spiritually?
What can you commit to doing consistently to nurture the growth of your child’s faith?
When will you start, what time? Tell someone else about your plan and ask them to hold you accountable. Don’t wait another day! Every day is a day of potential growth!

Get in Touch

694 Hammock Rd.
Melbourne, FL 32904

321.223.1163 jc@homesdevoted.com