Saturday, April 29, 2023

A New Birth Into A Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-5 (CSB)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage and strengthen the persecuted believers in Asia Minor. In verses 1 and 2, Peter reminded them that they are God’s chosen people because of the Father’s plan, the Spirit’s transforming work, and the Son’s faithful obedience. 

In this passage, Peter celebrated the new birth that disciples of Jesus experience through faith in Christ, which provided them a living hope and an imperishable inheritance.

Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," which expressed his profound gratitude and worship for God's character and work. Peter recognized that God's gracious mercy is the source of all spiritual blessings and the foundation of salvation. God's mercy is not based on human merit or worthiness but flows from His infinite love and grace. Through His mercy, God has given us new birth that brings us from death to life and makes us children of God (John 1:12-13).

This new birth is not a result of our own efforts or achievements but is a gift of God's grace that is given to us through the faithfulness of Jesus and our trust in him. Peter emphasized that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate proof and guarantee that this new birth is a reality and that God’s people now have a living hope. 

Jesus' resurrection validated his claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Through his resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death which saved us from the consequences of sin and secured eternal life for his faithful followers. As Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). But because Christ has been raised, our faith is alive, vibrant, and victorious.

Peter also highlighted the nature and quality of the inheritance that all of God’s people receive through this new birth. The inheritance we have is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. It is imperishable because it is not subject to decay, corruption, or death. It is eternal, incorruptible, and indestructible. It is undefiled because it is pure, holy, and perfect. It is untainted by sin, evil, or imperfection. It is unfading because it never loses its value, beauty, or glory. It is the perfect gift that God wants His people to have.

This inheritance is not something we earn or deserve but it is a gracious gift God gives to his people. It is not a temporary or earthly possession but an eternal and heavenly treasure. It is not a vague or abstract concept but a concrete and personal reality. It is something that is grander and more wonderful than we can imagine. It is not something we keep but something that keeps us. It is not something we can lose but something that is guarded by God's promise and power.

Peter also reassured the believers that their inheritance is secure and guarded by God's power through faith. The phrase "you are being guarded" implies ongoing and active protection by God's power. The verb tense suggests that this guarding is not a one-time event but a continuous process. God's power is not limited but it is eternal. His power is not arbitrary or random but is directed by His wisdom and love. God’s power is not passive or indifferent but is active and engaged.

This guarding is also through faith, which implies that Christians have a role to play in our spiritual security. Faith is not a passive or static belief but an active and dynamic trust in God's promises and character. Faith is not a blind or irrational leap but a reasonable and informed response to God's revelation. Faith is not a private or isolated experience but a communal and relational reality. Faith is not a temporary or fluctuating emotion but a persistent and persevering conviction.

Peter concluded this passage by reminding the believers that their salvation is not fully revealed yet, but it is ready to be revealed in the last time. This means that our inheritance is not fully realized yet, we have a glimpse of it, but it will be fully revealed when Jesus returns and makes everything right. Until then, believers must live in hope, faith, and obedience, knowing that their ultimate destiny is secure and glorious.

This passage is teaches that our hope and our salvation is all a work of God. It highlights the depth and breadth of God's mercy, the power and significance of Christ's resurrection, and the greatness and certainty of our inheritance. 

This passage also challenges us to live in a way that reflects the reality and hope of our new birth and inheritance. As Peter wrote later in his epistle, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). When we live out our hope we make Jesus real in the world.

As Christians, we have been born again into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance. We are guarded by God's power through faith as we wait for our salvation to be fully revealed. We need to live as children of God, shining the light of Christ in a dark world, and eagerly awaiting the day when we will see Him face to face and inherit all that He has promised.

Friday, April 28, 2023

God’s Power to Transform

Transformation is a popular thing to talk about in our culture. Everywhere we turn, from fitness to self-improvement, people seem to be obsessed with the idea of change. While change can certainly be positive, true transformation is something that cannot be achieved by human effort alone.

Transformation is a key theme in the New Testament, and it provides insight into what it means to experience true change. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" This verse highlights the transformation that is to happen in the life of a disciple of Jesus. It is only through God that we can become a new creation, leaving behind our old ways and embracing a new life Jesus secured for us through his death and resurrection.

Many people try to change themselves through sheer willpower or by following a self-help program. While these things can be helpful, they cannot bring about true transformation. Without the initiative and action of God, we will not be able to become the people God created us to be. We may make temporary changes, but we will not be able to overcome the flesh that controls our lives.

The Apostle Paul understood this truth. In Romans 7:18-19 he wrote, "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." Paul recognized that he was powerless to change on his own. He needed the transformative power of God to break free from his flesh.

Part of the Gospel message is that God is able to transform us. He is in the business of changing the lives of people. In Philippians 1:6, Paul wrote, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." God won’t abandon us halfway through the transformation process. We can be confident that He will see it through until the end.

The transformation that God brings about in our lives is not just external, but it is also internal. In fact, the transformation we need is a transformation of our hearts, our minds, and our souls. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He changes our desires and gives us a new purpose. He also helps us to see ourselves and other people in a new light. The transformation that God brings about is a transformation of the entire person.

There are many benefits to experiencing true transformation through God. For one, we become better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws our way. We are less likely to be shaken by difficult circumstances because we have a firm foundation in Christ. We are also able to experience a greater sense of peace and joy because we are no longer weighed down by the burdens of our past.

Another benefit of experiencing true transformation is that we become better equipped to serve others. As we become more like Jesus, we begin to see the world, and others, through His eyes. We become more compassionate, more understanding, and more willing to help those in need. Our relationships with people are strengthened, and we are better able to make a positive impact on those closest to us.

How can we experience transformation in our lives? 

The first step is to acknowledge our need for God. In the Beatitudes Jesus taught that we need to be “poor in spirit.” One of the things this implies is that we must recognize that we are powerless to change on our own and that we need God’s help to become a new creation. Once we have acknowledged our need for God, we can turn to Him and ask Him to work in our lives.

This starts with prayer. We are to confess our sins to God and declare our loyalty to Jesus. We pray and ask God to reveal areas in our lives that need to be transformed. We ask Him to give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses and to help us grow in our relationship with Him. We also pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance.

All of us have those moments of clarity when we realize that our lives are not what they should be. We have attitudes, beliefs, and actions that need to be changed, but often we feel powerless to do anything about it. One of the promises of Christianity is that we can become new people. The only way that will happen is if we surrender our lives to God and allow Him to transform our lives.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Parenting Matters

Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of life. From the moment a child is born, parents are faced with the responsibility of raising them to become responsible, compassionate, and productive members of society. Christian parents also have the added responsibility of raising their children to be faithful disciples of Jesus. 

While parenting may seem overwhelming at times, it is a critical part of our lives that has a profound impact on the future of our families, churches, and communities. As stressful as parenting can be, it is important that we remember why we do it.

Children are a gift and a responsibility from God

Children are a precious gift from God, and they come into our lives as a result of His plan and design. Because of this we know that each child is unique and has his or her own God-given purpose and potential. As parents, it is our responsibility to nurture and guide our children, helping them to grow and develop in all areas of life.

Since children come from God, we need to remember that He is entrusting them into our care. They are not a burden or inconvenience, but a blessing to be cherished and celebrated. Psalm 127:3-5 says that children like arrows in the hand of a warrior, meaning that parenting children is one way that God will increase His influence in the world. Just as an archer takes careful aim and shoots an arrow towards its target, parents must aim to raise their children in a way that honors God and helps them fulfill their potential.

Raising children is a significant responsibility, and it requires a great deal of effort, sacrifice, and commitment. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to "train up a child in the way he should go," indicating that we must be intentional and deliberate in our approach to parenting. This involves teaching our children about God and His ways, modeling a life of faith and obedience, and providing them with the guidance and support they need to navigate the challenges of life.

As parents, we have a profound influence on the spiritual development of our children. We are called to be their primary disciplers, helping them to know and love God, and showing them what it means to follow Jesus. Our decisions about how we raise our children have eternal consequences, and we must take this responsibility seriously.

Parenting is filled with challenges and opportunities

One of the biggest challenges of parenting in today's world is managing the impact of technology on our children's lives. Social media, video games, and other forms of technology can be both a blessing and a curse. While they provide entertainment and educational opportunities, they can also be addictive and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Even worse, as studies seem to suggest, the role technology has the the social, emotional, and even spiritual development of children is huge. As parents, we must be vigilant in setting limits and boundaries around technology use, and provide our children with good alternatives for entertainment and social interaction.

Another challenge of parenting in today's world is helping our children navigate the complexities of relationships and social dynamics. Peer pressure, bullying, and social isolation are all too common in our society, and they can have a profound impact on our children's emotional and mental health. As parents, we must be attuned to our children's emotional needs and provide them with the guidance and support they need to navigate these challenges.

A third challenge, especially for Christian parents, is teaching children what it means to follow Jesus in a culture that does not accept the values, beliefs, and commitments of God’s Kingdom. Teaching them how to love people even when you don’t agree with them or approve of what they do. Teaching them how to communicate truth, but in a way that is gracious and loving.

Despite these challenges, parenting also presents many opportunities. As parents, we have the opportunity to shape the lives of our children and help them become the best versions of themselves. We can provide them with a strong foundation of faith and values, teach them important life skills, and encourage them to pursue their passions and talents. We can also model healthy behaviors and attitudes, showing them what it means to live a life faithfully following Jesus.

Parenting is crucial for the future of society and the church

Since our children are the future of both our society and the church, it is important that we are intentional in how we raise them. Children who are raised with strong values and a sense of purpose are more likely to become responsible and compassionate adults who make positive contributions to society. By raising children who are committed to serving others and making the world a better place, we can help them see that they can make a difference in the world.

At the same time, parenting is also crucial for the future of the church. As Christian parents, we have a unique opportunity to pass on our faith to the next generation. This means not only teaching our children about the Bible and the doctrines of the faith, but also modeling a life of love, truth, humility, and service.

By living out our faith in front of our children, we help them develop a deep and lasting relationship with God that will sustain them throughout their lives.

In addition, parents have a responsibility to equip their children to be effective witnesses for Jesus in the world. This requires us to be intentional in teaching them so they can have the skills and knowledge they need to share their faith with others in a winsome and persuasive way. By raising up a generation of young people who are passionate about living the Gospel, is one way we are completing the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

Parenting is one of the most important responsibilities we have as adults. It is a calling from God that requires us to be intentional, patient, and prayerful as we seek to raise our children to become the men and women God created them to be. As we fulfill this calling, we can trust that God will be with us every step of the way, guiding and empowering us to be the parents our children need us to be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

EDC Wednesday: Choosing an EDC Knife

For me, a good EDC begins with a knife. 

Why do I think that?

For starters, it can be a useful tool for everyday tasks like opening boxes, cutting rope or string, and even preparing food (which is what I use my knife for 90% of the time). It can also be a crucial tool in emergency situations like car accidents, camping trips, or other outdoor activities.

In addition to its practical uses, an EDC knife can also provide a sense of security and preparedness. Knowing that you have a reliable tool (which is same basic tool humans have been carrying for centuries) with you can give you peace of mind in potentially dangerous or unpredictable situations.

When selecting a good EDC knife, there are a few important factors to consider. 

First, because a knife is a tool the blade is the most important part of any knife. This means blade steel is an important thing to consider. Stainless steel and carbon steel are both durable options, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion, while carbon steel tends to hold a sharper edge for longer. In these two board categories there are different steels that range in price, hardness, and edge retention.

The shape of the blade will also depend on what you plan to use the knife for. A drop point or clip point blade may be better for everyday tasks, while a tanto or serrated blade may be more useful in emergencies. There are also the sheepsfoot that provides a good work blade that is non-threatening because it lacks is point.

The handle is another important factor to consider. G10 and Micarta are both lightweight, durable materials that provide a good grip, but other materials like wood, reinforced nylon, or carbon fiber may also be suitable depending on personal preference.

When it comes to size, a knife that is between 2.5 and 4 inches in length is generally a good choice for an EDC knife. Anything larger may be uncomfortable to carry, while anything smaller may not be as useful in a variety of situations. I think the sweet spot for a good EDC knife is 3 inches long. A 3 inch blade is long enough to do most tasks, but it is also small enough to be legal in most areas .

With folding knives you also have to consider locking mechanism. Most traditional pocket knives are slip joints with no locking mechanism. There are lock backs that have a button on the back to push to release the lock. A frame lock using part of the frame of the knife to snap into place locking the blade and a liner lock, which is the same idea but uses the liner inside the frame rather than the frame itself. There are a number of number with other locking mechanism, the cool one right now is the button lock, that helps the blade to stay in place and not fold onto your fingers.

Not only do you want the knife to lock in place when you are using it, there is also the opening mechanism to consider. There is the traditional nail nick which is found on many old pocket knives but also required two hands to open. Most folding knives today are able to be opened one handed. There are thumb studs, flipper tabs, blade holes, and spring assisted opening.
Lastly, a pocket clip can be a useful feature on an EDC knife, allowing you to clip the knife onto your pocket or waistband for easy access.

In terms of quality, it's important to choose a knife from a reputable manufacturer that has a good reputation for producing high-quality knives. A good knife may be more expensive, but it will be worth the investment in the long run.

Some examples of popular EDC knives include the Spyderco Delica, the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, CRKT Pilar, Civivi Elementum, Ontario Rat 1, and Kizer Dukes. These knives all have durable blades, comfortable handles, and pocket clips for easy carry.

There are a lot of things to consider when making the choice about an EDC knife. My suggestion is to do two things. First, watch some review videos. There are many different knife review channels, and so you can find reviews, most of the time more than one review, on any knife that you are considering. Second, buy “budget” and learn what you like in a knife. Most “budget” knife companies offer good quality, so by buying a cheaper knife you are able get an idea of  what you would use a knife for and what features you would like in a knife.

Carrying an EDC knife can provide a sense of security and preparedness in a variety of situations. When selecting a good EDC knife, consider the blade material, shape, and length, as well as the handle material, size, locking mechanism, and pocket clip. Remember to choose a knife from a reputable manufacturer with a good reputation for producing high-quality knives. With the right knife, you'll be ready to handle whatever life throws your way.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Live As One Who Is Wise


One characteristic that sets successful people apart from those who have limited success is how they use time. 

Successful people have the ability to make the most of the time they have been given, viewing it as a valuable resource that needs to be used wisely. 

On the other hand, people who have limited success tend to see time as a limitless resource and, therefore, undervalue it. Their mantra is often, "There is always tomorrow."

I have come to the conviction that many of us need to change the way we view time. Time is a valuable resource that God has given us, and just as we are called to be good stewards of our money, we need to be good stewards of our time.

The apostle Paul addressed the issue of time in Ephesians 5:

"Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16; CSB)

We are called to be wise in our use of time.

But what does it mean to be wise in our use of time? 

To be wise in our use of time we need to be INTENTIONAL. This requires us to be deliberate about the activities we choose to do, ensuring that we use the time given to us in a way that honors God and allows us to make the most of our lives. We can't afford to let time slip away without purpose or direction.

To be wise in our use of time we need to be PRODUCTIVE. This requires us to use our time in a way that is constructive and beneficial. This does not mean that we need to be working all the time. Rest and relaxation are crucial elements of being wise with our time, that is one of the reasons God gave His people the Sabbath. Even during our downtime, we can use our time in a way that is productive, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby that brings us joy, or worshipping God.

To be wise in our use of time we need to be MINDFUL. This requires that we are aware of how we are spending our time and making sure that it aligns with our values and goals. It is easy to get caught up in distractions and time-wasters, but we need to stay focused on what is important and use our time in a way that reflects our priorities.

Time is a valuable resource that God has given us, and we need to use it wisely. 

As God’s people, let us strive to be good stewards of the time we have been given by being intentional, productive, and mindful. When we live our lives in this way we honor God by making the most of every moment He has given to us.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Immediate Obedience Required


"The moment you know what God wants of you is the moment to do it. He doesn't expose sin in our lives so we can take care of it later. When God speaks, it requires immediate attention. We might be tempted to put things off until it's easier to deal with them. We might hesitate in an attempt to minimize the consequences. Yet courage does what's right regardless of situation or consequence." 
Erwin McManus, Uprising, pp. 100-01

Christians are people of faith. Biblical faith is more than simply believing, it is about trusting and obeying. In other words, we are to trust God more than we trust ourselves. This trust will come out in the way we live. If we trust God then we will do what He says. We will act immediately, regardless of the potential consequences.

In our American culture, it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and ignore the Holy Spirit nudging us to take action. It also becomes easy to put off doing what we know is right because we don't want to deal with the difficulty, discomfort, or even the opposition that may come with it. But as McManus wrote, we cannot afford to procrastinate when it comes to fulfilling God's plan for our lives.

The Bible  has many examples of people who were called to do difficult things for God but initially hesitated or procrastinated. Moses, for instance, was reluctant at first to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he didn't feel equipped for the task. Yet, once he finally submitted to God's will, he became the prototypical leader for Israel.

Similarly, Jonah resisted God's call at first to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh, but a few days in the stomach of a fish, Jonah listened to God’s call, and great city of Nineveh experienced a revival. 

Both of these stories remind us that obedience to God's will often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones and do things that we simply don’t want to do.

Along those same lines, when God reveals our sin to us, it's not so that we can feel guilty or ashamed. Rather, it's an opportunity for us to repent and turn away from our wrongdoing. But this process of repentance requires courage and humility. We need to acknowledge our faults, confess our sins, and seek forgiveness. This is crucial to do, even if it means admitting our mistakes to others.

It is essential to recognize that sin has serious consequences. It damages our relationships with others, harms ourselves, and ultimately it separates us from God. This is why it's vital to deal with sin as soon as possible rather than putting it off until a later time.

I also want to note that following God's will doesn't necessarily mean that life will be easy or without challenges. In fact it is often quite the opposite. We may face resistance, persecution, or even danger when we step out in faith to do what God has called us to do. Yet, as Erwin McManus emphasized, courage does what's right regardless of the situation or consequence.

Courageous obedience to God's will requires that we trust Him more than we trust ourselves and that we believe He has our best interests at heart, even when we can't see the bigger picture. This boldness requires us to believe that God will provide us with the strength, wisdom, and resources we need to accomplish His plan for our lives.

Whaat Erwin McManus wrote in Uprising is a good reminder that following God's will requires immediate action. We must step out in faith, even when it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. We must confront our sin and seek forgiveness, knowing that this is the first step towards restoration with God.

As we strive to live a life that honors God and demonstrates His character, we need to remember that we are not alone in this journey. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, the Bible to instruct us, and the Church to support us. Let us commit to living a life of courageous obedience to God's will, trusting that He will lead us on a path of purpose and fulfillment.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sunday Prayer: Set My Mind On Things Above


Father in Heaven,

I come before you with a heart full of gratitude and praise. I ask that you open my heart and mind to your wisdom as I meditate on your truth that is revealed in the Bible. I thank you for the guidance you have given to me through Scripture and I commit to aligning my life to its truth.

Father, empower me to set my heart on things above, the things of heaven. May I not be consumed by the distractions and temptations of the world, but rather my I be focused on you and your character.

Help me to die to my flesh and rise again as a new creation in Jesus, filled with your Spirit and empowered to live a life of holiness and righteousness. I pray that my mind may be renewed by your truth and that I may be transformed by the power of your love. May I seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and trust that you will provide all my needs.

Fill me with the joy and peace that come from knowing Jesus, and may my life be a testimony to your grace and goodness. And may all glory and honor be given to you, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

To The Chosen People

 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NLT)
This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

The Apostle Peter's letter to Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Following Jesus meant that they lived as foreigners even though they were at home in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

This is our reality as well. Most of us were born right here in the United States, yet, as followers of Jesus we find ourselves as aliens and foreigners in our own country. I think this is one reason why the message of 1 Peter is relevant to us today as it was to the believers of that time.

In this opening passage, Peter addressed three crucial points: the identity of his readers, their divine calling, and the grace and peace available to them.

First, Peter identified his readers as "God's chosen people." This description reminds us that as Christians, we have been called out of darkness of the world and into the light of God’s kingdom. We are not ordinary people, but rather we are holy, set apart for God's purposes. This identity gives us a purpose and a community. We may live as foreigners in a world that does not understand or accept us, but we belong to a community, the Church, that is made up of God’s people. In this community we are able to live out our purpose and discover the love we need.

Second, Peter emphasized that God chose his readers long ago and that his Spirit has made them holy. From the start of creation, God’s plan has always to have a people who would be faithful to Him. Our salvation is not a result of our own efforts or merit but is entirely due to God's grace and mercy. In fact, according to Peter, the entire Trinity, is involved in our salvation. The Father created the plan, the Spirit transforms us and makes us holy, and Jesus secured our forgiveness on the cross. This truth should humble us and fill us with gratitude for God's great love and amazing grace.

Finally, Peter ended his greeting by praying that God would give his readers grace and peace. Grace, which was a standard greeting in Greek letters, is the unmerited favor of God that enables us to live a life pleasing to him. Peace, which was the standard Jewish greeting, is the well-being a person experiences by being in a right relationship with God. Both of these blessings are available to us through Jesus Christ, and Peter encouraged his readers to expect them as gifts from God as they followed Jesus.

Peter's letter to the chosen people reminds us of our identity as God’s holy people, our divine calling through God's grace, and the abundant blessings of grace and peace available to us through Jesus Christ. As we navigate the challenges of life in a sin corrupted world, may we hold on to these truths and find strength and comfort in Jesus.

Friday, April 21, 2023

A Change of Heart and Mind

The apostle Paul wrote:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4; CSB)
In this passage, we discover two crucial parts of discipleship. In order to follow Jesus and experience the transforming working of the Holy Spirit, we must start with our minds.

Colossians 3 begins by reminding us that we have been raised with Christ, and therefore, we need to seek the things above. This is very similar to what Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33; CSB)

This means that the first crucial part of discipleship is to have a transformation of our values. We can’t continue to chase after the things the world values: pleasure, success, money, and recognition and follow Jesus. Disciples are to value the things of Heaven.

Our values change because our identity has changed. We are now citizens and ambassadors of God’s kingdom. To be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God means that we represent Him in the world, and we can only do that if we value God and His kingdom above all else.

Colossians 3 continues in verse 2 by saying that we need to set our minds on the things above. To set our minds on the things above isn’t about trying to imagine pearly gates and streets of gold, but meditating on heavenly things.

This brings us to the second crucial part of discipleship, and that is, we need to have a change of mind. Having a change of mind means what we think about and believe needs to be in line with God’s will and word. Rather than having opinions and thoughts that are shaped by politics, social media, and partisan news networks, our minds are influenced by the Bible, prayer, and other Christians.

The passage goes on to remind us that we have died to ourselves and that our lives are hidden with God through Jesus. The lives we live are not our lives, but they belong to God. We may be able to see a change of heart and a change of behavior, but these changes are only the beginning of the transformation that Jesus has promised to us. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer slaves to sin but instead, we are made new in him.

This happens because our old selves, with their sinful desires and selfish pursuits, are crucified with Christ, and we are raised to new life. This new life is characterized by a desire to please God by demonstrating His character in this world through the way we live.

Finally, Colossians 3:4 teaches us that when Jesus returns, we will also appear with him in glory. This is a reminder of the hope that we have because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We know that this life is not all there is, and that one day Jesus will return and make everything right, and that God will come and dwell with His people.

This hope should inspire us to live our lives with purpose and intentionality. We are to seek to live our lives in a way that honors God and reflects His love to those around us. In this way, we show that we value the things of heaven over the things of the world.

The passage of Colossians 3:1-4 serves as a significant reminder of the pivotal role our minds and hearts play in discipleship. Our ability to progress with Jesus depends on the transformation of our values and thoughts. Such a transformation empowers us with the strength to live the lives that God had intended for us from the very beginning.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

An Essential Part of Discipleship

Forgiveness is a essential part of being a disciple of Jesus. Forgiveness is not only about releasing others from their wrongdoing, but it is also about freeing ourselves from the pain and hurt that have been holding us back.

In Colossians 3:13, it says:
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. This verse highlights the importance of forgiveness and encourages us to forgive others as God has forgiven us. (NLT)

It is understandable to hold onto past hurts as a way of protecting ourselves from future pain, but this can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Instead of protecting us, holding onto anger and resentment creates a constant state of negativity, which prevents us from fully living our lives. Not forgiving is like carrying a heavy backpack filled with rocks that weighs us down and makes it difficult to move forward.

Forgiveness is a process of letting go of the pain and negativity we have been holding onto. It does not mean excusing or justifying the actions of the person who hurt us. Instead, it is about releasing ourselves from the burden of anger, resentment, and hurt. When we forgive, we create space for healing and reconciliation, and we give ourselves permission to move on from the past and focus demonstrating God’s character in this world.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15; NLT)

This teaching emphasizes the importance of forgiveness not only for our own healing but also for our relationship with God. We can’t demonstrate God’s character, which includes His forgiving nature, while withholding forgiveness from others.

Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is essential for our wellbeing and spiritual growth. It is a choice that we make for both the person who hurt us and for ourselves. By forgiving, we let go of the hurt and pain that's been holding us back and create room for healing and reconciliation. We owe it to ourselves and our relationship with God to let go and move forward, free from the past so we can continue to follow Jesus into the future.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

EDC Wednesday: $100 EDC From Amazon


Last month, Taylor Martin over at The Best Damn EDC took on a challenge of buying a complete EDC kit on Amazon for $100. He had done a similar challenge a few years ago and asked his followers what the bare minimum EDC carry would be. They determined that a wallet, watch, pen/pencil, flashlight, key organizer, and a tool (knife, multitool, pry bar) were essential items. This formed the foundation for his challenge, and he completed several challenges ($50, $100, $200) at different stores using that combination.

However, the challenge he did last month had a slightly different focus. He was looking for a wallet, pen, flashlight, key organizer, knife, and multitool. As I watched the video, I wondered what I could do for $100 on Amazon. I decided to challenge myself to find items I would recommend to a person creating an Everyday Carry for the first time. So, I opted not to look for a wallet or key organizer because I assumed most people already have those things covered.

Therefore, I searched for a knife, multitool, pen, flashlight, and pocket organizer, and here's what I found.

I don't have an extra $100 lying around to buy this kit, but it doesn't matter because I already own and carry all of this gear except for the knife. That's why I feel comfortable recommending any of this stuff to a person who wants to know what to get when starting out in EDC.


For my multitool, I decided to go with the Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker. There are several reasons why I chose the Tinker. First, because it's a Swiss Army knife, it's non-threatening and can be used when other people are around. Second, the Tinker version has a Philips screwdriver instead of a corkscrew, which is more practical for everyday situations. Third, like most Swiss Army knives, it comes with tweezers, which I've used to remove splinters from my kids' hands. I like having tweezers on me. You can get the Tinker cheaper if you go with the traditional red version, but I went with the black because I had a black and silver theme going on.


A few weeks ago, while browsing knives on Amazon, I came across the Civivi Mini Praxis for under $30 and was tempted to get it. Although I don't personally own or use it, my EDC knife is a Civivi Baklash (which I carry 90% of the time) and most of the YouTube reviewers like the Civivi brand, so I'm confident that the Mini Praxis would be a solid choice for someone looking for an EDC knife. I also think that the 3-inch blade is the perfect size for EDC.


There are a couple of flashlights in this price range that I would recommend to people. My favorite is the Lumintop Tool AA, which I carry most of the time. The reason is that it uses 1 AA battery instead of 1 AAA battery like the others, so it's a bit brighter at its brightest. I also like that it's a bit bigger than the AAA flashlights.

Pocket Organizer 

Since three of these items have a pocket clip, you could clip them to the top of your pocket instead of letting them ride loose in your pocket, but I don't like that. Besides my knife, I like keeping my gear in an organizer. I have several, but my favorite is this Diodrio leather pocket organizer. It's perfect for my small Leatherman Style PS, Lumintop flashlight, and Zebra Compact Pen.


We all have our favorite pens. My favorite pens are the Zebra ballpoint pens, so when I discovered that they made a compact version, I knew that was what I would use in my EDC. The compact size fits perfectly in the pocket organizer, which means I have a quality pen with me at all times.

Everyday Carry can get expensive, especially if you end up buying a bunch of stuff that you don't like or don't use. That's why finding budget gear is the way to begin, as it allows you to try things out to see if they're the right fit for you before you spend a lot of money on something you may not like. When you do that, you may discover that this budget gear fits you just right and that there's no reason to upgrade.

Keep carrying.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...