Archive for December, 2016

Greeting Bloggers,

Just continuing the Comeback Series with Louie Gigilo. I hope this will continue to bless each and every one of you.

“No one has gone too far, and none of us has done too much, to disqualify ourselves from the love, grace, and power that Jesus can bring into our lives” – Louie Gigilo

Pre Study Questions:

1 ) Who is one person in your life who has helped you the most?

I’ve had numerous of people to help me navigate my life journey. One person comes to mind is my Pastor Jose Daniel Montanez. It been unreal at what he has done. I can not thank him enough for allowing God to impact my life and help me so much.

2) What did that person do that helped you so much?

Pastor Montanez has done so much that one blog post wouldn’t be enough to being to describe the type of man that he is. I will say this, he took a lanky broken kid from a Podunk town called Ranlo, NC. That worked with me, and provided guidance every step of the way of how to become a man, live life on my own, and trust God every step of the way. Especially when the way didn’t look like it would be available, Pastor was there to remind me that God will show up and show out. I thank God for Pastor and all he has done for me in my life while I’ve been on life’s journey.

Reading:

Luke 23:32-43(HCSB)

Crucified between Two Criminals

32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with Him. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. [34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”]And they divided His clothes and cast lots. 35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders kept scoffing: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine 37 and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

38 An inscription was above Him: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

Scripture Question:

1 ) Have you heard this story before? If not, what stood out to you most? If you have, did you notice anything new?

I’ve read this story many times before, but to tell you the truth, what I’ve noticed was out of all the people who are speaking everyone one of them had some for of mocking that they said toward Jesus but one. What made this one criminal realize this was Jesus? What stirred inside him to know this was Jesus the Messiah? What propelled him to come forward and say this? This is what stood out to me.

2) Jesus forgave the people who were crucifying him. Which is harder for you: to forgive the people who hurt or to receive forgiveness when you hurt someone else? Why?

I am usually able to forgive much easier than receive forgiveness.  I have been working on it extremely hard. Through counseling and realizing that what I expect [perfectionism] from people and what is reality are different. With help I realized that will be okay if things are not what I expect, and they will be okay if it not what I expect of them.

3) Where do you hear “good news” in the Luke passage?

From verse 40-43, is the stories just showing How God’s good news of accepting Him into Heaven that evening.

Discussion Question:

 1) In the video, Louie said that “Jesus Came not to make bad people good people but to give us everlasting life.” What does this mean to you?

When I think about the question posed here; I immediately think about when Christ come and changes our life(that we free choose to change) to give us everlasting life through the relationship we have with Him. We begin an inward change of heart to transform out lives from bad to good in the process.

2) There are two thieves in the story. How would you define the difference between them? Which on do you relate to most right now?

The two thieves are polar opposites to each other is the best word I can use to describe them.  If I have to choose it would most likely be the thief that spoke out to the other thief.  Cause I do realize that I’ve missed the mark, and I deserve the punishment that is due to me from the mistake that I’ve made and short comings of God’s word.  Christ was on the cross because He chose to be not because He had to be there for us all.

3) Jesus wasn’t drawn to those whose lives were “perfectly” put together but to those whose lives weren’t all together. What hope does this give you in your situation?

It makes me realize that no matter how jacked up I am, that Christ loves me just the way I am, and is here for me no matter what the situation I am currently facing. Christ is by my side at all times.

4) There was nothing easy about Jesus forgiving the thief and saying, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Why do you think this is the case?

This is a tough question to ask, because it make you truly think from Jesus point of view.  To think in an infinite mind-set from a finite mind-set is impossible. I truly think(just my opinion) is that the thief truly realized who Jesus was, and was truthfully sorry for the crimes he had committed, and wasn’t asking to go to heaven but to be simply remember by Jesus when He was in His kingdom. Realizing that he deserved his punishment for the crimes they committed, and Jesus didn’t do anything wrong and was unjustly punished for a crime He didn’t commit. From this I believe just this simple act of humility from this thief moved Christ heart, and it gave way from communion with Christ in heaven.

5) What is mercy? Come up with a definition, and try not to use the word grace in your definition.

Mercy is a great word, it is definitely a word that show compassion, pity, empathy, or an emotional connection to someone who has done wrong. Mercy is also forgiving a person who truthfully deserves punishment, but clean the slate of wrong doing.

6) In the video, Louie said that ‘there is enough mercy in Christ for us all.” Do you think this is true? Why or why not? How have you personally seen the mercy of Christ?

I truly believe there is enough mercy in Christ for every person.  God allow His Son to come to the earth for each and every one of us.  To give everyone a opportunity that chooses to follow Him.

How I’ve seen the mercy of Christ, I remember watching a video on YouTube of this woman who had so much anger toward this drunk driver for killing her daughter and had gone to court to have this man put away for a long time.  After a few years, [can’t remember if she was a Christian or not] she when to the jail to meet the guy and forgave him for what he had done.  Then she helped advocate for early release from jail, and eventually it came. Now they are working together as a team to raise awareness for drinking and driving.  It was just so amazing to see how God work on this lady heart to the point of allow her to forgive this man. To now teaming up to impact the lives of students about the effects of drinking and driving.  Talk about God’s mercy on the this man giving a new chance on life to make a difference for good and not evil.

I hope you all enjoy this, and Marry Christmas to each and every one of you!

Dear Heavenly Father,

I know that even myself tend to wander away from time to time for your presence and who you are.  I ask that you forgive us, and help us navigate back to you and your presence which is so comforting.  We all hit road blocks, but you are there to help us also.  Let us remember that you are with us all the way up to the end like you were with the thief who asked you to Remember Him in Your Kingdom. We love you Father, and can’t thank you for being with us. We ask that Your Will be done in our lives. That what is meant to happen in heaven will be allowed to happen to us here on Earth.  We ask all these thinks from your Son Jesus, Amen

Advertisements

Noticing The Bush That Burns

Posted: December 13, 2016 in Writing

Greeting Fellow Blogger,

As I go on along in my life journey I read many books that help expand my knowledge for Christ. This blog post is just a continuation of my previous blog just focusing a little more in-depth at one of the scriptures. Hope you enjoy the blog.

Exodus 3:1-6 (HCSB)

Moses and the Burning Bush

1) Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed.

So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!”“Here I am,” he answered.

“Do not come closer,” He said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Then He continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

As I read this scripture again tonight, I just let it permeate into my soul. I began to realize that I’ve truly have missed one of the promising underlining meaning of this scripture.  That’s when verses 2 and 3 truly stuck out to me.

As Moses look, he saw that the bush was on fire but was no consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?

Just let these verses sink in, let it just resonate inside your spirit. What I am curious about, is how long did take Moses to notice the bush wasn’t being consumed? I know that I am a firefighter, and  I would probably have ignored it for 30-40 minutes easily before I would have noticed it.  How about yourself, how long would it take you to notice it that the bush wasn’t being consumed by the fire? Why is this such an important discovery within just this verse? Why does it matter if it the bush wasn’t being consumed by the fire? These are all very good question to ask about just this simple but very complex verses.

Let’s dive into some of those question: Why is this such an important discovery within this verse.

Let’s think about this for a few moments. What caused Moses to take notice of the bush after he realized it was burning? I am going to put a theory out that the bush was probably not emitting the normal byproducts of smoke and hydrocarbons when the chemical reaction happens while the bush was on fire. [My nerdy Fire Science coming out in me.] In order for any type of fire you need three components: fuel, heat source, and oxygen. With any type of fuel you’re going to get some type of smoke emitting from the chemical reaction when it is burning. So we know that the bush wasn’t being consumed, and can definitely say that wood from the bush wasn’t being burned thus taking the fuel source out of the equation for this bush to even be burning in the first place. So we can probably safely say that since the fuel of the wood wasn’t burning there wasn’t any smoke being emitted from the bush because of the lack of fuel being burned. I know that would have gotten my attention really quick if I seen a fire with no smoke. I am also not saying this factual, or I can even prove it just I wanted to give a possible theory at to what may of caused Moses to noticed the bush wasn’t being consumed. Which is why this verse is an important discovery.

Why does it matter if the bush wasn’t being consumed by fire?

This in itself is an important miracle that was taking place within this verse, but shouldn’t be the main focal point of this passage of scripture. Yes, the bush not being consume is important, and the fact that it caught the attention of Moses. The bush was used to cause obedience to happen within the heart of Moses. Like I answered above, there was something that caught his attention to make him realize that the bush wasn’t being consumed.

Life Question:

Now what makes it hard to notice the places that God is active around you?

For me it the noise of everyday life, and not allow myself time to just focus on who God is in my life.  I know this isn’t just me who struggles with this, but many people.  As I am writing this I am think what are some avenues that I can take to notice God more, and things like what caught the attention of Moses with the burning bush that wasn’t consumed with the flame.

What is one concrete action you could take to slow down this week in order to better notice the sacredness of the everyday?

This is very simple, I’ve got to stop watching so many videos on Netflix. I have been non-stop watching different show and not noticing what God has around me. Truly I need to realize that the sacredness of each day, and notice my own burning bush like Moses did that obedient day so long go.

 

I hope y’all enjoyed this quick in-depth look at this verse and how it is important that we slow down and notice who is God in everyday life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

My prayer tonight is that you will use this blog to open our eyes at the importance of slowing down and noticing who you are. Opening our hearts to obey the signs you are giving us to notice who you are throughout this week. We love you Father, and ask these things through your Son Jesus. Amen

Greeting Blogger,

This is a little different Blog today, I am going to be answering the question in “The Comeback Series” by Louie Giglio, and thought I would share it with each and every one of my fellow bloggers. Hope you enjoy

Session One:

[Scriptural Text]Exodus 2:11-15, 3:1-12

Pre-Video Question:

1) What was one thing that stood out to you from the Scriptures?

What really stood out to me was, how Moses really had two different approaches to handling problems. The first problem we have is Egyptian is beating a Hebrew, and Moses killed the Egyptian. The second problem was two Hebrews were fighting and Moses question them why they were fighting. I found that to be quite interesting because of the difference in people involved between these two groups , and the way Moses chose to handle it.

2) In what ways did that represent a new insight?

The new insight was that people in general are going to handle situation differentially depending on which group is involved. Even if the situation are the same. This may have been because Moses had compassion for it being his own people and wanted to protect them from an outsider causing harm. While, trying to makes sure that his own people worked it out among themselves.  We really don’t know what thoughts were going through Moses head during these two days while these events were happening. Only that he feared for his life from Pharaoh for killing the Egyptian.

3) Do you think this part of the book of Exodus casts Moses in a good or bad light? Why did you answer the way you did?

I would have to say a “Bad Light”. The reason I answer this way is; we see Moses having killed an Egyptian, running away from his problems, and now is a wondering within wilderness to the land of the Midian. Moses was running away from His problems instead of facing them head on. Showing us to run away is better than, moving forward at this point of his life if we are just focusing on this portion of scripture.

Video Question:

1)Finish this sentence: “After watching the video, one question I now have is…”

what happens now?

2)Even if you have felt like you’ve done too much, gone too far, or God has lost track of you, the truth is God has not forgotten you. God see you right where you are. In what ways do you agree or disagree with this statement.

As I’ve been on this life journey of mine, I will have to agree with this statement. For the very fact that I’ve gone through many life struggles, and have been reminded time and time again God has always been by my side each every step of the way. Even when I felt like I blew it in a major way. God has alway been there to wrap his loving arms around me to remind me that He has me, or shower me with a blessing when I felt like I didn’t even deserve it. God showed up and showed out.

3)Does this idea sound too good to be true? Why or why not?

This idea is true, just continue from the pervious question that I answered. God has shown Himself to me during times of struggles. Making provision when there was not a way. God laid it on people hearts to provide things in my life that they had no clue I needed, but they came either to provide monetary provision in the amount that was due, provision of food when it was needed, and they had no clue that I was struggling. God shower his blessing in only a God manner way.

4)Have you ever seen God restart someone’s story? if so, when?

I’ve seen many, but the most profound one is my friend Gabriel Martinez. I remember the first time I meet Gabriel was going to Godfest in 2012 I believe.  He was a very quite, broken young man. He had made a poor choice. He decided one night to consume alcohol, and drive afterward. In most cases when you drink in drive things don’t always turn out for the best.  Gabriel got into an accident, and someone else was severely injured. Gabriel was in a large amount of trouble with the law, had the pain of this person on had injured in the back of his mind, many days in court. Gabriel had literally hit rock bottom.  The transformation I seen in this young man has been amazing. God truly gave Gabriel such a comeback it is amazing to see. Over the last 4 years God has replace so much hurt that Gabriel had harbored toward life, himself, and what he had done. Now Gabriel is filled with so much joyous laughter, a servant’s heart for God, and just a powerful advocate to who God is in his life.  Gabriel is now happily married, his legal issue are no more, and is a tremendous leader within our student ministry impacting the lives of many students from His comeback story and friend around him that he encounters.  Gabriel’s Life has been an impactful one in my life and very grateful that I’ve met and gotten to know him.

5)God can “reach into our lives and make music play.” What does the “music’ playing in life sound like right now? What would God’s song sound like?

The music that has truly impacting my life has been two beautiful old melodies from when I was a child.  I have decided to follow Jesus, and Just as I am. Just showing me that no matter what is going on in my life that Just as I am; broken, bruised, battered, tired, and worn out that God loves me just the way I am, and I can follow him regardless if I go alone or someone comes along with me it my choice to follow Christ just the way I am.

6)In the video, Louie says he wished he could say his story ended with everything getting better quickly and easily… but it didn’t. It took time. Do you find this comforting or discouraging? Why did you answer the way you did?

I believe it is both, because I know myself along with others want things to get better quickly and be super easy. I know that isn’t the case, because in my life when I experienced a deep heart-break it took me many years to claw out of that painful experience. I was discouraged along the way, and didn’t feel anyone else understood what I was going through. It was a truly painful experience. It also comforting to know that Louie, a pastor, struggles with similar things that I have. Knowing what it feels like, and realizing I am not along in this struggle. It is comforting.

7)Can you think of a place in your life where you need a comeback? If so, are you willing to share with the group what that is?

This is hard for me to say at this moment, I know I needed one many years ago, but as of right now I am not sure. I found this book, and wanted to do the study allowing God to work on my heart. If there is something I ask God to help uncover it in my life to allow me to have a comeback to be someone who is willing to use it to be a testimony for someone else who may be struggling with a similar experience.

 

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

As I am writing this prayer. I give you praise for who you are. Without you, the very foundation of the earth would not be formed. You truly gave breath to every living being that lives and have orchestrated such a beautiful array of things in life to allow us to enjoy the things we have.  I ask you right now for those who are reading this to be open to your power in their lives to bring such a beautiful comeback story that impact lives around the profoundly. I also ask that you will allow them to hear your song that you place into their lives this week to show that you are the God of the comeback. Finally, I ask that you will comfort those who read this to allow them to feel your presence to know that you are with them through this journey called life. I love you Father, and ask these things in your Son, Jesus name. Amen.

Greetings Fellow Bloggers,

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with someone who is very dear and near to my heart. Someone that looks up to me as an older sibling and I feel as they are a younger sibling in my life. They were discussing with me some life events that they were going through and struggles that they are facing. When I was reading my devotional, the day after, it reminded me of someone with whom I can relate to from the Bible over the last few years. I have read his story many times and it was just a powerful reminder that God has such a powerful plan that is beyond our greatest dreams. A plan that we can not even began to possibly fathom.
As I was doing a reflection from my devotional,l I was able to realize that I can relate to the story of Joseph.  I know I did not have some of the crazy events that had happened to Joseph; but, I can definitely relate to him. For a period in my life, every time I turned around something else was going wrong. It was like one blow after another.  When was this crazy roller coaster going to end? The story of Joseph had many things that were very prevalent throughout his entire journey.
The biggest thing was that God was always present. When it did not seem like He was there to Joseph and during these trials Joseph encountered along the journey that he was experiencing, God was there. God allowed one of Joseph’s older brothers, Reuben, to speak up to keep their other brothers from ending Joseph’s life. Later Ishmaelites came just in time to prevent the snakes in the pit from possibly killing Joseph. His brother sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver to their extended family, the Ishmaelites. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was an officer for Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, bought Joseph. God’s hand was on Joseph when Potiphar bought Joseph. It was part of a bigger plan that Joseph did not realize as he was going through this hardship on his life’s journey. Joseph began to be very successful in his owner’s household and found favor in his owner’s sight. This led to Joseph being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. The punishment of Joseph’s crime should have been death; but, Potiphar, being a Captain in the guard, showed restraint and mercy on Joseph and sent him to the King’s Prison [State Prison]. God’s hand was on Joseph even when he was being sent to jail. Joseph prospered in jail. Joseph gained a tremendous amount of favor to the point that Joseph was made chief administrator of the prison. God’s hand of favor was on Joseph during all of these trials, sharpening his skills for the plans God had for him. God allowed people to cross Joseph’s path to impact their lives in such a way it would influence people in a position of power to take notice. The Pharaoh’s chief baker and cup bearer were just two of many people to cross Joseph’s path. These two particular people had dreams that needed to be interpreted.  The dreams were interpreted by Joseph. Both dreams came true, just as Joseph had interpreted them. The interpretation made an impact on the chief cup bearer’s heart. Yet, it was almost two years later before the cup bearer remembered a promise that he had made to Joseph.  God’s timing is sometimes hard to wait on. We expect things to happen in our timing. What we do not see is how God is using the place we are at to hone our skills for the position that God is going to provide in the future. The dream that Joseph interpreted for the chief cup bearer was so impactful that when no one else could interpret the Pharaoh’s dream, he remembered Joseph. The cup bearer spoke up to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.  Pharaoh had Joseph brought before him and asked if he was the one who could interpret dreams. Joseph was honest with Pharaoh. He told Pharaoh it was not him, but God that gave the interpretation. Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. Joseph interpreted and gave a proposal that not only pleased Pharaoh, but all of his servants. Pharaoh’s own words are “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” [a]  Pharaoh placed and exalted Joseph to have control of all of the land of Egypt and no one could out rank him, but Pharaoh himself. 
I have truly put in a nutshell about four to five chapters from the book of Genesis about the story of Joseph for a quick reflection. We could go into a much deeper and detailed endeavor of Joseph’s life. There is so much to learn from his life to apply to our own. With my life, the things that I have experienced over the last six to seven years have been a training ground for future endeavors that God has the foreknowledge of and I have not quite grasped hold of yet. These plans have not been revealed yet.
To all who may be having an experience like Joseph with things that just go wrong at every turn or things just seem to be happening, do not give up. Keep pressing forward. You will be surprised at the end of the journey how mature you have become. The struggles you face will in turn help someone else that may be facing a similar situation. Use your past experiences as a testimony and light for others that come after you. These experiences can point people to Christ and show a vulnerability within yourself to others who may be experiencing this struggle, also.
Life events do happen to us because life happens. We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect bodies, with imperfect people around us.  Things come up because of the imperfection of life.  We do have a choice to either take what happens as a learning experience to help us grow in maturity from that life event or we can choose to allow it to destroy us and those around us.
One final thought is that people are going to discourage you. They feel they still have control over you. They do not like seeing your success. They are a hurt person that goes around hurting people because that is all they know. Or perhaps it is just the enemy trying to stop your growth from happening. As hard as it is to tune these people out, some of them may even be love ones that you care about, put on noise canceling head phones bumping your Jesus Music to keep on track with your faith journey.

Very Respectfully,

Jonathan

[a]Genesis 41:38 HCSB