Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Tell You The Truth...

Jane’s mother had died from Alzheimer’s 5 years ago. It was one of the hardest times of Jane’s life. She took care of her mother every day until she died, and as each day passed, her mother’s forgetfulness became progressively worse. First, it was forgetting to pay the bills or forgetting where she put this or that. Then, she began to forget the name of her dog. And slowly after that, she began to forget the names of her grandchildren, one by one. Eventually, she couldn’t even remember that she had a dog or any grandchildren. Every day she saw them they were foreign to her, as if she had just met them.

Then, what Jane feared came to be. Her mother forgot her name. Her own mother did not ever remember that her first and only daughter’s name was Jane. Every day, it kept getting worse, and every day, Jane became more and more heartbroken. After her mother died, Jane decided that if she ever personally had Alzheimer’s, she wouldn’t want to live anymore because she couldn’t bear to hurt the people around her like her mother had unwillingly done.

A few months ago, Jane began to notice that she was becoming increasingly forgetful. Of course Alzheimer’s had crossed her mind since it was hereditary, but she didn’t consider it as a possibility because she was so young. I mean really, she was only 55, a slim chance for Alzheimer’s.

As the months continued to pass by, Jane’s forgetfulness became even worse. However, Jane just blamed it on the fact that she was getting old since she had already blocked the possibility of Alzheimer’s out of her mind. There was truthfully a great possibility that it was just an old age thing, and Jane chose to believe such.

But Jane’s children became increasingly worried about their mother’s forgetfulness, so they took her to the doctor. All of the doctor’s tests revealed that Jane did in fact have Alzheimer’s. This was devastating news to her children, but they didn’t want to tell their mother that she had this crippling disease because of what she had said years before after grandma had passed away- she wouldn’t want to live if she ended up with the same disease.

So the children decided to hide this from their mother. After all, they didn’t want to make her depressed for the remainder of her life. They loved her, and wanted her to be happy.

Just two months later during the annual family Fourth of July gathering, all three of Jane’s children became involved in a heated argument in which the news slipped out that their mother had Alzheimer’s. Jane was absolutely devastated (and seriously, way to ruin a fun celebration). She couldn’t believe that they had decided to keep this from her. She was so upset that her children had chosen to lie to her like this.

Wouldn’t you be devastated if this happened to you?
Think about this. Really, think about this. Take a few minutes and think about this. How would you feel if you found out that you were living a lie? That you were suffering from a disease that you couldn’t cure and that you didn’t know about until it was too late? Wouldn’t you want to know the truth, even though it would be incredibly hard to swallow? Even if you might be mad about it for a little while?

Well, to tell you the truth, that’s what’s happening to you right now.

Someone is lying to you about everything. Absolutely everything. You’re living a life where you’re believing lies.

That person is Satan.

Yes, he is alive and real. And yes, I know we don’t like to think about him. He’s a scary monster full of evil. If we don’t think about him or talk about him, then he won’t seem as real and scary, right? And then we can go on believing that we’re safe and that everything’s going to be alright- Full of ponies and pots of gold with rainbows!

True. But not believing in something doesn’t make it any less real. Let’s say that we’re going on a hike in the mountains, and I tell you that there’s a bear right behind you. I tell you that I’m pretty sure it wants the food you have in your backpack. However, you choose not to believe me because you don’t like to think that there’s a big scary bear behind you, about to eat your backpack along with your body if you don’t give it your food. In anguish, I keep telling you that this is absolutely true, but you continue to ignore me because you don’t want to believe me.  In the end, the bear eats you and your food.

You see, Satan is that bear. He’s behind you, waiting for the right moment to attack you and make you feel terrible about your life. As a matter of fact, he wants to attack you and he wants to see you feeling miserable, and the way he can do this is to make you believe that all of these lies are true.

Satan is just as real as the couch you’re sitting on, and the lies he’s telling you are as real as he is. My friend once mentioned something to me about this chart she has in her Bible about Satan’s deceiving plan for our lives, and it’s such an eye opening guide to the lies in our lives. The four D’s of Satan’s plan include:

1.     Doubt- part of Satan’s plan is to make us question God’s word and His goodness. He makes us believe that God is the one who’s responsible for all of our suffering and bad luck, which isn’t true. Satan makes it look like God is to blame.
2.     Discouragement/ Defeat- another part of Satan’s clever plan is to discourage us and to make us feel like we can’t do anything right. This results in us looking at our problems and believing that we are failures, when the truth is that God has confidence in us and He plans to use us for great things according to His glory. Satan knows that we have great potential, but he makes us believe that we don’t, resulting in a feeling of defeat and worthlesness. This makes it hard for God to use us for great things when we can’t even believe in ourselves.
3.     Diversion- this is also a part of Satan’s plan. With diversion, Satan makes us think that what’s wrong is actually right. This makes us constantly stray from God’s plan for us and impedes on the work that God is doing.
4.     Delay- the last part of Satan’s plan is to delay us from doing the work that God has planned for us to do. This is otherwise known as the ever-popular procrastination method. When we waste our time, we then have less time to do God’s work, which again impedes on the work that God is doing.

I’m sure you’ve seen this master plan of defeat carried out in your lives before. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably seen this destructive plan carried out every day. I remember many times in my life where these lies have existed for very long periods of time. For me, I can remember struggling with discouragement and defeat a lot. Just this past winter, I was going over a Baptism guide with my friend Lauren. I told her that I had tried to go through it the night before, but had just quit and come to the conclusion that I didn’t feel worthy of being baptized. I felt like there had to be something in the Bible that said, “you must be baptized,” or else I wasn’t going to do it. I ended up mentioning a few other ways in which I felt worthless and defeated, which included feeling like I was annoying and unwanted. After this, she proceeded to show me Ephesians 1:3-14, which says:

             3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
             11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

After reading this, I literally felt like God was speaking directly to me. The cool part about it was that Lauren wasn’t trying to make me feel better about myself or anything, she was instead presenting the truth to me in an effort to make me realize all of the lies I’d been believing, and it totally worked. This passage is still one of my favorite passages because I really feel that through this, God is directly speaking to everyone on earth. He is saying, “Listen to me. You’ve been believing a bunch of lies that have been hurting you for so long, and I want you to know that all of those lies are fake. It’s true- I do actually love you, more than you will ever know, and I have confidence that you can do absolutely anything. You have great potential, and I already delight in who you are in me. You are not worthless, you’re my child, and I think you are wonderful.”

Does this make sense? I really hope it does, because I know it’s true. I want all of you to realize that Satan hates you and that he is very active in your life, but that God loves you more than anything and that he happens to be 10,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than Satan.

And that is the reality. The scary, eye opening, and true reality. Satan is attacking you, and he has power, but always know that God's truth has ten million times more power than Satan ever could. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With a Side of Salad

Let’s imagine ourselves at The Precinct- a high class, Cincinnati-based restaurant located in Columbia-Tusculum on the east side of Cincinnati. For those of you who don’t know, The Precinct is known for their ridiculously delicious steaks. For us middle class folk, dining at The Precinct comes maybe once or twice in a lifetime, or maybe it never comes at all because the restaurant is so outrageously expensive.

Let’s say that, for instance, you acquired the opportunity to dine here for your mother’s 60th birthday. It’s the first time (and last time) you’ll ever be here, so you want to make the most of it. Personally, you’re super excited to have their steak, because steak is your favorite meat.

You are seated at a table with your family, and are promptly greeted by your waiter who takes your drink order. A few minutes later, the waiter is back with your drinks, ready to take your order. You decide to order the Prime New York Strip Steak, which also comes with a side salad.

The waiter takes your orders and comes back with a basket of bread, the typical procedure at a restaurant, and the typical progression of the course of a meal. Yay Bread! You get ridiculously excited because you also love bread, and it serves as a way to pass the time until your $37.00 delicious piece of meat is placed in front of you at the table.

So, you commence in the wonderful adventure of eating bread, in which you end up eating about five rolls. Next, your salad is delivered, which you also happily inhale because it is your favorite type of salad and has delicious almonds in it. And of course, not to mention the fact that it is also covered in ranch dressing, the best type of dressing!

Finally, the $37.00 piece of steak that you ordered is delivered to your table by the very kind waitress, but then you realize that you’re so full that you’re not sure if you will be able to finish that delicious steak. And then you realize what has been your downfall, what has halted you from being able to eat that delicious and nutritious meat that you have so longed for.

The Rolls.

Yes, the rolls. Not the rolls again! This happens every time! Regardless, you make a strenuous attempt to finish your meat, leaving your stomach ready to burst.

Does this sound familiar?

I thought so.

For me personally, every time I eat at a restaurant, I always accidentally let myself fill up on rolls, and then I’m just not very hungry for the main dish. And after the meal is over, I tell myself I will never do that again. But what happens? You guessed it, it happens again. Let’s face it, this happens to the best of us. And let’s be real, no one ever fills up on the salad.

In a perfect world, the rolls and the salad are not intended to fill you up. The intent is for the customer to have between one and two rolls and a small side salad, preoccupying them enough so they won’t complain to the manager and filling them up just enough so that they’re still hungry for the main dish. The main dish is intended to be the main part of the meal, filling you up the most. After all, it does have the most nutrients.

And if you really think about it, filling up on things other than the main dish typically leaves you full, but only for a short period of time. Shortly after, you are hungry again. It’s like snacking all day. And if you think about it, what is bread anyways? It’s basically all Carbohydrates, which gives you energy, but if not burned, these Carbs turn into fat, proving useless. Nothing in bread will typically sustain you for long periods of time, because you always have to restore on the energy it gives you.

And this, of course, makes me think of God.  Just as the course of a meal intends for the main dish to be the focal point of a meal, God intends to be the focal point of your life. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Nowhere in the Bible does God say, “yeah, so if you go to church every Sunday and sometimes read the Bible, then Ima be cool with that!”

No. Instead, he says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”- Mark 12:30. Jesus describes this as the greatest commandment in the gospel of Mark- The most important commandment out of any commandment that has ever been declared.

Notice that this verse says with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength.


This is an important word. According to, the definition of the word all is “the whole quantity or amount. The whole number. Everything.”

Actually, Jesus doesn’t even give us the grounds to assume that we can give part of our time to him. Jesus declares this a yes or no situation. You are, or you aren’t. Jesus explains this in Revelation 3 where he is addressing the Church in Laodicea, explaining that, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

According to Jesus’ figures of speech he uses here, he intends to expel anyone who is lukewarm, or anyone who is not fully living their life for Christ.

And, it only makes sense. In Genesis 1:27, God created man in his own image. He made us to live for him. It’s just like how the inventor of the automobile (Karl Benz, the one who is generally accredited for the invention) created the car. To make the car move, Benz created a tank especially for gasoline. It was not created for milk, sparkly unicorn potion, cranberry juice, or beer. It wasn’t created for anything else but gasoline, and was only created to run on gasoline. If anything else is put into the gas tank of an automobile, it’s obviously going to screw it up. It might explode, or implode, or catch on fire. Maybe nothing as serious as those, but the car certainly won’t work anymore.

Just as a car is made to run on gasoline, we are made specifically to run on God. Putting him at the center of our lives makes us run smoothly, and also makes lots of things make sense, but if we’re not running on what we were made to run on, then we obviously won’t be working correctly.

And, like I said before, we can’t run on half of God and half of whatever else we choose to run on, just like an automobile can’t run on half gasoline and half lighter fluid. We all know that wouldn’t be good.

Take for example the solar system. Everything in our Milky Way galaxy orbits around the sun. Somehow, all of the planets are in place to perfectly orbit the sun and to not hit each other. The Earth is also in the perfect spot to support human life. Everything is absolutely in the right place in our solar system and couldn’t work if it wasn’t. What would happen if the orbits of everything shifted slightly or the sun moved? The results would not be good. Everything would be absolute anarchy in our galaxy. As a matter of fact, we might all be dead.

In our universe, everything is completely in place or everything is completely out of place. If everything is running smoothly, then we are all living, but if just one little glitch happens, we might all end up dead. In the same way, we have to also take on this lifestyle of giving all or nothing. Because, just like in our galaxy, if we are not 100% in place, everything will be out of place in our lives.

And if you make God 100% the center of your life and you live for Him, you will notice that you feel like you’ve suddenly found the right answer. It will just feel right. God will be the missing puzzle piece to your puzzle, the battery to your flashlight, the charger to your phone, the shoe to your foot, the ring to your finger, the water to your cup, the marshmallows to your lucky charms, the money to your wallet, even the grandmother to your rocking chair.

My point is that He will fulfill you. He will complete you. He will just make sense in your life. He will fit in your life, because you were made with a hole in your heart that belongs to God.
After all, He deserves you. He created you and He died for you. Francis Chan describes this with great ease in his bestselling book “Crazy Love,” explaining that, “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant, Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.”

Let go and let God complete your life. Let Him fill the hole in your heart.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Hello! I'm sorry I haven't posted in over 2 Weeks. Writer's block definitely got the best of me. In the future, I hope to post at least every week. Here goes:

I once knew a girl who always tried to be perfect. Every day, she would try to read more, write more, and be more productive. She would try her best not to waste her day. But still, every day, she would get on facebook and waste some of her time. She would also try her best to get to work on time, which rarely ever happened. She was always at least five minutes late. Every day, she would get so mad at herself because she did better, but she never did good enough. She never wrote enough, read enough, and she was never always perfectly on time to work.

She also found herself wishing things were perfect. She loved history and reading the news stories that popped up on her home page, Yahoo! But they always made her sad, because she always came across nothing but bad news. She studied the Vietnam War and read a book about it, but only ended up finding out how terrible the war really was. She would find herself wishing that it would have been better, that the veterans of that war would have had a chance to really live instead of living with their burdens.

She also learned about World War II, Things that can cause cancer (aka everything), bedbugs, Senate Bill 5, the recession, Ohio’s funding system for education, pollution, global warming, oil spills, death, not ever having enough money because everything was so expensive, how great times were in the sixties, 9/11, Agent Orange, The Pentagon Papers, all of the secrets the government keeps, Democrats and Republicans, Selfish Politicians, melting glaciers, the short time we have on earth, tendonitis, arthritis, and many other things that made her sad.

And then that girl realized that she was beginning to wish that everything could just be perfect. That it could be better than it was. Why did the United States Army think it was a good idea to dump poisonous chemicals on all the trees and people in Vietnam? Why do we have to worry about blood sucking creatures that live in our beds? Why couldn’t the governor actually change the funding system for education in Ohio after it had been ruled unconstitutional 3 separate times?

But the question she was really asking was, why couldn’t everything just be better? Why couldn’t she be a better person? Why was it impossible to achieve this?

And then she asked herself, why do I want everything to be better? Why do I want to better myself? There was nothing she noticed in her life that made her feel like she needed to better herself- that feeling was just there. But it couldn’t have been there without a cause behind it, without a reason. She knew she had wanted it because she had somehow experienced it before.

And she finally realized that she had this feeling because it had been better before. It had actually been perfect. She was trying to regain something that had been lost at the very beginning of time.

So She flipped to the very beginning of the Bible and began to read. In just a short amount of time, she had found what she had before within the first 3 chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3)

It was life in the Garden of Eden with God, life where everything was actually good. God made everything, and it was good (Genesis 1:31).  Adam and Eve were made for each other, so that they would never be alone. In this world, there was no such thing as work, death, selfishness, lack of money (actually there probably wasn’t even money to begin with), Sadness, feeling alone, hunger, poverty, cruelty, abuse, limited time, Sickness, Terminal Illness, Pain, unrest or anything you can think of that sucks.

Now,  in the Garden of Eden there was happiness, interaction, health, satisfaction, rest, life, safety, no sense of time, selflessness, peace, and everything else you can think of that you want.

It was all there. And we wanted it because we lost it.  It was Adam and Eve who lost it, but their mistake became the characterization of all humans. The feeling that something was wrong or missing carried through the entire human race, all the way up to this minute. And don’t tell me you’ve never felt like this, I know you have. It’s something you absolutely cannot deny.

Then the girl began to think about how this was true in her own life. This feeling of loss was just like when she lost her dad during back in the spring of 2009. She always wished she could have him back, and she still does today. There are times she wished she had appreciated more, like the time he took her to that Sarah Palin rally and tried to make conversation with a Secret Service agent, or the time he ran out of gas when she was driving to get hours in for her license, or the times he played WOBO 88.7 and listened to German polka music on Sundays.

And there are times that she regrets not spending more time with her dad. Because all that exists now are memories. But she will still continue to want him back.

And this is just like she will always want back the perfection that existed in the Garden of Eden. She will always strive for it, because she realized that that’s what she was made for. And that’s what we were all made for.

That’s why life sucks, and that’s why it’s obvious that God is real, because we keep chasing after the perfection we once had with Him. It seems to be built into us. It’s in our nature.

And that girl? That girl was Me.

And she is you.

She is everyone.