A Generation of Conditional Worship

Take a seat my friend, grab a cup of coffee and lets talk about theology. Stay with me now, I’ve got something to say that you might want to stick around for.
Theology. What is theology? Simply put, theology is the study of God in scripture, history and in nature. Theology is not a religion. It’s a study that helps us (try to) understand God. I like how R.C. Sproul stated “Perhaps, no doctrine has greater bearing on all other doctrines than the doctrine of God.” The better we try to understand the nature and character of God, the better we can understand the nature and character of man.

America: Land of the free, because of the brave. No other nation per capita has more people that claim to be Christian than any other country. It almost seems as if the religion of the Ancient of Days started here in America.

In recent years we have seen a generation that is hungry for God, a revolution of hipster millennial Christians show up to church with ripped up jeans, coffee in hand from a local coffee shop ready to hear the latest worship songs from Bethel Music and Hillsong. The Christian church has never seen a more passionate generation of worship for God.

But wait, there is a catch. The same worship hungry church goers seek a conditional God to an easily offended generation. We live in a generation that is emotionally weak, and everything is watered down including the truth because they’re so easily offended.
In order for churches to attract these young hipsters they tend to compromise on their theology and doctrine, careful not to offend them but simply want to lead them to Christ. Some churches are wanting to attract millennials by watering down the gospel and allowing them to seek a conditional God and is accepting of sin. While we are encouraged to come as you are, churches are failing to teach of regenerated heart and never addressing sin. A millennial focused church seems more interested in making converts and in growing numbers to Christianity instead of making disciples totally committed to Jesus Christ.

So where do we go from here? How do we correct this epidemic of misleading millennials in  false doctrine of Christianity?

First we should heed warnings from Revelation 2-3 and what it tells us when it comes to compromise when it comes to Jesus. In the letters to the 7 churches Jesus warns of the different actions in which they are lacking. He who has an ear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7a NASB).
Much like the message of Sardis this generation is very much alive for Christ, but yet at the same is dead. This generation needs to wake up and strengthen the things that remain (Rev 3:2).
Then in the message to the church of Laodicea, that they are neither cold nor hot but lukewarm and that He wants to spit them out of his mouth (Rev 3:15).

This generation and all Christians for that matter should listen to the warnings to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea. We are alive in Christ but cannot decide if we want to live for him because we are too caught up in the world and want to hold onto sin (preaching to the choir here).

While I am not pointing fingers entirely at the Millennial generation, its to myself and the whole Christian nation of America. We as Christians need to remember that we are to conform to the image of Christ and not of this world and leave no room for compromise.

The end is near and Jesus is coming soon and very soon. We do not have time for self-centered Christianity. We need to stop worshiping a conditional God and turn our eyes upon the unconditional saving grace of Jesus Christ. We need to stop trying to fix Christianity to conform to our needs but conform to the teachings of Christ.
We need to stop compromising our theology and doctrine to please people just because they are offended by the truth

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Feeling Empty

For the past week I’ve felt extremely empty and alone.
I feel like something is missing.
I haven’t felt God’s presence in the past week. I know He hasn’t left me and He is still there.
Last week I wrote in my journal: “Empty me Lord of everything that is of me and not of you”.
This is where the healing begins? Emptiness?

What I know for sure:
1) What has defeated me does not have to define me.
2) My failure forces me to face my future.
3) The place of my greatest fall will be the place of my greatest call.
4) Real salvation means real change.

My prayer tonight:
Heavenly Father, I know you are there but the past week I have not been there. I have felt so alone. Forgive me Lord for being far from you when you’ve been right by my side. Help me to draw near to you Lord. Help me Lord to feel you are near. Restore me Lord. Make me new. Transform my heart and change me from the inside out. Help me so that my actions reflect Your Son Jesus.
In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

Silence

To silence a mistake
A life must be erased

A silenced “mistake”
A life is aborted in place

A silent scream
The end of a murderous dream

A generation wiped away in silence
A redistributed decision
Only to be sold in parts in the name of science

A generation that cares more about life outside the womb but not inside the womb
All lives matter except the unborn
The unborn child doesn’t have a choice
The unborn child doesn’t have a voice
Your choice silences another voice

What #MemorialDay means to me – Remembering my fallen comrades

Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetery

August 30, 2010 was like any other day in the life of a Chaplain Assistant in an U.S. Army Infantry Unit Ministry Team. My Chaplain and I arrived at on outpost in Kandahar, Afghanistan to visit some of our soldiers, provide some well needed care and ministry and to conduct a chapel service for them. This had been the norm for just shy of two months in country.
When we arrived at the outpost I went to the tent I’d be sleeping in for the night and took off my gear and put my assault pack down and was getting ready to go see a few buddies.
As soon as I came out the tent I was met by someone and they told me to grab my gear and that we were about to go on a foot patrol, one of the squads of Delta Company had taken a hit and we were going to see them. I grabbed my body armor, my kevlar and slung my M4. I was immediately met by my Chaplain and he briefed me that two of our guys had been killed in action. My stomach sank and everything seemed to go silent.
As we prepared to go on the foot patrol I went into defense mode to make sure my chaplain got there safe to provide much needed ministry that would turn out to be a very long day. Our guys were located at an abandoned house by a small village just outside the outpost. When we arrived the helicopter was just landing to pick up our fallen comrades. My chaplain went ahead to pray a blessing over our KIA’s (killed in action) and I waited back and pulled security with the rest of the guys.
The helicopter took off and the chaplain told me to continue pulling security. Moments later the commander gathered up the men of the squad to brief them what had happened to their two brothers in arms, they knew their friends had been hurt, they didn’t quite know they had been killed.
A heaviness laid across my fellow Soldiers. Brokenhearted and angry a few men cried and hugged each other, a few went recluse and went about themselves.
As I walked around I talked with a few guys offering words of encouragement and embarrassing my brothers in a hug. A friend of mine walked up to me, a medic who had been on site to try and save his fellow comrades who were just killed moments ago. Tears streamed down his face.
“They died. I was their medic and I couldn’t save them.” the medic told me.
“You did everything you could. You got out there and did your job.” I told him as I placed a comforting arm around him.
As he cried he went into more detail about what he had to go through. My heart broke for him as he told me. I offered a few more words, hugged him and he went on.
Later on that afternoon I was sitting up against a wall in the compound taking it all in. It had been a long morning and I was trying to gather my emotions from what was a very chaotic day so far.
My chaplain walked up to me and sat down next to me. We talked a for a little bit and encouraged one another to keep pushing on. Then he hit me with harder news that I wasn’t expecting. A friend of ours, Chaplain Goetz, another chaplain who served in the Brigade we were in had been killed that day too, just moments after our friends in the unit were killed.
My heart sank. I held back tears as I nodded, he encouraged me more and we moved on. We had ministry we had to provide to our guys.
It was late afternoon and the men were exhausted physically and emotionally. Another squad came in to help pull security so they other guys could rest. I immediately volunteered to pull security with them wanting to help any way I could. I pulled multiple security shifts that afternoon and into the night. I remember standing there pulling security prepared for anything.
Because of that event I formed a bond with those men that will never be forgotten.
After what was a sleepless night, the Chaplain and I had to get back to our main outpost to begin preparing for the memorial ceremony.

1LT Noziska and SSG Grochowiak Memorial Ceremony In Kandahar Afghniastan

1LT Noziska and SSG Grochowiak Memorial Ceremony In Kandahar Afghanistan

WHAT MEMORIAL DAY MEANS TO ME:

That day, August 30, 2010, three men lost their lives serving their country. 1LT Mark Noziska, SSG Casey Grochowiak and CH (CPT) Dale Goetz. Chaplain Goetz was the first chaplain killed in action during the Iraq/Afghanistan war conflict.
I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life because it brought the reality that war is hell. But with war comes sacrifice, and men like Mark, Casey and Dale paid that ultimate sacrifice for their county so that we may live in liberty and freedom.

On Memorial Day we take time to remember the men and women of this country who didn’t make it back home and paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives.
Tomorrow is not a day to thank a veteran for their service to our country, but a day to remember those who didn’t make it back home. If anything have compassion on those who lost a friend.
My prayers go out to those dealing with the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, a wife, a mother, a sister and a friend.

Remembering those who gave their lives so that we may live in freedom. Thank you for your service to our country and paving the way so that we may know what freedom is.

A Consuming Fire – overcoming things that take you away from Christ

Sometimes life gets in the way. Our days can become mundane and routine we tend to leave out and neglect the most important thing in our lives, our relationship with God. The busyness of life consumes us. Then in our downtime we find other things that consume our time to escape the reality of a busy life. Some people find solace in reading a book. Some people find comfort in watching mindless hours of television. Some people spend countless hours with their head buried in a smartphone enslaved to social-media. Regardless, we tend to find things other than God to consume our time. It’s not that we don’t have time to fit God into our busy schedule, it’s that we don’t MAKE time to spend time with God. We are bonded to other things that take our time away from God.
What if instead of spending countless, mindless hours in front of the television or on smartphones we find solace in spending that time in prayer and reading God’s Word? What if we take all that time and be consumed in God’s Word and become fully committed followers to Jesus Christ and not just say we are?
John Piper said “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
Sometimes we need to dial it back and refocus our eyes on Jesus. The only way we can refocus our priorities is to completely abstain or fast from those things that consume our time.
Isaiah 58:5-6 (ESV) says “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke?”
Clearly things that we become addicted to are just an attempt to fill in that God-shaped hole with other things that are not of God. Can you fit a square peg into a round hole? No. The only thing that can fill that void is God. Abstaining or fasting can undo the straps of bondage and addiction and lift that consuming burden. Fasting can loosen the bond of sin and break addiction and help us to realign our priority in Christ.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in order to resist temptation, so fasting to resist sin can have a powerful stronghold over Satan when he tempts us.

Recently I’ve taken a short break from something that has consumed a lot of my time. I chose to abstain from Twitter for three days in attempt to loosen the yoke of its addiction. Instead of my days being consumed in Twitter, I replaced that time spent in God’s Word. God revealed to me just how precious our time with him truly is. Instead of spending 3-4 hours at night scrolling and tweeting, I spent those hours immersed into God’s Word.

My other addiction was politics and news. It fed my need to tweet. The news only fueled anger and I got consumed in the things of this world and the entire time I took my eyes off Jesus, who is the only mediator between us and the  bondage of an evil world. I was always upset at the decline of civilization I failed to look at the one solution that was needed, Jesus. I spent more time being angry at the things I cannot change, instead of focusing on the thing I CAN change and that’s my relationship with Christ. 

With that being said, as I write this I am feeling led by the Holy Spirit to push my fast an additional 5 days until next Wednesday, making the fast last a week. Also to resist any further temptation, I’m deleting the app on my phone until I feel God giving me the green light to log back on. 

I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be silent on world issues and politics. But what I was silent on was my relationship with Jesus. 

I’ve always said silence is not an option. At this point, silence needs to be an option so I can realign and refocus my life on Christ. Because what I shouldn’t be silent on is my prayers and time in Gods Word. 

Desperate For God – A Spiritual Battle

I am desperate for God. I am completely and utterly lost without God in my life. Yet I have struggled my entire relationship with Christ and I have felt it to be a constant struggle to get ahead. I hear God’s Word and get so excited and motivated, then all of a sudden its gone. But when I hear or study it, it like I look at myself in the mirror, turn away and immediately forget who I am (James 1:22-24).

A few years ago I went through a major spiritual battle, that I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. I started to question my faith and wonder if I was ever really truly saved. I never once denied there was a God, I knew God existed and knew God was there with me, even when I didn’t feel him. But I always wonder, why me? Why would Jesus die for someone like me who has time and time again denied him and ran away from him. But I am reminded by a series of dreams I had when I first became a Christian when i was 16.

I had a series of dreams, which seemed almost prophetic at the time. I still remember them very clearly and vividly. I know these dreams were from God, because I couldn’t even tell you if I even had a dream a few nights ago!

I had a dream where I had died and went to Heaven. When I got to Heaven, the people I met were so excited I was there! It’s like I had known these people my entire life. Someone grabbed my hand and told me we had to worship, I was SO excited that I got to FINALLY worship Jesus in Heaven!! After an amazing worship experience, we walked out of the church (apparently we still go to church in Heaven?), and as I was talking to people a voice quietly told me, “Now is not your time to be here. But now that you have experienced Heaven I am going to send you back and experience what it would be like if you had never met Me.” Immediately i was back at home, in my back yard. There was war going on, houses destroyed everywhere. I could hear the gun fire, the airplanes flying over head and people all around me screaming. I felt so alone and scared and desperate to feel even a tiny ounce of God’s presence. I fell to my knees begging God to take me back and I was sorry for my sins and transgression. .Things cleared up and I woke up, it was just a dream.

This dream revealed so much to me how important my relationship with God is. I still remember this dream and i had that dream almost 15 years ago.

In another dream, it was a dream I had many times. In the dream I was running from something (God), and I heard a voice that kept saying “Come back, stop running from me, it’s never too late to come back’. That voice was so gentle and sweet yet desperate for me, to stop running. But I kept running anyway, and a big hole would open in the earth and i would be falling into complete darkness with no end, STILL running. But the gentle voice kept saying, “it’s not too late, its never too late”. I would never find the bottom of the hole, but i would wake up before I hit rock bottom.

Much comparable to me previous post about running with God, this dream really lines up with that. Sometimes we are running so far ahead in our selfish ambition we forget we are running with God and run from him instead. God is desperate for us, we should be as desperate for him as he is for us.

The amazing thing about all of this is God’s Grace. His Grace is always enough. He loves us, SO MUCH! He is desperate for us and I know if I didn’t have him I would be lost and desperate without him. He loves us SO MUCH that he sent his one and only Son to come to earth to be a Living Sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16).

Running With God

The Bible talks many times about how our relationship with God is comparable to a race (Hebrews 12:1). We run the race of life next to God. Sometimes we are right with of the race, running with God, our pace setter, and sometimes we fall behind and struggle to keep up. But God is always there encouraging us, setting the pace for the race to in the end, we will win.

My life has had its struggle of always falling behind on that run. I find it comparable to how I run (in real life). I am a terrible runner. I have a love/hate relationship with running. When I am in shape I LOVE to run, I love how it gets my heart pumping! I love the sweat and the endurance it gives me. But when I am out of shape and haven’t been training for running, I struggle and fall behind when I run.

In comparison, our relationship with Christ is exactly like that. Except to train for that race we need to study God’s Word. We need to spend time in prayer and meditating. But if we don’t study God’s Word and don’t pray, we fall behind and struggle.