Life update and encouragement

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When I decided to post today, I intended to write something along the lines of “Hey, there. So I moved cross country to Denver! Surprise. Life is full of working and job hunting, so please pray for me and understand why I’m not blogging regularly.”

That was the plan anyway. But with the subject on my mind, along with the anxiety I’ve been battling about finding the right job in Denver, something surprising happened. I remembered the amazing things that happened before I moved here, as well as all the ways God provided for me 14 years ago to allow me to move to Washington, D.C. when I was just out of college and had no very little savings and no connections.

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When It Is Not Well

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Well, honestly I’ve spent much of this year riding the roller coaster from discouragement, uncertainty, anger, and pain to hope, optimism and faith and back around again. The most recent instance has just been another circumstance which brought pain and worry.

A few days ago, I’d looked up Bible verses about worry and anxiety and was punched in the gut with Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I am always thankful for God’s grace when a verse like that lays me out flat. While I pray often, I also fail regularly to “not be anxious.”

The following day, I really didn’t want my worries and fears to consume all my thoughts as they had been doing. As I brought all of that to the Lord in prayer that morning, many things ran through my head. My need to repent and confess of my sins of worry, and control and fear was a large part of it, and it was in that time of prayer I finally realized all those were symptoms of having placed my faith in myself regarding the situation rather than placing it in God. Again, ouch.

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Reflecting on the rest of Romans 6

Any Christian who ever learned the “Romans Road” method of communicating the gospel can probably recite Romans 6:23, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is an essential and tremendous reminder. We, because we are sinners from the start, deserve the wrath of God. But he has given us eternal life instead.

But it struck me as I reread the entire chapter of Romans 6 repeatedly this week that there is so much more there. It is a stern warning to anyone who would abuse the grace of God to continue sinning. It is a call to obedience and holiness and an admonition to wrestle against our sinful desires, with the confidence that Jesus has already set us free from their power over us!

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Things I Learned About Myself, When I Wasn’t In Church

33496411294_898d69b221_zPerhaps this sounds like a strange admission, but there have been times in my life when I had no church home. While I believe those were legitimate absences, upon reflection, I may have learned more about the need to be part of a church when I didn’t have one than the many years I did.

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., finding a good church was a challenge. It took many visits to find and settle in a church I thought was committed to the truth. Then, after roughly a year there, God opened my eyes to some serious false teachings entrenched there. I was devastated. After trying and failing to make any headway against the teachings, I left.

It was painful and discouraging time in my life. I missed the fellowship, the community, I missed hearing the Bible taught regularly. I missed singing praise aloud to God with other people. But church visit, after church visit, I kept spotting the same problems. And it wrecked me. The discouragement got the better of me and I gave up for awhile.

I was judged by some Christians during that time, which made it even harder to want to find a church again. I want to be clear – I never gave up my faith in Jesus. I didn’t somehow lose my Christianity because I wasn’t attending church on Sundays. During my absence, I also read my Bible and listened to podcasts and sermons when possible. Thankfully, that season did not last forever, and I eventually found churches I could regularly attend again and eventually even consider my home church.

But I learned some things during that season that I think are important and sharing them could help others. Continue reading

Church of Wimps

I read Luke chapter 9 this morning where Jesus reacts to three people who claim they would “follow him” anywhere. A modern mindset would probably expect a reaction along the lines of “Great you have you, buddy!” Jesus instead lays each one of them bare and exposes where their true hearts lie — whether it is in comfort or loyalty to family or something else.

As I continued my morning routine I thought on this. It struck me that the first one in particular chafes against an American mind.  Continue reading

Weighing in on the refugee matter

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Screenshot from a video about a UNHCR refugee camp.

I try very hard to stay away from politics here at Steak and a Bible. That isn’t because I don’t have strong political opinions, I do. I avoid it because I do not want my political opinions to get in the way of God’s truth. The Bible and the truth it contains is essential. It is non-negotiable. That is my focus and it will remain so.

But occasionally a political issue (or current event) bleed so much into my faith that I feel compelled to say something.

This is one of those days. Continue reading

How A Longer Commute Strengthened My Prayer Life

7633664078_8212c46e2a_zSometimes God uses annoying things to bring us closer to Him. In fact, when I think about it, he probably uses those things much more than things we’re happy about. He’s certainly used disappointment, pain and frustration to improve my character over the years and to remind me of his own grace and faithfulness.

In any case, a few years ago my employer’s office relocated much further from my home. Suddenly my pleasant 20-30 minute commute was an hour, each way. Spending two hours each day on the road became a huge routine loss of time and reduction in what I could accomplish day to day.

Initially, I started listening to podcasts like Fighting for the Faith in the car so that it wasn’t a total waste of time. At some point I realized that if I spent time in prayer while driving it would ensure that I was praying regularly and get me focused on Jesus before starting my work day. Listening to a few hymns, worship songs or most recently old gospel music and then praying the rest of my drive has been so beneficial for my relationship with Jesus and certainly kept my mind and heart more regularly fixed on the cross and the gospel than it would have otherwise been.

It also had the added benefit of cutting down on my frustration with other drivers. No small feat considering DC consistently ranks at or near the top for the worst drivers in the nation.

Sad Songs and Lost Souls

PosnerIbiza

I was driving to work recently while listening to my favorite pop music station (yes, pop is one of the many kinds of music I listen to). One of the songs currently in rotation is a radio edit of Mike Posner’s, I Took A Pill in Ibiza, (SeeB remix version). It’s upbeat in an EDM sort of way, but the words are haunting. The acoustic version is just haunting.

The song talks about taking drugs to impress fellow musicians, buying cars and clothes to project his status as “a real big baller,” fame, the inability to open up to people and the hollowness of it all. Continue reading

Problems and Providence

I had emergency surgery two nights ago to remove my gallbladder. It was my fifth or sixth attack, but having never experienced a gallbladder attack before it took weeks for me to realize it wasn’t just an injury from working out.

While I certainly didn’t want to have this problem, I thank God for the providential timing in getting it resolved. I had seen a doctor last week, but she hadn’t diagnosed the problem yet. I was very frustrated and I prayed that somehow God would speed this process along. Continue reading

Are We Really Saved?

CrossMy heart is heavy today, because I’ve been considering the matter of salvation. I’ve thought of people I’ve met or conversed with through the years who believe they know God, yet there is little proof of it to see. They sincerely believe they have been saved by Him and Heaven awaits them someday.

Are they really saved? Are they really Christians?

I have cried over the thought of those who think they are right with God, facing final judgment in the hereafter only to be shocked by the Lord’s words as in Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:21-23 states: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Jesus warned us in those verses that it is possible to think you know Him, without knowing Him. So every individual person must make certain for themselves!

Have you asked yourself, am I really saved? Have you examined the Bible’s criteria for salvation and seen it’s fruit in your life.

The same chapter of Matthew also says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I plead with you today, even if you think you are right with God and sure that Heaven is your final destination, take another look. Reexamine yourself in light of what God has told us through his Word.

These two messages (HERE and HERE) can help you work through that. I pray they will help you know the truth and answer the question: Am I really saved?