Welcome

Greetings! Salutations! Hello! Hola! Bonjour! Guten Tag! Ciao! Namaste! Salaam! Konnichiwa! Marhaba! Jambo! Ni Hou! Kamusta!

The Blog is BACK!

As we start up, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you back and apologize for being gone for so long! We hope that this blog will be a platform for us to share some interesting topics and questions with you!

Image result for welcome mat

Welcoming is something many of us does without even really thinking about it. We invite friends over, tidy the house, prepare some food, and maybe even have some games or entertainment. This is an active process of making the choice to extend that invite and prepare an atmosphere.

The next action falls onto the shoulders of the invited friends. They might prepare some food to bring, or dress up a little, but in all this, the most important action the invited friends can do, is show up.

I see this as such a reflection of God’s heart towards his people.

The Lord has extended an invitation to us, He has prepared an amazing feast with all the wacky, crazy camp games we can imagine and it is up to US to accept that invitation and then SHOW UP.

Jesus speaks about this in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 14:15-24 (the parable of the Great Banquet)

In this parable, a man prepared a great banquet, and once it was ready, he sent out his servant to pass invitations out to all his friends, but they all make excuses to not come. One friend says he bought a field and needs to go see it, another says he bought some livestock and need to examine them, and yet another says he just got married, so he just can’t come. These are not very good excuses are they? It would be like saying “oh! I just bought a car so I can’t come, I need to shine it” or “I just bought a house, so I can’t come, I need to go sit in it”. I mean this guy just spent the last few days preparing a great FEAST! He didn’t ask anyone to bring anything, just themselves… and by the way, that last guy? He could probably bring his new wife with him. It seems a bit ungrateful to me, don’t they see what a great opportunity they are passing up?

So, the servant goes back to the awesome party host and tells him that everyone has declined his offer. This makes him mad. Makes sense, right? What if you put in a ton of work to put together a big party, make all the food, put up all the decorations, and everyone you’ve invited says they can’t come? Not cool. And I think if I was the host, I would be so upset, I would cancel the party all together, but that’s not what happens, instead the host sends the servant back out and tells him to invite everyone else, and I mean everyone. The servant comes back at one point and the host sends him out to even more places to find MORE people to invite. What does that mean for us? Well to me, this shows how limitless our God is, and how much He can exceed our expectations. What started as a party for a few turned into a massive gathering of everyone around, and there was even extra to go around.

Knowing all this, it makes me think of how overwhelmingly blessed those first few guys would have been if they had accepted the host’s offer. How often in our own lives, do we refuse God for our own selfish reasons? And look at what we are missing out on.

The beauty of all this is that our God is bigger and greater than any host and his invitations will keep coming, pursuing us and wooing us gently to His table. We should keep in mind, however, the incredible joy and gift it can be to accept His sweet offer the first time.

This week, I invite you to make a choice to SHOW UP, with our family, with our friends, and all for our GOD.

Luke 14:15-24

15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

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Refocus – Wrap-up

Yes friends it is true. Today is the last post for the Refocus series!

Here’s a recap of the series:

  • Dump Distractions: in order to better focus on God we need to get rid of the distractions in our lives that are keeping us from Him.
  • Pray Profusely: this is our number one way of communicating with God. It is important to stay in constant communication with Him throughout the day.
  • Godly Goals: sometimes we can lose sight of why were we doing godly things in the first place and get caught up in the actions themselves rather than the motives behind them.
  • Digital Detox: something very important that everyone should go through. Unplug from the world so you can plug back in to God.
  • Communitywe are called to find a community where we are loved, supported, encouraged and held accountable to others so we can learn and grow in our faith.

I want to encourage and challenge all of you to first of all, read the entire series! Hehe. But second of all and most importantly, to make a commitment to make changes in your life which will allow you to REFOCUS ON GOD.

Examine your life closely for the distractions that are keeping you from being able to commit fully to God and dedicate time to Him. In order to do this, it is important that you pray so that God may guide you in order to do His will. Do not lose sight of the ultimate goal: to glorify God in everything that you do. Sometimes it is necessary to unplug from the digital world we hold dear and take the time to read our Bibles, pray or simply spend some quiet time meditating with God. All this is made easier through our community (see how it’s all connected?!).

If any of you have questions that were not answered by the blog posts please feel free to leave a question in the comments either on WordPress or on Facebook. Also, if you have any ideas as to what you would like as the next blog series, please let me know!

Refocus – Community

Hey y’all!

So far in REFOCUS:

  • We’ve looked at how we need to Dump Distractions in order to better focus on God.
  • We’ve seen that we need to Pray Profusely in order to communicate with God.
  • We’ve talked about Godly Goals and how we can sometimes lose sight of why were we doing them in the first place.
  • And finally we’ve seen how it is necessary to go through a Digital Detox and unplug from the world so we can plug back in to God.

The factor that I believe is essential to all Christians and the thing that ties all of the Refocus blogs together is

COMMUNITY

As Christians, we are called to be in community with one another in order to:

  • GROW

Being surrounded by fellow Christians pushes us to continue to grow in our faith. It is very difficult to stay static in your faith when you are continuously cocooned (growing and changing community of others who share and understand your faith.

Romans 12:4-5

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

  • be held ACCOUNTABLE

I don’t know about you, but when I know that I am accountable to someone, and that I need to be able justify and explain my actions or decisions, I tend to make very different choices. When living in community you are held accountable for your actions because it is no longer only you who is affected, but also everyone in your group as well. You become responsible for yourself and others and it makes a world of a difference!

  • have SUPPORT and ENCOURAGEMENT from fellow Christians

Now it is all well and good to want to grow and to have people who will hold you accountable for your actions, but you also need support in order to do these things. We were not meant to be alone. We are built to live and thrive in community with one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

God did not leave Adam alone, but created Eve:

Genesis 2:18

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Jesus was not alone but had his twelve disciples

The twelve were not alone, but travelled with others to spread the message and establish Churches.

Churches are a community of individuals who come together to worship God.

And so on and so forth… We are called to live in COMMUNITY and NOT ALONE and I urge you to find YOURS. Find a place where you are loved, where you are supported and encouraged, where you are held accountable to others and where you are able to grow in your faith!

PS. Here are more great verses about community: http://dailyverses.net/community

Refocus – Godly Goals

Hello again everyone!

I’m back with Refocus this week where we are continuing to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it. Last time I talked about Praying Profusely and how we should pray all the time with humble hearts because it is how we communicate with God.

Today, I would like to talk about something that we don’t really consider a distraction: godly goals.

Isn’t it awesome to be part of your youth group? Isn’t it awesome to have responsibilities at church? Isn’t it awesome to organize events for your youth? Isn’t it awesome to be part of the worship team? or teach the younger kids? or help organize church events? (insert “Everything is Awesome” song)

Aren’t all of these things, and more, good things? Even, godly things?

Sometimes we do all the right things and say all the right things but we let all the “right things” distract us from God. Don’t get me wrong, all these events we may be planning, and people we may be mentoring and things we may be participating in may all be good things, things that glorify God.

In my own life, I am on the Senior Camp Planning Committee, I am also a youth leader/adviser person for FFBCM Youth and I am also helping start a youth group at my Church. In the past week or so, I have been so busy with all these different responsibilities and I could not have felt more far away from God.

Sometimes we place our focus on godly things but our focus is not on God.

I am so busy planning, organizing and about a million other things, and I lost sight of why I was doing all these things and for whom I was doing them.

I want this post to guide you, to push to reflect upon the many things you are a part of and to refocus not on what you are doing, but why you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. Refocus on God and your relationship with him.

Do not give away so many pieces of yourself to all these responsibilities and forget that you are in need of nourishment as well. That you have a personal relationship with God that needs to be cared for. 

Even Jesus took time away from his ministry to spend time alone with God and pray. 

Luke 5:16 (NIV)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

And it’s okay. IT IS OKAY. You are allowed to be overwhelmed and I encourage you to admit it and take time for yourself to refocus on your personal relationship with God. 

Refocus – Pray Profusely

Hey y’all!

Refocus is back this week where we are continuing to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it. Last time I talked about Dumping Distractions and how we should put aside the things that consume our lives and focus solely on God when we spend time with Him.

This week I want to talk about Prayer and when should we do it? how should we do it? why should we do it? Many questions but all with answers (I hope)!

prayer clipart

Q1. When should we pray?

Answer: Pray Profusely, i.e. ALWAYS

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Prayer is not only an action, it is also an attitude. Yes, you read right! AN ATTITUDE. This attitude means that we are:

  • In constant communication with the Holy Spirit
  • Constantly asking God for His guidance
  • Always praising God and giving thanks for His work in our lives.

Q2. How should we pray?

Let’s look at what Jesus said,

Luke 18: 9-14 (NIV)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

To me, this means that we are never “too good” for prayer. We should pray HUMBLY and not seek to exalt or praise ourselves in the eyes of God. We should pray knowing that everything we do comes from God.

Q3. Why should we pray?

Prayer is how we communicate with God. When we put time aside in our day to meditate on God and His word, we should also take the time to talk to Him.

We are a generation that loves our technological gadgets, we constantly text, tweet, Facebook, phone call, Skype, instagram… whatever you use! Is it really that hard to pray and talk to God?? 

  1. We don’t need a laptop, computer, phone, tablet, etc…
  2. It doesn’t cost us any money.
  3. The line is never busy; we never have to wait for God to be free to talk to us.
  4. God is always available 24/7.

The only things we need to give? our TIME and FOCUS.

Refocus on God and your relationship with Him by taking the time to PRAY… PROFUSELY!

Refocus – Dump Distractions

Hello everyone!

So it’s finally time to start Refocus and I am so excited! I want to look at why we sometimes lose sight of our faith and the things we can do to restore it.

The first thing I want to talk about is other distractions! Many people go to school, work, play sports, are involved in other extracurricular activities, are involved in different ministries or are busy hanging out with friends and family! These are only a few things that we do in our lives not to mention the other billion tasks that seem to take up our day.

However, are these things constantly on your mind? During finals at school, I lived, breathed and ate studying! I could not be spoken too because I just started vomiting out facts! I lost focus of God in the storm that my life had become.

What to do?

DUMP DISTRACTIONS!

You may be thinking to yourself: “Does that mean I should quit school, or work and stop hanging out with people and live like a hermit alone in the wilderness?” No my friends, it doesn’t!

It simply means this:

Make time for God and when you’re hanging out with Him dump all other distractions!

Don’t you hate it when you haven’t seen your friend in a RRRRREEEEEEEEEAAAAAAALLLLLLYYYYYYY long time and they’re on their phone texting someone else the whole time instead of spending time with you?? Imagine for a moment how God, the infinitely powerful being who created us, must feel!

I find music is the easiest way for me to empty my mind, specifically worship music! I give all the glory to God and as I sing and concentrate on the words, God comes back into focus! Instead of worrying, or whining, or hurting, or asking, I’m simply being with God. Clear your mind of all other thoughts and just spend time with Him!

I use music; others may go running, or do deep breathing exercises, or read His word or any other number of things! But find the thing that allows you to clear your mind and simply be with God, and refocus on Him.

Refocus – Blurb

Have you ever lost something that you could simply not find again? Keys, coins, one pair of your favorite socks or even a book, jacket or sweater?

What about your faith? Have you ever lost sight of your faith or what you believe in and why? 

Sometimes we find ourselves not quite sure what we believe in anymore or doubtful of the truths we have taken for granted all our lives. Especially after a busy holiday season where much of our time is spent relaxing, doing our own thing and often hanging out with family and/or friends, we sometimes forget to hang out with God too. 

Over the next few Mondays I’d like to take a look at how we sometimes lose sight of our faith and little things we can do in our everyday lives to help us refocus again.