walking on water...

How many of you readers have ever found a song you love so much that you can listen to it over and over again? Or for those who hate listening to the same song twice, how many of you found a movie or tv show you love so much that you can watch is over and over again? Throughout our lives, we tend to pick things that are our favorites; i.e. favorite band, favorite food, favorite dance, favorite color etc. We have lots and lots of favorites. It also begs the question, what is your favorite favorite?

Sure, we can pick a favorite favorite! What tops every favorite more than the other favorites of your life? Is it funny to anyone else that we often pick our favorites of everything, but so often they change? It is called the flavor of the week. Most people tend to take on the trend of the media, and let the media dictate who to hate and love.

I was talking with a very good friend of mine recently and he mentioned that the trend he is noticing on teenagers today is that the youth of today are becoming expert grocery shoppers. They go to the store when they need something, but only pick the few items they need, pay and then leave. He says that youth are becoming grocery shoppers of faith. All to often, youth are berated by the media about what and who to like. What is in and what is out. Whats hot and whats not. Not only youth, but we as Christians tend to pick our favorite parts about God and leave the rest for someone else. We then go the the church to pay for everything we want, and maybe not need, and then leave for the rest of the week to live off of what we just had to have. Does anyone else notice this trend?

What is your favorite thing about God? What is the hardest thing to love about God? According to the Barna group, 87% of American's from ages 10-25 say they believe in God but do not practice a life style that is fulfilling to the Bible or that they do not share a relationship with Him. This astounds me. How much picking are we doing? Why are we such picky people? One thing in my life I can not be picky about is God.

My favorite song by audio adrenaline is "Walk on Water". I have no clue why it is, but I love the beat and it lifts my spirits when I listen to it. It is a great song and I just love it. It talks about having faith and if we keep our eyes on Jesus we will be able to walk on water too. What a great vision to have. The problem is, I need to keep my eyes only on Jesus and not the things of this world.

Fellow readers and bloggers alike, let us unite our eyes on Christ and search for Him in this world as we remember His birth, but look at His return to earth. In the words of another favorite song by David Crowder* Band, Oh Happiness, "Oh Happiness! There is grace enough for us and the whole human race." God's grace that is offered to us and everyone is enough, but we must have our faith and our eyes on Jesus, because then we, too, can walk on water.

(note to the readers: I have totally tried to walk on water, exclaimed to God I had enough faith to do so, and fell right through. Try this and see if you walk on water. If not, what can we do to increase our faith in Christ?)

befuddled...

The other day, I was sitting on my couch, trying to let the time pass by. As I wandered aimlessly through the channels, almost numb to what was on because I was flipping through as fast as the digital cable box would let me, I decided to order and OnDemand movie. I flipped through the many different types of movies, I came across Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael Cerra.

This movie looked funny when it was in theaters but I did not think much to go see it because movies cost me my front left tire to go see now. I pressed the order button and began a new cinematic experience. This movie is about Jack Black, who plays a person near the beginning of the earth. He is a horrible hunter and an awful gatherer. He is no use to his village. So he decides to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He suddenly begins to start thinking outside the box. He starts to questions things.

"Why is this fruit? Why do we eat fruit? How can we speak to each other so that we can understand one another? Why do we wear clothes? What is this fur?" He continues to ask questions about life and how he doesn't understand how it all came to be.

I sat and watched this movie, laughing sparsely at the weird and crazy antics of Jack Black, and thought to myself, "You know, how often do we question our surroundings? How often do we really try to think deeper than just the normal aspects of our lives?" As I went into this deep thought, it was time for me to leave and I could not finish the movie (which I hope to do after today).

We can learn a little from Jack Black's character in the movie. How often do we really question what is going on around us? Are we so blind to the world that we just let life pass by without really questioning the wonders of God's creation or why we live here and not somewhere else? Have you ever wondered why we really exist? Are we all connected in some form or fashion? How is God really in everything?

I was told as a youth that is OK to question God. In fact, God does not want us to live inside this bubble of a life. Christ wants us to grow more in knowing and trusting in Him. When we question God and the things of this life He has placed before us, we can seek out God's answer for us. Too often, we see people trying to find happiness in their own lives, that we too often forget the world that Christ has surrounded us with.

Recently, I learned a lot of new information about my father, Steve Ashby. As I looked up to this man for my whole life, my hero, I have seen that he has now fallen to the ground. I often get the image in my head of the Saddam Hussien statue falling off of it's stand, because the tank pulled it down (see picture for reference).

This happened when America invaded Iraq. It was the downfall of a statue. It was the sign of the times changing. People, this blog post is a shout to wake up. We must pursue the Holy Spirit.

Mark Batterson, an author and pastor, writes about the fact that we forget to find the chase of the Holy Spirit. We too often forget that we must follow the Holy Spirit wherever it leads us, and not when it is most convenient to us.

Befuddled is a funny word. It means to be confused. I am often confused about where the Holy Spirit will lead me next, but I do know that Christ has a plan and a path laid out for me. There will be times I will walk my own path and times I will follow the path Christ has laid out for me, however; during these times, I know that Christ will always be with me. I am befuddled about the Holy Spirit, I am befuddled about my surroundings and where Christ is in my life, but most importantly, I know that my JOY and happiness come from Christ.

i feel the need, the need for speed...

The title of this post is a quote from a very famous, very awesome movie. It stars the loveable and tiny Tom Cruise. He is a fighter pilot for the Navy. He flies planes all over and blows things up. He has a best friend, nicknamed Goose. His nickname is Maverick. Know what movie I am talking about? For those of you who live under a rock and have never heard of the movie I am writing about, it is simple. Top Gun. Enough said. Theoretically I can end the blog post here. Top Gun is a great movie. One of my favorite lines from this movie, I try to apply to my life. I feel the need, the need for speed. Mostly I use this when I am driving down the interstate at....well for the law people who could be reading this, an accelerated rate of speed.

Right now, do you know where you are? We are right in the middle of the Christmas season. Through this season, we try to get through it and we go for speed to get things done. Well, why don't slow down and smell the poinsettias? Christmas is for Christ and we need to slow down and let God be God during this season. During this season, as we focus on the birth of Christ and we celebrate that Christ came to earth; let's turn our focus on the second coming of Christ. How can we prepare for the second coming?

Is this a blog post about the end times and that the end is near because 2012 is coming and the myan calendar is always predicted things....absolutley not. This is a post about using the speed that God gives us to further the Kingdom of Heaven. We must act in a haste, because the Bible states that the second coming of Christ shall be like a thief in the night.

1 Corinthians 9:24 (New International Version)

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Christ is the prize and we are not using the speed we should to catch up to Christ. Why are we not running the race in such a way to get the prize? How can I run this race better? Maybe if I didn't procrastinate, maybe if I gave more thought to others, maybe if I spoke in a manner that was in loving and not condescending, maybe if I loved as Christ loved me, then and only then can I reach the prize.

I do have the need, the need for speed. I have the need, the want, the desire to chase after a God I know is real. He has changed me in such a way that He can only be real. I know that I am not chasing after a mirage in the desert. I see Christ as the prize, and I will run the race.

Even if I wear my nasty sandals, which everyone knows I wear even to this very minute right now. I will run the race until I reach the ultimate goal of honoring Christ in all that I do. I may not finish first, because let's be honest, I am fat and lazy, but I do know one thing. I can roll over that finish line. Maybe I can bounce. Or maybe, just maybe, I can run as hard and as fast as I can in my air moses (as seen below) and win the race and get the prize, Christ.

And for all those who want to know what my air moses' are. Well, look below:

Nice. Don't be jealous of these fly sandals that I have had for years and years. Know this, even if my feet stink at the end of the race because these sandals are so old, I will have at least finished the race and honored a God who love me for honoring Him.

overrated...

Last week I wished I was Michael Keaton. You want to know why? Last week was one of those weeks where everything comes crashing down on you at once and you have no plan of attack. Last week was the week from..hades! Satan really got my gun and it wore me slap out. By Tuesday, I was ready for my life to be over so I could go and meet Jesus early!

Now you are probably reading this and going, huh, I wonder why Mark would want to be Michael Keaton? Well let me burst your thought bubble and explain why. Last week, I had about 4000 things to do on my desk and no plan of attack for them. I was caught WAY off guard, even though I knew in the back of my head what I had to do. Micheal Keaton was victim of this as well. He had so much to do and he figured, well if I can be at 2 places at once, I would get twice at much done. So he cloned himself. And not just once, when he figured this plan would work, he cloned himself again and again. This movie was called Multiplicity. Though I have never seen the movie, the idea seemed great.

And then we move into the weekend. Let me just preface this by making this statement: I have learned a lot about talking smack too early. That being said, the football weekend was awesome. There were several plays at the end of the games that would make me want to jump up and scream. And of course, my Falcons disappointed me when we couldn't even move our offense down the field.

All that being said, the title of this blog post is overrated. You see, when I looked at Florida's football team, and my pure hatred for Alabama, well I thought it was a no brainer. However, much to my dismay, Alabama won the SEC championship and is now going to play for the national title. I hate to say it, but Nick Saban is a good coach. But I want to look back at Tim Tebow a little. His team and him have looked unstoppable at times. However, the mighty have fallen.

Sometimes in my life, I like to think of myself as on top of the world. In my career and life, I look only to strive to be the best. However, when we get so bogged down with the things of the world we tend to forget about Jesus and the life that He has given us. One thing I do know is that Christ has never been nor ever will be overrated.

When I looked at Facebook on Saturday night, after the SEC championship game, I saw so many people making fun of Tim Tebow crying after they lost. Well, I know one thing, if I were in his position, I would do the same thing. But my question to the readers of this blog is simple, why can't we have a passion for Christ like we do for football or for something else in our lives?

I tend to put things of the Christian world on the back burner. I tend to want to be the friend rather than the youth pastor sometimes. Why do I always put Christ on the back burner? Where is my passion for Christ? Where in my life do I sit on the edge of my seat to wait to see what happens next? Is this only during football games, or should this passion be directed elsewhere?

I can look at football and relate because it has always been part of my life. Why do I wake up some days and just want to go back to sleep? I have seemed to displace my passion for only the things in the world and not out of this world where they can not be destroyed. You see blog readers, my life needs to be a passion for Christ. I need to take a step back and have an out of body experience where I can look at myself through God's eyes. I need to have that passion from within that makes me cheer when something great happens. That makes me leap when someone scores on for the Kingdom; that makes me cry when someone loses; that makes me get goosebumps when I hear something of God.

The common facebook status I saw was, And Tebow Wept. Well you know what, Tebow did cry for his passion for the game. Our passion for Christ should make us cry as well. How often do we look at our lives and the things going on for the Kingdom and cry? My challenge to you and to myself is to look at our lives and find that passion that drives us to the point of tears. Make the Kingdom of Heaven shout and jump and sing in celebration for the way we are winning souls for Christ.

say what...

This morning, as I lay on the couch trying to half watch a TV show and sleep, I went to my DVR to find something good. As I turn to the DVR menu, I see that one of my favorite shows, "Family Guy", was recorded. Since it being 6 AM and nothing else is on except ads for the magic bullet (which I want for Christmas to all those who read and want to know what to get me), I pressed play to watch the show.

This week, the show revolved around Brian the Dog. He has written a book and received a letter in the mail that said he was to get an award for his book. Little does he know, that this award was made by people who were "special" and they loved the book because of its simplistic writing style. On the way home, after having a few, Brian hits a dog and kills it. He tries to cover it up and bury the dead dog's body in the ground. Stewie, the evil baby genius, sees this and tries to make Brian feel bad about this and tries to make Brian scared. So eventually Brian confesses to the murder of another Dog and everyone laughs at him because it is basically one animal killing another. This is natural. Brain feels outraged because he feels as though animals are mistreated and not considered as valuable life.

The whole point of this show is to show that there is value in life in everyone. As I look into the depths of my life, I look into those who are closest to me by relation. I am seeing some lines being drawn and many walls being built up. Life gets ugly when we take out the value of another person.

So many times I walk down the road and I get stuffy and if I see someone begging for money or food, I walk the other way. What kind of signal am I sending to those who need help? I can offer something to these people, who may not even know who Christ is. I walk around as a light that is a city on a hill. I can not be put out. Yet, I am the one trying to cover the windows so the light does not shine through.

Why do we so often hide our inner thoughts and feelings about Christ? Why are we so scared to be intentional and relational with ALL those who are around us? As I see the walls in my own family being built up and lines being divided by those who I never thought would do so. It is sad to see where my life with my family is headed, however, I know that God has bigger plans for me.

As I look ahead to the future, I see promise and success for what God has placed on my heart. I am here on this earth to do one thing, advance the Kingdom of God with the gifts I have been given. It is time to be intentional and authentic. I will stop avoiding those who need help and be relational with all those around me. Christ has made me as a city on a hill that the light can not be put out.
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