Walking Upright in a Fallen World

306206_296629660426016_280671545355161_707960_837077646_nAbout eleven years ago I was faced with the decision to stay in Florida or go back to Michigan for school. I spent quite a bit of time weighing the options of both sides. I believed God was calling me into full-time ministry, but was scared to death to tell God yes to spending my entire life serving Him. I did not know many people at all in Florida, did not have a job, and was not sure of what my future held. If I went back to Michigan – I would be in the comfort of my friends. I was in the process of getting my Political Science degree and looking to a bright future full of Law and Politics – I wanted the fame, the money, the popularity, etc.

But I was missing one thing… What did God want for my life? What were His plans? I had to humbly realize that God’s plans were far greater than my own!

I once heard United States Chaplain, Berry Black say, “If you do not abort God’s plans, He will take you places you could never imagine…”

God desires greatness out of each and every one of us! His plan is perfect and He desires to use us in ways that go beyond our own capability! The issue is so many Christians have fallen away from God’s plans – from what He desires. We focus on what we want, or as I heard one pastor say it once, our own ‘trinity – Me, Myself, and I.’

Many have walked away from the straight and narrow path God in place. We have fallen into the temptations that Satan uses to so easily pull us down. We live in an extremely crooked world, and so often it is easy to fall into those crooked traps.

So, how do we realize God’s plan A for our lives? How can we walk upright in such a crooked and fallen world? I want to share 4 steps to Walking Upright in a Fallen World right and out of this I believe we will discover God’s plan A for our lives.

Matthew 4:1-11 – “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

We must respect God’s Word. Jesus uses Scripture to defeat Satan all three times. In verse 4, He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. In verse 7, He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. In verse 10, He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13

We could easily say, well He was God. But I believe Jesus knew, saw, and understood the importance of reading and memorizing Scripture. Even as a young child, the religious leaders were baffled and stunned by His knowledge and wisdom of the Old Testament law

Psalms 119:11 – “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

James 1:22-25 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”

It is God’s Word that will truly inspire us to live out our God-given purpose. It comforts us in time of hurt. It fills us wisdom when we seem to be empty. We don’t just owe ten minutes a day to God’s Word – we owe our lives to it.  It gives us our purpose for life. 

We must also value spiritual over physical. Satan wanted Jesus to see the physical needs of life. He wanted Jesus to turn rocks into bread to fulfill His hunger. But Satan missed that Jesus was the Bread of Life. He wanted Jesus to use His physical power to save Him by calling angels to catch Him as He jumped off the cliff. Jesus didn’t need angels to save Him. He wanted Jesus to show a physical sign of worship to Satan, but Jesus already knew the end result – He will one day have rule over everything

Too often we focus on our physical needs – through our prayers, our relationships, and the way we use what God has given us and we miss the spiritual needs and desires God has placed before us. 

Luke 12:15 – “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Life is not about the stuff we have! We must realize that the most important issue in life is giving everything we are to God. One of my favorite quotes of all time is… “The only thing that God wants from you is everything.” 

Third, we are called to avoid reckless situations. Christ did not give in to Satan, and He did not allow him to continue. He sent him on his way and told him he had no authority to do what he was doing.

How often have you found yourself in circumstances you should not even be near? How easy is it for the friends you have to tear you down and lead you down the path of destruction? Do you put yourself in situations where the temptation is even there to sin? What are you doing in your own life to keep from reckless situations of sin? We must do whatever it takes to keep on the straight and narrow path God has set before us…avoiding disastrous situations. 

I Thessalonians 5:21-22 – “Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.”

Finally, don’t compromise your principles, values, or beliefs! Christ did not even for a second think about faltering away from His trust in God the Father. Take a look at the life of Daniel – he was thrown into the lion’s den, had death staring at him in the eyes – yet he never once wavered on his values and beliefs.

Daniel continued praying to the God of this universe, even after a decree had been made to not worship anything or anybody but King Darius. In Daniel 6:10-28 we see how Daniel’s unfaltering belief and trust in God saved him from the mouth of the lions.

We cannot falter our way through life – we must keep our feet solidly planted on the Word of God and in a relationship with Jesus Christ! 

When I realized God’s plans for my life were far greater than any selfish desire I had for myself, I began allowing God to take me on an amazing journey! Do not tell God no, not know, or maybe later! Do not abort His plans. Instead, live out your life based on His Word, value your spiritual condition over any possession you may have or want, avoid reckless situations, and Don’t compromise on your values and beliefs

Allow God to take you places you could never imagine! Are you ready for the journey? Are you ready to live out the plan God has for you? Do not avoid what God is calling you to! Be willing and ready for God to use you to fulfill His purpose!

Steps Towards Living as a Family on Mission: Part 1

Lord of the Sabbath_T_nvAmidst the chaos and craziness of our lives, we cannot miss the importance of our own families! God has a plan and purpose for each one of our families that goes far beyond anything we could imagine. His desire is to see us live as a family on mission.

While I believe this and agree with it 100%, I often struggle implementing it at a practical level. Over the next couple of days, I want to share 5 key steps towards living as a family on mission. Our family is nowhere near perfecting this, but God is teaching us purpose and intentionality in regards to living out our calling as a family.

1. Daily Rhythms – I completely understand how crazy our day-to-day lives can become. With work, ministry, sports, school, and of course the required 8 hours of sleep that I am sure we all would love to have, life can become extremely hectic! This does not include the surprise visits from our in-laws, medical emergencies, or septic tank overflows that keep us from having regularly scheduled lives.

With that being said, getting into a daily routine of bible study, prayer, and devotion are vital to our spiritual growth – both at a personal level and in regards to our family as a whole. What are you doing to encourage spiritual growth within your family on a daily basis? How are you truly becoming the pastor of your home? I would love to say our family is successful at a daily routine of spiritual development, but this is where we struggle the most. In a perfect world, I would love to sit down with my wife and children, open up God’s Word, and pray together as a family every single evening. This is the biggest area of conviction for me personally – to become the spiritual leader of my home on a daily basis – to live a life that my kids would desire to imitate – to be the one my children come to for wisdom, prayer, and spiritual advice.

Daily rhythms can also include eating together as a family – whether it be for breakfast or dinner, building excitement around bedtime routines, or even something as simple as the first few moments mom or dad get home from work.

As parents, God’s desire is for us to become the pastors of our homes. This begins with prioritizing our schedule around a daily rhythm that creates room for spiritual growth on a daily basis.

2. Weekly & Monthly SabbathsMark 2:27-28 says, 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus not only desires us to experience rest, He is the Lord of rest. All we have to do is go back to the creation story to see the importance of rest. After working for 6 full days, God rested on the 7th day. As a family we must also experience a day away from the craziness of life.

For the Euler family, a weekly Sabbath often involves a movie, popcorn, and pillow tent in the living room. There are times it is also surrounding Catan, Farkle (some crazy dice game), or a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. Rest does not always mean you do nothing, but it does mean you are intentional about spending quality time as a family. I would encourage you to include your entire family in the decision-making process of a weekly Sabbath. What do your kids enjoy doing? What activity would include your entire family?

It is also important to set aside time monthly as a family – whether this is a trip to the beach for a day or a trip to a local them park for a weekend, it is important to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily and weekly routine. Families can easily build excitement and suspense with their monthly Sabbath. It can either be something that everybody knows about and is looking forward to with anticipation or something you build suspense and excitement towards. No matter how you play it out, never lose sight of the intentionality behind the planning!

Don’t miss Tuesday’s blog when I wrap up the 5 Key Steps Towards Living as a Family on Mission!

Stop Loving Me So Much!

Philippians-3-8-web-nltThere are times in life where I feel like yelling at God, ‘STOP LOVING ME SO MUCH!’ To add to that thought, Paul’s words in Philippians 3:2-12 drive me insane! If I can be even more transparent, selfishly, I would rather live a comfortable life that is not affected by pain, turmoil, loss or defeat. Nobody enjoys trials. Nobody stands and says, ‘Bring it on LIFE!’ Nobody desires to be faced with one difficult circumstance after another!

I know this sounds extremely prideful, selfish, and some may say this mindset even goes against Scripture, but humanly speaking, I don’t want to suffer through day-to-day not knowing what may hit me next. In Philippians 3 we see some of Paul’s most astonishing words. He begins in verse 4 by letting everybody know that humanly speaking, he had the right to be boastful. In other words, he was better at life than most people during that time. He had accomplished more in his lifetime than most people put together.  (Thank you Richard Sherman for those words of wisdom.)

Paul goes on to describe everything he has accomplished – his historical background, vocational achievements, and family heritage. He had the perfect credentials of a Jewish man!

Then we pick up in verse 7 and see a completely different perspective of how Paul viewed his own success.

Philippians 3:7-12 – But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Reading these words hurts… Honestly – it cuts right to the heart of our humanistic view of success, comfort, knowledge, and prosperity. After saying ‘I am better at life than you,’ Paul comes out and says, ‘none of it is worth anything.  In fact, I would rather suffer my way through life with Christ than to succeed based nf my own doing.

Paul takes it a step further and says, ‘I am willing to give everything up for the cause of Christ, including my own life.’ The concept of suffering until the point of death rattles my brain and rocks my world. It doesn’t make sense and honestly doesn’t put a smile on my face. I don’t want to suffer; I want to be comfortable!

And then I remember how incredibly powerful and gracious God’s love is for me, and also how incompetent I am when I fail to actively seek God’s face. As a prideful human, I must allow God to pick me, flip me upside down, and shake the craziness out of me! I must not wallow in my trials, but through God’s strength, overcome them. My purpose in life is to become more like Him – even to the point of willingly giving up everything for His sake! My prayer is to become content with being uncomfortable.

I don’t know why God puts up with me. I will never fully comprehend His love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness. I can only trust and believe in who He says He is. I have seen God at work in ways that doesn’t add up or make sense. I know His love for me is real, unconditional, and without limits! His desire is to see me become more like Him every day. The challenging part of this takes place in the midst of suffering. Even though God’s love for us can cover a multitude of sin and He is powerful enough to take us through anything, when we give our lives to Christ, we are guaranteed to face moments of difficulty. Often times, the more we experience His love, the tougher life becomes. Yet, this is often when we experience the most growth.  These are the moments we truly see how much Jesus cares for us individually and incredible His love is!

As you evaluate your own journey with Jesus, here are a few questions to seriously think through…

  • Are you living comfortably?
  • How are you seeking to know Christ and the power of His resurrection – sharing in His sufferings?
  • How are you being challenged spiritually?
  • Are you relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ to get you through every circumstance of life?