Our God is an Awesome God

“When I survey the wondrous cross,

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did ever such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

(When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts)

It is the most stressful time of the year! That is what the college kids are singing. We’re on the home stretch, almost done with the semester. Though I must keep up on my studies and focus on school, it never gives me the excuse to forget about my time with the Lord. It is so easy for us humans to forget the one and only who can protect us from what life throws at us. That is why we must fight and continue facing the battle of sin every day. One of the many quotes I will never forget, “The battle is within, daily I must fight. Death comes from sin killed only by Christ’s might…Every day that you wake up, you’re in a battle. You take sin and you put it to death” (Mark Vroegop).

School and personal issues in my life tend to fill up my day pretty quickly. It causes me to become self-absorbed and self-centered that I tend to forget to look for help from the Lord. But here is what I love most about going to a Christian university. It reminds me every day that I am a sinner, but a child of God. My friends, professors, and teammates redirect me from my sinful nature to God’s will and His plan for me. Without God I am nothing. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,” (John 1:3, NIV). If we believe that we can do anything without our Father, then we are just fooling ourselves. For Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV). 

If you struggle with self-absorption, I want you to take a moment and look at the night sky or stare at the endless view of the ocean. Our world is vastly large. And in this world, you are only a speck of dust. You are one in seven billion. In case you didn’t know, that is an extremely small fraction. It doesn’t matter how powerful or famous you are. You are just one human being in this entire universe. But you know what the crazy thing is? Even though there are only a few that know you, God can spot you out. He knows everything about you, more than you will ever know. He created you and gave you the unique characteristics that only you have. And though you are a sinner just like everyone else, He still calls you His own. That is the greatest love story ever told. Fellow readers, this is true love.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like him…We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:9-10, 16b, 19, NIV).

I encourage and challenge you to anyone reading this to make a daily personal time to God to help us to focus on what we are called to do. Let us also show God’s love to others so we can remind others of His love for us as well and for to show His love to ones who do not yet know His love. Let us try to do our best and kill the sin that comes at us each day.

 

Be Thankful

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

     Worship the Lord with gladness;

    come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;

    give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    his faithfulness continues through all generations

(Psalm 100)

 

This Thursday coming up as we all know is Thanksgiving, the historical day where we celebrate by being with our loved ones and eating a huge amount of food to the point of a massive stomach ache. As this is an annual holiday in the United States, I wish that this holiday wasn’t something that everyone did only once a year, but rather give thanks every day. We don’t always have the opportunity to see family all the time, but we are given the opportunity to be thankful for the blessings God has given us everyday.

Why should we praise God? He is our Creator, our Savior, our Sustainer, our Giver, our Father who give us love that never ceases, He is truly the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13).

We take a lot for granted: our family, friends, our professors, our God-given talents, even the air we breathe and the life we get to live.

This weekend, I went to my great-grandmother’s funeral and I realized a lot of things that day when we laid her in her final resting place. The first being the importance of family. No matter the occasion, whether it be a holiday or a reunion, or even a funeral, my family still comes together to have a wonderful time just being with each other. Even though we all had lost someone close to us, you could still feel the warm love all around the room.

A second thing I realized was how God used this service to remind me how precious life is. Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is a season for everything, and each season is a gift from God that we cannot waste. Time is a precious gift from God and we must manage it wisely because every moment in our lives will soon pass.

So, this week I encourage all of you to praise the God who gave you this wonderful life on earth. Give thanks to the things that you have in your life right now: the family that you have, the friends that you have made, the abilities God has given you in the classroom and in the real world, and don’t forget how blessed you are to experience life at Cedarville University. And for those of you who have lost something precious to you, whether it be a breakup or losing a loved one, thank God for time that you had with that person and hold on to memories that you have of them. It is hard to be thankful when you are in a dark season of life, but continue to be thankful. Because in the end, God is using every season of your life for a great purpose that we may never fully understand.

Story Behind the Music: Scars by TobyMac

Video Credits: “Scars” by TobyMac

TobyMac just released his album The Elements last month. I highly recommend checking it out – every song is unique stylistically, but the album has an EDM feel of sorts.

Maybe you’ve heard “Scars” on Resound Radio and wondered what it’s about?

In a YouTube video, TobyMac says,

“The people I love the most are going out facing the pain, the struggle, and the temptation of this crazy world. I’m very aware of the scars that come with life’s journey. But sometimes we insulate those things from the ones we love.”

He goes on to say, “I wrote this one for my boy. I wanted to let him know that I’m here for him and that and that God is there for him. So lift your head up, my son, to where your help comes from.”

I’ll admit it. I’m a huge TobyMac fan and I probably have Internet-stalked him way too much. His oldest son is twenty and in college. It’s so easy to relate to the message of this song as a fellow college student.

Transitioning from being a “kid” to an “adult” is definitely a journey. College comes with more independence and life becomes so much different than what you’ve previously known.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about change. Am I really following God’s path? Is this the right major/career to pursue? What if God calls me completely away from the place I’ve known for years?

And along the way, mistakes are going to happen. I showed up to a professor’s house for a party a week early! I completely misread the date. While it was super embarrassing at the time, I learned an important lesson from it.

Now I triple-check dates to make sure I’m at the right place at the right time.

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way too.  Maybe some have left scars. But you don’t have to dwell in guilt or shame.

I absolutely love the chorus of this song:

You are not alone
We’ve all been there
Scars come with livin’
You are not alone
We’ve all been there (been there, been there, oh), oh
So lift your head, lift your head
Lift your head to where your help comes from
Yeah, you, you’re not alone
We’ve all been there
Scars come with livin’

Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) says,

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lordwho made heaven and earth.”

Even though change in life can be intimidating, it’s so comforting to know that we don’t have to go through anything alone.

This world may leave scars. But God promises to never leave or forsake us. No matter where we go or how badly we mess up, He’s there.

What’s your favorite line from Scars? What verse helps you the most when you’re feeling overwhelmed or lonely?

The Importance of Character

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5a)

It’s time to take a test. Don’t worry this test will not affect your GPA. But this test is far more important than your academics.

I have one question to ask you: Where are you in your faith?

Now be honest with yourself, don’t lie saying you are doing just fine. For me to truly answer myself this question, I break it down into multiple questions:

What is your prayer life like? Are you praying often? And if you are, what are you praying for?

Are you attempting to enlighten others through the gospel? Are you trying to win an argument for the sake of yourself and the argument? Do you look at others and tell them why they’re wrong and you’re right? Are you providing this person comfort in the Word of God? Is your goal to boast your intelligence or to point others to God?

Do you seek help? My last blog I mentioned that you need someone like a Paul and a Timothy in your life. Do you have a Paul-like friend who can provide you wisdom that continually points back to Christ? Do you have a mentor that can help you mature more and more spiritually?

Can you take criticism from others? When your friends point out your wrongs, how do you respond? Do you respond humbly? Do you turn the other cheek? Or do you respond in outrage and in anger?

What is your motive? What are you aiming for? Is your goal to further yourself in the gospel or is your goal for self-centered?

Finally, are you always focused on God and His glory? Is what you’re doing glorifying God or is what you’re doing for selfish reasons?

 

Pondering through these questions, I would assume that you would say that you’re not in a place that you want to be in as of right now. And that’s okay. Our relationship is not going to ever be perfect or what we want it to be ideally. But we can grateful that Christ’s faith is perfect. He is good and fulfilled the covenant that God said in the Old Testament that He would do when the Messiah came. For the Bible tells us, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

So, why am I asking you this exactly? Well for many reasons. One being that it is good to reflect on your relationship with God and focus on the areas of sin in your life that need to be attended to. Another reason being that our relationship with God and our spiritual maturity our reflected on our character.

Character is what defines you. It is what you are and how you choose to live your life: the good, the bad and the ugly. Now, no one on earth will never really know our true selves, but the scary thing for me is: God also knows who I truly am. He knows everything about me, every memory, every thought, everything that I have said and done. He knows all and sees all (Psalm 139:7-8). So, if you are hiding your true character from others, you aren’t hiding anything from God.

Good character is an important quality to have not just as a person but as a Christian as well. Solomon defined character as something better than our own appearance (Ecclesiastes 7:1a).

God designed us specifically to glorify and proclaim His name in everything we do. I’m sure that everyone at Cedarville usually correspond to character to Boaz from the book of Ruth which is good, but how can we specifically improve our character? One of the many areas in the Bible that gives us a good illustration is in Colossians where Paul commands the people of Colosse:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these things put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17).

It is hard to do, yes, but my mission for you is to continue to strive for perfection, become more like Jesus. We are going to continually fail but let’s not forget why we do this: to become closer with God and to allow our lives to be a glimpse of who He is and His glory to others. So I hope that you may continually ask yourselves those questions I gave to you earlier so that you, may flourish into greatness.