Boston Bruins Win the Stanley Cup

I’ve posted quite a few new blogs this week, more than I have I have recently. My posts have also been really different than they usually are, but don’t worry, the main focus of this blog will always remain the same. For example, I usually just post articles but yesterday I posted a music video along with some lyrics for In Exile by Thrice. Today is going to be another odd post for this blog, it’s about my favorite hockey team, the Boston Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup last night!

I became a hockey fan about 4 years ago during the 2007 – 2008 season. Before the season had started I fell in love with hockey and decided that I was going to be a Bruins fan after doing some research and looking back at history. Boston has such a rich hockey tradition and I wanted to be part of that, win or lose. I’m not really a fan of any other Massachusetts teams. I haven’t followed the NBA since the days of Michael Jordan in Chicago so I wouldn’t consider myself a Celtics fan. I don’t care for baseball, although if I did I would probably be a Red Sox fan. And as a Minnesota Vikings fan, I don’t cheer on the New England Patriots.

There’s a lot of reasons why Boston winning the Stanley Cup this year is so special and important for me. Number one is obviously that my wife and I are simply huge Bruins fans. Another of course is that Boston hasn’t won a Championship since 1972…it’s been a long time coming and I believe all my fellow Bruins fans as well as the city of Boston truly deserves this. This was Mark Recchi’s last NHL game ever and his third Stanley Cup championship, what a way to go out. Tim Thomas is simply an incredible goalie, the MVP, potential Vezina Trophy winner and a true gentleman. Nathan Horton was injured in game 3 of the series and Marc Savard was already out due to an injury. The list could go on but I simply don’t have enough time to keep writing it. Another, more personal reason why this is so important to me is because since Jordan was with the Bulls, a favorite sports team of mine has never won a championship while I’ve been a fan. Although it’s nothing that I want to dwell on too long or idolize, it’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Because my wife and I don’t have cable at home, we had to watch much of the playoffs at my parents’ house. They too watched with us and I’m pretty sure we made my mom, who is not a sports person at all, a hockey fan. They even watched the last few games of this final series when we weren’t there because we were able to watch them at home on NBC. As the players were celebrating we received a phone call from my mom, who was excited that Boston had just won and wanted to see how excited we were.

And so another hockey season has come and gone and for a short while we Bruins fans will enjoy being at the top of the NHL. Before long we’ll be seeing new players picked up in the draft and current players changing teams. In a few shorts months the excitement and the long journey will start all over and once again we’ll be cheering on our favorite teams as they pursue the opportunity to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup.


In Exile by Thrice

I don’t usually post videos and songs on here, but this is a favorite of mine. In my opinion, Thrice is one of the best bands around right now and they have been for years. This song perfectly describes our awkward place in this world, how we’re longing for our true home and wandering this earth for just a while, without getting too comfortable, until we’re with Christ in eternity. Check out the video and the lyrics below and I also encourage check out some more of Thrice’s stuff if you never have.

I am an exile – a sojourner; A citizen of some other place.
All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror,
But I know one day I’ll see face to face.

I am a nomad – a wanderer; I have nowhere to lay my head down.
There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on.
I’m not settling for this unsettling town.

My heart is filled with songs of forever –
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don’t belong here; I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.

I am a pilgrim – a voyager; I won’t rest until my lips touch the shore –
Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived,
Where there’ll be no pain or tears anymore.

Are We Too Connected?

We live in digital and technology-driven age. This is obvious considering that rather than reading this as a printed article or pamphlet, you’re currently reading this post on a computer, smart phone, tablet or maybe even your TV. Technology is everywhere and some even say that technology is actually making us dumber and that human evolution is reversing. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on our technology-driven lives and why it’s important to intentionally unplug.

I would like to say that I’m very grateful for technology. I love it. I love my iPhone, my iPad and my Mac that sits in my office at work. As a web designer, I wouldn’t even have a job if it wasn’t for technology. Computers, phones, apps and social media are all very useful in our lives. However, there is one question that we need to ask ourselves…

Are we too connected?

We have the ability to be in constant conversation with people all around the world and right down the street through texting, Twitter, Facebook and the other countless social networking outlets. It really is great. We can have our questions answered at any given time and we can also encourage one another instantly with a thought or verse. The trouble though is that we can also neglect the face to face fellowship we’re having with one another by interrupting a conversation to reply to a Tweet. This is where our connectedness can affect and even harm true human interaction. We can be with people in person but yet be miles away as we sit in silence fumbling through our phones. We should make it a point to ignore our phones, tablets and computers so that we can have true interaction with our brothers and sisters. To put it bluntly, we’ve become enslaved by our phones and computers.

Our face to face fellowship with people isn’t the only area of our lives that can suffer. As a follower of Christ, it’s in our new nature to desire Jesus. Because of Christ in us we pray and spend time intentionally seeking God one on one and apart from distractions. I don’t know if we’re simply afraid to be alone or what exactly the problem is, but we’ve lost the art of being alone. Being by ourselves with the Lord is something that Jesus spoke of in word and in action. He would frequently leave His disciples and crowds to go off by Himself and pray. Jesus even said that when we pray we should get alone in a closet. It’s clear that being alone with God is important. This is a practice that we have to retrieve if we hope to be able to encourage and build up each other and if we hope to simply know Christ deeper. For this, we have to learn to how to unplug.

The point is this: Being connected to loved ones is great. There’s a handful of people who I consider real brothers in Christ that I have only conversed with through this blog and on Twitter. I appreciate it all and thoroughly believe that God uses technology. We have to be careful, though, so that we don’t get distracted from God and authentic fellowship with our brothers and sisters.

This is something that I’ve dealt with and am still dealing with now. I’m a Twitter addict. I don’t care about Facebook as much but I’ve spent lots of time Tweeting and scrolling through my feed on my phone. We need to learn that it’s ok to have unread emails, messages and tweets. We need to begin intentionally unplugging and recover the lost art of being alone with God and being with people.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

Exhorting One Another and Why It Matters

Sometimes, actually, a lot of times, I really suck. You may be thinking, “Sure, we all suck in ourselves.” This is true, but even though we’re in Christ we’re faced with a challenge to actually walk in Him, which is only done by His grace, rather than to rely on the natural man that is in reality, dead. Seclusion from the body of Christ is something that’s really harmful for a believer. Whether we’re deceived into thinking we can serve and seek God all on our own or we get too distracted and simply don’t have time to fellowship with each other, it’s not good. I’ve said this in other posts before, the Christian life is a corporate life, one lived in community centered around Jesus Christ. In this community we’re all equal. Regardless of race, gender, culture, interests, social status, we’re equal and one. In the community of God there is no hierarchy and we have Christ as the head. We’re all priests and we therefore all have a responsibility to share Christ and His riches with each other. Check out what the writer of Hebrews says:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:12-14

This excerpt goes right along with the many “one anothers” found in the New Testament. Reading this, it seems that if we aren’t exhorting each other all the time, everyday even, then we run a greater risk of falling away God altogether. We may not come out and publicly say we no longer care about God, but perhaps we’ll become deceived into thinking we’re living ok when in reality we aren’t walking in Christ. We can become deceived because there is no accountability and no encouragement. I know from experience that it’s far too easy to get caught up simply living our lives and in turn just keep God in the back our minds when He Himself should be living this life through us to His glory. We need to constantly be challenged, encouraged and pushed toward Christ by our brothers and sisters.

This whole corporate life thing has to be intentional. It takes sacrificing our schedules, interests and hobbies as a result of loving Jesus and His body more than ourselves. The Spirit of God will bring us to this place, He will accomplish it. But we have to let Him do it and stop ignoring the truth. Let it all be done by Him and to His glory.

Knowing Jesus in a Facebook World

The idea for this post sprang from a conversation I had with a good friend of mine this past week. This friend of mine has recently been preparing a lesson to teach to a group of middle school aged kids at the church he’s a part of. The topic for his lesson was intimacy with God. Now, intimacy with God is a topic that can be discussed from now until the end of the world. Our chief pursuit in this life is to learn Christ and explore His riches, thus becoming more intimate with Him. We will also never completely know all the riches of Christ while on this earth. His riches are simply far too deep and wide.

The dilemma, then, was determining how you go about explaining true intimacy with God in about 45 minutes to a group of middle schoolers. The best approach that came to mind was to use parables that are culturally relevant to them, just like Jesus did in the New Testament.

The thought came to mind that your relationship with Jesus can be compared to your relationship with your Facebook friends. Everyone on Facebook has either a few, or a ton, of friends whose relationship doesn’t go any deeper than their Facebook posts and photo albums. Facebook is great and all, but you can easily lose true intimacy with someone due to the “convenience” of the social media giant.

Facebook allows you to know a lot about people without actually knowing them.

How much do we, professed Christians, know about Jesus without actually knowing Him? I want to be very careful in saying my next statement and would like to preface it by saying that the Bible is in fact infallible and inspired by the Holy Spirit. That being said, I would like to compare the Bible to Facebook for a moment.

With the Bible, we can read, study and memorize things about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church and God’s eternal purpose. This is all very important and I am very grateful to have these writings that have been preserved for so long. However, it’s very easy to know the Bible in a strictly informational and scholarly way. Simply put: we can know the Bible and know things about Jesus without actually having them revealed by the Holy Spirit. We cannot know them fully though, apart from Christ or revelation by the Holy Spirit. Similarly, we can know things about people thanks to their Facebook page. We can know where they work, who their favorite sports team is and even whether they had a good or bad day. But do we really know that person? No. Not if Facebook is as deep as our relationship goes with them. You haven’t spent quality time with that person. You don’t know how they handle difficult situations and you don’t really know their dreams and aspirations. The things we know are great but they are taken out of context and ultimately they don’t really matter apart from the individuals themselves.

What we’re left with then, from the Bible alone and Facebook alone, is a collection of random facts and ideas that we can’t really do anything with. We’re not walking in the truths found in the Bible because they haven’t been revealed in us by the Holy Spirit through quality time with the Lord. There hasn’t been any light shed on these teachings. We take what we hear or read in our “quiet time” and then go on about our lives. Sure, we may be able to hold an excellent discussion in our small group, Bible study or church meeting, but our life doesn’t reflect these things. They are merely memorized facts and writings.

John answered, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. – John 3:27

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11

Too often we know things about Jesus without actually knowing Him. We continue to eat from the wrong tree and attempt to know Christ through our own efforts and study. Studying is good and even necessary, yes. But if we don’t take what we’ve read or “learned” to God and ask for revelation and true understanding, then we’re not growing any closer to Him. I don’t care how smart and studious you are. You cannot know Christ by your own flawed effort. You will be left with information, not a relationship and understanding. This has been true in my life far too often. I’ve known what it’s like to know things about Jesus and then be left feeling far from Him, as if He’s still a stranger.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Please let me know in the comment section below.

Talk is Cheap

Is it all about Jesus for us? I have a very loud voice and opinion when it comes to Christ being central in all aspects of life. I truly desire to see Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, become the focus of the Church, rather than programs and hierarchies. I say and believe all of this, but what does my life and the lives of the other believers that I’m close to look like?

We are not saved by works but the Bible is very clear about the fact that the true followers of Christ, those who are actually abiding in and living through Him, will be known by their fruit. Jesus Himself says that “you will recognize them by their fruit” in Matthew 7:20.

Who will we recognize?

We will recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing. We will recognize those who profess Christ with their mouths but walk away and continue to live in darkness. We will also recognize those who have truly been changed. We will recognize a man or woman who has been regenerated and no longer lives by their own power but by the indwelling life of Christ. If we are in Christ and Christ is in us then we will walk in the way that Jesus walked. Our thoughts will become His thoughts and our actions will be His. John, in his first epistle, tells us how we will know those who are truly in Him:

By this we may be sure that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him [Christ] ought to walk in the same way in which He walked – 1 John 2:5-6

So does this mean that because we are Christians we should memorize the commandments and learn what Jesus did and then try to copy it? No. Although this is a great way to examine ourselves, it’s not how we walk in the same way that He walked. In John 8:28, Jesus says that He does nothing on His own authority, but speaks as the Father teaches Him. Jesus was living by an indwelling life, the life of the Father. How are to live as Jesus lived? We too have to live by an indwelling life, the life of Christ. The way our lives are lived is important. What we do may not save us, but it does prove to whom we belong. We can do nothing apart from Christ, even please God. All of our toil and effort to please God becomes worthless if it is done in our natural power and apart from the life of Christ.

Talk is cheap. Let’s stop saying that it’s all about Christ and start living by His indwelling life, I am speaking to myself here more than anyone else. May the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus to us more and more each day, so that we can know Him and live by His life. Let’s seek Christ in way that causes everything else to fall away, including ourselves.

Where is Our Dependence?

I love books. I also truly enjoy and appreciate many Christian authors, both present and past, whose writings are very Christ-centered. I see nothing wrong with this. However, I seen many times where this has taken my focus and spiritual dependence away from the Holy Spirit. With that being said, my thought then is that surely many, if not all, of us experience times like that.

While reading in 1 Corinthians I came across a very well known statement where Paul is calling out the Church in Corinth regarding the division and quarrels among them. Here is what says to them:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be nodivisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

It’s clear that Paul is addressing the fact that these Christians were “attaching” themselves to certain apostles as grounds for dividing  against each other. When our spiritual dependence rests upon mere men instead of Christ Himself and the Holy Spirit then division is more likely to happen. The Spirit leads us into all truth and if we are in the Spirit and not in the flesh we will be of one mind.

I find it interesting that Paul is not only rebuking those say they follow mere men but he also rebukes those who say “I follow Christ.” Why would Paul rebuke those who state they are following Christ alone? Perhaps it was because the attitude in which they were stating it. They were using that as grounds for dividing against their brothers and sisters who are also in Christ. Their attitude in stating “I follow Christ” was arrogant and not loving. Just a side note but very interesting.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Our Need for Spiritual Understanding, we need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us us in order to truly comprehend it and grow. This applies to what we read (both the Bible and books about the Bible and Jesus), teachings that we hear and subjects we’ve devoured in Bible studies. If we rely simply on what we read, even if what we read is completely Christ-centered and good, we will not truly grow. We cannot learn spiritual things from a fleshly approach.

I think we all need to check ourselves to see who we’re depending on in order to grow in Christ and learn Him. Books are a tremendous help to me but if those books and my ability (or lack thereof) to comprehend and understand them is all I have then I will fail. The same goes for speakers, preachers and the modern day pastor. We have to search Christ out together and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth. Christ is our source. Nothing and no one else.