e-CARE-alism

“And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  (2nd Corinthians 5:15)

I spend a lot of time thinking about myself.  Not necessarily in a vain “how do I look” kind of way, but most of my thoughts directly involve me.  My spiritual life seems to follow this same trend.  On one hand I’m happy to have a renewed passion for for God, however, my focus is almost exclusively on myself and my role as a father and husband.  I desire to effectively represent the Christian faith when at work and in the community, but tend to show little care for the lives of others and the fact that (besides the pain they experience today) they may end up spending an eternity in hell.

Let’s shift gears for just a second and try to ponder the magnificence of what heaven and eternal life in the direct presence of the almighty will be.  For the best visual description of heaven we can gain from the Bible I’d recommend reading Revelation 21:10-27.  The bottom line is that it will be incredible, the trials and struggles we face while on earth are nothing in comparison to the eternal reward we will soon receive.  I’m not sure Christians appreciate this enough, if so, we’d all place a greater emphasis on bringing others along with us…. avoiding the reality of not making it to heaven.

I’m certainly no expert in this area, in fact, it has been quite a while since I’ve lead someone to the Lord.  The great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 calls us to go and spread the message of salvation through the cross.  I believe we’ve lost the importance of this mission in our  dependance on keeping the focus of our relationship with Jesus on ourselves.  Let’s focus our relationship on knowing Him so that we can share the truth of His love, grace, and mercy with others.  This is when He will take care of all the other things we think we need and even the things we do not yet know we need.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these

things will be added to you.  (Matthew 6:33)

Rain Check

What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:12)

Sorry Lord, but I think I’m going to ask you to take a rain check.  It’s not that I am not thankful for all the things you’ve done for me….  there is just a lot of stuff going on in my life right now.  I’ll eventually be ready to live my life for you, but now is not the time.  Thanks for understanding.  By the way, would you mind doing this one last thing for me?  Oh, and please don’t forget about that other problem going on.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. (1st Timothy 1:16)

The mercy He has shown us is unbelievable.  His patience is immense beyond comprehension.  Look at all He has done for us and look how we live.  There is no way we can fully grasp the true significance of what He did and continues to do and live they way that we do.  I feel as if for way too long I’ve been asking God to take a rain check.  Since He is so patient I’m sure He can wait a little longer.  It is time to return Him something for all of His goodness towards me…. hold on while I get my checkbook.

Brothers…. He does not want our money.  God wants out heart!  Eternal life is coming for us who believe and its going to be amazing.  I’m not quite sure that others in your life will be quite as excited when the Lord does suddenly appear.  I’ve been realizing this more than ever recently and have an urge to do something about it.  Would you join me in this if I asked?  I can’t do it alone…  We need support from our brothers in Christ.  We have a choice to make. Do we want to get serious and make the decisions that will allow us to become “that man” we need to be so we can do the things God has called us to do…. or do we just want to once again tell Him to take a rain check.

Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

This I Believe

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will

                            not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)   

My son Lucas was given a school assignment which required him to write about something he believes in.  His story is found further below, but I’ll first explain why this is so important and relevant to us as men and fathers.  This is what I believe…..

I believe that a father has a tremendous responsibility to raise his children in the knowledge and ways of the Lord.  For many years I failed to do this, although from the outside I’d claim and look like your average Christian.  My focus was on myself, not on instilling solid biblical foundations in my children.  My failure in this area has caused Lucas to face challenges he’d likely not have to if I had been the man of God I should have been.  It does no good to harp on these failures any longer, nor can they be used as an excuse for my son.  He is a young man now and must learn to follow God with a passion of his own.   This does not however alleviate me from my continuing fatherly responsibility to help him grow and learn about Christ from my words and actions.

I believe that a father cannot do this alone.  I’m thankful for my church brothers who have invested time in my son.  If you are a father, I hope that you may learn from my shortcomings and challenge you to avoid the mistakes I have made.  There is no better investment you can make than investing into the life of your children.  Your children do not need things…. they need you to show them how a real man, a man of God lives life.  Teach your children many things, most of all teach them of the wonders and strength of our Lord and Savior.  With great pleasure, I’ll now share the story that was written by my son.  He (like all of us) is in a battle everyday to do the things we ought, and not the things we do not want to.  It encourages me to know that my son is going to get up in front of his entire high school class and share this….

Guilty

What has been done can never be changed. The mistake I have made will follow me for the rest of my life. Prisoner in my own body. The graphite that repeatedly slams into my notebook as I sit in my cold room seems to send a grinding pain through the core of every bone in my body. The chilling drops of sweat bead along my brow until they finally fall upon the withered pages of my book. Slowly coming to the conclusion that my efforts are pointless, I release my pencil until it clatters upon my desk sending an enormous explosion of sound through the airwaves standing stagnant in my room, unbroken except for the air expelled through my dry mouth when I breathe. A thought runs through my mind, bringing along with it all of the possible accusations that I would be assaulted with. People, hate people like me. Knowing this to be true leads me to realize that I could hate you for the same reason, but together we must move past our transgressions.  It was our own lack of perfection, the love of hate as the entire humanity that led to this terrible crime for which we are all guilty of.  It is the worst crime ever recorded in time. I should serve my sentence, but I was acquitted by a stranger. I did not deserve this sacrifice.

I believe that I am guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ… and so are you.

This I believe.

But God demonstrates his own love towards us, in that while we were still

             sinners Christ died for US (Romans 5:8)

Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad and Lucas Hellenthal

Rise -n- Shine

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests

before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

It’s quiet in my house as I begin to write down these thoughts.  Too quiet almost, my wife headed off to a scrapbook weekend, my oldest son is working late tonight, and my two youngest kids went to grandpa’s cabin for the weekend.   It’s just me all alone and hoping I’m to get in some good 1:1 time with my Father.  That would not have always been my priority if I was to find myself all alone for an extended period of time.  I reckon sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll was my focus in life at one time.  Not to mention gambling, theft… I’ll stop here for now since I’m not quite sure of the statute of limitations for some of the things I’ve done.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own

doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

“Saving” is what God does.  He changed me and I’m no longer ashamed of the man I once was because I know that I have a new life in Christ.  He has forgiven and blessed me immeasurably beyond what I ever deserve.  I know this to be true, yet find it so hard most of the time to make any attempt to show my thankfulness through my actions, thoughts, and life as a whole.  Much of my time is spent worrying about all kind of things, mostly things that “might” be a problem and the fact that I simply want more “things.”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor

about your body, what you will put on….  Instead, seek his kingdom, and

these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:22; 31)

How many times do we end up worrying about something that never even happens?  Stress and anxiety are our enemy.  How are we to experience the joy of the Lord and reflect this into a dying world when our minds are always preoccupied with negative thoughts?  I often think of the “Seek first His kingdom” aspect of Luke 12:31.  On the surface it is clear that we are to first seek what God desires to accomplish in and through us.  I’d suggest that this is impossible to accomplish without beginning every day by assuring that we begin each day by spending time with God.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

The verse above describe the very actions of Jesus.  I have no proof that He did this every morning but personally I believe that He did.  It is a great example for us, one that I’ve often failed to consistently replicate.  Does anyone dare try to make a convincing argument that there is something better for us to do than spend at least the first few minutes of every day in the presence of God?  No Christian would be so foolish as to debate that matter, however we’d likely be very surprised at how few of us make this a habitual practice in our lives.

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are

my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

I’m trying to consistently dedicate at least the first few minutes of everyday to God.  I want to challenge you to do the same.  When I first start waking up, BEFORE I even place a foot on the floor or think of anything else in my life… I begin thanking and praising God for things in my life and who He is.  I’m still half asleep but this begins to prepare my heart for the day ahead.  I ask God to guide my steps before I’ve even taken that first step.  The next thing I do is purposely refuse to look at my phone or computer before I actually get to spend some time in the Word and/or prayer.  Establishing this habit may not be easy at first but God blesses this time and you’ll know it is what He desires.  I challenge you brothers… Sanctify and dedicate those first few minutes and all your thoughts of each day to God.  It is hard to say we seek His kingdom first if the first thing we seek each day is not the King Himself.  Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Why Should I Care?

I have a confession to make…. “I’m not sure that I really care about you.”  I’ve got nothing against you… you’re my brother in Christ and I want nothing but the best for you, but I’m not sure that I honestly really care.  You seem like a nice guy and all so please let me know if there is anything I can do to help, or if there is anything I can pray for.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I’ve got a lot going on in my life and many concerns of my own.  (P.S. Please don’t take it personally if I fail to not pray for you more than once if you asked, or follow-up and see how the matter is going…. I’m just very busy and have many matters in my own life.)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Hold up just a second….. I’m supposed to actually love you, merely caring is not enough?  To top it off I should love you like Jesus has loved me!   But I don’t even really know you.  It is great to say “Hi” or maybe even “How are you doing” each week as I pass you in the halls of church,  you might even be someone I’d enjoy talking to if I had the desire and bothered to take the time.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  

Wow now…. So my love for you is the basis of how others will know that I am a follower of Christ? But I have a fish sticker on my truck and will occasionally make reference “to church” in my conversation with others.  I’m pretty sure most people know that I am a Christian.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

I’ve become very convicted of this recently in my own life.  I just don’t seem to care, I certainly cannot love if I do not care, if I do not love then people will not know that I am a disciple of Christ.  I then tend to look just like everyone else except maybe not curse or gossip as much.  To make this matter even more difficult, I’m not sure I even know how to love you.  I lack the wisdom in my life at this time to understand but trust God will provide it (See James 1:5).  I do however understand this much,  I must make an effort to talk to you and listen with intensity when you speak.  I challenge you with this…. Will you find a man you do not know very well and make a sincere effort to get to know him better?  Be prepared to listen, be prepared to share, most of all ask God to help you sincerely and honestly care.  Blessed is best!!

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.    (1 Peter 4:8)  

Shared By:  Chad Hellenthal