What Jesus really means is...

So I started reading this book called Radical by David Platt that really made me think about my faith in light of my culture or what my culture has formed it in to. I've only read the first chapter and already it takes me back to my first true thoughts of Christianity. I get so angry with myself because I've allowed culture to take over me. When I first became a Christian I knew what it meant to allow God to take over, I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would have to give up my desires, my family, and friends. I knew that I would have to give myself up entirely. It's funny because I also read the Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis that year and he addressed the very same issues that this book is addressing.
It's funny because I knew these things, the things that the book is addressing, but I was pushed to think the opposite. Like in the Scriptures it says that I must hate my family (not so literally, but compared to how I should love Jesus, it should be like hate). I didn't of course literally hate them, the Scriptures is all about love, but I shouldn't let them get in the way of what God wants me to do.
How that looked when i first became a Christian was helping out in church. That's something so simple and yet my family would always say that i would place church above family. I never mean to put church over family, but I was compelled to help where help was needed rather than attend another birthday party, in whom I see or talk to this person everyday anyway. (I do love my family by the way). I'm sure this sounds terrible, maybe it does.
I made a commitment to follow Jesus and that meant giving up everything. It means picking up my cross (or in the writers words, my "electric chair") and follow him.
I don't know what that means right now though. I literally almost have nothing. I have no career waiting for me right now after college. I have no money to give. I have a loan I need to pay off when I get out of college. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. One thing that has come to mind right now though is that I have never spent enough time on people. I stay in my circle or on my high horse. My time is the only thing I can give. And I know what you're going to say, "you don't need to give up everything, God doesn't want you to go hungry or live on the streets." Yeah I know he doesn't, but when I see things like one church costing $23 million dollars to be built, and only $5000 going to the poor and hungry in another country, it makes me wonder what is more important, me having the minimum to survive, worshipping outside rather than a comfortable air conditioned church, or having people in starving countries go hungry for my selfish desires.
And this is what Jesus asked from the beginning. I have never seen a man more prone to pushing people away than Jesus. He told people to sell everything and give it to the poor. He said don't bury your father, let others do it. He said pick up your cross and follow him.
I have never seen a religion ask for anything like this. And ignorant people love to say that all religions are the same or lead to the same place.
I really encourage you to read Radical by David Platt. Hopefully it'll change your mind about being a Christian. Either it will let you know that you will be mediocre all your life or push you to be what Jesus actually meant by following him.



So I was finishing up a book caled Tactics for my Evangelism and Apologetics class and was stopped by the use of the word rebellion. When I usually hear the word, it's more of kids rebelling against their parents or the Devil rebelling against God. The reason I was stopped by the word is because I had just read Paradise Lost as well for my British Literature class. adam and Eve rebelled against God. However, in the book Tactics, the writer says that we could try whatever tactic to pursued someone to see the problem with their world view, but sometimes there can be such a stubbornness in the heart that they choose not to listen to practical reason. The writer says that it is because they choose to rebel against God. Of course, I'm sure no one truly means to rebel against God, but if the facts are right in front of you, even if you see God Himself, there is still the likelyhood that someone will still want to rebel. Look at Adam and Eve, they walked with Him in the Garden, actually talked to Him face to face, and still rebelled.
Last night in church, Brandon and I went to church at the Ascent: Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, and usually I'm not one to like the Ascent very much, (no offense just not my taste, good solid church though) but sitting there and listening to the Pastor speak made me realize how far from God I am. Like I'm doing pretty well, I'm not doing any major sins, I've been doing good, but my relationship with God is just not there. I'll go through the motions of praying before my meal and stuff like that, but I have no relationship with God. I hate these periods in my life where I refuse to push myself to talk to God, listen to Him. Of course, this is kind of weird to say that I'm rebelling, like I said, I'm not doing anything wrong, but my heart refuses to worship God. Not because I hate God, but because I want to do my own thing. My excuse is, "I don't have time to read my bible this morning, I need to finish studying for my exam; God wouldn't like if I failed my exam."
This little rebellion that I'm going through now isn't the first time its happened, and I'm definitely not the only Christian that has felt this way. Our hearts want to rebel, our hearts want to satisfy their own desires. I'm not saying I figured out how to get out of these funks, I wish I had the answer and if any of you know it please share it, but the only thing I can tell you is that sometimes we just have to go through those motions, not to be religious of course and show everyone how good of a Christian we are or wutevs, but to keep glorifying God. My heart doesn't want to praise the one who created me, but I will push through. I love this poem that I read by George Herbert called the Alter.

"A broken ALTER, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with tears:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman's tool hath touched the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy power doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That, if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease
Oh let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine."

Poem is supposed to look like and alter by the way. The heart is a stone, we can refuse to praise God, but its funny how Herbert uses the word stone because Jesus said in the Scriptures that if the people do not praise Him, the stones will cry out (Luke 19:40). So even if Herbert does want to keep his mouth shut because if His rebellion, how his heart does not want to praise him, trying to be as hard as stone, either way, the stones will still cry out. Stones do not have mouths by the way, meaning that even through the rebellion we will still praise Him. The stone (heart), though it does not want to cry out, even by being a stone, what God created it to be, will still praise Him. I will praise my God, even though my heart is a stone; hopefully my heart will melt and I can praise Him out of Love, but right now I am going through the motions, taking it one step at a time.