BY DANIEL FOSTER
And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Mark 10:20
This passage is from Mark 10, the story of the rich young ruler who was seeking eternal life from Jesus.
“What must I do?” (verse 17) He asked Jesus, as if there is some sort of checklist we must accomplish to enter Heaven. Sadly, there are many today with this exact thought. If I go to church twice a week, if I help someone in need, if I read my bible exactly 25 minutes each day, if I tithe my 10% I will be good enough to go to Heaven when this life is over. However, it’s never been (and still isn’t) about being “good enough.” But it is all about having a relationship and following Jesus. Jesus lists a few of the commandments we are to follow and the guy insists he has kept them from his youth. Ultimately Jesus tells this guy to sell everything and to take up the cross and to follow Him.
Joseph Brazil | @blackdog575
Quick, name the president of the United States sixty years ago. Now think back and recall which college basketball team won last year’s NCAA tournament. Unless you were that president or a member of that team who won it all, chances are you had some trouble remembering their name.
(For the record: President Eisenhower and Duke University)
Their legacies were, at the time, well distinguished and carried some importance among their respective professions. But now they’re largely footnotes in history, replaced by more current presidents and the anticipation for who will win this year’s tournament.
(My pick is Virginia.)
Think for a moment what you consider your greatest achievement. What made you decide on this? Clearly, it must mean something special. Perhaps it took years of work or it might have cost you a hefty sum. Yet whatever we perceive as our lasting accomplishment in life, it counts for nothing in the end.
Megan Oaks | @megancoaks
Say what? That’s right! New year, same old me! After Christmas and with the approach of January 1st, every year we begin to reflect on our goals and ambitions. If you’re anything like me, these goals while well meaning, can sometimes lead to feelings of inadequacy. A laundry list of what we don’t like about ourselves, what we want to change and the person we do not want to be a year from now. Call me crazy, but when I think of our Heavenly Father listening to our inner most thoughts, I doubt it brings him joy to hear us list off one by one the things we feel make us less than the uniquely crafted design he created us to be.
New Years eve, as I was scrolling along through my news feed on Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised by a post from a young lady which read; “I’m really happy for everyone saying New Year, new me. I hope it works out. As for me: New Year, same me. I kinda like myself.” I was floored by her wisdom. Floored by her maturity. Floored by her positive attitude and self-image. These things are all too rare nowadays. (I say that like I am ancient and have experienced decades of change.) Truth is, with social media on a rise and reality television exploiting the lives of celebrities, and not to mention those pesky gossip columns peering at us from the grocery line, it has become all too easy to compare our lives to those around us and those that are beyond our reach. Comparing our lives to the lives of others is a slippery slope of destruction for our confidence -- a path of self-deprecation that will eat away at us until there is nothing left.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Growing up, I never expected to be the guy that had federal agents tearing through my apartment.
I never expected to weep into my wife's shoulder as I confessed my sinful behavior.
I never expected to wake up in a concrete cell day-in and day-out.
I never expected to sit through a 12-step recovery meeting.
And most of all, I never expected, that if something like this were to happen in my life, that a few years later, I'd be extremely grateful for all of it.
Ellen Martin | @EllenMartin03
With Christmas coming up, it is popular to many to show acts of kindness towards others, donate to charities, etc. Most people know it is good to help others, but it is also what Jesus commands us to do all year round.
Matthew 25:31-46 depicts the final judgement of the world. To summarize the passage, Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats”. Jesus tells the sheep that they have fed, clothed, and welcomed those in need. This group of people asks Jesus when did they do these things, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV)
For the goats, however, Jesus says they did not take care of those in need. This group of people argues with Him (Matthew 25:44-45 ESV): “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Have you ever sat around the table on Thanksgiving, where everybody is going around giving a small list of things they are thankful for, and then it gets to your turn and you rattle off some generic stuff -- friends, family, pumpkin pie -- and then allow the next person to speak, all the while thinking to yourself that you really don't feel thankful? You don't feel happy? You aren't satisfied with the way life is? And as you listen to everyone else gush about the things that they are thankful for, do you start to feel like you're the only one who is unsatisfied?
Every day, a countless number of people on this earth make a decision based on the fact that they are unsatisfied. Some might seem productive.
"I'm going to start going to the gym because I'm sick of being fat."
"I'm going to go back to college and finish my degree, so I can get a better job."
"I'm going to make myself go to this singles event, because I need to meet someone! I'm tired of being alone."
I'm going to let you in on a secret:
NOBODY IS SATISFIED.
Not really. And it's only a secret because everyone wants to hide it.
Brian McKay | @RealBrianMcKay
I recently chose to skip church one Sunday.
I didn't have a valid reason. I mean, I was feeling confused about life, and in a way, maybe a bit discouraged. But that wasn't the main cause. I just didn't feel like going.
So, I stayed home. It was actually really nice. Usually, when I stay home from church (unfortunately, it happens more often than it should), I just play video games or something. I waste the time.
This time, though, I started listening to music, and I actually focused on the words. I listened to two songs, and in that time, I experienced one of the most worshipful moments I've had in quite some time.
I sometimes deal with doubts in my faith. I decided to listen to "Jesus, Use Me, I'm Yours." Those who know me know that I loooove Jason Gray. His lyrics hit me in a way that no one else's do. I listened to this song because I needed to speak its prayer: "I'm not much to look at, but whatever I am, I'm yours."