Saturday, April 30, 2016

Death To Life

Winter. It's cold. It's dreary. No life anywhere. Granted, you might get a few glimpses of happiness, but most of the time, it is not pleasant. The birds have flown the coup and gone elsewhere, even some people have gone somewhere warmer. The plants have died for the season waiting for the season of new life to come back around. Sometimes, Winter seems to take forever to change and it seems as if things will never get better. But Spring. This second season of the year comes with rebirth and renewal. The birds come home. The plants spring up overnight and things become beautiful once again. Our spirits an souls go through these same kind of seasons. It might start out in the Fall. Cool and breezy. The walk is easy. The burdens are light. You are newly saved and everything is great. Then, suddenly, Winter comes in like a lion and you are knocked on your butt with every hardship this season has to bring. You begin to question what could have gone wrong. The trees you used to walk beside that were once full of color are now bare and empty of all life. You feel dead. What happened? Everything was going great. you were spending more time in prayer, even doing more and more biblestudy. But now, it seems like you are just going through the motions waiting and hoping that when spring comes, you will flourish back into the beauty that used to be. Yet winter continues to drag on, even the groundhog is still seeing his shadow, implying that winter has not reached its end quite yet. A lot of people don't realize this, but whether or not this rodent sees his shadow or not, spring is still on its way. It is not a thing that can just decide to stay away, but rather a natural cycle that comes around every year. Life begins to return to the dead places. Buried acorns begin to grow into mighty oaks, baby animals are born into the world ready to explore their area. People are refreshed with a new outlook on life. We must realize that in order to truly appreciate spring in its entirety, there has to be a hard winter where the old has died into to bring forth the new.  "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has died, the new has come."-  2 Corinthians 5:17. It is through these hard winters that the things in us that had no business being there, begin to die and are removed from our soil so God can plant in us the new things he has for us in our new season. 

"For to live is Christ, and to die is gain"- Philippians 1:21.   

"For I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." - John 10:10 

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,"- John 12:24.

We need to die, For God wants us to LIVE!!!!

Adam Semple- A Young Man On A Mission

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Is That An Oasis, Or Simply Just A Mirage

You see water right in front of you. It looks as if it is just out of reach. Then, as you go to quench your thirst, it disappears. Just like that, it's gone. Your relief has vanished. Life can feel like that sometimes. You walk through your desert hoping to find something to help you along the way and when it feels like it is about to touch your fingers, it is snatched away. We will all walk our desert at some point. Whether it is 40 days like Jesus' or 40 years like the Israelites, it is going to come. A dry period where you know where you need to get to, it is just taking a longer to get there then you originally hoped.
The song that comes to mind in times like these is from "Josh and the Big Wall" "We didn't have a lot of fun in the desert, we didn't have a lot of fun in the sand. But saddle up your cow, it's all behind us now, because we're going to the Promised Land."
The desert is usually not a thrilling adventure. Its hot, there is sand everywhere and it is dry. Sometimes, this is not just physical dryness, but also spiritual. You walk and you walk, but you never get to where there is refreshment. You pray and pray believing the promised land is right around the corner, but your mirage continues to disappear. There are times when you even find a real stream or a little shade, but then you continue to move on and the water dries up, the shade goes away and you are back in the heat of things waiting for another second of relief.
But don't lose hope. In no time at all, the mirage will become real and there will be a promise land oasis waiting for you. A land flowing with milk and honey and streams of real living water. The scorching hot heat becomes a cool refreshing breeze and life gets a little easier. Now I am not saying life will be easy, just easier. No more wandering, no more wondering. The land is there, you just need to walk a little longer to get there.

The desert is not always a bad thing. It was in the desert that Moses experienced the burning bush after almost 40 years in the desert. Here he got his call to be a leader of the people of Israel. From this desert encounter, he was given a plan to do what needed to be done, and given all the tools to do so. Then we see Jesus' time in the desert after his baptism. After 40 days, Satan comes to him and offers him the world, but Jesus refutes the devil's temptations and is later refreshed in the desert by angels.

So maybe this desert time is preparing you for your burning bush. Maybe God needs you in an isolated place in order to ensure that when he speaks, you will hear him. In a land full of distractions, God's voice can sometimes be hindered from being heard. A desert place might be the only way he can get your attention.

In your desert period, don't forget to continue to pray, continue to believe, continue to trust that God knows what he is doing. The oasis will come, just don't get disheartened with the fleeting of a passing mirage.

Adam Semple- a young man on a mission

*photo credit- Far Side Comics

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Salty Light

"I guess she took the whole 'be salt' thing literally", Said Lot to his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 to be the Salt and Light of the world. If you are not familiar with the context, this comes right smack in the middle of one of Jesus' most spoken of messages, the Sermon on the Mount. This is the sermon that lays out the Beatitudes, or plainly, the Blessed people message. You know, blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers, the pure in heart and so on. Right after this segment, Jesus says this, "you are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled by men". Ouch. Salt is a natural flavor changer. Salt can turn bland fries into beautiful pieces of finger food that most have grown to love. but if it loses it saltiness, what good is it? How can it be made salty again? When we become born again Christians, we are made salty. Christ is alive in us, and we are preserving his name with our saltiness. But over time, we get watered down and diluted to the point where we only kind of go through the motions and are not being effective in the kingdom. We are no better than a regular grain of sand. Thankfully for us, God's love and mercy and grace is new for us everyday, and when we decide to switch from mundane to purpose, we are made salty again. We can go about life with new fervor and gusto. Have you lost your saltiness in your every day life? Maybe its time for some new flavoring.

Jesus continues this passage with this," You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in Heaven" Being light is a big responsibility. If you are on a dark trail, surrounded by trees, what helps you find your feet and get you to where you need to be? A flashlight. And the brighter the flashlight, the more clear your path will be. We are the be the same in this world. It is a dark world that we live in, and the world needs a flashlight to find their way. We must surround ourselves in the true light and through him, the world can see where they need to go. Without the light in us, the world will stumble around forever until death. They need us to be connect to the power source in order to extend the power out to every corner of the world and when they connect to the light, it will continue to spread until the whole world is covered in light.

Stay Salty, Shine Bright.

Adam Semple- A Young Man On A Mission  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

You Can't Fix What Is Not Broken

You have probably heard the phrase, "Don't fix what ain't broke". You know, if a way of doing things is working, why change things. But what if you only think it is working, and you require a breaking to truly see the problem? What if life is going good in your eyes, but suddenly, everything falls apart and you realize the issue that has been at the center the whole time? Imagine this. A kid climbs a tree, falls out and breaks his arm. The doctors tell him that in order to fix it, they have to reposition it so that it heals the way it should. They warn him that this adjustment will probably hurt for a little, but in the end, the bone will heal properly and it won't be a burden to him down the road. Now imagine the boy decides he has already gone through enough pain in his body to have to endure more, so he tells the doctor to not do anything, just put it in a sling and send him home. Overtime, the wound will heal, but it will never be the same. Years down the road, this boy will more than likely have to rebreak the bone in order to do the alignment that should have been done then. So instead of a little pain then, he will have to go through more pain now to reset the bone back to its perfect place.
This type of scenario lines up to what many Christians go through or have gone through. Some of the most well-known Christians and Evangelists had to endure a breaking point before they even began their ministry.Look back on the life of Paul. Before he was an evangelist, he was the guy who dragged people out of homes because they professed the name of Jesus. He had signed papers from the pharisees to wipe out as many people as he could find who did not believe as he did. They, FLASH. A light from Heaven shone all around him and Jesus himself spoke to him to change his mind. After 3 days of blindness, Paul was a new man who won thousands over to Christ. Don't get me wrong, his healing did not happen overnight. After his conversion, the disciples were skeptical, with good reason. Here, in the living room, was the man who shortly before had been killing the believers was now saying he was a changed man who fought for the cause, rather than against. Because of his backstory, He went on to be one of the greatest evangelists in the whole New Testament. What would have happened if after he received his sight, he continued back down the path he was formerly on. We would not have even half of the NT, and countless Christians would not have even been. I have heard it said that the most dangerous phrase in the Human Language is, "We have always done it(insert whatever "it" is) this way". Do you realize how scary that is? People can be so set on their ways and their traditions that have held for centuries, that they don't realize God has something way better for them. Paul might have gone on to become a great Pharisee, making martyrs of "The Way", but where would that have gotten him? He would have become a name lost in history as merely "an okay guy". Instead he is one of the best known person in all of Scripture. All because he realized he was broken and only God could fix him.
Have you hit your breaking point? Life seemed to be going just fine, then it quickly shifts to total disaster in a matter of moments. It is here that God wants to step in, realign somethings, and put you on the path of new healing. Yes, it may hurt. And yes, it will probably be uncomfortable. But it will be so worth it. You might not like the person you see when you are broken, but when God is done, you will look back on yourself and see a new person, one who is stronger because of the break, rather than the same person you were before you realized you were broken.
The time to be broken is now. The season for fixing is soon upon us. Endure the pain of the break now, and the healing will be so much more rewarding.

Adam Semple- a young man on a mission  

*photo credit-

Saturday, April 2, 2016

In The Fire

"I'm Rack I'm Shack I'm Benny
We work here in the plant. We'd like to take a break, for goodness sake, but Mr. Nezzer says, you can't. We all need a vacation. Our schedule is severe We're getting very tired but stopping gets us fired, so we'll have to stay right here." - Veggietales- Rack, Shack and Benny

If you were a Christian kid in the 90's, you have probably heard this song and can still sing all the lyrics. If not, this song is from the Veggietales adaptation of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego up against Nebuchadnezzar and his fiery furnace. If I had to pick a favorite bible story from scripture, this one would definitely be near the top. This story is about 3 men who stood up for what they believed in, even in the face of death. Again, if you have seen this show, there has probably just popped into your head another classic song. "Stand Up, Stand up. For what you believe in, Believe in, Believe in God. He's the one to back you up. He'll stand with you." Don't deny it. I know you are humming along to it right now. 

Let me lay out the context for this story before I get completely off track. The story begins in Daniel chapter 3 with Nebuchadnezzar deciding to build a grand statue made of gold, standing over 90 feet tall and 9 foot across. "And the herald proclaimed aloud, 'You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of instrument, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the burning fiery furnace'. Side note, did you catch that the herald included bagpipes with the other instruments. This King is not messing around here. Anyway, the music plays, the people bow and begin to worship. Except for 3 Israelite dudes. You guessed it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Well word gets to the king that these 3 guys aren't bowing. Naturally, Nebuchadnezzar is furious. So he commands his men to bring them to him. The King tells the men that he will give them another chance. He will have the music play again, and they can then bow and everything will be forgotten. But the young men won't stand for that. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it. But even if he doesn't, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Talk about faith right here. These men are walking into this fire with the full belief that God will save them, but they also know the importance of standing firm on their beliefs, even unto death. Even if He doesn't.... No matter what the king can throw at them, nothing will put doubt in their hearts that god will not come through for them  
So the King decides to test their theory and he commands the fire to be heated 7 times hotter then normal. His men tie up the men and he tells his strongest men to push them in. The Fire is so hot, the kings men are burned up in a second while Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are pushed inside. After the shock of seeing his men burnt to a crisp, Nebuchadnezzar looks into the furnace to see not only the Israelites walking around, but there is a fourth "Son of God" in appearance man with them. Realizing that the men have not been affected by the fire, he calls them out of the furnace. The soldiers examine the three men and do not even smell smoke on their clothes, which, by the way, were not scorched in the least. Nebuchadnezzar realizes that it was the God Almighty who saved these men. "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. who sent his angel and delivered his servants, and trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god beside their own God.

The life of a Christian is one that brings many fiery furnaces. Is your faith in the place it should be to be able to endure those flames? Standing up to the King will not be easy. But believing through will always be way more satisfying. 

We still serve a God of the Even If... A God who asks us to trust him, even if things don't go like we hoped. Who asks us to give up our life in the face of death rather than serving something else. Are you ready to trust God through life's Even If's... ? Let us take a stand for what we know is truth and let nothing hinder us from serving God with all that is in us.

"When you don't move the mountains, I needed you you to move.When you don't part the waters, I wish I could walk through. When you don't give the answers, as I cry out to you. I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You."- Lauren Daigle- Trust In You

Adam Semple- A young man on a mission from God.

opening from Veggietales- Rack, Shack and Benny