Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Withered Tree and Me

The past couple posts I have written have been a little heavy, so I am going to try and go easy on you all this week. Just a simple bible story. Nothing deep, maybe a little profound, but I will attempt to be gentle. The story of Jonah has always been one of those great redemption stories of a large body of people all coming to the knowledge and forgiveness of God the Father. Let's start at the beginning. It is interesting to note that we get no backstory of Jonah, only his father's name. So, God calls out to this man, a prophet. He gives him a simple task. "Go, do what you have been called to do. Travel abroad and tell people what you have told hundreds of people hundreds of times. That should be no problem, you do this all the time. Well, yes, the place I am sending you is THAT place. The place so full of wickedness and corruption that it has reached my ears. No, your going the wrong way. What are you doing? I said Nineveh, not Tarshish. That is not what I wanted" In case you missed it, here is was happened. The book of Jonah starts with the voice of the lord coming to Jonah, son of Amittai. "Go", He says, "to the city of Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." For some reason, Jonah decides he is having none of it and heads to Joppa to buy himself a ticket out of there. "Tarshish or bust". In comparison to Nineveh, this is pretty much the other side of Israel. Of course, God is not happy about Jonah's decision. So while Jonah is at sea playing go fish with some pirates, God sends a great storm that begins to rock the boat. Naturally, the sailors get scared and they begin to cry out to their gods, you know, the ones who have no power and can't even hear them. Jonah is sound asleep in the bunker of the boat and he is suddenly awoken by the captain. "Wake up, pray to your gods to save us from this storm". After an intense game of go fish, Jonah lost the hand and they all realized that it was because of Jonah that they were in this mess. So they interrogated him on who he was. "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land." This only made the seamen all the more terrified. "Throw me in," Jonah says," and the storm will be no more". So, up and over the edge, the crew throws him in the sea, and the storm stops immediately. Before the men have a chance to pull him in, a big fish, (some say whale, others aren't sure), swallows him up and he is gone into the depths of the sea. 3 long days and 3 long nights spent in the belly of this great fish. Naturally, this gives Jonah some pretty good prayer time. After a heartfelt apology, God commands the fish to upchuck Jonah onto dry land. Conveniently, right on the beach of Nineveh. So, Jonah does the smart thing and goes into the city. He tells the people that if they do not repent and turn from their sins, God would destroy the city. The king declares a city-wide fast and all the people repent. Then, Jonah leaves the city and perches himself on a ledge just outside the city. He wants to watch the action as God wipes Nineveh off the face of the earth. "Where is the fire and brimstone? Where is my explosion?" That's it. That's the whole story. we have no report of what happened to Jonah after he realized God wasn't destroying anything that day. Jonah is left on a cliff with his thoughts. God is gracious enough to provide shade for Jonah on this cliff side, but after a while of Jonah still waiting for doom and gloom on Nineveh, God sends a worm to eat the tree. With nothing left over but a withered branch of what once was. Sometimes, God will leave us on a cliff with nothing but a withered tree and our thoughts. It is up to us to either sulk in what did not happen, or prepare for what is coming instead.

Adam Semple- A Young Man on A Mission From God

Saturday, May 21, 2016

You Mad Bro?

"There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of Wonder, Mystery and Danger! Some say to survive, you need to be as mad as a Hatter, which luckily I am"- The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland

I don't want to say that Earth is as crazy as wonderland, but sometimes, it can seem that way. Nothing is as it seems and sometimes, nothing makes sense. If your not careful, it might make you a little mad, maybe a little crazy, at least to the people on the outside. you know, everyone not walking this path with you. At some point or another, we have all followed our own white rabbit down the rabbit hole, and are chasing him trying to find a way home. On the inside, we know home is at the end of this journey somewhere, but every being we come in contact with is trying to convince us that there is no real way home, just the queen's way home. Following the way that everything is supposed to go, rather than finding your own way. This can get tough sometimes, but don't worry, our rabbit is just around the corner, and He is never late. When you need him, he will show you a glimpse of himself, assuring you that you are not walking this messed up world alone. Of course, what is wonderland without Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. These are the characters you met whose only purpose is to confuse you as you travel. They don't understand your walk, and have no idea where they are going. With every new idea, they change their view and get confused when you don't change yours. Every word out of the mouth is one of things they have no root in, yet, they believe it with everything in them, and want you to believe it as well. Then there is the doorknocker. This is your opposition. "Your not small enough. Oh, now you are too big. Sorry, the door is locked, you can't get in. You simply don't fit in." Don't let this guy get you down. Alice is supposed to different in wonderland. We are meant to be different as well. See, not everyone you meet is on their correct path. They try so hard to fit in, that they change themselves to the point that they don't even know who they are anymore. They have lost their way. Wonderland is full of strange characters each who have lost their way in numerous ways. They have been told that what ever they what to be or do in wonderland is ok and anything is acceptable, as long as they stay off their way and stick to the way of the queen. You know it had to come. The Queen of Hearts. The ruler of wonderland. Everything goes her way, or "off with their heads". She plants ideas in the heads of the people until they are so lost, they don't know where they came from or where they are going. It is because they are so lost that the only thing they know to do is to try and get you off your path. It is hard to stay with a goal in mind to get out of the craziness, but as long as we have faith that our home is not in this world, we will always strive to get out, whatever it takes.
Wonderland is not our home, only where we are currently taking up residence. So don't become lost, stay on course and all will come clear in due time.

Adam Semple- A Young Man On A Mission From God

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I AM WHO I AM!

Then Moses said to God," Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me,' What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses," I AM WHO I AM." And He said," Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you. ' " Moreover god said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'- Exodus 3:13-15

 I AM WHO I AM. Here, God is further establishing Himself to Moses. Not for his satisfaction, but for ours. The children of Israel have been oppressed by Egypt for 400 years. Working tireless days and hard nights under the harsh ruling of the Pharaoh. They have lost all hope of freedom and have accepted that they were born in slavery and will die in the same manner. In this statement, God is laying a foundation for his character as a whole. In this situation, He is rescuer and redeemer. but this is not the only occurrence of God establishing himself as our everything. The book of John lays out 7 different forms of God's I AM.

I Am the bread of life... John 6:35-48
"I am the Bread of life. He who comes to me should never go hungry, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." Here, we see God as provider. Come and be filled, believe and be satisfied. When we come to the Father, he will always provide for us. Whether it be manna from heaven, or a gift from a friend, He always takes care of all of our needs, when we need them. not always when we think we need them. For his timing is always perfect.

I Am the light of the world... John 8:12, 9:5
"Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, 'I Am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.' " In this passage, we see God as our guide. When we follow Christ whole-heartedly, he will show us which way to go and what steps to take. He won't let us stumble and fall, but he will illuminate every obstacle in our path and lead us down the way He intends for us. And when talking about God's light, I am not talking about a little penlight, no the light I am referring to is a search light, that lights up everything in our way.

I am the gate... John 10:7
"Then Jesus said to them again, ' Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." God here is our gateway. This passage goes on to say that the sheep hear his voice and know it. Through him, we can come and go into the pasture of greener grass.

I am the good shepherd... John 10:11-14
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." Here God is our protector and warrior. Unlike a hired servant, who sees a wolf and because he doesn't own the sheep, runs and hides, the good shepherd will protect the sheep, even when it means laying down his own life for the sheep. Under the care of the worker, the wolf and come and scatter the sheep, but under the shepherd's protection, the sheep are safe from harm.

I am the resurrection and the life... John 11:25
"Jesus said to her, ' I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die. " I am...your redemption. When we come to the Father and believe in Him and follow his instructions, we will be saved. Even if we die in this world, we will live with Him in eternity.

I am the way, the truth, and the life... John 14:6
"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father, except through me.  I am the bridge. The structure between point A and point B. From Earth to Heaven. The middleman between God and man. No one can get there without going through Jesus first.

I am the true vine... John 15:1-5
'I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser." I am the gardener of life. It is in this passage that Jesus talks about good and bad fruit. God will prune the good branches and throw out the bad ones. As long as we stay connect to the vine, we will continue to bear much fruit, but when we become disconnected from the vine, we are no better than firewood that will be destroyed. Stay in God, continue bearing good fruit.

7 characteristics of God. 7 different ways that all come together in the form of one Being. And these barely even scratch the surface of all that God is. I encourage you to dive into the word and discover for yourself all the quality traits of our Savior and Lord, God the Father. The Bible is full of the different aspects of our Lord just waiting to be uncovered. GO find them.

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

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Same Song, Different Verse

"Jesus said to him,' You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it. ' Love your neighbor as yourself "- Matthew 22:37-39

Since the bible has been in written form, it has been translated and translated into hundreds of versions. whether by copying word for word, or by reading the word to several scribes who would record as they heard. It has been recorded into hundreds of different language in order to reach people who could not read it in its original text. But how often do we take this written word, and tell it with our own idea of how it should be interpreted? We will only give the portion of the verse that applies to us, and forget the rest. Sometimes, we do it so much, that it is almost as if we have each made our own personal version of God's word. We preach the good and ignore the things that make us uncomfortable. Without hesitation, we blast john 3:16, yet we struggle with Luke 9:23.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". This is perfect pulpit material. Don't worry, all you have to do is believe and you will be saved. No worries, no trouble, no problem, as long as you believe. Now don't get me wrong, this is a great verse, but what about the verses that say hardship will come for those who believe. "Jesus said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me". That doesn't sound very- don't worry, be happy, go lucky-life. Yet we forget to mention this verse when new believers come to the faith. We tell them, now that you believe, everything will be alright. But in mind, this is like comparing a parody version of a popular song by saying, its basically the same thing, just spoken differently. Eventually, everyone starts singing the parody and have forgotten the original version. The song's writer has become belittled because someone decided his version was not good enough, so they changed some things around and took credit for someone else's work. In the same way, when we take scripture out of context and only read what we want to, we belittle God's spoken word. We change it to fit our needs, rather than changing our hearts and mind to fit His. Don't get me wrong, sometimes, putting the word into a language we can understand is important. We can learn it easier and absorb it faster when we know what we are reading, as long as when it is translated, only the language has changed, not the content itself. I don't want to have my own version of the Bible specifically made to fit my needs. Instead, I want to read what was written by the prophets way back when, the way they wanted it read. I don't want watered down, easy-going religion that makes me feel good. I want the true words to be the only version I know and to live by those words. God's words. Not mine.

Adam Semple- A young man on a mission from God