The Excitement of the Promise

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There’s always so much promise.  I remember vividly the day I told my parents I wanted to climb Mt. Rainier.  I was a wild eyed 8th grade houligan who marched into the house after a Spring day of classes, and told my mom I got invited to go climb this mountain.  First of all, I basically invited myself in the middle of math class that day, and secondly I had never hiked farther than around the block and I didn’t know a thing about mountaineering.  I could barely tie my shoes at this point in my life, let alone a climbing knot.  My mom shared this news with my dad later in the evening and he said he wasn’t interested in going, but my mom on the other hand, started to get a little fire in her eyes and she wanted to go.  After sometime, we got my dads blessing and my mom and I flew out to Washington to slog up Mt. Rainier.  We had no clue what we were doing, thankfully we were climbing with a Living Mountaineering Legend, and he led us to the top.  It was almost like a dream, being up there with my mom, I think this is one of the first times I figured out what it meant to be loved and to love others; at least a time that really stuck out to me.  The whole way down from the summit to high camp my mom was falling down and landing on her backside.  She did this over, and over, and over again until finally we rolled into camp way after dark.  As she kept falling I kept thinking “Wow she is doing this for me.  She’s falling and suffering because she wants to be with me.” This changed me deeply.  It gave me a deep love for my mom, the mountains, and I got a taste of God up there.  It was a turning point for me.

As I have lived life since this moment I have had to make decisions both in the mountains and in regular life, and I still get giddy about the promise, the possibilities, that exist when you are faced with something new.  I long and crave for newness- it’s part of my personality- exploring and creating just come naturally to me.  While routines and equations don’t come naturally to me- I’ll save these things for the smart people. Find out what you’re good at, what you love to do, and ask God to make you giddy about pursuing that.  Ask him to eliminate the fear that often holds us back and make the decision to trust him.  Don’t have a Bible study about it-just go do it.  When Jesus is at the center of your decision you can’t go wrong.  I want to be totally abandoned to Jesus like my mom was to me.  She didn’t sit around and think about the pros and cons of climbing Rainier-she just knew she wanted to have an adventure with her son, so she went.  Heck, just a couple of days ago my mom called me and said she wanted to run 50 miles in the spring-I told her she should really think about that one-but whatever, why not?  (I secretly hope she chooses not to;)).

Untie the lines, push off from the dock, and go be you.  God doesn’t have the crazy expectation for you to be someone you’re not.  He created you the way you are for a reason.  Tap into that and don’t be blown around by the opinions of others-most of the time they’re just as afraid to be who they want to be too.  I pray that we will trust him and rest assured that He has the best for us-a full and abundant life.

“We won’t figure out what’s sacred in life if we settle for what’s safe.”- Bob Goff

5 Lessons I have Learned This Summer

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We just have a couple weeks left in our 2014 season and it has been one amazing ride.  We have met hundreds of kids from all across America and I have learned lessons from each and every one.  Here are 5 of the lessons that I have learned from inner city kids this summer:

1.Being scared only lasts for a little while

The majority of the youth that come on our boat can’t swim.  For a non swimmer, a day of water sports is about the scariest thing imaginable, until they actually do it.  It’s funny how a square look in the eye, a confident tone, and a smile can push people to do things they never thought they could do.  The tubes have a way of bouncing smiles out of kids and the fear they had inside quickly dissipates as they gain confidence in themselves and those around them.  Life’s scary moments are no different.  God wants to show up, look us in the eyes, and through His smile say,”Go on, I got your back. Perfect love casts out all fear and my love is perfect”.  Trust Him day to day and in the direction He is pulling your heart.  It looks scary at the start, but once we hop on board with Him, it’s way more fun than we ever could have imagined.

2. Laughter Matters

Laughter builds friendships and knocks down barriers.  In cross-cultural ministry there are supposed to be a lot of barriers and walls.  When laughter is thrown into the mix all the walls come crashing down.  When you stick a bunch of kiddos on a boat, crank the music, and whip them across the water, laughter is thick in the air and the awkward tension that was there at the start goes away. God wants us to enjoy Him and to laugh with Him as He shows us who He is and what He wants for our lives.  He created laughter and one thing I’ve learned this summer is to enjoy this gift with Him and allow it be a shoreline in my life when I get lost or overwhelmed.

3. Pay Attention to the Little Things

I am awful at remembering names.  I usually just say “hey” when I’m trying to get a kids attention because I don’t want to offend them by calling them the wrong name.  Kids pick up on this and I quickly try to remember as many faces and names as possible.  Once I start to put the name and face together, and the kid notices,  a deep sense of pride and self worth is expressed through their smile.  It’s heart melting to watch a kid light up when you start acknowledging them.  God’s heart gets overwhelmed too when we recognize that He has never forgotten our name.  He calls us by name and He looks down at us with awe filled eyes that say, “I know your name..more importantly I know you I love you.

4. People Are Worth Everything We Have

We have heard some pretty heart wrenching stories this summer.  Ones that make me cry uncontrollably and make my heart want to do more to help.  Truth is we don’t know most of the stories of the people that come on our boat.  I do know that there is a common theme of sin and evil done to them, just like everyone else.  A lot of the time the evil done to these kids, or the evil they have seen, is way worse than most will ever experience. It breaks my heart watching kids walk through their hurt alone.  We as a team this summer have come to learn that people are worth investing in.  There are people out there that desperately need someone who cares; someone who will actually take the initiative to show them they are worth far more than they know.  If we choose to show up in peoples lives, care for those that everyone else has forgotten, lift up the down trodden, and most importantly point people to Jesus then we are doing far more than we know because we are entrusting their care to the Creator.  Abundant life is found in giving yourself away.  Once you taste this there is no going back.  Give till it hurts, give till you can’t give anymore, give people Jesus.  People are worth our whole lives, Jesus showed us that, not just the parts that are easy to give away or expose.

5. Love Even When It Hurts

You’re going to think this is a funny/light hearted analogy, but believe me, when you experience this you will know what I’m talking about.  We have had some cold days on the water.  Days where all I want to do is sit in the drivers seat with a sweatshirt on and never jump in.  These are usually the days where kids are begging me to go out on the tubes with them, or the days where a non swimmer is stuck off the back of the boat unable to swim back to safety.  It is a mental chore to layer down and jump in the cold lake, but I’ve learned that these are the most rewarding of days.  I’ve learned that loving people when you don’t want to do what they are asking you to do is one of the most rewarding things in life.  When I jump in the water on a cold day and scoop up a little rugrat in my arms their smile seems to make the water a tad bit warmer, and the situation doesn’t really seem so bad after all.  Jesus wants us to see this with Him.  Jesus wants to dive into the cold waters of our lives.  The places where we don’t want people to go because it’s too cold for us to go there too.  Jesus wants to scoop us up in His arms when we are in those places and take us back to the safety of the boat.  He will sit you right next to the heater, look you in the eyes, and with a big smile on His face say, “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.  You are safe with me”.

50 Miler is Dunzo

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On Saturday May 24th I ran a 50 Mile Ultra Marathon to benefit No Limits.  This run was one of the harder things I’ve ever done and it was definitely the most painful.  I could hardly keep up a trot or decent walking pace the last 13 miles and I ended up finishing in 12 hours and 30 minutes.  I got to learn a lot about myself during this adventure and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything…except maybe a nice steak.

This run is nothing compared to the hardships that many of the youth we will be with this summer go through.  Some of these kiddos are growing up in homes that haven’t been cleaned in years, drugs everywhere, no parents around enough to care, and no one around to cook or provide food.  These kids are on their own a lot of time.  This run is in an effort to show the kids that we meet this summer that we care about them and we will do anything to let them know this.  All the hard work, the runs, fundraising, buying and selling of boats, logistics and meetings are for them.  We want to make them feel loved not only by those around them, but we want them to know that God loves them in a tangible and genuine way.  God uses people as His hands and feet and I am so thankful to be apart of what He is doing.  Please help us inspire and love on kids this summer by praying for what we are doing and by giving financially.  We are $3,500 short of our goal and anything you give helps.  You can donate under the “donations” tab on this site.

“Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight” (2 Samuel 10:12).

50 Mile Ultra Marathon for No Limits

God has been doing some big things for the 2014 season.  We have over 700 youth coming out to our events this year, over 34 events, across 5 cities, in 4 states.  We are blown away by how God is using this ministry and we are lucky to be apart of what He is doing.  In order to meet the needs for this summer we need additional man power and finances.  The Lord has met our need of additional man power and blessed us with 3 new staff members: Olivia Horner, Chelsea Shera, and Josh Rice.  Check out the Facebook page to learn more about these three.  No Limits is lucky to have ‘em.

Our operating budget this year is $28,000.  Just like last year, these events are 100% free to those who come, and we have a decent amount of money to raise.  We have already been blessed with $8,000 and we need to raise $20,000 more.  To do this Hans Aschinger is running a 50 Mile Ultra Marathon on May 24th in effort to finish out the fundraising process for NLM.  There are No Limits to what God can do and with Jesus as our focal point we can’t go wrong when trying to glorify him.  We are asking you to join us as we make Jesus known to over 700 kids this summer.  We need you to be apart of the No Limits team and we are so excited to see what God is going to do.

You can either donate on the donation section of this website, or you can donate at  http://www.gofundme.com/8pu4m0

Thank you for your generosity.  We believe in what God is doing through No Limits.

 

Leveraging Your Life for the Gospel

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Yesterday I was at a meeting with a ministry partner in Denver.  Right before we wrapped up the meeting he said one statement that hit me hard:  “The ingredients for a nightmare are out in our communities.  What are you going to do to combat that?”  As I drove the hour back home I couldn’t shake what he said from my mind.  Looking back on this past Winter I see that I have been pretty dead spiritually.  In all honesty I just haven’t cared enough to make an effort to engage those around me and in my community.  I became complacent.  Sure I have done what I have needed to do for No Limits, but I haven’t really been loving people like Christ has commissioned me to.  For awhile the theme, “leveraging your life for the Gospel”, has been discussed between my mentor and I.  We both know that it is too dang easy to sit back and be a “Cultural Christian” instead of fighting for and bringing Christ to the hurting and desperate (which is all of humanity!).  To us it is just so easy to get caught up in the Christian “norm” which is go to church, read your Bible, get coffee with someone and spill the beans of your life, lead a Bible study, and all the other jazz.  This stuff is not bad.  It’s all (except the coffee part for me;)) pretty awesome stuff that leads to a lot of growth, but we stop there.  We choose to live the lives of “Cultural Christians” instead of actually leveraging our whole existence to the glory of Jesus.  Here’s what I mean.  As Christ followers we should be so consumed in the Gospel that our jobs, free time, salary, hobbies, and whatever else we may do, should all be tied together with the common theme of Jesus.  He should be glorified in all we do, and that’s how the world gets changed.  God’s Spirit moves when we lay ourselves down.  You don’t always need to do something crazy, like climb to the top of Mt. Everest and scream the Gospel from a megaphone.  Sure you can do that, but not many people are going to catch what you are saying.  “People hear what you say, and catch what you embody”- Aaron Stern. By the grace of Jesus I hope the people of this world encounter a glimpse of Heaven when they meet believers.  All of this only becomes a reality when we fall in love with Jesus; He’s the only one who can actually get this done, and the fun part is He uses us!

I fail at this constantly and it is my prayer that all of us will leverage our lives for the cause of Christ.  Don’t view it as some super depressing, thousand yard stare life-style.  In fact Christ says that we will have an abundant life and life to the full when we commit ourselves to Him.  Sounds like a pretty good promise to me, eh?  We are all invited to hang out with and follow Jesus in this life.  I say we actually go to the party instead of just posting the invitation on our fridge.

Stage Fright, Snowy Slides, and Lessons Learned

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It has been a year now since the idea of starting No Limits began brewing in my brain.  In all honesty, when I first felt called to pursue this dream, I was extremely, extremely, extremely scared.  I remember many nights when I would wake up and have panic attacks because I was fearful of what others in my life would think of my decision to drop what I was doing to pursue this calling.  There was a moment last year around this time in November when I was praying and asking God to give me strength and peace about what He was calling me to do.  As I was praying Mark 4 popped in my head.  The first verse in Mark 4 is, “Jesus began to teach by the lake”.  Can you believe that!?  I just started laughing as I read that because I knew it was God saying, “Hey kid, will ya trust me here?  I got your back.” I learned something that day that has altered my life drastically since: love has no fear.

God has made this the theme of my life since November of last year.  Time after time He has put me in situations, or shared stories through others that point back to having no fear about my life, and to abide in Him because He loves me and He is in control.

Lets take our minds back to January of 2013.  No Limits had just gotten off the ground, I was in the heat of fundraising for the upcoming summer, and I had no idea how to fundraise.  Up until this point the only things in life that I knew how to do was mow grass, walk up hills, and launch a boat (not much has changed since;)).  To try and figure out how to go about raising money I bought some cheesy book that had a step by step process on how to go about raising funds.  I read through the book, and by reading through the book I mean I looked at the diagrams that were drawn out every 40 pages or so, and I thought I walked away with a pretty good grasp on the topic.  I didn’t have a clue.  I met with my first supporter and driving to the restaurant to have the meeting I was playing out what I was going to say and going over one of the diagrams in the book that shared this simple format to meetings, “small talk, vision, needs”.  I totally botched the job.  I was so stinkin’ scared during that meeting that I avoided talking about No Limits for most of the night.  It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that I shared my vision and how I needed help to make it a reality.  The point being, I chose to be afraid for most of the night when all the guy wanted to do was donate to our cause that shared Christ with kids across the U.S.

I think the Lord was really trying to teach me to love others well and to be fearless because about two weeks later my world was rocked.  A couple of my good friends started up a program called Ascents of Honor.  The project is based upon integrating wounded veterans back into society through climbing.  We had the honor to go climbing with a veteran who lost his leg in an IED explosion in Iraq sometime ago.  This guy is absolutely fearless.  He has gone through so much in his life and the energy he brought to the team was life giving.  He couldn’t wait to get out on the ice and I couldn’t help but get excited by just listening to him.  The goal of the trip was to climb up one of the famous ice gullies in Huntington Ravine on Mt. Washington.  The morning of the big climb was cold, windy, and it was snowing…classic alpine weather.  I didn’t think anything of the conditions and the avalanche report we read earlier that morning was at the “moderate” level and we felt that it was safe to proceed with the climb.  We were moving slow as a team and the weather was getting worse, the winds were picking up, and the wind slabs on the climb were growing larger.  About a stones throw away from topping out of the gully I heard the word, “avalanche!”.  I saw three of my climbing partners, including the Hero whom this climb was dedicated to, fly down past me as I was engulfed in the wave of snow.  Those three men fell 800′ down the ice gully and luckily every one of them survived.  They were banged up, had broken bones, torn shoulders, and they were freezing cold.  Instead of quitting and waiting around for someone to help them they crawled for hours down the trail trying to get to help as they were communicating via a radio with the rescue service.  The other rope teams all were stopped by very lucky situations.  One teams rope was caught by a rock sticking off the face that was about the size of a coffee cup…all  three climbers were held by it.  The rope team that was at the start of the avalanche luckily only slid a little bit before the slide went over them, and the rope team I was on managed to self arrest.  It was a harrowing experience that will never leave me and I learned a lot from my teammates that day.

I tell this story for two reasons.  The first reason I share this story is to paint the picture of selflessness that defines the Veteran we were climbing with, and to secondly share the story of a climbing team who chose to risk everything in order to love this veteran and raise awareness for those who suffer from PTSD. This Hero didn’t have to go on this crazy climbing trip.  He chose to go because he wanted to raise awareness for PTSD and money for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation.  This man was willing to go into hardship once again to try and make a difference in the lives of fellow Soldiers returning home and the families of those who didn’t make it back. That’s love…and there was no fear in this guy. Andy Politz is the individual who started Ascents of Honor and although he will never say it or admit it, he is one of the most selfless and caring people you will ever meet.  Andy cares about people so deeply and he is willing to do just about anything to help someone who is in need.  Andy chose not to fear the process of staring up this program, he chose not to fear the challenge that was set before him, he chose not to fear the climbing, and he chose not to fear the love and commitment it was going to take to pull this project off.  This attitude and mentality that Andy embodies was contagious throughout this whole trip and I walked away with a deep understanding of what it meant to love fearlessly.  Loving people is not geared toward your benefit, it is geared toward the benefit of the one whom you are loving.  It involves sacrifice, hardship, pain, joy, and friendship.  This team was willing to put everything on the line to show this veteran and the world that we care for the Soldiers that are returning from war and we are going to do something about it.  I was just a climber on the team, I had very little to do with any of the project…but I left that trip so changed by the character of the men whom I had the privilege of climbing with that it redirected my entire focus on life and the ministry that God had called me to build.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

The only true love I have to bring to the table is the love of Christ.  It’s the only love that is strong enough to overcome the harshest of evils, the deepest pain, and the most challenging circumstances.  Read the prior posts on this website that tell stories of youth from this summer who met Jesus and chose not to fear anymore because the perfect love of Christ drove out all the fear they had.  His love is radiated through believers by the Holy Spirit.  If we choose to abide in Him, we choose not to fear, and when we choose not to be afraid anymore peoples lives around us are changed for eternity because we let Christ work through us.  This summer was full of stories of Christ breaking down walls of fear and instilling a sense of worth and love into the kids that participated in our events.  I am so thankful to be apart of the ministry of Christ.

The message behind these stories is to not fear.  I’ve failed a thousand times over at living this message out.  I have doubted, fallen short, or just given up because I chose not to trust Jesus with the situation at hand. I chose to fear instead of trusting in His perfect love that casts out all fear.  My prayer is that you will be encouraged by these stories and that you will learn from them as well.

Realize that when you are weak then you are strong.  I heard a former NFL linebacker once say that he asks God every morning to make him the weakest man possible so that He can be the strongest man in Christ.  It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to make us realize that we can’t do this on our own…the power of Christ is the only way to love fearlessly.

Holy Guacamole

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My heart races when I start to think of the incredible blessings the Lord has lavished on No Limits this summer.  To start things off I was so nervous in the middle of May that we might not get off the ground.  My doubts were completely shattered and the Lord did so much more than I thought was possible for our first year.  I have since learned to pray expectantly.

Our first season was composed of 9 events from Maryland to Colorado, over 140 people came through our program, and countless lives were changed by the Gospel of Grace.  This is amazing and I am so thankful for all of the opportunities the Lord put in front of No Limits.  The best part about being able to do all these events was to watch redemption and victory unfold throughout the day.

Let me tell you about a young lady named Diamond.  Diamond showed up to our event in Denver not wanting to do anything.  She sat far away from the rest of us and this look of sadness was across her face.  I went over to her and invited her to join the rest of us and she looked at me and said, “Why would I want to do that? Everyone over there is mean to me.”  I knew from that point on that one of my missions for the day was to make Diamond feel especially loved and welcome.  All morning she sat on the beach staring off into the distance.  At lunch time I went over to her with a box of cookies and we started to talk.  Besides her feeling unwanted from the rest of her peers, she was really scared to go out on the boat and in the water.  (In my mind I was thinking “oh boy am I going to change that!”)  After much convincing she went off to change into her suit and hop on the boat.  She had one condition: she didn’t want to do any of the water sports.  Diamond sat in the boat watching her friends get up on the kneeboard and wakeboard for about an hour.  Every 20 minutes or so I would ask her if she wanted to try to get up on the wakeboard…I got rejected every time.  About 15 minutes before we were heading back to the beach to switch to tubing I asked her again, she said no.  As I was driving back she came up to me and said she wanted to try!  This was huge.  All week long this girl had participated in a camp CRU was putting on.  She hated every part of camp and she was scared to do most of the activities, but now she was wanting to hop into the deep cold water of Chatfield Lake to try wakeboarding…she couldn’t even swim!  I could barely contain my excitement when she hopped in the water.  She was so scared and the minute she hopped in the water she said she wanted to get out, but I wasn’t going to let her off that easy!  We gave her 6 pulls and she could never master getting up.  She kept face planting over and over again and each time her smile kept getting bigger and bigger.  Diamond didn’t ever have victory on the wakeboard that day, but she had a huge day of victory in her life.  Diamond chose not be fearful anymore.  She gained the courage to go and try something new that was really scary for her to do.  She developed confidence and she felt love and encouraged by those around her.  She decided to have No Limits that day.  For the rest of our time together the tubes bounced bigger and bigger smiles out of her.  She heard and felt the Gospel that day and she left changed for eternity.

I praise God for countless stories like this that happened throughout the summer.  Along with inner city youth we also were able to put on events for military veterans that served our country in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Most of the veterans either suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or they suffer from a physical wound they received while fighting to protect both you and I.  Watching veterans with one leg get up on the kneeboard, or the adaptive ski was amazing.  They were all smiles and I was glad we were able to make them feel loved and give them victory in something they might have thought they could never do.  We were able to partner with the Wounded Warrior Project and TAASC of central Ohio to put on these events.  After each of the veterans events I always walked away the one most touched. These men and women are absolutely incredible and the courage and strength they radiate is contagious.  I alway left excited about life and thankful for all they have done and do for this country.

Overall this was the best summer of my life.  I was able to see God move in the lives of so many as well as move in my life is such incredible ways.  I am so thankful for all of the supporters that are apart of the No Limits team.  Peoples lives were changed because of you and for that and I am forever grateful.  We are already starting to plan big things for next year!  Keep our eyes on the lookout for upcoming posts.

For His Glory,

Hans Aschinger

Following the King

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In Matthew 16 Jesus predicts his death and explains to his disciples the suffering that He must endure.  After Jesus tells His disciples of this Peter says, “Never, Lord, this shall never happen to you!”,  Jesus replies by saying, ” Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns”.  After reading this I was shocked sitting in my chair.  I began to think what stumbling blocks I have in my life that prevent me from fully submitting to Christ, the list started to grow quickly.  There seemed to be a common theme to all of the “stumbling blocks” in my life, they were all were rooted in the fear of suffering and stepping out of my comfort zone.  When Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him for the prediction of His death, Jesus became furious.  He looked Peter in the eye and said “Get behind me Satan”, yeah, He was pissed.  Jesus knew that He had to suffer in order to fulfill the will God had given Him.

Jesus embraced suffering, He trusted that God would empower him with the Holy Spirit to give Him strength through the trials that He was going to face.  Jesus was obedient to God because He knew that God’s will was perfect and it was going to be filled with an eternal joy.  Christ’s obedience to God’s will changed the course of humanity, we are now able to have a relationship with the Living God through Christ, and our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus!  Suffering does result in joy!  In verses 24-27 Jesus says,”  Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

Make sure you understand the last sentence of this passage.  God will reward us for what we have done, we are not SAVED by anything we have done or will do.  Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and only by believing in Him and repenting of our sins can we saved.  I am praying that the body of Christ will rise up and follow Christ wherever He leads you.  Christ came to save and change the world!  He has empowered us through the Spirit to bring the hope and change He died for.  This requires sacrifice on our part, and a potential great deal of suffering in order to make Him known to the world.  The One who came and died for us is asking us to follow Him.  He promises He will lead us, provide for us, and empower us to fulfill the Great Commission, His Mission, to save the world. I pray that the Spirit will spark a fire in the hearts of believers world wide, that we will actually trust Jesus in all situations and make His saving Grace known to all people.  We have been entrusted to carry this out, the results are not up to us, but the deed of living for Jesus and sharing His story are.  I get so excited thinking about a world that is totally committed to Christ!  Everything would change, everything.  I beg you to take up your cross and follow Jesus, people’s eternities are at stake.  I am praying that all of us would be bold, grace filled, hope filled, and passionate about Jesus and His Cause.  Love you all.

Time to Change

There has to be a point in your life where you draw a line in the sand and say “enough is enough”.  There has to be a time where you step out into the threshold of the unknown and trust Jesus with your whole life.  Yes that means everything.  That means that you are willing to give up your personal desires, your “earthly” security, your pride, your money, your time, your friendships, your education, your car, your home, your food, your clothes, your EVERYTHING.  He meant it when He said that His followers “have to pick up their crosses daily”.  Do you realize that a cross is a devise meant to torture and kill?  Dying on a cross is one of the most painful ways to die.  In the words of climbers it’s a “sufferfest”.  What Christ meant when He said this, is that it is going to be hard to follow me.  It is not going to be easy!  He promises us that it will be the hardest thing we ever do in our whole entire lives, if we choose to follow Him.  He also promises that this will be the most rewarding, joyous, exciting, loving, adventurous, and hope-filled experience of our lives, if we choose to follow Him.  He goes as far as to say in the book of Ecclesiastes that doing anything apart from Christ means absolutely nothing.  What a claim that it is.  Everything that we do on this earth to try to gain security, wealth, fame, comfortability, and the like- if it is only for our own personal good- than it is absolutely, 100%, pointless, because it will someday all be gone.  You will be left standing before God with none of the things that you worked so hard to get in your life.  All the people you refused to talk to about Jesus because you were too “busy”, all the time you could have spent pouring into the homeless family across town, all the opportunities you had to help someone who has absolutely nothing, all the money you could have given to help someone eat, or the time you could have held the hand of that little boy at the orphanage and told him you loved him. Invest eternally.

Do you realize that there are people in the US who sleep on the cold, hard ground every single night, and most of those people are children!?  Do you realize that there are kids who are beaten and abused by their own family members on a daily basis?  Do you realize that there is a suicide attempt every 18 minutes because people don’t have the hope and the strength to keep living, and that there are over 2,150 suicide attempts on a given day!?  We as the body of Christ need to care about the things Christ cares about, we need to die to ourselves and give Him everything, so we can help save the very people He came to save.

This is not a peaceful time folks.  Christ did not come down to save humanity because things were going well and life was good and easy. No, He came to save a people dying from sin and from a life full of nothingness.  He came to bring real hope, real love, real healing, and real salvation.  Christ died so we could be free from sin and have a right standing before God.  He died to bring us a true and full life that can only be found in Him.

I have said this time and time again and I hear people say it all the time that are Christians, “I have the Lord, but I have just not been feeling close to Him lately”, or “I just don’t see God moving in my life”.  That is because we are not picking up our crosses, dying to ourselves, and taking the “risk” of following Him.  It isn’t even a risk, He promises an eternity full of joy, love, and peace, the only thing we are risking is our comfortable, easy going lives on earth.  We were made for so much more than just this life.

Men, the most courageous thing you do for the Lord should not be getting a bible verse tattooed on your leg, ladies, having a “quiet time” everyday does not mean you are dying to yourself.  He wants every single aspect of your life, because He promises that He will take care of us and give us a work that is far better than any worldly treasure.  Give Him everything so we, people who know Christ and have been saved, can spread His message of Salvation and Eternal love to those who have not yet heard it, and so we can fully experience the full glory of Christ in our own lives!  It’s a win, win, you see!

I personally can’t go on living for myself anymore.  I must, I have to, follow Jesus.  His promises are true.  He will lift you out of the darkest seasons of your life, He will heal the deepest wound that someone has given you, He will mold your very life into a life that radiates His glory, He will never quit on you or leave you, He will always hold true to His promises, and He guarantees that His plan is better than yours. Will you follow Him?  Will you allow Him to change you, and eventually the world through His mighty power that is in those who believe?  Christ came to change and save a world that was lost, and in Him, only in HIM, can it be found.

We, as a human race, are not here on accident.  Every single one of you was fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are cherished by the creator of the Universe and He loves you unconditionally.  You have a purpose.  You are loved.  Follow after Jesus, ask Him to come into your life to free you from the bondage of sin, and repent and acknowledge that you need Jesus. Then share the hope of Jesus with the world.  Things will change for the good in your life.  There is peace in the name of Jesus.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33.

Let’s do it.  Follow Him. Give Him your everything.  Care for His people.  There is grace. You are loved.

He promises He will be there every step of the way to empower us with the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have to do it on our own.

For His Glory.

A Call to Action

Child of Fallen Marine

“What hurts men the most is when they don’t have a vision that calls them forth.”  This is a quote I came across some time ago as I was going through a study called, “The 33 Series”.  The study is an in-depth look at what men were created to do on earth.  The essential question of this study is: “what is masculinity and what does it mean to be a man?”.  In today’s culture the definition of manhood has been warped and twisted into a definition that actually does not embody most of what a man is called to do. Manhood today is usually defined by what kind of car you drive, your job, how much money you make, how many girls you’ve been with, and the like.  Very rarely will you ever go into a bar and hear men talk about how they are leading their families, or the sacrifices they have made for others. Most of the time you will hear them talking about an insignificant stunt they pulled, their fake ID, how drunk they got last weekend, or what girl they got with recently. The definition you see over and over again in the Bible of what manhood is can be defined in one word: courage, and an ever increasing percentage of men these days are not being courageous for the things that matter most.

In Genesis 1 and 2 we see how God is a leader, a creator, and a cultivator; we also see that He has vision and that He takes action to make the vision a reality. This is the mandate that we see in the first two chapters of the Bible: create and cultivate.  So what does this mean? What are we called to create, and what exactly does it mean to cultivate?  The definition of create is: to bring something into existence, and the definition of cultivate is: to foster the growth.  We, as men, are built to create spiritual movements in our homes, communities, and in the arenas God has placed us in life.  We are not called to passively watch the world around us crumble and break, God has given us the Holy Spirit to equip us with His power to go out and give this world the hope of Jesus. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave lives in all those who believe in Him. The second part of the mandate is to cultivate. We are called to nurture and care for those around us and to finish the work the Lord has called us to create. Never quit.  My prayer is that men will step up and give Jesus their all, and fight for things that have eternal significance. Will you answer the call?

(I highly recommend engaging in the “33 series” study to dive deeper into authentic manhood.  Visit http://www.33theseries.com to learn more.)