Saturday, May 5, 2012

Enemies of the Heart

I recently just finished Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with Andy's book. It was previously released as It Came from Within, and during my last few years of high school I remember my youth minister using the video curriculum from it for some of our  Student Life sessions. In the book, Andy takes a look at four emotions (Guilt, Anger, Greed, Jealousy) and dissects them so that we can see just how destructive they really are. I'll admit that I never really took these emotions as serious as I should have, but after reading the book, I have a better understanding of them and now realize that the spiritual health of one's heart really does affect more than just a person's spiritual walk. Andy explains how each of these emotions work through a person's heart, bringing hardship and destruction on the relationships and people who are close to the 'infected' person. The 'cure' for these emotions include making a habit and practice of confession, forgiving, giving, and celebrating. I would encourage everyone who is serious about evaluating his/her heart's health to read this book. It's a fairly quick read and Andy writes in a way that's engaging, entertaining, and informative!

- Author's Website
- More Info
- Read Chapter One
- Author Bio

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Friday, May 4, 2012


Well, it's a little weird to say, and still a little hard to believe, but this past Wednesday was the final CSF Wednesday night of the school year. We had 42-43 people show up and it was a huge blessing. It's crazy for me to sit here and think that my first year in college ministry has already come and is one week away from going. This semester was full of joy, sadness, excitement, stress, ups, and down, yet it was all worth it. I truly think it is bittersweet that it's finally the end of the semester. I'm excited about the chance to enter into the summer season and speak at two camps, and prepare/grow for the next college school-year, but I'm also a little sad at the fact that four of my students are graduating next week and they are moving on to the next stage of their lives. I'm excited to keep in touch with them and hear about what God's doing in them and through them, and I pray that each and every day they will grow even closer to God than they already are!

This week I spoke on how as disciples of Jesus, we of all people, in fact we are the only people, who can and have good reason to rejoice whenever hardships and tribulation comes our way in life. I explained that trials can be divided into/seen in three categories:

1. Persecution/Hardship that comes from sharing the Gospel with someone and introducing someone to Jesus...
2. Hardship that comes from events that God allows to happen to test you...
3. Hardship that comes from events that God had nothing to do with but happened because we live in a fallen/broken world...

I'll briefly touch on the points that I made for each of these. First of all, if we are a disciple of Jesus, we are expected to share our faith with people. At the end of Jesus' parable of the sower, He said:

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Luke 8.16-18)

In his gospel account, John calls Jesus the light of men, who's so powerful that darkness can never overcome him. Also it is from this light, from him, that all live comes from. If we have this light, Jesus, in us, we can't keep it hidden. Just like you can't light a light and then stick it under a bucket, we who are true disciples of Jesus can't keep Jesus 'bottled-up' inside of us so that no one can see Him. Another scary part of this passage is the end. Jesus says that to those who have, more will be given and from the guy who doesn't have, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. This can relate to evangelism in a huge way! Those who have a real, personal relationship with Jesus in the end will receive more, which specifically is our inheritance of eternal life. Those who don't have that real, personal relationship with Jesus think that they have everything that they need. They don't want Jesus, because that would mean that they don't have everything that they need and they don't want to acknowledge it. In the end, every person is going to bow before Jesus. Some will do so willingly, some will be forced. It's in that moment that those who accepted Jesus, who have Jesus, will be given more, their inheritance. Those who never accepted Jesus, who don't have Jesus, the lives that they thought were theirs, will be taken from them.

Evangelism is an essential part to the life of a Christian, but it's not easy. You will run into hardship with some people. You might even be ridiculed or have to endure some trying times. But Paul gives encouragement for us.

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." (Colossians 1.24-29)

The reason we as Christians can rejoice when we suffer when we share Jesus with others, is because we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

The reason we can rejoice in our hardships whenever we experience the second category of suffering, is because God's testing brings about positive construction. Many people confuse this aspect of God. They see this as an area where the Bible shows contradiction, because they don't understand that testing and tempting are two completely different things. Testing is constructive, while tempting is destructive. Temptation leads to sin, which then leads to death, while testing leads to an accurate assessment of growth or progress, and shows areas that person has grown in and areas that a person needs to grow in. God's tests helps our faith grow stronger. Peter explains it well.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1.3-9)

We can rejoice in the trials that are God's way of testing our faith because we know He's doing it because He loves us and because it will help us grow. The third and final category of hardship that we face as Christians comes simply because we live in a sinful/broken world. Yet we still have reason to rejoice. I think Paul shares with us the reason why.

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.23-28)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?

                         It is God who justifies.

Who is to condemn?

                          Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right   
                          hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

                      Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or  

As it is written,
                          “For your sake (Jesus,) we are being killed all the day long; 
                            we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him (Jesus) who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8.31-39)

We have good reason to rejoice in every circumstance. Whatever the reason we might be facing a tough time might be, because of Jesus we have a GREAT reason to rejoice. I hope that you can get some encouragement from this and that you will remember these Scriptures the next time that you find yourself going through a really tough time. Well, I know it's been a long read for some people, but if you've made it this far, thanks for reading! =) I'm going to try to continue to post updates and stuff on here for you all about the exciting, busy summer ahead! I guess that's it for now! =) Until next time!