Saturday, June 30, 2012

200th Post/Rebirth day Giveaway

It’s been a wild and crazy year on Manifest Blog.  I hit and miss several goals, and some are still in process, but my overall goal of growing in relationship with Christ and sharing what I learn along the way is still moving forward.  In fact today is my six-year rebirth day. 

Six years ago, I bent the knee and surrendered my life as a follower of Jesus Christ.  God audibly told me to “give up everything you love and follow Me”.  I sold everything I had and gave away what wouldn’t sell, and I haven’t looked back.

It’s funny because one of the things I loved that I got rid of was a large collection of books.  I had thousands of the things.  I love to read, but they had to go.  As a Christian I wasn’t really sure how to approach the issue of books.  In fact over the past 6 years, I can think of about 7 books (not including textbooks) that I actually purchased.  But my fellow believers have showered books on me over the years, which I have in turn tried to be faithful and give away when I finished reading them.

Now thanks to this blog, I have publishers shipping me tons of books all the time, and my little three-shelf bookshelf is starting to fill up.

So in honor of my commitment to give up everything I love and follow Christ, I’m giving away a few of my more recent reads:

The NIV Boys Bible

Just go through the Form below, enter by whatever means you want, and remember "Man casts the lot in his lap, but God determines the outcome" (Proverbs 16:33).  Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Obeying God

In our last Relationship Tuesdays we talked about God’s love, specifically God’s love for us inherent in the Gospel of Love.  About how He loved us so much to send His Son to die for us, not just so that we can avoid hell, but so that we can learn to love the way He loves: loving others and loving God. Love alone paves the way for a righteous life, as summed up in the big two commandments: Love the Lord your God, and love others like yourself.  And Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will obey His commandments.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the importance of obeying God in our relationship with Him.

I think a lot of times we get this mistaken idea of what obeying God’s commandments looks like.  We seem to think that if we go to church, pray, read our Bible, and maybe sing some songs that we’re walking in obedience, that we have a right relationship with God.  But there’s a lot more that Jesus tells us to do like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for widows and orphans, heal the sick, to just name a few.  The Bible is chalk full of things God has commanded anyone who claims a relationship with Him to do for His glory.

One of my favorite illustrations of the misconception we have about obeying God comes from Francis Chan in the Basic series, but here’s a video that sums it up with a transcript from the series below:

When my daughter comes to me and I tell her, 'go clean your room,' she's not going to come back to me and say, 'dad, I memorized what you said to me. You said to go clean my room!' because I won't celebrate and say, 'yes! That's exactly what I wanted!' no. And she's not going to come say, 'dad, I can say go clean your room in Greek.' because that's not going to fly. And she's not going to say, 'my friends and I are going to gather every week and discuss what it would look like if I cleaned my room.' None of that works. Just go and clean your room.

So why do we think that kind of teaching is going to work when it comes to Jesus?

In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.”  And then in John 15:10, Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you’ll abide in my love.” 

Nowhere does He say go and learn my commandments, and that’s how I’ll know you love me. 

So for the next few weeks, we’ll look at why actual, physical obedience to God’s commandments is such an integral part of our relationship with Him, and why obedience demonstrates love.  We’ll start with Obeying Our Father.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

S.E.E.D.S (Design Post)

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25

That’s the premise for the new Christian rap album S.E.E.D.S. by Canvas.  The description sums it up this way: “S.E.E.D.S stands for "Salvation Enriches Everything Death Subjected;" this album is one mainly to inspire the Christian that in Christ we have the power to redeem any and all spheres of life. God created all things good, but due to the fall mankind now perverts Gods' good creation. We Christians are now called to go out and redeem what was once lost. We are Seeds of the Seed, Jesus Christ.”

Canvas grounds all his verse in scripture, presenting the Gospel over and over in every song.  From the straight Gospel message in “Structure and Direction” to the exultation to lay it all down for Christ in the title track “S.E.E.D.S.” the lyrics continually point to Jesus. 

I labeled this a design post, because I worked with Canvas to design the cover of the album, so I admittedly have some bias here, but really it’s a great album, and while the best part is that it brings glory and honor to our great God lyrically, Canvas also uses his music to evangelize and gives away the cd for the sake of the Gospel.  I have to say it’s awesome to see a heart for Jesus shining so brightly in a dark world.

So I encourage anyone reading this, to go listen, get a free copy of the album, and if you’re interested in donating to the work of this awesome man of God, you can contact him directly through his twitter account: @davethedoulos

Enjoy the music!

Need design work, visit and see what we offer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Gospel of Love

In the last Relationship Tuesdays, we talked about Love and Sin, specifically how sin can be boiled down to not loving God and not loving others.  And when you really take the moment to think about it that makes perfect sense.  If you loved God, you wouldn’t want to hurt Him, you wouldn’t want to disobey Him, and you would want to cultivate your relationship with Him instead of tearing it apart or substituting it with knowledge or empty religion.  If you really loved others, you wouldn’t want to hurt them, you wouldn’t be selfish, and you would want to help them when they’re in trouble.

And the truth is we’re all in trouble.

We’re in trouble because we are not a loving people.  Humanity is not essentially good, not essentially loving, and we haven’t been since Adam and Eve took the first step of not loving God all those years ago.  Our natural inclination is to not love anyone but ourselves, aka be evil.  Now I’m not saying we don’t have our loving moments, but even our most loving of moments often hold selfish intentions lurking in the background.

But God can’t abide beings that are not purely loving because, as John 4:8 so aptly puts it, God is love.  He can’t watch them suffer without Him as they tear their lives and the lives of others apart, and so He introduced death into the world. 

But God also loved us too much to leave it at that, and so He sent His son into the world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God loved us enough to send His Son to die and be resurrected, so we too might die to our unloving natures, and He sent His Spirit to empower us so that we could be transformed to a point where those acts of love would not just be what we try to do but what we naturally tend to do.

That’s why John says, “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Notice that the verse doesn’t just say that He loved us first, but also “We love because”.  Conversely if we don’t love, we don’t know God’s love.  Check out the next verse: “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

But by God’s grace, we can love our brother and we can love God because grace isn’t just forgiveness; it is the favor of God in love that we might love Him, love others, and spend eternity doing so.  If this isn’t the outcome of the grace we think we have, chances are we don’t have it.  Everyday we ought to be increasing in love for God and others.  And that grace, while unmerited, is powerful and effective to accomplish it’s purpose within us. 

You cannot help but love if you truly know God’s love, and I’m not talking about a feeling.  I’m talking about action and attitude here.  Again refer to 1 Corinthians 13 to see what love is and isn’t.  You’ll notice nowhere in the “love list” does it say, “love is a warm fuzzy feeling”.  That warm fuzzy feeling makes people without Jesus do all kinds of unloving things.  Serial killers get the warm fuzzy feeling when they kill people for goodness sake.  Love ought never be defined by a feeling.  It should always be defined by action.

And that is why we can demonstrate the new love within us, given through God’s free grace, by obeying God.  Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15  Obedience is the ultimate act of love toward God, and it’s obedience with all our heart, soul, and strength.

Which is why our next topic of Relationship Tuesdays will be Obeying God.

Friday, June 15, 2012

8 Reasons to Not Worry About Money

The economy is a maze of twists and turns and ups and downs, and any one of us may find ourselves on the upside or downside, lost or wading through at any given point.  In those moments when it seems you’ll never find your way out financially, it’s easy to start to worry.

The Bible talks a lot about worrying, especially about money.  And if I were to sum up everything the Bible says about worrying about money in one word, it would be “Don’t”. 

This week's Proverbs and Wisdom article has eight reasons why the Bible says we ought not worry about money:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seal of God

I’m a guy, and as a guy I love a good action flick.  Nothing is better than getting a good taste of surrogate adrenaline without any threat of danger.  Good or bad that’s just how it is.

Chad Williams’ Seal of God was an adrenaline thrill ride I wasn’t expecting.  I’d say the first half of the book is about his life before Christ: a professional skater at fourteen, a sports fisher, a college failure, and then he gets the big idea to join the Navy and become a Navy Seal.  He trains for months with a former Navy Seal, who is killed in Iraq working for a private contract company, which only further fuels his desire to be a Seal.

The next quarter of the book relates in stark detail his training to be a Seal.  He was one of only thirteen who made it out of 173 candidates.  This is where the adrenaline sets in.  I don’t know if it was Williams or his co-author Thomas who spun that story, but I was riveted.  It felt like I went through Hell Week right along with him.  I even considered going out and running 10 miles just like the trainees, but then realized I’d probably die if I did that.

Then the book gets good.  Williams gets saved at a revival meeting, and he’s ostracized by his Seal mates.  No, ostracized isn’t the right word, he’s ridiculed, tortured . . . persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.  I was stunned.  These were Americans literally torturing a fell soldier because he didn’t want to go drinking with them anymore.  Crazy!

Williams starts preaching the Gospel everywhere he can from that point forward.  Great stuff!

I don’t want to give everything away.  There’s a lot in there, including some bits from missions he’s involved in overseas, but this is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher for review.  All opinions are my own.

1000 Days

Jesus walked this Earth for roughly 33 years.  We don’t know much about the first thirty years, other than that His birth was pretty incredible, and He taught the teacher in the temple when He was twelve, but otherwise life before thirty is pretty hazy, but then Jesus goes to John and gets baptized, and everything changes.  For the next three years or 1,000 days, Jesus starts teaching, preaching, healing, and transforming common people into world changers.

Those incredible three years related in the Gospels are the subject of Jonathan Falwell’s book: 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ. 

Falwell doesn’t necessarily talk about those three years chronologically, but rather organized by themes.  He begins each theme with a modern day story to engage the reader, and then relates the story to a teaching or event in Jesus’s three-year ministry.

Often times the Gospel is referred to as being simple much to the chagrin of the folks who write systematic theology textbooks, and I think Falwell would drive those folks crazy because 1000 Days is pure Gospel in its simplest terms, and I loved it.  I didn’t learn anything new and Earth shattering, but I was reminded that my Savior shattered sin and death and set me free.  I was reminded that Jesus taught us how to love and what’s important, and He did it in a way that was simple and approachable much to the chagrin of the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees.

Yes, 1000 Days is simple, but the simplicity of the Gospel is one of its most beautiful aspects.  There’s no work, there’s no special knowledge we need, no ritual, no fill in the blank.  The Gospel just says repent and believe; Jesus paid it all.

I definitely recommend Falwell’s book if you find yourself needing a reminder of the simplicity of the Gospel.

I received the book free from the publisher for review.  All opinions are my own.


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