January 30, 2011

The Game of Life...Not a Game

   If my brain was the ocean, it would be stirred up in a bad storm. I think too much. Everything from school assignments being due, paying my bills, figuring out what college to go to, how to get into youth ministry, getting a wife, raising kids, you get the picture. Perhaps I think a little too much, you know? It's tough though. I'm now at an age where everything I've ever dreamed about being a "grown-up" is becoming a reality. I have a car, a job, an education that somehow (I believe because of God) I'm able to afford, and now, lately, I've been thinking about the rest of my future. Where is God gonna place me with the ministry He has called me to? Am I ever gonna get married? Will I raise kids at some point in life? I would love to see my future, yet I'm glad I don't. I'm sure it'd be a scary thing to see at my age. Seriously, my life is slowly unfolding. I'm beginning to see the greater things God is doing and it's pretty mind-blowing. I'm afraid of what might happen in the near future. Decisions are gonna have to be made and I just hope with His guidance that I make the right ones. I've been thinking about going to a Bible college to continue my education in Biblical studies. I found a Bible college that actually has online classes, which would allow me to keep my job and still get my AA degree in pastoral leadership (where I think God is leading me). I may have to sacrifice a lot in order to follow Him. What or who will I have to give up for His sake? Only time will tell. I just hope I have people and friends sticking by my side through it all :) As Gandalf the White says, "The board is set, the pieces are moving". That they are....

January 29, 2011

Make HIM Your Life, Not Part of It

   So many thoughts are surrounding my head lately. I can't entirely grasp what God is doing. He's been in the work the past few days, but I don't know what He's up to yet. One thing I notice in my relationship with God is this: I never really see how everything turns out and what God is doing until I look back. I mean really, do I understand how everything is working together in the moment? Not at all! Until I see the "finished product" (meaning the outcome of things), only then does everything make a little more sense than before.

   Right now I'm trying to balance my priorities in life, namely: Jesus, others, myself (That's a good definition of true JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself). It's quite tough because at times, Jesus starts to slip from the top of the list to like number 2, and number 2 becomes number 1. And that's not how I want it to go. I've learned the hard way where that leads. Although, I had a new concept introduced to me recently. I believe it was David Platt who said that our lives shouldn't be consisted of a priority list with Jesus first and everything following after that; Jesus should be our everything, encompassing every aspect and person in our lives. He shouldn't be placed on the same list as our friends, family, gifts, etc. It shrinks Him actually. So now, what I want to work on is making Christ my all in every part of my life. In fact, He shouldn't be a "piece of the pie" in our lives, but the pie itself! It's tough, but I know it's worth it in the end! :)

January 27, 2011

Another Day Lived, Another Day Learned

    Life never fails to throw curve balls at me. I'm not saying curve balls are bad, but it just can catch you off guard at times, that's for sure. So I've been thinking lately about my future in youth ministry and got some advice from my pastor, which was pretty tight! I'm just excited about getting in ministry, but I wanna make sure that I'm really and truly prepared for the "real world", so to speak. God still continues to form me and lead me to where I need to go. He also answered a prayer today; a prayer I thought that would never be answered, at least in the way of how I was hoping for it to be answered. Sometimes what we desire to do or have happen falls in line with God's Will. It doesn't mean everything we desire is God's Will, it can just coincide with what He's going to do. The past few months I've been maturing like crazy and it can be scary. But I see it more as an adventure than "horrible". I believe God is up to something right now and I'm just gonna pray and see where He goes with this. The roller coaster of life continues to reveal its twists and turns, but it's not so bad. All I have to say is: I'm so thankful for friends :)

January 24, 2011

Where God is Working, Opposition Makes Its Way

    Getting more knowledge of God, His Word, and sacrificing everything to follow His calling in my life; growing in my relationship with Him more every day; talking to Him and receiving His responses in His Word and through other believers does not make Satan very happy. The more I've been desiring God and His Will for my life, the more Satan likes to come in and discourage me. I knew this would happen at some point because Satan can't tolerate when any believer is getting closer to God. I'm not saying I'm better than anyone because I'm growing in Christ and giving up things and risking my life for the ministry He is calling me to. I'm not! I never consider myself better than anyone, especially when it comes to faith in Christ! And never get that idea about me. I admit that I've thought that about other believers who were so on fire for God. And I'm not proud of that. Experiencing what they experienced has changed my mind about the many believers I have judged ever so wrongly! I'm stepping out of that mindset.

   So, as I was saying, Satan has been putting attacks on me now and it's pretty easy to tell when it's him. Jesus said that the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. If you experience discouragement that is draining you of your passion for God or your life in general, that's probably Satan trying to drag you down. He wants to kill the relationship you have with Christ and he wants to destroy it! That's his mission. The further you are away from God, the less Satan will attack because why would he waste his time on someone who isn't a threat to him? On the other hand, if a believer in Christ is continually growing in Him, Satan feels threatened because he knows God is going to use that person greatly to spread the Gospel, and he can't tolerate that! Pastors, missionaries; anyone in some sort of ministry that is advancing the Gospel and God's unconditional love to the lost people of this world experience more spiritual warfare than those who aren't living their lives completely to Christ. That's what sometimes makes me afraid of getting into ministry. I know Satan's attacks are going to be prevalent. But even though Satan is stronger than me, God is stronger than Satan! I have nothing to fear with God by my side! If God is for us, then who can be against us? Spiritual warfare is as real as your hand in front of your face. It's not a ploy to keep Christians in check. It's reality. And ignorance of that is the first step for Satan to take in order to bring you down. I'm gonna rely on God and His truth! Pray for me...the changes God is making in my life can be scary sometimes because I know I'm setting foot on a risky path that God is in control of. I'm trying to get used to it as much as I can. It's real. It's happening. It's God!

January 23, 2011

Being Molded

This week I finished all of my class assignments a day before they were due, haha! Which meant I had one good, free day to spend doing whatever. So today after church, I had the desire to go out to the beach, even when it was pretty chilly outside. So I drove out there and there weren't many people even on the beach, which was nice! I don't really like suffering claustrophobia with too many people around :P The weather was actually much nicer than I expected. It wasn't as cold, but it was slightly breezy which made it kinda chilly, yet bearable. It was definitely a nice day for the beach and, of course, I spent my time there admiring God's awesome creation, thanking Him for everything He has blessed me with, and talking to Him about my future and what He's currently doing in my life. I knew He was listening; I had peace within me that was too amazing to be from myself. If I could describe in just one word the changes and works God is doing in my life, I would say "transformation". God is totally reshaping my heart, desires, and passion. I know I'm being molded into the person He wants me to be. He's the Potter and I'm the clay. And really, I've been excited and filled with complete joy over many things in my life, but I tell you this: I have never been more excited or more joyful than completely following God's calling in my life! I seriously cannot even begin to explain the joy to you! I hope that many of you will be able to experience what I'm experiencing, but until then, I'm gonna sound like a broken record; repeating and repeating and repeating... I can't control the joy, and frankly, I don't want to! God is awesome and I'm changing every second of every day and I'm totally ready to get out and start doing what God is calling me to do! I'm willing and ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of following Christ! :)

January 22, 2011

Are We Willing?

Chew on this question if you will: What are you willing to sacrifice for following Christ? That question is painful in a good way. It just cuts right to the throat. I've been consistently asking myself this question for the past two days and I have to admit, the answers were very convicting. I never knew that meditating on such a question could be so painful yet revealing at the same time. What am I willing to sacrifice for following Christ? Oh my goodness! There's a difference between knowing the right answer and knowing your answer. Sure, I know the right answer is everything. But is that my answer? This question, so easily stated, has been really eating at me because I know that in my heart, I want to hold on to things that I desire to have in my life and follow Christ. But it just doesn't work that way! Following Christ isn't about having luxuries because we're serving Him! In fact, it's the opposite: following Christ invites difficulties, hardships, even uncomfortableness (and yes, that's a real word). I don't say this to scare any born-again Christians off, I say this because it's reality; it's what following Jesus Christ is all about! Now I'm not saying that everything bad is always going to happen to you and your family if you follow Him, I'm just saying it's not going to be always peachy and comfortable. Just look at the New Testament, particularly in Philippians chapter 4. The apostle Paul says this to the believers at Philippi, "10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through Him (Christ) who gives me strength." Paul is in prison writing all of this and these are the types of things (and it only barely scratches the surface) he dealt with because of his ministry for Christ. He had a tough life, but he was so happy to live it! To him, it was amazing! It wasn't always easy, yet it wasn't always bad! He literally gave up everything to follow Christ! The problem is, there doesn't seem to be many willing Christians nowadays who are willing, much more, actually giving things up for the sake of following Christ. I'm battling this proposition set before me by God. Am I willing to give up and sacrifice everything for Christ? Am I willing and ready to sacrifice, friends, family, a job, a car, comfortable living, and dating? Am I willing to give it all up to serve Christ whole-heartedly? I'm getting there. He is more and more placing this passion on my heart every day! In fact, people will probably look at me and say, "Dude, he's crazy! He gave up everything for nothing!" But would it really be for nothing? Absolutely not!

    So right now, even as I type this, I'm giving up the possibilities that this world could give me (notice the word "possibilities", meaning that it's not certain) for the wonderful things God can and will do through me! I'm bubbling inside with this extremely crazy passion of being in youth ministry and following God into a mission field that deals with the next generation of people, yet I feel like everything is at a standstill for the time being. Perhaps it's the calm before the storm? I don't know. But what I do know is that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God is leading me into ministry! Some may leave me for this reason and some may join me, but no matter what, God is leading and in charge of it all!

What are you willing to sacrifice for following Christ?

January 20, 2011

So Much Happened, Much More Will Happen

So today I went to work and kept myself mighty busy! I had lots to do and it sure passed the 5 hours I needed to be there. And the cool thing is, even while I was shelving or packing up items to be shipped to other libraries, I still talked to God through it all! I like that there is no set formula or ritual on when or how to pray to God (although unfortunately it is done these days). I went to Arby's tonight with my sisters so we could use some gift cards we got from our grandparents for Christmas. I liked the one sandwich I had (the "All-American" roast), but the other two (some roastbeef sandwich with melted cheddar cheese) wasn't worth my stomach's time :P What I've been doing lately is setting my mind more and more on God and the things that matter instead of my mind always being set on the things this world offers, which most of time are petty things that waste my own time. It's hard to do 'cause our human nature desires the things this world offers, but I know that what God offers is what is good and best for me instead of what I "think" is best. And I've also been trying to have a much more positive attitude with the way situations and circumstances turn out. Sometimes they are negative (or at least what I perceive to be negative) when really God is doing something greater and better! I only know this because He has done this on multiple occasions and I only see the greater reasons for the happenings when I look back at how I even got to where I am. Then I appreciate the work God did and what He will do in the next situation. And lately, I've been going through some confusion and emotional strain (and I don't think stress helps). Sometimes, I just don't know what is going on anymore. I know God is up to something greater, but what exactly is that? I don't know. And perhaps I won't know for a while....uugghhh...I hate patience. Well, I guess I have no choice but to utilize it :P "Don't Waste Your Life" is an awesome book! I'm reading it yet a second time and it's so revealing! My number 1 passion is for teenagers and their walk with Christ. If they're already believers, then I desire to see them grow in Christ more (myself included). And if they're not already believers, I desire to see them come to Christ! And then grow more in Him! Like really, it's a desire, the same way I get when I have free time on my hands and I desire to play some Halo on Xbox. Same deal, lol! But seriously! I know I may be a repeat when it comes to sharing how or what I feel, but...well...it's how I feel! And maybe there's a reason why I repeat it. I'm just excited about the work of God in my life and I LOVE sharing with people! And hopefully someone is reading this and being blessed. That's what I'm aiming for. May God be glorified through these writings! :)

P.S. As you can all see, I like to update this blog like everyday! Soooo, if you're reading these, check everyday, preferably at night 'cause that's the time when I like to write :) And I know I'm kinda random when writing, but you know what? It adds spice ;)

January 19, 2011

Being the Story

So last night before I went to bed, I wanted to have a quiet time of prayer and meditation with God. I just talked about anything and everything on my mind. That's what is so awesome about a relationship with Jesus: when you pray, it's the same way you would talk to any of your friends. I mean really, would you go up to your best friend and say, "Dear 'So-and-So', thanks for coming over and hanging out with me. I hope we have a great time...", I think you get the point. But no, you wouldn't interact with your best friend in such a robotic way, you say things like, "Hey man! What's up? Let's go eat somwhere...", and that's the way we can interact with God; merely talking to Him, hanging out with Him, telling Him what's bothering you or what you're excited about. That's a relationship and it's pretty amazing! So last night, that's what I was doing, just talking to Him. And then I asked that He speak to me something, anything, any kind of message that I need to hear. What the message would be, I don't know, it's up to Him. See sometimes I don't know what to ask to hear; in fact I think asking God to speak something, even if it's something you DON'T WANT to hear is the way to go. Lots of times, what we don't want to hear is what we NEED to hear. So after praying that, I opened up the Bible and used the devotional "Our Daily Bread". And no, "Our Daily Bread" isn't for old people, there are some amazing things God has spoken to me through that devotional. I encourage any believer to try using any kind of devotional for their daily walk with Christ 'cause it isn't easy to figure out WHAT to read in the Bible on your own. The guidance is always a good thing to have :) So last night's devotional was about "writing a book". The passage was Jeremiah 31:31-34 and the accompanying passage, which was basically the main passge used, was 2 Corinthians 3:3. This passage talks about how as Christians, our lives are supposed to reflect the life of Christ in such a way, that people will see Jesus when they see us. The author also explained how when someone writes a book about life or aspects of life, it doesn't really matter what he or she says if it's not being actually LIVED out by the author as well. So I thought about that last night and realized that this is one of the reasons why this blog exists for me; it's to be a blessing to anyone who reads it because what I am writing is what I am living. I am not making any of these things up; it's how I think, it's how I live, it's REALLY what God is doing. As I said to someone, "Why should I experience what God is doing in my life and not share it with others?" You never know how what you might say or do or what you experience can affect someone else; even change them. I am not trying to draw attention to myself, but only to God and His awesome nature. And my prayer every single day is to live my life where if I was a book and someone was reading it, they would see Jesus within the pages (from "Our Daily Bread). So I don't just want to have a story, I want to BE the story!

January 18, 2011

Perhaps some of you wondered where in the world I came up with the title "Just Passing Through" for my blog name. Well, here is what it means: the life I have here on this earth is only a stop on the trip to the main destination. Heaven is ultimately where I will end up when I'm through with this life. But for now, in this life, I'm just passing through. Which brings me to another thought. A lot of people, unfotunately even Christians, get sooooo caught up in what this life offers that their eyes are averted from the real reason why they're even here; why they exist. That's a big danger and one Satan takes the opportunity to use against us. I, along with many others, struggle with idolatry. Some may say, "Well I don't bow down to a statue of any kind", but that doesn't matter. Idolatry is having another god before the true God. Whatever it is we treasure above anything in our lives is an idol. This is a HUGE lesson God has been teaching me of late. I'm so thankful and grateful for the many things God has provided me with and the people he has brought into my life, but the thing is...my heart, over time, went over to the gifts He gave to me, causing me not to acknowledge the Giver. And He sure showed me how much control He is in. He took one of my gifts from me; a gift I thought about all the time and even treasured above even God. That's where I made the mistake. And sadly, I actually realized I was falling into idolatry at the time, but I figured He would help get me out of it....I was wrong. In order for me to change, I have to be willing to and actually put forth effort into seriously changing. But I wasn't doing that. So I had a huge wake-up call and now I'm gonna respond; I'm a little late, but I'm still gonna respond. Fortunately, and by God's grace, He didn't entirely take this gift from me; He only...changed the circumstance. But I'm not complaining, I'm thankful for what happened, for who knows where my heart would have ended up if He didn't intervene. So for the past few months, I have had a strong desire to get right with God; back to where I was before the many recent blessings entered my life. And it's been amazing!! One thing God has laid on my heart, is the passion to show teenagers how amazing God is and to turn their eyes from the petty things of this life that they put pretty much all of their focus on. Especially in Christian teens. This world has become so materialistic that God is starting to fade from view and it totally pains me (and really, my spirit is in complete anguish) when I see that happen. With that and other happenings in my life, I know that youth ministry is where God is calling me. And more recently, I've been seriously considering maybe pastoring. I don't know yet, I'm still praying a lot about it. But just knowing that I'm 19 and I'm really excelling in college and now that I have SO many new responsibilities in my life, I know I have to start thinking about what I'm going to do with my life. Well actually, what God is calling me to do in my life. I mean even marriage is more on my mind (I'm not saying I'm planning on geting married in the next year or two, but I take dating VERY SERIOUSLY, considering if the person is someone I would like to one day marry). Life for me has REALLY been changing lately and it can be scary big time, but it is quite exciting all the same. Will I be a youth pastor? And if not, where will God place me? That can only be answered in time, which means I may have to wait a while before anything actually begins to take major shape. Things are already taking shape; more like preparations. And one thing I have to get used to is giving up some things and people so that I can follow wherever God leads me. Believe me, I had to already give up stuff and it was and STILL is hard for me. But I know it's best and it will continue to mold me into the person God desires for me to be. If anyone is actually reading this, I ask one thing of you...please pray for me. Everyday. It's a battle I'm fighting and I need all the support and love I can get :) I need the strength to carry out what God is calling me to do so that I can hear Him say, "Well done, Zeth...my good and faithful servant." Until then...I'm just passing through...

January 17, 2011

This Should Be Fun

Okay, so I was thinking a lot and one of the things that "popped" into my head was to make a blog. If you don't know, I like to talk a lot (believe it or not) if you really get to know me. So I thought, "Why not do all my talking and post my thoughts or anything I'm thinking on a blog?" So that's what I'm doing, lol! But really the main reason for doing this is to give you all a glimpse into my life everyday and to share what God has been doing in my life and what He will continue to do. I figured some of you might actually be interested in hearing about that stuff. So now you can all "take my life's journey with me", so to speak. I know I personally LOVE reading others' blogs because, well, people's lives fascinate me. Not in a stalking manner, but...well I don't know really HOW to explain it, but I know I understand, haha! One thing I really love is getting to know others' backgrounds; where they come from, what they experienced, and how all that contributed in getting them to where they are now. Some of you have asked me what God has been and is doing in my life, so now you have the chance to see that as it all is revealed to me too. I really don't know how often I'm gonna update this blog, but I have a feeling (giving the fact that I actually like to write and there is always something on my mind that I'd like to share with others) that it will be quite often. Maybe every other day or whenever I just wanna say something. So I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I'm enjoying it right now, lol!