You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Psalm 91:13

Posts tagged “spirituality

Finals, All-Nighters and the Thirst for Satisfaction

College student! Stop for a second! Don’t avoid this because you are busy and I write too much. Take a break for a moment and be filled up on some truth that’s relevant to you!

It’s finals week here at the University of Central Arkansas. It’s been a busy week for me, but not overbearingly so. However, if you spend more than 5 minutes on social media this week you’ll see a lot of overwhelmed, burned out students. It’s understandable and even expected by the time spring finals roll out. Through all this I’ve come to see a deeper layer beneath it all. This post is for the college student or really any student.  Nonetheless,  it can be truthfully applied to much more with a little work.

The all-nighter study sessions. The massive caffeine infusions.  The tedious, methodical, bleary eyed, grind of reviewing the Power points, rewriting your notes, making the flash cards, memorizing the textbook(s), writing the novel sized research paper(s). They can be worth it. They are worth it for me because of Christ. That’s the key to all of it.

Would you laugh if I said that we are incredibly blessed to be able to have such burdens as those? And that though its okay to be tired and a bit pressed, there is a reason to be thankful for these kind of nights?

Look at the world. Very little of the world has opportunities to pursue dreams, callings and visions like we do. Yet you do. Maybe you don’t know what it is yet. Maybe you are certain of it. College is rare opportunity that VERY few get to experience. The purpose for college has been hijacked a bit by society, however the original purpose and values remain. You are in college and part of that means you are chasing after something bigger than most will ever get to. You have something worth pursuing intensely enough to stay up for and put in the countless hours. This is a unique opportunity in time and I promise you, it won’t last forever and when it’s gone, friends, it’s gone. Use what you’ve been given wisely.

One day all striving and chances to do such things will cease. 

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah” – Psalm 39:4-5

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

The time will come to reflect on your life and all that you did and failed to do. You as a believer will be judged as well. This isn’t the same judgment that leads to eternal life or damnation.  Nor will salvation be determined by your work at all so don’t misinterpret that. Salvation is through Christ’s redeeming work alone and not at all by any merit of your own.  The measure of your reward will be determined by this judgment based on the stewardship and obedience  to Christ (For a better in-depth explanation: Read this.)

See here’s the neat thing about work for us in Christ:

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. ” – Psalm 128:1-2

This is an amazing promise to those that Christ calls his children. It means you’ll have work. Maybe not what you hoped for or expected but you will have work, that’s why you aren’t dead yet, your job isn’t finished. Have you ever spent a week doing nothing at all? Just sat around and watched the clock tick? It’s miserable. It can lead to a mental and spiritual depression because you were made to work and labor. God called it “good” before the fall. God himself works… Let me rephrase that. The Maker of all that is good, worthwhile and holy, the One who knows all, finds work worth doing. 

Secondly, it’s a promise to us that we will enjoy the fruits of our labor. Will that mean it will be easy? Not necessarily or even likely. Does this mean I’ll be healthy, wealthy or happy? Again, not necessarily and for many not likely. Then what? It means that all honest work  pursed for the Lord will matter in some way. Work will have an eternal significance. God will satisfy the intrinsic desire we have to labor well and cultivate in a meaningful fashion.

This does one of two things. It either makes us relieved and thankful, for we do not labor in vain or it convicts us for avoiding our responsibility to labor and to do so well.

Which leads me to this warning about your motivations to work and shirk your responsibility to work:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” – Proverbs 127:1

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” – Proverbs 12:11

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10

So now would be a good time to stop for a second and ask yourself some tough questions. Ask yourself what your motivation is. For example, if you want to be in a medical field just to for money or recognition, those are both unworthy motives and ultimately they will not satisfy you. If it is to help others, though it is a good thing, that motivation alone will not satisfy you either. The motivation behind all goals and efforts must be Christ for there to be any true satisfaction and lasting achievement. He must be your ultimate purpose. Which means all goals must be in line with his Word.

There is a blessing, peace, joy and discipline that comes from understanding this and taking it to heart.

For me personally, I want to be able to look back when my time is done and say for all the pursuits in my life, “Yeah, I lost sleep some nights. Yeah, I pushed myself to mental, physical and even spiritual exhaustion some times. Yeah, I had moments of questioning if its worth it and fought fiercely against apathy. I was once a worthless wretch with no aspirations. Jesus paid it all, freed my soul and renewed my heart, my motivations and my pursuits. And through all these things, He was my rest, He filled me with himself when I was weak, he became the ultimate goal behind all my other goals. I ran with a joyful abandonment and focus towards the finish line, but only to cross it so I could reach Jesus waiting on the others side.  And now I’m here, at labors end, satisfied  not by my work but by Jesus’s. He made all my efforts “good” and worthwhile., and used them to shape me into His image. I truly started at the bottom and now I’m here. Thank you dearly, my Father.”

Relish the earned exhaustion that comes from your efforts; give thanks for them, be intentional with seeing the eternal significance behind them and keep your head high and your heart full.

Finally,

For those who are unsure of their direction at the end of this semester:

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverb 16:3

For those of you up all night  this week:

“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.” – Proverbs 20:13

For those in need of mental and spiritual rest: 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

For those who are anxious and worried:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:5-7

And I’m here for any and all of you, stranger or friend, not just this week but every week. If you need encouragement, prayer, advice, or just someone to talk to just let me know.

Much Love,

Luke

“God has created each of us with a thirst that only He can quench.  French philosopher Pascal called it a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that only He can fill.  Or as Augustine put it, “Our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”  Man is perpetually seeking.  To whatever degree we don’t know the unseen and eternal realm; we seek answers in the seen and temporal.  We look for eternal answers among temporal things.  But we discover that they cannot provide them.”

“The soul of man bears the image of God; so nothing can satisfy it but He whose image it bears.”

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The Value of Souls

Spending the last month or so pledging a Christian fraternity isn’t something I would have told you I planned to do 2 months ago. Sure I thought about it, but it would require sacrificing independence, time, etc. Yet here I am, and man I got to say, the reasons I had for not doing it sound so ridiculous now. Beta Upsilon Chi has been a life changing experience.

Here’s the odd thing about me though. I’m a junior. I’m right at half way to being 22 years old. I don’t fit the “typical” pledge. I mean I’m older than most members after all. This has its burdens and its blessings. I want to share one of its blessing.

When your time is limited, you appreciate what you do with that time. I have very little time to influence BYX, at least in comparison with my fellow pledge brothers. I’m acutely aware that every time I let an opportunity pass by to put myself out there, to encourage, to uplift, to take initiative, I’m wasting a precious moment. When you only have one little bag of candy, you notice all the subtle flavors it offers because its got to last you. That’s how my time in BYX is. If 3.5 years is the typical life span of a member, then I’m going to live just half of that. I want to leave a legacy behind in BYX and that means I can’t waste my time.

Now that is where God takes that thought and flips it on me and turns it back towards my life as a whole and I end up feeling small. If 75 years is all we typically have, how would I live my life if I only had half that? What if I died at 38. I mean I’m over half way there… It’s terrifying. I’m living with urgency, I’m not wasting my life being frivolous. I’m not putting things off to later because I know the end is very close for me in comparison to others. I have no time to waste.

Then He backs it up on me again. What is 70-100 years (if you are seriously lucky) in comparison to the eternity that follows it? What I do now affects eternity more than I ever will know. There are forces beyond me that are watching my actions with great anticipation. My time here is short, and I must be diligent to serve my part, to carry my cross daily. At the resurrection, I don’t want to look back on this and regret all the times I squandered opportunities. So what should I do?

Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

It means investing my time in things that last, that keep their value. One day all of heaven and earth will pass away, what will remain then that I can put stock in?

Souls.

What are their value? Well, they were handcrafted by the Great Craftsman, in the image of the most beautiful Being that will ever exist. They were paid for by the blood of the Son of God, which the bible tells me is quite the price.

So knowing that, I pour myself out to others. Sometimes that’s fun and easy. Simply sharing joy and encouragement and living life with them. Other times it requires deep sacrifice. Not just sympathizing with others sorrows, but entering into their sorrows with them, being vulnerable, living in a way that is consistent regardless of circumstance or others reaction to me. In the end, the amount I put in will always be so much less than what is returned in eternity. The people around you, they are the reason you are here. You are either an agent of reconciliation for Christ or you are the image of the power of Christ to overcome all things to unite and make a people of his own. People matter is my point. Don’t waste friendships. Don’t waste brotherhood. Don’t waste sisterhood. Every human interaction is a divine interaction. Every conversation that has goodness in it brings life and is holy. Realize behind every person is a soul. A broken soul, that just like yours is desperately seeking wholeness in the Father and sometimes they don’t know that’s the case.

When you realize this, people become more than just people. A stranger isn’t just a stranger. They are an opportunity, a potential friend, a possible divine moment of life changing serendipity. Friendships are messy because we are messy. The Church can be jacked up because we are jacked up. That’s why grace is so amazing. That’s why we are different. We aren’t chosen because we are perfect. We were chosen because He is and He loves us. This means that nobody is too far away, too difficult, too unlovable for us to pour into. So those times we ask ourselves, is this person too cold or hardened for me to encourage or love, we know the answer is always NO. No one is too far gone. Anyone is welcome. God does the work, we give them our best and in the end, lives are changed. It’s pretty cool.

The love you share, the relationships you’ve made, the bonds you build, that is all you will have one day. Those times I spent on me, what do they buy me in the end? Make the most of this time to invest in them. Don’t lose yourself in things that will perish, the cost is far too great.

One thing I’ve told my pledge brothers this about pledgeship: Its not about finishing first, it’s not about being the winner. It’s about crossing the finish line and crossing together, leaving no man behind. Carrying people on your back, exhausted, finishing 10 hours past when you expected to, but still finishing together. That’s the truth of our lives. We need each other. We finish together. Help everyone. Love everyone. Give everything. Because time is passing us by quicker than we’ll ever know.

Much Love,

Luke

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”


Freedom from the Slavery of Ordinary

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible.”

Did you ever have fantasies about Disney movies as a kid? What about Star Wars?  Worlds of  knights, princesses and dragons? Cowboys and Indians? I think at some point growing up, we all have. My name being Luke instantly made me think I was in fact Luke Skywalker. We wanted to fight evil. Save the day. Be the hero. It was a matter of living significantly and acting boldly.

Then we start to grow up. You are told to quit being childish, and sure you can love those old stories, but you better not believe in them. Take whatever morals from them you need not to kill people and then put them up on a shelf to be forgotten. That is a serious problem.

I don’t believe that virtues and ideals are just philosophical banter. I believe they are real tangible ways of living, with real visible reactions. They usually aren’t easy to live by, and you can’t live by them alone. Life isn’t the same without them though. Just look at society to see what a lack of them leads to, and then look to your real life heroes and notice the reasons you are drawn to them. Virtues aren’t just fairy tales.

We  are meant for more in this life. We are given a short amount of time to live, and it seems that this is meant to make us live with intention.  Life isn’t meant to be lived quiet and slow and we aren’t built for it. Judging by life we  are meant to live bright and fast (eternally at least). So why do we kill our souls? In our teenage years, we begin to try to bury ourselves in an early grave. We allow awful burdens to be heaped upon us bit by bit. All of our hopes and ambitions we begin with slowly fade away until we are just shuffling day to day using whatever will help distract us as time passes. Nobody wants to live like that, yet so often…too often, we choose just that!

It’s here you might be wanting to say, “Look I admire your enthusiasm Luke, but you clearly haven’t lived enough of life yet, just wait a bit and you’ll see and then that eagerness will dampen.” Truth is though, I’ve seen quite a bit of life. I silently dealt with unbelievable emotional trauma for 10 years of childhood. I’ve seen my share of disappointment. Make no mistake, I understand why people become jaded, I just see that it isn’t meant to be that way, nor does it have to be.

Life is nothing but tension. It’s that tension that allows all of our hopes and dreams to have meaning! Our choices are one of our shining attributes as humans, it is part of being the image of God. When we choose to stand up and act in opposition to the weight of tension upon us, we do something remarkable.

The fact of the matter is God doesn’t want you to be part of the status quo.  He knew of the the great and big things you could do before you were even in existence. He has plans to give you a future and a hope. For a God who is infinite and who’s ways are higher than our ways, that means it’s safe to assume He has something huge for us all, something audacious and bold.

So my hope for you is this: that you come to understand God for who He is. That your view of how infinite He is will grow. Because once you see that, you’ll realize that in Him you can do anything. I hope that you will dare to do unthinkable things, even reckless things for His glory. I hope that you’ll pray for discernment and a spirit of selflessness, so as to avoid being misled and allowing dreams to be corrupted.

And don’t just dream. Do. Act. Be waking dreamers. Inspire others! Live life in liberation. You only get one opportunity at this life, do something with it. With Christ, no obstacle truly stands in front of you, no goal is out of reach, no hope is ever really lost. In Christ, the greatest Hero, we can be the hero we grew up thinking we would be.

Dream big. Live big.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16