2015 is Almost Over . . . Wait, What?

Posted: December 30, 2015 by Christian Editing Services in Uncategorized

In just over a day, 2015 is going to be “last year.” For some of us, this year has been amazing and we hate to see it go. For others of us, 2015 has been a year to forget, and we can’t wait to turn the page into 2016.

If you’re anything like me though, there have been times throughout 2015 where you felt the Lord got it wrong. It’s as though something unexpectedly happened in your life this past year and you found yourself saying, “Uh, Lord, what’re you doing? That wasn’t supposed to happen . . . it wasn’t in my plan.” And then you proceeded, on your own, in an attempt to “make right” what the Lord had “gotten wrong.” And after a couple of days, possibly a few weeks, or maybe you even made it a couple of months, you found yourself still attempting to fix that which the Lord actually intentionally removed from your life. So maybe, the Lord hadn’t “gotten it wrong” after all.

Jeremiah 29:11 reveals something beautiful to us about the Lord—He has His own plans for us, and those plans have our best interest in mind. But as easy as it is to quote that verse, especially for those of us who have grown up in church our whole lives, it’s completely different when we are forced to actually believe those words and let that belief be lived out in our lives through our actions. But then there’s one more step—not only do we have to actually believe that He has our best interest in mind, despite not currently seeing where He is leading, but we also have to realize that His plan is based on His timing, not our own. And in an “instant gratification or fail” world, what if the Lord says, “Wait. Trust me.”

Wait.

Be still.

Be patient.

These are some of the most challenging times of life. Wouldn’t we rather hear a “Yes” or “No,” because then we at least know what to expect or what direction we are ultimately heading? But what if it’s in that season of stillness that the Lord wants to restore you, your heart, your mind, your emotions, your love for others, and ultimately bring you closer to Him. You can’t rush that process. It takes time. Understand that the “journey” is part of getting to the final destination. Quit focusing on everything you don’t have and focus on what you do have—God, the creator of the universe, holding you. Saying run to Me child, I love you. I’m here for you. I’ll love you. I’ll give you the peace you so desperately crave.

And it’s in those moments that you run to Him that you realize the only thing that matters in this life is a relationship with Jesus.

Keep your head held high as you move forward into 2016. Understand that the Lord never “got it wrong,” but instead, that He wants to use you, and bless you, if you’ll let Him. And maybe, just maybe, He couldn’t have used you or blessed you the way He wants to if your plan for your life had taken shape.

God is a God of Love, Yet He Let _____ Happen?

Posted: November 10, 2015 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

“But if God is good, then why did He allow _____ to happen?” “If God is a loving God, then where was he when _____?”

Have you ever heard these questions from someone amid turmoil? Or maybe, you have asked these very questions yourself. On the surface, these questions hold validity. However, in asking them, we are essentially saying that our desire to serve God stems from the idea that we would no longer have to worry about anything bad happening to us or those that we love. In essence, we treat God like a vending machine–we serve Him to get what we want in return.

Unfortunately, this train of thought is likely to stem from an inaccurate promise we heard by someone claiming to be sharing the gospel with us–“Come to Jesus, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” While this is partially true, the person who shared this prosperity gospel expressed only half of the truth. Coming to Jesus doesn’t mean that you will no longer have disappointments in life. It doesn’t mean that you will no longer have hardships. It doesn’t mean that you will become a millionaire. It doesn’t mean that you will have perfect health. What following Him does mean is simply that the King of the universe sent His son to die in YOUR place, taking YOUR rightful place in hell, and rose again on the third day, so if you believe that, YOU may spend eternity with Him in heaven. What it does mean is that we no longer have to face life’s problems on our own, or have all of the answers. What it does mean is that we have hope! In the minute time we are given on this earth until we are present with Him in heaven, there will still be disappointment, hardship, and imperfection–there’s a cost for following Him! However, our mentality switches from that of no hope to hope beyond what anything on this earth could give–knowing that the hard times we encounter in this life are simply only for a short time, and that at the end of it, we will spend eternity with Him!

Don’t get me wrong–there may be times that Satan causes those who truly do know the Lord, understand what it is He has done for us, and serve Him because of it to ask questions like those at the beginning of this post. It’s in these times when doubt begins to creep into our hearts that we must allow the concept Matt Chandler explains in the following quote to permeate our minds.

It is only a selfish, unloving father who always says yes . . . Loving fathers don’t say yes to all their children’s desires, because children’s desires are immature and will ultimately harm them if we say yes to everything.

[Therefore] the most loving thing a loving, personal father can do is go, “Nope. I’ll be the killjoy here for your joy. I’ll be the bad guy for your safety. I’ll take your scorn for your own good. I’ll do it. I’ll absorb it. I’ll absorb your little poutiness. I’ll absorb your, ‘I can’t believe you. You don’t…’ I’ll take it so that you survive, so that you grow healthy, and so when all is said and done…”

Look, I love you. Some of you are brilliant. You’re brilliant in business. You’re brilliant in all you do, but you are not smarter than God when it comes to what’s best for you. You’re just not.

Thus, God will not always give you the desires of your heart, but rather what He knows is best for you–which may or may not be the desires of your imperfect and humanistic heart. (To clarify, God does not send evil into our lives, but rather allows it. He ordains all things.) You might not understand why or trust that it is best for you right away, but this is where trust comes into the equation. One final quote from Matt Chandler expresses this perfectly.

The only way I know to minister to my own heart in my own grief and loss is to consider how I’ll think of anything that bothers me now 10,000 years from now. . . . Six years ago, I was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer and told I was going to die. I did 18 months of high-dose chemo, radiated my brain. I wonder. I spend time going, “How will I look at that 10,000 years from now? How will I consider that 10,000 years from now?” See, the problem is one of perspective. Gosh. I don’t know what God is up to.

I want to put it in perspective. I don’t have good perspective. He’s infinitely powerful. He’s intensely personal. He loves me. He’s for me. . . . This is the question I think you have to wrestle with. Do you believe that God is good? Don’t be too quick to say, “God is good. God is good all the time.”

No, no, no. Do you really believe? Do you believe…? Not know. Do you believe that he’s good, and do you believe God is for you and not against you, regardless of life’s circumstances? If you can settle that, then you can join with the refrain of Christians across 2,000 years of history who said, “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”

Ultimately, the questions asked at the beginning of this post stem from an issue in perspective–we believe that we know, better than God does, what’s best for us. We have to be cautious of this mindset creeping into our lives, but instead, be willing to trust Him. And believe that He is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

*The quotes from Matt Chandler used in this post were taken from his sermon entitled “God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” Click here to listen to it in its entirety.

Do You Trust?

Posted: April 23, 2015 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

Today marks the last day of walking around campus as a student of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. And as ready as I thought I was for this day, I’m suddenly realizing I’m not sure how I feel about it. These past four years have been some of the best, funniest, and most enjoyable years of my life. They’ve also been some of the most challenging and most trying years—and in turn, ultimately, some of the most rewarding. I’ve met people that became friends, who then became family. I’ve been challenged to become a better person. I’ve learned more about myself, and what I want in life. I’ve been forced to grow in my faith even more, and trust the one who created me, loves me, and holds me in the palm of His hand.

But May 2 is coming like a freight train and is going to be here and gone before I know what happened, and then ultimately, the next stage of my life is going to begin. And in all honesty, I realized today that I’ve essentially been ignoring the change that is going to take place. And as I actually begin to think about it, it’s a little scary not being able to see the road in front of me. But I know the one who holds me, and I know He has been using these past four years to prepare me for whatever He deems is next. What that is, I’m not quite sure yet. But I know He’s up to something, even as I write this. He’s been speaking to me recently, showing me that NOTHING else in this world matters except a true relationship with Him; and furthermore, challenging me to simply take a plunge off the diving board into the empty pool below, and trust Him that He will catch me in His ocean of grace. “Let the trust you say you have in Him be reflected in your actions.”

As I attempt to move forward with that challenge, it’s not to say that I fully grasp everything, or that I don’t have a bunch of questions. However, it is to say I know He has told me to trust Him, that He was the one who created me and He will sustain me moving forward. He has my best interest at heart, and He will guide my steps—removing anything that keeps me from experiencing Him to the fullest. And for that, He will be praised in the hallway as I wait for the next chapter door of my life to be opened.

“God blesses us with the fullness of himself through the momentary incompleteness of his material provision” –Paul Maxwell

C

REAL

Posted: March 3, 2015 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

Real. 4 short letters to form a word that describes what Christians are not, according to nearly every non-Christian.

Hypocrite. 9 letters to describe what Christians are, according to nearly every non-Christian.

Do you see the problem?

It’s not that non-Christians are saying it wrong. No, instead it’s actually the complete opposite. It’s the fact they have it right. What does that say about us as true followers of the God of the universe? Does it eat away at you on the inside at how accurate their portrayal is?

You see, especially here in the Bible belt of the U.S., many people call themselves “Christians” for one of several possible reasons … maybe for the fact it’s socially acceptable and a fad, maybe it’s what their parents want for them. Or maybe it’s because they’re nicer than the majority of people. It might possibly be because of their good works, or because they attend church. Or it could even be that they believe God exists. The list goes on and on.

Many of those who claim to be Christians are also the ones going out on Saturday night and indulging in worldly pleasures, only to turn around the next morning and drag themselves into church, as if that’s what qualifies their being a Christian. Or even those “living it up” on Spring Break, simply because YOLO (you only live once), right? Please do not get me wrong, I, in no way, intend to cast stones at anyone as I myself am not without fault. I am simply attempting to be real and transparent by discussing issues we all know are happening. And it’s heartbreaking to our Savior for Christians to not only be living in this world, but to also be of this world. That isn’t what He intends for His children at all.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Matthew 5:14-16 instructs us this way: “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.”

So with that teaching, why is it that “Christians’” lives look identical to non-Christians? Maybe the fact that they do look identical is the reason non-Christians’ description of Christians is so on point–they are evaluating those who claim to be Christians, and what that should mean, versus how those people truly live their lives. There’s no difference! Non-believers can be having a theological discussion with “Christians” one moment, regarding how their lives are supposedly different, only for the non-believer to overhear them gossiping, observe them cheating, hear of them hooking up with someone, or witness them getting drunk in the next moment.

I once had a teacher who told me if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, you wouldn’t call it a bear. So why is it that if we walk like an unbeliever and talk like an unbeliever, we are calling ourselves believers?

I’ve been convicted lately that when God calls us to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23), He’s not talking about in one area of our lives. He’s not talking about in the area that we need help with the most. He’s talking about in all aspects of our lives. I can almost guarantee you that you don’t know who is watching you, or how big of a platform you have.

So my challenge is this: for those who call themselves Christians, either A) live in this world, but not of this world. Deny yourself the things of this world that your flesh desires and pick up your cross daily to follow Him. Since you’re calling yourself a Christian, walk like one and talk like one, in all aspects of life. Let your light shine before others. Or B) maybe option A doesn’t suit you, maybe you’re not ready yet to surrender everything you have over to the one who created you (and that’s okay, no one can force you to do that-that is a decision between you and God), but if you find yourself at this point, please, with all due respect, for the sake of all those who are attempting to follow the commands God has given for how our lives should be transformed when we come to know Him, quit calling yourself a Christian.

Becoming a son or a daughter of the King is so much more than a fad; and if you think otherwise, I challenge you to fly overseas to a country that prohibits Christianity and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who are there being martyred due to their unwillingness to denounce their faith that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. Becoming a child of the King doesn’t happen from being raised in a Christian home. It doesn’t happen because you attend church. It doesn’t even happen because you believe God exists. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Becoming a child of the King happens from acknowledging the fact that you by yourself are not perfect, and that you are in need of saving grace from Jesus Christ. It happens from believing that God sent His only Son down to earth to die in place of you, forgiving all of your sins. It happens from realizing even though you can still base your life on all that this world tells you is good and right, you instead choose to base your life on that which God in His Word tells you is good and right. It happens from laying your life down every single day to surrender yourself to the one who created you, so that His name is glorified by your life.

James goes on to further explain what he means by even the demons believe that there is one God. In verse 22 of that same chapter he says, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” These actions can be seen when you base your life on what Jesus says is good and right. John says it this way in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So let’s change the description of Christians according to non-believers, from hypocrite to real. From unchanged to difference maker. From talker to doer. From ungrateful to loving. Not by physical force or bribery, but by those who call themselves ducks, actually walking like ducks, and talking like ducks, thereby showing the world His true love, grace, and mercy

C

How’s Your Embrace?

Posted: February 16, 2014 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

How’s your embrace?

I’m asking that question based on my previously shared experience when God explained to me that we are on His journey, and that we need to quit looking for the final result. Instead, we need to learn to embrace the journey He is taking us on that will ultimately lead us to something only He could dream of for us. So again, I ask, how’s your embrace?

If I’m being honest, it’s only about a month since He told me that, and Satan has already figured out a way to make me stumble.

When I chose journey as my word for the year, I intended for it to be a reminder to take each day as the blessing it is. In doing so, I would remember to take in even the small things and my day-to-day attitude would be better. However, circumstances around me have recently changed, and Satan got me to buy into the LIE that I could do things on my own now and that I no longer needed God’s help for this area of my life. The even worse thing about this is that he convinced me of it when there were things going on that I couldn’t control. So combine my mindset that I could now do things on my own with the fact there were things going on in my life that I couldn’t control, and it got messy. I became anxious . . . worried . . . scared.

Then the Holy Spirit showed me something.

“You’ve trusted me for months on end already, why stop now? No, the path you’re on right now wasn’t in your radar when you allowed me to take the reins of this journey you’re on, but the thing is, you’re still on MY journey. I knew this was coming. I allowed it. Quit buying into the lie that Satan has told you. You are still on the journey I have for you, and still on my timing. Not yours.”

And in that moment, I realized I was being just like Peter when he was walking on the water toward Jesus. He was fine one moment . . . and fighting for his life the next. The difference? He was fine when he kept his eyes on Christ. But the second he looked around and saw what he was doing, he didn’t understand how it was happening and tried to figure things out on his own. And ultimately, in the process, he took his eyes off Christ. Satan got Peter to believe the same lie he got me to believe.

As I continue to come back to Him, I find myself stepping from a place of distress, anxiety, and worry into a place of stillness, calmness, freedom, and peace that only He can give.

So as I challenge you, I’m challenging myself as well. Quit buying into the lie Satan is giving you. As much as you might think you can, you CAN’T do it on your own! Change your perspective and look at your problem through God, NOT God through your problem!

Keep your eyes fixed on the One who loves you so much more than words can describe. And rest in His indescribable peace.

-CGW

Embrace the Journey

Posted: January 16, 2014 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

Whaaaat’s up? It’s been a while, and I apologize for that, but I’m back—for the first time in 2014. Last year got extremely busy to the point that before I knew it, the semester was over. And that brings me to where I am now . . .

For those of you who don’t know, just over a week ago, I realized I didn’t remember hardly any details from the Fall 2013 semester. As most anyone my age would do, I freaked. Here I am, 20 years old, and I can’t remember what happened less than six months ago. Combine this with some other physical issues I had been having, and it really freaked me out. After some discussion with my dad, we determined it was best I went to see the doctor. Long story short, I’m physically fine. Praise God.

However, as days passed, a thought that I originally had upon realizing I didn’t remember things continued to rock my world—was it a God thing? More so, was it God freeing me of the pain and the hurt I had experienced from the past that followed me into the semester? While I was slightly excited about that possibility, I refused to accept it because I knew through the pain, God had taught me too many important lessons for it all to just disappear.

Finally, it clicked. It was a God thing, but in a completely different way. It made me begin to realize that I got so busy looking forward to an end (specifically, the end of the semester) that I forgot about the journey in getting there. I forgot about what all it entails—the friendships, the relationships, family and strangers encountered, and all the memories made with each. I forgot to stop and be thankful for all the blessings I had. I forgot to “stop and smell the roses.” I forgot to cherish the time and the memories I was blessed to create.

But God didn’t stop there. Tuesday night at our weekly Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting, we discussed New Years resolutions and how the majority of the time, they’re simply epic failures. However, our chaplain challenged us to pick one word and use it as our word for the year, continuing to work on it throughout the year—not allowing it to become another resolution that failed. As many of you can probably guess, the word I chose was . . . JOURNEY. I picked Exodus 13:21 in support: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” It signifies two things: 1) He is leading us where He wants, if only we will listen and keep our eyes on Him, and 2) it says that He goes before us, so He already knows what we will face. He’s allowing us to go through situations so our faith can grow and we can shine our lights with others. And we will only see all those opportunities if we keep our eyes on Him.

So with that said, I challenge you to EMBRACE THE JOURNEY. Do not become so consumed with thinking, “If I can just get through _____, things will be alright and will calm down.” Because I can assure you, you’ll never reach a season of perfect stillness—something else will come up right after that, and before you know it, it’ll be 2015 and you will have wasted an entire year.

JUST STOP.

BREATHE.

Realize how blessed you are, and remember to embrace the journey. Before we know it, it’ll be over. Make the most of every situation. Remember to tell those you love that you do love them. Make time for them. Put your phone away and connect. Share your light. Take time to be with Him. And LOVE.

-CGW

A Divided Cross

Posted: August 28, 2013 by Chris Webber in Uncategorized

Question. How many times have you thought that if only you had that one thing, or were dating that one person, or could accomplish that one feat, life would be great? Be honest. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been at that point several times. But consider the next question: why does that way of thinking completely dominate our mind-sets so often? And it becomes obvious that kind of thinking isn’t true. If it were, we would be happy and satisfied when we get that one thing we believed was so important. But how often does that happen?

Consider millionaires—people who could essentially have anything they desire. Such is the case in the story of Jonathan Wraith, a young British millionaire. To the outside world, he had everything he could ever want. But in 2009, he shot himself with his own shotgun, leaving no suicide note. Why? He had everything he could ever want, right? The answer to that question can only be “yes” if you look at his life from a worldly point-of-view. Now before I go any further, let me state that I did not know Mr. Wraith personally, so I am generalizing when speaking about him as a millionaire. Physically, he had everything he could ever want, and it still wasn’t enough to stop him from taking his own life. Thus, to anyone reading his story, it would seem there is something far greater to this thing we call life that Mr. Wraith—and others like him—didn’t seem to grasp.

It was as though the mindset I discussed in the first paragraph continued to dominate his way of thinking. And when things in his life that were out of his control went wrong (it has been speculated that he was consumed with worry over his father’s recent stroke) and money could no longer buy his happiness, he seemed to miss a very significant truth—that the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE is in control. And when people miss this truth, they fail to trust in the one who never has and never will forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). If Mr. Wraith had placed his hope in things that are eternal according to 1 Corinthians 13:13 (faith, hope, and love) or in God (as 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love), and not in that which is temporary, I dare say he would still be living. Why? His perspective on life’s circumstances would have been different.

With that said, let me ask this: how often do you allow your priorities to get out of order (exchanging temporary for eternal) and thus develop the mind-set of thinking just one more thing will make you happy? If we’re honest, the answer to this question is probably higher than many of us would like to admit. However, because of the fall of man, it is typical of us. It is because we give in to our flesh’s desires that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Yet, in the following verses (24-26), the hope we have in Jesus Christ is explained: “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” John 3:16 says it this way—“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.” THAT is grace—the free and unmerited gift of eternal life to us who mess up countless times each day.

I’ll leave you with this. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So I challenge you, next time you believe having one more thing will make you happy, 1) think about how many times you’ve said that before and 2) check your priorities. You’ve already been given the best gift you could ever be given—the one that, though it does not always promise to be an easy path, is the one that will change your perspective and ultimately bring you true happiness. It is up to you to accept it.