You did it. You did the thing. You did the thing you knew was wrong. You did the thing you knew was wrong, and yet you did it anyway.
Why? Why’d you do it? Why’d you do it when you knew it was wrong?
Because it made you feel good? Lashing out, getting revenge, making the person who hurt you hurt more than they hurt you.
Yeah, it felt good, didn’t it? The first second the words left your mouth, and the smile left their face, and their mouth gaped open, and you knew you’d stunned them. Cut straight to their soul with an insult, a truth so crushing. Your words dripped with vitriol so full of spite that they wobbled a bit when you said it.
And why shouldn’t you say it? They had it coming. What goes around comes around, so they say.
So they say a lot of things. They say fear is a powerful tool. They say get back at your enemies. They say take what’s owed you, show no mercy, leave no survivors. Eye for an eye. Tooth for tooth. But there’s a lot they don’t say.
And as the second second hit after you said what you said, after the smile of that person – your so-called enemy – faded, after their mouth gaped open, after they seemed to shrink in fear, after your shoulders bared back, fists clenching with the strength of newfound power, tears welled up in their eyes, and they crumpled to the ground and stayed there, shoulders shaking, and then saying what you said didn’t feel so good after all.
They don’t say, “Show mercy.” They don’t say, “Be a peacemaker.” They don’t say, “Admit when you’re wrong.” No, society doesn’t say those things.
But Jesus did. He said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). His Word says that whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will receive mercy (see Proverbs 28:13).
That same mercy God gives us when we make mistakes is there for everyone.
And so, you unclenched your fists, bent down to the person who had hurt you before, touched their shoulder, and said the words society doesn’t tell you to say:
Forgiveness is there for you as it is and should be for those who hurt you. Never mind what society says. Mind what Jesus has called you to do. He has called you to be set apart from the world, not embrace its ways and lifestyle.
How much do you want to live for the Lord, really?
There’s a group of 4 teens. We’ll call them Jane, Mary, Mark, and Joe.
Jane and Mary come into the church as young women. Jane goes all in. She studies the Word. She’s engaged in every church service, but Jane doesn’t just keep it to herself. She takes the Word with her and starts reaching her friends. She connects with the people at church, and the longer Jane attends, the more she seeks after God at home. Jane gives God her all, and she reaches her full potential in Christ, living for Him and making an impact on those around her to grow the Kingdom. Mary chooses to keep a door open to the influence of the world. She doesn’t close every door to her past. And because Mary keeps that door open, she doesn’t receive a full understanding of what it means to live for Jesus. After a few months, she leaves church altogether and goes back to the world.
Mark and Joe were both raised in church. As Mark grows up in church, he falls in love with the Word, developing a walk with God from a young age. He seeks after God every day. He dives deeper in Bible studying and fasting. He tells others about Christ. He gets involved in ministry. Because Mark stays connected to the body and grows closer to God as he grows older, he remains steadfast in the faith and in living for God. But Joe takes it all for granted. Sure, he goes to church every week, and sure, he seems to walk the walk and talk the talk, but he opens a door to worldly influences. It’s all in good fun, he thinks. Church becomes just a social club to Joe. He falls in love with the world rather than the Word. And soon, Joe leaves God and church behind, thinking he doesn’t need God anymore.
You might think this is a rather generic, simplified tale of four teens, but I’ve seen each of these scenarios play out with young people in the church. Too many young people or new people in Christ take living for God for granted. Too many take His mercy for granted.
Oh, God loves me anyway, they think, so I can just do whatever I want.
They seek instant gratification over self-sanctification. They seek worldliness over holiness.
But we must seek God while we can, especially when we are young, be it young in age or young in Christ. Don’t wait until you are older to take God seriously.
I wish I had read the Word more fervently when I was a teenager. I wish I had prayed more earnestly then.
Young person, study the Word every day. And I mean, study it. Don’t just read a few verses of Psalms at the beginning or end of the day, mark it off your Bible reading chart, and call it good. Invest your time in the Word. Read a chapter and then write down what it means. What is God saying to you through His Word? How can you apply it to your life? Likewise, don’t just say a few words of prayer and then be done with it for the day. Seek Him in the morning. Set time aside later in the day as well to spend more time with Him. Don’t rush through your prayer time. It takes time to develop a relationship with Him.
Get involved in your church. Use your social media page to promote church and living for God. Tell your friends about the Gospel. Vest yourself to the Kingdom of God. Make Jesus and the Kingdom your priority in life now while you are young.
I’ve seen too many teenagers come into church and leave the door open to past influences or get offended and return to the world. They go back to the world more devoted to sinful lifestyles than before. I’ve seen too many young people who were raised in church never really take it that seriously or become personally involved in a relationship with Christ and with the church, and at the first real struggle in life, they abandon God and the body of Christ. And they turn to the world, allowing drugs, bitterness, and impurity to consume them.
Don’t take living for God for granted. God didn’t put you on this planet to waste your life away on frivolous pursuits. God comes first. Reaching the lost should be your top priority. Getting closer to Him should be your daily focus.
Every so often, we all need to do a heart alignment check. What am I focusing on most? How often am I spending time with God? Have I been applying His Word to my life? Have I been invested in every service or distracted? Am I vested to the cause of Christ?
Being vested means to have a right of ownership that is not conditional. We must not be just invested in living for God and reaching the lost, but we must take ownership of our part in His Kingdom. We must fully commit to and take responsibility for the role we have, living wholeheartedly for Jesus and giving up ourselves to bring more souls to salvation.
There’s a song by Gas Street Music (linked here) that goes, “Every idol, hit the ground/Cause there’s only space for Jesus/When He clears the temple out/So turn the tables upside down/This is my surrender/Only one King to be crowned.” Make God the center of your daily life.
How much do you want to live for the Lord, really?
Jesus is calling you to a closer, deeper walk with Him. Will you answer?
Missouri Youth Camp ended last week, but I’m still thinking about the powerful services we had. In every service, there was a heavy spirit of expectancy, depth in every message, and an outpouring of the Holy Ghost in every altar call. It was without a doubt one of the most incredible weeks I have experienced. Mike McGurk, the morning speaker, taught one message in particular that detailed a few tips that, if applied, can help each person (and each young person, especially) truly thrive in the kingdom of God. For today’s post, we’re going to go over these tips again.
Don’t keep the things you’re struggling with to yourself. This one’s actually hard for those like me who prefer to “suffer in silence.” It’s the noble, mature, strong thing to do, we tell ourselves. But actually, keeping deep struggles to yourself makes you more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and makes it harder to overcome those struggles.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Proverbs 28:13 (KJV)
Talking to a trusted spiritual leader, such as your pastor or youth pastor, about something you’re struggling with gives you a source of support and guidance. Openness and honesty are underrated qualities in any relationship. How are you to develop a working relationship of trust and transparency with your leaders or even colleagues or friends if you do not let them in if something is going wrong? The more you keep things to yourself, the more time you give to the devil to mess with your mind and bring confusion.
Bro. Mike McGurk spoke of self-destruction. If you keep things to yourself, then the lies of the devil can cause you to break down and self-destruct. There is strength in going to a trusted spiritual leader like your pastor with your personal struggles with sin or an emotional or spiritual issue.
You do not have to be perfect, for as we know, there is none perfect save for God.
We are incapable of perfection, and your pastor knows this. Because of our human nature and constant struggles with our flesh, we will always need encouragement, correction, independence, and guidance. We need encouragement for our self-esteem, correction to overcome our weakness and mistakes, independence to allow us to make our own decisions, and guidance to lead us in the right direction.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (KJV)
You’ve heard the saying that no person is an island. Learn to be transparent and trust your pastor to help you and pray for you when you’re struggling.
Be careful with the people and things that you allow to influence your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You’re heard “love the sinner, hate the sin” and the fact that Jesus ate with the sinners and publicans. This is true. However, Jesus called us to be separate from this world.
As another common saying goes, we are in the world but should not be of the world, meaning that while we are in the world, we should do the things we must to survive, build relationship, families, careers, etcetera, but we should not conform to the lifestyles and beliefs of the world. Bro. McGurk explained in his message that when it comes to those you may be around at work or at school who live like the world, you should love them and eat with them, but do not live like them or let them influence how you live. For example, if you’re out to lunch with your coworkers, but they talk about going out later to drink and party, don’t let their lifestyle choices influence yours. The sign of a confident Apostolic Christian is one who influences their friends and coworkers and draws them toward God, not one whose friends and coworkers draw them away from God.
There is one saying my Bishop used to teach about that some might take issue with, but I’ll mention it here and then explain: if you can’t change your friends, change your friends.
If the people you hang around are becoming negative influences in your life, then you should not spend time around them anymore. For example, if you have a teenage son and he starts hanging around kids who do drugs behind the school every day, you would want your son to stop hanging around those kids. That doesn’t mean he should be rude to them, condemn them, yell at them, or throw the Bible at them. It does mean he should set healthy boundaries in his life so that he can maintain a strong walk with God and show others that he is committed to living for God and not like the world. Having strong principles, convictions, and morals is a good thing, not something anyone should be ashamed of.
Lot allowed his surroundings to influence him, and it led to his wife’s demise.
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.”
Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV)
The appearance of the land was pleasing to Lot, and so he allowed what pleased his eyes to influence his actions. He pitched his tent toward a place that was filled with wickedness. Much can be said and written just from this account in Genesis (and indeed much already has), but just six chapters later, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with Lot barely escaping with his daughters. His wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Most of us know this story, but its message will forever ring true.
Want to know the direction your life is taking? Look at the things you allow to influence you.
The problem with influence is appetite. What you consume is what you put on display through your words, actions, and thoughts. In order to walk with God, you must change your appetite so that the things of the world – entertainment, personalities, trends, money, attention, etcetera – no longer influence you.
If you pursue God and allow the things of God to influence you, then you will thrive in His Kingdom. This point goes back to the previous point about influence. Your life will go in the direction of the things you pursue. If you pursue fame and attention and money, then your life will be filled with self-absorption and materialism. Pursuing God means putting God and a godly lifestyle above everything else.
You should get a job. You should make an income. You should try to have and raise a godly family, but those things become idols when you pursue them above God. So, how do you pursue God?
Read the Word. After all, the Word is God (see John 1:1). The Bible is His Living Word, and if we want to get to know Him more, we should read it every day. Don’t just read it, though. Study the Word. Pray the Word. And while you read the Word, journal. I have a journal set aside for Bible journaling, and when I open up the Word to begin my study time, I have the journal in one hand and the Bible in the other to write down thoughts, revelations, or specific verses while I’m reading. This is a pretty common and simple concept, but it is vital to understanding His Word more and committing key scriptures and biblical principles to memory.
When you pursue God, He will open up His Word to you and welcome you into a deeper relationship with Him.
“Draw night to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
James 4:8 (KJV)
We exist to worship our Creator, have a relationship with Him, and reach the lost. When we make living for God and growing His kingdom our purpose and top priority in life, then we will be too busy to become enamored with the distractions of the world. We will struggle with our flesh every day, but there are things we can do to become purpose-driven in the kingdom.
Be involved in your church. Help with the media team. Be part of the music team. Teach Sunday or Wednesday school. Clean the church. Contribute to your church’s social media page by taking pictures. Help in the kitchen. Go to outreach functions. Invite your friends and coworkers to church and special events. Go to special events yourself rather than skipping them because it’s your Friday night. Teach Bible studies. (Lord knows, we should all be doing more, especially on that last one, including yours truly.)
Whatever it is, be active in your church and be active in the kingdom of God. We find our identity in Christ, and when we make His mission ours, then our purpose will become clear.
Each of these four concepts is essential to thriving and growing in God’s kingdom. So, in order for you to apply these to your life, here are some questions you might ask:
Out of these four points (transparency, influence, pursuit, purpose), is there one or more that are lacking in my life?
What am I doing or what can I do to address this issue?
I saw an ad for a graphic tee the other day that read, “I feel a sin coming on,” and the shop’s caption said, “Good thing it’s a Sunday.”
The comments were filled with people tagging their friends with laughing emojis and saying, “This is so us,” or, “I need this shirt!” And others were talking about their experiences with such a flippant attitude about sin.
Sin is serious.
It’s not something about which you should speak carelessly or be wishy-washy, arguing with yourself and wondering, “Is this a sin? I don’t think that’s a sin. It isn’t that bad. It’ll be fine. I’m going to church tomorrow anyway! I’ll just repent then. LOL.”
There’s a group of Christians within society who perhaps go to church and worship on Sundays but then go clubbing on Fridays. They perhaps sing with the choir about living like Jesus but curse like a sailor with their friends or coworkers on Mondays. They listen to sermons that warn them about being too close to the world but dismiss that it’s meant for them. They post Scriptures on social media but never read their Bible. They say they love Jesus but never spend time talking to Him. They engage in immorality and spew profanity, ignoring the seed of conviction in their spirit that tells them what they’re doing is wrong. They think if no one from church knows what they’re doing, then it’s okay.
They fail to realize that God is watching and sees all things, and even if they do know that, they fail to understand how much He cares about sin. But Jesus cares so much about sin that He taught the following during the Sermon on the Mount:
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
Matthew 5:29 (KJV)
There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to sin, but I’ll share a brief few here.
Don’t be wishy-washy about living for God or flip-floppy about sin.
The only thing Jesus flip-flopped was the tables of the moneychangers who were selling things in and defiling the Temple!
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV)
When one takes on a careless attitude about sin or about something that’s meant to be serious and tries to make it seem mundane, ordinary, or “not that big a deal,” do you think God’s pleased?
When you repent of your sins, are water-baptized in Jesus’ Name, and receive the Holy Ghost by the evidence of speaking in tongues, your body becomes a temple of the Holy Ghost, of God’s Spirit dwelling within you.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
Don’t defile that temple with sin or a callous attitude about sin.
If you do, Jesus just might call you out on it. He might flip-flop some tables in your life to get your attention and make you realize the seriousness of what you’re doing.
Matthew 7:14 says, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Don’t think you can do x or y or z and get by with it. Don’t think, “How can I do this thing and still make it to Heaven?”
Do flee from sin.
The Bible says that we must flee from fornication, idolatry, and youthful lusts (see 1 Corinthians 6:18, 10:14, and 2 Timothy 2:22).
Do chase after righteousness.
After fleeing from sin, we must pursue righteousness, faith, charity, peace, godliness, patience, and meekness (see 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22).
And when you sin, repent. Be sincere. Turn from your wicked ways and live right.
God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (see 1 John 1:9).
If you turn away from sin and back to Jesus in sincerity, then He will fill you with Godly desires that glorify Him and lead you down the path of righteousness.
I pray this post has blessed you and helped remind you to live for Jesus alone and obey His Word.
I also wanted to give you an update about some changes to BPR’s post schedule. I’m having some issues with WordPress’ algorithim and with BPR subscribers seeing all of my posts. That combined with my fall schedule has made me decide to change the BPR post schedule to every other week.
So, starting today, BPR posts will come out every other Friday for the months of September and October or until further notice. This means that the next post will be on Friday, September 3rd.
Thank you all for being patient and for sticking with Breathe Pray Repeat. It means a lot to me that y’all still keep up with the little blog that could! God bless, and I’ll “see” you in two weeks!
How do you live in the world and not love the world?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more young people I’ve seen grow up in the church or come into church as teenagers proceed to turn away from church once they reach the young adult years. As Christ’s return quickly approaches, it is disheartening to see these young people leave their love for the Lord and righteousness and give into worldly lusts. Yes, the world has many temptations, and it can be hard to resist the things our friends or society tell us are popular or fun. But if one loves God and attends church, how it is possible that he or she might end up choosing the world instead? How does one manage to live right in a sin-sick world and not fall into darkness?
After all, there are temptations and spirits of darkness everywhere, trying to pull us away from the Lord.
Well, it all boils down to one thing: your personal commitment to and relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here are 3 ways you can resist the world and live for Jesus:
1. Don’t let yourself develop an appetite for worldly things.
The things we consume will influence our appetite and priorities.
Is that show or movie you’re watching coming between you and your relationship with God? Is the music you’re listening to causing you to speak or think more about worldly appetites than wholesome thoughts? Are you more enthusiastic about a tv show than talking with your friends about Jesus? Are you more exuberant in your praise at a football stadium than at the altar in a worship service? If you don’t let yourself love the things of the world more than the things of God, you’ll be able to be in the world and still stand for righteousness and holiness. Understand where those worldly things & behaviors lead you.
2. Develop an appetite for the things of God.
In order to do this, you can begin by replacing unhealthy habits with righteous ones. For example, instead of listening to worldly music on the way to church, listen to music that brings you closer to God. Instead of looking at Bible studying as a chore, find ways to make it more enjoyable by using study guides, Bible journals, and other interactive Bible study tools. As you read the Word more and apply it to your life, you’ll begin to see how His Word & Spirit will change you, and you’ll find yourself no longer wanting the things of the world but the things of God.
3. Surround yourself with God-first people.
One of my lifelong spiritual leaders has always said this phrase:
“If you can’t change your friends, change your friends.”
This doesn’t mean we can’t associate with and witness to people of the world. Of course, we absolutely should! But if those people with whom we’re spending most of our time are beginning to have a negative influence on us and are taking us further from the Lord, then it’s time to step away from those relationships. This doesn’t mean that we’re shutting them out and turning up our nose at them in a self-righteous attitude. It does mean recognizing that for our own salvation, we may need to distance ourselves from negative influences while still praying for those friends and their salvation.
If you surround yourself with people who mock righteousness and holiness and resist the things of God, then you’ll drift further away from Him. If you surround yourself with Godly, God-first, and God-only people, then you’ll be able to grow in your relationship with God, loving and longing only for the things that please Him.
The world is intoxicated and diseased with sin. It’s dying, and it’s pulling so many lost souls into eternal suffering.
But when we live for Jesus and resist the world, we tell people that there is so much more to life than worldly pleasures and living for ourselves.
Temporal pleasures are, of course, fleeting. They don’t last. But the love of Jesus within us gives us lasting joy, contagious joy that spreads and overcomes the allure of this world.
When we live boldly for Jesus in this world and love Him more than the things of the world, we’re sending His message of hope to the lost that sin and death no longer have power over us when we surrender to Jesus Christ.