The day after the world ends

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

tumblr_lwkf5wOHIh1r7u6l5o1_1280Oh man. I guess I forgot all about it. The world is supposed to end this Friday, December 21st! Hope you have some exciting plans for your last few hours here! What’s that? You don’t believe me? Hmm. Well, I guess its all a big joke then. I guess we’ll all just go back to our lives as they were…

It all still begs the question. What if? What if it were to happen? Would you be ready? There is something mystical in the unknown and a source of awkward anxiety that comes with the thought of the world coming to an end. Well, friend, let me enlighten you just a bit and perhaps even encourage you “just in case” you’re reading this on December 22.

Perhaps the most comforting part of living life as a follower Jesus Christ is the assurance that our future is secure. No matter what. Unfortunately, there are so many sources of anxiety and tension on this Earth, and we are bombarded daily with tiny bits of stressful information. We are overworked. We are overstressed. We are living like a tight rubber band ready to snap. We’re addicted to watching the news that tells us about all the horrible things going on in our country and in our world. We are easily distracted from the truth that we know is real. God has it all under control. We all know it, but we easily forget it. We are all being trained to be scared and nervous about he future. We are being trained to lose trust in each other, and in ourselves. Friend, right now is the time to make a change. Slow down. Look around. Recognize the blessings God has given you…your family, your friends. Do what it takes to allow yourself room to breathe. Stop freaking out about what’s going on, and what might or might not happen. You are not in control either way.

So the Mayans calculated ages ago that the world would come to an end on December 21, 2012. So what if it does? What if it doesn’t? If your eternity is secure, it doesn’t matter when it happens. If its tomorrow, next week, or next year, you’re good. In case you’re still thinking about it, remember Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 that “No man knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Pretty straightforward if you ask me. Might as well leave it up to Him. Live today, and tomorrow, and the day after that in the same way…grateful for what you’ve been given. Stop thinking about the end. Anticipate it, but stop dwelling on it. You’ll miss the work God has for you today…which is pretty important work.

Oh, and please have a Merry Christmas…in case you forgot that was coming too. 🙂 Until next time…

Does that even matter?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough. We are all so busy today. Representing the thirty-something parent generation, I have fallen prey to the distractions of this life as much as the next guy. Sitting under the teaching of our wise pastor a few weeks ago, I was struck with a sobering truth. We live with a constant state of anxiety. We are always “on”. Always connected. We are flooded with little bits of information all day long. We rush from this to that, and are always doing our tasks in haste. We are constantly so concerned about the future that we miss so much of what is going on right now. We are literally spinning out of control…all in an effort to make things “better” for us and our kids. However, with everything that we do, it all begs the question, “Does that even really matter?”

Anyone who knows me realizes that I am likely the most guilty of this problem. I often struggle with just sitting and resting. My mind is in a constant state of productivity, and I very rarely slow down. I feel like there is always something that can be done, but I am learning that this is not necessarily a good thing. I use myself as an example because I want to encourage you on a real level. I get this issue. It is a real problem with our society today and I am a part of it. So what can we do about it? Here are some penny-valued thoughts…

This world needs hope. Our society is a mess. With the recent events in our country causing such division among us, it is gravely important to identify what we are spending our time doing. So what are you really doing? What is the motivation for your efforts? Friend, I’d like to take the opportunity of the time that you’re reading this to challenge you. The hope that this world needs can only be found in one person…Jesus Christ. If this bothers you, please feel free to stop reading. But if you can spare a moment, I’d like to twist your arm. Don’t worry, you’ll be ok. I’m not that strong.:)

I’ve spoken to a good number of people since our country’s recent election. Many people have expressed the same thing…fear. They are worried about where our country is headed. Worried about the economy. Worried about their retirement. Worried about their freedoms. Well folks, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t as well, but then I have to ask myself, “Why?” What if the “worst case scenario” were to happen and I were stripped of everything I have? What would I do? Its then I am reminded that there are people who live like that EVERYDAY. We’ve unfortunately become so occustomed to our comfort, that we couldn’t bare the thought of living with less. That’s a problem. Despite all of this, I am also reminded that there is something so much greater than ALL of these issues. Jesus!! I could spend all day sitting and worrying about what may or may not happen, or I can rest in the peace that He gives me! Better yet, I can make use of the time I have RIGHT NOW to encourage other people to do the same! He has this world completely under control. He said it clearly in His word in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have many troubles. But take heart. I have overcome this world.” What a wonderful promise!! Those words alone are enough to strengthen my day, and help me to realize that all this “stuff” really doesn’t matter. All these things I get myself busy doing are useless, unless they are done to edify others and amplify Christ. So let that be a challenge to you today. Take a look at what you are doing and evaluate the reason you are doing it. Remember Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I think in times like these, we need to stop and simply be thankful for what God has given us. He didn’t have to give us what we have. In fact, we forget that the world He created will go on without us. Its by His grace we are even given another day. What a gift! Now, there is nothing wrong with working hard and pursuing a better life for yourself. In fact, it is a wonderful part of of our human resolve. But if things changed and we suddenly had to live with much less than what we have, would it really change who we are? Not at all. We would still have the promise that God gives us through His son. Let that be enough to change your thinking. Stop fretting. Stop thinking so much about your life that you waste it. Get busy, but do so by loving others. Serve others. Go on a mission trip. Sponsor an orphan child. Support a local ministry. Buy someone else’s groceries. Volunteer. Step out of your comfort zone and see that there are people who live everyday like what you are so worried about happening to you. Friend, you woke up today. God has given you another chance to experience His love. Go! Show others what the love of God really means. Tell others about Jesus. That’s what we’re called to do! That’s what really matters!!

The paradox of philanthropy

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

I love to see how God works in people’s lives. I love to see people find their God-given talents and then use them to strengthen and grow God’s kingdom. If we are to be worthy stewards of what we’ve been given, we should do our very best to use it! There is a wonderful feeling of contentment that occurs when we think outside of our own little world, and focus on exonerating and helping others, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. That’s true philanthropy. There is a point however, that we need to be careful to not go past, and that’s celebrating our efforts.

The human condition has the desire for belonging. We all want to feel important and needed. The paradox in giving or serving is that it can easily become more about us than who we’re giving to. We want to have approval from other people that we’re doing the right thing, and that our efforts are “making a difference”. The Bible teaches clearly against this, however. Philippians 2:3 states to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Matthew 6:1 also says, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” When you serve others, it takes effort. It takes time and energy. It requires forgetting about yourself for a minute and focusing on someone else. In our ever-increasingly isolated society, that can be difficult. Even when we have the opportunity to serve or give, we can be quick to trumpet those efforts to the people around us, perhaps to feel good about what we’re doing. Interestingly though, it never gives us a true feeling of contentment, just the itching to seek more approval.

God designed us to serve…to serve Him and to serve others. Let’s put our best effort forth and do it, but let God get the glory. We need to be letting His light shine as our best attribute. God will fill our hearts with contentment if we seek His purpose in serving others. There is a great song from the mid 80s by Petra that says, “I don’t want to be a man pleaser, I want to be a God pleaser.” So true. The reward that God has for us in our efforts will far outshine anything other people can give us. So go. Serve. Give. Do what He’s called you to do. Do it humbly. Do it to better the other person. Be happy with the effort and not the applause. Imagine how many happier people there could be if we all truly focused on each other!

The (mis)information age

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Picture this: you’re sitting at a restaurant waiting on your table. You get into a discussion about any given subject and someone asks a question you can’t answer off the top of your head. You Google, you check your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest, your email, your favorite blogs, and on and on. You are flooded with all kinds of information, and all at once. If you are ever wondering about something, you are a click away from an answer. Or are you?

The internet has changed the way we learn and communicate. The beauty of our society is we are all free to live however we want, but a big problem with that is we tend to develop a million different ideals and answers to our problems. Everyone has a different idea of how to do something…and often use the internet to disperse that information. So what is legit? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. However, there are ways to validate the information you are reading. Check the source. See where the information is coming from. See what organization is behind the information. See if the information is “conveniently” packaged with a product for sale. Also realize that there is no hard fast rule for everything. Even scientific studies are flawed and weighted in some way, shape, or form. Its easy to come across a study and implies a result, but often its more suggestive than absolute. Here is a good cartoon on the subject:

Many times a study will have a conclusion, but that conclusion is subject to many other things. So instead of stating an absolute truth, it merely correlates a suggestion to consider and apply. We need to be careful about trusting it blindly though. The trouble starts when someone reads something and adopts it as fact without challenging it first. True understanding comes from digging deeper. I tend to trust sources with proven track records and not ones trying to sell something.

I love to learn and I love the fact that I will always have something to learn. Knowledge is fluid and is always changing. It is an amazing blessing to have such quick access to information at any moment, but we need to be careful and sift through it to find the truth. Be a skeptic. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t believe everything you hear, especially on TV or the internet. Weigh what you learn against multiple sources. Use your head and see if what you read makes sense. Always be a learner and realize you will never learn it all. Embrace that and you will love the process!

Why all the ranting?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I realize I rant a lot about nutrition. I know I’ve probably offended a few people through it, but I have come to learn that it is the most controllable and critical aspect of our vitality and quality of life. Eat bad, and you feel bad. Eat well, and you feel well. Moreover, I feel that taking taking care of your body is a responsibility that the Creator demands of us. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The foundation of our bodily temple is our nutrition. It may sound harsh, but I feel that it is very irresponsible behavior to not learn all we can about what we do to our bodies, especially when it comes to food. Interestingly, I think the area of nutrition today is the most misunderstood subject, mainly due to two things. Pharmaceutical bottom lines and personal convenience. Let me expound.

Turn on any TV or open any newspaper, and you are destined to find a pharmaceutical ad. Overweight? Don’t put any effort forth, just take this pill (or have this surgery then take this pill). Depressed? Take this pill. Diabetic? Take this pill. High cholesterol? Yep. Another pill. Give me a break! Why do you think we are all so sick that we need pills to fix our problems? We’ve done it to ourselves. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and eating poorly doesn’t necessarily cause a bunch of problems right away. We are able to adapt to many changes, whether they are good or bad. But over the last 30-40 years, there has been a steady decline in health, an increase in processed foods, and an exploding pharmaceutical market. Coincidence? Not at all. The same reason that companies are creating drugs to fix our problems, and make a killer profit, is the reason we are all so unhealthy and in need of a fix. We don’t respect our bodies enough to care. We just want to do what feels good to us, and if anything bad ever happens, we want the quick fix. That’s never the answer to anything, especially when it comes to health.

We have more diabetes, obesity, and metabolic disorders today than at any other point in history. Even though we have done it to ourselves, we can change it! But it takes effort. Effort in learning about your body, effort in making changes to your diet, and effort in getting up and moving! I hear so many people using the excuse that “I don’t know what to eat because the advice is always changing”. While that is true, you have to understand the source of the advice. There is a money trail behind almost everything. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not vilifying pharmaceutical companies. Being in my profession, I fully understand the importance of medications when there is a distinct problem with our bodies. Even while being wonderfully made, some of us have bodies that can fail us. Some of us are born with problems. Some of us develop sicknesses that are unavoidable. However, when it comes to our health, so many problems can be changed with our diet, because they are caused by our diet! Take charge and make the changes! While there is no universal diet plan for everyone, some things are very universal. Stop eating sugar. Stop eating processed foods. Start eating real food and not fast food. Stop sitting around and start exercising. Use common sense…and respect yourself! You are a beautiful creation!

Sorry if this hits a nerve, but it is very important. I feel very passionate about encouraging people to change their lives. I did. I was an overweight and lazy teenager, and paid a price for it. Because of it, I have become dedicated to learning all I can about how to take care of myself, and you can too! Respecting your temple is as important as any other effort in this life. Get on it!!

The silent killer

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

There is an epidemic in our society. It is everywhere, and it is taking us all prisoner. So many of us think we can’t do without it. Some think they truly need it. It seems harmless, but in truth, it is a monster. What is it? Sugar. Its making us fat. Its causing our diabetes, growing our cancers, and generally messing up our bodies. Yeah, its that bad.

I’ve rambled on here about sugar before, but the more information I read and learn about the biology of our bodies, the more I realize just how bad this stuff is. But why? Well, if you have some time, please watch the attached video here below. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Since it is so bad, then why do we keep eating it? Why do we like it so much? Because it is nothing less than a drug. It triggers the pleasure centers of your brain and causes a spike in energy. But then you crash. And then you do it all over again. You become addicted. Its in tons of our food, especially processed foods. What’s worse is we are told by conventional wisdom and nutrition “experts” to eat low fat foods, but the fat is replaced with sugar. We’ve got it all wrong. We give it to our kids in our convenient foods, even baby formula. So no wonder we have a hard time moving away from it. We are programmed to want it from almost day one! Now, being someone who ate plenty of the sweet stuff for years, I can tell you that dropping it is not simple. You will have to detox from it and like any drug, you will have withdrawal. But once you drop it, I promise you will feel so much better…better than you imagined you could feel. Two great resources and plans can be found Here and Here. I highly recommend you pick up one or both of these books. You owe it to yourself. Give it a try…I promise you won’t be sorry!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM&w=640&h=360]