Author Archives: Jake Bishop

Make Your Life Count

Have you ever thought about how short life is? James 4:14 says this, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Our life is like the morning fog, here and then gone, yet it seems that so often we forget how short our time really is. We take our life for granted like there’s an endless supply of days that will never run out.

Eternity, on the other hand, is very long. Like longer than you could ever imagine. Eternity is so long, in fact, that it goes on and on and never ends, ever. So what this means is that we have a few short years here on earth, and then we will spend eternity somewhere else. So if we do the math, our 80 years (on average) are a tiny speck compared to the endless years to come.

Why is it that all we think about is our time here on earth and never about eternity? We only get one shot at this life. My life may last for 100 years, or it may end tomorrow. But I know one thing for sure, I want to make the time God has given me count.

The truth is that we often need to be reminded about how short our life really is. Psalm 39:4 says “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” This needs to be our desire: to understand how short this life is. When we’re aware of how fleeting our life is, we will be less likely to waste it.

So how should we live during the time that we have? Maybe the better question is who should we live for during the time we have. The answer, of course, is Jesus Christ. But why does he deserve our lives? If our time is short, why should we devote the days we have to Him? Because He was willing to give His life for us. We turned our back on God and we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). But even though we were sinners and enemies of God (Rom. 5:10) Christ died for us. Because of Jesus we can stand forgiven and have a relationship with our Lord.

When we experience the love, grace, and forgiveness that we’ve received from Jesus this should change us. When we truly experience the gospel we become like the gospel. We’ve experienced love so we should love God and love others. We’ve experienced amazing grace so we should have that grace for others. We’ve experienced forgiveness so we should forgive even the inexcusable. And finally, we know that Jesus gave His life for us, so we should devote our lives to Him.

So who are you living for? Are you living for yourself? Maybe your goal is to make as much money as possible, drive the nicest car, have the biggest house, the perfect family, and anything else you believe will make you happy. That’s what we’re told makes for a successful life, right? As Christians, we know that eternity is coming. When our lives come to an end we will spend eternity with Jesus. Live your life for Him. Go all in for Him. Spend your days loving God, loving people, and telling others about what He has done for you. That is truly a successful life.

It all comes down to this: life is short, eternity is long, and we need to start living like it.

“Remember, you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.” – John Piper

Presents

When I was a kid, there was no time more exciting than Christmas. I would go to bed on Christmas Eve and never get much sleep. I would lie in bed, stare at the ceiling, and just wait anxiously as I thought about what awaited me in the morning.

Why is it I couldn’t sleep? Why was there all this anticipation for Christmas morning? It was because I knew Christmas meant presents. Lots and lots of presents! When I think back to Christmas mornings as a kid I remember the joy of opening gift, after gift, after gift, throwing wrapping paper throughout the living room and posing for a picture while holding up each present. The joy I felt as a kid while opening presents is hard to top.

Looking back now, as a 23-year-old, I realize something about those presents that I never realized as a kid. I didn’t deserve them. It’s true. My parents went to great lengths to get me everything I wanted, but I didn’t really deserve any of it. I wasn’t a bad kid; I was actually a good kid, but I definitely didn’t do anything to earn the gifts I received. I never had to do extra chores to earn my presents, I never paid my parents back, and I never gave my parents gifts that compared to what they gave me. The only thing I did to earn those presents was in being their child. I was their child, they loved me with an amazing love, and they gave me gifts I never earned all because they loved me. That pretty much sums it up.

As Christians, we’ve all received a present we didn’t deserve. On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to live a perfect, sinless life and die a death that we deserved. We can experience salvation because of this amazing gift of grace that was given to us. Ephesians 2:8 says it clearly, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Isaiah 9:6 says this, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This Christmas season I look forward to and I’m thankful for the presents I will receive. During this season and every season I’m most thankful for the present that was given to me in Jesus Christ, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace who was born and then died for me.

My New Year’s Resolution

The new year is upon us and everyone is making resolutions. For many, it’s that they would eat healthier or workout more to get in shape. For some, it’s that they would give up a bad habit that they have developed. I have a different New Year’s resolution this year, and I challenge you to join me in keeping it in 2015.

In 2015 I want to read through the entire Bible.

I will admit that it is very difficult for me to be consistent in being in the Word. Some days I forget because I’m busy while some days I’m just simply lazy. But there’s no excuse for me with all of the opportunities that I have to read my Bible each day. Even on my busiest days I have the Bible on my smart phone that I can easily access. That’s why this new year I am making a plan. There are plenty of options out there for reading plans, and I’ve been searching for the one that fits me best.

I’ve tried many times to start and stick with reading plans, but many times I’ve failed. I know that this year there will be days that I forget and days that I get busy. There will be times where I fall behind. But being in God’s word is of extreme importance for our growth as Christians, and there is no excuse not to spend time with the Lord.

Take this challenge with me to read through the Bible in 2015. Find a partner to hold you accountable in the process ,and if you have a smartphone use technology to help keep up. Let Psalm 1:2 be the key to the next year, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Challenge one another to not just read daily, but also let Scripture change you.

In January all of the gyms in town will be packed, and then come March the numbers drop considerably. Diets start out strong and after a couple weeks they often can’t be kept up. Resolutions are usually made in January just to be broken in a few months. But there’s no resolution that’s more important than this, let’s make it a resolution we actually keep.

If you have found a reading plan that works for you please share it here! Happy New Year!

Here’s a couple of links to very helpful plans:
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/
http://about.esvbible.org/resources/reading/ https://www.bible.com/reading-plans

Jesus Wants The Rose

Do you feel unloveable because of your sin? Listen to this great reminder of the gospel from Pastor Matt Chandler. Jesus still wants you!

“…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

The Time is Now

Being a student is a time of preparation. While in high school we prepare for college or a job if we plan to go directly into the workforce. While in college we choose a major and spend four years, or five if you take the popular “victory lap,” preparing to do the job we hope to do the rest of our lives. We sit through long lectures, we do hours of homework, and participate in summer internships so that we can prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. The first 22 years of our lives are all about preparing for the 70 years that follow.

While working with high schoolers and middle schoolers in youth ministry and also being around my college age friends, as well as looking at my own life, I’ve noticed something. We are so programmed to prepare for our future that this often transfers over to our walk with Christ. We start to believe that life doesn’t really start until we’re done with school so truly following Jesus doesn’t start until then either.

I believe that preparation is a great thing. It’s important that we prepare in college for our future job. It makes me feel very good that it takes so much schooling and preparation to become a medical doctor. I wouldn’t want someone operating on me who isn’t prepared. And as Christians we need to prepare ourselves by learning about Christ in the Word, reading books by Christian authors, and growing closer to Christ every single day. But we also have a mission…

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives us a command that we call the Great Commission. He says, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This is not only a command for the disciples. This is not only a command for pastors and missionaries. This is not only a command for those with college degrees. If you claim to be a follower of Christ then this commission is for YOU! The time to go all out living for Jesus is now. Don’t get so caught up in preparing for the future that you forget that you should be following Him right now. Be in the Word, spend time with the Lord in prayer, love and serve others, and make disciples whether you’re 8, 18, 28, or 88. The time is now!

Why Worry

Why Worry?
“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.”

This quote from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love really put worrying into perspective for me. It made me think back to all of the nights I had lost sleep worrying about things that were out of my control. There were so many nights that I forgot that God is big enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to take care of whatʼs happening in my life.

I would mostly worry about the plan for my life. While in high school, I had everything in my life completely planned out, from where Iʼd spend my four years of college and the degree Iʼd receive to what Iʼd be doing with my degree. I had everything mapped out, and I couldnʼt imagine a better plan than my own. I couldnʼt imagine a situation where my plan didnʼt work out, and this caused a lot of worry about the future.

During my first year of college it became evident very quickly that a lot of my plans werenʼt going to work out. This caused even more worry and anger towards God because I simply did not trust that he was big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what was happening in my life. I didnʼt trust Him, and I didnʼt trust the plan that he had for me.

Thinking about the future causes anxiety and worry in all of us. It’s unknown and out of our control, and both of these things terrify us. The definition of worry says, “allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles.” So here’s the problem with worry: we are allowing our minds to dwell on the wrong thing. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” When we set our minds on eternity, it shifts our view to seeing God as who He truly is in our lives, and that is sovereign and in control. But instead, we look at the troubles and uncertainty that lay ahead which leads us to look to ourselves as sovereign and in control of our lives. Elisabeth Eliot said, “Worry is the antithesis of trust. You simply cannot do both. They are mutually exclusive.” As long as we are worried about what the future holds, we will never let God hold our future. The key to stop worrying is to start trusting in a God that is bigger and greater than yourself.

Take a second and look back at how many things you have worried over in your life and tried to plan out. Now think about how many of those went exactly according to the plan you had in your mind. When I think back, there are none. No matter how hard I try to plan, it always plays out differently. So as we are in college, we are constantly thinking about our future plans and jobs. Some of us have in our mind the perfect 5 year plan and know where we want too. Others don’t even know what classes they are taking next semester, let alone where they will be in two months. But in both these situations, we will look back a year from now and retrace the steps God has lead us to take. These steps will be ones you would have never taken on your own, but God knew where He wanted you to be. You might have a vague idea of what you want to do with your life, but God knows every detail of how He will use you. We are trying to make decisions on our own while we can’t see the bigger picture. We see our life up close like viewing a movie of 1 or 2 pixels while God is viewing the beautiful, high definition picture of all 1080 pixels. Matthew 6:27 asks, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” No! If anything, our worry takes away precious moments from our life. So let us give up our worry to God and allow Him to replace it with trust in His plans.

Iʼm now finishing up my junior year of college, and as I look back over the last three years, I can confidently tell you the most important lesson that I have learned while in college. It wasnʼt a lesson from a math class, or even a Bible class, even though those lessons are important. The most important lesson that I learned is that Godʼs plan for my life is far greater than my own. If you had asked me as an 18 year old what Iʼd be doing at 21, I never would have guessed it would be this. But the truth is, God knew exactly where I would at 18, 21, and every year after that in the midst of my worrying.

So we have to ask ourselves if we trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to take care of whatʼs happening in our life? Do we trust that He has a plan for our life? I can promise you He is all of those things, and I can promise you that His plan is greater than yours. So why worry? God has a great plan for you!

Life is Short, Don’t Waste It

Have you ever thought about how short life is? James 4:14 says this, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone,” yet it seems that so often we forget how short life really is. The average person in the United States lives about 79 years, but our life could end at any second. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the headlines any day of the week, and you will find countless lives, young and old, that have abruptly come to an end. Matt Chandler says it like this, “You are like a dew on the grass that is gone by morning. You’re not even here today, gone tomorrow. You’re here in the morning and you’re gone before lunch.”

 

Eternity, on the other hand, is very long. Like longer than you could ever imagine. Eternity is so long in fact that it goes on and on and never ends, ever. So what this means is that we have a few short years here on earth, and then we will spend eternity somewhere else. So if we do the math, our 79 years (if we make it that long) are a tiny speck compared to the endless years to come. 

 

Why is it that all we think about is our life here on earth and never about eternity? We work throughout our lives trying to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and have as much fun as we can, yet the Bible teaches us that what we do during our short time here determines how we will exist for millions and millions of years after. 

 

We only get one shot at this life. My life may last for 100 years, and it may end tomorrow. But I know one thing for sure though, I want to make the time God has given me count by making much of the name of Christ. When comparing the length of my life on earth to the length of eternity I think this is an easy decision.

 

The problem is that we often need to be reminded about how short our life really is. Psalm 39:4 says “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” This needs to be our daily prayer: that we understand how short this life is, and that we will be motivated to live for one thing: Jesus Christ.

 

John Piper wrote a book titled Don’t Waste Your Life, and in that book he attacks the idea of the American dream and living for the pleasures of this world. He says that instead of living for ourselves and our own desires we should find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life.” So what desires has God given you? What do you think about every day and wish you could pursue? Whatever it is for you, pursue that passion, cultivate it, and glorify God in the midst of it.”

 

Sure maybe the job that allows you to live out your passion and glorify God will pay less than another job, but is a large bank account the legacy you want to leave behind? We need to break the chains of the American dream that tell us success is defined by our paycheck and size of our house. Success is found in the impact we have on others in terms of pointing them to Christ, not the possessions we own. 

 

So are we living for the short term pleasures of this world, or are we living for the everlasting treasures of eternity? And what legacy will we leave behind? Will people remember Christ, or will they remember what kind of car we drove? 

 

It all comes down to this: life is short, eternity is long, and we need to start living like it.

 

Remember, you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.” – John Piper

 

There’s Something About Mary

It’s Christmas time and incase you didn’t know, Christmas is a huge deal. Most holidays are celebrated for a day, but Christmas is celebrated for an entire month. When December hits everyone changes up their normal schedule to shop, go to Christmas parties, travel long distances, and watch the movie Elf 3,749 times (or is that just me?). Basically, when Christmas comes you can’t miss it. It’s hard to believe that all of this chaos is because of the birth of a baby boy in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. For something to cause this much commotion the story behind it has to be amazing.

The Christmas story is a story most are familiar with yet the importance of it can often be overlooked. It really is one of the most monumental events in history. At the very center is Jesus and the fact that God became flesh. How amazing it is that God would come to earth for us. But in this post I want to talk about another main character in the story. Her name is Mary and she’s the young girl God chose to help make the story become reality. There’s a lot that we, especially as young people, can learn from Mary so in this post I wanted to list three that stick out to me…

1. God can use you.

Every single person can be used by God. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past and it doesn’t matter your age. When this story takes place Mary was only a teenager probably between the ages of 12-16. She wasn’t from a wealthy family and there’s a good chance she couldn’t read or write. God chose this teenage girl to do something amazing and He can use you no matter your age, gender, and social status. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

2. Obedience is more important than social acceptance.

Mary is a great example of someone who didn’t let others stop her from being a servant of the Lord. Something we don’t often consider that Mary had to go through is the way people would have treated her when she became pregnant. Her and Joseph were only betrothed to be married at the time which meant they shouldn’t be sleeping together. There would have been a lot of rumors about her spreading throughout the town. We can learn a lot from this as Christ followers because as Christians we will experience persecution. A lot of people in this world hate Jesus and hate those who follow Him. We can learn a lot from Mary because she didn’t let this stop her from serving the Lord. If you let the Lord use you not everyone will be accepting. Living for Jesus is tough but it is so worth it and we can really see that through Mary.

3. Be a servant of the Lord.

At first when the angel appears to Mary she is afraid. I’m sure she feels like God has the wrong person because she isn’t qualified to do this or maybe she is worried about what her family and friends will think. Her mind is probably racing but in verse 38 we see something amazing. Mary answers the angel and says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Even though Mary doesn’t fully understand God’s plan yet she is committed to serving Him. This is an attitude we all should have even in times when we don’t fully understand God’s plan.

Mary is a great example to all of us. I pray that everyone has a great Christmas season and keeps in mind the true “reason for the season”.

Are You Wearing A Mask?

Today is Halloween! I don’t know how you feel about this holiday but it has always been one of my favorites because it means friends, candy, and costumes. On Halloween all you have to do is put on a mask and you can become anyone you want to be for a night. Take a trip over to Party City and spend a little money and you can be Willie Robertson, Ronald Reagan, or even Joe Dirt (All costumes I have used in the past).

There is something I’ve noticed though. A lot of us don’t just wear masks on Halloween, we wear them every day of the year. We put on these masks because we are in desperate need of approval. We don’t want anyone to see our messiness, our hurt, and our shame so we put on these masks and present a false exterior to earn acceptance. We believe that no one could ever accept us if we are truly ourselves.

Many put on the mask for the approval of their peers. We find a group of people we want to be a part of and begin to talk, walk, and dress just like them in an attempt to fit in and find acceptance. But some of us don’t just stop there, we believe that we must do the same thing with God.

We think that God is looking for someone who simply walks, talks, and dresses like a Christian. Many have bought in to the lie that Christianity is about cautiously following a list of rules in order to earn God’s acceptance. Guys, this is NOT Christianity. Christianity is not a list of rules that we must follow. It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ and the beauty of Jesus is that we don’t need to hide, or put on a false exterior for Him or anyone else. We don’t need to pretend we’re okay, when we’re not, or pretend that we have it all together. We all have struggles, hurts, doubts, and sin. And here is the good news… Jesus welcomes us with open arms. He sees all of us- the good, the bad, the ugly- and loves us anyway.

Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t die for some perfect version of you. He didn’t die for the mask you’re wearing. He can see right through the mask into your messiness, brokenness, and shame and He still loves you so much that He died for you. You don’t have to be something you’re not to win His approval. You can run to Him even in your failure and you don’t have to follow a list of rules because our value and identity are not found in the things that we do. Our identity is found in who Jesus says we are and He says we are loved, cherished, redeemed, and set apart.

So take off the mask. God cares much more about what is on the inside than your outward appearance. He doesn’t want you to just walk, talk, and act like a Christian. John 15:8 says, “I am the vine: you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus wants you to abide in Him and when you abide in Him the Holy Spirit will consume you from the inside out. So you will look like a Christian but it won’t be because you’re wearing a mask, it will be because you are truly abiding in Him.

Three Things I’ve Learned About Dating

Dating is obviously a huge topic among young Christians. If you go to your local Christian book store you’ll find plenty of books on Christian dating or courting and many people are eager to give advice on the subject, whether you want it or not. I’ll be the first to tell you that I have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to dating and I am in no way an expert. I feel like I’ve learned a lot through these mistakes though so I wanted to share with you three things I’ve learned…

1. Don’t make your girlfriend your God.

In the past I have allowed girlfriends to become idols. I thought I needed more than just God to be happy. I needed God AND a girlfriend. I believe Tim Keller says it best when he says, “If you add anything to Jesus as a requirement for being happy, that’s your real king.” Girlfriends had become my real king. I’ve learned though that relationships are a wonderful gift from God but only Jesus can bring true satisfaction. What we tend to do with relationships is search for our joy and happiness from our boyfriend or girlfriend. When we do this, we are setting the relationship up for failure. As great as the person may be, they are still sinful, so they are going to bring us hurt and pain at times. Instead of making them our source of joy and satisfaction, we need to find our joy in Christ who never changes and always loves us.

2. Keep Christ at the center of your relationship.

In his song “Wait,” Lecrae gives some great advice on Christian dating. He says, “That man don’t love you like he need to. If he ain’t following Christ, he can’t lead you.” Iʼve learned that if Iʼm not following Christ, I canʼt be the leader I need to be for the person Iʼm in a relationship with. Being in a relationship should never distract you from following God. The right relationship will instead lead each of you to follow Christ on a deeper level. In doing this, you will be able to care for the other person in a Godlier way since they aren’t your God, but Jesus is.

3. Treat them as someoneʼs future spouse.

Until we say “I do” my girlfriend is someone elseʼs wife. Itʼs that simple. This is a great reminder in dealing with sexual temptation as well as many other aspects of a relationship. The girl that I am dating is not mine, sheʼs God’s, and I need to treat her with the respect she deserves. Another thing to think about is how emotionally we get involved. In the same way that we need to wait until marriage sexually, we also need to wait emotionally. As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” If we truly care for the person we are dating, we will always have in mind their future marriage.

Being in a relationship is great but our dating relationships must always glorify God. If your relationship doesnʼt glorify God, itʼs hindering the relationship that matters most. The one with your heavenly father. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Every aspect of our dating relationships should be done for the glory of God.