Beyond the Ballot

     It was off to the ballots! I headed out at 6:35 and made it to the ballot place at 6:56. 7pm cutoff time. I wasn’t expecting much to go on there beyond filling out a ballot and leaving, but God had more in mind for me beyond the ballot.

Divine appointments and opportunities:
      When I arrived, the first person I noticed was an old friend from high school of mine. I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years and called out to him from the back of the line. This led into a great conversation in which we concluded we should have a sort of reunion with our high school group of guys. This would provide a great opportunity to share my faith in the future.

      The next man I met was a local in Boulder by the name of Bruce. I shared my faith with him and wasn’t surprised when he said he was a believer who went to church nearby. I knew after the fact that he shared to me he was housing some people at his house. In my mind, before I told him about my faith, I was thinking ‘that’s a very Jesus like thing to do.’ We had good conversations about spreading the Gospel and about the Lord’s hand at work.
      During this conversation, a man came up to me asking if he could interview me. “Of course!” I said. I was given the opportunity to share my views and about Jesus through this interview that could possibly be on NPR. Please pray for it to be!
      Directly afterwards, I got the opportunity to start up a conversation with a lady in front of me named Casey. After overhearing the interview, she knew I believed in Jesus, so I got the awesome opportunity to be used by God as a potential small stepping stone in her life to Christ.

      I got to the ballot and, after having registered that morning, discovered my county had changed (oh the joys of moving very often as a college student). I was the last to vote in line, and didn’t get to after about two hours of waiting. I told the lady that I had been given many opportunities while I was there and wasn’t discouraged.

      I left the small mennonite church in Boulder to walk by a bus stop on the way to my car. There was a man named Derek sitting by the bus stop. He looked as a spitting image of a man that I met in the summer not far from there named Richard. A half black man with dreads and a hat on with a backpack-looking like he’s going on a journey. He asked how I was doing and I told him “well, I just got denied to vote”. We got into a deeper conversation and I asked what he believed spiritually. He said he believed many different things, a type of pick and choose religion. He then asked what my beliefs were and I told him (paraphrase) “I believe the only real Truths out there are Jesus and The Bible. When I sold out to Jesus and didn’t just ‘try Him out’ is when I realized that He was Truth and entered into a real relationship with Him beyond religious duties.”(John 14:6, 17:17)
      I then had the opportunity to share the story of how I met Richard not even a block away from there. How while I was on a prayer walk, Jesus told me, through His guiding Spirit, to turn down the narrow, dark path when I could have gone down the sidewalk that had lights all along it. That’s where I ran into Richard and was able to speak Truth into his life during his journey. (John 14:17)
      Please join me in prayer for all these people, that God would draw them to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Application:
      There’s a lot more to voting then pen to paper, or dropping off the ballot. The voting ballot is very much a place that people are forced into patience and open to conversation. There aren’t many places like that anymore. At the grocery store, you run around, get your stuff, often check it out on your own in self checkout, and leave. There isn’t a lot of social opportunity these days as an adult. Many jobs are ones you can work at independently. You don’t have to wait in line inside a fast food restaurant-you can just go through the drive thru. Even in church, people can be independently there and choose to not talk to anyone-just come right when the service starts and leave.
      This night inspired me: God is a relational God. There’s a lot more beyond the ballot for us to be aware of. God can do more with a conversation than a piece of multiple choice paper. However, don’t get me wrong, I still believe strongly that everyone should vote as if there vote is the one that’s going to shift the majority. Your vote is a gift from God to fulfill Exodus 18:21: “But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes.” How much more must we fulfill this today, in our broken nation, in comparison to Israel? We must, people of God, we must.

The Art of Foolish Arguing

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Recently, I have been dealing with arguments all over the place. In my house, in the work force, at school, well, basically everywhere. When I enter an argument it is usually about something completely stupid, and I know that, and assume the other person knows that. (2 Tim 2:22-26). Paul speaks against foolishness and I all too easily fall into it. The problem is, what I say is often misinterpreted and becomes offensive, not the way I intend it to.

When other people are offended by something, it doesn’t effect me and I am often cooped up in myself, I think “if I don’t feel bad afterwards, who cares? They probably don’t either.”

Wrong. “What’s wrong with you Connor?” I have limited and bogged down countless people by my joking ‘opinions’ and it has all been against the kingdom of God. I need to do this for the sake of others’ work for His kingdom, not for myself. Who cares about me? I need to get to the point where I don’t, because in who I am in Christ Jesus, I care about God and becoming the best vessel I can for Him. (John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease.”) It’s not the angel and the devil that I’m dealing with, it’s the angel and myself.

In reality, I’m a failure on my own, the only good that I am comes from who I am in Christ Jesus. I need to seek that more. Often, I think I have gotten to a point, then God puts me in my place “you’re not they’re yet.” (See stepping off our pride stool: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/stepping-off-our-stool-to-shed-our-old-wineskin-often/ )

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Things for self

That’s what most things have been, for myself. Unfortunately, things that are for myself are worthless. Jesus sought His Father’s will, not His own (John 14:10). He denied His flesh. I know unless I’m being sacrificial, my heart is in the wrong place. See, pleasure is all vanity unless it drives one to do God’s work. But often, it doesn’t and just distracts us from getting fulfillment in God.

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Pleasure to displeasure

For what comes after pleasure but displeasure? The pleasure of man cannot be redone because he seeks more than the previous time. Consider a beautiful view, once you arrive again, it isn’t as beautiful as before, or if it is as beautiful, there will come a time in which it will not be as beautiful and the heart will not find increasing pleasure in it. Even if there is pleasure at all, man will seek progress and will be sad if he doesn’t experience something greater (Ecclesiastes 1:8).

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Song: The Smiths: Bigmouth Strikes Again

This song speaks to my situation perfectly. It’s what I am: a bigmouth. (lyrics are in the video)

Life as a brick wall

Often in the Christian walk, we are told ‘Don’t do this’ but rarely are we told what to do in its place.

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1. Sand vs Concrete

I like to think about it like a brick wall. When you decide to not do something, you’re taking out a brick from your wall, or life. Without replacing that brick with something better, you will undoubtedly fall back into that sin; if you don’t, you will not feel complete.

These bricks that we use on our own are weak ones, made of sand; they’re just filler and don’t have any strength to uphold us. They look good on the outside, but they often get crushed under the weight of other bricks and the sand falls when the wall is nudged. Then we have to replace them.

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2. A brick for a brick

We must seek out the power of Jesus to replace these bricks that we put in our lives with concrete ones that are unshakable.

-Instead of hungering for bacon, we are to hunger for more of God’s Word (John 4:31-34).

-Instead of lusting after women, we are to lust after knowing Jesus more (Matthew 5:28).

-Instead of thirsting for ‘strong drink’ (Proverbs 31:6), we are made to thirst for the living water that Jesus gives (John 4:14).

-Instead of seeking happiness, which is based on happenings, we are to seek the joy that only Christ can give in all circumstances, resting in the fact that while we endure tribulation, Christ has overcome the world (James 1:2-3, John 16:33).

-Instead of longing to hear words of the world, we must long to hear words from the Spirit through others.

-Instead of being caught up in the fantasy of video games, we must get caught up in the fantasy the God has laid out for us in the Bible and in our lives when we’ve dedicated out lives to Him (after all, there’s some crazy stuff that’s gonna happen and that already is happening!).

-Instead of praising idols, like our sports teams, we are to shift our praise to God for what He’s done for us through Jesus (John 4:23)(way better than what our sports teams have done for us!).

-Instead of serving mammon, we are called to serve God (Matthew 6:24, 4:10).

-Instead of seeking our will, we are called to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

-Instead of idolizing our family, we are to idolize Jesus (Matthew 10:37).

These are only a fraction of the bricks Jesus can provide for us when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior and let Him take control of our lives.

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3. Where do I start?!

Whenever we think about not doing something, we must first seek Jesus; rather than thinking about what not to do, let us think about what we can do through Jesus Christ alone. When we learn to replace the longings in our lives that are in the flesh with Jesus, there’s nothing He can’t do through us (Matthew 17:20-21).*

As we learn about God’s character and what He can do for us, our faith is strengthened as we believe He can be our refuge, comfort, strength, energy, provider, rock, and so much more. I invite you to read through God’s Word, including, but not limited to, many of the Psalms and a Gospel, to learn about all the things God promises He can do/be for us for we who have faith He is able.

The misconception of love: Salad > Bacon

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We as a society have misrepresented loving one another. Think about raising a child, you don’t let them do whatever they want, rather, you help them do what they need. (Titus 2:5)

1. Jesus’ love

Jesus loved everyone and He showed it by getting up in disciple’s faces, challenging them, and even calling one Satan (Matt 16:23)! Jesus did what He needed to bring people in a closer relationship with Him, because He knew that it was the only way they would find fulfillment and purpose in this life, and in the life to come (John 7:18).

2. Salad > Bacon

Think about eating food for taste, it’s only good in that moment, not later on; in fact, it hurts your body (Philippians 3:19-21). The friends I appreciate most are not the ones who are ‘nice’ to me in the moment, but rather, the ones that are nice to me in the long run. They are looking out for me in the long run and admonishing me because they really care about me (Colossians 3:16).

A very good friend of mine who has known me for a long time told me that I was idolizing girls in my life and putting my energy into creating a better friendship/relationship with them. She told me it was sad to see that in me. I admit that I was enraged in the moment, but only because she was right. She was being used by God to convict me, and I thank God for using her to show me that.

3. Applying it

More recently, I’ve learned to throw away my people pleasing habits, especially when God is calling me to say something like that to a friend of mine. If a friend dislikes me in the moment for simply reflecting God’s word into their ears, so be it, because I know that later on, they will be thankful, and even if they aren’t, they will then know God’s way in that particular situation. It’s just like eating a tasteless salad for lunch, then feeling great the rest of the day.