“I Don’t Get Anything Out Of It”

Recently I saw a trending hashtag on Twitter that drew my attention. It was “#Imnotgoingtochurchbecause “. Now I know that the gospel of Christ is not something that everyone agrees with. I know that there are a large number of people who will take any opportunity to attack it. This hashtag, in particular, peeked my interest. Why is it that people don’t go to church. With major hesitation, due to the open forum of Twitter, I dove in for a look.

Now first and foremost, there was the smattering of disgusting comments and just plain ignorance. I will not take the time to repeat them, you will just have to imagine (although I suggest you don’t waste any time on it). Then there were a few that sparked the idea behind this blog post. They were the ones that pointed toward the thought of “Not getting anything out of it”.

Huh? Why in the world would you consider getting anything out of it? What really is in it for you? Is there something you hope to gain from your presence in a place of worship, or rather, is it that you have given back that time for worshipping he who gives you every second of everyday?

The ultimate goal of going to the church you attend should never be for personal gain but instead immersing yourself in a window directly into Heaven. Now personal growth is a benefit of worshipping together with other members, your brothers and sisters in Christ, but going and worshipping should be about the giving, not the getting.

If you do or have thought about going to church, whether it is on Sunday or to a daily Mass, consider that it is you and your family giving time to worship. It is a time of giving thanks for all that you have been blessed with. It is a time of intimacy with the creator of Heaven and Earth. It is a time to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as he commanded us to do. He gave us the guide. He commanded we do so.

Consider for a moment how blessed you will be when your attention is on God. The entire world melts away. You spend time brining God joy. Go to church. Be in fellowship with your christian family. Spend time with God. Bring him joy!

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

It’s About….Time

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Time.

Isn’t it amazing how it can be your best friend and a death trap all in the same day? In some situations, it can seem endless. In others, it seems like you have skipped right through it and it never happened. When will it end? Where did it go?

Time is valuable. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

So what is important to spend our time on? For a christian, it is imperative that the largest portion of our time is given to his glory. It is difficult but the journey in moving the pendulum in the right direction is worth the work.

The best place to start is with a full, honest audit of your time. Take a day, for instance, and jot down how much time you are spending and what you are doing. On a separate page, write a corresponding list of how you brought glory to God in each activity. This is a good starting point, but you have to be honest. Did that television program bring him joy? Did the gossip you enjoyed in bring him joy? Did skipping Sunday service at Church and relaxing do more for you or God?

It’s about time. Time is a gift. Our journey in life is short compared to the glory of eternal life. Make the best use of your time, while you have it, in bringing God joy and glory. Your life will be blessed for it.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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Is That Really Helping?

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Is it really worth posting or saying? That political post or rant you are about to throw out for the world to see, is it really worth posting? Is it going to change someone’s mind or are you just stirring the pot? Are you acting on behalf of the problem or the solution.

I understand that politics can be a divisive issue. I also understand how everyone has the freedom to say or believe what and how they wish, however, I ask you to consider, is what you are posting an attempt to help issues we are facing or are you just doing it to dig your heels in and “get a rise” out of people.

One way or the other people will be on the opposite sides of any fence. There will be winners and losers. The effort should be, as I see it, in coming together to effect change. Regardless of your faith, in whatever it may be, we will not make change by continuing to bash. Hate speech and hurtful remarks to your Facebook friends will not effect any change that you are after. It will continue to divide and separate the world you live in.

I believe in standing firm for what you believe in. God knows that is why I do what I do. I work tirelessly for the Kingdom of God. I preach, teach, do radio podcasts, write a blog and just generally show up in people’s lives as they need it and as God directs me to. But, I must say, I do not do it in a way that is hurtful and hateful to others. I merely do as God calls me to in order to show people the difference in a life with God and one without. I attempt in every way to show people, rather than standing on a soapbox and bashing those who turn from God.

I love you all and hope that you think, just for a moment, about how you as well can effect positive change in the world. No matter how small it may seem, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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Chasing Happiness But Finding Joy

How-to-keep-your-dog-safe-and-at-ease-when-the-fireworks-start.jpgI have recently been contemplating the difference between happiness and joy. It occurred to me that there is a distinct difference. For a good portion of my life, I have targeted them as relatively the same thing. I have chased being a happy person, or for lack of a better thought, overall happiness. Although I found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it, it wasn’t until I discovered that joy was what I was after that I finally found peace.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, renewed and “happy” only to have it quickly pulled away from you as soon as your finances, to-do-list and schedule rob your smile? That is the eternal pursuit of happiness rather than joy. Joy comes in resting in the fact that while your bank account may be thin, you are standing in your house. Your commute to work may be frustrating, boring and long, but you have a job to travel to. You have a boring meeting to attend, but, you have been chosen to sit on that committee by your boss. Perspective plays a large part in the difference in happy and joyful.

Happiness comes and goes. Happiness in life is like a grand fireworks display. There is anticipation as you wait for the next big, bright, beautiful moment when the firework glistens in the darkness. Then, as it fades, you wait in anticipation for the next one. Boom! Oh there it is! Wait, it’s gone again and the darkness has returned. Joy can be found in knowing that life is filled with happy moments, like fireworks, but resting in the fact that you are safe, even in the darkness while waiting for it again. Sin comes when we chase the fireworks. Imposing our will on the guy lighting the fuse. Chasing after momentary happiness in pleasures of the mind, flesh, the eyes or a drink. These moments of letting into sin don’t last and the darkness that follows comes heavier and heavier. It’s like running in quick sand. You sink deeper and deeper, while chasing after a quick thrill.

I found happiness in losing 5 lbs. in a week. I found joy in no longer being morbidly obese. I found happiness in stuffing myself with food and drink. I found joy in being able to tie my shoes without getting out of breath. I found happiness on a first date. I found joy when I married her. These are differences in a real life.

Rest in the comfort of knowing that you were created for joy. Joy in your life, the joy you bring to others, and the joy you bring to the Lord our God. Find peace in the life that you were given. Don’t chase fleeting moments of happiness, rather live in the heart of Jesus. There you will find eternal peace and joy.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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Finding God In Darkness

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Mass shootings. Recorded beatings. Bombings. Whenever one of these tragedies hits the news Social Media lights up with both believers and non-believers asking “Where was God?”. Some say “Jesus, we need you now more than ever”. These are valid questions and statements, however, the perspective is skewed. Let me explain.

These acts, taken one by one, whether done by a single person or a group, regardless of whether the motive is terrorism, racism, religious, anti-religious or homophobic is a free will choice. It is the God given free will choice. What these people have chosen is darkness. What these people have chosen is hatred. What these people have chosen is to not choose love. God is love. Therefore, if they have chosen anything other than love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control, then they have not chose God. So yes, where was God? He was not chosen by this person or group of people, rather, they chose against Him.

But what about the victims? Did they not choose God? I pray that they did. Life is our one shot at finding, following and accepting God. Part of that acceptance includes peace that is found in knowing that life will include pain, suffering, sorrow and loss. None of these things are eternal. Life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity. I understand that this can be a tough concept. Think of it like this: During a Children’s Sermon I once took a large piece of white paper and put on it one single black dot. When I held it up for the children to see, I asked the “What do you see?”. The kids all responded “A tiny black dot”. This analogy was used to show how we as humans tend to focus on the little speck of dark and not the immensely larger area of white. This is also true if you use the black dot as our time in this life compared to eternity.

“Jesus we need you now more than ever”. Yes, we absolutely do, but, he is just as he was, is and always will be, waiting for us to accept him. He is waiting for all of God’s created to turn to him, follow him, live by his commandments and accept that we are failures and cannot do it on our own. The reward is eternal life. There is no other way. The pain, suffering and sorrow of this life will one day end for us all. Choose to end this life, no matter how long or short it may seem, resting in knowing that eternity in paradise with the one who created us awaits. With that said, if you know and love someone who has turned their back from the notion that there is a God, do everything you can to lead them to Him. This is not a game. It is not a fleeting thought. Just as I heard in an amazing *Sermon last night, remember that Jesus came to be an annoyance. He came to disrupt our sinful life. He came to be a pebble in our shoe and a grain of sand in the eye. He came to disrupt us from death and sin.

Where is God? If you are a believer and have accepted him, he is in you. He is waiting for you to spread his kingdom to those who walk in darkness. If you have not yet chosen him and his ways, he is waiting. He is always one breath away. Ask for him to come into your life. Ask for him to take charge of your family and those you love. Ask him to disrupt your life. Walk in his ways. Be His hands and feet. And in preparation for when he calls you home, ask him to prepare you.

This is not a game. It is not about how many “Likes” Jesus can get. It truly is the chance for every one of us to choose him and reach as many people as we can, while we are here, with his message of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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*Notes from the Sermon referenced above were taken from the Epiphany Sermon written and delivered by Father Tom Janikowski on January 6, 2017 at Trinity Anglican Church, Rock Island, IL.

God and Marriage

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Marriage. What a beautiful gift from God. Skydiving. What a cool act of faith. Now, with these two acts in mind, I have a question for you. Would you skydive without a parachute? Of course not. Would you get married without God as the head of your life and your marriage. Same difference. How can either of you expect to have a successful marriage without knowing that both of you are able to love something outside of yourself? I am here to tell you, I would love that parachute with all my might as I jumped from a perfectly good airplane. The same must be true of you individually, your spouse individually, and the two of you collectively.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24–27)

There are many reasons people get married, and many more excuses to get divorced. Kids, finances, affairs, “growing apart”, just to name a few I have recently heard. No storm, none that is known to man, can destroy the house that God has built. For it is only when one or both of the people in a marriage decide not only to take control, but also, decide what plans and joy are for their life, does the marriage begin to slide and ultimately may fail. Same with our own individual lives. We do not get to decide what God has planned for our journey. We continue to grow stronger in faith and have a closer relationship throughout our entire journey. For it is only when we take back control that we decide that we don’t like God’s plan and that our life has become dull and sour.

Marriage is an amazing journey. Yes, it is full of ups and downs. This is the exercise that God puts us through, together, in order to ultimately grow closer to Him and stronger in faith. If you are not yet married, rely in peace. Rely on God’s plan. Prepare yourself for the one that God has ultimately chosen for you. Grow, stronger in faith and relationship to God, so that when the time comes, and it will, you and your designed partner will meet and build that strong house on firm ground.

If you find yourself in a marriage that was not begun with God, rely on the fact that you are growing where you were planted. Get tapped into God’s plan for your lives. Be the encourager in the relationship to start seeking his will together. Can you honestly say that God is not big enough to save what he brought together? You can grow, no matter where your relationship is, as God is waiting for you….both.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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