All posts by daniel

Ephesians 3:10-11

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”This verse is DENSE, so I’ll go through it line by line.His intent: This means that God had a plan the moment He created everything. He is intentional.was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known: This line has three elements. First, it is NOW not later and not before but now. Second, something is being accomplished through the church–through God’s people. And third, we are to make God’s multifaceted wisdom known.

according to His eternal purpose: once again, God has had a plan since the begining.

which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord: Pretty simple: mission accomplished.

This verse is great for me and I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I gotta run.

God bless,
daniel

Matt 9:37-38

“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.””Wow, what an awesome verse! I’ve been working with Ch Hundley the last few weeks and we’ve been coming up with a lot of good ideas for the 1700 service. He wants to make the congregation healthy enough to survive his PCS. From what I understand that service has had a rough couple of years.

Ch Hundley and the rest of the Protestant Advisory Council members (PACs) feel the only way to make that service healthy is by making it self-sufficient. The body can’t hold itself up if all the parts aren’t working together in harmony and mutually supporting one another. Obviously that applies to our 1700 service too!

However, we want to see the right people in the right spots too. We don’t want people to feel obligate and we don’t want people doing something they don’t have any talent for. If I’m a horrible teacher and I’m teaching the Sunday school class, then I’m kinda in the way of who God really wants to teach.

This verse reminds me that no matter what, we need to consult God first and foremost. The Holy Spirit will call the workers into the harvest field, and the Spirit will even call those workers to the right spots. That’s what I pray happens. I pray that we can see the right people called and serving in the right spots.

And why do we want to have a healthy service? Two reasons! First and foremost, to bring glory to God. And second, to see more people come to know Jesus.

Peace and love,
daniel

Ecclesiastes 12:13

This week my memory verse was Ecclesiastes 12:13 from the NIV. It goes like this:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

The first book from the Bible I wanted to read this year was Ecclesiastes (which some of you know is my favorite OT book) because it reminds me of how short and life is. And, in the grand scheme of things, it reminds me that no matter what I do, if it’s not done to further God’s Kingdom, it is meaningless!

Chapter 12 is the final chapter of this book. In the end, the author tells us the moral of the story. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

This verse reminds me that living for anything other than God is meaningless.

God bless,
daniel

Afghanistan?!

To simplify things:

On Tuesday, January 1 at about 2300 Anchorage time, I walked away from my lovely bride, my home, my entire life and stepped onto a plane. My final destination: Afghanistan.

On Saturday, July 12 at approximately 1430 Anchorage time I returned and got to see my friends and, most importantly, my beautiful wife.

But it’s that … in the middle where it gets complicated. How do I put six months of indescribable experiences into words?

The most important thing I can tell you about my experience is that something very simple has been proven to me: God is ALWAYS with me. When the Bible says Immanuel means “God with us” it really means God with us.

He’s always with you, too. If you don’t believe me, go somewhere else. You’ll realize He’s there too. And if, at your new location, you rely more heavily upon Him, He’ll be ready to provide the strength you need. Of course, we need Him constantly. His Spirit is as necessary as the air you breath.

Another thing I’ve learned is that the Body is everywhere too. What I mean is this: no matter where you go, God is with you and so are other Christians. I’ve met some really great people during my travels and I’ve learned a lot from of them. I only hope I was able to encourage them too.

Also, God shown me something very simple. If I ever want to reach other people and change lives; if God will ever be able to use me for His glory, I MUST, MUST, MUST love other people. No matter what I try and no matter who I meet, if I’m not empowered and motivated by love, then it’ll never have impact.

It helps me to read Ephesians 2. In that passage, the author reminds me that I wasn’t always good (and honestly, I’m still not good without the grace of God). The passage reminds me that I was once a filthy sinner in need of being shown the love of God. Now I’m just a filthy sinner who has accepted the forgiveness of God.

What am I trying to say? Basically…I’m not better than anyone and never will be. I am, however, better off than people who haven’t accepted Christ. That’s the only difference. We’re all drowning is a world flooded with sin. The question is, have you received rescue yet?

There are a hundred other experiences I could describe to you. I was sent to Afghanistan as a videographer with a simple mission: Tell the Air Force story. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is six months of video worth? http://www.bagram.afnews.af.mil/library/bagramvideos.asp

I will tell you one thing though. In my experiences I’ve had the privilege of working beside some amazing men and women who are working hard to bring freedom and a better way of life to the men and women of Afghanistan. Our servicemembers have inspired me with their selfless service working for the freedom of ANOTHER COUNTRY! We have an all-volunteer force. No one got drafted. None of these people have to be there, but they are. And I’m honored I was able to meet them and do my best to tell their stories.

I know I haven’t told a lot about my experiences in Afghanistan, so if you have any questions send me a message and I’ll be sure to answer them.

It’s good to be back. I love you guys and I hope that 2008 has been good to you! God bless!

Communion Message

This is the Communion Message I gave a week ago at the campus-lead church service:

Good morning church, my name is Daniel Delgado and I’m going to give a communion message. Today is a campus-led service, so this will be a little longer than most communion messages. I hope we’ve all been touched by the stories that were just shared with us. I also hope that we’ve all seen a common theme of lives changed, hearts set right, and souls liberated. And it’s with the theme of liberation that I’d like to look at communion. The word “communion” comes from the Latin word “communio,” which means “sharing in common.” I think that, as Christians, there are many things we share in common. But arguably, the most important is the fact that we’ve all been liberated from sin and communion is a time to not only remember that, but also to celebrate our liberation! I’m not sure if this is a new take on communion or not, but I’d like to share it with you. Let’s open our bibles to Mark 14:12-16:

12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

We’ve all heard this before and we’ve all had the chance to get bored with it and think we’ve got this passage figured out. But have we dissected it yet? Have we really rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into this passage? Or have we simply taken it at face value? I think if we look carefully, we find that there are a couple questions that beg to be asked:

What is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and what is the significance of Passover?

Well I’m glad you asked, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a celebration established by God in Exodus 12:17-20. This is when the Jews celebrate God liberating His people from slavery in Egypt.

This is like the Jewish Independence Day. Now in America, when we think Independence Day, we think red, white, and blue, fireworks, and barbeques. But for the Jews, this holy holiday is a time of reverence, fasting, and remembering what God has done. This holiday is a little more holy to the Jews of Jesus’ time that the 4th of July is to modern America.

And as we all know, freedom isn’t free, so who paid the price for the Jewish freedom? Well, in order for the Egyptian Pharaoh to set the Jews free, it took ten plagues, culminating with the death of the entire first born population in Egypt. This was especially devastating because the first born was supposed to carry on the family legacy; they received a double-portion of the family inheritance, and were also first in line to inherit the throne in royal families. The loss of an entire generation of firstborns had catastrophic effects to Egypt. Also, up until now, the plagues hadn’t affected Pharaoh—just his subjects—but this hit close to home because now his throne had no heir. There was no on to carry on his legacy. After this the Pharaoh didn’t want to have anything to do with the Jewish people.

From then on, this holiday has been celebrated by the Jews. So here are some key points.

* God’s People were slaves.

* God sacrificed the firstborn.

* God’s people were set free so they could worship God.

* God commanded the Jews to celebrate this liberation with the Passover Feast.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Let’s look at communion. When Jesus, at the Passover Feast, established the Lord’s Supper, he was telling us that The Firstborn over all creation was preparing to die for us to set us free from our bondage to sin. We all know what happens next, Jesus is betrayed and crucified within 24hrs of establishing communion. Coincidence? I doubt it! But it was necessary for Him to die if we were ever going to be set free. It was a cost that had to be paid if God’s people were ever going to see liberation from slavery.

I can’t help but marvel at the connection between the Passover Feast and communion. And as we take communion today, I want us all to think about what we share in common. Communion connects us all. It’s one body, broken into many pieces and becomes a part of us. We all, like God’s people so long ago, have been liberated from slavery.

Zacchaues

Does it ever feel like no matter what, you can’t see the face of Jesus? It’s like there’s a physical wall around you that’s blocking your vision? Or maybe others around you are dragging you down spiritually and preventing you from seeing Jesus?

I want to tell you about a man who, despite his physical limitations, did all he could to see Jesus.

Luke 19:1-6:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that Jesus could sense Zacchaeus’ yearning to see him. It may even be that Jesus was rewarding Zacchaeus for his zeal by having dinner at his house that night. I certainly know I’d love to have Jesus spend the night at my place!

But the question is, when we feel like there’s nothing we can do to see Jesus, when we feel spiritually exhausted or burnt out, what do you do? Do you simply let yourself stay that way, or do you put effort into having that relationship—that closeness with Jesus?

Zacchaeus could have simply let his chance slip past him. He could have decided that the crowd around him was too large and there was no way he would be able to see Jesus. He could have even felt sorry for himself and blamed God for making him so short in the first place.

The point is, when we want to see Jesus, we can; all that’s required of us is to put some effort into it! God may have made me short, but he also gave me the sycamore-fig tree to climb. Never let those around you stop you from seeing your Maker’s face!

So how can we apply this practically? I think Jesus helps us in Luke 13:24 when He tells us to “make every effort…”

Make every effort to be close to Jesus.

The sad thing is this puts a lot of responsibility on me to be close to Jesus. Ultimately, the question isn’t whether or not I can have a close relationship with God, but whether or not I’m willing to work for it. Am I willing to make every effort? Am I willing to be inventive and see the tree that I can climb?

And when I do get in a good spot, am I willing to keep looking? Am I willing to build up my endurance? I know for me, it’s easy to feel like I’ve arrived and I don’t have to keep on trying anymore. I feel like I’m finished earning my “Jesus points” and now I can just sit back and relax, but I have to keep on working. A fisherman doesn’t catch fish once and then think he’s finished. A farmer doesn’t have one successful harvest and then think his farm will just run itself.

Galatians 6:9 says:

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I think another area where many people fall short is not making time for God. It’s easy for us to make excuses about how busy we are, how unfair life is, how we’ll get to it “someday.” But that “someday I’ll be good enough” attitude is self-destructive because it destroys hope for today. Check out 1 Peter 2:9-10:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

I remember how it felt the first time I read this. What I quickly realized was that it’s written in the present-tense. It doesn’t say ‘someday you will be a chosen people,” “someday you will be the people of God.”

No!

It says “you are a chosen people.” It says “but now you are the people of God.” Not someday far from now, but today…right now! The fact that God looks at us as royalty right this very moment motivates me to live up that that.

Live a life worthy of the title you’ve been granted by God.

Read that again to make sure it sinks in…

Live a life worthy of the title you’ve been granted by God.

If God considers you a royal priesthood, perhaps it’s time to make sure you’re living like one. So how do we do that? Well in the same passage it tells us to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness.” Praise Him. Let your whole life praise Him. Live your life in a way that praises Him to all who are around you.

I know you’ve met someone whose light just radiates. The moment you’re around them you know they’re a believer. I know a few people like this. After being around them for just a few minutes, I’m already in a great mood. I long to be one of these people—to have such a positive impact on those around me.

But for now, it helps to know that I’m one of God’s chosen; it helps to know that I’m part of a royal priesthood; that I’m part of His holy nation; that I belong to God.

So do you!

You’re chosen by God. You’re part of a royal priesthood. You’re a citizen of the same holy nation. You, too, belong to God.

I encourage you to live a life worthy of the title you’ve been granted.

The Way

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Then came light, water, earth, plants, sky, stars. After all this had been made, God created life: animals, birds, fish. Finally, God created us in his own image. Genesis 1:31 says that “God saw all He had made and it was very good,”but this goodness didn’t last for long. Sin soon entered the world with the fall of man—with the eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God originally created everything “good” but evil had been introduced to His creation. Like a disease with no cure, evil has passed to all mankind since then. We’ve been born with this evil inside us and for thousands of years it seemed as though there was nothing that could be done.Then came Jesus. Not only did he save us from our sin, he set us free from it. Mankind was liberated from their bondage to sin. God’s grace is like a vaccine that can be spread if you have enough exposure to those who’ve already been cured (i.e. Christians). This cure wasn’t something you could be born with, but instead something you chose—like in the Matrix, when Neo chose to take the red pill to wake up, we have the option to wake up from our slumber and be liberated from sin. This option is now available to us all; to wake up from our slumber and live a new life.

But is that all? Are we simply saved to go to heaven while the formerly good creation continues to be infested with sin? Do we separate ourselves from everything around us and try to stay in spiritual quarantine?

Hardly! Salvation is just the beginning. Jesus came not only to save us, but to restore all creation to the peaceful way it was in the Garden of Eden! Romans 8:19-21 tells us:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the son of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

I’m not trying to say that salvation is that bad of a gig, but if that’s all you’re interested in, you’ve missed half the point! Immediately after Jesus comes back to life we find the Garden of Eden being hinted at. In John 20:10-18, three days after Jesus had died, we find his mother, Mary, standing outside his tomb all by herself, weeping. Next two angels appear and talk to her. Mary turns around and bumps into Jesus. Thinking he’s the gardener, she makes conversation with him for a moment, then Jesus reveals who he is and tells her to go tell the others.

Isn’t it strange that Jesus’ own mother mistakes Him for a stranger? Or was it simply Jesus disguising himself somehow? I opt for the latter, I think Jesus wanted her to think he was the gardener. Why?

Because all the Jews of Jesus’ day had memorized the first five books of the Bible (the Septuagint) as thoroughly as most Americans have the Pledge of Allegiance memorized or as well as a lot of Christians have the Lord’s Prayer memorized. So if I mentioned a nation that was indivisible, it might make you think of the Pledge or if I said forgive us our trespasses you might think of the Lord’s Prayer, especially if it were something that we talked about on a daily basis!

So the point is, when the readers of the Gospel of John heard the word garden, it may have made them think of The Garden of Eden. The place where creation was in harmony and everything was the way it should have been. Sadly, man has been banned from the Garden of Eden. But is it possible for us to return all of creation to a place where we’re in Harmony with our Maker?

Maybe.

If you look at Genesis 3:21-24, you’ll find the story of us being banned from the Garden:

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

I think something goes unnoticed in the story of the Garden of Eden. Did you know there were two trees? Yes, two! In Genesis 2:9 it says that there was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but there was also the tree of life! If you look carefully you’ll notice it says in Genesis 2:16, God tells Adam he can eat from ANY tree he wants. So originally we were allowed to eat from the tree of life. I’m not exactly sure what the fruit from the tree of life was, but have you ever had fresh pineapple? Dang!

Next thing we know, in Genesis 3, Satan convinces us that we can’t trust God. Satan tells us we should eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We foolishly believe him and next thing you know we’re being banished from the Garden of Eden.

Something interesting to note is that God says we must not be allowed to reach out and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever. There are other parts where God tells us if we eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil we will “surely die.” Many believe, and I agree, that man was originally supposed to live in the Garden forever and never die. We were made immortal. The way for us to attain this eternal life was to eat from the tree of life like it says in Genesis 3:22.

So back to my original question, could there be a way to restore harmony? Perhaps. If you read Genesis 3:24 very carefully, you’ll notice something interesting about the way it’s phrased. It says that the “way” to the tree of life is banned.

Where else does the Bible refer to the way? Look at John 14:6:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Jesus is the way.

Jesus is the way to forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is the way to the tree of life.

Jesus is the way to eternal life.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Faith and “Planning?

As a Christian, I know that God has big plans for me. I know that my life has a calling. Second Peter 1:4 invites us to “participate in [God’s] divine nature.” When we become Christians, we choose to accept that invitation.

Jesus’ last words are an invitation for us not only to join his ministry, but to take it everywhere. Let’s read Matthew 28:18-20:

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

This verse makes me think of Jesus shooing the Apostles. “Get! Go do something; I’ve got your back. Make a difference!”

The only question that remains is, “What does God want me to do?”

And there we have our problem. One day I realized that the verse that defined my (pseudo) walk with Christ (it was really just standing in one place) had become Psalm 27:14:

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Those who know me well will tell you that I always have a plan. I’m the type that likes to know where I’m going to be 10 years from now.

When I started living for Christ, I realized that my plans needed to change. I didn’t know where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to do, but I knew with absolute certainty that God had other plans for me. But I had become so obsessed with what God wanted me to do that I hadn’t done anything or made any decisions.

It felt like I had been in my car at a four-way stop, wondering which way to go. I had been so afraid of going in the wrong direction that I had decided to simply put my car into park and wait.

I didn’t know what I was waiting for, perhaps a burning bush?

I knew for a long time that I was on the verge of figuring it out; I just needed to give it more time. Then one day my answer was finally reveled to me. It definitely wasn’t the answer that I was expecting.

“There is no plan, only a person.”

I had been asking the wrong questions! Instead of focusing on what God wants me to do, I needed to be asking myself who God wanted me to be!

As far as my future is concerned, what I want to do, where I want to go, that choice is mine. God gives us freedom to pursue whatever we’re passionate about. I think the key is to become the Godly person that God has called us to be. Then, when big life decisions arrive, we’ll be equipped as a person to make the right choices.

Jesus, our perfect example of faith, never taught people how to plan out a successful Christian life. Jesus taught us who to be! Suddenly, my focus became less outward, and more inward.

I began to ask myself, “What’s the point of being a Christian?” What did Jesus have in mind when he was teaching his disciples? Jesus was talking about us in John 10:10 when he says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Jesus came not to hinder us but to set us free.

Looking back, all of my hesitation and second-guessing seemed very foolish. I have the Holy Spirit as my guide. It’s very liberating when you realize that nothing is the wrong choice when you have furthering God’s Kingdom in mind.

In Hebrews 11 we find the author discussing faith. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “…faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith isn’t knowing something, it’s trusting God and taking a risk and putting that faith doing something. Faith without action is no faith at all. If there isn’t a fight or struggle for something it probably isn’t worth having. Later in the chapter the author lists dozens of Old Testament heroes who were all successful because of their faith in God. These ‘ancients’ never knew what the outcome of their actions would be, but they knew that God was with them. So, with faith that still sets an example, they took their chances.

Looking back, I couldn’t even remember what had caused me to be so afraid. Galatians 2:20 says,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

My problem was I hadn’t been living by faith in the Son of God. Why be afraid? We’ve already died to self. Now, Christ lives in us.

I’ll admit, the world can be a scary place but Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This verse has a warning and a promise in it. First, we’re guaranteed to have hardships, but Jesus also promises that he has overcome this world. If He is within us, then we also, through Him, have conquered this world. Romans 6:13 tells us:

“Do not offer the parts of your bad to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”

The encouraging thing about this verse is the fact that, once we’ve offered ourselves to God and put the old nature to death, we can become ‘instruments of righteousness.’ Suddenly we have purpose. Suddenly we are free to make a difference.

I was finally ready to start making a difference, but I was still wondering how I was going to do it. I wanted some type of assurance that as I grew closer to God, He would bless my plans. Well in John 15:7 Jesus states, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” By remaining true to God, I can rest assured that my actions will be blessed. Ultimately, that’s what faith is…taking a chance and knowing that God has got your back.

Seek ye first…

One of the things that I love about God is when He tells us to do something, He does it Himself too. God sets the example. He tells us to love Him because He loved us first. It’s not something that we initiate, but it is instead a reaction to how wonderful He is. For example, Leviticus 19:18 says,“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

God sets the example in two ways in this scripture. First of all, our God is a forgiving God who does not bear a grudge but instead forgives us for our sins. Secondly, God showed us how to love one another by putting skin on and dying for us on the cross. So with Gods ability to lead by example in mind, let’s look at Matt 5:33-37:

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by Heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

This is a passage from Jesus Sermon on the Mount. Here we have Jesus telling us that anything we say we will do should be done. For example, if I tell my mother I’ll call her on Saturday, there isn’t any need for me to say, “Mother, I swear by the hair on my head that I shall call you before the sun sets on Saturday.” Just the fact that I said I would call should be more than sufficient.

God would never ask more of us that He could give, which is why I like to think of the Bible as a promise. I know I can take God at His Word. I know that if God says He loves me, there isn’t any need to swear by anything. His word alone can be trusted. As we go through more scriptures, look for two things: look for a challenge, and look for a promise. You’ll see what I mean.

One of the greatest challenges of being a Christian is not worrying. I get so caught up with work and my career, social engagements, my lack of a dating life, the list goes on and on. Eventually I get so concerned with all these side things that I forget that my primary focus should be on my walk with Christ; everything else is secondary, whether I can remember that or not. I feel like the disciples when Jesus feeds five thousand: They were so worried about the problem of feeding the crowds that they lost sight of the solution: Jesus Christ, who had the power to feed the crowd easily! (Just a neat little fact: this is the only miracle that is in all four gospels.) The bottom line is this: if we remain intently focused on Jesus, He will provide for us. He tells us this in Matt. 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Ah yes, sweet relief. If I seek after His kingdom and His righteousness (challenge), then everything will be given to me as well (promise)! Yes! But wait a minute…what does seeking His kingdom and His righteousness mean? Do I need to find something? One of the things I’ve noticed and grown to appreciate about reading scripture is that its not about finding answers; its more about seeking a deeper understanding. When I get into the Word, I usually walk away with more questions than answers. So how do we seek His kingdom and His righteousness? Well if you look back at Exodus 20:1-7 you’ll see the first three commandments.

And God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(1) You shall have no other gods before me.
(2) You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (There’s a challenge and a promise if I’ve ever seen one!)
(3) You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

What I’d like to point out is that these are the first three commandments, and they’re all about your relationship with God. The next seven commandments are about your relationships with others. We are called to love God from the inside out. We must first focus on loving Him, and then we will have the ability to love one another. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us how much we are supposed to love God:

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

So we have to love God from deep within us until we have no strength left, and then, just when you think you’re all out of love, we are supposed to love more. But this leads me to another question: How do I love God? What are signs of my love for God? Am I supposed to write ‘I heart God’ on my notebook? Well Jesus answers that question in John 14:21.

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Wow, so one of the signs of my love for Jesus is obedience to His commands? That’s a monumental challenge, but it also comes with a monumental promise. If I love God and develop an obedient attitude, He will love me and Jesus will love me and show himself to me. You want Jesus to show Himself to you? Well that’s easy, just obey His commands. But now I’m left wondering how to obey His commands. Well I’ve got the Ten Commandments as a good start, but it takes more than that. Lets look to Joshua 1:8 for some guidance.

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

God’s Word always amazes me. Here I’m told to meditate on God’s word. I can’t just read it and then brain-dump it. I need to chew on it. I need to look for deeper meaning than what can be easily seen by skimming through. But look at the promise that God gives us here. He tells us that we will be prosperous and successful. So the key to success isn’t thinking and growing rich, it’s thinking and growing in the word of God. There’s a difference between understand something and meditating on it. For example, if you look at the Pharisees, it’s clear that they understood what the scripture meant at face value. ‘Do not murder’ means that you don’t murder. Simple, right? Wrong! Jesus has a deeper understanding into what the Law really means. If you look at Matthew 5:21-22 you’ll see Jesus telling us what God really intended for us:

“You have heard that is was said to the people long ago, Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

So it’s not about simply obeying the commands so that you can check off a list of accomplishments. Its about obeying these commands from the inside out. Psalm 119:9,11 paint an excellent picture of this:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
That I might not sin against you.

Here David tells God that he has hidden Gods commandments in his heart. He had meditated on it, he has searched it for the deeper meaning, and he has realized that Gods word is key to living a Godly lifestyle. It seems so simple, but it’s a challenge.

So let’s review. First and foremost, you can trust God. He will always live up to His end of the deal. The real question is, ‘can we be faithful to Him?’ Next we learn that we need to focus on Him. If we look intently at God, all the problems of the world seem so much smaller in comparison. We learn that if we’re going to love God, we need to know how to follow Him. And finally, the key to loving and following God is getting into His word. So I encourage everyone to dig deep into the truth. If we listen carefully, we will hear what God has to say to us. And that, my friends, is the key to success!

My death.

In early June, I arrived in Alaska. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’d never felt more alone. I had just gone through the worst heart break of my entire life, and I was struggling with a lot of things. The greatest of these struggles was my relationship with God.

Within a few months of being stationed here, I stumbled into a Bible Study group with young adults just like me who were full of questions and had an earnest desire to grow closer to God.

My main issue was that I didn’t trust God. I had heard people talk about surrendering your life to the Lord. I had heard people tell me that I had to trust my life to Christ. I had heard these things all my life, but they had never really seemed to click. One day, I realized how unhappy I was. I missed being in a relationship and desperately wanted to find my soul mate. I wanted my career to be successful. I was obsessed with my health. I worried about a lot of trivial things that don’t truly matter. Finally, I decided to place my primary focus on something greater. (Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33)

Things began to get easier. I learned how to smile again. I learned how to trust the Lord. I learned how to surrender my everything to the one true God, and to allow Him to work His divine plan in my life. He does, after all, have much better plans for me than I could ever come up with on my own.

I began to realize that my temper had melted. I wasn’t as uptight as I was before I arrived in Alaska (heck, my inner-child was making a comeback!). My language wasn’t as harsh as it used to be. God was making powerful transformations in me from the inside out! It felt good!

At about the same time, I began a very personal bible study that lasted a few months. One of the bible verses we discussed really struck close to home: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38.

Wait a second, did this mean what I thought it did?

That true salvation wasn’t an option until after you’ve repented?

Well hey, I never truly repented until I arrived in Alaska!

And according to the verse, the next logical step would be baptism.

That’s the course of events that lead me to my death..and my rebirth.

On February 5th at approximately 11:40 a.m. Daniel Delgado died.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3

On February 5th at approximately 11:41 a.m. Daniel Delgado was brought back to life.

And you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:12

Today I was baptized.

Therefore, is anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave His life for me. Galatians 2:20

Since arriving in Alaska, its safe to say that I have done a lot of growing. I may be thousands of miles away from home, but God has given me a new family.