You’ll Understand If You’ve Been Abandoned

Normally I would do a Resource Friday today and give you a resource for personal development. But given the significance of today being Good Friday, I elected to give you a look into my walk of faith. I hope you let me know about yours in the comments!

I grew up in the church and because of that, I frequently have a difficult time fully understanding the magnitude of what Christ did for me on the cross. He was utterly abandoned. I struggle with it throughout the year because I know that I take it for granted. But even more so, I struggle with it around Easter because that’s when Jesus actually took on our sins.

Sometimes I wish I could experience what it’s like to become a new Christian — to experience that overwhelming gratitude for what Christ did. 

I always try to force myself to understand Easter’s significance but it always proves to be a challenge. I had a realization this past year, though.

I have some incredibly close and deep friendships. My close friends and I don’t have shallow relationships – they’re deep and continue to deepen. For purposes of this blog post, I’ll talk specifically about my groomsmen (I talk about the depth of these friendships in my book Graduated and Clueless). These guys are tough and strong. They encourage me in ways that others don’t. They are part of the reason that I have a strong faith.

Similarly, my dad and I have a very deep relationship. He taught me how to become a man. He taught me my faith along with my mom, but having that male example in my life is partly what led me to take my faith as my own.

Having said that, this was my realization:

If my groomsmen abandoned me in the face of difficulty, my strength would be severely threatened. And if my very own dad turned his back on me, it would be only by God’s grace and sustaining love that I could continue on.

I would feel unbelievably lonely and abandoned. The reason I say this is because this has been the first time in a very long time that I have (somewhat) been able to begin to comprehend what Jesus experienced on Good Friday.

The utter abandon jesus felt

Photo by Pixabay (Pexels.com)

Jesus’ twelve closest friends (with whom He spent every waking moment) abandoned Him when He needed them. One denied that he even knew Jesus, one betrayed Him to His enemies, and the rest ran away. His own dad abandoned Him. 

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”

Matthew 27:46

I can kind of begin to understand that loneliness. And if you’ve ever been abandoned, you can understand even better. What I can’t comprehend is experiencing that while being physically beaten beyond belief and simultaneously carrying the weight of the world’s sins.

I am incredibly grateful for the life that we can receive if we give our lives to Christ. I just struggle with understanding the weight of my sin and what He had to suffer for it.

My life for his

What’s unbelievable is the worth that God places on our lives individually. When I purchase something, I’m saying that it is worth the value of money with which I am purchasing it. With Christ’s death, God placed the value of each of our lives with that of Christ’s. He equaled our value to that of His own son.

The weight of sin is significant but if you have knowledge of what comes on Easter Sunday, there is an immense comfort that comes with it. Sin didn’t win when it seemed like it did. Look at Luke 24 for the account of the resurrection.

How do you prepare your heart and mind for the Easter Season? 

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and me a follow!

And Happy Easter, everyone!

– Caleb

Thanks to Rene Asmussen from Pexels for the feature photo!

Jesus’ Actions That I Don’t Understand

For many years, as I’ve read through parts of the Gospels, I’ve been confused by a certain action of Jesus’. Let’s look at Mark 7: 31-36.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

My immediate reaction is

Why would Jesus command people to tell no one?

In Luke 7: 18-23, John the Baptist asks Jesus from prison if He is the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t say “What the heck, John? I thought you knew I was the Messiah!” Instead, He says to John’s followers

Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Why Doesn’t Jesus give a straight answer?

The ESV Study Bible suggests that Jesus’ command to not tell anyone about the miracles is because He didn’t want people to follow Him only because of the miracles he performed. That makes sense to me but I want to look at it from a slightly different angle.

Personally, I wonder if Jesus wants people to come to their own conclusion about Him.

Think back to when you were in grade school and you couldn’t remember how to spell a word (it still happens to me, dang it). To resolve the issue, you may have asked a parent how to spell it. And what did they say?

“How do you think you spell it, Caleb?”

I suspect your parents didn’t use my name unless you and I have the same name in which case, that is awesome. My point is this: If I could spell the word correctly, it was more likely I would remember how to spell it correctly in the future.

Your own conclusions

When Jesus doesn’t give straight answers in the Gospels, I wonder if He’s trying to get people to come to their own conclusions about Him (of course, within the context of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives). I think that when people come to their own conclusions about Jesus being the Savior of the World, it gives them much more clarity and strength in their spiritual lives.

When I was growing up, I was a true believer in Christ and what He did for me on the cross. I went to church because that’s where my parents took me every week. When I hit college and spent much more time away from home, my parents, and my comfort zone, that was when I really took my faith as my own. Yes, I was a Christian before that.

However, I see that as the time when I came to my own conclusions about Jesus. 

It was when I really took my faith to be my own. It wasn’t just what my parents believed. It was my belief and I believe that was something that caused my faith to increase. I owned it and it helped solidify my faith in Christ for when I entered the real world.

Why do you think Jesus doesn’t give a straight answer?

I honestly want to hear what you think in the comments below! What conclusions have you come to about Jesus?

-Caleb

Give this blog post a like if you found that it provided value to you today!

Thank you to Wendy van Zyl from Pexels for the use of her photo! Check out her Instagram here.

God Came in a Christmas Whisper​

Merry Day-After-Christmas! People get through Christmas day and start looking towards the new year and everything that it brings. Same with me! But today, I write a Christmas post because Christmas isn’t over (and yesterday was pretty busy). In fact, we celebrate Christmas all the way through January 6th because that’s when the church celebrates the coming of the wise men (Matthew 2).

Our church has a Christmas day service. In the sermon, our pastor made note of the significance of Christ’s name “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He talked about the Jews’ expectations of Jesus. They thought He would be a mighty warrior. They thought He would save them from the rule of the Romans. But none of that happened. In fact, Jesus was nothing like what they expected. Expectations are what connect this to another Bible story.

In the weeks running up to Christmas, our pastor has been working through a sermon series titled “God With Us.” In one sermon, he connected the story of Christmas with the story of Elijah.

Elijah was just coming off the major high of showing God’s power to King Ahab and his false prophets. But when threatened with death, Elijah fell into utter despair until God spoke to him about God’s plan.

God spoke to elijah

Here is 1 Kings 19:12-14:

And He said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Despite God’s power, He showed up in one of the quietest ways. Something so quiet that if Elijah hadn’t been listening, he may have missed God’s voice.

The whisper

Pastor’s connection was that when Jesus was born, God whispered because when someone whispers, they have to be close by. I thought I’d take it just a slightly different direction.

When Jesus was born, He was the whisper.

Jesus was nothing like what the people expected. Figuratively speaking, they thought He was going to come in as a mighty wind, a trembling earthquake, and a blazing fire. They thought He was going to wipe out the Romans and establish Himself as the King with a huge display of power and glory.

Jesus’ actions fit the expectations of the people so poorly that they didn’t even think He might be the King (of course, except for the few to whom He revealed Himself).

A whisper seems pretty humble compared to wind, an earthquake, and fire. Compared to what they thought the Christ would be like, Jesus was the whisper. Not only was He introduced to the world as a baby, but He wasn’t even born in a house. He spent His first night as a baby in a barn.

He wasn’t welcomed into the world by wealthy people. The first people to meet their savior was a bunch of shepherds. Those who weren’t listening for the whisper completely missed it.

Different Expectations

In so many ways, I find Jesus changes my understanding of how He works. We make movies that emphasize strength and power. Yet God’s entrance into humanity didn’t garner any newspaper headlines. It was just a simple whisper.

As a long time follower of Christ, I always appreciate a new perspective on a piece of Scripture I know well. Not that this has to change your perspective on Christmas. I merely wanted to share because it gave me a different understanding of what Jesus’ birth really meant in the story woven through Scripture.

Merry Christmas, all!

-Caleb

What if it Isn’t Economically Viable to Love Thy Neighbor (or Help Refugees)?

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is what the Bible says. And it’s what keeps ringing in my head as I argue with myself. Many of you know that there is a caravan of thousands upon thousands of people traveling up through Mexico from countries to the South, claiming they seek protection from the poverty, gang violence and general danger in their countries.

What are we supposed to do?

I have two conflicting arguments in my head. The first is this: I, as a Christian, am to love people with Christ’s love. I am to clothe those who need clothed, feed those who need fed, visit those who need visited. Therefore, it certainly seems reasonable to accept those who need help. Here’s the second argument.

What if it isn’t economically viable to settle refugees in our country? 

This year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) came out with a study detailing the cost of settling refugees in America. They said that in the first 5 years of a refugee’s time in America, it costs the taxpayers just under $80,000. This is per refugee and adds up to about $1.8 billion annually. This is an astronomical cost to the average American. And if we just look at the 7000+ people working their way up Mexico, if we let all of them into the States, that alone would cost over $560 million just in the first 5 years.

So what’s the solution? Do we take them in and bite the cost or leave them out because we can’t handle the financial load? 

As much as I don’t want to say it, this isn’t economically sustainable. Shoot, Americans aren’t even financially sustaining themselves. Herein lies my problem and I want to know what you think.

I personally think that we are called to love people as Christ loved us. He sacrificed on the cross for us and we are to sacrifice for others. But what if we have nothing to sacrifice? How can we love others (especially those in need from other countries) even when we can’t provide for them?

In 1 Timothy 5, when the apostle Paul talks about an individual who doesn’t provide for his own as “worse than an unbeliever,” does that only apply to the family unit or does it apply to providing for our country as well?

I do not know the answer. 

I think that we can certainly change laws and policies to give us more capability as a country to help those in need. If we merely lived by the “if one doesn’t work, he shall not eat” policy (1 Thessalonians 3:10), that alone would decrease the number of people who live on food stamps and government welfare. Certainly there are people who truly need the help to get back on their feet but many don’t.

If we can control spending on a national and individual level, that would work wonders for the system. If we as households paid off all debt, that would economically boost our nation’s prosperity and allow more financial room for helping and aiding refugees.

And there’s certainly a lot to say about entering a country legally, obtaining all the necessary work permits and abiding as a functioning member of society, even without citizenship.

I must admit, I fall drastically short of the command to love my neighbor, even the one that physically lives next door. We’re not even talking about people from neighboring countries.

But that command comes straight from Jesus. I don’t want to add to or take away from what He said on the subject but I’m curious what you think. I really want some opinions!

What do you think about allowing refugees into America? What do you think is a sustainable method of helping them? 

Do you think we can love the refugees even if we don’t allow them into our country? 

Please, comment below what your opinion is. I will be fascinated to learn more perspectives.

-Caleb

Why I Haven’t Written About Faith in a Long Time

Two and a half years ago, I was entering my fifth and final year of college at The Ohio State University. It was a tough run and one way I chose to mentally process all my experiences was through writing. I found it a slow, effective process to put my thoughts into coherent sentences (whether or not they were actually coherent).

So, as every rational, busy college student would do, I started a blog. The Buckeye Beacon as I called it. It was going to be the next thing that OSU students would read every week. I even imagined people recognizing me on campus!

A friend of mine, Ethan, would take turns with me writing a blog post every week. It gave our blog a consistent stream of posts while providing us a fun way of sharing thoughts and improving our writing.

We even reached a rather consistent three views a day. Not bad for a couple whippersnapper engineering students.

In May of 2017, I obtained that infamous bachelor degree, then subsequently exited the bachelor scene as I tied the knot with my girlfriend of two years. And I dropped off with my blogging. My Facebook friends actually got a break from Caleb’s stream of consciousness every week.

“He’s like everyone else on Facebook except he has way to much to say in one status update” I could imagine them saying. 

But I had a wife to spend time with every evening after farming my desk for eight hours at my new engineering job. I gave it a break. It didn’t, however, change the fact that writing continued to be an effective way for me to communicate. So, I wrote a book about graduating and entering the real world called Graduated and Clueless.

And I started this blog.

I have had this intense desire ever since I graduated to reach the greatest potential God has for me.

I wanted to grow in my leadership. I wanted to improve my communication both in writing and in speech. I wanted grow in my character and influence. And I wanted to have a consistent avenue through which I could communicate what I am learning and how I’m growing. The only problem is, I had branded The Buckeye Beacon as a spiritual-growth blog. Nothing’s wrong with that until you write about something personal-growth related and no one reads it. What a motivator.

Why not brand a new blog directed only towards personal growth for students and young professionals? Keep them separate. It’s like Church and State in blog form.

Now I had two blogs to write: one for my spiritual growth whenever I had time and one for personal growth every week.

This was when I realized: personal growth involves improving every major part of me. 

For me, Jesus Christ is the one person that affects everything I do. I believe in eternity (both Heaven and Hell) and the power of His blood to save me from my sins. Because of this deep belief, it influences my thoughts and my actions, my pursuits and my motives.

My faith directly affects my growth into who God wants me to be. 

I haven’t written on faith in a long time because I’ve been trying to focus my writing on branding a new blog. I will no longer be blogging at the The Buckeye Beacon but I will be sharing how faith influences me here at Master the Simple. I don’t want to feel like the two subjects I’m writing about are separate. They’re not because the one directly influences the other. Spiritual growth is even more important than personal growth and I will not be afraid to let the two connect.

If you don’t consider yourself spiritual, that’s ok. This blog still focuses on growth personally and professionally. However, my belief is that we are deeply spiritual beings and what I write will be impacted by that belief.

Thread Quest:

Do you allow your beliefs to impact the other areas of your life?

I certainly struggle with it. But I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb