November 9, 2012
A Letter To My Twitter Followers

To My Twitter Followers,

There’s a phenomenon going on in the Twittersphere called a ‘subtweet.’ This is a phenomenon that can be used for good purposes, bad purposes, and indifferent purposes. Unfortunately, for the most part it is used to do anything but bring glory to God, and I have been guilty of this offense. 

You see, for some reason there’s something in the human psyche that likes to be able to say things to people without actually having to say it to them. To air dirty laundry without having to actually let everyone see the whole picture. It’s a pathetic attempt to make a hopeless grasp for the compassion and attention of the people that read one’s Tweets and it is a path that leads only to destruction.

Recently, there was a time where I was ‘subtweeting’ non stop and I had an opinon on everything. From people’s actions, people’s lack of actions, politics, and so much more. But the real issue is that most of the things that I post come out of a lack of control over situations that I am facing in life and that is why I am writing this; and, there are two reasons that it’s being written:

1) So that I can appologize for the Tweets that I’ve Tweeted out of a lack of self-control.

2) So that I can encourage you to trust the God that most of you claim to believe in.

Each day is a battle. We face an enemy and I’ve found that more often than not the enemy comes in the form of a lack of faith. There are so many stories in the Bible that focus on the faith of people or their lack of faith. Lately, I have been going through the book of Deuteronomy and the resounding theme is the fact that the people of Israel didn’t have the faith to trust that God would fulfill the covenant that He had made with them and their fathers. However, God did fulfill the covenant that He entered into with them and He went way beyond the terms of the covenant. 

He was faithful to them even though their were unfaithful to Him.

That is the same way that God treats us. Even though we are unfaithful to Him, He is still faithful to us. So many times in my life I have disobeyed Him and have been unfaithful to Him. However, each and every time that I have called on His name He has been faithful to answer me.

I hope that you will read this and come to the understanding that all we have to do is trust that God will follow through on the promises that He has made to us. If we just trust in that, then we don’t have to worry about whether or not we have a control of a situation. God has the ultimate control and we must trust in that. If we trust in ourselves all that will come of that is the fact that we will be let down and drowned each and every time. God is with us and He is able to walk with us.

I love each and every one of you,

Max Spencer Haas

*insert pretty picture of my signature*

October 5, 2012
Obedience Isn’t Optional

There have been many times in my life where I’ve wanted to disobey the authority figures in my life and quite a few of those times I’ve actually done just that; but, each of those times there has been a consequence for my actions. I remember when I was in 6th grade, there was a day where my dad was out of town and my brother and I wanted to mess with some of the model rockets that we had. Our mom told us that it wasn’t a good idea to do that and that we needed to wait for our dad to get home before we could play with them. Well, to make a long story short, we didn’t listen to those words of advice. We ended up building a rocket that had more rocket engines on it than the space shuttle. It was so heavy that it didn’t even lift of the ground, even though all the engines fired off. We taped bottle rockets to the sides of the thing and one of them flew off into our neighbors yard and almost lit his lawn on fire. Needless to say, our mom wasn’t happy with us. There was a consequence for what we did… and our dad was the one that gave us the talk on listening to our mom. If we had just listened to what our mom had to say, we wouldn’t have gotten in trouble, but, that’s not what we did and we did get in trouble.

The same principles apple to dealing with God. He commands us to do things and when we disobey Him there are consequences. However, when we listen to Him and follow the commands that He has given to us, we are blessed.

There’s a man in the Bible that is a prime example of listening to God and doing the hard things. His story is found in the 22nd and 23rd chapters of the book of 2nd Kings. His name was Josiah. He became king of Israel when he was eight years old and reigned for a total of thirty one years. I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty freaked out if I became king of a whole nation at the age of eight. But, there’s one verse that sums of the kind of man that Josiah was.

2nd Kings 22:2 says, He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

How crazy is that? This man is compared to King David, one of the most law abiding kings on the whole of Scripture. There’s something that we need to realize when we’re talking about Josiah, though, and that is the fact that the Law was not being followed by the people of Israel when he took the throne. In fact, we are told that they didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the Law. When Josiah found the Law, though, he changed things. He made a decision to follow after God and obey the commandments that had been given to God’s chosen people. We find this part of the story in 2nd Kings 22:11-13.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” 

What a stark contrast this is to the previous kings of Israel. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to realize that everything that your country was doing was wrong in God’s eyes. We need to understand that in the culture of Israel, the king was responsible for the keeping of the Law. It was his job to make sure that the people were following the Law and it was also his job to know the Law. The first thing that a king was supposed to do when he took the throne was to write his own copy of the Law and keep it close to his heart so that the he would know it and be able to keep it in the land. But, the kings of Israel were not doing that and the people were not living according to God’s ways.

There’s one more part of this process that we need to see. The first step was just realizing that Josiah was a person. The second step was realizing that what he was doing was wrong. The story could have ended there. We find in our lives and in the lives of other people that even though people are aware that they are living in sin and doing things wrong, they don’t make the choice to turn away from their selfishness and obey the God that created them. Josiah did make that choice, however.

2nd Kings 23:4-7 is just a sampling of the things that Josiah did to turn Israel back to God. The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

What would our lives look like if we took this radical approach to obedience? Keep in mind that the verses that I shared with you are just a sampling of Josiah’s obedience to God. The list of what he did goes on and on. What if we took this same stance? I would like to think that if we actually lived out the commands of God and followed through with our commitments to Him that things in this would would start to change. People would see that there was something different in our lives.

Obedience brings with it the quality of authenticness and that is something that this world is searching for. It doesn’t do us any good to live double lives where we say one thing and do another. If we claim to believe in God then we must be willing to make hard choices and stand firm on the convictions and commands that He had put into our lives.

I hope that this post will encourage you to not just read the Bible, but to obey the Bible. It’s way to easy for us to think that just because we read God’s word that we have things all figured out; but, the truth of the matter is that unless we do the hard things and put God before ourselves, we will never be living the life that God has called us to live and people will be able to see that we have double standards.

Obedience… It isn’t an optional thing.

September 20, 2012
Life - A Poem

Each day is a new day, 

A new way to be free.

Freed by the love of a savior,

A savior that died so that we might live.

He gave us grace to see,

Only to see the love this world needs.

Life was Bought.

Life was Fought.

Slaves we were.

Slaves we will no longer be.

Each breath is a second chance.

So why do we wait?

All we have is now.

So why do we live?

All we must do is die.

September 18, 2012
How To Live Well: Depart

One of my favorite books in the Bible would be the book of Hebrews. We don’t know who wrote it. Some would say Paul did. Some would say a pupil of Paul. But, whoever wrote the book was clearly anointed by the Holy Spirit to give us some very insightful truths.

We all know that there’s a chapter that’s dedicated to some great people of faith. There are a few people that would go as far to say that it’s a ‘hall of fame’ for the mighty giants of faith. That’s the passage that gets preached out of the most, it’s the one that we look at the most, and it’s the chapter that I’m going to use in order to make my point with this post, even though I could just go against the grain and share the story out of Genesis.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” - Hebrews 11:13-16

These few verses can tell us so very much about the type of lives that we as people that belong to Christ are supposed to be living. The people that are being referenced here are the family of Abraham, and Abraham himself. I wonder if you know his story? Basically what happened was that God called Abraham out of his homeland and made him a promise, the condition for the promise was that Abraham had to leave and not return to the homeland. How scary and messed up would that be? A voice from heaven telling you to get up and leave. But, that’s exactly what Abraham did and he was rewarded for the faith that he had in God. 

As we look at this story and the passage from Hebrews, there is something that’s so critical for us to pick up on. Abraham and his family didn’t go back to the place that they had left. They didn’t look back. They didn’t go back. They didn’t try to get around the command and vision that God had given to them.

So many times in my life I’ve chosen to go down the same road that I’ve been down before and the crazy thing is that I’ve always thought that I’d get a different result from my choice to go down that road. It defies logic to assume that. Why would I or you get a different result from the same choice? God understands that, God knows that, and God tells us that we need to be willing to go a different way than the way that we’ve gone before.

In the passage that I shared with you earlier in this post, God even said that when we choose to go a different way He is not ashamed to be called our God. How awesome is that? He wants us to say that we are His children and that He is our God. But, the catch is we need to be willing to get up and out of the pit that we’ve put ourselves into. We need to be willing to make different choices. We need to be willing to say no to the sin that we’ve previously welcomed into our lives. It’s really that simple. All we have to do is go a different way.

So, what are we going to do… Make the choice to depart from sin and be imported into the Kingdom of God.

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September 10, 2012
How To Live Well: Be Consistent

I have a confession to make… I am not a consistent person.

There. I’ve said it. I’ve gotten it out of the way and I’ve cleared the path for me to write about something that I’m working on, on a very real and very personal level. Do you know the feeling when God tells you that there’s something missing from your life? Well, I’ve had that feeling lately, and He’s been screaming at me that what I’m missing is consistency. Now, the question that you’re going to ask yourself is, “What does this have to do with living well?” Here’s your answer: Everything.

I would like to tell you that the only way to have a good, solid, and secure relationship with our God is a consistent lifestyle. There’s one thing that we must do in order to full realize just how much our God truly loves us, and that one thing is surrender. I’m not talking about the kind of surrender where you say a little prayer and tell God that something is His. I’m talking about the kind of surrender where you actually give God something, you don’t try to hold on to it, and you certainly don’t try to take it back from God. That is the kind of surrender that we must all have in order to realize God’s love for us.

Okay. Sure. Surrender. Elementary concept, right? Well, here’s the thing that you and I both know, we all have the things in our lives that we don’t actually want to surrender to God. Anger. The desire for a significant other. Pornography. Jealousy. Pride. Lies. There are so many things that we all struggle with and that we aren’t willing to give up to God. However, to live a life well, we must be willing to give those things up to God. To be consistent with what we’re willing to ask from God and what we’re willing to give to God.

Most of us don’t have a problem with giving God the good things in our lives, but the question I want to propose to you is this: What right do we have to ask God for the good things, when we aren’t able to give Him the bad things?

Is it right of us to ask God to use us in mighty ways to save people’s souls, even though we aren’t willing to surrender our sin to Him and be consistent with the way that we approach Him? I would argue that we can’t do that. Actually, I would argue that God isn’t going to even be able to use us in the ways that He wants to use us if we aren’t going to be consistent in all the areas of our lives.

The idea of not being consistent is rooted in our pride. There are certain things in life that we feel that we can deal with on our own. The paradox is that we can’t even begin to deal with the things that we attempt to deal with. Most of the time we seek to deal with the hard and messy things on our own, while we give God the good things that we know He is going to want to see done. However, doing that is paramount to spitting in God’s face. We’re saying that God is strong enough to do the good things; but, He isn’t strong enough to deal with the nasty things, that we are the ones that are capable of doing that. It’s quite sad that most of us live in this mindset, and it holds us back from having the kind of lives that God wants us to have, it also holds us back from having the kind of relationship with God that we were created to have.

So, living well… It’s a consistent sort of thing. We’ve got to be willing to give up the good and we’ve got to be willing to give up the bad. God is made stronger in our weakness. It’s a paradox. It’s something I don’t truly understand. But, it’s something that I’m working on and it’s something that God wants us to have in all of our lives. We can’t be inconsistent. It just doesn’t work. 

September 3, 2012
How To Live Well: Do More

The title of this post is a little different from some of the other posts that I’ve ever written. For one, it somewhat implies that there are going to be other posts that center around the idea of living well. That would be a very true and factual statement. I’m going to be writing a series on this idea of living well, however, I’m not going to give you my ideas of living well, I’m going to give you the ideas that God has given to me and that are based on biblical truths. Everything that I share won’t be explicitly about God, but my hope and prayer is that you can see God’s hand in the things that I’m writing.

For many people, especially college students, one of the pitfalls that we face is letting the Bible become just another text book. We say that we just need to spend 20 minutes reading it, or we just need to read a chapter, or we just need to read 20 verses. I hate to be the one that breaks the news to all of you, but, that is no way to read the Bible or have a better understanding of who God is.

I would submit to you that in order to have a better understanding of who God is and to want to spend time reading your Bible, we need to spend more time doing more. I don’t mean just doing more Bible reading, or listening to podcasts, or hanging out with other Christians… I mean spend more time serving people.

In Ecclesiastes we read, “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12)

What does this verse mean? Well. Solomon is saying that we must spend time doing work. I would take this another step and say that Solomon is telling us that we must spend time doing God’s work. If you take the time to go look at 3:9, you would see that God has given us business to stay busy with.

My generation has an awful habit of wanting everything to be about us. We want things instantaneously. We want the newest and best phones, computers, cameras, and instruments. We love fast food. We hate when there’s a wait at a restaurant. It’s so inconvenient for us to have to walk places. What does all of this say about us? Well, I would argue that it says we don’t want to be busy. We want to slow down. We want to be able to spend us much time focused on ourselves as humanly possible. People, that is not the way that God would have us live.

If we go to the New Testament we can see that there is a command for us to all do God’s work. The Great Commission appears in all four of the Gospels and also in Acts. Basically we are told that we need to go to the world and make disciples of Christ. That means that we need to be building relationships with people. That’s probably the most basic definition of a disciple. Someone who has a relationship with you and is learning from the life that you’re living. How are we going to build relationships? Well. Serving is the number one best way to go about doing that. I don’t know about you, but for me when someone does something for me, it makes me want to get to know them. It makes me want to spend time with them. It makes me want to know why they are the way that they are. Isn’t that why we have a relationship with Christ?

Christ came down to this world and did something for us that we didn’t deserve. I would say to you that that is the best definition of a servant that you could ever find and that would also give you a glimpse into the heart of who God is. God is a servant.

So, how are we going to live well? Well, the best way to do that is to start by doing more.  To start by serving more. It’s not about knowing more, it’s about doing more.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:5-11

August 23, 2012
This Is Love

So often I’ve tried to attempt to understand what love is. There are so many different ways that we could attempt to explain love, especially when we try and use the Bible as the lens that we choose to look through. Most people would choose to use 1st Corinthians 13 as the standard for what love is, but today my mindset was changed on this. Especially in relation to how God shows his love to us. Yes, 1st Corinthians does a good job of giving a list of descriptors of God’s love, but it isn’t an example. There is no story attached to it. So, what’s a good example? Well. At this point, I’m going to guess that you would like me to say that God choosing to send His son to die on the cross, take on the wrath that we as people deserve, and then defeating the power of the grave, and allowing us to have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with our creator is a good story for me to use. If that’s you, you would be absolutely correct. The story of Jesus and the cross is a beautiful example of what love is. But, I want us to take a look at another story… A story that we might not be as familiar with.

I want to give you a little history lesson on the nation of Israel. There was a time where they did not fallow after God with a passion. In fact, they ended up being put through many wars, captivities, and just hard times because they chose to worship other Gods, instead of just loving Jehovah with all of their being. One of these particular times happened between 600 and 550 BC. The people of Israel where captive in Babylon. This was not a good time for Israel. It was not what they wanted, but it is what they got. So, in this time, God said some very powerful things through His prophet Ezekiel and these words are part of the picture of love that I want us to focus in on.

But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live” - Ezekiel 18:21-23

Do you see the picture of love that I see in those words? It’s amazing to me that the creator of the universe is saying that if someone turns away from their sins and walks in righteousness they will not be judged. That’s the picture of the Gospel. That is the picture of Hope. That is the picture of Love.

Some people have a very hard time grasping this. It’s so far removed from our version of love,  the one that the world tries to sell us on a daily basis. You see, we tend to think that love is based upon a feeling. But, that’s simply not the case. Love is based upon a choice. God chose to love us. He chose to not judge us based upon our sins. He chose to send His son. That’s what love is, and that is the picture of love.

Love says that even though you don’t deserve what I’m about to give you, I’m going to give it to you anyways.

How are awesome is that? I happen to think that it’s pretty stinking awesome, glorious, beautiful, and just about any other positive adjective that you could think to add to that list. Our God chose to love us. He made a conscious choice that He really didn’t have to make. Even from the beginning, right after we sinned and fell away from Him for the very first time, He chose to make a promise to us that He would make a way for us.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crushyour head, and you will strike his heel.” - Genesis 3:15

That’s a promise to us that He made from the very beginning, and that is a promise that He kept. Jesus Christ was the completion of that promise. Jesus was the choice of God. God didn’t have to send His son to save us… But, He did. Does that move you? Does that make you want to worship? I hope that it does.

So, what do we do with this revelation of God’s love? Well, for one, we need to be sharing God’s love with the people that we come into contact with. There is no reason for us to keep the light of God hidden. We have a responsibility to make the choice to show other people God’s love. Secondly, We need to make the choice to show love to people. It’s hard to choose to want to be nice, to go out of our way, to do things that cost us; but, that’s what God did for us, and His love for us should move us to love other people in the same way.

I hope that this encourages you and challenges you to walk more closely with God and to love the people around you.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” - 1st John 3:16

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