11.30.2013

Not the perfect arrow




A song that I remember well from childhood is one by a band that I grew up listening to.  

‘What if I Stumble’ by dcTalk

The older I grew, this song kept holding newer and more real meanings for me, because the more mature I became, the more I realized just how much I stumble as a Christian...and the questions arose.  ‘What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?’ is one of the lines in the song.  And indeed.  What if I stumbled?  What if I fell?  What would that say to the world of who and what Christians are?

These questions may have arisen in your spiritual walk too.  You may have hit a point where you realize just how imperfect you are and how much you are in need of being helped up from the ground.

No, you’re not perfect.  But deep down at the very center of who you are are the years of time spent in the Word, family morals, bedside prayers, and tears of redemption.  You are grounded in what is good and true.  You may not be the perfect arrow, but you are aimed at the perfect target.  

Take heart.  God can use anything and anyone.  You’ve fallen, you’ve sinned, we all have.  But nothing we do can ever change His love for us.  It is a forever love that will always win, will always redeem, will always overcome whatever evil has wedged its way into our lives.

Don’t give up.  The journey isn’t easy.  But take heart.  You are a conquerer through Him whose power is perfected in our weakness.  It's not the fall that defines us, or how we sin, or how often.  It's Who picks us up with loving arms and saves us that shows who we really are.  People may see us stumble, but they really start watching when they see that we can get back up again - with our Father's help.

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‘And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.’
- 2 Corinthians 12:9

11.27.2013

4 Definitions of a True Man




“You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman.”
- John Wayne


What makes a real man?  What characteristics about a guy make him a man and no longer a boy?

This post was written in hopes of encouraging young women to not lower their standards in a world where so few true men exist, and to challenge guys to be the men they’re called to be and that this world is in dire need of.

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I could use many words to describe a man.  A man worthy of respect.  Chivalrous, courageous, fun to be around, wise, loyal, passionate, strong, gentle, kind, visionary, serving, humble, hard-working, defender of truth, bold, prayerful, and faithful.  These are just a few that come to mind.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Proverbs 2:1-10, Proverbs 19:22, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, Proverbs 19:11)

Being a man isn’t just about opening doors and being polite.  That should go without saying.  It’s about putting someone else’s needs above your own.  It’s about doing what’s right even if you won’t get recognition for it.  Some of you may think that being a man is about how he acts or how he handles situations, but really it’s not what they can do that defines them.  It’s about what Jesus did for them. 

1. A boy becomes a man when he lets go of his life and gives it to God.  The strength to be able to put Jesus first above everything isn’t easy because a boy wants to feel in control, but a man knows what humility is and that on his own strength, he won’t accomplish what he could if he let go and let God.  Everyday is a battle to fight for being a man, to put God first, and lay down your dreams.   

2. A boy becomes a man when he is responsible and mature enough to perform a task and to be able to be depended on to do a job - no matter how difficult.  

3. A boy becomes a man when he has direction and goals.  A guy who sits in front of video games all day or goes to college without having any vision for his life or in pursuit of a career is never attractive.  Women need men who are leaders, who are responsible, who have dreams and are willing to go after those dreams.  He must be faithful and responsible in the pursuit of his calling.  

4. A boy becomes a man when he is humble in owning up to his mistakes, knows he’s not perfect and even though he may be well-established, have many mentors, and good visions, he must be willing to be corrected.  Humility is part of accepting God’s will for his life too.  And going after it whole-heartedly.

These are not the typical guys that get noticed right away.  But when they are noticed, they are to be admired and respected.  They are the ones who go to the person looking left out of the party and introduce themselves with a handshake and smile.  They are the ones who you will find at home investing time in their family instead of hanging out with friends every weekend.   You will find them helping in the kitchen, taking out the trash, and doing the dishes without being asked.  They will be the ones having deep discussions about theology, politics, worldview philosophies and books, rather than girls, TV or the latest computer game.  These are the guys who walk on the outside of the sidewalk to protect the lady whom they might be with.  These men do not bend on their convictions, they hold firm to their standards and no matter what others may say or do, they stand for the truth.

Being a man is a process, not a one day event.

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‘Stand true to your calling to be a man.  Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men.’
- Elisabeth Elliot

‘One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man.’
- Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

“There is a difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.” 
- Jack Donovan

“A man must at times be hard as nails: willing to face up to the truth about himself, and about the woman he loves, refusing compromise when compromise is wrong. But he must also be tender. No weapon will breach the armor of a woman's resentment like tenderness.”
- Elisabeth Elliot

11.21.2013

Growing in your singleness | guest post

The culture of Christianity is to marry young and have three kids by your 25th birthday. Well, I’m 24 and single. I have pressures from outside sources (i.e. family, friends, etc.) to get married soon and start producing babies by next Friday. Whether it’s a harmless comment from my grandma saying that she wants grandkids or a friend making a joke about my singleness. Does it affect me? Not at all. The only voice that matters to me about my prospective romantic relationship is the one I receive through my Divine relationship. God’s voice is the only one that matters.

One of my closest friends is the exact opposite as me. He hates when he hears someone close to him take a jab at him for being single. He’s in a rush to get into a relationship, while I’m in a rush to get to Taco Bell. My friend isn’t alone in his thinking. Through serving in youth ministry for years, I’ve seen many young people think more about their future spouse than their forever Savior. This is an epidemic within young Christianity. We want to get married and have kids because, for some of us, that’s the Christian American dream. 

A relationship isn’t completely undesirable to me. I want to get into a relationship. The past few months have been filled with me trying to give up on my ways of dating just about any girl and moving towards only dating girls who I thought was good for me. I’ve been smarter with whom I date, but I still end up with the same result: single. Is this frustrating? Heck yeah. However, I believe there is a purpose within my singleness. Jesus wants to teach me something.

Jesus wants to teach me that true joy is bound up in Him, not her. Sometimes, I think that getting a girlfriend will solve a lot of my problems. This is a lie. My problems are solved with the aid of my God, not my prospective girlfriend. I need to find my worth in my pursuit of the One True God, not in my pursuit of my one true love. When I think I’m alone, I need to remind myself that Jesus said that He is always with me (Matthew 28:20). There is never a moment when I am alone. Jesus is by my side at all times.

As I wait on Jesus to return to redeem this fallen world, I will also wait for Jesus to present me with the girl I will fall in love with. Presenting is the key word here. God presented Eve to Adam (Genesis 2:22). Adam didn’t go search out the other local gardens to find a girl. Instead, God saw his need and presented Eve to him. I will do the same.

I will not go out looking for love. I will not go to my local gardens looking for love. Instead, I will wait for Jesus to present me my own Eve. To be clear, I’m not advocating for guys to be passive in their pursuit of girls. Not at all. When she is presented to me (i.e. either at church, school, or wherever), I will actively pursue her. Until then, I will use my singleness to listen to what Jesus is trying to teach me.
Jesus uses our singleness to prepare us for marriage. In our singleness, we learn who we truly are and it’s a great time to see our faith in God grow. 

Allow Jesus to use your singleness to grow your faith.

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Hi. My name is Jordan Kranda. I’m currently pursing a Masters of Divinity at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, CA. I also have a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Biola University. I serve in the youth ministry at Cypress Church in Cypress, CA. I work at Disneyland as the guy who sells over-priced churros. In my free time, I read, write posts for JordanKranda.com, tweet (@JordanKranda), and joke around. 


11.15.2013

When your heart is too full for words



You know when your heart is too full for words
And what you’re feeling can’t be explained?
Or when your throat feels tight with emotion
But you don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
Sometimes it’s something good
Sometimes it’s bad
But no matter what situation it is
Whether you even know how you’re feeling or not
God hears what is not spoken
And understands what is not explained
He made your heart
He designed your emotions
He knit your self together.
Don’t ever feel that you can’t talk to Him
About anything and everything
And when your heart is too full for words
Just be still
And know that He can hear you, even in the silence.

---

'Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts.'
- Psalm 139:23

11.13.2013

In the reflection



I pulled my camera strap over my head and adjusted my coat collar.  It was a perfect autumn day, cool and crisp.  I had woken up that morning feeling the need to go for a walk.  There was a new book shop in town that had just opened and I had been wanting to stop by and see their selection.  School had kept me busy but today was Saturday and I was free from my college homework for a few hours.  So, armed with my camera, my large purse that people always made fun of, and a heart needing a de-stressful day, I closed the front door behind me and started down the sidewalk.  
I passed a biker or two on my way downtown but for the most part, the sidewalks were vacant.  The trees along the streets were changing their leafy colors and making a beautiful cascade as they fell to the ground.  I stopped once or twice to take a quick snapshot of the red and orange and yellow natural autumn decor.  
As I neared downtown, the sight of the old, rustic brick buildings was lovely.  I stopped short as something flashed next to me.  I retracted two steps and saw, to my left, that I had passed a large front window of an abandoned building and my reflection was what had halted me.  I stared at myself for a minute, then raised my camera to take a picture.  As I peered through it, I gasped and quickly pulled the camera from my face.
‘Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.’  He had a British accent.
I stepped away from him.  ‘Who are you?’
He gave a small grin and said, ‘I saw you were going to take a picture and thought I could,’ he shrugged.  ‘Well, it’s not like I would be adding anything good to it.  I just thought you might want an extra person so you won’t be standing alone.’
I felt my eyebrows frown for a minute, then slowly relax.  ‘Sure,’ I said, offering a small smile.  ‘And you’re forgiven - for scaring me.’ I added.
‘Ah, there’s a difference between scaring and startling.  I prefer to assume that I did the latter.  Which,’ he offered a slight bow.  ‘I do apologize for.’
I bit back a laugh.  Here was a British boy, dressed like a hipster, complete with combat boots, a cardigan and beanie wanting to take a picture with a random girl.  My morning was certainly starting off interesting.
‘You can apologize a couple more times because your voice is kind of amazing.’
Wow.  Way to go.
He laughed.  ‘Why thank you.  Your accent is quite lovely too.’
‘My accent?’ I exclaimed.
He nodded.  ‘Your American accent.’
‘Oh,’ I said.  ‘Right.’  I always thought how funny it was that people hear each other’s accents when they’re from different countries.
‘So where do you want me to stand?’ he asked.
I faced the window and motioned to my left.  ‘Just right here.’
‘Gladly,’ he said, taking a step forward.  I didn’t realize how tall he was until he was standing next to me.  My head came up to about his jawline.
I raised my camera once more and snapped the picture.
‘Thank you,’ I said with a smile.
‘No trouble at all.  Thank you!’
A slight pause.
‘Have a nice day!’ I said with a small wave and started walking again.
‘You too,’ I heard him call behind me.
My mind played over the whole scene as I walked the rest of the way and up the steps into the book shop.  I was greeted with the ring of a bell above the door, the soft glow of candles and the smell of pumpkin spice.  
What a charming, cozy little place! I thought to myself.
A worker welcomed me and upon being asked if I was looking for a particular book, I said the first one that came to my head.  She pointed towards an aisle and I told her not to bother showing me right where it was.  I would be happy browsing until I found it.
I made my way down the row, passing soft and hard covered books.  The smell of them all was delightful and I felt like I was in reader’s heaven.  I found the shelf I was looking for and smiled to see that ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell was there.  I carefully pulled it down and opened to a random page.
‘Wow.  This is strange.’
I looked up from my book only to be met with the face I had seen just several minutes before.
‘Oh!  Hello!’
The British boy held up both of his hands, as if in surrender.  ‘Please do not think I’m following you.  I know this may seem rather creepy, but in all honesty - ’
I interrupted him with a laugh.  ‘No worries!  I’m sure many people are making their way to this new bookstore today.’
‘I’m glad you’re taking this so lightly.  I was actually hoping I would bump into you again, though.  I didn’t properly introduce myself.’  He extended his hand and I shook it.
He shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact.’
I stared at him.  ‘What?’ I whispered.
He released my hand and motioned to the book I still held.  ‘North and South.  That’s a line from it.’
My eyebrows raised quickly.  ‘Oh!  You’ve read this before?’
‘Several times.  I’m a bit of a...what do you Americans call it?  A book nerd?’
‘Then that makes two of us.’
He looked at me for a moment and his brown eyes seemed to see right to my soul.  ‘I must seem like such a random person to you,’ he began.  ‘Asking to be in a picture with you, coming to the same bookstore, and now quoting from a book.’  He chuckled.  ‘I’m sorry.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.’  He gave that small bow again and turned to leave.  
‘What other books would you recommend for me?’ I asked suddenly.
He stopped and looked back at me with a smile.  ‘I can show you a few, if you’d like.’
‘Please,’ I said, following his lead.
The next hour or so seemed to pass in a blur.  We talked about our favorite authors, places we’d like to visit, how school was going for both of us and how autumn was our favorite season.  He told me that he was an exchange student who recently moved to town and today was his first day to explore.  What were the chances that I could spend my leisure Saturday with a British boy?  
‘Do you need to be heading home?’ he asked, as I checked my phone for the time.
I didn’t want to, but I knew I had a stack of homework waiting for me on my desk.  I gave a sad nod.  ‘Yeah, I should get going soon.’
‘Well before you leave, pick out a book that you’d like.’
‘You-you mean, to buy?’
‘No, silly, for me to buy for you!’
‘Are you serious?’
‘Why would I tease about something like this?’  He rolled his eyes.
I smiled.  ‘Gosh, I don’t know which one I want...’
‘How about ‘North And South’?  Or do you own a copy of it already?’
‘I don’t, actually.  I need one.’
‘Then it’s settled.  I’ll purchase it for you.’
I left the book shop with a paper bag containing the Elizabeth Gaskell novel in one hand and a white chocolate mocha in the other.  
‘Thank you so much,’ I smiled at him.
‘No, thank you.  I had a wonderful day.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had such a good one.  And thank you for not thinking I’m a creep.’
I grinned.  ‘Not at all.  Well...goodbye.’  I starting walking towards home, making sure I didn’t look over my shoulder.  Part of me almost wanted to give him my number, but knew that'd be way too forward of me.  He didn’t ask me so, I wouldn’t.
I tossed my purse and camera onto my bed when I got home and fell into my bright red chair to start on homework.  But instead, I sipped my mocha, staring out the window in front of me.  It was starting to rain.  I sighed and turned to my desk, but I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look out the side window next to my bed and gasped.  There he was.  Sitting at his desk.  A chin resting in his hand while he stared out his front window.  The British boy was my neighbor.
A million questions raced through my head but I didn’t have time to do anything before he glanced over and a shocked look came over his face.  Then, we both had the same idea.
I jumped onto my bed and quickly lifted the window open, and he did the same.
‘What are you doing there?’
‘I live here!’
Of course.  He’s an exchange student.  And he just moved to this new house.  Right next door to mine.
I laughed.  ‘This is so crazy.’
‘I agree.  But a good crazy.’
‘That’s the only kind of crazy I like.’
A pause.
‘Want to come over and do homework with me?’ he winked.
‘I thought you’d never ask,’ I smiled.

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I set up a page so it's easier for my readers to access past novellas that I've written.  Just click on 'The Romance Corner' button in the sidebar and it'll take you to the page that they're listed on.

11.11.2013

Peru, aqui voy | an announcement



Some of you may know this already, but to others, this will be big news.

The LORD has opened doors for me to go on my first mission's trip...and it's to one of the countries that I have always wanted to visit: Peru.  

My Dad was born there, my parents visited there back in '93, and I have so much family there who I haven't even met.  I've always wanted to travel, but not just to tour.  I want to travel and spread the Gospel as I go.  Through a series of incredible circumstances, God has given me confirmation that Scripture Union is the ministry I should go with and I have been accepted as part of an incredible team of 11 believers who are going.  

The mission trip will be from July 7th-July 18th, 2014.  While there we will be up in the mountains of Yungay at a home for abandoned boys (ages 5-mid 20's).  We will work almost all day, every day.  The time that we're not working, will be spent with the boys - playing games, ministering through music and stories, etc.  But overall, most of the trip will be spent just showing God's love and ministering to these boys who were abandoned on the harsh streets of Peru.

The cost of the entire trip will be around $2,000.  I am needing to raise half of that by March 15th, and the other half by May 1st.  If you would like more details on how you can help me raise these funds, please email me.  I am asking (instead of gifts for Christmas or my birthday) that you please consider helping sponsor this trip for me.  And if not, please be in prayer for me and the whole team - that we can raise all the funds and that God continues to bless our efforts to put this team together.  

Thank you so much!:)

11.06.2013

It can come in many forms



What is idolatry?

The dictionary defines it as ‘the religious worship of idols’ and ‘excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion’.

As believers, we are called to flee from idols and from worshipping anything/anyone other than God.  

‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’
- Exodus 20:3

‘Little children, guard yourselves from idols.’
- 1 John 5:21

‘Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness.’
- Jonah 2:8

But what defines idol?  What can become an idol to us?  Pastor John MacArthur stated it well:

‘Idolatry does not begin with a sculptor’s hammer.  It begins with the mind.’

Idolatry doesn’t necessarily have to be something physical.  It can be something mental.  It can be a feeling or a want.  It can be the desire to get married.  Or the need for a job.  You could even idolize something as simple and common as work, friends or even family.  The internet and/or TV are things commonly viewed as idols to many people.  If you idolize something to the point of it taking up most of your thought life and investment of your time, you may want to rethink your priorities.

As Christians, there is only One who deserves all of our attention and praise.  Only One who deserves the excessive adoration, reverence and devotion that we so freely give to other things, things of this world, things that are not eternal.  It’s a daily struggle to turn our eyes away from the lusts and prides of life.  But as soldiers in the battle against evil, it is our duty to stay focused on the prize, the goal ahead of us.  Push aside the idols.  Cut them to pieces if you must.  Whatever gets in the way of you and God needs to go.  Even if it takes painful measures.

It all boils down to: What is more important?  The earthly idol you are serving or the eternal Three-in-One Godhead who created this world...and you?

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'Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry.'
- Colossians 3:5
  

11.05.2013

Random things which you may not know about me



  • I am...a forgiven sinner.
  • I am not...perfect.
  • I believe...in the Creator of the universe.
  • I keep...my phone near me all the time.
  • I need...love and music everyday.
  • I want...to be more like Christ.
  • I should...learn a language fluently.
  • I rarely...have music NOT playing.
  • I never...sleep past 9am.
  • I wish I could...give everyone a big hug and tell that that everything is in God’s control.
  • I don’t think...
  • I’m confused about...
  • I love...frozen yogurt, blueberries, big hugs, skinny jeans, boots, sweaters/hoodies, my life.
  • I hate...gossip, jealousy, and when people don’t think they’re beautiful and special and unique.
  • I fear...failure and losing a loved one.
  • I regret...nothing.  Because through every mistake I’ve made, God taught me a lesson.
  • I dance...like a crazy person.
  • I cry...when I’m really happy or really sad.  Or just plain emotional.
  • I hear...my sisters talking in the other room, someone stoking the woodstove fire, a car driving by, my music on shuffle, and the sound my laptop keys make as I type this out.
  • I see...my Macbook screen.