Fire PitToday, I rushed through my morning, and missed my quiet time. I went to Starbucks to finish reading a book for my Emerging Leaders meeting this afternoon, and guessed that sometime later in the day I would get to it. Then I ran to the meeting, which was really good. Next, I went to my parents’ house to change my oil, and continuing in my haste to grab a Subway sandwich for dinner before running to a rehearsal at the church.

When I got home, I was just feeling wound up and wanted to play my new video game to relax, but decided instead to get my little fire pit out, and have a some quiet time with God under the clear night sky and a fire going. It wasn’t all spent in prayer with God, I texted a few people to firm up some plans for tomorrow, and make some for Sunday after church, but a good bit of it was spent communicating with God.

At some point I was reminded of just how blessed I am! First, I have been offered salvation, paid for by His sacrifice, which should be enough to make us all grateful and praise Him. But, He reminded me of more. My family, my health, my incredible church, and the roles I get to play there, my house, and car, and the people I get to call my friends. As I was praising Him for all of this and so much more, I was reminded of a not so great grateful/praiseful attitude I had earlier in the day when thinking about something I will be doing tomorrow, I would even say I was grumbling a little at the time. As I thought of this God reminded me of a prayer I made when I bought my house, and have repeated since, “Lord, let me use all that You have given me to help others, let me serve them through the blessings you have given me.”

I was looking at part of tomorrow in the wrong light. I was thinking of it as something that would be taking me away from work for an upcoming event I could be working on, or a day of relaxing. What God showed me was that this is one of many opportunities, ones I don’t often enough take, to do what I had asked of Him, to use my blessings to help serve others. This completely changed my outlook and made me excited about something that less than 6 hours before I was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of.

I wish I could say that now that God has let me see things this way I will always remember to look at it the same. However, I know that at some point in the future I will be grumbling about something else, and I just pray the God will help me see His perspective again and again. I pry that this continues until I have truly died to myself and my default is to see it from God’s perspective, an opportunity to serve others.

Please, do me a favor, if you catch me grumbling remind me to seek time with God and ask Him to help me see things from His perspective, and I pray that each day we get better at dying to ourselves and following after God.

Gandalf

First I want to make it clear that my deepest sympathies and prayers go out to all of the families that have been affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. This was a very sad and horrific event that I cannot even comprehend how someone could consider such actions, let alone act on them. While the events that occurred were horrific, and will lead to many discussion on topics of gun-control, mental health care, school security, and other topics I found a strange insight into battling this kind of evil while watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey today. In this version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s story we find Gandalf talking with Galadriel in Rivendell when she asks Gandalf why he brought the hobbit along, and I think Gandalf’s reply can speak to us now.

Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.

We can choose to turn to “great power” such as the government and laws to hold evil in check, but so far that does not seem to be working well. Biblically, we live in a fallen world, a place where evil is real, and should be expected, how we respond to this says a lot about our faith. We can choose to run and hide form evil when it appears, or we can confront it. Gandalf speaks of every day deeds, small acts of kindness and love, and these are the things we need to be living out in our lives. As we draw near to God, and seek Him through prayer and worship, we should be being renewed in our mind, and seeking to prepare for spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” These tragedies that occur are not what I would perceive as God’s judgment on us for a specific action, but a consequence of sin in general. These horrific events are the results of Satan and his minions working against us, and influencing those who they can, our response should not be to flee, but to confront these acts of evil with God’s Truth, and Love. To prayerfully perform those small everyday deeds of kindness and love to those people we interact with, and to find ways to preform selfless acts of love for those affected by these events. 

I am by no means an expert on spiritual warfare, I am a novice at best. However as I learn more and more about God, and the power he grants to his believers in the Holy Spirit, I become more and more convinced of the actual call on our lives to stand strong in Christ and oppose the enemy. If Satan can get us to stand by and do nothing he has achieved his purpose, if he can get us to run from this call because we are afraid he has achieved his purpose, we need to stand on the promises of God, and stand against these acts of evil. I do not necessarily know what this looks like for you, or even for myself, but I know that I am in prayer asking God, how can I serve Him and stand against the evil one, what small acts can I do day by day to stand against evil around me.

Nothing but the blood

November 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

Let me start by saying that I feel we must live our lives so that out citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is more important than our earthy allegiance to a country, political party, sports team, or anything else. With that in mind I want to share with you some lyrics form a hymn that really stood out to me today as I was singing them.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

These lyrics come from the Hymn “Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry. We were singing this hymn at a staff meeting today and those words jumped out at me because I had been reading people’s posts on Facebook and twitter from last nights election results just before hand. No matter who you voted for your hope and peace should not be coming from a political candidate. I have no problem saying that I voted for Mitt Romney, and I was not thrilled at the election results, but I was not thrown into the depths of despair that many people I know seemed to have found themselves in on social media. I remember 4 years ago, I was in Ireland when President Obama won, and I was not so positive. I was upset and frustrated, but on the outside I kept a good facade up because pretty much everyone in Ireland was very happy Obama had won. I came home and was having difficulty finding a teaching Job and was frightened of where the country was going. Then I took a class at North Way with Dr. Jim Platt on the book of Daniel. A resounding theme through Daniel is that regardless of what the situation might look like, remember God is in control. I wish I could say that hearing that everything turned around then and there and I was doing a lot better, but I didn’t. I was still worried and frustrated. But, as I grew closer to God and leaned in more to Him I realized that I needed to trust Him to work through what was happening. I also realize that I needed to stop listening to my political radio programs, because they were not doing anything other than helping me steal my joy on my way to and from work, and Instead I needed to focus on praising God for who He is and what He is doing. While I am not excited about 4 more years with Obama in the White House, I know my God is bigger than the US and its leaders. I think it is essential that we pray for the country no matter who our President is, we also need to be praying for the President, the Congressmen, Governors, Attorney General, and all the elected officials. I also think that instead of worrying about the candidates, we need to worry more about ourselves, and what we are or are not doing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 promises:

14 if my people who are called by my name  humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

We need to be more concerned with humbling ourselves, praying to and seeking God and repenting from our wicked way. If we would each individually do this, God has promised that He will forgive our sins and heal the land. If God decides to heal the land, no political power could stop Him. Instead of seeking our hope and peace in a political party or candidate we should be seeking it in God. If we as a church would be more concerned with turning from our  wicked ways and seeking after God, I cannot help but think that our country would be in a much better and stronger place than it is today. If your hope and peace are reliant on a mortal man, whether a politician, a significant other, or a celebrity you will be disappointed and distressed often. However, if your peace and hope come from the God of the Universe, and the gift of forgiveness given to you by the sacrificial death of his son Jesus Christ you can weather the storms that will come.

So if you are celebrating an election win today, great, but remember that God is in control and not your elected official. If you are in mourning because of an election result, I am sorry, but remember that God is in control and not the elected official. Our hope must not be placed in the President or any other person, but must come from the Lord, or we will find ourself disappointed and depressed when things do not go our way.

 

TechTalkA friend of mine posted a link on twitter today about a Saturday Night Live skit about the iPhone 5, or more specifically the complaints about   the iPhone 5. Now, I know some of you might find this hard to believe, but in general I am not a fan of SNL. I feel that most of their humor is stupid and crude, but every once in a while you find treasure in the trash heap.

What I found interesting about the video was not that they made fun of the tech journalists who have been leading the charge with complaints about the new iPhone, but that they did it in a way that also calls to task a lot of us whose complaints could use the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. Please, watch the skit, it is very funny, but also thought-provoking. While watching the video thought, don’t focus on how they stuck it to those tech reporters. Instead, think about how often your complaints could be viewed in the same light. If you are reading this, I can almost guarantee that you are in the top 25% world-wide. Curious to see where you rate? If so check out The Global Rich List. When I think of how often I think I could do with a little more money I am amazed to see I am the 324,540,230 richest person in the world, or in the top 5.4%

Another thing you can think about while watching this is how much do we individually and as a culture really care about how our goods are made? I can’t throw stones here as I am sitting at my house typing on my MacBook Pro and chatting with a friend on my iPhone. But, if I really cared about the poor labor conditions, instead of signing an online protest, or asking Apple to fight for better conditions for its overseas workers, shouldn’t I be boycotting all the products made in these ways? And for my readers who might not have a lot of technology products, what about the clothing/fashion industry, a quick google search can find a long list of complaints about fashion industry sweatshops found around the globe. If we really see a problem in how a lot of our products and clothing are made, are we willing to spend a little more to buy goods made in better conditions, or would we just rather the cheaper price? I am beginning to do some research into the cost of buying American made products, and while there are some companies that chard an exorbitant premium, I am also finding a number of companies that are just slightly more expensive than what you find in local stores. Ok, now that I have given you some things to think about, check out the SNL skit below.

Run the race

I was talking with a guy from my church last week who has really been seeking after God, and has been having some amazing experiences praying for and with people because of it. While he was talking with me i was very encouraged by the stories he was telling me, and excited for what he will continue to experience. If we are being completely honest, I was also challenged in my own walk with God. Here was a guy who is seeking hard after God, leaning in an sharing his faith often with stingers and asking them if he can pray for and with them. I was challenged because he is living his faith out in a way I have not been, and It got me thinking of what needs to change in my own walk.

As he continued to share what had been going on, he shared something that a few Christians said to him that got me thinking. He told me some people we knew had told him “You need to slow down, this isn’t a race, this is a journey with God.” when he shared this with me, it just didn’t sit right with me. As he shared it I began to think about 1 Corinthians 9 (In all honesty I knew the verse, but I didn’t know where it was till I got home and looked it up). 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says:

 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Looking it up I realized thaw we are, or I ought to say, we should be living as if we are running a race. Often though, we live as if we are walking the race. I remember back in High School having to run the mile for gym class. Somewhere in my sophomore year I realized that I didn’t need to run the mile, I could make it under the required time by just walking at a fast pace. This meant that instead of having to run, and be tired and uncomfortable. I could instead walk, and be more relaxed and not even get sweaty. How often are we like that in out spiritual walk? We should be leaning in and going full out for God, but instead we are walking along at a more leisurely pace, something more comfortable for us.

Let me challenge you with some of Paul’s words form the book of Hebrews

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Too often I can be like the other christians who tele my friend he needed to slow down, who quench the fire of those around us. I am committing to change this, I want to be excited and fired up about everything God is doing around me, and learning to have His eyes and learn to follow His leadings and not always do what is comfortable for me. Please join me in this and cast off those things that might be holding you back, and run, give it your all.