Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Friendship and Brotherhood

Nothing too deep to write about today. But I have just been thinking about how blessed I am to have the friends I have. I don't know where I would be without them. Probably a basket case about so many things. I freak out about everything and get all worried, but I am so glad to have friends who can help me to see the bigger picture in things and trust in God's plan. I don't have to have my whole future planned out today. I just have to take life moment by moment and trust in the Lord's direction of my life. What is supposed to happen will, and if I am seeking Him first above all things then I know He will provide for me things that I need and when I need them. His timing for everything is perfect. I just have to trust in that. It's a lot easier said than done, but I just have to live for Him. What is supposed to happen, will. Thank you to all my friends who continue to help encourage me in this way and show me that the Lord is sovereign over all.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." ---Hebrews 10:23-25

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." ---Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More than Conquerors

I have been reading in Romans for the past week and a half or so and it is absolutely rocking my world. It is so crazy to think that the God of this universe would love me, but He does and that is something to rejoice in always. Just reading Romans 8:31 is enough to give us confidence in all things: “If God is for us, then who can be against us?” WOW! Why do I get so scared and intimidated by so many things in this life when God is on my side and is there for me? But the great thing about this passage in Romans 8 is that it doesn’t end there. Paul just continues to encourage us more and more.

“ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? .... No, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
--Romans 8:35-39

That is one of the most incredible and empowering passages in Scripture. To know that there is absolutely nothing on this earth that can separate me from God’s love. Absolutely nothing! We are now more than conquerors because Christ has defeated death! That is awesome! The power that comes with that is unbelievable. It is one of the most freeing things to know when I wake up every morning, I am now more than a conqueror. There is nothing in this world, nothing that Satan can throw at me, that can separate me from His love. I have the power of God living inside of me, and that makes me more than a conqueror. I no longer need to fear what lies ahead of me because God is for me. No sin or temptation has any hold on me because of the power of God living inside me. Not to say I will never mess up, but I am more than a conqueror through Christ. That sin no longer has any power and it has already been defeated. I just have to continue to trust in the one who holds the power. The Source of all life, Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Break My Heart

I have been blessed. Blessed beyond imagine. I never go a day wondering if I will eat, if I will have clothes to wear, or if I will have a place to lay my head at night. And not only have I been provided all of these things that I need, I have been given far more than that and can live comfortably and have many of my wants. And this is not inherently a bad thing, but truly is a blessing. But I have been convicted this summer in a big way that I have allowed this to consume me. How can I justify having all of this stuff (much of it I do not even use or wear anymore) when there are children halfway around the world that have next to nothing? Scripture tells us “to look after the widows and orphans” (James 1:27). I don’t think that He told us this just so that we can think about it and say, “oh that is terrible, poor child.” I am pretty sure, actually 100% sure, that he said this because he wants us to care for them and look after them. Because of this, Compassion International has been really heavy on my heart. The ministry that they organize is absolutely unbelievable and it really does give everyone the chance to care for children who desperately need the Lord and His love. After spending a summer with David Wangaka, the Compassion representative from Kenya who grew up as a sponsored child, I know that the Lord uses this to impact children for Him. This is not in vain, but God is truly glorified through this. I have been praying more and more that the Lord would break my heart for what breaks His. That He would lay a burden in my life to want to continue to help people all over the world and show the same love that He showed me. Sponsoring Anthony from Nicaragua has already been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I cannot wait to see what God will continue to do in that relationship.

But God showed me today as I sat in church, that His heart does not only break for the children in poverty. It also breaks for the person sitting next to me in class that does not know Him as Savior and Lord. How dare me not show the same kind of love to that person that God has shown me. His heart breaks for all who need Him and I need Him to continue to pray for Him to break my heart for the same thing. There are many people here on this campus at Auburn that need to know Him as Father. His kindness drew me to repentance and His love can draw them to repentance as well. I need to be willing to show that kind of love and kindness. He can do far more abundantly than I can ever think or imagine. It is time I start looking at life and this world from His perspective.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours. On the other side of the world and right here in this community. You desire people to know you as Savior and Lord and I want your desire to be my desire. Break my heart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Sufficient Grace

I have kept God in a small box for a great majority of my life. And it all started with my outlook on sin. I looked at my own sin as something small rather than something that truly separates us from our Father. As I said yesterday, I didn’t drink or smoke or go to any crazy parties so I thought I was good. I didn’t do any of the “really bad sins” as we like to call them. But God has absolutely broken me down from that over the course of this year and even more so this summer. My sin is just as disgusting, filthy, and wretched as anyone else’s. And it nailed the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, to the cross. Just because my sin hasn’t been something that a lot of people see or easily recognize, that does not make me any less guilty before the Lord. And because of this God has continued to convict me for looking at others with judgment and condemnation. Who am I to condemn someone else for their sin? I am just as filthy as the person next to me. But, luckily for me and for the whole world, God’s grace is sufficient. It covers all of our sin. Not just the little sin that we think we have in our own lives, but all of our sins, even the ones that we struggle with every single day. Am I saying that because God’s grace is sufficient for us then it is now ok for us to sin and live in it? Absolutely not!

“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  --Romans 6:1-4

But what I am saying is that before I go and look at someone else and judge them for their sin, I need to take a good long look in the mirror and realize how dirty my sin is in the eyes of God. No sin is worse than another and I have forgotten that for the majority of my life. Does this mean that I just sit back and watch friends continue in sin without speaking up? Again, absolutely not! But now rather than approaching with judgment and condemnation, I want to be able to hold my brothers and sisters in Christ accountable with love and kindness. And not just my brothers and sisters in Christ, but also the rest of the world who need to know Christ as Savior and Lord. No one is ever too far gone for the Lord to save or bring to repentance. If God’s kindness can bring me to repentance (Romans 2:4) then why can I not spread that same love and kindness to another and let God bring them to repentance as well? When I write others off as too far gone, I am making an all-powerful God powerless. God loved me when I was unlovable, and I should be willing to do the same for others. God commands it. There is healing in our Father’s hands, and only He can give us rest and peace and comfort. We just have to come to Him and trust Him. Love and kindness brought me to the Father, and love and kindness will bring the rest of His children to Him.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Identity Inspired by Intimacy

I have decided to start blogging. Something I never thought would really sound appealing to me since I do not usually like to write or type or anything. But I have really felt an urge to start “journaling” and just writing down what God is doing in my life and teaching me. This blog is ultimately just an outlet for me to write down the things I am going through and learning, but if others happen to read and are encouraged by what I write, then that is even better. But if you are reading, know that whatever is said here is not necessarily some divine revelation that God has put before me, but rather it is a compilation of a lot of things I have recently been told by pastors and worship leaders at camp or friends and through personal bible study. I believe to be a good learner of life you have to “steal” ideas and thoughts and apply them to your life and that is one of my goals here.

In my life, I have always been known as a good kid and probably would go as far as saying “the goody-goody” who never really had done anything wrong. I was raised by great parents who brought me up in a very strong Christian home and Christian church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I am truly blessed to have been raised in the environment I was. But I think that I missed the point about what it meant to be a Christ-follower. Often times, particularly growing up in the Bible belt, I saw Christianity as being a list that I followed and if I did those things then I must be alright. I knew that it was by grace I had been saved and not of works but that just was not how I lived my life most of the time. And so what should have been a faith centered around Christ and His glory, many times was centered around myself and my glory. I have heard it explained like this: Husbands have a certain amount of things that they are generally just expected to do as a husband. A list of ways that they are supposed to show their wife they love her. If the marriage is all based off of a list and things that he is “supposed” to do, then very quickly the appeal to do that and the joy in pleasing his wife will disappear.  But when the husband is active in the relationship and has communion with his wife, an intimate relationship develops. And through this, the husband finds himself almost accidentally doing the things that he would have done if he were just doing the list! But the difference now is that the works come from having an intimate relationship with his wife which makes him want to serve and love her. In that same way, I have often done that in my relationship with God. I have made a list of the things that I thought I was supposed to do (or not do) to be a good Christian. Whether it was going to church and saying “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” or not drinking, smoking, and having sex. I believed that if I did those things then I was set. But all I was doing was making God smaller and myself bigger. I said that my sin that I struggled with was not that big of a deal and God really didn’t think I was that bad. I mean I followed the list. I was better than that guy over there. That should get me some bonus points, right? But I was missing a deep, intimate relationship with the Father. I rarely dug into His Word to find life because I thought I was good enough. But what I finally came to realize was, that once I started having daily communion with the Father and actively seeking His Will for my life, I have found myself doing the exact same things that were on the list but it is for a completely different purpose. No longer am I doing this as a way of self-glorification, but it is to glorify the Father and see His Kingdom advanced. As this relationship grows deeper and more intimate, my desire to serve and love Him continues to grow. And so now those things that are on the list happen almost by accident as I look to glorify Him in all that I do. And my sin and struggles seem less and less tempting to me as I draw closer to Him. I can remember that through Christ I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37) and nothing can separate from the love of God (Romans 8:39). So as I begin this new school year, I am going in with the perspective of glorifying Christ and not myself. Because my identity is in Him, and nothing good that I do can be done outside of His power in me.

I know that this was really long winded and probably could have been said in a much more concise way, but this is what is going on in my life today. I no longer want to find my identity found in organizations, people, and certainly not my sin, but I want to find it in Christ. I want to be found in Christ and to make Him known to others. And I want that intimate relationship with the Father. He is the only thing on this earth that can satisfy, and I constantly need to drink more from the fountain of life, Scripture. We all need to get in His Word and we will all find ourselves living with an identity that is inspired by intimacy.