October, 2011

Oct 11

Living in Wonder

One of the things I continually fight for in life is wonder.

Sometimes it means drinking in the fall leaves and the sun’s rays on the beautiful mountains surrounding my town.

Sometimes it means opening the windows and turning up the music, even in the bitter cold.

Sometimes it means sitting by the front window of a coffee shop, drinking coffee, watching snow, and writing code.

But we also have enemies of wonder. Sometimes it seems it’s in our greatest blessings that we lose our greatest wonder.

I have the opportunity to serve a man of God, someone whom I can call my friend and someone who willingly gives of himself for the good of his team. Yet, the drudgery of today can blind me to the wonder of the opportunity I have.

This weekend I will have the opportunity to impact young, energetic men and women of God. I get to use my talents to teach, encourage, and inspire them. In so many ways, it’s a dream come true, but my own pressure of giving them my best can rob me of wonder.

I have the privilege of spending time with my girlfriend and building a relationship unlike any other I’ve had. Still, the unanswered questions of life and the cares of today can rob me of the joy of this season I’m in.

I keep learning, then forgetting, then remembering it again. Life is a journey.

Enjoy the journey. Take joy in the work of your hands, knowing that the work of today will yield the fruits of tomorrow. Throw yourself wholeheartedly in the arms of Him who cares for you, trusting Him to provide everything you need. Cast aside worry, which does not benefit you, and trust in the One who holds together all things.

If I had to write a proverb, I would say it like this:

For every destination you live for, there’s a journey you miss.

Don’t miss the journey!

Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Deceived in Knowledge

(This is an ongoing series about taking God’s Word for what it says.)

Humility is an important  attitude we must have as we approach Scripture. Unless we are willing to change our lives when we read God’s Word, we will deceive ourselves, believing that we are someone we are not.

In James 1:22 we read:

But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

When I read this passage, it strikes holy fear in my heart. I know that I am well taught in the Scriptures, but am I equally obedient? I know that every time I walk away from truth unchanged, I am entrenching myself in a mindset that is contrary to God’s will.

The question that burns on my heart, first of all, is, “Are we allowing ourselves to be completely honest as we approach Scripture?” The second is, “Are we willing to pay the price of aligning ourselves with Scripture?” If Scripture teaches something that is contrary to the contemporary trend, how will we respond? If Scripture teaches something that is contrary to our habit or tradition, how will we respond?

Right now, there’s a good chance the Holy Spirit is laying some things on your heart and reminding you of some Scriptures that you have disregarded. Are you willing to turn your face back to the mirror of Scripture, gaze into that mirror, and make the changes to align yourself with God’s Word? The cost of changing is high, but the cost of ignoring it is much, much higher.

“Dear Jesus, Give us the eyes to see who You are, give us the ears to hear Your Word, give us the humility to say we are wrong, and give us the courage to live as You are calling us.”

According to the power of Christ working in us, may we do everything we can to walk in full obedience to God.

Soli Deo gloria.

Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Make Disciples

(This is an ongoing challenge to take the teachings of Christ and the Scripture seriously.)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told them to go and make disciples. Many of their lives would be cut short, and their task was far greater than themselves. Jesus knew that they had to make themselves replaceable for the gospel to continue spreading.

It is easy for us in the church to complain about the lack of leaders in our midst. The truth, however, is that we are at fault. We as the church lack the leaders whom we failed to raise up. The same is true for workers of any kind, whether leaders or those involved in other ways. We have failed to make disciples, and we are paying the cost.

Some of us are overwhelmed in ministry, and we pride ourselves and revel in this busyness. However, Jesus taught us to pray that the Father would send workers into the harvest. Have we done that? And have we taken seriously the call of Christ to make disciples, raising up others to help us out? Is busy disobedience really more  spiritual than restful discipleship?

Moses is a great example. Moses was overwhelmed with the task of judging the people, and his father-in-law suggested that he hand off the easy cases so he could focus on greater needs. We feel powerful pushing ourselves past our limits, but we cannot escape our own finite nature. Even Moses.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

What are the things that you are responsible for that you can hand off to others? How can you teach them to disciple before they get overwhelmed? How would God have you pray for workers He wants to send into the harvest?

Soli Deo gloria.

Oct 11

Sola Scriptura: Things Unspoken

In my recent focus on the Word of God, I have been asking myself the question, “What are the parts of the gospel I not talking about?” When I think of deception, I often think about wrong things that are taught. However, deception comes just as easily through the things that are not taught.

This generation is waking up to the power of grace, and we are tempted to disregard holiness. We experience the same tension with living in the love of God and living in the fear of the Lord, or living with power and living with character. One without the other will take us places we don’t want to go. I believe these are healthy tensions every believer will carry.

It is easy to take our cues from the world around us, but may our focus remain fixed on Christ. He alone is our true standard, and in Him is the fullness of the godhead. We do not stay on course by watching the ditches but by watching the One who is the Way. May He have our full attention!

Oct 11

Against All Odds

I’ve taken a haphazard break from blogging, and I’m ready to get back in the rhythm, so here goes! 🙂

I was recently rereading the story of Daniel, and I noticed something about the circumstances surrounding his success. Take a look at three of his circumstances.

Situation 1. To start with, Daniel was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Daniel was taken into a pagan country. This king did not fear God! He took items from the temple in Jerusalem and put them in the temple of his own god. If the odds were against anyone, they seemed to be against Daniel! However, through this strange turn of events, Daniel received a rich education. But more than that, God gave him and his friends a divine knowledge and understanding of the Babylonian culture and literature.

Situation 2. The next time Daniel is mentioned in the narrative, he’s having a conversation with the man who had been assigned to execute him! The king had a dream and wanted to know its meaning, but none of his men could reveal the dream to the king. Daniel requested more time, then begged God to step in. God revealed the king’s dream to him, and as a result, the king promoted him to a high position of authority.

Situation 3. Later we read of Daniel’s regular prayer and devotion to God. Jealous men conspired a plan to get him killed, and Daniel is thrown into the den of lions. God spares his life, and as a result, King Darius sends a command to all people and all nations (“the world”) to fear and reverence God (Daniel 6:24-25).

Look at the great successes in Daniel’s life:

  1. King Nebuchadnezzar provided him with rich education and training, and God adds divine knowledge and understanding to it.
  2. King Nebuchadnezzar promoted him to a high position of authority.
  3. King Darius commanded the world to fear and reverence God.

However, each of these events were preceded by life-threatening events:

  1. Daniel was taken captive by a pagan king.
  2. Daniel was confronted by an executioner ready to kill him.
  3. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions that should have eaten him alive.

You see, it seems God’s blessing did not merely come in spite of these events. God’s blessing came through these events.

My challenges in life look simple compared to Daniel’s, but I face situations that seem threaten my personal success. If you’re following God, you’ve probably had one. And if you’re following God and you’re not in a situation like that, you’re probably about to walk into one.

In the middle of that situation, remember Daniel. More importantly, remember Daniel’s God. The God who worked immense good through Daniel’s situations is still alive. He never changes. Your greatest breakthrough may be hidden behind a life-threatening circumstance only God can deliver you from. No matter your situation, always remember that God works, against all odds, for His glory.

Soli Deo gloria.