Friday, October 26, 2007

Too Long Between Posts

I don't know where to begin. There are a million things going through, or at least, have gone through my head since the last time I posted. Instead of exhausting one, perhaps I'll hit some briefly.

What are you sowing? "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Gal 6:7 NKJV) I seem to remember story told by different preachers about an interview with a Native American who had been converted to Christianity in his youth. He was now middle-aged and the interviewer asked how the whole Christian walk thing was going. The Indian replied that it was as if two dogs, one Godly, one fleshly, were fighting inside him. The interviewer followed with, Well, which one wins? The one I feed the most, he replied.

So, I'm mentoring this thirteen year old boy, using the KAA program (go to 'Camps', then 'Christian Growth Training'. I'm using the Ambassador lessons. It's good stuff.). Depending on well you know me, I don't mind if you take a few minutes here to gather yourself together after, first falling out of your chair laughing, then sobbing uncontrollably for the boy. He asks some great questions. God calls us to serve others, but I am certain by doing so, we get far more out of the deal than they.

Met Cathron and Dave (Em's sister and her husband) in Franklin, NC the end of last week. They have their share of challenges and corresponding growth, but both have been rocks in my family's lives since before Emily and I were even married. It's great because their boys are several years older than ours so we get a bit of a preview of what's to come, plus we get to learn what works and what doesn't from fellow believers who, while facing challenges or admitting mistakes, desire their faith to be lived out by being 'hands and feet'. That said, Dave has been reading and is really impressed with the book unChristian.

One of the recent topics in the KAA Ambassador material was the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23). First I've got a question to all you out there. The verse has a singular subject and verb ('fruit' and 'is'), then lists nine characteristics of this fruit. I've always heard it taught as nine distinct 'fruits' but that is not what the verse says (granted I only checked three translations, KJV, NKJV, and ESV). So what is it, one or nine? Secondly, we started going through the characteristics and defining them from scripture. Love was easy (well, at least to define, 1 Cor 13, not to live out accordingly). It gets especially hard when you get down to verse 7 with its "bears all things" and "endures all things." Kinda reminds me what Paul is saying back in Gal 6:1 & 2. ". . . restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." and "Bear one another's burdens." I think too often, in an effort to keep my hands clean, I define burdens as spiritual burdens. It's the context of the chapter, and it's easier that way.

God extremely blessed me by allowing me attend, finally, a 2nd Mile Ministry youth night last night. Just a fly on the wall, but how incredible, these kids showing up on their own accord, fighting to be one of the lucky ones who'd be able to catch a ride to church with the 2MM staff. 2MM took a group of kids to KAA this summer (and last) and has organized the mentoring I taking part in. God is working through them to reach the kids in the Brentwood area of Jacksonville (just north, relatively, of downtown).

I'll wrap up with some awesome verses to go to sleep by, Rom 8:37-39: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Frustrating God

How strong are you? When God calls, is anyone capable of saying no? I used to have a pastor who said, "The only person God can't save you from is yourself." In all honesty, that sucks! I'm the only one I need saving from!

I remember having lunch about that same time with a friend who was reading Watchman Nee. According to my friend's paraphrase, Nee states that you cannot change God's plans, but you can frustrate them.

Free will is alright, but it's like a car stuck in the mud. The car has all of the ability to shoot forward a 100 mile per hour (well maybe not our minivan), but unless the conditions under the tires allow, it's not going anywhere. Praise God!

If not for the sovereignty of God, all our prayers, even our very salvation, would be in jeopardy.

So, I've a friend with a problem. Mistakes, uninformed decisions, etc has led to a lousy situation. Now that friend loves God, seeks Him constantly, gives so much energy to serve Him, so why did He let this problem arise? Why did He not move others to pull along side and warn of the situation ahead? Why did He lead us here? What direction should we head now? When? How far? With what resources?

And why has He surrounded me with grace (a sermon here, a book there, here some grace, there some grace, everywhere grace, grace)? Is it just to point me to the gospel? Probably that simple. Love as I have loved, I'm back to John 15 again. I do not love as Jesus does. I cannot, yet He calls me to do so. Grace. Obedience. Beautiful, how beautiful, to see things afresh.

Existential Christianity. (Went to wikipedia just to make sure I wasn't too far off with where I am going and found they've an entry titled Christian existentialism. Then I went to the Jacksonville library site and put a hold on a couple Kierkegaard's books and a Francis Schaeffer item.) Thank God our salvation is not dependent on our obedience. Even better, Grace transforms obedience from something unobtainable to a privilege. To steal from a couple of new friends, GIGATT (God is good, all the time!)

Our life is what happens as we experience it. God has authored it from the beginning to the end. As I was telling Marlon, we cannot surprise God. It is His story. How cool it is to be part of it! So I live each second as it happens, sometimes well, frequently not. Don't get me wrong. There's food in the refrigerator; I recognize consequences, so we plan ahead, some. At the same time, I hope to avoid planning that may blind my vision to Him. It's all to His glory; even Joseph's brothers failed to hamstring or frustrate God!

So I pray for my friend. I pray for direction. I pray I keep my eyes on Him, because I cannot see at all where He will lead through the next few weeks. I pray He picks my feet up on puts them on His path, sometimes I'd rather be comfortable. Why get involved?

All I know in the end is that I am thankful that I cannot frustrate God's plans, and, also, that He can save me from myself!