Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Almost two months ago I began to consider Jacob's wrestling match with God. Jacob understood what it meant to be blessed by God. Even after wrestling all night, he would not let go until he was blessed. Even after his hip was put out of joint, he would not let go until he was blessed. Then he said ,"Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Genesis32:28)
Have I striven with God? Do I wrestle with Him? With His word? Do I fully grasp the depth of His blessing?
Since He's placed these questions upon me, this passage has continued to pop up. The Dodrill's pastor referenced Jacob wrestling with God during his comments at Stephen's funeral. Yesterday I was listening to Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Dallas and he discussed the need to wrestle with Gods word.
So I've printed up a reading chart and I'm going to start wrestling. My hip already hurts.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I've been reading Em's posts, looking forward to the next one. I've seen her pour out some of herself, her sadness, especially for her sister. I know it's been a great tool for her to work through her grief. That's what I miss about writing. I need to force myself to think about my life, to reflect one where I fail and where I succeed. I need to reflect on the only one who matters, God. I need to practice resting in Him.
That's why I'm back: to consider my pursuit of Him.
The family went camping up to Ft Clinch over the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Granted it's not a Norman Rockwell way to share a Thanksgiving meal, but now that we've been camping the past three Thanksgivings, I'd have to say it has become a wonderful tradition. We even had some good cornbread dressing this time around.
But the next night really shined. We were gathered around a hot fire while the cold of night crept in and Emily asked Alex, "What are you thankful for?" For the next few minutes we shared the many blessing of the trip and of the year. Especially with the tragedy of Stephen's death, it was healing to remember and reflect on the many blessings God continuously showers upon us.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I don’t know where I’ve been. Kinda like that time between the season finale and the start of the next season of your favorite tv program, I’ve been in some sort of re-run wilderness.
Had a fantastic lunch with a friend, a good friend, the other day. As my my lunch hour stretched into two, I regretted having to put the conversation on hold. Time and time again the topics echoed soul failures in my own walk over the past few months.
I still desire to seek Him, the one who chose me long before I had a clue.
I still desire to be a disciple. I cannot say I’m exactly excited to give up this life (in a flesh sense, a very comfortable life at that) and follow Him, but, now that I’m thinking about it, I am excited. There’s a freedom in placing your life in the hand of the one in control.
I do not look forward to pain, suffering, or even inconvenience, but He is faithful. Please pray that He will strengthen my faith that I may be obedient to the tasks He has placed before me.
Lord, please help me love you and those you place in my life. Give me strength to serve with integrity.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I was reading a devotion the other day from RZIM titled Easy Living and it forced me to stop and think about who I am.
Am I a Christian? Yes. That one was easy.
Am I a pilgrim? What does this even mean? What is a pilgrim? I think back on my recent humanities class where we discussed the pilgrimages to the huge cathedrals in Europe that the folks would make. Was it a once a year sacrifice? Or did it take longer to save up for that type of journey then?
Am I a disciple? This is where I want to be – a follower of Christ, not just one who believes But what are the characteristics of a disciple? What did the first disciples sacrifice to follow Christ? Their livelihoods, families, friends, social standing, even their lives. [cliché alert] If I was on trial today for being a disciple of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict?
There’s a term that keeps coming up in different things I’m reading: the supremacy of Christ. I am certain He is better than anything else, but do my actions, does my life, reflect the supremacy of Christ?
A life lived exalting Christ would be free of idols; they’d be sacrificed in our worship of Him. Yeah, there are little idols in my life, but they are just tools to worship my true idol, myself. I sing songs every week declaring I will love only Him, serve only Him, worship Him alone, but I fail, often before I even get out the doors of church.
How do I sacrifice my life to live a life the reflects the supremacy of Christ? When I ask this, I know a good chunk of me is really asking, How do I sacrifice without any inconvenience or pain? Or even better, how do I sacrifice without really giving up anything?
I frequently find myself placing grace between me and the alter. Does God really want me to give up spending two hours a night reading about the world’s ills? If I just start giving things up, isn’t that a bit legalistic – that can’t be better than giving up something with which God has blessed me, can it? I can continue to rationalize myself away from sacrifice all day.
But now, miles away, I can see more clearly (though I’m not much stronger) that on the other side of sacrifice are even richer blessings – not health, or wealth, but a closer, deeper relationship with Christ.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Seems like longer that a few days ago, but just Monday Nate suggested we check out John Piper’s message, What is the recession for? (this link will take you to the text, or from there you can select to either listen to or even watch the message – which I highly recommend because the text fails to convey Piper’s passion).
Not only have I ‘borrowed’ his title, but I am going to ‘borrow’ some of his words, too. Piper points out five of God’s purposes behind the recession:
- He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
- He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
- He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
- He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
- He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
The rest of his message goes on to break down these five lessons God has for us. Again, please listen to it, my take on it is weak at best and my hope is to stir some thought about our thoughts on money.
Here’s something to think about. Add up your total expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, etc, etc) and figure what you spend per day. I’m going to use the average American income of $26,000 for my calculations, as well as assume the average American does not save (yours may be more or less). Only making $26,000 still gives the average American $71.25 per day on which to live. Thinking about Piper’s second point above, 50% of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. 80% of the world lives on less than $10 per day.
To further put things in perspective, a single person household making less that $10,400 living in the lower forty-eight, is considered living in poverty. At that amount, one still has $28.49 per day on which to live. In the poorest countries on the world, the poverty line is set at $1.25 a day ($2.50 a day in developing countries).
For a family of six in the lower forty-eight, here in America, the line is set at $28,400 a year or about $12.96 per day per family member and easily in the richest 20% in the world.
All this to say: when was the last time you complained about your financial situation? Being employed in a profession directly related to the number of homes being built, I know I'm guilty, especially as my overtime hours have dwindled to nothing. And not just that, but how much longer am I going to have a job?
And that, sports fans, is exactly what is so incredible about this recession (Piper’s 3rd point listed above), it will help me refocus on Him instead of my wealth, my stuff, my comfort.
To be honest, I’m a bit nervous. The opposite of comfort is pain, and I’m not a big fan of pain. But it’s like the dangerous prayer of asking God to do whatever He needs to do to so that you might draw closer to Him. My list of ‘whatever items’ are giving up cable tv, living in a small home, etc – they’re things I’ve already done. God’s list of ‘whatever items’ tend to be different that ours (what did Jesus ask of the rich young ruler? or John and James? etc).
It is the hope He promised and the truth that He works all things for the good of those who love Him that I can truly pray: God, I don’t know how the economy is going to pan out, but You do. I pray You use this time to turn the people of this nation, and the world, away from our sin and, instead, toward You. Please let Your light shine through Your people. Amen.
The two sources I used for the facts mentioned above are: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I’ve enjoyed project playlist the past month or so. As I reconnect with old friends on facebook, it’s been fun listening to the songs I enjoyed 20+ years ago. But as I listen to some of these songs, they tear at me, at my faith, at a holiness God has called me to pursue.
Several weeks ago a friend on facebook posted a John Piper quote that has stuck with me: “there are almost no movies that don't ask me to be entertained by attitudes, motives, & actions which Jesus died to eradicate.”
I hate that quote, or better, my flesh hates that quote. It forces me to think about the idols I’ve spent years tenderly nourishing. It brings to mind 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
The problem with thinking about idols is that, as a Christian, you’re bound to realize they’re a problem, that they separate you from God, that they’re purpose is to be smashed.
But, I’ve built parts of my life on a foundation of idols, despite the Sunday school song! If I go smashing up these idols, I might mess up this comfortable life. I’m kinda happy here.
Enslaved? Boy, Paul nailed me on that one.
Despite the painful cry of my flesh, I know that with each idol smashed, I’ll find myself closer to Him, Jesus Christ, the only source of true Joy.