Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do You See What I See?

"But you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him that called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10

I left home and went away to college and loved it. I had the opportunity to start my life all over again and had left behind (or so I'd thought) all of the baggage of my hometown. I believed wholly and fully that I would be able to re-create myself in my new environment. In other words, this geeky nerd from the middle of no-where Michigan finally had the opportunity to become "cool". But of course, that came with a stipulation and there were certain things I would have to sacrifice for my new urge to be accepted.

What does the world see when it looks at you? The question struck me with an immense emphasis on Sunday. Often the world has been separated into two categories, those that know God and those that don't. The one's that truly know God act righteous but sometimes we have this tendency to look down on our nearsighted brethren. Believe it or not, us Christians actually forget that we are sinners saved by grace. But I'm getting onto another topic. In these two worlds, we get comfortable and forget the very concept of being one with Christ. The world looks at us and doesn't even notice us as we're coated in layers of camouflage.

So who should they see? Well 1 Peter clearly tells us that the pagans should see our good deeds and glorify God. In other words, our lives are supposed to reflect the very nature of God. The concept is heavy to say the least but we are his reflection, his chosen people. All of this means that people should be able to put their hope and trust in the God in us because our hearts should be his heart. We are ambassadors for Christ. We trust against all trust and hope against all odds. We cannot afford to be shaken by what we see because we trust in a God that is so far preparared, is so ahead of his time that our eyes aren't even equipped to see what he's already finished making. Our minds can't even comprehend the exceeding grace he has already poured out in our lives.

But can the world see this? Honestly, there are so many times in my own personal life that the answer has been a resounding no. I have invloved myself in situations which contradict my faith. But I guess that's why the apostle Paul died daily and calls us to do the same. We have to give our every fear, concern and question over to the comforter because if God's chosen people don't represent him... who will? Who will show the world redemption if the redeemed are too surrounded in darkness to do so? Light in the darkness implies that we shine or rather, that we allow Christ to shine through our lives and crucify our own selfish desires daily. This day, choose to show the world who God really is and how much he has in store for those who trust him.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Light in the Darkness

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matt. 4:14-16

What do people see when they look at you? When trials come even the strongest Christian begins to show signs of growing weary and oftentimes it is far too easy to doubt the word God has placed in you. Perhaps situations look impossible or you've been far too weighed down by worry but whatever the case may be we slowly began to blend in with a hopeless world as the gift of life appears to become difficult.

God’s word calls us to be the light for the world. Interestingly enough, Jesus is often referred to as the light of the word but Jesus directly tells his followers that they will be picking up the mantel while he goes to prepare a place. He shifts the responsibility and gives us the ability to accurately portray an everlasting hope to the world. Although our lives at time may appear to be hopeless, we must stay “salty” in order to adequately shine and bring lost souls to Christ

So who does the world see when they look at us? Do they see people who are unable to walk out on faith and trust God with every detail of our lives (not an easy process)? Do they see a people who are willing to sacrifice everything to please their father? As children of the light it is imperative that we show those who are wounded and hurting that there still is a hope and a savior. We are ambassadors of Christ and God chose to give us the responsibility of bringing men to him so that he might heal them. God gave us the ability to act as direct representatives of his mercy and peace, his kindness and love. But the question still remains; can people see that in your life? Are you willing to cast aside your own concerns and fears so that you may assist your starving brothers and sisters?

Life can appear to be difficult at times (I use the word appear very purposefully). But as Christians we know that all life comes from the Father and that everything that the Father gives to us is good. Anything that appears to be in contrast to that point is a flat out lie. This means that we must show the world that we believe the truth, a truth that came in flesh form directly to earth, and know that all things work together for the good of them that love God and have been called according to His purpose. So what does all this mean? Basically it means to let God handle the problem that you struggle with, cast every concern of your heart directly on his lap and show the world that we believe what we say we believe. Let us show the world that we have been redeemed from fear and doubt and firmly stand on the truth that God provides for us. Let us show that we believe the word of God above all costs so that the hope that has drenched our hearts, a hope that never disappoints, might sooth their weary souls. Cast your cares and be a light to the world.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The True Art of Waiting

"Write down tthe revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Thought it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Hab. 2:2-3

I was at lunch with my students and they annouced that unfortunately, they had run out of food. Only about a third of the students had actually gotten something to eat and the rest of the students were standing in lines, constanlty being told to be silent, while their situation seemed both dire and hopeless. All of us teachers were starving as well and awaiting a break from this logisitical failure. I could look in the students eyes and see a mounting frustration, anger and confusion. Two hours later food arived.

Oftentimes with God we find ourselves in the waiting room. On Sunday I heard a pastor say that we often confuse the waiting room for the emergency room but I see it differently. I think we as Christians get lost in translation. We find ourselves waiting on God and waiting on God when really we are not in position to receive the promise, we are not ready to appreciate it and understand its importance. Its a matter of maturity and we mature in watching the thing that we want stare us back in the face.

But honestly what are we waiting for? And since when do we need something tangible to reaffirm our belief in His goodness? Has he not proven himself faithful time and time again? Will he not continue to do so? In fact all those questions simplify into one greater one: are we mature enough to serve while we fear we our without? As Christians we have been called to do a valuable work, a priceless service. James says that good religion is to take care of widows and orphans, those who are in need and those who are without. So while it appears that we are waiting, we are actually supposed to be walking out on faith. The term waiting implies that there is no work to be done and no action required. Trust is only half of the equation, the real job is to work in the vineyard while all around you storm winds blow. I admit, it's easy and theory and exceptionally difficult in practice. But He who is faithful, our loving Father promised to mount us up on eagles' wings while he renewed our strength. Don't just trust in God, continue to do the work for it is definately plentiful.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Letting Old Things Pass Away

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God..." 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

It's easy to change the outside. We work hard to make ourselves appear to be in perfect shape and eliminate habits that are clearly not in the will of God. Sometimes, we are even bold enough to get rid of the self-supported illusions of what we believe is "right" and truly submit ourselves to the will and word of God. We accept that we're a work in progress and are more than content to hand God those things which appear to be the strongholds in our life. We are more than content to let some things become new.

Personally, I have eliminated many habits and pracitices which are clearly not Christ-like. I have stopped doing things that can be easily identified as a misrepresentation of Christ and have distanced myself from quite a few wrong practices. But yet and still, their were thins I refused to submit. I was content to let parts of me suffer and let my hurts manifest themselves in new ways, but dying daily, becoming new, it just wasn't a practice I was constantly and consistently implimenting.

The Bible says that when we are in Christ the old has passed away and all things are then allowed to be of God. Letting old things pass away requires digging. It requires that we go to the root of our problems and not be content to pluck at the leaves, we have to dig up a foundation and not just tear down the walls of the stronghold. The practical application of that process is examining why we have done and continue to do the things that we do. Yes we do need to stop doing wrong and learn to do right as the prophet Isiah commanded the children of Isreal, but to a certain extent that requires that we ask God to shine a light on why we did the wrong in the first place.

God is a healer; it's in his very nature to heal wounds and scars. In submitting ourselves to God we allow him to carefully and gently dig through our habits (and trust and believe that digging hurts... alot) in order to apply order to our chaotic lives and truly restore our souls. The reason that it is much easier for people to live for a promise, than for God is because living for the promise allows that old nature to be reborn. It allows us to erect another idol that we can see and seek after. God does not want us to constantly look for instant gratification at long term expenses. In fact, his eternal nature allows for constant restoration and satisifaction if we would only set him as our goal and purpose. We must examine ourselves so that his healing power can wash over us and truly make us new.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trusting God with your Lifestyle

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised… But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
Heb. 10:35-36,39

A common misconception with the Christian Walk is that it is as easy as it looks. Often as Christians we look at the lives of people who aren’t living for God and compare their season with our current struggle. And more often than not when we do so, our lives seem to be getting the short end of the stick. We give our lives over to God and live according to his statues only to face trial after trial and suffering after suffering.

First and foremost, the root of comparison is pride. We believe that we are not getting what we deserve and that our hard work is going unrewarded. But what do we deserve? Truly the Bible states that the wages of sin is death but that eternal life is a gift from God. That being said, we don’t deserve any gift from God but death. Yet and still he is gracious enough to grant us life in spite of our constant tendency to value the things of this world over the things of God.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, we are forgetting God’s word. While some of the suffering we go through we put on ourselves (a fact that should never be overlooked), the Bible states that we must know Christ in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). What does that mean? It means that we get closer to God and understand the character and power of God to bring us out of hopeless situations by walking through trials that seem hopeless. Many times in our lives trials are just a means of bringing us closer to God and helps us develop an understanding of who he truly is and what he wants to be to us.

God wants to be the love of your life, your source of happiness, and the reason that you live. He wants to be your first thought in the morning and the reason that you break out in constant song. Most importantly, God wants to be your friend. Many times we blindly let things fill in the places where God belongs and when that happens he is gracious enough to remove them. As he peels the scales off of our eyes, we experience immense amounts of pain as our eyes try to open up to the new brightness of his light. But God does this so that we can truly be fulfilled and experience a newness in him. And know that as you continue along the path of righteousness, God has promised to honor your trust in him.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Resisting the Urge

“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Once I was driving in the ridiculous traffic of the Washington D.C./Baltimore area. In a land I was quite unfamiliar with, in an area outside of my comfort zone, I was searching frantically for signs that might direct me home. Unfortunately, directly in front of my was a semi-truck that I couldn’t see around and to my immediate right was a full-sized van. Needless to say, due to my situation, I couldn’t see the signs as they arose and I passed my exit.

Life, much like the interstate, is full of distractions. Things come from every angle and attempt to grab our attention and slowly but surely guide us outside the will of our father. Relationships, friendships, peer pressure, stress; anything and everything that can play with our desires and fears to push us away from God’s plan for our life will arise and rear their ugly heads. As Christians it is our job to resist and constantly remember that it is God who is our source of purpose and that apart from Him we literally can do nothing.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he pleads with God’s beloved to resist conformation, which is in essence reacting in any situation in an un-Godlike manner. Instead of stooping to the patterns that we have been redeemed from, God desires that our minds and consciousness be elevated so that we can see his plan for our lives and walk therein. A part of dying daily is recognizing that all the distractions that arise are simply lies and that if we believe them (the lies), we are choosing to ignore our greatest desire: to be one with God.

I firmly believe that people do what they want to do most, but who doesn’t want unconditional love, peace in every storm, purpose, and everlasting joy? God’s will for our lives is perfect and is not lacking in anything. In order to realize it in our own personal lives, we must resist the urge to fit in and recognize our place as a peculiar people, a holy nation. Sure the road may be lonely at times, but we live for a higher calling, one that exceeds the present. And in order to find it, we must constantly find out what pleases our Lord.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Let There Be Light!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Gen 1:1-3

At times life can be a struggle. Living a life of faith is often frustrating especially when worry and doubt begin to set in and it appears that the situations and circumstances of life will never change. You hear God’s promises, promises of peace and everlasting joy but currently, the promise feels so theoretical and idealistic. God seems to be millions of miles away and the cry for help seems to be going unheard. But take heart, for God has never left, can never leave and is still there in the storm. You just have to adjust your eyes.

I walked in my room one day this week and, it being around three o’clock in the morning began to stumble in the darkness as I searched for the light. I knew the lamp was there, but until I stopped and allowed my eyes to adjust, I couldn’t see it.

Before the earth was formed it appeared to be a purposeless and empty mass with no shape or design. Genesis uses the words formless, empty and dark to describe it, not exactly a very comforting place. Yet and still, the Spirit of God was still hovering in that “emptiness”. In other words, in the storm, in the darkness God was still there and as soon as He spoke His word, the darkness evaporated and light burst forth.

In our own lives we have the choice of deciding whether or not to see God in the storm. While hurt hurts… a lot… our Lord and savior told us that “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth” (Matt 28:20). In other words, no matter what it looks like Jesus isn’t going anywhere. In our heartache and desolation, he yearns that we use his shoulder as one to cry on and that we trust in the goodness he has in store for us. In all honestly, every trial that we undergo are really just goodness in disguise. So proclaim the light that by faith we know is there. It may be difficult to discern the actual plan, but know that God has a purpose for it. Continue to press on for a voice will surely echo over the thundering clouds of depression and chase the darkness away.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fighting Complacency

“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Tim. 6:12

Many times in the modern world, we find ourselves getting complacent with the way things have always been. With our job, our lifestyles, families, and situations we start to change our expectations to what is deemed “realistic”. After striving to make things change and turn situations into what we know they should be, we essentially give up hope and accept them for how they are. In other words, we forget that our God is a God of transformation and that, basically, the Creator made us to be creators.

As a people formed in the image of our creator, created in his likeness, we have the ability to re-construct this world and those things that the world has deemed weak and unacceptable. It’s not easy to stare depression and heartache in the face and tell it that it is something else when all five of our senses are saying otherwise but we have been given the ability to speak. Habakkuk 2:4 states that “the righteous will live by faith” and James 2:26 says that “faith without works is dead”. As children of God and as the redeemed of the Lord, it is our job to walk in complete faith in God and work the ground accordingly. We fix our expectations on the only constant, God the Father.

Honestly, it is a fight to fix our eyes and expectations on a God who can feel so far away at times. But fighting is an action verb; this means that it requires our action and our perseverance. We constantly speak life into situations that seem to be dead. We put our active faith in God (faith as an action) knowing that when we decide to believe His truth above all else, we are actively choosing to believe in Life over Death, and Life always wins.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Welcome to the Underground!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to the Underground! I created this blog because it's a talent that I've been sitting on for way too long. First and foremost I will preface it by stating that this blog/journal is meant only to give glory and honor to my Lord, Savior, Friend and Redeemer; Jesus Christ. I hope that these little spiritual lessons/advice will strengthen your walk and increase your reliance on God the Father. There is so much freedom to be found in Him, so much more to life then what we feel content to live with. I will be posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday scriptural advice that has helped me in my life and helped me re-realize the gift of everlasting life that has been given to me.

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him." Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.