Monday, November 24, 2008


"Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil."
Proverbs 3:7

About a month ago I went through one of the most character building, attitude changing, and spirit shaping times of my entire life. I was satisfied in God alone. Alone. Only Him. I was content in who He is rather than in my circumstances.

Here's the story. It was the field day between our campus and our sister campus in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was to be a day full of soccer, ultimate frisbee, softball, and football. I signed up for the ultimate frisbee and football teams and made both of them. Our ultimate frisbee team lost, but I wasn't that upset because I was looking forward to playing some football. This coming game would be the first official football game I played for almost an entire year since last year's season. I went over to the field about twenty minutes before we were to start so that I could warm up and stretch before everybody else was there. I was pumped and totally ready to play some football. To make a long story short: I went in a total of four plays the entire game and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines. Throughout the game my heart went through a tornado of emotions. I was disappointed because I wasn't being able to play. I had given up going to help out at youth group in order to make the last practice because the coach said it was important. I had put out a lot of effort at the practices and had been fully expecting to play. I was angry because I was being treated like some "benchwarmer." I had spent less time on the sideline during my last year of football than I did playing in this game. I was sad because nobody cared that I wasn't playing. It didn't even seem like my teammates noticed that I didn't get to go in. We ended up losing; what hurt was not losing, rather it was not being able to play. A thousand questions were swirling around inside my mind. Why was the coach not putting me in? Doesn't he know how good I am? Don't I deserve to be in there? Aren't I as good, if not better, as (at least) some of the other players? One moment I felt like punching the fence hoping that physical action would relieve my anger. The next I felt like crying. The game was over and there was nothing I could do about my situation.

After the game we took a group picture on the bleachers. I went over to the stands portraying almost no emotion on my face as I went and just chose a spot and sat down. As everyone was settling in, a good friend told me that I had done a good job in the game. I just turned around to face her with a blank look on my face and looked at her for a few seconds then went back to staring ahead into space without saying a word. As I sat there I heard her say something to the effect that I was apparently angry. I didn't know what to think about this whole ordeal. I was filled with anger and grief but I also knew that I shouldn't really be having this bad attitude. My reaction was to simply shut off any kind of display of emotion and try to figure out what was going on inside my head. The drive back to school was about fifteen minutes long and I struggled with everything that I was thinking and feeling after this game.

I began to have a change of heart as I examined all that had happened with this football game. I definitely had a reason to be angry from a worldly perspective. However, I also knew that I shouldn't be angry about this game. I had been able to be on the team; some people didn't even make the team. I was able to play a couple of plays when other people did not get to play at all. My pettiness was beginning to be revealed as I looked deeper into my heart. What was I angry about? Not being able to play a football GAME? Here I was worried, angry, and on the verge of tears over a silly game (in the grand scheme of things). People all over the world are starving and dying and here I sit complaining about not being able to play as much as I wanted to. My selfishness was yet to be revealed in full. I looked out the window of the car and viewed a magnificent sunset. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and red. This fairly ordinary sunset made me remember how utterly enormous God is. Here was a simple act of nature that is but a whisper of the glory and majesty of God and yet is like a mighty shout against my pride.

My entire problem was that I was completely focused on myself and not thinking at all about God or others. I was wallowing in pity and burning with indignation because I hadn't gotten what I wanted. I had put my hopes into this game and was tragically let down. I was then faced with a choice: would I continue to be discontent in my circumstance or would I find contentment solely in who God is and not even worry about my circumstances. I chose to be content in God. This was one of the most difficult choices of my life to make, but it was amazing how I suddenly seemed to feel a cascade of peace and joy roll over me. None of my previous problems mattered anymore because I was able to find total contentment in God. I recognized that this game had hurt me emotionally, but I could also praise God for using the game to draw me into a deeper understanding of His character and my standing before Him. Never before have I felt such a close fellowship with God. For the first time ever in my life I chose to obey God when there was no apparent profit whatsoever in choosing obedience.

This experience has encouraged me through other trials I have faced since then. I am able to look back on this and remember that I can be content in God aside from any circumstance. I know that God is molding me according to his plans for my life. My only prayer is that I humble myself in surrender to His will so that I will be molded through obedience rather than broken in disobedience.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I forget

I have a constant problem with forgetfulness. It seems that I forget important things ALL the time. Some examples: I once lost my wallet, when I was a kid, up at my great-grandma's cabin and one year later when we returned I found it in the couch cushions. Everytime I go on a trip I will forget at least one item I wanted/needed to bring (and I do mean EVERY time). I once forgot my class ring at a burger place near the University of Idaho and fortunately it was found by a kind college student who worked at the burger place and gave it to a friend of mine at U of I to give to me later. In elementary school I lost my soccer ball and several coats because I forgot them on the playground. The summer after my eighth grade year my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. where I bought this cool coin separater, as a souvenier, that looked like the picture of George Washington off the dollar bill. I lost it the first day I had it when we took a ferry across a river and I left it on there. I forgot one of my suit jackets at a friend's house after a night of salsa dancing and still have not gone to get it yet. All this to say that I am very prone to forget.

Sometimes I think that I forget about things around me because I am extremely apt at remembering information (such as for tests or hard factual data) and thus I have less room to fit the memories of things happening in everyday life. This might have a ring of validity to it, but we'll just go ahead and say that I'm a very forgetful young man and leave it at that.

This forgetfulness impacts my life much more than in things like forgetting my phone somewhere; it has deep roots in the emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of my life. I find it difficult to remember the emotions that I have experienced; whether they be such as grief, helplessness, joy, happiness, awe, love, or numerous others. While the feeling of certain emotions in a situation should not be given too high a status in the understanding of one's circumstances, this does not necessarily mean that they serve no purpose at all. For God has indeed made us emotional beings who have feelings that can be very strong at times. If we were perfect and the whole world was without sin, we would be able to completely trust our feelings. However, since we and this world are corrupted with sin, our feelings are also corrupted and we are not able to determine rightly in regard to our feelings and emotions. Though we may not be able to put complete trust in our emotions, it is good to remember the emotions we experience at times in our life. If it be sorrow, let us remember our grief and look to the one who bore all of our sorrows. If it be joy, let us remember that true happiness is found in giving God the glory He deserves. If it be a broken heart, let us remember God's broken heart for His creation that have rejected Him though he would love them wholeheartedly. If it be love, let us remember the ultimate example of love - that of Jesus, the Son of God, dying on the cross for our sins so that we will not have to suffer the penalty for our sins which is eternal separation from God. If only I could better remember my emotions so that I could be a more faithful servant of my King.

There have been times in my life of great and impacting spiritual growth or decline that I find difficult to remember on a daily basis. I must remember those times in my life when I was close to God and also when I lived out of fellowship with Him; the remembrance of both of those parts of my life will help me to better live for God today. Remembering the times where I walked out of fellowship with God is important because if I do not remember how easy it is to fall away from Him, how dirty my sin makes me, and how sin only brought temporary pleasure but left me in guilt and shame, then I will once again fall back into the depths of my sinful desires. Though dwelling on my sin is not healthy, it is good to recognize my sin, it's effects, and how to better avoid it in the future. I can only do this by remembering my past failures and then reading God's Word which will guide me in glorifying God. I have repeatedly forgotten the grossness of sin in my own life and have chased after it time and time again. It seems to be so easy to forget the total wrongness of my sin and focus on that brief satisfaction it provides. It is vital to remember that sin only offers lies and that true satisfaction comes solely from God. Some of the most important things that I forget are the times when I am close to God and the things that God has taught me through prayer and His Word. Sometimes I wonder how I could forget something that God has shown me as quickly as the next day. For I know that God loves me yet I have felt unloved. I know that God is always with me watching over everything I do yet I have thought that He was far away from me. I know that I am no longer a slave to sin yet I have felt in bondage to sin. I know that I am set apart for holiness unto God yet I have not sought purification in Him. I know that my destination is Heaven yet I have focused my efforts on the things of this world rather than on the Heavenly Kingdom. Oh that I may constantly realize the depravity that sin leads to and the complete joy of walking with God.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
-Philippians 4:8 (NASB)

My prayer is that I will be in constant remembrance of God's work in my life. He knows the big picture and my view is so small. I am but a small child who one moment rests safely in his father's arms and the next is in tears because he thinks his father has left him. May I comprehend the deepest depths of His love in order to worship Him as He is meant to be worshiped. The mind of man is swift to forget, but the God Almighty over the whole universe is faithful to remember His promises for He is good.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The cost of discipleship

The speaker this last Friday for Special Emphasis was Rick Johnson. Rick is a missionary who works mostly in Tijuana but also in other places in Central and South America. He was also our speaker in chapel on Wednesday and Thursday. This man is truly a disciple of Jesus Christ! He challenged me in my walk with Christ, encouraged me to strive forward with diligence, and urged me to give everything to the Savior.

On Thursday Rick spoke of the gratefulness we, as Christians, should have for the free gift of salvation given us by God Almighty. He shared with us a passage in the gospel of Matthew about the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. This passage tells us how only one of the ten who were healed came back to Jesus, fell at His feet, and thanked Him. How many of us Christians simply take the blessings that Christ gives us and then merrily go our way without thanking Him? I know I have done this a multitude of times. Why do we not run back to Jesus and thank Him for saving us? I know that I do not do this most of the time because I am exceedingly selfish and usually only think of myself and my own needs. The true disciple of Christ will constantly be on his face in utter worship and thankfulness. Oh that I might completely realize my utter worthlessness without Jesus. It is His work on the cross that has paid the penalty for MY sins. It is His rising from the dead that ensures I will also be raised again from death unto an eternal life with God. I must praise His name and pour out my gratitude without ceasing. It's all about Him!

On Friday Rick spoke about the true cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus means being willing to give up absolutely everything, including one's life, for Him. I have also heard it said: "Salvation costs us nothing, being a disciple costs us everything." There was literally a point in Jesus' ministry where he told the people following Him that if they could only follow Him if they were willing to give up everything in order to follow Him. The Bible records that many left Him at this time. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that I only have to give some of myself to Him, but, in all reality, he wants it all! I have been bought with the blood of Christ and he owns me now. I am a slave of Christ and should not be surprised if I am treated as a slave. I am owned by a gracious and loving Master but I am still a slave. This slavery is not unto hardships that endure for though I will face numerous trials in this life, I have the promise of an eternal reward of everlasting life. The cost of faithfully following after Christ will cost me everything: my comfort, ambitions, dreams, family, and perhaps even my own life. The sacrifice, in and of itself, of these things that I hold dear is not what is good, for not everything I hold dear is intrinsically bad. Rather, it is a supreme focus on Jesus Christ that results in the giving up of everything else.

I have been examining my own heart and the cost of following after Christ has been steadily sinking in. I have always known that the life of a missionary requires a lot of sacrifice in giving up many of the comforts that I, as an American, enjoy and that missionary life is very difficult. I have never grasped the full meaning of this until I started to wonder what it would be like if and when I ended up on the mission field. The cost of giving up everything I now have to go live in another country where I will have little to none of the things I currently possess is extremely high. Or is it? God himself became man and died for my sins. Is there anything less that I could do than giving Him everything? My life is short. Will I lose my life for Him so that I may gain it in the end or will I seek gain in this life rather than for His kingdom? The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Oh, that I may never lose my focus on Him alone. He is my Captain. May I follow Him and give my life, my strength, my all for Him!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running out of gas

This past week on Tuesday I ran out of gas. I simply felt emotionally, spiritually, and physically empty and hollow. It was a very sudden drop for I had spent the previous hours in the Word of God and prayer but about half an hour before dinner on Tuesday I felt like I had nothing left in me. Tuesday night I was reading in Psalm 25 and verses 16-17 described exactly what I was feeling.

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have englarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!

I think what brought this emptiness to my heart was a combination of missing home, family, and friends, completely surrendering all my hopes and desires to Him and then struggling with letting God reshape my life into what He desires it to be. My soul was in bitter anguish and I felt as if there was no escape. All of life's worries and troubles seemed to just pour out on me all at once and I was overwhelmed in this tidal wave. I had been trying so hard to give up my life to Christ so that I could be more like Him and live in such a way as to bring glory to Him. I came to the realization that night that I just could not do it. I can't live the Christian life and I can't even handle life in general. In the depths of my despair I was crying out to God to comfort me and show me that He loved me. I read His Word but it did not touch my heart. I prayed to Him but seemed to receive no answer. Where was God?

The next day was Day of Prayer and Chris Darland spoke in chapel to start off the day. He spoke about the rest that we find in God and how it is different from what we usually see as rest. Jesus told us to take His yoke upon us because He will carry the load and we just need to follow along. He also shared how God is a God of comfort and comforts us in our needs so that we can comfort others. How amazing that we should be talking about this in chapel the day after I was in desperate need of such rest in Him and comfort from His hand. I spent the rest of the morning talking to one of the staff here, praying while walking around the park, reading my Bible, and talking to my Dad for almost an hour. Talking to my Dad really encouraged me because a lot of the verses that he shared with me I had recently read and so they were made that much more real to what was going on in my life. One thing that really stuck out to me about what my dad shared was from a verse in Psalm 30:5b, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." All my sorrows are really only temporary for my true joy is in the LORD and he will not leave me in biting despair. In these times of trouble and inner turmoil God seems to do most of his molding and shaping us into better tools for His use.

I am doing much better now, but it is indeed humbling to realize that I am completely empty without God. I now strive to live in such a way that every moment I am in an attitude recognizing that any good thing in me is not of me but of God's work in me. I am a twisted shell of a man, but in Christ I am a new creation. He has made the old new. Oh that I may humble myself so that God would be seen through me and praised!

For those of you who read this I ask that you will pray for me:
That I will humble myself before my Lord
That I will praise God when I find myself in a pit of life.
That I will rejoice in the LORD always.
That I will come to see life from God's perspective instead of mine.

Casting Crowns sings:

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Monday, September 29, 2008

All my cares

Cares Chorus
I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
and anytime that I don't know what to do
Iwill cast all my cares upon You

All of this last week I was being constantly challenged to cast my cares at the feet of Jesus. There are certain things that I have been constantly thinking about that have almost brought me to the verge of tears while in class. There have been times when my heart felt crushed, shattered, and broken. I felt like I was slowly and mercilessly being pushed to the ground and stepped upon. The worst thing about it was that since I was struggling so inwardly, nobody could tell I was going through this hardship. The only one I could turn to was God.

What was amazing about this last week was that through my inward anguish I came to find peace and joy in trusting God with my troubles. Throughout the week I would be thinking about something that was hurting me and then soon after I would be encouraged in this area by something brought up in a class or chapel. My walk as a Christian has never seemed so applicable to my life. For the first time ever I have experienced true comfort by simply giving up my sufferings to God. I had to come to the point where I told God that I could not handle it anymore and that I was going to let Him take care of it. Simply reminding myself in any situation I found myself in that God has a plan and a purpose in everything that happens brought a true sense of peace to my life. In the midst of the storms of my anguish I found shelter in God, who is my stronghold.

In my Job class especially I have been challenged repeatedly to give praise to God in ALL circumstances; whether they seem to be good or bad. I seem to struggle more with actually examining my walk with Christ regardless of the circumstances I find myself in. I've found it incredibly easy to just assume that when things happen to me that I perceive as being very good God is blessing me because I am following after Him. When life seems good I want to be even more aware of my relationship with God so that I may not walk into temptation or pride.

There is so much more that I might share with you that you may more completely understand my anguish, but I share this so that you may understand how God is comforting me and how you also can find complete security in Him. May God's name be praised: in heart sickness, in happy hearts, in physical pain, in healthy bodies, in troubled souls, in rejoicing souls, in exhaustion, in vigor, and in all things.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who am I?

Who am I to be loved by the God of the universe?
Who am I to be saved from utter desolation?
Who am I to be able to call God "Father"?
Who am I to be declared righteous before God?
Who am I?
I am nothing.
HE is everything.

The more time I study and reflect on the Word of God and call on His name in prayer, the more I understand that I am truly nothing and God is everything. As a sinner I am a cursed man and fully deserve to be snuffed out by God. He is holy, righteous and completely perfect; it would be perfectly just for Him to destroy me. However, He is also loving; He wants to save me from myself.

So who exactly am I? I am one of the Redeemed. I have been brought back into fellowship with God. The price of this was the death of Jesus, who is the Christ, on the cross and His raising from the dead after three days. Through the work of Jesus my old sinful self has been done away with and I have been brought into new life in God. There's nothing I did or can do to ever deserve this relationship I now possess. The Bible clearly shows, through the course of history, that God has always been the initiator in man's salvation. He ALWAYS is the one who saves us. There has never been a man who has first called on God; God is the initiator.

I am a very prideful young man. I am so quick to take pride in my many merits. How foolish am I? God is the one who has blessed me with the very things I take pride in! Instead of giving glory to Him I naturally take honor for myself. May I realize every moment of the day has been given to me for the sole purpose of glorifying God. I believe that pride is the root of all other sins. Pride says that I am more important and I want to do what I want to do. I pray that God will transform me into a humble man so that I can life His name above all else.

I was a sinner dead in my sin and on the path to Hell. I was as a blind man who was falling and reaching out for something to catch my fall. God caught my hand that was outstretched and believing that He could help me up.

Who am I?
I am loved and because of this I love others.
I am saved and because of this I thank God.
I am His adopted child and because of this I cry out to my Father.
I am set apart and because of this I give honor to His name.
I am nothing.
HE is everything.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tick tock goes the clock

Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone-
as though we had never been here.

Psalm 103:15-16 (NLT)

Dan Falls, the Dean of Students, spoke today in chapel from this passage in Psalm 103. He talked about how the time that we have here on earth is incredibly short. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we have plenty of time to do whatever we want/need to do, but in all reality we have no time at all. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ and we know from the Bible that this takes time. When faced with the problem of having almost no time to live and needing time to be like Christ most Christians choose one of two options. They either give up because it is obviously impossible to be like Christ in the short time we have or they strive to do everything necessary to be like Christ even though they know they will fail. There is, however, a third option.

In my last post I talked about what I have been learning from the Bible and how it has been changing me. Remarkbly Dan spoke today about how we can be changed by looking at the image of Christ. There's something remarkable that happens when I hold Christ up and look at who He is and then look at who I am. This is the only way to become more like Christ in the short time we have. It doesn't matter how many good things I do or how many character faults that I correct in myself; I will still never be like Christ until I look at Him for who He is and rely on Him to change me from within.

One thing that really hit me during chapel was that I was living the life of the person trying to live the Christian life because I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I failed all the time and never saw any real growth in my life. I now understand that I was trying on my own power the whole time and had never fully submitted all of myself to God. Building a relationship with Jesus brings me closer to Him, not doing "Christian things" (however good they may be).

Well, the time is now. I possess but a blip of time until I die and this time should be filled with reflecting the glory of God! Nothing else matters. Every day, every hour, every minute, and every second that I have is more time to look at the Son of God and let him transform me into a likeness of Himself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Bible

I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
Psalm 57:10

The Bible is amazing! As I read this book and learn the truth from it's pages I am overwhelmed with wonder. Lately I have sometimes felt like a little child who is eager for a cookie from the cookie jar. Yesterday I was reading Ezra and I thought that I was going to only read for about 4 chapters, but suddenly I found myself nearing the end of chapter 6. Just right now as I was looking back to that passage I laughed at myself because I was eagerly flipping through the pages of my Bible without even realizing so at first. The realization that this Bible is indeed the very Word of GOD is finally sinking into my stubborn brain. I have always known this to be true and even, at times, understood it in some small way, but to live this knowledge and understanding out is remarkably different.

My greatest regret, as of now, is that I did not pay more attention to the Bible when I was younger nor devote myself to reading from it day by day. Tasting of the small part that I am now beginning to unravel from God's Book, I wish that I had not tried living my own life apart from the Bible. I feel terrible loss in that I have not been seeking out the truth from God's Word as I know I should have. What makes my angry at myself is this: that I knew all along the power of the Word, but stubbornly resisted claiming that power which was literally right at my fingertips. My only thought of what has kept me from actively reading from the Bible is that my own sin that I held on to kept me out of good fellowship with God. This smeared my vision of God's pure, clear, and holy Word. Sin only brings death.

In my time here at NTBI I have felt like all my sins are being brought to the surface. I am noticing almost every single thing that I am doing wrong that I used to do almost without any second thoughts about it. It seems to me that when I am examining and berating myself for not sharing the gospel with the checkout lady at Wal-Mart, I am not even thinking about committing any other sin. I know that I sin all the time and it has only been in my time here that I have actually been looking at every action I take and then holding it up against what I know God would have me do. I do not believe that it is the environment here; though it is indeed an excellent environment to learn from the Bible. I believe it is simpler than that. I believe that God has been working in my heart as I have been steadily soaking up the truth from His Word. One of my roommates who is an older student shared how gold that is refined first brings up all the dross to the surface of the melting gold. Right now I am only seeing the dross and all the things that God is purifying out of me. But God is looking at me and saying, "Dave, I know that you've done a lot of bad things and I know that you are finally seeing the great multitude of your sins, but right now I'm seeing that pure gold that is right under the surface of all that dross. I'm seeing you as a man who's been clothed in righteousness and you are completely accepted by Me."

Let's cover my life story in a nutshell.
  • I was dead in my sin with no hope.
  • Jesus died so that I would not have to die.
  • I had faith in this and was bought back by God to be in His family.
  • I have now been 'declared righteous' and one day I will be 'made righteous.'
  • The sin nature is still a part of me, but I no longer have to be a slave to it.
  • When I choose to sin rather than walk with God I can ask forgiveness and my fellowship with God will be right again.
  • The Bible is what gives me the power to defeat sin in my life and live for God.
Now that I am finally craving the Bread of Life, I feel compelled to share what I know of God with others. This is overwhelmingly difficult for me, but I know that it really shouldn't be. I should have an astounding joy for the Gospel and eagerly tell others about it. This is my desire: to realize my total inadequacy in all things and God's complete authority over all things. God has told me to share His story with those who have not heard. I should do it, but why haven't I? Satan wants to keep the Christian from doing three things: reading the Bible so that it is understood, praying in such a way that God is the focus, and sharing the Gospel with the lost. I earnestly believe that I can share the Gospel in confidence, because the Bible tells me I can. I could keep on going on forever about the Bible, but I will choose to limit myself to these words already here. Go read from the Bible and let it amaze you again and again.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Church

Oh how I love the church and the body of believers! I am constantly amazed at the fellowship that I am able to have with complete strangers. Two Sundays ago I attended Cascades Baptist Church here in Jackson, Michigan. I had gone there the first Sunday I was here when my parents were dropping me off at college. That first Sunday I thoroughly enjoyed the singing and the sermon that was opened to us. I was determined to go the next Sunday so I searched for a ride and was able to be there again the next week. One of the songs we sang that morning was "Knowing You" Here are the lyrics to that song:

All I once held dear built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus knowing you
There is no greater thing
You're my all you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart's desire is to know you more
To be found in you, and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of your risen life
And to know you in your suffering
To become like you in your death my Lord
So with You to live
And never die

As I sang this song in church that morning I started crying because these words so perfectly spoke of what I myself have been going through. I have been struggling with leaving behind all the things of this world so that I can see more of Jesus Christ. My flesh has strong desires to many things in this world and most of them are not even, in and of themselves, sinful. However, they should always be second to Christ and sometimes I make them more than Him. I am beginning to understand how Christ totally satisfies my every need and this is rocking my world. Things that I used to do without a second thought I have to question myself to see if I am putting them before God. Now I am still learning how to have a sensitive heart to the will of God and so I do not always think before I act, but I am striving toward that.

Back to church. After the service I went to one of the adult sunday schools where we were talking about the fruit of the spirit. I have to admit that I wasn't totally paying attention, but I was certainly trying to. Most of it was just not sticking to my understanding. After Sunday School an elderly man came up to me, as everybody was milling about and talking, and began to talk to me. He asked me some things about myself and then started to open up some things in his own life to tell me how God had worked in his own life to change him. Even though he was standing somewhat uncomfortablely close to my face, I actually didn't even really mind because I was so amazed at this man sharing his life to me, a total stranger! I was incredibly encouraged after this and didn't want to stop talking to him, but after about ten minutes my ride was leaving so I had to say goodbye.

The Church is indeed a unique organism. Many of us Christians of today disagree in numerous ways and on a multitude of topics. Now while I am in no way putting down the importance of doctrine I am tired of the ceaseless arguments between the different denominations. As the Christian rapper, Flame, says in his song "words like election and predestination can get you stoned and thrown out of a congregation, but they're in the Bible we gotta talk, talk about it... we can still love each other and share our thoughts about it." While I may not agree with certain things like modern day speaking in tongues or miracles I can still love my fellow brother in Christ and speak with him about these things in gentleness. Perhaps if we did this we could all be better witnesses for Christ. Maybe even if we thoroughly studied the Scriptures in an attitude of gentleness and kindness when seeking out answers to these things that are difficult to fully comprehend, we would more accurately see what God is telling us through His holy and infallible Word. Enough of my thoughts about this; God is still God and He is the Sovereign King.

I want to end this post by saying that I love the fellowship of believers and am extremely thankful for the body of Christ. I want to live my life in such a way that knowing Jesus is truly the most important thing. "Knowing YOU... there is NO greater thing!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Settling into life here at NTBI

I want to start this blog off by sharing one of the things I learned here during Orientation (of all things). Dan Falls, the Dean of Students, was explaining some of the rules that NTBI has. Some rules that he covered were no dancing, no movies over PG to be viewed in the dorms, and how the limit of PDA was holding hands (even to dating and engaged couples). Since these were some topics that might cause tension he started to explain the philosophy that NTBI has developed. We, as Christians, have freedom in Christ to do many things. However, some activities that we are totally and completely free to do we should withhold from doing in certain circumstances. We should not be a slave to our freedom in Christ. That just because I have the freedom in Christ to dance (and I believe that dancing can be a way to glorify God), I should not make myself a slave to this freedom by choosing to dance even when others might think less of me (and the faith) for doing so. It does not matter if I have the freedom to do this and if it is completely innocent of wrong. The problem is if I am being an effective witness for Christ. Paul said that he became like every kind of person so that he could share the Gospel with them better (paraphrase). I have really been challenged by this statement about how I act with others. I should not freely express anything that I feel comfortable with when another might have problems with it. This does not mean that it may be right for someone to look down on me for something like dancing (except if I am doing so in a sinful manner), but rather I should not tempt a fellow brother or sister in Christ to do something they consider sin. Anyways, this has greatly influenced how I've been trying to act in every situation I find myself in.

I want to share the verse that I am memorizing for a class.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

I have also been reading a book about the sufficiency that we have in Christ. This verse confirms that the Word of God completely satisfies every need that we have. All the other things of this world that we think we need are all temporary in comparison to the eternal life that began with our salvation and will continue forever in fellowship with God.

On a little more personal level and less theological level I have been greatly enjoying my time here at NTBI. I have been involved in footsol (sp?), volleyball, ultimate frisbee, swimming, sweeping floors, taking out trash, dish crew, doing laundry, making my bed (every day...), reading a lot, working out a little, ping pong, and hanging out with friends. Oh, I also get to clean the stove top every day except Sunday. This is always a very fun job (I'm joking here a little bit, but I do TRY to always have a good and positive attitude) where I clean off the stove by washing it with water/ soapy water and then scrubbing it down really hard; then I get to take the dish that collected all the grease from the day's food and the water I used to wash the top of the stove and dump that down the drain. Woohoo, this happens every day after dinner. I'm getting fairly good at it, so it doesn't take too long. God has been good in providing great friends already and I am very thankful for this. The food is okay... but definitely not like home, which is pretty disappointing to my stomach every single day. However, God is indeed good and is helping me develop patience in these many situations.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The beginning of a new life in Jackson, Michigan

Tomorrow is my first day of classes here at New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI)! I must say that I am EXTREMELY excited about the classes here! I can't wait to learn all that the staff will share with me from God's Word. But we should really go back to how this all started; so here we go!

I was challenged at Teen Leadership Retreat over this past Christmas Break by the speaker, Brad Buser, who shared his life as a missionary. He grew up in southern California and was not raised in a Christian family. He was invited by one of his close surfing buddies (he was actually on his school's surf team which is a HUGE thing in a southern California beach city) to youth group at a local church. The youth pastor there spoke the truth straight to their hearts and even though most of the kids who came didn't really like him they still came because what he talked about really caught their attention. Anyways, long story short: Brad ended up putting his faith in Jesus and was challenged by his youth pastor to pursue missionary work as a lifelong work. Therefore, Brad headed to NTBI, went through the training, (got married) and left for Papua New Guinea where he spent numerous years with a tribe that had NEVER heard of anything from the Bible. He learned the language, lived with the tribe, and eventually translated all of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into the tribe's language. Did I mention that he first had to learn the language and THEN make a written language for their solely oral language so that they could read the Bible?

There was a lot more that he shared with us, but I don't really have the time to share his whole story with you. He really challenged me to be willing to give up EVERYTHING in the work of sharing the gospel. I therefore started to pursue going to NTBI the next fall. Even though the road that brought me here to Jackson, Michigan has not been easy, I have certainly had the clearest view of what God wants me to do. After a month of work at Camp Pinewood as a counselor, my small savings account, and incredibly generous gifts given me by my family and my church I am now able to be here at NTBI.

I want to thank everyone who has helped support me; whether it was finances, discipleship, prayer, MORE prayer, friendship, or just plain ol' love for this sinful guy named David Duron. You cannot possibly know how much your support has meant to me and how it has helped me to be where I am today. I wish that I could name everyone who has supported me in these many ways, but there are way too many for me to remember and I would probably forget numerous people and then hurt your feelings. So I'm just gonna say THANK YOU! again to everyone who has been a part of my life.

Through these past four days that I have been here I have already experienced the love of God in profound ways. But being here is also a brand new phase of my life where I must begin providing for myself. This is, truthfully, really scary for me. I have always been dependant on my parents to provide for me which they have lovingly done for 18 years. My parents also believe that I shouldn't have to get a job in high school because school should be my job and I wasn't yet an adult. Well, now I'm an adult and need to figure out how I'm going to pay for my needs in this "adult" world. Fortunately I am not totally independent yet; my family and church have paid a huge part in helping me with the finances needed to go to NTBI. But I do feel that I need to get a job so that I can pay for college. I've been praying about this and today during a break in orientation I talked to the head of the business office and asked him, real quickly, if I could talk to him later about help in getting a job. About three seconds after I walked out of the auditorium, a guy started to ask if anyone needed a job so I instantly said "YES." He then told me about his job that he was quitting but wanted to find someone else who could take his position since he was leaving. This seemed like a total answer to prayer so I have been talking more to him about this job. Later on I talked to the head of the business office for about 15 minutes about how I should approach getting the finances I need. He helped me quite a bit by giving me pointers on how to make it more likely for me to get a job and even showed me about how much money I would need to make in order to pay for the rest of the semester.

This is what is going on in my life right now and I pray that you will pray for me as I go out seeking for a job. I know that God will provide, but I also know that I might not fully comprehend what that means until I KNOW that I can't provide for myself and He provides for my needs.

God is marvelously big

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done:
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
-Psalm 33:6-15 (NKJV)

Wow! Isn't God huge! He has created this universe which is so incredibly gigantic that the earth is smaller than a dust speck when in relation to all of creation. Tonight I was invited to watch a video of Louie Giglio (sp?) by Josh Beaudin in his apartment with a couple other people. Giglio laid out how immense these certain stars are that have been photographed by the Hubble telescope. He laid it out step by step, getting to larger and larger stars. He ended with a fairly recently discovered star called Canis Majoris that is so big that it could fit 7 quadrillion earths inside of it. To get a sense of how big that really is, one quadrillion seconds ago would be about 37 million years ago. It is simply enormous, and yet there are perhaps even bigger stars out there that we can't even see. The galaxy that some of these stars are from is 37 million light years away and is only one of millions of other galaxies in the universe. Now look at little baby earth. Then realize that you are just one of about 6.5 billion people on earth. Doesn't that make you feel just a bit small?

He then went on to talk about how this amazing God who created this humongously humongous universe formed each and every one of us with intimate care. This ginormous God is completely aware of everything about me and you. He then went on to say that the true miracle is each and every one of us and how we are made. Jesus Christ is literally the one who holds us together. Look up "laminin" in an image search. This is the protein that basically holds our body together. Prepare to be shocked.After we watched this video we talked for about an hour and a half or so. Josh really opened his heart about this thing we, as Christians, all seem to struggle with: evangelism. 2 Timothy 1:7-9 says, "God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed to tell people about our Lord Jesus, and do not be ashamed of me, in prison for the Lord. But suffer with me for the Good News. God, who gives us the strength to do that, saved us and made us his holy people. That was not because of anything we did ourselves but because of God purpose and grace. That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began." Josh talked about how he had been asking God to help him share the gospel with anybody, so he asked God for the bravery to talk to people. Then he thought about how he could get the strength and so he thought that if he truly loved every person then he would be brave enough to share the gospel with them. He then thought about how he could start loving all people. He then thought about how God's Word is the best way to learn about divine love and how to love others how God loves them so he decided that he needed more discipline in his Bible reading. God then led him straight to this verse in 2 Timothy. Now isn't God awesome and totally amazing?!

I know that my words to describe the utter majesty of God will forever fall short of how above everything He is. I believe that God used that time to reshape my view of Him and also how I should interact in the world. No longer can I use the excuse that I am not skilled enough to share the gospel with someone. Wake up! When I assume that God cannot use my possibly bumbling presentation of the gospel I am saying that God is not big and powerful enough to use even me. God doesn't NEED me, but He desperately wants me to share his Good News about His Son dying for the sins of mankind because that is how He has chosen to spread the word of the gospel. He COULD simply send out all his angels to go over every inch of the earth and tell the gospel to every single human being, but he has told us in Matthew 28:19 to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." By me saying this, it first applies to me. I need to take the opportunities that God gives to me to share the gospel with everyone I meet. So now I encourage you to do the same and you now also can NOT use the excuse that you can't share the Gospel effectively. YOU will never save anyone; the Holy Spirit is the one who does that. Realize that God's Word is "sharper than a double-edged sword" as it says in Hebrews and THAT is the truth that will lead to an unbeliever's salvation. God gives us countless opportunities to share the "hope that we have within us" so just wait and He'll give you another one. I pray that God will bless you with this knowledge as He has richly blessed me already in my time here at New Tribes Bible Institute.

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty!"