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!"