Saturday, December 19, 2009


Family is a thing of contradiction. They are those you love the most but can be some of the most aggravating people on the face of the earth. When you live with them you can't wait to leave, but when you've gone away you can't wait to be with them once again. Brothers and sisters who are supposed to be friends turn into friends who so happen to be brothers and sisters. Parents are at one time belittled but then are exalted to a place of high honor in the eyes of their children. To live in a family is an adventure full of peril and the possibility of great reward. An adventure to be pursued indeed.

No family is perfect for EVERY single person that makes it up is imperfect. The home is a unique setting wherein we may learn how to love, respect, and serve others. God has revealed the ideal for such relationships:
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."
-Colossians 3.18-21
Though there are different roles and responsibilities of those who make up the family, ALL are to do what is best for others.

Whoever said that actions speak louder than words had it mostly right. God has told us to SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE. We are not to cower from sharing the truth with others, but this must be done in the right manner and at the right time. What this also means is that our life must demonstrate that what we speak is actually being lived out by us. This requires a multitude of moment-to-moment decisions to say very little or even nothing at all and CHOOSE to put another before one's own self. It is those who are known for their love for others and their humble service who will have a greater impact on the lives they long to be changed for the better. For it surely brings a quick cut to the heart when one sees a loved one making selfish, foolish, and/or hurtful decisions. It is a difficult thing to live in a world full of difficult people, but did not Christ, the Anointed One of God, do such for those who were his enemies. God be praised to the utmost for His work of salvation to reconcile such difficult people to Himself wherein we now enjoy a secure relationship with our Father who we may even call Daddy.

I end this with a lighter heart and renewed resolve to put my family before myself and seek their betterment at all times - though I may be hurt, though change may come slowly, though I may fail. Thank you my Father for sending your Son whose very Life is inside this fragile clay pot of mine and the work of the Spirit whom you sent to empower me as I choose to walk in light of my position and identity in Christ.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009



A six-letter word that contains an immensity of significance and meaning. Prayer at its simplest is communication with God. At its greatest it is connection with God. We are exhorted to pray, but it is more than a religious duty. We read of great prayers in the Scriptures, but find it difficult to understand their source. I have come face-to-face with the bankruptcy seen in my own prayer life, but was helpless in seeing any kind of true change. But then...

I came to the realization that I was trying to pray good prayers. I was striving to put together the words that would look the best in a prayer. Such was my fundamental mistake. In my thinking I had made a disconnect between talking with God and talking with people. I assumed that prayer was somehow different. Yet Christ Himself instructed us in the manner of prayer as praying unto our Father. Abba, daddy! And so I began to talk with God as I would talk with my closest friend or with my own earthly dad. In fact, our talks were so much sweeter than any kind of communication with another human, for I was talking with GOD! I could talk to Him about my greatest fears, my indescribable joys, my seemingly hopeless defeats, my victory that I experienced because of His Son. I could talk with Him about the mundane things of life and about the deep truths that I was learning from His very own Word. These times where I talk with God are the most precious moments of my life. He is my friend, but more than a friend. He is my Savior, my Life, my Father, my Lord, my God, my ALL.

As I type these words I have almost begun to cry, simply thinking about my talks with God. Today was the NTM (New Tribes Mission) Day of Prayer and so I spent some time alone today just talking (out loud) with my God. Sadly enough, I have not given time to God very much at all this semester, always blaming it on my busyness or the fact that I know I am in constant communication with Him at all times. But there is something about our 'talks' that are oh so sweet. I would even compare this to a human relationship. Sure I may talk all the time with my friend, but it our 'talks' that are the most valuable and most treasured parts of our relationship.

If you have not seen my write of the secret of an awesome prayer life, this is because I have not done so. I would almost say that there is actually no secret at all, yet I hesitate in regard to saying such a thing. For if most do not know the way of a matter, then is it not a secret if you yourself know? And so I would whisper to you this secret, trusting that you likewise would pass this whisper along. It is so delicate that it must only be mentioned in a whisper. The secret is thus: the depth of my prayer life is ALWAYS dependent on the depth of my relationship with God. I have seen it proven true in my own life; it was no matter of learning "how to pray" that transformed my prayer life, but it was deepening in my love and understanding of God that flowed naturally into a transformed prayer life.

I end with this. I have yet to find in the Scriptures any "how to do it" manuals on prayer, but I have seen men of God pray for people: that they would grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, that they would grow in grace. We cannot talk with someone whom we do not know, so let us continue to learn more and more and more about our God. For such is our fate for all eternity: to grow in the knowledge of our God who is limitless and infinite. Ready to be joyously surprised by God forever? Let's pray

Friday, October 16, 2009


One thing that I have been heavily challenged with lately is the intentionality of my life. Specifically in the context of relationships: with God through prayer and His Word, with fellow believers, and with the unbelievers all around me. It is the fool who lacks discernment in his choices and simply lets the wind blow him every which way. No deep relationship with another has ever come about through mere chance. It is to the degree of intentionality that there is even the possibility of deepening a relationship.

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." - I Corinthians 16.13

It is time to leave the childish ways of weak integrity, human dependence, and self-focus. The man of God is simply he who has come before his Lord with humility, godly sorrow, and dependence. I recognize such a man as one who walks intimately with God, yet I must declare that I am no such man. So much of the time I deceive myself and others into thinking that I am a great young man who is dedicated to serving and obeying God. For though a young sapling may grow in leaps and bounds (especially in proportion to how big it was before), it is far away from the strength of the mighty oak that has stood for multitudes of seasons.

Christ was one who was intentional about life. His work was to do His Father's will and there was nothing more important to Him than such. EVERYTHING that he said or did flowed out of His purpose. And so we see that we too are called to such a mindset in our work. Our work is the ministry of reconciliation: to see men made right with God. It is a mighty task which requires more than all we have to offer of ourselves. For it is only the very life of Christ within us that is adequate for such a task.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15.5

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



This is a question that so permeates the attitude of much of our culture today and is one to which Christians are not immune. We see it time and time again, yet we rarely think of the implications of such a statement. The person who says, "Who cares?" in a flippant manner reveals their heart for what it is: uncaring. I concede that not every such statement is one that is expressed for the sole purpose of communicating disregard for another, but does it not still show where the heart is at or the bent of thinking that one has bought into? For I would challenge that we, even as Christians, are more influenced by the world system than we would admit. We have adopted, in large part, an attitude of indifference toward others. In this area I have been personally challenged, convicted, cut to the heart (whatever you would like to say), and so I now wish to pass this on.

When I first began to realize such a tendency within myself I did not regard it with much discernment. It was but a small flaw, I thought, and I must focus on other things. Oh the naivety and foolishness of my heart! The Word of God had shed light on my uncaring heart, but it was through experience (and failure!) that my own eyes were opened to the depths of wickedness within me. For what does an uncaring attitude signify but pride, arrogance, conceit? I would dare say that it clearly shows that I am a lover of myself, consumed with myself and all that I make myself out to be. To look on others as simply those who may please me is the height of conceit and to see them as below myself is nothing but total arrogance. And so I am left in wonder at my awful state, shocked almost beyond belief. Yet there is hope!

Now I know that I cannot produce love in my life. For it is a fruit OF THE SPIRIT and hence is NOT OF ME. And so I trust in God to produce Christ's life in me; to reckon that I truly am dead to sin. I now choose to refuse to walk according to the flesh: selfishness and self-focus. "To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself." -Miles Stanford: The Complete Green Letters. And so I continue, not in frustration or disappointment, but with confidence (FAITH!) in God. I should not be surprised that I have such an uncaring attitude toward others, but simply recognize it and look to God for Him to change me and confidently expect to be changed over time.

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -Romans 5.5

Monday, August 24, 2009


When I think of someone who is mature I don't primarily think of some nineteen year old kid who has only been out of high school for one year, has never had a 'real' job, and has been known to fall on the ground laughing at people. Yet this is who I am. Am I mature?

The first 'week' of school has recently been completed and I now take some time to reflect on who I was about one year ago. There has been so much about me that has changed that I would not know where to exactly begin if I had to spell it all out. And so I shall focus on one main area that truly affects every other area and could be called the most important anyways. I can say with total confidence that I have grown more spiritually in this last year than I have in all the years together before. Even now fully comprehending that it was never of my own self-effort that would produce this within me, but it was the power of the very Word of God in my life. Life has been marked with tears, pain, and failure but God has seen fit to use such affliction to draw me into His embrace so that I may understand more in part of His great love.

Last night I had a long talk with a good friend here at Bible school and, among other things, I asked him why he and his wife seemed to invest so much into me. What he said has given me much to ponder and it was this: that they saw in me a desire to grow in my relationship with God and a true faith. I seem to still have trouble in connecting words like "faith" into real life (probably due to my saturation in the world of Christianity since early childhood). I wondered what really made me different than anyone else. Almost contradictorily I seem to both view a select few in a state of Christian perfection and haughtily overlook others as being less worthy than myself. But is not every believer the same in Christ? For Christ did not come to play favorites or to exalt some while diminishing others, but all have been put "in Christ" as He also has been put into them. So there is no reason for shame when regarding the lives of other believers. Does not the Good Book say that there is now "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"?

Along the lines of maturity I wish to share my present situation concerning the topic of wisdom. I have been told that "God does not give us answers, He gives us wisdom." Until most recently I have not been presented with such a situation that I earnestly longed for God to simply give me the answers to my problem but understood that I was only to receive wisdom when I asked of God. In a way it is a frustrating process because it is only natural to want to know the answer immediately when there is a problem. Yet therein lies the problem: it is natural to desire answers but it is evidence of godliness to trust in the wisdom of God.

I write in the understanding that I have yet many more years ahead of me, if in God's will I do not die and Christ continues to tarry, to endure the afflictions that this present life brings and learn to abide in the True Vine, Jesus Christ. This is a day by day process wherein the key lies in trusting God for everything and placing no confidence in anything else.

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." -Hebrews 3.13

Monday, August 17, 2009


They say to dream big dreams and yet I doubt this statement for the most part. Why is it that man has this natural tendency towards wanting to become more than he is? We have splendid thoughts and ideas of grandiose splendor that never materialize but we comfort ourselves with the warm and fuzzy feelings they give us of self-imposed greatness. It is foolish to think of myself as more important than I actually am. Do I seek greatness in order to cover up my own utter lack of such a thing? A beloved teacher of mine has said, "I don't want to do great things for God; I want God to do great things through me." It might appear that this would actually be the same thing for great things are still being done. The weight of such a statement lies in who is actually doing the work of 'great things.' I must ask myself if I am seeking my own gain and puffing myself up or if God Himself is at work in me - doing His great acts. The works themselves are never proof of God at work. It is wisdom in discernment that discovers who is at work.

I usually think of myself as being fairly important and worthy of whatever benefits I receive. This is simply a twisted and corrupt view that warps judgment and feeds pride. I have recently been entrusted with the responsibility of being a Resident Assistant for a dorm of eight guys here at my school. My basic instinct is to silently acknowledge in my heart that this was simply supposed to happen this way because I honestly believe that I deserve to be an RA. As the full weight of responsibility and service that this position requires has begun to sink in I am beginning to understand the depth of my inadequacy. I have little wisdom in how to proceed. How am I supposed to be a great RA that is both a leader and a friend? Ministry seems to have a way of beating up everything that is not of Christ and leaves what little is left of that which has been entrusted to Him.

In all this my own insignificance is beginning to be revealed. I would like to think at many times that I am significant and full of great importance but in all reality I am nothing. My life is simply to be used for the sake of others as I serve in all humility and love towards God and men. I walk in anticipation, waiting for God to do His work through me. Will you walk with me?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." -Colossians 2.1-3

Today we drove across the great state of Nebraska on our way to Jackson, Michigan (and New Tribes Bible Institute). I was listening to one of my favorite Christian authors/speakers; his name is Ravi Zacharias. In one part of his speech he described the contrary nature of the God-man Jesus Christ. For example, He surrounded himself with sinners of the most looked-down upon sorts and yet spoke the strongest words against sin. In Jesus we find the nature of divine personality, and of sorts that it almost seems to be contradictory when lived out in human instrumentality. What I mean by this is that the life of Christ was such that it demonstrated true righteousness, denounced all forms of man's self-made attempts to struggle upwards to God, and developed a greater way wherein life sprang forth from death and Love bound everything together.

The greatest problem of mankind has been in its overwhelming refusal to accept its Savior, its Lord, its Life. Man denies the fact that he even needs a Savior, for such a pronouncement would shine light upon his despicable state as he hides in his own darkness. When he will not name Christ as his Savior there is no point in his ever naming Him as his Lord, for nobody can be master over something that is not their own and has no life. Only when Christ is the actual Life of one who has believed in Him can this tri-nature of Christ be embraced in full and the reality of completeness in Him will be an accepted state of being.

Christ is the mystery. He is the question that must be answered. What will we do with Christ?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Obeyin' the 'Rents

"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."
-Colossians 3.20

I do not know why God has chosen fit to have given me wonderful parents who love Him, love me, and are seeking after His righteousness present in their lives. However, this I must declare: that I am so very thankful for such parents. I will abound in thanksgiving all the more as I learn of the good that God has already given unto me.

Parents are such creatures that may be able to hide faults from most everyone around them, but will never even be able to hide a minor shortcoming from their children. They are known by their children almost as much as their spouse knows them; for the child sees his parents in all their glory and in the depths of failure and defeat. How utterly impossible it is to raise children in righteousness when their authorities themselves fail to live perfectly righteous! This must be an impossibility if not for Christ our Lord.

It is a narrow idea of God that sees Him as such that does not experience pleasure, yet has this not been my view of Him so much of the time? It challenges my thinking to realize that God is indeed pleased when I obey my parents. Does this obedience not serve a dual purpose? For it not only unites both child and parent and espouses order in their lives, but it serves as a unique reminder of the relationship of every believer to his heavenly Father, who is the epitome of all perfection, loves us to the utmost, and would see us grasp all the riches that He has laid before us.

And thus I strive to obey my parents in all peace and humility so that I may bring pleasure to them and to my Father. For obedience is such that it confronts self at every turn and quickens my heart to recognize when I am living in such a way that focuses on me rather than on Christ. It is the ultimate test for a believer that takes advantage of his freedom or of one that gives of himself because of the advantage of his freedom. Which one will you and I be?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Time for some Reckoning

"We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to noting, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin."
-Romans 6.6-7

It is a most arrogant thing to think that I can be victorious over sin by my own power, and yet this is what I do most every day. It is as if I doubt the very Word of God that it is not about me and my own strength to live a life of righteousness unto God, but it is "not I but Christ" and His life in me that allows me to live for Him. I get frustrated with myself when I fail to live up to His standard but this reveals my own ignorance, for I trusted in my own strength instead of leaning on His. Time and time again I beat my head in anger as I struggle to understand why it feels so good to sin and it is so very difficult to resist. Can it be that I have made my enemy more than he is? Has the mist of darkness clouded my vision and puffed up an insignificant enemy into a monstrous foe in my deluded eyes? For God has declared that all who believe are henceforth and forevermore DEAD TO SIN. Christ not only died FOR me on the cross, but I died WITH Him as well. My life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3.3)! Christ's life is in me and sin has no more power over me.

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
-Colossians 1.13-14

Long live the King!

For those who read this and wish to pray for me I humbly request that your prayers be those of Paul's for the Colossians in chapter 1.9-12.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (Colossians 1.2b)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Life of Mercy

"So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
-James 2.12-13

When looking at the life of Christ I find that His was a life full of mercy toward others. He, as God Himself, had the authority to judge all men and will indeed be the ultimate Judge at the end of the age. Yet we find that Jesus lived on this earth in order to save the world, with no compulsion to condemn it (John 3.17). It is interesting to realize that He came in all mercy, pouring out compassion on those who were absolutely undeserving of it. It was not those who were esteemed in the eyes of the world, but those who were looked down upon that flocked to Jesus. This was because sinful man is quick to judge others from a lofty tower of self-righteousness. Christ showed favor and by this He reached down into the depths of souls and awakened in them the desire to love. For all men feel the effects of their own desire to be loved by another; the desire is never fulfilled but is always realized a farce. Stronger even than the desire to be loved is the desire to love another. Does not God Himself show this to be true? God has no need to be loved by man, for He is fully sufficient in His very self. Yet He created man in His own image, that He might love man and give man the ability to love God and his fellow men. In that the Son of Man so changed the lives of those around Him, His children have also been called to do the same.

It seems so much easier to judge others rather than to have mercy on them. Lack of clarity regarding the choice between judgment and mercy may simply be a lack of having plumbed the depths of mercy. Is it not easier to forgive another for something that we ourselves have received forgiveness? Truly we have been forgiven all our faults and yet we live as if others cannot have theirs forgiven. As we have forgiven so also should we forgive others. Do the Scriptures not say such a thing? Too often I have misled myself into condemning others for the sin I see present in them and I am left to wonder why there is no positive response to my reproof. MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT. The validity of such a statement seems skeptical but Christ Himself proved it to be true! We know that man has plenty to condemn him, but only One can save him. It is not our prerogative to highlight the shortcomings in another, but to show unto others that same mercy that we have been shown. This can create a thirst and a hunger in another for that mercy and grace that only comes from God. The life of mercy is not achieved through morality and kindness, but is achieved when such mercy as one's self has received so also gives unto others.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Love, hate, and everything in between

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." -I John 4.18

I love you.
This is what God says to me every moment of every day.

I hate you. I cannot accept your love. I only care about me. I want to do what I want to do. I will gratify my own sinful desires even though I know I will regret it afterward. I'm too busy to talk to you. I'm too bored to spend time reading your book. I deserve to be punished. I'm afraid. I despise you.
This is what I say to God a majority of the time.

I have always thought that the correct approach to dealing with my sin is to confess it as soon as possible and ask for forgiveness so that I will not be punished for my sin against God. The biggest reason I avoid sin is because I am afraid of the consequences. I fear the effect on others and the wrath of God. However much I seek to avoid it, when I am faced with my sin it is a pointed reminder that I am not perfect nor will I ever be sinless in this life. What does it mean to be forgiven your sins if you must continue to ask for forgiveness? I hold that I have been forgiven once and for all and that God loves me - this love is without fear.
I do not have to be afraid, for I am loved by God. Perfect love has nothing whatsoever to do with fear. There is nothing to fear if there is no punishment involved in the relationship between me and God. He will not punish me for anything, for I am his child and he is my Father. On the other hand, he will not relinquish his duty to discipline me when it is necessary for my sake and/or the sake of those around me. Discipline is the correction for the good of the other; punishment is to make one pay the price for a wrong done. It is only by understanding the reality of God's position of love that I may be made complete in that love.

"We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who doe snot love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we ahve from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also." -I John 4.19-21

I am called to love everyone with the same kind of love that God showers upon me. Do I hold up expectations for people that they are unable to fulfill and so condemn them in my mind as failures who do not deserve to be loved the same as those who are apparently walking in obedience? It is easy to point out the faults of one whom I know well and seek to change their behavior, rather than loving them for who they are, failures and all. Will I trust that the power of the Holy Spirit is more able to change people from the inside out than I am able to berate their behavior? Sometimes I think it may be better to say nothing at all, even though someone may have totally just screwed up. Can I not wait until later to talk to them about it in private so they are not condemned before others? Love calls me to come and die: to give up what I want so that I may serve others in order to give them what they need.

Love gives me hope that when I fail I can walk up to my Father, give him a hug, tell him I failed, and ask him what to do now.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Recently I have been thinking about a lot of stuff. I've been getting a little frustrated with believers around me who aren't acting very much like Christ. But then I have to remember that I am really not that much different from them. It is easier to cast judgment on immaturity in another than to recognize the Spirit of God at work within the other and thank God for the life of a brother or sister in Christ. As God takes each of His beloved children by the hand and loves on them no matter how spiritually mature or immature they may be, so I must regard my fellow in Christ. It is not nearly enough to simply care for another, but care must be lived out in every moment. I am beginning to think that if you do not make an effort to put others first in the simple and even mundane things of life, you will never get the permission to speak freely into another's life. I find it difficult to understand my feelings of frustration with a fellow believer and the knowledge that they are capable of so much more and should even be rebuked of selfish behavior unto godliness. My mom once wrote to me that I shouldn't be frustrated when people don't live up to my expectations. Though I may sincerely hope for others' spiritual growth and maturity, I should not be disappointed with their failure. For does not God also use great human failure to draw men closer unto Him and so break them of self-sufficiency in order that they may learn to trust Him more fully? In all this I look at myself and search through my own heart. In those areas I find it apparently difficult to obey God, it is so because I have not chosen to trust that He is fully able to provide for everything I need. I ponder deeper and discover apathy towards others and a heart filled with vain pride, selfishness, and conceit. Truly may abundant thanks be given unto God for working in and through my own failure to accomplish His work. May I never forget my need for Him and His desire for me.

Monday, May 25, 2009


My football coach for my senior year had shirts for our team made that said, "It all starts with attitude." I've been thinking about this whole subject of my attitude towards circumstances or just life in general. Nobody likes someone who has a bad attitude and yet we want people to just handle it when we're in a bad mood. How does this build up the body of Christ? How does this display a life transformed by the power of Christ working in me? I declare that it does not.

To keep this simple I will simply describe all sorts of attitude under the generalized terms of "good" and "bad". When I think of someone who has a "good" attitude I often think of cheerfulness, positivity, joy, etc. People are naturally drawn to someone who is radiating encouragement. It is almost ridiculously funny how a simple change of attitude can mean the difference between a long and tiresome road trip that is filled with bickering and arguing to one that is enjoyable and fun (I write this thinking of the sixteen hour drive to southern California that my family will take down there tomorrow). A genuine "good" attitude is more than skin deep; it flows out of a loving heart that expresses itself by putting others first. Interesting how the Word of God speaks of love: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Loves bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (I Corinthians 13.4-8a).

My past week has been filled with reconnecting with old friends and enjoying the company of missed relatives. I have been thinking about how the words that I say and the things that I do for other people affect them and I have come to the conclusion that people are of immense importance. Can I not give of myself so that others are encouraged and strengthened? It begins with the little things like taking out the trash, writing an encouraging note, or taking the time to stop and really listen to someone.

I must say that I certainly do not condemn one who has a "bad" attitude. I also realize that behind every "bad" attitude there is a reason that needs to be understood in order to truly care for someone who has a "bad" attitude. Having a "bad" attitude can be the result of a multitude of reasons: lack of sleep, headache, sickness, etc. These are all circumstances that weaken one's constitution and can make us more vulnerable to give in to temptation. Nonetheless, when it comes down to it, a "bad" attitude is always selfish and is a result of a focus on self instead of others. Even though circumstances may seemingly justify having a "bad" attitude, it is the love of Christ that compels me to glorify God in ALL circumstances: good and bad.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Understood not in Part but in Whole

Today I began to read Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard by David Augsburger for my class Biblical Principles For Handling Conflict that begins tomorrow. Part of the first chapter talked about how people are usually quick to express the more positive aspects of their thinking, but are reluctant to share the more negative side. Though we fear sharing the negative side, all people have a deep desire for someone to listen to both their positive AND negative parts and understand them. I thought through some of the questions at the end of the chapter and came to conclusions about myself that I had never really formulated into words.

"One of the positive feelings I often have, but I do not reveal to you, is..." that I truly feel loved and accepted when I can tell that someone is excited to see me and wants to spend time with me. Even when I was a child I would eagerly wait in expectation when I knew that someone I held dear was soon to come. Many times I would anxiously wait outside for hours, turning my ear to every sound of a car approaching that might hold those I loved. When I could see them come I would break out into a big grin and wait for them to come and unload so that I could be with them. Because of this I feel loved and accepted when people act in such manner to me.

"One of the negative feelings I often have, but I do not reveal to you, is..." that it hurts me when people don't seem to care that I am even there. My freshman year of high school was a year of lonliness and hiding. My family had moved to Idaho from California during the summer and I hated it from the first I heard the news. I had gone to a private Christian school for all of my life previously and this was my first experience of a public high school. I know that it may seem weak, but I am not ashamed to admit that I was severely frightened to go to such a school. I knew about 5 people in the entire school who were from my church (none of them were in my grade). I had played flag football in junior high and so my parents encouraged me to play at my school in Idaho. They played tackle football (which I had never played before) which was extremely hard on a little freshman twig like me. I made a couple of acquaintances on the team but broke my leg about 2 games into the season. It took only about 3 more weeks for me to totally disassociate myself from everyone on the team. My days were such: I woke up and went to school, ate lunch by myself in the hallway with a book in my hand, finshed up school and went back home. This lasted the entire rest of the year broken up intermittedly by some people who would sometimes talk to me. I believe that that whole experience scarred my heart so deep that I have repressed many of my memories of that year and covered over all of the hurt. It took me the entire next year at a Christian school to actually open up and make real friends. I think that even today I am affected by all that happened for I see myself as not being able to relate very easily with others socially.

It was not until today that I more fully realized this about myself and have actually took the time to think about how all of the experiences of my life have truly shaped me into the person that I am today. Every person is a unique individual who is yet connected to all other unique individuals by the common bonds that all of humanity shares. We grow as we learn to listen to other people to understand what they really mean by their words. Only a good listener has the ability to speak rightly into another person's life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Such a Haughty

I was faced with the realization last night that I am an exceedingly conceited person. For so long I have looked on others as being less than me. Too many times have I judged another believer solely on the basis of outward actions and have dismissed them as one who is not trying to walk with the Lord. I Corinthians 4.5 says, "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." Who am I to judge another believer, especially without even talking to him or her, and condemn them in my heart? How totally arrogant of me to hold others to a standard to which I myself do not hold up. The hypocrite is easily blinded to his own hypocrisy.

Not only have I judged other believers without proper evaluation of the situation, but in doing so I have suffered the consequences of missed fellowship with those believers. He who I regarded as simple-minded has humbled me by showing to me the wisdom of his own appraisal of situations in life. He did not tell me that he was wise in his evaluation, but in his words I could see a changed life that was learning and practically applying truths of the Word to areas of life that I have failed miserably in making much progress. What a treasure and a friend that I have wasted while spending time by myself in my ivory tower. In reality it was a dream tower and I have always been down on the same level with everyone else. I Corinthians 4.5 says, "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" I am one member in the body of Christ: neither greater nor less than any other member. There is no superior but Christ.

God continually reveals to me my own failures and faults and He has been faithful to change my messed up thinking so that I may live by divine wisdom. I had never realized what an extensive thing this whole Christianity deal was. We are truly under an economy of grace that stretches throughout every part of our lives and is applicable to everything. There is no part of my life that God does not desire to be a part of and so He will continually break down my stubborn heart so that He may mold it into a thing of beauty and praise. Praise the LORD all the earth!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Reality of Grace

By Your Side
Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching?
As if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?
-Tenth Avenue North

During the break between my two hours of I Corinthians I went into the weight room (which is right next to my classroom), left the lights off, went into the corner and cried. Dan Falls had been talking about the position of the believer as explained in I Corinthians 1.2-9. He talked about how the grace of God is truly unmerited favor. This was when I began to realize not only my complete unworthiness, but also the love and favor of God. I have tried so hard for so long in my life to produce my own spiritual fruit through my own effort because I thought that such was my duty and by my actions I could please God. Years of my life have been wasted in this endless struggle against sin. I have spent hours wondering if I had never truly been saved because I just could not make myself stop sinning. Through this all I was faced with the understanding of how utterly sinful I am to my inmost depths. I knew that God loved me, but I could not comprehend why He would love me or how He could possibly love such a sinner. I apologized to God time and again, rebuking myself for not measuring up to His standard and promising that I would obey Him the next time. You must know that this was all taking place as I was continuing to choose to act in immorality. I wondered how I could continually fall into sin time and time again. I was burdened with a load that I could not bear; in fact, I was crushed to the ground under the burden and could but wriggle my limbs in helplessness. This was my life striving to earn grace.

I have always underestimated the Word of God to change lives because I had never seen an example of such a thing. Now I see God using Scripture to challenge my thinking and bring me to my knees so that He can change me from within and lift me up into His loving embrace. My eyes are beginning to water now as I think of 'His loving embrace'. I had never understood God's love; now I long for more of His love. It as though I have been given a glass of water to cool my hot and weary body when only a short step away is a wonderful ocean ready for me to take a plunge into and be refreshed.

I have lived in such a way that I acted as if God didn't understand or care that I couldn't live perfectly for Him. Now I am beginning to understand the reality of grace in my life. There is absolutely nothing (that means NOTHING) that I can ever do to separate me from the love of God. He CHOOSES to have favor on me because He wishes to do so of His OWN gracious will. There is nothing in me deserving of favor and that is precisely what glorifies God all the more. If there was anything redeeming about myself, then God's grace would not have to be such a great thing. It is for the very reason that I am hopeless without God and need Him that magnifies His name in that HE alone is the one who can truly change me. Day by day He wishes to be the Savior of my life in my choices, my attitude, and in my relationships with others.

I end this post pleading that you who read this and realize that you are in the same position that I found myself in - that of trying to earn grace through my own effort - will contact me in some kind of way so that at the very least I may pass along the knowledge that I have been given and share how God has worked in my life to come to this realization of grace.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 1.3

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Regard of You

"But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
-James 4:6

A couple days ago I was able to hear from a teacher here (George Walker) at the Missionary Training Center in Missouri share his heart to us and talk to us about different things on the field when he was a missionary in the tribe. He spoke to us concerning topics such as fear, depression, conflict, and some other problems that people go through (focused on his own experiences in the tribe). He simply talked with us at the heart level and was totally honest and real about his life in the tribe. What touched me the most was him telling us the depths of his failure in relationships with other people and the ways in which God used those failures to humble him and grow him to maturity.

In the same way, I have been thinking a lot lately about my own failures in developing relationships with other people. My biggest problem is simply not taking the time to invest in people's lives and only keeping most relationships in fairly shallow water. Sometimes I blame this on the fact that I am too busy with EVERYTHING that I have to do: homework, dorm detail, quiet time, sister, work program, classes, dorm life, more homework, work program leader, youth group, campus life, and whatever else I end up doing throughout the day that needs to be done. Obviously many of these things have importance and need to be taken care of, but I see in my life a growing busyness that is beginning to drown me. I feel as if there is ALWAYS something that I could be doing at any given moment and this feeling has been hindering the amount of time I choose to free up for other people. I fully understand the importance of my studies, but I struggle to place my own interests aside in favor of others. Incessantly my mind is brought back to Philippians 2.4 "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others." My life is not about me, but about loving God and loving others; I must choose wisely in order to be able to give of myself to other people.

If it is not busyness that keeps me from building relationships with others, it is failure in some other area of my life. I sometimes find it difficult to start conversations of depth even with people that I trust and with whom I usually feel fairly comfortable. I find myself subconsciously avoiding people because it is hard for me to talk to them. Other times I honestly just don't want to really get to know a person because I don't see anything in them that they can offer me. These all reveal to me the depth of my insecurity and selfishness.

Though I may seem to be focusing overly on the many failures of my life in building relationships with other people, I may also rejoice in the many good friendships that I have built both here and at home. There are indeed those in whom I have complete confidence, can confide anything, and am growing with despite any revealed ineptitude in either them or me. In light of all this I can confidently say that though all men fail me I may rest peacefully and stand securely in Him whom the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and who now sits at the right hand of God and who became sin for me so that I would not have to pay the penalty for my sin. He truly is the Lover of my soul and in Him I find strength and in Him I regard others as more important than myself.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break

Spring break is finally here! I am down at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Roach, Missouri with a bunch of friends from NTBI Jackson. We left at 10pm on Friday night and drove for ten and a half hours to get here early Saturday morning. It was a long and exhausting drive and I'm simply glad that I didn't have to drive. I've been having an amazing time, have been challenged from talking to people here, and am getting excited to go here after Bible school. On Sunday I went to a church nearby with some people where we heard a tribal leader from Brazil. He spoke Portuguese and so one of the teachers from MTC was there translating for him. It was incredible to hear this man open the Scriptures to us and share his heart with us concerning tribal people around the world. He, along with tribal leaders from six other countries, were to meet the next day in Florida with many different mission organization to discuss how they could all work together in order to reach tribal people with the gospel. Towards the beginning of his time sharing with us he talked about the concept of the chief in his tribe. Our idea of the tribal chief is of one who is in charge of other people, but the real character of their chief was of one who, in a sense, "led by example" and did something first for others to follow them. He equated this with how Jesus is our example in that He has already done what He calls us to do in humbling ourselves and giving up our lives for God. I have been memorizing Philippians 2:1-11 for my Christology class and am daily challenged from simply going through the process of saying it and reading it repeatedly in order to memorize it. Philippians 2:8 says, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Thinking on this passage constantly has been pointing out to me time after time the ultimate example of humility that Jesus has set and I am always thinking of how I can have the same attitude of Christ.

Being here at MTC has been making me think more about the future and is reminding me that I am at Bible school not only to be grounded in the Word, but to prepare for a life of ministry. I think that lately I have had my primary focus on my studies. This is not in any way a bad thing, but through it I have been somewhat neglecting the people around me. Part of my training at Bible school is also to grow with other believers in that we should have a mutual building up of each other toward godly lives in unity. Philippians 2.3-4 has also been on my mind almost incessantly lately: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." I've been trying to think of ways in which I can serve those around me and truly consider others as more important than myself. It's been amazing in that as I have been striving to have such an attitude it is easy to serve others even when it means that I might be doing something that I wouldn't necessarily like to do. I have been called to love the body of Christ in the same way that Christ loves me; I must sacrifice my wants, my desires, and my own self to the body of believers. In this way I love others and so show my love of God by caring for those whom He has deep care.

As I grow in having such an attitude of obedience and humility of Christ I ask that those who read this may solemnly think upon this and please read Philippians 2.1-11 if nothing else. I need the body of believers and the body needs me to sacrifice myself for it. Please pray for me as I learn to lean on God and trust Him to work through me in my daily life in that I would have the attitude of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 says,

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Today in student leader chapel Dan Falls continued the talk that we started last Tuesday on this whole idea of "becoming." This concept is taken from 1 Corinithians 9:19-22
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
These verses signify the required slaughter of my identity. In order to love others I must forsake certain freedoms that I now have. This is what it means to love sacrificially and to put others before self: forsaking who I "am" and becoming the person that people need me to be for them. I am to "become all things to all people." This means that I may have to give up certain things that I may enjoy or do things that I do not enjoy doing. This was a tremendous cut to my heart in regards to the youth group in which I help lead the jr. high guys. It's been difficult for me to totally connect with the guys because I simply do not enjoy most of the things that they enjoy such as: basketball, metal, hockey, piano, skateboarding, etc. There have also been times where the guys are just doing something goofy and I choose to just watch and not be involved because I consider it childish. I am so stuck up on myself, it just sickens me.

I have come to realize that for me to truly show that I love these guys (and anyone else) I must become what they need me to be for them. This might mean doing something that I see as stupid, but that is not even intrinsically bad. I am quick to fall back in the rut of thinking that life is all about me when it's all about Him. He has called me to give of myself to others and take care of those who need me to be Christ for them. He is my identity.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
-Galations 2:20

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christ's Work in Me

Lying in my bed the other night was a fairly normal night as I was thinking about different things and trying to quiet my mind so that I could fall asleep. I honestly do not even remember how I started on this line of thought, but suddenly I more fully realized my purpose of being. I have heard it said before that man's purpose is to glorify God above all else. Truly, this is indeed my purpose, but I have always wondered how that really plays out in my life. I know that God is the one who works in and through me and that anything good in me is not of myself but of Him. He is the producer of any good in my life and I only produce bad. This is a somewhat true statement. For surely (apart from God) I can produce nothing that is good but only evil, but what is totally incredible is the new nature that I am given at the moment of salvation. Now I can produce righteousness in my life, for I now have a divine nature at work within me. It had seemed to me that because God was the only one who could do good through my life, that I seemed to have no purpose because I could not do anything. However, it is, in fact, this state of "not doing" that most glorifies God, for when I surrender myself to His purposes for my life, only then can I glorify God. I have been freed from sin and have become a slave of righteousness.

This whole idea of righteousness is a difficult concept for my mind to wrap around. I believe this is partly due to my own inadequate understanding of the Scriptures but mostly to the mystery of righteousness seeing as it is totally contrary to my old nature. For my old nature is still at work within me and is fighting against my new nature that would pursue righteousness and shun evil. I now understand that for much of my life I have been feeding my old nature (either a little or a lot) because I did not understand this new nature within me and could not grasp what it was to walk in the Spirit. I confess that I still do not completely comprehend these, but that I at least know where I must look to find the answers - the Lord Jesus Christ who is the very Word of God.

I tried to change my sleep pattern recently so that I could get more out of every day. I ended up getting 6 hours of sleep throughout the first 24 hours and 3 1/2 hours in the next 24. I have decided that the problem was not that I was not getting enough out of each day, but that, in all reality, I can never get "enough" out of each day, and that I must make the most of the time that I have available (while getting enough sleep to stay healthy). I have recognized that I need to be devoting as much time as possible to prayer and God's Word. These are the most important and all other things are secondary; they are actually not even secondary, but should be insignificant compared to the priority that prayer and God's Word have over my life.

Two weeks ago I finished one of my electives called "Spiritual Disciplines from a Grace Perspective." This was an incredibly profitable class and I fully appreciated my teacher's (Rex Gutwein) perspective on the area of discipline in the Christian's life. This is definitely an area that is easy to fall into legalistic thinking and so deprive one's self of profitable discipline through self-imposed bondage. The sole grade for this class comes from taking upon a discipline for 5-7 days and keeping a journal about it. I have chosen to wake up early every morning in order to spend time in prayer. I wanted to get the most out of this experiment in discipline and so I resolved to choose a discipline that would build my prayer life and require me to deny myself by purposefully waking up early in the morning. I wish to discipline my thinking in regards to prayer and its utter importance in my walk as a believer. This is something that I believe is easily passed over in my time here at NTBI because we are spending so much time in studying the Bible. It is easy to forget the necessity of prayer in my life, but it is indeed a time with God to praise Him, request of Him, interceed on behalf of others, and even to just talk with Him about anything that I am going through in my life. Also, I have chosen to get up early for this prayer time and this is not an easy feat for me as I am not in any way whatsoever a morning person. This is something in which I will also be training my physical body and it's desire for more sleep.

Therefore, I now press on knowing full well that I will fail in this discipline as well as in anything else that I do. This is acceptable because only when I fall down to I learn how to get back up. The important thing is to not think that I cannot fall and to resolve to get up when I do fall. God loves me not because of what I do to please Him (for He is eternally self-sufficient and does not need anything from me), but He loves me because it is His very character to love and He is eternally faithful to those who have faith in Him and have been made new in His Son Jesus Christ.

I would also like to throw out some prayer requests
  • My prayer life to be passionate
  • My time in the Word of God to be purposeful
  • That I would be a testimony of Christ to the Junior High guys in the youth group I help out with
  • That I will practice spiritual discipline in grace
Now for some praises
  • As of now my tuition is fully paid for in excess of $9 through the generosity of friends, family, and my church!
  • This is a continual praise: I am so grateful that Bethany is here at NTBI!
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him:
God is a refuge for us.
-Psalm 62:8

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Life is good

"I know in whom I believe... and all is well."
-George MacDonald

I do not like it, most of the time, when people ask me how I am doing because I feel that they are not asking how I am really doing and what I'm going through, but that they are rather saying the phrase because it is a cultural norm and they are just expecting "good" or some such pat answer. I no longer care if people ask me this because I now look at such questions as reminders to me of the goodness of God. "I know in whom I believe... and all is well." This is the last sentence in a book by George MacDonald that I recently finished. This is what I think of when people ask me how I am doing. Though my day may not, in all actuality, be going quite like I would have liked it I can still cling to my Savior and declare that "all is well." All is well because I am at peace with God and loved by the author of love.

When I trap myself in looking at my life from my own perspective I only become discouraged by what I see. God wants me to see things from His perspective and so realize that my life is not my own. This literally means that absolutely nothing in life is for my ultimate end. It is so easy to get caught up in my own struggles to understand God and His work in my life that I miss out on the essential part of my life in simply giving my life away - to treat every second of life as something that is only given to me so that I can, in turn, give it away. This is incredibly contrary to everything that I want to believe, but it is absolutely necessary if I wish to truly glorify God. If Jesus gave of Himself for me, I have no right to refuse giving of myself. And yet there is a strong force in me that persuades me that I deserve to keep some for myself. This is utter nonsense! I have been asked by the One who owns me to give up everything that I have in order that He may add unto my lack a glorious abundance that exceeds anything possibly imagined. This is my command and I must obey my Lord.

Life is mine, but not. Getting caught up in my feelings or thoughts will have a negative result on what degree I can give up my life. Surrendering life requires a God focus instead of a self focus. When I realize that life is not about me, then life is good; for I know in whom I believe and all is well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back in the Thick of Things

It has been almost two weeks now that I've been back at NTBI and it already feels like I've been here for an entire semester! I mean this in a good way because that is how much I feel like I have learned in the short time I have been back. The beginning of this semester has been much different than last semester because this time around I felt like I was coming home instead of coming to a foreign place. The first few days that Bethany and I were here I probably introduced her to almost everyone who was there at the school. It was interesting to see how she reacted to everything because it gave me an idea of what I was doing last semester. I honestly don't really remember all the stuff that went on that first week because of all the new things that I was experiencing.

The most important thing that I have learned here in the short time that I have been back is this: to take the Word of God for what is says it is. This seems to be such a simple thing, but it has profoundly changed my life. I started doing some of my homework two days before we officially started classes because I am striving towards discipline this semester and thus found myself reading the book of Deuteronomy. Now, I read Deuteronomy last semester in my Pentateuch class but apparently I learned nothing at all from that because this second time around I fairly drooled over this beautiful book of the Bible.

I never imagined that I would come to love the book of Deuteronomy but I am infinitely grateful that I have done so. Through the pages of this Book I have seen a powerful and loving God. A God who speaks out of darkness in the midst of the fire on a mountain to His people who He has brought out of oppression with a strong and powerful arm. This God so terrified His people with His very voice that they pleaded with Moses to talk with God for them because they were afraid they would die if they heard His voice again. They were surprised that they were alive after hearing God's voice! This is a God who gave to His people such a law that people would wonder at its justice and righteousness. This is a God who promised His people that He would either bless them to the utmost or bring them to desolation in curses. Through this Book I have discovered a mightier God than I have previously known. Reading Deuteronomy with an attitude of discovering God has shattered the box that I have been subconsciously holding Him in this whole time. I could not reconcile my own thoughts of who God is with what He Himself was telling me through His Word. Oh how I wish that all such inferior thoughts of the Almighty God might so shatter into dust and blow away in the winds of foolish thinking!

I cannot begin to tell of the multitude of things that I have learned of God, but I will make an effort to communicate my new knowledge of Him sequentially and soon. I wish to end this blog by thanking those who have supported me throughout my life. Without friends and family to support me I would long ago have fallen in the dust of discouragement. Yet I steadfastly cling to Him for He clings to me. I fall to my knees in gratefulness for His work in the lives of those whom He has used to work in my own life. Rejoice with me in the Master's work and let us obediently follow Him in love for He has first loved us.