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.