Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Poem I wrote from awhile back

A catharsis of sorts creeps its way into my veins
A metamorphosis of course of which I can't hold back the reins
When all you have is words
When all you can give is time
A chariot rot with care and craft will carry it
A patriot of old for God and country will tarry not
To be the brave bearer of burdens of companions
Large and small
To rage within for the cause
To fight against tragic loss
A symbol of grace that fights for the whole human race
Through my God I will be
In and through that grace you will see
For the remainder
I will be no stranger
To the pain that Christ bore
In the rain battling for
The souls of those who make it a point to be
Not found
without sound
nowhere around
Eating dust
Craving lust
Judging unjust
Oh we all must
Be spurred we must
Spread the word we must
Get the unction
Learn to function
For soon that horrid thought
Oh that putrid thought
Will be real
The thought of the picture of the words
that is formed in my head
When someone will lecture the words
that are born for the dead
The words too late
Too late
Too late

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The nature of reality

One day I learned that the relative size of the nucleus of an atom to it's electrons is huge. There's a ton of empty space between the center and the electron cloud floating around it's outer edge. If an atom were the size of a stadium the nucleus would be a small marble in the center of it. If it were the size of the earth an electron would be less than 10 cm in size.

Now since we and everything around us are made up of atoms, if you were smaller than an electron you would pretty much be passing through empty space, all the time.

The next thing that kind of hits me after I start thinking about this is that matter is essentially compressed energy. Because of Einstein we know that E = mc^2. If you do some algebra you get m = E/c^2 or Mass = energy divided by the squared speed of light! So to me that means that matter is just energy or light slowed down by a factor of 186,000 miles per hour, squared or 34.6 billion times.

This might all be completely bogus but think about it a little, if God made light, then he could make solid stuff out of it.

So this gets me to the point that freaks me out. We're all just floating around on pretty much nothing. The only reason we don't fall through the floor or pass through objects is because everything around us is the same size as us and so we bump into it. We can open doors, walk on the ground, stay on the earth, touch people, all because of interacting electron clouds! We're basically floating around in and made up of solid light/energy/waves. Stuff that's slowed down enough to bump into other stuff.

If God hadn't congealed all this light we wouldn't have been able to interact with each other. We wouldn't be able to talk to anyone, or see anything, or move around.

The implications of this are amazing. We have been given the gift of a world that can be manipulated by the thoughts and actions we take for granted. With this matter around us that is basically nothing but clumps of light, we have an entire lifetime to use it for how God wants us to. There's no way we would exist without him, we too are made of nothing but this dust he formed. So what better way to thank him than honoring his will in being kind to one another, for we are here today and gone tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sensitive and blessed

Hi. I've been not posting for almost a month now and well, I guess the name of this blog has sort of lost it's meaning. It's been a long day if this is suddenly a "blessed morning."

I am perpetually blessed by God even when I don't ask him to. Over the course of the last two weeks I have seen how God has taken me from really low to really loving him. More and more I understand that being loved and receiving love are two different things.

God loves me all the time, I don't receive it all the time.

One thing I've learned about feelings is that when you look forward and up while in a valley all you can see is the mountain, but when you're at the top you're able to look down and back and see everything. While in a low point I am never able to see that I will ever feel anything but low. While in a high place I wonder why I ever thought I wouldn't be happy again.

Feelings tell the truth only of the present. Wisdom tells the truth of all times, hence why it's hard for us to gain wisdom from single instances of pain or pleasure. We can only see what's here and now, here and now. God can see what's ahead and therefore know the truth of all times.

From a comment, a friend pointed out that God IS love. He be's love. Therefore him loving himself, loving Jesus and by extension loving us, is a matter of being, not a matter of choice. He IS and because he is, he loves us. God can't love something that isn't pure. Jesus made us pure. We're in Jesus. He loves himself, he loves Jesus, he loves us. It's a positional thing, a location, not an action. No amount of action moves that location in Jesus. We are in Christ therefore we are loved.

Also, I am sensitive. I realized this today. I've known it for a long time and it has been a weakness I never liked. However I think I've found a very wonderful purpose for it. In fact there are many purposes it serves. My sensitivity makes it hard for me to like alcohol, so I don't drink, or get drunk very much, which means my brain remains clear. My sensitivity makes me feel others' feelings, therefore I am more compassionate and can help heal hearts. My sensitivity makes me open to God's voice and his spirit, therefore I can hear the music he wants me to write, the words he wants me to say, the thoughts he wants me to put down.

My sensitivity is a blessing as much as I view it as a weakness. It's the grace God has blessed me with to never be able to shut my ears or my eyes to suffering. To never be able to ignore pain in others. To not despise the beauty around me. To not be so focused on just me or my world. I'm all ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and hands. I can feel because I'm sensitive to the air around me. So I will embrace that and thank God for it. Because without it, I wouldn't be who I am.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Invisible consequences

Sin can go on for a lifetime and not seem to have any consequences, as I mentioned in my previous post. This is one of the dangers of sin. It masks itself as something that is "ok to continue." Only when the sin causes us some kind of pain, mental or physical, do we wonder what could possibly be wrong.

From my psych classes I learned that, in training an animal, the synchronicity of events matters. When you place a reward directly after a desired action, along with a neutral stimulus, eventually the desired action will occur in the presence of only the neutral stimulus. The famous example of this being Pavlov's dogs. Further studies were done and it was discovered that animals learn best only if the reward and the desired action are paired within a few moments of each other. With each successive moment away from that action, the animal has trouble associating the two. It's the same with us.

Until our actions result in a negative consequence we'll just go on glibly without remorse for them. Our conscience may get piqued, or our spirit may hear from God, but more often than not we ignore those warning signs. With each successive action without a consequence it becomes easier to justify, and easier to ignore the warnings. For example, I know that I need to go to bed early or I'll wake up tired. In fact I did this last night. I went to bed at 1:00am and had a real tough time waking up at 7:00. The consequence is so far apart from the action, and the justifications are so strong I have a real hard time associating the two, at least enough to take action.

Sin in some forms continues for years without a consequence. Michael Bahey, the man who founded Porn Nation (an organization to raise awareness of the dangers of pornography), didn't experience any extremely adverse consequences for over 10 years. He was married, had children and a great job. But then his addiction to pornography led subtly into an affair, which led to a divorce, which led to losing his family and job. He's an extreme case but there are other dangers that sin can easily manifest after years of no consequences.

So that's why I need to realize that I've been given a memory, an advanced mental capacity (in comparison to animals) and a consciousness in order to connect disparate events. I have also been given warnings, in the form of people like my parents, the form of words from the bible, and of examples in my own personal life. I can take action and change the things in my life, in the strength of Jesus redemptive power, to avoid the sufferings that come as a consequence of prolonged sin.

Without using those gifts that were graced upon us we won't learn without suffering. Not to say that suffering isn't going to happen if we don't sin, but much unnecessary suffering can be avoided by connecting events and heeding warnings.

So heed the rebukes you receive, listen to the warnings you hear, notice the examples around you, and learn from the previous consequences you have suffered. For just because you don't feel any pain now, doesn't mean you won't in the future. However, don't worry about these things as if they were all life and death, God will be faithful to put his finger on them in your life. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you allow him to search you and know your anxious thoughts.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pride and who we are

The first sin of man was Pride, "the movement whereby a creature (that is an essentially dependent being whose principle of existence lies not in itself but in another) tries to set up on its own, to exist for itself." (The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis) We are entirely dependent on God to survive, whether or not we acknowledge it is up to our free will. The very fact that God allows free will means that we have been given the option to live without any contact with God. But the issue arises that since we are dependent on this "other" how can we expect to survive if we don't draw from it?

If we grew up in a Christian home, or even a moral home, our parents taught us to obey their authority so that, when we became of the appropriate age, we would obey the greater authorities. This was done in order for us to be law abiding citizens, or willingly say to God "here am I, send me." We understand obedience to God because of our obedience to God's authority wielders. In the same way, we were dependent on our parents for every need growing up. When we came to the appropriate age we became independent. Now, you would think that this would result in the same conclusion, independence from parents, independence from God. However, God calls us to grow ever more dependent on him. In fact the natural order that God intended was complete dependence in every aspect.

Adam and Eve in the garden had such a relationship with God, that involved giving up their selves, it was a choice but a very easy choice then. The concept of self was there but it was not sullied by the history of the human race, or tempted as such by the world system that is in place today. Yet, they had the same directive that we have today: die daily to the self that lies within in order to become more yourself. God designed us to be vessels, open containers, that give and receive freely to and from God. He designed all of humanity to live in such a way that nothing is owned, it is shared and given. I'm not advocating communism, I'm pointing out that we weren't meant to be independent.

The world around us is screaming for us to rely on no one but ourselves. To throw off any measure of authority that might hold us down. So no wonder it is difficult to realize how dependent we should be. I've been taught my whole life to create my own empire, to make sure that every action I take is beneficial to me and my kingdom. But my strength will eventually fail. Even if it never failed and I became rich and famous, my design would still be the same, I would still require the things that only my Designer can provide.

This idea of dependence makes it clear why Jesus said it was practically impossible for those with much wealth, to enter the kingdom of heaven. Since all their needs are taken care of and all their actions seem right to them, they will rarely come to a place where their independence from God is visible. Whereas those on the street corners, or living lives of debauchery, will more readily come to a place of need.

The problem with sin is that it works for awhile and for some their entire lives. It shades us in a veil of darkness, and only pain or suffering can ever wake us up from that, to turn to God. God humbly accepts us even when we come to him with nothing to give, because, well, we have nothing to offer except ourselves.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

John 12:24-26

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

I think there are enough people in this world that even if every Christian did this, it would still function. Even if every Christian gave up what they were doing and fully devoted their life to Christ, giving up everything to follow him, the world would go on. It would go on but it would be changed completely.

In this life we seem to be given a choice daily of whether or not we will follow our own will, or God's. And that choice in it's implications, grows bigger each time we refuse it. I think that if we follow God's will everyday when he eventually asks us to do something seemingly drastic or huge, it won't be as difficult. I don't speak from experience on that one, I just think it maybe true.

The world around us would change if we individually began dying to ourselves and serving others. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
Our sacrifice creates many seeds that can fall to the ground as well and multiply. This principle is something that Jesus lived out to the fullest. Because of his death billions have been saved. Imagine if Jesus decided he wanted to just live for himself! Imagine if William Wilberforce decided he would just live for himself and not continually sacrifice to end slavery in England. Imagine if Paul decided to live for himself and didn't follow Jesus after he was struck down. Imagine if Mother Theresa hadn't decided to serve the diseased and dying in the streets of India.

Imagine and ask God where he can make you like these people. People who decided not to live for themselves and grow comfortable in their retirement funds. People who decided it was better to live on the street than let one person suffer. People who decided it was better to give up riches and minimal philanthropy to save thousands.

Imagine and believe God will change you to change the world.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An open letter to my sin

Dear Sin,

We need to break up. You've brought me many hours worth of fun and good feelings. You've made me feel like a a rock star so many times, for awhile I thought I was one. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't know what mercy or forgiveness are. I wouldn't know what it means to have grace bestowed on me. But without you I wouldn't need any of those things. So I'm telling you this is the end. We have many better things we can do with our lives. You can go on influencing millions into the wide path to destruction, I've found someone new.

You can kind of say I've been cheating on you. I enjoyed our times together but, you see, you never satisfied me. I liked all the pleasure and highs that I got from you but they never lasted. You made me feel really awesome but then I felt really crappy. This other partner, well he doesn't do that to me. He treats me with respect. He doesn't always give me what I want but he does give me what I need. He gives me pure love, something I don't think you have a concept of. Sure you loved me, I know you did, but you never loved me enough to deny me anything that was ultimately bad for me. You just gave me everything and everything is too much.

Who is he? Well, to give you a hint, he created me, so he knows exactly the kind of love I need. He had so much patience for when I was with you. He let me see that you weren't going to keep me happy, even though it hurt me. He loves me that much. He could see that I would come back to him. Yes, back, I loved him before I loved you. In fact he loved me before I ever knew him. He wooed me before I knew I needed to be wooed. Then I followed your call and came running to you.

So please understand, I really liked our times together, but you need to leave. We need to never see each other, or talk to each other, or even think about each other. It will probably be hard on me, and I may come running to your arms again, but know that I won't ever stay with you. Your ultimate destiny is death. In fact you are dead, you just don't know it yet. So please stop calling me, stop writing me letters, sending me movies, and pictures, I'm done with you. I'm going to throw them all out so I won't be reminded of you.

Sin, I once loved you. I love another now, his name is Jesus.

rest in pieces,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God is love

What does it mean that God is love? Well from how I understand it, after reading the first couple of chapters of C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, is that God is and always has been loving himself. For us to love ourselves it is looked down upon, at least to love only ourselves. For God though it is perfectly fine for him to love himself because he is the greatest thing in the universe. He is the most worthy to be loved of all beings in existence. So for him to love something else would be tantamount to calling that thing the greatest thing in existence. Now I don't mean that he can't love us because he certainly can, but he loves us because he died for us and covered us with himself, so by loving us under those conditions, he's still loving himself. (This might be off so please correct me if so).

Since God is trinitarian in nature he has been able to have a relationship even before there were creatures for him to have a relationship with. The father can love the son, the son can love the father and the holy spirit can love them both, and so on. Now I'm saying this in language that implies there is more than one God, but don't get me wrong, God is ONE. I think part of the mystery of God is understood by married couples. Though they are two, they become one. God is in perpetual oneness with himself.

Since God is the greatest thing to be loved, Jesus came to earth and showed us how to do the most important thing in the world, love God. He knows what is best for us and that is himself. Because of sin we were separated from the privilege of loving God. Jesus made that wonderful and necessary thing possible again and in doing so he was also loving God. By obeying his will.

People, since they are made in the image of God, try to get people to love them the same way that God tries to get people to love him. If you ever listen to a rapper, rapping about himself, he puffs himself up, he makes huge statements about himself, statements with no basis or purpose except to make him look good. God does the same thing, but his statements have a basis in a firm foundation and they have a high purpose, to make God glorious. It's OK for God to be selfish because he is the only self perfect enough to also have the wisdom to be selfless. See, the reason Jesus is so hard to imagine as God's son is because God is so much higher than us. He's so much more than us. He has justification for being selfish and yet he, as Jesus, came to earth and became the exact opposite that he has every right to be.

I thank God that I am counted among those able to talk to him. If it wasn't for his infinite effort to bring us into a right relationship with the father, I wouldn't even be able to breathe anymore. God's mercy spared my life and his grace gave me the gift of a beautiful friendship with the one who made me. Thank you Jesus for your love.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

God's time and our time

We have time here on this earth to live within. How we experience time depends upon many things, our nature, our nurture, our age, our health, our culture and our emotions. In the physical sense, time goes forward, always forward, never back, and at a seemingly constant (although observer dependent) rate. In the psychological sense time travels fast or slow depending on our physical state, if we're sick with a fever we may experience a slowing down of time. If we're really cold we may experience a speeding up of time. Time depends upon our age, when we were kids time was much slower. The ages 7 - 18 move much slower than the ages 18-29. We experience and learn much more over those first 11 years than we do over the next 11. So time is very flexible and very different from person to person.

For God time is something that he can observe from the outside. God dwells within an eternal unbounded NOW (according to C.S. Lewis) and therefore has no past and no future, he merely IS. We, however, are on a time-line. If you saw a picture of it, there would be a horizontal line representing time. It would have a beginning "in the beginning" and an end somewhere in the future. Eternity would be a vertical line that intersects time at one, single point. So time only has any relation to eternity where eternity is intersecting it. Since God is eternal he can intersect time at any single point, or all of them, and see what is happening in that NOW, for him all times are NOW.

The point of free-will comes to mind, since I was discussing it last night with a friend. The argument that "we don't have a free-will because God knows what we're going to do and can therefore know whether we will accept him in the future" can be debunked because of this knowledge. We all have a choice, during our time of life, to choose whether or not we accept Christ as God. God has no influence on that decision just because he can see if we are going to make it. He can just see it, in his unbounded now, he has no more influence on it than somebody watching us do something. He doesn't stop us or force us to choose anything just because he can see the results of those choices ahead of us.

Of course God does sometimes come directly into people's conscious experience and at that point they almost have no choice. That could be construed as "influence" but the people he does that to still have a choice to make whether or not they know it.

When Jesus was here on earth, being a man, he must have lost his unbounded now vision. He must have, for the first time, had to see as we saw. He must have needed to use the eyes of faith to trust, just as much as we need to, in the father's word. The spirit was there on him, the word was in his mind, but his limitations as a man forced him to be an example for us. If we can just learn to see through the eyes of faith and understand through the spirit of God, we can become more like Christ was on earth.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Biblegateway put a new Verse of the Day tool on their website that requires less computer knowledge than usual. It's at this link.


Strength and Endurance

Jesus must have been the strongest man in the world, ever. Why do I say this? Well, this past weekend I spent a good portion of it in agony and misery. I woke up on Saturday early morning, like 5 am, and I had to throw up. I then went back to sleep, woke up, threw up, and repeated this a few more times. All day Saturday I lay on the couch, writhing, trying for the life of me to rest. My back hurt, my neck hurt, my head hurt, I had a fever, and I felt like I was dying. I've only had this feeling once before, and it was just as bad if not worse this time. So back to my point...

Jesus suffered that kind of pain and lived to make it to the cross, where he suffered more pain. He hung on the cross for 6 hours (ref.) and yet he stayed alive to endure it. I can't imagine the amount of strength that arduous task took to accomplish but I'm very glad he did it.

Isaiah 53:5 "...he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed."

Because of his suffering we can be healed here on earth. Because of his sufferings, our eternal souls are healed and restored. We will be reunited with our father in heaven because of the selfless love Jesus showed, and because of the strength God gave him to endure. The worst punishment conceived of by man and our savior went through it for us, such love I can't even imagine.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Tell me something...

The following is my recounting of a story that was told to me last night. It's my imagination and probably not exactly what happened, but what I pictured in my head when I was told the story. I'm going to tell it in the first person, even though it didn't happen to me...

I had a dream last night that Jesus came to me. My relationship with God is very close now and I've done many things that I can thank God for doing through me. He brought me out of the closed world of a closed country, out of a box within a box, into glorious freedom. So when I saw Jesus, walking towards me, I was enamored with his beauty. I saw him, in my dream, walking towards me, bathed in a light that I can only describe as emanating from within. He walked with calm smooth strides taking each step with a strange mix of care and abandon. Each of his steps mesmerized me. I could not stop watching how he walked, how his arms swung so lightly at his sides, like tree branches in a spring breeze. How his heels struck the ground with each step as if somehow a Clydesdale and a mouse were contained in one being. How his broad shoulders shifted and inspired me. I could not take my eyes off of him.

Then I saw his face, the face of the almighty God, the face of Jesus, the face of the Holy Spirit. It kept changing, he was all three, all at once, but I could only focus on one at a time. It was almost like looking at an optical illusion, but somehow it was more real than reality. It was as if I were only a shadow in comparison to this actual thing, this glorious object before me. If all your life you only saw mannequins, strange yes, and you never had the opportunity to see yourself, never saw anyone real, imagine what it would be like to suddenly see another human! He was like the die from which all humans were cast.

I stared at his face as he walked toward me, awe struck by the novelty of his face. How his eyes remained steadily on mine, how his visage morphed and flitted through the aspects of his nature. I couldn't ask for anything more. I had all I wanted at that point, there was no need for him to come closer. If he just continued to walk toward me for all eternity I would be content just staring at how he moved. But he got closer.

As he drew near I felt questions welling up inside me, what might he want to tell me when he gets here? What does he want to say? I could see his nose, bigger than I expected and perfect. I saw his cheeks, full and rich flesh, like he had just finished running. I could almost touch his chin, stout and framed, without defect. And there his eyes pulled me in. I have no words to describe his eyes, they are ineffable, expressionless, beyond comparison to even his changing face. If I were to describe them, it was like diving into a crystal lake and when you hit the water, you keep falling, as if the water were air. Falling through water, falling through a galaxy of healing water.

He came to me and please don't think me blasphemous, he came to me and he knelt before me. The creator of the universe, the almighty, knelt down before me. The creator of all knows how to humble himself, but this was too much for me, so I knelt as well. I reached for his hand and he went to hold mine and the moment he touched me, eternity entered my soul. That's the only way to describe it. Eternity filled me. I don't know how it's possible for all of creation and infinite space to enter into the heart, but God made us that way. You could ask all the scientists and psychologists how that could be possible and they could never tell you. But I know that it's possible because everything went in, every bit went inside my heart and I felt satisfied.

While I was reveling in the glory of being filled he began to lean in. I knew he was going to tell me something. I know that God has plans for our lives, that he makes sure that everything we go through is under his control and his eye. So I had this thought that he was going to tell me my calling, what I was to do here on earth. I was ready for that. But God wanted to tell me something different. What he told me has to do with the fact that God can have anything. God can make an entire other earth, a whole other heaven, with angels and creatures praising him. He can form universes at the snap of his fingers. Yet the one thing he cannot simply create is our love. He can't force us to love him. If you were to go to a billionaire and talk with him, what could you possibly offer him that he can't have, that he couldn't just buy? Nothing.

Jesus leaned in, I felt his hair brushing my cheek, and felt his breath warm on my ear and he said to me "Tell me something romantic."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The machine

I just bought the Oh! Gravity album by Switchfoot and listened to it all last night. I then listened to it again this morning. The lyrics are really good and I think one song has some thoughts that need to be analyzed.

One of the main things that Jon Foreman (the lead singer) says in his albums (the other ones have a similar message) is that the material world isn't all there is. Meant to Live boasts about "second life" and the innate feeling that "everything inside screams" for it. In Oh! Gravity the song American Dream speaks to the need for more in order to prove success.

When success is equated with excess
The ambition for excess wrecks us
As top of the mound becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess

We can't find new life this way. It's not the way to this life's greatest joys. Jon goes on in that same song to exclaim:

I want out of this machine
It doesn't feel like freedom

I do too. Freedom is "the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints" and if we are acting on the compulsion that the more things we have the better we'll feel, well I point you to almost every celebrity. They have almost everything they want and how happy are they? I think that unless they're lying to themselves or have God in their life, they're not very happy.

Back when I learned about economics in High School, they gave me the definition of economics: "the efficient use of limited resources in the face of infinite wants." And that, my friends, is all our problem. We have infinite wants, celebrities have infinite wants, we all want, want, want and never stop wanting. If freedom is the absence of "externally imposed restraints" we will never find freedom unless we can fulfill our eternal wants.

People see those above them, those with seemingly everything they need, and assume that "if I can just get all that they have, then I'll be happy, then I'll be free." What happens when they get there? They realize, as many have, that when they get to the top of the ladder, it's leaning against the wrong wall. No matter how rich you get, no matter what possessions you own, no matter how much you strive for those things, you'll never be fulfilled.

Jesus offers (and is the only one qualified to) us a way to freedom. Let's face it, wanting infinitely is an "external restraint." If we could somehow lie to ourselves and say we didn't want those things, then that lie would be an external constraint as well. The only thing that can satisfy an infinite amount of wants is an infinite being. And the only thing that can be infinite and act towards us, is God.

So why do we search in finite things to stuff this infinite hole? Because we can't see another way. Because the correct way is often the hardest way. Because we're lazy? Maybe...but I think if we looked through the eyes of faith more often. If we saw that our wants were actually infinite, it would make sense that only an infinite being could make those wants go away, and make us truly free. John 8:31-32 "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Jesus offers a way, hold to his teaching and you will know the truth. Psalm 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." What does a shepherd do, teaches sheep to follow him, to keep them safe. If you hold to his teaching you shall not be in want.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The cry of those in need

There are many people in the world in need. I don't know the exact percentage but there are so many millions, if not billions of people who live on less than a dollar a day. That in itself is horrible and should be fixed with the resources we have. However, I'm not addressing the needs of the hungry and poor per se. I'm addressing those who have much spiritual riches and yet don't see the spiritual poverty around them. I am among the spiritually rich. If I could somehow check my spiritual bank account online it would just display an infinity symbol. Not, of course, because of anything I've done to deserve that, but because of what Jesus did for me.

Now because we have these riches and this life inside of us, we must give it away. In math, when you subtract anything from infinity, it equals infinity. So there's no need to worry about the amount we're withdrawing from our account, it will always be full. Who are we withdrawing for? The hungry. The needy. The tired. The thirsty. The ones who don't even know they are bankrupt.

They are crying out and the world has absolutely nothing to offer them. Mark, a new guy to our community, an old guy to the faith, said this last night and it hit me that it needed to be said again. We should hear a wailing from the universities around the city. We should see the desolation among the people of our generation. We have so many blessings. We have so much love surrounding us all the time. We are so RICH and we can't even see it. Jesus gave, he gave so much that what he gave 2,000 years ago is still giving!

Please then, please pray for your searching friends, for your hope-deprived buddies, for your worn out wanderers, for those you know need something they're looking in the wrong places to find. Pray for them and ask God to use you to bring them the truth. Bring them the life. Bring them the way. Before it's too late

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A perfect sinner

Last night I had a thought that is a little undefined maybe even wrong (so if I don't explain this clearly please ask for more). The basic words of it are "The only thing I know how to do perfectly is sin." I know how so well I could do it in my sleep, and I don't even know if that's possible. I had this thought and it got me to thinking, "What exactly is 'wrong'?" I know that the translation of sin "hamartia" in the Greek is "missing the mark." If you were an archer it would be equivalent to not hitting the target with your arrow. So doing wrong can be equated to sinning when it relates to God. We can do wrong by sinning, falling short of the mark that God has set up for us.

First of all, because of what Adam and Eve did, we are born with a "sin-nature" a predilection, a proclivity, a bent, almost a need to sin, and because of this we will, without God's help, always sin. And most of my life, because I've grown up in a Christian home, I've been perplexed by the fact that I can't make myself not sin. I can't, through my own will power, want the same things that God wants all the time.

Last night this thought, that I'm perfect sinner, hit me so solidly and I finally had it, something that made sense. This is it, I'm not somehow defective or created wrong or even hopeless. I'm exactly as perfect as I can be. I'm just following my nature, who I am without God, when I sin. The only reason that I feel guilty or convicted for doing the things in my nature is because, even though I am a fallen human, I also have a spirit in me that knows what is right and wrong. Because Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I have inherited that knowledge, it's written on my heart. I know that what I've done when I sin doesn't meet up to God's standards. So my conscience speaks loud and clear that I've sinned.

So what's boy to do? Although I'm doing what comes natural and I'm actually really good at what comes natural, I still feel guilty for it. How can I stop doing what I'm pretty much programmed to do? Call on the Lord. Call on my father and repent. Turn away from the sin and ask for Jesus to pull me out of that muck and mire. There's no way, on my own, I can get out of sin. It's like a man in quicksand, he can't escape from it and the more he tries the deeper he sinks in. But if he would just call out, reach out his hand someone else, who is on solid ground, can pull him out slowly and surely. Once he's out (to continue the analogy) he may be covered in mud but he's no longer sinking.

God sets a very high standard, a very small mark that is very far away, for us to hit. "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) We can't enter through the narrow gate without help. Jesus has made a way and only through belief and surrender to him can we enter in and commune with the father.

This knowledge is useful for everyone, even those who have been Christians since they were young. Jesus will always be there to pull us out. His spirit will always be available to change us if we are willing to surrender to it. Just call out, hold out your hand and be made clean.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Waking up

I don't know about you but when I wake up in the morning it's a battle. My head is full of thoughts and none of them prompt me to find a way out of the covers. Even as I walk around my apartment getting ready to go I find myself repeating things in my head that I know are not true. Lies that hide the joy that I should be feeling. Things like, "Why are you late, again? Can't you learn to get up earlier?" or "Don't you love God enough to get up early and read your bible? You're some kind of Christian." I'll admit the things I hear aren't that harsh but they feel that harsh and I think it's a consequence of not living in grace.

Grace, that all encompassing word, it means so much, but how do we receive it so early in the morning? When our heads aren't even focused enough to put our feet on the ground, how do we receive an abstract concept? First let me define grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

This states that grace is "not from yourselves" grace is a something that you can't do something to receive. It states that grace is the "gift of God." What is a gift of God? More importantly, what is a gift? A gift is "something acquired without compensation" or "A voluntary transfer of property for which nothing of value is received in return." So this would imply that a gift from God would mean the same thing. A gift from God is something that he gives us without compensation, some 'property' transfered to us where nothing, absolutely nothing of value is given to him in return.

So this leaves us where? Well, when the grace of God is given to us we, being human, want to have done something to have received this gift. We want to have a reason for God to have given us grace. But there is nothing we can do to make God give us grace. Grace is a gift, therefore you can't earn it. It would be like working at a construction site all day and walking up to the foreman and saying "Could you give me my gift now?" He'd have to say "Don't you mean your pay?" "No I want my gift, you see, I worked all day for this gift so I deserve it! Where's my gift!?" You can see the ridiculousness. Once you've done something for that foreman with the expectation to be given something, you've changed the relationship between you and him. You are no longer giftee and gifter, you're now employee and employer.

With God though, he gives because of what HE did. He went through the pain of crucifiction. He went through the torture of public humiliation. He took on all the sins of the world. He did and because that was Jesus' purpose, God gives us the gift of grace. It's a gift because we didn't die. It's a gift because we didn't take any punishment. It's a gift and all we are ever asked to do is receive it. How? By asking.

So when I wake up tomorrow morning I'm going to ask for grace. Grace that covers my short-comings, grace that washes away my pain, grace that heals my guilt, grace that soothes my heart and mind. I know God will give it to me because he died for me before I even knew I needed him to.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We are more than our bodies

This weekend a group from the Fenway Church that I'm part of went over to Framingham, to the Marist house, to have a retreat. We had many times of singing to God and about God and a few times to listen to the speaker (David W. Hill). During the singing times we heard many things in our hearts from God's spirit. One of the themes that arose was how we, as a church, are many puzzle pieces joined together to make a beautiful picture. On our own we may look strange, with bumps in odd places, with curves that don't seem to be useful, but together, when all of us are exactly as we should be, we make a beautiful picture.

This idea mixed with the revelation from David W. that he, when he gets to heaven, will be a dancer for Jesus. And this idea makes perfect sense to me. You see I believe that because we are made to reflect the glory of God, that we are made in his image to shine his glory, then of course we will have purposes after we die. Purposes that on earth might not find their perfect outlet, but when we're there, in heaven, will be fulfilled. We'll suddenly know why we love to jump around and dance so much, like David figured out, we'll know why we love to travel, to make art, to build creative shapes, or to sing all the time.

Our purpose here in this life is to know God and to make him known, to bring him glory and we do this by living in the spirit, by obeying his commands (Psalm 119), and through our talents. The talents that God gave us are maximized in their potential by the whole "body" of Christ, the whole church working together in community. Not only are we fulfilling his purposes as we work individually but as we work corporately we magnify the effectiveness of what we've been given to do. This is a little obvious, of course "many hands make light work." But I'm trying to say that for some of us, our purpose is to build up the people within the church, for some it's to talk to people outside the church (more often than inside), and for others it's to play music or build houses. What our purpose is will become clearer when we are in a community of Jesus followers. And that is the exciting part, we get to be more of who we are the closer we get to each other. I can't stand feeling out of place and in the church, I don't have to. In the church we find our calling on earth and form our spirit for our calling in heaven.

Thus we are so much more than this blob of flesh and bones that people see on the outside. We are a glowing spirit that shines from its core the glory of the one who made us. The more we learn about that glorious one the more we become like him. I am so glad that I know who I am, I am a child of God, a puzzle piece in a picture of God, a brick in the building of the Lord, a cell in the body of Christ, and loved. I've wanted to know who I am my whole life and as I learn who God is, the answer to who I am going to be for eternity becomes clearer and clearer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Obedience and God's Will

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 17:4 "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."

John quotes Jesus here in these verses and we can be very comforted by his words. This world is full of trouble, and by trouble I mean major and minor inconveniences. Major being the things like deaths, divorces, break-ups, and catastrophes. Minor being hangnails, lost wallets, lost cell-phones, weather, and embarrassments. Jesus tells us to take heart in those situations, because he overcame the world. How did he overcome the world? By being obedient to God's will. Jesus came into the world for a specific purpose, to satisfy God's justice, to allow God to be fully just and fully merciful, and he fulfilled that purpose by being obedient to God's will. Instead of taking the throne by force, he took it by humbleness.

How do we remain obedient to God's will? Well this is a question that has racked my brain for some time. Not that I'm old or anything but I've thought about it for years. Last night, I think I finally received the answer.

First off, God wants us to be in a relationship with him. He wants us to be near him and in communication with him. He made that possible by sending his son to die in our place, to be sacrificed in our stead. Because of that we can be near to God even though we are sinful beings.

Second off, what did Jesus do while he was on earth? He remained in constant communication with his heavenly father. He prayed to him, he listened to him, he fasted and he just spent time with him, alone. Then he went out and glorified God. In God's name and with faith in God he healed people, he forgave sins and he restored people to fullness. So in John 17:4 he tells God what he was doing here on earth (not like God doesn't know, but for our benefit) he says "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." He was bringing God glory by doing the things he did.

Thus he had a relationship with God that blossomed into a radical healing power that brought glory to God in heaven. In that whole time do you think that Jesus was in God's will? Of course! Then there's the answer!

To know and work in God's will we must be obedient to God every single day. The things that seem the simplest, praying, reading our bible, talking to God, being with him, are actually the most important. Therefore I think that these areas are the most attacked, the most fought against and the most difficult things to do. Even when we're doing them we are discouraged by thoughts of futility: "What's the point of reading the bible today, I'm not getting anything out of it?" or "Why am I praying, I have to get to class/work/etc?"

The key to turning into a person like Jesus, a person who can heal the sick, raise the dead, speak words of love, and bind up emotional wounds, is obedience. The key to becoming powerful in God, is humbly sacrificing a portion of every day. So, as David Hill senior has been saying recently, make an appointment to meet with God every day. Make that appointment and keep it. Keep it like you would keep a doctor's appointment or an appointment with a celebrity or politician, or someone important. Because after all, who is more important than God? If you do you may be discouraged, attacked, or downtrodden, but take heart Jesus has overcome the world.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thoughts and the animal I am

I know that some of you reading this don't believe in evolution and I am not one to disagree with you, I don't either (I believe in Micro-evolution not Macro-evolution, but that's a different blog). However, the point I would like to make this morning involves agreeing, at least for a moment, that we are animals in some regard. That God, while making us, possibly used some of the design that resides in animals' circuitry, in us. He gave us all a brain that, I've learned from my psychology classes, can be taught things. Just as a dog can be taught to sit. I came to this conclusion many times before but one particular morning not too long ago I realized something that helped me understand myself. It requires a bit of back story...

I have a boot in my apartment that holds the door to my room open. The door, if the boot is not present, closes by itself and is sort of inconvenient, so the boot is necessary. Whenever I want the door to my room to close I kick the boot out of the way as I walk in and the door, quite conveniently, closes by itself. Thus by having the boot, I've turned a hassle into a blessing. Lemons-lemonade. The first time I kicked the boot and I noticed the door closing, I was actually a little frustrated. But then as I realized how nice it was that the door closed itself, I began telling myself to kick the boot as I walked into my room. This was essentially a reward. Telling myself to let my foot hit the boot was equivalent to Pavlov giving his dogs food. So now, whenever I walk in, I kick the boot. I've taken a small, accidental motion and turned it into a learned response.

Now I think we do this with everything. And this is why I say we are animals. I believe we have a spirit inside us that controls this animal, this body that we cart around, and I believe it's flawed. I say it's flawed because, well, look at the world. We've taught ourselves that whatever feels good is what we should do. We've taught ourselves that listening to our elders is antiquated or old-fashioned, repressive, even just plain wrong.

All this is to say, we need help. We can try to make it through life teaching our animal bodies to do what our spirit wants, but we are still going to fail. This is why new year's resolutions fail, why people go to the gym but then stop, why people can't quit smoking, why drinking is such a hard habit to quit. We have no resources in our own bodies to make this kind of behavior stop. The animals that we are are sick. Back at the beginning of mankind we made a choice to depend only on our animal resources, our own brains, to make a decision and it worked. But now we can't seem to pick anything else. We can't make ourselves decide something other than disobedience to God.

But thanks be to God who leads us in his power! We have the victory. We can be obedient. We can make one choice that will make all other choices possible. Namely, Jesus. Jesus died for the disobedience our great-grandparents committed. Jesus broke the sin that trapped us in a circle of shame and bad decisions. Because he died we can ask him to come into our messed up animal and make it pure again. We can be given his spirit to control this body's decisions and his infinite resources will help us make the right choices. The choices that break us free from addictions like alcohol, drugs, pornography, fantasies, food, cigarettes, etc. The spirit of Jesus Christ in us can make a way where there seems to be no way.