Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Now I didn't grow up riding riding escalators on a regular bassis, so any opportunity I get to stand in one spot while going up the stairs is an opportunity I don't want to miss. While I do this, the thought always enters my mind to go the wrong direction - go down the up, and then up the down.
So there I am, almost 23 years old, smiling like a child, bounding down the up escalator. Things started off well as my legs battled gravity, my mind was focused, and innocent bystanders gawked. What seems awkward at first becamea nice rhythm as my feet stepped down and glided back, inefficient but enjoyable, going against the flow. A successful journey almost ended in humiliation, but agility, experience, and determination landed my feet firmly on stationary ground. One step backward and I was enjoying an effortless ride back to the top.
As a Christian, I feel like I should be running down the up escalator of life all the time. Too often I follow the crowd, step on the moving staircase, and enjoy an effortless ride to the top. I don't even think about putting one foot in front of the other and next thing I know, I'm stumbling over myself at the top as everyone around me hurries on by.
As a Christian "young adult" it is easiest to live the way my culture is living. What does that look like? I'm involved in all areas of life. I am getting networked for the rest of my life. I should be capitalizing on every opportunity, making the most of my day. Staying connected, technology is at my fingertips more often than not. As a student I am studying after going to class. Going to work and staying out of debt. Now is the time when I should be seeing the world, having fun, and meeting new people. My body needs exercising. And of course, I'm trying to grow in my relationship with Christ.
Why do I notice the busyness more than I notice how I am growing closer to Christ?
Why is it hard for me to listen to God?
Why am I frustrated with the way my schedule shapes my life?
God clearly tells us humans how we are to live our life each week. Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15 both give Christian "young adults" a pattern for life that God desires us to follow. In light of God's work during Creation (Exodus) and His people being liberated from Egypt (Deuteronomy), the Sabbath is heavy on the heart of our Father. Work six days then rest on the seventh day. Simple. The cultures I am surrounded by today, both secular and Christian, simply do not have the rhythym of Sabbath rest incorporated into them. Living a life that goes against the flow is not easy. Going from a schedule that I'm used to, back to what God desires takes planning, prayer, and power that only God provides.
I have heard the Gospel. The Holy Spirit has lead me to respond in faith. But unfortunately I have continued to live my life the way culture sees fit. I've been hopping on the escalator with everyone around me. It sure is busy, but it feels right - until I realize that I'm no different today than I was yesterday.
God has been pulling me back toward Him for a long time.
God wants me to run down the up escalator with Him.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
We've known about this competition for weeks. My suite decided to do The Wizard of Oz and the other side is doing Toy Story. Each team was supposed to decorate their suite with their theme this weekend and we are coming in costume to work on Friday.
On Sunday I went to work to help decorate and to my surprise only two other people on my team showed up to decorate our suite! I felt frustrated and disappointed that so few people on my team came to help. The other team however showed up in full force to decorate their suite.
The difference in sides showed. The other team showed up and worked together and did a fantastic job decorating. Our side did not.
Who do you think will win this contest?
A week ago I read 1 Corinthians 12, verses 12-31 are entitled "One body, many parts."
Verses 24-27 especially stood out to me. "While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
When you lack unity it's not just the whole body that suffers, but the individual parts also suffer.
I'm encouraged by the way God intends for us to work together. I'm encouraged that we share in each others sufferings and joys. I'm encouraged that we are not alone. When we go it alone we burden ourselves. We end up frustrated, discouraged, hurt and disappointed. God has created us to need others. We are not self sufficient. We miss out on the blessing others have to give us and we have to give others when we do not work together.
I think this short video shows the need for others and for teamwork perfectly:
What happened at work isn't disappointing because we won't win. What's disappointing is that we failed to be a team.
We forget to ask others if the need us and we forget to ask others when we need them. I think our responsibility is two fold. I think it's our responsibility to seek help from others and I think it's our responsibility to offer to help others.
What do you think?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
What do you hope for? I find myself to be hoping for a lot of silly things all of the time. Mostly though, I find myself hoping just to be able to get through the day. I wonder why this is. I think that it has much to do with being nearsighted. I focus on the things of this world way to much and not on that which is to come farther down the road of life and eternity. I look at my circumstances way more than how God would want me to be in those circumstances. We are called to walk by faith and when I get caught up in how THINGS are instead of how I am, I am not walking by faith. The way that I live is a direct reflection of that which I am hoping for.
If all I want is my circumstances to change then that is what I am going to be focusing my time andy energy on because that is what I think is going to be bringing me peace, joy, happiness, contentment, and all of those kinds of things that we really want in life. The Apostle Paul had something interesting to say about that. He said that he had learned to be content in all circumstances because he had found Christ to be his strength.
If I spend all of my time and energy worrying and fretting over things that more than likely I can't change and even if I do somehow get them to change I won't be joyful, happy, or content because I'll still be the same, and I'll continue to be miserable. Here's what I am finding. When my faith is in trying to change my circumstances to bring some joy back into my life it's not going to happen and I am also not hoping for very much. When I find myself hoping for the things that the Bible speaks about me having in this life I find myself placing my faith in the One who can deliver that which I am hoping for. Those things come to me when I am living in a relationship with Him and letting Him do the the things that only He can do and trying to change everything around me all of the time.
God is a rewarder of those who put their faith in Him, and so I ask you, "What are you hoping for and what have you placed your faith in in order to receive that which you are hoping for?"
Side-note: I'm not saying we don't have any responsibility regarding the circumstances of our life, but I am saying that I we are looking to them for the joy, peace, and fulfillment that only God can give us, then our hope and our faith is misguided and whether our circumstances change or not we will be miserable.
Monday, October 25, 2010
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace . . . '" - Isaiah 55:8-12a"'For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.'" - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4"[Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-9"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." - Galatians 6:9-10
Friday, October 22, 2010
Today the challenge in the world is to see ourselves as God sees us. I came across this clip by The Skit Guys, and it really opened my eyes to see that there are so many areas that I am not wanting God to "chisel" away - things that are bringing me more harm that good, but yet I cling so tightly to them.
The Skit Guys - God's Chisel
The skit says it well, that we can never let God down, because we were never holding Him up. Let God work in every area of your life. It will hurt. But it will be the best thing that could ever happen to you. Let's let God work in us so that we may bring glory to His name.
A little buffalo of an idea that has been running circles in my head for the past four years comes from Clay Binford. When I told Clay that I had been listening to the band Burlap to Cashmere, he had me listen to Stephen Delopoulos. The first track on his album, Me Died Blue is called "Another Day." When Clay first dropped this dope track, he told me about an incredible idea he had for a commercial. He vividly painted a picture of a luxury car driving through Glacier National Park, a content family on vacation, soaking in the magnificent views while the song "Another Day" plays in the background.
To my knowledge, Clay's idea is still an idea. The idea is stampeding through my head today. Does this mean that the idea will become reality? Maybe another day.
Too often the Holy Spirit nudges me to make a phone call, send a letter, or stop what I'm doing and have a conversation with someone. I tend to say: "I'll do that another day." Recently, I put off a phone call for two weeks before scrolling through my phone's contact list and pushing send. I waited until another day left a voicemail. A text message came as the response. Instead of quickly texting back, I waited until another day. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit had that idea going through my head to have that conversation with that an old friend. Our communication kept getting put off for another day, but we finally met up.
You'd think a hundred years worth of buffalo stampedes crashed through that coffee shop on Tuesday. In less than three hours, Jeremy and I shared more ideas with each other than is humanly possible.
Some of these ideas were what we ought to be doing with our current reality. Other ideas were looking forward to the new lives we will have after our temporal life on earth comes to an end. Ideas about creativity, money, friends, trust, outer space, books, concerts, houses, family, communicating God's unconditional love, degrees, jobs, memories, Sabbath rest, and growing up. What I put off until another day was so encouraging that I was left hoping for another day like the one I just lived.
I have an idea.
Don't live another day saying you'll do what God wants you to do another day.
Monday, October 18, 2010
"Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out outher slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destoryed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen.'" - Matthew 22:1-14
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
That same odometer rolled over to 196,000 miles last week. Today the oil was changed and it received a little "tender loving care." What happened between 131,000 and 196,000 miles? Did "The Silver Bullet" sit in the garage? Was my little station wagon gently going to the grocery store and picking up a gallon of milk? Were the windshield wipers cracking and peeling because of the fan in front of the treadmill?
No stinking way! This old car has carried me up and over mountains. Unintentionally chased tornadoes across rolling farm land. Shivered through an exceptionally cold winter night in North Dakota. Rallied through mud puddles. Transformed to a bed and breakfast for a transient ski bum. Hauled Icelanders, Kiwis, and Swedes up the ski hill road. Moved college kids from apartment to apartment. And despite a few clanks, bangs, and a rattle and hum, this old car has been a sanctuary where God has filled a life with memories, joy, and a love for life.
Does an old car just magically continue to run? No. Routine maintenance keeps it healthy. Simple steps are taken to keep things in working order. Sometimes an extensive repair causes stress, lost time, and an empty wallet but in hindsight, it's worth it. When the Subaru was 17 years old, it never looked better. The hatch back was delicately embraced with a beautiful arrangement of stickers. The new roof rack increased it's storage capacity. But some things under the hood were looking sketchy. An overwhelming number of dollars were spent, parts were replaced, and some tears may have been shed; but new life was breathed into an old body.
When I was 17 years old, the miles were beginning to take their toll on me. I know I sound like that guy down the hall in the nursing home, but I'm for real. Satan had deceived yet another teenage guy growing up in a comfortable Christian home. While my outer appearance, actions, and reputation said one thing, lies filled me up inside. Pornography and masturbation were rotting me deep to my core. At the same time I still looked appealing to the world. Gossip, slander, and jokes that broke hearts faster than they showed love flowed out of my mouth. On Sundays that same tongue shaped words that sounded like the poems of the Psalmist. Activity filled my weeks, leaving little time for routine maintenance. It was time to check the oil, replace some parts, and put new life into an old body.
God used normal humans to show me what was going on under my hood. I was looking shiny and ready for the road, but disaster was bound to take place. Rather than allowing me to blow a head gasket, crack a block, or burn all of my oil; God used the knowledge I had from a Christian K-8 education, the routine of church and youth group, and the desire to be friends with many people to give me a complete overhaul.
Have I been fixed up to sit in the garage? No. Has the Master Mechanic done some free work that has allowed me to have more adventures than I ever imagined? Yes. Do I require routine maintenance, the occasional oil change, and a new part now and then? Yes. Everyday is a new day. God fills my tank free of charge. I just have to show up. I don't know how many miles God will let me drive with Him, but I can't wait to see where He takes me!
Take time to "look under the hood" today. Ask God to show you what you need to let him repair. Let Him fill your tank for free.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
What does that mean for us?
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Monday, October 11, 2010
". . . He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:10-11)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Dr. Thoman said this roughly one hour after I wrote in my journal. I was only planning to put the pen on paper for a couple thoughts as I was finishing my "quiet time" - this is what God had planned ...
What is God saying to me this morning?
God speaks in Exodus 20 - "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image ... You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain ... Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
In Deuteronomy 5:15 it says "...the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath Day."
Then in Hebrews 4 it is stated, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
The grace and mercy that God has given me allows me to enter His presence. Is entering the presence of God just another thing on my "To Do" list?
God wants me given'er for six days and spend one day resting in His presence. I have been taken out of a sinful dead-end life and God has opened the doors into His throne room. He is standing there with a smile on His face, welcoming me in, wanting me to sit and listen to Him. Each and every day God wants me to come into His presence, see His glory, remember how He has saved me, and He wants to overwhelm me with His unconditional love so that I can go about my day; blessed to be a blessing.
Life is busy - so much work to do, tests to take, grades to make, assignments to finish, people to see, and fun things to enjoy. There seems to be more and more stuff adding to the already busy schedule, but there is still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.
Jeremy Erickson recorded a song called "Slow Dance" a few years back. As I write, the lyrics from "Slow Dance" run through my mind ...
"Have you ever watched kids on a merry go round,
Or listened to the rain, slappin the ground?
Have you ever watched a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into night?
Do you run through each day, on the fly?
When you ask "How are you?" Do you hear the reply?
When your day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores runnin through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast.
The time is short now, the music won't last.
Have you ever told your kids, you would do it tomorrow,
and in your haste not seeing their sorrow?
Have you ever lost touch, let a good friendship die?
Cuz you never have the time to stop and say "Hi?"
When you run so fast gettin somewhere,
you miss half the fun gettin there.
When you worry and hurry, through your day,
it's like an unopened gift, thrown away.
Life is not a gift, so do take it slower,
when you hear the music before this song is over.
You better slow down, don't dance so fast.
The time is short now, the music won't last."
Everyday is a gift from God - what do I do with the gift?
Am I finding my rest in Him?
Is my "quiet time" just another thing on my schedule? Is my heart quiet?
Can God's voice be heard over everything else in everyday life?
Do I hear God's voice? Ever?
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Today is October 6th! You have 11 more days till the October 15th Early-Bird registration date. I would encourage you to seriously consider attending PASSION 2011 in Ft. Worth!
I was in Camarillo a few weeks ago for Good Shepherd's Open House and it just happened that about ten of us AFLBS alumni young adults were in town for the weekend. Having recently moved to CA and living in a town that doesn't have an AFLC church and after working at the AFLC Headquarters for five years I have been feeling cut off from the AFLC. I was thrilled just to be around other AFLC and AFLBS people. I was thrilled because in a lot of ways the AFLC is a family. We are a family of believers. Seeing all those AFLC and AFLBS friends that weekend felt like being home. And I needed that connection!
I think it would be awesome if a whole bunch of us AFLC Young Adults attended PASSION and connected there!
Have you prayed about this opportunity to attend PASSION? Please do!
Check out their website if you haven't yet and let me know if you have questions.
Have an absolutely fantastic week and be blessed in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Monday, October 4, 2010
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.Love ispatientLove iskindand is not jealous;Love does not:bragand is not arrogant,does not act unbecomingly;it does not seek its own,is not provoked,doe not take into account a wrong suffered,does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth;bears all things,believes all things,hopes all things,endures all things.Love never fails."-1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
College is a busy time. Between all the classes and other activities, things can get pretty hectic. One class in particular is taking a lot of my time right now. I’m taking organic chemistry this year. It’s a tough course that requires a lot of time and effort in order to have success. The amount of work that goes into it puts a lot of stress on a lot of people, so it got me wondering what the Bible says about stress. The verses are everywhere. One of my favorites includes Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” One thing that I really take out of this verse is how God is always there. The Bible doesn’t use words like “sometimes” and “maybe.” I love how it’s definite: “He will sustain you” and “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” It’s incredibly comforting to know that he’s always got our backs. Another passage that I really liked, and one that I think of with every test coming up, is Philippians 4:6-7 -> “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The verse really says it all here, let God know about what’s troubling you and don’t worry about it, because God is going to take care of it.
Until next week,