Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the importance of having a brotherhood of believers that we can depend on surrounding us. This passage shows that God wants us to have fellowship with others who follow him. Not because its fun or because they like the same things as us, but because they hold the same belief in Jesus Christ as our savior. So where there are two who believe there is strength.
So why are we so quick to judge our brothers in Christ? Is it because our human nature desires for us to be better than others around us? I know that recently I've been catching myself thinking negatively about the people around me. I judge them for things that I honestly don't even know much about! Romans 2:1 says this:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
I think its common for the devil to use our pride and self-worth to cripple us. He tries to tell us that we know everything better than the person next to us. It is SO important for us to dwell on scripture and be reminded day by day that these thoughts are not of God. It is his will for his believers to be united. Jesus says this in Mark 3:24-25:
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
So it is made pretty clear in scripture that keeping our relationships with our fellow believers strong and un-corrupted is important! Don't let gossip or petty arguments get in the way. If you're feeling like you are judging your friends unjustly, pray for God to remove that sinful tendency from you! Your relationships will thrive and God will bless them.
Friday, May 28, 2010
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Life isn’t easy. There are times of trial, testing, hardship, destruction, heartbreak…I could go on. But as I was reading through Job this week, I couldn’t over look the fact that even though Job was going through hell on earth, and even though his family and friends were tearing him down even more, he still kept his hope in Christ. That in itself is a great witness.
Place your hope in Christ – nothing else is trustworthy. And let someone know about the hope. Shouldn’t we share something that is so vital to surviving life on this world, and after?
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Spiritual warfare. Is it something that you think about often? I would say that the Church in America as a whole doesn't really think about it all that much and the results are devastating. Here's why I think they are devastating: the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour; it seems like so many are being devoured and not living victoriously over the devil. Have you ever seen a lion stalk it's prey on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel? It's serious business. They will spend much time stalking their prey, waiting for just the right moment to attack and if the attacked animal is somehow not able to get away the lion will fight with it for as long as it takes to bring it down. They are relentless and they go for the weak spots on the animal right away. Sound familiar?
The devil is exactly the same way. He prowls around stalking his prey, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. When he strikes, he too, will not give up. He wants to see his prey go down and he will go directly for the weak spots. He wants to destroy us. He wants to see us living in failure, defeat, and sin. He takes pleasure in seeing us not live in the spiritual victory that Christ won for us on the cross.
Thankfully though Peter gives us two things to do in regards to the devil seeking his prey. The first thing that he says to do is to be sober-minded. What does this mean? Well, I think that the most basic answer to give is that we take this seriously. That we understand that this battle is real, that we have an adversary, and that he wants to destroy us. If we do not take it seriously that doesn't mean that the devil won't. Do you think a lion would let a prey go because it caught it frolicking about the field? No, I don't think so either. I think that it would enjoy it's easy prey. The devil too will not simply let you go because you got caught "frolicking around" in the field; not paying attention; uncncerned that the enemy was approaching. I think that he would enjoy his prey.
The second thing that Peter tells us to do is made possible only if we are doing the first. He tells us to be watchful, but if we are not sober-minded or serious about the devil seeking us we will not be watchful. It's kind of like if you're not serious about other cars on the street while your driving you're not going to be watching out for them. We need to be careful; we need to keep our senses alert and watching out for the devil to strike. There are opportune times for a lion to strike at it's prey just like there are opportune times for the devil to strike at us. I think that it is important for each one of us to know our weakness and to know when we are the most targetable prey; so that the devil is not able to come and grab us by the jugular so to speak and bring us down.
This spiritual warfare is a real thing and it is important that all of us Christian recognize it to be such. It's not just something that happens to some people. No, the devil wants to devour us all and he will contnue to until we join in the battle and become sober-minded and watchful.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Yesterday afternoon, as the sun shone brilliantly in a bright blue sky, I took off on a run. Less than a quarter of a mile from home, on a seemingly innocent bike path, I saw a snake! I hardly even noticed it, and probably wouldn't have, if it hadn't slithered closer to the grass as I ran past. When I looked down on saw the black, squiggly snake, I propelled myself into the air and down the path with a scream. I probably could have qualified for state track with the height of my jump and the quickness of my sprint down the path . . . Seeing the snake gave me such a spook that I didn't even take the bike path on my return trip; instead, I looped farther around and took the road. There was no way I was going to even chance seeing that sickly thing again.
As I was nearing home, heart still pounding more due to the snake that my cardiovascular activity, I considered my complete avoidance of the snake's sighting spot. What would our lives look like if we avoided sin in that way? In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Paul writes that we are to "abstain from every form of evil". 'Form' could also mean 'appearance'. Do we do that? Unfortunately, I think we are too easily enticed by what the world has to offer and we come up with excuses on why a certain movie, a certain TV show, certain music, is okay. Shortly before he decided to murder his brother Abel, the LORD told Cain, "'Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.'" (Genesis 4:7) Don't even give Satan an opportunity; don't let sin begin to fester. Let's abstain from even the appearance of evil, walking steadfastly in the footsteps of our sinless Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:7-8)
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Honestly, who really likes goodbyes? I've yet to meet someone who doesn't get choked up while saying goodbye to someone dear to them. While thinking about this, I realized that God made us to be relational. But how many times do we take for granted the relationships He has placed in our life until we suddenly realize that they're gone? I've found that the old saying "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" is quite true in this area. As this is a season of goodbyes for many— as graduation pulls students away from friends at school, seminary interns leave for internship (my brother is moving to California!) and life takes a turn for the summer, we are reminded that people don't stay in our lives forever.
There was once a time when I wished people wouldn't leave; instead everything would stay exactly the same. However, I now realize that things cannot stay the same in this life for long. There are two results to this problem, to become cold to the possibility of new friends, in fear that they will leave you as well; or to be open to the reality that things change, and to make the most of the time you're given.
Psalm 133:1 says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" Are we really striving to live in unity? Are we appreciating the people God has placed in our lives at the moment for a special purpose? I find that more often than not we take for granted these people. What would our relationships look like if we took the time to tell or show others how much they mean to us?
Who do you appreciate today?
When's the last time you told them that?
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Are you RUNNING (not walking) with ENDURANCE? Are your eyes FIXED (not glancing) on JESUS? Is your SOURCE (not select areas) of strength from HIM?
run. don't walk.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
This is precisely the feeling I have right now. More than 12 hours have elapsed since I finished my last final at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School. I could talk for hours about the content of the tests, the content I studied that was not on the tests, or the content I saw for the first time on the test ... but I won't. I am tired, so really all I want to do is wine, but I can't digest cheese.
So, I'm taking a break from my normal weekly writing, going to bed "early," giving my mind a rest, and enjoying some fresh air. I have showered, fallen asleep in a 91 year old's yard, and consumed yet another cup of coffee, and unfortunately, at the end of this finals week my breath does reek.
At some point in this college career of mine, I titled a paper - "God is Omniscient, I have a High School Diploma." That's where I'm at right now. My brain hurts, I'm strung out on caffeine, and I am 2 days away from having a high school diploma AND a certificate of general Bible studies from the Association Free Lutheran Bible School. Praise God!
AFLC Youth Ministries would like to invite you to our: AFLC Young Adult Dinner & Forum!
Special Guest Speaker and Director of Youth Ministries Pastor Jason Holt (I know that was a mouth full ;)) will be there to Emcee as we dive into our Young Adult world, connect with one another, eat some awesome food from Sweet Taste of Italy together and have some rockin discussions at our tables.
When? Friday, June 18th at 6:00 PM
Where? AFLC Seminary Chapel Dining Hall
Why? A connection time for those in the young adult season of life
How Much? $5
RSVP to email@example.com by NOON June 16, 2010
We would love love love (seriously love) to see you there!
Youth Ministries Associate
p.s. Did I mention we would love to see you there?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This week I would like to continue with the theme of surrender and to begin I would like to quote a short part of a book by one of my favorite authors, Andrew Murray, called "Absolute Surrender."
He says this: "Absolute Surrender - let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often and you have heard them numberless times. But in Scotland once I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ's Church and what the great need of the Church and of believers is, and there was in our company a godly worker who has much to do in training workers and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church and the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly: 'ABSOLUTE SURRENDER to God is the one thing.' The words struck me as never before, and that man began to tell how, in the workers with whom he had to deal, that if they are sound on that point, even though they be backward, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve; whereas others who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God's full blessing is absolute surrender to Him."
I don't really know how much more one can say after reading something like that but I do know that I believe what he says is true. Absolute surrender to Christ is what every Christian ought to seek for; what Christ desires of every Christian. Absolute Surrender to Christ in every area of our lives. To be honest, it is sometimes easier for me to say I am surrendered to Christ with the whole big scheme of life instead of saying I am surrendered in day to day living. It's easier to surrender generalities instead of specifics isn't it. It's hard to surrender our daily habits or thought patterns to Christ; yet that's what He desires of us. Absolute surrender.
I want to be absolutely surrendered to Christ but I know from personal experience and from what the Scriptures teach that I can't come to that point on my own. Instead of striving after it in my own strength I have been encouraged and taught to "get down on my knees" and ask God for the ability to surrender myself completely to Him.
I fear that much of the Christian work today is done in our own strength and with our own wisdom and only as we become absolutely surrendered to Christ will we see God's will accomplished as He intends it to be here in our's and in lifetime's to come.
"Are you ABSOLUTELY SURRENDERED?"
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Many, many times in the Gospels it shows Jesus talking with, healing, eating with, and basically hanging out with “sinners.” His compassion and heart for them to be saved is amazing.
He took time to talk to a Samaritan woman, even though he was weary from his journey, and despite the fact that it was unacceptable culturally for Him to talk to her. And through it, He changed her life and many others. (John 4:5-42)
He called fishermen (who were probably pretty smelly) and tax collectors (who were hated by others) to be His disciples. But wouldn’t that affect His ministry with everyone else, who probably couldn’t stand to be around them, and influencing their view of Jesus negatively?
Jesus went the opposite way of the world. Not only when He was feeling good or joyful, but in times of struggle, pain, and heart-wrenching moments. He thought of the thief on the cross, he thought of you and me when being scourged.
Jesus had a bigger picture in mind, and had Someone greater that He was living for.
Matthew 9:12-13 says “But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Maybe today we need to sit down and learn what it means when Jesus says He desires compassion, not sacrifice. I know I do.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
A former professional basketball player in Australia, standing six feet nine inches tall and pushing three hundred pounds, Dewey Michaels (the home owner) is hard to miss. Standing at least a head taller than every kid in the room, someone asks if he played “Jaws” in that James Bond movie. More noticeable than his stature is the sound of his voice. On this Tuesday night, Dewey is sharing his own experiences from high school, capturing the attention of a very diverse group of kids. The room is silent as Dewey talks about what life has been and can be like – lonely, painful, confusing, boring, and scary. You can almost hear every kid’s heartbeat while Dewey explains that everyone has the opportunity to have a relationship with God. Hearts are stirring while attention spans are shrinking. Dewey ends the night with a simple yet profound question – “Who are you when you are alone in the dark?”
Dewey made a large footprint in my life right about a week after Paul Kneeland (see post on 4/22/10) moved to Sioux Falls, SD. I saw more leg than I really wanted when I noticed Dewey sitting in the sun at Foys Lake. After commenting on the amount of flesh that could be getting a nice sunburn, Dewey turned the conversation toward me. He asked if I was going to come to Young Life at his house on Tuesdays. I had a fun time at Young Life’s Fall Camp the year before, so I quickly agreed. Little did I know, Young Life’s focus was building relationships that encourage a relationship with Christ.
Dewey was good at building relationships with people. Sometimes it means he is pointing out the stupid things you did last weekend. Maybe he’s encouraging you to do your homework so you can graduate from high school. Quite often it includes talking about sports. More times than I can remember it involved laughter. But no matter what, Dewey’s main concern is where you are finding your identity.
In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul says “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and ask yourself the question –
“Who are you when you are alone in the dark?”
(note - much much more could be said about Dewey Michaels - my sincere apology for trying to contain such a big person into such a short writing, but it is the end of the semester and there is so much work to get done ...)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We are always accessible, always interacting, always turned on.
What would happen if we turned it all off?
Matthew 6:16-18 says, "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you"
Isn't it time we take our focus off of ourselves and turn it TO God?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
(I'm not going to go into super specific detail but I trust you will get the proper idea of what I am saying.)
About five years ago I went through a period in my life that was most trying and difficult for myself, for as far back as I can remember I have wanted nothing more than to live out God's will for my life and as early ninth grade I had aspirations of becoming a missionary on the foreign field. I loved reading books and hearing stories about missionaries and wanted to be one of those who would take the Gospel into the jungle and hack through brush like Indiana Jones and build a house that the wind would blow through at night and send the candle light dancing and flickering across the walls. I had this romantic sense of adventure, still do, and thought that's what God wanted me to do. So much so that after I went to Bible School I went to MTI and studied missions and then spent a few months in Mexico on the foreign field observing and participating in the very thing I thought God was calling me to do with my life. It was hear though as I spent hours in the room given to me by a wonderful Mexican family that God began to do something in me. I didn't understand what it was at the time, but He was asking me to surrender to Him.
I came back from Mexico and spent the summer on Summer Teams traveling around sharing the Gospel. It was during this time that I began a friendship that God used during the next months and years to bring much encouragement into my life, which suprised me greatly because as God was breaking me it was hard to see that God was still out for my good.
Following Summer Teams I returned home to Cloquet, MN and spent a year working and trying to figure out what it was that God wanted me to do with my life. I mentioned earlier that God began this process while I was in Mexico and it continued on through the next several months. Of course we must always be surrendered to Christ, but this was the breaking point for me. While living at home I applied to several colleges, each one at a different time, because God kept closing the door to each one that I thought that I ought to go to. My plan was to study missions and head out onto the foreign field somewhere, even though I had come back from Mexico disillusioned and confused about what God wanted me to do. Finally, it was May 2005, and I said, "Fine, Lord, you don't want me to be a missionary, then show me what to do." This came though after the final blow to my stubborn pride and selfishness in not wanting to surrender to what God wanted me to do. During my time at home I had been dating someone and really thought that we were going to get married, but it turns out that God had other plans. We broke up in early 2005 and after that happened I went into a state of complete confusion and disarray. I was angry, I was depressed, I was lonely, and I was lost. The plans that I thought God had for me had all been completely taken away from me and now what was I going to do? I felt like a failure. God was saying no to missions, no to getting married, I had no plans; no hope. I didn't read my Bible for two months because I thought God would tell me something only to discipline me once again. As I said though, in May things changed. God began to break through my stubborn heart and show me what He had been trying to do for so long. You see, the plans I thought were His were really rooted in selfisness and a desire for adventure above anything else. I didn't so much care to bring the Gospel to people, I wanted an adventure. My relationship that got broken up, had been, on my part, very much used to satisfy my own needs and not the needs of the other. God began to show me these things and it has been from that point on that God has taken my life and began to teach me and show me what it means to live a life completely surrendered to Him. Yes, I have wanted to do God's will for a very long time but it has taken time and a surrendering of myself, my pride, selfishness, and desires to do what He wants me to do. Surrender is key to following Christ.
I would like to close with verse, "Then Jesus told His disciples, 'If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me'" Matthew 16:24
Are you willing to surrender?
Afterthought: it seems that my whole post was my testimony. Maybe next week I will continue with this theme of surrender, for it is what we are all called to, and though I shared about God asking me to surrender my life plans to Him that surrender takes place in our hearts and is carried out day by day in all of the thoughts, actions, and words of life.