Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More than Mine

I just listened to the song “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns. In the songs there’s a line that says “My Savior Jesus is mine.” Besides that fact that it’s so profound, I find something very peculiar about it.
Immediately afterwards I asked God (and myself) “When does Jesus say ‘I am Yours’ to anyone except the Father?” Then He answered me. He never has because it’s deeper than that. We not only belong to God but, if we choose Him and believe in Him, we are IN Him. It’s on a completely different level. An analogy.
A child who sleeps with a teddy bear usually cherishes the teddy bear for comfort, as something to hold and love, and feel safe with. The teddy bear belongs to the child in every way except maybe that he didn’t buy it.
Now, that is not the relationship we have with God, and we ought to be very joyful about that. Our relationship is more this. Say I have kid, and this kid has a kidney disease. I have the same blood type and genetics so I donate my kidney out of love to my own son/daughter. Not only did I help give birth to the child, but I raised him and saved him. See? The connection is much deeper. That is how Christ is with us. He loves us even more than that though. He could not love us anymore than He already does.
Not only did He create us, but He protects us, blesses us, and loves us. Jesus says many times in the scriptures that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. Also, “If anyone be in Me and my word abide in him, he shall ask anything he wants of the Father and it shall be given to him.” Crazy Love. John 1 says that “in the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and the Word was God…” So, The Word and God are one in the same.
God wants us to be in Him, and He wants to be in us. He stands at the door knocking, and if anyone will answer He will come in and fellowship with him/her. You need not ever feel bad about being blessed, about being safe, or about fulfilling your dream. You are supposed to be blessed! But, the only way God can bless you is if you let Him in and believe in Him. This relationship is even closer than a brother. It’s beyond that, deeper than that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Painter

            The creation vs the creator. God is like a painter, and we are like his painting. When we follow his strokes, his ideas, and his plan, we become beautiful, we become what we were created to be. Though, unlike the painting, we have a will. We can choose to be how he has created us to be, or we can choose to smear and rub the paint all over. Love is the choice He has made in painting us, putting all of His thought and expertise into us. Love is also the choice of us to submit our will to His, and when we do, He is able to make us into a masterpiece.
            Also, when I look at a painting, I care about the paint that was used, the brush that was used, and the practical application, but furthermore, I am much more interested in the person who painted it. I wonder where his inspirations come from, what his experiences are, how he became gifted in the area of art, and who he is. In the same way, I strive to be far more interested in God Himself than His creation. In fact, my care for the creation comes from my care for the creator.
            The painting shows me things about the painter. It is an outward expression of his moods, his feelings, and his muses. So, the painting is important, quite important, in fact so important that the painter would not be a painter without his painting. This is why God created us, to love Him.
            Another break down in this analogy is that, because we have a free will, our lives do not always reflect Christ. The painting, in the natural, will be exactly how the painter paints it. If we choose anything other than Him, we have ruined the painting. If even one part of the painting is not like the painter designed it, it is no longer His painting. It’s incomplete, unsatisfied. Fortunately our painter has a love and mercy that endure forever, and He is ever patient with us to choose Him and His will.
            We are God’s creation, but because Adam fell to sin, we have become subject to sin, to flaws. However, because Jesus died for us, we can be made new again, as if we had never sinned. The painting can be fixed, all we must do is focus on the painter and allow Him to work in and through us.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Double Dose: Who You Are

Who you are is not determined by you. God has made you who you are, at least in all the ways that do and ever will matter. The ways that matter most are that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God(Psalm 139:14), and you have a calling and a purpose He laid out for you, and placed in you something that no one else has/can do. Those are the greatest and most important things about you.

Who you are is not defined by Satan. He may in fact know who you are better than you do, and he is doing everything he can to keep you from knowing who you really are. He is a liar who makes his full-time job to convince you that you are something you really aren't, and to convince you that you aren't things that you really are. His best revenge against Christ is to steal you from Him.

Who you are is defined by God.

Before I go on, may I clarify something. Sin does not define you. A sinful nature and flesh does not define you. That is why homosexuals and murderers are not sin in themselves, they are sinful. We were all created to serve God in a perfect and holy way, and because Adam fell, we are flawed and impure. God has defeated death through Jesus' death and resurrection, and that same power is available to you. If two things are in you, and one is greater than the other, then surely it must define you (or at least who you're supposed to be).

So, the closer you get to who God originally made you to be, the more of your real self you are.

Who you really are is defined by God (whether you realize it or not). What you do with who you are is up to you. You can be fooled, decieved, ignorant, or know it and be foolish. God either has or so badly wants to call you to something so much greater than these.

Back to the painter analogy. God painted you exactly how he wanted you to be, then sin came and smeared that paint. Now, you as the painting must choose to either let Him fix you by seeking and believing in Him, or choose to be "jacked up." If you're truly seeking God, no devil will be able to hold you back. God will reveal the details of you as a painting, and sin and death are helpless against His power.

Borrow My Car

Wanna hear a cool testimony? So yesterday my roommate Berwanger (the one who smokes and has a girlfriend) wanted to go spend the day with his girlfriend. He spent like an hour in the morning calling car rental companies trying to get a car for the day. Well, turns out it's really difficult to get a car somewhere that you don't live. They only rent out to people locally.

So as he's calling i'm thinking "i could just let him borrow my car for the day" 'cause i'm not going anywhere. The only place i could go is Austin to hang out with Stephanie, but she's already said she's busy and i've driven to her the last several times so if she did want to hang out, she would drive to me.

Then of course i started to think about what a risk i'm taking. If something happens to my car, i can't afford a new one. After a little consideration and finding out that he couldn't get one, I decided to let him borrow it with 2 conditions. First, that he didn't download movies while he was gone (so that i could use the internet at a reasonable speed). Second, that he brought it back full. It was only at a quarter tank when he left so he was basically paying 30 dollars plus his gas.

The Enemy would of course try to play on the "what if" card, but God had something greater in mind. The devil rarely puts ideas into us that are pure evil, but rather, he manipulates the ideas that God has put in us and set before us.

When he was trying to leave to come back to the barracks, the car wouldn't start. He called me and let me know, and immediately I'm thinking "i'm so glad it's not me ('cause i don't know much about cars)" Turns out, he knows quite a bit. We hung up off the phone and immediately I said out loud "in the name of Jesus my car will start right now." He texted me about a minute later and said it started. How great is our God?

Berwanger determined it was bad gas. He put fuel injector cleaner and Heet in there and filled it up with high quality gas when he got back. So all in all I got a day off, a full tank of gas, free and fast internet for the day, my gas lines cleaned out, and I earned favor with Berwanger, and all because I simply listened to God instead of doubt and deception. Awesome right?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Word, The Difference

I do not believe that the bible is the word of God. Here is why. The bible is a book. If we left the book on a shelf, it would not jump around and do miracles. There's no magic floating around that comes out of it. God however works in mysterious and wonderous ways, and those ways work both through us and not through us. God is not limited, the bible is about 1600 pages.
That being said, i do believe the bible to be highly valuable and containing wisdom. I believe it is nearly necessary for the Christian life. It is scripture. It has many truths about the Word of God. It is a great tool and gift from above. One more reason is that there were Christians who lived and did wonderful things through Christ who did not have the bible. Moses, for instance, wrote  a lot of things that many people followed, but Moses did not have a bible to help him. You might say "well God did things differently back then." (not to be confused with saying God is different now and then, because He isn't.) This is true, but Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension only gave us more access to God, not less. The thing that was different between Moses and I was not that I have a bible and he didn't. The difference is first our calling, and second our strength in our beliefs. But that's getting away from the point.
Now, the bigger point i want to make is this. When many of you read the first paragraph, I suspect you woud much have liked to disagree with me. Why would you disagree? Because you've always been taught that the bible is the Word of God. Now here's a wrench for you. When Jesus, the disciples, and apostles such as Paul went around telling everyone the truth, the people (Jews, Gentiles, Romans, Pharisees) stoned them, crucified them, and spat in their faces. Why did they do this? Because they already believed they knew what was right. They had taken the words of Moses and whoever else and twisted them to either what the Devil wanted, or what their own selfish desires wanted.
I do not claim to know all truth, but I do claim to be gaining in it and pursuing it. If you asked me, for example, whether God knows the future or not, I would not be able to give you an answer, least not a definitive one. We as Christians I believe need to humble ourselves to any truth God gives us, then compare it to the scriptures, pray for wisdom, and gain in wisdom. In my opinion and as far as I can see, the only reason a Christian would think they know everything is because they are proud. Pride shows just how ignorant they really are.
Last note. Am I saying to be open to everything? NO. of course not. I'm not open to believing that homosexuality is ok. Why? Because I already know the truth about it. Once you have seen and known truth, stand firm in it, don't be shaken and bewildered.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yesterday's Thot- A Chosen Generation 8-19-11

"We are a chosen generation." My argument against this i s that it hardly feels like we're chosen when every generation says that. It's like a child choosing all of the candy in the candy store.
However, this i snot so. Despite the fact that it seems almost cliche, it is true and valuable. Us being a chosen generation doesn't mean that no other generations have been chosen; it's almost the opposite actually. It means that we haven't been left out. It means that our generation has been called and destined just as much as any other generation of glory. We've been chosen to love and be loved. We've been chosen to see miracles. We've been chosen to move mountains and part seas. We've been chosen.
2 questions come to me when i think of this. First, why should i choose God? Why should i love Him? Well, just because He chose you, and chose you first. While we were still sinners, lost to death in a lost and dying world, Christ dies for us. He didn't even have the gaurantee that we would choose Him; He died so that we'd have the choice of choosing Him. He died so that we'd have the opportunity to draw close and see His face.
Naturally the next question is "Why did God choose me?" I was thinking about this earlier yesterday and it brought me to a painter analogy. When a painter paints a picture, he does so with the purpose of liking the painting. He puts his mind, intelligence, and energy into it. He does all of this in hopes that it will turn out to be beautiful, to be something that he will love and show off, to be something He's proud of. God did the same thing when he made you.
You, my friend, were created to be loved. God made you and designed you perfectly with the intention of being proud of you, with the intention of pouring all he has into you. That is why He chose you. That is how you know that you are not an accident. Jesus loves you.

A Broken and Contrite Heart

Today I listened to a song called "Better Than a Hallelujah" by Amy Grant. The line in the song, which the title is based off, is "The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah." Now, before I tell you why i disagree with this, I will say that I have a decent amount of respect for Amy Grant and the work God is doing through her. My point of this is not to bash her or the song particularly.

I disagree that God views a broken heart as more beautiful than a hallelujah, unless of course that hallelujah is "going through the motions" and fake. Then yes, God prefers honest brokeness to false praise. I have found that God highly values us being honest and personal with Him; that's exactly what being in the light is all about. God does not prefer broken and contrite hearts to being glorified and praised as He deserves (unless being glorified and praised comes from brokeness, mentioned in next paragraph).

God of course cares about broken hearts. "The sacrifices of our God are of a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17) God not despising a broken heart, and being receptive of a broken spirit, does not mean He actually prefers it. Many times in the Gospel of John Jesus says "_____ in order that your joy may be complete." The one way I am possibly wrong in this is that the sacrifices of our God are of a broken spirit. So, I take this to mean that we are called to suffer as Christ suffered, and as well we are called to rejoice and be comforted as He rejoiced and He was comforted. Notice that the ends of our suffering are joy and comfort. Christ died and was raised from the dead. He was murdered on the cross in order that He could raised and glorified.

My point is this. We must not use this verse as an excuse to remain broken. God the Father did not leave His Son buried and dead, nor did He "sort of" bring Him back or bring Him back secretly. He brought Him back in glory to eternal life and Joy at His right hand. We as God's children are not meant to live in brokeness our entire lives, and we ought not to accept that we are here. Yes, there is a time and a season for everything which includes pain and brokeness and suffering, but I fear that many people have accepted this not as a season but as a lifestyle, one which they do not know how to escape.

"Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!" God loves you enough to cover whatever sin you've committed and to bring you to Him, but He loves you far too much to keep you there. If you are suffering, let it be because Christ has lead you to that suffering so that you may endure and build character that leads to hope (James), and glorify His name. Don't let it be because you don't know how to accept Him and His love, and certainly don't excuse your suffering because of some unknown or foolish reason.

My last point. There are 3 views of happiness, at least according to what CS Lewis describes, and i've come to full agree with it (I believe it's in Mere Christianity). There are those who are trying to be happy through things other than God, and it's usually through some sort of pleasure in a sinful way (sex, drunkeness, etc.) Then there are those who have accepted that happiness is unachievable. They've given up all hope of ever being content, because they don't know Christ. Finally, there are those who are truly content and joyful because they find their joy in Christ. These are the ones who realize that there is pain and trials in this life, but that there is hope and peace in Christ. This third group is who you're supposed to belong to, and I hope that you do; but if you don't, keep seeking and pursuing Christ, seek truth. "Those who seek me find me."