18 September 2009
15 September 2009
When we play games with ourselves - or when we study by ourselves we don't get the full benefit. Regardless if we're studying God's word, a class, or anything else. The only way we will challenge ourselves and learn anything is if we take the chance and ask others to help us. No matter what we're doing, we must have someone to challenge what we are saying. That's part of what this blog is - a way to reach a mass of people and have them challenge what I'm saying; a way for them to ask me questions so that we can all understand what God is trying to tell us. I encourage everyone to have some form of expression that can be shared with people so that others can look at it and challenge what they are saying and ask questions about it.
Even God challenged the beliefs of His disciples - He did this to ensure that they knew what He was saying. He wanted to make sure that the leaders He was sending out knew exactly what He would do. While I'm not saying I'm in any way, shape, or form blessed with the exact same knowledge and wisdom that the disciples had - I do know that we must challenge each other the same way that we are accountable for each other; if for nothing else than to gain a better understanding of the Lord's text.
And not just the Lord's text, but his meaning. Let's face it - Jesus loved parables, and even though He told us the meaning - we still must understand and relate that to what that means in our modern life. When you ask a friend if they are alright and they say, "Fine," yet look like something is clearly wrong, you don't just accept it do you? No, you pester them until you find a way to help them with the problem. I understand that this is a slightly backwards way of explaining this; but just as you pester that friend, you must pester the Lord's word until you figure out the meaning and interpretation to apply that to your life. And to do this properly you must have someone with whom you can challenge and ask questions. When you come to a conclusion, you may not always be right - in fact, more times than not you'll probably find yourself wrong in some way. However, when you work with someone and have them challenge you, you find that you can interpret things in a much clearer way. And when they challenge you, you find that you are challenging yourself to summon answers from a deeper place than the shallow answers you come up with on your own.
This is why people have a tendency to talk with God - He can challenge you in ways you could only dream about. Pray that He can challenge you enough that you can come up with the answer to that question of Faith you've been struggling with. Pray that He can challenge you enough to want to share His word to numerous followers. Pray that He can challenge you enough to live for Him. He will challenge you. Welcome it - it's the only you'll grow in His image.
31 August 2009
In my life I have treated myself with the lowest form of sin. I have sinned, knowing that I can control the particular impulse of the sin. I have learned, that unless I actually teem the radiance of God, I will never treat myself like a Godly man. In fact, I wouldn't consider myself a man until now. A man as a human, but still a toddler in my faith. Manhood is brought about by a specific event. Manhood is brought about by the acting like one. Manliness doesn't come from any one thing except your ability to control yourself. Sin is regular. But I CAN control it. It's up to me. In my faith I have now learned to walk, I have now grown enough to know what hurts, I have grown enough to have conditioned myself not to do things. For, before this, the conditioning should have been done already. But now, I realize that it wasn't. I conditioned myself to ask for forgiveness instead of treating my body like a temple of God. I have learned that what I have done is damaging to me and those in my life. I can resist, I just have to try.
This prayer is not just for me, but for everyone. For every sinner who knows the deserve nothing more than the wrath of God. I know that I don't deserve the love and forgiveness of God, but that is why I cry when I think of his mercy. I know that deep down, I couldn't forgive myself, but God - God can forgive any circumstance. I know that the Declaration of Independence I made before now was not truly heart felt. It felt like it came from the heart, but it came from my mind. I know now that what I must do is live in His image - ALL THE TIME! For God is Good all the time, why should I expect less from myself? Why would I allow myself to sin thinking that I am just human? Don't misunderstand me, I know that sin will happen. But I CAN do everything in my power to stop from ruining my relationship with my Father.
The wrath of God is dreadfully revolting. And truthfully I know that I deserve that. I deserve to be treated the way he would treat any other common rodent. But I know that God will treat me with mercy and kindness. I know that when I ask God to forgive he does. His almighty power doesn't stop at wrath - it continues into love. His love is greater than any other kind of love given. For He loves everyone. Sinners, Saints, Angels, and Humans. He treats them with the same respect he treats his only Son. I fall to my knees in adoration for His greatness. I raise my hands in respect for his power. I send my heart to Him with love for his compassion.
No one Christian will know the point in their life when they learn that they TRULY are living for God. I know now that I have been building up to this in my servitude. For my love runs deep, but His love runs so much more deep than any feeble river I can make. But I pray to resolve my life to this: prayer, love, adoration, fear, and respect for my God - my Father. I hold each person accountable for everything I do, as well as everything the people around you do. I know you cannot control my actions, or theirs. But you can show them the Love that God shows to you. You can treat them with the forgiveness God grants to you. You can show that they mean as much to you as your own family. I pray that I can take control of the sin in my life, instead of letting it control me. I resolve that I can treat others with the same respect and kindness shown to me by my Father. I know that I can have love for myself, because of the Love God shows me. I understand that I can do all I can to worship Him. To treat Him with respect. I know that through my persistent perseverance that I can change my life - and the world around me. This is my life. This is my God. This is my prayer.
25 August 2009
It's not easy living for God. In fact, very few people in the history of the world devote every ounce of energy to him. Very few humans spend their lives pleasing him. Even I must admit that Sin has controlled my life more than once. Even as I'm typing this I realize that I, too, have often locked my door so that I think that God can't see. God asks us for our lives, wholly. My major is theatre in college. And I don't plan to change that. But I will do everything I can to make sure that my talents are used to enrich Him. Because that is what He asks.
I can say, from experience, that it will NOT be easy. It's not supposed to be. We were cursed with the free will to think and make decisions on our own. We were not blessed with simple actions and asked to perform them over and over and over again. No, instead we were given minds. We have the power to decide where we want to go. Sadly, when we live with God we don't always take the same road he walks. When we are on the highway of life we take many exits toward sin. We walk along next to God, talk with him, hug him when we need comforting, clutch him when we need help; yet, we keep a small thing of sin in our pocket. We keep it there so that we can pull it out at anytime and play with it. When we turn back around, God is still there. Because He is trusting. He is merciful.
Think of it this way. A kid goes to a carnival. He sees the clown with the balloons. He begs and screams until his parents finally pay for him to have that shiny red one he has had his eye on. All day long we walks around with the balloon. You see, we are the child, the clown is Satan enticing us with Sin, and the balloon is, of course, the actual Sin. We walk around with the balloon connected to our wrist with string. Even though God is there, and we feel the sin is put away, we can still pull on that string until it comes back and we can have fun with it. What we must do is cut the string. Not just leave up in the air tied to our wrist. And we can't even pop the balloon, because, the truth is, we can still repair it and blow it back up and create the sin all over again. We have to cut the string. Yet, we must leave on that sliver that is still attached to our arm as a reminder. A reminder of the pain that we cause God every time we bring that balloon back down; or every time we take the sin from our pocket.
You can take as many exits down the highway of life as you want. What really matters is what direction God will tell you go when it dead ends. That's why we must not stay beside God on the highway and 'meet back up with him.' We must stay behind him; perpetually following him, and living for him. Because at the end, I want to go the direction he's going, not the other way.
19 August 2009
I went to sleep on Monday night. On Tuesday, for the first time, I opened my eyes for the first full day of this journey. I was born into my world, without dying out of the old one (at least I hope not). Yet, even as I laid in bed looking at my new ceiling, in my new bed, I realized the newness of this life isn't matched with the struggles and triumphs of the old life. I have grown into something more than I could ever have expected to be. I have conquered that which has plagued my family. I am going to college. I am going to succeed. Now, don't misunderstand me. I do not say that I am not proud of my parents, for they gave me more than I could ever thank them for. Nor am I saying that they did not succeed. What I mean is I reached a milestone which, up until this point, has not been conquered by any person in my family. I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be because of how ecstatic I feel being here.
As I stood out on my balcony, outside my apartment, I understood that everything in my life has, so far, been building up to this one magical moment. This time when I can grow, and live on my own. I understand now, that what God wants in my life is just this. He wants me to succeed. In every venture. I guess that promise has never sank in until now. This promise of fulfillment. This hope for the future. I know that I can do it, because God is with me. God is guiding me. Satan is trying to pull me down. But my success is not measured in how many times I fail, but how many times I overcome the failure. It's not measured in how many dreams I make, but in how many dreams come true. My success is not dependent on any one thing, except my desire to get where I want to go.
I travel through this world with nothing more than hope and faith - but I realize now, that is all I need. For God is guiding me. I know, as I stare out above these trees, that God makes Kings from the smallest peasants. For a Kingdom is nothing more than the intentional success of one lonely man, who wants to make a difference. My kingdom will be for God. My desire will be for God. My new life, in my new school, in my new apartment, in my new town, will be for God. I have been resurrected into a new aspiration to please God - through what I learn at school, and life.
They say every ending is a new beginning. But what if every beginning is a new ending? What if we go along one journey until something new happens? You don't quit one job until you start working at another. Then why would you end one journey before another begins? I know this is a beginning of my new life. This is also the end of my old life. My life where I desired earthly things. Now, I will live for God. In everything I do. It pleases me to please him.
This is my Declaration of Christianity. This is my Declaration of Independence. This is my new life. I will live, grow, and walk with the Lord. Live for him.
As I go to bed each night, I will wake with the knowledge that whatever God has planned for me, I will succeed.
My new life is Independence. My new life is Prospect. My new life is Success.
23 June 2009
Let me describe what I mean by each one.
First of all, the mule's. These are the christians that even though they say they worship God, and will follow him. They stick to their own ignorance and do as they want to do regardless. I'm not pointing this at anyone, but you can tell if you are one of these. Life works in a way that we don't know about, but God does. He shows us the correct path to take, and asks that we follow his decision. But, like the stubborn mules some of us are, we take our own path and choose for ourselves the worse one.
Second are the cats. These are the ones who follow God on an every now and then basis. If you ever notice cats, when you call them, they take a message and come when they feel like it. They'll go do what they want at their leisure, and do what you ask when it's right for them. As christians our natural human tendnecy is do what will benefit us, and come back and do God wants when the two coincide. Our God forgives us of our sins - completely. Yet, why do we not give him the respect to do as he asks? Simple answer, we are humans. That's tough to overcome, but we must try.
This brings us to the third group, the Dogs. I know in today's society being a 'Dog' seems to be deragatory term. Yet, that needs to change. Dogs seem completely devoted to following their masters. The dog must be trained to do this, but we must train ourselves also. Dog's are not like the servant in the parable of the slave of two master's. A dog shows his devotion everyday, in some way. That is what we need to do. While, I understand that I have fallen into all of these catergories at some point in my life, I am vowing to God right now, to be more dog-like. I challenge everyone reading this to do the same. We need to be D.O.G.s.
Deliberately Obeying God... Be a Dog. Not a cat. And definitely not a mule. Live your life to obey God. As he wants you to. As they say, D.O.G.s rule - cats drool.
For all of life's problems, ask God.
14 May 2009
God ALWAYS answers prayers. Sometimes, the answer is 'Not now,' or to the negative in some way. What we have trouble with is something different than what we thought the response should be. There is a classic joke that goes like this:
A town had flooded, which forced this man to his roof. Now, this man was a young christian, he had just taken christ in his heart a few months ago. As the water rose level with his roof a boat floated by and the driver yelled, 'Jump In, I'll save you!' The man yelled back, 'No thanks, God will save me.' As the water reached the the middle of the roof another boat came by and, yet again, the man declined saying that God will save him. As the water reached his ankles a helicopter flew over to offer a final salvation from the rising current - which he declined for the last time with the intent of God saving him. Finally the water engulfed him and he drowned. When he arrived at the seat of God he asked, "Lord, why did you not save me from the coming flood?" God looked at him and answered, "What do you mean? I sent two boats and a helicopter to save you. Why did you not accept them?
When we ask God for something in prayer we have to understand that God will answer it on is own time. He knows when it is right for us. He knows what answer suits us.
It's the right decision to ask God; but it's not the right attitude to pray for what you want to happen. Or even to expect that will give you exactly what you want. When praying it is very imperative to understand and pray for God's will - not your's.
God guides us with his alknowing, understanding, and merciful will. He knows our paths long before we decide which turn to take. The road that God built for us to travel through this life. However, we tend to travel a different road, unless we truly ask for God's will. Unless we know that God has great things in store for us. God knows our destiny. But it's our will to accept it and follow his guidance.
While we 'wait' for prayer we need to understand that God either has already answered it, or knows the perfect time to answer it. God knows our needs, and when to give us what we need.
I'm reminded of this song; the chorus simply says 'Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.'
So trust that God is doing what is right for you. God knows what you need and how to get you there.
Pray for God's will. Don't wait on him to answer with what you desire; but, realize when he does answer it - in His way.
For all of life's problems, ask God.
07 May 2009
You do know what that means correct? It means F*** My Life. Why though?
Isn't your life worth living? Isn't your life happening for you? Isn't your life worshipping God? Sometimes, it does seem like your life is coming at you at a really fast rate, just take a deep breath and try to make sense of it all. God will not give you more than you can handle - but you will!
Learn that you're not Superman. You can't do everything. That's the we tend to say FML - because we're frustrated when we can't do everything on our agenda. If you're mad that you have three papers due tomorrow, and you have to start on all three, that was you're mistake. Take everything in strides, get over what you can't accomplish and learn to be less critical of yourself.
You'll find you'll be a lot happier when you realize that what you're doing is all you can do. I personally find myself in these situations all the time. I have my agenda so packed that it is about to explode. Tha't when I don't plan anything else, I just get through what is already scheduled. However, time managment is just part of the FML stress of everyday...
The second part is when you decide to learn from your mistakes - as I said before, be less critical. The truth is, you're NOT perfect - and no one expects you to be. Do what you can the best way you know how, and live for God, and yourself.
In Maslow's heirarchy of needs, we see that we must first meet our physiological needs (breathing, hunger, thirst, et cetera); then we must meet our safety needs (security of what's around you, your job, family, health); next is our love/belonging needs; followed by self-steem; only after all of that is accomplished do we reach self-actualization. At this point we are most proud of ourselves and truly don't care what others think.
The truth of this is that self-actualization is not static, it waivers. People very seldomly find self-actualization and it is only for a miniscule amount of time.
So love your life, be happy with who you are, even though psycology says you'll very seldomly reach that plateu. Love your life.
Let's start substituting FML with LML (Love my life). Because it doesn't matter what comes at us, we can handle it, we can overcome it, and we can learn from it.
Have a wonderful day. I love your life. You should, too.
For all of life's problems, ask God.
19 April 2009
When was the last you woke up and just layed there for a few minutes thinking about how good your day will be? When was the last time you walked outside, just to see what God has created that day? When was the last time you wathce the sunrise or the sunset? When was the last time you DID stop to smell the roses?
I know that I am guilty of this and have recently thought about 'cooling it.' The inborn desire of me is to be busy all the time. Something tells me to keep going. I have to relax this feeling and be able to relax myself. If we keep going all the time at some point we will just explode; our feeling, our emotion, our want and desire to keep going, our will will just become nothing but benign. It will not even sting when we think that we are doing nothing.
As Americans we have such an inborn tendency to be busy, to be doing something all the time, to get to where we are going as fast as possible, to cram our day full so we can experience everything we can in the shortest amount of time. We do this so much that the weekend is that time for us to just become numb and relax our bodies and minds.
I think we all need to learn to relax. I think we all need to learn how to wake up and smell the coffee. We all need to take the scenic route. We all need to stop and smell the roses.
Not only is speeding down the road not safe. It's not healthy for you soul, body, or mind.
We need to relax, to stop, to see the world as it comes around us - not while it's speeding passed us in this perpetual, dismal, bleak, fast-paced world. We create our own lives; who we are, what we believe, and how fast we want to travel through this existence. Our struggles in life are promised to us, and we can't do anything about that. But we can relax every now and then to prepare mentally and physically for the next one.
Now, that's not to say that you can't do stuff unless going throuhg a problem; it just means relax intemittenly. Overcome that biological predisposition that says to keep going.
After all, what's the rush anyway?
For all of life's problems, ask God.
22 March 2009
It doesn't take much to start a revolution. A simple spark can ignite people for something they truly believe in. I think it's finally time we, as a country, recognize and practice Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's quote, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that; the chain reaction of evil must be broken or we will be plunged into the abyss of annihilation."
I have a good friend named Shelly Burke. She is one of the most caring, loving, kindest individuals that I've ever met. She practices Dr. King's philosophy on a daily basis. Her morals, ethics, and beliefs can be summed up into two simple phrases; 1) the goodness of man, and 2) the greatness of God. She stands behind these beliefs, never wavering, relentlessly immersing herself in goodness, and perpetually creating an atmosphere of love. Shelly not once begs the question, "What do I get in return." She n ever wonders, "How does this help me." Shelly's concern is with helping her fellow man; assisting those around her; loving all of God's children and creatures.
Webster defines light as, "Something that makes things visible or affords illumination." Shelly does just that. She illuminates all the good that surrounds her; she offers her hand, or her heart to those in need. Shelly makes things visible that most people can't see. When people see a broken down spirit that is hopeless and will never be repaired, Shelly sees a lost soul that needs to find its way back on track. Some of my most notable memories of Shelly are on Mission Trips to Mexico. My first mission trip to Mexico was her third. We befriended each other fairly quickly. That's not just because we are a lot alike; she also struck up conversations with me, and played games with me, and went out of her way to make me feel welcome on the mission trip. However, that wasn't what really stood out about her from that mission trip. In Mexico we set up Vacation Bible School (or Escualita Biblica) sites to help share God's word to the kids in Mexico who would have never heard it otherwise. While we were passing out flyers Shelly and a couple of other people met a girl named Altalia. Shelly would later tell it this way. She had a disease, and was either forced to be in bed or in a wheelchair; therefore, she could not go out and play, so she didn't have many friends. However, she was very happy and content with what she had, and who she was, even though an illness threatened to claim her life at any minute. Shelly, being the caring person that she is, broke down and cried for this girl. She didn't only cry for Altalia, she prayed for her, prayed for her well-being, and prayed for God to take care of her. As Americans we have a tendency to do the least we can to get the job done. It is really easy to be nice to someone if you never see them again. However, Shelly's kindness and light do not end at praying for her, they extend far beyond that; the next day Shelly went to the little two-room house that Altalia's family lived in. She took Altalia herself to the VBS site; she pushed and pulled her wheelchair through the mud until they finally arrived. And, of course, when it was over Shelly wheeled Altalia back to her home. This went on the whole week but, by the third day they were able to take the church van to pick up Altalia. Shelly's light defies many 'real-world' expectations. Like Matthew 5:14, 16 says, "You are the light of the world…. Let your light shine, so that [men] may see your good deeds and worship your Father in Heaven." Shelly does that on an everyday, every minute basis. Shelly doesn't lower herself to the 'real-world' or 'modern-day' world expectations of compassion.
Shelly's love for those around her abounds in such a way that she destroys hate, much like Dr. King's quote says. An example of this happened, again, in Mexico. This was my second year to go to Mexico. This year was different than the previous for many reasons. Even though our usual 'leaders' did not opt to come this time, even though we went on a completely different month than any of the nine years prior, even though we had so many fewer people, one thing stayed consistent – Shelly's love. The weeks prior to the trip Shelly was asking if she would get to see Altalia again; however, we were in a different part of the town this year, and she was unable to. Even a year later Shelly didn't forget that girl, and was anxious to meet her again and pray with her, and care for her, like she did the previous year. However, this year Shelly got to meet someone new, someone else whom she could help and pray for. We were located at a church called Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz, which means Baptist Church Prince of Peace. The day we passed out flyers was rainy and the streets were flooding. The neighborhood wasn't very big, but Shelly managed to pass out all of her flyers even with such a definite language barrier. The second day of VBS Shelly the rain had ceased a little which meant a few more kids had come than the day before, totaling about 20 kids). Shelly was inside playing with the kids and singing along to some of the songs, when she noticed a girl sitting in the corner. Shelly wanted to include everyone, so she went to get the girl and bring her into the crowd. When she got over to the little girl she noticed that it looked like something was wrong with her. Her mom was there and in her eyes she could tell that the mom was saying, 'she's sick, pray for her.' Shelly knelt on the ground right then, took the little girl's and the mother's hand and prayed. As Shelly prayed, the girl's mother prayed with her. And even though two different languages were being spoken, she knew that both prayers were the same. The Bible says that where two or more are gathered in God's name, He will be there. Shelly knew that God was there, transcending the languages and helping the little girl. Even though Shelly couldn't meet Altalia again, she had another experience that she will never forget.
Shelly's love is so raw, that everyone who comes around her can feel it, almost touch it. Like Nelson Mandela once said, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, it's that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in all. And as we let our own light shine we consciously give other people permission to do the same." Shelly has conquered the fear that Mandela proposes, and she lets her light shine. She is doing her best to break that chain reaction of evil. However, just one person's work will not do it. As this country grows, as the anger inside us grows the chain gets longer faster than Shelly can break the links. She will not stop trying. And we as Americans need to help her. We as humans need to help her. We need to break those links on the chain of evil. We must uphold the moral fabric and ethical integrity that is born inside of every human. We must allow goodness to overwhelm us. We must allow kindness to teem from the very root of our core. We must allow light to manifest itself in us so that even when we have a 'bad day' or a 'stressful time' we still have that light inside to show to the world. Not just in Shelly. Not just in some. In all. We must team up and break the chain reaction of evil. We must change the abyss into which we are currently being plunged. Because of Shelly's light, I believe in everyone. Because of Shelly's love, I believe in the future.
15 March 2009
The truth is that everyone has at least one thing they want to do; one thing they want to experience; one thing they have always wanted to try, just once. And most people don't end up doing it because they are in fear of sin, as they were taught in sunday. This feeling is absolutley common, and absolutely correct. Our life is filled with choices; choices we must make, and choices in which we must suffer the consequences (regardless of which decision you make). And those consequences make us feel guilt. That guilt can be that we feel guilty for the sin because we chose to succum to temptation, or guilt that we feel because we didn't do it - and we REALLY wanted to.
Sin is natural. Sin is bad. Sin is inevitable. After all, "To err is human, to forgive is divine." You know that saying, 'It will chew you up and spit you out?" This is not completely like sin. Sin will chew you up. But it will not spit you out. Your addiction to the sin will carry you farther than you ever intended to go. Sin will swallow you whole and resist every attempt to have you climb back out. It is your job to fight this sin. You must fight it. It is a never-ending battle; not just for you, but for all of mankind. The only thing that can truly save us is God, through his perpetual mercy.
For all we have, God has given us. However, for all we sin, it gets taken away. Until that one glorious moment in which we accept God, and his forgiveness. From the bowels of sin, from the depths of addiction, from the torture of pain, we must beseech God to forgive us and rise up from the ashes of what once was, as a Phoenix.
We are nothing, we have nothing, we know nothing; unless God is with us, and in us. Sin casts so great a shadow that God cannot be caught in its darkness. He can conquer - and is the only cure - for the blackness that it leaves in its wake.
Pray for forgivness. Ask for His mercy. And beseech God for His protection.
In His name. Pray. Amen.