Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Not only are people quick to claim sin on things that are, at best, based upon motives, but also on the circumstances people are faced with. This is evident in the way Job's friends talked to him. Although what they spoke of concerning God is true, the fact that they assumed that Job's problems were the result of some sin he had committed echos in everyday life even today. I can still remember when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I remember hearing certain people express their opinion that the city was flooded because of how "morally corrupt" the city was. To that I ask, then how are some of our most corrupt politicians having no trouble in their lives, and how are some of the most righteous people suffering through all kinds of troubles, struggling just to get by with the day-to-day, and surviving on little hope.
I know that sometimes the things we do can lead to us getting into a sludge we have a hard time getting pulled out of, but the truth is, if we are going to label neutral things as being a "slippery slope" to sin, then maybe we should just say everything can lead to sin. Going to church can lead to sin, because we will become complacent, legalistic, and judgmental toward others. Sleeping can lead to sin, because if we enjoy sleeping too much we will become lazy and not work the way we should. Talking can lead to sin, because we will curse our neighbors and tear them down with our words. I know this is an exaggeration to some degree, but I hope I'm making my point clear.
I am not mad, it just seems a little silly to be so quick to call something as if everything is black and white. However, I've found that most things are definitely not black or white, because there is always more to the story than what our own perspectives lend us. So, I think we need to stop being so overcautious and get out there and try. How are we to reach people, when all we do is hole ourselves up in our churches and try avoiding looking at someone funny so that we don't offend someone and then cause them to sin.
Again, I am exaggerating. It is simply food for thought.
Grace and Peace
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
OK, so that is merely an accumulation of what I've seen. So, technically, that's not the definite end result. However, it is common enough to see that I think many who read this could think of someone they know who has lost hope. I've even been down the path of lost hope multiple times myself, but I'm beginning to see that when I lose hope I'm just wasting my life. I become apathetic, lazy, lethargic, angsty, etc., and it's just not worth it. It's not healthy for either myself or those around me, and it certainly isn't me having a fun or fulfilling life.
I know, life isn't all about how much fun you can have, but I have to say, even when life hits you hard, you can still have hope and enjoy life. This is why I will never understand how people can live without Christ, because even when there seems to be no hope, I can always count on Him. Without hope I wouldn't even want to live, as I am sure many others feel the same.
Being hopeless is so sad to me. Without hope of anything, you will ask what's the point of trying? A big example would be the job market today. It is really tough to find a job, but the fact of the matter is, there are jobs that are available, you just have to work at finding them. However if you are hopeless, then what would be the point of looking for a job if they are just going to turn you down anyway? I know I've had thoughts like that. It took all last week to work me out of that too. I applied to over thirty jobs and I've still only had one potential job come up. I hope that I get it, because I think I would do good at it, and because I need a way to provide for my family. If I didn't have hope in something, I probably would have given up a long time ago.
The truth is, I've seen a lot of people without hope recently, and it is very discouraging on me emotionally, and very unhealthy for me spiritually. Being here at Toccoa, I've realized with sadness, is stifling my relationship with God. It's like being part of the seed that fell on thorny ground. This place is so spiritually oppressed it's scary how you can forget it's there. So, even though I don't really want to move, having an opportunity to be around people who will help me in my growth will be very good for me. Truly, I will miss my friends, and my ability to see them almost daily if we so choose, but it is time to move on I guess. Time to enter another chapter of a story that is my life. I only hope it is one that people will find worth reading.
Grace and Peace
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I've had a couple of troubling thoughts as of late, and I don't really know where to go with them. Should I accept them as definite possibilities? Or perhaps, is it a lack of trust in my provider? I doubt that it is the latter, but still it is a question I ask myself.
I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. Every story has to have it's peaks and valleys, and every character has to lose something in order to gain something better. I suppose that is where I am at in my story. Just trying to make it through the night so that in the morning I can find that my hope isn't something shallow, but something beautiful, real, and exciting. I know that I'll come through this... I guess I'm just ready for a few happy endings this week, cause honestly, it's been a rough ride these past couple of weeks.
Keep me in your prayers.
Still looking for a job.
Grace and Peace
Monday, June 21, 2010
Today, June 20th, my wife and I celebrated our first year of life together as a married couple. It has been a great first year. So many people say that the first year is the worst, but I am beginning to see that it really just depends on the couple. Of course, that being said, I wonder how I will feel about it when June 20, 2011 comes rolling around. Either way, I can firmly say that I would not ever take the decision back. It's been a wonderful time of growth in my life.
Speaking of which, it seems time has been traveling faster than I want it to (as usual). The fact that it has already been a year is astounding to me, especially when I can still remember the day of our wedding like it occurred yesterday. Within the year I have had my best friend become a father... a very proud father I might add, I've seen his wedding (which occurred before the fatherhood), I've had a friend become engaged to the girl of his dreams, and I've had another friend recently learn that he was going to be a father. All within the year, and it has been a very good year. Truthfully speaking this year hasn't been all rainbows and chocobos, it has had its points in the valley too.
The most notable valley I have encountered would be the loss of my job in May. Although, I do not wish I was still working there, and I have nothing against the job, I have found it incredibly tough to find a job. I have applied to probably around 50 jobs in the past 4 weeks and I have only heard back from one organization. Unfortunately, I was not a good fit for their organization and out of respect I turned down the job offer. So the hunt is back on starting Monday. I guess it's time to try a different tactic. However, what is the use of dwelling on the negative?
Also, though I know many will not read this, I would like to wish all those out there who are fathers a wonderful Father's Day to you. I have great respect for my father, and have learned many things from him during my time as his son. I would not ask for another father despite the mountainous journey we have had during the earlier stages of my life. Still, just as with my mother, I value his advice, his counsel, and of course his presence. I love my family and would do anything for them.
I guess that's all I got to say. Thanks for staying faithful readers. If you know of any jobs available leave a comment. I'm getting pretty desperate :)
Sunday, April 25, 2010
In my life story, I have hit a major hitch of resistance. I do not know if I would call my story great, but I hope that by the end of it all people can say that I lived a great story. I've always felt that God wanted me to have something to do with full time ministry, but as of today I have been officially fired from every single ministry job I've ever had. The resistance (or is it?)
Is it possible that I have misinterpreted what I have felt to be God's guidance for me for multiple years? Surely, God would have corrected that path if it were true. Ah, but what about how I interpret the meaning of the guidance? That is much more likely. Because the truth is, there are so many ways to be involved in ministry, and only a handful require being hired by the church.
There is something, however, that I feel is rather clear. He wants me to write. I started a story quite a while back (well, truth be told, I've started a lot of stories), and I really think He wants me to finish it. After all, He was the one that told me to start writing it in the first place, so I guess it makes sense.
Maybe rather than a resistant force, this is what is called the inciting incident. The event that forces the character through a door or down a path through which he cannot return. Perhaps, this event will lead to something much greater than I could ever anticipate. Who knows? And so, I wash my hands of this whole mess. I can't let the resistance limit me, but I can allow the experience to grow me.
I think for now, I will be on a hiatus from church work. It obviously isn't the way to go at the moment.
Grace and Peace
P.S. Birthday went well. Really uneventful, but I guess in a lot of cases that is a good thing.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The son of God, born unto a virgin name Mary; such humble beginnings for a man who would become the Savior of our very souls. God incarnate, Christ came to save the world so that anyone who believed in Him would be given eternal life (John 3:16). Most people know about this Christ, but was that the only thing He came to do? If it is, then why spend three additional years teaching truths and healing? What was Christ's mission? There are so many questions concerning Christ, I doubt I could adequately answer a few, much less the many surrounding my mind.
I believe that Christ came to redeem culture. The very fact that he sacrificed His own life to give us an opportunity to spend an eternity as co-heirs with him in heaven is a very strong evidence of that. I find it very difficult to believe that Christ completely rejected the culture He was in, especially when He would spend time teaching on that very culture and how those who follow God should act within said culture. He wanted to reshape the culture, not create something entirely new. Jesus himself stated:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished”
(Matthew 5:17-18 ESV).
What does the law have to do with culture you may ask? Everything. It is just as much an intergral part of culture as the stories we tell, or the music we create. I firmly believe that when God gave the law to Moses, He was creating a culture; one that was built around worshipping Him, and honoring Him the only way the Israelites would have known how at the time. Here in Matthew 5, we see that Jesus is taking that very same law that has been with the Jews for thousands of years and revealing more about it. He is reminding them, and perhaps even revealing a new aspect about God and what He meant when He gave them their law. Jesus begins a new era of how we understand who God is.
I don't want to leave the impression that Christ accepted and condoned everything about the culture He was in. On the contrary, there are many places where Jesus points out that what is being done is wrong. There is plenty of evidence of this in Matthew 5, where He speaks against murder, against adultery, against divorce, and many other things (ESV). In fact, divorce was all too common during the time Jesus taught. The Jews believed they could divorce their wife for just about any reason, as long as it was a cause for the man to find his wife unpleasing; for instance, if she burnt a meal. It would be easiest to say that Jesus turned the way people understood God upside-down and it presented many with the opportunity to truly understand God. Eventually, Christ would present before many that it is not so much the letter of the law that is important, but how we choose to honor the heavenly Father that matters. Ultimately, I believe that Christ wanted to bring us back to God, to the point where we could walk daily with Him, a return to Eden.
Many have called Christ the “second Adam”, and I can understand why. In scripture, there is a recording of both Adam and Jesus being tempted; the first failed, the second overcame. In this overcoming, Jesus was able to present to humanity and to God that perfection is achievable, and it was only because Christ overcame that He would be able to be the conduit in which humanity would be saved from its sin. Thus, allowing the opportunity to renew the relationship that was severed so many years prior. Perhaps, that is where the true culture of any believer takes place, within the relationship with the Creator; and if what God really wants is to bring us back to Him, why not do so through a beautiful story of sacrifice, love, and redemption? I really do believe that Christ did not want to demolish our culture, but rather give it a jump start, a “rebirth” of sorts to bring us back into that relationship found in Eden.
What does that mean for us in the here and now then? What can we learn from Christ and His disciples? I leave that up to you to decide.
Grace and Peace
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Progressing from Genesis, one will find there are many verses about speech within Psalms. Verses that tell believers that their words should be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14). In fact, Psalm 34:12-13 says this, “What man is there who desires life and love many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” (ESV). Who would have thought that the way we communicate could impact our way of life? It is obvious that God wants us to be careful with what we say, and when we say it; if He did not care what we communicated then much of scripture would not be necessary.
Proverbs also has a fair share of verses concerning our speech and actions. In Proverbs we learn that God hates perverted speech (Proverbs 8:13), that our words can bring healing or it can stir up problems (Proverbs 15:4), and perhaps the most well known passage is the one that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). If one were to study the chapters of proverbs it would become apparent very quickly that God will honor certain types of speech, and that others are sinful. One would also discover that speaking whatever comes to mind is not the wisest thing to do. In fact, it would be wiser to not speak at all then to speak without putting thought behind what is being said. That is the very thought that is brought before the reader in Ecclesiastes 5:2-4, which states:
“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow” (ESV).
I truly hope that the reader is beginning to see just how potent our words are, be they for good or for ill. We should certainly strive to be true to our word and do what we say, but we should also be careful in what we say so that we may not regret anything. For even Christ told us to let our “yes” mean yes, and our “no” mean no (Matthew 5:37 NIV).
There is one final passage that I would like to look at before moving on to who Christ really was so that we may have a fuller understanding of what the question of Christ and culture really is. The passage is in James 3:
“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (James 3:8-12 ESV).
This passage is at the core of what James teaches about our words. Before this passage he compares the tongue to the bridle in a horses mouth, and a rudder to a large ship, stating that just as something so small and simple can guide the direction of an animal or large ship, so too can the tongue impact the way life goes. James even goes as far as to say that the tongue is much like a small spark of flame that can easily burn an entire forest to the ground if not kept in check (James 3:3-6).
This passage speaks out to me more than any of the other ones that I have presented thus far because it is perhaps the most direct passage, and I have frequently found this passage to be true of me, for though I love God, I do not always show it through my words and actions. This passage serves as a reminder to me, and I hope to all Christians, that we must be extremely careful with what we say because people are watching and listening all the time. That is why when Christians cry out against movies like The Golden Compass or books such as Harry Potter we are watched carefully and judged harshly. Indeed, there are times when I wish to not associate myself with Christianity because, for many people, it brings to many negative assumptions about who I am, and thus hurts my ability to share what is truly important, the love of Christ. Which brings us to the next point: Who was Christ?
Again, more thoughts to come as I continue the paper. Feel free to give your input, I'm just flushing out thoughts.
Grace and Peace.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
What exactly is culture, and how does it take form? It is important to have an understanding of what culture is in order to adequately answer the question of Christ and culture. Culture, in the most practical application of the word, is the expression of beliefs, values, and ethics of people groups, or societies. This expression becomes visible in a plethora of ways ranging from art and music, to the writings or stories, and even to the very way the people act with each other within their group or society. With the many varieties of cultures that any one person can experience within their lifetime it is easy to see that there are many approaches to any one problem, and as a result many answers. Culture is such an integral part of the human life that I would argue it is impossible to act outside of the culture one is in without creating some type of side culture; it is as if it is a part of who we are. Indeed, many would say that our culture is what shapes us into the people we will become, and are. Thus, as culture changes, so too do those who are immersed within it.
How is culture formed? I believe it is formed through our words and the actions that follow them. An example of this would be whenever there was a major shift in the eras of human history (Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, etc.) they are started by words first, be it written or vocalized, and then actions followed through. For instance, the act that really lead to the reformation for many people was Martin Luther's posting of the ninety-five theses. To put it simply, I believe words can create and shape culture. This is why it is so important for Christians to understand what scripture teaches on communication, for it is through our communication (and not just in words) that we can shape and create culture around ourselves. In fact, there is already different forms of what we call Christian culture, and sadly, many of them I find to be a poor representation of what Christ wanted of His church. What is worse, some even hinder the furthering of the Gospel. It is with this understanding that our words are much more potent than many realize that I seek the answer to the question: What does scripture teach about communication?
More to come as the paper progresses. Grace and Peace
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Was Christ For or Against Culture?
All throughout Scripture we can see that God likes to work with what is already in existence to do the things He wants to get done. For example, Jesus taught the law that the Jews knew so well. To be more specific He taught the law that God gave and not the other "interpretations" of the law that came later. Rather than creating something new from nothing, Jesus refined the understanding of the law, which in turned had a new affect. So, my first argument is that Christ is for culture. The reason I say this is because if Christ, who is God, was against culture, why would God create a law in the first place? The very essence of the law creates a culture. Why wear the same clothes, and speak the same language? I guess what I'm really trying to say is that Christ seemed to want to redeem and refine the culture that was already in lace. He saw the potential that each disciple had, that each person has, and decided we were all worth the love he gave and the blood he shed.
Christ clarified the law. As stated in Scripture He did not come to "abolish the law, but to fulfill it". Again I argue that God's law created a culture. By the time Christ was born on Earth, however, that culture has become corrupted many times over. Jesus' teachings were meant to bring people back to the culture that God had established, but with a different look. Before this point there is no understanding of what God really wants when He gives us the law, because the people weren't ready; but Jesus refines the understanding here by clarifying what is meant and explaining (perhaps subtly) what the "spirit" of the law was.
If Christ was against culture, then shouldn't His disciples also be against culture? Then why did Paul choose to become "all things, to all men, that I might save some"? Surely the implications of being part of their culture in order to relate can be found in this verse. Or what of the Gentiles Paul talked to, were they supposed to reject culture? No. the only way for Christians to escape culture is to confine themselves away from everyone else (which is horribly unhealthy).
Despite how much a part of culture Christ was, there were aspects that He openly disagreed with and purposefully chose not to practice. All of which were things that were seen as unpleasing and sinful in God's sight. His disciples evidenced this aspect in their own life as well, and we as followers of Christ should also exhibit this behavior.
In conclusion: Christ did not aim to replace the culture He was in, but rather, He aimed to redeem and refine it to what it was originally planned to be. He became the catalyst to set that refinement in motion.
So the question then is, How should we react?
More thoughts to come after the break.
Friday, March 26, 2010
This month has been super tight with money. I have had a large unexpected utilities bill to pay (close to $300) and it definitely made getting other things we need very difficult to buy. On top of that, just a couple of days ago our fridge decided it wanted to stop producing cold air. So I food slowly spoiled over the following two days until we got a new fridge. To explain that: I did call the landlord as soon as I figured out what was going on, he took a look at it and called an appliance repair place who in turn was supposed to call me at some point later that day or the next. That person never called me, so the landlord decided to take one of the fridges from a different apartment and replace it with our broken one after making sure it worked. I am thankful that God has been providing in that way.
On the side of work I don't suppose there is a whole lot to say. I was a little frustrated last Wednesday when I was suddenly informed that I only had 10 minutes to teach a lesson that I had planned on using at least 20 for. It was a little rough to say the least. However, my grumpiness toward different individuals was my fault, and God was quick to remind me that everything is according to what He wants and not what I want. Got a meeting with a couple of people who are willing to work with the youth with me. I'm thinking I'll just have us meet Saturday after practice if all goes well. Praise God for His willingness to provide in that situation as well. Which reminds me, the choir is doing their Easter cantata called "The Way, The Truth, and The Life". They have worked hard on it, but I don't think that they will sing the way I want them to as well as they did during Christmas. However, that is OK because I know that their hearts are in the right place and the church will enjoy listening to the choir, and hopefully (and more importantly), people will be able to worship with us.
There is a song in the cantata called "What Wondrous Love". I feel like it brings the rest of the cantata together. When I listen to it I get shivers all over, and I am reminded of just how much God loves me and takes care of me. And that has been something that has proven to be a constant over the past year is just that God isn't going to allow me to just drop off the face of the earth. He will carry me when the times are hardest, and let me run around and play when the times are easy, but during either time His ever loving watchful eye is over me, as if He has some massive plan for me that I still don't know about.
I can't even figure out what I really want to do.
Ah well, such is the way of life. I guess this was a pretty decent update.
Grace and Peace
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
I believe the reason it has seemed so stark a realization today is because of the fact that it's been nearly a full week since I had anyone come over to my apartment. For some, this is a grand thing, and they wished it happened more often; however, for me, it is one of the worst experiences I could have. I don't think people really understand exactly how much being able to host visits, and feed friends, etc., feeds into my very being. Being denied such acts of hospitality is like closing an important valve for a water supply, or stepping onto someone's air hose while they are trying to breathe; it is suffocating.
Now I'm not writing this to make my friends feel guilty, in fact the whole reason I'm avoiding posting this elsewhere is because I know that few if any of my friends will read this blog. I just needed to write out my thoughts.
I guess that's all
Grace and Peace
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In a nutshell:
My wife is unable to attend school this semester. We just cannot afford it. I still believe that God will get her back into school, however, I am also resigned to the fact that it may not be this semester. But we were able to get her into a free class because I'm a full time student, which is a good thing. There are other things that I want to worry about, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not in control, and even if I was the things I want to control I would have no control over.
I'm also dealing with the fact that the check I sent for rent this month hasn't seemed to reach the people I sent it to. I've gotten two calls now that said they haven't seen/received/found it, and so now I need to call them personally to see what I need to do. Because I did actually send it before the due date and it was supposed to get there on the second.
However, there is good news. God loves me and His grace is more than sufficient for me. I have a place that I can call home, I have decent stuff, I have a beautiful wife who loves and cherishes me even though I can act like a stupid head sometimes, and I even have friends. I'm supposed to graduate this semester too, so that is good as well!
I've started teaching the kids about the beatitudes and what they really mean. It's been a really interesting study so far, but then, this is only the second week of eight (because there are 8 sayings). However, I think God will use it.
I hope my wife starts feeling better, she and a couple of my friends just don't feel well.