Thursday, January 6, 2011

So wheres my parting sea?

I am at a place in my life right now where I find it difficult to complete a regimented bible reading plan or keep a consistent prayer time. I find it hard to do the same old same old when all I want is a drastic change in my circumstances. I feel like I am going throughout my day and fitting God into my schedule out of obligation more than out of passion. This has made me realize that just as in all relationships there is not a steady rise and fall to the passion of my and God's relationship. It is better compared to a rollercoaster with the steep rises and falls and unpredictably of where we will head to next. A few years ago I would describe our relationship as much more passionate and that we were 'closer.' But God is showing me that I am wrong in that assumption. Mother Theresa was called to work with poverty stricken children in a certain village but circumstances kept her from being allowed to help and she was trapped and on top of that she no longer 'heard' God in the way she had in earlier times. But this silence did not cause her faith to waiver and she waited patiently until the timing was right even though she was not given any inkling to when that would happen. I think we could all learn from Mother Theresa because we all have the tendency to get caught up in passion instead of realizing that the absence of passion can be one of Gods most powerful tools. He uses this silence to grow our faith and patience. I also believe we grow in wisdom more quickly because we are not caught up in the emotional ups and downs of the relationship but now have time to reflect on whats most important to us and what we have learned about God and about ourselves.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Big fat Baby Christian

I have spent a lot of time doing summer camps this summer and having a lot of fun sharing Jesus with the kids. I absolutely love to share my love for Christ with children because of the way they respond and try to comprehend God's grace. Its so much fun helping children understand that they need to make a descision to follow Christ for themselves and shouldnt just follow blindly.

Their lives should be changed from the inside out not the other way around.

The other morning I was thinking about a skit I saw at Camp K. The skit involved an adult man dressed up like a baby. He had some one else's hands as his and used his hands as feet. It was meant to be silly but yet thoughtprovoking and I believe it accomplished the task. I know it touched many of the adults lives along with the campers'. They showed how even adults can be fat baby Christians with little to no substance to their relationship with Christ. We need to learn and grow instead of staying at a comfortable 'baby' like phase.
After a few days I thought more on the message of the skit and how appropriate the analogy truly is. I majored in Human Development and Family Studies which means I learned a whole lot about the development of infants to adults. Infants are extremely dependent on their caretakers just as infant christians are extrememly dependent on their pastors and mentors to show them how to relate to God. Sadly enough there are lot of people (children and adults alike) that do not develop much further from this stage. These are people who attend church to get their fill but dont ever read the Bible for themselves or if asked a question regarding their faith they stumble over coming up with an answer.
Now as a human develops so does a christian. The next stage would be toddlerhood. Toddlers start to become independent (hence why they like to wander off or insist on buttoning their own shirt or pouring their own milk). Now this doesnt mean that toddlers are fully independent they still need caregivers but they are realizing the need to become independent. Toddler christians also realize they need to stand on their own faith instead of being led around by others' chrisitianity. These Christians are likely to start a reading plan or at least recognize the need to know the bible for themselves so they can give an account for what they believe in. Granted they wouldnt be perfect with their reading plan and are still pretty dependent on their mentors but at least they recognize they need to develop a relationship with Christ on their own accord. They are still pretty egocentric (self-centered)and dont like to share
The next phase would be young child. For a typical child this stage would be where they start to read and write. This is important for Chrisitians because now they are learning not only how to become independent but how to communicate effectively. Take note that they still require a mentor figure and peer relationships to help them grow.
Now as a child develops he/she becomes more independent but also learns to develop realtionships with others. Imagine a child in school who learns something and helps their friends with their homework. Childlike Chrisitans do not have any concern with how they look in other's eyes but concern themselves with sharing what they learn with as many others as possible. They are knowledgeable of the bible but are always ready and open to learn something new. They recognize that their relationship with God is essential to their day to day living. They devote themselves to learning more and growing in their relationship with God.
Whats amazing in my mind is this Childlike Christianity is exactly where God wants us to be. There are numerous references to the idea of us being like children. I believe that this is not a ploy to stunt our growth but instead a way to show us we need the mindset of children. Children are not concerned with the perils of this world, they have imagination and faith that is uncomparable. Also even though they have faults and can be selfish at times, they also can be some of the most selfless people on this planet. So why not take lessons from children just as long we dont get stuck as infants.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Tree of Life

I have been working at a Day Camp over the past few weeks and the director of the day camp leads a short devotional every morning. She had brought up something this past week that completely floored me. I would love to share her thoughts and also add some of my own. In Genensis we learn about how the universe was created and how man and woman were made and then placed in the Garden of Eden. They were told not to eat of two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. We all know how the story goes and eventually they ate from the tree of knowledge. They ate of this tree not as a way to go against God. They werent rebelling. If you remember Satan decieved Eve by telling her that she would become like God if she were to eat the tree. That is partially what happened, they now knew good and they knew evil but that was only partially what God is. He is also eternal. When God sent Adam and Eve from the garden. It wasnt a punishment as most of us think. It was for humanity's protection. That is not to say that it wasnt a direct consequence for their choice but it wasnt that God wanted them to be far away from them as possible, actually its quite the opposite, He wants to be as near to us. He sent us away from the garden because He knew that if we ate from both trees that we would not only know good and know evil but they would live eternally seperated from Him if they ate of the tree of life. SO to spare us from that fate he seperated us from the tree and had it guarded so we could not eat of it. So now we all know about good and evil and are born with the sin nature but God made a way for us to experience eternal life through our Savior, Jesus Christ. As mentioned in an earlier post, Jesus was the Word of God but in the flesh. The Word of the God brought forth the law and the condemnation for disobeying the law; which then showed us that we were incapable of fulfilling the law we needed a bridge to the gap - which was the Word in the flesh. The law was fulfilled and the debt was paid. Through one man sin entered the world and by God's grace through one man sin was redeemed (read Romans 5:12-15). What I find amazing about all of this is that God created the tree of life in the beginning Genesis 2:8 ) and it is also talked about in the last book as well. Revelations 22 and Revelations 2:7 talks about those who will be able to partake of the tree of life. Christ has renewed our standing with God and we have regained access to the tree of life so we can spend an eternity in His presence without any spot or stain.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Loophole in God’s design

Right now its about 2 am and I have been thinking about some conversations I have over the past few months. I am trying to gather my thoughts and figure out what I want to say and how to get my point across. I have been thinking a lot about the entirety of Jesus’ purpose here on earth as well as his existence prior to his human form we have come to love. John 1:1 says that the word was God and was with God and the word became flesh. This verse sums up Christ in a sentence. In the beginning the man jesus that died on the cross didn’t fully exist he wasn’t a son with his proud papa when God first spoke the earth into existence – He in fact was that word. He was what created the light and the sun and the stars and ultimately us – humans. He was the word. He was the Law. He was everything God was passionate about he was His heart and soul.
I find it similar to an artist who is watching all of his paintings burn to the ground. As he sees the smoke rise a piece of him dies with those paintings. Those paintings in essence were who he or she was. Or a professor with his life’s work of research. Or maybe even a father who spends every ounce of his energy in his one and only son. Jesus was more than a son – He was the essence of God. He was in fact God in the flesh. Which brings me to my next point. Because God created the law to be broken. Like that phrase all rules are meant to be broken. I firmly believe that the Law of the covenant was in fact set in place to be broken. Not to set us up for failure but to show us our inadequacies. To show us we need God more than we had realized. My high school physics teacher gave us an impossible physics quiz during our first class partially to scare us but mostly to show us how much we had yet to learn. We all failed that quiz the first day but he gave us the quiz at the end of our year and most (I’m sorry to say not all) passed it easily.
God made the law to show us how far we could come I we learned the truth. And the truth will set us free. The truth is that we cannot fulfill the law but God found a loophole in his own design. Imagine that finding a loophole in your own work, unless he had the loophole in place from the very beginning. In the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God …then the word became flesh. This flesh encompassed God, Jesus, had the capacity for sin because he was fully human but was also completely incapable of sin because he was fully God. He could be both because humans were created by Gods own image with His own breath and power so in actuality we are all also in essence God in flesh but we are not fully God as Jesus was because we have the capacity of sin – which then separates us from God. Jesus was never separated from God not until he took on sin.
People have this image of Satan gleaming in victory at the sight of Jesus dead on the cross but I believe he had quite the opposite reaction. Jesus death didn’t have to be torturous and didn’t have to be at the hands of men to fulfill the law. Satan used both the torture and the scoffing of the very people he came to save as a last temptation to deny his human self and become only God to escape the physical and emotional pain and thus failing at fulfilling the law. The moment Jesus died was the moment we became free and the moment Satan lost. A human fulfilled the law with absolutely not one blemish. Jesus always had the power to raise from the dead he had the power to come off that cross but He had to die a human death to fulfill his purpose and that’s exactly what he did. All for our sake.

Under the wings of an eagle

This morning I had the pleasure of witnessing a robin protect its nest. It was male from what I understand of the bird species and this bird built a nest literally inches away from my living room window in the awning right above our driveway. We get birds often and they sort of become a nuisance more than anything but it is still fun to watch and be a part of the whole process. Today was especially intriguing because today we had thunderstorms and even hail for a short while. I watched as this bird sat in the nest protecting its offspring from the harmful elements. Then later that night as I laid in bed thinking about the event I realized how we are compared to offspring of God and rest safely nestled under His wing. I thought about how oblivious those tiny birds must be all they are seeing is their father’s feathers. I then thought about how many times we are completely oblivious to what God is protecting us from often times all we see is the big bad scary storm and we scream for help and protection but during the times he has been sitting on us all along and we had no idea what harm we could have actually been in we take no consideration to what He has done for us. I am not going to go into what I think God’s intentions are for allowing us to weather some storms and then protect us from others we are completely unaware of. It could be because we need to grow in faith and learn to trust it could be because we need to learn and grow from the hard times, those times might make us stronger so we are able to face the next ones with better understanding. Someone once told me that Jesus is committed to our character development more than relief from our circumstance. Only God know the full intentions of God but I do know one thing for certain and that is His intention above all others is love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

God is NOT a matchmaker

This has been something I have been thinking about over the past few months and since I sort of feel like I have to play catch up on everything going on in the past few months I felt like I should share. I was taking a shower - which is usually guaranteed quiet time with God - no interruptions and nothing to be distracted by. I was thinking about how I pictured God working in my life in regards to my relationships - or lack thereof. I have never really been in any dating relationship and have not felt like I missed much either. Don't get me wrong I have had a spirit of loneliness looming over my shoulder. I know what it feels like to be feel worthless and rejected but that is nothing compared to the love and attention I receive from Jesus Christ himself. As I said before I am definitely not one to share my personal life even with close friends I find myself choking on my words. As I am learning to put myself out there - even if right now this feels like I am typing a diary only to be seen by me, I have learned I need to share ALL that God is doing in my life and this is part of it. So back to being pursued by my Savior. A few years ago I was in Gods presence and had one of those God moments that changes you life forever. I was laying on my back and in perfect peace when I had a vision. I probably had visions before but this is one of the first visions I recognized as being from God right away. So when I saw myself on a cliffside overlooking the ocean I was a bit confused as to how to respond. Should I continue watching? Should I treat this as a dream? should I wake up to reality? I decided to keep watching. As I walked closer to myself I noticed I was crying. Well, sobbing I guess would be better way to describe it. I had my head buried between my knees as I clasped both shins with my arms. I could tell I was miserable but didn't understand why until a man approached me from behind and right away I recognized it as Jesus. I could not tell you facial features or describe a physical appearance to you but I knew His Spirit no matter what he looked like on the outside I knew what His heart looked like. As He approached He lovingly put his hand on my shoulder and knelt down to where I was sitting in a ball. His face was right next to mine as He quietly asked "What's wrong?"; even though I knew He already knew. I looked over at Him as if I had seen Him thousands of time before and simply stated "Its not fair....Its not fair I am here alone once again. Whats the point if I do not have anyone to share this with. I want to be held by a real person - someone I can see, hear and feel on a regular basis." I would have continued my little rant further but it was then I realized that I was not the only one sobbing. I looked up and saw tears starting to form in my Jesus' eyes. I gasped for a breath of air as I realized I just broke my Savior's heart. Then it was my turn to ask "What's wrong" although I already knew the answer. I knew that Jesus had been everything I needed from this life and more and that I was taking Him for granted. Yet He took me off guard when He responded "Honestly, I am not ready for you to be in love with anyone else." I had to gasp for another breath. It hit me all at once it was not about me - it was about Him. He was jealous for me. He wanted me all to himself. That answer was better than anything I could have known. I was the apple of His eye so to speak and nothing could have compared to how I felt. I was overwhelmed and when He continued with a question that I have had to answer every single day since I barely could even speak. He asked Can you wait until I am ready? He could barely ask the question. The moment was so intimate that its hard to put it into words. To finish the story, I managed to quietly answer Yes. As I said before i have had to remind myself and answer that question everyday since. This brings me to the point. God is NOT a matchmaker. He loves to watch those he loves fall in love but he is not some old lady like from Mulan or the fiddler on the roof who takes status and money and power or even personality into account to make a match. He plays more of Will Smith's character Hitch type of role. He creates opportunities, He gives us the pat on the back, maybe even tips or pointers on how to relate to the other person but He is by now means some stranger that looks at the characteristics of each of us and puts us together like barbie and ken dolls. If He did, His church would not have the same divorce rate as everyone else. If all relationships were completely controlled by God then all relationships would be perfect. God isn't a puppeteer, He is a father. Whether or not we take His advice or whether or not we even ask for it is up to us. There is no reason not to ask Him because who better to ask how to relate to our significant other than the One who not only knows them better than they know themselves but also know us but than we know ourselves. He loves us more than we could ever comprehend and although every single relationship has its downfalls He truly wants us to be happy. With all of this said, He will do whatever it takes to keep us in a good and healthy relationship but if we ignore Him and if He is not the center of that relationship we are not giving him much room to work. I may or may not be ready for a relationship but what I have realized is that it isn't about me - its about Him. The question is Is He ready for me to be in a relationship? I have complete faith that when He is I would be the first to know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Time with God

Yesterday morning I was in a waking up phase and decided to ask God something. I asked Him what does time with Him look like, what is the formula to setting time aside for Him? What should I be doing differently if anything at all. I am starting to realize that spending time with Him does not look the same for everyone. There is no formula, no right way to do it. When someone decides on a specific hour to spend with God they are either showing their dedication to their relationship with Him or succumbing to a superstitious assumption about how their relationship with God should work. For some people it as just as bad as an athlete wearing the same dirty sock to every game or a fan wearing the same jersey while watching a football game. I think that some people think that if they don't spend time with God for that hour then their entire day is ruined that without without their hour then they will lose touch with God. I actually agree to some degree. Just as when you don't spend time with a friend, or a sibling or any loved one, when you don't spend time with God you can and will loose touch with Him. But why an hour? why not 5 20 min intervals? Why not 45 mins? I know that all of this seems petty and like I am picking out little things to argue with but I feel that I need to work through it so here it goes:

On one end there are those of us who need an hour at the beginning of each day to set our minds on Christ. If we don't schedule in an hour each day it wont happen because of all we have to do each day, God may get put on the back burner. Then there are those of us who may fall into a religious routine. A routine that is hard to escape from because just as an athlete may not want to wear a different sock some people get so accustomed to one set of ideas that they do not want to change out of fear. Now with that said I do not under any circumstance believe that people should ignore God or ignore a need to set times specifically for Him. However, God is a God of the unexpected so we cannot put him in a box of an hour but we cannot ignore that hour either. This is where my predicament comes in. If I am supposed to set a specific amount of time for God each day and I am also supposed to not get into a religious routine then what in the world am I supposed to do?

I wish I had some profound answer but I don't. All I can gather is that I cannot do anything without God. Also that my relationship with God does not look like anyone else's relationship with Him. So if someone else spends an hour each day reading the Bible and follows a certain routine with God's grace then so be it. If someone else spends an hour here and an hour there at different times throughout the week by God's grace then so be it. If I don't have a specific hour and by God's grace I find multiple times throughout my day to remind me of what God has done then so be it. The problem I find is when I decide I dont need to read my Bible because I can worship Him without it or when I feel I am OK without reflecting on what God did for me on any given day. Anytime I take it upon myself to judge where I stand with God is the day I am at fault and the mindset I need to change. I know when I should be doing something else. I know when I need to use scripture to figure out what to do next. I know when I need to praise and thank God for what He has done. I know when I should cry out to Him. I know when I should spend time in His presence. The problem becomes when I think I know I have had enough, that I am OK without it. The Holy Spirit is extremely active and when we allow Him He will lead and guide us a to a deep and fulfilling relationship with God that will not look like any other relationship with Him. We all can understand the power of prayer, the need for scripture, a call to worship but we will never understand someone else's relationship with Him. So basing our relationship off of others will never work. Asking for guidance by someone else who has been through it will never hurt but if all we ever do is do what everyone else is doing and never experiment on our own and learn from our own mistakes then how much can our relationship with God grow?