Saturday, February 5, 2011

This faith of ours

This faith of ours is quite simple.

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your hear. You shall teach them diligently to your songs and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NASB

"The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31
I think of another blog that I recently read. In one of the posts there is a little girl, under 10 years old and she is writing a letter to a girl her family supports in Guatemala. In this letter, out of all the things a youngster could possibly write, she writes "God is with you". Such wise and yet simple words that come from the mind of a young girl. It absolutely blew me away.

I know as much as the next guy that this may seem simple but it seems really hard. Is it though? Is it really so hard to yearn after God? To search for Him? To love others as ourselves? Or ... is it really hard shaking free of the lies and sinful practices of this world? I think that is where the answer lies. Many of us are trapped within a web of lies, perpetuated constantly by the world. Temptations bombard us at every street corner, in every relationship ... in the very fabric of our culture. We are walking through a warzone where unexpected things happen at every turn. Bombs are exploding, debris is falling, chaos is everywhere. And where do we find strength and protection? Too often in ourselves. I know I have. In  the midst of the smoke, the chaos, the exploding artillery shells, horrific happenings ... one man stands tall. His face and cloak shine and the destruction happening all around disintegrates when touched by His glory. He is reaching out His hand calling to us to grab on and hold on! Yet so often I find myself saying no. I may convince myself and others that I am but I soon realize when the facade is stripped away that I didn't. When we do grab on, God isn't going to shield us from the world. If He were to do that, then where would our testimony be? Who would we bring the gospel to? We're not withdrawn from the battle zone, just given a new mission.

February 5, 2011

The weekend so far, has been quite an experience for me... and I'm only on the second day of it. I've been on a journey of self-discovery, more appropriately called "God-discovery", for the past few weeks as I begin to realize that myself and the life I've lived hasn't been all scotch and chocolate. I've begun to realize that the life I've had personally, choices I've made, actions I've done, etc. has been filled with a lot of lies that I've believed for a long time. First off ... I live to bring glory and honor to God, not myself. Whenever I try to make myself more important, I always end up making a fool of myself .. huh funny how that works. :) Funny story: last month (I play monthly in our coop worship band that meets once a month) for worship I went to practice. Everything went fine the day of, we were sounding great, my guitar was in tune, everything was pretty good. Anyways, immediately after we played the ice breaker/opening game we went into worship. I got up on stage with the other worship team members and started playing ... bad news, my guitar somehow was horribly out of tune. I smiled and laughed it off and attempted to tune it on stage by myself by ear. Didn't work. I then tried tuning it quickly to the piano player. Thought I got it right but when I started playing once more, it still was really out of tune and so I just started playing ... thinking that it was worship ... It was about the heart and worshiping God not me and my playing ability. ANYWAYS ... I got halfway through the first song when one of the adult leaders comes up on stage, during worship, and asks me if there is any other guitar I can play with since mine sounds really bad. Luckily my friend had another guitar and so I switched to that and the service went great from there. Needless to say, I was utterly humiliated. Now this month. My guitar was fine for practice, the adult worship supervisor asked if my guitar was going to be fine this month and I confidently replied that it would be. During the games and intro, I even checked it 5 different times just to make sure. I wasn't going to have a repeat performance of last month. We start worship and wouldn't you know it my guitar wasn't in tune. Not as badly as last time but still not pretty. I didn't make eye contact with anybody in the audience, especially my other band members or the adult supervisor. I played through and it sounded ok but definitely off key. Well lets just say I was about ready to smash my guitar afterwards. Then I realized something. I asked God why this had happened, seemingly thinking He had something to do with it. The answer was in my motives. I realized that, due to a few other factors, I was trying my darnedest to look cool while on the worship band. I felt that I needed to show that I could hold my own at something (guitar) since many of my friends played guitar better than I. I wanted to impress people. My motives for worshiping and playing weren't right and so God completely humbled me. Now I think now that it was the heat that kept getting my guitar out of tune rather than God supernaturally untuning it but I can't help but think He had some part in allowing it to happen ... after all ... God knows all, sees all and plans all. He can use any circumstance for His purpose. Just another revelation that God's given me in recent days.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Love of God

If you look at any of the main deceptions that Satan uses today to pull people away from God (aka other religions), you notice one kinda huge difference ... God actually loves His creation. He doesn't just rule over it or tolerates it but actually genuinely cares for it. For us!
It reminds me of the lyrics to a song by Downhere

How many Kings

"Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me."

I've been thinking a lot about this after reading the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. God doesn't just make do with us ... He created us and "it was good". Now since then we've obviously lost our luster as we have spat in His face and rebelled at every turn in the road but still He loves us. In the third book, one of the characters is a German warrior, very much into honor, courage, battle, etc. Another character, a devote Christian young woman, is trying to explain her faith to this "savage". Atretes, the German, laughs at God, viewing Him as a weakling because He gave up His throne, His power, allowed Himself to die a criminal's death, and doesn't always save the lives of His followers if it is their time to die. Thinking about this, I began to realize that in our human mindset, that can be viewed as weakness but in light of Who God is and what He can do, it is strength, forgiveness and over all love! How many human kings, emperors, "gods" have given up their station in life, their kingdoms, even their life to save a worthless, undeserving race? None! This idea makes no sense to the world but yet to us it does! He is a loving God and we are hopelessly undeserving of that love. We can never bridge the gap between our faithlessness and His faithfullness, our depravity and His holiness. We don't deserve it and that's almost the best part! It's a gift and as we don't deserve it can't we appreciate it and thank God every second for it even more? It's all on Him to save us, we're stuck in our mire and unless we recognize that He is God, we can't understand Him and His ways anywhere near fully, we will be stuck forever and drown in our own faithlessness.

Another random thought- It's ridiculously hard to argue with a Christian who is seeking after God with their whole heart ... why? Because they don't always have to have the answer and so can just say, God has his reasons. And if we truly believe that then that stubborn faith will prevail: boggling the minds and beliefs of emperors, peasants, everyone in between.