Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After a long sabatical of sorts

Last night i discovered something. Watching Charlie Brown with a tummy full of ribs and chili is a quick way to get sleepy. As such I went to bed at 9:30 pm last night. Usually I'm just sitting down (if not out with people at this time) about to study and knock out school work.

Sometimes we just need to stop and rest.

After 10 hours of good sleep, I woke up this morning at 7:30, put on some sweats and headed out into the cold, and drove over to the rec center. There I warmed up on a bike for 10 minutes, catching ESPN highlights from the opening of the NBA season last night on a nearby tv. Then i proceeded over to the track.

After some light stretching, i walked onto the track and stared ahead. Nervousness crept up and down my legs and spine. Anticipating.

You see, its been since the beginning of May since I last run. Tearing your ACL will leave you out of commission for a while physical activity wise. During that time, God changed my heart in so many ways...

1)He gave me a heart of patience as I wondered why me, why now.
2) He reminded me of His love, by sending friends and family to check on me after surgery.
3) He taught me above else, that praying is still the most important thing i can do.
4) He showed me that pain is only temporary, that for some things in life I must push through pain to reach higher.
5) He showed me there is allways a way, even when I didn't think i could carry food and walk with crutches
6) He showed me that i need to rest in His presence, instead of flat out speeding through this life. To slow down a bit.
7) And so much more, but more than anything, He showed me how to deny myself, to let go of my selfish desires. To have more of Him and less of me. That i don't need to brag about my basketball prowness, or that sports are even about winning. God gave us sports to build fellowship, trust with one another, not to one up each other.

He even showed me how to truly listen to others.

And so here I stood. Anxious to take off jogging. Worried that my leg may not be healed enough. I wasn't even sure if I remembered how to run. Seriously, I couldn't remember the sensation in my legs of what it felt like.

So I relearned how to run.

Still favoring my right leg out of habit, I started off plodding my feet one after another, pushing off with my toes, landing on my heels in quick succession. I wasn't gliding along as I used to, but i was running again.

No pain came from my knee. Glee perhaps but no pain. My stamina was strong, wasn't breathing hard at all.

Now I know that I can run. Again.

And I have returned from a sabatical of sorts, with a new heart, a humbleness to admit I am nothing without Him.

Abba, that was a storm, the likes of which I havn't been in since senior year of High School. Thank you for bearing with me during my whining, my desperation, the pain. Thank you for getting my attention when I thought i knew it all. More importantly thank you for dying on the cross. I can't imagine the pain you took for me. My body, my new ACL i give back to you. Use it as you desire.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Slaves to sin...but slaves to righteousness?

In our 2:42 we've been going through the book of romans, studying God's plan of reconcilation from the law of the Old Testament to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.

Romans 6:15-18:
"What they? Shall we sin becuase we are not under the law but under grace? By no means (aka Hell No!) Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obediance which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin, and have become slaves from righteousness"

Many of us are aware that we were once slaves to sin. Unable to break its hold on us. Sin kept us separated from God, unable to come into His presence, to hear and know His voice, to see His glory, to know His mind and heart.

We know that Christ made us free from all that. Free from the bondage of sin so that its hold on us is broken. Now we can overcome sin and triump by the blood that was slain.

But instead of being slaves to sin, we are now slaves to God.

Slavery again? That can't be we say. We right back where we started, bound to something.

Think about it though. As one guy in our 2:42 group said, we are slaves to our bodies. We have to eat, breathe, drink water, and other functions of our body. Try going without them and see how long you live.

I am indeed a slave to Christ, because He bought me at the price of His life. And though I be bound to Him for life...

"I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know His master's business, instead I have called you friends" John 15:15

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry Abba, Father (Daddy)". Romans 8:15

Who knew slavery could be so good!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One body

Earlier today I started listening to Casting Crowns first cd album again. I rediscovered some really good songs but this verse from the same song really got me thinking...

But if we are the Body

Why aren't His arms reaching

Why aren't His hands healing

Why aren't His words teaching

And if we are the Body Why aren't His feet going

Why is His love not showing them
there is a way

There is a way
Most parts of the body if not all all have a purpose. They say now even ear wax has a purpose in the ear, and I believe if I recall corectly doctors said it should be left alone. I'll believe that one when i see proof.

Think about though seriously. Even toes while small help maintain balance. Within the church (any group of believers) we become the body of Christ. Why are we not reaching out then? Why aren't we doing?

I don't know about you but I'd rather be an arm or part of an arm instead of an appendix whose purpose has yet to be figured out by scientists. I'd rather be valuable instead of dead weight.

What are we doing within the body of Christ?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just a Squirrel at a Masquerade Ball

I pulled up and parked my jeep, and got out. Looking over, I wondered if i was at the right place, and at the right time. After looking around while I began to walk over, i spotted a light outside, and decided to head for it. The light led to a doorway, and into the santuary, that except for some candles on the walls, the hall remained dark.

As I began to slowly make my way through, my keys jingled rather loudly while hooked to my belt. Feeling like i was shouting in the midst of this quiet gathering, i held the keys firm while i found a seat toward the back where i would be less conspicuous. As I sat down, i realized that the acoustics in the hall magnified even the slighted noise into a resounding echo.

I was at best a squirrel at a masquearade ball.

Visting St. Pauls 9:00 pm service this Sunday was a new experience. My first at an episcopal church. Taking in the scene, i remarked at the reverance the episcopaleans pay to God. Then the chorus proceeded in, taking their place at the back of the hall, and began to lift up in solemn song, praises to God.

Directly they presented Luke 20:9-19 in song/chant. I almost instantly recognized the parable. But toward the end, this thought jumped out and grabbed my attention.

"and He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel He will be a stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." Isaiah 8:14
The prophecy referrs to Jesus. Cleary some of His teachings such as being the bread of life and that we must eat of his flesh, among many others has tripped up people of all nations over the centuries. If people stumble because of Jesus, what is my relation as one who sees that He is the cornerstone? What I can I do as one who has not stumbled to the point of being crushed?
Hopefully I'll have an answer in my next blog...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Simply Worship

I just finished listening to a message by Louie Giglio titled "Simply Worship". For those of you who don't know, Louie is a song writer. He writes praise songs such as "Holy is the Lord", and many others for Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, David Crowder Band, and began the Passion Conferences and tours.

In the message, Louie talked about worship, the many different styles from the hymns of old to contemporary praise. Then he explained what true worship looks like. I can't begin to cover everything his message covered, but if you get the chance to check it out you should. Here's what stuck out to me.

When we go to sunday morning worship, passion, overflow, etc we like to walk in and think, I hope the worship is good this morning or evening. Man it'd be awsome if they did some third day or hillsong. We walk in and begin to look for what God is going to do for us. Is this worship? Hearing a meaningful song? Being able to sing along or clap our hands to something upbeat?

In Isaiah 58, God speaks to the prophet Isaiah. Once again Israel is seeking the Lord, and are wondering why God is not listening to their prayers and their fasts. Among God's answers to them, He says in verse 3 "Yet on the day of fasting you do as you please" and that God did not intend for fasting to last for one day, which many of the Israelites considered sacrifice enough.

Then down in verse 7, God lays out what fasting, and what i believe worship is.

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away for your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear, then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say Here am I.
Last wednesday I had a meaningful day of worship. I spent an hour alongside fellow beleivers praying at the cupola asking for God to work on our campus. Then I took a friend over to wal-mart. Then came back met with a guy I'm leading 2:42 Bible Study with to lay out our next few weeks of meeting. Then I headed to overflow, then aftwerwards to baptize a friend who had made the decision, and then we went out to IHOP for his first meal born again, and spent an hour there just talking about the Word.
I didn't say all of that to boast. But i remember feeling at the end of the day, "How great was today? God really blessed me today." The reason i see now, is because i poured myself out to God that afternoon and evening. I gave myself solely to Him, and to His agenda, and what ever i wanted to do, I set on the back burner.
Paul said the same to Timothy is one of his farwell letters:
For I am being poured out like a drink offereing, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7
Worship is devoting our lives to God. Allowing ourselves to be completely spent for the one who was pierced, crushed, wounded, and ultimately put to death. Jesus spent three years before that moment, fasting, praying all hours of the day, healing the sick, one after another after another, teaching his disciples time and time again. Never once did Jesus decide to take a vacation on the beaches along the mediterranean, or to sleep in a king's palace.
That is the life of worship. A life that God smiles down upon. A cry that He will always answer.
I spent the last 27 hour fasting. No food just water, a little apple juice, and some smoothie. Did good up til this point. For now I'm going to declare this fast a good first step into the discipline, and declare it over. The reason for my fast, I'm going to continue to pray over. But I'm going to pour myself out to God through service and ministry while I seek direction on a mission trip oppourtunity I'm considering. I'm going to try the model in Isaiah 58 and truly fast, and our myself out for others.