Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mourning-Spiritual Journey Part 2

Last blog post I began to dive into Matthew 5:3-12 and look at how the passage outlines the spiritual journey we all must take as we grow and mature in Christ. It's not an end all comprehensive step by step process but I intend to outline some key signposts the passage reveals to me.

"Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted"

Christ is about God who in all his holiness was separated from man because of sin, a poison that came in and eroded God's creation, man, and the relationship between all living things. Christ is about sacrifice, God who sent his son out of his love to die to make a way for restoration. Christ is not just forgiveness but even more so repentance.

Forgiveness means you recognize you got caught doing wrong and are sorry. Repentance is turning away, changing the direction one is headed in. As we come into contact with Christ, and his light pours into our lives, we should see the need for changes in our life. We should mourn our actions that aren't in obedience. That's conviction from the Holy Spirit who will indwell us when we come to Christ in faith and are baptized.

Conviction isn't the same as guilt however. Guilt brings doubt, negative feelings, worthlessness. Guilt takes away from confidence by saying we aren't capable of any better. Conviction shows us right and wrong and fuels us, affirming our beliefs and values. Conviction encourages while guilt discourages.

May the Holy Spirit convict you and lead you in the path of Christ, and may the Spirit bring you out from under guilt, which Satan will use to keep you hopeless.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Two weeks ago I started memorizing scripture again. A buddy of mine put together a plan to go through Matthew 5-7 which we studied through last fall in a Tuesday morning Bible study. I'm currently up to V13.

As I've been memorizing I've also been reflecting on the scripture. I spent several days on V3 where it says "Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
I somewhat puzzled over that one. The other verses between 3-12 follow this format of Blessed are __________ for ____________. One definition of blessed is means "to be better off" Looking at the passage as I whole, I see these character traits that we should be adopting, but then I go back to V3 where it says "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and I initially ask myself am I supposed to be poor in spirit as a lifestyle? What does that mean?

I've been discussing the passage and the verse with some friends down in Wilmington, and they shared something they noticed as they talked about it at one of their recent gatherings.

Look at V3-10 as a spiritual journey from start to end result. To truly begin to pursue God, die to self and take up our cross and follow him, we have to recognize our spiritual poverty without him. Everything else pales in comparison to living a life for Him.

For the next two weeks I'm going to continue to blog through v4-10 and break down how each verse ties in to the spiritual journey we must all undertake.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some thoughts on manhood

Recently a friend of mine posted a status on facebook expressing frustration over not knowing what it means to become a man. This got me thinking, and here's where my thoughts took me.

What does it mean to become a man?

"For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter though a man's misery weights heavily upon him. Ecclesiastes 8:6

John Eldridge is one of my favorite authors on masculinity. He's written many books, the majority of which I've read. If I could recommend just one, I'd say Wild at Heart for Men, and Captivating for Women. Today though I won't draw from Eldridge because I'd rather use something I believe everyone who reads this will be familiar with.

Disney's Lion King is a great story and follows the story of Simba, who grows up a prince, ultimately runs away from home and responsibility, later to return to reclaim all that is his. When does Simba become a man/lion and is no longer the cub? It's not during Hakuna Matata in my opinion even though we see Simba age considerably during the musical interlude.

I believe Simba really grows up when he returns with Nala to face responsibility and confronts his father's death.

While I can't put forth an end all definition to what it means to become a man, I do believe it means accepting responsibility for yourself and for others around you. Doing your part to not only provide for your needs but in some way for the needs of others as well, whether physically or spiritually.

In this age though, there's too many examples of putting this off. Young men and women are far too often continuing to live with their family, delaying getting out on their own, and supporting themselves. Yes getting out on one's own may be tougher now than years ago, but we're also trading away the means by which we grow and mature. We become afraid to take risks, to venture into anything unknown, and revert back to our teenage years.

I shudder to think what our world would look like if this trend continues with each up and coming generation. We need to search out examples of Godly men and women, use them as inspiration and become examples ourselves to others.

I'm looking forward to taking more steps in that area myself in the coming year.