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The Marathon

I am not much of a runner.  I have tried many times in the past to become one, but I am not one.  I don’t know if it is my attention span or out-of-shapeness, but I just can’t stick with it very long.  All I can think about while I am running is the fact that I do not want to be running.  My one and only goal during a run is to not be running when it is over.  I think that mindset has a lot to do with why I am not much of a runner.

Unfortunately, that mindset is not confined to running and exercise.  I sometimes view parts of life that way.  Sometimes my job is that way…all I think about is not working.  Sometimes my homelife is that way…all I can think about is the chores being done so I don’t have to do them.  Sometimes I view parenting that way…all I can think about with parts of our newborn’s life at present (crying and constant diaper changes) is the time when that will be over.  Sometimes I even view my relationship with God that way…I think about being done with reading the Bible while reading it…not praying while praying…or lunch during worship at church.

As I sit here now, I have three days left with my students at school until the end of the year.  I can’t help but thinking about when this year will be over.  I am not concentrated on the time I have left with them.  All I can see is how hard this year has been and how ready I am for it to be done.

Not that doing something with the end in sight is necessarily wrong, but what am I missing when I live this way?  What joy in the moments could I be missing?

I know that it is cliche, but life is a marathon and not a sprint.  When I live only thinking about when something is over I am trying to sprint 26 miles.  I am not a runner, which has been established, so that will never work.  I can’t run that way…I would die.  I can’t live that way either.  God does not intend that.  When we view life this way, we are taking control back from God and we are missing what he is using in the here and now to grow us and give himself glory.  Everything is God’s…even every little moment that we live and breathe.  God intends to use them to grow us, others, and show who he is.

The Bible is full of examples of times God has given promises but waits to fulfill them.  People take matters in their own hands and try to make the promises happen now.  God had a reason for waiting.  People are impatient…and the consequences are usually dire and they are normally natural consequences for what was done or not done.

I live my life that way.  I miss the things that God want to use for me or use me through for other people.  As I start this third-to-last day with my students, I pray that I view every moment as an opportunity for God.  I pray that my focus is on him and that this allows the moments to change me and change others through me.  It is a big goal, but God is a big God.

I know it is only loosely connected to what I posted, but I leave you with Hebrews 12:1-4:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

We are running the race of life.  It is a marathon.  We have a stadium full of those who have gone before us that have made it through.  If we keep our eyes on Jesus, who lived every moment for his Father, we can also see every moment as God’s and live each one for him.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, you want me to view every moment as an opportunity for you.  Please help me live my life slowly today.  Please help me to not waste the moments with my students and family this week.  Please help me to seek your glory in all that I do and say.  Please slow me down.  I love you.  Please help me to try.  your son, joe

 
 

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Jesus Voted Democrat in 2008

I know I just offended a bunch of people by using that for a title.  Was that on purpose to get your attention?  A little.  However, it is also very much the point I want to make this morning.  Actually, this post has been brewing in my mind for quite a while.  I feel it is timely to pull the trigger on it because I live in South Carolina, and we are at the center of the Republican primary fight until Saturday.

Before you get out your pitch forks and torches and come hunting to string me up for making such a claim, please hear me out.  This comes from some of the stuff God has been teaching me over the last year, and he is still teaching me even now.  I feel like it is time to share some of these thoughts and maybe start a conversation about them.  Maybe God is teaching you some of the same things.  Maybe he needs you to start thinking about them.

Let me start with my credentials.  I am a recovering hardcore conservative.  I am still really conservative, but the edges are starting to soften.  As long as I can remember, I have been interested in politics and the way the world works.  I started watching the news at a very early age, I followed the events of the world, and I asked my dad questions all of the time about America’s leaders (he was a Marine, so I figured he should know).  The first time I saw the White House was like going to Disney World for me.  One of my prized possessions is the letter I got back from the first President Bush after I wrote to him during the Persian Gulf War.

As I grew up, I became more and more set in my political thoughts.  I was a proud Republican.  I thought the Religious Right was always right.  Conservative became a badge I loved to wear.  I was really into the primary politics during the year I was a senior in college.  I really felt like I was being a good Christian to be pulling for the “good guys.”  When I met Christians who labeled themselves “liberal,” I almost always doubted their faith.  I did not know how that could be possible.

That pretty much stayed somewhat the same until very recently, except for the doubting of people’s faith…I stopped doing that a long time ago.  God really did a work on the amount of trust and stock I put into politics and conservatism as a movement.  When God took a hold of me last year and shook me awake, he opened my eyes to who he is, what the world is for, and my place in it all.  A part of this was seeing that maybe there is more than labels like conservative and liberal and more than who might be in office at any given time.  Maybe I need to put less worry into it.  Maybe God is in control way more than I give him credit for.

As I wiped the sleep from my spiritual eyes, I started to realize a few things that I need to refocus on:

  • God is sovereign, and this includes our government.  No matter who is leading our country, the bills they are passing, or how much it seems they are ruining or helping the “American way,” God is not asleep at the wheel.  He knows what is going on.  He has been around a while.  He has seen countries come and go.  As a matter of fact, he was the one who caused the comings and the goings.  He knows what he is doing.  If a democrat or republican becomes president, it is not like this is a shock to him.  Like what this means or not, who ever sits in the Oval Office was put there by the Almighty himself.  Really.  Romans 13:1  says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”  All authority comes from God.  That means it truly comes from him and is intended by him.  Those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  Despite what you might think about it, God put both George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the role of President.  Really.  I know that may be hard for people on both sides of the matter to take, but it is true.  God is ultimately in control.  We kind of just need to deal with it, trust him, and get to the bigger job of loving him and loving others.
  • I need to trust and submit to what ever authority I am under, even if they are a different political party.  Not that there is anything wrong with supporting and being involved with a political party, I myself fully intend to vote in the republican primary on Saturday.  We live in a democratic republic (those of my readers who live in the US, at least), and we have the right to vote.  We need to take advantage of that.  However, there has to be more to life than that.  Be involved, but we can not make that our identity.  God has called us to so much more than politics.  We can write to Congress and try to get our voices heard, but there has to be more than that.  At some point we need to realize that God put these people where they are, and though we disagree we need to submit to their authority.  Do what you can to get things changed, but do not make this your whole life.  God has called us to two major jobs, and that is to love him and love others.  We can do that no matter who is in office and what they are doing.  We can do that even if we had a monarch or dictator (though it would be more difficult).  When we submit to our rulers, we are really submitting to God.  That is what we are supposed to do.  If you doubt, go read further in Romans 13.  Verses 2 through 5 are pretty clear on this point.
  • Agree or disagree with taxes and what they go to pay, we need to pay them.  I intended to just focus on trusting and submitting to authority, but I decided to end out Paul’s thoughts in Romans 13.  The final thoughts on government are in verses 6 and 7, “Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.  Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.”  I know I might be opening a can of worms on the taxes thing, but if we are to trust and submit to our government, we need to pay our taxes and move on.  Seriously.  It would be nice to have extra money, but we need to trust what God is doing.  Use your vote to try to change things.  Write a Congress person or two, but just move on.  Don’t spend your life worrying about the taxes.  God is in control and he will take care of you.

That brings us back to the title.  Jesus did vote democrat in 2008, and his vote was the only one that counted.  The hard part for us, especially as free-voting Americans, is to realize that no matter who “wins” office it is God-ordained and our job to realize God’s authority through it.  Politics can not run our lives.  Worry about who is in leadership has never been meant to be.  Yes, we do need to do our part, vote, and contact leaders when we disagree.  In the same note, we need to move past that and look for what God has for us to do day to day.  Even if our country fails and we are thrown into uncertainty, God is still God and he is still in control.

So go vote, but also love everyone around you and show them God’s love…no matter who they vote for.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please help me know your authority and submit to it.  Help me to see you no matter who is in office.  Thank you.  I love you.  Your son, Joe.

 

Performancing Metrics

 

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The Teacher is Coming…Look Busy

I have been in quite the reflective mood as of late.  I have thought of and have started to “mentally write” a bunch of different blogposts.  I have not had the time to sit down and seriously write in a while, and now that I have a few minutes I think I am going to write something other than what I thought I would write about.

I have mentioned a few times in the past about the journey God put me on in March of this year to read through the Bible.  Even though I studied the Bible in college (the first time I went), I never read through the entire Bible cover to cover.  I was challenged to do so by an English professor when I was in school and then not again until I read the book Radical this year.  God really burned it on my heart to do this, so I started in March.  Now, here at the middle of Novemeber, I am three One Year Bible days away from finishing.

I am not sharing this to boast that I read through the Bible in nine months.  No, that is not it at all.  It is more the opposite.  I am completely humbled by it.  Something has happened to me through the Bible.  I am not sure if I can completely explain it, but I am different.  I am changed.

A few major things that I have realized:

  • The Bible is not what I thought.  It truly is the story of a loving God pursuing his people.
  • God is not who I thought.  He is loving.  He is vengeful.  He is just.  He is mercy.  He is jealous.  He is patient.  He is all of what we as humans are, but He is holy, pure, and above all that we are.
  • The Holy Spirit is not who/what I thought.  He is real.  He is God.  He is the presence of God in our lives.  He speaks.  He moves.  He calls.  He disciplines.  He is our source to be more like God.  Without Him we have nothing.
  • Jesus is not who I thought.  He has been since the beginning.  He is ever present in both the Old and New Testaments.  He is the promise of God since the beginning.  He really lived a sinless life.  He really died a sinners death.  He really rose again to show that the price was paid for our sin.  He really lives and is in Heaven.  He is really coming back.  He really loves us.  He really accepts us.  He worked to hard for us to give up on us.
  • We, humans, are not who I thought.  We really are sinful.  We really are incapable of living and trusting God as he intended on our own.  Our hearts are really crooked deep down.  We can not straighten ourselves out.  We need a savior.  We need a helper.  We need a God.  We can be made new.  We are made whole through Jesus.

As I am completing this journey (before I start it all back over again) and look back at how it has changed me, I am reminded of something that I heard someone say ten or so years ago.  There is a guy named Marquis Laughlin, and he does dramatic readings of books of the Bible (he has whole books of the Bible memorized…it is amazing).  I saw him perform the book of John.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and it brought the book alive to me in more ways than one.  At the end, he talked about what it is like to do this.  He said that one of the questions he gets all of the time is, “What is it like knowing whole books of the Bible and performing them?”

He said that it is like being in school in a classroom when the teacher has stepped out for a minute and left the students alone.  The students kind of do their own thing, but they have a look out at the door to let everyone know when the teacher is coming back.  He said that he feels like the student standing at the door.  He knows the Teacher is coming back and can see him down the hall.  He wants everyone to know that the Teacher is coming and we need to be doing the work that he left for us to do.  And that work is to love God and love other people.  Love is our job and we need to start doing it because the Teacher is almost to the door.

This is exactly how I feel on this side of my journey.  The Teacher is definitely coming back and He has definitely given us something to do.  We need to be about love.  We need to love generously and wrecklessly.  That kind of love changes the world, and we need to be changing the world when the Teacher comes back becuase that is the assignment he gave us when we left.

Performancing Metrics

 

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Schooling You on Why I Teach

I have been sick.  This afternoon I needed to stimulate my brain, so I blogged surfed for a bit.  I found an interesting blog based on a story about a teacher “grade-in” that was broken up by the police.  Teacher grade-ins are peaceful demonstrations in which teachers gather in public places and, well, grade.  They work on the grading that they would normal do at home.

I know what you are thinking…why?

The point, or one main point among others, is to open the eyes to people the amount of work that teachers do on their “own time.”  I put that in quotes because, as a teacher, I know that my “own time” is seldom my own.  I have to juggle the massive amounts of planning, grading, professional development, preparation, and even shopping (for demonstration materials…I am a science teacher) with my family, home chores, friends, church, and the rest of life.  There isn’t much “own time” left.

Oh, so you are one of those complaining-type teachers, Mr. OneCupofJoe guy, huh?

No, I just said that because I understand where these teachers are coming from.  I don’t think that a lot of people understand what teachers do.  We balance all of what I said along with trying how to differentiate between each learner we teach, help low-achieving students achieve higher goals, help high-achieving students be challenged and not lazy, staying in contact with parents, meeting the expectations of administrators, working with students with behavior issues, not neglecting the non-behavior issue students, studying our content at a deeper level, trying to keep up with current educational and brain research, and the thousand other things I left out.  Teaching is actually a profession.  Not a lesser calling.  Not, quite frankly, a career for the weak.

I thought you said you were going to complain, Complainy McComplainerson.

Still not, just relating to my grade-in teaching educational brothers and sisters.  Their goal is to help the public see a little of the “teaching life.”  I understand that.  Especially in a world where regulations come down from non-educators and where choices are made by people only looking at what it “costs” to educate.  Also, we teachers are surrounded by people who like to joke about the hours and vacations (to that my reply is always…”They aren’t vacations…it’s comp. time).  Anyway, I understand where these teachers are coming from.

On the otherside of the “grade-ins” is the politics of spending cuts and cries for higher wages.  Okay, I am SO not getting in to the politics of this…I do agree that money is being wasted, but it is not on the teachers.  I think that the educational system needs a major audit.  I am in a right-to-work state, so we do not have unions.  I am not sure on my feelings on teachers unions, but I am pretty sure they are not the answer.  Real reform is the answer, but that is another blog for another day.

The reason for writing this is because as I read and thought about the grade-in that was broken up by the police in New York (see link in first paragraph), I had to ask myself what I thought about the grade-in “movement” (there have been several of these to pop up across the country).  Would I take part or even consider orchestrating one of these in my city?  The thought did cross my mind…but why?

That led me to the question of why I teach.  Why do I teach?  I definitely feel like I was called to teach.  God put the desire on my heart, and he opened up a vast series of doors as I pursued it.  But it is more than that…I know have a passion about education, namely educating in the situation I teach in (I teach in a Title I school…click the link to learn what that means).  Today, though the doctor said I was too sick to go to school today, I missed my students.  I missed teaching today and wished I felt better and was doing what I do.  I am a teacher…and proud!

I don’t teach for the money (what money 🙂  ).  I don’t teach for the “hours.”  I don’t teach for the vactions.  I don’t teach so you can think of me as saintly for dealing with what I have to deal with.  I don’t teach for you to feel bad for me for the time contraints.  I don’t teach for you wish teachers made more.  I don’t teach to show off how much I have to do.  I don’t teach for you.  I don’t teach for me (I would have burned out a long time ago if this were true).  I teach for my students.  I teach as a steward of the gifts and talents the God gave me.  I teach because God called us to love others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

I teach as a gift of love and practice of faith.  My faith has been grown and stregthened because teaching isn’t easy, espeically where I teach.  I teach because God has given me gifts and talents to use to serve others.  This is what I am doing.  I am trying to live out the Gospel with my life.  I teach because I can’t do it on my own.  I teach as an act of sacrafice.  I offer the little I have and allow to God use it as he will.  In my case it is mostly for the sake of educating students who need a leg up…but who knows what the seeds of love and service can produce.

I don’t think I would attend a “grade-in.”  This is a private act of service and sacrafice between God and I.  I don’t need you to feel bad.

PS…If you do want to help me “do what I do”…please check out my Donor’s Choose projects and think about donating.  Everything little or big helps.  Both of them have about two weeks left…and they are both being doubled.  Please think about helping.  Project oneProject two.

Performancing Metrics

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Faith and Life, Teaching

 

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The Holy Spirit Was Wearing Pink

This morning I came across a blog that really hit home to me.  It was kind of perfect timing.  I have been trying to put words to some prayers for my attitude and how I approach people and situations.  This blog post hit it on the head.

The name of the post is called, “The Opposite of Love Isn’t Hate.”  It really caught my attention, so I gave it a read.  I am so glad I did.  I know that the Spirit totally set this one up, because this story doesn’t end here.  But before I get to the rest of the story, let me finish talking about what I read.

I can sum up the post in one statement from it, Hate is not the opposite of love, fear is.”  I had to get my mind around this.  The more I read, the more this made sense.  The tumblers started to fall into place in my head.  This is so true.  Fear really is the antagonist of love.  Debby went on to explain:

Fear the opposite of love? Yes, yes. That’s it. In my life that is true. It’s not hate but fear. Fear of those different from me. Fear of stepping out in faith. Fear my children will suffer tragedy. Fear those I’ve grown close to will relapse and fear for the day my mom won’t know any of us.

I can so relate to this.  When my son was born, I became even more paranoid about everything,  I can still be two and a half years later.  I found ways to micromanage everything.  I was, and can still be, so afraid of anything happening to him.  I am starting to see that this fear can get in the way of loving him and allowing him to grow and mature.

This fear can show itself in other ways, too.  I grew up moving a lot, so I learned at an early age not to form deep friendships.  This has led to a fear of losing friends or getting my feelings hurt by others that sticks with me even now.  I have a fear of allowing people too close to me.  That fear was overcome a good bit when I met my wife, but it still makes me distant from friends sometimes.

Even more so, this fear can keep me from growing in my relationship to God.  We are called to two commandments, to love God and love others.  When I am afraid of what could happen, I put a wall between myself, God, and others.  I am afraid of letting go and dying to myself.  I am afraid of what people will think.  I am afraid of completely trusting in the acceptance of God that comes through the work of Jesus Christ.  This fear stunts my spiritual growth.

1 John 4 holds the answer to the fear.  Love is the opposite.  Fear can keep us from love, but love can keep us from fear.  Only love breaking through to our hearts and mind can defeat our fear and allow us to love.

John wrote in verses 16-19 (NLT):

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each otherbecause he loved us first.

“Such love has no fear, because PERFECT love expels all fear.”  This is so awesome.  Because we have been loved perfectly, we do not have to be afraid.  Abiding in this love will allow us to overcome the fear.  We will be able to love!

So…this was on my heart as I drove to work this morning.  I can be a bit ADD with what I listen to (or don’t listen to) in the car.  Lately I have wanted to listen to music, but Christian radio can get repetative so sometimes I just put on a random station.  Today was a light rock station.  A song came on that I have always kind of liked when I have heard it.  It is by Pink.  As the song played, the Spirit brought these ideas back to mind and took them a little further.

Now, as a little disclaimer, I had no idea that I have been only hearing the edited version.  I went to look up the song to write this blog post.  It turns out that the song, which I thought was called “Perfect,” is actually named “F**ing Perfect.”  I had no idea.  I am sorry, if this offends you.  Just know I have only heard the edited version.  Any way, the song still totally spoke to me and the Spirit drove the message home (yes, through this potentially offensive song).

The part that spoke to me was the chorus:

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me

The message that came to mind is that it is my fear of not being accepted by God because of my sins is the overwhelming fear that holds be back from loving Him and loving others.  The thing is, if that I truly believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I am accepted by God.  I am free to love.  I am free to serve.  I am free to obey.  I do not have to fear the wrath I know I deserve.  Through Jesus, in terms of the eternal consequences of sin, I am perfect in the eyes of the Father.  The passage from 1 John says, “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”  This sentence leads directly into the statement that “perfect love drives out fear.”  Our acceptance is the love that shines like a light on our fear and makes it run away like darkness!

How awesome is this!  We are perfect in his eyes.  This perfect love is the antithesis of fear.  We can live love because he loves us!  Halellujah, what a Savior?

Do you see how fear keeps us from loving?  How can the perfect love of Jesus change you and allow you to love without fear?

Performancing Metrics

 

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Sesame Street vs. The Church

I read this headline on Yahoo News yesterday, “New ‘Sesame Street’ Muppet for special on hunger.”  I was intrigued, so I checked it out.  Here is the heart of the story:

Lily is a 7-year-old who talks to viewers about insecurity over whether her family will have enough to eat. The puppet goes to a pantry for food and also volunteers there.

I think this is actually pretty awesome.  God has given me a heart for those less fortunate, and in the last year he has really set that heart on fire for the needy.  It started when I read the book Radical by David Platt, and the flames exploded when I read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Sterns (the president of WorldVision).  A God keeps fanning the flames as I read through the Bible (it is an overwhelming theme).  A kids show to help them understand what some people go through on a regular basis is a really good thing.

However, the more I thought about this the more something started to bother me.  Why is Sesame Street doing a better job of inspiring compassion than the church?

I know, I know.  Sesame Street has been trying to help students learn about life for a long time.  And I know, the Church has been reaching out to the poor since the beginning.  I agree to these sentiments.  But…

I do believe that the Church has dropped the ball.  If we are living out what the Bible (both Old and New Testaments…but especially the words of Jesus himself in the New), then we should own this issue.  The Church should be looked to as the heart of compassion for the poor and needy, not Elmo, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch.

I know some churches are the exception to what I am saying, and I would hold mine out as one of those kind of churches.  At the same time, I can’t remember the last sermon/teaching I heard on giving to the poor.  When was the last time I was reminded that God’s focus has always been bent towards giving mercy to those who need it?  Sure, we have our programs that urge us to reach out to others.  We can bring money, school supplies, and shoeboxes full of Christmas…but when have I been last asked to leverage something in my life for the sake of the poor, hungry, orphans, widows, and prisoners?

What are our children learning about God’s heart for the needy?  They are learning the Bible.  Which is awesome.  They are learning worship songs.  That is great.  But what are they learning about giving up things that they might like in order to sacrafice for the needy?

I think the Church may have dropped the ball a bit on this one, and a bunch of puppets have picked it up and are running with it.

I realize that I may have a bit of extreme bent and I am talking a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there are some serious things to consider here.

  • Are we really living out God’s heart for mercy to the poor as the universal group of believers…and I am talking all of us, not small pockets and groups?
  • Does the world look to the Church as the center of compassion and generousity?
  • Are we leveraging anything in our lives for the sake of the poor and needy (both here and throughout the world)?
  • Do we make daily decisions in my day-to-day life that affect the lives of anyone else in need?
  • Do we teach our children the art of sacrafice for the sake of others?

I have to defer to Jesus himself here.  The parable of the sheep and goats is often referred in these types of discussions, and rightly so.  So I am going to go there.  I am not going to quote the whole passage here, but go check out Matthew 25:31-46 really quick and come back.

You back?

Jesus is obviously talking about the final judgment.  It is when he will come back and pretty much separate people based on if they are going to Heaven or Hell.  And what is his standard?  “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”  Those on the “good side” asked when they did this, and Jesus said it is when they did these things for people in these circumstances.

What did Jesus hold against those not joining him in Paradise?  Was it lust?  Was it gluttony?  Was it hatred?  Homosexuality?  Even murder?  No.  It was how they treated the “least of these.”

Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.  For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

Am I proposing that we get into Heaven by works?  No, of course not!  It is quite clear from the rest of the New Testament that it is by faith alone that we are saved and allowed to live in the presence of God.  It is faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  However, our faith (and the Spirit living in us because of our faith) will show itself by what we do.  It will show by where we spend our time.  Where we spend our money.  Where our heart is.  In James 2:26 it is quite clear, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”

I could go on, but I won’t.  I think you catch what I am throwing at you.  But where does that leave us?  Where does this leave me?

There is a song by a band called Shaded Red.  They have a song called “Revolution” that has a lyric singing to me as I write about this, “There is a revolution, it starts with me and ends at the back of the church.”  I am going to have to close this by just dealing with me.  You can deal with you.  And then we can all deal with each other.

I can only quiz myself and do some reflection.  What does my faith show?  What are my works showing?  Is my heart the same as God’s for the poor, widows, orphans, and prisoners?  Do I leverage anything for the sake of the needy?  Do I sacrafice anything in my daily life for the causes that hold people down?  Do I teach my son to live a life of sacrafice for others?  How will I do when I stand before Jesus and he is separating people?  Am I a sheep or a goat?

Now what about you?  How are you doing?  Are you a sheep or a goat?  Are you teaching your children about sacrafice for the sake of the needy?

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I am Lucy Pevensie

We had baptisms at church last night (our church has multiple services). I was baptized myself this past Easter (awesome day to identify myself with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!). It is all still very fresh for me, so I tend to still be a bit emotional about seeing baptisms, in a good way.

Last night there was only one. It was a boy who was baptized by his father. This hit home to me because my dad baptized me. It got me thinking about the fact that I hope that my sons will come to know the reality of God, their sin, and their need for Jesus. I hope one day to baptize them. Not because I want to go through the motions of it all, but because I want them to have a real relationship with Jesus. I want them to be believers in the Gospel. I want them to have a true and real faith.

This got me to thinking about the fact that I want all of my friends and family to be awoken to the true reality of the world. That there is more than the physical side of the universe that we understand. God is real. Heaven is real. Jesus really lived. Jesus really died. Jesus really did this to take God’s wrath and punishment on himself. Jesus really rose from the dead as proof that our sins are forgiven. Jesus really did send the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit really can live in our hearts and lives. We really can truly love and serve others. There really is a Kingdom of God. There really will be a day of judgement. There really is an eternity. We can really have a relationship with God, both now and forever.

This led me to thinking about how hard this is to explain to people. I have friends who do not believe in God. I have friends who not only do not believe, but they are atagonistic towards God. I love these friends. I just can’t get them to understand what I know about the reality of the world. I tried to think about a way to explain to them why I could not explain this to them. I was thought about the “magic” that I know that they do not understand or believe in.

I was suddenly reminded about the book/movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In the story, the youngest of a group of brothers and sisters found a land called Narnia in a waredrobe/closet. When she came back, no one believed her. This is exactly what I am feeling right now.

I want so bad for my friends and family to be able to go and see Narnia. To know what I know. I am Lucy trying to explain the snow covered forests and Mr. Tumnus the faun. They have no concept of what I am talking about. Narnia, to them, is an imaginary land. Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are characters of my fantasy to them.

I wish they could know Aslan’s world. I wish they could open their eyes and see it. I wish they could know the “real world” that I know.

I guess only the Spirit can bring them there. I will pray. I will share. I will live like I have been to Narnia. I will do all I can do to convince them, but in the end, it is the Spirit that has to open their eyes.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, I pray that you would show my friends and family the reality of the world that you created.  I thank you so much for how you gave C.S. Lewis the understanding to write such a beautiful analogy for your realities.  I pray right now that you would help my friends and family be able to see Narnia.  Help them to know you, Aslan.  Help them to be able to walk through the waredrobe to your world, to your country.  Spirit, I pray that you would help them to see and know the realness of you, our sins, and your forgiveness and life through Jesus’s death.  I do not have words to go on further, so Spirit, I pray that you will intercede for me.  Thank you, Father.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Spirit.  I love you.  I need you.  Amen.

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