Friday, August 27, 2010

Malachi 1:1

It hurts doesn't it? To see someone sick and know that you yourself are well. Often when I visit someone who has a terminal illness I always find myself burdened. I hate seeing them the way they are and in some way I wish there were something I in my own power could do to make them feel better. To this day I still hate seeing people I hold dear even sick with a cold. I'll be the first to cook a soup, serve a lunch, or put myself in a position to get sick for the sake of keeping them company. This isn't to toot my own horn because I know that I am not alone in this. All of us at some point or another have felt the burden of watching a loved one slowly pass due to illness. We wish we ourselves could take on the disease ourselves even for a second so that in that moment, that person, that loved one might experience the freedom from that and smile.

It doesn't stop at being sick though, there are times in my conversations with someone I just want more than anything in the world for them to understand a concept or see something the way it is meant to be seen. To see their faces light up with joy as if it's Christmas morning and they just received that thing they wanted more than anything in the world, to me their is no greater joy. But it's a burden before this happens. A burden that often times leads you to tears when no one's looking. You want so badly for them to understand, you want so badly for them to believe, and yet, they just won't and the more time you spend with them, the more time you get to know where their hearts are, the more your heart crumbles.

I think this is what Malachi was dealing with in Malachi 1:1. I know there are other places in the bible in which a prophet describes his message as a burden, however, at least for me, I think the people that Malachi was speaking to is by far the hardest of crowds to preach to. Malachi was speaking with men who were priests, however, had defiled the entire order of the priesthood by forsaking first fruits and turning what was worship into ritual and rules.

A tough crowd to talk to if you ask me. To speak to men and women who had grown up around things of the Lord their entire lives and yet like Timothy tells us, denied the power of the truth. It hurts to see this, it hurts even more when you sit down with someone who tells you they are seeking truth but in reality end up so firmly rooted in their own truth that the conversation goes quickly from witnessing to just plain arguing. It's at that point you lose a person.

I don't know about you, but I cry out for these people. People that have the truth staring them in the eye and rather than hear it out and give it the time of day, they shutter at the thought of it and quickly recluse back to whatever it is they held dear prior to hearing it. People are comfort junkies and no one likes something that challenges the very thing that gives comfort. Christianity is definitely loaded with comforts, after all the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Comforter, however, Christianity isn't about being comfortable. It is about stepping out and doing the thing Christ has called you to do despite what the world tells you.

Some take that as seeing the bible way too literally, however, it is pretty black and white. When Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler in Mark 10, He quickly showed how man's focus is shifted onto the wrong thing. In the story, the rich young ruler was concerned with what he could do to get into heaven, rather than the true way to get into heaven. Jesus responds to him and asks him why it is he is asking who is good, after all only God is good. Jesus isn't saying He Himself isn't good, we know that because in Matt 19:16-21 He makes it clear His purpose in saying that God alone is good (and seeing as He IS God, well you get the idea). The point is, Jesus is telling this guy his focus is all wrong. In reality, the way into heaven is to make yourself the least of these, to become last, to be a servant of others, to take up all you have and sell it.

So what is Jesus saying? By those standards we're all doomed. Exactly. In our efforts alone we can't get into heaven. People today think it's imperative to do good works to get you where you want to go, that being heaven. People miss the point. You lie once, you're a liar. You cheat once, you're a cheater. There are none good, no not one. There isn't a just man who does good and is without sin (Ecc 7:20).

So then how does it all work? Well humility is big, in fact we know from Matt 5:3 that we must first be broken to truly enter into the kingdom. Broken by our need to sin and by our desperate need for a Savior found only Christ Jesus. People don't like that. People don't want to hear that they have to surrender themselves over to someone else, especially an invisible man they can't see, but then again, aren't they already doing that? This is where often times it hurts to hear a person speak against Christ, and it isn't because they are wrong and we have to be right, no, it is because when you see a person's eyes covered by the scales of deception, your heart crumbles for them. It is almost as if you wish you could tear the scales off with your own hands and say "Look! You can see now! You have your sight! Go! See the world in the beauty that is God!" It doesn't work that way. The choice is their's not yours, and ultimately all you can do is present them the truth.

What does that mean for us then? Should we stop from speaking? Should we not go out and preach. No. For starters it isn't our word to be determining who to tell and who not to tell. It isn't our word to decide whether or not it was effective. We are simply instructed to learn it, live it, and preach it. To not be satisfied with just leading a normal "good" life. To step outside the boundaries of our comforts and our concerns and live life pressing hard after Him. Forgetting what is behind us and panting toward God as a deer pants toward water, we should be in a constant state of seeking. We should everyday seek His face and in all things consider Him. What often helps me is when I consider Him, I see Him on the cross. I see Him being nailed for my stupidity, I see Him sign His name in royal blood over mine. Often times the thought brings me to my knees, but then again, it would do us all well to live our lives on our knees.

The burden is heavy, but the Lord's yoke is light. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of Christ and may we be a people who thirst to know Him more every day. May we seek long and hard after Him with our whole being and forsake our filthy pleasures. Sometimes it is difficult to do, but trust in the Lord, He who has begun a good work is faithful to complete it. He is definitely not the author of confusion and when He speaks a thing, it is and will be. You just seek after Him with every beat of your heart and forget what the enemy or your flesh tells you. They are both wrong.

May it kill us to find joy outside Him. What we often times forget and He has lately been faithful to show me is that putting Him first brings Matt 6:33 into fruition, and it isn't this promise that should cause us to put Him first, it is our undying thirst for Him, not His blessing, just Him.

Psalm 84: 1 How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heart to Heart...

Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

I, like David, tend to ask myself this a lot. I always like to wonder what is it about us that makes Him love us so much. If I'm not careful, I'll soon fall into a deep time of thought where I lose it all together, and rather than use the questions to fuel the passion, I can use the question to fuel a sense of despair almost. It is true though, when reading the sermon on the mount and listening to Jesus lay down His law, you come to the conclusion that there is no way you will ever be able to be that type of man. Depressing for some, a lot of us tend to fall into this sense of legalism as a result of it. We push ourselves so hard to earn this title of christian that we soon earn the title of pharisee instead.

Other times we read the law and we laugh. We say to ourselves, "No one in their right mind will ever be able to do this, not to mention it sucks all the fun out of living." Does it? I don't think so. In both cases, both people have missed the point. The combination of the two is where you begin to understand the true meaning of the law, and what Christ meant when He says He came to "fulfill the law."

Person one, forgets that when Christ fulfilled the law, He did it because we will never be able to, and we have to accept it. He is the only way to the Father. Nothing we can do will ever change that. We cannot earn it. God cannot look upon sin (Hab 1:13) which is to say He totally abhors and as result judges it. Our only hope is found in His Son Christ, our High Priest (Heb 4:14-15).

Person two forgets the freedom found in the law. The freedom in knowing we are no longer subject to the slavery of sin. Death has lost its sting as Paul put it. Sin lost its power. Jesus bridged the gap between us and the father. Their is a certain freedom in restrictions. Consider the doctor, you go in one day and are told you have to diet or you'll die. This requires restrictions in your life, however, these restrictions are for your benefit and if kept, lead to a life FREE of the worry of death by preventable causes. In the same fashion, Jesus removes from us the slavery of sin and gives us FREEDOM in knowing we can have a relationship with our Lord.

In the end, it all comes down one thing. Your heart. Your heart is by far the most important thing to God, because He wants it, but He wants you to choose to give it up. As you start going through the sermon on the mount, you come to realize you really aren't as good as you make yourself out to be. To lust is to commit adultery, to hate is to murder. While many of us have never murdered (I hope none!) we all at some point or another have hated. Jesus here reminds us of two things:

1. Sin begins in the heart

Of course we know that sin begins in the heart, however, sin, if left unchecked according to James can bring forth death (1:13-16). I can begin to hate my brother, and over time if I don't bring that hate before the throne, it could turn into something more. What started as hate, in a year could become complete disdain. What is disdain in a year could be a plot to kill. Extreme, maybe, but murder doesn't always start as murder, often times it starts with something like hate.

As Christians, we must always keep our hearts in check. After all, it is the heart that God looks at (1 Sam 16:7). God cares more about the heart of the worker than He does the work. Sure He will use the work to glorify Himself, however, He wants a pure heart, a devoted heart, a broken heart.

2. A sin is a sin is a sin is a sin

In today's world we tend to live by degrees. Lying isn't as bad as cheating, though one is a form of the other, and back talk is nowhere near as bad as murder. Or is it? According to James 2:11, you break one area of the law, you break the law. Scary when you think about it, there really is no hope for us outside of Christ. Our hearts are bent for sin unless we allow Christ to govern the throne room of our heart.

In God's eyes, there is no little sin or big sin, sure there are a slew of verses that list "A,B,C and D, will not inherit the kingdom of God" however, if you notice, those lists are loaded with nouns, not verbs. It is a heart thing. You and I will sin, no doubt, but what do we do after we sin. Do we continue or become contrite? There is the difference. Again, God is concerned with the heart.

In these past few months, I have continued asking God, "Lord, what is it about Chris Sierra that you are mindful of him. What is it You like so much! Why are you even paying attention to me, have you seen my past." He'll respond "Yes, but now I see my Son, because You have seen Him." God is so good to us. We often times forget it.

These next few blogs, I have something heavy on me that I want to share with you guys. It is something that years ago I knew I had an issue with and now as the days go by, God is just continuing to show me what an awesome work He has done. It all floats around one verse, and that's Ezekiel 36:26.

What is man, that You are mindful of Him Lord? He loves us, why? Because we are us. As C.S. Lewis put it, "Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves."

The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart
From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks
That which God will never deny

Just a few fun topics....oh! and not to worry, I am still going to be putting up stuff on Apologetics and I'll have my moments of randomness.....all by His Spirit, whatever He wants, I'll give. A friend of mine had an awesome blog that reminded me how it important it is to have a balance between the heart of the battlefield and the battlefield of the heart, if that makes any sense. Logic and reason are beautiful no doubt, but "I’ve seen way more people fall apart because of disappointment because of a girl than by the hand a clever Buddhist with a knack for arguing." (Chris Rodriguez, Intrepid Undertaking )

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Promise...

I promise....I promise....How many times as kids did we use those two words? How often was it we heard those words uttered to us when we were told something by a friend or by our parents. I remember I used to use these two words all the time, it was as if the use gave the person enough reassurance that whatever it was I was saying would come to pass. It's unfortunate that many of us, myself included, tend to not hold to what we say we'll do. We "forget" as we sometimes say.

When I was a kid, I remember being told we were going to Disney World. For weeks in advance I would be bouncing up and down, eager to go see the mouse and ride all the awesome rides. There was nothing you could do to me to get me to forget Disney, it was beyond important to me. I was eight years old, however, it's clear that when something is important to you, you don't forget it. Dare I say that the reason why many of us forget our promises is because sometimes we really don't mean them?

Think about the last thing you promised someone that you didn't see through. What was it that caused you to promise it in the first place? Was it some emotional response to a personal conviction? Was it the want to please them and in a sense give them a short-term reassurance of your commitment level, when in reality you never intended to follow through? Was it that everyone else is making promises, so hey why not you? We really need to consider our motives because it is a dangerous game making promises and not keeping them.

How much more horrible is it to make a promise to God and not keep it. This morning I woke up with very little time to think due to my waking up late, however, I can always find time to get my fill of the Word, even if it is just a verse. God tends to use anything and everything.

Psalm 61:5 For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. 8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.

Two things stick out to me about verse 5. First off, God hears our vows. He hears us when we cry out to Him and He hears what it is we are saying. The bible is clear that God hears the prayers of His people and He tends to respond. Even in Judges 10, when we witness a scary part of scripture, God in the end relents and still hears the cries of His people. Just a testament to how His mercies endure forever and are new every morning. Something strikes me though, just how merciful is God. Well consider this without getting to lost in thought. God knows which promises you are going to keep and which ones you are going to break, yet He is still willing to listen to us in either case and in either case He is still willing to provide for us what we need so that we might be able to see them through. Whether you want to think so or not, God has given us or will give us just what we need to be pleasing and honorable to Him.

It may not always be the giant letter in the sky, sometimes it is a subtle thing. Even the very breath coming forth from your mouth right now, is God giving you what you need to fulfill whatever promise you have made to Him. It is when we pay attention to the little things that we realize just how forgiven we are, just how merciful He is, and just how much we needs Him. Why do I say that? Because it's clear this is the mindset we ought have. In Luke 7 when the woman comes and anoints Christ with oil and the pharisees are appalled that He would allow her to even touch Him, He responds to them and says "47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” This woman knew just how much she needed forgiveness, she understood just how blessed she was, she understood that despite the fact she lived the life of a harlot, the mere fact she was even breathing was by His mercy, and that every day she stood was one more day to please her Lord. That's where we need to be. We need to make the first step in our lives that of becoming broken. Like the sermon on the mount (which starts with blessed are the poor in spirit, i.e. the broken [Matt 5:3]), it all starts with the broken admission of inadequacy. It begins with God, who pierces our hearts, we respond, then He floods us, then He rebuilds. (Psalm 51:16-19)

When He makes promises to us, He is always good to provide us exactly what we need to go about fulfilling them. How do I know that? Look at the second half of verse 5, the word heritage in the hebrew means "to possess" and it's root word comes from the hebrew word for "to inherit." As Christians, I am sure we all make plenty of promises to God. We vow to Him we'll do a thing, whether it be waking up in the morning to meet Him in our room for some alone time or it be vowing our lives to purity, vowing our lives to waiting, vowing our lives to a ministry, vowing our lives to a person whom God has given us, vowing our lives to a ministry, whatever the case may be, we make vows to the Lord. In fact upon salvation, we made a vow to die to self, so if nothing else you have, as a Christian, made a vow to the Lord. The part that blows my mind is that He knows there will be days we won't die to ourselves, there will be days we won't listen, there will be days we will forget, and yet His promises remain true. It's these promises He floods us with, it's these promises we inherit once we become His children. His promises are many, and I can't list them all, but here's a few of my fav that in these days have held me up:

Lam 3:22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Isaiah 44:21 “ Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Isaiah 59:21 “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”

James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Numbers 14:8 If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Hebrews 13:5b For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “ The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

So I may have gone over, however, I have always been the kind of person that needs those reminders. I tend to forget what He has shown me, what He has told me. Putting question marks where He puts periods, I tend forget His promises. How faithful is our Lord though, that despite our faithlessness, He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13)

So now what? Well verse 8, now we praise His name, because I mean look at these promises, and given the fact that He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow, we can rest assured while we may fail, He won't. We praise His name knowing just how much we have been forgiven, knowing He won't deny our broken hearts, knowing He will forget our sin, knowing He will draw near to us, knowing He will give us the desires of our hearts, knowing he works all things for our good, knowing He has major plans for us (yeah add Jer 29:11-13 and Romans 8:28 to the above list). We praise Him, and in our praise, in our acknowledgement of His awesomeness we see our promises through, from the promise of death to self, to the vow you may very well make today.

One last word from an old friend of mine, may it be a daily reminder to how we must be when it comes to our words, both in our vertical relationship and in our horizontal ones:

James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

Keep all eyes on the cross. It is this alone that will keep that state of brokenness in your heart. The cross will break us, redeem us, restore us, renew us, rebuild us, replenish us, and ultimately deliver us into His hands on that day.

He created us, we rebelled, He flooded our hearts, gave us a promise, brought us out of Egpyt, scorched the unnecessary in the wilderness, destroyed the walls, built us a sanctuary in our hearts, gave us a King, gave us the wisdom, gave us His Word, redeemed us as harlots and made us royal diadems, took our filthy garments, gave us his robes of righteousness, gave us our Savior, then called us to be living letters....don't ever forget it....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cure the Cough...

1 Cor 15:12 " Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? "

For most of my life I have had asthma. In the past year it has gone away and is basically non-existent, aside from those moments where I get extremely sick. I remember when I was younger though my asthma was a major issue. There were days that I couldn't go without at least taking a puff of my medicine three times along with a pill every morning. There was a point though where I went for a while without the doctor. Not the wisest decision. I mean, I felt fine, I looked fine, I worked out fine, my breathing was fine, however, on the inside my lungs were just preparing for a breakdown.

One night after painting for a friend, I remember sitting down and having a nasty pain in my chest. Breathing became difficult. I was rushed to the hospital. The doctors gave me x-rays and medicine and for a while I was on a non-stop aerosol treatment. They gave me some medication and I walked out, only this time, I had the mind set of a person who wasn't going to toy with his asthma. I remember buying books on it and learning all I could about it so that I could make sure it didn't happen again.

When I sat down with a pulmonologist and really got into detail with asthma, it was then that I understood what the issue was, it was then that I really had a grip on where I was going wrong. What does all that have to do with the above verse, after all Paul wrote it as a question to the Corinthians because some of them doubted the resurrection. "Well Chris, I am not having an issue doubting the resurrection!" Are you now?

Paul uses the word say, however, these days we know that from our mouths come one thing, but our actions can speak something else. I think one of the diseases that plagues a lot of Christians these days, myself included, is that sometimes we tend to live our lives as if the resurrection never took place. Say What? Yeah, we live our lives lacking that zeal you would find from something as radical as the resurrection.

It is called being spiritually idle and if left untreated, you’ll end up spiritually dead. James warns us about this in James 2 when he tells us that faith without works is dead. Which is to say, faith should produce in us works, why? Well because when you come to realization of the resurrection that took place in your life when you were made new (2 Cor 5:17), that overwhelming joy should lead you to want to do good. Sometimes though, as Christians, we become idle, we lose focus. Why? We forget. But why do we forget?

I know for me, back when I forgot on an hourly basis, it had a lot to do with the microwave society we live in. These days there is something about patience that none of us seem to care to much for. We want stuff now. We forget “Be still and know that I am God”, we forget that God waited for us to come around, now it’s time we wait for His perfect plan to unfold (Isaiah 30:18). What’s interesting about impatience is that it goes hand in hand with weak faith. Patience comes from faith. How do I know? Because I lived it. I wanted the perfect life now. The perfect life comes later, right now it is all about living life for Him. Being patient. Patience is a sign of faith, because it means you are waiting on Him to do His work. You are waiting on Him to blow you up into what He wants you to be, and while you wait, you are to Prov 3:5-7 and Luke 10:27 it up. It is going to take patience, but it is worth it. 8 months have passed and I still don't understand how or why He has done what He has done. He is restoring my years (Joel 2:25). I love Him....

Ask James (James 1:2-4), patience makes us complete. Patience gives us a stronger faith. When we become impatient, it is a sign of a weak faith. We are like what James describes as a wave, tossed to and fro. What we need to realize is just how radical the resurrection is. We need to come to grips with just how awesome our God is. We need to let Him drop His God bomb and leave our hearts desolate of anything, so that He can take every last fragment and reconstruct the city He wants, the city on a hill, whose walls are solidified by the blood of His son.

So what does that have to do with asthma. Well, consider this: Imagine what would have happened had I only spent a few minutes with the doctor. Sure he would have given me some medication for my symptoms, however, he may not have figured out what the source of the issue is. A cough can easily be fixed, however, that still doesn't resolve the asthma issue, and like many drugs these days, over time that cough medication just would not have cut it. In the beginning I'm sure it would have sufficed, but eventually the asthma would have been severe enough that no amount of cough medication would have been able to stop it.

Now when I spent hours with the doctor, not only did he know I had a cough, but he got to the root of the issue. He got to my asthma. He then prescribed things to reduce my asthma and keep it at bay. Asthma isn't a curable disease at the moment, however, keeping it at bay is better than letting it run rampant. In the same way, we sometimes tend to treat the symptoms of our sin, rather than the root cause. What is at the root of it all? Why is it you curse so much? Why is it you lie so much? What is it causes you to be so insecure? Get to the root cause of the issue, don't just treat the symptoms. Spend time in the word AND prayer. You have to talk to the doctor about your issues. Sure God knows them, but He wants a relationship. Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

Get honest with Him, it is the only way you can be broken to the point where He can fix it. It's like cutting weeds, eventually they'll grow back. Now, rip them from the root, and they're gone. Treat the soil with anti-weed agents, and you'll keep them at bay. We can't get rid of sin, it's impossible, only after we stand in the His presence will we then be without it. However, we can be students of His word and apply those principles to our lives. His word is the antidote to our issue. The resurrection is more than just words in a book, it's life, and life to the fullest. It is freedom.

In his book the Prodigal God, Timothy Keller poses what I think is an awesome description of the radical change that takes place in our lives.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord -lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness- that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything: how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because it’s so radical. - Timothy Keller (The Prodigal God)

There is more to it than just living a good life. Don't just treat the symptoms, treat the cause, and be honest with yourself and Him, it's all He wants.....just admit're bankrupt without Him. We need Him, not His blessings, just Him. His greatest promise to us is Himself, everything else is just bonus, and imagine, we have Him, yet we always want more...what more is there?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Decisions, Decisions....

All morning I have had somewhere around 3 different blogs pop into my head, however, I can't seem to get them going. Writers block. How this is even coming together is beyond me, but then again, if I can't explain, then we know why it is.

Ever had writers block but in your own life? Ever been at a fork in the road? You know, where two paths are laid before you each going in a different direction? The kicker is when you don't know which way to go. I use the word kicker on purpose to downplay it, but in reality, it's rough. Having what seem to be two equally good paths before you and just not knowing which way to go.

On both roads you can see God's fingerprints mapping out your steps, however, you really have no clue which way to go? My advice to you, I don't know. I honestly don't know what to tell you and I say honestly because, seriously, I don't know. A lot of us have met the forks in the road on more than one occasion. Some of us have made decisions we initially thought were the best for us, only to find out they were anything but that. Others of us have made decisions thinking it was the pinnacle of what we wanted, only to find it was but a stepping stone that God used to get you where He wanted you.

Looking back at my life I am starting to see God's hand in places that at the time I never noticed. To think that God was so loving that even in my rebellion He was working in my favor, this blows my mind and just overwhelms me to point of tears. I look back to a year ago and how far away I was from God, I look to the kind of person I was and look at the things that mattered to me then. I can't explain it. He did it. (Coincidently, my iPhone is playing Glory to God right now... =])

A year ago I had just as many decisions to make as I have today. Most of them weren't the wisest, however, that doesn't mean He isn't going to use them. Do I wish I hadn't made those mistakes, let's be honest, who doesn't wish they could go back and alter their past. However, knowing what I know now, I'm not sure I would go back. As strange as it sounds, while those moments were painful, they were also necessary. Necessary because it was those broken moments, those dark, helpless moments, that God used to bring me to Him. The real question for me then is "Why were they necessary?"

Why God? Why would I have to go through that just to find You? At my desk at this very moment, I have the following verses written down, all taken from a sermon I heard about 5 months ago on God's plans and our plans:

Proverbs 16: 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established. 4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. 9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Gen 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

All this stuff wasn't necessary because it's how you come to salvation, no, I could have done that at any given moment with a simple prayer from my heart. These things were necessary because I made them necessary. See we tend to at times overcomplicate certain situations. Through massive amounts of overthinking and contemplation, we can easily take any simple decision and make it seem like that last question the SAT that will make or break your score.

God will always use our decisions at the end of the day for His glory. I am a walking testament of it. Every decision (mistake) I made in my life prior to coming to true repentence He used. How? Because it is my story, it is my Gomer moments that show the rest of the world how even a rebellious fool who mentally knew, yet rejected the cross, could be saved.

I don't normally do this until I finish, however, I am going to re-read this to see if it makes sense at all or if I'm completely crazy...makes some sense to me I guess lol. Let's continue.

Understand that sometimes, the decision isn't clear. Understand that sometimes God doesn't write it in the sky, because if He did, then there wouldn't be much faith to it. Sometimes He doesn't make it crystal clear because then we would be living by sight. What we have to remember is to seek His counsel and to seek the counsel of godly people (just a few, not the whole church) and then pray until we feel the tug, then go. And go knowing that no matter the outcome, He has you, no matter the result, He is going to use it to further His kingdom and to benefit you. Just keep in mind that sometimes His definition of benefit is different from ours, and sometimes we may see it initially as harmful, however, rest assured, it is for our benefit. He didn't promise we would understand His ways (Isa 55:8), but He did tell us He was about us (look to the cross for proof).

"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain." C.S. Lewis

Do I wish I could go back and change the past, yes. I wish I could go back and make myself then who I am today. But I can't, and to sit and wish I could is a waste. Instead I'll use my past. It'll be a constant reminder to me of just how much God loves. In those moments I get puffed with pride, those moments will be what bring me back to earth. Ever felt like you were born on third base, some of us in these moments think we actually hit a triple. Don't ever think that the place your in you got in because of your knowledge, your way with words, your above average looks. Never forget that the only reason you are even awake today is because He sustained you the night before (Psalm 3:5).

I am not giving you a free ride to go out and make every decision known to man and abuse His grace, that isn't what this about. This is about helping us all understand that our Father is working our favor, and while sometimes we won't have the clear answer, we will always have our unchanging God with us.

The more we think about Him using our decisions for His glory, the more we should want to make double sure that the decision we make is the best decision we have to offer. So at the end of the day, I don't know what you should do, but I do know what my God will do, and that's work for our good (Rom 8:28), but only if we delight ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4) and seek Him with our whole heart (Jer 29:13). Don't stop at "God works all things for the good" always remember to read "according to His purpose." What's His purpose.....I don't know, I just know it's a good one, and while I wait, I should be about His business...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I really don't know what to say....

Ineffable. It's all I have to say about this past week. I can't even get through this first paragraph without first crying. To think that God would show up in my own life and use me, filthy me, to do His work in others, it blows me away. I never deserved for a second to be in the position I was in this week, and yet, God set it up in such a way that clearly His hand has been moving in me and He has been doing everything in my life these past few months in order that I might be prepared for this week.

The question of the week for me was "So Chris, where were you this time last year?" "Lost" was my response. From here on I really don't know what else to say. I am still collecting my thoughts and trying to put them in a concise blog, however, I am finding it impossible at the moment. I can say this much. I am deeply moved by God. I can't even begin to describe, hence the use of the word ineffable. It is difficult to truly describe the overwhelming sense of awesomeness one feels when you ponder for a second how alive God is, when you ponder His forgiveness, something that I still have trouble accepting, when you ponder how the fact you even are awake in the morning is due to His mercy (Psalm 3:5)

Over the next few days I'll most likely be posting a whole mess of fun from what happened in camp to what God spoke to me.

What's interesting about camp was what God spoke to me on. It was something I didn't expect for a second, however, God got personal, and when He gets personal, it gets serious quick, and it is either listen and apply or get chastened. I chose the former.

To be short so that I don't ruin a future blog, God showed me how to be a real man and in that lesson includes how we as men must treat ladies, who, in His eyes, are His little girls.

That's all for today, sorry for the short blog....I know not like me at all, however, I am on a spiritual overload right now. God is just amazing.

It would do us all well to go through Matt 5-7 and just understand how it is God wants us to be.