Monday, December 29, 2008

A Test of Trust

Work went well today. We did quite a few format/re-installs today in order to be more productive. I've been working on fixing a website for another company as well. It is a little bit of a pain, but I am learning quite a bit. :) This evening, something upset me a great deal... probably more than anything has ever before. This is not at all a common occurrence, but I was truly upset. Part of it was probably selfish, but I know that much of it wasn't. I'll be honest, my first reaction was to come to the computer seeking someone to pray for me. Thankfully, there wasn't really anyone online. I say thankfully not because I don't need prayer support. I absolutely need prayer support, but I need Him most of all. He chose to not allow others to be available so that I would turn 100% to Him. He gave me Jeremiah 17. I started to read... not remembering what was in there. Verses 7-10 were exactly what I needed to hear.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

After reading this, I couldn't help but play the song, "Give Me Jesus" by Fernando Ortega. In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus... when I am alone, give me Jesus... when I come to die, give me Jesus... you can have all this world, but give me Jesus. I sat here in my chair and just wept. I don't tell you this because it's not often that a guy cries. I tell you this because He gives overwhelming peace and help in time of need, and I must not keep it to myself. He completely turned my heart from being completely upset to wanting nothing other than Him. He is all that any of us need!

Friday, December 26, 2008

His Leading Amazes Me

I'll be honest... there are sometimes that I feel like He is no where to be found, and other times where I feel like HE is guiding each and every step. I know that it isn't because He is changing... because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So either it is me, or He is choosing to use that sense of separation to draw me closer to Himself... regardless, His character is unchanging. A few days ago, God laid an old friend on my heart. I hadn't seen him for probably 4 or 5 years. I decided to search for him on facebook. I wasn't able to locate him on there, so I prayed for him and then gave up trying to find him. Well, I saw him at In N' Out today. Honestly, I wasn't sure if it was him or not, but I felt the Lord leading me to go and talk with him. I knew I should even though I might really make a fool of myself. Anyway, I did go and talk with him and it was him. :) I'm really not sure where he is at spiritually, and I don't know when we will get in contact again, but it was such an amazing thing to see how God had prepared my heart to be ready to go and talk with him when otherwise, I probably would have not talked with him if he didn't come and talk to me. It is such a huge blessing that we serve a God that is alive and active. He leads us wherever He chooses... and His ways are best! All of this to say... when He nudges your heart, listen and obey!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It has been our family tradition to open our gifts on Christmas Eve with my grandparents... which we did this afternoon. :) I was thinking about why we celebrate Christmas. We are celebrating the fact that He humbled Himself and came to earth as a man. What an incredible gift of love. It is fun blessing each other with gifts and all, but all of this stuff is going to burn someday. At the end of the day, He is all that matters. Yes, I love the tripod that my older sister got me, but there is more to life than that stuff. It reminds me of Matthew 16:26.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The fact is that we could literally gain everything the world has to offer and lose everything in the end. One question I like to ask myself (especially during the Christmas holidays) is, "Is God really all I need?" The obvious answer is, yes... but am I living in the in the reality of that? If He really is all I need, why do I want this stuff? Is He the center of my focus? To be honest, much of what I want is really quite self-centered. I would encourage you to consider the gifts you get as tools to help you do what He has called you to do more effectively. I'm not saying that I don't think God wants us to have fun and enjoy life. He commands us to rejoice, but it is important to keep an eternal mind-set even in these things.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am a College Graduate!

Well, I have finished my last final this morning. :) As I was driving to school this morning, I was praying that He would help me on my exam. After I asked Him for His help, I starting thinking about how amazing it is that I don't even deserve to live, no less be able to ask for His help on something as small as an exam and Him help me, yet He chooses to bless me with both life and help in the small things. It is incredible! I really can't fathom it. His love far exceeds what I can even imagine. I was talking with a friend about Psalm 40 this evening. Take a look at verses 1-5.
I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD. How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.

God's faithfulness is so constant. I have so often turned my own way. I am prone to wander from Him. To often, my heart seeks what I desire rather than what He desires. Oh, that I would trust the Lord and turn away from pride and falsehood. I need Him more than ever. The head knowledge that comes from graduating is great, and I know that the many hours of school was not wasted effort, but I also know that knowledge brings pride with it. I pray that He would keep me humble when my heart starts to be prideful. I need Him more than ever.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When things don't seem to be working out...

Church was awesome this morning. It is such a blessing to have continual Biblically-based teaching from the pulpit. :) Yes, it is how it should be, but it seems to be rather rare in today's culture. We have been studying Exodus and we are at the part where the Israelites are trapped by the Egyptian army. Take a look at Exodus 14:1-12.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. "For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the
heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

The first thing I notice here is the providence of God. God has the people turn around so cause Pharaoh to think that the Israelites don't know where they are going. He does this to show everyone that He is the Lord! Now think of this from the Israelites perspective... walking all day... or several days... and then being told to turn around and go right back where you came from. It would be a bit disheartening for sure. No doubt it's hot out there and walking in the middle of the desert isn't the funnest thing ever. Now notice the incredible reaction of Israel when they get scared... they cried out to God! This is a great example for us when we face hard times. We must realize that He is in control. However, immediately after this, they go back to Moses and complain. Not only do they complain, but they wish they were back in Egypt. Remember that first Passover night?!? It is like the greatest night in all of Israel's history, and the people want to go back! Do you remember what was in the pillar of clouds (by day) and pillar of fire (by night)? It was God Himself! Not only were the Israelites wanting to leave Moses, they would rather choose slavery in Egypt and life than being with God. This is a very sobering thing. How often to I quickly go to my own ways to figure out how to solve problems? The initial thought of dependence on the Lord is great, but when the rubber meets the road, is my heart longing for Him, or am I trying to figure out things on my own? Contrast this with Philippians 1:21 where Paul says, "to live is Christ and to die is gain."... or Psalm 63:3 where David says that God's lovingkindness is better than life. I think it is something that all of us need to think about continually. Is He really all we need, or are we depending on our own strength when the tough times (or easy times) come?

Friday, December 12, 2008

School is almost done!

I can't believe that it's been over two weeks since Thanksgiving. Time flies when you are having fun... or having finals. ;) I can't say enough how amazing it is that God brings me through some of this stuff. Sometimes there is too much to do for the little bit of time that I have, but somehow, God makes a way for it to get done. He blessed me with 100% on my software engineering final. He blessed me with a C in discrete math. Yes, that blessing was a painful and humbling one to accept, but He knows what is best. I almost didn't get to take that class at all, so even though I had to learn it on my own and the teacher didn't fully understand it, I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to do it. God is good! I have yet to receive my other grades, but I think they are pretty decent. :) I have one last final next Thursday in Linear Algebra, but that one shouldn't be too bad. A day without school today was absolutely wonderful. I actually got to spend some more time in the Word. I was able to spend time learning things that I want to learn rather than things I have to learn. Don't get me wrong, school is important and challenging. We will not always get to do what we want to do, and it is important to learn how to do well in the things we don't really like to do. All the same, it was refreshing to not have that for a day. :) This seems like a rather empty post, so I must include a little of what I am learning in James 4:1-7.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives a greater grace Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

There are so many things that we want. Let's be honest here... we are naturally very self-centered people. Yes, we aren't committing murder (at least I hope we aren't), but we are full of self-centered living. We generally don't ask Him for things that we know He wouldn't give us, so we try to use our own ways to get those things. If we have the guts to ask Him, we already know that it isn't what He has in mind for us. We simply can't desire the pleasures of the world and live for God at the same time. In all this, it is an unbelievable blessing that He chooses to give us grace. I am thankful for that C, because I am prone to be proud. It serves as a reminder to me that He is in control of everything. That 100% is His; that C is His. The results belong to Him. God is opposed to the proud, and I am thankful that He blessed me with a C in order to keep me humble. He is good!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone once again. I have so many things to be thankful for this year, I can't even count them all. I did a quick word search for things pertaining to thankfulness in the Bible. Thankfulness needs to be a bigger part of my life for sure. Here are ten things that I am thankful for. These are by no means the only ten things I am thankful for, but these are things that have been important over the last year.
  1. I am thankful for the Word which continually shapes my heart through the power of God.
  2. I am thankful for His faithfulness when I am unfaithful.
  3. I am thankful for His unending grace and compassion when I sin.
  4. I am thankful for my family and the unending love they show me even when I hurt them.
  5. I am thankful for my church and the teaching of the Word through Pastor Tim.
  6. I am thankful for friends that encourage me in the Lord during the hard times.
  7. I am thankful to God for providing the necessary finances to get through school without loans and to have the jaw surgery this summer.
  8. I am thankful for the trials that He brings me through in order to change me to be more like Himself.
  9. I am thankful for a job that is flexible with hours and is enjoyable.
  10. I am thankful for His conviction when I sin, and His encouragement when I am obedient to Him.

Here are just a few things that I found in the Word about thanksgiving...
  • The Israelites had a sacrifice dedicated to thanksgiving to the Lord (Leviticus 22:29).
  • Some Levites were appointed for the purpose of thanking and praising God (1 Chronicles 16:4).
  • We are told both to give thanks to Him and to make known the amazing things that He has done (1 Chronicles 16:8).
  • The Levites were to thank and praise God every morning and every night (1 Chronicles 23:30)
  • Throughout the Psalms, we see a whole lot of thanksgiving (Psalm 6:5, Psalm 7:17, Psalm 9:1, Psalm 18:49, Psalm 26:7, Psalm 28:7, Psalm 30:1, Psalm 30:4, Psalm 30:12, Psalm 33:2, Psalm 35:18, Psalm 42:4, Psalm 44:8, Psalm 45:17, Psalm 50:14, Psalm 50:23, Psalm 52:9, Psalm 54:6, Psalm 56:12, Psalm 57:9, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 75:1, Psalm 79:13, Psalm 86:12, Psalm 92:1, Psalm 95:2, Psalm 97:12, Psalm 100:4, Psalm 105:1, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 106:47, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 107:15, Psalm 107:15, Psalm 107:21-22, Psalm 108:3, Psalm 109:30, Psalm 111:1, Psalm 116:17, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 118:19, Psalm 118:28-29, Psalm 119:7, Psalm 119:62, Psalm 122:4, Psalm 136:1-3, Psalm 136:26, Psalm 138:1-2, Psalm 138:4, Psalm 139:14, Psalm 140:13, Psalm 142:7).
  • We should thank Him for His goodness (Jeremiah 33:11).
  • We should thank Him for wisdom and power (Daniel 2:23).
  • We should give thanks for our daily sustenance (Matthew 15:36).
  • We should thank God for the faith of others being proclaimed (Romans 1:8).
  • One of the characteristics of foolishness is a lack of thanksgiving (Romans 1:21).
  • We should give thanks to God for victory over sin (Romans 6:17).
  • We should thank God for His grace (1 Corinthians 1:4).
  • We should thank God for helping us avoid tough circumstances (1 Corinthians 1:14).
  • We should thank God for the victory we have in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
  • We should thank people for their prayers (2 Corinthians 1:11).
  • We should thank God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).
  • We should never stop giving thanks for others (Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3).
  • We are to make our requests known to God with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).
  • We should thank God for the inheritance that He has given us as His children (Colossians 1:12).
  • Everything we do should include an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
  • We should give thanks to God for our strength (1 Timothy 1:12).
  • We will worship Him, giving thanks to Him forever (Revelation 4:9).

There are so many more, but I wanted to go through these to show you the importance of thanksgiving. It is not that Thursday in November every year... we need to be giving thanks daily! I challenge you to think of three things you are thankful for as soon as you get frustrated or upset at someone or a situation. I think it will completely change your outlook. There really are so many things we have to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Presenting a Heart of Wisdom

I am very grateful for Thanksgiving break. I actually get the entire week off minus one class tomorrow morning! It really isn't a week off in that I have a whole lot of work to do, but I am very thankful that I have time to work on my projects and papers. God is good! It's hard to believe that I will be graduating in less than 30 days (Lord willing). I read Psalm 90 this evening and found verse 12 to be very practical and encouraging.
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

The verse is very simple, but very important as well. It is important to realize that we do not know how many days we have on earth. I was thinking about this the other day when I was driving by a road construction area. They had several huge tractors digging up the road and dumping it to the right. I was thinking about how one wrong move could cause that huge metal digging thing (whatever they call it) to go right into me. The same could happen with a car or truck on the freeway. It really doesn't take much. It serves as a good reminder to me that I need to make good use of my time here and be wise in my decisions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two New Experiences

School has been rough the last couple weeks, but God has been good. I took a test on Tuesday for Discrete Math and it was nothing like I expected it to be. I hate that! I know that God is in control though... and humility is a good thing. I honestly thought I got something like 65%, but I ended up with 76%. While I am very much less than thrilled with the grade, I am thankful for His help and grace while keeping me humble. You may find this to be funny, but I had two new experiences today. The first one was that I played ping pong at school. Since I started going to La Sierra, I have not participated in any extra things other than baseball. A guy that is in most of my classes asked if I wanted to play ping pong when we got out of lab early today, so I did. I have had quite a few opportunities to talk with him about stuff that really matters. I am quite confident that he is a Christian and is growing in the Lord. It has been a great blessing to see God working in his heart over the last couple years. The second new thing is that I went to the music practice rooms for the first time since I've been at La Sierra. When I was at Cal Baptist, I used to spend at least 30 minutes a day in the practice rooms. It was time that I was able to spend alone with Him. I really miss that time. I had some extra time where I didn't need to be cramming material in my head for a test or something, so I spent over a half hour in there. It was very much refreshing. I'm not sure how profitable the ping pong time was although I was surprised when I met a couple other guys that were freshmen... they both said, "I think you are the first senior that I've met." This was encouraging to me in that it reminded me that as a senior, I do have a little bit more natural influence than I would otherwise. It was good making a couple new connections with guys and learning about them. If you would pray that God would open some doors of opportunity to talk with them more about Him, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm not big on the social life there (obviously), but I do want to make an impact for Him. I know that it is easy to get sucked into all the trash out there, so I need His wisdom and guidance to balance this with my time spent alone with Him.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Next Step

I have officially joined the first team handball league in the US. I am quite excited about it. It should lend itself to many opportunities to talk about Christ with other guys. Please pray that God would open doors of opportunity. :) My first real game is tomorrow! I am stoked! Right now, it's looking like I'll be working when I graduate and doing graduate school online. I'd like to go for my doctorate and skip the masters degree, but we'll see what God has in mind. I was just thinking tonight about the times in Awana when we were studying for Bible quiz on the book of Romans. We were challenged to read the whole book of Romans every day for a week. What an incredible blessing that was. I really miss that kind of longer reading. I greatly look forward to having time to do some massive studying of the Word like that again. Anyway, I decided to go back to Romans and take it a chapter at a time (chapter 1 today). With the whole proposition 8 issue here in CA, it seemed to fit in quite well. Please do take a look at what God says about homosexuality in Romans 1:21-32, but there is a whole lot more to it than this passage. Remember that we can never justify our sins because someone else is sinning.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Here are several things that jump out to me...

1) The importance of honoring Him and giving thanks.

2) The importance of humility.

3) The importance of not choosing our own way, but trusting and being obedient to the One who created us.

4) We must realize that sometimes God gives us what we want and allows us to bear the consequences of our decisions. Just because we feel like we are getting away with sin for a time doesn't mean that consequences aren't coming. They are!

5) One of the results of going are own way is homosexuality. Homosexuality is simply telling God that we think we have a better way than how He ordained.

6) Rather than getting stuck on the homosexuality issue (which still is important), I think that most of us do not struggle with that issue. Most of us struggle with the other things such as... unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, strife, deceit malice, gossiping, slandering, hatred of God, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, inventing evil, disobeying parents (or other authorities), choosing not to understand, being untrustworthy, being unloving, and being unmerciful.

All of these things (as well as homosexuality) are worthy of death, but God in His grace has sent Christ to take our punishment. While I think homosexuality and other sexual sins are somewhat on a higher level because it involves another person, it is deserving of death just like all other sins. As Christians, we need to put a whole lot more focus on the sin that we struggle with daily than we are right now. I realize that homosexuality is a hot topic right now, and it is important to fight for truth. I don't believe that homosexuals are born that way, and if they are, God has promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 to give them a way out of sinning. In the same way, God has given each of us a way out of all of these other sins too. We cannot get so focused on the issue of homosexuality that we miss all of these other things that we struggle with on a daily basis. We need to fight for truth in all of these areas! Maybe if we stepped it up as Christians and were obedient to His ways, God-honoring marriages would be seen in America again. Frankly, it is pretty sickening that half of Christian marriages end in divorce. God hates divorce just like He hates homosexuality and yet we seem to be so permissive about divorce. I am not saying that we should be any more permissive about homosexuality, but rather than we shouldn't be so permissive when it comes to divorce. It is something God hates! Let's step it up and be fully committed to Him in all areas of our lives... not just the obvious external ones. God looks at the heart!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New President

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been extremely busy. I have three tests and two quizzes this week as well as tons of homework due. For this reason, I am going to keep this very brief, but I wanted to share some thoughts on the election. While Obama is not the candidate that I wanted to see in office, he is the one that God has put in office. I find great peace in this! I also find great peace in Proverbs 21:1.

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Honestly, I don't think he is a natural born citizen of the United States, but regardless, he has been placed in this position [by God] for now and I completely embrace it and trust God in His decision. To be honest, I am excited about what God is going to do. I know that He would not do it if it wasn't best. This may result in tougher times for us as Christians, but I think it will make us stronger and more committed to Him. I can think of no better words to describe my feelings than what Paul said in Philippians 1:18 "... in this, I rejoice. Yes, I will rejoice!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Still Trusting Him

It's been a bit of a rough week, but God is good! I really am very overloaded with school. I have never felt this overloaded in my life... so I guess it means that I have to keep trusting Him to get me through. I hate taking shortcuts when it comes to school, but I may have to at some point. Another thing that is a little bit on the rough end is that I need the clutch on my car replaced. They quoted it as $717. I don't have anything close to this in the bank account... so I am learning to trust Him some more! He can definitely provide the money. It is still drive-able at this point, but it needs to be done soon. I know He will provide in some way or another. It won't necessarily be easy, but I know that it will be good for me to trust Him. Bible study was great as usual tonight. I was kind of in a rush trying to get music together. My printer decided to not want to work at exactly the wrong time. :) Anyway, we studied Revelation 4 and the rapture. One of the passages we looked at was 1 Timothy 6:14 which talks about remaining pure until He returns. I decided to take a look at that chapter when I got home. It really is an awesome chapter. Here are just a few things that caught my attention in verses 6-16.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

I find it interesting that godliness is coupled with contentment. When we understand who He is and what He is about, we start wanting what He wants for us... this yields contentment. :) I find the phrase "take hold of eternal life" to be interesting. I think this relates to the love of money idea. As soon as he finished telling us to flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, etc., he points us to what we are to cling to--eternal life! I love the call to be obedient without "stain or reproach" until He returns. That is a very tough calling, but a powerful one. We need to live lives of full commitment to Him!

On a random note... you may be wondering why I usually remove the verse numbers from the verses. The fact is that the verse numbers are not inspired... and I find that they can make it harder to read it how it was written. I'm not saying that references are bad... they are extremely helpful! I just think it's easier to read without them at times. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pursuing Nothing Less Than Excellence

This is more of an encouragement to the young ladies out there, but I think it applies to both guys and girls... just in different ways. I was asked to write up a little something for a camp of young ladies... just so you know that this isn't what I spend all day doing. :)

Women are often pictured as caring and loving. This is a great thing to be pictured as... but it carries a down-side with it too. If love is not mixed with discernment, it can lead to emotional attachment and heart-break. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen in many cases. Both the young man and the young woman are responsible for their roles in this... if either one were doing what He wanted them to do, it most likely would not lead to such heart-break. Take a look at Philippians 1:9-11.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Several things pop out to me instantly. Love isn't something that needs to be hidden in order to remain pure physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. God wants love to grow, but it must be the proper kind of love. How do we know if it's the proper kind of love? It is when love is growing in knowledge and discernment. When love is within the boundaries of knowledge and discernment (a God-given discernment), the natural result is that we approve the things that are excellent. I have seen on the university campuses many times where a young man will play with a young lady's emotions. He gives her compliments and frankly... most young ladies like compliments and attention. The thing that is missing is a God-centered focus and discernment. These young ladies are approving of things that are not excellent. Paul goes on to say that approving the things that are excellent is for the purpose of remaining sincere and blameless until He comes again. Paul also points out that a person must have been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes only through Jesus Christ, and it is for His glory. It is not a matter of trying harder. It is a matter of depending on Him for discernment, and living a life full of the fruit of His righteousness so that we only approve of the things that are excellent. When that young man gives you the words you want to hear... depend on Him... use the discernment that He has given... ask yourself if God would say that this is excellent. I am not talking about all compliments, but rather the ones that cause you to feel more loved and wish for things that you ought not have at this point in life. I see that young ladies often are tempted to think things like.. "oh, he noticed me". I urge you to think about these things with His discernment. Be respectful, but do not settle for less than what God calls excellent.

Side note for guys: Knowing how young ladies have some of these temptations... we have a huge responsibility before God to do what we can to keep them pure physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Friday, October 10, 2008

No Complaining?!?

We had Bible study again tonight. It continues to be a blessing and encouragement... especially after a long week of school and stress. It's so refreshing to set there with like-minded believers and sing together, pray together, listen to the Word together. It really is a highlight of my week. We are still studying Revelation. Looking at the letters to the churches... it is so important that we are living for Him. There is such amazing blessing for those that stay true until the end! The world with all it's pleasures is nothing in comparison to the infinite riches that come with a life lived completely for Him!

Philippians 2 has been a blessing these last few days. A couple things that really stood at to me are in verses 1-3 and 14-16.

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
From verses 1-3, I am reminded of the importance of having the same mind. As Pastor Tim would say... pulling in the same direction. I am also reminded of how important it is to be humble and put others first. What a difference it would make in conflicts and stuff if we would just humble ourselves and put the other person above ourselves. From verses 14-16, I am reminded that I am to do everything without grumbling (complaining). I've been thinking about that. How often do I complain about having so much homework and all of that? The whole point of not complaining is to show others that I am a child of God. Practically speaking, I think just being obedient to that one command would make a huge impact on the people around us. When they see us going through hard times and yet we don't complain about it... what an awesome testimony to God's unlimited faithfulness!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fireproofing Before Marriage

Jonathan had a soccer game this morning and he scored his first goal of the season! :) It was a lot of fun to watch (and yell). He played a very good game. We went down to Cal Baptist to play some ultimate frisbee and it ended up not working out. A bunch of the guys that usually play were practicing flag football. Mom, Christina, Jonathan, and I still threw the frisbee around a bit, but we didn't really play a game.

We went and watched Fireproof for the first time this evening. Honestly, it was an amazing movie. It showed me how hard marriage can be, and showed me that there is infinite hope in Christ. I won't ruin it for those of you that haven't had the opportunity to see it, but it is a must see. It got me thinking a lot about what I am doing now to make my future marriage "fireproof". The reality is that I can never know 100% that my marriage is going to last until "death do us part." That is a really sobering fact. Even more sobering than that is that I could be the reason for it if I am not committed to Christ. While those are things that come into play after marriage, there is so much preparation before marriage. It's not like you "fall in love" and then you go get married. It involves years of training (mostly through parents). It also involves hard work... to maintain a high level of commitment to that future spouse even if you don't know who it will be. If we can't be committed as a single, there is no way we should expect to be committed as a spouse. Things don't just happen all of a sudden. It comes with much time spent with the Lord in prayer and in the Word... and being obedient to those things. There is no official "fireproof" for a marriage other than Christ. He is the ultimate source of everything that we need to make a marriage not only work, but blossom. I found the movie a great encouragement to be continually committed to His ways before I head towards a marriage relationship with that special young lady.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ethics... or the lack thereof!

In that same ethics class, we talked about a couple different situations mentioned in our textbook. The main one we talked about involved the owner of a software company and salesman from an advertising company. Long story short, the owner of the software company hired a bunch of people for just that day and had people call in as fake calls to make it look like their phones were ringing off the hook. He also made a media mock-up and crossed out the advertising company that was coming to his office so that they would give him a better deal. In reality, the owner of the software company could not pay $20,000 for the advertisement that he wanted in that magazine, and didn't have the credit to support himself, so he deceived the salesman. It ended up working out and they sold like $125,000 worth of software. The question was if it was ethical or not (for both parties). Believe it or not, I was the only one that said that the guy was unethical for making his company look like it was doing really well and stuff in order to get this advertisement put on credit with no way of paying it back if his idea failed. It is a sad world out there! These business majors are all ready to graduate with the idea that things like this are perfectly okay in the business world. No wonder we have such financial crisis in the United States right now! It would be nice to have business men and women that are committed to being ethical even when it is painful. It's sad that people feel the need to resort to lying and deceiving in order to make some money. Please keep me in prayer as I have started to see a pattern of me being the only one on my end of the equation. I'm very thankful that my teacher generally shares my views. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Are we like Ephesus?

We have been studying Revelation in Bible study at Cal Baptist. I am so thankful for men like Mr. Babb who take the time to study the Word in great depth in order to present it to us at Bible study. Not that we shouldn't be checking to see if it is true, but it is truly a blessing. It's been a great joy leading worship as well. One thing that God brought to my attention tonight during the study is that we can be like the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-3) having thought through almost everything... checking to see if there are false teachers, maintaining a high level of doctrine... and still lose our first love (Christ).
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot
tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles,
and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance
and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.

That is very sobering to me. By all outward appearances, they were doing everything right! It seems almost impossible for that to happen, but I guess when we are relying on our own strength in these things, we are prone to lose our first love. What a tragic thing! I pray that we would have a balance of upholding high standards in doctrine and yet be completely 100% dependent on the Author of the doctrine. He is the One that we need to depend on.

I had lunch with Pastor Tim today. He is such a blessing and encouragement to me. We talked a bit about what God might be doing in my life in the near future. Yes, that sounds rather abstract, but really, it is so much fun looking at the situations that God has put me in to make me who I am, and to try to peak into what He is leading me toward in the more long-term way. I am extremely excited about what He is doing and what He will do. Graduating in December (Lord willing) and being really not sure what God is leading me to do next, is both scary and very exciting (more on the exciting end)! I could go directly into grad school and get my doctorate, but I am not sure that I should go that direction or not. I do want to work toward my doctorate degree, but I could do that online as well. Obviously, I want to come to the point where I am ready to support a family when that time comes. I've been researching a bit, and extra degrees are likely to help in the initial application process, but they seem to care more about experience than degrees. I'm thinking maybe work full time and start working on my doctorate online or something. I don't know yet. We'll see where God opens and closes doors. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Absolute Truth

On Wednesday, one of my teachers asked the class of about 32 students if they believed in absolute truth. At first, I thought maybe I had mis-heard the question because no one put their hand up. After a moment of him looking around, I knew that I must have heard him correctly and put my hand up. I look around... and I am the only one. I had always heard about things like this happening, but never fully experienced it until this senior capstone class with 30+ other seniors. He began questioning... "really, is there only one person in this class that believes in absolute truth?" The tone of his voice was encouraging... I thought I was about to get blasted with all sorts of arguments against absolute truth. After asking a few more times, the guy next to me put up his hand (probably because I did). After the teacher asked him some questions, it pretty much confirmed that he did not believe in absolute truth. It turns out that my teacher actually believes in absolute truth! I was quite thrilled. It was definitely a sobering experience knowing that all of those students are about to be the next business owners in the world, and they have nothing concrete to hold onto! I can't even imagine what it would be like to live in a world with no absolute truth. I guess that would give everyone the complete freedom to create their own gospel. Maybe that is why we are seeing such wide acceptance of all religions as ways to heaven (even amongst "Christian" pastors). Let me tell you, the absolute truth is that we have sinned and deserve hell, yet He has given us one and only one way to escape hell, and that is through Christ's death and resurrection. Join me in prayer for these people who have allowed themselves to put their ideas above the consequences for sin which are clearly spelled-out in scripture. This people need to be submissive once again to the One who is the source of all absolute truth. I am reminded of Philippians 2:9-11.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The truth is that every one of us will bow to the source of all absolute truth regardless of if we believe in Him or not. He is not a God that goes based on what we think is the way to heaven. He is creator and ruler. Let's be submissive to Him now, not only when we have no choice. Don't think that we are above the temptation to put ourselves above the absolute truth of scripture. This is a "Christian" institution... definitely not the most godly of instructors, but all the same... it's classified as a "Christian" school. There are future pastors in this group. This is scary to me!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Memorial Service

I went to the memorial service of Mr. Souser (one of the people that died in the train crash over a week ago) yesterday. Honestly, it was the best memorial service I have ever been to. God was completely glorified. There was a lot of emphasis on what he would have want said at his memorial service. He wouldn't have wanted it to be about him, but rather about God. The gospel was made clear several times during the service. It was presented with completely boldness. It was very refreshing. The music was incredible... many great hymns as well as a worship dance to "I Can Only Imagine." The message was about Christ conquering death... and Christ being our life. The greatest tragedy isn't the way men die, but rather the way they live (in many cases); however, it was Christ that lived though Mr. Souser... there was no loss. Remember the words of Paul... "to die is gain!" What a blessing it was to hear about the legacy this man left. He led his family in devotions each morning. He was committed to his family and to the Lord. If I understand it correctly, he doesn't even usually take that train, but he was going home to cook tri-tip steak for his family. Even up to his dying moments, he was putting his family first. What an awesome example. Obviously, Christ is our ultimate example, but it is a blessing to have godly men go before us and show us what it is to really live for God. I couldn't help but think through Colossians 3 as I was listening to people talk about him. For me, it was a rekindling of the fire in my heart to live completely for Him. It is soo worth it!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Depending on Him Revisited

I really have been meaning to post more on here. I guess it's not the end of the world. God has been working in my heart once again in the area of depending on Him. It turns out that I had three classes scheduled for the same time which was completely beyond my control. I've spent the whole last week talking back and forth with different people. One of the classes has been changed. :D God is good! I still have a few things to work out.

1) This discrete math class that I was planning on taking at UCR, I won't be able to take... so I am requesting a directed study for it at La Sierra.

2) I have talked with my advisor about a directed study for my operating systems class, but I haven't heard anything recently... and I haven't registered for it, so I need to work that out on Monday as well.

3) I still need to register for my internship units, but need special approval from someone.

If you would keep me in prayer for these things, that would be great. Tomorrow at 2pm, I go to the memorial service of the dad of a boy in my cabin at camp this summer. His dad (Mr. Souser) died in the train crash a week ago. If you would keep the Souser family in your prayers... and me as I try to be an encouragement (specifically to Zach), that would be excellent.

This last minute stuff with school is definitely less than ideal, but there is such peace knowing that if God wants me to graduate in December, He will make it happen! :) It really does help me to depend fully on Him. Lately, I've been encouraged by the Psalms. I was thinking about Psalm 91 quite a bit this last week, and it is such a blessing to be able to hide under the shelter of His wings.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

He is Coming Again!

This last weekend, I learned how to play team handball. For those of you that don't know what it is, you can probably find it online. :) It's not like the 4th grade handball up against the garage. It's more like water polo on land. It's awesome! I saw it in the Olympics and honestly, I'd like to play it in the 2012 games if the US has a team. I think it is do-able... I'm just not sure if I want to commit to something like that. A couple of the guys told me that I could play on the national team if I was committed enough. Obviously, most of the people (if not all) would be unsaved. It would be challenging in that way for sure. I'm praying about it at this point. I only want to do it if He would be glorified. I know it would likely create a lot of opportunities to talk about Him, but I also know the risks involved in going among the unsaved for extended periods of time. It takes a lot of commitment to the Word and to prayer as well as encouragement from those within the body of Christ. If you would keep me in prayer about this, that would be excellent. :) Work has been a lot of fun. I've had the opportunity to work on a few different projects. We just had a meeting with a guy about a new project that we will be starting soon if all goes as planned. It's looking like about a $100,000 project by the time it's done. I'm writing out the specifications for it at work. It's going to be pretty cool I think. At Bible study on Friday nights, we are starting a series on Revelation. I read Matthew 24 today. It was such an encouragement being reminded that He is coming again. He will win in the end! So often I find myself getting caught up in the concerns of this earth... what happens if we get a bad president... etc. The fact is that He has everything under control! It brings such amazing peace.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Life getting busy...

Believe it or not, I have only started one class thus far. I have been working a whole lot though. School is going to be really expensive since I am going to three schools and taking excess credits. God will provide though. He always does! :) I had a great opportunity the other day to talk with a guy that I kind of work with. Basically, he works on the computer fixing side of the company, and I work on the programming side. He is definitely unsaved, but seems very open. He shared with me some recent life struggles that he has had. He wouldn't strike you as a nice person based on ear rings and stuff, but there is something behind all of that. It was definitely a step in the right direction. :) I had just been praying for opportunities too! God is awesome! Please keep him in prayer... and me as I plan on doing some follow up with him. I'd like to invite him to church. I also talked with a guy that has fallen away from the Lord. I had talked with him a couple months back, and had a very difficult time getting a hold of him after that. It seems like his heart is changing. He said that he would probably go to church if he wasn't working so much... which was a big step from what it said last time I talked with him. God is working! Anyway, I am exhausted and need to finish homework. I spent under an hour home between 7 am and 11:30 pm. It's been a full day, but a very good one. I hope to update this a little bit more often. It seems like I am finding lots of other things to do right now, but I find that this helps me to remember the things that God has done much like the Israelites had all those feasts and stuff to remember what God had done for them in the past. It is important!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A lesson about greed

Summer is pretty much over. I have started one class at MSJC now. If all goes as planned, I will be taking a class at UCR and 5 classes at La Sierra as well. It's going to be a very busy quarter! It'll be a total of 24.5 credits (I think). Really, it won't be quite that bad because 2 of those credits are internship... and I just need to write a paper for that before I'm done. :) I also have some financial stuff to work out. With going to three schools also comes an added amount of financial issues, but God will provide. Today we learned about greed at church. We studied Luke 12:13-21.

Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

It is important to realize that greed comes in different forms. It isn't one of those things that jumps out at you. It is something that you have to watch carefully for. Greed is also at the center of impurity (Ephesians 4:19). It is even put on the same level (to some extent) as immorality (Ephesians 5:3). We ought not be "reasoning to ourselves." God should be the center of our reasoning. We need to be pursuing things of eternal value. To be rich toward God means that He is the treasure and we are serving Him with all that we are. To do everything as unto the Lord should be our goal!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back from Colorado

It has been a really long time since I have written anything on here, so I figured I should say something so not everyone thinks that I died or something. I have been in Colorado. It was an amazing trip! God blessed in so many different ways from the check engine light turning off to playing paintball, to being able to surprise my parents with a limo and a night in the Glen Eyrie castle for a night. It was a blast! One of my friends from VA (Stephen) came over today and we went to Knott's Berry Farm. There was practically no lines for the rides! :) We got to do everything we wanted to do plus more. Tomorrow we are going to go jet skiing and surfing (if all goes as planned). It should be fun. I need to hit the sack. More later!

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Sensitive Conscious

Work was fun today. There was a program that I did for one of my school projects that my boss had told me about. I wanted my school project to be useful not just completing an assignment. Today, I actually got to work on it some more and make it work on one of the servers at work. I manually installed it on one of the laptops so that someone can start entering time sheets for the time spent on different projects. I kind of hope that we can sell it if we make it a bit more robust... add reports and stuff to it. After that, I finished testing the website that I had been working on for the last few weeks. It wouldn't publish correctly, but I was able to use command prompt to compile it correctly. :) It was a good learning experience. :) I worked on some linear algebra last night. I need to do a whole lot more on it, but I'm glad that I got started at least. I read 1 Samuel 24 this evening. I was reminded of how important it is to be sensitive to the Spirit. This comes through continual obedience to Him and quick repentance of sin. Take a look at this example of David when Saul was trying to kill him in verses 4-7.

The men of David said to him, "Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'" Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. It came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe. So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD'S anointed." David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way.

I know that if that was me, my conscious wouldn't bother me at all. After all, Saul deserves to be killed, so cutting off a piece of his robe is nothing right? Wrong! I am reminded that we are deserving of death, and for Him to choose to do something such as paralyze us would be nothing... and yet He has chosen to give us grace. If He does have us suffer, we are completely deserving of it, His grace is still there... and it is for our good. My conscious really isn't that sensitive. I tend to see things through artificial standards. I justify wrong actions in my mind because "they really deserved a lot more." I need to be a young man full of grace and forgiveness, someone who is sensitive to the still small voice of the Spirit when He corrects me, someone who is quickly obedient to Him when He makes the slightest correction. God, renew in me a sensitive conscious, and help me be obedient!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Strong Confidence

Today was kind of insane... but it was a total blast at the same time. My parent's 30th anniversary is on the 12, but since we will be in Colorado, we wanted to do something now--a surprise! The idea was to have a bunch of friends and family come over and do a potluck kind of surprise party. After thinking a while about ways to get dad and mom out of the house, I decided to make it official and RSVP them for lunch at Claim Jumpers (mom's favorite) for 1 pm... the party was scheduled for 2 pm. I included some cash in there to make sure that they went. I was surprised by how easy it was to get them to go. Not only did they go like I expected... they both dressed up! I couldn't believe it. When they got back, they didn't notice the random cars on the street. :) We had probably 50 people or so if you count everyone. Probably the two that were the most surprising... my sister and her family came down from Northern CA, and one of mom's friends from 28 years ago came. The hadn't seen each other since mom stopped teaching with her. Seeing her reaction when she saw that friend was well worth all the effort that we put into it. Everyone did a fantastic job on the food. Our pastor's wife made a wedding (anniversary) cake that was incredible! I am told that the potatoes were amazing. Grandma Pat always has the best mac & cheese... today was no different (I don't usually like mac & cheese, but hers is awesome). :D Aunt Caren made a great fruit salad in a pretty watermelon bowl that she carved. Some friends from church brought a salad... another one took all the chicken off the bones to make it easy. Everyone went above and beyond for my parents. I can't ever thank them enough. The party wouldn't have been the same without any of them. I uploaded a video here of their first reaction. :)

I read 1 Samuel 23 this evening. Jonathan must have been a man of faith. During the time when his father (Saul) was chasing David, Jonathan went and found David and said... (verse 17)

Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also."

I love the confidence with which Jonathan speaks. He even went as far to say that Saul (his father) knows that David will be king and can't do anything about it even though he is trying. What an awesome example of fearing the Lord rather than men! May God fill us with a strong confidence in Him!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

When obedience doesn't work out (or does it?).

I've been enjoying work, but I must admit that I was a bit tired after work today. Part of that probably had to do with the fact that Jack in the Box give very little for what you pay, but we won't go there. ;) We are going to try to get this site posted live tomorrow. My boss had been editing the code every time she posted it or tried to run it on the local machine haha... I just a bunch of "if" statements so that she wouldn't have to do that any more. I can't even imagine how many times she had to do that. I was reading in 1 Samuel 22 today. The priests had just taken care of David as he was fleeing from Saul. When Saul called them and questioned them, he decided to put them to death. Even under this great pressure, look at how they responded (verses 13-16)...

Saul then said to him, "Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?" Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, "And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king's son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? "Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair." But the king said, "You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's household!"

If you read further, they end up being put to death... but Saul's regular army wasn't willing to do it. So you may wonder, where was God in this? Why did He allow the priests that He had chosen to be put to death? Honestly, I don't completely know the answer, but I think this caused a big doubt in the minds of his army. Regardless of what we can see, God knows best. These priests knew that... and knew that Saul's death threats were no reason to change their view of David (whom God had chosen already). I pray that we would be that obedient to God... that we wouldn't even compromise our words to get out of something. He knows best! Complete obedience will ALWAYS result in us receiving God's ultimate best! Sometimes His best is painful, but it is His best. Sometimes His best is full of joy (we tend to like this one better)... but regardless, we need to trust that He knows what is best for us even when we can't see it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More changes...

Work went pretty well today. It's been a bit crazy, but it's going well overall. Starting Sunday night, I decided to put God first in my leisure time. Instead of checking my email first thing in the morning, I have decided to spend uninterrupted time in the Word and pick a verse to memorize/mediate on throughout the day. Instead of checking email first thing when I get home from school or work, spending more time in the Word reviewing what I read in the morning. Instead of checking my email and then going to bed, the very last thing is spending time in the Word. In the two days that I have implemented this, I have already seen a change in my heart. My focus is much more naturally on Him. The things I say and do are more centered around Him. His Word really does transform the heart and mind, and honestly, I've been missing out on some of the blessings of that. I need more time in the Word! It is truth! This morning, I woke up early had had the opportunity to listen to a sermon before work. What an encouragement to my heart! The last two days, I have been meditating on these verses:

Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 91:2 – I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”

I am reminded that I don't know how long I'll live. I could die tonight... I really could. This adds a sense of urgency to being who God wants me to be... in this case, having a heart of wisdom to present to Him. The second verse is a good reminder to me of how great God is and that He is completely trust-worthy. I have no reason to doubt any of His plans for me as being the absolute best. I need to be constantly reminded of how great He is! Please keep me in prayer as I know that Satan isn't a big fan of people growing in the Lord.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fearing the Lord in a Practical Way

We finished our study on the fear of the Lord today. I was very much convicted today. We talked about how the fear of the Lord is big Biblical thinking about God. To practically live that out, we need to be constantly maintaining and growing in our fear of the Lord. He encouraged us to pray for it.... "unite my heart to fear Your name" (Psalm 86:11); to meditate on scripture... he described this as filling our treasure chest of big thoughts about God; to write down these thoughts about God; to go back later and read what you wrote; to practice private worship; to practice private thankfulness; to use a hymn book which is full of people who have feared the Lord and written it down; to think on a deeper level before we ask God for things... to remind us of why we are praying, and what He is doing, and how great He is; to mediate on scripture throughout the day (Psalm 1:2); to examine your default settings (this was the really convicting part which I will talk about more in a minute); to begin each day with big thoughts about God; to keep Bible and devotional books easily accessible; to get kids involved (for those that have kids); to get all alone for two or three hours with nothing bu your Bible, a pen, and a notebook; to give yourself to the preaching and teaching of the Word (come to listen and be ready to obey); to think about God through what He created, and then think of how much greater He is than those things; to read Christian biographies of others that have feared the Lord; to use this thinking by getting involved in the lives of others; to spend time with people who fear God (Malachi 3:16, Psalm 119:63); and to pay attention to your own heart, and fight for faith (1 Timothy 4:16). I was also reminded to press on to know the Lord in Hosea 6:3.

As mentioned above, the most convicting thing for myself was regarding default settings. What he means is... when you get home from school or work or just have some down time, what do you do? For myself, I go to my computer most of the time. While I do have biblegateway. com open in two tabs by default, they are not the main tabs and my first thing is generally to check email or facebook. This needs to change. Reading the Word needs to be my first thing, and my last thing each day. I set biblegateway to be the first two tabs rather than the 6th and 7th tab that is opened by default. Please keep me in prayer as I make this much needed change. I know that it won't always be easy... so many distractions. I may end up studying the Word without the computer if I am unable to focus, but I think I'll be able to focus. I want to be re-excited about reading the Word. In reading harder passages, I tend to get kind of not excited about reading it, but I need to be eager to hear what He has to say to me each and every day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When God says Move On

Work has been a bit crazy the last couple days. We got an email that basically said that this company (who we develop software for as well as the website to process orders) was offering a special promotion deal and they were wondering how to process it with our website. They sent this email out to 1,500 of their customers... only problem is that the website isn't set to handle those. So, I have spent the last couple days learning how the website functions and working on creating a new and updated system so that they can process these orders. It's crazy! haha I don't know what he was thinking when he sent out all those emails... oh well. It did make me laugh. I guess at times like this, stress just isn't even an option because it is just so far out. Anyway, it's been going well and I am enjoying the variety. 1 Samuel 16 has been a good reminder to me that when God makes it clear that He wants us to move on, we need to do just that. Take a look at verse 1...

Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons."

It was also a good reminder to me that my focus needs to be both on my heart and the hearts of others, because that is the only thing God cares about. If I am to be Christ-like, I need to do the same. See God's instructions to Samuel in verse 7...

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Verses 14-16 are a bit confusing to me. It says "an evil spirit from the Lord."

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul's servants then said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. "Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well."

I don't know if this means that God has turned Saul over to Satan kind of like Paul talks about with the immoral believer in 1 Corinthians 5:5... or if God is just tormenting Saul's conscience. I was reading a book recently that suggested that it was Saul's conscience and that Saul chose not to deal with it properly and instead used the harp as a distraction. While the point is valid, that we often use distractions to avoid doing what we need to do, I don't think this is the case. I tend to think it is like 1 Corinthians 5:5. It seems like the Lord had given up on Saul at this point, and allowed him to reap the consequences of his sin, but I would think that His purpose in this was to bring Saul back to full repentance.

I am so thankful for God's forgiveness. I was listening to a sermon in the car yesterday and today, and there was a part where the pastor talked about how our forgiveness needs to be as God's forgiveness where He says He will remember them no more. What an amazing, unconditional gift! Obviously, we shouldn't be dumb about it either... if there is a sinful pattern in someone, I think we are to address that in the spirit of meekness or gentleness (Galatians 6:1). It did challenge me to take forgiveness... and how I forgive a whole lot more seriously. I want to be so filled with Him that my forgiveness to others is a representation of how He forgave me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When Our Ideas are Better than God's...

We went up and visited Deborah and her family in Northern California. It was a short, but very fun trip. On the way up, we hit one spot where there was construction going on. Everyone was slamming on their brakes... as did I; however, the car behind me obviously didn't stop as much. He gave us a bit of help in the forward direction. ;) Thankfully, it didn't do much damage at all. It did bend our bumper down a little bit, but that will get taken care of. I'm thankful for God's grace in that situation in that no one was hurt seriously... a couple sore backs, but not much more than that. God is good! We had an awesome time with Bryan, Deborah, and Gabriel. He is growing so much. I put some pictures up here. We took a few long walks while we were there. God's creation really is majestic. It reminds me of Psalm 8. I had an appointment for my jaw this morning, and everything seems to be progressing as we had hoped. I do need to get a full set of braces as soon as possible though. I knew that before the surgery though. I read 1 Samuel 15 today. It was a sobering reminder that as soon as we think our ideas are better than God's, we are really in a bad place. Saul decided to save the best sheep for God, but God had commanded him to kill them. God does want our sacrifices, but He wants our obedience much more so. It is important to remember that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If this is the case, and He took that one act of disobedience so seriously, we ought to take our sin much more seriously than we do. I am so thankful for His forgiveness!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clean sweep...

It's been nearly forever since I've posted. Well, I decided that it was time to reformat my hard drives. I was starting to see some disk errors in the logs and decided I wanted to change up my configuration a bit. I ended up going with four hard drives in raid 5 configuration. Basically, that means it is writing across all four hard drives, but it writes pieces of backup as it goes... so I would have to have two of the four hard drives fail to actually lose data. :) Another rather big thing that is going on is that I moved downstairs. We have been talking about this for a while, but never actually did anything about it. Mom found a nice desk for pretty cheap, so we decided to get it for Jonathan. It was a bit hard with me staying up late doing work and stuff... and Jonathan wanting to be in bed. He had been sleeping in the guest room (my new room), so it'll be good for him to get his room back... and it works nicely for me. I like it here because I can have a wired internet connection (once the network switch comes in the mail). The AC works a lot better down here too... and with several computers in the same room, it does get a big warm. My siblings blessed me with two monitors as an early birthday and Christmas gifts. I have no problem with them combining the two since it is such a great gift... they didn't need to get me anything! I have some awesome siblings! :D

I have been reading in 1 Samuel, but I like to keep one tab open by default to a chapter that I want to spend more time on. It was Romans 12 before, now it is Colossians 3. I am reminded of many key things in the Christian life. Specifically...

  • That we are to set our minds on eternal things (verse 1-2).
  • That Christ is our life... He isn't just part of it (verse 4).
  • That we are to leave our sinfulness behind and let ourselves be renewed through Christ into His image (verses 5-11).
  • That we are to live in unity, not the worlds idea of unity (which is called tolerance), but the unity that comes only through Christ being the complete authority of our every action displaying compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiveness, and love (verses 12-15).
  • That we are to let the Word dwell richly in us so that it comes back out in the form of wisdom, teaching, admonishing one another, and thankfulness (verse 16).
  • That we are to say and do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and to give thanks to Him. To do something in His name means that we are doing it with His authority. It reminds me of times where dad said something like, "tell your sister that I said you could do this." I think that we can have great boldness in knowing that we are doing what He tells us to do in His Word!
  • That in order for my future wife to submit to me like she is supposed to, I need to love her as Christ loved the church (verses 18-19). The phrase, "as Christ loved the church" is mentioned in Ephesians 5, but I thought I should mention it here because it is clear that love has been distorted in our culture, and this is the love that He is talking about--loving as yourself and as He loved the church and was willing to die for us.
  • That I need to remember my place as a child. While I am a man to some extent, I still need to be completely submissive to my parents (assuming they are leading in a Biblical way)... (verse 20).
  • That I need to be encouraging to the younger kids that I interact with. Although I am not a father, I need to be preparing for the day when I will be (Lord willing)... (verse 21).
  • That I am not to work because it makes my parents happy or my boss happy, but rather work hard in all those little things as well as the big things because He is the One whom we are serving (verses 22-23).
  • That although there be great rewards for obedience and working hard for the Lord, there are also consequences for not doing these things and for doing wrong... and God doesn't pick favorites in His punishment (verses 24-25).

I hope this is as much of an encouragement to you as it was to me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pleading Guilty

I had a unique, but unpleasant experience yesterday. Being in the court on the non-jury duty side of things. We were told that there was a possibility of having the fine on my photo enforced ticket decreased, so I thought it would be worth going to the court. It wasn't a matter of being guilty or not--I am guilty, but $416 is a little bit steep for not seeing the light change in time. Regardless of the circumstance, I did run the red light. It was very much unpleasant to stand there before the judge as he read of what I had done. Then he asks me if I am going to plead guilty or not guilty. Of course I had to plead guilty. He was a very nice judge, but he wasn't willing to reduce the fine. Oh well. God will use this as a good/painful reminder to me to be more careful. It also reminds me that one day we will stand before God and give an account of every action we take, every word we speak, and every thought we think. If I could bring one thing to heaven, maybe it would be a portable sound system with a recording of me saying "guilty" over and over again. haha But seriously, this also serves as a reminder to me that I need to be more careful in all aspects of my life. I will be standing before Him someday. Standing before Him is infinitely more serious than standing before a judge. He is the one and only true Judge. He can judge completely because He hasn't sinned. I wish that this would be kept on the forefront of my mind anytime I am tempted to sin. Sin is far more serious than I make it out to be, and I am ready to be done with it. It really brings out what it means for Christ to stand and declare us not guilty. What a glorious day when sin will be no more! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Back from Camp

I just got back from camp. Thank you all for your prayers. I was able to go the whole week without any pain meds. It was a challenging week for sure. My left ear had been plugged and didn't clear up, but I didn't have any pain going up the mountain. God is good! My sister and I decided to sing a song together (Oh, I Want to Know You More by Steve Green) for a talent show thing that they had. I'm not a big fan of "talent shows" unless they are honoring Christ in the process (which this was one did for the most part). I still don't like the name. Anyway, I was a bit concerned being able to only hear out of one ear. When I talked, it sounded loud to me, but really people couldn't hear me and I was afraid that would happen when I was singing too. Well, God cleared up my ear on Friday morning before we did it! There were many other challenges such as a nearly camp-wide stomach sickness. Just in our cabin (7 guys and two of us counselors), we had one guy in our cabin get sick on Wednesday, then I got sick on Thursday, then two guys got sick yesterday. My younger brother also got sick yesterday. Let me tell you though, God worked through it all. The first boy getting sick caused our relationship to grow for the rest of the week. He was throwing up and stuff, so it wasn't too pretty. Thankfully, I didn't throw up, but I basically slept for the entire day. I skipped lunch and tried to go to dinner. I couldn't really eat at that dinner or the next breakfast. I was just completely exhausted even though I had slept all that time. Last night, a guy threw up and so we took him down to the nurses office. I talked with the guys one last time and challenged them in several areas of their lives... put them to bed and left to take a shower. Within 10 minutes of me getting in bed, another guy threw up in the top bunk bed. At this point, I realized it was a blessing that I had already had this sickness earlier in the week because I was able to take care of these guys and not really worry about getting it again. I took him to the nurses station and was headed back when I ran across a fellow counselor about my age heading back to his cabin. I told him about what happened and he offered to help me clean it up in the middle of the night. I can't tell you how much of a blessing this was. Honestly, we were laughing about it. God was also good in that none of the guys or the other counselor in my cabin woke up during this whole episode. We just took all the stuff and dumped it outside for the night. I waited about an hour for a guy to finish up cleaning up another cabin with a similar issue. I was expecting him to bring some disinfectant or something, but he just brought scent spray stuff (which we already had). I guess everything is funny at 2 am. Anyway, we got it pretty much all cleaned up and there was nobody in the bunk below him. God was good! Jonathan also threw up last night and is still not feeling so hot, so if you could pray for him, that would be great.

God was definitely working in the hearts of these guys. It was such a blessing to be able to share some of my past failures as well as how God has been working in my life. It was amazing to see how God used the speaker to work in their hearts when it came to relationship things. The pastor was absolutely incredible. It made for some great discussions during cabin devotions. I really didn't know what I was going to talk about each day, and God continually provided exactly the words to say. He is awesome! It was definitely challenging, but totally worth it!

I would have to say that the highlight of my week was during one of the chapel times. The pastor talked about a statistic where like half of the people that claim to be Christians when they graduate will fall away from the Lord within 5 years. He had each person turn to the person next to them to realize how serious it is that one of them would not be walking with the Lord in 5 years if they followed the statistic. He gave them 8 minutes to pray with each other if they wanted to. There were three guys that had just graduated that were just kind of sitting there, so I thought I'd see if I could pray with them. It was such a blessing to hear their hearts and to be able to pray with them and for them that God would hold them close and pursue them continually like He has done for me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finally an update... and other stuff

I apologize for the much delayed update. For those of you that don't know already, I am doing quite well all considering. I had a great time at church on Sunday... several people didn't recognize me, but that was pretty funny. I actually look somewhat like a normal human being... just not quite me. ;) I had a follow-up appointment the other day, and everything seems to be going just fine. God is good! I did have really high blood pressure for a while after the surgery, but they were able to contain it with some blood pressure meds. I'm actually surprised by how fast I've recovered. I'm by no means back to normal or anything, but I am far beyond what I expected at this point. I attempted work on Monday and ended up calling mom two hours later to ask her to pick me up. Oh well! My boss is being very flexible and letting me work from home... which I will probably do tomorrow. I had my first real meal yesterday. I was able to eat a can of soup as well as some refried beans. I can't chew at all, so it is a bit interesting. Since my lower lip is still numb, I tend to lose a good amount of stuff out the bottom... hehe. Tonight, I had some amazing spaghetti! You'd be amazed at what you can eat without chewing! I have nothing to fear when I get old and lose all my teeth (just kidding). :D God has been very much gracious though! He has filled me with His joy and peace. I am in a good bit of pain still, but I know that He will not allow me to go through any pain without it being in His perfect plan! Thank you all for praying. I can't tell you how much your prayers mean to me. I look forward to going to camp on Sunday and working with some 10th graders for a week. Please pray for continued healing and that He would prepare my heart for leading this young men in His ways.

God has also blessed in that I was published for the first time (at least that I could remember). I don't know if you would call it published or not, but I thought it was pretty cool all the same.

Another blessing came as I was browsing google. I found a little picture and article from when I hit the grand slam. I didn't realize that it was online ( God deserves all the glory for that one too! It brought back some great memories of how He has blessed me so incredibly over the last year.

I've been reading a bit in 1 Samuel these last several days. It is neat to see how God answers the prayer of Hannah... and the commitment she has to dedicate Samuel to the Lord. So often, I feel like I leave things in God's hands and as soon as He makes it good, I take it back. We need to give Him all the glory! It was sobering to see Eli's sons and their disobedience to the Lord. God doesn't take sin lightly... all of Israel was defeated! The Ark was taken, which was the symbol of God's presence in Israel. I can't imagine what it would have been like to see the symbol of the only One who you could depend on being taken away. Eli obviously took it very hard and died on the spot. I pray that God would wake us up to the reality of needing Him so that we would not lose His presence among us. We need Him now more than ever!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm going in!

As many of you know, I am going in for jaw surgery in the morning (10:15 am PST). First off, I want to say that this is a blessing. God has provided the necessary insurance to cover such procedures (or at least the majority of it). The original plan was to take out two of my wisdom teeth, then the other two, then do the jaw surgery. I'd rather get all of the pain out of the way at the same time. God blessed in that working out as well. While it is a blessing, I would request prayer for this whole ordeal. My orthodontist was unable to fix my overbite. My jaw actually started locking up and popping when he tried to fix it, so I had to stop wearing the retainer. Believe it or not, I have had braces for over 10 years (got them at age 8, and had a couple years without them before getting them back on when I couldn't wear my retainer any more). I'm kind of fond of them now. ;) My mouth just never wanted to move like it was supposed to. Anyway, I am having all four wisdom teeth taken out as well as my lower jaw extended. They will basically cut each side of my jaw vertically and then horizontally so that they can slide my jaw on itself. A huge blessing is that they are going to use steel plates and screws which means that I don't have to be wired shut for six weeks. I still can't have solid foods for six weeks following the surgery, but it'll be much better being able to talk and stuff. I guess (physically speaking) the biggest prayer request would be that the doctors would be blessed with skilled hands during the procedure, and that everything would go smoothly. I hate to bring this up because no one likes to think about it, but I know that there is always a possibility for a mistake (whether that be a small mistake or even a mistake resulting in death). I know that this doctor is very skilled, and a mistake is unlikely, but I have full peace knowing that God is completely in control and He can do to me whatever He deems best. I'm likely to get a bit more nervous about the whole thing as it comes up, so if you would pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), that would be greatly appreciated as well. If you would also pray for a fast recovery, that would be excellent. I am going to be a counselor at a camp nine days after the surgery for a week. If I am spending the whole week in the nurses station, that probably wouldn't be the most helpful thing for the 10th graders in my cabin. It's pretty much only once a year that I get to spend this much time focused on making a difference in the lives of teens. I really don't want to miss out on this great opportunity. Again, God knows best, and He can do as He pleases.

This is kind of a random story, but you will see how it fits in. Many years ago, I thought the worst way of dying would be drowning. I would often do somersaults in the pool to see how many in a row I could do without breathing. I would routinely do about 6 of them before I had to get a breath. This one time I was determined to break my record (8 I think). I got to 8, and I pushed for another one... and then another. It started getting easier and easier. I was feeling like I didn't need a breath any more. This was because I was passing out. At number 13, God literally woke me up, and I realized that I was sideways at the bottom of the pool. I jumped up and was completely fine. God used this to destroy my fear of death. I fear things like being stuck in the hospital with tubes in me more than death. This will be another great opportunity for God to work in my heart, and help me trust Him completely. It may sound weird, but I look forward to it for that reason. Please keep me in prayer as He works not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. I have great peace! Thanks for your prayers and support!

If you are in the area and would like to visit, I'd love to have you! I'll be at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Friday night and/or Saturday morning would probably be the best times to visit. I really don't know how awake I'll be, but if you give mom a call before you come, that might be best. Feel free to call her for updates as well.

Thanks again!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Knowledge and it's relation to obedience

I am very much excited about what God is doing. I asked a friend this evening what he has been learning in the Word, and he said that he has been studying the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is something that I haven't really take the time to study. Even though it is likely that I know quite a few of these things, if someone asked me to explain exactly what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, I think I would have a bit of a hard time. I'd like to know it very well. It reminds me of the study we did on the gospel not too long ago. Although with the memorization done through Awana, I knew lots of passages that go with the gospel. It is such a refreshing thing to study the gospel. It is old, but so life-changing that it is exciting. Anyway, it looks like we'll be getting together and some point to study that together... should be a lot of fun! I was talking with another friend the other day about denominations and theological issues. I started thinking that maybe we are going too far out of our way to understand some minor theological issues in comparison to our obedience to what we do know. I'm not saying that when we have a lack of obedience, we should stop reading the Word until we are fully obedient, but sometimes we use learning as an excuse for not being obedient. We can go through all the motions of reading our Bible daily and praying, but if it isn't changing the way we live, what good is it? It really doesn't matter if you have the whole Bible memorized if you aren't taking it to heart. It really comes down to asking God to transform our will to His will through the Word so that we would want with all of our heart to be obedient. After all, He knows what is best for us and being obedient is actually doing what is best for ourselves! Please pray for me as I study the Word... that it would change who I am, not just be another thing I read.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finals are over!

Just in case you were wondering, now I haven't left the planet... I just had finals. ;) I actually still have two projects to complete and a presentation, but the finals are over. I got to go surfing today with the Dortignacs (family friends of ours that have 14 kids). :) It was a blast! I need to finish this project that I'm working on. I finished the book of Judges. I didn't recall it being so awful. I guess now that I am reading it to learn rather than just to get it done, it really changes things. Anyway, it really is sickening how far away from God the people are. It's a good reminder that none of us are beyond even the most repulsive of sins. Faithfulness to God must be a moment by moment thing.