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.