Saturday, December 26, 2009

Desiring What He Desires

As this mission trip approaches, I am finding it all the more essential to spend time with Him. I'll admit that I am a little bit scared about this whole trip. I know that He is in control and that He will lead, but I still must follow. We all must follow. I just want my heart to be so finely tuned to His ways that my desires are exactly what He desires. That really is His will for us... and it makes it so easy to follow His will when my will matches His. I was reading Psalm 73 today and could identify with some of these words (verses 2-3, 23-26).
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked... Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

If I really take the time to think about my heart, there are ways that I am jealous of people that do not "play by the rules". I do know that in the long run, His ways are always best, but I must believe and act on that for the short run too! I want to be able to say 100% that I desire nothing on earth other than Him. I love that fact that He will guide me with His perfect counsel... that He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Please pray that I would live in the reality of being "continually with Him". I need Him, more than ever before, to continually take my hand and guide me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Challenge of Respect

Life has been extremely busy, but I am very much excited to be done with another semester of school. It was nice to be able to take classes that I actually wanted to take rather than taking required classes. :) I think I learned a lot more this way. I am currently working full time, but looking for where He might lead next as far as my job. I am very much thankful for the job I have, but I don't feel like it is my final destination. Looking forward to seeing what He will do there.

Some of you know that I have been organizing a mission trip down to Mexico. We will be leaving on January 3rd! Believe it or not, I have never been on a mission trip before! There have been a few times that I have filled out applications for a mission trip and after praying about it, decided not to go. I am greatly looking forward to seeing His work in places other than my little view of the world. Please keep us in prayer for safety and unity. Please also pray that He would be opening the hearts of those to whom we minister to. Lastly, please pray that God would provide the necessary finances to get as much done on the house we will be working on as possible. I look forward to how He will change me through this trip.

I was reading 1 Peter 2 today and verses 13-17 really caught my attention.
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

I found it interesting that we submit ourselves to the authority He has placed over us for the punishment of evil and the praise of righteousness. Let's face it... we often find ourselves entertained by evil things that we ought to hate. We see movies where we hope the bad guy gets away. We are surrounded by a twisted viewpoint of what is right and wrong. By being obedient to authorities, we help untwist that. Not only that, but it is God's will! How often do we seek for His will? Well, here it is... stated directly... His will is for us to submit to authorities for His sake. We are to use our freedom to become His servant for life! Think of what the world would be like if in our free time, the first thing we wanted to do was serve Him. I truly think we would turn the earth upside down. For many (myself included), it is difficult to honor those that He has placed over us in this country. I have no excuse. It is His will for me to honor them for where God has placed them. I doesn't meant that I have to agree with everything, but I must honor them for His sake. I'd challenge you to pick one person that is in authority over you (parents, teacher, pastor, elder, police, president, etc.) every day this week to concentrate on honoring. Don't make it easy on yourself... pick those you naturally dishonor and choose, for His sake, to honor them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Once Again!

I can't believe it is Thanksgiving again already. I think Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year... great food, lots of fun... football, and giving of thanks. I find that giving thanks blesses me far more than I can imagine it blessing the person I'm thanking. When I start thinking of all the blessings that He has poured out on me through an individual or situation, my heart overflows with joy. Just off the top of my head, these are some of the things I am thankful for in this last year.

He did an incredible work for me to find favor in the eyes of several instructors so that they graciously made a way for me to graduate last December. He has given me a good job... not one I see myself in for forever, but He has graciously allowed me to remain there until I move on. He has given me an amazing family... I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up without a dad and mom that both seek to honor Him and teach me to do the same. He opened the doors for me to play team handball on the national team... so undeserved, but clearly His blessing. He has continually changed my heart through His Word and the teaching of Pastor Tim. He has given me the opportunity to serve Him with music at church and elsewhere... something I absolutely love to do! He has brought so many godly friends into my life to encourage me in the Lord. He has forgiven my sins! He remains faithful when I am faithless! He pursues and guides my heart. He gives me only His very best for me. He gives infinite mercy and grace. He graciously gives me a lack of peace when I am not walking closely with Him. He freely grants perfect peace when I rest in the shadow of His wings. He has blessed me with life and breath. He has given me eyes to see just glimpses of His majesty. He has given me ears to hear and enjoy the praises of His people. He has given me a mouth to sing and proclaim His praises. I could go on forever. He is so good!!! Thank You, Lord!

I pray that this thanksgiving was a blessing to you as it was to me. I know that the world is not exactly how we would like it to be at the moment, but God has blessed us in so many ways. We must give thanks with all our hearts (Psalm 138:1).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Missing Your Ax?

God has continually been faithful in providing what we need. He is so faithful and good. The Lord convicted me the other day that I was not getting involved in people's lives how I ought to be. I let myself get busy and used that as an excuse to neglect my responsibility to both disciple and be discipled. Really looking forward to spending some time weekly in prayer with a good friend of mine! I find it amazing that when God convicts, He always has a perfect opportunity right there for me to apply it. I am so thankful for His faithfulness to me. I was reading in 1 John 5 this evening. Verses 18-21 really stuck out to me.
We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

The reality is that we are in a spiritual battle. It's not like we are just living life battling our flesh. Yes, we are battling our flesh, but there is a very real spiritual battle out there. It's the battle for our loyalty. So, I ask you... have you been using your ax lately? I didn't say Axe... although I hope you use deodorant. ;) I mean, have you been chopping down your idols? Honestly, I think my ax has been hidden in the garage somewhere these last couple of days. I so much need it to be sharpened by the Word of God and used without restraint to cut down anything in my life that exalts itself against the one true God. If you (like me) haven't spent quality time in the Word in these last couple days, don't delay. It doesn't take long before our ax gets hidden away. We need His Word to transform us each and every moment of every day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stand and see... go out and fight!

I think I will officially stop making excuses about life being busy. I think you can just assume that from now on. ;) God has been good! There are so many things that He has blessed me with lately... Bible study at Cal Baptist has been a continual blessing, leading the church choir has been a great blessing and growing experience... so much fun to sing to the Lord in harmony, I have been learning a good amount with these online classes that I'm taking, the Rebelution forum team has continually blessed and encouraged me, etc. He is so good! There are many challenges in life right now, but it is definitely a time of growth in my heart. I am excited about what He is doing even though I really don't fully understand what He is doing. I was reading 2 Chronicles 20 this evening as I was thinking of a passage that was applicable to both waiting on Him and to doing what He has called me to do. Take a look at verses 3-4 and 14-18.
Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD ... Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's. 'Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 'You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem ' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you." Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.

What I need most is to fully turn to Him as the source of all that I need. The battle belongs completely to Him. It's a mystery that He calls us to "stand and see the salvation of the Lord" at the same time that He calls us to "go out to face them". I may not know the details in how He will work everything out, but I am confident that I will end up face down before the Lord, worshiping Him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

His Righteousness

I spent some time today reflecting on some of the things that He has done in the last few years... things I couldn't have even started to imagine. He has been so faithful and so abundantly gracious and merciful. Right now is a tough time financially for many including us. It can be stressful to an unhealthy level, so just taking the time to think about all the blessings He has poured out on me and how He has continually taken care of me has been such a blessing and encouragement today. I had a song stuck in my head all day today. It's a song called, "Perfect Peace" written by one of my favorite modern-day song writers--Laura Story. I'd encourage you to look up her music if you have a chance... great Biblical perspectives on life. Anyway, here are the lyrics...

Stay close by My side
Keep your eyes on Me
Though this life is hard
I will give you perfect peace

In this time of trial
Pain that no one sees
Trust Me when I say
I will give you perfect peace

And you'll never walk alone
And you'll never be in need
Though I may not calm the storms around you
You can hide in Me

Burdens that you bear
Offer no relief
Let Me bear your load
'Cause I will give you perfect peace

Stay close by My side
And you'll never walk alone
Keep your eyes on Me
And you'll never be in need
Though this life is hard
Know that I will always give you perfect peace
I will give you perfect peace

What a blessing it is to have people that have gone before us who have taken the time to think Biblical thoughts about the trials of life. Those words, "Stay close by My side, keep your eyes on Me" are so simple and yet so essential. As soon as I lose sight of Him and start to look to things on this earth, that is when I start seeing all my needs... the needs that He promises to meet.

I was reading through Romans 9 and 10 today and verses 1-3 of chapter 10 stuck out to me.
Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

This passage was very much convicting. Within me, there is a great temptation to try to live righteously without subjecting myself to His perfect righteousness. The reality is that we can have as much zeal for righteous living as we can muster and that will not be enough. It is when we truly see that our righteousness is as filthy rags... and humble ourselves before Him that we can truly live righteous, God-glorifying lives.

Monday, October 19, 2009

We are not of the flesh!

I can't believe how fast time is flying right now. It seems like I never have enough time to do what I want to do. I guess that is probably a good thing though. Church has continually been a great blessing. We did our first choir song at church a week ago. We sang, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us". One of the challenges of being part of a worship team or choir is to really let the words sink in to my heart. Words like, "that He should give His only son, to make a wretch His treasure"... how humbling! I don't see any good reason for Him to treasure me... and yet He does. Realizing that my righteousness is as filthy rags to Him... that is some deep love that He has for me! I was reading Romans 8 today and verses 6-10 really stood out to me.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you, but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

I know that my thoughts and actions reflect the flesh far more than it ought to. What a blessing it is when He doesn't grant us peace! If He were to give us peace when we live by the flesh, we would continue to do so. The reality is that the flesh is completely opposing Him. Obvious statement I know, but how often to I (we) allow thoughts to go unchallenged? How often to do we not take everything captive to the obedience of Christ? The truth is that for those of us that are saved, we are no longer in bondage to the flesh... we have the Spirit inside of us to live through us. This passage is a great reminder of our position in Christ. In these times where it is so easy to not trust Him with everything, it is essential that we completely trust Him and live as He wills.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Being Content

Life has been super busy lately, but God has been good. There has been one pretty major change in my life... I decided to quit working on the IT side of the company I currently work for. I still work for the programming side of the company, but this will probably end in a cut in hours. This may not sound like a good thing, but I believe it is His best at this time. I am very thankful for His guidance and the godly counsel of my parents as well.

I was notified somewhat recently that I am part of a pool of 26 guys for USA Team Handball that will be chosen to travel around this next year for tournaments. I am still seeking His will in this, but it seems like He is opening the doors. I have a wonderful Friday and Saturday... us Osborne guys went camping with the Hearn guys up in the mountains. We kind of roughed it... played some frisbee... fished a lot... I took a spill out of the canoe with cell phone, wallet, etc. It really was a great trip.

During devotions this morning, we studied Philippians 4. Verses 11 and 12 is what really stuck out to me.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

This was a great reminder for me as I think about my work situation and how it really isn't where I see myself long-term... and yet it is where He has me right now. I need a good dose of contentment that comes only through Him. He is good and His ways are perfect!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Faith and Humility

In family devotions the other day, we read in Luke 7:1-10 where Jesus heals the centurion's servant. Although I have heard this story a whole bunch of times, I noticed something that I had never noticed before.
When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. And a centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, "He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue." Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. "For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

I found it really interesting and amazing that these Jewish elders came to Jesus and told Him that this centurion was worthy of Jesus coming and healing the servant. Obviously, none of us are worthy of Him... and yet to have people say something like that about you is pretty incredible. He even took the time to build the synagogue for the Jews. Anyway, the thing that really stuck out to me is that these people all said he was worthy and then when Jesus was coming, he didn't even feel worthy to see Jesus face to face, but sent someone else to deliver the message that he was unworthy of Jesus' presence. He had great faith, yes, but he also seems to have been living in the reality of who Jesus was and had great humility toward God.

What a great example for me... great faith with great humility. I need greater awareness of who He is in comparison to who I am so that I live in the reality of how great He is.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More of Him

Bible study at Cal Baptist started back up tonight... such a blessing as usual. Christina was loaded with homework, so she didn't end up coming with me (which was kind of nice because I got to spend much time in prayer out loud). :) I like to pray out loud in the car in order to keep myself focused. It really was a great time of fellowship with Him, but the thing that really pressed on my heart is that I need Him more than ever right now. I was thinking of all the big life decisions coming up in the next year or so and thinking that I really can't do life without Him... I need Him to be the center of these decisions more than anything else!

I was speaking of all the things He is to me... my life, my breath, my savior, my redeemer, my friend, my God, my all-sufficient sacrifice, my righteousness, my rock, my protector, my provider, the only way, my light, my guide, my only source of wisdom, my desire to do good, my hope, my everlasting king, my refuge, my fortress, etc. The more I thought about just how much He is, the more I realized just how much I need Him... and I realize that I will never get to the point where I know how much I need Him. I need Him far beyond what I can even imagine.

On the way home from Bible study, I was listening to a sermon which was actually more geared toward marriage, but the point that the pastor was making is that as we enter more things... work, marriage, kids, etc... with each new thing, we need more of the Holy Spirit. I love how God works like that... He got the pre-Bible study message across and then followed up with a post-Bible study message. :) Anyway, I am more convinced than ever before that I need more of Him. Please pray to this end!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

God Uses People

It's been a really long time since I've posted here. Life has been full of many things such as, grandpa's memorial service, team handball in Chicago, organizing of a mission trip, work, school, stitches, etc. God is good, but I greatly miss writing here in that going back and reading the things I have written are a blessing to me as I reflect on what He has done in my life.

Anyway, I was reading in Joshua 1 this evening and noticed something that I hadn't noticed previously. This is a prime example of how God uses people to communicate His message. Throughout the chapter (verses 6, 7, and 9), God is telling Joshua to be strong and courageous. In verse 18, God uses the people to communicate this message to Joshua as well!
They answered Joshua, saying, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous."

It seems weird that God would say it four times like that... until I think of my life and how much I need Him to continually remind me of what He has called me to do. I am so thankful for the godly influences in my life continually reminding me of who I am in Christ and what I am supposed to do. It's also a good reminder to me that I need to be God's instrument more in the area of pointing people toward Him in their actions.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Conquer the World!?!.... or not!

This morning was quite humorous. I set my alarm for 5:30 am in order to get some things done... spend time in the word... etc. It was one of those mornings where you wake up ready to conquer the world. Well, God, with His sense of humor decided that conquering the world was not His plan for me, but rather conquering... dog vomit all over the house. haha Usually this would be frustrating, but it made me laugh because the same exact thing happened the last time I tried to do something similar. It ended up being a good time in prayer. It was a great reminder to me that my plans are not ultimate. He is completely in control and can change my plans however He desires. I do hope that my plans are not continually changed in this way... maybe something more exciting. ;) Anyway, I found it neat how God could take something like dog vomit and turn it into a blessing. This evening, I decided to read over Philippians 3 since it is one of my favorite chapters.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I know you see these verses on my blog all the time, but it is something that I need to be continually reminded of. Reflecting over the last year of my life, I see times where I have done well, and I see times where I have reached behind rather than forward. It's important for me to remember that those times are gone now. I can't change the past. What I did for Him will last... what I did for myself will not last. I am excited about this next year of life. It is another year to live for Him... another year to press on toward the goal.

It's kind of awkward asking for a birthday gift, but I am going to go ahead and ask anyway. I would like to ask for your prayers... specifically:

1) That Christ would be the center of my daily living.
2) That He would grant me His wisdom in the huge/life-changing decisions that will be made this next year.
3) That I would grow continually closer to Him both in knowledge of Him and in obedience to what He reveals.
4) That I would have a tender heart toward His ways... that I would be responsive to His leading without delay.
5) That God would use my life for His glory.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To Give Everything

You may or may not know this, but I don't read very much. To be completely honest, I don't really enjoy reading. This has some positive aspects and some negative ones. I think it is generally easier to read about something than to do it... I am thankful that He has given me more of a desire to do things rather than just read about them. Lack of reading books outside of scripture can be a good thing as well in that I am forced to formulate ideas based on His Word rather than taking someone else's word for it and following their idea. Having said this, there are many godly people who have gone before us and have written of their learnings... and this is extremely valuable. Thus, the negative thing about not enjoying reading and not reading much is that I miss out on some valuable insight from the people who have gone before me. My pastor recommended and let me borrow "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elisabeth Elliot during my second year of college. I just finished reading it yesterday. While not enjoying reading had some to do with that, the biggest reason is that I often found myself rereading all the places my pastor or I underlined in the book (he did say that I could). Anyway, I finally finished it and while I generally don't post content here other than from scripture, I must share this in that God used it to kind of rip my heart.
Two days later, on Sunday, Jan. 8, 1956, the men for whom Jim Elliot had prayed for six years killed him and his four companions.

This is a very sobering reminder to me. God is ultimately in control, but we are responsible for our part. Jim Elliot was committed to His ways... and He called Jim to go to these people and Jim was diligent about it. Praying for six years is no easy task... not only did he pray, but he did everything he could to prepare. God took his life and to my knowledge, Jim didn't see one of those people saved. This can seem like a waste of life, but God never wastes anything. He has a perfect plan. He used the death of Jim Elliot and the four others to draw these people to Himself. I was thinking about this commitment... to pray for six years... to work hard... and then to be okay with being killed by the same people he had prayed for. That is commitment for His sake. I then thought of Christ's sacrifice... He did infinitely more than this... He created us... and then was killed by His creation. While Jim's death in itself was in vain, God used it to draw people to Himself. In contrast, Christ's death was not in vain, but to give everyone an opportunity to be saved. Jim Elliot really did live a life modeled after Christ. It is a great blessing and encouragement to see that a human can (through His power) live a life patterned after Christ. Now to live it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

God's Faithfulness to the Unfaithful

I finally got back to Hosea 2. It is a prophecy about how God will treat Israel when they have in essence become a harlot by worshiping other gods (note the parallel between this and the prior passage). Take a look at verse 3.
Or I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born I will also make her like a wilderness,make her like desert land and slay her with thirst.

This is interesting. God seems to have absolutely no mercy. He is going to completely humiliate Israel and basically torment them, and yet if we read further in verse 16 and following, we see God's plan to restore Israel.
It will come about in that day, declares the LORD, that you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali.

Here we see a heart of repentance... turning from false gods and turning to Him as the supreme ruler... this is followed by a renewal of relationship with Him in verse 23.
I will sow her for Myself in the land I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people! And they will say, You are my God!

It is such a blessing that we serve a God who is completely faithful not only to punish us when we stray from Him, but to also bring us to repentance and draw us near to Himself once again. I think if we look at the summary of our lives... we will see this pattern throughout... our unfaithfulness followed by His faithfulness and work to bring us back to Himself. What a blessing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grandpa Passed Away

It's been a bit of a rough weekend. We were on our way to visit grandpa and grandma when we received a call that grandpa had a heart attack and died. I am reminded that God is God and I am not. I do not know for sure if he was saved or not. I do know that he definitely knew the gospel... read the New Testament... wasn't against the gospel... etc. This doesn't save him by any means, but I know that it's entirely in God's hands. Honestly, it hasn't completely set in yet. I had a mini-cry last night, but it really doesn't seem real yet. We were very close... and it is just going to take a while for me to really come to grips with the whole thing. We just sang happy birthday to him on the phone the other day... and now he is gone. I didn't talk with him on the phone after we sang because I figured I'd see him the next day. While I think it would have been nice to do so, I don't see any reason to regret it. I was thinking about why people would regret things when people die. I have often heard things like... "I never got a chance to say goodbye." While this is true, I don't see a purpose for having regrets or even wishing for such. God is God! The person is gone and no longer cares about such things! Why do people worry about this stuff? The one thing that I think can be regretted in a healthy way is not sharing the gospel with a person that died without Him. I had an opportunity several years ago to spend a day with grandpa and shared the gospel and talked with him about it all throughout the day. This wasn't the only time he heard the gospel... he heard it continually, so I am completely at peace. I really really really want to see him in heaven someday... and I hope with all my heart that he is there, but I also know that God is God... and He does what is best. I trust Him.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obedience When God Doesn't Make Sense

I got to spend some time in prayer with a friend this morning. What an incredible blessing. I absolutely love spending time in prayer without distractions. To be completely honest, I was quite exhausted and mostly asleep (like 5:20 am), but it was a great blessing anyways. I read Hosea 1 this evening and it really wants to make me read more, but I decided to take it one chapter at a time for more of his perspective on this whole thing. Take a look at this command from God in verses 2 and 3.
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD." So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Up to this point, it doesn't tell us whether or not God had revealed His plans to Hosea. Regardless of if God had revealed His plans to Hosea... I can't even imagine going out and finding a harlot to be my wife... someone walking completely contrary to His ways. This really makes me think. How much do I trust God? If He told me to do something completely radical for His sake, would I be willing to give up my plans and do it? It is a tough question. In my head, I say, Yes! Absolutely!... but when the rubber meets the road, it's not so easy. Rather than jumping into the next few chapters, I am going to try to allow God to work in my heart in the area of complete obedience... regardless of if it fits my plans.

Monday, July 13, 2009

He Does Work

I was reading Zephaniah 1 this evening and had been thinking about how He works in not only my life, but the lives of those around me. I have such a tendency to take the credit that He deserves. When I start to do this, I slowly drift into a very dangerous situation... in my heart, He is not longer the provider of every good and perfect thing... He is no longer the One I am serving... He is no longer the One who gave me the ability to live, move, and breathe... He no longer is the Living God. I lower Him down to someone invisible... that does nothing... that ignores my sin... etc. While I don't sit there and say these things to myself, I find it easy become complacent if I am not continually pursuing full obedience. I loved the reminder in Zephaniah 1:12.
It will come about at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, "The LORD will not do good or evil!"

He does see my sin... He will punish it... He does good... and He does harm too! A quick side note, don't be confused by the word evil here. God does not and cannot sin... this is referring to the pouring out of His judgment. He is the Living God!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today & Isaiah 30

I read Isaiah 30 this morning because I had been thinking of verse 21 the last couple of days.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

In this time of my life, I really don't sense a whole lot of direction as far as work goes. God's Word is full of instructions... and far beyond what I can live up to, but I have a desire for His specific leading. If we look at this passage more in context... verses 1 and 2 summarize it pretty well.
"Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh's protection, to Egypt's shade for refuge.

I was thinking about how often in my life I am seeking His guidance and when He wants me to be patient and wait on Him, I seek my own way. I don't want to go my own way. I am at a point in life where my decisions really have a huge impact on the rest of my life. While decisions are always important... from birth really... this is a pivotal time of my life. Seeking His will in work, education, relationships, ministry, etc. There are a lot of things to consider right now. I don't want to be a young man carrying out my own plans which are not His. I want to be following exactly His plans. I want to hear that voice behind me every step of the way. He is so faithful... I just need to listen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back from Germany!

I started writing blog posts probably about five times, but never finished any of them. Anyway, I am back from Germany. It was extremely challenging both physically and spiritually, but God was more than enough. Thank you for your prayers! I can't tell you how many ways God protected me. We ended up winning four games and losing two. God definitely blessed.

I am in the process of preparing to be a counselor at Awana camp. I have a wonderful co-counselor and am really looking forward to how the Lord will use the week in my heart as well as all the kids in my cabin. I am just starting to go through Romans and the epistles in preparation for camp. Tonight, I read the first four chapters of Romans... what a blessing! There is a whole lot in there, but verses 19-21 in chapter 4 really caught my attention.
Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

I think this is one of the best definitions of faith in the Bible... "being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform." There are so many times that I doubt God... not because I don't think He can do it, but because I don't think He will. I try to take things into my own hands (much like Abraham did with Hagar), and things end up a mess. I need to have a heart that is "fully assured" that what He says He will do... He will do! I know faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so I guess that just means that I need to be spending more time in the Word.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Here we go!

I leave in a few hours for the airport. It is kind of hard to believe that I am actually going! I greatly covet your prayers as I set out to enter the mostly unknown. I have such peace knowing that He is in complete control. At the same time, I have very little peace knowing that my heart is prone to wander. I need to be completely dependent on Him more than ever before. I am thrilled to go out to Germany... there will be many opportunities both for good and evil. My heart must be completely focused on Him throughout this trip. I was playing piano a few minutes ago... "People Need the Lord". I was thinking about the lyrics... "We are called to take His light, to a world where wrong seems right. What could be too great a cost, for sharing life with one that's lost?" It is absolutely true, the world is full of people and things that make wrong seem right. It is our job to share His light in a loving, but unrestrained way. We can't put a cost on eternally significant things like sharing the message of the gospel. Please continue to pray for me... for the hearts of the guys... for the hearts of the coaches. I am thrilled, but I need His help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Going to Germany!

God has blessed me with a rather unique and unexpected opportunity. As of Friday evening, I was invited to play on the USA National Team Handball team in Germany from May 31st - June 8th. They needed a decision by Saturday and so after talking with my parents about it, we decided that I should go. I have to pay a very small amount, the rest is sponsored. This is a huge blessing! Anyway, I have a number of prayer requests that go along with this opportunity. Please pray...

1) That I would play my hardest as unto the Lord rather than for men (any athlete out there knows that there is a huge temptation to do things to please the coach and other players).

2) That they would see my effort as something that comes from Him and not from me (thinking specifically of Daniel and his friends in the Old Testament standing out among all the wise men).

3) That He would be glorified in both my words and my actions (I am prone to take glory that isn't mine... and I need His help).

4) That God would open doors of opportunity to talk with these teammates and coaches about Christ (I see this as a mission trip of a different type).

5) That the way I live would cause a bunch of guys, far away from home and accountability, to reconsider the actions which would be normal, for godless guys, in such circumstances (these guys need to see that there is more to live for than the pleasures of the moment).

I do not know if there are any other Christians on the team. I am praying that there are, but I have no idea as of this point. I realize that I am not at all beyond falling. Living for Him is a moment by moment decision. I covet your prayers a great deal as I go out to represent Team USA, but most of all, Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

I have chosen 1 Corinthians 15:10 as my key verse for this trip because it truly is only by God's grace that I live, breathe and have the opportunity to go on this trip. While Paul's words about laboring more than everyone else is concerning the gospel, I intend to work harder than everyone else out there in the practices and games for His glory.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our God is a Consuming Fire!

It has been a long time since I've posted on here, and I really regret that as I am forgetting much of what I am learning since I am not writing it down as much. I have been very busy, but not too busy to write this stuff down... just haven't done it. Anyway, the message this Sunday was from Exodus 19 and Hebrews 12 mostly. I had a chance to teach the high school Awana kids Revelation 21 and 22 last night because the speaker didn't show up. I think I learned the new best definition of full dependence on Him--trying to teach Revelation with little to no preparation. ;) I think God blessed... I actually talked too long which surprised me. Anyway, we sang "Open the Eyes of My Heart", and I was thinking about that song in light of the things in Exodus 19 and Hebrews 12. Take a look at verses 18-21.
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling."

This is referring back to Exodus 19 where boundaries were set around Mt. Sinai because God's presence was going to come down in a cloud. God's holiness is a serious matter when it mixes with our complete unholiness. I was thinking that if we truly saw Him like "Open the Eyes of My Heart" asks for... we would die instantly. The end of Hebrews 12 says that our God is a consuming fire! This is generally not the picture of God that we get in our normal Sunday school lesson. We tend to get the, "God is love." a whole lot more than the "God is a consuming fire." I think it is important that we reverence God for who He is. If you look at scripture... He doesn't mess around... opening the earth and swallowing up a bunch of people... plagues of Egypt... loss of David's son... people struck dead for being dishonest... and don't forget the final judgement in Revelation. While He is abundant in grace, He is a consuming fire! We would be foolish to take Him lightly. It is such a privilege to be able to come into His presence... with all God's righteousness condemning our unrighteousness... but us being credited with all of Christ's righteousness because of the price He paid. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! Let's not make light of the gift He has given us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Applying the Law of Moses

It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. I went to North Carolina for almost a week for Awana Summit. God really blessed the trip. Christina received a gold medal for a sign language fine arts thing she did. Jonathan received silver for his piano piece. Christina also got silver for Bible Quiz. Overall, the Lord really blessed. It was a whole lot of fun. I got to see many old friends and met several new friends.

We have been studying the law at church... actually, just getting into it. Today was kind of an overview of how to study the law and I found it extremely helpful and I think you will as well.

The law (first five books of the Old Testament) tends to be quite unstudied even by those of us that have grown up in the church. We know that all scripture is inspired and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), but we find it hard to apply the Old Testament law. We know we should obey the commandments to not steal, not murder, not covet, etc., but how about those other sacrifices and feasts and everything? Can we just pick and choose what we think applies and what we think doesn't apply? Is some of God's Word void now? The New Testament makes it clear that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in the person hood of Christ. Let's take a look at how these things apply.

God's Word is anything but void! You might be shocked, but all of scripture applies to today. No, I'm not saying go find a lamb and slaughter it, but the principles apply completely. We can't throw out any of scripture, but rather look for the principles in it. How do we know if we should obey it as written... "thou shalt not covet" for example... or if we should apply the principle of the instructions for a sacrifice for example? Sometimes the principles are at surface level such as "love your neighbor as yourself", other times it is buried deep and it takes much work to find the application for it. The principles in the Old Testament law will be clearly reflected and supported elsewhere in Scripture, including the New Testament. This is how we know if the principle is on the surface level or if we need to dig down deep to find it. Regardless, it all applies. We can't just go read Leviticus and expect to get everything from it by reading a chapter for five or ten minutes. It takes work... hard work. Practically speaking, we should look for:

1. What did this mean for the people in those days?
2. How did this help them love God?
3. How did this help them love others?
4. How does this apply to me now?

I would encourage everyone to read and study the Old Testament law and to dig deep and find out how it applies now... and then apply it! There are likely to be many things that Christians debate about within these texts, but we are encouraged by Paul to not make these matters of worthless arguments. There is nothing wrong with discussing these things, in fact, I'd encourage you to do so, but there is a point where things that are not completely clear can cause division. This ought not be the case. You might be interested in reading Acts 15 to see how the early church dealt with some of these issues. We are no longer under the requirements of the Old Testament law, but it still has application to the here and now!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Gospel According to 1 John 3

I went out with some guys today and played paintball in the hills... so much fun! :) Please don't ask me why it is fun to shoot each other with little plastic balls flying at 280 feet per second... but it is incredibly fun. It's actually not fun to play without getting hit either. It really doesn't make a lot of sense to think about, but I guess I shouldn't over-think it. :) I have been memorizing 1 John 3 along with a bunch of other people. I'd encourage you to do the same. If you shoot me an email, I'll get you a copy of the schedule. Anyway, it has been a great blessing to me over the last several days. I am up to verse 6 right now.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Over the last several days, as I have been memorizing and meditating on these words, there have been several things that have jumped out at me. First of all, the amazing love that He has poured on us through Him dying to take our punishment so that we could be called children of God. It caused me to think about the concept of the world not knowing me. Can I truly say that the world doesn't know me? When I am around others, do they feel the need to face who Christ is and what He has done, or am I just another person walking on the globe? Now that we have received the blessing of knowing Him and being called His child, when He is fully revealed, we will have no desire to be anything but exactly like He is. When we see Him in complete righteousness, there will be no higher calling than to be just like Him. Okay, well that is a ways down the road... but what about now? Has He not revealed Himself to us? Has He not given us the hope of His coming? Because of this great hope, it ought to push us on toward full purity because He is pure and we ought to desire nothing less than complete purity. Another thing that hit me hard was that we take sin so lightly. We see "little sins" and "big sins"... and as long as we stay with the "little sins", we are okay. Not true! Sin is living as if God's law doesn't exist. It's saying, God... I know you don't want me to do this, but I'm doing it. The opposite of sin is abiding in Him. He says that if we abide in Him that we cannot sin. If we sin, we are living as if we have never known Him at all! Is that really the picture that we want to give the world? Let me tell you... that is the picture the world has of Christians. They see us living like people that have never even known Him, so why should they follow our example? I realize there are no perfect people and that this is not a valid excuse for rejecting Him... but we must do our part in making His name glorious through our words and actions.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

To Die For

Over the last few days, I have been thinking quite a bit about what is worth living for and what is worth dying for. I watched the video of a memorial service of a young man who was literally sharing the truth of God's Word until the moment he died. He obviously lived a life passionate about God and eternity. He was not scared of death, but rather scared for those who didn't know Him when they died. As Christians, we ought to live with this same mindset. I think of our calling in Matthew 10:27-28.
What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The death of the body is not something to be feared. The death of our soul and the souls of others for eternity is something we ought to fear. I want to live a life of urgency for the souls of others. I saw a truck flip over on the freeway the other day. Thankfully, the girl got out okay... but life can end at any moment. Our next breath is not guaranteed to us! I was thinking about what my memorial service might be like someday (which is kind of weird in that I think Christ will come again in my lifetime), but anyway... I hear so often that people want to be honored for their love and service to the Lord at their memorial service. While this is great... I don't want to be the one honored at my memorial service. I want people to look at my life and see what an awesome God that I had the privilege of serving. I don't want them to see the service that I have done as me, but as God's work of grace in my heart. He alone is worthy of all of our praise.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Just Need Him!

As a worship leader for Awana and Bible study, I have found it easy to sing the words and not fully allow the words that I am singing to fill my heart. It is a constant battle. At Awana tonight, as I was deciding which songs to sing, I kept coming back to the fact that God is completely... 100% enough for me. The words of that song... all of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need, You satisfy me with Your love, and all I have in You is more than enough. It is so much easier to sing those words than to live in the reality of those things. I have often found myself coming back to that song as a reminder that He really is all I need. I can stop looking everywhere else! Really, it is the them of this blog. To count everything as loss compared to the value of Christ. I really cannot completely fathom how much He is to me. I was reminded of Acts 17:24-28.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and
earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human
hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life
and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to
live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and
the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps
they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said,
'For we also are His children.'

The fact is that we continue to exist only because God has allowed us to. If I could only maintain that mindset about my life... which is really not mine... it is His, I can only imagine how differently I would live. I am so drawn to my pride and selfishness... when He is giving me each breath that I breathe. Each breath is another opportunity to bring Him glory.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Best "Creations"

I guess I haven't really updated about the job situation and graduate school. I did not get the job at Cal Baptist, but I am thankful for the opportunity to interview and I know that God's will was done. I am still applying to a lot of different places and receiving very few responses, but God is in control. It only takes one! :) As far as graduate school goes, it looks like I will be bailing out on that for a while. It is actually $3,000 more per quarter than I thought it was (miscommunication). Right now, I don't think it would be the wisest investment of my money. To be completely honest, when I heard that it was online and that it was so cheap, I really didn't look elsewhere; however, the lady must have been talking about student fees when I asked her about tuition pricing. Oh well. God is in control of those things too. With the housing market being down like it is, I think that may be a wise investment of my money, but I am waiting on a few things like His leading and the job.

I was reading Jeremiah 10 today and thinking about it in light of what I do on a daily basis. I absolutely love programming and feeling creative, but really, all creativity comes from Him. These verses (14-15) don't completely apply, but you will see what I'm talking about.
Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his molten images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; in the time of their punishment they will perish.

While this is comparing a work of wickedness to God's creation, it applies to me to some extent as well. Being a software developer... or "creator" really feels nice, but when you think of it in light of "having breath", it looks pretty weak! I am not saying that the software isn't profitable, but just the fact that God puts breath into things is so incredible. With all the technology that we have, it is a blessing to read things like this where God puts us back in our place. It is humbling know that He chooses when we come into the world and when we go out... and there is nothing we can do to add a millisecond to that time. He truly is the only creator. I am simply a blessed servant with the ability to program computers that are infinitely less complex than the human mind. :) I can't even imagine the joy that He has in His creation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Back in the Air

I found out the other day that graduate school costs $3,000 more (per quarter) than I expected. It was a miscommunication. So everything is back in the air... I am debating whether or not to continue with it at this point. I would definitely appreciate your prayers regarding such decisions. I have been applying to a bunch of different places. The last one I applied for seems to be a great fit... and it's 3 miles from where a godly young man is working as a fireman, so it would be great to be able to spend some time with him and have some fellowship throughout the week. Prayers would be appreciated for that as well. God sure has a way of keeping me on my toes. haha Just when I think I have the plan figured out, He throws a loop in there to make sure that I am trusting Him. :) He knows best!

We read 2 Peter 1 in family devotions tonight. Verses 5 through 9 really caught my attention.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

This is both a great encouragement and a strong warning. I was really convicted tonight that I have been in the later situation far too often. The moment I start doing what I want to do rather than what God wants to do, I really am forgetting all that He has purified me from. He has taken me from the consequences of sin to the joy of living for Him and yet how often do I forget where I came from? I must be diligent in doing these things so that I am not useless or unfruitful. I want to live a life that is filled with the fruit of righteousness, not a wasted life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God Who Does the Impossible!

It is the Jewish Holiday of Purim (celebration of the deliverance from God through Esther). I was told that people read the book of Esther in order to remember it, so I decided to do so tonight. It has been a long time since I have sat down and just read through a book of the Bible... generally, I read a couple chapters and look at them in detail, but it is great to get an overview too! I was surprised at how fast it went. It probably only took 35 minutes or so. There isn't really anything deep as far as theology goes, but what a blessing it is to look at all the ways that God worked everything exactly how He wanted it in order to save His people. To name a few...

1) God causing the previous queen Vashti to not obey the king's commandment.
2) God using Mordecai to take care of Esther after her parents died.
3) God using the wisdom of Mordecai to help Esther win favor in the sight of the king.
4) God granting Esther favor.
5) God using servants to find out what was actually going to happen to the Jewish people.
6) God using Mordecai to influence Esther and give her courage.
7) God granting Esther favor in the eyes of the king when she went before him.
8) God giving Esther wisdom in how to set up the banquets.
9) God causing the king to not be able to sleep and thus finding out that Mordecai was never rewarded for saving the king's life.
10) God causing Haman to walk in at the perfect time in order to be completely humbled by having to honor Mordecai.
11) God giving Esther wisdom in how to break the news to the king about what Haman was doing.
12) God causing the servants of the king to inform him about the gallows that Haman made for Mordecai to make the king even more upset.
13) God granting Mordecai favor in the eyes of the king after Haman was hung on the gallows.
14) God granting Esther favor once again in order to plead for the lives of her people.
15) God granting Mordecai favor and wisdom in developing a plan to protect the Jewish people.
16) God blessing the Jewish people with great victories in defeating those that opposed them... including Haman's sons.

I am confident that I missed some, but wow!!! God's providence is absolutely incredible! It is such a blessing to serve a God who is in complete control. It make me wonder why I doubt His control so much. It's like I haven't seen all throughout His Word that He created everything, and does everything for His good pleasure... and His ways are always best. :) I pray that we can all come away from the story of Esther with a fresh reminder of who God is and what He can and does do.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Waiting on Him

I have been waiting for the last couple weeks to hear back from Cal Baptist regarding that interview that I had with the Vice President. I finally decided last Friday that it was time to give them a call and see what's up. I still haven't heard, so I am working hard and waiting on Him. I am sure that they are busy, but it would be nice to hear back sometime. :) I look forward to what God is going to do there. I do really want the job, but regardless, His will is always best. I was thinking about Psalm 40:1-4 today.
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.

Sometimes waiting on Him is difficult, and other times, He makes the whole process quite peaceful. These last few weeks have been so filled with His perfect peace regarding the job situation. God granted His peace and help in the phone interview, the interview with the IT board, and the interview with the Vice President. Regardless of if I get the job or not, He has used this as a great source of encouragement. I think the greatest blessing from trusting in Him as Psalm 40 says is that when we fully trust Him, we have no need to fear. I find it rather amazing that He has allowed me to not even worry about whether I get this job or not because His will is perfect and will be done regardless of us humans. He guides the decision makers to His best choice. I am so thankful for His protection of my heart in helping me wait on Him over these last few weeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doing Everything for Him

I have been enjoying work lately. I have been doing quite a bit more programming this last week than I had in the several previous weeks. I do enjoy general computer issues and all, but programming is what I enjoy most. I was thinking about my New Year's Resolutions today... and specifically how I am failing in many of them (especially the physical ones). It's hard to believe that we are finishing off month 2 of 12! I have so much to do! God has blessed in that I have been accepted into grad school! That will start March 30th.

I read Romans 14 today and it was a great encouragement to just do whatever I'm doing for the Lord. Take a look at verses 6-9.
He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

It is important that we keep in mind that God completely controls both the time we take our first breath and the time we take our last. Having this in mind, we ought to take advantage of every moment to live for Him. The reality is that the things we do that are not for Him are not eternally valuable... life is but a vapor in comparison to eternity. Frankly, I don't understand why I don't take these things more seriously than I do. Every moment of every day is another opportunity to live for Him... are we making the most out of the time He has given us or are we living for ourselves? I'm not asking this as someone that doesn't struggle with this. Honestly, I am a selfish person. I like my certain foods a certain way, I like to have time alone, I like to have fun playing sports, I like to receive compliments, I like to be recognized. If I had it completely my way, the whole world would probably revolve around me. I am thankful that He is wise enough not to let that happen and to humble me as I become proud. He is infinitely wise. I pray that I will make good use of the time He has given me for eternally significant things.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day... kind of.

Our championship game for team handball was today. It was an exciting game... always more exciting when you win. ;) It was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we went over to Grandma & Grandpa's and went out to eat with them. There were a whole lot of couples coming in and out of the restaurant throughout our time there and I couldn't help but notice the brokenness. Sitting right across from us was a couple in their 40's, obviously unmarried... the guy trying to do everything to make the lady happy and she trying to make him like her. I'm not saying that we ought to try to figure out everything about anyone in 45 mins of observing them, but it was saddening to me. Most likely, those two represent two families that have been torn apart. Just to the left of them there were two ladies about the same age. We all know that on Valentine’s Day, the husband takes out the wife on a Valentines date. I realize their husbands could be serving in the military or something, but I think it is safe to say that they represent two more broken families. Behind me was a father with his son and his son's girlfriend. He was obviously trying to make things as good as possible... but his wife was not there... yet another broken family (most likely). As I was sitting there, I was thinking about the marriage statistics that we hear quite frequently... over 50% of marriages ending in divorce. It was quite sobering to look about the restaurant and notice all the people that really are not having a truly happy Valentine’s Day. They are playing along... trying to make the moment fun... but behind it all is a life of brokenness... a hole that only He can fill. They seek for love in another man or woman, but they will never find it until they find Him. I'll be honest... it is scary being a young man going into the marriageable age and seeing all the brokenness from families torn apart by self-centeredness. I am by no means beyond self-centeredness and my future wife will not be either. I pray that my heart will be fixed on Him and that my words and actions will reflect that within my future marriage, and I pray the same for my future wife. He is the center of marriage... without Him, marriage is nothing. We are the next generation of marriages. We must keep Him at the core of everything we do... otherwise we will fail.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Refreshing Old Truths

Our pastor's dad has been in town to do our Christian Life Conference. He really didn't have anything "new" to say, but it was such an encouragement to hear the same old truths about the gospel and the life of a Christian. We went through a while bunch of passages, but I'll mention a couple things that really stood out to me. Being a Christian means that we are vessels (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

Since we are His vessels, we must live like His vessels... we must be prepared for His use at any time! There is no... "hang on, I'm not ready"... we must be ready now. The second thing that really stood out to me is 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

I'd say that most of us have heard this passage before, but one thing I never noticed is that if we destroy the temple of God (our body), He will destroy us. God's temple must be undefiled... we cannot go living in sin and then try to get back on track before church on Sunday. We must be living every moment as His temple... and keep it undefiled.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Learning New Stuff

Work has been an interesting mix of things. The other day a dentist came over from a few offices away and told us that her internet had died for one room in her office. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. We ended up spending like three hours testing cables with sound testers, cutting ethernet cables and putting on new ends, making ethernet wall jacks, going up in the rafters and following the cable, etc. It was really quite fun... other than the fact that we never got it to work. haha We got some stuff to work, but not all of it. The only thing I can think of is that the wire got cut somewhere that we can't see. It's just weird. I had to work in LA today... it's always nice to see people happy with the work we do. It has been a blessed few days at work.

I am still waiting to hear the results of the interview from last Friday. If you all wouldn't mind praying for that, I would greatly appreciate it. I finished my applying process for grad school (yay!). Lord willing, I will start on March 30th! There are a few other opportunities coming up... and I really need His direction and guidance in these things. Without Him, I am nothing... and I'm not just saying that. I have seen enough of me to know that when things are left up to me, I make a mess. Please pray that His ways would be clear and that I would follow in His ways. I read Romans 8 today... and I think I'm going to read it again tomorrow. It is just so filled with content. Verses 5-10 really stuck out to me.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

This passage is really practical for me in that I can quickly gauge where my focus is by the things I think about. If my thoughts are centered on Him, I am probably living according to the Spirit, but if my mind is set on selfish things, I am obviously not living for the fame of God! In fact, it is impossible for me to please God if I am busy pleasing myself. It is such an incredible blessing that He would indwell me and enable me to live righteously. I want to be dead to sin and alive to Him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

He Wins Victories

This is a bit delayed, but church on Sunday was a huge blessing for me. We did a bit of a study on God as our banner and what that means. Pastor Tim gave us a list of a bunch of passages that use this term... (Numbers 21:8, Numbers 26:10, Psalm 60:4, Isaiah 5:26, Isaiah 11:10-12 Isaiah 18:3, Isaiah 31:9, Isaiah 33:23, Isaiah 49:22, Isaiah 62:10, Jeremiah 4:6, Jeremiah 50:2, Jeremiah 51:12, 27, Ezekiel 27:7, Luke 2:12, Matthew 12:39-40, John 2:11). Anyway, Exodus 14:13-14 as well as Exodus 17:9-11 really stuck out to me as we studied the character of God.
Exodus 14:13-14--But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

Exodus 17:9-11--So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

This is very interesting. In both of these situations, it was clear that only God could win the battle. I love how He does things in such a way that we cannot take credit for them. He must receive all the glory! The interesting thing is the differences between these two situations. The first one, the people didn't need to really do anything. In the second one, the people had to take action! Pastor Tim pointed out how the second can be a picture of prayer in that Moses was not at all directly involved in the battle and yet God chose to have Moses put his hands up and when Moses did, they started winning the battle. In the same way, while we are not at all directly related to many situations that people face, we ought to lift them up to Him in intercessory prayer. Another thing to note is that intercessory prayer is difficult. Ever tried praying for an hour? If you haven't, I highly encourage you to do so. I have not had the opportunity lately to do so... or rather have not made the opportunity to do so, but it really sets your mind on things above as Colossians 3:2 commands us to do. I am reminded that He is the one that fights and wins battles... I must do my part, but He ultimately produces the results. As I go to in this interview on Friday at 8 am, I must do my part, but ultimately, it is completely up to Him. If He wants me to have this job, I will have it, and if He doesn't, I will not have it. Pray that His will be done and that I would be diligent in doing what He has me do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First Interview

It is pretty weird I guess that I have never had to apply for a job... and never had to have an interview. God simply placed the opportunities in my lap. I cannot thank Him enough. While I absolutely love my job, I think the responsible thing for me is to pursue other jobs that are closer to my goal (being able to support a family and buy a house). I must say... it's an interesting balance trying to be completely content, and yet not settling for less than He wants me to pursue. Anyway, I had my first interview today (over phone) and God blessed. I thought twenty minutes would be a long time... we ended up talking for nearly a half hour. :) Honestly, I was quite nervous, but He completely calmed me down during the interview. He is good! I will be scheduling a time for an in-person interview and an exam probably sometime next week. I can't wait! Pray that His will be done and that I would accept it fully regardless of the outcome.

I have been studying Romans the last few days. I read Romans 5 a couple times today. I know it's nothing new, but verse 7-10 are such a wonderful picture of what He did for us.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

One thing that Pastor Tim often reminds us of is that we always need the gospel. No matter what situation we are in, we need to hear the gospel. It's not just something that we need to go and tell people that don't know Him personally (although that is extremely important), but it is something we need to constantly be mowing over in our minds. I find it amazing that no matter how many times I hear this, it does not get old. It's an incredible thing to give your life for someone, but I am going to die anyway (unless He comes again first). He was perfect... He didn't need to die and yet He chose to save me when I rejected Him. When I told Him to back off so that I could do things my own way... He loved me and died for me. When I tell Him that I want to do things my own way now, He still loves me and offers forgiveness. Two words come to mine... Amazing Grace!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Walking Worthy of His Calling

We just finished our pre-playoff season of team handball. God blessed our team with a 9-0 record. It has been a ton of fun, and I've had a few opportunities to mention things of the Lord. I was planning on playing at the Staple Center tonight, but God used my pastor to inform me that things at NBA games are not really all fun and games (no pun intended). The whole atmosphere is really not a wholesome environment with the immodesty of the cheer leaders and all. While I think going to such things can be okay if one's focus remains on the Lord and there are people there to keep you accountable, but it's just not an ideal place to put yourself in (especially as a guy). For this reason, I decided that it would be best for me to not take part in this event. Yes, it would have been fun to play in front of 15,000 people, but really, that doesn't matter. I am trying out for the Olympics next Saturday fully expecting to not play in the Olympics or attend the training camps even if they do graciously choose to accept me. My mom was researching some random things, and we found out that the president of the team handball Olympic committee is really quite corrupt, and I will not play under his leadership. Yes, it is that bad! So, if God wants to do something with this, He has His work cut out for Him. :) I will go tryout and do my best and then see what God does. If He does nothing, that is completely fine, and I will be thankful for the experience.

I think I have blogged about this before, but both in Awana and in our evening devotions, we have been studying Ephesians. Really, you can never get too much of the Word, so I know that I am not wasting my time if this is the second time I've posted about this passage. Frankly, I think there will be things that I've posted about five or more times, and it will still be beneficial. His Word will always accomplish what it was sent to do (Isaiah 55:11). I read Ephesians 4 today and was thinking specifically about verses 1-3.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

First of all, it is amazing to me that Paul... being a prisoner (not exactly the most fun thing in the world) sees himself as a prisoner of the Lord. His focus is on the fact that if God had not placed him there in prison, he would not be there. The whole idea of walking worthy of His calling is a lifetime challenge for me. I will never be worthy of His calling. He doesn't need me, but He wants me. What a privilege it is to serve Him! He sets out some nice guidelines to help us walk worthy of His calling... being humble, gentle, patient, being tolerant in love, being diligent to preserve unity and peace. Tolerance is a word I hate. I hate it because it is used in such a worldly way. It is used to push Christians out of revealing the truth. We are not to tolerate sin! The tolerance Paul is speaking of I think goes more along the lines of long-suffering and patience. The fact is that we all don't agree on everything... we have our differences, but we are to preserve the unity of the Spirit. We are the body of Christ, and the body must work together in order to function well. That was more or less a side note. The point is that we need to live in such a way that we are worthy of His calling. Yes, I realize it is impossible to stand up to His standard of perfection, but we can put every ounce of strength into living for Him, and He is pleased by this. :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Working for Him

Work has been going pretty well the last few days; however, I was informed on Friday (pay day) that the company didn't have enough money to pay me. As it first meets the eye, this is generally not a good thing. As I have been thinking over it the last few days, I have great peace knowing that when it all is said and done, my work is to be for Him... that pay check is a blessing, but it not the ultimate goal of working. Our work is to glorify Him, and generally, He blesses us with money to go along with that work. I know that He is completely in control and that this is for His best! I have sent out a few applications to different places over the last several months, but I sent out one to Cal Baptist University yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I actually fit all of the qualifications quite well. It would have to be a God thing for it to work out. I am excited to see what He has in store. Maybe the current company will turn around and be able to pay what I will need in order to support a family someday... maybe they won't. Regardless, I know that He will lead me... and with that, I have great peace. I am still working... even more so for Him, and we'll see what He does with it.

I have been sick the last few days. I have a nasty sore throat, but this too shall pass. :) Team handball has been tons of fun... it looks like I will have the opportunity to play in the Staple Center (where the Lakers and Clippers play) next Saturday. :) I am stoked! Olympic tryouts are on the 24th, so I'm preparing for that as well. Please pray that my focus would continually be on Him. If I am doing this for the sake of making myself great, I pray that He would not allow me to succeed in anything. I want my success and/or failure to be honoring to Him, not about me.

I read 2 Samuel 13 today. Honestly, I didn't get much out of it. It is pretty sickening the corruption that existed... even in the kings house. While not all blame can be put on parents, seeing David's sin, it doesn't surprise me that his son would sin in such a bad way. I pray that God would give us courage and strength to stand where the people before us fell... and to be godly parents to our children. It really does make a difference!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

How God Tests Us

Church was great this morning. I am continually blessed by the teaching of Pastor Tim. I learn so much through what God speaks through him. The sermon this morning was about how God tests us.

God uses tests to develop His relationship with His people. He uses test to show-ff the priceless value of our faith and to bring praise, glory, and honor to Himself through the display of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). He uses testing to help us learn the fear of the Lord in order that we wouldn't sin (Exodus 20:20). His testing makes us humble and reveals what is truly in our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2). Often times, He lets us try things our own way to show us just how weak we really are. We took a look at King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:29-31.

He made cities for himself and acquired flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great wealth. It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. Even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

God blessed Hezekiah amazingly. He was a king that feared the Lord... and yet, God "left him alone" for a time so that he would realize what was really in his heart. Honestly, it's a completely stupid thing he did... to share with his enemies all about his wealth, but that's exactly what we do when we aren't depending on God. We can do some very bad things when He isn't helping us be obedient. Remember that every good thing comes from above. We would not obey if it weren't for Him helping us. Sometimes He tests us through trials, and other times He tests us through great blessing. His tests are meant for us to pass in order to glorify Him. We must stay fully committed to Him!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolutions for 2009

New Years resolutions have good aspects and bad aspects. They can be bad in that you feel horrible if/when you don't stick with them. In that I know that I will fail in some of these things, I am not so much focused on keeping them entirely, but rather sticking with it when I do fail at these things. Last year, I kept my resolutions completely to myself. I actually stuck to them for the most part, but this year, I decided to share them because it will help keep me accountable to sticking to them. In that the body of Christ is made to work together, I would request your help and encouragement in doing these things to the best of my ability for His glory.

  • Pick a verse to meditate on and/or memorize for the day.
  • Spend at least some time in the Word daily… preferably over 15 minutes.
  • Make prayer lists and pray for them daily.
  • Put time with Him before anything else.

  • Study and take the GRE.
  • Get Microsoft certified.
  • Apply and hopefully start graduate school.
  • Learn SQL more in depth.
  • Learn CSS more in depth.
  • Completely code the Hard Thing project and Awana camp project.
  • Read at least five Christian books that draw me closer to Him.

  • Stay involved in sports (basketball at church).
  • Exercise and workout at the gym a couple times per week if possible.
  • Spend more time playing with Jonathan.

  • Build stronger relationships with godly friends and spend more time with them encouraging them in the Lord.
  • Stay committed to the Lord and my future spouse within all of my relationships.
  • Not spend excessive amounts of time with anyone that has values that could dim my sense of right and wrong.

  • Figure out if my current job will be able to pay what I’ll need to support a family and if not, find a new job.
  • Do my work as for the Lord rather than for men.
  • Show myself to be a diligent worker making wise use of my time and my employer’s time.
  • Work on my some of my own projects on the side.

2009 is here!

It was a great blessing having a day off of work today. I actually slept in until about 9:30 am... something I never do. It was a great day with the family. We spontaneously decided to go up to Big Bear and go snow tubing. I've never been snow tubing before... but it is a blast. Skiing is up another notch, but it was still a ton of fun. A few of the Hearns (some friends) joined us up there which made it all the more fun. No one got seriously hurt or anything... just some bruised knees and other body parts. haha It was a completely blast! Anyway, I really don't have a whole lot to say in this post other than I desire a God-filled 2009. There is an amazing peace that comes from knowing He is 100% in control of everything that happens in 2009. Not only that, but He is good! Combine these two and you have a great 2009!!! I am excited to see what He will do. Yes, there will be times that everything comes easy... and other times where there will be tough trials, but He will do all things for His glory in our hearts. This is a unique time of life... lots of transitions and changes. It has some scary aspects to it... and I think the lack of security in this time is a great encouragement to depend completely on Him. I am excited! Have a happy God-filled New Year!