In Deed and In Truth

thoughts from a Christian

Social Change

So many groups today strive to change the world, hoping to affect and influence their respective societies by inundating them with information and proactive propaganda, activities and events, rallies to publicly display their support or opposition against their personal axiological beliefs.  This is their aim.  This is their purpose.  And this is their prerogative.

Eventually, the responsibility and burden of social change also falls upon the church.  Various denominations focus ministries and money toward social change for the betterment of society.  (The definition of “betterment” is thoroughly subjective, according to the one arguing for it).  People are always striving to change societal perceptions, values, and priorities.  They reach out to the law makers, the judges, the politicians, the church leaders, the business minded and wealthy, with hopes of stirring change in these highly influential people that will one day cause a chain reaction, bringing attention to the evils (or good) that plague mankind.

Here’s where the change needs to be made.  If one truly wants to make a change in the world, in society, in a school, in their church, one must understand that education is an agent for social change.  The problem is that we’re focusing our attention on educating the wrong demographic.

In order to change the world, change society, or change our church, it’s not so much about educating those who are in positions of leadership, authority, and influence.  It’s about educating those who will be.

It’s about educating our youth.

And it’s not just about educating our youth, but providing our youth with a Christian education, understanding that the Bible must be the integration point for their entire knowledge.  Christian education is to provide a protected atmosphere for the young where this transmission can take place and where Christian values may be imparted to the young in their formative years through formal curriculum and through more informal aspects of the educational contexts such as peer group or extra-curricular activities.[1]

These are the minds that must be introduced to sound, conservative Biblical principles, principles that they will base their epistemology upon, principles that will guide and direct their lives.  It is these principles that will produce a strong hold against the things of this world that will inevitably corrupt a young mind bound for positions of authority.  If we can protect the values of our youth, they will endure society, firm in their Biblical and Christological conviction, and will carry that same conviction into the authoritative roles that they will one day occupy.

It’s not about trying to change the mind of our leaders today.  It’s about developing the minds of the leaders of tomorrow.

If you want to change society, take your focus off the rallies, the flyers, letters to the politicians, the stand-ins, the protests, the t-shirts, the websites, and the blogs.  Instead, make the 20 year investment by teaching Biblical principles to our children today, from the moment they can determine their axiological beliefs.  And when they are old, when they become our future politicians, future business entrepreneurs, future presidents, and future church leaders, we can trust the Lord that they will not depart from it.

(Picture taken from http://cheritasmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/I-want-change.jpg)


[1] Philosophical Foundations of Christian Education, The Social Function of Christian Education pg. 79

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March 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lust of the Flesh

Since there’s been an added interest in the topic of sex and carnal desires, I figured it was high time to write another blog post about that which people can relate to and that which some cannot seem to get enough.  Here is the first of the three descriptions of the “things of this world.”

LUST OF THE FLESH

It is important that each and everyone of us takes a look at our own personal daily lives and determine what takes precedence in our lives.  What do we keep in front of our eyes?  What do we focus our minds on?  What are our hearts filled with?  Is it with the things of God or the things of this world?

Once we determine what takes priority in our lives we must make a decision.  Do we stay the course or do we change direction?  If we’ve remained obedient to the things of God then we are on the right track.  But if we’ve come to the revelation that our lives are filled more with the things of this world, what must we do then?  It is then that we must turn away from the things that are destructive and turn back to God.  The question we then ask ourselves is, “what are we turning away from?”

I. The Lust of the Flesh

1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.”

I was once enlightened to an important and critical fact.  We in this world must learn to transform our love for sin into our love for God.  We must learn to love sin less and love God more.  We must exchange our love for sin for the love of God.  This is of course very difficult for many of us.  We find gratification with sin.  We find fulfillment.  We feel as if we are whole by committing the sins that we commit.  When we try and exchange our sin for God, that fulfillment may not be as tangible.  We try to stay satisfied with God, but it’s difficult because God isn’t as visible or tangible as the sin we’ve been holding to.

Then eventually we feel empty.  We need to be filled.  God is absent.  We don’t feel him.  But we sure do know the feeling we get when we commit a sin.  We remember how good it felt.  We remember how it satisfied our longings.  We could not wait for God to fill the void in our hearts.  It’s much more easily satisfied by sin.

But we remember what Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well.  He who drinks of the water of this well will thirst again but he who drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst.  We may satisfy our cravings temporarily by committing the sins that we know make us feel good, but it is a short term gratification.  We must turn away from these things and turn to God.

We are fortunate enough that the apostle John introduced us to the things that we should be wary of.  In the introduction, we asked ourselves, what are the things that we are supposed to turn from?  Sin, sure.  But more specifically John gives us three weapons the enemy uses that we must look out for.

The first is the lust of the flesh.  The Greek word for “lust” is epithumia.  It speaks of “a desire, a craving, a longing, a desire for what is forbidden.”[1] This desire is for the flesh.  The Greek word for “”flesh” is sarx.  It “denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.”[2] In simpler terms, when talking of the lust of the flesh, it talks of the humanly desires.  “The lust of the flesh is, subjectively, the humour and appetite of indulging fleshly pleasures; and objectively, all those things that excite and inflame the pleasures of the flesh.”[3]

This is the nature of man.  Fleshly, carnal obsession and desires constitute the makeup of mankind.  As sin permeates throughout our entire being, we are characterized by the desire to fulfill the desires of our flesh.  It is our wanting, our longing, to indulge in pleasures of the earthly kind.  Do we not find ourselves desiring to indulge in the appetites of that which ultimately corrupts our character, our integrity, our morality and thwarts any progress of our relationship with God?

Sensual and impure desires overtake that which we know is correct and moral.  This world allows these desires to be accessible, attainable, and acceptable.  They are lusts that are freely given.  They are desires sought after by the majority of this world that if one desires not to pursue, they are of the minority, are looked down upon, spat upon, and called intolerant.

And yet, they are still desires that we justify.  We crave it.  We desire it.  We need it.  I’m suffering and it brings me temporary gratification.  The flesh is good at the moment my lust is being satisfied.  I only consider what is immediately in front of me.  And what is in front of me is lust.  Lust for violence, for gore, for sex, for men, for women, for alcohol, for drugs, for hate, for wrath, for envy, for jealousy, and uncleanness.  For everything discussed in Galatians 5:19.  There are nearly twice as many works of the flesh than there are works of the Spirit.  We must be wary of what takes precedence in our lives.

We discussed earlier that we must decide to not fill our hearts with the things of this world, but rather to turn away from those things and fill our hearts with the things of God.  This is necessary because we remind ourselves that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually mind is life and peace.

We must consider our own lives and decide if the lust of the flesh supersedes our love for God.  Are we overridden with sensual impure thoughts?  Worse yet, are we overridden with sensual impure actions?  Do we seek immediate gratification even at the expense of our soul?

With each temptation we succumb to we make a bold statement that we would rather live for the lust of our flesh than for the glory of God.  We’ve heard so many times to repent and to turn away but never the specific answer of what to turn away from.  With conviction we know that which we must steer clear of.  The lust of the flesh keeps us far away from God.

(Picture taken from http://pics.livejournal.com/ric14u/pic/0002h9qk/s320x240)


[1] Blueletterbible.com

[2] Ibid

[3] Matthew Henry’s Commentary

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Journey’s Through Skype

After having two separate sessions of video chat via Skype with two of the closest people/persons to us, it seems highly appropriate that the conviction on my heart and mind to discuss is that regarding the uncertainty of the unknown and the inescapable unbearable.

There are 3 different families, (mine included) that are living completely different lives, on three separate continents, all with different surrounding circumstances, with one very specific calling: to continue the work of the Lord’s ministry.  One family has inherited a small local church which they have transformed into a flourishing weekly Bible study, reconnecting on a discipleship level that was never attained before during their previous pastor’s tenure.  The other family departed for their home country after waiting more than 20 years to be called back home, eager to answer the call of the ministry, only to find out that there is still more waiting to be done and more patience to try.  And then the last is dealing with the difficulty of determining what takes precedence, the ministry or the immediate family.

We all put our heart and soul into what God has called us to do.  And on very different levels, He’s called us to fully trust in Him.

After walking away from both conversations, it’s clear to me that the challenge of trusting in God during this very tumultuous journey is a sentiment that I can claim to have with two of the families that we love so much.  We expressed our concerns, anxieties, and fears.  We talked of how difficult it is to trust in God and the recent personal experiences of when our trust was successful and when it failed.  Our countenance was sharpened as we leaned on one another for words of encouragement and strength, realizing that tens of thousands of miles apart, we were all going through the same exact testing of faith.

And personally, this realization helped bring directly to the forefront of my mind that I, and my family, am not alone.  Yes, God is our very present help during times of trouble.  But oddly enough, the feeling that He never left and continues to be by our side, comes in the form of the reality that some of our closest friends are enduring the same test of faith that we are, just in different circumstances.  It’s almost as if He’s telling me, “I know this is difficult.  To show you I am considerate of your situation, I am allowing you to endure this with some of your closest friends, to commiserate and empathize with what you are going through, so that they can be used by Me to bring you strength, peace, comfort, and joy… and so that you can be used to bring them the same.”

Every day, we wake up never understanding how God will work in our lives, and we go to sleep, amazed at the way He did.  Some days are more difficult than others to trust in Him.  Those are the days I go online and check my Skype to see if my closest loved ones are there to carry me through.

The simple truth that they are enduring times where they lack trust and are filled with discouragement and pain yet they press on toward the goal in Christ, pushes me to do the same.  Because they trust in God, it encourages me to trust in Him.  Because they love Him, they can trust Him.

And because they love Him…. I love them.

For all those who are dealing with the difficulty of trusting in God, some words of encouragement from the only source of our epistemology.  May you continue to trust in Him, with all your heart, for not once, has He ever left nor forsaken you.

James 1:2,3 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

(Picture taken from http://cdn.venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/webcam-chat-im-video-chat-free-chat-rooms-paltalk.jpg)

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Pride

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with is comparing myself to others who have walked the same road that I have.  There are many people whom I admire and respect, those who have accomplished so many things, accomplishments that I hope to achieve some day, achievements that I can’t seem to wait to lay a hold of.

Then there are individuals who are walking the same path that I am currently.  It’s a hard-fought battle for me, not to see them as competition or adversaries, but rather teammates and comrades.  It’s a feeling of one-upmanship, being pushed to be greater, to do better, to do more than the next person.  In a capitalistic American society, this is the right mind-set, but in the area of ministry, one can be considered delusional.

It was the apostle John that stated “He must increase but I must decrease.”  How absolutely necessary when speaking about our Savior and apropo when talking about our peers.

In my mind, I use Proverbs 27:17 as a quasi-justification for my emotions: “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  My friends, my peers, those I look up to, are used to sharpen my countenance, therefore I must do the same.  I must be an iron to them to help sharpen their countenance.

But this in turn transforms into a challenge, a competition, a desire to “beat” and “win.”  It no longer becomes a humble ministry, but rather a prideful contest.

I can do more.  I can influence more people.  I can be more popular.  I can win.  I will win.

What sad state of affairs when this mentality has infiltrated my character.  I loathe myself because of it.  And it is not something that I can simply set aside.  I’ve been working so hard at it.  Everytime I see someone I love accomplish something great for the Lord, I hate that my first gut reaction is to ask myself “How can I top that?  How can I do better than him?”

This is all for the Lord.  And one of my greatest weaknesses is to assume otherwise due to the pride of life that has permeated throughout my thinking and my heart’s direction.  It is James that reminds me not to boast in my tomorrow, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ (James 4:15)

Unfortunately, I have “boast[ed] in [my] arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.”  (James 4:16)  My pride is but one of the thorns of my flesh.  It is this relocation to the Philippines that I hope my pride will be set aside in place of humility.  “For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Prov. 3:34)

To my friends who walk this journey with me, in sincerity, humility, and love, your progress and achievements inspire me to do more but to be LESS.  Though I may not have voiced it to you, I ask that you forgive me for challenging you, and placing myself in a position to try and supercede you in my superficial, fictional contest of ministry.  Please pray for and teach me how to be more humble, to approach ministry and friendship the way you have with me; with genuineness and a fervor to simply serve the Lord out of obedience, not acclaim, prestige or rewards.

My delusional idea of a competitive ministry has brought me to the edge of my cliff.  It’ll be my pride, or lack thereof, that decides whether or not I take another step.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! – James 4:8

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Autumn Reflection

Autumn Reflection 2

I suppose it’s time for some reflection.  It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on In Deed In Truth and it’s not for lack of content.  I’d even hate to pawn it off on lack of time.  But reality is reality.  Can’t fake the funk.

It has been a ridiculously insane 2 months.  The beginning of autumn was a progressive, forward thinking, looking toward new and exciting developments, time of the year.  On August 7, 2009, we welcomed our second daughter into the world.  The last 3 months has been filled with diapers, wipes, breast milk, screaming newborns, screaming older sisters, and not nearly enough time to cultivate and nurture the marriage between a husband and wife.  Up’s and downs.  In’s and Outs.  Kriss and Kross… don’t it make you wanna jump, jump.

Not only did the Lord give me another beautiful baby daughte, but my secular full time job maintains its consistent demands as well as the church in Pasadena, CA.  Unfortunately, many things had to take a back seat and the last 6 months has forced me to prioritize big time.

I’ve tried to maintain the level of activity with Events For Christ, but my family, church, and work has demanded more of my time and attention.  As much as I wanted to keep EFC going and growing, it was just far too difficult.  But things are starting to slow down and get into a nice rhythm.  EFC seems to be back on my radar and I can’t be more excited.  Thank you to all those who continue to encourage us with your support for Events For Christ

Not only is EFC back on my radar, but a brand new ministry movement has pushed itself to the front of the line.  The Road to Peace is a new ministry that the Lord has placed on my heart and I’ve obliged to undertake.  Starting with a rally this month, a conference in January, videos, pictures, books, t-shirts, sponsorships, collaborations, and the sort spewed about, needless to say, not much else has found its way into my schedule.  I have a team of 4 individuals with another 4 consultants.  It’s God’s providence that He doesn’t allow me to feel how big this may get.  We are the US division.  We already have a South African contingent.  Sometime in 2010, we’re hoping to be able to travel internationally and bring this movement overseas.  (We’re looking into penetrating the Philippine market starting in 2010 as well.)  Big ideas.  An even bigger God.

Speaking of the Philippines, a little birdie told me that there’s a need for my presence in Forest Hills, Cebu City, where the main organizational ministry is located.  As vice-chairman of EL International Church Inc, it’s important for me to be in the midst of all the goings on of EL International.  Lord willing, we’ll be opening our elementary school next year, continuing the construction of the building, attending to the details of the library, and adding more components to the computer lab.  Not to mention the 7 additional congregations that are currently planted.  There’s a congregation in Valenzuela city, PI that is still without a pastor but diligently worships and serves weekly.

As busy as I think I am here in the US, I know that things are 100 times more arduous and hectic in Pinas.  It helps me keep things in perspective.

My older sister warned me earlier this week of the work load that I’m carrying.  From her viewpoint, being the sole provider of my family and carrying everything else is unhealthy and hazardous to my heart.  A myocardial infarction might be in my future.  I pray that it’s not.

All in all, as busy as my days, nights, weeks, and weekends may be… as overwhelmed as I may potentially feel, I’m having fun.  I’m doing what I love to do, which is serve the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  I don’t feel like I’m wasting any of my talents and gifts because I’m just focusing on giving it back to Him.  It brings joy to my heart.

And as long as my daughters rush to the door every time they hear me and usher me into my home with open arms and wide smiles, welcomed to a family based on love and support, God’s goodness is revealed to me every single day.

And I challenge God…Can it really get any better?

(Picture taken October 2009, Keilah Naomi at Finkbiner Park in Glendora, CA)

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Autographs Please

No Autographs Please

A while back, I remember having a conversation with someone at an event.  Our conversation was going quite well and we were discussing many issues of the ministry.  Mid sentence, he stopped me from talking and asked me if I could take a picture of him and the speaker for the evening, that had just so happened to be within proximity of where we were.  At that moment, our conversation ceased as his conversation with the other person began.

What am I to think?  Obviously what I was saying wasn’t nearly as interesting as what he could be talking about with the other person.  In retrospect, the look on his face as I was speaking made it look like he had mentally checked out and was just looking for an opportunity to ask me to take this famous photograph.

I can’t fault him for his actions.  If you want to talk to somebody, then you want to talk to somebody.  I just hope that I’m never the cause of a cancelled conversation.

Coming in a day and age where there is so much exposure, self made, man made with an ease of publicity, anybody at any time can become popular on many levels.  Want to show your face?  Youtube it is.  Got something to say.  Podcast.  Afraid of exposing your face or voice?  Get a blog.  Anybody, anywhere can come out of nowhere and rise to prominence and fame.  (Daniel’s little horn anyone?)

But just as everybody is going in one direction, hoping for that recognition, I’ve been spending the last few years, trying to stay away from the pull of popularity.  (Even at this moment, this blog is read only by my family and a few friends.  Though this entry may make me seem hypocritical, I assure you, my intent for this blog is not for popularity.  In due time, it will be a vehicle meant for more theological, educational purposes).

As carnal human beings, there are insecurities that lie in wait.  When others begin to feed our insecurities, the more we crave it.  When others shower us with praise and push us toward celebrity status, it’s hard to remain humble.  The enemy takes hold of any opening, and we begin down a slippery slope.

As a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, we should all be defined by service.  I work, do the things I do, sacrifice, and toil because I want to serve.  I want to serve because I was bought at a price.  I want to serve because greater love has no man than this, than a man serve (lay down his life for) his friends.  I need to serve… because Christ served me by dying for me.  This act of service shouldn’t be done with attaining worldy rewards in mind.

Other pastors, preachers, teachers, speakers, evangelists, theologians, and clergy leaders may love the attention, crave it, and possibly handle it better than I could.  Kudos to them.  However, let’s not be mistaken.  I’m not saying that ALL attention is bad.  I just don’t want any additional attention that might tempt me to think of myself as anything more than a servant of God.

I’m not walking that path.  Give me the path less travelled by.  Let me walk the road marred by sacrifice and tears.  Let me trod the trail that evidences no sign of celebrity compromise, blinded by the flash of photography.

And let me walk it with Christ leading me.

Picture taken from http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/paparazzi.jpg

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Book Cover

Book Cover

This self-revelation came to me.  A new nickname.  Just call me… The Book Cover.  Why?  Because I get judged, that’s why.  I’m just wondering if there’s some sort of vibe or look that I give off that makes people immediately judge me either positively or negatively.  I’m not sure.  But I always get the feeling that people see me differently than I really am.  Maybe I should work on my first impression.

Or maybe it’s because I’m 26 and when people introduce me as a pastor it means nothing to them.  Maybe in the eyes of many, I haven’t yet paid my dues, or my credibility is called into question, or maybe they “despise me because of my youth.”  Maybe I haven’t made it around the circuit enough.  Maybe I haven’t spoken at enough churches or taught at enough universities or my name isn’t as well known as others.

Maybe it’s the way I dress.  Shorts, t-shirt, and some kicks don’t necessarily scream out that I’m a pastor.  Maybe my look discredits me and leads others not to take me seriously when it comes to the ministry.

The Book Cover.  Don’t judge me just yet.

I have to be honest.  Most of the people who find out that I’m a pastor engage me in conversation and we begin to have a nice talk about the ministry, my life, my testimony, their life, their opinions and an overall “getting to know you, getting to know all about you” moment.  But there are some that seem to not want to have anything to do with me when they find out that little nugget of information.  And it’s not the people that first come to your mind.

These are the ones who are established members of various ministries.  They are other pastors, teachers, Bible school professors.  They are the elders, the deacons, the associate pastors and church leaders.  They are the ones that have years of experience on me.  They are the ones that I shake hands with and say but two words to me.  They are the ones that I hope to look to for encouragement, advice, guidance, direction, and possible mentorship.

Maybe I’m making a big deal about it.  Maybe it’s my insecurities.  Maybe it’s me creating some sort of internal controversy to further motivate and inspire me to do more and be more for God.

Whatever it is, the fact still reminds.

I’m human.  And I don’t like to be judged.

But what can I do about that?  I don’t know.  Prove to others that I’m not who they seem?  Work harder to prove to myself that I’m not who people think I am?  Judge others just as extensively and shallow as I seem to be judged by first impression, just to give them a taste of their own medicine?

I may just do that.  All of it may be justified, even urged by others.  I just may, but not just yet.

Because as of right now… I still have some reading to do.

Picture taken from http://blogacademy.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/first-impressions.jpg

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Follow the Leader

follow_the_leader_2_b

I’ve always known that a true, successful leader is not defined by what they accomplish, but by what their followers accomplish.  For more than a decade, I’ve been placed in positions of leadership.  Is there such a thing as a natural born leader?  I’m not sure.  I’m leaning more to the notion that a leader is made, not born.  All I know is that as a leader I’m still learning.  And I’m confident that I’ll still be learning for decades more to come.

There are many leadership hats that I must wear.  As a husband I must lead my wife.  As a father I must lead my daughters.  As a pastor, I must lead my congregation.  As a project manager I must lead my team.  There are many people to lead.

The difficulty comes in how to lead all these different people.

How I lead my wife is different from how I lead my daughters.  How I lead one member of the congregation is different from how I should lead another member.  How I lead one employee is different from another.

Every person is different.  Every person has different buttons, different motivational hot spots, many insecurities, many talents, many strengths, and many different ways that they follow.

They are also detracted from certain types of leaders.  How in the world am I supposed to figure out how each person is to be treated?

One person needs affirmation while another person needs scrutiny.  Another needs structure while yet another needs freedom.  People will all react differently to how I approach them.  I’ve learned that there is no “cookie cutter” leadership.  One leadership style will mesh with one while resent another.

So what must I do?  Observe.  Adapt.  Understand.

Love.

To emulate the greatest leader ever to grace this world with His presence, Jesus Christ based His entire ministry on love.

I can talk to people differently, motivate them differently, criticize them differently, push them differently, educate them differently, instruct them differently, and overall lead each person differently.

But I must love them all the same.

Picture taken from http://www.chromasia.com/galleries/0701052111.php

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where’s the Love?

Wheres the Love

Yesterday, in church, we studied the topic of loving one another as a commandment.  There were many things that we discussed and many thoughts crossed through my mind.  There was one, however, that we didn’t expound on too much, but stayed with me for awhile, even until now.  I talked briefly about it with a few church members and one visitor, which evidences to me how I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Jesus Christ gave us the greatest commandment when He told us to love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).  As men and women, we strive to accomplish this.  I’ve noticed many people giving their all to the Lord, hands raised to the heavens, singing their hearts out, constantly praising God and expressing how much they love Him.  They reiterate it through their prayers, their songs, their verbal testimony, their preaching, and their social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and whatever else we get into.  They really do love God.

But what about the second that is just like it?  To love one another as oneself (v.31)?  It’s interesting how people will be more than willing to show how much they love God and follow that commandment, but when commanded to love others, there’s no evidence of obedience.

What?  Are we defined as Christians by how much love we show to God through our worship and church services?  Isn’t it ironic that in order to show how much we love God, we do it, not by putting on a public display of adoration, but rather through genuinely loving others?

I’ve seen self-proclaimed Christians who will worship and sing, preach and teach and tell everyone how and why we should love God.  But these same Christians will then ignore others who are unlike themselves.  They will be unwelcoming, lacking the warmth of love when visitors enter into their church or their territory.  I’ve seen Christians, attending other Christian events, (not their own) and lack respect by talking and laughing throughout the entire performance, displaying no sense of reverence for the message being brought forth.  I’ve seen Christians who will love only those who love themselves.  What good is that?  Luke 6:32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”

Are we only choosing which commandments to follow?  Do we have it in our minds that it’s sufficient enough to love God and neglect loving others?  Do we think loving God and not others is good enough to pass as Christians in this world?

As Christians, sometimes we do well to love God with all that we have.  But to love God with all that we have means to follow that which He has commanded us.  If we really love God like we publicly display we do, then shouldn’t we also love, not unconditionally, but volitionally?  Shouldn’t we choose to love others because Christ loved them enough to die for all of us?  If we really love God, shouldn’t we love others enough to serve them?

Greater love hath no man than this… that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Not martyrdom.  Service.  Greater love hath no man than this… that a man serve his friends.

Christ served us by dying for us.

For all those people who love to tell others how much they love God and willing to do anything for Him, are we willing to love God enough to love others?  Enough with this, Pharisee-ical, Laodicean, hypocritical Christianity where we will only follow the commandments that we want to follow.

So looking around, who’s really a Christian?  I’ll believe the one who will genuinely love others…

… rather than the one who says they already do.

Picture taken from http://gallery.photo.net/photo/5023830-lg.jpg

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Am I Good Enough?

disappointed

One of the biggest struggles for me is the thought that I haven’t done enough.  Somewhere between my underachieving adolescent high school days and now, I’ve developed into some sort of type-A, insanely active, must-get-things-done-for-the-sake-of-remaining-productive creature of conditioned, ministerial habit.  How and when did it change?  I have no clue.  You can ask my sisters about what their brother was like and how listless and stubborn I was growing up.

But now, I can’t seem to do enough.  And, as we all know, the harshest critics always tend to be ourselves.  I come down on myself harder than anybody else.  This is why I feel I can take people’s criticism and expectations because how I scrutinize myself and what I expect out of what I can do far exceeds anybody else.

But therein is the problem.  When I fall short of what I feel was a necessary effort, I come down on myself.  Hard.  I become disappointed, ashamed, guilty, and convicted of what I did or didn’t do.

Especially when it comes to the Lord’s work.

When I analyze my work and my effort, in retrospect, during some cases I become disappointed in my preparation, my organization, my time management, my work ethic in getting ready for a moment where I can share God’s Word, show God’s love, or be a character witness to others that Jesus Christ is real and that He died for each and every one of us.  When I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, it eats me alive inside.  It forces me to reconsider my character, my mind set, my schedule, my focus, my priorities in order to give to Him and to others what they rightfully deserve: a full hearted effort of love, time, attention, and all my ability to serve.

This leads to extreme peaks and valleys.  I crash, hit rock bottom, disgusted at myself for not giving more in service to God and to others.  I wonder… Am I good enough?

When I was 15 years old, I remember walking around after work (yes I was working at that age.. 14 to be exact) and looking up at the sky.  I spoke out, praying to God, asking why me?  Why has He placed this burden of His ministry on my heart?  What is it about me that had Him set me apart from my friends and others my age?

I remember asking Him to just let me go.  God, please just let me fail.  Just leave me alone to live a life without the pressure that I currently feel.  I’m not the person you want.  I’m not the person you need.  I’m not good enough.

But I’m reminded of 1 John 3:20 that “If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.”  When that little voice in my ear begins to make me doubt my status as a child of God, as His loved one, as someone whom God deemed important enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, I just remind myself that even when my own heart condemns me, God is greater than that.

And as far as me being good enough?  I’ll just tell you what God reminded me in His Word:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Picture taken from http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/disappointed.jpg

August 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment