Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jeremy Camp \ Lay Down My Pride

Every single word I say
You know it before I speak
You know every thought
The deepest part of me

You draw me closer than I see
Your presence is every thing I need to be
The child that you've created me to be
I'm ready now to see it your way

I lay down my pride
My desires my demise
I'm ready now to see it your way
I'm done I'm thru ignoring you now it's true
I'm kneeling at the cross of your grace
Lay down my pride

I was faced with passing time
But I knew the choice was mine
To finally come to you
And give you all control
I've wandered miles to find my way
And then you revealed this simple faith
I know that you can see the secrets of my soul

The cross the blood you shed for me
Your back was ripped and bruised
So I can know your love

I kneel I bow to you my kind

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chapter 7: Daring to Live Together

Imagine a community of people who lived together and shared everything together. Day by day they would meet together, work together, eat together (you get the picture). In addition those with things to sell would do so in order to provide for those in need. Now if you are like me, your first thought would be that that community kinda sounds like a hippie-new age community type thing. However, the picture i was trying to paint and the community i was describing is actually one found in the Bible.
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[a] all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 44-47, NLT).
Part of being a Christian, is having a community that is able to help support you, lift you up when you are feeling down, and join you in praise when you are happy. In essence there are four main aspects in the "Acts 2" community describe above: being real, discipline, decision-making and open doors for outsiders to enter.

1.) Being Real
Ever hear the saying, "Honesty is the best policy", well that definitely applies to the life of Christian fellowship. By being completely honest and real with our fellow Christians, they can help us to grow and strengthen us in our walk. We must be specific when we share how we're doing or what we need to confess, where we need encouragement or what we are currently facing in our lives. Being real is a challenge, but is is necessary if trust, deep relationships and the simple grace of God are to grow among us.

2.) Necessary Discipline
Growing up, kids always hate it when their parents discipline them and send them to the time-out chair etc. However, through discipline are able to learn and able to grow. The same applies to our spiritual growth in which when a person fails into sin, some form of accountability and encouragement is necessary.

3.) Decision Making
Another way we learn and grow is by obtaining the wisdom of other people. Different people experience different things in different ways, each walking away for it with a unique perspective and look that can be passes down as advice to others. It is this giving and receiving of wisdom and the ultimate expression of unity in the submission of life decisions to the counsel of others in the community that really sets Christians apart from the "outside" world. By looking to others for advice, we can encourage and exhort one another in the faith. Most importantly when seeking counsel from others we should remember that we should not just seek those who will tell us only want we want to hear but also find those who will tell us what we need to hear and who will take this role seriously.

4.) Open Doors
When Christians open the doors and their hearts to those around them, this becomes the greatest tool of all to indicate to the world the grace and glory of God and his son Jesus the Messiah. A clear picture of this is described in this chapter and is pasted below.
Shawn entered college as a committed atheist. He even enjoyed discouraging Christians and making them doubt their faith. On a hot afternoon several fellowship members offered to help Shawn and his mom to move things into the dorm. Even though he was parked blocks away, he was not used to receiving help, so he turned them down. after another trip he and his mom had a good sweat going and, fairly exhausted, he broken down and agreed to receive help. In a few minutes several fellowship members were rounded up and the rest of Shawn's belongs were brought up in one trip. Sweating, tired and thankful (though a bit uncomfortable), Shawn went to the room across the hall to thank the guys for their help. He noticed that the refrigerator was full of soda (the guys had stocked it to serve folks on a hot day). When we was a offered a couple of sodas, Shawn decided he could not impose by taking two. He took only one to split with his mom and returned to his room.
Days later he was invited to the first fellowship meeting of the year. Though he had no interest in going, he felt obligated because of the soda, so he went. He hated the meeting and swore he could never attend anything else this group sponsored. Over the next couple of weeks Shawn was well served by the upperclassmen in the Christian fellowship. Through them he meet a lot of people on campus. He did some fun things with them that helped make the transition into college easier. The guys also invited him to the first Bible study they were having in their room. Firm in his resolve, he told them he wouldn't like it. Not to be put off so easily, one of the upperclassman responded, "How do you know you wouldn't like it if you've never been to a Bible Study?" Shaw couldn't really argue with that so he went just tp prove his point.
They studied the prodigal son story from Luke 15, and the discussion was lively. Though he disagreed with the way they understood the passage (he thought it was a great example of bad parenting), he liked the people and enjoyed the discussion. He gradually became a regular. Over time he found himself liking Jesus and began to think about God when we wasn't with his friends. As you can imagine, this was fairly disturbing for an atheist. God was drawing Shawn to himself through the way these guys loved each other and loved him. It was their sacrificial service and love that God used to present the gospel in action and to prepare Shawn's heart to receive the good news of Jesus' love for him.
Three months after school started the avowed atheist walked into the kingdom as a new believer. The authentic Christian fellowship of this community was a powerful witness to Shawn. The result was a life saved from the ravages and penalty of sin.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chapter 6: Gambling on God

Part Two: Committed in Relationships
"Be extravagant for God or be extravagant for the devil, but for God's, don't be tepid!"

You always hear from pastors and Christian speakers that gambling is a sin and that its bad etc etc etc. However what they don't tell you is that living the Christian life is a HUGE gamble! Now you may be thinking,"Stop, rewind.and play that again! How can Christianity and gambling go together when we all know that gambling is a sin!" Well allow me to explain....

As Christians we risk everything, our joy, our minds, our hearts, our very lives on the belief that God is real, and that he raised Jesus from the dead. If this risk, this gamble turns out to be a bust then as Paul says we are to be pitied the most of all mankind for we have been made fools and have risked everything on a lie.
If corpses can't be raised, then Christ wasn't, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren't raised, then all you're doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It's even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they're already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. (1 Corinthians 15:16-20. The Message)
However as that last verse points out, their is hope in our gamble.God promises many different things in the Scripture: a loving relationship with him, joy, his abiding presence, heaven, homes, brothers, sisters and his glory, and with these promises we are able to find true happiness for we have Jesus in our lives.

Before I end i want to leave you with a passage from the chapter that i think summarizes everything it talked about....
"Risking with Jesus means losing the world's eyes yet winning in God's eyes. If you bet the whole house, you will gain all of Jesus. If you decide to play it safe in your faith-life, you may not gain any of Jesus. He asks for high stakes. At this blackjack table of the casino of God the minimum bet is your whole life. If you want to bet any less, go do something boring and harmless like pursuing the American Dream."
So are you ready to gamble your life away on a belief most of the world thinks is foolish? Or are you too afraid and want to stay this round out? The choice is up to you....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chapter 5: Connecting with Jesus

Open the eyes of my heart Lord!
Open the eyes of my heart,
I want to see you,
I want to see you....
To see you high and lifted up!
Shining in the light of your glory
Pour out your power and love
As we sing Holy, Holy, Holy

Today's chapter takes a look at Luke 24, in which in the story of Jesus' resurrection is revaeled to the women who visit his tomb (v1-12), the two disciples on their way to Emmaus (v13-34) and to the all the disciples as a whole (v35-49), with the main focus being on the Jesus' revealment to the the two disciples on their way to Emmaus.

According to the book, there are two main things that are shown to us in v15-16: 1) Jesus takes the initiative to come to us and 2)we do not always recognize his presence. Both are points that i don't really think about too often but when you do finally think about them, they make a lot of sense. Actually as i write this blog i am reminded of the poem "footsteps" in which one of the famous parts is when the guy asks God why, during the hardest, loneliest, most difficult times of his life there is only one set of footsteps in the sand. The guy at this point is thinking that he was all alone at these times and that God had abandoned him. However God surprises him and says that the points in his life in which he sees only one set of footprints are the points in which God had carried him. This shows how so many times we let our feelings of loneliest, despair and frustation get in the way of feeling God's presence. However in Matthew 28:20 we are told to "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." God never leaves us, he is always there waiting for us to embrace him and to listen to him.

Continuing on with Luke 24, we are shown that there are 4 important ways in which Jesus meets us and reveals himself to us: prayer, scripture, fellowship, and worship. Now if you couldn't already guessed, the last two are my two favorite ways in which to meet and discover Jesus, and the the first two are were i am weakest. However through conducting this media fast and spending time with the Word, i hope to change that and make all four my favorite and strongest methods. There is so much more i want to share but i am getting really really tired right now and my thoughts are being to jumble so i will leave you with some bible verses that i really liked that were pointed out in the book. enjoy!
  • Acts 2:42
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • Ephesians 4:3-6
  • 2 Peter 1:20-21
  • John 4:23-24
  • John 16:12-15
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Media Fast: Day 2

From now on, my post may become shorter for the mere fact that i fell guilty and am tempted when i come on here to make a post. I may start to keep a journal IRL to write down my thoughts etc and any "juicy" tidbits post them on here but we shall see.....

Media Fast Update:
Today has been better in a way. while i was home the temptation to put on music wasn't as strong however when i was driving today it became very strong especially since of just driving for 5 mins there and back (10 mins total) i was driving roughly 20 mins there and then 20 mins back. That was rough but i survived and I thank the Lord for that. Also another thing that i have notice is that i have begun to pray alot more then i have in the past and that is def a good thing. I just pray for continuted strength as i continue on this long. road

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chapter 4: Dangerous Truth for the Daring Life

I want to Testify
I want to tell the World about Jesus
How you touched my heart and grabbed my soul
You put my feet on the rock and my name on the road
I want to Testify.....with all my heart!

So after i posted my last post...i gave in and started to listen to one of the worship cds that i have. Ironically enough the first song that started playing was called "I want to testify" which ties very nicely with the chapter i read today from Faith on the Edge. Above are some the lyrics from the song and i will discuss how i feel the correlate to the chapter today but first let me explain something real fast.

For years i have said that music is my life. before today i have listened to music almost 24/7. One of the first things i do when i am getting ready is to turn on some music, in car right after i turn on the ignition i turned the radio on. Basically the only times i don't really listen to music is when i am walking around campus ( i don't have a mp3 player) and when i am sleeping, otherwise i am always listening. I will admit i am addicted to music. Now while i recognize this as a bad thing, it can also be a good thing. For one of the reasons why i love music is because most times the lyrics are able to convey a message, a feeling, or a thought that i just couldn't describe, and yet this artist has been able to. Music is gives me energy, it helps to keep my focus, and it is my favorite part of worship. Writing this all down makes me realize just how dependent i am on music instead of God. For when i am angry i to turn to angry music to calm me down, when i am sad i play sad music, when i am full of energy i play hyper music. I let music describe my mood and to comfort me instead of turning to God and letting him be my comfort and my source of strength and calm. Hopefully by the end of this fast i will be able to make that switch but for this week while my addiction is still strong i am going to try to limit my music intake to just a few songs a day (one cd length at the max) and try to ease to no music at all. Today i almost made it through the day with it and so far i have only listened to two songs so i believe its a possibility, i just have to ask that God will give me the strength to succeed!

And now on to the chapter.....

John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is full of grace and truth and as Christians we are taught that we are supposed to share that with the world around us. Well what exactly does that mean? Well in the book Robbie Castleman describes it as..."Grace moved the Savior close to people. Truth then moved them close to him." ....It is this picture of grace and truth that we are supposed to model afterwards when we spread the "good news" However, we don't always succeed. Some are filled with more truth then grace and begin to answer questions that haven't been asked or preach to those who just want to talk. In essence they reduce the wondrous gospel to just a few facts. (Think a child's view of a rainbow (wonderful, magical, colorful) in comparisons to a scientists view (photons, reflections, light tricks, no magic). Then you have those who are so full of grace that they forget to distinguish the radical truth that is demanded from people who choose to be a Christian. We must a strike a balance somewhere. It is important for us to wait to share the truth after grace has had enough time to work. The ground must be fertile before the seed can be planted (Luke 8:4-15).

Ok, taking a step back, i will be honest. I have always had issues with evangelizing to others, i have never liked to do it and whenever pastors or speakers talk about i immediately am turned off. Now i know this should be a sign that it is something that i need to work on and i know that it is something that i should be doing. But at the same time i do want to feel like i am forcing my beliefs on to people who do want to hear it. I guess that is where the whole Grace and truth thing comes into play. I guess i would be the type of person who has two much grace and doesn't truley convey the truth of the matter. This is partly due to the fact that i don't want to offend people...."People are wary of being 'sold' someone else's goods. And the exclusivity of Jesus as God incarnate, as well as the cross and resurrection, sound intolerant and rigid in a world addicted to relativism and feel-good religoius franchises."....
and from the human nature of just wanting to accept everyone and have it so all belief systems, world religions or sincere efforts could lead to eternal life. However as Robbie points, as Christains, unfortuantly we know that this isn't true. And we know it because of the cross. If there was any other way for the Jesus to have saved us instead of dying on the cross then God would have told him so and would have saved his son. But the fact that there isn't and he didn't shows that there is only one way to enternal life. And as a final food for the thought:

"The truth isn't easy to hear and is even harder to believe, but it doesn't bend to personal preference or accomodate to the culture."

Media Fast: Day 1

So today is the first day of my media fast. And for a majority of the day i was doing alright. I drove to and from campus without the radio worked on stuff for my research during free time and wasn't too phased about not being about to go on the internet or listen to music. That is of course until i came home for the night. that is when the trouble started. I walk into my apartment and there are two of my roommate sitting there watching tv so i scurry off to my room so i won't be tempted to watch. This of course forces me to eat dinner in my room, which is kinda awkward cause when i usually do that i am in front of the computer eating, usually surfing the web or something. So yeah it has been a rough night. I have come to the conclusion that i can live with out tv, i can live with interent, but living without music is absoultely killing me right now. For the past couple of hours i have been trying to read my bible and read Faith on the Edge but without my music i just can't focus, my mind keeps wondering and i am constantly getting distracted but something or another....ugh! I really just want to play some worship music right now since my teacher said that was allowed during the fast, but at the same time i feel like that would be cheating but i dunno what to do. Please Pray that God will give me the strength to perserve for i can not do this without his help!