Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

What breaks your heart? Are you moved by poverty? Is it racial discrimination that brings your blood to a boil? Do you hate seeing corruption everywhere you turn? Does your heart stir for orphans, or maybe it’s abuse victims that cause you turmoil? Most likely, all of these things bother you at some level, but is there something that really breaks your heart?

Our youth group recently watched a video of Bill Hybels speaking at a leadership conference. He was talking about what he calls our “Holy Discontent”, which is basically the one thing that really breaks our hearts and consumes us. Hybels says that great things can happen when you are absolutely wrecked by something. Not just mildly offended by something, or semi-interested in a cause, but absolutely wrecked by injustice. I may not agree with all of the things that Bill Hybels says, but I do believe that God wants us to get involved with His mission to rescue people. There are many ways to get involved, but you or I cannot do all of them. If we each work toward finding that which breaks our heart, and then allow that passion to grow into action, we can start to really help people. If we are all doing our share, we can really do great things for others. I believe that finding the injustice that breaks our heart the most is the first step in finding our calling.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1152

What can we do if we all work together?

If I can find my one heartbreaker and focus my attention on that one thing, and if you could find yours and focus on it, and the next person could find theirs… and so on, how much do you think we could accomplish? God wants us to be intently involved in His story. He has gifted all of us and set within us a brokenness over one thing or another. Do you know what that thing is? Do you know what breaks your heart?

As I write this, I sit amazed.  God has been very good to me.  Among the blessings of life and salvation, He has allowed me to be in a relationship with a great woman.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not necessarily an accurate representation of Hannah and me Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hannah and I are in the middle of planning our wedding and we couldn’t be more excited.  We have hit some snags, nothing serious, just planning and logistical problems and typical financial issues. Most of them come from the fact that there are some key points to this process that are fairly unique to our situation.

Hannah and I got engaged four weeks ago and our wedding is just over six weeks from now.  We are also getting married in another state, on the other side of the country.  We also need to find a place to live once we get married.  There are other issues, involved, but that’s the general idea.  But, God has been very good.  He has blessed us in so many ways, some small, some huge, over the past few weeks, and it has been awesome watching the Master work.  You see, it is not always easy to trust in God.  Trying to plan a small destination wedding has a lot of benefits.  We do not have to worry about tables, chairs, decorations, music, brides maids, groomsmen (we do have a best-man and a maid-of-honor though) and a myriad of other details most couples worry about.

That, in itself, is a blessing.  But we have to find accommodations and flights, rental cars, places to eat, all without ever setting foot in the same side of the country we are planning to visit.  That gets difficult.  Especially when you’re talking about doing this for twenty people.

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This guy is probably planning a wedding

But, in the midst of all of the headaches, God has continually come through. We have found places for everyone to stay, rides for everyone travelling out there, and all of the other details are falling into place.  We still have to find a place to live once we get married, but I’m not worried.  God has been faithful and generous so far.  There is no reason to doubt Him or lose faith as far as that’s concerned.

I guess that’s what Jesus meant when He said not to be anxious in life. There are so many things in this world to cause worry and anxiety, even if you aren’t planning a wedding.  Life brings all kinds of troubles and concerns.  But the same God who created all things is still at work in our lives, and He will continue to take care of us.  Just keep praying and keep your focus on Jesus.  Hes got it covered.

Things in my life don’t always go as planned.  If I had things my way I’d be a full-time youth or young pastor right now.  Well, maybe I’d be a rock star, or maybe  even an Apache pilot.  I would not be still working in IT.  I like computers, but I love people.  I enjoy meeting people, growing relationships and helping people.  I believe that’s why I enjoy ministry so much.  The crazy schedules and events, the to-do lists, all of that stuff takes a huge toll on my life, but the rewards are worth the price.  Seeing teenagers and young adults grow is why I do what I do.  Like I said before, I would love to be a full-time youth or young adult pastor, but I’m content with the way my life is right now.  Would I like my life to look different, of course I would, but that’s not what God wants for my life right now.
Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If only this is what computer work really was

Sometimes we look to God as if everything He does for us should make us happy.  I don’t believe that though.  I don’t think it’s biblical at all, actually.  God doesn’t always shield us from danger or tribulation.  Jesus says in Matthew 10, “…anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”  Those are some strong words from Jesus.  What I believe He is saying is that following Him is not easy.  I also believe that to think that stronger faith equals an easier life is just wrong.  The apostle, Paul, knew this better than most.  In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes, “…Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Paul knew that his suffering was the cost of his ministry, and he counted it as joy to suffer for Christ.  His resolve was strong, and his faith even stronger.  He knew that faith did not always lead to a trouble free life, but Paul knew what was truly important, following Jesus.  A life of faith and obedience can (and does) lead to a hard life.  We have to die to ourselves, daily (sometimes even hourly, or even minute by minute) to allow God to work in our hearts and in our minds.  Sometimes that process is easy, but usually there is struggle and pain involved.  Our joy comes from God, not from worldly happiness.  We will lose things we don’t necessarily want to lose.  We will battle our own wills, our personal idols, our desires and even our childhood dreams.  We will have to bury our own ideas of comfort and stability to know that true comfort and stability come from God.

Image: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m still a little dazed, but I’m back up and gathering myself back together. Last week I posted here about a very common problem in life. We all hit the wall at some point, and we all get knocked down. We all stumble and trip up at some point (or points) in our lives. It is what we do when that happens that defines us.

How do you deal with trouble? Do you run from it? Do you dig in and steel your resolve? Do you curl up in a ball, hoping it all just goes away? How do you deal with life when it smacks you in the face? When I put my trust in Jesus almost 10 years ago, I thought that everything was going to be easy and perfect. I thought my life of hurts and disappointments was over. I could not have been more wrong. Jesus does not smooth out the road, He gives you shock absorbers. The problems of life are still there. People still do stupid things, bad things still happen, and the world is still out of control. Jesus just gives us hope. He gives us what we need when we need it. God has been wonderful to me, even when the people around me wonder why I still hold on to my faith.

Jesus paints a beautiful, yet honest picture of different ways to deal with struggle in life. In Mark 4, He teaches the parable of the sower. Mark 4:1-9 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Which one are you? How do you deal with difficulty? I have seen people walk away, I’ve seen people run. I’ve seen people stick it out until they hit their first snag. I have also seen people dig in and take their struggle head on, finding strength in God and peace with Him. I want to be like that. I strive to be like that. I know I will find trouble, and I know I will get hurt. I don’t want to run and hide. I do not want to back down. I want to get back up and fight. Just making the decision to push though is allowing the fog to lift. Moving forward will take effort and there will be struggles, but it isn’t it better to fight than to surrender?

If you haven’t ever seen the movie The NeverEnding Story, I suggest  you rent it.  It’s an old ’80s movie about a boy who gets this book (I’m not going to get into detail about the plot, because that’s not the point of this).  In this book is written the story of a land named Fantasia.  The queen of this land is sick due to this force called “the nothing”, and she needs help.  A great warrior (and by great warrior I mean a 13 year old.  It’s a kids’ story, so it works) is summoned to find the cure for the queen as this “nothing” takes over the whole land, consuming everything in its path.  This is an epic quest, the task is daunting and the enemy is strong.  The warrior, Atreyu, meets some people (well, for the sake of this intro, they’re people) but is really only accompanied by his horse.

So, on their journey, Atreyu and his horse, Artax, run into the Swamps of Sadness.  As they trudge through the swamps, Atreyu dismounts and walks beside Artax.  Eventually, Atreyu realizes Artax isn’t moving forward anymore.  I would describe the scene, but this is the internet.  Check it out on Youtube 🙂

Ok, so that’s a really long intro into this post.  It just helps to set up the story so it makes sense.

The swamps are deep and murky.  There is despair that clings and coats us.  It creeps up and covers us.  There is pain and sorrow that we bear that can be so heavy a weight that we just sink down.  I hate to see people caught in the debilitating grip of the enemy.  He surrounds us, attempting to cut us off from those around us.  We sink down into the swamps.  He blocks the encouragement and the help of those who love us.  We sink down further.  He beats us down and tears us up, constantly pointing out our flaws and weaknesses.  We sink down further.  He shows us the hardships in front of us and reminds us of our past failures.  We sink down further.

At times I feel like Atreyu.  I am calling into the sadness, trying to compel a friend to move forward.  Don’t give up!  Don’t give in!  Keep moving!  I know it’s hard, but keep fighting!  You have to keep fighting! I beg and plead, I reach out and lift up. I listen and I pray. My hope is that they will listen and hear that they are not alone.  I am here, I care.  I have been there, I can help.  Take my hand, I am here with you.

At times I feel like Artax.  I get caught up in the problems, the weaknesses, the sorrows, the pains, the disappointments.  I feel the despair clinging onto me, unshakable and unending.  I look around and I feel alone and lost.  It’s easier to just give up.  Then I hear that voice.  I’ve heard that voice before, but this time it seems so far off, so distant and faint.  I want to listen to it, but what’s the use?  Obviously the voice isn’t speaking to me, my life is in shambles.  Why would anyone call out to me?  But there it is again.  If I’m still, I can hear it.  If I’m quiet I can make out the words.

You are not alone.  I have been there and I can help.  I am here with you.  Forever.  Follow me.

The great Warrior is calling out to a hurting friend who is sinking in sadness.  He is reaching out to help.  He sees the journey but He sees the end.  He sees the sadness, but He sees the joy.  He sees the despair, the hurt, the failure.  He doesn’t care.  He knows how this journey will end and He knows that when I get there, my pain and suffering will be over.  My failures are meaningless in the light of His success.  His strength covers my weakness and His life redeems me from my death.  His joy will beat my sadness.  I pick myself back up, take His hand and follow Him again.

Thank you, Jesus.  I cannot do this without You

Enough

Posted: January 25, 2010 in Christian Living
Tags: , , ,

I went to New Life OSU with some friends tonight.  I try to make it up there fairly often, just to see old friends and for a change of scenery in my spiritual life.  Although the campus church is similar in a lot of ways to Canal’s church, there are plenty of differences to keep things fresh and new.  Anyway, I just love hanging out there and worshipping with everyone there.

So, we’re standing, singing wonderful worship songs, when we get hit with a blast from the not so distant past, but the past nonetheless.  “Enough” by Jeremy Camp.  This is always a hard song for me to sing.  Not just because I can’t hit the notes, but because I realize that God isn’t really enough in my life.  It’s hard to sing lines like “All of You, is more than enough for, all of me” and not be drowned out by the voice in my head screaming “LIAR!”  God isn’t really enough for me.  How I wish He was enough.  How I wish I longed for nothing but Him.  But I am not content in Him.  His love for me is not enough.

I have realized that I put a lot of effort into things that aren’t God.  I am far too consumed with my ministries, my possessions, and of course, my singleness.  I am looking forward to promises I’ve made to myself, and get upset when things don’t work out the way I planned.  I want to have new gadgets, I want to have thriving ministries where people come to know Jesus and devote their lives to Him.  And most of all, I want a wife to share these joys with me.

I want…
I want…
I want…

I think I’m seeing a pattern here.  I also think I’m seeing the problem.  I keep wondering why I don’t get what I want, and why God keeps me separated from these things.  When was the last time I really asked God what He wants?  When was the last time I really listened for an answer?  When was the last time I truly focused on His heart and allowed His desires to be mine?

What’s keeping me from seeking Him?  What’s keeping me from making Him the center of my life?  Why do I fool myself into thinking that there are other things that can take God’s place in my life?  What can I possibly obtain that can add to what He has already given me?  What can I possibly achieve that can add to what He has already done?

Can all of You, be more than enough for, all of me?