Sunday, July 25, 2010

What Can You See on the Horizon

I am currently listening to 210 mix, which is one of the greatest collections of music ever made, and the song "Into The West" is playing (from the LOTR Return of the King soundtrack). I actually used some of the lyrics of this song as the title for this entry. What can you see on the horizon? I rarely think about the future. I'm a "live in the present" kind of guy. But lately I've been thinking about what is "on the horizon" for me. I just tweeted how unrealistic most of my expectations are. I guess I never really realized it because I got so lucky most of the time that I didn't have to. Lucky or blessed. Either way, the stark reality of real life is catching up to me. I read Galatians 2 today, and I realized that even Peter, after he was the head of the Jewish church, made mistakes. Thats probably supposed to make me feel better. It doesn't. I often worry about the mistakes on my horizon. I suppose that God can use any mistake for good (love can change the world for example... take that however you'd like). I need to get ready for bed, so I'll have to cut this short, but I just want to make clear that I know God uses our mistakes and hardships in the end, but I'm still afraid to make them... I thought an honest post would be good, I offer answers a little too often sometimes... tonight, the only thing I offer is honesty: I'm afraid to mess up. The end.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Trying to Please

There are some days when I just feel like a failure. I can be writing a sermon and dwelling on it and working out what God is trying to say, and the next second I can go and do exactly what I'm planning on telling others not to do. Its infuriating. Talk about guilt. Ugh, there is nothing more trying than feeling like you're a hypocrite or like you've failed God and others. I know just want to curl up in my bed until its tomorrow and I can try again.

There are also those days when I just feel empty, drained, doubtful, and hopeless. I just kinda feel like a mess.

There are even those days when I feel like God doesn't listen when I talk, or even if He does listen, He doesn't plan on responding any way that I'll be able to understand or appreciate.

Then there are those days when I feel like all of the above.

You know, I was planning on blogging about all this, then finishing it with an encouraging number about how God gives us our identity and freedom, but right now its hard to write. Right now its fine to believe that, but I feel too drained to actually take hold of that privileged. God gives me identity... yeah, but it'll take effort to feel that way tonight, and I don't have the energy. Its nights like tonight when I just pray the Psalms.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.

May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When Its Easy and Not So

Eph 5 19-21

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

It is pretty easy to believe God will provide for the future when He's doing it in the present. Its not so easy to believe when He's not doing it in the present. And Its almost impossible to believe when you thought He was doing it and all of a sudden you find out He's not doing it how you thought He was. I can totally understand Gideon or the people of Israel right outside the Promised Land. They'd seen God provide a little here and there (a lot if you were there at the time), and get them through hardships, but when they needed him most the task he put before them seemed impossible. Thats almost how I feel today. I felt led to Trinity because of the education I will receive there and the way in which God provided the money for me to go there. I got $3500 in scholarships, and then was awarded eligibility for a full ride. As things turned out I didn't get the ride, but I did get a $7100 scholarship... which was a blessing. Today, I found out that the scholarship I received negated the $3500 scholarships I was previously receiving. Now, people can tell me that the I am still getting more than I would have, but because my expectations of God's provision were for $11,600 and I made plans and decisions based around that expectation, it certainly feels like God left me out to dry. That is a dangerous place to be in. I don't know how Job did it. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." My prayer is that those words would be mine, regardless what God gives or takes away. Money will not bind me, nor hold me back from the will of the Lord.

1 Thes. 5:16-24

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Am I the only one who has days sometimes where I just don't want to be doing what I am doing? Where I don't wanna be at work, I don't wanna be working out, I don't wanna be doing anything that I am currently doing and the only things I might want to do (like seeing my girlfriend or eating a cake) I can't do because neither are close to where I am sitting in my windowless office in front of my boring laptop with papers all over my desk! Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Its not even that I'm having a terrible day (although I am planning on taking my car to inspection which it will certainly fail, and that makes any day bad), its just one of those days. I can't find my headphones, the internet is slow, work is work and not exciting and I feel like all the work I have is at that stage before its done where any progress slows down to an utter and complete crawl. My parents are yelling at me for house sitting the last two weeks I'm home, its hot out, my check engine light is on, my fingernails need cutting, I'm in debt, I'm white and can't jump... need I complain about anything else, because I can do this all day sister.

Sigh. I wonder if Jesus ever had one of those days. I wouldn't be surprised if Gethsemane was one of those days. But I wonder if he had a day that wasn't really terrible but wasn't really good and turned out terrible. I wonder if John 6 was one of those days. Oh you know what I'm talking about, the story where Jesus feeds the 5000 then walks on water and the crowds are all like "woah he just fed us then disappeared, lets follow him!!!" and they do and are all like "woah rabbi where'd you go how'd you get here" and Jesus isn't buying it for a second. He goes all teacher on them and says "you didn't come here because of the miracles did you, you came because I fed you with a few loves and fish." I wouldn't be surprised if he was thinking "you didn't come because you saw miracles, and in that case you definitely didn't come because of what I said... gosh what do I have to say or do to get these people to understand who I am?!?" I think that would count as one of those days for me, but it gets worse. Jesus is in no mood to tell these people what they want to hear, so he diminishes their greatest hero Moses by saying it wasn't him it was God who gave manna (which is true, but they don't wanna hear that), and then he basically says he's greater than Moses and that HE is the true bread, and HE came down from heaven, and they have to eat HIS flesh and drink HIS blood to go to heaven an live forever. Well... you can imagine the crowd didn't wanna hear that. What is their response? Grumble Grumble Grumble. "We know your parents dude you didn't come from no heaven." "This teaching is too crazy, we're outta here if you ain't gunna feed us." So Jesus, who by now is definitely having one of those days, looks at Peter and his disciples and says "you guys gunna leave me too?" And Peter, doing his best to redeem the situation, sticks up for him saying "where would we go, you have the words of eternal life," which in my mind I would have translated "we got no where else to go man, you're stuck with us..." but maybe he meant the second half more than the first. Either way Jesus says, "yeah you are my 12, my boys, but one of you is a devil" because he knows Judas is going to betray him and he is just not in the mood to sugar coat anything.

So. That being said, I guess I can say that if Jesus can have one of those days so can I... but what does he do afterwards? Well his brothers go on telling him to show some miracles to more people, since they don't even believe in him, but he holds it together and does what he has to until he goes to teach at a feast in jerusalem. He gets up in front of everyone and teaches, again not holding back on the teachers of the law, the people that should be teaching the rest of the people so that they can be ready and acceptant for his message. He doesn't hide what hey thinks of them, but in all that he stays in control and keeps doing his job, his mission, what he has to. If he can go through all that and keep pluggin away with only 12 guys out of like 400,000 backing him, one of which wants to betray him, I think I can make it through today. But I might ask for his help first, just to be safe.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Unwilling Yet Glorious Slavery

Have you ever eaten something, then suddenly gotten the craving to eat as much of that thing as you can no matter what the consequences? I've seen it with ice cream and almost always with Chinese food... but I find myself most often in the clutches of potato chips. I eat some. I want more. I grasp the bag. I eat more. I want more. And so the cycle continues. But now, something wonderful yet terrible has happened...

Thats right. Sweet Chili. They aren't potato chips. There are no DORITOS® here. These are none other than RiceWorks Sweet Chili Gourmet Brown Rice Crisps. Although they aren't much better for you than potato chips, they are intoxicatingly delicious. I keep eating them and eating them. I feel like I am their slave to obey their wises...

I feel like the Apostle Paul had something to say about this...

Romans 6:16-18

16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

If I read Romans correctly (and for the sake of my sermon on the 8th I sure hope I do) Paul is saying that we were formerly slaves to sin and our sinful nature. We obeyed the law of this world and the passions and desires it impressed upon us... but now that we are under the blood of Christ we are slaves to righteousness and we obey his passions and desires which are becoming ours. In the same way that I can become totally infatuated with chips or Chinese or crisps, we should be infatuated with Christ, that is, if we understand the Gospel. If we live like we understand the Gospel. If we allow the Gospel to take control of our lives and define us.

So, who are you offering yourself up as a slave to today? We're all slaves, like it or it.