Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Greatness

Greatness is not recognition. It is not (necessarily) accomplishment.

Greatness has to do with staying power, the ability to endure or last. It has to do with the preservation of the great truths from one generation to the next. It has to do with the closing of the gap between what you say and who you are. It has to do with that integrity that is passed on from one generation to the next. 

It is not faddishness or who is popular or how many Twitter followers you have or anything like that. 

What I am talking about is greatness in its purity. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Good Karma?

Many people operate on the system of karma.

The term “good karma” is used in everyday speech in the Western world. Philosophies of religion infiltrate our culture without most people even realizing it. People will use phrases and have beliefs from various religions, but many cannot even explain how we came to know them.

Karma is the idea that whatever good you put out there will be returned upon you. So, if you are good, then good things happen to you, and if you are bad, bad things happen to you.

The world does seem to operate on a sowing and reaping system. Even Newton's 3rd law of motion says, "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."

The problem with karma, though, is that we cannot manipulate God. I've known people who love Jesus, live upright, are good human beings, and they die or have the most horrible things in the world happen to them. And I have known wicked people who have lived lavishly off the wealth they acquired through wickedness. 

Tullian Tchividjian writes, “The truth is that when you and I insist on that all-too-comfortable paradigm of cosmic score keeping, we’re no longer talking about Christianity. In fact, what we reveal is that we've adopted (unwittingly) a Westernized form of Hinduism. We are talking, in other words, about karma. If you are a bad person and things are going well for you, it is only a matter of time before karma catches up with you and ‘you get yours.’ If you are good person, the inverse is true: just be patient and your good deeds will come back to you. This is a simplification of the complex Hindu understanding of history as determined by the past lives of others: that we are all stuck in an eternal cycle of suffering perpetuated by reincarnation.”

In religion, you get what you deserve. It is the same with karma. Karma is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is the opposite of karma.

Tchividjian continues, “On the opposite end of our natural tendency to moralize life and suffering stands the counter-intuitive affirmation of Christianity. Christianity affirms that Jesus severed the link between suffering and deserving once for all on Calvary. God put the ledgers away and settled the accounts. The good news of the gospel is NOT that good people get good stuff. It’s not that life is cyclical and that “what comes around goes around.” Rather, it’s that the bad get the best, the worst inherit the wealth, and the slave becomes a son (Rom.5:8).”

As Christians, we believe in Christ, not karma. We believe that Christ rules over our lives, not karma.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

But God...

"But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."

I love that. You say, “But I was hurt. I was abandoned. I was abused. I was devastated. I was neglected. The people who were supposed to care for me didn’t.” Yes, true, but God.

Here are some lyrics to a few songs that I like that talk about 'but God':

"I was content as I watched myself dying in my sin. I was my own end, my own God. God of a world where satisfaction came from temporary sensations, where decisions were based on the latest temptations, where happiness and comfort was my only salvation. I was a cheap imitation. But God..."

"But God, being rich in mercy, placed salvation on your head."

"But God rich in mercy made a way
By grace I have been saved
Through faith I have been raised
Only by the blood of Christ"


 

Genesis 45:5

"But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life."

Praise God in all circumstance?

Yes, all circumstances.

"Yeah, but people do evil."

Yes, they do, and God is bigger than they are.

So I say, "Thank you, Jesus. It’s not the route I wanted, but in retrospect, it’s the one that I am most glad for."

Live life by faith. God is good. God is in charge. God has a plan. God works out all things for the good of those that love him and are called according to his purpose.

Live Your Life Like Jesus?

I've read a lot of books on how to live life, and most books say to live life like Jesus. Do I believe that? Well, yes and no. Yes, I should live my life like Jesus, but with one exception.

What is one thing that Jesus never did that you and I need to do all the time?

Repent.

Most of the books on discipleship tend to say live like Jesus. And by looking at the life of Jesus, here’s what you’ll never see Jesus do – repent of sin, because he never sinned. You never see Jesus look somebody in the eye and say, “I did evil. I said wrong. I was wicked. I was selfish. I was bad. I took advantage of you. I lied about you. I exploited you. I manipulated you. That was evil. Forgive me.” You’d never see Jesus say that cause he never sinned.

You and I, we sin. John says, “He who says he’s without sin doesn’t know God.” We fail to do good. That’s sin of omission. We do bad. That’s sin of commission. We sin in our words. We sin in our deeds. We sin in our motives. We sin in our heart. We sin in our imagination. We sin in our mind.

We need to repent. "God, it was wrong. I need you to save me from myself and change me. The person that I have offended or people I have offended, I have done wrong. I need you to forgive me."

You repent of sin to become a Christian, to grow as a Christian, and to reveal Christ to others. All of a Christian's life is one of repentance.

"When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." - Martin Luther

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Marriage refers to Christ and the church

Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, said that if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary. So many times, though, I can't see past the emotions of the moment, and I long for agreement in everything. From the outside looking in, it would probably appear as though the marriage is in trouble. But a marriage built on a foundation by God is suspended from above and is firmly attached. By God's grace, it will not crash down to the ground.

It is the weight of our sin that accelerates us into the "bad times". But every marriage, no matter what, refers to Christ and the church. God designed marriage to be a picture.

“Marriage is more than your love for each other....In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal - it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.”
   
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

"Welcome one another . . . for the glory of God." That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be ‘for the praise of God’s glory.’ Amen.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Husband Love Your Wife

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

You love your wife to make her lovely. You don't love her merely because she is lovely. She will not be the same sort of lovely at 30 that she will be at 70, so you better love her into loveliness. This is exactly what Christ does for us.

Yes, you married an attractive girl. You're excited about a lot of things about her. But you better not let that be the main way you relate to her, otherwise it will backfire on you. You will constantly be drawing your strength for love from her lovableness instead of from Christ's love for you, which you in turn love her with so that she is lovely in your love.

Be done with the need for pity. Be done with pouting and sulking when you don't get what you want, which is so immature. You will be regularly disappointed because you are a perfectionist. Your wants are not going to be satisfied as often as you would like. Instead of pouting and pitying yourself, draw down strength from Christ to stop being a person who merely reacts, and instead be a strong initiative taker. Bring hope and strength to your family. Don't use your family, and then when they don't meet your needs you go off pouting. Bring Christ to your family. They need you to be a leader.

Do not return evil for evil. Be tenderhearted. Be tender-mouthed. Be tender-handed. Even in her harshest moments, don't return harsh for harsh, don't return blunt for blunt, don't return hurt for hurt. A soft answer may restore her soul.

Marriage is a shadow. It is a parable pointing to something vastly greater. Go to Jesus. Get all the strength you need. Then come to your marriage and savor the gift that it is. Don't belittle it. It is a beautiful gift. Savor the friendship. Savor the sex. Just know that it is always pointing to something greater.