Needy

12:04AM, Monday, July 30, 2007

The more I learn about God, the more I realize that I lack any means to reliably provide for myself. The more intimacy with Himself that God grants me, the less I desire to attempt to provide for myself. I have discovered great joy and peace in realizing God’s provision far surpasses anything I could ever hope to provide for myself.

A friend sent me a text message last night suggesting that I read 1 Kings 17:1-7. I read and was reminded of how God provided for Elijah in a rather unique manner. He had ravens bring him bread and meat to eat. It got me thinking. Why does the thought even enter my head to ever worry? I am a child of God through the grace and mercy offered to me at the Cross of Christ. God is the provider of all needs, whether mundane or critical. It is God alone who has the sovereignty to provide for my needs. He gives and He takes away. If I am abiding in Him and His will for my life, I will never lack anything God desires for me to have.

If indeed I am abiding in and submitting to God’s will for my life at the present, I have no more than He desires and no less. I live where He desires for me to live. I have as much money as He desires for me to have. I have as many or as few relationships as He desires. Even the depth of intimacy in those relationships is under His providential guidance.

Even the sins of others against me has been sovereignly worked by God to the end of my good and His pleasure. Whether it is a person who commits a physical act of violence against my person or someone who holds a grudge against me and avoids me like the plague, God is still in control of my life.

A hymn comes to mind:

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

So long as I submit myself and rely solely upon Him and not my own efforts, God is in control of my life from the first breath to the last. It is God alone who commands my destiny. I have been chosen by Him as His servant not because of any merit of my own, but because of what He has done through Christ. And why did God send Christ to die in my place? Again, not because of any merit of my own, but because of who He is.

I am nothing. He is everything. I find in Christ all I need and indeed all I want. May God continue to grant that I find pleasure in Him. May He be the both the fulfiller and the fulfillment of my every desire.

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Toccata & Fugue in D minor (BWV 565)

10:34PM, Friday, July 27, 2007


To demonstrate that I am not without musical taste (I’m looking at you Banana Phone haters), here is a beautiful rendition of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor as played by Karl Richter.


Banana Phone!

5:56PM, Friday, July 27, 2007


Most awesomest song ever written. EVER.


Identity

7:26PM, Thursday, July 26, 2007

A lot of thoughts about who I am have been floating in my head for some time now. I figured it was time to write them down so I could make sense of them all and wrestle through them, perhaps together with you, my friends.

Not to be cliche, but I truly have nearly always felt that I don’t quite fit in whatever the crowd of the moment is. Even in my personal relationships, there seems to be an uneasiness about one or more aspects of who I am that tends to drive most folks away from friendship rather than attract them. Is it the depth of the conversations in which I enjoy engaging? Is it my goofy humor that alternately leaves my friends in groans or fits of laughter? Are either of those inherently bad personality traits?

An old friend of mine used to think so, at least in regard to my humor. She’d whisper to me and ask me to “tone it down” if she felt I was being silly or embarrassing her in front of her friends. It bothered me because that’s really who I am, and she seemed to take exception to it while most of the others around seemed to enjoy it. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being goofy or being totally serious, or even mixing the two together to keep a sane perspective on things. Especially in a light-hearted environment like a party, I’ve never thought it inappropriate to be silly and entertain both my company and myself with humor.

And then there’s my faith. I’ve found that a lot of people my age either want nothing to do with Christ or else they’re not committed to the price that the Cross demands of us. So there’s not a whole lot of people I can talk to about spiritual matters who are my age. There’s probably a sum total of three of my peers whom I would trust for deeper theological conversations because of their proven faithfulness and love for God and others. Sometimes it feels like the only people who are willing to sit down and wrestle through spiritual matters in a serious manner are folks 30 years my senior — not that there shouldn’t be some. I consider myself graciously blessed to have a few closer friends who are 10, 20, or 30 years my senior; their insight into God’s Word and wisdom for my life has proven invaluable to me in these past months.

And so by now I’m probably looking like a crybaby emo kid who whines that noone understands him and that he has no friends. Now I think there are a few folks with a love for God and His ways whom I call friend, but some of them simply haven’t had time to develop a deeper relationship with me than sort-of-friends-who-hang-out-every- once-in-awhile-and-have-each-other-friended-on-MySpace-and-have- each-others’-cellphone-numbers. But I’m not about to hide how I truly feel. Truthfully, I am very lonely and long for a woman my age to show the love of Christ to me with her life. I screwed up my last serious relationship so badly that my ex avoids me and won’t even talk to me. It bothers me that there still is so much left unresolved between us. And that might even contribute more to the loneliness I feel.

I know that God is good and that His grace is sufficient to comfort me in my loneliness, but I can’t help but feel that something is missing relationally in my life. I think I wrote about it before when I talked about having a companion. I think that’s really what my heart desires. I want someone to talk to in the wee hours of the morning. I want someone who appreciates my silly humor as well as my love of God. I want a peer and not another mentor.

And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to serve God while I ask Him to bring us together. That would be foolish, selfish, and not at all the attitude of a humble servant that I ought to have toward Him. I will serve God wherever He wants so long as He gives me breath, with or without a companion. And when He does see fit to introduce a companion to me, I will reorient my life with that relationship in mind and continue to serve him in the same manner. I’ll simply have a partner from then on.

So I shall serve Christ wherever I’m called. I recognize that Jesus alone commands my destiny. His timing is perfect. I recognize also that I have a deep desire for true companionship and that if it is God’s will for this desire of my heart to be satisfied, it must be God who provides through His wisdom and good timing, not me through my feeble and foolish efforts. He has already chosen her for me and me for her, and so there is nothing that either of us need to do for one another except wait for God’s gentle hands to send us to love one another. I relinquish control of this to God. Help Thou my unbelief. Let my trust be an act of worship to You, my gracious, loving, compassionate, merciful, magnificent, holy King.


Dealing With Sin

12:33PM, Monday, July 23, 2007

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. — 1 John 2:15-17

This past Sunday Brother Denny spoke about the nature of temptation, and the relation that temptation has to sin in the life of a Christian. There are three areas in which both the non-Christian and the Christian are tempted. They are, as John lists in his epistle, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh is the love of physical pleasure, in whatever form it comes. The lust of the eyes is the love of material possessions, be they small or large in number, size, or cost. The pride of life is the love of power or prestige — one might say in another way that it’s the love of self-importance. All three of these temptations face every human being on the face of this planet.

There are some important things we ought to note about the nature of temptation and how it relates to sin. Christians do not struggle with sin. Sin is merely surrender. Once you have sinned, you have by definition given up any struggle that there was. The Christian’s struggle is with temptation. Temptation is not in and of itself sin, and God does not tempt us. Satan is the only tempter we have.

Of the tempter: he is a liar. He will even use God’s Word in an attempt to deceive us. A verse from a song comes to mind that describes this adversary: for still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his power and craft are great, and armed with cruel hate; on earth is not his equal. He will lie to us and attempt to convince us that guilt is something we should feel over simply being tempted and not actually falling. He will attempt to confuse us regarding our identity as God’s children.

Who are we then? The Bible teaches that human nature is either fallen or redeemed. These are the only two options and the two cannot coexist with one another. Those who do not have Christ are by nature fallen. They are sinners and if they remain in their sin, they will die as sinners and receive the due penalty of their unforgiven sin, which is separation from God and eternal punishment in hell. Believers are not sinners saved by grace, as some might contend. Believers are children of God. If we truly have Christ, we have a new heart and it is good. The place for sin is gone from the believer’s life. There is no place whatsoever for sin in the life of the believer. It is contrary to our new nature. Sin has no power over us. We are no longer obligated to be its slave. Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin so that we are free to become slaves of righteousness.

As Christians, we must remember that what goes on the cross dies on the cross. Sin was put upon the cross, and with Christ’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection it was put to death. Satan is never allowed to tempt us beyond that which we are able to bear. God always makes a way out. We sin because we don’t look for the way out that God has provided. Temptation is the room in which the snare of sin resides. God has given us at least one escape from every temptation we face.

So how do we deal with sin in the life of a believer? We talked about this at 707 last night, interestingly enough. We confront it. We stop hiding like Adam and Eve. We stop lying about it like Cain after he murdered his brother Abel. If we live in the flesh, we will die. We must live in the spirit, because this is the path to life. Sin is crouching at the door, it’s desire is for us, it desires to devour us, and if we walk through those doors outside of which sin is crouching, it will have us because we have given it an opportunity to dwell inside us where it does not belong. Either we are killing sin or it is killing us. What we plant in our lives is what we will harvest. If we plant things of the flesh, we will harvest death and destruction. If we plant things of the spirit, we will harvest life and peace.

Sin has been dealt with in the past couple of weeks and is even now continuing to be dealt with in the lives of certain brothers and sisters who have fallen. Sin doesn’t belong in our lives as children of God and it is in fact contrary to our nature if we are true followers of Christ. We confronted sin of all sorts last night: immodesty, lust, drunkenness, gossip, judgmental attitudes, lying, greed, hatred, unforgiveness and more I’m sure. My hope and prayer is that it all got dealt with and that we as both individuals and as a community of the children of God stopped hiding our sin and will begin and continue to be honest about sin when it happens and confess it. Our failure isn’t final, but it needs to be dealt with. 1 John 1:9 assures us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God show to us and acquit us of our hidden faults, for we cannot even discern our own error many times (Psalm 19:8). Help us look for the way out because You have promised that it is there. Help us to confess our failures when they occur and to repent from our sin. Be faithful God and cleanse us from everything that we confess to You. Help us to put the flesh to death so that the spirit may live.


Crooked Men and Encouraging Hope

4:11PM, Monday, July 16, 2007

I got contacted today by a company whose reputation is. . . well, let’s say “less than stellar” among serious IT professionals. The guy on the phone sounded like he was in a busy call center in India and pretty much ran through a sales script (he even repeated a couple of the selling points throughout our conversation). He made some pretty grand promises of things like repayment for their training, guaranteed hire, Wall Street client companies, starting salary of $55-60k with guaranteed increases of 10% every 6 months, medical/dental insurance, etc. All in all, it sounded to good to be true.

He said they want $1500 for their training and that it would be over 5 weeks in New Jersey. He kept trying to pressure me into committing to leaving this weekend to start their training and to commit to paying the $1500. When I insisted that I needed time to think over such a significant monetary and time investment (and a change in career track), he kept giving me the impression that I had to act now or forever lose this opportunity. And then it made sense: he wasn’t interested in seeing if I was a good fit for a job, he was trying to sell me something. He didn’t ask questions that were pertinent to my ability to learn or my technical background. All he seemed to be interested in was knowing how soon I could fork over a boatload of cash.

A quick Google search is all it took to confirm my suspicions. From the reviews, I gathered that HD Dimension is a disreputable company, clearly targeting Chinese and Indian immigrants with promises of H1B visas, green cards, exceptional salaries, and training. I’m glad I didn’t make the mistake of going any further in the process with these people.

In better news however, I talked with one of the recruiting agencies I’m interviewing through and while there have been additional delays in the interview and hiring process, I am still one of the top candidates for the position I interviewed for on the 15th of June. So while it’s been several weeks since I heard anything directly from them, the hope for that exciting opportunity is still very much alive. If this is the right job and the right time, then I have nothing to worry about. Things will work out in time.


What is Love?

3:11PM, Sunday, July 15, 2007

Edit: My best friend Bob pointed out that something was missing from this post. I agreed. To get the obvious (and humorous) out of the way, here is something with which I’m sure more than a few of you are familiar. I feel it is relevant to the subject at hand. Enjoy!

—-

Today Pastor Denny took us through some of the epistle of 1 John and how we might test ourselves to see if our hearts are true, to see if we truly are children of God. He talked about our walk and our doctrine as being the first two tests. That is, our lifestyle and what we believe ought to line up with what God’s Word says. Our lives should not be marked by a lifestyle of sin if we are truly following God, abiding in Him and His Word. The foundation for all our other beliefs is that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the co-equal Trinity. If anyone denies that Jesus is God or preaches some other gospel other than that laid out in Scripture, it is the spirit of the antichrist and the Spirit of God does not dwell in him.

My heart and my mind are fairly secure with regard to those first two because I do not lead a walk marked by a lifestyle of sin nor do I believe some false gospel, but the true Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures. However, the third test which Denny expounded upon definitely hit home with me. It is the relational test for true faith. Over and over throughout 1 John, love is mentioned. Verse 3:10 says “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. ” Verse 15 goes on to say that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Well who is my brother? The first part of 3:1 makes this clear: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” Every believer in Christ is my brother and my sister. So when I don’t treat them with the same loyalty, the same love, the same respect, the same dignity, the same forgiveness — in every manner the same as a member of my own family — 1 John 4:20 says of me: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” So if I do not love my brother, not only am I a liar, I am also a murderer and it is impossible for me to love God whom I have not seen because I cannot even love my brother whom I have seen.

But what is love? “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16). So if I am to love my brother as Christ has loved me, anything I have that I have been blessed with that my brother needs ought to be given to him. As God has shown me forgiveness for my sins against Him, so I ought to forgive my brother of all his sins against me. And just as God restores us when we repent to fellowship with Himself, so we ought to restore our brothers and sisters to fellowship when they repent of their sins against us. If I am to rid myself of any remnant of hatred for my brother or sister there cannot even be a hint of grudge-bearing in my life. That means I have to continue to pursue restoration and wholeness in my relationships with my mother and my younger brother, as well as others in my family who may not know Christ and also with those who are not in my immediate family but with whom I have had a falling out.

But what does it mean practically to stop holding a grudge against people who have hurt me? It means I stop avoiding them by refusing to speaking to them. It means I stop avoiding their physical presence. There was a time when I was angry (perhaps, I thought, even justifiably so) over the immense hurt they had caused me in either what they said or what they had done. The time for any anger has long past. It is now time for peace and reconciliation. It is time to pursue love. I am a child of God, and I ought to love His children. I’m going to have to make some difficult calls home this week. But it is what I must do. Otherwise, I am a liar and the love of Christ is not in me. Given who God is positionally toward me and what He has done for me, I cannot righteously justify withholding any forgiveness, reconciliation, or love from those by whom I have been hurt or offended.

If you, my friends, believe that I have a grudge against you or have withheld my love from you in any manner, please do not hesitate to tell me. If you call Jesus your King and God, you are my brothers and my sisters. I want to love you in the same manner as God, who has lavished His love upon me. This is right. This is proper. This is good. I pray that you will love me in this way also.