You just don’t understand

Has someone ever told you, “You just don’t understand?”

As I re-read sections of The Shack, I am reminded that I  just don’t understand! There are so many things I just don’t get. Like why does God allow evil in this world? (see http://docs.google.com/View?id=dfr2db42_1h7jkkg6 for a paper I wrote that explains theologically why God may allow evil).

Still, everyday millions of people turn from God or to God for answers to this and many other questions. Why? It’s because we just don’t understand. After all, if we understood, we wouldn’t need to ask. But why don’t we understand? Well, according to the author of the Shack, we “try to make sense of the world in which [we] live based on a very small and incomplete picture of reality.” (p. 126). God has a plan much greater than ours. I didn’t say “better” although that’s true, but His plan is greater in all ways. The scope of His plan extends beyond the limits of our small space, it even extends beyond time.

We attempt to fix things within our space (the things and people we interact with). And we attempt to fix things NOW. We sometimes don’t think about the consequences of our actions in the future. 

But God has a grander picture, one that covers ALL things through space and time. If we truly trust God, we wouldn’t attack Him and charge Him “guilty” when evil is present in our lives; instead we would THANK HIM for loving us and producing a harvest in us that is better than we could sow. 

God is continually growing us and if we could just see that, then all things would fall in to place. As the author of the Shack said, “If you knew [God] was good and that everything – the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives – is all covered by [God’s] goodness, then while you might not always understand what [God] is doing, you would trust [God]. But you don’t” (p. 126).

That’s a hard statement to accept. If we truly trusted God, we wouldn’t necessarily understand, but we would accept it. How do you trust God? We’ll talk about this more later, it comes through a relationship with Him. Come back soon and we’ll start work on developing that relationship!

{quoted passages taken from The Shack
.}

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Does your church or community represent this? I hope not. But if it does, it’s probably in need of a revival/transformation.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us:

So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.

Our church is really a representation of us. If we are dead, then our church is dead. If we allow this world (or our “religion”) to control us, then we may not be praising God! Make your offering for GOD!

It has amazed me this summer what I have seen students do for the glory of God. I have truly been transformed this summer with some great upbeat spirit-led messages. 

I challenge all of us to let our bodies be a “living sacrifice” for God. 

Remember He died for you, the least we can do is live for Him!

Denial is the first step!


Common, we all know denial is the first stage. So how bad is it really?

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”  Mark 14:30 – speaking to Peter

Later…

Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.  – Mark 14:66-72

The bad news is that Peter denied Jesus. The worst news is that we do also. We sit back quietly, the “silent Christian” – and let others mock, slander, and spew insults at God. We let others use His name in vain.

We have friends that repeatedly cut down the name of God on Facebook, youtube, twitter, etc and we don’t say a word to them. We allow, permit, and sometimes even forward offensive jokes and foul language on e-mail and text messages. 

Meanwhile, God is watching us. Yet, so are the ones we allow to do it. Our friends see us allow these things, yet we call ourselves Christians. We have denied God.

So, now what? Well, fortunately, there is Good News! Not just about Jesus, but about our denial of Him.  That’s right, good news!  You see, Denial is the first step, but there are many more! Most all experts will tell you that denial is only the first step.

The second is generally known as anger. So now that we have denied, have we progressed to being angry about it? Are we upset that we have denied God, and are we trying to throw the blame elsewhere?

The third step…Bargaining. Instead of fully surrendering to the issue at hand, one may attempt to convince himself or others that the problem is not serious and not confront it directly.

The fourth step is depression. Unfortunately this must happen as the person FULLY accepts their fault and comes to terms with the problem.

The good news is realized in step 5 when the person admits and accepts the issue but then with determination takes an active role in correcting their behavior.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them… ‘That whoever calls on the name of the LORD, Shall be saved.’Acts 2:14,21

Peter came full circle and became the first to speak publicly for Christ following His ascension to Heaven. Although we deny Christ today, we can admit it fully through a disciplined approach to coming to know God. Jesus accepts us as we are. We are forgiven and free. All we have to do is follow Him. We can come full circle and go from denying Him, to publicly speaking for Him.

Have you denied Him? Well, take the next step and admit it and follow Him. Don’t let the world control you. Start speaking up for Jesus! Glorify Him in everything you do.

With Everything

After spending last night at the Blaze, I’ve got a song stuck in my head (With Everything by Hillsong). But I couldn’t figure out why until I did my morning devotion.

Proverbs 3:9 Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.

This is a beautiful song and a great proverb. It reminds us that we shouldn’t give God anything less than our best. If we claim to be a Christian, we shouldn’t just be there on Sundays for Him. We shouldn’t just be there everytime the church doors are open. We should be there 24/7 for Jesus.

Our lives should revolve around God. In everything we do, we should be glorifying God. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; one day I too thought people like me were “Jesus Freaks.” But now I get it, now I understand. That IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD!  Nothing else matters. Your life, while worldly, was given to you by God. You belong to Him. Why not give something back to Him? Why not give Him everything since it’s His to start with?

The song mentioned above starts with the lyrics:

Open our eyes
To see the things that make Your heart cry
To be the church that You would desire

They’re not talking about a building. They’re talking about YOU, about ME. Our bodies are the Lord’s temple. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?(1 Corinthians 3:16)

With everything
With everything
We will shout for Your glory
With everything
With everything
We will shout forth Your praise

Honor God with everything….

Romans 8



Have you ever read Romans 8? It’s an awesome part of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Here are a couple verses that show God’s wonderful story:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Christians are now free from sin and free from death. We now have eternal life in Jesus Christ when we become new in Him.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Christians need not be afraid, for God is our father; we are His children. We become heirs of Heaven as children of God!

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

(This is one of my favorites…) Think about how much you are suffering. Well, it cannot be compared to the amount and kind of glory that will be revealed in us!!!

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God….

Enough said…. Our God is truly an awesome God!

Things to do….

Hopefully I won’t see any of this tomorrow, but just in case…you may want to be prepared.  Seriously, I hope y’all enjoy tomorrow morning. God has given me a message I think we all need to hear and I’m anxious to spread the Word!

Things to do during a boring sermon:

* Pass a note to to the organist asking whether he/she plays requests.
* See if a yawn really is contagious.
* Slap your neighbor. See if they turn the other cheek. If not, raise your hand and tell the preacher.
* Devise ways of climbing into the balcony without using the stairs.
* Listen for your preacher to use a word beginning with ‘A’ then ‘B’ and so on through the alphabet.
* Sit in the back row and roll a handful of marbles under the pews ahead of you. After the service, credit yourself with 10 points for every marble that made it to the front.
* Using church bulletins or visitor cards for raw materials, design, test and modify a collection of paper airplanes.
* Start from the back of the church and try to crawl all the way to the front, under the pews, without being noticed.
* Raise your hand and ask for permission to go to the rest room.
* Whip out a hankie and blow your nose. Vary the pressure exerted on your nostrils and trumpet out a rendition of your favorite hymn.
* Chew gum; if the sermon goes on for more than 15 minutes, start blowing bubbles.
* Try to indicate to the minister that his fly is undone.
* Unobtrusively draw your arms up into your sleeves, turn your shirt around backwards.
* Try to raise one eyebrow.
* Crack your knuckles.
* Twiddle your thumbs.
* Twiddle your neighbor’s thumbs.
* Wiggle your ears so that the people behind you will notice.

A reminder!

I wasn’t going to blog today, but as I opened my Bible, I felt convicted to mention something to all of us believers out there that are consistently mocked about believing in God. 

Straight from 2 Peter 3:2-4, 8-15

  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Peter reminds us to have patience and continued faith as we wait for Jesus to return. In the meantime, we should also continue to live our lives for Him, according to His will, not ours.  “Live your life to the fullest” and glorify God!

The lost chapter…

Here is the LOST CHAPTER from the book of GENESIS…. (y’all this is a JOKE!)

Adam was walking around the garden of Eden feeling very lonely, so God asked him, “What is wrong with you?” Adam said he didn’t have anyone to talk to. God said that He was going to make Adam a companion and that it would be a “woman.”

God said, “This person will gather food for you, cook for you, and when you discover clothing she’ll wash it for you. She will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear your children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will not nag you and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you’ve had a disagreement. She will never have a headache and will freely give you love and passion whenever you need it.

Adam asked God, “What will this ‘woman’ cost?”
God replied, “An arm and a leg.”
Then Adam asked, “What can I get for a rib?”
The rest is history….

—————————-

For those of you who have yet to discover the joy of marriage, I hated to post this for fear that you may believe it as truth. However, what you will find any loving husband tell you is that man is NOTHING without woman. God says that man and woman will unite as one under God

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  – Genesis 2:4

I pray that the joy of marriage will come to each and every one of you in God’s own timing.  Do not rush your life, as God has a plan and only His plan is the supreme way to accomplish all things.

Hungry?

Proverbs 10: 3 – “The Lord will not let the Godly go hungry, but He refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.”

The book of Proverbs is not a book on Christian doctrine, but a book of moral truth. It includes a vast amount of material and knowledge that can be applied personally to follow a godly life. The word proverb comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to rule or to govern.” We should allow these proverbs to govern our lives.

Will we ever go hungry in life? I’m sure that most all of us can say we have at some point. However, what I’d like to focus on is the second part of this proverb.  – “He refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.”

Let’s think about the wicked . . . sinners (that includes us). Think about the last sin you committed…was it fun during the act? It seems that when we sin, the “enjoyment” of it only lasts temporarily. In fact, as soon as the sin has been violated and over with, the flesh (our body) wants more of it. Worse yet, the more often that sin is committed, the easier it gets, and the more the flesh wants. It seems to be an unending, losing situation. Remember – “He refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.”

Now, let’s go back to the first part of the proverb – “The Lord will not let the Godly go hungry.” Frequently, I speak to fellow Christians about my walk with the Lord. It seems that when we do fellowship, worship, and speak about the Lord and to Him, our souls are refreshed. Not just during the time that we are together worshipping the Lord, but for a long time following it. The Lord has made us so that when we do right, we feel right. Our soul is refreshed during worship and our bodies are made new again in Him. 

Remember Matthew 18:20 “where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.” Take time to be with another and come into the presence of the Lord. Let Him refresh your souls today, don’t go hungry!

All things new

Having problems? Struggling with sin in your life? Can’t seem to get past your past? The good news is that God makes all things new! This song by Misty Edwards is a great song telling us just that – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pHnBJOGluE&feature=related

At the end of times, God states in Revelation 21:5 – “Behold I make all things new.” He is referring to the New Jerusalem. However, what’s great about God is that He is in the business of changing lives NOW!

Yes, He can change your life. He can make all things new in your life today. Jesus wants you to reflect Him in your life. He wants you to be a new person. And you can be. All you have to do is ask Him to help you.

God can make all things new in your life. Don’t get me wrong, you will still see the occassional rainfall, and maybe even downpour of hardship in your life. However, just as the rain refreshes the earth and gives it life, the trials and struggles in our lives will make us new and full of life also.

So next time it rains in your life, smile, for you are being made new again! Hallelujah!