7/7/11

Two Things Satan Tries To Make Us Forget And One Verse To Ensure That Never Happens

Although I've known Jesus since I was a boy, I mark the beginning of a real relationship with Him in college. Since then, I have ridden a wave of guilt and joy and duty and praise - just trying to figure out how I am supposed to approach my relationship with Him and my responsibility as a Christian. Although I would consider myself a toddler in the faith, I feel confident in two very simple, yet important lessons from God. Two lessons that Satan wishes we didn't know, but is powerless against.

The first lesson is that God is most clear through His word. 

Let me explain this very simple statement. I watch a lot of sermons. And I'm probably responsible for several hundred visits to the many John Piper, Francis Chan and Andy Stanley videos on YouTube. I've learned so much from them. I also love books about Christian living. Honestly, most days, I'd much rather read a book about the Bible than the Bible.

But as great as those pastors and books are at communicating the truth, no voice is clearer than the voice of Jesus. And we should be careful to substitute a sermon or a blog or a book in place of a deep dive into the scriptures. When I sit down and read my Bible, with a desire to listen to God, I learn more in ten minutes than I do from watching ten sermons. And Satan hates that.

His lie is that if we're not reading twenty-nine chapters a day, we're not good Christians. But I've learned that when I read even just one verse, out loud, slowly, and repeatedly, God's voice becomes clear through His word. And this, to me, should be the goal of our relationship with Him.

The second lesson is that we have to ask God to give us joy in our salvation.

Notice what I said above - that I learn so much from reading my Bible when I have a desire to listen to God. That desire is hard to maintain, especially when the evil one is poking and prodding us with every temptation imaginable. Satan is a master at making Christianity seem boring and joyless. As a result, you and I often lose the joy that comes from the salvation of Jesus.

It's important to be aware of this tactic, and to know that this happens to us all. But it's even more important that we fight this by asking God for joy in Him. One verse that every Christian should commit to memory, and plead to God everyday, is David's Psalm 51:12:

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." 

We must ask God to help us want to trust Him, want to learn from Him, want to be like Him. Because most days, we're indifferent. Most days, I'd rather write a blog post or read the news than read the words of our Creator.

Don't let the seriousness of this post trigger any guilt or sarcasm in your minds. But ask God to give you a willing spirit for obedience and joy in his salvation.

I regret to tell you that this is my last post until August. As most of you know, the bar exam is closing in, and as much as I love to write, I need to focus on my studies. And, if God wills it, I'll pass this dreadful exam. 

6/28/11

Does Jesus Always Forgive?

It seems strange to ask this question. Of course Jesus always forgives. It's what He does. It's who He is. Who is Jesus without forgiveness? This is what we're taught as children - that when we sin, we can ask Jesus to forgive us, and He will separate us from our sins.

It's hard to think about how many times Jesus has forgiven humans. It's like thinking about God having no beginning. But as many times as he has forgiven our sins, the question remains: does he always forgive? Always?

Honestly, I wish I had not found the following verse, but it's there, in probably the most famous sermon ever preached - the sermon on the mount.

"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:15)

Read that verse again. Let it invade the way you think of your relationship with Jesus.

Now ask yourself another question: who have you not forgiven?

This post is probably as much fun to read as it was for me to write. One of the most amplified parts of my sin nature is my unwillingness to forgive others. And now I'm told that the longer I hold onto their sins, the longer Jesus withholds his forgiveness of mine.

This doesn't sound right. Your internal reader may be disturbed by the sentence above. But is that not what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:15? That if I don't truly forgive others, He will not forgive me of my sins? I can read it no other way.

Father, give us the strength and humility to forgive, because you have commanded this of us, and so that you will forgive our sins.

6/16/11

1 Rule Every Christian Should Follow On Twitter

I was going to entitle this post, "How Jesus Would Use Twitter," but everyone knows that speaking for Jesus about things that aren't in the Bible is a Christian blog fail. And as hard as I tried to find some hidden message about Twitter in one of Jesus' parables, I was unsuccessful.

I have noticed that Twitter has become like a diary, where we impulsively display our thoughts - ironically oftentimes without much thought. But unlike a diary, we display it for the world. In one of my past tweets, I wrote, "Just went to Little Caesar's for a hot-n-ready. Got a hot-n-ready in 5 min, instead." In another tweet, I wrote, "Two people have told me something similar to this today - 'He was a little guy. Just a little bigger than you.' #beamingwithself-confidence."

What's wrong with these tweets? Not much, I guess. We should be able to use Twitter in any way we choose. But as a Christian, I wonder if Twitter and Facebook and any other way we communicate with the world should be more positive, more strategic. In last week's post, I wrote about my timidity to share the gospel. As God works on that, and as I am reminded that "the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline," I am also reminded that our behavior - the things we do that nonbelievers watch so closely - extends to Twitter. While I may not make the best of opportunities to share the gospel in person, my message is loud and clear when I'm careless on Twitter.

I'm reluctant to write posts like this. I don't want to sound legalistic. But what if we Christians followed this one rule on Twitter?

#1 - No Negative Tweets
Although it may not seem like that big of an issue, when Christians are negative on Twitter, we are telling the world that our joy from God can be overcome by our complaints about life. Our negative tweet may seem relevant, and potentially amusing, but to your followers, it just sounds whiny. And though it will be drowned by other tweets in minutes, your boss, your friends or any other follower has a permanent database to review your negative thoughts.

I'm not suggesting that we send out regular fake, happy tweets. Maybe just cut the ones that don't help the kingdom. As Paul teaches us in Ephesians, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph. 4:29).

What are some more rules that Christians should follow on Twitter?

6/9/11

Are You Awkward Around Christianity?

If I were a Christian living just after Jesus died, I'd be one that didn't want to spread the word to the Gentiles. Not because I'd believe the gift didn't extend to them. But because it would be less burdensome to make disciples out of the Jews. Though they may not have been "Christians," they would  at least be familiar with and believe in God. It's much easier to talk to people about Christianity when they have a base.

I've found that I have more courage to talk with someone about my faith when I've been given some indicator that they are, at the very least, semi-religious. It happened to me the other day. I was in the car with a coworker. After a few seconds, I realized that KLOVE was playing on the radio, and immediately I said, "it's good to be working with a fellow believer." And the discussion began.

See how easy that was? I worked up enough courage to talk to a Christian about my Christian faith. The world needs more Christians as brave as me.

But seriously, if we're called to "go and make disciples of all nations," why am I so scared to do it? Why do I get so awkward when I even think about mentioning the God who has saved me from eternal suffering? Am I alone in this?

Talking to people about Jesus has become what awkward Christians do. Cool Christians don't want other people to think they're not cool, so they don't even try. I'm in that camp. I want people to think I'm cool, so I witness by behaving in public. I justify that mindset by telling myself that I can have just as much impact by being a good person around others, and by waiting for the right time. After all, I don't want to turn people away. And that may be true. But when I look at the New Testament church, I see that Peter and the rest of the disciples made the right time. They didn't wait for someone to ask about Jesus. It was urgent to them, and important enough to die for.

Are you awkward around Christianity? Or is it just me?

6/2/11

When Big Things Come

If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you already know that I have been on a long road of career uncertainty. I graduated on May 21, and at that point, I still did not have a job. Over the past few months, however, my relationship with God has been more intimate, more real than ever before. I've heard people say that, and it makes sense. When we want something only God can provide, we cling to Him. But what about when the big thing comes? What do we do when God answers that big prayer?

I am happy to say that God has done that for me and my family. Just days after graduation, He provided an amazing job, one that I could not be more thankful for. As I look back over the past few months and the countless times I heard the words, "we're not hiring," He has given me the clarity that only comes from his timing. 

But I wonder - how will this affect our relationship? Can I maintain this intimacy with Him? I've learned through all of this that God wants us all in one place: dependent on Him. So when He provides the job or the husband or the house or the baby, find another way to be dependent on Him.