Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apart of His plan

It's that time of year again. It's Christmastime. What thoughts flash in your mind at the idea of Christmas? Family, a tree, giving and receiving gifts, decorations? These are just a few of the things I think of as I look around me, surrounded by the beauty of the season. This is my absolute favorite time of year. Everything turns magical, and I find myself feeling like a little kid. Traditions from years before reoccur, bringing warmth and familiarity. The bustle of people, the music, the weather, all bring a sense of enchantment. I love it all.

But I am sitting here today, listening as Dustin Kensrue sings carols through my record player. He sings "O Holy Night" and I am taken back to the point where this tradition began.
It was a holy night, the night the Savior of all mankind was born. For hundreds of years leading up to that day, prophesies had been told and retold, and in one divine moment, each were fulfilled. This is what it is all about. Every year I have been surrounded by sayings like "keep Christ in Christmas" or "Jesus is the reason for the season." While the sayings are wonderful to remember and ring true, think about something. Are you just spouting off cliches or are you actually doing something about what you are saying? Why do we only give Him this recognition at Christmas? He deserves it all year long. I feel like, as a Christian, I should be emphasizing these truths, always. But even as we say them at Christmas are we allowing ourselves to pause and think about why we celebrate the tree and the gifts and one another. We have this "holiday" because of the lowly birth of our savior.

In an effort to truly remember why we have Christmas I have been doing some studying in the book of Luke. I was inspired by Bro. Scott's sermon a couple of weeks ago. He was talking about Mary and the simple vessel she was. She found favor with God and was used by Him. Imagine being in her place. A virgin, carrying a child. It was a miracle, but it was probably scary, too. In that time, having a baby out of wedlock meant permanent disgrace. She endured those fears, though. She considered herself to be blessed that God chose her to be apart of his plan. That attitude got me thinking. God chose me. I was so undeserving and dirty and sinful, but he said. "I want you." I am blessed that he has allowed me to be apart of his plan. I don't deserve his outstretched hand inviting me to be in his big picture, but he is still offering it. So instead of getting downtrodden because of circumstances or problems within your life, rejoice, because it is all part of His plan. We are just lucky he is letting us be apart.

So this Christmas, make sure you remember why we celebrate, but also remember what Jesus's birth and death meant. It was all part of God's big plan. A plan that involved Mary and Joseph, then, and it involves you and I now. We are all simple servants, part of something much bigger.

And remember, something that seems impossible with men is ALWAYS possible with God.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Being a radical...

So recently I began reading David Platt's book, Radical. I'm probably about 60ish pages in and everything that I know and hold to has been put in a brand new perspective. Think about this. In the book he talks about a time right before he was going on a mission trip to Sudan. He was reading a BAPTIST newspaper and the headlines caught his eye. One headline was about a church celebrating their 23 million dollar new sanctuary. The other headline was talking about how the baptist were raising money for 350,000 Sudanese refugees. Naturally he got excited seeing this, especially since he was heading out to Sudan. He read on in the article, much shorter than the one about the 23 million dollar sanctuary, to find that the amount raised for the refugees was 5,000 dollars. Only 5,000 dollars for 350,000 men, women, and children. Puts a lot into perspective.
This story has been stuck in my mind for days now. I keep going back to it. It hits me close to home, I guess. Before I go on, let me say this. I don't think there is anything wrong with a growing church and a big building, just to be clear. But I attend a church thats growing. So much we have outgrown our sanctuary and we are almost finished building a new one. It's great to see God's hand working within my church, but I almost felt convicted at reading David Platt's story. I feel like we put so much emphasis on numbers and growth and state of the art worship centers that we lose focus on the needs of this lost and dying world. We can't reach out to Sudanese refugees by sitting in our cool air conditioned buildings in our comfy chairs with our hands underneath us. We have to think about the people with needs.
I am blessed. I go to a church that is growing, BUT it also has a heart for the lost world. I just pray that we as christians as a whole, forget the numbers game and focus on something a bit more important: the billions of people that have never heard the gospel. We are called in Matthew to GO and make disciples. Are we making disciples or are we more worried about what color the church is painted or the color of the carpet. It's great to have a place to worship as a church family, but please don't lose sight of what is important.
I hope I worded this all right. I got a little offended when I read the book, but I quickly realized it wasn't me taking offense. It was the Holy Spirit convicting my heart. Sometimes I get a little proud because of our church growth and our building, but God has brought me back down to size. In closing, what is important to you? The multi million dollar worship center or the Sudanese refugees. Because that's what it comes down to.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What's your desire?

I'm a strong believer in this: When you take the big leap. When you make that big decision. You surrender your life to Christ. Something should happen. A change should take place.
"What kind of change is that?" you may be asking.
Well, I'm glad you enquired.
"Getting saved" as we baptist like to say is not just about making a statement. In the 21st century accepting Christ into your life has become so watered down. It is not some magic prayer. When you make that choice a lifestyle change should occur. That's the change I am talking about. Its a desire change. A complete 180 in what you want. Yea, we are still sinners and of course we're gonna mess up, but its the after we mess up that counts. Are you convicted as you are sinning? Do you want to stop? When we have a desire change we don't want to go anywhere near things we know will cause us to sin. With salvation there should be a change of heart. We should look different than the world, not blend in with it. So with all that, what is you desire? Where does your heart sit? It's something to ponder and think about...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Total Surrender

Lately the question "what is total surrender to you?" has been bouncing around. Up until today I haven't had an actual response to that question. It has been in the back of my mind, but I hadn't given it much thought. All that changed today as I did my daily devotional which is currently out of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I was reading about how Paul said he was completely overpowered by the love of Christ. The words in the devotion went onto say that people rarely are totally and completely gripped by the love of Christ. When one is completely overtaken by His powerful love it is evident in the life of that person and we can see God moving unhindered there. The question came to my mind. Is this how I look? Does it look like Christ is completely unhindered in my life and that He is moving freely? Have I really experience the true gripping love of Christ.

The total surrender point is coming. Later on in the passage it says "This total surrender to 'the love of Christ' is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God's holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness."

Christ's love needs to brand us. As Christians we are called to look different and be different than the world. Have we let this unfailing love put a brand on our lives? Have we totally surrendered to this love and let in change us from the inside out?

Just things to ponder.

2 Corinthians 5:14: Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for us all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life." (NLT)