Thursday, September 29, 2005

Title Or Lifestyle?

Imagine for a second that you've just seen me walk into a concert hall, jump up on stage and, in front of a massive audience, you hear me say, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have been trained to be a concert pianist by the world famous Mitsuko Uchida! Please enjoy the show!" The people in the audience, who've paid good money to see a professional pianist play, begin to clap and actually believe what I say. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I don't know jack squat about playing a piano; in fact, I don't even know Mitsuko Uchida!

Well, it seems I've gotten myself into a tight situation. I've just told a huge lie and now, because of my pride, I'm going to have to fake it in front of this massive audience.

I sit down and begin to play "Marry Had A Little Lamb" (the only song I really know). Out of nowhere the crowd erupts into laughter as if I'm sarcastically toying with them. However, after ten minutes of playing this childish tune, the crowd begins to wonder if I'm really who I say I am, and I begin to turn red. Instead of coming clean and telling the audience the truth, it seems I have not only made myself look bad, but Mitsuko Uchida is most likely not impressed that I associated my ability with her fame in order to increase my own!

The sad thing is there are a lot of people out there who "claim" to be Christians, yet people who look at these "Christian's" lifestyles aren't able to see the change of heart that should be evident when someone accepts, and begins to grow in, Jesus Christ. When the time comes for them to "perform", a discerning eye reveals that they can't stand up to the expectations that their false facade creates! This is because they don't truly have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Just like me claiming to be a concert pianist would make myself and Mitsuko Uchida look bad, I believe that those who claim themselves to be Christians, even though they consider "Christian" only as a title and not a lifestyle, mock God! If our purpose as a Christian is to spread God's love and His message of redemption, how can "Christians" like these truly promote Christianity when everything that they say or do does not reflect the life change that He provides to those who accept Him? I believe the truth is they can't! It's like the blind leading the blind! Our walk with Jesus Christ should reflect Christ-like action! We should not only claim to be Christians, we should be Christ-FOLLOWERS! We need to make a conscious effort to display the change that Jesus has produced through our personal relationship with Him!

I'm not claiming to be perfect, I'm far from it, but there is a big difference in claiming to be a Christian and modeling your life after Jesus Christ! There are times when I see people who project themselves as Christians but their actions and lifestyle indicate otherwise!

For instance, there have been times when I've come across a blog or personal website of someone who claims to be a Christian, but their site is filled to the brim with cuss words! And there are plenty of times when I've seen girls that claim to be Christians, but the clothes they wear show way too much skin! Or, maybe you've run across people who feel like it is okay to tell jokes that are hurtful to others, even though they know that we need to build each other up instead of tearing each other down (Ephesians 4:29-31)! And what about making fun of others, or gossiping? The Bible says that is like helping a wicked man by being a bad witness (Exodus 23:1)! Even a true Christ follower can get caught up in some of the actions above; we are all sinners! So how are we able to recognize other Christian's?

The Bible says that instead of merely saying we are Christians, we need to die to our old self and offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" to God (Romans 12:1-2)! The Bible also tells us that when we belong to Christ, and we become a slave to Him rather than a slave to sin, the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, indwells in us to assist us in our decisions, in our modeling, and in discerning the will of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we grow in our faith, by reading the Bible, attending a Biblical church, and associating with other true Christ followers, we will produce fruit and we will also become "Fruit Inspectors".

The Bible says a Christ follower will bear much "fruit". So how can you tell a Christian from one only claiming to be a Christian? You've guessed it! The Fruits of the Spirit will be evident in their lives (Galatians 5:22-25)! As you become better at bearing fruit for Christ, you'll also become better at inspecting for fruit in others!

The Bible warns us that those who only claim to be Christians, yet produce no fruit, are like trees who also produce no fruit; they will be chopped down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10)!

It seems like each day there are more and more people who claim to be Christians, but they put more emphasis on belonging to this world rather than belonging to God (Philippians 3:18-19)! Do you claim to be a Christian but your lifestyle doesn't show it? Do you consider "Christian" a title and not a lifestyle change? Do you claim to strive to model your life after Jesus Christ's, yet you show no effort? If so, you aren't living the life that God calls His children to live!

Say goodbye to your old ways. For those who constantly fall back into their old lifestyle are not fit for the service of the Lord (Luke 9: 62). Add action to your walk with Christ; become a Christ-FOLLOWER instead of being what this world's definition of a "Christian" is. Give up your life as a living sacrifice to God, hold onto what is good, and keep away from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, James 4:7-10). Devote your life to Jesus and you will find that He will bless you more than you can imagine.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Our Fate With Hate

You walk into school with your Christian shirt on and what do you get? A group of people who are trying their best to humiliate you in front of everyone because of who you serve: God. This tragic event, I'm sure, has happened to you. We all have had times where we've become the center of humiliation and even hate because of our love for Christ. Why is this the case though?

First of all, it is important that we understand that the world hates us because we don't belong to it; we are no longer part of this world! In John 15:18-27, Jesus tells us to expect hate from this world because of our love for Him:

When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don't. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? `A servant is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you! The people of the world will hate you because you belong to me, for they don't know God who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me hates my Father, too. If I hadn't done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be counted guilty. But as it is, they saw all that I did and yet hated both of us--me and my Father. This has fulfilled what the Scriptures said: `They hated me without cause.' But I will send you the Counselor--the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me. And you must also tell others about me because you have been with me from the beginning.
As you can see, the reason why we are hated in this world is because the world hates God! We must remember that Christ chose us to tell others about Him, no matter the cost! Those who hear the good news (the Gospel) have no excuse for their sins, for they have the facts yet don't believe them!

Sometimes we think that the hatred towards us is because of something we have done, but the opposite is true! They hate Christ and us without cause because of the evilness in their hearts! Take comfort in Christ's reason for this warning in John 16:1, it is meant to bring us strength! Find strength as well in the command given to Ezekiel by God in Ezekiel 2:6-7:
Son of man, do not fear them. Don't be afraid even though their threats are sharp as thorns and barbed like briers, and they sting like scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls. For remember, they are rebels! You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won't listen, for they are completely rebellious!
How should we react to these situations though? Should we lash out at those who hate us? No! That would do more damage! People of this world constantly want us to fail so that the image of Christ will become non-existent; in order to maintain the image of Christ and the morals we are to uphold, we must express unconditional love and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-41)! In fact, in Acts 5:41 we see that Peter and John actually rejoiced because "God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus!"

Do you struggle to find strength in tough times? If so, pray to God asking Him to help you as you represent Him. When you find yourself in these situations, where your love for Christ is causing you pain, be glad! For if you are being ridiculed because of your loyalty to Christ, then you know that others can see your love for God! Christ wasn't the only one who suffered pain for our gain; there will also be times where we will suffer pain in order to advance the Gospel! Have faith, for even when you don't see the blessings, trials of all kinds strengthen our perseverance and eventually we will recieve our reward.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Procrastination Nation

One of my worst habits is procrastination. I'm not as bad about it anymore, but I definitely still fall into its grasps. Sometimes, I'll even wait until the night before a project is due to even get started! This habit of mine is not only an annoyance to me, but it is also very dangerous! Likewise, there is a lot of danger in someone putting their eternal life on the back-burner. There are many who have heard about Jesus and all He offers, yet many keep saying, "maybe tomorrow."

This world won't last forever and neither will we! Last time I checked there was a 100% chance that we all will die! Because of this truth, the only way that we are able to live forever is through accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior (John 14:6)! It amazes me though, to hear of people who have heard of Christ, yet are not willing to accept Him! This world is filled with people who stumble through the "darkness", but the Bible says that Jesus is the light that leads to life (John 8:12)! In fact, Matthew 24:48-51 describes exactly how a lot of people in this world put off accepting Christ:
But if the servant is evil and thinks, `My master won't be back for a while,' and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk-- well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This passage tells us that being like the evil servant is not the way to go! It says that the servant will be sent to Hell, "a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth", and will be torn apart! Why then, if it is known that such a future exists for those who don't come to Christ, do many put off accepting Christ?

Could it be because we as Christ-followers aren't doing the job that we were sent to do (Matthew 4:19)? As a Christ-follower, are you doing your job? Are you spreading the gospel (the "good news")? If not, don't keep God a secret! Shout it out to all of those in this procrastination nation and tell them of His amazing love (Isaiah 40:9)!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Art Appreciation

When I was younger, I didn't have too much interest in art. I was never good at drawing and even when I colored I could never stay in the lines (I still can't). I also never truly understood how simple markings, which were no greater than the scribbles I was capable of, were considered art by adults with so-called "better understanding". I figured that maybe it was true; maybe I needed to grow in order to appreciate art more. As it turned out, the more I grew, the more appreciative of art I became. I began to realize that the art pieces weren't always about what was being displayed, but the emotion and meaning behind them.

If you think about it, all good things on this earth have been created by God! You, me, the trees, animals, the skies... everything! But sometimes I believe we don't show the amount of respect for the art that God has created as we should! We may believe that God created everything, but do we truly appreciate it? Do we look at it and yell out in disgust? Or can we honestly say that we appreciate the amazing work that only God could have done?

Imagine yourself in a museum. Every person around you is looking at all of the beautiful art around you, but you are completely disgusted with it. You look at everyone you come in contact with and tell them that the art looks horrible and is completely useless. Imagine now that you had the chance to meet the creator of the art on display. You walk up to this person and tell them that their art is horrible and is completely useless. How rude is that!? How would you feel if you were the person who created the art and some random person tells you that your work is not good enough and worthless!

Many times though, we do the exact same thing to God! He is always around us, listening and watching what we do, yet many times we'll throw a sarcastic comment towards someone else and then laugh as they turn red from embarrassment. What's worse is we usually do this around other people so that we can feel better about ourselves at their expense!

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26-27 that we are made in the image of God! Why then do we throw sarcastic remarks at others and make fun of one another if God is the One who created us? Would you say such a thing to His face? Of course not! But sometimes we do just that! Ephesians 4:2-7 tells us that we should always be humble, gentle, and patient with each other. It even tells us to "make allowance for each other's faults". We must come together with love rather than segregate ourselves by harsh words and sarcasm!

In Ephesians 4:29-31, Paul writes:

Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He is the One who has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.
When we are rude to someone else, or we don't include someone because of how they look, act or talk, we are ultimately telling God that we are not appreciative of His art and that we think it is horrible and worthless! The truth is, we are all equally important to God; He loves us more than we can image! If God loves each and every one of us, then why do we put each other down?

Just how I was unable to comprehend why simple scribbles were considered art, many times the feelings that we experience, or the people we know, may not necessarily make sense to us. We may have a hard time figuring out why God put someone or something in our lives, or why we feel the way we do at different times in our lives, but just as I grew to understand that art is not always about what is on the outside, rather more about the emotion and meaning behind them, so can you grow in your relationship with Christ and begin to understand the meaning of all of God's creations.

Do you find yourself constantly making fun of other people? Do you seem to always have a negative attitude that causes you to lash out at others? Pray to God and ask Him to help you with accepting others and appreciating all that you see. Remind yourself of the beauty of the "small" things (e.g., the sun, stars, flowers, skies) and thank Him for them. You will find that the more you thank God for the "small" things, the more value you will put on the greater things, like fellow humans and our Creator! We should all strive to be appreciative of God's art; after all, we are God's art too!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Spiritual Heart Transplant

When we accept Christ, and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, we undergo a spiritual heart transplant. Our old heart, which has been plagued by the evilness of this world, has been replaced with a heart that is transformed by the Holy Spirit. This operation, while at the beginning seems to be an easy process, turns out to require much more effort than originally thought.

The Christian lifestyle is not an easy one. It requires constant conviction from the Holy Spirit in order to stay on the narrow path. The problem arises when our worldly body begins to reject our new heart; then it becomes an issue of spiritual maturity and discipline.

Ephesians 5:8-9 shows us exactly what this spiritual heart transplant is all about, and what the "post-operation" outcome should be like: "For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true."

When a patient comes out of surgery, the doctor comes to them to see how they are progressing and make sure the patient has discipline enough to take care of themselves after the surgery. In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps to keep us accountable so that we may constantly progress in our walk with Christ through spiritual maturity and discipline. Don't worry, if you've accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior and Believe that He died on the Cross in order to save you from your sins so that you can enter into the family of God, then your spiritual heart transplant was successful! God is not only over-qualified, He's also the only one who can complete such an operation! But, if your behavior and lifestyle don't reflect the change that God has produced in His followers, then you need to get a spiritual check-up!

So what can we do in order to strengthen our spiritual maturity and discipline? Well, we aren't left hanging in this passage from Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:10-11, we see exactly what we must do in order to work out the heart that has been graciously given to us: "Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them."

By faithfully searching for what pleases God, whether it be through reading the Bible, communicating with fellow Christians, or prayer, you will find that you will have a better understanding of the moral standards that we as Christians are to hold. The more you know about God's moral expectations, the more you can stay away from the "worthless deeds of evil and darkness".

The world we live in definitely has its many false doctors who will try to persuade you into thinking they have a better operation. But, I tell you the truth, God is the only one who can truly save you from this evil world; He is the only one who can perform such a spiritual heart transplant. Keep your eyes on the Lord, and work on your spiritual maturity and discipline; by doing so, you will find that you will spark the change of heart that brings forth the spiritual heart transplants of others.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Seek Him First

In the past, I've had the opportunity to meet a small handful of famous people. I'd become so excited about meeting them that I'd think about them all the time. While I'd like to say that most of these opportunities were great experiences, it simply isn't the case. Most of the time these famous people acted as if they were too busy to talk, or they came across as being too important to even share the same air.

In this world, it's all about who you know and who you've met. We strive to say, "I've met so and so" and "He was so close he spit on me", yet many times we don't give enough attention to the most important being we'll ever be in contact with: God!

It amazes me how much God loves us. We are not perfect like He is, yet He still wants to be with us! We've disobeyed Him many times, and will continue to do so, yet He's got faith in us! With such a loving God, the only God in any religion that strives to be with His people, you'd think we'd put more effort into being with Him! Yet, many times we put so much energy into meeting so called VIP's who are nothing more than just temporary beings!

The Bible says in Acts 17:26-28 that the reason why we were created to begin with was to seek God:
From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries. His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him--though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, "We are His offspring."

If the reason for our existence is to "seek after God", don't you think our lives would be at their best when we are in line with this purpose? We must come to the point in our walk with Christ where we put Him before everything, and we seek Him more than anything else! In fact, Jesus tells us in Proverbs 8:17 that when we seek Him, we will find Him! With such guarantee of finding our savior, there is no room for excuses!

Do you find yourself putting a lot of energy into making sure you know those who are "important"? Do you constantly boast about your "connections"? If so, turn from doing so and seek first the kingdom of God! Put all of your energy into being with God and you will find that you will be filled with even more energy. Never stop seeking Him, for you will find Him (Matthew 7:7) and constantly remind yourself that you aren't the only one doing the seeking, God longs to be with you as well.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Constant Communication

One of the most mysterious things about our relationship with God is the power of prayer. The fact that the Creator of everything is waiting to be in communication with us at any time, anywhere, is absolutely amazing! Sadly, many Christians are not practicing constant communication with God!

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is my man Nehemiah. The whole book of Nehemiah lists many occasions where He called upon God to help him in the situations that he was in. In the beginning of the book, Nehemiah's brother Hanani, and some other men who had just arrived from Judah, told him that those who had returned there from captivity were not doing so well and that the wall of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been destroyed (Nehemiah 1:2 NLV). For days, Nehemiah wept and fasted and prayed to God (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLV).

By the end of his prayer in verses 5-11, Nehemiah had decided to go to the King to ask him a "great favor". Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes' cup bearer; his duty was to ensure the safety and quality of the king's food and drink, which gave him great access to the King. In Nehemiah 2:2-4 NLV, we read of one day when he was serving the king some wine, and the king asked him why he looked so sad. Nehemiah became terrified, but told the king about the situation in Jerusalem. When the king asked him how he could help him, Nehemiah did what we all should do as Christians in times of need-he prayed.

That's right! Nehemiah spontaneously prayed to God! He knew that he could not accomplish his goal without God's help, so he did what he knew would work: prayer. Nehemiah 2:5-9 NLV tells us that after Nehemiah's prayer to God and talking with the king, King Artaxerxes not only allowed Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem, but he gave him letters to the governors of the places he would be traveling through for protection, a letter to the manager of the king's forest asking him to give him wood to construct the gates, and military escort!

Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem and in just fifty-two days, the wall was finished (Nehemiah 6:15 NLV)! Throughout the book of Nehemiah, there are many trials that Nehemiah encountered; but, through prayer and the strength that only God can provide, he accomplished all that God had told him to do.

It's sad, but a lot of people don't completely understand the importance and power of prayer! There is no burden too small, or too large to be brought to God, yet many times we don't even bother to bring them to Him. We all can learn a lot from Nehemiah and we all need to strive to have the same attitude as he did towards prayer.

Are you in constant communication with God? Do you often wonder if God is even there? Take refuge in His unfailing love and realize that God is there. Constantly be in prayer with Him, even during random times, just as Nehemiah did. For the power of prayer through Christ causes the enemies of God to cringe (Psalms 66:3 NLV), and He will grant us justice(Luke 18:1-8 NLV).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Spiritual Rubber Neck

As humans we have a natural urge to be curious—we see something that looks interesting, so we put aside what we are doing in order to investigate it. A person with a "rubber neck" is someone who slows down in order to view a wreck or something else that seems interesting while driving their car. The lack of attention put towards driving creates a dangerous situation for themselves and those around them. This type of behavior is not limited to drivers alone though. It can also describe the way we as Christians look back on, and follow through with, what we used to do before we accepted Christ.

We all struggle with having "spiritual rubber necks", but such behavior is dangerous! Luke 9: 62 says, "Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" As Christians, we cannot look back to the way we were before Christ. We must focus on, and move forward in, our walk with Christ.

When we get distracted by the things of this world, or we do things that we used to do before we came to Christ, we take our eyes off of God and our dedication to Him suffers. God wants total dedication, not a half-hearted dedication where we pick what we like about Him and do away with what we don't.

Are you dedicated to God, or do you slip back into the habits you had as a non-believer? Because God demands total dedication, you must train yourself to ignore the temporary things of this world. Don't be discouraged though, rather submit yourself to God and trust in His power. Harden your rubber neck so that you do not look back at your old ways and maximize your dedication to God by reading and applying His word. Doing so will strengthen your relationship with Him, and you will find that God will bless you in ways previously thought to be unimaginable.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Trust Rust

No matter what type of relationship you are in, trust is a big deal. Whether you are in a relationship with friends, a significant other, or you are married, trust has a big impact on how smooth these relationships will go. The sad part is, we live in a world that is filled with lies and it becomes hard sometimes to accept someone's word.

I've been in a couple of situations where I've told someone that I would do something, but they told me that they wanted me to promise, or swear (and sometimes even pinky-promise) that I would do it. I become aggravated when someone doesn't accept my "Yes" as being an honest answer. But, because the world has tricked so many of us into buying its lies, it has become harder and harder to trust others, and to accept someone's word without them adding a "promise" onto it. The only reason why vows are needed is because of the distrust that this world has spread.

Jesus shows us the importance of telling the truth in Matthew 5:33-37 when He says, "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

When we lie to someone, or tell them half-truths (like white lies), our trust gains rust that weakens its structure. The more we lie, the weaker the trust others put in us becomes and the harder it becomes to regain their trust again. If we want to be trustworthy, we must display the attributes of a trustworthy person. When we tell someone that we are going to do something, we should do it!

The coin has two sides though! If you say you trust someone, then you trust them completely, right? Can one really trust just a little? No! Trust is a 100% deal! Having only half-trust is as good as no trust! Plus, worrying about someone's trustworthy ness will decrease the amount of trust you have in them!

As you go throughout your day, remind yourself that God is a trustworthy God, and because we are made in His image, we too should do our best to remain trustworthy. We must remember that trust is gained slowly, but lost quickly. We have to constantly make sure that lies or half-truths don't allow our trust to gain rust that will weaken other's faith in us.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

In Dependence

Dependence... we all begin our life depending on our parents to nurture us and to care for us until we can do so ourselves. At a young age they feed us, bathe us, and shadow us so that we are safe. But the older we get, the closer we get to a point where we don't want our parents to help us. Maybe it's the fact that we want to do things ourselves, or maybe we just want to make our own decisions. Either way, a lot of us strive to become more independent.

The same can be said about us as Christians; we all come to a point in our walk with Christ where we want to be able to control the situations that we are in—we want to be in charge. defines independence as being "free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others." Inversely, it defines dependence as, "the state of being determined, influenced, or controlled by something else".

A lot of us find ourselves in tight situations in our walk with Christ when we consciously or unconsciously try to become independent of God (we want to be free from God's control). While God has given us this right to choose between our dependence of Him or of ourselves and the world, experience will show that the more we depend on ourselves, the more we will fail. But, if we strive to be in dependence of God, we will find that the situations we go through will fit together better and more perfectly because of God's perfect timing and planning for everything.

Not only is it easy to depend on ourselves, it is easy to put dependence on worldly things. For example, when one becomes dependent of alcohol, drugs, immoral sex, pornography, etc., they are influenced and controlled by what they are dependent of. When we depend on ourselves, or worldly things, we are setting ourselves up to drown in the "deep end".

I've also noticed that the more I depend on someone to help me through a situation, the more I depend on them to help me through the next one. If I were to depend on myself or the things of this world, I would drown amongst these dependencies in the "deep end". When you are smothered by worldly things, it is hard to gasp for air and you will find that it's also much harder to stay above "water". These dependencies will not satisfy the needs that we have, in fact, they will escalate our dependence of them and make the transition to depending on God much harder.

Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. " It is hard to depend on God because of the fact that we selfishly want control, but what makes it even harder is the fact that we can't see Him. But, the more we depend on God, the more we will see His grace, mercy and control over everything. It will become easier and easier to depend on Him the more we trust in His awesome power.

When you find yourself in a situation where you feel the urge to take control and be independent of God, step aside and ask God to help you let go of the reins and allow Him to take over. You will find that when you are in dependence of God, He will take you from the "deep end" and help you depend on Him even more. Keep your eyes on Him, for He is the only one who you can truly depend on.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Share The Burden

As Christians, we have a lot of responsibilities. We must witness to others, show God's love to others, and keep other Christians accountable. Helping someone else is a hard thing to do—it takes effort; but the Bible tells us that we are to help our fellow Christians with the struggles they face.

Galatians 6:1-10 is a section of a letter that Paul wrote to the churches in southern Galatia in order to call them to faith and freedom in Christ. In verses 1-3, Paul tells us just exactly how to help other Christians:

Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody.
This verse tells us that we, who are godly (or spiritual), should help fellow Christians who have been overcome by sin. Notice though, the passage does not say that we should smite them and make them feel bad for what they have done; rather, it tells us to do it "gently and humbly". When it says to remain humble, that means we shouldn't act as if we have never sinned, therefore making them feel bad. We all sin, we mustn't make others feel like we are better than them when we try to help them. After all, it is much easier to deal with and listen to a humble person.

This passage also warns us that we should be careful to not fall into the same temptation as those who we are helping. When helping another Christian with a sin they stumble with, don't go to where they are sinning unless you are certain that you will not fall to the temptation. Instead, meet this person in a neutral place where you can counsel them and not have to worry about being tempted.

For those of you who feel that you are too important to help someone, read verse three again. It says that those who think they are too important are fooling themselves! We are not that important! In John 13:1-17, Jesus, God in the flesh, got on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples. Jesus is so much more important than we are, yet He was willing to serve! John 13:15 specifically tells us that Jesus is the ultimate example!

Throughout your day, look for ways to help others. One of the best ways to grow in your walk with Christ is to help others grow in their walk with Christ. Once we get over the fact that helping others takes effort and time, we will find that the blessings that come from helping others are so much greater than the extra effort it takes. Soon, if we as Christians help each other more and more, it will be easier for all of us to give sin the one-two-punch. Remember, "Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit" (Galatians 6:8).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Time To Lose Control

There are many days where I depend so much on my own strength to get me through my day that I end up failing miserably and I look back wondering what went wrong. When I look back on these days, I come to the realization that the reason why I failed was because I wanted to be in control. As humans, we all want to be in the driver's seat of our life—it is natural for us to want to make our own decisions and act upon them. While God has given us the right to choose what we do, what He tells us to do is always best.

John 3:30 says, "He must become greater; I must become less". This verse is a part of John the Baptist's reply to the argument of one of his disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of baptism. Their argument was that Jesus was baptizing people, just as John was, but more people were going to Him. John's response was a humble one and he acknowledged that he must become less while Jesus became greater.

This is true for all of us Christians; we all must come to the point where we stop our worldly ways and submit everything to God. There have been many times where I have caught myself trying to be in control. At these times, I either accept the fact that God should be in control, or I do everything myself. When I put God in control, I succeed much more than I do when I rely on my own strength.

Matthew 10:39 NLT says, "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it." When we cling to the ways of this world, we will lose the life that God wants for us, but when we give up our life and dedicate everything to Him, we will find it. Do you find yourself constantly stumbling over the same thing? Are there times when you don't feel like you can survive a situation?

We all need to constantly remind ourselves that we need to give everything over to God. When we are in a situation where we are being tempted, or we feel that we can't survive a situation, we must let go of the wheel and let God drive. By doing so, we will find that it is much easier to deal with the temptations of this world when we rely on the power of the one who is meant to be in control.