Saturday, August 30, 2008

From Sponges To Mirrors

Gathering together at church with fellow believers to worship the Lord is an amazing thing. To be able to feel the comfort of God in a group setting produces an atmosphere of hope, belonging and support that are essential to every Christ-follower's walk. Going to church and meeting together with fellow believers is indeed what we are called to do (Hebrews 10:25), but, what happens when the only thing that separates us from the world is that we make an effort to show up at some place once a week to worship and learn about the Lord?

While knowing what God wants in our lives by studying the Bible, praying, and meeting with fellow believers is important, a healthy walk with Christ is not defined by having vast knowledge about Him - it is defined by seeking God's will in our lives and then actually applying what we've learned. We are not called by Christ to be sponges alone (that is to learn, learn and then learn some more), we are called to be mirrors - to actually do what we've been taught!

In John 13, we see a great example of a time where Jesus is giving the disciples an opportunity to soak in what He is teaching (v. 15) and then calling them to mirror Him. We read of Jesus, the Son of God, washing the feet of His disciples showing them that "slaves are not greater than their master" (v. 16). In other words, if Jesus, the Savior of the world, will stoop down and wash the feet of mere mortals, there is no one who should not be willing to stoop down and help others as well, regardless of who they are. After Jesus' instruction to His disciples, He seals the deal by telling them to mirror what He has taught them, "Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them" (v. 17, emphasis mine).

It is true that knowledge about God's word is important in order for us to be mirrors of Christ and, yes, we all must be sponges sometimes in order to become cleaner mirrors, but, if all we do is soak in information in order to feed our brains and don't actually apply what we learn then we are way off from where Christ wants us.

Do you put more emphasis on obtaining knowledge rather than actually applying what you know? If you are a new believer, it is obvious that you won't have as much knowledge of how God wants you to live as a veteran believer would. That is ok! Read your Bible, go to church and seek out the counsel of fellow-believers but do not let the soaking in of knowledge be what defines you as a Christ-follower! Regardless of where you are in your walk with Christ, make every effort you can to actually apply what you know! It will be then that you will be Continuously Overwhelmed with Blessings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Time Keeps On Ticking

When I was younger and in school, I was amazed at how slowly the school year would go and how fast the summer would pass. Even though I perceived time differently in each instance, time remained constant and I could not recover the time that had ticked by. Although at the end of each summer I had wished that I could recover the time that had flown by, looking back I am glad I was given the opportunity to get an education and to use my time in a way that would help my future.

The same is true for our lives as Christ-followers; God has given us a certain amount of time here on Earth and we are responsible for using it wisely. The amazing thing to note here, though, is that while using our time wisely in school helps our lives and future here on Earth, the benefits of using our time wisely for Christ can make a huge impact not only on our lives and our future but its possible they can influence the lives and eternities of others.

As Christ-followers we have been given the Great Commission by Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) and it is our responsibility to use our time wisely to accomplish it! In Psalm 39:4, King David says, "Lord, remind me how brief my time on Earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is." When I read this Psalm I have mixed emotions. Part of me screams, "Lord! Come soon! I'm so tired of the trials of this world!" The other proclaims, "Man! I've got so many things here that I love and enjoy! I wish my life was longer!" Regardless of how we feel about our time here on Earth, the reality of how fleeting our lives are remains unchanged.

Do you feel you use your time wisely for Christ? It's not wrong to take time to relax, play games, and recoup but using our time wisely and in a way that will impact lives for Christ is very important, especially since the time we are given is limited. I'm not sure about you, but at the end of my life, I don't want to wish that I could recover the time that had passed. Instead, I would rather look back and be glad I was given time to be used by Christ and to have an impact for Him

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Transformed By An Open Heart

I recently sat down at a local coffee shop to read my Bible but instead ended up in conversation with two married folks about Christianity. The conversation began lightly with the admiration and awe that we felt in regard to Christ because of God’s answer to a prayer that we had all been praying about. We then moved on to multiple topics about religion, God’s place in the world, the belief that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, and how many paths there are to Heaven. The wife was very attentive during our discussion but the husband, whether it was because he was hard of hearing (I believe he was in his late 60’s) or because of stubbornness, would barely let me speak.

Before I continue my story, let me first mention that I understand that we have to be very careful in our discussions to not segregate people to the point that they do not see and understand what is most important: Christ’s love. Also, I recognize that petty arguments about Christianity with believers who are new or weak in their faith--arguments about things that are morally gray--many times do not end the way either party wants and are also spoken against in scripture (Romans 14:1). That being said, when the Bible speaks of something in a black and white manner--in a way that leaves no question about the author’s original meaning--we should be full and ready to correct and rebuke those who say otherwise in the most gentle, patient and humble way possible (2 Timothy 4:2).

Realizing that the husband was my elder, I respectfully and gladly held my tongue when my conscience allowed; however, once the words he chose to speak contradicted what the Bible says, my conscience could no longer allow me to be silent. Despite his claim that he believed the Bible is God’s inerrant word, he admitted that he believed that there are multiple ways to Heaven. When I asked him how that could be since Jesus specifically said in John 14:6 that He is the only way, he became very defensive and told me that I needed to have an open mind about things.

It has become very apparent to me that, in the last couple of decades, the United States (at least) has not become anti-religion but anti-Christianity. There has been a major trend towards having an open mind to everything and a closed heart to Christ. The Bible, however, calls us to not only open our minds but to open our hearts!

God does not ask us to leave our minds at the door. In fact, God is not above divinely providing intellect and rationalization to those who need it (Luke 24:45), but a heart that is open to God always produces a much more open and complete mind than a closed one. Romans 12:2 shows us that, when we are obedient to Christ and do not conform to the patterns of this world, He will transform us into a new person and change our minds to be more in line with His perfect will for our lives!

Do you belong to the “Open Minds, Closed Hearts” group like this old man does? Do you sometimes struggle with allowing God to transform you into a new person by transforming the way you think? Although this world says that freedom and unity are produced from an open mind to everything and everyone, an open mind is never truly free or open unless it has been transformed by an open heart to Christ. Throughout your day, make a conscious effort to do what you know God wants you to do and open your heart to Him. If you do so, He will open your mind in ways you could never imagine.