Saturday
Sep192009

these are a few of my favorite things: quotes

here's some inspiration for the day:

"But how much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you!  How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference!  You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you.  You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers."

G.K. Chesterton

"Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal."

Mother Teresa

Monday
Aug242009

good.

Today I received my "silver status" frequent flyer miles card. Although I still have two tiers to achieve--gold and platinum are next--it was still a significant moment in my life. I suppose this is because I often recall my childhood years, and how unlikely it seemed (at the time) that I would ever have a job in which I traveled to foreign countries. It was a big deal when I made it through my first sleepover in 7th grade without my parents picking me up at night because I was homesick and crying on the phone with them. But at this present state in life, I find myself living 5 hours away from my family with 2 trips to Africa in under 6 months under my belt...and I can't imagine anything different.

However, much of my travel time is spent in a car rather than a plane...sometimes for 3, 4, or even 8 hours at a time on a road trip to some domestic destination. I've become intrigued with unique road trip games and other random entertainments. More than a simple license plate or billboard alphabet game (though they can be enjoyable as well), I've had help finding other ways to fill my time. Trent and I came up with a version of "radio bingo", where we fill a paper grid with frequently played songs and search for them until one of us find 5 in-a-row. He also introduced me to RadioLab, a show on NPR that explores topics such as "time" or "laughter" in an unusual but very intriguing way. I haven't been able to stop talking about it (or the things I've learned--did you know that rats laugh when they are tickled?!?!) since I first listened to it. 

I also keep a box of "loaded questions" in my car for any commute, no matter how long or short. As I was driving to dinner tonight for Julie's birthday celebration (for those who live in Louisville, you MUST go to Napa River Grill if you are looking for an upscale restaurant with delicious food!), she got the box out and began asking Devin and I questions. She'd skip over the "lame" ones, and we'd laugh about what candy we'd most like to be or what celebrity we'd most likely stalk. But then we came to one slightly more serious in nature:

"What one word would you use to describe God?"

The question was immediately dismissed as being "too big to answer." Of course, as a lover of words, answers flooded through my head. Holy, powerful, just, Jehovah-Jireh, all-knowing, gracious...the list could go on and on.

But as I sit on my porch, surrounded by the dark stillness of this summer's night and the clear sky that displays God's glory from thousands of miles away, only one word resonates in my mind.

Good.

God is good. 

His goodness is worthy to be praised.

It's such a simple word, not as eloquent as sovereign, benevolent, infinite, or faithful. Yet I truly believe that the goodness of God is not always easy for us to grasp or truly believe. It tells so much of His nature, His love; that he is FOR us, not against us.

What one word is most significant to you, at this moment of life, in describing the nature of God? 

Monday
Feb162009

this is how we know that He lives in us

1 John 3:23-24
…this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

It’s been one of my personal goals to memorize a book of the Bible, and this year, I hope to accomplish this. I’ve chose 1 John, but before I start memorizing, I’ve been waking up every morning reading through the entire book and really studying what John has to say about the relationship between loving God and loving others.
 
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel as though I’m doing a good job at living the “Christian” life…and yet I still end my days feeling very unfulfilled with my efforts. There seems to still be something missing even though I feel as though I’m doing everything required of me.
 
But after reading the verse above, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m missing is the fullness of life intended for us when we live by the Spirit. Although living as a “Christian” and living by the “Spirit” should be one in the same, I would be lying if I said this was always reflected in my life.
 
If the Spirit were taken away from me, would I even notice? It’s a haunting question, but John says that this is how we know that He lives in us. It’s through obedience and love that we go beyond living the stereotypical (and boring, if we’re honest) “Christian” life.
 
Most Christians would probably claim to love God well. After all, if you believe who he says He is in Scripture, he’s not that difficult to love…right? But we need to be reminded that our love for God and love for people cannot be separated. And let’s face it…people are a lot harder to love.
 
We want our hearts to be in the right place to love God and love others, but the first thing out of our mouths is sarcasm or mocking, gossip or complaining…and it becomes very apparent that our hearts are so far from loving others. It’s about so much more than eliminating a “bad habit”. It’s about living beyond the bare minimum of what it takes to get by, and allowing God to transform our speech, our actions...and our love.

Saturday
Jan102009

a great mystery

A few days ago, in my New Year's Resolution post, I mentioned the great mystery of Emmanuel, God WITH us. As if this isn't enough to fill us with a great awe, 1 John reveals an even greater wonder--God IN us. And in these chapters, John describes a love that is made complete through obedience.

I was challenged this week to think about how often I describe my actions with words that convey an emotional conviction; an "I feel like God is calling me to [this]" type of statement. While I don't question the legitimacy of those moments, I think about how inconsistent and bias my feelings are to my own will.

Perhaps it would be more beneficial to speak of the times where I was committing myself to a certain action out of simple obedience to the Word of God. 

The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Sunday
Dec282008

feeling the weight of it all--a new year's resolution

Questions are haunting. They beg answers that are not always easy, they expose a reality that is not always comfortable, and they are usually asked in times of uncertainty. I spent the majority of my high school and college years as an aspiring journalist, learning how to become a good "question asker". I suppose my personality always lent itself towards this field, as I have often been a person with a lot to say on many a subject, but rarely the discipline to direct the questions back to my own life. 

And that's where the importance of accountability comes in. Even the most self-aware people lack the ability to confront themselves with their own questions, thereby often revealing inconsistencies about how one lives compared to what one says. Writing in a public medium, such as a blog, is one (rather impersonal...but still legitimate when used appropriately) way to hold myself to the standards I challenge others with.

But this post isn't on the importance of writing or blogging or even accountability. Lately, I have been in what can only be described as a state of mourning for the world around me. Sure, it's Christmastime, so there's lots of joyful things to be thankful for! But there is something deep within my soul that is not at rest. I suppose that's what the whole chapter of Romans 8 is about. When you really believe everything that it says in there--that we who are in Christ already have victory over death, the Spirit of God lives in us--those words have power. Despite any hardships I may have faced (or will come in the future), I have no reason to doubt that God is FOR me. Amazing.

But who is proclaiming these words of God as truth to those who need it? Who is spending time meditating in the presence of God to hear His voice? And who is seeking to know the Word of God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength?

Where is the voice of God in our culture?

I remember the first sermon I ever heard Bill Hybels preach at Willowcreek in 2000. He talked about how to discern the voice of God, and gave 3 specific ways to hear His truth. The first was through the Bible, God's Word. The second, through daily quiet time spent in prayer and listening. And the third, through wise and godly counsel from people who sought God through His Word and prayer. The "voice of God" can be a rather mysterious concept, so as a young Christian, this made sense to me. 

But it's occurred to me that Christians aren't doing this in our culture. This blog by Pastor Mark Driscoll speaks of the addiction to noise that all of us living in this technology driven age suffer from. It'd be rare to find someone that disagrees. And as a good friend pointed out last weekend, if Christians were to sit in a circle as though they were in an "AA" meeting, how many of them would begin with the statement, "Hi, my name is ____. I've been a Christian for 10+ years, but I still struggle with reading my Bible every day."

During Christmastime, we are reminded that God is Emmanuel--that He has been, and will always be with us. And this truth separates us from most other worldviews--that God would come in human form to live among us, and then invite us into relationship with Him. Nothing is more beautiful. 

But today, as I sit alone in the stillness of a moment with God, I know He is there; yet I have trouble hearing his voice. And as I look at the world around me, I see a place that has made it perfectly clear that there is no room for the truth of God, no time to seek His Word, and no purpose in silence. My mourning comes from a sense of urgency to wake up to this harsh reality.

My responsibility to declare the Word of God has never been greater. To do this, I must commit to seeking the Lord--not only in community and fellowship, but in silence and in solitude--by humbly asking to be given truth and courage in the midst of a culture that is often void of the voice of God. 

To start the new year out right, I've challenged myself to spend 4 hours (which would be half of my work day if it wasn't a holiday) on New Year's Day in solitude. From that point, I am going to ask the Lord what He would have me commit to Him on a weekly basis as a true Sabbath, departing from the influence of the world for the purpose of hearing from my God. 

To my readers, I challenge you to spend AT LEAST one hour in silence on January 1st. And as always, if you decide to take my challenge, I'd love to hear about it. We are not to despair over our fallen world, but rather to take hope in the future glory. Be encouraged by seeking the Lord together and celebrating the blessing of Emmanuel, God with us.

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