Friday, January 22, 2010

If It's Christ We Believe in We Shouldn't be Confused with the Heathens

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come," 2 Corinthians 5:17.

One of the great gifts of a life changed by Christ is the realization that our works are not what save us. A great burden is lifted when we are made aware of the fact that because we have Christ's righteousness on our record and we no longer have to try and make our "good acts" outweigh the bad. But one of the mistakes we often make when coming to this realization is that we think, "Well hey, if my works aren't what save me then I can do whatever I want!" This, of course, is a lie. We take grace and forgiveness for granted and live lives just as we did before. Paul anticipated this argument in Romans after he explained that we live under grace. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6: 1-2. Now, as new creatures in Christ, we must strive to glorify God in the way we live, not because we fear losing our salvation, or we think that our good works will somehow make Him love us more, but because we want to honor Him. Thankfully, we are not left to change on our own. Ephesians says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

It's no wonder the world often perceives us as hypocrites. Sometimes we take advantage of the grace of God, and live as if we have not been saved from the punishment we deserve. May we strive to glorify God in our lives, and to help the kingdom come in the world we live in. God has allowed us to be His tools in the world, now let's act like it. But let us not forget where we came from, that before the grace of Christ we were deserving of hell. Our holy lives should be tempered with the humility that comes from how little we deserve the grace we've been granted.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Powerless God I Could Not Praise

"This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything which touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of god. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls, us, we must receive as the will of god. If it befalls us through man's negligence or ill-will or anger, still it is, even the least circumstance, to us the will of god. For if the least thing could happen to us without God's permissions, it would be something out of God's control. God's providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love." Mary Wilder Tileston

A friend of our family's recently experienced tragedy. One of the young men at her church died in a car accident. In a conversation with my mother, she rationed that "God did not want it to happen." This made my stomach turn. In painful times when we cannot understand and when our emotions run high we can see absolutely no good whatever in the situation. Our human minds, small and limited, grasp only what we see and therefore we say that if God is good then He mustn't have had anything to do with this great loss. But what we do not realize, what we have difficulty accepting, is that God is both good and sovereign. For the non-church rats in the crowd, sovereign means in control. He is the author of our lives. Romans 8:28 says "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." This is a great comfort, for if God was just good and not sovereign, then life is nothing but chaos. The deaths and hurts and sorrows and losses would all be meaningless, with no benefit in the end. If God is good and not sovereign then I have no protection whatsoever. If God is only good and not sovereign then I have absolutely no guarantee in my salvation. Personally, the thought of a good God with no control is terrifying to me. I would rather rest in the fact that He knows the number of my days, that He has my good in mind. A powerless God I could not praise.

Ephesians 2:8-9, Reflections on Grace

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no man can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Last night I began to watch Prison Break. All summer the guys at the office talked about it nearly every day, and finally, after months of saying I was going to get into it so I would know what on earth they were talking about, I've begun the first season. Aside from the fact that their voices were not matching with their mouths (I am watching it on the internet, go figure) I think I'm going to enjoy it. But something struck me while I was watching it that lead to a conviction this morning. One of the characters in prison (I don't remember his name) wrote a letter to his girlfriend asking her to marry him, he then goes on to make a comment about them meeting in a conjugal trailer. My first reaction was a massive eye roll. How romantic, I thought, you're already sleeping together so what's the point? (Please note the sarcasm) This is my typical reaction when I watch TV shows or movies where characters are sleeping together outside the bounds of marriage, I get frustrated and almost always roll my eyes. However, this morning, as I was considering my reaction, I realized something very important, the people on these shows, the writers, the directors etc. are most likely not Christians. Point being? If these people are not followers of Christ, then why on earth should I expect them to act as such? When you think about it, my reaction is rather ridiculous. I'm wanting to cure the symptoms (fornication in this instance) and yet completely ignoring the disease. How foolish would it be to give a patient with a brain tumor drugs to deal with the pain but refuse to operate? We simply would not do that. What I should be doing is praying for those around me, and realize that I, myself, am under grace as Ephesians 2 says. Moreover, I must be bold in sharing the gospel to those around me rather than wanting them to simply change their ways. As Romans 10: 14 says "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" God has graciously allowed us to be His tools in the world, may we seek to advance His kingdom daily.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1 Corinthians 11:3, Reflections on "Equality"

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." 1 Corinthians 11: 3

It truly saddens me when I hear people speak of the bible as being in some way sexist. The modern woman rebells vehemently against the idea of being created second, of being called to submit to her husband, and yet what she does not realize is how much the bible truly cherishes the female sex. Not being married, it is rather easy for me to promote the idea of wifely submission, after all, I don't have a husband I have to submit to at the moment, but I pray daily that if and when I do get married, God will grant me the strength to do so. Scripture provides extensively for women, especially during a time period where they were viewed as possessions rather than individuals, but one of the most incredible passages of scripture to me is 1 Corinthians 11.

At first glance, most modern women (who I have perhaps not so lovingly dubbed feminazis) recoil from the phrase "the head of the woman is man", and I can, in a sense, understand their reaction. It sounds as if Paul is saying women are second class citizens, that we do not share in the kingdom the same way as men, even that we are not as valuable. But if we remember to take scripture in context, if we remember to consider all the verses, we might remember what Paul said in Galatians 3:28, that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Clearly, Paul had a very high view of both men and women. Therefore, we must come to an alternative conclusion.

This summer I taught a Junior High bible study that consisted of both boys and girls. The book we studied was 1 Peter and, not surprising, we came across the section that spoke about wives submitting to their husbands. My personal convictions aside, I knew I would need to make this accessible not only to Junior highers (who have the attention span of a teaspoon for the most part) but also to the post modern mind. However, the most important lesson I wanted to teach the was that the bible is the source of truth. I began searching through scripture to find verses that would corroborate the passage in Peter. It was then that the Lord lead me (with the help of my trusty commentary) to 1 Corinthians 11:3.

What struck me about this verse, and what I tried to make clear to the kids I was teaching, was the very end of the verse, "and the head of Christ is God." Immediately I realized the implication. Christ is God, He is equal to God (Philippians 2:6-11), and yet He submits to the Father. If that is the case, then what Paul is saying is not that women are inferior to men, or that they share any less in the kingdom. Rather, Paul is describing the roles we were created to take. Christ takes the role of the Son in the Trinity and therefore submits to God the Father, and if He can do that without losing any of His worth or value, then why can't we as women accept the idea of submitting to our current or potential husbands? The clear answer is sin, our flesh refuses to do what it was created to do (Romans 7:14-21). Thankfully, God does not leave us here, rather, He changes us, gives us a new heart (2 Corinthians 5:17), and then works with us to become more holy daily (Ephesians 2:10).

May God continue to work in our hearts and advance His kingdom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Senior High Girls Retreat

Friday night I took the senior high girls out to my parents house in Fulshear for fun, food, and fellowship (like the alliteration?). Aside from having to drive the van through traffic at 6:15 PM through the rain, everything went really well! My parents even invited them back for a pool party when we get one put in!

Shannon, Marie, and Anna washing dishes after breakfast.

Marie and Anna... still washing.
Meg, enjoying an apple.
Shannon, Marie, Victoria and Helen after a long night of little sleep.
Alison eating a piece of Marie's birthday cake.
Victoria and Meg... Meg got no sleep that night.
Abigail, Hannah, and Shannon. I believe this was after dinner Friday night.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Guards Mock Jesus, Reflections on Luke 22: 63-65

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating Him. They blindfolded Him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" And they said many other insulting things to Him. Luke 22: 63-65

I often look at this passage with judgement on the guards, my sense of justice outraged by their treatment of Him, not merely an innocent man but the God of the Universe. But while this outraged sense of justice is valid, my own self-righteous judgement is not. Like the guards, I mock and insult Jesus with my sin daily, proving how apathetic I am toward His holiness that demands perfection. The treatment the guards showed Christ fulfilled prophesy, but was without excuse. May I see more clearly my sin and die to it daily. May I be enabled to look on sin and see it as such and yet not act as a pharisee and perceive myself as above it. May God be glorified in me.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Prayer List

Rather than writing out a bunch of resolutions that I will be sure to break within about five minutes, I have decided to make a New Year's Prayer List. This way, it will help me develop the mindset of sanctification; working with the Holy Spirit to become the woman God wants me to be. So, here is my list thus far. I began making it last night around 2 am, so it might be incomplete.

  • Spiritual - my prayer is that God will help me memorize more scripture, to pray more consistently, to be more patient, to trust God when I am afraid, and to be more humble and forgiving. (clearly there is much more than this, but it would take far too long to write it all down)
  • Physical - To be more healthy. God gave me one body and I need to take care of it in a way that is honoring to Him.
  • Emotional - To base my emotions on what I know to be true in scripture and of God rather than my perceptions.
  • Financial - To be wise and giving with the money God has blessed me with.
  • Career - To seek God's will for my future.
I can't do anything of these things on my own, but I know that at the very least praying for God to help me with these things will draw me closer to Him and might bring me closer to where He wants me to be. Anybody else making resolutions or prayer lists?