I am what I am…

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I was browsing at King James Bible Online looking for scriptures on gratitude, and came across the one above. It really spoke to me, and caused me to stop and really think about its meaning in my life.

Grace in common parlance means a gift, undeserved. A lot hinges on my remembering that every single thing I see, do, or experience is an unmerited gift. Every breath I take into my lungs is a gift from God. It is difficult for me to remember this, or at least keep it in the forefront of my mind. It is easier to forget my place, and what really matters in life. I can get so caught up in the moment, that I forget nearly everything else.

Many times I don’t remember that who I am, and what I am is a gift from God. I lament who I am, and the decisions I’ve made and am never really happy with who I am (most of the time). I am so thankful that I read this scripture today.

The conclusion of the scripture is so powerful. It speaks volumes to me about my place and having gratitude for God’s grace within me and permeating my life. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that God’s grace is with me in all my troubles and successes. I don’t have to feel alone when I lose my place and think I am fighting this in this life by myself.

I hope you too can find God’s grace in your life. I hope you can see that any situation you find yourself in is a gift from God. No matter how distasteful or painful, it is a gift with blessings, though they may not be as apparent as we’d like.

God bless you…

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What Lack I Yet?

March 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

I didn’t have my Bible with me today, and wanted to do some Bible study, so I went to the Bible Gateway website. I knew approximately where I was in my reading, so I tried to find it. I’d skimmed over a few verses closest to where I was last and my eyes fell upon a set of verses that I’d read on my last Bible study, but the words had a greater impression on me this time. I wanted to share it here, hoping that “vocalizing” my thoughts I might understand them better. First, here are the verses I mentioned:

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

There are so many parts to this, but I want to focus on only a couple. First the title of this post “What lack I yet?” This fellow speaking with Jesus thought he was a good person and kept the Mosaic Law; shouldn’t this be enough (works salvation)?

Jesus’ response is very well known and there is very little confusion as to what he meant. Jesus knew this man had a love in his heart for something other than God. This man loved the wealth and riches he had. Jesus told him that he would have to leave it all behind if he wanted to follow God with his whole heart.

The Bible may be vague, ambiguous, and open to interpretation on many topics, but money, wealth, riches…not so much. The Bible makes it clear on many occasions how we are to feel about the accumulation of wealth (1 Tim. 6:10, Luke 18:22, Luke 12:33, etc.).

I feel that this applies to my entire life, and why shouldn’t it? I took a long hard look at my life, and realized that I am living on a hamster wheel. I work all day, and at the end of the day, I am no further ahead than I was when I started. That is pitiful and ridiculous.

In fact, I’d say the way we all operate as a society is setup and engineered in such a way, that we are all shackled to a grid existence. We wake up in our little sub grid (neighborhood) and using electricity, water, and gas that are more grids. We drive along a grid to get to work, where we support and facilitate more sub grids being built, manufactured, developed, and maintained. We get home and watch a television that is connected to an invisible grid. We live our lives in a programmed manner with very little variance in thought, and absolutely no freedom whatsoever to explore our relationship with God.

We have so many obligations because of this rigid grid we’ve voluntarily put ourselves in. Every single one of these obligations demand time and thought that could be spent growing closer to God and one another. Instead we work harder in order to have so many distractions; it’s almost as if we don’t want to have more time to spend with God; or each other for that matter.

One of my last posts was about a symbolic divorce my wife and I are going through. We are divorcing ourselves from the shackles of money. We are raiding our 401K and selling our possessions. We recognize the need to tear these obstacles and distractions from our lives, and live a simpler existence.

The Bible was written in much simpler times. That doesn’t mean that its principles can’t apply today. What do you think Jesus would say about the cars we drive, or the houses we live in? I really think that Jesus was quite serious about his allegory regarding money.

If we could all divorce ourselves from the trinkets, and flashy gadgets that inundate our lives, we could rise up from our bended knee and stop being slaves to the synagogue of Satan. We would have a better understanding of ourselves and our fellow man. We would have more time to explore our relationship with God, and teach the following generations to live a simpler life closer to God.

Except ye be converted…

March 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

This morning in Bible study, I read the beginning of Matthew 18. It is a verse (or series of verses) that we all know, but struck a resonant chord within me.

Here is the passage:

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Source

These relatively few verses spoke to me in a very profound way. I couldn’t read past them, I just kept on reading them over and over. After reading them and meditating on them for a time, I ‘d like to express the conclusion(s) I came to and hopefully start a discussion on the topic(s) surrounding these verses.

In today’s world, Christianity is being attacked on all sides. Some who claim to be rationalists try to dissuade Christian thought using (il)logic. One prime example of this is the repeated trend in contemporary times to prove or disprove God’s existence. Many people fall prey and have their faith shaken due to the seeming foolproof nature of science.

I understand the verses to be quite literal. Think of it. Christianity, isn’t a difficult concept, nor are its tenets. Children don’t need lengthy dissertations that are cryptic and overly complex. We speak to children in simple terms, just as Jesus spoke to us while on earth. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible to speak in simple terms; so why are the roadblocks to God always so complex? They don’t have to be, nor should they be.

When Moses came down from the mountain, the impatient people were  worshiping a false idol. Today, we are waiting on tangible evidence, or fancy wordplay and succumb to worshiping the new golden idol: science. We need to be patient, develop the right soil, and like the mustard seed, our faith will grow strong…in time. Too many times, we try to plant the seeds in rocky soil, and the light of rationalism creeps in and withers our faith. We cannot allow this to happen! We need to first work to expose the rocks (and thorns too!), and remove them from our hearts; some will be easier than others. Only then, can the seeds hope to gain root and grow strong.

Satan did the same thing in Garden of Eden, he promised them they would be like god, with knowledge of good and evil. This is similar to science today. We are striving after knowledge, in a pursuit to disprove God’s existence, all the while thinking of ourselves as Gods ourselves.

One last point I’d like to make is that we don’t want to just be as children in matters of faith only. The word “converted” mentioned in verse 3 means “to turn, turn around” (source). This implies that we are to become as children, in all parts of our lives, not overly complicating matters. All matters are simple matters when God is involved.

God bless you!

Becoming the right soil…

March 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

Last night during bible study we were discussing with the children Jesus’ parable of the sower. This morning, while reflecting on the reading, I began to wonder about changing the soil. What does it take to change the type of soil in our hearts in order to better grow the seeds of truth?

Here is the parable:

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

I know what kind of soil is in my heart, and it makes me wish I could cultivate in my heart the soil that would cause the seeds of truth to flourish, but how?

I have an idea on how to do this that I would like to share with you. All but one of the types of soil mentioned in parable are able to bear fruit. If we had a field with rocky, thorny soil, we would have much work to do before we could reap a bountiful harvest. Likewise, in our hearts we will have much work to do to remove the thorns (influences of this world), and the stones (our own lack of trust in God, the callousness of our hearts, lack of compassion) before we can see a harvest of any measure.

Another point I’d like to make regarding this harvest that is mentioned, is that I’m guilty of expecting (ha, expecting!) a radical change in my heart instantly. Seeds like those mentioned in parable and seeds of a physical nature require time and attention if they are going to grow strong and produce worthy fruit. Likewise, I have to remember that with careful attention to the nurture of the soil and seeds I will over time develop a worthy and abundant harvest for Jesus Christ.

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