Cardboard in the Wall

10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
What foundation are you building upon? God is clear that the only acceptable foundation for life is life in Jesus. As Paul said in I Corinthians 3, "Let each one take care how he builds upon it.". Has God started something in your life that was so full of His grace and power that you were firmly convicted that He would see it through till the end?

Beware of building on the foundation God laid with materials He has not ordered you to use. So often, we try to quickly build on the foundation of God using material that will only cause it to collapse once the trials and storms of life come. Sometimes, as the passage in I Corinthians suggests, our building is tested by God, and if we have hastily built upon God's foundation with selfish intent, impatience, or rebellion, God will lovingly correct us. He is active in destroying our building materials, but God is always seeking to replace them with His own materials of grace, love, and self-control. God wants us to succeed, however we usually define success on our terms instead of God's.

This sets us up for the inevitable and painful tearing down of our works, and a rebuilding according to the "master builder's" blueprint. The tearing down of our works is humbling, painful, and embarrassing, however when the Lord builds the house, as the Psalmist said, those who live in it can exist in full assurance that they are in the hand of the Lord.


Like an Ox

We had a great convocation speaker today, I'll have to look up what his name was haha, but he went through a really cool leadership principle. He mentioned the 4-faced creatures of Ezekiel 1 which have the face of an ox, man, lion, and eagle [weird, yes, and to be honest I never thought too much about the significance of each face.] He talked about how each one of the specific faces can be applied to how we should respond and serve as Christians.

The 4-faced creatures are, according to Matthew Henry's Commentary, angels. Which obviously are about the business of serving God. These four faces actually represent how the angels served God, which of course we can practice ourselves.

The first face was an ox, which is often likened to being a servant. This was obviously displayed in the life of Jesus when he was here on earth. Especially in washing the disciples feet in the garment of a 1st century slave, a fact that the disciples would certainly have picked up on. If Christ was a slave to all, how much more should we be active in seeking selfless, ox-inspired, service?


The Discipline of Discipline

I've recently finished up an assignment on spiritual disciplines. Long story short I had to pick 2 spiritual disciplines and practice them for 15 days. Wish I could say that I stuck it out for 15 days straight but, for what I did, I still learned alot.

I picked the discipline of silence, and the discipline of journaling. I seemed to get more out of the whole practice of silence than I did the journaling. Maybe it was just something that I was doing wrong, or the fact that now since we have computers, the idea of taking the time to record, by hand, the events of the day is just, at best, a little time consuming.

Regardless, I learned a lot practicing of these two disciplines. Adding routine silence to start the day seems to not only calm my worries before the day, but its also allowing God to speak. I discovered I like to talk way, way too much, even if its about "good things". Sometimes God just wants us to listen, and starting out in silence, focusing on who God is rather than what God needs to do for the day, well, all I can say is I've experienced a noticeable difference in my spiritual condition and relationship with God because of it.


Following who?

It's been awhile on here for me.. haven't really found myself with the time/energy/devotion to keep up with this thing, but, its not under a deadline or anything, which is fantastic.

I don't have long to write, but just wanted to make note of one particular thing that has been in my mind recently, and when I say recently, I mean about 2 weeks ago haha, I wrote some of this post and have recently returned to it...but the thoughts are still legit, but this has been on my heart, and is simply stated..."A life lived unto God is useless unless it is lived in obedience TO God"

Obvious? Yes. Easy to live, no.

In this age of Christian celebrities (authors, muscians, pastors) honestly we've lost a sense of awe in the reason. In God. We feed off of others relationships with our Father, not out of our own. Its a sort of weird, misconstrued, and vicarious Christianity we've created. Christianity is supposed to be vicarious, it's supposed to be Jesus living through us. Yet we come so close to worshipping great men and women who merely have a relationship with the same God we all serve. We live in the relationship God has with Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Beth Moore, Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis, or whoever you look up to. I'm not saying we shouldn't have spiritual heroes or that we cannot learn from their experiences, but what I am saying is that there comes a point where we must seek to relate with God and interact with God in such a way that it far surpasses our desire to BE like our heroes. Our Savior is intimate, He is personal, and asks of His followers an intimate and personal obedience.

Jesus says in John 15, "I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in Him bears much fruit." It is only through our Savior that we find fulfillment, life, and purpose. At the close of the book of John, Jesus is walking with His disciples after His resurrection. Jesus looks at Peter and tells Peter how he will die... after Peter learns how he himself will meet his own demise, Peter then looks at the Apostle John and asks Jesus, "What about John? How will he die?" Jesus' response reflects what we, as His followers, should emulate. Jesus says to Peter, "What is it to you, Peter, if John remains alive till I return? It doesn't matter to you, you follow me Peter."

Christ calls us to His vision of the world, and let me be careful to not let my relationship with my Creator become founded on any other rock except for Jesus Himself.


Living a like a loved fugitive..

When I think of the word "fugitive" usually the first thing that comes to mind is Harrison Ford (and all the raw manhood that comes with that). If you've seen his movie, called..surprise.."The Fugitive" then chances are you kind of get my drift. Harrison Ford's character is literally being chased for just about the entire movie because the authorities believe he murdered his wife (at least I think it was his wife, I haven't seen it in awhile.) But you get the picture. Harrison Ford is running from the police, and while he's doing so.. he's trying to prove his innocence. Its probably one of the most intense movies you can see. Its a non-stop chase scene.

I was talking with my brother earlier, and he mentioned to me the book he was reading called "Crazy Love", and in this book, the author describes how God is relentless towards us. And that completely took me aback. I mean, we know God is all-loving, He died for us, but describing someone as relentless? For whatever reason that strikes home for me. Relentless to me describes Harrison Ford, as well as the Police chasing him in the movie. Ford will stop at nothing to prove his innocence, he relentlessly searches for evidence to clear his name. While the law enforcement is always, relentlessly, on his tail.

How does the idea that God relentlessly pursues you change your everyday thinking? He definitely does. Its a pursuit of you that is greater than any manhunt, or human love story. The relentless love of our God toward us has nothing to do with punishment, because I think a lot of times we view our God as pursuing us as soon as we step out of line, and then after He whips us back into shape, He leaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. God relentlessly pursues us because it was He who designed us! He knows whats best for us, and when we deviate from that course, He puts us back on track with loving grace and mercy. I seem to have a problem calling it "loving grace and mercy", because to be honest, grace and mercy hurt sometimes. When I sin, its not always pretty what God must put me through in order to get it through my thick skull that sin is the destroyer of my soul! But, the Bible says, "those who God loves, He disciplines!" So you see, at the root of our relentlessly loving God is a motive of pure love.

God is patient and relentless toward us, here and now. Seeking us. Protecting us. Guiding us. Correcting us. There is no depth that you can fall into, no mountain that you can climb, no ocean you can swim that will effectively release you from God's pursuit of you. (check Romans 8, amazing.) No matter where you are in your walk with Him. Whether you're running like Jonah, or walking like Enoch, God is pursuing you! He's relentless. Stopping at nothing.

So picture yourself as a fugitive, a sinner. On the road, seeking your innocence, you're escape. But when we look behind us at the one in relentless pursuit, we surprisingly see not our accuser, Satan, but our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What is your response to this relentless love?

In other news...
1. I'm home on summer vacation
2. Chick-fil-a shift tomorrow
3. I played a wicked game of Egyptian Rat Screw tonight
4. Band of Brothers is excellent
5. I'm playing golf this weekend
6. Go Magic


Headed to the Super Bowl

I was laying in bed last night after reading in Luke. And I read in Luke where Jesus tells his disciples that if they truly want to follow Him, they must hate their brothers, sisters, mom, dad, and even their own self..and unless they do that, they cannot be His disciple. And laying there I thought how difficult this statement is to live out. I mean, seriously, this is a really challenging set of verses. Now for me, looking back 2000 years to when Jesus said this.. its still a strong statement. Jesus calling His own disciples to pick up their cross daily and follow Him. My High School Bible teacher said "it'd be like Jesus saying to you, pick up your electric chair, lethal injection, noose, or guillotine and follow me!" Can you imagine a king, queen, or president saying that to their country? Imagine then how the disciples reacted when He told them the cost of following Him.

What God convicted me of though is how I count my intentions (while they might be good ones) as actual devotion to Him. Think of it this way, each year around the first week of September, 32 NFL Football teams start out with one goal. Win the Super Bowl. They've trained, they've prepared as best they know how, but...the interesting thing is, only 1 team stands come February as the World Champion. When the other 31 teams sit down to do their evaluations of their seasons and decide what went wrong, I can guarantee you that not one coach says, "Well, we intended to win, so we didn't do a bad job! We wanted it, and its the thought that counts! Let's just go home now." Ha-ha, can you say fail? Teams that don't evaluate why they fell short of their goal need to retool, maybe re-strategize their offseason workouts, or focus on defense more? (Ahem, TB Bucs)

Seems a bit ridiculous right? Since when do good intentions count for anything? See, as a human, looking out at other humans, I label people by what I see them do. I see a man kill someone, I label him as a murderer. But that man may sit in the room with a detective and say "I never meant for anything bad to happen! I didn't mean to kill that person!". And ya know? That murderer probably feels less responsible because, after all, he didn't intend for it to happen. What I was really convicted of was the fact that I do this. I label other people by what they DO, and I label myself by what I INTEND to do.

Exampe: I see a lonely guy in a bookstore, I feel like I should go share the gospel with him (good intention!) but then I walk over to another section hoping he'll leave by the time I muster enough man-courage to go back there and say something. (Failure to fulfill a good intention) But the funny thing is, when the Holy Spirit confronts me about it, I come back with..."Ah God, ya know? I really meant to go over there and say something to him, but he left before I could." Then I walk away actually feeling like a devoted Christian because my intentions are good?! (Bleh.)

As Christians, we can't label ourselves by our intentions. We've become pro's at masking our fear, embaressment, laziness, and pride all under the good intentions blanket, and I can't believe that God would be impressed in simply having good intentions. What God really wants from us is devotion. After all, look at what He gave on the cross! Paul describes himself as a slave to Christ. As a Christian, essentially you're telling God that because of what He's done for you, the greatest response you can have to the cross is to give your entire being to Him, to His service. We've got to fulfill the good intentions placed in us by the Holy Spirit! Intending on going to church isn't equal with actually going there. Intending on witnessing isn't witnessing. Planning on tithing isn't actually tithing. God calls us to die to self daily, He desires action. Jesus says, "If you love me, you'll keep my commandments!" Intending on keeping them isn't the same thing. The Apostle John says the following in I John...
'' Little children, we must stop expressing love merely by our words and manner of speech; we must love also in action and in truth.''
Good intentions never win a Super Bowl.


Jesus' Flashback

One of my favorite storytelling devices is a flashback. If you're a fan of LOST you can appreciate this even more. If you don't know what LOST is already, its a TV show that's basically about survivors of a plane crash on a remote island. As the survivors gradually get to know each other better, it becomes very apparent that each character is hiding a past. A past that greatly affects the choices they make in the present. The producers of LOST used flashbacks to show the survivor's lives before the crash and let the viewer see why a character made a particular choice on the island. Sometimes, it was out of hate, sometimes love, fear, or regret. Maybe you've experienced a flashback of your own. Jesus certainly did.

One of my favorite portions of Scripture is Jesus' own flashback, and it's found in Luke 10:17-20. To set the stage, Jesus had sent out 72 disciples to go minister to the Jews, to heal, and preach the gospel. They return, to put it bluntly, freaking out because of the authority they had over the demons and evil spirits in the villages.
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" 18And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Ah! There it is! Jesus' own flashback, did you catch it? Imagine this. The returning servants run up to Jesus, "Lord! Even the demons listen and obey us when we speak to them in your name!" Jesus looks up at them and His all-knowing mind flashes back to a time before these 72 servants ever existed, before the earth was fully formed, before Christ took on human form, and Jesus reveals to those standing before Him, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Wow. Can you imagine the mental image that went through Jesus' mind at the moment? There He is, on His throne where He rightly belongs, and in an instant, the most sinful being in creation is thrown from the presence of God. A powerful flashback I think. Jesus goes on to tell His 72 servants that they should not necessarily rejoice that they have the authority to deal with evil spirits, but rather that their names are written in Heaven.

Jesus here is giving us a very real, and very powerful visual of God and how He deals with sin. Think about this, that the very instant sin (Satan) tried to enter into God's presence it was literally thrown away, like lightning, down to the earth. I mean, have you ever seen lightning strike? It is one of the most powerful natural processes, and is essentially the human equivalent for traveling as fast as possible. Ever heard someone say, 'Wow, he's as fast as lightning!' ? Now imagine the ferociousness, the violence, the power, and the sheer speed of lightning. That's how fast sin travels AWAY from God, its like lightning, which in human terms, is one of the fastest things we can comprehend. That's how fast we would be thrown away from God if we tried to enter into His glory by ourselves.

Jesus tells His disciples not to marvel and rejoice in the authority they have over demons because any authority we have, its all given to us by Jesus. We do nothing. This is why Jesus tells his disciples to rejoice that their names are written in heaven, and to rejoice in their salvation. Because we as humans don't even deserve THAT. God's gift of salvation is the most amazing work in all of eternity. How can we, being so perverted, distorted, and utterly evil, ever maintain a constant relationship with God? The Apostle John tells us that if we say we have no sin, we are lying to ourselves, and that the truth of God isn't in us. One of my biggest problems is not taking sin seriously. Maybe we need to revamp our view of how serious our sin is to God. After all, just look at what happens when sin enters His presence. Even as Christians, we still have sin, but the difference when we accept God's work on the cross is that now God's constant and continual Grace and Mercy wash us clean 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until we are finally purged of sin when Jesus returns. Christ's blood from the cross not only protects us from being cast away like lightning, but allows us into the very presence of God.

"I cry to you O LORD; I say 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'"

- Psalm 142:5