Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turn Your Eyes Upon

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

The end of the sermon got cut off so I'm posting the conclusion to what I was reading is here...

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."  So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18)

Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such suffering from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

   My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
      but don't be crushed by it either.
   It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
      the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Hebrews 12)

 God proves to be good to
the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.

 When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst. (Lamentations 3)

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

And the poem is here too...

When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man...
When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall praise...
Watch His methods;
Watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects...
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into frail shapes of clay that only God understands. How his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands...
How he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses...with every purpose fuses him;
By every art induces him to try His splendour out...
God knows what He's about!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wish You Were Here

As I’m typing this I’m 35,000 miles in the air on my way back to Brisbane, Australia after spending two amazing weeks in New Zealand. I did this trip by myself and I’m pretty sure people are going to want to know about it. The list of questions usually goes something like this:

What is New Zealand like?
What did you do there?
What was your favorite part?
What are the people like?
How was the food?

So in anticipation of these questions I’m doing my best to prepare because I’m a cheater. I’m trying to process this experience so when those questions are asked I can say something cool and exciting…cause that’s what people do after trips like this, right?

One thought towers above the rest. It’s the thought that seemed to accompany every great moment.

When I spent the day in a town located in an active volcano… it was there

When I saw the stars, like I had never seen them before… it was there

When I woke up at dawn and swam with dolphins in the south pacific… it was there

With every great moment came the desire to share it with someone I cared about. I’ve traveled a little, and one thing is undeniable…the people I’ve travelled with are always far more memorable than the destinations.

It has been true of my travels and even truer in my life. I’ve experienced failure, success, sorrow, and joy. Fortunately for me I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of people to do life with. People who have helped me navigate through life’s ups and downs making the journey meaningful, memorable, and significant.

That’s what relationships do… they bring meaning, memories, and significance. When asked "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Jesus commands us to focus our energy building our central relationship with God, because it brings meaning and significance to ALL of creation. He also commands us to focus our energy building our peripheral relationship with people, because they bring meaning and significance to our lives.

One answer, two parts, both dealing exclusively with relationships. Maybe Jesus was on to something.

If you can’t already tell by this post, I’m peoplesick, not homesick, peoplesick. I don’t know where you are, but as soon as you get a chance please tell the people that you have the privilege of doing life with that you love them dearly and you’re grateful for what they add to your journey. Also throw in a hug; people like hugs, even uptight people who don’t like to be touched enjoy a good hug deep down inside.

Eagerly awaiting my return,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blood On My Hands?

While I write these words there are people I know that don’t know Jesus and my choosing to write this instead of share the Gospel will result in one of two things. Either they will continue living a life that is Hell on earth, or they will die and go to Hell.

Later on this evening while I go watch Godspell people I know and love will continue living lives in such that is completely unaffected by the Gospel, and the radical love of Christ.

In a couple weeks when I walk across a stage to receive my degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College people I know and love will be battling with depression, drug addiction, sexual abuse, identity confusion, with absolutely no solution or answer to their issues.

While I enjoy light, they will continue living in darkness.
While I bask in God’s love, they will continue to search, and search, and search for true love.
While I experience God’s grace, they experience the wrath of a God who has let them chase their own desires.
While I sit in the library of my Christian college doing absolutely nothing to change the present circumstances or destiny of people deeply loved by God, people will read this and then move on with life.

A couple of months ago I heard a sermon on evangelism that convicted me to begin praying for ten unsaved friends/loved ones… just ten. So I went to my apartment, got my journal and began my list of ten people I would begin praying for, and eventually talking to about how Jesus has changed my life. I began writing my list of ten names… but got stuck at three names. So I started looking through Facebook friends… and I got to five names. I’ve been stuck at five names ever since. Every couple days or so I glace at the list, I think about those five names, but that’s it. I haven’t prayed for those people, I haven’t spoken to them, and really if I was to be really honest with myself – my actions have shown that I don’t really care. And I think that breaks God’s heart more than the fact that they don’t know Him.

Last night I saw Hillsong United in concert and as they sang “Mighty To Save” I began to think of those five names. I remembered that God is actually mighty to save those names on my list, but it requires me to step out of the boat and talk to them. All it takes is simply sharing what Jesus ha done in my life… that’s it.

I have come to the painful realization that, the hearts and souls of people matter.
They matter to God, and for the first time they matter to me as well.

I will make a difference.
I will not be ashamed of the Gospel.
I will not watch quietly while people I know and love pave their roads to Hell.

This may seem radical to some, but it is simply reality.

Reality is that WE are God’s “Plan A” – His only natural means of sharing the Gospel message with people. We are His “Plan A” and there is no “Plan B.”

Reality is that we are commanded by God to be witnesses (not apologists) of his love, and peace, and grace, and power, and freedom. If we aren’t witnesses than we’re disobedient.

Reality is that we don’t have forever. Satan’s grip on people’s lives and minds will tighten the longer we wait.

Reality is that one glorious day we will see Jesus face to face, and abide in God’s presence where there is fullness of joy forever while the people we love and care about…

Read this and go bear fruit.

(Thanks Tiff)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Sickness and In Health

My mom has a medical condition known as fibromyalgia, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, and a slight case of claustrophobia. All that to say sometimes I would imagine that it’s hard for my dad to love, but he makes it look so easy. And for that, he’s my hero.

For the longest time my mom has needed an MRI. Basically you get in this machine that scans and X-rays your body, at least that’s what it seems like to me. But for some reason my mom feels like she’s being put into a casket each time she gets an MRI and she freaks out. I’m not trying to make my mother out to be a loony fruit-basket, she literally freaks out. This has happened four times now, and every single time my dad simply calms her down, holds her close, tells the nurse to stop the procedure, and drives her home.

Because of my mom’s medical condition she has to go to the hospital frequently. Sometimes just for checkups but sometimes for emergencies. My dad has taken several days off from work just to take my mom to the hospital and take care of her when she gets home. He never complains. He never even regrets marrying her. If he has to get her dressed, that’s what he does. If he has to wake up in the middle of the night to give my mom medicine or put a heating patch on her arm or shoulder that’s what he does. If he has to brush her hair because she can’t lift her arms, that’s what he does.

I have an endless supply of stories to tell and things to say about my father. He is easily one of the funniest and bazaar people to ever walk planet earth, but I’ve decided to write about his love for my mom because honestly it inspires me. I hope I’m able to love my wife with the sacrificial, self-denying love that my dad has shown to my mother.

I wonder if when the preacher asked “In sickness and in health?”, at their wedding if my dad ever thought he would have to prove his words were true. He probably wasn’t thinking, I feel like most people don’t. They just want to get to the last “I do” so they can kiss. But at my wedding I’m going to mean it. And hopefully my dad will remind me to live it as well.

Thanks Dad
I acknowledge you and I really love you

Jesus In Their Eyes

Jesus in Their Eyes from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

Video made by Jesse Poole, thanks man.