Sunday, December 23, 2012

Glory in a broken world

It doesn't take long... You watch the news, read it online, on paper, heck, on twitter... If you spend much time at all ingesting the events going on in our country, it doesn't take long to understand and realize that this is such a broken world. The problems facing the next generation are not necessarily new problems, undue violence against our fellow man, complete lack of morality, an unhinged understanding of right and wrong... these are problems that we have faced as mankind since our existence started. So, if the problems aren't new, then what are they? I think the scariest part of being a parent right now, is looking into my children's eyes and trying to imagine what the future will hold. They will have to face these same, age-old problems of humanity, but, if the current trends continue, they will face them in bolder, louder, more outrageous, and more consistent ways. The problems are not new, they are just more intense. They are more intense and will continue to increase in intensity as we continue to choose to turn further from God.

The fault of horrific events is never an object or an idea, the fault lies within the will of man to glorify himself above God.

When we place our own glory above the glory of God, we have already accepted Satan's first lie, we have repeated the mistake of Adam and Eve. We have believed that we, as creation, are of greater value than the Creator. We have chosen to believe that God exists for us, for our use, and for our glory... we believe it to the extent that we blame Him when horrible tragedies occur. We question how He could let us do such awful things to one another. God does not exist for our pleasure, to make us happy (by our definition), He is not overly concerned with so much of the junk that happens on this planet, because so very little of it has any eternal significance whatsoever! God's concern is that He be glorified above all things! Why? Because He created all things for that very purpose! 

I don't know why things like the death of children, whether at the hands of crazed gunmen, or the hands of a parent, happen. But I choose to trust that God is sovereign. I choose to believe that there is much greater things going on in this world. I wonder how often Satan uses mass tragedy and hurt to attempt to distract us from something amazing and glorious. Seems too easy to blame God and focus on the carnage, rather than to see the work of evil and focus on God. 

Even in the face of such horrible, painful things... I will try to remember to sing, "Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God... forever."

Our country needs God, and they need Him now... He will run to those who honestly seek Him, He does not hide from those who desire to see Him. Let us use recent events as a springboard, thrusting us back into His loving arms. Let us make a choice this morning to seek out a body of believers, and lets get our country moving back to where it needs to be.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A post about grace

I love God's word. There is rarely a time when I sit and read that I come away feeling like my time was wasted. The times that that does occur, usually has alot more to do with my own focus than it does anything else. When I prayerfully, and intentionally seek out the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am lead into a deeper understanding about God. There are days when I get to the end of a passage and scratch my head trying to figure out what the heck I am supposed to have gathered from that particular set of verses... such as the genealogies of the Old Testament, or the really strange laws and commandments... I know they are there to serve a purpose, and God can speak to today's world through them just as much as He can through the gospels, but still...

Then there are mornings like this, mornings where life doesn't make sense, where I feel that tug of my old nature. My mind whispers to me things like, "really, you believe this stuff is real?" "Aren't you too smart to think that this old book means anything?" "Seek truth in only what you can see and observe, leave the mysticism to those who lack the ability to transcend above such things." It takes me back to a dorm room...

I sat in a  rather sad excuse for a bed, alone, confused, feeling forgotten by so many things. Shocked by the enormity of the world around me, and had chosen to instead turn in on myself for reliance. I was unsure of what to do or where to go... As I sat, alone, without having slept in many days, those same thoughts running through my head, I decided it was time to figure out what was real, what to believe. It was the beginning of an amazing journey, starting with God's word, reading through supportive writings of both sacred and secular historians from the time. I spent time in prayer, asking God to please be real. I spent much of that period in my life afraid that at some point, I was going to have to give up, that I was going to find something too big to ignore... but any time I thought I had gotten there, it was the word of God that spoke into my mind. Often it was the small, still voice, deep within that portion of my being that had long before been indwelled by Christ, His words of encouragement often being, "My grace is sufficient"... that phrase continues to be the answer I get anytime I reach a point of question, or face the pains of this world... "My grace is sufficient."

The next milestone came when  I headed on a trip to Houston, asked to chaperon a youth mission trip, mainly helping out in the kitchen... I said yes, mainly out of a desire to spend time with my, then, fiancee. I had, at that point, felt like I had it all just about figured out... didn't feel like I had a need to continue walking carefully close to God's word. I had allowed Satan to use one of his most practiced tricks, I allowed him to start slowly shifting my focus back to myself. Then, one night in Houston... my reason for joining this trip fell through my fingers. Going from self-sure, self-sufficient, engaged, "souled-out believer" to spiraling, single, and quite angry in an instant, I sought solitude...  I wanted to retreat into myself. I thank a good friend for seeking me out, who knew what was happening... I don't remember his words, I really don't think he said much at all, but I do remember looking into the stars, so mad, so confused, demanding a reason... "My grace is sufficient." If you've ever been here, I hope your immediate response was better than mine, because  that ticked me off more... but, it also did something else, drove me back to the Word. Through the reading I had that night, I found some comfort, and a reassurance that it was under control... if I would just let it be. I loosened my grip some, but it wasn't until a day or two after that I surrendered it. I hit my knees in a worship service, convicted of an undue self-reliance and a belief that I knew anything of God. I left Houston, much different, and much closer to being the man God wants me to be.

The peaks and valleys since then have be extreme, usually the same cycle of surrender, submit, growth, complacency, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, conviction, brokenness, anger, confusion, surrender... and so on.

I am still not the man God desires me to be, I still spend too much time focused on myself. I don't live to glorify God in all things, at all times, to all people... mainly because I can't. Only God can accomplish that life through me, all I can do is surrender and accept that His grace is sufficient in all things. It was sufficient to justify me, it is sufficient to sanctify me, and at the moment I leave this life, it will be sufficient to glorify me.

... that wasn't the post I anticipated writing today.