Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Made for Christ

When we finally realize that we were made to be satisfied by Jesus, everything changes. Something in our core changes. We stop looking elsewhere, and suddenly life becomes one huge fight to have more and more and more of Jesus, the bread of life.

Now wait a second. Go back and read it again. Did you ignore that? I mean, sure, you read it and maybe you made a half attempt to kind of internalize it. But really: Can you see it for all it really is? Don't ignore this. I would have, a couple years ago. "Yeah, ok, great, we were made to be satisfied by Jesus, that's good and all.. but where can we really get satisfaction?" No, my friend. This is for real. Don't try to dismiss it.

Christ is everything you were made for.

If you have his spirit and belong to him, no matter how close or far away from him you are right now, he will have you. He will have all of you. His love for you is unrelenting and he will not stop fighting for you.

So why resist it? Why look elsewhere? If Jesus is the bread of life, why do our souls stray elsewhere? Odds are you've been limping along on the highs of sin all your life. How long does it take for you to realize it? Your heart was made to be satisfied by Christ.

You were made for Jesus-- not for anything else.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Humans

The closer to God I get, the more pain I feel at times. Not in the sense that I feel rejected, but almost that I feel too accepted into this glorious kingdom for comfort. Can one feel too accepted and loved? Well, when you've got a sinful person like me who doesn't want to care deeply about people and who doesn't feel like weeping about them, yes. Because when God loves you, he changes you and he burdens you. In essence, he gives you his own heart. I don't know about you, but sometimes I just don't think I'm ready to be a vessel, however broken, of the heart of creator God. I feel too old.. too weak.. too lazy.. too self absorbed.

But the way he burdens us... it's like a train wreck going on inside. To have the heart of God is not easy. Because having the heart of God will break your own heart to pieces... the ignorance you harbor meets the truth, and it screams in horror as it is painfully swallowed up. It's like chaos! How can you feel so broken hearted over just a human being... I mean, they're just human beings! You know.. those annoying creatures that inconvenience you all day, and get in your way, and force you to do stuff for them?

Well, all over again, I feel I'm re-realizing the fact that though I may have thought of humans like that a week ago, humans are infinitely more. ALL humans carry insecurities, needs, desires, burdens, weaknesses, strengths, pains, and the image of their creator-- yes, even the REALLY annoying ones. And the hurting ones, and the prideful ones. Every single human. We all need love. The heart of Christ is overflowing with love enough for us and for us to spread about as well.

Don't neglect the truth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bible Reading

The best way to read your Bible:
1. Not separated into verses (it wasn't originally written that way), but in units of paragraphs.
2. Out Loud. Somehow the meaning sinks deeper into your heart when you read out loud.
3. Prayerfully. Find some concept that's hard to understand, or something that you're thankful for? Bring it to God right then and there. Prayerful reading is spirit filled reading. It will open up your spiritual eyes more clearly!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I Believe About Relationships.

This is part of series I am doing on my beliefs about everyday life things-- things which we often take for granted and do not think critically about.

There are a variety of Christian views about relationships because the typical understanding of what the word "dating relationship" means is not described or mentioned in the Bible. Since there are many cultural practices which are not inherently sinful (just different), there are several ways to go about relationships between two people. There are, however, a few scriptural guidelines.

1. Be wise. (Matt. 10:16)
2. Be Pure. (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Tim 5:1-2; Eph 5:3)
3. Don't have sex before marriage. (Matt. 5:28; Hebrews 13:4)
4. Don't be in romantic relationships with the same sex. ( 1 Cor. 6:9-10)
5. Don't be in a Relationship with a Non-Christian.
6. Love your partner (1 Cor. 13)

There are several different cultural practices which fit these guidelines (well, some would question the wisdom of a few, but whether something which does not go against scripture is wise or not will be up to a person's conscience to decide-- unless they're mentally handicapped).

1. Pre-Arranged Marriage. There are still several cultures which practice this style of relationship today. I personally don't think it's the most wise, but it does not contradict scripture. Generally the parents will decide which person their son will marry (with help from the son), and his family and the family of the woman whom his family selected will arrange a marriage for the two.

2. Secular Dating. I think this is the least Biblical-- though some would argue otherwise. The general practice of this is simply to date people for fun without any intention of marriage. Maybe the two will get married; however, they're not thinking about it. A few preachers recommend this practice, but for the sake of keeping one's heart in one piece I don't think it is the most wise.

3. Christian Dating. I like to call this courting, but I know some people's conception of courting is quite skewed. For that reason, I'd like to add that courting is not the kind of dating where a couple can never be alone, never touch each other, and is certain of marriage when they begin dating. That's ridiculous! The way I define courting is two people who come together with the common goal of marriage. If you have to break up, you have to break up. I believe this is the most Biblical and wise practice of dating. A man approaches a woman with whom he is [ought to be] good friends with, shares his life goals with her and finds if she and him are compatible to pursue the same thing. After considering it, if he thinks that marriage with her is plausible, then he dates her with a strong possibility of marriage. The main goal of this style of dating is to avoid unnecessary broken hearts by a man not approaching a woman unless marriage is plausible. It doesn't mean that you must get married by entering into the relationship, it means that you think marriage is very likely. The main point is, don't date someone who you know it is very unlikely to end up married to you.

Since I choose 3) as the most plausibly Biblical version of dating relationships, I will explain my more specific beliefs about relationships assuming 3).


I think that the key principle in relationships is wisdom. Discernment, responsibility, and maturity is required for a relationship with the opposite sex, and if you don't have it, don't get in a relationship.

Let's draw on some of the Biblical principles I mentioned above:

1. I think one of the most important things is to NOT date a non-believer. Don't be stupid. The Bible doesn't specifically say, "Don't date Non-believers", but it does say, "Don't be joined with unbelievers" , and also, "For what does righteousness have to do with unrighteousness?". This is a pretty good principle to run by. And when I say, "don't date unbelievers", I also mean don't date people who say they're Christians but aren't. If the person you are dating claims to be a Christian, but he or she is not saved, not growing in God, and has not given his or her life to him fully, then don't date them until they have been saved. No exceptions.

2. A courting relationship is a serious one, and thus it ought to be taken seriously. There is to be no cheating on the person that you are courting-dating. What two people consider to be "out of bounds" will have to be discussed, but our intuition informs us as to things which we know to be obviously wrong.

As an addition to this, I want to add some guidelines, not specifically about who to date, but about who to stay with. Perhaps a person in a courting-dating Christian relationship will find someone who attracts them more than their current partner. What do you do in this situation? This isn't anywhere stated in scripture, but I think I can offer some sound advice. If you find yourself in this situation, having to decide between the person you are dating and a person who attracts you strongly, then you ought not break up with the person you are dating with these conditions: 1. That you are not unhappy with the person you are currently dating, and 2) That you don't consider your current relationship to be leading towards an unhappy marriage.

Why do I say this? Because you will ALWAYS find people who attract you everywhere you go. When you're married, if you're a guy, there are always going to be pretty girls who are amazing people and who appear to be a better catch than your wife. If you're a girl, there will always be those suave, attractive, and mature guys who look to be a better catch than your marriage partner. Are you suddenly obligated to divorce? Of course not! In the same way, a courting relationship is practice for marriage. Meeting someone who seems to attract you more than your current partner gives you no warrant to break up with your partner to date the other UNLESS you are currently unhappy with your relationship and you don't consider your current relationship to be leading towards a happy marriage. I would submit that even if you do break up with a person you are unhappy with or whom you consider that you will not have a happy marriage with, it should not be for reasons relating to "finding someone better." It should be because of reasons internal to the relationship alone.

3. With regards to intimacy, I believe that each party in a couple ought to guard their own heart and the heart of the person they are dating. You are NOT married to each other yet, and thus you are not ready for the completely surrendered emotional intimacy that comes with marriage. Don't stay up all night, every night, talking and giving every bit of your heart away. Don't plan marriage as if it were absolutely 100 percent certain, don't let your partner be the only person you hang out with or confide in, and don't let them become the center of your life. What happens if you do that, and then you both decide to break up? Heartbreak.

4. My belief is that relationships between a guy and a girl should include more than just the guy and the girl. Before you freak out, I'm talking about Jesus! Imagine a triangle: Christ is the head, the guy is on the left, and the girl is on the right. Whenever the two get closer to God, they get closer to each other. Though this is an analogy which fails in some situations, I think this situation also holds: Notice how whenever the two have been growing closer to Christ, on this triangle, if one falls away or slacks in pursuing God, they not only lose closeness with God, but they also lose closeness with their partner. This means that either the faithful partner could hold his or her ground and encourage their partner to continue pursuing God, or they could allow their partner to bring them down. All I can say is, don't be that guy/girl. Don't bring your partner down. Don't let your partner bring you down. If your partner struggles, restore them and encourage them, but don't let them bring you to their own level. Do all things to honor God.

5. Physical touch before dating: Do I think kissing is ok? Yes, but not a lot of it. Let your conscience wrestle with you on what you consider to be right with regards to things which cannot be directly addressed. A good way go about it is, as Mark Driscoll said, "Hands off!!" Now, this can't be taken literally-- but the connotation of that term is, "Respect your partner. They aren't yours yet."

6. A couple who is courting-dating needs to study the Bible, discuss doctrinal beliefs, discuss beliefs about child-rearing, family leading, etc., for this is only wise.

7. Finally, love each other. Practice dying for each other. Don't try to see how good you can make your partner be for you, try to become the most Christ-like to your partner as you can. Love them, appreciate them, cherish them, give them space, give them alone time, and most importantly desire for them to grow in God.

Encouragement

"We are not as strong as we think. If I hung around a flat-earth convention for long enough, I may begin to doubt that the Earth is actually round. In the same way, if I spent a week at an Atheism convention, I would begin to feel uneasy about God's existence. You are not as strong in holding your beliefs as you think. That is why you need encouragement in the Christian Faith. You don't have to believe it because other believe it, but once you're intellectually satisfied with Christianity, you need to have your brother's and sister's encouragement." - Michael Patton

Do you think you are so strong as to be able to maintain passion, faith, love, and deep convictions by yourself? If so, you are far from right. You need fellowship. You need encouragement from other people. You can't maintain growth in Christianity unless you are being encouraged by other believers. Our beliefs derive so much strength from other's encouragement.