Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Motivation of Discipline

As a kid, I used to lie a lot. It was pretty bad. I've commented before on how easy it is to see the horrible nature of man in children and I was no exception to the rule.

Well, anyway, as I was saying, I used to lie profusely. And when I say that I lied, I'm not just talking about lying to get myself out of a jam, or lying to blame someone for something I did. Don't get me wrong, I did those, too, but often, I would lie for the simple purpose of lying. I would lie about random things that wouldn't benefit me in any way because of my lie. As I said - pretty bad.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The House Diet

My dad's been a pretty thin guy all of his life. I dunno why, maybe it has something to do with metabolism or some smart scientific thing like that, but that's just the way he's always been. And he's never had to work hard at it, which I believe is a blessing. Whatever the case, my dad is getting to a point in his life where, if he doesn't work hard to stay in shape, he forms what I like to call the "spare tire." It's not a large amount of weight, but it is there nonetheless. It happens to almost everyone I suppose.

However I noticed a trend in my father. He likes to build houses. Even though that is not strictly his "trade," he enjoys doing it. But whenever he starts to build a house, I have noticed that the pounds slowly shed off of him as he's working. He becomes very passionate about the house and wants to see it through to its completion.

Well I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I tend to get passionate about whatever project I'm involved in, whether it be building something, playing a sport, or working on an issue. Granted, I'm a pretty lean guy, if I do say so myself, so I don't really lose weight when I get engrossed with these projects. If I were to lose weight... well, let's just say you might not be able to see me if I turned sideways.

But here's what I'm trying to get at: passion. Often, our passions define us. For example, the first thing you think of when I say Angelina Jolie is that she is an actress. That is her passion. Upon a moment's notice you wouldn't think to yourself, "Oh yeah, Angelina - the mother," or "Angelina - the cook." She is defined by her passion - acting.

The Bible has well been aware of this fact since - well, since it was written. Jeremiah 2:5 said to the people of Israel that they had "worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves." In other words their passion (worthless idols) defined who they were (worthless). You are what you eat. However, by the same token, if one pursues what is noble and holy, that person becomes noble and holy. See what I mean?

The apostle Paul knew quite a bit about passion. In Philippians 1:21, Paul explains, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." His every waking breath was completely devoted to the cause of Christ. It is the ultimate passion, and it is, in fact, the only passion that truly "delivers," if you will.

Lemme explain: every passion that can be had on God's green earth will always end in what Matt Chandler likes to call the "culdesac of stupidity." Here's what it looks like: someone pursues something and, in the end, it doesn't end up satisfying him. So, instead of finding something else, he figures that more of the same will eventually bring him purpose and meaning.


It is for this reason you see greedy men who fill their bottomless hands with more money. It is for this reason you see madmen in power who never stop at conquering just one nation. It is for this reason you see middle-class families buying bigger and better homes, cars, and wives.

We are insatiable creatures, and we try to fill ourselves with everything but that which will actually work. Only in Christ is there true joy. Only in Christ is there real pleasure. Only in Christ is the last piece of the puzzle a perfect fit.

Now, come often times when I write something which I myself struggle and war with. These are areas that I have not attained the "end goal," and I most certainly don't measure up to what is required of me. This is one of those areas. It is with this in mind, I urge you, brothers and sisters, let us "press on" towards the goal, sharing in our difficulties and in our victories.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Severed Hand

I tend to be a very active individual. I do a lot of sports that seem to encourage experiencing physical trauma. One of these such sports is longboarding. I really enjoy it. And for those of you who don't know what a longboard is, it's like a plus-size skateboard that imitates snowboarding/surfing on concrete.

Well, one day I was bombing (aka. "riding down") this sweet hill, at the bottom of which there was a turn. To make a short story shorter, I messed up on the turn and ended up slamming into a wall with my arm, giving me some very nasty road rash all along my forearm. So I got up, ran up the hill, and realized that I was pretty messed up. Blood was running all along my arm and I couldn't really move it too much without a crazy pain sensation running all throughout it.

A part of my body had now become useless.

And now, it is months later that I see some kind of correlation between what happened that day and what the Bible talks about. 1 Corinthians 12 talks a lot about the issue of believers being united as one body. And I would like to pick a certain verse to pull out and show you, but just trust me when I say it's a better idea to just go and read the chapter before I go onto saying anything else. Do it even if you've read it before. It'll help. Trust me. I'll wait till you get back...

Done? Fabulous! Let's get moving.

There come a few times in a believer's life when the truth of Scripture and the advice of a fellow believer all connects and hits him like a sack of bricks. I don't know of anyone who puts bricks in sacks, but that's irrelevant.

One of these such truths came to me when I was listening to a pastor by the name of Matt Chandler that pastors a church called The Village out in Texas. Anyway, here, in a nutshell, is what he said in one of his podcasts:

You don't attend a church. You belong to the church.

This completely changed the way I looked at what the church is and how it functions. First of all, let's define some terms here. What is the church? Ephesians 1:22, when discussing the church, claims that it is "His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way." Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 12:13 goes on to say that "we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body." So if you're a math guy:

(church) = (body of Christ) = (all followers of Christ)

So, no longer is church a building, but a group. And no longer does it matter if there are many of these groups all over the world, for we are one church, united by one Spirit.

And as members of one body, we obviously have responsibilities as parts of the body. We aren't just an insignificant cog in some massive machine. No, we have a very specific, important, detailed job in the working and function of the body of Christ!

There's an old Casting Crowns song called If We Are the Body, and the main lament of the song is in the chorus

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

If we are the body of Christ, why are we limping? Why can't we hear right? Why is the church the skinny nerd competing in a weight-lifting competition?

We have not fulfilled our duty. And let me say this: our duty as believers is not to come and sit in a nice pew in an air-conditioned room and listen to somebody pour out their soul once or twice a week.

Our duty is to give our gifts.

Let me explain. As human beings, we all have talents and abilities that God has bestowed upon us so that we may use them for His glory and our good. (see Matthew 25) But these days, as the body, we find a lot of people who come to church, suck up what is given to them, and never give of what they have.

Spiritual gluttony, as far as I have seen, is exactly what I just described. We take and take and take and take the offerings of the people of God and never even think of giving back. So we becom, if you will, "spiritually obese." We may hand in a couple of bucks when the offering plate comes around, but we don't consider investing any of our time and effort into helping and contributing of ourselves.

So find your place. And I'm not saying that every ministry is for everyone. A guy who has no idea how to handle kids and is not gifted with that is probably not gonna be used in the best possible way working with kindergarteners. But we do each have our place. We know what our place is when we are using our talents, abilities, and efforts in an area that is suited towards those things.

It is with these things we find that we will form a church body so powerful and efficient that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Who's ready to tear down the gates?