Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scared out of My Mind

Yes, being close to God will, in fact, strike fear into your heart.

I don't know why, but for some reason, many modern preachers have taught something along the lines of, "When the Bible says that we fear God, it simply means to respect Him."

Are you crazy!?

Ok, let's boil this down a bit. Do you not fear being caught in a natural disaster such as a tornado or thunderstorm? Revelation 4 describes the throne of God in this way: "From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder," while God's appearance on Mt. Sinai was accompanied with darkness, thunder, lightning, fire, and smoke enveloping the entire mountain. I would flip out at this sight and fear for my life, just as the Israelites did: "When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance..." (Exodus 19-20)

If you're a guilty man standing before a judge, do you not fear the man who has the power to condemn you to jail? In the throne room of God, there exist a specific type of angel called the seraphim. These are perfect angels who are given a ridiculous amount of power for the single purpose of covering themselves before God and shouting to each other, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6)

If these perfect beings cannot even bear to look at the perfection of a Holy God, how much more do we, who are sinful, have to fear before Him? This is what Isaiah was talking about when He wrote, "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'"

So, why on earth (actually, heaven) would we want to be around something we fear? Why would we want to seek God in order to spend time trembling at the feet of an awesome God?

Now, check this out, because what I'm about to say won't sound like it makes sense: When we realize how small, sinful, and screwed up we are in light of God's grandeur, holiness, and perfection, we come to worship when we realize that this is the God who sent His own SON to die on a bloody CROSS for our sins, despite our failure. And to add on to that, we find the most joy in in bringing God glory, because that is the fulfillment of the very purpose for which we were made.

That is why I seek to know God, even though I realize that as I come closer, I will be more and more intimidated by the amazingness of His glorious grace.

So, yes. I am scared. If it wasn't for Christ, I would be scared to death, so to speak. But if I'm correct, fearing isn't so bad, because "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Monday, March 26, 2012

RMP: I Promised I Wouldn't Tell!

Today's RMP is about something that I don't normally cover, but that I believe is one very important issue to cover. Homosexuality.

I have a feeling that a lot of Christians have a fear of addressing the gay lifestyle, but in reality, if we believe the Bible, we should be recognizing it for what it is: sin. (Romans 1)

I will not apologize for the bluntness. It is necessary. I don't wanna sugar-coat the truth to appeal to your sweet tooth and I don't wanna hide God's commands.

Does this mean I hate gay people? No.
Does this mean I look down on homosexuals? Absolutely not.

It simply means that I recognize this sin as being on the same level as any other. In other words, a liar and a homosexual are both as much of sinners in God's eyes.

Now, before getting into an essay of epic proportions regarding all this, I'd like to simply present this week's RMP. In this video, a P4CM (Passion for Christ Movement) poet spits about his past life as a homosexual and the process of restoration and regeneration that God led him through to get out of it. It's powerful. It's relevant. It's riddled with truth.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Put Down the Panzy, and Pick Up the Panzer

My parents grew up as Christians in Romania during a time when Communism ruled. I don't know how much you know about Communism, but simply put: it's bad. Because my parents were believers, the government did not allow them to "move up the ladder," so to speak. They grew up without much of the excess and comfort that many of us consider essential to daily life.

Much of what my parents did went to assist their family and support the cause of their well-being. Therefore, when they were faced with an opportunity to help their families, it wasn't a choice. It was something they had to do. Because they loved their families. Now, I don't want to glorify my parents or put them up on some kind of pedestal. They did what they had to do and got by. For them, it was a state of mind - not some kind of glory-seeking self-exalting heroism.

Recently, I've been reading John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life. I already brought up something about it a little while ago, but I'm learning a lot, so I thought I'd share more. In one section of the book, Piper discusses what he calls a "wartime lifestyle." I figure it's pretty apt to talk about wartime living considering the fact that the entire Bible is littered with the idea that we are to be fighting against the enemy, sin and darkness and battling for the cause of Christ. (Ephesians 6; 2 Cor. 12:15)
"In wartime we ask different questions about what to do with our lives than we do in peacetime. We ask: What can I do to advance the cause? What can I do to bring the victory? What sacrifice can I make or what risk can I take to insure the joy of triumph? In peacetime we tend to ask, What can I do to be more comfortable? To have more fun? To avoid trouble and, possibly, avoid sin?"
You see, these two perspectives are very different. To live with a wartime mindset is to make sure that your life is consumed with nothing else but "Jesus Christ and him crucified." It is to stop viewing your life as the accomplishment of several small goals with Jesus on the side, and to start finding out what His call on your life is and pursuing it. It is straightforward. It is intentional. But most of all, it is the death of you. The death of your desires, goals, and wants. This is what Paul had in mind when he said to, "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

But keep in mind, this sacrifice is not the end of your joy, but the beginning. We often hold such a rigor-mortis grip on our desires because we believe that they will satisfy our thirsty souls, but Paul knew what he was talking about when he said, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phil. 3:8) As a man who had given everything for the cause of Christ, he was incessantly joyful in knowing his Savior.

So put down the panzy, and pick up the panzer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

RMP: Just Like You

I grew up knowing two things: I hated rap, and I hated country music. For whatever reason, neither of those are true anymore. I guess this is one of the songs that changed it for me. It might just be one of the most poignant descriptions of fatherhood and a relationship with the Heavenly Father.

And, as a bonus, the music video is sicknasty.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pineapples and Things That Don't Make Sense

Sometimes, this world just doesn't make sense. Like how bees are able to fly despite their wing to weight ratio. Or calculus. Or why people just can't seem to remember to put the toilet seat back down.

I don't understand many things, but one of the things I understand least is the way leadership plays out in the church.

One of the most accurate statements I've heard recently came to me from John James, the first lead singer of the Newsboys. He spoke at my church a few weeks ago, and was able to meet with us before youth group for our leader's meeting. John said the following, "You're not a leader if you don't lead."

Simple, right?

Apparently not. For some reason, I see churches bring people onto leadership teams that are highly unqualified for the job for the main reason that they don't lead. Now, usually, these people are taken in because they are serious about their relationship with the Lord and living in an upright, godly way, and this, I commend. However, I don't care what label you are given by the organization you work with - if you don't lead, don't call yourself a leader.

Look, I'm not trying to rail against the church. That's not my intention. My main objective is to get you to see how leadership can be applied to your life as an individual, and I'll start off by saying this: I believe all Christians are called to be leaders. Why?

Right before Jesus left earth, He told His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28)

I believe that making disciples and teaching the words of Jesus is something that you lead people into. However, don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that everyone is called to be a pastor, or a missionary, or a small group leader. Those people that oversee larger groups are called to a higher standard. (Luke 12:48) Not everyone is made to lead a flock, just like I wasn't made to like pineapple. I am simply saying that we are called to lead other people closer to Christ. This may even be casually and intentionally (yes, those two can go together) leading a friend of yours who may be not as spiritually mature as you.

I guess what I'm saying boils down to this: whether you lead in a small or large setting, be intentional about influencing others toward becoming disciples of Christ.

This doesn't mean you have to be a big, hard-headed, macho guy who doesn't take no for an answer. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 20:26, "But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant." And, referring to an elder in the church, Titus 1 says, "He must not be arrogant..." This doesn't mean that you have to be a lackey going to and fro accomplishing what everyone tells you to do, but that you serve them through leading them closer to Christ, and showing humility in doing so.

That being said, let's go and get some people led!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

RMP: Make Kony Famous

If you want to stop a modern day Hitler, please watch this video.

I'm not usually into supporting non-Christian organizations or social movements, because they can only make people's lives better for the short time here on earth if they don't share Christ with them, but in the end, signing your name to this petition will go a long way in stopping one of the world's worst criminals. And as Christians, we should be seeking to leave this world better than we found it.

I know that this is half an hour long, but that's only 30 minutes that it could take to change tens of thousands of children's lives.

So let's bring this guy down!


In the days following the launch of the video "Kony 2012," there have arisen many critiques in regards to Invisible Children, their policies, and procedures. What does this all mean?

#1: At the risk of my pride, I will admit that I was quick to jump onto the Kony bandwagon, without looking into the workings of the Invisible Children foundation. And for this, I apologize. Part of being wise in this world is thoroughly checking out any organization or social movement you might want to support. However, after some research, I've found that the company stands up to most standards and is transparent. Click here to read the organization's response to many critiques.

If there is one thing that I would resign myself to, it is the fact that Kony may not be such a large issue as he was in the past. According to this article, much has changed since the atrocities of years ago. Joseph Kony is undeniably a scourge of human existence, but his power has much waned since what it used to be.

#2: A lot of the critiques that I witnessed had a stench of rebellion. As in, "Everyone's supporting this whole Kony thing, but let me go against the flow and find something against it." It is honorable to look into what you're supporting and even to denounce improper practices, but don't get lost in the "anti-" culture.

#3: If you're going to share a video or blog article discussing the validity of something, make sure it's coming from a reputable source, and not a tumblr. Or a teenaged girl's vlog. Double check your facts and make sure that what you're hearing is legit.

#4: As I said before, I'm not usually into supporting non-Christian organizations because they don't share the gospel, and ultimately only provide temporal relief from suffering. If your support to Invisible Children or any other non-Christian organization is taking away from your support of solid Christian organizations that preach hardcore truth, don't do it. I'd much rather you provide for the feeding of people's souls, and not just their mouths. WorldVision, International Commission, TTI, and others are solid organizations that believers should get involved in.

I've left this whole Kony experience learning a lot about charitable contributions and efforts, and, if nothing else, you should, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lighten Up

In my short 19 years of life on this earth, I've met quite a few interesting people. And of these interesting people, some flat out frustrate me.

It's the Christians who can't smile.

And boy, have I met them. In boatloads. It's the kind that proclaims the joys of Christ with a stale face. It's the kind that lives out the quote, "Start every day off with a smile and get it over with." (W.C. Fields) It's the kind that sings "Joyful, Joyful" with a monotone voice that would scare children.

I just don't get these people. Once you're touched by the love and mercy of God despite your sin, how could you not overflow with endless joy and passion? Furthermore, what person in their right mind would look at someone who lives in this lackluster way and say to themselves, "I want that."?

Lately, I've been reading a book called "Don't Waste Your Life," by John Piper. I haven't even finished it, and it is one of the most legitsauce books I've ever had the pleasure of coming across.  The main point of the book is that the only life not wasted is the life lived in pursuit of the glory and magnification of Christ. And, to quote Mr. Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." He also goes on to say, "The essence of praising Christ is prizing Christ."

Well, it makes sense, doesn't it?

The God who created us to be in relationship with Him is obviously looking for joyful submission to His plan of life. To put it as relevantly as possible, God wants our life of obedience to Him to look similar to what our love lives look like.

Think about it. When your in love with someone, you look for ways to please that person. You spend all of your time thinking about them. You live to make that person happy.

And that's what God wants. Not your heel-dragging submission, but your passionate delight and joy. Psalm 1 describes the blessed man like this: "but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night."

So lighten up, homeslice. Laugh a little. Ask God to show you what it means to be filled with the joy of the Lord.

Then just let go, and let it happen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

RMP: Jammin' Man.

The title of this RMP might have been slightly deceiving. I will not be playing reggae. I will, however, be showing you one of my all-time favorite sermon jams.

If you don't know what a sermon jam is, it's basically a short clip of a sermon set to music. And this one in particular is ridiculously good. If you struggle with sin and believing the forgiveness of God, just as I do, this will blow you away. Just as it has for me.

It basically addresses what it means to be accepted by a loving God despite our repeated offenses against Him.