On the death of bin Laden
This made it even more obvious that Jesus’ words, while being ignored, remain true: “He who lives by the sword dies by it.” Osama bin Laden lived a life of violence and such was his ending.
On the death of bin Laden
This made it even more obvious that Jesus’ words, while being ignored, remain true: “He who lives by the sword dies by it.” Osama bin Laden lived a life of violence and such was his ending.
Great post about engagement and evangelism in the 21st Century:
G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them. Everyone expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”
When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
This is a subject I've wanted to get more into, because the idea of it crushes my heart. Sex trafficking isn't something that happens in Thailand or some other third-world country - it happens here, in the United States, all the time. And there's not nearly enough being done about it. Terrific article in the New York Times this past week by Nicholas Kristoff. In his companion blog, he offers a suggestion to resolving this epidemic:
The approach that seems to be gathering steam is the Swedish model, in which johns are prosecuted but the women/girls themselves are treated as victims and are given social services but are not prosecuted. The advantage of this is that it cracks down on demand, which in turn reduces the incentive for trafficking girls in Sweden. A growing number of countries are moving to adopt that approach, and police officials in New York City are studying it as well.
Another great story by NPR about prostitution in the United States (warning - this is a straightforward report. Not for the uber-sensitive).
When I see people who face real life tragedy full of faith, sure in Christ, I think, "Wow. What must they have been through in their lives to be that way." I think I understand. I don't want to have to have faith. It hurts to learn.
When God allows us to go through trials, it's not so that God can see how much we can handle. The same Bible that says that God allows us to be tried says that God will not test us with more than we are able to handle - and whatever He has allowed to come your way, He already has the resolution worked out.
Do you understand? God knows what you're made of - He knows how much you can handle.
So the purpose of the trial isn't for you to show God what you can handle - it's for God to show YOU what you can handle.
That's not an original thought, but it was new to me.
So while Heidi and I are home, and Lincoln is in the hospital, God is showing us our strength to teach us what to do when we're weak.
I like to do things myself. I like to deal with problems. I don't like avoiding people. I don't like beating around the bush. I don't like when there's an elephant in the room. I don't have patience for that sort of thing. When there's a problem, I like to handle it. If something's broken, I want to fix it.
I can't fix Lincoln. He has to beat the infection himself.
I can't repair Lincoln's lungs - he has to learn to breath on his own.
I can't tweak his internal thermometer - he has to gain weight to be able to keep himself warm.
I can't fix his low calcium or his high bilirubin levels - I have to let his body mature and grow through it.
I'm powerless. I stand by my son's bed, hoping for good news, but I can't do it. He's starting an antibiotic treatment for the next seven days. I can't talk it up. I can't turn the tide through force of personality of power of my will. I can't. I stand by, weak.
Faith, I suppose, is when submission meets powerlessness. I can't do anything, but I know someone who can. I've seen God work in the lives of others - my brother nearly died as a newborn/infant. But he's great now. In the past 3 days, I've heard countless stories from families who have endured similar situations and found God to be faithful, bringing their kids through and seeing them grow up. I've been encouraged by their testimony and moved by their love for Heidi and Lincoln and me. So faith, at this moment, is me saying, "God, I can't. I just can't. I'm too weak. I'm too tired. I simply don't have a way. But I know You can. I know You're able, because I hear testimony of what You've done in the past. Please, God, heal my son. Give him strength. Make him strong. Give Heidi and I peace during this difficult time. Help us to grow in You during this trial. Help us learn to trust You more."
Please, keep us in your prayers. Pray for Lincoln, because we want him to be healthy. Pray for Heidi, because she needs to continue to heal. Pray for all of us, because we need peace.
For anyone who grew up in evangelical Christianity, reading the stories of Matthew Paul Turner (Twitter link) will bring the memories flooding back. His funny storytelling, weaving tales of his childhood as he tells his story of spiritual growth and development.
I first came to know of MPT through his blog, Jesus Needs New PR, where MPT posts some of the absurdities of the very diverse, very amusing body of Christ. He pushes the envelope and holds some views that, undoubtedly, people will find offensive, but he's always raising a serious point - if these are the people who are supposed to be representing Christ in this world, then, seriously, Jesus needs new PR.
At any rate, I downloaded Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess onto my Kindle, and while I didn't read it straight through, I did open it from time to time - usually in the evenings before bed - to read a chapter or two and have a good laugh.
MPT begins his memoir by recounting the story of moving from a Methodist church to a Fundamental Baptist Church. As he said, "[Mom] and Dad had come to the conclusion that God wasn't attending our old church and it didn't make sense to go to a place even God didn't want to go to." Funny stuff.
Churched is a great read. I definitely recommend it. Below are a couple of excerpts that I found especially hilarious:
On the Second Coming:
The way we saw things, it didn't matter that God had created the heavens and the earth--he did not want us excited about living here. A good fundamentalist worth his weight in guilt was quick to remind any skeptic that the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
On Clean Living:
I did learn on thing about having Jesus as a bodily tenant: he would not tolerate cigarette smoke. Mr. Parsons, the assistant pastor in charge of children's ministries, made that perfectly clear.
"Do you want to give Jesus cancer?" His voice was gruff and he put his hands on his hips. "Well, do you? Think about it, young people. Do you want to be the person responsible for giving God's Son cancer? Or how about emphysema?"
After his talk, Mr. Parsons stood at the door, shook our hands, and gave us Hershey bars. Jesus didn't mind getting fat.
"Matthew Turner was one of two boys who asked Jesus into their hearts this morning," said Pastor Nolan during the announcements at church. "Four years old! Wow. I wish I'd known Jesus when I was four. Imagine what kind of Christian he's going to be when he becomes an adult. Can't wait to see that."
Again, it's a great book. You can buy it on Amazon.com for Kindle or in paper. For those of you who have a Kindle (or a Kindle app) and would like to read Churched, I have a single copy I can share. Comment on this blog and let me know, and we'll work to get the copy sent to you.
If you know me, you know I like free books. I also like gadgets. So when Matt Mikalatos (Twitter link) tweeted that he was giving away digital copies of his book Imaginary Jesus, I thought, "What the heck? I'll check it out." I read the first chapter (Chapter Zero, for those of you keeping count), and I was hooked. In this fun combination of personal memoir, allegory, and fantasy fiction, Matt is at a yuppie vegan cafe in Portland with flesh-and-blood Jesus when a guy named Pete approaches and punches him in the face. Read the scene:
"That--" Pete pointed out the window at the racing back of my Lord--"that was an imaginary Jesus, my friend. And now that we're on to him, he's going to run."
I crossed my arms and frowned. "I've known Jesus for a long time. What makes you think that you know him better than I do?"
"Because," Pete said, heading for the door, "I'm the Apostle Peter."
I won't lie - this is a strange story. But it's brilliant. Matt's writing is in the same vein as C.S. Lewis in A Pilgrim's Regress, but not on the same level (sorry Matt - you're good, but not that good). But the story in terrific. With the help of the Apostle Peter, a former prostitute, a talking donkey, and Mary, Matt takes on his Imaginary Jesus, and battles it out with other Imaginary Jesuses in the process, to find the true Jesus of Nazareth and begin to really understand Christianity.
Other Jesuses we meet are King James Jesus (quite the strict one - "It was centuries before he even allowed New King James Jesus to exist."), Liberal Social Services Jesus ("He thinks the best way to tell people about God is through service, because he never talks about God. He's great to have around because he keeps the place spotless."), Conservative Truth-Telling Jesus ("He has no arms. He thinks the only way to tell people about God is through hard truth, and he never raises a hand to help people with their physical needs."), Magic 8-ball Jesus (who has twenty replies: ten positive, five negative, and five neutral), Perpetually Angry Jesus (apparently, he's the Calvinist Jesus that Mark Driscoll worships), Testosterone Jesus (a popular men's retreat speaker), and Harley Jesus. There are more, but you need to read the book.
And, great news. The book is free through the month of February, so check out Matt's blog and download a copy. I promise, you'll enjoy it.
G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, a metaphorical and literal giant of his day (in addition to writing hundreds of books, poems, and essays, Chesterton stood at 6'4" and weighed 300 pounds) is still one of the most influential Christian writers of modern times. His book The Everlasting Man was key to the conversion of C. S. Lewis:
I read Chesterton's Everlasting Man and for the first time saw the whole Christian outline of history set out in a form that seemed to me to make sense. Somehow I contrived not to be too badly shaken. You will remember that I already thought Chesterton the most sensible man alive "apart from his Christianity." Now, I veritably believe, I thought - I didn't of course say; words would have revealed the nonsense - that Christianity itself was very sensible.
This book, The Quotable Chesterton, is a collection of Chesterton's quotes, organized by topic and complete with reference to the original source. This, of course, isn't meant to replace reading Chesterton's works, but rather, to provide the Chesterton fan with quotes and references to Chesterton's thoughts on a broad set of topics and themes. Some brief excerpts:
Atheism: Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
Beer: Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer's day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.
Bigotry: Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.
Cheese: Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
Cleverness: Cleverness kills wisdom: that is one of the few sad and certain things.
Education: Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
Politics: It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.
Political Theory: That is my political theory: that we should make England worthy copying instead of telling everybody to copy her.
Of course, I could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose. This is a fun book for the Chesterton fan, and a terrific reference for when you just need that quote, or a reference, or a one-liner to bring the point home. If you're interested in this book, please purchase through my Amazon Associate's link.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
I recently discovered a website - BookSneeze.com - that gives away free books to, really, anyone who will blog and post a book review online.
Count me in.
So, my first book is the one pictured above - On This Day in Christian History by Robert Morgan. Morgan is a pastor in Nashville and an established author, and in this project, he has created a terrific devotional work.
It seems that On This Day is better suited to accompany one's daily devotions than to be read through, but either way, it's a valuable tome. What Morgan has done is capture the lives of Christian heroes, martyrs, and more than one completely unknown character, and to tell encouraging stories of faith, hope, accomplishment, and devotion.
Some characters I knew already, and their familiar stories were uplifting and encouraging. Others I didn't, and I was challenged by the faith and devotion of the unknown Christian heroes.
On This Day is an easy book to read, the stories are only a page long, and are terrific introductions to people who have carried the Christian message through the years and across the world.
This book is a terrific resource for teachers or preachers, providing sermon starters, illustrations, and stories of encouragement to tie in that last point perfectly. If you haven't, check out this book at Amazon.com.
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I'm giving this book, which was free for me, away to one of my readers. If you would like my copy of this book, just post a link to this blog on Twitter, Facebook, or on your blog. If you post it on your blog or Facebook, send me an email and if you mention it on Twitter, just mention me (@bltitus) in the tweet. For each mention, post, or tweet, you'll receive one entry into a drawing. I'll draw the name at the end of January and announce the winner then. Good luck!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn.
I read L'Engle's book A Wrinkle In Time when I was in elementary school, but I feel like I need to rediscover her writings. I know she's somewhat of a universalist, but I think she was a peer and a friend of C. S. Lewis, who is my favorite author of all time.
But I like the quote - and it's a position I've been moving towards lately in some degree. Yes, there are things that we can know, but there is so much about God and eternity and life and creation that are so far beyond our comprehension and imagination ... sometimes we make Christianity too small and tidy. I have more to say on this issue, but it will have to wait for another blog post.
Merry Christmas*. Tonight, we had our Christmas concert at church. There were some scripture readings, which was nice. When the congregation read Luke 2 together, I was struck by one verse in particular:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
- Luke 2:14, KJV
My initial response was to post something snarky on Twitter about how the RepubliChristians no longer offer good will toward all men - only to those with whom they agree. But as the service continued, and I spent a good hour or so thinking about Jesus, and the season, and what He came to earth to accomplish, I realized that I can be as ill-willed toward my conservative brothers and sisters as I accuse them of being towards our secular friends.
I don't want to do that.
Merry Christmas. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. I offer that to everyone. My wish this holiday season is that everyone can spend some quality time with friends and family, finding the joy of the season and the blessings of God in your lives.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
*If you don't observe Christmas, then I offer to you Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings with all grace and love.
I was talking with my wife the other day, and her brother has never been in an airplane. She has, and her parents have, but my brother-in-law has never flown. I was thinking about that today, and I remembered a story that I read in Time Magazine awhile ago about a new twist on air tourism for the poorest citizens in New Delhi, India. For $4.00, these faux-travelers can cram into a 120-passenger plane, run through the emergency procedures, try on their life vests, drink a soda and eat peanuts, and sit for two hours ... all while they go nowhere.
The plane doesn't fly. But the price of a ticket is too high for many of the poor residents in the area, so they go through the motions of flying. For some, it is the experience of a lifetime and as close to flying as they will ever get., and for others, it is a crash course in airplane etiquette for when they eventually do fly. No matter what, however, the fact remains - this doesn't count as flying.
I've been in churches that lack altitude. You're there, and you go through the motions, and everything is just like it is supposed to be ... but there's no altitude. Nothing that lifts you higher, that takes you beyond where you are right now. The same songs, the same traditions, the same ... everything. But there's no real lift. It's hollow and empty and insincere. A church - a real, spiritual church - should soar. In a church service, where there is a real move of God, the people there should be caught up. You should never leave a church service in the same place you started. It doesn't count as church if you haven't flown.
This isn't about emotionalism - it's about transformation. It's not enough to have a church experience if the experience doesn't change the participant. Going through motions doesn't change anyone. An encouraging sermon of goodwill doesn't change anyone. Singing songs heard on the radio doesn't change anyone. The Spirit changes people. The Spirit gives altitude.
A plane that doesn't fly isn't really worth anything. Neither is a church with no altitude.
(if you want to read the story in Time - http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1684522,00.html)
NOTE: This was written as a project for a biography class in school. It was a privilege to spend this kind of time with Bro. Sleeva, and I'm incredibly thankful that he made himself available to me.
At first glance, Jim Sleeva is rather unassuming. He’s fifty-five, with thinning brown hair and a relaxed demeanor. While he’s dressed in a sharp grey suit, clean white shirt and a handsome tie, he strikes me as one far more comfortable in something far more casual. But upon further examination, it is easy to see that with Sleeva, there is more than meets the eye.
Sleeva has one of the busiest, most random schedules of anyone I know. When we met, Sleeva had just come from the Marion County jail, where he regularly teaches, preaches, and mentors the prisoners. Prior to the jail service, Sleeva had been at Indiana Bible College (IBC), teaching a class on foreign missions. As well as a staff instructor at IBC, Sleeva is the dorm supervisor and counselor. Since the inception of IBC twenty years ago, Sleeva has been involved in the development and growth of the school. Sleeva has also been a catalyst for Calvary Tabernacle’s Jesus House program, an inner-city outreach that takes Jesus and the church to the neighborhoods, offering tutoring and mentoring programs in addition to non-traditional, “out of the box” approaches to evangelism. Sleeva also serves on the board of Calvary Tabernacle and as a mentor to the Calvary Youth and Young Adult groups.
Sleeva’s history is as eclectic as his current interests: at age 16, he volunteered at the Pleasant Run Children’s Home, and at the age of 20, embarked on a trip to Germany that resulted in a mission’s effort that lasted 15 years, rather than the intended 3 month survey. Each time I hear him speak, he has a story or an illustration, recounting an experience that is deep in value and full of wisdom, applicable to situations far beyond my own.
As a young person growing up around Sleeva, I remember his work with and efforts to connect with a group of young people dubbed as “unlikelies.” Says Sleeva, “I like the challenge of trying to connect to people who are not like me.” He is the primary force behind the jail ministry, and is working to create programs to enable reentry, offering a sort of halfway house for convicts to come in, learn job skills, coping skills, and create a familial environment to foster a spirit of encouragement and success. “People from [a gang or criminal background] come from a broken family system. We [the church] need to create a new corrected family so they can have healing,” Sleeva explains.
Sleeva’s nontraditional ministries are coupled with a nontraditional approach. He is well versed in traditional “church speak,” and can clearly explain and teach doctrine when necessary, but he much prefers language like “this way cool thing that Jesus did” or “a huge green light in my spiritual vibes.” For some fifty-somethings, this kind of language feels forced, but with Sleeva, it fits. You really understand this is just who he is.
Sleeva’s ministry is to the fringe, and with this group, measuring success can be difficult. Success, for Sleeva, is “seeing them [the Unlikelies] respond to you. To connect to someone who doesn’t expect you to be interested.” He does it, he says, because “it felt like the right thing to do, whether they respond the way you would like them to or not.” You can’t measure success just in terms of numbers and immediate responses. Sometimes it takes years for someone to finally respond.
One example is a close friend of mine, Juan Lopez. Originally, Sleeva had been doing Bible studies with Juan’s brother, and Juan had always responded with hostility towards Sleeva. When Juan’s car broke down, Sleeva spent hours with Juan, working for free on his car, building a relationship of trust and respect. Juan was arrested, and was suddenly receptive to what Sleeva had to offer. While Juan was in prison, Sleeva orchestrated a work scholarship for Juan at IBC. Now, Juan is married, a leading salesman with his company, and an active minister at Calvary.
As a teenager in the youth group, I remember sitting around, hearing wild tales about Jim Sleeva and his exploits. While many of the myths have been dispelled, the mystery of Sleeva will never fade. He’s a strange missionary, doing far more than is expected, and accomplishing far more than anyone could ever know.
My feet ache. I’ve been running for two days, stopping only for moments to eat. I haven't slept since I left because the king is chasing me. I can hear the thunder of the horses and the rumble of chariots growing closer and louder with each passing hour. I’ve brought nothing with me, save a few golden trinkets from my neighbors. I have the clothes on my back, the shoes on my feet, and a dream. A dream of freedom, of a land where I can raise my children and they can run and play without fear. A dream of a land where I can set up a small crop farm, or maybe develop a craft, and make a living for myself. A dream of a place where I can worship my God freely, and sacrifice, and live according to His commandments and His law.
My legs burn, my feet hurt, and my heart is racing. I stop for a breath, and I can hear the pounding of the horses closer than ever before. I look back to see the dust raising. Ahead is a river, so I begin to run to the left, only to find that it turns back towards the king. I turn and run to the right and see the chariots and the army flanking me.
I can smell the horses now; I can hear the obscenities being hurled at me by the army. I’m facing the army and back up as they close in on my, drawing closer and closer to the river. Looking over my shoulder, I see that the water is twenty yards behind me. I turn and run, watching the mass of humanity begin to charge. As I run frantically towards the water, I cry out to God. "Save me."
I never take my eyes from the king as he leads the charge towards me. I keep running towards the water, hoping to swim to safety. Any moment now, I’ll reach the water and dive for safety. A wind begins to blow from behind me, giving me an additional boost of energy beyond the rush of adrenaline that is flowing through my veins. This next step and I should be at the water. My feet don't seem to be working, because I never reach the shore. I finally look ahead, and see the water rolling back with each step. I’m ten yards into the riverbed, twenty yards, thirty yards, and as I keep running, I can see the shore on the other side. Another gust of wind from behind gives me an additional burst of speed, and I hear a crashing and screaming behind me. I look over my shoulder to see the water crashing down over the king and his chariots. A giant wave is closing in on me as I frantically run to the shore.
"How ironic," I think to myself. "To escape the king's wrath, only to suffer the same death as he." I continue to push myself, but my legs can't carry me any farther. I drop the sack of the golden trinkets and with my last ounce of strength, I dive forward, face-first into the sand. As I close my eyes and weep, I brace for the impact of the water. I feel it gently lap over my feet, and I look back to see the river - calm, peaceful, as if nothing had ever happened. The waves lap and the sack of trinkets washes ashore at my feet. Around me, the ground is covered in white excess, and there are quails sitting and watching me. The white excess is falling from the sky, and as one touches gently on my lips, I taste the sweet, honey wafer and feel refreshed.
I'm reading "Red Moon Rising" by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts, and I've never been so inspired in my life. I need this sort of revival. I WANT this sort of revival. I want a relationship with God - not an experience or a set of experiences. I want to be hungry for - even addicted to - prayer. I want to want to enter in to God's presence. I want REVIVAL. First in my heart, in my family, in the YA class, at Calvary, in Indianapolis, in Indiana, in the country, in the world.
Some thoughts on prayer:
C. H. Spurgeon, "Pray, Always Pray":
God thinks much more of your desire than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God especially notes the sincerity of your soul. There is no other place where the heart should be so free as before the mercy seat. There, you can talk out your very soul, for that is the best prayer you can present. Do not ask for what some tell you that you should ask for, but for that which you feel the need of, that which the Holy Spirit has made you to hunger and thirst for, you ask for that.
A prayer room is not some giant spiritual vending machine: Just put in enough money and you're guaranteed a can of Coke. A prayer room is first and foremost a living room - a place where the Father waits for His children to come and climb into His loving arms. It's a place where we can experience peace so that we can make peace later; a place where we can accept forgiveness so that we can live our lives as priests at work; a place where we receive our Father's acceptance so that we can love even those who laugh at us later in the day.
No man liveth unto himself.
- Be kind to all men.
- Be true to Christ.
- Send the gospel to the world.
...[P]rayer is not primarily about changing things somewhere out there. It is first and foremost about changing something "in here" - in the heart. The most powerful thing that can happen in the place of prayer is that you yourself become the prayer. You leave the prayer room able as Jesus' hands and feet on earth. This is what it means to pray continually, to see with the eyes of Jesus and to hear with His ears with every waking moment.
Henri Nouwen, "The Way of the Heart":
The literal translation of the phrase "pray always" is "come to rest." The Greek word for rest is hesychia and so Nouwen wrote, "Hesychia, the rest which flows from unceasing prayer, needs to be sought at all costs, even when the flesh is itchy, the world alluring and the demons noisy." As we prayed continually, God was speaking to us powerfully. Prayer, we were reminded, was about climbing into the lap of our Father rather than triggering some vast spiritual machine. It was about coming to rest in constant awareness of in our undeserving lives, and we must never start striving and straining under the false burdens of guilt.
"Prayer brings incredible answers to deep needs. It can lead to genuine breakthroughs in calling people, villages, and cities back to God. But the most important thing that any prayer, or prayer room, from Alaska to Australia can provide is a place where people can be alone with their eternal Father, a place where you and I can study His features, find comfort in His love, learn to recognize His quiet voice, seek His advice, and pour out our childish hearts to Him. In the prayer room, we pick up God's mannerisms; we grow in His likeness. We actually become the answer to many of our prayers. And of course that's the greatest miracle of all."
Pastor was preaching out of Daniel 9 today, and cited verses 3 and 4:
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
He talked about that, in spite of his secular success and political power, Daniel still prays. Even though Daniel had spent a night in the lions' den, he still prays. And when he prays, he prays with confidence. Daniel prays with confidence because he knows who God is.
When you know who God is, you will have bold confidence in Him. Bold confidence will affirm your walk, guide you, and keep you from wavering or being double-minded. Knowing who God is brings stability and consistency to a believer's life.
How does one begin to understand who God is? Through experience and through relationship. You can't know God as a deliverer unless you've been delivered. You can't be delivered unless you've been bound. You can't know God as a provider unless you've had a need that was unresolvable by your own efforts. You can't know God as a healer unless you've suffered from disease or sickness. You can't know God as a comforter unless you've needed comfort.
Before you can have a testimony, you have to have a test.
lately, i've been thinking about what it means to really be a christian - christlike - and how arrogant it is for me to say "i'm a christian" or "i'm like christ". very rarely, it seems, does my behaviour actually reflect christ. now, i'm a good pentecostal, but that's only a sunday/wednesday thing. i want to learn to be a christian.
i was reading in 1 corinthians, looking at The Message (one of my favourite translations) and i came to chapter 13:
1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2 If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
verse one also says, "though i speak with tongues of men and angels ..." in the KJV. i need to learn to love. not in the "i love you mom" sort of way, but have a genuine, compassionate, selfless love for everyone i meet. i want to learn to be nicer. i want to learn to be a christian, every day, everywhere i go. i want to reflect christ in everything i do. i want people to see me, and think about me, and say, "he's a christian."
i'm selfish; christ is selfless. that's the biggest difference.