Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Playing By The Rules

Wouldn't it be lovely if Satan played by the rules? It would be so easy to win battles if the enemy stayed within the boundaries and restrictions to which we adhere. Unfortunately, sin doesn't give a hoot about playing by the rules.

I find myself confident that I can win any battle, that I have received a clear mind through prayer. Then I find myself in a place where I am vulnerable, and sin attacks. I would love it if sin would recognize that I am down right now and am incapable of fighting the battle at full strength. But no, that's not how sin works. It doesn't care one bit about common courtesy. If the man is down, kick him harder. If he has a wound, pour the whole salt shaker in it.

Friends, don't fall under the lie that temptation is going to respect your weakness and wait until you're stronger. I remember stories of the beginning of the Civil War. People thought viewing a battle would be exciting, so they camped out alongside the battle lines so they could get a great view. But oh the horror when the battle proved to not be a nice fencing match. It was bloody war.

The spiritual battle is between God's army and the darkest of all enemies. When Satan and his cronies attack, they don't use approved or acceptable methods. They figuratively kill innocent women and children. They set up extermination camps. They don't care if it's just or fair. It's why they're called evil.

Fortunately, they also fight for a losing cause.

Thanks be to God who has already won the battle, and who has invited us sorry sinners to be redeemed children and victors with Him. Remember that as long as Jesus is your God, no attack by Satan can harm your soul's eternal hope, even if you do stumble.

I Corinthians 10:13 says that "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." Even in the dirtiest of attacks by the enemy, we can still be strong in Christ; we can still beat it. But if we do fail, remember the words of Romans 8:1: "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." God has made a way for victory no matter what.

Just remember that the battle might get a little messy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Material Things: Blessings or Not?

I just read an article, or more precisely glanced through an article, that was talking about how we should stop saying that God has "blessed" us with material things. It argued that Christians should not consider those things blessings, because doing so reduces God to a wish-granting genie of some sort.

I think that's a bunch of hullabaloo.

This comes out of years of learning what it means to be grateful for what I have. I am not necessarily rich in American terms, but I certainly have plenty of material things to be thankful for, things that I definitely don't deserve. Things that I'm not owed based on anything special about who I am. And I know that the only reason I have these material things is because God has allowed me to have them.

Some things I have worked for and earned, but I still respect the fact that any talents, any opportunities, any successes or victories have happened or exist solely by the grace of God. I may have had to work to make these things happen, but the tree don't grow if God doesn't make it.

What was the point the article was trying to make? People's material wealth and possessions aren't blessings. (I'm seriously struggling to make a sensible explanation of what this article was trying say.)

How can you say that material things aren't blessings from God? If God chooses to bless His children with material things, why shouldn't He? He made EVERYTHING. He owns EVERYTHING. Nobody has more material possessions than God. And in heaven there will be greater material blessings than this world could ever fathom.

I understand that there certainly are more kinds of blessings than material ones, many of which are much more valuable than wealth. But to tell God that any monetary possessions aren't blessings is downright arrogant.

My parents have given me many things over my lifetime, and I definitely have not deserved such favor. They give me these things because they love me and because they can, and because I seek to respect them and be the best son I can be.

Likewise, the only reason God gives us material blessings is because He loves us. As a matter of fact, the only reason He has given us anything is because He loves us. We don't deserve any of it. That's what makes all these things blessings. God has allowed us to have these things because He loves us, and unless He has a plan to use these things to bring about something else in His will, that reason is sufficient enough for why He blesses.

But the heart of the article is that our material blessings don't dictate how special or worthy we are. God chooses to bless some with money and things, and not others. There are many types of blessings. The most important is the gift of grace that saves us. Whether we have accepted that grace is what defines our worth. Salvation is the only blessing that provides eternity.

However, I will continue to thank God for the blessings of material things. I pray that I can turn those blessings around to give the glory back to Him who is the only one worthy of anything in the first place.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Random Thoughts, 6/8

I loose my focus really easily.

Sometimes if someone interrupts me when I speak I forget what I'm talking about.

Right now I'm trying to remember what I was going to write about in this sentence because I got distracted.

I'm sure if I got tested when I was younger they would have said I had A.D.D. But Mom doesn't believe that A.D.D. exists, but that it's based around how your parents train you. So instead of medicating me, they just told me that I had to focus and gave me no other option. So I focused.

I can focus when I really have to. But when it's not that important or I'm really tired, I don't. Caffeine helps me focus, sugar does not.

I believe that there are kids, like me, who have a harder time focusing. But I firmly believe that any kid can focus, unless that have some condition like autism. It just takes commitment and an understanding that it has to be done, so I'm going to do it.

So I learn to make it work.

Random Thoughts, 6/7

Paul was the greatest evangelist of all time. Billy Graham is likely a close second, but Paul was not a Billy Graham. Paul would travel from city to city leading thousands to Jesus, but then along the way he would stop for a few months in one city to help the new converts grow.

So many times we think that leading people to Jesus we have done sufficiently. I do not follow the "once saved always saved" philosophy (though I do believe in eternal security, but that's based on God's faithfulness to us, not the other way around); hence, people need to remain in Jesus and grow in Him. That's why Paul stayed.

It's the reason my calling has always been to the church, not to evangelism. I'm not saying I haven't been called to witness to others, because that's the calling that's universal to all Christians. But my personal focus is on helping already saved people to grow in Christ consistently, and the church is the perfect outlet to help them know Christ and know about Christ better.

So remember, your walk with the Lord is only as strong as what you put into it. Get into the habit of reading your Bible and praying every day, and watch your ritual religion become something more like the relationship people say it is.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Random Thoughts, 6/4

Faith doesn't seek proof. Faith seeks results.

It doesn't look for things to validate its existence. It expects to see only the highest quality produce come from its existence and is disappointed if it produces anything less.

Sometimes things happen to test our faith. Evil likes to throw things at a weak Christian, trying to get him to question his faith, which turns his attention toward his faith and away from the Object of his faith.

I've had really cool things happen in my life and been able to point to the sky and say, "This is what my God does." I've found myself unsurprised about these miracles, proving that I had no doubt it could happen.

But there are times, like right now, when things happen to test our faith, things that frankly suck. It hurts to see people I love hurt, I would say unjustly.

But God has a plan. This is easy to say when the circumstances are good. When they're not so wonderful, I write this with a gulp and a sigh. Yet I know it to be true.

I want the faith of Abraham. He knew he wasn't being tested by evil; he was really being tested by God (in the case of offering Isaac). God wasn't trying to see if Abraham's faith was strong. He knew it was and wanted to show the world for all of time.

God, give me that faith. I want to be able to prove that my faith is valid by demanding results from it and expecting nothing less. I want You to be able to hold me up as an example of faith like You did with Abraham. That's the faith God wants in His people. God has been so faithful, why should I doubt now?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Random Thoughts, 6/3

So I killed two spiders this morning.

This is quite a feat, considering my hatred of squishing bugs.

The first was huge. I mean, huge. And all body too. Wasn't no Daddy Longleg, that is for sure. Biggest spider I've seen in the house ever.

I missed on my first attempt at gently coaxing him off the wall and into the toilet with toilet paper, but I was successful in picking him off the floor and flushing him down the drain. I did a little celebratory dance, proud of myself knowing I'm not reluctant to go find someone else willing to kill the bug.

A few minutes later, I moved my shoe and a small red spider went scurrying off the rug and onto the hardwood. I'm like, "You're no match for me, dude," and took him out confidently with a tissue.

Killing these spiders was really encouraging for me. They made me feel like a true man (besides the expression on my face when I first saw the big one). I also needed a pick-me-up since I felt like a bit of a failure due to a prior moment of weakness. It's like God sent the spiders as easy victories for me to tell me I can still win at life.

It also reminded me of how sometimes if a big battle comes and we hold fast, the second battle usually looks much smaller and we feel more confident that we can win it. It's often just so hard to get past the first battle.

Thankfully, both spiders died today. I pity the next bug that tries to face me today.