Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunday Morning is Good Enough for Me!

At 4 A.M., Tom woke up and turned off the alarm. Rolling out of bed he thought to himself, “I have a big day ahead of me.” His day started off with a healthy, high protein breakfast. Finding himself at the gym no later than 5, he began his rigorous workout.  Around 8 O’clock he went to work. It was a long, tiring, and seemingly unrewarding day, but when closing time came around at the factory, he had not stopped to rest. Instead, he went straight to the gym to work with the punching bags and take in a few practice matches. This was Tom’s daily routine. Finally, a buddy seeing what he went through asked him, “Why do you do it, man?” Tom simply replied, “I want to be the best boxer I can be.”

Dr. Williams wakes up even earlier. By 5 O’clock she’s in the office signing papers. She looks over the lengthy names of patients to be seen that day. Stopping for only a second, she takes in a big calming breath, and heads off to see each one. Hours fly by and she now realizes she has already worked 3 hours past her scheduled time. Stopping in her office to sign a few last minute documents, she finally heads home.  She walks in and only takes a moment’s break to freshen up and say hello to the family over a cold meal. Walking into her home office she takes a look at all the open books on her desk, realizing she only has a week to prepare for that state-required exam. She sits down and, through the high emotions from a long week reminds herself, “I’m doing this all to be the best I can be!”

The Johnsons wake up to a usual Sunday morning. James and his wife are debating over whether they are going to take the family to church this morning. After much debate and already late for Bible class, they decide to hop in the car and head over that way. Church is good and it’s always nice to see some friends. They start to head home and get ready for a day of relaxation and enjoyment. James thinks to himself, “It’s been a long week…worked over time on top of it all! I really need to get some work done on the car, and that will mean I’ll be tired by the time evening service starts. Our family deserves a break!” So James, his wife and their kids head home to face another week. Sunday morning rolls back around and the same debate takes place. Some weeks they make it to services, some weeks they don’t. All the while James faces the everyday trials at work, he sees the temptations his kids go through (and many times give into), and he looks at the frustrations his wife deals with on a daily basis. All the while he knows he needs to be the spiritual provider, he knows their family needs to be the best Christian family they can be, he knows they need God’s word in their life, and he knows they all need the encouragement of the saints. But James, after a long frustrating week says to himself, “Sunday morning is good enough for me!”

          We work so hard to fulfill our dreams and goals in life. Those things that are important to us as humans become the number one priority. As a Christian, shouldn’t we, like a boxer or doctor, take every opportunity to achieve our goal…our priority? After all, our goal is greater than achieving fame as a boxer or a name as a doctor. We have the ultimate goal of a home in heaven. When we only come to worship Sunday morning, and do nothing else for our faith, will we achieve this goal? I hope you will consider attending worship not only Sunday morning, but each and every opportunity given. After all, what better way to make it through this tough life than with encouragement from each other and God’s word daily in our life!   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Respect & Preparation: Essentials of Christian Living

Two qualities we must have in order to succeed are respect and preparation. It does not matter what you are trying to accomplish - these qualities are a must. Since the Super Bowl is right upon us, let us take football as an example.

In order to succeed in football, you need to first and foremost have respect for the game. After all, you did not create the game, did you? An athlete might think, “We could win if I threw this ball forward after the catch”. Even though he thinks this, it does not mean it works. In the end, if he throws the ball forward after the catch the team will be penalized. Respect is needed to succeed in football. 

Preparation is the second quality needed. As fans, we all too often insult players for their “bad plays”. We say things like, “Come on! I could’ve made that tackle!”, but if we’re honest with ourselves we really couldn’t “make that tackle.” Why? Because we have not prepared like an athlete has. Preparation is a key to any success we wish to have. 

Are we here to talk about football? No, but it does illustrate a key principle in our Christian walk. How many times have we gotten in a “spiritual argument” with someone and neglected to quote or reference one text from scripture to solidify our point? We have all heard or participated in these self-authoritative arguments before, haven’t we? The problem with this debating technique is threefold: 1. It shows lack of respect for God’s word as the authority (we have become the authority). 2. It shows lack of preparation from God’s word on our par.t 3. It is entirely ineffective in winnings souls to Christ. 

Instead, our lives need to convey what Peter was saying in 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

As Christians, we must respect God’s word for what it is, the authority over our lives (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If it is the authority over our lives that means it no longer matters what “I think” or what “I say.” The question becomes how do we live and speak with a proper respect for God’s authority? The answer is preparation. Peter earlier said, “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:15). 

The point is that we need to get back to God’s word. As Christians, our response to those questioning our doctrines mustn’t be, “well I think”, or “that’s what my preacher says,” or “this is what our church teaches.” We need to have a proper respect and work ethic in regards to God’s word. Imagine the impact there would be if every Christian gave a scriptural reference or quotation when defending the faith! Respect and preparation shown through our words or actions will silence the onslaught of nitpickers (e.g. Titus 2:8), and glorify our God in heaven (e.g. 1 Peter 4:11). So let us respect God’s word, and prepare our minds with His teachings!   

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Benefit of the Doubt

How many times has it caught me? Way too many times. I’m talking about the trap of negative thinking. What is he trying to say? Was she looking at me funny? I can just tell they don’t like me. Sometimes we mistake random actions, tones of voice and facial expressions as an act of defiance or dislike by its person. Not only do we think these thoughts, but sometimes we are certain of them as if they are fact.

When we come to these conclusions through mere speculation, we dangerously approach sin ourselves. We need to realize some qualities about love. Paul says that love, “…believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NASB). If we claim to have love for individuals, but rapidly come to negative conclusions based on no valid, solid evidence - or any whatsoever, then we are rejecting what true love is all about.

Love does not jump to negative conclusions about people. Instead, it believes in those individuals. Love does not dwell on unproven feelings, but hopes for the best in people. Love does not give up on souls, but endures until there is nothing to endure for.  Love does not discard relationships or people from no proven evidences – instead it sees the best in people.

Chances are that the person actually does like you – they may just be shy. Chances are that an individual didn’t look at you weirdly – they were just lost in thought. Chances are that they are actually good people – you just need to take the time to get to know them. Let’s choose to give people the benefit of the doubt, because that is what love does!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who Am I?

Who am I? Am I good? Am I bad? Can I be pleasing to God? When asking these questions, have you ever thought about what the usual criterions are that we use to determine who we are? 

Whenever determining who we are, sometimes we base our judgment off words from the past. Some might have come from pasts where different relationships have psychologically determined their fate by harshness. Maybe you are the one whose spouse has conveyed their hatred of you. Maybe you are the one whose parents have displayed their shame of you. Whatever the case, many individuals seem to be steered by what is or is not expected of them as a person. If we’re not careful, who we are can be determined by what is ingrained in us. 

Whenever determining who we are, sometimes we base our judgment off sins in the past. You know the sin I’m talking about - the one that immediately comes to mind while reading this. We know that all sin (Romans 3:23), but sometimes we feel that we have really sinned…that sin that makes us feel filthy, and horrible. Yes, sometimes we look at those awful sins in our past and if we’re not careful, who we are will be determined by these past sins. 

It seems we live in a world that is very superstitious.  No, you do not need to believe in witches and ghosts to be superstitious. Sometimes I think we humans base everything on chance: sometimes the cards are dealt in your favor, but usually, they’re not. The problem with us humans is that we too readily allow experiences to govern our lives. When we’re told who we need to be through abuse and harsh words, we willingly follow. When we give into temptation and really mess up here and there, then we are set to be sinners the rest of our lives. 

Thankfully, God doesn’t love, forgive and accept by chance. Jesus willingly gave up His life for filthy and worthless sinners. Jesus gave up His life to present us with, not fate or chance, but a choice of who we want to be. I am reminded of the words of Joshua when he said, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15, NASB). Like Joshua gave the choice to the children of Israel, so we have a choice of whom we will serve. 

Who am I? Well, the answer is up to each and every one of us. We cannot allow past experiences determine our fate. Instead, may all of us say, as Joshua himself said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Who am I? I am a servant who follows God and His word…what about you?