Thursday, January 22, 2009

Skeptics... am I among them?

Today I was studying John 6:30-7:13. This passage talks about skeptics. In John 6:60, many of the disciples began to complain about Jesus’ teaching. It was too hard for them to swallow. The only reason they hung around up to this point was because they saw a miracle and got a free meal. (Of fish and bread, Yummo!) Jesus has been telling them that the bread of life comes from heaven and that this bread is his flesh, which he would eventually “give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) He goes on to tell them in verse 62, “So what if you see me ascend back up to heaven to be with God? All this I’m telling you is of the Sprit, which gives life, which came from the Father. You think you might believe then? Not likely!” (Very loose paraphrase!) Of course Jesus already knew who would believe and who wouldn’t.

Then a little later, as Jesus went around Galilee—perhaps teaching here and there, but avoiding the ones who wanted him killed—even his own brothers began to show their skepticism. They sarcastically tell him he should go to Judea and do some miracles. “If you want to become a public figure, don’t you think you should start putting on a show?” (Loose paraphrase of John 7:4) They wanted him to draw attention to himself and start being the Savior they thought he should be.

In both cases, the “offenders” were half-hearted believers who couldn’t buy into the idea that Jesus is the bread of life or that he is the Savior on God’s terms and not theirs. This is my conviction!

How often do I choose to not obey because God’s Word is too hard to swallow?
How often do I become a little sarcastic about what Jesus is trying to teach me!
How often do I half-heartedly seek God not really expecting that He’ll be there to meet me?
How often do I skeptically pray, not really expecting to receive an answer?

What do you come up with if you ask yourself these questions?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Wellspring of Life

I’ve been listening to Podcasts called John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart. John Eldredge is the creator of Ransomed Heart Ministries and author of the book “Wild at Heart.” In his book as well as during many of his Podcasts, John quotes Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above all else, guard you heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” I don’t think that ever clicked with me until today.

I was studying John 6:34-40 today and the light bulb went on.

34"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty, 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me: that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day."

Look at verse 35. When we think of going hungry or thirsty, we immediately think in the physical sense, as did the people whom Jesus was addressing. In considering what Christ is saying about our fulfillment of life and personality in this passage, I got this picture in my mind the heart being our “spiritual stomach.”

When we’re hungry we go to the fridge and grab a snack and when we’re thirsty we grab a bottle of water; which in turn satisfies our needs for sustenance. In the same way, when our spiritual stomach—a.k.a. the heart—is empty, we can go to the Lord to fill it. We do that first by believing in Him who was sent (v 37). He will never turn us away. And then we eat the bread of life daily, just as the Israelites did in the desert when they were starving and God fed them with manna.

The only way to guard our hearts from the enemy’s attacks is to surrender them to Christ and eat of the bread of life! I’m such a fool for thinking I could find my food to fill my starving heart!

Have a good day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So how do we find joy in all this?

Below is my ever-so-wise wife's response to my last posting "What the Heck is Going On?"

So how do I find joy in all this?

We would do our selves a good service if we did not expect to find joy in the circumstances of life but rather in the relationship we have with Christ. James said to count it all joy when we meet trials, not in the trials themselves. Without trials we would never fully understand how great our need for God is and how great God is to meet us at the place of our need. If we spend our time seeking to find Godly validation for worldly thinking then our trials will quickly consume us and we will be ineffective, joyless Christians. But if we chose to walk in obedience to God no matter what the situation we will be strong, effective, joy filled Christians. Remember – “As long as I say my problem (or sin) is caused by somebody else, I will never confess my shortcomings and receive God’s forgiveness.”

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

(Man she's good. I should just have her write this blog.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

What the heck is goin' on?

Okay, I’m pretty sure that I know what the heck the deal is, but I have to vent! What the heck is going on? The last couple of months have been weird.

First, with all the recent snow and then the immediate melting, which occurred twice I’ve discovered many leaks in my house. I have two foundation leaks, on opposite sides of the house. Not on the same side, but opposite sides. And in order to fix one of the leaks, I’ll more than likely have to demo the concrete walkway that runs along the front of my house to get to it. In addition to that, I have at least one leak, possibly two, in my one year old roof and I’ve not had luck locating the person who did the roof for me to fix it.

Next, I was “temporarily” laid off from my job last week, so these maintenance issues are not going to be immediately fixed until my income returns to the previous amount. Who knows when that will be?

Next, my new daughter- in- law had a falling out with her mother, with whom she lived while going to culinary school. After informing her mother she and my son were married, a conflict erupted that turned a little physical. Needless to say, our son and daughter-in-law are here with us for the time being. And of course this will effect her grade.

Rewind a little bit to last month. My daughter who lives in Southeast Idaho was recently cited for leaving the scene of an accident and driving without privileges after she accidently and unknowingly hit a car in her apartment parking lot. Her suspended driver’s license stems from a no seat belt ticket that she received in WASHINGTON, not Idaho, yet the state of Idaho suspended her license in IDAHO, because she had not yet paid the seat belt ticket in WASHINGTON. Figure that one out! To add insult to injury, today she was fired from her job at the Idaho State Hospital after the police officer show up at her work to confront her about leaving the scene of an accident.

Now as you read this, you may think to yourselves that worse has happened to other folks and its true. Worse has happened to other folks, i.e. my brother whose wife was diagnosed with brain cancer before Thanksgiving of 2007 and then passed away 2 months later. That’s a bad thing to have happen and these things seem pale in comparison. However that doesn’t diminish the impact these things are having on me, my wife, and my family.

To top things all off, my wife and I have not been getting along very well due to many things, but mainly because of selfishness on my part.

I know why these things happen. First, choices we make every day have an impact on our lives, whether good or bad. This is why we must think and pray before we make major decisions, and even small decisions. And second, John 10:10a says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy;” The enemy is around us all the time attempting to spur us to anger and self-destruction. If he can destroy the family, he can destroy the church; and if he destroys the church, he destroys God’s testimony; thereby taking many people down with him.

The real test here is how we handle the trials. Remember James said in chapter 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So how do I find joy in all this?