Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jesus, and the Landing on the Moon

I believe in Jesus! Well, of course I do, who doesn't? That's a bit of an odd statement as He was a historical figure regardless of your belief system. Though I suppose if you don't think we landed on the moon, than you may think that Jesus didn't exist either!

However while we may differ on doctrine, as Christians it means (or should mean) that we believe in who He was and said to be; the son of the one true living God.

Yet at times I think it would be nice if Jesus decided to reveal Himself to me (and the world) visually in ways tangible to our simple human understanding. I think it would be great for Him to come down, teach a bit, prove His power, and then head back to the throne. I think that if He really wanted us all to put our trust in Him that He would come down here, walk with us a bit, and just ... well ... prove it! After all, He knows how we were created and knows how we learn and understand. Seeing is believing right? So why not just reveal Himself in a clear simple way!

I mean imagine if He came here (in human form of course), fulfilled some of those prophesies, taught us, and better yet performed some miracles right in front of our human eyes! If we saw that then there would be no doubt. In fact, we would probably joyfully find ourselves persecuted and even die for Him because He would be "that real" to us! Seriously ponder that; imagine if God revealed Himself to us like that.

Perhaps even give Him a name that would be forever remembered ... like ... Jesus.
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 ESV)
God most certainly understands our minds and the need for humanistic proof; and He gave us this proof. Just because it wasn't our generation that was around when He walked this earth in human form and performed all these miracles doesn't make it any less real. He knew what we needed to believe, and He gave it to us.

We are a future generation now:
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)
He knew what we needed, and He gave it to us. Got belief?

Proof? Proof!

His,
~Matt

Drawing Attention

Did you ever start doing something that seemed to draw the attention of others?



I recall various times pulling out my telescope while camping only to have it followed by visitors to my campsite and questions of interest! It's fun to find out that what you enjoy also draws in the attention of others. You get an opportunity to share something that is important to you while at the same time meet someone new. At times some even walked away from my campsite with a seed of interest in a subject that they didn't seem to have before they walked up.

However, I also recall washing my truck in my driveway on a beautiful fall day on time. I was listening to music only to have a frustrated neighbor shout for me to turn down the volume! I didn't recall it being very loud, and this was about noon so I don't think I was out of line; but regardless it certainly drew her attention! It created friction between us as the moment was a bit awkward.

Attention goes both ways.

When it comes to my walk with Christ, I often wonder the same. Does my walk interest people? Does it draw their attention to want to ask questions? Does the way I live make others curious about my faith?

Or perhaps, is it like an obtrusive noise to them? Does it bother them? Make them uncomfortable?

Don't mistake me, Truth should never be compromised or hidden; we don't have the Light so that we can hide It. Truth will always rub some the wrong way. After all, Jesus offended; yet more often He offended those that claimed to know God and walked a very different way. For those that had a need, for those that were curious, for those that had questions; He had the answers and lovingly shared them.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23 ESV)

This passage reminds me of that interest; those that saw something in the living God, and wanted to follow those that knew Him.

While there will always be others that are repelled from His Truth, I simply need to reflect all I can of His love, forgiveness, mercy, servitude, etc. I think authenticity is easily seen, and the converse is true as well. I don't go camping and set up my telescope to draw attention, I do it because it's what I do, it's what I enjoy, and it's part of who I am.

If I simply walk His path, daily; I will be blessed with the opportunity from those that ask questions to share my greatest passion of all, and that is Christ Jesus.

May I continue to be as open and authentic about my love for Christ as I am about my hobbies.

His,
~Matt

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beautification Via Flame

The theme of God calling us His people, and in turn us calling Him our God is something often seen in Scripture. Likewise, the promise of us calling upon Him and His name, and Him answering that call is also seen often. However in Zechariah we see this theme coupled with another theme, and one that is not so comfortable:
“And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
(Zechariah 13:7-9 ESV)
While the process of going through fire can obviously cause pain (I don't really know how it wouldn't cause pain), His goal is not to give us this pain; His goal is to refine us. When I dicipline my children, I know it hurts them; yet my wish is to refine them, help them grow, and learn to understand right from wrong. The pain that goes along with that often hurts me I'm sure more than it hurts them.

This passage, especially the preceding verses is prophetic in a messianic sense, yet it still speaks of that process of refinement, the same type of refinement (testing) that we see in 1 Peter:
"so that the tested genuineness of your faith more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:7 ESV)
For me, these passages are a call and a reminder about where my path is heading if I wish to follow Him. I have and will continue to have refining fires in my life as He sees fit. Though too often I think of the easy (yet very painful answers) when it comes to what fires and trials look like in my life; like loosing a family member, my health, my job, etc. Yes these can be trials, and He may use them to refine me, but I don't think it is those events He uses most often, but rather events of submission.

Walking away from my job to choose a path that He is calling me to can be a fire that when tested at a distance seems a little too hot to jump into. Giving a truly sacrificial gift to someone you are being called to give it to when you are struggling yourself can be quite the fire as well. Showing His character of love and peace to a family member, friend, or coworker who continues to persecute you can be a fire that pushes you to the edge.

Yet as a follower, we are told not to fear:
"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)
Let us not forget that His fires don't leave us with scars, but leave us transformed. They don't disfigure us, they make us more beautiful!

Father, may you grant me the courage to not fear Your fires. While difficult times will certainly come upon me, and painful events will hurt me, Your fires don't leave me burned, but leave me transformed. Father, whatever it takes, make me like Jesus.

Yours,
~Matthew

Friday, July 15, 2011

Coffee Beans and Jesus

Does coffee wake you up? Get you going? Revive you? For years I loved the smell of coffee, but couldn't stand the stuff when it hit my lips. I went my entire life disliking the popular beverage, only to find myself a few months ago acquire a taste for that rich bean like I never thought I would! It's a rather nonsensical explanation on my part that led me to start drinking it (and yes, I prefer it black!) but aside from the process of change for me, it's something I really enjoy now. Something that in the morning, especially with a newborn in the house, gets me out of the fog and tastes pretty delicious in the process!

It occurred to me this evening that Jesus is quite the pick-me-up too. You see a few minutes ago, after finally getting my two middle children down for bed, I plopped on the couch to put in my latest red envelope arrival (that would be a Netflix movie for you non-reds!). Well, over the past few weeks with being so busy with the new baby, my devotion and meditation time has suffered a bit; frankly any me time has been hard to come by as you can imagine. I thought about taking that time to pray, read, or journal, but I really wanted to watch that movie! After all, I only have an hour or two before I need to crash for bed.

So I decided that I'd at least take a few minutes to pray before I started the movie. After all, if I throw God a few minutes first then I wouldn't feel guilty about watching that movie right? :)

That's when it hit me all over again; the difference between a religion and a relationship. Some roll their eyes when I say those words, but until you experience it, you just won't understand. All these past months and years building our relationship has laid a foundation that is beyond words to describe. In the quiet of my basement, I closed my eyes, opened my heart to Him, and begin to talk and ask Him in. So quickly He filled up my heart with joy, peace, and excitement beyond anything that a coffee bean can do to me in the morning. Suddenly that movie was out of my mind and the desire to simply sit, talk, relax, and reflect with Him was consuming me.

I'll have another chance to watch that movie, but for now, I'm going to spend some more time with Him. Know that I will be praying for many of you by name, and anyone who happens to read these words over the next hour. I pray you come to know Him more through your own journey. Pray, talk to Him, build that relationship; He is the way ...
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." (Romans 12:12 ESV)
His,
~Matthew
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