My breaking heart for the breaking hearts

This is sort of one of those posts that I have with not much direction but just a regurgitation of my thoughts and feelings that I want to share with whomever may stumble upon my blog. This is not my effort to build myself up or to get people to respect me more for feeling this way about others. This is simply an outpouring or overflowing of the thoughts and emotions that God is placing on my heart at this very time and moment. These thoughts are actually not mine at all. You see as a follower of Christ we are called to live as Christ lived. To talk as Christ talked and to love as Christ loved. Over the past few months as I have lived in closer gospel community, as I have listened more and more to God, as I have read about Jesus and what he taught, I have gradually felt myself feeling some very strong feelings about the state of this world, I have also found myself looking at the world through the lens of the gospel. This is not always a pleasant state to be in. When our hearts become more and more like Christ we begin to feel some of the things that he feels. And if I had to look at myself everyday from God’s eyes I would be pretty discouraged at what I saw. But then again this is me being harsh on myself, actually God does look at me with hope, with compassion and with love. Not because of what I have done for him, not because of things I’ve said, or things I’ve prayed, or songs I’ve sung to him. No, because he sees me as his child, because he died for me, because he gave up his son for me. Because I was worth dying for. Because you were worth dying for. Because of the substitution that took place on the cross, God looks at us in our most dirty, horrendous state of fleshly being and says we are his still. Ok, I rabbit trailed a bit. Back to my original thought.

I have been thinking alot lately about my place in this world, namely my place in God’s kingdom. I have been trying to live with a kingdom mindset. But I want to confess something. I have not been willing to be bold enough to live it out. I am currently involved in a weekly missional group through church. Our group called a “cross-group” has been meeting every Monday night. Our focus is to learn to be true disciples. To truly be missional in our community. We have focused on areas such as reaching out to our apartment complexes, our families, co-workers, classmates, and anybody we meet along the way. I love this mindset, I love being missional minded and always looking for a way to live in a Christ-like way and to bless others around us. Unfortunately I am a sinner and I am a coward at times. As much as I love this thought process and this idea, I have had a difficult time getting myself to live it. To get rid of my strong appetite for comfort. I have become like this world in that I cannot go out of my way to help somebody out if I think they are inconveniencing me. Anyway, this is something that I am constantly repenting of. Something I have asked others to hold me accountable to. I want to live as Christ lived and not just think as Christ thought. I want to be a doer, a goer, a blesser, a life-giver. Thats what Christ was and is still today and its what he commands us to be.

I have noticed a trend lately in how God is speaking to me. I believe he is speaking to me by giving me a heightened awareness for those that are broken. Its all around me lately, its actually haunted me at times, its in my dreams, my drive to work, my morning coffee with a friend. Its in the sermon every Sunday morning. Its on the tv, the radio and the internet. Its the realization that satan has a hold on many people in this world. Its the turning of people’s thoughts and motivations towards things that only bring them temporary happiness. People all around us are chasing after the american dream, the temporary fulfillment in alcohol, sex, drugs, music, food, cars, clothes, movies, sports, incomes, job titles, health, marital status and on and on. A little update on my life and where I am at. I recently began a new job working as a case manager in the area of juvenile services. I am in the midst of training and have lots of training to go, but this has been a huge eye opener for me. I have been in this field for about 2 and half years now serving in various roles but it hasn’t been until now that God is opening my eyes and breaking my heart for these people that I will be serving. I admit, in the past I just worked this job to have a job, with little compassion or sense of deep gospel meaning to the work I’ve done. I am super excited for God’s work in this area and for my new role. I feel God moving in this and am standing ready to be used by him to bless these people. I talked a little about the missional community I have been involved in with my wife. Its been a great blessing. I have gone deeper with other men also which has been huge. My friend BJ and I have been meeting up for coffee on Wed. mornings and have had some rich times of just processing God’s calling in our individual lives. Last Wednesday after coffee I was sitting in my car before work outside of the coffee shop when I saw two men walking toward the liquor store. At 8am! They came walking by a little later with a 12 pack of beer. My heart broke in that moment, I wanted to get out of the car and just hug them. This is just one instance of God showing me the broken people around me and giving me compassion for them. Its been very cool to have a heightened awareness for his people like I did that morning. Last night I watched a documentary on Sudanese refugees. I cried when I saw what thousands of boys went through as they walked for five years to a refugee camp because the government ordered troops to kill them. I broke down as I watched some of these young men move to the United States and face some of the learning curves that they faced. One man named John Bol expressed his confusion about our Christmas tradtions. He asked the camera man if the Christmas tree and Santa Claus was in the Bible. He was puzzled. These refugees come to America to have a better life and end up giving up there cultural traditions and views on God for the american dream and the flashing lights and fast cars. It broke me last night to the point that I am praying about how God may include me in ministering or giving relief to refugees here in Lincoln. I just want to love others that way that he calls me to. I want to see the good in people and I want to always remember that God has paid the cost of their sins and fears, and grief and sorrow. My pastor is currently preaching through the beatitudes in Matthew 5 and I have been impacted by those greatly over the past two weeks. Jesus says in Matthew 5:3-4. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. I really want to take this to heart. I am poor in spirit when I think of the broken hearted. My heart breaks for the broken hearted who do not even know that they are brokenhearted. God has truly blessed me to be poor in spirit, to be humbled by the needs of others around me. I pray that I would be useful for the kingdom of God in bringing comfort to those who mourn. Our city is mourning, our country is mourning, our world is in mourning. May they be comforted by the grace of God. May they be comforted by the mercy of Jesus. May we all be used to be light and comfort for those around us.

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Another beautiful prayer from the puritans.

This old puritan prayer from the Valley of Vision spoke much to me tonight. Let it encourage and penetrate your heart.

Lord Jesus, Great High Priest,

Thou has opened a new and living way by which a fallen creature can approach thee with acceptance. Help me to contemplate the dignity of thy person, the perfectness of thy sacrifice, the effectiveness of thy intercession. O what blessedness accompanies devotion, when under all the trials that weary me, the fears that disturb me, the infirmities that oppress me, I can come to thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding! The grace that restores is necessary to preserve, lead, guard, supply, help me. And here thy saints encourage my hope; they were once poor and are now rich, bound and are now free, tried and now are victorious. Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells. To thee I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with thy fullness. May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honour thee by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation. Do thou be with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find thy grace sufficient for all my needs.

The wrong “Wow moment”.

Do you ever have those moments when you are by yourself and you realize just seconds after that moment that you embarrassed yourself in front of yourself?  I had that moment last week as I was on my way to the office and it was very humbling.  I was driving to the office and I saw this car at a car wash and upon seeing it and processing it in my mind for a second I gave a loud WOW!   Now the car is insignificant here but it was a pretty cool 2010 Camaro that had been completely overhauled and turned into a 70s style Pontiac Firebird.

Just seconds after the embarrassing outburst I was convicted that I too often give a vibrant “wow” toward things that just aren’t that awesome in the grand design of God.  I immediately said to myself why don’t I verbalize my wonder at Christ’s sacrifice, at the living word of God, at seeing someone show compassion and love to someone in need, or the opposite,  at my fallen sin nature.  It always comes back to that idolatry factor and the world factor.  There is so much around us daily that captures our finite human minds and whips us into marveling at what is false and fading.  Truth is that that car will one day be rusted in a junk yard with rats and roaches living in it.  I want to “wow” at what is true and infinite and unchanging and divine.  Lord help my mind think of you in a “wow” way, teach me to not be satisfied by metal and paint, or tv or music, or food and clothes but by your mysterious, all-powerful , all-knowing nature.

What has you saying wow?

Oh! Great is our God!

This summer my wife and I went to Seattle for our honeymoon and attended Mars Hill Church Ballard campus to hear Mark Driscoll preach.  The night was amazing, not only was the sermon encouraging and uplifting but the music was awesome as well.  Here is a song that was played that night as hundreds worshipped Jesus.  Enjoy!

Oh! Great is our God! by The Sing Team at Mars Hill Church

Redeeming your college religion class.

My wife is taking an introductory religion class and mentioned to me tonight how she has been wrestling with the writing in her book and how she often finishes her study time feeling more confused and frustrated than confident in what she learned.  She light-heartledly asked me if God was maybe testing her through this class.  This reminded me of something I had heard from a pastor about redeeming our everday lives by placing Christ at the center of whatever it  may be that we are doing.  In this case I told her to remember to redeem her time studying for this class. 

As Christ followers we can redeem many areas of our lives and live in the world as we fight daily to remain not of the world.  This is applicable in your daily secular or christian job, your time studying for a physics final, or playing golf with a group of non-christian friends, or in my wife’s case while reading her textbook for her Intro to Western Civilization class on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  We are living in a world of diverse beliefs and thoughts about the origins of our existence and our purpose on this earth and a college campus is no different in fact it is a breeding ground for satan to challenge and deceive us.  It is a daily struggle against the lies of the enemy that wants to tempt and deceive us.  I encouraged my wife to watch her life and doctrine in anything she does, in this case as she reads her textbook to turn to the scriptures to counter any confusion she may have.  We must always turn to God’s unchanging truth as we fight to live not of this world but for our eternal resting place.  Our culture today wants us to believe many things about life and issues such as image, food, sex, marriage, wealth, success, identity, gender issues that are in conflict with what we know and believe to be true according to Christ and his word.  This means that we must always be on watch and always have truth in our heads and hearts.  We must have our Bibles open and our faces in our hands as we work these issues out with God.  I must remember daily to trust Christ and ask him to redeem my 9-5, to redeem my golf game, to redeem my husker football watching, to redeem my evenings with my wife, to redeem my conversations with co-workers and friends both of the faith and not.  Life is hard, we are targets in this world and we must watch our life and doctrine closely, this must always begin and end with Christ.

My Hero Ain’t a Hooper.

A 25-year-old man recently chose to join two of his friends in Miami, Florida to pursue an NBA championship.  This man gave seven years to his hometown team and over those seven years he earned hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and in endorsement deals.  He showed up to play basketball every night as fans poured into the stadium and poured out their wallets.  An image of this man hung from a tall building for all to see and to worship.  He had all the fame one individual could ever want, but he was still chasing that dream of an NBA championship that many who have come before him have failed to find.  Do I even need to say his name?  For thousands and possibly millions of people this story had a tragic ending.  LeBron is not the tragedy, free-agency is not the tragedy, self-promotion on national television is not the tragedy here, the tragedy is in the way people have responded to this ordinary event of sports culture.  The tragedy is in the so-called dreams and identities that have been crushed as a result of this man’s “Decision”.

I am not going to get into my thoughts on his decision or my opinions on whether or not he did the right thing.  I do enjoy and appreciate the talent of Lebron James and I will be a casual fan of his new team.   I simply believe that the fans and people who have given their lives and money to worshipping this man have done so in a wasteful fashion and in vain.   Unless Jesus played basketball and rocked Nike’s, no basketball player or global sports icon has every brought salvation to a people through his life and sacrifice and never will.  LeBron is not a King, he is not the chosen one, and we are not all witnesses to his glory.  I enjoy listening to sports talk radio at times and recently it has not been difficult to find someone on the radio talking about the recent free-agency move from LeBron James.  I try to listen to sports radio with a kingdom mindset.  With my mind on the redeeming work of Jesus and how it sovereignly relates to our sports culture today.  The more I listen the more I am bombarded with the idolatry that exists in our culture.  On these sports radio shows the hosts typically take many calls each day from listeners who have something wise (sarcasm) to say concerning the topic being discussed.  During the LeBronathon week many very angry and hurt callers felt it best to call in and make fools of themselves on national radio.  One guy called in and voiced the pain he suffered watching his hero whom he idolized disrespect and abandon his beloved town.  Other callers called in wondering if no loyalty existed in today’s world.  Another caller called in angry because he felt that LeBron owed it to him to stay around.  Another guy was complaining because he had already shelled out the money for season tickets next year to see LeBron play.  Many called in and said they had worshiped LeBron since he was in high school and now he just dumped them.  Did he say he worshiped a high school kid?  Its their own fault that they chose to elevate this player to a god status in their lives.  You worship something false you better be prepared to see if fall and let you down.  This is why we cannot put our hope in sinful human beings, in money, in sports teams.  These people have major identity problems if LeBron’s absence has left them with a sense of lost hope.  This also reveals some pride and entitlement issues in people if they strongly feel that a player they have never met owes them something.

Fortunately for the Christian who has put his identity in the one true God, he does not have to be let down.  He does not have to be owed something.  We already received the maximum gift of love and generosity one could ever need.  Romans 5:8 : but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It is we who owe something to our creator.  We owe him all the glory we can give for his selfless act of taking our place for the horrendous sins in which we deserve eternal hell for.  God is calling us to himself.  Christ wants us to see him as the supreme being in our lives not a basketball player. Paul gives a loving warning in 1 Corinthians 10:14 : Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. God wants us to be eternally satisfied in him and not lose sleep over worrying whether or not he will leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5 : Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This world has an idolatry problem and always will until Christ comes back for his bride and cleans house. Deut. 32:21 says: They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. No manufactured functional savior has ever saved someone from hell or ever will.  We will NEVER be totally satisfied by a player or game, or jersey, it’s all fleeting and will one day drift away like chaff in the wind.  There will always be the next great player, the next big star, the next phenom and next time it comes around let’s be prepared for the worst, be prepared for a worldly figure to follow the world and I promise we will not be so devastated.

This title is from a song by Christian rapper Tripp Lee entitled “Hero-remix”  Who or what is your Hero?

I like breakfast, do you like breakfast?

Please feel free to argue this but I firmly believe that a bowl of cheerios, a banana, and a cup of dark coffee is about as good as it gets on a Sunday morning.

What’s your favorite breakfast combo?