Thursday, July 24, 2008

He Will Rise up in the End

In need of some hope today? Listen to the new song from Ben Shive entitled "Rise Up". The song is chock full of hope, and it keeps reminding me that my future is certain with Christ. Here are a few snippets of lyrics from the song...

Every stone that makes you stumble,
and cuts you when you fall,
Every serpent here that strikes your heel
to curse you when you fall,
the King of Love one day will crush them all

He will rise up in the end,
He will rise up in the end,
I know you need a Savior,
and He is patient in His anger,
but He will rise up in the end.

go listen to it, go


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You have heard that it was Said

Tonight found me browsing through parts of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and I came across these few verses which really leapt out to me:

You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

It wasn't so much the first part that shook me awake as the line: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?...I started realizing how directly this hits home. With these few simple verses, I am indicted for living out the part-time gospel. The part-time gospel of loving and encouraging those who are easy to encourage, but shying away from the hard-to-relate-to people. It's exactly what I'm guilty of. These verses plucked the right string in my heart, and really sent encouragement to a new place inside of me, helping me realize that we can't sell the gospel short. It's too rich and too deep to be dealt with in such a manner.

Loving your enemies is hard. Praying for people you severely dislike is hard. But with the strength of the Lord, it is possible. Thank goodness I don't have to rely on my shallow resources of strength, but that I can draw from the deep well of strength available in Christ.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Puzzle Pieces

It started routinely enough. After getting my feet muddy, I gingerly made my way to the shower to get cleaned up. It took a little while to get all the little mud splotches, but sure enough after some careful scrubbing i was as clean as I was before I met the mud. But something clicked right then and there, something that had been marinating in my head and in my heart, unbeknownst to me.

In that moment all the fragments came together, and the light-bulb went off in my head. It was kind of like the feeling I got as a kid when I would finally get a math problem after 30 minutes of attempts.

Everything became clear in that moment. I suddenly put the puzzle pieces together, and the picture was amazing. It was a picture of transformation. All that God had been leading me to was an understanding of transformation.

Life is full of tiny little flags that bear witness to the transformation that God is all about. And I stumbled across one when i was cleaning the mud off my feet. I went from dirty to clean, a kind of transformation on a small scale. Even the act of growing up is that of transformation. We are these frail, tiny beings who become bigger with years. Summer gives way to Fall. Fall gives way to Winter. Winter holds firm until Spring shoots out of the ground. It's all an act of transformation.

Transformation is all around me. It's encoded in the DNA of life. We are made to know God. It takes a transformation for that to occur though. And my, how beautiful it is to see the transformation of a soul yielding itself to Christ.

All of it came crashing down on me at once: God is in the business of transformation.

the old shall become new. put on the new self of Christ. therefore i consider myself crucified with Christ, but yet I live.

It ALL points to transformation, to God willfully and powerfully transforming us into something beautiful. This is something I want to pursue with my life. Not changing people's minds but engaging in the business of the soul, in the business of transformation, which is the specialty of God himself.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Olympics

Back in the day, I ran on my high school's track team. I competed in a bunch of different events, from the short sprints to several field events. I loved the mental aspect of running, how it was just you out there, running against the clock. Our coach reminded us over and over that until the district meet, we were merely running against the clock, not against our other competitors. See, we were a small school, and we ran in the big meets. So if we worried too much on our place, it would be hard to find the motivation to stay competitive. Instead, our coach kept telling us that we were competing against our personal bests. As a result, many times I'd be ecstatic after running a new personal best, even though I was 4th or 5th overall.

My time on the track team taught me a lot about competing, and a lot about life. Track's mainly an individual sport, but there's the team aspect too, and if you don't train and run well, you end up hurting the team. Track taught me in concrete terms what discipline is, what commitment is all about, and how to take joy in the simple things.

And now we're only a month or so away from the Olympic games. I can hardly wait to watch all the different competitions. There's always something special about watching the olympics, and it doesn't even matter what you're watching. I would never choose to watch gymnastics, diving, or swimming races on a regular day, but because its the Olympics, these events transform into something more exciting, more dramatic. Maybe it's because there's so much riding on each performance. Maybe it's the knowledge that every competitor has trained their whole life for those few simple moments. Whatever it is, it's incredible to watch.

I can't wait.