About Me

I'm somewhat introverted, I'm a voracious reader, and I love a good conversation. My interests and activities can be found on the right side of the page. My life goal is to use the gifts and talents God has bestowed on me to glorify Him and benefit others.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Truth + Relationships = Good Witness

Went to Founder's Week on Saturday to hear Josh McDowell speak.

The conference was held in an extremely opulent church constructed back in the 1800s. The impressive, expansive sanctuary had awesome acoustics, which served the well-dressed choir well, carrying every note clearly to the thousand-plus audience.
The girls were dressed in either black or red dresses, and all the guys wore tuxes. The pit orchestra was excellent as well (not that that means much coming from me, a non-musician).

While all this was impressive, the message that Josh presented reminded me that even with today's impressive seminars, church buildings and presentations, the church still boils down to one essential ingredient: "believers in our Lord Jesus Christ."

The main theme that he stressed throughout his speech was "truth in the context of relationships." He drove home the point of how we can shove the truth down people's throats, we can be right, we can win arguments, but "if we don't have love, we are nothing."

Consider this: Jesus "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2) What was it that caused so many to pay attention to Jesus's witness? Was it the impressive majesty of his surroundings? Somehow I doubt the hillsides he preached on inspired the awe of some of the jaw-dropping structures of his day.
Did he employ a popular band that topped the Billboard Tablets to draw his crowds? Uh, sorry, but no.

What caused so many people to pay attention to Jesus's witness was, partly, that he went against the grain. Rather than judge people against an elitist, impossible-to-live-up-to rulebook like the other religious leaders of his day, Jesus showed his love for the individual people around him by healing them, instructing them, and, ultimately, dying for them (and us!!!)

Now don't misunderstand, seminars, bands, and church buildings can be very instrumental in winning souls and discipling people. They just shouldn't be the emphasis. After all, we live in an entertainment culture. We're bombarded by an onslaught of television, radio, and other media almost 24/7. People get tired of entertainment. They hop from one thing to another looking for REALISM. That is, truth in the context of relationships.

Aha! Now we've finally come full circle.

Iamgine what our youth groups and churches would be like if we as a church, corporately and individually, changed our focus from entertainment and programs to meaningful relationships with others around us, with God as the center.

You would see less of the "clique-ish" behavior that unfortunately characterizes many youth groups.

Rather than seeijng people take up a seat on Sunday morning and return home unfulfilled, you would see people returning home with their needs met, motivated to change the world around them, knowing that God as well as a strong group of believers has got their backs.

You would consequently see the world sit up and take notice at the paradigm shift in the church, and more and more people would see the church as a sincere group of believers, willing to stand alongside them through their troubles as well as instruct them in their Christian walk.

With this in mind, make it a point this week to get involved with the people around you in a meaningful way, sharing God's truth in the context of relationships. Realize that the best thing you can give your peers isn't cutting edge entertainment or a killer performance, but rather time well spent, devotion to the individual people that will cause the world around you to sit up and take notice of how much you care for them. Remember, there are only two things that matter in this world: God and people (and in that order!). God Bless.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Of Psalms and Homework-Inspired Horror Films (But Mostly Psalms). ;-)-

Has anybody out there been feeling really crummy lately, like hardly anybody gives a rip about ya? Unfortunately, that's been my attitude lately. But on Monday night, I picked up my Bible for the first time in a long time (at least, in a non church-related environment). I found some really cool encouragement in Psalm 73 and 77. Psalm 73 reads:

Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possesion of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
and drink waters in abundance.
They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"
This is what the wicked are like-
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure;
in vain I have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
...Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
I was literally just flipping through Psalms on Monday night, and this Psalm just encouraged me so very much. It's my favorite Psalm now. ;-)- The section in bold illustrates exactly the way I've thought for the past six months or so. It's so awesome to find a passage that describes your life perfectly; it's so encouraging amidst times of trial. But you know what? I probably would never have gotten this encouragement if my amazingly incredible girlfriend Vanessa had not encouraged me to read my Bible earlier that day. This just illustrated to me how important it is for us as Christians to have like-minded friends that will encourage us in our walk with Christ and not distract us from it. Something to think about. Anyways, I just thought I'd share that with y'all, hope it encourages ya. Anyways, I g2g...there's a voice in the back of my head whispering to me : "Do your homework, or else!!!" ;-)- Like something out of a low-budget but yet still oddly freaky horror film. Weird. Maybe Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth should stop making gory slashers and produce a film based on the aftermath of students not doing their homework and watching it all pile up, until they're finally, exonerably buried alive in an ever-deepening grave of college ruled notebook paper and exams. I think the Jigsaw Killer would be far freakier if he simply assigned unrealistic, ridiculous amounts of complex homework to his victims as part of his sick, twisted games. Jason, meet your match: the homework-obsessed college professor. Lol. TTYL.
Slim Shaney