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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Within the transparent frame of relevance is a picture that can be sustained only by the Divine.  He who moves, and breathes, and holds all things together.  It cannot be to anyone’s astonishment then when Christ graces His joint heirs with small sights of heaven.  Silent whispers that all is well.  To quote the great Spurgeon who was used mightily by God to proclaim the glory of God, “The cause is safe.  The King is on His throne!”

It was one of these moments that graced my friend.  She is Penny, for all intents and purposes.  She had been searching for grace, seeking for God when He spoke to her through another woman of high intellect.

Penny was reading a magazine when she noticed a book titled “A Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  Penny was inspired by the insight alluded to in this book and wanted to read more.

The story of how she obtained it is a small gift in and of itself.  But that’s not my story.

She showed the book to me and I glanced at the cover.  I am not sure of this has come across in my writing as of yet but I tend to be a snobby reader.  I dismissed “The Shack” for its reviews.  I have refused and mocked “Chicken Soup for the Soul” due to its “feel good message.”  I have looked down on J. K. Rowling for her use of the name “Light putter outer in the first of her famous novels, the first being for young readers.  I am cavalier in my reading habits at times.  I have probably hurt many with my careless critiques.

What I saw in the cover was a weak, sentimental, poorly thought out book based on drivel and emotions.  I saw the blue sky and thought weak.  I saw the birds nest and thought fragile.  I saw “inspirational” all over it, filled with white puffy clouds, rainbows, and bunny rabbits.”

Yet, because I trusted Penny, because I knew her reading habits were not to be dismissed, I opened to a random page of the book.  There before me read a quote by none other than C.S. Lewis.  I lifted my brow and looked farther.  There was a quote by Tolkien.  Two men I admired for their person and their writing were here in the same book by this Canadian woman of whom I have never heard of before.

Not sure how to feel about the book now, I glanced down at her writing.  Mrs. Voskamp slowly wrapped me within her writing with words that flowed and sentences that breathed.  Her writing was exquisite and her prose beautiful.  Her imagery was captivating and her wisdom silencing.  I almost could see Selah after every paragraph.

I was expecting fluffy rabbits and saw instead what Christ could inspire, the beauty He could bring about.  The joy inside the words are not dependant on events but mere thankfulness of Christ, who He is, and What He has done.  My Pastor summed it up quite nicely, “For every thought of yourself, think ten times upon Christ.”

Look back at my writings and you will see that this is something that resonated with me profoundly.  In the darkness of my mind, joy had become a foreign entity.  It is only just recently that I have been relearning what it is to be “happy”.  Emotions have been finding their resting place ransacked and rifled through in my life.  They are just learning to settle.  And now comes a woman who shows me a book where the Author eloquently and succinctly writes that “We are not to base our faith in Christ, our Joy, our happiness on events or others.  We are to look unto Christ and base those things we search for most upon Him.”  How amazing is that?!  In a world where calamity and death are about every turn we can turn away from that and in our pain be thankful for Christ!

It hearkens back to “Desiring God” by John Piper (though her words are more beautiful than his).

This is something I feel my parents have been trying to drive home my whole life.  They have tried to raise me in God and only now are some of their lessons becoming reality in my life.  So, sorry Mom.  I was listening but I finally get it.

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I once heard the words of this title from a friend who writes far more than I do. He was explaining to another friend why he writes. Why he endlessly places words he hears onto paper (or the screen). Why he pulls words from the air and makes sense of them. He said, “If I don’t, I will die!” Not that his heart is laced with a sensor that, should he stop writing, will induce a heart attack. No. It’s in his blood. It’s how he processes the world.

Another friend of mine recently wrote a blog entry. Her second one. And in telling me about it, exclaimed, “I didn’t know I had it in me!” Well, she did. But what drew it out of her? Perhaps a tinge of what my first friend said. “If I didn’t, I would die.”

I have been wanting to write. I need to write. It hasn’t felt right though. Not quite. I suppose it never will. Thus, I sit here and wrestle with my mind. I take control of that which has been deadened by a day at work and a good .5 MG of Lorazepam. I push back the fog and look at what has been taken. These words I will write will be ripped from their rest. It will be a bloody mess, and I will hurt from it. These words wanted to be buried with me in death. Ironically they wanted to die instead of fulfill their purpose-keep me from death.

Because if I don’t, I will die!

I have always been fascinated by a good story. I have always had a book that I was never quite finished, thanks to my penchant for reading three or more books at a time. Ever since I read about a boy named Dick and his friend Jane watching their dog Spot (who could apparently run), I always craved conflict, near-defeat, action, excitement, and resolution. I wanted dearly to see how a character would react to a certain situation. How would Robin Hood deal with the sheriff? Would Arthur turn a blind eye to Lancelot and his love? I would read into the dead of night to find out how Tom and Huck saved their friend, Jim.

As I read these stories, I saw something laced between the words. I saw love. Robin and Marian. Tom and Becky. James T. Kirk and…well, yeah. And then I met her. The girl I knew I was supposed to be with. The girl I would eventually save from near and utter destruction. We were in 8th grade and she wouldn’t say a single word to me. I realized there was something more than me just wanting to hang out with her. I had these weird feelings for her. Why did I want to save her? Then I realized what it was. I liked her! I was Robin and she was Marian!

For various reasons, it did not work out. And by various, I mean she did not like me. (In hind site, I’m thankful she didn’t.) But I had opened a door. I wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship. What did Robin Hood feel with Marian? Well, I knew what he felt. Love. It said so on those white pages. And Robin was happy being in love. It would mean heartache but it would propel him to heights unknown. I wanted that. For if I claimed it, I would be happy. And so started my quest to attain happiness through love.

The years passed. I learned about God, life, and a plethora of other things. People passed in and out of my life, some to stay, some for a season. And always, the quest for love was in my mind. It started to become an obsession. It started to fuel my life. I figured ways to finish my quest. And like clock work, they all failed. During this time, I heard God calling me. Asking for my heart. I gave Him a lot. But not my quest. Not my desire for love. That was mine. I would hold onto that thank you very much.

So God did the only thing left for Him to do to get my attention. He let me have what I wanted. And I thought I met my Marian. Unfortunately, I had met my Guinevere. As my world ceased to function around me, as my mind started to break down, I had two alternatives. I could continue and be pulled into the black hole I was at the edge of. Or I could turn to my God and dig in.

I chose the latter.

God did the rest.

The pain was unbearable. He bore it for me.

The loneliness was deep. He was infinite.

I was broken. He was able to do what He needed then.

I finally learned what I needed to learn all along. My quest for happiness in love from a woman was doomed for failure from the beginning. I was looking for a finite handful of mud to fill the infinite hole within my soul. I would never find it here. I could only find it in Christ, who is my portion, and His love. True love, not the love of the moment.

I want to be satisfied in Christ. Then all else can fall into place. I want to fill my needs and desires with the love of Christ.

I have found myself looking to media to satisfy me. To relieve the darkness within me, to chase away the depression. But as I turn to that, to the need for a story, I find I need more and more to fill me. I need deeper, bigger, newer. I’m looking for something. And I feel as if this quest will determine my life as it has before with the search for Plato’s “the one”.

I was tempted to use a recent event in my life to doubt that God had the best planned for me. I found myself going back to the quest for happiness in a relationship.

But I will not let that happen this time. I will follow John Piper’s advice and make war against my “old man”. That is not how I will act from here on out. I am not going to find what I need in a relationship or a person. I will not find it in that single moment at the climax of a chick flick when the two loves run to each others arms.

That wont’, can’t, satisfy me.

I cannot let my life be determined by a single event or a set of circumstances. I cannot let my faith in God be determined by the outcome of following Him, as if I deserved recompense for laying down self and chasing after God. Though I lose my friends, time, money, or love itself, I will not stray from God. He spent so much for me to do so.

My life must be determined by my faith in Christ. I can’t let Satan lie to me any more. I am not basing my countenance on the circumstances of this world. I must be dead to this world. It must be nothing to me. I will not be tossed to and fro like mist on an ocean wave. I must live like my Lord is my portion.

Because if I don’t, I will die.

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Today is the remembrance of the day Christ was crucified on the cross on a hill in the middle east 2000 some years ago.

Apparently, it is also the day that people would like to remember earth…

Romans 1 talks about how humanity turns to worship creation rather than creator. Now, I understand this is not the day thousands of hippies get together to worship Gaia. I understand that Earth is under our God-given stewardship. But still, when it overshadows Good Friday, then its something to gripe about.

Anyway, now that that is out of the way, consider the price Christ paid on the cross as He stood under God’s wrath that was meant for all of mankind.

Peace

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Praying HandsEvery Tuesday night for around 28 weeks out of the year, my church does evangelism-in the form of door to door, predetermined visits to those who ask, and visits to church members for purposes of ministry and outreach.  Last night, me and two other members from my church, IBC Howell NJ, visited someone (nameless for the purpose of privacy) who had been attending our church recently.  We sat down with her and the gentleman leading the team started to ask her where she was in relation to God.  She said she was searching and had seen some change in her behavior as she started attending our church.  Then our team leader started to share the gospel with her.  He showed her the verses that laid out what salvation was, why we need it, and how we can accept it.  Me and the other member listened and prayed for both of them, his words and her response.

She accepted Christ that night!

I was ecstatic.  I had heard the gospel preached many times, given it myself, and had to date seen only two people come to Christ outside of large gatherings.  I am not an experiential person.  People who feel Jesus in the room have probably had too much sugar.  But last night, I really did feel as if Christ was in that room.  I confess I teared up, though I was only listening and praying in the background.  But it was so amazing.  I have a new sister in Christ now!!

Peace.

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I had kind of forgotten I had this blog site.  so, with several months and a whole lifetime in between, I am setting down words to paper, or, more literally, pressing fingers to keys.  This post is inspired and based on a sermon preached by Pastor Joe Suozzo at IBC Howell, NJ.

I understand that everyone and their mother are probably blogging right now.  Everyone has words to say.  everyone has an idea.  Mine is not to introduce a new idea and wow you all with words.  If I were able to do so, I would not be in my room typing this out on a computer from ’06.

In older days, so I hear, a man would make his intention known to the woman he wished to pursue.  There was no playing of being coy, hard to read, or sending mixed signals.  So let me lay down my intentions.  I intend to write more for me than an audience, as I do not know who reads these specifically.  I do have somewhat of an interest in writing and the best way to excel at something is to do it over and over again.  This is more of a public arena for practicing mincing of words and of crafting sentences.  I am also writing so that maybe I can encourage others.  That said, I will do my best not to waste the time I have been given.

Thus, I shall begin with a topic that is on most people’s hearts, especially concerning the holiday that just passed.  Love.  Love is a difficult thing.  it has been the main topic of countless works of word throughout the centuries, from Gilgamesh to Siddhārtha, from Beowulf to John Donne, from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling.  But what is this Love thing that we speak of?  Fear not reader, I am far too humble to admit that I have it all figured out and you will not be board to death by my regaling of what I believe Love means.

No.  I will merely point to what one should consider before tackling that mighty, age-old question, “What is Love?”  In beginning to sort out the data and numbers on what love is, I am reminded of what the apostle John wrote so long ago.  In his first epistle, John writes “By this we know love, because [Christ] laid down His life for us…” (1 John 3:16a).  I like to think of this as the flip side of John’s first 3:16,” for God so loved the world that He gave His only son…”  It is only through this that we can know of true Love.  It is only through the knowledge of what God has done for us that we can truly understand Love itself.

Now, if there are people reading this, I understand there are some that believe that Love is something metaphysical, something we cannot hope to comprehend.  I will say I disagree with this statement.   But again, I am not here to rehash what has been talked about endlessly and will continue to be talked about till the end of time.

Now, we have the text.  We have the words.  Now for the experience.  I had grown up in church, knowing that I was supposed to Love God with all my heart, soul, and mind.  But I always questioned “how?”  How does one love God?  I had been young when I received Christ into my life.  My testimony is more about my life after grace than before.  I have no sordid ex-con, drug addict, brothel runner story.  Just merely born as a sinner and saved by grace.  I had forgotten what God had done for me.  I had let the story of Christ’s death become stale and moldy within my heart.

Recently I have lived through events that, without being too dramatic, made me question a lot of what I believed.  I am still in the middle of something I do not understand, nor could begin to understand.  But I have learned one very important thing through all of this.  I have begun to learn of God’s Love.  I saw what it was He saved me from, what I could have become.  And for this I am grateful.  Before, I could not truly say I loved God.  I did not know what it was to love God.  I could tell you that you should love God.  That Love is described as being patient, kind, etc… by Paul.  But I did not know how to love.

Again, I am not claiming a personal epiphany that no one else has uncovered.  I am merely stating what I have experienced so as to provide some encouragement, if any be taken, for those who are in the same place or were in the same place as me.  Take it for what it is.  And thank you for reading.

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