On faith

“It’s not the size of your faith.  Do you have faith or not?”

–My Sunday school teacher, Kevin

Kevin pointed something out last Sunday that I’d never seen.  When Jesus’ followers ask how they can get more faith (how they can upgrade), Jesus redirects them to looking at the outcome of faith, rather than the quantity.  Even the tiniest faith in Christ can uproot large heresies.  And even the tiniest true faith can grow by the grace of God into a giant wonder for all to see.

I find that very encouraging.

The apostles said to the Lord,
         Make our faith greater.

The Lord answered,
         If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree,
         Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea! and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6, GNT)

What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like? asked Jesus. What parable shall we use to explain it? It is like this. A man takes a mustard seed, the smallest seed in the world, and plants it in the ground. After a while it grows up and becomes the biggest of all plants. It puts out such large branches that the birds come and make their nests in its shade. (Mark 4:30-32, GNT)

(Luke 17:5-6, CEV)

A keeper of a quote

“I want God to see Jesus first, and then me.”

–My Sunday school teacher, Kevin

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Selfishness

“My selfishness is less ugly than your selfishness.”

–Pastor John, on the (hypocritical) difference between the standard we hold for others and that which we hold for ourselves

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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God is here, too.

It’s not my habit to blog at 2:34 a.m.

I haven’t been ‘up to par’, as the saying goes, for a few weeks.  Allergy season hit early and hard this year.  I’ve had something that’s become more than just allergies.  I woke up tonight with a thunderstorm and a handful of hymn:

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

I woke up sweaty and, frankly, scared.  My heart began to beat fast.  I don’t like not feeling my best.  I don’t like lingering colds.  I don’t like crackling thunder in the dark.  I am afraid of the bright beams of lightning that shoot through my high window.

Here in the night, I think of all the failures God knows only so well.  My mind can even stray into all the things I have wanted to accomplish by this time in my life–and not achieved.  I think of what I want to do, and not feeling good, it seems like a gloomy forecast on my picnic of goals.

But in this hour, in this fear, it was as though God had woken me up for time with him.

Like a friend waking me up to share a depth of honesty in conversation that cannot be brought out any other time, God has woken me up to remember, in this night, how dependent I am on Him, and how dependable He is for me.  He is the Rock on which I lean, the cove of forgiveness from the storms of my guilt, the oasis of purpose in the center of a meaningless desert.  He is the God who allowed my father’s body to deteriorate into a corpse, and He is the God who pulled me up by the hand from a valley of depression I was not seeking to climb from.  He is the same God.

We say that He is the God who gives and takes away, and it is true, but it can be confusing to hear that without knowing the LORD.  He is the God who can take away our health, our pride, our lusts, our dreams, our depression, our shame, and our pain.  But He is never the God who takes away our love for Him or the treasure of His Son.  He does not snatch salvation away just when we open our hand to receive the living Bread; He does not take away our choice to love Him forever.  He gives us, and only us, that choice.

Max Lucado points out in He Chose the Nails that we complain about what God hasn’t given us the choice over–where we were born, what we would look like, our family, our talents, etc.  But we rarely realize what He has given us choice over: our eternal destiny.  It is a gift God never takes away as long as we have breath in our body.  And after death, it is not ultimately God who has taken away our choice; it is the nature of death–the final blow of sin in this world–which we chose for ourselves in a life of sin, that brings us to the other side of eternity to face Him.  Had we never sinned, there would be no closure to our time to choose Him.

But we are, all of us, on a schedule of death from our sin.  We all have a daily planner in front of us.  For any one of us who have lived long enough to read this blog, it is much thicker than the ones you can buy at the office supply stores.  The first part of our planner is already filled with the notes of everything we have ever done, handwritten by the choices we have made.  There are events written in–events that have happened to us, events that are happening to us, and events that will happen to us.  Flipping through the planner, there are blank pages, too–the pages that represent how much time we have left.  Some of us may have pages and pages to flip through.  Others of us might be astonished at the thin edge of paper separating us from the next world.  And for a few people tonight, there are no more pages.  The coroner is writing their name on the death certificate, even now.

For the Christian, our planner is filled marks.  God has scratched through every sin we have ever committed with permanent marker.  The sins simply can’t be read through the wide marks of forgiveness.  God has even highlighted any good we have done through His Son, not forgetting a single choice we made for His Kingdom.

This is the God I serve.  The God who can work even at 3:07 a.m., even when I have a cold, even in a life such as mine.

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

What sweetness in the unfathomable truth:

God is here, too.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

(Psalm 46:1b, ESV)

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 3:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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