Sunday, 28 November 2010

Not to Be Taken Lightly

I came to a somewhat frightening realization this week. I started to notice that in my way of thinking, I was starting to take Christ's sacrifice lightly. I was starting to develop a mentality that what He did for me is really not that big of a deal. I was belittling my salvation.

If we're not careful, this can happen easily, often without realizing it. We handle our salvation carelessly and forget what it is that Jesus actually gave up and suffered to forgive us and grant us eternal life. And likewise, we can do the same thing with our eternal destination and that of others.

Of course it's easy to see many people who are careless about their salvation. They claim to be Christians but live just like the world, indulging in all that it offers and living in blatant sin. Instead of striving for holiness, they wave it off with grace, a God-loves-me-anyway line, or since I prayed a prayer on such-and-such a day, I'm saved and will go to heaven when I die. But we can be careless in our way of thinking just as easily, and that will eventually affect the way we live.

Now, I'm not about to drag any eternal security doctrine into this. I'm still not sure myself where I stand on that matter. I hold an idea that goes more like "know you're saved, love God, love others, obey His Word and walk with Him." If you're doing that, eternal security isn't even a question that people need to grapple with.

I was reminded of a few verses of scripture as I was thinking on this issue.

Hebrews 2:1
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." (KJV)
Hebrews 2:3a
"how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (ESV)

Philippians 2:12, 13
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (ESV)

Don't take Christ's sacrifice lightly. Thank Him constantly, remembering your lost, wretched condition and the great price He paid to redeem you. I think this is a key factor in walking in righteousness. God bless!

Monday, 15 November 2010

God's Call

How is it that you think you want something, and then when you're about to get it, you realize you don't want it at all? That when you're in a certain season of life you don't particularly enjoy and it looks like it may be fading, you want to cling to it for dear life? Realizing that you really don't want anything other than what you have is an odd experience, and it comes with mixed emotions.

For a long time, I've been pondering God's will for my life. For a long time, I have felt like I am doing nothing for God. While others are going out and being missionaries and preaching the Gospel in unreached nations, I'm living a simple, ordinary life, not having a significant impact on the world. Aren't we as Christians supposed to be active in soul-winning and outreach? Isn't it what God has called us to? But at the same time, I'm starting to think (and this may be very bold and even "un-Christian" of me to say) that many of us are being made to feel guilty if we aren't active in missions and soul-winning. I think many of us are being made to feel less godly or that we are not fulfilling God's call on us as Christians if we aren't on the streets preaching to the lost. I'm starting to think that the Bible paints a very different picture.

I'll be honest. I tend to be shy and reserved. I hate approaching new people. I even have a hard time with my job, to have to interact with people everyday. I don't walk up to people and speak to them about the condition of their souls. I'd have to say that I'm actually afraid to do that. And I'm starting to think that in a way, that's okay.

Now some may be quick to say we have to get over our fear of man, be empowered by the Spirit of God and openly share the Gospel with people all the time. However, doesn't the Bible make it clear that, although we are called to preach the Gospel to all nations, each one of us has different gifts. Prophets and apostles are no doubt much better at these things, and Paul tells us to desire these gifts. But there are other gifts that, although they may not be recognized as much as the others, that are no less important than the first. Where Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 12, he makes it clear that although people all have different gifts, they all come by the same Spirit. He also explains that we are all members of the same body and that each part, no matter how small is important, that even the weakest or less honourable members are necessary. I think at times we fail to see the "other" people in the Bible. You know, the farmers and homemakers. Ordinary Christians.

God has been showing me this past week again that He has given me a work to do right where I am. At times, it's not what I want to do but I've been learning that this life isn't about myself. So, I have determined to take it up cheerfully and make the most of it. And you know what I've discovered? It irritates people. People do not like seeing you have a good attitude about something that they do not want to do, and make it clear how they feel about it. God has given me a work in which I can be a blessing, a place where I have the ability to serve in a way that not many people are able or willing to do. And I've realized that I am actually doing hard things. I may not be jumping out of my comfort zone and accomplishing great things that many around the world will hear about. I'm doing the small things, that few people will recognize and appreciate and in so doing, I'm not gaining an earthly reward but a heavenly one of much greater value.

I was encouraged and blessed by a conversation I had with a young man a few weeks ago. When I explained how I felt like I wasn't doing anything of value, he assured me that I am right where God wants me. I may not have a great vision but that simply means that God hasn't given me it yet and that's okay. God has great plans for my life, and when he reveals those to me, I will be able to step forward in confidence knowing that I am in His will. In the meantime, I am called to prepare. It's like being stranded at sea and praying for wind so I can get where I want to go. I can pray for wind, and God may send it, but if my sails are down, I'm not going anywhere. The illustration reminded me of a scene in Facing the Giants where Mr. Bridges speaks to Grant about two farmers praying for rain. Both of them prayed, but only one went out to prepare his field to receive it, thus demonstrating faith. God will send the rain when He's ready; we have to prepare our fields to receive it.

For a moment I wondered how I can prepare for something if I don't know what it is? I don't know. What I do know is that I am right where God wants me today and I can keep on doing what I'm doing for His glory until He shows me otherwise.

Not all of us are called to be Hudson Taylors or Amy Carmichaels and that's okay. God doesn't intend for us to be. There are thousands of godly men and women who have followed God's call on their lives. The only problem is we have never heard of them. That's because they weren't out on the front lines where everyone could see them. They may not even have won many souls for the Lord. They may have just been ordinary Christians living ordinary lives, but they did what they could to serve, bless, and show God's love to the people around them and in so doing, they were perfectly fulfilling God's will for their lives.

Like me, you may feel you have nothing to give, but that's not true. You have everything to give. You don't have to go searching for anything else to do or keep wondering what's next. You can fulfill God's calling for your life right where you are. And even if it seems small, you can make an impact.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Why We Remember

Today is one of those special days in every year, when people all around, both young and old come together to commemorate the sacrifice of the men and women who have fought for our nation. This morning, the parking on the street in front of our store was blocked off for the gathering at the cenotaph, of which I happened to have a good view. Prior to the 11:00, cadets walked around handing out poppies. I wonder about these young men in uniform and their dedication, their hearts already turned towards the good of their nation. As I watched officers march, and even young scouts, I was reminded of the men and women who still serve today.

The high school band assembles and strains of beloved hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" (which we sing together later on along with our national anthem) and "Abide With Me" echo through the town. Young children, possibly from a school gather as well to witness this special service. It's a touching sight and I too step out of our store alongside many spectators.

It's a wonder how certain things, certain dates even, bring people together with one common purpose in mind. Days when life isn't about yourself, when we recognize and honour the sacrifice of men, women, and families. Times when we come together to recognize a Power greater than mankind. This morning I watched people come together and listen with solemnity and respect as Scripture was read out of Ephesians 6 and a minister spoke about putting on the full armour of God and prayers were offered for those who continue to serve our nation. This was not a sight you see in public every day, and was not politically correct, but what a blessing! It was a good reminder that war still exists, not just overseas, but we're all fighting in this spiritual war, one that is not against flesh and blood, and as Christian soldiers, we must continue to fight.

Today is not the only day people come together for such occasions. 9/11, a tragedy that our generation witnessed, is another such day that, when people gather to mourn the loss of loved ones and honour the sacrifice of the thousands of rescue workers. It's beautiful to see pain bringing people together.

Will there be more such days? Today we commemorate the end of one war. Will there be a day when we commemorate the end of all war? I know we will, but it will not be around a cenotaph. It will be around the throne of God, where He will wipe away all our tears, and war will be no more.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Prioritizing Life

If you're anything like me, you're bad with priorities. Life is busy, there's too much to do (or too much you want to do) and not enough time. How do you know what comes first or how to juggle everything?

Okay, so in comparison to many people, my idea of a busy life is a joke. I like things to be fairly relaxed and I get frazzled easily. Even in the midst of work, church, home life, family, etc., I still have an amount of spare time on my hands that many would consider a luxury. The problem is, there's so much I want to do in that spare time.

As we speak, I have a couple stacks of books in my room waiting to be read. In fact, I was able to get 6 books for $3 today at thrift store. I could go crazy in their book section. I work in an awesome store, but I still can't do that there. I have more lists of things I want to read and actually study. There's all kinds of other things I would love to do, things I want to cook, bake, stuff I want to learn to do.

So here's the thing: what comes first? How do your prioritize your life? Of course, my responsibilities should always be of utmost importance. I have a job, I help carry the load of keeping a home in order and running. Church is not something you should neglect. Meeting together regularly for worship and study is important. That doesn't mean I make it to every Bible study, prayer meeting or other event at church, but I do when I can (and feel up for it.)

As a Christian, God is supposed to be our #1 in life. But what exactly does that even mean? (Wait, what does prioritizing even mean?) If Jesus is number one, does that mean all my waking hours have to be devoted to prayer and study, every spare moment has to be devoted to worship and serving others? Having thought about this, my answer is no. Christ can still be our main priority and the central focus of our life without all of our activity being explicitly Christian.
The truth is, we can honour God in all our daily activities. Christ can be the main focus of our life, and we can still enjoy recreational activities. At least that's what I think.

How did that just explain how to determine what comes first, or how to spend our spare time? I have no idea. It didn't. The truth is, I don't know how your prioritize recreational activities or wants. Perhaps it has to do with what is a greater benefit to your relationship with God, others or yourself. Perhaps it's determined by finances, education or usefulness. I don't know.

Life is all about choosing one thing over another. Something must always be given precedence in every situation. Decisions have to be made. My words of wisdom: Choose wisely. Use well the short time you have been given. Love and honour the Lord, put others before yourself (your life is not about yourself), and then enjoy that free time God gives you as you see fit.