Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Can I Ramble?

 Can I ramble......?

 Since my graduation of high school, back in 2009 (homeschool that is), and much has happened. Indeed there's been-
  happiness, sorrows, excitements, disappointment, plans made, plans smashed, anticipation, confusion, pursuits, let downs, heartaches, rejections, failures, joys, struggles, success, trips taken, places seen, people met, conversations had (that will be remembered), friends made, friends lost, much learned, much remembered, celebrations, parties, and much more.
 This has been, I daresay, my journey thus far, and the  sovereign Lord has with me in it and through it every breath and moment of it all. Teaching, rebuking & disciplining, humbling, strengthening, convicting, pruning, reminding, and leading me in it all.
 Ha! I'm reminded now of a line of a verse of a song..."Oh Father, use my ransomed life if any way You choose". This is a very difficult prayer to pray, but one that's worth it, when the person who prays it knows that "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." -Phil 1:21; that have Christ is to have EVERYTHING, even if you were to lose it all.
 Yea, there's I'm thankful and blessed, with all the Lord has blessed me with , yet I have desire, good ones at that. Oh, and I want to be completely honest here too. I want to be married, I want to have a family, I want to do gospel ministry among Somalis in the Horn of Africa, and other desires as well. Now these are all good desires, and I trust that the Lord in His sovereign timing, good & perfect will, will give me these things......or maybe He won't. Ha! "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." Psshhh! No matter how much I may want those good gifts, things, or whatever, I know that the Lord will be pleased in giving or not giving them to me. As a Christian, I am like the man who found the treasure hidden in the field, and in his joy sold all tha he had to buy that field (Matt 13:44). I'm also like Paul; I count all things as rubbish & filth in comparison to knowing Christ & having gained Him! For God, by His grace, gave me eyes to see, behold, & savor His glory as revealed in His Gospel and as revealed in the face of His Son!
 So to the grave as to whether I get married or not, whether I have a a family one day or not, whether I get to be a missionary among the Somali people in Somalia or not! Do I still desire these things? Ha! I'm not gonna lie; of course I do! Yet may such desire be dwarfed by the much GREATER desire for more the glory of Christ & His Gospel in my heart and life!

I ask this one thing Lord
One desire
To bask & exult in Your glory & greatness
To feast upon the glories of Christ
Take me deeper into the glories of Your Gospel!
In Your Son's lovely name,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unity in Diversity

 As I was walking along the streets of downtown Indy on a Friday a couple weeks ago, I passed by a guy dressed as the late Heath Ledger's 'the Joker' as seen in 'The Dark Knight'. Others I passed were dressed as Gandalf, one of the X-Men, or some other fictional movie, novel, anime character. Actually everywhere I went downtown, whether in the mall, monument circle, or along the streets; there were people dressed up in the favorite fictional characters. What was the occasion? Gen con, an annual weekend long gaming convention.
 Now I've never been to this conference, and never will go. Yet, one of the several things that I have observed in watching those who attend this conference is that there is something that they all have in common....the conference itself. I don't exactly know what all goes on at this conference, but I do know that it attracts a plethora of people from all over the state (quite possibly from the neighboring states too). There are differences to all that go too. Like differences ethnicity, age, the costumes they're wearing, the games that they like, so on and so forth. There are plenty of other settings in where there is unity in diversity. The Gen con is just one of many examples.

 A couple years ago this thought entered my mind, bringing tears to my eyes: "The body of Christ is a beautiful thing!" Oh, and I still think it is! The thought of Unity in the midst of diversity is what makes it so beautiful to me! Within the church there are-

Man & Woman
Young and old
Singled and married
The poor & the wealthy
Introverts & extroverts
The Jocks & nerds
 The former gang member & straight A student
The short & tall
The blonde, brunette, & red-head
African Americans & Caucasians
The Native American & Hispanic
Chinese & Japanese 
The Saudi & Russian
The Italian & Somali
The english speaker & mandarin chinese speaker
The deaf & the ones in the leper colonies
The city-dweller in NYC
And the guy living in the remote village in the Nepalese mountains
Christ is all & in all

 Ha! There's more that I can add to that list, but you get the idea! Such diversity that can only be united under the banner of the Gospel, and have such rich commonality in Christ! Yes, it's the Gospel that creates such a beautiful unity in the midst of diversity!
 My church is a huge church, with many people all diverse in ethnicity, age, social status, personalities among many other things. It's one of the various things I love about my church; looking around in the foyer or sanctuary to see all different kinds of people all gathered in one place to worship one Savior, namely Jesus!
 Yet, Scripture gives us a more colorful and vibrant display of gospel-unity in diversity. That can be found in Revelation 5:

"And they sang a new song, saying,

'Worthy are you to take the scroll
 and to open its seals,
For you were slain, and by your blood you
 ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and
 people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and
 priests to our God, 
and they shall reign on the earth." (Rev. 5:9-10)

  This vision that John had is a promise, a guarantee that what John saw will come to pass. For Scripture says that whatever God has purposed & planned before the ages began will come to pass! A diverse and countless number of blood-bought and ransomed people around the throne of the Most High! Oh! How I can't wait for that day! To be in the presence of my Savior and God along with all my extroverted, introverted, blonde, brunette, short, tall, Chinese, Nepalese, Somali, Syrian, Peruvian, Japanese, Italian, Ugandan, and Native American brothers & sisters!

"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." ~Colossians 3:11

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Some Favorite Reads

 It's been minute or so since I've post here. Between happenings, trips, conversations, books reads, sermons listened to, and a rekindled passion to chase after Christ & cherish His Gospel, I have much to say!
 Yet, since it may take time to flesh out, on pen and paper all, I want to say; I'll just stick with a list of some of my favorite books that I've read to break the hiatus. Some of these I've read recently, others a while ago.

"The Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer

A short yet, rich read on the nature and attributes of God. Tozer does a poor, yet spectacular job at explaining the character and nature of God! I recommend reading a chapter a day.

"God is the Gospel" by John Piper
 It's been said that once you read one of John Piper's books, then you've read them all. There's truth in that statement, for in all his books (at least the ones I've read), his most known quote, "God is most satisfied in us, when we are most satisfied in Him." applied to whatever topic the book is on.
 Nonetheless, his book God is the Gospel is a wonderful read! Throughout the book Piper shares about the many gifts God gives us through the Gospel, but time and time again shares how they are not the supreme, highest, or even greatest gift. He shares how the supreme, highest, and greatest gift is God Himself to delight in and enjoy!

"Follow Me" by David Platt

 I love Platt. Not just because he lead a group of several thousand college students at a missions conference  that I went to this past holiday break to pray for Somalia (in which I got to thank him personally for), but I love the passion and heart  he has for the people of God, the Gospel, and the great commission. His book "Follow Me" reflects His passion and heart! In this book David shares about what it mean to truly be a disciple of Christ, and what Jesus means when He says, "Follow me" (Mark 1:17). This book by Platt is a rich, convicting, and challenging read for sure!

"The Insanity of God" by Nik Ripken

 A former pastor from my church (College Park Church) highly recommend a book by about a guy who was a missionary to Somalia back in the early 90's. Pastor Joe said that if I wanted it, then he'd buy it, and have it shipped to me, and of course I said yes!
 This is a gripping, convicting, and rich read about Nik (and His family's) faith journey and a resurrected faith! Nik shares briefly about life growing up, his meeting of his wife Ruth, struggles in ministry in the Horn of Africa, and encouraging travels as he went around the world to spend time and learn from brothers & sisters who have been and are being persecuted for the Faith! A powerful read for sure!

"Gospel Deep" by Jared C. Wilson

Here's another brother I love! I love His love for the Gospel, and how in his sermons and writings he always brings it back to the Gospel and it Author! Many a time, I have been greatly encouraged, hyped-up, and compelled to chase after Christ as a result of reading on of his writings or listening to one of his sermons.
 Jared's book Gospel Deeps probably one of my top 3 favorite books! You can definitely see His passion and love for the Gospel throughout this work. In it he takes you into the depths of the Gospel, or another way to say it, hold it up like a diamond to see all its facets. I promise this book will leave beholding the beauty of the Gospel, and marveling at it's Author! Ha! If you wanna borrow my copy then just ask! You may even just find me thrusting it into your hands, and pleading you to read it! Yep....it's that dandy!

"Looking Unto Jesus" by Isaac Ambrose

 Any book or literary work by the puritans are purely rich with the person and work of Christ! I haven't read many puritan works, but this captivating, compelling, and dandy volume by Isaac Ambrose is deep deep, and a fountain of richness! Now I never read this thick volume all \the way through yet, but from how far I've gotten I can tell you it's some sweet dandyness for sure! Here's the inside title page: Looking Unto Jesus: A View of the Everlasting Gospel; or The Soul's Eyeing of Jesus, As Carrying on the Great Work of Man's Salvation, From Fist to Last.
 You kinda get the idea now of what this thick book may be about? Looking Unto Jesus by Ambrose may take a bit to go through, and it's definitely slow read; its content definitely worth a reread after every part and chapter, a meditation. I will say though, that it will leave you mind, heart, and soul filled with Christ in a beautifully dandy way!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Behold the Lamb of God

I'm a writer, who loves to write, and who has a somewhat history of the art.....well if you wanna call it an art. From poem, to short stories, to songs; I've written all kinds of pieces of....art :) Yet, I have kind of slowed down a bit. Not much inspiration has come my way, but when it does come, it come with spontaneous  gospel-sweetness! So a bit earlier, I was inspired by God's Word more specifically John 1:29....."The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" So inspired by this God-breathed, God-inspired passages; this song came forth....

We all like sheep have gone astray
Turning to go our own way
Against You Lord
Against You Lord

Hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
Far from You, as Your enemies
Despising You God
Despising You God

But hope has arrived
So let's lift up our eyes

Behold the Lamb of God
Who takes away the sin of the world
The sin of world

So come one & all to the Cross
All who are weary &lost
With empty hands
With empty hands

And by faith cling to the Son
Who poured out His soul & His blood
To save our souls
To save our souls

Our hearts explode into joyous song
We lift up a shout praise
 Joining with the heavenly throng:
"Glory, to the Lamb that was slain!"

Friday, March 21, 2014

Winter No More!

 Spring is starting to break through, she's peaking her beautiful head out of her hole, ready to make another appearance for the.........1145th....time? You know, something like that. Man, I just like the first feel of Spring don't ya? Colder weather starting to die down, being pushed out by the warmer; the birds are getting more chirpier. It's in the air; you can feel it in the atmosphere. The sighs of joyful relief can be heard from many people you talk to or interact with. Thank the Lord for Springs arrival!
 Yes, I did indeed thank the Lord as I was on my way to meet up with some dear friends for a fun evening. Specifically, I thanked Him for giving me and others the patience to endure through the winter. Ha! For as well all know, for much of the nation it's been one of most brutal and seemingly merciless winters to date! The bitter cold below zero temps, probably hundreds of feet of snow (of course I'm exaggerating), and not to mention the....dreaded crater-like potholes that appeared when the snow melted! It all made me cry out (along with thousands of others), "When will it end!". So, as you could imagine, my thanksgiving to the Lord for giving me, and others, that patient endurance through such a brutal winter was a heart-imbedded genuine one.
 I remember telling customers at Trader Joe's (which is my place of employment) that all this winter madness will come to an end, and Spring is coming!  Yes, there was indeed that hope, that I was reminded of! SPRING IS COMING!
 Now, after giving that thanksgiving to the Lord, a truth came to mind. The truth that this life is rough. Oh, the struggle, the pain, the roughness, the hardships, the heartaches, the longings, the sweating, the groaning, the tears! How far we have fallen, and how much we corrupted! Even creation under a curse, being subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20). Yes, we've all (all people on this God-created green earth) experienced in many ways the effects of the fall, and are effected by the effects of sin. Oh, to be rid of our sin, and the sin in this world!
 Here is our hope:

"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." ~Rom. 8:23

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne, 'Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there ne mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'" ~Rev. 21:3-4

 This hope is a hope that is not false or vain. It's a hope, a promise, and a guarantee that embrace in with faith. A gospel-hope, a gospel-promise that is a sure as the wind is as it blows against our faces. For it's because of the Gospel, that we are citizens of a kingdom that has come and is coming; a kingdom that won't be shaken (Heb. 12:28)! Indeed it's through the proclamation of the Gospel by the church that Jesus is on the move making righting wrongs, dispelling the darkness with the light of His glory, healing, restoring, & redeeming!
 So yea, there will be many a time where we become weary, worn, exhausted,  beat down, and overwhelmingly discouraged and distraught by all the sin, evil, darkness, & corruption in the world. It will makes us want to cry out along with the Christian band Tenth Avenue North, "Let me see redemption win! Let me know struggle ends!" Yet, I hear Jesus say, "The one endures to the end will be saved." That is our call to persevere, to endure, to press on against the tide of sin, the flesh, and the world. To look to and cling to Christ as we do so! Embracing the promises of our great Shepherd and Savior's return! The promises of future glory & grace (Rom. 8:18 & 1 Pet. 1:13)!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why Somalia?!

 "So why Somalia?" is the question people ask me when they find out that I want to be a missionary there some day (Lord willing). I use to answer that with, "You know, I don't know really.", then after a little pause I would add, "I guess over time the Lord has given me a heart for them.". Of course that was never an exciting or satisfying answer. Well sure, it's great to know that the Lord has given me a heart for them, but normally when a person shares about their heart for a particular country or people group there some story behind it.
 I remember my good friend Matt, back in the day, share stories he's heard of the turmoil and suffering Somalia. One I heard him tell at least twice, about how the state of Somalia is so bad that Somalia out of desperation try to swim across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, but only to have Saudis see dead bodies of Somalis wash up on their shores. Well, I don't know if that's a true story or not, but it was from hearing stories like that one that have opened my eyes to the physical poverty and state Somalia was and is still in. Decades of civil wars, famines, droughts, and the terror of Islamist extremism have plagued this nation.
 So with this nation be 99.7% muslim and roughly 0.3% Christian, things are slowly and steadily starting to get better there though, with a recent inaugurated government, that has been dealing with Islamist extremists. Yet, the regions of Somaliland (in the north) and Puntland are semi-autonomous. According to Voice of the Martyrs there is a rough estimate of fewer than 200 Somali converts from Islam to Christianity, but in the past few years dozens of Somali believers have been executed by the radical Islamist group known as al-shabab, Although muslim conversion to Christianity not illegal in Somalia. In Somaliland it is said that believers have been imprisoned and even expelled. Other unspeakable acts have been inflicted on Somali believers.
  My heart aches as I think about all these things, along with the deeper and more sober reality of the spiritual darkness and poverty this people are in! Following the lies of Islam, and their own cultural beliefs, they're rushing headlong towards hell. Indeed, for the 99.7% of the nation that are outside of Christ before a holy God; it's a terrifyingly dangerous place for them to be! Yes, even at this moment heart is torn up as I think about all this and Somalia. It's like I feel the same way the apostle Paul does, as he expresses in Romans 9:

"I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit--that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." ~Romans 9:2-3

 Of course Paul is speaking of the Jews who are outside of Christ, but that's how I feel for Somalia at times. Just those moments when that burden for them weighs so heavy on my heart to the point where tears start coming from my eyes; to the point where there's this restless anxiety (so to speak) in my soul. Oh, how I wish that I could trade places with every single one of them! Where I can be accursed and cut off from Christ, and they in turn enjoy the rich grace and blessing that flow freely from the Gospel! Oh, how I'm willing to die, so that they may have life, and have it abundantly!

Lord send me! I'll go (Isa. 6:8)!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Owned By Christ

Been thinking much about, and have been encouraged by this truth lately....

I'm not my own
And belong to no one else
But to Christ Jesus
And Him alone
Purchased & ransomed
By His blood
A stray sheep
That He sought & brought
Back into the fold God
My name is engraved
On His nail-scarred hands
And inscribed
On His heart
My life is hidden
In Him
Therefore I'm safe & secure
From accusation & alarm
Who I am
I wrapped up
In the Savior
And when the storms come
On the Him, the Solid Rock
I won't falter or waver
I'm indeed His
Prized possession
For by His death &resurrection
He has made me
His own
So now I can
Live & die confidently
For I'm in Christ
And it's to Him
I'm belong