Monday, November 29, 2010

Where Do I Go From Here?

Right now I'm stuck, asking myself, "Where do I go from here?" Dropping the english class I was taking through Ivy Tech was not my plan a few weeks ago. Then, I had the mentality that I had to push myself to doing the work, the research and all for the paper I would be writing, but never followed through with acting upon it. Last night I came to the point where I had to write 2 drafts of a research and argument paper that was due today, I was having trouble starting it. So I gave into the choice of dropping it, and walking away from this class, well aware that I would fail. There was nothing I could do at that point. I look at it, seeing that I no one to blame but myself. There showed to be a lack of discipline and time management, with some laziness mixed in. So with that as evidence, I know I can only point the finger at myself. Those components that hurt me in highschool, stuck with through the attempt of taking this college level writing class, which have led me to fail. Ha! Then there is this fear of what people, particularly friends, will say or think when they read this post or when I tell them. There will be quite a bit of disappointment for sure.
There's also that question that I ask myself, "Where do I go from here?" I know for certain that the Lord is calling me out to the mission field to go preach to the gospel to the unreached , particularly to the muslims (unless He calls me elsewhere). I had the rough plan of taking a few classes at Crossroads, then Lord-willing go to Moody by the Fall '11 semester. Yet how can I do so if I couldn't even follow through all the way with the english class? How could it be possible that I bust out a semester at Crossroads and go onto Moody if I failed at this english class? I just wouldn't work out. There definitely needs to be a practice of discipline, time management, and the putting off of laziness and selfishness. I know the Lord will bring me to the mission field, but I know I have to do my part and work my tail off! I'm pretty sure that He's not saying, "Just sit back and relax, I'll get you through it." No! I know that He wants me to work like crazy!
As a christian I am to discipline myself in all aspects of the faith, like discipline in holiness, godliness, prayer, reading and studying the scriptures, and evangelism just to name a handful. How much more should I discipline myself with keeping my body healthy, managing my time day by day, and with my education. Discipline in the faith is crucial to the christian. Without, I believe, that there will be little growth, and open doors for sin to sneek in and attack.
So be praying for me my friends, my brothers and sisters; that I will practice discipline in every area of my life, especially in the faith. Also that the Lord will give me guidance and direction on where to go from here.

Thanks for reading. Keep chasing after Christ!

~Joshua A. Taylor

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Foolishness & Weakness of God.......?

Yesterday I shared a verse through a text to about 8 to 10 people. Something I do every now and again to encourage my friends and fellow saints in the faith. The verse I shared was 1 Corinthians 1:25 which says- "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." Now that is insane to think about! When I first read that verse, I didn't understand it, but even despite my lack of understanding of it still made my heart miss a beat. Now that I understand it though it just messes me up for a couple minutes after reading it. Think about it this way: The world's most smartest man's intellectual and wisdom-filled mind doesn't even come close to comparing to the "foolishness" of God, and the world's most powerful man's strength and power doesn't even come close to the "weakness" of God! Doesn't that just blow your mind!?
To me this verse is the most impactful verse that displays man's lowly, weak, wretched, and imperfect state, and God's infinitely righteous, holy, pure, and perfect state. Chapters 1-3 in Romans Paul goes in depth in displaying man's sinful, wretched, and imperfect. For example verses 29 to 31 in chapter 1 lists some of the fruit of man's sinful nature: "They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. This is only one of the few times the Paul lists of these fruits of our sinful nature through the epistles that he's written. Then take Romans 3 for example that states clearly that "None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (verses 10-12 in chapter 3).
The Old Testament also shows the comparison between imperfect, finite man and perfect infinite God. "for no one living is righteous before You." (Psalm 1432b). There's one verse for ya!
Take Moses's encounter with God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 33:12-23. The Lord allows Moses to see His back, but not His face, "But you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." (vs. 20). Then we have Isaiah who says in Isaiah 6:5, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"
So as you can see the Bible is filled with stories like these. A sinful, wretched man cannot see the Lord and live. See that contrast between us and God!? Think about what happens though, when 1 Cor 1:25 collides with the Gospel! Wretched sinners who deserve hell for eternity, namely the wrath of God almighty, actually receive His grace and mercy through the blood of Christ! This is how God, the Father showed His infinitely great love toward us! Christ took our place on the cross, bearing our sins, and drinking the cup of the wrath of God. This was done so that we may be forgiven, and be reconciled to God. We don't deserve heaven, nor do we deserve to seek after Him in His Word, and in prayer. We only deserve hell for eternity! So here, in the gospel, we see God's great love displayed. Think about His love! Oh what a marvelous love! Here's how I can put His unfathomable love on display see: My love for my friends and family is like hatred compared to God's love for them! Wow!
There we have it! God's character and attributes are unfathomable compared to ours! We don't even come close actually! We not even close to be on the chart! From 1 Cor 1:25 I went stemmed it to many different directions. I challenge to to meditate upon that verse throughout the rest of the day. You might be like me, of how every time I read it I stop breathing for a second or 2, or my heart misses a beat, or....I get twitchy for a couple minutes. May every time we read 1 Corinthians 1:25 make us tremble in fear before the Lord, our God!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear X (You Don't Own Me) -From Slaves to sin to Slaves to Christ!

A while back I met up with a good friend to catch up. We had a good time with good discussion about a number of things. No sure how it came about, but we started to talk about slavery in the context of biblical times, and transitioned over to how we were once slaves to sin, but now are slaves to Christ.
This is something that I have recently been thinking about, and rejoicing over. I thank the Christian hard rock band Disciple for this! Their current single "Dear X (You Don't Own Me)" for their latest album talks about this very thing of going form being slaves to sin to being slaves to Christ.
The 1st verse I don't believe is relevant to the message the song is getting across. It talks about how were enslaved to shame and pain, which are effects of sin which we still experience to this day, but I don't believe the Bible talks about being slave to those things. Though there is the simple truth that even though we now belong to Christ, we will still experience the effects like pain, sorrow, and shame among others, till the day we die. This is what the 1st verse of song reminds me of, even though it's irrelavant to what the song is talking about.
The 2nd verse though hits home.It talk about hate and anger. Ha there we go! Both anger and hate go hand in hand in with the 6th commandment , you shall not murder. How? Well rember Jesus' word in Matthew 5. "You have heard it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to council; and whoever says,'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22). To me personally, anger was one of the big sins that owned me. I was selfish in my anger; wanting this or that, or wanting things to go my way. Yet, thankfully I am no longer a slave to anger, and to all the other sins the I was enslaved to.
The prechorus is short, yet rings true. "I've let you go, but you're still chasing!" The scripture that comes to mind is Genesis 4:7, which says, "And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It's desire is for you, but you must rule over it." So there is that truth that sin is still there. Just because we are no longer enslaved to sin, and now God's chosen, doesn't mean the sin can't touch us. It's not like once we become converted, we instantly become perfectly holy and righteous, with out sin. 1 John 1:8 makes it clear, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Let me make it clear that even though we will still be sinning until the day we die, doesn't mean that we should be sinning of our own will. 1 john talks about this, in how if we keep on sinning then we don't abide in Him; and are of the devil (1 john 3:6; 8). This is what Paul says later in chapter 7, vs 24 of Romans "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death!" Of course that answer is Christ. Paul longs to be ridden of sin for good, as do all believers! Son until the Lord calls us home, or retuns to take His bride away; we'll still be at war against sin. In the words of a reformed rapper, "I aint gonna lie, I'll still be sinning until the day I die, but I'm also fighting like a titan trying to stay alive!"
Then there's the chorus. "Gonna ahead but you're never take me/You can bend, but you're never gonna break me/ I was yours, but I'm not yours anymore/Oh, you don't own me" This is pretty much God's chosen saying to sin, in the face go ahead try to take me back! Go ahead give it all you got! Yea, I may fall into your traps, but you don't own me anymore! I've been bough with a price, by the blood of Christ! I bleong to Him now!
Finally the bridge comes saying, "You're tempting me to look back, but everything we had together was a lie!" So true! Right!? Our relationship that we had with sin was nothing but a lie. It would only end us up in hell for eternity; drinking the cup of God's divine wrath forever and ever! Thanks be to God that by the death and resurrection of Christ we have been transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13. No longer having that relationship with sin that leads to death, but now have that relationship with Christ that leads to life! From being slaves to sin to being slave to righteousness. We are not our own, we have been brought with a price. That price was that in love Christ took our place on the cross, bearing our sin, taking the wrath of God that was reserved for us; then after being in the tomb for 3 days, resurrected defeating sin! In response we have given our live to Him. Dying to ourselves, to be found alive in Christ! To Him who has delivered us from the bondage of sin, be honor, majesty, and glory forever amen!