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!