Thursday, February 28, 2013

Our Eternal Home

     Have you ever stopped to think about just how amazing God is?  about how powerful He is?  about how majestic all of His works are?  Take a moment to let just a piece of His beauty sink into your heart:

      Of course, this is only a very small sampling of some of God's wonderful creation.  These images doesn't even come close to showing His magnificent power.  They can, though, cause us to stop and think about His greatness.

     Not only did the Lord create all of these amazing things, but He did it in just six days.  He didn't even need to lift a finger!  He just spoke, and it came to pass.  This is the wonderful power of God.  Not only did He create all of this for us, but He takes it a step further in the book of John:
"In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." - John 14:2, NKJV
     If God could create a planet such as this - with all of its amazing places, structures, and creatures - in just six days, think about how awe-inspiring heaven will be.  He's had two thousand years to prepare our eternal homes for the day we'll arrive.  He's preparing a place for us that we can't even imagine - just because He loves us that much.  Amazing, isn't it?  Nothing can ever compare with His glory!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christians, Redefined

     Last Saturday, as I was reading the book of 1 John, a thought came to me.  Oddly enough, it didn't even come directly from 1 John.  I don't know which one, but some verse in that book sparked a thought in my mind.  The thought took me back to Acts 11:26:
"And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." - ESV, emphasis added.
      This scripture adds a piece of information to Christian history that is definitely worth remembering.  It's the first time we were called Christians!  Although nowadays we view it as merely a label or a name, when it was first used it was a description.  This name, in one word, could sum up all that the early believers were like.  It had power.  I can imagine that whenever an early believer heard it, a chill went down their spine.  They were humbled by it.  Why doesn't this word have the same effect today?  I believe that it's because our generation has forgotten its meaning.  Quite simply, the word "Christian" means "Like Christ."  It sounds reasonable enough, right?  Those who followed Christ were said to be like Him.  But think about how that name came into existence.  They were named Christians simply because the first thing that popped into others' heads when they saw these early followers was that they looked just like Christ.  Their actions and behavior were shaped like none other than the Savior whom they were following!

     How do you think we compare with this today?  If the word "Christian" didn't exist, how do you think non-believers would describe us?  Would they say we're like Christ?  Sadly, I'm not so sure they would - at least not most of us.  Sure, there are some Christians out there who truly resemble Christ in their actions, but do you?  Do I?  Honestly, I don't know that I do.

     So let's act as though the word "Christian" didn't exist.  Let's act as though there was nothing that could distinguish us from the world but our actions - not a t-shirt, not a necklace, not a bracelet.  Nothing.  Only our lives can separate us.  Live your life so that your very being resembles the life of Christ.  And when you hear this word - this awe-inspiring, sobering word - remember Who it is that you're really like.  Remember to always be like Christ.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oh Noes! Not a Valentine's Day Post!

     As is most apparent by now, Valentine's Day is just about upon us.  Usually viewed as a romantic holiday for couples, what can Valentine's Day offer to those of us who are single?  Does God have a lesson for us to learn about relationships, even before we engage in one?  Yes.  There are many topics that could be shared about relationships to a single person.  In fact, I had trouble just narrowing down what topic I wanted to post!  So what do we need to learn before we engage in a relationship?  You guessed it... purity.  

     Now before you close the page on me, this isn't a post about a list do's and don't's, telling you what's too far and what's not, or even how or when you should go about finding a relationship.  This is so much more than any of those things.  Purity is something we don't just carry with us outside of a relationship; it's something we take with us our entire lives.

     Before we go any further, though, let me tell you what purity is not.  Purity is not a boundary or a "do not cross" line.  It's not simply physical, and it's most certainly not something we can brush to the side.  What is purity then?  The best way to view purity is as a direction.  We walk in purity, not around it, not across it, and definitely not over it.  Purity is not allowing lust to get in the way of our pursuit of God.  We walk toward God, not swaying to the right or the left, and not getting sidetracked by that guy or that girl we might like.  This is the direction of purity. 

     So now that we know a little more about what purity is, how do we, as guys and girls, walk in it?  Let me start by outlining what our responsibilities as guys are.  To know how we can best walk in purity involves knowing how those of the opposite sex are wired.  In his book, Sex is not the Problem (Lust is), Joshua Harris outlines this: "Their [a girl's] desire is often rooted in emotional longings.  They're stimulated by touch.  They're excited by being pursued."  So how can we interact with those of the opposite sex purely?  We stay away from doing what would distract a girl's attention from God and protect her from those who do!  Now be careful with the last part of that statement.  I'm not saying we should try to control someone's choices.  But as those who are trying to follow God and live in purity, if a brother in Christ is acting flirtatiously with a sister in Christ, being accountable to each other as Christians (1 Corinthians 5:11-13), we can politely advise him to stop.  We know the world will not protect a girl's physical, emotional, or spiritual purity, so we as Christians must protect our sisters from those who are simply out for the chase.

    For the Christian girls, you have some responsibility here too.  How can you walk in purity?  One important way is to not be someone who encourages her brothers in Christ to chase after her.  Not every guy knows their responsibilities in purity, not everyone has read Joshua Harris's book, and certainly not everyone has read this post, so you can't expect everyone to act in a godly way.  Whether you realize it or not, the way you dress, speak, and act can all have a humongous effect on a guy's heart.  So don't be the girl who provokes others to pursue her.  As Joshua Harris's wife Shannon says, "There's a big difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract."  This goes for the way you act too.  What is truly attractive to a godly man is a girl's character and not her appearance or flirtatious behavior.  

     This has been a pretty long post, but I hope that it reminds you to always pursue purity by first pursuing God, and keeping your brothers' and sisters' purity in mind with how you act.  For us singles on this couple-centered day called Valentine's Day, remember that God has someone saved for you.  You have to save yourself for them.  Until then, God is asking us, "Will you 'be Mine'?"