Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday reflections

Jonah 2

v. 2 "I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me"

v. 7 "When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD"

v. 8 "Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love."

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Colossians 1:9-10 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reflections on an afternoon drive

With promises of warmer weather, field work starts up again tomorrow, and with that, the beginning of my travels this year.

I'm writing from Gananoque, near 1000 Islands, just east of Kingston. Here are a few reflections from my afternoon drive.

Reflection 1: "I am Jonah"

Today's sermon at church, our pastor talked about Jonah. So many things struck me from that sermon. I especially liked the part when the sailors asked Jonah who he was. His reply was simply: "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."

First reaction is "Yikes! We're messing with the wrong god!" The other thing that struck me was Jonah's identity. It reminds me of that epic moment in the movie, Gladiator, when Maximus responds to Commodus (reference).

Gladiator Quotes

[Commodus enters the Colesseum arena to greet the Spaniard]
Commodus: Rise. Rise.

[Maximus stands up, clenching an arrow head in his right hand and in that same moment Lucius runs to join Commodus standing in front of him]
Commodus: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don't think there's ever been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man, he insists you are Hector reborn. Or was it Hercules? Why doesn't the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? You do have a name?

Maximus: My name is Gladiator.
[turns away from Commodus]

Commodus: How dare you show your back to me! Slave, you will remove your helmet and tell me your name.

[Maximus removes his helmet and turns around to face Commodus]
Maximus: My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

[Commodus is clearly in shock and without words]
Quintus: Arms! 

Isn't that epic? Wow. Who are you? 

Reflection 2: Epic Worship Music

I'll end this post with two worship songs that really spoke to me:

1. Matthew West's, "Hello, My Name is". This song speaks to my identity, who I once was and who I am now in Christ. There were definitely wet eyes during this song as I was driving.

2. Jeremy Camp's, "Reckless". This song came on right after "Hello, My Name Is". When I heard it, I wanted to start rowing. Weird, huh? This song connected to a deep longing within to be reckless for His glory. To make much of Him because He has made much of me. Enough said, just listen to the song :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Learning to finish well

The year started strong. I was diligent in my Bible readings, serving Christ in joy and growing in community. 

More recently, my life has been dry -- at least on the inside. This post is a self-reflection on my struggle to finish well, not on how to finish well. The latter I still need to learn.

It started a couple months ago. I made three dangerous choices:

1. I fought for a diligent and fervent prayer life.
2. I started sharing my faith.
3. I asked God for passion.

Shortly after a temporary high, 

1. I chose sleep over prayer, my job over my God;
2. I cared more for my comfort than the eternal destiny of others; and
3. I filled my life with the passions and cares of this world, giving little room for a sold-out heart for God.

My past self was resurfacing. Yikes! For example, Proverbs 12:16 says, "The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores [or overlooks] an insult." How easy it has been to be the fool rather than the prudent man.

A look on the surface tells me I struggle with anger problems. Looking deeper, I realize that anger is one of my many struggles of the flesh. And when I'm not abiding in Christ, the flesh often resurfaces. 

I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I want to do. Or as Paul so aptly wrote, "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am!" 

It would be depressing if it ended here. Thankfully, Paul continues, "Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Romans 7:22-25) 

And then, "Boom!" Romans 8.