Christ Is

I left school feeling overwhelmed with the day and upcoming week.

I have a test Thursday in Marketing and another test next Tuesday in Operations Management. As I thought through my week throughout the day I found very little “time” to set aside for studying. Now, I quote time because that time is time with nothing planned or when Jenna is working. I have been reluctant to give my time of things I want to do. I have time every night I can give to study but that would take away form things I want to do, like spend time with my wife.

Anyway, I was walking out of class through the dark of campus with Jenna on the phone but she was pretty much asleep giving me time to my thoughts. For some reason I chose to take a long path to my car through an unlit section of campus, I think this way my mind’s way of choosing a little bit a solace in craziness of the week. I actually walked down a more direct, more well lit path to my car and spontaneously turned around to take the other path. Regardless, I was spending time in my mind lifting the weights of the up coming week and beginning to feel a bit stress.

As I drove home, I hung up the phone so Jenna could go back to sleep (not to be a liar, I mostly did it so I could be alone for a bit) and rolled down the window and turned up some Thrice. The weather was perfect. The air was soft, slightly cool with very little humidity. As I drove I sang some Thrice, thinking how bad my singing was, and taking random moments to again contemplate my week.

An explicit thought flashed in my head, literally flashed and then I put it out of mind: “Christ, there is rest in you.” Now, that is a paraphrase, but that is the jist of what ran through my head. My favorite Thrice song, Come All You Weary, came on so I began to sing loud and think, once again, about how poor my singing was, especially with all the allergies recently.

For this next part to make sense you must understand the scope of the MP3 CD that is in my truck CD player right now. It is an album with only Thrice and Dustin Kensrue songs on it. I keep it on shuffle all the time. Ninety-two track with only one on there twice, I believe (because it was on two different albums I have); that track is Come All You Weary. When it came back on after the first time it went off I thought, “Huh, that’s strange. What are the chances?” And while I was doing the usual nerdy thing I do and mathematically calculate the chance I suddenly realized why that song came on.

It wasn’t about mathematics or probability or duplicate songs or song order. It was about my upcoming week. It was about stopping and listening to the first few lines of the song:

Come all you weary with your heavy loads Lay down your burdens, find rest for your souls My yoke is easy and my burden is kind I’ll take yours upon me and you can take mine

It was all about Christ. I had the flash of rest in Christ move through my mind, but I didn’t get it. I was too self absorbed and trying to cope on my own.

I believe he played those back to back for a reason. I didn’t get it the first time. I finally understood it the second. No matter what my week entails, he is there for me, to take my burden and guide me along.

Ever since that moment tonight, I have had an overwhelming peace. I realize that I will still have to put time in studying and making the necessary sacrifices for these tests and this week, but I now see the perspective without aberration. Ultimately, Christ is. That is all. It doesn’t matter if I get an A on my tests or flunk out of the MBA program. Christ is. I have discovered throughout life the God has always worked in every circumstance for me and will continue to do so.

Until I finally meet him I am compelled to continue to do my best, better myself, lead my family and love others. While doing all of this acknowledging that Christ is.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

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What’s it really worth?

The show ‘It’s Worth What!?’ tries to make people guess what some crazy items are worth. The items range from clothes, to antique furniture, to live animals. While an entertaining show, the premise is simple and the pricing is subjective, I think everyone agrees on that. Markets for everything fluctuate, regardless if they are stocks or antiques.

Today really got me thinking how much things are really worth. In the grand scheme of things, not so much. When this life here is over, how valuable is a solid gold golf club? I can tell you it isn’t worth the $1800+/oz you might think.

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Phil 3:7-11

The glory of these earthly items and treasures pale in comparison to the perfect one who made them.

I am a person who buys something (manmade) new, looks at it , and spots the smallest flaw in it. Imagine looking at the most perfect being in all of creation, who created everything flawless from the beginning, and trying to find flaw. It can’t be done. Not only that, he fulfills every need, every want, every desire you could ever have.

Death is inevitable, heartbreaking, and painful. But ‘We will cross over unharmed.*’ Praise Christ, the living God for the eternity he has given us. The most glorious day we will ever encounter is the one we fear the most.

*Thrice – Disarmed

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Shelter

The rain pounded against the window violently. The trees were swaying as the thunder shook the landscape. The birds were huddled in their bests, trying to shield each other from the torrent of rain. Foxes and creatures on the ground did not stir but instead tried to find shelter wherever they could.

Inside the little cottage by the woods, a fire blazed brightly. There too, creatures we huddling together. Though this huddling was not one of shelter from the gale outside. It was one of love. The man, his wife, and their dog.

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Face to Face & Running

Face to Face

A smoking tower
A burning flame
To know One who saves

Blackened skin
And charred bones
Only the ashes remain

My life is gone
Here no more
Still my spirit weeps

Weeps of praise
Weeps of thanks
Finally Face to Face

 

Running

I grabbed that hand
Packed my bags
And kissed His cheek

Alone in the deep
In despair
I know He still cares

Open arms
Welcoming back
Can this be real

This Forgiveness
This Grace
This Love is real

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The Boy of Treeland

There once was a boy, in a tree up high.
He looked down at the world, what he saw made him cry.
The thing he desired, yet so far away,
‘Maybe I will finally reach it one day.’

‘If only there was, a way I think ,
To get to the ground, so think think think!
But my whole life, the life I’ve known,
I’ve never been down to the ground below.’

‘If only I had wings like the birds of the sky,
I could fly away forever, kiss this tree goodbye.
But such as poor Icarus would be my fate,
When the Sun and the wax begin to mate.’

A storm blew up, so ferocious with might,
It turned the day sky to the blackness of night.
The wind whipped round with a thud and a crack,
And the tree broke off and the boy went smack.

He saw stars as he was dazed and confused,
‘I must have hit a branch’ he groggily mused.
Lying on his back he took a big breath,
‘I wonder what this is, I smell something fresh.’

‘This can’t be bark of that I’m sure,
It’s soft like velvet and wonderfully pure!’
Bright color abounding unlike dull brown
‘I don’t believe it, I think I’ve hit ground.’

He turned he head, shocked at what he saw,
A sweet little girl trapped under a log.
‘Oh this cursed tree, I’ve hated it so,
Its taken the only one that I’d like to know.’

Her body came to life with a cough and a sputter,
The boy leaned down and he heard her mutter.
‘What has happened, what is this log?
I was struck by this tree while taking a jog.’

The boy helped her up and get herself free,
‘I wonder if that’s the boy who’s been looking at me.’
‘I came from the tree’ he said as he shook,
‘I’m the boy who has been giving you looks.’

A smile lit up and her face brightly shone,
‘Why don’t we talk about this on the way home?’
The boy and girl walked hand in hand,
Never again to return to Treeland.

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My Journey Through Romans 8: Part 3 v. 18-30

The Bible bookends with two magnificent images.  The first being our creation by God, the perfect Earth he made for us, and our unity with God.  The end being our final redemption through the second coming of Christ, our perfect bodies, our perfect new home, and our right standing with God.

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.     -Revelation 21:3-7

Our first creation was perfect.  No doubt about it.  Our final creation is also perfect.  God tells us he is the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, just like our created habitats.  The disheartening part is the middle.  The time between these two states of utter glory and perfection.  Nothing on this Earth can ever compare to the glory, majesty, and brilliance of being in the prescience of God.  So long as we live, we can only imagine what that would be like.  Contrary to this, many things in this world can be disheartening, saddening, maddening, and depressing.  With war happening all the time, strife between each other, even Christians, murders, rape, kidnapping, pornography, and all of the other evils we encounter in this life, it is easy to be discouraged about the glory of God.  That is what Paul is concerned with in this part of his letter.

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

All the writers of the Bible do not deny that we will suffer.  Peter focuses on suffering as a major theme in some of his writings.

14But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…   -1 Peter 3:14-15

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.   -1 Peter 4:12-13

It is the glory ahead, the righteousness that Christ has made for us that we hope for.  My last post dealt with becoming sons, or co-heirs, with Christ in all that is his.  Paul expresses creation’s longing for us to become sons of God.  This will be the perfection of everything Christ did.  This will be at the end.  Until then we must keep our hope strong.

20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And 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. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

The sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden created this problem.  God expelled man from His perfection.

16To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
17And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”    -Genesis 3:16-19

We weren’t meant to have pain, thorns or thistles, discord between each other, and death.  These were the consequences though for our actions.  God made us stewards to the planet and he also cursed the planet because of us.  This is why Paul personifies creation as groaning.  As Christians we groan too.  We wait for the fulfillment of our Savior to make this right again.  The best part of our groaning is that we know there is a coming answer.  We must patiently wait, knowing that God is working in our everyday lives as well as preparing a future for us.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.   -Romans 8:28  [Some manuscripts read God works all things together for good or God works in all things for the good.]

1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.”  -John 14:1-4

If it weren’t enough to have this hope and knowledge that God is working for us always, we get even more encouragement.

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Spirit of God.  Take some time to search the Bible and look for the Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, Spirit of of Christ, and the many others names by which He can be called.  He is a part of God.  He is God.  The book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan goes into great depth about who the Holy Spirit is and His role in our lives.  It is a phenomenal insight to the nature of God.  One thing he says is this:

“… the Spirit is infinite and cannot be known fully by humans.  Know that even as you seek to understand the Spirit more, He is so much more and bigger than you will ever be able to grasp.  This is not an excuse to stop seeking to know Him, but don’t limit Him to what you can learn about Him.  The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him.  Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.”

We have God dwelling in us each and every second of every day.  Helping guide our decisions, pull us through tough times, celebrating with us, teaching us new things.  Paul talks bout the Spirit’s interceding for us with God the Father.  We pray to God for things we want, for forgiveness, for thanks, for praise, but there are some things we may forget, or we may not know how to ask for them, or can’t seem to put them in words.  Praise God the Spirit is there for us.  God knows what we need and what we even want thanks to God the Spirit in us.  This is part of God working for our good in all things.  To top off this hope God knows us.

29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God sets his love on us.  He cleanses us.  He glorifies us.  The hope yet to come is incredible.  The best part of our current state of hope is that God is right there with us.  Life is rough and discouraging but we know that there are better things to come in the future when Christ’s full glory is revealed.  Come, Lord Jesus.

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My Journey Through Romans 8: Part 2 v. 5-17

Flesh.  We are flesh.  If one performs a Google search using just the term flesh they find what one would expect to find.  Definitions of what the body is made of, tattoos, diseases of the flesh, and even a movie titled Flesh that is described as “A man desperate for money and no income, turns prostitute and interplays with a variety of clients and hustlers.”

“5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

If we are flesh are we automatically hostile to God?  In short, yes.  Even as I write this I tell myself no.  I am not hostile towards my God!  But the truth is that we are.  This is not something that began with us.  This goes back to creation.  We are children of Adam and Eve and therefore sinners.  The fall of man put us all at direct opposition with God.  We are automatically starting out behind.  There is good news to this though, we don’t have to catch up alone.

“9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'”

The Spirit of God, God himself, lives in us.  Is there a greater hope than this?  My last post dealt with the cleansing power of Christ and the Spirit in us so I won’t repeat it here, but honestly, how amazing is it to know that although we are naturally hostile towards God we are still forgiven and counted righteous through our faith and the grace of God?  The ability to fall on our face and cry out to God in the midst of pain, joy, suffering, celebration is a gift we can never repay.  Throughout the Psalms the writer cries out to God in many different ways:

3:1 “O Lord, how many are my foes!”

5:1 “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.”

13:1 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”

45:6 “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

61:1 “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;”

Anguish, requests, lament, praise.  We can approach our God with all of it.  There is even a difference between us and the psalmist.  He was bound by the Law, we are freed from the Law and brought into God’s presence through the sacrifice of Christ.  While he cried to God there was still a lack of connection.  The gap of sin had not yet been bridged and the Spirit of God had not yet been given.  How much more are we then privileged?

“16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Titus 3:7 “…so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

We are considered heirs with Christ.  Heirs to inherit glory and eternal life.  Christ owns everything.  EVERYTHING.  John states this in his Gospel from the very beginning.

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

This talk about becoming heirs with Christ becomes ever more humbling when we begin to grasp what that truly means.  Imagine for a moment you walk out to your mailbox one day and see a letter from a lawyer.  Many things will probably start running through your mind, ‘Am I being sued?’ ‘What have I done wrong?’ or you may simply just be confused.  Now imagine that you open that letter to find out that your mother had a brother that you never knew existed but he sure knew about you.  Turns out he has always wanted you to have everything you ever wanted because he never had kid of his own.  His everything then becomes your.  His fortune, his home, his cars, let’s say he was so rich he even owned his own island that is now your island.  Sounds like a dream come true right?  Back to reality.  That chances of that happening to you on this earth are extremely low.  Now let’s focus on the truth.  Everything that your rich uncle had wasn’t his, it was Christ’s.  This entire earth is Christ’s.  The universe.  He made it all, he rules is all, and he is sharing it with you.  The Lord of all creation is beckoning that we become co-heirs with him.  The material things, such as this world, still don’t compare with the eternal life that he gives us, which, keep in mind, he still owns.

I could spend a lot more time referencing all the places in the Bible that talk about denying the flesh and living by the Spirit but I’ll let you read them on your own.  I want to end this on this last note:

Revelation 21 “1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The glory of God is unfathomable and never ending and he chooses to share that with us.  Come, Lord Jesus.

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