Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where is Your God?

             "Things like this really make you think and remember those things that are most important in life" This cliche and trite statement is one that is usually offered after great tragedies. This first time I can remember an event that sparked that response happened when I was in my fourth grade classroom, Mrs. Hembree was crying and we didn't understand why. I mean September 11th was just another day right? Well 11 years later we know differently. The next time would be a little later and would not be the cause of a terrorist group but rather the destructive forces of nature under the alias "Katrina". Time and time again great tragedy would shake the world's population and cause us to think for a few days... but then mostly we go on back to our lives until the next catastrophe.  
               Unfortunately tragedy has struck once again in our nation. In a small Northeastern town a gunman walked into an elementary school and cause the nation to stop. In Newtown, Connecticut a town of less than 30,000 people 20 young kids were murdered that morning. Upon hearing it, some of our memories raced back to Columbine or Virginia Tech but all of us could not help but shake our heads in disbelief and anguish. 

             This Friday upon hearing news of great loss, great pain, great evil, but also great heroism (in the story of the teachers) our Nation has once again been forced to sit back and think as our cliche statement reminds us. 

            One question has arisen from the countless questions asked by hurt and confused people, garnering many facebook posts and politician responses. The question is  "Where was God when this was happening?"

            As I was reading the responses to this question, I was baffled and honestly troubled. Many of them go something like this..."Where was God? Well I'll tell you where He was, for years You people have been pushing Him out of the school system and our Nation! Now you want to ask where He is?" Responses like this are getting tons of likes and are even being brought before Government officials (Rachel Smart's Dad). While I'm sure these people have very genuine hearts and truly do mean the best, I want to raise one caution.

          When David in Psalm 139:7 stated "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?"  He was hitting on a very important part of our faith and religion. You see in the following verses David answers these questions by concluding that there is nowhere he can go to escape the presence of God. Not even Hell itself.  Again in Deuteronomy 31 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

            A very important aspect of Who God is can be found in the fact that He is Omnipresent, or that He is forever present everywhere. This means as Psalm 23 states We need not fear in our darkest days because our God is with us. We sing these truths in songs while standing in our Church Pews but in our response to this resounding question we deny them.

            We have said that in our Government's enforcing laws banning spiritual actions within a School they have effectually removed God from our Schools. My Friends no man has that power! I thank God that NO ONE has the power to remove us from His presence, not even the President of the United States! We as the Church and as those who claim to be followers of Christ must not confuse an absence of organized spiritual acitons with the absence of the One those actions are directed to! Our God is very much alive and well not only in our Schools but everywhere! This means that in order for a revival in our nation we need not get actions unbanned but instead focus on turning hearts back to the One who is begging for them to come to Him. 

          As the famous theologian A.W. Tozer once said "We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts." 
             So when our friends ask us "Where was your God when this happened?", we need nearly reply "He was there and He is here. He never left and He never will. He just begging for our acknowledgement, attention and adoration. Because the question should never be is God here or there, but rather are we seeking Him?


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Greatest War no one talks about

Hey guys,
It's been a while (9 Months in fact) but I have decided to pick up the old pen and pad (keyboard and screen) and jot down what God has been teaching me and see what you guys think. I hope you enjoy!

As a young man it may not surprise you that I love the gut-wrenching, adrenaline-pumping, chest hair flowing nature of war movies. Whether it's the suspense as the soldiers try to capture a town or the fear you feel for them as they are hunkered down in a foxhole with bombs exploding around them, they suck me in and get my heart racing. Here recently some of my friends and I have been watching Band of Brothers, which is one of my all time favorites. The issue of War is one that through movies and the history books our culture is very used to.

So it should be no surprise that in the church we often talk about wars as well. We have the great physical battles of the old testament, whether that be David and Goliath or Gideon or even Joshua and Jericho. We also talk about the spiritual warfare as angels and demons fight all around us too. Pastors such as John Piper are also very keen on talking about warring over sin, the idea that we fight against sin and fight for purity.

However I think there is one war that no one is talking much about. This war can at times be silent, and while it is often in the background of our lives it has bearing on every circumstance of life. The Great War I speak of is the war over Trust.

You may be sitting there reading this thinking "Dustin, what in the world are you talking about? You are telling me that the greatest war going on is fought over trust?" Before you hit that nice little red x in the top of your screen humor me and allow me to explain.

Imagine you are sitting in a bland ole town with nothing, when all of a sudden a travel agent offers you to go on the best vacation you could possibly think of.... It promises relaxation and restoration of every part of you... and the best part it's a free gift from a Pilot. He tells you of this great Pilot who is not only going to pick you up where you are at but He is personally going to fly you all the way there and ensure your arrival at your destination.

So you get on the plain and you fly there trusting in the pilot to not only take you from your current state but also trusting him to fly you all the way there safely and land at your destination safely. Why would you trust this Pilot??? You trust the pilot because he has promised to take you there safely and because He is the most qualified person to fly the plane, right?

 How ridiculous would it be if you let the pilot take off and as soon as the plane was in motion you asked the pilot to give you the controls?? We would say that's absurd, it's not our job to fly the plane so we should sit back and enjoy our role.

I think often times that is exactly what goes on in the lives of Christians though. We say Jesus I trust you to save me out of my current mess, and I trust you that one day that you will bring me to my destination.  But in the air time between our past and future we want to fly the plane.

When God saves us He promises to change our heart and transform us into likeness of His son Jesus. When it comes to this process we want to say "Hey God, thanks for getting this plane started, but how about I fly this for a bit. Let me show you that I can do this. I'll let you land it, but let me prove to you I can fly this on my own"

 Deep down when we sin and see weakness within ourselves our gut reaction is to pray harder or read more scripture or fast more. In so doing under the disguise of spirituality is a heart that learns to trust more in actions for God than God himself. We think we will be pure if we do                 more.

Meanwhile Jesus from the cross is screaming stop trying war against what I have already defeated. Jesus cries for us to have faith in Him, not to have faith in our faith in Him.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)  

and again in his letter to the Galatians

 "Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?" ?(Galatians 3:3) 

We too often desire to trust in ourselves, when God simply desires for us to trust in Him. To trust that He will finish what He began. We still pray and we still read the Bible and we still fast, however, we no longer do those things so that we will be free from sin. We do those things to praise God because He is freeing us. We no longer read the Bible seeing what do I need to do next we instead read it as what has God done for me which evokes a response from us. Because God is on the throne we don't have to be!!!!

So instead of trying to fight the pilot for the controls to our plane, let's sit back, obey what He says and allow our heart to trust in One who is much greater than us to do a work that is much greater than us.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Burn On!

Hey all this is my first post of the new year, so of course while attempting to not be cliche or cheesy I'm going to address a very prominent topic: New Year's Resolutions. 

Tis the season for gyms to be over-crowded with folks trying to shed off that holiday hangover that stretches out over their pants, for health food stores to be selling out of their low fat items, and for nike outlets to be selling out of their new running shoes. As we across america make our resolutions and begin to implement them into our lives.

This got me thinking why do we make these resolutions? Why year after year do people strive to lose weight or get back in shape? After some thought I think I may have it down, because innately I believe we as people recognize there are areas in our lives in need of improvement so in order to improve our lives we resolve to change.

This led me to smile and have joy that in a sense New Years Resolutions can be a wake up call from apathy as it drives us to change. However, then I realized woah! Our society's big wake up call is that we need to change how we look? This is really where we need improvement and this is really how we are going to better the world??

What lasting impact does this have? How does losing 15 pounds really impact your neighborhood. Now pleas understand my heart, I'm not trying to say losing weight before bathing suit season is a bad thing. However what I am saying is I think there is a better use of our resolution. If we are going to resolve to do something, to place significant effort into something, it should be worth the effort!

So with that being said, allow me to possibly remind you of a very simple but life-changing concept.

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

This year for an impact that lasts strive to with everything you have seek God! Pursue a deepening relationship with Him that so consumes you that it effects every aspect of your life. 

I once heard someone say "I want God to set a Fire in me that burns so wildly people want to watch me burn." We find in Hebrews 12 That God is an all consuming fire. So this New Year may we simply but passionately Burn On! 

We will have off days, even weeks, but unlike our resolutions to lose weight; let's not quit after we miss the gym one day. Let's continue to press on. Fires will often wane at times only to have more fuel be added to them so that they will burn hotter and longer. Our love and passion for God is the fire; and through His word, prayer, and fellowship with other believer we have plenty of fuel. 

This January until the day we pass may we be a generation that seeks God with all our heart, and may we Burn On!