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Archive for June, 2011

I’ve attended many, many conferences over the last few years. I’m thankful for the opportunities to mingle with believers of all denominations (or none) and of all backgrounds and walks of life. What strikes me throughout these events, however, is how close our Christian beliefs — especially in the same God — can bring everyone so close together. And this not only happens at conferences, but in churches as well.

I can honestly say that nowhere else in this world have I seen such close relationships between older and younger believers. I love watching the older, 20+ year old brothers and sisters playing, talking, and giving advice to those half their age.  It definitely has a strong effect on how fast and properly the younger ones grow and mature.

There is such joy in being with other believers. My youth group is very close, as most of us grew up together since we were kids, and have interacted with our youth leaders since they were teens.  It has become easier over the years to join the youth group (ages 12+) and the Bible studies, challenges, and retreats/conferences such a membership includes.

Honestly, my church is where I grow the most. If I need to be with or talk to  someone, usually I can find them here. The majority of my friends are also from here.  (I attend a very small private school so there aren’t too many friendship opportunities). If one is really known by what company they keep, then I’m pretty sure I’m on the right path to properly reflecting the image of God. 🙂

With the positive aspects addressed, I now come to the problems that plague and undermine true Christian fellowship.

Perhaps the foremost problem is hypocrisy. I know some people who live differently at church events/weekends and at home/throughout the rest of the week. I am guilty of this behavior myself sometimes. I hit a sort of spiritual high during church services or events, then fall apart in sin for the rest of the week, neglecting my relationship with God. Then when the weekend rolls around, I pull myself together and attend church to once again reach that spiritual high. It’s an unhealthy habit that harms not only me, but also people around me. They’re fooled into thinking I’m what I’m not, that is: a strong believer who maintains a close relationship with God every day. I’m not saying I never have a close walk with the Lord, but there are times, many times, when I don’t.

Living in hypocrisy also prevents you from learning lessons God may have wanted to teach you. For example, the ability to understand scripture. The more you read the Bible, the better you get at uncovering truths in the words. It’s a matter of time, habit, and practice. But when you neglect regular Bible study, it’s a bit hard to contribute to group Bible studies and other such gatherings when they roll around. You just become rusty, so to say.

Hypocrisy is also fooling yourself. You think you’ve got it all together with God and your walk with Him, but really you’re only connecting with Him every so often. You miss out on so many chances to encounter God, to embrace what He has to show you; to hear what He has to say.

In relation of this with fellowship: you won’t be able to give as much to your fellow brothers and sisters as you could have. There are unique truths that God reveals only to certain people, and you could have been the one to share God’s message with your Christian community. Also, people may be fooled into thinking you’re a stronger and wiser/more knowledgeable believer than you really are. You may also unconsciously act this way. This is detrimental when it comes to helping other believers with spiritual problems and struggles. If anything, you may be bringing more harm to them than helping them move towards the light.

Hypocrisy will eventually come to light. And when something bad is revealed, problems and conflicts tend to arise. People feel cheated and fooled, even ridiculed in some cases. Your image and reliability will falter, and no one knows if they can really trust you anymore for a while. Relationships may fall apart, and mending them will prove difficult and many times painful. Of course, this all depends on the severity of the hypocrisy, but there are always consequences nevertheless that harm you and those around you.

A good resource I found on the topic of hypocrisy is a sermon by Ed Allen for Gateway Community Church, entitled “The Dangers of Hypocrisy”. The message outline can be found here.

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I’ve had the awesome opportunity to read some peoples’ blogs and posts, and have been greatly encouraged by what they wrote.

One hard thing about blogging is that to be truly effective in delivering whatever you learned from God to your audience, you must be sensitive to who your audience is. You must be wary of how you convey who you are. If I have trouble with  certain area of my life, say profanity, I should acknowledge that fact whilst condemning it in whatever article I wrote.
This is really important, because it makes the blogger seem more real and trustworthy. It shows the reader that someone out there struggles with the same things they do, and gives some credibility to the blogger’s words. The reader knows that they’re not alone. Books and conferences do this just fine as well, but they are usually all trained professionals that have overcome (with God’s help) the sins which they try to help other people get out of. Bloggers… are more “normal” people. They could be that kid down the street, the grocery man, the old lady you met on the plane. The only difference is that they’ve taken to sharing their lives online with other people.
Christian blogs touch me like no books can. I visualize the writer, still broken with his struggles and his quest to be right with God, and I know that what he says is out of pure desire to know God more every step of the way. Somehow that just clicks in my mind better than listening to a trained pastor/writer/theologian.
And one of the great things about knowing these people is that since I blog as well, I can relate to them on a certain level. I can comment on their posts, share similar ideas, encourage them, contact them, etc. It’s actually a virtual Christian community where the Christian writers can gather and spur each other on.
This is why I strongly endorse blogging, as do many of my blogging friends. It holds you accountable to some level to regularly study God’s word and pursue a daily walk with Him. And it works =D

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Recently I was at a market, shopping for anything that caught my eye. I found myself drawn to a lot of clothing styles I’ve always admired but never worn. After an hour or two, I walked out of the stores with new clothes and an elated spirit.

Only to have my spirit crushed  when I found out just what I’ve done.

*      *      *

Clothing and fashion trends are admittedly pointless. If you think about it, trends are people trying to look the same way by wearing the same style. Although there might be minor diversities, there is a reoccurring theme in most peoples’ attire (i.e. Converse/Vans shoes) . But the point is: who really cares? Who really thinks twice about what you’ve worn that particular day at school? Who even remembers how new your shoes or jacket are after a week or two? Sure, you might look nice, but catching peoples’ attention with that certain article of clothing will only last a couple of days at most before they ignore the fact that it’s new.

Therefore, why bother with clothing trends so much? The classic polo + jeans look for guys is enough (I’m not sure for girls) for almost any occasion. Looking good brings assurance only to your ego; it does nothing for real confidence. I’s like finding confidence in what you wear instead of something Greater. Something more Important. Something more Fulfilling.

Something like God.

Okay, I know, you aren’t obsessed over clothes like that poor girl down the street. But it has come to my understanding that some people spend quite a bit on clothing. And they are sadly drawn into finding comfort in the fact that they are dressed well and people are complimenting them. I find that pretty sad… mainly because I’ve done it myself a few times.

One strange thing that happens is that whenever I dress a bit better for church activities (and no, I don’t mean nicer as in more formal and stuff. Nicer as in more popular street clothing), I feel a whole lot more self-conscious than I would if I just threw on some basic clothes. It’s harder for me to carry on conversations, it’s harder for me to worship, and much harder for me to keep my clothes clean if we’re doing some more strenuous activities.

The reason? Because I’m thinking about what I look like. I’m ignoring the fact that God made me as I am. My clothes don’t define me. I could be wearing dirty rags and He’ll still see me the same way. And really, His point of view is much more valuable than anyone else’s.

I resolve to take the time I would normally send thinking about how I look to focus more on developing who I am inside. True beauty is found on the inside, for beauty is only skin deep — I’m sure many of you have hear. So if people know me as a godly young man bent on serving God and carrying out His well, who cares about the way I dress?

I’m not saying people should take all their clothes, toss them in a box, and dump them all in the local Goodwill donation center, but I am saying that we should assess our priorities on what really matters, the outside or the inside. I know this is a bigger struggle for girls, but hey, guys have problems with it too. But we can all find comfort in the fact that character trumps trends, and that in the Body of Christ, how much you love and serve God is what really accounts for who you are.

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