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Archive for February, 2012

One Voice

Listening to and singing the song One Voice, I’m constantly convicted and moved by the powerful truth behind its words.

In my life, my parents have exposed me to a variety of churches throughout the years. I’ve met strong baptists, Amish-like people, house churches, local churches, conservative churches, charismatic churches, etc. it was not until I came to my school and came into contact with the Lord’s Recovery (a nondenominational ‘church’ network known for their slightly unorthodox methods of worship and Bible study) that I really began to ponder how much variety is in the Body.

I was also struck by the realization of how large the Body of Christ is. If every one of my schoolmates were a genuine believer, which they all claim to be, that’s already over 100 fellow brothers and sisters going to school with me every day.

Add that to your church, and throw in all the conferences you’ve been to. Multiply that by the many ministries, organizations, and churches across the nation and all over the world.

It’s huge.

The other day I was talking with an older brother, and we somehow ended up on the topic of the church; more specifically, how our church functions, how the Evangelical Formosan Churches (EFC’s) (my church’s fellowship affiliation) function, and how different church chains have different requirements for affiliation. We also discussed our roles in the church, how every single person has something to contribute. We need to work together as a youth group in order that our church can function, the EFCs work, and the worldwide Body grow. It all starts by how each individual works for the Body.

This thought brought me to ponder something: if every person counts, and only through cooperation will the church grow… Just how important is the way we treat each other?

Looking at my youth group, it is true (and a bit shameful) that we’ve formed cliques. There are (informal yet exclusive) events that occur where only some people are invited, such as certain outings. There are activities that are exclusive. Also, whenever we socialize, groups tend to form where everyone is crowded around intent on a conversation.

In observing my classmates, who have grown up together since junior high, I’ve been a bit appalled at the way they interact. Some of the stuff they say can be really damaging, but they’re oblivious to it because they think the offended knows that the offender is just teasing. Looking at my youth group from this perspective, I can see that we have the same problem as well. Perhaps not as extreme, but definitely still existing.

As Christians we really need to watch how we interact. Be determined to build each other up, and observe boundaries when we’re making jokes. We also have to be wary of becoming exclusive, because really, people will get or feel hurt. If the church depended on the interaction between its members, we need to be bearing each other’s burdens, pray for and counsel each other, expressing love, humility, and a servant’s spirit. We are not to belittle each other, make inappropriate jokes, or discuss topics that may hinder or stunt younger believers, but move towards being a family in Christ.

I like the illustration someone I know used before, which states that if God is the Father, then the Church is the Mother. You, every individual believer, are THE church, since the church consists of individuals. Therefore, we should nourish and care for each other. Change will only happen if each person is wary and convicted of monitoring the way they interact with other believers.

Here’s the song One Voice:

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‎”And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

1 Peter 1:17-21

I read this passage a few days ago for my devotions, and was a bit jarred by its bluntness. However, it’s the raw truth.

Too often I find myself calling God my Father and Friend. The problem is that by habitually calling and thinking of Him as such, I begin losing reverence for Him. I begin losing sight of the gruesome pain that Jesus endured in order to atone for my sins. I ask God for forgiveness when I’ve done wrong, asking to “claim the blood of Christ” to purify me. But I forget one important fact.

It’s blood.

Strangely enough, I refuse to watch films with blood in them, and absolutely hate anything to do with the depiction or description of that substance. Why? Because quite frankly (laying aside the irony of knowing blood sustains me and I have about six liters of it flowing through me all the time), it scares me. It also disgusts me to a certain extent. I’m pretty sure that is the case with many people as well.

Why don’t I always remember that I’ve been purchased by blood; the life force of a human being? Why is it that I assume that Christ’s sacrifice was such an almost insignificant process, that I would continue to dare to say ok to temptation instead of striving to live a life of freedom that was bought for me through the shedding of His blood?

I appreciate the number of verses that continually to note that it was the “precious blood of Christ”. Blood is likely the most important possession of a human being (or any living creature, for that matter). It is not something one gives away freely. To give up one’s life for others is the most noble of sacrifices.

It’s the preciousness of the blood of Christ that needs to continue to remind us that we are not to keep calling Jesus our friend, but also our Savior, the person who was sacrificed to redeem us. On this note, calling God our Father is an extremely intimate privilege. After all, God is also the Creator and the Judge of humanity. We have been given the right to call Him by more personal names, but we should not forget that such a right was given through the ultimate sacrifice.

As such, I should not take the terms Father and friend for granted, but constantly remind myself of why I can even use them in the first place.

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As today is my second day of Lent, I’ve had a few thoughts about what I’m doing.

I gave up movies/TV shows/other media outlets for Lent. However, I quickly found other sources of entertainment.

I noted, however, that my actions are sort of defeating the purpose of giving something up. My goal is to free up time, and by finding loopholes in activities, I’m still not opening up time to spend with God.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”

– Jeremiah 29:13

I’ve loved this verse since I first read it. It’s a constant reminder to me that the point of laying aside distractions isn’t to be more “spiritual” in “separating” or “distancing” myself from “worldly things”, but it is to be able to seek the Lord with all that I am: body, soul, mind and spirit.

I pray that in this Lenten season (and afterwards), I will be constantly reminded to give God my all, and not just some activities.

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Imagine my surprise when I found out today that Lent had started this past Wednesday.

To be honest, I’ve tried participating in Lent in the past few years, but it never really worked out. I either broke my commitment to give something up, or neglected my daily devotions, Bible study, and/or prayer and meditation. Most of the time, I’d forget I was even doing Lent… until the last few days before Easter Sunday.

I hope to make things different this year, however. I still do plan on giving something up – not for the sake of doing Lent, but because what I want to give up (movies/TV shows/secular videos/entertainment) are honestly things I can live without. In addition, they usually provide a means of subtle temptation, and I don’t want to have to deal with distracting and sinful thoughts when I should be focusing on the Lord.

However, this time I want to spend a lot more time on my relationship with God. Hopefully by freeing up more time, I can spend my leisure time blogging and fulfilling my goals:

  • Know, revere, and respect God in His holiness and majesty Too often I forget that God is a King. He is the Judge of my soul, and the Creator who placed me on earth. His offer of a relationship with Him should not be taken lightly; He is holy; I am sinful, and I should acknowledge that it is only in His great mercy that I even have a chance of praying to Him and spend eternity with Him.
  • Hunger and thirst for the Word I want to develop a craving for the Word of God. I want it to be an essential part of my day. In fact, I want the Lord to go as far as to wreck my day until I finally pick up my Bible to spend time with Him. If force is what I need to become disciplined enough to develop a ravenous appetite for the Word, then let it be so. I need the Word, and I want to do everything possible to be filled with it.
  • Passionate in prayer Prayer is powerful. There is no doubt that God works mightily when His people pray. I notice that too often I pray to God for help. God is not a call-in service, and prayer is not a telephone call. If I have the audacity to speak to the King of the Heavens and the Earth, I should be on my knees in prayer, asking for His mercy first, then intercession, and only after that ask for His help. I want to develop a righteous, faithful prayer life. Not because I want to be a better Christian, but because I want to draw near to the heart of God, and only through speaking to Him and meditating on His word can I succeed in this endeavor.

I’m going to need a lot of God’s grace and a good deal of accountability in order to keep it up this lent season. As to my devotions, I’ll be continuing what I’m reading now: through 1 Peter, then 2 Peter, and then perhaps Hebrews or Colossians.

Are you doing Lent this year? I’d love to know what you’re doing and perhaps help keep you accountable as well! 🙂

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The Words We Speak

Months ago, I wrote a guest article that discussed the evil and damage profanity can do. It received a number of comments that dripped with the very words I spoke against, and like any person, the words wounded me. However, some of the comments offered advice between their critical words. I had not used Bible verses to support my argument, and therefore the readers assumed that I was speaking from my heart and not the Word of God.

I feel the need, however, to address the issue once more – this time on my own blog. Profanity and destructive language have always been a topic that has bothered me. Anyone can see the damage that words can do. What many don’t see is the fact that profanity can prove to be a stumbling block to other people, especially in the Body of Christ. Also, what we say reflects our own character, and not only that: as believers we are called to reflect Christ, and if unwholesome talk is constantly spilling from our mouths, what image are we projecting to unbelievers?

One of my favorite verses concerning this topic is Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

It constantly reminds me that whatever I say can either build people up or break and tear them down. Since one of our responsibilities as believers is to encourage each other and to lift each other up through prayer and fellowship, to constantly say negative words would be defeating that entire endeavor.

The Bible also discusses the strange fact that believers, who have been transformed by the blood of Christ, would still speak unwholesomely.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

– James 3:10

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:4

We use our words to praise the Lord for what He has done. The same mouth we use to speak praise, we use to say filthy words that destroy people. The image that came to my mind is a faucet from where we draw clean, drinking water… and then taking the same faucet and drawing from it waste water. How revulsive would that be? What purpose does the faucet really serve; as a waste disposal or a dispenser of drinking water?

We are commanded: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Profanity and filthy language are associated with the world for a good reason. If Christians are truly transformed by their salvation, they turn away from worldly, evil things to the purity and holiness of Christ. If we speak as the world does, then we are conforming to it. This is dangerous because Jesus Himself gave a haunting warning to those who speak unwholesomely: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37

I believe this verse packs a whole lot more meaning than what it literally says. Words have power, as previously stated, but more so because the Word of God is made of, well, words. In John 1:1-14, Jesus is described as the Word that became flesh. It makes sense that we will be judged by our words, because through the Word – Jesus – we will be judged on Judgment Day. We have been warned, and have no excuse we can present to God for what we have said, do, and will say.

Therefore, I pray that in the days and years to come, we will be constantly reminded to say to God: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

All verses are taken from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version

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Enthralled by God

I’ve been wondering… What exactly does it feel like to be completely enthralled by God, to feel so loved by Him that we are able to surrender ourselves to nothing else but Him alone?

The word “love” is so broad. It can conjure up a number of possible meanings. It appears, however, that there is a deep aching within every person to be loved, to be desired, to be comforted. I read a recent blog post from a friend of mine, which you can read here:

Reading the post, I began to brainstorm how many and what kinds of people might be looking for love in the world. Why they feel lonely and unloved. Especially the special interest group discussed in the post. What they’re really looking for is a way to “fill the expanse less void in their souls”. If you are familiar with this quote, it continues “[a void] only God can fill.”

I’m still trying to understand how the love relationship between God and us works, how he expresses His love, how we feel it, etc. I’ve been exposed to several beautiful love songs written to God, and that helps me understand our side of the relationship. (ex: Absolutely by Starfield)

What does the love between God and us look like? I’m sure that the world has twisted my idea of love and relationships, so that I can’t understand the spiritual and the most important kind properly.

This will be an interesting topic for me to research and pray about in the next few weeks.

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