Thursday, November 07, 2013

Lord, let me have FAITH in You as in a Chair!

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1

No matter where a chair is or what it looks like, we trust it. Without conscious thought, we confidently take a seat, knowing it will hold us. Rarely, if ever, do we analyze a chair and question it‘s strength or think about it failing under our weight. But how often do we question God and His abilities? It is so unfortunate that we tend to have more faith and more trust in a chair than we do in God! Yes, we often have more faith in a chair!!! How crazy is that?!

In spite of what scripture says about who Jesus is and all he has done, time after time, we question Him in various forms. We stop tithing when money gets tight... We stop going to church when busy or stressed to spend those extra hours at home relaxing... We pray for Him to take a burden, only to reclaim it, and try to solve things for ourselves... Somehow we forget all the times he has come through for us, all He has brought us out from, and where He has brought us to.

"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God." Romans 10:17. So here's the kicker, to have faith, we have to be studying the Bible, going to church, etc. (dum dum dumm!) I'd be willing to bet that a person's faith directly correlates with the time and energy they spend in the bible and in prayer. And did you know that “without faith it is impossible to please God”? Yes, impossible. Faith communicates that "It doesn't matter what the situation looks like. I believe you. I trust you. I know you're capable. I know you will come through." Think about the reverse. When a person doesn't have faith what they may say or live out is, "This situation is too powerful for you to handle. I don't believe you. I don't trust you. I don't think you're capable. I don't think you will come through." Ouch. Talk about a knife in the heart! You may be familiar with Jeremiah 29:11,"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD.” Also, Romans 8:28 attests, “All things work together for them that love God and are called according to his purposes.” Do we really believe these statements? And if so, is it displayed in our thoughts and actions? Do others see it and hear it?

Time after time, Jesus says some form of “according to the measure of your faith, let it be done to you” to those seeking Him for various infirmities. But lucky us, the bible also says that with faith as small as a mustard-seed we can do “impossible” things (Matthew 17:20)! But in Mark 11:22, Jesus characterizes what faith, whether large or small, must look like, saying 'Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Jesus further clarifies this faith in James 1, "...when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do." You must ask truly believing, without any doubt, hoping in God alone for the thing you are asking for or praying about.

Being a Christian doesn't somehow magically exempt us from the troubles and pain in life, but it does change how we view and deal with these things. James 1:1-4 says, "Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." I once heard that faith untried or untested is not really faith at all. Just like a chair, we could believe it won’t break, but if we never sit in it, we never really know with certainty. For faith to be strong, you have to exercise it. And remember that chairs are man-made, and from time to time, they do fall apart. Happy sitting ;-) 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

8 Hours

Ever heard the song, "Stop the World" by Matthew West? Wow, what a sad testament to all the distractions we have in our lives today! And what a hold they have over us!! I agree! It’s so easy to forget that each of us only have 24 hours a day. Take away 8 for sleep and we're down to 16... Subtract another 8 for work and we're down to 8! Gosh! It goes so fast! So, here comes the big question (no sighs! Come on, you had to know this question was coming): how are you spending those remaining 8 hours? (gulp)

I must inform you, as you are likely already aware of, that we all will give an account for how we used the time and resources that God gave us. The Bible speaks often and directly about accountability. Here are just a few:

ECC 11:9 "...But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do."

Matthew 12:36 "And I tell you this, you must give an account for every idle word you speak."

Romans 14:12 "Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God."

Hebrews 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable."


And as if that wasn't enough, Jesus even spoke about accountability through parables, such as with The Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25, where the master calls each of the three servants to give an individual account of how, in his absence, they used the money he gave them.

We have to remember that ultimately, WE choose how to spend our day. We choose to read the Word and seek God or not. We choose to flip on the TV, turn on the radio, and get on the internet to watch/listen to things that have nothing to do with Him, and are quite frankly, just downright dishonoring to Him. We make that choice.

I don't mean this in a condemning way. I'll be the first person to say that change is difficult, especially in the midst of longstanding habits and challenging environments. But you have a vision of where you'd like to be, or at least where you'd like to be headed, I know you do. So, think, really think, about how you are spending your time and where your actions will ultimately lead. Are they helping you to reach that dream/goal? Or are they holding you back from it?

What are you doing with the 8 hours God has given you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's all in the Name: Aspiring Christian

Why “Aspiring Christian” you ask? That’s simple. Let’s start with a definition or two:

1) Aspire
a. to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value.
b. to rise up; sour; mount; tower.

2) Christian
a. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christ-Like
b. a person who in his or her life exemplifies the teachings of Christ

If you look these definitions up for yourself, you will see that I have picked the ones that most pertain to the purpose of this blog and what I truly meant by and envisioned “Aspiring Christian” to be. At any rate, we all have ambitions, or at least we should. How do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you are going, and more importantly, how will you know when you get there, or if you are even going the right direction?

I aspire to exemplify Christ in all ways and in all things, exactly as he is represented in the bible. I don’t want to believe something just because it is “common Christian knowledge,” “culturally correct,” or “tradition.” I want to know exactly what the bible says. Not what it can be made to say. And we should all check into things for ourselves (yes, even what your pastor says; God says to test all things). And then we need to ask why something is the way it is and how it came to be that way, especially it is not verifiable in the Word of God. It is so important to know what you believe and why. Otherwise, what sort of foundation do you have? And how will you be able to impart your beliefs to others or even defend them? Yes, I agree. That can be a bit scary and even a rather daunting feat. But when you challenge your beliefs, and you learn the whole truth, instead of bits and pieces of it, you come out stronger, and obviously, more complete, and then you can teach others what you have learned. Ignorance, as in being unaware or indifferent, is not bliss. It may be easier and more comfortable for now, but it sure doesn't benefit you in the long run.

God has given me a call to help others, particularly those in need, whether it is an all out crisis or just the need for guidance and direction (which can feel like an all out crisis!). He has also given me a love for management, in the areas of effective leadership, efficient business models, and successful training and development practices. I borrow words from Aristotle, only because it seems fitting here; he said that what makes an excellent, or "virtuous life" as he calls it, is a life spent doing what it was created for and doing it exceptionally well. Now, that’s as far as I will go with him. But this speaks to our purpose to 1) love God by putting him first, and 2) to love others as ourselves, and more specifically, to my purpose: to serve as a Christian role model in both my character and conduct with integrity, and to serve and empower individuals, youths, families, businesses, and communities with the resources, support, accountability, and skills necessary to thrive, with the upmost excellence. This is my resounding and profound passion. God has not called us to be spectators or to do just enough, and definitely not to merely exist; he has called us to THRIVE!!! How beautiful that is!!

So, here’s to THRIVING. And by the way, what do you ASPIRE?

If you have any questions or comments, the direct email for this blog is aspiringchristian@live.com, as also found in my profile; it may be a few days, but I will definitely get back to you!