Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Newness in Christ

I am just beginning to think through a sermon I will preach on Dec 31st. Please bear with me.

The Lord brings new things our way all the time. Many times, however, it isn't new to me. I have heard it before. I know that already. I have read this passage countless times before. How many times do I take communion? When am I not going through my routine? I let the oldness set in and stifle any newness that the Lord wants to bring.

Actually, oldness was set in with Josiah, Shaphan (the secretary), and Hilkiah (the priest). Looking at their life in 2 Kings 22, we see routine: a king doing kingly things, a secretary doing secretary things, and a priest doing priestly things (but not according to the Law apparently). They were not near newness.

That is until they discover a "new," old book of the Law in the temple. Then Josiah went throughout the kingdom bringing the newness that was intended to exist continually since the time of Moses. The newness came however, not simply because of finding this book. It was found by a responsive, humble heart (2 Kings 22:19). The newness continued with new responsibilities: the priest now had to inquire of the Lord, the king had to change the kingdom business, the people had to smash all that opposed the law, and the foreign priests had to die. The newness came with a vengeance.

Today, we have a chance to allow newness to penetrate our hearts. Our humility before the Lord will usher in new life. Our behavior will follow and thereby bring more newness. May God bring the newness found in Christ deep within ourselves and give us rest.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

God does what God does

Last Thursday I had a conversation that I have never had before (by choice) and will never have again (again by choice). The conversation was with Daniel, our intern. We had both talked with a student in our ministry, L, earlier that afternoon. She was wondering why things don't go easy for her and was asking for us to pray for her being able to get into a class to graduate on time. Both of us prayed for her.

Daniel mentioned in our conversation that he couldn't help but think about how easy things go for him most of the time. In his transition to another school housing, acceptance, transferring credits, and other little things just took care of themselves without much effort. I anticipate more of the same. As Daniel and I talked, I actually told him something I think fairly regular...I just don't ever say it. I told Daniel that I am not surprised things are going well for him. His life compared to L's is much more focused on God, much more in pursuit of godly endeavors, etc. Of course God is going to make things more easy for him.

Our conversation was much more complex than this. I told him my hesitancy to ever say something like this. I always think of the life of Job in situations like this. That keeps my mouth it should. Then I began to explore being able to discern God's will. With equal hesitancy I always balk in presuming to know his will for sure. I told Daniel that I think we need to allow the Holy Spirit guide us in times like this. We can know God's will through his just takes a listening heart. And on the conversation went...meddling in the activity of saying how God works in people's lives.

On my way home I picked up some Chili's. It was good. By the end of my meal however, I was having some major indigestion. Then the thought occurred to me that this was the same feeling I had with my kidney stones a while back. I began downing water like a madman.

The rest of the evening was spent in my room, mainly in the bathroom. I threw up my whole meal and more. Four hours of horrible-ness!! I couldn't keep even the water that I continued to drink down. And the pain continued to get worse. Only once I prayed to the Lord to take away my pain (toward the end). I don't know why I didn't cry out to him earlier.

Right before I prayed a dreadful thought occurred to me. I am convinced that the thought (voice?) was from the Lord. The thought was, "Do not presume to know how I work." As I prayed, I asked for relief so that God could be glorified. That is what I am doing now. I am telling you that I believe God caused my pain (in Job-like fashion) to humble my prideful presumptions.

I warn you: do not presume to know how and why God works in people's lives. Let us, however, be the ones God uses to accomplish his will.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Running Progress

Well...I can't believe I haven't posted in so long!! Oh changes now.

I have committed to run a half-marathon in the year 2007. I don't think this will be a problem...I just need to get my body in shape for it. Last weekend I hit the halfway mark. I ran 6.5 miles down Veterans Memorial Parkway. It was tough, but I know that I can reach my mark pretty soon. I plan to run 10 miles this week again down Veterans Memorial. After that it will only be 3 miles more.

I am encouraged to hit this mark...especially running down Veterans Memorial. It is really hilly...that is what makes it so tough. I figure that if I can run this the half-marathon won't be so way will it be THIS hilly.

The spiritual side of my running will continue to take form, but I offer these words. I definitely know that I am a beginner. In spite of this, I know my goal. It is encouraging to make so much progress, but I can't get discouraged when it doesn't go so well at times. All I can do is get myself in shape to take the next step. We must always keep is not an option to give up. The kingdom of God is progressing through us. May God be praised forever!! Amen.