A Man After God’s Own Heart?

If you have studied the Bible and have ventured into the Old Testament you may have heard about a guy named David. He is responsible for writing a bunch of the Psalms and is honored as one of the greatest Kings Israel ever had. He is also the only person referred to in Scripture as a “Man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22 and 1 Samuel 13:14). Think of all of the great people spoken of in the Bible, and only David has ever earned this honored title.

Yet, sometimes it is hard to understand what makes David a man after God’s own heart. Reading through the story of David you start out loving the guy. He seems to do everything right. But after he becomes King he stumbles. Maybe stumbles doesn’t do his sin justice. He falls hard. He makes some of the biggest, most selfish sin mistakes humanly possible.

First, he is checking out some guys wife while she takes a bath, (coveting your neighbor’s wife is a no-no according to the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17)), and then decides to sleep with her, (that breaks his second big commandment in Exodus 20:14). Then she becomes pregnant but her husband is off at war. So David knows he’s in trouble. Instead of fessing up to the already huge mistakes he has made, he decides to have the guy killed to try and cover it up, (and murder makes three of the ten broken in Exodus 20:13). You can read the entire story in 2 Samuel 11.

David broke three of the ten biggest commandments from God in one semester. Yet, God still considered David a “Man after my own heart.” How can this be? How can a man who covets, cheats and murders be a man after God’s own heart? That is what I want to discuss today. I want to look at three reasons why David is a “Man after God’s own heart” and hopefully it will help us as we pursue that same title for our own lives.

First, David is a man after God’s own heart because God choose him. God’s choosing makes us what we are. Romans 9:15-16 says “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” This is the ultimate reason why David was a “Man after God’s own heart.” Because God chose Him to be, just like He chooses you and I to be called His “sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). This is the first and most important thing to remember.

But why is David called a “Man after God’s own heart” while others are not? Yes God chose Him as He chooses us, but there is also something about David that sets him apart. Was it David’s acts? He doesn’t like that great of a guy right?

So secondly, we need to remember that our actions are no better than David’s. It is easy for us to look at this three heinous acts of David, (and they are heinous, evil and sinful), and shake our finger at him in shame. Yet, we neglect that we too have committed those same acts. James 2:10-11 says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder you have become a transgressor of the law.”

We seem to put extra emphasis on certain sins while we tend to water down others. It is usually the sins we struggle with that we water down while the sins we don’t seem to struggle with tend to be the ones we think are most important to keep. So if I struggle with jealousy I rationalize it as a second tier sin. But because I don’t struggle with drunkenness then that must be first tier and extra serious. God however doesn’t see sin that way. He sees all the sin we have committed in the same light. So while you maybe haven’t killed anyone or committed adultery, your actions are no better than David’s. So if we are just as bad off as David on the outside, what makes the difference between us and David?

That leads to the third, and most important difference between us and David: the heart. David’s faith and trust in God and his heart’s desire to be with God are amazing examples to us. In Psalm 19:7-10 David describes God’s law as “sweeter than honey” and “more to be desired are they than gold.” Now I don’t know about you, but I have read God’s law and don’t often feel quite the same way. Or Psalm 63:1 where David says “my soul thirsts for you” and “my flesh faints for you.”

Or, one of my favorites, when David is returning from retrieving the ark of the covenant and dancing like a madman to praise God, (remember David was supposed to be a highly respected King at this time), his wife chastises him for acting foolish and not “kingly.” This is what David says, “I will make myself even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:22). David didn’t care what his wife or anyone else thought about him. He cared what God thought and sought to honor, praise and glorify Him.

And this is why David is a “Man after God’s own heart.” David’s works are as evil as ours. David did not earn God’s favor by doing something, but rather God freely gave it to him as He freely gives us grace and forgiveness today. But David responded to God’s grace with a heart full of gratitude, praise and love for His Mighty Lord.

So what about you? Where is your heart at? Are you more worried about what others may think of you or about praising your Great God? Does your heart thirst for God more than gold? Do you desire Him and His Word more than water in a dry place? My hope and prayer for us all is that we can become more like David. That we can desire God so strongly that every part of our life is affected by His immense greatness. That we are so deeply in love and passionate about God that we will do anything to bring Him glory. May we all be men and women after God’s own heart.

In Need of Thanks

I guess it is only right to write a blog post about being thankful this week. Me and every other American writer will most likely say something about being thankful. So, because I wouldn’t want to disappoint, here is my take on thankfulness.

I find it interesting that we give one holiday a year to the idea of being thankful. We obviously know the importance of being thankful because it has it’s own holiday, but it almost seems like we give it this one week each year and then sort of forget about it the rest of the year. I mean do you ever tell people what you are thankful for outside of Thanksgiving day? I know some of us do but I’d dare say most of us don’t.

And I feel like that’s a problem. So today I wanted to discuss two problems with our idea of being thankful and what we can do to adjust them during this year so we can learn to be more thankful people in 2013.

The first issue I see is that people don’t seem to know what we should be thankful for. We seem to expect so much from others that we aren’t really thankful when we get what was expected. Are any of us truly grateful for the guy working at McDonald’s who hands us our food? Or for the cashier for giving us the correct change? We may say thanks but we don’t really feel thankful because these are things that we expect to be done right.

The Bible tells us “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). Are you thankful just for the fact that today exists? Often we are not thankful for our good health until we get sick. We aren’t thankful to our loved ones until we lose them. We aren’t thankful for our job until we get laid off. There are so many things we need to be thankful for on a daily basis, yet we often overlook them because we for some reason we expect that past performance equates with future promise.

Even worse, we aren’t very thankful to God. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1). Do you thank God for His steadfast love? “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). Are you thankful for be allowed to enter God’s Kingdom?

If you find yourself taking these things for granted then change is needed. If you take the little blessings of life for granted then start to reflect on how great a blessing it is to have someone give you correct change, for the ability and means to order fast food, for the health you have, the family you have and the job you have. Tell them. I often hear people say “My parents know I am grateful because I show them.” This is a lazy excuse. Yes continue to show them your thankfulness but something special happens when it is vocalized. Make this a normal part of your week.

But most importantly, thank God for who He is and what He has done for you. This should be a daily part of our prayer. Don’t take His many blessings for granted or even worse, act entitled like you deserve any blessing you have received. Remember that we all deserve death and damnation and every day God grants us life and the gift of life after death in Him are things that should be truly praised. Realize what you have to be thankful for and you will be a more thankful person.

Secondly, I am not sure what you want to call it, but lets say its a combination of laziness, busyness, lack of depth in relationships, trying to act tough or cool, too self-sufficient and complacency. This is quick thanks to someone with no heart behind it. Or the desire to show gratitude but not doing so because it feels awkward or difficult to show such open emotion. Or you honestly don’t even think to thank someone because you are so caught up in your own life or your own ability to do the same task better.

The core of this problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. Instead of being grateful for what someone has done for me I often start comparing if I could have done it better, critiquing so the person can help me better next time or constantly moving onto the next task without stopping to appreciate what has just been done for me. Psalm 50:23 says “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Our problem is that we have not ordered our lives rightly. We are so enamored with ourselves that we forget that God’s greatest commandment was to love God and then love others, (Matthew 22:37-40). We are at the bottom of the list as far as who God expects us to love. Our culture tells us we must love ourselves before we can love others. That we must care for ourselves first in order to care for others. That we must be thankful to ourselves before we can be thankful to others, (independence vs. healthy dependence on others).

The problem is that this attitude, while very cultural, is not very Biblical. Rather, get your priorities straight. Love God. Love others. And then love yourself. When you mess up the order you lose your thankfulness because you feel you don’t need to be thankful or quickly move to the next thing in your life.

So may we all be more thankful this Thanksgiving but may it not stop there. Lord, help us not to allow one holiday a year to the extent of our thankfulness to you and to those who help us everyday! May we realize just how many things we should be truly thankful for. May we verbalize our thankfulness to Jesus and to those around us. And may we stop being so in love with ourselves and be grateful for the love and help the Lord has provided and the love and help those around us have provided to us. May we be a people marked by our thankfulness in the midst of an ungrateful world.

Majesty

Looking back over the last few weeks I realized that I have been too “us” focused and not enough “God” focused. I think it is often easier to talk about “us” because it has to do specifically with “us”. It’s easier to see, feels more practical and seems to be a great need because it pertains to each and every one of us.

And while talking about us is important, (people need to realize our part in sanctification as well as our sin problem), the things we usually discuss tend to focus on the temporal rather than the eternal. Any subject pertaining to sin, while very important because God hates sin, only relates to this life because there is no sin in eternity. Any area where we are disappointed, angry, upset or tempted only relates to this life because eternal life has no such things.

So this week I wanted to rectify this mistake, (and hopefully continue to do so ongoing), and get the focus back on God. In order to do that, I wanted to take a quick look at the majesty of God and give three quick reasons that we should daily be in awe of Him. And while there are 10,000 reasons to daily be in awe of God, I felt these big three are often overlooked even though they are so massive and weighty.

The first massive, awe-inspiring fact about God is His eternal existence. Genesis 1:1 starts like this: “In the beginning, God…” That right there should be enough for us to stop, fall on our knees and praise Him. God has existed for all time and will exist for all time. He has no beginning or end. Nothing made Him and nothing can destroy Him. He is not bound by time, but rather, He is the author and perfecter of time.

He also doesn’t change while being eternally present. Malachi 3:6 tells us “For I the Lord do not change.” God doesn’t need to improve, He’s already completely perfect. He doesn’t fade or get worse with time. He doesn’t learn. He doesn’t forget. Any time in the Bible that mentions God “relenting”, “changing” or even “forgetting” only applies to His relational attributes towards us, but not His being or presence. God speaks of forgetting our sins, (Hebrews 8:12) but it is in the context of His great forgiveness that He doesn’t count our sins against us rather than Him actually being unable to recall our sins to His mind. God can’t forget because He cannot change because He is perfection and perfection need not change. We worship a mighty God who eternally exists with no beginning or end and with no need to change.

Secondly, God speaks and it happens. Back to Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Also Genesis 1:3 says “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” God created everything we see before us. And it’s not like He had to exert a great effort to do so. God speaks, stuff happens. Just by His spoken word light entered the universe. Man speaks and he can barely get a dog to sit or stay. God creates everything by a spoken word. We typically create through much toil and difficulty.

Just imagine how immensely powerful and awesome our God is! Be in awe of His eternal existence but also of His unimaginable power. He’s not like Harry Potter who can say some spells or use a magic wand. His power is far beyond anything our minds can even imagine. He speaks or even just thinks it and it happens. Nothing can stop His power and decrees nor should we wish them to be stopped because they are always good and perfect. His power should cause our minds to be put to folly and our hearts to be filled with praise.

Which is what makes the third point even more amazing. God is infinitely powerful. God is eternally present. Yet, for some reason beyond our comprehension, He stoops down to live and die for you and me. Isaiah 40:17-18 tells us “All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?” I would say that God is like a human and we are like ants to Him but that doesn’t even give the comparison justice. All we can say is God is awesomely powerful and great and compared to Him we are nothing. Actually, less than nothing.

Yet, He saves us. He came and died on a cross so that we might know Him. He didn’t just teach us or force us to change our minds, He came down and showed His great love for us. And all the while we treated Him as our enemy. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10). We were enemies and less than nothing in comparison with Him, but He still came to save. He still desires to be in relationship with us. He loves us even when we love everything but Him. He is faithful when we are faithless.

Wow. That type of majesty should cause each of us to praise and worship Him more. So maybe you have grown cold. Maybe you once sought God with a passion but busyness or the cares of life have choked out your joy. Then remind yourself of who God is and what He did for you. Or maybe you don’t know God. You don’t even think He exists. Then look closer at who He claims to be and see that He truly exists, creates and loves in spite of our weaknesses. May we daily dwell on who God is and what He has done for us. May His amazing greatness and His amazing love fill our hearts with praise. And may we not walk in apathy or feel distant from God any longer, but rather look at his majesty and and worship His Great Name.

Forgetting God in the Midst of Blessing

I, like many of you, don’t have a great memory. My excuse is that I am always looking ahead and planning that I don’t have much space left in my brain to remember the past. This is obviously a huge overstatement, but I do sometimes tend to forget some things from the past because I am so preoccupied with the things of today and tomorrow.

And this is where a very dangerous thing can occur. We can get so preoccupied on today or tomorrow that we forget where we have come from. And this can in turn cause us to forget who we worship and the purpose of our lives. In Hosea 13:6 God says concerning the Israelites “but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.”

Time and time again this happens in the Old Testament. The Lord blesses Israel. They became comfortable and then complacent. They forget about God and chase after idols and other sins. God punishes them for their sin. They repent and the process starts again. That is the story of the Old Testament and of each and every one of us.

We too, like the Israelites, have a tendency to forget. But notice that we, just like the Israelites, tend to forget following the Lord’s blessing not His rebuke. I find it interesting that in the times the Lord blesses us the most we often turn His blessings into idols and stumbling blocks for ourselves but when He rebukes we often come running back to Him for His help. So today I want us to consider a few ways to remember where we have come from and how to see God’s blessings in the right light instead of stumbling over them.

The first thing we have to continually do is to remember to worship the Blesser not the blessing. It is so easy to be grateful about a blessing or an answer to prayer that we forget who provides these gifts. We then turn the amazing blessing or gift into an idol because we lose sight of where it came from. James 1:17 tells us that EVERY good gift “is from above” and is “coming down from the Father of lights.”

We must give glory to God for each blessing we receive rather than taking the credit for ourselves, some other person or the blessing itself. I love Matthew 5:16 because it teaches us that when people look at us and say “good job” we point up to heaven and say “He did it and it’s all for His name.” As we look at each blessing as “He did it and it’s all for His name” we continue to worship the Blesser rather than stumbling over the blessing.

The second thing to remember is where you have come from. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you.”

Now if you look at that list and think “well I am not any of those so I must be safe,” you are missing the point. We are all those things. Each of us are one or more of the people Paul just described. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23). Remember this. Meditate on this. You were dead, you were helpless, you were on a path to eternal hell. Until the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:11 happened. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is the theme of the entire book of Hosea. We are all whores who have gone astray but the love of our Lord and King takes us back. Remember this when blessings come so you don’t get too comfortable and forget where you have come from.

This leads to the last thing I think we should consider and it is one I talk about probably more than anything else. For us to remember God in the midst of blessing we must seek humility. I truly believe humility is one of the most important things a Christian can pray and ask God for more of. Because a humble person realizes my above two points. They realize that all gifts come from above and that we are pathetic and disgusting without our Savior’s grace.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). Humility helps us to see ourselves, others and blessings in the correct light. We see that we can do nothing and gain nothing apart from Jesus, (John 15:5). We see that we cannot save ourselves through our own effort, (Ephesians 2:8-9). And humility helps us to remember and more importantly glorify God when blessings come because we see that all blessings are ultimately about Him not us.

So I hope we can stop forgetting our Lord in the midst of good. May His blessings lead to praise rather than sin. May we glorify Him when He blesses rather than worship the blessing He has given. May we remember that we once were lost, naked, shameful and disgusting and that we didn’t solve our own sin problem. May we remain humble and realize that all blessings and our entire lives are for the glory, honor and praise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We Have a Mission- Part 3

This is the third and final week in the recent series I have been doing. The first week we looked at our Hero, Jesus Christ. We realized our need for Him to save because we can’t save ourselves. Next we looked at our enemy Satan. We recognized that Satan will do anything to stop us in our mission but also that God has equipped us for the work that needs to be done.
这是我第三周也是最后一周写的一系列博客文章。在第一周,我们学习到了关于我们的英雄——基督耶稣,我们认识到我们需要他来拯救我们,乃因仅凭己力我们不能自救。在第二周,我们学习了关于我们的敌人——撒旦,我们知道撒旦会不惜一切阻挠我们,幸运的是,与此同时,依靠神我们可以装备自身以完成我们需要做的事情。

And that is where we find ourselves this week. If Jesus is our Hero, and Satan our enemy, what about us? Why are we here, what do we have to do with this cosmic battle and how can we help? Those are the three questions I hope we can try and answer today.
这周我将分享一下关于我们如何找到真我。如果耶稣是我们的英雄,撒旦时我们的敌人,那我们又是什么?为何我们在这里?我们在这场关乎宇宙的战争中应该做什么,又是如何去协助这场关乎宇宙的战争?这是我今天尝试给大家回答的三个问题。

So why are we here? Isn’t that the question we all ask at some point? The purpose of life. The reason we exist. And while philosophers and wise men have argued, speculated and postulated for thousands of years about that question, the Bible makes it very clear. The reason we exist is to make much of God. We were made for God’s glory. Not because he needed us, but because he wanted us. He wanted to create humans in order to share in and make much of his amazing glory. Getting into heaven is not the purpose. Your life is not the purpose. Society, advancement and your country are not the purpose. God and His ultimate glory are.
那么,为何我们在这里?这是不是一个我们曾几何时都曾思考过的问题?我们生命的目的,我们存在的理由,在数千年来,不断有哲学家和智者对此进行讨论、推测和作出各种假设,而圣经上却给了我们一个明确的答案,我们存在的目的在于成就神。我们被创造出乃因要荣耀神,而不是上帝需要我们存在,但却是上帝希望我们存在。神想通过创造人类来分享和让人理解他的奇妙荣耀。而你我生命的目的不是上天堂,不是为了社交,不是为了使你的国家向前发展,而在于神的终极荣耀。

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29). And in John 8 Jesus shows that God’s ultimate goal is His glory. “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50). “Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.” (John 8:54).
“所以,你们或吃或喝,无论作什么,都要为荣耀神而行。”(哥林多前书,10章31节)。“要将耶和华的名所得的荣耀归给他,拿供物来奉到他面前;当以圣洁的妆饰敬拜耶和华。”(历代记,16章29节)。“我若荣耀自己,我的荣耀就算不得什么;荣耀我的乃是我的父,就是你们说是你们的神。”(约翰福音,8章54节)

The reason we live and the reason God created us was to bring glory to His already glorious Name. And while some of you may think of this as egotism or conceited, if God’s first priority was anything but Himself he could not be God. This is not only our purpose, but in His complete wisdom this is joyful to those who would follow.
我们生存目的以及神创造我们的理由在于将荣耀归给已经得着荣耀的他的名。当有些人认为如果神这样做是自负、骄傲的,如果神的第一关注是他自身,那他又怎可配得为神呢?这个不是我们的目的,但在神的完美智慧下,那些跟随神的人是会得着喜乐。

So if we are here to bring glory to God, why are we involved in this cosmic battle between Jesus and Satan? Well we touched on this a bit last week, but basically we are Satan’s way of getting back at God. Satan made a play for God’s power and failed. And Satan can’t get to God directly so instead He goes after His creation. Satan sees us as a means. Satan’s attacks aren’t just focused on causing us harm, (in fact, most of Satan’s attacks involve bringing us indulgent, sinful pleasure), but rather at trying to lessen the number of those who glorify God. And sin is Satan’s means. Sinful behavior does not being glory to God. And thus Satan’s mission is to see us sin.
因此,若然我们在这里的目的是将荣耀归给神,那我们又为何会卷入神与撒旦的宇宙战争中?我们在上个星期就接触了一点关于这方面的事情,但主要的原因是撒旦乃通过人类来报复上帝。撒旦卖弄神的力量但失败了,同时撒旦是不能直接到达神那里的,因此撒旦会追逐、攻击神的创造物,而我们人类就是撒旦认为一种可以间接报复神的途径。撒旦的攻击不仅仅是引起我们的痛苦(事实上撒旦的攻击包括给我们带来个人的放纵以及属罪的狂欢),而是尝试减少能给神带来荣耀的人类的数目,而罪就是撒旦所用的手段,属罪的行为是不会给神带来荣耀。因此,撒旦的任务就是看着人类堕落到罪里面。

Which is exactly why we need a hero. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus came to foil Satan’s plot. He came to set us free from our bondage to sin so that we could make much of God. Jesus’ purpose for the Cross was secondarily to save us from hell, but primarily to see us bring glory to His Name. Trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior defeats Satan’s attack on us and frees us to pursue our mission of bringing glory to the Name of the Lord.
这也就是我们恰恰需要一位英雄。“神使那无罪的替我们成为罪,好叫我们在他的里面成为他的义。”(哥林多后书,5章21节)。耶稣来到这世上是要阻止撒旦的阴谋,并要使我们脱离罪的束缚而获自由,从而给神带来更多的荣耀。神对于十字架的目的,其次在于从地狱中拯救我们,但首先要看我们把荣耀归于神的名,那就是相信耶稣基督是唯一的真神,以及挫败撒旦的阴谋,还有解放我们去追求把荣耀归给主的名。

Which brings us to our final question. How do we actually go about this task? Bringing glory to the God who created the universe seems like an awfully big task, doesn’t it? Well there are three things I want us to consider as we look at the mission ahead of us.
这就给我们带来了最后一个疑问,那就是我们究竟如何着手这个任务?给创造这个宇宙万物的神带来荣耀看似就是一个艰巨的任务。那么我们在开始这个任务前就需要思考三个问题。

First, that you are chosen for your task not out of necessity or duty, but rather you are chosen out of love and joy. Jesus tells us in Matthew 3:9 and Luke 19:40 that if God needed praise He could raise stones up to do that. If God needed us to complete this mission He could simply raise stones up to do it instead. Rather, God has decided to include us in the greatest mission ever. Makes “Mission Impossible” seem a little lame. He has chosen you to share His glory with the nations. He has given our lives purpose! He does this because of His infinite love and the joy it brings Him, but secondly because of the joy and love it brings to us.
首先,就是你是没有绝对的需求和责任去选择做这样的一个任务,但你这样选择的缘故却是因着爱和喜乐而选择的。耶稣在马太福音第3章9节和路加福音第19章40节告诉我们,如若神想的话他可以叫石头起来成就他想的事情,如果神需要我们完成这个任务的话他完全可以使石头起来代替我们完成,但是,神却决定永远地使我们人类包含在这个任务中。提出一个“不可能完成的任务”看起来是不现实的,神已经拣选了你去与万国分享他的荣耀,他已经给我们的生命赋予了一个目的。神之所以这样做是因为他对人类有无限的爱和这给他带来了喜乐,其次是这样做同样给我们人类带来爱和喜乐。

Next, we are told to go and tell others. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). We aren’t just supposed to sit around and wait for heaven, (which also shows that heaven is not the purpose). Rather we are to go and tell others about the glory of God so that they may too share in the mission and joy with us.
第二,我们被告知要走向各地并把神的话语带给其他人,“所以,你们要使万民作我的门徒,奉父子圣灵的名,给他们施戏。凡我所吩咐你们的,都教训他们遵守,我就常与你们同在,知道世界的末了。”(马太福音,第28章19至20节)。我们不是单单地坐在那里并等待着去天堂(亦即上天堂不是目的),相反,我们是要走向各地告诉他人关于神的荣耀以使他们亦在这个任务中与我们同乐。

Going can look different for each of us. Some may be called across the world while others to their workplace or family. Regardless, we cannot just sit back as millions live their lives for the wrong purpose. We must go and share the true mission of our existence. And while this may seem tough, remember Jesus’ promise in verse 20 that as we go, He is with us.
走出去对不同的人会意味着不同的行走范围,有些人是被蒙召去世界各地,而有些人则是被蒙召去他们的工作场所或家庭里面。无论如何,我们是不能仅仅坐着而看着数以百万计的生命走向错误的目的。我们必须走出去并分享我们存在的任务。当我们觉得走出去是非常艰辛的时候,我们必须记得耶稣基督告诉我们当我们走出去的时候,他会与我们同在。

Finally, we must also shine. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We aren’t meant to live like everyone else. We are meant to live in such a way that we actually shine light into the darkness of the world around us. And the result of this is in verse 16: “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
最后,我们也必须发光。“你们是世上的光。城造在山上,是不能隐蔽的。人电灯,不能放在斗底下,是放在灯台上,就照亮一家人。你们的光也当这样照在人前,叫他们看见你们的好行为,便将荣耀归给你们天上的父。”马太福音第5章14至16节。我们不是意味着和别人生活得一样,而是说我们活着当如同灯在黑暗中一般,在这个世代发光发亮。而结果则如同16节所说的,“便将荣耀归给你们天上的父”。

We have a purpose. In fact, we have the most amazing purpose imaginable. So may we all be willing to go and share this Truth with others. May we be willing to shine so that others can look at us and glorify God. May we realize it is not about us or how good we can be but that our purpose and existence are all meant to bring Glory to God. So may we do just that and Glorify the Name of the Lord who alone is worthy to be praised.
我们有一个目的,而事实上这个目的是奇妙不可言的。那么我们是否愿意走出去与他人分享这个真实?是否愿意如同灯发光般行事而让他人看见我们并将荣耀归给神?是否认识到我们的生命目的和存在意义不是关于我们有多好,而是关于将荣耀归给主?是否可以仅为将荣耀归给配得的主而行事

Be a True Worshiper

Sorry for the two week hiatus. Getting engaged and going on vacation will do that to a guy I guess. Anyways, I have had a very fun and busy two weeks, but have felt a bit of a void. I do truly enjoy writing these blogs. I think they are actually more helpful for me than anyone else! So I am glad I can get back on track this week and hopefully will get back to my once a week post.

This week I wanted to talk about something I think we all either take for granted or just flat out don’t understand. Worship. If you grew up in a Church, you probably think that it is a 20-30 minute block of time each Sunday morning when we sing. If you didn’t grow up in Church, you probably think that is a negative word used to show when someone is too in love with someone or something else. Either way, you are wrong.

Worship is so much more than what we take it for. We try to water it down in order for it to be a part of our lives, but the truth is our entire life IS worship. It is not just something you do but rather a way you live. Problem is that we often forget that we were made to worship. So we get busy and start to lose sight of worship, and soon we feel distant from God. Or even worse, we start to worship something or someone other than God. The truth of the matter is that right now you are worshiping something. It could be money, family, success, material possessions, comfort, relationships, pleasure or anything else we spend our time and money on. But while all these things may be good, none of them were made for our worship.

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22-23). Now that couldn’t be us, could it? When we see a third world country worshiping a tree or a monkey we just feel sad for them because they are not as wise as us and don’t understand that what they are worshiping is no God. But are we any different? Don’t we worship our TV’s on Saturday and Sunday? Don’t we worship ourselves with comfort and pleasure through the palaces we build for ourselves? Don’t we worship money by sacrificing relationships and time just to get a little more? People who worship trees look at us and think we are sad that we would worship small green paper or something as ridiculous as ourselves!

While many of us worship wrongly, others of us take worship for granted. I often find myself in this category. I know worship is important, but I think I sometimes forget how to worship. It’s like I put worship in a box and only allow it to come out on Sunday’s or at a Bible study. Then I feel distant from God and start wondering where He has gone. The problem is that I have taken worshiping the creator God for granted. So, how do I rightly worship?

The obvious first thing is you must be worshiping the right God. As I said above, many things in this life try to distract us or demand our attention or worship. As long as you are busy trying to chase after or worship these other things, your worship will always be meaningless and will leave you feeling empty. Solomon, regarded as the wisest man, (other than Jesus of course), said “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

We often think if we just have a little more of what we are wrongly worshiping we will be satisfied. But the entire book of Ecclesiastes shows that this idea is false. We must remember to worship God and Him alone.

Second, we need to know how to worship. Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” This is why we sing songs of praise to our King. And while singing songs is one great way to worship, (I would suggest you not only do it on Sunday’s, but make singing worship songs a regular part of your everyday life), it is not the only thing we do to worship God.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1). Our lives and every moment each day can be worship to King Jesus. But most of us don’t live this way. We only see ministry or Church activities as worship. The truth is everything you do can be worship to the Lord.

There are a thousand mundane things we have to do each day. From showering to driving to eating, we all have our own little routine. In this routine we find comfort, and that is the danger. Often, when we get comfortable doing something, we actually forget why we are doing it in the first place. We just follow the repetition, not for any purpose, but because it has become so routine to do otherwise would throw our lives into disarray.

Rather than just living each day and it’s mundane activities for ourselves, we should be living them for Jesus. Paul tells us that our spiritual worship is found in using our bodies, (and our actions and lives), in a holy and acceptable way for God. We are to keep his commandments and seek his glory even in the most mundane of circumstances. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So my challenge is that each of us would recognize where we are spending our time and money to see what we are worshiping, and if we are worshiping anything other than Jesus, that we would realize that it will only lead us to emptiness and vanity. Also, I hope each of us can find time to sing praises to our King each and every day. And last, may we all see each day of our lives and every moment and mundane activity of each day as an opportunity to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-34).

A Call to Passion for a Worthy Cause

I have been a little under the weather this week which is why this is a day late and going to be a little shorter than usual. You all can pray for recovery, for guidance and for help as the school year starts! Anyways, I wanted to talk a little bit about passion this week because I feel like September may be a month for you that either brings more passion or seems to take it all away.

I feel like all of us are passionate about something. I love football and basketball so you could say I am passionate about sports. Some people love hiking and camping so they may be passionate about the outdoors. Some crazy people love their work, so they could be passionate about their jobs. And others are simply passionate about their friends and family. You can be passionate about your country, your political party, your education, your health, and even your diet, (lets be honest we are all passionate about food).

And while most of these things are good, are they really worthy of the passion we give them? Think of the time, energy and money we spend on these passions. I’ll use my own as an example. I love football, so I will often wake up early to watch the game. I will pay lots of money to go watch a game or buy a shirt with a big O on it, (Go Ducks). I will even make loud noises of approval when my team scores, and loud noises of anguish when my team loses. I spend countless hours, way too much money and a lot of energy just so I can enjoy this passion of mine.

Like I said before, most of that is fine for what we call Christianity today. But I am left to question if somewhere along the line you and I got things wrong. What if we had the same passion for God that we do for the things mentioned above? What if we spent our time, energy and money worshiping and glorifying the Creator of the Universe rather than on these other passions? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). I feel like this would be something worthy of our passion!

Do any of you wonder why you just can’t kick that habitual sin in your life? Ever wonder why you seem to make the same mistakes over and over again? Ever wonder why something you thought would finally bring you peace and joy has only led to more stress and difficulty? I think a lot of this happens because we have traded a worthy passion, (Passion for God) for something lesser.

So my first challenge this week is to right the ship, to have passion for God. To become more eager to open the Bible than to turn on the TV. To be more excited to walk into Church than into a stadium. To be more thrilled to pray than to travel. To desire to worship our King more than to enjoy a relaxed comfortable day.

Secondly, I challenge us all to have passion for the things God has passion for. I am not sure if God is a football fan or not, but I do know God loves people and holiness. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27). Are you passionate after holiness? Do you want to be holy because God is holy, (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16 and Matthew 5:48), or do you just want to be holy enough to get into heaven?

With that, do we really love and care for people in need. I encourage you all to stop reading and look on the left side of this website where it says “Blogroll.” There are many groups who are doing some amazing work among those suffering most in the world. If we just had a little more passion for these people and their sufferings, we could see some amazing change in the world.

So again I will ask, do you have passion for a worthy cause? Are you passionate for God because you have seen HE is more than worthy of it? If not, I suggest you take some time to pray and ask Him to give you passion. Also, I suggest you go outside and take a look at creation. If that doesn’t stir up some passion for the Creator, few other things will. Secondly, do you really care about the things God cares about? Do you have passion to see lives changed and desire to help those suffering? If not, I again challenge you to pray and ask God to change your heart. Also, I suggest looking at some of those websites to see faces of those in need.

May we all have passion for worthy causes. May we enjoy family, friends, sports and all the amazing gifts God has given us, but may we never lose our passion for the One who has given us those gifts. May we see the suffering and hardships of this world, and desire to help be the change we wish to see. May we all be passionate people this school year!

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

For some reason, we seem to think that Jesus isn’t enough for us in our modern world. We seem to think that in order to find joy we need Jesus and something else. This week, I heard a pastor speak and it bothered me. He spent around two hours explaining how God wants to financially bless us. He talked about how if we give a monthly 10% tithe to the Church, God would rain down blessings from heaven for us. He talked about how if we tithe, God would give us promotion after promotion. He said if we gave back to God, God would want to give us abundant financial blessings.

At first glance, this sounds to me like a sly way to get people to give money to the Church. If I tell people that they need only give 10% of their monthly income and God will bless them abundantly, then I promise you that giving will increase. But giving is not our focus, God is. We do not give money to the Church because of what God will bless us with.

Rather, we give money back because it isn’t ours to begin with! Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” It’s all God’s anyways, so we give back to share in God’s work. Secondly, we do it out of gratitude. We should not be giving money so that God will bless us, instead we should be giving money because of how much God has ALREADY blessed us. Finally, we give money back because we want to see the Gospel spread. Just as we support a charitable organization and want to see them help others, we give money back to the Church so that it can be used to help and equip the Body of Christ.

So while I do advocate giving money to your Church and to charities, I want us to to think a bit about our motives. If you have believed the lie that you give to get, then there are some questions I want you to think about.

1. What is a blessing? The problem I had with this pastor and many other Christians today is that they talk as if material blessings are the most important. However, I believe some of the greatest blessings from Jesus are the lessons he allows us to go through on a daily basis. Read Matthew 5:3-12. Jesus promises blessings for those who trust and follow him, yet none of these blessings are material. The kinds of blessings Jesus offers us in these verses are for the life yet to come. A great new song by Laura Story called “Blessings” ends like this:

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

2. Can we praise God when he gives AND we He takes away? The problem with believing that God will always financially bless you if you give back to Him meets a big problem in the book of Job. Sometimes, people give back to God, and God does not financially bless. And so, if you equate financial blessings with God’s love, then when you suffer harm, you start to question if God really loves you. Rather, we must look at each and every situation as Job did. “And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. Also, read what happened to Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 to see that giving does not always get us material rewards.

3. What happens when I give but God doesn’t bless me financially or give me that promotion? The problem here is that we try to make God into a magic genie. All we need to do is put some money in and wait for our reward. If that’s the case, then God is no longer God. If God’s blessings are dependent on our tithes, then we have made ourselves to be God. We are here for God, God is not here for us.

4. Are we content? Read what Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13. The point here is that as a Christian we are to be content and praise God at all times. When God blesses me with a promotion or a new job then I am to praise God. When God blesses me by taking my job away, (which from our view may not look like a blessing) I am to praise God. If you are giving to get, then are you really content and praising God when you abound and when you are brought low?

5. Do we love Jesus or do we only love the gifts or blessings he can give us? The problem is that most of us love the gifts offered, but scarcely love or truly know who is offering them. This would be like if I love my mom because she buys me things, but not because she is my mom. “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38. We take up a cross not to gain material blessings or even eternal life, but rather because it means we get to follow Jesus who alone is worthy of our love and praise.

What if Jesus died for you, but never promised you eternal life? Would you still love, serve and praise Him for who He is and what He has done? Thanks be to God that we do have eternal life, but that is only the secondary blessing. The primary blessing is that we get to personally know God as our Father and have a relationship with Him.

I want to end with the story of Horatio Spafford. Most of us don’t know him, but he is the person who wrote the beautiful hymn “It is well with my soul.” But do you know the story behind this hymn? In 1871, his only son died at the age of 4. Soon after, the Great Chicago fire ruined him financially. Then in 1873, his wife and four daughters were crossing the Atlantic when their ship sank and all four of his daughters drowned.

As Spafford was later crossing the Atlantic near where his daughters had drowned he wrote these words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

May we all realize that Jesus has already done so much for us. May we learn to be content with the amazing blessings God has given. May we tithe in gratitude and service, not to gain more for ourselves. And most importantly, may we see and savor the fact that Jesus is more than enough for us. May the fact that we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ make us say “It is well with my soul.”

The Beauty of being Wanted

It’s nice to feel needed isn’t it? I think it is human nature to enjoy the feeling that someone needs us. Mom’s love it when their children need them, (well maybe not when they are little all the time, but wait til they get older and leave the house!). We love the responsibility at work to know that we are a necessary part of our companies success. Or we like to join organizations or clubs to feel like we are needed by the group. Even kids like it when their friends can’t do something and need their help.

Even as Christians, we love feeling needed. We sometimes think, “I bet God loves me so much because of all this amazing work I am doing for Him,” “If I were not here, this work would not be done,” or “I am so necessary and helpful to my Church.” But the truth is, none of those statements are true. Read your Bible and you will see that the exact opposite is true. God doesn’t need you. “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” Matthew 3:9.

Depressing isn’t it. To think, I used to value myself and my importance in this life so highly, but the truth is, I am not all that important. If I am replaceable by a rock, then am I really needed? In fact, my life is only a small blip on the radar of history. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14. 100 years from now, most likely no one will know my name. 99% of us won’t make it in the history books or leave such a legacy that people still talk about us for years to come.

And after reading this you may not feel cheerful. Why should I do ministry or serve God if He doesn’t even need me? Why should I even care if it will all be forgotten anyways? Well those are understandable questions which is why we must understand this important truth: We are not needed by God, but we are wanted. It may seem like a minor difference, but let me unpack it a bit.

The truth is, God doesn’t need anything. Within the trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God has everything He would ever need. Some people like to think God was lonely, needed love or needed help so He created man. But God already has perfect community and love within the trinity and an all-powerful God does not need any help from weak and pathetic humans. Even our most righteous acts to God are only “filthy rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:6). So man was not created out of any necessity, but rather out of a desire.

God, being perfectly loving, holy and good, wanted to share Himself. He wanted to share the good things in His creation and ultimately Himself with us. God’s ultimate goal and desire is to get glory and praise for Himself. Now I know many of you are thinking, “Wow, God sounds so selfish!” But think about this, if God was seeking the glory or praise of anything else, would He still be God? Whatever deserves our highest praise is God. Thus, God gives glory and praise to the only one who is worthy of it: himself.

And that is what makes the Gospel more and more amazing. Jesus did not save us out of necessity. Jesus didn’t have to come down. Jesus didn’t have to die on a cross and bear all our sins. He could have stayed in heaven and let us all go to hell. We didn’t deserve it and he didn’t have to. But He wanted to.

That should inspire us. Instead of feeling depressed because God doesn’t need us, we should instead feel humbly in awe that God wants us. Think about how messed up you and I are! And the perfect God who created everything wants us! That means a lot more to me than if God reluctantly needed me for some task.

Which is how we need to view our lives. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us that He has overcome the world. He doesn’t tell us that we will overcome, or give us a guide on how we can do it. Rather, Jesus tells us to take heart and trust Him because He has overcome! I think too often, in service, work and even our lives, we put too much stock into our own ability to overcome. Will power and dedication, although two very good traits to have, are not the answer to overcoming sin in your life. Jesus is!

So stop serving God or doing anything for God as if He needed you. Stop trying to come to God with filthy rags full of pride. Rather, in humble gratitude serve God. Remember the words in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

May we all see how amazing it is that the God of the universe wants us. That we are not needed like some part of a machine, but rather are wanted like a beloved child. And may we respond with humble service to our King out of gratitude and desire to worship God who alone is worthy of our praise.