"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
First, I had a great time of reading in the Psalms this morning. Thank you for your prayers, please continue them. I just wanted to send you all a word of encouragement from C.S. Lewis. I guess it's more of an awesome truth than encouragement. Read it carefully and see if you notice the way of thinking that he is talking about. This is from his book "The Weight of Glory"
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I realized that I haven't given you all a lot of information on my Bible reading lately. Since I was updating you so frequently at home, I figured I should give an explanation about why I've been so lax. There are many reasons.
The first and biggest reason is that I haven't been reading as much as I did at home. Not only do I not have that time I night that I normally spent reading, but I haven't even been waking up early enough to get a big chunk out of the Psalms. By the time I am up and around (which means fully awake with my Yerba Mate tea in my hand) I've only got about half an hour before I've got to start getting ready for classes. So my biggest request is that you would pray for me. Please pray that God gives me energy and focus. I'm under this impression that God doesn't have control over the natural process of my body. He has control over every little inch of the universe, but not the biological process in my body. If you can't tell I'm being sarcastic. That's a ridiculous thought. If God chooses to change the makeup of my body so that I can function of less sleep, you can bet it's going to happen. Jesus fasted from food for forty days in the desert. That is physically impossible. Just a thought. So pray that I trust God to sustain me.
The other reason is because I spend my free time in other parts of scripture. I've been in churches where they speak Spanish for the past few weeks so the only thing I can understand is the books of the Bible and the verses. So I just sit there and read and study that. Man there is some awesome stuff in the New Testament. That should be motivation enough to keep reading. Just so that I get to the awesome truths in the Gospels and Paul's letters.
I'm not going to give anymore reasons for fear of sounding like I'm making excuses. That is the last thing that I want to do. The blame lies with me. I just wanted to let you all know that I need prayer. I need prayer everyday because I can't even get through a day without the grace's of the Lord, but specifically right now I need prayer for this. Energy and focus, especially in the mornings. I miss the face-to-face conversations that I get to have with a lot of you. I look forward to seeing you again when I get back home, or to school, or wherever we may meet. Thank you for the encouragement that you have all been to me.
One more quick thing. Don't expect immediate results. I'm only on chapter 68 of Psalms so I've got a ways to go. I might give a little midway update in the next few days though.
All for His glory,
Monday, March 29, 2010
I'm speaking in our HULA chapel today on Mark 8:34-38, 10:28-31, Psalm 4:6-7, 16:11, Matthew 28:20b and Christ as the glorious reward of our salvation. I feel like I'm prepared, but I always get nervous when I speak about something so awesome. I have no business speaking from God's Word, but He's allowed me to once again. Pray that the words that I speak are not my words at all but the words of the Holy Spirit. And pray that my name is not lifted up but that the name of Christ is lifted up. I speak at about 9 am our time which is 8 am eastern time. You centralers probably won't be up by then, but don't worry. I don't think the creator of time is bound by it. Love you all.
Also I have a Spanish test today over a lot of stuff. If you pray for that, pray for grace not justice.
All for His glory,
Friday, March 26, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I'm sitting up in a cabin in Bariloche, Argentina right now. It's like 2 am and I'm just answering some emails and getting back to some friends. I figured I would give you all a quick update on what is going on with me. We've spent the last nine days all over the southern part of South America, referred to as Patagonia. We have seen mountains, glaciers, volcanos, lakes, rivers, penguins, guanacos (a llama type thing), ostriches, and so much more. I can't even come close to explaining it so just look at the pictures I put up on facebook. They should be up by Tuesday. Anyway, it has just been unreal. So many awesome things that just scream the glory and greatness of Yahweh.
Sadly, I have slacked on my reading. I am only to about Psalms 42 (the beginning of book II) right now. The schedule has been all over the place (terrible excuse) and honestly I have just not been forcing myself to read, which is stupid. All of you who have been saved by the grace of God and experienced the joy of reading His word will know what I'm talking about. I always feel like I get to a point where I have to force myself to read it, which is stupid because I know that my joy comes from reading His word and being in His presence. It should never be a forced thing, but it so often is. Anyway, going back to Viña should help that a lot. I like routine and I'm just excited to get back into one.
Another big thing that has happened in my life over the last couple of days is that I was beauxed by Zeta Rho, my sister club. For those of you who don't go to Harding with me, it would take way too long to try to explain the club process to you and you still wouldn't get it. Basically, a girls club honored me by asking me to be apart of their club (that makes it sound a little weird but I'm cool with that). One of the awesome things about that is that Mark Baur and Tyler Samuel, two of my good friends that went to the Passion conference with me, also got beauxed. I told Mark that I am just super excited because this is just another opportunity to praise the greatness of our God around more people and show that He is our treasure and nothing else. So that's an exciting thing.
In all this madness that is happening in Chile, I have gotten to have some good, God-centered conversations with a few friends. I miss that talks that I had with T Payne and the Bens. I miss being able to go over to Mr. Webster's and just talk about the glory of God being shown in all of our lives or just text Dayton and talk about the awesome theology that we have both been working through. I miss walking next door to Mark's room and discussing ways that we can better lift up the name of Christ in our lives. I miss sitting down with my parents and working through what each of us believes and why. I miss those things. That is what I love, but at the same time, I know God is working to glorify Himself in what is happening here on this trip. Even if sometimes I feel like I am getting nowhere in my talks with my friends, God is working it for good. He is working for His name to be glorified even when I fall short. That is so comforting to me. I am learning to rely on Christ for my joy and satisfaction a lot right now because honestly I can't get it from anywhere else. There is not a whole lot of encouragement in my relationship with my savior outside of God's Word itself. That has actually been comforting.
Alright, this was a lot. There should be more to come next week since I will have much more access to the internet and my planned alone time with the Creator of the Universe. Until then, I love you all and can't wait to talk to you and testify to the Gospel of God's grace again. Be praying that my actions make God look great and not me.
All for His glory,
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I figured I would give you all a little update on what is going on and how I'm doing. First on the agenda is that I arrived safely in Chile. Our flight got into Santiago at about 7:30 am local time (We're two hours ahead of EST here). From there we drove the hour to Viña del Mar. The city is a bit different than I would have expected. It's just not what you see in America. Without sounding like an arrogant American (which I know I still do), it just looks crappy. Like buildings and houses and stuff. They just aren't clean and crisp looking. The majority of stuff looks like it's falling apart. In spite of that (it was just a bit of a culture awareness thing for me), I love it here. Our apartments are beautiful. They are so huge and nice and just ridiculous. I live in an apartment with 7 other guys, 5 of which I've been friends with for awhile now. If you want to see the view from our balcony, look at my facebook profile. Gorgeous. But yeah, that's about it. I love it here. And it's also great just being around friends again. I already have so many here that I like and know pretty well. I'm excited to get to know them a lot better on this trip.
So that's the update on what's happened so far. Now here's the crazy part. We're leaving today. Because of the delay, we missed a week of classes, but the trips are still going on as scheduled. So our 12 day trip to Patagonia (the bottom of South America) starts today at noon. We'll be going to three main places. I doubt you care about what cities they are so I'll just tell you that we'll be spending part of our time in Torres del Paine National Park and part of it in Bariloche, Argentina. I'm pretty pumped about some of God's beauty that we are going to see. Even though I love Ft. Wayne, we don't really have mountains (unless you count the rock quarry on the way to the airport). So I really just can't wait for this. It does mean though, that I probably won't have internet access for those 12 days. So there won't be any updates for awhile. When I get back, I'll post all my updates on the Psalms and give you a brief overview of what went down in Patagonia. Plus you can always look at my facebook pictures.
Now for the Psalms. I finally got started this morning. It was great to finally be able to sit down and just open up the Word of the Lord again. I got through 20 chapters, but I'm not going to give you a full summary of them. There is something worth saying now though. There is so much joy! It has just flown off the page at me, how much joy David talks about in his writings. My two favorite were Psalm 4:6-7 and 16:11. Psalms 4:6-7 says this. "There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!" You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound." And then Psalm 16:11 says this, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Those are just awesome reminders of where pleasure and joy is found. It's not found in the blessings of God, the "fun" things in life (like what I am doing right now). Joy comes from being in the presence of the Lord. He is what gives me satisfaction and makes me truly happy, not His gifts. I love that so much. It is so great to know that there is no greater pleasure than praising my God. I love how that truth is so blatantly stated in 16:11.
That's pretty much all I've got. Hopefully I'll be done with the Psalms by the time I get back. I'm not going to rush through them though because I'm very excited about reading them. Anyway, I'll talk to you again in a couple weeks. Chao.
All for His glory,
Monday, March 8, 2010
I think that I am finally leaving. I'm supposed to be flying out of Fort Wayne at around 2:30 tomorrow and getting to Atlanta at about 4:30. From there we take the ten hour (+ or -) flight to Santiago. I think the airport there is in good shape, but honestly I haven't checked. We will be there for about 24 hours and then leave on our first trip. This one is to Patagonia, the southern tip of the continent. I'll be down there until March 22nd. Then it's back to Viña for classes. We'll be taking three other major trips to Peru, Easter Island, and the Atacama Desert in that order. I don't know if I'll have internet access on those trips so these updates might be scarce.
What I am going to try to do is update on things that I'm doing and things that I'm learning all at the same time. It'll be tough for me just because I already feel like I won't have enough time in the day. I might just not sleep there. Maybe. My reading time will probably be limited to the mornings. I plan on waking up early to read and pray. I know that I'll want to read instead of hanging out sometimes, but the majority of people have told me I need to take in this experience as much as I can. We'll see about that.
Since this past week has been very hectic and at the same time not routine, I haven't done any reading in the Psalms. I know, I'm just as (probably more) disappointed than you. I'm hoping to read some on the flight but that time might be set aside to catching up with friends. The good thing about that is when they ask what I've been doing the last three months I can just pull out my Bible and start talking. The best thing about talking about reading or talking about Christ and His greatness is that it's pleasing. It's not always fun and it's not always easy. I've had many talks with people that frustrate me to no end and I leave either upset, annoyed, or sad. But I always leaved with a feeling of pleasure. I don't know, maybe I am using the wrong word because those sound like they contradict. But there's this sense of satisfaction that I get from talking about Christ. So whether the person I'm talking to agrees, disagrees or even worse, doesn't care, I am satisfied because I am not wasting my time. No time spent praising the grace and power of the Lord is wasted.
So in the end I'd just ask for your prayers. First I will ask you to pray for me to stay away from some things. Pray that I make war on my sin on this trip. That any feelings of arrogance, lust, hatred, annoyance, depression, or whatever else will be my enemy on this trip and that I would constantly be on guard against them. Also, pray for the things that I want to do. Whether I am having a conversation, speaking in chapel, climbing a mountain, sitting and reading, or even going to class, pray that I will do it all to the glory of God. That I would give him the fullest and most accurate praise of His grace that I can. Obviously you don't have to pray for me. I know all of you out there have things that you need prayer for. Not might need prayer. You do. Every one of us needs prayer just to get through the day by God's grace. So I'll be praying for those of you who I know as well. I'll miss you guys.
All for His glory,
I'm not sure if I have mentioned White Horse Inn yet, but I am going to mention it now. White Horse Inn is a radio show that is headed up by Dr. Michael Horton. The show brings together four very different men. Horton is a professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California and author of books such as Christless Christianity and Putting Amazing back into Grace. Dr. Rod Rosenbladt is a professor in theology at Concordia University in Irvine, California and an ordained Lutheran minister. Ken Jones is the pastor of Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, California. Kim Riddlebarger is the Pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California. These four men come together and basically talk about theology and the church. This is there statement on their website of what brings them together despite their differences:
Like its original namesake, the new White Horse Inn is not a church and our hosts don't agree on every detail of theology (even important topics like the sacraments and election, etc.). Instead, what unites the hosts and everyone involved in White Horse Inn is a concern for churches that are God-centered rather than human-centered, Christ-focused rather than distracted by secondary concerns, gospel-driven rather than driven by programs and moralistic platitudes. The hosts believe that the solas of the Reformation [see FAQs on website] are both the message and the means for the renewal of the church in our time.
I just love listening to these guys because they are all so grounded in what being a Christian is. They disagree on many issues, like I do with a lot of my friends, but they still have the basic foundation that they love Christ and His Gospel.
Their second most recent show (Feb. 28th) was titled "Grounded in the Gospel." In it they talked to two authors of a book by the same title. The discussion centered around instruction in the Gospel (what they referred to a catechesis). I listened to it on the way down to Harding, and it was so good. I just thought that I would share it with all of you.
There is a link to the White Horse Inn website on the side of this page. If you click here you can go straight to the downloading section of their shows (it doesn't cost). There is also a place to subscribe to their podcast on the home page of their website (right under the audio player).
All for His glory,
Saturday, March 6, 2010
On the way home from Harding, I was thinking about how the trip went and what I learned. Just to let you know, the trip was great. I had some good conversations with good friends and really got to know one or two people that I didn't know very well before. But as I was thinking about it, I realized something by some of the ways people interacted with me and spoke to me. I realized that in all places of my life (Harding, Blackhawk, my own home) there is this image of me that is squeaky clean. There is this choir boy image that people have of me that makes them not surprised when I bring up God or the Bible in conversation. "Of course he cares about God, he's a good kid." So I wanted to make some things clear and I hope they are clear by the end of this.
(When I thought about doing this, I wondered if it would be weird for the people that read it and if they would look at me differently. The answer is yes, it would be weird and they will look at me differently. That's the point.)
I want you to know that I am a sinner. I have violent thoughts towards people I disagree with on a daily basis. For years I have been back and forth with lust, pornography and masturbation. I have arrogant feelings when I get around certain people, and I feel like I'm better than them because of the things that I don't do. I get angry very easily and say demeaning and hurtful things to people. I'm lazy and sit around doing nothing productive for hours. I am selfish and will look for the best for myself in every situation no matter who it hurts. I want to make my name and my image look good, and I blatantly lie and do things that will make people think a certain way about me. If you are sitting there and thinking, 'Oh big deal. He doesn't get drunk or do drugs or any of the big stuff.' I want you to know something. Every day, from when I open my eyes in the morning to when I lay down at night, I fall short of the glory of the Lord. Constantly. It doesn't matter if I make my treasure drugs or my image; I am making it something other than God. So you should see that I am trash. I am a sinner to the fullest degree.
But the good news is that I am saved. Now listen carefully because I want you to hear why. I am not saved because I don't do drugs. I am not saved because I don't party and have sex. I am not saved because I love people and like to do good things for those in need. I am not saved because I like to read my Bible. I am not saved because I've been baptized. I am not saved because I confessed in front of my church that Jesus is Lord. I am not saved because I do "Christian" things. I am saved by the perfect and awesome grace of God and only the grace of God. I have done nothing to save myself. Christ saved me. So I have no reason to boast.
Because of God's amazing grace, I can happily say that I hate my sin. I agonize all the time over the instances where I fall short of His glory. He has given me that hatred for things that are not Him. I can happily say that I love that I was baptized and brought remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ. I can happily say that I love to read the Bible and confess that Jesus is Lord to people and praise His awesome saving grace. I can happily say all of this was given to me by Christ and His awesome grace. None of it is my own doing. That is why I have no reason to boast. IT IS NOT OF ME!
I hope this cleared up any thoughts of me. I am not squeaky clean and I am not a choir boy. I am an adopted child of God by His grace alone. I have no reason to boast in myself, but I will boast of Christ as loud and as often as I can until the day that I die.
All for His glory,
Monday, March 1, 2010
Well the tone of this post might be a little different than my last. After discussion with a few wise minds, I am not more encouraged than frustrated. I had a conversation with a few friends the other night about Job and my confusion with the flow of the Old Testament at this point. One friend told me he would be extremely worried if I got done reading through the Bible one time and said, "I get it." That kind of put things into perspective for me. How arrogant of me to assume that after about four months I was going to understand God. I think this was the point of the book of Job. All of Job's friends (even Job at points) presumed to understand God. That was the reason for the Lord's rampage at the end of the book (I think). So now, as weird as it seems, it is encouraging and exciting to know that I worship a God that I cannot understand. That won't keep me from trying to understand Him more, but it will keep me from drawing too many absolute conclusions.
Now I'd like to make something clear, because I can just hear some of you out there licking your chops. This does not mean that there is no reason to decide what you believe because we can't understand it anyway. If that was the case than there would be no reason to have the Bible, churches, or even Christianity. If that is your view then I'm sorry but you just aren't paying attention. It excites me to know that Paul is so confident. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul urges the Corinthians to imitate him. He's so confident in what he believes that he puts himself up as someone to be a model. So I am not telling you that I am one of those "there is no absolute truth, truth is what you make it" people. There is absolute truth and His name is Yahweh. He tells us about it in His true written word, the Holy Bible. Sorry, rant.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know the encouragement that I got and hope that it is encouraging to you too in you are in a similar place. If any of you haven't heard yet (my grandma called me this morning to ask me about it hahaha) there was a huge earthquake in Chile on Friday night. The epicenter was about 370 miles south of Vina del Mar, where I am staying. There was a lot of damage in the capital of Santiago and apparently a lot of bridges and roads are down. We are still going though. We have been in contact with our directors down there and for now everything is still a go. I'll be flying out of Fort Wayne tomorrow at like 2:30 pm. After we all meet up in Atlanta we will leave for Santiago at about 8 pm and arrive sometime Wednesday morning, about 8 am if everything goes as planned. That is my first official Chile update. I'm sure there are more to come. Please be praying for me and the group. I'm very excited about the opportunities that we have to bond and grow closer to each other and Christ. There are some great chances for good, God-exalting conversations and hopefully an awakening for us all of just how awesome out the Lord really is. Next time I write I will probably be in a different country. Chao.
All for His glory,