Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Testing... One, Two, Three this thing on? Oh good, it still works. Yes, yes, I know I didn't blog last week, so this blog post will be partially in response to the clamoring that I heard about getting another post up... all the e-mails (none), phone calls (zero), and trips down to Virginia, demanding that I write a blog post (zip) can now be put to rest!

I just didn't really know what to write about last week, and if you do bother to take the time to read this, I might as well have something useful to say. The past two weeks have been rather enlightening for me. I wrapped up the Fruit of the Spirit sermon series at First Christian Church with a sermon called Fruit Salad. If you missed any of the sermons, they can all be found at but if you don't want to listen to EVERY one of them, Fruit Salad does (in my opinion) a pretty nice job of wrapping everything up and providing the main gist of what I was going for.

Next, we moved onto the Essentials of what First Christian Church believes. Now, I'm not in the business of telling everyone to believe what I believe, I'm in the business of telling everyone to believe what the Bible says... I just try to do my best to figure out what the Bible says and live that out. Hopefully, someday I'll do a good enough job that people who are looking for a Godly example, they can look to me, but it's always an uphill battle.

One of the things that I've been particularly interested in both in the last two weeks and while fighting that uphill battle is trying to figure out what God wants from me. I want to know what he wants from me in the next 5 days, weeks, months, years, though more and more I feel like I should be focusing more on the next 5 minutes.

As it stands, I've been trying to figure out my entire future. Am I always going to live in Culpeper? Doesn't God want me to be able to find friends? Who am I going to marry? All of these questions come up a lot more than they should. In fact, they tend to distract me from things that are going on in my life right now.

I've developed a system of testing. I'm not necessarily testing God-- rather, I'm resorting to what Gideon did in Judges 6:36-40. All throughout the New Testament, we're told to test things by the Spirit so we can discern God's will. I don't really ask God for signs, I just ask for opportunities. I say things like, "God, this is what I think I'd be good at, could you show me a way where I could serve you through this?" or "God, I think you're leading me to talk to that person over there. Could you provide me an opportunity to make it feel less awkward?" As I continue to find things, I can start to feel God tugging me gently one way or another. I've learned to stop doubting myself, and start trusting God. Ultimately, I aim to please Him... not myself or others.

God is clear in what He wants us to do. He wants us to seek the lost and expose them to His eternal glory. If we make that a desire of our hearts, and draw close to God, we'll begin to experience what He truly can do through our lives.

I'll leave you with a few Bible verses:

1Th 2:4 - On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

2Cr 13:5,6 - Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


As we've meandered through the Fruit of the Spirit, I had been looking ahead to self-control for quite some time. In some ways, it really does seem out of place with the rest of this section of the Bible, but at the same time one can view it as an underlying force behind all the rest of the "Fruit."
If you take the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit and lay them out, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, there isn't really any ONE that stands out where if you're lacking it, someone might point it out. No one I've ever heard has said, "Look at that random person over there, he sure lacks peace in his life!"
But when someone lacks self-control, we notice it right away. In fact, lacking something like love for other people, or kindness might even get attributed (correctly) to a lack of self-control. Like most things in life, the world always is able to pick up on shortcomings rather than successes, so while most people will never be praised for their great self-control, several people will be criticized if they don't have it. It's definitely something to be worked on and honed as a skill.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I’ve been thinking about this gentleness thing a lot. I especially like the antithesis that gentleness cannot exist with great power. Two Saturdays ago my friend Brad took his black belt test in the World Tang Soo Do Association. A couple days before that, we had been talking about what this test meant, how long he had been studying this particular martial art, and how confident he was that he could pass.

The conversation weaved around, but a couple things stood out to me. If he does acquire his black belt in Tang Soo Do, he will be open to a new world of great “perks” of being a black belt. He explained to me that a certain level of respect comes with earning a black belt, but there is also a whole new world of the martial arts open to him when he does pass. All of the studying, all of the practicing and skill-building leading up to this point, he explained, basically just consisted of the basics. After achieving the rank of black belt, that’s when the masters assume you know the basics, and you can start getting into the really cool stuff.

That idea somewhat surprised me. I knew that there were varying degrees of black belts in many martial arts, but I never really considered a black belt as anything other than a pinnacle
that one strove for-- certainly not a beginning.

The other thing that really spoke to me is that when Brad does earn his black belt, there is a certain standard that he’ll be held to. I don’t think he’ll actually have to register any of his body parts as lethal weapons, but I’m sure that Brad has the power to do some serious damage, if not cause fatalities, with the skills that he has gained. But as Uncle Ben in Spider-Man said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” If someone attacked Brad in hand to hand combat, unless his life was in danger, he really shouldn’t cause a fatality, even though he has the full POWER to do so. He needs, to some degree, practice restraint.

That’s what we need to learn as Christians. Some of us need to learn that we DO have power... we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us! There’s nothing more powerful than that. But once we realize that, accept that, and begin to wield that power, we need to immediately learn to be gentle with it. Too often, we fall into what Dan Merchant, author and documentarian of “Lord Save from Your Followers,” calls the “gospel of being right.” We have the Spirit inside of us, there’s just some way we know that Jesus is who he says he was.. and we want to TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!!!

It’s a fantastic calling, but it’s one that needs to be done responsibly. As you go throughout your week, become emboldened by the power that lives inside of you, but at the same time, harness that power and ask Jesus for help in directing it in a way that will be used to glorify Him, not to tick other people off!