Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nothing but Net

 “Just as a body, though one has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”       1 Corinthians 12:12-14


Today, like most days, I got out of bed early, made some coffee and sat down to read my Bible and other studies. I discovered Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life years ago, but because I tend to lose focus at times of the “oh look, there’s a bunny” variety, I’ve never finished the book. The point of it is to take a forty day journey into self-discovery and develop a closer relationship with God. I'm really liking the book because it puts things in my life into perspective.

I’m on day four so far (fingers crossed), titled “Made to Last Forever.” I read about how we aren’t made for just the here and now but are made to serve God’s purpose into eternity. This earth is only the starting point in our journey of what’s to come. Rick Warren describes what we should be focused on in terms of eternity instead of what we typically focus on in our short lives here.

So I started thinking about my own purpose and talked to God for about an hour before I believe He gave me an epiphany about what I was saying. I thought of an iceberg and the typical analogy about the surface being only a small part of the whole. Then, I pictured a basketball net situated directly above the top of the iceberg. Strange I suppose, but it made sense the more I thought about it.

As we know, there is only a small sheet of ice sticking out of the water in comparison to the rest on the top of an iceberg. I think of people as a unit as the surface layer and God as the remainder bringing us all together into one piece of ice joined with Him. Though people make up only a fraction of the bulk, our purpose in being here is nonetheless very important. We are One, and every flake of snow sticks together in a snowball of purpose; every shot we make in the net above adds to the score board.

The game of basketball is made up of teams. Each member is important, no matter what their position, to the overall success of winning the game. Each point adds to the ultimate victory in the end, and as long as the team focuses on this goal they’ll play successfully. In sync, the team is unstoppable, and the work the coach puts into ensuring each player develops the strength and skill to play their position shows.

When people serve their God-given purpose in life, they make continuous perfect shots into the net above the iceberg. Their efforts are added to the surface steadily growing its mass over time. Every single shot matters because we are brought together as individuals serving one singular purpose of advancing God’s kingdom bringing each of us a sense of fulfillment in what we do. We are truly one body, and when the group succeeds, it benefits all. Shot after shot, our snowballs help solidify the surface of the iceberg as we offer our unique gifts to it.

I firmly believe that all people want to be loved and accepted for what they bring to the world. They want to know that who they are matters. Nobody wants to feel or be seen as a nobody. We weren’t designed by our awesome Creator to be losers, but unfortunately many don’t see the value in themselves. They believe the lies they’ve heard about who they are, or they’ve been pushed down too many times by life’s circumstances and heartbreak to feel worthy of more.

What many don’t understand is that they personally have something unique to offer this world, something only they are capable of giving it. Their position on the team matters. Even when someone chooses not to play the game, their decision pertaining to the whole of humanity makes a difference. Getting side-tracked and choosing to follow the important things of this world instead of their true purpose for eternity matters. Every choice we make either adds to the top of the iceberg or it doesn’t, and playing half-heartedly will not help the team. Half-hearted attempts to participate take away from the whole point of the game. 

You might say that the contribution you make in the game doesn’t really make a difference. Think of it this way though; if everyone else felt the same way, what would happen? Nothing, that’s what. We’d all be sitting on the benches or in the audience wondering where the players are. There’d be no game. We'd automatically forfeit by not showing up.

 God gave us the gift of free will to be used as we choose. Granted, there are times when we must take a break and sit on the side-lines because we are too tired or to give someone else a chance to shine, but we aren’t supposed to stay there indefinitely. We have to make an effort to get back in the game when we’re ready. We have to add to the mound of solidarity on the iceberg that purposeful work brings. 

The enemy in this world doesn’t want us to know about any of this. He is the star player of the opposing team trying to score on us in any way that he and his teammates can. He plays dirty, not caring about being fair or playing by the rules. He’s the bully who knocks you to the ground when you play.

But, there’s good news! The leader of humanity’s team is Jesus Christ, and by playing honestly and by the rules, He has already claimed the victory of our team. By choosing to follow His lead, we discover the good gifts God's given us. Only He shows us our unique purpose in being here. The only other option is to keep maneuvering around the court hoping to get the chance to shine. The choice is yours. Do you want the sure thing, or do you want to play aimlessly wondering whether you’ll make a difference in the score?

The iceberg is our court. God is our coach. He watches from the side cheering us on, knowing that if we work together in unity we can accomplish all that He created us for. The word ‘loser’ isn’t part of His team’s vocabulary. With His sure guidance, the result is nothing but net. As one body, we have the ability to bury the enemy under the snow pile of our success, and with the help of our team captain, Jesus Christ, the enemy and his teammates will be pushed to the edge of the iceberg forced into the water of the frigid sea. I don’t know about you, but defeating the enemy never looked so good.

Source

"BibleGateway." 1 Corinthians 12 NIV - - Bible Gateway. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

Warren, Richard. The purpose-driven life: what on earth am I here for? Lake Forest, CA: PurposeDriven, 2002. Print.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Being Born Again: The Relationship with Christ

1/17/2017

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36, NIV). To be born again is about a relationship with Christ. The term "Christian" is a label that lets people know Who you serve, but it's up to God's children to seek a genuine relationship with Him. The word "religion" is a word that gets thrown around way too often, and I believe it confuses people because some will automatically judge a person based on the label put on their particular religion. In this case I'm referring to Christians, but it pertains to all other beliefs as well. People's lives are based on living and learning through experiences, making mistakes, being in relationships, by making good or bad choices and through being close to their Creator and following their individual belief systems. There is a personal reason they've chosen to follow God or demonstrate their views in a certain way. Those who use derogatory names or descriptions to describe a group of people (like Christians) are probably basing their opinions of the group off a few instances or experiences with people who sadly made all Christians look bad, such as false prophets or hypocrites claiming to teach the truth but who actually follow their own way. But, that doesn't mean all Christians behave in the same manner. I see some who claim they follow Christ, but their "fruits" don't show it (Galations 5:22-23). God knows the heart though, and He knows who's genuine and who's not (Jeremiah 17:10). Nobody is perfect, but it's the very act of letting Christ help us to live the new life He's given us that proves who the ones are who at least try to do and be better human beings. True repentance is not based off pretty words with no real feeling or meaning behind them. To truly repent it must come straight from the heart. It has to matter to you whether you want real change in your life. It should come from the leap of faith you take when you tell Jesus you believe in Him and what He's done for you. Though the heart may sometimes deceive us, it doesn't mean God can't take up residence in there and gradually teach us the way to go in every circumstance we find ourselves in. It's the willingness to listen and act in accordance with the Word of God that He cares about.

Source

New International Version. Biblehub.com. http://referencebible.org/topmenubiblehub3.php

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Political Correctness and Speaking Out

1/15/2017

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (ESV, Matthew 10:28).


I was scrolling through the Home page on Google+ tonight, and I discovered a post that one of my friends shared about a woman named Brigitte Gabriel (a spokesperson against radical Islam) titled "Muslim Student Challenged A Christian Speaker.  Her Response Made America Stand Up and Cheer," by Elvin Bartley (Yes I'm Right, (n.d.)).  The link can be found at http://www.yesimright.com/muslim-student-challenged-a-christian-speaker-her-response-made-america/  

My thoughts on it:

I watched the video, and I have to agree with her statement pertaining to the question the student asked concerning some Islamic people. I especially liked how Brigitte defended her own position with actual facts about the deaths in some countries caused by radical groups. She didn't just give broad generalizations. Please watch the video to fully understand what I'm talking about here. Thank you.

The main thing I wanted to comment on is spokesperson Brigitte's statement at the end of the video where she said we need to "throw political correctness in the garbage" (not sure if that is her exact quote, but it is for the most part). So many people are worried about offending different groups of people that they don't stop to think about whether what they represent is even moral in the eyes of God. Deep down, whether people want to face it or not, we all have that little voice that knows whether something is right or wrong. This is not a judgment on any one person or group. It is a general statement about the conscience (or the Holy Spirit depending on how one views it).

I'm not saying each group shouldn't have a say. That's what freedom of speech is all about. Yet, so many people (or groups) don't like it when others don't agree with what they have to say or what they represent. They accuse those who have a different opinion of being racist or being hateful towards them (or their group) just because they are being opposed. It's hypocritcal when one person tries to express their views and expects to be respected for them, yet they criticize someone else for expressing a difference of opinion or belief. That makes no sense.

Last I checked, it isn't against the law (at least in America) to have and express your own opinion. And just because some don't believe in the same things as others do in the world doesn't mean they should be called names or beaten up because of thier God given right to express those beliefs. People should be allowed to have their own views without receiving backlash because of them (unless they are obviously spewing hatred; I get why that shouldn't be tolerated of course).

The only way to convince people to see your side of things is to put what you believe out there and let them make their own decision about it. You will never make your point about something stick if the one you are trying to convince doesn't choose it for them-self. Trying to force someone to agree with something they don't believe in will not only make those who don't agree with you fight against it, but it will also never make them open their mind to your point of veiw.

Think about it. Do you like to be told what you 'must' believe? I've never heard of anyone who does. It doesn't make someone who doesn't agree with your point of view horrible. It makes them use the free will that God gave them to decide how they want to live their life and what choices they'll make for them-self or their family. Forced change is never going to equal genuine change. Forced change is what causes wars and other conflicts among people.

Finally, I see so many who aren't worried about offending the One person Who matters more than all of us combined, and that's God. He's the One Who will judge all of us in the end. We should be most worried about offending Him. To not be concerned about His view of you and your choices will only hurt yourself. You can't blame others for how you have ultimately chosen to live your life.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mat.10:28).

References Cited

Bartley, Elvin. "Muslim Student Challenged a Christian Speaker.  Her Response Made America Stand Up and Cheer." Yes I'm Righthttp://www.yesimright.com/muslim-student-challenged-a-christian-speaker-her-response-made-america/. Accessed on 15 January 2017.

English Standard Version. Bible Hub. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.