Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vision for the New Year

Christmas is past and now comes the time of year when everyone begins to make resolutions. We say that this new year is going to be different. We say that this year 'I will ... lose weight, get that promotion, stop smoking, eat healthier, etc.' The tendency is to make these resolutions and stick to them for a few weeks or months and then to simply forget about them. After a few years it's easy to start thinking there's no point. We get tired of making the effort when there is no true result. But sometimes we forget that the idea of making a resolution is very similar to a Biblical idea. In Habakkuk 2:2-3 it says:

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

"Write the vision, and make it plain...". It doesn't say to specifically do it at the beginning of the new year, but that's as good a time as any. God has set a principle of having a vision for our future. He wants to look ahead and prepare for what is coming. In 'Undeveloped Dream cont.', I also mentioned Proverbs 28:19:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Our vision is what brings order to our world. Our vision is what keeps and protects the law and morality of God. We need vision. So what is the answer to the problem I mentioned earlier? How do we make our resolution (vision) bring lasting results?

The first and most important key to bringing lasting results is seeking God for the right vision to pursue. What does God want for us in this new year? What God wants usually coincides with our own desires, because God will plant desires in our heart for us to pursue.

Psalm 37:4

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

When we look into the Hebrew we can better translate this verse as the following:

Make yourself pliable in the hands of the Lord and He will place desires in your heart.

In other words, the first step, before deciding on a vision, is actually to put ourselves in God's hands and to let Him form us. The Bible says that He is the potter and we are the clay. Let the Potter form you and you will begin to realize that your desires will match with His.

Once you have put yourself in the forming hands of God, we return back to the first verse in Habakkuk. It's time to start writing down those desires that seem to be from Him. We need to write it down and seek God about how He wants to use that to protect His law and morality in this world. Then write that down. Be as specific in writing as God is in speaking to you. Keep it somewhere visible all year, or however long it takes to fulfill it, and continue seeking God for updates in the vision. God never gives it all to us at once, probably because He knows that we will stop seeking Him if we know all we need to know. So keep seeking Him and every time He tells you something new, write it down.

It's time to seek God for 2011. What does God want to do through us this year? How does God want to affect the world around you? He's just waiting for you to ask!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Message

There are a lot of things vying for our attention on Christmas these days. As kids our first thought was always the presents. We were wondering for weeks ahead what was underneath the Christmas tree with our name on it? Sometimes we would even make our list saying what we wanted. Many kids still believe in Santa and wait to try and hear if he is really coming through our chimney.

As we grow, hopefully, are focus goes off of our own presents and goes towards other things. Maybe we start admiring the decorations. Some people like the elaborate decorations covering the front yard, whereas others prefer simple. Or maybe we start focusing on the presents that we get for our family. This can often come in the form of pressure. We think who do we need to get a present for? What should we get? How are we going to pay for it all?

Then the day comes, the pressure is gone, and we are able to settle down and enjoy getting together with family, eating the food, and opening presents. We see the joyful smiles on the faces of the people whom we guessed right, and the fake smiles on the faces of those we got wrong, and we think this is the reason for Christmas and the holidays. After all that's what our PC media always tells us. They tell us that we need to take our focus off of the materialism and our jobs and focus on the time we spend with our family on the holidays, but is that really the reason for Christmas?

All Christians who read this will think, of course it's not! But what do our actions show? What is the biggest thing on our minds as we come up to Christmas? Are we thinking about Christ or what we are going to get for our family? When Christmas comes do we mention Christ beyond the short religious prayer before the meal? Or do we simply gorge on the meal, laugh and joke with the family, and completely forget the reason we are all together? I am guilty of that for the majority of Christmases in my life.

I am not saying that getting together with family is the wrong thing to do. I am also not saying that giving gifts is wrong or even that being excited about your own gifts is wrong. All I am saying is that we say that Jesus is the reason for the season but our focus should be elsewhere. What would you do if you couldn't get together with your family? Or there were no presents? Would you still be able to celebrate without an elaborate Christmas meal? For some of us maybe that would be what it took to get our focus right, but let's try to correct our focus while still having all of those things. Remember that the reason we exchange gifts is so that we can bless Jesus by blessing each other. Remember that the reason we get together is to remind us what Jesus did when he came down to earth as a baby.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Tomorrow is the day that we have set aside to recognize and remember this scripture. It may not be the correct date of His birth, but that's okay. It is an internationally recognized day in which we celebrate that truth. And it is truth!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Change the World

When most want to change the world, we think global outreach and actually envision changing the entire world...but imagine your next door neighbor suffering from depression from job loss, or the family across the street from you dealing with foreclosure...if its your heart to change the world, start with the folks nearest to you... and help change their world!

One of my wife's friend's posted this as their status on facebook. It is interesting, because I also had a conversation with a friend just a couple days before on this subject. The underlying question is: How do we change the world?

So how do we change the world? When we think of world changers we usually think of the people that make the news, or the history books. We think of politicians like Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela, or church founders like Martin Luther or John Wesley; possibly we think of people like Mother Theresa who did the little things so much that she became famous. The common denominator is we think of people who are famous, or in the public eye. We think of someone that has done something huge for the whole world. But these are not the things that Jesus talked about when he told us to be lights for the world and the salt of the earth. These people all did great things that changed the world but it's not the end result of their lives that made these people great, it's the things that they began with. It's what happened before they were famous.
Mother Theresa cared for people and served people long before she was noticed by anyone, Nelson Mandela learned to forgive people before he was ever president of South Africa, and Martin Luther began by simply studying God's Word thoroughly and then deciding to stick to what it said even if the entire church did not. Even when he began translating the Bible he probably had no idea how that would spread to the entire world. They began with their initial surroundings and their work multiplied itself.

This is the same idea we see in the Bible. Jesus did not focus on the multitude. true he did preach to the multitude when they presented themselves, but he never looked for the multitude, he looked for the individual! We see him over and over again seeking out the needy and the sinner and helping them. Even in his overall strategy he focused on twelve guys and even more on three. Then in Acts he tells his disciples to start in Jerusalem, where they were at, and then to work there way out, which is exactly what they did. In fact the first time we hear about any sort of foreign missions is in the eleventh chapter:

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 

The interesting thing about this is that the first instance of foreign missions is simply an extension of how they started. They found themselves in a new country, for completely different reasons than mission, and thought 'well we might as well continue talking to these people about Jesus.' They simply focused on their new surroundings. There was no big project or mission trip or program. It was simply, 'these are the people around me so how can I tell them about Jesus?'

This is what we need to do. How can I serve my neighbor? How can I show my co-worker God's love? What will it take to convince my classmate that God is real? This is how we will change the world! The funny thing is that it seems the church is the last to figure this out in our modern age. Hollywood communicated this idea through the movie 'Pay It Forward' and Michael Jackson communicated a message of changing ourselves first in 'Man in the Mirror'. So how come it is taking us, the Body of Christ, so long to figure out and adapt this strategy of changing the world? It is time that we as the church stop focusing on the big glory moments and begin focusing on the individuals around us. It's time we start focusing more on loving our neighbor than complaining about the bad decisions our politicians are making. New politicians are not we need to change our country, what we need is individuals to step out and begin living the Gospel wherever they are!

Let's change the world!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Undeveloped Dream cont.

I believe I am not the only one with undeveloped dreams in my life. How many of us get caught up in our everyday life and forget those things God placed on our hearts so many years ago? How many of us got a job 'just to pay the bills' while we seek after what we really want to do and before we know we've spent ten years 'just paying the bills'. The Bible says:

"Where there is no vision the people perish." Proverbs 29:18

After studying the Hebrew you could say it like this:

Where there is no Godly sight (dream) the people run wild with no moral restraint.

How many of you have seen people running wild without moral restraint in our society today? I assume everyone has so what is the answer. Many seem to think the answer is to simply sit back and complain, but God gives us a better solution in this verse. It's through our Godly visions! Or in other words, our dreams from God. These dreams (as we see in the second half of the Proverb) are intended to protect the law of God, to protect His sayings and statutes.

Sometimes we seem to think that the problem of neglecting our dreams is simply that we short ourselves and put ourselves into a position of burn out. This is a result of it but it is not the main problem. The main problem is that God has entrusted us with something and we have neglected it. It's just like the popular parable of the talents in which the master gives three servants various amounts of talents. The one with only one talent buries his talent and neglects it until his master returns.

When we neglect our talents and our dreams we are burying something that God intended to bring His will upon this earth. Along with that we are stealing from those around us as God had intended to use that talent and dream to bless them. Do not neglect your gift! Do not neglect your dream! Let God use you to the extent and in the way that He wants to. Not in the way that you want to.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Undeveloped Dream

In my life God has given me many different dreams and many of them I have seen fulfilled and/or developed. For example, I had a dream to go to Germany. God told me when I was sixteen that I would go to Germany. For the next five years I carried that dream knowing that it would someday come to pass. Then, in September of 2005, I found myself on a flight to Munich for my DTS at YWAM Hurlach.

Going back a little further in my life I see three other dreams that God gave me, this time at age twelve. God told me I would be a preacher, teacher and a writer. This was the first clear Word I received from God in my life and naturally I was very excited about it. I told everyone! At the time I had already been writing but the rest of the Word came with a perceived problem. I was terrified of speaking in front of people! Naturally, this was my first focus as it was the biggest hindrance to the dream God had placed in my life.

To make a long story short, God delivered me miraculously from my fear! As Paul talked about in Corinthians; Where I was weak God became my strength! But I was so excited for the new found freedom that for the next 9-10 years I have been strongly pursuing the dream of teaching and preaching but have mostly neglected my dream to write. God has continually reminded me of that dream and yet I have not consistently responded. Occasionally I would decide to write something but then would put it to the side again. This blog is what I believe to be a God idea that puts in the right direction.

Eventually I want to write a novel but I have found that I have neglected my writing so long that I seem a bit rusty and can not find ideas. For that reason I want to take this blog and write about the one topic I always have something to say about: The Bible and Christian living. In the process I hope and pray that some people will find this blog and be ministered to by it. But the main reason is to simply give me a platform to begin to develop a undeveloped dream.

If you have any tips, comments, or encouragement they are always accepted just try to keep it constructive. If you are reading this, thank you for providing me an audience.