Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Want To Be Hated

I just finished the book Radical by David Platt the other day on the plane ride back from Colorado. Oh man... I would recommend that book to anyone who knows the Lord and wants to learn more about His desires for them.

Although there were many things I will carry with me for years to come, the concept I seemed to latch on to the most was the fact that Jesus said we will be hated if we follow Him. Jesus even said "You will be hated by all for my name's sake." (Luke 21:17)

I think Christians today tend to believe that the more Christ-like they become, the more they will be liked/accepted/loved. If you think about it, though, wasn't Christ hated? He was put on a cross even though He had done NOTHING wrong, after all. Don't you think those people might have disliked Him a little bit? The more Christ-like we become, the more our thinking will be different from their thinking, the more we'll tell people that their ways aren't the ways of God, and the more we won't participate in things that aren't honoring to the Lord. Also, as we get to know the Lord and become like Him, we will show more of His character by the way we live and talk. That's a bit intimidating and people might feel pressured to change. They could feel guilty of their sin and see what they need to revive in their lives and surrender to Jesus, but also realize that it would be at the cost of pleasure. What if they don't like that? What if they don't want to be with me or talk to me or be my friend? How am I supposed to reach out to them if they don't want to have anything to do with me any more because of my faith?

The thing is that, naturally, I am the people-pleaser of all people-pleasers. I desperately want people to like me and accept me and respect me. Then again, I want people to hate me. My desire is to be so radically His that people are frustrated and confused and hate me for the seemingly nonsensical decisions I make for the cause of Christ.

The paradox of these desires pose problems for how I will choose to live my life. Will I deliberately choose to forego my people-pleasing tendencies and be willing to be disliked for God's glory or will I deliberately choose to go the "easy" route and make people happy with me and avoid disagreements? Because, after all, both choices are deliberate and intentional. Even if I continue to be a people-pleaser, I am making the choice to do so by not changing my actions.

Which will you choose? What a tough decision with severe implications. For me... I pray I will strive with everything in me to be so close to the Lord that I can't help but be hated and mocked by the world. After all, what could be the worst someone could do to me? Kill me? Death will do nothing bad to me, but simply let me be with my savior in glory. All I need is Christ, and if I am persecuted I know He is good and He has me in His hands. "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
(John 15:18-25 ESV)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

5... Because It's Foolproof

I have sat down to write at least half a dozen times and my posts never seem right so I delete them or save them as drafts. You might see the fruit of my labor someday, but right now I can't get my thoughts straight enough to communicate what I want. Instead, I figured an update on Rome happenings would be good. You get the number list because it's pretty much foolproof.

1. I get on a plane headed to Rome in two weeks. Wait... did you read that and comprehend it entirely? I will get on a PLANE headed to ROME in TWO WEEKS. My stomach is full of butterflies all the time. The excitement and fear are overwhelming. There's certainly more excitement than fear though. I have so much to do in these next two weeks. Packing, having a party, and saying goodbye to my family and friends are among those things on my to do list.

2. In the past month or so, I have had to realize more than ever before that my life is in the Lord's hands and He directs my steps. Stressing does me no good, especially with my support raising. Although I have raised quite a bit of money, I haven't raised near all of it and am scared I will have to return to the states earlier than planned. Yes, I need to do my best to present my need and ask people to contribute, but I also need to be praying and fasting and knowing that God has a different plan for me that is good even if I have to come back early. And He's still good. All the time.

3. I am blessed. My family, my friends, my church, the city I've grown up in... all HUGE blessings. Particularly, I've been realizing how attached I am to Cypress/Houston. It is the only home I have ever known, and I will be getting a wake up call in just about two weeks. I am ready and have prepared myself, but I know I am going to have to lean on the Lord in my homesickness. But you know what? I am so excited about it. I am excited about God stretching me. I'm excited that I won't be able to lean on friends and family all the time and it will push me to lean on the Lord in all circumstances. I've also realized that homesickness isn't necessarily bad. It just means that I love people and am loved here in Houston. I'd rather be homesick than never love people enough to miss them.

4. I seriously need to make the most of every moment I have in these next two weeks. Would you join me in praying for productiveness, but also for peace and rest?

5. Just in case you were wondering, I'm pretty OCD about some things. I know the seriousness of the real disease and don't pretend to suffer from it, but I am pretty particular about some things... especially numbers. And ending on ones that I like. Don't ask about the logic in all of it, because I don't think there is any. :)

Hope you're having a good day!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just On My Heart

In the recent circumstances surrounding my life, I have come to the realization that life is just plain hard. While I am not one to be very pessimistic, it is just a reality of this life on earth. Everyone is always going through something. If they aren't, they have before. If they haven't, they will. Nobody can escape it. Oh, the effects of our sinful nature. Not very fun at all.

Relationship problems, sickness, serious sin struggles (then again... what sin isn't serious?), tragedies, things that happen that are out of our control, spiritual issues, economic hardships, and the list could go on and on. If I am to focus only on the bad things and sin problems in life, things could go downhill very quickly, and serious depression could set in. Also, no desire to change things, a loss of hope, and anger (with God or others) could come into play. Then again, if I never talk about and/or acknowledge that bad things happen and sin is a struggle, there is no assistance, no accountability, no change, and no freedom from bondage.

So, now, what do we do with this? For our own lives, we trust the Lord. We realize that He has a plan and promises to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We come to terms with the fact that hard is not necessarily bad and rest in the knowledge that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle with Him by our side (1 Corinthians 10:13). We get to know Him for who He is and not what we want Him to be. We study His Word every chance we get and delight in it. Prayer becomes integrated in our daily (hourly... minutely...) routine (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Love becomes synonymous with life. We have a passion for the Lord and strive to honor Him in every situation we come in contact with. Obviously we will never achieve perfection, but the Lord gets glory from our pursuit, and our improvement makes temptation easier the next time. Admitting our failures and giving God the glory in our success are crucial to this playing out.

How do we help others understand these truths? Well, this is the tricky part. At the end of the day, we have to be in tune with the Spirit and live out our lives in a Godly manner and leave the results up to God. We can not make people live Godly lives, but we can be examples of how God can redeem by the way we live our lives. Although we can't provide outcomes, we can obey what the Lord tells us to do. One of the most important things we can do for our friends and family is to pray for them. Interceding on their behalf really does a lot. As a wise man always tells me, "prayer IS the work!". I wholeheartedly agree. This can also comfort us when we're disheartened because there don't seem to be any other options. While the results are sometimes easier to see when we encourage and live life with people who are going through a rough time, it is not always best. If it is welcomed, simply being there for people who are struggling and making sure they know they are loved can make a big difference in helping others believe that God is good. Encouraging them and showing them who the Lord is when they can't see Him is crucial, as well as pushing them in their personal Bible study and prayer, reminding them that His Word does not return void and when we call on Him, He will surely answer

Let me leave you with some verses that have been on my heart lately.

And we urge you, brother, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Ans we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

For sin will not have dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:14

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Pray, people. Pray. There is nothing you can do to be more involved in helping others than to pray for them.

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