Friday, January 26, 2018

David's Radical Respect

Then David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan
are dead?"...And the young man who told him said, "... He said to me, 'Stand beside me and kill me,
for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.' So I stood beside him and killed him, because
I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the
armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they
mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the
LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword… David said to him, "How is
it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?" Then David called one of
the young men and said, "Go, execute him." And he struck him down so that he died. And David said
to him, "Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed
the LORD's anointed.'"   - 2 Samuel 1:5-16

While we don’t go around anointing our country leaders in the United States, I feel like this passage still
speaks volumes about how we should regard our leadership. If you go back and read the book of
1 Samuel, you’d see that David doesn’t have a great relationship with Saul. For years, David has been
on the run and in hiding because Saul has been actively trying to murder him.

Any of us in that situation would probably respond with “He’s dead? FINALLY.” But David? Despite the
fact that his life is no longer being threatened, he knows the role of the king. Saul was God’s chosen
leader for Israel for that time period. While David may well have been relieved to not have to flee Saul,
he looked past his own interests and towards the interests of God, who both condemns murder and
raised Saul up to be king.

This mindset is still very applicable today. While our president and other world leaders are not generally
chosen by visions from God or being anointed, God is still sovereign. Nobody gets into leadership by
an accident or oversight from our Lord. While we may not know God’s purposes behind who is in the
office or the actions they take, it doesn’t change the fact that they are our leaders for this piece of
history and God allowed them to be there.

We are not called to applaud everything our leadership does (David certainly didn’t cheer Saul on in
his murder attempts!). We should, however, act in the same respectable manner as David did towards
his nation’s king. He respected Saul’s role, did not harm or slander him, and was angered when
someone acted out in sin towards Saul (even if by request of the king himself)- because, after all,
murder is still murder whether by request or not.

How do you regard your authorities (whether domestic, local, or national)?

Friday, January 19, 2018

How Do You Work Remotely For Christ?

This week I experienced my first-ever “snow day”. My office closed due to snow because we are
located in the South where the states and people aren’t accustomed to handling such weather.
This did not mean a day off, however; we would work from home on our company laptops.

Everyone seems to idolize the idea of working from home and those who do it. The fact of the matter
is, it is a huge and difficult test for those who do. It is a time to see if we can live up to 1 Corinthians
10:31 that says “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.
Or, alternatively, if we will fall to the temptations that come from having zero accountability
because we lack our boss and coworkers.

It is easy to get distracted when working from home. You see the dishwasher that needs to be
emptied, the laundry that is waiting to be done, and maybe you have an insatiable urge to go walk
through the freshly fallen snow (ok, well, I did anyway). Oh, and on top of all that, suddenly your
social media accounts are all vying for your attention. Keeping your mind and actions focused on
the task at hand is a challenge when you don’t feel like you’re in the “work zone”.

I feel all of this is similar to our lives as Christians, too. Even when Jesus was on earth, his disciples
had a hard time staying focused on Him and building His kingdom. Now that Jesus isn’t physically
with us, we as Christians are left to work remotely for the kingdom and it has become even more
challenging to remain centered on living for Him.

We are surrounded every day by distractions that make us tempted to live for self-gratification rather
than for our Creator. This is why it is important that we have the church and fellowship with other
believers: they are our co-workers in Christ. We need to hold each other accountable for the remote
work that we are doing for God and challenge each other to be working at our full potential to honor
Him in all that we do.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is
faithful. And letus consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not
neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the
more as you see the Day drawing near.”
- Hebrews 10:23-25

Whether spiritually, for an earthly workplace, or both, how’s your remote work going? Are you staying
focused on the mission God has placed before you?

Friday, January 12, 2018

What will you "never" do?

We go through life saying “I will do this” and “I will do that”, or inversely, “I would NEVER do that!”
Sometimes it works out the way we think, but God won’t let us dictate everything 100% of the time.
Sometimes God likes to mess with us.

I always said I wouldn't leave the Pacific Northwest, and I never wanted to give up my part time job
at the local library. God had other ideas. I now find myself in North Carolina- clear across the country
from the place I called home (and consequently, not working at a library). And you know what? It’s
better than I ever would have planned for myself. He allowed me to get an amazing job alongside
people who are living to glorify Him every day, and put me in a part of the country where there are
many beautiful outdoor areas to enjoy (such as the photo above, which I took at the park tonight!)

Next time you say “never”, check yourself: is this “never” biblically based?

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
- Proverbs 16:9

Friday, January 5, 2018

A Tribute to Extra-Biblical Revelation

This week I learned the strange story of the largest known treehouse in the world as I traveled through Tennessee. This enchanting and eerie structure is the result of so-called extra-biblical revelation. 

The architect who built this treehouse says that he did so due to "a vision from God and a promise from Him that he would not run out of wood until the structure was completed". The 97-foot tall treehouse was modeled to be a church inside. The problem? This "revelation from God" did not meet building safety codes and was condemned by the fire marshal. It now stands alone at the end of a dirt road, surrounded by a huge fence and signs that say "danger" "no trespassing" and "do not enter". When I told a friend of mine about it, he chuckled, "What, so God told him to build this thing but didn't know to tell him the building regulations?"

This is one reason we ought not to add to God's word. In the end, our best efforts fail and when we say that "God told me to do it", it leaves Him to take the fall for our wild ideas.

"Every word of God proves true;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar."
- Proverbs 30:5-6

Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Can't Tackle Everything Alone

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" - Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

This has been quite a week. I am in the process of driving coast to coast from Washington State to North Carolina. 

When I first found out about this move, I thought "Cool! A cross country road trip. I can handle this!" I've driven across Washington and into Canada a few times and figured this would probably be similar, but just for multiple days in a row and with a car load of stuff. I could do it myself, right? But my mom insisted on coming. At first I didn't think it seemed necessary, but after the first 12 hours on day 1, I was glad for the extra support. Each day we travel, I am even happier for the help and company. 

Lesson learned: we really aren't made to do everything ourselves. It's ok to accept help, even when you don't think you need it. From the help and support from my mom to the kind gestures and encouragement from friends, I couldn't do this road trip alone. 

Remember to thank God for the people He has placed in your life, and do your best to be a help to those around you, too!

Friday, December 22, 2017

You don't need a white Christmas.

I have to admit, I am rather surprised. I woke up a few minutes ago to discover a sudden (and reasonably large) dumping of snow. After checking the forecast, it appears we are in for a white Christmas this weekend! How exciting!

In a way, it seems somewhat funny that whoever chose the date to celebrate Christmas picked December. Did nobody travel back then? Possibly. I don't know. But the more I think about it, the more December feels like it makes sense.

It is the darkest time of year- immediately after the winter solstice. Christ came to save us from the dark forces of sin. It also is when many places are likely to get snow, which is an amazing visual reminder of purity. Freshly fallen snow is so beautiful and overwhelmingly white. It is reminiscent of our forgiveness that Christ came to make possible.

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18

I know these parallels can't work in every region of the world at once. Nevertheless, that is what today in my little space in Washington state reminds me of. Perhaps your place in this world can make you think of another truth of God right now. After all, as Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

So, look around you. Look outside. Take in God's creation. Which of His truths are you reminded of today?

Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Be Excited About Knowing God

Over the past two years, I have made a lot of friends over the internet. Tim and Victory, in the above photos, are two of my earlier internet friends. Something I've noticed in common with every friendship is this: we get excited about meeting each other in person. When we realize there will be an opportunity to meet face to face, we often become a lot more involved and enthusiastic about getting to know each other. We'll talk more often, we'll call each other, and as a whole get much closer than we previously had been. 

I've come to realize that it can be similar in our relationship with God. Sometimes we feel far away from Him and we begin to lose sight of the fact that as Christians, we WILL indeed someday be with Him. When we forget about the reality of a future with Him, it is easy to put our relationship with Him on the back burner. 

Recently, I was struck by a deep realization, remembering the reality of the perfect worship and time with God that will happen in my future. Suddenly, something clicked in my mind and this truth feels so much more real than it once had. Since then, I've experienced a heightened interest in studying passages that reveal things about God's personality and work. 

If you're going to be with God forever someday, get to know Him! Put yourself in a place where you will live with excitement about this coming reality!

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me." - Proverbs 8:17

"... giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:12-14