Friday, January 20, 2012

Faith: Mark, Moving and Mustard (Character Trait #6)

This week I've been reading Timothy Keller's Book King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus. In chapter 10, Keller references Mark 9:20-24. A man, desiring desperately for his son to be healed of being hurt and tormented by a demon, begs Jesus to heal his son, "if he can." 

Jesus, the Son of God in which all things were created and by which all things hold together. Jesus, the savior of a dying world; a savior that goes on to conquer sin, death and satan himself. Jesus, who walked on water and transformed the world in just 33 short years of life and transformed eternity forever. That Jesus. Of course, this Jesus is able.

But somewhere in this man's heart, doubt crept in. In a desperate plea he calls out "I do me overcome my unbelief." Keller says that the father is basically saying "I'm not faithful, I'm riddled with doubts...but help me."

Keller then says something that also sticks out to me from Yeakley's chapter on faith:
"We don't need perfect righteousness, just repentent helplessness, to access the presence of God." (Keller)
"The amount of Faith does not determine whether God answers our prayers, for it is the object of our faith, God himself, who determines the outcome." (Yeakley).  

Basically, Yeakley and Keller are both saying its not about how big my faith is, but how reliable and sure is the one my faith is in. Its not about if my faith is as tiny as a mustard seed or as great as a mountain. What matters is the faithfulness of the one my faith is in, that is Jesus Christ.

Yeakley also describes faith as a muscle. The more we exercise it, the more it grows as we see God's faithfulness. I think of all the people from Hebrews 11, specifically Abraham in this.

Abraham, "obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Heb 11:8) I can only imagine that Abraham had doubts, fears, what ifs and a desire to make a back-up plan or go out and a the very least, buy a proverbial GPS. Or better yet, not move. Stay with what he knew. But he didn't. He believed God was faithful, so he walked. He packed up the wife, the camels, and the tent and he left. Why? Because he trusted, not himself, but the Faithful one.

I talked to a friend today, who, like Abraham, did just this. After almost a year of job-hunting with no leads, they made a decision to trust God and move. Her newly bar-certified law graduate husband and her made a decision to trust God and move accross country to where job opportunites may become available for her them. They obeyed, and went, even though they didn't know where they were going. Technically,, they did know the location. But they didn't know what would happen. Still don't. Will he get the job he's been waiting for? Or will there be a different opportunity? Will they find community like they had in their city before? Will they have as great of an impact on the homeless or on other people that they loved helping in the big city? But as these friends trust God for a job. they are excercising and acting not based on logic or fear, but based on the character and the promises of God.

God, the promise fulfiller. God, the creator of their lives, who knows what each of their days held before birth. God, the one who loves them enough to give them not only his only Son for their ransom, but graciously, everything else. God, the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and wants to richly lavish his love on his children. That God. He of course, can meet the needs of this couple. As well as fulfill his promises to them.

And they exercised their muscles of faith in a huge way. Its something I marvel at, admire, and respect with the upmost honor. Upon hearing these friends news, I felt like my heart did a little dougie dance at seeing their trust and confidence in the promise giver, not in their abilities. Oh for faith like this! It makes me see moving mountains in the distance.

That is what it means to walk by faith, and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)

I pray, that I too, would not stay back out of fear, doubt or lack of understanding, or pride.  But in faith,  I would Walk. Follow. Stand. Look for. Go. And exercise faith out of a trust in the promise giver and fulfiller.

This blog brought to you by French's Yellow Mustard, cause after all, faith as small as a mustard seed, can really move mountains.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Purity: Avoiding Golden Apples for the Greater Prize (Character trait #5)

Hippomenes was a mythical Greek young man in love with the beautiful Atlanta, known for her speed. In order to win Atlanta over, Hippomenes had to beat her in a race. As they raced, Hippomenes threw Golden Apples out, one by one, to which Atlanta would stop, pick it up and admire it and tuck it away in her tunic. She reasoned that she certainly could pick up the golden apples, and still finish the race. In the end, Hippomenes beats her and she loses.

Tom Yeakley opens his chapter on Purity with this story, equating it to the "enemy of our souls rolling 'golden apples' of deception, compromise, and sexual temptation in our path...causing many to fail to finish the race set out for them [by the Lord]".

He also goes on to say how the "heart (soul) is the seat of our mind, will and emotions. Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a life. How true this statement is.

So purity starts with us and God. Watching what we think about, and how we act on it.  Maybe it means reading less chic-lit and more Bible. Maybe it means watching "The Blind Side" and not the "Proposal." Maybe it just means connecting our hearts more to God than to activities, things, etc. That we would be closer to Jesus and live more like him.

Of course purity spans from the personal level to the relational level too. I've been talking to women recently about how purity is a choice. Its not something we don't have a say in. We choose to live with our mind out of the  gutter and focused on truth. And it also goes deeper than skin deep. Purity starts in the heart and has to be motivated out of love. Love for what or whom you may ask? Love for Christ. He is really the only thing that makes a desire for purity, well, pure.

Since I'm a single lady, and I work with mostly single ladies, I'm going to address something that I see as a singleton in the area of purity.

I've been thinking of is how purity for men and purity for woman can look different in the temptations we avoid. Though I don't want to put us all in boxes, I would say, from the statistics I've heard, often men's struggles in purity are in the area of physical lust. For single women, more than men, I think emotional lust is one of our biggest downfalls,. We can actually meet a man, and in less than 5.2 seconds we have emotionally taken a dive into the deep end, where we see our wedding dress, our kids names, and what our future home looks like. Though innocent as it seems, this can cause us to have unhealthy expectations on men who really are just acquaintances or friends, not boyfriends or husband.

Scenario (not so made-up...and by not-so made up, I mean I see this at least once a month)

Girl sees guy friend  across the room at a college ministry meeting. Girl decided last week in her heart, he is my future husband. Guy across the room is so focused on his pizza, his buddies, and his plans for basketball or school or work for the week that he doesn't get a chance to talk to girl across the room. Girl across the room waits patiently, talks with other people, and eventually leaves in a huff. She bad mouths the guy or at least thinks in her heart "What a jerk." "He didn't even acknowledge me." Girl avoids guy for the next few weeks and guy wonders "what happened?"


When did guy friend across the room go from future husband to jerk-face?

When girl across the room claimed her as husband and put husband expectations on a guy that innocently thinks "but we are at friend level."

Now if in real life a husband did not acknowledge his wife, after a long day apart, that would be something  where we might think the title jerk is true. But in this case, its a bad case of emotional lust.

Ladies, Let's not let "golden apples" being thrown into our path actually trip us up. Better yet, let's not be throwing the apples, which can come in the form of immodesty, manipulation, as well as other ways. And let's not let our minds dive deeper with our brothers than is pure. And may we live believing that Jesus is enough of a reason to stay pure and live purely, for he is pure, and this only can incline our hearts closer to his.

This Blog brought to you by Phil 4:8:

Finally,...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.