Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NPR Faith Show

A friend sent me this link a while back, and I thought I'd share it. I just finally got around to watching all of it.

If you have the time to watch the whole thing, (it's probably about an hour and a half, but there are smaller segments) it is well worth it. This is a very relevant discussion that is important for us as Christians to be thinking about especially with the election ahead of us, about what it means to be a Christian in this world, at what point do we confront our culture.

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/evangelical_politics/

Monday, August 11, 2008

Solzhenitsyn



This is a speech that Solzhenitsyn gave in 1978 at Harvard. Solzhenitsyn was a Russian writer who for was exiled because of his criticism of the communist system in the Soviet Union.

It's rather long but, it is well worth reading. Please read it. We need more people like Solzhenitsyn who are not afraid to speak the truth, especially in an election year.

I hear this speech was not received too well. It's too honest. But that's why I like it.

Let's Pretend

In Ukraine, at the camp, I was on the drama team (komanda drama) that performed a Christian drama during the morning program each day. I think this was one of the coolest things for me.

I was Jesus in the dramas. So, for the whole week of camp to those kids I was Jesus.

This was really weird for me at first. How do you act like Jesus? I didn't have one of those togas that you always see in the Jesus movies or a British accent.

But, I began to realize more and more that this is what God calls us to every day. He has called us to be Jesus to others, to visibly reflect Him every moment.

And I became more and more aware that if we reflect Him in any way it is only because He is in us, it's not us. It doesn't depend on us. I make a lousy Jesus on my own. Jesus has to be shining in us, and His spirit has to be in us otherwise we can't hope to point others to the gospel.

What would it look like to be Jesus every moment, to have your life be the overflow of the eternal river poured into your heart?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our Lives Are Not Our Own

About two weeks ago, I got back from a mission trip to Ukraine, on which we taught english to Ukrainian youths at a Christian camp. It's called Radooga if you want to google it.

Coming back from it, I was not really on quite the spiritual high that I have had coming back from other mission trips. And to be honest it was a little disappointing. I had hoped for more.

The Holy Spirit has convicted me though, that at least a large portion was self-interested in the experience. Interestingly enough, part of what convicted me were words about true and false revival (in reference to the Todd Bentley revival in Lakeland) that true revival involves humility and repentance and transformation while false revival involves a desire only for the experience and more and more of it. It may sound a little weird, but this got me thinking about my own motivations for going on mission trips or to the Passion conference. I've been approaching things wrong.

We experience God not so we can bottle Him up and keep Him to ourselves for that extra little boost in the mornings, like coffee. We're meant to share Him. Here in America, we try to personalize Him, keeping our "spirituality" between Him and us. But, if He's given us His scent, how can we keep that to ourselves. If he's given us a taste of something incredible, shouldn't we want to share it with everyone else.

I'm not sure if I was even there when this happened (I vaguely recall that I might have been), but I heard about it the other day. In Ukraine, one of our translators, Vitalik (we called him Tally) had gotten some of his favorite cookies but wanted all of us Americans to try them, so that he ended up giving them all away so that he didn't get any himself.

I feel I do the exact opposite with Jesus. I'm a glutton for experience. I keep the story of how God's been working in my life to myself, answering people who ask how it was with one words answers like "great" and "amazing". Yet, our stories are meant to be shared. If we can tell our friends about our favorite T.V. shows, movies, or restaurants about how great they are, why is it so hard to speak about the One who saved us, who set us free? I would think that's a little more important.

God's been making me more and more aware of my reticence to speak, if only because God's been stretching me out of my comfort zone. I had to give my testimony three different times in Ukraine, whereas in the past I've maybe only ever told it once. I worried about it at the time, but now I think it's kind of funny. He works in ways that we don't expect and maybe don't neccessarily even want Him to, but he works in the very places we need the most work.

He's also been convicting me that a lot of the time after a spiritual high, I try to run on it as long as possible on my own, and it doesn't end up lasting very long. If you fill up a gas tank you can only drive so far before you need more fuel. After we exhaust our supply, we're worn out from trying to go on our own.

Yet, He wants us to be plugged into Him constantly, letting Him fill us every moment, letting Him pour into us, maybe not in the large bursts we want but in a constant stream of the spirit which may come in small encouragements from sharing our stories with each other. The thing is though, as He pours into us we should be pouring out into others, sharing the amazing things He has shared with us, his amazing grace. It ought to overflow from our lives to others.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Success

What does it mean to be successful. The college world seems to tell us that success is doing well in your classes, while having fun, and graduating with a good job and "hot" girlfriend. Success becomes a matter of your accomplishments and your possessions.

I've been realizing more and more that this success is not worth aspiring to. Growing up a perfectionist, my life was defined by what I did. And it was never enough. If I got straight A's, I would still shrug and say that I could have done better. And I would hate myself if I messed up, even a little. My perfection seeking left me pretty much alone.

For the past four years or so, Jesus has been pulling me out of this, and I've been realizing more and more that nothing matters more, no worldy success or fame in life, than seeking God. Being truly successful takes on a new meaning. True success is success in Jesus.

And here is where the reversal is. Success in Jesus, is not a matter of doing or accomplishing, but of letting Him accomplish things through us. We do nothing, that's the beautiful truth. It is not up to us to say the right words or perform the right actions to win people over to the gospel. He only asks us to die to ourselves. He is willing to carry us the whole way, bearing all our weight, even still at the end of the journey when we cross the finish line, he'll say to us "well done, my good and faithful servant."


This is not to say that we can just sit around doing nothing. On the contrary, if we truly let Him take control, then we will find ourselves in other countries or ministring to the homeless or the broken and lost, wondering how someone as weak as us can spread the gospel. And the truth is, we can't without Jesus, He's the one doing all the work, whose power and spirit He has given to us. We just have to be available for God to use us.