Well it has been a couple weeks since my last post, so I just thought a little update wouldn’t hurt. I have been busy. “Doing What???” I have been busy doing a whole lot of mundane, non-exciting schoolwork and all that comes with that. My brother drove in from Houston on Saturday, so I guess that is interesting. I have got an interview to be an RA (Resident Assistant) in the dorm coming up next Wednesday. My Spring Break trip to Dallas is in three weeks so I’m starting to get really excited about that. The team had a meeting tonight, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us there. Fundraising for my summer mission trip to Ukraine has really been at the front of my mind. I am supposed to have $1675 in by March 1st and currently I am at $375, so you can probably understand my concern. I am trying not to worry about it because I know that God is in control. Knowing that is helping me not to get overwhelmed and is keeping me out of “freak out mode.” With so many things going on, it is amazing when I just sit back and realize how richly God has blessed me. I have got great friends, family, and a wonderful church. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me in the very near future!
Today has been an incredible day. Some different things happened, but overall I just felt the inescapable glory of God today in so many ways. I was reading through Philippians 4 today when I came across the often quoted verse, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (4:13 NIV). I had heard this verse so many times before, but I had never read it in the same way that I have today. For once I actually read what was said before that statement. Reading it in context put it in a completely different light. Verse 12-13: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” So often verse 13 is used when all hope is lost or when we have some huge dream that we are trying to accomplish, but I have never heard it used in a sermon about being content. Tim Tebow used to wear that verse on his eye black, and it is read by Christian high school sports teams before games, but have we missed what Paul was saying? Is it possible that the “secret of being content in any and every situation” is knowing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us? I may be completely off, but it seems to me that Philippians 4:13, the verse about doing incredible things, is about being ok with what we have in every situation. That’s just some food for thought and an example of the advantages of reading scripture in context instead of just pulling verses out one by one. Blessings.
In my Intro to Ministry class yesterday one of my professors, Dean, taught about something that I had never realized existed. He taught about prayers of lament. It is the most common genre of the psalms and I can’t remember ever praying a prayer of lament. Basically this type of prayer is just telling God how you’re not happy with the situation you’re in. I always thought that we weren’t supposed to complain to God, but it turns out that it’s ok. The psalms are filled with these prayers of frustration and sadness. Psalm 13 is the main example Dean used in class. Basically David is asking God how much longer he’s going to have to deal with all of this crap in his life. At the end of the psalm he does say that he still puts his trust in God, but he complains to God quite a bit. I had read this psalm before, but had never thought about praying a prayer like that to God. I’ll be honest, I’ve been pretty hacked off at God before asking why this happened or why that happened, but I’ve never thought about praying to God like that. I’m going to give it a whirl because now I’m pretty sure that it’s ok to talk to God about the crap that is happening and how you don’t like it. I wouldn’t say that cursing God is ok, but definitely admitting that you don’t understand what’s going on is healthy. As long as your hope, trust, and joy are in Him, it’s all good. So I’ll give it a shot. Just trying to keep living and learning.
I’ve known for a while now that I’m not perfect. It took some time to realize it, and a little longer to come to grips with it. I was bound to admit it sometime because there was just to much overwhelming evidence of that fact to ignore it. A lot of people for my entire life have told me, “God’s got an incredible plan for you,” and, “I can’t wait to see what God does in your life.” I took this the wrong way. Though I never would have admitted it, I felt that I had more potential than everybody else. This was such a flawed view. Yes, God does have a plan for me, and I can’t wait to see what God does in my life either, but I’m a major screw-up. For instance, just an hour ago I was bringing in one of those 24 packs of bottled water to the dorm, and I dropped the whole package from above my head. Two girls driving by saw the debacle and were literally pointing and laughing at me. In fact, pretty much any situation involving one or more attractive girls leads to complete, utter awkwardness and embarrassment. And I mess up in my spiritual life pretty frequently as well. It is not something that I am incredibly proud of, but my point is that God can use me to help others even with all of my problems. That is the beauty of the community known as the church. I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things that I don’t like about church. It tends to be hypocritical and self-serving at times, and then there are my little reasons like having to get up on Sunday morning. I don’t go to church for the preacher, I don’t go to church for the worship time, and I don’t go to church for the free coffee; I go to church for the people. Everyone there has crap in their lives, and that’s ok. What amazes me is the great things that happen when the church really makes itself open to God. Donald Miller had a great post on his blog (www.storylineblog.com) this past week about the church entitled, “How and Why I Stay in the Dysfunctional Family of God.” Go check it out if you’ve got some time on your hands. Basically Miller lays out his reasoning for still being a part of the church. He has got some really good points, and I would highly recommend reading his blog regularly. The church is not only an instrument that God can do incredible things through, too often we forget that we are Christ’s bride. No relationship is perfect, and our relationship with Him certainly isn’t, but that doesn’t mean it can’t improve. God is working and will do great things if we’re open to Him. In the Bible God used a st-st-stutterer, an adulterer, a murderer, a terrorist, and even a prostitute to do His will. Shoot, God even spoke through Balaam’s…um…donkey. So, in conclusion, let’s keep our eyes open to what God has to do in the world around us.