Friday, October 31, 2008

God is [insert a-word here]

Who is like You o'Lord among the gods, who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? Exodus 15:11

A well known youth communicator stated that " of the tragedies of modern culture is that we have lost the true meaning of the word awesome! If ever there were a word for God... that would be it. But awesome has become the word for anything better than good... everything is awesome!"

I've been trying to commit to using that word only in reference to God. What an incredibly awesome idea (dang, already blew it). Think about it. How hard would it be for us to limit the use of the word awesome to references to God? Just go ahead and try it for a few days. I mean, there is no law against using the a-word with reference to a great steak you just ate, but the simple misuse of this word on things that are not really awesome has caused us to insult God by saying that He is awesome (proper usage) too. It's like saying to Him, "God, You are pretty incredible... kinda like that awesome (improper usage) burrito I just had at Rosa's."

Now, obviously we can't stop using words when we strive to give description to God and give praise and adoration to His name. And aren't all words used for less valuable things than God? Yes, but couldn't we reserve just one descriptive word for Him alone? Now, I don't know if I can break myself of the overuse of the a-word. But it does make me think... How great is our God? And maybe not just how great is our God... but how great is your God? How great is God to you?

Why? Because if we fail to live with the stamp of His infinite greatness on our lives, then our worlds will shrink down to that which is only standing beside or around us. In time, we, and what is important to us will become the center of our universe.

When I was in school I often stared into space and thought about things bigger than life itself. I'd sit at the picnic table outside in Colorado that Summer I worked there and look up into the night sky and wonder where I fit into all of this mess and how small I was in comparison to everything in the universe. Today it makes me realize how big and awesome (proper usage) God really is. I mean this earth is an awesome (oops) playground. But it is only a tiny dot in the master plan of the universe.

The thing is... is that our God, this God that we say we know, love, and walk with each day, made it all with just one word. Psalm 33:6 says, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, He breathed and all the stars were born." It's encouraging to know that this great universe that boggles the minds of the smartest of scientists and theorists was created with a simple breath from my God!

And yet we have such little faith in Him. We pray such small prayers... dream such little dreams... cast our tiny visions... worry over the most minute issues... love such trivial things. May we awaken to in God's mercy to our infinite God. And may we be astounded that He who sustains it all knows us and loves us personally! Psalm 33 goes on to say, "The Lord looks from heaven... on the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works." David says in Psalm 8:3, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your hands... what is man that You think of Him?" Read on after that and you will find that this great and awesome (proper) God values you and longs for a relationship with you. Not only that, but He offers to bring His infinite power and might to bear on your life.
Is your school too much for God? Is your family too big a problem for Him? Is your workplace too difficult a spot for God? Is the situation there too hopeless for God to awaken the people to who He is? Is the darkness so dark that His overpowering light could never shine? It depends... how big and awesome (proper) is your God?


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Well that was kinda cool...

I guess it took me in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 hours to read and blog about what I had been reading... or at least my thoughts post-chapter(s). Anyway, not that anyone is interested, but to me its good to put it down in some form for me to look back and for reflection purposes and maybe see what God has taught me.

Maybe that was a waste of a day. Maybe it was the best thing I could have done with my time... Maybe God gave me a free day for me to read and relax and contemplate the things concerning Him.

Chapters 10 & 11- Meaningless--- A life that matters--- What about today?

Seriously… we were meant to live lives that matter. We were meant to live lives that have meaning. God didn’t create us as some sick science experiment where he throws us up in the air and hopes we land on our feet. He created us for His pleasure and He finds pleasure in us being satisfied in Him. How does that happen? We must first know Christ… it is not enough to simply put our trust in Him in a salvation experience… we must walk with Him through the salvation process. In being sanctified (becoming like Christ) we find something that nothing else gives. We find ourselves being filled daily by the things of God. We find things that brought temporary satisfaction falling to the wayside as things of eternity take on more importance.

God is not some abstract—far off guy- who is unconcerned with His creation. He longs for a real relationship with His creation. He longs for us to live lives that are pleased by Him. That ultimately gives Him pleasure and in that we are fulfilling our purpose as His children.

When all is said and done, I want to have lived a life that matters. It is doable. It is not some far-fetched thought of man… We can know Christ… and make Him known. We can live lives that matter. We can live lives that make a difference… not only for us… but others. We can live lives that bring a smile to the face of God. IT CAN BE DONE!!! WE CAN START TODAY… not waiting for tomorrow to begin to live for God’s pleasure. We can live today for Him... We can serve Him this day… We can find accomplishment in a life well lived…

I want to end up at the end of a long, dusty, winding road where sits my Savior who will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant… Your life mattered… it mattered to Me!!!” yeah that’s my Scripture rant…

Chapter 9- Meaningless- Time will tell

Things are always changing. That's one fact that will never change. It's right around the corner and it might be a change for the better or possibly a change for the worse. Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that,

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Notice that many of those "events" are beyond our control.

As a side note I love that Mark pointed out that in verse 5 when it says, "a time to embrace and a time to refrain," the reference is to sex. Therefore... if you are not married... don't have sex... but if you are... Get it on all you want!!!

The truth is God's infinite in everything... time included. He doesn't live by the minute or by the day. The word eternity itself means outside of time and that is where God dwells. And though He is not bound by time... He does control it.

Part of our role is to live each day as though it had meaning. To live each day in the present and not faltering in the past or skipping past it to the future. Make the most of every day... be it at work, at home, in worship, or at play.

scripture rant- "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it to the full." John 10:10

Chapter 8- Meaningless- The best you can do under the sun

It is rather amazing… God works through the vainness of man and ultimately leads them to perfection. He has a plan. He has a purpose. We are a part of that plan and He has a very specific purpose for each of us. It is rather exciting to see that while Solomon begins with finding the utter meaninglessness of so much that ultimately he brings us to a point of recognition. He brings us to a point where we need to recognize that God’s plan is for us to find joy, fulfillment in Him and the things He has provided for us… Things that are good and right... Things like enjoyment, friendships and wisdom. These things can be both meaningless and lacking in purpose… but when focused on God can bring contentment that is found nowhere else.

Chapters 6 & 7- Meaningless- I want more--- Not good enough

So many of these chapters are appearing to be backed up against another chapter that goes perfectly alongside it... That again is the case as we get to the point where we are seeing “I want more…” and “Not good enough!” There is nothing out there in this world outside of God that will be satisfactory or fulfilling. We will continue to dig deeper and seek to find the next big thing to bring us gratification and pleasure. Nothing will work. We will simply continue to be seekers of that which we will never find. The answer of course is that we are looking in the wrong place. We are like the woman at the well. We seek water that will make us never thirst again, but the answer is found only in living water. We will always thirst for more as long as we dig dry wells. We need to forsake wells and dig God.

Money is an empty well. It may produce for a time, but the ultimate reality is that it will never be enough. Money… in and of itself is not a problem. It is not evil as so many misquote the Bible. But it is a dry hole, an un-producing well… It is emptiness in regard to pleasure. Attempts at being a person of power are in vain… it is meaningless… We are living futile lives if we continue to seek that which never gives anything in return but anguish. Nothing is good enough…

scripture rant- “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11

Chapters 4 & 5- Meaningless- Solomon’s party palace--- Romance and sex

Today we live in a really sick world. Pornography runs rampant… teenagers and adults are all addicted. Girls and boys... it doesn’t matter. The party life is a way of life for high school students, university students and young adults. Some adults have yet to ever move past that part of their life. We live in a party-rich and sexual depraved world. Humanity is searching for something to make them happy. The sad find happiness in alcohol, drugs or sex… the shy find courage in it… the boring become fun… The sad thing is that the lifestyle only leads to regret. It only leads to feelings of guilt… especially if one is a Christian. The pleasure seekers realize it is only a temporary fix… until tomorrow… they will be without pleasure… empty… hurting… wondering…

I think girls are more starved for pleasure found in sex than guys are… It’s not the sex that they are after though… it’s what the sex provides. They get something different from sex than guys do. They get the relationship that the guys provide them with… they get the attention they want… they get to hear the words they long to hear… but they have to give up so much to get it. Is it really worth it? The short answer is NO. They, much like the addicted pornographer, feel guilty and hopeless because of where they have brought themselves… We can’t love both God and the seeking of pleasure.

scripture rant- “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives” 1 Timothy 5:6

Chapter 3- Meaningless- What Solomon had that you don’t

It’s a good question… What made Solomon so special? The answer… quite obviously is wisdom… the question then becomes… what made Him so wise?

Did he just have an above average IQ? IQ is not the same thing as having wisdom. Smart is not the same thing as wise. They are different in many ways. A lot of people actually are smarter than a 5th grader... but that doesn't make them wise. The question for me becomes how do I gain wisdom that is useful in all of life? What is the process for creating wisdom in my life? Will God give us wisdom? Will He allow us to become wiser?

scripture rant- “Ask me for whatever you want me to give you.” 1 Kings 3:5

Chapter 2- Meaningless- The Hard Way

I guess I am a poser… But I laughed at the story of Mark killing the kitten. Not that I am sadistic, but it takes a lot of guts to admit that you are a cat killer. I mean, I’m a self-confessed dog lover, but a lot of Mark's readers will send him countless emails concerning his “experiment.” The truth is that life is painful… Life is difficult… Always changing… Always pressing on… It’s one big experiment after the other. What do we need to do to continue to evolve as change comes? How do we learn as we live?
It’s amazing to think that God teaches us truth concerning Himself as we walk through life. As I read the story to my son Garrett and explained what Matlock was trying to say he asked if we were like the cats. “Does God throw us in the air to see if we land on our feet?” It’s a really good question for a four year old to process. I asked him to think about it and get back with me later. He went home and hasn’t gotten back with me yet… but I’m curious. I want my kids to think theologically about life. I want them to be able to wrestle with and answer questions for themselves… Of course I may have a son who now thinks we are being tossed through the air by a scientifically crazy God who is asking if in our times of difficulty… “Will these stupid humans land on their feet or fall with a thud on their back and just lie there and die…” Either that or he may be at home looking for a stray cat to toss into the air... oh to be young and able to get away with that again... (not that I ever did it... ok once... maybe a few more times... hey this isn't confessional).
Sometimes looking for meaning in all of life is quite futile… even Solomon thought so…

scripture rant- “Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2

Chapter 1: Meaningless-- Too much is never enough

Come on… why is it that every day there seems to be another thought or concept on over indulgence? Everybody is doing everything in excess… sex, drugs, alcohol, work, ministry, working out… it seems that everyone is addicted to too much. All we have to do is open a magazine, turn on the tv or check out to find the next celebrity seeking to find fulfillment is taking the fall. How long must society watch as person… after person… after person… attempts to find satisfaction in things that do not satisfy because they are temporal? It is becoming quite maddening. It’s a strong desire I have to grab people and turn their faces towards the downfall of Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton or whoever the next flavor of the month is and say… “LOOK!!! Live like that and it’s not going to get you anywhere.” Why do you want to emulate them?”

scripture rant- “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” Ecclesiastes 12:1

Possibly Stupid...

I am going to attempt something quite stupid... but hopefully meaningful. I typically like to read a book slowly... however I am going to attempt to read a book over the course of the next few hours and write a short blog post on each chapter. My goal is to finish it within the day. The book I have chosen is a book by Mark Matlock entitled: Living a Life That Matters...

A usual Wednesday has me pretty busy, however today, we are having Fields of Faith ( and I am not having to prepare for anything so I decided to venture out and try something different. If I get 2 or 3 chapters in and ecide to quit... so be it... but I'm gonna give it a shot... see ya in a few minutes with my first post...