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Journaling 5/25/2013

There is a point in war when you face defeat at the hands of your enemy. Casualty hits and you are shocked at your vulnerability – or rather the presence of your vulnerability all along.

What’s more shocking is when you find yourself having thoughts of joining the enemy even though their promises are lies they sound appealing when things are going hard and they promise an escape. In reality, they lead you to a trap to not only destroy you, but your entire unit and to try to overtake as many as they can.

The chilling realization of war has been on my mind a lot lately. The fog of war definitely sets in later in the week than earlier. The ground war is difficult. I know the enemy’s tactics, but he is so sly and discreet. He uses my flesh and weaknesses against me as well as waiting for the opportunity to strike.

Keeping vigilant is only purposeful if you are able to counter-attack. What I am finding is that I have no power to do so. However, it is Jesus power that overcomes. It is Jesus power to sift out the flesh that works with the enemy from within. It is Jesus who disarms the enemy around me. It is Jesus who has already won the war and is putting out the insurgency as they foolishly try to take men down in His side. Casualties will come. Pain and suffering will come. This is war. My job is to stay close to Jesus as He has kept me and sealed me. My job is to be aware when the enemy has planted IED’s in my mind and heart disguised as sin that will not only destroy me, but also those around me. My job is to seek and destroy any sign of opposition within myself that hails loyalty to the enemy against my king Jesus.

This war has been nothing like I have ever seen. Ephesians 6, Romans 7 & 8, and many other parts of scripture have been so helpful with fighting.

Jesus has been so good and faithful to me and others in this battle. He leads the way. He empowers us. He knows us and he is with us in his battle. He points out to me when I start to deviate and where I should navigate. He reminds me to see him face to face, not just to fight with him, but to know him and abide in him and then to respond in loyalty and battle.

I’ve never seen Jesus in this way before – as a powerful King, warrior, and friend. Never have I seen such humble power and extravagance apart from him. I ask that he would help me kill my flesh daily so I may find true life in him.

Jesus, war is hard, but you remain close! You heal me when I get shot. You restore me when I have been unfaithful and have been traitorous. You take me back from enemy territory to remind me I’m on your side now and then you bring me back to the battlefield and fight with you as you defeat Satan and his crew. Jesus keep me close. Help me to put on the full Ephesians 6 armor. Teach me how to fight. Teach me how to rely on your power. Teach me how to stay close to you in war. Teach me how to follow when death is all around and you are the only source of life. Teach us as a people how to fight together and not with each other. Our enemy is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Our enemy is stronger than we people are. Jesus you are stronger than the enemy. Lead us into the sound of battle like marines. Help us not to fear death to self for in you we find life. The enemy has no more tactics or power over us. You are victorious and he is defeated. Help us to remember that.

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Journaling 5/15/2013

I’m catching a breadth admist the fighting. It is a time for rest. 

I’ve never had a week quite like this. I’ve never had a week in which the reality of God, the reality of the church, the reality of the world, and the reality of my life and those around me become so raw and real. 

A few things I must jot down before I forget:

  • The reality of war. I’m fighting, God is leading, and equipping by His command, at his word, by His Spirit. The battle is for the souls of people for Jesus’ glory and honor. Abiding in Him and sticking close is integral and cannot be compromised. 
  • A desire to see the mission advanced. For people to meet Jesus and be changed by Him to grow, lead, and find others and point them to Jesus. Specifically, in a local context among this huge immigrant community. They comprise the bulk of the area and I would like to see God move among his people here. I’d love to see call people to salvation and see them experience life in Christ as they see, savor, and love God as he pours out his love to them. I loved going to the random boba place with Emily to find tons of young people there despite the hugely immigrant city. For some reason, young people love to chill in our area because it’s cheap and it has good food. Maybe this is a great opportunity to get to know people and bring Jesus to them!
  • Back to the personals – pharm tech or career advancement must proceed. I think I’ve been lagging and lazy and I need to continually repent and grow here. I hope to find much grace as God leads me through it. 

Ok – I’m tired. Guess I won’t elaborate on everything, but I guess things have been pretty great recently. I’ve been given the opportunity to begin apprenticing. I’ve been feeling the conviction to love and serve my family more. I’ve been wanting to study harder and work well to steward well and image God and to incarnate where I’m at. All of this is possible because Jesus has forgiven me of all my sin, empowers me to live by His power, gives me His mission, and leads me forward each day with the mission at hand. I don’t think any day can be boring anymore when I realize this. 

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Journaling 5/12/2013

God has been showing me a lot this week. I think I’ve failed in many areas this week and here are a few to be brutally honest:

  • Relational faithfulness – both to God and others
  • Faithfulness in work
  • Lack of ambition and desire replaced by complacency, sloth, and excuses

It’s painful to see these areas and admit that these are areas that are in need of repentance. The enemy uses it very well to pound on me as the week goes on, as the fatigue piles up, and as the responsibilities seem and feel endless and God feels like a distant memory once upon a Sunday.

However, by God’s grace, he’s helping me to see and expose some lies behind those thoughts and feelings.

  1. We are at war. The enemy and my flesh will find every opportunity to bring me to death, brokenness, and destruction by helping me forget Jesus: who he is, what he has done for me, what is continually doing, and what he will accomplish in me, through me, and in spite of me. Jesus is the commander in chief and I must follow suit. I must not lose track of his leading and guidance in the battle otherwise I will be caught in crossfire, off mission, and rendered ineffective at best and killed at worst.
  2. Because of the reality of war, this has massive implications for things I thought were once normal and routine. This means work is a means of fighting. Rest is a means of fighting. Love is a means of fighting. Repentance is a means of fighting. Almost every aspect of my life that I can think of requires me to fight. The great news is that Jesus has already won the war. Claiming the victory via insurgency will be difficult, but I believe it will be accomplished in due time.
  3. Also, seeing the nature of this spiritual war not only involves me, but my family. I cannot be passive and omit my responsibilities and what God calls me to do in relation to others. If I do not act upon things that God has called me to do, I render those I love and those that are in my life susceptible to attack and death. I am a rescued man sent by Jesus to rescue others. I must see that as the drumbeat of relational intentionality.

Despite all these heavy things I like to bring upon myself to cut out sin, ultimately the Holy Spirit is the one actually doing this. He’s been changing my heart and leading me to repentance in the practical day to day. I now want to work and carry a load much more than before even though it will be tiring and exhausting, I know it will be to the glory of God and the joy of all peoples including myself. And despite how hard at work I will endure, God is showing me that he will supply the grace that is sufficient for me to press forward. I believe that.

I’m also being reminded that God is way bigger than me. Opportunities, dreams, and ideas that I thought were not available or open to me are no more. I seeing that the God who created the universe can definitely create opportunities for me to develop into the man that he wants me to become. I’m extremely grateful and humbled by that because I’m used to earning my opportunities, and yet I’m seeing I’m completely at the mercy of God’s providence and planning no matter how hard I want something to happen. God always ends up having his way and it is the best for me whether or not I see it now. I’m learning to trust in those small things and I think that will set a theme for decades and generations to come. I hope to grow in this and pass it on when I am old.

I feel like I’m in boot camp and already seeing the war. Training is hard, but fighting will be nothing like I’ve ever seen in my life.

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Tired

Going through the daily grind is tough because I often just see the top portion of work instead of the latter. As one of those workers pulling weight, my responsibility and load does not entirely change. I think remembering who my real boss is will help a lot in navigating through work.

I’m also finding that my focus blurs when I don’t get adequate sleep, nutrition, and time in with Jesus in the word and prayer. Opening myself to him and what he has to say about everything.

Today (5/8/2013) was just so mundane. Work felt routine and dry. There was no life throughout the day if I were to be completely honest. I got things done, but there was no joy, no focus, no heart. Just work. It was tiring and exhausting, yet I didn’t really do what I wanted to do nor did I enjoy it.

I came back home pretty discouraged. Just tired from the day wanting to check out, sleep, eat, or just be foolish with my time. After dinner, I surfed the net for a bit, but I figured maybe it was a good time to shut it off, read what I feel Jesus wants me to read, and rest. I started reading Romans because I felt like there were sins I knew in my mind I was drifting towards such as lust, sloth, fear of man, fear of failure, identity in performance, etc. and I remembered that Romans is brutally clear about the hopelessness of man apart from Jesus. I wanted to see what Jesus would have to say about that and what to do about it. I’m so grateful that Romans is so amazingly hopeful and helpful despite it’s brutal honesty about the evilness of my heart, nature, and soul apart from Christ. Romans 6 is a refreshing reminder of my identity in Christ – dead to sin and alive to him! I can put off the old man though my flesh will try to retaliate because the battle is won by Jesus and sin no longer has power or dominion over me as a slave master. It no longer owns me, but like P. Nick said, we are rescued men. Living in the reality of that is new and unfamiliar, but life giving.

Journal, Rant, Reflection, Working on Life

Tired, Slavery

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Journaling 5/5/13

After briefly sharing with a good friend of mine about all amazing things that God is doing in this season of life, he encouraged me to journal it as a means of processing (& maybe as a means of proclaiming?).

Anyway, so I’ll share something at least once a week on what God has been showing me, where I was, what happened, what I felt, and summarize what I learned through the experience(s).

So let’s begin.

  • TGIM, T, W, Th, and F! Work as a means of worship to Jesus. Same God, different context and different applications. This has huge implications for how I interact with the boss, my coworkers, developing and collaborating with others, and just personal accountability and discipline knowing that Jesus is who I work for. The Boss of the bosses. 
  • Identity in Jesus – so crucial to working out the gritty everyday lies and attacks the enemy and flesh throw at my mind, heart, and soul. Gotta get to know the word better and fight more aggressively & be sure to rely on the Spirit to fight and not just run into battle.
  • Repentance as a means to worship and life in Christ. It sucks to die to self, but it’s better to live in Christ and put sin to death. I have weaknesses and sins that can become very destructive to myself and others if not addressed and killed soon.
  • Looking forward to apprenticing. Have a general idea of what it will look like, but still not entirely sure on details. I just know Jesus will be at the center and that’s enough for me.

In terms of a specific experience or realization, I think what I’m seeing is that the partial truths that the world appreciates in some sense have been all plagiarized from God haha. I noticed that my parents always gravitate toward stories you hear in the news about rich people who do not flash their wealth. My folks respect and appreciate that humility of someone in a position of authority, prestige, and glory being down to earth just like them. But isn’t that just a shadow of who Jesus is? Jesus was in the highest position of glory, prestige, honor, and power and yet he chose to live as a man like us to not only show us his character of humility, but to save us from our sins and redeem and restore us back to God the Father.

Also, another thing that has been on my heart has just been a general sense of heartache that I’ve been feeling for years now. In the churches that I have been a part of and seen, the gospel oftentimes is not at the center as it should. I think Jesus makes cameo appearances when we get serious, but more often than not, I’m seeing that churches gravitate toward counseling, self-help, cultural exclusivity, and denominational distinctives instead of throwing away all of their agendas and asking Jesus what He would like to do with his church. It is his church after all isn’t it? It’s hard to accept the fact that family in Christ are living busy, distracted, defeated, and confused lives because they refuse to realize that Jesus is all they really need not only on Sunday, but everyday in their lives as a people. In so doing, I believe the enemy has a huge stronghold because he is using that to distract us from Jesus, keeping us busy and not abiding in Jesus, and undermining Jesus’ mission to our perishing family and neighbors. Honestly, that’s heartbreaking for me because I see no shortage of churches in my region and yet I do not see much lasting, sustainable fruit among God’s people. It deeply concerns me and I would like to be involved.

On the flip side, I must admit that I have not stewarded well the things God has placed in front of me. Though it is good to want to love, serve, and lead people to Christ, I think I severely lack in spiritual and practical maturity. I think this season of life should be really be focused on the basics that I will build on for the rest of my life – which is on Jesus himself. It’s simple enough to remember, but it will be widespread and somewhat constantly changing in application. No one week will look the same, but I’m praying and anticipating progress as the weeks, months, and years progress from this point onward. I’ve been given some pretty straightforward and helpful instruction on what it means to be a man that walks with God, loves his family, works his job, and serve the family of God. I think these general themes will run the course of my life and whatever that looks like will remain to be seen. In the meantime, I must make a general plan ‘in pencil’ and be flexible to change as the Spirit leads.

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