Monthly Archives: May 2011

What is Sunday to you?

I have been reading the story of Hudson Taylor in the book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I highly recommend the book to anyone who desires to be encouraged in the spiritual walk with the Lord. With this post, I really just want to share a paragraph from the book. I pray that it truly gets you thinking about how we take Sunday’s for granted and how in other countries, people really are giving up whatever they have to worship on Sundays. I pray this challenges you.

“And Sunday had its teaching periods too. It cost the Christians not a little to close shop and store, sacrificing as far as their business affairs were concerned one day in seven. Yet Hudson Taylor and his colleagues knew that no strong, self-propagating church can be built up on any other basis. They determined therefore to do their utmost to make the sacrifice worthwhile, by filling the hours thus given to God with helpful and joyous occupation. Between the regular services, Christians, inquirers, patients, schoolchildren and servants were divided into classes and taught in a bright, personal way. This made Sunday a heavy day for the missionaries, for there were only four of them; but if it cost some toil and weariness, they were the better able to appreciate the sacrifices made by the converts. Some had to walk long distances and go without food the greater part of the day, and others had to face persecution and personal loss. But they were willing, most of them, for all it involved, if only they could have the Lord’s day for worship, for they were conscious of the difference it made all through the week.” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, p. 96)

After reading this part of the book, I was definitely challenged as to how I take Sundays for granted. I do not have to walk miles to get to church. I do not have to sacrifice hours on end in order to attend. I do not have to go without food either. Most of the people who attend church in this country take it for granted in that we are so willing to miss it. Parents even engage their children in activities where they are allowed to miss church. We sometimes even look for reasons to miss. Church has become just another thing to put on the schedule. But after reading this part of the book, I pray that God reawakens this desire in American Christians.

In conclusion, I love how the paragraph ends: “they were conscious of the difference it made all through the week.” Does church do that for you? Does the fellowship and encouragement received from fellow believers on Sunday make that big of a difference for you throughout the week?

 

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In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

This book was a pleasant surprise. I was not sure what to expect but I came in hopeful that God would use this book to speak to me. I have a couple friends who actually attend National Community Church and what they had told me about the church and Mark encouraged me to check out this book. I am glad that I did. Something my dad taught me when I was in college was when listening to speakers or reading books is that sometimes you just have to take the meat and spit out the bones. I am happy to say that this book did not come with many bones. In a Pit is not a theological book that will lose you in its pages or astound you with its depth; it is rather a book that will bring you into the story and cause you to want to keep reading. The back of the book has this to say:

“What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure…your greatest fear?”

This book attacks that very statement. You will come away from this book challenged to look at your greatest fears in a new light. This book makes a great point that God will many times use our biggest fear, or what we might see as a problem, to reveal more of Himself to us. As I was reading, I would look back at my life and see that I can relate to what this book. I am sure that if you were to take an honest look at your life you, too, would understand this to be the case.

Mark does not shy away from the fact that choosing to face our fears is never easy. He uses personal stories as well as stories of friends to show that most of the time, facing fears is one of the most difficult decisions in life but, in the end, it is the most rewarding thing that we can do. More often than not, we allow our fears to lead us but after reading this book, you will be challenged to turn and not only face your fears, but to chase them with the realization that God wants to use them in your life. The main character in the story, Benaiah, had no idea what was going to happen when he chased the lion into the pit, but it was a fear that he chose to overcome.  We can make that choice too. When God places fears or problems in our lives, we have the decision to allow them to overwhelm us and cause us to cower. Or we can realize that this could be an opportunity that God wants us to seize in order to bring glory to Him.

Are you going to be a lion chaser or are you going to continue to cower in the face of your fears? This book challenged me to become a chaser and not allow my fears to become bigger than the God I profess to love.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program


Husbands, love your wives…

This morning, I was given a pretty big glimpse of just how selfish I can be. I had heard it said that marriage is able to help people see just how selfish and prideful they can be. This is definitely true of me. I went into my marriage thinking that I would never be that way. That I would be able to love my wife like I loved myself and not even struggle with that. How wrong I was. Just ask my wife. Time and time again I have failed to love my wife with my actions. The saying “actions speak louder than words” definitely applies to my actions towards my wife. No matter how many times I would tell her I love her, my actions would be showing her that I am still first.

This morning my wife asked me to help her with some things and instead of just agreeing to help, I started discussing reasons why we did not need to do everything that she had even mentioned. What was I doing? Putting my own desires first and not thinking about her. Ephesians 5:25 was not practiced here on my part at all. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Simply put, I failed. I have done this many times before and because I am so hard headed, I still have not quite learned how to put others before myself. I am so grateful to have a wife whose spiritual gift is mercy or I would be in for trouble. Whenever I hear guys talk about marriage in a negative way or talk about how demanding their wife is or anything like that, it always seems to burn me up on the inside and maybe one of the biggest reasons I have kept quiet instead of saying something around guys like that is because maybe I haven’t begun practicing loving my wife as Christ loved the church. I do not lay my life and desires down in place of hers. What does that show with my actions? Too often I allow myself to feel like I am some great gift from God to my wife instead of realizing that I am nothing. I do not deserve anyone like Marcie. I allow myself to act like I am more important. This has quite a few disastrous results. First, it does not free her up to be who God wants her to be. Second, it keeps me from being the servant leader that I should be. Third, instead of drawing us closer, it pushes us apart which is never good for a relationship that is used in the Bible more than anything else to describe how God relates to us. So not only do I not honor my wife when I do this, I do not honor God.

How much did Christ love the church? He “gave Himself up for her.” He put her before Himself. Have I done that with my wife? Sometimes I do and let me say that it brings me the greatest joy. Just as Christ gave Himself up for the church and received the greatest joy out of it. I have the perfect example to follow and yet I struggle so often. Many times I have put reading a book, watching TV or even playing a video game before loving my wife. Is that what my wife signed up for? Is that what I told her in our vows when we stood in front of God as well as family and friends? No. I told her I would love her sacrificially. Have I done that? Sometimes. But what about other times? Definitely not. I know marriage is tough because two people with sinful natures come together. But as the man in this relationship, I need to take the lead. If I were to put myself in her place, what would I think? Another thing I fail to do enough is put myself in her shoes. I sometimes feel like I might have more pressure on myself than she does, but that is not so. She is feeling pressure in ways I do not even understand. I do not try to look through her eyes enough.

So, why am I writing this you may wonder? Well, I enjoy writing and putting my thoughts out there for others to see but more importantly I am writing this as a public apology to my wife. I am sorry baby for not loving you like Christ loved the church. I have not been the greatest at that and I know I have quite a bit to learn but please keep praying for me, that God will have His perfect work done in me and that I will remain sensitive to His Spirit.

I am also hoping that through it will come some accountability in that I have friends who will read this and this is a public announcement to tell you that you can ask me how I am doing in this area. So, if you have read this far, I pray that you might even feel challenged to look at your own life and relationship with God and see how you are doing in that area.

But once again, Marcie, thank you for being the person you are. I know I have failed many times to be the man that you married and I am sorry. I want to be better at that and I desire to the man of God in your life that you have seen glimpses of. Thank you for not being the type to give up on me. You are so much more than I deserve and I love you.