God is Not Interested in Your Comfort

What is it with the modern American church’s obsession with thinking God wants us to be comfortable? What then do you say to the underground church in China? That God has abandoned them because they are persecuted? God is not interested in our comfort. He is interested in having His way in us. And rightfully so. And when our happiness conflicts with His holiness, our happiness will either cease for the moment or we will reject God. “God of all comfort?” Read the whole context:

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you [is] steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also [you will partake] of the consolation.”  2 Cor. 1:3-7

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Living for the Moment

instaEEver since this little human entered my life, and since his daddy just joined the Navy, I’ve been thinking: we were originally designed to live 800+ years, and in my imagination, those people in Genesis that lived 800+ years took things slowly, made things well, took their time. I’ve decided to take my time too. I may not have much of it, but I’m tired of my American culture causing me to wish away my life without living it; without living in it. I’m taking my time with my boys, trying to live in each moment, instead of wishing them away.

Just thought I’d share.

Love & Humility

“If an experience fails to engender humility, charity, mortification, holy simplicity, and silence, etc., of what value is it?…In this faith God supernaturally and secretly teaches the soul and, in a way unknown to it, raises it up in virtues and gifts…When together with the words and concepts the soul is loving God and simultaneously experiencing this love with humility and reverence, there is indication that the Holy Spirit is at work within it.” -St. John of the Cross

As I was driving today, these were my thoughts…

I have experienced deep pain, I have felt the sting of betrayal, the dagger of rejection; I have felt the offense of close friends, I have been torn by the gossip of others. I have seen the hypocrisy of leadership and not pointed my finger; I have stood in the face of being falsely accused.

I have been wrong. I am often wrong. I have hurt people close to me. I have spoken pointed words knowing exactly where they will hurt the most.

And in all of this, in every situation, in all human and spiritual relationships, I have seen that only two things are worth experiencing them all: love and humility. If I can come out of these situations, whether I am the injurer or the offender, with love and humility, it’s worth it.

I’m not trying to rewrite a letter from Paul, though skimming them last night is probably why this is on my mind. It’s sounds so simple: respond well, taking the low road and love through the hard things. Yet so many of us choose the easy way of offense, selfishness, and pride, so we stay in our immature state.

I know many people who are twice my age and still take the easy path. I want to set my face towards the low, unattractive door. I want to come out of every situation with a little more love and a little more humility.

Her Name is Duchess

There’s a woman who works at a local store where I go to run errands on occasion. Her name is Duchess and I have never seen someone in such a monotonous job with so much joy. I don’t think Duchess is a Christian, though with the way her eyes sparkle when she looks into mine, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Duchess is convicting to me every time I see her because no matter how busy the store is or a customer has a problem, she keeps her cheerful demeanor and takes everything in stride. I don’t know if I have any Christian friends working a secular job who have so much genuine joy while they work. And what’s more, I know Duchess well enough to have seen that she is consistently like this — even when she’s going through a tough time.

Paul admonished the Colossians to do everything in word and deed in the name of the Lord. How can I get offended in the name of the Lord? I can’t! How differently would I be viewed by the world if I really lived these words:

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:17,23-24

Lately, I have been actively pursuing a gracious heart. It’s something that I lack and I desire to show others that God is a gracious God who looks past their weakness. I am realizing more and more how much I need to focus on myself and my problems instead of others’. It’s so easy to take the above verses and say, “So and so should read this, they are so ______.” Instead, I want to see the areas where I am not showing Christ and change them.

I want to live out character and joy instead of just being selfish when I don’t feel like responding well; I want to be like Duchess.

The Worry Behind Your Eyes

Ugly wall of worry

To some extent, we all put up a wall in our minds and hide a thought process behind it. Hopefully you don’t have many of these walls keeping your thoughts from those around you, but don’t lie — you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t want to get into the issues of shame and fear of man, though they’re common walls. What I’ve been meditating on is a big, ugly wall so many of us are hiding behind: worrying about money.

I’ve heard a lot of stories lately about how financial big wigs and missionaries alike are getting hit with the effects of the economy. Two IMs at my HOP had their phones shut off recently. It’s that bad.

So last night I was asking the Lord about His promise in Malachi:

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'”
Malachi 3:10

I started to cry as I told the Lord I hadn’t seen the fulfillment of that promise (I have seen blessing, but not to the point of “not enough room to receive it”). He actually said to bachan (test) Him in His faithfulness.

So maybe this is an encouragement to all of you that God promised He would provide, maybe it’s a shout out to Him that I want to see it in my own life — or recognize it if I just haven’t noticed — I don’t really know. All I know is that God keeps His promises and this is no exception. It’s just hard to see sometimes.

The Friday Diversion – Week VII

I am a Mac user. I have been for about 4 years and I love it. In turn, I love Apple’s “Get a Mac” ad campaign. Here’s my favorite one:

John Hodgman, the “PC Guy,” is quite funny in real life. Listen to him talk about his sudden fame on This American Life (click on “Full Episode.” His segment starts at 8:00 minutes).

Série de Prière: Communion

“God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

What is it?

I’m not here to talk about the Eucharist, though that’s a good form of communion too. The word “communion” simply means sharing something in intimate fellowship/friendship. The kind of communion I am talking about is the internal relationship we have with the Holy Spirit.

Why do it? Well firstly, it is repeated over and over that Jesus communed with the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 10:21, John 1:33, etc.). I also find it interesting how much Jesus stressed abiding with the Spirit right before He went to the cross (read John 14-16).

In my own life, I find that the more I focus on communing with the Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis, the less I sin: I make better decisions because I follow His leading and I am generally more joyful as I remember God is walking with me throughout all my circumstances.

I have posted this quote before, but I believe it sums up communing with the Holy Spirit better than I ever could:

“There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to the divine breathings.” – Thomas Kelly

Practical Steps

Jesus said the Father would give the Holy Spirit to His children if we ask (Luke 11:13). I don’t have bullet-points for this type of prayer, just suggestions.

Try to develop an awareness of the Spirit within you all the time. You may have been consumed with the natural all day and then all of the sudden remember about Him — that’s great! Talk to Him internally when that happens. If you’re stressed out, thank Him for who He is (e.g. “Thank you Holy Spirit for your peace”).

As I’ve progressed in this, I find that I can have a normal conversation with someone and be consciously adoring the Lord and as I have to make small decisions, I ask Him what I should do. Sometimes He gives me specific direction, other times I know that that it is my choice.

Recommended Reading

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is a small but insightful book on communing with the Lord throughout the day

Clowning in Rome by Henri Nouwen is an easy read on unceasing prayer, among other subjects

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.