Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making Choices . . .

I've been changing for several months. Two of the hardest changes so far have been to stop watching a TV series called Firefly, and another called Sherlock. Firefly was my favorite series, Sherlock not far from it.

Another difficult thing for me to lose was P.O.D.'s music. One of my favorite bands, i had nearly their entire discography (seven of their eight studio albums). In their latest album, titled "Murdered Love" (the title track being about Jesus being Love and having been crucified), they threw out a censored obscenity in a bonus track. I gave away every one of their albums that i owned.

I waited for weeks for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn to come out on DVD. It did. I bought it. I watched a few minutes of the first episode. I turned it off because of one anatomical reference. I was furious, and moreso at myself than the writers. I owned and watched other things with the same reference before (Sherlock, for instance). I wanted so badly to watch that series . . . And i can't.

I've been asking myself why i've gotten so convicted about things i didn't really care about before. I'd fast-forward through a scene in a movie, mute it for a moment, skip a song (such as in Creed's first album).
But i'm not comfortable doing that anymore. I'm not comfortable even having these things in my possession anymore. It's become somewhat exhausting--sometimes i just want to sit and watch an episode of Firefly.
As i told a friend earlier this evening in regards to entertainment and my focus, "I've given up so many things i love . . ."
Then the reason for all of this asphyxiating change in my standards became rather clear . . . It's things i love that i'm feeling convicted about.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
1 John 2:15

I honestly believe this is God telling me to decide between Him and the things in this world. It's not fun, not at all. If it comes to it, however, i will always choose God over anything this world has to offer.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A little bit about Faith . . .

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.
And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”
Matthew 9:18-33

This is impressive to me. Jesus performed miracles one after another. Walking from one end of the street to the other, He healed several people.
I am left in awe at this . . . There's so much to be said about so many things in just these few passages.
"... your faith has made you well." It wasn't her faith in His garment, but the fact that it was His garment. The fact that the Son of God had touched something, power must be flowing through it--it's faith in Christ that heals us, not faith in an object. Not by her faith in His cloak, but faith in His power. People misplace faith so much, thinking that if we touch the preacher's hand, or we touch a symbol of a cross, or we hold onto a certain object while we pray, God will be more likely to answer our prayers . . . It all comes down to faith in God, not faith in the objects we touch while praying. Did the cross save you, or did Jesus? Crosses are fine and dandy, but i've seen many with faith in their crucifix (even protestants), and that unsettles me. It's faith in Christ.

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (...) “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Again, it was their faith in Him. He didn't say "Do you believe this can happen?", He asked "Do you believe that I am able to do this?". I. He said "Do you believe that I am able ...?" Faith totally in Him is what healed them.

I love that . . .

And this may have been throughout the course of more than one day, but it strikes me as being one trip through the city, as the woman with the discharge met Him on His way to the ruler's house, and as He passed from there, blind men followed, and as He was going away, a possessed mute was brought to Him. How would one keep track of all that He'd done over the course of years if this all happened in a single outing?
No wonder John wrote "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."
(John 21:25)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I am Crucified

(most of my quotations are from the ESV translation)

"We know that our old self as crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin."
Romans 6:6

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
Galatians 5:24

"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Galatians 6:14

So, Galatians pretty much covers this topic; we must 'die' to the world.
I've heard that a lot in my life, but it never really stuck out to me until i found myself saying "How i was" and "How i used to be." When i said that, what flashed through my mind was a paraphrase of Romans 6:6; the old man has died, and a new one has risen.
But what happens? So, you might have a different lifestyle after you get saved. But what truly happens is not just a change in lifestyle. It's a change of life.
To die, everything that we are is severed. It ceases to be, and we're left an empty shell--the spirit has flown.

To die to the world means to leave all the ways you lived behind. Not just the big sins like thievery and violence, but all sins. It's not the 'big' sins that keep people out of Heaven, it's the little ones, because sin is sin. A murderer and a person who steals a pack of gum might be seen different in humanity's eyes, and rightly so. But the spiritual effects are equal--utterly damning.
Everything about us has died; our way of thinking, our way of talking, our way of looking at people and things, our desires, our mannerisms. Everything about us dies and becomes no more; it is crucified and buried as Christ was.
From there, we are given a new life; we are born again. A new person, a new heart, a renewed mind, a new spirit, new desires, new hopes, new dreams, new life. Everything that was is dead and gone. We have a new identification (truly so, as God has a name for us each; my name is not necessarily Josh Isaacs to God. No, He has a name for me that i don't know yet).

And as we die to the world because we are crucified with Christ, so also does the world and its ways die to us.

"How i was" might not be the correct way of putting it . . . Rather, "the person that used to inhabit this body," might be slightly more accurate.