Monday, December 31, 2012

A Greater Commitment

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." -James 1:21

Part of what I pay for my apartment rent includes a basic cable package.  I don’t have a choice; I have to pay for cable.  But I do have a choice whether I want to turn the TV on or not.  Over the past couple of months I have enjoyed having ESPN (Sports) and a few channels that play some movies.  However, watching TV also reminds me how much “moral filth” exists in our world today.  I have watched some things that I would normally not watch.  Now I am challenged to commit my life to greater purity in what I choose to set before me. 

The Scripture says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  (James 1:19-20)  Anger is something I have struggled with in my life as well. 

I can get frustrated with things in my life that are not working as I would like them to.  Or, I get down on myself for not being as perfect as I expect myself to be.  Last week I got angry while ironing my clothes.  I got angry over a minor issue with the cord, I think.  It wasn’t worth getting upset about.  But it set me off, and I got upset and let out a swear word.  I know this minor issue wasn’t really what I was upset about.  I was upset about something much more significant, but I let something simple make me mad.  Nonetheless, I do not always handle my anger properly. 

We all have things in our lives where we can press on to a greater level of holiness and purity.  Yes, we are saved by grace, and we grow in grace, but we should still accept the challenge to commit ourselves to being holy as He is holy (see I Peter 1:13-16). 

As we approach Christ’s return I want to be more like Jesus every day.  I know I often fail in this regard.  Very often.  I know there are things in my life that are not pleasing to the Lord.  There are areas of my heart where I struggle.  Nevertheless, I don’t want to live my life half-hearted for the Lord.  When all is said and done, I want to have given my all to Him. 

Whatever I need to lay down, I want to lay down.  If there are things in my life I need to turn away from, I want to turn away from them.  If there are things I need to stop watching, or stop saying, or stop doing, I want to stop.  Yet, most importantly, I believe God is pleased with a heart that loves Him and longs to please Him, even if we often stumble outwardly. 

Perhaps this coming year we can all take up the challenge of walking closer with the Lord and committing ourselves to greater purity.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Friend for All Seasons

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

This past Saturday I was in Michigan with my best friend Joel.  I drove from my parent’s house to his, about a 2 hour drive.  A couple of months ago we had agreed to not drink any pop (or, soda) until we had a Mountain Dew together during our visit.  We stopped at a gas station, Joel put gas in the van, and then he purchased two 20-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew.  We enjoyed our Dew together as we drove to the Black River to do some winter hiking. 

The picture below is us together this past Saturday.  We had hiked to Rainbow Falls on the Black River.  As we walked we talked – about medical insurance, for one.  The Detroit Tigers were another topic of conversation. 

As we drove back down the road we tried to remember how long we’ve been friends.  We met in high school, in our church’s youth group.  I was probably 14 years old.  We think that by this time next year we will have been friends for 20 years.  Whether that number is precise or not, nevertheless, we’ve been friends for well more than half my life. 

Our friendship has stood the test of time.  Even though I’ve been in Texas for over 12 years now, and we’ve lived away from each other for longer than that, I still feel incredibly close to Joel and at ease when we are together.  I know he will always be there for me, no matter what happens.  I feel tremendously blessed to have a friend like him in my life.   

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (NKJV)  I’ve always thought of the “friend” in this verse as being Jesus.  Jesus is a friend who sticks close than a brother.  He has been a friend in my life who has never given up on me.  He has always been faithful.  Even when I have fallen down, when I have failed, He overlooks my faults and weaknesses and gives me the strength to carry on. 

I am thankful for other friends too, friends like Joel, who have stuck with me during the seasons of my life.  I am thankful for the friends in my life… men like Dan, Carey, Josh, Mike, etc… who are faithful and true friends.  And I am thankful for Jesus, the friend who loves at all times.

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...