- Created on Thursday, 11 October 2012 17:21
- Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 17:24
- Written by Christopher High
- Hits: 143
Enemies are fun to hate. Especially in movies and television shows.
Recently, I watched the new take on Sherlock Holmes. It is an exciting series full of new takes on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Holmes' arch-nemesis is the evil Moriarty. Although Moriarty was Dr. James Moriarty in the original stories, we are now greeted with a Jim Moriarty at the center of elaborate web of criminal syndication. No one likes the man. He is repulsive. He stands for chaos and disorder, arrogance, and just pure selfishness. This is the type of villain it is fun to hate, and it gets easier as the series progresses.
And yet, focusing on this type of hate can have devastating consequences to our faith. Our faith should be about experiencing God. That experience should overflow into the rest of our lives. If we are focused on things like who has wronged us, we will not be able to serve others.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:44 "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (HCSB). This is no statement about merely feeling something toward someone. Jesus wants us to take action in our love, and he wants us to trust God to be with our enemies.
How do we even do this in our situation today? Is it possible to love our enemies?
I believe the answer is yes, but it is more difficult than we often pretend.
So, if we are to be more like Jesus, how do we start loving our enemies.
First, take a look at your heart. Who are the people you can't stand to be around or carry emotional baggage about?
Second, think about how you have treated that person. Have you ignored them? Reciprocated in harsh words or actions?
Third, stop and remember what it means for God to love you. We all deserve eternal punishment. God would not have failed to be a loving God if he had not sent Jesus to die for our sins. However, we know how perfectly loving God is specifically because he did send Jesus (cf. Matthew 5:48). This is agape, unconditional love, God loved us because that is who he is.
Fourth, pray that God would give you that kind of unconditional, action-oriented love for your enemies. Think of one person you see regularly who has wronged you in some way. Pray about a specific way you could show love to that person this week.
I am not asking you to become a victim, but I am asking you to be a servant. There is an important difference. If we are victims, we are being used by another person in some way. If we are servants, we give of ourselves.
It may be good to read Matthew 5-7 this week as you start to think about what it means to let our love overflow. We have been gifted with the Holy Spirit so that we can become more like Jesus. This section of scripture gives us some direction on how we should look.
- Created on Monday, 08 October 2012 17:53
- Last Updated on Monday, 08 October 2012 18:01
- Written by Christopher High
- Hits: 107
Have you ever been to a desert? We have a couple here in the U.S. If you have ever experienced New Mexico, Arizona, or south-eastern California in the middle of summer, then you have been in the desert. Try it without air-conditioning and you feel as if you are stranded on an alien planet. Water never sounds so good as when you are in a desert.
I have been out in the desert working when I would drink water all day and not even sweat. It is an odd sensation. You drink and drink without ever feeling as if your thirst is quenched. Sometimes life feels the same way.
We have so many messages in our lives every day. Television, cell phones, portable devices, laptops, advertising, and all sorts of other things crowd into our lives clamoring for our attention. This does not even count all the things we have to do for family, school, and other obligations. Some of these things are good. Some of these things are neutral. Some of these things are clearly harmful to our souls. In any case, we end up feeling worn down, exasperated, and lifeless. It is as if we are in a spiritual desert.
Nothing in this world can replenish and nourish our souls. Entertainment definitely can't. Work, whether for financial or academic reasons, can't. Even family and friends eventually fail us. We need something more to be who God intended us to be.
In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman. This woman meets Jesus at the well as she fills up her water. There is a lot we could say about this woman, but suffice it to say she was very aware of her need for spiritual nourishment. She knew nothing in this world could refresh her soul.
We must be like this woman and admit to ourselves we are spiritually in need of living water. Jesus offers this water in John 4:14 "whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” (HCSB).
When Jesus is our source of encouragement, meaning, and purpose our lives change. We no longer rely on our strength to live. In fact, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we now have the Holy Spirit overflowing out of us like a well of life.
If you are not a disciple of Jesus, ask yourself if you want to experience this living water Jesus was talking about. The woman was ready? Are you?
If you claim to be a disciple of Jesus, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I feel as if I am in a desert right now or as if the Holy Spirit is flowing out of me?
2. How often have I been in God's word lately? If I have not been in God's word, how do I expect to be ready when the Holy Spirit wants to use me?
3. What is one way I can let the Spirit of God flow through me this week with my (a) family, (b) friends, and (c) peers.
If you are unsure what to read in Scripture, try reading John chapters 3 and 4 a couple of times.
- Created on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 17:58
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 18:04
- Written by Christopher High
- Hits: 180
Normally when we think of a wise guy (or gal), we think of someone who doesn't know how to keep their mouth shut. This is the person who always come up with something funny to say at the wrong time. When the bank robber comes in, this is the person in the lobby who thinks he can make a comment about the robber's lack of originality or fashion sense.
We don't usually want to be known as a wise guy.
There is another sense of the word we forget about. To be a wise person is to live according to God's plan for our life. The big word for this is "sapiential" living.
This summer our theme verse for youth group is Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)-
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs is a book all about being wise. Although we might not think about wise guys or gals in the sense first mentioned above (being a know-it-all) we might still think that wisdom doesn't apply to us. For example, we might think wisdom is for people who are smart, contemplative, or older.
The Book of Proverbs was actually written to help young people live wise lives from the start. It is not just meant for any one group of young people either. It is meant for people who would be dealing with the pressures of money, family, sex, work, and friends. There are even sections in the book about how to deal with things like anger and sadness. Wisdom isn't for any one group of people; it is for all people. This is because wisdom is truly a heart issue, not a head issue.
When I say it is a heart issue, I am not talking about the thing pumping blood in our bodies. I am not even talking about our emotions- like a Valentine's day idea of heart. That idea is part of what our hearts are, but there is so much more to it.
God wants our hearts. Our hearts are our will, desires, emotions, and cares. It is who we are at a most basic level. It is what distinguishing us from the animals. It is the part of us that cries out for companionship and the need to be understood. Wise living addresses the needs of the heart without catering to it. Wise living directs our hearts to God's heart.
So, here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself:
1. How do I direct my heart?
2. What if my heart wants something different than what God wants?
3. What are the things God's heart wants?
4. What would it mean for my heart to want the same things as God's heart? What would that look like?
My prayer is that we would be people of wisdom, no matter what our age. God can use us all, wherever we are at in life. We just have to give Him our heart.
- Created on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 18:36
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 18:42
- Written by Christopher High
- Hits: 108
Our current mini-series is on the nature of truth.
I am always intrigued when I meet someone who denies something which I have already accepted as true. In one way or another, it usually ends up being quite interesting. The main reason it interests me is because I end up learning a lot about people and how they come to form their beliefs.
The moon landings form a prominent example of a class of beliefs people fail to believe in. I remember first encountering this disbelief when I was in high school. The person who happened to disavow that Neil Armstrong and anyone else landed on the moon happened to be one of our group leaders. Quietly, I was astounded. The reasons for not believing in the moon landing were elaborate and founded on what sounded like scientific reasoning. However, after doing a little investigating at the school library and talking to one of my teacher's I found better reasons to continue believing we landed on the moon.
The most enlightening thing about the encounter was what happened when I went to share this information with the group leader. Instead of listening to what I had to say, this person rejected what I said. He said I was just buying into the hype, or something like that... In any case, his reasons for believing or disbelieving always trumped what anyone else presented. He just knew.
As a Christian, this is a terrible way to believe. Some people disagree with me, but I think they are wrong. I think Paul would also teach that you are wrong (c.f. 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
Let me distinguish some things which will I believe will help us be better believers of truth.
1. Truth is truth- it has a certain character. It is important to know the truth.
2. Truth never changes. Particulars and contingent information can change, but truth never changes.
3. Truth changes everything. The nature of truth affects reality.
4. Truth is contextual. Rarely does the phrase, "just the bare facts," make sense.
Christians do know certain things. We are not global skeptics (i.e. people who do not believe something unless it can be proved with 100% certainty). We may not always know how we come to know things, but we do know them.
In humility, we should grant three things with all of this: 1. We are wrong at times, maybe even about a great deal. 2. We are limited and do not know everything. 3. We are not the only ones who can know truth.
Knowledge is a sort of thing with degrees. It is not an all or nothing enterprise. Truth is, but knowledge is not. This is why we can acknowledge all of the above and still affirm basic Christian principles and beliefs.
Returning to the example of the moon landings. How do we know it is true and really happened? Well, the evidence points that way. Am I 100% percent certain we landed on the moon? No. Do I know we landed on the moon. Yes, I do. I believe the different types of evidence, my common sense, and the testimony of others.
Our Christian belief should be formed in the same sorts of ways.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6).
I know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. This changes everything.
P.S.- just for fun,
- Created on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 16:30
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 16:32
- Written by Christopher High
- Hits: 146
I worked a number of odd jobs when I was in high school. Some of those jobs had a time card, and when I went to work and left work that time card would get punched to show my time.
It looked much like this one-
Punching out was always a great feeling because I was no longer on the clock. I could now return to my life, my friends, and my interests. As long as I was on the clock I was constrained by someone else's expectations.
As I was working on memorizing our theme verse for our current series, I was brought back to these thoughts of expectations and commitment from my high school days.
For the summer, the church is in a sermon series about being "called." The primary texts we are looking at are 1 and 2 Peter. Our theme verse is 1 Peter 2:21,
For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps. (HCSB)
But have you wondered what it means to be called? I wonder about these things, so I thought I would share some thoughts with anyone who reads this blog.
As David has pointed out on Sunday mornings, the Greek word is καλεω (pronounced kal-eh'-o), and it means to call out to someone or summon them. It can also mean to request someone to do a task, to invite, and to name someone or something.
All of these meanings are relevant to what Peter is talking about when he says we have been called in 1 Peter 2:21. We can see this when we survey the rest of Peter's letter and find the other instances of the word (1 Peter 1:15, 2:9, 3:6, 5:10; 2 Peter 1:3).
However, the main meaning here must be one thing. I believe "named" should be the way we understand our theme verse. We can think about in terms of a vocation, at least to get our thoughts turned in the right direction. This vocation isn't one which is just an 8-5 job, Monday to Friday, 50 weeks out of the year. Instead, this vocation is a life-calling, something which we are, whether we are on an official clock or not.
Unlike the jobs I have had over the years, I am actually some of the things I do- I am a musician, I am a father, I am a husband. I am also a Christian. The reason I am all of these things is that my calling to each one goes beyond what I do. In fact, what I do in all of these callings is motivated by an internal difference.
I love music. I can't "not play music." I would go crazy. It is just built into who I am. I regularly play music and I love doing it. This is why I am a musician. It is just part of me.
The same goes for being a father, a husband, and a Christ follower. Each one of these are commitments I have made. As those commitments have developed, they have changed my social, mental, and spiritual DNA. I am not the same person I would be if those commitments didn't exist. My expectations completely change when I make a commitment.
Jesus calls us to this type of commitment. Our entire life structure should change if we commit to following Jesus. And it will if we do. The things that make us passionate, get us up out of bed in the morning, and dominate our thoughts will all change to reflect Jesus. Our expectations change.
As a Christian, the clock is always on. We don't punch in and out. This isn't some job. It's a calling.