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1 Timothy 6:6

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Okay… so it has been over a month since I have arrived back from my trip to Sudan and I have seriously been struggling to write about my experience. Also when people ask me about my time in Sudan I struggle trying to figure out what to say. Much of my dilemma in expressing what happened in Sudan and what i actually accomplished there is due to the fact that to the natural eye it doesn’t seem like I accomplished much.

My trip to the orphanage/children’s home in Nimule, Sudan was for a total of just 14 days. 2 days were spent traveling through air and ground transportation to arrive there and another 2 days to get back. So that left me a total of just 10 days at the children’s home. Much of my time was spent simply adjusting to the environment and culture there. Most of you who know me understand that I am very fair skinned… so the sun and me are often at odds with each other. lol. And the one word i keep using to describe the heat is Sudan is “oppressive”. It was unbearably hot for me… and with no available AC or even a fan to cool me off… my body would wear out quickly from the heat. So most of the days i would become worn out after only spending a few hours in the sun with the kids. That being said… i honestly felt quite useless at times. In addition to the heat exhaustion i had gotten sick on my trip down there and felt sick off and on while i was at the orphanage. I believe that had i been there longer and had more time to adjust then i may have been of more use… but then again i realize now that was not the point of me being there.

As far as what I had actually done while i was at the orphanage… i led a bible study/devotional on 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. I was struggling with what to share with the children because so much was on my heart and i had even begun to plan another study… however God redirected me to that passage… not only to speak to the children and the staff at Cornerstone Children’s Home (CCH)… but also to speak to my own heart as well. God spoke to me and through me about being a broken vessell in His service and dying to self so that others may live. While there i also taught the 2nd grade class for a day. That was honestly a real struggle in patience and self control… because those kids were off the hook at times. lol. Also God led me to pray specifically for one kid who struggles with epilepsy and had several seizures while i was there… but I discerned something more behind it. I was reminded of the passage in Matthew 17:14-21 with Jesus praying over the boy with epilepsy and that he had a demon in him. I prayed for the boy and at least while i remained there he did not have any more seizures after the prayer… but he will continue to be in my prayers along with the rest of the children there.

Ultimately i realize that my experience in Sudan was more about God doing a work in my own heart more than anything else. I came there with so much on my mind and heart at the time… and I honestly don’t believe I fully prepared myself mentally for the trip… but God worked through that. There have been so many things tugging at me and vying for my attention and I can honestly say I wasn’t particularly satisfied with some seemingly negative developments in my life as well as a lack of what i viewed as positive opportunities in my life. However my trip to Sudan began to put everything back into perspective.

Being taken out of the self-indulging, self-helping, self-centered, and ultimately self-worshipping society which basically defines our great nation of the U.S. of A. and being placed in an impoverished nation at an orphanage among children who have been the victims of war and poverty… all of that is good for helping one to look at the big picture. I had realized that I had become bitter towards God about things that I believed Him for but have not come to pass… but realize now how selfish and arrogant my attitude was. Being in Sudan helped change my attitude and allowed me to refocus on my primarily objective for being… namely to glorify God, enjoy His love, and share His love with others. Ultimately i learned contentment while in Sudan. Observing the lives of those children at the orphanage, I truly saw God’s keeping power among them… that despite their lack (and maybe because of it) their lives were able to echo the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-13. This kind of faith brought conviction to my own heart and brought me back to a place of self-denial and Christ exaltation.

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

One more thing… my presence in Sudan allowed me to take this truth more to heart… that our riches can cause us to deny God but also our poverty can just as much cause us to sin against God. We can clearly see this truth demonstrated in our own society in the United States… where we are a nation of great riches but we are impoverished spiritually. Since we have a lot in causes us not to seek God as much because we begin to rely on our riches more than God. That is not at all what I witnessed in Sudan… because they had just enough to get by… they were truly dependent on God to supply their daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and did not have the means to supply their own needs. All of this solidified in my heart the desire to have just enough. I want to live as modest as possible for two main reasons: 1. I want to maintain my total dependency on God and not place my trust in my possessions, making them an idol; 2. I want to use any excess resources that God blesses me with to advance His kingdom and to aid those saints who are suffering… after all i am only a steward over what God supplies.

I would like to once again thank everyone who has supported my trip both through your prayers and donations. I pray that God richly bless you and your faithfulness to Him and I appreciate your presence in my life.

1 Corinthians 10:12

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

This may honestly be one of the most hardest yet real notes that I have written up to this point. However I want to be candid with everyone concerning my experience and I pray that God gets the glory through this.

Many of you might have known that I had been in a courtship for a year and a half but many of you may not know that my courtship had ended over a month and a half ago. To put it bluntly this time has been extremely hard for me… as I am sure most breakups tend to be. Even with the boundaries, security, and accountability that the courtship model provides… it cannot nor should it prevent those involved to become close and attached to each other. So of course separation can be extremely painful. But I thank God for this breaking process once again because it is drawing me nearer to Christ’s presence and allowing me to be conformed more to His image and understand His love more deeply. I have learned and am continuing to learn many lessons through this process…

First of all… although my courtship did not “work out”… this by no means contradicts the value of the courtship model. I would still choose courtship over dating… for as painful as this breakup is for me now… it would have been far worse had I dated and not purposed to guard my heart. The courtship model is not flawless and does not guarantee 100% success… however it does allow both people to better maintain pure hearts before the Lord. I can leave this courtship with a clear conscious knowing that I did not dishonor God nor did I dishonor my courtship partner.

Secondly… this breakup has allowed me to check myself in several areas. Although I knew that every courtship does not end in marriage… I firmly believed that my courtship would. I am discovering that it was a mixture of “blind faith” and pride that I held onto which solidfied me in this stance. I am quite a stubborn individual (this is where all the people who really know me give an affirmative head nod) and along with that anything that I committ myself to then I will find myself standing firm in throughout thick and thin and bear through almost any obstacle. Of course this is a great attribute to have…. IN MARRIAGE. But when I held onto that firm yet naive belief in the courtship it caused me to overlook red flags and simply believe that God would supernaturally work those things out. I would not open myself up to the possibility that these are warnings from God to halt/end the courtship.

The end of the courtship had also brought me into a state of confusion as to hearing the voice of God. I truly believed that God had spoken to me that she was to be my wife… yet it did not work out that way. So did I hear God wrong? Was I disobedient within the courtship? Was I not a good steward over what God had given me? Did she choose wrong or act out of disobedience? Am I outside of God’s perfect will in this situation?… all very challenging questions… but also all can be very condemning questions as well. I cannot get caught up in the “hows” “ifs” “whats” and “whys” right now… God will reveal that in His timing. All I can do now is focus on Him and being obedient to those things that He has made clear. Unlike many things… God’s exact will in whom you should marry is not spelled out in scripture (asside from some Godly characteristics that the person should have) and due to that it seems to be an area where many of us stumble. I believe the choice of the individual is involved here. I believe God will show us certain things about ourselves and certain characteristics that a potential mate should have… yet we ultimately make a choice. I am not discounting that God can supernaturally speak to individuals about whom they should marry but we should be discerning and pay attention to natural signs that He uses as well and once again avoid “blind faith” in this matter. Also… this may come as a complete shocker (even to myself for i once held an opposite view)… i do not believe in “the One”… i honestly believe that God can bless the union of pretty much any couple who are submitted to Christ’s will in the relationship and have certain fundamentals in place (i.e. committment and communication).

My pride has also been broken as a result of this breakup… which is GRRRRRRREAAT (to quote my boy Tony the Tiger). It seemed that many people were looking up to my courtship as an example which seemed good… but it can also have the effect of feeding into my ego. Although I did not seemingly make the mistake of taking on a “performance based” mentality in my relationship and i believe that i held true to our courtship being between just me, her, and God and not what other people thought. Although i believe all of that was true… i unfortunately did act out of season and accept responsibilities with others that i should not have. The story was not complete in my courtship yet i acted as if it was and began mentoring other couples. I realize that I was an error in doing this. Although nothing is wrong with people gleaning from my example… people should not look towards my experience as a model when the story has yet to be finished. To quote Charles Barkley… “I am not a role model” lol (well technically i am… technically we all are role models… but don’t look at me or any other person as a perfect example but look towards Christ and Him only).

So I learned some very hard lessons through this courtship experience… and although quite honestly part of me definitely wishes that I never entered into the courtship because the end result has been very painful… i however also am seeing a true blessing in all of this. God has used this whole situation to break me more and conform me more into His image. And that should be the goal of any relationship and every experience that we have to be conformed to His image and fellowship with His suffering love towards us (Philippians 3:7-10).

Although I not totally clear on the what and why of this broken courtship and all that God has in store for me nor His next move for me concerning relationships… I am enjoying this moment to be sweetly broken by Jesus.

How Long?

Matthew 24:10-14

   10“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

   11“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

   12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

   13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

   14“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Greetings fam, thank you for checking out my blog once again. As i have been in the state of brokeness once again God allowed me to not be stuck on myself during this season but to experience the grief of those around me, those in the Body of Christ as a whole, and even outside the Body.

I keep hearing more and more news on the effects of sin particularly by those who claim to be in the Body of Christ and it grieves my heart to no end. In my short time of being in a relationship with Jesus (11 years in 9 more days) I have been witness to many atrocities in the Body, i.e. the proverbial fleecing the flock for money, pastors making sexual advances towards members in their congregation, manipulation and false prophecies, etc. (no this is not stuff that i read about but things that i have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears). Of course the most wicked act of all is pride which fathers all of these other sins. It blinds people to their need to become absolutely dependent on God and has them believe that they can overcome sin in their own strength. No this is not another blog on pride… although i could probably do a thousand more of them… but rather i am just highlighting the state of the Church right now.

The more I grow in Christ the more I become grieved at sin in my life and the life of others. I find it astonishing that many professing Christians have become desensitized to sin. We make light of it and entertain ourselves with it whether it be indirectly through the media or directly through our undercover personal lives.

Also the more i grow in my walk with Jesus then the more I am learning about His love and forgiveness and have a desire to express that love to others. This is also something that i see painfully empty from the lives of many proclaimed believers. I believe this is also due to pride which blinds us to what we have truly been forgiven of (Luke 7:47).

So all of this perversion that i see both in the Body and in the world has me asking God… How Long? How long until His glorious appearing at which He sets every wrong right and the effects of sin are put to a final and everlasting end?

Matthew 24 presents one of the clearest teachings by our Lord Christ on the last days and His second coming. Although there are many differing eschatological views (pre-mil/pre-trib, pre-mil/post-trib, post-mil, and amil) one thing must be asserted by all and that is that the final judgment has yet to occur. The world we live in is still fallen and under the influence of sin. We can clearly see the verses in Matthew 24 being played out today.

v. 10 – If you have been in the community of believers for a reasonable length of time then no doubt you have witnessed many professed believers falling away. You have probably also witnessed people within the Church hurt and act unloving towards each other. Of course the question remains whether they were truly believers in the first place (1 John 2:19).

v. 11 – We are living in a day and time where false teaching and false prophecies abound in the Church. It is often hard for the unlearned, undisciplined, and newborn christian to distinguish between truth and error. With so many divisions in the Body it becomes difficult for us to discern who is genuine and who is false. These false preachers and prophets twist the scripture to their own destruction and the destruction of many others (2 Peter 3:16). They often prey on those who are undiscerning and those who are hurt. Yes this will continue until Christ’s final appearing at which point the wicked and righteous will be revealed for who they are (Matthew 13:24-30).

v. 12 – Love has become devoid of true meaning in this day and time especially in American and Western societies. We have divorced truth from love and therefore present a formless/substanceless love to others which leaves them empty and shallow. Again this has manifested itself in the Church where we show favoritism, form clicks, act bitter and envious towards each other, do no show compassion, and do not forgive each other. We are too wrapped up in self-love to experience and share God’s love.

v. 13 – With all of these things occuring… the question is once again asked… who are really God’s children and who are simply self-deceived? The answer is the one who endures to the end. It is not how well you start the race, how quickly or powerfully you run… but it is how you finish. Many ministries and many saints have seemed to have tremendous starts… worldwide ministries quickly sprout up and we are led to believe that these are the crem de la crem of Christianity… but as quickly as they rise then they quickly fall and there fall is great (Matthew 7:26-27) and their gross sin exposed by the media. But let us not become so prideful that we think the same could not be said of us. We must carefully and daily do a self-examination of our own walks to see whether we are lining up with the teachings of scripture (2 Corinthians 13:5: 2 Timothy 3:16).

v. 14 – In spite of all the wickedness that we see… no rather because of it… the work must continue. If your heart is grieved by sin as much as mine… then the question must in turn be asked of us… HOW LONG? How Long will we sit idle while those around us are dying in their sins? How long will we see those in the Body act bitter, unloving, and unforgiving towards each other and not stand up for God’s truth? Our mission must not be neglected. We are commissioned to spread the saving gospel to ALL those around us… even to those who claim Christ but their actions speak otherwise. In keeping focused on our mission we do not have time for idle disputes… we will not get swept away in the concerns of this world. Let His glorious appearing be our motivation to complete this work. Knowing that He promised that when our work is finished then He will come. And then we will receive our reward which is perfect love and perfect peace wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ (Psalm 73:25-26)

Isaiah 53:3

He is despised and rejected by men,
         A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
         And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him
         He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

rejected (webster’s definition)  to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use; to refuse as lover or spouse ; obsolete : to cast off; throw back repulse ; to spew out. 

The hebrew word for rejected used here is chadel means “vacant, ceasing or destitute, he that forbeareth, frail, rejected”

The word rejected is by no means a pleasant word by any stretch of the imagination. To feel rejected makes one feel worthless and of no value. It is something that no doubt we all have experienced and most assuredly our Lord Jesus Christ knows rejection more than anyone (Hebrews 4:15).

That is the place where I am at right now. I feel totally rejected and this rejection is eating at me. It is very difficult to put into words the pain that comes with rejection especially that of someone very close to you. Even more so when you have no clue why that person has rejected you. It has taken me on what seems to be a fruitless question of asking “what, how, and why”. As I have begun to contemplate the multitude of reasons as to why this person has seemed to reject me it offers my soul no comfort but only totures me.

It is definitely not easy to move past rejection. And true I do know that I have others in my life who have shown genuine love towards me and have stayed committed to me. But I firmly believe within all of us is an innate desire to love and to be loved. That innate desire is actually given by God but has been corrupted by man. We fulfill all the commandments through a Christ centered love (Matthew 22:35-40). So if there is even just one person close to us who seems to reject our love then that is what we tend to focus on rather than the many others who do appear to love and receive us.

So comments of “you need to get over it”, “just let that person go”, and “you are better off without them” although well-intentioned actually do no good in easing the pain of the one who is feeling rejected. Overcoming rejection is a process and not one that a person can get past overnight… nor should it be. Ultimately the feeling of rejection stems from our God-given emotions… so there is ultimately a purpose when we feel rejected and depending on how we respond to that rejection it will either draw us closer to Jesus or further away.

I know that currently God is using this situation in my life to also uncover past feelings of rejection in my life. Those feelings of being rejected by countless others in my life from my childhood until the present. Those past feelings have surfaced and honestly i am glad in a sense that this has happened. Of course it allows me to further come to grips with the pain and hurt of my past… but ultimately it is allowing to better understand Christ’s suffering and also to anticipate His future coming where there will be no more suffering but rest for those who are in Him (Romans 8:17, 18; Revelation 14:13).

Of course no amount of rejection that I or any of us suffer could compare to that which Jesus went through for our sake. Not only did His disciples reject Him at His time of most desperate need (Mark 14:50) and Peter among them who said that he would die for Jesus yet he ended up denying Him (Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:66-70)… not only that but Jesus had to endure separation from the Father on the cross (Matthew 27:46). Thankfully that is something that we as believers will never have to experience due to Christ’s taking our sin guilt upon Himself and redeeming us back to God (1 Peter 3:18).

When we are rejected by others close to us it should also allow us to identify with our own rejection of Christ at times in our lives. Everytime we choose sin over Him and set up idols in our lives then we are doing the very same thing to God what others have done to us by rejecting Him. I thank Jesus for allowing me to see this reality and allowing me to suffer through rejection in order to gain a better understanding of how my own sinfulness grieves God.

So ultimately God has been using every broken relationship/friendship and rejection that you and I have gone through to draw us closer to Him. God bless the Broken Road!!

Matthew 6:14-15

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”

Greetings once again and welcome back. Now I kind of tackled the subject of love and forgiveness on a facebook post that I made a couple months ago, however I am learning that the subject of God’s love and forgiveness is inexhaustable since God Himself is inexhaustable. So I would like to dedicate this post to once again address the subject of forgiveness.

As is often the case for me to begin to grasp a better understanding of God and His Word and truly apply it to my life then I actually have to be tested in those areas. Such is the case this time concerning God’s forgiveness. I honestly have thought of my self as very forgiving based on the past wrongs that people have done to me that I have been able to forgive but I am learning that I am not perfect in my forgiveness and need much more growing to do in it. Nor should I ever expect to be perfect in forgiveness quite honestly but look for and rejoice in opportunities in which i learn to grow more. I have been faced with just such an opportunity over the course of this past week.

As mentioned in my last blog I have been dealing with an extremely painful situation involving someone close to me. I felt extremely hurt by what this person said to me and i felt a strong sense of betrayal and of being lied to. All of these thoughts had flooded my mind during this past week and i have harbored much bitterness towards this person. Also with each conversation that i had with a friend my heart would seem to harden that much more towards this person. Venting about problems often times can seem to have the opposite effect of “releasing” the issue but rather, as in my case, it simply prolonged it and exacerbated it. Although i may have tried to deny it these thoughts did have an influence on my concentration on other activities… and most importantly my walk with Jesus. This unforgiveness/bitterness has acted as a poison in my life over this past week leaving me unable to fully express the joy of the Lord nor comfort others who were suffering.

Mark 11:25-26

  25“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

   26[“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

Although it is not required that we forgive in order to be saved since we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus and no action of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9), forgiveness is to be evident in our lives as believers and should totally define who we are. So these verses should not be taken in the sense that if we are not able to forgive that God will not forgive us but rather that those who do not display forgiveness in their lives show that they have not truly received God’s forgiveness. Also it is evident that since we are still in the flesh and have two natures warring within us (Romans 7:22-23) that it is often hard to forgive. And when we do not forgive others and hold onto bitterness then we are unable to fully experience God’s forgiveness in our lives. This unforgiveness and bitterness acts as a poison in our lives and will corrupt all that we touch making our lives unproductive for the Kingdom. This is why Jesus commands us to forgive right away when we recognize that root of unforgiveness in our lives.

Luke 11:4

4‘And forgive us our sins,
         For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
         And lead us not into temptation.'”

Of course the flipside of forgiving others is looking at the overwhelming sin that we have been forgiven of by God. Absolutely nothing that others have done to us can compare to what we have done to God. And even looking beyond that when we forgive it brings us closer to God. The more we are able to forgive then the more Christ-like we are becoming. So if you desire to be made more like Jesus then expect to be extremely hurt and have multiple opportunities to practice forgiveness in your lives. When we are able to do this then we are kept from temptation. The more we love and forgive then the more we are kept from temptation in our lives (note: there is a difference between testing and temptation. satan comes to tempt us but God does not tempt rather He tests us [James 1:2-4; 13-14]). The unforgiveness that i was holding onto this past week distracted me from God and had given room for satan to tempt me.

Now that I have been truly able to forgive it feels as if a twenty ton brick has been lifted off my spirit and I am now able to devote myself more fully to God. More so now that i have moved past bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart God is now showing me more areas were i have sinned against this person and failed to display the love of Christ to that person. So although I needed to forgive this person, through me forgiving this person God has shown me that I am the one who has been in need of forgiveness all along.

I encourage all of you who are heavy-laden with the burden of bitterness and unforgiveness to dwell on God’s love and forgiveness for you and cast that burden down at His feet.

Matthew 11:28-30

 “28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

   29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

   30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Job 3:1

“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth”

Greetings… its been a long time… I shouldn’t have left you without a dope blog to read to. lol.

Well since the last time I blogged a lot has changed. First of all my missions trip to Sudan has been postponed. I went through both physical issues (dental problems) and spiritual issues (basically i was not spiritually ready and more breaking had to happen) which made me decide to postpone the trip. Lord willing I will be going to Sudan in November. I know that the Lord is preparing my heart even now for the missions trip… and to do that He is once again breaking me.

Yes, I am in that period of brokeness once again and the situation/circumstances surrounding that are strikingly similar to the last time. So you would think that my response would be that much better then last time and I would have a much easier time dealing with this, right? Well… not exactly… this time around it has been much more painful in many ways. The breaking process is what I would describe as a bitter-sweet process… bitter in that it hurts… A LOT… sweet in that it is causing me to cling to Jesus even more during this time and also it allows me to be one with Him in suffering (Romans 8:17-18).

Yesterday morning I felt something that I really can’t remember feeling my 10yrs of being a believer. I felt severe condemnation and wanted to die. I did not go through suicidal ideation or have an intent to end my life. I just had the strong feeling of wanting to die. That feeling revolved around some words that were spoken to me by someone close to me. Words that I dwelled on and let fester in my mind. I felt like the worst individual to walk the face of the earth based on the words spoken to me. I couldn’t shake the feeling of condemnation off of me even when I prayed but I had to call someone else to pray for me.

Job 2:9

“Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Now Job went through severe trials uncomparable to what most if not all of us could ever claim to go through. So it wouldn’t be quite right to compare my situation to Job as the same but there are similarities and application that can be drawn from his story.

Job was tested in many ways: through the loss of his livestock, servants, sons and daughters, and even satan touching his physical health through boils. But perhaps the most severe test came through the words of his wife. Now his immediate response to his wife in v. 10 was a right response however we get the inclination at the beginning of chapter 3 that those words had an effect on him.

The old adage, “sticks and stones break by bones but words can never hurt me” is just plain false. Often times the emotional pain caused through misused words can cut far deeper, hurt far worse, and last much longer than any physical pain. Damaging words which come from the closest person to you as in Job’s case will cut the deepest.

That is much similar to the pain I experienced. The situation itself even though it hurt and still hurts didn’t affect me nearly as the words spoken to me and the manner that they were spoken. The words didn’t affect me right away and it seemed to me that i was responding well to the situation but those words had bore root in me much more than I realized and two days removed from the time they had been spoken is when they manifested in self-condemnation.

Condemnation of course is far different than God’s conviction. Condemnation seeks to present us guilty and eliminate hope whereas conviction will show us our mistakes but provide a solution. Condemnation is self-imposed but conviction comes from the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer. A completely negative view of self is what produces condemnation. This view takes away from and opposes God’s view of us.

So how does one confront this condemnation? Knowing our worth in God that Jesus would lay down His life for us, that He views us as precious in His sight, that we are priceless in value to Him not based on inherent worth that we have on our own or something that we earned but because of His work for us, in us, and through us. When we take on God’s perspective of us rather than how others view us or we view ourselves and allow it to grip our very beings then we are empowered to fight against condemnation. Of course often times this is easier said then done. We can know this truth in principle but to actually apply it when we are facing that overwhelming feeling can be down right difficult.

This is why it is important to surround yourself with like-minded believers who can hold us accountable and encourage us in our moment of weakness (Eccelesiastes 4:9-12).

In the case of Job, his friends did well in verses 11-13 in chapter 2. They sat by Him, grieved with him, and encouraged him through their presence without opening their mouths. Although of course later on in the book they spoke foolishly towards Job and misapplied the truths of God.

When I was going through yesterday morning, I did not need someone to come to me with a multitude of words of truths that I already know and have memorized but rather I needed someone to just pray with me and to encourage me. I didn’t need any christian cliches about how “God’s going to turn it around” “This trial will only make you stronger”… I know all that!! Just be with me and pray with me.

Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit”

God uses times of suffering and loss to bring His children closer to Him. Perhaps the best help that we can offer others during this time is to also manifest Christ by drawing near to them.

Job 2:11

“now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place- Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.”

Apathy

Lord God I’m crying out while I’m dying on the inside

My insides seem torn and no longer instride

With the destiny and plan you have for me

It seems I’ve lost all my insight

My heart appears far gone

I’m without hope apart from

YOU… like a hollywood actor

who has lost all his stardom

It seems I’m broken beyond my belief

No strength, I’m simply powerless

This weak peon needs relief

In the gardener’s hand this flower rests

My prayers seem less than effective

I’ve been unable to connect with people’s inner needs

But I’m clueless like a bad detective

Lord restore my heart to intercede

So even when it seems by hope decreases

May i cling on and grope for Jesus

When my last rope’s in pieces

Renew my vision to scope His peace, love

And beauty which takes every gasp from me

Too great to be weighed or measured

So I seek You harder to break this apathy

And grasp to Jesus, my adored treasure

Okay… Wow. So I am about to embark on my first missions trip ever. I am exhilirated, nervous, excited, in anticipation, and in great expectation at the same time. I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in me, through me, and to me. I am not exactly sure all that God has for me in Sudan but I know that this experience will be dramatically life altering. I truly expect God to use me (although I do not know the entirety of how and all He will do) in Sudan but more so than that I know that I am also headed there to receive from Him and walk more fully in my calling and purpose.

So I am sure that a lot of you are wondering how all of this came about and why I am going to Sudan to do a missions trip there. So, I have put my missions support letter below and that explains all the details. I am asking that everyone who reads this prays for me and this trip. If you are able then I would greatly appreciate and do very much need financial support… but of course even more so I need your prayers.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

            I am writing this letter to request your support for the calling that I believe God has placed on my life. In October 2008 I participated in a men’s conference for the church which I attend. While at that conference a guest minister attended and presented on the need for support of an orphanage which he had helped to establish in Nimule, Sudan. When he spoke on the needs of the children, who had been ravaged by war, abused, and abandoned my heart then became convicted about the need to support. I felt a desire that I believe was motivated by the Holy Spirit to do a missions trip there to support. However, despite all of this, I was concerned about the cost and timeframe of the trip. But when God has called you to something, He will often send you more reminders and that is exactly what He did for me. At the end of November 2009, as I was praying about other things and enduring a “breaking process” with God, I heard Him very clearly speak to me once again to go to Sudan. This was very interesting because during that time I was very confused about many things in my life but God’s calling for me to go to Sudan was among the few things that were clear to me at that time. Approximately 3 days after hearing God once again speak to me to go to Sudan, I had witnessed one of my fellow church members speak on her missions trip to the Sudan. That was exactly the confirmation that I needed. At that time, I followed up with the reverend that I had met at the men’s retreat and have begun the process of planning a missions trip to Sudan

            I will be traveling to Sudan from August 8, 2010 to August 24, 2010 with Fulaa Lifeline International. Fulaa runs an orphanage called Cornerstone Children’s Home in Nimule, Sudan. Many of these children are victims of war, neglect, and poverty and are in desperate need of not just prayer but tangible and physical support.  Matthew 25:31-46 makes it clear that as we do for the “least of these” we are doing it for Christ. I am requesting that you please keep me in prayer as to how God would use me in the lives of these children. I also ask for your prayers for safe travel, for the children at the orphanage, and the continued guidance and support of the ministry of Fulaa Lifeline International. Finally, as God leads you I ask for you support financially to this missions trip. The estimated cost for traveling to Sudan will be $3,651.12.

Thank you in advance for your prayerful support.

Your brother in Christ,

Daniel R. Unger

If you are able to donate then here is my info:

Daniel Unger

address: 9001 Hickory Hill Avenue, Lanham, MD 20706

email: EagleBrotherDan@yahoo.com

Let me preface this post in saying that although what I am writing is bound to stir up controversy, it is not my intent to dismiss the beliefs of so many stong believers that I know as invalid but rather I am just presenting what I believe scripture to say. In that sense I would simply say that we can agree to disagree and still show the love of Christ to each other.

To some reading this who know me either personally (real life) or impersonally (internet) you may begin to think “oh boy here he goes again attempting to speak on what he doesn’t understand… hasn’t he learned his lesson yet”. The truth is I am not claiming to be an expert in these things or as theologically astute as others in this area. So I can understand why many will totally disagree with what i am writing here and that is perfectly fine with me. My intent is to convey what I believe but not to convince you or prove it to you.

For some years I have noticed a divide among believers who affirm predestination and those who affirm free will. Predestination/election is typically understood as God’s sovereign choice over man’s eternal destination. Free will is understood as the belief that men have the ability to choose to receive Christ or reject Him. I belief that both of these concepts are taught in scripture (Predestination: Romans 8:29; Romans 9; Ephesians 1… Free will: Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:14-15; John 3:16-21).

Now traditionally two logical schools of thought have formed regarding the concepts of predestination and free will. Those two schools of theological belief are Calvinism and Armininianism. Now I will honestly not attempt to explain either Calvinism or Arminianism because it has been said that i do not convey their viewpoints accurately and know that there are many who are more astute at explaining these belief systems than I am. However I will make mention of a few resources that can give you a better understanding of each belief system… also any of my calvinist and arminian brethren can feel free to post their suggestions on good resources.

Calvinism resources: “Institutes of the Christian Religion” – John Calvin; “Systematic Theology” – Louis Berkhof; “What is Reformed Theology” – R.C. Sproul.

Arminianism resources: “A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology” – J. Kenneth Grider; “The works of James Arminius” (http://wesley.nnu.edu/arminianism/Arminius/index.htm).

Now the concepts of God’s sovereign election and human free will seem to be diametrically opposed to each other. Therefore I believe this had led to a divide among Calvinists and Arminians, with Calvinists putting an emphasis on God’s sovereign choice and Arminians emphasizing human free will.  Now the points made by both Calvinism and Arminianism seem to follow a very logical format. However their logic does not necessarily make them true. An extreme argument against Calvinism will take on the view of God forcing His will on mankind that conveys God as a cosmic rapist. An extreme argument against Arminianism is that human free will limits God’s sovereignty and takes the glory from God and puts it on man. Now of course Calvinists and Arminians will deny that those claims are accurate however i just wanted to present the extreme arguments made by the other side.

Now addressing the point of this whole note and what led me to write this:

I had a recent conversation with a friend who was calvinist. He began a discussion about predestination with me and presented his viewpoint on it and I did the same. However our discussion seemed to be going around in circles. This has been reminiscient of many discussions/debates that i have had with calvinists and arminians. After the discussion it finally clicked to me why we had been going in circles. I realized that i am to blame for that because I was trying to explain something that was just unexplainable.

My belief that the bible teaches both God’s sovereign choice and man’s free will concerning man’s eternal destination is quite a paradox. It cannot be logically defended. It is a total mystery to me and i cannot logically explain how it works because of that. Now many of you reading this probably think that my statement is a total cop out. Because i cannot logically explain how it works… i will come off as a complete fool in every discussion/debate that I have with a calvinist or ariminian. And quite honestly i am okay with that. I can explain what I believe but I cannot explain how it works. I have resigned myself to the fact that my finite mind cannot possibly comprehend this mystery, however that does not stop me from believing it. Much like the concept of the Trinity… I can explain what the Trinity is but I can’t explain the how. To try and grasp how One God can exist as three distinct persons is totally incomprehensible to our finite minds. However unlike the concept of the Trinity, I do not view a correct understanding of predestination and free will as an essential of salvation. That does not mean that one should not attempt to understand God’s predestination and man’s free will. But rather that you acceptance into the kingdom of God will not be based on that belief.

I understand that I have not given a convincing argument for what i believe in regards to predestination and free will… that is because I don’t believe that I can. But once again that was not my point. I just wanted to convey what I believe even if you do not fully understand it and think that I am being totally illogical. Understand that I am fine with that and I still love you even though you may think that i am a total fool.

Grace and Peace

Not Satisfied

Proverbs 27:20

   Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

The word ‘satisfied’ which is used in this verse comes from the hebrew word sabea which means to have enough, fill, be full, have plenty of, be satiate, satisfy, suffice, be weary of.

If you take a serious and honest look at society today, especially American society then the words of this verse should ring true.

It should be painfully obvious to all of us that we live in a completely materialistic society in which we are led by our wants and desires. We should also as astute observers of society then come to the conclusion that those things that we are chasing simply do not satisfy. Whether it be money, relationships, the comfort of a nice home, popularity, power/influence… none of these things provide lasting satisfaction and only serve to quell our appetites for but a mere moment but leave a gaping void in our lives. A look into the lives of celebrities, the political powerhouses, and the business elite will confirm this fact to those who carefully observe. Those who seem to have it all often seem to be among the most empty of all individuals.

Now all of what I stated may seem painfully obvious to those of us who are Christian because we have discovered the vanity of living for the things of this world (Ecclesiastes 2:1; 2:11; 4:4). However even though we know this intellectually, we have often failed in our application of this. Much like the psalmist Asaph (Psalm 73), we often envy what others have (v.1-16) without understanding the end of those things (v.17-20; 27) nor the all satisfying relationship that we have in Christ (v. 25-26). And many of us go beyond that to actually coveting the things of this world. We then become obsessed with the things of this world… buying the latest gadget, keeping up with the latest fashion trends, attempting to look sexy, and entertaining ourselves with the very things that grieve God. And to ease our conscience we simply compare ourselves to the other Christians that we know and believe that we are somehow better off than them. But in doing this we have shown ourselves to be foolish (2 Corinthians 10:12).

So with the very real warfare that we experience between our flesh and our spirit then the question will be asked: how we can live a pure life? The answer given in Psalms 119:9 is to live according to God’s Word. We know that Jesus is the living embodiment of God’s Word. Therefore to live according to God’s Word we must know God’s Word and in knowing God’s Word we must desire to know Jesus and to know Him more and more.

This brings me to the whole point of 40-day fast that I have taken. I began this fast with the intent to seek more of Jesus in my life. I did not enter into this fast with the request for any specific answer to prayer or to even seek more of God’s blessings and power in my life. That is not to say that praying and fasting for those things is wrong… but that was simply not my intent or desire. So much like the statement coined by John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”… the intent of my fast was to satisfy myself in Jesus.

Psalm 107:9

For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
         And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Jesus Christ is the only one whom can satisfy our longing souls. So much like the samaritan woman my desire has been to continually drink of Him (John 4:14-15). However throughout my fast it seemed I just wasn’t satisfied and it seemed that my fasting and praying had been in vain. Even to this day, the very last day of my fast, it just seemed that I hadn’t received my breakthrough. I hadn’t felt God’s presence like I had desired and I hadn’t sensed His overwhelming presence. But then God made everything clear to me as I was seeking Him early in the morning today. He showed me the lack of endurance and persistance I was showing in seeking Him. I would seek God throughout the fast but the truth is that much of that seeking was done half-heartedly. Because I would not see or hear God like I expected I would often exasperate myself. I realized that what had begun as a selfless motive had become a selfish one in that I was putting my own expectations on receiving more of Jesus. By doing so I was again trying to do things in my own strength.

Finally God made it clear that His intent for me in this fast is not that I would just satisfy myself with more of His presence and be complacent in that… but rather the whole intent of the fast is that I must be relentless in my pursuit of God. I should not be satisfied!! My thirst for God should be unquenchable… that is it should NEVER be quenched outside of receiving ALL of Jesus. And of course that will not happen until I see Him face to face. I need to cling to Him without fail and much like Jacob I must not let go of Him until I receive my reward (Genesis 32:26)… and that reward is Jesus Christ Himself.

I would therefore like to admonish those who are reading this to not be satisfied in their relationship with Jesus. You may have matured greatly in your relationship with Him and shunned those things of this world… but there is much more growing and dying of self to do… there is much more of Jesus to pursue. Even as you feel yourself become weary and you are in a dry place… do not give up in your pursuit of Him… continue to seek Him more and more. So while it is true that you cannot possibly be satisfied with the things of this world and that only Christ can fully satisfy… it is also paradoxically true that we should not be satisfied in our relationship with Jesus.

So as I end this fast and I able to satisfy my physical hunger after today, my hunger after Jesus has only intensified. I am NOT satisfied!!