Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Danger of Christians

I have had the privilege of growing up in the church and being a Christian most of my life. There are so many life changing amazing things that God does in our lives, but we can also become unaware of the common weakness and blindspots that can also appear.

We can forget to focus on the unseen and only focus on what is seen/temporary and begin to act as the blind if we are not careful

1 Jn 2:15-17

These are some Bad habits we can sink into:

1. Skipping over Scriptures

a. Memorization Mumble- mumble through words to get to a point

b. Skim- Skim the verses in a book to get to what the author has to say

c. Danger: Not Reflecting on the Living Words of God you have heard to allow His words to change and speak to you in a new way

2. Believing but not heeding Scripture

a. Pride- We have heard it and already know what it says

b. Bad assumption: that "since we have heard, we are living it out" when a lot of times we have heard but not fully changed and obey what we have heard

3. Putting Extra Guilt/ Rules on Christianity that God never did

a. We Often turn God’s Tools into Rules (Bible, prayer, church, etc.)

4. Forgetting the Purpose of what We Do

a. Church/Read/Pray/etc. We get to MEET with JESUS!

b. The Powerful Mystery of Prayer.

c. Loss of Perspective can lead to being Guilt Driven or blind instead of appreciative of serving opportunities.

This is not a criticism of all Christianity, this is a reflection to make sure we are aware of potential blindspots.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Questions about American Life Pt. 5 of 5

I love living in America and so thankful to call this place home, but i know no place or people is perfect, so here are some of my questions after living with less for a week.

Need vs. Wants

needs- something necessary to have an acceptable quality of life.
wants- something good but unnecessary to have an acceptable quality of life.

I do struggle at times with what we call needs in our culture or at least with what the media wants us to belief are needs. Computers/nice cell phones/TV/own car/insurance/nice makeup/etc. Our society and jobs can almost force these things to be needs, but in no way are they directly necessary to having a better "quality of life." They are wants they market as needs so that we buy them and feel like we can't live without them. It is not that these things are not good and that we can't consider them a blessing to be thankful for, but i do wonder

At what point do the goods become a Trap instead of a Blessing?

I personally like the simplicity of less technology instead of more even though i use it a lot. So it was hard for me to see people wanting to get back to their phones and facebook even before we had left Jamaica as though it was their lifeline to survival. I know it is good to want to be in others lives, but it is almost like we have made it a necessity to be able to reach each other at any time and to be able to keep up and know what everyone's doing at all times through text, twitter, and fb newsfeeds. But i constantly wonder when does this become a distraction and more noise to keep us from God? it also makes me think that we may be

Convenience Spoiled.
Once again as you saw in my previous post, i am very thankful for convenience. At the same time, I think our American culture is constantly elevating convenience and worldly security to a higher and sometimes completely unhealthy need when it is really a luxury or want. We have to have a TV & cable in our house even though it would be cheaper going to a friends or restaurant when i wanted to watch something. We have to be able to track or be able to contact our kids everywhere for their own safety even though kids have continued to survive for thousands of years compared to our 20 years of cell phones being around. We have to have a cell phone instead of a land line because if people can't reach us, how will survive (see last sentence). Which brings me to my next question,

Are We Security Consumed?
One I struggle with sometimes is insurance. I don't think those houses in Jamaica have insurance on them. I am not sure about the cars. I don't think the families in Jamaica have insurance for their family. yet the culture continues on. Yes, on the opposite end i didn't get to see but i heard the hospitals were a place to be avoided and that our team walked away so thankful for what we do have, so don't get me wrong. I'm so thankful on some level for our system. But i still have to ask in my head, Is all the different insurances i pay for really necessary and are all the ways we want to protect our kids and families necessary? or are they also luxuries and wants that we have convinced or trapped ourselves into believe are necessities we stress over rather than luxuries to leave behind or be extra thankful for?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Thankful Jamaica Recap Pt. 4 of 5

Me and the team actually get to share more of this on Sunday at the DeWitt campus service, but this was the list of things i am thankful for that i started to compile with a few others while I was overseas:
Thankful for:
  • My own personal car- they can be lucky to have a family car, if not just taxi $, let alone each individual in the family owning a car
  • Money to get to school and eat
  • Parents who made Access to education (taxi's/uniform) possible
  • Pastors able to be themselves- Sounds like their are some pretty strict rules of a religion rather than relationship put on pastors at times in Jamaica
  • Ice
  • Urinals that don't splash
  • Toilets that aren't falling apart
  • Air conditioning
  • Easily accessible Hot water
  • Clean hospitals
  • Reliable Car
  • Washing machine
  • Safety on roads
  • Unending supply of water
  • Less bug spray needed
  • Shoes
  • Electricity
  • More Value in Families with one mom and dad
  • Plumbing instead of Water in barrels
  • Comfortable houses
  • Proximity- churches/school close enough to get to
  • Christian culture- the non-pressure to lose my virginity
  • Not having Innocence lost- falling into bad circumstances early because of poverty
  • Trash service- there is not a lot of recycling and mainly have burn piles there
  • Nice Grocery stores
  • Refrigerator
  • That I was Taught/know how to swim/I met a few adult Jamaicans who were scared of the ocean or couldn't swim
  • Not worried about having to be darker/lighter skin color for prejudice reasons
  • Having a Christian community/good church back home
  • Beau at Faith Church (Jim and Penny expressed their appreciation of his support)
  • Lack of Accusations- against what I've done in ministry so far
  • Lack of Distrust in the local church- I hear of a lot of people who don't trust the church anymore, but despite its flaws and humanity, i still have a wholehearted hope for its people.
Things I contemplated giving up or at least pondered whether i should be downgrading:
  • Cell phone
  • Clothes
  • How much money needs to be spent on securities

Friday, July 01, 2011

God at Work Jamaica Recap Pt. 3 of 5

God Stories:
Unity- God really brought our two groups together(MI/CA & NC) and allowed us to mesh and encourage each other, Jim & Penny, & others in an amazing way!

Testimonies- We had testimonies share in the circle of where people were coming from in our team circle that cannot be shared but it was amazing to see who God had brought on this trip and how people were growing and giving even from some pretty dark past scenarios. Its fun to see God stretch people. Stories of past failures, current struggles, and future fears were all shared and prayed over.
Ian- (Jamaican below in the background) I had a really great conversation about what it means to be a light in dark places as a Christian and what it means to be a Christian. He considered himself a believer but not a baptized Christian since he had 4 girlfriends at the time (which I don't believe is right, but is more of a common practice in Jamaica from what i am told). It Was a really good conversation for me to share about saving myself for marriage and what it means to try and be to living a life of purity as a Christian guy in every aspect of my life. It was the first time i have actually been straight up laughed at by a group of guys for still being a virgin! Apparently, Reggae is connected with the "party scene" of Jamaica and once you become a baptized Christian from Ian's perspective, you will be judged harshly if someone who knew you to be a Christian were playing that kind of music out of your house. Interesting.

was riding by on his bike and seeing a group of us reading by the beach, he asked me, "What are you all studying?" I was able to tell him it was the Bible and slowly the conversation switched from small talk to me being able to ask him what it meant for him to get back into the habit of following God, since he said he had fallen out of the habit of church or praying. I suggested that while "he was riding his bike by the water would be a fantastic time to think about God and pray." I hope our conversation reminds him to do that.
Rosa- Was the mom who we helped rebuild her house(top picture). She had such a great attitude and was so thankful and optimistic about the future and her next steps from what others told me, despite living in such simple conditions. A blessing to be apart of helping and to see.

Also, Erika told me she counted 27 answered prayers over the trip as she looked back. I can't wait to hear all of them, but this was my starting list, although it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface...

Answered Prayers:
  1. Logan got his passport on time before we left
  2. Logan's hand got better after being bitten and swollen by centipede
  3. Amanda's headache felt better after a day or two
  4. Amanda T had a God moment in her quiet time that she had been asking for.
  5. Trace was able to be on the team because he was obedient to moving to Michigan
  6. Cami Carter wouldn't have come if Trace didn't move to MI
  7. Kristyn stepped out in sharing her faith and talking to others as she had been praying
  8. Kayla Marie stepped up to play and sing by herself on Sunday at church for the first time
  9. I actually made it to Jamaica in God's timing
  10. Penny & Jim and the kingdom builders ministry should be making it in the Jamaican Observer newspaper which was a prayer of redemption and blessing that God seemed to answer through the article.
  11. Conversations with Ian & Lloyd the morning we had prayed for such opportunities