Sunday, January 29, 2012

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens Iron

This morning in church and then tonight in a journey group this passage in proverbs was discussed in length.u  For me this is one of those pivotal verses in the life of a disciple of Christ.  Dan mentioned how the proverb did not say that a wet stone (or in most of our lives, that sharpener on the back of the automatic can opener) sharpens iron.  Of the majority of us who have ever sharpened a knife, I would dare to say not a single one did so by using another knife.

There are the obvious reasons why we do not use knives to sharpen knives and here are my thoughts on them and how they pertain to our friendships.  

First off, it would take entirely too long.  Can you imagine?  Using a knife to sharpen another one?  It would take a lifetime.  Just as with knife sharpening, I think it is awesome how this applies in our lives.  In order to be sharpened and to sharpen someone else spiritually takes a long time and a deep relationship.  We cannot just meet someone and expect them to be sharpening us or is sharpening them.  As Dan put it, they have to be able to trample around in our soul first.  

Secondly, do you know what happens when two pieces of metal are rubbed together?  It makes an awful noise. It's like nails and a chalkboard on steroids.  Why would you want to put up with that to sharpen a knife for a lifetime?  The main reason for the noise is because of friction.  The metal is adding resistance to the other piece of metal causing a noise.  Now, when using a wet stone there is no friction.  There is an oil placed on the stone that provides smooth movement between the knife and the stone.  Again, in our friendships wouldn't it be nice if things were always smooth and there was never any friction?  Sure from a comfort standpoint, from a growth perspective you have to have the friction and noise to drive growth. Haven't you had that time in your life when you and a friend were having a major argument and by the time you had worked it out you were infinitely closer?  Just as with the gospel, where we have to be wounded to be healed, in true friendship their must be friction to produce sharpening.

Finally, another significant thing that happens when two pieces of metal are rubbed together is that sparks fly.  You know when a person takes a grinder and puts to a piece of metal to smooth an edge, and that shower of sparks comes off.  Again, caused by friction but lets take a little different approach to looking at this in our friendships.  How many times have you and your close friend got into an argument or debate which got somewhat heated?  I know I have and the sparks begin to fly.  However, typically when sparks are flying it means that the two people having the discussion have very strong opinions about what the best decision is.  This is where the best ideas are birthed and people are able to see the flaws in thief viewpoint; therefore being sharpened.  

As we move into the next week lets not be afraid to put metal to metal.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

John 15 "Man!"

Yesterday our Teaching Pastor put on twitter that he was "soaking in John 15 today", and he proceeded to put "man" after that.  So as I was sitting at my desk waiting on a peer to come over and look at something I whipped open my iPhone bible app and opened John 15.  Dan's statement of "man", was the understatement of the day for me.  Within the first few verses my mind was rolling on what an amazing picture Jesus was using in describing our relationship with Him.  So here are a few of my thoughts related to this passage.

When Jesus said "I am the vine and you are the branches" in verse 5 I began to think about the relevance of the relationship between a vine and its branches and it really sort of blew my mind.  In nature when talking about a vine and its branches the first thing that jumps out at me is that the branches are completely connected to and dependent on the vine.  If you can imagine a fruit vine and the process that takes place to produce the fruit there is no way the branch can produce the fruit apart from the vine.  The vine is the only way that the water can get from the ground to the branch which is crucial to being able to produce the fruit. 

Now I have no doubt that it is not by chance that Jesus used this illustration and also was called the living water. Just as the branch must be connected to the vine to get the water needed we also must be connected to Jesus in order to get the water needed to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.  The only way to become as connected to Jesus as a branch is to a vine is to be completely engrossed in the word and be tuned into the Holy Spirit.    One thing also mentioned in this passage is that if a branch does not produce fruit it withers and dies.  My take on this part is that something has to become between the vine and the branch.  In nature there are certain parasitic vines that attach to the branches and vines and begin to re-route the water and nutrients o themselves.  In the same way it is very easy to make something else in our lives be the first priority, which will redirect our energies away from the vine.  This will cause us to quit producing fruit, wither and die, and be gathered up and thrown into the fire.  So no matter what is going on in our lives (jobs, spouses, kids, church) we have to make sure that our relationship is Jesus is the number one priority.

It also talks about how the branches that do produce fruit will be pruned to be more fruitful.  I can only imagine that if a branch had a nervous system that this would be pretty painful.  However, we do have one and I think that just like in James 1 Jesus is telling us that we should be prepared to face trials in our lives because that is what will give us the necessary characteristics to be even more fruitful.  God will use trials in our lives to trim off the spiritually dead areas to allow them to become fruitful areas of our life.  Wow, the work of God is so good.  "Man!".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fear of God

After our first 2919 of the semester (which is part of the college ministry of the Journey Campus), it really got me thinking about the fear of God.  For the first few weeks we are going to be going through Francis Chan's basic series and tonight was talking about the fear of God and how a lot of us tend to take that to be old testament or simply reverence. This lead me to think a lot about what my last post was talking about but on a different level.

One of the discussion questions tonight was think about a time where we were simply terrified, well I actually had one of those times today at lunch.  I am on the encourager team at The Journey Campus and one of the things we do is follow up with people who fill out a visitor card.  I had the awesome luxury of having lunch with a person today who had indicated on the card that they wanted to discuss a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Talk about fear!  This discussion could be one of the most important discussion in this person's life and I was supposed to be able to talk with them about it?  Through the awesome power of the holy spirit and God's ultimate provision I was able to pray with this person to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Hallelujah!  All the praise to the Lord.  That being said, it was still one of the most frightening experiences I have ever faced.

When it comes to the fear of God one way I am going to try to look at it is, just as my last post, that every person I come in contact with I may be the only Jesus they ever see.  The reason this strikes fear into me is that this is not some nonchalant ritual that people go through, this is eternity either with or separated from God.  But to take it a step further, as my buddy Charles said, it goes so much further than our words.  Not only do the words of our mouth have to proclaim the gospel, the actions of our day to day lives must also project that holiness. When people are aware that a person goes to church that person becomes the person to watch, because a lot of people are looking to catch a "Christian" breaking one of the rules. 

I don't know about anyone else, but it strikes a major fear in me to think of standing in front of the Lord and having to give account for every careless word, and action that could possibly lead someone to doubt or even turn from their faith.  We should attempt to live a life that is so out of the ordinary in a good way that the only explanation is something greater than this world.  That is my personal goal and challenge to everyone out there.  Lets live a life that screams Jesus with every action and word because it could play a part in the decision that someone makes in regards to eternity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Condemning Words

So it's 3 am and I am in the glider rocking our 8 month old daughter who is not wanting to be put down tonight. I haven't blogged in a while and after a really good discussion in our journey group I feel it is about time for some more of my thoughts.

We talked about words this week, and the power they can have. Ephesians 4:29 gives us clear direction for what our mouths are to be used for. Building each other up. I am not sure about you all but at the end of my days the # of conversations that built either me or someone else up are the minority. Let me put this plug in right now, conversation that is building someone up is not always a happy conversation. Sometimes, the most important thing we need to hear is far removed from what we want to hear.

Now to the meat of my thoughts. We got to talking about how easy it is to pick people apart, for whatever reason. Maybe your sitting at dinner with friends and a less fortunate person comes in; how easy is it to say "don't know what he's doing here?", or maybe your in class and that non traditional student asks the 400th question the have had today. Whatever the situation, we all tend to pick people apart.

Now let's talk about John 8. Jesus was talking with the group gathered around him and the pharisee's brought a woman in who was caught in the act of adultery. Basically, look at her; what do you have to say about her? Here you are talking about us, but what about her? We all know the story, Jesus says he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Now, Jesus also says if you lust after another in your heart you have already committed adultery. When we pick people apart whether out loud or in our heads we are simply putting them in front of Jesus and saying, "look this person does this, or doesn't do this" or whatever it maybe. We are basically putting them in front of Jesus saying "Condemn Them!". It is so easy to take the people we should be loving and putting the on front of our savior.

One other thought, it's easy to say well, I didn't say anything I just laughed. But that is one in the same. In Joshua 7 we see that Achan was the one who took from God, yet his whole family was stoned. Knowing and letting it happen are just as bad as doing it.

I write all that to challenge mainly myself, but anyone else who happens to read this, to be extremely aware of their words and thoughts. Being a parent I struggle with the weight that me and my wife will likely be the first Jesus either of our girls see. Same goes for the person we run into at the gas station. We may be the only Jesus they see.

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