I did not blog from MD and I have good reason. Those who know me know that I get quiet during times of deep thought. Due to the fact that I go through periods of such thought, it's not all that strange that my blog looks like Swiss cheese... has the shape, but with lots of holes.
Taking time this week has been my theme. I took time to pray, think, study, and listen to wisdom and stories of others who have walked before me. I thirst for wisdom.
I had some pretty deep decisions to make in my life. God is forever faithful.
Some of what I've learned or was reminded:
- God is sovereign: man cannot in any way alter God’s plans for my life. As Jonah, Moses, Abraham (with Isaac), etc; I can see where God's will was done regardless of man's plans. Prov. 3:5-6 comes to mind.
- Risk for God is mandatory for the fully-used life. A life that's truly given to God is a life that longs for nothing more than complete satisfaction and joy in God. Risk is looking at a fear and choosing God and His plan even though you don't know the outcome. The 3 in the fire (Shad, Mish, and Abind); Ester; Paul are just a few examples of the faithful who made risks when they KNEW God had called them to do something. Risk is inherent to the man/woman who has sacrificed normalcy for the life-ride that is Christ. 'For me to live is Christ and to die is GAIN' If we can truly embrace Paul's passion... there is NO RISK that is too large.
- Patience and search for Wisdom is a sign of maturity for a reason. God doesn't need stupid people chasing wild dreams. He needs men and women who are totally given over to him. God is a God of order and a God of wisdom. A part of my future rests in seeking out some of the growth that is needed for me to step out on faith completely having said 'Lord, I've been faithful and stepped into your preparation... I'm doing this solely because I believe it lines up with your passion.'
- The end game is always God. I'm reading an incredible book by a new favorite Author John Piper. Actually I'm reading 2 of his books 'Desiring God' and 'Don't Waste Your Life'. What a title! Don't waste your life is exactly what I have heard in the back of my mind all of my life. I have come to discover that my life is a complete waste as long as I'm away from God. I can be away in every area or one area of my life and I'll come up short. My complete heart's desire is to Know God and become completely satisfied in Him. I desire to make my life count for the only one worthy of doing the counting! My heart's cry is to find complete Joy in the ONE who created even Joy itself. With this frame of mind, the bible speaks to me in so many new ways. Pauls words are like a megaphone when you read with this heart's passion.
- True worship is both with the mind and with the heart. Many places today you will find worship that is either so intellectual that it looks dead or so emotional that the people look foolish.... True worship takes complete mind's devotion and complete heart's attention and places them in the blender that is the Heart of God. The resulting drink is an overflowing shake of passion, awe, wonder, holiness, brokenness, joy, splendor, and every other adjective that is our God. We can then take this drink and savor it. Spend time 'swishing it around our mouths' allowing us to pick apart every ingredient that is complete worship.
Headed up to Maryland today. I'm going to get to some thinking and praying and reading. Meeting up with Ben at History and two other gentleman. I'll blog again from MD.
Spent much of the day today developing ACMissions.org
African Christian Missions International is an organization that serves several countries in Africa. Kristy and I have a friend who is serving in the Sudan right now. Millions of Christians have been killed in the last several years simply because of their faith. It is a challenge for me as a Christian 'Leader' to know that some have given themselves completely for the gospel in foreign lands with little to no benefits as I and my colleagues sit in air conditioned homes discussing 'big picture' church polity. Some have said 'We're not all called to that, some are called to the USA'. I believe that's true, however, I believe the gospel calls for suffering and trial... we spend our time getting comfortable and getting a nice paycheck. It's a challenge.
Creating this site for ACMI is somewhat therapeutic.
Okay, okay, okay...
Just recently got another poke in the ribs about my blog. I figured I'd update.
I find myself hesistant to discuss things on the blog when I'm thinking too heavily about personal matters. This forum isn't one that lends itself to expanding on those thoughts. Last night on Fox's 'Hannity and Colmbs', the Democrat Colmbs returned after his wedding and subsequent honeymoon. Sean Hannity began pushing him to show photos of the wedding or at least of his bride. Allan Colmbs said 'Show your family on National TV... I don't believe I've ever seen your wife and kids on our show.' Obviously Sean Hannity retracted and moved on. This is a similar thought process when it comes to the blogging world. You have to keep some things to yourself.
I'd give it a '9'
Today was a pretty good day for the life of Tally Wilgis.
Spoke this morning to the teens about 'Building our Worldview'. Talked about the fall of man and how that fall has led us for an ever-reaching search for joy and fulfillment. It's cool to see the eyes of kids open wide when it hits them.
My wife is an honest critic. I find myself asking how my message was. She's honest and fair. Today she said 'I loved it, I'd give it a 9'. Because my wife loves me so much she hasn't given me anything below a 6 so I have to translate everything on a 1-5 scale. So today's 9 was about a 4. She's a good woman.
It was also encouraging today to spend some time with my adult leadership. We grabbed lunch and then took a look at our ministry plan as we begin to 'reload' this summer and get at it again. Summer has been time of growth for my ministries these last two years. I just look at it as a time to go get the students while they're available. They're even more apt to go to 'church' events when they don't have sports, school and the ever illusive popularity ladder to climb.
My afternoon was short as we had a breath-taking 1.5 hours between our staff meeting and our 'Sonlight University' (growth classes). Hershel asked me to do the first 1/3 of his 101 class as he attended the bacalauret(?) of his oldest daughter who's graduting Thursday. The time with those adults was awesome. As much as I love seeing Students 'get it', I even love more the adults. They've been around the block and most of them havn't ever heard how God's plan meets their specific needs. We had about 15 new members join today b/c of 101. I really enjoyed the time spent with them and being able to teach them biblical truth.
After Hershel arrived, I was able to skip on over to my own 301 class where I sat under the direction of Steven Wales, our worship guy. This is the class dealing with your 'Shape'. I found out nothing new about myself but enjoyed the company. We had a funny group of people. Learning can be enjoyable and Steven did a good job keeping everyone on task in the midst of the humor. Kudos to Steven.
As the class ended and we were talking in the halls of the Foster's. Terri (F) asked if I was having problems with the Geo (my car). I said yeah but I'd be taking it into the shop tomorrow. She offered me the use of one of her vehicles. I first declined and was about to leave when she showed Steven one of the cars I turned down. It is a 1969 VW Bug. She uses it for fun. She then offered again and I said 'SURE'. How many times will a person get to drive a 69 Bug these days? It's more for the experience than the necessity. Anyway, I have a mint-green Bug sitting in my driveway. My wife just smiles and rolls her eyes as I tried to 'pick her up' while she's driving our jeep home.
Anyway. Today was a good day. Nothing extremely super-spiritual. Just enjoyed serving God, being with God's people and enjoying God's creation. I'd give it a '9'. :)
Taking most of my day for some thought, reflection and more thoughT
Quickly, Ben's Blog from yesterday is funny. He had his computer fried by a freak storm surge two weeks ago. He blogged yesterday from a Cox Communications place posing as a customer :)
Today, June 5th I've turned 25 years old. I am officially a quarter-century. I've also realized that according to statistics assuming I live a relatively complete life as an American Male, I'm about 1/3 of the way done this ride. Sobering, yet energizing.
I began a new book yesterday called Desiring God by John Piper. I was introduced to Piper just last week by Ben Arment from History Church. Piper's entire ministry is shaped from the concept that we are to be 'Christian Hedonists'. We are to live our lives in search of complete joy and happiness that every other human being searches for but the difference is that we are to search for it IN GOD. I'm only about 50 pages in but I'm actually finding this to be right up my alley.
I have for a while believed and taught that our 'End Game' was to "KNOW GOD". By 'Know' I've meant to have complete Intimacy in and with Him. Piper seems to have spent the last 30 years studying this same concept from the happiness and joy side of things. Although part of his thought pattern includes Calvanism, I've been able to ignore it for the sake of the ultimate truth he's getting at. It's not a light read by any standard (if you actually want to gain anything), but I've found it to be a fulfilling piece of work. Remember, I'm only 50 pages into 369 so if you've read it, give me some time.
One thing that's stuck out for me thus far is the concept of 'Praise'. Using references from C.S.Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms, Piper explains how we are more than happily fulfilled when we GIVE true praise to God. Lewis was battling the idea that God wants praise all of the time. Lewis couldn't understand why God was so stuck on himself with regard to people...
"But the most ovious fact about praise-- whether of God or any thing-- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought it in to check it. The world rings with praise- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least..."
God wants us to praise him b/c that's the OVERFLOW of our complete joy in Him. We can't help but to express our satisfaction in that which we gain great satisfaction. We tip our waiters, we cheer for our favorite sports team, we clap at a musical or speech. We are just designed to give praise as a COMPLETION of our enjoyment! Imagine these things without praise... How awkward would it be for a football game to be played in complete silence? Would the NBA finals be 'fan-tastic' without cheering from the stands?
So, my roadmark today is that I'm 25 now. I now have a more clear understanding of why God says that he only desires praise that is in 'spirit and in truth'. God only wants to be Glorified because if he recieves the glory, it means that we are Satisfied in Him. Just as you and I look at the Highway markers to see where we're going from here, my life has a marker on today to see how I responded now that I have this understanding of God.
FINAL THOUGHT: A quote hit me and I'll paraphrase "I don't want to simply be satisfied raking the surface of who God is when I can dig for the gold he has told me exists in Him." Don't ever stop digging. That process may be more dirty... may involve more time, but its so much more valuable than the safe route of manacuring your garden of nicely held beliefs. DIG into the depth of God and challenge your faith. You will surely find nothing but an endless supply of value and joy in the end.
I don't know if that is a word, but that's how I'd expect to describe my thoughts for today.
Steven (worship guy), Hershel (pastor), Ben Trueblood (church member) and I all spend this morning playing golf. We used up some free passes we got which were going to expire next week. Had a great time with the guys and just getting my mind relaxed (attempted anyway). Lets just say I got my money's worth (a blog isn't the place for my score).
Watched an interesting documentary on meditation. Some scientists have been studying meditation via different religions and the effects that it has on stress. They have conclusively found a link between stress and our immune systems. If a person is under stress, they call it the 'fight or flight syndrome'. The body shuts down some functions to allow us to focus on the immediate physical need at hand (i.e.: running away from a bad guy, picking up a heavy object to help someone, etc.) They demonstrated also how we are at our best in short bursts of this high-stress situation but that over any period of time it is actually dangerous to our bodies. Our muscles tence up which restricts bloodflow and decreases the productivity of our immune system. So over the course of our lives, we'd be better off to constantly remain as calm as possible.
I found this interesting b/c God's word has said this for 2000 years! Pray without ceasing (I Thes. 5:17), present your requests to God (don't stress) and 'what good is worrying?'
That show just encouraged my faith to the "N"th degree! I'm able to look at that show and see how my Gods love letter to me already prepared me for this life and what some perceive to be commands, are actually encouragements to a healthy life. I see how God has my best interest at heart. Not just spiritual, but even physical. He knows how (if left to our own devices) we'd mess up this body we're in. He knows that stress isn't healthy for us. God's pretty cool.
Strech Your Faith
We all get bothered by things. One of the things that bothers me is a Christian who doesn't long to grow closer to God. A Christian who does nothing to think outside their 'prescribed box' of who God is. Think how arrogant it is to think that we have 'made it' in our faith. Think how much there is left to discover about God... A Christian without growth I'm not so sure is actually a Christian. Bold I know, but I believe it. I just can't fathom how a person could 'get it' when it comes to how big our God is and then be content never to explore and find out more. What other relationship do we have that shows us that this is an appropriate response to someone we love and desire in our lives? Think back to your dating days. You wanted to spend every waking moment with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You wanted to know ALL about them. You probably talked for hours with them on the phone. You probably exchanged love letters along the way. But with God we have allowed 'the church' to be a place where if you make a statement 'I believe that Jesus died for me' that you get counted up as a full fledged Christ-Follower, are allowed to make decisions with the rest of the church, have your opinions heard and respected as legit and all the while never grow closer to God. It's amazing.
Get streched today. Read a book. Study another faith. Find out what makes Christianity true.
My friend John from Corpus Christi, TX and I talked last night. He told me of a book by Ravi Zacharius that reminds us that the USA is perfect for the Christian faith. Christianity is a fath that promotes your freedom to choose or deny God. Part of the faith itself is a buffet of options out there. Ultimately our faith isn't one that forces anyone b/c we believe you can't force a person to accept this Salvation. The USA is a perfect place for Christianity b/c we all have our choice and that's 'Okay'. Many in the world are so scared of your faith that they shut their borders down to you b/c of it. They realize the power of the Gospel of Christ. Yet we as American church-goers take for granted the awesomeness of knowing who God is. We allow our churches to beome nothing more than theaters or boyscout meetings. How I long for us to see something deeper.