Thursday, July 30, 2009

Righteousness (Follow-up)

So this morning I came across this verse in Romans 8:10
"10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."

...and decided to pursue this line of thought after my questions yesterday about whether my prayers will amount to anything, or whether I am righteous "enough".

Silly, of course not! I, me, Josh is not righteous. But Christ is, and His spirit is in me. That's why when God looks on me He doesn't see sin and unfaithfulness, but rather He sees Christ.

But I have a responsibility to "wear" the righteousness:
Ephesians 6:10-18 describes putting on the armor of God, including the breastplate of righteousness.

2 Timothy 22 says we must "pursue righteousness"

So it's not something that just "happens", but rather something that requires me to be intentional about.

Baby steps....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Righteous vs. Wicked

I read some of Proverbs today, and reflecting on the contrasts it provides.
Primarily: Fool vs. wise man and Righteous vs. Wicked.

As I read through the descriptions of the "wicked" man, I feel fairly confident that that's not me! But does that mean since I'm not "wicked" therefore I am "righteous"? Is it one or the other? Can we be both? Is there somewhere in between.

This year I have been trying to focus on prayer. What is it? How do I do it? Is it effective? etc... A challenging thought for me has been found in James 5:16 - "The prayers of a righteous man accomplishes much" (other versions..."are powerful and effective")

I know that during our time on Earth, we never will "arrive" at completeness spiritually, but I feel like I've barely begun the journey, and question whether I am righteous (ever), whether my prayers are effective. Ironically, I know that they are, as I've clearly seen God's hand guiding my life, and have received answers to prayer, and have grown in my faith.

James 1:5-8 speaks to this as well:
5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

I admit that I sometimes buy into the lie and gnawing doubts. I hear the voice in my head "Maybe I shouldn't even bother praying. I'm not sure it's effective, and since I have doubts, that passage in James says nothing will happen because I'm double-minded."

I've been encouraged though by the men's leadership team at church to remember that I cannot improve myself. I cannot pull myself up by my own boot straps, and just get more faith. I have to ask God for that. Which means I have to pray.

So despite the lying whispers, the fears of failure, the foolish thinking of "Is my faith enough?", I am trying to persist in prayer.
God, enlarge my faith. Give me eyes to hear, and ears to hear what you would have me know of you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Family Friday

Friday started out a little odd, but ended better.
At work, we usually have "Fellowship Friday" where we have lunch together. Yesterday, they had decided to just get ice cream cake for dessert. Cool. So I go out and get some lunch, walk into the HR area, and there's everyone eating lunch!...catered from Golden Corral. Oops, no one told me the plan change.

No worries though, I was content with the food I had, and still got some ice cream cake. The rest of the afternoon, work was off-an-on, busy-wise. It was going real slow for a couple hours until I got tasked with a bit of an overhaul project. No problem, I'm good at those, and was feeling a bit bored/restless. But once I'm mid-way through the project - boxes and files strewn all over the place - I get the word that we can go home early. I scramble to get stuff squared away and stowed away, but am definitely the last to leave.

Now, I'm not complaining...I'm observing: I don't think it's coincidence. When I was at WCHS, I was nearly always the last to leave, and often the only teacher working on evenings and weekends. Any time I've done a mission trip or volunteer-type activity, I've often found myself to be one of the last to "knock off". Even now with the sound job at church, I'm supposed to be the one to arm the alarm and lock up after rehearsals, so I'm again the last to leave.

What's weird is that I'm often self-conscious about how lazy I am. In my day I've spent many a weekend firmly planted on a couch playing video games or reading. But then sometimes it seems that I really work my tail off. So maybe I'm just all-on or all-off.

Jeez, did I digress or what!

Anywho, I still got home earlier and Wendy decided we could go out to eat. We went to Rockbottom (my first time). Afterwards, we walked over to the Summer Jam Sessions that were going on. Guess they're doing free music and vendor booths, etc. on Friday nights during the summer. We got some free/discounted stuff, but my favorite part was the two conversations I got to have.

First with Jon Elsberry from church, who I've had a few one-on-one talks about prayer, faith, etc. I really enjoy our conversations and am always encouraged to press on in my personal walk with God after a few minutes with him.

Second, I got to meet and chat with Wendy LaBree. She's a co-host for the morning show on KVOR 740 AM - the local conservative talk radio station. She sounds fun and nice on the air, and is even more so in person! She was a bit enamored with Cosette (duh - who isn't). She even gave a little eagle sculpture to Cosette, and gave us passes to the El Paso County Fair, so we'll probably hit that next weekend.

She also mentioned that they've been hiring a lot, and are still looking for people. That'd be cool to work at a radio station! Here's a picture of us Wendy took with my phone:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thank God! (Literally)

So there are basically 3 radio stations that I listen to:
1. KVOR (talk radio) - 80% of the time
2. KBIQ (Christian) - 15%
3. KCME (classical) - 5%

On my drive this morning, all three were on commercial breaks and I had a little ADD going, so I flipped to the local pop/rock station 99.9 (not sure what the call letters are) and it sounded like it might be some fun morning-jock tom-foolery. I think the hosts are John J, Rich, and Kerry...or something.

It turned out to be a bit of Jerry Springer-ish soap opera tom-foolery, but I'll admit I got a bit sucked in and left it on. (But it's ok, I'm extrapolating an important point at the end!)
A woman named Lisa was having them help find out if her husband was cheating. They had the host (Kerry) call the guy (Isaac) and say he won a dozen roses, who would he like to send them to? He started to tell her to write a note "Can't stop thinking about you" to some girl in his office, and his wife (Lisa) on the line jumped in saying, "What are you doing, Isaac? Why...?" *sobbing*

Busted. Another 10-15 minutes of "discussion" ensued between the husband, wife, radio hosts, and random people calling was ugly.

My reaction (beyond the somewhat-entertained, similar to slowing down to check out a car accident) was the usual mixture of shaking my head "I don't get it" fare. When other people make horrible decisions that ruin their lives, it's easy to shake our heads and not understand how they couldn't see the danger/error.

I think about how lost people are without the big missing puzzle piece in their life: Christ. What kind of husband/father would I be if I hadn't made Christ the center pillar of my marriage? I have enough temptations/sins/failures as it is...I shudder to think how my life would be going apart from Christ.

I'm truly amazed when I hear of a decades-long, love-filled marriage of non-Christians. I know this may sound a bit over-simplified, but if you don't base a marriage on Christ, you're basing it on the person you are and the person you love, right? But how can a love established on sinful/flawed people result in anything but hurt, disappointment, bitterness, infidelity, etc?

So my extrapolation is this: thank the Lord for His love and mercy that have changed (and continue to change) my heart so that I can be a person who loves more than I would otherwise be capable. I'm grateful that Wendy and I have had almost 8 years of a wonderful marriage in which we are in this triune relationship that is stronger than if it was just the two of us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

To Epiphany, or Not To Epiphany?

Ok, epiphany isn't actually a verb (but wouldn't it be cool if it was?).
I just liked the sound of the phrase as a couple more epiphanies have hit me recently. Though, perhaps I should stop throwing "epiphany" around so much...seems to lessen it's significance as a special event if I have one almost every week; but then again, maybe I'm just in a great season of growth.

As to whether I want more of these "revelations" or not, a new twist has been added. 99% of the time, it seems that when I have one of these experiences, it is very positive, affirming, full of hope and joy in the newly-gained knowledge and wisdom. The twist is, apparently an epiphany can reveal something dark, sad, evil, painful. Then I am tempted to wish I hadn't had the epiphany!

Which brings me to another touchy subject (for me, at least): do I blog about what I've recently realized? Thus far, I have been pretty open about my thoughts/experiences...even vulnerable. But there are a couple of subjects that I've not referenced here...and I'm not sure I want to. To me, that's a sign that these parts of my life are still tightly entwined with pain, fear, and/or shame. Heck, to admit that like I just did is vulnerable in and of itself, but doesn't hold a candle to the can of worms I'm toying with opening.

It's not that I feel threatened by my "followers". To my knowledge, I don't really have "enemies", and only friends and family (maybe 10 people) will even read this. I'm sure that if I start unfolding my heart and subjects that are difficult for me, if anyone were to leave a comment it would be comforting, affirming, encouraging, etc...even if some "tough love" type critique was thrown in, that'd be ok since it would be out of love.

Yet once the can of worms is open, and the cat is out of the bag, and the bus has left the station, can't undo it. Am I worried that people's view of me will be radically altered? Is there a limit to how much I should share in this "public diary"? (I'm not talking graphic, inappropriate stuff, just personal stuff) Perhaps it would be even more progress into my "journey" to rip off the bandaid and allow the discussion and healing begin.

So, this is a work-in-progress as I continue to digest and think about it. If you have thoughts/comments, I'd love to hear them.