Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our goal(s) with God vs. God's goal with us - Part I

Today, the wordly philosophy has taken over Christianity more than ever, I believe. There are so many great philosphers and writers who said or say basically great things that sometimes even sound like a verse from the Bible. Personally I could say I like those a lot, too. But when taken a closer look, the biblical request for us and what God's plan is with and for us is slightly twisted. The danger is (and the devil knows that well!) if you take the truth and twist it just a tiny bit, the result will be far away from the intended goal. Just think of archery. If you have your arrow pointed only a millimeter to the side, you'll never hit the bull's eye. It may be close. But we won't get the prize.

This morning I read a devotional about obedience. (This is also a very unpopular word/mindset; you may find it only in the military, I think. Someone tells you something and you immediately do it without questioning the request. Everywhere else we are trained to challenge everything and to develop a unique opinion, view or argument. It's also a huge part of the so called individualism. "Find your true self.", "Believe in yourself.", "Don't let others judge you for being yourself." But I'm letting the mind wander.)
While reading the devotional I was thinking about what we usually hear and what I'm striving for:
* to love more
* to be more patient
* to sum it up just be a better Christian
* to grow closer to the Lord
* to be more Christ-like
* "to be continued"...
If you can relate yourself to that listing, I'd say we found some of "our goals with God".

I then realized those are all noble aims, but they all lie ahead and in the future because yet, I'm far away from those. But God's goal with us is *now*, right in this moment you are reading this. But at this point, I want Oswald Chambers to continue. He put it so much better than I ever could:
He made His disciples get into the boat
and go before Him to the other side . . . —Mark 6:45
We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God. God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself. God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

joy and strength

this morning I woke up with a certain scripture. After some research, I found it is written in Nehemiah. This is one of the rare situations that I like the German translation better than the English - it says something like "the joy in the Lord (or about the Lord) will give me strength".

So I started to think about what normally brings joy to a human being. It begins very early with birthday parties and Christmas - I think there's nothing like those days when we were little and someone gave us a a gift and it turned out to be something we wished to have for a long time.

I am very sure that this is not the kind of joy the Bible speaks about. Yes, we are happy and motivated for a certain time. I remember when we got games for Christmas, we could play with them all day long - but only for a certain time. And then to play with it got "normal" and wasn't as exciting as in the beginning. So that kind of joy gave some energy, but it was good or used for the subject itself and gone soon enough.

So what does it mean to be joyful in the Lord or feel joy about the Lord? It is a joy that doesn't revolve around my ego or comes from dreams that came true or desires that were fulfilled. It's not the joy about the blessings He gives me (I am thankful for those, though, that's not the point). Summarized, it is not the joy that comes from the things I recieve from God like forgiveness of sin, a holy life, gifts (of the spirit) and blessings. It is pure delight in the fact of knowing Jesus intimately and to only concentrate on Him as a person. I tried this today. Even if it hadn't had the side effect of providing an inner strength I didn't know before, I would like to encourage you to seek Him and get to know Him better! You will find a treasure unknown!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Decisions Part 2, current example

Last year I had this post about how we have to decide things on a daily basis and how we can do it in a right way as Christians. Ever since I wanted to sit down and put some thoughts up here but I either had not the time (or I didn't take the time for it) or it was so much that I was thinking about and experienced according to that matter, that I didn't know how to sum it up. So I will have this post and probably another, last one, to conclude the topic.

So let me explain my current situation about a decision I think I should take. It's about a relationship to a certain man, let's call him Mr. Smith. He's a colleague and we are good friends. Ten years ago we worked together, now - during the past 7 years - I am at a different place but in the same house and so we still have lunch together every day. Sometimes I feel I should draw back from this friendship because he is married and somehow I know he wants more. He does not take actions to make it clear but now and then he drops certain hints that are definitely suggestive when we are alone... It's probably the old "Harry and Sally" - question (can men and women be just friends?). On the other hand, he really takes care - like: last week I had to have a suspicious mole cut out and he remembered that I had mentioned it a couple days earlier. That day he sent me a text and asked me to let him know if that "mini-surgery" went fine although he was sure that it was not a big deal, he just wanted to know I was well afterwards. When I am not at work he always calls me at home to hear how I am doing.
And yes, that makes me feel good, someone is taking care of my well-being. On the other hand it makes me feel bad because I am obviously taking his attention and he often enough notes that his wife should never know of it. That's the point when I feel like I'd love to run away.

I admit that I always tried to avoid to think about my situation during the last years. But the past two or three weeks it stood out bold and I thought I should take action and "break up" that friendship. First, I just wanted to have it come to an end so that I would feel better according to what I believe is the right thing to do. But the more I pray and study I think I should wait for God in this case. 

A week ago I read in a devotional specifically that we should not end friendships just because we feel bad about it. It could cause difficulties that would take years to fix. We should God have take care of it.
Today I read that our obedience always costs something for our neighborhood. We willingly obey Jesus because we love him, but our obedience will cross the plans of those around us and hence will bring up difficulties.

So, what?

Sometimes the Bible doesn't give us an answer on specific things like "you should stop meeting Mr. Smith" but it holds a truth that always shows the same patterns. And this will always help us to take the right decision. Not based on feelings or shady signs we may pray for and/or might interpret into certain situations. We don't believe in signs, but in a living God, don't we?

Joseph fled to escape Potiphar's wife. It caused difficulties (sent him directly into prison). But he obeyed God which definitely crossed her plans. But he had to respond quickly in his situation, she draw him into her bedroom.
Reading the text again I referred to in the first place about not ending a friendship out of our feelings, I see, that it speaks about how God sometimes puts us in a situation that is not clear and we should not fill that empty space with actions that come from our uncomfortable feelings about it. Like Abraham. He was waiting for the promised son, who didn't show up and so he took an action to "help" God.

In my case, there's no chance we will get close to any bedroom and there's no reason for me now to take an action more than ever just because I feel more uncomfortable now than before. Also, usually we are not alone in the same room for more than a couple of minutes.
But I definitely will not allow suggestive talk in the future, which I failed to forbid often enough in the past. Above all, I pray that I will not deny Jesus in any way I behave, as I did by just remaining silent too many times. I already started to change my way of interaction and as a result I didn't get a phone call today (I am sick home)...

Friday, December 30, 2011

between the years

that's how the week between Christmas and New Year is called in Germany. Usually I really don't like that phrase because, well, I think I don't have to explain there is no such a thing like "between the years".

Anyway, this past week I have felt exactly like that - between the years, or maybe between something. It was a hard week for me, at many levels, but it made the little moments of joy even more precious.

Like getting a late Christmas card from my dear friend Anju from India. She made it all by herself!

Another highlight was reading a printed version of M's blogpost. It's the best blogpost I've read for a long time! "Best" is far away from describing it in an appropriate way, but "most beautiful", "awesome", "honorable" and "deep" are kinda worn out and don't do it justice anyway.

Then another letter of an old friend, a lady who could be my grandmother or rather is better than the biological grandmothers I had... and whom I know my whole lifetime. It was typewritten and very personal. The wisdom of godly women can't be held high enough!

Today I feel blessed. And excited about the year to come. May it take me closer to my precious Jesus, whether it brings pain or joy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

wedding gift

Two weeks ago a colleague, Hildegard (yes, that's her real name and she just turned 30 this summer!) got married. As usually, everyone else of our team at work spent some money for her wedding gift and I was the one to collect it and turn it into a gift.
When I was in the same situation in summer to collect the money for her birthday gift and had asked her what she would like, she had no idea. So this time I didn't ask long and decided to just give the money to her (young married couples always need money anyway) and only would put it in a special box or something that had to look fancy (because it was a wedding gift) and was not so very expensive (because I wanted to give her as much money as possible and spend the least amount of it).
So I went to a special place and bought a hollow body shaped like a lighthouse (approx. 4 Euro) and a small wooden box (I think it was 2 Euro) and some decoration sand.
I cut a shoe box open at 2 sides, took a lot of old newspaper together with wallpaper paste and created a rock, painted the lighthouse and the box and put it together.
Finally I cut brown paper in a boat shape to have people sign it as a card and made a flag that had the wedding blessing on it.
That's how it turned out: