People as Cars

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60-55-50-40-30-20-10-0. My poor Subaru came to a dead halt on Jess and my 2nd anniversary date. People as cars? But people are not cars! I can see how they are after this past week.

Just as my car went down from 60-0mph in a minute, so God has had to do with me at various times throughout the week. I’ll be going 60mph down my “life as a highway” mindset and be trying to get done as much as possible, when God slowly takes me down to 0mph.

Why would a gracious, loving God do this you ask? Well, out of gracious love! He knows the truth of His Word, that we must live out “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Jesus did this often, withdrawing to pray to the Father despite all the hectic-ness of life being a professional healer and having people constantly following Him (Mark 1:35). He knew the importance of taking time out of His busy schedule for His Heavenly Father.

Unfortunately, most of us get going on our 60mph highway and don’t take time to acknowledge The Lord and be reminded, through prayer and The Word, of who He is and what His attributes are, such as the Creator of everything!

As I came across in our (Jess and my) Proverbs reading yesterday, Solomon speaks through inspiration of the Spirit as such: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”(Proverbs 3:6, NASB)

Now the Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is יָדָע (yadah) and means “know Him”. It includes mental awareness of who God is and the consequential submission to His lordship. So to know Him is to obey Him. Think about it, if you really know the Lord, who He is, what He is like, and acknowledge those truths about Him in all you do, then you will want to be submissive to His ways!

Sadly, at various points in my week, I don’t “know Him” in all I do. If I knew Him in everything I did, then I would always acknowledge His θελεματος (Thelematos: will, desire, and pleasure) for my life above my own selfish one that I think will work out better.

So I took my car into the shop. “Your Subaru will be fixed in a couple hours. It just needs a complete re-learning program installed for how to shift gears.” Strange, I thought it was just transmission fluid. Next thing I know, they called me saying, “That didn’t entirely fix it, but we found a corroded part on the ignition, however, the parts department is closed, so we’ll do it on Tuesday and you’ll be good to go.” Corroded ignition? Sure enough, that didn’t fix it either, though it sure was a good thing to get fixed!

Next up they said, “Well, we washed it and drove it around a bit more, and now it’s doing the same thing as before. It might be something electrical, so we’ll get back to you at the end of the day and maybe have it done by tomorrow, go ahead and keep your spare car for another day.” Wow, they sure are fixing a lot of stuff wrong with my car; but they sure wouldn’t have known about them if they knew the solution by the beginning!

So how are we like cars? Just like my Subaru, the Holy Spirit guides me into a truth of my imperfection and I bring it to the Lord. Not only does He forgive me, He does much more than I expect. It’s like how I went to the ‘Subaru fixers’ and said, “My transmission is going bad!” and they guided me into the truth that it was something entirely different that was having an effect on the transmission. They guided me, and are continuing to, into the truth of the matter and have fixed a lot of other things along the way. They’ve let me know what it was that was wrong, but fixed it for me without charging me any extra.

Really, it’s similar to going to God, in that Jesus cleanses us spiritually through the forgiveness He offers through His death and resurrection. All we need to do is say, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, I’ve messed up. Please heal me and help me to walk in Your ways.” This is another way to say Psalm 139:24, “see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (NASB).

Then, through prayer and His Word, He guides us into what our imperfections are and personally works through our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit to heal us.The Spirit starts a work of bringing God’s Word to our remembrance (John 14:26) and ministers to us in the steps He wants us to take to live for Him as revealed in His glorious Word.

In a way, just as I gave my Subaru over to the ‘Subaru fixers’, we give our lives over to Christ as the first step. Then, we are led into truths (John 16:13) of how to maintain our spiritual lives: Revering God and keeping His commandments. “For this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Keeping God in reverence in our lives, that is, through The Fear of the Lord, which is a gift from the Spirit of God (Isaiah 11:2), is how we will acknowledge Him, and He will in turn, make our paths straight.

Soon, my Subaru’s gadgets will be made straight because I humbly gave it over to the people who knew how to fix it instead of trying to do it on my own. Give your life over to Christ, who knows how to fix you spiritually, He’s the only One who can and the only One who will. Remember the truth of James 4:6: “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Beyond the Ballot

     It was off to the ballots! I headed out at 6:35 and made it to the ballot place at 6:56. 7pm cutoff time. I wasn’t expecting much to go on there beyond filling out a ballot and leaving, but God had more in mind for me beyond the ballot.

Divine appointments and opportunities:
      When I arrived, the first person I noticed was an old friend from high school of mine. I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years and called out to him from the back of the line. This led into a great conversation in which we concluded we should have a sort of reunion with our high school group of guys. This would provide a great opportunity to share my faith in the future.

      The next man I met was a local in Boulder by the name of Bruce. I shared my faith with him and wasn’t surprised when he said he was a believer who went to church nearby. I knew after the fact that he shared to me he was housing some people at his house. In my mind, before I told him about my faith, I was thinking ‘that’s a very Jesus like thing to do.’ We had good conversations about spreading the Gospel and about the Lord’s hand at work.
      During this conversation, a man came up to me asking if he could interview me. “Of course!” I said. I was given the opportunity to share my views and about Jesus through this interview that could possibly be on NPR. Please pray for it to be!
      Directly afterwards, I got the opportunity to start up a conversation with a lady in front of me named Casey. After overhearing the interview, she knew I believed in Jesus, so I got the awesome opportunity to be used by God as a potential small stepping stone in her life to Christ.

      I got to the ballot and, after having registered that morning, discovered my county had changed (oh the joys of moving very often as a college student). I was the last to vote in line, and didn’t get to after about two hours of waiting. I told the lady that I had been given many opportunities while I was there and wasn’t discouraged.

      I left the small mennonite church in Boulder to walk by a bus stop on the way to my car. There was a man named Derek sitting by the bus stop. He looked as a spitting image of a man that I met in the summer not far from there named Richard. A half black man with dreads and a hat on with a backpack-looking like he’s going on a journey. He asked how I was doing and I told him “well, I just got denied to vote”. We got into a deeper conversation and I asked what he believed spiritually. He said he believed many different things, a type of pick and choose religion. He then asked what my beliefs were and I told him (paraphrase) “I believe the only real Truths out there are Jesus and The Bible. When I sold out to Jesus and didn’t just ‘try Him out’ is when I realized that He was Truth and entered into a real relationship with Him beyond religious duties.”(John 14:6, 17:17)
      I then had the opportunity to share the story of how I met Richard not even a block away from there. How while I was on a prayer walk, Jesus told me, through His guiding Spirit, to turn down the narrow, dark path when I could have gone down the sidewalk that had lights all along it. That’s where I ran into Richard and was able to speak Truth into his life during his journey. (John 14:17)
      Please join me in prayer for all these people, that God would draw them to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Application:
      There’s a lot more to voting then pen to paper, or dropping off the ballot. The voting ballot is very much a place that people are forced into patience and open to conversation. There aren’t many places like that anymore. At the grocery store, you run around, get your stuff, often check it out on your own in self checkout, and leave. There isn’t a lot of social opportunity these days as an adult. Many jobs are ones you can work at independently. You don’t have to wait in line inside a fast food restaurant-you can just go through the drive thru. Even in church, people can be independently there and choose to not talk to anyone-just come right when the service starts and leave.
      This night inspired me: God is a relational God. There’s a lot more beyond the ballot for us to be aware of. God can do more with a conversation than a piece of multiple choice paper. However, don’t get me wrong, I still believe strongly that everyone should vote as if there vote is the one that’s going to shift the majority. Your vote is a gift from God to fulfill Exodus 18:21: “But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes.” How much more must we fulfill this today, in our broken nation, in comparison to Israel? We must, people of God, we must.

God using Hot Sauce on our Acts of Service

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If you’ve ever had school lunches, you know they’re pretty bad. At least at college dining halls they have healthy options, but sometimes, or a lot of the time, they don’t taste very good. I’ve had a meal plan throughout college and always had a big lunch regardless of the taste.

My secret? Douse it with a bunch of sriracha. This way, I could make even the bad tasting stuff I was eating taste good. Similarly, God does this with our acts of service that are often, if not always, tainted by our sin. No matter how bad it is He will use it for His good, even if it tastes bad (Romans 8:28). Now, it’s better for us to try and find healthy, good tasting food in the first place so we don’t have to put sriracha on it, but regardless, I end up eating what’s on my plate, and God ends up using what we give Him through the power of Jesus Christ living through us as believers.

On a similar note, Jesus sings for us, perfecting our worship so our worship, it certainly will never be perfect on its own: See http://www.zachicks.com/blog/2013/1/1/jesus-sings-for-us-the-good-news-about-our-bad-worship.html

God will use whatever we give that is on our plate, even if it is bad (which it usually is), for His glory. I think of the story of the prayer of the Pharisee and of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14:

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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When the hot sauce hurts

Even our ‘best’ acts of service are often tainted by pride or some minuscule underlying reason that we either ignore or don’t notice. We have to admit at one point, we have all thought we were better than others; although we are not called to compare ourselves to others, but to Jesus (2 Cor 10:12). It is better for us to follow God’s plan for us perfectly or as perfectly as we can because “The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.”(Proverbs 10:29) After all, you can only have so much sriracha before it hurts your stomach and gives you health problems from the amount of salt!

It reminds me a lot of this song: Sovereign over Us, especially @ 2:49:

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Verses for today

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

(2 Corinthians 10:12)

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.