Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whole World

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
- Mark 8:36

Those of you who know me well know that I am a HUGE Florida Gator fan. I live, sleep, eat, and breathe Florida Gator Football. Right now is an especially good time to be a Gator fan for a number of reasons. One, we're doing well. Two, we have a phenomenal quarterback. When I say that, I don't just mean in the athletic sense, but also in the sense of he as a person exemplifies what it means to be a Christian role model. A few weeks back, Mark 8:36 was placed under his eyes. My friend Julianne pointed it out, and it got me thinking, here this guys stands to make millions some day, but first and foremost recognizes all of that is worthless without God.

I am a solid year away from graduating, yet I'm still ever vigilant in the search for what is next- teaching, a career, grad school, law school, anything. All of these options have their positive points- time at home, great money, great connections, but in the midst of all of this, I rarely find myself asking the question, which way will allow me to serve God.

As I enter into what I hope will be my last year of school, I just ask for the wisdom to know what is right. If I am meant to teach, I ask that i will be placed in an area where I can minister to students. If I am in a job of financial wealth, I ask that I may be directed to give back in ways that will help others. If I am placed in a position of leadership, I ask that God's hand will guide all of my decisions.

The whole world is at our footsteps, but what have we gained if we have that, and nothing else.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What for but to shine.

We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works.-Ephesians 2:10 (NRSV)

As a part of human nature, I am constantly questioning things. Why did this event happen? Why did i make that decision? Why, why, why. Why? Because God wanted it to.

I look around at people, in my life and beyond, and I wonder, why do they do the things they do. I see people commite horrible crimes, and wonder how a loving God could let that happen. But then I realize out of every actions, comes a reaction- allowing God's love to shine forth. Sometimes I look at my friends and wonder how they can make such stupid decisions. And then I remember they are but God's children, and will stray from time to time. And I look at my own life, and realize all of the mistakes I have made and all the ways I have sinned. I know it's wrong, yet I still do it.

God created each and every one of us. he created us not out of greed, not out of desperation, not out of entertainment, but out of love. We were each created in Christ to do his good works. So why aren't we doing them?

Last week I had the chance to attend the National FFA Convention. I always leave in awe and inspired by things high school students- high school students- are doing in their communities. Raising money, building houses, feeding people, the list goes on. They are using God's creation for good works.

Matthew 5:16 (New International Version)-
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Their actions speak louder than words. Their good deeds and light shone forth to glorify God. So why can't mine?

We were each created in God's image to do good works. Sometimes our sin takes us away from that- it diminishes our ability to praise God because of the distractions in our life. I pray today that God will remove those distractions, will give me strength to resist sin, and will let my light shine forth for him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Jesus Nut

Make no friendship with a man given to anger,nor go with a wrathful man,or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.
Proverbs 22:24-25

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Tallahassee with my Grandma. Saturday night we went to mass and I heard a message that in a lot of ways, was exactly what I needed to hear. I know, not surprising that God tells us exactly what we need to hear in his house, but nonetheless it really got me thinking about my relationship with Christ and with other people.

The homily that day was about a lady who had written a book called "The Nut that Saved our marriage". It told a story of a woman whose son had come home from the Marines and was telling them about a helicopter, and how the blade was held on top by one little nut, called the Jesus nut. Why? Because through all things, if we have Christ we can survive. Without him, we are nothing. The helicopter, without the Jesus nut, could not function.

The homily went on further to say that if Jesus isn't the center bolt of our lives- if everything does not revolve around him, we won't reach new heights, and we will fail in all that we do.

So I started thinking about relationships. How many relationships with people do we have that are lacking Christ completely? I got to thinking about my friendships with people- and sadly, a lot of them revolve around things other than Christ. My friendship with my workout partner is all about the gym, but I rarely talk of my faith in there. My friendship with my classmates is all about school, and God certainly isn't found there. Even some of my purely social friendships revolve around anything but God- Gator tailgating, going out at night, hitting the beach. And how good are these relationship? None are the type to last forever.

I've had one friendship in particular that I've really struggled with lately. As I strive to surround myself with people who build me up, I find myself at odds with one of my closest friends. Some of the things they are allowing to influence them I fear are eventually going to tear us apart. But the one area I know will endure is our mutual love for Jesus Christ. While many times I have wanted to end or alter the friendship, I know that they need me as much as I need them- and that cutting someone out of my life is not the Christian example. It is because our friendship is centered on Christ that it must last.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Prov 17:17

On the flip side, I have another friendship where God's love is shining brighter than I ever could have imagined.  We've been friends for years now, but at different times we would grow distant, many times over petty things, then come back together.  Here recently though we've begun doing a devotional together, discussing it every few weeks.  This does two things- it makes Christ the center of our friendship, and holds us accountable to each other and to him for our actions.  In this way we are brothers in Christ and have a solid relationship that shows God's love.

So I feel like I'm rambling a bit here, but I want to boil this down into two points- one, we must have all of our relationships centered on Christ.  Two, we can't allow a relationship to fail simply because we disagree with the actions of a friend.  We must love them as God's love us and pray that we may be there for them.

Look into your life.  Are some of your friendships based on the beer in front of you, instead of the Bible in your backpack?  Do you have a relationship built purely on lust, and not on the heart  and emotion found in God's love?  Are you allowing something other than Christ to dominate the person you are and the relationship you have?  

Moving forward, I pray that I will have the faith and the ability to make Christ then center of all I do- work and lay, friends and family, labor and leisure.  And I pray that I will have God's hand to hold me up in times of adversity, for me, and for my brothers.