Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Here is some stuff I have been learning in Theology class :]

Why should I personally obey God? I have thought about this question for some time and have come up with a simple yet all encompassing answer: Because He is GOD! His character, perfections, and attributes are many and are mostly all unfathomable. I made a small list of these that mean the most to me that I could answer this question with. Here's why I should obey God.

He is omniscient. God's knowledge extends to everything past, present, and future. He knows everyone's thoughts, intents, motives, decisions, possibilities, etc… at all times and has known them forever. He knows everything about us, nature, the world, the universe, heaven, hell, and even the materials your shoes are made of and where they came from. God knows EVERYTHING! 1 John 3:20b (NASB-U) says, "For God is greater than our heart and knows all things." Matthew 10:30 (NASB-U) says, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Romans 11:33 (NLT) says, "Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!" Isaiah 40:14 (NIV) says, "Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?" God knows everything, has always known everything, and needed no one to tell Him any knowledge He did not already know.

He is omnipotent. God can do anything He wants to do. He has the power to create anything or destroy anything. His power is unlimited and unmatched. He has power and control over everything. His power though, has to be consistent with His nature. Jeremiah 32:17 (NLT) says, "O Sovereign Lord! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power. Nothing is too hard for you!"

He is omnipresent. God is everywhere all the time; and all the time, God is everywhere. He has no limit to where He can be at any given time and can be everywhere He wants all at the same time. Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NLT) says, "'Am I a God who is only in one place?' asks the Lord. 'Do they think I cannot see what they are doing? [24] Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?' asks the Lord."

He is holy. God is distinctively different and set apart from anything else. No one is like Him and no one will ever be like Him. He is 100% pure and good. He is totally separate and free from any uncleanliness, evil, and defilement. Leviticus 11:44 (NLT) says, "After all, I, the Lord, am your God. You must be holy because I am holy. So do not defile yourselves by touching any of these animals that scurry along the ground." Isaiah 40:25 (NIV) says, "'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One."

He is sovereign. God has complete and ultimate control of everything in existence. He makes all things happen for His purpose. This does not mean that He controls us like puppets, micromanages everything, and doesn't let us choose or have freewill. He lets things happen that sometimes He wouldn't want to happen but is necessary to fulfill His purpose. Job 42:2 (NLT) says, "I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you." Daniel 4:35 (NIV) says, "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'" Psalm 135:6 (NLT) says, "The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths."

He is love. I cannot actually fully comprehend this one. God's love is way beyond my imagination or knowledge. I will try and attempt to say what I do know about His love though. 1 John 4:8-10 (NASB-U) says, "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. [10] In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." John 3:16 (NIV) says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Romans 5:8-9 (NIV) says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Wow! Why God loves us this much is way beyond my understanding. This though is the greatest example of love that has ever been expressed. That is why God is love as John says. His love is not just limited though to His love He expressed by sacrificing His Son, but He also loves us by discipline, rebuke, and judgment. He knows exactly how to love us and what we need. That is true love. His perfect love is shown through His perfect grace, His perfect mercy, and His perfect goodness.

He created me. This is pretty simple but is essential to answering this question. Because God made me He owns me and it is my obligation to obey Him, it is only natural to obey Him, and He wants me to obey Him. He also showed me His perfect love even before I obeyed Him by sacrificing His Son to die for my sins; and because I accepted that free gift of salvation from judgment on my sins, I should obey Him even more. He bought me with the blood of His Son and gave me new life by Jesus rising from the dead.

He has proved Himself worthy to be obeyed. Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament God has shown love to His people and to the world even when He needed no proof to be obeyed but He did anyways. He gave everyone a chance to personally see, hear, or read what He has done to prove that He is worthy to be obeyed and praised. He has done this through His creation and through His written Word. No one is without excuse to obey Him because of creation but we can know Him better through His Word. And this is why I should personally obey God. Enough said.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Back at school!

I am so excited to be back here! WOOOOOOOOT!

Thank you so much for praying for me and supporting me to come back!

So I'm just starting to get back in the groove of things and definitely being challenged to step it up a notch, take responsibility for what God has given me, and stay sober-minded, focusing on the prize at the end of the race.

Please keep praying for me and feel free to contact me any time. I will be putting more posts up throughout this week to tell you a little more about whats going on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hey everyone! This break has been awesome to spend time with my family and friends here in California and I am so thankful for the relationships He has provided.

Just to give you an update on school... I need help. I have been called by God and I am being equiped to go and tell the Gospel of Grace to tribal peoples who have never heard the good news and do not have the Bible written in their language. I am so thankful for what the Lord has taught me through this last semester at New Tribes Bible Institute and I am planning on going back this semester on the 13th of January. I do not have all the finances though for this semester. Please be praying about if you would start this life long journey of full time ministry with me. I can not do this alone. I need people behind me, supporting me with prayer and finances. And I would absolutely love joining you in your journey and praying for you. Please call me or e-mail me for more details.

For His Glory,
Daniel Hoeppner
cell: 925-518-2448

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I’ve been learning so much here at New Tribes and I wanted to write down just few things that I have learned in God’s Word. Take your time reading these. I hope and pray they are a blessing to your life. There are many themes in these stories and I just wanted to point out a few.
This story you probably know so I won’t restate it, but there are some amazing things in the story of creation. So God created everything right? Well where did it come from? Where did the idea of everything that is in existence come from? Where did emotions come from? When God created, He made all things in existence from Himself. He thought up everything! The idea of the human body is His. The idea of the cell is His. The idea of the solar system is His. The idea of the platypus is His. God is amazingly knowledgeable and wise beyond our comprehension. “Be Skillful” by Warren W Wiersbe says, “The astronomer watching a comet through a telescope and the biologist peering at a cell through a microscope are both discovering God’s wisdom, for scientific study is but the act of thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” God is so amazing! And not only did He think of these things, He created them. And He created them by just speaking them into existence. Crazy! Some themes of God’s story of creation are God is the author of everything, it was his idea; God is all powerful, He can do anything He wants; God is eternal, he has no beginning or end; God is love, He defines love because He is love, He created man because he is love; and God is Holy (holy means set apart or unique), He is infinitely unique because He defines Holiness.
A major theme in the story of Abraham is man must have faith in God to be saved. His faith was evident through his obedience to God of leaving his country and his family. He believed what God had promised him.
“And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
[3] And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
And because he believed what God promised, he obeyed and left everything behind for a land that God would show him. “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” By faith Abraham was saved. Versus in Hebrews 11 also sate his faith.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. [9] By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise.” “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son.”
Man’s responsibility is faith in God. Romans 4:5 says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” John 5:24 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” So throughout the Bible, it is clearly stated that faith in God alone saves man from death.
Joseph was son of Jacob, who was son of Isaac, who was son of Abraham. Jacob loved all his sons but loved Joseph more than all his sons and gave him a multi-colored tunic. Joseph had two dreams where one was his brothers sheaves bowing down to his sheaf, and the other was the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. His brothers hated him and were jealous of him because he had these dreams that foretold future events and because his father loved him more. Therefore, his brothers wanted to kill Joseph and plotted to do so. Rueben, one of Joseph’s brothers and the first born to Jacob, did not want to kill him and convinced his brothers to only throw him into a pit so he could rescue him later. After he was thrown into the pit, Judah, another brother, convinced all the brothers to sell him as a slave to some Ishmaelites that were passing by to go down to Egypt. The brothers then tricked Jacob into thinking Joseph was devoured by a wild animal by dipping Joseph’s multi-colored tunic in blood.
In Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, the captain of the bodyguard of Pharaoh. God was with Joseph and made him successful and prosperous in everything he did. Potiphar saw that God was with Joseph and put him in charge of his whole house. Potiphar’s wife, though, falsely accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her because Joseph refused to sleep with her, and Joseph was put in jail. The chief jailer saw also what Potiphar saw in Joseph and he put him in charge over supervising all the prisoners. The Pharaoh’s cupbearer and chef were prisoners in jail at this time and both had dreams that could not be interpreted. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret their dreams because he believed God and they came true. The cupbearer was put back in his position but the chef was killed. Pharaoh had a dream later and he called all interpreters of dreams in Egypt to interpret his dream but they could not interpret it. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about the dream Joseph interpreted for him, so Pharaoh called Joseph to interpret his dream. Joseph gave all the glory to God for interpreting the cupbearer’s dream and humbled himself. God gives Joseph the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and explains that there will be seven years of abounding food and then seven years of famine. Pharaoh then makes Joseph ruler of Egypt, second to Pharaoh, to oversee that they gather food for the famine.
After the seven years of abundance, the famine came just as interpreted. Joseph’s brothers were sent to Egypt because there was no food in the land and Egypt was the only one with food. His brothers did not recognize him when they saw him. He tested them to see the intent of their heart if it was still evil but they were convicted about selling Joseph into slavery and changed their heart. Joseph reveals himself to them and sends to bring his father, Jacob, and his whole family to live in Goshen, prime time real estate in Egypt.
God is so awesome! I love this story because it just shouts God’s character. A very big theme in this story is the exaltation of God. In His stories, God very often exalts himself. This is seen in this story of Joseph explaining to Pharaoh that he himself cannot interpret dreams but that God is creator of everything including dreams and that He has the wisdom to interpret dreams. God wants to exalt himself so people can know Him. God also in this story exalts himself by simply staying true to His character. He fulfills all the dreams that he created in the first place showing that He is the author of everything, He knows everything, and is sovereign; He restores Joseph back to his family showing that again God is sovereign, He knows all things, and is loving; and ultimately God works this whole story for the good of Joseph, even with man sinning in the beginning of it, showing God’s sovereignty, knowledge, mercy, grace, and man’s depravity and sinful heart.
The 12 Spies
A little background to the story, the nation of Israel had been in bondage in Egypt for 400 years. Moses led God’s people out of Egypt by His power, and the nation was promised the land of the Canaanites. God showed his amazing power through 10 plagues against the Egyptians and the parting of the Red Sea for Israel to escape Pharaoh. After the exodus, God had given Israel the Law so they could have a relationship with a Holy and Righteous God. God showed his Glory multiple times to the people through a cloud on Mount Sinai and through the cloud that guided them in the wilderness. While on the way to the land of the Canaanites, the people again and again forgot about where the Lord had brought them from and His miraculous signs He showed them, and they complained about food and water. God again and again supplied their needs though.
Then we come to the 12 spies. Once the nation of Israel was near the land, Moses sent in 12 spies to check the land and see what the people were like. After spying the land for 40 days, they came back and reported to Moses what they had seen. They told him that the land is flowing with milk and honey, and they bought back huge grapes, pomegranates, and figs. Although, they said that the cities are well fortified and the people are very strong. Everyone except Caleb and Joseph believed that God gave them the land and that they could take it because God was on their side. Because of the people’s unbelief, God sent them into the wilderness for 40 years to kill off the unbelieving generation but spared Caleb and Joseph for their faith.
I know from just looking in on your life from the outside that you can relate to this story, as well myself. Again and again I can see myself seeing God in so many ways in my life, through the good and the bad, and again and again I grumble and complain about my life and disobey God with my actions by just not believing His Word and who He is. I don’t recognize the truth that I am depraved, sinful, and helpless without God and that I need Him more than anything else in life. He is the one and only thing I should be living for in life because he bought me with a price of His Son’s life and my life doesn’t belong to me anymore because I accepted God’s free gift of salvation. God owns us.
Through this story, God is also seen as holy, loving, merciful, and gracious. Through all the circumstances that made Israel grumble and complain, God still provides for them and extends love, mercy, and grace. He also is seen as just though for Israel’s unbelief and punishes them for it.

After the unbelieving generation had died in the wilderness, God put Joshua in charge of the nation and conquering the land that God had already given them. The first city that he conquers is Jericho. This city had huge walls and was well fortified. God instructed Joshua and Israel to march around the city once for six straight days and on the seventh day to march around seven times. After the seventh time on the seventh day, the priests were to blow their trumpets and the people to shout and God would make the city walls fall down flat. Joshua did as God had told him and they marched around the city for six days and seven times on the seventh day and blew the trumpets and shouted. The walls of the city fell down just as God had said. Israel went into the city and destroyed everyone and everything, except for Rahab who saved two of Israel’s spies who went in before they had marched around the city.
This stories main theme I believe is the exaltation of God. Who else could knock down city walls by people blowing trumpets and shouting? It’s crazy how God is so much more powerful and knowledgeable and gigantic than we think he really is. No, He hasn’t recently knocked down a city but He is alive and working in this world and in our lives. God is big! It’s hard to grasp even a hint of his power and greatness, like the story of creation. “’But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!’”
Gideon’s 300
In the time of the judges, God appointed individuals to judge and lead Israel because they again and again disobeyed God and turned to idolatry and evil ways. It was a cycle of Israel sinning against God, being taken captive and oppressed by another people, realization and confession of their sin, and God saving them from bondage with a judge that God chose. God chose Gideon to save Israel. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured that he would be victorious against the Midianites and Amalekites who were oppressing Israel. 32,000 of Israel’s warriors were called together to defeat their enemy but God had a different plan. “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ’My own power has delivered me.’’” 22,000 people left because they were afraid so they were down to 10,000. God still said there was too many and so he told Gideon to send home everyone who kneels to drink the water out of the river. Now there were only 300 men left. God spoke to Gideon and reassured him that he would be victorious because God had given their enemy into their hands.
God confused the enemy when Gideon and his men blew their trumpets and they killed themselves and retreated. Gideon called more of Israel in the land of Ephraim to pursue the enemy that retreated and they captured them and killed their two leaders.
This story is a beautiful example of God exalting Himself in His stories. He cut down Gideon’s army lower and lower only to exalt himself. All Gideon’s men did was blow their trumpets. God is the author of everything and he is all-powerful.

One of these judges was also Samson. God called Samson to be a Nazirite from the time he was conceived, which means he wasn’t able to drink wine, touch any dead body, or cut his hair, being dedicated and wholly devoted to God. Israel was in bondage to the Philistines for 40 years before God saved them through Samson. God blessed Samson as he grew up.
Samson was walking along when he saw a Philistine woman that he was interested in. He went back to his house and said to his parents, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” His parents did not want him marrying a Philistine because God did not want Israel associating with different nations. Israel was to be a holy nation, set apart. Samson did not listen to his parents and insisted that he knew better than they did and wanted his way saying, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.” He expresses total disrespect towards his parents but they get her for him anyways. They get engaged and throw a party before their wedding. Samson tells a riddle to his buddies and they can’t figure it out. They ask Samson’s fiancĂ© to ask Samson what the riddle means and after she nags him for 7 days he tells her. She then tells his buddies and they tell Samson they figured out the riddle. They had a bet that if they figured it out, he had to give them 30 outfits of clothing. I know, weird. Samson then kills 30 people from a different nation for the clothes he had to give to them.
Before Samson had gotten married to his Philistine fiancĂ©, her father thought Samson hated her so he had given his daughter in marriage to one of Samson’s friends. Samson freaks out and catches 300 foxes, ties them by their tails to a torch, and lights the torches on fire to burn down a whole bunch of grain, vineyards, and groves. Now the Philistines are super ticked off at Samson and burn his supposed to be wife and her father. Then Samson gets super ticked off and kills a thousand Philistines with a fresh donkey jawbone. Crazy! After that he decides it was a good idea to sleep with a harlot.
He then falls in love with another woman named Delilah. The Philistine leaders came to her and said, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” After few tries, Delilah gets Samson to tell his secret. “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” She cuts his hair while he was asleep and God departed from him so he could not use his strength when the Philistines captured him. It was God who had given him all his strength by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When they capture him, they gauge out his eyes and then praise and sacrifice to their pagan gods. Samson calls to God while the Philistines are partying and asks God to strengthen him one last time so he could make the house they were in collapse by pulling on the pillars that held up the house. God gives him the strength and he dies while killing thousands of Philistines.
The first theme of this story that I noticed was the truth that God owns us. Even before Samson was born, God told his parents that he would be dedicated to Him. God had total authority to do this because He created him in the first place, just as he has created you and me and can tell us what we are to do with the life He has given us. We have no right at all to argue or complain. It isn’t our life. Samson didn’t even have the opportunity to argue about being a Nazirite. It was just imposed on him.
The next truth I noticed about this story was that God is supreme and sovereign. Through Samson’s sin and the selfishness in his heart, God still works through him to fulfill His will. God uses Samson’s desire for a Philistine wife, his gambling, his ridiculous idea with the foxes, his slaughter of the Philistines with the donkey’s jawbone, and his weakness for Delilah all to bring judgment on the Philistines and for Samson to realize his need of God. God punished the Philistines because of their sin of not believing in Him and having pagan gods and messed up worship and sacrifice to those gods, which brings up another truth. God demands death as a penalty for sin.
You can see throughout this story that Samson was pretty messed up, but that was just his heart showing through his actions. Man is ultimately depraved and corrupt. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). “The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done’” (Genesis 8:21). “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). “’The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?’” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Samuel was a prophet of God when Saul was king. Samuel spoke the words of God to Saul saying, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.’” God told him to destroy everything and everyone of Amalek. Saul did as God commanded him and killed man, woman, child, and animal. But Saul spared the best of their spoil and disobeyed God. He told Samuel that it was for sacrifices to God. Samuel’s reply was this: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king."
Harsh, but don’t we do the same thing? We obey God somewhat and think that He is okay with some of our life. But God wants our entire life. We are given clear instruction in God’s Word and how often do I find myself deceiving my own heart and directly disobeying God’s Word or the Holy Spirit’s conviction. God owns us. He deserves our life as a living sacrifice.
Another theme in this story is God’s faithfulness and justice. The Amalekites had years before attacked Israel but God is faithfully just and punished them for messing with His people.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jamie Angela Esmeyer

I stole most of this from Jamie but she put in words what i struggled to put in words.

My heart races when I think, only 27 more days until I get to see the most amazing person I have been able to share my life with for over 10 months. It’s amazing when I think about our first 7 months to our last 3 months, and just how much she and I have been able to grow together. It’s been a struggle, it’s been painful, there has been many tears(mostly on her part cuz im not a crier) and lots of nights that I wish that I could just be hanging out with her… watching a movie, or driving around , or star gazing on a mountain where there is nothing in sight but the very millions of twinkling stars above our heads… but we haven’t been able to and that is where I think we have really learned how to love one another. Where we have really learned what love is. Where we have learned how to really love when there can be no physical aspect of even seeing her in person.
When I had first left, I felt that I was losing 4 months of amazing memories with her, that I was losing 4 months of the best conversations with her, and I felt that I had lost my best friend for the next 4 months. Through these 4 months though we have grown and learned differences, similarities, and key aspects that have made our relationship amazing.
I am so awe struck of how God has worked these past months and so thankful of God's care and love for us to challenge us in our maturity with eachother and Him. Here is an amazing quote from Jamie.
"It wasn’t until the end of the first month of him being gone that I fully realized the situation that was upon me. This is how I see the situation: me in the driver’s seat and God is in back being a ‘back seat’ driver. He continues to try to help me and I continue to ignore Him and ‘drive’ my own way… taking the shortcuts, speeding around the obstacles and trying to find the destination or the answer as quickly as possible. I soon hear the loud siren and the see the flashing lights and I realized that the whole time God was trying to help me, I should have listened. By following and listening to Him, I could have saved myself a ticket and tons of confusion and tears. I had realized that, if I would have embraced God the way He intended me too, I could have not been ‘pulled over’ and would have saved I’m sure a ton of pain. So, while Daniel has been gone, I have been pulled over a bunch of times, in the end noticing a clear history of not embracing God to comfort me, to answer me, and to love me… and my focus was not on Him.
"When I began to see me embracing and focusing on things that only pull me away from God, Daniel began to see it. And Daniel, being the most amazing boyfriend he could be would challenge me to “focus”. Sometimes it would drive me crazy, but in the end it only made me feel so much stronger… because God uses Daniel to teach me things. God constantly uses Daniel in my life to challenge me." And God totally uses Jamie to challenge me. "He challenges me on the way I think and on how I use my brain and my heart. Something that I really admire about Daniel is how he never gives me the answer. No matter how frustrated I am, no matter how tired I am, and no matter how frazzled and upset I am, he refuses to give me the answer. And when Daniel can tell that I am getting upset, he says, “Jamie, you know the answer. You’re just thinking too hard.” He encourages me and reassures me that I am wise, I just can’t think so surfacey. And when I finally realize what God is teaching me, I feel that Daniel and I have grown stronger and wiser together." I did not put that to brag about myself but to brag about God and His amazing and unfailing love because I have embraced it so much more these past months.
In the last 3 months, I feel as if Jamie and I have learned more about each other now than we ever did our first 7 months of being together. It’s such a crazy thought. Our conversations are real and meaningful and each one I treasure every second that she is on the phone or Skype. I appreciate every smiley face, every text, letter, message, phone call, package, and picture sent to me. I appreciate every word that comes out of her mouth, and I feel like I listen to her a lot more and listen more to what He is trying to say to me through her. I am learning more and more to take the focus off myself and to put the focus totally and fully on God. I am so grateful for every ‘I love you’ that comes out of her mouth and I value it every time I see it or hear it from her.

God has given us these circumstances that have come with struggles to bring us both closer to Him, and I believe that we have become closer to our God. Are we finished? Never, there is always room to grow. But have we grown, more than ever. I couldn’t write in words or express to you how much I love Jamie. I have been blessed at such a young age to experience life with a woman who loves God and wants to live her life fulfilling His purpose to further the kingdom of God and to love me. She has such a beautiful heart that loves and cares for others.

Jamie, I love you with all that I am. I love you with as much as I humanly can. I thank you for the amount of love and patience you have for me. Thank you for supporting me and experiencing God’s love with me. Thank you for sharing an interest of serving God for the rest of our lives together. I appreciate your hard work- working, school, and making time for God and I. Thank you for being an amazing example of a woman who loves God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. And thank you for being an image of Christ’s love. Please continue to challenge me. I look forward to each time I talk to you, because I know you will challenge me. I encourage you to keep your focus on Christ. I love you moa.

These last couple nights of beautiful conversation and these last months apart have totally reassured that I want to spend the rest of my life serving to fulfill God's purposes together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Emerging Church

The Emerging Church Movement today is a hard thing to grasp because there are so many different levels and varieties of it in our postmodern world. When most people think or hear of the Emerging Church, we have a picture in our mind of something not good or unBiblical because of what other people have said about it. We must refocus or focus for the first time on really what it is though. We are scared of it but don’t know why because most of us really don’t know what it is. We think of Emergent as being a part of some cult. Let’s really learn the reality of what it is.
To learn what Emerging Church Movement is we must first redefine it. It is actually not a movement at all. It is a conversation that has been happening since the first church of the New Testament. We see the first sign of it when Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9,
“[19] Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. [20] To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. [21] To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. [22] To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. [23] I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
The conversation is then how we become like others in our culture for the benefit of evangelizing to them. How can we contextualize or change the church’s cultural traditions but not give up Biblical doctrine and truth? How can we stray from syncretism or conforming our worldview to the postmodern world by questioning Biblical truth, salvation, heaven and hell, or reinterpreting the Bible to mean something it does not? We do not want to take all supposed truth and shish kabob it all together with Christianity to make it one big all-inclusive religion.
An example of syncretism would be believing that homosexuality is not a sin because it is accepted in our culture. Another example would be the exact opposite of believing that you can’t come to church if you are homosexual because more traditional culture did not accept it.
Contextualization would be changing into a postmodern church without changing biblical truth and doctrine. For example, contextualization into a postmodern culture could include changing music in a church to a more contemporary genre instead of old hymns. Or a church could contextualize Biblically by caring for injustices as the postmodern world is and being involved in ending child labor and sex slavery.
To simplify this conversation, we must see the reality that we live in a postmodern culture. Tradition isn’t what is important in the church. Truth is the only essential in the church. We can live in any culture and still live in Biblical truth. We can become all things or have all the same concerns and cares as non-believing Postmoderns to win them for Christ. We must be ministering with Postmoderns, not to them or as them. We must live out and practice our faith and Biblical truth. We can practice our faith in any cultural form. Be creative in how you express yourself to God. Do not be tolerant though of differing views other than Biblical truth but be respectful and tolerant of others culture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Here's my heart Lord

I feel lonely. I feel further away from You than I ever have while being here. Yet, I feel so close and so near to Your Word than ever before. I feel like giving up. I don't know why. I just feel like there's no point to all of it. I feel like it is all meaningless. I don't see an end in sight. The more I read Your Word the more sinful I see myself. Yet, I can't pinpoint those sins. I feel like i hide them from myself or believe that they're not there. Why do I feel so distant from You? Why do I feel like it is all meaningless? I feel like I am being so fake. I fight within myself the desire to do your good, pleasing, and perfect will.To live it out. But I know I can never fulfill all of it. So what’s the point? I’m no better than the Israelites who again and again don’t believe You. Who again and again turn away from You. I feel like there’s no depth, even though we are digging deep into Your Word. I feel like relationships here have no depth, even though we all came here for the same purpose. To do Your Will.

What’s the point? What’s the point of being here to study Your Word in depth if I won’t turn it back to myself and say “what can I get from this? What is God showing me to change about my life?” There is no point if I am not doing that. God wants change. There is no point if I am not daily becoming a living sacrifice, giving my whole being. It doesn’t belong to me. My life is not mine. God change me. Change the way I view You. Make me more and more into the image of Your Son. God help me to live wholly for You, with no part left out. Make my life something useful.

Lord, where do I find my identity? Who tells me my purpose and identity in life? Who do I believe? My identity is in You and only You. Let my life reflect that truth. God help me to only fear You. You are the one who created me. Not man. You are the only one that satisfies. Man will never satisfy. I am not accountable to man, only You. God help me to keep my focus on You and Your kingdom, Your will, and eternity with You. This life will pass away. You are eternal. If You are for me, who can be against me? I am not a slave of this world. I am not a slave to man. God bought me. May Your will be done through my life and may I be an instrument of Your love You first showed to me.

God my view of who You are is the basis of everything I believe, think, do, or say. How I respond to situations and circumstances is a direct result of how I view You. And if how I act reveals how I view You, then it doesn’t matter what I say I believe about You. If I don’t act accordingly to what I say I believe, then I really don’t believe it. To transform and renew my mind to how I should view You and act accordingly, I must see the need of daily being in Your Word and in prayer because I can not doing anything without You.

Lord, let me not forget Your deliverance of me. Help me to not walk by sight and only see the obstacles and problems of life, but help me walk by faith and see You in Your glory and might and according to Your promises of my identity in Christ as righteous. Help me to be courageous, forgetting my natural strength or human reasoning because of who You are. Teach me how to fervently pray. Show me how to walk humbly