Friday, March 30

A Biblical Case for Christian Unity

Based on some comments that were made previously on my blog, I wanted to post this Bible study by Lester Zimmerman and Mark Ammerman. Would you agree that anyone mocking authentic Christian unity is mocking Jesus?

—The prayer of Jesus in John 17:20–23

Jesus knew what was in the heart of man. He knew that in ourselves we fight for position, for place, for advantage over each other—in order to see, to taste, to have, to hold and to control. We fight—and we even kill—because we want what we want when we want it.
Even among Jesus’ own followers, the pride of position and the desire for selfish gain raised its head constantly. Jesus rebuked his men for sectarianism (Luke 9:49–50), corrected them for clambering for position (Mark 10:35–45), and consistently addressed their need to humble themselves (Luke 9:46–48).
Only hours before praying the words recorded above, Jesus addressed the prideful boastings of his followers by stripping down to the underclothes of a common house servant in order to wash the disciples feet in a dramatic example of humility and servanthood (John 13:1–17).
On the same night, one of his hand-picked men slipped away into the shadows in order to betray him to the Jewish authorities (John 13:21–30). That betrayal—as Jesus knew and had openly predicted—would lead swiftly to his arrest, his trial, and his death upon a Roman cross. Yes, Jesus knew what was in the heart of man.
In sharp contrast to the darkened, selfish human heart, we can feel the compassionate heartbeat of God in this prayer of Jesus for his followers. We can hear the consummate concern of the savior for the well-being of those who would come to trust Him for the forgiveness of their sins. Sadly, Jesus could also foresee the broken relationships, divisions, mistrust and even hatred that would manifest itself among those for whom he would lay down his life. And so he prayed for unity.

(read the rest here )

After you read the rest of their article, come back here and tell me what you think.

Monday, March 26

Receiving the Spirit

I have been talking with a friend of mine who is in a small group that happens to be dealing with the book of Acts. Reading through this book makes one think about when the Holy Spirit is received. As we were talking and looking at a few specific passages in Acts, we realized that each seemed to say different things about when one receives the Holy Spirit. So, at a few points in our discussion we had to come to the conclusion that we don't know exactly how to interpret these scriptures on their own. However, my continued reading of "Baptism & Fullness" has helped me to see other scriptures that bring light to the ones in Acts.

Through reading and discussion I hope to solidify my belief that there is no time difference between acccepting Christ and receiving the Spirit. While reading through Acts, I saw that there are three places where the Spirit seems to be given at a later time than when one becomes a Christian. This was very confusing to me, because I have always been taught (and believed through scripture) that the Holy Spirit is received as soon as one accepts Christ.

These passages were 1:15-2:4, 8:9-17, & 19:1-7.
The first passage says there were about 120 "brothers" who received the Spirit--this seemed to be the first time that the Holy Spirit was fully given. They did not seem to receive the Spirit as soon as they accepted Christ, however the 3000 that were saved at the end of the chapter received the Spirit at the time of conversion. Why was there a difference?
The second passage seemed to say that Peter and John were the ones who brought the Holy Spirit through their laying on of hands. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John. Why? There is no evidence that on other occasions evangelistic work had to be inspected by two apostles. Does it seem that Philip's preaching and baptism were not complete enough for the Holy Spirit to fill these men? In the same chapter Philip preached the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch and baptized him when he believed. But no apostle was sent to investigate or to lay hands on him. Why was there a difference?
The third passage I noted is confusing because these men are called disciples, yet they "have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." Were they Christians before Paul layed hands on them and baptized them? Can someone who has never heard of the Holy Spirit or been baptized in Jesus be a true Christian disciple? I find that hard to believe. They may have been disciples of Apollos or John the Baptist, but not of Jesus.

What do you take from all this? When do we receive the Holy Spirit? Why do these instances seem to contradict? Is there other scripture we can use to help us better understand the receiving of the Holy Spirit?

As a Christian I believe that Scripture is God's word written for our learning. All our traditions, all our opinions and all our experiences must therefore be submitted to the independent and objective test of biblical truth.

Thursday, March 22

Life in the Spirit

I have been reading an older book called "Baptism & Fullness" by John R. W. Stott. It is about the work of the Holy Spirit. I am really enjoying what I am reading. While reading, I am doing my best to take principles from the book (which are basically scripture) and apply them in my life.

Over the next few weeks I will probably be blogging about some of these principles that I am learning. Before I do that, I would love to hear some opinions from my readers. (lol, what readers?) What does it mean to live in the Spirit? What does this life look like? Can you tell if someone is living in the Spirit? Do you think that someone can be filled with the Spirit at one point and empty at another?

I hope that these questions stir up thoughts in your mind and make you analyze what you believe and why. I want to hear your opinions, but I would love it if you use scripture to support those opinions. Feel free to comment as little or as much as you would like.

Tuesday, March 20

Playoffs Around the Corner

Somehow my intramural basketball team managed to go undefeated this season. We only played seven games, but we won all of them. This means that we'll get a good seed going into playoffs. There were 18 teams overall and playoffs cuts it down to eight. There is only one other team that is undefeated. I think they played eight games, so they'll probably take the first seed. Therefore we'll probably play the seventh place team. The season games weren't too difficult, but the playoff games sure will be. Just about every team in playoffs has a decent team. Some look better than others, but any team could upset another any given night. I'm excited to see how the games go. I would love to win the championship, but that's not why I play.

I hope that my athletic abilities and competition bring glory to God. I think that I've had a good attitude so far, but playoffs tend to bring out the worst in people. I pray that I'll be able to stay positive and uplifting through those times. Even though it's just a game, I want to reflect Christ in it. I have been called to do everything for the Lord (Col 3:17) and I will do my best at it. If I act or speak in any way unworthy of the gospel, please call me out and correct me. That is what a true brother (or sister) should do. Lord willing you won't need to though.

Wednesday, March 14

I Can See The Light

Over the past few months I have been substitute teaching while finishing up the nagging tasks for my credential. I have been done with all of the official school stuff since December, but there were 3 projects that I had to do. I also needed to become CPR and first aid certified.

Wel...I recently received the my PASSING results for these projects and as of tomorrow I will have my CPR/First Aid certification. I went into the education office today at CBU and made an appointment to file for my credential on Monday. This is supposed to take a week or two. So, I should be a fully credentialed teacher by the end of the month. In the past week I have already set up two interviews with a couple districts in the area. I plan to turn in a few other applications once my credential comes in.

These thoughts brings me so much joy. Throughout this credentialing process I have been very frustrated. It hasn't been the most pleasant experience and I had to deal with many things I wasn't expecting. However, I have grown through these tough times and I know that they have given me some extra preparation for what is to come.

God has been so good to me and blessed me beyond imagination. I love it when things are going great and my life is blessed, but I don't understand why? Why would God give me all of things? Why does He provide beyond my needs and give me things that I just want? I know that He has his reasons, but I ask- why me? I hope that I will be responsible with my blessings. I hope that I will use my gifts for His glory instead of my own. I hope that I will not forget my need for Christ because of all that he has given. Please pray that I will not use all these blessings on myself. Pray that I will use what God has given me to earn even more for his kingdom.

Has God blessed you too? I'm pretty sure he has. Tell me about it. I would love to see all of the different ways he cares for his children.

God, thank you for your blessings and provision. May we glorify you through that which you give.

Monday, March 5

So Others May Live

As I was saying in the previous post(feel free to read that one first) Brittany and I watched the movie Guardian. It is Kevin Costner and Ashton however you spell his last name. I believe that the movie was partially created as a result to Katrina, but it is about the US Coast Guard. After watching the movie I have a newfound respect for them. I know what the Coast Guard is, but I always thought they were more about enforcing laws than saving lives. If you haven't seen the movie, you definately need to rent it...better yet buy it. I am going to.

The Coast Guard's motto is "So Others May Live." It is a great motto and I can't help but relate it to Christianity. As Christians we are to spread the good news so others may live. I am supposed to live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel. If I am not proclaiming my faith and sharing Jesus with those around me, how am I being obedient? If I had something that others couldn't live without, why would I keep it to myself? Because I'm selfish? Am I ashamed? Do I really care about those around me?
I have a hard time figuring out why faith isn't being shared in every conversation. I'm not talking about banging people on the head with the bible, but I want people to know what I believe and why I believe it. Then they can decide what they want to do. However, what if I don't share Jesus with them and their other Christian friends do the same? Then they won't be able to make an educated decision about what to believe.

Let's challenge ourselves to have the same motto as the US Coast Guard. If we truly want others to spend eternity with us, then we need to be sharing our faith. Please pray that I will be bold and courageous in spreading the name of Jesus.


Brittany and I received a year's subscription to Netflix as a wedding gift. We have been using it for about 6 months now and absolutely love it. We really enjoy having new movies to watch just about every time we want them, and many times more often than we have time for. Over the past month, our "movie time" has dwindled. It seems that we have been too busy with other things to have time for a movie. It's a bummer, because we love pulling out the hide-a-bed, making some popcorn and cuddling up for a good movie. Saturday, we made some time and managed to watch two movies that we've had for a few days. We did stay up til 2 in the morning watching one, but we made it.

The movies we watched were Crank and Guardian. Well, I can't say that we watched Crank because I had to cover my eyes or skip to the next scene about 20 times in the movie. If you have not seen it, do not even think about it. The fighting/action is not even close to being worth all of the junk that is in the movie.
Now, Guardian is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I am actually going to write another post just on it. above if you haven't already.

Thursday, March 1

God is Good

If you haven't read the previous post, read that one first. Otherwise, you may continue. I didn't get to post this yesterday because I was busy working on another task to complete my credential.

Middle school teachers have 5 periods and one conference period. My conference period happened to be right after lunch. Because of this, my lunch break was almost an hour and a half. I definately needed it after all of the chaos from the morning. During this time was when I blogged about the day and my feelings. I also spent some time praying and contemplating on my feelings. I was doing my best to keep a good attitude and have a good 6th period to end the day.

The role sheet only showed 15 students and when they came in I discovered that almost all of them were in my class 2nd period (which was the best class so far). This made me very happy. There were some boys who thought they were cool, but I had fun joking around with them. They weren't the best students, but they weren't too bad either. So, the bell rings and some of the students ask if they are supposed to put up their chairs. In return, I ask if they normally do. They said yes, which I replied right back to them. However, the "cool" boys were darting out of the classroom and I didn't want to run after them so they did not put their chairs up.

As I began collecting the textbooks, which the students left strewn across the desks, a boy and girl began to put up all the chairs. Now, this may not seem like anything huge, but it seriously almost brought tears to my eyes. After all that had gone on in the day, God decided to bless me with a bit of joy. I told the students thank you and they replied "anytime". Once again, I almost cried. It's funny how something so small can encourage me so much, but it did. I thank God for those moments and was reminded of His promise that He will not give us more than we can handle. I really needed that pick me up after the grueling day.