Diamonds in the Fields of God

Matthew 13:44 — The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

This is a beautiful illustration of God’s love for us. Let me rephrase it. We are like a diamond that a man found in the middle of an empty lot. He hid it again so that he could rightfully get it. Then, because he was so exited, he went and sold everything he owned so that he could get the lot and the diamond in it.

God didn’t just pick up the diamond and put it in his pocket, but he thought it was so precious that he should buy the entire lot. We are the diamonds that God goes above and beyond to find. He sold everything! The parable doesn’t just say that the man took half a second to admire the treasure and then moved on, no! The man stopped and then re-hid the treasure so that he could sell everything and get the treasure for himself.

The man bought the entire field. That is how much he wanted the treasure. He made sure that the treasure was rightfully his. If the man simply picked up the treasure it would be his, but the owner of the field could come find him and lay claim to the treasure. By buying the whole field the man guarantees that the treasure is his only. God buys the whole field. By doing this he makes it so that the devil, and the world can’t come and say “see that right there? It’s mine.” God “bought” all of us, not just the good part. He also took the bad part. Most of the field was dirt, but the man bought it anyway.

Matthew 13:47-48 — Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

This New Generation.

Matthew 11:16a — To what shall I compare this generation?

I took a personality test today. It was kind of a cool experience because the results really were what I wanted to be (INFJ). It asked a bunch of questions about what I am like, and what I do, but there was one question that made me think. The test asked “Do you think that everyone’s views should be respected whether they are supported by facts or not?” The test was asking about respecting another person’s views, which we should do. It would be rude to go out onto the street, and find some helpless atheist and then start yelling to everyone “His views are wrong! He’s an idiot!” We are supposed to respect one another, even if we disagree. Disrespect, and disagreement are very different.

To disrespect someone is to not show them any love at all, and in fact show the opposite. To disagree is to think that someone is wrong. When we disrespect someone we hurt them, but when we disagree with someone we either respect them and leave it at that, or we try and have a rational argument with someone in order to build them up.

Okay, I’ve got that part done. At this point you may be thinking: I get the difference now, so what? The “so what” is the fact that the new generation (the teens) in America doesn’t seem to get that. For over 150 years the US has been striving toward a goal of complete human equality, meaning that all humans get the same amount of respect. We are closer than ever to completing this goal, but I think that we have taken this idea too far. We have gone beyond respecting and tolerating our differences, and started to ignore them.

This has been worse in certain areas of equality than others. There is immense value in our differences, they are what make us strong. We should be able to use some of our differences to build each other up. The biggest part way in which I have seen tolerance turn to ignorance is in religion. Many teens that I know don’t seem to respond when I talk about the gospel. They say something along the lines of “that’s cool.” This is the problem: we have stopped discussing our beliefs in order to find out who is right and, in the name of tolerance, started to completely disregard each other’s views.

What should we do about this? How do you argue with somebody who isn’t listening? You can’t. This is where some major verses can come into play. 1 John 3:18 says “let us not love with words  or tongue” (eg reasoning, and traditional evangelism) “but with actions and in truth.” John is saying that sometimes words, and speech aren’t enough to get through to a person, we have to love them. When we love people we show them God because “God is love.”

What else can we do? If people aren’t listening to our words then the only other thing that can show them the truth is God moving. This is where healings, and powerful encounters with God come into play. We can show others who God is in even more direct ways than love. We can pray over them.

Who’s More Powerful God or the Devil?

You probably read the title there and immediately thought “well, duh! God!” That is what you should think, but it often isn’t how we act. We often act like we are constantly at odds with the devil, which we are, but the thing we don’t realize is that our savior already won.

We don’t want to give the devil more credit than he deserves. You shouldn’t be too worried when bad things are happening somewhere. Don’t say “oh, the devil is really active there, those poor people.” Instead ask God to make that place a safe haven, where the devil is blocked by a fifty foot wall. Blaming everything bad on the devil doesn’t help at all, letting God in does.

Here’s another way to look at it. Say I have a problem with being mean to other people. If all I ever do is blame it on the devil will I feel any responsibility to stop. No! I should be praying for God to help me stop, and then actively trying to stop. Even if the devil is causing my issues I should act like God is more powerful. We have been given authority over the Earth in God’s name, we should act like it.

1 Peter 3:22 — Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Combating the World

John 16:33 — “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes we hang out with our friends who are particularly worldly, and we feel like we’ve been influenced by them. I certainly feel this a lot. When I get done hanging with some of my friends I feel gross, like I just went swimming in the sewer. After I long time with those friends I need time to regenerate, and readjust myself. This time is really important.

Some things to remember when you get feeling like this are how God has defeated the world, and how we are not part of this world. As John 16:33 said Jesus overcame the world. The world is a place of death, but Jesus defeated death. The world is a place of sin, but Jesus lived a fully human life without sin. Because of our identity as royalty in God’s kingdom we aren’t part of this mess. We need to remember that we are not worldly like the people that we may hang with. We are no longer consigned to this world of sin. We are not of it.

So how do we combat this feeling. During the time with these worldly friends try to talk about God. Where God is fear, hate, and impurity are banished, they cannot stay in God’s presence. Bring God into the conversation, and if you must remove yourself from it. Don’t give into the ways of the world. When your done socializing, and you go home, or somewhere else private dive deep into God. Read His word, pray, worship, and just rest with Him. Like I already said God banishes fear, hate, and impurity. God will regenerate you, and get you back to where you were before, if not higher.

The world is a crazy place, and sometimes you need to find ways to fight it. God is the way to do so, everything about Him can become a source of strength.

1 John 1:9 —  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Our Identity

“stupid,” “weak,” “gay,” “worthless,” “liar,” “cheapskate,” the list goes on and on. These are all names that people get called, identities that people try and force onto other people. Some people are strong enough to have their own identity, and blaze their own trail, but for many of us its hard. Thats why this idea is so important: our identity does not revolve around who we are, but around who God is.

I posted before about how we died, and rose again with Christ. This is part of the reason His identity is ours. His blood covered our sins making them irrelevant. things like “liar,” and “gay” become powerless. We also rose with Christ to become a “new creation” we aren’t what we used to be, and what’s more we are now royalty with Jesus, sons and daughters of the King. No prince or princess is worthless, no prince or princess is a cheapskate.

We also have God on our side. Not just some wimpy God that can occasionally heal a broken toe, but a God who is so powerful that through Him we can move mountains. This is the God who created the universe, and knows all of its secrets. IF this is the God in which we hold our identity then how can we be stupid or weak?

God has an identity for you that is smart, strong, pure, worthy of honor, honest, and so full of spiritual riches that they can’t be contained. All you have to do is claim your new identity as a child of God and a Christian (literally “little Christ”).

Our Death and Resurrection

Colossians 2:12 – having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

In the Old Testament baptism represented purification, and initiation into Judaism. After Christ came baptism came to be a sign of our Christian conversion. The cool thing about baptism though is that is also symbolizes us dying with Christ, and us being resurrected with Him. This idea of dying with Christ is huge.

Romans 6:4 – We were therefore buried with Him

We were buried with Jesus. At first glance this doesn’t sound like a good thing. One may ask “Do I have to die to become Christian?” The obvious answer is no! It isn’t our physical body that dies with Jesus, it is our old sin-self (Christianese for “who we were before we became Christian”). When Jesus died He took our sins with Him, and not just our sins, but also our identity as sinners.

Romans 6:4 – in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We died in order to be raised to life. We can’t be brought back to life if we aren’t dead. Does that mean that it is our old sin-self that is resurrected? No! When Jesus came back to life it was because He defeated death. We come back as a new creation with our identity centered in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Faking It?

Sometimes our prayers feel like the room at the top of this page: empty. I hear about powerful prayer all the time. Prayer causing healing, powerful revelations through prayer, and close encounters with God, but what about when these things don’t happen? Our culture seems to expect powerful prayers, so that when we don’t have powerful encounters with God we feel like we are doing something wrong. We may even begin to ask are we faking it?

Not feeling something doesn’t mean that we are faking it. If we earnestly try then we can’t be faking it. Think of it like this: if you want to go to Disneyland you are going to save up, plan for the trip, and then buy tickets for you and who ever is going with you. If you are only pretending to want to go to Disneyland you will tell people that you are going, but you wont go to all the trouble of buying tickets, and planning a trip. That would be a waste of time and money! Its the same with prayer. If you are spending the time with God, and searching for Him in you private life you are not faking it. What would be the point of praying in private if you didn’t really want God?

1 Chronicles 16:11 — Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

How Then Shall We Dress?

Our physical image shows the world who we are, and what we represent. It is very important that we represent God in a good manner. If our clothes are part of that we must think about how what we wear shows God to others. I don’t mean that we have to walk around wearing nothing but shirts that talk about God. I mean that what we wear makes others think differently about us, and more importantly God.

First, and most obvious, if we wear clothes that glorify violence, sexual immorality, and anger we are, ourselves, glorifying these things. Jesus’ philosophy was very clearly against these things. We may wear a shirt that glorifies one or more of these things without realizing the effect it may have on others. People see that shirt, and think “Is that what being a Christian looks like? How is that different than me?” Our image mot only tells people about us, but it also tells people about our relationship with God.

Second, when we wear that kind of clothing we provoke un-pure thoughts in others. People see your clothes and it makes them think about what is depicted on them. This is pretty much the same as my first point, but it revolves around others. if we dress in a way that doesn’t glorify God we don’t encourage others to do so.

Third, we should care more about Jesus than what we look like. God is the only thing that matters in all the world. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” You shouldn’t be worrying about what the newest trends are more than you think about God.

Matthew 6:28-30 —  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Is Swearing OK?

%^&#$  &*^%  %&!@  @#*!

You’ve probably heard most of those (How do you pronounce the $ again?). I hear them every day in school. Every student where I am swears. In fact, I have not yet met one who doesn’t, but I have a conviction against swearing. I don’t use the curse words that others use, and I avoid other more acceptable words that have bad meanings. Here’s why you should too.

  1. Purity:We are called to be pure. What exactly this means is hard to point to, but I think our calling to be pure includes not swearing. We are to try to be blameless (and are washed clean by a blameless king) swearing may sully our reputation of purity. Also most swear words refer to sexual things that we definitely shouldn’t be talking about in our everyday hallway conversations with friends.
  2. Counter Culture:                                                                                                                     The theology of Jesus was always very different from the ideology of the world and still is today. We should stand out from the crown in the way we act. This includes my previous reason for not swearing: purity, but it also includes standing out. We should look different from the world . Swearing draws attention to us in a bad way and gives God a bad image.
  3. Love: Swear words don’t build people up. They tear them down. As Christians we are called to a life of love. Jesus said to love even our enemies. Are we loving them if we are calling them all of these horrible things? No, curse words are insults: designed to hurt people.

 

When we swear we can’t ever be sure who we hurt, and we betray many principles of Jesus. Not swearing makes us different from the world, and keeps our image pure. In the end though swearing cannot destroy your salvation. Jesus is more powerful than a few small words.

 

 

 

 

 

Having the Mindset of Jesus

Jesus is the supreme example of Christian life. When we struggle with decisions in life we look to Him as an example of what to do. We even have a neat acronym: WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? As Christians we believe that we should live like Jesus. What does this mean? Obviously it includes following His teachings, teaching others, praying, and ministering to all people, but it also means having the mindset of Christ.

I am using this term differently than many people use “The mind of Christ.” I mean that we should thing like Jesus thought, and see the world as He did not just know what He knew, and His spiritual gifts. This means more than just doing what Jesus did, but also thinking like He thought.

The New Testament mentions the word God more times than it mentions the name Jesus. This illustrates Jesus’ mindset. Jesus was always talking about God. When he ate a meal: God, when He was walking down the road: God. When He was dying on the cross: God, God, God.

Luke 23:46 — Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” 

Jesus was always praying to God, praising God, teaching about God, and thanking God. This is how we should also live. We should include God in everything we do. If the sunset is beautiful, thank God. If we are struggling with school, pray. If we are about to ride on the scariest roller coaster ever, pray (or thank God). When mom has a headache immediately pray for healing from God.

We should always include God in everything. He is, after all, including us in everything. If we believe that our God is always with us we should act like it.