A Little Prince

 

He stood alone. The little prince was lost in a world so full of wonderful, beautiful things. He saw bright colors, red, yellow, blue, green. All of the beauty he had imagined was here. He tasted sweet foods. They filled his mouth with flavors that could only be joy. All of it was so wonderful, and yet as he was swept up in the flow of beauty he realized that here he stood alone. All of these amazing things, and yet the most amazing thing of all was missing. The King was not there. The prince was alone here, and without the king all of the colors were just gray, and all of the foods were bitter sand. Without the King the world of amazing beauty fell as ash. There was nothing here, so the prince left. He would find the King, for there there would be beauty. Not the fading beauty that the prince had just seen, but the true lasting beauty of the King.

Where the little prince went next was just as ugly, and just as beautiful. People with twisted faces offered him things he wished he could have. Some offered fruits that looked like they would burst in the princes mouth, some offered statues, that looked alive. Still others offered other things, some happiness, some peace, and some offered life. The prince saw these things, and he tasted the fruits. He asked about the happiness that they offered. They said that it was pure ecstasy, but the prince heard a whisper in his ear. This is not Me. He turned away and left. The hungry merchants shouting at him as he walked away. This also was not the King, and only the King could offer true joy, and true peace. Only the King’s fruits were truly good. 

The prince continued his journey, and soon he came to the hills of rolling gold. Now he knew that the king was close. He had kept moving through the dark places, and now he had come to the light where the King was. The prince started to run. He would wait no longer. He came over a hill, and there was the king in all of his true beauty. The king turned to the prince and ran toward him. The two met and the king held the prince in his arms. “You have done well, my prince.” said the King. The prince freed himself, and fell down. “You do not know what you are saying my king, I was lost. I thought the world was beauty, and I nearly stayed!” The King lifted the prince off of the ground, “I know, my prince, but when the time came you saw the truth, you heard my voice, and left. That is why I said you have done well.”

The Night Before

I’m waxing poetic this evening so I want to post this thought:

 

I know the truth. And I know that this life is but a flash at the start of eternity.  Therefore I have one task: I must tell the truth, the only truth of consequence. I must shout with every bit of energy. I must chase the truth through the twist and turns, past the roaring lions and through the dark places. I must take every risk to hold the truth. This life is but the night before eternity, and if I do these things I know that when I rise at dawn I will have the prize, and the King.

Sons and Daughters of the King

Romans 8:16 — The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

Jesus died to let us once again enter a loving relationship with our God. Part of this relationship is being a child of God. We are called Children of God so many times that it is undeniable. One of the most famous parables (the prodigal son) talks about this father child relationship. This relationship is so close. Let me explain.

Luke 11:11-13 — “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus compared our relationship with that of natural fathers and sons. All of the loving things (even common sense things) that fallible, human fathers do are less than what God does to show his love. I recently read a story about a man who had disowned his father (like the prodigal son) and was living a horrible life in order to avoid him. The man said that almost every day his father would come looking for him. Every time the son would ignore his father and leave the door unanswered. It wasn’t until the son overdosed on LSD that they were brought together. The son was in a semi-comatose state for days while his father sat by him repeatedly saying how he loved him. This is the picture of a human father that showed unrelenting love. If this father, though he was evil, knew how to love his son relentlessly, how much more will God love relentlessly. imagine how much greater God’s love is!

God loves us in a way that only He can. His love for His children is unrelenting, unashamed, amazing love!

Galatians 4:6 — Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Fear

I know that the title of this is fear, but first I need to explain love. God loves you. Cliche, I know, but its true. God has this deep, amazing love for you. John goes so far as to say that God is love. This idea is huge. If there is one thing I can tell you it is probably that. God loves you with a fierce love that is always chasing you, and always surrounding you, and always washing over you. His love is nothing like human love because it is perfect. It doesn’t rely on acts or even attitude.

Okay, now that that’s over with I can talk about fear. Fear is what holds many people back. It keeps us from sharing the good news with our friends, or stepping out in faith or changing our lives. Fear is something horrible, but there is good news. Fear can’t hold onto you. John says that perfect love casts out fear. Jesus’ love is perfect and it is surrounding you. That love can drive out all fear. God is the only thing that matters, so don’t worry about whether or not others love you. Only believe that God loves you.

A Question of Reality

Titus 1:16 — They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

That is a strong thing to say, but it speaks very clearly. People who claim to know God, but don’t really are bad people. This is called practical atheism. Practical atheists are people who are Christian in name, but act as if they don’t know God. They may act kind, and be nice in public, but deep down they only do it for themselves and other humans.

So, what does a Christian life look like? A Christian life is one that is changed because God is there. Not just changed superficially, but really changed. Think of it this way: If God were suddenly to stop existing a practical atheist life wouldn’t change, but a Christian life would be drastically changed.

A Christian life should be changed by God, but what does that look like? It looks like a true love for others (not just a give and take love), and a true love for God. It can also look like miracles, and revelations from God. True sacrifice and fully giving oneself to God are also signs of a Christian life. If none of these are present then how is God present. If church is just a social club how is it different than basketball?

Let me finish by asking a question:

If God didn’t exist would your life change?

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.

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”).

Spreading The Good News: Where To Start

1 Corinthians 13:13 — Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Often I feel very overwhelmed by the task of telling someone about Jesus. Jesus is so huge ad so important that I wonder, where should I start? The bible, as it often does, has the answer: start with love. Love is the single most important part of the Christian faith. without God’s love there would be no salvation, no blessings, no miracles, no need for praise and worship. As John put it “God is love.” Paul, and John say multiple times that we should be known for our love (see 1 John 3:17-18, Romans 12:9, 1 John 4:8, etc.). Paul even goes so far as to say that without love a Christian is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:2 — If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

So we should start ministering to people with love, but what does that love look like. In this case there are two kinds of love: Gods love and our love. We should show people our love for others, and ourselves, but this love should stem from God’s love for us. While this shows God’s love a little bit we can do more. We can tell people about God’s love. Now realize that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are literally saying “God loves you!” all of the time. It might, but it doesn’t have to. God may tell you something special about that person and about how God loves that, or you may be able to demonstrate God’s love, or you may find certain things to say about God’s love.

Romans 5:8 — But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Much of Jesus’ ministry was about love. Why did He heal people if He didn’t love them? Jesus took the time to talk to Nicodemus at night, he talked to the samaritan woman at the well, and he called ordinary men, and gave them a higher purpose. Jesus was all about love, and he should be because God is love.

Song of Songs 2:8 — Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.