Wednesday, May 02, 2012

In John 3 Once Again

There are a few times that I just have a desire to write something. I wish that I had that desire more often, but I don’t. Usually it comes from a time when I have been thinking about something and it feels like I need to hash it out by writing or at least share it with someone (even if no one else is reading). Usually, I have tons of outlets to pour out these things teaching, but every now and then I get something that I just need to put out there.

One morning this week I was in John 3 reading about Jesus and Nicodemus. I was just flying through it because the verses were so familiar to me. I knew the story. I knew what statements were coming next. I knew where the conversation was going. It became more of the game memory than listening to God. As I was going through, I was relieved to find it all as I remembered…except for one thing. My game of memory was boring. I read the chapter, briefly let my mind wander to some theological questions, and then got ready to move on. Before I moved on, I was prompted to stop and read it slower… read it like it is the first time. Really interact with it. So I went back to the beginning of the chapter, and within 3 verses I realized that this is NOT what I remembered. I was amazed at how much more was in these verses that I had not noticed before. It was strangely unfamiliar for something that I was very familiar with. (I hope that makes sense).

So here is what God showed me. Nicodemus comes to Jesus and he says that he knows that Jesus is from God because of the things that Jesus is doing. No one can do the things that Jesus did unless they are from God. It was the next statement that got me. Jesus responded by saying, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Sound familiar? In the past I had taken this to mean that you cannot get saved unless you are born again. Although that is a true statement, I am not sure if that is what is going on here. Nicodemus says that Jesus is from God and then Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to get saved. That feels like an abrupt topic change. That flow of thought is not right. We don’t talk with each other with random statements like that.

So I looked back at what Jesus said. He said that no one could “see” the kingdom of God unless they were born again. He didn’t say at this point that no one could “enter” the kingdom of God...He said no one could even “see” or “perceive” the kingdom. So when Nicodemus says that he knows that Jesus is from God, Jesus response is saying something really strong to Nicodemus. “Nicodemus, how can you know that I am from God. It isn’t my works that will convince you of that. The only way a person will get this is if they are born again…if the Spirit is giving them life. So either you don’t really know that I am from God or God is doing a work in your heart. “ That makes more sense with how the conversation unfolds.

So here is how that fleshes out for me. When I do not seem to perceive God at work around me, then maybe it is because I need a work of the Spirit in me. I need God to show it to me and help me perceive and see Him at work around me. When I am talking with someone who does not seem to be getting the fact that God is working around them, then maybe I need to spend less time trying to convince them. Maybe I need to spend some time pushing them toward the fact that they need the Spirit of God to do a work. Maybe churches and ministries are operating too much by simply looking at facts and numbers instead of seeing with Spirit eyes that see where God is at work. That is what was happening as I read John 3. I just read through it and God had to call me back to read it and listen to the work of the Spirit through the Word. This is not some weird, out of control thing where we do whatever we want and follow or natural whims. This is about being in a relationship with God in such a way that you are walking with Him and listening to Him and being guided by Him throughout the day. This is intimate, personal, relational, dependant and submissive living. This is abiding in Christ.

So, are you following the Spirit? Do you even sense when He is at work around you? Would the statement that you have been “born of the spirit” accurately describe your walk with God?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm back??? Maybe.

So once again I find myself just wanting to blog. I havent done this in a long time. I finally stopped doing the blog because I wasnt sure that it was worth the time and effort. I recently decided that this is a good discipline to have for my own good. It doesnt matter if anyone reads it or not. One of my teachers in seminary always said that writing sharpens your thinking. Well, I am coming to realize that this is true and that I need to be writing more. So, if anyone was every reading this, then by all means feel free to check back periodically because I itend to try this blogging thing one more time. After a month we will see if this thing is still going!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Pastor

Pastor. Exactly what is a pastor supposed to do? I work at a church, and I get the work done that I am supposed to get done. I do my tasks, but do I pastor? Should I be shocked that I can answer no to that question more often than I can say yes? So every day I come into my office with planning for things to be different. Each day I have hopes of my job and tasks being spiritual (most of them anyways), and every day when I go home I mourn another day in the office where I did my tasks. Nothing more, nothing less. What are these tasks? I plan certain events and these need to be well done. During all of this I need to show competence in leading people and the organizational skills to execute the plans. I need to keep things the same just enough to keep the traditionalists happy, and at the same time change just enough to keep it fresh and exciting. I also have to work with people and volunteers. A lot of recruiting and training people, but not too much because then you are boring or obnoxious. I also need to throw into the mix, making problems go away and communicating with people. Pretty simple really. These things fill my day. The trick is not getting these things done; that's easy. It gets tricky when I have to mix spiritual things and jargon in there because it is a church and I am a pastor. Every day I dance around the expectation that I will make the American church's business expectations spiritual. I tell them that these events are necessary for us to reach people for Christ. That makes us all feel better for the day of the event, but when I go home I know that something isn’t right. I planned an event... I solved a problem... I soothed the ache in someone heart about things feeling meaningless and burdensome...I did my job, but I was never a pastor. My name is Fayez and I am an administrator with a pastoral title and clothes. I don’t spend my days praying or studying the Bible. I can do my job without God and probably get a raise for it. I guess the question is who is to blame. Do I blame American Christian society for the expectation? No, the person to blame is me. I have refused to do the pastoral duty of breaking that mold and refusing to be pushed into it. I will plan the events, recruit people, and solve problems (somehow this is a part of my duty), but these tasks will no longer define my job, role, or days in the office. From this day on I will start pastoring again. I guess what I am saying is that I repent.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I am still alive and kicking

Alright, so I really stink at this whole BLOG thing. I post once every 6 or 7 months. I keep saying that it will change, but it hasnt yet. I guess that we will all have to wait and see if I can actually change this habit of mine. I do have a question that will most likely not be read by anyone because no one is expecting anything to be posted here. I will post it anyway and assume that people will be curious and check eventually. So, I have started training for a triathalon (dont ask what puts these ideas in my mind). The fact that I have something that I am training for is really helping me excercise on a regular basis. It is interesting to talk with people about it because everyone usually makes the same comment. They say, "I want to train for one...when are WE racing?" I have to be honest. I usually think "yeah right...I will believe it when I hear that you have been training 3 weeks from now." So the secret is out...I dont believe any of you! I am not sure if Iwill even find a race (although I am shooting for a November race). I was recently thinking, at what point can you refer to yourself as a Triathalete? Am I considered a triathalete after one race or just for simply training for one on a regular basis? I think that the criteria should be a little stricter before we can just assume the title "TRIATHALETE" (I dont even know if this word exists). Let me just suggest that you must compete in more that three triathalons per year, and actually perform in a competitive nature. If I get last every time and really just jog the thing, can I really call my self a triathalete or should I jsut say that I was out for a swim, bike, and a jog while other athletes were racing? I think that we should be careful about the use of the title "triathalete." To claim the title triathalete without paying the price in races and training brings the accomplishments of true triathalets down to the level of the average American couch potato and I refuse to desecrate such hard work and effort.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The infamous asterisk

Well, I dont know if any of you remember or even care, but this past new years I decided to make a New Year resolution. You might be wondering what would drive me to such stupidity. Well, let me tell you. I have never made one of those pesky things and I decided I wanted to see if I could actually do something for a year. I chose to refrain from soda and sweet tea for a year. Did I mention the fact that it is supposed to be a whole year? Well, I recently ran into a little snag, and I think that it needs to be discussed. I have gone strong and stayed away from all soda. It has not been on my lips. I went to great lenghts and refused a desire for an IBC rootbeer or a Dr Pepper. This past week we had a reception for Nathan and Casey, and I got myself a little bit of punch. After a sip I decided that it was too strong and I threw it away. A few minutes later I watch them refill the punch bowl with several ingredients, one of which was ginger ale (that would be a soda). So here is the question, have a I blown it. It is game over as far as the resolution goes? Do I keep going, but simply put an asterisk in the record books? The dilema continues. Now I realize that I havent blogged anything in so long that no one will probably even look at this, but that is OK. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

God's Unfaithful Wife

I just finished reading a book called "God's Unfaithful Wife," and it was remarkable. The book walked through the theme of spiritual adultery in the Bible. All that I can say is that I am stirred and troubled in a very good way. It is so easy to forget the fact that I am Christ's Bride...His lover...His love. I am in a exclusive relationship with Jesus, and there is no other room for competition. I have been joined with Christ spiritually in a similar way to the way a husband and wife are joined physically. I feel nervous even typing this because it seems that it needs to have a holy mystery about it that I want to walk carefully around. I am joined with Christ. Having said this it is unacceptable for me to drawn to any other any other even flirt with it. The picture of God as a spurned lover, married to an ungrateful adulterous women who constantly spurns her husband to seek illicit relationships with any other common man that comes by is sickening to my stomach; but that is written in the Bible very graphically. I then find myself asking if my heart as wondered from my Love? Am I tempted to have illicit relationships with other loves? Am I an unfaithful wife? I feel the tension between being involved in this world (being salt and light) and cheating on my Heavenly spouse. My heart flirts with other loves like money, comfort, lust, pride, self, ego, image, apathy, and so much more. I see myself at times having my mind shaped more by TV, movies, culture than by Christ. At what point is this wrong? I dont know. I then look at the American Church and say that she is the Bride of Christ. I am part of her...God loves her...I love her; but there are some questions that we need to be asking ourself. Are we still in love with our Groom? Have other things crept in that are stealing our intimacy with our Lover? Are we flirting with other loves? Are we doing more than flirting...Are we chasing ever other man that comes along? Reading through parts of Ezekiel, Hosea, and Revelation I am appaled at how angry, gracious, tender, furious, and relentless God's love is. 2 Cor. 11:2 says, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him." Paul goes on to say that he is afraid that they might be deceived and stray away from a "sincere and pure devotion" to Christ. I dont want to stray...I dont want to wander. I want to have that untainted heart, mind, and soul when I meet Christ. That is one of the beautiful things about Christ's redemptive work...He redeems even my adulterous heart.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Breath of God

Life is so fast and hurried. It seems that things continue to buzz and whirl around me; distracting, pressuring, and rushing me. These things easily distract, and as we eliminate these distractions, five more appear to replace it. All of these things make noise and cry out for my attention, but the thing I need the most is the thing I neglect quickest. I cant tell you how many times I have felt God stirring my heart for time with Him...a stirring for some time of quiet undistracted attention...but I am quickly pulled away to a movie, time with friends, church, and even studying to teach a lesson. I miss those intimate times with God, and have begun to wonder why I am so quickly walking away. So, I took some time to look at some verses and something has recently stood out. In 2 Tim 3:16 it says that "All scripture is inspired and is profitable..." The word inspired simply means that it is "God breathed." There are a lot of implications in this word; like that He created it, it has His authority; it is exactly what He wants it to be. These are all things that we would agree with, but I think that there is something else that can and should be added to this. I am assuming that we have all been taught about personal bubbles. By personal bubble, I mean the space that surrounds us that very few people can enter into. We are comfortable with strangers as long as they are a certain distance away. None of us want a complete stranger to be 2 inches from our face while they are talking with us. The better we know someone, the closer to us they can come when we are talking. Have you ever had someone so close that you could feel there breathe when they spoke to you? That is a very intimate space, very few are allowed should probably only be for a husband and wife. Can you picture God communicating to you so closely that you can feel His breath? That is exactly what the Bible is. While God reveals Himself generally through many ways, He specifically and intimately uses the Word of God. I haven’t been viewing the Bible like that lately. It has turned into a book I read. The wonder of it, the intimacy of it, the difficulty of it all seem to have faded. Why? It hasn’t changed. It is alive (Hebrews says that it is living and powerful). My heart has grown dull and calloused. I have wandered off. But the breath of God is as close as the Scriptures.