Tag Archives: Church

A Light in the Evanescence

Hey! It’s me again. I know, you probably thought I died or something because it’s been so long since I said anything here. Rest assured, I have not passed on but am instead alive, very well (thank you for your concern), and trying to restart this blog before IT dies.

Speaking about dying (bad transition, I know, but you’ll have to move on because I’m not changing it), I have been struck lately by how transient this world really is. From our births, we are stuck in a cycle that is doomed to end.

Whether it be fame, money, careers, youth, or even relationships, the cycle cannot last forever. Money is fleeting: princes have become paupers overnight. Youth only lasts for so long. Relationships very often end before they are properly started. And as for fame… can any of you name all the American Idols? I can’t. See. You can’t do it either. Case closed.

Even at its most basic level, life itself, we see a clear starting point and a definite end. Our world is built upon things that cannot and will not ever last. But, for some reason, we lose sight of the fact that the now is not the only thing that matters. It is so easy to get caught up in mindless entertainment and the trivial matters or today that we take our eyes down from the Goal and look down at the ground, or, as is oftentimes the case, into the gutter.

Everyone has their own things that distract them from the Goal. For some, as I mentioned earlier, it’s money. For some, sports. For some, relationships. I’m more of a I-want-as-much-personal-and-particularly-juicy-scoop-as-you-can-give-me sort of person. I’m not a gossip. Honest. Your secrets are safe with me. I promise. It’s just that I need to know what’s happening in people’s lives like some people need to know who won last night’s football (a.k.a. “soccer”) game. To me it’s just that kind of important. So when I heard that, for example, Carrie Underwood was getting married, I was very excited. Probably overexcited. But that’s not the point. Or, for something that more people can relate to, the Royal Wedding.

But what got me thinking was this: If a personal detail in the lives of a few people entire unconnected to myself can get me so excited, why can I not get so excited about what God (Someone very important) has done and is doing in me (someone entirely connected to myself) or my friends? Why can I not have at least the same level of concern for the salvation of those around me as for the floor I will get at Wheaton next year? What have I gotten out of knowing about Carrie’s wedding except for the ability to (finally) have a something to say in a conversation with an avid hockey fan (she married a hockey player)? Why would I rather spend my money on a new shirt, song, or video game when I could (and probably should) be thinking how to best maximize its impact in a place that matters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that has to take everything to an extreme. Nothing is half-hearted. I either enthusiastically throw myself into a project or don’t even give it a second thought (or a first thought, for that matter). I either exercise fanatically or not at all. I can’t just like a singer – I either love her or hate her (keep your comments about Enya to yourself as we move on). But any one of those things – my hard-held opinions – can change in a heartbeat. A big mistake or continual frustration can quell my passion for the project I’m working on. A rainy day that throws off my workout routine can be enough to get me out of the gym for weeks. A few lame songs and I don’t really like the singer as much as I used to. Getting up a few minutes late or saying “I’ll do it later” can result in days without a quiet time.

But thanks be to God! For He is not like us! He is constant. Even though we may change, He is our firm Rock. He is an island in the chaos. He is our unwavering light in the cycle of evanescence (that’s my favorite word, just FYI). He is the Goal to which we should be striving, not the fleeting moment. I will die. My aviator sunglasses will go out of style and I will look back at the picture of myself and laugh in shame. I might end up hating my friends so much that I never want to see them again. I will get old and fat and ugly (and don’t you get so smug, because so will you). As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Nobody’s going to remember or care who did what and who wore what at which awards, who beat whom at which games, what your wore, what you ate, how clean your house was, or anything like that 100, 50, 20, 10, or even 5 years from now. But what will matter is how we have spent our time serving our Lord and making His presence known on the earth until He returns. And I pray that when He returns He will find that I did indeed utilize all the resources, gifts, and talents He gave me to my best ability and to His glory alone.


Are There Apostles Today?: An Essay

The term “apostle” has been around ever since before the beginning of what we would call the church. Although traditionally used to refer to the twelve apostles that Christ had personally chosen, the term may be acceptable to use even for Christians today. The word apostle is from the Greek word apostolos which means, “one who is sent.” There are many instances in the Bible where the word apostle is mentioned – eighty times in the King James Version.

Until the beginning of the church, the word in its Biblical context referred only to the twelve apostles that were specifically chosen by the Lord while in His human form. With the death of Judas Iscariot, however, the remaining eleven apostles believed it necessary that another man fill the spot, which Judas Iscariot had left vacant. After casting lots, the apostles chose Matthias to become the new twelfth apostle, even though he was not chosen by the Lord while in His physical body.

Another example of an apostle who was chosen by a process other than by Christ in his physical body is that of Paul. Paul was confronted on the road to Damascus by the voice of the Lord and a bright light, which soon led to his conversion. Then, in the introduction of the book to the Romans, Paul writes, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…” (Romans 1:1), clearly believing that he was an apostle even though he had not had any face-to-face contact with the Lord.

One may argue, however, that Paul, through his confrontation on the road to Damascus, and Matthias, through the Lord’s sovereignty over the outcome of the lots, were indeed chosen directly by the Lord to be called apostles. Even in the examples of people such as James, the Lord’s brother, and Barnabas, who were both referred as apostles in Galatians 1:19 and Acts 14:14, respectively, it is safe to argue that the Lord may have bestowed a similar honor upon them. In the case of James, close fellowship with Christ was likely a daily routine, and, as seen in Acts 9:27, Barnabas already had an established relationship with the apostles and for that reason he may have been considered an apostle himself.

There is no accounting, however, using the previously stated arguments for the following verse written to the Corinthians: “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works” (2 Corinthians 12:12), for Christ never was recorded to visit the city of Corinth, which was about 600 miles away from Jerusalem as the crow flies, and it is unlikely that the Corinthians received any special revelation from the risen Christ in which he ordained them to be apostles. It is also important to note that Paul did not “ordain” any of the Corinthians to be apostles since his missionary to the city of Corinth was not particularly long and scholars are not sure whether or not Paul made a second journey to that city.

So should Christians today be called apostles? This is a question wrought with peril and many implications. The term apostle is traditionally reserved only for those chosen by Christ during His life on the earth and for Paul. The term thus implies religious authority that none today possess. However, by strictly using the definition of the word as our guideline, many people could be “apostles,” though not necessarily apostles of Christ.

By narrowing the definition to include only those who “are sent” and those who meet the requirements of 2 Corinthians 12:12, we may say that missionaries and church planters, and, quite possibly, all Christians under the Great Commission, are apostles. It may be wisest, however, to avoid use of this term because it implies a degree of religious authority that no Christian possesses today.


Psalm 121

In looking forward to Summer Camp in 34 days, I thought that it would be appropriate to publish one of our Scripture memorization passages: Psalm 121. Apparently we have another one as well, but I don’t know what it is yet. This is a beautiful Psalm and our pastor just preached on it yesterday.

Enjoy!

Psalm 121
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.


God’s Sovereignty in the Book of Esther

I know that I haven’t written in a while! Sorry…! I have decided to try to get back into the habit of blogging, especially because school has slowed down a bit.

In Sunday School, we have been doing a series on the book of Esther. In this book, there are so many things, as you clearly pointed out, Mr. Stern, which would seem to be remarkable “coincidences” and “good luck” to the world. However, even though God is never mentioned in the book, we know these to be sovereign acts of God and not just mere chance. To get a glimpse of how many of these “coincidences” there are, I thought that I would list some of them:

Xerxes just happens to throw a big party. At this party, his wife, Queen Vashti, just happens to refuse to show up. This just happens to make Xerxes really angry which just happens to make him want to “fire” her from her Queen-ship. Xerxes just happens to want another wife. Esther is a girl who just happens to be extraordinarily beautiful. She also just happens to be a Jew. Mordecai just happens to have adopted her after her parents just happened to die. It just so happens that Xerxes loved Esther more than any other woman and just happens to want her as his wife. Mordecai just happens to overhear a plot to kill Xerxes and his name just happens to get recorded in the records book but it so happens that Mordecai never get rewarded for his service. Haman’s lot just happened to fall on a date that was almost a year away. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews and it just so happened that he knew the queen, who was also a Jew and his niece. Esther just happened to find favour in the sight of the king and was able to invite him and Haman to two consecutive banquets, which the just happened to want to attend. The king just happened to be unable one night and learned the Mordecai had never been rewarded for saving his life. Haman just happened to build a gallows to hang Mordecai on. Haman just so happened to be hung on this gallows when the king learns of the plot to kill the Jews instead of Mordecai…

The list goes on and on…

Is it not amazing to know that the God Who can sovereignly ordain these things is in control over all the circumstances that we face every day?


Do Hard Things

Before I begin, I want to say that I have figured out (with Ian’s help) how to automatically subscribe you (as a reader of my blog) to my blog posts or click, this link: http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2857363&loc=en_US. If you are interested, please click on the link on the sidebar that says “Subscribe to Taste and See by Email”. So, if you want to subscribe to Taste and See by email, click there!

 

At the guy’s discipleship group at my church, we just finished going through Alex and Brett Harris’s book Do Hard Things. I found it to be an excellent reminder in my own life even though I was walking into it not expecting to be changed.

 

I now have several hard things to work on. The book jolted me out of my comfort-zone of mediocrity and gave me a passion to do those hard things and become someone different. But when I started thinking of practical applications, I had second thoughts. I want to be known as a leader in Youth Group – someone that immediately extends himself to the new people; someone that others feel comfortable coming to when they have a problem; someone who is the first to share on Testimony Night and the first to volunteer for anything; the first to open up to others and the first to be willing to lead. But I’m shy. I know that comes as a shock to some of the adults I know (and Grant) because I am not shy with adults. But I’m shy with people my age. I joke that my peer group is almost entirely 40 years old and better, but it’s actually quite true. Don’t get me wrong – my peer group is amazing. But I also want to help those who are my age. 

 

In discipleship group, we talked about the changes we would like to see at Youth Group over the next year. I have noticed that in our Youth Group (and, from reports that I have heard – it’s a more of a nation-wide problem), the kids rarely come back on Wednesdays as soon as the become Seniors in high school. I told the group that I would like to see Seniors come back this year because I know from experience what a powerful effect the older children can have on the younger. Everyone liked this, and so did I, until I asked how we could pull this off. It basically boiled down to going up to them and asking why they aren’t coming. This didn’t appeal to me. And neither did the solution to my desire to become a leader in Youth Group: talking to those that seem to be alone or just people that I haven’t talked to before and actually trying to get into a spiritual conversation.

 

Now that I think about it, two things come to my mind:

1.       Either they will listen to you, ignore you, or laugh at you (I’m hopeful that first two are the only of the three that actually occur at our church). But whatever their response is, they’re only people.

2.       You act according to the level of your desire. If you want strongly enough to become a leader (or whatever you strongly desire to be), then you will actively pursue relationships with those you do not know. If you are not willing to overcome your shyness – even for the sake of the others at Youth Group – then you either do not desire strongly enough to become a leader or (to say it quite bluntly) are selfish.

 

So my hard things for this year –  loosely tied to my New Year’s Resolutions (here’s where Lindsey and Abbie groan ) – are:

To at least begin to be recognized as a leader at Youth Group.

To be as regular with reading my Bible as I am with listening to music (Here’s where Grant groans – yes: I am listening to Enya as I write this), checking my emails (Where Noah groans ) and eating (Here’s where everyone groans ).

To become aware of the needs of others and not so centered on myself so that my prayer life can get taken off “Me! Me! Me!” and be more about others.

To form friendships with at least 2 or 3 people that I know or barely know now. These won’t be superficial – they will be deeper, more personal, and centered on our common foundation of our salvation.

 

Please pray for me regularly (if not daily) about these things (but I don’t want to have to make you remember to do that. If I was you, I’d probably forget, too, even though I would have every good intention to remember ). And PLEASE ask me how I am doing in these areas and tell me what you see in my and how you would like to see change in my own life. I want all the feedback I can get. I always say that if you don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong, but two or three people say that you are, it’s probably not a conspiracy against you – it’s probably the truth. I want to be as humble as possible, but pride always finds it way into our hearts, doesn’t it? So you can even tell me that I’m not being humble .