Sunday, April 26, 2009

10K run

So this time next week I will be arriving in Mississippi getting ready to help rebuild houses! This makes me a bit nervous, mainly because I have NO carpentry skills whatsoever. I am going however, willing to help and willing to learn, willing to live and willing to serve God. Every mission needs funding though, and today I did my part. You might have a difficult time finding someone more out of shape then myself, and yet for some reason if you were walking down the lakefront trail in Toronto this afternoon, you may have seen me running. I ran 10 kilometers today! I thought it would kill me, or at least almost kill me. I was not expecting it to feel good! I should start jogging more often. I didn't officially "run" the whole way if you want to get technical, I would run until I didn't think I could run any more and then I would walk for a bit. I ran 5k into town and then turned around and walked back. Sarah met me at the 7k mark with Chinese food and then she finished the race with me. I have the best wife ever :). She knows the way to my heart.

Anyway, I'm falling asleep, possibly from running exhaustion, so I'm going to go. I'll keep everyone posted on further Mississippi trip details as the progress. cheers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

havent posted in a while

A while ago I walked into a store called "The Phone Booth" to buy a new cell phone charger (one of my rabbits must have chewed through the old one...) and I noticed a big sign that said "3 months free internet! ask for details." Being naturally inquisitive I asked for details.

"Is there a catch?" I asked

"no catch." she said

"what about the fine print?"

"no fine print."

"But if I take the modem out of the box that constitutes a three year contract, right?" (I've been taken before.)

"Nope, no catch, no fine print, no contract. just 3 free months."

so I did it. And low and behold i blogged, I face booked, I youtubed, and so help me God, I lived. Eventually 3 months turned into 4, more accidentally than purposely. And as the recession hit us, and my hours got cut we realized... we can't keep it. It was like looking into the face of God and having him say "$50 a month!", okay so maybe not. All sac religious similes aside, we unplugged and shipped it back to Bell. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I haven't posted in a while.

Things have been good though, for the most part. Weird, obnoxious, needlessly complicated, but good. God is good, people are annoying. But we'll get through it. stay tuned!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In need of a Resurrection?

This time of year always brings up thoughts of forgiveness and resurrection. I've always had difficulty grasping the meaning and the gravity of Good Friday. I think possibly because I've always known Jesus to be alive, so it's difficult to mourn the death of someone still with you. That's not to say that I don't understand the importance of the day, the act, or the sacrifice, it's just difficult to grieve when you are still filled with joy. I have, when applicable, felt grieved as a result of my sin, but the forgiveness I've found in Jesus far surpasses that. The sorrow I have lasts only a while, where as the joy I've found in Christ stays with me always.

God has really been working in my heart as of lately, teaching me how to love. In the past on Easter Sunday I would sit in anger and cynicism at the crowded church. Here I am, a faithful attendee of the congregation, surrounded by people who are attending bitterly out of guilt and obligation because it's a holiday. I would sit and sing to myself a little song along the lines of:
"If I had a little box to put my Jesus in,
I'd take him out at Christmas time,
then put him back again."
I realize it's Easter, not Christmas, but the song was still applicable. This year however God instilled in me a new sense of compassion. Where before I was filled with contempt, now I was filled with love. These are people who's only exposure to Christianity is the three times a year that they attend out of guilt. If a church service lasts an hour and a half then we have approximately 4.5 hours a year to effectively witness the love of Christ to these people. That's not a lot of time. And if the majority of the church feels the same way I did in years past then I doubt we are doing a good job of it.

I have a friend named Derek who once said to me "Baker, you are the first Christian who hasn't told me I'm going to hell. You haven't said I'm not going to hell, but you haven't told me I am." Is that what we've become as a church? Instead of loving the lost are are condemning them?

The truth is, there probably isn't a way that we can reach people in an hour and a half, three times a year. But what are we doing the rest of that year? We need to be contagiously lovable, we need to be out in the world, serving, loving and having fellowship and community. Then the Christ who lives in us, who transforms us, would seem irresistible. And that is how we will resurrect the Church. That is how we ourselves will be resurrected.

Romans 6:4-6
4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scandalous Love

God wants us to love each other. That's pretty basic, that's Sunday school type material. How come we are so bad at it then? Why do we avoid eye contact with people on the bus? Why do we avoid contact in general? Has our need to be independent separated us from the plan of God? In John 14:12 Jesus talks about the things we can do in his name.

John 14:12
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Now although I do believe he speaks about miracles in this passage I also think there is a deeper, more integral meaning in this passage. It wasn't so much that Jesus was healing people and raising the dead, it was HOW he was doing it. He was loving people. He would touch the lepers, he would touch the deformed, he would speak to the blind, the bleeding and the lame. He lived with the poor, the hungry and the destitute. He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes and Romans. We are the hands and feet of Christ, we are to do his will and we CAN do miracles, but we must first align ourselves with the will of God. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 it says this:

1 Corinthians 13:1-2
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

We must love each other. We must love people as God loved them. We need to get over our social barriers erected to keep us safe. Realize that God loves people like Mother Theresa, Timothy McVeigh, Billy Graham, Hitler, The homeless guy at the end of your block, you. He loves zealots, hypocrites, fools, saints, bigots, Liberals, Conservatives, gays, straights, pastors, construction workers, social workers and call girls. HE LOVES EVERYONE! and so should you. If you read this, think of someone who's wronged you. Some one you hate. Forgive them. Love them. The bible says that even the pagans love their friends and families. We need to love our enemies. A crazy scandalous kind of love. The kind of love that gets you killed. I love you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 ways to love God (part 5)

Exodus 20:14

14 "You shall not commit adultery."

Where do I start with this one? It seems like it should be easy, just keep it in your pants right? But this is an issue that most guys, and most girls struggle immensely with. It could be that we live in a society that seems to be fueled by sex. We have this urge to be independent that isolates us so that the only time we feel loved or accepted is when we're having sex. TV and movies are filled with people engaged in adulterous behavior, advertisements on buses, in magazines, even in some free newspapers are specifically geared to trigger lust. It is impossible to escape it.

But why is it bad? I mean, sex feels good right? Well, aside from the risks of STD's and STI's, pregnancy etc. The bible has more than a few things to say about it.

Genesis 2:24
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Older translations say "will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife..." which paints sort of a graphic picture. But the part I want emphasis on in the last bit, "They will become one flesh." This is a clear statement, that when sexual intimacy occurs there is a uniting of the two parties. In first Corinthians 6 it says this:

1 Corinthians 6:16
16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?

If you are married and you have an extra marital affair with someone, you then become married to that person, maybe not in the traditional sense of marriage that we have in North America, but in the literal definition of the word marriage, which is the joining of two things together.

One of our biggest downfalls in North America is our sense of love. We have no idea what it means to love. Some blame the English language for only having one blanket word for all the different forms of love. I blame tv, movies, fairy tales and ignorance. I had a friend who was cheating on his wife, when I asked him why, he said "I'm in love with this other woman..." I tried to explain to him that there is no such thing... There is attraction, there is infatuation, but there is no "in love" at least not in the way that we think. To be "in love" as the words describe would be in the constant act of love. Love not being a feeling, but rather a choice. You choose to love someone by choosing each day to treat them with respect, honour them, listen the what they have to say, do nice things for them and participate in your relationship. If you are not doing these things then you are not in love. And I can guarantee you that if you are in love, then you won't find yourself looking elsewhere for love and gratification. If you are doing these things for the one you love, they will do similar things for you, and the cycle begins to grow.

In Proverbs 6 it says
"32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
whoever does so destroys himself."

Adultery is not just something that effects married men, if you are unmarried and having sexual relations you are still committing adultery. God has a plan for your life, some one he wants you to be with, or maybe he wants you to be happily single, either way, when you sleep with someone you are not meant to be with you are robbing yourself of God's riches for you, and you are robbing your spouse of their rights. Furthermore, if you are dating the person you are meant to be with, don't you think you owe it to them and to God to wait? They are not yet yours. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says "19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,"

The issue goes much deeper than this however, Jesus says this in Matthew 5:27-28

27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Kind of shoots down the "It doesn't hurt to look" theory. I can't even count the amount of women I've committed adultery with because of stray thoughts...

A lot of people will tell you that adultery is bad, but not many people are ready with an answer of how NOT to do it, or better yet how to get back on the straight and arrow if you HAVE committed adultery. Many people, after messing up, have an attitude of "well, I guess it doesn't matter now..." and then they think it's okay, or doesn't matter if they keep going on their current path. But God wants you back, we serve a God of forgiveness and grace. Thank God for grace. After all, Jesus forgave the adulterous woman.

John 8:3-11
3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus wants to forgive you too. But how do you live afterward? How should you conduct yourself? The verse I sited earlier from 1 Corinthians 6 has some good advice.

1 Corinthians 6:15-17
15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

So be joined to the Lord, be in communion with him, walk in his perfect will and trust his plan for your life.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20
18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

So go, be joined to Christ, and sin no more.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A good day to die.

I went to a baptism yesterday. A few friends of mine were taking the plunge, one of them actually surprised me because I didn't know he was being baptized that day. He then surprised me again as he was about to get dunked, he said something funny, but also incredibly profound. "Thanks for coming out everyone! I thought today would be a beautiful day to die."

That really hit me. That's what baptism is, being dead to your old self and then being alive in Christ. So that is my prayer for him, that he would truly die to his old self and be raised in Christ. God bless you Darce.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A sexy calamity

We live in a sex driven society, there is no getting around that. Sex is portrayed as this empowering, wonderful thing, and in some respects it is, but not in the way we think. Having grown up in a Christian home, and having attended church my whole life I've had the notion that you need to save yourself for marriage pretty much shoved down my throat, and I don't disagree with that. What parents and pastors are bad at however, is explaining why. It is imperative to save ones self for marriage, and the reason for this is sex IS a marriage, it is the giving of ones self over completely to the other person, to become completely vulnerable and be completely accepted by someone and to completely accept them back. Sounds amazing doesn't it? It is. Now I do want to make something clear, sex is a marriage, however a marriage is not necessarily sex. There is much more that goes into a marriage, but my point is that when you have sex, whether you are married to the person or not, you engage in a physical agreement, a commitment to the other person. There is no such thing as sex without emotion, and if you've had it then I would be forced to assume that you are in someway emotionally handicapped.

The truth is, sex is not the steamy, sexy, charismatic thing that you see in the movies. It is often awkward, usually messy and not always mutually satisfying, which is why God intended it to be with someone you love, someone who loves you. Someone who can see you at your most vulnerable and embarrassing and embrace you with love and respect, and the truth is that can't be achieved with someone you are not in a committed relationship with.

I have some friends who have had a lot of hurt introduced into their lives recently due to poor decisions made by either themselves or their partners in terms of sex. I have other friends who had their hurt long ago.

Sarah and I both forgave each other our pasts before we had even considered marriage. A few months back however I had this revelation, this realization of how much I loved her, and how I had wronged her, before I even met her, through the decisions I had made is past relationships, and so I apologized, and she forgave me again. We have a duty to our future spouses; Our duty is to abstain from sexual immorality. We need to abstain to show our respect to our spouses, you are their future property and you should respect that. You should also when you are with your future spouse, respect that they still belong to God, and are his property, and you wouldn't want to abuse that.

It's a messy, heartbreaking, wonderful subject. It's a sexy calamity the likes of which mankind will never get over. It's sex.