Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what happened

born into a heritage of faith, but he made it my own at age three or four.

what does that even mean?

i don't know.

but he took hold of me, opened my eyes.

mostly i saw black edges pressed against white spaces, occasionally getting close enough to discern that certain intersections had a grey fade.

then, one day, i started listening to a sermon series called "heart matters" by matt chandler.  suddenly: color. and nothing since has ever been the same.

here it is, in case you want to listen. and you do.

1: the question
2: some answers
3: treasures
4: the talents
5: buying the field

Thursday, March 11, 2010

it's about to get ugly

Do you have a friend you can be ugly in front of?

Every week, H and I have a standing date with each other for AP (accountability partner) time, when we go through a detailed list of questions about our walks with God and our areas of sin. Prior to incorporating this list, I would've said our AP time was great, but it meandered and didn't ever really get deep or help me grow in the areas I wanted to. In comparison to where we are now, it's the difference between feeding your soul canned cat food with a rusty pocketknife versus being fork-fed a medium-rare filet.

If you're looking to put rocket boosters on your walk with God, consider this list, add to it whatever you feel is missing, and ask God to help you. (By the way, H and I each have our own sets of additional questions, because we're weak in different areas.) This list not for the faint of heart. It still terrifies me to go through it.

Note: Most of this list came to me compliments of Brad Cooper, the student ministry pastor at NewSpring Church.

Spiritual Disciplines:

- Did you have time with God in the Word and in prayer everyday this week?
- Did you have a Sabbath this week? (best to establish a regular day for it)
- What memory verse(s) did you learn this week? Recite them.
- Have you prayed frequently for me and my walk with the Lord?

Specific Areas of Sin:

A good practice for this section is to trace each sin you encounter back to the things that led to it. For instance, if you viewed sexual materials, what decisions led to that? What lies, sins, or situations contributed, and how can they be avoided in the future?

- Did you make healthy choices for your schedule (appropriate amounts of sleep, exercise, work, etc.) this week? Were you lazy or overly busy?
- Have you been in any compromising situations with a guy this week? "Compromising" can refer to an inappropriate situation itself or to questionable motives in an otherwise appropriate situation.
- Have you looked at porn, any sexual materials, or masturbated this week?
- Have you had too much to drink this week? (best to establish what this means for each individual and what their specific boundaries are.)
- Where have pride, fear, lust, jealousy, unbelief, etc. shown up in your heart this week? Have they taken root anywhere?

Relationship with God:

- How was your integrity as a leader this week (we both have visible positions of service at our local church)? "Integrity" is consistently walking in what you know to be true, regardless of situation or setting.
- Has God brought any new area of conviction/truth to you this week? How have you obeyed/disobeyed in response to that?
- Has there been or is there any rebellion in your life or your heart this week?

We don't answer with yes / no, but with detailed explanations. This kind of honesty is something I've never experienced on a regular basis, and it has already begun to shape me in ways I've always desired but never knew how to achieve. As a result, the friendship is growing into a place of even more freedom and beauty. I can show H the worst parts of me and, because she has shown me her ugliest sides too, there is a mutual acceptance that provides such a breeding ground for grace and mercy. I treasure it.

It's one of the most beautiful ugly things I've ever seen.

Monday, March 08, 2010

stir & steal

A few days ago, J and I were wandering around Greenville and he asked me about my Sabbath. "What does it look like for you personally?"

Here's my answer:

Sabbath is my "reset" button. It's the day when I attempt to disconnect from most of the things that distract me, while making a concerted effort to re-evaluate my heart, my mind, and my actions to see whether or not I'm choosing Him in each area. Each week I evaluate my actions based on this idea:

"Find the things that stir your affections for Christ and saturate your life in them. Find the things that rob you of that affection and walk away from them. That’s the Christian life as easy as I can explain it for you." - Matt Chandler

What have I done in the past week that fed my affection for Christ? These are some of the things on my "stir" / "saturate your life with" list:

being outside
serving in the green room
accountability meetings
spontaneous fun
fireworks & explosions
staring at the sky
soul-stirring music
loosely structured scheduling
talks about science and time travel
talks about God and theology
sermon podcasts
hanging out with good friends
spending time w/Jesus as soon as I wake
encouraging others
seeing and meeting people's needs

What have I done in the past week that pulled me away from Christ? These are some of the things on my "steal" / "eliminate from you life" list:

too much / not enough sleep
staying up too late (I do most of my sinning late at night)
drinking more than 2-3 drinks in a night
eating too much / little
spending too much time on the internet / facebook
laziness and passivity
sex scenes in movies
watching TV
certain magazines
listening to or participating in gossip
being selfish with my time, dreams, gifts, instead of Kingdom-focused
negative conversations
sexual songs
club scenes where debauchery is the goal

Because Sundays are usually workdays for me, I often take my Sabbath on Monday. Here's what went down last Monday:

Slept 8 hours
Read the Bible while eating breakfast
Sat in a park and did my Bible study for D-Group
Lunch with a friend
Piper podcast while running, Chandler podcast while working out
Coffee with a friend
Monday night D-Group
Sat on a porch, talking with friends

Sometimes I take a vow of silence for the better part of the day. Sometimes I fast. I try not to be legalistic about anything. I just want to make sure that it's not overly full or that it's not a lazy or "pampering" day. I can't tell you how much this has breathed life into my spirit.

But that doesn't happen from rest alone. The point of resting from distractions is so that I can pursue deeper intimacy with Christ and remind my heart that its focus should always be on Him. I get to push everything else aside and just love my Lover.

What stirs and steals your affections for Christ?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

“What you think about in your unguarded moments reflects what your mind dwells upon. What you speak about when your guard is down is a good gauge of what is in your heart (Matt. 12:34)…

The things you allow your mind to dwell on will be revealed by the way you live. If you focus on negative things, you will inevitably be a negative person. If you allow unholy thoughts to fill your mind, ungodliness will become common in your life. If you fill your mind with thoughts of Christ, you will become Christlike. What you fill your mind with is a matter of choice. (Phil. 4:8).”

—Henry Blackaby
03.04.10 devotional