30 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Seventeen

Today's Task is focused on the spiritual discipline of fasting. I decided to do a computer fast on Sunday, since fasting from food wasn't workable. I've been trying to get into regularly doing a internet fast for Sundays, but haven't worked towards doing it for a full twenty-four hours. This was good motivation to work on that. Instead of checking my email, I instead would spend time working on memorizing Romans 12, along with spending time in prayer. Fasting is an important spiritual discipline that has been greatly neglected by the church today. As circumstances allow, I hope to move towards fasting not just on Sundays, and not just from internet.

28 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Fifteen

Task Fifteen is basically to read Can We Be Good Without God? It's a good article, addressing whether or not we can know and do what is good without God. It brings up some good points. One of them is that everyone has the law of God engraved on their hearts, but it is a matter of whether or not we are lying to ourselves about what we know deep-down to be true. If you repeat a lie long enough, at some point you will start to believe that the lie is actually the truth. On our own, we can do good works...occasionaly, that is. I enjoyed the way the author illustrated it:
Once one of my students asked if he could talk about God with me. I said okay. He told me he didn't see why he couldn't be good without God. I asked him why he didn't. He said, "Because I think I'm a decent person." I replied, "If you think your decency is high enough for God, your idea of God must be pretty low." At first he was shocked. But then I asked him whether he thought he could go a week without selfishness, without resentment, without lust. I asked whether he thought he could go a day, an hour, ten minutes. He got the point, because he knew he couldn't. By myself, neither can I.

Without Christ, we can't know good or do good works. It is awesome to think of how Yahweh chose me to serve Him, and that He has given me the power and ability to do good works and has graciously given me His word to discern what is good and what is evil.

27 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Fourteen

Today's task focuses on life. Why should we be concerned about protecting pre-born life?

1. Yahweh creates the pre-born. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb." (Psalm 139:13)

2. Yahweh takes seriously the life of the pre-born. "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise" (Exodus 21:22-25).

3. Yahweh has plans for the pre-born, even before they are created. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5); "But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace . . ." (Galatians 1:15)

4. Children are blessings and rewards. "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

5. They are human beings. "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…[saying] ‘As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy'" (Luke 1:41, 44).

6. We are commanded not to kill. "You shall not murder." (Deuteronomy 5:17)

26 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Thirteen

This task  kicks off Worldview week.

What does Romans 12:1-2 reveal about God and how we live in light of His truths? We see that He is merciful and holy, and He desires us to be holy as He is holy. We should be following His truths, not what the world is telling us. We are living sacrifices to God, and as such are to be seeking, with His help, to be perfect and acceptable sacrifices to Him. There is connection here between our spiritual and physical - we are to serve Him physically as well as spiritually. We should not be seeking to satisfy our flesh, but to be storing us spiritual treasures, treasures in heaven.

John Piper's sermons, A Cause to Live For, makes some good points. To die for something is a one-time act. To live for something is a constant dying to oneself. Certainly the first can be difficult, but the latter is one of the toughest things to do. Don't just be willing to die for Christ, be willing to live for Him and to change the world around you for His glory.

23 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Eleven & Twelve

For Task Eleven, I had to step outside of my comfort zone and meet somone new. Check. :)

Task Twelve was a little more difficult. It's things I know but have a hard time putting into practice. For certain reasons, I don't find it easy to plug into the church that my family attends. This is something I should probably work on more, but for various personal reasons I have not. I did send a short thank-you to a young lady who is on the worship team and does a good job selflessly serving the church. Hopefully it was an encouragement to her.

20 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Nine & Ten

Task Nine was simple enough, performing an act of service for someone.

Task Ten focuses on mentorship. I haven't quite thought of mentorship in relation to myself (as either mentor or 'mentoree') so it was definitely an interesting read. Obviously,  most difficult part is when there isn't anyone there - either to learn from or to teach. As I've watched the younger girls that I know grow older (I'm still trying to believe that both one of my closest friends and my younger sister are turning eighteen...) I am starting to realize that I've already been through what some of these young ladies are just starting to embark on. It's actually a little frightening to me to realize that I am that old! ;-) Thus I've been pondering what exactly I would tell these girls when they struggle with some of the issues I've already been through. Perhaps some of these musings will appear as a future blogpost. Or if you really want to know, I'll just talk to you personally. ;-)

My family's adoption journey over the past several years has been one of those events that has aided to shape me into the person I am today. There is so much I wish I knew when we started out that took years to learn and I hope that perhaps I can save someone the pain I and my family have been through by learning from my family's experiences. Some things will only be learned by personal experience but certainly not everything. Hopefully by sharing what we've learned, others will avoid the same mistakes and won't have the same naiveness.

I've also realized how I need to be willing to have mentors. I have the privilege of having very wise friends whose counsel I trust. I certainly am thankful for that blessing, for I know that not everyone has that opportunity. It's reassuring to know that they're there whenever I need advice, and I can trust in them to give solid biblical counsel. I just need to not be afraid to ask!

19 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Eight

For this task, I am to memorize and meditate on the community aspect of Romans 12:3-8.

There are two particularly good reminders in this passage. The first is that we can't function well together as a community unless we are humble. How can I get along with others if I think I am better than them all? Pride is something we all have, that can manifest itself in many different ways and is something that we have to constantly battle against. Secondly, we each will differ in our gifts (as I mentioned in the last post) and are to faithfully serve the Lord and glorify Him with the gifts He has given us.

16 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Seven

This task shifts the focous from Relationships Week to Community Week. Part of the assignment is to read/listen to this sermon from John Piper. It's based on Romans 12:1-8, which is part of the chapter that I am memorizing for the challenge.

None of the sermon was "new" for me, but it was a good reminder. Each of us have our own separate gifts, and are not to despise others simply because they can't do what we can. Most likely they are gifted in another area in which we ourselves are lacking. We are also to work together, combining our gifts to further His kingdom. By helping someone who is lacking in an ability that comes naturally for ourselves, we are better able to accomplish this.If we want to use our gifts to the best advantage, then that is what we are do - work together as many separate parts of one body.

Boundless Summer Challenge Task Six

The task for today was once again on one of my favorite topics. I enjoyed reading the articles that were linked to. I found them quite interested. As of late, I have come in contact with several different articles that talk about "settling", so I guess this is something I need to hear! My view of marriage is changing. I've realized that at times my view of it has been selfish. I've realized that marriage is not about us being completed, but about God being glorified. It's not about whether this person meets my pre-conceived romantic notions, but whether they meet the biblical standard. It's not about my needs being met, but about furthering His kingdom. Forget about whether or not he's older, prefers pants over shorts, taller, is a deep thinker, dresses in the Oxford style, or if he has an unlimited knowledge on all things theological - not to say that those things can't be good desires (though I'm certain not everyone would agree completely), but my focous should be on what qualities Yahweh desires in my marriage partner.

I've heard arguments both for and against "the list". Should we have a list of requirements that someone must meet if they want to be our spouse? If they are solid, biblical principles - then the answer is yes. We ought to have non-negotiables. Mrs. Watters gives four, and backs them up with scripture (the article is here): He must be a believer; he must be able and willing to provide for his family; he must love sacrificially; he must be honest, have a good reputation and strive for the qualities of a spiritual leader. No one is going to fully embody all of these characteristics, but they ought to be travelling in that trajectory. Personally, the guy would have to agree with me on few crucial theological points, but other then that I would agree with Mrs. Watters. It's not easy to let go of my own negotiables, but I'm learning to make it about Him, not me.

14 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge: Task Five

Today's task was the hardest for me yet. I don't talk to friends on the phone all that often, so it's not something that comes natural to me. I also don't know if I could say I have a close friend outside of my family. I have really good friends, but none that I feel completely know me. I chose one of my closer friends. Unfortunately, she lives many hours away and we've only met once (and before we were friends, at that!) but she is one of my friends who probably knows the most about me just because we talk so often. Being in a totally different state, and over thirteen hours away from each other can make a friendship tough, though. I had been hoping to finally get the rare opportunity to talk with her on the phone and this was the motivation I needed to find a time that worked for both of us. I was much too tired to actually have a really good conversation, but it was great just being to hear a real, live voice instead of reading text. :) Like I said, I was tired, so I ended up forgetting to ask the required questions and had to follow up later. Though there isn't anything obvious about the friendship that I can improve,  I realize this is an area of my life that I have not exerted much energy in, and in the coming year I am praying to do better.

13 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Four

Today's task was timely. You see, my father usually plans trips at the last minute. Don't get me wrong, I love being spontaneous, but there are times when I like to plan ahead to avoid the stress of last-minute packing. So when I learn that I need to pack up to head to the beach in a few hours, I had two choices - whine, moan, complain, and get angry about not getting more of a notice, or respect his decision as head of the house and do everything in my power to make it possible. I haven't always made the right decision when standing at that crossroad, but this time I am thankful that the Holy Spirit enabled me to be unselfish and place others first. I've realized that my father doesn't plan last-minute trips just to frustrate me, it's just the way he is. And you know what? I think that is one of my favorite qualities about my dad - his spontaneity.

12 July 2010

Boundless Task Three, Romans 12:9-13

The assignment for today was to memorize, meditate, and share my thoughts on Romans 12:9-13.

I enjoyed Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage. He says, "Now all our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, and that sweet work, love. ". He proceeds to comment on the three types of love mentioned here - affectionate love, respectful love, and liberal love. With this division, I will give my thoughts on each section.

An affectionate love:
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. "

Genuine love - that is a lot harder than it sounds! It is not just acting nice towards someone, but truly caring for them no matter how they have acted toward me.

Abhor what is evil - not only knowing that I shouldn't sin, but hating and despising sin.

Hold fast to what is good - turning away from the bad on holding tightly to what is good, without a single longing glance at the other side.

Love one another with brotherly affection - we are to love each other as we love our own kith and kin. As a friend of mine commented, we should love them even better than our family members, as our treatment towards members of our own family isn't always the best.

A Respectful Love:
"Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord."

Outdo one another in showing honour - it can be difficult to put others before ourselves. I am supposed to try to outdo others in showing honour, not in outdoing them and their works.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord - I am to avoid sloth. Proverbs especially is brimming with verses that address slothfulness and the consequences of it. I am to be fervent in spirit, serving Yahweh, not myself or my sinful nature.

A Liberal Love:
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs the saints and seek to show hospitality. "
Rejoice in hope - even in the bleakest circumstances, we can rejoice for our hope is in Yahweh.

Be patient in tribulation - instead of being eager for the tribulation or trial to be quickly over, I ought to be seeking out what Yahweh is teaching me and realize that He is working everything out for my ultimate good.

Be constant in prayer - Yahweh is always there, ready to speak with me. As a young couple is always doing things together, constantly talking to each other and wanting to know what the other is up to, I should be constantly conversing with my Father.

Contribute to the needs of the saints - we are not each to live our own lives, but to care for our fellow saints, whether it is physically, spiritually, or emotionally.

Seek to show hospitality - this can be as easy as inviting another family over for dinner. Christian hospitality is often lacking, sadly, and we ought to seek to remedy that by making ourselves more willing to open our homes to the needy around us.

That's all for today, folks! :)

11 July 2010

Boundless Summer Challenge, Task Two (Biblical Dating)

The assignment for July 9-11 was to read the boundless.com series on biblical dating and share some of my thoughts. (Read the PDF here -http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/Boundless_BiblicalDating.pdf ) If you have not read the series before, I would encourage you to do so now. It is a bit lengthy but it will be well worth the effort.

The first article, Biblical Dating: An Introduction (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001401.cfm), defines the difference between biblical dating and modern dating. The biblical principles are well laid-out and contrasting it to modern dating. Whether you call it biblical dating, courtship, or betrothal isn't important as long as you have solid biblical principles to guide you.

"To Kiss or Not to Kiss" is a biblical defense in favour of keeping all sexual activity until marriage, included kissing. Yes, I just said kissing. I realize there are those that would disagree, but I am with the author on this one - no kissing until after marriage.

So you have your basic foundation of biblical principles for courtship. The question is, "Are You Ready to Date?" (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001449.cfm). Before you even consider looking for a spouse, you should ask yourself if you are both ready and able to marry. If the answer is yes, then start looking for a potential partner that would make a good husband or wife according to the biblical standard. If it's no, one should obviously refrain from seeking to become involved in a romantic relationship.

The next three articles - Just Friends (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001475.cfm), Navigating the Early Stages of a Relationship (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001512.cfm), Growing in Intimacy (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001532.cfm), and Tips for Engagement (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001549.cfm) - provide practical tips and biblical counsel for each stage of the relationship as it progresses.

One of my all-time favorite Boundless articles is "From 'Hi' to 'I Do' in a Year" (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001598.cfm). One year is plenty of time to discover whether or not you can marry the person. This includes not having a long engagement.

The best article in this series is "Settling". Even if you don't read or agree with the rest of the series, I highly recommend reading this one. Sometimes we think we are holding out for the best= when we're actually being selfish. Instead of being concern about whether this person meets our pre-conceived romantic notions, we should be asking if they meet the biblical standard.

There is much more I could comment on, but I will leave it at this from now. Feel free to share your thoughts and give your opinion on the series!