Monday, June 30, 2008

spiritual warfare

I was reading a book last night and there was a part of it that really seemed to jump off the page at me. As you may have guessed by my title, the part had something to do with spiritual warfare. I've been thinking a lot about it since last night.

The book is called Walking With God and it's by John Eldredge.

This part of the book was talking about how we often get caugt in just praying that God would do the opposite of what we're feeling. So, if we're feeling discouraged we ask God to encourage us; or if we're struggling with lust we ask God to give us pure thoughts. Nothing wrong with any of that, but the part that struck me was when Eldredge talked about how we need to pray against that action of Satan in our lives. So, instead of praying that God would encourage us when we're discouraged, we would pray against the spirit of discouragement from Satan. Eldredge talks about how we need to actually take a stand and command Satan to leave.

There is a quote from the book that has really stuck with me:
"The enemy is present in the form of some foul spirit, and you must command him to leave. As the Scripture urges, 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you' (James 4:7). No resist, no flee. We are commanded to resist."

I think I have often missed this verse when it comes to spiritual warfare. I don't take hold of the power that I have because Jesus Christ is living and active to send Satan running from me! I so often get caught up in thinking that I have to do it . . . that I am the one who has to stop thinking those thoughts or feeling that way. But, that's not the way that it is . . . through the power of the risen Lord I can command Satan to leave and he runs! That's an amazing truth!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

serving God

So, since my week of holidays that I spent serving, I've been thinking a lot about serving God with my life. Shortly after I got back from the week, I was reading in Colossians 3:17 where it talks about how we are to do everything as if we were doing it for God. Reading this verse really spurred on my thinking.

I've always read that verse to be about doing those things that would be considered service in the church, and often those things that one wouldn't normally think of as being the glamorous jobs. But, lately, I've been starting to see that is means so much more than that. This verse in Colossians is talking about all areas of life.

This is not just about church work. This is in ALL of life! Everything I do - from serving at church, to doing my job, to cleaning my apartment - is to be done for God. There is nothing that I do in my life that is too low to be done for God!

Serving God is all-encompassing! I may not always be doing it in a week that is like the one I just had, but that doesn't mean you and I aren't serving God. We need to begin seeing our service to God as being something that is a part of our everyday life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

loving sacrificially and seeing the mission field on our doorstep

So, I've been back from my crazy week and a half of holidays for a few days now . . . and I think I'm finally back to my "normal" level of tiredness. ;) As those of you who read my last post know, my holidays started off with a very interesting experience at a wedding in a Greek Orthodox Church. From there they moved on to the very busy, but it was all familiar to me.

For those who remember, I spent a week last June working with a group called the Okanagan Gleaners and serving the little community of Oliver, just an hour and a half south of where I live. Well, that was the way that I chose to spend a week of my holidays doing the same thing again. I joined a group of 21 other young adults from my church for this week. We camped in an orchard (in both torretial rain, thunder and lightning and in gorgeous sunshine), spent our mornings cutting peppers (that weren't good enough to sell in stores to make dried soup mixes out of, that are then sent to orphanages, refuguee camps, etc all ofver the world), spent our afternoons doing variuos service projects in the community (free car wash, garbage pick up, handing out water and snacks, helping local churches with projects they needed to get done, helping people with yardwork), and spent our evening hanging out around the campfire. Not exactly your typical holiday . . . but it was so good!

Besides a week of lots of work and serving others, it was also a week of being away from the distractions and busy-ness of life . . . of being away from technology (I didn't turn my cell phone on more than once a day to check for any important messages all week) . . . of building amazing friendships as you spend all day every day together . . . of being in a place where it just seems easier to hear God speak. It was a great week! And I walked away with some amazing new friends and with closer bonds to the friends I already had among the group. I also came home with an increased desire to serve God in everything I do and having had God speak to me many times over the course of the week.

The time when I heard God speak the clearest was when we were spenfing an evening with a great couple that lives there and is seeking to reach out to the ever-growing Punjabi community in the area. They just have an incredible heart to serve God and a huge sensitivity to His Spirit guiding. The conversation and the things they shared and challenged us with that night were things that I needed to hear.

One of the things they talked about was the need for us to be willing to love if we are going to be leaders. And not just love . . . but do it in a way that costs us something. It is when we love others sacrificially that we are able to break down the barriers that so often prevent us from reaching others and from leading others. Sacrificial love is the kind of love that Jesus modelled for us when He was on earth. Jesus is the ultimate example of leader, and He definitely loved sacrificially; therefore, we should as well when we lead.

We also spent a lot of time talking about the whole idea of missions. So often we think of missions as being something that we have to go overseas to do, but it's not. Especially in our more easily accessible world with people from other countries living next door to us often, missions may mean just going next door and showing the love of Christ. It doesn't mean going overseas always. We need to change how we view missions and begin to see that all believers are missionaries in their workplaces, familes, neighbourhoods, schools, etc.

Those are the two major things from this past week that stood out to me. I just really felt challenged from the night that we spent with this couple. It was encouraging as much as it was challenging for my own life.

All in all it was a good and busy week and serving and growing. I'm sure there are many other lessons in my life that God began in this week, that I'm not even aware of yet, but will begin to see in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ramblings . . . and the importance of knowing the truth

So, I really have no idea where exactly this blog will go. The last week and a half have been filled with some great times and some hard times. My holidays were busy, but with stuff that I wanted to do and enjoyed doing, for the most part.

I took my first major road trip by myself. I had never driven more than a couple hours away from home without family or friends with me. So, off I went to Victoria for a good friends` wedding. All in all it was a good drive. I have only been to the ocean a couple of times so I spent most of the ferry over to Victoria outside enjoying what I was seeing.

Victoria was a crazy story. I was left scrambling last minute to find a place to stay as my plans fell through. But, I also cought up with the family of my friend, who I know and am friends with, so that was nice. The morning before the wedding was crazy as there were lots of details left to handle and we were busy with all that.

The wedding was interesting to say the least. They were getting married in the Greek Orthodox Church. It was not your typical wedding ceremony, in any way. There was no exchanging of vows . . . the bride and groom did not face each other at all during the ceremony - they did not even look at each other at all . . . the ceremony alone was 80 minutes (try sitting on a wooden pew for the long, but apparently we were lucky there were pews to sit on because they usually don`t have any in the sanctuary to sit on, they stand for it all). It was just so incredibly different from everything I had ever seen in a wedding. It honestly did not seem much like a wedding to me at all . . . but I guess I am basing that on what would be considered normal in our culture.

Probably the hardest part of the wedding for me was the problems I had with some of their theology. Not that I profess to be an expert on theology, but I do feel that I have a pretty good understanding. There were just a few things said during the wedding ceremony and printed in the information they gave us about what to expect that made me wonder. It seemed to me as though there were things that they took out of context or twisted a little bit to make them mean something else. And, further reasearch since I have been home has not made me feel any better about it all. Being curious I wanted to know where the ideas they had came from, so I went to their website and started researching a bit more into the theology of the Greek Orthodox Church. What I found was a lot of writing where they quote people and talk about tradition, without a lot reference to Scripture. That concerned me . . . anything we claim to believe should be able to be backed up with Scripture. In my mind, tradition is great and the writings of scholars are great, as long as Scripture supports what they are saying. In this case I am not completely sure that is the case.

I also found they way they treated the icons they use in worship concerning. They claim that they are not worshipping thesee things, but what I saw made me wonder how they can say that. I saw many people from the church walk in and before they sat down, they crossed themselves and kissed a copy of the 4 Gospels that was gold-plated. There were many other times during the service where they kissed and bowed in front of these icons that they claim not to worship. From ym understanding of what idol worship is, they are worshipping idols. I do not see how they can say they are not.

I guess what hurts the most about all of this is that one of my very good friends from growing up is caught up in this. She grew up in a strong Christian home, spent a year at a good Bible college learning about the Bible . . . and yet, she got caught in it all. She knows the truth and there is just enough truth in this all to pull her in. (I say this, not to put-down the Greek Orthodox Church, because I did also see snippets of truth in all that went on, but I also saw much that leaves me very concerned.)

As I have sat here writing this, I have started to think about how easy it is for any one of us to be drawn away from the truth. There are so many groups out there that have just enough truth from Scripture in them, that they can draw us in and confuse us if we are not careful. I think my purpose to night is to issue a caution to all who claim to be followers of Christ: Watch that you test all that comes to you from someone as truth. Make sure it is actually true according to Scripture.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

temporary hiatus

Hello to all my faithful readers!

Just to let you know, I am on holidays for the nest week and a half, so there will be no new posts. Seeing as I won't have internet access it would be hard to write. I will be back about the middle of the month with new blogs.