According to the Riches of His Grace

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…" -Ephesians 1:7-8

Month: September, 2014

Sanctification in Construction Work

COnstruction_work_in_downtown_Miami

I wake up in the morning. The sun is shining through the window, but that isn’t what wakes me up. It’s not even my alarm that wakes me. It’s the sound of construction on the floor below me. My dorm was probably built about the same time as the Roman Colosseum, so it’s pretty old. And they decide the year that I come to seminary to update it. So, every day it sounds like a jackhammer is trying to pelt through my floor.

Before I started seminary, I was a groomsman in one of my best friend’s weddings. The wedding was about an hour from my seminary city, so I left at the reasonable time to get there for the rehearsal dinner. That was a mistake, because I ran into road work….that spanned for what seemed like the entire country of Russia. I moved about 2 miles in an hour. I listened to an entire CD and could still see some of the same things that were around me when it started. They had already rehearsed once without me by the time I got there.

When I was in college, they decided my junior year to remodel the main building on campus, which caused my tuition to increase, but they told us that the building wouldn’t be finished until after we graduated. So, I funded a project that I never saw.

What do all these stories have in common? Construction work. I hate seeing unfinished work. I hate getting stuck in traffic in a construction zone.

But I think about construction work and I actually learn a great spiritual lesson from it. There will always be construction work in the world. Things are always going to be needing repair or updating. Things are like that because of sin.

And I am a construction project. When God created the universe, it was good. Then Adam and Eve sinned and that damaged God’s creation. Death and destruction entered the world and now everything goes bad. But then Jesus came into the world. Sin entered the world when man disobeyed God at a tree. In a reverse effect, Jesus took the sins of the world on himself and allowed himself to be nailed to a tree. He died on that tree, rose from the dead, and now new creation has begun. All who believe this story begin a journey in which God is remaking them. He is in the process of restoring all things to what they once were, one person at a time.

We call this sanctification in the church. The process in which God remakes a Christian out of their sin into the image of Jesus. This will all finish when Jesus returns and Christians are resurrected into the form that Jesus was when he walked out of the tomb. Now, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Now, Jesus stands over the creation saying, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

So, as much as I hate the inconvenience of construction work, it reminds me of the work that is going on in me and in the world as God recreates the world back into what it was originally.

Why We Have More Time Than We Give Ourselves Credit For

hour-glass

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We have more time than we think. I often hear people say (especially college students like me), “I don’t have enough time!” I say that myself quite often. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I only have a part time job, and I have maybe 2 people currently in my life that I spend time with regularly, but I tell myself, “I don’t have time.”

We have a lot of time that we just waste and then don’t remember it later. We all have the same amount of time.

The call of Scripture is “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) So followers of Jesus are to use their time in the best way possible for the Lord. However, it’s probably a good attitude even for non-Christians to not waste time.

So, let’s calculate our free time, shall we? (Using my schedule, but you can implement your own)

There are 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. So we all have 168 hours a week.

If you sleep 8 hours a night, you sleep 56 hours a week. This takes you down to having 112 hours a week.

I take 9 hours of class a week. This takes me down to 103 hours a week.

At my current job, I work 10 hours a week. This takes me down to 93 hours a week.

I have two chapel services to attend on campus a week, each 1 hour long. This takes me down to 91 hours a week.

We can throw in that I probably eat for around 7 hours a week (30 minutes a meal for lunch and dinner.) This takes me down to 84 hours a week.

I spend 2 hours a week in church on Sunday mornings. This takes me down to 82 hours a week.

And the grand total comes down to me having 82 hours a week free.

Even if you work 40 hours a week, instead of the 10 that I currently do, that still puts you at 52 hours a week (61, if you don’t have the class that I do).

So, maybe you ask, where does the time go? I can’t rightly say that I don’t have enough time, when I have nearly three and a half days worth of unscheduled time every week.

The truth is, we spend our time doing things that we forget about later. We spend hours mindlessly surfing the internet, looking at our phones, watching television, or staring at the walls.

So let’s start using our time for meaningful things. Let’s use our time to build relationships, to impact lives, to love God, to love our neighbor. I have nearly half a week of time to do incredible things for God, yet I often tell him that I don’t have time to do it.

I can’t keep saying that I don’t have time. Can you?

Digesting a Delicious Meal

Quick Grilled Chicken_Recipes_1007x545.ashx

I want you to think about your favorite meal. For me, it is a juicy piece of garlic marinated, grilled chicken, some sautéed carrots, celery, and potatoes, a slice of Texas toast, and watermelon for dessert. I like a ton of other meals, but that is the one that I could eat every meal for a while and not get burnt out on it. I don’t know what yours is.

As delicious as my favorite meal is to me (my mouth was watering while I was typing that), the Bible should be more appetizing to us. It should make our souls water. So, if that this the case, let’s learn a lesson from how we eat our favorite meal.

This morning, I did my usual thing of spending time at my desk, with a cup of coffee, reading the Bible. However, I got up a little later than usual this morning, so I was short on time. I had to read the Word and leave. I didn’t get to have my usual time of thinking about what I had just read, as well as praying. And what resulted from that is that I didn’t get the full effect of devotional time.

What if I did that with my favorite meal? What if I wanted to eat my favorite meal, but only had time to quickly eat it and then I had to go about my daily activities. Likely, the next couple hours, I am going to feel terrible as my food is trying to digest while I am on the go. Depending on the activity I am doing, I might even throw the food up (if I were doing something manly like running a 50K up a mountain in a rain storm).

When I eat a delicious meal, I want to go sit down and allow the food to settle as it digests. Reading the Bible is not enough. You need the time to meditate on it and let it digest in your system in order to use the application of it in your day.

It was my mistake of getting up later than usual today and not having that time. If it means getting up thirty minutes early, incorporate this into your daily devotion time. I promise, meditating on the Scriptures is worth the thirty minutes of sleep if it stirs up your affections for Jesus and allows you to be able to become more like him in your day.

Telling Stories

I love telling stories. Maybe that is why I studied journalism in college.

Last night, my seminary had their fall festival and I met and hung out with a lot of people. It was a big night of getting to know people, so there was a ton of storytelling.

Honestly, I think everybody loves telling stories. If you think about it, most of what you talk about on a daily basis is a story. If you talk about an epic play on a sports game, you are telling a story. If you tell your spouse about your day at work, you are storytelling. If you recount what you saw on the news, you are telling a story. Little of what you talk about is not storytelling of some form.

I tell so many stories, that I often find myself telling several of the same stories rather often. I have friends who have been with me each time I have recounted a story to different people and so they have heard the story a lot. It almost looks like they get annoyed at hearing the story sometimes, because they have heard it so much.

They’ve heard my story about my embarrassing moment in my seventh grade talent show. They’ve heard about the cow that wouldn’t move out of the road for our van when I was in Romania. (We were yelling, “MOOve!”) They have heard about the time that I got t-boned by a police officer while I was waiting to turn into Arby’s. They’ve heard about the time that I pulled a muscle in my back sneezing.

That made me think. I talk about Jesus and the Gospel a lot. As a current seminary student and future pastor, it’s the thing that I probably talk about the most. But I have yet to get to the point where the people in my life get annoyed at how many times I tell that story.

What about you? Do you tell the story of the Gospel so much that people get annoyed with how many times you do?

Let’s do that! Let’s tell the story of the Gospel (that man has sinned and God has provided salvation in Christ on the cross for all who will believe) so often that people get tired of hearing about it. I know that sounds kind of negative, but if that’s what it takes to get the world to believe, let’s go for it!