Saturday, March 23, 2013

Puffy Heart Filled with Rocks

“Dear God,
“Here’s the latest. My new year’s resolution, while I’d like to keep it, doesn’t have to kept. If I stick to it just to stick to it, I’m being a legalist. You see, there’s a girl I’m very interested in. Her name is ___(for her privacy)___.
“I don’t know what will become of it. I don’t know if she’s even interested. Part of me doesn’t want her to be, because a relationship isn’t practical right now. School starts in five months and all my time and money needs to go towards that. However, if it’s meant to be, it’ll work out somehow. You, God, are sovereign and You will work it out.
“Another part wants her to be interested. She’s the most godly girl I’ve ever met. Beautiful inside and out. Whoever ends up marrying her one day will be the luckiest guy on earth. The world is in need of more women like her. Bless her future marriage.
“If we’re meant to be, grow my desire. If not, kill it asap. I don’t want to waste time, energy, or emotions—mine or hers.
“Guide me and continue to prepare me for my future wife. I can’t wait to meet her. (Maybe I already have…only You know.)
“I love You, Lord! Whatever happens, keep my focus on You and don’t let me fall like last time. I’m living for Your glory.
“—Josh W.”

Thus I prayed a week ago and I’ve learned a ton since then. Here’s the rundown: I have a hard, prideful heart. I would have realized neither if the girl situation hadn’t happened.
She wants to be solely friends. I found out less than 28 hours after writing the prayer last Saturday. The point is that God killed my desire asap, just as I asked.
I was in the middle of reading The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges, at the time and this quote has been lodged in my mind ever since. “One further discipline is still absolutely necessary in the process of sanctification—the discipline of adversity or hardship. Adversity is not a discipline we undertake ourselves, but is imposed on us by God as a means of spiritual growth…The purpose of the discipline of adversity, then, is to make us more holy” (218). He goes on to write: “This does not necessarily mean a particular hardship is related to a specific act or habit of sin in our lives. It does mean that every expression of discipline has as its intended end conformity to the likeness of Christ” (223).
One of my friends made the comment, “Josh’s heart is like a diamond—it can’t get broken,” because he was trying to help me feel better about the girl situation not working out. I thought about it for a few minutes and I realized that regardless of whether or not a girl breaks my heart (this one didn’t) my heart doesn’t break when it should. I am a sinful creature and God has forgiven me; I should mourn over the sin in my life, but I don’t, because my heart has become hardened to the weight of sin. Luke 8:6, 13 says, “Other seed fell on the rock; when it sprang up, it withered, since it lacked moisture…And the seed on the rock are those who, when they hear, welcome the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and depart in a time of testing.” I believe I’m in the good soil (as a believer in Christ) but there is truth to the fact that sometimes the ground dries up and turns into a rock (or weeds pop up at other times). Tears are moisture, and they water the ground so it doesn’t become a rock. My life lacks moisture, so I need to ask God to break my heart for what breaks His. If the girl situation hadn’t happened, my friend wouldn’t have made the comment and I wouldn’t have realized this truth.
Secondly, I’m prideful. What happened was this: several weeks ago my friend told me that the girl was interested in a godly guy (at our workplace I assumed). My prideful heart told me, “I’m the most godly guy I know, so it’s got to be me.” This brings up Proverbs 16:18, which reads, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” If I’d never fallen for the girl, I wouldn’t have realized how prideful I am. My prayer used to be, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13, NASB). When did I fall from that to think I’m super godly? Romans 12:3 explains that, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” I was thinking of myself way too highly, and not being sensible at all. It led to a fall, but that’s for another time.
God, thank You for Your gace every day. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. I’m sick of being prideful and hard hearted. Keep me humble and repentant. I love You. Thank for teaching me these practical truths that I’ve been ignoring. It took falling for a girl to show me, but I’m glad You allowed it to happen. Thank You for letting us remain friends; she’s a great girl. I’m very glad I know her. As spoken above, her future husband is going to be one lucky guy. Bless her marriage. Prepare me for my future wife. Amen.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Biblical manhood 2--Giving People Jesus

Currently, in my Biblical manhood study, I am in the book of Acts, and a section that stuck out to me was Acts 3:1-4:4. It is the story of Peter and John healing a lame man in the temple complex. Acts 3:3-8 tells the main point of the story.
When (the lame man) saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
It goes on to show that it was an avenue for preaching the gospel to the people around him, but for now I’m going to focus on this section.
Biblical men give people Jesus in word and action. It can’t be one or the other. It needs to be both. Actions prove words true and may even give an occasion for words.
People in our world need help—monetarily, emotionally, spiritually—and we are here called to help them. We can’t live lives of selfish isolation, only worrying about ourselves and our agendas. We are to give people of ourselves, and thus give people Jesus. First John 3:16 says, “This is how we have come to know love: (Christ) laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” You cannot give up your life if you are selfish and hold onto Jesus for yourself and never share Him. And, while the verse speaks of brothers (Christians) we are elsewhere told to love everyone—even our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45). If you refuse to share the gospel with them, you don’t love them.
Spiritual needs aren’t the only needs people have. The passage in Acts proves this. Peter and John miraculously heal the man and people see it. They see them give Him Jesus in action and verses 9-12, 16 elaborate.
All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness?…By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.”
These people saw Peter and John heal the lame man and wanted to know more which led to a gospel proclamation.
The point is that sometimes, rather than just diving into the gospel, we should offer people something else first. Does your neighbor need yard work? Offer to mow his lawn for free.  Does your coworker need dinner? Offer to buy for the both of you. Does your enemy need his car washed? Offer to wash it (and do so carefully—no scratches). Selfless acts like these are what John meant when he wrote that “We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.” Doing good without expecting anything in return is exactly what is meant here. If you die for someone, you aren’t going to get another shot at living; so it should be with good deeds. Don’t expect benefits in return.
Verse six is still the central point of this passage. “But Peter said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’”
I don’t believe that it’s appropriate to tell a homeless person, “I have no money, but I do have Jesus. Listen to me!” Most of us, even if we have no cash, still carry credit cards and can easily go into a fast food place and buy something for the person and then share the gospel while they eat. If you care enough to cover a physical need for them, they will be more inclined to listen about their spiritual need for Christ. This is proved in the Acts passage. He asked for money. Peter said he had none. Then he healed him. Then he shared the gospel.
We need to give people Jesus in word and action.
Do I only use words? Or do I only use deeds? Either one, alone, is off-balance and wrong. I need both.
God, please help my actions give people Your Son and not just my words. Help my words center more around You as well. I need help in both of these areas.

P.S.     Maybe you’re wondering about the other part of my New Year’s resolution prayer. There is a girl on my mind these days, and I’m praying that it goes away, but I tag this on the end of this post because it also goes with Peter’s statement in verse six of Acts 3. “I don’t have silver or gold, but…I have…Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” I’m praying hard that she doesn’t become an idol, which is exactly the reason why I made the resolution in the first place. I need to realize that I don’t have much money, I don’t have much free time, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do have Jesus Christ, and really, He is ALL I need to be content.
More later, (maybe) but for now know that this is where I’m at in my New Year’s resolution prayer. I’m praying for strength. If you could pray too, I’d appreciate it.