Saturday, October 30, 2010

Be Strong and Couragious!

Fear has gripped our nation. People are afraid of a variety of things...with good reason in many cases. I am afraid of many things, but I have vowed not to let my fear overcome me. I love the beginning of Joshua where the Lord speaks these words to Joshua: "Be strong and courageous...only be strong and very courageous" (Josh. 1:6, 7).

One of the fears I have seen develop since the attacks against the USA on September 11, 2001 is the fear of going to Mexico. It's easy to make excuses for not going because there are valid reasons to be concerned. But I have been guilty of not going because my fear has gotten the best of me.

On Saturday, October 23, Valley Baptist Church made its first "house" building trip since I have restarted Valley Baptist Church. Making this trip was amazing! I am so blessed by the whole body. We had many volunteers go, many givers who made the trip possible, and many people praying for us while there.

We trusted upon the LORD and He kept us safe...even though I am challenged not to pray the prayer of safety after reading these words by Francis Chan in Crazy Love:

We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I'm not saying it is wrong to pray for God's protection, but I am questioning how we've made safety our highest priority. We've elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God's best it, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world. Would you be willing to pray this prayer? "God, bring me closer to You during this trip, whatever it takes..."

That is exactly the prayer I prayed that morning as we left the parking lot of Valley Baptist Church at 5am with our group. I believe He answered our prayer that very day.

We had an awesome time at Caravan Ministries learning about God's work to all people groups and our responsibility in fulfilling the Great Commission. I saw a quote on the wall of their building by John Piper I thought was really good, "Go, send, or disobey."

We had such a blessed time and valuable lessons were learned by all. As a father, I was especially blessed to see my 4 year old daughter's heart open to God's love for all people. I am glad fear didn't keep me from letting my family to go.

Pondering my courage as a father made me think of Joshua. I find it interesting that the book of Joshua opens with the words of God, "Be strong and courageous...only be strong and very courageous" (Josh. 1:6, 7) and it ends with Joshua's words,

"But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Josh. 24:15).

May Joshua's words be the stand of my family and yours!

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Majestic is Your Name!

Last Sunday Valley Baptist Church began a new series through selected Psalms. We started with Psalm 8 as the psalmist considers the magnitude of God in light of creation, in comparison to the smallness of man.

The Psalm begins and ends with this phrase:

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! (Psalm 8:1)

I don't know about you, but I love the outdoors. When I am outside I feel close to God. I think this is because the world in which we live points us to its Creator (Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20). It is in these moments I find myself in awe of God our Creator.

The psalmist continues:

From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. (Psalm 8:3)

Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 21:14-17 when the leaders were indignant towards the children who were proclaiming Jesus' deity. I think the point here is that God often, if not always, uses the weak to display His power!

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; (Psalm 8:3)

The naked eye can see about 3,000 stars, we the invention of telescopes we have discovered so many more. I don't know about you, but looking out in the sky at night totally peaks my curiosity. In these moments of pondering, I realize how small we are in light of creation. A few years back an email circulated some pictures that helps demonstrate our smallness. Here they are just in case you missed them:

I spent my youth (K-12) in the public school system that taught the Theory of Evolution as the primary understanding of where we came from and where we are going. Quite frankly, this was pretty discouraging to think that I was just a random being as a result of some cosmic explosion billions of years ago. Seriously, have you ever laid asleep at night pondering life prior to your existence, or following your demise? Under the Theory of Evolution it is down right depressing.

Also, from a scientific perspective I think the theory is pretty foolish. Seriously to ponder the earth we live in, the great details of everything for us to live. Percentage of oxygen, temperature, the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen between plants and creatures. Truly there are too many to list on this simple reflection blog...but I just can't buy "science's" theory on how we came into existence, the value of our life, and our destiny after this life. There are so many inconsistencies within their teaching.

But back to Psalm 8. David in looking at the magnitude of creation realized how awesome the Creator is relation to humanity.

David continues:

What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalm 8:4-5).

David realized that God's creation is far greater than man is able to comprehend, yet understood that man is created in God's own image (Gen. 1:27). We as humans are different and set apart from all other creation!

David continues:

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6-8).

Not only did God creates us in His own image, He set us over His creation to manage it. I love the earth that we live, I love the creatures that are within it. No one has every accused me of being "Green", but I do love the earth that we live and we have a responsibility to care for it.

I am a San Diego Zoo member and have been for a long time. I love the Zoo and Wild Animal Park, but there are times when they absolutely infuriate me. During the summer, one of my favorite things is to go to the "Night Time Zoo" and see the show. This year I practically wanted to walk out because of their rhetoric. I have no problem caring for the earth, but I have a huge problem when we worship the created instead of the Creator. We have responsibility to care for the earth, but only because God has given us this responsibility. Furthermore, only He is worthy of our worship!
David recognized this special role God has given us, resulting is his final statement:

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8:9)

As I reflect on this Psalm, two major points come to mind:

1. God is so awesome. He is Creator of all. Our brain is to small and finite to comprehend the magnitude of God's creation...let alone Himself!

2. Yet, He has considered us. He love you and me so much that He sent His son to redeem us from our fallen state. He has given us a special place in this world.

These thoughts lead me to worshiping Him with my whole being!