When life gives me lemons…

i hope and desire that i would choose to give thanks because those very lemons in the hands of a great chef can create so much more than i could ever do on my own. i will not “go make lemonade” as the saying so often goes. it isn’t about what i can do, rather it is about what has been done. and because of that i can…

“consider it all joy…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-4)

“rejoice always…pray without ceasing…in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“not loose heart…for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

i am no great chef, but i know those lemons can make a lot more than lemonade. why settle for lemonade when there is so much more to be gained from something such as trials in this temporary life? in reality these lemons are a gift, and for that i am thankful, because…

“every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17)

as you embark on your black friday adventures and all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, i encourage you to take a moment and pause to reflect on the many things we have been blessed with. here’s a great idea if you’d like to give someone a different kind of gift this year.

happy thanksgiving,

bryan

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From my Honduras Trip (Oct 2010)

i was having an interesting conversation with a friend today, even though it’s only 9:30am. it was about indulging and wastefulness.

i thought about this topic as i was driving to work this morning. what determines how we define “wastefulness”? i have to think of it in terms of Honduras, because there was such a stark difference between our living standards. i would consider myself within the middle-class bracket. and the Hondurans that we came in contact with are also within their own middle class bracket. here are some pictures to compare the two:


HONDURAS

where they play…

where they go to school…

where they live…

how they cook and what they eat (during special occasions)…


WHERE WE LIVE

where we play…

where we go to school…

where we live…

how we cook and what we eat (during special occasions)…

The pictures serve as a contrast. If someone were to argue the fairness of the activities in the pictures, i just wanted to stress that there are so many things to be compared.

so if i were richer, would i be seemingly more profligate? or how about a humble living standard within our group of friends (without seeming “ghetto”) – how would that still be seen by the Hondurans? we certainly all have cars – anything more than the cheapest being wasteful? how about the size of our homes or the amount of appliances we continually have running? how about brushing our teeth while allowing our water to run? buying clothes that we dont need or hardly ever wear? remodeling our homes? buying the latest greatest electronic gadgets? having expensive hobbies?

but this is something that ive even though about before Honduras. there are so many things that we should (and easily can) evaluate for ourselves whether or not the expenses that we drop are worth it. we have resources (money and other things) at our fingertips – are we using them for God’s kingdom? what is the investment that we are making?

i dont believe that it’s wrong to enjoy some pleasures of life – in fact i think it’s healthy to allow blessings to be a part of your life. but if the associated attitude is chasing the very best for yourself or that your priorities are pointed for the most part at yourself, wouldnt it be revolutionary to see how that could change to start loving those around you like God does? this topic started in light of a seemingly extravagant bachelor party i had been thinking of, and though i felt wastefulness was relative, in the end had to evaluate my own in light of what i’ve seen in the past week. i’m glad i get these regular stark life contrasts to set my mind straight in the grand scheme of things. i want to be a good steward, increasingly aware and responsible of my eternal accountability of what i’ve received.

in this world, people can get an A+ in financial planning, retirement, investment, and wise savings but receive an F in God’s eyes in stewardship.

Lessons from Ephesians

Lately, I’ve begun to realize that Christianity is not so much about God and Me (or even God and Me and my friends) as it is about God and the Church, the universal body of Christ. Not that God doesn’t care about individuals, but to say that the Gospel is only about saving individual souls is, I think, to miss the big picture. I often try to motivate or comfort myself by remembering that God is good and will provide for me and my family and my friends. While God truly is good and does provide, something is wrong if I can only think of Him in relation to myself and my immediate community. Indeed, see how quickly I turned the conversation towards me when I had intended to talk about God and the Church!

Fortunately, Paul sets the record straight in Ephesians. Salvation is certainly for individuals, but to be saved is to become a member of the Church, the body of Christ. In Ephesians, we see that the Church is the focal point of God’s “eternal purpose” to demonstrate his glory, wisdom, and power (3:11). Paul writes that this purpose is “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). Christ is seated “in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:21). Furthermore, God “put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23). Having been united to Christ as his body, the Church stands over the rest of creation as the manifestation of God’s glory. The Church is God’s chosen instrument to magnify His “manifold wisdom” against the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (3:10).

This is the mystery of the Gospel, that God has chosen to manifest Himself and build a Church out of people who are as good as dead in their sins. Being sinners, we were “by nature children of wrath,” subject to the full penalties of our wickedness (Eph 2:3). There is nothing good in any man or woman that deserves God’s grace. Yet he chooses to save us; more than that, he chooses to build us up into a Church body united in Christ, setting us over the rest of creation with Christ as our head. Why would God set over creation that creature which alone chose to reject him? Why would God manifest his glory through man who, by his sin, defames God’s honor? Why would God choose as His ambassadors those very people who, by their actions, refuse to acknowledge his sovereignty?

I submit that the answers to these questions are hidden in the mystery of God’s love, “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:14).

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 22-25).

By all worldly standards, the Gospel seems foolish. It preaches faith and suffering in the Cross whereas the world seeks glory and power. Yet, somehow, God will prove and is already proving his infinite wisdom through His Church. Just as Christ is glorified in the cross, so the Church is also glorified in its present suffering. I look forward to the day when Christ returns and the Church attains to the fullness of its glory in Him. In that day, the manifold wisdom of God will be made known, and upon seeing Christ’s Bride the glorified Church, all the nations, all the angels, even Satan himself, will bow and confess, in either terror or adoration, God’s eternal glory.