Hold on to Hope

I’m going to be shooting from the hip again for this post (honestly, that’s the best way for me otherwise there really wouldn’t be any new posts). So I’m going through this unexpected trial since I wrote about faith and the (lack of) works of it in my life. I had a feeling I was about to go through a trial in my relationship, but I didn’t think it would be as extreme as it is now. I’m not going go into the details, but in the most simplest summary I took a blessing from God and wasn’t the best steward of it. We ended up twisting the blessing and made it about us instead of making the blessing (thus us) about God. So we mutually (as difficult as it was) to take a step back and put God in the forefront in our lives. I don’t know how long it will take. It hurts just thinking about. But the truth is that we selfishly wanted our own desires for our lives instead of seeking and obeying to the desires God wants for our lives.

So just like the trial I went through last year when I explicitly disobeyed His commands, I am going through it all over again. In this I will trust God and I will go to Him in every thought of doubt in my mind. I know I will be spiritually attacked. I will be sad. I will feel pain. I will also find joy in the most unexpected places. I will find bits of happiness and excitement through this. And in all of those blips of emotions, I will go to Him about it all. That when I am feeling weak, I will go to Him and ask for His help. I will listen intently to His Word. I will surround myself with His love. I will love intently to those He has called to be around me. I want to understand and accept the life He wants for me.

I understand and consume all of those things. That whole thought process comes from my head and not such much from my heart. My heart wants to settle that what I have done with God’s blessing is lost. My heart wants to say that let’s just go on because this is something that cannot be restored (even though it is my mind that knows that God can restore anything). My heart is full of emotion and is full of hurt. It sends the signals to my mind and it is my mind that brings that emotion to God. But there’s a very root emotion my heart that my mind cannot compensate. And that is hope.

There is very little logic to hope. My mind cannot comprehend it. It knows it exists, but it cannot do anything with it. It cannot take any actions to bring hope into a tangible entity where it measure and adjust decisions accordingly. Unlike faith (and we’re talking about the works kind of faith that James writes about), my mind can act on faith. It sees the faith in Chris. (In other words, it sees the works of faith in Christ.) It imitates and acts out in love according to the faith we’re called to live. But hope remains a mystery to my mind. It’s something that only my heart can grapple with, and it can be so hard at a time like this where my heart doesn’t find hope.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Just like how my mind consumes the Word to gain the wisdom called infuses into it, my heart can also call onto God to infuse itself with the hope it requires. This is what Paul writes to the Romans:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with the confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 15: 13 (NLT)

God is constant. God is love. God is good. And just like how my mind calls out to God for wisdom, my heart ought to call out to God for He is the source of the hope it needs.

I feel like I lack of a balance between heart and mind. My mind so deeply wants to say, “If it’s God’s will.” It tries to justify what’s happening in my life (as I go through trials and find myself in the valley). It’s like it puts out a kindling fire of hope that my heart so wants to turn into a blaze. My mind fights with my heart, “God is good, but the thing that we want isn’t the same thing He wants for us.” And I just have to straight out call out my mind that that line of thinking is not true!

God, my father, I look towards the heavens and ask you to fill me completely with joy and peace. I trust you, LORD. For You being the source of my hope, I ask your Holy Spirit to start a blazing fire of hope in my heart. That both my heart and mind are parts of a unifying body to be drawn closer to you. That they become a balance to symbolize your power with wisdom and love. Let me hold on to You. Let me hold on to hope! I pray this in your Son’s name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

Misunderstanding my Faith

This has been tugging on my heart for awhile. It’s probably been this way for years, but it’s only recently that I’m understanding it. James talks about faith and deeds, and that without good works your faith is dead.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

– James 2:17 NIV

In it’s most simplest form my good works—my actions—ought to come out because of my faith. Just because I know and believe that the Son of God came to die for the sins of humankind doesn’t make me a man of faith. Even James said that the demons also believe in Jesus1. To be a Christian is much greater than to just believe.

I’ve been wrestling with the words “faith” and “faithfulness” as well. At first I was incorrectly using them as somewhat synonymous of each other. But that’s not correct (semantically speaking). But I knew the two words were related to each other so I just kept using them with each other in a synonymous way. I incorrectly thought because of my faith in God would produce God’s faithfulness to me. Now, I never actually spoke of that misguided theology, but that is how I lived much of my Christian life. In other words, as long as my prayer and worship life was good with God (i.e my faith), He would continue to bless me as he promised (i.e. His faithfulness).

But I completely missed the point about God’s faithfulness (even though it’s been taught sermon after sermon, study after study, and story after story). That wrongful theology puts myself first before God instead God before me. I unknowingly did life in such a way that I still depended on myself and hoped to do life in such a way that God would continue to bless me. I missed the point that God is so much bigger than I could ever imagine for a much bigger life for me to live in order to glorify His name for Himself. And no matter what I do, His faithfulness will prevail out of the constant good and love that He is.

So where does that put my faith and what does my faith look like? James made it abundantly clear that my faith will produce good works. When I not only believed but declared that Jesus Chris is my Savior and Master, I became transformed and no longer need to be enslaved by the desires of this world2. I don’t need to fall into the patterns of this world. The things that I desired most should no longer be of this world. Instead my eyes have been opened to the pure truth and goodness of what God has in store for me. And before I make the mistake and turn this story He wrote into something I take for myself, I should make it clear that His story that He has written in my life will be about His goodness and faithfulness. My willingness to submit to the Holy Spirit makes my own soul aware that I was bought with a significant price. It is through that transformation my faith in Christ would be forged. I would live life to reflect what He has done for me. I would show others grace, love, patience, kindness, and goodness. I would recognize that every person I interacted with was also created in the very same image of God.

So I feel that’s the kind of faith James speak of. That I have been transformed and my faith speaks for itself. I know I am always a work in progress, but the very first fruits of this work is shown by my faith that I now outwardly reflect all the things that God has done for me.

Why did I need to write this? Well, lately I haven’t been reflecting my faith. I have the general “faith” that people speak of, but not the faith that James spoke of. I find myself talking more about my faith than living it out. And that is evident in my desire to go after the things that God has told me to wait and be patient. I want to get back to the James kind of faith he wrote about. I don’t need to talk about the goodness of God. I can merely show it through my actions. I don’t need to say a single word about His love, I just need to do it.

God will always be bigger than I can ever imagine Him to be. He will always work in greater ways that I can ever fathom. This life He has redeemed is His for His will to glorify His name. I pray that I never forget that. I pray that I would no longer put Him before any of my own desires. I pray that I will always yield to Him in every way He has called me to.

And most of all, whether I obey His every Word or continually fail, I know that He is forever constant in faithful in all He does.

  1. James 2:19 []
  2. As Paul said in Romans 12:2 []

Take a Breath

This is really strange. I find myself back home from work all alone. No one contacted me. I didn’t contact anyone. I’m just here sitting in my living room typing this out. I don’t know what to type about, but I know I should write about something. What will that something be?

Back in high school—I think when I was a junior—our English teach made us journal for the first ten minutes of class. It didn’t matter what we wrote about, we were just told to write out a stream of thought for as fast as we can. We counted the words when we were done. We didn’t have to make any sense. I remember that was when my handwriting started to fail me. There was this other kid in class that tried to beat me in the number of words written. Most days I would win, but there would be a few days here and there I would lose. So that said, I’m going to type out a stream of thought for the next ten minutes.

This is the first afternoon in awhile—maybe like three months awhile—where I can finally claim some me time. It’s been a pretty high pace three months between finding and moving into a new place and with my girlfriend coming back from Spain1. I don’t believe there was a single weekend where I could just relax and do nothing. I don’t even think there has been a single week day where I could relax and do mostly nothing. It’s been occupied all the time with going out, working out, or getting work done. It’s fine to be busy most of the time, I guess. But I know burn out is coming (if it hasn’t already).

So it’s a good thing that I get to relax right now at this very point in time, right? Well, I guess so. If it was a Monday or a Wednesday that would be fine. But it’s a Friday night! I should be out doing things with people, right? Where is everyone? What’s everyone doing? Where’s everyone?!

Oh wait, one of my roommates just came back. I think I just lost three minutes of writing. It’s okay. He was showing me all this carbon fiber accessories that he had to get for his bike. I think my moment of taking a breath is coming to an end. We’re heading out to help one of our friends. She’s moving from Irvine to…. I forget where. (It’s probably best I don’t mention where anyway.) If all goes well, we’ll head over to Clearman’s North Woods for steak. (It’s been years since I had that.)

Times up, maybe my next entry will be more meaningful. Who knows. (I really should just start writing… writing about anything, again.)

  1. “My girlfriend”—I’ll never get used to saying that []