Monday, March 24, 2014

A Short Story from My Week

I just want to share a short story from my week. This Friday, the Acquire the Fire worship band came to play at our school. It lasted about 45 minutes, and was good and deep and nice and all that.

During the worship, I was on the right edge of the middle section of the auditorium in about the fifth row or so. About 20 minutes in, I look around. I see a person a few rows up on the left edge of the right section, just across the aisle, sitting down. I don't know why he's sitting (most people were standing), but he has his head bowed and his hands clasped, in a way that could be praying or just sitting and resting.

I know him decently well, from being in both the fall drama and spring musical with him. I know he's had some serious struggles recently, and I've been praying for him for a while. People around him didn't seem to be noticing what he was doing that much, and I'm guessing they just assumed he wanted to sit. I felt a burning sensation; I felt like if I didn't go down to him right then, I would feel a horrible sense of guilt for days. I didn't even know why; I just knew that I had to go pray with him. So I get out of my row, moving past a couple of people, and walk down to him. I kneel down next to him and ask, "Can I pray for you?"  (Side note: He was a senior). 

He didn't see me coming or anything, and I knew he wasn't expecting it at all. I didn't know how he'd react; but he looked at me a with a slight, maybe surprised smile and said "Sure". At that moment, I realized something. I had no idea what the heck I was going to say. I had no idea why I was praying for him. But I put my hands on him and said something like, "God, I don't know why you called me down to pray with him, but I know you did. I pray that whatever it is you want done in his heart would be done today." Then another sentence or something. Nothing too deep, or personal. No revelation of what to say. Just a simple, short prayer.

I think it meant something to him, though. I still don't know what it was that I prayed for, but I think the fact that I went down and prayed for him meant way more than the words I spoke. I thank God that He called me down to pray for him, because it was huge for me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Questions about Faith

I personally believe that the best possible way to strengthen your faith is to investigate it. If you have doubts, that is good. In fact, if you don't have doubts, there is a high likelihood that you haven't really thought about your faith, because there are a lot of things that raise doubts. "Is there historical evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead? Does God really love people? Is what my pastor said in church this morning biblical?" These are just 3 of the hundreds of questions one could have about the Bible, Jesus, church, God, faith, life, love, prayer, etc.

 Having doubts and not looking for answers is the best way to have your faith get destroyed the moment you get to your college campus. Also, looking for answers that fit your preconceived criteria won't help either, because you'll likely be forced to ignore facts, and you'll only find the answer that you want; not the one that's right. However, if you look for answers with an open mind, you'll look at all the facts, and when you find your answer, you'll be able to support it if anyone says something different. I thinks thats why so many teens lose their faith once they're in college; they've gone to sunday school and been spoon fed answers, but they've never really answered their own questions. When someone presents a question that they don't have an answer to, they feel there must be no answer.

One thing I've had questions about is baptism. Is it necessary for salvation? Does it guarantee salvation? What does it do? I looked first at what the Bible said; in fact, I wrote down every verse in the Bible with the word "baptize" or "baptism", and then looked at verses that say things like "born of water". Then I looked at what different people and denominations believe, and how they defended their beliefs.  I can now, at least well enough for myself, defend my views on baptism, and I will not be totally at a loss if someone were to challenge my views.

I think that you should think critically about almost every sermon you hear or thing you read that relates to faith. Ask questions like, "Is it biblical?" and "Is the scripture they used applied correctly?" I think that we have a great tendency to go to church on sunday morning, listen to the message, and accept it as undeniable truth, without even realizing that we're doing it. I've had many moments where I think, "Yeah, yup, truth..." then an hour later, "Wait a second... but doesn't the Bible say ____ and ____?"

So, in conclusion, the worst possible thing you can do in regards to your faith is not investigate it. Whether you believe or not, ask questions and find answers.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What is humility?

I've heard a lot of sermons and talks and YouTube videos and whatever else about humility. Here's what I often hear (and you probably have to): Humility is putting yourself below others. It's putting yourself lower.
Hold on to that thought.

I've also heard a lot of stuff about pride. The general definition I've heard is: Pride is focusing on yourself. Basically, making you the center of your life.

Now, back to what I said earlier. Who is the main subject in "putting yourself below others"? Others, like it should be? Nope. It's you. That statement is about you. So really, you are focusing on yourself. Which is pride. One term for putting yourself below others (I think) is self-deprecation, or at least thats how i use it. And what I've found is that self-deprecation is no more than a twisted form of pride. Humility is putting others above yourself, not yourself below others. Talking yourself down is not the same thing as lifting others up. There is huge difference here, because the humility Jesus calls us to have is focusing on others; putting others above yourself. Putting yourself below others is trying to put a mask on pride; it's still there, but it's hidden where its much harder to see, and therefore it grows in a much more dangerous way. It festers behind a mask of "humility". 

(This was on my iPod, so it's shorter than it might otherwise be and there are probably some grammar/wording issues).