Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Currently Reading
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
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Jasper Speaks:

Purpose. It is a small word with a punch. Companies release purpose statements. The Purpose Driven Life is the best selling book ever outside of the Bible. Often we ask, "why am I here"? I think this is on my mind because the Christian Science "church" I pass on my way to work every morning has a question on their sign. It says, "Where did we come from and why are we here"? Is this the cry of the human soul? Are we born with this question burning in our deep within us?

I think that purpose is something that we can find. That purpose is simple. Love God and love people. None of this is revolutionary. Rick Warren lays it out plainly in the aforementioned book. He basis his thesis on the Great Commandment:

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.'"

and the Great Commission:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Great concepts but how do we live these out in the everyday?

Loving God is all about devotion. Devotion is defined this way:

Profound dedication; consecration.

How do we achieve profound dedication? Well we can't be dedicated to someone with whom we are not spending time. We have to communicate to be devoted. We need to spend time every day in conversation with God. The Bible says we are supposed to pray constantly. Although hard to do, it is amazing to think about being completely consumed by communication with God.

I once heard Rob Bell speak and he brought up an interesting point. He said that we are born to praise God. Not a revolutionary concept I know but he brought up something from the Hebrew language that has stuck with me for a long time. He told us that the sacred word, YHWH (the name of God in Hebrew), actually when pronounced correctly sounds like taking a breath. So, in essence, when we come out of our mother's womb and take our first breath, we speak the name of God. When we rattle out our last breath as we die, we are in a way, calling out His name as well. We begin and end life, in communication with and calling out the name of the Creator.

One of the best things that ever happened to me was when van's radio stopped working. Because of a theft device error, my radio won't turn on at all. It just sits there like a decorative ornament on my dashboard. At first I really missed it. I wanted to karaoke to bad country music on my way to work. I wanted to yell at political pundants that I disagreed with on the way home. I did not want to be lonely.

Radio-dial

Then I realized that not having a radio was really a blessing. God was providing a way for me a way to spend more time with him (I almost said forcing but I think that is not very theologically sound). Last year my morning commute was about forty minutes. This year it is right at thirty. With no radio, I now can take that time and spend it focused on God. I find that some mornings I sing praise songs in the car. I open myself up to a morning worship in song session. I can sing praises and prepare my heart for the day that way.

Even on those mornings, however, I spend time just praying. I ask God to bless my day. I ask Him to make me a better man of God. I ask Him to bless those I love. I ask Him to speak to me as well. We communicate. All because of a weird factory defect in my van. I have found that most mornings I even skip the singing and go right to talking things out with God.

I have found that my heart is more sensitive to His leading when we are in the van alone together. I am willing to listen. I am open to change. The morning makes me ready to accept challenges. I am ready for my day because I have spent quality time with God.

These times have helped me live life on purpose. I have been able to better understand the Great Commandment. At those wee hours of the morning, I am able to really pursue complete devotion. I am not always profoundly dedicated during these times but God uses them to teach me to love Him with my heart, soul, mind and strength. These times help to remind me that the first purpose of my life is to chase after Christ not only in the morning hours but throughout the entire day. I am called to love Him with profound dedication and complete devotion. I have learned that this begins with spending time with Him.

That's about it for today. Perhaps tomorrow I will pontificate on the other half of this idea of purpose. I hope you have an incredible day walking in the victory of our Lord!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Currently Listening
The Altar and the Door
By Casting Crowns
3. Slow Fade
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Jasper Speaks:

So, I was listening to The Altar and the Door the other day and this song stood out to me:

"Slow Fade"

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

I really got me thinking about how all the little compromises in our lives add up. I was thinking about how so often we think that if we aren't "big sinning" then it is okay. I think we don't give enough credence to keeping purity a priority in every part of our lives. We think, "if I look at that or if I say this" it will be okay. I mean Jesus might not do it but it is okay if I do".

Now I know we don't necessarily have that internal monologue going all the time but we do compromise all the time. We don't consider the consequences of those little things. I think of a white shirt and a little dirt.

dirtyshirt


The shirt might be very clean but if you drop a couple of grains of dirt onto the shirt everyday eventually WE become filthy.

mudman

When we go places we shouldn't, see things we ought not to, and listen to things that do not edify us, we are throwing a little dirt on our clean (in Christ) heart. After awhile, as we continue to allow these things into our lives, our hearts will become as dirty as that shirt.

The hard part is, unfortunately our hearts are not always as easy to examine as our clothing. We don't always realize when compromise is soiling our hearts. Like the song says, it is a slow fade. The darkness seldom takes over all at once. It most often takes over one small speck of dust at a time. As we continue to allow the dirt to contaminate us, the small specks add up and our hearts are covered in dirt before we realize it.

One of the verses that often come to mind for me is 2 Timothy 2:22. The reference is easy to remember and it's Truth is worth living by:

"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart".

I used to have that verse on an index card taped to inside cover of my Bible. Purity is so hard to guard. Our world today devalues purity of heart. As Christians we are called to live a life above the bar. The question is are we letting the little thing add up until our hearts are no long pure but dark? Are we fleeing the evil desires of youth or are we slowly embracing them? Are we letting them cover our hearts slowly so that we barely detect a change?

Is it time to flee?