Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Friends

This past Saturday, I married Brian and Shannon. It was a good ceremony and I am so happy for the couple. I have known Shannon ever since I moved to Morgantown. She was one of the first people I met. Becky and I have been praying for 4 years for her to meet a Christian man that she could spend her life with. We are grateful to God for answering that pray in Brian.
After the wedding, we obviously hung around for the reception. Chris and Linda Haddock were there in attendance and sat at the table with us at the reception. Brannon sat by Chris. Right before the meal was served, I looked across the table, and my oldest daughter was sitting in Chris' lap with her head on his shoulder. I was then overcome with crazy gratitude for the great friends that God has put into our lives. I am so thankful for Brian and Shannon and Chris and Linda and all the other individuals at Crossroads Church who mean so much to the Suiters. I am especially thankful for a man who I completely trust and who my daughter feels so comfortable with that she would put her head on his shoulder. This is a testimony to the character of Chris H. It has nothing to do with the Suiters. It is because of the investment that Chris has put into Brannon that she responds to him like that. I was so thrilled to see it. I am so glad that someone loves me, my wife, and my children so much to invest in us like Chris and Linda have.
Two things quickly came to my mind in this moment:
1) I am blown away with gratitude for the friends that God has put into my life and into my families life (there are more than Chris and Linda and you know who you are - the story is just about Chris and Brannon). We are so fortunate to have so many people care for us like they do.
2) You will only get out of relationships what you put into them. Some people get so upset because they don't have relationships with others or a specific other and they always find a way to blame the "other". But the fault in most relationships that never happen lies with us. Brannon would NEVER have been sitting in Chris' lap with her head on his shoulder if he had not spent some serious time and effort investing in her. If we want great friendships, we must lay our lives down for each other and be willing to give - to sacrifice. Then, and only then, will we have the kind of love and trust that exists when a 5 year old sits in your lap and puts her head on your shoulder. To have a friend, you must first be a friend. Get outside yourself and invest in someone else and you will be surrounded by friends.
Thanks Chris! I love you man!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Living and Serving Like Jesus

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3;14

3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
John 13:3-5;12-14

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8

I know the idea that Jesus is God and that He came to serve us by dying in place of us because of our sin is a common Christian theme but I was blown away again by the gravity of this truth today. Jesus is GOD! He has always been! He created everything! He sustains everything by His Word! He is infinite! And He took on flesh (hunger, feelings, pain, tiredness, stress, confinement to one place and time)! And He came and served us by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! This is crazy cool theology! This is crazy cool love!

I love Jesus because He first loved me! Thank You Jesus for your unmerited favor, grace, and love!

After doing what He did (and being Who He is), He commands us to treat others with the same kind of love that He has for us. This is SO convicting (if you want to read more on the subject, check out Matthew 18:21-35) and quite an undertaking. I believe the world would quickly be changed for the glory of Jesus Christ if His church would truly live out His forgiveness, love, and compassion for others.

God has recently been impressing on me how much I need to grow in this area. In the past, I have always viewed my time and energy as belonging to me but God is revealing to me that those things are not mine at all. They are tools to serve and love others and bring glory to God. I have always known this in theory but living it out in practice is another thing but I want to so honor God with my time and energy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Guard

"Let us then be on our guard. We live with indwelling sin that is inclined toward insanity, because it is inclined to believe lies that lead to our destruction. When we are feeling the powerful pull of worldly temptation we need to take Paul's exhortation very seriously: 'But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called' (1 Timothy 6:11-12)."

Jon Bloom
Exc. Dir. of Desiring God Ministries

When I read this statement today in a letter from some stuff from Desiring God Ministries, this part really jumped out at me. I loved the section about how our sin inclines us toward insanity. I think so often we treat sin like its really no big deal but the reality is it leads toward insanity! Jesus said that the flesh profits NOTHING (emphasis obviously mine) and I am reminded of something that I heard recently from a pastor friend of mine. He said that we have no idea how deeply sin has marred us from our original God ordained condition.

This is all so true. Sin sucks, but it has such a strong pull on us. We need to be on guard and stand firm. We must stay in the Word and in prayer. That is the only way for apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

Stay the course my fellow travellers! Be on guard, watchful and alert! Our enemy is smart and patient. Our path is narrow and fraught with difficulties. Stay close to Jesus! He is our only hope!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Place To Be

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" John 11:32

I love this verse. It jumped off the page at me this morning as I was reading. Because of recent events in my life and my recent line of thinking, I can totally identify with Mary in this instance. Her brother has just died and she knows Jesus could have done something about it if He had just gotten there sooner. She is upset and from her perspective Jesus has totally let her down. Obviously, she has no idea what is about to take place (Jesus is going to raise her brother from the dead!!), and so she is upset and is laying some, if not all the blame at Jesus' feet. BUT, she is also laying something else at Jesus' feet - herself. Yep, I love this. She is upset with Jesus because of her lack of understanding but she still falls at His feet. Even though she feels like Jesus has let her down, she still recognizes her need to be at His feet.

This is SO applicable to my station in life. I have to continually come to grips with the fact that God is infinite and I am not. I think I know best, heck, I usually think I know everything and I continually get upset when God doesn't work everything out exactly like I want it to go. I obviously have a hard time letting go of things and trusting God from time to time but even in my most faithless times, I am like Mary. I recognize that in my times of mistrust and confusion, the best place for me to be is at the feet of Jesus! It's amazing how time at the feet of Jesus brings clarity in the midst of darkness. It helps me recognize that my perspective is so small and limited and that God truly knows best. He is totally trustworthy!

It amazes me how often we struggle with the weighty things of life and faith and then continue to move forward or try to figure things out on our own. When we do this, things just get blacker and more confusing. When we finally recognize that the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus, peace always comes. Maybe answers don't always come, but peace does. I'm sure that when Mary got off her knees, she wasn't immediately OK because her circumstances hadn't yet changed but I bet she had a new peace that she hadn't had since her brother had died. Jesus was there and even though there was still confusion, there was now a new peace.

This is exactly what I have discovered in the past few weeks. No matter what the source of blackness or confusion, the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus! He can handle all of our struggles, fears, and questions. Nothing is to big for Jesus. The problems are with us. We just have to learn to let go and trust. Yep, the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus trusting in Him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grace in The Church

"The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners"
Morton Kelsey

I so long for this to be true of Crossroads Church! May God forgive our self-righteousness as we seek to minister to a city and a world that is desperate for the grace and love of Jesus!