Monday, September 23, 2013

What is faith? I bet, if you ask 5 different people you will get 5 different answers. Most skeptics would say that faith is believing in something without a lack of real evidence, or believing in something that you know in your heart isn't true. If you go to the dictionary for the definition of faith it says, A belief and trust in and loyalty towards God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; or firm belief in something that has no proof. I don't think any of these provide an absolute answer as to what faith really is. I think faith is your belief, but also your relationship with God, I think they go hand in hand. Without that realtionship there is no faith. Faith is probably the most essential part of Christian life, because without faith you can't have God. Hebrews 11: 6 states, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnastly seek him." Hebrews11:1 gives us this discription of faith, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." So the Bible tells us that the place that true faith comes from is God, for it is by grace you have been saved,through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that noone can boast. (Ephesians 2 : 8-9)Faith moves way beyond anything we can know, it is fiercly personal yet inevitably communal. Faith is giving control of the bus over to God, letting go of everything and holding on to someone that won't let go of you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Are there winners and losers in the Kingdom of God? I think society today is too wrapped up in competition, there has to be a winner and a loser. The most watched TV shows have a "loser" who gets kicked off weekly, elections are watched and treated like football games, and don't get me started on the stories of parents getting into fights at their children's sporting events. What are we teaching our youth?

I coach soccer and fastpitch softball through the parks and rec department where I live, the kids that play are playing for fun. It's not like little league, there are no winners or losers, the score is not kept and no records are kept. Some parents say that is ridiculous, since our kids live in the "real world" which is based on competition, when in all actuality most of our jobs or careers are based on cooperation. But, if competition is truly what makes the world go round, and I am to work with the youth, then part of my role is to paint them a picture of not what the world is today, but as it could be. A world where love and community are the focus, not competition, not self-sufficiency, or independence.

 Philippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Our competitive nature prepares us for a world of winners and losers. "To the victor goes the spoils", I believe is the quote. We understand the ways of competition as if it were hard wired into our brains. And, since it is the winners who write the history books, little is made of this part of our lives. So how do we teach our youth humility and compassion?

 If you want to know the truth, it is not natural for us to care about other people. Humanity is born greedy and self-centered, and our youth are not any different. We need to see that the real problem here is in the heart. If we simply try to change their behavior, we are not helping them get closer to Jesus. I see Philippians 2:3-4 used a lot in teaching our youth about humility and compassion, but I think maybe verses 1 and 2 should also be used , which explains, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one with spirit and purpose. Paul is saying that if your encouragement is in Christ, then you can put others first. If you have comfort in Jesus' love, then you can care more about your neighbor. If we want our youth to put competition aside and care about others, we have got to be aware of what fills their lives. We need to show our youth Jesus is real, and when that happens, their hearts will naturally overflow to those in need. So, are there winners and losers in God's Kingdom? What do yo think?