A Hidden Treasure In Our Homes

Brothers and sisters, this video truly convicted me of a major problem in my life and, I’m guessing, in the lives of many other American believers. Although we have multiple Bibles for each person in our houses (I, for one, have an “upstairs Bible,” a “downstairs Bible,” an electronic Bible, and several more), we seem to have to wrestle with our schedules and busy lives to eek out even just a few minutes each day to read our Bibles. God’s Word, his love letter to us, is sitting all over our houses and waiting to be read, yet we neglect it to attend to the things of our lives that [we think] truly matter.

These Chinese believers, however, understand what the Bible truly is. Just look at the sheer joy, reverence, and peace on their faces as they eagerly snatch up what is to them not just a fat, heavy book, but the divinely inspired instruction manual that our Creator gave us to show us how to live our lives. To them, it is the living and active Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), not just that dusty book you have to search for as you prepare for church every Sunday morning because you can’t remember where you put it after church the previous week.

To them, spending time in God’s Word is not a chore, but a privilege and a source of unending joy. They understand that reading it helps them to understand the character and nature of God, and in time, to get to know Him, not just know about Him. To them, it can be a great danger to be found reading the Bible, but they do it anyway because they know the treasure is worth the risk.

The point is: don’t take the Bible for granted. It’s not just any old book, but rather, the divinely inspired Word of God that covers every aspect of our lives and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Don’t make time in your day to read the Bible; make time in your Bible reading to do everything else. Don’t just read it, either; live it, breathe it, memorize it, and hide it in your heart so that you will keep your way pure and not fall short of the glory of God (Psalm 119:11). Meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8) as you would a love letter from your betrothed, because that’s what it is.

We have the greatest treasure imaginable in our homes, yet we willingly decide to keep it hidden. But let us choose this day to unblind ourselves and seek out that hidden treasure that is worth more than everything else we value and hold dear. Let us choose to cherish it and immerse ourselves in it, and through it, to understand Him, the Author and Perfecter (Hebrews 12:2).

Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.

A Tale of Two Birds

(image found on Google)

(image found on Google)

Once upon a time, in a land not far from wherever you’re reading this, two birds were sitting on a branch. There they were, chattering joyfully about where to find the crunchiest seeds and the juiciest worms, when suddenly, their peace was broken by the sound of angry voices approaching.

The birds fell silent and looked toward the source of the voices. Walking down the path was a human couple. The humans were squabbling loudly and and arguing with each other about about their current and future plans. A hush fell over the forest as the humans’ bickering filled the air.

Eventually, the humans (and their noise) left, and the forest came back to life. One bird turned to the other and chirped, “I wonder why they were worrying so much? I guess they don’t have a heavenly Father like we do!”

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”  –  Matthew 6:25-26

[Adapted from “Finding Security in God as a Father,” by Zac Poonen.]

Speaking Sweetly in a Swearing Society

Blog Speaking Softly in a Swearing Society

One of the things that shocked me the most when I started college was the vast amount of swearing and cursing that goes on in society. Probably due to my homeschooled upbringing, I was never exposed to swearing as a child. It wasn’t until I started attending my local community college at the age of 16 that I found out just how many curse words there are. I then realized that some of the movies I’d watched in the past* and enjoyed were full of cursing too; at the time I’d watched them, I didn’t have any ideas those curse words even existed.

I thought the cursing at my community college was bad, so you can imagine my shock when I started attending a major university, the University of Texas at Austin. For reference, this school was rated the #1 party school in the world a few years ago. Everywhere I go here, whether I’m in class or walking down the street, people are cursing with no care in the world.

I was doing homework in my study lounge one day when two people nearby started a conversation with each other. I kid you not, every other word from their mouths was a curse. They weren’t even talking about something horrible that had happened; they were nonchalantly chatting about their favorite video games. I sat there grinding my teeth in actual physical discomfort; however, there was nowhere to go. I knew the rest of the study lounge was full of the same kind of talking.

Another time, I was working on an assignment with two classmates. After a while, they began talking to each other about a female friend they had in common. They started objectifying her and using all sorts of crude terms to describe her at her expense, each expressing his desire to have her as his girlfriend, and worse. I waited for a while in hopes that they’d stop talking; when they didn’t, I was forced to make an excuse to leave. The worst part is, at least one of those two guys was a self-proclaimed Christian.

These are just two of hundreds of similar situations I’ve been forced to go through over the last two years. I used to hope that once I was through with college, I wouldn’t have to experience this issue any more; however, I’ve heard from many older believers that the swearing doesn’t stop when people get a job and career. I’ve come to realize that cursing has simply become a natural part of speech and life to many people, an issue not worth batting an eyelid over.

The question is: What should a godly man or woman do in such situations? Since everyone else swears, is it fine for us to swear? Some might make the argument that we need to move in accordance with the times: in past cultures, swearing was considered wrong, so Christians were not to do it, but now that it’s accepted, Christians are fine to do it.

I don’t believe this lie for one second. The Bible is absolutely clear that Christians are to keep their mouths completely pure and holy. Here are just a few out of dozens and dozens of verses to back up my opinion:

  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
  • Matthew 15:11 – “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
  • Colossians 3:8 – “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

There are countless more verses like these, all of which make it undeniably clear that Christians should have no part in speaking idly, crudely, or profanely about anyone or anything. The thing is, the only reason for someone to swear is if they have evil stored up within their heart. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”  (Matthew 12:34b). This verse makes it clear that if we store up evil in our hearts, our mouths will naturally speak evil and profane language.

What should we do instead? If we fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit and God’s love, we will bring forth “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) that will bless the people around us. “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person”  (Colossians 4:6). You cannot claim to be religious and yet not restrain your tongue: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless”  (James 1:26).

All these verses talk about how a believer should never curse or swear, but what about all the non-believers around us who swear? What do we do about them? Of course, we cannot force them to follow our beliefs. In the first situation I talked about earlier, the people swearing were not in my “jurisdiction,” a circle of people with whom I have authority. I didn’t even know them. In that particular situation, the best thing for me to do was to simply leave and pray fervently for the people involved.

In the second situation, where the two people were my classmates and one was apparently a Christian, I should have either graciously asked them to tone down their vulgarity or else found a way to steer the conversation into “safer” waters. Later, I should have privately confronted my friend who claimed to be a Christian and gently explained to him why Christians should never speak the way he did. Unfortunately, when this situation actually happened to me, I did neither of these options, but simply left. For this, I am extremely sorry and have prayed for the strength to do the right thing in the future.

The fact is, there will always be swearing around us. That’s just how the fallen world is. However, we, as believers, should NEVER grow accustomed to and used to it, much less participate in it. (Tweet) We should feel a mental and physical discomfort when we hear profanity. Most of the time, we can’t do anything about it because the people involved are not in our circle of authority; however, we must never cease to pray for them and ask God to reveal himself to them.

Even more, we should set an example in speech and life for the people around us. As Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” [emphasis added].  When we meet God at the Day of Judgement, let us not have any evil speech to condemn us. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”  (Matthew 12:36-37).

In the end, the only one we should desire to please is God. I would rather have the approval of God and the disapproval of man than the disapproval of God and the approval of man.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  -Psalm 19:14

P.S. One thing I absolutely hate is when people, especially believers, substitute little “safe” phrases for curses. For instance, instead of saying the F-word, they’ll say something like “freak.” Or instead of the S-word, they’ll say “shoot.” Even if they didn’t say the exact bad word out loud, that’s what they meant in their hearts, so they are just as guilty as if they’d said the curse word out loud.

* The fact that I watched these movies was not my parents’ fault; they didn’t know about all the curse words either. Before you watch any movie, I recommend you look it up on PluggedIn; this site will explain all the bad things to look out for in movies, including language, violence, and sexuality. If you can’t find a movie reviewed there, you can also look it up on IMDB and read the Parent’s Guide.

Tis the Season to…

Tis The Season to Help The Hungry

Tis the season to be jolly help the hungry.

I saw this billboard on my way to school this morning. Sure, Christmas has been over for a few weeks, but this message still remains true throughout the entire year. Too often, we enjoy the pleasures in our lives without thought of those who will never get to experience such pleasures. No matter how hungry we think we may be between meals, we must not forget that there are hundreds of millions of people out there who are far hungrier than us and don’t even have a meal to look forward to. I’m not saying that we should feel bad about what we have, or that we should throw away all our possessions and live in a cardboard shack, eating crackers and water; I just want all of us to be thankful for what we’ve been blessed with and find ways in which we can give to those in need.

Consider how much money you’ve spent eating out this week. Did you really need  to eat out so many times? I want you to try something: over the next few weeks, set aside a dollar every time you spend money on something you don’t need, whether it be food or any material objects. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised by how much money you’ve set aside! In addition, you might be shocked at how often you bought things that you could have lived just fine without.

Use that money to help someone in need. It could be a homeless guy on the side of the street, it could be an overseas mission. Even better than just donating money, consider donating your time by volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. If you’d like to donate money, an excellent missions program I know of is Gospel for Asia.

Remember, you never know who the poor people you’ll meet are. For all you know, they could be God is disguise.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:37-40

Here’s a video on this topic you might enjoy: The Parable of the Workmen