Read some great devotionals written by Pastor Jayce and some of our members at RED Church.
Check back on Mondays for brand new devotionals.
Read some great devotionals written by Pastor Jayce and some of our members at RED Church.
Check back on Mondays for brand new devotionals.
October 31, 2016
By Esther Chang
The weather is getting colder, so I’m dusting off my knitting again. Knitting exists nearly in the realm of something magical for me: how one strand of thread can be wound around itself continuously to create something like itself, yet utterly different. You never really look at a sweater the same again after you learn to knit.
When you first start, you’re clutching the pattern and counting every stitch off carefully in your head. But after a while, you come to understand the pattern, not because you’re reading it off the page, but because you can tell where you are by how the previous stitch is looped. You gain an intuitive, big-picture feel for how the rows work together, why something looks different on the right versus the wrong sides of the work. You learn how to read the signs.
You’re flying along, feeling pretty good about yourself—I’m an awesome knitter! After this, socks!—then you make a mistake. You drop a stitch, or realize you did the whole last two rows wrong. And you realize you never really understood the pattern at all, and only now, as you painstakingly work each stitch backwards, as you hook up the dropped loops, do you really grasp it.
I think of myself as creating when I make scarves out of yarn, but really only God can create, can make something out of nothing. No other living being can do that. God the Father spoke through the word that is Jesus, as the Spirit hovered, to bring everything we know into existence.
We don’t, I think, in our postmodernist mindsets, think of ourselves as created beings. We think of ourselves as dictating our own narratives, writing our own meanings, constructing our own identities. If a mask is identity and perception, our culture knows all about that: blame your parents if you don’t like the mask they gave you. Watch the ads to figure out what you should look like. You’ll seem perfect if you get the spouse or career you want. Figure out who you want to be and self-help your way there.
But as I knit, I think about how the person I give the scarf to will never really understand it the way I do, because while they use it, I’m the one who created it. I’m the one who sees exactly how the threads overlap to create the warmth for which it was made; who sees the beauty of the pattern’s workings because I fixed it when it fell apart. How much more does God, who created us, understand me? In fact, God is the only one who knows who I am: he created me in his image, for his purpose, and until I realize that, I will forever be finding any identity I slip on a hollow mask that cannot satisfy or explain. “They have forsaken me,” God says in Jeremiah 2:6, “the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Six hundred years later, Jesus sits down at a well in Samaria, tired from a journey, and talks to a woman about living water. You don’t have to be thirsty all the time anymore, he says. I can give you water that will become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). How do we understand who we are? We look to our creator. We read and meditate on the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to make its truths real in our lives. We talk to God and spend time worshipping and hanging out with him. We engage in community and let others speak into our lives. We follow God in our careers, families, marriages; in how we take care of our bodies, in how we think with our minds, in how we use our talents—and when those things aren’t our primary identities, but flow out of our love for and service to God, we experience them so much more fully and joyfully than we would have in any other way. Because that, of course, is how it was created to be.
October 24, 2016
Pastor Jayce O'Neal
Hello, my name is "Joyous Jayce" and this is "Harmonious Holly." We would like to welcome you to the Christian walk, where all your dreams come true. You will never get sick, people will always like you, and money will grow on trees, so you can live a safe and perfectly, peaceful life.
You see Christianity is like a social club, but better, because there are no popularity contests and everyone is completely honest. Yup, you have made the right decision, so once you pay your initiation fee you can be well on your way to the life you have always dreamed of …
Is this the Christian walk you thought you were signing up for? Or better yet, is this the story you have tried to sell to others? When I look around at the landscape of modern Christianity, I see a lot of teachings that seem to directly contradict the message of the Bible. I hear messages that are so pie in the sky that if there is something "not perfect" in your life, then there is an issue with your walk with the Lord.
What got me thinking about this is a friend of mine who reminded me the other day that our testimonies are our best opportunities to minister to people. However, if we try to live in "La La Land" then how can we begin to relate to those who have not seen the amazing grace of God?
What I mean to say is that if we pretend or even believe that our lives are to be safe and perfect, then how in the world can we hope to connect with those who have no idea what we are talking about? If I were to be honest, sometimes I hear Christians talk in such a weird Christianese way that I do not even have a clue what they are talking about.
The Christian walk was never meant to be the path of least resistance that we often portray it to be. The bad things we have gone through, and the hurts we have endured are not anomalies, but the very things God uses to help us in this world to relate to people.
Our wounds are not our own. Take Jesus for example. He could have been born on the earth and died and rose again. It could have been as simple as that. He did not have to teach, nor did he have to die in such a painful way, but He did. He chose to do that.
Why? I used to ask myself that question, and one of the reasons I think He did this is because He knew the power of being able to identify. God (AKA Jesus) became man and chose to identify with us by experiencing the pain and anguish that each of us have to experience.
He is not a distant God who tells us the do's and don’ts, but rather a very personal God who says, “I will go through the hells of this world in order to show you my undying, everlasting love.”
You see, He was betrayed, so when your friends gossip about you, He understands. His dearest friends walked away from Him in His greatest time of need. So when your spouse cheats on you, He understands. He hung on a cross naked and exposed for all to see, so when you are abused and exposed in ways no one should have to experience, He understands.
When Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus put Thomas’ fingers through His wrists where the spikes pierced Him, and then Thomas believed. You see, sometimes people will only come to believe the truth after they have seen your wounds.
I do not know why bad things happen, but I do believe that one of the reasons is because if none of us Christians had ever gone through anything difficult, then we would never be able to relate to the broken and wounded in the world.
So when we try to make the Christian walk sound like a Sunday stroll, I think we hurt the cause of Christ. People cannot relate to that because it simply is not true. The world is seeking truth, and they can smell sensationalism and fraud from a mile away because nothing this side of heaven is perfect and pain free.
However, when we show them the nails in our hands, the paths we have walked, and how God has touched our lives, then many of the doubting Thomases will listen. The power of identifying is your greatest tool, not walking through trials by denial.
Revelation 12:11 says, "And they overcame Him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death."
October 17, 2016
Pastor Jayce O'Neal
As we look at the world around us and the people in it, it is often difficult not to compare ourselves to others.
She is a great singer. I could never do that.
He is so much better than me at this and that.
These are the internal monologues we tell ourselves and save on the hard drives of our hearts - immobilizing our souls to truly and honestly be who we were created to be.
So much time is spent on what we do not have and what others possess that we fulfill a self-prophecy that sends us into the cellar of impotency. We become timid, insecure, and complacent.
We become safe. What if I fail? What if I give my best, and it's still not good enough?
When David met Goliath, he was not worried that Goliath had a sword and he had only a sling[Office1] . He knew who he was and what he could do, and he met this situation with what he did have. Whether David lived or died was inconsequential to him. He met his challenge head-on.
Most of us these days would instead whimper in the corner, sucking our thumbs and crying because our sling isn’t a sword. It's not even a spear!
Honestly, does the Mona Lisa sit around saying, “If only I were a sculpture like Michelangelo's David!” Seriously, does an orange complain that it is not an apple? Does the sky resent the earth? Do the stars envy the moon?
In 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 Paul talks about the very same thing.
"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body" (I Corinthians 12:14-15, NIV).
We are all different. If the feet feel less than the hands, and the eyes are jealous of the ears, then we find ourselves impaired. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.
We have not learned to lose gracefully. We may think that losing is a bit of a stretch.
It’s as though we have a score card and we list who is better and worse than us. "She gets guys' attention more than I do. Score one for her. Minus one for me." Or, "He is stronger than me. Score one for him. Minus one for me.”
It is as though we say to ourselves, We must be the best! We can never fail because if we do, what might that say about us? We foolishly compare and compete, but in the end we all face the same fate.
Age is the great equalizer. Feeble bones and tattered memories sneak up on the young as they age, with or without their knowledge. In the end, the talented and gifted are no better off than the most average of us.
Why do we have to be the best? Why can't we just be ourselves? It's a freeing thought to finally realize we don't have to be the best. We only have to be our best.
We may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but a hammer doesn't need to be sharp. Can a hammer saw? Can a saw hammer? Can either do their job if they're jealous of each other’s gifts and purpose?
This is a deep thought for a simple principle. Be free to be your best and free to do your job, not someone else's. God has made us as different parts with different strengths. Freedom comes in relishing in what He’s made us to do, while admiring what He has made others to be as well.
October 14, 2016
By Esther Chang
I have to confess something: I have a hard time not feeling like I own and deserve what I earn. Getting into medical school, then a competitive specialty, then completing training took twelve years of hard work—research labs instead of the beach; Friday nights in college libraries; countless exams and sleepless nights on call and scut work on hospital floors. In medicine there is probably the biggest salary hike of any field, when you go from being a resident who earns less than minimum wage if you factor in how many hours are worked, to a doctor in private practice, and it’s hard not to feel like you deserve it.
So why does God own everything? A brief search through the Bible reveals at least four reasons: one, because he created it. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2). This is perhaps the most fundamental of all reasons: we may feel like we have power over something because we acquired it, but that is delusional and meaningless compared with the power that God has because he created it, and he created all things.
Secondly, we see that God owns everything because he can take it away at any time. This is a lesson I hope I’ll never have to learn, but anyone who has lost something probably feels this. There was gold and other treasures in Eden, but Adam and Eve took nothing with them when they left: it had all belonged to God, and he could take it away. Job 1:21 says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”
Thirdly, God owns everything because we can’t take it with us when we die: “For we
brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1
Timothy 6:7). Most of us don’t think much about death, so this can be hard to see: but imagine if you got to go on a one-hour shopping spree at your favorite store at no cost (I’ve spent considerable time debating which store I’d pick). You go through the aisles grabbing everything and stuffing it all in your car, but on the way home you get hit by a truck and die. That’s what a condensed version of our lives can look like: we’re so obsessed with acquiring material goods, but in the end, and certainly compared to
eternity, it’s all so temporary and meaningless, because we can take none of it with us.
Fourthly, God owns everything because he enables us to earn any money we have.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 says, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” God gave me my mind, my affinity for biology, my ability to do detailed work with my hands. It’s because of God that I was born in the twentieth century instead of the seventeenth, when women could not be doctors, and into a supportive family environment. And I could go on.
There are lots of interesting things that happen when I realize that I do not own what I have, but I steward what belongs to God. I can actually be more content with what I have, because I know God picked it out for me, and he is a God who knows me and what I need better than I know it myself. I don’t have to worry that I need more, or compare what I have with others. I can actually enjoy what I have more, because I know it comes from a God who delights in me, and I actually feel his delight when I enjoy what he has given me. It’s a freeing, guiltless, pure kind of delight, that is quite different from the shallower, temporary pleasure I get when I greedily hoard or obtain something for myself. I am free from anxiety, because while I want to manage what he gave me wisely, I recognize that I can’t and don’t need to control my money as a means to security. I can actually be generous from the heart, because I know none of it is mine anyway; I can give willingly because it comes from God and I see that I only have it because of his grace.
The truth that God owns everything, that I am entitled to none of it, has been slowly
seeping into my heart the last few years. And it’s not a grudging, bitter truth: it’s a sweet, freeing one. I see that who I am, and all the things I have in this life, are expressions of a loving, completely powerful God, before whom I bow, to whom I am deeply thankful, through whom I delight in myself and give to others. Romans 11:36 sums it up best: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.”
October 10, 2016
By Esther Chang
There’s a difference between gratitude and adoration. Gratitude is when I say, “Thank you for this, God.” Adoration is when I ask, “How does this reveal an attribute of God that I can admire him for?” Gratitude goes as far as saying, “Thank you for sex, God; it is a good thing.” Adoration takes it further, asking, “What does sex reveal about God’s nature and narrative?”
Putting God and sex in the same sentence can seem awkward, which I think reveals how much we are creatures of our culture—and, as Pastor Jayce preached about in his first sermon in this series, how powerfully Satan uses sex to drive us towards shame, instead of pointing us towards God.
J.L. Packer writes about how sex is a signpost to God. Now, if you camp under a signpost, you’re not going to get much of anywhere. If you’re driving down I-64 and camp under the sign that says “Virginia Beach, 60 miles” and say, “we’re here, honey!” you won’t get there. Yet that’s what we’re doing; our appetites are so habitually inflamed as to distract us, or our shame is so great as to paralyze us, from moving on to the destination.
So how does sex point us to God?
It points to one way in which we were made in his image. God is one God but in three persons, and at the center of the Trinity is a state of mutual, self-giving love. C.S. Lewis calls this the “great dance”; a dynamic, pulsating activity in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit pour love and joy into one another continually, and sex mirrors that.
Sex points to what it will be like to be with God in heaven. In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul writes, “The two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” This is why, I think, sex can never be just about the body—it involves the heart, mind, soul, all of us—because it is meant to point to the wholeness of union we will have with Jesus one day for all of eternity. That is the story God is writing us for, and sex now is somehow just a faint foretaste of it.
Sex points to the gospel in involving the ability to create new life. As Pastor Jayce also says, God didn’t have to create sex for procreation. I can think of a few alternative ways of mingling genomes. But God chose to have a covenant act of self-giving bring new life, a life that we cannot take credit for masterminding, and I can only think that it points to the gospel.
Ultimately, I think sex makes us realize we are creatures with needs that only Jesus can meet. If I dig deep enough, I see that sometimes underneath the need is a desire for connection, meaning, understanding and identity that ultimately only Jesus can satiate. As Isaiah 54:4-5 says, “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.”
October 3, 2016
By Adam Woods
In this day and age it is so hard to remain sexually pure. Images come at you from every angle. Commercials on T.V., movies you watch or simply walking down the street can all be avenues for your mind to run wild. Boy, is it tempting. And it should be! God created the human body. He created sex. He declared them to be good! You may or may not know, but when God creates something, it's goooood.
So why then do we need to be sexually pure? If God created something that's good, why would he want to keep it from us?
I’ll try and explain it this way. Technology is amazing. I absolutely love it. We can keep up with people half-way around the world. We can take photographs of our life events, post them on Facebook and, instantly, my family 1000 miles away can see what's going on. I can see my family in Washington D.C. through a computer screen. I can talk with my nine-month-old niece even though I'm not in the same room. It's truly amazing. However, technology used in the wrong way can be really bad. The same technology that is used to show life events to my family or give me the ability to talk with my niece in another state can also be used to show the world an embarrassing picture that will stay with me forever.
How about this? The same guidance technology that sent men to the moon can be used to send a bomb to kill people.
Let's get away from technology. How about a simple hammer? A hammer is great. It can build a house. It can build grocery stores, schools and hospitals. But a hammer used in the wrong way can be deadly.
Get where I'm going? Sex, as it was intended, is a good thing. However, when sex is not used as it was intended, it can have deadly effects ... literally. According to God's word, the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (I Corinthians 6:9). Aside from shame, guilt and the fact that you're sinning against yourself, God says you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Whoa. That's heavy.
But hang in there with me. I have some good news. Throughout my journey of overcoming an addiction to pornography, God has always shown his grace, mercy ... and ... wait for it ... forgiveness!
I was a sexually immoral person. One of the most influential verses God spoke to me through the years of addiction (and still to this day) is 1 John 1:9, which says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." As soon as I confessed my sin to Christ, I was forgiven!
Please don't hesitate to do the same. Are you living a sexually immoral life? Are you in a sexually immoral relationship? Is your thought life not as it should be? Do you struggle with looking at images on the computer or T.V.? Do you struggle with looking lustfully at other people? Whatever situation you find yourself in, remember the first step to becoming free is to confess your sins, knowing that God loves you and will forgive you!
Thoughts or comments? How about a testimony? I want to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
September 26, 2016
Dr. Jayce O'Neal
How would you feel if I called you a liar? How about if I labeled you as the cheater? If I called you a compromiser, would you feel as strongly?
What if the person you loved had an affair? What if the person you loved had an emotional affair, meaning that they depended on and longed to be with someone other than yourself? How would you feel?
Maybe it did not even go so far. How would you feel if your boyfriend or husband was watching another woman’s body for while you stood next to him?
Men, what would you feel like if your girlfriend or wife pined for another man while she was in your arms?
I ask you these questions, because we are all cheaters, liars, and have proven unfaithful. You see, we do these things to God all of the time. All throughout the Bible God refers to His passion for us as a man who burns for his bride.
And every time we compromise, push the limits, or forego Biblical boundaries, we cheat on God…we hurt Him. God is not a distant being who cares nothing for us, but an Almighty Being who desires your heart more than any mortal man. Yet we continually give our attention, our hearts, and our passions elsewhere.
We often get so caught up in what we can and cannot do that we rarely consider whether or not we should. If we were to look at the landscape of morality in America it is obvious that there is a serious decline in conscience. Might this have something to do with our stance on compromise?
So many in the church argue against legalism and how the Church’s rules have suffocated the relevance of the Christian message to a point that the world cannot relate to it. These same people also argue that the rules are cumbersome for the Christian themselves to a degree in which they seem out of date with what is going on in the mainstream culture.
These arguments are made as if this sort of cultural division has never happened before. It’s as though they are unaware of the drastic cultural differences in the Bible times between the Christians and Romans. Nearly every major civilization has fallen from within due to moral decay.
Recently I heard the argument from one individual that they were tired of Christians following rules they do not understand. The argument was founded on the concept that Christians are too conservative and that “rules” were illogical and inconvenient.
This individual had issues with legalism. The argument is valid, but the conclusion is faulty. Following rules without understanding why they are there means nothing more than the fact that we are ignorant. It does not mean the rules are bad; it simply means we do not know their intent or feel they are not needed.
Another faulty conclusion to this argument is that rules are legalistic. This is untrue. Legalism only comes into play when we divorce our hearts from the rules. Legalism is following rules with our actions but rebelling in our hearts. This does not mean, however, that the rules are bad in and of themselves but merely that our hearts must also be in line with our actions.
Jesus stated this same thing. He said that if we lust in our hearts it is just as bad as if we actually carried out the act physically (Mathew 5:28, NASB). Therefore if we follow the “rules” and do not physically cheat but do in our hearts, then we are still in sin.
So my question to all of us (including myself) is this ... where are we compromising? If everyone saw the thoughts we had on a movie screen, what would it show? Christians often pretend that we are not affected as much as we are. We do this because I believe it buys us a little bit more freedom to do a little bit more than we know we should.
Movies and music are filled with so many anti-God messages these days, but yet we continue to buy the CDs and DVDs and complain about the immoral state of our culture. This does not mean that every movie or song is bad, but when was the last time we walked out of a movie or turned off a song?
Better yet, when was the last time we did research ahead of time to avoid having to leave? We cannot complain about the movies and music and how they are so immoral if we are lining up to consume them. It is like complaining about the government and never voting.
If all the Christians decided not to go to these movies or buy the music, they would stop making them because they are a business. They sell what will be bought. Right now, what is selling? Sex-filled music, blatantly pagan comedies (that Christians go in droves to see), and story lines that mock God and elevate anti-family themes. There are some good things to listen to and watch, but are we consuming those or the other kind?
Philippians 4:8 says, ”Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (NASB).”
Maybe our particular compromise is not the media. Maybe it's talking too long to that person at work that you know you shouldn’t because it may lead to something more even though both of you are in committed relationships. Maybe you are letting your boyfriend or girlfriend stay the night? Perhaps, you are a man who has roving eyes or a woman who cheats in her heart even though she knows she would never act on it.
You see, we are not the only ones we hurt when we abuse our free will to serve our selfish endeavors. We hurt those around us too. And yes, we are responsible for the effect we have on others. In our American mentality we often think of our rights and our individualism, however, this can often be contrary to Scripture.
1 Corinthians 8:9, 12 says, "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ (NASB).”
We too often choose the path of least resistance because it’s easier and because we have become spiritually lazy. We try to do as much as we can without fully “sinning.” We tip-toe to the edge of the proverbial “sin cliff” and look at what lies below.
We mock those who stand further back because they are scared and “prudish,” and we wave at those who fall over the cliff and say nothing to prevent them from falling. However, even if we did try to speak a word of caution, they would not listen because, from their vantage point (right before they fall), we look the same as them.
If we as Christians look no different than anyone else except that we sing songs and pray from time to time, then our lights are not shining in the world but only in our small circles of friends who likely have small lights too.
We should be different and act different, but so many of us look no different at all. Too often we are wavering candles amidst a vast, endless cavern.
My dad told me a story about when he was a pastor, and a young person over heard him tell a dirty joke. Because of that, the kid swore he’d never go back to church. He thought my dad was different, but his actions (in that moment) were no different than everything else he had heard from the world.
No, we are not perfect, but how often do our actions betray what we say we believe? The Christian walk is not a checklist of do’s and don’ts, but a way of life that testifies to the fact that our lives have been transformed. Legalism is not the answer, but from what I see these days, it appears to me that compromise, apathy, and justification are even more dangerous.
We should ask ourselves where we have faltered, and we should allow ourselves to try and imagine how much we hurt God and those around us with the “affairs” we are committing in our lives. Would we ever want to experience that type of pain? Would we want to ever cause anyone that much pain? We have. We do.
September 19, 2016
I’m going to go on a limb here and talk about secret sexual sins. Not a comfortable topic. Twice in my life, I met with girls who were brave enough to confess their struggles in this area, and both times it opened the door to me doing the same. While recent studies have highlighted how often women watch porn, and certain bestsellers have shed light on erotic literature, this is still a hard topic to talk about, especially for women.
I was reflecting recently on how it is so common, even for those who are outwardly moral, to have a fantasy sex life, defined as watching or reading anything that leads to having mental fantasies often manifesting in masturbation. The actual content one struggles with may range from what most believers would call bad (porn, erotic novels) to more acceptable things (lyrics in songs, TV shows with sex scenes, christian romance books with sexual tension).
The reality is, it’s almost impossible to grow up in this culture without struggling to some extent with a fantasy sex life. Before you get married, you figure actually having sex will fix all of it, but it doesn’t: while the fantasy sex life affects the real sex life, having the real life doesn’t always affect the fantasy one. Because at heart, they are two totally different things. The real sex life is about relationship, about a real person, about putting ourselves aside, about being vulnerable. The fantasy life is about consumerism, objectification, and immediate gratification, without actually giving anything. It’s faster, easier, and more addictive.
What’s behind the fantasy life? Sometimes it’s time-of-month hormones, or being tired, or being angry, but mostly it’s an idolization of feeling desired, at least I think for women. You don’t have to foray far into the romance novel industry to figure this out: the longer the book can draw out the pursuit and ongoing sexual tension, the better.
That’s why, to me, the issue is at heart a spiritual one. There are so many rational reasons to stay away from this stuff (objectification of women, bad examples to our kids, polluting effectiveness in ministry, contributing to pedophilia, rewiring our brains, affecting our sexual expectations, wasting our time, practicing deceit), but what will make us stop?
The other night I was confronting the reality of this in our lives, and I felt overcome with sadness in a way I never had before, just sadness for myself, my friends, for those I loved, that these things which we struggle to utter to the people closest to us on earth will one day come before a holy God. I saw how much these things hurt God, and cheat us of what he wants for us, and as I was crying I started thinking about the picture of Jesus in Revelation 5: Jesus with seven eyes, seeing everything. A slain lamb, because he loves me. Standing, because he has resurrected and overcome the darkness. With seven horns, because he has complete power, power that he gives me to overcome. It’s a bit of a horror-movie image, but at that moment, it felt precious.
It doesn’t take much to see that our story with Jesus is the stuff of fantasies. He went from one world to another, changed form, became poor, suffered for us. He is the ultimate alpha male, sensitive lover, and unfailing protector that all these novels hark on about, and I suppose there is a kind of tension that we exist in, anticipating the ultimate consummation of our lives forever with him in eternity. But there’s a difference between knowing these things and feeling them deep in our hearts, in a way that takes away the hungers and habits we nurse in the dark. I think it can. I’ve experienced that, and I’m praying it for the people I know and love.
August 22, 2016
Pastor Jayce O'Neal
Frustrations mounting, sweat-dripping, and steam coming out of my ears like a raging bull, I have again found myself at the end of my rope. What has me all bent out of shape, you might ask? Love life gone wrong? Nope. Problems at home? Nuh-uh. Money problems? Not really. Then what?
I have again found myself irritated beyond belief, because of a stupid game called golf. Stupid being the operative word simply because the game is the problem and not my inability to play it, or so I tell myself over and over again. Most everyone knows that sports are often great tools to learn life lessons: being a team player, perseverance in the face of adversity, hard work paying off, etc.
However, this lesson I am currently facing is one I believe to be the toughest for many (including myself) to learn and live out in a practical manner in everyday life. I find that when I play golf, I become keenly aware that patience in my life is in short supply. I have found that when an issue shows up in one part of my life, it can often be found in other places of my life as well. Sports can often act as a catalyst to reveal such things. Is there a fear of failure, an anger problem, or simply a lack of patience?
Patience… the very word can cause me to yawn, roll my eyes, or turn my attention to something else altogether. You see, I am a doer. I see something, I go after it. End of story. Being patient is not my cup of tea.
In fact, the thought of having to be patient seems to even increase my frustration. Yet, in golf I really have no choice but to be patient. In football, if I get frustrated I just hit someone harder on the next play. In basketball, I can foul someone. In baseball, it’s easier to just hit the ball harder. Then there’s golf.
When you get frustrated in golf and lose patience, you often land the ball in the sand trap, woods, or in my case the window of that expensive house that just happened to get in the way of my innocent ball.
I can often mistake patience and waiting on passivity, or I can see it as a convenient excuse for the lazy or the fearful. Yet I realize that this is not always the case. I think if I were back in Bible times, I might have made different decisions.
If I were Joshua I think instead of waiting for the seventh day, I might have instead knocked on the front door of Jericho after the first night. Perhaps if I were with Moses with the Red Sea in front of me and the Egyptians close behind, I think I might have jumped in the water and attempted to swim across.
This is not how I wish to be. I desire to be a person of faith, and a large part of that is to be more patient. Being a patient person is not being passive or lazy, but rather being bold in confidence that God will do exactly what He promises to do. I want to be like Abraham who waited patiently and was rewarded for it.
Hebews 6: 15 says, "And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (NASB).
When I think about it, it’s nearly impossible to truly and honestly serve God faithfully and obediently without being a patient person who is willing to wait for the right thing at the right time. It is an odd thought really to realize that my frustrations on the golf course can give me a glimpse into my relationship with God.
This being said, I can at least make strides in trusting the Lord and waiting for the right thing at the right time…even if I’m still paying home owners for broken windows because of my less than par golf game.