Friday, June 28, 2013

Love and Brotherhood

At one point this year, I was talking with my friend, Ryan, over Facebook when I asked him how I could become closer with other Christian guys. I had asked him about his thoughts on this a few months ago as I was questioning if I will ever become close with another guy who also loves God. This past week, he made a response to my question through a long email, and the passages that he recommended me to meditate on were as follows:
  • 1 Samuel 20 (David and Jonathan's oath of friendship under the sight of God)
  • Proverbs 27 (wise expressions about love, family and friendships)
  • 1 Corinthians 13 (Paul explaining about the character of a Godly love)
I found that while 1 Samuel 20 portrays a great example of friendship between two close friends (who were guys), 1 Corinthians 13 seemed to pop out more to me. I still find it a bit hard to explain why, but it seems to be a more heavily focused passage, and that it was something on which I needed to reflect. Another particular thing that came to my attention was Proverbs 27:10 (see below).

"Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,  and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away."

I guess that, based on these readings, I still have trouble with love. I guess it could have something to do with my difficulty to fully accept myself. I don't know why, but I find that as I get older, I feel more of the pressure to be like other guys (typical gender stereotypes). I try to go through life, but you keep hearing that you're supposed to be this or that. The thing is, I'm not so hugely into cars, I'm not a sports super fan, I don't even obsess over sex and girls like guys normally do.

I still tend to question God as to why he allowed me to be born with Autism as it tends to act more like a curse in both the "job world" and the "guy world" (which both co-exist as though they are one and the same; again, this is just my way of explaining things from my point of view). Because the main impairments caused by this disorder are my delayed speech and the fact that I need time to think things through before speaking. But the only thing I have going for me as an advantage is that I am often more focused on some things rather than others. Hopefully, I'll be able to get over this hurdle in my life.

Chances are, I'm not alone in these kinds of struggles: there are probably many Christian guys like me who are having trouble in making and maintaining strong friendships with other Christian guys. I agree that it's not easy, especially since I'm expressing about my thoughts. I think what might work for guys like us in being closer and more trusting with our Christian brothers is what Ryan had said to me in the email message: 

"As for advice? I would say, find a friend you think you can trust, and tell him you want to be a brother in CHRIST for him. Don't be clingy, but just say, 'Let's be there to encourage each other in our walk with God'. From my experience when you consciously make that decision then you focus a lot more on it. Pray, envision, minister with, and confess sin to brothers you can trust. The Bible asks this."

I hope that any of this helps somebody as I am also going through this. I find that expressing these struggles and lessons allows me to remain humble and to remind me, as well as everybody else, that we are all human and need God's love and grace as he conducts his work on us and through us. It's great to be writing about real life rather than some fantasy sometimes.

Peace be with you and keep it real with Jesus!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Gifts and Barbecues: Showing How God is Working Through Us

Over the past week or so, I had been doing the following three things: passing a social psychology course, trying to find a job, and continuing to explore more deeply into my relationship with Jesus. Mind you, trying to balance all of this is easier said than done. While I have been continuing to enrich my journey and have passed the psychology course, my job prospects have been very slim. Now, I'm starting to wonder if I'm looking for a job for the right reasons. Is God saying that I am supposed to be getting a "job" (a form of paid employment), or is that what society is pushing me to do? What is it that God wants me to be doing right here, right now? What about in the future? Things like this still plague me, no matter how often I try to wash it off.

However, this past Saturday was more of a lax day for me, especially since I had it in my heart to do something helpful. So when I had heard that my friend, Kayla, was putting on a "Love Halifax" barbecue party as part of celebrating her birthday and to show God's love to the city, I decided to jump on the wagon like many other people who attend Shiloh Youth and Shiloh University Church. It was definitely worth it; we cooked up hot dogs and burgers, we offered water, chips and freezies, all for free while there were people participating in road hockey competitions and the Walk the Walk for Autism around the Halifax Commons. We also had games and worship during those few hours when we were there.

Looking back at this event, as well as some recent venturing into understanding spiritual gifts, I can see how we were rather similar with each other but are also distinct. For instance, I had noticed some similarities between myself and my new friend Garret (pictured left): both of us appear to be very gifted in knowledge and evangelism, but he has more hands-on experience in practicing these gifts as well as his music skills (he was really good at leading worship). All of this had gotten me to reflect on 1 Corinthians 12, which talks a lot about spiritual gifts (among many other passages). I guess the whole point was to explain how God equips us to do certain things that all have a common goal: to bless others, but more importantly, to reveal the One who made us and loved us so much to die in our place.

I find it rather awesome as to how radical this journey with God has been so far. I feel that I learned so much and yet have a long way to go. I pray that as we continue to walk with Him that He will strengthen and equip us to do his work on the earth. Yesterday may be history for now, but there's still today to go through and if allowed, tomorrow will be another day set out for us as well.
Peace be with you all and God bless you!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Faithfulness and Risk-Taking

Here are some more thoughts as I have been thoroughly studying Chapter One of Simon Guillebaud's More Than Conquerors...

Discussing about faith, I believe that I am rather confident in believing God's faithfulness; nobody can be as faithful as he is. This gives me some assurance that my life is in awesome hands. Though I would admit, it isn't always so easy to put your faith in Jesus. But I had to spend time with him, gradually allowing him to take up more of my heart. I pray that God will be able to mould me more into who he wants me to be, and use me to my best potential.

I’m continuing to learn more about how to handle failure. Failure doesn’t always mean that it’s the end of the line for me; it does however allow me to stop, look back, learn from it and move on to becoming better than how I was in the past. I believe that because of this, I have now become a better person and I am continuing to trust God more when I fall down. Sure, it’s often discouraging to fail and it has often made me question my beliefs and faith, but in the end, I just need to continue learning more about giving Jesus control; after all, he has greater plans set out for me (see Jeremiah 29:11 for context). By focusing more on him, I’ll have a more exciting and intimate relationship with him; I’ll be able to gain a better perception about how my life with Jesus has been an adventure. Speaking of adventure, this whole journey that I’ve been going through with Christ so far has been rather interesting, even though there were some moments that weren’t all too exciting, and some even dark ones; however, God has always managed to get me through it all stronger than before. I’m glad that I am covered by his grace and mercy.

I think God is urging me toward evangelistic and knowledge-based pursuits. This appears to be both appealing and risky to me as it is within my areas of interest and giftedness, and I don’t fully know what kind of outcome will arise from it all. I’m hoping that he will continue to shape and use me as I enter this set of endeavors that he has set out toward me. I also pray that the Spirit will enlighten the path that I am to take next (make it more clear on my next direction to go, as to clarify what I am saying). I know that eventually, things will make sense to me; until then, I’ll have to trust that God is going to be with me every step of the way. I hope that all of this encourages you as you continue on your walk with him everyday.

Take care and God bless you!