God Wills you to Have a Pink Car

At the crossroads in life, we are faced with a decision that will alter, direct, and shape our future. I recall my junior year of high school as one such crossroad. Graduation was creeping closer and I was stressed out and frustrated. It was time to begin the decision-making process with regards to the selection of a college or university. Overwhelmed with a plethora of choices, I sought counsel from close friends. The phrase consistently uttered from each individual was simply, “Seek God’s will for your life.”

After listening to the advice of my friends, I remember feeling even more confused! I was lost. Yes, I needed to seek God’s will, but how would I discover His will for my life? Or what if I made the wrong decision and missed His will altogether?

That’s when I stumbled upon Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV). We often interpret this verse to mean that God has planned every aspect of our life, down to the college we are to attend, the flavor of gum we chew tomorrow, and the color of our next car. In a sense, we take this verse literally and believe that God has this plan for our life and if we aren’t on this tiny little dot, we are not in God’s will. Hence, we fear that we will choose the wrong school or marry the wrong person.

However, God’s will isn’t this little dot that we have to somehow magically discover. I can tell you exactly what God’s will for your life is. He wills you to have faith in Jesus and be His servant; He wills you to love others; He wills you to love Him; He wills you to do what is morally just; and He wills you to be truthful. God’s will is not so much about what job you take or what school you attend, as it is about who you are and who you are becoming as a follower of Christ.

God has placed in each of us a passion—a passion to serve Him. And that passion can be fulfilled whether you are a pastor or a politician—as long as you are using that position to follow Christ and “His will” for your life. The passion God plants in you is tailored to the specific gifts and inclinations in your heart. If you are gifted in music, someway, somehow, God wants you to use that gift for Him. This of course can be played out by either volunteering in your church’s youth group or by working in a record company. That’s one reason why following God’s will is so exciting—because we are serving Him by doing what we love!

It was with this understanding of God’s will for my life that I was able to seek a direction, based on biblical standards and the gifts God has entrusted to me, to choose a school that I would enjoy and that would challenge me to grow as a disciple of Jesus.

As you face crossroads in your life, remember that it’s not about the color of your car, but about how you use that car to serve God. His will is to see you mature and blossom in your faith through the experiences, challenges, and choices you face.

http://ymiblogging.org/2011/10/god-wills-you-to-have-a-pink-car/

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Marketing 101: Repackaging the Church?

Being a marketing major, I consume a daily variety of news on both traditional media as well as the blogosphere to keep myself abreast with the latest trends.

While clicking through websites one morning, an article from USA Today caught my attention.

To summarize the article: “The $1 billion baby carrot world—hit by the recession after years of growth—is taking on the $18 billion salty snack food industry by trying to beat it at its own hip marketing game” (USA Today). This brings on a whole new meaning to healthy competition (bad joke, I know).

In a nutshell, fifty baby carrot cultivators have joined forces to rebrand their image among the public. Hoping to make baby carrots “groovy”, the new $25 million marketing campaign is targeting lunch boxes.

In their attempts to remain relevant, baby carrots will be available in “cool” school vending machines along side their competition. Three packaging designs have been produced and take on a Doritoesque 1 form.

However, the core product itself did not undergo any change.

In line with the baby carrot industry repackaging campaign, a question came to mind: Does the church need to change to remain culturally relevant?

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not at all suggesting that the gospel of Christ is irrelevant to the culture. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). But what I am saying is that the church’s approach of reaching the new generation with the gospel could be rather unattractive. All the same, we must remember that the core-product, the Word of God, must never be changed.

Take for example a pastor who preaches to his English-speaking congregation in Chinese. The congregation would be frustrated because they couldn’t understand the message. Speaking Chinese to English-only participants would be culturally irrelevant.

Sometimes that’s how we Christians come off to this generation. It’s as if we are speaking a foreign language.

Not knowing the answers myself, let’s start a dialogue. How can we remain relevant in order to reach a culture that so desperately needs Jesus without compromising God’s instructions given in the Bible?

1The brand name of a popular tortilla chips in America.

Water to My Soul

Water to My Soul

By Chaz Oswald, 22, USA

The sun and humidity combined to push the heat index to a blistering 95°F (35°C). Sweat evaporated from my skin like steam off a boiling pot of water. I was exceedingly thirsty by the time I completed my run.

It would be outright stupid to attempt to satisfy my thirst with saltine crackers or soda. If anything, my thirst would only intensify and I would be even more dehydrated. There is only one natural liquid that can satisfy my intense craving for replenishment—water.

In the same sense, we humans have an intense desire to fill the void within us. In seeking to fill the void, we often turn to earthly and perishable objects that temporarily gratify.

We vainly seek to fill our emptiness with items or relationships that “[reach] only the superficial parts of our nature. They are soon spent, and need to be supplied anew as much as if we had never experienced them before, while the deeper wants of our being are not reached by them at all” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

The abyss cannot be filled with a romance, a powerful position of authority, or a well-paying job. What then can quench our thirst for something more?

Jesus answers, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Note that Jesus is not talking about H2O. Jesus is referring to a spiritual thirst quenching water. He is speaking of the Holy Spirit who would be given to everyone believing in Him (John 7:37-39).

One commentary puts it this way: “The indwelling of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of Christ is the secret to this life with all its enduring energies and satisfactions.”

Are you trying to fill the void in your heart with worldly solutions? Stop chasing after the wind and experience true joy by drawing water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3).

Joyful Moments

Joyful Moments

By Chaz Oswald, 22, USA

Nestled beyond curvy turns and tucked between the cornfields, an old farmhouse is exposed to a pleasant breeze that strums the autumn leaves.

A grandfather clock chimes in the room’s corner as evening softly lays a dark blanket over the sky. The fireflies start a twinkling tango beyond the windows.

Grandpa lays another log into the wood-burning stove. Cinders spark. In the kitchen, grandma prepares supper. The sweet aroma of honeyed ham fills the tepid air as a nearby skillet hisses with freshly selected vegetables.

Contagious laughter pleasantly reverberates within the old farmhouse.

This portrait is not merely a savory memory but a reoccurring blessing in my life. The beautiful countryside is where my family often gathers. Like a colossal bear hug, every moment together is eagerly embraced.

Whether it’s the color of a rainbow, the flutter of a snowflake, or the shared laughter with loved ones, life is full of simple pleasures.

Recognized by the psalmist in Psalms 92:4, these blessings are nothing short than the precious and loving acts of our Lord: “You thrill me, Lord, with all You have done for me! I sing for joy because of what You have done.”

So sit back, reminisce, and ponder: what joyful delights can you praise God for?

Burn of Curiosity

 

At seven years old, I could be characterized as a typical young boy. I’m always curious.

One autumn evening, I was enjoying the company of my two best friends. While we were exploring a nearby cornfield, we stumbled upon a smoldering fire pit.

The abandoned fire pit was nearly out and all that remained was the soft glow of the cinders. Noticing a shiny object in the embers, I bent down and pulled out a piece of tin. The point at which I grabbed the metallic object seemed lukewarm at best. Out of sheer inquisitiveness (others would say boyish stupidity), I placed the tin on my forearm.

It was blistering hot! I quickly dropped the tin and what remained was a 2-by-3 inch burn on my forearm. And needless to say, my arm sizzled with pain.

I’m sure you have heard the statement: “If you play with fire, sooner or later you’ll be burned.” Literally, I had been burned. I had failed to realize that the rest of the tin that my fingers had not grasped was placed right in the middle of the heat.

Sin is much like playing with fire. It is an inviting temptress. It lures us to ignore the hazard signs and to walk up to its doorstep. We are tempted to make excuses and reason away the potential harm. We think to ourselves: “No one will know I’m twisting the truth. No one will know I’m viewing Internet pornography. No one will know I had one too many glasses of wine.” So we give in to the lust of the flesh.

However, sin is a deceiver just as I was deceived by the cool edge of the burning tin. In the beginning, sin looks, and may even feel, fun. Sooner or later though, the sin we flirt with will devastatingly sear and destroy whatever lies in its path like a spark to a dry forest.

Though resisting sin’s temptation is never easy, God promises a way out. He said, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13). But the premise is this: Don’t ever think that you are strong enough to resist the snare of sin on your own.

Eugene Peterson paraphrased 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 this way: “ These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”

YOG

 

YOG Closing Ceremony

Amazing lights, dance choreography, music, and spectacular fireworks marked the grand finale of the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) held in Singapore. As customary traditions would have it, the Olympic flag was passed to the next host nation for the 2014 YOG summer games, China.

The closing ceremony began with all 3,600 athletes entering the Marina Bay floating platform. They came in together with no distinction in nations. Instead, they represented the unity of the world as “One Nation.”

The idea of a “one world nation” is not a new concept. Many have strived and are still looking for utopia. As a case-in-point, the late-great John Lennon famously sung these lyrics, “Imagine there’s no countries . . . and the world will live as one.”

The danger is that many who strive after world unity fall prey to the deception that unity means uniformity. Like the notion reverberating in Lennon’s lyrics, the world calls us to shed that which “separates” us such as our religion and national identity to achieve unity.

Biblical unity is much different from that of the World’s. God desires unity. The diversity in the church, not uniformity, only acts to promote oneness.

The body of Christ consists of individual members with diverse functions (1 Corinthians 12:12). When each individual performs their spiritual function, the body comes together in unity as it takes on the same mind, the same love, and the same purpose. This sense of unity goes to the point that, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

This unity was made possible because Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection has given us something common, eternal life. This unity was from the beginning and it existed within the trinity. Now, we are able to be in fellowship with Jesus and His people, the Church.

It may not be a Lennon-type-harmony, but the unity created in the body of Christ, in the words of king David, is indeed “wonderful and pleasant” (Psalm 133:1)!