Unity in Christ Alone

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! – Psalm 133:1

All throughout the New Testament we read about unity in the Body of Christ. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul urges us to walk with humility and gentleness. He tells us to bear with one another and to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. David in Psalm 133 tells about how great it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity. We are called to be one body, one corporate man with Christ as the head. But how can we do this? How can the Body of Christ dwell in unity when we have so many differences?

You and I probably have different tastes in music, sports and even food. We like to spend our time doing different activities and we may even disagree theologically and doctrinally. How can we possibly dwell in unity when our personalities are so different? By setting all those things aside. We cannot do it in our own power. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, even dwell in unity. What do we have to do then to dwell in unity and be a true body? We must make Christ the center and main object of our thought and lives. This means to set aside our interests for our own personal lives. We’re no longer just individuals, we’re one body that stems from one head, that is, Jesus Christ.

If Christ is my all and Christ is your all then do we not have everything in common? True unity in the Body lies in Christ alone, not agreeing on some doctrine or tradition and not being a part of the same movement.

Plans for the Future

Hello and good day to all of you. It has been quite a while since I not only posted anything on here but wrote much at all with this blog in mind. Lately I’ve been taking some time off from blogging. It was an accident at first but it quickly became purposeful. I’ve really just been reading, studying and seeking the Lord. I’ve been learning a lot of awesome stuff from a few books on God’s eternal purpose and the Word. God has just been continuing to reveal Christ in me and in my wife and it’s been awesome.

During this little break from blogging I’ve decided to finally make plans to take this blog off of wordpress.com and move it to my own domain to have my own look and more control of the site. I’m currently designing a new theme for the site using the Genesis Framework, which I use for many of the corporate websites I develop for my day job at A2Z Computer Services. I’m pretty excited about it and I can’t wait to get all of your feedback on the new look when it’s ready to go.

The goal and purpose of the blog will remain the same. That is, I will simply continue sharing what I’ve been learning in the Word and will aim for Christ to be the center in all things. I hope to do more book reviews and start having guest bloggers on the site as well.

The only thing I’m really undecided on is the name of the blog. I love the name “Christ the Center” and it definitely fits the purpose of the blog perfectly but I’m considering changing the name. I don’t know. I suppose we’ll see what happens. I’m too indecisive sometimes.

As of right now I don’t have an exact timeline for when the new site will be up and when I’ll begin blogging again. I’m hoping that it will be sometime this Fall. I’ll keep you updated. Lastly, thank you to everyone who keeps up with my blog, gets in on the conversation and passes the posts around online. I hope that you see a glimpse of Christ on this site and nothing less.

Update 9/20/11

I have decided to continue blogging during this transition.

Stirring Up One Another

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25

How good are at this? In our individualistic society and a Christianity that tends to push the term “personal Savior” rather than focusing on the Body as whole, I would say most of us aren’t very good at this. I know that I’m not. I feel like I use to be but since God started teaching so much truth about Christ’s true centrality, church life and God’s eternal purpose there’s been more study than experience over the last two years. Don’t get me wrong. There’s been experience and there’s been Body life but overall I see that what the writer in Hebrews 10:24 states is an area in which I now find myself lacking.

Encouragement and stirring one another up goes hand in hand with meeting together. These people are even instructed to do this more and more as time goes on. Does getting together once a week, whether in a church service or in a house church meeting accomplish this? No. It’s not enough. The only way to truly accomplish this is to become part of each others’ lives, a true family. To share meals together, watch movies together, pray together, study the Bible together and encourage one in another in all of this daily.

So let us consider ways to stir one another to love and good works. Let us show one another the portion of Christ in us so that we may all grow in the knowledge of Him. And most importantly, let us seek God together and discover ways that allow us to do this more and more as time goes on.

How do you and others that you’re close with stir each other up in Christ regularly?

Rethinking How We View Hardships, Struggles and Challenges

I saw the following post this afternoon from Leonard Sweet on Google+:

19th century British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace tells of observing several cocoons, waiting for the moths to come out. One of the larger moths was beating desperately with its yet undeveloped wings to break out of the cocoon. After several hours, Wallace could not bear to watch anymore. so with a sharp knife he split the cocoon, freeing the moth from its desperate struggle. In the ensuing days, however, as he observed this moth, he discovered that it was not developing naturally. Missing were the beautiful tints and shades of color that should have come into its wings. The wings’ growth seemed stunted, underdeveloped, and in a few days the moth died, long before its time. Wallace discovered that his compassion was actually cruelty, since the struggle against the cocoon was nature’s way of strengthening and developing the moth’s wings so it could fly.

Wow. What a perspective on how we view hardships, struggles and challenges. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for certain hardships to pass quickly to save myself some frustration. I wonder how much more I could mature in Christ if I embraced these times of difficulty and allowed God’s will to be accomplished without putting up a fight or taking the easy way out. Rest assured, the crucified life in not an easy one. Following Christ is a rough, bumpy road that’s full of potholes. Let us submit our anxieties to the Lord and leave them in His hands rather than getting impatient and picking them back up again.

What are you thoughts on the above passage?

A Pearl And A Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:35-36

In this conversation that Jesus is having with His disciples, He is explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. In other areas of the Bible, The Kingdom of Heaven is referred to as the Kingdom of God. Both of these phrases refer to the reign of God. I was reading these verses, trying to find some understanding to them the other day. After some discussion, prayer, re-reading and looking at another blog post, which unfortunately I can’t remember the source right now, my eyes were opened to something I had never seen here before

These two men went off and sold everything they had for these treasures and, which means that they were refocusing their lives around something new. Both recognized the great worth in these treasures. These items were worth more to them than everything else they owned. They were worth more than everything in this world that defined them. It doesn’t even seem like they hesitated or weighed the options in making this decision. The answer was simply too obvious.

The Kingdom of Heaven, the ultimate reign and supremacy of God, is greater than everything else that exists in our lives. What these parables tell us is that the reign of God, the eternal purpose that’s in Christ, is something that is worth centering our entire lives around. It’s worth forsaking everything we know, own and do. I don’t believe we necessarily have to sell everything we own to recognize and experience the life of Christ, although I do believe there are times and situations where God has His people do this. What I’m saying is that the Kingdom of God is greater than my little kingdom that I’m building with my job, home, talents, etc. Jesus Christ cannot be just some part of our lives. He IS our life. The Kingdom of God is not just some far off reality that we’ll experience when we die and go to Heaven. The reign of God is among us and it’s something that we not only experience for ourselves here and now, but we are also agents of the Kingdom, bringing it to others as Christ is living in and through us.

We need to recenter our lives around Christ everyday. Regardless of our daily to-dos, He must be the center, focus and source of all life. Though this may be a challenge sometimes, it’s not impossible. So let’s sell all we have in order to purchase something of greater worth. Let’s forsake our lives in order to know a greater life. That greater life is Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. The reign of God is worth more than we can give up. It’s all or nothing.

Having the Mind of Selfessness

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 interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 23-7

There was a time, a few years ago, when I would read the second chapter of Philippians almost everyday. I also encouraged others to read this everyday, first thing in the morning, to always have the humility of Jesus fresh in our minds and hearts. It’s been a while since I’ve read this, although today I opened my Bible back to this passage and began to prayerfully think it over.

Billboards and commercials tell me everyday that it’s all about me. That I should do this for myself and that for myself and I can live a happy life. Well, they’re wrong. This mindset they’re trying to sell me is poisonous and it’s an epidemic in much of our society. The truth is that I’m not good enough and these cars, meals, vacations and all the other deals of the day can’t change that fact.If my life is spent serving and working for myself then I will die regretting every day that I lived.

So how do we keep from living a self-centered life? Only by Christ living in and through us. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ. In his letter to Philippians, Paul says to have this mind of selflessness, of seeing others as better than ourselves. He also states that this mind is ours in Christ Jesus. As with everything else in this Christian life, we have nothing apart from Christ. He is our example and our life source. We follow His lead because of His life that He brings us into.

This life of of seeing others as more important than ourselves can really be a battle in a world that’s always looking out for “number one.” But be encouraged, knowing that it’s not impossible if we are in Christ, because we have His mind and His mind is humble.

Your Word Is A Lamp

Good morning blog readers. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here, which unfortunately happens pretty often. But this morning I wanted to put a little something out so that you guys know what’s up. My wife and I have been crazy busy the past couple of weeks. We’ve been getting ready to move and with so much other stuff going on I just haven’t had the time to blog as I’d like. Sorry about that, although I know that there are a ton of great bloggers out there that can write much better than me 🙂

I will say this: I hope that you are all growing in the Lord and seeing Christ as the true center in all of life. Yesterday I was meditating on Psalm 119:105 where David writes “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” After a while of thinking about how important the Word is for us to go on, I was brought to considering how important Christ Himself is in order for us to go on. This of course brought me to the beginning of John where it’s stated that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The Word that John is referring to, of course, is Jesus Christ.

After tweeting this verse, I received this reply from a brother in Christ whom I always find encouraging online:

This confirms, yet again, Christ’s centrality and supremacy. He not only leads us, but He also dwells inside of us and allows us to live from His very life. He lights our path and directs our ways. The Holy Spirit nudges us when we seem to have lost our way or have become blind in some area. Christ not only reveals truth, He is the Truth. He shows us the way by showing us Himself. Jesus Christ Himself is the way.

This was really encouraging to me yesterday in the midst of some of the positive chaos going on with our move and I hope that it can do the same for you. Jesus Christ and His riches are truly vast and extensive.

Boston Bruins Win the Stanley Cup

I’ve posted quite a few new blogs this week, more than I have I have recently. My posts have also been really different than they usually are, but don’t worry, the main focus of this blog will always remain the same. For example, I usually just post articles but yesterday I posted a music video along with some lyrics for In Exile by Thrice. Today is going to be another odd post for this blog, it’s about my favorite hockey team, the Boston Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup last night!

I became a hockey fan about 4 years ago during the 2007 – 2008 season. Before the season had started I fell in love with hockey and decided that I was going to be a Bruins fan after doing some research and looking back at history. Boston has such a rich hockey tradition and I wanted to be part of that, win or lose. I’m not really a fan of any other Massachusetts teams. I haven’t followed the NBA since the days of Michael Jordan in Chicago so I wouldn’t consider myself a Celtics fan. I don’t care for baseball, although if I did I would probably be a Red Sox fan. And as a Minnesota Vikings fan, I don’t cheer on the New England Patriots.

There’s a lot of reasons why Boston winning the Stanley Cup this year is so special and important for me. Number one is obviously that my wife and I are simply huge Bruins fans. Another of course is that Boston hasn’t won a Championship since 1972…it’s been a long time coming and I believe all my fellow Bruins fans as well as the city of Boston truly deserves this. This was Mark Recchi’s last NHL game ever and his third Stanley Cup championship, what a way to go out. Tim Thomas is simply an incredible goalie, the MVP, potential Vezina Trophy winner and a true gentleman. Nathan Horton was injured in game 3 of the series and Marc Savard was already out due to an injury. The list could go on but I simply don’t have enough time to keep writing it. Another, more personal reason why this is so important to me is because since Jordan was with the Bulls, a favorite sports team of mine has never won a championship while I’ve been a fan. Although it’s nothing that I want to dwell on too long or idolize, it’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Because my wife and I don’t have cable at home, we had to watch much of the playoffs at my parents’ house. They too watched with us and I’m pretty sure we made my mom, who is not a sports person at all, a hockey fan. They even watched the last few games of this final series when we weren’t there because we were able to watch them at home on NBC. As the players were celebrating we received a phone call from my mom, who was excited that Boston had just won and wanted to see how excited we were.

And so another hockey season has come and gone and for a short while we Bruins fans will enjoy being at the top of the NHL. Before long we’ll be seeing new players picked up in the draft and current players changing teams. In a few shorts months the excitement and the long journey will start all over and once again we’ll be cheering on our favorite teams as they pursue the opportunity to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup.

In Exile by Thrice

I don’t usually post videos and songs on here, but this is a favorite of mine. In my opinion, Thrice is one of the best bands around right now and they have been for years. This song perfectly describes our awkward place in this world, how we’re longing for our true home and wandering this earth for just a while, without getting too comfortable, until we’re with Christ in eternity. Check out the video and the lyrics below and I also encourage check out some more of Thrice’s stuff if you never have.

I am an exile – a sojourner; A citizen of some other place.
All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror,
But I know one day I’ll see face to face.

I am a nomad – a wanderer; I have nowhere to lay my head down.
There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on.
I’m not settling for this unsettling town.

My heart is filled with songs of forever –
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don’t belong here; I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.

I am a pilgrim – a voyager; I won’t rest until my lips touch the shore –
Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived,
Where there’ll be no pain or tears anymore.

Are We Too Connected?

We live in digital and technology-driven age. This is obvious considering that rather than reading this as a printed article or pamphlet, you’re currently reading this post on a computer, smart phone, tablet or maybe even your TV. Technology is everywhere and some even say that technology is actually making us dumber and that human evolution is reversing. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on our technology-driven lives and why it’s important to intentionally unplug.

I would like to say that I’m very grateful for technology. I love it. I love my iPhone, my iPad and my Mac that sits in my office at work. As a web designer, I wouldn’t even have a job if it wasn’t for technology. Computers, phones, apps and social media are all very useful in our lives. However, there is one question that we need to ask ourselves…

Are we too connected?

We have the ability to be in constant conversation with people all around the world and right down the street through texting, Twitter, Facebook and the other countless social networking outlets. It really is great. We can have our questions answered at any given time and we can also encourage one another instantly with a thought or verse. The trouble though is that we can also neglect the face to face fellowship we’re having with one another by interrupting a conversation to reply to a Tweet. This is where our connectedness can affect and even harm true human interaction. We can be with people in person but yet be miles away as we sit in silence fumbling through our phones. We should make it a point to ignore our phones, tablets and computers so that we can have true interaction with our brothers and sisters. To put it bluntly, we’ve become enslaved by our phones and computers.

Our face to face fellowship with people isn’t the only area of our lives that can suffer. As a follower of Christ, it’s in our new nature to desire Jesus. Because of Christ in us we pray and spend time intentionally seeking God one on one and apart from distractions. I don’t know if we’re simply afraid to be alone or what exactly the problem is, but we’ve lost the art of being alone. Being by ourselves with the Lord is something that Jesus spoke of in word and in action. He would frequently leave His disciples and crowds to go off by Himself and pray. Jesus even said that when we pray we should get alone in a closet. It’s clear that being alone with God is important. This is a practice that we have to retrieve if we hope to be able to encourage and build up each other and if we hope to simply know Christ deeper. For this, we have to learn to how to unplug.

The point is this: Being connected to loved ones is great. There’s a handful of people who I consider real brothers in Christ that I have only conversed with through this blog and on Twitter. I appreciate it all and thoroughly believe that God uses technology. We have to be careful, though, so that we don’t get distracted from God and authentic fellowship with our brothers and sisters.

This is something that I’ve dealt with and am still dealing with now. I’m a Twitter addict. I don’t care about Facebook as much but I’ve spent lots of time Tweeting and scrolling through my feed on my phone. We need to learn that it’s ok to have unread emails, messages and tweets. We need to begin intentionally unplugging and recover the lost art of being alone with God and being with people.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?