Monday, February 25, 2013

Shot Across The Bow

I desire for all of us here at Awake Church to be incredibly encouraged and firmly established in our faith.  As we endeavor to help facilitate you being built up and strengthened, I recognize that another aspect of maturity includes receiving correction, discipline and warnings as well.  In this blog, I want to share something that I feel is a help from God in the form of a warning - a warning for the world, but also for us as believers.

Last Friday (2/15/2013) while astronomers and scientists were awaiting the unusual event of an asteroid named “2012 DA14” that was to fly very close to the earth, something even stranger happened.  A undetected meteor from a different direction actually slammed into our atmosphere at around 35,000 miles per hour, exploding with a force 20 times larger than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.  The shock wave from this meteor exploding 30 miles above the surface of the earth damaged numerous buildings and injured over a thousand people. Astonishingly, no one was killed.  It’s been 105 years since an event like this has taken place on the earth.

Then, several hours later, the anticipated asteroid did shoot past the earth at 17,000 miles per hour. No harm done.  It had been a generation since that large of an asteroid had come so close to us - a narrow miss.

Scientists have calculated that the odds of an asteroid shooting by us along with a meteor hitting us on the same day is 1 out of 100,000,000 days. Since there have only been about 2.2 million days since Adam and Eve were walking around on the planet, the February 15th events were indeed rare.

After these events, I asked the Lord what this meant, and internally heard this:  “It’s a shot across the bow.”  A “shot across the bow” is a military term where a ship fires a warning shot over the bow of an opposing vessel that is headed in the wrong direction or is on a dangerous course.  The shot is not intended to harm, just as the asteroid did no harm but sailed right by us several times faster than a bullet.  A “shot across the bow” is a warning and message that if the current course doesn’t change, there are consequences coming. 
Over the past several months I’ve had a growing concern for our nation regarding blatant sexual immorality, and I believe that this warning “shot” is related to this.  With the very public and open proliferation of sexual sin - internet pornography ($97 billion a year business), homosexuality, adultery, perversion and all manner of sex outside of marriage, our world is like a ship unashamedly heading in a dangerous direction.   Sensuality in our culture is at a dangerously high level.  The word given to Isaiah was “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;” (Is 5:20).  When things that are evil (like sexual acts outside of marriage) are called “good” and widely promoted, and good things like having moral standards are called “evil” or “hate,” we have clearly entered dangerous waters. 

 In the 3rd century, the Romans held a festival called “Lupercalla” on February 15th (same day), which was a bizarre ceremony where bloody strips of animal hide were slapped upon young women, followed by the young men drawing from a raffle, choosing the name of a teenage girl to have sex with for the next several months.  Later, this sexual festival was moved up a day and called “Valentine’s day,” mixing a pagan festival with the name of a good Christian man named “Valentine.”

While I believe that this “shot across the bow” is a warning for billions on the earth, 1 Peter 4:17 says that judgment first begins with those who know God.  So, I believe that this is a wake up call for the body of Christ before anyone else. 

In Paul’s letters to several churches, he repeatedly warned against immorality.  In Jesus’s messages to the churches in the book of Revelation (Rev 1-3), He also makes it clear that He hates the sexually immorality practiced by the Nicolaitans, saying that there were consequences if repentance didn’t follow the warning.  In the book of Hebrews we are also warned not to “trample underfoot the Son of God,” or “insult the Spirit of grace.”  This is very strong language with appalling metaphors.  These metaphors highlight the seriousness of cooperation with sin that the Son of man excruciatingly paid for.  The grace of God does not grant permission to participate in sin, but rather to free us from it’s grip on our lives.

As the light of the world, it’s crucial that we extricate ourselves from all manner of sexual immorality in both physical action (immorality of all kinds – adultery, fornication, etc.) and in our thoughts (impurity - fantasy/pornography).   Repentance is a beautiful thing, and it’s not for God - it’s for us.  If we hear a warning from God and take ownership of our sin, shove that sin in the light and then turn toward Jesus, the consequences that we rightly deserve are nullified!  Repentance is a gift from a loving Father and a generous Son.     

The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and we are not destined for wrath (1 Thes 5:9).  However, if we purposely continue to involve ourselves in sexual immorality, we are placing ourselves on a dangerous path with consequences we may not be able to comprehend.   

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be
named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be
no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not
fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with
certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man,
who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ 
and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because
of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of
disobedience” Eph 5:3-8

- Matt Peterson

(To hear an expanded message on this topic, please visit the podcasts for 2/17/2013 and 2/24/2013 on the website).  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Comfort Foods

The long battle with contact lenses and eyeglass prescriptions finally became more than I wanted to endure, and the thought of perfect eyesight won me over. I decided to receive corrective eye surgery. Prior to the operation, my doctor realized that due to some imbalanced surface area on my eyes, it would be better for me to opt for a safer surgery that required less risk, but a longer recovery time. 

Well, the recovery time was certainly understated and I spent five days in bed after the operation, desperately trying to avoid any contact with sunlight! Thoughts like “what in the world have I done?” raced through my mind, as my wounded eyes scanned my blurry room, hoping that at any moment the world would come into focus again and all this would be over! Compared to what I was feeling at the time, this is actually very moderately dramatized. 

As many of us have when going through an ailment or nursing an injury back to health, I resorted to... comfort food! Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t cling to Psalm 23 or a “coffee cup chapter” of the Bible. Instead, I consumed more ice cream in those five days than all of 2012 combined! For the first time in my life, I had Pizza Hut deliver a pizza to my house. I don’t even really like pizza. I ate chinese food, graham crackers and... well, you get the point! 

The reason I’m writing this is not to talk about what we run to for comfort in times of pain or trouble. Even though we could certainly go there and find truth, my purpose in writing is not blatantly spiritual. What I noticed after five days of eating “comfort foods” that I don’t normally eat is that I had pains and aches that I had never experienced before. I was lacking energy, felt lethargic and, well... I just felt sick. As a person with a pretty clean and healthy diet, I was shocked at how only five days of eating those foods could make me feel so incredibly different. 

My goal is to write a very practical blog that will be an encouragement for us as a church, to take some ground this year, not only spiritually but also physically. Without a doubt, there are lots of us new year “resolutioners” out there that have set some physical goals for 2013. As January has come to an end and motivation may be wearing thin, be encouraged and stick to it! Maybe you have been defeated in this area for years and the thought of getting healthy is overwhelming to you. My prayer is that right now you’d feel God’s presence empowering you and strengthening you in this very moment to make a decision that will change your life and your health.

Our physical bodies are the very temples of the Holy Spirit! It’s so important that we take care of them. The road to healthy living starts with one step in that direction. Much like our spiritual lives, if we step off course, we must receive grace and get back on the path. Condemnation, guilt and perfectionism keep us defeated and “stuck.” 

I’m no expert, but here are a few tips that were helpful to me, and hopefully will be for you!

  • Hydrate! - Water, water water! My trainer told me that staying hydrated and drinking lots of water is more important than diet or exercise! Aim for a minimum of 64oz a day, or more if you have hard workouts

  • Set attainable goals! - something that will take hard work but is reasonable to accomplish within 30 days. After reaching your goal, let that feeling of accomplishment drive you towards your next goal!

  • Get a plan and stick to it! Talk to a friend that knows a lot about healthy living and ask them to help you customize a diet that works for you and a workout program that can be maintained with consistency. 

  • Buy a blender! Smoothies and healthy shakes are an amazing way to mix in vitamins and healthy greens that you wouldn’t normally eat

  • Recruit a friend! - ask someone to join you on your journey and do it together. It will be more enjoyable and you’ll have someone to help push you further.

  • Take advantage of free resources! There are tons of free resources and subscriptions if you search the web. Twitter is a way to follow daily posts for new healthy recipes and fitness ideas. Be creative!

What if we went after this together as a church? Anyone up for the challenge?!?