Monday, May 28, 2012

Bottled water for your thirst...

Recently, my family switched to Dasani water for our bottled water consumption for its fresh taste (and support of our home town bottling company ;) ).  A by-product of this move is our sensitivity to low quality water.  One day, I pulled a bottle from our fridge, and as soon as I tasted the water, I knew something was not right.  My first reaction was that the water was bad coming out of the factory but then I noticed that the caps were not sealed, and I investigated until I ran into a certain young lady who proudly admitted that she was the cause. In an effort to be helpful when we ran out of water, my 11 year old daughter filled some used Dasani bottles with tap water and inserted them back into the fridge.

I imagine that if we drank the water long enough we would get used to the taste and even perhaps begin to like it, but would it be the same?  Would trading the pure high quality filtered water be the same as the unfiltered tap from the sink?  This reminds me of Jesus' life and his promise of "living water" and I offer the following in reflection:

#1. Never ending water.  Jesus' water never empties like a bottle of Dasani that also leaves us thirsty not long after drinking. Jesus states in John 4, "13 ... Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   

#2. Fresh pure water. I would encourage you to know your source of water -- is it tap from the sink filled by an innocent well meaning person or pure and fresh water from the Bottler? Jesus states in John 7, "37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'"

#3. Sealed for redemption. Finally, we need to ensure that we are "sealed" with pure high quality water. John 7:39 states, "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive."  Giving your life to Christ ensures that you are sealed with the living water of the Holy Spirit.  Pure water that never dries up.

It is my hope that in reading this article you would become sensitive to the water that Jesus has to offer, and when tap water is introduced into your life that you would thirst for something pure.  If you have Jesus, and yet have filled your life with the tap water that comes from the world, it would be my prayer that you would consider Jesus' promise that His water flows from the Spirit and is never ending and can fill you again.  If you have a life without Jesus, please understand your life if filled with tap water which is unfiltered and dirty.  It may seem the same; after all it is water, but is it the same?  If you have yet to experience the pure water of the Holy Spirit, it would be my prayer that you would humbly seek Jesus invitation found in Revelation 22:17b, "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."

Remember, tap water is used to clean dishes, wash dogs and clean floors, and it is thrown out when its use is done.  Bolted water quenches when you are thirsty, fills when dehydrated and satisfies when consumed. Pure water gives life!
May the Lord Jesus, the Eternal Water, bless the reading of this message,

~Jason Furtak~

Friday, May 25, 2012

Not my proudest day...

Do you ever have those moments in life that cause you to reevaluate how you're living?  Well, I had one of those moments on yesterday.  At first glance, it may seem simple.  One even may let me off of the hook given the situation and human's propensity to make mistakes, and on the grand scheme of things it's magnitude may seem microcosmical to the average person.  It is important to understand that this is an inner turmoil for which I'm loosing sleep, and this in most cases is a prompting from the Lord.

By way of background, my son is 9 years old and plays baseball.  I have been enthusiastic with his participation as any parent would be.  I have been supportive in his practices and have found time on occasion to assist him with one-on-one work.  My son's team made it to the final 3 in a recent post season tournament.  Joshua contributed to these wins by performing exceptionally well as catcher, and during one post season game, placing bat on ball and driving home a game winning RBI.  During last evening's game, I had one of those moments where I became "that parent" and came down on my son after he sat motionless at the plate while each ball came by.  "Strike one...", "strike two...", "strike three... you're out!".  "Joshua!", I exclaimed. "You've got to swing at those balls son!  Why did you just sit there? Don't you understand the importance of this game?"  In my frustration, I kept at it until I saw a well spring of tears build up in his eyes.  He fought the tears but my onslaught was relentless.  You have to understand, my son is one of the kindest young boys you'll ever meet.  It's this kind heart that makes sports a challenge at times.  He enjoys playing sports because he enjoys playing sports.  He doesn't have the eye of the tiger but in all honesty he plays the game like it probably should be; for fun and the enjoyment of it.  Don't get me wrong, he enjoys the competition and works hard but he's not a fierce competitor.  To see my kind boy crying because of the one hero he has in his life was disappointed in his performance got to the core of my being.  I pulled Joshua out of the dug-out and gave him a big hug and apologized but at that moment the damage was already done.  What kind of coward berates his son for something simple and then follows up his guilt with a hug?  I was honestly remorseful, and if I could, I would trade this experience for relentless punishment in order to remove the hurt that I placed on young Joshua's heart.  I tried to make it up by being supportive at the next at bat but I could tell it was too little too late.  After the game I spoke to Joshua about my frustration and begged his forgiveness.  With loving eyes he returned a glance, his eyes teared up a bit more and gave me a hug.  "That's ok, daddy..."  Wow, what do you do with that?  These are the words I wanted to hear, and yet, they provided little comfort because I understood the long term ramifications of the damage I had done and the guilt on my heart was made that much heavier.

So, what do I do with this?  As any Christian should do, I have confessed my sin; and God promises forgiveness. [1]  With forgiveness from my son and forgiveness from my Lord, I have to evaluate where I stand.  It would be easy to rest in my blessed assurance but my soul is stirred with something deeper.  Something that needs change.  The beautiful thing about this walk with Christ is my ongoing sanctification, the transformation of my inner person into the image of Christ by Christ's Spirit, despite my shortcomings. As I reflect on the Scriptures in James 3, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."; I have come to the realization that at the core of my experience last evening is the tongue that is untamed as James points out.  I have to ask these same questions that James is asking here.  Can I praise the Lord and curse my son with the same tongue?  As these are meant to be answered with a resounding "no", I to have hold fast to these questions and reflect.  Luckily, the Lord provides a response through James who doesn't stop there and provides for my answer to my question at the end of chapter 3, "13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom...17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." This is my opportunity to do my part in sanctification by working on these lofty qualities as James has noted, in order that in the future should another opportunity arise like last evening, I sow in Joshua a harvest of righteousness full of encouragement.

May God be blessed by the sharing of this confession,

~Jason Furtak~

[1] "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Marriage: To Serve and to Protect...

Day 12: Genesis 3:1-8

As a husband who loves his wife dearly, I think one of the most striking things about this story about the fall of man, is how disengaged Adam was with the activities of his wife, Eve. I have to ask myself the following questions: Where was Adam when his wife was engaged with the serpent and why wasn't he there to encourage her not to sin? Why didn't he insist on doing what was right for the sake of both of them, rather than succumbing to the temptation of sin by eating the forbidden fruit? Why didn't he understand that he was one with his wife and accountable to look after her? As a matter of fact, take a look at Adam's weak response to God in verse 12, "The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.'” Adam, Eve was much more than the woman that God put there with you. She was your wife, bonded to you as "one flesh" and your responsibility to take care of and to love as your own body.

It's a reminder to spouses that our actions and activities affect both parties in a marital relationship. Since God makes married couples "one-flesh" it only stands to reason that a sin that is committed by one adversely affects the other. Additionally, husbands have the God given responsibility of taking care of their spouses. Genesis chapter 3 is also a reminder to us men that when something like this happens, God looks to us men for an answer. Ephesians 5: 28-30 affirms, "28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body."

I also believe that God expects us to know and understand what our spouses are involved with. We in turn need to love them enough to encourage them not to sin and be accountable to God for when they do sin to then humble ourselves before God, seek forgiveness together and seek to restore our spouses back for the sake of the "oneness". (either husband or wife)

Lastly, we need to know that Satan is crafty and seeks to destroy what God has created in our marriage. It is vitally important that we understand and anticipate the risk and understand that our enemy and his advances are real. He will seek to destroy ones marriage and couples need to be vigilant to this ever present threat.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sunday Service.... as comfortable as going to work

This past Sunday while attending services it came to me; "I attend church as naturally as I get up in the morning for work." I was filled with joy with the sudden realization that I came to church on that morning without thinking twice. The difference between work and church is that I'm attending church not out of some obligation or religious ritual, but rather attending something that I enjoy doing and it wasn't difficult or a burden. In the past, I had this burden to attend church and if I didn't then I felt guilty as if I missed some type of merit in heaven. I have found myself in a place where I thorough enjoy attending church and various church activities throughout the week; and it's not out of obligation but out of a sense of enjoyment and pleasure. If I miss a service now, I feel the loss for missing what I enjoy versus the guilt associated with an obligation. It's a great place to be when I enjoy the presence of the Lord and the brothers and sisters the Lord has brought me to fellowship with.


How important are you to God?

Day 11: Psalm 8 (Genesis1-2)

Yes Mr. Fields, I would be glad to name three things I'm thankful for as blessings from God: the free gift of salvation, the love and devotion of a beautiful wife and wonderful children.

While I appreciate the fact that this is a song of praise, David is noting truths about God that may not be so easily recognized in today's culture. God is noted as using the simple things, like the mouths of babes, to garner praise and "establish stronghold's" against His enemies. In our weakness He is strong. In the simple things of this life, God is magnified. Additionally, at a time when animals are held in higher regard than man, or at least at the same level, this Psalm speaks to me at a level that appreciates the fact that God has placed special value in mankind over all of creation. We are God's special creation created in His image and set to oversee the world and the rest of creation that has been set at our feet. These are simple truths. "LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" Thank you for loving us this much.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Oneness as Modeled by God in our Marriage...

Day 10: Genesis 2:7, 15-18, 21-25

Fields points out in today's devotional that at the core of God creating Adam and Eve is the idea that they became "one flesh" (by way of sexual relations as noted in the side bar of this devotion). While this design and model for marriage is important, I also saw another deeper relational model being developed in this concept. The deeper model is the relationship that is made that represents the type of "oneness" experienced in the spirit with God with each of us. In other words, we are united as one with our spouses, and in this way our marriage models a oneness relationship that is representative of the oneness we experience with God in the Spirit.

God provides for us various models in our lives that are representative of His nature; and God reveals attributes through these models that give us a glimpse of who He is. God is one with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He unites to us through the spirit in oneness when we accept His free gift of salvation. Our marriages are important because we become "one flesh" with our spouses (man and woman), and at the same time model a nature of God which He represented to us from the beginning when scripture states in Genesis 1:27, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Part of being created in God's image is being united in marriage and in "oneness", and in this small way,we get a glimpse of the nature of God and His "oneness".


Side note: This definition of marriage as one male and one female becoming one flesh is not simply some religious agenda to suppress people's sexual preference but rather a fundamental truth at the core of who God is. Marriage as defined in Genesis chapter 1 and supported in the New Testament, represents an attribute of who God is and our relationship to God as being created in His likeness. The proper definition of marriage properly sets forth a right understanding of God's image to man; His representative to mankind.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

In the Beginning was the Word...

Day 1: Genesis 1:1-2 (John 1:1-5)

I think we often forget John chapter 1 is a creation story that is in line with Genesis chapter 1. Whenever I teach on the subject of creation based apologetics (and my favorite apologetic creation theory being the cosmological argument) I teach not only the creation facts as found in Genesis but also those established in John chapter 1.

I have to disagree with Mr. Fields on his assessment that there are no quick and easy answers to the evolution/creation debate. On the contrary, I think the answers are as simple as they can be; and answered in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. "In the beginning God created..." and "In the beginning was the Word...". How much more simpler can this be? Man comes along makes the debate complex by removing God and creating a fruitless debate. Make no mistake, the debate is important and the beachhead to establish since we're speaking about the foundations of the Bible and the foundations of the Gospel message both at the same time, however, let us not allow the world or our own faith and practices over complicate the simple truth as stated in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. If someone in science or other humanistic endeavor is willing to remove the core foundations of our faith, the Bible or the Gospel message, then the discussion need to go no further. Let us also not be ignorant, however, in providing the answers that the world around us needs to hear (1 Peter 3:15). As it relates to the complex evolution/creation debate, we keep God in the creation discussion because it's properly basic. "In the beginning God created..." "In the beginning, the Word became flesh..."