November 26, 2010

Why Do You Exist Here?

Filed under: Pressing Toward the Mark — Katryna Starks @ 10:46 pm

by Katryna Starks

A few years ago, I watched a brand new sci-fi show called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The show featured a space crew who went around responding to intergalactic incidents. In the premier episode, the crew encountered an empty ship in space. When they boarded the ship to investigate, they realized that they were not alone. Mysterious aliens were on the ship. They were made of light, and they communicated in both words and pictures. The crew was on the ship for several days, and periodically they would seize captain Sisko’s mind and replay the moment his wife was killed. Eventually, the crew figured out how to communicate with the aliens. The first thing captain Sisko asked the aliens was “why do you keep torturing me?” but they answered him with a question of their own, “why do you exist here?” The aliens informed that they were not bringing Sisko the image of his wife’s death, he was taking them to it. Although his physical life had moved forward, mentally and spiritually, he never left the moment his wife died. He existed there.

Like captain Sisko, we can exist at some painful point in our past, stuck and unable to move on. God lovingly comes and takes us back to those times, not to torture us, but to heal us. There are several times in the Bible where someone will have a strong desire for something and pray to God for it. Sometimes they will have a promise from God that doesn’t happen for a long time. The wait is painful. But these times are always followed by a wonderful phrase. “And God remembered . . .” God remembered Noah, Sarah, Rachel and Joseph. He lifted them out of their pain, blessed them and helped them move on.

I have an example of this from my own life. My parents divorced when I was seven years old and at first it was amicable, but later it turned ugly. In those years, every time I needed something, it would be the catalyst for my parents to argue. When I was 14, I stopped telling them my needs and my grades dropped. When I was 16, I wondered why they continued to speak to each other when they weren’t married anymore. Then I realized. It was me. I was the only connection they had to one another. I was the reason they fought. If I didn’t exist, they would be free. Mercifully, God reminded me that I would be an adult and away at college shortly, and that would also free them from any obligation to communicate. That was 20 years ago. Still, last year I thought of that situation, and the pain was as fresh as if it all happened yesterday.

Recently, I was on Facebook and I noticed that my cousins were encouraging one another in the Lord. The thing is, they are not directly related to one another. One is my mother’s niece, and the other is my father’s nephew. They are both musicians, and they were talking about a worship concert that he was in and she attended, and another performance where she took the stage and he was in the audience. They called each other cousins. And then it hit me. I am the only connection they have to one another. I am the reason they are family. If I didn’t exist, they wouldn’t necessarily know each other. Through that incident, God healed the pain I felt for tying my parents to each other. I realized that God had a greater purpose for my existence, and it wasn’t to cause others pain.

In our pain, we can be assured that God will remember us, too. When we start being reminded of painful events in our past, sometimes that is a sign that God is coming to heal, restore, and bless.

October 16, 2010

The Emmaus Journal – The Ultimate Formula

Filed under: Pressing Toward the Mark — Katryna Starks @ 11:36 am

by C.L. Mareydt

Seeking knowledge has become a never ending process. Seeking the ultimate formula that will give us the life we want. That perfect set of rules that will provide everything, from prosperity to prayers. Just find that ultimate formula!

Can you picture the Disciples of Jesus Christ sitting around in the evening and talking together? I imagine, as I picture this scenario, that some Disciples might have been brighter and actually smarter than some of the other Disciples. I can also imagine some of the Disciples were more devoted to Jesus and their calling, than some of the others. I know some of their conversations had to be similar to what we even hear in this day and age, among the Disciples of Jesus Christ right now!

There are a few recorded conversations of the Disciples, some with Jesus present, of which we can read about in the Gospels. Often, I hear the remarks of Jesus within certain of these conversations directing the Disciples into a spiritual dicipline of descernment, above the human level of their own knowledge, their own presumptions and human judgements. We can read about how the Disciples were anxious to find out which one of them would be sitting next to Jesus when he would set up his kingdom and throne. Many debates must have touched off some real sparks that inflated their ego’s and pride, discussing who was the best Disciple of Jesus Christ or the most beloved. Arguments of how and when Jesus would crown himself King, how he would overthrow the politics and government of the day, how he would rule and reign, what kind of power platform would he govern from and how he would use each one of them in the process.

They all postively knew Jesus had a special knowledge, that not only, did they not possess, but no one else in that day possessed either! The Disciples did know and personally witness that the knowledge that issued forth from Jesus Christ was beyond there own. Constantly, hearing and seeing Jesus speak and minister from a knowledge that was far removed from any human worldly element; watching as miracles and wonders were demonstrated in simplicity and love toward all mankind.

Each Disciple must have tried to tap into Jesus’s knowlege in their own way. Some by memorizing everything they could, some by experience and trial, some by a rehearsed copying of what they heard. Each trying to duplicate what Jesus was was doing. Trying to tap into that knowledge formula so that they could then minister themselves. But, each found out in their own way, that to make a formula out of the knowledge of Jesus was impossible!

In our present day and age knowledge has increased, just as the Bible foretold. Today we have a society that constantly seeks after knowledge. A knowledge that can be bought and sold in every commercialized arena imagined. Seeking the ultimate formula in knowledge that will put them over the top, be it in business ventures, or in investments and money management, to politics and education, reaching into the mental strategies within our homes and even our religious institutions. The philosophy of self help knowledge at whatever cost has infiltrated our very homefronts and engrossed our society within a monumental consumeristic binge for more knowledge.

Knowledge for the sake of knowledge without a solid and useful purpose, other than to make more money to support more of our indigenous needs, succinctly seems to produces less and less! Knowledge has become its own idol! It is being worshipped by millions everyday. We have more available knowledge within the 21st century than can be successfully used. Yet it seems we are producing only more of the same, but with less people. There is quickly becoming a larger and larger portion of our population that is falling through the cracks of this great cosmos of knowledge. The advancements within our ingenious hybrid society seem to be in the process of purging out the past generations systems in knowledge to make room for the new generations knowledge.

The secular and the religious are both hyped up for business in this arena. Every group within our society today has created their own ultimate formula knowledge bank. Whatever you need can be answered with a knowledge formula. Just follow a formula and watch it produce what you desire. Just follow the formula and all your questions will be answered. Knowledge is the key that opens every door. Is it?

Somehow in the back of my mind I am hearing a warning signal! Somehow deep within my spirit I sense an alarm! There are far too many formulas that knowledge has provided. Not only from a worldly standpoint but from a religious standpoint also. Far too much knowledge that pertains to just having more knowledge, becoming an endless cycle of seeking after more and more knowledge.

Knowledge has become its own formula! If I’m too fat, just follow this formula; if I’m too thin, just follow this formula; if I’m too dumb, just follow this formula; if I’m too poor, just follow this formula; if I’m too rich, just follow this formula; if I’m too countrified, just follow this formula; if I’m too citified, just follow this formula; if I’m too this or that or want to be more of this or that; just follow a formula! Got to have the right knowledge formula, to solve all the problems. Knowledge is the key that opens every door. Is it?

Eventually, the Disciples of Jesus Christ understood that they were following someone that was not going to be crowned as King, nor set upon an earthly throne to rule and reign. They found out, the hard way, that Jesus was not going to use all his wonderful knowledge to establish his own earthly government with them. Instead, they saw Jesus crowned in thorns, his humble clothing striped from him, and then hung on a cross to die the death of a common thief. They mourned and grieved over there lose, believing that all his knowledge was wiped away with his life, now gone. There own lives hung in the balance also. Everything they had been counting on with Jesus, had abruptly been taken away from them. All they seemed to be left with now was their FAITH. And, that was being tested day after day. The life saving knowledge that Jesus had imparted into them, shared with them seemed only to remain in the FAITH they now had to walk in together.

There was not any formula to follow! They couldn’t run to this one or that one, they couldn’t quick go read up on the latest Miracle Manual or buy a quick coarse in Jesus Knowlegdge 101. Instead, they had to wait for His Holy Spirit to be given to them so that they could relate to and from the Kingdom of God the wonderful knowledge that was from Jesus Christ. Because it was not their own. They could not lay claim to any formula of knowledge even from Jesus.

The ultimate formula for the Disciples was not found in more knowlege, but in waiting for His Holy Spirit. Waiting on His Holy Spirit to be quickened in purpose and direction, so that they once again could follow Jesus Christ! NOW, each Disciple was prepared and ready to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, because of their faithfulness, the Gospel of our Jesus Christ does flourish to this day!

Our Christian ForeFathers did have a Ultimate Formula! They found it in Jesus Christ, thru His Holy Spirit! They have left for us a legacy in belief, faith, love, and an unwavering eternal devotion to Jesus Christ!


© C.L. Mareydt d23

October 11, 2010

The God of Small Altars

Filed under: Pressing Toward the Mark — Katryna Starks @ 6:19 pm

By Katryna Starks

One day, about 10 years ago, I was in my bathroom getting ready to set about my day. I was trying to style my hair, and thinking about all of the things I needed to do. In the middle of my internal conversation, I thought to myself “I wish I had a bobby pin.” A few minutes later, I glanced at the floor. I had black, brown and beige shagged carpet. I could barely see anything on it (if I ever dropped an earring-back, it was gone.) But this day, as I glanced down, I saw a bobby pin. It was black and should have blended in with the carpet, but I saw it as clear as could be, as if it were floating on top. It was more than just a bobby pin. I felt it was God saying “If I will provide in this small way for you, then surely you can trust me with the big things.” From that day on, bobby pins became a small altar for me. Every time I see one, I remember that God provided, and that He has promised to provide.

The Bible is full of small altars that were built to remember the Lord. In Genesis, there are several mentions of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stopping to build small altars in order to remember the Lord. In Genesis 12:6, Abraham builds an altar after hearing from God. In Genesis 26: 23-25, Isaac builds an altar when God confirms the family covenant with him. Jacob built an altar when he arrived safely in his own land after encountering Esau (Gen 33: 18-20).

God also used ordinary things as remembrances of Him. In Exodus, God instructed Aaron to save some manna in a jar so that the Israelites would remember how God provided. Later, in the book of Joshua (4:2-3), God commanded Joshua to have 12 men get stones from the dry ground of the Jordan river so that future generations would remember how God delivered Israel by parting the Jordan river.

It’s important that we have small altars – ordinary things we save or use to remind us of God’s protection and provision. These small altars are so prevalent in our lives that if we said a small prayer of thanksgiving every time we saw one, we would “pray without ceasing”(1 Thess 5:17).

When we remember to pray at small altars, God does big, amazing things.