Marriage (four years and counting)

Today is my four year anniversary! Four years ago today, my best friend became my bride!
Bride
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown…” Proverbs 12:4
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Did Jesus really mean that we’re supposed to pray for our enemies? Really?!

fanatics
Patriotic crowds gathered outside the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.
Last night, the White House announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in an air strike in Pakistan about a week ago. Facebook, Twitter, and—I’m sure—the blogosphere immediately erupted with celebration. In fact, large crowds gathered in front of the White House and in several major cities to celebrate. Just from checking my Facebook News Feed, you would’ve thought it meant we had won the global war on terror and that now a new age of global peace and prosperity can finally begin because we killed the one man who was standing in the way!
I had—and still have—some very mixed feelings about this whole deal, especially after reading how people are responding to the announcement of Osama’s death. I’ll admit, my first response was actually shocked disbelief:  I thought Osama was long dead and that we were just on a wild goose chase. Then I started to get a little excited. That us, until I looked at Facebook and realized all those un-Christian responses were really just saying what I was feeling deep inside… For example, I’ve read statuses that say, “rot in hell,” “gotcha b*tch,” and “really glad hells population increased with osama bin ladin. Really wish we could have tortured him a little first. Oh well burn in hell.” Oh, I forgot to mention that these posts are all from people who claim to be Christians. On the last one, someone commented, “This is the best news Ive heard in so long, that I don’t remember any better.Maybe he was tortured. We can hope!!Hopefully the devil is a very happy tonight.”
So, in light of Osama’s death how do we interpret Jesus’ commands in Matthew 5:43-44 to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? In The Message of Matthew : The Kingdom of Heaven, Michael Green writes,

The Great Lover has poured his love upon us unworthy rebels. He has purified us, has adopted us into his kingdom, and wants us to be his ambassadors in the human kingdoms. How is it to be done, and how is our allegiance to be shown? Supremely, by love. Love is the mark which, above all else, should distinguish those who know themselves to have been found by a loving God (97).

Apparently, our interpretation is to simply ignore Jesus’ command, right? “Who cares. Let’s all just gloat over the fact that a man is dead and—we all presume—burning in hell.” But suddenly, I don’t see a difference between Evangelical Christians and the terrorists that we’re fighting against. Suddenly, the lines are beginning to blur. Consider the words of Ezekiel 18:23:  “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”
What are your thoughts about this supposed victory? Is it ever okay for Christians to gloat over the death of someone? Does it matter how wicked we think they are? Should we ever be glad that someone is burning in hell? What’s a safe balance of patriotism and love? Or, in this case, is there a safe balance? Is this a case of either/or?
I am very obviously still sorting through all this, but I encourage you to leave your comments and let me know what you think is a good Christian response to this current event?

Redeemable

The Chaplain currently deployed here is one of the best I’ve worked with during my time in the military. Ch. Mansberger does a “Word of the Day” email that he sends out to people all across the base and I’ve really enjoyed them but the one he posted today was my favorite thus far:

“Quote of the day: “The longest journey is the journey inward.” – Dag Hammerskjold

Scripture for the day: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45

As we look at ourselves in the light of God we easily realize we fall short of all we can be. But as we look into our hearts, inward, we see that the truth of God’s word changes us for good. Start that journey inward with God and begin to let your heart overflow with goodness.

On a light note: “A young boy is in the doctor’s office. The doctor says to the child. “I want to see if ‘Barney” is in your heart! “Oh, no”, the boy said. “I have Jesus in my heart. Barney is on my underwear” – Father Rick Boyd

You Are Valuable!

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.
“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him.

I (daniel) think we all want to believe at some point or another that, despite what we’ve been through, we are not beyond redemption. I’ve met people who don’t feel like they’re lovable and it breaks my heart because they are loved more than they will ever know by the Creator of the universe. We have value because God says so, and He proves it by sending Jesus to die for us, so that we can have a reconciled relationship with Him.

Jars of Clay, in their song “Boys (Lesson One),” puts it this way: “Not to undermine the consequences, but you are not what you do.”

Another great band, Tenth Avenue North, in their song “You Are More,” sing,
“You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”

The simple truth is that, through the power and blood of Jesus Christ, we have been separated from what we’ve done. We’ve been forgiven and made clean. We’ve been given new life.

My death.

In early June, I arrived in Alaska. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’d never felt more alone. I had just gone through the worst heart break of my entire life, and I was struggling with a lot of things. The greatest of these struggles was my relationship with God.

Within a few months of being stationed here, I stumbled into a Bible Study group with young adults just like me who were full of questions and had an earnest desire to grow closer to God.

My main issue was that I didn’t trust God. I had heard people talk about surrendering your life to the Lord. I had heard people tell me that I had to trust my life to Christ. I had heard these things all my life, but they had never really seemed to click. One day, I realized how unhappy I was. I missed being in a relationship and desperately wanted to find my soul mate. I wanted my career to be successful. I was obsessed with my health. I worried about a lot of trivial things that don’t truly matter. Finally, I decided to place my primary focus on something greater. (Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33)

Things began to get easier. I learned how to smile again. I learned how to trust the Lord. I learned how to surrender my everything to the one true God, and to allow Him to work His divine plan in my life. He does, after all, have much better plans for me than I could ever come up with on my own.

I began to realize that my temper had melted. I wasn’t as uptight as I was before I arrived in Alaska (heck, my inner-child was making a comeback!). My language wasn’t as harsh as it used to be. God was making powerful transformations in me from the inside out! It felt good!

At about the same time, I began a very personal bible study that lasted a few months. One of the bible verses we discussed really struck close to home: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38.

Wait a second, did this mean what I thought it did?

That true salvation wasn’t an option until after you’ve repented?

Well hey, I never truly repented until I arrived in Alaska!

And according to the verse, the next logical step would be baptism.

That’s the course of events that lead me to my death..and my rebirth.

On February 5th at approximately 11:40 a.m. Daniel Delgado died.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3

On February 5th at approximately 11:41 a.m. Daniel Delgado was brought back to life.

And you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians 2:12

Today I was baptized.

Therefore, is anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave His life for me. Galatians 2:20

Since arriving in Alaska, its safe to say that I have done a lot of growing. I may be thousands of miles away from home, but God has given me a new family.