Josh Underwood

Daily journal entries of things I am learning. Some journal entries will be related to Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest", but I will post anything else that I am learning and have written about. Please respond with your own thoughts and what you are learning so we can learn from each other.

Name:
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida, United States

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New location

To all who have been reading my online journal.....

I did not quit writing. I have been writing less in the past few weeks because I have had a lot going on, but I did not stop all together. I am only posting on the myspace website now. It's easier to just post there than having to post both places. The address of my myspace site is:

www.myspace.com/joshuaunderwood

and to go directly to the blog:

blog.myspace.com/joshuaunderwood

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Prayer or Pride

I think being prayerful is the opposite of being prideful. When we live a life of constant prayer and communion with God, it is simply an outpooring of Jesus within us. When we pray, we don't use the phrase "in Jesus name" simply because somewhere, a long time ago He hung on the cross for us. Instead we pray in Jesus name because He rose and He now lives within us. Our prayers should be the same as His at the same level of intmacy He shares with the Father. Prayer should never simply be a speech given by us to God. Prayer is the way to build a deeper relationship with Him. We should never pray just to be heard and then be on our way. Our prayer should open the door for us to be one with God. By living a life of continuous dialogue with Him, we are expressing that we want nothing but His desires, and He wants that for us, too. Prayer allows us to be more than just people following after a distant God. It allows us to be one with the awesome God we serve, so that nothing we do will be the work of oursleves, but will instead come from His strength.

Memory verse for the day: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray continuously"

Dictionary definitions of continuously:
1. In a continuous manner, without interruption
2. unbroken, uninterrupted

So incredibly simple to write, can we make it that simple in our lives? Can we live a life where all we do is depend on God and talk to Him without interruption, without ever stopping for a break?


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Summer Camp

We just got back from camp with CF at Camp Kulaqua. It was awesome, I am a little bummed that it is over. The first day and part of the second, I was a little lost becasue I didn't know very many leaders, which was fine except that I didn't know very many of the kids yet. I was a bit reserved before the camp because I knew it would be that way at first. As camp went on though, it just got better and better as I got to know more kids and the kids got to know each other. The more I work with youth, the more I find that I want to spend time with them. I need to continue to pray about this. I really would love to be a youth pastor someday, but I want to know that God wants that. I just know that I want to be a leader, and I love kids. So we'll see what God wants to do with those desires.

I learned a lot this week. I learned a lot from the speakers. They spoke mostly on things that I already knew, but I know God was really hammering home the point of going back to the gutter and really, truly loving and caring for the people there. I know that sometimes I only help because I feel that I should, and I don't want to do that anymore. I want to serve others because they are loved by the same God who loves me. It was also neat to hear Tim, Andrew, and Scott speak about things that I have been learning on my own. It reaffirmed the truths I know, and it makes me want to spend all my time learning more about God and about Love.
I learned a few things from the kids as well. It was great to spend time with them, to learn about them and how they think, how they interact, how they worship, how much potential they have. I know I want to spend more time with them.
I learned about God and how He works. It was awesome to see how He opened opportunities to meet other leaders and to see how He answered prayers. I continue to learn about worship. It's so amazing to see how the Holy Spirit can completely break down walls. It is interesting for me to see parts of myself in certain kids. Looking at the past compared to the work of the Spirit now is unreal! God is so much more powerful than anything imaginable. If He could work in me, then how could I doubt that He could work in any of those youth?

Basically, camp was great, but then again who really comes back from camp and didn't have a blast? My hope and prayer is that, as Christians, we will live a life that is always in a "camp mentality." I pray that everyday our every action will be focused on God and His love. I don't want camp to be just a good memory for us. I want it to be a starting point, and example, a window that God is visible through.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

July 30, 2005 - Trusting God in Others

I often fall into the trap of putting my trust in other people. In my own life, I am learning to trust God completely, and while it is sometimes difficult, the faith that the Spirit works in us is far more amazing than words can describe. I am learning that I am nothing and can do nothing apart from God, but when it comes to others, whether it be friends, or family, or whoever, I forget that this same Spirit is working, or wants to work in them. I trust people for who they are, or, on the flipside, I don't trust people for who they are. Certain people I respect because I know them to be of good character, but other people I write off as hopeless because they have little or no character. In short, I don't trust God in these people. Oswald Chambers describes how Jesus views people in reference to John 2:24-25. He says that Jesus "never placed His faith in people, yet He was never suspicious or bitter. Our Lord's confidence in God, and in what God's grace could do for anyone, was so perfect that He never despaired, never giving up hope for any person." Jesus knows that man is inherently evil, and He can not trust us alone. However, He has so much confidence in the power of God's saving grace, and He recognizes the life-changing power it has for even the worst of sinners. I crave this confidence in God for other people. Instead of praising men when they succeed, I need to see the work of God in their lives. Conversely, I need to keep hope alive for those who are spiritually and morally dead. God has the power, and He wants to change their lives through His love and grace in the same way He does with me. Christ did not die on the cross for me alone, but I sometimes find myself living as though He did.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Forgiveness

Sin distances us from God. This is so scary. Sin is a result of unbelief. It can be unbelief that God really exists or that He really cares, or it can even be unbelief that our relationship with Him will be hindered. Since we know that God forgives, we sometimes think that we can sin and everything will still be fine because we can always ask for forgiveness. But why do we treat God this way when we would never thing of acting like this toward our friends here on earth? If I consistently wrong me brother because I know he will always forgive me, I am taking advantage of him, or using him. How frightening is it to know that I have taking advantage of God! When we constantly take advantage of someone, it is pretty clear that the relationship is not meaningful. It usually serves to temporarily satisfy the "user" while leaving the "used" feeling pretty empty. This is the same with our relationship with God. How can I be in an intimate relationship with my Lord if I use Him for my gain? Forgiveness is a powerful thing. God's grace is expressed to us through it even though we are filthy. Forgiveness is essential to salvation, it is the key to experiencing God's love. Instead of perverting it into an excuse to keep sinning, lets recognize the amazing love and saving grace God shows us through it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Isn't He Still Here?

I have recently come to the realization that we are not called to be imitators of Christ. For most of my Christian life this is what I always attempted to do. I strived to do what I thought He would do. I would spend all of my spiritual energy trying to be like Him, to be perfect. There is a major problem with this. I am human. I am not perfect, I am a sinner. I would quickly fail in my attempts to imitate Christ, and this failure would bring discouragement and the realization that I could not be good enough. However, through some sort of experience, I would be spiritually encouraged again, and I would start the process all over again. The failure would eventually come, and the falls were getting harder to accept. I just didn't understand it. I thought I had it all figured out, like some sort of "secret recipe" for the way to be a Christian.

Who can blame anyone for wanting to be like Christ? After all, He lived a sinless life, the example of how we should all live. But that perfection creates the problem. My self-dependence in trying to be like Christ overshadowed my need for His grace. My successes in being like Christ quickly turned into a self-righteous pride, and my failures only served to make me resent God for setting such a high standard. As you can see, what started out as a noble goal, ultimately turned into a life filled with sin and deceit.

I am so stubborn. I kept trying to do things my way, to let God pick me up only to abandon Him again once I was on my feet. It wasn't until He personally intervenedwhen I was finally able to see the Truth. Through certain situations orchestrated by Him, I was able to see the amazing grace I had so often sung about but never truly understood.

I found there was something more this time than just a pick-me-up. The Holy Spirit showed me that the power that Jesus had through His Father was the same power He offers to us as believers. How freeing and humbling is that! No longer did I have to try and live up to an impossible standard.

The entire New Testament talks about the power of Christ in us, not just as an example for us. I want to change the WWJD slogan to WIJD. I know its not as catchy, but I think it is closer to the Truth. "What Would Jesus Do" implies that there is some standard that Christ left for us that we now have to try to figure out and live up to. For me, "What Is Jesus Doing" is more appropriate. He is alive, He is living through all believers. We are not called to be imitators. We are created to be be conformed to His likeness, and to let His love and life flow freely through mine.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

July 20, 2005 - www.persecution.com

Tonight in youth group we talked and learned about people scattered across the world who are being persecuted for being bold followers of Christ. Many are in prison. Some are beaten daily. One story we read told of a man in China who has led over 50 people to Christ since being in prison. Because of this, the guards beat him so severely that both of his legs were broken, and he took blows to the head that caused mental confusion. This is just one brief story. There are so many others. Not just stories, but real lives.

I hope the kids got an understanding of what true faith is really like. For me, these real-life stories blew me away. We occasionally hear of modern day martyrs, but it is something so foreign to us as Americans. We have freedom to worship Jesus anytime, anyplace (well, not exactly anymore, but I don't feel like getting into that tonight!). The point is, we have religious freedom. We can go to church without fear of being beaten or thrown into prison. We take this for granted.

So many times I get caught up in my own little world. I think on all the things that God has for my life. What a selfish way this is! Nights like tonight remind me that there are people right now as I write this that are sitting in a prison because they refuse to disown Jesus. He is so real. The faith of these brothers and sisters not only convicts me, but it encourages me of God's great glory! God is so faithful to these followers. I will probably never meet anyone who was put in prison for Christ, but God has glorified His Son through their passionate devotion to Him.

It is easy to see the undescribable faith of these people in their hardships, and in turn belittle my relationship with God. This is a false view. God has put me where I am for a reason, and He wants to glorify His Son through me just as He does with anyone else. I can only be responsible for what is placed before me now. I must not feel insignificant, but I must be faithful to do all that I can with what I have been given. Luke 16:10 states that "Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with very much..." I want to be trusted with what I am given now so that I will continually be provided with opportunities to show God's incredible grace.

If you want to check out the website, its www.persecution.com