Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembrance and Gratitude

Today we remember...........

Today we remember the sacrifices made........and the blood that was shed across the entire world.

From Bunker Hill to the Alamo.

From the shores of Normandy to the beaches of Iwo Jima.

From the hills of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of the Middle East.

Today I remember.  I remember my Grandfather Hilleson who was a Naval Pilot in the South Pacific during WWII.  I remember him telling me that some pilots would fly out into a fog bank, and would never be heard of again.  I remember all the brave men who were cut down on the beaches of Normandy.  Today I remember the brave Marines who died on Iwo Jima.  I remember the soldiers of Vietnam, those who decided to leave and fight even though they knew that they would be dishonored for it at home.  America shamed herself by the way she treated those soldiers.

I remember the brave soldiers who fought to overthrow a dictator in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I remember the soldiers who died in Bengahzi trying to defend the Americans there.  Today I remember our brave sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, who are serving overseas to make our home and the lives of others safe.

I can never forget their sacrifice.  We must never forget their sacrifice.  Many of those men and women made it home from the wars, but so many of them didn't.

If you are reading this, and are serving in the military in some capacity.  Please accept my deepest gratitude, because that is all I have to offer.  If you are reading this and are not in the military, it is up to us to ensure that the men and women who do make it back, are received with the gratitude and honor they deserve.  It is up to us that to ensure that they are taken care of, and not neglected.

God bless our soldiers and their sacrifice.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Inner Struggle

I was reading out of the book Spiritual Discipleship by J. Oswald Sanders, and as I was reading I was suddenly convicted.  The chapter I was reading was about the healthy ambition that Christian disciples need to have.  I was convicted, not because I didn't have ambition, but because I realized that my ambition was what I wanted to do.  That is not to say that it isn't God's will for me, but simply that my ambition had its foundation in that the area of missions was one near and dear to my heart.

Simultaneously, I was hit by a solid brick wall of shear hopelessness of my ambition.  It got me to thinking about it.  How in the world am I, Gabriel Hilleson, supposed to do make a difference in a world so far gone?  We say that "You don't make a difference, God makes a difference."  But in all honesty this doesn't help, and while it is a nice saying to help remind us of our own insufficiency, it only serves to confuse me when I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing in the first place.

In case your lost, what I had been hit with was a double whammy.  Conviction that I didn't have the right reasons behind my drive for ministry, and despair that I would ever be an effective tool for God to use in a major way.

My calling into ministry is clear enough.  I see around me a world that desperately needs the transforming power of the Gospel.  In the city and in the country.  All around the world, and in the United State of America.  In Chicago and in my own home region of Lee county.  I look around and I see people who want fulfillment for their lives.  And so they turn to love, alcohol, family, sex, a career, entertainment, and the betterment of society.  And though some of these things are honorable, they quickly become twisted when they are made into an idol.  I see this search for life's meaning, and I want to reach out to them with the transforming power of the Gospel, to show them the glorious and indescribably love and hope that I have found in my Savior Jesus.  More specifically I want to make a difference, a real difference, in rural Illinois.  I want to bring revival to the country side.  And yet, the one letter that keeps popping up over and over again "I", shows a problem.  Problem #1:  In using the word "I", selfish ambition threatens to creep in and take over.  Problem #2:  "I" CAN NOT DO IT!  When I look at the great reformers and what they were like, I realize that I am completely and woefully inadequate.

Don't get me wrong, I am completely aware that any effective ministry is through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That God works changes in people.  However when the rubber meets the road, it is usually through the ministry of his servants that he works these changes.  It is the power of God that is mighty to work changes in the hearts of men, but I am a broken clay pot that can't hold water.  I am inadequate to be the servant that works the changes.  I don't want to be the Pastor of a mega-church or the author of a best selling book.  I just want to be an agent of revival for the people of rural America.  But just as that broken pot can't hold water, I am a broken Christian that can't even maintain a daily time of prayer and Bible study let alone be filled with the love and power of God.

By this time I can hear all the encouraging words that I have heard some many times before.  God is changing you.  You need to be in God's word and in prayer more often.  God is in control.  Change is hard.  The fact that you are saying these things is a good sign.

But at this point, these are all well and good, but it doesn't help. They have become cliche and annoying.

The Voice of Truth:  Gabriel?  Are you listening?
Me: Yes I'm listening.
You say that you are broken, that you can't be a vessel of the living water for others.  We'll come back to that later, but for the moment, why is it that you feel that way?
Because, I feel like a failure as a Christian.  I'm supposed to be mature in my faith and yet there are days that I struggle to have a fifteen minute prayer!  And that's on the days that I actually manage to fit a time of prayer and Bible study in.  I hear about people like John Wesley who would pray for hours every day.  How on earth am I supposed to do that?  I want to be an agent of revival.  I really do.  But I just don't know how.
I know whats wrong, and I know what needs to happen. But Gabriel......will you obey me with your whole heart?
Uh oh.....when you say that it usually means that I'm not going to like what you say next.   But, yes Lord I will obey you.
You say that you are having trouble finding the time to pray and study the Bible. But you seem to have plenty of time to play that League of Legends game with your friends, and you even find time to watch Netflix occasionally.
(sighs)  .......yes Lord.
Do I really need to tell you what needs to happen?  You cannot serve two masters.  Cut off and cast aside anything that is causing a problem between you and me.
But I can be responsible about playing that game, besides I have put so much effort into that game to stop playing it now.
You have said that you could and would be responsible about playing video games many times before, but you have been unable to.  Who do you love more?  Cause right now, it sounds like you love that video game more than me.
Your right, forgive me Lord, I'll remove it from my computer.  Though this is not an issue of lust, Matthew 5:27-30 certainly applies here..............there it is done, I have removed the game from my computer.
Good, now, you might just find that this act of obedience will go a long way to solving your problem.  About these other doubts that you have, don't you see that you are limiting my power?  Stop and think for a minute.  You say that you are a broken clay pot unable to hold my living water for others, but don't you see that I am the great Potter and you are not finished.  You are right in saying that my power is what changes the heart of man, but you are forgetting that you yourself are one such man.  I'm still working in you.  All your life you have been told to buckle down and get stuff done that you thought you were unable to do.
What about the questions I have about my Major and where you want me to go for ministry?
You are just going to have to trust me on these things, just move forward in obedience and I'll take care of the rest.  For the moment, do you love me?
You know I do Lord!
Are you willing to give up everything to follow my will?  Are you willing to give up your home, and your family?  If I ask you to? Are you willing to give up your dreams of rural ministry if I ask you to?  Are you willing to move far away from all that you know and love if I ask you to?
I want to say that I am, but this is hard.   I will go, Lord send me. Lord please strengthen me in my weakness.
What you want isn't a bad thing.  But you are in danger of making that specific ministry a god in and of itself.  Whether or not I send you to rural ministry will be made known to you in due time, but for now, it is enough for you to have a obedient spirit.  Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.
Yes Lord, thank you for speaking to me, thank you for the still small voice.  Amen.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abortion: Are We Compounding the Problem?

Hey ya'll, a lot has happened since I posted last, namely (for those who may not have heard) I am now a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  Chicago?????   That's right, Chicago (boy what have I gotten myself into)!!!  Not to worry though, you can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy.  So despite my change of location, I'm sure I'll still find a way to keep the "corn pone" part of "corn pone wisdom" is this blog.

Anyway, since today is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, I was thinking about the issue of abortion.
It truly sadden me when I really think about it.  Babies are such a joy, and when I think about the infanticide that is happening, not just here in the US, but also worldwide, it genuinely brings sorrow to my heart.

Now let me preface what I am about to write by saying that, as Christians we need to be ready to give an answer as to why we hold our pro-life views (which btw, I highly recommend that you look up Scott Klusendorf and his SLED argument). However, if you really think about it, abortion is just a surface issue.  The root problem goes much deeper and is SO very much harder to deal with than simple debate.

Ultimately sin is the root problem, and unless a spiritual cleansing occurs in America, no significant ground will be won on this issue.

Second of all I just wanted to take a few sentences and address a problem that we Christians sometimes (quite often) have.

About a year ago I was sitting in a lounge at my Community College and discussing this very topic with another individual who was pro-choice.  From my own perspective I was putting up a pretty good argument, little did I know that I was winning the argument but loosing the discussion.

Afterwards I asked one of my friends who had been watching the whole thing, who I new was also pro-choice, why had he not spoken up?  His answer has stuck with me to this day.  "I thought about it, but Gabe, you were coming off as a real jerk; I just couldn't bring myself to do it."

One thing that we must keep in mind is that when having these conversations is that, we have to be VERY VERY careful.  We must never set aside truth because it is unpalatable and may hurt their feelings.  However, at the same time we must show God's love and compassion in how we speak.  I know that you probably here the phrase "showing God's love to others" all the time; but it cannot be stressed enough.  If people are hurt, the cause should be conviction on the part of the Holy Spirit, never should it be caused by callousness or judgement on our part.  In truth, that sort of argument does only harm, it only serves to hurt the other person and to harden their heart.

Lastly I just want to send out an appeal to the teens, who may be reading this, and have an unwanted pregnancy.  Please, please, please do not ever consider abortion, I beg you!  That child you are carrying is so very precious; the Bible says that we are all made in the image of God, and that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.  There are other options, adoption for instance, there are hundreds of married couples who are actually waiting on a list for a baby to adopt.  There are crisis pregnancy care centers where you can get help.

Now, to the guys.  Because we all know that it takes two.

Be a man and take responsibility for your actions.  This is the sort of thing that separates the adults from children.  This baby is yours, just as much as it is hers.  Also,understand that because of your actions, she is very Very scarred, and rightfully so.  I'm not saying that there needs to be a shot-gun wedding or anything, but you need to come beside the mother and support her through this pregnancy.  And if she decides to keep the child after it is born, instead of giving him/her up for adoption, your should be an active presence in that child's life.  Would you abandon your wife and children born in wedlock?  Absolutely not!  There is no difference in the value of those children born in wedlock, and the child born out of it.

Alright, I've spoke my piece, and there is a quiz tomorrow so g-night and later y'all!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cries from the Trenches

How do you press on when you feel tired and isolated?  We are soldiers, fighting a spiritual battle.  But what can the soldier do when he his comrades have moved on?  Either way he is a soldier, and he is expected to press on and continue to fight.  That is the choice we made; when Christ redeemed us, he required that we fight on for him, even when we feel alone.  So the question is how?  How, when you feel like your team has deserted you?  God only knows.  So why ask me?  Why ask others?  Go straight to the source of truth, veritas, ask HIM.  Only there will you find peace and reassurance. 

If this is the refining fire, why don't I see a difference?  Why do I still seem the same?  I'm supposed to be a fighter, but all I see is the impossible.   My child, you can only see the enemy in front of you, you cannot see the whole battle field.  You cannot see the difference you are making.

Where is our King to strengthen us?  Where is the Lord's love when you most need it?  Where is this Father who will never leave you or forsake you?  It is there, you just aren't looking for it.  Come to the fountain, refresh your weary spirit.  You cannot see the love of God, unless you are seeking after him.  He has always been there, you just never took the time to be with him.

Don't you understand?  You are not deserted!  You are not fighting for nothing!  You only need to seek out God's love to find it.

Father, we thank you for your word, the Bible.  For the encouragement and strength it provides when we feel like we can't go on.  Thank you that you are El Roi, the God who sees, and Jehovah-shammah, the Lord is there.  You see what we are going through, and you are there.  You hear us, whenever we cry out to you. And thank you for your love that is constant and never ceasing.  Help us to hold fast onto you, for you are the only firm footing.  You are the rock in the floods.  Amen.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Relying on God

Wow, I haven't posted anything here for a while.  I mean, I highly doubt the world will end because I haven't posted anything here for a couple months..............but still......

First off, I have to say that: God is great, root beer is good, and college is crazy. (If you read that with Billy Currington's song "People are Crazy" going through your head, then I applaud you). 

Anyway God has been so good this year; the corn is tall and should produce a good yield.  However as the son of a farmer, I have experienced first hand how completely we rely on God.  We rely on him for the right amount of rain at the right times, for dry weather when it is needed, and that he will take care of us when times seem rough.

What I have been learning now, in my heart, is that we must rely on God in more than just financial matters.  I mean, any person who grows up in the church will tell you that, "we must rely on God's strength, we aren't strong enough on our own".  However sometimes it is just a Christianism, something we say to sound like we are spiritually mature.  It is a completely different matter to know this in our hearts, often we don't truly know it in our heart until life knocks the wind out of us.

This is what I have been learning these past weeks, college just started up two weeks ago, and like many college students I've got plenty of work (and to spare).  It is exhausting.

Today as I was lying on my bed praying when I realized is that I have been acting like Martha.
"Gotta cook, gotta clean"; except in my case its "Gotta study, gotta research, gotta work out".  And I have been leaving my spiritual life as an afterthought.

What I should have been doing is acting like Mary, being with God first.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

There is a coffee cup verse for y'all.  And sometimes it becomes no more than that.  What I need to do is to see to my relationship with God first and foremost, and then trust that God will take care of me.

This is not to say that we have an excuse to be lazy about our home work, I'm not saying that at all.  Only to say that we cannot get so caught up in our work load that we forget what is truly important.

Well, that's about it for now.  Later y'all!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Priority Check

Ok, I've let this blog go far too long without a post; time to get typing.

So, it is 80 degrees with humidity, and Ma has finally broke down and asked Dad to put up the AC units.  The dog days of summer have officially begun.  On the bright side the corn is growing tall and green, PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!!

Okay there is the farmer part, now for the faith part.

Over this summer I have been having a particular lesson drilled into my head, a lesson which I now share with you all.  In your life as a Christian, balance is critical.  I repeat; balance is critical.

As young men and women who are on fire for the Lord we tend to focus on aspects of ministry that are obvious; leading a youth group, being involved in a small group, hanging out with and ministering to those who are Barnabas and Timothy in you life.  But something we need to remember is balance!

One thing we don't typically think about in terms of ministry is the ministry at home.  Especially to those who have younger siblings, we tend to think of our duties at home as annoyances.  But the truth is that the ministry at home is more important than our ministry to the church.

Don't get me wrong, you should be doing both.  We are plenty capable of being able to handle both in our lives.  That is where balance comes in.

You see both are important, it just so happens that the ministry at home requires your attention first.  I'm not going to tell you how to balance your life, that would deprive you of the pleasure of learning to do it yourself. There are other reasons as well, no two people have the same responsibilities, thus it would be pointless for me to tell you how to balance your life.

In general there are four aspects of life that need to be balanced out.  I will use my life for examples.

The first part of our lives is our personal walk with the Lord.  This is something we "know" is critical, we even may use it as an excuse to get out of an unpleasant chore, but how seriously do you take your time with God?

The second part of our lives is service to the church; for me it is being a leader for Jr. High and leading worship in College group.  This is the aspect of our Christian lives we primarily tend to think of as our "main ministry and Christian service".  Now, just being plain honest here, we make time in our lives for this sort of thing.  However we must be careful that we don't let this good service consume all our time, there is a point at which we must say, "I'm sorry, but I can't do anything else right now."

The third part of our lives is the responsibilities of home, this includes our everyday chores, odd jobs that just need to be done, and ministry to family members.  This is the aspect of life I personally tend to put on the back burner, and so do many other people.  But, as stated before, our ministry to our families comes first before our other ministries.

The forth and last main aspect of life is fellowship or "hang time".  This is time we spend with our friends just chilling out.  Again Christian fellowship is a very Biblical thing, but we must be careful to ensure that it does not get in the way of our responsibilities back home.

Make sense?  Bueno.

Till next time; may the love, and joy, and peace of our Lord be with you all.

Later y-all!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Jealousy VS Unity

While I will not say that jealousy is the most destructive of vices to plague the Church, it is detrimental and causes division among the Church.

At one church one family will not attend unless the grandmother of that family plays piano on sunday morning.

At first glance this seems harmless, petty and childish, but harmless.

However let me be clear, jealousy is a poison that causes bitterness and resentment in everything it touches.  When at its worst jealousy causes rifts in the church; this is devastating because the Bible itself says that "a house divided against itself cannot stand".  What is more I can assure you that the World, which already view Christianity as a divided religion, is not impressed either.

The Lord cannot use us to the utmost until we get rid of the jealousy we may carry.  Remember that as the body of Christ we have each been given different gifts to use for the glory of God and that we must work together in order for the church to run smoothly (Romans 12:4-8).  The clock is continueing to tick towards the day when Christ comes back and takes us to the wedding supper, until then it is our responsibility to continue the work he has left us with.  This can only be done effectively by using the gifts he has given us.

Think of it this way, everyone is working together to build a kingdom.  Some are stone cutters, some are masons, some are supervisors.  Each has his own set of tools he has been given.  The stone cutters go find stones and quarry them out and bring them to the kingdom.  The Masons build up the stones and strengthen them.  And the supervisors are the coordinators and make sure everything runs according to the instructions which the King left.

It does the Mason no good to wish for the job of the supervisor when he is better equipped to be a Mason, the same goes for all the other jobs.

Now apply this to the real world.  The King has given us instructions to forward his Kingdom.  The Evangelists go forth and find people and witness to them the Gospel and bring them to the Kingdom.  The Encouragers come beside the people of the Kingdom and encourage, build up, and help strengthen them.  Lastly the Pastors are left with the task of instructing and leading the church.  And the beauty is that there are so many more tasks to be done and gifts that have been given to us, there just isn't time to go over them in this post.  The main thing is that we work together in unity to accomplish the mission set before us, and jealousy is especially effective at throwing a monkey wrench in the works.

One last thing to keep in mind, in the parable of the talents Jesus tells of three servants who were given talents by their master.  When the master came back he rewarded the two servants who had used their talents faithfully.  The third servant however, seeing that he only had one talent, went and hid it and did not use it faithfully.  The master rebuked him and took away his talent and gave it to the first servant.

The point of the parable is this, God expects us to use the gifts and talents he has given us to build up the Church and to bring him glory.  If we refuse to use the talents he has given us for him, he will take them away.  So use it or loose it.

Till next time, later y-all!