November 3, 2016

I exist

Have you ever stopped and considered the fact that you exist as a person, and yet have no control over this existence?  Some might argue that you do, because you can choose to end your life, but ultimately, you didn't bring about your life, and you don't know when it will end.

All of that seems high and philosophical, but it is really an every day thought.  And it reminds me of what Paul said in Acts 17

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

(Acts 17:24-28; emphasis added)

Since my existence is dependent upon God, a Being outside of myself, what does this mean for how I live?  Well, it should mean that I spend every waking hour serving Him, and advancing His mission on earth "letting His kingdom come...."  This is harder than it should be, because my selfish heart comes in and steals the joy of this service, replacing its focus on this earthly life with all of its difficulties (or perceived difficulties), pain and labor, and our gaze is shifted from our Good and Loving God, to the dirty dishes sitting in the sink from last night, or the growing pile of unfolded laundry, the unpaid bills, and unmet expectations, and the daily grind of living here.

So how do we look up from what we call life, to see all of the goodness and provision given to us by God?

The author of Hebrews puts it quite simply when he writes:

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:2)

How do we "fix our eyes..."?

Through gratitude, through prayer, through daily immersing our minds, hearts, and actions in God's word, which requires time, attention, attention of the heart.  To step away and be with God is something we must make time for, otherwise we lose our focus and believe lies, which effects our very existence.

Ann Voskamp reminds us that our existence, our longing for the 'Other' can only be completed in giving thanks to God, and in feasting upon Him:

"Eucharisteo, remembering with thanks, this is the bread.  We take the moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes bread.  The thanks itself nourishes.  Thanks feeds our trust." 
And Jesus is that nourishment,
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

(John 6: 47-51)

Jesus Christ makes it plain from this text that His body, His word (since He is the WORD), is what gives life.  Why would I want to go one second without this nourishment?  How foolish and arrogant of me to think that I can exist apart from this Life source, and yet does my life match up with seeking it out?  Do I truly "hunger and thirst for righteousness" or is my hunger and thirst "satisfied" with mere earthly morsels, which are soon consumed and discarded?

Too often the later is what I settle for in my pursuit of life.  Ironic, because while I am seeking life, if I am not going to Jesus, the only True Life Source, I am settling for cheap and useless substitutes.  No wonder my heart yearns for something more, no wonder there is a deep, burning hunger inside my bones.  Because, until I am thoroughly convinced (and life accordingly) that JESUS is enough, I will keep going to broken cisterns, and man made wells which CANNOT ever satisfy my soul.

Oh Jesus, may I hunger and thirst for You alone.  You have promised to satisfy my soul need, indeed you have done so initially, help me to be faithful in feeding on You, and not looking to faulty and sinful substitutes which will never quench this craving of my heart.  Please forgive my wavering, roving heart that is on the prowl for some idol to worship, when You are the true and living God!  I look to You, and thank You for being faithful despite my wandering heart.  I love You, but perfect my love so that it is what You desire.  Make my life a worthy sacrifice, fit for Your altar.  Amen. 

September 29, 2016

A love, an inheritance, a faith


R.M. Rilke said: 

"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it." 

In Ephesians 3:16-19, Paul prays a powerful blessing over the church at Ephesus which resounds similarly to Rilke's words above: 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Oh! to know God's love!  To truly be captured by His father heart for us. To yearn to love Him with our all in return.  Everything, everything He has done for His creations has been out of love, and with such careful thought and attention to detail.  

Even in the seemingly "mundane" parts of Scripture (is that even a thing?), God's love and devotion to His people shines so brightly, how can we not see it?  In my personal bible study, I am reading in Hebrews, and I decided that it would be good to re-read the giving of the law and the setting up of the first tabernacle in Exodus.  And as I read, the love of God oozed from every detail, every word.  As He commanded Moses on the exact dimensions of and supplies to be used for, the tabernacle.  Only a God of love would be so precise, so direct.  

How do we fail to see His love when it is so apparent?  We choose to turn a blind eye to its overwhelming evidence, and focus on the bad, the evil, the ugly which consumes our fallen world.  The Author of Hebrews rebuked his readers, reminding them of the One thing they should set their gaze towards, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

When we look at His face, and see through His eyes, the whole world changes before us.  Yes there is pain and suffering and evil and death and disappointment and heartache, but there is also an abundance of Love.  And when we finally grasp that truth and live it out, the ripples of blessing which go out from our lives, transform the world.  

So, let us love as we are loved, without reserve; willing to sacrifice our hearts and lives so that others will know this Love. 


"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other."
(John 15:9-17)

September 28, 2016

And, so, I kept breathing


I struggle with depression on a weekly basis.  Some days are better than others.  This has been a 'thing' in my life, a burden I have had since I was about 15.  And even though there are really dark moments in my life, I have found HOPE - Jesus Christ.  Without Him, I would have ended my life a long time ago.  

I love what Paul has to say about this life with all of its pain and struggle: 


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) 

God has been at work in my life despite this struggle, and the more I allow Him to lead and guide and love me, the smaller the cloud becomes.  His sun shines no matter what kind of day, and His light pierces through the deepest darkness and the thickest confusion.  My part in the story is to accept His love and walk with Him on this journey.  This is a daily decision; an act of our will to obey and be loved. 

August 28, 2016

Phoebe


This gorgeous girl turns 21 today!  Wow!  It blows my mind that she is already an adult, with a big girl job, and adult responsibilities.

I remember being 3.5-4, and wanting a sister so badly.  I must have really pestered my Mom because after sometime, she said to me "well Abby, let's pray for you to have a little sister."  And so, in my childish ways, I prayed simply, that God would give me a baby sister. 

When she joined our family I was THRILLED!  I remember coming home and seeing her for the first time.  What a shot of joy went through my heart.  We gathered around Mom's bed, and "ooed" and "awwwed" over her.  When the midwife pricked her little toes, and Phoebe began to cry, I reached over and stuck my pinky into her mouth, and she calmed down. 

Phoebe, you have been my best friend since that first moment I laid eyes on your sweet little face.  Through the years we have grown closer, and done almost everything we could together.  You have been to me, in many ways, a big sister, and I have leaned hard on your strong shoulders through tough times in my own life.  God made you a bright and radiant light, and a gracious gift to our family, and to the world. 

A lump rises in my throat when I think about you being a kind, intelligent, godly and independent young lady, who any good man would be blessed to have as their wife... not because I don't think you are ready, but because you are more than ready, and I know that day is coming, fast.  I was sad the first day of your first job, because you wouldn't be here for me to chat with, or smile at across the room whenever I wanted to, though I was glad you had a job. :)

I am SO proud, so pleased with all that you have allowed God to do in and through you over the years.  You are patient, kind, smart, talented, gracious, wise, discerning, compassionate, generous, bold, steadfast, ambitious, and the list goes on and on. 

God has amazing things in store for your life, and as you continually seek His will, you will never go astray. 

I love you and I want to say God bless you and Happy Birthday as you celebrate 21 years of life!!

July 28, 2016

I Surrender - All Sons & Daughters

My favorite worship band, All Sons & Daughters is getting ready to release their newest album (Poets and Saints), and they have made one of their songs available which makes me really happy because it means I can share it with you!


July 20, 2016

Relationship status

This is something I wrote in my journal a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to share with you my readers.  I hope that it encourages you as you seek Jesus.

Marriage is not the only key to the only door to service in God's kingdom.  It is a key to a door, but not the only one.  

If you are single, serve Jesus.  If you are in a relationship, serve Jesus.  If you are engaged, serve Jesus.  If you are married, serve Jesus.  If you are divorced, serve Jesus.  If you are widowed, serve Jesus.  The only relationship status that really matters is yours, with Jesus. 

If you're not a Christian, then you've got a need.  Not one to be met by another human, because humans will let you down.  You need a relationship with the definer and creator of relationships, the real love expert: Jesus.  

His love for you will never fail, never cease.  As in any relationship, there will be seasons of plenty, and some of lack, but underneath it all is a steadfast, never-ending love which will give you the kind of stability and security no man or woman can give. 

Because - His love is the only truly sacrificial kind.  So, be satisfied with it, no matter your relationship status.  


July 18, 2016

Family Pictures


L-R - Phoebe, Jaden, Claudia, Caleb (holding Haylie), Julia (Mom), David (Dad), Joel, Christine, Abby (meeeeee) and Jo
L-R - Jo, Phoebe, Claudia, Christine, Abby, Joel, Caleb, and Jaden

July 13, 2016

A life quote

A wise man once said, 
"get a job, and within two weeks 
you will come into some money." 


June 21, 2016

Are we willing?

My mission in life is, has been, and will be to help others, but especially the hurting, the abused, the neglected, the outcasts of society. 

And, if my involvement with such people requires me to be "poor" or to live in an "unsafe" part of town; if it means I might become more "rough" in my appearance, or that I hang out with the people who society, and sadly, even the church has rejected, if all of that means we can't be family, or can't be friends anymore, please take a look at your heart. 

I am not going to change into someone I am not, just to satisfy someone's desire to control.  If I am sinning, tell me, otherwise I am who I am, and if you don't like the real me, I'm sorry.  I just can't stand to have other people planning my life and spitting on my dreams, because they won't make me rich, won't mean I'm safe, won't bring the family pride over my accomplishments.  My life is going to be shaped by the vision God has given me to serve Him in this scary world. 

As a matter of fact...

God has called all believers to be involved in ministry.  Our very existence is to be ministering to those who need Jesus.  Inside of the "church" and outside.  If we think that our little time spent in "church" on Sunday mornings or on Wednesday nights is all the ministering we "need to do," we've got it wrong.

Our lives are to revolved around sharing Jesus.  Our homes should be centers of grace as we share meals (and the gospel) with our yet-to-be-saved relatives, neighbors, and co-workers.  We should be known as the best party-throwers, the kindest hosts, the most generous neighbors, the most humble employees, the most patient uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. 

Why?  Because Jesus was all of those things as He interacted with the "tax-collectors and sinners."  And we are called to look like Him, to be like Him.

So, Lord, ignite our hearts so that we are no good for this world.  May our hearts blaze with one flame, one passion, one vision - to see Your name exalted in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, government agencies, and churches.

Because loving You, and loving others in Your name is all that really matters. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent."

Luke 5:29-32 

June 20, 2016

Favorite quotes

To round out the final post of the "quote tag" (thank you S.F.), I thought it would be neat to share with you all some of my favorite quotes which I have collected over the years on my Pinterest


This reminds me of the verse where Jesus says there are only two ways - the way of Life, and the way of death.  We can either choose life (Jesus), or death (Satan).  It's really that straightforward. 

Two powerful promises from God's precious word. Take them in. Believe them. Act upon them.

 For those of you who know me personally, you know how much I love to talk.  I have been prodded by the Lord to be a better listener.  Sometimes the biggest thing another person needs in a patient listener.  That is one thing I am working on becoming. 

"Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
    but trusting the Lord means safety."
Proverbs 29:25
 
 This is a lesson I am still learning.  
























Relinquish control 


June 17, 2016

~ Love ~

So, I really have no idea what I'm doing here, and have never been tagged.  But, thank you to S.F. from On Solid Ground for tagging me, and we'll see what happens...

The theme for the quotes I picked today is love, because my favorite Bible verse talks about love.  I will share that at the very end.  Enjoy! 

(all quotes and pictures are via Pinterest

The ultimate reason we love is because Jesus first loved us.

Jesus' words about love.  We are to love like He loved.



Something to ponder.  Never is a long time.



Everything.  Our mind, then, must be love-saturated.


And this is based off of my favorite Bible verse, Colossians 3:14, "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." (NKJV)  I love that phrase at the end, "bond of perfection."

Another "above all things".  In other words, LOVE is the most important thing we can ever do.

June 16, 2016

Hope

Thanks to S.F. from On Solid Ground for tagging me!

The theme for the quotes I picked today is Hope 

(all quotes and pictures are via Pinterest)


Jesus is the ultimate Hope - He is the reason we exist


Salvation comes through Jesus Christ, the One true Son of God, and because of His sacrifice, His resurrection and His reign, we have hope 

 Because God is with us always, "to the end of the age" we have hope, for today, for tomorrow, for each period of our lives no matter what we are going through. He is with us, always. 

A great reminder


As 1 John 4:18-19 says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."

May 16, 2016

Picture post



We recently bought a new DSLR, and last weekend Jo and I went out on a photography adventure down a country lane near our house.  I snapped a few pastoral pictures.  The colors were so vivid and the sky so clear and bright and blue. 

April 26, 2016

On assorted things

Guess who came for a brief visit Saturday? Caleb, Claudia and Haylie!  We had such fun holding Haylie, watching her roll over and listening to her coo and talk.  It was great. 

And of course we had to snap a few pictures.  Dad was missing from these because he had already left to go get ready for a wedding ceremony he was in charge of that afternoon. 


Earlier this month, Phoebe and I became co-owners of our first car!  A really nice, well maintained Chevy Cavalier.  The Lord really blessed us during the whole process.   


These were the actual miles when the car became ours.  Since then we have put about 1500 miles or so on it, but it is going strong and we hope it will for a good long while. 


As a late birthday present from Joel and Christine, the three of us got to see / hear Mumford and Sons live in concert in Dallas!  What an epic night of music played by one of my favorite bands, and of course getting to hang out with Joel and Christine was wonderful!  We had a banging time, and the weather was perfect.  They are one of a few bands who sound (dare I say it), better live.  


I have recently moved things around in my room, adding some new elements, and rearranging others. 'My space' is almost perfect.  I added an open closet, so as to have my everyday clothing at hand, and to free up space in the shared closet in my old room.  That is one thing I dislike about this house.  For its size, the storage spaces are inadequate.  


The end of March, my sisters and I got to go worship with All Sons & Daughters (our favorite worship duo), up in Ada along with some friends.  What a powerful night as God moved, healed, spoke, as His presence was felt in a near way.  


Easter weekend was great!  We spent the day in Dallas with Joel and Christine, and her family.  We also were able to visit with Grandma, and a couple of our cousins.  The second half of the day was spent chilling at Christine's house, with her and her family.  She got out her hair straightener, and worked her magic on us girls hair.  I LOVE how mine turned out, and now I am hoping to buy a straightener soon.  It was a wonderful day in every respect.  From the delicious brunch we shared with Christine's family - all of it was great. 



A wise man once wrote: "What is written in these pages I suppose will someday be read by others than myself.  For this reason I cannot hope to be absolutely honest in what is herein recorded, for the hypocrisy of this shamming heart will ever be putting on a front and dares not to have written what is actually found in its abysmal depths." 

So much of my own journaling over the last decade has been the mere recording of daily events and activities, more of a log book than anything else.  But in recent years, a more visceral expression has dominated my writings, something almost borne of fury.  I don't know if I will ever share these most personal thoughts, but they are an account of my relationships, my faith, my dreams; they are sometimes shallow, often petty recollections of the passing of time.  I write to release pain, fear, and disappointment, but also to express love, happiness, and bliss.  They are an anguished mixture of blessing and cursing, a kind of paradox as I think any honest (or halfway honest) person's journals must be - the truest expressions of the heart.  


I will leave you with this thought to ponder.  

April 23, 2016

On giving up and letting go


"We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there." Pascal Mercier

"That quote is so touching, so relevant, because over the weekend, while we girls were in a strangers home, we had a long and serious conversation about our involvement in / with Equipt. We had all come, independently, to the decision that now is the time to close the door on this chapter of our lives. I think this is God's way of saying "stitch!" as He finishes the process of healing my heart, so I can go on to what is next for me."  That is what I wrote in my journal the day following our discussion with Adrean and Jessie about our decision to conclude our time with Equipt Youth ministry. 

It was with a mixture of sadness and expectation that I shared a small part of the journey towards this decision with the group Wednesday night.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, and I think my sisters would say the same thing.  We spent months agonizing, evaluating and analyzing what God was trying to teach us and tell us through this whole ordeal.  Even though no time would be a good time to walk away from something into which I have poured my soul and passion, because goodbye's are hard, and hurt people, this was the time.  

So I walk away, we walk away, not because we are angry or bitter over the whole situation, but because God has called us away, to other things.  And yes, it is hard and it hurts, but to stay would be disobedience and I don't want to fly in God's face just because it is uncomfortable or sad.  I lay awake the Wednesday night we shared our news with Adrean and Jessie, questioning if I had made the right decision, feeling all of the heart wrenching, gut punching sadness from last fall when I was so angry at God for what had happened to change our situation.  In the end though, I have an incredible reassuring peace which reminds me that I have made the correct decision, and nothing Satan tries to throw in my path will deter me from obeying God, now or ever.  

I am so grateful for all of what I have been able to experience with Equipt the last 16 months. God has shown me some incredible things, He has ministered to me through Adrean and Jessie, and the youth. I love each of you and my life has been made fuller, richer because our paths have crossed.

I look forward to the future, and as the saying goes "the best is yet to come!"

March 26, 2016

PTHD

In the "fundamentalist" homeschooling community, girls have lucked out across the board.

Denied higher education in many cases, treated as lesser wives, they are expected to make godly matches for weak minded tools of men, with whom they are allowed little to no pre-marital physical contact.

Where has this mindset gotten girls like this?  Working minimum wage jobs, forced to give up lifelong goals or aspirations due to lack of formal education or job skills, they suffer in silence, hoping, waiting for a better day which never seems to come. 

Too often these girls have been abused, either mentally, emotionally, or sexually (and in some cases all of the above), and made to feel like worthless, unlovable, failures.  What can they do with little to no "real world" experience, because they grew up captives in their own homes? 

And so from year to year they work, hard, at low paying jobs, scrimping and scraping, trying to save back money for further education, a dependable car, or an apartment of their own, all the while the grand picture of what their life would be by X-age is becoming a distant dream. 

They feel betrayed; by their moms, and dads, and brothers.  Betrayed by society in general and men specifically.  Betrayed by the church, their denomination, a certain theology or framework, and even by God. Because, if He really is a loving father, why did He allow them to be taken advantage of, molested, and abused?  Why hasn't He provided them with a good, kind man?  And what else do they have to do, to sacrifice, or give up in order for Him to bless their lives?

And so a shift happens - a slant away from anything that resembles their old lifestyle.  They distance themselves from certain family members, from their church, or a community of "friends" in order to form a new identity.  And in some cases, a rejection of God occurs, because these girls feel as if their own fathers with all of the mess they brought into their lives, are the only picture of God they know, and why would they want to associate with a tyrant like him?
Many girls have given up on the values their parents worked so hard to instill in them, because they have become a symbol of bondage, fear, abuse, and a reduced life of shattered dreams and broken hearts.  In short, they are hopeless and in many respects, helpless.

But is that where they have to stay?  Do their lives have to be a hopeless wreck?  Or can they see brighter days?  I would argue that they can.  And even though I have only personally experienced a fraction of the above mentioned situations, I still suffer from what I call "Post Traumatic Homeschooling Disorder" - but I don't want to be defined by that, I don't want that to be my identity, because I know God has much more for my life than a label.  I still wrestle with resentment and bitterness over certain decisions that were made by myself and my parents which will have a negative and lasting effect on my life.  However, I am choosing to overcome as many of them as I can, and not stay in the past with all of its regrets, pain and bad decisions.  

Four things I would urge my fellow girls to do:

1. Don't give up hope.  Even though back then seems like such an insurmountable thing to overcome, we can either choose to live defeated or to move on.  If moving on means getting counseling, or leaving the area you have lived in for years and years, if it means something radical, don't be afraid to take that step! 

2. Keep working towards the goals / dreams God has given you
This might look like getting a job, even something basic allows you to have more freedom and to build up savings so that you can do what God has called you to do.  It might look like taking some basic college classes from your local community college - don't be afraid to go take the basics, and go from there.  The basics are a great place to start.  And just remember, that no matter what others say, the dream God has placed in your heart is special to you!

3.Continue to build your relationship with God.  This might seem like a hard thing to do since you were beaten over the head with the bible for years and years, but I am finding that I need to put my roots down into God's word, for myself.  Discarding what others have planted into your heart is hard, but sometimes it is the best way to grow - clear the rubble of man's opinions and ask for God to show you the Truth of His word.  This is your most important relationship, so put time and effort into growing it.

4. Friendships are valuable, even if they push you out of your comfort zone.  Getting new friends, after you have left your former community is scary, but also highly rewarding.  I have kept in contact with a very small number of my former acquaintances, because they are good people and not from the tyrannical vein.  But, I have also benefited from forming new friendships, with folks who think alike, and those who don't.  Before I was so judgmental, I wouldn't have imagined having friends who didn't share my same convictions (I'm not talking about Faith here).  Being a snob is hurtful, not only to you, but also to possible friendships.  Be willing to set aside your preconceived notions, and explore new friendships with people who love Jesus, but don't have much else in common.  You will be pleasantly surprised and blessed by these new friends.

Most importantly, don't forget that we have Hope because of Jesus, regardless of what our backgrounds look like.  Let's never forget this truth.  

March 14, 2016

The Happy Tag

My friend over at On Solid Ground, tagged me a little while back, with the Happy Tag!  It is a fun one, where I am listing 6 things which make me happy under each category.  Enjoy. :)

Books: 

The Bible - God's mind revealed
Mere Christianity 
Aunt Jane's Hero
The Screwtape Letters
Crazy Love
One Thousand Gifts 

Words:

Hope
I love you
How are you?
Family
Finished
Hello

Movies / TV:

Sherlock
Father Brown
Amazing Grace
Persuasion
Anne of Green Gables
When the Game Stands Tall

Scents:

My perfume
Root beer
Freshly cut grass
Rain
Roses
Babies

Songs: 

Matter (For King & Country)
You Will Remain (All Sons & Daughters)
Your Glory / Nothing But the Blood (All Sons & Daughters)
Slumber (Need to Breathe)
He Knows (Jeremy Camp)
O Holy Night

Misc: 

Babies laughing
Library visits
Volleyball with friends
Cards and letters
Succulents
Home  

February 23, 2016

Jesus: A Good Luck Charm or Lord of All?

Ever noticed how easy and popular it is to *call* oneself a Christian but not prove it by one's actions? 

Yeah, I have too. I'll give you some scenarios:

Drove in my Jesus-bumper-sticker-laden van to the local theater to watch [insert trending horror film]. 
Gave money to that homeless person under that bridge. But I yelled at my brother when he begged me to give him money to buy some penny candy.

At the grocery store on the way home from work, wearing my favorite "I Am Second" t-shirt: I'm growing impatient, and start muttering to myself about how slow the line is. When it's my turn to check out, I practically toss my money at the cashier and fail to say "thank you" for their assistance. 

Just posted my 108th selfie on Instagram along with some Bible verses. (This one really steps on my own toes.)

Photo courtesy: Phoebe Kautt
 We go through our lives, giving little thought to the possible damaging consequences of our actions against our Christian witness. 

I've thought a great deal about this whole topic since I first began reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book, "The Cost of Discipleship," He made some punch-in-the-gut statements about the lives of Christians. One such section,



"But do we also realize that this cheap grace has turned back upon us like a boomerang? The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized Church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost....Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which was holy to the scornful and unbelieving. We poured forth unending streams of grace. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard....Was there ever a more terrible or disastrous instance of the Christianizing of the world than this? What are those three thousand Saxons put to death by Charlemagne compared with the millions of spiritual corpses in our country today?"

Note when he mentioned the 'spiritual corpses' in our country. I can't think of a better way to describe the condition of our nation, honestly.

Photo courtesy: Phoebe Kautt
This land is filled with people who claim to be Christians, but in reality they have just baptized or whitewashed their secular, hedonistic lifestyles with the name 'Christian'. In effect, we've turned Jesus into a 'good luck charm' when we are in pain or distress. Our own personal genie to Whom we send all our wishes and desires.

But Jesus requires so much more. He doesn't want us to carry the name 'Christian'--anyone can do that. He doesn't want us to just believe (as good as that may be)-- "even the demons believe and tremble" (James 2:19). He doesn't just want to be our Help in time of trouble.

Don't get me wrong:
  • We, as Christians, are supposed to wear that name ('Christian') boldly, and use it as a catalyst to unashamedly proclaim the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
  • Belief is good-- in fact, "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6). And in 1 Timothy 6:11 we are told to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (emphasis my own) But it's not enough. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26, but particularly vs. 26).  
  • Calling on God in our distress is perfectly Biblical, too (Psalm 50:15). 
The real problem is when we don't allow our faith to saturate every area of our lives.


"God didn't give you the strength to get back on your feet so you can run back to the same thing that knocked you down."  What impact do we as Christians have when we allow ourselves to be conformed to the image of the World, instead of the image of the Son? The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2, warns against such a lifestyle,

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jesus portrayed the way to discern spiritual corpses from true Believers: 





Jesus hasn't called us to look or act like the World-- to look or act 'normal'. In fact, Jesus' own life was shrouded in abnormality. Among other oddities, He didn't have a home (Luke 9:58), wife, or children, and His own family thought He was insane (Mark 3:21).

Recently, one of my church's leaders, Stewart Bolerjack, gave the communion meditation. I found several things he said to be quite profound, so I quote:

"To be a Christian means that we have given our lives and our spirits

to God, that we willingly throw away whatever comes between us and God,

and that we have told the world that God is more important than anything the

world can offer. That’s unusual, not normal, and we may pay a price for it,

but that’s who we are: we’re 'not like them'." 




The World sure offers a wide range of 'delights': education, careers, riches, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.
But as Solomon said, "all is futile," (Ecclesiastes 1:2). None of that has eternal significance. None of that stuff grants us an eternity in heaven with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

"Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26)

"Let us hear the conclusion 
of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work 

into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil." 

(Ecclesiastes 12:13,14)