Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

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The Gospel

June 13, 2011
The Gospel is not some pithy catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel isn’t some bumper sticker we place on our car as we join a club.  Instead, the Gospel is an invading force of light that penetrates every pore of our being until we ourselves become light so all the world might see.  It is my greatest pursuit that more of Jesus live in me today than yesterday.  That is only made possible by the provision of the Gospel.  You see, I use to SAY I believe, like some still do, but then live our lives as if the Gospel has no power.  It doesn’t.  Not in a life that believes but doesn’t embrace.  One of the scariest verses in the Bible for me is James 2:19- “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”  What is this faith then, that saves us?  It is the faith that chooses to allow Christ to transform us by HIS grace and not by our own attempts.  From death to life.  From darkness to light. From brokeness to wholeness.  From sinful to holy.  All made possible by the Gospel by which we live:  Christ lived perfect, died a sinner’s death, rose to life, and ascended into Heaven.  It’s simple… yet simply life altering.For me, the Gospel is everything.  It not only saves my soul from hell, but gives me everything I need for life and godliness.  When famine comes, it is my sustenance. When doubt comes, it is my truth. When fear comes, it is my peace.  I know that in the Gospel, I am nothing, but Christ in me is everything.  What a relief!  What a joy!  What a promise!

Sometimes I am scared at the reality of the Gospel.  As a believer I skim over the grotesque nature of sin so that I can live a comfortable life, not consumed with the depravity of others in order to penetrate my light in a way that will lead them away from darkness.  The questions we are faced with today with the ever-increasing wickedness around, the dissolution of morality, the severity of sickness and catastrophe;  I don’t have the answers for, so I often remain silent.  I excuse my responsibility by thinking “I don’t know the Bible enough, I don’t know their situation enough, I don’t want to damage our relationships.”

Well, the real only foolish thing is to remain silent on the one thing I do know.  Christ is life.  What that means in the places of sickness and poverty, I wish it could magically erase these devastations now (it will some day when Christ returns!).  But I am learning that the hope of the Gospel, the transforming nature of the Creator working in the lives of the believers; is available for anyone, even an awful sinner like me.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but for the brave.  It meets all of us where we are at and gives us the hope and purpose for it all … the good and the bad.  For the adventure He has me on takes me to uncomfortable places within my self and within the world.

The Gospel is not some pity catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel is to die to myself so that others might live.  The Gospel gives me life… the Gospel is my life.  He died so I might live… and the life I live, I live by faith in Jesus Christ so others might live.  Yes, it’s sloppy.  No, I am not perfect.  But I desire to be changed from the inside out.  No whitewashed tomb here… just an overhaul in process…. thanks to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Ashamed of the Gospel

September 12, 2010

This is hard for me to write and post publically, but I am sure others wrestle in the same way.

I have prayed for years for those I love who do not know Jesus to follow Him. I pray for God to draw them near. I pray for the eyes of their hearts to open. I pray for them to long to be close to Him. I pray many, many things. I deeply desire them to come to the innermost knowledge of the truth. Yet how deeply do I really care? How valuable is the Gospel, really? I question these things over my morning coffee cup.

I dream often. Sometimes I know it is just my quaky subconscious mixing together images in my mind. Sometimes, however, I experience distinct supernatural dreams I know come from the throne to teach me or show me something.

A few years ago one such dream came to me in the night. In the dream I knew God came to take me home to Heaven. As I surrendered to Him images flashed before my eyes like a person quickly flipping the channels on a television. I watched half-second glimpses of my life: my journey, my rebellions, God’s deliverance, and things He taught me. With every flash the shame deepened. He gave so much. He gave so much. How I wasted His investment! How many people did I petition Him for? How many times did I share the good news of His salvation?

Then even greater dread and urgency pounded in my chest. I screamed out, “What about Aunt Ferideh and Laura?” I knew they would be left behind not knowing Christ. His deep, calm, powerful voice responded, “yes, Seana, what about them?” Then I woke up. Shaken by His presence in my bedroom and the reality of the dream, I cried and cried and prayed in fear. “Lord, please show them! Lord, please show them!”

It has been four years since that dream. I have a close relationship with Laura and Aunt Ferideh, yet they still do not know Jesus Christ. I wrestle with my responsibility to love them and SHOW them Christ’s love. Yet how long? I fear for the outcome of their souls. I fear for them to be ever separated from Jesus Christ. I fear the torment that awaits for all those who reject Him. They have heard. I have told them. Yet they do not follow.

Sometimes I have this passion and urgency well up inside of me that screams in my heart, “Tell them again! Tell them again!” Then fear responds with its convincing retort, “You don’t want to push them away. You are the only person in their life that tries to follow Christ. They see. They will ask.” What is the truth in all of this? Which way do I go? How long do I pray? As long as it takes, of course. When am I to have another “come to Jesus” talk, if ever? Do I just remain diligent and steadfast in my prayers?

I have a friend who lives in a country hostile to the Gospel. People who profess Christ are tortured and killed. Yet she professes, witnesses, calls out people’s sin in boldness and love. She serves, she suffers, she cares. I want faith like that. I want to know how to proceed in drawing people to Christ. I fear two things.

First, I fear that what I say or do in my approach will turn them off from Him more than they already are. Secondly, I fear that if I don’t do anything they will forever be separated from Christ in Hell. It is like I am standing with two chains pulling each arm in different directions where I don’t move in any direction at all.

In searching the depths of my heart before the Father, I realize that part of my fear comes from being ashamed of the Gospel. How could that be? I am not ashamed! I live for the truth. I gave up my career to work in vocational ministry. I sacrifice the things of this world to follow Him.

No. I am not ashamed of the Gospel for MYSELF. I am ashamed of the Gospel for others. I am embarrassed that they have to humble themselves, repent, confess, and believe (Acts 2:38, James 4:6, Luke 13:3, Romans 10:9). I am uncomfortable that they cannot get to Heaven any other way (Acts 4:12). Why? Because out of their rejection of the truth, I feel they are rejecting me. So Jesus Himself taught us, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16).

The bottom line comes down to something a friend taught me when she had to confront me on sin in my life. She said, “I care more about your relationship with God than I do about our friendship.” So, if I am rejected along with the Gospel, I will mourn. But if I am accepted without the Gospel, I will mourn for eternity.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16).

Lord, please help me know what to do. Please use me to witness to Your grace and bring sight to those who do not see You. AMEN.

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Apron of Servitude

August 28, 2010

I walked along the beach, sandals in one hand and the Bible in the other. It’s been a long time since I strolled alone with Jesus on the seashore. I miss these days.

My heart full of fussiness, tangled in with frustration, selfishness, and pride like a ball of jumbled Christmas lights. “Where do I begin?” I asked the Lord. “Just talk.” The prompting of the Spirit within me said.

Boy did I talk, and talk, and talk. Every word made me start to feel somewhat sane again.

“Lord, I know you already know what is in my heart, so let’s just be real,” I said out loud. Passers by may have thought I was talking to myself, but I didn’t care. I’m not crazy. He is alive.

“I know that You have led me to stay home to take care of the family and to write. None of which I am any good at following through. I abhor housework, cooking is a chore, and every time I think about writing ‘the book’ I feel like a sixth grader having to write a report. I don’t know where to start, what to do, and like the deadline was a week ago. Lord, I am undone. Frazzled at all edges. I want to have joy in what you have called me to do.”

I looked up and on the brink of the cliff stood a beautiful home, cape cod style, but painted burnt ember with a stone chimney and an inviting deck. I imagined the inside decorated cottage style with mishmash of patterns that somehow meld together into a calming and therapeutic atmosphere. Drinking tea with the windows open, reading a good book or dosing off to take a nap.

“That is what I want, Lord. A break. Even if just for a day.”

“I am your rest,” the Spirit responded. “Take My yoke on you for My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

“Yes. I know that, Lord. But how? How do I find joy in the mundane? How do I yield to you instead of living for myself? I know what the secret is, but HOW?”

“Every day you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, put on your apron of servitude. In order to be My disciple, you must die to yourself and serve. It is not about you anymore. You no longer live for yourself, but for Me. I may lead you to housework all day or I may lead you to serve the church, or help someone in need, or bless you with a day to pamper yourself. The important thing to remember is whatever I lead you to do… you are a servant. No more. You are the least. No greater. Remember to wear your apron wherever you go.”

Wow. My apron of servitude. Okay, Lord. Thank You for reminding me. I am no greater than a servant.

The next morning I woke up for the early feeding, 5:00am. As I forced my eyes to peel open, I remembered to put on the apron. “I am no greater than a servant,” I told myself as I shuffled my way to the baby’s room.

Throughout the day as I tidied the house, made plans for dinner, even talked with others, the Spirit constantly reminded me that I am no greater than a servant if I want to follow Christ. For He “came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

A few days later, a dear friend stopped by the house. “I found something for you at Anthropologie,” she said. I opened the brown box tied with red ribbon and pulled out a beautiful, feminine, apron. My heart skipped, “My apron of servitude!”

I tear up at the Lord’s thoughtfulness. Yes. This lesson is from Him. Wear my apron of servitude and remember, no matter where I go, I am in service for the King. That focus brings abundant joy… even when I am scrubbing the toilets.