Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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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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Yet, I will praise Him

June 12, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines.
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock would be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

This basically sums up the first year of motherhood for me. Yes… there have been thousands of joys every day and I love watching Kavin grow. I would not exchange the divine privilege of being home with him with anything in the world, YET… it has not been easy. From his possible death the first month of life, to transitioning to full-time motherhood… there have been many days I didn’t know if I could do it.

However, it has been in my weakness that Christ REALLY has made me stronger.  He has taken my broken, crippled feet… and given me hinds feet.  Although I am still in process, I am amazed at how far His grace has brought me in just one year’s time.

I also look around at the trials I see going on: famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, disease… and I too can see in these that followers of Christ or not, we ALL go through trials of various kinds.

It seems to me that we, as the church at large, do not talk about the Christian life as one of toilsome perseverance as we pitch a rose-colored Gospel to would-be followers of Christ, but following Christ does not keep us exempt from hard times. From the pages of Scripture in the verses of Habakkuk, I can see it all clearly…

Life sucks sometimes, yet even in all the mud and mire, the Lord is our strength… and THROUGH it all (not around it all) He will make our legs like hinds feet so when calamity strikes again, we will be able to rise above it and leap from the mountain top of joy, to the mountaintop of promise.

I imagine myself writing poetry like the passage in Habakkuk. As I look at current world events, my poem may look something like this:

Though the economy may fail
And children die from starvation
Though houses wash away
And marriages dissolve
Though countries rage war over greed
And the poor remain in need

YET… I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

Jesus promises us trouble… and victory. There is no victory without adversity.  The Gospel is summed up in this… that He DIED (adversity) and ROSE (victory) from the dead!  So too will we in Christ Jesus.

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Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

June 6, 2011

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

I drove home from church and glanced in the rear view mirror to see if Kavin fell asleep in the car seat.  The warning “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” popped in my head.  Something so routine prompted a reflection.

When Kavin struggled for life the days after his birth, doctors would not tell us how long he would stay in the hospital; or when we would know if he would survive; if his lung would ever develop; if he had brain damage from the lack of oxygen.  So many questions and no answers.

A month is not a long time in the scheme of things, but when every moment, every breath is weighed with the unknowns of life, of time, of hope… not knowing how long the trial will last makes the longevity of it seem more perilous.

Yet, had I known from the beginning that he would be there a month, maybe I would have missed seeing God as clearly as I did… because I wouldn’t have needed Him as desperately.  The thing is, we never know how long a trial will last.  We don’t know what life is like on the other side of a hard season.  Is it a small wasteland or years of wandering through the wilderness?  Will we die in the wilderness or enter the promise land?

I am reminded, however, that the God who created the world and my very life, sees all that is ahead and is with me now.  He knows the boundaries of the various trials we travel through and sustains us in the moment.

I also see now that in the moment of peril, I quickly enter into jittery impatience, wanting to push through to get the hard part over with.  In that determination, I sometimes throw a proverbial temper tantrum and then laugh at myself when I realize that the closure of the difficult time was closer than it appeared.

Instead of an object, my imagination thinks:  seasons in the mirror are closer than they appear.  Life is in seasons.  Some are treacherous, some relaxing, but one thing we can be sure of, one season leads to the next.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV) Let us not get so caught up in the difficulty, that we miss making the most of the moment.  There is always something we can do to shine our light to others… even when we sit in a dark cave ourselves.

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The Light

November 13, 2010

Kavin stares at lights. They attract him in a way nothing else does. He is mesmerized.

This week our family visited the Griffith Park Observatory. I too stare at the incredible lights and displays of God’s masterpieces in the sky. Then I gaze below at the city, seemingly twinkling with decorative displays of color.

This attraction to light reminds me of Scripture. In John Chapter One, Jesus is identified as the light that shines in the darkness. In Chapter Nine, Jesus refers to Himself as the light of the world while He was in the world. However, now that Jesus is in Heaven, Paul describes believers as lights of the world. Jesus Himself in Matthew nine says, “You are the light of the world.”

As I watch Kavin stare at the lit lamp in our living room, I wonder… what kind of light do I shine with my life? Is it dim? Bright? Am I reflecting the glory of the Lord or am I saying I follow, but allowing myself to be infiltrated by the darkness of the culture in which I live?

I want to SHINE and reflect Christ so that the world may know Him because of what He has done in me.

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Suffering and Pain leads us to Life

July 24, 2010

In the quiet moments of my soul my thoughts reflect upon the suffering so bountiful in this world.  I still question in absolute trust why the Lord allows such pain and sorrow.  My spirit quivers at the thought that the Lord is restraining the boundaries of sin and death.  I thank the Lord for His grace in my life.  If He did not restrain evil, I would be consumed.

This week He brings to mind some truths from scripture and the world that begin to help me understand the way of the universe in this season of life and death comingling.

First He instructs me from Christ’s own sufferings.  His death was necessary to bring about redemption.  Suffering proceeded victory. The pain lasted a day, but joy came three days later.

Then I think of creation itself.  In this imperfect world, affected by the fall of man in the garden, pain and/or death precede new life.  Seeds must die to bear a new crop; mothers must experience pangs to birth new life; the darkness of night leads the way to the light of day.

Another example comes from Jesus’ teachings to His disciples.  He uses the cycle of death and life in nature to illustrate what must happen in our own bodies to experience eternal life that He offers. John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Paul also uses death and life to teach us about Christian living.  Romans 8:13 “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

From these thoughts I ascertain that physical death comes before spiritual life.  I am to put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh to live by the Holy Spirit.  I also see that I must die to myself in order to live for Christ.  The battle to destroy sin and death comes before the victory dance.  Tribulations and trials are here and will continue to come before Christ’s return in glory (Mark 13).  Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  Praise the Lord that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37)!

I simmer in with these thoughts as I watch Kavin nap in his pack ‘n play.  I almost forget the pain of childbirth as I watch the glory of this little life dreaming away.  Yet, I do not forget the suffering of his time in the hospital.  I do not forget the pain I felt in my heart not being able to hold him, watching him squirm in discomfort from the needles and tubes.  I do not forget petitioning the Lord on my knees in the bathroom at the Ronald MacDonald house late into the night, “Lord, please spare the son of Your handmaiden!”  I do not forget the Lord telling me to “offer Kavin to Me.  Lay him on the alter of sacrifice.”  I still do not understand why.  Why the Lord allowed our family to experience such pain. But I know that through the pain, through dying to my unbelief and clinging to Christ, through sacrificing my understanding to trust in Him… God brought about new life.  New life in Kavin’s physical body, yes, but even further, a new depth of spiritual life in me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.  His rod and His staff comforted me.

Suffering leads to life, to fruitfulness, to new birth.  I don’t understand why, but I just know it does.  I wish there were another way, but Jesus even Himself asked the Lord, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)  May we all be strengthened to endure the evil of this present age, knowing that we look forward to His blessed hope.

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Missions and Motherhood

June 20, 2010

As I step back from the activities of the church, I begin to see more clearly the disconnect existing in my life between participating in the organization of church and simply embodying the church.

I recognize the activity of missions as no longer an event or program, but a lifestyle.  My heart is called to mission, yet my body is called to the home.  How can the two meet?  How can I glorify God in the world and make His name known where it is not yet, when I am dually called to godly wifedom, motherhood, and as a “worker in the home” (Titus 2)?

Over these past weeks this question dangled in the forefront of my mind: thoughts of condemnation and lack of faithfulness plaguing my consciousness.  Do these callings, these burdens, these longings to fulfill Christ’s mission in my life: do they conflict?  How do I live out in obedience and not compromise my faithfulness in any area?

It is for this reason I turn to the Word and discover the mission of Christ is one not solely fulfilled through the contemporary programs of church.  Christians in the Word lived out their faith in the daily routines of work and family.  Disciples fished, Paul built tents, Mary raised her family, and the Proverbs 31 woman managed the home, employees, and operated her own business (made belts and sold them, bought a field and planted a vineyard).  Their mission to be a light to the nations happened as they were living out their lives as a part of the body.  Not just as they passed the communion tray or participated on a short-term missions team.

I begin to realize I foolishly mistook activity for faithfulness. Somehow, I have surmised, if I am not actively involved in the programs of the church missions events, than I am forsaking my call to mission.  If I am not traveling the globe with the gospel, I am not living out my calling to be a voice for the nations.

Yet, the Word teaches us that life IS mission.  Where ever Christ sends us: to our homes, and/or to other nations, we are to embody Christ Himself to those we encounter. Life itself is a community-transforming platform of Christ-like development.

The passion of my heart to see all people groups worship Christ remains burning in my soul and in the tears I cry in prayer.  I dream of bowing before His throne and hearing Him worshipped in every language on the earth.  I am still called to be involved in bringing the Gospel to those who do not have a Christian witness among them. The church still must advocate and send out long-term workers to transform other communities where Christ is not known.  That is our mandate as the church.  Christ is to be exalted among the nations.  No options here. (Matthew 28).

Yet a new freedom flows from my deepened understanding of mission.  I am no longer foolish enough to limit God’s mission purpose to the programs of the church organization.  Yes! He certainly uses these programs and I still enjoy participation, but they are not all inclusive for the Christian mission life.  I no longer confuse the body, called to live out His mission, with the organization created to facilitate believers.  I’m not a Christian because I go to church, nor am I a missionary because I did an outreach event.  Missional living, as Ed Stetzer says, is “to live sent: to identify with and join God in His mission to seek, save, and serve others in the name of Christ.”

I now breath a new freedom in mission.  Even if I cannot participate in all the events of my church’s mission program, I can live out mission in each activity I am involved in… from praying as I wash dishes to crossing cultures to befriend my immigrant neighbors.

After all, I could spend all my time volunteering for church activities and never actually be following Christ in His mission for my life. (Matthew 7:21).  I long to say, “I finished the work You gave me to do” (John 17:4) when I see Christ in all His glory.

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Seeing the miracle!

December 12, 2009

I struggled throughout the day yesterday. A long list of “to dos” at work jabbed words of demand, “I need to get done!” By the afternoon, I just sat in the cubicle and cried. How am I ever going to succeed in working at home, taking care of the baby, and managing the household? It is to much, Lord. It is too much.

After dinner last night I took out the laptop and wrote list upon list and schedule upon schedule to tame the wild beast of anxiety. By the time I went to bed at midnight, my to dos found no place in my dreams. Then… I woke up this morning!

As I turned to the Book of Matthew for a few words of wisdom before heading out the door, I read a familiar verse that brought a refreshing peace.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden in light.

It is simple and yet complex. I allow the yoke of my circumstances and fears to weigh me down with a load not easy to bear, crushing my spirit every step I try to take. How, oh Lord, do I yoke myself to you? I desire to rest and learn from you, yet life still increases its demands.

The Spirit answers in His still small voice. You let go. You let go of control and give me complete trust. You let go of your understanding and let me direct your path. You let go of your pride of accomplishment and allow me to accomplish My will in your life. How do you yoke yourself to me? You let go of you and hold onto me.

Then I headed out the door to a sonogram appointment. WOW! The further along I get in the pregnancy, the more spectacular it becomes. I saw our little man playing with his arms, moving his head, and even witnessed a series of hiccups (and felt them too)! The miracle I watched shed aside all fears and doubts. For a few moments I glimpsed God’s work, His masterpiece. So, I still don’t know how it will all pan out, how hard it will be or if I will be able to handle the job on top of all my other jobs in life, but my heart knows in this moment, yoked to Christ, it will be fantastic!

So, my dear friend in Christ, let us both learn to LET GO of the mirage of control and walk through with Jesus. We still face the fields of fear and the work still needs to be accomplished, but no longer is it up to us. We walk in His peace.