Posts Tagged ‘faith’

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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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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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Why I believe

June 15, 2010

So, why do I believe in Jesus?
Let me clarify. Lots of people “believe in Jesus”, but what do they believe about Him? Some say He is a wise prophet. Others say a regular man in history. I say He is my Savior from sin and eternal death, God made flesh and still living at the right hand of God in Heaven.

Why? Why do I believe such fantastical nonsense to an unbelieving world? Why do I make myself out to be a fool to the “seeing is believing” age? Why do I cast all my cares upon someone I cannot touch? To me, it is simple… I HAVE SEEN HIM!

Okay, okay. I have not seen Him in the way I may see my husband as we sit together over a meal. Yet I have seen Him in the very fabric of my life. I have seen His creative power in the tumbles of the ocean waves and in the choir song of the woods.

Yet the power that unmistakably revealed His authority and reality in my life came to me in the dark of night.

In Mark chapter one Jesus displayed Himself in person to the people in Capernaum. He taught the scriptures with authority that “not even the scribes” replicated. Yet one of the most significant “signs” of His power, in my opinion, is the power over evil forces.

Mark 1:27: …What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him.”

We all hear of the “boogie man” fears children have in the dark. I too, as a young person, battled fears of my own. My “boogie man” infiltrated nighttime dreams with ugly creatures attempting to kill me. Often I woke up paralyzed and not able to breath, without the ability to “see” my captors. These forces traveled from real spaces of unseen places and not the imagination of my mind. The thickness of evil made nighttime something I feared while I begged for daylight.

I met a Christian, a mom of one of my friends, whom I told about these night terrors. She understood the truth I explained and taught me to say the name of Jesus at the next attack, and the evil forces must flee. “For Jesus has authority over the enemy,” she said.

That night I climbed in bed apprehensive, but prepared. The dreams came along again with the choking and paralyzed wakefulness. As fast as I could grasp for enough air to speak, I called for Him, “Jesus!” Like magic, the evil pressure lifted off my body and I no longer lay captive to my tormenters. Peace replaced anxiety and I thanked God for His power.

Since then, I call on the name of Jesus to deliver me from many evils. Sometimes they disappear instantly, and other times He gives me strength and endurance to persevere, but all the while granting me victory as I trust in Him.

If I trust in His power to save me from evil, than I know I can trust He is good. So, I turn to the Bible to learn more about this good man… and find my Savior. I still can’t see Jesus as I see my loved ones, but I can see His power, which is better than seeing His flesh and more real than touching His hand. This is one of the many reasons I believe.

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Walk by Faith… Not by Sight

May 29, 2010

In the early days of Kavin’s life I saw tubes everywhere, poked into the little newborn bloated body, his chest struggling to expand with his intestines invading the lung cavity.  This was nothing like I imagined my little baby to look.  I don’t remember questioning my trust in God, nor my faith in His existence or goodness… but I lacked much faith in regards to believing in Him to heal Kavin as the doctors filled our minds with risks upon risks and unfavorable possibilities.

Jesus led me to several passages in the Word.  The first, John 9… the man born blind did not receive that infliction because of someone’s sin, but so God’s glory might be revealed.  So too, Kavin’s trial came to display God’s glory.  God’s glory through His power to heal the sick.

Another passage in John 11.  Jesus said about Lazarus, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified.”

I knew in my heart, through the confidence of the Spirit of God in me, that Kavin’s sickness would not end in death.  Then why did I despair and cry as if my God is not able to deliver on His promises?  Because what I SAW and what I HEARD did not compute.  I SAW my baby boy connected to a breathing machine, a tube down his throat to feed him, lines in his veins to administer medicines… and bags and bags of fluids pumped into his blood.  I saw a very sick little guy and God called me, by faith, to believe for a healthy baby boy.

In James Chapter One it says that those who doubt are double minded… and that if I doubt I should “not expect that he should receive anything from the Lord.”  Yet every time the doctors gave us the “worst case senerio”, I consciously fought to choose belief over dispair.

Faith… “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11) I looked to Jason to remind me daily, “we walk by faith, not by sight.”  As I grasped the truth of God’s Word and the strength only His love provides, He took my feeble mutard seed of faith and began to grow a tree where all the birds of the air can nest in its branches. (Mark 4:32)

Another mom in the NICU told me, “we just need to hold onto our faith.”  I understand her encouraging sentiment, but faith is not something to hold onto.  We can place faith in the wrong direction, such as in ourselves or in false teachings… rather, we need to hold onto Christ, “the author and protector of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)  He alone leads us beside still waters and restores our souls (Psalm 23:2-3).

I have yet to understand all the reasons God allows the affects of sin in the fallen world to cause us so much pain, but one thing I learned through my baby boy… faith in Christ can move mountains.   Like Abraham believed God’s promises for Issac, although He told him to sacrifice his son; not until I fully placed my assurance on God’s promise to heal Kavin, and surrendered my plan of how God should fulfill His promise, did I see the waters of sickness reseed and healing waters of life pour out.  Only by walking by faith, not by sight, do we lay hold of the promises of God.

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Faith Walk of Motherhood

February 23, 2010

So, just this last week in one of my moments of reflection, God reminded me of specific prayers I have prayed along this journey.  In my singleness I prayed, “God, if I will be more fruitful for Your kingdom single rather than married, then help me to be content in You in my singleness.  If I will be more fruitful married, than show me the man You have for me in Your time.”  Jason is the answer to that prayer and every day I stand more in awe of God’s perfect provision for me for a husband.  God answers prayer.

Then, as we began to talk about the possibility of “starting a family” I prayed, “God, if Jason and I will be more fruitful for Your kingdom without children, please make me like Rachael (barren).  If we will be more fruitful for Your kingdom with children, please make me like Leah (fruitful womb).”  Just a couple weeks later I starred at a positive pregnancy test.

It is interesting though, as I walked the park this week in reflection, how I expected God more so to keep me single or make me barren.  It seems, in my case, it takes me more faith to enter into these seasons than it would if God kept me from them.

Today on my morning walk I thought about some significant turning points in my life and relationship with Him.  I realized that at every defining moment, when I could not see through the fog at the beautiful landscape He prepared ahead of me, that I needed to surrender my current understanding of the path before me – in order to follow the path He would reveal.  The thought came to me as I spoke it out loud in realization, “In order to enter into the plans God has for me, I have to surrender the plans I have more myself.”  WOW.  So true.  Like a picture book quickly flipped on its edges, flashes of awesome memories came flooding through my mind, coupled with what I surrendered to enter into those blessings.

Surrendering my druggy friends in highschool, starting a relationship with God.

Surrendering my brokenness in college, experiencing His healing touch.

Surrendering a high profile career, entering ministry.

Surrendering a dating relationship with the person I planned to marry, meeting Jason- the guy God planned for me to marry.

Surrendering working in Special Events, which was my life- stepping into global outreach, where I have discovered my life-long calling.

So now… as I step out in faith in the brink of motherhood… I don’t know what to expect.  What His plan is for our family- or even the life of the little guy living inside of me.  Yet looking back I can see, that simple acceptance with joy will allow me to enter into His blessing rather than hold onto my my perception of what should be.  His way ALWAYS exceeds my expectations anyway… no matter how arduous the journey.  How sweet it is to trust in Jesus.  How sweet it is to surrender.  His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Thank you God for never letting me go!

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Each Gifted Moment

December 15, 2009

A Pastor friend of mine (who is also my boss), returned from a trip today and we had a few moments to catch up.  He asked me, “how are you?”

“I am great,” I replied. “Well, emotionally I am ridiculous, but otherwise great,” I redefined.

I explained to him my fears of letting go of my dreams to raise our baby boy.  Motherhood is a dream, but it is not the totality of my dreams.  The closer time comes to the little one’s arrival, the more anxious I become. “How will it all work out?” I wonder and wish I knew the plan.

“God give us the faith and grace we need for today, not for days down the road,” He said.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heberews 11:1).  “Do you remember when you were in college and it seemed forever until you would graduate with a diploma?  Or how about when you were in grade school and the thought of 12 years of school seemed forever.  Yet, here you are; beyond that season and onto all God planned for this season of your life.  So too, you are entering a season that will not last forever and is special and unique.  Enjoy every moment.  Plan for the future, but realize that each moment is a gift. You can’t live in the future.  You can only live now.”

I just desire to be a part of bringing the nations before the throne of God (Rev. 7:9)  Like Paul the apostle, I know as believers we are set aside from our mother’s womb to live out His will for their lives (Galatians 1:15).  Psalm 139 so eloquently declars the majesty of His workmanship as He knit us together in our mother’s womb and each of our days were numbered when one of them did not yet exist.  I can trust that He will fulfill His plan for me as a mother and as a follower of Christ.

Another friend of mine reminded me of the poem of the divine tapestry.  How all we see are the messy threads on the backside.  The dark colors of pain and sorrow, mixed with the goodness of the gold and silver.  We do not know the picture He is designing with our lives, but we do know He is the master artist weaving His grace and power through our lives so others might see His glory and believe.

I do not know what this motherhood journey will entail.  I do not know how I will raise a godly man to serve and love the Lord. I do not know how God will lead me to live out His call on my life to be a voice for the nations.  Yet I do know His ways are higher than my ways; His thoughts higher than my thoughts (Is. 55:9); His dream larger than my dream;  His plan perfect in timing and direction.  So, what to do?  Be still and know that He is God.  He will be exalted among the nations.  He will be exalted among all peoples (Ps. 46:10)… and enjoy the moments He has gifted today.