Posts Tagged ‘faithfulness’

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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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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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Distracted

February 11, 2010

Distracted
This past week one of my spiritual mentors and friends, Pastor Gene, told me in a strict, but gentle voice, “You need to rest. You need to focus your energy within instead of without.” That same day I came home and my husband told me “You need to rest and focus your energy on taking care of your body and the baby growing in there.” Okay, Okay! I get it, Lord! I need to rest.

But there is so much to do! The baby’s clothes need to be washed and organized, the house needs to be tidy, the laundry folded, the taxes prepared, the groceries bought, people called, work prepared…. The list goes on and on.
Once again God draws me back to the story of Mary and Martha. You know the one. We have heard sermon after sermon on it. But the words in the story are guiding me into the depths of His spirit in a way uniquely more intimate than any time before.

As I re-read Luke 10:40, I discover another layer of truth hinged on one word. Luke writes, “But Martha was DISTRACTED with all the preparations that had to be made.” DISTRACTED? Why did he not use the word, “diligent” or “faithful”? Why did he not use the word “helpful” or “considerate”? Distracted. Distracted. That word convicts me. I don’t want to be distracted! I want to be diligent, faithful, helpful, and considerate!

It boils down to the bottom line: intimacy with Christ. Does he care that there is a rag sitting on the table on the porch? No. Not really. Is it honoring to take care of what He has given us? Of course! Yet, my question remains, “how, Lord? How can I be diligent and faithful to my responsibilities and not distracted?”

It’s the heart. It is the heart intimate with Christ that breaths His life into every activity. As we live IN the vine and not BESIDE the vine (John 15). So, I am not DISTRACTED with activity, but my activity is an outflow of attention to my relationship with the Lord.

What distracts you? Work deadlines? School papers? Kids’ schedules? Getting dinner on the table? Let us work diligently to sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary did. And Jesus said, “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Then, the outflow of our hearts being knitting with His, will lead us in all diligence in faithfulness to complete the tasks HE has given us to do.  At the end, as we stand before His throne we can then say like Jesus, “I have glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.” (John 17:4)

Oh! How I don’t want to live a distracted life!

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Successful Living in Christ

January 14, 2010

I just looked outside towards the palm trees and olive trees that sit in our yard. For a moment I imagined myself as Sarah, Abraham’s wife. How I wish I could be like her! She was godly, faithful, and God blessed her with the son of promise- even though she sped ahead of God and tried to make His promise a reality in her time (Book of Genesis).

I also imagined for a moment that our property is God’s provision and direction of where to “pitch our tent.” I thought of no greater honor and privilege than to run a household and raise godly children- and for the first time I really meant it, in the depths of my heart. I know in and of myself I am but dust and not capable. Yet the Father lives in me! Something Sarah herself did not have…

Then the “to dos” rush back in and I become Martha. So focused on the task s and concerns that I miss the presence of the Master (Luke 10:38-42).

It is like static on the radio. The message is clear to me, but the overlay of noise distracts me to think my value is what I do and how “successful” I am. Yet God’s value system is not of this world. His value system is based on obedience. He asks me, “so, have you followed Me today? Not, “So, how successful are your activities?”

It is difficult to cling to the obedience when He calls us to do things that are not so honorable. It is hard for me to do housework and not get recognition, when I do church work and receive positive public response. Yet, Proverbs 31 teaches us that as we remain steadfast to serving our families, our children will rise up and call us “blessed” and our husbands will praise us saying, “many women have done nobly, but you excel them all.” It may not be a paycheck every two weeks, but it is a long haul job that reaps rewards for generations to come.

Yet the voices of this world still crouch at our doors. “You could be so successful if you just put aside the home and pursue a career! Did God give you all your gifts to spend them on your family?” The enemy taunts us women to disregard God’s calling on our lives. Praise be to God who raises His voice so we can hear Him above the static of the world! 1 Peter 3:5-7 teaches us that we can be “daughters” of Sarah if we do what is right and do not give way to fear.

In our home life and in our public life, we are to seek the peace from God. Martha in Luke 10 was not chastised for being organized or efficient, but for “being worried about many things.” It is good to be disciplined and diligent (Prov. 31), but not at the cost of allowing the noise around fill us with anxiety.

Lord, help me to live in obedience and faithfulness to You, no matter the sacrifice or leading. No matter in my private or public life. I often want You to lead me directly to the promise land, yet You lead me to the wilderness to make me holy. I want You to lead me to Jerusalem, but You lead me to Nineveh for fruitfulness. I want You to lead me to worldly success, and You lead me to humble submission to teach me dependance on You. Thank You for your patience and provision. Thank You for leading. Thank You for Your peace. Help me to be a daughter of Sarah and have a heart like Mary so when the baby comes, I will be centered in You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.