Posts Tagged ‘peace’

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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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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.

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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.