Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

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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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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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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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Life is a Short-Term Mission

February 10, 2010

My mid-life crisis starts at thirty. The older I get, the age I am seems so young, but thirty shakes me. What am I doing with my life? The Lord leads me to the scripture He gave me when dad died, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10.

Dad flew away at seventy. What is seventy years? A blimp? A flicker? A tiny spark of life in the scheme of eternity? Yet I often live my life like I am promised seventy years times seven. We are not even promised one more day.

Several years ago Francis Chan came to speak at our church revival. He took out a long rope that expanded from one end of the large stage to the other. He told us to imagine that the rope did not end on either side. It always was and will continue on forever. Then, on the long rope, a small red piece represented our lives. That’s it. Our lives are a small red smug on the long rope of eternity.

In my small red piece of rope I call my life so far, God has sent me on many travels to different places to encourage cross-cultural workers for the Gospel and to lead short-term teams to support their work. I love to travel and often fell a sense of deeper intimacy with Jesus when I am out “on the field.” This is, until recently.

When we prepare short-term mission teams, we talk about walking by the Spirit, staying F.A.A.T. (flexible, adaptable, available, and teachable), and utilizing every moment and situation to be a light to the community around us. Then we return home and are confronted with responsibilities, bills, jobs, family, appointments, and the F.A.A.T. principle seems to evaporate.

Recently I made a conscious decision to put relationships before tasks and to try to move by the promptings of the Spirit rather than the task list of my responsibilities. To be F.A.A.T. every day. God knows those things need to get done.

On one particular day, I had my “to-do” list.: grocery shopping, laundry, errands, etc. Mom calls. We talk for a few moments and I sense the Spirit tugging at my heart to give her a visit. Okay, laundry won’t get done today.

After visiting with mom, a friend calls. She needs a listening ear. I listen and pray. Then, on my way to run my errands, another friend needs to meet up and talk. Okay. We meet, we talk, we pray. Now it is 5:00 and I did nothing on my task list.

As I drove home, the thickness of the presence of God filled my car like a worship-filled sanctuary. “This is what I feel like on short-term mission trips,” I told the Lord out loud. Suddenly, before I could even finish my reflection of thankfulness to Him, it came. “Life is a Short-term Mission Trip.” Wow. You mean I can live with purpose and fruitfulness, joy and the power of the Spirit, the ministry of the Gospel and the fulfillment of living life for Him every day? Yes. Every day. Every day we choose who we are to serve: our schedules or our Lord. Sure. Laundry still needs washed, but amazingly, as we yield to Him, he gives us plenty of time to do it all.

So too. As I look upon the brink of motherhood, I hear all kinds of jokes and warnings how life as I know it is over, but living in the light of eternity… living every day as a Short-term Mission… life as I know it is only just beginning!