Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

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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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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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Fruit of the Spirit

December 6, 2009

Galatians 5:22-25

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

For the past 9 weeks my church studied the fruits of the Spirit.  Last night as I listened to the final sermon of the series, I could almost see the cartoon light bulb appear over my head.  “That’s it!”

God blessed me with a sensitive heart.  I say it is a blessing because with this heart I am able to feel and care in ways otherwise not possible.  However, my greatest strengths sometimes are my greatest weaknesses.

Just a couple weeks ago I sat on the living room couch, where I am writing this now, and wrote out my list of “things to do before baby comes.”  One of them needed to have a particular date and time and I needed Jason’s involvement, so I asked him, “How about Sunday, February 7 from 2-6?”  Silence from the kitchen.  Was he mad?  Did he hear me?  Are Sundays too stressful for him after serving at the church all weekend?

“Or we could do Saturday before you go to work?”  Silence again… and then a response.

“Let me just think about it for a little bit, okay?” He replied.

Less than a moment later a flood of tearful rejection poured through my eyes.  “I am just trying my best!” I thought to myself.  “All I needed was a simple answer!”  I got up from the couch and double-timed it to our bathroom.  I grabbed the roll of toilet paper and just bawled and bawled.  The crying session lasted for three hours!  Jason lovingly tried to give me comfort, but I could not be consoled.  From the outside someone would have thought catastrophe or tragedy.  Nope.  Just impatience.

When I confide in friends about my emotional escapades they say, “don’t worry.  It’s the hormones.”  Yet as I sat in church this weekend, the light of God’s Word illuminated the truth.  Hormones or not, the impatience, selfishness, sadness, anxiety, and lack of kindness or goodness are something the Spirit of God in me can overcome.  Is the Spirit powerful enough to sustain Jesus Christ our Lord through the temptation in the wilderness, but not the temptations of my heart during pregnancy?  I think not!

What did Jesus use to combat the attacks of the enemy?  The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God! (Matt. 4 & Eph. 6)  I am encouraged to know that although my emotional escapades are a by-product of my humanness and even some of my strengths, the Spirit of God can transform my heart to live out all the promises of a life controlled by His power… yet it still feels good to have a deep cry every once in a while. 🙂