Friday, February 17, 2012

Possessions

I am reading through the book of Luke, and really learning a lot! This is the passage that stood out to me today.


And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:15-21 ESV)

  I could be going out on a limb here, because I know a lot of Christians who probably don't agree with me. But I think Jesus is pretty clear! What really matters in life? Having more and more stuff for ourselves? He even called the guy in this story a fool for thinking like that.

 This brings me to two conclusions. One, we don't need brand new things just to have brand new things. So....after a conversation with Derrick the other night, and then reading this scripture, I revised our baby registries.....took out a BUNCH of things that while they seemed "nice" and "handy", they were really completely unnecessary and a waste of money. If we can live without them, we really don't need them. :)

  The second conclusion is that I'm going to speak up more about things that I believe are truly, 100% Biblical. This is a big one, because it's a very common problem in America, and especially among those who follow Christ, who should be living for the eternal, not the temporary. And one thing I'm going to be more open about is one of the reasons why we want to sell our house. Yes, being out of debt is a really nice reason! But it's not the only one. The main reason is because we believe the time, energy, and money it takes to keep up a house and property could be much better put to use in serving our Creator. What good is a piece of land on this earth? Why do we need to be comfortable and have something that is "ours"? There is a much greater, much more wonderful place that we will be for eternity with Jesus. THAT is where I want to "stake my claim". That is the life I want to prepare for, and spend my energy investing in.

 Please don't get me wrong. I don't think it's a sin to own property. Or things. I just think it's important to make sure I'm constantly reevaluating how important that ownership is to me. Because I do struggle with this at times! We have lots of things that are kind of falling apart around here. One thing in particular is our yard. I often feel embarrassed at how "trashy" it probably looks to most people. I want it fixed up and pretty so people don't judge us. But this is just putting emphasis on the wrong thing. And the fact that there's lots to be done around here that isn't getting done just shows that we have made other things more of a priority. Things that matter way more than other people's opinions of our property maintenance abilities. And at the end of the day, I'd much rather have a husband who puts 110% into the ministries he's involved in than one who has a constant "to do" list of projects around the house. Of course we should take care of what we do have, and when something is necessary, we do get it done. But as long as there is a roof over our heads, who cares what it looks like, especially on the outside?

 OK, I hope no one is offended...I really, honestly write this stuff because it's what I'm learning and working through, and I want to share with others. By no means do I expect people to think the way I do.....but as for believers in Christ, I do want to challenge you to read these words of Jesus carefully, and decide for yourself where your priorities really lie. God is the only one who truly knows our hearts, it's not up to me to convince anyone! Just to look at my own heart and life and seek to bring Him as much glory as I possibly can!

 Good night, everyone. :o)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just some recent realizations...

Something hit me last night, and it was a really sobering thought. I am having a hard time shaking it, and it's causing more and more things to dawn on me that I just can't ignore. Here's the initial thought, and how it got started in my mind.
 I read a status post by Mark Driscoll, the founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. If you are interested in knowing who he is, all you have to do is Google him, you'll find tons of info! Anyway....he posted that the state of NY ruled that churches can no longer rent out public school facilities in order to hold services. For this reason, I think he said it was 68 churches would no longer have a place to meet. My first thought? Oh, that's persecution! And it is....I am really so tired of the leaders in this country taking the whole separation of church and state thing so FAR out of context, as to use it for things like this. It just helps them to justify their rebellion towards God. But, my second thought was....Wait. This is what I call persecution? When I know perfectly well that Christians in other countries are being tortured and killed for their faith on a daily basis? Hmmmm, so I guess we're not exactly suffering for our beliefs in America. Not in that way.
 Then I asked myself, "Why not?" The answer came to me very suddenly and the reality of it was sickening, stopping me in my tracks. I know the reason. And it's not a good one. Oh, you have probably heard people say that we live in this great, Christian nation, where we are free to worship God, and how that is such a blessing, and how thankful we are to have what so many other countries don't! And while I admit, it is nice to have freedom of speech and to worship the way I choose, this is not the reason why we don't face persecution in America.
 The reason is because we are collectively living a watered down, hypocritical, go-through-the-motions type of Christianity. I have been guilty of this many times, and still am, though I am becoming more and more aware of it, and am hoping and praying that God will change me! I think Satan doesn't attack believers here as much as he does other places because....well, there isn't much he needs to do. We're already doing it. We're already addicted to our comfortable lifestyles, and attending church as a hobby (meaning whenever there isn't something better to do). We are already not loving whole heartedly, not giving selflessly, and putting just about anything and everything before God. Why does Satan need to throw persecution in the mix? We are already living a defeated life, as poor representations of who Jesus is. We aren't taking up our crosses, because that's too hard, and it's much easier to just get absorbed in all that our "wonderful" country has to offer us.
 This is sometimes why I am pulled to live in another country. Of course to serve God, but there are always opportunities to serve Him wherever we are. I don't think it's only possible to serve Him if I leave the US. But, I do think that maybe it would make me a lot less comfortable, and a lot more reliant on Him. My hope and prayer is that He would change me into someone who wants and needs the things that only come from God....His grace, mercy, peace, strength, and forgiveness. This is all I need to survive. Yet how many times to I think I need this or want that? Too many times to count. It's so easy to get caught up in this culture, that screams to every single person that you need more, and better, and bigger, and newer than everybody else. But it's all lies. Derrick used to tell me when we first got married that he'd be happy if we lived in a cardboard box, because we'd still have God. I have to admit, I've struggled with that way of thinking, because it's so hard for me to let go of my comforts. But when it comes down to it, I know he's right. Living in America makes it SO hard for me to remember that, though. With every modern convenience so easily accessible, how can I help but forget what really matters?
 If you are a believer, I ask you to consider your own life for a moment. When it comes down to it, what truly matters to you? If every comfort you enjoy was gone tomorrow, would God still be enough? I ask myself this question all the time, and most of the time I am ashamed at my answer. But God knows my heart, there is nothing I can hide from Him...and He knows that deep down, I want to grow closer to Him, and to desire Him more. I'm not where I should be, but by His grace, He will teach me more and more, if I am willing to learn.
 I am sad and burdened to see our country where it is at, and that Christianity seems to be just about blended in with everyone else these days. We don't stand out because we have lost our first Love (Jesus), and we are loving things that don't matter. We live just like people who don't love God. Why would they want to believe what we believe, when there is really no difference? These questions haunt me tonight...and I hope they will have an affect on you, too, as you read this.
 I think about this all the time, and I hope and pray that the decisions I make from this point on will reflect a life of someone who loves God more than anything else. I know I will fail, but I'm thankful that He is teaching me, and hasn't given up on me! I know He never will. :o) Praise God for that!