Sunday, September 22, 2013

Things I have been challenged with lately!

Basic summary of the sermons/passages I've been challenged by this week: We are not saved from sin and hell so that we can then just keep on living for ourselves and what this world has to offer. That is not real salvation. It's not a prayer you pray or a "moment of decision"....it is a lifetime of being shaped and molded into more and more of who God wants us to be. It's being a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1-2). It means being willing to give up all the comforts of this world because we know they are just fleeting. It means letting go of that American "entitled" mindset and realizing that none of this STUFF matters in light of eternity. If we are not willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel, we are not able to truly spread the gospel. The gospel being THIS: That we are completely and fully sinners, only capable of evil and selfishness....rescued and redeemed by a perfect Savior who loves us in spite of ourselves, and who in turn, gives us the opportunity and PRIVILEGE of living our lives truly dedicated to doing whatever it takes to share this message. Even LOSING our lives, if that's what it takes.
 How much time and energy do I devote to this? Am I considered extreme, radical, crazy, and foolish? I hope so....I pray so! Because Jesus said the world will hate true believers, and that this message will go so far as to divide even the closest of families. The truth of His Word is infinitely more important than any family relationship...or any relationship. Which am I choosing? Am I willing to lay it all down? We can't have it both ways. We can't deny ourselves AND get everything we want out of life. We can't follow Christ AND "follow our dreams"....we can't "serve two masters" (again, words spoken by Jesus!) I get so passionate about this because it has taken most of my life to realize these things, and I still struggle to overcome my desire to focus on what the world has to offer. These can be "good" things, too. But a good thing that is put before God is no longer a good thing. I praise God for the sermons He has directed me to this week and the reminder that the desires for comfort, ease, happiness, and entertainment come from a deeper desire in all of us for something greater than this world could ever offer. It's that relationship with Christ, it's the kingdom we look forward to, it's worshiping Him for eternity...THIS will be the fulfillment of those desires. One of the quotes I heard could be paraphrased that when we seek the pleasures of this world, it's not that we are overwhelmed with that desire, but that we don't desire it ENOUGH. Because the REAL blessing, joy, and satisfaction comes after this life, in the arms of Jesus, dancing for and praising the King for ever and ever. This is what we live for. This is what should get us excited every single day.....PLEASE dear brother and sister, do not let yourself be blinded by the here and now. It will not matter when we meet our Savior, so don't let it matter now!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why am I so weird?

Dear Fellow Believer (this applies to everyone who is a believer, not one in particular), my heart aches for you. I have known many people who use this title for themselves, and yet so many think we are completely extreme in the way we live. This should not be so. Nothing we are doing is that crazy....it is just reading the Bible at face value and being open to let it change our hearts, rather than reading our own agenda into it based on what we've always "known" to be true. Shouldn't we all want that? Shouldn't we all want to approach His Word with fear and trembling and the desire to be changed by the Holy Spirit? Shouldn't we WANT to grow and be different....to look in that mirror that James talks about and see what needs to be fixed? I know I am rambling and most of you think I'm just nuts and hormonal from being pregnant. I assure you that I am not....ok I am pregnant but it's beside the point. Hormones have nothing to do with it. In becoming a parent I have realized how short life is and the great responsibility I have to teach my children. Which brought me face to face with my own SELF and I did not like what i saw in that mirror. I am not perfect, I will never be. I just desperately want to conform more and more to His image. I can't explain it any other way. I did not have that hunger until about 3 years ago, and it grows deeper all the time. So yes, sometimes I go off on these tangents about convictions I have. Because they are BRAND NEW convictions. Like, first time in 30 years, smack you in the face, life altering stuff. And I guess I don't understand why you, fellow believer, wouldn't also be excited about these things. Because it's the Bible we're talking about! It's not like I made this up. It's clear as day, right there in those wonderful pages. Truth. Simple truth. Not tradition or moralism or legalism or liberalism or whatever you want to call it. Just God's Word to us. And I want to obey it. I want to cling to it. I want to be completely transformed by every single letter of every word. Do you have that desire too, my dear fellow believer? Does it overtake you, and overwhelm you, and almost frighten you that you didn't get it before? This happens to me daily. And I don't think I am better than you. Please, please don't think that! I am just completely transformed by the Holy Spirit. It's the only explanation. I am living proof that He exists, because this is all Him talking through me. Well, I pray that I'm not getting in the way, that is. Over the past few years, Derrick and I have chosen to give up so many things that we used to enjoy, maybe even idolize. Why? Because of legalism? Because we are self-righteous? Because we just really enjoy being weird? No way....it's because of His influence. And reading God's Word. We don't do holidays anymore (well, I guess except Thanksgiving, but even that one is questionable to me sometimes), and we have just cut out many other things that the Bible teaches against, but most Christians are completely fine with...in fact, many even think some of the things we stopped doing are "Christian" things. Again, no judgment or trying to be better than anyone else. But have you asked yourself WHY we do this? I'll tell you why....it's because God spoke and we couldn't ignore it. It was this aching in our hearts to follow His Word the way He wants, not just following what we like and brushing off the rest as "not that big of a deal". It is a big deal. All of it. It isn't just a "matter of interpretation" or , "well you're entitled to your opinion". This is God's Word, TO US, and we try to change it to fit what we'd like it to be. It is a lot more black and white than we realize....but we are usually not receptive and open enough to notice. And I guess what is scary and sad to me is that most Christians think we are weird. Not unbelievers, I expect them to think we're loony. But brothers and sisters in Christ think we are downright nuts! I don't get that. It is heartbreaking, really. I wish it wasn't such a lonely road, sometimes. But I am thankful. Because God is using this to teach me SO MUCH that I would have never learned otherwise. OK I'm done. I don't care if you judge me, say bad things about me, or write me off as a lunatic. Just please, allow your heart to be opened by the Holy Spirit, and approach His Word without any preconceived ideas, and you will just be amazed at the transformation. I know I am.