Archive for June, 2013

June 14, 2013

I can’t make you care.

I’m coming to terms with that reality recently.  The idea that my words, my passions, my heartbreak will not make you care about the things that I care about.  And to think that it will only leads to frustration and anger and bitterness.

I’m overwhelmed with the thought that there has to be more than Sunday mornings.  There has to be more than hanging out and enjoying the company of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  There has to be more than worship sets and sermons.  Certainly He has given us this community, but there must be more.  He builds our community, our family, that we might grow, that we might encourage and strengthen one another… and then?  Then He sends us out.

But will we go?  Will we risk our comforts, reprioritize our lives, put Him first, and in doing so, put others first?  Will we give of our time, our money and our very lives because the Gospel is true and because others need to hear it and see it?  Will I go?  And will I go regardless of who goes with me?

All I can do is go.  All I can do is pray that my words, my passions and my heartbreak put the Gospel on display.  Pray that in my weakness, His strength is made perfect.

After all, my words, my passions and my heartbreak are not mine.  They’re God’s.  They are the things He has planted in my heart and soul.  They’re a fire sparked in me by the love of my Savior.  The compassion I feel is a gift given to me by God.  All I can do is share that gift, and pray that He will bestow it upon others.

There is pain in that gift, there are moments of overwhelming grief and sorrow over the broken, lost people across the whole world.  The magnitude paralyzes me.  I cannot help them all.  I cannot save them all.  In fact, I cannot save any.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  As we preach the Gospel, He pierces hearts with words entrusted to us by God.  The Gospel is His, the words are His, the heart is His, the glory is HIS.

There are moments I’d rather run from it.  Moments that I want to slip back into the comforts of life in America.  A life of luxuries and self-centeredness.  There are moments I do, and then God, in His grace, calls me out of my comforts again.  Reminds me that He is the ultimate Comforter, and that the comforts of this world cannot compare with the joy found in serving Him with the entirety of my heart.

Jesus beckons us to lose our life that we may find it.  He calls us to abandon the things esteemed by our culture.  He calls us to live a life committed to His cause.  He calls us to preach the Gospel to a world that does not know Him.  He calls us.

By His grace, He will open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts.  He will both call us to action and give us the strength to act.

I cannot make you care.  I cannot make myself care.  But He can.

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

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June 12, 2013

A thousand times, “Yes.”

So much has gone on lately.  The ups and downs of life have been in full force and I find myself clinging to Jesus.  Holding onto Him with everything that I have because I know it’s the only safe place.  In the good and in the bad, Jesus is constant.  And, oh, how I need Him.

God is good.  He never fails.  He is sovereign.  These are the truths that I am coming to believe more fully than ever.  That everything is grace.  His ways are not my ways.  I can’t always understand.  But I will trust in the goodness of a Savior that died to give me life until the day I breathe my last on this earth… and I know that on that day I will enter into glory, eternally in the presence of the Almighty God, the One whose love is better than life.  In His presence is fullness of joy.

I’ve found myself staring difficult questions in the face lately.  Could I accept all that God gives?  Could I continue to praise Him in the face of loss, death, cancer, blindness?  Could I?

And the answer is, “Yes.”  A thousand times, “Yes.”

I’ve come to realize something: it always happens to someone else.  Until… it doesn’t.  Until it’s you.  Until you’re picking up the phone receiving horrible news.  Or you’re sitting in the doctor’s office hearing what you never imagined you’d hear.  And you cannot control it.  We don’t have control.

God does.

Now, I can’t get into all the theological implications of what that means in one post.  I know we live in a world saturated with sin.  A world that has so often run from God instead of to Him.  And God does not force us to worship Him.  He desires honest, heartfelt worship; not robotic religious “devotion”.

I know that Jesus promised us that we would have trouble in this world.  But he followed it up with some wonderful truth: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  I know that He is no stranger to our trials, temptations and sufferings.  I know that He spoke of storms coming and that the house built on the sand fell, but that the house built upon rock was able to withstand the storms (Matthew 7:24-27).  And Jesus has proven to be my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.  I will not be greatly shaken.

Whatever the coming weeks, months and years bring, I will choose Jesus.  I will take heart, because He has overcome the world.  And I will fix my eyes upon Him, the Author and Finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  And in Him, and in the truth of His word, I will find hope, strength, rest, peace and joy.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  Amen. (Romans 11:36)

June 10, 2013

What are we missing out on?

Lately I’ve noticed something in myself.  Some sin in my life.  It was something I swore that God had dealt with right out of the gate when I surrendered my life to Jesus.  But that old sin is poking and prodding and I’ve allowed it to creep up in some rather unexpected ways.  God has begun to convict me of it and to reveal how it has permeated so many areas of my life.  Through this process, I’ve come to more clearly see one of the reasons God deals with those sins in love– it has been robbing me of my joy in Him.

Have you ever come across a portion of scripture and been so filled with joy and gratitude that you just love Jesus all the more?  I love those moments.  His love, His worth, His power– they just become so clear that the only way to respond is with praise and adoration!

There are passages that I believe should be stirring that up in me.  The very word of God should be capturing my affections and drawing me nearer to Christ.  These passages should secure me in my identity in Jesus and remind me of the overwhelming, all-encompassing, mysterious love of God.  And yet… they don’t.  Instead I find myself nitpicking.  I’m trying to figure out what it “means”, when what it means is plain.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

You’d like an example, you say?  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-12:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

There is so much there to rejoice in.  So what’s the problem, you ask?

The problem is that when I read this passage I see certain “buzz words”: chose (v.4) and predestined (vv.5,11).  While these certainly won’t be a problem for everyone, they have been for me.  Why?  Because immediately my mind thinks: Calvinism and/or Reformed Theology.  Having been heavily influenced by Arminians (see: free will) for much of my early Christian life, I have a tendency to respond poorly to these words instead of rejoicing in them as I ought.  But why? (Hint: here’s where my sin comes in)… I’m fearful of what others think of me.  I’m fearful of being caught up in the “us and them”.  I’m fearful to be labeled as something or someone without even fully knowing or understanding all that lies behind that label.

Labels can be dangerous.  Not just in the church, of course, but I would say especially in the church.  I’ve become so fearful (in my sinful desires to be accepted by my peers) of labels that I’ve disregarded beautiful truths in the Bible!  These aren’t extraneous words that someone added later, and they certainly aren’t heresy.  I may not fully grasp all of the implications behind those words but here is what I know:

I am chosen.  I am predestined.  I am adopted.  BY GOD!

Isn’t that incredible?  That is really good news.  And the craziest part?  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 that I have been saved by grace through faith– not that of myself, but a gift from God.

When I fear the label and the potential alienation that comes with it, I miss out on joy.  I miss out on the gift.  I elevate the opinion of man and minimize the opinion and truth of God.

No matter where we stand on the spectrum from Calvinism to Arminianism and everywhere in between, we should never shrink back at the incredible truths in the word of God.  May scripture lead us to know God more fully and rejoice in who He is and all that He has done.

Christian, you are chosen, predestined, adopted.  And it is a gift of God, not of yourself.  Rejoice!