Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What I want

Things get all turned around and upside down so quickly.  Why is that? It always amazes me that I can get so far from where I want to be in such a short amount of time. Sometimes, when I evaluate my heart, I am not who I want to be. I'm not making any sense, am I? Okay, let me try this again.

I don't want to be one of "those" Christians who make people feel bad about themselves. I don't want to make it my "job" to make sure that people understand how "bad" they are. I don't want to be angry about people's sin or blatant disobedience to God's Word. I don't want to puff out my chest and pride-fully say "well, what comes around goes around."  I don't want to focus on where someone has BEEN or what they've DONE. 

I want...what do I want? I don't know how to put it into words. I want to be honestly heartbroken over sin.  I want to be someone who makes people WANT Christ and I want them to want Him NOT because of how bad they feel about themselves.

I want people to want Christ because of how GOOD He is....not because of how bad they are.

I mean, I was well aware of how wretched I was when Jesus drew me to himself. No one needed to tell me all the many reasons I was a bad person. The well meaning people who DID tell me how much I needed Jesus really just made me feel worse about myself. That didn't send me running to the cross. Honestly, that just made me want to give up and die.

Catching a glimpse of how GOOD Jesus is sent me running to Him.

I want to be the sort of person that people are drawn to. I want to be characterized by warmth and caring and understanding. I want to be trusted and trustworthy. I want people to feel comfortable around me. I want to offer hope and comfort...not condemnation and judgment.

At the same time, I am burdened by the sin in people's lives. I want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and scream, "Don't you see what this is doing to you? Don't you see that you are in bondage? Don't you see that this sin is what is stealing your joy and peace?" Goodness, my chest started aching just thinking about it.

So, there is the conflict. I want to show the love of Christ and share the message of Christ because I do believe that Christ is enough. I know that I don't want to be another hateful, judgmental Christian. At the same time, it burdens my heart to see people bound in sin. Still, if the goodness of Christ is what drew me to Him, then I have to believe that the goodness of Christ will draw others to him.

It is so easy to get caught up in how wrong "the world" is. It is easy and it makes me feel better about my own life because I can always find people who sin differently and more blatantly than I do. But comparison isn't the point, is it? The point is to share Christ.

I want to find the balance. I want to live so that there is no question about where I stand with regards to sin. I want to live and speak so that anyone who is around me sees and hears Christ in me. I don't want to be angry and bitter about being a Christian. I don't want to tell everyone what I "have" to do or what I "can't" do. I don't want to keep a check list of things that make me "good". I just want to follow Christ and let Him work in me and thru me. I want Him to fill me up so that HE spills over into my conversations. I want Him to fill me up so that HE spills over onto the people in my life.

That seems pretty simple.

Father God,
I mess things up so quickly. I want to do the right things and say the right things, but I find myself being prideful. Help me to surrender to you more every day. I want you to work in me and thru me Lord. I know that I get in the way of that. Fill me up Lord so that the people you put in my life see you in me and hear you in me. I want the people who know me to know you. I know that you can make that happen.


Monday, September 28, 2015

It's the End of the World as We Know It

Well, the Blood Moon Eclipse has come and gone and we are all still here.
It's the End of the World as We Know It (R.E.M.) ran through my head this morning. I started thinking about what "The End of the World as We Know It" could mean and what the ramifications of it would be.
Obviously, if the Earth exploded, flew off into space, or catapulted into the sun, those of us who know Christ would find ourselves in heaven. Hmmm...I guess if something like that happens, Christ would come back and rapture us first, right? Never really thought about that before.
When Christ raptures the Church, the world as we know it will cease to exist.
If there is a zombie apocalypse, the world as we know it will cease to exist. (hee hee)
There are all sorts of scenarios that are discussed here and there. Most are interesting to ponder.
In reality though, God's Word tells us that Christ will return to rapture His Church and that no one knows when it will happen.

So.... I'm thinking about something that is probably as far-fetched as a zombie apocalypse.
What if all the Christians started living like Jesus?
I know...crazy right?
Just humor me...
What if every single born again believer in Jesus Christ started living like Jesus at, say... 2:00 tomorrow afternoon?
What if we stopped chasing the America Dream? What if we all sold our houses, cars, time shares, boats, golf carts and hunting camps and used all that money to feed the hungry and house the homeless? What if we canceled our country club memberships and gym memberships and stopped eating out 3 or 4 times a week so that we don't have to work so many hours and spent more time making disciples? What if we cashed in our IRAs and 401ks and our savings accounts and used that money to care for the widows and orphans? 
What if we stopped spending our Saturdays and Sundays and weeknights at the ball fields and spent that time making disciples? What if we spent that time sharing the love of Christ and the promise of salvation with...well, with people.
 What if we stopped making excuses for the sin in our own lives? What if we stopped spending so much effort making sure that "the world" knows how wrong they are? What if we saw every person as someone who needs Christ or someone who needs to be discipled?
What if we lived like we believe the Bible?
 What if "Sunday School Answers" were our REAL answers??
 What if we lived every moment of every day with only God's agenda on our agenda?
What if our ONLY goal was to make sure that EVERYONE we come in contact with knows the saving power of Jesus?
Jesus had a zero tolerance for sin, yet people gave up everything to follow him and traveled days just to be able to hear him teach. Jesus didn't have a praise band, a projector, a 3 point sermon, a children's ministry, a calendar of youth activities or a Sunday School program and people still followed him everywhere he went. He didn't spend time making sure that they understood how bad they were. (except for the religious leaders...he had to call them out) Jesus didn't make excuses for people's sin.  He simply told them to go and sin no more. Done. End of story. Move forward. No drama. No condemnation. Just go and sin no more. People loved him and wanted to be near him.
 What if we, as his church, lived like Him?
 I'm sure it would be the end of the world as we know it.
Many days my life looks no different than anyone else's. I know I can't live a perfect life like Jesus, but I DO want to live MORE like Him. Help me to do that. Show me the things in my life that make me look more like "the world" than like Jesus and help me to remove those things or change those things so that I look more like you.


Monday, September 21, 2015

What's Your Witness Worth?

Recently, I found this little gem in Paul’s letter to Titus…

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8

See that? Read it one more time. It doesn’t say “scream and yell and protest so that you opponents will agree with you.” Paul tells us to show ourselves in all respects…to live in such a way that an opponent will be put to shame, having NOTHING evil to say about us. We are to live so that when people try to talk bad about us they realize they really have nothing to say.

As Christians, we know the things that God’s Word speaks against. The short list is found in Exodus 20 and includes “don’t murder, don’t steal, and don’t commit adultery.” There are others like “don’t gossip, don’t lie, don’t hate and don’t lust” that we don’t talk about as often … probably because most of us find them harder to obey.

There are still other things we must pay attention to; things not obviously wrong as murder.

For example, God’s Word does not say “Don’t have lunch alone with a co-worker of the opposite sex,” nor does it say, “Don’t have a glass of wine with dinner.” God’s Word does not speak specifically against lots of things. But just because we CAN do something doesn’t always mean we SHOULD.

Having lunch with a coworker certainly does not constitute adultery. Even so, it gives opportunity for someone seeing said lunch to potentially damage my witness by saying “You will NEVER believe who I saw having lunch together”. (We all know someone who loves to share such juicy tidbits)

Likewise, I can have a glass of wine when I’m out to dinner with friends.  One drink would hardly intoxicate me. Since my close friends are our church leaders, can you tell me how THAT scene would be described?  Not “I saw Kris and her friends at dinner last night.” Oh no, it would sound more like: “Oh my goodness, I saw Kris and the preacher and some of the Deacons and their wives out the other night and they were ALL DRINKING!”

(You laugh ‘cause you know it’s true.)

Is it unfair for someone to think the worst of me if they see me at lunch with a coworker or insinuate that my friends and I are heavy drinkers just because they see me drink a glass of wine? Absolutely!

Still, people are looking to us to show them proof that Jesus is still in the business of saving souls and changing lives and Satan will use whatever he can to make them believe that He is not. I believe that’s why we need reminders like Titus 2:7-8. I don’t know about you, but I make enough poor choices and mistakes for Satan to use against me without consciously choosing to do something that can tarnish my witness….even if God’s word doesn’t specifically speak against it. I want to live so that my opponents are put to shame, finding no evil in me.

So, when given the opportunity to do or say something that isn’t “wrong” but could be “questionable”, I ask myself…

“Is this worth my witness?”

Most times, it’s not.


Let’s Pray

Father God, 
Thank you for the change you have made in my life. I want to live so that others see Your love and of the hope found in following Jesus. Help me to remember that You have placed in my life who need to know You. Help me to remember the value of my witness and the power of my testimony and protect me from things that will tarnish either of them.  Help me to live in such a way that anyone who desires to speak ill of me will be put to shame.  Let my opponents find no evil in me…let them find Christ.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Trusting the Closed Door

Today you can find me on Internet Café Devotions

Door during a bright day.
People say that God closes one door to open another.  God has chosen to close a few doors in my life… and I have been known to knock on a door He closed. I might have even been known to wiggle the knob to see if it is locked. I could possibly have even used a flathead screwdriver and hammer to take a locked door off the hinges because I was SURE that God shut, locked, and dead bolted it by mistake. Perhaps I’m not the only one. PERHAPS you have done a little work on a closed door as well.
It goes something like this…

Continue Reading here

Monday, September 14, 2015

I am Afraid

Fear is an interesting emotion. God gave us fear to protect us. It’s not a bad thing. Fear creates the “Fight or Flight” reaction in our bodies. The rush of adrenaline causes us to flee danger, or fight it off. Fear gives us the strength to outrun an attacker. It gives us people the strength to lift a car off of an accident victim. Fear protects us and keeps us safe by encouraging us to lock our doors, install security lighting and alarm systems.

Satan found a way to manipulate something God created for our good into something that cripples us rather than helps us. Fear of the unknown fills us with fear and anxiety about something we can do nothing about. “What if” causes many people more anxiety than actual worst case scenarios. Satan took the fear that God gave us to help us survive when attacked and manipulated it to make us afraid of things that may or may not happen. In the worst situations, the fear of the unknown keeps people in situations that are not good for them.

I see this in abused women. They stay with their abuser because they know what to expect with him…or her. In a recent conversation with an abused woman, I was asked, “but what if I leave and I end up worse than I am now?” She would rather stay where she is and KNOW what the danger is (her husband) than to leave him and face the unknown.

I see it in people who have grown up in abuse or extreme poverty. Sometimes, the unknown is more frightening than their current troubles. Given the opportunity to have a safe and comfortable place to live, plenty of food, and no threat of abuse, they choose to stay in their current conditions. One woman told me “But this is all I know.”

I also see this same thing in new Christians. I remember being afraid that God (or the church) was going to ask too much of me. I was afraid that God was going to take away everything that gave me pleasure or enjoyment. I was afraid that I would not be “me” any longer if I totally surrendered to Christ, so I held tightly to things I was unwilling to give up and rebelled against things I felt were too demanding. Even though Christ promises life and live abundantly, I clung to that which I knew…even things that stole my peace, kept me up at night, and caused me guilt because I KNEW what to expect from these things. I did not know what to expect from God. I see this play out over and over again in new Christians. When given the opportunity, I am eager to explain that I absolutely lost the “me” I was before Christ. My ONLY regret is that I did not completely surrender to Christ sooner.

There are other circumstances where this plays out. These are just the situations I have witnessed in the past few days. In all these situations, my heart broke for women who do not see the value God places on their lives. In each situation, my heart broke for a woman who cannot see what God can do in her life. This is only one of the many ways that Satan uses something good against us.

God’s word says

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stealing thougths from a friend....

I have to share my friend Kelly's post. The message is beautiful, tender, heartfelt and much needed.
So thankful for  her and others like her who are faithful to put the cries of their hearts in print.

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All this time, we’ve been praying for the wrong people

This is a prayer for the non-controversial, invisible Christian.     For you, the one who flies under the radar. Who doesn’t cry persecution, or rejoice when another self-professed Christian trounces someone with his religion. Who doesn’t jump to conclusions or resort to petty name-calling and judgment. Who reads the Bible as a life-giving source of sustenance and not as a weapon with which to bludgeon unbelievers.     Who doesn’t even use the word “unbeliever.”     Who prays, hopes, trusts, holds her tongue, and errs on the side of love. Always love.     This is for the one who accepts those who are not like her and doesn’t let the differences threaten her own beliefs. The one whose faith is not diminished when faced with opposition. The one whose faith is, in fact, strengthened by different perspectives. The one who is never reactive, combative, hateful, or exclusionary.     The one I want to be.This is for you.

Continue Reading....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kim Davis and the God Christians Follow

A Kentucky woman named Kim Davis has been arrested for refusing to issue marriage license to homosexual couples. It was only a matter of time before someone did this. I'm sure many others have wanted to take this stand, but were afraid to. I am totally in support of Kim Davis and her choice to stand by her beliefs. I believe that if anyone at any job is asked to do something that contradicts their belief system, they should find another job. 
That's human nature and common sense.
Kim Davis is wonderful and brave and I admire her for standing up for what she believes in. 
I do wish there was more talk of WHO she believes in. That is what will make her time in jail worthwhile.
As is usually the case in situations where Christians take a stand, much has been said about Kim Davis and little about the wonderful God she serves...a Lord and Savior who changes lives and has the power to forgive sin and offer eternal life in heaven.  
We have heard much about Kim Davis, but little about the God she loves enough to go to jail for. 
The God being depicted in the news is hateful and spiteful and uncaring but Christians do not follow an uncaring, hateful, spiteful God.We follow a LOVING God who sent His one and only son to die so that anyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. We follow a LOVING God who delivered the Israelites time and time again despite their lack of gratitude, disobedience, and grumbling against Him. We follow a LOVING God who washed the feet of the man who would turn Him over to be crucified.  We follow a LOVING God who will heal and restore and give the promise of heaven to ANYONE who believes and follows Him...no matter their life story.
The God we love, follow, and serve is not hateful or mean. Our God is a LOVING Father who sets rules in place to protect His children from pain and from harm.... Just as I set rules in place for My children to protect them and keep them from harm.....Just as most all parents who love their children do. (And, most children rebel against those rules because they do not understand the reasons for them.) 

Kim Davis is wonderful and brave and I admire her for standing up for what she believes in. 

I just wish there was more talk of WHO she believes in. 

THAT is what will make her time in jail worthwhile.