Worthy Discussions Taken Too Far {day 24}

There’s no shortage of discussions and debates when it comes to God’s children. We fill up Twitter feeds, bookshelves, and comment boxes with our perspectives on this life of faith.

But sometimes we take it too far.

We draw border lines in God’s kingdom and post “Don’t Cross” signs if you don’t agree. We prohibit community on the basis of preference.

We preach love, compassion, grace, and humility—but first and foremost for those that agree with us. Those others? They can come to the party, but we won’t really talk to them. We’ll be polite and say, “Hi,” but we won’t engage with them as a brother or sister or close friend. We might even roll our eyes and ridicule them behind their back, “How can they believe that? It’s ridiculous.” We see ourselves with the upper hand. We’re more spiritual, more free in Christ.

We hold tight to our cause, whatever it may be—baptism, church worship, pastors or elder board, discipline, homeschooling, the working out of the gifts of the Spirit, eschatology, complementarian or egalitarian, social justice, politics, home church/big church/small church/no church, and on and on.

They’re important topics worthy of humble, truth-seeking, Kingdom building discussions.

When we are willing to divide the Kingdom of God and rally behind the banner of our cause—we’ve missed it.

We’ve traded the glory of God in the face of Christ for something lesser. We diminish the Gospel for peripheral, tangential issues. If we are not mainly about Jesus Christ and Him crucified being the reconciler between us and God, then we have missed the point. Jesus didn’t come so we could set up our individual camps in the Kingdom, He came to redeem us.

If we talk about the tangential issues let it be in grace, humility, and service. Let our speech build the Kingdom, not distract, condemn, or divide. And if we find ourselves so embroiled in our cause, let us take a step back and remember

Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Share

A Time for Introspection {day 21}

I feel the tension a lot. Perhaps more often lately because my body is enduring those final days before the baby is born knowing I can’t quite commit to anything immediate when healing and accumulating are on the horizon. I have plenty of thoughts and ideas and eagerness to change my life and do good, but there are physical and financial elements holding me back.

But only in part.

Much can be changed in my heart and action can be taken in prayer and this little family. I don’t have to be on the outside to effect the kingdom of God. But I want to do both.

I really truly believe, for me and our family, our faith and grace philosophy should be active and living beyond the philosophical discussions my husband and I have. It’s just the moving beyond talking that trips me up.

But have I to come to a point where I’m willing to dive in and change my thoughts, my processing, my actions, my words, my heart or will I continue to always wonder and wish and proclaim the Kingdom in philosophy only?

Am I willing to endure the uncomfortableness of unconvicted living that self-reflection will bring? Will I loosen my grip on the world and all its pretties for something eternal?

There’s a few words I’ve perused this week that have brought up my need for introspection, prayer, and moving forward:

She Reads Truth – Just the question, how is God’s Word impacting my life? I thought about this today…I’m reading it, but how is it changing me? Am I allowing it to?

Philippians – Our pastor has been preaching through Philippians…talk about being confronted with your apathy and comfortableness in mediocre faith. Some things just can’t live as discussions.

And this,

When it is all over, what is my legacy in Christ?

Jen Hatmaker

 

Sometimes the first step is just as awful as you imagined.

But you do it anyway.

And you keep doing it, over and over, until the root of that fear is dug out of the rocky hard soil, and you are free of it at last, and I believe God is making something beautiful out of it all.

Sarah Bessey

What tension are you living in? Any action God may be nudging you toward?

***

Share

Grace Covers the Bad Days {day 20}

Today I walked around with a short fuse, that at any second, with the turn of a phrase I’d snap. I just felt annoyed and irritated.

It was the dust bunnies under the couch, the leftovers in the fridge that needed to be thrown out and couldn’t someone else just wash those stinky, nasty dishes? The homeschool room that stood neglected all week, the child who kept coming in for just one more thing when I was trying to nap, the dirt sitting by the door, and why does it take so long to wash my hair?

Important, gut-wrenching, life-altering dilemmas. Obviously.

Somewhere my attitude changed, but most of the day I just wanted to ball up with clenched fists and hide. I don’t want to be the selfish person always looking to be served, but I am. I don’t want to be the mom who would rather have her kids quiet and convenient than as they are, but more often than not, I do. I don’t want to return to the perfectionist who can’t sit still or be at peace until every dish and dust bunny is put in their proper place, but every once and awhile she shows up unannounced.

There’s always that tension between who you want to be, who you’ve been called to be and what you are. Some days you fly on graceful wings as if the Holy Spirit was breathing your every word and deed. And other days you’re dragging your fists against the ground grumbling at anyone who dares smile.

This whole faith and life and dying to self thing isn’t easy. And it’s definitely not consistent. But the only thing I can think of on moments like this is there’s grace for today. Grace for tomorrow. Grace covers the bad days and the good days.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the Father looks down and smiles, “Come on, child,” taking up my hand He leads, “let me show you another way.”

I always feel, at these moments when I’ve been knuckle dragging, that God is upset and ready to pour out a finger-shaking lecture. I stall my repentance, because I fear retribution. I forget it’s His kindness that leads to repentance. I forget He loves me even when I don’t love him—when I neglect my ambassadorial role.

There is unmerited favor for all my screw-ups and more than that, there is a loving God who is calling me to join Him once again.

***

Share

Ambassadors of a Better Country {day 19}

We are ambassadors, of the highest rank–children of the Most High, it is our purpose, our calling to share and shine the light of Christ. Our title alone alludes to our temporary station. We are but messengers of a better country.

Compelled by His love, we proclaim the Good News near and far, through the death of Christ we are privileged to be counted dead in our sins and alive in Him. This is our message, our aim.

Being an ambassador is more than a call of higher moral living—it is a call to be like Christ. It is to speak the words of Christ, share the love of Christ, minister with the hands of Christ.

Each day we wrestle with our flesh that we may die to self, “so that the life of Jesus also many be manifested [revealed] in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).

We are to be little Christs.

This newness of life we enjoy and the freedom we proclaim is because of Christ–apart from him we would still be slaves of sin.

We have been reconciled by God and we now live as ministers of reconciliation.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

We are  now mediators of Christ. In what we say, do, share, act…how we spend our money, treat other people, our goals and ambitions, the objects that lie closest to our hearts—all declare to the world the Kingdom. All should declare the message of reconciliation…that is to be our largest aim and focus.

It’s not always and we know that. At times our policy has an appearance of failure, but we have been made right with God in Christ and that will always be our sure foundation. We might have to apologize, retrace our steps, find the holes between our living and our kingdom calling, but even in this Christ has set us free.

There are no chains in repentance.

And because we live unhinged from the weight of condemnation and sin, our message can continually be

Christ died so that I may live, and now I proclaim Christ and Him crucified so that you may live to know Him.

***

 

Share

The Wandering Sojourner {day 17}

I remember the days and months after my plans fell through. Seven years of striving and straining, crashed before me. The transcript I’d perfected, the money I’d saved, the GPA that got me into a collegiate honor society, the plan for graduate school and teaching abroad…all of it gone.

It was a hard lesson that I needed to experience. I had put my worth in my accomplishments. Little by little, God was stripping me of everything I thought I was.

It was identity rocking.

And then the questions came, When are you going back to college? What are you studying in school? What’s your plan for next year? Where do you work? What are you doing now?

Regularly, I fielded these questions from churchgoers. I had to reply with the only answer I knew, “I don’t know.”

They always seemed a little taken aback. They weren’t quite sure what to do with a young 20-something who didn’t know the next step.

It was my first foray into living by faith one step at a time. It still made me uneasy. I often felt I didn’t measure up. That I was somehow lacking because I didn’t know what God was calling me to the next day or month or year. It scratched my eager itch to be like everyone else and have a well-oiled plan with alternative routes.

But I knew God was calling me out. He was breaking old patterns of self-dependence and predictability—control, really. I couldn’t return to the old ways no matter how soft and sweet they seemed. He was leading me into new territory, a new country.

If you feel lost on this journey and aren’t quite sure where you’re going…don’t fret. Leave the anxiety behind. Trust Christ. The congregations can look and wonder, they can poke and prod. They might even question your character, Why aren’t you sure and steady like the rest?

But, you?

You follow Christ.

There is purpose in wandering and not all surety is the path of God.

***

 

Share