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Friday, December 12, 2008

What does real Christianity look like?

What does real Christianity look like? I have made the decision to follow Christ, but what exactly does that entail? What did Jesus really mean when he said things like, "whoever of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple..."? What does it mean to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God? How much of Christianity is denial of self? Does being a Christian mean becoming like Jesus (who spent his time with thieves and liars, had compassion on the poor and the social outcasts, and accosted the rich and comfortable)? Or does Christianity just mean to pray a prayer and be a nice person? What exactly does it mean to be a Christian? If people in other countries are becoming Christians, and they are losing their lives for it, are they the real thing, or are we? None of us here in America (or even in Europe) seem to be in any danger of losing our lives for being a Christian. So which of us is the real thing? What is the real thing?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I struggle, too...

Though my other blog posts may give the impression that I have it together and I'm just sitting here criticizing Christians, that is certainly not the case. I am simply a Christian with some very real struggles who is questioning the way we do some things. I have struggled with the same things that I question in Christianity. I wonder if God can use me because I mess up so much. I get discouraged because my arthritis and back problems keep me from being able to do much. I tell God that He should use someone else because I am not as talented as so-and-so. But God is teaching me that the way we often look at things is messed up. So that's why I am here--to share what God is teaching me and to help others gain a fresh perspective on what Christianity is all about.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What really matters in life?

I’ve wondered for a long time what the best thing to do with my short life is. Sometimes I’ve thought that there really isn’t anything worth living for. And there isn’t--at least not in this world. But recently, over these past few months, I’ve been discovering what really matters in life. It is not fame, not popularity, not good looks, not brains, nor talents, nor anything else that this culture that I live in applauds as ‘most important’ in life. It is not "smart" by our standards, nor is it conspicuous and lauded by many. What really matters is God. Our whole existence here on earth revolves around knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him, trusting Him, and making Him known to others. It has been said that the only things here on earth that will last forever are God’s Word, and the souls of men. And it is true. God’s Word, according to Hebrews 4:12, is, "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Also, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or messenger] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16) God’s Word is Truth, and it is Truth that needs to reach the hearts of all men, that they may know Him and believe in Him. I am coming to realize just how much I take this Word, these Holy out-breathings of God, for granted. I have the Truth in my own language! But there are so many who don’t! They don’t know the Truth, so the truth can’t set them free! They are bound in darkness, without someone to bring them the light of God’s Truth! I will go to them. They are hungry, they are searching, they are groping in the darkness, and I know the Light. By the power of Christ in me, I can be a vessel for His glory to share the hope of the gospel with them. I think it just hit me. Up to this point I have not fully understood what being a missionary is all about. I just thought, "There’s no way that I can do this! I don’t have what it takes!" But I just realized that its not about me. I am simply the jar of clay that hides the glorious power of the Holy Spirit. I just die to myself; I surrender my rights, my life, my all. And God’s Truth (aided by His Spirit) goes forth into the hearts of the people and brings forth fruit. His Word will NOT return to Him void. It will accomplish His purpose. He will draw them to Himself. My part is simply to lay myself on the altar, as a living sacrifice and let Him use me to spread His Truth to the world. Here Am I, Send Me. I am ready and willing to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Which way is right?

What a world I live in. Here, if you have talent, good looks, a witty tongue, a quick mind or lots of money, you are deemed valuable. We stand and applaud you and try to emulate you, saying that you must really be living your purpose. We think you have it all. Here in this upside-down world, I can be popular with others because of the witty things that I say. I am considered talented because I can play a few chords on an instrument and I can act like someone else on a stage. I could have a future, they say, in drama and/or music. I might be able to become a doctor. I could succeed at most anything that I put my mind to, or so I’m told. I have what it takes, according to them.
But what if their world isn’t reality? Sure, it may seem "smart". But what if there’s more to life than following your dreams, having fun and living for yourself? What if the best choice is not the "smart" choice? Is it possible to leave the "smart" world behind and tread an almost forgotten path full of hardship and trials? Is it possible that being "smart" and carrying yourself through life with your talents and brains is not the best choice? That maybe jumping into the deep end and relying on God’s grace to get you through is really the way to go? That in leaving it all behind, you will find more than enough? That when you die to yourself, to your dreams, to your hopes and plans, to your reputation, to your gifts, to your possessions, to your family and friends, to your comfort zone and to your very can really start to live? Renounce all that you have...take up your cross...die to yourself...and follow me. That’s what Jesus said. But that’s not "smart"! Well, God uses the weak things to confound the strong, the foolish things to confound the wise. Maybe living in your ‘sweet spot’ is not all there is to life. Maybe there’s a different path to walk. Maybe you can jump into water deeper than your skills...maybe you can face challenges bigger than your strength. Maybe you can go farther than you can...maybe you can do things that you can’t. Maybe you can be part of something so much bigger than yourself. Maybe all it takes is faith in no bigger than a mustard seed.