Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Faith without action...

Two passages speak to my heart today:  James 2:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 13:11.  In the first, Paul tells us that faith without action is dead.  This is one of the more difficult requirements of faith, for me, especially when I am making a decision.  I enjoy the safe, comfortable route to life.  The route that doesn't require much faith.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I have faith, but I get really fearful when that faith is put into practice.  You see, I have very little faith in myself.  This isn’t a humbling myself before God, either.  This is an insecurity thing.  A lie from Satan.  I fear failure and I fear making a decision.  That's all well and good when I don't have anything to fear, but having faith in Christ does mean I must put my trust in him and believe that he'll see me through.  This letting go of myself is so very difficult.  That’s where the trouble lies, in my inability to trust in myself and my unwillingness to trust in Christ. 

In my most recent decision making process I have difficulty for fear of failure and of past mistakes.  Though I have been forgiven, I worry about the wrong choices I made while not placing the creator of the universe at the center of my life, and as a result, I have wanted to isolate myself from the world so that I wouldn't fall prey to bad choices.  But our God is not the author of fear and confusion and this brings me to the second passage. 

I was raised in a Christian home and we attended church nearly every time the doors were open.  The concept that God did not exist never occurred to me and until I became an adult I had no idea there were people who did not believe in Christ Jesus.  My faith was not strong enough to withstand the pull of the world.  I was suddenly thrust into a world where the possibility of no God was not only discussed, but celebrated.  I fell hard for this way and over the course of five years I had what they call a "crisis of faith."  It was during this time that I made many poor decisions and wandered aimlessly through life.  However, 1 Corinthians 13:11 says When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  So that brings me to now.

I met Jesus.  The real Jesus.  Not the concept, but the Christ.  He revealed Himself to me and I was saved.  I met Jesus Christ and I now know the difference.  I also immediately knew my shame and where I could leave it.  There is no doubt in my mind that I have been forgiven.  There is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe conquered my shame and death on the cross, but just to be sure I didn’t mess up again, I decided I would help God out a bit and simply protect myself.  I began isolating myself to control my surroundings.  That way I didn’t mess up again, right?  That way I can remain sin-free, right?  Does it work that way?  Nope!

So now God is calling me out, again.  He granted me sweet rest and is now asking me to trust in Him for the next step.  IT SCARES ME TO DEATH, this faith in action, but “You foolish (wo)man! Do you want proof that faith without action is useless?  Our Father Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar.  Wasn’t he considered to be right with God because of what he did?  So you see that what he believed and what he did were working together.  What he did made his faith complete.”  James 2:20-22

And so I go forward. 

I thank you, Heavenly Father that I even have the right to make such decisions.  I thank you that I live in a country where women have a voice and have many opportunities.  I thank you for a husband that is supportive and wise.  I thank you for using me and asking of me.  I thank you for your provisions, your strength, your calling, your success and your discernment. Amen

Suppose one of you says to them, “Go.  I hope everything turns out fine for you.  Keep warm.  Eat well.” And you do nothing about what they really need.  Then what good have you done?  It is the same with faith.  If it doesn’t cause us to do something, it’s dead. James 2:16-17

Friday, March 20, 2015


I often say, when upset about something someone has done to hurt me, "I will love with everything I am, until you hurt me, and then I'm done."  This is not at all the truth, but when I am upset about something someone has said or done, this makes me feel more in control of the situation.  I feel more powerful over the hurt. 

But why would I ever persuade myself to believe that there is control in the UNforgiving?  That there is power in the anger, hurt, and bitterness?

The most powerful One in all of the universe runs His whole show on forgiveness.

I have been forgiven more than I can count, by both heavenly and earthly means.  So who am I to withhold forgiveness?

The One has forgiven sin so (earthly) big that I, in my sheltered life, could never even conceive of it and went to the cross for sin so (earthly) small that we've forgotten that it is sin at all, and I'm going to hold judgment and anger over misplaced words or actions from someone who is as broken as I?

What do I know of forgiveness, though?  I know nothing except that I am so in need of it.  I don't know how it is done.  I don't even know how to begin. 

Then Jesus says, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. 

Isn't it such a burden to carry around this lack of forgiveness?  It sure feels like it to me.  "I will give you rest" our Lord says.  Thankfully He doesn't ask me to get my stuff together first.  He says "come to Me and I will give you rest." We simply must go to Him and He will make in us the channel of His forgiveness. Because His is the only real forgiveness there is.

And where to begin?  The God of the universe chose to work through prayer.  Why?  I have no idea, but that is where it starts. And He is faithful and He is never-ending.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

His way...

Isaiah 55:7-9
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

""The truth, sir," I said swallowing, "is that God's viewpoint is sometimes different from ours -- so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things."" Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

God's ways are not our own.  Likely the reason we have such trouble understanding why God the Father would send Christ His son to pardon us, free of charge.  His ways are not our ways.  It is also likely the reason we struggle with grace vs works, the fact that we cannot earn our way into Heaven.  His ways are not our ways.  Or when we struggle with the belief that Christ Jesus is the ONLY way.  We like choices and we don't like to step on others' toes, but again, His ways are not our ways.

Was that repetitive?  It was meant to be.  For me as much as for anyone else. 

I love getting my way.  In fact, I usually feel that it is simply a matter of life and death to get my way (ask my husband).  I become instantly childlike when things aren't going my way.  Never fear, I have become quite good at masking it, but inside my head I am no more mature than my five year old who also believes it is a matter of life and death to get his way (only he's quite vocal about it) and when I'm willing to admit it, 33 years old and I have been vocal about my way from time to time.

If God's ways are not ours then maybe He has a different plan for me than I have for myself.  The bible tells me that He is willing to do abundantly more than I can even conceive of, if I will let Him. So then why am I so reluctant to follow His way?  Likely because it isn't what I would do for myself and because I must put aside myself for the sake of His way. 

The God's glory part isn't that hard.  I want God to get all the glory of my long as He does it my way, right?  As long as He consults me on what I want, and as long as He doesn't ask me to do anything too scary or inconvenient. 

BUT what if I gave up my way for God's way?  This way that is so alien to me.  This way that goes against my flesh and fights against my selfish heart.  What if "dying to self and raising to new life in Christ" isn't just something I say, but something I live daily?  What if...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I am weak...

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Oh how I am weak! How sensitive I am. How easily I am overwhelmed by decisions and the future and with that the danger that comes from trying to figure it out without letting God do that for me. I am weak when I need to hold everything together knowing I'm not big enough to do that. When I'm trying to make a decision and yet so afraid it will be the wrong one because I can't see into the future or when I'm paralyzed by whether or not I am going against God's plan. I am weak when my emotions take over and I can no longer see beyond them. I am weak when I want to move forward in something and yet I'm afraid I will fail. I am weak when God asks me for the pearls of my life, these pearls that I clutch in my hand so tightly. When He says, "Give Me your time. Give Me your money. Give Me your future. Give Me your marriage. Give Me your mind. Give Me your children. Give Me your womb. Give Me your past. Give Me your self-worth (now that's a big one). Give Me your love. Give Me your hope." I am weak when I try to be perfect. When I try to be all things to everyone. When I hold on to my pride. When I seek approval from everyone. I am weak when I am human.

And how many times have I expected for God to get tired of it? How many times have I prayed for forgiveness...AGAIN? How many times have I looked around the room of my life and expected that God has left the building? BUT, He never has. When faces have come and gone, there is One that has not. In fact, He's not just in the room of my life, He's holding up the room of my life. If He left, my room would crumble like sand.

So, I will delight in my weakness. For it is in my weakness that His strength shines. It is in my weakness that glory can be given to God. Because I am not my own. I do not belong to myself or to anything else God asks me to give to Him and as much as I squabble with Him over these pearls of mine, as many times as I give them away to Him and then take them back, He has always been there to receive them again. Because I belong to Him. My pearls belong to Him. My life belongs to Him. Thank you, Christ Jesus.