Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I love you! (now be condemned to hell)

Thought that title might get your attention. God has really been messing with me the last 36 hours about this topic. Here's the short back story...

I have a good friend, whom I love dearly, who invited me to take a look at a conversation that had been taking place via Facebook feed arguing religion. This friend takes more of a Universalist approach to god and spirituality - kind of "as long as a person is sincerely searching for some form of Deity, a loving god would let them spend eternity together" type thinking. 

After several posts back and forth, I felt like I was not getting anywhere, so I wrote, "I think you are in a place where you have your heals dug in and no matter what is said, you will just argue your point. You know what I believe and I think I get what you believe and the two are not the same. At some point, we will know we were either right or wrong. I do hope that you know that just because someone doesn't believe the same as I do, doesn't mean I don't love them. I love you!" End of discussion, right?

Well God woke me up at about 2:30 the next morning and really convicted me that really what I was saying with that statement is "I love you - but I am not willing to keep arguing the truth with you until you are no longer destined for hell." Harsh,  right?  No - SPOT ON!

I do not want my friend to spend eternity outside the presence of God. How many other people that I love fall in to this category. We agree to disagree and just don't discuss it. How selfish of me! Do I really LOVE these people or just give it lip service, because I am pretty sure that a love that would allow a friend to spend eternity in hell because it is to hard to keep talking about differences in  belief is not the kind of love I am called to have as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

In my Bible reading I just began the book of Lamentations. The children of Israel had been exiled to Babylon and after so many years hearing the voice of God through the prophets (and taking that for granted), He fell silent. It broke my heart this morning to read the pleas to hear God again. They felt abandoned and lost and alone. They cried out in anguish and got no response. 

I can't even imagine that in my worst night mares. Being separated from God - well my mind can't wrap around that. But that is what people are destined for in hell. The absence of God. Totally gone. No evidence of Him at all. Does anyone deserve that?

The Bible calls me to lay down my life for my friends, that's a pretty tall order, but if it means that my friends won't have to spend eternity in a vacuum of Godlessness - that I am willing to fight for! Lord give me the courage and the words...

Who do you need to start (or finish) a conversation with today?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Habakkuk & God - A Conversation

In my Uversion reading plan of reading the Bible through in a year, I am officially 63.3% complete. YAY! It seems however, that as I read books are being added to the old testament. Even though it is August and I have been at this since January 1, alas - I am still in the old testament. I do enjoy the old testament. In fact if someone had asked me a year ago, I would have said that I preferred it. But as I have dug in to it this year I am finding myself longing to get through it and in to the new testament. I long to get past the stories of the wrath of God (which is all deserved - don't get me wrong) and be refreshed by the stories of the way God provided to escape that wrath, my Jesus!

A bit if a tangent to start, sorry! Anyway - today I read the book of Habakkuk. A short 3 chapters about a prophet of the Lord crying out to Him while the Israelites were in exile in Babylon asking how much longer they would be there.

Three things struck me as I read this morning:
1 - Habakkuk the Prophet was a singer. at the beginning of Chapter 3 it says "This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk" At the end of chapter 3 it has this note "(For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)" I LOVE THAT!!!

2- Habakkuk remembered that even though he and his people were exiled and in misery, God is sovereign and deserved to be praised. 
 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 3:17-18

3 - Habakkuk was totally plugged in to God. This book is written as a call and answer, a conversation if you will. Habakkuk asks a question and God literally answers him. Even tells him to write it all down so nothing gets confused as the message is spread to others. I love the picture of Habakkuk sitting by his table with a lamp burning, quill in hand just waiting for the Lord to respond to his cries. Waiting because he knows the response will come.

Daily I need to remember that if I cry out to my father, he is faithful to answer. I just have to be in tune with Him enough to hear it instead of going about my busy day wondering why I haven't heard anything yet. It reminds me of times I am expecting an important phone call and at the end of the day am a little ticked that the person hasn't called, yet when I look at my phone - I realize I was so busy with my "stuff" I didn't hear it ring and I missed it. UGH! I do that. Sorry God!

Oh how I long for a relationship with God that is close enough I can hear his words clearly and write them down. To have a two-way conversation. I know I can have that, in fact, God is waiting for me to just ask Him for it. I just have to be willing to do what it takes. Stop rushing through my day to the next thing. Stop checking off  my Bible reading, proud that I am one day closer to my "goal".  (now that I am typing that - how disgusting it sounds. Having the "goal" of reading the words of God instead of counting it a privilege that He would even want to speak to me in that way!) Stop filling my life with so much noise that I can't even hear Him when He tries to speak. 

Some days I do better than others on that front, but I am wanting needing it more. I'm going for it! How about you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just to Busy!

Just to busy! I say those words all to often. But in actually living them, how much do I miss? As a busy mom of 4 and wife and full time ministry gal - the word busy fits my life. I like my life busy. I find comfort in that busy place. In fact, I would go as far as to say, I don't know what to do with myself when I am not busy. Down time is not usually my friend. 

I am not saying that much will change in the near future. To many kids to taxi and functions to attend and things to create to reach people for Jesus. But I read a blog post from the amazing Los Whit that made me wonder how many small gifts from God I miss because I am not looking for them amid the busyness.

While washing the dishes, do I pay attention to the sweet interaction my children are having with each other? While driving yet again from here to there, do I see the amazing cloud formation or the sliver of a moon that God put in the sky to help me remember He is all around me? While planning yet another worship service, do I see the hand of God moving my fingers to type a particular name or moving my heart to a particular song? 

Repeat after me - "Today I will pay attention to the little gifts God gives me throughout the day that always lead me back to Him." (and then tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next...) 

Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. Notice, Marvel, Thank, Repeat. This is one OCD tendency I would like to nurture in myself.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Jesus Really All That Great?

Shocking title I know. That is kind of the point. The shock value of that statement made by someone who claims to love Jesus with all their heart is high. It was hard to even type it.  But as I read my Bible in the comfort of my home this morning, as I pour over my music that I will bring as an offering to the God I love so desperately this coming Sunday, this is the question that came to my mind.

Is Jesus really all that great? Because most of the time, we sure don't act like it. 

I was at a conference last week and heard the story of a woman (Christine Caine) who has been called to start a ministry to rescue other women from the sex trade. (more about A21 here) She told the horrific story of a girl who had been held captive and taken to another country for the purpose of working in a red light district. This girl was one of the few who even survived the journey. She was eventually rescued from the sex trade and brought to a safe house where she encountered Christine who told her about Jesus. 

Wonderful you might say! Well, yes it is wonderful. But the girls response? "If your Jesus is so great, why did it take you so long to get here?"

I heard another story from someone just getting back from a mission trip to the jungles of Africa (literally.) They went to tell people who had probably never of heard of Him, about Jesus. When speaking to one woman about Christ and His plan of salvation, they ask her if she would like to accept Him into her life and her Lord and Savior. Her response? "Yes! I have just been waiting for someone to come and tell me how."

For me, both of those stories bring deep sorrow and conviction because more often than not, I am the one who is taking to long or waiting to tell someone about my Jesus that they so desperately need. 

It seems such an obvious thing - share the one who saved your life with anyone around you who will listen. And yet we keep silent out of fear or embarrassment, or a host of other reason we have on a long list of bad ones. 

I don't know about you, but I am always eager to hear a great story. We are transfixed by the story on the news of the man who risked his life for a total stranger by pulling them out of a burning house. We stop what we are doing to listen to the story of the hero who foiled the armed robbery with a selfless act of bravery. If you were the one in those stories who was rescued - you would be more than willing to sing the praises of your hero to anyone who would listen out of gratitude. Right?

I had the privilege of being a part of the filming of  of some awesome stories last week. Stories that made me laugh and made me cry (always the sign of a good story - right?) Stories of people whose lives have been saved. Stories of people who had no hope and now do. I am so very grateful that they decided to share their stories with me. 

Each of us has a story. I look at my story compared to some and tend to minimize the value of it because in my eyes, it is not as dramatic as some. I am coming to find that thinking that thought is toxic to me and those that God has put in my life. Just because I was not rescued from the sex trade or some other tragic situation does not minimize my story of redemption. I am a sinner, saved from a future that I surely deserved, given the gift eternal life with my Jesus forever.

I say that I believe that Jesus is "all that great" but when I hide his redemptive work in my life by not telling my story, I have to ask myself if I really believe that. 

Someone needs to hear my story because it will speak to them and maybe, just maybe show them that what they need in their life is Jesus. So I will speak my story boldly and ask God to use it for His glory. 

What is your story? It is the most important story that someone will hear for the one who needs YOU to tell it to them. 

Tell your story to someone today, they might have been waiting for you!