Why Tomorrow Could Be Too Late ~ Death and Jesus

You think it won’t happen to you, at least not yet. Death.

But it happened to a friend of mine just last night; a fellow blogger and most of her family passed from this life to the next as their home burned around them.

You think you have plenty of time.

As I prepared my children for bed this evening, we read a chapter from one of our Trailblazer books about the Salvation Army. This particular story happens to be about two orphans who sought refuge from the faith-based group.

And I thought of my friend Mandy’s surviving children, how they would be going to bed this evening for the first time without any parents. My heart broke for them all over again.

Without thinking about whether it was a good time or not, I told my kiddos about my friend’s tragic death right then and there. We talked about and prayed for the surviving children who I am sure feel left behind. My daughter even asked if we could adopt them, which brought a small smile to my face.

We talked about Jesus and how happy I was to know my friend and her family were now in Heaven even though I’m shocked and saddened to realize she will no longer live in this world.

Her death is the most recent in a string of deaths that have occurred in our lives this year.

And I keep thinking, all day long, we just don’t know how much time we have left.

I’m thinking of a man who sat in front of my church-planting husband and I last week, a man who heard the gospel clearly explained, a man who told us he knew he was headed for Hell. But when we asked if he was ready to accept Christ as his Savior, he responded with an honest, “No.”

He’s not ready. He thinks he has more time.

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I’m thinking of another man who recently passed away, a man who was laying in a hospital bed, a man who would never return to his earthly home. This man, this father, he too heard the gospel message, but this man said “yes” to God. And I’m confident that he now resides in Heaven.

I’m remembering a woman we spoke with a over a year ago now who has attended church her entire life, but when asked if she knew she was going to Heaven, her best answer was, “I hope so.”

I’m thinking that lost people are all around us here and wondering what are we really doing, I mean really doing, to make sure they have that same opportunity to know Jesus Christ?

What have I done here in this space to make sure you have that opportunity, too?

You think you have plenty of time…. until you don’t.

Life is fragile and temporary, but a vapor in the wind (James 4:14).

So in light of my friend’s unexpected passing, I’m appreciating my spouse more, and I’m holding my children tighter and telling them how much I love them.

But, friend, there are things in this world that matter even more than love for family and friends, things that matter beyond this life and for eternity.

So all day long I;ve had this burden to tell you what you need to hear most in the world.

God loves you and it’s His greatest desire to have a relationship with you. He created you for a purpose.

But sin creates a gap that we cannot overcome on our own.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23

We like to think of sin as the really bad things – like murder and rape and theft, etc. But sin is anytime we choose our way over God’s way. It’s missing the mark of perfection, and I don’t know about you, but I know for certain I am not perfect.

According to the first part of Romans 6:23, the consequence of our sin is death, separation from God both here on earth and for all of eternity.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23

The Good News, also called the gospel, is that God desires relationship with us so much that He made a plan for our redemption. He provided a substitute who would pay the price of death for our sin – His one and only son, Jesus Christ, who bled red on the old rugged cross so that we might live!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8

Not only that, but Jesus didn’t stay dead. No! He rose again, proving his power over death and His ability to keep the promise of new life (1 Cor. 15:1-8).

Here’s the part some of us fail to understand – we cannot earn salvation on our own. We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen many who falsely believe that they need to clean their acts up first and then come to Christ.

That’s putting the cart before the horse, friend, for two reasons.

First, we can never be “good” enough or righteous enough to please God on our own.

Second, we need Jesus to help us make changes in our lives. It’s only by allowing Christ to work in and through us that we can be the people we need to be, the people we were created to be from the beginning of time.

Are there broken areas in your life?

Do you struggle to overcome addiction?

Do you seek help to forgive others and heal from old wounds?

Do you wish for whole and healthy relationships?

Do you feel like a failure who can’t seem to do anything right?

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Christ alone is the answer to those struggles. He alone has the power to transform us from the inside out!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

But that power is only for those who accept Him. Accepting Christ means acknowledging your own sin problem, and recognizing and believing in Jesus as the only solution.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Rom. 10:9-10

The Bible is clear that salvation is as simple as a choice to believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to reconcile yourself with God and to ask for forgiveness. There are no magic prayers to pray, no special words – just a confession that you are a sinner in need of saving, and that you believe Jesus alone can save you.

Let me offer another word of caution. Many people falsely believe that they have faith in God when what they really have is just a belief that there is a God. The two are not one and the same.

According to God’s Word, even the demons believe that God exists, and they recognize that Jesus is the Son of God. Yet we know they will not receive eternal life in Heaven. Instead, they will remain separated from God and destined for Hell.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Mt. 7:21

Real faith in God is characterized by a belief that you are a helpless sinner, and a personal trust in Jesus’s work on the cross as a payment for your sin. Real faith humbly submits to Jesus, the son of God.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

If you are a visual learner, then please watch this video for a clear explanation!

The truth is that none of us are guaranteed even another hour, and this is one decision you cannot afford to put off.

I’m asking you, friend, do you know Christ?

If you’ve never put your faith in Christ as your Savior, would you do so today? I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have – email me at jstults@beingconfidentofthis.com .

If you’ve already taken that step to trust Christ, are you living out His plan for your life? Are you telling others of the Good News?

Because the truth is that it could happen to you; in fact, someday it will happen to you.

Use your time wisely, friends.

Live a life that matters.

Jen

For more on this subject, please visit these trusted sources:

How to Begin a Relationship With God

How Do I Become a Christian?

Who Is God and What Does He Have to Do with Me?

 

 

 

On Good Friday ~ Grace and Truth Week 12

This week has been busy, busy, busy. I’m sure many of you can relate! Last Saturday we finally walked the 5K race I’ve been working toward. I’m so thankful for all of you who prayed for strong knees and good health. I did, in fact, get a cold from our children earlier in the week, but it wasn’t bad enough to affect me in any major ways.

Yes, the hill was just as big (BIGGER!) than I remembered, but I was thankful for my “training” because I knew I could do it. I had to keep reminding myself of that fact, and keep focusing my eyes on the few steps in front of me instead of the distant top. :)

We finished in decent time, considering the freezing temps and giant hill. I look forward to scheduling another 5K to keep us on track!

One thing that has been on my mind often since our break last week is Good Friday. I’ve been reminded over and over again of the suffering Jesus endured and the power for abundant life that resulted from His sacrifice.

So, I really enjoyed Heather’s post this week – a poem about Good Friday and our perfect sacrifice.  Be sure to stop by her blog, My Overflowing Cup, and check it out!

I hope you all experience Jesus in new ways this Easter Sunday!

Jen :)

 

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How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself this morning, sorry for my family, too.  It hasn’t been the Christmas season we expected or wanted, and I’m left wondering: how do you give your kids a good Christmas when nothing seems right in your world?

We’ve spent the entire month of December ill now.  Influenza spread slowly from one family member to another.  Several children ended up with  infections. My asthmatic lungs were hit hard and our physician threatened me with hospital time.

Thankfully, it was just bronchitis and not pneumonia.

Just bronchitis, ha.

A pharmacy worth of medicines clutters our kitchen counters still – fever reducers, cough meds, antibiotics – you name it, we probably have it right now. Or at least that’s the way it feels. :)

Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...                  How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

Then, this weekend during our church Christmas program practice, our middle boy began complaining of stomach pain. By the time we had removed costumes and were ready to leave, he was on the floor curled up in a ball, crying. It frightened me because he is our tough cookie, the kid who rarely complains of pain.

So, when he started to scream that his stomach hurt, I left immediately for the closest ER!

We spent a day and a half at the hospital under observation, with many people praying – the world over. The surgeon mentioned appendicitis, but his symptoms didn’t fit exactly. Finally, his white blood cell count dropped, his pain subsided and we were able to go home.

We were overjoyed!  He talked about playing with his little brother and sister and how happy he was to come home in time for Christmas.  I grinned in the front seat, glad to have my funny, enthusiastic boy back. We were almost home.

All seemed right in the world again.

And then, suddenly it wasn’t.

Our oldest son woke in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. Then, I got sick and so did he.  On top of that, the only little one who didn’t already have an ear infection complained that his ear hurt.

I’ll admit, friends, my heart travelled straight from rejoicing to complaining because it’s almost Christmas and it just doesn’t seem fair, really.  Our children were only back at school for a week, and already ill again!

How can you give your kids a good Christmas when everything goes wrong?

How?

I know I’m not the only one struggling for joy right now.  In fact, I’m certain that many of you are experiencing trials much deeper and more painful than ours.  If I really knew the depth of them, I’d probably be ashamed of my own complaining.

And maybe you’re a mom like me who doesn’t really mind so much for herself, but for the kids!

Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about life circumstances.  Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of loss or separation from loved ones. Maybe your finances are in such a state that you don’t even know where your next meal is coming from.

Maybe you catch hold of joy for a few moments only to  quickly lose it again.

Whatever your lot might be this Christmas, know this: you can still give your kids a good Christmas.

You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance.

You can give your kids a good Christmas in spite of pain, loss, broken relationships, and whatever other trials you might be experiencing.

You can because He came.

Luke 2

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He came!  Emmanuel, God WITH us – that’s what Christmas is really about. Christ, the Hope of the world, in human flesh, for love of our wandering hearts.

We have to let go of this expectation of holiday perfection and embrace the reality that human life is flawed, messy, painful, even at Christmas.

Christ came right into the midst of that mess, born in a stable – there’s nothing clean about that.

You want to give your kids a good Christmas?

Let go of the worry.

Embrace Christ.

Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...      How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

Show them Hope, Love and Peace.

Teach them of the Savior who willingly left Heaven’s splendor to suffer alongside us here on Earth. That’s a Love like no other, my sisters in Christ. He chose us. He chose pain. He chose death, so that we might experience life in abundance.

He did it for you, for me, for them.

He did it “for all the people.”

The wonder of Christmas has little to do with presents and food and fun.

The wonder of Christmas is the keeping of a thousands-of-years-old promise, hundreds of promises, really.  The wonder of Christmas is Christ.

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Do you feel it, friends?

The joy of Christmas is spreading right through us.

It cannot be contained. The whole of creation leaps with joy – He is born! Promise fulfilled, salvation at hand, redemption nigh. Hope in human flesh.

How to Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Is life turned upside down right now for you? And it seems so much harder because...it's Christmas? You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas by...

Here’s how to give your kids a good Christmas: tell them the story of Jesus.

It’s the only thing that truly matters.

Clinging to hope and joy along with you this Christmas season,

Jen :)

Also sharing with: Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Mom’s the Word, Wholehearted Home, Missional Women, Tell It To Me Tuesdays

Confidence Born of Chaos

If you are a faithful follower, you’ve probably noticed that the new posts on Being Confident of This have been few and far between lately. I apologize!  I feel as if I’ve been in an extended period of wrestling with the Lord, like Jacob.

I vacillate between patient waiting on my Redeemer and repeated attempts to escape this difficult lesson.

This season of trial has been just that – trying, and at times I feel so keenly the attempts of the Enemy. I don’t want to bore you with a list of everything that has added to our burden lately, neither do I wish to complain about our temporary trials.

“When it rains it pours” and Noah’s storm lasted 40 days and nights with weeks of patient waiting to follow, right?! :)

But in this time of waiting on the Lord, I’m also learning.  One of the things I’ve been learning is to let Him have control of everything, including the words that end up published here.  And He seems to be telling me to stay silent often lately, to be still, to simply listen and wait for Him.

So, while I’ve been resting at His feet, waiting and listening, I’ve thought a lot about the title of this blog: Being Confident of This.  What exactly is it that we are confident of?

Typically we think of confidence as a quiet and calm assurance. Ironically, confidence is often born of chaos!  In those times of trial when we'd love to...    Confidence Born of Chaos

When I first claimed Phil. 1:6 as my very own, my life verse, I did so because I knew I struggled with perfection, since as long as I can remember.

This verse offers comfort to those who, like me, know their desire to please the Lord, their desire to do right, maybe even to be perfect, but they also deeply understand their own flaws.

In the beginning, being confident of this meant that I was confident God would never give up on someone like me, so flawed, so imperfect. I was confident He would keep His promise to carry out the “good work” He began in me.   It also meant that someday I would be free of the chains of perfection!  Hallelujah!

I have no words to even begin to describe what that means to me – that because of what Christ suffered, I can find freedom!  In fact, because He suffered, I am now a co-heir with Him, positionally perfected by His blood.

As I’ve grown in my Christian walk, especially in the intensity of these last few years, I’ve begun to learn another kind of confidence, the kind of confidence born of a certain amount of chaos.  I think this lesson in confidence first began about 5 years ago, when we discovered we were expecting twins!

I knew myself, my desire for my agenda, and my impatient nature.  Although I’ve been a baby-lover from a very young age, I sincerely doubted my ability to handle twins, especially after the frightful toddler years with our second-born, strong-willed ball of energy and enthusiasm. :)

Yet, the Lord carried us through every hurdle we faced, even when… our babies were born six weeks early and ended up in the NICU. Even a few months later when our infant son began to have seizures.  Even when we lacked money for necessities.

Even when we faced developmental delays, and head-shaping helmets, and corrective eyeware,  and one specialist after the other, etc.  He’s been faithful every step of the way!

A few years later, when He asked us to say yes to moving… wherever…like Abraham going forth into the desert with no destination in mind, He remained faithful.

We truly didn’t know what we were saying yes, to, but it just so happened that we said yes to leaving a comfortable job with benefits for a full-time ministry position that required a move, albeit thankfully a short distance.

We waited for a year, with half of our belongings packed away, for Him to sell our home so that we could move to our new community.

He proved faithful every step of the way, providing a place for us to stay when we were temporarily homeless (thanks, Mom and Dad!), a place for our belongings to be stored, furniture for our growing family, a better mower for our bigger yard, and the faith and boldness to jump into a new-to-us church with its old-to-them problems. :)

I was so excited about where He was leading us that I temporarily forgot the pain of moving and the insecurity of building new relationships.  How can an MK like me forget such things?!

But I did.

And then I remembered…when winter came… and loneliness settled around us.  We mourned the loss of friends, the comfort of familiarity, the quiet of just “being” with family.  Even then, especially then, He showed Himself faithful.  He carried us through that darkest winter and right into the hope of spring!

And now, now I feel we are in the midst of the Refiner’s fire again.

It’s painful, but also beautiful.

Even here, right here in this tough spot that seems to last for eternity, He is faithful.  He does not leave me, nor forsake me.

He reminds me of my blessings.

He reminds me of His promises.

He reminds me of His faithfulness.

Most importantly, He reminds me that I belong to Him.

Great is His faithfulness, time and time again. That’s what confidence is beginning to mean to me, my sisters in Christ.

I’m confident that He will see us through this current set of circumstances.  I’m confident that even though my faith may at times falter, it will never fail.  I’m confident that when I am weak, He’ll be my Strength and when I am poor, He’ll be my Provider.

And when I just need to be held and comforted, He’ll be my Rock.

faithful one, Great is Thy Faithfulness

That’s a confidence worth keeping, right?  Let’s not throw it away.

If you find yourself struggling as I have been, cling to this truth, friends.  He is faithful; we can be fully certain of that.

When the road ahead looks to be too dark and you find yourself fearing, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When the burden grows so great that you want to throw it off altogether, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When you find yourself stumbling and sorrowing over sin, remember His faithfulness and be confident.

Be confident of this…

that the God of the Universe who walks by your side is the Faithful One.

And that you, you belong to Him.

Jen :)

Truth, Opposite of Lie

“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all,” right?  Maybe not. For Five Minute Friday, Lisa Jo asked us to write about the word truth. Honestly,I don’t have any great new truths to share with you today, just an old truth that I need to hear over and over again.  It’s part of that work-in-progress me, I guess.

I like the words on this blog to be uplifting, but this week I’m not in an uplifting place.  Instead, I find myself in a let’s-be-honest, sometimes-life-stinks place.  I know you understand because sometimes you find yourself there, too.  And I’m learning to be okay with that.

So, here’s the truth, even though it might not be very nice.

Truth.

This is the week that never ends.

The one when my husband and I cannot seem to get along. ;)

The one when I feel so worn down by life that even simple, everyday chores like laundry and caring for children seem to carry such weight.

And I feel like such a whiner for even writing those words because I know, I know, I know the truth, the truth that so many people have it so much worse, and that I… I live a blessed life in many, many ways.

It’s just that this week has left me feeling so discouraged and lonely and needy, and it’s just not me!

It’s a lie, this feeling that I’m stuck, that life will always be difficult this way, that I can’t……

That’s the biggest truth and biggest lie all wrapped up in one, isn’t it?

I can’t.

The statement is true in a sense.  On my own, I can’t.  On my own, the strength is gone, the patience is gone, the desire to do right is gone.  On my own, I want to bury my head in the sand and stay there waiting for better tomorrows.

But “I can’t” is also a lie because I’m not on my own.  I’m in Christ.  And in Christ, I am more than a conqueror.  That’s right – more, sisters!  In Christ, I am already victorious.  In Christ, I am also fully loved, fully accepted, fully provided for, fully complete.

In Christ alone, my Hope is found.

In Christ Alone, hope, encouragement

Truth.

It’s the opposite of the lies I’m tempted to listen to.

In Christ, I can.

And it comes down to my choice, and your choice. Which one will we give ear to today?

I pray it’s truth.

Jen :)

Love this music from Mandisa for a boost!

I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew over at Lisa Jo’s place, where we free-write for five minutes on a one-word prompt – no stressing, no over-thinking, no planning, no editing.  Join us!

You may also find me linked up at any of these lovely blogs.

Like a Proud Big Brother: Your Identity in Christ

One day after our seven-year-old’s soccer game, he waited in line at the concession stand.  The rest of the family waited a few feet away, arms full of camping chairs and water bottles, ready to head back to our trusty minivan.

I watched as our son’s easy grin lit up his face while he talked animatedly with a teammate behind him.  His team had remained undefeated, and he was on cloud nine!

He called out to his younger brother to join him.

As the four-year-old brother bounced closer to him, our middle son’s smile widened and his eyes crinkled.  He bent down to the younger’s level

“This is my brother, ” he told his teammate.

“Say, hi!” he encouraged the four-year-old.

Pride shone forth from his face as he talked about how he teaches his younger brother and sister how to “do sports” and how they listen to him and do what he says.

This conversation totally changed my perspective on Christ and how He feels about people like me!  He's like a proud big brother who just can't wait to show us off. Such encouragement for those days when we feel utterly worthless.      identity in Christ, Christian women, women of faith, devotional thought, our relationship with Christ, Christian encouragement

 

He put his arm around the four-year-old in a protective and possessive way, completely pleased to be the big brother.  “Gimme five,” he instructed.  The younger brother gladly obliged and bounced back to where the rest of the family waited.

Then, he called over his younger sister, also four, and the scenario played out all over again. She giggling and he smiling in her face.  Her quick wave to the teammate was cute and girly.  She, too, gave a five and then pranced back to join us.

I listened as our son and his teammate continued to converse. “So, they’re like your minions?!” the teammate asked, impressed.

“Yeah, pretty much. They’re my minions.” Our seven-year-old nodded his head.

As I laughed quietly, I realized how true it is.  They are his minions.

They trust him.

They listen to him.

And most of the time, they do his bidding.

But he also cares for them.

He helps them.  He plays with them.  He loves on them.  He gives things to them.

And when his friends are around, he introduces them with such beaming pride that you would think he birthed those two four-year-olds himself!

I didn’t think much more of that overheard conversation until later that week when I attended a Beth Moore simulcast.  She spoke on grace and law, how we often trust grace for salvation, but we fail to trust it in our everyday lives.

 Instead, we walk as if still under the law, guilty and defeated, when we could be living free and victorious!  We so often neglect to embrace our identity in Christ.

At the end of the day, Beth brought our attention to the fact that we, who are in Christ, are fully accepted by God; there is nothing more or less we can do to “please” Him.  Then, she ended with a speech given to us, one phrase at a time, to repeat to a partner.

It was a speech of words about who we are in Christ, and a speech about how Jesus would present us, His sisters of inheritance.

As I spoke the words aloud to my partner, I suddenly recalled my seven-year-old’s beaming face.

And I. was. undone.

Because that’s exactly how Jesus feels about each one of us, my friends!  

He’s the proud big brother; in His eyes, we are something to be joyful about.  

That’s our identity in Christ - that Someone is proud to have us in His family, proud to call us His own!

Jesus, our brother

Just imagine it with me now:

With a smile on His face, He calls you to His side, slings His arm around your shoulder, and proclaims for all to hear

Father, this is my sister.  Isn’t she great?

Look how beautiful she is!  I love her so much that I willingly gave my life for her, covered her sins in my blood.

She is infinitely precious to me, a daughter of the King.

The Father smiles back at Him and nods in agreement.

The Christ-brother holds out His hand for a celebratory five.

And the angels rejoice!

Let’s live from that identity in Christ, friends.

Because we have a proud big brother.

And His name is Jesus!

Jen :)

To read Beth’s commissioning prayer (and other goodies from the simulcast – like the Grace Poem), click here.

Grace-colored Glasses

 

Have you ever felt like an epic failure?  Have you felt stuck in old patterns that you just can’t seem to overcome?  That’s how I often feel when it comes to my marriage.  But this story is the moment when I learned to put on Grace-colored glasses and see myself through them.

………………………………

Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again.  He just won’t leave me alone.

He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord.  Some days I can ignore him and others I can’t escape. And I know it’s Perfectionism and not the Holy Spirit because of his voice.  He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”

I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different…

The location of this post has moved!  To read the rest, click here.

Be a Transformer

Have you ever put off saying (or posting) something because you feared the repercussions, how it might be received?  If so, then this post is for you.  Even as I wrote it, and re-wrote it, I felt that same fear because being bold in my witness does not come naturally to me, rather it usually results from conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, I have put off posting this message for too long now, and God has  convicted me that I’m not trusting in the Him, the God “who goes before me.” I have spent hours crafting the message so that it will hopefully ring true without causing a permanent loss of hearing. :)

So I hope that when you read it, you will consider my heart (even though some of you might hardly know me).  My heart beats for God’s people and for His truth, it yearns for us all to strive toward Christ-likeness not for the sake of personal pride or satisfaction with self, but for the sake of His glory, that His name and His Truth should be known around the world!  My heart aches for the lost, those who are searching for His Truth without even knowing it.  You can blame my parents for this since I spent a great deal of my growing up years as a missionary kid. But that’s another story for another time.   Today I want to ask you some tough questions in relation to the following verse:

do not conform

Recent conversations on Facebook and other media outlets have opened my eyes to a developing trend in Christianity today.  Being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles!

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in this camp before, keeping quiet because it’s just easier.  Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being “judgmental,” “close-minded,” or “intolerant.”

While criticism from the world is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often surprises us!  We are not accustomed to being labeled (or  dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.  How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on God’s Truth is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible DOES speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of Luke 6:41-42.

speck or plank

Only God can see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart.  Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be too busy dealing with our own sin.  However, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformers.

Unfortunately, well-publicized, so-called “Christians” have recently taken a stand for their so-called “truth” in ways that ARE harsh and hateful, tarnishing our witness.  Furthermore, we have Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing others on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, adding to the world’s negative perception of us Christ-followers. While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily shove our beliefs in someone’s face with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it!  How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior and used it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery. We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence, and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.  He did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformers.  When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – LOVE and RESPECT.

prepared to give an answer

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both.  A total-grace perspective can lead to conformity, while a total-truth perspective can lead to self-righteous bullying .  Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!  Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!  Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to be a Christian? Ironic, isn’t it? :)

My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media).  Do they see a difference?  Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

power of risen savior

I know it is risky voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.  You may lose friends.  You may lose popularity.  You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental!” Have the courage that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Amen??

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming (and haven’t we ALL at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.  On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

Questions to ask  before posting or sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return?  In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth?  In other words, do you have contextual biblical support  for your message?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion?  In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? :)
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace?  In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

overcome evil for good

Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!  We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.  Don’t conform.  Be a transformer.

Because of His love,

Jen :)

You might also enjoy this post:

http://www.godspotting.net/2013/06/god-is-not-republican.html