Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Letting Go

   

   People quite often ask me how I feel about moving to Omaha. They know me and know that in the past I haven’t been at all thrilled about moving anywhere. I don’t always know what to say. I feel like I should be scared or worried. But I’m not. To be honest. I’m at complete peace about it.  I’m an anxious person by nature and I normally freak out about, well, everything. So why am I facing such a huge change with such peace? The answer is God’s grace. God has been graciously and gently pushing me down this path. He’s brought me to a place where I am finally ready to let go of my comfort zone.

    Even though I have peace about moving, the what if’s still creep in. It is a constant battle not to let them ruin the peace God has given me. They threaten to tear my eyes off Jesus and put them back on myself and what is familiar. The familiar can be a trap. We are tricked into thinking that that is where our security is, and the threat of it being removed can cause us to feel insecure and out of control.

    The peace I have with our move didn’t happen over night, nor did it just fall into my lap. God had to first reveal to me that I was idolizing my comfort zone and clinging to it for dear life. I was placing my trust in what I could see and touch. By His great mercy, He opened my eyes to see that my priorities were all temporal. I was (am) clinging to things that are one day going to wear out or die. It was when I realized this, that God started to shift my attention to what matters most, what is eternal.  I began to see that maybe God had something better in mind for me than what I thought I couldn’t live without. This is when I began to have peace. He was calling me to trust Him that He knows what He’s doing with my life.

    I don’t have it all figured out nor can I say I’m rid of all my idols. But I have to trust that if I keep entrusting myself to the One who raises the dead, He can deliver me from my fears and set me free. That is what I want the most. To be free. Free from whatever keeps me from the abundant life He died for me to have. I want to be able to say with Paul that “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phlippians 1:21) I want to let go of whatever is keeping me from treasuring Him above life.

    So how do I feel about moving to Omaha? I am excited to face my fears and see how God provides for our needs. I am excited to see what good things He has in store for us. I am ready to let go.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Life Worth Living

    I love the Olympics, especially the summer Olympics. My favorite sports to watch are swimming, diving, volleyball, and track and field. It is so fascinating to me to watch these people accomplish such amazing feats that I’ll never be able to do myself.

    This year I’ve found myself becoming a little envious of these athletes. O.k. maybe a lot envious. How fantastic would it be to travel the world meeting fascinating people and experiencing captivating cultures! Just being a part of the Olympics alone would be exciting.  I start to compare my life with theirs and I become discontent. I’m lucky if I get to travel outside of my state let alone my country! I’ll probably never appear on t.v. or have a medal to put in above my mantel. There’s nothing glorious about my life.

   It was with this dissatisfied attitude that I sat down to listen to a John Piper sermon this morning. He preached on 2 Timothy 2:8-19, in which Paul is encouraging Timothy to stand firm in his faith during the suffering he was about to face for the sake of the Gospel. Paul himself is writing the letter from a prison cell while chained to a wall. There was nothing glorious about either of their lives, certainly nothing to be envious of.  But I was convicted by what Paul says to Timothy, “Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. 9 I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound. 10 This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Unlike the Olympians whose glory will fade as the years go by, our glory in Christ Jesus will be eternal. Paul and Timothy sought the eternal glory that comes from pursuing Christ. They saw gaining Christ and sacrificing their lives for the sake of preaching the Gospel, as a life worth living and dying for.

    If I am seeking first the kingdom of God, my life will be well spent whether I travel the world or not. At the end of my life when I stand before God, all things done for earthly gain will be burned away. All that will remain is what I have done for His glory. No matter how big or small that might be.

    So my life may never be glorious or exciting, but my prayer is that God will use my life to further the Gospel and to bring him praise. That is the life that will bring true satisfaction and reward that will outlast any medal or earthly fame.

   2 Corinthians 4:17-18 17 For our momentary light affliction[a] is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Love your Neighbor

  

   I learned a few lessons today on how little compassion I have for the lost. I took the girls to the wading pool today, and we encountered a few children who tried our patience. One girl in particular chose to single my girls out as objects of her superiority complex. Although my girls had done nothing to her, she called them names, hit them, splashed them, and stuck her tongue out at them. I decided then and there it was time to leave before I did something to that girl that would get me in big trouble.

    As I fretted and fumed all the way to the car, I realized that I had no compassion on her soul. To be honest, I would have preferred that God send her to hell than save her.God then gently reminded me that I am just as deserving of hell as she is. Before Christ came and rescued me from the pit of darkness, I too was on the path to hell. It is only by God’s grace that I don’t treat people the same way that little girl was treating my children. My thoughts toward that little girl were just as wicked as her actions were.

    I was also reminded of the fact that Jesus was mistreated too. People beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. But instead of reviling, He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” He commands us to do the same. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

    So with a humbled heart, I asked for God’s forgiveness for my own sin. I then asked that He would have mercy on that little girl and her family so that by His grace, they would want to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

    Lord, help me to see people the way you do. Help me to have compassion on the lost, and desire their salvation, rather than their destruction.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lessons Learned from an Exercise Video

  

I love exercise videos. In fact, I’m kind of addicted to them. I wake up thinking about which one I want to do that day. Our library has an ample supply of them and I check my favorites out regularly.

    This morning I ran into a problem. I couldn’t make up my mind which video to do! What a conundrum! I am so pathetic that I did eeny, meeny, miney, mo to determine which one to do. Even then I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the one chosen. That’s when it hit me. What difference does it make! God then brought some verses to my mind, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. Colossians 3:1-3  What matters in life is what is eternal. Although exercise is important, the method I choose is of no eternal value. When I stand before God on the day of judgment, He isn’t going to ask why I chose to do The Firm instead of the Kathy Smith video.

   I don’t know about you but I am constantly stressing myself out over trivial matters. Should I wear the dress or the brown top and skirt? What book should I read next ? What should I make for dinner tonight? Should I go to the meeting tonight or skip it? I agonize and agonize over these decisions like the world might stop turning if I make the wrong one. But what I think God was reminding me of this morning was that what matters is His kingdom and His promises toward me in His word. If I choose the dress over the skirt, His love for me won’t change. If I choose to read book A over book B and I’m disappointed, He will still have a place for me in Heaven with Him.

    This reminds me of another verse. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[a] is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”  Even if the decisions we make, big or little, don’t turn out as we hoped or they appear to be mistakes, we can still rest assured that God will grant us the grace to get through it. He will bring good out of every situation, if we are abiding in Him.

    With this revelation in mind, I chose a video, did the workout, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Reason Why

 

   In my last post I stated that we don’t feel that the churches in our town take the Gospel seriously. I want to try to explain why we feel that way.

    First of all I want to state that I do believe most of the church leaders here genuinely want to see souls saved and their congregants growing spiritually. I also believe that there are many attenders of these churches who genuinely love Jesus and desire to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. In fact, I’ve talked to many such people who aren’t completely satisfied with their church but continue to attend anyways because they don’t know where else to go.

    The problem we see is that the messages preached in these churches often do not line up with the radical teachings of the Bible. The Gospel is often watered down to avoid offending people and to make it more appealing to the unbelieving visitors (unlike Jesus who offended people all the time with the truth). Not much is asked of the church either, other than that you put in your time in the nursery and join a small group. We rarely, if at all,  hear messages reminding us that there is great sacrifice and toil in the Christian life. Taking up your cross and following Him everyday isn’t a walk in the park. We often are given more reason to treasure our BMW’s than we are the kingdom of God.

    We’ve also found that politics and patriotism to America are often given more emphasis than proclaiming the Gospel, the only message that will truly change people’s hearts and minds.

    We don’t believe the church’s job is to get unbelievers in the door, entertain us, make us feel good about ourselves, and encourage us to vote for the right politician. The church’s job is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel so that we believers may be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Colossians 1:11 and “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” IITimothy 3:17

    In order to reach a lost world and see hearts transformed, we must first see and hear for ourselves the beauty of Christ’s work on the cross.  We must be filled with the hope of God’s grace and goodness, so we can fearlessly go out into all the world and make disciples. How can we expect to impact society with Christ’s love if we haven’t been given the tools to do so?

    This is the kind of preaching  we get at Grace Baptist. We leave encouraged that Jesus is worth following, even into suffering and death. We leave reminded that all of the world’s goods and promises will never satisfy us like Jesus can. We’ve never left a single church service in our town that even came close to moving our hearts in this way.

    What about you? If you attend church, do you leave feeling equipped for every good work, or reminded that in God’s presence “is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore?” (Psalm 16:11)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Changes up Ahead

      It has come to my attention over the past 9 years or so that I don’t like change. I like knowing what to expect and all things familiar. But, as we all know, life brings many changes whether we like it or not.

     A few months ago, my husband and I decided it’s time to move somewhere that has a good solid church. Where we currently live, there are no churches with preaching that, to quote John Piper, “has depth and earnestness and a sense of the weight of glory.” and “heartfelt rigor in the unfolding of scripture, which is heralded with a worshipful sense of the exultation over the beauty of God’s truth.” That’s a mouthful, but the point is, we don’t feel that the churches in Des Moines take the Gospel of Christ seriously enough.

     We found a church with this kind of depth in Papillion, NE of all places. We began attending there about 8 years ago whenever we came to Omaha to visit John’s parents. Since our first visit, we have felt the need to be a part of that body of Christ. Now we are going to pursue making that happen.

      Moving out of the only town I’ve ever called home is a big change. This is a big step for this comfort zone loving girl who thought moving 10 miles up the road was a big deal!

     God has been doing a big change in my heart (more on that later), and has opened my eyes to see that He is an infinitely valuable treasure worth taking big risks for.

     Are we crazy to leave the familiar behind and head into unknown territory? Are we crazy to give up a good job, family, friends, awesome homeschool group, etc…. to go to a fantastic yet imperfect church? Maybe, but our hope is that through this journey God will grow in our hearts a crazy love for Him that makes the things of this world look like rubbish in comparison.

      Who knows how this will all turn out, but I have peace knowing that God is sovereign over it all and will take care of us and our needs every step of the way.

       So check back soon, and I plan to tell you more about our journey to this decision as well as our journey to Omaha.

You never know what God has in store for you, just up ahead!