How Not to Be Popular

Witnessing for Christ can be a romantic notion for the uninitiated, but it’s a painful reality for those who do it.

If you witness for Christ, you will also suffer for Christ.

That was my experience as a brand new Christian.  photo(44)

I was so excited about finding Christ that I naively believed all I had to do was mail everyone the same book that God used to lead me to faith. So I ordered 80 copies and mailed them to every family member, friend, and neighbor I could think of. To my dismay instead of having people appreciate me, and thank me for my thoughtfulness, I got their anger. Lots of it. To this day there are some family members that won’t stay in the same room with me if we are alone for fear I might bring up the subject of Jesus.

At a recent family reunion where 120 people were present, there was only one family of four that were Christians. I had been praying for these people for more than 30 years! I expected a lot more to know the Lord.

Then in church on Sunday I was reminded of Noah. Only 8 people were saved and the rest of mankind drowned in the flood.

Clearly God isn’t in the numbers.

Peter makes it clear in his first epistle that if you witness then accept suffering as part of the package because you’re living in a world that wants nothing to do with Jesus. Hatred and persecution are the norm. Noah was ridiculed for 100 years while he preached and built the ark. He was the only preacher in his day. Imagine how he felt. Ultimately Noah and his family were vindicated. They were the only ones saved through the flood.

So while I hate suffering and loathe being ignored and avoided by anyone, I know I’m in good company with Jesus and his apostles and host of other saints down through the centuries who have been faithful to stand for God.

What about you? What’s been your experience in witnessing for Christ?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Awful Struggle of Prayer

If you’re like me, you want to know you’re praying biblically and in a way that pleases the One who saved you.

Also, if you’re like me, you struggle with your prayer life. I do all the time. I spend way too much time praying for things that are important to me to the neglect of things that are important to God.

What’s important to God? It’s certainly you and me and our burdens, but it also includes the whole body of Christ – the Church at large. IMG_7835

Most of our brothers and sisters in other countries don’t fare as well as we do. Most barely make ends meet, many have no homes, a lot of them are ill, mistreated, malnourished, persecuted, and in jail.

And what about the hundreds of missionaries serving in obscure outposts nobody has ever heard of? Those who never write a book or a blog? Who prays for them?

You and I may not be called to the field, or to live deprived lives, but we are certainly called to pray for one another.

Here’s a prayer not only for yourself, but for the body of Christ that God will answer:

“Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see myself more clearly and free me from the bondage to myself. Replace my self-deception with your truth. Enable me to understand what you’re showing me when you convict me of sin. Help me to survive the filth of my sin when you show it to me. Help me to be grateful for the revelation. Remind me you do this so I can delight in Jesus who paid the price for that sin.

“Lord Jesus, I pray the same for my brothers and sisters all around the world so we can, together as one body, be more humble and dependent on you and delight more and more in you who rescued us from this world, the flesh and the devil. Enable us to know you more deeply and with greater love and thankfulness. Amen.”

If this resonates with you, talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

Does God Love You When You Sin?

How often are you disgusted with your life of faith?

If you’re like me, very often.

I seem to live in unbelief more than in faith.

Even as a Christian I live my life as if God didn’t exist.

I don’t take him at his Word.

I’m impatient waiting for the fulfillment of his promises.

I’m so far away from rejoicing in his goodness and faithfulness it’s disgusting.

The stunning fact is that while God hates sin and grieves over the suffering we endure in our lives, he is not angry at us!

He doesn’t hold grudges, he doesn’t bring up the past, and he certainly doesn’t abandon us to figure things out on our own when we’re at our worst.

How can I say this?

Because of the gospel, of course.

Think theologically with me for a moment.

Does God have any negative emotions towards Jesus? Does he get fed up, exasperated and lose patience with him? Does he get angry and walk away?

Absolutely not. God has nothing but delight and love for his Son. He adores him.

And God delights and adores you and me, even when we sin!

Read that again. It’s true. dance

Jesus paid for those sins. God doesn’t see them anymore. He has wrapped us in the glowing white robes of his Son’s perfection. We are united to him in all that he is, and Jesus’s perfect record of faith and patience and obedience is now ours.

God’s scandalous love in Jesus makes us dance and sing, even in our weakness and failure and sin!

Soak your heart in this truth today.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Sin?

I was in the office kitchen this morning and a co-worker asked me, “How are you?”

Without thinking I usually say, “Fine.” Nobody really wants an honest answer. The few times I’ve tried it, the other person feels responsible to respond in a meaningful way, and who has insights to give that early in the morning when you can barely pour a cup of coffee? So I’ve learned to answer in a neutral way. wool

But this morning I said, “I’m rejoicing that all of my sins are forgiven.”

And that opened up a beautiful gospel conversation.

I continued, “Did you know your sins are finite in number, and God knows every one of them, and they were all forgiven in Christ from the moment you were born?”

That lead to other comments about the wonderment of what God has done for us in his Son.

God purchased your soul before you were even conceived. Ephesians 1:4

God saw every one of your sins before you existed. Psalm 139

Each one was completely paid for before you committed any of them. Ephesians 1:7-10

Even those you haven’t committed yet, every one of them is already paid for, atoned for, and you are declared forgiven.

You’ve been forgiven in Christ from before the foundation of the world right through to eternity. Ephesians 1

What scandalous love!

Questions: How does that truth impact your struggles with sin today? How does it change your concept of who God is?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Perfect

If you are in Christ, you are loved, washed and cleaned up.

You walk around in the perfection of Jesus.

Since he never sinned, neither have you!

Not only that, God sees you as never having had a sin nature!

Meditate on that for a while.  photo (90)

Even in your worst moments when your life is in chaos, and all you know is failure and weakness, you are still in Christ and perfect!

Where you fail, he has obeyed perfectly for you.

Where you sin, he has paid for it on the cross.

When you are embarrassed and feeling ashamed, he has succeeded for you.

Barbara Duguid writes in her book, Extravagant Grace, “That means you are free to struggle and fail; you are free to grow slowly; you are free at times not to grow at all; you are free to cast yourself on the mercy of God for a lifetime.”

While obedience makes God happy, loving and delighting in Jesus, who has given you his perfect record even in the middle of your messy life, makes him happier.

Duguid goes on to say, “Repeated failure does not mean you are unsaved or that God is tired of you and disappointed. It does mean he has called you to a difficult struggle and that he will hold on to you in all your standing and falling and bring you safely home.”

Wow!

That’s breathtaking.

Take that with you this weekend.

And the rest of your life.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

A Funeral Is Better Than a Party

I attended a funeral yesterday for a church friend who died last week.

I was struck by this thought: Funerals are better than parties.

Why would I say that?

They remind me that I, too must die.  funeral

We all have expiration dates, but we don’t like thinking about those.

But it’s good for us. It forces the subject even for a little while.

The mortality rate has always been at 100%.

It doesn’t change from generation to generation.

We cannot mastermind our own exits.

That’s because there’s a time to be born and a time to die, and God holds the calendar on both.

So today is the only time we can be sure of. The past is gone, and the future is not certain.

Now is the time to renounce every hope of saving yourself and turn to the One who saved you. He did it 2,000 years ago on a cross outside Jerusalem. His name is Jesus and he paid the penalty for your sins and mine so we could be forgiven of our sins and given life.

That’s why you need a funeral.

We need that reality slap in the face.

According to Ecclesiastes, life under the sun doesn’t end well.

But life over the sun ends in triumph. It’s called eternal life and it’s a free gift if you believe in the work of Christ for you.

Won’t you take that step today?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

From Slave Trader to Singer

I know. This makes two quotes in a row. This one is outstanding, too and so I wanted you to have it.  John Newton

“We want victories without conflicts and the crown without fighting for it. And while we lament many evils, we overlook the chief of all – the impatient workings of self, which wants everything it’s own way. We are, we must be, sinners while we remain here, but if we are sinners believing in Jesus we may rejoice and sing. We must fight, we may be wounded, but we cannot be overcome. We may complain to the Lord, but when we write or speak to our fellow Christians, we should encourage each other and say, ‘Let us love and sing and wonder.'”

- John Newton (1725-1807)