Condition Alert!

Have you struggled like me with knowing how to respond to the circumstances in your life? How you’re never prepared really even if you think you are? And how shocking sometimes they can be and you ask yourself the question, “How did I get here?”

Well, you’re not alone. The Apostle Paul faced the same thing, but he didn’t stay stuck there. He learned some valuable lessons. He said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-12 ESV

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Spiritual Depression says, Van Gogh2

“Paul had come to learn this great truth by working out a great argument. I think that the Apostle’s logic was something like this. He said to himself:

“1. Conditions are always changing, therefore I must not be dependent upon conditions.

“2. What matters supremely and vitally is my soul and my relationship to God – that is the first thing.

“3. God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from God. Even the very hairs on my head are all numbered. I must never forget that.

“4.God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever he wills or permits is of necessity for my good.

“5. Every situation  in life is the unfolding to some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore my business is to look for this peculiar manifestation of God’s goodness and kindness and to be prepared for surprises and blessings because ‘His ways are not my ways, neither His thoughts my thoughts’. What, for example, is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that, ‘When I am weak than I am strong’. Paul was taught through physical weakness this manifestation of God’s grace.

“6. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves therefore, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.

“7. Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment they are only temporary, they are only passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me with Christ.”

It took Paul a lifetime to learn this and it will take that long for you and me, too, but we can trust God to teach us this secret of contentment while the chaos swirls around us.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

The Steady Hand of Faith

Have you asked yourself, “What is faith and how do I know if I have it?”

So often we confuse faith with feelings and when we do that, we’re in trouble.

Faith is a steady belief in Christ and the work of salvation he accomplished on the cross for you.

Feelings, on the other hand, change like the weather. One minute you’re happy, the next you’re upset.

Here are some good reminders of what faith is: IMG_8004

1) Your spiritual life is a work of God. You didn’t produce it and you don’t maintain it. See Ephesians 2: 8-10

2) Faith is your spiritual DNA. Abraham is your father by faith and you inherit all his promises. See 1 John 3:9

3) Faith is life from the dead. God’s work in you, not what you do for God. If you think you roused yourself from the dead I’d like to talk to you! See Ephesians 2: 1-4

4) Faith sees beyond what is seen physically to the unseen that’s coming. And what’s coming defies imagination. See Hebrews 11:1

5) Faith is strengthened by your trials. Nobody is exempt. Examples abound: Abraham and Sarah without a child, Hannah without a son, Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt, Esther interceding for her people, David fighting Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Mary pregnant before marriage. See Genesis 17:15-21; Genesis 14; Esther 4: 13-17; 1 Samuel 17; Daniel 6; Matthew 1:18-25.

6) Faith glorifies God. It pleases God to strengthen your faith. See Romans 5:1-5

7) Faith justifies sinners. It’s the only means by which you can be saved. See Romans 4:5

No matter what you’re facing right now, know that God has his hand on you, he sees you, knows your every circumstance, and you can rely on him to take you through your trials just like he did Abraham, Moses, Esther, David, Daniel and Mary.

They were in good hands and so are you.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

Dump the Guilt

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.”

He’s right.

We feel it when we violate our own rules. “I should have saved more money this year.”

Or when we don’t do what we know is important. Like go to church. Read the bible. Pray. Igor Mitoraj

How about when we don’t live up to own expectations? That’s a big one. There’s a video making the rounds on social media of a young boy seated at a window seat on a plane. He’s admonishing his father for not living up to his dreams of being a airline pilot. How does the boy know this about his father? “Because I want to be a pilot, and I plan to do it,” he says defiantly.

Wow. I’d spank him for his insolence. But you get the point. We are full of self-salvation strategies, aren’t we? We spend our days doing things to please ourselves in the hope that is also pleases God.

But we know better. Jesus’s perfect life of obedience to God’s law is the only effort that pleases God, and his death on the cross for our sins is the only reconciliation that He will accept.

If you’ve delivered yourself over to God’s plan of salvation for your life, you have nothing to be guilty of anymore. Jesus bore your guilt, your shame, your failure and your sin for you on the cross.

You are set free to love and serve him out of gratitude.

Go out and jump for joy!

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

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