Amazing!

Think about the creativity God uses to call you to Himself.

He sent His Son to earth to become like you, except he was without sin.

Christ lived his life obeying God perfectly for you.

Then He died on the cross to take away your sin.

He took God’s wrath that was meant for you.

He absorbed your guilt and removed it from you. lily12

He loved God perfectly because you couldn’t do it.

What a Savior!

If you can see how much you need Christ from reading this, then embrace Him with faith right now.

Thank Him for His overwhelming love for you.

And go out and tell someone about Him.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

This Old House

Sanctification is like being brought up again but this time in Christ. God is your Father, Jesus is your elder brother who has blazed the trail for you, and the Holy Spirit draws you deeper into your new identity in Christ.

You are born again but living inside an old house. Don’t get focused on the rusty hinges, the peeling paint, and the overgrown lawn. Keep your attention focused on the architect and builder of the new house you’ll be living in. Old House

Meanwhile, refuse to participate in the conspiracy of silence. You continue to be a wretched sinner even as a Christian. You have great examples of confession from the apostles. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. So can you. There’s no shame in that.

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make you more humble and dependent on the Lord, more grateful for his sacrifice, and more adoring of him as a wonderful Savior.

Don’t be surprised at your trials then, Peter said. They’re meant to make your faith like gold. And faith attaches itself to Jesus who was meek and lowly and won salvation for you.

Joy here and now is your birthright and inheritance even when you sin miserably as a Christian.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

Don’t Even Think About It

We’re inching closer to 2015 by the day.

And the gurus are marketing their webinars, books and videos to show us how to make new year’s resolutions. And then charging us for their experience!

Are you kidding me? I can make resolutions galore for free! IMG_0436

What they’re peddling is a self-help course for those of us who make goals and don’t keep them.

And there’s millions of us out there.

So how do they fix us? By giving us more rules!

Here are some examples of the course titles:

A Goal-Setting Course

Live with Intention

Create Your Life Plan

You get the idea.

It makes me want to laugh or cry.

This doesn’t make sense for anybody, and especially for Christians.

First of all, the one life plan you need comes free – God gives it to you. It’s to glorify him and enjoy him forever.

Second, goal setting is fine if you set the right ones. Jesus had one goal when he lived here, to please his Father. And he did it spectacularly well. And as a free gift to you, he gives you that successful record as if you had lived it perfectly yourself.

And third, you can live with all the intention you have and still blow it. What is intention but purpose and drive. But those are traits for those who don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside them. The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to reveal Jesus to us. He directs our lives, so we don’t have to worry about it. What we must do is obey and rest.

So don’t fall into the temptation of changing yourself next year.

That’s God’s job and he does it really well.

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

 

How the World Cup Teaches Me about Jesus

Tuesday I watched the US vs Belgium soccer game.

It was intense.

For 90 minutes neither team scored, but they did a massive amount of running across the field.

Belgium had more shots on goal than we did, but because of Tim Howard’s talent, our goalie, we blocked all the shots.

Then came overtime…

That’s when it unraveled.  Brazil Soccer WCup US Portugal

Both teams were exhausted, but nevertheless they rallied for a last ditch effort and with it came the goals.

Things ended up 2-1 in favor of Belgium.

So we’re out, they’re in.

How like life.

It’s in the overtimes of life where you discover if you have what it takes to live with your eyes fixed on the goal and to do it with grace and perseverance.

That’s where most of us fail.

Instead of a fixed gaze, we flounder in our choices.

Instead of grace, we get impatient, or cranky, or downright ugly.

And instead of persevering, we give up.

Just think what would have happened if Jesus hadn’t fulfilled his mission and instead thrown in the towel and walked off the field.

“Looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 ESV

If Jesus hadn’t lived and died for us, none of us would have a chance at a relationship with God.

And none of us would be forgiven of our sins.

But thanks be to God, Jesus stayed the course, set his mind on completing his mission, and was rewarded by a resurrected life which he now lives in heaven.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:11 ESV

It’s a comfort to know that everywhere we fail Jesus has succeeded for us.

He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s commandments for us and died a painful death to pay the price for our sins.

By putting our faith in him, we too can score those perfect goals in life.

Want to play the game right?

 

A Better Trade-In

“Selfish ambition should not be part of a Christian’s life,” my pastor said Sunday morning.

Ouch! I’m prepared to pray, serve, read the bible, now I need to watch for this?

I was undone.

“Self-humbling is a privilege,” my pastor said.  photo(29)

That killed me.

“God didn’t pour his Son’s life into you so you can fill your life with amusements, worldliness, and money,” he said.

Where’s the exit?

“Mourn so you can be happy. Being sad over your sins is part of being a Christian. If Jesus submitted himself to the Father, why can’t you?”

Good question. Why can’t I?

It’s because I’m wired to turn inwards like a pretzel. It’s my comfortable place. I’ve been doing it since birth.

It takes the power of God to untwist me, and that hurts. It feels foreign.

And it’s impossible to do apart from the active work of the Holy Spirit in me.

But he is my only hope. I have no one else in heaven or on earth.

Jesus secured that right by giving himself in life and in death for me.  See Galatians 2:20

What’s stopping me from trading my puny ambitions for his all-encompassing vision he has for me?

Faith in the gospel. He died for me so he could live in me.

So what’s more important, my puny desires or embracing his goals for me with gladness?

 

 

 

The Sympathy and Tears of our High Priest

I took notes on a sermon I heard recently on that two word description of our Lord’s  in John 11:35 –  “Jesus wept.”

Christ’s goal at Lazarus’ tomb was to glorify God. See verses 38-44.

Jesus in life and death lived for the glory of God. I exist for the glory of God.  photo (53)

My life is custom made in the wisdom of God to conform me to the image of Christ.

God’s no’s in my life are a comfort to me if my goal is the glory of God. 

The dead man obeys the voice of Christ, sometimes better than those who don’t come to Christ.

Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus’ death? He’s not a cold, distant God. He is a compassionate Savior who sympathizes in my grief and sorrow, and in my trials and distresses.

I cannot understand my blessings any more than I understand my trials.  

Jesus burned with anger in his spirit at Lazarus’ death, and he wept. (verse 33) Why? Lazarus reflected a spoiled creation that wasn’t meant to be. The nations were destined for Christ. He was deeply offended. Sin ruined everything. He was angry at sin and Satan.

Death is a disturbing, shocking interruption against the natural process of life. Death always puts an end to life.

Praise God that for the Christian death is a gateway into eternal life where there is no more sin and death.

Be encouraged by the future, read Revelation 21.

 

 

 

 

We Really See You

My husband and I celebrated a milestone anniversary this past week. Our children had a lot to say about it.

“Thank you for being imperfect parents. You have shown us  God sticks around as He promised,” our daughter said.

At first I didn’t know how to respond, but then I laughed out loud.

That was the best compliment she could have given us.

“Your marriage is an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness, love and perseverance in bringing you together and keeping you together all these years for His glory and your continued sanctification,” our son wrote in a text message.

When did he become the theologian? Oh wait. We pounded it into his head while he was growing up.

We told them the credit was all God’s. That we had done our share of sinning and fighting and getting angry, but God had always been there to dust us off, forgive us, and keep us going.

It humbled us to hear how God had shown his grace and mercy to us and to our children who have been watching all these years.                             Commandments

Perfect we’re not. Having it together – no way. Failing frequently, you bet. That’s really all we’re capable of doing. That’s why we cling to the gospel, knowing our righteousness is a borrowed righteousness from Another.

Thanks be to God!

 

 

 

Are You Singing?

A friend of mine has been asking lately what the difference is between a true Christian and a false one.

My answer is simple. A true Christian is someone who believes in Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone.

But my friend continues to ask, “But what about the evidence in his life?”

What of it? grape vine

James says, “Faith without works is dead.” And God says the greatest work is to believe in His Son whom He has sent into the world so all men may be saved.

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:28, 29 ESV

So if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior who died on the cross to pay the price for your sins, then this is counted as a good work in God’s eyes. In fact it’s the greatest work because without faith it is impossible to please God.

John 15 says, if you are a branch that is united to the vine, then you will show forth good fruit. Have you ever seen a branch huffing and puffing and sweating to produce grapes?

The same is true of you. As a Christian you are doing good works all the time, but most of the time you won’t see them because you’d be tempted to pride. But God sees them and He is pleased with you because you are in Christ. See Romans 6. Ephesians 1 & 2.

And remember, all your works are tainted with sin, even good things like prayer, witnessing, giving to the poor. They all must be mediated by Christ in order for God to accept them.

So I told my friend to stop worrying and start singing.

You do the same.