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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living with a Broken Heart

Contrary to every thing you hear in the media, your life is not your personal possession to do with as you please.

If you’re a Christian, you belong to Jesus. You we were bought with a price – his blood – to no longer serve yourself, but him.

How are you doing with this?

If you’re like me, not so good.  love

I’d rather continue being addicted to myself. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. I’ve been doing it all my life.

I also like burrowing into my world of entertainment – my favorite TV shows, sports, painting, writing and photography. None of those things are sin in and of themselves, but when they push out Jesus in favor of them, then I have a problem.

And I push out Jesus a lot.

I can spend a whole day without thinking about him or talking to him.

I don’t do that with the people I love, but I do it with him.

I don’t keep short accounts of my sins with him either. I tend to bunch them all together at the end of the day, if I remember, and then confess them. When I think about it, that’s pretty stupid and laughable. What I’m doing is just discharging a duty without any heart work, and I know it and so does Jesus.

I’m reminded in the gospels, Jesus was not autonomous. He could have been. He didn’t need help from anybody, he knew who he was and where he was going. And yet he was 100% dependent on his Father, from what to say to people to what to do for them. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'” – John 5: 19

That dependency led him to the cross to die for me and you.

And I’m pierced through the heart.

I admit I fail miserably to live a dependent life. It’s foreign to me. But I don’t despair because I have hope. First, God makes me aware of my sin and depravity and I getting better at talking to him about it. Second, I don’t want to be like that any more and I tell him so. And third, in Christ I am becoming more like him. He’s doing the work he promised to do even if I don’t see it. “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6. And for that I rejoice!

Where are you on this road? Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Untwist Yourself

Jesus is my Sabbath rest. I have ceased from my own works to gain God’s acceptance. (Hebrews 4)

Christ earned God’s acceptance for me by living a perfect life of obedience to God’s law on my behalf, and by dying a death on the cross in order to pay for my sins.  woodduck

Since he accomplished this when I wasn’t even aware of my desperate need, how much more do I need to stop accepting burdens that only he can carry.

My burdens are my anxieties about my children and family members and their future, illnesses of friends, my own calling and vocation, and so on. These are burdens that disturb my rest in Christ.

They also point to pride in my life.

I think I can carry these cares!

The truth is I can’t. They weigh me down, they make me into a person who rarely has a lightness of heart over anything.

What to do about them? Pray as often as the Spirit leads me to, but then leave the care with him.

“Casting all your anxieties on him; for he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting – to throw upon, to place upon God
all – everything
care (burden) – distractions & anxiety about things pertaining to this earthly life
cares – to care about, have regard for
God calls me to leave everything with him.
As a Christian I am to be care-free!

How The Gospel Changes Suffering – Part 2

In the last post, Part 1, one of the things we covered was what not to do when you’re suffering. If you’re suffering through no fault of your own, then don’t waste your time trying to ask why. It will make you turn inward and brood. That’s heaping misery upon misery, which is exactly what the devil wants because then you will be paralyzed and ineffective.

So send the devil packing.

Both Jesus and Peter explicitly stated that tribulation is part of the journey of living in this world until we get to heaven.

Nobody escapes it.

So don’t be shocked by it.

Paul, who never did anything half-way, took it a step further. He said he wanted to share in the sufferings of Christ.

There is a deep fellowship to be had with Jesus when we suffer.

Paul mentions three advantages:

1) Paul said he suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ. He gave up his Jewish lineage and education and status for the richness of knowing his Savior.

2) Paul no longer counted on his law-keeping to gain God’s approval. Instead, he threw that away for a life of faith in Christ because he wanted the Lord’s righteousness as his garment, and not anything he conjured up.

3) Paul’s life of faith depended on the power of Jesus’ resurrection and with that came suffering. Suffering the death of all things that the world esteems dear. Suffering persecution, rejection and humiliation for the sake of Christ. And finally, suffering in death itself.

There is a deep mystery in all of this and few enter into this circle.

If God calls you to this, you are indeed on sacred ground.

How Being Baptized Can Get You Killed

You’ve heard stories about the underground church in China. You’ve also read stories about Christians who have risked their lives for the gospel in foreign countries.

This is a true story that is a little closer to home. It’s from a man who teaches a bible study in a federal prison in Northern California.

“We had six baptisms today. We have a tank outside the church and they fill it up when we do baptisms. One white man and two black men and three Latino men were baptized. One of the inmates told me that these men’s faith was genuine. I asked him, ‘How do you know?’ He said, ‘Because they were all baptized in the same tank.’

“You see, in this prison, everything is segregated by race. Each race has its own shower and toilet, sink and place to eat. You never eat or shower at the other race’s area. It can get you stabbed or killed. These men, of different races, were being baptized in the same tank. That can get them in trouble with their own race group. All they really have now is the church body.

“In our day, and in our country, I never thought that a baptism could get you killed.”

Here is risk for the sake of the gospel.

Here is also a beautiful picture of how Christ tears down the separation of the races and creates one new race in himself.

Those who belong to Jesus Christ are now brothers with the same Father, who share in the same inheritance, and look forward to the same eternal destiny.

Jesus Is A Happy Man

Do you know that Christ is happy in his exalted state in heaven?

Every day, if that is how time is measured in heaven, he looks around and sees the results of his death on the cross for his people.

First, he sees the conversion and the salvation of sinners.

Second, he looks over the amazing expanse of heaven and sees it populated with the people he died and shed his blood for.

Third, he looks down on our world and sees so many coming into faith, taking baby steps in grace, others advancing in their faith, and still others strong as warriors in their faith, and this brings pleasure to his soul.

Fourth, he sees those arriving in heaven, having finished the race, and he rejoices!

Jesus is fully satisfied with his own sacrifice!

And if he’s satisfied, so is God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

They rejoice together!

There is joy in heaven over you!