Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lackluster Faith

One of my favorite worship songs is Open the Eyes of My Heart
by Mercy Me. The reason it is one of my favorites is that that is exactly what I want God to do. I want Him to open the eyes of my heart so I can see Him and know Him.

Do you ever feel like your walk has become lackluster and long to really know the Lord better? That is where I have been for the past few months and especially the last few weeks.

I read a couple of new books which I would highly recommend to you if you are feeling this way, too. One is "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan and the other is "Radical" by David Platt. Both of these books opened my eyes to the shallowness of my christianity and why my walk had become lackluster. What do I mean by "shallowness" and "lackluster"?

I was only looking at Christ as far as my front door and most days as far as my feet. My prayers were filled with requests for the Lord to "Help me..."

We are, by nature, selfish. Just think about any baby or small child and you'll immediately know what I mean. It's ALL about them, what they want, what they need, how they feel. We're born with that nature. We're born needy. We can only think as babies that we're hungry, or uncomfortable, or we don't feel well or we want to be held or put down, whatever; and we have the lungs and vocal ability to let one and all know about it.

I know that my faith in Christ has produced fruit in my life and in other's lives. I've seen it and have been told about it, but I have been feeling altogether too self-focused in my prayers.

Then I read these two remarkable books while on vacation and I started a Bible study (among other new ventures) and I felt that God was speaking directly to me telling me that I had enough knowledge and faith and had known Him long enough to get out do something with it.

One thing that really hit me hard for some reason unbeknownst to me was reading the Philipians 2.

I have read this chapter many times and it has been gone over in Bible study many times and I've heard many sermons preached on it, but for some reason, this was my TIME to read it and for it to sink in and touch my heart. (You know, the Word is like that sometimes.) It really hit me that God Almighty, who CREATED everything, KNOWS everything, and IS everywhere at ALL times loved everything and everyone He created so much that he didn't consider it BENEATH Him to go and take on the form of a created being, to live as a created being in the flesh and without using any of His ability as God to make a way for everything and everyone to be restored to the original, intended relationship that He created us for.

He didn't have to be born poor. He didn't have to learn a trade. He didn't have to be hungry, tired, or sick but he willingly became a man subject to all those things; not to mention being subject to aggravation, impatience, lust, all the things that the human body is subject to being simply because of being human. But He did it all willingly. And then, he allowed little ol' people, mere men and women, to mock him, spit on him, beat him to within a heart beat of his life, pull out his beard so that you could not even recognize him, and then let them hang him on a cross so he could pay the penalty that we, you and me, should have paid because of all the lousy, horrible, impure, unholy things we have thought and/or done.

I realized that Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, paid my debt to the Creator for my part in the sinfulness of the world. I should have hung on that cross, and I saw it ALL so clearly - how it should have been, and several times now since that happened, it has come back to me, and I have seen it again, and Jesus is looking real precious to me right now. I can see what a debt I owe to Him.

The authors of Radical and Forgotten God then showed me that I was not "asked" to go and make disciples of all nations, but I was "commanded" to go and do so.

Another thing the Lord showed me was in the book of 1 Samuel how Eli who was the prophet prior to Samuel had two sons who did not know the Lord and did sinful things at the Temple by taking advantage of people and sleeping with women and taking the best meat meant for sacrifice and how God held Eli responsible for his sons. You know, folks, God is going to hold us responsible for our children, too. You can find the story about Eli and his sons in 1 Samuel Chapter 2. Colossians 1:16 tells us:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Did you see that: All things created were created by him AND FOR HIM. Our children belong to Him, and if we are not diligent in preparing them to know and receive Him, how can they be FOR Him? Won't they be AGAINST them?

One last thing that God showed me, and this one really caught me by surprise. I was driving home from my trip south yesterday, and I stopped in a convenience store to get some ice, when I heard the following conversation (all said with a "very" southern accent)...

"How ya doin Ms. Kirk, law, I haven't seen you in ages?

Well, Roy, I am doing so fine this morning. God has blessed this old body in so many ways I just can't tell you how good He is to me.

I know what ya mean Ms. Kirk. He sure is good, and He's coming back soon, I think.

Yep, I believe He's coming soon, too. I got a lot of things ain't so good, Roy, but I sure know that God has blessed me and I praise Him every day....."

What a blessing to me to hear this conversation. How many times when someone asks me how I'm doing do I say, "fine, thank you, and how are you?" From now on, I am going to glorify God. I want everyone to know how God has blessed me. He called my name, I heard Him, I answered Him, and now I am His and He is mine. I'm alive, I'm breathing. I can use all my senses. I can laugh and cry and feel. I can understand and I can explain. He loves me. He died for me and paid my debt. I owe Him my all and yet when this life is over I will inherit all the wonderful things I can think of and many that my mind cannot even conceive because of HIS generosity, faithfulness and love.

So why was my faith becoming so lackluster and shallow? Because I was focusing on me and not on HIM; because I was only caught up in my life instead of the lives of others, and because not only wasn't I looking at my life as blessed, I wasn't telling others how blessed I am! When you look at it all from the other direction and live it that way, your faith will be real shiny, and it'll show on your face!


Be blessed today in Jesus!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Childishness

Don't you just hate it when someone calls you childish? I certainly do, and from the looks of the people who I have called childish in the past, I believe most other people hate it, too.

Likewise, when I visit other web sites, weblogs or read publications, I get very perturbed when I hear people who profess to follow Christ bashing each other over things in the Bible that they don't agree about.

In thinking about all the parts of scripture that I have read (and I have read almost all of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament), I don't remember that Jesus had "word battles" with anyone. He said what He believed, back it up with why He believed it (scripturally or with facts), and then kept quiet and let the Holy Spirit work.

God is working, through the power of the Holy Spirit, on each one of us who have committed our lives to Christ. It's a lifelong process, this becoming like Jesus, and the things we do and believe today may not be the same things we do and believe in six months, three weeks or even tomorrow.

We are earthen vessels that hold his precious Holy Spirit and we are being molded and formed by God each and every day just as Adam was molded and formed by God at the beginning of time.

And in that molding and forming, we are becoming less childish, and more and more like Christ.

Ephesians 4:13-16:

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.


So if you and a brother or sister in Christ don't see eye to eye today, don't write them off as lost or not your friend, say what you believe, why you believe it, and be quiet. Then, ask God to show you if you are wrong about what you believe and ask that if you brother or sister is wrong that God will open their eyes to the truth.

Let's leave childish fighting and bashing behind and work for the glory of God in a better way.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Take My Life and Let It Be...

I've been praying for some time for God to give me more and more of His Holy Spirit; that there would be more of Him and less of me.

As I look back over my christian life, I can clearly see that there have been occasions where the fruit of the spirit was evident in my life; that I was growing in the knowledge and understanding of God; and that God was using me to impact other peoples' lives.

But I feel like I've been living a life of christian mediocrity for some time and so I began to cry out to God for more of his holy spirit.

Yesterday I began reading Francis Chan's new book, "Forgotten God, Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit".

I would like to share this quote:

Right now i want you to take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit. Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you? Is it because you love the church and desire to be a better servant to your sisters and brothers?

This really grabbed me, so I began to think about it and pray that God would show me the truth of why I wanted it? In all honesty, I'd have to say that for a time I wanted it just to have something to show; so I guess that's for my own purposes. But that has changed, and as I look deep, I know that the real answer is because I'm tired of living a lackluster life of spirituality. The God of the Bible is mighty, awesome, and powerful; moving ordinary, unskilled, uneducated, every-day Joes to to do unimaginable things, and my life as a christian looks so much like everyone else walking around today. I want to know the power that raised Christ from the dead; the power that spoke creation into being; the power that caused all the apostles to live lives that ended in martyrdom. I want it all. I want to be so sold out to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that I will die for it. I have reached the point of hating my life/soul!

Matthew 16:25
“For whoever wishes to save his life (psuche - soul) will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Luke 14:26-27
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

I'm there. I'm tired of praying for people and seeing no results. I'm tired of having no impact on my immediate family for God. I hate my christian-light life. I hate how little God uses me to help people. I'm tired of living a life that looks like everyone else around me. I guess I'm saying "here's my life, Lord, take it, always, only all for you".

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee



Friday, September 2, 2011

When the Son Doesn't Shine

A few weeks ago, I was in the car with some friends heading home when the southwestern part of the sky became filled with large, black, billowy clouds. All of a sudden, the rain started pouring down, it started thundering, and large, sharp, bolts of lightning streaked from the top of the clouds down to the ground. Needless to say, it was a little frightening. However, when you looked just a way off, in a more northwestern direction, the sun was shining as bright as at noon and there were absolutely no clouds around. We were all quite entranced by it.

Yesterday morning as I was walking along my quiet little country road, I could hear thunder getting closer and closer, so I walked faster and faster to make sure I got back home before the rain hit. Again, the western portion of the sky was black and the rain started pouring down. I could hear the thunder but I didn't see any lightning. The eastern sky was cloudless and the sun was shining.

I don't recall ever having thought about it before, the way the sky doesn't always get completely dark when it rains, but the thought hit me that even when the rain is pouring down and the storm is at its worst, the sun is still shining; you just can't see it.

I began to ponder this thought a bit because I thought maybe it was something the Lord wanted to speak to me through. I asked Him what it was that I was supposed to hear.

For the past three or four months, I feel like I've been caught up in a storm. There are a couple of situations in my home life that have been quite trying and then there has been my son's illness and trips back and forth to North Carolina and Ohio to see doctors who practice integrative medicine (rather than just shoving pills at you and trying to keep you medicated), and frankly, I just felt like I wasn't hearing God's voice.

In that moment, there on my country road, I felt like I heard God's voice telling me that even though I have been going through a great storm in my life, I haven't seen or heard Him because I wasn't working at it hard enough. I was caught up in my own agenda more than I was wanting to hear from Him, speak to Him, or try to find Him in the clouds of my day.

I want to take the time today to thank the Lord for reaching out to me and drawing me back to Him.

This morning, our electric went off for some unknown reason. We didn't have a storm so something else must have occurred. I woke up, though. I'm a light sleeper and because of the way our home is built, our bedroom (upstairs, over the garage) is very warm and the air conditioner does very little to help cool it, so I have three large fans blowing in there all the time in the summer and it's very noisy if you know what I mean.

So when I woke up, it was dead quiet and as dark as, ... well, night! I opened the windows and thankfully, there was a breeze blowing in so I just lay there looking out the window at the beautiful sky and the stars and I felt the Lord very close to me telling me the things He has wanted me to do which I have avoided and how He had to work in ways which would bring me to a place of having to do what He wanted.

Two years ago, more or less, the Lord told me to home school our son and in a dream around the same time, Lord told me to start teaching my son more in depth than Sunday school about Him. I diddled around with Bible study with my son, but didn't get serious about it, and well, of course, the home schooling thing went by the wayside.

On Tuesday, we begin our first year of home schooling and it is Bible based. It took my son's illness and the integrative medical doctors' strict diet and advice not to send him to school because of his problems to get me here, but here I am.

I've been setting up the school room and looking over the curriculum, and it's not a piece of cake. It's going to difficult, and my son is difficult. So, would you pray for me? I mean, pray for the Lord to give me what it takes to do this as unto Him; in a manner that will be pleasing to both the Lord and my son.

I guess the lesson I've learned is that just like nature, the storms in our life make it seem like God is not there because there's so many clouds, and the thunder is loud and the lightning distracting. But He IS there if we will only look harder for a glimpse of His light, listen more closely for His soft voice, and learn how to exercise our faith by doing the things we know He wants us to do even though it does not match up with our plans. After all, He has called us out of the darkness, to follow Him and His path is not the easy, well traveled path, but the hard-to-find, hard-to-stay on path.

I pray that today the Lord will open the eyes, ears and hearts of any who stumble upon this little blog to His greatness, His awesome power to forgive, His abundant mercy, and His unfailing love. I also pray that He will pour out His spirit on me in a new, fresh way which will cause me to become less and Him to become more, and I ask these things in Jesus' name and for His glory and honor.