Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Love Much

One thing I have noticed is that it can be too easy to forget the Lord's work in our lives.  We get on our "holy trails" and forget where we would be without the Lord's saving and sovereign work.  We elevate ourselves above others and think that we are better than them because we somehow have it together more than they do. 

It makes my heart ache to see my generation think that it is unscathed from the world because they were home educated or raised in a reformed church.  The typical check list says that if you: dress modestly, haven't dated, haven't gone to college, were not in public school, abstain from youth group, have no tattoos or odd piercings, and you don't smoke and you don't chew or go with people that do, you have got the market corner on conservative christian holiness... congratulations!

But do we love our Lord?

We think we have a perfect little appearance, but do we love the Savior who really was perfect and took the penalty of death that we so adequately deserved?  Do we even know what it means to love Him?

"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."  (Luke 7:41-43)

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15)  

"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." (John 15:12-17) 

When we think that we are better than others because we haven't lived a rebellious life, we might as well say that Jesus' blood has washed us purer than those who have experienced what it is like to live in that utter darkness.  When we start caring about appearances and reputations more than we care about the name of Jesus Christ being brought throughout all the earth, then we might as well stop saying that we care about the Kingdom, because our attitude strongly suggests that we don't.  When all we can focus on is what we (think) we have done right, and what everyone else has done wrong, then we had better start evaluating our motives, because Christianity isn't about everything we can do, it is about everything that Jesus has done and continues to do on our behalf. 

I love this passage of Scripture:

"Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:44-48)

There are times when I wish I was the woman who had to be forgiven much so that I could love that much!  Where I would have been so radically saved that my heart would feel eternally fused to the heart of my Savior in a way that I didn't have to struggle with feeling better than others, because I was once the worst of the worst in the way I lived my life outwardly.  Some of my best friends have the most beautiful testimonies!  I am inspired and brought to tears every time I think on the Lord's work in their lives.  He has worked a wonder in their hearts and His power is made so evident through the salvation of their once perdition bound souls, and it warms my heart!

It is not that I am lacking a testimony of how God has saved me, but mine seems so small sometimes, in light of those who were really bound by the world, before God set them free.  

I think that as young women, we are prone to feelings of superiority, more than others.  We glory in our feminine "works" and our Proverbs 31-ness--we think that our (seemingly) "spotless lives" coupled with our exemplary "homemaking skillz" somehow make us prime marriage material, as opposed to that new convert who is just learning about submission and her irreplaceable role in her home. The young woman whose body is marred by piercings or tattoos.  We stand afar off, gazing with our mouths gaping, wondering if she is really saved or if it is a put on, all because we think ourselves so much better and above, because we have not "lived like that"! 

The question we need to ask ourselves is why. Why do we want to be good homemakers?  Why do we want to be submissive women?  Why do we want to pursue being wives and mothers, over six figure incomes?  Why do we want to be feminine women?  Is it because it is all we know to do?  Is our motive that we simply want to follow the proper steps so that we can be married one day?

Or do we embrace these things so that the world may see the light of Jesus Christ through our lives?

You see, just looking the part on the outside is not what's important.  It all has to stem from the inside.  You can't build a sky scraper and start at the top, you have to build from the foundation up; and you can't transform a heart of stone into a heart of flesh from the outside... it is a work that has to take place inwardly first.  We cannot just go through the motions, our motive has to stem from a heart that has been radically transformed by the blood of Christ and we desire all of those in darkness, to be impacted by the light of our Savior, shining forth from our own lives.

As Christians, we are all a part of the same Body and we all have a role to fulfill and need each other to function properly.  God does not categorize us as those who are more fit vessels for the furtherance of the Kingdom, as opposed to those who are elect and yet of little use because of their scandalous pasts.   My right arm has a lot of scars on it (yes I am accident prone and it shows... but I'll have you know I got most of those scars in the kitchen! ;), but I don't value my left arm more simply because it has not incurred the trauma that my right arm has.  And it is the same principle among us as brothers and sisters in the Body... those of us who do not bear the scars of the world in the same way that others do, are not of more value in the sight of God.

I think a lot of this thinking can be avoided if we understand that we all had the potential to become the worst terrors the world has ever seen, before the Lord saved us and rescued us from a life of misery and destruction.  We forget so quickly what we could have been like apart from the love of God.  We forget that He is the one working through us and we are not the source of righteousness and goodness.  When we look at the lost, we should be thankful that the Lord has saved us from a life without Him, but we shouldn't feel thankful that we are better than them.  Our hearts should break for those who are on the path to hell!  How miserable would life be if we had to live apart from Christ?  This kind of grief will kindle a passion in us and help us to make sure that our lives are about being a witness and a testimony to lost souls, and avoid thinking that we are superior because of our "holiness".  We will inhibit the work that the Lord could do through us, if we do not learn to put off our pride and have a broken heart for those who will suffer eternal condemnation.  May God allow us to feel the weight of conviction and wear our knees out in prayer before Him. We must remember that we have nothing, that was not given to us by Him. 

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.  See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies.  Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."  1 Thessalonians 5:14-24


Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Weep with those who weep"

My dear friend Jean Marie and Avery Notgrass

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." Romans 12:15

As the Body of Christ, we are intrinsically united in a way that is rather inexpressible.  We function together and when one of us is wounded, we all suffer.

Today a precious family lost their 16 month old son and while I didn't know them, my heart goes out to them in the deepest sense.  My family has experienced this kind of loss and it is a pain that cannot be equaled.  But I am so thankful that the Lord allows us to grieve as those who do in fact have hope! ("But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." 1Thessalonians 4:13) This dearest baby boy is in the arms of Jesus, and so while grief is strong, it is not despairing.

There are not any words that can bring comfort better than our Savior's grace, and so I pray that is poured out mightily upon all of those who grieve over this little one.

So dearest Notgrass family, know that there is an entire body of believers lifting you up before the throne of God this evening.

This is for you.

And for Jean Marie, whose tender heart is constantly a source of inspiration to me... my heart is broken for you all.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints