Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Be a Transformer

Have you ever put off saying (or posting) something because you feared the repercussions, how it might be received?  If so, then this post is for you.  Even as I wrote it, and re-wrote it, I felt that same fear because being bold in my witness does not come naturally to me, rather it usually results from conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, I have put off posting this message for too long now, and God has  convicted me that I’m not trusting in the Him, the God “who goes before me.” I have spent hours crafting the message so that it will hopefully ring true without causing a permanent loss of hearing. 🙂

So I hope that when you read it, you will consider my heart (even though some of you might hardly know me).  My heart beats for God’s people and for His truth, it yearns for us all to strive toward Christ-likeness not for the sake of personal pride or satisfaction with self, but for the sake of His glory, that His name and His Truth should be known around the world!  My heart aches for the lost, those who are searching for His Truth without even knowing it.  You can blame my parents for this since I spent a great deal of my growing up years as a missionary kid. But that’s another story for another time.   Today I want to ask you some tough questions in relation to the following verse:

do not conform

Recent conversations on Facebook and other media outlets have opened my eyes to a developing trend in Christianity today.  Being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles!

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in this camp before, keeping quiet because it’s just easier.  Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being “judgmental,” “close-minded,” or “intolerant.”

While criticism from the world is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often surprises us!  We are not accustomed to being labeled (or  dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.  How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on God’s Truth is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible DOES speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of Luke 6:41-42.

speck or plank

Only God can see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart.  Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be too busy dealing with our own sin.  However, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformers.

Unfortunately, well-publicized, so-called “Christians” have recently taken a stand for their so-called “truth” in ways that ARE harsh and hateful, tarnishing our witness.  Furthermore, we have Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing others on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, adding to the world’s negative perception of us Christ-followers. While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily shove our beliefs in someone’s face with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it!  How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior and used it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery. We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence, and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.  He did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformers.  When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – LOVE and RESPECT.

prepared to give an answer

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both.  A total-grace perspective can lead to conformity, while a total-truth perspective can lead to self-righteous bullying .  Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!  Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!  Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to be a Christian? Ironic, isn’t it? 🙂

My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media).  Do they see a difference?  Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

power of risen savior

I know it is risky voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.  You may lose friends.  You may lose popularity.  You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental!” Have the courage that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Amen??

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming (and haven’t we ALL at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.  On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

Questions to ask  before posting or sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return?  In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth?  In other words, do you have contextual biblical support  for your message?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion?  In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? 🙂
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace?  In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

overcome evil for good

Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!  We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.  Don’t conform.  Be a transformer.

Because of His love,

Jen 🙂

You might also enjoy this post:

http://www.godspotting.net/2013/06/god-is-not-republican.html

20 Comments »

Five Minute Friday: View

Today I’m trying something new!  Another blogger has challenged us to participate in Five Minute Fridays – we’ll spend only 5 minutes writing on a word prompt that she gives us.  No editing, no grammar checking, no revising.  Just creativity. So, here goes!

 

View

 

I once lived in a land with breath-taking views.  Papua New Guinea, with bright tropical foliage filling the valleys, and the valleys ringed by tall mountains with a beauty of their own.  Our tribal home sat perched on the side of one of these mountains, up on stilts with our hammocks hanging beneath.

 

PNG house

 

I loved to sit in my hammock and look out at the blue sky that seemed so much brighter at that elevation and across to the mountain range on the other side of the valley below.  Some mornings, thick, white clouds filled the valley as if a blanket of white cotton was laid out for us.  So much beauty from the hand of our Creator!

hammocks under png house

 

Today the views that grace my landscape are not quite so spectacular.  Our small town has its own form of quaint beauty, and the surrounding corn and soybean fields have theirs.  Still, I miss New Guinea and the way in which the physical beauty of our mountain home brought me closer to my Creator.  It was as if His presence was always evidenced before me, less easy to ignore.

 

But my Creator is so quick to remind me that my view has so much to do with perspective.  I may no longer be surrounded by majestic mountains, wild-growing poinsettia trees, and grass-topped huts scattered among the dense green bush, but I’m surrounded by beautiful people.  The man in my life who is quick to help anyone in need.  The four-year-old twins who frolic together in the backyard.  The seven-year-old with the impish grin on his face, no doubt planning some new mischief.  The thirteen year old with his gentle smile and willing spirit.

 

me and kids

 

Yes, my view is good.

Jen 🙂

 

15 Comments »

When Temptation Lingers Near

Today I want to share with something I wrote many months ago.  It was written during a time of discouragement and trials galore.  My husband and I were both under a lot of external stress, both personal and from ministry, and our marriage temporarily suffered.  I felt like one of the Israelites in the desert, bemoaning my situation and feeling helpless to enact change.

When I first wrote it, I was not intending to ever share it anywhere.  The words just sort of poured out in the middle of my frustration and attempt to make sense of the chaos around me.  I often find that writing helps me to communicate with God and understand the wisdom He’s trying to impart.  So, I share it with you today, hoping that it may encourage you if you’re facing a situation that seems impossible or a day, or even a moment, that seems unbearable.  I hope you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone and that He always provides a way out!

temptation, marriage, victory

It’s almost supper time, but the stove top sits empty and no pleasing aromas fragrance the air.  I’ve not even yet decided what to cook, let alone made any sort of preparations.  Instead, I’m sitting in my bedroom trying desperately to pray while my preschoolers whine for attention right outside of the bedroom door.  My husband, whom I’ve just argued with, sits just outside the door as well at the dining room table.  He’s grumbling over the budget and seems unaware of the noise around him.  There is no peace, no quiet.

But I NEED to pray because I am one moment away from falling into temptation.  One moment from allowing my impatience, anger, resentment, and frustration to spill over onto my family.  One moment away from blowing any chance at doing right.  At this moment I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Satan has set his sights on me; I’m being tested.

It isn’t the first of such evenings in my home.  In fact, our marriage relationship has been under strain for a few months now, and I’ve grown oh-so-weary of “fighting the good fight.”  However, this past week, God has shown me the truth of my situation; I haven’t been doing my part, either.  I have been selfish.  I have been lazy.  I have been avoiding the time with my Lord that I need.  Thus, I recently resolved to make some positive changes, knowing full well that temptation would linger near.

So as I sit here in my room praying while the chaos rages just outside of the door, I laugh.  Yes, I laugh!  It’s absurd, even comical, that every other person in my home (and there are five) would suddenly become distractions at the very moment I attempt to find peace.  I want to complain to the Lord that I’m trying so hard to do what is right, to seek Him in my moment of weakness, but He’s not making it very easy!

no temptation

In that moment of laughter, I realize the truth that as long as I’m trying to do right, to obey God, Satan is not going to leave me alone.  In fact, He’s even going to use good things like bible study and prayer against me by causing frustration and chaos at just the right moment.  Thankfully, now that God has shown me the truth of the matter, Satan cannot win.  I see his game plan for what it is, and prayer is a powerful tool!  Sorry, Satan, I’m getting up from my throne of self-pity and frustration, and I’m cooking supper tonight!

Lord, I thank you for always providing a way out for us, even when it seems impossible or unbearable!  I ask that you would encourage my sisters in Christ today to look for the way out when they face temptation. Help them to see the truth in whatever situations they face.  Remind them that You are with them always, every step of the way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Give them the strength they need to resist temptation and to flee the Devil and remind them of your unfailing love and grace for them because of your Son, Jesus Christ.  I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

12 Comments »

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World

Like many women, I’ve been really busy this week with a lot of good things.  In addition to my everyday tasks, two things in particular have taken up a fair amount of time: a Mother’s Day talk I am working on for church and a future blog post that just isn’t quite right yet.

They are both really good things, both uplifting to the Body of Christ and instructive for me, the writer.

However, last night and this morning God was working in my heart to show me a truth that I had learned before, but temporarily forgotten.  Good things can become bad things when they distract me from the BEST thing – my relationship with Him!  You see, I thought I was doing good by feverishly working on these projects in my spare time, which you can understand as a mother of four children is indeed very spare. In my zeal and enthusiasm for this good work, I forgot to turn to the Source from whom the words flow.

Sounds an awful lot like Martha, doesn’t it?

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World, Mary vs. Martha, Mary and Martha, choosing the best thing, abiding in the Lord

Luke 10:38- 42 reads:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy doing good things – taking care of others, preparing food to serve them, and so forth.  They were necessary preparations.  But when she expressed her frustration to the Lord about her sister Mary, He actually rebuked her instead!  He told her that Mary’s choice to fellowship with and learn from Him was the better choice, the BEST choice.

I had the opportunity earlier this year to attend a women’s conference, and the main speaker, Kimberly Sowell, so aptly narrated this story to us.  She reminded us that we live in a Martha World – full of work and busy schedules.  Those tasks, those good and necessary things that we do on a daily basis (raising up children, working, serving others, preparing meals, even work related to ministry) have to be done, but we must be careful not to let them distract us from the most important thing – abiding in Him.

Don’t make the mistake I made; don’t choose simply good things over the BEST thing.  Choose to make time for a Mary moment in spite of your Martha world!  And as soon as you make the choice to be Mary, don’t be surprised if something needs your immediate attention!

This morning, as soon as I sat down on my bed and opened my Bible, my preschoolers who were playing so nicely together suddenly needed my TOTAL attention.  Thankfully, God reminded me that Satan is always at work, and rather than getting frustrated and giving up, I was able to quickly attend to their needs and come right back to my Bible.

It wasn’t easy with two distracting 4-year-olds at my feet (and on my bed, sometimes even in my lap), but it was worthwhile, and I know He was pleased with my obedience.  I know because when I finished, I had peace.

Jen 🙂

Question:  What “good” things tend to distract you the most from the BEST thing? (feel free to share in the comments)

Other articles you might enjoy:

http://pastorswifeslife.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/what-am-i-chasing/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

 

20 Comments »

My Monday Morning Confession

Image

Yesterday was Sunday.  Yesterday I was so excited about actually starting this blog (and not just talking about it), about the potential to reach others, like myself, and encourage them, spur them on.  Yesterday, I was swept up in awe of God and the paths He leads us down, often paths we might not have chosen for ourselves.  I was typing out oh-so-many ideas at once.  I was working and re-working potential posts and the format of the blog itself.  I was confident.  I was on FIRE!

But today is Monday.  Today brings with it uncertainty and doubt, perhaps mixed with a little fear that I’ve gotten myself in waaaaaaay over my head.  Today, after having looked around at fellow faith bloggers, I’m feeling insignificant, untalented, and overwhelmed.  Maybe even a little foolish.  Today I’m tempted to listen to that voice that says, “What were you thinking??”

Isn’t that how it starts, though?  For one second we take our eyes off of the Father, and suddenly we’re bombarded by these devastating untruths.  Insignificant – it’s an untruth straight from the depths of self and Satan.  Self tells me I need to create something I can be proud of, something of worth.  Self tells me to be careful; don’t let your pride be wounded.  Self makes it about me instead of about Christ.

Then Satan, being the opportunist he is, inserts his voice…insignificant.  Wouldn’t he love for all of us women of faith to believe that?!  It makes his destructive work so much easier to accomplish!

Thank the Lord that we have His word, the Sword of the Spirit, to combat these untruths.  Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He “knit” us together in our mother’s wombs.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He has loved us with “an everlasting love.”  And His Son Jesus, His one and only, perfect Son calls us His brothers and sisters.  That doesn’t sound so insignificant to me.  These are just a few nuggets from a gold mine of Scriptures detailing the Father’s love for us.

Even more, consider Romans 5:8, which says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  If nothing more, surely that nugget alone makes us significant!  For a Father to sacrifice His only Son in my place while I remained a helpless and unworthy sinner, means that He places great value on me.

And on you, sister.

Monday world

So, if you’re like me today, and the reality of a Monday world has dampened your Sunday fire, remember who you are.  You are the redeemed,

the beloved,

the chosen,

the loved-beyond-measure child of the Most High.  

Put on the full armor of God so that you can confidently conquer that Monday world!

Epheisans 6:10 – 17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Jen : )

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

http://www.katharinesthoughts.net/2013/06/small-and-soaring/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

18 Comments »