Archive for the 'church-people' Category

All We Need–Eternally Speaking

Well, this isn’t really a post for the atheists, but for the rest of us out there, a question: 

What do you think will be the requirement for you to enter into heaven, once you’ve passed from this life?

As for me, being a Bible-kind-of girl, I don’t believe that anyone will be able to merely claim they are a Christian.

(“Why, here’s my membership card in Christian Club of the Earth.”  “Why thanks, that’s really all we needed.  Come right in.”  Umm.  No.)

I also don’t believe that we can “good work” our way into heaven or that there is some tally of good stuff versus bad stuff and that if the bad list is shorter than the good list, we’re in.

santas-good-and-bad-list

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(Sounds more like Santa Claus–naughty and nice list–do you suppose that’s where we got that nonsense?  Perhaps the “faith without works is dead”argument…but nooooo.  Consider the context.  It just isn’t so.)

Nope.  Good works and church attendance and even membership in the Christian Club are not enough. 

All we’ll be able to count on when we stand before the Lord at the end of our life on this earth, is the blood of Jesus. 

Seriously, think about it.  We’re all a big mess and there’s not not one of us who could stand sinless before God on our own.  He does care about sin; He can’t coexist with it.  Providing us a way out of that horrible separation from Him was not the His way of being a control-freak.  It was His way of showing mercy to His messed-up creation (that would be me, and the person sitting in your chair reading this right now).

The way out of the mess way Jesus, pure and simple.  We’ve gotta recognize that we’ve messed it up (a.k.a. “sin”–the “S” word so many teachers of the watered-down gospel seem to be afraid of…).  We need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was resurrected to bring victory over death, saving us from our sins.  And we need to ask Jesus to save us from our sins and be the boss of our life (that is, Lord). 

Some (including me) refer to this as being able to plead the blood of Jesus.  And that’s the one thing I want to have with me when I stand before the Lord at the end of my life.  No membership card.  No list of good deeds.  While those things might be nice, they’ve got nothing to do with admittance to anyplace I want to be going. 

No, all I need is the blood of Jesus.  It’s all we need.

With all due respect to those who may disagree (or appear to) with me (like, perhaps Mr. Shore, who’s blog I enjoy reading, though I haven’t quite figured out his perspective on critical eternal issues like this), I can lovingly appreciate the differences of opinion without having to ram my viewpoint down your throats, but please know I’m praying that any area of eternal consequence where you might be stumbling into error is revealed to you personally by the Holy Spirit this side of heaven (or hell).  Surely you would not object to that?

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Handling Hard Times–Does God Really Care?

Awhile back, I visited a friend’s blog, where she was considering the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) and how it related to a very difficult situation in which she is finding herself. It got me thinking… (and this post is, in part, how I responded to her)

I used to approach God like I viewed the school principal when we found ourselves in a crisis–someone in charge, but more concerned about the big picture, who probably didn’t care very much about me personally.

I know I’m not alone in this. Our minds wander as we consider our problem, thinking, “if God cared about me, how would He allow this situation to continue?” That mindset ultimately causes many, many people who are already hurting to then feel like God, who they wish they could count on, either doesn’t care about their situation or isn’t powerful enough do anything about it.

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Seeing God as indifferent or impotent is bound to put a little distance us and Him. And it’s not God that moves away. It’s us, as we start searching elsewhere for answers.

Well-meaning Christian friends and parents and pastors and teachers might actually compound the problem, answering earnest questions about your situation by telling you to “just have faith” or explaining that this is one of the great mysteries of life and warning that you’d better not disrespect God by asking about it.

So at this point you’ve got pain over the very real event in your life, no answers based on your understanding of God’s nature (“If God is so loving and so powerful, than why doesn’t He do something about this?!! Hmm. Maybe He isn’t…”) Your problem is still there, but now you’re wondering if God even cares, and when you ask people you think should know, they tell you (ever so politely) to shut your yap and stop asking such insolent questions. Now you’re feeling offended and hurt by the church-people, isolated, misunderstood and even more confused, or possibly a bit guilty for ever daring to bring it to God in the first place.

And you still have your problem. You’re still stuck in your circumstances. So you keep seeking. And this is the point where people become so, so vulnerable to false teaching, false hope, false doctrine.

God gave you your brain and your heart for a reason. It’s perfectly fine to search for answers to your problems. He expects you to. But consider saving yourself some time and heartache and going to Him first, rather than when you’ve exhausted all other options and sought all other opinions!

Please also remember, if you are going through a tough or confusing or lonely time, as you move through this season of your life that God has written every moment of it in His book. Your name is engraved in the palm of His hand. We were created for relationship with the Almighty. He deserves and loves our honor, but He does not need it. Our honor can’t add one thing to God. Yet, we who are in Christ, honor Him out of obedience and even more out of wonder at His amazing love for us.

The Bible is the world’s greatest love letter. This letter from the King of Kings to his precious children is His roadmap, His battle plan, His blue print, His love letter, all designed to draw His precious creation back to right relationship with Him.

And relationship with God is the purpose for which we were created. We messed it up and He made a way for us to get back to Him. Amazing. It’s what God wants from us more than anything, and what He will not take without our permission and participation. It’s what we experience more and more of as we grow with Him.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows your heart. When your cup is full, He wants you to pour it out to Him. He is not disappointed when you share your grief and even your anger with Him. Yes, maintain your awe and reverence, but if you’re furious, stamp your foot and throw a fit—He knows that’s how you’re feeling anyway.

The Psalms are also full of places where David, called by God Himself as a man after His own heart, cried out in despair and anger to the Lord. Where he pleaded for vengeance, retribution, justice, answers, resolution. (Psalm 13, for example).

We are called to engage with people in this world differently as Christians, and we can do that by placing our desires for justice and righteousness in His capable hands, telling Him honestly, transparently how we feel, then trusting Him completely with the outcome.

If the Almighty God did not expect us to cry out in our agony (to Him—not whining, gossiping, sniping, dissension-mongering, etc.), He would not have given us the Psalms that expressed His children’s anguish. He would not have given us the book of Job. He would not have let us hear about Hannah’s anguish. Moreover, He would not have rewarded these people with such honor.

Your King is also your Daddy. He’s a good Daddy—Abba Father—who, while expecting and deserving reverence and awe, also desires that you crawl up in His lap, pour out your heart to Him, and let Him put His arms around you and comfort you like no earthly parent ever could. For those of us with a rough parental upbringing, this is a pretty hard concept to wrap our mind around. But His ways are not our ways, as you well know.

Beloved, the Lord who gave us Psalm 46, designed to fill you with courage in the face of terror, also gave us Psalm 131:1-2.
My heart is not proud, O Lord, My eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters Or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with its mother, Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

And every mother knows that before a child is weaned and still and quiet sitting next to her mama, safe and trusting and peaceful, there have been lots of screaming, sleepless nights while that child learns that she can trust that parent completely, for all sustenance and love.

When we face something gut-wrenching or terrifying or challenging—when we are alone and trying to figure it all out, we are like the infant, still learning to trust the Lord in this season, this situation, this challenge. Still learning to understand His provision, to be quieted by His love.

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When you have exhausted your expression of confusion and grief, you’ll find you’re still on His amazing lap, you remain in His loving embrace, and you still have his complete unmerited acceptance. There, you’ll find yourself still. Quiet. Safe. At peace. And so near to your King—exactly where He wants you to be.