Thursday, October 18, 2012

Living the Kind of Life Christ Lived.

During my quiet time this morning with the Lord, my heart spoke of the struggles I'm having with how increasingly "mean-spirited" people seem to be towards anyone who doesn't see things as they do. The cutting and biting remarks are easily spoken and shared on just about every news program and are tossed about freely even from a friend's Facebook page; without any regard as to whither their words are offending someone they actually consider to be a friend!

So, I asked the Lord to reveal to my heart what I am suppose to do with all of this meaness in the world. How should I respond when someone offends me or offends my values.  What kind of life am I called to live in a "mean" world ? 

In God's Word I found my answer....

I am not called to love others because they agree with me. I am to love even those who believe the exact opposite of what I do. 

I do not need to wonder why and worry about what others have said or done against me or my values. I need only be concerned with the word of my mouth, the thoughts of my heart, and my actions towards other to be a reflection of Christ. 

I have discover one of God's greatest blessings in this life. 

I don't have to live my life under the pressure of being someone who must try to please the fickleness of this ever changing world. I have found how to feel at peace with my enemies and can even endure the suffering of hardships with confidence in God's goodness, all because I have Jesus' love living in me. 

There is so much more to living a wonderful life than living it as if I am at the center of it all. The less I become…the more of Christ becomes who I am... and the greater my contentment. The greater my contentment in Christ...the more often I get a glimpse of Jesus and can share His presence with others.


   "This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.

He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.

They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." ~ 1 Peter 2:21-25  The Message (MSG)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Church?

As a child I grew up attending church and I was baptized when I was 9 years old on a Easter morning. I recall my faith as a child as being one where I knew God was real and that Jesus loved me. I believed Jesus died on a cross for my sins...and 3 days later arose...ensuring my own eternal destiny in Heaven through faith in Christ. 

When I was a teenager I stopped attending church...which means I ended my education and my understandings in the things of God. When I stopped attending church, I not only stopped receiving godly teachings but it also ended my experiencing and seeing the application of these teachings in how they would direct the path God intended for me to walk upon.

The results of my no longer being a part of a church family was this...instead of my morals, my actions and my thoughts being transformed by morals, my actions, and my thoughts were transformed by who I decided God was according to what an unbelieving world taught me about God. 

Instead of being encouraged by the teachings and support of a church family to discover and enjoy God's perfect love which satisfies the soul....I was encouraged by the teachings of the world to enjoy and desired any kind of love that makes you feel good. This kind of love I discovered could never fully satisfy the longings of my heart and left my very soul always in search for something more. 

Thankfully...God is patient and God is faithful.

I was 39 years old and I thought my life was "perfect"! I was happily married, both my parents were alive and well and I had lots of fun friends. My husband Brad and I had careers we loved and we both were making great money that allowed us not to worry about paying bills and enough extra to save and spend on things we wanted. To me...I had it all...but instead of feeling secure and content...I was full of fear. I feared losing one "thing" of my perfect life. I feared the death of a loved one more than anything else...but the loss of my financial security was high as well.  

It was in this fear...that I finally turned to the only One who could help me. So I prayed and Jesus answered my fear in His perfect love. Before my head lifted or my tears stopped flowing...I knew in my heart I needed to return to church.
I knew by God's wisdom and grace that my confidence, my security, my understanding and all my resolve to remain faithful to God...would be found and met there.  

My husband who had never attended church amazingly was not only willing to go to church with me, but wanted to go! He was a professional photographer at the time and had shot a wedding at a church where the minister was someone he instantly liked and he felt we would "fit in". So that's where we went.

The first few months we attended church we met many friendly and kind people there who we were amazed to discover seemed... "normal"!

The sermons were ones that applied Bible verses to the circumstances in our life or gave us godly direction as to how we could respond to our circumstances with God's wisdom and love instead of our own. 

We began attending a Sunday Bible study class at church and bought a Life Application Bible to read and study at home...both of these things helped us develop a clearer understanding of not only God...but how God wanted us to respond to His teachings and His Will for our lives. 

Being with a church family gave us the support we desperately needed to make some pretty drastic changes in our perception of how we saw many social issues as well as how we saw ourselves and others. Developing strong friendships with other Christians through our church gave us the kind of friends God knew we would be needing not only for the good times in life, but during times of great trials and heartache...that this life surely brings to us all. 

God's church is where Brad and I discovered our need and desire  to continue in our   understanding of God and His Word. Church is also where we learn how God had designed us to serve and live for Christ...instead of living and serving only our own selfish desires. 

We began serving in small ways at first. I signed up to greet people at the doors of church on Sunday mornings while Brad signed up to serve communion. We both joined the choir which led Brad eventually into singing on a praise team and even filling in for the music minister on occasion.

Eventually and as God designed for Brad to do...Brad  left his successful photography business and enter the ministry as a Music and Worship minister. 

Me... I became involved in attending women's bible studies that led me into leading them. God has designed me to do...I accepted the opportunity to teach adult Bible studies on Sundays as well as continue to lead women's studies during the week. amazes me to this day what God accomplishes through His church! As a teenager and throughout much of my adult life I rejected the church and what I assumed it was teaching. I thought I wasn't rejecting God by rejecting His church. But I was wrong.

As I look back, I know that my need for God that night 20 years ago included my need for His church and His people. God answered my need for Him, by providing me through His church the means to discover and become who I am in Christ.