On November 3, the church recognized International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. As I thought about and prayed for my brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, I also thought about being a martyr. I hear testimonies of people who have laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel – and I think, “And that is worth it.”
I know that it is worth it to live for Jesus, and to lay down my life for His sake.
But why do I somehow think that living for Jesus is not worth losing sleep over, or is not worth being inconvenienced by? That being Jesus’ disciple is not worth giving up my comfortable life for?
I do believe that following Christ is worth giving my life and my everything for. But very often, the choices I make and the way I live my life do not reflect that.
Something is wrong here. Following Jesus IS worth everything. So I need to start living like it.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25
“Lay Me Down” by Chris Tomlin has been like the theme song of the 2013 January class of School of Discipleship. At the beginning of the year we all went to different churches together and almost every Sunday we heard this song playing. Either we would sing it in the service, hear it playing after the service, or someone had it in their head and was singing it.
At first, we just thought it was a great song. I had never even heard it before coming to the School of Discipleship. Then, as we continued to hear it we figured maybe God was speaking to us through it. After hearing/ singing it over and over and over again, I thought, “Hey – this could be our theme song!”
The whole song talks about giving up all we are for the Lord to use however He chooses. The motto for School of Discipleship is “Can you die to yourself for one year?” I think this song is the answer to that question. Not only does this song talk about laying our lives down for Christ, but it says “It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way, ALWAYS!” Those are some pretty powerful words and they have challenged me a lot. Am I willing to joyfully lay down my entire life and say “Lord, whatever You want me to do and wherever You want me to go, my answer will always be, yes Lord, send me?”
This is what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for me and you. What choice do we have, but to give it back and die for Him. He has promised the greatest reward if we do. Praise the Lord for salvation and the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on that cruel cross.
May our prayer be, “I lay me down, I’m not my own, I belong to you alone, lay me down, lay me down. Take this life and let it shine, lay me down, lay me down, Jesus.” – Chris Tomlin
Singing around the campfire while camping!
Grace is so amazing! It completely boggles my mind! I don’t understand how the God of the universe could bestow grace upon us humans. To think, that because of His grace, I get to spend eternity with Him forever! If he would have given justice, hell would have been our destination after death. If it was mercy, God might have let us just live in an earth state for eternity. But no, He gave us…me grace! I can look forward to being in His presence till the end of time and beyond!
Looking forward to being with Him forever is staggering as it is, but I also have the chance to live in freedom until I wait for that day. His grace frees me to be no longer have to obey the enemy with his temptations, or my own fallen flesh. Through grace, I can live free from the bondage of these things, as well as my own pride and legalistic thinking.
Knowing all this, my mind (like I said before) is completely blown! I am reminded that the Lord loves me (I will never be able to understand how much He does) This makes me want to spend all my time with Him, alone. Just the two of us. To have no distractions keeping me away from knowing Him more.
This amazing grace is, well…amazing to know about, but it is so much better to live! Jesus has helped me to, more or less, chill out. I tend to be very legalistic, and when I make a mistake, I feel like a failure (which is not true). As I apply this grace, I am reminded that I will make mistakes, but God does not view me as a failure. He views me as what I will be when He is done perfecting me. I can’t tell you how encouraging and relieving that is!
When I am reminded of this grace that God has shown towards me, I find it easier to have grace for others as well. I need to continue to have grace for others, because the Lord is working in their lives as He is working in mine. He might be working on different characteristics or sins hidden deep down inside. I should let God be God and not judge my brother or sister because they might not have the same opinion on the issue being discussed. Grace gives me room to respect, and even more importantly, to accept their opinion. To have an open mind that is ready to hear different views on a topic. I know, and am reminded how much I didn’t deserve God’s grace, and this allows me to give grace to others.
I can’t say that I have attained the grace yet in all areas of my life, but I sincerely hope that one day, I will be able to say I am completely free. Free in Christ, free indeed. Free at last.
I remember when I landed in Texas on August 17th, 2012, after a long flight from my hometown Boise, ID. I got off the plane, my eyes red from crying most of the flight over (after an emotional goodbye with my family and best friend), and made my way to the baggage claim. I got a text from my house mentor, someone I had never met and only talked to on the phone briefly, and told her I was short and wearing an orange shirt. She found me and I remember walking out of the airport and being smacked in the face with the heat and humidity that makes mid-August infamous in Texas for. The drive to my apartment was so much to take in. The sky felt so huge…and I realized that’s because there were no mountains. Everything was flat. And brown. I remember thinking, ok, Lord, here I am sacrificing this year to You like You asked. Let’s get it over with so I can get on with the life I’ve dreamed of having – being a pilot in the Air Force, maybe studying Journalism, and eventually becoming a missionary pilot (long down the road, that is).
Here I am, nearly a year later, still disliking Texas and the heat as much as when I first came, but so thankful for the year I’ve had here and so completely changed by the Lord that I’ll be coming back to live here and serve as a full-time staff member of Gospel For Asia for as long as the Lord wills me to. Isn’t that crazy? Tell me this is where I would be a year ago and I would have smacked you! Just kidding. But seriously, when you buckle down and seek the Lord’s will – actually desire to know what HE wants for you, not what YOU would like Him to want for you – surprising things are going to happen. You might just have to give up dreams you’ve cherished since you were tiny. You might have to give up comforts, like living in an area of the country that is absolutely beautiful and perfect to go to one that nearly kills you with its humidity and heat and insanely large insects. You might have to accept the fact that you won’t be around for as many family holidays as you would like…you might miss important family milestones and even feel a bit lonely, seperated from the people you’ve lived with and loved all your life.
It’s different for each person, but giving things up comes with picking up your cross and following our Savior. Does that sound depressing? It’s difficult, yes. But when I understand that the desires of my heart are now irreversably entwined with the desires the Lord has for me, and when I dwell on His incredible love, and how like in Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete only in Him, and chapter 3:3, my life is hidden with Christ, and He is now my life, then my perspective changes and there is nothing I would rather be doing than following where He leads.
Home is with Him. That’s one thing I’ve learned this year. If He calls me to Antarctica it would be all right, because He is with me in Antarctica and I am fulfilling the purpose He created me for by obeying Him.
Spending a year here at Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship has taught me a marvelous paradox…to obtain freedom, I must become a slave. To experiance life to the fullest, I must die – only in sacrifice will I gain my heart’s desire. Prayer is the most powerful weapon given to mankind – the ability to enter the presence of the Lord God Almighty and to intercede before His throne. Fellowship and transparency with the body of believers is vital to spiritual growth. Brokenness and submission are worthy goals I will be striving all my life to attain. And the greatest of all is LOVE.
As my year here ends, so does this chapter of my life. But the full story, the great adventure, is just beginning.
Desiring godliness is one thing, living it is a whole different story! In his book “Touching Godliness” Bro. K.P. does a marvelous job at breaking this subject down in a way that is easy to understand. He captures your attention with both Biblical examples and stories as well as with true to life occurrences from his own life. The message this book gives has been so long forgotten that anyone who truly grasps the message that is portrayed within its pages will, with God’s help, be able to enjoy a life that is lived in the very center of God’s will.