Running Out Of Excuses

Last weekend I took two days off. On Sunday, I was getting antsy. I just wanted to run!!!! (That is how I felt) The whole afternoon I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. It is pretty bad when you are having withdrawals from running. That night I couldn’t sleep. I realized I was making running an idol.

God has been teaching me to put him before everything else. Jesus says in Luke 15:26-27, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparision-your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even your own life. Otherwise you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my own disciple.” There are thousands of excuses we can come up with for not seeking the Lord. It could be work, school, running, or a number of other things. These things in the end will not matter. In the end there are two things that will matter. The first is knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him. The second is telling others about Jesus so they too can have a relationship with God.

So the question for you and me to contemplate is what is holding us back from having a deeper relationship with Him? Are you making an excuse not to know and follow Him above everything else?

Prayer: Father, so many times I fail to put you as the most important thing in my life. Please forgive me for those times I make idols out of the gifts you give me. Help me to seek and follow you above everything else. I ask you would take away my idols and help me to glorify you in everything I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Upward, Outward or Stooping Love

Grace.

As God has been unveiling a tiny piece of the beauty and magnificence surrounding such an intangible concept, I sit awe-struck in the stands. It’s so incomprehensible that all of humanity can’t wrap their minuscule brains around it. It’s so beautiful. So totally unexpected in the story of mankind throughout history. It’s so beyond us, far above anything we could have ever come up with.

I mean, really, would you have come up with the concept of ‘grace?’ Treat un-respectable people with respect. Treat unloving people with love. Treat anti-God people with the gift of God. Our whole flesh nature cries out for justice, for fairness, for consequences and rewards. At least most of us can understand the concept of sin and the separation of unholy beings from a Holy God. That makes logical sense — if we are willing to admit it.

But Grace? It’s a twist in the entire plot. It’s a fourth dimension exploding our three-dimension world.

Stooping down to lift us up out of our sinful humanity, our utter depravity, our desperate rebellion. Releasing us from our sin, by taking our place so we would have the option to never pay the PENALTY. Forever.

That astounding mercy is great enough. But Grace doesn’t stop.

Letting us out of our dungeon. Forever. To be free from the PROBLEM of sin and live in HIS FREEDOM.

Wow. And Grace keeps going.

Welcoming our filthy existence daily into HIS PRESENCE.

BAM! Even if I could possibly comprehend the cross, I would never imagine in a million years that He would ever want to see us again. Saving from sin, maybe, but saving us to Himself? I mean, really? Daily put up with us?

Not only that, but ADOPTING us as HIS CHILDREN. Identifying HIS holy and precious name with our dragged-in-the-mud title.

It gets better. The privilege and honor of Him COMMISSIONING us to be HIS IMAGE-BEARERS to a lost world. Flat out GIVING His precious name to US. Wow. What responsibility and trust.

And not only that, but promising to GO WITH US, to DWELL INSIDE US and be our STRENGTH, our INNER CORE, our PROTECTION, and our GRACE TO OTHERS.

We can’t even give others grace. We have to borrow His grace to give. Get that.

In class this summer, one of the girls repeated a quote from the book we’re reading through: “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.”

I attached to this quote, but something about it rubbed me wrong. And then I realized: it correctly defined what I give others as Not Grace. Hardly affection, at best. Often more bordering worship. I love in order to be loved.

The reason is because I’m not stooping. I’m on the same level as the rest of humanity. Each one of us, made in Christ’s image. Each one of us, blind and desperate without Him. I deserve nothing, so can’t demand any rights to be respected by others. The love I give others is usually barely that. Selfish love. Not grace.

Only God truly gives Grace.

And maybe that’s why it remains so pure, marvelous, and beyond my wildest dreams.

Strength 10X

“While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jarius, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Over hearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid just believe.” Mark 5:21-43

This summer I went into my three month internship with some expectations. Some of them were met, others were not. Having been at Gospel for Asia for a month last year, I did not expect to be out of my comfort zone as much as some of the other interns. Boy, was I wrong.

Everything was going well until one day we went to Celebrate Freedom. There we were to pass out the new No Longer a Slumdog books. To be honest, I was scared and I told another intern straight out, “I don’t think I can do this.” Now, I’ve been at multiple events in the past representing Gospel for Asia but this time I was intimidated because I actually had to STOP people who wouldn’t normally stop at this kind of booth.  I was really insecure about this. After our group prayed to God though, it was almost as if He was strengthening all of us to go on and I noticed as my time went on, I became more and more excited about passing out the books.

Once I was in the airport over the July 4th weekend, and I saw this man sitting by himself on the other side of the terminal. God kept on pushing me to go and talk to Him, and each time I said “no” the conviction I needed to go over there got stronger and stronger. Eventually it go so strong, I knew I had to go and talk to him. So I went over and sat with Him and started asking Him some questions. I knew God wanted me to give Him a gospel tract, but I went away before being able to give him a Gospel tract. I was too afraid.

God, as He always does used my failure as a time of teaching. He comforted me saying, saying, “Even though you fail, I still love you.” That really boggled my mind a lot.

Also during this time, I came to the place in Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll where it talked abouat not fearing being the most common command of Jesus. This greatly encouraged me during this time.

I’m still not perfect. God will continue to challenge me to get out my comfort zone, as he challenges all of us in our weaknesses. Yet, one thing I do know, God will work through us as we turn to Him whether through our weakness our strengths.

 

 

The Plane Had Technical Problems!

Today I was in the airport flying from my internship with Gospel for Asia. I was observing all the people walking by, and I was thinking “All these people are going to Hell unless they believe in Jesus.” I was too afraid to say anything about it, or to pass out Gospel tracts to the people passing. The first plane I was going to be on got canceled due to technical problems, so I decided to put a Gospel tract on my seat. I hope someone picks it up and comes to know Jesus through it.

Anyway, I got on the plane and I was sitting a woman. I don’t know her name. I started talking to her a little bit just about the weather and about where we came. I sensed God wanted me to give her a Gospel tract, but I kind of brushed it  off. She started reading a magazine. Midway through the flight I was still thinking about giving a Gospel tract to her. I excused myself from sharing a Gospel tract at that time, by thinking “I don’t care about sharing the Gospel at this time. I just want to sleep.”  So I went to sleep, because I was tired. I woke up, and the thought that I wanted to give her a Gospel tract came back. This was an hour long flight, so at this point I did not have much time to give it to her. So I prayed to God, “Father, please give me an opportunity to share this with her.” Finally at the end I gave the Gospel tract to her and what she said blew me away. It was a Charlie Brown, “What is Christmas all About?” tract and she told me she appreciated it and she would share it with her grandsons.

The reason why I share this, is because often times when I am in a situation where God calls me to share the Gospel with someone I fail a lot. Most of it is due to my self centeredness and not wanting to get out of my comfort zone for the sake of Christ. It is important to remember it is only through Christ’s strength we are able to share the Gospel with others. Without His strength we are not able to do anything and will often times get frightened like I did. It is only when we listen to God’s voice not Satan’s or our own voice we are able to serve Jesus.

I do not want to make the impression we have to go around feeling guilty every time we fail.  Those times we fail  (even though He has told us to go tell some one), God is so gracious to forgive us time after time. I know God forgives me for those times I have a careless attitude and fail to obey Him. At those times, he picks me back up and tells me to keep going and to fix my eyes on Him.  It’s almost as if God breathes His love back into me and empowers me to keep on going.

We’ve Prayed How Many Times This Week?

When I prepared to pack my bags for this adventurous world of Carrollton, Texas and Gospel For Asia, I had two rather small minded objectives:

1. I would finally catch up on my books (of which I brought a few).

2. I would finally escape from the pressing issues back home.

Today, as I write this, I can say that I have not been able to pick up any of the books I brought with me and not only am I going back to the issues I left, I am going to have to face them.

All of that to say, my expectations for this “1 month internship” were completely shattered.

And then there’s all this praying.

I have had  to realize that the staff and students here pray CONSTANTLY. I mean, incredibly consistantly. It doesn’t matter whether they want to or not, though, because  its rather necessary.

I dont think that I expected anything more or anything less. I think I just didn’t expect any of it.

But oh, what joy it has been to have my expectations of people and experiences completely destroyed because really, I am the only one who is hindered by them.

So I go into the deep places of my mind and of my heart and I see that all of these expectations, or lack there of, were made to awaken me from a sleep that I had not known I was overcome with.

But as I wake, I am entrusted with the knowledge of my ability to speak to God constantly. Without ceasing.

And I know in my heart that all this praying was what I should have been doing all along.