When I’m Good

By Wednesday, December 31, 2014 1 0

Maybe you grew up hearing this little poem.

Jesus loves me when I’m good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I’m bad, though it makes him very sad.

This poem breaks my heart. I am oh-so-glad that the Bible tells me Jesus loves me whether I am good or bad, but I don’t think that’s the message in these words. These words, simplified for an otherwise wonderful children’s song, mar the Gospel almost beyond recognition.

Sin is in our DNA. We’re bad, and we have been since before the first child murdered his own brother. Does Jesus live (again!) in a constant state of sorrow over our sin? If the Gospel is Good News, why is the very Bringer still sad? I don’t believe He is. The Bible says Jesus paid for our sins once and for all, to not only cover our sins but to become His righteousness (1 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus sees those He has saved as His righteousness, he considers those who put their trust in Him as “found” and we celebrate their repentance like the Prodigal Son’s father celebrated the return of his lost son in Luke 15.

Our sins grieve the Holy Spirit, scripture says, and that’s something we ought to take very seriously. I see the Holy Spirit’s jurisdiction as sanctification in my soul. The spirit is in charge of spiritual growth, in making me more like the Son, Jesus. So, naturally, sin would grieve the Holy Spirit. It is against our nature as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin separates us from God (for a Christian, not for eternity, but while sinful desires reign, the spirit does not). It hurts our communion with God and others, both of which are required for spiritual growth (1 John 1:7).

My spiritual growth, or lack thereof, doesn’t influence my worth before God. Jesus Christ alone influences my worth before God. Furthermore, my worth was established once and for all on the cross.

Thinking about God’s love for me in terms of my deeds is counter to the Gospel, which is the power unto salvation. It is also counter to my holiness, which is an important part of loving God, of growing to understand God’s love for me.

6 Days

By Tuesday, November 11, 2014 0 0

For a few years now I have felt that we are in a waiting room, a wilderness, the desert even. God is teaching us great things while we wait on Him to bring the support we need to go to Spain to plant churches. I have cried out to Him in so many ways. I have pounded on the doors of Heaven, I have reminded Him that He can act swiftly and that He should, because souls in Spain are on the line. I have beseeched Him to listen not to my prayers, but the prayers of so many others. Our partners, and little old ladies in churches where we’ve spoken, are praying that God will bring more support soon.

But He has His reasons. His timing may be painful at this moment, but it is perfect.

Here is someone who knows about waiting on God: Moses. In Exodus 24, just before God gives Moses the tablets of stone with the inscription of the law, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons and 70 men who lead Israel go up to the mountain of God and they see Him. Did you catch that? Verse 10 says, “and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.”

Oh my. This, just days after God warns quite a few times that if an Israelite even touches the mountain of God, he will die. But verse 11 says, “And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.”

And then God calls Moses even closer. I think, after a party like that, anyone would be eager to spend more time with God. So Moses goes up to the mountain of God and a cloud covers because God’s glory is so great.

The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

God throws a big party, doesn’t lay a (perfectly holy and therefore perfectly justified) hand on the Israelite leaders. God invites Moses to stay after (my paraphrase). He closes the curtain behind Moses, and everyone is wondering what God and Moses are doing together on that mountain covered by a devouring fire. Except, it appears they’re not together.

It appears that God makes Moses wait 6 days, surrounded by God’s glory on the mountain, before calling to Him from inside the cloud. 

May we recognize what a privilege it is to even set foot upon the mountain of God, and may we wait so well.

Harvests {Day 27}

By Tuesday, October 28, 2014 0 0

Sometimes when I am raising my eyebrows at the mountain of support we still have to raise to get to the field and asking God to do His thing and call people to partner with us, I remember that He has multiple harvests to bring in. Not that the number limits Him in any way, but my perspective shifts when I remember the bigger picture.

First in my mind, there’s the harvest of generous people, the Church, who must fund missions. We’re always on the lookout for people who want to be part of what God is doing in missions around the world, and we pray that God would prompt people to give generously and sacrificially to missions for the sake of the Gospel around the world.

The only reason God even has to call such people to join our team is because we answered a call of a different kind: the call to serve. So while we are traveling around, sharing how dark it is in Spain and how God has called us to shine the light of Jesus there, we represent two great needs: our need for support, and the world’s need for missionaries to share the Gospel. While we are praying that God would call people to partner with us financially so that we can go, God may also be using our story to call others to serve Him in missions. Indeed, a primary focus of ours should be calling people to live missionally wherever they are or may be called!

Simultaneously, God is drawing people to Himself who have turned from Him or who have never met Him, through the Good News.

I must get out of the way. God has work to do! His sole purpose is to bring glory to Himself, and He does it by simultaneously calling people to eternity with Him through Christ, calling people to eternal reward from Him by serving Him in missions, and calling people to share in the fruit of the labor done by missionaries by supporting them.

Good thing He is big enough for the job.

31 Stories of Preparing for the Mission Field at Seasoned with Salt // theduryees.com

A Legacy {Day 21}

By Tuesday, October 21, 2014 0 0

Before and after the Israelites make their escape from Egypt (don’t believe your Bible map for a second. It’s based on loose theories, old archeology and church “tradition,” and check this out instead), God gives detailed instructions for how to celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The point is to remember how God brought His people out of Egypt with a strong arm and pass that legacy on to every generation after.

This week I have been spending time remembering God’s faithfulness in my life; how he has delivered me, brought me out of difficult circumstances, and provided when the situation seemed impossible. I have needed these memories because I find myself needing God’s strong arm again.

This is the legacy I want to pass on to my children: not grumbling, anxiety and fearful whining, but hanging the faithfulness of God between my eyes (Exodus 13:16) if that’s what it takes, and celebrating how God already delivered us through His son Jesus Christ (this is enough!) and how He will bring us through our trials for His glory.

31 Stories of Preparing for the Mission Field at Seasoned with Salt // theduryees.com

Bumbles and Blunders {Day 18}

By Saturday, October 18, 2014 0 0

Ok. Here’s the honest reason this post is so late. I’ve had in my head for days. But it has been a battle of courage to post.

God gave me this scripture passage recently.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

(Proverbs 9 ESV)

Such a fascinating passage for me. Although the translations vary greatly in word choice (for example, words used for “reprove” in other translations: rebuke (NIV), reason with (MSG), correct (NLT). Words used for “scoffer” in other translations: mocker (NIV and others), arrogant cynic (MSG)), I don’t struggle to understand the meaning: wise people receive criticism gracefully.

Recently it has felt like we have made one mistake, bumble or blunder after another. I feel like we look like fools to everyone we meet, particularly those with whom we’re sharing our ministry. At low moments, it has felt like I am foolish even before God.

When God was calling us to missions, I prayed often that I would learn to walk in the Spirit like I never had before. I asked God to give me wisdom and discernment in areas I had never considered needing it. I sought to make all my decisions by consulting the Lord first. My desire was threefold: I wanted confirmation of my calling at every turn, I didn’t want to waste a moment that God might use to prepare or bring us to the mission field, and I wanted to be an example to those watching of what it means to walk in the Spirit.

James tells us that God answers every prayer for wisdom. I can see a growth in my life in this area of wisdom and spirit-led thinking. And yet this month I have struggled greatly with feeling stupid, unequipped, unqualified; feeling like I have misunderstood God, misunderstood my role; and wondering if I can trust what I believe God has said to me.

So far we’ve handled criticism with grace. I wouldn’t say we have loved it, but we’ve seen the value and adjusted and made amends as best we can. Others have extended grace to us as well. And I am extending grace to myself, as I know my Heavenly Father does. These feelings of insecurity are probably from the enemy. A wise mentor advised me to write down the messages I believe God has given me that I am doubting and count the ways He has confirmed Himself. So I am working on that, and repeating Galatians 1:10 to myself. The first verse I ever memorized.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Jesus Christ approves me because of Who He is and what He did. He is creating a new creature in me and the metamorphosis is hard, but worth it.

31 Stories of Preparing for the Mission Field at Seasoned with Salt // theduryees.com