Jesus didn’t just die to forgive your sins…

I really enjoy sharing the Gospel. I don’t do that much, at least not as much as I think I should.  Sometimes I don’t because I lack opportunity. Often, I’d rather just sit down with a Christian guy during discipleship and dig into their lives or read a good book. Or I feel too awkward to have that conversation with a random person in a restaurant.

The thing is, once I begin sharing my faith and talking about Jesus, I really enjoy it. It is fun and life-giving, and really not that awkward. The thing is, when I share the Gospel with someone else, i wind up sharing it with myself too! I get to hear that wonderful good news again too and get dwell on all of God’s good mercies and grace to us. When i proclaim Christ to someone else, my own heart is awakened to the wonderful reality and exceedingly good news of the gospel – of what Jesus has done for me!

Of course, i get to see God work in someone’s life often. People begin thinking about God, or become comforted or even give their live over to Jesus.

 

In the past 2 weeks, I have been able to share about Christ with a good amount of students. In several instances, almost each of them, though coming from christian families and going to church often and meeting with us because of an eager desire to be part of a christian organization-  nearly every person, failed to grasp the breadth of the gospel. Perhaps they said follow Jesus or obey Jesus’ teachings but at the root, many said if they were good enough, they would be saved.

One guy even said (and others implied) Jesus died to forgive us of our sin (correct), so if we do more good than bad, then we will be saved (incorrect).

 

Truth to be told, I don’t think I understood the wonderful doctrine of imputation for a long time either, even beyond college. In fact, even after I joined staff, yea, even this summer reading the Man Christ Jesus, my understanding was further expanded. So, perhaps I should not be so surprised. Indeed, it has made me wonder, how many of you have ever grappled with this for yourself.

 

The Good News of the Gospel isn’t just the Jesus died to forgive you of your sins. The Good News includes (among many other good things) that Jesus lived a perfect sinless life as well, and gives you His righteousness, when you believe in Him.

 

It is sometimes called the doctrine of imputation. It is a fun word to say, and may make you sound or feel smarter saying it. But the good news isn’t that you appear smarter or appear more righteous, but indeed in fact, in Christ, we are righteous.

We are not more righteous, we are righteous. That is, it is not like an upgrade, it is not that i am a better person than someone else now.  I have been given the righteousness of Christ. Jesus does not make a path considerably easier, He is the way, He is our righteousness.

This is not to say I no longer need or want to pursue righteousness. In fact, this truth frees me and empowers me  and even encourages me to become more like Christ.

Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Grace is giving us something we do not.

Jesus not only forgives our sins. Jesus gives us His righteousness. Jesus didn’t just die for us, He lived for us!

And that is why Ephesians 2:8-9 may seem like an easy out, but actually quite difficult for many to accept. To accept it, means i must completely rely on the work of Christ, rather than myself. IT is to admit i am not good enough or strong enough to merit God’s favor- no matter how much i try, I can’t do it. It is also saying to Christ, I am going to trust that what You did was enough.

We asked someone to explain those verses today and he responded “God is saying to not take advantage of His grace.” I said “While it is true we don’t want to abuse His grace, this verse actually seems to say to not miss out on taking advantage of His grace. It is offered, take it!”

The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a hard concept to grasp. It is mystical to be sure. How does this happen? How do i just obtain His righteousness? This is where faith comes in. I have to trust what God’s Word says.

When Jesus died on the cross my sin was laid on Him, but also when i trust Him, He gives me His righteousness – it is the Great exchange! And a pretty good deal for us! (Kind of like when the Pacers traded Paul George for Victor Olidapido- OKC got rid of a terrible contract, and received one of the best players in the NBA).

 

In college someone said it this way- Jesus didn’t die just to return us to the garden of Eden and give us a fresh start. No He did more – Now, we get to heaven.

 

The Gospel isn’t just a mulligan. The Gospel isn’t merely a fresh start. The good news of the gospel is so much ‘gooder’ than that! It goes beyond that. My relationship with God is secure! His love for me will never, ever end. I can not lose my relationship with Him! Nothing I do! or can do! Will separate me from the love of God. Even just writing about this gets me excited.

 

See, a few months ago, we adopted our daughter Paige. Right now she loves me. She gets super excited when i come home from work and yells out “Daddy! Daddy!” But she may not always feel that way. Down the line she may not see that we don’t look alike, and perhaps she won’t want to listen to me- our other daughter feels this way already at 6- but no matter what- She will never stop being my daughter. It is official. We have the papers. Her name was officially changed and her birth certificate and everything. It doesn’t say used to be named this. It says she is our daughter. Her name is Paige Hope James.

 

The same goes for our biological daughter Halle. She often hates us these days. She fights us and disobeys and literally tries to hurt us. To be honest, for us she can sometimes be difficult to like. Her actions and words and choices are certainly discouraging and devestating.
But I never stop loving her. Even when I want to, I can’t. I get so angry, but I can’t stop loving her. My patience boils over and I lose it, but I never lose my desire to love and protect her and bless her.

 

God’s love for me is so much greater than this. I am very imperfect. I am perhaps the worst dad in the world. I know i am pretty bad at least. God is our perfect Father. And since we are seen as Christ, we are not just treated as forgiven friend, we are indeed the children of God! We have been adopted into His family! And that will never stop.

 

I asked someone what difference this would make, and he said “probably none. I’d still feel bad when i sinned…”
I responded “Yeah, I can see that. It is perhaps right to feel that way… but what did Adam & Eve do when they sinned? What was their reaction when God came?” They ran away, they hid. “Right, but since Christ has taken away all our sin, and we no longer have to earn our way to God- we no longer need to live in shame or live in fear. We can always come to God. He is always there with open arms.”

 

The Gospel frees us. I am completely accepted and fully loved. I will still sin, but when I do, i don’t need to hide from God, My relationship is secure. And because of that, it allows me to grow with God and pursue Him and know Him. And oh! What wonderful news that is.

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Why did we move again?

Although, we moved in May, we just finished our 2nd month living in our new old house in downtown Muncie.

Finding this house, for the price, seemed like such a good deal, especially in March- it doesn’t have AC, but we’ll be ok. It has not been ok, it has been hot. There is one window AC unit, but it only cools one room, and there are no screens on the windows, so the place becomes unbearable in many ways.

The night we moved in, we had to evacuate because of carbon monoxide- the fire chief said it was good thing the detector went off or you would have died. We had further gas problems as we tried to get a washer & dryer installed, which took way longer than it should have and resulted in a lot of frustration, and still isn’t completely resolved.

The latest news comes as I saw a little furry creature skirt across our living room floor. It was kind of a blur… and as i searched, i couldn’t see anything. I hoped maybe i was imagining something… but sure enough there are mice in the house.

On the plus side, Halle said she saw it, and it makes her happy because it is so cute.

It is the only thing she likes about the new place.
Before we bought the place, the kids were excited. But now they hate it.

When we came back from Colorado, Josiah quipped “this doesn’t feel right.”

It didn’t. We had only lived in the house for 4 weeks before we left for the summer- meaning we actually lived longer in that apt in Fort Collins than we had in our “home.”

We travel a lot and spend a lot of time away from home, so that may seem where we live doesn’t matter that much, but actually it is reverse, we always want some place to come home to.

I miss our old home. As much as I hated it when we lived there. It was quiet, and had a back yard the kids could play in, nice neighbors,carpet on the floors, nice paint on the wall and AC, oh how i miss the AC.

So… why did we move again?

The quick answer is we moved here to have an influence on downtown Muncie, to help bring restoration, to help plant a church, and to glorify God.

We know that to be true, but that isn’t why i ask myself this question, and already started looking at zillow.

No, I ask these questions because what has happened since we moved.

  • We had the stress of pakcing up and moving
  • We almost died our first night in
  • We face unexpected problems and costs with the house
  • Our van got totaled while driving in the new neighborhood
  • The new van got keyed 2 days after we got it
  • Our kids complain about living here all the time
  • And now we have mice

On top of that is this- are we really making a difference? Were we the right people to do this? We haven’t really got out on the best foot with the neighbors.

I mean, after a long day of being with people all day, this introvert isn’t the best at meeting more people. Beyond that the kids demand time and drain energy. We don’t seem to have the time or energy, let alone skill or finances to really make our place look much nicer and improve the neighborhood.

As i read articles, i can feel discouraged that we are not skilled enough or good enough to do the work i want to do.

So, what should I do now? Give up? Make the most of a bad situation? Move? Maybe we’re not the right people for this.


What is happening here?

I was told when i take a step of faith, God would be faithful. God would be with me.

We may look at stories in the Bible and say look those guys took a step of faith and everything worked out for them- how come it doesn’t for me?

We read that Shadrach, Meshach and Abdenego say “Our God will deliver us and even if He does not…” or that Esther says “If I perish, I perish…” but in neither case do they suffer. They are delivered

The lie I have been fed to believe (And that i often may even promote) is once i take a step of faith, everything else will be easy.
The hardest thing is getting on the plane. The hardest thing is leaving behind. Then everything else will work out.

Certainly that first step is hard, in fact it may be the hardest thing- but that doesn’t mean the rest of the way is easy.

When i lived in East Asia i noticed this a lot. There was an attitude of, i took a step of faith to leave America and come here, now i don’t need to take any more steps of faith.

If we look at history and look at the Bible we’ll see this certainly isn;t the case.

Abraham had to leave his country, leave his home- which was hard. But his journey didn’t end there.

And yes when Abraham went to sacrifice his son, God did stop him and provided a lamb for him to sacrifice instead- yet that does not mean his journey was not difficult!

Paul was spared death repeatedly, constantly delivered. On the flip side he suffered all the more because of it. He was grieved by physical pain but also emotional pain.

Moses was a reluctant follower- and what was his reward? Basically everything he feared and worse. Rejection, new trial after new trial and constant criticism.

He appeared to Pharaoh and was rejected. In fact the first time he came instead of letting the people go, he made their labor even harder! The people of Israel he came to help, hated him.  He had to go to Pharaoh not just two or three times, but ten times(!) before the people were finally delivered. And even then Pharaoh again pursued him – and the people of Israel complained against him.

Moses then again delivered them but faced constant trials and troubles. After every miraculous deliverance, the people would find new things to complain about. It was never-ending. And the people made false gods on top of this, and continually rejected his shepherding.

The life of Moses is a good example of what a life of faith and ministry will likely look like for many.

So, i must ask myself why i am doing this?

Is it for a comfortable, easy life?
Is it for fame and respect and to build a reputation?
Is it to feel good about myself?
Is it to see something happen? To make a difference?
Yes, we came here to make a difference in Muncie, but ultimately that can’t be why we came. We moved to Muncie because we felt God leading us to move. We came out of obedience and faith and to glorify God. We don’t know if we will do things well or if we will make that much of a difference in people’s lives.

Yet, even if things are difficult, even if we see little fruit, even if it is uncomfortable- God is still faithful.
There are a lot of nice things to like about living here. We are super close to the kid’s school and our church. We can walk to the Y, which is nice for extra child-care. And we’re right next door to McDonalds- which may be good or bad. We and our kids are exposed to the realities of homlessness and there are opportunities to get involved in a community. Eventually this place will feel more like home.

 

But it will never be home. Christ is preparing an eternal home for us- and that home is with Him. He came to rescue me and you, and provided deliverance from sin and access to God thru His life & death and resurrection. My soul longs for rest and comfort. Jesus says come to ME and I will give you rest. He has sent His Spirit to be a Holy Comforter. And He is coming again to take me to an eternal home to be with Him forever.

 

So, what do I do now? I continue to walk by faith. I continue seeking to honor God. I rest in the Gospel. I take the next step. I hope in Christ.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16

 

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God[c] is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

 

The children may complain. The mice may pester. The heat may weary. I can rejoice in the Lord. I can find strength in Him. Serving the City, while Seeking the one which is to come.

The one when Prayer doesn’t work

Have you ever wondered if prayer actually works?

You pray and pray and see no fruit, no results. You’re still sick, you still don’t have a job, your child still isn’t married, you’re still single, still infertile, your friend still died…

You pray and pray and pray. You keep a prayer journal. You try striking deals. You fast. You beg, you cry, you are earnest.

Nothing.

Does it matter? I mean this world is full of trouble everywhere. And it seems to be getting worse.

Perhaps God is angry with us. Maybe He is too busy with other things to worry about my meager needs. Or maybe I am not doing enough, not praying hard enough, long enough.

Or maybe, maybe prayer just doesn’t work.

 

That may be right. Maybe prayer doesn’t work. I prayed for my sister to get better, and she still died from cancer. I pray for support to come in, and we still need a lot more. We pray for Josiah’s allergies, and he still can’t eat anything. We’ve been praying about health issues and it seems like God can’t do anything about it- the only solution is more drugs. We pray for laborers, and we get a few people, but not many. We pray for people to come to Christ, but only a few believe. Does prayer work?

Look at story of Elijah.

23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention (I Kings 18:23-29).

They pray, they plead, they cut themselves. And nothing happens.

Still like this today. In Tibet they spin wheels- big wheels, and small wheels in efforts to pray, to earn favor. They bow and prostrate themselves in effort to beg & plead.

Some places people dance, and scream and make huge gestures towards the sky.

And in corners of rooms, in churches across America- people offer penance.

Some think by their many words they will be heard- if they make it glamerous, say the right phrase- prayers will be answered.

Prayer doesn’t work.

IT is not our efforts, not our words that change things.
In fact is not even our sincerity and good intentions. It is God who changes things. It is God who works.
Prayer is a tool. God is the one who works.

I use a phone to talk to someone. But it is not the phone I connect with, it is the person on the other side. The walkie talkie allows me to communicate to my commander to someone who can help me. But it is not the walkie talkie that saved me- it is the person on the other side who delivers.
We are thankful for phones & walkie talkies, but careful not to love it.

The important thing is who we pray to. Not what we pray about or how we pray.
Prayer doesn’t work. God does. Perhaps it seems like semantics, but I think it can have tremendous impact on our heart, our faith, and on the world.

If we are praying to a false god, or praying to a god we make up, or to/for ourselves- nothing will happen. It is not about our intentions or sincerity. It is not our effort in prayer. It is about God.

God is not a genie who must act according to our whims. He is free. He is sovereign.
So prayer is not a magic formula or incantation. It’s not like we have to pray first or our meeting/planning is not blessed. Perhaps we can & should pray- but we still need to rely on God, not ourselves, not our prayers. Let us rely not on prayer, but on God.
Since it is God who works, then we can not and do not need to rely on our efforts in prayer, but simply plead with God. I don’t need to fear if I am too sinful, or not praying right. I don’t need to work harder in prayer.

When we pray then – we beg; we plead. God is the one who works. We communicate with Him as with a person. And we wait on Him.

Yet, since it is God who works- we can have confidence.

God knows what He is doing.
God is wise.
God is powerful
God has a plan.
God is faithful.

We pray trusting God. Trusting He will do what is best. Trusting He can do something about a problem. God will work all things for good, for His purposes, for His glory.

 

And so when we ask something and it doesn’t happen- what do we do?

  1. We thank God for His wisdom and goodness
  2. We seek to know God, seek His glory.
  3. We ask for understanding and direction.
  4. We keep praying, until we can’t anymore

 

Elijah prayed- and God answered

James tells us He prayed and it did not rain, he prayed again and it did.

Who was Elijah?
Bible describes him as Elijah the tishbite.
Not Elijah the prophet, the great man, the holy man, the spiritual giant.
Elijah was a man like us.
And the effective prayer of a rightesous man availeth much.
God works thru prayer.
He has designed us to pray

  • To show His faithfulness, power, glory
  • To build dependence on Him
  • To build our relationship with Him

And because of Jesus, we can come into His presence.

See,  in some ways it makes sense all the things the Baal worshippers did, that the Tibetans do now. I mean, how can we come into the presence of an Almighty God? How can we ask God to intervene?

Jesus paid the price with His blood, so we can enter His presence. Jesus intercedes on our behalf. And the Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray now.

What should our response be?

To pray

… even when we doubt or unsure
… even if we don’t know how
… even if we have prayed a long time already

We pray to a God

… who is all-powerful
… who exists outside of time
… who is sovereign over everything
… who hears our prayers
… who delights in us
… who is faithful
… who is good and loves us

Let’s Pray for

… for forgiveness
… for healing and help
… for laborers
… for God’s glory
… for God’s will|
… for the miraculous

  • Not just what we have seen
  • Not just for what we can do ourselves
  • Not just what we think possible
  • Not just what we can imagine

Pray for God to move & God to act.

This world needs help. I need help. You need help. God can help, so let’s pray, and ask him to work!

If God is Sovereign & Jesus is King, then what should we have to do with politics?

Back when I started walking with God I read a book called the Jesus I Never Knew. The author Philip Yancy noted how Jesus never seemed to care much about politics but about people knowing Him. He was not interested in an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one.

And with that,  I never cared about politics.
…Not that I cared for it much before that.

This year more than any other – perhaps because of social media, perhaps because of my age- politics seems to be more center stage.

Much is made about the religious right and then how you don’t need to be republican to follow Jesus… politics seems to be a big issue.

At other points many Christians have called upon others to vote – that is until the Christians voted for a candidate or policy they didn’t like…

And perhaps when things don’t seem to go right you hear people say,  Jesus is King. Or God is sovereign.

And that’s true. No matter who the president is, Jesus is still King. And no matter what happens- God is sovereign.

So if God is sovereign- does that mean it doesn’t matter? We don’t need to vote or we don’t need to care?

If Jesus is King, does it matter who president is?

What are we to do?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers or to have researched this topic extensively, but here are some thoughts

 

  1. Place hope in God
  2. People are more important than policies (or opinions)
  3. Pray
  4. Prepare yourself to make wise decisions
  5. Personally work to bring about change

Place your Hope in God

Jesus is King and God is sovereign. He is our Savior, our shield, our shelter, our strong tower. He is our help, our hope.

He really is the only one we can trust – in the sense of His trustworthiness, honesty & faithfulness – as well as in his ability to deliver.

Peter, addressing a group of exiles – people who were facing opposition because of the government and living in a culture that was not helping them writes this

set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Set your hope FULLY on the Coming King, on the Kingdom HE is going to establish.

If we’re honest we hope in many other things. We hope for many other things. We hope for relief from our trials. We hope in money or policies or our plans or ideas. We need to hope in Jesus and for Jesus.

He is the one we need to rely on, and look to.
This means we need to find our peace in Him and joy in Him.
And this means the thing we should be talking about most, pointing others to most, campaigning for is Christ.

There is Good News for us living in a broken world – Jesus.

This may seem like mere words, or at worst can lead to ignorance & uninvolvement. However, it is important for us to remember and constantly fix our eyes on Jesus. We need this to be foundational to who we are and how we live and act amongst others.

People are more important than policies and our opinions

We may think we know the answers, the solutions to our problems- but when we allow policies to be more important than people, we are neglecting God’s command to love others.

I’m not saying not to have opinions, but watch how we think of others or treat others.
If someone has a different opinion than you, do you seek to convince them they are wrong or to understand them?

Someone’s view on politics is a great opportunity to ask questions, to seek to understand. Why do they feel that way? Why do they want that policy?

As we consider policies, we must consider why do I want this policy? Is it to benefit simply myself or am I thinking of others?

We naturally will think about ourselves, and think what benefits me benefits others- but we are quick to assume often.

What assumptions are we making about others who hold a different opinion than myself?
Do we assume young people are lazy? Do we assume some people are greedy? Do we assume people are judgmental?

How can we love people?
I never want my opinions to become an obstacle to the Gospel or a hindrance to loving someone.
This helps also as we consider our values and our vote.

 

Pray

We are commanded to pray for kings and rulers. How often do we do that? We are more apt to complain about our government leaders than pray for them- even the ones we like.

Now there may be some we didn’t vote for. We may even consider them enemies of the Gospel – still we should pray for them. Jesus said to pray for our enemies. Even if we consider them enemies we need to pray for them. Pray for Christ to work in their heart, pray for them to turn to God.

More so we should pray for them as they lead our country. Since God is sovereign, they are there by His choice. They could not be in power if God did not allow it. So we should pray for them, that they have wisdom.

We should pray for wisdom ourselves as we vote as well.

God truly is sovereign, so that allows us to pray for our government. He has the power to change things. He is working things out for good beyond what we can see or understand. He may do things in our time that will utterly astound us- like He told Habakkuk or many of the other OT prophets. That does not mean God is not sovereign, that God is not good.

God truly is our only hope- so we should pray to Him to work for His glory.

Jesus said to pray Thy Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Pray for God’s Kingdom. Pray for God’s glory.

Prepare yourself to make wise decisions

I once wrote that I not only have the right to vote but also the right to not vote. And I do think if I am not prepared, then I am not sure if I should be voting.

While I don’t think politics is the most important thing in the world, it does influence our world- so we would be wise to consider the effects of politics. We would be wise to consider different policies and different candidates.

We don’t want to just vote how someone else told us to vote. Or based on a couple sound bites. Or our upbringing. Or even just one policy.

We may not make the perfect decision, but since God is sovereign (and we hope in Him) and has given us a mind, we can use that mind to make a wise decision and trust He will do the right thing.

In the end, since we hope in Him, even if what we wanted does not come to pass, we can be content in Him. We can care for people and live in peacable ways. And we can pray for those in authority over us.

Personally work to produce change

Be the person who brings change.

We can talk a big game, but do we follow up our talk? Do we walk the walk?

We say we are pro-life- how do we demonstrate that? How do we show we value human life?

We say we love others & care for the poor- how do we demonstrate kindness? What are we giving to? How are we helping and serving others?

James says

 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:16)

And John tells us

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his [g]heart[h]against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (I John 3:16-18)

We say we are for traditional marriage – but what is our marriage like? How are we promoting healthy marriages?

The church used to be known as a place that took care of the poor. The Romans were astonished by how Christians took care of the needy. Christians founded places like the Red Cross of the YMCA.

The church should be a place where people feel loved and cared for and come to for advice or help, for sympathy, compassion and empathy. Is it?

Some say they don’t want government interfering with us or the church – but what are we doing? Perhaps if we were doing more to help others- the government wouldn’t need to.

Then others want the government to interfere to prevent abortion- but what are we doing to build relationships with people to care for pregnant moms? To care for abandoned kids? To love single moms? To shepherd teenagers?

Ultimately our hope is in God. Jesus is our King and our Savior. People need Jesus, then we should make it our aim to help people know Jesus by loving them, caring for them and talking much about Jesus.

 

 

The one with fools

Happy April!

I’ve been reflecting on thoughts about foolishness this Aprils fool’s day.

Isobel Kuehn a missionary to China reflected on I Corinthians 4 and wrote a book called in the arena. Her reflection as Christians we are on display for the world and look like fools has long stuck with me.

Sometimes it may appear foolish to follow Christ as we give up things that seem valuable to the world or not in line with the world’s thinking and we face much resistance and rejection. In fact, we may feel like fools.

Shadow of the Almighty is collection of Jim Elliot journal entries where he wrote “He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot would lose his life, martyred by those he came to serve, but his gain is far greater.
He was simply following the example of Moses who gave up the riches of Egypt for the reproach of the people of Israel for he is looking to a reward (Hebrews 11).

In fact what the bible calls a fool is one who trusts himself, looks to this world for gain- rather than trust God and seek reward in Him.

Jesus tells a parable (recorded in Luke 11) about a rich man who builds buildings for all his stuff ans says

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

According to Jesus the fool lives for this world. The fool stores up treasure on earth, instead of in heaven.

He also gives a parable of a wise man and foolish man- the wise man build his house on the rock and the foolish man builds his house on the sand.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

We can be wise or fool-  we can practice God’s Word or not.
Notice it is not enough to hear – or read- God’s Word, we must do it.

i feel like many see that and think i reading God’s Word makes me wise- well it is the information to make one wise, but only the one who does what God’s Word says is actually wise. In fact one who reads God’s Word and doesn’t do may be the most unwise. Like James says – he is like a man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like  (which is me by the way- if you seen me, you know that).

If we want to be a fool- then…
… don’t listen to God
… don’t obey God’s Word
… live for this world
… live for temporal things

God’s Word is filled with verses about foolishness and wisdom. just take a gander

And over and over again it tells us the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, obey His word, turn from sin. We are instructed to be humble. The fool does not heed God’s Word or instruction from others. The fool is wise in his own eyes.

  • Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Prov 28:26
  • The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Prov 12:15
  • The foolsays in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. Psalm 14:1

One thing for sure- God is not a fool, not foolish. He is wise. (The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man!).

His ways may seem foolish to us- but He has a plan, and it is a good plan – a great plan.

The pinacle of this is seen in the Cross.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor 1;18

So, though others may look down on us, or think we are fools – or we may feel like fools from time to time – certainly there cold be an easier way – we decide to continue to follow God. The reward is great.

These days that means we continue to raise support, continue to make phone calls, continue to reach out to others, and continue to pray.

The other day, I read somewhere – what do you do when you pray and God doesn’t answer? You keep praying.

Prayer may seem foolish when some may say just do something- but we want to continue to trust the lord and seek His provisions, depend on Him as we take steps of faith – and ask Him to do big things! Even if it seems foolish or feels foolish- we pray.

And even though we could try to pursue riches of this world, recognition from others – we seek instead reward in Christ.

So, don’t be a fool. Follow Jesus. Give up the things of this world and pursue a greater reward.