Posted in discipleship, eternal things, God's sovereignty and goodness, infertility, persecution, suffering in joy, the cost of discipleship, trusting God

Living Life…

“Whoever find (her) life will lose it, and whoever loses (her) life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

What does this look like in our day to day life? I am studying Matthew and have been in Matthew 8-10 today. I am reminded again about the cost of discipleship. We are not promised anything different than our Master, Jesus. Let’s evaluate His life…he was popular with the masses when He was healing, casting out demons, forgiving sins (the “what can we get from this” philosophy). He reached out to the forsaken and foreign and sick (place any name here that might cost you to reach out to:)–including us–hello!). He was homeless (we are aliens/strangers in the world–this is not our home). Then, He was rejected in His hometown (hmmm–I have been rejected by those who claim to be on the same side as me). The religious leaders of the day hated Him because of His message and compassion (standing for truth is not popular–nor does it tickle the ears of self-righteous men or women). He was tortured, killed and as an innocent man punished with God’s wrath for His enemies (our) sins (In our freedom in Him, He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him). He teaches that His message will divide families and that our love for them is not to overshadow our love and devotion to Him.

A few months ago, I memorized Phil 3:7-11.

‘But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as RUBBISH, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurection, and may share his sufferings , becoming like him in his death that by any means possible I may attain the resurection from the dead.’

I struggled mightily with that last sentence–memorizing in my heart to really mean it. The power and the resurection part–yeah…on board. The sharing in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death–that’s where the big crowds for healing and forgiveness leave–including me. This all hinges on the ‘surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ When we KNOW him for who he really is–we count everything as loss. We are ready to lose our lives here–reputation, status, things, vanity, dreams, self-righteousness, family–because we see his surpassing worth and an eye for eternity with him. This life is a blip, but oh how I treat it as the end all, be all. IT. IS. NOT.
The Spirit has spoken through the Word–take up your cross (die to yourself) and follow me. He is a good shepherd who has compassion and mercy like no other. He takes my dreams and rearranges them and breaks me of my blinded will to weave a tapestry of beauty that points to Him. He says,

“Jennifer, die to the American dream of being comfortable, of having kids to build your life around, of fixing your kingdom here in houses that fade, and of spending on momentary pleasures. Look at the bigger picture. I have created you to be a light for Me–for My glory. Do you know what a privilege that is? Do not cry over scraps of this life when I have called you to the surpassing worth of knowing My Son, peace that passes all your understanding–that fills more than good food, wine, new outfits, awards, attention for beauty, entertainment, accolades for ministry. Your momentary tears will be dried, and you will spend eternity in joy and fellowship and great treasures in Me. You do not have any idea, my daughter–no idea. For this time, I teach you patiently–again and again of My worth. I teach you to die to You and live to Me. My good really is your good–surrender, my child. For in surrendering to Me, you will find All–real life, true life, abundant life. This will look so different to the world–foolish–something to be pitied. Don’t worry about what they think–fear Me–the Almighty God, Creator of this Universe, the One who holds the keys of Heaven and Hell. I have got you–proclaim the life in Me.”

So, today, I surrender. And, I pray for the strength to do so tomorrow. I am weak–but in my weakness, I pray that He make me strong in Him. I pray the same for you.

Posted in abortion, persecution, poverty and hunger, self-absorption

An indictment on my self-absorbed life…

In the last few days, I have been convicted at every corner. My life, even in being “about” others is about me–my middle class world spinning round. It is so easy to “set up” life here in America to be insular, entertaining, comforting. Our worries may be major to us, but in the scheme of things, are minor to those without a pinch of bread to eat.
Three issues have been brought to the forefront of my mind–poverty/hunger, abortion, and the persecution of Christians in India and Iraq. These are issues in which I can choose to be uninformed. I choose to be uninformed by making the most important things in my life my needs and wants and comfort and the well-being of my family and friends in my community. This is easy to do. In fact, I have to literally choose to be informed about issues that take me out of my comfort zone. I simply swallow what is easiest to hear and to accept.
I get a Compassion magazine two or more times a year, and yesterday was the first time I have taken time to read it. Hmmm. Quickly I was reminded that the world is SO much bigger than me…that the need is overwhelming…that I will be held accountable to God for what I do with the abundance of resources He has given me. (yes, abundance, even when things are tight and I worry about finances–it is really relative in comparison to those I read about). I’m ashamed that I worry about fashion or my home’s look as I think about those surviving for another day.
With the election looming, I have also been thinking more about abortion. I have been reading up on some of the issues. It is easy to skirt over things and to not really ingest what the issues are. How often do I think about abortion? Not enough. In the last week, God has brought a sensitivity to me as I look around and see children around me–especially those with special needs. The conception of children is an amazing miracle–a work of God. The fact that some people are ill prepared to be parents and do a poor job of it is a reality. I worked in an inner-city school as a counselor for several years, and I heard so many stories and saw so much pain that I became numb. It is easy for people to become jaded and think in pragmatic terms about everything in life. Yet, again, we are still accountable to God for our actions, votes and consciences. Just because it would be “easier” to people’s lives or our society does not make something right. Our selfishness to shield ourselves from hardship and create ease is sick. I have been heartbroken reading what legislation is proposed for abortion. It is much easier to turn on the tv and be entertained than to think on these issues, but God has given me a mind, energy and resources to fight for those who do not have a voice–the orphans and widows–just as he has fought for me and brought me from life to death.
Through reading several blogs, I have also been reminded of the intense suffering, torture and death of those in relationship with Christ in India and Iraq (these are just two places–there are myriad places where brothers and sisters are suffering for the sake of the gospel). What a laugh that what I may think is horrible in my face everyday is NOTHING in comparison to what the body is experiencing elsewhere. I am reminded to pray for those brothers and sisters and get my mind and heart out of my self-absorbed existence. I pray to see the world in the big picture with God’s eyes, and I am reminded to cling to him heartily praying for those needs around the world. It is overwhelming to see, but just because I am overwhelmed and do not want to hurt from the pain, I cannot look away.
I encourage you to look up from your life…see the needs of those around you and beyond and be a light and prayer warrior. May we all be awakened from our self-absorbed slumbers.

Posted in persecution, prayer, the cost of discipleship

Wake up

In the last few days, I have read some blogs that have made me aware of the violence and persecution against Christians in India, especially in the last few weeks. They need our prayers. We, as Americans, have more than enough of so many things that we almost become numb to the needs around us. We are high on stuff and circumstances and the “cares” of “our” world.
I know of several people who have been to India this year for various reasons, and I also sponsor a Compassion child, Tanuja, there. More than anything, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being threatened, their houses and churches burned, and some beaten and killed. Please pray, and please read this update. Take time today to be awakened to needs around the world and to pray for those needs. It may just put your struggle in perspective. This is nothing we should be surprised about–it is promised. But, this is something that we should actively love our brothers and sisters in by praying and seeing where we can help.