Tag Archives: faith in God

Transparent Christianity

Several months ago, as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feeds, a certain status caught my attention.  As I read it, my heart broke.  The friend who wrote it was very upset by the behavior of a woman who was coming to my friend for help.  Apparently, the woman in need was a “Christian” and her attitude and language was in direct contradiction to whom she claimed to be.  The next part of the status is what broke my heart.  The friend wrote something to the effect of how she didn’t even bother with church or trying to be a Christian because it was people like the rude lady who turned her off to trying to be something she was not.  To make things worse, several other people wrote things such as “Christians are hypocrites! I see them in the club on Saturday night, then see them post about the wonderful Church service they attended on Sunday Morning!”  “I will never bother with Christianity, as long as I am a good person, it is all that matters.”

Now, I can go a whole other direction in as to why, as Christians, we should always conduct ourselves in a holy manner.  About how we simply cannot blatantly sin and take advantage of what God has given us, but instead, I just want to share why I am a Christian and in doing so, I hope and pray that these words may cause someone who is outside of Christ to truly explore, and think about why they too, are very precious and very deserving of what Christianity has to offer.

Mercy.  I am a Christian because of mercy.  I am aware of it each time I pray, each time I fail, each time I walk through the doors of my congregation and praise the One who gives me mercy.  Do you know what mercy is?  Mercy is “compassion or forgiveness towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  It is, in a sense, getting away from a very deserving punishment.  Yesterday, just a day after I realized my tag was out, I was approached by a police officer in the parking lot of my kid’s school.  (And yes, my poor kids, and I were so very embarrassed to be going through this in the school parking lot.)  I was guilty.  I was breaking the law, and was very deserving of the punishment.  I explained that I just noticed the tag the day before while putting groceries in my van, and was surprised to see it well overdue.  I was baffled as to why I didn’t receive my renewal notice.  None of it mattered though, because I stood guilty.  The officer was very understanding, and told me to go park my van until I got the tag taken care of.  I was off the hook!  I was in serious trouble because of my tag and the fact I was driving without a license, because I left my purse at home.  But he let me go.  That is mercy.  I deserved punishment, but the officer walked away.Image

This very same principal is why I am a Christian.  I believe God exists and He rules all.  I believe in his son Jesus and I believe that Jesus went to the cross because of God’s love for mankind.  I believe in God’s justice, and the wonderful choice He gives to us to follow Him or not.  But even so, the thing that still keeps me in awe is the fact that Jesus chose me to save.  He chose death so I can receive mercy from the Father.  I am a Christian because I chose to accept the gift of mercy, and I am living a life of thankfulness and obedience to God because of the sacrifice.  I am a sinner.  I have my struggles and my fallouts.  I get testy with my kids, and I argue with my husband.  I get caught up in jealousy, and I struggle with my intentions.  Being a Christian does not mean I am a saint, a better than you person, or a Bible thumper.  Being a Christian means I am accepting the mercy offered to me.  Being a Christian means I try my best every day to life for Christ because he died for me.  It means cutting the ties with the sinful life I used to lead, and removing myself from situations that may tempt me.  It means I will wake every morning to be a better person because I know I can be.

Yes, I am one of those crazy people who attends each service, and each activity.      I do not go to cover up the skeletons in my closet, or to cast judgment on those who are not church-goers like me.  I go to worship the Father and be with my family in Christ.  I go to be uplifted by the Word, and learn more about what God wants from me.  I go to participate in  taking  communion like Christ asks his followers to do in remembrance of him.  I go because I am part of a family, learning and loving together in His name.  I don’t go to flaunt how great I am to the others there, but I go because I am a sinner in need of prayer and encouragement.   As a Church family, we share our struggles, our joys, our doubts, and our questions about the faith we are to have.  We admit mistakes and ask our friends to encourage us to resist making the mistakes again.  We raise our kids together, and are in each others homes often.

So you see friends, this is the life I live.  This is the Christianity that I am a part of, and I am so sorry that for some of you, Christianity, because of the examples of others, has been a smoke and mirrors act.  It simply is not. The Church is full of admitted sinners, just wanting to love and be loved.  We receive a reward that we do not deserve and we  dedicate our lives to living Godly. Dedicated Christians know life is more about just trying to be good.  We simply cannot find our way to eternity with God if we do not follow Jesus.  He gave, and we must receive, mercy cannot be given to someone who does not want, or thinks that they don’t need it.

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of peace I have because I am safe in God’s arms.  I want that for everyone, and if nothing, I hope this blog entry will cause those of you who are not dedicated to the Lord to take a second look, ask questions, and go to the Bible for the answers.  This is who I am, a transparent Christian, with a beautiful story of grace and forgiveness.  I am  willing  to admit how much of a sinner I am because in doing so, my story reveals just how amazing God is and how if you allow Him, He can do so much more than you can ever imagine.  I am the sinner getting pulled over in front of my children’s school while other kids shout, “Look!  Our preacher’s wife got pulled over!”.    I was shown mercy when I had no reason to deserve it.  THAT my friends is what Christianity is.  A choice to give your life to God out of a knowing that you alone are not enough.  It is a dependance on Christ, a choice to abandon selfishness and live for something bigger, a love that cannot be measured.

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Here I am, Send Me! Well…If You will Keep Me Safe…

ImageSix years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Toluca, Mexico as a Youth Minister Intern’s wife and had been forever changed. I longed for the time to return again, but then the babies came, and my world travel was put on hold. Until now. Our three children are now old enough to share a week of their mommy and daddy’s time with others. My plane ticket has been bought, and my passport application is in the mail, Nicaragua Mission Trip, here I come!

 

The decision to go has been such a hard one. Honestly, it took my husband looking at me with pleading eyes and saying, “I need my wife there by my side.” that lit the fire in my soul again. The fire went out long ago when I forgot how important the mission was. I would pat myself on the back for surviving a week or so home alone tending to the home and the kids, as my husband shared the gospel in a foreign land. I was ok that I could not go. I got comfortable earnestly praying for the mission to be successful in the comforts of my large bedroom with my sweet children tucked in and “safe”. The calling for me to personally go abroad to share my faith has been muffled by the comfortable daily routine in which I am wrapped up in. Most of my prayers for this trip have been so self centered that I have become swallowed up by them and have already lost sight of why I am going in the first place.

 

I am being tempted to worry. I am being tempted to fill my prayers with ramblings and repetitions of weak faith, when I should be praying about the mission itself. I am worrying about the plane crashing and leaving my children as orphans, getting gravely ill, or my children being involved in some horrific car accident that could have been prevented if I would have just stayed home. Just the other night, I woke up feeling the need to write out a living will…just in case. The need to worry has choked out desire to serve my God. But…I am repenting, daily, for my lack of faith.

 

As Jake and I sat down with our friends the Goads to map out the trip and go over our mission there, I got excited, really excited. Jake and Dale orchestrated this wonderful plan to go to Nicaragua and BE those spoken of in Matthew 25: 35-40 which states,

 

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

 

During the seven days of our mission, we will focus on each part of this passage in several small villages in Nicaragua. We are going to distribute meal packages to the hungry, set up water purifiers for cleaner drinking water, host a cookout and devotional time for a neighborhood, bring clothes to the orphans we support, and visit a children’s cancer wing in a local hospital bearing toiletries, tutus for the little girls, and super hero capes for the little boys. We will visit a prison and give the prisoners toiletries and Bibles. We will also host a graduating banquet for graduating students of the Bible Institute of Central America and present them with their own Bibles to be used to spread the gospel. Yep, this got me excited.

 

I have been mulling over this passage (Matthew 25:35-40) and the parable of the talents above it, and the separation of the sheep and the goats after it. I want to invest my talents like the servant in the parable of the talents, and I want to be a sheep on judgment day. I realize that I cannot be these things by worrying about my “life affairs”. These passages have convicted me all the more that God is control and He has a task for me and he wants all of me to complete the task.

 

So why am I rambling about this? I am convicted that God needs us to do His work, and most of the time, we simply will not move due to the fear of loosing our comforts here on this earth. Jesus told us following him would not be easy, and we would have to sacrifice for the sacrifice. Are you ready to sacrifice? Maybe this means digging into the word and really studying the passages you avoided because it interfered with your lifestyle. Maybe this means digging deeper into your bank account to give until it hurts. Maybe the sacrifice is a mission trip, an outreach project, or giving up friends, family, or a job. For me the sacrifice is leaving my children in capable hands so I can tend to the needs of strangers in another country. For me the sacrifice is letting go and letting God. It means having faith that whatever this trip brings, good or bad, that God is good and He always has a plan. Pray for me, and pray for this mission. Pray that I keep the worry out, and let God do His thing (Jeremiah 32:27). Pray that the mission team will have success in bringing more sheep to the kingdom. Pray for our conviction to shine through in the work that we will be doing, and that we will be a light to those spoken of in Matthew 25.

 

 

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