The Life of Surrender

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

Month: March 2017

When You Are on the Fence About Having Faith in Jesus

Peter and I have been talking about discipleship since this fall.  We feel that God is asking us to use our lives to disciple those around us and help them to follow Christ.  The biggest stumbling block we have encountered is what to say to people that we are interested in either, helping them increase their faith in Christ, or to tell them about the gospel for the first time.  It is a scary place to be.  Here is what I want people to know that are on the fence about having faith in Jesus:

Consideration #1: Jesus Loves you no matter what your sin is. 

Ever since the start of mankind, we have been sinful creatures.  We all deserve eternity in hell because we are tainted and sinful people.  Jesus stepped in to give us the greatest gift of all.  He took the punishment for my past sins and all of my future sins.  He took the weight of everyone’s sin and placed it on himself.  He was separated from the Father and went through extreme pain both physically and emotionally.

I have always thought that the sacrifice came through Jesus, but recently we were watching a Francis Chan video and he said, “Imagine you are a parent and your child is the one that is nailed to the cross.”  I have never thought of it that way before.  As a parent, that would be extremely painful to allow my child to die such a painful death and essentially turn my back on him.  Both Jesus and God sacrificed so much for me and you.  There is no way that sacrifice would be made without love.  God loves us so much that he was willing to allow his son to die in misery and Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to be the one to do it.

Jesus made this sacrifice so we can be washed as white as snow.  Before Jesus they had to go through all these procedures and make sure that they gave the right offering and sacrifice, and now we are free.  Jesus gave us the gift of forgiveness and love and we are free to experience his love in the here and now.  That is why no matter what we do, no matter how bad of a person that we think we are, our sins will be forgiven because Jesus already took the punishment for it.  We do need to repent and ask God for forgiveness, but he will always forgive us.  How wonderful it feels to be loved by the Creator of the world so much that no matter what I do, he created a way for me to be with him.

Consideration #2: Even when you are living for Jesus, we are not perfect and still need to repent of our sins.

Looking through all the people in the Bible, we can see that even those ones that God used to do great things were very broken, sinful people.  Noah was a drunk, David was an adulterer and murderer, and Moses wasn’t fully obedient to God.

I used to think that if Christ was in my heart that I shouldn’t sin.  The problem is, I am a sinful person living in a sinful world.  I should not sin deliberately, but sin will happen.  We shouldn’t make the dangerous assumption that because we are in Christ, we will no longer sin.  Ideas like that are a good way to get bogged down in shame and guilt.  We need to know that we are still humans with faults and we will never be perfect on this side of Heaven.

What Christ wants us to do is to come to him in our broken states and repent of our sins and return back to him.  The Holy Spirit is sent to convict us of sin so that we can repent of it.  Satan comes to condemn us and weigh us down with shame.  Satan wants us to hide our sins from God and the world and feel the heavy burden on our own.  God wants us to turn our sins over to him and bring them to the light of day.  He wants us to encourage others to repent of their sins and go on living our lives for him.  We will always be forgiven, but we do need to ask for it.

Consideration #3: Life following Jesus here on Earth will not be sunshine and roses

Life in the garden of Eden was perfect before Adam and Eve sinned.  We all crave that perfection and order in the world and it just is not here.  Even as believers of God, our lives will have trouble.  Coincidentally, when we walk through hard times, we will often feel God’s presence more than when times are good.  We get sucked in to the ways of the world and we often forget our first love, God.  When we are walking through difficulty, God is right there and we remember to rely on him.

This is why our family tries to live counter-culturally.  We are definitely not perfect at this and we know that we have a long way to go because we get sucked into the culture very easily.  God doesn’t want us to put idols before him.  An idol isn’t just a gold statue that people in the Old Testament worshiped.  An idol is anything that we put before God.  Idols in my life have been my relationships with people, food, entertainment, etc.

God’s goal for our lives is that we live them for him.  He wants us to wake up every morning and see what he has planned for our days rather than what we have planned for our day.  He wants us to communicate with him throughout our days and rely on him in everything.  No, our life here will not be easy, but we serve a God that is in charge of the universe.

Consideration #4: We have the greatest gift ever: Eternity with Him!  We have a responsibility to share that gift with the world.

Because Jesus was willing to sacrifice his life for us, we get the opportunity to spend eternity with him.  We have the greatest gift ever and we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves.  We need to share the gospel with others and pray that others will accept Jesus and live for him.  It is not good enough to sit idly by and live our lives the way we want to live them when there are millions of people out there that need to hear the good news.  Jesus sacrificed everything for us and we need to be able to sacrifice our comforts so that others will share in God’s glory with us.

I pray that we will be a people that live for God and feel his love on a daily basis.  I pray that his message would spread over all the Earth and that we will see many many people in Glory!

Is There Evidence of Jesus in My Life?

Peter and I have been asking that question a lot recently.  I posted this to Instagram last week:

Recently I have been asking the question, “Is there evidence of Jesus in my life?” The answer can be a bit scary, but we always have room to grow. Right now, I can pursue Christ by repenting of my sin, asking him to help me see the people in my life who need love and helping them, serving my husband and children rather than the other way around, letting go of distractions and things that block my relationship with Christ, reacting thoughtfully and apologizing when I don’t, and waking up with a mindset on others rather than on myself. God changes the world through small acts one person at a time.

This question has been asked in response to reading the book Radical by David Platt.  The book discusses taking back our faith from the American Dream.  He talks a lot about how our wealth and comforts in America can block us from Jesus.  The book also discusses that 4.5 billion people in the world don’t believe in Jesus.  By this standard we should be really busy trying to make disciples of all the nations as Jesus instructs us in the great commission.  Many times, we are not very busy making disciples because we don’t have an urgency because we are comfortable just living our lives.

Peter and I have been guilty of this and we also went/are going through a “crisis of faith” as David Platt describes in his book. We are not sure what this looks like for us.  We do know that we need to be wiser about what we spend our money on and we need to do a far better job of spreading the gospel.

There was an analogy in the book that I keep thinking about.  The SS United States was a troop carrier designed to carry fifteen thousand troops during times of war.  The SS United States ended up mainly being a cruise liner that carried 2,000 passengers. This is supposed to represent our lives.  As Jesus followers, we are supposed to be on mission.  We are supposed to carry 15,000 troops rather than 2,000.  It is way more comfortable to be on the luxury liner than the troop carrier, but our mission here on earth is not comfort.  Our mission here is to tell the 4.5 billion people that don’t believe in Jesus (and are inevitably going to hell) about Jesus and his saving grace.

Phew, this has caused some difficulty for us in the way that we think about our lives.  Our main goals now revolve around how we can be on mission, like the troop carrier.  How can we live our lives for Jesus rather than getting lost in our own comforts?  I think the answer is different for everyone, but it is our prayer that all of you would wrestle with this question just like we are right now.

Peter wrote a song about following Christ using the verses that David Platt used in his book (Luke 9).  The song is called Follow Me.  I love that Peter does his processing through song.  It is so insightful and then we get to listen to it over and over again.

I am thankful that I have a partner in life that is willing to wrestle with these questions.  We would recommend reading this book, but at the very least we hope that you will be praying that Jesus would lead you to those he wants you to tell about him.