October 31, 2010

A Sacrificing Spirit

Hi all. I have recently been thinking of something that is very difficult for me. This thing that I speak of is known as sacrifice. Sacrifice, by definition means;

"The surrender
or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim."

I can't even being to count how many times I thought I was doing something sacrificially when really, there was a motive behind my actions. A motive to bring glory and honor to myself. This is not sacrifice at all, in fact, it's just the opposite. When I think of sacrifice for Christ, I think of the verse in
John 12:24-25 that says,

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

I'm sure people who hear this verse out of context think "Are those Christians crazy?, why would anyone willing hate their life?" But that's not the meaning of the verse. Christ is saying that the man who lays down his own life for Christ and for others, will keep it forever and spend eternity in Heaven. We are naturally selfish beings, we are brought into the world with a mindset of "me, myself, and I". It only get's worse as we get older. "Where will I go to college? Will will be my friends? Where will I work? Who will I marry, how many children will I have? Where will I live?" That's not to say that these things are bad, they are great things to think about but they cause us to focus on ourselves and no one else. I am currently going through the "Experiencing God" study book which I would recommend to everyone but basically, I was having doubts and questions about the will of the Lord for my life. That morning's study said something that hit me hard. It said, when we ask the wrong questions, we get the wrong answers. We should not ask "Lord, what is your will for my life?" but "Lord, what is your will?" Our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. That is not to say that God doesn't have a plan for my life or yours, he does, but I believe he calls us to think outside of ourselves and to ask him how we can lay down our lives for the sake of the cross. Gay Thomas, author of the book "Authentic Faith" says,
"Once we adopt a heart of sacrifice, everything else tends to fall into place."

In itself, sacrifice means that we will eventually come up against something that we want but that is against the will of God. This is the defining point of sacrifice. Will we sacrifice and choose to obey? or choose to follow our own will? Sacrifice is the heart of the true, authentic, christian life.

October 7, 2010

Outside of my comfort zone.

Moving to a new country moves you outside of your box. It is a new place, a new language, a new culture, people group, food, government, primary religions, etc. etc. etc. There are so many new experiences that just when I grasp the idea of something new and it becomes familiar, something even newer comes along and tries to teach me a lesson on humility and relying on God. I emphasize the word "tries" because a lot of times I am resistent to obey. I have seen time and time again, the faithfulness of God though when something else tests me, I doubt and worry that it isn't in his hands. I know, I'm dumb. It's like looking in a mirror and knowing every detail of your face but then walking away a moment later to forget what you look like at all. I know that he is faithful, I know that he is good, but head knowledge is completely different from heart knowledge. I tend to become easily jealous and easily discontent with my situation... common thoughts such as "why am I living here?", "God has a very strange path for me..", "why is he doing this to me?", "my friends are in the states having fun without me while I'm here living with NO friends and no life." Can you hear the sin in my thoughts? You should be able to. I'm ripe with it. I love how the Lord uses small things to pull me from these selfish thoughts, today I read a story about a man whose wife just had a child and then 14 days later, died of cancer. Our lives are not so tragic as this and yet, why do I continue to complain? My dad used to quote someone famous, I believe it was Charles Spurgeon, when he said "discontent and not in hell?" really.. it's sad. I complain about my life and yet the Lord has saved me from the grips of hell and has given me eternal life with him. He has been so good to me, to me and to you. I feel like I, as an American, am addicted to the world of comforts. We are spoiled beyond belief and when I stepped into a culture, ah, I believed everything would function better if they did it like America. (While some and a lot of that is true... it's not biblical nor right.) Who are we? What is our goal in life? Is it not to glorify God, our maker, and enjoy him forever? To preach the gospel to the ends of the earth? While I sat for 13 years in an American church without understanding the need for the Gospel right outside of my box. Right outside. I'm not talking about "oh! I have to go have way across the world to preach the Gospel.." I'm talking about sharing the good news with our neighbor, with our colleagues, with our friends, anyone that is willing to listen. You don't have to become a "missionary kid" to reach people for the Lord. This is one thing that you can do anywhere, anytime with ANYONE. Let's reach out to those that need it most. Let's help one another to look around and see the people hurting, crying out for something more. I'm willing Lord. Send me. Send the person reading this blog. I want to show others your love. Help me to be more like you. Let's challenge one another to reach out beyond ourselves, beyond our comfort zones. Don't let fear stop you. Amazing things happen when you step out.