Monday, January 23, 2012

Amazing Truth

Photo: Captured Words Photography
Yesterday in church I listened to another great message about God’s transforming power. I heard how as a young boy this Pastor learned he needed Jesus’ forgiveness, and he began to live under God’s grace as a changed, transformed Christian. It is a great story. As Christians we hear it all the time. Over and over, young and old, they come, telling about lives wretched with sin and unworthiness. Then they find God’s love and transformation in Jesus.
I love those stories but I don’t relate to them. I think it all sounds great but it isn’t my story at all.
I do understand in my heart the whole sin thing. Absolutely without a doubt I was a sinner too. Selfish, mean, lazy, vengeful… the whole ball of wax. I understand that I too need Jesus’ sinless sacrifice to make things right with God. But that wasn’t what got me to the cross. That wasn’t what turned the key and opened the door to Jesus for me.
It was truth.
Plain and simple.
The problem is that for years I have beat myself up with the idea that I wasn’t a very good Christian because I wasn’t undone by my wretchedness and my need for a Savior; a need for escape and forgiveness. I actually was a pretty good unbeliever, in the sense that I was a kinda nice person and could have slipped right by Jesus; living my nice person life without him.
Let me explain.
I was 16 and in my junior year of high school. I had a friend who had a Christian boyfriend. Not a boy who went to church but a living-breathing-every-part-of-his-life-sold-out-Christian. My friend also began to live out her new faith in the same way. They were quite a pair
We hung out together and I ate lunch with them every day.
And every day I got Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
I was asked what I believed and why I believed it. I had to think.
And that was the key to my heart.
You see, I didn’t feel wretched; no addictions, no crisis, I didn’t need Jesus. So in God’s wisdom my friends talked to me about Jesus, not me . They gave me Truth. With a capital T. That was all I needed.
We talked about what I thought I believed. And they simply asked, “Why do you believe that?” I had to think, to dig for answers. Then they said things like: “The Bible says Jesus is God’s Son, born to die. What are you going to do with that?”
That did it for me. I was challenged by the Truth. I wasn’t told how sinful I was. I wasn’t told I needed to pray, read the Bible, go to church or youth group, change my clothes, friends, or lifestyle. I wasn’t judged or shunned. These conversations went on for 9 months. They were patient and loving with me. But every day I was confronted by the mighty Truth of the Great IAM. The unquestionable LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And the Son, Jesus Christ. Messiah, Prince of Peace.
So when I tell the story of how Jesus changed my life, I say I just got to a point where I knew my friends were right. It made sense to me.
Jesus was Truth. And I wanted Him in my life.
Mr Lewis says it for me so well:
“One of the great difficulties… is the question of truth. People always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue “true –or False” into stuff about the Spanish Inquisition, or France or Poland- or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine…their belief that a certain amount of religion is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. “
Christian Apologetics, C. S. Lewis
If you are praying for someone in your life who doesn’t yet understand or know Jesus as Savior, remember that the path to his heart may be different from the way you got there. Listen to the Holy Spirit and He will tell you the words you need. And don’t be afraid of the simple uncompromising Truth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't think that is is all for nothing

There is a scene in the movie Freedom Writers where the class has been asked to read The Diary of Anne Frank. The students, living a life of racial strife in California resonate with Anne’s passion and struggle to survive. One scene especially stood out to me. It opens with a passage from the book:
"It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death.
I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness.
I feel the suffering of millions, and yet when I look up at the sky
I somehow feel that everything will change for the better. "
 Then a young girl angrily enters the empty classroom to confront her teacher.
Teacher:  Eva, what's wrong?
Eva - Why didn't you tell me she dies? Why you didn't tell me she gets caught in the end?
I hate you and I hate this book.
Teacher: Eva.
Eva - If she dies, then what about me? What are you saying about that?
Teacher:  Anne Frank died, but she...
Eva - I can't believe they got her! That ain't supposed to happen
in the story! That ain't right!
Another student has entered and overheard this conversation. He speaks up:
Marcus: 'Cause it's true?
Eva -I ain't talking to you!
Marcus: You're talking around me. That's the same thing. See, to me, she ain't dead at all. How many friends did you know that are dead now that got killed?
Eva: Too many to count.
Marcus: How many have you read a book about? Have you seen them on TV or even in the newspaper?
That's why this story's dope. She was our age, man.

This struck me so hard when I saw this scene. It so simply and so clearly explains why a person, even an innocent victim can still have led a life that impacts and changes the world. How many young people died in WW2? Their stories forgotten and lost.  
And yet one girl chose to write in the middle of all the chaos and later one man chose to publish his dead daughter’s words in the hope that someone might be changed. It didn’t make his daughter come back, but maybe it gave him a feeling that she did not die forgotten and unknown. 
She did not.
She lives still to inspire us all.

No one, no matter how seemingly insignificant their life might be, has a pass. We all are called to make a difference with our life, not just let it slip away in self indulgence and self pity. Perhaps the struggle is too much for you right now. If you do not lose sight of the simple truth that your life matters to God and if you do something with it even so simple as to write a diary, your life could impact the world. 

Like Marcus said people die every day. 
One day we all will. 
Have we left anything behind? 
Have we made an indent on the lives of others to prove we were here? 
I hope so. 


So many words are spoken and written each day that they somehow have lost their meaning to many of us. But over 2500 years ago God saw how much we needed words and began the process of having His words written down. 

Think about it, most people did not know how to read, why bother writing it down? 
It makes no sense. 

Actually it makes a lot of sense, because words have that much power. Power to cause things to be, power to heal, transform, forgive. God knew this power because from the beginning, all of creation was made by a simple spoken word. 

Words can speak life where there was death, 
hope where there was despair, 
freedom where there were chains. 

We treasure God’s Words. Someone can say I have a Scripture for you, a Word from God, and our heart leaps. An answer, a promise to hold onto, a light for a dark place. 
God values words.

Ok, you are thinking, “Sure, Gods’ Words can do that but I am not God what I say or write doesn’t matter.” 


How many of you remember a word spoken to you as a child? 
One that you probably should have forgotten but it has become more than a word, it is a title, a label, a definition of you. 





They become more than words they become obstacles to who you can be, who you were created to be.

My challenge to you is this… watch your mouth. 
Please don’t think I am saying cover thy mouth with tape and beat thyself if a foul word escapes. Just be mindful of your words. Try. Think about what you say or write. 
Preferably before you say or write but if it has already gone out back up and take a minute.

There are always those two sweet words “I’m sorry” that can begin to repair anything your words have broken.
One of the most wonderful lessons God taught me when my children were young is the amazing grace your child has when you humbly ask their forgiveness for a word harshly spoken. 
I encourage you to try, just try, to guard your words. Here are a few ideas God had about them to help motivate you and put you in His way of thinking.

Genesis 1:1-3
 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
 3 And God said…
1 Samuel 3:21
The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
Job 23:12
I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Psalm 107:20
He sent out his word and healed them

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 17:27
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
Ezekiel 37:4
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Acts 20:32
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance 
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.