What God is Saying:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Love of Jesus

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge"  Ephesians 3:17-19

The love of Jesus has width. You can see how wide a river is by noticing how much it covers over. God's river of love is so wide that it covers over my sin, and it covers over every circumstance of my life, so that all things work together for good. When I doubt His forgiveness or His providence, I am narrowing the mighty river of God's love. His love is as wide as the world: For God so loved the world (John 3:16)

" There will be more in heaven than we expect to see there by a long way; and there will be some there with whom we had very little comfortable fellowship on earth who had fellowship with Christ, and who are therefore taken to dwell with him for ever." (Charles Spurgeon)

The love of Jesus has length. When considering the length of God's love, ask yourself "When did the love of God start towards me? How long will it continue?" These truths measure the length of God's love. Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

The love of Jesus has depth. Philippians 2:7-8 tell us how deep the love of Jesus goes: but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. You can't go lower than the death of the cross, and that is how deep the love of Jesus is for us.

The love of Jesus has height. To see the height of God's love, ask yourself, "How high does it lift me?" It lifts me to heavenly places where I am seated with Christ. He has faised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

Can we really comprehend the width and length and depth and height of God's love? To come to any understanding of the dimensions of God's love, we must come to the cross. The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because …

- God's love is wide enough to include every person.
- God's love is long enough to last through all eternity.
- God's love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.
- God's love is high enough to take us to heaven.

(commentary from pastor David Guzik)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Church in Christ

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."  Ephesians 2:19-22

What a beautiful picture of the church of Jesus Christ. We are not a building, a denomination, a people group, nationality or nation...we are all part of the family of God. God the Father chose us, Jesus  Christ bought us through His sacrifice on the cross and the Holy Spirit dwells is us.

"There is nothing as noble as the Church, seeing that it is the temple of God.

There is nothing so worthy of reverence, seeing God that dwells in it.

There is nothing so ancient, since the patriarchs and prophets worked to building it.

There is nothing so solid, since Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.

There is nothing so high, since it reaches as high as to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

There is nothing so perfect and well proportioned, since the Holy Spirit is the architect.

There is nothing more beautiful, because it is adorned with building stones of every age, every place, every people; from the highest kings to the lowest peasants; with the most brilliant scientists and the simplest believers.

There is nothing more spacious, since it is spread over the whole earth, and takes in all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is nothing so Divine, since it is a living building, animated and inhabited by the Holy Spirit." Adam Clarke

As I was reading this I was reminded of the beautiful hymn, The Church's One Foundation by Samuel Stone and Samuel Wesley (1800s). Here are the lyrics:

1.     The church's one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

2. Elect from every nation,
yet one o'er all the earth;
her charter of salvation,
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.

3. Though with a scornful wonder
we see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

4. Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore;
till, with the vision glorious,
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

5. Yet she on earth hath union
with God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Prayer is the Best Thermometer

"Prayer is probably the best thermometer you will ever have to measure your growth in Christ. It drives all that is truly spiritual, both in our churches and personal lives." K.P. Yohannan

As I spend more time with the Lord, my time in prayer to Him increases. How can we expect to know God, to understand His Word, to know the path He wants us to take in life if we don't spend time communicating with Him in prayer? I know that often times it can be difficult to pray. We close our eyes and then wonder what to say. Yes, prayer comes easily when things are going wrong in our lives...when a loved one is sick, when we are facing financial challenges or when we are in some type of danger. But what about when everything is going well? Why do we often find it hard to pray?

I think it's partly because we have the wrong view of prayer. We look at prayer as a way to get what we want...healing, a better job, a husband/wife/children, safety, security, comfort. But asking the Lord for things is only part of it.

Intimacy with the Lord really grows when we focus on more than just asking for things from God. We need to focus on praising Him in our prayers. Use Scripture to praise Him for His wonderful qualities. Here is a sheet you can print out that lists some of the attributes of God (holy, just, wise, eternal...) with key verses to pray Attributes of God prayer sheet 

We also need to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Giving thanks for everything is both pleasing to the Lord and reminds us of all He has done for us. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a wonderful book about what it means to live a life of thanksgiving. She challenges her readers to spend the next year writing down 1,000 things to thank God for. It may seem daunting but if you write down daily at least 5 things you are thankful for you will be amazed at how your love for the Lord grows.

Intimacy with the Lord is so amazing and rewarding yet it won't happen without prayer. "The awful truth, whether we admit it or not, is that we don't pray because in our hearts we don't think we need God. We don't know how to pray because true prayer can only originate form a life emptied of self-sufficiency." K. P. Yohannan

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What If It's All A Lie?

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25 and Matthew 19:24  Here lies one of the main things I struggle with...how do I live as a Christian with all this wealth?

We have so much money...not just in the possessions we own but in all that we have put away - savings, college funds, houses, etc. We tithe every month but it's out of our abundance. It's never a sacrifice. Like the servant who buried the money (Luke 19:11-27), we are burying what we've been given by God. I fear we will have a very low rate of return in God's Kingdom.

We do this because we've been raised to believe that it's the right thing, the wise thing, the responsible thing as we provide for our families, ourselves. But what if that's all a lie?

Hoarding all this money keeps it from those who could truly benefit from it...who could live physically and spiritually. How many more people could hear the Gospel, how many more children could be helped by groups like Compassion InternationalGospel for Asia or Remember? How many more churches could be built or orphans helped? I'm reminded of Schindler's List as he cries asking himself how many more Jews he could have saved if he had given away more. Will that be my question when I meet my Lord in Heaven...how many more people could have been saved if I had given more of what He had given to me?

And if we didn't have all this saved away, how would our faith grow as we have to rely on God for our future the way people have to do all over the world, the way the early Americans had to rely on God for their daily bread?

I fear that many of the churches in the West are the rich rulers who gave out of their abundance while the churches in Asia, Africa and South America are more like the widow who gave one mite, all she had, to further God's Kingdom.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

To all those who would follow Him, Jesus gave the same basic message. "Those who save their lives will lost them - and those who lose their lives for His sake will find them. The first shall be last and the last, first." Matthew 16:25

"I'm convinced the main reason why we are not impacting our generation for Christ is our refusal to be honest about Christianity. We have offered the world a Gospel without sacrifice and suffering. We've done everything we can to apologize for Christ's demands and to explain them away. We've told people that Jesus didn't really mean what He said - that they can have Christ without His cross." K. P. Yohannan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Way of the Cross

"I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me, and He delivered Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20

I spent 16 years in the U.S. military and my husband is still active duty Air Force. I have come to have so much respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line, suffer greatly and sometimes willingly make the ultimate sacrifice for America, for freedom, for the cause their country is fighting for. Despite all this danger, the US military always makes its recruiting numbers. Why not the Church?

Where is this same willingness in the American church to sacrifice for God, for the eternal freedom of billions, for God's glory? "Where are believers who will make a deliberate calculation to accept sacrifice and suffering for the sake of following Christ? We'll never enter the enemy camp and storm the gates of Hell until we realize again that a soldier does not live on feelings. Casualties, discomfort and injury are part of the program for victory. Real Christians accept suffering as a normal part of following Christ." K. P. Yohannan

That is a major problem in the church in the western world...we do not believe that we should suffer as Christians and if we are suffering, then something is wrong. Why do bad things happen to good people is our constant question. Yet Jesus never apologized for calling His disciples to a life of self-denial and often times, suffering. Just reading Luke 9:57-62 we see Jesus promising homelessness, broken relationships and separation and loneliness. Yet, there is joy unspeakable as well...it just isn't going to come from what the world says is the means for joy and happiness.

I know that it's a constant, daily battle to choose to become a servant rather than to be served. It happens to me time and again. Life is comfortable and one day turns into the next as I pursue time for me, time with my family, enjoyable experiences, a peaceful household, a neat, uncluttered and pretty home, quilt blocks and cups of coffee, an athletic, thinner body, friendships with others. None of these are bad in themselves, but put all together, along with time spent reading emails and Facebook, and the days quickly pass without me really seeking God's will for the decisions I make, without deliberating living for Him, without dreaming big dreams and focusing, learning about and praying for the lost, the persecuted, the orphans, the enslaved, the widows. It know this is true because this has been my life for the past few years.

"Unless we choose the way of the cross, we will always find ourselves automatically falling into that pattern of extravagance and waste that has become the norm of this culture." K. P. Yohannan

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What is the Church?

We've lived in Europe for 3 1/2 years now. During that time I have been able to tour many beautiful churches. While I can appreciate the architecture and the sometimes lavish decorations, I am often left wondering what could have been done with all the money that was used to build this magnificent building?

Yet we are doing in America what Europe did in the Middle Ages...building elaborate, fancy, expensive churches at the cost of the masses who were dying without the knowledge of God.

In Europe they didn't have the Bible in many of the common languages. They were starving in serfdom while the church leaders were building these huge churches and were rich, fat and happy.

It's the same today. We have SO much Bible literature in the English language while many unreached people don't have even one book of the Bible in their own language. We are rich, fat and happy in our huge churches while billions are dying without ever even hearing the name of Christ. I am convicted.

Here is a small church that was started among a group of people in India who had never heard about Jesus. While no one would look at its architecture and marvel or pay money to tour its interior, I believe the God of the universe is pleased. He sees people who desire Him, who are willing to risk much to know Him, who trust Him for everything. They are the Church, they are what is beautiful...not some building.

Living here in Papa, Hungary where we don't have a US-style church, just a couple house churches and Bible studies, God has once again shown me that the Church is not the building, the programs, the pastor...it is the people of God, working together, growing in Him and exhibiting the love of Jesus to a hurting and lost world.

Church is about knowing Him...not being entertained. Sadly, entertainment seems to be one of the main goals of many churches. We try to mirror the popular culture so that more people will come. But will they see Jesus in all this?

"Could it be that we have let our churches become elaborate social programs with the name of God tacked on as an afterthought? Was Karl Marx right in this case? Isn't this kind of religion really a narcotic - 'the opiate of the people'?" K. P. Yohannan

The question that must be asked of every Christian activity we support is: Will this event create any impact on a lost and dying world?"

The Road to Reality

I'm starting The Road to Reality by K.P. Yohannan. I'm trying to recapture the love and compassion and concern I had for the lost, the persecuted, the orphan, the slave...asking God to shatter my heart, to radically change me, to change us for His kingdom, for His glory.

I'm weary of halfhearted Christianity and I'm unafraid to take some giant steps with God. Instead of a million dollars in the bank, I want to help bring a million people into Heaven!

Nearly 2 billion people in the world STILL haven't heard the name of Jesus even once. Most of these live in Asia, in the 10/40 Window (see post 10/40 Window) and they are still dying without hope by the tens of thousands every day.

I don't want to blend in with the crowd. I want to stand up for Jesus against an increasingly hostile world. What is the way to do this? To repent, to return to Jesus, to surrender to Him and to start living as He commands us to. Faith without works is dead.

I struggle with the money that we spend - way too much! And so much of it is on entertainment and stuff for ourselves. I want to get rid of a lot that we have. I want to travel light. Show me how Lord...show us how.

O Father, bring us to the lost and the unreached. Burden our entire family like You are burdening me, please. Father God, may all five of our children be used on Your mission field. But they have to see their parents doing it too. Help us to break out of the "velvet cage of comfort and convenience to begin a radical lifestyle lived from an inner reality that affects the world." Yohannan

Keep burdening as I keep wrestling. Lord, Jeff has so much skill...use it for Your glory. I have a lot of Your Bible knowledge and love to teach - use it for Your glory.

Show me the things in my life that are not necessary. Help me make the most of my time here on earth.