Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Foot Out

Almost two years ago, I attended a mother and daughter retreat with some wonderful people from my church. My mom and I were excited to go, and anxious to learn something new. We had read the description of the retreat online, and decided that it sounded like a great idea. We drove to Denver with some friends, excitedly speaking of what we were expecting out of the retreat. I often have expectations that never work out the way I had planned, and this is one of those times. We arrived for the first evening of lessons, and were sadly disappointed with what we saw. There were hundreds of teenage girls not even bothering to sit with their moms, even though it was supposed to be a mother/daughter event. This saddened both my mother and me, but we did realize that our relationship is not usual, so we didn’t think much more about it. When the speakers began to talk and tell about some very serious subjects, our hearts broke even more. The speakers may have said that they were passionate about spreading the love of God, but they seemed to make every subject easier to do nothing about. The speakers gave talks that centered a lot around worldly problems and they even gave some worldly answers. One of the speakers even used the Lord’s name in vain several times! They did several giveaways, and the screaming of hundreds of teen girls scrabbling to get the best prize was excruciatingly annoying. It was honestly hard to tell if it was a Christian conference or a mad house.

Although this experience was a long time ago, it still burdens my heart. I went to this conference hoping to learn more about Jesus and how to encourage a great relationship with my mom, but instead I got only eye-candy for the world. It was very hard to learn something from people who you definitely don’t want to be like! The girls there were not eager to learn about God, but only to get a cool prize or the latest CD. They seemed to have forgotten completely the reason for going to a conference about God, and the speakers seemed to have been disillusioned by the world’s charms.

I kept wondering throughout the whole conference if these people had never heard John 15:19? Had they never heard that we are supposed to be in the world but not of it? I was horrified that a Christian conference could be taken in by the world and Satan’s disguising tactics.

Jesus tells us that he has chosen us to be out of the world, not of it! This means that we must set ourselves apart from Satan’s worldly ploys that take in so many Christians every day. We must make a conscious choice to stay separate from the things that are so easy to make a part of our daily lives. It is not easy, but we will be rewarded for it.

It is interesting that we obviously have one foot here on earth for a short time, and yet we still have one foot in the heavens. God lets us reside on earth for any number of years no matter whether we live for Him or for ourselves. God could easily force us to serve Him, but He gives us that choice. God puts us here on earth so that we can bring glory to Him. Therefore, we must have one foot in the world (but not of it), and one foot in Heaven (but not of it until the day of our death). If we choose not to glorify God, then our eternal punishment with far outweigh the pleasure we may have experienced here on earth.

Although it is sad that so many people have two feet planted firmly into the world, we cannot sit idly by and do the same thing. We must get off our worldly cushions and glorify God through all that we have.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On the Surface

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that lasted a little while, but when you stopped talking you realized you really hadn’t said anything of lasting importance? Have you ever taken a class on an important subject and had a teacher who just barely covered the needed information? Or have you gone to a church that ignores the touchy subjects and preaches all fluff?

These things surround us every day, and yet we do nothing about them. I am blessed enough to have a wonderful church with a minister who leaves no subject untouched. My minister says what needs to be said and does not sugarcoat the words so as to make them easier to swallow. I’m so glad I can ask him a question, and he will give me an honest, godly opinion.

Although I have a wonderful church and don’t have to fight very many battles within my congregation, I do face instances everyday that hurt my heart and my soul. For instance, a little while ago, I was in a Bible class with many teenagers my own age. We were asked to find a book of the Bible, and as I flipped to it, I saw many of the Christian teenagers around me going to the Table of Contents to find the book of the Bible. This saddened me that they had not become familiar enough with their Bibles to know the order of the books. (I learned them when I was young by putting them to a melody of a song. And yes, I still sing the song in my head sometimes when I’m trying to find something!) I didn’t think much of this until the Bible teacher asked how many people had read their entire Bible. (Note: This was not a class of new Christians… These were mostly people who had grown up in the church all their lives.) I raised my hand expecting every hand to go up. Of about twenty people, only three or four raised their hands.

This surprised me greatly. I had no idea that so very few high school Christians had read their entire Bible. I didn’t know it was so unusual to have read the entire Bible, much less many times! I just assumed that every Christian had done so at some point in their life. That’s when I realized that the expectations are so low in the present culture that even Christians have succumbed to them.

It hurt me to know that even Christians who had grown up in Christian families were not taking the time to delve deeper into the Word of God.

I have often watched Christian teenagers listen to a powerfully impacting message and say they are going to change and try to do better. Unfortunately, it seems to last not much longer than a week! The hearts of teens today are so hard; it takes many blows to break them down into what Jesus would want. I feel bad for the ministers and teachers who pour their lives into changing teens, only to see results for a little while. It must be so discouraging at times.

And then something else hit me so hard, I was about knocked over.

I realized how self-righteous I was being! I was condemning all these people for not living up to God’s expectations, even though I was also failing miserably! Yes, I may have read the Bible many times, have quiet times daily, and pray, but how many times have I listened to a heart-wrenching sermon and only said, “Hmmm. That’s interesting. Someone should do something about that!” Why can’t I be the person to change that! Why can’t I make a ripple in the pond that will not just scratch the surface, but dig deep into the very core of the lives of people! I want to make a difference!

But I don’t know how. Or at least, I don’t want to know how. I want God to just do it all for me instead of having to work hard and serve others with my life. This is what my flesh desires, but when I was baptized, I made a commitment to serve not my flesh, but my LORD.

I’m challenging you today to choose to find a way to make a difference in someone’s life. If that is by being a good example to your fellow believers, then go for it. If it is serving as a missionary in Africa, then go for it. But whatever it is that God calls you to be, do it for Him alone. Don’t do it so that someday you will have a YWAM Heroes book about you. Don’t do it to make yourself feel righteous. DO IT FOR GOD.

The world may be a place where no one goes deep enough to learn about God and serve Him wholeheartedly, but that doesn’t mean you and I don’t have to.