My Life as a Living Sacrifice: Confronting my Nothingness

Day 26, CONFRONT
I’ve been so challenged by exploring how I can live the Golden Rule in marriage, motherhood, missional living, and my every day life! I hope that if you’ve read along with me you have been challenged as well and encouraged by what God can do with a heart willing to serve Him and others. If you’re just joining me, I hope you will catch up!

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I think it’s time we ask ourselves what’s holding us back. What’s keeping us from living the Golden Rule for the benefit of others and the glory of God? Is there some sin you’ve stuck in your back pocket for a rainy day? A person you just can’t forgive? A fear of giving up control and giving your life to God?

I’m bold enough to guess that what’s holding you back is the same thing that’s keeping me from living out all I know to be true and good. It has its roots tangled up in pride whether it’s a secret sin or clutched control. No matter who you are, denying yourself just doesn’t come naturally.

If I were on your end reading this, I would want to cover my eyes or jump over to YouTube and start watching something light to make me laugh. I don’t want to confront my pride. It’s seriously cringe-worthy to peer into my selfish soul and see what lies beneath.

What did I do today that ministered to someone else? Did I do it without grumbling? Would I rather have been doing something else? Did the task at hand seem beneath me or bothersome? The answer to these questions reveals the condition of my heart. And so often it isn’t pretty.

Because as much as I love other people, I tend to like myself a whole lot more. I wholeheartedly agree with the decisions I make and the way I go about things because I’m awesome, y’all (satire… hang with me).

But when I look to the Word of God to tell me who I am and what my condition is all I see is that I am a sinner saved by a gracious God. I am made for the pleasure of God. I am purposed to serve and share His greatness with the world. That’s basically it.

110% YES- I am greatly loved and graciously gifted, but I’m given all of that to hand it right back to God. I don’t have to wonder what God’s perfect will for my life is. It is spelled out in Scripture. But, oh, I want to be blind to it.

present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).

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My flesh already ran in the other direction. For real, this is rough for me. A living sacrifice. I am to be burned at the altar of humility day after day, letting my life be consumed by the Creator as He sees fit. I subject myself to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through my surrendered life.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something,when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (Galatians 6:2-3).

 

I deal graciously with others when I confront my nothingness and my inability to do good apart from the transformative work of Christ in my life. When I consider what He has done for me, any act of obedience He requires is only reasonable.

And He tells me to get over myself and love my neighbor and my enemy too.

Come quickly, Lord, not sure how long I can do this.

Is pride keeping you from living the Golden Rule to the glory of God?
Will you endeavor to live in daily sacrifice to the One who died for you?

Talk to me in the comment section (this one’s a doozy!).

 

 

The Knife that Cuts and the Knife that Sharpens

Day 25, SIGN

We hung our sign in front of our soon-to-be church-plant this week. We knew this would make us vulnerable to questions and criticism around town. It also made us vulnerable to both the judgment and encouragement of others in our city and all around the world thanks to modern technology.

Those who have partnered with us back in America were thrilled to see the work moving forward and eager to encourage us in it. The simple photo my husband published on social media got quite a lot of love for someone who rarely uses any Facebook features.

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One of the greatest ways we can live the Golden Rule in missional living is to affirm and encourage other light-bearers in their respective ministries. Missionaries on the foreign field. Moms in the trenches of toddlerhood or teenage years. Our pastors and their families. Your children’s Sunday School teacher and prayer-warrior Great Aunt.

Learn about their ministries and remember the names and faces of their mission field. Find ways to encourage them and get involved in their gospel work. You may be swamped in your own service, but it just takes a moment to share a word of encouragement or lend a helping hand.

Set aside differences and choose to see the potential of the mission and the heart of the kingdom worker who toils. Remember that mission work looks different to different people in each stage of life and set of circumstances. Everyone may not do ministry like we would do it, but we must trust they will follow as the Lord leads and be faithful to cheer them on as they do.

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Consider the current issues, transitions, and decisions of the gospel worker. At these times, the criticism cuts the flesh like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry.

I want to be that kind of sharpening tool for those who work for the Lord. We need each other to get it done.

Who can you encourage in their gospel work today?
I want to hear about your people and your ideas.

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

 

The Golden Rule for the Global Good

Day 24, GLOBAL
“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.”
― John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

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Remember the war

…and that someone cared to share the truth with you whether it was in a Sunday school classroom or in a backyard lawn chair. Consider how that courageous act changed your life and paved your way to the Savior. Think about how the love of Christ tapped you on the shoulder one day and invited Himself in. There are millions dying without the hope we have in Jesus and if everyone keeps the truth to themselves, how will their fates change?

Our prayers matter. Our spiritual growth matters. But doing unto others by proclaiming the name of Jesus in word and deed is the most honorable act of love. The reason we focus on the worldly pleasures and forget the war is because it’s so. stinking. hard. I know this. I am heartbroken over my propensity to stick my head in the sand of my comfortable world and ignore the needs all around me because it’s just easier that way.

But the best I can live the Golden Rule unto others is by introducing them to Jesus, encouraging and reminding them of the steadfast love that completely wrecked my life in the best way possible. I share with them the Word written for them and the Savior who sacrificed His life for theirs. I trust God to do the work but must be faithful to give Him the room.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee (Titus 2:11-15).

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Remind your fellow soldiers…

Keep encouraged and accountable with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be quick to praise when the focus is right, and push together towards right perspectives when they’re not. Rejoice over the right things. Weep over the wrong. Remember what Christ died for, and pursue its treasure together.

Consider the power of a global witness, of a band of brothers and sisters insistent on the name of Jesus being lifted high. Our light may be small and our influence limited, but we trust in the power of Christ to make it shine into places we never dreamed it it would reach.

Ask what you can do in your local church to make the gospel known in your hometown. Link arms with fellow light-bearers around the world. Consider your place in God’s global work. Do good unto others, as you would have them do unto you, for the sake of the gospel. Make the message known that was once made known to you.

Do good works, let your light shine. Teach and train and enlist for the war (this includes you, moms!). Do all this not to be honored but that God may be glorified. That our witness will be fortified and our gospel reach globalized.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

Do you have a war-time mindset?
How can you band together with fellow light-bearers to make His name known?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Stranded on the Side of Helplessness

DAY 22, BLOWOUT

I was stranded in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had made it that far, but couldn’t make it any further with a piece of glass in my Buick LeSabre’s poor little tire. In my helplessness, I called my husband who was back home waiting for me to return with our dinner’s ingredients. I was terrible at meal-planning back then.

I’m not sure I ever feel as clueless as when I have a car issue. I know next to nothing about automobile operation. I finally did learn how to put gas in my car after relying on my Daddy to do that job for my first year or so of license ownership. Yeah, I was spoiled.

I haven’t driven since we moved out of the US, and the thought of taking my driving exam upon our return to America puts me into a slight panic. I wonder if I’ll get my license, and if I do, if I’ll experience a blowout on the side of the road in the middle of an Ohio winter again.

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I’m either going to continue to depend on my husband to drive me everywhere still, or I am gonna put on my big girl pants and take my driving test. And then actually drive and, hopefully, avoid any collisions or issues. But if/when these things happen, I’ll have to call my husband to come rescue me just like I used to do. I’m sure he will love that.

When reaching out to lost and hurting people, I often find myself in a similar state of helplessness (especially in my second language). I’ve applied all the knowledge I possess, approached problems from every angle and exhausted myself in my efforts. I realize that I am not the most qualified person for the task, and I have to seek support.

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I first ask God for wisdom and discretion when sharing my faith or providing Biblical counsel. I beg for boldness and clarity of thought and speech that I may be able to recall Scripture and maneuver my way around the Word. But that’s not quite what I’m talking about here.

There are times I have to refer the person that has come to me to someone else. This has happened more times than I can count. Sometimes the problems are bigger than me. Sometimes my knowledge is limited, or my perspective is skewed by issues I am grappling with myself.

I may just not have the answers that are needed, and I realize all I am offering is confusion and misunderstanding. This isn’t fair to a person that is seeking truth. I share the Word, I pray for and with them, and I leave the issue in God’s hands. Often that is enough, but sometimes it’s not.

Occasionally, a person needs immediate counsel. There are desperate situations for which I am not qualified or emotionally stable enough to show up. In ministry, this often means I pass the situation along to my husband or to a more experienced woman in ministry. If I am made aware of an issue involving a man or a marriage that needs attention, I will direct these issues to their pastor or other male mentor.

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Initially, the person may be offended that I don’t want to deal with the problem. That I don’t have time or that I don’t care enough about their spiritual condition to sit down with them and wade through all of the muck and mire of sin and pain. This fear keeps me from putting them where they can really receive help, however, and it ultimately hurts them.

In humility, I set aside my personal interest and investment for the benefit of the lost or hurting person. I set them up with someone who is skilled and informed and may objectively and effectively provide counsel.

It hurts my pride to think that I am not always the best person for the job, but there are times I’m just not. When my knowledge and abilities fail to meet the heart needs of those whom I claim to love and want to see live for Christ, I have to let my control go.

I live the Golden Rule in ministry and missional living by letting God make change through His word and by asking for help when my ability to teach and train or care and counsel just isn’t enough.

There’s no reason to be stuck, and stranded when there’s someone ready and willing to offer help if only I would put aside my pride to ask for it.

Are you stuck trying to provide assistance in a situation for which you are not qualified?
Do you need to make a desperate call for help for the benefit of another?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

 

That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere [Velvet Ashes]

Day 22, Prompt: OFF

Living the Golden Rule to my family today by taking the day from #Write31Days and spending my Saturday with them. I believe you’ll be able to see the theme in my piece that was posted this week on Velvet Ashes. Specifically, it speaks to the necessity of relying on Christ’s power to do unto others when we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted.

Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere

If any time earned the title for a crisis, it was this one.

The country’s petrol pumps had run dry. Power cuts increased to 16 hours a day. Gas for cooking was unavailable for purchase. Rice, milk, and even water were in short supply.

The electricity was off when we woke up and when we went to bed and would come some time in the night. The comforting glow of our bedside heater would wake me up, and I would fall asleep again with a smile. But it wouldn’t last long.

Since the first month we arrived and the earthquake rocked this nation and forced us out of our new home, I had been operating in survival mode. My husband urged me, “It will all be over soon. We have to keep pushing.”

And we did, for months, through thousands of aftershocks, through protests, and essential good shortages. Sleep deprivation fueled the turmoil in my heart about the issues at hand. Apparently, moving across the world and surviving major natural disasters is a little much for a 3 month new baby and 3 year old girl.

Continue Reading at Velvet Ashes…