Friday, July 20, 2007


Doesn't it seem that when God is trying to get a point across to you, he will use various kinds of sources to deliver that message, often at the same time? That has been my experience this week. What He's trying to teach me is coming to me from everywhere! Literally, every time I open the Word, it has to do with this topic. This week, my pastor's sermon, the books I've been reading, blogs I come across, others' stories and just experiences of life have all challenged me with the same exact message. And it is this: Am I just living the "safe" Christian life, or am I willing to live and give ALL for Jesus? He's kind of an all-or-nothing God. Don't mistake what I mean....He is patient with us as we find our way. But we must admit that He does ask a lot from us. And I'm realizing that more this week. I'm reminded of Scripture in Revelation 3:15-16 that says how much God is disgusted by lukewarmness, or middle-of-the-road "Christian" living. Ouch. That one convicts me big-time. I have to admit that I like it safe and comfortable. I think most of us do. We want to protect ourselves from pain, danger, and embarrassment. I am always on the lookout for making my life easier. But easier does not equal better. I just feel challenged with this like I never have been before. I mean, I knew God said to live this passionate, dangerous life that He has for us and to participate in how He's called me to in whatever huge thing He wants to do in my generation/lifetime. But how easy is it to think that this experience on earth is about me and my happiness rather than what God wants to accomplish? I will be the first to admit that it is really hard for me not to get off-focus in that regard. My last post told you about a girl whose three-month old baby girl died last weekend. It really affected me not only on an emotional level but on a deeply spiritual one too. I felt completely broken the day I heard that news, crying out to God about how hard it is that He asks us to be willing to give up our most valuable "possessions"....our precious children being the hardest thing I can imagine having to give up. God does not always take away the things that bring us so much enjoyment in life, but He does ask us to be willing. Don't think I type those words very easily or happily. I realize how hard that is. I told God I thought it was pretty crazy. Don't worry, it was actually from a more humble position than it sounds. =) He knows. I did wrestle a little bit that day, trying to understand why God would ask us to make hard choices like that, but I did so with a heart that said, "Lord, you are God and you are good, these things I know. Even if you do not make it easy or give me any answers, I still trust you." And joy did come in the morning. Peace came too. I was still sad for that particular woman's suffering, as well as suffering on earth in general. But you just get to a point where it hits you....either He's worthy of that kind of living, or He's not. I MUST MAKE A CHOICE. If I believe He is exactly who He says He is in His Word, then He's perfectly right in asking me to give up the things in life that are hard (or nearly impossible) to give up, as He does in Matthew 10:37-39. If I truly BELIEVE Him, then I'll know that the life He has to offer is better than the life I've been asked to let go of (verse 39). I've just been freshly challenged, "Do you believe that, Hannah?" God is saying, "Do you believe ME?" I have to trust that He is good, regardless of how hard life can be or the sacrifices He asks us to make. He's also pressing on my heart that trust is His favorite kind of worship. It's a worship that is real, not just made of empty words. And it's a matter of the heart, which is where He happens to be looking (1 Samuel 16:7).

In the book I'm reading that I mentioned in my previous post, the author, Mike Erre, talks about how far we've gone from living as God intended the church to. He says we've watered down what Jesus is really about....and have missed who He is. In the first chapter, he talks about the political climate in Jerusalem/Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth and how if we really understood those things, we would better understand what a revolution Jesus' birth really was. He detailed the lives of Caesar and Herod, rulers at the time of Jesus' birth, and how they impacted their world. He writes, "The Christmas story forces us to choose between these two kingdoms. Do we bow before the Caesars of our time, or dare we embrace the kingdom of Jesus?" There's more:

"The white-washed, watered-down version of the Christmas story many of us celebrate leads us inevitably to the tame and safe gift shop Jesus. But if we understand his birth as revolution, then we may glimpse the revolution that his life will bring. Jesus has been, and always will be, a threat to the establish order of things. This should no longer surprise us today. Two thousand years of church history should suggest that the movement of Jesus is most dangerous when it is opposed...Our world doesn't want to be reminded of Christ - because he forces us to choose. In our just-do-it, have-it-all kind of world, the revolution of Jesus forces us to choose: Who is King? Who is Lord? What empire do you serve? What god do you bow down to?...Two kingdoms war on this earth. One is led by Herods and Caesars; the others by Jesus Christ." And finally:

"For Paul, being at the center of the will of God was dangerous. And so it is for hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus today. Only in the West has the heretical notion that God will protect us from all harm really taken root...His revolution demands our complete surrender to him, and our obedience doesn't guarantee a problem-free life. In fact, it may lead to just the opposite. We must be very clear about this, for Jesus asked his followers again and again to count the cost of following him. If we did the same thing, invited people to consider what it really means to follow Jesus, then perhaps our churches would have fewer consumers and more disciples."

Wow. Maybe it's time for the church to seek out the REAL Jesus, not just rely on what we've been sold told through the years....and maybe make some apologies for it to the unbelievers in the world.

I promise the next post won't be so heavy. Or preachy. Well, maybe I shouldn't make promises like that, since I have no idea what tomorrow will bring! But there ARE more light-hearted posts to come! I do promise that.