Going through the fire…

In order to purify gold, it must be subjected to intense heat. As the gold melts and begins to boil, all of the impurities make their way to the surface.

The people that irritate you the most might just be going through this process. Give them grace. God is probably purifying their life for an incredible purpose…

I don’t think I want to be a Christian anymore…

But let me explain…

I’ve been really struggling with what it means to be a “Christian” and what that looks like in this world. A few things have been deeply resonating within me that have brought me to this conclusion…

Did you know, the term “Christian” is only used 3 times in the bible? And the term “Christian” is used in a derogatory fashion towards other believers. Beyond that, Jesus never called his followers “Christians” and nobody else in the bible called themselves (or referred to other followers of Jesus) as “Christians” with the exception of Peter, but his reference was to those who suffered under the persecution. Jesus and the other believers simply called each other disciples or brothers & sisters. But that isn’t really the big issue…

I have realized that the term “Christian” has become increasingly diluted and that anyone who wants to say they are a Christian have unlimited latitude in doing so. If any person says they believe in god (any way choose to see god), they call themselves a “Christian.” If someone attends church on Easter and Christmas, they are “Christians.” If a person grew up in a Christian home, somehow that makes them a “Christian.” But that wasn’t how Jesus defined it. But there’s more…

I’m heartbroken by the multitudes of “Christians” and churches that don’t represent Jesus or “Christianity” the way it should be. Jesus never once told his followers to judge the world. And yet that’s what the church, in general, is doing every day. I see “Christians” telling gays that they are going to hell, or “Christians” casting judgement on an unmarried couple sleeping together. The list is really endless, but the point is that “Christians” have set up a moral code for the world that was never meant to exist in the first place. The Apostle Paul said very clearly in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, that believers are to judge believers, not those that are outside of the faith. In 1 John, we are told to LOVE those outside of the church and let God be the one to speak to their hearts, particularly about moral issues. And that’s where “Christians” have failed the most.

I think I’d rather just call myself a follower of Jesus instead of a “Christian.” I just love Jesus, but also I love others because of the love that Jesus has shown me. It’s not my job to cast judgment on those around me, it’s my job to love them… to show them Jesus… the Jesus that set me free from a life of pain and sorrow.

The Temple

Love this post taken from the wheretheywalked blog…  Feels like you’re in the story!

I had gone to the temple for prayer. It was a cool night, and I was excited to go on the walk. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was hoping for a miracle.

While deep in thought, I almost missed the entrance. I walked up slowly. I heard voices. I didn’t want to be rude, and disturb anyone.

I walked in and what I saw puzzled me.

A man, I knew as a Pharisee, was praying aloud. He stood alone. His voice was unsympathetic, and sure. He even had a smile upon his face.

He looked up into the night, and said, “ God? I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector!” He pointed to the back of the temple, with disgust.

There in the dark, in the back of the room on his knees, was a man.

The Pharisee continued his prayer. “I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of all I get!”

He stood, arrogantly, and walked slowly back and forth. I watched as his robe moved slowly upon the stones, and his shawl was covered tight upon his head.  I looked back to the man.

He hid in the shadows. His hands covered his head. He wouldn’t even look up. Not to the Pharisee, or to Heaven. Suddenly he yelled, “God!”

He beat his breast hard. He wailed. “God? Have mercy on me…I am a sinner.”

He bowed his head as tears streamed from his eyes. His body shook with emotion, and fear.

At first I was angered.

A tax collector is nothing but a thief. I thought of how they stole so much from my family. How could God even love a man like this? I looked at the religious man. I knew he loved God, honored God, and dedicated his life to God. But he was so proud… My stomach turned, as I heard him boast about himself. Again, I looked at the tax collector. I had sympathy, and my heart broke for him. I knew. He was humbled where the Pharisee was exalting himself.

I couldn’t help but feel that God heard the tax collector, ever so clearly. To the Pharisee, He did not. I walked out of the temple. Even forgetting to pray. I learned a lot from that night. I learned that being humble is so much more precious to God, than pride.

Taken from Luke 18:10-14

What do all these things have in common?

– A 1943 penny found in a dresser drawer recently sold for $100,000
– Levi Jeans by Daniel Hirst auctioned at $27,500
– A Worn out GI Joe doll discovered in someone’s garage ended up being worth $3,500
– An old beat up baseball card stumbled upon in an attic worth $250,000

All of these items could have easily been tossed aside, thrown out and not even given a second thought. It took another glance, a double-take, a deeper understanding to realize the value they truly represent. But the bigger question is this: How many people enter our lives that we kick to the curb and don’t believe are worth very much, at least not worth our time. You know them…

The weathered old man collecting cans in the back of the grocery store… The tattered homeless guy asking you for a bite to eat… The rebellious kids spray painting the wall outside the local office building… The young girl sitting alone in her car with tears running down her face. They are all over the place, not too hard to find and really ARE worth something…

Friends, these people have significant value and are worth far more than a rare penny, some fancy jeans, a first generation doll or an old beat up baseball card. The saddest thing of all is that they don’t believe they have any value whatsoever. They feel worthless, hopeless… But that’s where we come in.

These people just need you, they need me, they need love, they need God. But it’s our responsibility to show them this love… We are to be the reflection that brings them a glimpse of eternity, a tiny pinnacle of light that says they matter to someone, because they DO matter.  They matter desperately to God and they should matter to you and I as well.

So the next time you see someone who doesn’t appear like they are “worth” the time, take another look. You might just need to get a little closer to see the true value they have inside…

Enough with the inconvenience please…

Don’t we all just hate being inconvenienced? Someone needs a ride unexpectedly and you don’t feel like taking them… A friend asks for a few bucks, but you’ve only got a few left… You get that phone call that he or she just broke down on the freeway, of course you’re late for work… We’ve all had those moments where inconvenience is what we dread the most. 

But what happens when we expect the unexpected… when we accept that inconvenience is not only going to happen, but we embrace it with open arms?

We grow! We grow as friends… We grow in our love for others… We show people God… And the best thing… We find that inconvenience is nothing short of an incredible blessing shrouded by our own selfishness.

Friends, be willing to be inconvenienced. You’ll find that God uses you far more than you could ever imagine. And just think, you will be His hands and His feet in those most inconvenient yet precious moments…