Good morning! My Saturday morning started off early with Bible Study at 9 am. My LifeGroup met at Panera Bread this morning to discuss the last chapter of Crazy Love, the book we have been studying by Francis Chan. Dear friends, it is such an incredible book designed to wake up the sleeping church of America. There is no such thing as a 'lukewarm' christian. We may all go through times where we experience 'lukewarm' tendencies, but if we have Jesus in us, if we believe in Him, have faith that He is who He said He is and everything in the Bible is literal and true, we have no choice but to run towards Him, giving away ourselves for His glory...living for the Kingdom of God.
Everything I am about to blog is straight from Francis Chan...what now? Now that I know there is a choice that must be made, what will I now do. I want to share with you things that stuck out to me in chapter 10, 'the crux of the matter.' Please, if you have not read this book already...I know I just told you in my previous blog to go purchase So Long, Insecurity...go get this book. And wake up! Jesus has a plan for each one of us and I can promise you, none of us want to miss out!
"After the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, people 'were cut to the heart and said...Brothers, what shall we do?' Acts 2:37. The first church responded with immediate action: repentance, baptism, selling possessions, sharing the gospel. We respond with words like Amen, Convicting sermon, Great book..." Friends, does that convict you? When I read those words, I was heart broken. Really. Even in this blog I am telling you what a great book Crazy Love is. I do not want to become paralyzed and forget everything I have studied. I want to live. Fully. And prosper. I want to obey God, no holding back. No questioning. I pray for this. If we say Amen, convicting sermon, and great book, and then go about our day then we are the very definition of hypocrit. That is the blunt and honest truth.
'Oswald Chambers writes, "never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you."...allow God to be as creative with you as He is with each of us.' I don't know about you, but me personally...there are so many times that I just want a friend to be changed the EXACT same way I was. If a sermon affected me this way, it better affect Zane the same. Since amazing grace makes me cry every time I sing it, it best make you cry too or else you are not really thankful for the grace God has given you. You must just be singing the words and not thinking about the meaning.--sadly, I actually have thought that so many times! Shame on me. Just because I have an extreme passion for orphans and music doesn't mean my friends, my husband, my family have to as well! "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Francis Chan goes on to mention "that is why I cannot say in this book everyone is supposed to be a missionary or you need to sell your car and start taking public transportation. What I can say is that you must learn to listen to and obey God, especially in a society where it's easy and expected to do what is most comfortable."
If we love, we obey. Really. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" John 14:15. Even if it looks crazy to the world. My life is not suppose to make sense to a nonbeliever. If it does, I am not living like Christ wants me to live. Friends, if we are Christians, we must be completely obsessed with Christ. We must remember (1) 'if I stop pursuing Christ, I am letting our relationship deteriorate...it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.' (2) 'we are not alone...there is so much more to our existence than what we can see. What we do reverberates through the heavens and into eternity.'
Francis Chan challenges us, christians, to try for a whole day to be conscious of heaven. Can you imagaine how different our day would look if we were looking above. If our minds were dwelling on eternity rather than the present? I have become more aware over these past months how much the actions of a christian can far effect the church. We do not know how far our actions will ripple throughout others lives, but people are watching us. If we call ourselves Christians, people will look up to us in certain situations, watch how we behave, and some will wait and hope for us to stumble. How I behave has a direct influence on how someone could see Jesus. As a christian, my reputation affects Jesus' reputation. That is a heavy burden! I am so thankful Jesus is with me along the way, to be my foundation and strength when I fall. Oh and I am so terribly thankful we have a merciful and gracious Lord! Furthermore, "how we believers live out our lives is a microcosm of the life of the church." I'm sure we all know people who have left the church because of a particular person. Friends! We have to be more aware of how we are perceived. "You do not need to preach to your pastor or congregation; you simply need to live out in your daily life the love and obedience that God has asked of you."
"For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God; for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." Romans 14:10-12 When Francis Chan asked, 'what will people say about your life in heaven?' I had to put down the book and start praying for God to radically change my life. I do not want to get to heaven and look down upon the earth and realize how I wasted my God-given opportunity to work and serve for His kingdom. 'How will you answer the King when He says, "What did you do with what I gave you?'" Yeah...ponder that one. Ouch. If you are like me...it is time we make a change. I want to be able to answer God that He may say 'well done, good and faithful servant.' If I were to die today, my response would be...umm...and then speechless.
I know this has been long. I am almost done! I promise! Let me tell you a story from the book. "I was recently told about a man who heard me preach on 1 Corinthians 15:19-20, where Paul writes, 'if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.' This man was convicted that since Christ is indeed alive, he needed to live like it. So he quit his well-paying job and became a pastor--something he had felt called to do for a while. When people make changes in their lives like this, it carries greater impact than when they merely make impassioned declarations. The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives."
May each of us be able to respond to God when we reach heaven's pearly gates, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8
--This has been a summary of my thoughts from Francis Chan's Crazy Love.