Monday, March 16, 2015

Is Calvary Truly Enough?

Let me clarify my question. I'm not asking if Calvary is enough for salvation, for we know undoubtedly from Scripture that it is. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." This question is for Believers. Is Calvary enough for you?

This post has been hovering around my head for a while, as I didn't quite know how to put this idea into words in a way that an audience could understand. 

As we visit churches across the country, I am often struck with the sad state of the Church in America today. There are some fabulous Believers out there, ones with whom I have felt honored to have fellowship. We've met veteran missionaries full of tales of God's faithfulness on the field and the ripe harvest waiting for yet another missionary to step up to God's call. There are Believers who are anxious to pray for us every step of the way and send us on our way well taken care of for the journey, even at great personal expense and sacrifice. Then there are the others. An apathetic band of church-goers who try to look good on the outside, but are useless vessels for the gospel. Unfortunately, the latter group is the larger one.

Fellow Christians, what is our problem? We have been given salvation, eternal security, the righteousness of God, and all manner of spiritual blessings in Christ. Yet we are stingy stewards, keeping blessings, claimed or unclaimed, to ourselves. Instead, we scurry about like pack rats, hoarding happiness, worldly possessions, and yes, even the people around us. We can't seem to step out of the survival mode that has overtaken the faith God desires us to claim. 

I caught myself thinking this selfish way just the other day, and a question pricked my conscience: If all you had to look forward to after Christ saved you was loneliness, pain, suffering, want, and heartache in this world, would Christ STILL be enough for you? What if "all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus" did not come included in the package? What if the Holy Spirit had not come to dwell with Believers? Would you still believe?

Understanding came, and with it, shame. I, like so many of my fellow Christians, might SAY Jesus is all I need, that Calvary is the greatest thing that happened to me, that God's love is sufficient; but I don't LIVE that way. Why? I have seen God work again and again; seen Him answer prayers; experienced Him for myself. Why then can't I step out in faith?

Perhaps the same reason as you: we forget to count the cost. We forget to make the choice ahead of time that the cost is so minuscule in comparison to the privilege of loving Christ. My husband preaches a sermon in which he reminds the hearers that Paul associated following Christ with suffering. Now, honestly, none of us in America could say we have suffered as Paul did- yet we act as if what little cost we have experienced is too much to ask. 

"Give up that Starbucks coffee so I can give to faith promise? -I'm sure that's not what God meant."

"Go to Wednesday night prayer meeting? -But that's my grandson's big game!"

"Open my home to missionaries? -What if they find out we're not 'super Christians'?"

"Tell my neighbor about Christ? -I don't want to offend anyone."

"Teach Sunday school? -But Sunday is the only day I get to myself! Besides, I'm not a teacher."

And the list of excuses are endless... In essence, "I'll serve God as long as it doesn't get in the way of me living my comfortable, middle class lifestyle."

What???? What kind of Christianity is that? It's not like God called us to the easy road; no, quite the contrary. We are called to the difficult, less traveled path cluttered with obstacles. 

Friends, let's get our priorities straight. We've made ourselves more important that loving God with all our hearts; and that my friends, is idolatry, and idolatry is as the sin of witchcraft. Whoa! It's time for God's people to humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked (selfish, self-seeking) way. Christ DIED for us. We should be lining up to forfeit a little pleasure so we can give a small something back to Him.

We need to get off our high horse, fall on our knees, and get back in the Word. Calvary IS enough, both for salvation, AND for daily living; but only if we let it be enough.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Matchbox Cars & Ministry

 Sometimes it is easy to forget the "ministry" part of "pre-field ministry/deputation" and just think of the churches we visit, acting missionary perfect, and hoping for some financial support. There are many churches that we have visited that had no intention of supporting us in the future, and some that didn't even give a love offering. But that's not the point. The point is ministry. Ministry is more than getting support. It is meeting people, making their day a little brighter, and sharing Hope to live by. It is giving a smile, a joke, an investment in someone else. It's being an encouragement to other Believers.

One way I have found to do this is through matchbox cars. I often feel for the missionary or pastor kids that go out to eat with their parents and then are expected to sit quietly for an hour or two while the adults talk. So the Lord brought to mind an idea from a teacher friend in Taiwan. Matchbox cars.

Matchbox cars are pretty durable, and the wheels are less likely to get pulled off when they're chewed. They can handle being dropped multiple times and allow for quiet entertainment. A perfect way to make friends. Now, when we're out at a restaurant with small children in the party, or in the doctor's office, or somewhere else boring for small children, I ask parents if their child can have a c-a-r. It always brings a smile. One boy even gave me a hug and proudly patted his front shirt pocket (where his car was lodged) at the next service . 

It's a little investment that makes a difference, if even a small one, and that's what ministry is about.