Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Always Copied, Never Duplicated

I saw this phrase on an advertisement a few months ago and it really struck me how this applies to Jesus' life. As Christians, we know that we are called to be like Jesus, but how? It is much more simple in word than in action.

When I first heard that I was supposed to be like Jesus and that He was going to help me, I was quite excited. I reasoned that, in a few years, when I finally became like Jesus then I would be happy. If you have ever tried to be like Jesus for yourself then you are probably laughing at my childishness. We find rather quickly that copying Jesus, although it is a good first step, is not enough. We can never duplicate Him and that is what we are called to do.

I have been reading C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and he explains this mystery better than I could. He says, "In one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.' "

That is the point when we realize that all our copying has not produced duplication. When we do despair of duplicating Christ's life then what recourse is left to us? We must recognize that He is His own Life that is in us. "God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NASB)

I turn to C. S. Lewis again: "Handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying to do all that He says. . . If you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you."

Truly it is an amazing mystery which only God can reveal to us. We can only copy; yet Christ duplicates Himself in us. If you find that what I write seems to be very important but you are not sure that you understand a word of it ask God for understanding. He will explain far more perfectly than I or even C. S. Lewis could. Much of what I read and hear I know that I need to understand but I don't. Most of my writing is not even so much to convince anyone but to think it out myself.

One more quote from Mere Christianity, "The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling'--which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, 'For it is God who worketh in you'--which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. . . I am puzzled but not surprised."

I do encourage you, if you have Mere Christianity in the house to read the second of the chapters entitled Faith. (Yes, two chapters have the same name.) If you do, tell me what you think.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I have always been told that I have a choice. Sometimes I didn't like either choice, sometimes the choice was obvious, sometimes I couldn't decide between the two choices, but there was always a choice.

My mother was the first person to make me aware of these choices. She would encourage me with statements like, "I can't make you choose to obey, but I can sure make you want to choose to obey." or "You have two choices: a) Clean your room with a good attitude or b) Get a spanking and then clean your room with a good attitude."

Good or bad, I knew that the choice was up to me. When I got older I was a lot better than some people at making good choices, because of the help my mother gave me in my very early years. Unfortunately, 'a lot better than some people' was not the standard that I was taught to live up to, I knew that only God is the standard.

Choices were getting bigger, more important, and harder. Encouragement was no longer enough. Sometimes I chose to do what was right, sometimes I chose to do what was wrong. When I chose right I was full of pride, when I chose wrong I was full of guilt.

I used to believe that the most important choice was between doing right or wrong. Now, instead of many choices between right and wrong actions, I believe only one choice is necessary. I must choose between believing God or believing a lie. Whom will I believe? Will I believe what I see and experience as reality or what God says is reality?
  • " But God . . . raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . ." (Ephesians 2:4-6)
  • For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
  • For he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:7)
  • "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. . ." (Galatians 2:20)
  • Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
If I choose to believe whatever the Truth says, regardless of what I feel or see, will not right and wrong fall into place? Why is wrong attractive? Because we believe the lie that it will satisfy us or make us happy. Choosing to believe God will never lead me to sin but it will bring me back to God quicker if I do sin.

It is much more freeing to say, "I believe you." then it is to say, "I obey you." Used to, I obeyed God because I feared Him, and I said I believed Him because I had to obey Him. Now, I believe God because I trust Him, I obey Him because I believe Him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Works of God

Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?"(John 6:28)

When I understood and believed that Jesus, being the Son of God, died for my sins so that I might have life in heaven I asked this question too. I was eager to please and was quickly given an answer: read your Bible, pray, tell others this good news about Jesus, be nice to everyone, go to church every Sunday, find a ministry in the church. Just to name a few.

I tried that for about eleven years. At the end of ten years I was not as sure that Jesus was good news and at the end of the eleventh year I KNEW He was not good news. He had promised me joy and left me with guilt, promised acceptance and provided condemnation, promised peace and left me with torment that I could never do everything that He asked. I was angry, betrayed, and told God that He was a liar and a fraud.

I told Him I was not going to try any more. I could not sleep that night (yes, I could only stay that angry for most of one night.) I was between a rock and hard place. I could not go on as I had been, but I could not get rid of God either. In my very deepest being, in spite of the evidence, I knew that He was my only answer. That is when I realized that "I will never leave you nor forsake you." wasn't just a gushy, feel-good promise but somewhat of a threat.

There was a purpose for all my striving and trying to work the works of God. It was to come to the absolute certainty that only God can work the works of God. After I had initially believed Jesus, that He was the Son of God as He said He was, I accepted what other people told me that Jesus wanted of me. When I was fully burnt out, I was ready to be refocused on Jesus Himself and what He said He required of me, and not what others told me about Him.

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:29) Now here is the "light burden and easy yoke" that I was promised. At first sight He says that our work is to believe Him. But, when you look closer He calls even that the work of God.

Is this too simplistic? Is this passivity? I really would like to know what you think. I think that it would be ridiculous for God to require something of us that we cannot do. Jesus plainly stated, "I can do nothing on My own. . ."(John 5:30) If He could do nothing on His own what do you think that we can do? My conclusion is that God both wills and works His good pleasure in an unexplainable mystery.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What to Do?

So often we ask God, "What do You want me to do with my life?" Then we expect the answer in a five to ten year detailed map of a very straight road that leads to God's goal for our life without any interruptions or changes of direction and all the loose ends tied up. Hmm.

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go . . ." (Genesis 12:1) Just "Go?"

For a while, God and I had an ongoing conversation like this:
me: "What do You want me to do? A or B?"
God: "Go."
me: "Great! Do You want me to go A or B?"
God: "Go."
me: "Why won't You answer me?"

C. S. Lewis said, "There are only two times that God is concerned with, this moment and eternity. God did explain His answer to me. He asked me, "Do you know what I want you to do today?"
"Then I have told you everything you need."

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go . . . to the land which I will show you . . ."(Genesis 12:1) I don't want to go to the land that God will show me, I want to go to the land that He has shown me. But, it is usually in the going that God reveals to us the land.

There is such pressure for us to have 'A Plan' for our lives. If someone asked Abraham, "What are you going to do with your life?" What would his response have been? "Well, I feel that God has called me to wander around the known world." Personally, I would much rather tell people that I'm going to be a marine biologist and save the whales.

God has revealed to me exactly what He wants me to do with my life, but it is hard to explain to those who ask. He has not given me a year plan, or even a month plan. I have a rough draft of the week's plan with the caution, "Subject to sudden and drastic change" as its headline. He has told me to go.

Today, I know that I should clean up the residue of our family vacation. Tomorrow, I will take the next step in starting my own sheep business. I'm not sure how a sheep business will further God's plan for my life, but it is something He has given me an interest in. I take the next step by faith, trusting that He is leading me where He wants to as I keep taking one step at a time.

Home Life

My AE girls went home from Dallas March 1st and I took Paige and Grace to my sister's farm in the booming town of Dodd City. I came home in time to vote on Tuesday and Grace and Paige then visited me Thursday and Friday. When they left on Friday afternoon my family and I left on a spring break trip. We got home yesterday around midnight.

Now that you are bored and updated with my schedule I'll talk about real Life. Life is much more real than schedules or even the situations that seem paramount to us.

Being home is very different than being in 'ministry'. People always seem to respect those who are not at home, whether it's for a career, college, or what is labeled ministry. "At least they are doing something" is the apparent feeling. I agree that it is good to do something, and all those things are good things to do. But isn't there more to the story?