Monday, April 30, 2012

is the Word changing you?

"The one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out - he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:25, NET)

I've been challenged by this verse the last couple of weeks. There's a phrase in it that made me groan a bit when I read it: "does not become a forgetful listener." We're not just to read or study the Word and then walk away. The Word of God is meant to change us.

The Word of God is meant to change us!

We're not to become a "forgetful listener." A person who hears a message, or reads Scripture, or studies Scripture and then walks away thinking it was good, but nothing changes because of it. When we look in God's Word, when we study it, it should change us. Our lives should be different because of what it says.

And we have a choice in it. We can read it or hear it and walk away. We can even be moved to tears by it, but if it doesn't change us in some way, then we have become a forgetful listener.

I'm in the midst of a study on the book of James right now and James is a book that constantly calls us to live out what we believe. It's not enough to just believe it - we have to live it. When we become forgetful listeners, we're no longer living it. Oh we might be living part of it that we learned and applied years ago, but we're not still leanring and being changed by it.

The Word of God is meant to change us!

When was the last time you were changed by study of the Word of God?

Are you still being changed by your impact with the Word of God?

The Word of God is meant to change us. Is it changing you?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

letting go of the good for the better

Whether I should be writing this post at this late hour (or rather early morning hour) remains to be seen, but since I'm still awake and since it is now my birthday I feel a desire to write.

The last few weeks have caused me to reflect a bit on things in my life. This birthday isn't a "big one" but it seems a little significant for me. I've found myself looking at all of the things I thought I would do in my twenties and realizing that there's a lot of them left for me to do in the coming year if I'm going to . Except I don't have control over all of them, so I can't make them happen this year. And at the same time I see all sorts of things that I didn't plan on having happen that have happened.

As I have reflected, I have come to a conclusion on things: Sometimes you have to let go of what may seem good in order to receive the even better that God has for us. None of things I thought would happen that haven't happened are bad things - in fact, they're all good things - but, had those things happened some of the other things wouldn't have happened. I had to let go of good things to get even better things.

It's not fun, in the moment, to not get something good. I always thought that I would be married by now and possibly have some kids of my own before I turned thirty. Given that I'm single right now, that doesn't seem very likely that all that will happen in the next 12 months (it actually might be a little freaky if all that did happen in that short time frame). Wanting to get married and have kids is a good thing, and not having that isn't always fun, but I have made the choice to believe that there are other things in my life that are better for right now (they may not always be better, but they are better for now). I have time to do things I wouldn't otherwise. I can get involved in anything I think I might enjoy at church and serve in ways I couldn't if people were waiting for me at home. I have a freedom with my finances to be generous whenever I feel lead. Having those things doesn't mean that it would be bad if I had a husband and kids. It just means that I have received something different.

Sometimes you have to let go of what may seem good in order to receive the better that God has for us. That better may be just for a season or it may be for a lifetime.

So, what about you? Are there things in your life that would be good that seem to not be happening? Could it be that God has something even better than that in store for you?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

love the church? (part 2)

I've been struggling for a while how to write this post. After my post a couple weeks ago on loving the church, I've felt like I had more to say but I haven't been sure how to write it. Loving the church is not always easy. And sometimes when we talk to people about why they love or don't love the church, they have some incredibly good reasons for their feelings.

The church is full of people, and sometimes people do things that hurt. That can make it hard to love the church sometimes. We don't generally choose to love people who hurt us - at least not if they have hurt us more than once. But, to love the church, we find ourselves in a place where we choose to love even when we've been hurt. That's not something that is easy to do.

So, what do we do? How do we love the church when the people that make up the church have hurt us? Is it even reasonable to expect that we would?

As hard as it can be, I do think we are called to love the church even when we have been hurt by the church. I don't mean we have to trust people who have hurt us or stay in the place where we have been hurt, but I think we need to love the church anyways. The church is the body of Christ on earth and we cannot choose to leave it behind. We need all parts working together and sometimes that means we make the choice to forgive and to keep moving forward together.

I know this is hard. I've lived it. I've had to choose to keep loving the church, even when I've been hurt by the church.* It's not something we can do on our own. It's something we can only do through the Holy Spirit in us. And it's something we need to do.

So, my conclusion is that, yes, it is reasonable to expect that we would love the church even when we've been hurt by it.

*Note to those wondering: I have chosen not to provide any detail regarding my own experience with being hurt by the church because I don't feel that this is an appropriate space to share those kinds of details. I want to respect anyone who may have been involved in that and telling an unknown audience on this blog is not a way that I can do that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

So, I went to a Good Friday service tonight - not yesterday. Seems a little strange to put it that way, but it made me think about today in a different way than I usually do. To be honest, most years the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday passes for me with little thought. It's just another day on the calendar. But, today I stopped and thought a little more.

It's almost hard to put myself in the shoes of Jesus' followers on this day. Because I know what comes tomorrow, it's easy to just jump straight to that. But, Saturday was a day Jesus' followers had to live through. They had watched Jesus die and be placed in a tomb. As far as they knew, He was gone for good. They had no idea what was coming.

The feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, and despair must have been overwhelming. The One they had given up everything for had died. They were left alone and lost. Everything they had given their lives to for the last three years had been taken away from them - at least as far as they knew. That would have been hard to live in.

And so, I pause, and I wait. I wait until Sunday, when everything changes. And we celebrate that.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Have you ever wondered why we call it Good Friday? I mean, it really doesn't seem like it would have been a good day for Jesus' followers when they watched Him get nailed to a cross and die. They wouldn't have had the thought that Jesus would rise from the dead in victory just a few days later. We have that in mind when we come to Good Friday on our calendars. We know what happened a few days later. And even still I often find myself wondering why we call it Good Friday. It just doesn't seem to be a name we would give to a day that is for us to remember Jesus' sacrifice for us.

When I look for and do some research there are all kind of things said about why this day is called Good Friday. I couldn't find an explanation that was universally given. And so I'm left to wonder why. But, maybe that is a good thing. It makes me stop and actually think about this day - about this weekend.

Jesus' death paid the ultimate price for all of the sin of all of humanity. That's something worth remembering - because it changed everything. And then three days later, He rose from the dead - He conquered death! That really changed everything!

In many ways, it is beyond human understanding that someone would do this for us. We have people we would give a lot for, but probably not a lot of people we would give our lives for. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus did for us. He gave His life for us! That's some amazing news.

Maybe that is why we call today Good Friday.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

going from the classroom to the real world

I've been reflecting lately on some of the things I have written on this blog. They're things that don't necessarily sound easy to live out, but writing about them sounds good. They're the "right things" to say. They're the truth about what God has to say through His Word. But, that doesn't change the fact that moving from the classroom with these things into the real world can be a challenge.

When we finally have an understanding of what something looks like, it may seem like we're done. But, that is very often the time that God is looking for us to put what we learned into practice. God doesn't teach us things so that we have more knowledge. He teaches us things so that they become part of a transformed life. We have to act on those things we learn.

We have to take what we learned in the classroom into the real world. In some ways, it's like what happens when we finally finish our education and get a job that uses it. We take what we learned in the classroom and we start to put it to use in everyday life. It does us no good at that point to keep what we learned in our heads. We cannot do our jobs well if we do that. We have to put it into practice.

And it is the same with what we learn as we walk with God. What we learn doesn't ultimately do us any good if it just stays in our heads. We have to learn how to use what we learn in everyday life.