Sunday, April 10, 2011

not a fan.

Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?'

Luke 9:23-25

I have been challenged lately by what it means to love Christ. To really love Him. Not just to say "Hey, God I love ya. Could you help me out with my patience?". But to really lay down all of my desires for His sake.

For His Kingdom.

For His purpose.

It seems I have just gone through life as a fan of Christ. Thankful for all He can do for me...his forgiveness, grace, love. But I haven't really stepped over the threshold into a follower. I've been sitting on the sidelines cheering Him on. A spectator. But I desire so much more. I want to be found in Him. I want people, when they look at me, to see Him...not me. I want His glory, His light, and His love to radiate from within me. I want to lose my life for Him.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-22

Did you notice those words? At once. Immediately. There wasn't any hesitation. They desired what Jesus was offering so much that they left all they had, immediately, and followed Him. They were not fans. They were followers. They laid down their lives to follow Him.

I keep looking back at James and John and the fact that they were IN the boat with their father and that they immediately left their boat. Now in my mind, I don't see them gently walking out of the boat onto a dock, because really...did they even have docks? No. I see them out a ways, getting ready to cast their nets into the water...and here's Jesus on the shore, shouting to them to follow Him. And what do James and John do? They immediately drop their net, leave their father without so much as a goodbye, leap out of the boat and into the water head first and swim to shore as fast as they can. They were devoted. Their enthusiasm could not be contained.

I want to be like that. When God says move, I want to move. No questions asked. Just move. Jump. Leap. Do whatever it takes to follow after Him with all that I am.

Another example is Elisabeth Elliot. Her husband and four other missionaries were killed by the Auca Indians. And what does she do? What God tells her...which is contrary to what the world says. She moves into the same village, with the same people who killed her husband. And it's not just her, she brought along their 3 year-old daughter. That takes faith. And trust. But she laid down her life for the sake of God, and God moved in the hearts of the Auca people. Read her story in "The Savage My Kinsman". Allow it to change you as it did me.

When God calls you. Be ready. Don't just be a fan. Be a follower. Be willing to lay down your life for Him. It may go against what the world says is "normal", but if it didn't then God couldn't shine through it. God doesn't want us to just blend in...He wants us to shine. It's hard to be a light when we look like everyone else.

I know that I am choosing Him. No matter the cost. No matter the call. I am not a fan. I am a follower. Are you?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

At the Altar

Again, another amazing piece from my devotional that touched the core of me. Hope you are able to glean something from it too.

"Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness." Malachi 3:3

Everyone has an altar. It can be visible or invisible, holy or profane, elaborate or ordinary, but it's always there. It can be based on ideologies, dreams, or simple pleasures, but we can always find a foundation. We have to; everyone's life needs to revolve around something.

Because everyone has an altar, everyone brings offerings. Some people offer their bodies to people and pleasure. Others offer their minds to areas of study. Still others offer their emotions to a trend of the day or a relationship of the month. We can offer finances to gods of materialism and exploitation, time to gods of entertainment and apathy, and talents to gods of fame and fortune. We have no shortage of gifts to bring to our altars, because the world has no shortage of altars. All human beings are drawn to a cause, even if the cause is themselves.

Part of the Refiner's purpose is to get to the bottom of those causes and burn all of them away except one. That's why people often come to Christ when they're in the midst of a crisis or when they've lost everything they once thought mattered to them. In a world of false altars, the only way God can establish true praise in His people is to break down His rivals. His Word calls that 'refining'. We call it pain.

Yes, it's painful to live in this crucible. But before you despair, try this exercise: Offer your pain on the true altar. Bring all of your trials, your temptations, and your disappointments to God; place them on the altar and worship. Ask God to use every hard thing in your life to display something of His glory - in your sin, mercy; in your impossibilities, miracles; in your sickness, healing; in your turmoil, peace. Realize that every situation in your life is a platform for God to show something of Himself. In the end, the beauty of the metal will demonstrate the beauty of the Refiner.

"All along the Christian course, there must be set up altars to God on which you sacrifice yourself" - Alexander Maclaren