Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One hundred percent

Giving 100%, nothing held back, will open the floodgates of blessings from heaven. So many Christians do the equivalent of dipping their toe in the water but don't just jump in and go for it. They fully intend to "someday" but convince themselves that they are doing pretty good by choosing one thing to work on, and use that one thing as a distraction from having to feel guilty about whatever it is that they are holding back.

A 100%-er is someone who has no sin they are unwilling to give up. A 100%-er is someone who gives their whole heart to God, imperfections and all, nothing held back. They say:

"God I give you my life. Wherever you may lead I give you full reign of the events of my life. I give you my abilities, my hopes, my past present and my future. I give you my health, my family, my finances, my fears. I give you my sins and weaknesses, my strengths and talents. I give you all who have wronged me and forgive them. I give you all that I have ever done wrong and ask forgiveness. I give you my possessions and means, my ideas and imagination. Whatever is your will in my life, I trust you with it."

It is so liberating to have nothing held back, to know that although you have a road yet to travel, that as of right now you are "right" with God, and knowing that no matter how bad things get, you can trust that God will guide your path so that you can have a worry-free life regardless of your circumstances. God is the same God who blessed Job and made him very wealthy. The same God who gave Solomon all his famous riches. God will probably not make you wealthy in a monetary sense, but he will take care of you so that you will lack nothing, and make you wealthy in the abiding presence of the holy spirit.

Another wonderful thing about being a 100%-er. You get to participate in the miracles of God. People love to hear about miracles and God's intervention. By becoming a 100%-er you'll be joining His inner circle, and some pretty amazing things happen there. Not all the time, not instantly, but you will be where the "action" is, and it can be very fulfilling to be in God's inner circle. Just remember that Paul prayed three times asking God about his "thorn in the flesh" which the devil was pestering Paul about. Finally the third time God gave him an answer. The miraculous and direct answers from God will still be the exception, and may never become commonplace, but if you're going to be a Christian, being a 100%-er is definitely the place to be.

If you are part of a church group, a sign of a 100%-er is that they will be an active worker and contributor, not just another person sitting in the audience.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A bigger gift than we sometimes realize

Early in my Christian experience I used to wonder innocently "What did Jesus really give up, by dying on the cross?" He was raised back to life in three days, after all. Well, we also know that if we give our life as a Christian that we will be ressurected too. But we don't want to die, do we? Especially not painfully. Leaving hurt ones behind and missing out on the life we'd planned, even though we know a better life awaits us. But even that requires faith. "What if something goes wrong?" "What if we don't make it?" Jesus had to deal with these same issues, and the stakes were very very high, the life of God's own son at risk. There are other things Jesus may have given up by assuming humanity, but much of that we don't know till Jesus comes again and we get to ask all those questions.

But God gave up something we don't always think about, when he let Jesus be a sacrifice for our sins.

Think of what Jesus accomplished in three short years of His ministry. Can you imagine what another 30 years could have accomplished to benefit mankind?

I can just see God watching approvingly as His Son "finally got it right"; as the truth about God was revealed and Jesus lived his life as a perfect example of love, kindness and forgiveness.

What an opportunity for God! Jesus wept when Isreal would not accept him. Imagine how Jesus felt too, about all that he could accomplish for good.

Even though it was Christ's mission to come and be a sacrifice for our sins, it was also his mission to minister to mankind, and it was likely a very hard choice to let Jesus be sacrificed so soon, and so harshly. It is not so different from Isaac - a young life so perfect and full of promise. We get a glimpse of this when Jesus prayed to the Father: "if there be another way..."

So what does all that mean? To me, just that the price was great, and that I need to keep aware and respect the great price given. Then my awareness and awe will turn to a life in which I try to honor that - and make sure that so great a price is not wasted. Either on me or for anyone else I am able to help along the way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Freedom through giving

To keep the benefits of giving, we have to stay in the realm of truly giving, rather than falling into the trap of "just doing our obligations". The quickest way to get out from under an obligation is to go the second mile. I think that this was the gift Jesus was giving the Jews when He gave the instructions to give their cloak also or to go the second mile in the sermon on the mount. By going two miles, both miles became a gift, so that neither mile was by obligation. Jesus set the Jews free of many oppressive obligations, and to us now if we will listen to that same advice.

I think most people would hear that teaching and paraphrase it in their minds to say "don't just do what you ought, do even beyond that" as a calling to a higher standard, but I think it was more than that, I think He was giving them a tool to lessen the burden of the Roman oppression they were under.

You know how when you were just about to do some task, unasked, and you imagine how everyone will be pleased when they see you've done it. But then someone asks you to do it, thereby stealing your good deed and turning it into an obligation. Well, by using Jesus' method you can take it back by simply going it one better. Load the laundry to the dryer and take out the trash. How cool is that?