How successful are you at being a Christian? If you’re like me, you have your ups and downs. Some days I’m full of faith; other times I doubt. Sometimes my prayers are answered, but not always. I may gain a victory in one part of my life, but not in another.
For years, as I slowly grew in my knowledge and understanding of God’s ways, my response to failure was to try harder. I’d confess my mess and promise to get it right the next time. Likely as not, I’d fail again. Like Paul, I’d gripe (but not as eloquently) about my inability to get it right.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Visiting a friend’s church recently, the sermon I heard really bothered me. In general, I hate to criticize pastors or their sermons, as I know the they spend a lot of time and effort composing something that they believe to be true and helpful to the congregation, but this one kept replaying in my mind. Maybe writing it all out will help.
The young pastor started off by reading Matthew 11:28, a familiar verse: “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Then he asked some good questions: How do we come to Christ? We believe in Christ Jesus, but “where’s the beef?” Where do we get the power to live out the Christian life day to day? How do I hear His voice? How do I get the strength I need?
Stop at this point and consider—how would you answer this question?
Tuesday, I wrote about how I came to follow Jesus. Today I continue the story.
I had been born again, but in a way, it was a premature birth. I just didn’t have a clue about what I’d signed up for, that my new-found faith was going to impact every aspect of my life. Still, it was a birth. I was naked and messy and knew nothing, but I was alive.
I had my first communion at an all-campus service on June 1, right before finals week, and was baptized in the lake on campus the next afternoon. I took my tests, packed up my dorm room, hopped in my car and headed home for the summer. Continue reading
For the last several years, a friend of mind has been praying for a door to open. While she waits, her life is on hold—career, education, family—it all hinges on God’s answer. And until now, God didn’t say no, but He didn’t say yes either. In fact, He didn’t say anything at all.
Last week, she finally received an answer to her prayers. Amid the joy and excitement of God’s “Yes!” there’s the nagging question of why did God wait so long? From our perspective, He could have answered years ago. Even if He wanted her to wait, it would have been a huge help to know how long the wait was going to be. If you’re a planner, like I am, you understand.
Instead, God was silent while my friend prayed… and prayed… and prayed….
What’s wrong with this ad?
No, it’s not the places they’ve chosen. True, these are not “frontier missions” trips—the gospel is already available in all those places. It would be difficult for a short-term missionary to accomplish much if they were pioneering a new work. Still, we are never done with evangelization, not until Jesus returns. Missionaries work in all those countries, and I’m sure they could use some help.
No, it’s not the “low budget” cost of the trip. That’s wonderful. It not only makes a cross-cultural mission experience accessible to more people, it frees resources to be used in-country.
Ah, yes. It’s the “fully planned.”