{re}fresh

Month: April, 2012

He Loved Him

by Dawn Aldrich

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Mark 10:21

I love watching children play, communicate, manipulate their world. Everything is so basic, so simple. Their only concerns are food, warmth, and sleep. But, if you only feed them, keep them warm and dry and simply sit them in a corner they’ll complain. Why? Because they still need affection. Feeling loved is a basic need.

Jesus understood this.

In Mark 10:17-31 a rich young man asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”(v17). Jesus reminds him of the commandments and the young man boasts his adherence to them all. And I love this next part. Before Jesus rebuked his religiosity, his greed, his love for things: “Jesus looked at him AND LOVED HIM”  (v 21). Wow! Jesus addressed the heart issue, this man’s need to know he was loved, before he gave him the hard truth: “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

It’s the same with our children, isn’t it? Before we rebuke their behavior or their heart issues, don’t they look at us as if to say, “Do you love me?” Do our children cry when being corrected because they don’t want to be wrong or because they think they’ve fallen out of our good graces and our love? A little of both, I think. But, from my experience, children can accept their need for change as long as they’re assured we love them regardless of their faults.

How true that is for us and our adult relationships. We all fail at righteousness. No one is perfect. We’re always in need of change. We all need accountability for wrong behavior especially if we claim to follow Christ. But, how fast are we to speak without pausing, looking our brother or sister in the eye and LOVING THEM? How many times do we speak discouragement or rejection to one another before we stop and love one another as Jesus loved this man? Did Jesus’ love for this man stop him from pointing out the problem with his faith? No. The truth must always be brought into the light, but Jesus’ love for this man was forefront in his mind before he delivered words of truth.

As to changing our behavior? That’s not up to man to try to accomplish in himself or in his brother. Verse 27 Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Is Jesus saying we shouldn’t strive to change or we don’t need to change? No. He’s saying it’s a heart issue. It’s impossible to change any sinful behavior within our own power. It’s more about how much we let God’s love and Holy Spirit work in our hearts and lives.

 

Understanding your God given callings

by mandyade

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

William Wilberforce, the great abolitionist, struggled with his calling. He had the passion and the heart of a preacher but he also burned to see slavery abolished. He didn’t know if God was calling him to preach or to pursue a career as a lawyer.

God had to equip this man with the heart of a fiery preacher and all of the conviction and passion that goes with that in order for him to stand before men and demons to abolish slavery.

Wilberforce couldn’t always understand this fire that God had put inside of him and how he should direct it. The seemingly obvious answer would be for him to be a preacher, but this ‘heart of fire’ placed in his DNA was to equip him for his call to abolish slavery. A trusted friend offered this advice:  pursue his passion as a lawyer and an abolitionist. William went on to be a mighty tool in God’s hand to fulfill God’s call and help abolish slavery in England.

We often struggle over knowing exactly to what God has called us. God knows you and your assignment more than you do. When God knit you together in your mother’s womb, He created a unique set of callings for your life. Psalm 139 speaks of God to this.

God places our callings in our DNA like seed. Every person God creates has unique assignment seeds placed in their lives before they are born. Many will never know they are there. These seed callings lie dormant until they are accessed by our faith.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, nearly threw his calling away telling Jesus to depart from Him when he realized how insignificant he was in comparison to the powerful call of God on his life. Jesus responded by prophesying over Peter, telling him that he was called to catch men (Luke 5:7-9).

Peter didn’t recognize the powerful call on his life because he was so aware of his past failings. Like Peter, our limitations chain us down because we often don’t realize the callings encoded on our genetics. We must believe God and His call on our life are bigger than us.

Wilberforce and Peter didn’t always understand their great callings but, as they recklessly followed their God and their passions (even though they were unusual for the day), they were led by God’s unseen hand to fulfill the unique call over their lives.

As you follow the Author of your faith and the passion He has put inside you, you will live your call!

www.mandyadendorff.com

The Goal Is Shalom

by Mike McKinniss

As a product of the West in the late 20th century, I don’t like talking about sin in the way that traditional evangelical churches like to talk about sin.  I bristled when in a seminary evangelism class it was seen as imperative to make one aware of her sin before she could be saved.  Like holding a drowning swimmer under water before throwing a life-preserver, we had to be sure to pound her with her own shortcomings before we could offer any help.

I was excited, then, when I came across this fresh interpretation of “sin” over at Storied Theology.  Does it make sense to conceive of sin, primarily, as those actions which do not contribute to rebuilding or potentially strip the world of shalom (that is, the fullness of life and peace and wholeness)?  I don’t think that this detracts from the more common understanding, that sinful actions are those that miss the mark of God’s will, whatever that may be in a particular instance.  But instead of having to rack your brain attempting to decipher God’s will (the bane of every Christian college student), you simply can ask, Does this action forward the Lord’s plan to restore peace?

Immediately upon seeing this new thought, I began thinking backwards.  Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, calls his own work the “ministry of reconciliation.”  In other words, Paul was announcing and implementing a new peace agreement.  He thought himself to be informing the world of the Christ’s work in reconstructing a state of shalom between the Creator and humanity (not to mention among all creation  itself).

Indeed, Paul, as well as other biblical authors, foresaw an end in which all of creation, including the natural world, would rejoice in the finished work of the Messiah.  Romans 8:20-22 describes a natural order that has been in a frustrated state since the initial shalom-breaking committed by Adam.  Isaiah, long before Paul, anticipated a similar restoration of creation (55:12-13).  And Revelation depicts a new creation that supplants all disorder (1:1ff; in biblical terms, a world without a sea is a world without chaos).

An all-encompassing peace was shattered.  This same pervasive peace is being reestablished in Christ.  The question for me is, then, How can I get behind that?

Choosing Joy

by Julie

I woke up before my alarm went off and clearly heard God tell me to read Psalm 118:24. I was a bit annoyed that he woke me before the alarm, so I tried to tell God that I had a few more minutes to sleep and would happily read that verse after my alarm went off. He persisted, so I reached for my Bible instead.

This is the day that the LORD has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.” How funny! God gave a scripture about rejoicing to my cranky, morning self. I just love His sense of humor. I instantly snapped out of cranky and into joyful and expectant for what the day would bring. What an encouraging start to the day.  Having joy made everything so pleasant, so fresh, and so new. That was a big light bulb moment.

Later, when some unexpected and difficult news came my way, I couldn’t help but smile through the tears. It was still the day that the Lord had made and those circumstances didn’t change that fact. I knew in that moment I was given the strategy to approach the situation ahead of time. You see, we not only have the option, but the privilege to respond in joy. How freeing. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read that part of God’s will for us in Christ Jesus is to rejoice always.

I learned a few things that day: first, when God is telling us something, it’s best to just be obedient and listen. He has so many good things He wants to tell us. Second, when God speaks to us sometimes it’s to bring light to dark places. Joy was the light I needed in that particular season of my life. Finally, I learned how to approach each day and how to respond to any given situation. We should be waking up joyful because it is the day that the LORD has made. No matter the circumstance, we can find our joy in the Lord! In fact, in the New Living Translation of scripture James 1:2 tells us that even our troubles are opportunities for great joy.

My prayer is that  joy would be a major part of our lives. I pray we would  know and experience the joy that comes from being in relationship with such a wonderful Father. Even if the day doesn’t turn out like we planned, we get to choose joy. The truth is He is still good and we get to experience each day with Him-the source of all of our joy.

His joy is contagious and a sure sign of His work in our lives. Let’s live in a way that those around us would experience the joy of the Lord and choose it for themselves.

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