Friday, May 3, 2019

The Gospel

 black Bible on gray surface
In the last few weeks I've listened to several Paul Washer sermons. I watched the documentary "American Gospel" (review coming in the next few weeks) and learned about the false gospels that are out there.

And as I listen to Paul Washer, I wonder: Is he right?

Is he right that the mainstream American church has the gospel all wrong? Are many people in America missing the true gospel?

As I thought about what he had said, I realized he is right. And so, rather than trying to explain what Mr. Washer said, I'm going to take this blog post and try to answer this question: What is the gospel?

The gospel begins with a person. Or, rather, a being. God. God, who existed eternally before creation and will exist eternally into the future. He has no beginning and will have no end. God, who is incomprehensible. God who we cannot understand. God who is big, and powerful. So powerful he could create the world by merely speaking. God, who is holy, righteous, set apart. God, who has no evil in him. God who is good to the core. God, who has never done any bad thing ever. God, who is so much higher than us, so much greater than us, that when we think about him properly, we should feel like dust.
 Image result for god is holy

Enter the next character in this great story: Us. Mankind. You and me. The human race. Sinful, unrighteous, filthy, evil to the core, limited, small, weak. Sinful. Let me emphasize this: SINFUL. FILTHY. DIRTY TO THE CORE. EVIL. Not one of us is righteous. Not even a tiny little piece of us. Nothing good can ever come from us. NOTHING GOOD. We are so horribly evil, sinful, disobedient...we turned our backs against our creator.

So here is the conflict: GOD, is infinitely righteous, perfect, good, and holy. MAN is evil as evil as evil could possibly be. We are separated as far from God as we could ever get. Polar opposites.
Image result for all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags
God is also just. Because he is holy and we are not, he is just and righteous to destroy us completely. To punish us. It's what we deserve for the greatest act of treason to ever be committed. We deserve death. God would be completely just and fair and righteous to give us exactly what we deserve. Our wages for our sin and evil is DEATH.

Until you understand what I just wrote, the rest of the story will not seem amazing. So read it again.

But you have to understand something else about God. God is LOVE. Not that God is just loving, or that he can love, but is very nature is LOVE. He loves us. Why? Not because we are righteous and deserving. Not because we loved him first. He loved us when we were evil to the core. Nothing about us was good. We could never do anything good our own and we didn't (and we never could) love him first. We had our backs to him, our hands over our ears, ignoring God and destroying our lives. We were pitiful, evil, death and hell doomed creatures. But God loved us. He desired to have a relationship with us. He wanted to show his mercy and his grace and his forgiveness. And so he set into motion a great rescue story so that he could put all of his attributes fully on display.
Image result for love grace mercy
Because God is love, he sent his only son to earth. Jesus lived the perfect, sinless, holy, fully righteous, never disobedient life that we could never live. He was 100% man AND 100% God...something we can never fathom. Another part of our incomprehensible God. Jesus was God in the flesh. He walked on earth, was tempted as we are tempted, felt pain, sadness, death of friends, joy, love....but he felt all of those things without sinning once.

But God didn't stop there. Remember, for our treason against the Most High God we deserve death. So Jesus took that punishment. He died on a cross, bearing the full weight of the wrath of God against mankind. Why? So that you and I don't have to. He paid the price once and for all.
Image result for all i have is christ video
His sacrifice was enough. 

So what do we have to do? Many will tell you that you have to work to repay Jesus for his sacrifice. But that is NOT what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that salvation from sin is a free gift from God the Father. You receive this gracious gift by accepting it by faith. Believe. And then Repent. Turn away from your sins. This is a daily, moment-by-moment choice to choose God's ways over the world's ways. Repent. Confess that he is your Lord. Make Jesus your Lord, accept him as your savior, repent and follow him for the rest of your life. You don't have to do good works. You can't do good works! But one day, when you stand before the throne of God, if you have believed in Jesus, God will not see your filthiness. He will see the righteousness of Jesus. "That one's mine," Jesus will say. And you will be able to spend eternity with God...not because you are holy, but because Jesus is holy.
To read my post talking about what it means to wear Christ's
righteousness, click here.

This is the greatest story.

This is what the Bible teaches. So I'd say Paul Washer is right. The mainstream American Church often has it wrong. Because all too often, you will hear a gospel preached that is not the gospel told in the Bible. I thank God for the leaders at my church who are committed to preaching God's word accurately. I pray that they continue to be committed to truth no matter what.

And I pray that you, reader, will enter God's family, today, by faith. 
Image result for prayer

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What I've Learned About Open Doors

Photo by Claudel Rheault on Unsplash

My how time has flown by!

I just searched through my email inbox and facebook feed and discovered that one year ago, I was in the middle of fundraising for my trip to Tanzania. By the end of March I was at 56% of my goal. I was buying clothes, getting information about vaccines, picking flights, talking with my team over email and skype....I was in the heat of preparing for a trip that turned out to be quite possibly the most amazing 7 weeks of my life so far.

It was a whirlwind. God provided along every step of the way. He provided the funds faster than I ever imagined was possible....but with God, all things are possible, right? He provided clothes that fit, answers to questions, and information I didn't even know was necessary. Ultimately, he granted me peace that this was the right choice for my summer. It was amazing.

I was thinking about that provision, and how fast everything moved, because it happened again this year.

In January, two days after I turned 18, I went to Chick-fil-a to follow up on a job application I had turned in online. I had already followed up on an application elsewhere, and I expected this to be the same way: "I'll tell the manager you stopped by."

Well. Instead, I got there and spoke to a manager, who told me that they were holding group interviews later that day and I was welcome to stick around until then. Say what? So, I did. And although my brother will inform you that I spaced out and missed the first round of interviews even though I was sitting right there (which is true, to my shame), I got an interview.

That was Monday afternoon, around 4 pm. The manager told me that the next thing would be a second interview and that if they wanted me to come back for that interview, they would text me by the next day. I got that text around 5:30 pm while I was at the gym.

On Wednesday I went back to the store and was interviewed a second time. Immediately following that interview, the manager hired me. The following Tuesday I had orientation. Thursday I had to go back and fill out another form that was missed. Then it was a little bit of waiting, and a week later, on February 7, I had my first training shift. Then my second on Tuesday and my third on Friday. The following week I worked my first real shift. I've now worked five weeks, anywhere between five and fifteen hours, and I love it.

Less than a month after going in to follow up on an application, I was employed and working hard. God provides, once again, and he does so at lightning speed. I never expected this process to move that fast.

Sound similar to my story from last year about my trip to Tanzania? I think so. So what am I supposed to take away from this similarity?

Last year, as things were ramping up and my support was coming in quickly, I turned to my mom and said, "God must really want me in Tanzania this summer, because it appears that the door is wide open." The next thing to be said was, "What does he want to teach me, or what does he want me to do this summer?" He taught me a lot. I did a lot. I met new people, and I can only hope that they saw the light of Jesus shining through me and that they were impacted for eternity. I know the trip impacted me in amazing ways.

So as I come to this new job, I ask the same thing. By all human reckoning, I shouldn't have this job. But God is so amazing that he makes impossible things possible. And he must have a purpose, because he always does. So I ask, "God must really want me to be here because he made the way so smooth for me to get a job. What does he want me to do and what does he want to teach me while I'm working at Chick-fil-a?" I'm not naive...just because Chick-fil-a is a Christian owned company and closed on Sundays does not mean that every employee is a believer in Jesus Christ. Neither are all the customers believers in Christ. And although all the employees are supposed to be cheerful, respectful, kind, and helpful to one another, managers, and customers, a believer will stand out because they will be respectful and cheerful and kind beyond "my pleasure." In times of high stress, it will be the believers who will stand out as those who are calm and still cheerful, even under pressure. I think that what God wants me to do at Chick-fil-a is be a light...both to my co-workers and to the customers.

And as far as lessons to learn? I'm thinking I must have a ways to go in developing a servants heart, because I've had to take out the trash several times and clean the bathrooms a couple times. I've cleaned the tables over and over and over...and I need to learn how to do it well, to God's glory, and without complaining...even in my head. Is cleaning tables for an entire shift fun? No. Is it hard? It can be. Can I do it to HIS glory? Absolutely. I pray every day as I drive across town to work, "Lord, help me to live for you, to shine brightly in my workplace, and to honor you."

Couple all of that with the sermon series our church is going through right now. Our pastor is preaching about discipleship-what it means to GO and preach the gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). GOING doesn't have to be overseas for 7 weeks like I did last summer. Going could be reaching out to neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Our mission as believers is to preach the good news (and live it) to those around us, wherever we are. I'm supposed to be a light to all who come across my path. This is the purpose God has for me wherever I am...Tanzania, community college, Chick-fil-a, the grocery store, the gym....

Well, that was a lot of rambling. In summary, it is my prayer that God will use me in the job he has given me to shine brightly for him. If you come into Chick-fil-a while I'm working, it is my prayer that you will see Jesus in my actions, words, and attitude...whether I clean the bathroom, take your order, clean tables, or mop up a milkshake spill. If you take the class with me at the gym, I pray that you see Jesus in my attitude. Whatever college God opens the door for, may my fellow students and our professors see Jesus in the way I diligently do the work. I pray that even as you read my blog you would see him in every word I type.

 Every time I see an open door, I know God has me there for a purpose: to shine brightly for Him.

 Let them see you in me, Lord. Let them see you.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring Aesthetic

Hi everyone!
Well, the sun has finally poked through the clouds this week for us! We hit mid sixties on Tuesday, and the weather has been lovely all week (except for the wind...). Plus, we have a whole swarm of butterflies migrating through our area....lets just say that it looks and feels like Spring and I am SO EXCITED!

I've been working on a Spring pintrest board for a couple months now (I absolutely LOVE spring!), so today I thought I'd share a few images from it. There will be a link to view my whole board at the end of the post, PLUS a link to view one of my newest additions to my etsy shop...but more on that later.

So, although it's not actually Spring for another week....

You can view more pictures on my Spring pintrest board by clicking RIGHT HERE. 

And now, as promised, a peek at my newest Etsy shop addition! In January I opened my Etsy shop, Grace And Peace Studios, and so far I've made two sales! Hoorary! :) Well, this week I added three items to my home decor section. Here is one of them, a really cute Spring wreath made from an embroidery hoop. Get yours in time to welcome Spring with me! It only costs $10 and is handmade, just like the rest of the items in my shop. There are two possible color schemes for the wreath (pastel is shown). 

Hope you are having a wonderful day! :)