Friday, July 30, 2010

Must Reads

I want to recommend two powerfully convicting books for the Christians out there. These are must reads for ever single believer. It doesn't matter if you are 15 or 85. If you are a believer, it is quite possible that you are falling short of what true Christianity should look like. I have discovered that I am falling way short.

The first book is called Radical by David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.
The second book is called Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Both of these books are basically talking about the same thing...that the average believer does not live a radical life for Jesus. We don't love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, even if we say that we do. Our lives don't look that much different from an unbeliever's life. We live most days without really thinking about God, without truly consulting Him about every decision. We live most days without doing anything that requires true faith, yet He calls us to walk by faith minute by minute. We don't give extravagantly, love loudly, reach out to the poor, the widow, or the orphan, or share our faith regularly. We pick and choose what parts of scripture we would like to obey, disregarding much of the Bible, saying that it doesn't apply to today. We live very lukewarm lives and we are OK with that. We cannot even go to church faithfully.
I have ready Crazy Love about 6 times since the spring and I have read Radical once. Radical stung a bit more and I haven't read it again. Just looking at the cover makes me want to pray. I have been completely disgusted with myself. I have cried and I have confessed sin in my life....the sin of not putting Jesus above all things. I desperately want to make changes, and quite frankly, I am not all that sure where to start. It is hard to break out of the comfortable box that I am living in...this comfortable box of the American culture. I truly don't want my life to look like everybody else's life. I would love for people to look at me in my casket and say, "Now she loved Jesus. He was everything to her." If I died today, that would not happen. My happiness is too dependant on other things and it changes based on the events of the day.
Gene and I have had lots of discussions about the material that we have read and we are both feeling the exact same way. We have been comparing ourselves for too long to Christians around us, rather than comparing ourselves to Jesus and the commands of the Bible.
These books have helped me to see that the Christian church is asleep. We are like a sleeping giant who has accepted the status quo. I want to wake up and impact the kingdom. How am I going to do that.....I have NO IDEA!
Here are just a few things that have convicted me the most...
*I am not actively sharing the gospel....a clear command to every single believer. I do share my testimony and the gospel with people who come to my church and certainly people who are in our ministry. But, those people come to me. What about the command to "go to them"? I have casually turned my back on that one. I can't remember the last time I shared my faith with a complete stranger in Wal-Mart, at the gas station, in the mall, etc. I don't look for those opportunities and I am serving in ministry with my husband.
*I am not actively involved with the poor, widows, or orphans, another clear command in scripture. Will Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," if I have chosen to ignore a command repeated over and over and over again in the gospels? I don't think so. Sure, I give during Thanksgiving and Christmas time, I write a check every single month to help feed the hungry, and I give to special events that we sponsor as a church...but is this really enough? I used to think it was enough, but now I am not so sure. I think I should be involved in a very hands-on way, ministering to those who are less fortunate than me, face-to-face. In those face-to-face moments I can share my faith and the reason that I am giving. That is a little different than just writing a check and sending it through the mail.
*I have also been choosy with some of the other commands in scripture, like the one in Philippians 4:6 that says "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." If you know me well, you know I worry. I worry to the point where my chest hurts and I can easily make myself sick. I don't take risks because of the what-ifs that might happen. Every time I worry, I am telling God that I don't trust Him.
Unfortunately, there are many more examples that I could share with you. I will spare you the disgusting details.
Jesus Christ died on a cross shedding His blood so I could be completely forgiven and free. When I asked Him into my heart and accepted Him as my Savior and my Lord, I said that I would commit my life to Him, not parts of my life, but every single aspect of it.
God is at work in me and I am so thankful. I need a personal revival. I have for a long time.
I want to encourage you to read these books, starting with Crazy Love. I think many "Christians" will discover that they aren't truly saved because their lives have never been transformed and they are unable to turn their back on their sin. They will also discover that church attendance is the VERY LEAST that we can do, and for many that is all they do for God all week long and they don't think about Him until the next Saturday night when they try to decide if they will go the next morning.
This isn't exactly a very upbeat blog post, but these books have been so convicting to me. I think everyone who calls themselves a Christian should examine themselves and see if they are really "in Christ".
I have been asked to lead a women's retreat in November and after a week of praying about it, I cannot get a peace about not doing it. I have thought about it each and every day. I don't really want to do it because I am not a great public speaker. I can facilitate a Bible study and I am comfortable doing that, but going in to another church as a "guest speaker" and standing on a stage is a whole different ball of wax. I had been praying for opportunities to grow as a believer, to do something that is a risk, and to reach out with these convicting messages that have been on my mind and heart for months. I guess God is answering my requests, even though I meant for Him to give me the opportunity to minister to a needy family in my community, or something like that.
I would appreciate your prayers for me. Pray that God would give me a boldness that I don't normally have, that I would effectively share the message that is on my heart in 3 concise sessions, and that lives would be changed, including mine.....and maybe that I don't throw up on the stage....not that I am "worried" about doing that, because that would be sinful.
Until next time...

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