I am still reading over my notes from the Deeper Still conference this past weekend and wanted to share a few highlights with you. There was so much to digest. I am always amazed at how much there is to learn about God through His Word. I have been actively pursuing Him through in-depth Bible study for at least 10 years now, and I feel like I have just scratched the surface. I made a commitment this past weekend to go "deeper still" in my walk with Him...to daily read His Word...to pray....to actively pursue Him so that my roots will be strong.
Kay Arthur taught on Friday night. She is a 77 year old pistol for God with a strong passion for His Word. A friend of mine sat on the front row and I copied one of her pictures of Mrs. Kay... She kind of looks means in this photo, but she isn't.
She basically taught through the book of Matthew, sharing the gospel message and the urgency to trust in Jesus and be authentic in your walk with Him. An hour and a half flew by in a blink of an eye and I literally took notes the entire time. She started off with some statistics..
There are roughly 310 million people in the United States...(Lori, is this number correct?)
9 out of 10 say that they believe in God. (that shocked me)
75% call themselves "Christians.
If these numbers are true, then why is our culture so immoral?
Could it be that we don't know what true Christianity is?
She gave many examples....professing Christians divorcing their spouses, drinking, smoking, cussing, getting into large amounts of debt, accepting homosexuality saying it is their right, accepting abortion due to the other person's freedom, etc.
What change should Christianity make in our lives?
There should in fact be a change.
I am Southern Baptist and we always get the bad rap of being legalistic, following outward rules, etc. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I think Christianity should make you different from the lost world. There should be a stark contrast to your life before Christ and your life after Christ because you are a new creation in Christ. And it is more than the outward things, but inward issues of the heart as well. I don't struggle with any of those outward issues listed above, but I am definitely a work in progress when it comes to the inner issues. I struggle with contentment, pride,keeping my mouth closed, worry, self-esteem, etc.
I have an example of such a "stark contrast" in my house. My husband, Gene, is such a radically different person today than he was the day I met him over 21 years ago. That change is attributed to Jesus Christ. The day he got saved at age 23, the bondage to alcohol, tobacco, constant cussing, womanizing, etc was GONE. His life was different. He was no longer drawn to the same things. Yes, there were temptations, but he was able to overcome because of the Holy Spirit living within him. I am so thankful that we were not part of a church that thinks drinking is OK because alcohol was a huge weakness for him, and keeping the door open to alcohol would have sucked him back in to a very dark place and would have been a doorway for other sins to enter back into his life. I am thankful that we were taught to lay those things down because we BEAR THE NAME OF CHRIST and we are called to be holy as HE is holy.
I have also watched him devour his Bible. When he was first saved he didn't know where the book of Genesis was and as he prayed for understanding and for a hunger for the Word, God faithfully answered those prayers. Today his love for the Word is immense and knows the book cover to cover. That desire to be in the Word is a fruit of salvation. If you have no desire for the things of God, like reading/studying his Word on a daily basis, you may not be truly saved.
There are too many places in the Bible that talk about true repentance and bearing fruit for the kingdom to think that it is OK to continue in the same lifestyle.
Matthew 3:7-8 talks about the call to "bear fruit in keeping with our repentance"....repentance means that you make a change, you turn away from sin, you start living for the Kingdom of God and stop living for yourself.
Matthew 7:19..."every tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire..."
Matthew 7:20..."Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." I am not called to judge the salvation of another person, but I don't recognize godly fruit in the lives of many people who call themselves believers....which according to Kay is an epidemic in America, especially with my generation.
Phil. 1:27 says that we should walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ and I don't see how getting together with friends while you drink and cuss and smoke your cigarettes is "a manner worthy of Jesus". If that makes me legalistic, then I'm OK with that.
Kay stressed that it is really about "religion vs. relationship". Too many so called Christians just go to church on Sunday or every other Sunday or the occasional Sunday....and that is it. There is really not much else to their faith. They go to church simply because it is a culturally expected thing or to make themselves feel better. They do the God-thing for one morning a week and God is forgotten for the remainder of the week. There is no prayer, no Bible reading, no Bible study, no service, no ministering to other people, no giving, no tithing...you get the idea. That's religion....not relationship.
Jesus is not something that you add to your life as you would add salt to your food. He is not an accessory that you pull out when it is convenient or needed. He IS your life. He IS everything.
America will be held accountable, and Kay believes that is coming soon. Matthew 3:10 says that the axe is laid at the root of the tree that does not bear fruit and she believes that the axe is laid at the root of America. Sobering thought for the future of our country, especially since I have two young children. We will be held accountable for the truth that we have heard and have chosen not to obey. Jesus is coming back and we will be called into account! Christians need to get serious about their faith and be prepared to meet God.
Jesus' message in the book of Matthew is to accept Him and repent...the kingdom of God is at hand.
That message HAS to affect everything I do and every decision I make as a woman, as a wife, and as a mom.
Kay's teaching lined up with two powerful books that I have read and have talked about before... two books that I highly recommend that you read:
1. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
2. Radical by David Platt
Read both of these and be challenged in your faith!
Until next time...