Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love: A Perception

Here are two articles: The first is in honor of Down Syndrome awareness month. It is the story of 6 amazing Down Syndrome people who are changing the world's perceptions of Down Syndrome. The second is about a very poor village where there was a slum built on a landfill. The people discovered a violin in the trash and were inspired to build instruments out of trash. Music has changed the lives of these people.

These stories are touching and inspiring, but for me they raise some unsettling questions about our natural perceptions of people. These people are being noticed because they are stand-outs. They are being commended and lauded for their abilities or their beauty or their gifts. But what about those people who aren't amazing? What about those people who aren't beautiful? What about those poor people who can't make instruments out of trash? What if these Down Syndrome people didn't amaze or inspire anyone? What would I do? Probably overlook them… 

It is not how amazing a person is or how beautiful a person is that imparts their worth. Their Creator gave them their worth. They were made in the image of God. Even the most ugly and unloveable among us. We do not have the right to abort a child… No matter who that child is or becomes. We have an obligation to look after the poor and the weak and the forgotten. Even if they can give us nothing in return. Even if they are not lovely. Whatever or whoever they are, we are called to love them.

All of the law and the prophets, Jesus said, is summed up in this: Love God and love people. That is the single most difficult thing in the universe to honestly and genuinely do!! I know it is for me. I am naturally very selfish. I tend to ask what people can do for me. If they can't do anything for me, I tend to overlook them.

Which brings me to my last article. This really challenged me and I hope and pray it challenges you, too. A disabled child--even a severely disabled child such as one with anencephaly--is still a child. And carrying a child to term--even a child who is sure to die shortly after birth--is an act of hospitality and love towards a very weak and dependent neighbor.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Glad in God: How Jesus is Reason enough to be eternally happy

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. - Philippians 4:4, KJV
We read this verse.  We sing the song... Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I say Rejoice! ...  But it is more often true than not that we read it and sing it with the conviction that we are not rejoicing in the Lord rather than with the assurance that we are.

What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?

The Greek word for rejoice is "chairo".  It means to rejoice exceedingly, to be joyful or glad, or to be well or thrive.

To rejoice in the Lord means to have joy and gladness and wellness in God.  To find our satisfaction not in the things of this world--even the good things--but in God Himself.  Our external circumstances may change, but God never changes; therefore, if our joy is in Him, then our joy shall be unshakeable, for it is in the One who cannot be shaken.

I must confess that for awhile now I have not been rejoicing in the Lord.  I have been rejoicing in other things--particularly myself; when I wasn't doing well, I had no joy, because my joy was in me and I am a changeable, unfaithful sinner.  I doomed myself to joylessness when I made myself and not God the object of my joy; I can never be the source of that full, unshakeable joy that can only be found in God; if I could, I would be God, and I am not.  So to make myself the source of my joy was a subtle form of idolatry--worshiping another god.  The first commandment is that we shall have no other gods--only the One True God.  Making anything other than God the source of your joy--as only He is meant to be that source--is to have another god.

I hope you will ask me: Well what about now?  Do you have joy in God?

Ah!  By His sweet mercy and grace, yes I do!

How did you come by this joy?

By contemplating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You mean the fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago and bore the penalty for my sins?

Yes, that; and everything that means for you and me, who are in Christ and "accepted in the Beloved"!

Please explain, sister; I want that joy, too.

Gladly!  Last night my college pastor asked us a simple question: Does God love everyone unconditionally?  It was a difficult question to answer.  We know that God loves everyone because Scripture testifies to that fact.  John 3:16 says that "God so loved the world..."  It seems pretty clear that means everyone.  But how does He love the world?  "...that He gave His Only Son..."  Through Jesus! There is a condition: That you forsake your sins and come to Christ; then God will gladly receive you.  It's because of Jesus that God can love us!  Apart from Christ, we can only receive the fierce wrath, the holy hatred of God.

Christian!  Does that not make Jesus Christ very dear and precious to you?  It is because of Him that God can love you!  It is because of Him that God can accept you and treat you like His child!  It's all because of Christ!  Realizing that gave me great joy!!  And I pray it gives you great joy, too!

Oh contemplate all that Christ is to us and for us, and be happy in God, dear sisters!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Raising the Bar: Being pure in an impure world

This past Sunday night I heard a very encouraging sermon about re-thinking sexuality based on what the Bible says about it and not what our culture (even the contemporary Christian culture) says about it. God has very high standards, and He expects His people, called by His name, to uphold those standards and live by those standards.  Not in our own strength, but in His own strength.

Since hearing that sermon, however, I have been horrified to discover not only the impurity around me, but the depth of impurity of my own heart.  What's probably more horrifying than discovering the impurity around me and in me, though, is that I'm not always as horrified at it as I ought to be.  It's as if I've grown to accept it--I'll never be pure; the world will never be pure; why fight it?  That's truly horrifying!

Christ died so that He might present His Church--His Bride--holy and without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-27).  He died to sanctify us!  And the Bible also says that we are to live pure and blameless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15).  We aren't only looking forward to our eventual glorification, but we are to be holy lights amidst the darkness of this present world!  If we just lie down and die, the light of the Gospel in this world is snuffed out!!

So, what do we do when we've raised the bar on purity to be what the Bible says and not what people say?  When we're presented with our own depravity as well as the wickedness of the world around us? Do we throw up our hands and say it's hopeless?  No!  Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1)!

Let the darkness within and the darkness without, then, drive you to your knees in prayer, struggling against sin!  Let it break your heart!  Be penitent over your own sin, pleading with God for deliverance, and then go to Him on behalf of others.  Ask Him for mercy and grace--that He might change the world, and make you a holy vessel so that He might use you to do so (2 Timothy 2:21).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing with Loneliness

This post is about dealing with loneliness, dear single friend, because let's just face reality; some days you'll feel lonely; you're human.  What can you do in that hour?  What does God expect you to do?

Well, God expects you to call on Him in prayer.  Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me, He says. (Psalm 50:15)

Now, that doesn't mean He necessarily has a mate lined up for you just around the corner.  But it does mean that He will deliver you out of your trouble.

Here are some ways God uses our loneliness for our good and His glory:

  1. It Brings Us to Our Knees.  It humbles us.  Loneliness makes us run to the Lord in prayer, crying out to Him for deliverance.
  2. It Makes Us Sympathetic.  Loneliness is pain, and pain to a Christian has many sanctifying effects.  It can make us sympathetic to others who are experiencing the same pain so we can minister the love of God to them.
  3. It Lets Us Share in Christ's Sufferings.  Jesus was lonely.  Most of His friends and followers forsook Him and fled.  Even God the Father had to forsake Him, because Christ became sin on our behalf.  Jesus experienced a loneliness that you will never have to experience, dear Christian.  And He experienced it on your behalf.  Thank Him and praise Him for that.
  4. It Reminds Us of the Pains of Hell.  Loneliness, just like any pain, should remind us of the plight of the lost.  Their eternal destiny.  And it should make us weep that they are Hell-bound.  It should make us go to our knees in prayer for them and give us renewed resolve to share the ever-blessed Gospel with them.
Loneliness can be a boon to your soul.  Let it have its perfect work and conform you to the image of Christ.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Context of John 3:16

This is something I posted on my Facebook profile recently. Just something I've been thinking about. I pray it's a blessing.
I was thinking about the context of John 3:16. Jesus is telling Nicodemus of how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (see Numbers 21) and comparing Himself to that bronze serpent, which if the people looked upon they were healed. 
Why did the people need healing? Because they had sinned against God and God had sent serpents among them to bite them and to slay them. The people were under God's judgement, but as an expression of mercy God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and caused that anyone who looked upon that serpent would be healed.

What did it mean for an Israelite, bitten by a serpent, to look upon that bronze serpent? It meant acknowledging that he or she had sinned against God and that he or she needed the mercy of God in order to be healed. It meant BELIEVING that looking upon that serpent would be efficacious in their healing.

In the same way, JESUS was lifted up because we have sinned and are under the judgement of God. We are all bitten by the serpent. We are all slowly perishing. But one look at Jesus, believing that He is efficacious to take away the poison and save us from death, and we too will be healed. We too shall be saved.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Much love to you all!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to Have a Very Happy Valentines Day! =)

Happy (Saint) Valentine's Day!

Original image by Sadie Daniels
I don't ascribe to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church about the canonization of saints or the observance of feast days, but for what it's worth, I'll wish my fellow sisters- and brothers-in-Christ a Happy Valentines Day.

Without knowing the history behind St Valentine's Day, we all pretty much know what it's become. It's become a day to celebrate "love" ... that special someone in your life.

For those of us who are single, it can present a trial and a difficulty. How can I be happy on Valentine's Day?! Especially when all my friends and family have dates and I am once again...alone...?

Don't despair, dear friend! =) We have One Who sympathizes with our weaknesses... remember? Let's go to Him in prayer...every day, but especially today.

My challenge to all you single Christians out there is to PRAY today!

Here are some things I'd like you to take to God in prayer:

  1. Your singleness. Ask the Lord for joy and contentment in His will for you.
  2. Your future spouse. Not asking the Lord for a husband or wife, but praying for that person...that they'd be content, that they'd be patient, that they'd have joy in Christ, and that they'd be busy about and zealous for the Lord's work.
  3. For other single believers. Pray that they would have joy in Christ and delight to do His will.
  4. For those you have had relationships with in the past that did not work out. Pray against and confess any and all bitterness and resentment. Pray for that person. For their growth in the faith and that they would know and love God. Pray for their future spouse.
  5. For the lost. Those who do not know the love of God as you do.
  6. Last, but absolutely not least...exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Say, "Lord, even as I pray for my future spouse, even so, Lord, Your will be done." Confess your love for Him. Spend time thanking Him for all He has done for you; for His love for you. Thank the Father for the Son and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank Him that you are adopted as a son of God. Thank Him that you know that same Love that brought salvation to the world and that you will spend all eternity with Him!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"The God to Whom I belong"

...the God to whom I belong... - Acts 27:23, NKJV
The Apostle Paul was able to say that he belonged to God.  That is, God owned him; he was His property.  In his epistles, he would often refer to himself as a "prisoner" or say that he was "bound".  He would use terms like "slave" to refer to himself and other believers.  Remember in First Corinthians when he says that we were bought with a price and we are not our own?  The Apostle Paul realized that Christ purchased him at the cross, and He therefore had rights to do with him as He saw fit.

Do we have this same attitude?  Do I?

I am no less a "purchased possession" than the Apostle Paul, if I am truly a believer in Jesus Christ.  I, too, was purchased at the cross.  There was a transaction--a price paid.  Now Jesus has exclusive rights to me.  He gets to call the shots.  I, however, can choose to resist His claim to authority over every aspect of my life (thereby incurring His discipline)--or I can submit in humility to my Savior, Creator, Lord, and Master.

Which will I choose?  Which will you?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Leave All...And Follow

I have been considering lately the question of whether I have left everything to follow Jesus.

It's an important question.  We are all called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.  We are all called to love Him more than the world, more than those dearest to us, and more than our own lives.  But how far have we been tested?

Single Christian, if God called you to leave friends and family (or the hope of family) and go to the mission field, would you?

If God took away your wealth, your health, and your prosperity, would you still love Him?

If you were staring down the barrel of a gun and you had to choose...renounce Christ or die...what would you do?

How much am I willing to give for Christ?  Will I give it all for Jesus--the One Who gave it all for me?

If you're like me, you're thinking...I can't!  As desperately as I want to, there is no way I am strong enough or pious enough to be able to give it all for Jesus--to give Him everything He deserves.  I cannot do it!

So, what do we do?  What do we say?  It's impossible, so God can't possibly expect it of me?!  No indeed!  Which one of God's commandments is possible for the sinner to carry out?  None of them!  Yet, God commands us to be holy, for He is holy.  He commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength...and our neighbour as ourself.  But we can't!  We can't do it!


Just as salvation is a supernatural work of God, so is sanctification.  By God's grace, we aren't unwilling participants (He works in us to will and to do His good pleasure), but we are powerless in ourselves.  He alone has the power!

With men it is impossible, but not with God.  With God, all things are possible.

Apart from [Christ, we] can do nothing!

But with Christ...I can do all things, for He strengthens me!

Father, I know that there is nothing good in my flesh.  I know that there is no strength in myself to carry out Your will.  I also know that there is all strength in You.  You never tire, nor do You grow weary.  With You, all things are possible!  You who are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine!  Lord, do a mighty work in us, that we--in the power of Your Holy Spirit--may have the courage to give Christ everything that He deserves!  For He is worthy of it all and so much more!  Allow us to abide in Him and so bear much fruit for Your glory!  Amen.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Greater Gift?: a poem

What greater gift could the Father give than what He gave to us--
That Jesus Christ, His only Son, should bleed and die for us?

For blameless, spotless, innocent, He--the Lamb of God--was slain,
Taking upon Himself our sin--bearing all our guilt and shame.

O that He who knew no sin should become sin for me;
That He should bear the wrath of God and hang condemned upon a tree;

Tell me, what greater gift could Love give than what Calvary's Cross describes?
O that I may know its depths--this Love--and in this grace abide.

Yet I shall spend all of time and still, after eternities at His side,
Never shall I know the fullness of this gift--this Love--this sacrifice
Nor shall I begin to comprehend His matchless price.

Sadie Daniels, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Humility, Dessert & The Gospel

Humility.  It's something I need more of.  Without humility I can't pray; I can't read my Bible in a submissive spirit; I can't love people as I ought because I can't put them before myself.  Without humility I can't live the Christian life.  Jesus said that unless we enter the kingdom of God as little children (that is, with humility) then we will by no means enter it (Matthew 18:3,4).

I don't have much humility, but God is always working to build humility in me.  He often uses the mundane (what better way) to do it, too.

Today I wanted to make a dessert to take to my college group.  (If any of them are reading this, they'll be saying What dessert?  Well, that's kind of the point of my story.  haha.)  I got out our Hershey's cocoa powder and there were recipes on the container.  I thought I can't bake anything--I don't have eggs.  But there was a recipe for a no-bake treat.  I thought Great!  Let's do it!

So I went to making those little chocolate-covered oat chews (or whatever they're called).  Except that I didn't know that's what I was making.  I didn't have any oats, so I thought I'd just make the chocolate part.  In my mind, I was seeing the chocolate holding together to make little chewy candies.  No way!  There was nothing I could do to make that chocolate hold together.  What I got was a kind of frosting...but nothing to put it on.  And what was worse...I'd laid it out on a cookie sheet (on wax paper) so to get it into a bowl was near impossible (plus it had cooled to where it was like molasses).  Anyways, it was a mess.  I ended up washing it down the sink.  Fail!

I was rather upset about it.  The recipe used up an entire stick of margarine, 2 cups of milk, and 2 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter.  My family isn't exactly poor, but we can't really afford to waste food like that.  And it was just that--a waste.  I don't like wasting things.  I thought I'd go to the Lord in prayer about it.

While I was praying, I thought of other things I feel I've wasted...time, opportunities, gifts, money, resources...  I've wasted a lot of things.  Do you want to know what's the biggest waste, though?  ME!  Apart from Christ, I'm an absolute waste--a waste of the image of God I was created in; a waste of the gifts that God has generously bestowed in His grace; a waste of a life, really.  There is nothing valuable in me!  If I have any value in the eyes of God, it is because He has chosen to value me apart from anything He can see in me!  And yet, He loves me!  Jesus Christ died to save sinners--wasted lives--just like me!  And He did it in spite of us!  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

Behold...the Gospel.

And you know what happens when God sets His love upon us--in spite of us?  He makes something beautiful--He redeems the waste.

Thank You, God!