Stuffing God in A Box

I remember a couple years ago, some friends and I would meet on a weekly basis and watch an apologetics series by Rick Warren. It was a lot of good stuff, though I barely remember the specifics. But there was one line said by someone on the video that I can’t ever forget.I remember when I heard it, I wanted to start weeping because it was so true, and so convicting.

“Do we really believe everything the Bible says? Because if we did, we would be living our lives very differently.”

It seems like such a simple statement, and it is, but when the Holy Spirit highlights a truth in your life, you can’t go back to what you knew…not peacefully anyways.

I’m new to the whole “missionary” field thing. Though I have to be honest and say that I prefer not to be called a missionary, because I believe that every Christian is a missionary, and should be mission minded. God has placed each and every one of us in jobs, schools, neighborhoods, and areas to be a light of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately a lot of us Christians are more “me” minded than mission minded.

So yea, being new to the overseas missionary field, I know that veterans have seen and experienced things that I have not, will not, or have yet to experience. But I have noticed that a couple veteran missionaries seem drab of life, and/or passion and dreams.

I think we as humans all go through that. As a young child we have dreams, goals, and passions and then as we get older we have to face the reality that we may not be able to attain those dreams or passions we once had…like being an astronaut, or becoming a famous celebrity, or getting married at a young age…and often times we can allow those things to disillusion us, make us bitter, or jade us.

I wonder if that is true in the missionary world. Seeing the need around the world, the few workers available to meet the need, and feeling a large sense of responsibility…if that combination of things can jade us from believing…from having faith in a Savior who is able to turn water into wine, heal the blind, make the lame walk, and raise the dead.

Where has our sense of trusting wonder (faith) in God gone?

Often we can use the excuse…”I was believing God for something, and He didn’t do it.” But where was our hope truly? Where was our heart truly? For our own will to be done, or for our Father’s perfect will to be done?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

How many of us have put our hope in a person, a thing, a circumstance, ourselves, and then when it falls through.. we blame God, and falsely discredit his ability to do ANYTHING…to do the MIRACULOUS.

Often people say “I don’t want to put God in a box..but“… well, my friend, you just did.

The disciple John tells us that there are not enough books in the world that could record all the wonders and miracles Jesus performed, and yet what does Jesus say:

““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. ” John 14:12

So does Jesus mean that ladyboys can be redeemed into men of God? Does He mean that girls can leave the bars, and be transformed in their thinking by God’s word? Does this mean that a trafficker can be held dead in his tracks by an angel of God? Does this mean that we can heal the sick, raise the dead, see the lame walking, and free the captives in Jesus name?

YES.

YES.

YES!

And we can do even MORE in His mighty name.

Call me naive, or crazy, but I’m tired of putting God in a box. I’m tired of letting my own disappointments jade me from my FAITH, JOY, and HOPE in Jesus the Christ, and the abundant life He promises.

I don’t want to just read these scriptures. I want to live them out lest they become mere bedtime or Sunday school stories.

I’m ready to take God at His word, and let Him get the credit for it all. I’m ready to see His Kingdom come, here on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

I don’t want to just sing about a great big God. I want to live life KNOWING He is bigger, and greater. And wait in child-like, expectant faith to see Him be as awesome as He is

***What are some of the things that have jaded you in your faith? What was the cause of that jading? What aspect of your faith do you need a renewed sense of won der?***

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Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

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God is O.K. With the Fact That I’m Not Perfect?

I remember as a little girl, I was quite a character. I was very opinionated, outspoken and bossy (hopefully some of those traits have sudsided..though I doubt very much =)

Despite my strong personality, I remember very distinctly that times when I behaved my worst, or was disappointed, or going through an issue, I was encouraged to just focus on “not showing it because I was a Christian”.

So I started to develop this negative correlation between being real, transparent, or vulnerable and being a Christian. I couldn’t ever show my “weakness”, but instead I had to show that everything was ok, because I was a Christian. I had to put on a front that everything was alright, even though inside I knew it wasn’t.

If I showed people that I was a mess, then it would somehow lessen the goodness of God, or I would be a horrible example of Jesus, or people will think I’m a hypocrite because I’ve messed up once again.

Often times we (including myself) point fingers at the entertainment industry for painting these false images for the world… but I wonder if the same can be true for the majority of American Christianity.

I remember my friend saying “You’re so good, I can never be as good as you.” Meanwhile, they didn’t know the curses going through my head, or that I just had a huge blowout with my dad, because he found out I lied to him. If I ever showed any sign of  my sins then they would think ” Is God real?”, “She’s really not a Christian.” ” God must NOT exist if she’s done those things.”

And I remember thinking in my naive mind “I’m not good…if only they knew…but I want to be a good example for Jesus, so I can’t show how bad I really am.”

Over the past couple of years, that thinking has changed. Instead of trying to put on a front like I’m perfect, and in essence showing people that I don’t need a Savior, I display myself, flaws and all. This way, the world can see that the only good in me is Jesus the Christ, and how desperate of a state I’m in without Him.

That seems like a foreign concept in a world where Christians have the pressure of putting on an “I’m perfect” mask, as if we can do that by our own effort!

We need to be reminded of our naturally born sinful nature, and let others see it, so that Jesus can be given His rightful place as the only Savior and the only Perfection.

Church, the world isn’t looking for a perfect Christian…they are looking for ones that are real… for ones who are transparent. For a person that they can relate to, and say:

“Hey, if Bethsaida is such a wretch, and there is still something different about her…I can have that something different too.”

That “different”truly is only a personal relationship with Jesus.

Does this give me a license to be lawless and use it as an excuse to revel in my sin? No way.

“If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter.” Hebrews 10:26-29 (msg)

But I’m talking to those who have taken the opposite extreme, like I did, and are too proud to let our vulnerabilities and flaws be exposed.

I don’t ever want to be put on a pedestal, or be seen as this “good” person because of anything that God allows me to do in life….because I will fail you. And if we put anyone other than Jesus on a pedestal, then we will be very disappointed.

The desire to help and love others comes strictly from God, and me walking with Him on a daily basis. If I was to ever stop walking with him, you would see something that would resemble the hideousness of Freddy Kruger.

The only one who is to be lifted high is my King. Jesus.

God knows that I’m not perfect, and He loves me still. And He loves me enough to pick me up every time I fail Him, and keep on working in me, making me more like His Son.

Always and forever by His amazing grace alone, can I be made more like Him. I don’t ever want to forget that…and don’t you either =)

This song is a familiar one sung generation after generations, but only recently has it truly defined the cry of my heart.

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida

Fortune Cookie Says: It’s Not About You.

I remember sitting in my good friend Susan’s house years ago, enjoying her grandparents’ finger licking, authentic Chinese cuisine. There were some fortune cookies that her parents purchased, and of course that’s a “go to” item after any Chinese meal. I was never really a fan of the ACTUAL cookie itself (it tastes like what plastic smells like… yes plastic has a smell), I was always more interested in the fun fortune that was revealed after breaking it open.

My friend and I were teachers at an inner city school in Brooklyn, NY. And we got to talking about some of the issues our students were facing on a daily basis… stuff that unfortunately seems like almost every child growing up in the inner city is going through…. the challenges that come with single parenthood, dying relatives, gang-related family members, physical abuse, drug abuse by relatives….

We were discussing how what we do is for them, the extra 5 hours after the school day ends, the trying to understand the root of their unruly behavior, coping with the frustrations of every student being on a different educational level though they are in the same grade, it’s not about us…but really for building them up as successful individuals.

Her boyfriend jokingly said…. what if you opened up that fortune cookie and it said something real like “It’s not about you.” We all started to laugh, and then thought it would be an ingenious idea to start fortunes that told hard truths when a person opened it up, instead of something like  “a willow bird will sing you a happy song today.”

Well.. I think he was on to something. All these years later I can’t stop thinking about that seemingly insignificant, jesting conversation. Especialy after seeing the condition that the world is in… and ESPECIALLY after seeing the condition the American Church is in (and by church I don’t mean the buildings… I mean the so called believers). If I could, I would tailor those hard truths to the body of Christ that seems to be consumed in MEville, at the moment. They would look something like this.

“Dear Church,” Fortunes:

“It’s not about YOU.”

“There are slaves in your city, what are you doing with your freedom, for them?'”

“Get off your lazy butt and go help someone in need.”

“The 9 year old neighbor next to you is trying to cope with a parent dying.”

“Stop judging those teens at the corner store, and go love them.”

“The intolerable woman who lives in the house 3 doors down, is getting beaten by her boyfriend every night.”

“You’re light, get out of the spotlight and be one in the dark.”

“The 14 year old “slutty” girl you just walked by has been raped 3 times today…because her pimp sold her to 3 clients.”

“Yes, you’ve been redeemed, and set free.. now go show someone else how to be.”

“The young man that you sat next to on the train today is looking for a father figure to pour into him.”

“Going to church Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than being in a garage makes you a car.”

“You’ve always got something to say, how about saying something worth something?”

“Yes, God has been good to you, and faithfully blessed you…now stop singing about it, and go pay it forward.”

“Instead of buying a new Sunday outfit, use that money to donate to a just cause.”

“Hey, when was the last time you prayed for a random stranger, instead of more “me” stuff?”

“For God’s sake…. Go be a Kingdom bringer.”

“You’ve been freely given….stop being stingy, and now go freely give.”

“Jesus said GO…why are you in the same spot?”

I heard Christine Caine speak this past weekend at The Brooklyn Tabernacle. She is a powerful speaker and advocate against human trafficking in southwest Europe, and America. Her goal is to light a fire under the Church’s butt to MOVE and FIGHT.

The A21 Campaign gives 21 practical ways to fight against trafficking, that range from creating awareness to interning at an org. Her article on CNN is a great source in highlighting the issue of trafficking and gives details about the birth of A21, whose goal is to abolish slavery in the 21st century. Here’s the FB group page.

One of the things she said which has resonated deeply within me is “Not on my watch Lord, not on my watch.”

FOR THE SAKE OF THE WORLD, and the glory of God… may we be a generation that shifts our vision from “ME” to HIM and OTHERS….and that rallies together with the roaring war cry

“NOT ON OUR WATCH LORD, NOT ON OUR WATCH!”

Agenda: Love,

Bethsaida