Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Follow Me" -Jesus

I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' call - "follow me" that is prevalent throughout his life and imperative for Christians and disciples. We have strayed so far in the church and in our own lives from the importance of these two words. "Follow Me"
I was dialoging with a friend about this topic this week and after Secret Church last night, (6hrs of solid teaching from David Platt), I thought I would share some of the things that have challenged me as I have reflected on the importance of being a Christ follower.

The dictionary defines the word "follow" like so:
follow - to imitate in behavior
follow - to behave in accordance or in agreement with
follow - to travel behind, go after, come after
follow - to follow in or as if in pursuit
follow - to follow with the eyes or the mind
follow - to accept and follow the leadership or command or guidance of

Growing up I did a lot of hiking and backpacking. ( If MS wasn't so flat you can bet I would do more of it now!)
My favorite thing to do towards the end of a long day with many miles of trail behind me, was to position myself behind my dad in the single file line as we neared the end of our ascent. When I was climbing behind him, I could almost draft... in a walking sort of way. The pressure was off. I wasn't setting the pace, I just had to keep up... keep in step. Also, as we climbed I could follow in his footsteps as he preselected and tested footholds. Stepping where he stepped, and following his footfalls, required less forethought and effort. All I had to do was just follow.
Of course, I couldn't see the trail from behind my dad and his huge pack, (with the exception of an occasional glimpse of the summit), but I could see just far enough. I could just see a few steps ahead of me. Oh! ...and, as a daddy's girl, the best part was that I was close to him, walking with life was
made! Those are some of the best memories of my childhood and of my dad.
If only I would daily apply them to my spiritual walk now!

In the following passages Jesus is telling people from all walks of life to follow him.
Luke 9:23-26 "And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Matt 4:19 "& I will make you fishers of men"
Matt 8:22 "And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
(Mark 1:17 ESV) And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
(John 10:4 ESV) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Matt 16:24 & Mark 8:34 -deny yourself and take up your cross
Luke 5:27 - to a tax collector
With the rich young ruler what one thing did Jesus require from him?
(Mark 10:21 ESV) " And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39 ESV)

In all of these verses the call is clear. Follow Me. Take up your cross, deny yourself loose your life and follow Me!

The second thing that is clear, is that it requires sacrifice from us. (Matt 10:37-39)
Amy Carmichael says it well;
"Missionary life is simply a chance to die."

The cost of following Christ and the cost of being a disciple are the same. Following Christ is an opportunity to die. Death to self, death to sin - through Christ, and physical death. Most of the disciples died martyrs deaths. Are we this serious about our confession of faith where death isn't necessarily a threat, yet persecution is eminent? Will we hold to our confession with an unrelenting surety? Our destiny is secure, our hope profound and the way to find life is by giving our lives away. But do we live this radically? Are we passionate about accelerating Christ's return and and saving souls from an eternal, fiery, torment in hell? Or are we content to sit on the sidelines.

Today, I'm thankful that Jesus didn't take a sidelines approach when he died to purchase my wretched life. He walked in perfect obedience, perfect submission to the Father's will. Will we in turn, walk in obedience, in-step with Christ? Will we... Will you follow Christ ... Even to death?

"We do not know the value of Christ, if we will not cleave to Him unto death!"
Robert Murray McCheyne

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Tertullian

"No one makes us afraid or leads us into captivity as we have set our faith on Jesus. For though we are beheaded, and crucified, and exposed to beasts and chains and fire and all other forms of torture, it is plain that we do not forsake the confession of our faith, but the more things of this kind which happen to us the more are there others who become believers... through the name of Jesus."
Justin Martyr

"Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die; if we are to ever conquer this world for Christ." Charles Spurgeon

Lord, thank you for your perfect, shepherding example, for humbling yourself and taking on a human frame so that we could follow in your footsteps. Thank you for dying in my place and taking the punishment I deserve upon yourself. Thank you for calling me to follow you! Thank you that you give me clear footsteps to follow in. Thank you that I can't see too far ahead, just the next steps you show me. Words don't express.... Thank you! You are Good! You are more than I deserve, all I need and the motivation of my life and death. I willing, joyfully, lay down my life to follow you! Help me, uphold me, lead me.

"He makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things'. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul - short life? ... Make me thy fuel, Flame of God." - Jim Elliot

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Henry Drummondo

"You can take nothing greater to the heathen world than the impress and the reflection of the Love of God upon your own character. That is the universal language. It will take you years to learn to speak in Chinese, or to learn the dialects of India. From the day you land, that language of love, understood by all, will be pouring forth its unconscious eloquence. Take into your new sphere of labor, where you also mean to lay down your life, that simple charm. You can take nothing greater, you need take nothing less. It is not worth it if you take anything less."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6K Mile Reminders

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29 ESV)

First of all, Im reminded that I'm forgetful. How easily I forget that the Lord has not called me to a task (or works) but to himself! I have recently been reminded of my adoption as a child of God. I, who was once far away, have been brought near to God through Christ Jesus my Lord, and am now considered a child of God!
1John 3:1 says; "What love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are."

For so many years I allowed myself to be defined by what I did for the Lord. Recently, I have been struck with a new awe that Gods love for me is not swayed by what I do or don't do for him, and further that he even allows me (frail and faulty as I am) to partner with him in his work. Wow! If we focus on the work, our perspective narrows to 'me, my, and I' and we will fail at the task. If we work in our strength, we will eventually run out of strength and fall short. But God calls us to partner with us in his strength through his Spirit's continual filling. Paul puts it so well as he prays for the church at Colosse.

"...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14 ESV)

What? Did he say that the Father has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light? Yes! He has granted me sonship and an inheritance with Christ!
On this 4 week tour we put over 6000 miles on our vans/trailers. Not only are there testimonies of how The Lord literally moved blizzards and a hail storm for us, but we had no blow outs or breakdowns all month! He IS a good Father to his children! The second thing He has been reminding me of over the past couple months, is that when we ask for bread, he gives us bread. Not a stone, or a snake like I assume he will. He gives us bread! This tour was one of asking The Lord in faith for things (and increasingly so) and watching Him move powerfully. When we ask according to his will he answers and provides! I think I can imagine a lot and I can be pretty needy when it comes to asking the Lord for things. The Word tells us that he can do abundantly or immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine! And that is exactly what we did! This tour we asked for much fruit. Guess what?! We saw fruit! 17 salvations (that we know of), over 800 public school students heard the gospel, and there was
deliverance, healing, and restoration in broken lives, marriages and relationships through ministry, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are celebrating those numbers but they aren't the point. God is always at work. He doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes, but he does choose to use us! Letting us glimpse some of the fruit of our labors was only fuel to the fire of our faith, and as it grew we asked for immeasurably more.

Thirdly, I was reminded that his power is truly perfected in weakness. Almost 2 weeks into our tour, towards the end of an amazing program/revival in Florida, I hurt my foot. The Lord was moving in powerful ways that night and had given us an extra measure of joy. I was tempted to be frustrated, and more so as I sat on the sidelines for my last 4 performances in the states, but was humbly reminded that The Lord delights in my weaknesses because His power is perfected through it. He also met with me backstage that night and confronted some areas where I don't fully receive his love. Christ loves perfectly and in some ways I deny him the fullness of what he died for by allowing self- condemnation to slip back in. I'm so thankful that he is so patient with me, slow to anger and abounding in love!

Finally, I am reminded that it is the Lord who equips, sustains, and strengthens. In many ways this tour was difficult. We battled a lot of sickness and several people battled injuries, but the Lord is ALWAYS sufficient. We must labor out of His energy, with His endurance, and by His spirit who will grant us patience and joy when serving, giving and lovig gets tough.
I am so thankful to be home again, eating my food, sleeping in a familiar place and not living out of a suitcase or the van. But, with all it's challenges and trials, I would do it again in a heartbeat if it meant more lives rescued from the dominion of darkness, (Satan's grasp) and set free in the healing, freedom, and salvation found in Christ alone.

We are home for Easter and a few short weeks before we head overseas and start a grueling schedule. Please pray for me and for the Omega team, for refreshment in our spirits, increased unity, and health.

Would you also pray the following for me over these next few weeks?

Colossians 1:9, 10
"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."

In Christ and Because of Him,