I like that Jesus did it but I don’t want to

He stands looking right into my eyes with a gun pointed at my head. I am frozen still with fear unable to move. He shouts at me; “If you want to live deny that Jesus is Lord!” I can barely breathe, I am shaking like a leaf but as I open my mouth to speak everything I’ve known of my Lord comes to mind, my heart is filled with peace and I reply; “Jesus Christ is Lord!” 

The rest is a blur.

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I cannot tell you how many times I’ve thought through this scenario. In my mind it’s the ultimate sacrifice I could make for my Lord, my Jesus. The One who gave His all for me. To die for His name’s sake – what a sacrifice!

Now, at the moment in Canada I do not live in fear of that type of persecution for being a Christian. That’s not the type of sacrifice I can make for Jesus and I’m going to hazard a guess at saying that’s not the type of sacrifice you can offer Jesus either.

“Phew!” says us. That would be a pretty big price to pay and if we’re being truly honest we don’t want to give that big a sacrifice.

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed there seems to be a hierarchy in christian circles as to who Jesus calls to sacrifice for His name’s sake. Here’s  few:

  • Missionaries in far off countries… usually we use Africa as an example – Let’s face it…they’re super Christians. They go into lands where no one has heard about Jesus and risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. They sacrifice a lot – they move countries, leave their family, learn a new language, give up a decent lifestyle, have little medical care and always have to carry around a little orphan child.
  • Pastors – God only calls those who have it all together and are as close to perfect as humanly possible to be Pastors so of course these guys are willing to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. It’s only right that they sacrifice their family time, rest and sometimes health for the church they serve, they’re getting paid for it.
  • Bible College Students – They are the ‘extra-holy’ onesThey went to college to learn how to pray, read their Bibles and serve; not to mention meet and marry a like minded ‘extra-holy’ one. You see they should live their lives different to other pew people because they’ve got extra letters at the end of their name not to mention a fancy degree!

I hope you giggled reading that list. I legitimately have heard each of those excuses used by ‘normal’ Christians in response to being questioned about how they are living their lives for Christ.

The more I look at the lives of every disciple ever called by God (or ‘to those who became Christians’) in the Bible I see one common thing; 100% sacrifice.

Read Luke 5:1-11 when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him; “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”

Luke 5:27-31 Jesus calls Levi and “Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”

I love the story of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-19 Jesus calls him, he has to stop what he’s doing and listen to what Jesus asks him to do. Never once after meeting with Jesus does he go back to his old life – he left his power, status and lifestyle behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Recently God’s been speaking to me about sacrifice. Not the idea of being a Martyr for Christ, however if that day comes I pray I’ll stand firm- but more of a daily sacrifice. He began speaking to me about sacrifice during my Christmas vacation. I went home to Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks after being away for nearly 9 months – for those who don’t know me I’m a real people person. I love being with people, sharing in their lives and being there for them as much as I can. As you can imagine living half way across the world from my family and friends kind of makes that a little bit difficult so catching up with everyone was bliss. But then came the dreaded goodbyes. I hate being ‘that’ girl in the security line but you can’t hold tears in… (funny story: my gate was closing and I was told to use the fast track lane but I hasn’t paid for that privilege so I chanced it and I’m pretty certain the tears stopped the guy asking questions and I got right through! lol)… in that moment when I’d said goodbye to those I love I was convinced that was the greatest sacrifice God had called me to make. How wrong was I.

You see the life of a believer is to be one of constant sacrifice. The art of saying no to self and yes to Jesus.

What did Jesus have to say about this? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

What does that look like us for today in 2015?

  • Are we willing to sacrifice those extra minutes in bed in order to spend time seeking God at the start of the day?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice our popularity (even among Christian friends) by taking a stand against something that goes against God’s word?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that job, relationship or circumstance in order to go where God has called us to or to serve in a ministry he’s called us to?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that TV show, social media or activity that eats our time away so that we can spend time reading our bibles and praying ?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice that money we would spend of coffee or clothes to give to something God wants us to give to?
  • Are we willing to sacrifice anything hinders our walk with Jesus no matter what the cost?

At the end of our lives we’re going to have to stand before Jesus, the one who died so that we might live – we will have to give an account for our lives; the places we went, words we said or didn’t say, time we wasted, things we watched, listened to or were involved in. I don’t say this to scare you – I say it to encourage you (and me) that we have one life to live for the sake of Jesus.

We are given one life to make a difference for the Kingdom of God – Jesus gave His whole life for us… what are we willing to give Him?!

 

Another sleepless night

Another night of not being able to sleep. You toss and turn but no matter how fast the motion you can’t turn quick enough to make the thoughts fly out of your mind. They’re still there. Each thought, memory and picture becoming more and more vivid. You don’t want to remember anymore, you don’t want to think about the choices you have made, you can’t handle another night closing your eyes only to be reminded of what you so desperately want to forget or escape. You ask yourself; “Why won’t this pain stop? Haven’t I cried enough tears? Am I still not over this?”

The night seems long and lonely, in fact you’ve grown to fear having to go to sleep because it’s not restful and relaxing, it’s painful and difficult. It feels like you’re the only person awake. There is no one to talk to. No where to turn.

Yet if you stop and pause for a moment you will hear the night owls going about their business, if you look up at the sky you will see the moon shining to give light to the world with his little stars as helpers and if you step outside your front door you will feel a gentle breeze causing the trees to bend and move in all directions. Oh precious one, you are not alone. The same God who causes the owls to cry out praise to Him, and tells the moon when to rise and set, the same God who has the power to speak to the wind and it obeys; He is near. He is near to you. 

You are never unnoticed. You are never overlooked. You are constantly being loved by the God who sent His one and only Son to come and die in your place. Those questions you’re fighting, those thoughts that are consuming you, that situation that is engulfing you is nothing in comparison to the love God has for you.

Jesus is calling you today; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 28:11) Don’t you want that rest?

You haven’t strayed too far from Him to not be welcomed back. He is waiting for you with outstretched arms.

Your sin isn’t so bad that you can never be forgiven. Jesus has paid the price. He wants to forgive you and set you free.

You don’t need to ‘get yourself together’ or ‘fix your brokenness’ before you start speaking to God again. He specializes in transforming broken lives into people who are made in the likeness of the wonderful Lord Jesus.

Friend, won’t you come to Him and find everything you’ve been looking for and more? Won’t you have your sins forgiven and experience true peace and joy? Won’t you trust in a love that will never fail? Won’t you give your life to the One who gave His all for you? 

God is near. He is calling you. This is what you’ve been longing for.

Is it time to give up?

There was finally silence after a whole week of the camp centre being filled with teenagers. All the counsellors had collapsed on the sofa. We chatted for a wee while then it went quiet so… me being the youth worker I am asked; “If you could go for coffee with anyone in the whole world dead or alive, who would it be?”

The room went silent for a moment while people thought and then came the answers;

C.S. Lewis…Charles Spurgeon [guess who said that]… Some quirky artists… Dead relatives.

But then my friend gave the most incredible answer: “I’d love to meet the people who prayed for me and my family to get saved.”

And in unison the rest of us went “Aww… that’s such a good one!”

When I think about the first person who ever prayed for me to meet Jesus I get really emotional. I have no idea who that person was but I am eternally grateful for their dedication to prayer and love for me to be redeemed that kept them praying.

Here I now am echoing the actions and prayers of that amazing person/people. I love that a section of my prayer time is spent pleading with God to save people, people that He has broken my heart for.

Maybe you, like me, have a list either on the inside of your bible or engraved in your heart of people you are praying for to trust in Jesus. Maybe you’ve been praying for them every day for weeks, months, even years. Maybe you’ve seen them take one step forward in faith and two steps back. Maybe you’ve had your heart broken by the decisions they’ve made.

I sat in on a class at Faith Mission Bible College a month back and we were looking at evangelism. The lecturer asked (in order to start a discussion); “When is it time to give up on someone?”

Have you ever felt like that? You just don’t see any change, fruit for your labour or them even desiring to know more about God. I’m sure as you are reading this there are people coming to your mind.

I want to ask you this question; “Is it time to give up on that person?”

Do you believe in a God that gives up on people?

I really hope you can join with me saying; “No I am not giving up on them because they matter to God, I will happiliy sacrifice my time to pray for them, love them and share Jesus with them!”

Who knows how long people were praying for you before you got saved?!!! We may never see the results of our prayers but this I am sure of, you do not pray for anyone out of your own flesh; The Holy Spirit is prompting you to pray for that person so be obedient and believe that God will answer your prayers in His own time.

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May this post be a source of encouragement to you. May it help you realise that the people in your life are placed there for a reason and that praying for them is a privilege. Our God is ready and willing to save people. He is good, He is loving, He is everything.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

 

In That Moment of Brokenness

My knees hit the ground a lot quicker than I had expected and the candle I had lit in my room shone brighter than any lamp ever could, time seemed to freeze… in that moment it was just me and God.
This was the appointment I had been putting off for nearly a week.

As I knelt on the ground I began uttering the same words to God over and over again; “I just don’t get it, I just don’t get it, I just don’t get it.” Each time I spoke those words my heart seemed to ache that little bit more and the tears started to stream quicker. I had been through probably the worst week yet in my Christian walk, it was just bad news after bad news. My whole world seemed to stop, I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t socialise…I was heartbroken. You know the type of pain that actually hurts your soul? I had so many questions, so many that I knew would remain unanswered and I had so many emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with them.

I had nothing left to offer God but my brokeness. If I’m being honest it’s easier to pretend to have it all together than admit I’m broken (pride) God knows we’re broken yet so often we think we can fool him into seeing us as ‘sorted’ or ‘all together’ – there is absloutely no freedom in walking the Christian life in a lie.

God calls us to be vulnerable. open. honest. raw.
If you’re like me, these words are not fun, they are scary. Yet it is only through vulnerability with God that we experience true peace, comfort, forgiveness and love.

In that moment of brokeness as I knelt on the floor God began to speak into my heart and my prayer began to expand. The full stop changed into a comma. Instead of focussing soley on how I was feeling, I began proclaiming God’s truth in the midst of the situation.

“I just don’t get it, but I am going to trust you God.”
“I just don’t get it, but God you’re faithful.”
“I just don’t get it, but I know You’re in control.”

Something wonderful happens when we lay our hearts bare with God and allow him to have the final say in each situation. But so often we run from him.

What is the first thing you do when:
Your friends have stabbed you in the back?
You haven’t spoken to members of your family in months?
Things aren’t going well in your relationship?
You are struggling at work?
You have no idea how you feel about Church anymore or you’ve been hurt by fellow Christians?

Every part of our natural nature wants to run from God but we are called to live out of the Spirit who is God and brings us closer to the Father. Why? Because he loves us.

That night I write about happened a year ago this month. I want to be real and honest and say I didn’t get up from the floor and never think about that situation again, get upset by it or attempt to hide my true feelings from God. I did however, get up of the floor feeling refreshed in God’s love, assured of His promises and comforted in the knowledge that it’s okay to not be okay.

One year later I think about that week, the situations I faced and pain that was so real and, I smile.
Sounds weird, right? I smile because God has brought me through, he has healed my heart, revealed his plan for my life evermore clearly and he has never left my side.

He wants to do the same for you, stop fighting Him, He’s ready change your world from the inside out.

I pray that this is an encouragement to you. To never give up. To meet with your Lord and be vulnerable. To allow his love to transform your life.

‘I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord has helped me.’ – Psalm 118:13