Posts Tagged ‘Christian life’

October 31st . . . for much of America this day means dressing up and eating candy until you literally get a cavity overnight.  This is true for both the churched and the un-churched in many places.  However, this date means something different from some Christians (such as myself).  October 31st is Reformation Day; the day that Martin Luther took his stand against the Roman Catholic Church and nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517.  It was a day that marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  This 31st day means different things for different people.  I am not setting out to argue for or against the tradition of “trick or treating.”  My family has chosen to not participate most years; however, a recent conversation with my mother has caused me to consider an alternative approach to the day.  It was such a brilliant idea that I thought I would share it with those who may decide to join in the candy grabbing tradition.

Here is the idea:  When your children go trick-or-treating (assuming they want to treat instead of trick), use it as an opportunity to have a gospel conversation.  Take a Bible tract, church information card, or even a Bible to give to each person or home that you visit.  Instead of just getting something delicious that will only last a short while, present them with the bread of life that can sustain them for eternity.  There is no doubt that this kind of thing could (and should) be done every day of the year, but I believe that this day can be used and capitalized on.  Below are three reasons why.

This is the one time a year you have an open invitation to knock on someone’s door. 

            We live in a day and time where we are more and more inclusive than ever.  We are so busy in our lives that our homes have become a place of seclusion instead of a haven for friends and family.  Front porches are smaller, man caves are more popular, and many do not even know what a welcome mat is.  However, on this day, many openly welcome you to their home.  They welcome you to ring their door bell or knock on their door.  They do not run and hide as if you are a Jehovah’s Witness.  They eagerly wait for you with an open door and an open bowl of candy.  Can you think of a better time than this to bear witness to Christ by inviting them to your church, giving them a gospel tract, or giving them a Bible?  This is an open invitation.

This is the one time a year you can talk freely to a stranger.

It goes something like this; “Ding Dong . . . oh look at you.  Let’s see, we have a princess, a construction worker (who is actually Thor from the Avengers), and a little bearLet me give you some candy.  Now, just take one each . . .”  They have engaged your children in conversation.  A perfect stranger has given you the opportunity to speak to them, in their home.  How hard would it be for your older children to say, “Oh thank you so much and we would like to give you this card that has information about our church on it.  I don’t know if you know Jesus, or attend a church, but we would love to invite you to ours.  Thanks again, and God bless.”  Do you think that would leave an impression?  You don’t often want your children talking to strangers, but this is the one time of the year that they can benefit from the opportunity.

This is the one time of the year that you actually go out as a family to specifically meet so many different people.

Let’s face it, while many people may have the intention to go door-to-door in their neighborhood to talk to their neighbors about the Lord, most of the time they never get around to it.  Here is the perfect opportunity to kill those preverbal birds with one stone.  You are already going to be taking your children door to door, use it as an opportunity to witness to your neighbor.  Let you children see you do it, so that they can in turn learn how to do it themselves.  It does not have to be a formal thing, but by at least initiating a gospel conversation you may open an opportunity for later conversation with them.  If you are going out anyway, use it for the glory of God.

Will this be a new Halloween (Reformation day) tradition for my family?  I am not sure of that yet, but I love the idea of it. So, will you join in this year?  I am sure your church would love to supply you with the needed tools if you don’t already have them yourself.  Instead of just focusing on family fun this year, use it as an opportunity to not just make memories with your kids, but make an impact for the Kingdom.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

I believe that God is sovereign over all.  That means that He has infinite control over the smallest details of my life just as much as the big ones.  It is good to teach about this truth and it is good to believe this truth.  But when the truth of God’s sovereignty hurts us or takes us by surprise, it could cause us to bring into question the things that we once believed so strongly.

Consider these questions:

When a member of your family is tragically killed, is God still sovereign and good?

When your loved one is suffering to the point that you are praying for the Lord to just take them home, is the Lord still good?

When the sovereignty of God crashes into what would have been considered our happy Christian life, do we still see the Lord’s sovereignty as something to boast about?

Even in times of great trial, God’s control is something that we all should lean on and hold to. Below are three things to think about when dealing with God’s sovereignty and calamity:

The Lord Sympathizes With Our Pain

            We have a God that knows us perfectly, is always with us, and has created us uniquely (Psalm 139:1-18).  He is an intimate Father who cares for His children.  He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die in the place of murderers, God-haters, and adulterers.  His perfect Son was substituted for us, an unholy people.  Jesus not only died, He died the worst possible death, an innocent Man, crucified on the cross.  It is upon this same Jesus that we are to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).  The Lord clearly cares for His people.  Some want to say that God’s sovereignty paints a picture of a malicious dictator.  On the contrary, when you understand how intimate God really is you will find Him to be less of a tyrant and more of a loving father.  When His plans run counter to yours, just remember that His love for you has not faltered.  Most of us never doubted our earthly father’s love for us even if we didn’t always understand his ways.  It should be the same with our heavenly Father.  We can rest in the fact that He sympathizes with our pain.  He gave up His own Son to be beaten and die because that was the only way to have His people redeemed.

A Christian Gives Up Right Of Ownership

In Romans chapter 6, Paul reminds us that we were once slaves to sin, having a skewed view of personal freedom. Through Christ we have now become slaves of righteousness, owing our life to the Lord.  If you, by faith, call upon the name of the Lord for salvation, you are giving yourself over to Him and His kingdom.  The Lord sometimes deems it necessary for His glory and His plan to shake up our life with what may seem like unbelievable tragedy.  We must remember that we signed up to have His will be done before our own.  Does this mean that we do not go before Him and petition for the life of our loved one?  In no way!  But in the end, we must remember that we have no right to say when a person lives or dies.  He is the architect of all of life.  He is the giver and taker of life.  When we give up our ownership for something better, namely a relationship with God, we must understand that God’s ways are so much higher and better than our own.  We are no longer the owner of our own life.  We have sold ourselves into the service of the One who is always good and faithful.  His ways are best and can be trusted.

The Lord Works All Things For Good

In times of tragedy some well meaning person may quote Romans 8:28 to you.  Paul said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  While it may be a true verse, it may not bring much comfort to you at the time of a death or another heartbreaking situation.  The verse is, however, key for a broad, proper understanding of God’s sovereignty.  Sometimes in God’s goodness He allows us to see His master plan during seemingly terrible events.  Other times He does not.  The one thing we can trust in is that no matter if we understand all of life or not, He does.  By His very character He is always good.  He is long-suffering.  He is the embodiment of love itself.  Tragedy is a byproduct of sin most of the time.  It is hard to see the Lord working His sovereign will through a situation when clear sin is involved (murder, abortion, unjust firing from a job), but even then God in His wisdom truly is working all things for the good of His name and His people.

The complete sovereignty of God is a wonderful biblical truth.  It has brought my family through some tough times in recent months.  Holding to it does not promise you a life of complete happiness.  What it does promise is to bring a certain amount of peace within life’s storms.  We must always remember that the Lord is in control of the hard times in life and all the good ones, as well.  If you are ever tempted to be angry with God over a terrible situation, just remember all of the wonderful times that He has blessed you with, for those times were His sovereign hands at work too.  When the sovereignty of God collides with your happy little life remember that we can go to Him . . . that we can trust Him . . . and that we can fall at His feet and know that He is with us.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Some times in life things just simply get frustrating and discouraging.  This is true for the newborn Christians as much as it is for the seasoned saint.  It can affect anyone from the average layperson to the experienced minister of the Word.  What do you do to get out of this spiritual valley?  I believe one of the best ways to come out of this season in your life and keep up the good fight for the sake of the Kingdom and the glory of God is to remember . . .

Remember Your Salvation:

Remember that the Lord saved you when you did not deserve to be saved.  However, because of His love for you, he called you out of your sinful life to make you an instrument for him and give you a fully abundant life.  Remember that you are saved by God’s grace.  You were not just saved from something (yourself, and God’s wrath) but to something (good works).  When life gets frustrating, remember the sweet feeling of freedom the day the Lord called you to himself and you responded by faith.

Remember Your Calling:

God has not told you to bring great results, but to be faithful to the calling that he has given you (2 Thess. 1:11).  Results are his part of the deal.  Great numbers of salvation and disciples are great, but Jesus was still faithful in his calling even when all his disciples left him, Peter denied him, and his Father turned from him.  There are seasons when our life seems to flourish, and other times when it seems, in our eyes, to fail.  Nevertheless, if you are being faithful to God and allowing his Word to guide you in your decisions, then “do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Remember Your First Love:

It is so easy to get so caught up in the small details that we forget the big ones.  Even if everything else in your life fails you, the Lord never will.  During a season of life when things are hard, press closer to the Lord.  Be in his Word.  Worship him in song.  Surround yourself with those who love you, but love the Lord even more.  Love your spouse well (if you have one).  Love your children well (if the Lord has blessed you with any), and rest in the fact that the Lord chose you for something.   He didn’t just save you and leave you alone, but he saved you and desires an ongoing relationship with you.  He is your first love . . . and the one that will never disappoint you (when you delight in him first and die to yourself).

So brothers and sisters, I hope that when you look back and remember that you can find rest in the Lord, but also be rejuvenated to take a fresh look at what the Lord is trying to tell you in the midst of your frustration.  Often the Lord uses these things in our lives to grow the fruits of the Spirit in us and conform us to his image.  Don’t fight that . . . just pray for wisdom and wait upon the Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

Homeschooling–what could be more challenging, more enjoyable, or more intimidating to a parent? It is a road of tremendous blessing but also of great sanctification for a family. In reflecting on 30 years of teaching my children I have seen many successes and failures, joys and sorrows, satisfactions and regrets. As I consider how to encourage the next generation of homeschoolers, there are two primary areas that come to mind that I feel are essential to your homeschooling success.

Refine Your Vision:

Why are you educating your children? What is your goal? What are you hoping to accomplish and instill in them?  Are we trying to turn out the most academically impressive young adults, or are we looking for children that are wise in the the things of God? I would submit to you that homeschooling is nothing less than the Christian discipleship of your children. It is your response to the command given to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord so that the future generation will declare His praises. It is essential to be continually evaluating to be sure that we stay on the right track. In a culture that exalts the wisdom of man, it is easy to stray off course and miss the training of our children in Godliness. Of course we all want our children to succeed academically, but that does not go far enough. God calls us to disciple our children in the fear of the Lord, for that is where true wisdom is found. We can instill much academic knowledge and miss the fear of God, with the results being disastrous for the next generation. No amount of academic achievement will comfort a parent if their child does not walk in the fear of the Lord.

Keeping your vision in view is what will sustain you on those wonderful days when children are sick, dishes are undone, the housework has fallen by the wayside, math has been bypassed, the mama is frazzled and your life seems like the aftermath of a hurricane. Those are the times you must be able to see that in all the chaos the most needful lessons were still taught, i.e., how to respond to every situation biblically with love, patience and grace, how to lean on the everlasting arms for strength, how to be an example to our children of peace in the chaos, and when we fail at that, we have the opportunity to display a heart of humble repentance before them. It is easy to become discouraged after days like this, but if you are instilling those spiritual lessons in your children, then that was a very profitable homeschool day! The math will come in time, but the character of the child is where the vision must be.

Keep Focused:

The second priority I want to emphasize is keeping focused. That is making sure we are aiming at the target we had in mind. Once you have your vision clearly before you it is a constant battle to refine and refocus your efforts to achieve it. It is so easy to get side tracked, and if we don’t check our trajectory we may well miss the mark we were hoping to hit. There are so many paths and detours along the way, so many different curricula, co-ops, conferences, and activities that it can be hard to discern where to spend your time, money and energy. We must be careful not to let the fun, the interesting or the latest homeschool craze pull us off track. We may often have to refuse things that may be good in order to reach for the best. Keep in mind how you will define whether you have been a successful homeschool parent or not. Will your success be defined by test scores or by whether your children are conformed to the image of Christ? Do you desire most for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

These words are not meant to negate the importance of striving for academic mastery, but we must keep first things first and the other things will follow. As your children grow in Godliness they will also grow in the pursuit of doing all for His glory, leading to applying themselves to do their best in every area of life. This is certainly the best road to their academic success as well as success in all other areas.

Final Thoughts:

Always remember where true wisdom is found. “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Philippians 3:8).

Homeschooling is definitely not an easy road, but the rewards are innumerable. Keep in mind the admonition of Paul to the Galatians, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Homeschooling can be a difficult and daunting task, but keep the words of the Psalmist before you continually, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). Your children’s relationship with their Lord is worth every sacrifice! Do not grow weary in doing good.  Rest in God, teach the best, and continually reevaluate your trajectory and refine or pull back to improve your aim so you may hit the target. Always remember that you “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14.)

Sincerely,

Desiree Sheats

Have you ever wondered what the day in and day out life of a Christian is supposed to look like?  We know the big commands like “Go and make disciples,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.”  However, we don’t have a lot of texts that show us how to do these things in the day-to-day life.  In my particular denomination (SBC) sometimes we have a tendency to elevate our foreign missionaries to a very high level.  If we are not careful, we can make them out to be “Super Christians.”  I do not want to downplay the sacrifice required of all of our missionaries, but I also want to be careful not to elevate them to a place that is not God-honoring either.  God has called every single Christian to certain standards.  He has called us all to do a certain job.  The missionary has no higher calling than the school teacher if God has called you to teach school for His glory.  So, just what does that normal Christian life look like for both the factory worker and the pastor . . . the missionary and the stay-at-home mom?

Watchman Nee, a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century, wrote a book nearly 100 years ago entitled “The Normal Christian Life.”  In it he wrote, “I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher.  I consecrate myself to God to do His will where I am, be it in school, office, or kitchen, or wherever He may, in His wisdom, send me.”  I believe there is great wisdom in this saying.  If we want to see what this looks like, what the “The Normal Christian Life” looks like, I believe we can look at Paul’s exhortation to the Christians in Thessalonica in I Thessalonians 4:1-12.  He provides three commands for them that are just as applicable today as they were 2000 years ago.

Be Pure (I Thess. 4:3-8)

To be specific, he tells them and be sexually pure.  The word Paul uses here for sexual purity covers every type of sexual sin imagined (if you want a list see Deuteronomy 22).  The Christian who lived in Thessalonica lived in a very sexually perverted society, which is not that different from the world we live in today.  His instructions to them were simple . . . God has called us to remain pure, and thus you need to remain pure in this area, even if your culture does not.  Today we need to be reminded of this as well.  Recently statistics have shown that over 50% of men within the church look at pornography on a regular basis, and 30% of pastors have admitted to having an extra marital affair with someone within the church.  These statistics are scary and very disheartening.  A person cannot have a growing and thriving relationship with God while being sexually impure at the same time.  The normal everyday Christian (From John Piper to Jimmy Wright) has been called to be sexually pure . . . day in and day out.  You want to be a disciple of Jesus? . . . Be pure.

Be Loving (I Thess. 4:9-10)

The second command Paul gives is to be a person who loves much and loves well . . . specifically to his brother in Christ.  They had been taught by God through scripture and the example of Jesus, as well as the example of Paul when he lived with them.  They had already been doing a good job of this, yet Paul tells them to do it even more.  If we want to know what a disciple of Christ looks like and how one is to act . . . it must start and end with love.  Why did the Lord give the spiritual gifts?  He gave them for the outbuilding of the church.  What is the greatest commandment and the 2nd that is like it? . . . Love.  If we want to live a normal Christian life we need to be a people who are known for our love.  People should know we are Christians by our love . . . our actions toward others.  A disciple of Christ is one who loves the Lord so much that they desire to show their devotion to Him by loving others.

 Be Diligent (I Thess. 4:11-12)

The last command that we see is a call for diligence among all of God’s people.  He says that we are to be diligent in living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working hard.  There are many commands throughout scripture that go along with these charges.  One of my favorites is found in II Thessalonians 3:10.  It says, “for even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (This rule works great with children, by the way, when they don’t want to clean their room.)  Christians above all people should be a person that does not want to bring attention to themselves, but at the same time tending closely to what the Lord has given them to do as a vocation according Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  When we understand that our salvation is completely from the Lord and whatever we do we should give Him glory in . . . it should make us want to be diligent in it.  This is a normal everyday thing that the Lord has called us to.

Sometimes we over spiritualize what the Lord has called us to do.  Because we still battle with our flesh at times it is easy to let a bit of pride creep up in our lives and feel like we want to be noticed.  However, I believe Tim Challies has given some good advice when he said that we need to “Be content to be unremarkable.”  In a day and age when we elevate Christian pastors and musicians to a level that many believe they will never be able to attain it seems like a good time to remind us all that God may have called us all to different vocations . . . but He has called us all too certainly live the normal Christian life.  If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God you need to be sure to Be Pure, Be Loving, and Be Diligent.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell