I am Invited to Live, Uncategorized

Pressing into Life

“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” ~Hosea 6:1-3, NKJV

I don’t feel very much alive today. I feel shriveled, like a tender seedling in the hot, dry July sun. Ironic, isn’t it? This week, my week to choose a topic–and I chose life–is the week that I crash. Huh. What should I make of that?

Reading in Hosea today, I find myself in a mix of angles. Discipline is never pleasant–and honestly, I’m not rightly sure of the reason for this particular drought–but I see in scripture that God always has an intent. It isn’t random.

I used the word shriveled–because that describes perfectly how I feel today, and yesterday, and the day before–and that isn’t fun. But as I look at this call from Hosea, an image comes to mind. My husband just got a new toy for our landscape. I call it the flame-thrower. It’s a propane fueled torch used to keep the weeds at bay in our driveway and among my many flower beds. You don’t actually burn the weeds, though. You torch them, and they wither.

There are a lot of withered weeds in my yard right now.

Perhaps there are a lot of withering weeds in my heart right now.

Good things grow best when there aren’t weeds competing for life. Things like patience and perseverance and kindness and encouragement, rather than frustration and discouragement and envy and negativity. Perhaps the shriveling I feel is the death of those weeds.

Which means that life will follow. Good life, producing good things.

I am Invited to Live

On Life and Grace

I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 HCSB

I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old.  That’s a mighty long time, and you’d think I’d have this Christian-living thing down pat by now. Decades of practice should have already made me perfect.

Except that it hasn’t.  Daily, I make mistakes.  I sometimes act selfishly.  Just last week, I messed up big time and hurt people I love.  Let’s just call it what it was – sin.  If anyone deserves judgment, if anyone has her punishment “coming to her,” it’s me.

And yet, what I got was grace – undeserved favor.  God forgave me. My family forgave me. All is restored and well, and I am a wiser woman because of the ordeal.  Last week, I felt the weight of the yuckiness upon me. This week, I am praising God for the fresh breath of life He’s given.

How can this be?  How can I deserve one thing and receive another?  Because John 5:24 is active in my life.  I have heard Jesus’ words, and I believe them.  I believe God sent Jesus to earth to become my sacrifice, to take my punishment for me.  He died – so I don’t have to.

I will not come under judgment, now or later. While I walk on this planet, I am forgiven and free.  When I step off of it, I will still be forgiven and free.  I have life here.  I’ll have life there.  Eternally.

But this grace didn’t come cheaply.  Christ gave his very life to win it for me.  So, I’m not saying a person can just live however she wants to live, sin as much as she desires, and in the end it’s all ok.  No.  Becoming a Christian means giving your life to Christ, making him Lord and boss.  There is a difference between living your life in willful rebellion and in living it while striving to please Him but tripping over your own humanness every now and then.  I’m in the latter category.

I have passed from death to life.  My sins are paid for.  Christ was judged in my place.

I am free to live.

I am Invited to Live

I Am Invited To Live: A Joint Post

And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life. ~ 1 John 2:25, NKJV

From Jen

Eternal life. Sometimes I think this is an obscure promise—one that is hard to see, hard to comprehend. But I think I’m looking at it wrong when I think that this promised life begins at death. Where does that leave me now?

I love the outdoors and crave adventure. I love the buzz of adrenaline when fear and excitement collide and pulse electrically through my veins. The thrill of challenge sets my heart to a thundering pace lets me know that I’m alive—and not boring. So, I’m sitting here wondering, am I to wait until death to embrace life?

Is the Christian life supposed to resemble that of Rapunzel locked in her tower—waiting for life to begin? Or is there another picture—one that looks to the life after death while embracing the life here and now?

From Susan

Absolutely!  It just takes a different definition of death and life.

Death is separation.  Physically, it’s the separation of the soul from the body.  Spiritually, it’s the separation of the soul from God.  So, there’s four combinations:

Option one: spiritually dead, physically alive.  A person can walk around this earth, get a job, have kids, and go snowboarding, all while rejecting Christ.  Dead while breathing.

Option two: spiritually alive, physically dead.  I went to a funeral recently for a vibrant believer, a man who had accepted Christ’s sacrifice for his sins.  His soul was separated from his corpse, but alive with God in heaven.

Option three: both spiritually and physically dead.  That’s what happens when a car accident or cancer kills you before you’ve asked accepted Jesus’ gift of forgiveness.  If you don’t allow him to take your punishment for your sins, you die physically, still responsible for everything you’ve done wrong.  And since sin separates you from God, you don’t get to go to heaven, where God is.  You have to go to hell.  Terrifying.

Option four:  physically and spiritually alive.   This is what Jen is talking about. I was physically born, squalling and pink, dead in my sins.  But, the moment I gave my life to Christ, the moment I allowed him to take the punishment for my sins through his death on the cross – that was the moment I was ‘born’ as a Christian.  That’s the moment both kinds of life were mine.

I’m sitting in my office typing a blog.  Check. I’m physically alive.  My soul is singing with a victory Christ has recently wrought in my personal life.  Check.  I’m spiritually alive.

Life. Abundantly.

I am Invited to Live

Peeking at the End

“They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.” ~ Jeremiah 31:12

Jeremiah is a bit like a roller coaster–a really, really scary roller coaster. Deep valleys are penned in his prophesies. Promises of gloom–discipline met out to a stubborn and adulterous people. Captivity, destruction and despair is coming. Be warned, he writes, know that God sees your life, has taken note that you refuse to live for Him, and will deal severely with His rebellious son.

And then we come across these precious promises, such as 31:12. “Their life will be like a The conclusion of the story comes to life.watered garden, and they will never languish again.”

I must confess that I cheat when I read a book–it drives my husband nuts. I have a habit of reading the first few pages and then flipping to the end. I know, it’s just wrong, but I don’t want to waste my time with something that doesn’t end well. I have to know that the conclusion will be satisfying before I’m willing to commit to the ups and downs of an unfolding plot.

Which makes me super thankful for the Word of God when it comes to the unravelling story of life.

Destruction isn’t the end. Discipline isn’t the final chapter. The conclusion of the story comes to life.

This is profound. Our living and doing looks a bit like that roller coaster. Life twists and turns, takes us high and dunks us into deep lows. Sometimes it feels random. Sometimes it feels yucky. But Jesus told His disciples that he has come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

He has come that I may have life. Abundantly. Does anyone else need to hear that today?