I need to tell you a few things about Adam Weber, the guest writer of my blog, today. 1) He’s the founder and pastor of one of my favorite churches in America, Embrace Church. Anytime they ask me to speak there, I say yes. Warm, thriving, Kingdom-focused. These are the words that come to mind about Embrace. Oh, and he’s like 30. Ok maybe not 30. But close. I’m actually not sure but you get the picture: young to lead a dynamic 6-campus, one of the fastest growing churches in America. I attribute it to his humble heart. 2) He’s my friend. Not all pastors where I go and speak become my true and legit friends. Adam became one. 3) He’s written a book called Talking with God that is a really important book I hope you will go out and buy. It de-complicates prayer, which is something I’m passionate about, especially right now. Did I tell you I just finished writing a book called 5-Word Prayers? Right. I did. Coming in October. Adam and I are on such the same wavelength.
I asked Adam if I could share this post with you because it’s beautiful, and it’s something I needed to read.
I’ve had some storms I’ve wanted Jesus to calm lately. How about you?
When my oldest was born, we lived hours away from family. I was a rookie dad, and when it came to the birth of tiny humans, all I knew was that it was supposed to all happen like clockwork. We did the pre-baby classes. We were ready. Just go to the hospital. Labor. Baby comes. Baby cries. Mom holds baby. And there would be nothing to worry about, right? Which was true. Until it actually came time for Hudson’s birth.
My wife Becky was at work when her water broke. I picked her up, and we drove to Saint Joseph East hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. All was great until near the end of labor. Hudson’s heart rate started going all over the place, and the doctors decided he needed to come out sooner rather than later.
As he was coming out, it became clear that something was terribly wrong. I could see it on the faces of the nurses. Out of nowhere, fifteen different people, doctors and nurses, appeared in the room. The heart monitor was beeping, and Hudson was blue, not making a sound.
Wasn’t he supposed to start crying? Then I saw it. The umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around his neck. Instead of handing us our baby to hold, they quickly took him away and a team of people worked frantically to help him breathe.
In that moment, my heart was torn into pieces for someone I had seen for less than a minute. I was scared. And broken.
All I could do was cry out. Literally, I was crying as I prayed. I didn’t even think about it. The words just came out from the deepest part of me.
God, are you sleeping?
Is he going to be okay?
Would you be with my new son?
Help him to breathe, Lord.
Father, I’m scared!
If you struggle to “pray,” do you know how to yell? Can you scream? Have you ever cried out to God? Shouted at the sky? Shaken your fist in the air? Maybe you’ve been praying for years and didn’t know it.
The night Hudson was born, I cried more than I thought was humanly possible. My eyes hurt because I cried so much. Thankfully, the next morning Hudson was cleared by the nurses and I was able to hold my healthy son. I give thanks for Hudson daily, and I only wish every story ended like this. I wish the storm was calmed every time. Sadly, that’s not the case.
What happens when the storms come, we cry out to God, and the worst still takes place? What happens when it feels like God is silent?
Have you been there before? Have you endured a storm that seemed to shake everything, including the foundation of all that you know about God? I without question have been in this place.
Sometimes I don’t pray because I question whether it will change anything. Does it really matter if I do? Other times I don’t pray because I don’t want to be disappointed by God. What if I pray and nothing happens? Will it shake my faith in prayer? Will it shake my belief in God?
For the past five years, my dad has had a pain issue. The pain has completely altered his life. He went from being one of the most active, healthy people I’ve ever known to lying in bed a majority of each day because of the pain. Mom and Dad now have a bed in their living room so he doesn’t have to be alone in the bedroom during the day. He walks with a cane. He is in constant pain. It’s horrible.
I can honestly say that I’ve never prayed more faithfully for anyone in my life. I’ve prayed for years that he would be healed. On my knees, crying out, yelling at God—I’ve done it all. Yet in spite of my cries, Dad’s condition has continued to worsen. Even now, I cry just thinking about it. I want so much for him to be healed.
I could attempt to explain the unexplainable. I could offer reasons and explanations to your questions and mine, but at times there simply aren’t any. None that satisfy. I’ve found that trite answers only cause more hurt than good.
When I ask my dad his thoughts on what he’s going through, specifically the times his very life has been in jeopardy, he’s the first to admit that he has questions too. At times he cries about it. Having had to retire early, he’s worried about finances. If something were to happen to him, he worries about my mom being alone. Yet he’s also quick to say that more than ever before, he realizes that God is truly good, that he’s in control of all things, and that he’ll provide everything we need. He’s realized that even death itself isn’t a bad thing.
A few years ago, Dad had a surgery and had complications afterward. He had to go back into surgery again that same day. Before being wheeled into the operating room for the second time, at one of his worst moments, he asked my mom to play the song “10,000 Reasons” on her cell phone so he could listen to it.
It’s a song that talks about praising God, and all the reasons that we have to thank God, regardless of what we’re facing. Matt Redman reminds us that though our days may draw to a close, our souls will still “sing your praise unending.”
I can’t say it any better. I guess my dad is choosing to focus on Jesus in the midst of the storm. In the end, isn’t that what storms do? They remind us of what’s important. They remind us who is in control. They remind us to keep focusing on the main thing—Jesus. And if we keep talking with him through the storm, we might come to understand that he’s all we’ve ever really needed.
Adam lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He likes typewriters, drives a Rambler, cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals, has 4 chickens, and a dog named Daisy. He’s the Lead Pastor of Embrace, a 10-year-old church that has grown to 6 campuses in two states.He and his beautiful wife, Becky, have four kids. Fun fact: He once made worldwide news when a turkey vulture fell out of the sky and onto his back porch during an ice storm. Google it.
To order Talking With God, CLICK HERE.
**Friends, please welcome my friend, Michele Cushatt, to the blog. She’s just released a new book called I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because Of Who He Is, and I hope for your sake you will go get it. A few things you should know. 1) Michele’s my real life friend, as in we have spent overnight together, shared meals, prayed & cried and regularly text. She’s the Michele in the opening story of my next book, so that’s a fun fact for you. :) 2) I’ve watched her walk through cancer, and she is a wrestler, lover of God, and deep well. Any hard question she will ask herself, first. 3) I endorsed her new book, I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is because it ministered to me and is a tool I can eagerly recommend to my friends to go with your daily Bible reading. So do yourself a favor and get it, today. For real. And I don’t say that often.
The gift arrived when I least expected it. And when I most needed it.
A small corked jar, no bigger than a thimble. Filled with dozens of yellow-brown mustard seeds, each smaller than the head of a pin.
For months, I’d been struggling with my faith. After too many years of physical pain, I came up for a brief reprieve only to face a vast sea of spiritual pain. For nearly five years, I’d prayed for God to deliver me from cancer and suffering, to restore my life to health and protect my family from further heartache. Beyond my own prayers, thousands of friends and family and strangers offered up theirs. Add it all up and it equaled far more than a thimble jar filled with faith.
Even so, illness and death continued to stalk me. In spite of my pleas, God didn’t seem inclined to intervene.
What about my mustard seed of faith, God? I thought You said it was enough.
With books and Bibles and journals gathered around me, I searched for answers and wrestled with the God I’d always loved. I still loved Him, still believed in Him. I just didn’t understand Him. I didn’t understand His promise of power coupled with His apparent unwillingness to deliver it. We’d prayed. Fasted. Believed promises and memorized Bible verses.
Where was God?
Thus, my friend, Traci, sent mustard seeds. A Matthew 17:20 reminder for the girl who feared her fragile faith and nagging doubts meant she was a terrible Christian after all. With one glance at her thimble-sized jar, I remembered:
It isn’t the size of a girl’s faith but the presence of it that counts.
I wonder if the disciples experienced a similar angst when their best efforts to heal a boy came up short. They’d been given power to heal diseases and cast out demons. By that point, they’d done it enough times to feel a measure of confidence that healing would come once again.
Only it didn’t. No matter how many times they tried. So the boy’s father asked Jesus for help, and Jesus came through. When the disciples asked why their efforts didn’t produce results, Jesus said simply, “Because you have so little faith” (Matt. 17:20).
So little faith?
I’m confused. It seems to me they had far more faith than most.
But the disciples’ shortage of faith wasn’t a lack of belief in the power of God. They knew Jesus was able. They didn’t doubt His reality or capability.
But their expectation wasn’t sourced in relationship. They’d failed to submit their will to the will of their Father. Only there, in full submission, is a mustard seed of faith a powerful mountain- moving thing.
I do not know why some mountains move and others remain firmly in place. I’ve seen people of tall and true faith baffled by God’s lack of response. And I’ve seen people stuck in a mire of doubt and unbelief surprised by a miracle their faith doesn’t seem to deserve.
I know that belief and faith are critical pieces of this spiritual journey to the glory of heaven. But I also know that Jesus believed fully in God’s ability to deliver when He begged for deliverance the night before His death. He had more than a thimble-sized jar of faith, and yet God chose not to move His mountain.
Or, perhaps, His mountain moved after all. In the size and shape of a tomb-sealing stone. In a moment, faith moved it from here to there, and the Son of God walked out, alive.
No, God didn’t move the mountain of His crucifixion. But God moved the mountain of His death in a beautiful resurrection.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor can I unravel the mysteries of our unfathomable God. But perhaps the greatest faith, a mountain- moving faith, is one that bends low. One that submits to the will of the Father and allows the power of God to move in ways we wouldn’t have imagined.
In our tiniest mustard seed of faith, we too have access to that kind of power.
When we bow our desires to the plan of a God we love and trust, we have access to a far greater power than we’ve ever known. Resurrection power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and in me. That means when we pray for mountains to move, they move. Sometimes it’s the mountain right in front of us. Other times, it’s the bigger mountain we don’t yet see.
I still pray for healing, hoping God will grant my heart’s desire. I still pray for a body that’s renewed and a life that’s long.
But I also pray those healing prayers on bent knees, knowing God may choose to move a mountain bigger than this one.
Either way, I can trust Him to empower me. Even if all I can muster up is a mustard seed of faith.
About I AM:
Pulling from her experiences of raising children from trauma, a personal life-threatening illness, and the devastating identity crises that came to her family as a result, Michele creates safe spaces for honest conversations around the tensions between real faith and real life.
The words of Michele’s most recent book — I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of cancer during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reasons why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.
Michele and the love of her life, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long run, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele at michelecushatt.com.
This world, the recent election, the personal pressure cooker we are all in of fears and family issues and job woes and daily struggle has pushed out some of our ugly, lately.
None of us want it. I hear us, we lament it. Where did that come from, we wonder to ourselves as the ugly seeps through our cracks in late night tweets and Facebook comments.
It hurts us. We hurt. We hurt each other. It all becomes a mess.
For days, maybe weeks, I’ve been holding a lot in. I would like to say I’ve been praying every moment but the truth is, I’ve not been praying enough. Last night, I needed to get off Twitter and pray. But I didn’t. This was my great judgment lapse, and I dare say, where most great online judgment lapses start.
I had enough.
I responded back to a few wild generalizations tweeted about some of the best people I know doing Kingdom work. I spoke firmly, steadily and not out of turn. I refused to fight online – all good things. But I spoke up, for this has always been my bend: to honor my justice meter, fight for the underdog if need be, and yes, regrettably and far less spiritual, to be feisty and mouthy when I feel misrepresented, condescended and wronged. Flesh brings out my southside, and I didn’t even grow up on the southside. God has whispered to me on more than one occasion, Thanks, Lisa. Now how about you let me handle this thing? I’m a scrappy one, I’ll admit.
But even if I’m right. Even if they need to be put in their place. I am to be of higher mindset. We, the Jesus followers, are servants of the most high, and as we face difficult people and conversations we need to remember the message of I Thess. 4:1 to “…live in a way that pleases God.” Tweet in a way that pleases God. Facebook in a way that pleases God. Text in a way that pleases God. That is the only thing. All our right-fighting arguments pale in light of this message.
As I was tempted this morning to respond on social media even further, I was reminded of my own words in my forthcoming book, Put Your Warrior Boots On… “Flesh anger is the reaction of things done against us…holy anger is a response to things done against God.” And I was convicted in my flesh, confronted by the Holy Spirit with two questions to ask myself before I did:
1) Is this of offense to me, personally, or an offense to the Gospel?
2) Does God want to use me to speak boldly for Him in this moment or is my flesh needing to learn the discipline of Godly silence?
I want to get it right. I don’t always get it right. Jesus…the Kingdom of God and what is at stake is worth getting it right. Fighting for me can’t be in this, no matter how right I may feel.
The only way to know the answer to either question? Prayer. For discernment and wisdom. Otherwise, it’s tough to know the difference.
In this loud and ugly time on social media, these are the things God is speaking to me. Trusting they might also have some value for you.
Onward and forward. Only offended for the Gospel. We can do this, friends. We love Jesus enough.
p.s. I love you.
*As promised, this is the conclusion to the blog post I wrote last week. Fair warning: it’s lengthy. But I hope you’ll read every word. I believe it’s vital to both the struggles we face in the midst of ongoing cultural issues of today, answering some questions you likely have…and the vocal faith Jesus expects us as His followers to have. P.S. Press on. I love you.
After you have taken the step of faith, you must talk your faith. Those who are not afraid to announce their convictions to the world and defend them will have true stability. A universal law underlies the declaration, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10 kjv). ~Brengle, Take Time to Be Holy
I hadn’t planned to be back, full time on social media until January.
But then she changed my mind.
“Hi. You don’t know me, but I have a question for you. I hear so many of the “liberal” female Christian ministry leaders speaking out all the time about things, but the more “conservative” voices have grown quiet. It’s hard because I wonder where all the leaders I relate to have gone and why they seem afraid to speak up for some reason. Thanks for listening.”
Her comment wasn’t even on my social media feed. It was on a friend’s feed that I happened to be scrolling by in my nightly mindless scrolling. But I saw her comment and it struck me, in that way that something feels like right between the eyes. That was 9 months ago. It hasn’t left my mind since.
It was enough to change my mind about my plans and intentions, to take an extended online break from my short and blissful September-October reprieve, since after 1 book and another on the way, there’s been so much writing.
She was enough to change my mind.
I pictured her, alone in her apartment or maybe her cute house with her dog or baby on the hip or leaning against the brick outline of the coffee shop window on that city street for just a few, waiting on a friend who was late to meet…pressed enough inside to reach out to someone she admired online and leave a message to ask in the only way she knew how for someone with a bigger microphone than her to please be her representative.
I knew then: I must speak up. If I’m honest, I think Jesus carved the conviction deep in my heart and that kind of thing lingers.
(An important aside: Let me quickly address the label (conservative/liberal) issue and tell you: I didn’t come up with them, I don’t like them, and I don’t find them particularly helpful. But I also understand that in this moment with the important theological issues hinging on certain schools of thought and the leaders which adopt them, churches and people must be diligent in knowing core beliefs of who they read, listen to, and follow and should. Further, because of my Biblically conservative convictions such as these of which I clearly and previously wrote, I am considered in the conservative camp. (Though conservatives don’t quite know what to do with me as I am rather fiesty, unbridled, and tattooed.)
I wrote last week to the remnant – to remind us that we are not alone…that our conviction does not conflict with love but rather, depends upon it…and most of all…to encourage us to remain faithful to Jesus and follow Him to the very end.
The last piece of this encouragement to us is that now is the time to speak. I know we may have wondered. I know we may have thought it was for the usual ones or the loud ones or the bold ones or the ones with the most to say. But it’s the time for all of us, the ones who have the quietest voices, the ones who usually don’t get involved and just want everyone to get along, too. Jesus wants all of us to speak about who He is, what He’s done, how much He loves us, how much He loves them.
To remain silent about Jesus and the convictions following Him brings to our life is to weaken our ability to stand strong in hard times. Exercising a vocal faith is not an option we pick at the point of salvation; it is part of the package of our choice for God. When we chose God we didn’t choose a life of mere social activism. We chose the life of the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19-20). We don’t get to prefer to let someone else say it, do it, live it, disciple them, bring them to Jesus. It’s our life, responsibility, privilege.
“But it’s really volatile out there right now and I don’t want to add to it.” When it comes to politics, oh friend, I agree. When it’s for the sake of needing someone to hear our opinion, we best get over that, sleep on it, most often leave it alone. You don’t know how many nights I’ve done just that, and I know, you, too. Speaking up for Jesus should carry a different tone, driven from and done with a different heart, one that others will notice, even if they still disagree. Bold and combative are not the same. Motive and character will determine which way we land. Jesus has not called us to fight each other. But He has called us to fight for the Kingdom of God.
“But I don’t know what to say and how to say it.” For so many of us, this is the case. Often it is the latter, the how we don’t know, because we care so much and know the stakes are so high to either draw to or away from our Lord, and we take this seriously. It is why prayer is so important before speaking out – prayer, in heaps and masses, and sometimes, we stop there because God knows. But let us not let the not knowing be the excuse that keeps us from the going on record for our faith, for God knows that, too. God doesn’t need perfect orators. He needs faithful servants preaching the Gospel message with life and lips. All of us can do that.
“But I want to be known for what I’m for not for what I’m against.” I’ve heard this said a lot, as of late. I like the idea behind it – this thorough preaching with our life that we don’t have to be against anything because we are so known for what we are for there is no need for further discussion. This is just the problem. (Hold on. Remember I love you. This may get tense.) We, the lazy Christians aren’t known for the for things very well. We haven’t been preaching consistent Jesus messages that draw the world in. We haven’t been very attractive. So when we open our mouths and start preaching now, all that comes out is noise. So this may take awhile, my friends. We will have to be dedicated and patient. I’ll talk to you much more about this in Put Your Warrior Boots On but for now I want you to know that the solution is not to clam up. It is to start, from this point forward, preaching a solid Jesus first and only message with a loving heart of grounded, Biblical conviction and a proven track record of personal holiness and solid people investment so that when we develop the clout over time, people won’t be able to say we are preaching “against” anything. They will know what we are preaching for and automatically our tone will sound different.
“But what about the quote I love from St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words”? Isn’t this telling us the opposite of what you are saying? Didn’t Jesus model this, as well?” I love this quote. It’s beautiful. It’s true. Lifestyle evangelism is something I’ve written about for years. Feel free to look back in my archives. It’s all there.
In the sense that we are to live what we believe, first and foremost, and not vapidly or judgmentally gab on and on about God without substance of life, this quote is key and by the way, biblical. Friends. Isn’t this issue way past settled, I hope?
But this does not mean we don’t speak at all, so let us not misunderstand. Jesus was far from a silent Savior. He was not unnecessarily wordy but He was also not quiet, and He certainly never shied away from fighting for Kingdom things. The times He remained silent were times when He gave up fighting for His own rights, not for the Kingdom of God. When He “spoke not a Word” (Matt. 27:14) it was in reference to his silence before His accusers. Never doubt that when it came to where He stood for Christ, everyone knew.
We aren’t God. We won’t do this, perfectly. But we, the remnant, the faithful followers of Jesus Christ until the end, must exercise a vocal faith. Jesus is our life. We gave up our right to stay silent about Him when we gave our life to Him.
I don’t know what this looks like for you in your everyday life, friend. I can’t give you a perfect formula for a discussion you are considering diving into right now on your Facebook wall. But moving forward, as part of your faithful following of Jesus Christ is your vocal witness for Him, know this:
We’ve got to be honest with ourselves.“Sometimes, in order to sincerely resist the infighting of the Church and the hot button culture conflict – in our claims to not want to be known as a person against something but rather, for something – we unwittingly leave Jesus hanging. Yes, the road narrows when we go on record for our faith. True, everyone won’t like it and some, in order to jab below the belt, will call it judgmental and fighting against. But with the heart intent to be for God, it is the right and only choice to make. And we have to be strong enough to weather the unwarranted accusation and live with our truth.” ~Put Your Warrior Boots On
Let nothing be an excuse for weak witness. Let us not hide behind sin and call it subtlety and personal style. Jesus is worth more than that.
We’ve got to understand the why. It’s not charity work to go on record for what we believe; it’s the anchoring grace of God. When we speak up for God, a courage inside of us is called out and the fear place inside is overcome. Over time, this chipping away changes us for the good. Not only do we go on record for us, but we go on record in order to strengthen the body. We go on record for the young woman who reached out on social media to ask for someone to speak up and share our beliefs, so she would not feel alone. Isn’t this the point of community — to lock eyes and lift arms and humanly communicate the best we can me too? We speak up for the body of Christ to be strengthened and not fall away, just like we need people to speak up so we won’t fall away, either. I can’t help but believe that Jesus blesses those who step out and step up, first, in all faith things, including our speaking out.
We’ve got to want God the most, first. There is one reason wanting God the most is the most important thing in your life: because everything hinges on it. It is the game changer, because it changes what you fight for, what you are willing to tolerate, what you are willing to change, what you love, what you chase, what you justify, what you stake your life upon, what you spend your life doing for the rest of your life. If we don’t want God the most, we will never go on record for Him. We won’t love Him enough. We will love ourselves more. Self preservation will be more important. This issue has to be settled first and if today, you haven’t done that, I hope and pray you will. (Here’s a resource to help, if you’re interested.)
I will be taking the month of December off from blogging, as I am finishing up my next book, 5 Word Prayers, preparing for my January retreat with 50 beloved friends from 11 states all over the U.S., and enjoying the holidays with family and friends like so many of you.
But know that I am praying for you, praying for your faith to be strengthened, for you to love God more than ever in the coming days, and for Jesus to show up big in your life in 2017 like He so desperately wants to do.
And OH SO FUN...
January 2 I will be back with a brand new blog with much better navigation and fresh, new things JUST FOR YOU! And I will be telling you about a FREE 2-week Bible Study I am offering from January 16-27 just for you about how to go into 2017 ditching the typical resolutions and marching on with new hope and belief in your future! I am so very excited about all this and Put Your Warrior Boots On, coming April 2017!!
I love you. I love Jesus, the most.
It feels to me much like that holy moment when I am walking up to the stage to give a eulogy for a dear friend once, awkward and slightly raw and yet suddenly in front of a microphone and expected to say something that could help some burdened hearts and needing the Holy Spirit to take over so it’s all not a mess.
It’s a very difficult moment in Christendom, and I don’t want to hurt the burdened hearts further with some flesh form of wisdom driven by awkwardness or any other Lisa thing.
Let me first speak to motive.
I write this post for the ministry leader who called me last week and said, There are so few of us Biblically conservative Jesus followers left anymore and as a leader, I don’t know what to say or do.
I write it for the friend who voxed and the friend who wrote on my Facebook wall and the friend who texted, afraid that Christians are losing our mind and our faith and falling away, like we’re all in the movie Outbreak and it’s some kind of disease catching on and who is next and how to escape the fate, ourselves?
I write it for me, who after last Sunday when my pastor talks about the remnant in Scripture, remembers something important that in the midst of a loud culture war I think I have forgotten: that my Jesus, who is God over scores and legions, has never been a numbers guy. That’s something we modern people like to use to measure all the things, but not Him.
Instead, He used the few…to give the example of prayer (“where 2 or 3 are gathered” — Matthew 18:20), to feed the massive crowd (5 loaves and 2 fish — Gospels – Matt.14, Mark 6, John 6), to defeat the army of Midianites after purposefully dwindling Gideon’s thousands of men to a mere 300 (Judges 7), to walk through life with Him as His core 12.
And yes, He used the remnant: the “holy seed of faithful followers” to rebuild what was lost, says my Bible commentary of Isaiah 6 and 10. (It talks about this in other places in Scripture, too.)
Make no mistake my friends: God doesn’t need numbers to be God. He doesn’t need crowd approval to proceed with Kingdom plans.
Dear friends…I know it’s loud out there. I know there is differing opinion and things look confusing. But none of this matters as much as this: at this moment, does Jesus have you? Does He have me?
Does He have all of our love, all of our loyalty, all of our faithfulness, forever and ever, to the end…never ashamed of the Gospel, never able to be mislead, never wavering or putting our trust in ourselves or in someone lesser? Does He have us, really, have us, not just on Sunday at church and in theory, because we were saved, once, but daily, with our whole heart, all in with Him?
If Jesus has you, He will heal this world. He promises this. “If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chron. 7:14 ESV)
If Jesus has you, He will prove who He is. Bearing fruit to show the world the benefit of God — this is the point of why we are here — so that people will want Him. (John 15) Faithful people show the faithfulness of God. Loving people show the love of God. He has to have us, really have us, in order for us to pull this off.
If Jesus has you, He can work with the few. II Kings 19:31 (Commentary: “If just the smallest remnant of true believers retains the spark of faith, God can rebuild it into a strong nation”) Lest you ever think that a small number of committed believers is not enough for God to work with, just open your Bible and read. Story after story will convince you it is true.
I have so much more I want to write and say to us, to gather arms around us, to encourage us…we, the ones who feel mislabeled for our convictions as people devoid of love, the sting of wrongful accusation of ignorance and closemindedness for our personal commitment to the Bible, the loneliness of growing isolation from cultural lines which we didn’t chose to draw but now must stand firmly planted on our faith side of.
But make no mistake: it is not us vs. them as followers of Jesus Christ with differing theological beliefs in Christendom. It is the The Kingdom of God vs. the prince of darkness. Let us not waste time buying into his ploy and fighting each other a minute longer. Right now, I’m calling him out for his tactic to distract us with the infighting and calling us out for our buying into it.
In this hard moment, let us not become discouraged, prideful or jaded. Let us not become deceived or slip into despair or fear. Let not haughtiness or right fighting take hold, lest we fall into sin and dishonor God so great. The remnant is about Jesus and staying faithful to Him, not a man-made label it applies to. The qualification is faithfulness, so let us alone be found faithful to Him.
So as we determine that yes, Jesus does have us…yes, we will be the remnant and will stay faithful to God, faithful to His Word, living and believing everything it says until the end, I just want to encourage us with a few quick things…
We are not alone. Because God made us for community, the thought of isolation results in despair. This, the being alone, is a lie of Satan. At the same time, crowds and majority can’t determine our wellness, as if we have chosen right and others chosing the same proves that fact. If that’s what we seek, let us see how much we still rely on others to give us the endorsement that belongs only to God. This is the moment the Church has needed to rid ourselves of the encumberment of man’s approval, like never before. It is good. It is right. It is the sifting, so it is uncomfortable, but may we embrace the loosening for the health of our very soul. And know this: though we need not look over our shoulder to see what the crowd is doing, rest assured that there are indeed scores of believers all over this world with hands raised and hearts yielded and Bibles clutched, grounded in Jesus and proclaiming His greatness, so don’t you ever feel alone. Friend, it is a lie if you think this. You are not.
We must get past the numbers. Right now, our focus has to shift from quantity to quality. “Standing up for God will be learning to accept being in the minority, as lonely as that sounds. We who follow Jesus will need to determine we will stand up for Him even if we stand alone.” ~Put Your Warrior Boots On (releasing April 17) As the squeeze is on in this moment, with conflict and differing beliefs and sadly, even volatility in the body, the remnant must come to grips with the role we have been sleeping on. We have to be willing to be the few instead of looking over our shoulder to see who will join us. Few will be faithful. Few will stay true. Few will believe. These are things Jesus says in the Bible, and we must stop wishing for the crowd when Jesus told us it would be not so. It says in Isaiah that the highway of holiness is narrow and few will travel down it. We need to get used to this.
Your conviction does not conflict with love. This is such a wrong message, such a damaging, untruthful message that is being preached in society that I am honestly so fighting mad at Satan for skillfully perpetrating it and us buying in. Because the Word of God is so very clear about this and so much we believe about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross hinges on the conviction and standard by which the love and grace of this act is even made possible. I believe it is the sovereignty of God that I have written Put Your Warrior Boots On to be released in April because it thoroughly addresses this and so many currently relevant issues, before so many current issues even took place. I cannot wait to put it in your hands and will be diving in much more in depth, soon. But for now I want you, remnant, to know that staying faithful to the Word of God is not in conflict with loving people. In fact, it is the only way you can truly, agape love. Grace and love are so abused and misused in society we cringe at the very suggestion our life is in conflict with that and rightfully so with what we are being preached. It’s just not the right message. We should tremble at the thought that we tarnish such a gift by offering cheap, wordly love without the attachment of conviction and holy standard. God forgive us all for cheapening by creating our own version and definition of love.
I have one more thing I want to tell you. It might be the most important thing, yet. I’ll tell you Wednesday on the blog.
I hope you’ll come back, then.
In the meantime…p.s. I love you.
Oh Jesus, may you fully and completely have us.