Guest Blog from an Apostle

2 Corinthians 3 (ESV)

Ministers of the New Covenant

3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.  

 

C.S. Lewis shares some thoughts. Christians aren’t bad, we are in the process of being made new.

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 198-199.

Becoming a Follower, Walking In Love

despair

This week I spent some time reading the book of Ephesians.
A few things in chapter 5 really caught my attention.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

I have always associated “walking in love” as having really good behavior. But it seems that has more to do with me being very hard on myself rather than what Paul is actually telling us.

Now, I’m not off of the hook from trying to “imitate God,” but I am completely pointed to the fact that when I fail to imitate God that there is a sacrifice that I’m to place my faith in. That sacrifice is Jesus.

My behavior always, at some point fails me.

Your behavior always, at some point fails you.

I do pretty good for periods of time, some longer or shorter depending on the area. But doing pretty good doesn’t do me a bit of good. In fact, my behavior and my failure to maintain “good behavior” is the thing that is supposed to point me back to my need for Jesus.

When I walk in love. I am walking with faith that Jesus has covered my sin, screw ups.

I heard from a friend today that found himself in one of those funks that we all fall into. His words, “I’m disgusted with myself.”

I’m having a pretty good day, behavior wise. If I focused on that it would have been easy for me to point back to him, “You need to do better.” I could have told him to correct the behavior. Instead of placing my behavior for the day as the standard for him. But a few days ago, my behavior failed me also.

I’m learning that Jesus sacrifice isn’t a reason for me to misbehave, nor is it something to shame myself with. Jesus gave himself up as a sacrifice willingly. In fact HANK (Hebrew Author Not Known) writes:

Hebrews 12:1–3 (ESV)

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

So as you are becoming a follower, just as I am, don’t despise yourself for the sin you fall into. Recognize the powerful love that Jesus had giving himself up with joy for the redemption and cleansing of your soul.

We may be tempted to shame. Jesus isn’t ashamed of us. He is glad to have us in relationship with Him.

Walk in His love, not in your shame.

That is motivation to live a life being transformed by the power of divine love!

Big Things Through Small Obedience, One Girls Story In Becoming a Follower

kingdom Dara

Dara Cates, a senior at Rockwood High School and #32 on the ladies basketball team, has been selected by Christ In Youth (CIY) to be part of the “Kingdom Worker Crash.” Christ in Youth amplifies the call on students’ lives to become Kingdom workers through trips, events, and resources. It was on one of these trips that Dara was challenged by one of the resources that are provided. Dara was one of twenty from over 49,000 students that attended CIY events in 2013.

You may be asking, “What is a Kingdom Challenge Card?” The Kingdom Challenge is a card sealed in an envelope that is passed out after completing a week at the CIY MOVE event. The students are not required to open the cards but must commit to completing the challenge held within the sealed card before they open the card. Some of the cards hold challenges as difficult as feeding 500 families for Thanksgiving or providing 500 coats for children that need them. Other challenges include committing to studying one Bible personality every week, learning a foreign language and going on a mission trip to a country that speaks that language, or even drinking nothing but tap water for one year while studying the world’s water shortage.

The challenge Dara received in 2012 was to adopt an elderly couple to visit and serve by doing yard work, dishes or other tasks that they needed help with for one year. Initially, Dara had a difficult time finding a situation that she could commit to. She was very discouraged and overwhelmed with the thought that she may not be able to honor the commitment. After praying about the situation and seeking wisdom from Christian brothers and sisters at the Glen Alice Christian Church she found a window to pursue the commitment.
While visiting her grandmother, Betty East, in the nursing home she befriended Kathleen Richards. Kathleen and Betty had been friends and acquaintances for many years. They had both been members at The Glen Alice Christian Church when they were younger. When Betty was able to return to her home Kathleen had to stay in the nursing home. Dara committed to continue her visits to the nursing home. The result, Jesus taught Dara the value of serving in His name.

Dara continued visiting with Kathleen, sometimes spending up to four hours at a time with her. Dara also began to provide The Lord’s Supper for Kathleen after church on Sunday afternoon or other times during the week and praying with her during visits. The bond that formed wasn’t only kind, it was spiritual. The relationship changed both Dara and Kathleen as they witnessed The Holy Spirit transform them and teach them through the relationship. Christ is REALLY alive inside and works through His people who accept Him as Lord, Savior and King.

On July 8th 2013, the afternoon that the GACC youth group were loading up to go back to CIY MOVE, Dara and the rest of the GACC youth group supported Dara as she bid her friend Kathleen an honorable “farewell, for now” at her burial.

Through serving in the name of Christ, Dara, Kathleen, the GACC youth group and countless others have experienced the mystery and power that exists when Christ becomes the focus of life and purpose of service. Glen Alice Christian Church is just one example of what happens to the Body of Christ as they follow the Head of the church, Jesus Christ.

Dara and Kathleen are simply supporting actors in the story of Jesus Christ as He continues leading His Body, the church, to establish the Kingdom of God in the world. Don’t mistake this as a simple humanitarian act of kindness. Jesus has used this simple act of obedience to display how deeply we are connected through the power of His blood and the presence of His Spirit as he revealed Himself through their obedience to serve in Jesus name. Kathleen and Dara’s actions were empowered by the Living Christ to teach them more about Himself through their obedience to one another.

Dara is being recognized as a Kingdom Worker. She never dreamed that this amount of attention would be placed upon her, she simply desired to follow Jesus into the places that He still leads us today. Through that obedience Jesus displayed His power.