Monday, May 27, 2013

Lukewarm or Radical?

"Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for 'extreme' Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call 'radical' what Jesus expected of all His followers."
--Francis Chan, Crazy Love 

A great wrestling has been going on in my spirit for months...years really.  And, with months of seeking and praying and pleading for clarity, every road leads in the same direction.  Every book I read points to the same conclusion.  And Scripture spells it out so plainly that I wonder why in the world anyone could ever miss it.  But we do miss it.  Many, many are missing it.  

Here's the thing...  To truly be a follower of Jesus requires an obedience, a lifestyle and choices that are viewed by others as radical.  If we think otherwise, we are deceiving ourselves.  

Give this a try...  Get alone with God and read through the 4 Gospels and make note of what Jesus said, and do not change His words or insert, "Well, He didn't really mean that...."  Really...go ahead and try it.  It's uncomfortable and downright difficult.  Why else would He have said that the road is narrow?  He IS the only way to heaven, and the only option is to be a true disciple of His.  


I struggle with this.  Why is it that we can be in Christian circles and have Christian friends, and yet very few of us actually have lives that look like Jesus?  In a church of 100 or 2,500 or 10,000 people, how many can stand up and say in all honesty that they are truly following Him?  And I mean REALLY following Him...not just going to church, having a quiet time every day, singing hymns or choruses, and reading the Bible at the breakfast table with our children.  These are all good things, but where are the ones who are seriously, really following Him in the tough things, the uncomfortable things, the seemingly radical things..the very things Jesus did and told us to also do?  

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." --Mark 10:2

This is just one verse out of many with similar commands in the Gospels.  Why do we read a verse like this and immediately shoot up a wall of defense?  We are very quick to protect our comfort.  We are quick to say Jesus didn't mean what He said or that it was for a different time period or anything at all to make it less of a sacrifice for us.  Every time Jesus outlines what it requires to be a follower of Him, the terms are not easy. Where did we ever get the idea that it is simply praying a prayer and getting baptized and going to church regularly?  Following Jesus is a radical obedience into the hard things.   Anything else is lukewarm.  Seriously...chew on that for several minutes and don't let it slip out of your mind without affecting you.

Anything else besides radical obedience is lukewarm.  

"So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth." --Revelation 3:16
Oh, I honestly fear that we do not believe Him in this!  We suffer from a disease we don't even know we have...we are riddled with unbelief.  Do we get it...really GET IT?  Anything less than radical obedience to Him is lukewarm, and He will spew (vomit, puke, throw up) the lukewarm out of His mouth.  Surely this has to kick us into seriously reevaluating our lives, our motives, our spiritual state....

The fact is, He just wasn't interested in those who fake it.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that the seed is the truth (the Word of God).  When the seed is flung onto the path, it is heard but quickly stolen away.  When the seed is tossed onto the rocks, no roots take hold; there is an appearance of depth and growth because of the good soil, but it is only surface level.  When the seed is spread among the thorns, it is received but soon suffocated by life's worries, riches and pleasures.  But when the seed is sown in good soil, it grows, takes root and produces fruit.
My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. 
--Francis Chan, Crazy Love 

Anything other than radical obedience is lukewarm.  The question is: What does this kind of obedience look like in MY LIFE?   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Living My Life as Art

I heard Ann Voskamp talk of her life being art.  That phrase stuck with me and kept pulling me in deeper.  Amazing how God can use one single phrase to narrow down life…to wake us from slumber and put our feet back on the path He intended us to walk.

My life…this one solitary life…is an art form offered to the living God who created me.  How do we lose sight of this?  Perhaps the monotonous clouds the amazing.  Perhaps vacuuming doesn't feel like art.  Perhaps the mundane makes us pause and longingly look out the window and wonder what's over the next bend.  Perhaps the weight of today's business stumbles feet that were made for dancing and skipping.

What if we were to truly grasp the idea that this one life…this one day…this one moment in time is a gift of craftsmanship we can offer to our Creator?  Does He not delight in birds flying and bees buzzing and the trees producing the kind of fruit they were created to yield?

Cannot scrubbing the bathtub or watering the plants or bathing our children or ironing shirts be an offering to Him?  And not just an offering but a beautiful mosaic.

One life lived purposely, even in the mundane, the daily, the monotonous, the duties...  The idea of this very thing being ART does shift the paradigm.  If every meal becomes a work of artistry, even the meager can become grand.  If every chore is entered into with fingers and soul bent on producing something beautiful and unique, would not every crevice hum?

Why would we simply survive day to day, getting through the to-do lists, when we could choose to instead thrive?  To CHOOSE to be an artist with this very moment, this breakfast, this load of laundry, this sink full of dishes, this story time, this science lesson, this day, this trial, this season.

And remember the servant who was trusted with a little.  If we are faithful with this little we have already been given, He will entrust us with more.  He has to test us and prove us in the little things to prepare us for even larger territory.

Eric Ludy pointed out so fervently this point in a message he recently gave.  Was it not King David who was told he'd be king but then sent out to be a shepherd?  He shepherded those sheep with skill as if he were shepherding a nation…faithful in the little things.  He was tested with a lion and a bear before He was sent out to defeat Goliath.  And all these trials and hardships and monotony of shepherd life were testing grounds to ready him for a broader range of leadership…kingship. 

Today let my life be an offering...a work of art…in the little things He has given me to do this day, this moment.  Let me be tested and proven faithful to not only do those little things but to do them beautifully, gracefully…as a craftsmanship to the one who gave me breath.  It is in these little things that we are being prepared for even more Kingdom work.