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Why I visited a mosque

I thought you follow Jesus why would you then spend your weekend in an Islamic mosque? Let me answer this.

This past Saturday, along with 15 others from my church family, I visited an Islamic mosque learning and asking about the Islamic faith. Myself and the other women all wore scarves over our heads out of respect. It would be like a muslim woman wearing a dress to worship in a Christian church. Wearing a dress does not make her a Christian. She would just be dressing for the environment out of respect so we wanted to show them the same respect. We all listened to the Imam teach us what they believe in the Islamic faith. One thing I learned is Jesus is mentioned in the Quran more times than Muhammad is among many other take aways.

Why would a group of Christ followers do this? The same reason we would learn what a Buddhist believes, a Mormon believes, or a Hindu believes. Jesus after he rose from the dead before he ascended to the Father commissioned his church to go to all peoples and make disciples. All through out the Bible you see the story of God redeeming a people through Christ alone for himself from every tribe, nation and tongue. God reveals his plan for his church to make disciples of others when he tells Abraham that he is blessed to be a blessing to all peoples in Genesis 12.

A brother in Christ that once taught at my church  taught on spiritual gifts. His teaching in summary was that God gives his body all different spiritual gifts but he has given us all the gospel and what are you doing with it? What are you doing with the gospel? Are you sharing it? Are you proclaiming it? Are you speaking it? Are you giving your life to the gospel to be made known to all peoples? Christ follower you have good news of the saving power of Jesus in you and you are his ambassador here on earth as if God were making his appeal to others through you to be reconciled to God. “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of  God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

So back to why I visited a mosque. If I am going to be obedient in loving people well and sharing the gospel all for the glory of God I want to be educated about a persons faith so that I can understand the differences in what they believe and the gospel. The differences are everything and is the difference in eternal life in Christ and eternal death. I want to be able to speak with people not at them and be able to share the gospel.

Many in our day are scared of Muslims. They think they are all radical terrorists. A friend gave the illustration that would be like saying that all Christians are like the KKK. My muslim friends are actually some of the most friendliest, welcoming, loving people I know. These past few months muslim women who have seeked refuge in our country have immediately welcomed me into their lives with great joy.

Tolerance is the cry of our day. But God is not tolerant. This is clear in scripture. What kind of Father would send his only Son to be be tortured by man and to receive the full wrath of God for the sin man has committed against him if he is tolerant of another way to him, if there could be another way for justice for the sin man has committed against him. Jesus cried out in prayer to his Father before he went to the cross if there is another way may the cup be lifted from him yet not as I will, but as you will(Matthew 26:39). Jesus submitted to his Father being obedient to death even on a cross. Jesus says in John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father except though me.” There is no other way for man to receive reconciliation to God except through faith in Christ alone. Man is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Oh how he loves us that he would pour out his rich mercy in Christ making us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

So if I am going to love my muslim neighbor that does not mean tolerance of what they believe. It means that I am going to die to self and love them well in word and deed sharing the gospel and my very life. We can only be obedient to share because Jesus promises to be with us as we go out and make disciples and there is much joy in obedience.

There are currently 3 BILLION people that live amongst peoples where the christian population is between ZERO and two percent. Not only will people probably live and die without ever hearing the gospel they will also live and die without ever meeting a Christian. But God in his sovereignty is using tragedy for his glory. He is bringing peoples from many different people groups to a geographical region where there are many Christians. Now these people not only have an opportunity to meet a Christian but they also have a chance to now hear the gospel if a Christ follower will simply be obedient to speak and tell them loving them well.

“How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them.” Romans 10:14

Jesus gave his very life so that all who see their need for him and come to him and receive him as Lord and Savior may have reconciliation to God as it pleases the Father to adopt us into his family in Christ and give us the Kingdom. The one that comes to him believing and trusting and following him is to do the same thing giving their very lives obeying his great commission to his church.

The words of Jesus “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-10

 

In Christ,

Lane

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I’m going there

I’m going to go there. Honestly my own fearful flesh I battle has kept me from going here sooner with written words for the internet world to see. I think it’s a fear of being misunderstood. A fear of offending someone I love. A fear of being looked at as some kind of religious freak. A fear of my own reputation and coming across as someone yelling scripture to you. If you read further know you are choosing to read so I am ok. I will be ok if I offend you. My heart is not one of condemnation in writing but love. Jesus offended people. He did so much people put him to death.

The truth is I don’t see myself as religious in the least bit. I am a follower of Jesus and he is either just religion to you or reality. He truly can’t be both. He’s either fairytale or truth. Know if I offend you its because I love you and I hurt more than ever for Truth to be heard not someone’s idea of it. Truth is not an idea. Truth has a name. Truth is Jesus. Have you ever thought about why Jesus offended people so much? Jesus came saying he is Lord and he had all authority. Why would people kill someone if all he was saying was to love people and doing good deeds for them? Jesus can not simply be a good person to you and someone’s teaching you like. Tim Keller says it beautifully here.

“I believe you’ll see that in the end you can’t simply like anybody who makes claims like those of Jesus. Either he’s a wicked liar or a crazy person and you should have nothing to do with him or he is who he says he is and your whole life has to revolve around him and you have to throw everything at his feet and say command me.”

 Jesus taught come and die so you can live. Pick up your cross daily and follow me. We are to die to our own self righteousness and come to Jesus receiving his righteousness. This is so radical. Jesus paid a radical price when he died for our sin. Death could not hold him because no sin was in him before his Father and its when we come to Jesus we can come to the Father being adopted into the eternal family of God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus the wrath of God lays fully on each one of us for the sin we have committed against God who is set apart, not like us. He alone is without any need  and is all powerful, good, omnipresent, omniscient, and sovereign over all things. To call any sin, sin you have to look at who you sinned against. God reveals himself to us in his Word. We can not choose bits and pieces of what to believe and what is relevant. Truly the whole Bible is true to you or none of it is. You can not pick and choose.

If you believe the Bible is God’s Word you have to believe everything that’s in it. If you don’t believe the Bible is fully true how can you even know who God is? You see the thing about the Bible is it’s not just an ordinary book and can not be read in an ordinary way. All scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is God’s Word and if you dismiss away the Word  of the Great I am you are dismissing God himself.

The Bible is all or nothing. It is either foolish or truth revealed in written words. Jesus is all or nothing; he spits out the lukewarm.

You can not explain away scriptures that speak about homosexuality as a sin without changing God’s Word.

You can not ever ever ever say your body is your own and you have the right to kill life that God is creating in the womb without changing God’s Word.

You can not ever say that there is any other way to God through any other than Jesus without changing God’s Word.

You can not say its ok to turn your back on refugees as a follower of Jesus without changing God’s Word.

You can not put your ultimate hope in a countrys’ safety and prosperity as a follower of Jesus without changing God’s Word.

Whew….Did I miss any of the hot topics that Christians are misunderstood about and cause division? Now you know the reason for the title.

 

It was through reading my Bible alone by myself when I was 26 years old that the Lord poured out his grace upon me showing me my deep, deep sin. I saw my sin for the first time because I saw who my sin was against for the first time. Woe is me, I come undone before the Lord God Almighty. The only way to ever draw near, to know him is through coming to him under the precious blood of God himself who took on flesh because of his great love and mercy. It’s all grace so no one can boast(Ephesians 2). Oh how he loves us that we may become children of God!

And if the God who revealed himself to me in his Word has any error about himself or anything in the Bible that I can take at my own understanding and twist and he is ok with then I will say I am to be pitied above all men.

The Bible is either God’s Word to you or its another book with religious ideas. It can not be both. And if it’s God’s Word I have to say reading it might just change your life. Coming to the Bible humbly asking God to help you understand will cause you to fall on you face and rest in the blood of Jesus and not looking back.  If you need to know where to start please reach out.

So friend wherever you are reading this know I love you. I do. Forgive me for being slow to share. It was my own reputation I had to learn to be willing to die too and being ok counting the cost.

Thankful for the precious blood that saved a wretch of a sinner like me,

Lane

 

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Self Pity

Elisabeth Elliot said it perfectly. “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing that has the power to destroy you.”

I have found this to be so true.  The root of self pity is pride and thinking we deserve something better. We can never be content when our eyes are fixed purely on a circumstance. Happiness is dependent on a circumstance but joy is dependent in a person. The world will tell you do what makes you happy but God tells us the secret really isn’t in the circumstance at all. “I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). It all goes back to Jesus himself.

Don’t fix your eyes on the circumstance. The secret is never in the circumstances its in knowing the giver of joy in those circumstances good and hard. And joy has a name….Jesus. Happiness is the worlds substitute for joy and always depends on a circumstance. “You can’t depend on happiness but you can always depend on joy.”(Juanita K.) Joy comes in knowing Jesus and keeping your eyes fixed on him. I have experienced the trauma of self pity, the trauma of  taking my eyes off of Jesus and fixing my eyes on fleshly desires. His grace is always greater than our failures. When our hearts fail, He does not. When we are faithless he is still faithful. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and knows just how to care for us when things are easy and hard.

Jesus says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30..emphasis mine)

Here we see Jesus saying come, learn, and rest. It’s a daily learning from Christ once we come to him. The believer has already taken Jesus’ yolk upon them and taken off their own.  You don’t earn his yolk you receive it. Its all grace. Your own striving stops. Then we learn and its the walking in Christ where rest is found. Once you’ve received his yolk you don’t try to go and do your own work with your own yolk, you learn from Jesus and carrying his. A.W. Tozer says its a 1000 deaths to self this learning to walk in Christ. You see all through the New Testament the Apostle Paul will speak and live out this dying to self daily. If we are wearing his yolk but trying to still wear our own we miss the joy in the obedient walk with Jesus. This is why pride, why self pity, is so devastating. When we try to do things our own way we miss fully the joy and the purpose we’ve been made for.

Hear Jesus’ words, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 What is a disciple? “A learner that is learning how to live in the power of and express outwardly the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ”(Al Henson). Even our humbling ourselves, our learning,  is a gift from the Lord that he helps us with. We can’t do anything apart from him. We are always learning daily when we humble ourselves and learn from him.

“And in this knowledge-in knowing Him-we can finally rest.”

“The rest that Jesus offers only comes when we humble ourselves and submit to Him. This is why Jesus uses the image of a yoke, Jesus is calling us to submit to Him as our true master. But this can only happen when we ‘learn of Him’-when we are humbled as he is humble.” (Taken from Humble Roots  by Hannah Anderson.)

I go back to the beginning of this post.  “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing that has the power to destroy you”(Elisabeth Elliot). The joy is in the surrendering self and learning and resting in Jesus.

Thankful Gods heart is always greater when I fail,

Lane

For more reading:

Camp in Phillipians and Galations in the Bible

A.W. Tozer  The Crucified Life

Hannah Anderson  Humble Roots

Elisabeth Elliot(anything she writes:))

I’m not a huge fan of devotional readers but this is a great one Keep a Quiet Heart

 

 

 

 

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Shells

My husband loves me in so many little ways. I don’t really praise him on social media very much…it’s not his style.  One of the ways I’m so grateful for how he loved me this past week was he kept the kids along with my parents so I could have times ALONE to do one of my favorite things to be still and read while we were away at the beach on family vacation. With two littles that keep me busy my time to read in long stretches other than staying up until 1:00am comes few and far between. I was truly so thankful for sweet time with the Lord as I was shepherded by two sisters writings pointing me to the Good Shepherd of my soul.

One day at 5:00 the young man who picks up beach chairs came by to collect the chair and umbrella I was under. He asked me this question about some seashells that were sitting in the chair “Would you like to keep these shells?”

I simply told him no thank you but in my mind all I could think was I would be such a fool to not give up my shells.

“With what misgivings we turn over our lives to God, imagining somehow that we are about to lose everything that matters. Our hesitancy is like that of a tiny shell on the seashore, afraid to give up the teaspoonful of water it holds lest there not be enough in the ocean to fill it again. Lose your life, said Jesus, and you will find it. Give it up, and I will give you all. Can the shell imagine the depth and plentitude of the ocean? Can you and I fathom the riches, the fullness, of God’s love?”  ~Taken from The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliott.

 For the one that gives up their shell who receives Christ as Lord and Savior hear and know the truth that you are secure in Christ. But why do we struggle to go looking for our little bit of water we had in our shell once we’ve given it up? Why do we try to hang on to the little bit of control and comfort we think we have? When we are looking for yesterdays water or tomorrows water we are blind to the new mercies God has poured out for today and the purpose for how he wants us to use what he has given each day for his glory.  One of my favorite quotes so simple and so profound I heard from Janet Howard, Elisabeth Elliot’s sister in law.

“Let your yes be a continual yes.”

That may have been so simple you read right past that quote. Let’s go back and read that little one again. “Let your yes be a continual yes.” Do not try to go looking for your old water to fill your shell once you’ve surrendered to Christ. The joy comes in the surrendered daily death to self to walk in sweet fellowship with God. God’s compassions never cease for they are new every morning whether the waters look calm or rough. He will fill you with everything you need in Christ. Trust he will give you your daily bread as you abide in Christ. Don’t look for yesterdays water when you are in an ocean of grace today. Don’t go looking for tomorrows water either. Enjoy the surrendered daily moment by moment joy of taking up your cross and following Jesus where all joy is found as he fills you with living water through the Holy Spirit.

Just as I was alone on the beach answering the man about keeping seashells we all have to individually give an answer to God. No one else can give an answer for you.

With a continual yes in Christ,

Lane

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves  and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25) 

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Obedience

Feelings

Jesus has feelings. Scripture tells us that Jesus wept. He enjoyed fellowship with his closest friends. He attended weddings. He was betrayed 3 times by the one who claimed to love him the most. He was misunderstood. He was wrongly accused.  “We do not have a great high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin.”

Jesus never let his feelings get in the way of obedience. Jesus even sweated “in what was like drops of blood falling to the ground” as he prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus did not submit to his feelings; he submitted to his Father.

Remember the catchy old saying “What Would Jesus Do?” I had the wrist band in many colors. I’ve had a couple sisters in Christ teach me “We never have to ask what would Jesus do, we just have to look at what he did.” Jesus lived a full surrendered life lived in obedience for the glory of God at whatever the cost even when he didn’t feel like it.

Warning here….I will get personal on this blog friends out of love for God and love for you. I hope this is a place that only points you to Jesus and encouraging you as you follow him so I will add application questions. Know I’m preaching these things to myself always. Where are you following your feelings verses a life of surrendered obedience rooted in Gods Word? Are you reading your Bible to even know what obedience to him looks like or are you going off of someone else’s teaching that makes you feel good? Are you giving God partial obedience but holding some back because it feels hard? Are you following what culture feels is appropriate or what God has said? Are you following your feelings when you’ve been hurt by the one you love? Maybe you aren’t even feeling love for the one you said you would love until death to us part. Maybe you are lonely and wondering if anyone sees or cares. Maybe you feel like you need a glass of wine to unwind from the day to help with your stress/nerves(note drinking a glass a wine is not bad but if its to help you escape feelings or help you feel comfortable in a situation instead of finding satisfaction in God this would be called what the Bible says is drunkenness). Maybe you aren’t feeling like going to worship with your family after a long week. Maybe you feel you need just a little recognition for that act of service you did so you post a picture. Maybe you are feeling deep physical pain and struggling to trust God. I could go on and on with this list…you can see where I’m going.

Lets look at what Jesus did…”For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Jesus also right when he began his public ministry was tempted for 40 days straight in the dessert by Satan and each time Jesus followed a temptation with scripture. Satan even thought he was being wise by quoting scripture out of context. This shows the importance of camping in your Bible daily taking in God’s Word.

It is ok to feel. God desires for us to feel the depths of his love. We see clearly in the Bible that Jesus felt deeply but the key is turning over our agenda when our feelings aren’t in line with Gods Word. We are to trust and obey in spite of our feelings.  So how do you obey when your feelings are going against everything God’s Word says….you fix your eyes on the joy set before you. You fix your eyes on Jesus. We know we have so much to look forward too in Christ, now and for all eternity. We can look forward to the day that our feelings will fully be made new. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Jesus makes all things new including our feelings!

I’m so thankful we have a Savior that didn’t follow his feelings because if he had we would all still be drowning in our sin deserving the full wrath of God. We have a Savior that “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even on a cross.” Oh what a Savior we have, Jesus Christ our Lord!

Lord will you help me and all reading to walk as you did not based on our feelings but in full submission and obedience with thanksgiving fixing our eyes on you Jesus the author of our faith.

Thankful for Jesus’ obedience,

Lane

**Also I will try to include my scripture references for those that want to go into further reading. This is what I truly hope you will do.

Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 2:12, Hebrews 4:15, John 11:35, John 18-19, Mark 22:42-43, Matthew 4, Revelation 21:4

Also more reading on obedience when you don’t feel like it:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lay-aside-the-weight-of-not-feeling-like-it

https://www.amazon.com/Be-Still-Soul-Elisabeth-Elliot/dp/0800759893/ref=la_B000APCY04_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495891208&sr=1-12