Missions March: An all-call to Christians everywhere

A natural response of our human nature of infortitude to give up missions because we “can’t do it all.”

But, Christians, we don’t have only our sin nature of infortitude.  We have the living God within us, too.  The sin nature inside us is dying, dying, dead.  The God inside us is living, living, alive.  So which of these two should we follow?

If “I can’t do it all” is really a reason worth for giving up on something, why do anything for God at all?

I am not likely to ever have the impact in my writing that, for example, C.S. Lewis did.  But that doesn’t stop me from writing.  I know I do reach people with my blogs–even if it’s only one or two.  I’m delighted when a friend or family member sends me an email or facebook response.  I remember especially one blog I did in which an unsaved friend of mine commented that he liked it.  I didn’t think, Well that wasn’t worth it–I only reached 1 friend.  I think instead, Glory to God!  I’ve reached someone!

Sometimes, I don’t know that I reach anyone at all.  I’m not sure that all my blogs are helpful, and I know my writing is far from perfect.  At times, I spend lots of time struggling for the words, or I abandon an idea after a painful amount of time on it.

But that doesn’t keep me from writing.

I write because God has given me this gift–and I am expected to use it for His Kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.

“After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’

“The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’

“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’

“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness.’

“People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.”

(Matthew 25:14-30, CEB)

In Jesus’ parable about the three servants who were given money to take care of while their master was away, two servants went to work, taking risks and investing, and they had profit to show for it in the end.  One servant didn’t go to work at all, but was so fearful of making a bad decision that he stuck the money in a hole in a field, carefully marked where it was, and undug it when his master returned to give it back.

What’s so alarming about the parable is that the servant didn’t lose the money his master gave him, and yet he is condemned to the same place where others who are lost go in Jesus’ parables–a place of darkness and separation from God.

One maxim this parable teaches me is that you can’t just do nothing and be a Christian.  Those two ideas are mutually incompatible.  To be a Christian, you must have faith in Christ Jesus to save you.  And by the very nature of what faith is–the act of believing, really believing–you must act.  You can’t accept God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ and be unchanged.  It’s impossible.

Don’t believe the lie that we might as well despair and the whole world is going to Hell in a handbasket.  That kind of defeatism won’t bring anybody to Jesus–so where do you think that idea comes from?

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)

I know what Spirit my God has given me–and it isn’t one that gives up on this world!

See, the servants in Jesus’ parable didn’t come back to their master and say, “Guess what?  I made an infinite amount of coins while you were gone!”  They didn’t even come back and say, “Guess what?  I made a zillion coins while you were gone!”  They didn’t even come back and say, “Guess what?  I made a million coins while you were gone!”

They didn’t even come back and say, “Guess what?  I made a thousand coins while you were gone!”  And they didn’t even come back and say, “Guess what?  I made a hundred coins while you were gone!”

And they didn’t even come back and say, “Guess what?  I made ten coins while you were gone!”

The servant who got 5 coins earned 5 more coins.  5.

The servant who got 2 coins earned 2 more coins.  2.

But the master’s praise for these servants was zealous!  The focus of his praise wasn’t who made more money, but that they both worked and made money.

The servant who got 1 coin earned 0 more coins.  0.

He was not condemned because he had only 1 coin to begin with.  And he was not condemned because he hadn’t made 5 more coins or 2 more coins.  He was condemned because he’d made nothing out of what his master had given him.  It had been a huge waste.  The master could have given that extra coin to one of the other servants, and they would have used that coin for his kingdom.

Do you realize that God has given us all gifts?  There is nobody “giftless”.  Find the most lost, most depraved person you can, and I guarantee you that God gave that person a gift, too.  But whether a person chooses to use that gift–that is another matter.  God has given you what you need.  Are you using it?

The Bible is clear that we don’t all have the same gifts, but that each gift is important and necessary.

My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts.I want you to remember that before you became followers of the Lord, you were led in all the wrong ways by idols that cannot even talk.Now I want you to know that if you are led by God’s Spirit, you will say that Jesus is Lord, and you will never curse Jesus.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord,and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.

 The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit.To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sickor the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God’s Spirit is present. Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean.But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.

The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does.Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God’s Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.

Our bodies don’t have just one part. They have many parts.Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the foot still belong to the body?Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body?If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing.But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.

A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part.It takes many parts to make a single body.That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet.In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts,but we don’t have to be modest about other parts.

God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.

Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body.

(1 Corinthians 12:1-27, CEV)

Paul compared each Christian’s work to a piece of the body.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live without eyes, ears, nose, fingers, toes, elbows, knees, or anything else.  Even pieces that seem like “eh, they don’t matter” are essential.  For example, I don’t sit and think about how nice my tailbone is.  But if my tailbone were broken, I guarantee you, I’d be thinking about how important my tailbone is.  The tailbone connects to so many muscles that when it’s broken the effect is terribly painful and crippling.

You aren’t good at teaching Sunday School?  That’s ok.  You’re not getting out of serving God.  🙂  Peter gives a big list of gifts God has given us, and yours doesn’t have to be the same as Billy Graham’s.  I guarantee you, God has given you at least one gift.  The question is, how will you use the gifts He’s given you?

Amy Carmichael is one of the most famous missionaries ever.  But did you know that Amy was bedridden for much of the last 20 years of her life?  What missions could she do from her bed?  She continued to run the safehouse God had given her to establish for girls in India forced into temple slavery.  GOD was at work in her life–not her!  And because GOD was the one at work, He could work as easily through her when she was in bed as He could when she was traveling around the country.  (Through her writing while she was on bed rest, and the testimony of her life, other missionaries like Jim and Elisabeth Elliot felt a burn in their hearts to serve God.)

My friend Lena, who died this year, brought family, friends, and neighbors to Christ through her cooking.  She would bring others to her house for a meal, or drop a pie off at their house.  She is one of the greatest missionaries I have known in my lifetime, and yet most of what she did was done by way of peach cobblers (and other treats).

Now was it really a peach cobbler that brought friends and neighbors to God?  Of course not.  Was it really a bedridden woman who brought child slaves in India to God?  Of course not.  It always has been, and always will be, the power of God.

And that is why we should rejoice!  It is not up to me to bring the world to Christ.  It is not even up to me to write a quality blog.  All I have to do is trust God within me to work through me.  If I listen to His call in my life, I will have profit to show Him on the day I die.

Jesus gives us the ability to go fishing for people.  With Him, it’s possible.  Without Him, it’s impossible.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV)

We can’t do it all, and we’re not asked to do it all.  All I’m asked, all I’m commanded to do is to take the gift or gifts God has given me and use them in faith for His Kingdom.  It is God, and only God, who can grow up the harvest for Himself.

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. (Luke 10:2b, NLT)

Are you ready?  You are if you have given your life to Jesus.  Are you set?  You are if you’re staying in His Word, praying to Him, and listening to His Spirit in your life.

GO!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

Acknowledgements

I have many acknowledgements for this blog.  God, in His great grace, has given me many mentors and sources of inspiration.

  • My church and Global Impact Conference
  • My pastor Doug
  • My pastor John
  • My Sunday school teacher Kevin
  • Ken Ham and the ministry Answers in Genesis
  • Ravi Zacharias and his ministry RZIM
  • Compassion International, and especially little Mingkwan and the impact she’s had on my life from some 9,000 miles away
  • My friend Lena
  • David Menton and his talks about the human body on Answers in Genesis DVD’s
  • The DVD, The Story of Amy Carmichael and the Dohnavur Fellowship
  • Amy Carmichael on Wikipedia
  • The DVD Monumental with Kirk Cameron
Advertisements
Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Saeed

If we who are Christians can watch this and not be moved . . something is horrifically wrong with us.  Horrifically isn’t a strong enough word.

I am convicted that I must pray for this man, I must fast for this man, and I must speak out against his torment until the day he is rescued.  This is not an option for Christians.  We must care about this man.  He is our brother.  I say it again, he is our brother.  And he is suffering.

http://savesaeed.org/

Sign the petition.  But don’t stop there.

Start praying.

The craving for holiness

I crave holiness.

I can’t believe it.

This . . is me?  A craver of holiness?

If you’d known me ten years ago, or even five years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to detect any such craving for holiness in my life.  You would have seen a craving for other things–oh, I could make a list!–but holiness wasn’t one of them.  In fact, holiness didn’t seem cravable–at all, actually.  That would have sounded about as strange to me as saying a horse can climb a tree.

My idea of Heaven was hopefully a place where you could do sinful things, but they weren’t called sin anymore.  Hopefully if you passed the temptation to do sin in this place, you could sin but it wouldn’t be called sin anymore in Heaven.  A life in Heaven with no sin seemed like no fun.  It certainly seemed funner to me than Hell, but not as fun as time on earth.

When I thought of holiness, I would have thought of things like golden halos . . people who do not smile . . pictures of Moses holding up stone tablets with a scary glare on his face . . punishment . . rules and etiquette . . people burning in Hell for wickedness . . severity . . abstaining from pleasure . . withdrawing from the world.

Being saved held interest to me.  I was no fool (or so I thought).  I didn’t want to wind up in Hell.  But being holy?  I would have rather watched paint dry.  I had cherished pet sins I simply wasn’t willing to part with, sins I thought were tame enough to stay at my side and not really hurt anyone or make God angry.  But even if I hadn’t wanted to sin, I wouldn’t have wanted to pick holiness for my life.   Give me almost anything but holiness–not holiness!  Holiness was like the broccoli on the plate at the meal, the part I was happy to leave and eat the “good stuff.”  Sin (i.e., entertainment, indulgence, selfishness) was the dessert that made the meal worthwhile.

Now, of course, you must realize, I would have never said it this way.  I would have never thought of it this way.  I didn’t even think of my hidden sins as sins.  I felt like I was in an okay place before God.  Maybe you feel that way.  Maybe you have everyone around you fooled into thinking you’re a pretty good person, and they have no idea what goes on in your thought life or in your free time.  I had a desire to be saved, and I wanted God to save me.  But I had zero desire to be holy.

I didn’t find my lack of striving for holiness as alarming.  I didn’t associate Christianity with holiness.  I associated Christianity with a benign belief in Jesus and in not sinning (in out-in-the-open ways).

Holiness equaled dread.  I did not want to give up things I liked and devote my whole life to God.  Are you kidding?  ALL of my time?  ALL of my money?  ALL of my thought life?  ALL of me?  What kind of life would that be?  How would I live that way without wanting to jump off a cliff?

Fear of Hell in and of itself was not enough to change me.  For one thing, I figured I was safe in asking for salvation.  For another, I wanted things so badly than even eternity in torment couldn’t break my hold.  I think this is an important point.  There is no amount of rewarding or threatening or even punishment that can get somebody to be holy.  Holiness is simply too hard.  If you ever look at the Old Testament, you will see that story over and over.  No matter the reward God promised, or the warnings He gave, or the punishment He decreed, the people simply wouldn’t change for long.  They just couldn’t part with their unholy things.  They loved them too, too much.

God was very aware this problem existed.  But He let us discover it for ourselves (since He knew we wouldn’t take His Word for it!).  We just can’t be holy.  We just can’t.  We don’t have enough self-control.  Our willpower is for sin, and we can’t turn away from it.  We can possibly turn from one sin to another, but that is the only direction we can go.

So how in the world did I come to crave holiness?

I had an image of holiness at best as the misery of a life without fun and at worst as the enjoyment of punishing sinners.  I had no concept of holiness and love as being inseparably one.  If anything, I would have seen them as being nearly mutually exclusive.

BUT . .

When God revealed His love to me, I began, slowly, to realize that holiness and love never travel alone in God’s Kingdom.

To love is to be holy, because God is love and He is holy.

God is love. (1 John 4:16b, NIV)

To be holy is to love, because God is holy and He is love.

The LORD our God is holy! (Psalm 99:9c, GW)

God is holy, and does nothing apart from His holiness.  And God is love, and does nothing apart from His love.

Love, real love, is holy.  And holiness, real holiness, is love.

What does holiness-and-love look like in real life?  Look at any act of God in the Bible, and you will begin to form a picture.

Holiness-and-love is God creating Adam, and then surprising him with his wife Eve.

Holiness-and-love is God sending a global flood to a world that wouldn’t obey Him.

Holiness-and-love is God rescuing already-married Sara from the harem of a pharaoh.

Holiness-and-love is God rejecting Esau whose heart was turned only to food and pleasure and sport.

Holiness-and-love is God establishing Joseph the slave as the second-in-command to pharaoh.

Holiness-and-love is God sending ten plagues on a country steeped in idolatry and cruelty.

Holiness-and-love is God establishing a covenant with a group of oppressed slaves.

Holiness-and-love is God splitting the earth open to swallow Korah and his family when he rebelled against His command.

Holiness-and-love is God giving Rahab the prostitute a new life and a husband and son.

Holiness-and-love is God sending wild bears to maul 42 boys of a group that made fun of His prophet.

Holiness-and-love is God speaking to prophets to warn a defiant people to turn from their fate.

Holiness-and-love is God in a manger on a crowded night in Bethlehem.

Holiness-and-love is God calling 12 unlikely men to be His disciples.

Holiness-and-love is God casting the demon out of a man who roamed a graveyard yelling.

Holiness-and-love is God raising from the dead the only son of a widowed woman.

Holiness-and-love is God feeding thousands of hungry followers knowing their fickle and disingenuous hearts.

Holiness-and-love is God dying on a cross to pay for the sins of anyone who would call on Him.

Holiness-and-love is God sending a mighty Friend to be with His followers.

Holiness-and-love is God working miracles in the early church.

Holiness-and-love is God keeping His Word safe from generation to generation to generation.

Holiness-and-love is God returning to judge the world.

The truth is, I didn’t understand holiness because I didn’t understand love.  (And it’s equally true that I didn’t understand love because I didn’t understand holiness.)  When I began to see the love of God, I began to realize the depth of holiness.  Holiness isn’t merely a set of rules.  It’s a standard of loving.

Holiness is treating other people as better than yourself, as Jesus did.

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—even to death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, HCSB)

Holiness is looking forward to giving more than receiving from others.  Jesus did this for us in an infinite way when He gave us what we could never repay, and immeasurably more than He could ever receive back from us.  Paul wrote:

 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these [my] hands have provided for my needs and for those who were with me. In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 30:33-35, HCSB)

Holiness is hating evil, but caring for those who are puppets to Satan’s will and trying to bring them to the light of Christ.

But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time,be now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:20-25, HCSB)

Holiness is living in God’s light.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25, HCSB)

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.(Philippians 4:8-9a,HCSB)

Holiness is a journey.

Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. (Paul in Philippians 3:12-16, HCSB)

Holiness is hard.

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-26, HCSB)

One day, holiness will be perfected in everyone whose faith is in Jesus Christ.

When I was a child,

I spoke like a child,

I thought like a child,

I reasoned like a child.

When I became a man,

I put aside childish things.

For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,

but then face to face.

Now I know in part,

but then I will know fully,

as I am fully known.

Now these three remain:

faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:11-13, HCSB)

I crave holiness.

So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

What is God’s grace called?

God’s grace is called Jesus.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16, NIV)

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

No More Night

No More NightNo More Pain

No More Tears.  Never Crying Again.

And praises to the great I AM.

We will live in the light of the Risen Lamb.

No More Night, Walt Harrah

From the moment we begin to understand this things, we discover two vines, woven together, so tightly they cannot be unwound.

Grief.  Joy.

All around us, all the time.

But one day–no more.

They will be separated forever.  Those who have not believed in Jesus will be separated forever by the grief of their sin.  Those who have believed in Jesus will be close to Him forever in eternal joy.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:1-7, NLT)

Published in: on February 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

“With all your soul”

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, HCSB)

with all my heart.  Everything I feel, every affection I have, everything I bond to, everything I love.

with all my mind.  Everything I think, every memory I look back upon, every plan I want to make, every moment as I process it.

with all your strength.  Everything I give my energy to, everything I act upon, everything I give my time to.

But . .

What does it mean to love God with all your soul?

I find this exquisitely curious.  I cannot think of anything I have left out of my life here on earth.  I have already thought of the commitment with my emotions, my imagination and thoughts, and my decisions.  So what is loving God with all my soul?

So far as I can fathom, it must be the eternal commitment of this love.  It is not just that I love Him with the heart that will stop beating, the mind that will stop thinking, the strength that will stop acting.  But I love Him eternally, this infinite bond that ties me to Him forever.

In the Bible, and in many cases in our times, husbands and wives seek to be buried next to each other.  But why?  It cannot really be because they think they will be “conscious” of whether or not they are next to someone they love.  Very literally, one corpse in a wooden box even only two feet away from another corpse in a wooden box share no conversation.  So why would a man and woman choose to be buried next to one another?

I think it is an expression of something our mind cannot explain . . our heart cannot hold . . even our strength gives out on us on.  It is a desire to be with someone regardless of whether you even have a mind to think it, or a heart to wish for it, or the strength to carry it out.  It is to love with the eternal essence of who we are, or we try to give this, anyway.  The problem is, as none of us own our own souls, and none of us give them life or have any power over them, we cannot choose to do anything with the eternal soul unless we presuppose that Someone will give us permission to do so.

I can take my own life, if I wish.  I can ruin my mind with drugs, wicked fantasies, plots, and I can even stop my mind from ever thinking again.  I can ruin my heart with affection for all the wrong things, and I can even force my heart to stop beating.  I can devote all my strength to the wrong causes and, I can even stop any further use of my strength.

But what I cannot do, what I have no ability to do, is to kill my soul.  I cannot see or feel my soul.  I have no realm of authority over my soul.  I cannot give my soul to someone who has no authority over it.  For example, I cannot give my soul in marriage to someone.  The soul doesn’t belong to me in the first place to give it away.  That would be something like saying I can give the moon away if I wish.

Jesus warned,

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28, NIV)

Let the severity of this warning not escape us.  If I should do whatever I please with my heart, mind, and strength, what I must recognize is that when I die, and these things fail me, I am not “over”.  What is over is the time I had to do things with my heart, mind and strength.  What is not over is the existence of my soul.

I used to (used to until today) think of the mind and soul as the same thing, a word used interchangeably, but now that I carefully look at this passage, I see my thinking must be changed.

My love is really relegated to my heart.  When I die, the love I have for everyone on earth will be over.  I can’t keep loving anyone or anything.  I can hope others remembered that I loved them (and that they do not remember the ugly emotions that came out of my heart during my life), but I can no longer love.

My thoughts are really relegated to my mind.  When I die, I cannot keep thinking.  I can hope to share my thoughts with others posthumously for them to think about, but I can no longer think.

And my strength is gone, too.  I can’t do anything, for good or for bad, when my body dies.  My body is controlled by my mind and heart, and of course it will not act without the other two.

I can, at best, say, I can love and think whatever I want and act however I want for such-in-so years.  Let’s be generous and say I live to be 116.  Well, fine, for 116 years, I’ve loved and thought and acted.

But then the great dread!  Not of nonexistence, but of existence without love or thought or strength.
What will remain?  My soul will remain.  Stripped of everything I once cherished, I will have left the reality of eternity without the sweetness of heart, mind, or strength.

C.S. Lewis says, “You do not have a soul.  You are a soul.”

The soul is not a possession of mine.  It is my identity, the thumbprint of who I am, before the God who made me, the God I must someday face with a resurrected–but not glorified–body.  At that point, when I stand before His throne, He can throw not only my body (with my heart, mind, and strength) in Hell, but He can throw also my soul there.

I cannot truly understand what that means, nor do I want to try to.  I do not want to know what is like to be raised from the dead with the same body I already had, only deteriorated and run-down far worse by my sin than it ever was in my life.  I do not want to face God and account for every violation of my mind, heart, and strength that I have ever committed.

But that does not make me an atheist!  That makes me repentant!

So far, the idea of the soul has been a nightmare, and I can see why anyone would want to pretend it doesn’t exist.  None of us has served God with our heart, mind, and strength.  We have all broken our alliance with Him and we must all come to Him as a soul and account for what we have done.

Let’s look again at what Jesus said.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, HCSB)

The soul can love.

Just as the heart, mind, and strength can love, so can the soul.

This doesn’t help us with the nightmare we are in, but instead adds to the nightmare.  Not only will we be held accountable for our heart, mind, and strength, but we will also be held accountable for not loving God with our immortal soul.

IF THIS WAS WHERE OUR FATE HAS TO END, it would be understandable to want to pretend it isn’t true.  It would be understandable to want to be an atheist.  But because it is NOT WHERE OUR FATE HAS TO END, we need to face the reality of the nightmare we are in.

Because from there, we can see how much God’s dream for our lives really matters.

He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)

We do not own our soul and cannot change its fate, and that’s the nightmare part.  The dream part is, God can.  God–and only God–can forgive us of the sin of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He can eternally forgive the sins of our heart, mind, and strength by redeeming our souls.  His dream is to pay for our sin.  He gave Himself to us in human form in Jesus Christ.  Jesus had ability to die because He is man, and the ability to redeem (buy back) our soul from damnation because He is God.

Our calling is to receive from Him this gift.  As we do so, He will begin to grow within us holiness: the ability to really love, to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.  We will never be perfectly there in this life; that perfection awaits the time of the soul.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, HCSB)

What happened?

We live on a murderous planet.

. . and yet we know Eden in our hearts.

What happened?

God’s Word is God telling us our story.

Have you ever really read what He has to say?  From Genesis to Revelation?

Don’t you think it’s time to hear His story . . for yourself?

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8, NIV)

 

Eternity

“Eternity” is either one of the best common nouns in the English language or one of the worst.  Whether it is of the best or of the worst is totally dependent upon whether you know the best proper nouns, Jesus Christ and His Father and Spirit.

Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God. (Psalm 90:2, HCSB)

Mind & heart

Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding? (Job 38:36, HCSB)

Test me, LORD, and try me; examine my heart and mind. (Psalm 26:2, HCSB)

They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep! (Psalm 64:5-6, ESV)

Remember this, fix it in mind,
take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:8-9, NIV)

O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind . . (Jeremiah 20:12, NIV)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, HCSB)

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32, NIV)

“Live and Learn”?

We say, “Live and Learn.  There’s always a next time.”

But one time, there isn’t a next time.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV)

Published in: on February 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,