My Life is Full of Things I Dislike

As I stood in my kitchen last night, listening to the laughter of my little girl as daddy chased her around the living room, I was thinking about how much I hate washing dishes. They have to be washed, but it’s a chore without a reward because once they are dry someone still has to put them away. In moments like these I am increasingly tempted to embrace minimalism. Less stuff means less work, right? As my mind continued down the list of undone chores, I began thinking about how many things in my life I really don’t like doing. Changing diapers, cleaning up the toys for the umpteenth time, vacuuming so that I can mop, soaking stained clothing, putting away the clean laundry so that I can wash more clothes, paying bills, doing taxes, wiping muddy paws, pulling weeds, and the list goes on. My time is often filled doing things I dislike, but it’s surrounded by people that I love doing those things for. 

This weekend we remember one of the greatest sacrifices and miracles in human history. I can not fathom what Jesus went through during the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet, as he pleaded with God for another way and contemplated everything that lay ahead of him I wonder if he felt the same way I did while washing dishes? His life was about to be full of doing things that he hated, but he was surrounded by people that he loved doing them for. 

I am blessed by the people in my life and I am forever grateful that Jesus chose to sacrifice himself in my place. This weekend I am thankful for the opportunity to honor His death, celebrate His resurrection, but most of all I am thankful to be a recipient of His unconditional love. 

Embrace Opportunity

It’s easy to want to be super mom when you combine holidays, family and children. Doing all the activities, attending all the events, making everyone happy. Even with super human powers, I don’t think it would be possible to do it all. Learning to find the balance between a positive amount of activity and a negative amount of attitude due to expectation is a challenge.

As an introvert it is naturally easier to want to satisfy everyone by saying yes while secretly dying on the inside with the thought of adding one more thing to the calendar. It’s important to learn to say no, which definitely gets easier with kids. Between my dog and my very curious one year old, no gets uttered in a variety of iterations throughout the day. However, it’s also important to not worry so much about the perfect and embrace opportunity. Like when you find your child contentedly eating mini chocolate chips that they have just dumped all over the floor. Sometimes you just have to sit down and appreciate that smiling chocolate covered face.

Tomorrow we take time to remember an imperfect situation. A baby, in a feeding trough, surrounded by the stench of animal stalls and who knows what kind of dirt, pests and insects. I don’t know about you, but as a mom with a newborn that would have freaked me out a bit. Yet, I have a feeling Mary embraced opportunity and chose to treasure the moment by enjoying that little, perfect face.

In the quiet and the chaos, be thankful for the moments and the one who gave us the chance to embrace opportunity.

Merry Christmas

 

Are you a Disciple or a Convert?

By Tyler Edwards
Relevant Magazine

What if I told you that Jesus didn’t want us to win converts? What if I said that in all of Scripture we are never told to convert anyone? What if I proposed that people accepting Jesus into their life does not fulfill our mission?

We may share the Gospel, but it’s not always the same Gospel Jesus shared. Our version can be a little softer. It can be easier. The message, too often, has been watered down. Many of us don’t want to be called radicals. May of us take the message of Jesus, and we omit some of the more intense parts because they might scare people away.

An Inconvenient Truth

Out of our desire to win converts we’ve often tried to make Jesus more convenient. That’s what our culture is all about. So watering down the Gospel to reflect the culture can be an easy trap to fall into.

We often make following Jesus comfortable and easy, reducing the expectations: You don’t have to do anything different. Just believe.

When we sell people on a Jesus who is easy to follow, can we really blame them for bailing out or drifting off when things don’t go smoothly?

Carrying our cross has been reduced from a radical relationship of self-sacrificing love and humility to cheap advertisements with bracelets, jewelry and bumper stickers. We turned following Jesus into little more than eternal “fire” insurance. In so doing we made Him something He is not: safe.

What happened to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s idea of, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”?

The Consumerism Gospel

When we sell people on a Jesus who is easy to follow, can we really blame them for bailing out or drifting off when things don’t go smoothly?

It shouldn’t be surprising living in a consumer based culture, that many times people bring the same attitudes into church: It’s my way, my preferences, my desires that are important. If I don’t get my way, I’ll take my business elsewhere.

In watering down the Gospel we have taken what is all about Jesus and made it all about us.

Jesus is a part of our lives when He should be our life. He is life. Following Him requires all our life. The disciples ate, drank, sweat and slept ministry from when Jesus called them, to the day they died. Jesus wasn’t a part of their lives. He was their life.

We all are guilty of putting things above Jesus. Whether its health, wealth, comfort, causes, dreams, hobbies or interests, we all come to Jesus with expectations of what He will do for us. We all have our passions and causes.

But Jesus didn’t come to take sides. Jesus came to take over.

Disciples vs. Converts

Many people come to Jesus thinking it is enough to believe, to stand on the sidelines and root for Him. Jesus isn’t looking for cheerleaders. He is seeking men and women who will follow Him at whatever the cost. He is looking for radical devotion, unreasonable commitment and undivided dedication.

Jesus isn’t looking for converts. He’s looking for disciples.

Converts are new believers. We all start as converts. Too often we stop there. We make Christianity all about what we believe. Converts aren’t bad or wrong. They are like babies. There’s nothing wrong with being a baby. The problem comes when that doesn’t change. When a baby acts like a baby it’s cute. When a 35-year-old does, it’s sad. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

For years churches have worked to get people to make a decision to accept Christ, which is a great thing. It’s important. But what happens next? Where’s the follow up? Do we train new Christians the way we train up?

Not only is a disciple willing to die for Jesus, but they are dedicated to living every day of their life for Him.

Our mission isn’t to win converts it’s to make disciples. So what is the difference?

1.) Converts are believers who live like the world. Disciples are believers who live like Jesus.
2.) Converts are focused on their values, interests, worries, fears, priorities, and lifestyles. Disciples are focused on Jesus.
3.) Converts go to church. Disciples are the church.
4.) Converts are involved in the mission of Jesus. Disciples are committed to it.
5.) Converts cheer from the sidelines. Disciples are in the game.
6.) Converts hear the word of God. Disciples live it.
7.) Converts follow the rules. Disciples follow Jesus.
8.) Converts are all about believing. Disciples are all about being.
9.) Converts are comfortable. Disciples make sacrifices.
10.) Converts talk. Disciples make more disciples.

A disciple is someone who whole-heartedly follows the life and example of Jesus, who makes His mission their mission, His values their values, and His heart their heart.

A disciple is someone who desperately seeks to be like Jesus. A disciple is someone so committed to the cause of Christ that they would follow Him through the gates of hell and back.

A disciple is someone who finds their entire identity, purpose and meaning in Jesus. Jesus is the center of their lives. They are all in, fully committed.

Not only is a disciple willing to die for Jesus, but they are dedicated to living every day of their life for Him.

A Change of Heart

Jesus doesn’t call us to be converts or to win converts. Jesus calls us to make disciples.

Jesus offers us grace and love without condition but not without expectation. When we try to water down the message by saying things like, You don’t have give up sin, you don’t have to change, you don’t have to be transformed, you don’t have to die to yourself, you just need to believe. In this not only are we depriving people of the truth. We are denying them access to a real, transforming relationship with the almighty God.

Christianity isn’t just a system of belief. It isn’t a lifestyle. It’s a life transformed by Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t call everyone to leave everything everyday. He calls us to be willing to give up everything at any point.

His call for each of us is different. He has uniquely gifted every person to carry out a unique and valuable function in His kingdom. While what we are called to may be unique, the call is an extreme standard: Jesus must be greater than everything else.