Jesus and a Bunch of Preschoolers

Jesus with Children¬†I know, I know, the titles of my posts are getting weirder and weirder. I haven’t completely lost it though, I promise!

As I was hanging out with Jesus this morning before work, (I’m an assistant teacher in a beginning preschool classroom. Hence the title of my post… ūüėČ ) having a conversation with Him about the day I had ahead of me, I realized that a lot of the time us Christians act kind of like grown up preschool kids. I look at how most of my kiddos act on a daily basis and see a good amount of those same behaviors mirrored in the Church as a whole. There were three that jumped out at me:

1. We tend to whine and cry when things don’t go just the way we want them to go.¬†

Much like my preschool kids, (or any for that matter) who whine, cry, and throw fits when they don’t get what they want, or get to do what they want, we tend to do much the same. Calling out to God when something didn’t go the way we thought it should or wanted it to. Instead of trusting in His plans and that His way is infinitely better than ours, we blame Him, complain, and maybe even kick and scream when things don’t go our way. (Okay, I’d hope there’s no kicking and screaming going on, it’d look a little silly to have a full grown adult on the floor pitching a fit… ha!)

“Trust in the¬†Lord¬†with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and he will make your paths¬†straight.”

~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

“Take delight¬†in the¬†Lord,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

~Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

“Be still¬†before the¬†Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
¬†¬†¬†¬†when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

~Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

2. We’re all a giant mess!

I’m constantly going behind my kiddos and either picking up toys that they’ve left out, wiping up spills, washing off their faces when they manage to get half of their lunch smeared all over it, etc. Jesus is constantly going behind us with His grace and cleaning up the messes we make in our lives. Cleansing our stained garments with His blood and making them white as snow. We may not get our lunch all over our faces, or leave a trail of toys behind us, but we are definitely messy!

3. Do we honestly spend enough quiet, one on one time with God?

Do you ever look back and wish that you could take back all of those naps you didn’t take, or fought hard to stay awake through in your preschool years?

ME TOO.

My preschoolers usually fight tooth and nail to take a nap. Are you doing the same when it comes to spending quality, quiet, one on one time with Jesus?

It’s not exactly the same as taking a nap, but it’s even more rewarding. How much quiet time do you spend with God on a regular basis? I know the moms out there love it when their small children will nap for even a short while so they can get things done in peace! Well, God wants us to take time out of our day, even ten minutes, to talk to Him. He wants to reveal things to you and begin working in your life and blessing you more than you can imagine! Just like moms can’t get much done with young kiddos up and running around the house like crazy monkeys, God can’t get much going in our lives unless we talk to Him, pray, read His Word, and be fully connected with Him and His voice.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them,¬†and they follow me”¬†Sheep

~John 10:27 (NIV)

“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.”

~Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

My Heart is Yours

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Lord, I seek You daily
I long to hear Your voice
Your presence, it surrounds me
in Your love, I rejoice

I need You every moment
I’m thankful for Your grace
Despite my imperfections
You’ll always plead my case

Through joyful song I praise You
the sweetest name I know
My heart is Yours to make and mold
for from it all things flow.

~Amanda N. Sams
October 20, 2013

Don’t make Jesus smell like stinky socks…

Yes, it’s true, you¬†did just read that title right…¬†Stinky socks

No, I’m not crazy. Okay, not completely at least… ha!

 

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

~2 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV)

I also like the way that the Contemporary English Version words it:

“In fact, God thinks of us as a perfume that brings Christ to everyone. For people who are being saved, this perfume has a sweet smell and leads them to a better life. But for people who are lost, it has a bad smell and leads them to a horrible death.”

As I was flipping through my Bible this morning, skimming some of the notes I had scribbled in the margins, this verse basically jumped off the page at me. It wasn’t one that I had paid much attention to before, I think I had maybe underlined it in pencil as I listened to a sermon in the past, but I couldn’t let it go this time.

As Christians, we carry the “fragrance” of Christ. Our lifestyles, how we treat others, the language we use, all point back to Jesus. We need to be mindful of these things on a daily basis. Is the way you live your life giving others a good or a bad fragrance of Jesus? Is your life drawing others to a life with Christ, or “stinking” them out and pushing them away?

Don’t live your life so that you label yourself as a “Christian” but act, speak and treat others like you’re not. Being a Christian isn’t just a title, it’s not just a box you check on your Facebook profile, it’s a way of life. Those that call themselves Christians but treat it as just a label are those that end up pushing others away from Christianity, or make the “fragrance” of Jesus smell like “stinky socks.” No one is perfect, we ALL make mistakes on probably a daily basis. Yes, we have the grace of God, but that doesn’t mean that we should take advantage of it and use it as an excuse to sin.

Live your life

 

 

God wants us to give it all we’ve got and make Jesus smell as sweet as possible to those around us. We need to live lives that draw others to Him. Love and forgive others as God loves and forgives us. As followers of Christ we have been trusted to carry the message of life or death, if we don’t live a lifestyle that gives Jesus a sweet, welcoming fragrance, we’re ultimately pushing the people we encounter throughout our time on earth towards “death” instead of a life with Jesus.

The Reformation Study Bible expands on these verses saying:

“Figuratively speaking there is a pleasant fragrance, spiritually perceived, about true Christians. On the other hand, this fragrance is a ‚Äúfragrance from death‚ÄĚ to unbelievers, for it warns them that they are unprepared for the day of judgment.”¬†

“Carrying a message of eternal life or death is a sobering responsibility. No one is worthy of this solemn task, but God qualifies us for it nonetheless.”

Just a few things I thought about as I came across that verse thins morning. Take a minute to look at your life and ask yourself:

“Am I living a life that’s making Jesus smell sweet to those around me, or is my life making Jesus smell more like stinky gym socks?”

 

 

 

Jesus>Religion by Jefferson Bethke

jesus-vs-religion-feature-image

‚ÄúNo wonder the world hates us. Most of the time we‚Äôre persecuted not because we love Jesus, but because we‚Äôre prideful, arrogant jerks who don‚Äôt love the real Jesus. We‚Äôre often judgmental, hypocritical, and legalistic while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic, and loving.‚ÄĚ

~Jefferson Bethke, “Jesus>Religion”

Jeff’s book will definitely make you think. Christian or not, it’s a must read. I pulled so many quotes and excerpts that I thought I might want to expand on, it’s going to be really difficult to choose just a few! I’ll try not to bore you or ramble too much, promise! ¬†I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read through it again and really take some more time to absorb all that it has to offer.

The quote I opened with was the first thought that really hit me hard and made me stop and examine my life. As Christians we need to be sure that our lives are reflecting and representing Jesus,¬†not the religious pharisees that even He wanted nothing to do with. It’s not our job to try to condemn others or judge them for behaviors that we may not agree with, our only job is to love them and show them Jesus through our actions and how we treat those we encounter in everyday life. We need to be transparent and honest with those around us and understand that the only perfect one is Jesus, all the rest of us will make mistakes and our lives will be a mess until the day we die.

Along the same lines as the previous quote, this one shook me as well:

¬†‚ÄúThe author Brennan Manning famously said, ‚ÄúThe greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their mouths and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.‚Ä̬†

Are we making sure that we’re not only acknowledging and glorifying Jesus with our mouths but with our lifestyles as well? It’s easy to praise Jesus up verbally, but are you living a life that shows others His love and compassion. His grace, forgiveness, truth? Even when your life isn’t going the way you think it should? Is your lifestyle pulling those around you closer to Jesus or pushing them away because you say one thing and do another? Take a minute to look at your own life and ask yourself that question!

We need to continue to glorify God even through the rough times, He doesn’t cause them, but I can assure you He’s going to find a way to use them for your growth and His glory.

“Too many times we curse the rain in our lives‚ÄĒsuffering, trials, hardships‚ÄĒbut the truth is, without rain nothing grows. Without rain there‚Äôs no fruit‚ÄĒjust dry, flaky, and nasty leaves. Sometimes suffering is actually God‚Äôs blessing rather than God‚Äôs curse. It is clear in Scripture that He is not the source of evil, nor did He cause it, but He promises He can use it.‚ÄĚ

If everything in life was perfect and always went the way we wanted it or expected it to go, how would we learn to appreciate the good? How would we learn to appreciate the blessings God puts in our lives if there wasn’t any rain or storms to let us see the difference? God uses the storms in our lives to grow us as Christians, as image bearers, and bring us closer to Him and reflect more of His image and light into a broken world.

With that being said, I’ll leave you with this final quote, then you’ll just have to go buy the book yourself for the rest of the good stuff I pulled!

‚ÄúYou want to radically change how you see others? See them as fellow image bearers‚ÄĒbroken just like you, but image bearers nonetheless.¬†We love God by loving his people.‚ÄĚ

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! You can buy Jeff’s book at http://www.jesusisgreater.tv ! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

God Uses Struggle for Good

Inspire¬† The other morning, before I went into work, my heart was pulled into the book of Philippians. I’ve read through this book probably four or five times, but the Lord is ALWAYS revealing new things in His word, so I went back. It only took me until about halfway through the first chapter before I stopped dead and went back to reread this again and again:

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,¬†that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel…”

~Philippians 1:12 (NIV) 

As Paul is writing to the Philippians about the goodness of God and His Gospel, he’s in jail. If Paul can praise God while he sits in prison, why is it so hard for us when we hit a minor bump in the road? We blame God, or even get angry at Him when things don’t go our way, or the way we think He should let them go. Let’s put that verse back in context and see the rest of Paul’s point…

“(12) Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,¬†¬†that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. (13)¬†As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard¬†and to everyone else that I am in chains¬†for Christ. (14)¬†¬†And because of my chains,¬†most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

See there? God uses our suffering or “chains” to further the Gospel and inspire others through our testimonies. It should be clear to those around us, our “palace guard” we’ll say, that even though life isn’t going the way WE¬†wanted it to or planned for it to go, that we’re pushing through the tough stuff to glorify Christ. Our struggle should inspire others to want to live for Christ, even through the difficulties. They too should want to look at their lives and say “Hey, I may be stuck right now, but I serve a good God Who will lead me through this and bring me out a lot stronger on the other side!” It’s a win/win situation, we get through our tough stuff and the name of the Lord gets lifted up and praised because we trusted Him to walk us through it!

“(16)¬†Therefore we do not lose heart.¬†Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly¬†we are being renewed¬†day by day. (17)¬†For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18)¬†So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,¬†since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

~2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;¬†my only aim is to finish the raceand complete the task¬†the Lord Jesus has given me‚ÄĒthe task of testifying to the good news of God‚Äôs grace.”

~Acts 20:24 (NIV) 

I’ll leave you with this…