Sunday, July 27, 2008

If it ain't broke...

I was reading an article in Worshiper* magazine today. It started with an idea that spurred my thinking. Rev. Smith said that the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality is "Sage wisdom from a culture in which the measure of all things tends to be results and success. Whatever's working, go with it!" His article goes on to talk about how that concept does not work for the worship of God.

If you've been a Christian for a while, you've found that Jesus does not fit the mold of the world's thinking. Some of His teachings clearly go against the norm...if someone strikes you, turn your cheek...if a brother asks you to walk a mile with him, walk two miles...if someone demands your coat, offer your shirt...

So I wondered what Jesus would think about that proverb "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I think He would reword it to say, "It ain't fixed until it's broke." Doesn't make sense to you? Let's look at some scripture on that.

In Mark 6:30-44 you see an event similar to Woodstock. Thousands of people followed Jesus to a remote area just to be with Him. Note that the 5,000 it mentions was just the men they counted--there were women and children too. As the day wore on, the people needed to be fed. There were no food tents, no kosher hotdog vendor who followed the crowd. Nobody thought to bring the kids a happy meal or protein bars. The situation needed a fix. They found they only had five loaves and two fish. Jesus' solution? Break the only things they had all to pieces...and the fragments fed everyone. They even had leftovers!

Ruth Stull said, "If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad."

You see, there's more to life when it's broken apart. Only then does Jesus have something to work with. If our lives are comfortable, orderly and can He get any glory? How can there be any hope for that unbeliever who's life has just crumbled around them?

Nothing gives more volume to a Christian life than the experience of brokenness. If you really get to know a strong Christian, you will find their life has been broken in some form or fashion--probably more than once!

When we praise God despite illness, bankruptcy or death...that's when Jesus is revealed to unbelievers. It's the broken vessel that allows Living Water to pour out to others.

It's a scary prayer to think of, but I'm finding it an amazing step in faith. Can you take this adventure with me? Then pray, "Lord, give me the gift of brokenness."

Life isn't fixed until it's broken. Jesus knew that, or He would not have laid down His life for you. You see, we never could have earned eternal life on our own. The gift of eternal life was achieved only when His own life was broken for us. How can we not do the same for Him?

And when He had taken {some} bread {and} given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19

*Worshiper Summer 2008, When It Is Broken by Rev. Scotty Smith

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Deposit, No Return

When someone wants to buy something of great value like a diamond ring or a house, they are usually required to put down a deposit. Sometimes it's 20% or more. The seller wants to make sure you are serious about the purchase, and that you'll be back to sign a contract for monthly payments or to pay it off completely. If you don't return, you lose the deposit.

If you don't have money, then something usually of equal or more value is left with the seller. They hold this deposit until the buyer returns for the item. Only an unscrupulous seller would keep the deposit and sell the item to another while the first buyer is away.

Normally a well-known business name is someone you would make this deal with. The guy behind WalMart with a van full of "diamond" rings--not so much.

Did you know that when you became a Christian, God put down a deposit for you? He wants you to know that you are His, and He will be back for you. Jesus paid the price and it was high. It cost Him life itself.

The transaction was made when you prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior. No, it's not 20% of your net worth, and it wasn't a roll of quarters for the bundle of chemicals that you're made of. The Bible tells us that God deposited the Holy Spirit within our hearts.

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave {us} the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)

The "deposit" or Holy Spirit remains within you. He is better than your conscience. He is a comforter, counselor...a still, small voice that speaks to your heart when you need Him. No wonder He's a jealous God--He made an eternal investment in you!

Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? James 4:5 (NLT)

For those that have not made the choice to accept Jesus Christ, they do not have this deposit, this promise. Ever wonder why some people feel so empty? It's because they have yet to receive this gift--and it is free. All they have to do is ask. They think that saving up their own good works is enough for a deposit of their own...but it's never enough. The more they do, the more they fall short. It's a frightening cycle. If you have never asked Jesus Christ into your life, I would not waste another moment. The gift only He can give is free. There are no brownie points, no drycleaning your soul before the prayer.

Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. Galatians 3:2 (NLT)

You can bet Jesus Christ will live up to His promise of returning. I hope you find comfort in that. When you find yourself lonely and wondering if you will ever feel loved, know that He is coming back. And He loves you like you are the only person in the world. That in itself is priceless.

"Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:1-3 (NLT)