Friday, September 02, 2005

Through Us, Extreme Faith, and Highs & Lows

I came across another inspiring article by James. Read on.

By Dr. James MacDonald

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Every on-fire follower of Jesus Christ wants to make a difference in God’s kingdom. Am I right? You don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I just want to be a wallflower today. I want to spend the next 18 hours taking up space.” Well, good news! God has chosen a very cool way for you and me to impact our generation and we’ll talk about them on the broadcast this week in the series, Straight Up: Engaging in Ministry God Energizes.

Though He could have chosen a million ways, God has ordained that His good news to the human race be delivered through us—through those who by faith have embraced Jesus as Lord. God assumes the risk of using just ordinary human instruments to carry His gospel to the world. Second Corinthians 2:14 describes it this way, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal processionand through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”

This verse is talking about the victory parade of a Roman army. When the army would return home, the people would line the streets and a guy would walk out in front of the army swinging an incense cantor. This great smell would go everywhere. And the crowds would roar and people would throw flowers—it was like an ancient ticker-tape parade.

In Christ, you have a place in God’s victory parade. Through us He sends out a message to the world about the gift of eternal life. God does His work of changing people for eternity. He does it through us! He gets the good news out through regular, average, ordinary people like you and me.

What scent does the world smell as you and I walk with them each day?—they smell Christ, the knowledge of Him spreads everywhere you go. Isn’t that cool?!

I want to be part of the train of people God is using to impact our generation; will you join me? Today, I want the fragrance of the knowledge of Him to permeate every place I go, every conversation I have, every attitude I knowingly or unknowingly convey, every thing I do. Wouldn’t if be great if after being with us, people lift their noses and ask, “What’s that great smell? It smells like . . . abundant life!”

*** This article was convicting AND encouraging to me. It really is a challenge to try to reflect Christ through EVERY conversation, EVERY attitude, EVERY action.

This morning I was talking to my mom on the phone on my way to work, and she was telling me about how she is having company this Tuesday night. She was dropping huge hints that she would greatly appreciate my help in cleaning this weekend for her. While I didn't completely shut her down, I wasn't exactly offering my cleaning services in a giving, happy manner. Instead, I was clenching my teeth between long silences, saying, "Yeah mom, whatever, I'll help you," and thinking in my mind, "I moved OUT, I don't live there anymore, why do I have to CLEAN?"

That may be a petty, everyday example of a poor attitude, but I think that is what James is getting at. Am I reflecting Christ in EVERY attitude? Was I with my mom this morning? I could have done better. I could have been willing. I could have WANTED to help her. It is amazing how having a great attitude can change the outcome to everything.

It is my prayer that the Lord can teach me how to shine my gift of abundant life to others... so that they will want it, too!

Last night at ISU Bible Study, we heard about "Extreme Faith." One thing that stuck out to me is when John Bradle asked, "If you lost everything you have- every convenience as we know it today, (etc.), would that shake your faith?"

My first reaction was to think, "Naw... I would be fine. I would know that Christ is my all... blah blah blah."

And then I really got to thinking. It's easy to imagine yourself reacting a certain ideal way in a hypothetical situation, but when it comes down to real life, it's not always easy sailing.

If my house burned down, all of my family and friends died, I got thrown in jail and chained to the wall, and I had to live off of bread and water alone... I highly doubt I'd be sitting there with a huge grin on my face the whole time. And perhaps that picure is a bit extreme. However, the point is, if our faith is what it should be...."extreme"...... something like that SHOULDN'T shake our faith. Christ IS our all. Not the house. Not the spouse. (I should take up poetry again :-) Not the friends. Not the salary. Christ is.

It's amazing how it's so easy to rely heavily on our faith in Christ when everything is going wonderful. Right now in my life, I'm so blessed to say that everything IS going marvelous... by the grace of God! Yet, one little thing goes wrong: I get a bad grade, gas prices sky rocket, a friend disappoints me, etc... and I get all bent out of shape and have a tough time "getting over" something so minor. If I'm going to get upset over something so small, what will I do when something big and bad really happens that I have to deal with? It's all about attitude and perspective, and it's about learning how to apply those principles to the little things that go wrong so that we can then apply them to the big struggles in life that we have to get through.

It's time to look at my life as a pathway to Heaven rather than an obstacle course to success.

The Chrisitan life, I've learned, is VERY extreme. I'm either on cloud 9 or down in the valley. In my "on cloud 9" times, it's easy for me to see through rose-colored glasses. Everything seems wonderful, blessed, marvelous, great, spectacular! Yet I've learned to let these times of peace to be sort of a preparation, because no Christian goes through their whole life without struggles. While I'm "doing good," I try to really grow and become closer to Christ and His way so that when I AM confronted with one of those bombs that just HIT me out of nowhere... I'm prepared.

Then begins the struggle. Any of you out there who have ever gone through "stuff" know what I mean when I say that sometimes, the hard times are what draw you closer to God than your BEST times. When you get so low that your face is on the hard, cold, dusty ground and you have nowhere to go but up, you find yourself diligently seeking Him and His Word and His Truth. I find myself craving that spiritual food. I NEED it. I'm STARVING and THIRSTING for it. It is then when I commune the deepest with God... I find myself at His feet, pleading for mercy and grace and wisdom to get me through... to get me through.... to give me peace.... and I plead and I plead and sometimes, I wonder if it'll ever come.

One huge thing I've learned about "struggling" is that it takes TIME. It's not about our time schdule. God doesn't borrow my agenda and read over it and say, "Hmmm.... It looks like Taryn doesn't have a whole lot going on September 10-September 23. I think I'll hit her with this struggle HERE. Then... I'll shower her with peace over Thanksgiving becasue she'll be busy around that time..."

No. God's timing is not even fathomable to me. But it's perfect. That's what I DO know. It's like all of a sudden, a couple weeks go by and you start to "survive" again. This inner contentedness starts sweeping over that constant turmoil, and one morning you wake up to find that you are completely peaceful. It's an amazing feeling.

Yet through it all... I can place my faith in God and be whole in that.

Wow. I'm REALLY good at getting off the subject.

Enough said. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!



Luke said...

I love James' teachings!! Thanks for your commentary! Keep striving to be perfected in all holiness!

Heather said...

T- What you had to say about faith and timing is really what I needed. Sometimes I question God's love beacuse I feel like He tosses me so much that I can't go on cause my life is already so busy. But just like you said, it is in those times when we draw the closest to Christ.And last night I realized that my faith needs to become a little more extreme. I love it when God ties a couple of lessons that you need to learn together and then hands you the package! Thanks for the post. I needed it.