christical

Inspired by Jesus. From a Christian. For the Christian and anyone else who bothers to listen.

In Spite of This July 31, 2013

Filed under: Applied Faith,God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 9:40 am

I wrote this in response to a blog post where a reader commented that they found the Christian’s practice of telling people “they’re great and special and loved” unproductive and ridiculous.

If we just go and tell someone how “special and great they are,” then we have a problem.

The reality is that we’re born with these “marks” that Jon (writer of the original blog post) referenced. We look in the Law’s mirror and it tells us we’re failures and ugly and worthless. That reality makes the one-sided message of, “You’re okay, in fact, you’re special and awesome,” a problematic one. Who do we believe? If you’re one type of person, your ego will automatically inflate; if you’re another type of person, you’ll feel like someone you thought cared about you is lying to you. If you’re the former, then you’re not looking at the Law’s mirror long enough. If you’re the latter, then you see how much you need mercy, but you feel like you don’t deserve it.

That’s where God comes in. To use figurative speech, Christ’s blood washes off the guilt (not the original sin, the actual sin). His forgiveness tells us that we are His, we can become whole and joyful again, we are alive.

As for the marks of original sin? Those are the moments when we look at our Christian brother and sister and think: “I am loved in spite of this. I’m not okay, you’re not okay . . . But that’s okay.”

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Serving God with Goals May 14, 2013

Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 9:48 pm
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Readers, you’ve heard my rants. We find total fulfillment in God alone. I say it because it’s true.

When you think of success, though, what images come to mind? You might see financial success, raising a well-rounded family, or even being a Christian leader.

Many Christians earnestly desire to be great for God. Some want to lead a Christian nation; others want to help bring the broken to God. Helping people toward salvation is an awesome goal!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Although our goals may be entirely selfless, they may not be what God has in mind. In Jeremiah, God says that He has plans to give us a future of good and fulfillment.

“What then should I do to fulfill God’s plan for me?” you ask. “Surely He’d give me some direction in my decision, if I can’t answer every specific question by reading the Bible!”

First, God doesn’t “need” you to do something to fulfill His plan. If He wills it, it will happen. But God does tell us how to act Christian.

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17, 18 ESV)

If you live perfectly in the Lord, then you’re doing everything right and you can have confidence. This verse even says that you don’t have to organize a war against evil to be a Christian; you can just avoid it.

We’re not all perfect though. What then?

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:18, 19 ESV)

If life is good for you right now, then let your blessings be like ripples in a pond. By showing love to others, they will return the favor if anything happens to you.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33, 34 ESV)

You store up heavenly treasures for yourself, and you can work in the lives of others. Seeking God first can be difficult, especially if you’ve hit a lull in your faith. You might need some action.

If so, then explore your spiritual gifts a bit. Try volunteering somewhere. Try a different church service. Goodness, try volunteering at a church service, even! The possibilities are many.

Go and make disciples of the nations, of your street, or even yourself.

Peace to you.

—Erin

 

Sanctification: Pushing Through April 6, 2013

Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough,Within the Church — christical @ 4:52 pm
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Hello readers:

Foremost, I pray that you all had a blessed Easter!

Second: As you know (or perhaps don’t), most Christian denominations celebrated Easter this past Sunday; I say most because my friend celebrates Easter this year in May. The candy is gone. The leftovers of ham and potatoes are sitting in your fridge, cold. Frankly, the energy boost from Easter Sunday is beginning to wear off, especially if you are dealing with the stress of traveling.

Earlier this week on Twitter, someone pointed out that it’s easy to be a Christian on Easter because it’s one of two days in which the world celebrates with us (the other being Christmas). While somewhat pessimistic, it is also somewhat true. Having faith is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus probably would not have added that one sentence in Matthew 5:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In fact, if Christians were supposed to be perfect, the Beatitudes (along with the Epistles) would not even be in the bible!

On Easter Sunday, we Christians celebrated our justification. This “justification” changed our status from nonbeliever to believer; it changed our end-of-world destination. Now comes the difficult, but oh-so-rewarding sanctification. Sanctification literally means “To make holy.” By sanctification, we become better people–essentially, we start to act more like the ideal Christian.

For most people, the first change is a small one: from smiling at the grocery store clerk to using a different choice of words in your moment of frustration, we begin to notice more about the world and adapt accordingly. Wherever you are on the road of sanctification, it can be helpful to keep the following in mind:

  • Changes take time to become habit. Most people will tell you that breaking a bad habit or implementing a new habit takes about 21 days to really become a habit. However long it takes for you, remember that a problem with an overnight history will usually not have an overnight solution.
  • Changing means learning. This goes back to my earlier statement that no Christian is perfect (saint and sinner: that’s for another blog post). Consult that Bible! You can learn a lot of things about speaking appropriately (Proverbs 25:11), balance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9), and how God equips us for tested patience (Ephesians 6:10-20).
  • Trial and error are a part of learning. Sometimes the Bible does not have answers to certain specific questions (Is it okay to listen to loud music? Should I change jobs? Is my boyfriend The One?). In these situations, I find it best to pray, think through the situation thoroughly, and make an educated decision.
  • Pushing through spiritual lulls is no simple feat. However, God is with us (Matthew 28:20). With this, I urge you to go in peace about your day, having no worry of the future, whatever season you are in.

     

    Be a Donkey March 22, 2013

    Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 9:11 pm

    This Sunday’s Palm Sunday. In the reading, you’ll hear about Jesus riding into town on a donkey.

    Did you know that animals can sense an earthquake a bit before it actually happens?

    Maybe the donkey knew that it was carrying the Son of God. Perhaps it received a feeling that Jesus wasn’t an ordinary guy. It might have felt the waves of the entry before the earth shook and the temple tore in two as Jesus conquered death. Maybe it didn’t. But I’d give so much to be in the awe of that moment.

    Scratch that. I’d give so much to be that donkey and carry my Lord. He is my yolk. I know that by accepting him and holding him in my heart, he will hold me all of my life and accept me at the gates of heaven. If someone asked you to serve Jesus in such a way, what would you say? Some would say yes. Others would say no; what if you messed up and did something wrong for God? But truly, I tell you that we don’t need to fear. We come with nothing, and to Jesus, that is enough.

    Jerusalem was the final frontier for Jesus. Jerusalem–the city that killed prophets. How ironic that Jesus came into Jerusalem knowing he would be crucified. What kind of fear would race through your mind?

    Praise Jesus for his might and ability to overcome!

     

    To Be a Prodigal Child January 13, 2013

    Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 10:45 am
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    “Your mercy saved me / mercy made me whole / Your mercy found me / called me as your own”
–Mercy by Parachute Band

    People are truly prodigals at heart. It’s in our nature to question and doubt, sometimes even to rebel. We are told to follow the status quo, except for when it would suit our own desires to do something different. Then, we are told that the status quo is always wrong because “authority gives us no freedom.”

    Thus, we fight. Taking up our swords to fight a war that we are not even strong enough to finish, we jump out onto the battlefield, ready to face everything on our own!

    That’s when the first arrow hits.

    Sin is all around us. Everywhere we go, our humanity prowls about, wanting to swallow us whole.

    Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
–1 Peter 5:8 NASB

    On the battlefield, we can certainly try to hold our own. Goodness, some people do it six days a week! “Yeah, church is great,” they say, “but it’s different in the real world.” And in some ways, I’ll agree. It’s easy to remember to pray and sit up straight and read your bible when you’re in church and everyone plays nice. But when you leave, bam! Out come the pitfalls that we experience. Anxiety gnaws inside of us. Anger wants to burst out. Our tongues tingle with the possibility of giving our opinions, no matter how brutal.

    But if we act on that, how Christian does that seem?

    By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
–John 13:35

    Nobody’s perfect, though! How can God ask us to follow His commands in such an ungodly world? What happens when we mess up?

    God realizes that we all mess up. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned.

    Broken, we come to God with our sin. He takes our sin, and He rips it up. God does that because Jesus died, sinless, to obliterate our sin.

    If sin is mud, we’re filthy. But God is like our shower, and Jesus is the water. He cleansed us once, and He’ll do it as many times as we need his forgiveness. Isn’t that beautiful? Look at the Beatitudes. What we consider our greatest gaps in strength, Jesus considers the greatest gaps for Him to come and fill us.

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    –Matthew 5:3-12 NASB

    In His Love,

    The Jesus Freak Girl

     

    Finding Forgiveness December 8, 2012

    Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 10:10 am
    Tags: , ,

    (Twin and I arguing)
    Sis: You’re not sorry, cause if you were, you wouldn’t keep doing it!
    Me: (lowers voice) Do people keep sinning?
    Sis: What?
    Me: Do people keep sinning?
    Sis: Yeah . . .
    Me: What if God gave us the same reply?

    Sometimes, we don’t focus on a picture clearly until we see it in a different light. I believe that through the above argument, I came a little closer to God tonight.

    News flash: We are always sinners. No matter what, we will always mess up in some way or another. Try as we might, we will keep trying to walk on legs that are too weak to carry the burdens and anxieties that we bear.

    What if God gave us a certain number of tries? What if we lie yet again, and we come to God asking for forgiveness, only to find that He doesn’t believe that we have truly repented? I mean, if you have the grace to forgive someone, then they should see your mercy and totally change to the “right” side for good, right? Wrong.

    Forgiveness has no conditions. If you forgive someone, you are not obligated to become their best buddy. You are not obligated to pardon them from what they rightfully deserve. You are not obligated to enable them to keep sinning. Rather, by forgiving a person, you are releasing yourself from the anger you feel and the guilt from being angry. You are giving up the earthly power struggle between you and the grudge.

    God has the mercy to forgive us and hold us in His arms when we come, crying, broken, and nearly dead. Perhaps it would do us well if we tried the same?

    Your Mission: Who bugged you today? Think about the little brat at whom you’re still angry. You want to get back at them for their sneaky little misdeeds, make them sorry for every bad thing they did to you, don’t you (Trust me, so do I)? Take all of that emotion, look at the imaginary person sitting in from of you, and say, “I forgive you,” as sincerely as you can. Consider this: Jesus hung on a cross so you would not have to spend eternity in anguish after you died. Your sin killed Him. If God can forgive you for that, do you think you would be able to find it in your heart to ask God to help you forgive another person for the wrong they have done you?

    •JFG

     

    We Desire Peace November 27, 2012

    Filed under: God's Grace Is Enough — christical @ 6:51 pm
    Tags: , ,

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    Have you ever noticed that humanity basically desires very little? We desire two things: control and peace.

    Peace can come from God. We can also see God’s supreme control over everything.

    However, we can also look for these things in the world. We search for peace within ourselves. If I can lose ten pounds, then I’ll be at peace. If I can get the perfect boyfriend, I’ll be satisfied with myself. When I can get that car, I’ll be the happiest girl in the world. Even those who want war actually want victory and control.

    Which brings me to my next point: we are also power hungry. Nobody wants everything to be out of their control. It’s psychologically wrecking when everything that spiraling downward. Now, there are the spontaneous types who like something different at every turn. But even then, that only works when things on positive.

    As humans, we can and do swing between being stuck in a rut and in the middle of crisis. This is bound to happen when we are without God.

    But turning to Jesus and putting your trust in Him will help you to see stability and peace.

    But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:26, 27 NIV84)

    Isn’t this passage beautiful? Not only has Jesus sent a reminder of His love, but He assures us that we should not be afraid, because we aren’t blessed with the things that we can get from the world. An example: as a result of walking toward Christ, we may lose our popularity, like in the case of Angus T. Jones. But you can be liberated from the guilt that you might feel from being involved with something that will compromise your faith.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NIV84)

    I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to fall asleep after a stressful day, I start to worry. The only thing that can assuage that anxiety is to start talking to God. Yeah, sometimes it feels like the line isn’t connecting right. However, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to talk. It’s liberating to know that someone cares and is available at any time to let everything be released and take me in His arms.

    The only stable solution to the rushed stress of the world is God. How have you seen Him helping you break your worst fears?

    •Jesus Freak Girl

     

     
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