Monday, September 8, 2008

Lazarus and the Rich Man

This Sunday our pastor discussed the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. He explained how Lazarus had God's favor because in his state of constant need, he was always seeking God, as opposed to how the rich man hardly noticed his need for God because he was satiated by his own physical wealth. How often do we run desperately to God when our stomachs are full, when our bodies are well clothed. Maybe that's why Jesus said that the poor were blessed because they knew more about the Kingdom of Heaven than the wealthy. Maybe that's why Jesus prayed for a daily portion of bread instead of a month's supply, so that He would be drawn daily to seek and savor His King. I think we're finally coming to a place in our home of thankfulness for an income that requires us to depend on His daily provision to make things work. We have testimony after testimony to remind us of His lovingkindness, and, although we don't want to always be in physical need - who does! -, we ALWAYS want to yearn for Him more and more daily.

Taking another twist on this parable, I wonder if I truly have considered the plight of the poor man. No, not the physically impoverished man, but the poor man who does not know my Savior. I have done the same as the rich man, watching my unbelieving neighbors lie at the gates, allowing dogs to lick their sores, and doing nothing. I am that rich man who was satisfied in his ignorance. I watch my neighbors walk by every day and do not concern myself with the state of their souls, leaving them to starve right outside of my table of feasts that I share with the Savior. What a disgrace! What a shame!

Today, I will commit to seeking out my neighbor's heart, to training up my children in doing the same, and to pray daily for God's saving grace to come to the hearts of those in our community. Today we baked cookies and took them to a new neighbor who moved in to our community in an attempt to build a relationship, to inquire of their heart, to give them the greatest gift there is. The neighbors weren't there, but we left cookies and a note. I don't want to be confused about my role here. I can't force them the choose Christ, but if I love God's people, then I must sow the seeds of the gospel for them.

Josh said this well in a previous sermon, and I think it's relevant here: that we should
"never measure success by the number of people in seats [at church]. You will measure success by the number of times you scatter the gospel."

A great word yesterday. Thank you Lord for the Word of Truth.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Update

We are blessed beyond measure! Currently I am in my 31st week of pregnancy. This technically means that I have 9 weeks left until we find ourselves deep in the trenches of hard labor and - following that - sweet, sweet moments of learning all that we can about this new gift that is joining our family. We are ELATED! We are looking forward to the wiggly, wrinkled feet and the newborn cries, the adrenaline induced rush the first two days after delivery that holds you through until you finally get an ounce of sleep, the precious moments of watching him breathe and knowing that every single breath of his belongs to God. What amazing times that God gives us, showing us new life and how He - only He - has ordained every aspect of it! Like I said, we are blessed beyond measure, undoubtedly!

My health has maintained so much better than it ever has in previous pregnancies. Blood pressure, swelling, weight gain, preterm contractions, back pain, heartburn - every aspect has been right on target and exponentially easier this time around. Just within the last few days, I have been overcome by a voracious appetite! It's been kinda fun and something strange to laugh at!!! A family at church is hosting a baby shower for us, and we could not be more thankful. This is yet another example of God providing for the needs of his children. He has been so faithful. We should be getting an ultrasound at 37 weeks to see how big the baby is. The doctor is concerned that the baby might be bigger than Ben (9 1/2 lbs at 39 weeks) was and wants to avoid any dangers that may come with birthing a bigger baby. I feel like this child is not as large as Benjamin was, but we will find out in about 6 weeks after an ultrasound.

I want to express sincere thanks for those who have lifted our family up in prayer these last few months. I would love to get into details about all the sweet ways God has answered our prayers, but for now, know that I am home, caring for my children and home and learning how to give my life and heart and energy to knowing God and making Him known in our home. This is humbling and simply wonderful.

I think that is it for now. Thanks for reading!

Withholding wealth from my neighbor?

America is a frontier for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Would you believe this if it were whispered into your ear? Neither would I. Living in the "Bible Belt" and seeing large churches crowd the corners at each intersection, I seriously doubted that the name of Jesus hadn't reached at least the farthest corners of the US of A. Maybe Jesus' name has been spread across the country, but some still live in ignorance. But when I look into my own heart, I can see the reason for the reality that America is a frontier for the Gospel. Even believers that have claimed faith for decades have refused to share the wealth of the gospel with the impoverished hearts within our communities. I am one of them. Why do I neglect to feed my starving neighbor the bread of Christ? Why do I slothfully disdain the idea of walking 10 steps to their door and seeking to welcome them into my home, my heart, introduce them to the richest joys I have ever known. These people are created in His image, and God loves His people. Why do I not love His people enough to give them pause as they walk in a path towards death! It just takes a moment to commit, but then again, I must be willing to commit more than just a moment. I need to be willing to be vulnerable and real. It takes a lot of energy to be vulnerable to someone, because then you begin to really love them... like we should love them, like Christ loves them, and he gave up so much more than his "image" to love His people. He gave His life, his privacy, his energy. I am certain he felt embarrassed as his disrobed body was struck time and again in front of the people He loved. And he continued to be vulnerable to them. "This is my body, given for you." He longs for us to know Him. He longs for it so much that He gave up everything for it. What am I withholding from my neighbor. How am I refusing to give the truth to my friends? How can I truly love them this week, withholding nothing from them? I will be praying about that this week.