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God Only Gave
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So They Might See Your Good Works
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Paralyzed in Sin
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Book Review: Unashamed
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Reap the Whirlwind

God Only Gave

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Our six year old’s first memory verse for the Awana program at church was the first verse, to our knowledge, that she’s ever read.

For God so loved the world that He only gave His Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have an eternal life. John 3:16

That’s how she recited it to me for a week. It was so close to being accurate. Read it again if you just skimmed through it. What was her big mistake?

God only gave His Son! She had no idea why this placement of the word “only” changed the meaning so drastically. Because God didn’t just only give His Son. He gave His only Son!

The Lord of this universe sacrificed His dearly loved Son so that we would have a way back into a right relationship with Him! Now that’s love!

When I love, I don’t usually love perfectly. I love the way my child memorized the verse. I only give part of myself. I only do enough to be convincing some days. Rarely do I give up everything of myself.

Praise the Lord that His love shines brightly through the verse of John 3:16. It’s one that I am far too often tempted to skim over since I’m confident in my knowledge of it. But God used this moment last week to remind me that His word is still active and living. Even in a verse that I’ve known my entire life He is able to draw me closer to Himself.

So They Might See Your Good Works

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In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:16

I’m ashamed to admit there are many times that I try to apply this verse to my life and it looks like this:

Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works.

But that’s not where the verse ends! The most important part has been cut out – “so that they may give glory to your Father in heaven!”

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in and around nonprofit organizations. There are plenty of good people who volunteer and donate their time and money but they themselves are not followers of Christ. You don’t have to be a follower of Christ to do good works. So what’s the difference between a Christian and a nonChristian doing a good deed?

We’re all doing the same work – right? We’re all walking dogs at the animal shelter, washing dishes at the soup kitchen, and cleaning up in disaster relief programs. But what’s the end goal?

That’s a question that as a Christian I must constantly insert into my life to examine my heart’s motivations. Why am I doing this? Is it simply to look good? Is it to make other jealous? Or am I letting my actions give glory to God?

Anyone can feed the hungry with the end goal of filling physical stomachs. But there is more to the Christian faith. We feed the hungry to meet a physical need so that we can then build trust to help meet a spiritual need.

As this week comes to a close, ask the Holy Spirit to examine your works and reveal to you whether they are glorifying yourself or God. Repent of those that bring honor solely to yourself and ask for God’s help to glorify Him in all that you do.

Paralyzed in Sin

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This past Sunday, our  middle school girls’ class studied the passage of the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him through a roof to Jesus. Since we were all very familiar with this story, we decided to retell it from each viewpoint in the story – the paralyzed man, his friends, the crowd, the scribes, and Jesus.

And we collectively admitted that we are not as passionate about bringing our lost friends and family to Christ as we ought to be.

To get to that realization, let’s look just 5 verses before this story. In Mark 1:40-45, a man with a serious skin disease came to Jesus on his knees and begged for healing. Jesus healed him, warned him not to tell anyone, yet the man proclaimed his healing widely anyways.

So Mark gives us this wonderfully enthusiastic story of a man healed. And then instantly transitions to the story of the paralytic man. (If you’re not familiar with this story, read Mark 2:1-12).

We know very little about the paralytic. He doesn’t say anything. We don’t see him fall before Jesus and beg for healing. We don’t even know if he knew who Jesus was. All we know is that his friends so desperately wanted him to know Jesus and His healing that they were willing to carry him onto the roof, tear a hole in it, and lower him to Jesus. Nothing deterred them from their passion to bring their friend to Jesus – not other people or physical barriers.

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Book Review: Unashamed

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When Lecrae Moore watched his son take his first step, he knew it would be followed immediately by a fall. One step. That’s all his son could take. In the process of learning to walk, falling and injury were expected. This is how Lecrae’s faith in God developed also. One step followed by tumbles and stretches of time refusing to get back up.

But today, Lecrae is known for his commitment to his faith and as a hip-hop artist. Among numerous accolades, he is a two-time Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist whose studio albums and mix tapes have sold nearly 2 million copies. His 2014 album, Anomaly, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.

Many of us know the Lecrae who achieved musical success. In his recent autobiography Unashamed, Lecrae recounts the painful years of his life spent for his own glory.

Lecrae writes openly about his rebellious childhood filled with poverty, physical and sexual abuse, drugs, and fights. But through a college Bible study, he came to know a personal relationship with God. It was a shallow faith that he packed full of legalistic rules.

In fact,he threw away his secular CDs and taped the empty cases together into a 5 foot pillar in his room to brag about how great of a Christian he was since he sacrificed so much. Reflecting back, Lecrae calls it “a monument to my own self-righteousness.”

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Reap the Whirlwind

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I only know of one twister that landed a person in a magical land, complete with traveling companions. Outside of Dorothy’s (and Toto’s) experience in the merry ole land of Oz, tornadoes are capable of tearing cities apart, brick by brick.

It’s hard to imagine that the same wind I enjoy outside – the one that makes me pause on my walks outside and to open the windows in our house in the autumn – is the same wind that, when moving more intently, was the tornado that once caused $40 million of damage to my college campus while I lived there my freshman year.

Hosea 8:7 says, “Indeed, they sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

In other words, the sins of these people had snowballed out of control!

Ever experienced that? Maybe you told a “small” lie to your parents, which led to more and more lies in order to cover up that first one.

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