Why is it difficult? Well, maybe I should use the word "challenging" instead. Many times I read the small group study books and let their words slip by without giving them much thought in later days or weeks. Once I'm done with that week's session, the chapter could be erased from my memory just like I studied it to pass an exam. But I'm at least trying to push myself so that this book doesn't see the same fate. Why?
I feel that this book has the potential to rock my spiritual world. So much has been stirring within me in the last few months... Feelings of wanting something "more" in my life. A desire for change. And this book could be that motivation.
This week we're covering chapter 5 which is "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God." Following the chapter "Profile of the Lukewarm" I see and realize that maybe I am lukewarm for Christ. See, I can compare myself to self-proclaimed non-Christians and say "I'm go-hung for Christ" and I would be correct. I could compare myself to self-proclaimed Christians who go to church on Christmas and Easter (or every Sunday for that matter) but don't think about God throughout the weekend... Sure, I would look like a saint compared to them. I mean, I donate a large portion of my salary to the church, I donate time to the church in setup and other stuff. So, yeah, I'm a great Christian...
But Jesus asks me to compare myself to Him and His standards. While my salvation has been purchased through Jesus' death on the cross (and I do not doubt that much), I still should have a desire to live a life devoted to Jesus and not my whims and fears. And if I don't, then maybe God is speaking to me in Revelations 3:15-16:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Well, I personally know my own deeds. And while I know I am not "cold for Christ" I also know I am not "hot for Christ." Now, I know I have a tendency to beat myself up about this sort of thing. I have to remember that God has worked in my heart tremendously and I have grown so much spiritually in the last decade (and I'd say especially even in the last year or two). But I've got farther to go.
This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians (Dave mentioned Chapter 12 during his sermon yesterday). But I continued into chapter 13 because it is the "famous": Love Chapter which we also had read during our wedding. But then this evening the Crazy Love book also referenced that chapter. And Francis offered the same challenge that I've seen elsewhere ... replace Love with your name. So the following represents how much farther I want to go. I want these statements to be true as often as possible.
Daniel is patient, Daniel is kind. Daniel does not envy, Daniel does not boast, Daniel is not proud. Daniel is not rude, Daniel is not self-seeking, Daniel is not easily angered, Daniel keeps no record of wrongs. Daniel does not delight in evil but Daniel rejoices with the truth. Daniel always protects, Daniel always trusts, Daniel always hopes, Daniel always perseveres. Daniel never fails.
Now the author is quick to mention (and I'll say thankfully) that scripture is clear - God's grace is awesome and leaves room for my failures. Yet I can not see the above faults in my life and then not do something about them. I am more patient than I used to be. I am more kind than I used to be. But I could be more patient. I could be more kind. I certainly envy a lot of things (especially tech toys). I am self-seeking (maybe more often than not). I can be easily angered (even if I don't erupt in curse words). The list could go on. I have a lot more room to grow.
And I find myself continually comparing myself to others around me - especially at work (which is my largest source of human interaction outside of the church). But what God is teaching me is that I need to compare myself to Him instead. If I'm not giving it "my all" then its like I'm just giving Him my leftovers. But that can change! I don't want to fear talking to a stranger who looks alone. I don't want to be afraid to speak my opinions and beliefs at work because of what others might think or say. I don't want to be lazy or afraid on a Saturday when I could go serve others at Open Door. I want to be growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ and then unashamedly spreading His love to others. I want to be ALL IN!
Well, I've got a cough and sore throat right now. And I'm afraid if I continue rambling I won't get to sleep soon enough. So I'll just submit my first attempt at blogging in awhile and let it be. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about Sunday's sermon and my Spiritual Gifts.