So I'll start with good news . . . our homestudy is done!!! Multiple copies are on their way to my house and as soon as we get our immigration fingerprints, we can send in our dossier paperwork and officially be put on the waitlist. Woo Hoo! You don't know how ready I am to be done with the paperwork part!
And how about cute pictures to offset the intensity to come? These are a couple of my kiddos that capture their personalities so perfectly! My mom got them these Easter outfits so I was busting a sweat before church trying to get a good picture. Ava, firstborn all the way, is posing beautifully at the beginning while Grayson runs wild each time I try to snap the pic.
Then we digress to the point where Ava takes charge and decides that she will hold Grayson next to her so we can get this photo shoot done. And Grayson was having none of it! I'm so blessed by my littles . . . even their firecracker personalities!
And now to the intense part. Have you read Hebrews 4:12-13? No? Well here it is . . .
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
So painfully and beautifully true. And what I continue, by God's grace, to experience as I spend time in the Word.
I've been reading James the last three weeks with my accountability partner . . . good stuff. There has been a lot that James has challenged me on, more than I'll get in to here, but nothing has hit me as hard as this little verse . . .
"You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." James 5:5
Did you cringe? I do. Every. Single. Time.
The heading in my Bible at the beginning of this part says, "Warning to the Rich." Pretty clear rebuke of the rich there. When I hear the word "rich," I like to think of someone else. I immediately get an image in my mind of someone who has more and makes more than me. They are rich. Not me. Do you know what we make? Most people wouldn't put us in the "rich" category.
Yet there are millions of people who would absolutely do just that. The live on less than $2 a day and I'm a rich person if there ever was one. We have a home to live in, stuff to fill our home, food to eat every day, two cars, plenty of clothes, electronics, and even a little money in the bank. Most definitely rich.
So my first step was to quit thinking that these verse apply to other people and let them fully wash over my rich heart and life.
I do not want my life to be characterized by luxury and self-indulgence when there are so many others who are literally dying of need.
Have you noticed that this is becoming a trend with my time in the Word? Me too. It is everywhere in the pages of Scripture.
I've prayed again that my life would not be about accumulating more stuff, but that I would live instead in generosity and self-denial. That I would take my blessings that are purely by God's grace and would use them to be a blessing to those in need. (That's Psalm 67:1-2 in action)
It does not proclaim the Gospel or life up the One who gave His all if I am living "fat" while others are dying of starvation.
So that right there was enough to again rock my world and send me to my knees. But that wasn't it.
I learned in Secret Church a few weeks ago that I forget to look at the bigger and deeper picture as I study the Word. David started teaching about the three levels of David and Goliath and I was like, "Hold up. Three levels? Aren't we just talking about a boy and a giant here?"
Nope. There is the boy and giant. Then the nation against nation. Then it is really all about Jesus. Three levels.
I will tell you that reading to Ava from the Jesus Storybook Bible has helped me immensely at seeing how Jesus is the center of every story. Yes, I just admitted that I'm learning something from my 3 year old's Bible! It's true though. Ava's bouncing all over the bed, but I'm having some good Bible study during family worship. :)
Anyway, I realized that I often take the Word at face value and forget to dig deeper or pan out for a wider look at how it applies.
So as I meditated on James 5 with this in mind, I applied this verse in terms of the Gospel. And then it got real.
By God's grace, and grace alone, I was born into an American family who are followers of Christ. I heard the Gospel early and often and was born again as a young girl. I've certainly had my
But am I living a life of luxury and self-indulgence when it comes to the Gospel?
I've got religious freedom and I am so thankful for it. But do I wallow in it? Do I just live at ease in my freedom with Bibles all over the house, church twice a week? Millions of brothers and sisters have no such luxury. Most don't own a Bible and many don't even have the Word in their own language. I can see three Bibles right now from where I'm sitting at my desk. Luxury.
And self indulgence? Got that one covered. I could (and do) spend a lot of time in a myriad of ways on my personal spiritual growth. Now before you start yelling at the computer . . . I'm not saying that spiritual growth is bad. I obviously love reading and studying the Word and think that should absolutely be a part of each day. But sometimes we just take the "good" and get fatter and fatter with Jesus, not giving any of Him away.
How many Bible studies, ministries, church services, spiritual growth books, blogs, articles, etc. can we take in before we simply explode from our gluttony?
There are millions of people that are unsaved. But beyond that there are 2 billion people that are unreached. Never heard the Gospel that is the ONLY way for them to be declared righteous before God. Never heard. People dying daily in the sin that separates them from their Creator while a way has been made for them to live with Him forever. It's just that no one has shared this life-saving message with them. We haven't gone. I haven't gone.
My heart has been pierced that I can so often get full on Jesus, but then rest in my salvation in luxury and self indulgence. I'm safe. What else do I really need to worry about? Now I don't actually say that, but isn't that what my lack of urgency with the Gospel communicates? That I'm all that matters.
Oh that I had God's heart for those who are perishing. His love that would propel me out of luxury and into generosity and humility for their sake. His love that would lead me to deny self so that others may know their Savior.
I shared this on facebook earlier today, but I had the best conversation while playing with Ava today. She had a bunch of papers and started pretending that they were tracts and she was out telling people about Jesus (pretty sure I never played that as a kid!).
I asked a few questions as we talked, but her schpeel went something like this . . .
"This is a paper that tells you about Jesus. He is a man. And God. I don't know how that works. He made everything. See this phone? He made it. He died on the cross for our sins. But he isn't dead anymore. 3 minutes later he was raised from the dead and the angel said he's alive. He can raise you from the dead too. So now do you believe? Good. Then take this paper and tell someone else about Jesus."
Other than being a little quick on the draw about how long Jesus was in the tomb, it was a pretty good proclamation of the Gospel if you ask me!
And later as I prayed, thanking God for my sweet girl, I prayed that she would not waste one single moment of her life in luxury or self indulgence like her mama has. I prayed that her urgency and pure love for others would remain and would be the fuel that send her to the ends of the earth to declare God's love for sinners. I prayed that my heart would yield to this Word so that Ava will grow up seeing generosity, self-denial, and disciplemaking in my life.
I'd love to hear if this Word pierces your heart like it has mine and how God leads you to submit to it . . . materialistically and with the Gospel!