Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beliefs with Benefits
"What people who are saved, but who don't feel saved, need to know is that their salvation does not depend upon how they feel but upon what Christ has done for them. What Christ has done is summarized in the thirty-sixth question of the (Westminster) Shorter Catechism. the assurance of our salvation, the love of God, and our progress in the Christian life are depicted as the fruit of God's work on our behalf. We must look outside of ourselves to what Christ has done to rest assured in these benefits." Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

After reading this article "Basking in the Benefits" where the above paragraph is from, I couldn't help but think about how important it is to know what we believe and why we believe it. The American Church is so diverse, you could shop for a church for weeks, months and years and not find one that suits you, if you did not set a criterion for which you will even consider becoming a part of a local body of believing Christians, never mind shopping for one.
The article goes on to say,
"This particular question and its answer reminds us of the precious truth that the work of Jesus Christ is the ground of our assurance, the proof of God's love for us, and the sure sign that God intends to finish that good work that He has already begun in us. (Phil 1;6)"

We are the sheep of the Good Shepherd and it some ways we are stupid, trust our feelings instead of the Truth and we need to be reminded. C.S. Lewis has written in one of his books that it is not so much that we need to be taught as it is we need to be reminded. Reminded that it is Jesus Christ who justifies, adopts and sanctifies. That as His child, I am dearly loved. Obedience brings freedom to live by the Spirit and the list could go on.
These days I am in search of the truth about God, His Word, The Gospel, and Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, what people are for and what God would have me do as I near the end of the race called parenthood. I am thirsty for His Grace and I want to know the truth, so that I can make headway in one of the most if not the most important endeavor in this life and that is to love my fellow man. Knowing what I believe about God and Man, may be the avenue in which the Love of God can flow through me and spill out on to my fellow human beings. It takes effort on my part but I am totally dependent on God. The results are in His Hands not mine.
So my devotional this morning is a urging me to remember that "The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end." (answer to the Q36.) We can run and not grow weary as long as I am dependent on God and not on myself and my feelings.
I guess I am just a realist who doesn't believe in feel good Christianity that may try to tell me that if I am not feeling good then perhaps I am not a child of the living God. Life does not always feel good. Sometimes you find yourself riding the subway and it feels like you will never get off or see the light of day again, but being in good company, enjoying the ride anyway and knowing that yes, the train will let you off without paying another fair and soon you will feel the wind at your back.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Opening Your Heart not Just your Home
An Introduction

Heart, n.
  • 2. the central, innermost, or vital part: Oxford Dictionary
  • 4. The seat of the affections and passions, as of love, joy, grief, enmity, courage, pleasure &c. Noah Webster 1828
Hospitality, n.
  • the friendly and generous treatment of guests or strangers. Oxford Dictionary
  • The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality. Noah Webster 1828

When I hear that someone really knows how to practice hospitality, I immediately think, that person knows how to make someone feel right at home. It is not just greeting someone with a smile but an atmosphere that embraces and welcomes you. It requires an open heart not just an open home.
The better part of the last six years, folks as far north as Quechee, Vermont and as far south as Naples, Florida, as far west as Houston, TX and a lot of places in between have opened not just their homes to us but their hearts. My older daughter, Grace has enjoyed it even wider and farther than that. It is my desire for our family to have a place of our own where we can practice that type of hospitality.

As a young wife and mother, I had a lot of fear about having anyone over. With a lot of encouragement and support from my husband, I walked through the fear again and again and again. There really is no way around it. I really had two choices: live in fear or grow through it. I am so grateful that I chose the later. Not only did I grow through it, I learned to love it!!! Friends have been made, relationships strengthen and needs have been met.

Things are strange at the moment. There are lots of unknowns but one thing I do know, that hospitality is a mindset. It is not something that you just do, but a way of life. First I learned to practice hospitality, then I learned to receive hospitality, now I am thinking about living a life of hospitality.

I can't really say, I know exactly what living a life of hospitality is, although while Grace was in Holland last summer at L'abri I read Edith Schaeffer's book L'abri Fellowship and I would say that the Schaeffers and those that have picked up the work where they left off do indeed intentionally live a life of hospitality.

I have been reading a book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (Edith's daughter) called For the Family's Sake, The Value of Home In Everyone's Life and the message is clear, people matter and that is why hospitality matters. The book is inspiring me. The whole feel and attitude of the book is so inviting as if Susan is saying across the miles, "come sit down with me, have some tea and let's visit." That is what I want to be like. I do believe that Susan and her husband Ranald have been living and continue to live the life of Hospitality.