Tag Archive: A New Reformation


Obedience is Success

For the past two weeks, we’ve been talking about being on mission—stepping out of our comfort zones and sharing our Christian faith with others when the opportunity presents itself.

So, how do you know if you are successful or not?

When we share our faith with others, we hope for a successful end goal of healing, coming to faith, beating the addiction, or the like. But we may never know how it turns out.

I think God looks at success differently…or maybe, not at all.

God gives us opportunities to join Him in His Kingdom work, but He doesn’t leave us to work on our own. Instead, He says He will be with us. So, success is not about us, it’s about Him.

God doesn’t call us to be successful.

He calls us to be obedient.

When God calls, we have two choices. We can either step out in faith and follow His lead, or we can do nothing and ignore the opportunity.

Which will you choose?

Jeremiah chose to follow God.

The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Jeremiah 1:4-9 NLT

Did you notice Jeremiah’s excuse?

 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

Don’t we often sound the same?

I can’t talk about Jesus. I’m too…inexperienced…unqualified…shy…afraid of saying the wrong thing.

But God has an answer for our excuses.

I will be with you and I will help you. I will give you the words to speak.

And then He says, Go!

Go outside of your comfort zone.

Go from self-reliance to God-reliance.

Go where He sends you. Right here. Right now.

God had a plan for Jeremiah, and He has plans for us.

God calls us to be obedient.

And when we are obedient to Him, we are successful.

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 
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Right Where You Are

Being on mission is the paradigm shift of a lifetime. The greatest adventure is to hear the invitation and respond. The greatest tragedy is to ignore our calling and go on living life as usual. – Britt Merrick, Godspeed

Two words used to bother me…witnessing and missional.

“Witnessing” made me envision standing on street corners and knocking on doors, neither of which I’m comfortable with.

And worse, it made me flash back to the guy yelling on the college campus, telling me where I was going before 8:00 in the morning. (Note to college campus yellers: Confrontational does not invite people to listen to you or care what you have to say. I’m just saying.)

Missional is a newer term, and when I first started hearing it, “being missional” sounded like witnessing. So, I didn’t like it.

But I see these two words differently now, and they no longer invoke an instant “no way” from me.

To witness means to tell your personal story as you know it—what God has done in your life.

To be missional is to have the freedom to interact with others and tell your story when given the opportunity.

Right where you are.

Throughout the Bible, God has worked through people, not independently of them. I believe this is still the case today. I can identify times in my life when my faith grew exponentially and it was through certain people God had brought into my life at that time.

Knowing God invites us into His Kingdom work can be intimidating. But there are three thoughts that have changed intimidating to exciting for me.

Only God can change hearts. We can plant the seed, but change is God’s work, not ours. We may have the privilege of seeing someone’s heart changed, or we may never know. But God knows, and that’s what matters.

Only God can save. It’s not our job to save someone, and that takes the pressure off. If we think we have to make sure someone is saved, then it becomes about us, not God. And it’s not about us at all. It’s all about God.

There’s not just one way to share your faith with others. God created each of us to be unique, with different strengths and talents. Going to the homeless shelter may not be for everyone, but it is someone’s gift. Hosting the block party may come naturally for many, but not for all. Some may feel comfortable speaking to one…or to many. But there is not just one way to share your faith.

How do you feel about God inviting you into His mission?

Interacting with others when you see the opportunity may be far outside of your comfort zone. God tends to do that, you know—just when you feel comfortable, He stretches you a little more, or in a different way.

God has a plan for you, and if He’s moving you, it’s time for action.

Right here. Right now. With Him.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

Does My Behavior Inside the Church Support My Claim?

When we were still relatively new to our church, we arrived a little early and sat down in an empty pew. Only minutes before service began, a larger family than mine walked up to where we were sitting and looked stunned to see us there. And annoyed. Very obviously annoyed.

Although there were plenty of open pews in the same section, they looked at us, stammering and acting put out. I’m not dumb, and as I saw the mom was not going to let this drop, I asked her, “Do you want us to move?”

“Oh, no. No.” She sighed. “We’ll sit back here,” she said, finally moving to the pew behind us. Her family followed. We had apparently rocked their world.

Truthfully, if it had been our first visit to the church, I don’t know if we would have returned. I felt like we’d been put in the spotlight—the “you-sat-in-my-pew” spotlight. The one that makes you cringe and feel like you’re being stared at throughout the entire service.

It was hardly welcoming. Nor was it conducive to hearing God’s message in a worshipful setting.

Their reaction to us sitting in their invisibly-marked-with-their-name pew was not what I expected.

Their behavior did not support their claim of being Christians.

It’s easy to notice an unfamiliar face in church, especially if they don’t fit what we expect to see. It might be how someone is dressed, how they act, or where they sit. We notice it.

But after noticing, how do we respond?

Do we look past what we see on the outside and welcome them? Or is our vision clouded by what we first see, causing us to become judgmental?

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 NLT

I wonder if how we react depends on where our thinking starts—with ourselves or with others.

When I think of myself first, I see life from my viewpoint. How could she wear that? It’s inappropriate.

When I think of others first, I don’t see how I’m affected, but what it means for the other person. He’s here alone. That must be really hard.

Or when I consider what God might be thinking. {Big smile} My daughter is here today.

What does our reaction say about us as Christians?

Having been on the receiving end of disapproving stares makes me think back on how I’ve reacted when someone or something wasn’t what I expected to see. And from what perspective I view unfamiliar faces.

How about you? Does your behavior inside the church support your claim of being a Christian?

 

In Christ,
Laura

Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith

 

Does My Behavior Inside the Church Support My Claim? is Part Two of a two-part postFor Part One, click here: Does My Behavior Outside the Church Support My Claim?

 

This is Part One of a two-part post. Click here for Part Two: Does My Behavior Inside the Church Support My Claim?

I keep hearing questions about church attendance.

Why is it going down?

Why doesn’t church attendance seem to be a priority anymore?

Why aren’t we attracting new members?

While I think there are many factors, I wonder if part of the reason is how Christians are perceived by others.

In general, Christians are seen as judgmental, anti-almost-everything, and critical of anyone who doesn’t attend their church (and even some who do attend their church). This perception is reinforced through stories of religious extremes broadcast by the mainstream media.

But what about right here, today—does my personal behavior tell others I’m a Christian?

I don’t mean making sure a neighbor knows I go to church every weekend, or collecting canned goods for every food drive. (Not that those are bad.)

I’m talking about the way we handle life—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

When someone flat-out disagrees with me, do I respond in kindness or hostility?

If I say I trust God, do I practice that?

Do I act like following Jesus is easy, or am I honest with others that it can be a struggle?

When someone I know is going through a rough time, do I offer pat answers or express honest compassion?

When something in my life goes well, do I give the glory to God, or take the credit myself?

My point is…

Does the way I act in my day-to-day back up my claim of being a Christian?

I can talk all I want about going to church and stress that my neighbors should go too, but if the way I live shows Christianity isn’t doing me much good, why would they want to join me?

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

When I’m able to see how God has worked in someone else’s life, it makes me want that relationship with Him too.

And my prayer is that others will see Jesus reflected in me, and want to get to know Him the way I have.

And so on, and so on, like a Christian ripple effect.

Maybe getting people through the church doors for the sake of filling the pews isn’t the goal. Maybe the goal is reflecting Christ in our lives so others will want to join us there.

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

Does My Behavior Outside the Church Support My Claim? is Part One of a two-part post. Click here for Part Two: Does My Behavior Inside the Church Support My Claim?

 

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