Lifestyle Christianity: Are you Living it or just Professing it?

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Photo via Court and Classroom

Casual Christianity causes casualties.

Think about it. These are those who profess with their mouths they are Christians, but their lives look just like the world they are called out of.

By definition, the word casual means ‘relaxed, loose’ or something ‘done without much thought’ or ‘not regular or constant.’ 2 Timothy 3:5 defines casual Christians as those who hold on to a form of godliness, but deny its power. Do you see how damaging this is, not only as a stumbling block for others, but the biggest casualty is actually the casual Christian himself.

God didn’t call us so we can be casual Christians just barely getting by. God has called us to be lifestyle Christians. Listen! If casual Christianity causes casualties, lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE!

Jesus is life and when we live for Him we are living an abundant life!

Romans 8:6 says “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” And in 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” To ‘be ready always’ is to make Christianity your lifestyle. It’s not just a profession from your mouth, it’s who you are in your heart.

I would love to share with y’all 3 testimonies of lifestyle Christianity from the past couple  weeks. Please know, I’m sharing this not to boast in myself because I’m still a novice in stepping out into evangelism, but I’m sharing this to boast of Christ. I’m sharing this to encourage you to acknowledge the Lord in ALL your ways! You with me?

So, the first testimony occurred at the gym this last Saturday morning. We had just finished an hour and a half class and I was heading out the door when a lady stopped me. So, I recognized this lady from a REFIT® class I used to teach. My last class was a couple months ago, but she goes on to tell me, with tears in her eyes, how much a prayer I prayed for her after one of my classes really had ministered to her.

Now, I vaguely remember praying for her, but I have no recollection at all of what I prayed. But two months later, it was still near and dear to her heart. So much so, it still brought tears to her eyes. Awesome, right!?! Praise Jesus!

All God is looking for is a yielded vessel He can speak, work, and move through. 

The second testimony from this week was from my 8 year old son, Elijah. He’s been reading this book by Shawn Bolz called “Growing up with God” which teaches kids how to hear God’s voice. Well, Sunday, lo and behold! Elijah comes home from church telling us how he heard God speak to him.

The next day, he’s still so excited, he comes home from school and wants to post a video on Facebook sharing his testimony. Y’all, I had been doing laundry all day and still had not taken a shower after my workout that morning. And he’s wanting us to do this video now! Again, we have to be ready in season and out (I think my version that day read, ‘we have to be ready with make-up and without!’ LOL!).

But would you know! His video has had over 7000 views?!? The author of the book picked up Elijah’s video and shared it on his Facebook page. Incredible! This was his very first testimony ever and over 7000 people heard it!!! Psalm 132:12 says, “If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne forevermore.”

Lifestyle Christianity rewards are here and now and forevermore!

The last testimony I’ll share happened just today. I was in the checkout line at my local grocery store and a young girl was checking my groceries. I noticed the bagger boy was kind of flirting with her and she was desperately trying to ignore him. So, to help a girl out, I started making conversation with her. I found out she had just received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and that she was getting ready to move to out of state to look for a job.

So, I just start praying blessings and favor over her and that God would open up doors of opportunity for her. Side note: do y’all realize, we don’t have to take someone by the hand and close our eyes to pray? Prayer is not a demonstration. God is. Right? So, she’s there scanning groceries and I pray over her just in normal conversation.

After I prayed she stops scanning and starts pointing her finger at me grinning. She says, “That’s how I know you! I knew you looked familiar, but couldn’t figure it out till you started praying.” Trying to add two and two together, I look at her and ask, “So, I’ve prayed for you before?”

She’s gleaming ear to ear and says, “Yes! You prayed for me before I took my last set of exams! And I scored 40 points higher on that test than I did the one before that!”

Haha! Did I remember that? Not at first, but vaguely after she started relaying details. But the point is this:

I want to be known as the woman who prays in the checkout line! I want to be known as the mom with no makeup on who helps her 8 year old share his testimony on Facebook! I want to be known for showing the love of Jesus everywhere I go!

Have I got this all figured out? Absolutely not! But I do know all I need to do is follow the One who does have it all figured out. All it requires is boldness and obedience. This is lifestyle Christianity! Lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE! And this is living, y’all!

This is living!!!

Radical Love Overcomes Offense: In God we Trust

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Jesus was one of the most offensive people to walk this earth. Imagine what the Jews were thinking when He said to them, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Remember, the Law of Moses sternly forbade drinking or eating meat with blood remaining in it. Yet, Jesus was asking them to eat His flesh and drink His blood! How absurd!

Furthermore, He overturned the tables of the money exchangers in the temple. He broke the Sabbath by healing a man and then had the audacity to tell the once lame man to carry his mat. He proclaimed He came from heaven and declared Himself equal to God. He called the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time, a brood of vipers and pointed out they, not only did not know God, but they were serving the father of lies, the devil!

Over and over again, Jesus offended the mind. The ones who fell into grumbling and complaining were the same ones who crucified Him. Dying on the cross was the ultimate offense. How could the King of Kings appear so weak? If He was Messiah, why didn’t He save Himself? These were all questions the crowds were asking.

Yet, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His equality with God are foundational truths for true faith in Him. He wasn’t afraid to expose darkness. Jesus, the Messiah, walked in humility. And His death on the cross was the most offensive display of love ever to be witnessed. He wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest, He was trying to save the world. He died so we can live. What radical love is this?

I said all that said to say, similarly, there’s a lot of grumbling and complaining in our world today. I petition you, don’t be so quick to judge on the surface or by outward appearances. Pray and ask God to reveal where He is working to you. Because He is working.

What appears offensive at first glance, may have the anointing of God all over it. The United States of America is still one nation under God. Whether all who live here acknowledge that does not distort the truth. God still sits on the throne and His mercies flow like a raging torrent across this land! His mercies are new every morning! His mercies overtake the just and the unjust! 

I pray God will anoint our eyes to see where He is moving. May our prayers for this great nation fall into cadence with the One who holds all things together. Father, forgive our offense. Let us rise higher than the confusion and sync ourselves with Your heartbeat. I pray peace in our souls and peace over our land. May our gaze be forever upon You that we may witness Your great and mighty winds of revival that are about to take this nation by storm.

Just as You have loved with a radical love, may we also love with a radical love. A love that overcomes offense.

In God we trust.

“Call to Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know…Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.

And I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and I will rebuild them as they were at first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me, and by which they have transgressed against Me.

And it shall be to Me a name of joy, praise, and glory before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear of all the good that I do for them, and they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.” — Jeremiah 33:3, 6-9

 

Stable or Palace: Where are You Looking for Jesus?

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Photo via emiling.com

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will bind a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.'” –Luke 2:10-12

The Son of God born to the son of man, so the sons of man could be sons of God. Incredible, right!?! God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Take the Pharisees for example. They were the wise religious leaders of the time – professed worshippers of the God of Abraham. Yet, they did not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as Christ the Messiah. They were looking for a king born in a palace, not a carpenter born in a manger. They were looking for riches, power, and prestige, not humility and servanthood.

The image of the Messiah the Pharisees had created in their own imaginations looked nothing like Jesus Christ, the true Messiah. So they rejected Him. And, in doing so, led many astray. 

And Jesus told them in John 8:19, “You know neither Me nor My Father, if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” And again in verse 42 He reiterates, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” That’s a harsh word, but Jesus doesn’t tell you always what you want to hear. He tells you what you need to hear.

These are the last days and just like the Pharisees, many will fall into deception. They will seek messages that tickle their ears. Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The fruit Satan used to tempt Eve appeared good for food, delightful to the eyes, and desirable.  And Satan twisted the truth God had spoken just enough so that Eve believed it. It was a deceptive trap and Eve fell.

There’s redemption, but there’s also prevention! You must get the Word of God into your spirit so, through the Holy Spirit, you can discern truth from deception. The Word of God will guard you from deception and renounce the lies the enemy has spoken over you, so that you can receive the fulness of Jesus Christ! I pray you have a hunger for the Word like never before! 

This Christmas season and every season, may you recognize Jesus – even when He’s in the stable and not the palace. May you come to truly know Him, not just of Him or about Him. And may you walk in the abundant life he destined for you!

***REFLECTIONS***

  •  What preconceived ideas do you have of Jesus? Are you, like the Pharisees, looking for Jesus to appear, work, or move in a certain way? When we put Jesus in a box we are limiting Jesus from operating freely in our lives. Furthermore, Jesus is moving in new ways like never before and we must live with our spiritual eyes wide open so we don’t miss Him! 
  • Are you praying, but also handing Him solutions on how He should answer your prayer? When we pray, we need to release our burdens to Him and trust Him in answering. His ways are not our ways. Jesus always has the perfect way with perfect timing!
  • How much time are you spending in God’s Word? God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. It shows us the way to walk in. The word of God is also like a mirror to our soul, revealing the true nature of man. It leads us to repentance, gives us wisdom, and is the truths of God. When we abide in the Word we will not be deceived. 
  • Have you eaten the fruit of Satan thinking it was good, but later realizing you were deceived? There is redemption. Repent, turn from wickedness, and call upon the name of the Lord. Accept Him as your Savior. Receive the ultimate gift, salvation. There is therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1). 

Slave to the Masquerade

Dove & Sword Ministries

(Photo via Google Images)

Tis the season for masks, costumes, wigs, and face paint. Dressing up as someone else is loads of fun! My boys have totes full of costumes they have worn throughout the years. Pretending to be anything from a professional football player, a super hero, a storybook character, a pirate, or a clown.

They love parading around in these costumes and taking on the persona of their character for the night. Their voice changes an octave or two. Their walk and other mannerisms change. They begin saying things they don’t normally say. “Ahoy, me hartys!” But when all the paint is washed off and they exchange their costumes for their pajamas, they are just my little boys again waiting to be tucked into bed.

Yet, seeing my youngest dressed up like Spiderman shooting fake webs from his wrist makes me wonder…

How many of us…

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Sister Verna’s Harvest

Dove & Sword Ministries

octpumpkinpatch111-3 Photo via vixen-vintage.com

The air is a bit crisper, the days a bit shorter, and the leaves boasting a bit more color. Yes, fall is upon us. So, in honor of my favorite season, I’d like to share a harvest-time illustrative story I wrote teaching the biblical principle ‘faith, not works‘. Enjoy!

***

I see a field and I buy it. Boy, this woman is already oozing virtue! Quickly, I run through a mental checklist making sure I have everything I’ll need. Hoe? Check. Tiller? Check. Seed? Check. Compost? Check.

Yes, I believe that’s it! God has called me to cultivate and I am so excited to show the Lord the harvest I’m going to bring in! He’s gonna love it!

Well, it may not be as good as Sister Jane’s. But, I mean… who can compete with that? Really!?! I’m sure if I had a nice big, fancy…

View original post 908 more words

Sister Verna’s Harvest

octpumpkinpatch111-3
Photo via vixen-vintage.com

The air is a bit crisper, the days a bit shorter, and the leaves boasting a bit more color. Yes, fall is upon us. So, in honor of my favorite season, I’d like to share a harvest-time illustrative story I wrote teaching the biblical principle ‘faith, not works‘. Enjoy!

***

I see a field and I buy it. Boy, this woman is already oozing virtue! Quickly, I run through a mental checklist making sure I have everything I’ll need. Hoe? Check. Tiller? Check. Seed? Check. Compost? Check.

Yes, I believe that’s it! God has called me to cultivate and I am so excited to show the Lord the harvest I’m going to bring in! He’s gonna love it!

Well, it may not be as good as Sister Jane’s. But, I mean… who can compete with that? Really!?! I’m sure if I had a nice big, fancy tractor and all that expensive cultivating equipment my crops would yield like hers too!

Okay, back to the task at hand. Shew! I haven’t even broken ground and I’ve already broken out in a sweat. Focus, Verna! But just looking at all this barren ground around me makes this task seem so daunting! Where to start… where to start. Oh! I almost forgot! Brother Tom’s “How to Manual.”

Step 1: Find a spot. Well, I’ve already done this by purchasing a field and all. Moving on. Step 2: Prepare the soil. Dig and churn all packed dirt approximately two feet down.

Wow! Two feet down, eh? That’s pretty deep. So, I may not have a tractor like Sister Jane, but I do have a tiller. I cannot imagine how poor Sister Pam does it with her little hoe. Bless her heart!

Alright, God. This isn’t so bad. Me and my trusty little tiller are breaking new ground in the name of Jesus! All for Your Glory!

— 8 HOURS LATER —

Oh, dear Lord! That was so hard! I’ve spent all day working and I still haven’t planted the first seed. The ground was so hard and I kept hitting rocks. Every time, I had to stop the tiller and pick up the rock and throw it out. Some of those rocks were so heavy.

God, I ran parallel lines and then perpendicular lines. My back aches and my hands are covered in blisters. All I’m saying is I hope You bless me with a tremendous harvest after all this effort I’m putting in.

—THE NEXT DAY —

So where was I? Here we go. Step 3: Add compost and mix it into your dirt. Well, I’m not really excited about this step. I went to my local farmer supply store and the only fertilizer they had left was a mixture of cow manure, horse manure, and straw. I just now opened the first bag and the stench is awful!

— 4 HOURS LATER —

This is so disgusting! I can’t even scratch my nose or wipe the sweat from my brow without getting poop on my face. God, are you watching? You better turn this into the Promise Land ’cause I’m surely not seen any promises being fulfilled yet!

—DAY 3 —

Step 4: Hoe your row. Now, this isn’t so bad. Gotta make them straight though. There will be no crookedness in my path. Only perfection!

Now on to Step 5: Plant your seeds. Finally! A step that seems productive. I picked out the best seeds too… Pumpkin seeds!

I know, I know… Sister Sara, said I should’ve planted something more practical. Corn, tomatoes, beans. “Verna, get something to feed the hungry,” she said.

Well, don’t judge me until you’ve had my pumpkin pie. It’s the best in five counties! I really could live off my sweet pumpkin pie. God’s gonna be so proud of me!

— 5 MONTHS LATER —

Oh, the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie! I just made the first one of the season and I’m going to sit down and enjoy every last bite! I’ll share the next one, Lord, I promise. But just looking out my kitchen window at that glorious orange patch of goodness blesses my soul! Lord, I know it has to bless Yours too. Glory to Your Name!

***

REFLECTIONS – WHO WAS LORD OF THIS HARVEST?

In this story, Sister Verna is focused on her works and fully believed the fruit of her labor would be pleasing to the Lord. Throughout, we see her walking in self-righteousness, jealousy, and competition with a lot of complaining and boasting.

She followed man’s plan and never asked God for His plan. She even chose the seed of the harvest after what she thought was good according to her flesh and missed God’s seed of the harvest which brings life into all who partake of it. In the end, her reward was no more than the pumpkin pie she devoured all by herself. Sister Verna got fruit, but it was by her own hand, not the Lord’s.

Dear friends, God calls us all to cultivate. His cultivation always produces the fruit of the Spirit and transformation into the image of Jesus. From glory to glory.

Why was Abel’s offering acceptable and Cain’s rejected? Remember, Cain was a tiller of soil. His offering was brought forth by works. However, Abel was a keeper of flocks. His offering was a blood offering; a representation of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So just as God rejected Cain’s offering of works, God will reject any cultivation brought forth by works. God is looking for a representation of Jesus.

The soil is our hearts. The seed is the Word of God. Our cultivation comes through repentance, prayer, worship, growing deeper in our relationship with Jesus, and sowing His gospel into the hearts of others. What does your harvest look like? Remember, you will reap what you sow…

***

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” –Galtatians 6:8

“All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” –Isaiah 64:6

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

Kingdom Deposits are Eternal Investments

'This is your third withdrawal this week... how about a little deposit once in a while?'
Photo via jantoo.com

What does your spiritual bank account look like? While you may be surviving on enough, God wants to bless you with more than enough. While you may be thankful you’re not bankrupt like many in the world today, God wants your account to be filled to overflowing.

Who doesn’t want that, right? I’m all in; just tell me where to sign and what to do! Haha, I hear ya!

The key to having a full-to-overflowing spiritual bank account is to make regular kingdom deposits. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

When we deposit the Word of God in us, we allow His eternal, life giving truths to resonate within us. When we have these truths within us, then we can cancel out the lies of the enemy as soon as they are spoken. The lies will not take root! The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy and we must not allow him to rob our bank account.

Allow me to illustrate this…

God creates all life with seed. Even your new life in Christ “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)

This scripture, as well as, the parable of the soils found in Matthew 13 explains that the Word of God is the seed. Then John 1:1 tells us Jesus is the Word; therefore, we can make the correlation and conclude Jesus is the seed.

We know it is the seed that gives genetic structure for which the seed will grow into. Identity is in the seed. And we know Satan’s greatest desire is to destroy the seed. Think about it… homosexuality, abortion, the widespread identity crisis epidemic. Satan wants to either keep the seed from reproducing, destroy the life of the seed, or distort the truth which brings out the purpose of the seed!

You want this truth to really hit home? Dear reader, what did Satan use in the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve? It was fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What does fruit have in it? Seed. What was he sowing in her? A false seed that was planted in his lies. She ate the fruit, the seed was sown, the lie took root, and you know the rest of the story.

Remember, each tree bears fruit after its own kind so its extremely important which seed we allow to take root. For everything true and just, Satan has a counterfeit. Not everything that tickles the ears is of God. We must pray for discernment about that which we allow to be deposited into our account. Amen?

Do you know why Satan wants to rob us so badly? Remember, he was kicked out of heaven because he wanted to be like God. God kicked him out for his pride and gave him dominion over the earth with no power thereof. And then God made Satan watch as He, our heavenly Father through Jesus, made man in His very own image.

You see, that’s exactly what Satan wanted! But God gave it to us upon Creation, and now Satan hates us because of who we are. And he will stop at nothing to spiritually bankrupt us, thus preventing us from being transformed into our fullest potential through Jesus! He wants what we’ve got!

But there’s good news! We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony! The truth sets us free! And what is the truth? It’s sharper than any double edged sword – it’s the Word of God.

So we make kingdom deposits, planting the seed of God’s Word within us which speaks forth our identity as children of God created in His image. Then we cultivate that seed through prayer, fasting, seeking Jesus, fellowship with other believers, and all things associated with spiritual growth, and what happens? We bear much fruit.

And God is such a good Father! His interest plan upon our investments is out of this world! Blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor! We will begin reaping where we did not sow and our cup will overflow with the goodness of God! So much so, that we will be able to pour out into others. Praise Jesus!

I’ll leave you with one final note: We pull out of our deposits, but God pulls out from His substance. However, when our deposits take root, they become our substance. These deposits transform us more and more into His image and, when cultivated, will produce much fruit for His kingdom.

Blessings to you, in Jesus name! May you bear much fruit for Him!

Michelle