Monday, January 07, 2008

Conviction...

I think we're narrowing down the church search. We've been visiting various Sunday School classes at a local megachurch, and we may just land there. I feel torn about it because I really prefer a smaller, homier atmosphere, but David and I have never been shrinking violets, so I think we can thrive in a larger church with a little effort. But anyway.... one of the reasons we really enjoy the church is that their pastor is a great, humble guy who's been there for the past 20 something years. He has a loving family and is still on his first wife. =) And he can sure pack a punch in his sermons. David and I left this Sunday morning mulling over his sermon and brainstorming about things we can do better. Hopefully much better.

I guess the jist of some of it was that many of us have become ok with the mediocre Christian life. He wanted to know if we're ok with this continuing in the New Year. Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten the awesomeness of the gift of grace, or worse, we've taken it completely for granted. The joy of our salvation doesn't make us want to become more like Christ. It doesn't make us want to do anything but sit back and enjoy the temporal blessings that God has provided, like a warm house, cable tv, a loving family, toys for the kids, etc. We live our daily lives unimpressed and unchanged by our beliefs. We don't talk about them; we don't share them with others, even in the mildest ways.

And in not talking about our salvation or even mildly attempting to share the message of God's salvation with others, we may be saying that we don't really believe it. The pastor talked about "practical unbelief." I'm still mulling this one over. I may say I believe that Christ is the only way to God, and that I believe that his substitution for my sins on the cross is the way to be saved from a painful eternity without him, but do I really believe that if I'm not willing to share that message with others?

I sat and thought about it a bit, and I guess I didn't conclude the same thing he did about "practical unbelief." I do believe those things, on most days and in most moments. I would be a liar if I didn't say that I've had moments when I've wondered about the truth of my beliefs, especially in times of complete darkness in my life. But I think the reasons that I'm reluctant to share my faith are more complicated than that.

That being said, there was still plenty of conviction in the pastor's message for me. There are so many ways that I can try to open a conversation with my non-Christian neighbors about the gospel. I can make simple statements to gauge their interest, and I can leave it at that if they appear to be uninterested. The last thing I want to do is push someone farther away from Christ by heavyhanded attempts.

But I have been a Christian wimp. I believe in the power of the Gospel to save. Am I really such an important player in that that God can't get around me if I do screw up? All I have to do is try my best. I don't have all the answers. I'll be sweating bullets if someone asks me something I can't answer. But it is my responsibility to try to proclaim the faith that has given my life purpose and meaning and joy. I truly want others to have that joy. I guess I don't share because I'm afraid they don't want it. And I certainly can't make them desire something. I don't have the power to do that.

I don't know who reads my blog, but I'm sure there are some of you out there who don't believe in Christ Jesus. For all of you out there who do not know Him, this is my simple, pathetic attempt at presenting the Gospel. I am pathetic, but He is not. God created you, He loves you, and He wants a relationship with you. He sees everything that happens to you, and He rejoices when you're happy and cries when you're sad. There is nothing that He'd like more than to have you as His child. Unfortunately, there's a problem. He is completely and totally holy. He has never sinned, and He cannot have sin in his presence. (Believe me, we wouldn't want a God who was as sinful and shiftless as we are.)

We are sinners. We continually fall short of His perfect holiness in a million ways. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we plot murder in our hearts, we hate, we're lazy, the list goes on and on. In our worst moments, we know this is completely true about us. Thankfully, there is a way for us to come to God. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins on the Cross. Our sins deserved death, but a perfect man paid for them with his own blood so that we could come to God. There must be a sacrifice for sin, and he paid it. The only thing we have to do to be able to come into the presence of a perfect God is accept Christ's payment for our sins. I think that's completely awesome.

And for all of you out there who do know this, who would probably call yourselves Christians if asked, but who have a nagging feeling in your heart that you haven't bothered much to try and figure out if your life is displeasing to God...

God wants a relationship with you. He loves you so much, and He wants your life. He gave it to you in the first place, and He wants to see you living it for its highest purpose. He wants you to lay down at his feet all of those things that you've been holding back, all those sins that are making a barrier between you and him. He wants you to stop living with your boyfriend, he wants you to stop unashamedly hating your mother-in- law, he wants you to struggle and give up that internet pornography addiction. You'll be so glad when you do. His ways are much higher than yours, and He knows what's best for your life. Seek Him, and He will help you obey him, no matter how hard it is. You'll be so glad that you did.

There is nothing more fulfilling and wonderful than a life lived in close relationship with God. I've had that, and I've also walked away. I have cherished my sin. But it's so much better to give it up, let God cleanse you, and restore that relationship. Take it from me, a total sinner who knows that she needs this advice that she's dishing out.

Yeah, it's a cop out to witness on the web and not in real life. So I'm not going to do that. This is just a first step for me. Christ has given me so much joy, joy that didn't leave me completely even in the toughest times of my life. I believe the truth of what I say here. And I want you to know it, not so you can be just like me or do something to please me, but because there is nothing better in life than this. I pray that you will find Him in new and amazing ways this New Year. I'm praying that for myself. =)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's definitely not a cop-out to make this kind of statement as an attempt to share the gospel. It's pretty bold in fact.
My one attempt at this was quickly deleted out of fear of offending someone (shame on me!)
Enjoyed this post, just thought I'd tell you.

Anonymous said...

First off, I don't know you, but occasionally read your blog. Some I find great, others NOT....Yes, it's great that you want to spread the good news and not be ashamed to do so...but you need to come clean about yourself first before you work on other people. What I mean is; you need to stop judging people about who they are or how they look, stop repeating yourself in your blogs about money and be thankful for what you have and another is that you need to give back that stroller that you got for free because I'm sure that their are plenty of women who need strollers for their babies but cannot afford them. Feeling GUILTY?? you should be. It's great you want to share the GOSPEL, but how would Jesus Christ feel about your actions? Think about it.

Anonymous said...

WOW.
Maybe this has become a little off-topic from your post, but...
I have to agree about that stroller...it did seem to come by ill-gotten means. Come on, your wonderful Attorney husband can afford to buy your baby a stroller, and you know that. You didn't need to beg one off shamelessly and greedily. If you're not aware of that, maybe just think about it. And the money thing...I have to agree there, too. You've been so richly blessed, but you talk about money endlessly, as though God hasn't given you any of your needs. Please just think about that, too.

Momma B. said...

Well, it's too bad that so many people have so much to say about YOU but are not even brave enough to share THEIR names....
All I can say is that the name Jesus Christ is offensive. The TRUTH is often offensive. If others find you offensive, then you must be doing something right. Love you, sis!
KELLI

katie said...

Ellen-
I am the first anon - didn't use my name because you don't know me. But I love your blog for your honesty and I feel so badly that these women (I'm assuming women) are being so harsh.

Do people honestly think just because someone is an attorney they are set for life?? Get real!!
We should all try to be frugal with our $$ regardless of how much or how little we have - and I'm sure a lot of people enjoy your thoughts on living a frugal life.

You shouldn't feel one bit guilty over a multi-million dollar company giving you a free stroller - anyone who says you should is quite frankly jealous that they never thought to ask!

You are trying to be honest about your daily walk through life and most people appreciate that - Those who don't should find a new blog to read-- or better yet --start their own so they can complain all they want that they didn't get a free stroller!:~)

Anonymous said...

It's not about getting a free stroller or how big the company is. Look at the bigger picture....It's STEALING!!!! Frugal - To get things for less; not calling a company and asking them to send you a stroller in exchange for a spot on blog in which their was no praise, just complaning about the color. People choose to remain anonymous, due to the fact that an argument always ensues because one person always thinks their right. This is not a post to bash, it's to let one know that before the preaching starts, look within ones self.

Ellen said...

Ok, apparently this blog got some people talking while I was out today. =) I appreciate the comments. I am in a continual process to "come clean about myself." I would be the last person to say that I don't have sin issues in my life that I need to work on. I know myself too well, and there is plenty there to deal with. I hope that I haven't come across as being ungrateful for what I have; I'm very thankful for every bit of it. My attempts to be frugal are attempts to be a good steward about that. I do worry sometimes that I think too much about saving and money, and that is something I'm working on. One can go overboard on a new thing. =) I write about what I'm thinking of at the time, and I know it might be repetitive, but hey, this is my blog, and if I'm too repetitve, y'all can all go away until I stop it. =) We have plenty, and I'm thankful for that, but we are not wealthy. We took a pay cut so that my husband can do a job that he loves. All attorneys are not wealthy. About the stroller, though. It was a comp in exchange for advertising, and I will stand on that. There is no sense in which it was stealing. Companies provide products in exchange for reviews, and I was asked to provide my opinion about it, both positive and negative. That's what I did. If someone who truly needs this stroller would like to, they can have it, or I will buy one for their baby. I don't want to make this blog all about product reviews, like some out there are, but I don't think there is anything sinful about reviewing products occasionally. Anonymous, I feel guilty all the time for the ways that I let Christ down. He would not approve of many of my actions. I'm "preaching" to myself as much as to anyone else, and I thought that I was clear about that. Fortunately, He forgives, and I try to ask His forgiveness for my sins. That's all us sinful people can do! =)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ellen.
This Anonymous appreciates your response. (Note, I'm only one of the anonymous'. That much I admit.) I love to read your blog, and many times when I read your thoughts, it's easy to interpret them perhaps differently than you intend them. You have a level of honesty that is daring, at least for me, in that I don't consider myself "that" honest. And sometimes, perhaps I interpret your daring honesty as bragging or flaunting. Perhaps that's my problem, not yours. I have to say, given the comments that were thrown at you, you handled your response with grace & dignity, and not by lashing out or getting even, which you could've easily decided to do. I do respect that. As for the stroller... :) ... let's just say I agree to disagree, and leave it at that. As for money, I know that your husband put much effort into the achievements that he's seen, and that you both have sacrificed for one another for those achievements. It is those achievements that have enabled you to be a SAHM; that's not something every Mom can be. I, too, manage my finances wisely. I, too, shop frugally & limit spending. And my income is a mere fraction of what I can imagine your husband's to be. I have no choice but to have this money sense. But please don't try to make me feel that you can relate to my income & my need to be frugal, because you can't, and you never will. Your frugality is by choice. Mine is by force. This is where we are different. All things aside, I say again, this Anyonymous appreciates your honesty, yet again. It does help it when you put clarification on your bold honesty. Makes it easier for me to understand.

Ellen said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I don't want to come across as someone who brags and knows it all. Frugality and need are all so relative. I know that we have never known true want, and I'm thankful for that. Even when David was in law school, and I made $10 an hour, and the govt. gave us every penny of our taxes back, we still had everything we really needed. =) I know that my situation doesn't relate to a lot of people. And I know that I can't relate to a lot of people out there. The choices we've made mean that we need to cut some costs in order for me to stay at home and live in a house and not an apartment. Plenty of people would kill to be in this situation, and I know that. Their financial lives are a lot tougher. But we all compare ourselves to those around us. I live in the poorhouse compared to many around me, so sometimes I feel sorry for myself, even though I really know that I have everything I need and more. There may be many people who look at you and feel like you have so much compared to them that you'd never understand their situation. I'm sure there are many people in other countries who would be wondering why any of us are ever complaining if they could read this. =) We all have days when we whine because we can't have some little treat that we'd like because we're trying to cut costs because of the choices we've made or have had thrust upon us. I'm writing about my way of dealing with that and the general insecurity I feel when I look at the economic situation of our country as a whole. What I say may not feel useful to you, but it might be useful to someone else who relates better to my situation of staying home on a budget. So I write my little online journal, and I hope that it's helpful to someone, even if it's not helpful or appreciated by everyone.