Wednesday, August 21, 2013

take up your cross.

Familiar phrase? It takes me back to my Sunday school days. We were always learning and being called to “take up our cross and follow Jesus...” But that ended up becoming a moralistic, legalistic chokehold. Can I get an "Amen?" It was a lot of “try harder, do better.” That isn’t what Jesus is commanding us.

This coming week at church we will be talking about what it looks like to follow Jesus the way Jesus tells us. I am excited. Mostly, because I know it won’t be a sermon about trying harder and doing better because that’s a bunch of BS.

I was reading in Matthew and Luke this morning. (Matthew 4:18-22 & Luke 9:23-27 to be exact.) Jesus is calling his first disciples to “take up your cross and follow me.” So, what does it mean to take up our cross? You ready? This seems to be impossible, but here it is: to take up your cross means to renounce selfish ambition. Dang. Is anyone else thinking, "I am so selfish. How could I possibly renounce that because I am selfish all of the time?” I really doubt I am the only one. I’ll give you good news right now so you don’t fall into the temptation of believing you have to try harder to not be selfish. Jesus died for the many ways our wicked hearts scheme to get what we want and the entitlement we feel when we don’t want to do something. He knew that when He asked us to follow him; he knew we would continue to fail time and time again. That’s good news! That’s great news! Because if our standing with the Lord was based on our performance we would all be screwed. 

But, Jesus DID call us to renounce our selfish ambition. He called us to die to ourselves. This is hard. This is SO hard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that Jesus “bids him come and die.” This is impossible to do without remembering the gospel truth that Jesus bore the cross of death in our place because he knew we couldn’t do this. He knew we needed his help. We NEED his help all of the time. We need his help most of all on our quest for being obedient and following Him, because it can be so easy to get caught up even in our attempt to be selfless. 

So, have you died?  Renouncing our selfish, hedonistic lifestyle, admitting we need a Savior, and putting our hope IN that Savior is the only way we will experience true joy. Death was the way of life for Jesus. He isn’t asking us to try harder or do better because when we work to try and earn the gift of salvation (which we can't) it leaves us exhausted and in despair (which totally sucks).

He is asking us to come, die, and to LIVE. He wants to make us new. So even in the midst of missing a workout, or not waking up early enough to have your coffee and few minutes of solitude before your kids wake up or whatever you are doing to try and earn or work for righteousness, Jesus already paid for that. You can relax and rest in knowing that He is enough for you. That He died for you and is asking you to follow him by trusting and believing in the Gospel.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

freedom in Christ; joy in community

Community. So many things come to mind when I hear or see this word. Sometimes I ache at the thought of knowing so many people lack community. Others choose not to engage in a community of people. I also experience great joy when I see or hear this word. I begin to think of all the times God has been so faithful to provide me with community in so many different seasons of my life. I am reminded that without the death and resurrection of Jesus, community is not possible. I bask in the truth that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection he has set us free for freedom’s sake (Gal 5:1). 

Our church had our regional Gospel Community meals this past week. We gather all throughout the city in different locations to meet with people from our church body. It allows for those interested in joining a Gospel Community (I will now refer to this as GC) to meet some of the leaders. My husband and I are leading our GC this year. We are pretty excited. Anyway, this meal provided an opportunity for us to meet some people who may be interested in joining our group. I realized I am slowly beginning to become more introverted, so events like this make me nervous. To be completely honest, there were a few awkward moments. Realizing the interests of us may not be the interests of another and my heart begins to close off and self-righteousness kicks in. (I suck, okay. I know this.) Anyway, this meal was a reminder of our need for community. I don’t say this to mean, “Our need to have friends and get together once a week and eat snacks and talk briefly about Jesus and laugh a funny jokes.” Yes, that is a plus. But when I think about community and what the bible says about community is MUCH deeper than that. Community exists to first and foremost worship a Holy God and together proclaim the good news of Jesus. You may be thinking, “Oh, but I can do that on my own, in my own time, without taking time out of my BUSY (cause your time is more important that everyone else’s right?) week to get together with a bunch of people that I actually don’t feel comfortable sharing my junk.” But I believe because of this mindset, that’s one of the very reasons we need community. We need to make time in our week to get together with people we love and some people we may not click with to be reminded of the good news that Jesus lived a life we couldn’t and died a death we deserved to rescue us from that very junk we don’t want to talk about. 

“But what if they think I’m weird?” “I couldn’t possible let anyone know that about me.” “I confess my sins to God all of the time and I still keep falling into the same junk so I don’t think I could let anyone know that.” Do you tell these things to yourself? I mean honestly I do at times. So often I hide my fears, my self-righteousness because I think I can handle it on my own. (HA!) We can’t handle these things on our own and thats so FREEING! We don’t have to. I am thankful for the truth in James, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Whaaat? If I tell others about my sin, I will be healed? Yes. Now, I don’t know what that always looks like, but we have the freedom to confess our sins to one another because of the gospel of Jesus. Because of the truth that what Christ accomplished on the cross, our sins are forgiven. So we are free to confess our junk to one another. We are free from people judging us (even if they do because people suck; because we are humans in need of a Savior all of the time). But by confessing our junk to others, people can pray for us. People can intercede to our Holy God about the pain we are experiencing or the anxiousness that has completely consumed our souls due to a job situation or an unhealthy relationship or whatever. There really is freedom in being honest with people about this stuff.

Anyway, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore; and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” ( Galatians 5:1). I love this verse. I tend to love it more when shared in community with other people. There is opportunity to remind one another of this truth when we forget it. We all have those days we are beating ourself up over and over again and community allows us to remind one another of our freedom in Christ. 

I don’t know what your community looks like. You may fall into that category of not really having community or you’re choosing to hide and not be a part of a community. I’ve been there. It sucks. It feels like you’re trapped and you aren’t experiencing any freedom. The good news is that Jesus died for even that. He wants us to be in community with one another to confess our sin, to worship God and to experience freedom in Him. Community is sustained by the Gospel. We need the Word of God to give us life as we continue to experience the freedom we have in Christ together.

Monday, August 12, 2013

foot massages & treadmills

Why is this post titled foot massages & treadmills? Because it is. I’ll explain.

I tend to forget how wicked my heart is and in need of Savior. Yesterday went by too fast. We had church in the morning, went to lunch with some friends and I worked on this blog cussing and being impatient as I tried to figure out some dumb html stuff. Before we knew it was 5 o’clock and we decided to rent a movie. Dustin also decided it would be a good idea to get food from McDonald’s (I guess this means that I agreed). Monopoly at McDonald’s was almost over, so why not? So off we went to go rent our movie and order our McDonalds. After getting home, eating, and preparing for this morning’s coffee and my husband’s lunch, it was time to watch our movie. Earlier yesterday, I had left the treadmill down. I like to leave the treadmill down. Mostly because I feel like when I do I am more motivated to get on it. I mean, it really only takes 3 seconds to put it down if it’s been up. Whatever. Dustin asked me to put it up (our treadmill is in our dining room and our dining room was huge until we had some furniture in there recently...anyway). I instantly swelled with pride. Mostly stemming from the fact I was mad at myself for just eating McDonalds (I ate a snack wrap). My inner dialogue is, “Doesn’t he know that it’s more motivating for me to leave it down? What is the big freakin deal if I leave it down? He needs to just get over the fact that it’s down. It’s not the end of the world. Seriously, you can walk on the other side of the dining room.” Woof. I was reminded in that moment how I was making this a much bigger deal than it really was. Why couldn’t I serve my husband by putting the treadmill up? It only takes 3 seconds. I begin to be hard on myself, “Kiley, you can do better. You just need to try harder next time to be nicer and to not let those things affect you.” This is such BS. Sure, I can be nicer next time, but not relying on myself to do so. My heart is the issue. My pride is the issue. That’s where my need for a Savior comes in. “Lord, HELP me. Show me my pride; show me the places of my heart that need to be reminded of your grace and your love for me. HELP ME love my husband by serving him even if I do think his request to have the treadmill up is absolutely ridiculous.” I didn’t apologize. I put the treadmill as a way to serve (okay, in my heart I did it to appease my husband, not because I wanted to). We put in our movie. There we were: bitter, unresolved and not entirely pleasant.

During our movie, I asked Dustin to rub my feet. I ALWAYS ask Dustin to rub my feet. In fact, it’s probably extremely annoying. He didn’t immediately begin to rub them (I’m impatient, remember?) So, I said, “whatever.” Ahh, yet another moment my selfishness and impatient heart comes overflowing out of my loud mouth. Jesus, I need you. I find out later, that during the whole movie, Dustin was mad at me. He said he was “holding a grudge.” Now, don’t get me wrong...that’s not really my problem. However, I saw how my sin so easily affected him and his heart. I don’t put that on myself, thank the Lord, but marriage is supposed to be about making one another holy, is it not? Not happy. What a terrible lie that we so easily believe from the world. If we wanted to make each other happy we would be so exhausted. I would want a foot massage ever 30 seconds and Dustin would want to probably never rub my feet again. So, like, that’s not going to work out.

Anyway, the point is, I would love if Dustin and I could communicate better and resolve conflict faster... we are working on that. However, I am thankful for those moments that reveal the dark places of our hearts so we can repent, forgive one another and continue to ask the Lord for help.

Marriage has continually revealed to me my sin. I would say that it’s been the most humbling thing I’ve ever done. Marriage is hard. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that because I am constantly reminded that my hope cannot be found in my husband. Even if I wasn’t married, my hope cannot be found in the idea of marriage. My hope cannot be found in “doing better, trying harder.” My hope cannot be found in not eating McDonalds and working out every single stinkin day. This is a place my hope can be found. It can only be found in the cross of Jesus. That is where my hope and treasure lies. Jesus lived a life we should have and died a gruesome death that we deserved. I am way more sinful than I would like to think of myself, but more loved and welcomed than I could ever hope for. God has no wrath left for me because Jesus satisfied that on the cross (Romans 8:1). This is good news. This is the only news that gives us the freedom to admit we have some jacked up and our only hope is found in Jesus. Believe and trust that beautiful truth.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

hi there.

Well, here is my attempt to inform the social media world about our life. It’s messy. But in the most beautiful way I could have ever imagined. At this very moment I am in our hotel room in Springfield, MO while my husband is here for work. That is our life most of the time. He travels and sometimes I get to join him. Man, I’ve been dying to come to Springfield. My dreams are finally coming true. But in all seriousness, I am thankful for these weeks he is gone for longer periods of time (Okay, only like 4 days but it can feel like forever) and I get to join him. We go out for fancy dinners and watch ridiculous things on the hotel television. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, except for maybe a non travel occupation. If I am being completely honest, the Lord has continually worked on my heart while Dustin travels. I am learning what it looks like to entrust him to the Lord while he is gone. I get to ask the Lord for help when I become anxious about him being gone. God clearly knew what he was doing when he placed the two of us together. For that, I am so thankful.

I wanted to create this blog to keep a record of our life experiences, places we travel, people we meet and more importantly how the Gospel is affecting every part of our lives. I don’t intend to sugar coat our lives, our marriage or anything in between. In the last few years of living in Kansas City, I have learned so much of what it looks like to be transparent and to live in light of the Gospel because I don’t have to worry about being approved by other people...Jesus already took care of that on the cross. Thank you, blogspot, for allowing me to figure this out while admitting my need for a Savior...daily.