Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ok...thank goodness, I over reacted! BabyM's diarrhea stopped very quickly, and she was able to get her vaccines! Yeah! She wasn't as excited as I was. She also gained 6 ounces in the last 2 weeks. That is progress...we think. We won't actually know until we visit the nutritionist in 2 weeks. Just keep praying about that, please.

We (the whole fam) drove to a town called Chichicastenango yesterday to meet up with Dee Farney, who was here on a mission trip to work in these medical clinics in the Chichi area. It was such a joy to get to see her and have her here in our country. We stayed at a really pretty hotel and shared a balcony with Dee. We put the kiddos down and had almost 3 hours to sit and chat with her. It was such a blessing.

We did lose her for a little bit this morning that made me pray like I haven't prayed in a long time, but it all worked out. That is a story for another time.

Ok...I may get a bit preachy b/c there has been something on my mind. It is faith and works.

Just to begin: I believe that we are saved by grace through faith. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

I do want to talk about works a bit. I believe (and this is just my opinion based on observation and experience) that the evangelical church (in America and here in Guatemala) has taught faith alone. I don't think that you can over preach saved by grace through faith, but there is a GIANT aspect missing when we don't teach works. I mean...we are told in scripture that works are the evidence of faith.

So much stress is put on the maturity of the believer. On being a good Bible student, on growing in faith. But what is growth in a life of a believer if there are no works? I mean...what is the point in faith if it is dead?

The end result of our salvation (the progressive aspect of it) isn't a more holy, less sinful, more studious, person. It is a life of good works.

Eph2:8-10 "8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

What are the things that we think of when we look for markers in the life of what we consider a mature believer? They pray a lot, they show the fruit of the Spirit, they study their Bible and have a good understanding of the Scripture?

Why do we study the Bible? Is it simply to know God better. That is very noble, and the Bible is the best way to know God better, but is that the end result? I mean, ask yourself that questions! Why do you study the Bible? Is it to become more holy? A better person? Because it feels good? To get answers to questions in your life? To find support for your beliefs, to find hope, inspiration, encouragement? Read the following with me carefully:

2 Tim 3:16-17: "16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

We see there all of the things that reading the Bible is good for. It is a wonderful list! But what is the end result of all of those things? Is it so that the man(person) of God may only be equipped? NO! It is equipped for works! We read the scriptures and we are transformed to do GOOD WORKS!

Are you doing good works? Are you feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty? Visiting those in prison, praying with/for the sick, caring for orphans and widows? (This list is NOT exhaustive)

Imagine the life of the man who gets up in the morning, goes to work, works hard, comes home, eats dinner w/ his family, enjoys his wife and kids, watches a little TV, goes to bed, gets up early, reads the Bible and prays for a little bit, and starts all over again.

Or the life of a woman who wakes, gets her children fed, dressed, takes care of the house, cleans, does laundry, cooks, takes the kids to the park, maybe to playgroup, runs some errands and buys some groceries, feeds the family, puts the kids to bed, gets a little devotional time, goes to bed, wakes in the morning and does it all over again.

These are most noble things. These are the things of life that are necessary and good. These are things that fill our time, our minds, our calendars. It is in doing these things with holiness that teaches our children about a life with God. But is that all? I mean...where are the works?

Let me interject here that I am not God, do not want to be, and therefore have no desire to sit in judgment on anyone. I am not looking at suburban men and women and criticizing them in my heart. This is a rant not directed at anyone. These are just my thoughts on the subject.

Anyway...my challenge is this. What works are you doing? What opportunities do you have for doing good works? Is your faith limited to the walls of your home? Or maybe your church sanctuary and Sunday school class? Maybe just to your wallet? (keep the wallets open, folks! He-he!) How could you do more? Not to be saved! Not to get into heaven! But to give evidence. To put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. That is what James means when he says we are justified, not just by faith, but by works!

James 2:14-24

"14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. "

Lets all go do something.

9 comments:

angelface0721 said...

ok now you have me worried about you losing dee. losing as in her heart stopped for a few seconds or losing her as in she got lost and it took you awhile to find her again?

Anne said...

That's so cool that you got to visit with Dee in your country....and...AMEN to the stuff on your mind. I'm convicted and definitely not in a bad way. Thank you!!

Sarah said...

AMEN SISTER!!!!!

Pony and Petey said...

Thank you for this post!!

Just when I start thinking that I'm "all alone" in this newest wave of misguided teaching that is sweeping evangelical Christians, someone speaks out and let's me know that there are others who are still holding to the truth of God's Word.

THANK YOU!!!!

Schweers' Mom said...

Jenny, I think I understand the gist of what you are saying, but some of us are constrained to the suburban life that you mentioned. Even though I feel sure you are not demeaning the good works that those of us who are teaching our children about Christ, praying for others, being Jesus to our neighbors, serving faithfully in the schools, loving teens by being their friend, and supporting our spouses as they need encouragement through a difficult time, I feel a tad offended that because I'm not on the mission field or serving in an area in my city that is poverty stricken, that my good works are not good enough.

I'm sure there is something deeper on your mind as you wrote this, so I'm not criticizing - I'm all for letting your works show your faith. I get that. But I just wanted to clarify that not all of us are gifted nor serve in the same way. God prepared good works for each of us in different areas during different seasons of our lives.

Just a few thoughts from a sometimes unconventional mom.

Brandon and Jenny said...

Lori - This was in no means intended to be a judgment on ANY one (certainly not someone who serves in the capacities that you do!). It was supposed to be a challenge. My questions is: what works do you (we) have?

I am not placing a value on one work over another. Teaching a Bible study is no less of a work that working in a soup kitchen. It is MUCH harder (in my own experience) to live a life of works in suburbia. The questions isn't: Am I doing enough works? Or are these the "right" kind of works? It is: Do I have a life of works that give credit to the faith that I claim. Do my actions back up my words. Or, is my faith only internal, spiritual, theoretical.

Again, I am not comparing works, just encouraging, urging, hoping, that believers are doing them.

Does that make sense? How all this plays out is exactly like you said it: God has prepared good works. Doing those things is what we are called to do. If no one was visiting their neighbors or working in the schools in suburbia, we would have a serious problem. I am to listen to the leading of the Spirit, seek out opportunities, and serve where He has me, in Flower Mound or Guatemala.

You are awesome, Lori, and I would love your thoughts on what I just wrote!

Brandon and Jenny said...

by the way...we lost Dee as in she (following directions given to her to the T) walked in the wrong direction alone. Sigh. That was a learning experience for us.

Rob said...

Jenny. Good words...

The way I always describe it is to say that saving faith is "action producing" faith. True faith will result in works. Saved by "action producing" faith alone? Absolutely!

I almost hesitate to comment, becuase I know my words will disturb some, but then again, for this same reason I will comment anyway.

Yes, works in the slums of Calcutta, or works in suburban (insert US City here) "may" both be God ordained places of ministry, or "may not". It is not for me to condemn individuals. Jesus will take care of that. But it is for me to generally encourage more to "Go".

I believe that the fact is that the church is failing in it's mission to love and serve humanity both at home and abroad outside of our home and church walls. Loving our family and serving in our churches is a necessity, but it should never replace being the hands and feet of Jesus outside of homes and our churches. This isn't a question of gifting, it is a mandate by Jesus.

I know this makes some uncomfortable... that is sort of the point. The reality is that too many Christians living in Suburbia have grown too comfortable and have accepted their suburban lifestyle and church ministry as the God ordained limit of their ability to serve and love. It certainly may be, and this should not be be taken as a judgement as it seems that it is so in vogue to do. Each person should prayerfully reflect on their situation and calling. Yet, sadly, not enough will reflect and choose to "Go".

We need SS and school teachers. We need youth leaders. We need great parents. We need pastors. We need small group leaders. We need engineers. We need grocery store workers. I get that, but we need more who are willing to go to far away places where the hands and feet of Jesus just are not present. Think about that. On Sunday morning too many are too comfortable with singing about the distant shores, but too many aren't willing to do anything about the distant shores. I believe with everything that I am, that many living comfortable (maybe even not comfortable) lives in suburbia doing "good" ministry need to be shaken out of their comfort zones to serve the poor and broken in other places. There are millions in far away places who are lost, starving, orphaned, sex slaves, beaten, and dieing and in need of the love of Christ, and no matter how "good and appropriate" one's service in suburbia might be, it may not be where God wants them to be. I believe there is an embarrassing stain upon contemporary evangelical Christianity related to our unwillingess to serve and love to the depths of Christ's love.

I am a chief sinner in this regard.

Alicia said...

Jenny,

I completely understand your questions but we must also understand that there are seasons of life. I homeschool my 3 boys, and, therefore, see my biggest area of "works" as discipling my children, raising them up and helping them find God's purpose in their lives. I also am a helper for my husband and encourager to him. When my children are grown and gone, I'm sure there will be other opportunities for me. I take this career of mothering, and teaching very seriously and see it as the place God has put me to serve at this point in time. (ie: Ministry of Motherhood - Sally Clarkson - Wholeheart Ministries)

We all should be seeking to serve and be God's hands here on earth and how that plays out will be as different as each person's walk with Christ.

Good words and thoughts. I just had to share mine too. Blessings