In the world, but not of the world

 

I am not praying for the world, but for those whom you have given me….
They are in the world….
They are not of the world….
I have sent them into the world. John 17

If you haven’t realized yet, these articles I write are just as much for myself as for anyone else. I have a hard time processing anything without writing it out. So now I’ll write out something that I’ve had in mind for a long time, and that ties into the last article I posted.

What does it mean to be in the world but not of it?

1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

To be in the world has a rather obvious meaning—we are here, “doing life” with the rest of humanity. If you’ve ever doubted that you were in the world, I’d be highly surprised. Go talk to your mom.

But to be of the world is different. According to John, “Of the world” means to be one with the world’s desires of the flesh, desires of the eye, and pride of life; the same goals, passions, purpose, and though the world may not know it, the same destiny.

The world has one goal-to be happy. It manifests its goal in different ways: the American dream, socialism, get rich quick schemes, and even funding charities to feel better.

But we, as Christians, don’t have the same goal. We don’t have the same motives, we don’t have the same purpose. Even while we buy cars, work a job, do school, take care of our families like others in the world, everything is different, because it is done for God.

The reason this ties into the last post is because the world is living for the world, but Christians, who are not of the world, are living for eternity. Before I go into how this looks practically, let me cover one more thing.

So if we have different desires and motives than this world, what does Paul mean when he says “I have become all things to all people”? 1 Corinthians 9:22.

Where is the line between being “not of the world” and yet becoming one with the world in order to win the world to Christ? I don’t believe this is an “either or.” There is no line. We can be all of both.

To become all things to all people is to break down every unnecessary boundary in order to reach someone for Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:13 “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” So we can still be different from the world in our purpose and motive, and yet put aside boundaries that disconnect us.

However there is a line concerning becoming “all things to all people.” How far can we go? We obviously can’t sin to become one with the world. Neither can we compromise our conscience. So how externally different from the world are we?

I have thought about this a lot. I don’t know that I can explain the whole thought process to you, but it has concluded in one thing, “They shall know we are Christians by our love.” *

So our clothing should be different in that it is loving.
Our music should be different in that it is loving.
Our media, reading material, internet intercourse, should be different in that it is loving.
More importantly though, our attitudes should be different in that they are loving.
Our words should be different in that they are loving.
Our actions, thoughts, and motives should be different in that they are loving.

I can’t tell you specifically what you ought to wear, listen to, or speak, but it must be loving. After all, to reflect God is the same as to reflect love.**

In this way, even though we break down unnecessary boundaries, and hopefully all of them, we are going to be different than the world. The world will see that we are different in our attitudes and motives, our words and actions. It is quite possible, in fact probable, that they will be offended. (John 15:19) But we must be sure that it is the gospel offending, and not us.

I ran through this all pretty quickly. So to recap:

  1. We are not of the world because we have different desires, passions, purposes, and motives. We are living for eternity.
  2. We are also sent into the world to win souls to God. We must break down every unnecessary boundary in order to minister God’s love.
  3. Practically, this is manifested in love. Everything must be done in love.
  4. We must be sure that the gospel is offending, not us, that we are not standing in the way of God’s work. (Jesus is the only way to God, we are not the only way to Jesus.)

I hope this all made sense and hopefully made some things a little clearer for you.

 

In Christ’s Love,
Ellie

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

 

*Why is love the reigning factor? I won’t go into this here, but there is a wonderful sermon here.
**God is Love [link]

Our Fallen World

eternity

Parting from friends for any length of time is painful. But death is the most painful parting. You can look at the body of the person you loved, but you’ll never have them back, not in this lifetime.

I haven’t experienced the death of a close loved one recently, don’t get excited, but a couple of people I know have. One death has been expected for years, months, days, and finally she was taken out of her pain and confusion. The other was frightfully sudden.

Even though both were Christians and we rejoice to know they are with Christ, I can’t help but be reminded of the reason we have death, the reason it is so painful.

Death is a product of the fall. Adam and Eve chose the curse of sin, a curse that corrupted us, our flesh, our desires, our relationship with God, and even nature itself. Our bodies are corrupted and weak, and every one of us will die.

The world has been corrupted and has set itself against God and His principles. The world system is opposed to Christianity and to mortality. It becomes more and more evident every day.
Abortion is legal in nearly every country in the world, and around half of the world legalizes abortion on request, no reason required.
Euthanization is legal in Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Colombia, Japan and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Montana.
Prostitution is now legal in the US state of Nevada.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 US states.
In 2010, suicide was the 10th leading cause for death in the US, someone killing themselves on average every 13.7 minutes.
Atheism, secular humanism, and post modernism are becoming more and more prominent and desirable.

I talk with friends who have nothing but complaints for the world. A boyfriend cheated. A friend lied. A girl dropped out of school. The same girl wants to commit suicide. Another friend is a jerk. Etc. But somehow they still believe that this, what they are striving after, is what will make them happy.

But let’s face it, this world is fallen and wicked. Cursed and headed to destruction. Things aren’t getting any better. And it’s just not worth holding on to.

Death just reminds me that this isn’t an illusion. This world is truly depraved in every way. That is why we can’t live for this world! What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul? Why would we put our hopes in a world that is actively pursuing its own destruction? Why would we choose a world that is ready to chew us up and spit us out? Why would we pursue treasures that can be stolen, and that moth and rust will destroy? Why not put our hopes in treasure that will last into eternity?

This life is but a vapor. You don’t know when it will end. The world and its joys will soon perish.

So if this world will only last a lifetime, at most, shouldn’t we live for eternity? We are just a dot, a pixel, on the line of eternity. What are you living for now? The dot or the line?

The Psalmist in Psalm 73 struggled with the temptation of the world. After he listed the many ways he envied the evil men in the world, he confessed, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

The steadfast love of the LORD is better than life. Psalm 63:3

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:1

In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Delight yourself in the LORD. Psalm 37:4

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! Psalm 119:33-40

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. Matthew 5:11-12

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose!… You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.” Saint Augustine

I suppose my point is that holding on to this world is foolishness, when soon we will be in eternity, which goes on and on.

 

In Christ,
Ellie

If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:10-11

An Exciting Adventure In Sight

My upcoming clap-my-hands event is—get ready—MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mexico-flag-2I’ve applied and was accepted for another trip to Matamoros Mexico, to the same church I went before—and can you believe it, I’m even more excited this time! (Which says a lot!)

During my first dive into Mexico, I was able to see the depths of potential, but I didn’t reach them. Specifically in two areas:

First, I didn’t volunteer myself like I might have, had I been in my comfort zone. I wasn’t looking for opportunities to step into the awkward to do some good. And I saw opportunities slip by me and I didn’t seize them. I know a second mission trip isn’t going to break me of my comfort-zone-barrier, but I’m going to put forward a better effort.

Second, I came home with the enormous task of “I must write absolutely everything front to back, and right now!” I failed, obviously. Few articles were written about the amazing experience I had and the inspiring people I met. I credit that mainly to the weight I gave myself. The enormity scared me out of it and it never got done for fear of having it done wrong. Later I did write some of it out in my journal so that I would always have it, but it never got out to the church that prayed and supported me through the mission trip. Again, it won’t be perfect this time, but I’m making it a particular goal to write these things out, and to begin while I’m there. During the last mission trip that Psalm 67 Missions Network made I heard many, “It was incredible.”s and “I’ve never seen anything like it.”s, but I didn’t hear a lot about what “it” was. I want to write that for you. I only have my skills, but I’ll stretch me as tight as I know how to document this trip.

Once more, I plead for your prayers. Exiting my comfort zone is not my strength, neither is discipline or patience. But my strength is loving people, and I want to put that into full use on this mission trip, even when loving looks and feels silly.

The trip is between May 22nd and June 1st, and until then I will be raising support, both prayer support, and financial support. I will also be working in improve my Spanish, as hopeless as that seems.

Like I said, I’m incredibly excited. We expect the Lord to do amazing things through this trip.

If you feel led to support me financially, you actually can online now, by going to my profile: https://psalm67.managedmissions.com/mytrip/elliejackson4 But I want your prayers even more than that. Prayers that God will give me a godly attitude and skillful hands.

 

In Christ,
Ellie

Updates on Life, February Addition

God is very good.

To someone who succumbs to laziness daily, loses patience more than daily, neglects priorities, and can’t seem to mature He is amazingly gracious.

Sometimes I feel like Lot who wouldn’t leave behind the city (that was about to be destroyed anyway) until the angels grabbed his stubborn hands and dragged him out. Even when I’m reluctant to leave the old behind, God still drags me into the new, and the new is good!

Even though I feel like I don’t mature, I do feel this attachment to the world is constantly fading. Its opinions and ideals mean less and less. “Living life to the fullest” has certainly lost its charm. More and more I just want the joy and peace I get in God and I want the fellowship I get from the church.

And that’s just about it.

So, looking over the month of February, I’ve learned

  • Improv piano is more enjoyable than written piano
  • Walking onto a stage to stand up for half and hour while sick is not ideal
  • The book of Revelations is mainly dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem
  • The Destruction of Jerusalem is much more significant that I ever realized
  • Daniel Webster was a jerk to invent a dictionary
  • Life without math is wonderful
  • Poetry is a good writing practice, both reading and writing it
  • Glow worms are disgusting

Another new, sort of new, accurance—well, I’m umpiring again.

I hated it so much last year! Before every single game I told myself I would never umpire again. And now for my second year I’ll be expected to improve—what was I thinking?!

I HAVE NO CLUE! So don’t ask.

But it’s too late to back out now.

I do have some plans of strategy to make this a more successful year:

  1. Study my rules and know them front and back. The only way I can be confident in my calls is by being dead sure of them
  2. Do my best to stick to softball, which means talking with the Chief Umpire
  3. Practice communicating with my other umpire, even if it’s just waving “hi” after every pitch

I have a bit of time right now to come up with a poem for the test, as I did last year.

I’m not feeling the inspiration though. I can’t get anything written. So we’ll see how that goes.

I want to thank one specific person. My darling friend Alexis constantly pulls the plug on my pride and also my gloom.

She has a beautiful and simple heart to love God and love others. She insured that “Singles Awareness Day” was anything but melancholy and has inspired me to love over and over. Our ideals, interests, and theology differs, but her smile is impossible to smother.

And now to go rolling into March–

I remain,
Yours Truly,

Ellie

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Painful Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be the most painful part of an offense. When someone has truly wounded you very, very deeply, the idea that you must pass over their sin and love them anyway is repulsive and sickening, especially when they are unrepentant.

Can you imagine a sweet girl like me carrying a grudge? Can you imagine me burning with anger for years? It doesn’t happen often but that doesn’t speak to my character, unfortunately, only to my attention span. Honestly, for me to remember to be resentful is a lot of work, and once someone makes me laugh….well their sins just slip away. Long lasting hurt and bitterness isn’t something I often deal with, but I have.

Almost two years ago I felt utterly betrayed, misused, and abused.Though the offense might not have been directed at me specifically, it was against a dear loved one and that made it worse. Anger, hurt, bitterness, and tears were all at once blown to enormous proportions. I could barely swim through all the pain to “do the day.”

Some of the anger was righteous anger; what was done was truly awful. But beyond that, I was angry and bitter at what it meant to me. I cried every day for weeks. I had dreams where everyone had forgiven this person but me, and I still shunned them.

My spirit fluctuated between two attitudes: 1 What they did doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, I can’t ever do that, and 2 I must be noble and forgive them anyway.

The path was long. It started with prayer. I knew from the start that I could never forgive them without God’s help. I prayed prayers like, “God help me to want to learn to forgive them. God, please help me to really pray for their good…. And make them eternally miserable for what they did!” Sometimes I was able to sincerely pray for their salvation. Then I would write in my journal, “I’m finally free from this bitterness!”

That usually lasted until I happened to see them again, even just for a second. All the anger and hurt would come back. I would go home and cry again.

After awhile I wrote this blog post with my first plea for prayer from others. I was pretty bad at expressing my feelings then, and they were very mixed, but my life really did feel like a grimy cement tunnel with no escape.

I have a journal on the computer where I journal everything in my spiritual life as an allegory. I called the offender “Traitor” and called my bitterness, “this rope around my foot.” I couldn’t go anywhere while it was there. Sometimes I thought it was gone, but then it would trip me again.

It took time. It took time for me to finally come around to their point of view. Every sin looks different to the sinner than the audience. The initial sting took time to wear off and I could see beyond the broad grin on their face to the emptiness that someone without Christ must carry. It took a lot of time for me to finally meet their eye for a split second and nod. It took a lot of time for me to finally give a little smile.

It took prayer, time, and compassion. Like I said, any person without Christ has a void. While grins were easy to fake—I wore fake ones every day—tears were hard to see. I could finally pray for their salvation and the fixing of their life only when I realized that without Christ, I would be worse. With Christ I have been provided everything I need for life and godliness. But without Him I would be like chaff, driven by the wind and tossed by the waves.

I don’t know when the rope around my foot was finally cut. But when they actually spoke a greeting and I wasn’t repulsed, I realized that I didn’t hate them anymore. When I heard about family struggles and didn’t feel scorn, I knew. When I saw them spend hours on the internet and had compassion, I knew that they were forgiven. But I felt like it was only me who had been freed through it all.

It is freedom not to carry around anger. Regret still lingers, but it doesn’t tie me down. I might think about the whole deal sometimes with a sigh, but it doesn’t plague my days and nights. I still don’t know what God was doing through the whole thing. I have no clue why He didn’t prevent it, but that will take time, perhaps a lifetime.

For now I pray that the Lord might save this person for His glory, and that the testimony of our family might not be lost with time.

After all, God is always good, and His grace is sufficient.

In Christ,
Ellie

A Testimony from a Sister

I know an amazing woman who has struggled with debilitating pain for quite some time now. Her body has tremors and it is hard for her to do some things, but her attitude, smile, and testimony have blessed the entire church, particularly me. She isn’t shy of sharing her struggles, and she loves the Lord.

A while ago she wrote out some things to share with the church and for awhile I forgot that I had planned to post this to my blog. I found it extremely encouraging to read over again.

Some comforts the LORD has shown me:

1.  Lamentations 3:22-23His new mercies and loving kindness each morning and it is ok to feel depleted at the end of the days because He givith more grace…

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

I am learning so much more of the LORD.  That at the very right moment He gives us what we need.  He may not take away the trial and it may get even harder.  But at the right moment He whispers His love to me.  A visit from a saint, a letter in the mail, a faithful brother or sister interceding, a scripture of Truth, and just a peace that surpasses understanding that this place is where I have you be.  His faithfulness to draw me back to Him when I stop looking to Him.  And oh so much more each and every day…This trial our trials allows us to experience our Father at such a deeper level. His grace is sufficient

2.  the necessity of the saints

Oh How we need each other.  How family of God is a grace from God.  I would have stopped running this race if I was left on my own.  The LORD uses us to help each other press on and know Him more.  During this time knowing the saints were interceding when I was to weak, getting a letter that didn’t just say God is going to make you well keep on fighting.  But letters filled with Truth reminding that healed or not healed to keep my eyes on Christ.  To find rest in Him and Help from each and every moment.  The days when I could barely speak the saints that Traveled from Kirksville would read me the Word, pray, and sing praise.  Most of the time early on I would forget what Word they brought and feel like I was empty.  But they didn’t stop coming, they didn’t stop writing, they didn’t give up on me, Christ shown through them brightly.  They helped carry their sisters burden.  I was still part of the family even miles away. And then here the warm welcome from you all. Coming to visit and pray. To show much love and concern for a stranger. To welcome me in your homes and lives. To make me part of your fellowship. Oh what a grace from the LORD.

Through out the Bible it shows the necessity of loving each other and running the race together.  

3.  choosing to believe Christ and put to death the lies

 I remembering lying in the hospital bed early on.  Before I realized this was not going to be short lived.  And the LORD brought to mind that I must choose to believe His Word and stand on His promises no matter how messed up it seemed.  And it was a decission that was going to have to be made with each attack. That I didn’t need to try to figure out what was going on.  I just needed to keep my eyes fixed on Him.  Isaiah 55:8

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

  1. Over this time when I do not take every thought captive and Philippians 4:8

think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. When I neglect this I fall into sin I start looking at myself, my circumstances, and mans thoughts.  Which results in broken communion with the LORD, a soul that is in despair and weary.  At points I confess that I get tired of fighting the fight to have to stand firm but when I don’t stand on Christ alone my feet get knocked out from under me.  We are in battle and battle is not a breeze and relaxing. As children of God we must press on.  We must cry out daily for the LORD to show us more of Him and allow the Power we already have to flow out stronger.  Our hope and expectation must not be in a laid back, delightful time here on earth but in what’s to come.  When we are in heaven with no sin or consequences of sin, getting in the way of our fellowship with the LORD.  The LORD is kind and gives us seasons of refreshment but He is also kind and gives us what we need more affliction and trials to draw us more and more to .  Daily ask the LORD for help…when you fall repent, keep seeking, keep focusing on scripture, keep running, tell the LORD you cannot do it and for Him to move mightily and give you victory

4. We as Christians have all that we need.  We can have all our dreams and desires stripped away.  Our life we are comfortable with can come crashing down in a moment and we can have a peace because God is sovereign and He has the best plan for each of our life.  Christ is enough and He will complete the work He began in you.

I am not sharing this because I have mastered it because I still have much to learn but I do share this to encourage you with your trials and afflictions!! I encourage  that each of you will allow the LORD to use the trials to grow you in Him and for Him to make His Truths a testimony of His promises ALWAYS being true.  If you don’t hope in Christ.  Repent and believe search until you find the LORD.  Seek Him because today is the day of salvation.  Christ is all that satisfies.


I praise God for placing the doctor and church so close together, for Him knitting me amongst this flock, and all the love and kindness so many have shown me.  Oh how it blesses the saints in Kirksville to know that I am in good hands and surrounded by saints to help me carry this burden.  Praise the LORD!!

Praise the Lord indeed!
Ellie