eternal life

What is eternal life?

Perhaps the most famous Bible verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus said this during a conversation with a higher-up Jewish leader, Nicodemus. He believed Jesus was a teacher especially empowered by God to perform miracles (John 3:2).

Jesus informed Nic he needed to believe a lot more than that if he wanted to “enter the kingdom of God” and have “eternal life” (John 3:5, 15). Namely, Nicodemus must be “born again” and “believe in [Jesus]” (John 3:3, 15).

Nicodemus didn’t understand the born again reference isn’t a physical rebirth but a spiritual birth the Holy Spirit enables (John 3:4-6). When we are born again by the Spirit, we are enabled to believe Jesus is more than a teacher and a miracle worker; we are enabled to understand Jesus is God’s Son, given on our behalves to save us from the eternal condemnation our sins have earned us (John 3:16-18).

Given the context, then, it is right to interpret “eternal life” in John 3:16 as most of us typically do: heaven, a never-ending, blessed existence in the presence of God with all the other believers who have finished their earthly lives.

It is right, but it is incomplete.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christians who believe Jesus is God’s Son and has saved us from our sins understand that to mean the only real difference between us and non-believers is we have the hope of heaven one day.

A lot of Christians’ day-to-day lives remain largely unaffected by the fact that we are saved. Salvation is more of a future thing for us; when we die and are judged, we won’t have to pay for our sins because Jesus already did that.

Don’t get me wrong, that is a huge deal for which we are thankful, but, for most of us, that doesn’t particularly influence our here and now.

Why?

Because we don’t understand “eternal life” is much more than a blessed future in heaven.

Jesus didn’t just use the phrase in John 3:16; He expanded on the concept in 17:3, which reads, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Now this is eternal life: that they may go to heaven one day.” No, eternal life is more than that for Jesus. Eternal life includes going to heaven one day, but it doesn’t start then.

Jesus also didn’t say eternal life is that they will know God and Jesus or that they may know God and Jesus one day. No, eternal life proper is knowing God and Jesus now AND forever in heaven.

Eternal life, then, starts the moment we are born again and believe Jesus is God’s Son who saves us from our sins.

Every day we can know God and Jesus more and more. And because they are infinite, we can live eternally in heaven with them, continuously learning more about them, and never exhaust the subjects!

That’s an exciting prospect–forever learning more and more about God and Jesus–but the whole point of this post is WE CAN START NOW!

How?

You guessed it: by reading the Bible.

Jesus goes on to say in the same chapter that God’s Word is truth (17:17). When we read about God and Jesus in the scriptures, we can trust we are learning the truth about them. And by doing so, we know them more and more.

Forget about living your best life now. Open your Bible and live your eternal life now. (Which just so happens to be your best life, FYI).

Unanswered Prayers and “Ask and it WILL be Given to You”

There is a super famous Bible verse that is super misused, causing two super problems. So that has got to stop.

In Luke 11 Jesus is teaching His followers about prayer. He models prayer for them via what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer,” (as if He only prayed the one time…).

Then He tells them a parable to reinforce the fact that God likes it when we annoyingly ask Him for the same thing over and over until we get it.

(The NIV calls this “boldness”. Other translations call this “persistence”. But, I can’t help but think of it as nagging. Nevertheless, God wants us to keep asking sometimes.)

After the parable Jesus says this, “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened,” (Luke 11:9-10).

Most people stop there. And that’s where they run into problems.

The first issue is people take this to mean they can ask for anything and God will give it to them. After all, it appears to be a pretty straight-forward guarantee right here in God’s Word. So He is obligated to deliver, right?

Many a preacher has taken these two verses out of context and centered his entire ministry around them. Such preachers stand in pulpits across the world gleefully telling the masses that God wants them to be healthy and wealthy and these verses are the proof! These preachers claim that if the pray-er just believes enough and nags enough (er…has enough “boldness” and “persistence”…) and gives enough money to God (i.e., to the preachers’ private jet funds), God will literally make their bodies healthy and fill their pockets with cash money.

This is called the prosperity gospel, and some of the biggest churches in America teach it. Many of the preachers on TV teach it. And then it makes its way across the international airwaves to third-world countries where desperately poor people so want it to be true that they convince themselves it is.

The problem is the prosperity gospel isn’t true. The Bible does not promise good health or wealth to anyone who follows Jesus. In fact, He promises we will have trouble (John 16:33) and suffer if we follow Him (John 15:20). Yes, we will receive blessings, too (1 Corinthians 9:23), but nowhere does the Bible report those blessings will be physical and financial.

The actual gospel is we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and those sins have earned us death (Romans 6:23), which is another word for eternal separation from the blessings of God. But God so loves us that He created an exchange program in Jesus, who never sinned during His life, thus earning Himself eternal life with God. God decided to offer every human being the chance to exchange their earned ticket to hell for Jesus’ earned ticket to Heaven (Romans 4:22-25).

The prosperity gospel preachers never get around to the actual gospel. The only “need” for Jesus they present is we “need” Him to give us good health and money. Unfortunately, our need is much greater than that. We need Him to take the punishment our sinning deserves and give us the blessing His obedience deserved.

All that to say, millions of people are being led to believe Christianity is about manipulating God into giving them whatever they want by taking these verses out of context. And that is a huge problem. Not only will those people not get what they are trying to get, they will also not get Heaven when they die because/if they have not properly understood and accepted the actual gospel.

The second problem from misusing these verses applies to those of us who do understand and believe the actual gospel but are then left disappointed, doubting, and/or in a state of self-loathing when we persistently ask God for something and don’t get it.

We start to think, “Maybe the Bible isn’t true after all,” or “Maybe I don’t have enough faith,” or “Maybe God doesn’t really care about me,” or “Maybe God isn’t even real.”

Our faith can be seriously challenged when we think these verses mean if we pray enough times, God promises to give us whatever it is we are asking him for no matter what. We can become bitter, angry, distant, depressed, and even turn our backs on God completely if our “bold” prayers aren’t answered the way we want them to be…the way we think these verses teach that they will be.

So what’s the solution to these two huge problems?

CONTEXT.

Don’t stop reading after verse 10! Read through verse 13.

“So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

The first verse uses a little pronoun: it. We have to ask ourselves what “it” is in reference to.

The previous verse is part of the parable Jesus told. The subject of the sentence is what the ask-er needs. So, perhaps the “it” covers what we need, but not necessarily what we want. And that accounts for why we don’t always get what we ask Him for.

But in the parable the “need” presented isn’t a true need; rather, the ask-er is wanting some food to entertain unexpected company with. They likely will not starve without said food. The host was following the cultural rules of hospitality and did not want to dishonor his visitors, the worst insult in that day.

So his “need” is more of a “want”, which would make the “it” in “ask and it will be given to you” more of a want. We’ve all experienced God not giving us our wants, so we are back to square one. How can this verse be true if we can make “it” be anything we want it to be?

Maybe “it” doesn’t refer to a noun in the previous story. Maybe it refers to a noun in the verses that come after it.

After the promise “it will be given to you,” Jesus makes a comparison to illustrate His teaching. Then, in verse 13, Jesus summarizes everything He has just taught on the subject of prayer: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

What is being given?

The Holy Spirit.

To whom?

To those who ask Him for it.

It.

IT.

We found our “it”!

Take the “the Holy Spirit” back up to verses 9 & 10.

“So I say to you: ask and [the Holy Spirit] will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our verses are not a blank check waiting for you to fill out so the Bank of God can cash it.

Our verses are a specific check God filled out and is waiting for you to cash through prayer!

Ask for a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit and it will be given to you; seek deeper intimacy with the Spirit, and you will find it; knock and the door to more powerful connection with the Spirit will be opened.

These are promises God will keep. These are the guarantees Jesus was making when He said these words to His followers.

Don’t let foolish preachers pluck these verses out of context to convince you God wants you fat and happy above all else. Don’t take these verses out of context yourself and then allow doubt and disappointment to overtake you when you don’t get what you want.

Rather, read these verses in context and get to praying for the “it” God is offering you if you are a follower of Jesus: greater intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

That’s a far greater gift than whatever else you wanted from God anyway.

 

Who We Are

In the evangelical Christian world, we often treat “witnessing” as something on our to-do list. It’s what we are supposed to do (but very few of us do it…). Never mind that non-Christians aren’t tasks to be checked off but human beings to be loved. That’s an entirely different post. Or maybe it isn’t. We’ll just have to find out together where this thing is going…

It struck me today that this approaching evangelism as a verb might be incomplete, if not totally wrong.

The other day I sat with a woman who expressed frustration with evangelical Christians who have approached her to see if they could witness to her and then immediately moved on when it became clear to them they couldn’t. As an evangelical Christian myself, I more than shared her frustration.

More specifically, I welled up with anger and wanted to take this woman by the hands, look her in the eyes, and say, “I am so sorry people have treated you that way.” I wanted to assure her that Christians who treat witnessing as a task to be completed are not pleasing Jesus nor representing Him accurately.

That’s a pretty strong statement. And I stand by it. Because Jesus never treated people like projects. On the contrary, He treated them with dignity and love and respect and concern.

[The only people He got a little brash with were the self-proclaimed religious big-wigs who were too big for their britches and also completely wrong about who He was and what God wanted from people (ans: hearts that loved Him more than themselves instead of vice versa). In other words, people who needed to be knocked down a few pegs.]

In the first chapter of Acts, the resurrected Jesus spends over FORTY DAYS with His disciples. (Let that sink in…the 11 disciples didn’t all mass hallucinate the exact same thing for nearly 6 weeks, I don’t care how high quality the LSD was back then. I digress.)

[Was that too far? I feel like maybe the drug reference was a little too far…don’t send me emails.]

Throughout the 40+ days, Jesus tells His disciples about the kingdom of God. In verses 6-8 He gives them some final instructions. Verse 8 reads, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Aside from the improper use of a semicolon and/or conjunction, something significant stands out to me in this verse. Jesus says they will be His witnesses.

“Witness” is an identity. It is who they are, not what they do.  

Jesus did not tell them they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them and then they will go witness in Jerusalem, etc. Rather, for better or for worse, those disciples would be Jesus’ witnesses.

When non-believers around them learned the disciples were close, personal friends of that Jesus character who caused a lot of brouhaha and wound up dead and somehow managed to amass a small following, those non-believers would associate everything else the disciples did and said with Jesus.

If the disciples loved well and verbally shared the gospel and teachings of Jesus, they would be positive witnesses of Jesus. Those they encountered would wonder if being a follower of Christ had something to do with the disciples’ abnormally selfless, peaceful, joyful dispositions, especially in the face of terrifying circumstances (to promote Jesus as the Messiah was to literally risk being killed by the Jewish elite).

If the disciples ran for their lives, however, and never spoke of Christ again, they would be negative witnesses of Jesus. People would think, “Jesus must not have been anything special if even His best friends don’t think He is worth talking about or obeying anymore.”

One way or another, those disciples would be Jesus’ witnesses all right.

And, of course, the same is true of us believers today. We are Jesus’ witnesses, whether we know it or not.

If we identify ourselves as Christ followers, every thing we say and do is associated with Him in the eyes of the non-believers around us. 

Now, don’t worry, that does not mean we have to be perfect or we will mar Jesus’ rep so badly no one will ever become a Christian again. We aren’t that powerful, thank goodness.

What it does mean is we need to be more mindful of how we are representing Jesus. Just like the original disciples, Christians today can be positive or negative witnesses of Jesus.

If people know we claim to be Christians but we never talk about Jesus or His working in our lives, and if we prop ourselves up on our achievements, hiding our need for Him, and if we harbor self-righteous pride in our relationships, and if we fail to rely on the power of the Spirit to help us live consistently with scripture (which is the only way we can live consistently with scripture, by the way), those we encounter will be inclined to think there is nothing special or different about “Christians”.

On the other hand, if people know we claim to be Christians and we love well and verbally share the gospel and teachings of Jesus, and if we admit when we screw up and ask for forgiveness from people we hurt, and if we make it plain that we are totally indebted to God’s grace, and if we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us live how scripture tells us to when we know full well we can’t in our own strength, those we encounter might wonder if being a follower of Christ has something to do with our abnormally selfless, peaceful, joyful dispositions, especially in the face of terrifying circumstances (like all the fun things life has to offer–sickness, death, adultery, job loss, broken relationships, etc.).

Witnessing is not something we do; witnesses are what we are. We get to decide what kind of witnesses of Jesus we want to be.

Cheap Grace

I started reading a Bonhoeffer book last week. He wrote it in the 1930’s, but it reads as if he wrote it yesterday.

Is the price that we are paying today with the collapse of organized churches anything else but an inevitable consequence of grace acquired too cheaply? We gave away preaching and sacraments cheaply; we performed baptisms and confirmations; we absolved an entire people, unquestioned and unconditionally; out of human love we handed over what was holy to the scornful and unbelievers. We poured out rivers of grace without end, but the call to rigorously follow Christ was seldom heard.

Bonhoeffer coined the term “cheap grace”. When we share with others that Jesus died on the cross for them and “all they have to do” to get to heaven is accept that, we are setting them up for the biggest fall of their lives (perhaps of their eternities as well). We tell people they just need to check that belief box, and then they can go about their way, living however they want to because all is covered by grace.

But that’s not the message of the Bible.

Belief in Jesus without repentance (defined as being truly contrite and resolving to do the opposite of the wrong you have been doing through the power of the Holy Spirit) is not true recognition of the depth of one’s sinfulness, of the holiness God requires of us, and of one’s need for Christ’s substitutionary death.

When we limit our sharing about Jesus with others – whether individually or from the pulpit – to “cheap grace”, we are only telling one half of the story. Yes, Jesus died to save us, and, yes, there is not one “good work” we can or need to do in order to be saved. But the grace God offers us through the killing of His Son is not cheap at all. As Bonhoeffer says, it is costly grace.

God’s extension of grace to us cost Him His Son. Go back and watch Jesus be beaten to a pulp and crucified in The Passion of the Christ. Not easy to watch for us; how much harder for Jesus’ Dad?

And the Christianity to which Jesus calls us is not cheap either. Go back and read Jesus’ commands to the disciples to give up everything and follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22); to hate their families in comparison to how much they loved Him (Luke 14:26); to die to themselves (Luke 9:23-24). If they wanted to be saved by grace, not having to do anything to earn salvation except believe the Gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9), the disciples would have to do it on Jesus’ terms. And His terms were/are, “accept Me as your Lord and Savior”.

When we offer people cheap grace, we erase “Lord” from Jesus’ terms. We shout Savior, but we don’t even whisper Lord. And that’s not biblical. People think they are becoming Christians because that go-to-Heaven-without-doing-anything deal sounds pretty good to them. But they aren’t surrendering any part of their lives, much less all of their lives to Jesus. They aren’t making Him their Boss. Cheap grace.

So our churches fill up with people who are fat on cheap grace and have never even heard of costly grace, if they attend church at all. The Christians who shared the gospel with them are to blame. And the pastors and Bible teachers they sit under are to blame. Our congregations swell with people who don’t live like Christians because they haven’t been taught the full picture of what it means to follow Christ. They prayed a prayer for cheap grace and think that’ll do. They go to church because it makes them feel good and/or just in case there was some fine print on that cheap grace that says they really DO need to attend church in order to get into Heaven. But after awhile, they don’t really see the point of attending church… they are confident they have their Get Out of Hell Free card, and sleeping in on Sunday mornings or going to brunch early to beat the church crowds is much more appealing. They stop attending altogether, only to be replaced by other people who have bought cheap grace. And on and on the cycle goes.

[Note: many people who accept cheap grace sincerely understand their need for a Savior and believe that Christ is the only Savior who will do. If this is the case, hear me: I believe they are just as saved as people who understand grace is costly. The difference that burdens me is not necessarily their eternal destinies being different. What burdens me is that when people stop at cheap grace and never come to understand costly grace – when they never move beyond belief in Christ to actually following Christ – THEY MISS OUT! They miss out on having a relationship with God that is more intimate than any relationship they have with a human. They miss out on being set free from sin patterns that hurt them and their loved ones. They miss out on being a part of the miraculous, powerful things the Lord is doing all around them. Cheap grace robs them of the life God has for them now.]

As I continued to reflect on what I was reading in the Bonhoeffer book, the Spirit politely insisted I take a look at myself.

I began to wonder if I am guilty of preaching cheap grace to people. I tell people about Christ every week. I share the Gospel. But have I shared cheap grace to the neglect of costly grace? Do I make it a point to emphasize to seekers that their decision to accept Christ as Savior must also include accepting Him as Lord? Boss? Master? I also teach Christians the Bible every week. But have I really been teaching believers cheap grace to the exclusion of costly grace? Am I too quick to offer grace when believers really ought to be challenged to follow after Jesus more completely?

Last week I read this:

Costly Grace

What is our Christianity costing us, really? If we are not committed to doing whatever He wants however He wants whenever He wants no matter what, we need to seriously consider whether we’ve been sold cheap grace. If our being a Christian isn’t costing us anything – everything – we don’t understand what being a Christian really is. The good news is Jesus wants to lovingly teach us.

Are you willing to be taught? 

How He Loves Us

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

This sentence stole my breath yesterday.

I came across it in the Gospel of Mark, where an account of Jesus’ interaction with a rich man is detailed.

Mark 10:17-22 reads like this,

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Some things strike me about this account.

The rich man obviously respected and revered Jesus, falling on his knees and calling Jesus “good teacher”. The man appeared to be a devout Jew, upholding these major commandments Jesus mentions. And, yet, the man was very concerned that he might need to do even more to inherit eternal life… It seems this guy wanted Jesus, a leading Rabbi, to confirm that he had dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s when it came to his salvation. He wanted assurance, something, ironically, he would not find in doing anything more.

There he was, pleading his case to Jesus that he had done everything required of him by Jewish law (or at least the “important” things as expressed in the 10 commandments), but he didn’t get it. He didn’t understand that his eternal destiny didn’t depend upon him doing anything…

Instead of wringing the man’s neck in anger… instead of shaking His head in disappointment… instead of throwing His hands up in frustration… Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Jesus validated this man’s worth by looking at him instead of away from him, and Jesus loved him in spite of his failure to understand what Jesus was saying to him. 

Jesus continued, explaining to the man that what he really needed to gain eternal life was to place his faith in Jesus, by way of selling his possessions and following Christ. Unfortunately, this man wasn’t willing to do that.

Two thoughts cross my mind.

One, do we approach the lost this way? When we share the Gospel and people don’t get it, do we look at them and love them anyway? Do we treat them with dignity and respect? Do we continue to care for them in our hearts?

The second thought I have is far more personal. I am often the rich man in this story; I don’t get what Jesus is saying to me, or, worse, I get it and choose not to follow Him. But just as He did with this man, Jesus looks at me and loves me anyway. His is a beautiful compassion that does not waver in response to my behaviors or short-comings. 

And He feels the same way about you. No matter where you are in your journey with Him, He is looking at you with the loving, healing, calming, faithful gaze that only our perfect Savior can sustain. May your heart be steadied by His look and His love today.

The Best Approach to Apologetics

Before I became a Christian, I realized something pretty quickly about the teenagers in my public high school who believed in God: they had no idea why they believed what they believed. They couldn’t give me much of a reason to trust their belief system over mine.

As an atheist I was skeptical at best and antagonistic at worst of any belief in a God I could not see nor “prove”, properly. I had no more reason to base my spiritual beliefs on the Bible than on The Catcher in the Rye (which spoke to me on so many levels). And the kids I “debated” religion with in school couldn’t give me a reason to trust the Bible. The “best” case I got for believing in God from my classmates was, “Just believe in God just in case!” That guy no longer identifies himself as a Christian.

Well, as He is wont to do, God got a hold of me anyway. I became a Christian at 16 in part because of the incredible love a certain group of students showed me despite my not fitting into the southern kid box, and in part because of the Lord arranging circumstances to show me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not do life without Him.

Combine my experience with the unarmed Christian kids who could not communicate a reason for why they subscribed to a belief in Christ with my personality, and once I gave in and admitted that God was God (plagiarized from C.S. Lewis), I vowed to know why I believed what I believed.

I began devouring the Bible, asking questions about nearly every verse, dissecting doctrines with people who were highly intelligent and who knew how “to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have, ” (1 Peter 3:5).

This whole concept of defending your beliefs is called apologetics. Seminaries offer courses on apologetics, there are countless books written about apologetics, and people make careers out of being apologists.

All those are great things. I’ve grown in my ability to defend the faith through each of those avenues. They have been invaluable to me, and if you haven’t explored them, I invite you to.

But can I tell you the best apologetical training I’ve had? 

Talking to little kids. 

My children have been the best training ground for me. They have real questions, and they need simple answers. And their favorite question is, “Why?”

Can I suggest adults are the same way?

They have real questions, and they need simple answers. And their favorite question is, “Why?”

When we talk to young children (2-10 yrs old), we are forced to answer the question, “Why do we believe what we believe,” and we are challenged to deconstruct churchy terms into words everyone can understand. And that’s what church people need too. And that’s what unbelieving adults need too.

If you want to develop your apologetical muscle, find a kid and explain their need for Jesus to them. You’ll have to do it in words with no more than 2 syllables, and you’ll have to do it in a way that doesn’t scare the hell out of them (literally), which, by the way, ought to be our approach with adults too – hellfire and brimstone tactics should not be our approach with anybody. Ever. For any reason.

There are some great perks of practicing sharing the Gospel with kids.

First of all, they have a natural disposition to believe. They don’t have hard, skeptical hearts because they haven’t experienced all the hurt the world has to offer yet. So they are fully open to what you have to say. Give them a halfway decent explanation, and they will accept it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve fumbled through many a conversations with my girls between ages 2 and 7, and they are okay with that. You are learning, and so are they.

Secondly, whatever you say won’t change how they feel about you. We are hesitant to talk Jesus with adults because we fear rejection. Kids don’t know the meaning of the word. Even if they think you are pretty well out of your mind, they’ll drop the topic as soon as you’re done talking and ask you to go play outside with them. You’re still their friend. Nothing changes that. Some of the sweetest times for me talking to my daughters about faith have gone something like this: I speak some profound truth of Christianity, my daughter responds, “Huh. That’s funny. Want to play Candy Land?” This is NOT a parenting fail. This is evidence of her full acceptance of me even when she doesn’t understand anything I’ve just said. This is a reflection of God’s unconditional love for me through my little girl. I’ll take it.

Thirdly, and most importantly, they might receive Christ! And even if they don’t, their little minds will continue to think on the things you’ve said, and they will bring the topic back up if they think of a question… even years down the road. Our daughters both prayed to receive Christ when they were 2 years old. I was with them, and I believe as fully as they could understand at that age, they understood what they were doing. We’ve continued to explain the Gospel to them in the years since, and last night my seven year old asked, “Mommy, have I asked Jesus into my heart?” She had continued to ponder what that means, and she was bothered that she didn’t remember doing that at age two. So we talked it through, and she prayed again. They remember things, these little people. They mull them over and bring them back up when you least expect it. So our “practicing” sharing Christ with them is more than just a convenient training ground for us – it’s much more. It’s “planting seeds” in their hearts for the Lord to grow.

Sharing our faith with children grows us just as much as it grows them. Give it a whirl, and let me know how it goes.

Give Jesus

On the hard days – the days I want to walk away from all this faith stuff – I put one foot in front of the other and walk anyway…

I drive past the shotgun houses – every other one boarded up – and a man drinking a 40 at 9 AM on a Tuesday. I pray aloud, “May salvation come today in the name of the Lord.” I repeat the mantra over and over, asking it to be so, as I make my way to the biggest abortion clinic in the city – my city – the city with a violent crime rate four times the national average.

Death is there, behind those cinder block walls. The killing of babies and the attempted murder of mothers’ consciences… the former happens, day in and day out, but the latter is never completely successful…

I raise my hand toward the building full of women who need His love in the worst way. I pray they would get it…

I park my car across the street and breathe a desperate prayer. “Lord, inspire those women in that death factory to choose life – physical life for their unborn babies, and spiritual life for themselves.”

I get out of my car and walk into a different building – one that houses an organization that applauds life. I get in the elevator, push the number 5, and mumble to the Lord, “Be here today.”

I feel like I have nothing to give most Tuesdays. But that’s not true. I have precisely what my clients need most – Jesus. My heart may be in a thousand pieces, and my life may be in a thousand more, but I have Jesus, and He makes all the difference.

The elevator dings, doors slide open, and I make my way to the pregnancy medical clinic where I volunteer each week. The warm decor and even warmer people leave the false impression that this is just another doctor’s office. No. This is a battlefield.

God and Satan are in full out war over the souls of every potential mother that walks through our doors.

Truth be told, it’s not just our clients that find themselves in the middle of a tug of war that promises to rip their arms clean off. The staff is under attack as well.

They told me it’d be like this when I went through orientation a year ago. The stakes are too high for Satan to let a pro-life organization save lives unchallenged. Maybe that’s why every Monday my life seems to fall apart? Because Satan knows what I intend to do on Tuesday?

Give Jesus

I clip on my magnetic name tag, “Kelly, Client Advocate”. I walk to the room in which fearful, hopeless women will soon come, one by one, telling me their stories of how they wound up with an unplanned pregnancy.

I ask Him once more, “Lord, be here. Show me what to say, when to say it, and how to say it so each woman who comes through this door leaves with the hope that You love them and will be their ever present help in times of trouble.”

And week after week, when I give all I can give – when I give Jesus – the Lord blesses. 

Clients respond to Him, yes. Their openness to hearing the Gospel can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit.

But His blessing doesn’t end there… He blesses me too.

That He would use the likes of me to spread His message of love and redemption? It’s too good.

That He would allow me to be present in moments when clients choose to receive His work on the cross? It’s too good.

That He would give me a front row seat to witness the Kingdom overcoming the darkness – in clients’ lives, in my life? It’s too good!

Find a place to give Jesus. Wherever you are, give Jesus, yes, but also be intentional about going to where He’s unknown and give Jesus there, too. I’m telling you, He will bless you in the process.