Faith, Works and why I had it all Wrong.

James 2:14-26 
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [a]that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [b]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [c]dead, being by itself.

18 But someone [d]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that [e]God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [f]as a result of the works, faith was [g]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Faith:   A strong belief in God or in the doctrine of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather then proof

Spiritual Apprehension:  the act or power of perceiving or comprehending the working of the Holy Spirit

Faith is born in us.  It is a living breathing part of our person when put in the context of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  There is something super natural and deeply spiritual about committing your Destiny to the Deity of Christ.  Salvation is not of this world.  Salvation saves us from the sin of this world, and when you really think about it, it can’t be explained away as simply rules and religion.  It is so much more, because all Joy and Flourishing is on the line.

But James tells us Faith has a counterpart called Works.  Oh the conversations that have sprouted form this passage.  Maybe you have had one that sounded like this.  “Im not sure if so-and-so is a christian, I know there is a understanding there and even a commitment at some point but I just don’t see the fruit of it coming out in works….”  I know I have

Works: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

You see I don’t think I had ever really looked super close at this portion of James because I didn’t wantt to uncover something that would make me question my or a loved ones faith.   But here I am digging deep with a little fear and a lot of hope.

You see my definition of Works sounded a little like this; missional, serving, giving all your money to the poor, overseas calling, busy busy busy in the church….

But as I was studying I felt the Lord whisper to me, “You have missed the link between faith and works and in that link is where our salvation really lays.”   

You see Gods Work in our Hearts transforms us from the inside.  Biting your tong can be a work of faith that no one will recognize.  If I realize the vastness of Works, I will have more hope and less obligation to do all the things I Should be Working at and leave more time and energy for the growth of work in my walk to cultivate a more genuine Love offering.  The work I was made for.

Why have Faith if it dosen’t change you.  What is the purpose of that?  Faith and Works is not about productivity.  Its not a trick, slid in to insure the Christian is in-slaved to Christ. Rather it is the blessing and the gift of the Holy Spirit Working out the roots of sin and selfcenterness in your soul.

Think about your life, if you can see no change in your heart, if your outlook is never challenged, if you aren’t becoming more compassionate for the children of God.  That is when you need to ask yourself “Is my faith dead?’If it is not evidentially growing, your faith may have never truly taken root.

The marks of the Christian life is Love Compassion, Grace, Thankfulness, Joy, Humility, Servant-heartedness….. These are the products of God Working out the sin, shame, guilt, self-centredness, pride, vanity, materialism, and every foot hold of the devil.  THIS IS WORKS!!

Works is not what I am doing,  It is what Faith is doing in me.  We must have Faith, But be Faithful.  That is the space where works are born from.

As sin is worked out and love is given room to grow, that is when your behaviours will reflect the faith in you.  If the work of compassion is kneaded into your heart, the result will be seen, played out in how you spend your time and your money.  But we can not measure Works from the outside.  So often we serve out of”obligation and the things we should do.”  And though that my get the job done and many may be blessed it is not a reflection of the Heart change.  It is not a testimony of all things made new.  It is a testimony of guilt and fear.

When we take the pressure off for Christians to perform for their place in heaven. We open the doors for the Spirit to flow as we serve from our passions.  When your heart is set on the things of Christ, it will break for His children and in the breaking will come the truest offer of work for a weary world to be ministered by.

The beauty of works is it blesses us first, so we can then pass the blessing on to the rest of Gods Children.

 

 

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Easter Story Eggs: a Christ centred acitivity for you, and your Kids.

Easter in Northern BC is usually grey patchy snow, and frozen puddles.  We try and plan to have a camp fire each year after sunday service but it is, of corse weather dependant.  After feeling cooped up for much of the winter spending a long day packed inside, dose not feel like much of a celebration to me.  So we bundle up and dig out and the roasting sticks from the shed, for a humble feast of hots dogs usually accompanied by chile and chips.

After a tasty feed and once the children have lost interest in breaking frozen puddles with whatever rocks or sticks aren’t still under snow.  A few of us gather them up for a walk, wile some stay behind to hide eggs.  Living on a acreage makes it easy to spread them about the yard for a exciting hunt!

So in with the chocolate eggs I hide my collection of Easter Story Eggs.  It is a collection of eggs filled with short pomes that tell the Easter story.  Accompanying each pome is a element that gives a tangible reminder of the happenings of that first easter week so long ago.

I am excited to share this idea with you, and help get a tradition started with your little ones!! Its so easy and it will help keep the focus on the reason we gather at Easter.  It won’t take over your day or scare away your family that “thinks your going to overboard with that religion stuff”  Its just a simple reminder for us all that Jesus came to serve and save and that is why we celebrate!

You will need:
* 1 dozen refillable plastic easter eggs
* A copy of the free printable below
* A Sharpie
* The element to accompany the pome for each egg
* A empty egg carton (to store your eggs in to use again next year)

Step one: Print and cut out Pomes

Step two: Gather your elements

Step three: Fill your eggs. (I used matching colours for the egg with the pome and its accompanying element)

Step four: Use your sharpie to number the eggs

Step five: Hide your easter Story eggs for your little ones to find and open them together as a family.

My end game with this activity is;

A chance for grandparents and other family members to gather, and share their faith with my kids. Having many voices, speaking the Word of Truth into my kids lives will help to set a firm foundation in their hearts and minds.

Also some day when my kids have questions and topics they need to discuss with a trusted adult they might not want to talk to me about it. But helping them establish positive and like minded voices in their lives at a young age will help them to discern who they can bring their struggles and fears to in the future.

But this also serves as a simple and casual platform to share the gospel message with friends and family in our lives who wouldn’t otherwise include Christ in their Easter celebrations.

Access the Free Printable below, for a copy of the pomes to insert in your eggs. As well the  directions to make your own Easter Story Eggs!

easter-story-eggs-pdf

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Book Review & Recommendation

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Present over Perfect By. Shauna Niequist

A wonderful collection of short essays about simplifying life, with the intention of returning to your roots.  Rediscover the woman you were when life was simple and your passions were building and your vision was clear.  The woman who knew what she was doing for her future and for the kingdom of God.

It was a easy ready and felt refreshing like a morning breeze off a cool lake.  It felt uplifting and relevant, as Shauna bore all. in her confession of seeking worthing in pleasing others and struggling to balance love, life, work and motherhood.

Shauna is a city dweller with a metro pace to getting life done.  I can’t relate to the hustle of the city or the push of book deadlines.  I don’t have a consuming job outside the home. But what spoke to me was the “need to be perceived as the girl who could always come through for you”  Im a “get S*** done” kinda girl myself.  I hate to say no, and easily over commit myself.  With the best of intentions that cause my little family to receive the leftover and rung out portions of me.

It is a encouragement to declutter your priorities, in your heart first, and then your mind. So you can get to making space in your marriage, your home, your job, and your friendship to connect with the further you may have lost track of. Somewhere along the way in the business of reaching for our dreams we can push what we really are longing for aside in the hustle to walk through all the open doors and even some closed ones.

Shauna extends a invitation to look honestly at all your hard work and really consider what your saying yes to.  Because every yes has a resounding no somewhere in your life.  Its a chance to chase the Dreams of your Youth, wile retaining the maturity of your present outlook.  Just clearing away the clutter and breathing deep.

Because frantic isn’t on the menu.  Its to be Present with the people in your now, so they can see your hope for the future.

If “balancing your priorities” or “enjoying the moment” is a struggle for you.  If you worry “you are missing your best years with the business of life”. Then I recommend Present over Perfect!

The Gosple has no room for Shame

Genesis 3:7  At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree the first gut reaction was Shame.  Sin rode into the garden on the back of Shame.  Disobedience lead to Shame, and Saten is still using his old Shame trick today. Trap them in Shame, and they will lose sight of Hope and their identity in Christ.

Notice I said Reaction and not Response.  Reactions come from fear, reactions take us from Christ.  Responses lead us towards the cross, towards healing and towards the richness of life with Christ.

Shame also makes us hid our true selves.  They made coverings for their bodies.  Their bodies that were created in the image of God.  The bodies they had been walking and thriving in, up until this point.  The bodies that drew them together with a shared rib and I’ll bet a shared passion.

When we feel shame we want to look away, we want to hid our failings and our flaws.  Sometimes we react with covering our emotions with shopping indulgently, to replace our feeling of worth.  Or we binge watch TV to hid in someone else’s story line.  Maybe it’s emotional eating to fill a void that is gaping in our souls.  But grass dosen’t grow under Shames feet.  It is busy leaving its mark and leaving us wondering “is this how I was meant to feel?”

Because lets be honest, All our troubles with Shame, can be drawn from 1 of 2 buckets.  One labeled Perfectionism and the other labeled Comparison.  

We reach down into the Perfection bucked and pull out a picture of the body we want or the productivity we try to attain. And we feel it grow in our hearts, the feeling of not being anouf the feeling of failure, the feeling of Shame.

Or we reach into the Comparesion Bucket and covet, for the raise a co-worker received or the friendships that others are enjoying.  The house that Mrs. Jones lives in and the Childern that others are delighting in.  And that is when Shame sets in and speaks. “You don’t receive because you am not worthy, hard working or valuable.”

Because if Satan can keep us bound up with the “if only” and the “must be nice for you” then he can keep us tied down with Shame and a Loss of Identity.

I heard it stated we must separate our “Who” from our “Do”.

Who I am can not be defined by what I am doing, (or not accomplishing). Not by what has been done to me or spoken into my fears. Rather,  I am who Christ created me to become.  I am valued at the price of Jesus Blood and I am free of sin and shame because I am loved by a Good, Good Heavenly Father.

Jesus came to die for my sins, Not for my perceived personality disorder. 

So there for I must embrace who I am and discard all the sin that in-tangls me.  I must look at myself through the filter of the cross and creation and redemption.  My identity, the woman Christ has created me to be, was meant for such a time as this.  Not because of my great ability.  But because as God flexes His great power, He will accomplish His plans through my life and His story. In a unique way that will have our signature and the guiding of the Holy Spirit on it.

God created us to be close to him, not to be worshiping at the alter of Pinterest.  He wants us to be reaching into the word not scrolling our news feed.  Feeding our minds with all the things we arn’t accomplishing, the pounds we aren’t losing and the romance that we are missing out on.

Because when you look at your life through the filter of Perfectionism and Comparison that is where discontentment and Shame is born.  Maybe you haven’t looked at it this way before.  Maybe you think this underlying feeling of Anxiety, Stress or Discontentment is totally normal.  But its not…

Genesis 2:25  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

This was Gods plan!  To be our true selves and feel no shame!  Its mind blowing in a world fed buy social media, advertising, living life by design,  more, more, more…  The world is  calling us all into discontentment.

Where God has given us everything we need for Flourishing and all Joy.  The road map to all Joy and the the Fullest life is found in the pages of His book the Bible.  The “shalt’s” and the “Shalt’s not” are not limiting us to a boring, hum-drum life.  They are calling us into a more peaceful life.

 Just a parent says “don’t touch the flame the fire is hot.”  It is a direction of love, not of limitation.

The world is begging us to recondicer our happiness by wooing us to life of Shame, cause we will never attain what the world is selling.  But God is giving away Contentment Tickets to those who will listen to His calling to come and rest in His plans.

So I give you the alternative;

Psalm 37:4  Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Stop the scrolling and pinning and hashtags.  They are killing your time and distracting your from your testimony.  For all the good they serve they are dicipeling you to want and long and wish for the gain that will never satisfy.  Seek the Lord and pursue understanding because the shedding of Shame and Satisfying of your Soul is on the line.