Good News

Standard

I’ve got it all, but I feel so deprived
I go up, I come down and I’m emptier inside
Tell me what is this thing that I feel like I’m missing
And why can’t I let go

[Chorus]
There’s gotta be more to life…
Than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me
Cause the more that I’m…
Tripping out thinking there must be more to life
Well it’s life, but I’m sure…
there’s gotta be more
Than wanting more

I’ve got the time and I’m wasting it slowly
Here in this moment I’m half way out the door
Onto the next thing, I’m searching for something that’s missing

[repeat chorus]
Than waiting on something other than this
Why am I feelin’ like there’s something I missed…..

Stacie Orrico, More To Life

***

Looking back through my past entries, I realized that I’ve made vague references to my faith in God, but I’ve never been clear about what I believe to be true. And it’s so important to be clear. It’s the one greatest gift I have to share, and I can’t count myself a friend to anyone I haven’t told.

***

I guess I can’t share my faith without first telling you that I believe the Bible to be the absolute truth—the unimpeachable, inspired words of God to humanity. It’s a love story—THE love story—and we are the beloved.

I was born into a believing family—a non-denominational group—and grew up going to services every Sunday and Wednesday. Being raised by Christians was a mixed blessing. I memorized a lot of scriptures and knew a lot of Bible stories. I know that even then the seed of truth was being planted by my parents’ prayerful efforts, but growing up in the church made it easy to let the language of faith flow over me without ever really sinking in and penetrating my heart. I knew all the “answers”, but a relationship with God eluded me—not that I was searching very hard.

I did all the typical flirting with disaster when I was a teenager, and then, suddenly, I was on my own, in college, free to find my own way. The background noise of “faith by default” receded, and I had to open my eyes and discover whether what I’d been taught had any value, any truth. And that’s the thing about the truth. It is unchanging, absolute, but every person is responsible for finding it for herself—no matter who her family is or what the name on the sign outside her church building says. (II Corinthians 13:5, I Timothy 2:3-4, I Thessalonians 5:21)

Do you ever have the feeling that there’s got to be more to this life than what we see and have and do and buy? That there’s a whole layer of reality that we’re just missing because we’re limited to what we can take in with our five senses? Well, there is. There’s a much bigger story here, and our place in it is not small—but many of us are asleep to it, wrapped up as we are in the busy daily details of our existence.

I’m happy to say that after years of listening to the gospel message expounded, elaborated upon, and dissected, the simple truth of the good news of Jesus Christ finally touched me and became real to me. Here it is:

God created us for a relationship with Him. He loves us, and nothing can change that. Ever. (Romans 8:37-39)

Our sin separates us from God. All of us. Every single one. The sin of the liar, the prideful, or the gossip is no less than the sin of the murderer. And the punishment for sin is death. (Romans 3:22-24, Romans 6:23)

God came down and walked among us, lived a blameless life, died a painful death willingly in our place, and was raised on the third day, all to reconcile us to Himself. Because of His love, He broke the power sin and death had over us. If we accept his gift, He washes our guilt away, no matter what we’ve done. (Romans 5:8-11, I Corinthians 15:3-5)

We can know (know!!!) that we have the gift of eternal life—no second guessing, no hoping that things will somehow manage to turn out all right in the end, no wondering if we’ve made the right choices. We can have complete confidence in the future and even face death with peace and joy if we are in Christ. (I John 5:11-13)

Here is how to accept the free gift of God:

*Hear the truth. (Romans 10:17 –If you’ve actually read this all the way through, you’ve done it already.)
*Believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to earth as a man and was raised from the dead. (Romans 3:22, Romans 10:9)
*Repent and turn away from your old sins. (Romans 6:6-7, II Corinthians 7:10)
*Be baptized, by immersion, into Christ, receiving forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-4, Acts 22:16)
*Live for Him. (Colossians 1:9-14)

Without having the back and forth of dialogue, I’m trying to imagine what you might be thinking as you read this. Maybe “I’ve heard all this before,” or “Katrina’s a nice girl, but she obviously doesn’t live in the real world!” Or any one of a hundred other things…I don’t know. I don’t know what makes some people meet the truth with hostility or defensiveness, while others recognize it and hold fast to it. All I can do is give you what I have, and send it out with a prayer that it will find you with your heart open to searching out the truth for yourself. A lot of people have closed the door on what God wants to say to them, with one excuse or another as their shield against what might be uncomfortable to them in the message of Christ. The Bible even says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” Many won’t respond to Christ’s invitation, but I still need to—want to—share it! “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

Because of Christ, we have hope, we have a family, and we can experience joy even in our trials—while all around us despair—because we realize that this life, with all its ups and downs, will seem like just a dream when we get home. (II Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 8:28) Christ is the answer to life’s biggest question marks. What is my purpose? Where am I going? Does anyone truly know me, or love me? When Jesus enters your life, that nagging sense of emptiness leaves it. Following Him is not the easy road, but it’s the right one, the true one, filled with adventure and meaning and a place in the biggest story of all.

***

There’s a lot more I’d love to talk to you about—what God has done in my life and Paul’s, the struggles and victories I’ve had in my walk with the Lord, amazing things I’ve realized, stuff I don’t understand yet about God’s plan—but I feel like I’ve talked enough for now, and I’d like to hear more of your thoughts. Besides, I’ve already told you what’s most important.

By the way, I’m sure you noticed I used a lot of scripture references—I hope you look them up. Sometimes people wonder how we know that the Bible is really God’s word, and why we should trust it. After all, it’s useless to point out scripture to teach the truth if the person you’re talking to doesn’t believe the Bible is real! If that is where you are, tell me! When I finally decided to start from the beginning and figure out what I believed, I wondered the same thing. I searched and found so much evidence supporting the Bible’s claims that it blew me away…there is no book in the world like it! I’d be glad to point out the resources I found.

Anyway, I’m signing off for now—thank you so much for letting me share what really matters to me. You’re all in my prayers.

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16 responses »

  1. Very interesting…

    I believe in God. Period. But after that, it gets a little fuzzy.

    I wasn’t raised in a religious home and don’t necessarily believe that a person has to be religious (in a traditional sense) to have a relationship with God.

    I have a hard time with the idea of Jesus Christ.

    ***

    All that being said, nothing is set in stone and I’ve been wrong before.

    Lately I feel almost bombarded with religion. (And I use bombarded for lack of a better word… because really I mean bombarded in a good way… maybe showered is a better word???)

    Anyway, these days I feel like God and religion are everywhere I turn. And I sometimes I feel like I could use a little religion in my life. Mabye God is calling out to me and I’m hearing it but just not listening. Or maybe I’m over analyzing. Maybe God is always there for me if I decide to go down that path, but the thought of Him trying *get* me to go down that path, the thought of him calling out to little old me, is awfully vain.

    I don’t know.

    I feel like I’m still a long ways away. And I don’t know if I’ll ever really believe. But I do know that I will never be the type of person to exist on borrowed faith. So I will either believe whole heartedly, or I will watch from the sidelines.

    And for now I sit on the sidelines.

    But I am watching. And I am interested. And things like your blog post give me hope.

    🙂

    I will say that it would be nice to believe.

  2. Courtney,

    I really appreciate your honest and heartfelt comments. In a world where there are so many conflicting messages all claiming to be the truth, it’s no wonder that many people feel stuck on “I’m just not sure.”

    I really identified with what you said about “little old me.” It does seem amazing, doesn’t it, that the God of the universe could be calling me, reaching out to me personally? And yet I believe that is just what He is doing. The Bible tells us that Jesus cares about each of us individually, that He would still have come, have suffered, have given His life even for just one of us. That really blows my mind!

    It sounds like you are open to hearing God’s voice in your life, but only if you truly recognize it as His. I encourage you not to rest in uncertainty, but to keep actively seeking God’s face. He gives us free choice, but He longs for us to choose Him, and life.

    Let me know if I can help in any way or point you in the direction of any other resources. My email address is accessible through my profile.

    Thank you again for your thoughts!

  3. I just wrote a blog about how God spoke so clearly to my heart this weekend (about Harry Potter, nontheless) but it had been awhile since I had felt so directly MOVED by God that I had almost forgotten who was in control here. I had forgotten why we feel guilty, ashamed, embarrased, etc. God spoke to me through my emotions and reminded me that he was there to lead me if I would only just listen.

    Thanks for this blog. It tells my story, too.

  4. Great job, Katrina! I identify that sometimes I often talk 10,000 foot overview of my Christianity. I could share volumes about God’s work in my life….(see my profile for my contact info if anyone is interested)….but I was raised in a Christian home and would have been just like you had it not been for a bad car accident when I was 7 to show me what separation from Christ was all about. That tragic event helped begin my spiritual journey at the early age of 8. I’m oh so thankful.

  5. What a great post and I really like your blog.

    We have a similar background. I like the way you described growing up in the church. I was the same, kind of taking the message for granted. Kind of made me wish I converted later in life so I could have that big life changing experience you see in a lot of adults when they accept Jesus… At the same time, it’s kind of nice to just have it built in, like it’s always been there.

    I look forward to reading more from you.

  6. Hmmmmm.. this posting has struck something inside of me that I am having a difficult time identifying succinctly.
    I grew up in church and very much beleive in god. I have struggled with the bible my whole life and reading your posting is making me wonder why I struggle. I think it is because I have heard so many people say so many hateful/hurtful things and then referencing bible passages that I have been turned off from it.
    IN the church I grew up in, I was one of a few children my age so I didn’t have the opportunity for bible study that my older brother did. I think that is where it started, no one ever taught me the bible.
    As an adult I have felt stupid in churches that have people flip from one area to another in the bible becuase I don’t know the books of the bible and where things are located – and I still have not learned any of that.
    Today – my life is faith based and ALL that I do is knowing that I am connected to god and to everyone else on earth. I have developed a faith that works for me and a way of honoring god/my higher power that works for me and god.
    Working the 12 steps has given me that foundation and I will forever be grateful for this connection in my life.
    Thanks for such a thought provoking posting.

  7. Meg– Thank you so much for your response. I’m sorry to say it, but yours is not the first story I’ve heard of people being turned off in some way by the actions and attitudes of the Christians they know. It can be so damaging when people use God’s word as a bludgeoning tool to wound those that most need to hear its true message. The church is made up of flawed human beings, myself included, and we all end up with our foot (or, in the worst cases, both feet) in our mouths from time to time. Grace isn’t a natural human concept, and those who would use the Bible in such a way perhaps haven’t quite grasped it yet. Loving God’s people, any people, requires a lot of it!

    I appreciate what you said about how hard it is to go to Bible classes where everyone else seems to have this base of Bible knowledge that you don’t share–where the books are, Bible stories that you haven’t heard but only get mentioned in passing as if they’re common knowledge, etc. That can be daunting, I bet. Paul and I host a weekly Bible study in our home, with people ranging from life-long believers to new Christians to just interested non-Christian friends, so we try to keep in mind that everything is new to someone. If you’re still interested in learning about the Bible in a more non-threatening atmosphere (and I hope you are!), maybe you could look around for a church that has a Bible Basics class. We have one every quarter, and it’s a good chance to learn about the Bible and get back to the heart of the gospel. It really doesn’t matter at all if you know what order the books are in as long as you know what Jesus has done for you! 🙂

    I’m so glad you found my blog–I hope you’ll visit often!

  8. Hey Katrina! I’m so glad you stepped out and talked about your faith!!! I too am a ‘bible brat’ as I call it – my parents were ministers and pastors in various churches throughout my life, so being at church was a non-issue – I was always there. It wasn’t until I got much older and decided to buck the idea of always being in church that I started to find my own footing and beliefs. I’m happy to say that I’ve never strayed from my roots and have no big testimony to tell – only that God has always protected me from the unknown. Some people may find that naive, but I don’t feel that way at all. I’m always hearing and learning new things, good & bad, but I think that my footing is deeply rooted and I’m thankful to my parents for that!

    All of that to say that I’ve definitely had my ups & downs – especially in recent months as my blog might attest to – but in the midst of my screams and cries for help, Jesus has always found me. Not that He ever lost me, but you know what I mean!

    I love having my ‘blog friends’ and I really love knowing that they believe the same way as I do. So many times we say “I’m praying for ya!” but never really do it! I’ve found myself doing that allot over the years, but have recently made a point of actually following thru with it when God brings that person or circumstance to mind. I’ve definitely grown up allot and learned that I cannot simply slide thru Heaven’s gates on my mom & dad’s coat tails!!!

    When my mom passed away, I found myself searching for answers as to why God would have allowed her to have suffered so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that is one thing I’m going to have to ask Him when I reach Heaven – after I find my mom, of course 🙂 There will always be wonderings and questions that cannot be answered – I think that’s where so many non-believers place their ‘stance’. If you can’t answer it, then it’s not real! Unfortunately for them, they may never find that one answer, and, of course, they’ll never find true peace & joy.

    True faith in Jesus Christ is resting in the knowledge that we can only trust in that peace that comes from believing in Him, and knowing that sometimes we will be left in the dark to wonder WHY? But, only for a time…

  9. very well said…I have been trying to find a way to approach the same thing in my blog. All I can do right now is pray that God will give me the words.

  10. your comment about being made to have a relationship with God really touched me. my faith is very simple, kept that way to be kept very pure.

    There is a God and he loves me, and every loving relationship must be cherished and nurtured.

    Thank you.

  11. I too have been struggling with faith. I know my beliefs. I do believe in God and I believe in Jesus. My biggest obstacle is that I do believe that others can have a different belief system and I respect their differences in opinions. I don’t want to change anyone’s beliefs. Also I get tired of hearing, “good marks alone won’t take you to heaven”…This has been a sore spot for me lately. I don’t like those that try to question my relationship with god or who assume theirs is superior to mine. Because I am just learning and exploring I don’t like being told, “if you’re a Christian this is how you should believe.” Eventhough it hasn’t been worded that way, it still has the same meaning. My friend Tanya has been instrumental in helping me with my faith. She has been patient and informative and supportive. Will the “true Christians” out there ever consider me one?? I don’t know, but honestly I don’t really care what anyone thinks about my beliefs.(sounds harsh but it gets tiresome when I make a comment about what I believe and I get told that it’s wrong according to the bible)
    Oh well, sorry for rambling!!!Great post BTW!!!

  12. Ah, I see now, it’s almost two years old. I see also your email isn’t in your profile. Oh well. I came to a “lasting faith” in college (I believed before that, but I didn’t really understand the cost or the real joy). When I was a freshman I had no idea if I’d even go to church, but there was one in walking distance, so I went, and they were so nice that I kept going. Well, I’ve rambled on…Happy Easter Saturday!

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