Wednesday, October 22, 2008

convicted, disheartened, yet thankful

The Holy Spirit really hit me hard during the music portion of our worship service on Sunday morning. I didn't put a whole lot of effort into the organization of this, so bear with me...

Convicted because I realized I had just been reading/singing the words of the hymns, not truly singing praises to the God who saved me.

Convicted because family was in town and not once did I share even a morsel of the work He had done, is doing, and will continue to do within me and my life.

Convicted because I have not considered God's Word as precious as it truly is.

Convicted because I was more concerned with what I was going to wear to church that morning than preparing my heart for the service.

I was disheartened because as I was being convicted of all the above, I looked around the church. There were so many with just blank stares on their face while reciting words along with the music, completely oblivious to what they were actually saying. How often is this the case in our local churches and no wonder the world doesn't want to devote their lives to Christ when this is the first impression they receive when they step inside the church. (Note: This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is not alive and well in our local church--if it wasn't I would not have come to many of these realizations and would have been content to go on with my morning without a change of heart).

But, I am thankful.

I am thankful because God is not done with me yet.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

I am thankful because it is God who works in me when I am faithful to obey His Word.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13

I am thankful that God has provided us with a local Bible-based church in which we can gather, worship, serve, and encourage fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

He Chose Me

"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)

This verse is talking about the general call to all mankind. It is a summons to repentance and faith that is inherent within the gospel message. This call extends to all who hear the gospel. But there's a "but." But only few are chosen. These "few" describe those who respond to that calling, repent of their sins, and make a conscious decision to follow Christ.

The Gospel, or the Good News, is the true account of Christ's birth, sinless life, horrible/undeserved death, and glorious resurrection as described in the first four books of the New Testament. It is an account of Christ's perfect life and how He is the only replacement for the punishment of my sin. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) All sin is punishable, and it is punishable only by death (Romans 6:23). Christ came to be the payment for that punishment. He came so that we might accept His calling, live obedient to His ways, and bear more fruit for His name-- by sharing Christ and inviting others to have a saving faith in Him.

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last." (John 15:16)

Wow. The very person who created the entire universe--from the largest galaxy, to each species of animal, to the smallest particle of substance--that very person chose little ol' Marissa Kaye Sharbaugh to be His. He chose to save me. He chose to give me eternal life with Him instead of eternal life in hell which is what my sin deserves. And not just eternal life, but an abundant life that comes through serving Him and obeying His ways as laid out in the Bible. I've accepted that call. Now what?

"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They IMMEDIATELY left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:19-20)

" shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem [locally], Judea and Samaria [regionally], and to the end of the earth [globally]." (Acts 1:8)

"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2)

John and I will, Lord willing, be headed to China as laborers for Him on a global scale. There are a few things that we are trusting for Him to take care of to allow us to be on our way as soon as possible. For instance, we need to sell the house, pay off all debts, receive training, and set up all the logistics as far as a job opportunity for john, making sure we have a place to live when we arrive, and then all of the traveling arrangements. This was originally our post-graduation plans back in May of 2007; however, we were caught up in ourselves and our current circumstances and lost view of the greater calling for our lives. So we press on, stepping in faith knowing and "being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for calling me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hated by the world

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first...

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin...

If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.”
(John 15:18, 22, 24)

It is almost ironic that today many biblical passages are considered hate speech by the majority of our society. For example, many will be offended by the statement that homosexuality is something that is forbidden by God. The only thing our world hates is intolerance and those who display intolerance. It is not so much that the world (mainstream society) hates the Christian, but rather the one whom that Christian serves—Jesus.

You either ACCEPT or REJECT the Jesus of the Bible.

When you die, it is either HEAVEN or HELL.

Growing up I went to a Lutheran church. There were a lot of morally good people and friends, but the only thing I received there was a false sense of salvation. I thought I was a good person. I had been baptized as an infant. I had been through confirmation. But that was it, I was too busy trying to please everyone by being “perfect” that I thought I was good enough. I never once had been convicted of my sin and that payment for that sin was required.

God saved me my junior year of high school. I know that some people assumed that—because of what my family was going through—that I had just “turned to religion” and that it was a crutch, a way for me to handle life’s circumstances. Instead, I was truly born again and at that point became a follower of Christ. I also had the privilege of being baptized by my father-in-law at a church in Indiana.

There will be more to come on this topic, but John and I have decided to use ESL (English as a Second Language) as a means to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tentative plan is to finish and sell the house, pay off all outstanding debts, and enroll John in a 4-week CELTA certification course. From there we are planning on accepting teaching positions in different areas of the world for a few years. If we truly think that this is what God would have for us we will then decide if we can best be used here or abroad. Personally, I would love to be used in some sort of ministry for international students at a good sized university. We’ll see what God has in store, but this is where we are for now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9 months.... we've survived!!

It's official. On Monday, Emerson Grace reached 9 months!

She is pictured here with one of her newest cousins, MacKenna Sharbaugh (2 1/2 months).

Currently, she is crawling all over the place, pulling herself up on furniture, the window sills, and even the dogs.

Gotta go meet John at Lucas Oil Arena, I'll add more later.