I had the opportunity to host Leslie Ludy’s ‘Come Away’ conference in my friends home and to watch her with some really great people. I really learned a lot and it was a blessing to be able to watch her and listen to the music that they had there.
We watched three sessions last night (we were only suppose to watch 2! Don’t know how we got three in there…but, oh well!) The first was about coming away with Jesus. Leslie told us a very interesting story.
Her husband was street evangelizing (before they were married) during Mardi Gras. The others with him wanted to put up a big cross by them and stand by it to hand out tracks. Eric wasn’t so thrilled about the idea, so when they put up the cross, he kind of stood away from them…but he wasn’t with the drunks on the street either. He was…waddling around somewhere in the middle.
And he was miserable.
I can imagine what he was thinking. “Oh…do you think I’m too close? Does that person over there think that I’m with them? Do the people that I’m with think that I’m deserting them? That I don’t love Jesus?”
Finally (the cross had to be held up), one of his friends asked him to come and hold the cross. So, he went over and held the cross. And now, he was exuberantly happy! He wasn’t miserably zigzagging in the middle (“I’m too close to them, no, now I’m too close to the world…”), not sure of where he belonged. He was with Christ. He knew where he was and he was filled with joy.
That’s how a lot of us are, Leslie said. We’re stuck in between the world and the cross, one foot firmly planted in each side but unwilling to go any further into either one. We want to be a Christian because we want to go to Heaven when we die, but…we want to be with the world, because…well, they have all the fun!
They get to watch all the movies without guiltily telling God all the reasons that night about how the good in the movie out weighed the bad. They don’t have to torture themselves to wait for marriage, they just…hop here, jump there, give a little skip here. Oh, I’m getting married! Now I don’t like you any more, I’ve seen your bed hair, ok, now let’s find another husband.
So we are in the middle. A little uncomfortable at first, but we soon get used to it. And we are frustrated beyond words. “Where’s God?” I’ve said that many times myself. “Where is God? He. Is. Suppose. To. Be. Right. HERE!!! I. Don’t. See. Him!” We get mad, we scream into our pillows (I’ve heard it’s a good stress reliever!), we snap at our siblings and those around us. “Where. Is. God? Where is the miracles that the Bible promised the Christians? Where are all the people getting saved by the thousands? Where are times when the Church grew faster than anything else? Where. Is. God?”
I have asked those questions, I have struggled with them myself. A lot. I was frustrated with Christianity because all I saw was a book full of stories that promised me things I wasn’t getting. I prayed, I did everything that I was suppose to do and yet, I was still searching for a satisfaction that the Bible promised that I would have. I was miserably in the middle. I longed for the intimate relationship with Christ and yet, I couldn’t find it. I didn’t know how to find it. I prayed at night, read the Bible every time I remembered, but it wasn’t working.
“Our Christianity only works when we cling unashamedly to the Cross and lift it high for all the world to see. As you go about your daily life, do people know you are with Jesus? Do they see you clinging to His Cross, or standing ashamedly a few feet away?”
“We will shrivel up and die unless we cling to Jesus, just as the branch clings to the vine for its survival. We cannot cling to Him if we are clinging to anything else.”
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.”
I’m not saying that everything’s going to be a big happy party either. Instead of choosing the rich, temporary palace of Satan, we are choosing the war tents of Jesus. (I like history) It’s Valley Forge all over again. The British are warmly (and probably fat too!) seated during the winter in nice houses, sleeping on soft beds, and eating delicious and rich food. And the American soldiers were in cold, drafty tents with hardly enough clothes and many injuries that needed taken care of.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.”
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.”
Of whom the world was not worthy.
Viba Perpetua, 203 AD
She was a mother who was martyred for her faith in a Roman arena in front of a cheering mob, but her death brought many to Christ.
John Wycliffe, 1378
He was accused of heresy for translating the Bible into the common language. He faced extreme persecution from both government and religious leaders.
William Tyndale, 1536
He was accused of heresy and publicly martyred for distributing the Bible to common people.
John Bunyan, 1661
He had a large family outside of jail and was imprisoned for more than ten years for preaching publicly about Christ, yet even though he had an out (never preach again) to go home and take care of his family, he didn’t.
John Wesley, 1738
He was beaten, attacked, abused and threatened by hired thugs as he led people to Christ
William and Catherine Booth, 1865
They led one of the greatest revivals in history amid enormous public criticism, preached in the streets as people threw rocks, rotten food, and human waste at them, and started the Salvation Army.
Gladys Aylward, 1925
She was on the Japanese “most wanted list” for preaching the Gospel in China, many times she narrowly escaped being killed with bullet holes in her clothes and she led two hundred orphans across the mountains, and with God’s help, not one of them died.
Corrie ten Boom, 1944
She suffered in a concentration camp and lost many of her beloved family members for helping Jews during the Holocaust.
Richard Wurmbrand, 1948
He was imprisoned and tortured for ten years for publicly standing for Christ, then when he came to America, he founded The Voice of the Martyrs.
Jim Elliot, 1956
He was violently killed by the unreached people he was trying to win for Christ. But his wife and wives of the other men who were killed kept ministering to these people, and through Jim Elliot and his friend’s death, the women’s forgiveness, and God grace, the unreached became the reached.
“It is not popularity and cultural relevance that will win the world for Christ, but men and women who live and die as if Jesus is all that matters.”
They gave up everything. They surrendered life. They surrendered everything that they had to surrender. Many of us, I know that I would, would say ‘sure, I’ll take a bullet for Christ.’ But are we willing to live for Christ? Are we willing to look like a fool? Are we willing to follow Christ no matter what, no matter where? Are we willing to give Him control of every single cell in our body to use for His glory and His alone?
Can you say that you would die? For your King? The King of all Kings? The King who saved you? The Lamb who willingly gave up His glorious life to die on a dirty cross for you and me? Would you die for Him?
Jesus has sent you an invitation. I can just see it.
I invite you to come follow Me. I cannot say that your life will be easier now, but I can say that your life will have a purpose. Your life will have a satisfaction that you can find no where else. I invite you to follow Me to the ends of the earth and then to the realms of Heaven. I promise that I will never leave you nor will I forsake you. I will stand by you forever.
I love you and invite you,
Jesus, the Healer, Your Savior, Your Shepherd, Yahweh… click here to see all that He is.
“If you only knew the gift God has for you, and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”
Think about it.