the more: finding what it really means to live like Jesus

Isn’t it a joy to know Jesus? Whatever your upbringing, whether you grew up in church or you just came to Jesus (or you’re reading this and maybe do not know Him)...the moment you meet Him, it’s love at first sight. 

For me, Jesus is the One who I have known for almost all my life. 

Introduced to me as a young child, I decided to really give my life to Him at 8 years old. 

And every season I know Him in a different way. 

This season I’m starting to dig deeper in to seeking and finding out, what do you really want? 

I’m not just going to assume I know what it looks like to walk with Jesus. 

I want to find out from Him, what is your heartbeat. How do you want your followers to walk.

So even if it’s been over 22 years for me to know Him, its as though it’s in a fresh, new way. 

I’ve been reading a book about the importance of reading the Bible in its cultural context. Within this book, the author took an account in the Bible and had his students read it, close the book and recite the account back to him in their words.  He found that each group included parts of the story that were more common in their culture, but overlooked parts that were 

More important in Their everyday life. 

For example. Famine was included in the account, but those from the United States overlooked this fact, because it was something that was not in culture or has affected that generation as a whole. 

But students from other developing countries, in retelling this account, would always include the famine, because it was something they experienced. 

I really believe believers in Jesus  are waking up to a different way of doing things.  A different way of conducting daily life. And I think it’s a beautiful reconstruction. 


Just like the students in the previous story got a lot of the main points of the scriptural account, but left out important details, we as Christians have gotten really good at that in our Christian walk. 

And I think a lot of the places we’ve missed it is not because we did on purpose, but possibly because it was what was in our culture. 

We’ve gotten really good at going to conferences, hosting our programs, attending church...all of which are very vital in our lives as Christians, but not the whole.

We’ve gotten really good at putting preachers on pedestals thinking they are the epitome of life, a goal only the most spiritual could be, and the only ones who God places as effective laborers in the great harvest. 

We’ve gotten really a good at “building church and ministries” but forgetting the lost. 

These are all things that if someone read a guidebook of what it looks like to be a  Christian (aka the Bible), they got the gathering,church part but we’ve left out some pretty important details of what It really means to be a follower of Jesus.

I hope you understand, I love conferences, I love gatherings, i love Christian programs!!

I think they are wonderful gifts and are part and a joy of being a follower of Jesus. 

But friend, I know there’s more. 

And God even says there’s more, so it’s important to listen: 

““The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Isaiah 1:11-17 

What is amazing is in order to do the “more”, we actually have to spend more time amongst people that don’t look like your typical “church” people. My 13 year old self-religious self is gasping right now. 


And before you do the same thing, just take a moment and think about how Jesus conducted His life. 

How many times was He in the home of a sinner? 

How many times were the religious and self righteous offended that He actually didn’t just love them from afar but actually ATE with them. 

Considered them as his friends. 

I heard someone say once, if the only people in our contact lists are Christians, we are missing something.  I think he’s right. To be honest,  I look through my phone book and I have maybe 2-3 non-Christians.  I pray for the opportunities to meet those who do not know Jesus, not to convert them as though they were just projects to put on a scoreboard, but to be their friend. To show them the love of Jesus. 

Because I believe once you encounter the love of Jesus, you are changed and want to follow.

I’m not saying go to wild living for the sake of loving people who don’t know Jesus. 

But I am saying to have a heart open to not only love someone that doesn’t believe the same as you, but would you dare to know them? 

I want someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus to never feel judged in my presence, only loved. 

Of course it’s important to be strong and solid in what You believe, and never hide that. But it is possible  to fully love someone you don’t agree with. I’ve seen it done. 

Jesus never went back on the truth, but spoke it in love to whoever would listen.

And It’s His goodness that drew men to Himself.

10 years ago I would have read this and considered it wrong. But once you see Jesus’ heart for the outcast, the one who couldn’t do anything for Him, you can’t look away.  


So what is the more in our Christian lives?

First, we simply love Jesus. and that love is what leads us to lives created for Justice. People.  Lifting and loving the oppressed.  The orphan. The widow.  

Not being afraid to love the one who is not in your circle. 

This is a radical, beautiful life and it’s one worth living. 

xx

jenny

blog original posted in greek: www.melinasongs.blogspot.com

love is not for the faint of heart: 3 things on loving difficult people

I'm writing to all my friends who have not quite figured out the virtue of patience. Listen, I know my patience should be bigger. It’s something that God works in my heart continuously through His always right on time, yet rarely on my timetable way of doing things.

He has this way of showing us He knows best. And isn’t it beautiful? But I doubt we will ever see His best if we decide to live an impatient life. And seeing His best doesn’t just mean to see His best in our personal lives, but even more important...seeing His best in the lives of those whose lives have gloriously intertwined with ours.

In my previous blog I mentioned how it wasn’t until I moved to Greece and worked with children who were abandoned and abused that I really understood what it meant to walk a long road with people. (You can read it here)

Because things sometimes aren’t instant, especially in dealing with people (the most precious thing to the heart of God.)

So I’m assuming you who are reading this MAY be in need of patience and you have already skimmed through what I’ve written already and want to get to the bullet points in bold. No condemnation..I do the same.

So let me meet you where you are and give you some bullet points on some things I’ve learned in walking the long road with people: 

  • CELEBRATE THE SMALL VICTORIES

Have you ever run a long distance race with the distance markers on the side of the track? Could you imagine running and not having one notice of how far you ran to the finish line? I don’t know about you, but that would make the race never ending for me.  What do those mile markers do? They let you know how far you’ve come.

When you’re working with people from difficult places (and really people in general), when there’s a goal they are trying to reach, the best thing you can do is notice the small things. The GOOD small things. Even though it’s easy to be reminded of the things others haven’t measured up to, let’s change our perspective and see how far someone has come. 

  • BE A GENEROUS GIVER OF GRACE

Oh this one.

I used to think if someone heard the truth and failed in doing it, something was wrong in them. Now I see hearing the truth but missing the mark as simply human. 

The prior is a self-righteous way to think anyway. Being a generous giver of Grace is essential in walking the long journey with people. 

Why is it essential? Because grace was AND CONTINUALLY IS being shown towards us in our lives.

Isn’t it funny when we expect everyone to give us heaps of grace but when someone around us needs it we hold it back thinking we've given too much already? 

You don't even want to know who is continually having to show YOU grace in your life RIGHT NOW!!!! Just to put things in perspective ;). 

When these kids at abbahouse hear the instruction of one of the theas (caretakers) and don’t follow orders, we don’t give up on them. Or even when one of the kids starts cussing up a storm and yells at the other kids..we don’t give up on them and throw them on the street. 

No. We show them grace. Because in the act of showing grace, you look deeper in the story. These children are not cussing because they are bad children. Their innocence was stolen and the pools of grace and love of Jesus they are now living in will restore it back to them.

I think that's how Jesus saw the sinner. He looked deeper in the story and realized they were people without a shepherd, sinners in need of a saviour. That's nothing to be angry about, but it's something that causes compassion and grace to rise up.

But grace is what it takes, and many times not just grace but a lot of time. 

Are we willing to walk that out?

The reward is worth it, no matter the cost.

  • BE PATIENT UNTIL YOU NEED TO KEEP BEING PATIENT

This is a good one. You know that scripture in Ephesians, when you’ve done all to stand, keep standing?

It’s like, if you think you’ve made it to the finish line, keep going. There may be more battles, more distance, but if you keep sowing, keep standing and keep loving, I believe you’ll see beautiful fruit. 

And I want to say this, maybe you’re reading this and you have recently given up on the hope for your child to be free. Maybe they walked away and your grace has run out. 

I encourage you, keep showing grace. Let them know you are always there and haven’t given up, Let them know that you are still waiting at the window with the orders to throw a party on his arrival on your lips. 

Loving people is not for the faint of heart or the impatient.

But isn’t it worth it when you love in such a way, that even the one far off knows he’s safe to come home?

friends, we can do this.

my life motto is this: love well. and that's what I want to do. 

love well when it's easy and when it's not. 

loving well means not giving up on someone. 

let's do this. 

jenny

I know I shouldn't judge but I did anyway

judge not lest you be judged. matt 7

I have a confession. I’m a critical person by nature.

Being critical is being prideful. It’s thinking you know more than your neighbor and pride is the nature of man. It’s only by the Grace and forgiveness of God that we can overcome the pride of the flesh.

We criticize anything or anyone that’s different or anything we don’t understand.

If we don’t understand it, it’s wrong.

If it looks different than what we’ve been taught or known, it’s not the right way.

But is it really a question of one being right and one being wrong, or is it oftentimes more of a perspective and characteristic that is just different.

If we agree on Jesus Christ being the way, the truth and the life, instead of seeing minor differences in a critical manner, what if we looked at it as the beauty of the depths of God.

God is wholly complex, yet wholly simple.

There are depths of Him that we will be discovering and rejoicing over for eternity. That is evidence that He is so complex, so deep and so unsearchable, yet rejoices in revealing Himself and His love to the simple.

You can go to twenty different churches and get twenty different expressions of love for Jesus.

You’ll see silence in one,

Flags and dancing in another.

I can remember standing in different church services (living in Texas, you can almost visit twenty churches on one street), sometimes things looking different then I knew or even was comfortable with.

I’ve been raised to keep my mouth from speaking words of doubt. I’m grateful for my upbringing. It’s saved me in so many situations.

I remember visiting a church a few years ago and during worship they sang a line in a song that I would always change the words to whenever I would sing it.

Immediately my response was a critical and judgemental spirit.

I was judging them for not singing the song the way that I sang it.

At that moment Jesus spoke to my heart and said:

"These people are worshipping me out of a purer heart than you are right now.

While they are ministering to me, you are being critical and it’s keeping you from being a worshipper.”

 

It hit me.

My critical spirit didn’t affect these people’s devotion towards God. It was hindering mine.

I was too busy needing to be right.

The voice of Jesus changed me that day. Now I don’t want to be held back by legalities. I want to pour myself out completely and unhindered to the One who saved me and loves me.

In any church service, instead of being critical, I’m beginning to see beauty.

I would be critical of traditional churches. My heart has changed.

The heart of tradition was founded in beauty. The truth is many traditions were made out of adoration of the Saviour.

 

Do people hold too tightly to them and trust them MORE than they do Jesus?

Of course and this shouldn’t be so.

 

But didn’t I do the same thing as the ones I was being critical of?  What I was holding on to just looked a little different.

I trusted too much in my righteous acts and right doing MORE than what Jesus had done for me.

 

Does anyone have everything right?

No way. We are human.

 

But we are all on a journey, hopefully with hearts to see the true nature of God. To be only loving and never judging the one whom we call brother or sister.

 

I hope this speaks to some of you.

 

Life is far richer when it’s filled with the beauty of relationship with Jesus and not of pride that we know it all.

 

We don’t know everything and to know that truth is to set us free.

Let’s not look at someone who loves Jesus a little differently and judge them for it.

We are not the judge of the heart of man.

Let’s just love Jesus and see the beauty in how someone else does too.

Let's call you Daniel

Let’s call you Daniel.

Is that ok with you? I’m not quite sure if it is ok with you or not.

You couldn’t hear for me to ask you. You couldn't speak to give an answer.

Our communication was limited, consisting of walking hand in hand, smiling back and forth at each other and you signifying to me you wanted a drink of water.

I didn’t know that small "Jesus loves me" bracelet I placed on your wrist would become a friendship bracelet. We were inseparable throughout that 3 mile walk and we’re inseparable even now because that very day you grabbed a special place in my heart that I’ll never forget.

Every step my foot took, my mind raced and I cried out to God on your behalf.

I’d ask myself:

Daniel, where is your mama?

Daniel, where is your papa?

Daniel, do they know you’re here or do they wonder where you’ve gone?

But what shakes me to the core?

Maybe, just maybe nobody is out there looking for you.

But today, I see you.

And more importantly, God sees you.

And that's the most important thing to remember.

You may forget me. But I pray you'll never forget Jesus.

I’m just one person walking on a road in Kitgum loving one person.

It may not seem big or world-changing. And I’m not doing it for the sake of saying I was a world-changer.

I’m doing it because you’re a person, just like me, who needs to know you’re deeply loved and never forgotten.

Love changes the world by thinking of the person it’s standing in front of.  

The Bible tells me to speak up for those who have no voice. (Proverbs 31:8)

And every step on that walk was a reminder: Why wasn't that me? I could have been in your place. I could have been a Daniel.

You may not have a voice,Daniel. But I do. And for the sake of this Daniel and ones like him, I’ll use it to cry out for the voiceless, to defend the helpless, and speak belonging over the fatherless.

Friends,

We’ve been given a voice for a purpose to share the Gospel in every corner of the earth.  Whether your corner is the voiceless, helpless co-worker or a Daniel in Northern Uganda.  It’s our call as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let’s love the loveless.

Let’s speak up for those who cannot.

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight and guard against corruption from the godless world. James 1:27

Lord, show us how to pour out and how to love those in our corners, like you have loved us.

For the Kingdom,

Jenny