I've mentioned before that I am not much of a reader anymore. Mostly, because if I get started on a good book, I easily can't put it down and end up neglecting things I should be doing, or staying up WAY too late to read "just a little bit more!" I have been convicted over the last couple years that I need to spend more time learning about the God I serve, and becoming more familiar with instruction found in that big 'ole book known as the BIBLE! Additionally, the studies that we have done in our women's Sunday school classes have also fostered such an interest in my heart and soul. You may (or probably not) recall on my resolution list found here from Dec 31, 2010, that my goal was to increase my reading this next year.
which captivated me from the beginning. .
all the way to the end. .
which I finished the same night. .
I TOLD you. .I just can't help it!!
This book has caused an extreme sprititual stirring in my soul. I think that it has something to do with the other book that we are currently using in our Sunday School class. .
. .which I also finished this week.
Let me give you a little background. I was raised in a Catholic church. We attended church every Sunday, I went to the youth group programs, and even taught a kindergarten Sunday school class as a senior in high school. It was comfortable for me. I went, I prayed, I was a good person, in that I didn't do anything too horrible. All was good. All except that I just didn't get IT. Though I thought I did.
After we got married, we couldn't agree on a church to attend. .so we just quit going. However, when we were close to having our first baby, I decided that it didn't matter WHERE we went to church. .as long as we went. So we tried several until we ended up in Jeremy's home church. .a little community, bible-teaching church out in the country.
It was in this little church that I realized that I wasn't getting the whole picture. It was here that I finally could put to rest the uncertainty of whether I had been "good enough" to make it into heaven by admitting my sinful nature and accepting God's graceful gift of eternal life from the death of His Son. It's been in this church that I have found the supportive encouragement to press on in learning and practicing obedience to God's biblical teachings. I have learned some AWESOME things from Beth Moore, James MacDonald, and Francis Chan. .and by grace. .and a teachable heart. .God is changing me daily. .and you know what??
It's not always comfortable!!
It stretches me in directions that my human-ness doesn't always want to follow.
It causes me to start walking away from doors that I like. .to pursue Godlier doors of the unknown.
The point of all of this??
Francis Chan's book Crazy Love has hit nerves. It has convicted me nearly out of even trying. Only to bring me to this conclusion. .I'm not supposed to be TRYING. .I am supposed to be STRIVING. .daily. .in a walk with God. A lot of uncomfortable, convicting stress to comprehend the message that God wants me to "get," and I believe share. .with people.
You welcome those who cheerfully do good, who follow godly ways. But we are not godly. We are constant sinners, so your anger is heavy on us. How can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away.
Translated a little bit like this. .I can be proud that I am a "good" person. .you know not a thief or murderer. .one who occassionally does nice things for people. .but God sees those deeds as pathetic. .like a used tampon (the actual LITERAL biblical translation of filthy rag) In God's eyes. .one sin is as bad as another sin. .they are all sin. .and we are all sinners by nature.
What God really wants is, not for me to be good (though if I am truly a follower of Him. .it is natural to desire that goodness) but for me to pursue Him. .with my thoughts and my soul and my body , to build a relationship with Him. Chan's book provoked me to realize that if I don't make an effort to pursue Christ daily. .through prayer. .or reading His words. .or working on bible studies. .or talking to other believers about spriritual things. .or sitting on a church pew, that I lose the zealousness for His goodness. Chan notes in his book that "We never grow closer to God by just living life; it takes DELIBERATE pursuit and attentiveness."
That, my friends, is when it clicked for me!! A relationship with God isn't just a quick muttered prayer, it is SO much more!! And he commands from us that it be more. .a true, loving relationship with Him. .one where we seek His counsel and read and study to learn about Him and His commandments and desires for us.
The book Heaven is For Real tied in to my growth by offering me a tiny but real confirmation of what the reward of heaven is all about. And just a welcome little reality check to remind me of what there is to lose!
The book is about a 3 1/2 year old son of a pastor in Nebraska who took a little trip to heaven during a critical surgery to correct a ruptured appendix. It details out the next couple years as the pastor and his wife become aware that the little boy was talking about a trip to heaven (he never died. .but started referring to an "out of body" experience several months after the surgery). They gradually pull out all that little boy had seen, heard, and knew. .confirming the accuracy of his recounts against the bible.
I have always believed in heaven. .but this book just made heaven 100% more realistic to me!! And reconfirmed the purpose for my journey!!
And so, if you have managed to stick out through my ramblings. .the most exciting part of this whole post. .is the fact that I picked up one of the Heaven is for Real books the other day with the intention of giving it away to one of the readers of this blog post. I'd love to give out a million. .it was such a great read!! I'll have the kids draw a number on Sunday evening to pick the winner from the comments left on this post. If you would like to be in the drawing, leave me a comment!! I'd love to send the book to someone who hasn't already read the book. .but I would also LOVE to read the comments from anyone who HAS read the book to hear what you all thought.
This post is certainly a little different from my norm. .and I hope it was more of a blessing than a bore!!
Wishing you all a safe and wonderful weekend!! Can't wait to see who the recipient of the book will be!!
God Bless. .Melanie