Crayola® Christians

1 Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Do you remember when one of the most exciting things you were given was a brand new 64 count box of crayons? The possibilities were endless! There were so many colors to choose from as you created your latest masterpiece! And everyone had their own style. Some would trace the lines and then fill it in, others would try to color it just like the picture, and then the real rebels would customize it until it looked nothing like the original! Did you know that there are a lot of similarities between Christians and crayons?

First, Christians are diverse! Not only are there many different colors, there are also many different shades of each color. In one box of 64 crayons there are 11 different shades of blue! Each believer is their own shade of Grace. While our backgrounds and personalities may be similar, we each have a different story and are used by God to color our church, community and world in our own unique shade.

Second, A Christians true purpose is found in the hands of the Creator! While a new crayon box (with those sharp points and bold labels) is a beautiful thing to behold, it is useless until the crayon is taken out of the box. I think you know where I am heading with this one! Don’t we look good on Sundays? Gathered together with those nice suits and dresses, with a Bible under one arm as we sing hymns and listen to some good preaching! While this is awesome and so very important – God has more in mind for you. He wants to take you out of the box and use you to color the lives of others with the Gospel!

Third, it doesn’t matter how worn or broken a Christian may be, they are still useful to God. A broken crayon is still a crayon. Maybe the wrappers has come off, or the tip is worn down. Perhaps it has been used for so long that it can barely fit in a child’s fingers. Even if all of these things are true – the amazing thing about a crayon is that it doesn’t matter how old, worn or broken it is – it can still color. Christian, are you worn? Are you weary? Do you carry the scars of past battles? Maybe you have asked “God can you even use a worn out, broken, nub of a Christian like me?”. The answer is yes. He uses our scars and our brokenness to color a beautiful portrait of His grace.

Today, as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, let’s consider how much like a crayon we truly are! We are all different, but that’s one of the things that makes the church beautiful. We do find our purpose in the hands of our creator. And He does use us to color the world as he uses our individual shade to showcase His amazing grace.



Offended

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

It has been said that we live in the United States of the Offended. This is not without cause as it seems that many in our country take offense easily. If you do not agree with another’s “sexual orientation” then your are homophobic. If you do not agree with another’s religion then you are narrow minded. If you do not agree with another’s political stance then you are wrong. Social Media is screened for offensive posts, which many times are deleted and the one who posted it finds their account locked for a time. Listen, I am not trying to call out any one individual, social media outlet, or public official.  I am just saying that some are easily offended, and others are afraid to offend lest they be ostracized by society.

I have my political views, and if you ask me I will be glad to have an adult conversation with your about them. I believe in the absolute truth of scripture which determines my stand on the social issues that our culture is battling today. Yes, I believe that there are those in leadership who use their positions to push their personal agenda for their own gain. However, it is always my prayer that I continue to love others whether or not I agree with their lifestyle, actions or beliefs – even while I refuse to condone sin as I share with them the life changing message of the Gospel. Each person is an eternal soul. This life is short. Eternity is forever. I am concerned that many have come to the point that we are more concerned with being right than we are with being compassionate.

In our passage today, Paul is speaking about how the life of the Christian should exalt the grace of Christ. In verse 3 he tells us that we should be not be offensive for the sake of the ministry of the Gospel. Then Paul goes on to give us the characteristics of a grace filled life. The cross is offensive (1 Cor 1:23), but it is proclaims the power, grace and love of God though the finished work of Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to point others to that cross. When they stumble, we show the compassion of Christ by expressing His love. When they see it as foolishness, we boldly stand on His wisdom.

I am not saying that we do not stand up for right, and against injustice. Nor am I saying that we are to remain quiet bystanders while the rights we enjoy erode away. What I am saying is that when they become the enemy then we have missed the point. Ephesians 6:12 identifies who it is we are fighting against and it is not your neighbor, the member of an opposing political parts, or the person who is living in a sinful lifestyle. It is Satan himself who is walking around seeking to devour. When we give in to the temptation to make a person the enemy then Satan rejoices because he has accomplished his goal of diverting our attention away from the Gospel.

Today as we Refocus our hearts and minds on Christ, I want us to remember that our goal is to preach the Gospel. My payer is that if anyone finds offense in me, let it be in the cross of Christ. Don’t get so consumed in the temporal things of this world that you miss the opportunity to be a minister of Grace!



Add to Patience…Godliness

2 Peter 1:5-6   “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

One of the most common New Years resolutions is the one to get in shape. Gym memberships spike at the beginning of January with people who have resolved that this will be the year that they reach their fitness goals. Their intentions are probably good, but most people do not follow through. One stat says that within 6 months half of the new members have quit. Another stat says that 67% of gym memberships go completely unused!

We know that we need to lose weight, gain muscle, and increase our cardio fitness…but many of us find that we aren’t willing to but forth the effort to do so. It’s hard! It takes discipline! It takes time! The results are not immediate, so many just quit.

It is hard to stay motivated – which is why some gyms place pictures of body builders around the walls to help us visualize the goal! Those who stick to it enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as their bodies conform to the examples in the pictures. They experience an increase in their level of energy, feeling of wellness, and quality of life. They have determined that the benefits out-weigh the cost.

Peter tells his readers that to their patience they should add the characteristic of godliness. Godliness is something we have to work hard to achieve. It takes patience, discipline, and an overall desire to be like Christ. Paul told Timothy to “…exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7b). The word translated exercise is the Greek word gymnazo. Sound familiar? A gymnasium is a place we go to for training and exercise. Paul and Peter are telling us that we we need to spend time in the spiritual Gym!

So what is godliness? One definition states that it is “the devout practice and appropriate beliefs of God”.  It is the Bible being fleshed out in our daily walk. It isn’t enough to sit and listen to good preaching, reading your three chapters a day, and praying before meals. God doesn’t want to just be a part of your life! He wants to transform your life into the image of His precious son! Romans 12:2 says it this way, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

God’s will is for us to live a transformed, godly life; one that is modeled after the life of our Savior. To do this we can’t just read God’s word, we have to put it into daily practice. This takes discipline, patience and a desire to see Jesus formed in us. Gal 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” He is our goal!

Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, let’s hit the gym! It is not always easy to live the life the Bible calls us to, and there will be time when we just don’t feel like it! But if we stick to it out of our love for Christ and desire to be like Him, we will experience the transformational power of the Gospel!