936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
“But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only…But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing…Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:22-27
|Spending Christmas in the Upper Peninsula with our family!|
This passage weighed on me heavily as Grayson and I made our 6-hour trek up north to his parents house in the U.P. for Christmas week. I was reading through a book by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, entitled “The Hole in Our Gospel”. Stearns creates a very compelling case for the strong tie, even dependency between faith and works. When I picked this book off the shelf from Half Price Books the week before, I was a little skeptical and apprehensive, thinking it may lean a little bit too far on the side of the argument that works are necessary for salvation, and in doing so make little of faith. I assumed this because of the prominent position the author holds in a compassion ministry. I was wrong. I was glued to the pages as I read of stories and cases of extreme poverty and injustice, that which robs the gospel of its opportunity to breathe the life of Christ into billions of people around the world. Each page built an even more compelling case in my heart for the necessity to marry faith and works as the strongest offense we have to bring the Gospel to a hurting and helpless world. Instead of lessening faith and highlighting works, as I had expected, Stearns instead shows through Scripture the harmonious marriage between faith and works. He traces back in history how this “Faith vs. Works argument” began, and how Scripture depicts a wholly different truth: faith and works, together in harmony, build a whole Gospel message.
“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:20-24
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16
|Zeke sharing a morning cup of coffee with Grandma|
One thing I love about our Christmas with Grayson’s family is a time when we all sit together and share how God has blessed us in the past year, and what He’s been doing in our hearts. The hope of Christ has been a thread of truth God has been weaving into my heart these past months. Especially at Christmastime, I was able to tie together the hope we find in Christ to that little baby in a manger. A child so tiny and innocent, mimicking any anticipated behavior of a newborn, yet holding so much hope—so much assured expectation.
This is the hope we have to pass on to a lost world. These two truths—the hopelessness of our world, and the hope we find in Christ, were working heavily in my heart as I considered them in light of each other the past few months.
|Zeke sledding with his Uncle Mitch|
Our works will never save us. If they could, there would have been no need for Christ to come. There would be no need for His blood. Our works, however, are disgustingly insufficient to save our souls, no matter how many good works we do.
Biblical works are not the deeds we do to merit favor with God. They look nothing like the begrudging church nursery worker puting in her time for the month. They are not the man sitting in the pew throwing an extra bill in the offering plate when his wife nudges his ribs. They are not our feeble attempts to gain a salvation through charity, church attendance, or a display of fruits of the spirit. No, Biblical works are the very commands of Christ.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Biblical works are at the heart of every true believer seeking to follow His Lord. Caring for orphans, loving his neighbor, whom in this globalized world is next door or across the ocean, setting the captives free, loosening the chains of the oppressed, meeting the widow in her affliction. Biblical works are showing the very love of Christ to this world with every opportunity we are given, as well as seeking out further opportunities to do so.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
And so let us not toss works out the window, for works indeed have their place in our faith—they complete it, giving a perfect picture of God’s intent of our mission in this world—to glorify Him and make Him known. This is done beautifully and effectively as our faith in Him is manifested through the good works He does in and through us. That’s just what works are—a manifestation of our faith. Faith and works do not oppose one another, fighting for the greatest place of prominence. No, they work in harmony together to show this world the great love of God for His creation—each soul on this earth.
And so what do I do with this? This has been my question for weeks. How do I become a doer rather than a hearer only? I pray. I pray that God will do this work in me, fashioning my own heart to His, that I may see the hurt and the need of this world, loving each person as He does, meeting needs that I may then be given an opportunity to share the Gospel. This is all rather vague, I realize. But I am praying for specifics. There are things which God places in my heart, a vision for His plan, that I know I must keep at the forefront of my heart and mind. One of these is His heart for the poor and orphans. And so I read. I read His Word and other books that I may continue to learn, and that the burden of these hurting people may remain of high priority in my heart. It is my job to keep this vision prominent, now that God has given it, and I challenge you to do the same. Seek Him. Seek His plan. When He reveals it, pursue it with great fervor that it not escape you. Do not be caught doing nothing in the “wait”. Yes, wait for details and opportunities, but in the meantime, do. He has already given us such clear directions in His Word. Be ye a doer of the Word.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!