Monday, December 12, 2011


Freedom is never free.

It always seems to come at the cost of sacrifice.

The ultimate example is Jesus. He was sent to this world as a baby, "grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man," and ultimately laid down His life that you and I might have eternal life, if we would surrender ours to Him.

This surrender seems to look different from person to person, and church to church.

Jesus said "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Mtw 16:24

Does this mean we basically live our lives as we want, with the primary difference being, we attend church on Sunday?

That is not what it is supposed to be. There is little sacrifice in that. However, that is where much of the American church resides. This is the "surrender" portrayed by many believers to those who have not yet met Jesus. Yet, it is of little value.

Church attendance does not make one a believer. When the separation comes that Jesus spoke of, in Matthew 25... "He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."... Many who think they are sheep will find that not to be true.

While salvation is through grace and not works (Eph 2), when one surrenders to Christ, the desire He plants within is one of wanting to be faithful to Him, where we follow His heart, and do what He puts within us to do.

For too many, learning to deny that voice rather than self, has become the norm.

I imagine His heart breaks over this.

I also believe He struggles with some of our attitudes, even when we are faithful.

For example, each year, for about as long as I can remember, my family has come together between Christmas and New Years. We drive to an agreed upon location, spend four or five days together, and celebrate Him and the time with each other.

My family is very close. I have written of this often.

I have struggled this year with my attitude towards not being able to do this.

Yes, I am so very thankful and blessed that my family changed each of their plans to accommodate our schedule, and do this same thing at Thanksgiving. We had an incredible time! But, it isn't Christmas, and it isn't our tradition.

Tradition is not Scripture, but it is important as long as it doesn't supersede Scripture.

All this to say, I struggle with my attitude in leading a mission team to Nuevo Laredo, over the Christmas break. If I am brutally honest, I do not want to give in this way, at this time. I am not proud of this, but feel the need to be clear.

However, I know the Lord has a plan. I know I need to be in the center of that plan, regardless of ultimate outcome.

My God is faithful, and I know that no matter what the sacrifice, on the eternal landscape it will have been worth it! I know that the sacrifice of those going on this trip will mean the salvation of many who are lost!

How and why would I struggle with my attitude over this, when I know what the outcome for others will mean?

I just got a phone call from a dear friend whose youth group I was supposed to take to Panama over Spring Break. She cancelled the trip, because she only had seven sign up.

It seems their attitudes and priorities align with the ones I am struggling with over this Christmas time.

While I am frustrated for her, and for us, with the planning that has gone into it, and the lives that would have been saved had these been willing to sacrifice, I see my own attitudes in their decisions, and know I must repent and I must go!

If my sacrifice means someone elses salvation, I must go!

"But its not safe!" many will say.

For years I have told others that there is no safer place to be than in the center of His will.

Recently, our newly called pastor challenged this. He said that this statement is not Biblical. He said "there is no more dangerous place to be than in the center of God's will!"

In many ways, I know he is right. However, it doesn't change what He has called me to do.

How can anything else be more important than someone elses salvation? How can tradition gain higher attention from me, than obedience?

The answer is pretty simple.

It's the American way. Most of us are trained up this way, even when we grow up in church.

We do what we want, when we want, and don't get this Great Commission stuff in my face, because I tithe, and go to church. This is the prevailing attitude.

It's interesting that the directive from our Savior isn't, "go to church and do what you want with your life." Rather, it's "therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Forgive me Lord!

Fill my heart with joy in serving, and a passion for those who need you in Nuevo Laredo! You ARE more important to me than tradition, but I am very thankful for it too!

If this steps on your toes this Christmas Season, then know mine are already aching in pain.



At 11:30 AM, Blogger gilbert said...

Thank you for this Brent - I think we always know the blessing of God when we step outside of our comfort zones to make His salvation known - I pray you will see God do great things in and through you and the team who go to Nuevo Laredo.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

I think you and your pastor are both right. The difference lies in the definition of "safe."

I am praying He will bless you with gifts that are especially meaningful as you continue to lay down your life--day by day.

Praying in pink
with tender love.

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