Sunday Morning

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It’s Sunday morning and you’ve just arrived to church.  You are 10 minutes early, like always, and have taken your “scriptural” seat.  Looking around you’re surprised when Adam Smith walks through the door.  Last weekend he got drunk out on his farm according to his youngest boy, Jake.  You see the eyebrows raising of your fellow brothers and sisters and know they’re as surprised as you are.

Buzz Buzz.

Your cell phone vibrates.  You have a text from Jane who sits a few pews behind you.

Jane:  Don’t look now but Susan just slipped in the back.  The Lord may be coming back today!  Ha.

Susan Amos?  Oh my goodness. You grew up in the youth group with Susan and at last count she was on her fifth husband, but you’ve heard lately that the man she is currently with isn’t her husband.

This will be an interesting Sunday morning.

Announcements start.  Then you pick up your song book.  “How Great Thou Art” – one of your favorites.  You lift up your voice in unison to sing to your Savior.

A figure slips in quickly and quietly, head down, and sits at the end of your row.  You can’t believe your eyes.  John Williams.  His pants are pressed, shirt and jacket tailored, the man is made of money.  That’s probably how he got out of the murder charges filed against him last year.  Yea, he’s on his second wife and her husband died last year after going on a hunting trip with John.  This is a Sunday morning for the books.

Your phone is buzzing incessantly by your side.  You’re sure after church you’ll have 1000s of texts.  You bet Rita, Jane, and Margie are all as shocked as you are.  Is it Christmas?  What are all these people doing here on the SAME Sunday?!

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Sometimes I am shocked by Christians and the way we behave.  I read my Bible and think constantly – what if these people showed up to church today?  Now, I go to a wonderful congregation where I truly do not think this would be the reaction (the above conversation) but I still hear conversations like this all the time.  It is sad.

The first example I gave – “Adam Smith” did it sound familiar?

Turn to Genesis chapter 9:

20Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
26He also said,
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
27May God enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.”

Noah?  The same Noah mentioned here in Hebrews 11?

7By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Yep, the same one.

Okay okay, all he did was get drunk – once.  That woman, Susan, she’s not in the bible, is she?

Let’s go to John 4:
16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

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So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him.

Yep, “Susan” met Jesus.  And SUSAN brought people to Jesus.  A sinner.  Crazy, huh?

Okay, okay.  But there is nooo way “John” is in the Bible.   Well, I saved my favorite for last.  Do you remember King David?  The man after God’s OWN heart?   The adulterous murderer?

Turn to 2 Samuel 12:

1And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

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David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

I want to say something important here – I am not condoning sin.  Neither did Jesus.  I am saying that the Church is made up of sinners.  We are a sinful people who are constantly making mistakes.

What if, instead of talking about “Adam (Noah)” we gave him a hug and told him how good it was to see him this morning?  What if we really meant it from the bottom of our hearts?

What if, instead of texting about “Susan (the woman at the well)”, we held her hand, prayed for her, and told her that we understand how hard life is – but we are here for her?  What if we helped her know Jesus more intimately?

What if, instead of gossiping about “John (David)”, we helped him see his sins, as Nathan did, and prayed for him?  What if we encouraged him?  What if we helped him leave his life of sin?

James 5:

19My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

This isn’t a post about condoning sin – this is a post about helping, encouraging, and being better Christians.  This is a post about being Christ-like.  Let’s stop calling ourselves Christians and gossiping behind our brethrens back.  Let’s stop looking down on others because of their sin and instead find ways to encourage, love, and help.

Stop worrying about my tattoos and start worrying about my soul. Stop looking at my piercings and instead look at my heart.
Take my hand. Pray for me. I’ll pray for you.

Everyone you meet is fighting a spiritual battle. Don’t let the devil win.

 – Anna Maynard
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Biblical Modesty: It’s Not What You Think

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(Photo: source )

Being a Christian in a materialistic world is difficult.  It is trying because everywhere we look there are new styles to be worn, new make-up to put on, new jewelry that we must have and the list goes on and on.  We want to be beautiful, we want to be noticed.  Some of us even work in industries where we are constantly slammed with materialism, whether it be at a boutique, a hair salon, or as a make-up or nail artist we are inundated with earthly-oriented things.  Is it wrong to work in these positions?  Let’s talk about a great biblical woman, Lydia.

Acts 16: 13-15 “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.”

Meet the peddler of purple, Lydia.  In Lydia’s time purple was the color of nobility, of royalty.  She was a seller of the finest cloth.  Her cliental were the wealthiest of the wealthy.  Christianity is unique because Christ accepts all kinds of people from all walks of life.  His followers were tax collectors, doctors, tent makers, ex-persecutors, centurions, and peddlers of purple.  Christ lets us immerse ourselves in all walks of society to spread his word.  Lydia could reach people in her chosen profession that some of the others would not encounter on a day to day basis.

This is our job, ladies.

Whether we are stay at home moms, college students, doctors, hair dressers, teachers, or secretaries we are to be a river of Jesus that flows through every crevice of our jobs.  We are how Jesus is spread to the lost.

I am not saying materialism is a good thing.  In fact, materialism is a focus on earthly-minded things and we are to be a heavenly-minded people.  So, how in a materialistic world do we set ourselves apart?

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

We are a people who are set apart, a people whose focus is so heavenly-minded that we are literally clothed with virtues.

Do we have to be plain Jane’s?  No.  Is it sinful to wear jewelry?  No.

If you are asking yourself these questions then you are missing the point.  As mature Christians in the faith we should be choosing not to adorn ourselves with fine jewelry and clothing, instead we should be adorning ourselves with a gentle spirit and an imperishable beauty that is the hidden person of the heart.

But I have to wear clothes.

You are right, but you are still missing the point.  How many times a day does someone say to you, “I love those (insert article of clothing or piece of jewelry), where did you get that?”

If our ultimate example is Jesus, let’s look at how he was described.  After all, he is the son of God, right?

Isaiah 53: 2-3

“For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Our ultimate example had nothing in his appearance that drew people to him.  Maybe that is why people from all walks of life felt it so easy to come to him.  The lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, the common people did not feel intimidated by this man.  This “common man” changed the world.  He healed the sick, he gave sight to the blind, he forgave sins.  He did not dress in the finest robes of purple, even though he could.

I am afraid we are like the people described at the beginning of Isaiah.  We are sick and cannot even see it.  We have so much that we are blinded by our things.  We read 1 Timothy and think it is talking about being modest.  We are missing the entire point.  We draw attention to ourselves daily because we are full of pride in ourselves.  We don’t want people to see Jesus.  We want to be seen.  We want to be beautiful.

In Isaiah 1:5-6 the writer describes a people like this:

“The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,”
We are sick.  The whole HEAD is sick.  The whole HEART is faint.  From the sole of the foot even to the head.  Wow.
 
If you read on you learn why and quite frankly they sound a lot like us:
Isaiah 2: 7-8
“Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.”
Isaiah 3:16-24
“The Lord said:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
and walk with outstretched necks,
glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
tinkling with their feet,
therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
the heads of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets;the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
and instead of a belt, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
and branding instead of beauty.”

When was the last time someone complimented you on your spirit, your gentleness, your kindness or patience?  I imagine it’s not as often as they compliment you on your flashy clothing and jewelry.

When was the last time instead of thinking days ahead on what we are going to wear for certain events we prepared our hearts?  When was the last time we spent hours preparing our quiet spirit?

Let’s change this.

Let’s be the light of Christ in the world.  Let’s be women not of fashion but of virtue.

1 Peter 2: 9-10 Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Like Lydia, we are to be lights in this world.  Jesus does not want us to take ourselves out of the world, just to be separate, different.  A light in a room full of darkness is noticed, not because it is outside the dark room, but because it is inside the room, for all to see shining like a beacon for all to draw towards it.

John 17:15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Let’s stop giving people reasons to compliment us on our external appearance (it’s going to happen no matter what, I understand that), but let’s start giving them a reason to notice our Christ like hearts.

Let’s be virtuous women.

-Anna Maynard

 

Why I Didn’t Like What Africa Taught Me.

Yes, you read that title right.  It is now September and I left for Africa in the middle of July.  You may have noticed, I have not written any blogs on my experience there.  It is hard for me to write this and even more difficult for me to share, but I did not like what Africa taught me.  Jeremy, my brother-in-law, and Justin, my husband, and I have talked about this a lot.  What we learned in Africa is weighing heavily on our hearts.  Some days the weight feels like it might crush me.  But let me back up.

Before we left for Africa Justin was disheartened by the comments of those around us.  Now, let me say this, we understand why these comments were made.  We know that the Christians who said them meant well, but it still bothered us, deeply.  The first comment we got… a LOT, was “But is Tanzania safe?”  Okay, I realize this was being said because they care.  But Jesus never said “Go into all the safe places and teach the Gospel”.  He didn’t specify where, why?  Because sometimes He calls you to the dangerous places.  Now, Tanzania isn’t particularly dangerous.  It is not like Cairo or Syria.  However, it is much more dangerous than our little town of Villanow, Georgia.  Is it more dangerous than going to Chicago?  Probably not.  But that isn’t the point  The point is pray for our safety, by ALL means, but whether or not where we were going was safe…shouldn’t be an issue.

The other comment truly unsettled us.  We were shocked the first time it was made.  “Well, you’ll go over there, do some good, and come back feeling good about yourself”.  Yes, that is a real comment made to us.  We did not go to Tanzania to FEEL GOOD about ourselves.  If that is your motivation behind doing good that is pure selfishness.  We went to Tanzania because we feel like God is pulling us there.  HE wants us there.  That is why we went.  We want to glorify HIM in all our actions and if He feels the need to lead us to a third world country, I pray we always have the courage to follow.

Now, why haven’t I written about our time in Africa?  To be honest it is because I don’t think it is what all of you want to hear.  Last night I was talking with Justin and Jeremy and we realized we’ve all been asked the same question since we got back, “Coming back makes you realize how blessed you really are, doesn’t it?”  And we have all replied the same way, with a half-hearted smile, shrug, and “Yea”.  I am sorry friends, I hope you will forgive me, but that was a lie.  We have been lying to you and ourselves since we got back.  So here is the truth:

Tanzania taught me that America are the poor ones.  

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Most everyone who has looked at our pictures is startled by their dirty, ragtag clothing, and snotty noses.  Friends, we are the poor ones.  Why?  Because we can’t see past material things.  We are so materially rich we are spiritually poor.  We are destitute.  My heart breaks for the church in America.  It only took a day before the dirty clothes and snotty noses were overlooked by our team.  These children are the HAPPIEST children I have ever encountered.  I can’t imagine if you put 50 of our children in a place with no toys, one change of clothes, and corn paste to eat every single day that they would be filled with the joy these children have.

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Why is there such joy? Because they don’t KNOW they are missing anything. They have Jesus, what else do they need? Nothing.

Here is a small portion of the conversation between Jesus and the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30:

“What do I still lack?”

 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect,go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I am afraid this is us, America.  ALL of us.  We have become the rich, young ruler.  We are so attached to our things that we feel sorrowful for those who don’t have our things, so much so that we can’t see true joy.  Why can’t we see the joy?  Because we don’t understand it.  If Jesus were truly here today and told us to sell ALL of our possessions and follow Him, would we be able to?  Or would we turn away from him sorrowful because that meant no netflix, no college football games, no coach purses, no closet full of clothes, no fishing poles, no four wheelers, and possibly even going hungry more often than not.  Could we do it?  I am afraid we would all go away sorrowful.

Africa was an eye-opener for me, but not in the way I thought it would be.  I have always heard horror stories about third world countries, and let me tell you, it is NOT all rainbows and sunshine.  But it is a lot of joy, kindness, and Jesus.  Did most of the people we met have more than one change of clothes?  No.  Were their bellies full? No.  But they were a people of rejoicing.  They know that this life is temporary, and what is cable tv and a closet full of clothes when NONE OF THAT LEADS YOU TO JESUS?   All those things are distraction upon distraction FROM JESUS.  

Now, I am sure I will be attacked for this post.  We can’t ALL give up our jobs, we can’t ALL give up our things, and so on and so on.  You are right, you have to have senders and goers.  “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:15 Even implies that someone has to be the sender.  

I hate to reduce things to numbers because Jesus doesn’t care about numbers, but for example…. Instead of us giving Jesus 10% and living off of the remaining 90%, why don’t we live off of 10% and use the 90% to further His kingdom.  Let’s preach the good news, it is just that, GOOD NEWS.  I wonder if we even believe that.  Jesus is the only thing in this life that matters.  His word is a matter of eternal LIFE or eternal DEATH.  Let’s start acting like it.  

Christianity isn’t a halfway thing.  You are either ALL in or ALL out.  He hates those who are lukewarm. “‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Rev 3:16

We are the ones who are blind.  Blind to the spiritual blessings God promises, because we want to see the material things as His blessings.  He NEVER promised material things.  He tells us not to worry about food, clothing, or shelter.  He wasn’t talking about a feast, an entire closet, and a mansion.  He meant we won’t starve, we will have clothes on our backs, and if a storm comes he’ll provide a tree for shelter.  He never preached a health and wealth gospel.  Christianity isn’t easy.  It requires us to give EVERYTHING to God in exchange for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Those are the blessings from God here on this earth.  Our homes and all our things are nothing but distractions, and I don’t know that they come from Him.  

Now, before you tar and feather me…think about why what I am saying makes you angry.  It is probably because you don’t WANT to give up your things for Him.  And I’m not telling you you have to.  I am only saying we at the very LEAST need to change the way we think.  

Let’s become on FIRE for God. 

Let’s become people who see the heart of men.  

Let’s become people who will give all of our possessions up to follow Him.

Before I close I want to tell you I am not just saying all of this.  You can’t talk the talk and not walk the walk.  This is why I don’t LIKE what Africa taught me.  I was perfectly complacent being an American Christian who attended church when the doors are open, talked about God on occasion, thanked the Lord for the piles upon piles of material things he had “blessed” me with.  But all of that is changing in the Maynard home, and I know it’s not just my home that is changing.  I have found many around me who feel the same way.  We are cleansing our home, purging our life from the material things that have blocked us from Jesus.  Can we all have things?  Yes, but if it is THAT important to you to argue your case to keep them then YOU are who I am talking to.  You are me.  

I am not accountable for anyone but myself.  I am choosing Jesus.  I just wanted to share with all of you why I haven’t written about Africa.  I was afraid to.  I was afraid of what it would mean in my life, and afraid of the reaction other Christians around me would have.  But, no more.  I have decided to be radical for Jesus and this is only the beginning. 

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Anna Maynard

Go.

Mission-Trip-2014

In 2008 I was privileged to travel to the Chimala mission in the country of Tanzania as a teacher in the program of preacher training on the campus of the mission. Since then I have become the director of the school and a missionary to the native population. We have graduated numerous young men and women who are now spreading the “boarders of the kingdom.” Along with some amazing native and American teachers in the heart of east Africa we have a dedicated group of young adults who are going to work on the mission this summer. They are going to come to teach and minister with both spiritual and physical help. We have a church deacon, trained schoolteachers, a nurse, college students and construction workers. They all have a heart of compassion and a desire to share what they have received in Jesus. Most of them have expressed the desire to let this be the first of many trips in going to fulfill the Biblical mandate. Numerous others have said they want to go next year.

Their joy, zeal and excitement to do God’s work is so rewarding and heartwarming. I know this experience will change their lives and help them grow spiritually. We covet your prayers, thoughts and encouragement. Their hard work and dedication will reap not only benefits to the Tanzanians for now but most importantly for eternity.

We are going to Tanzania, from America, because we want to be like Jesus. Jesus left his home, the comfort of the Father to go. (Philippians 2:5-11) He left the comfort of heaven to be among the people. So we are going, going to live among the people, learn from them, eat what they eat, observe what they observe. We are going to glorify our Father in heaven.

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Garry L. Hill

Director: Chimala Bible Institute

You Are Radiant

 

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I am radiant. I am beautiful. I am wonderfully made.

My entire life I have been taught by my mom that in order to believe in God all I needed to do was open my eyes. By looking at the sunsets and stars I could see God’s existence. By feeling the wind and rain I could feel His power. By helping other people I could share His love. His fingerprints are everywhere. They are in the shape of the clouds and in the size of the mountains and in the faces of everyone around me. Every little thing is a beautiful miracle created by God to show me that He would always be there. This world and its people are beautiful because God made it that way.

I am going to Tanzania, Africa in one month. My sisters and I will be teaching the high school girls on the mission in the afternoon. Our theme for the classes with these girls is beauty. The only problem is that the world has the incorrect translation of the word “beauty.” To be beautiful in this world you have to be physically beautiful. Your outward appearance is what people notice first about you. Those who do not have the best features are thought of as “ugly.” Who are we to think that we have any right to call someone beautiful or ugly based off of his or her outward appearance?

In 1 Samuel 16:17 the Lord says to Samuel “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man look at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We are a shallow world. We look for beauty in all the wrong places.

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God tells us we are made in his image. Nothing ever made in God’s image could be ugly so why do we think of others or ourselves as not being beautiful? Because we have been looking at the picture wrong. We are like the Jews who thought Jesus was coming with an earthly kingdom. We are foolish and naïve. God would not create a beautiful world and fill it with ugly people. We are His people. He will care for us, protect us, watch over us, and save us. We are beautiful through knowing Him.

In Psalms 34:5, David calls those who look to the Lord radiant.
I am radiant. You are radiant. WE are radiant.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”
I am beautiful. You are beautiful. WE are beautiful.

David sings to the Lord in Psalms 139:14, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
I am wonderfully made. You are wonderfully made. WE are wonderfully made.

I am going to Tanzania, Africa in one month to share the beauty that God has given to everyone.
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

You are radiant. You are beautiful. You are wonderfully made.

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-Samantha Edwards

Radical Christianity

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source:http://girlmeetsdream.tumblr.com/post/30320076005

I have an obsession with the book of James. Maybe I am way off base but I feel like James and I are kindred statements. Possibly because he makes giant, soul searching statements that shake you to your core. He isn’t someone to read if you want to be a “comfortable” Christian. If you want to examine yourself, strip away what you think Christ wants from you, and then fill yourself with a fervent passion to change all aspects of yourself, to be a true radical Christian… read James.

He makes statements about suffering being a blessing.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

That is how he starts out his letter. Yes, that is only the beginning. Who starts out a letter with saying to consider suffering and trials a blessing? James, that is who. He is radical.

We think of being radical in a negative way. I don’t mean it that way at all. Merriam-Webster defines radical in this way:

very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary

: very basic and important

: having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

James was different from what is tradition and ordinary. He was a Christian, and Christianity is of the upmost importance.

James warns us against the sin of partiality in James 2. He then goes on to tell us how faith, without works, is dead. They go hand in hand folks, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” James 2:18-20

This should be an eye opener for us. James is being radical again. He is telling us we can’t simply believe and be saved. We also can’t “work our way to heaven”. We have to show our faith BY our works. We have to be true Christians who not only mean what they say, but do what they say. We can’t preach and not act out what we preach.

In chapter 3 he tells us how dangerous our words are. He compares our tongue to a fire, a small light that in any given moment of carelessness can set a forest ablaze. James tells us to bridle our tongue for it is a small member of our body, yet it “boasts of great things”. Chapter 3 is where I struggle daily, but James, by the inspiration of God, has called ME and YOU to be radical. So I am working on taming my tongue.

Chapters 4 and 5 are where I fall in love with James. It is where he tells us that making friends with the world makes us enemies with God. Whoa. Radical? Right. But for James that is mild. Here is where he gets really radical, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.” What? Okay, so as Christians we get the whole no pre-marital sex, no drunkenness, no stealing or lying, we can’t murder or commit adultery, but James is taking this a step further. James through the inspiration of God is telling us that we are not even to SPEAK evil against our brethren.

Chapter 5 is a real doozie from this radical Christian. James begins with a warning to the rich. He basically tells us that storing up for ourselves here on earth is not going to get us to heaven. In fact, it will do the opposite. Storing up for ourselves here leaves us with nothing but moth-eaten materials and a selfish heart. The selfish won’t be inheriting the kingdom of God.

So, why am I bringing up the book of James in this blog? As I look toward our mission trip next month to Tanzania, Africa I am seeing how much I need to change my life. I want to become more radical, like James, but with the heart of David. I have skipped a couple of verses from James that I want to bring up now. These verses don’t just apply to our upcoming mission trip but to the mission field right outside our own door. Let’s change the world, brothers and sisters, let’s become radical Christians.

“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 1:27

I am going to be radical here, so listen up. I do not care how many times you sit your fanny in a pew. I do not care if you believe in God. If we are not out taking care of the orphaned and the widows, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and living the words that we preach… then that fanny in that church pew isn’t going to get you to heaven, and neither is your belief. We have to get out into the world, whether it be at school, work, or Africa and BE Christ to this dying world.

How are we going to do that? James has already told us. We need to count our trials as blessings. They are shaping us for our battle against the dark forces, so that we can overcome the evil one. These trials are pushing us one step closer to our goal of eternity in heaven. Rejoice!

We need to start taming our tongue. Out of the same mouth we bless God, we curse our brethren. This has to stop. Instead, let’s fill our mouths with God’s word, with praises, and with blessings. Let’s be a joy and light to others.

Here is a hard one, here is where we really have to be radical. Stop trying to be rich. Stop working your life away for earthly gain. God will provide the necessities, food, shelter, clothing. Everything else we don’t need! Instead let’s use what we have stored up and help those around us. Let’s feed and clothe the world, let’s house and love the orphans, let us give until it hurts!

God has called us to be radical. To set our eyes on things above and never look back. How are you going to do that? Tanzania has changed me and I have not even been there yet. Read the book of James and be transformed.

I will leave you with these last words of James. Here is how James ends his radical book:

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20

How many sinners are you willing to save from death? Let’s start today.

-Anna Maynard