Wednesday, January 16, 2008


By Belinda Marshall

I was coaching my 13 year old son this week through the excruciating task of writing a research paper. The topic was the Transfiguration of Christ. It's a familiar story to me, but having never really stopped and meditated on the intricate elements, I had not received those deeply poignant and life changing messages woven within it. I found it interesting that six days before He allowed His veil of humanity to be lifted to show the disciples His divine glory, He had spoken of suffering. After Jesus speaks of His impending death and resurrection, Peter pulls Him aside to rebuke Him. Jesus, in turn, rebukes Peter saying: "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Later, on the mountain, as Jesus appears in His glory with Moses and Elijah by his side, Peter comes up with the great idea of building three shelters. Why? He probably wanted to go ahead and house this promised glory now and avoid the sufferings Jesus had spoken of. Peter just didn't seem to be on board with the whole suffering thing, yet Christ had also said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

I begin to think about Jesus modeling suffering for us and what this means to me. I also begin to question if I, like Peter, want to avoid all of the suffering as well! How do I come after Jesus, deny myself, and take up my cross? Many Christians believe that Christ's call to deny ourselves means that we should not spend time trying to understand what is happening inside us. But this approach requires that we deny many things inside ourselves. A few years ago a deep, insatiable longing for something deeper in my life continued resurfacing until I could no longer ignore it. I tried many things to numb or fill up the longing. I related to people in a way that assured I felt good about myself. I spent a lot of energy insuring that my appearance, my image, and my accomplishments were recognized and valued by others. I had no freedom in relationships to really be able to love others. I was only capable of using them to fend off my insecurities. I certainly never wanted anyone to see my darkest parts of my heart. They may run away and certainly then I would be rejected. So I hid. But something inside me kept screaming. That something was God calling me to something more. He was calling me to "Life." He was revealing to me true intimacy and true purpose, not the counterfeit life I had created for myself. As I examined my current life, I began to see the effects - the harm done to me by living in a fallen world, a world full of sinful people. My parents had not loved me perfectly. My friends had not loved me perfectly. In fact, nobody on this whole planet had loved me unconditionally or completely and it had wounded me. I, in response, also being a sinful being, had learned some subtle and some not so subtle relational ways of dealing with this pain. As God made me aware of these wounds and the ways in which I had responded, He lovingly began to heal and restore these places in my heart. He took me by the hand, guided me into some painful memories, and then began mending. My willingness to do the self-examination was the beginning of the suffering. As the denied realities were exposed and healed, I then had to make a choice to surrender and let go of the old protective ways of relating. This was the next part in the process of suffering. I had a choice whether to choose independence (relying on my own resources for life), or dependence (relying on God to fulfill my desires). This is a choice that I still have to make every day of my life.

Mike Mason expresses the process beautifully:

"When the self knows that it is already accepted, unconditionally, there is no need anymore for it to preoccupy itself with advancing its own claims or with trying to create the conditions that might make it worthy of being loved. As long as the self is consumed in the struggle to make itself lovely, it cannot love. First it must come to the end of its own resources, for the power to love derives purely and solely from the knowledge that one is already loved in return. The energy for love flows not out of any effort, but simply from being loved."

This was the unconditional love I longed for. As I receive this love from God more and more, I realize that I don't have to hide those dark places in my heart anymore. Instead, I rejoice in the fact that I must depend on God for my strength. I can't love others with my own resources! If I could, I wouldn't need the cross!

Andreas Ebert writes:

"God saves humanity not by punishing it but by restoring it! We overcome evil not by a frontal and heroic attack, but by a humble letting go that always feels first like losing. Christianity is probably the only religion in the world that teaches us, from the very cross, how to win by losing."

So, how do I define God-exalting? It's following the example Christ set before us. The Transfiguration was an encouragement and a glimpse of Christ's glory. The cross was the fulfillment of God's purpose for his life...this was His true glory. Our glory is the image of God that we reflect, so as we suffer for the purpose of loving others...dying to self for the sake of others, this is God-exalting. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the sake of the gospel will save it." - Mark 8:34-36

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By Julie Duhrkopf

My time in college has been a true time to wrestle with my beliefs and to better figure out where I, not my family, stand on certain values. One of the values I have struggled with these last four years is the idea of living a Truth-centered life. Growing up I viewed the Word of God as a beautiful love letter that could provide joy and comfort to me in times of frustration or sorrow. The Truth was an important part of my life, but for the wrong reasons; I did not use it to better understand my Lord, but to better my life. My time in college has truly opened my eyes about the Word of God. It is not a book to make me happy and to serve me, but a book that I can use to better understand my God and how to better serve Him. It’s not about me, it’s about Him. Yes, God loves me and can use His Word to comfort me, or challenge me, or convict me, but it’s ultimately about learning about God and how I can better reflect Him, serve Him, and bring glory to His name. A self-centered view of the Truth fails to exalt Him. If my greatest desire is to glorify God, than a Truth-centered view and value is essential.

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By Jenifer Wueste

When I read the Gospel accounts of Jesus and His disciples I am often comforted and encouraged. Not only by the truth and life-giving teachings of Jesus, but also by the lives of the disciples. I see raw, honest, real-life in those twelve men. Many times they were confused by what Jesus was saying and doing, or why he was doing it. I can relate to that! Jesus did not choose his twelve disciples because they “had it all together” or “knew it all.” They were not the smartest, most savvy, or most experienced. Jesus chose them because of their faith. He simply said to each of them, “Follow me.” That was the only condition. Not: study this, know these concepts, or get that part of your life together first. Just, “Follow me.” That is the only thing Jesus asks of me today, to simply follow Him. In the midst of my pain, brokenness, failure, immaturity, and all - follow Him.

Being grace-filled means that I receive the unconditional acceptance that Jesus extends to me, confident that He loves me just as I am, right where I am. He speaks to me in that place and says, “Follow me.” When I receive that unconditional grace from Jesus I am able to extend that same unconditional grace to others. Not making demands or placing conditions on my love and acceptance of others – with no regard to their age, gender, financial status, personality, or choices. Because I have received grace, I can choose to freely give it to others, just as Jesus does. I am comforted that, although I don’t always deserve it, Jesus continues to give grace, and keeps saying to me, “Follow Me.”

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By Latonya Jordan

I had the privilege recently of watching my children play during recess at school. I watched many children who were playing with other kids, some playing make-believe, some playing soccer, and other children who were all alone. At many points in my life, I was just like each of those children.

Relationships are especially important to me. I have come to realize that I need them even more than when I was younger and had the support of my family.

Over the last 8 years, my approach to relationships has changed. I am purposeful about with whom and how I spend my time. After moving to Fort Worth 15 years ago, I developed friendships easily at work and at church. When I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom, I realized I had no friends who were contemporaries. I started attending a weekly Bible study and joined a mom’s group for the sole purpose of developing relationships with like-minded women who loved the Lord and wanted to be comforted, inspired, and understood.

My approach to relationships is changing again. A friend of my husband recently told him that he felt there were so many Christians out there who are “a mile wide but only and inch deep.” I now feel the need for deeper relationships, those which contain a greater depth, acceptance, and Christ-like love.

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By Kasey Roach

"Carrying a heavy load? Try helping someone else carry theirs." This phrase is harder than it sounds. For some of us, one more thing is too much. Being submissive and obedient to God’s greatest commandment seems overwhelming. However, God wants us to experience the result of serving. Being servant-minded is where the abundant life lies.

My father died when I was 18. I have struggled for years to understand what good could come from his death. But I have found that by sharing my experience with death, God has equipped me to serve other kids who are grieving the loss of a parent. When I am "serving" these kids, I feel JOYFUL!! They are healing me!!

Ultimately, by being servant-minded, we imitate Christ’s humility to others. By doing so, the reward of true, intense, and manifested Joy in your life far outweighs the burden of doing one more thing.

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By Katie VanEss

We are instructed by Christ to be “missionally-driven,” but what does that mean? Being missional is the adjective form of being a missionary. It is following Christ’s example, making His name known to those around us. How can we live our lives as missionaries for Christ, sharing the love of Christ everyday? We can start by putting aside our pride and our excuses, allowing the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and develop a desire to serve all of His people. Being missional involves touching people’s lives, taking the time to meet people where they are, listening to their story, and loving them. We are invited to leave our comfort zones, extending a loving hand to all we encounter, both strangers and friends. Being missional for Christ can be the most gratifying and exhausting part of our faith journey. We don’t need to travel great distances to change lives for Christ, we can begin with those around us. Trinity Chapel provides opportunities to share the love of Christ both globally and locally. A missional lifestyle is one of humility and love. Ask God to work in your life today, as you seek to become missionally-driven.

“As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

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