Saturday, June 15, 2013

Forget the Checklist

Awhile back a good friend of mine asked me why Patrick and I would want to move to the other side of the world to do missions.  This is a question we need to think about and be able to articulate, so I appreciated my friend asking.  After all, if we can't answer the question of "why" then we probably shouldn't be going in the first place.

My friend aptly pointed out that the people living in our country of interest already have a religion, so why would we want to introduce something different?  Let me be clear that missions has nothing to do with us wanting to go overseas to proclaim that we're right and they're all wrong.  This is about loving people enough to want to share the truth with them.  Yes, the world is filled with religions that are all striving for the Truth and seeking a way to get to God.  But that's just it: all religions are focused on what we do that makes us worthy of God.  Religions are works-driven, and while many people find some sense of fulfillment in doing things to please God, God is not interested in a checklist.  We can't pray, fast, do enough good works, or even love enough to make us worthy of God's grace. We simply can't earn a right standing before God.  It just isn't possible.  I know that sounds depressing, but keep reading.

On the other hand, following Jesus is entirely about what God has done for us and the fact that everything God requires of us (basically perfection) has been accomplished by Jesus.  When we recognize that we can't earn God's love and finally submit our lives to Christ, all his righteousness is transferred to us.  This is the beauty of grace.  We have a right standing before God not because of anything we do but what God did for us out of love.  Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  People who sin (which is everyone including you and me by the way) don't deserve God's love, nor could we ever in a thousand lifetimes do enough good things to earn it.  God's grace is simply that: grace -- something we don't deserve but are given freely anyway because God loves us.

So we want to do missions because there are millions of people around the world who have never heard the Truth of God's grace.  They are constantly toiling under religious systems that demand the impossible, and they are daily crushed under the reality that they can't earn their way to God.  What we want to do is simply point them to the awesome truth of God's grace.  We want to see people set free from the oppression of religion and help them begin a real relationship with God.  The way I see it, that's not a bad thing to commit our lives to!

Friday, June 14, 2013

And Then There Were Three

Yep, that's right, I'm pregnant!  Patrick and I are so excited about becoming parents, and I'll be honest it's kind of surreal to think about how much our lives are about to change.  Baby Steward will make his/her appearance around December 21, so that gives us a few more months to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, and in late July we will find out if it's a boy or girl.  So far everything has been going really well, and I've had two ultrasounds and we've heard the baby's heartbeat.  So far so good!

The more I think about it the more I realize that nothing I do could ever fully prepare me to be a mom, yet somehow I know that bringing children into the world is one of the purposes God has given me in life.  Stepping into this new season of life is going to stretch us and challenge us more than anything else we've done, but I know that God will walk with us each step of the way.  I'm reminded daily that the Lord never gives us more than we can handle without his strength to support us.

Above all else I want to raise godly children who will love Jesus more than anything else in the world and will have a strong desire to praise and glorify him!  To that end please pray for us and our growing family!  I know that there are many challenges that lay ahead, but I am so excited for this journey we're about to embark on, and I know that our lives will never be the same!