There is an incredible family I want to tell you about. They have 7 children, and three of them are special needs kids. Their youngest, little Joshua, is only 3. Joshua was born with Spina Bifida in addition to other issues, and in his short life, he has had 19 surgeries (including 3 brain surgeries). At this moment, Joshua is again in the hospital.
God has called this family to adopt Vivienne and Laura from our Amy Joy's orphange. Both have Down Syndrome, and Vivienne has a heart defect. At this time, the family does not have the $30,000.00 that will be required to make this adoption a reality, but they are certain God is going to provide. They know they have been called to save Vivienne and Laura and have answered "Yes".
Many might sit back and judge this family.....many might think they have enough on their plate and shouldn't take on any more. I wonder what God thinks?
I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a "Works" Christian. I'm not. Without Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, we would not have a chance for eternal life. His death and resurrection were absolutely necessary and key to our salvation. However, I do not believe words in a prayer have ever saved a single person. Even in a death bed conversion, more than words from a prayer take place for salvation......the person literally changes. That change is part of the salvation. And that change gives birth to action.
The church (in general) periodically reports statistics including conversions, baptisms, new membership, attendance, etc. Unfortunately, churches are too often measured by the numbers that are contained in the reports. I wonder, if in the history of the church, there has ever been temptation for church leaders to make the salvation message "easy" and "welcoming" in an effort to ensure higher stats that would denote a "successful fellowship"? Competition is good in most cases, but it can corrupt.
In my own experience, I was taught to believe it heresy to think any more is required of a believer than simple "faith" and "belief". Let's consider this for a moment:
Scripture says: Demons believe and tremble......demons "believe", but they aren't saved. (James 2:19)
Scripture says: Many will prophesy in His name (obviously believers) and even perform miracles, but the Father will say to them: "Depart from me....I never knew you" (Matthew 7:22-23) ---that passage insinuates people will be shocked on that day to learn they were never really saved.
So, could there be more than just "belief" that is required? Each of the twelve following passages repeat the same theme: "Follow Me":
Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17; Matt. 19:21; Luke 18:22; Mark 10:21; Mark 8:34; Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23; John 21:22; Luke 9:59; John 1:43; Luke 14:27
In addition, when God rescued the Hebrew people (Israel) from slavery in Egypt (sin), He asked that they "Follow Him"........a recurring request. Following is an action....a verb, defined as "to go after" or "to pursue".
When a person joins anything, there is a requirement that goes along with the commitment. When I married Chappy, certain expectations were put in place for our future----certain actions were required. When I worked for SunTrust Bank, certain actions were expected and required of me. As a mom, certain actions are expected and required of me all day long. "Works".
When salvation is sold, it is often described as something that has no requirement other than a simple prayer and belief. I find it odd that the most important partnership we will ever form in our lives, a commitment to turn from our own ways and accept the One and Only God of the Universe, comes with no requirements/expectations. In fact, if a believer even hints the Bible suggests we are to ACT on our belief through our works, that believer is often chastised and told they are suggesting the blood of Jesus is not sufficient enough. That is an unfair criticism, because the foundation of our salvation is the blood sacrifice of Jesus.....without the foundation, there is no salvation.
The blood has always been necessary. Keep in mind, the blood of the sacrificial lamb was even necessary in the wilderness where the Israelites wandered for 40 years after their deliverance from Egypt, but following God was also required....He was fire by night and a cloud by day.....when He moved, the millions were expected to pack up without question (or delay) and move. Scripture says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.....so while we are to accept the gift of His blood sacrifice on our behalf, we are still to follow, to be ready to pick up and move to act at His command without delay.
To sum up, a prayer of salvation does not equal a ticket to heaven anymore than a wedding vow equals a ticket to marital bliss. Both require work. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:20) Scripture teaches we are justified by our faith. My wedding band signifies (justifies) my marriage to Chappy. When men look at me, they don't see a "woman", they see a "woman who belongs to a man". In the same way, we are clothed in our faith which justifies us before God. God doesn't see Melanie when He looks at me.....He sees one who belongs to Jesus. Without faith in God and in the saving work of Jesus, we wouldn't be moved to act; there would be nothing to act on.
I know I will lose some followers on this post. It is funny, but every time I write anything controversial, I lose 4 or 5 people. (In case you're curious, right now there are 169 followers). Please hear me repeat that I am not suggesting I have God figured out; the truth is, I find the more I learn about Him, the more I am overwhelmed by how amazingly enormous and complex He is.....and how incredibly ignorant I am. I do plead quilty, however, in seeking Him with all of my heart. Much of what I write in this blog is to chronicle my search to know Him more. In addition, also know that I realize the danger of becoming a "Works" believer......the danger being we begin to depend on ourselves and what we can do to earn salvation instead of on God. THAT is not what I am promoting. I just think we should look different, and too often, we don't. In my mind, Christians should be living so "out of the box" they stand out to others.....we shouldn't have to tell anyone we are a "Christian", because our actions should be so contrary to the world they see it in our daily lives. That is what I am "selling" and pursuing for myself, not for selfish gain, but out of reckless love for my Savior. Passion. Pursuit.
Why this heavy discussion? Oh my, our February babies have caused this discussion. I want you to be moved to ACT!!! This is a worthy cause for an incredible family. Question: What in the world would cause a mom and dad with seven children (3 of whom are special needs kids) to reach out and choose to adopt two more children who happen to live in a rundown orphanage on the other side of the world and have Down Syndrome when they do not have the $30,000.00 required to do it? You know the answer and so do I. Jesus said: "Come on, Follow Me", and they answered: "This seems crazy, but OK." God asked: "Did you know it excites Me when you care for widows and orphans in distress?", and they answered: "We can do that."
On the family's blog (http://www.kateslwsnk.blogspot.com/), you will find this quote:
"Be the kind of person that, when your feet hit the floor each morning, the devil says: "Oh, crap, they're up!" Just from the little I have told you about this family, don't you know they stomp on the devil's nerves all day every day?
Our February babies are Vivienne and Laura from orphanage 16!!! In a nutshell, this precious family needs $25,000.00 to complete their adoption. I hope you will join me in giving to these babies and making it a priority to pray for this family during the month. To make your donation, go to http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and click on "Donate as a Gift" . You may use paypal to make your donation or mail a check----remember to signify your gift is going to Vivienne and Laura from orphanage 16. You may also go to the family's blog (see address above) and click on the blog paypal button to donate.
"Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, drive out demons and perform miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers". Matt 7:22-23
"You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way." Matt 7:13