My Life for Yours

(I thought I might share this devotion again. I wrote it a few years ago.)

John 12:24-26

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

In our scripture Jesus is teaching his disciples that he is going to die, but that he must if they would live. A kernel of wheat must die if it would produce many seeds.

Why hasn’t reformation and revival broken out across the church at Southside…or any other church around us lately? There are perhaps many reasons, but could one reason be that we are holding on too preciously and tightly to our own lives – unwilling to die – so that we might reproduce many seeds through our deaths? Do we love our lives too much in this world, so much so, that we are actually losing our lives?

My life for yours. Genuine, substitutionary, and sacrificial living. Following and serving our King wherever he may lead…to whatever end. This brings honor from the Father. This glorifies the Father.

My life for yours. Training and nurturing our children in the Lord – when we rise, when we go to bed, as we live throughout the day, when it’s convenient, when it’s inconvenient – making sure that our children are not merely “taught at” but saturated in the things of God each day, all day – because they are eternal beings and heirs of the King. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Are we leaving a godly legacy to and for our children and our children’s children for a thousand generations? Are we dying so they can live – really live? Can we think outside our individual lives to see how our own deaths will extend the Kingdom of God by producing many seeds? Will we believe the promises of God that he has made regarding faithful, covenantal parenting? My life for yours and for a thousand generations after you. Talk about a payoff!

But this is hard. That’s why it’s called death. Death to self. It is intentional, committed, disciplined. It’s every day, all day. It’s the discipling of our children because it is our joy, blessing, and responsibility before God to do so. Our lives for theirs. The Kingdom of God grows in such ways. Darkness is engulfed by light through such ways. Reformation and revival are ushered in through such faith and obedience. God promises blessings to such as these.

We must die. We must do with less stuff if it means more time with our families. We must wrestle with our children at the end of the day…even when we are tired. We must discipline our children, even when we would rather not. We must cast a God-glorifying vision before our children (and reiterate it every day) of who they could be for Jesus. We have to read great stories to our children (even when we’d rather doze off) so that their imaginations can ignite as they put themselves in the places of the characters in the stories. We have to read to them about the heroes of the faith who have gone before us, so that they might see how others have given themselves for Christ and his Kingdom. We absolutely must teach our children who our God is – his person, plan, power, purpose and so on. We must drive home again and again what the gospel is and is not (after all, we’re not trying to merely make better citizens or “behaviorally correct” robots). We must teach them grace and show them grace. They must learn what it means to know, love, and follow Christ. They have to understand that our faith is a total world and life view that addresses every sphere of life.

We are called to create Christian cultures in our homes though the power of God’s Word and Spirit, that those cultures might spill out into every other sphere of life. This is first and foremost our (the parents’) responsibility, not others…not even the church. Our lives for theirs. We must die so they can live.

Can we let go? Of our wants, things, desires, passions – our very lives? We must if we would find real life – abundant life – eternal life. Life in service to the King is not our own…it’s better. Only in dying are we raised. Only in dying are more seeds produced, and therefore, more fruit. Our lives for theirs.

From our commitment and hard daily labor now, what might God do in response? Might he use one of our children, (or one of our children’s children), to bring many to Christ, to redeem the culture, to usher in reformation and revival in the church, to extend the Kingdom of God as never before? We have every reason to believe he will! But we must die. We must fall to the ground and die. We must hate our lives in this world. We must give our lives for our children’s lives, and for their children after them, that God might be pleased and choose to honor us by blessing those for whom we gave our lives.

My life for yours. Our lives for theirs. This is biblical faith.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

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A Call to Evangelical Pastors

from the good folks of The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church

(In less than a year, United Methodists will elect delegates to General Conference and vote on resolutions to send to General Conference.  Here are seven steps I am urging evangelical pastors to take over the coming months.  The Editor)

  1. Imitate John Wesley by observing A PARTIAL FAST on Fridays, skipping the noon-time meal and using that time to pray for a renewed United Methodist Church.
  2. PREACH AT LEAST ONE SERMON PER MONTH WITH LOST SOULS IN MIND.  They are in every congregation.  Proclaim the core truth of the Gospel:
    A.   All people in their natural condition are lost souls who need salvation.
    B.   The only way to be saved is to repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord.  Then let’s give people an opportunity to respond in faith. 
  3. Let’s make sure that our local congregations GIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO AT LEAST ONE OF THE UNITED METHODIST REFORM GROUPS.
  4. Starting now, let’s be intentional about working a plan to ELECT OUR MOST ABLE EVANGELICALS, LAY AND CLERGY, AS DELEGATES TO THE 2012 GENERAL CONFERENCE. 
  5. When your Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development meets later this year, MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON YOUR CHURCH SENDS TO THE 2011 ANNUAL CONFERENCE IS AN OUTSTANDING EVANGELICAL. 
  6. During the 2010-11 Conference year, REVIEW THE PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM THE COALITION OF UM REFORM GROUPS.  Select at least one to promote in your Conference, asking the Conference next summer to affirm it and forward it to the General Conference of 2012 for consideration and approval. 
  7. On at least an annual basis, TEACH OR PROVIDE A CLASS IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH ON THE ARTICLES OF RELIGION AND THE CONFESSION OF FAITH. Or, preach a series of sermons on the six beliefs that John Wesley called “essentials” or the “main branches” of Christian truth: original sin, the deity of Christ, the atonement, justification by faith alone, the work of the Holy Spirit (including new birth and holiness), and the Trinity. (From “John Wesley’s Theology Today” by Colin Williams)

You can read the whole July/August Confessing Movement newsletter by clicking here.