Get Real…Faith

Have you ever told someone or have someone tell you  to “get real” (or at least seen it in a movie)?  For some reason they think the other person is not being real or genuine…that maybe they are faking a response or action.  Or perhaps they are thinking that the other person is just old school or weird or something.  Well, whatever the case, the comment is made and it poses an immediate challenge one must ask themself:  “Am I being real?”

Someone who is real is genuine…they don’t put up a fake front, they don’t hide their faults (they don’t necessarily tell the world either, but at least they’ll readily admit it), and most importantly, they live out what they truly believe.  As Christians, I think we need to constantly “get real” with ourselves.  Are we truly living what we believe?  Are we living out our faith or does how we live our lives show that our faith is somewhere else?  Honestly, this is a question I ask myself frequently and on many occasions, don’t end up on the positive side of the answer.  I believe God is control…that He is trustworthy, faithful, and that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28), but yet I worry.  So am I being real in my faith and trusting in God, or am I trusting in myself?  I have an emotionally exhausting day and all I want to do is come home, find rest by watching TV, a movie or by playing the Wii…but am I living out my faith by going to Jesus who promises to give me rest (Mt 11:28)?  What about tithing, helping others, praying, devotions, relationships, etc.?   Am I living out my faith in God’s provision, His Spirit working in me, His daily sustenance or am I living out my faith in someone else – like myself?  I mention the above struggles not to get down on myself or to seek advice, but to take a brief, yet honest assessment of my faith in everyday action and would challenge you to do the same.  I’m afraid that I am not alone in believing one thing, but often living another…Can you relate?

You are what you eat, right?….Well, you live what you truly believe.  This is a scary thought, but at least when we take an honest assessment, we are getting real with ourselves…even if it’s not what we want to see.  Then we know where we will need to align our faith with our actions and can move forward in our faith in Him.

I’ve heard it said that faith is like a muscle,  the more you exercise it, the more it strengthens…the more you do not exercise it, the more it atrophies.   James says that if we have faith (that is, believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, etc.) but do not have actions that follow our faith, then our faith is meaningless…it’s dead (Jam 2:14-26).  Since we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8), we should prayerfully and fervently ask ourselves if our everyday actions follow our faith in God, or in ourselves (do it my way), others (spouse, boss), or other things (TV, alcohol, etc.).  So let’s do that. Let’s get real with ourselves and let’s get real with our faith.  And if you need help, send me an e-mail at fjacoby@foundchristcounsel.org.  Blessings!

Gameshows and Faith: Minute to Win It

There isn’t a whole lot on TV that you can watch as a family (especially with elementary age kids).  Most programs are either too childish for the adults, or too adult for the children (although, I must admit, Word Girl is pretty awesome).  So what can a family watch together that has entertainment, fun, and just tugs on the emotions?  Game shows!  This past summer my family enjoyed sitting and watching two gameshows in particular: Minute To Win It & WipeOut.   Of the two that we watched, Minute To Win It was our favorite. 

The object of Minute To Win It is for the contestants to win money by completing assigned tasks…and of course, they have a minute to win it (the task and the money).  If they complete the assigned task, they move up to the next level (the next task) and start the process over again, but with more money at stake…all the way to a million dollars.  Throughout their quest for a million, they are allowed to mess up three times and like baseball, at the third strike, their out.

So what does Minute To Win It have to do with faith?  Well, nothing really. It’s just fun.  Though in thinking a bit deeper (which is what we counselors do), I couldn’t help but notice how Minute To Win It (like all gameshows) is a works-based mentality, at best.  If you complete the task at hand to the level or expectation that has been set, then you receive the prize.  If not, you have failed and either have to start the level over for another chance, or leave the game with what you have earned / won.  Since you only get three chances, there is little room for error. 

Can you imagine if that was the same system that God set for us?  “OK, Fred.  You have three chances to get your life perfectly, at the expectation I have set.  If you fail in the first three tries, then you have to leave this life and go to Hades.”  It wouldn’t take long for me to flunk out of life.  If God measured us based on our ability to fulfill his expectations of righteousness by works, then we wouldn’t have a chance.  Isaiah said that even our best works are like “filthy rags” (equivalent to a used tampon – yucky thought, I know – but that’s what that means!) (64:6). 

Praise God that he does not measure us by our works, but by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus performed every expectation of righteousness set by God through the law, took our punishment for us on the cross (because we couldn’t meet the standard), and rose again on the third day, thus defeating death.  Therefore, by accepting Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are, by faith, believing that Jesus met the standard of perfection for us, that He paid the penalty for us (not meeting the standard of perfection), and overcame death (our punishment) for us.  He did all of this for us…and all we have to do is believe.  By our faith (which was given to us by Jesus – Heb 12:2) in Christ, we win!  By our works, we lose.  We will never be good enough to meet the standards of righteousness.

Some of those challenges in Minute to Win It seem pretty tough.  I’m not sure if I’d get that Million Dollar Challenge if I had a lifetime of trying.  But thank God that Jesus met every challenge given.  He had won the Million Dollar Challenge.  He had met every expectation of righteousness…and He had done it out of love for you and for me.  Now the choice is yours.   Will you stop trying to earn his favor by good works?  Will you accept what He has done for you by faith?  If you haven’t done so, do so today without delay…you will not regret it!