Echoes in Eternity

Russell Crowe Workout routine and Diet plan1Gladiator is one of my favorite movies. It’s a classic- Russell Crowe in all his ancient-Roman glory, taking on the evil Emperor in an ill-fated, yet heroic attempt to restore Rome to a Republic. There is one scene at the beginning, before he starts on his epic misadventure, which has always stuck with me. Right before he leads his troops into battle, he motivates them with this statement:

“What we do in life echoes in eternity”

What we do in this life, what we say and think and feel, how we treat others, what we value- all of these have echoes that will go beyond this world into eternity.

In light of the recent turmoil our world has seen, it is important to do a bit of self-examination towards our attitudes, opinions, and how we have let social media become an outlet for those without putting them through a needed thoughtful contemplation.

I do not want to get into a political discussion or a legal analysis on the threat of radical Islam or whether or not America has the resources to take care of refugees, and especially not how GOP candidates are responding to the refugee crisis. All this is subterfuge and distracts from the root problem of the various responses to recent world events- that we are fear the unknown.

I also don’t pretend to be an expert in theology or social behavior- these are just my observations and what I believe my reaction should be as a Christ-follower.

1) Engaging in petty internet debates never truly solves anything except to keep the makers of high blood pressure drugs in business. It’s incredible the callousness and mean-spiritedness that comes to the surface from behind the safety of a computer screen. An argument online incites anger, hostility, and divides people from coming to reasonable solutions.

I can still remember my mom saying Proverbs 15:1 to us kids after many hurtful fights, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

People in general, but ESPECIALLY Christians, need to keep this in mind. The church must remember we are one body and the body never accomplishes anything if it is constantly tearing itself apart.

2) Jesus loved people. He cared for them, healed them, taught them, and showed them unconditional love. He did this for the Jew, the Gentile, the slave, the free man, for women and children, and people of different religions. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

This does not mean compromise your beliefs, become tolerant of sin, or throw out common sense. After all, Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mat. 10:16) and told the woman condemned of adultery to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). But He also forgave her and showed her the merciful love of God.

His love is unconditional. So should ours be.

No matter where people come from, what their beliefs are, or what they have done in the past, they are made in the image of God. His heart breaks for the broken and lost. So should our hearts be broken for those who are suffering.

We don’t need to judge harshly those with different beliefs or backgrounds or circumstances because we aren’t qualified to do so. Only God is the final judge and jury. We need to show them the love of God.

3) Finally, as a Christian, I need to get active and DO SOMETHING! I love the Matthew West song that says just that:

“I’m so tired of talking about

do_something_hd_wallpaper_by_vtahlick-d5szsroHow we are God’s hands and feet

But it’s easier to say than to be

Live like angels of apathy

Who tell ourselves it’s alright,

Somebody else will do something.”

God created us to be His hands and feet on this earth. To bring in His harvest. To be fishers of men. To go and make disciples of all nations. To care for the widow and the orphan.

To Pray.

Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-18 to put on the full armor of God, “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Personally, I am very limited in what I can do right now. I’m still in school. I’m in thousands of dollars of debt to pay for said schooling. I have no great evangelism skills. I can’t provide a home for the homeless, food for the hungry, or safety for the refugees.

But I can pray.pray-without-ceasing

“Rejoice always, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

There is supernatural power when we call upon the name of Jesus in prayer.

So Pray- pray for those lost in Paris, pray for the refugees, pray for the families of close to 1,000 Nigerians who have been murdered by Boko Haram since May. Pray for those hurting around the world because human suffering is not unique to only one country or people group.

Writing this now, my heart is full and tears are burning in my eyes when I contemplate all the heartache, tragedy, and senseless violence that is so commonplace in our world today. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I can sit here in my apartment, safe and warm with a Christmas candle burning watching the snow fall outside, when across an ocean, a family is wondering whether they will live to see the next dawn or that a mother is pushing aside hunger pangs because she is giving what little food she has to her children. It’s not fair that people who went out last Friday night never came home because of a calculated and brutal terrorist attack.  Life is not fair.

But what we do with the unfairness that life hands us echoes in eternity.

How we respond to tragedy and how we treat our fellow human beings will have eternal consequences.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Truly I say to you, as you did it for one of the least of these, you did it to me.

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You want your life to make echoes throughout eternity?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second [commandment] is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Think before you speak. Love our fellow man. Take an active role in the Great Commission, with prayer being your #1 go-to option for whatever you face in life.

Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself.

What we do in life echoes in eternity.

The road goes ever on,

Annamarie

P.S. Here’s the link to a blog I read earlier this week. It’s a thought-provoking article about the situation with the Syrian refugee crisis.

http://blog.rinamarie.com/2015/11/17/holocaust-2015/

Living a Sold-Out Life (Part 3)

Part 3: Be an Olympic Torch amidst the Candles

Honestly, this last part of Living a Sold-Out Life has been hard to write. It has made me look hard at how I’m living and my motivations for why I do so. My thoughts may be a bit muddled but bear with me.

Most importantly, remember that my relationship with God is very different from yours. We are different people and your story is not mine so our experiences will vary greatly. However, this does not negate the truth that the Bible is applicable to everyone and that the calling of a Christian is the same- “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)

Keeping this in mind, explore with me this blazing torch business. Living a sold-out life means that we need to share our hope of salvation!

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So in review, we’ve gone to the ultimate source of true peace and love, we’ve begun to let the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions, but HOW CAN I SHOW PEOPLE MY FAITH?

A few weeks ago when I began this series, I instinctively would have said, “Let my light shine.” My actions and good deeds will be evidence of my faith and all people will simply have to wonder what’s different about me! (sarcasm intended) This is a very “Christianese” response to our dilemma.

To be brutally honest, it solves nothing because there are lots and lots of good and loving people that don’t have a true relationship with God. Lots of little candles. How do I “shine my light brighter?”

Good deeds themselves do not reveal the motivation of the heart.

This is why my “light-shining” good deeds are indistinguishable and only point a blurry and ambiguous line to my faith.

Who’s to say that volunteering at a homeless shelter is because I felt called to help or because I felt guilt over my many blessings or because my school requires it? The result is the same- the homeless shelter has another volunteer.

Well, that’s just frustrating because again…HOW DO I SHOW PEOPLE MY FAITH?

Straight-up Answer: You don’t. God does.

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I, Annamarie Gerick, have no power or ability to change a heart. Only God the Father Almighty can do that. He can use anything in creation to do so, including me. So my job, my responsibility is to be faithful and keep running the path He has set for me; to “finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

What does this look like?

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

When you seek out your source of strength and peace, you become rooted and established in your faith. When you become stronger in your faith, you begin to filter your actions and thoughts. Now, as you see the fingerprints of God in your life and want to share that, simply let “Child of God” be your identity.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), that whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit (1 Corinth. 6:17), and to all who believed and accepted Him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1: 12).

You are no longer a slave to fear; you are a Child of God.

Do not hide what God has done for you. If someone asks you about a situation you’ve been dealing with that God has brought you through, tell them how you drew strength from your Savior! If a friend is discouraged about a relationship, is confused about what to do next in life, or simply tired from life, don’t offer platitudes and pity. Don’t pretend to have an answer or a fix-all solution.

Listen and offer prayer. Then follow through and pray with them right then! The most meaningful witnessing you will ever do is to the people closest to you. They will know you and will see that your identity is rooted in Christ.

You let God be so apart of you as a person that it will infuse your being and God will take care of the heavy-lifting. That my friends, is how you show your faith.

That is living sold-out for Christ.

You find strength in Him. You let the Holy Spirit guide you. You stand firm in your identity as a Child of God.

The road goes ever on,

Annamarie

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P.S. Thanks for sticking with me through all of this! This was a pretty heavy topic for me, but its been an incredible time learning and struggling to get the right words to express what I’ve learned. I’m not perfect at this, but I know the gold standard that I need to keep aiming toward. So take heart! This is why life is a journey- we can’t finish it in a day.  🙂

Keep it real y’all.