Why Being a Christian Can Seem Hard Sometimes

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Being a Christ one, is all about a surrendered life, isn’t it? And so there are costs we never even knew of. Sometimes I sense the Lord doing something in me and I can’t even really tell what it is. I’m generally experiencing some kind of discomfort, pain or suffering in a way that I can’t put into words. It’s not necessarily that my external circumstances have changed and by anyone’s account my life appears to be going along swimmingly. But there is an apprehension that something is being pulled at, perhaps pulled out, or prodded, deep within me. Perhaps it’s another death of some kind, more learning to let go of my own soul-life on a deeper or further level.

However, I’m learning that during these times I can remain confident and assured that He is right beside me and is in fact leading me in it all because it’s as though I can hear the craftsman busy at work. Chiselling, bang- bang! with the hammer. I can just imagine Him there covered in dust from the stone He is carving into, sawdust from the timber He is sanding. I can even imagine power tools grinding away at times and all the while not knowing what He’s up to. But He is working away diligently without telling me anything.

He might be breaking things apart in order to change the shape or chiselling away at a better design. He might be hammering in nails to connect pieces to other pieces. He might be sawing off sections that need to be discarded. He might be sanding and polishing. Whatever He’s up to, He’s working to a plan. And that plan is ‘Him’. HE is the plan. God the Father, by His Spirit, through the life of His Son in us, is always conforming us more and more into the likeness of His Son Jesus, the Christ.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29)

He has one goal in mind and that is to see His Son gloriously expressed as head over all things.

And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

God has already achieved this outside of time, since He is not subject to time and dates, though we may not yet see it manifested with our earthly sight. This is why the scripture above says “when the times will have reached their fulfilment”. This is also why we must live by faith and not by sight.  We remember the words Jesus spoke on the cross when He breathed His final breath, “It is finished”. How has God done this already? What did Jesus mean when He said “It is finished”?

…by setting aside in his (Christ’s) flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two (Jews & Gentiles) thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross… (Ephesians 2:15)

God has created this one body, this new humanity, this one new man in His Son, through Jesus’ death on the cross. There Christ conquered the power of sin and death thereby making the way open for all who believe in Him as God’s Son, to be reconciled with God the Father. This new humanity is the body of believers, i.e. the church – whether Jews or  Gentiles i.e. Greek, Chinese, Australian, Italian, Lebanese, African etc, male or female.  This is a new race in which Christ dwells as it’s head.

And in Him you (plural) too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22).

We see and experience with our physical senses a fallen world all around us that is rapidly increasing in darkness. So one could ask just how is Christ manifested as head over all things in the heavens and the earth?

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11).

It is through the church that God displays His manifold wisdom to all powers and dominions, and this has been accomplished in Christ because it’s only in Christ that the church exists.  As members of His Church, His body, this one new man, this new race – we are the bearers of Christ’s image. This is the plan. Christ is God’s plan. And God, through Christ, is having each one of us, each member of this one new man, being conformed more and more into His image so that Christ is expressed for who He is, head over all things.

Now Christ is the head and no head exists without a body just as no body exists without a head. So the head and the body are one. Just as your head and your body are all part of you, so Christ’s head and his body are all part of Him. So He is in fact both the head and the body. So it stands to reason that we, who collectively are also His body, are being conformed into His likeness. 

This means ongoing work inside of us as individuals. Is it any wonder Jesus’ earthly vocation before going into ministry was as a craftsman? Some say He was a carpenter, some say a stone mason, but either way He was a craftsman, a builder. It was a reflection of His spiritual ministry. Jesus created new things while working as a young man for his earthly adopted-father Joseph. In Jesus the Christ, the resurrected son of God, we have been made a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV)

Our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ are all about being conformed into His image. This means being spiritually chiselled, broken, repaired, refined, re-shaped, hammered, sanded and polished so that His church becomes a glorious masterpiece. Not displaying us, but displaying Him!

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10)

Jesus showed us the way of the Christian. He worked as a skilled craftsman. He ministered as a skilled craftsman and He still does. What is He building? He is building a dwelling place in which He and His Father can live and He can express Himself as Head, to the glory of the Father.

Lord, build Your dwelling place. Help us to both corporately and individually, live a surrendered life in the hands of the Great Craftsman, that we the church might be Your masterpiece so that Your manifold wisdom is displayed to all the heavens and all the earth. Amen.

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What You’ve Got To Know About The Christian Life – An Interview By Rocky – Part 2

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Hi everybody (& especially to all dog lovers)! Rocky here & welcome to my second guest blog post where I continue my extraordinary interviewing skills with Donna!

If you missed the first part of this interview you can go to it by clicking on this link here Previous Post. I suggest you check that out before reading on so that this one makes sense.

In this second interview, I continue to discuss with Donna this whole ‘Christian life beyond salvation’ thing we were talking about. Unfortunately, I’d been up to a bit of mischief earlier that morning and subsequently, needed a good wash! So to save time, we conducted this interview whilst I was having a bath…

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Rocky: Well, Donna….(gurgle gurgle) welcome to our continuation of my interview  guest blog post.

Donna: Thanks Rocky, pleasure to be here. (keep still!)

Rocky: So, we finished off last time when I had found that old shmacko under my blanket…

Donna: Well, yes, um, and we were talking about how big Jesus is and how much of Him there is to discover, so much more than just our salvation.

Rocky:  So how did you find out there was more to Jesus than what you’d always known?

Donna: Well, I think we have to return to that word ‘revelation’. Like we’ve said, revelation only comes from the Holy Spirit, it’s not something we can bring about ourselves. Everything in this Christin life is by God, for God and through God. God is always calling us to know Him more. So He introduces circumstances and people in our lives that will lead us to a point where we realise we have a certain lack or a need as far as knowing God is concerned.

I remember reading from Watchman Nee once, how revelation comes when there’s a need. So for example in my life, when I observed my husband’s Christian walk I realised that I didn’t know Jesus in the same way. I realised that my emphasis in my understanding was on God the Father only and that the name ‘Jesus’ was a little awkward for me. It was like when I said His name, I was trying to be comfortable with it, but I wasn’t completely.  So there was my need…..I needed a revelation of Jesus!

Rocky: Ohhh, right. (don’t get soap in my eyes!) So there was the need, and then what happened?

Donna: Well, I suppose the Lord made me more aware of that need over a number of weeks. It became more painful and obvious that I didn’t know Jesus Christ intimately, Himself. So I began to ask God to reveal His Son to me. And then, one morning the Lord gave me a vision of Jesus and with it came this new understanding that EVERYTHING is about Jesus. That was the revelation and it blew all my old paradigms out the window!

Rocky: What sort of paradigms were they?

Donna: A whole bunch of things – the way I looked at prayer, tithing, scripture, worship, ministry, gifts of the Spirit, especially the church, the kingdom of God, God’s purpose, what actually took place through Christ’s death on the cross, and so much more, what it means to live by the Spirit. Some of these aspects of the Christian life were just that – aspects of Christianity, rather than Christ Himself. I had embraced these ‘things’ through faith and through the filters of my religious past but not subjectively by revelation. Not all in my experience had been life to me.

Rocky: Oh, so it sounds like it was ‘stuff’ that you knew, but not actually Jesus?

Donna: Spot on! Jesus is a Person! When God opened my spiritual eyes to see Jesus and to understand there was so much more to Him than I’d ever known, He then put the hunger and desire in me to want to discover this incredible Christ. So yes you’re right Rocky.

Rocky: Tell me more about the hunger and desire to know Jesus more…(can I have a treat when I’m finished with this bath?)

Donna: ( Yes Rocky, only if you don’t shake everywhere!)…Well that’s the thing. I realised I didn’t need or want to know more ‘about‘ Him, I needed to know ‘Him‘ Himself. (I talk more about this in my post Knowing Him).  So, there was the need to know Jesus, and of-course God wants us to know Jesus. God the Father even told Peter and his companions when Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, to listen to Him, Jesus! There was Elijah representing all the old testament prophets and there was Moses representing the law. Now God was saying “Here is my Son, listen to Him”! So He put the need in me to know Him. Then came the revelation and then the desire to see that revelation become a reality in my own life, to become a part of me. Learning that Jesus is everything became a need to experience Him as my everything.

I mean, listen to these verses…

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything (supremacy). 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.…(Colossians 1:17-19)

and…

…but Christ is all, and in all…(Colossians 3:11)

Rocky: I see. You’re saying He’s everything. Sure sounds like it! So can you tell me specifically, apart from salvation, what else is He then?

Donna:  I’ll list a few of His characteristics….that aren’t just things about Him, but who He is…

He is our Teacher, He is Joy, our Peace, He is the Prince of Peace! He is love of-course, He is the air that we breathe, He is creativity, He is light, He is our provision in everything. He is our sustaining strength, He is our Future and our Hope, He is the Resurrection, He is Truth, He is the Gospel, He is our life!

He is our purpose, He is our capacities, He is the song in our heart, He is our fulfilment and satisfaction. He is our portion, He is our completeness, He is Righteousness, Holiness, Perfection.  He is our suffering, He is the narrow path, He is the whole purpose of God, He is the fullness. He fills the universe, He is the exalted and eternal King, He is the food we eat, He is the drink we drink, He is our Rest, He is our best Friend, He is our brother, He is our Lord!

He is the answer to every need, He is bigger than everything else, bigger than any sin, any problem, any threat. His riches are unsearchable, His kingdom is endless, He is mercy, He is grace, He is the River of Life, the Tree of Life, the Good Shepherd, the gate and the Gatekeeper, He is our healer, He is healing itself! He is the joy of the whole earth! He is His Father’s delight!

Shall I keep going?

Rocky: I could be stuck in this bath for hours if you do that! (Can I shake now?) Wow, He sure is more than just salvation and salvation is pretty awesome!

Donna: Oh yes, He is certainly our Saviour! And that’s where it all starts for us. When we come to that point of salvation in our lives, turning from a life lived without Him, to a life lived in surrender to Him as our King and Saviour, we discover just who this Christ is and what He’s done!

When we are saved (become a Christian) this following scripture from Galatians 2:20 becomes our reality ….

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and this life I live in my body, I live by the faith of Jesus Christ…

So we don’t have to live by our own strength, abilities, intellect, wisdom or will. We have been crucified! So now it is Jesus living inside of us instead! All that Christ is, lives in me, lives inside His Church, every member of His body. All that He is! Can you imagine that? Can we even fathom all that He is? God wants us to know all that Christ is, so we can rest from our labours and let Him live instead.

(Yes, you can shake now….arghh!)

Rocky: (Ahhh, that’s better…) So mum, if Jesus is all those things and even more, no wonder God wants people to know Him. (Treat please?)

Donna: Yep, and this is why I do my blog. (Here’s your biscuit…) I am hoping that by sharing the little bit of Christ that He’s helped me come to know, experience and love, other believers will be encouraged to know and experience Him as much more than just their salvation.

Rocky: I see. I think I’m finally getting it mum. If Jesus is all this, I can see how everything is about Him. He wants us to know Him, shows us our need of Him, He reveals Himself to us, He gives us the desire to know Him more, He changes us, He gets more room in our lives, He is expressed because it’s more Him than us and…wow…..He is amazing.

Donna: That’s beautiful Rocky. (Come here little fella, let me give you a snuggle while I dry you off…)

Rocky:  There’s just one thing I don’t understand yet.

Donna: What’s that Rocky?

Rocky: Well, I noticed when you were telling us all these wonderful things that Jesus is, you said He was our suffering and our narrow path? What did you mean by that? 

Donna: That’s a really important part of who Christ is and really the true Christian life cannot be lived without it. Suffering with Christ is key to knowing Him deeply and that subject really deserves a full blog post of its own. I think we might need to leave that for another day Rocky…

Rocky: Well, maybe we better end the interview here for now. Maybe we’ll do another one another time? (I think I’m getting the hang of this interviewing/guest blogging thing). 

Donna: Sounds good Rocky. This has been fun. And your interview skills are surprisingly good for a shoodle (shitzu x poodle).

Rocky: Thanks mum!

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So thanks everyone for reading my guest blog interview with Donna Batty (tee hee, that’s you mum). I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have and if you’d like to hear from us again then just let Donna know in the comments section.

In the meantime, I’m getting snuggles off mum to keep me warm after my bath!

So this is Rocky Batty, interviewer and guest blogger extraordinaire, signing off! Woof Woof!

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What You’ve Got To Know About The Christian Life – An Interview By Rocky – Part 1

IMG_1118Welcome to Drawing From The Well’s first ever Guest Blog post!

Yup, I’m a dog. My name is Rocky and Donna, the author of this blog, is my mother.

The way I came to be a guest blogger is, I noticed she’s become very busy lately, in her office. So I trotted on in there one day and asked just what she was up to. Well, I was so intrigued that we decided it might be fun for me to interview her! (tail wagging). We had such a ball (ball?? did somebody say ball??) and there was so much ground to cover, we thought it would be better still, to turn the interview into a little series of posts. So -here is our very first interview together with me as ‘interviewer extraordinaire’ as well as guest blogger!

Rocky: Hey mum, why are you on your laptop so much more these days?

Donna: Well Rocky, I’m working on my blog ‘drawing from the well’.

Rocky: You’ve been writing on there since November 2014, but you seem busier than usual, what’s changed?

Donna: Well, while I’m not working, it seems like every day is an opportunity to see more of Jesus & I feel like the Lord is really encouraging me to share my journey with others who are interested. This is a great way of doing it. What’s changed of late is that my hunger to connect with other believers who want to share a deeper revelation of Jesus Christ has deepened.

Rocky: I see…..but how is blogging helping with that hunger? (hmmm, I’m getting hungry now…when’s dinner by the way?)

Donna: (Dinner’s hour’s away Rocky, you know that). Well, I’ve discovered through blogging that there are many other believers out there who have so much of Christ to share and who are equally hungry and desperate even, to connect with the wider body of Christ. I find that by connecting with these brothers and sisters and reading their blogs, I am seeing more of Christ and I hope that’s what happens for them when they read what I write too.

Rocky: Ok, great. Is that the only reason you’re blogging and can I have a biscuit?

Donna: Good question Rocky and no you can’t. No, also there are so many believers who are ‘lost’ out there, having left church life as they’ve known it and are disillusioned, confused and lonely, many who have never had a revelation of Jesus Christ Himself! Just like I didn’t have a revelation of Jesus until 4 years ago when I’d already been a Christian for 38 years!

Rocky: Wow, that seems crazy! It’s a bit sad there are others like that.

Donna: Yes it is sad but Jesus is always found when we truly seek Him, that’s one of the things that makes Him so cool.:-)

Rocky: I don’t really understand. How can someone be a christian for so many years and not have a revelation of Jesus Himself? Don’t people become christians in the first place because they’ve had a revelation of Jesus?

Donna: Well, you’re right Rocky. People become christians firstly because the Holy Spirit has drawn them to Him, so even this is by God’s sovereignty. And people become christians by believing in and accepting Jesus as the Son of God and their Saviour, and the One who forgives sins. Jesus said : No-one comes to the Father but by Me: So there has to be some level of insight into Jesus to do that, you’re definitely right there Rocky.  But ‘becoming’ a christian, is only the first step. That’s our initial salvation and it’s just like opening the door to a house, stepping inside and standing in the entry. 

Rocky: What do you mean? Do you mean there’s more to being a christian than salvation?

Donna: You’re a very clever boy! (Rocky wags tail) Salvation is that initial transportation from darkness into Light, from death to Life, from the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of Heaven. Sticking with the analogy of entering a big house, the entry is just inside the front door and there’s so much more to a house than just the entry! So salvation is like moving from outside the house, to inside the house and the house is Jesus Himself!

Rocky: I think I get it, but you better explain more (while I finish off this shmacko treat I just found buried under my blanky…mmmm)

Donna: Righto, the thing is Rocky, this Jesus is sooooo big! He is enormous! The bible says He fills the universe and His kingdom has no end! How big is that?

Rocky: Wow! That’s huge! (crunch crunch) So I guess you’re saying that there’s heaps more to a house than just the entry, there’s heaps more to explore of Jesus beyond the point of salvation? Especially if He fills the universe!

Donna: You bet there is! Heaps of christians set up camp in the entry, just inside the front door and don’t even know they’re in this incredibly enormous extravagant house that is just waiting to be discovered! They think that’s all there is.

Rocky: Wow, it sounds really exciting to know Jesus like that. So why do people stay in the entry of their salvation and not go looking around to discover more of Jesus? Is that what you did for all those years? And what’s this got to do with that word ‘revelation’ you used?

Donna: One question at a time little fella. Let’s see…..people stay at the entry point of their salvation for lots of reasons, and yes it’s just like how I was for all those years Rocky. Sometimes we stay there because other believers who show us in, have stayed there and they don’t even realise there’s more. Sometimes we stay there because we’re comfortable there and believe there might be too much risk if we step further in and look for more. Sometimes even though other believers have gone on ahead of us and are calling to us from other rooms, per say, we’re just a bit blind or deaf, possibly even prideful or simply immature. I was one of those!

Rocky: So how did it change for you then?

Donna: That takes us back to your previous question, “what’s this got to do with the word revelation?” A huge part of the Christian life is all about revelation. Revelation means to have something that was not made known to us, revealed to us. Like you said before, we first come to Jesus by revelation by the Holy Spirit, that God even exists. Imagine that house again.  So the house is Jesus. The front door that you enter through is called ‘revelation’ into Christ. And then every door after that is another revelation further into Christ. So Jesus Christ is the house and the doors and every room.

Rocky: Oh I get it now. So….(tail beginning to wag)… if I think of it in ‘dog’ terms, it’s like when you first rescued me. That was my salvation. I’d gone from being lost to being found. But years on, I roam all around the house we live in, wherever I want and whenever I want, you take me out in your car, we go for walks together, you give me food and drink, you massage me, play with me, look after me when I’m sick, give me lots of cuddles & treats and call me your baby boy! Oh wow mum! My life is so much more than just being rescued! I’m blown away by how awesome it is!

Donna: Oh Rocky!!! Sounds like you just received a revelation!! You and I both! See how you now understand something wonderful about this life you have that you didn’t realise a moment ago? Now you have a greater insight into just what your being rescued really meant for you. That’s exactly how it is with Jesus! This christian life is a house of many doors, that by revelation, lead us into a deeper and richer knowledge of Jesus and we begin to see more and more just how increasingly glorious and wonderful He is!

Rocky: Wow, this is very exciting! I’m thirsty for more! But we’ll have to leave it there for now folks, so be sure to tune in again for our next post in a few weeks time and hear all about exploring this great big Jesus! (that’s Jesus, not ‘cheeses’…mmmm, I looove cheese)

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TO BE CONTINUED…

Are you like many other believers worldwide, desiring a deeper journey in knowing the Lord and just can’t find others to share this with? Then this might help – Go to http://www.thedeeperchristianlife.com and follow the provided guidelines to become part of a new online community of like-minded christians. See you there!