Authentic Christianity….Love: No Strings Attached

When I was a tiny child I had horrible tonsils that kept me sick with a sore throat for most of the first five years of my life. At the age of 5 I underwent surgery to remove the offending tonsils and suddenly I could eat. I ate and ate and ate. In fact, I gained no small amount of weight in a short period of time.

At that point, my sweet Mother, whose intentions were pure and good, began her campaign to make certain I did not become ‘fat’. ‘Fat’ became a word that eventually engulfed me like a disease.

“You cannot have that. It will make you fat.”

“Bread…corn…potatoes…dessert… is fattening.”

I adored food, but food soon became the enemy. By the time I was 18 I was in the throes of an eating disorder, and the demons of anorexia quickly took the message that my Mother had spoken to a whole new and devastating level.

Fat = unacceptable = unlovable

Suddenly love had strings attached to it which led me to do things that I should never have done in order to obtain ‘love’ from humans. I brought my strings-attached love into my marriage and that was disastrous on many levels. Thankfully, my marriage survived and I eventually understood that ‘I will love you if….’ is not genuine love.

 

Authentic Christianity Love No Strings Attached

 

 

In Romans 12:9 Paul speaks of the kind of love that should be part of the life of an authentic Christian.

 

Let love be genuine. (ESV)

Love must be completely sincere. (GNV)

Love must be sincere. (NIV)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (NLT)

Obviously Jesus is our model for this kind of love. He loved sincerely, without strings or hypocrisy. He did not pretend to love those with whom He came in contact. He loved them in spite of. He loved them…..

when they were fat.

when they were tall or short.

when they complained.

when they were filthy rich.

when they were dirt poor.

when they were sick.

when they were legalistic.

when they were dirty rotten sinners….like me.

 

Jesus loved sincerely.

Perhaps you, like me, have a history of love with strings attached. Guess what? Jesus can take that kind of love and turn it into a love in spite of. That is the kind of love Jesus has for you and me. Surely you and I can love other people in the same way.

So, tell me. What kind of love resides in your heart? Be honest now!

NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links.

Here a few links to some great books that go along with my post theme today.

How Legacy Was Born

The first speaking engagement God allowed me was on Valentine’s Day weekend in 2008 at Macedonia Baptist Church in Hiawassee, Georgia. The event was the church’s annual widow’s brunch, at which time the church honored those church ladies who had lost their husbands to death. As I prayed and asked the Lord to give me a topic and Scripture that would speak to that particular audience, I sensed that He wanted me to focus on the topic of “legacy.” Most of the ladies who were being honored were older and had seen quite a few years come and go. There would certainly be a wealth of wisdom and some godly legacies among them.

 

Legacy Components

 

 

My focal Scripture for that event was 2 Timothy 1:3–5, in which the apostle Paul reminded young Timothy of the great legacy of faith that belonged to Timothy through his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois. This seemed like a fitting topic and passage of Scripture on which to focus for a group of ladies who were still active and spiritually seeking, even if it was without their life partners.

My fifteen-minute message was well received, and I went home feeling that I had pleased the Lord with what I had done. Little did I know that this topic of legacy would become what author Margaret Feinberg calls a “sacred echo” in my life. Repeatedly over the course of the next two years, the topic of legacy would surface. Time and again, the Lord made it evident that this message about creating a godly legacy would be the message that I would offer to one ladies’ group after another. Each time I have taught this message, the Lord has given me new information and Scriptures to add to it. In fact, this message has become my hallmark message, for it is based on the things that God has taught me over the course of fifty-one years of doing this thing called life.

We live in a world that is all about the here and now rather than the there and then. Our mottos are “if it feels good, do it” and “it’s all about me.” The simple fact is that it is not all about us. I see generations of young girls and women who have never been taught the importance of a noble character or the value of “shunning the very appearance of evil.” Today our young women are learning about character and holiness from mainstream fashion and lifestyle magazines. To our shame, Christian women have planted themselves comfortably in soft pews in white-washed churches and allow the world to teach its values to our young women. We, the body and bride of Christ, should be the ones teaching our young women how to be women of faith who believe in Jesus Christ; women who exhibit noble character and holiness before God.

This is our calling in this generation. This is why I wrote Legacy.

Have I always made all the right choices to create a godly legacy? No, I have not, yet God has faithfully and lovingly corrected and guided me. Every day offers opportunities to make choices that reflect God’s presence in my life….or not. My prayer is that I make more godly choices than not; that my character reflects more of Christ than not; that my faith is stronger than the day before, yet not as strong as it will be tomorrow.

What about you? Are you being intentional in the creation of your legacy?

May I leave you with a quote about choosing to live a holy life that resonates deeply in my soul? It is from Jerry Bridges book The Pursuit of Holiness and I quote it in the Legacy Bible study.

 

Legacy components IG

 

“It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are ‘defeated’ by this sin or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might be well if we stopped using the terms ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’ to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms ‘obedience’ and ‘disobedience’ … when I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me.”

SDG/FCA!!

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Race Cars, Jesus, and Legacy and an IG Giveaway

Today, as part of the re-launch of my Legacy Bible study, I am sharing a story that should give us all cause for pause. There is also a giveaway of the Legacy Bible study going on over on my Instagram page. I am leahadams64 on IG.

 

Legacy quote pushing up daisies

 

Dr. Frank Cox of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, tells the story about one woman’s legacy in his book entitled, Legacy: One Life to Live. Dr. Cox received a call from a local funeral director telling him about a 52-year-old lady who had died. She was new to the area, and did not have a church home. The family had heard about Dr. Cox and wanted him to conduct her funeral service. Dr. Cox agreed to do the service. Here is the rest of the story in Dr. Cox’s own words.

“The funeral would be at 11:00 the next morning. I rehearsed the Baptist funeral on my way to the funeral home. You probably know it well. Mama loved Jesus. Mama gave her life to Christ. The Scripture says, absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

“I arrived at the funeral home my customary ten minutes before the hour. I was greeted at the front door by the funeral director who took me and introduced me to the husband of the deceased and their two grown children. After a few condolences, I asked if we could go to the conference room for a minute so I could ask a few questions in order to make the memorial services as personal as I could.

“As we entered the room, I took a seat at the head of the conference table with the husband at the opposite end. The two children sat on each side. “Sir” I said, “I want to make this as personal as possible. I noticed your wife was Baptist. Please tell me when she received Christ as her personal Savior.” To be honest, I was not prepared for what I was about the hear.

“He said, “Received Christ? Preacher, we are pagans. We don’t believe in that Jesus garbage and whatever you do, please don’t bring Jesus up in this funeral today.” Immediately my nice little funeral message flew right out the window. What was I to do?

“My father, a Baptist preacher, always taught me when you are in doubt, put the question back to them. “Well, sir, what do you want me to say for your friends who have gathered to remember your wife?”

“The husband thought for a moment, looked at his children and then responded. ‘Tell them she loved race cars.”

“Mama loved race cars.” I kept flipping through my Bible to see what God’s Word said about race cars.”

 

 

Most of us will never be in the predicament in which Dr. Cox found himself. The question he asked the family of his dear women, however, is one we must consider.

What will the person who preaches your funeral say about you? How will those who sit in the pews at your funeral remember you?

I don’t know about you, friend, but I want to be remembered for more than loving race cars. Or books. Or food. Or traveling. Or __________________ (you fill in the blank).

I want to be remembered for loving JESUS.

Psalm 145: 4-7 offers some words on which we might consider hanging our Legacy hat today.

 

One generation shall commend your works to another,

And shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,

And on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,

And I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness,

And shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Your legacy. What will the preacher who stands over your casket say about you? Will he or she be able to say that your life commended Jesus to the next generation? Every choice you make, every word you utter, every act you perform is all part of your legacy. So what will it be?

Race cars or Jesus?

SDG/FCA!!

Legacy quote daisies graveyard

 

 

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Authentic: Stop the Fighting! We Are The Body of Christ

DISCLAIMER: Electronic media makes it difficult to convey emotion. Please, please know that there is not one smidgen of anger contained in this post. As you read it, I hope you will hear my heart of love for the body of Christ. I believe this is an important conversation to have, and I invite you to enter in.

 

Would you pardon me while I climb atop my soapbox for a moment?

Stop it with all the denominational fighting! Just stop!

 

Authentic Stop The Fighting Body of Christ

 

I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, and I am grateful for (most of) that upbringing. I learned about missions and Jesus and amazing old hymns and the beauty of an organ and piano and the order of service and the Doxology and Girls in Action and Acteens and Summer Vacation Bible School and ‘raise your hand if you read your Sunday School lesson this week’.

I also learned that women are not to be pastors and speaking in tongues is not actually an accepted thing and, dear Gussie, exclusivity. I think my Grandma might have had to be revived with St. Peter’s smelling salts when she stepped through the gates of heaven and discovered that there were Methodists, Church of God, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and many other people who affiliated with non-Southern Baptist denominations, or no denomination at all, right there in heaven.

I am not here to bash the Southern Baptist denomination. I really am not. My ‘letter’ is housed at the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, and I love that church and pray for that church. Southern Baptist just happens to be the well from which I draw my experience. No denomination is perfect, and many of you might have a similar perspective about your denomination. But, our time in Romans 12 today prompts me to step back with you so we can take a 50,000-foot view of the body of Christ and the scene that will one day be around God’s throne in heaven.

Let’s read these two verses…..

 

4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

 

You have a body….head to toe, inside and outside…it is a body that houses all sorts of organs, cells, membranes, ligaments, and muscles. Bones are connected by ligaments, tons of miles of blood vessels run all over your body, your brain is the control central, and your muscles allow you to walk and run. Your body is not just your brain. If you were only one big brain, you could not move or eat or kiss your sweetheart. If you were made up of only a pinky finger, you could not stand up.

Every part of your body is necessary to your physical well-being. Just let one part of the body malfunction and the entire body suffers in some way. Don’t believe me? Have you ever broken your pinky toe? Yeah! I rest my case. That pinky toe is important, people!

The same is true of the body of Christ…..regardless of the denomination in which you choose to worship…..if you name the name of Jesus Christ over your soul, you are a necessary and important part of the Body. Now, you may not like the way your toes look, but they are your toes and you must accept that and care for them because they are part of your body. So, let’s pretend the Baptists are the toes, the Methodists are the fingers, the Presbyterians are the blood vessels, the Church of God folks are the muscles, and our non-denominational brothers and sisters are the eyes.

Y’all, I am dying at all the exclusivity and condescension in the body of Christ. We are THE BODY OF CHRIST, knitted together in Him. We need those muscles and eyes and blood vessels, and even those toes and fingers. We need everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and stands firmly on the gospel in order to be a strong and functional body. We may disagree with Church of God folks about speaking in tongues, or the Methodists about sprinkling, but that does not give us the right to look down our noses at our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus said that the world would know that we are Christians by our L-O-V-E for one another in the body of Christ.

Even when I attended a denominational church, I did not label myself according to that denomination. If you ask me which denomination I belong to, I will tell you that I am a Christian because that is the label that I want others to associate with my life. My ministry is a non-denominational ministry. I have spoken at churches from many denominations. I seek to write from a Jesus perspective rather than a denominational perspective because I believe it encourages unity in the body of Christ.

So, friends, let’s use grape juice and wine. Let’s use the KJV and the NIV. Let’s use musical instruments and sing a capella. If we are going to choose a hill on which to die, for the love of Pete, let’s let that hill be the gospel of Jesus Christ, not whether to sprinkle or dunk. Let’s show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ and unity of Spirit to the world, so that the world will see Jesus.

I’m off my soapbox now! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment or email me at info@leahadams.org.

SDG!

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Linking this week at:

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Sharing Life: A Peek Into A Tasting Grace Event

Hello Friday! Glad you stopped in!

How are you friends? I hope you have had a great week. Our Sharing Life series is focused on women mentoring women, and the words we offer here are centered around one of three themes: Faith, Friendship, or Food. There have been some wonderful posts in this series and I hope you have had a chance to read them all. Today, I want to lighten things up a bit and give you a glimpse into one way that I take mentoring very seriously.

 

Sharing Life Let Me Tell You About Tasting Grace

 

 

If you have explored my website at all, you know there is a link to my Tasting Grace events. In case you are not familiar with Tasting Grace, may I tell you about it?

Tasting Grace is a mentoring in the kitchen event. So many women did not have the experience of standing beside their mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen learning how to prepare home-cooked meals. Because of this many women either do not have cooking skills or are intimidated by the idea of preparing meals from ‘scratch’. It is into this setting that God has called me to help women learn about preparing home-cooked, delicious meals for their family.

Once a month I invite 5-6 women into my kitchen for a short devotion and a couple of hours of standing shoulder to shoulder in order to learn to make a few homemade dishes that they can replicate at home for their families.

Our time in the kitchen has brought forth some tasty dishes like pound cake, chicken and dumplings, chicken and cornbread dressing, chicken noodle soup (um, chicken seems to be a theme here), fruit cobblers, cheese rings, salads, canned strawberry jam, and so much more. While we chop and mix and sauté we share life, marriage, children, joys, and heartaches. We have laughed and cried together. We have prayed and eaten together. We have made new friendships and renewed old ones. We have tasted the good grace that God showers on women as they do life with other women.

Not only do I host Tasting Grace sessions in my home, I take it on the road to other homes and churches. I love sharing the fun that is Tasting Grace.

 

Tasting Grace Bible Study

 

Last year all this fun turned into a book by the same name. Tasting Grace: A Mentoring in the Kitchen Bible Study offers ladies the opportunity to host a Tasting Grace session in their own homes and churches. The book is a combination 4 week Bible study focused on the topic of mentoring AND a how-to guide for hosting your own Tasting Grace event. The picture of the book below is my affiliate link to the Amazon page for the Bible study in case you would like to pick up a copy for yourself.

 

 

Now, I would love to share a few photos from previous Tasting Grace sessions so you can see what kind of fun we have. I hope you enjoy them AND I hope you catch the fever for mentoring in the kitchen.

 

Ready to make homemade biscuits

Ready to make homemade biscuits

 

Measuring and sifting flour.

Measuring and sifting flour.

 

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Chicken and Dumplings!

Chicken and Dumplings!

 

Tasting Grace recipes

 

January 2017 Tasting Grace group

 

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Authentic Christianity: Will You Conform or Be Transformed?

Hello, y’all! In case you are just now tuning in with me on Wednesdays, I am offering a series that the Lord laid on my heart late in 2016. It is called Authentic: Being a Stand-Out Christian in a Shut-Up World. What does authentic Christianity really look like? I truly believe this is one of the most important series the Lord has ever given me the privilege to write.

Is an authentic Christian one who always has a smile on her face and never seems to be shaken by problems?

Is a real Christian one who is in church every Sunday and whose children never fight?

While any of those things might be true of an authentic believer, they are not the things that characterize authentic Christianity. Our Wednesday journeys will take us deep into the book of Romans, to the twelfth chapter to glimpse of ‘mug shot’ of a stand-out Christian.

Here are links to the first two posts in the series:

Authentic: Being A Stand-Out Christian in a Shut-Up World

Authentic: What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Last week we considered the idea that a true follower of Jesus is willing to offer everything they are to Him. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for you and me, and that means we must be willing to offer our entire self, our living-breathing-walking-around body, back to Him. Oh it sounds nice and churchy, but sister (or brother), it is about as easy as jumping to the moon when we try to do it in our own efforts. We may succeed for a time, but eventually we crawl off that altar of sacrifice and decide it is just too hard, unless we allow the Holy Spirit to do it through us. Offering ourselves to Jesus for Him to fill and use CAN be done, and when we do it we reap amazing rewards and benefits.

 

Authentic Will You Conform or Be Transformed Romans 12 2

 

Once we have offered up our bodies on the altar, what then? Let’s take a look at Romans 12:2. I have to say that I am partial to the NIV rendering of this verse. Check it!

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I shared with you last week how God harassed me with Romans 12:1 a few years ago. Well, verse two was also included. As I meditated on these verses in those days, it became very apparent to me that one thing was for sure….I had a choice in whether or not I CON-formed to what world wanted me to look like. Conforming to the world’s ways happens with little effort. Our human-ness does it naturally. Satan makes sure of that. What is tougher is making a choice to be TRANS-formed into the likeness of Christ. To be honest, there is only one way that will happen, and that is by allowing our minds to be renewed.

Renewing our minds is a bit like wallpaper. In 1996, Greg and I purchased our first home together. It was a lovely ranch in a northern suburb of Atlanta and we were tickled pink to get it. What we were not so tickled about was the wallpaper in the house. To use the word ‘hideous’ to describe the wallpaper would be kind. The master bedroom was floor to ceiling huge burgundy and green floral print…circa late 80s. It made me dizzy to walk into the room. If that were not painful enough, the kitchen and breakfast room had another pink/burgundy/green floral paper that extended from the chair-railing to the vaulted ceiling, about 20 feet high. Needless to say, job number 1 was to do something about that hot mess of wallpaper in those rooms.

The world plasters its wallpaper all over our minds through television, books, movies, music, and the influence of others. We take it in and soon our thoughts and actions are no different than the world. When we seek to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we must tear off the world’s wallpaper and replace it with something new that will transform us. What we MUST replace it with is GOD’S WORD. Scripture is the only thing that will transform us into the likeness of Christ. Just as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we must also offer our minds up for transformation.

In those days when God was planting Romans 12:1-2 deeply in my heart, I would throw my arms wide open and tell Him that I was His…body, mind, and spirit. I would spend time each day in the Scriptures because I desired to be more like Jesus. I wanted to please Him and be obedient to Him. It did not happen overnight, and the offering of myself to Him is something I still do daily. So is the immersing of my mind in Scripture.

 

Authentic Conform or Be Transformed Romans 12 2

 

I want to challenge you, dear reader, to take these two verses very, very seriously. IF you are serious about looking like Jesus to a lost world, would you commit to praying these verses back to God with me? Let me offer a prayer for you to use.

 

Dear God, I thank you that you do not just save me and leave me as you found me. Your desire is for me to look more and more like Jesus. Today I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. Take me, clean me up, and use me in any way you will. Lord, I do not want to conform one minute longer to the pattern of this world. Transform me and renew my mind with Your Word as I read it every day. I am yours. Change me, mold me, make me more like Jesus. In the mighty, transforming name of Jesus I ask these prayers. Amen.

If you would take my challenge and pray Romans 12:1-2 over your life and mind, would you let me know so I can be praying for you? Leave me a comment or email me at info@leahadams.org.

 

Although I cannot sing very well, I do love the old hymns of our faith. I thought I would share a link to a CD that is playing on my iPod A LOT right now. It is Selah’s ‘Greatest Hymns’ CD and it contains so many of my favorites. Perhaps you would enjoy it, too?

Linking up today at Grace & Truth:

Grace & Truth Link-Up