Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sharing my faith

If this is your first time reading my blog, WELCOME!  My name is Ian Zumback.  If you'd like to know more about this blog, you can find a short introduction HERE.

In the not too distant past, I came to faith in Jesus (2005).  Upon giving my life over to God's will, I began a process that is referred to as sanctification.  If you're not familiar with this word, let me catch you up a bit...

I got tired of trying to do life my way.  At that point I chose to admit that I couldn't figure out how to live life without causing pain to myself or to others.  I also admitted that I couldn't find an influence on my terms that would guide me to live life with less pain and make better decisions.  Desiring to change, I called out for God to change me.  God's response was that I had to trust Him, leave my old way of living, give Him control of my life, and follow Him.  Oh yeah, I had to let Him know that I was sorry for disobeying Him and turning my back on Him too, and really mean it.  In Christianity, this is called repentance and faith.  It's also called salvation, or 'being saved.'  In other words, I was in a mess and needed someone to rescue me.  That rescuer was God.  And by the way, God's response to me was not a set of criteria that He was forcing or imposing on me; though it was inherently clear to me that adherence to follow God on His terms was necessary to begin a journey that would lead me to live a full and better life. 

Now in order to be 'saved', a change of heart needs to take place that is not based on your intellect, your abilities, your strengths, your talents, your social standings, or your efforts.  It is an act of God that takes place in the heart of a person, and really is an act that is not really explained through physics, psychology or other measurable sciences.  It is an act that is initiated by God in response to our act of true repentance and real faith in Jesus.  Real faith in Jesus being that we believe He is (a) the Son of God & co-equal with God, the Father; (b) He personally exchanged places with me by receiving the punishment for my sins and allowing for my sins to be placed on Him, (c) He died for me in my place, (d) He was buried after dying, (e) three days later, He rose from the dead, (f) He ascended to Heaven and will some day come back a second time as God's righteous Judge to render God's judgment on sinners, and render pardon by grace to those who trusted Him as their King, Savior, and Lord.  (g)  To those of us that trusted in Jesus, He gives the gift of eternal life.

Pause... Right now, you're either intrigued, calling me a fool, or agreeing with me.

Trust me when I tell you that I am no theologian.  But I am infatuated with getting to know Jesus.  So far, from what I can tell through personal study, prayer, and trusted resources - my explanation of real faith in Jesus (criteria listed as items a-g) are the core, closed fundamentals of the Christian faith that are fixed and cannot be altered.  All religions have a core set of beliefs.  These are mine that I now hold dear and true.

So we explained true faith.  What is true repentance?  True repentance acknowledges that I have a problem that exists in me that I can't seem to overcome on my own, and desire to be rid of.  That problem is called a sin nature.  It expresses itself in the lives of every person.  For some people it expresses itself through participating and spreading of gossip.  For some it expresses itself through lying.  For some it expresses itself in the form of jealousy and prejudice.  There are many forms of sin expressing itself in a number of ways, but  whichever way you slice it, everybody's got something going on in their life that seems to make more messes than brings blessings when expressed.

The main problem with sin is that its basis and usage is founded on pride.  Pride that chooses to deal with life based on its own standard and knowledge that typically seeks to benefit one person - me.  The problem is there is a standard that is left out of the equation that is very important to living a healthy life - God's standard.

God has a standard.  And it's really high.  In fact, it's impossible to completely live by His standard, even as a Christian.  Want to test that theory?  Click here to read the 10 commandments and ask yourself if you've ever broken even one of them 10 commandments 

But the good news is that you don't have to live to God's standard of perfection.  He is merciful and gives grace to those who humble themselves before Him and ask Him for help.  That's the whole point of Jesus.  He exchanged His perfect life for our sins to pay a penalty that was rightly due us, and to clear up a debt for us that we could never pay off.

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus,  "For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds."

At the beginning of my explanation on true repentance, I described it as acknowledging that I have a problem that exists in me that I can't seem to overcome on my own, and a desire to be rid of it.  This describes only the desire.  The action step requires us to turn away from our desire to be god over our own lives, turn to God and ask Him to be God over our lives, and then put our faith and trust in Jesus to live in our hearts by His Spirit to begin the process of putting our lives and will in His hands so that we can live a fuller and better life which leads to as Paul writes above; totally committed to doing good deeds.  (Catching breath... that was a long sentence.)  

Now, this day to day process of learning to live God's way is called sanctification.

I am in the process of sanctification.  And thank God, from what I've experienced to date, God is the One helping me to have the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

If you read the introduction blog entry that I linked to above - I shared that this blog involves a lot of 'doing life' together.  Much of my 'doing life' is found in the sanctification process.  Part of my sanctification is a growing desire to share my faith in Jesus with others.

There are people that are reading this blog, that may never have the opportunity to meet with me directly that I may share the Good news with them in person.  There may be people that may not have the opportunity or desire to go into a church for various reasons. But I do hope that in the privacy of your home, office, or wherever - that you, the reader, would consider what I've shared.

If you count me a fool,  that's ok.
If you count me intriguing,  I hope you come back and read again.
If you count me agreeable, I'm glad and rejoice with you!

If you are still interested in hearing more about Jesus - here are two video resources from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sharing real stories of hope and healing ranging from a professional football player to a heavy metal singer.  If you need someone to talk to about this - head over here for live chat with a real person that can help answer your questions or pray with you http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/but-have-eternal-life/

THE CROSS - Billy Graham's message to America

DEFINING MOMENTS - Stories of Hope