Living and Dying Unashamed

By Scott Armstrong

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”” (Romans 1:16-17).

I still remember the service.  Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, was talking about his daughter. Rachel was the first one who was killed at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado the morning of April 20, 1999. Two young gunmen asked her if she believed in God and she answered yes as she stared into the barrel of a gun. The next instant she was gone.

The story of Rachel’s death was moving.  Yet, the thing that riveted the multitude of teens and adults in attendance for that service was not the details of her death.  Rather, we were awestruck by her life.  Darrell told us of her daily spending time in devotions.  We learned that she prayed nearly every day that she would be used by God in her school and community.  She reached out to the unpopular kids at school, even befriending and praying for one of her assassins weeks before her death.  The way she died was moving.  But the way Rachel Scott lived her life was what really inspired all of us.

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In the weeks after hearing Darrell Scott share the testimony of his teenage daughter, I was reminded of many scriptures.  One of them we read just now.  The first phrase echoes in my mind, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Why is living unashamed so important? Because one life unashamed of the gospel is so powerful it can actually convince others to believe in Christ and be saved!  Verse 16 tells us so and Rachel Scott’s life proves it is true.  The gospel working in her life was (and still is) powerful enough to change other’s lives!

“I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Can you honestly say that from the depth of your heart? How do you act at school, at home, with your family and friends and even enemies? Are you living your life unashamed? Is the power of the gospel evident in your life? In the next few minutes, renew your commitment to God by praying and seeking his face.  Whatever has happened in the past, tell him that you want to live your life for him, unashamed of the gospel.  Thank him for doing the same for you.

The Most Offensive Word in America – Part 2 of 2

This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

We don’t always acknowledge it, but many of us subconsciously believe God gives us commandments to force us into a stiff, single-file line. This lie makes God seem like an angry referee obsessed with rigid rules and regulations, as if He bitterly paces back and forth in heaven, waving a red flag and trying to control our every word and step. Who would want to obey a god like that?

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The reality is that God is much more like a loving father trying to keep his children from running into traffic. The more we learn to submit to His commandments, the more we see they are not burdensome rules but rather signposts pointing toward the path of true joy, life and peace. For instance, I always thought King David sounded a bit crazy in Psalm 19 when he said the rules of God are “sweeter than the drippings of the honey comb,” but when I compare the peace of submission to the emptiness of sin, I know he was right.

We may think independence is what we want, but it comes with a hidden cost.

Speaking to an atheist who asked about the difference between heaven and hell, renowned author and pastor Tim Keller once said, “Nobody ever goes to hell unless they want to. People go to hell because they want to be away from a god who will tell them what to do. People in hell would say, ‘It’s pretty miserable here, but I would never want to be in heaven with God, where He is telling people what to do.’”

Our culture tells us true freedom comes in following our desires wherever they lead us. While this sounds nice and provides the plot for most romantic comedies, reality reveals why this is false. For example, I have a number of friends who have overcome extreme substance abuse. When one of my friends recounted his past addiction to pain killers to me, he said, “I had become a complete slave to pills. My desires were killing me.” In many ways, unrestrained pride, lust, greed, fear, control, jealousy and anger have the same effect.

Defiance of God’s commandments may give us a fleeting sense of power and independence, but this actually reveals our weakness and constant need for grace. We have to have the humility to acknowledge our own faults and the trust to follow God’s commands, even when they run contrary to our personal desires. Because something better is on the other side. God offers us abundant life, the fullness of freedom and more love than our minds have the capacity to comprehend.

If we ever hope to experience these things, we have to do the most countercultural, rebellious thing imaginable within our culture: submit to a truth deeper than ourselves.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/god-our-generation/most-offensive-word-america