Blog

We Were Made for a Another World

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
The longer I live and the more life I have to enjoy and wrestle with, the more my heart pangs with an aching desire for another place. One writer, Rhoison Harris, who wrote on this very topic, described the feeling of gazing upon a “radiant sunset”. He said, “It is in those moments that my soul is altogether satisfied and yet strangely lacking.” 

As a Christian, not only do these moments remind us of how omnipotent our Creator is, but the enjoyment of these blessings cause us to long for a place in which these moments are never ending - where true and everlasting satisfaction exists. When we have tasted a morsel of God’s goodness we can only hunger for more and feel empty when we cannot satisfy that feeling on our own. 

This is because we live in a world we were never made for - a world made perfect but then stained with sin. We are aliens, foreigners, and sojourners in this world waiting for that Kingdom to arrive and take us home. 

C.S. Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity:

“The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists...If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world...Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

I am convinced these beautiful moments and blessings we experience on earth, as a result of our Father’s grace and goodness, act as a shadow (or as a movie trailer, if you will) of what is to come. This “other world” or “true country” as Lewis describes has been called “the place of rest” by Saint Augustine and “the Celestial City” by John Bunyan. They’re all wonderful descriptions of what we have to look forward to and yet they won’t even come close to measuring up to what it will truly be like when we arrive.

John describes it in Revelation 21:1-4 like this:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

What a beautiful promise and picture of our coming home! 

Harris also shared in his article a reflection on these verses in Revelation by Dr. Phillip Ryken, “I love how Ryken describes these verses: What we find in these final few chapters (of Revelation) is a sanctuary for the heart of every lonely pilgrim who is longing for home…Amen, and amen!”

It’s easy to want to quench this thirst for satisfaction with things of this world, but the more we drink of the emptiness this world has to offer, the thirstier we will become. So set your eyes on Jesus and live like we believe and hope in this coming “true country”. Just from reading this passage in Revelation, we, if you are a Christian, can see the home that He has promised to us. If you are not a Christian, this is an encouragement and a warning. There is a better and satisfying world waiting for you if you submit your life to Jesus - a place with no death, no tears, full of joy, and where we are no longer separated from God Himself! 

1 Peter 1:3-9 describes this promise as an inheritance stored up in heaven for us: 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

If you don’t know Him, you aren’t promised this Kingdom and you don’t have that inheritance stored up in heaven for you. So, I urge you to come before your Father in Heaven and give your life to Him, so that you may enjoy Him fully and have a hope that will never perish! 

I’ll end with the lyrics to a song by the Gray Havens called “Far Kingdom” that reminds me of this “other world” we’re promised our hearts so desperately long for. 

“There is a far Kingdom
A ways from here
Beyond the storm and the sea
There will be no need of darkness
And none for tears
When that far Kingdom I see
There's a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it, we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
There is a far Kingdom
On the other side of the glass
And by a faint light we see
Still there is more gladness
Longing for the sights
Than to behold or be filled, by anything
There is a far, far Kingdom
There at the end of the sea
Where they know my name
And until that far, far Kingdom
Calls me home
Oh, my soul, I will wait
There's a river we will know
Ever clear and ever full
From the fount that overflows
In the light of the King
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
And when we drink it we will find
That this joy, ever full, will ever rise
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom
And it'll rise on, in the Kingdom
In the Kingdom” 
Read more

Counting the Cost: When Sanctification is Painful and Confusing

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0
Before continuing on with this article, I suggest you go and read C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity, or at least for the purpose of this article flip to Book IV and read Chapter 9 titled “Counting the Cost”. 

Most of us, when we were saved, did so because we recognized a need. We recognized we were sinners, feeling that weight of that sin in our hearts, and realized we needed a remedy, a great Healer, and that was and is Jesus. Once we’re saved we fully expect Him to fix us and to continuously fix us as we continuously fail. As we sin again and again, as we fall from time to time, we look to Him to pick us up, help us learn, and to fix us where we were broken. That is in fact what a healer does, right? They make you better. 

Lewis doesn’t deny this aspect of Christianity or of God, but points out that Jesus said before we became Christians we were to, “count the cost, ” referring to Luke 14:28 which says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (ESV). 

But did we count the cost? Christianity isn’t about being fixed over and over again until we’re finally in paradise. If that’s the case then we will never learn, grow, serve, and desire God for anything more than a quick and temporary fix. He’s not Tylenol or, as Lewis puts it, when our tooth hurts we don’t just get something to numb the pain. We go to the dentist to solve the problem itself, not just to prevent something like that from happening again, but it actually looks and feels better. Being a Christian is about being made new, being made different, and being made more like our Father in Heaven. But did we understand what that process would look like when it began, what it would feel like, and what He would ultimately do in order to get us there? Probably not. And that’s why the pain and struggle of sanctification, the process of being made holy, is so confusing to us. We don’t understand what God is doing in our lives to make us like Him and why it sometimes comes with growing pains, struggles, and fear. 

God is satisfied with nothing less than pure perfection. The Christian might say, “How can I be perfect when the Bible says that I can do no good apart from Him and that I am in fact a sinner? I will always fail. How can I be perfect when He says I can’t be?” Well Christian, you’re right. Lewis points out that it is not perfection completed by our own work or will that He expects, but rather because He is perfect, He is the only one who can work out and complete perfection in us. Even though our effort will get us nowhere on our own, God expects us to walk towards Him in faith and trust and He will carry us the rest of the way. 

Lewis says, “This Helper [God], who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty”. 

He then presents an analogy of believers as a living house, which he attributes to a writer named George MacDonald. He writes:
 
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Before becoming Christians, we were completely separated from Him. We were sinners and broken, just as we continue to be now, but before Him we had no hope. To use the living house analogy, the house was abandoned. No one was living inside able to peel away the bubbled, water damaged, wallpaper; dust off the cobwebs stretched from wall to wall and corner to corner; fix our damaged, leaky pipes, dripping with murky, brown, water; or repair the bones of the house that ache and groan with every gust of wind. And we couldn’t fix it on our own.

Then, when we were saved, God opened the door of our hearts and instead of grimacing at the horrific sight of it all or sighing at the amount of work that had to be done, He simply got to work. For most builders or house repairers, when the job is complete they pack up their tools, wipe the sweat from their foreheads, and with a satisfied feeling in their bellies they step outside never to return until the next problem arises. But God decides to lay up residence among the debris and keep working. Where others would say, “we have another job to go to” or “that’s just a waste of time”. He begins to design, add on, and make the space beautiful, not just livable or good enough. 

Because, you see, He isn’t satisfied with fixing us up and leaving us where we are. He’s an architect who wants to build something magnificent. In other words, something from nothing. While He does remedy us He’s also sanctifying us for the purpose of holiness and godliness. To us, the process of kicking down walls to build on and redoing those scraped up floors is confusing and painful to us at the moment, as we’re unable to see what He’s doing or what He hopes to accomplish at the end of it all. We haven’t seen the blueprints and we probably wouldn’t understand them even if we could. This extra work isn’t what we asked for. But, He’s determined to make something better, changing and redecorating every space of our hearts to look more like Him. 

In fact, instead of repairing our leaky pipes with a temporary fix or even replacing the pipes all together, He builds strong, enduring pipes and fills them with new water. No, not just new water - living water. He knows it’s not what we asked for, or even thought we needed, but it’s what He promised when we became His. And while the job is never complete while we’re here on earth, He’s so committed and in love with His own work, that as Lewis describes, God decides to dwell in us forever as He continues and completes His work. 

Lewis ended the chapter with this, 

“The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him - for we can prevent Him, if we choose - He will make us the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now image, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

So even when that pruning process is painful, trust that He’s doing it not just for your good, but for the good of the Kingdom. The process of sanctification, being made holier and more like Him, is painful and scary at times, but without His work we would not grow or come to love Him for who He is - The Healer. The Builder. The Vinedresser. The Architect. The King of Kings who dwells within our hearts equipping us for His work on earth and preparing us for a world we have not yet seen.
Read more

How to Build the Best GiveSendGo Campaign Page

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 1
So you have a need or an idea that you need to fundraise for? 

GiveSendGo is a great place to develop your campaign landing page where people can come to donate and get to know more about your story, your goals, and your values.

In order to get the most out of your campaign, here are a few tips on how to build the best GSG campaign page: 

1. Set an Attainable Fundraising Goal. 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but before anything else you need to determine what your fundraising goal is and if that number is realistic. 

If you’re trying to raise $20,000 in only a month, but you’re just now putting your campaign page together, you may want to reconsider the amount you're trying to raise and lower it. 

Or, maybe, your goal is way too low. People won’t want to donate if they think you could just save up for that money or if they don’t think they’ll actually be making a difference with their donation.

Either way, make sure your fundraising goal is attainable based on the timeframe in which you need the money, the audience you plan to share it with, and the need that you want filled through donations. 

2. Create a Custom URL

When building your campaign page, GiveSendGo gives the option to create a custom URL. It may be as simple as a couple words to sum up your campaign or it may be something clever and witty. Either way, make it simple, concise, creative, and memorable. 

And, to the best of your ability, don’t add in a bunch of unnecessary numbers or special characters. That’s a lot for people to remember and you run the risk of someone missing that second asterisk or exclamation point. A word or two will suffice and will be easy enough for people to quickly type into their search bar. 

3. Tell Your Story

When building your page, be sure to give people the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your campaign! 

But while all of those six categories are important to develop and communicate to potential donors, the WHY behind your campaign is the most important. 

Simon Sinket, a marketing and leadership expert, once said, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” 

Other people may be raising money for the same thing you are, but you’re the only person with your story! Your story behind your campaign is unique and it needs to be shared with your campaign’s potential backers so they can see why you’re fundraising. The best place to tell this story is on your campaign’s landing page. 

Don’t just tell people the details, although those things are important. Let people see your heart, your mission, and your story. Be creative and make people feel like they can be a part of your story too by donating and supporting you. 

For example, you may be raising money for something as simple as your pet’s vet expenses. Seems small enough, but can be really expensive. A creative approach that is sure to capture your audience’s attention and make them feel connected to your story (and to your pet) is by explaining your need as if you were your pet. In other words, tell your story from your pet’s perspective! A little comedy goes a long way and adds so much more to your campaign than by simply telling your audience that you need money to pay for your pet’s surgery bills. 

4. Pick Relevant and Creative Media for Your Page

GiveSendGo gives you the option to upload a header photo and even a video to tell your campaign story. The more interactive you can be with your audience, the better. 

Pick an image related to your campaign. Make sure it’s something people can easily see and understand (no sideways or grainy photos). 

Choose a picture that will be an attention grabber. Make it something relevant, but also something people will be drawn to click on as they scroll through their social media or as they're looking through hundreds of other campaigns. You want to stick out!

Videos are a great way to attract a large audience! If you do choose to upload a video, make sure it adds something new or different to your page. Maybe it’s a video of you sharing a little bit more about your story or your campaign. If you’re raising money to go on a mission trip, maybe you can share a video featuring an area you may visit. Whatever it is, make it relevant, but also make sure it adds another level of depth to your campaign page. 

Another tip is to keep the video short. Don’t upload something 15 minutes long, because people won’t stick around long enough to watch it. According to IdeaRocket: 
  • Users spend 88% more time on a website that contains a video
  • Short videos (under 2 minutes) get the most engagement
  • Video content generates 1200% more shares than images and text combined
A video that’s short, creative, and personal to your campaign will make your campaign all the more memorable. 
 
So now that you have a few tips to help you get started, start campaigning and be sure to share, share, share your campaign with as many people as you can, as frequently as you can, and on as many platforms that you can!

Shine Brightly! 
Read more