What makes a good Christian?

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:24 (VOICE)

Do you ever feel like there is some secret list on what makes a good Christian? 

I sometimes wonder if it exists because I hear the phrase “That wasn’t very Christian” or “I’m not a good Christian a lot”. 

I even sometimes think, “I’m not a good Christian”.  

I don’t read my bible every day. 
My prayers are random little sentences thrown up to God at all hours not long, holy missives in the early hours of the morning. 
I lose my temper. 
And I’m impatient and unkind more than I care to admit. 
I lie. 
I’ve taken things that weren’t mine. 
And I sometimes wish I lived someone else’s life. 

That list isn’t even complete but it begins to paint a picture of the type of Christian I am.

In my head the secret list of what makes a good Christian goes something like this:
Virgin
Never had alcohol
Have no idea what swear words are
Attends church 2-3 times per week
Never cut their hair

That last one snuck in there but it does show that my idea of the perfect Christian has been deeply influenced by stories of Mary, Samson, David and John the Baptist. 

Ironic, isn’t it? The Bible actually goes pretty far to show how none of those people were perfect. All of them would fail in one-way or another at the “good Christian” list.

And then there is Jesus. He said, “Come follow me”, to people who didn’t look anything like a “good Christians”. 

I’ve always loved that Jesus said, “Come follow me”. 

Jesus didn’t issue a command to act like him. Jesus gave an invitation to walk with him.  

I think Jesus knew that I wouldn’t become more like him simply from following a list of “do’s and don’ts.(tweet this)

I think Jesus knew, for people like Peter, Matthew, Luke and me, it would take more than that. It would take time for me to learn to trust him, and then time for me to like him, and then time for me to want to be inspired to live a better way.  

I wonder if when Jesus said, “Come follow me” he knew that the road they’d walk together wouldn’t always be a straight one. I’m sure there are plenty of times when Jesus and the disciples stood at a crossroads and argued about which way to go. Or when the disciples said, “Jesus, you’re out of your mind!”

I often forget just how human those that chose to follow Jesus were. They didn’t put down their fishing nets and suddenly become a “good Christian”. 

I think Jesus knew that following him wouldn’t be easy. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me.”

That doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, hand-in-hand into the sunset. And it certainly doesn’t sound like any list of what makes a good Christian I’ve ever read. 

If you ask me, between those two “follow me’s” is a lot of space for stumbling, for questioning, for turning around and saying, “Sorry, Jesus, this is too tough I’m going home.” But I think Jesus wanted us to know that being uncertain, messing up, and making mistakes is part of following him. 

This gives me so much hope because if I have to be a good Christian to follow Jesus than I won’t make the cut. 

But most of Jesus’ followers wouldn’t either. 

I think Jesus’ requirements of what makes a good Christian sound more like this:
Come follow me, and try your best to keep in step beside me, but when you fall I’ll be the first to offer you a hand up. 

When I read that I think, “I could be a good Christian.”

Ponder: What do you think it means to be a good Christian? 

Prayer: Jesus, I want to follow you. I know I’ll stumble sometimes but I also know that you’ll be there to give me a hand-up when I need it. Thank you that you never make me feel like I’m not good enough to follow you. Amen.

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When you are feeling overwhelmed this week, remember this

1:08 pm Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
    Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
    or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?

Some days, I wake up and feel overwhelmed by the calendar ahead of me. 

I look at everything I have to do and feel anxious about what I need to get done. And even whether I can do it. 

I’m having one of those days. 

Maybe it’s Monday, maybe it’s that it’s STILL October and I’m all ready for Christmas break. 

I'm not really sure what it is but I know that I’ve found comfort in this verse:
Who else has held the oceans in his hand?

I stumbled across this verse on pinterest last week. I’d read it before, but this time it meant something to me. This time it reminded me of what it feels like to be held by God. 

Shortly, after Xylon was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, there was only way for me to describe God’s presence in my life. I chose to use the word “Held”. 

I didn’t really know how to describe the feeling of being “held by God”. I still don’t. 

My best attempt still falls short: an overwhelming, undergirding, engulfing feeling of being held. Of being safe in the arms of the one who created me, who breathed life into me, who knew me before I was born, before cancer, before...

The last 10 days every time I’ve felt overwhelmed I’ve pulled this bible verse out as a lifeline and reminded myself that if God can hold the oceans in his hands, he won’t let go of me. (tweet this)

When nothing makes sense and life feels hard, the God who knows the hair on my head and the beginning from the end, somehow presses me to his heart, and lets me know it’s going to be okay, and that he has been me holding fast.

Sometimes I think the storms of life can dislodge me from his hands but I’m coming to realise that God even holds the storms of life in his palms. He is that big!

Being held by God hasn’t magically made everything better better but when I’ve cried out for help, I’ve been held, by arms strong enough to hold the ocean. 

Ponder: What bible verses do you cling to you when you feel overwhelmed?

Prayer: God, hold me like you hold the oceans. Amen.(tweet this)

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How to make peace with the ordinary in your extraordinary life

11:47 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 (MSG)

The question comes up fairly often, “Are you going to write a book?”

When people ask this question I know they're talking about a publishing house choosing me to be an author. They’re not talking about the kind of book I offer for free on this blog. 

To be honest being chosen by a publisher to write a book is why I started blogging, but years later it isn't what keeps me blogging.

I've been through the process. About two years ago, a major Christian publishing house approached me and asked me to write a book proposal for them. With a little help from some published friends, and this template from Mary De Muth, I put it together.

Then months later they got back to me. They told me they liked the concept but wanted to hear more about my platform. In publishing speak that basically means how many people do you reach and how many influential people do you know that will help promote your book. 

Well, the truth is my platform is really small, and my group of influential friends and family even smaller, and my interest in fighting my way through to a large platform even tinier than that.

So I sat with my laptop on the desk and I truthfully tapped out the numbers: subscribers, followers, likes. I contacted the few people I knew and asked how they could help me get the word out. Hoping that perhaps someone would come back and say, “I’m best buddies with Oprah”. And I looked at all the responses and thought, “These numbers are not going to get me published.”

And instead of feeling gutted, I felt relieved.

One thing I've learnt about the publishing world is that it doesn't involve tapping out a book and then getting to hold it a year or two later. It involves stepping into the public eye, marketing yourself, marketing yourself, and marketing yourself. And right now I'm not comfortable with that. I like being in the background. I like being the person behind the scenes, not the person on the stage.

I would be lying if I said that seeing something I wrote for sale doesn't excite me. I was able to contribute 5 new devotionals to this NIV Bible for Women recently. Opening the box up with copies a month or so ago and holding them made me feel so proud to have my writing in print. Having my writing alongside the likes Shauna Niequist, Margaret Feinberg, Tsh Oxenreider, Katie Davis and Rachel Held Evans felt pretty good too.
(SIDE NOTE: You can win a copy of this Bible from Brownyn Lea. Simply visit her blog to enter)

I loved holding that Bible in my hand but the truth, that is hard to write, is that right now, I like living small. I enjoy every ordinary day. 

I like my life where I live quietly with just my husband and my dog and friends coming over to share meals. I don't like traveling away from all of this. I find where I am right now is extraordinary. And I am so grateful to be living my life. 

I know a person is not supposed to admit that they like living a small, ordinary life. 
After all aren't we all meant to want to live bigger and better?
Isn't ordinary not good enough anymore? 
Is not life all about how many followers and likes and subscribers I can accumulate?
Am I not meant to be striving “to be better than” and “have more than” everyone who knows me?

Maybe it's because I'm in my thirties now but I feel like ordinary isn't something to be worn with shame, that living simply in arms reach of the ones I love can be holy too. Maybe the holiest thing of all. 

Jesus chose small. He came as a baby. He didn't come as superstar. He chose 12 people. He said, “Love your neighbour.” Jesus showed that small can change hearts and that changed hearts can change the world.

Jesus lived in a way that speaks to every heart that wonders if a small life/ministry/job is enough. (tweet this)


Even as I write this I’m careful because Jesus didn’t only live small, he also embraced large. Jesus spoke to thousands, he fed thousands and he died for billions. 

I love that Jesus wasn’t either/or. He was both/and. He showed that you can live a small, quiet life for him or live big loud life, and both can change the world. 

I also know that the one constant in life is change. And that maybe 3, 5 or 10 years from now this small life I love right now will feel like a cage. Or maybe I will long to be seen and heard.

So I’m not saying, “I’ll never write a book” (and if the opportunity arises to write a book without a platform I'm there) but I’m speaking to anyone who wonders if by choosing not to pursue big things they are somehow missing out or failing at life. 

Listen closely: choosing a quiet life can be just as holy as standing in front of thousands and sharing Jesus.

There is nothing that says choosing an ordinary life means your life will never be extraordinary. The extraordinary life you live might simply be shared with only a handful instead of thousands.

I know it’s not cool to admit it, but here I am. My name is ________, and I like living small. (tweet this)

Ponder: Do you feel called to live a big or small life right now? Are you content with the current size of your life?


Prayer: Let every detail of my life—words, actions, whatever—glorify you. Amen.

**Some affiliate links (to pay for my book addiction) included in this post.

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How to love those who hate you

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Luke 6vs27 love those who hate you
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)

We had been in the American South for a week when we came home to note from our AirBnb hosts:

We have a unique cross-cultural opportunity for you tomorrow evening. Our neighbour is having a big 30th birthday party. 

The cultural part is that it is a pig-pickin’ – a Southern US thing. They have a special outdoor oven to roast a whole suckling pig. 

This is something that is a tradition across the American South for big parties. I asked the neighbour, and you are most welcome. 

The next evening just as the sun set, Xylon and I were met by our hosts, Robert and Nate. Together we opened the little side gate and entered the neighbours yard. All around us conversations happened with drinks in hand, lights were strung between the trees, and the aroma of roast pork made me want to eat. 

Father and son walked us over to the table where pork was piled high and covered with tin-foil. With a practiced hand, Robert selected a variety of cuts of meat for us to try.  

We piled our plates high with sides, each of the neighbours had bought, and started talking to Robert about the new job he was starting on Monday. He was going back to pastor a church after doing a different job for a few years. 

We got chatting about what we believed, about grace, about Jesus. 

“I never really understood grace when I was younger,” Robert spoke slowly, gently. “I remember sitting in church a few years ago and listening to a pastor preach. 
I wasn’t even really listening because once you’ve been a pastor for a while you kind of know where most of the sermons you hear are going.
This preacher was talking about dealing with sin in the church. You know the four steps in Matthew 18:15-17 you need to take if someone hurts you.”

At this point Robert started counting them off against each finger:
“Go and tell him – work it out between the tow of you
If he won’t listen – take one or two others to witness
If he still won’t listen – tell the church
If they refuse to listen to the church treat them as you would an outsider or a tax collector.”

How to love those who hate youAnd then Robert said the words that woke him up that Sunday morning when the preacher spoke them, ‘And you know how Jesus treated Tax collectors!’

Robert shuffled the glass in his hands back and forth and quietly said,You know how Jesus treated Tax Collectors? 
Jesus invited them to walk with him daily, he went over to their house for tea, he ate with them, he embraced them, he lived with them and he loved them. That’s grace.

The conversation moved onto other things, and an hour or so later we walked back over to our room to settle in for the night, but I couldn’t get that story out of my head. 

Like Robert, up until I heard that phrase, ‘And you know how Jesus treated Tax collectors!’ I had always believed that being treated like an outsider or a tax collector was the worst thing that could happen. But what if Jesus meant that last step to be the best thing that could happen?

I wanted to work that into my heart.  

I wanted to be the kind of person who is willing to start over with even the most unrepentant people. 

I want to be the kind of person who is willing to offer God’s forgiving love again (and again and again and again, 77 times over) because that is what Jesus did for me. 

Ponder: What has been your experience of Christians or the church living out Matthew 18:15-17?

Prayer: Jesus, I want to be like you. I want to treat outsiders like you have loved me. Amen. 

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When you need God’s grace even while you doubt his goodness

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

So a few weeks ago I decided to stop being awesome

I decided that instead of killing myself posting 10+ devotionals while trying to prepare for a trip I would take a blogging break. I should be back to my regular posting schedule from 19 October. 

In the mean time I’m sharing a post every week or so with links to some of the stories I’ve loved reading and sharing over the last few months. 

I know how hard it is to see God’s goodness in hard times which I am excited to share these six posts with you today. If you’re going through tough times it’s okay to doubt, to question and to hope (sometimes all three at the same time). 

Your destiny is not to be in pain by Sarah Mae // Because it’s okay to ask “If God is good, why did He let evil into the world? Why did He create Satan?”

The Five Ws and One H of Faith by Amy Sorrells // Because we can learn a lot about God through asking questions 

God gives grace, even when we doubt by Kate Motaung // Because Kate’s story is testimony to the fact that even we’re terrified of the future God gives grace

Meeting Jesus By Mary DeMuth // Because some days I need to be reminded that "Choosing to take the next step even if you feel abandoned by God, is a holy practice."

Cultivate blessing by Micha Boyett // Because sometimes God's blessing looks nothing like we thought it would. 

Making me believe. Again. by Brianna vanderWeide // Because you're not the only one who has ever had a crisis of faith. 

If you’ve read anything that you’ve loved (or written something) you think I would enjoy please share a link in the comments and I'll take a look when I get back. 

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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