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Passionate Grace

Is it Any Wonder They Call it… Amazing Grace – a Ragamuffin Blog

Not Because of Our Righteousness, But Because of Your Great Mercy

Read Daniel 9:1-19

Pray

The Story of Israel

Abraham – Isaac – Jacob

Moses – Exodus – Promised Land

Judges – United Kingdom – Divided Kingdom

Manasseh – He rebuilt worship centers to false gods His father had destroyed.  He burned his son as a human sacrifice to a false god.  His reign was full of brutality and bloodshed – and he led the people to to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.

I know what you are thinking – it is hard to relate to

Story from Jeremiah 42FF

Jeremiah 42:1-16     Vote

Jeremiah 43:1-4

Sin says – I know what’s best for me  –  I will provide for my own needs – I cannot trust God’s provision – I will not trust God’s promises – I will trust what I know and can see and control –

This is represented in our sins – In our addictions we trust our own provision for our needs rather than God’s.  In our fear we doubt God.  In our lusts for entertainment and sex and money and power and esteem we doubt that God is enough to satisfy

At its root, Sin is not the surface actions of idol worship and pornography addiction – at its core the heart of sin is the same for every sinful action.  Namely It is the rejection of the person and provision of God.  Sin is the exaltation of self – and reliance on self (Pride) and the rejection of God himself because it does not believe that God is enough to satisfy our longings (Unbelief)

Pride and Unbelief – two sides of the same coin

Daniel is reflecting on the long history of his people and their unbelief that has led to this place.  And as he prays from his heart he expresses at least 3 truths – three realities – about himself and God. 

Now the people in the bible were not perfect people by any stretch but scripture says these things were written for our learning.  And I think we have some valuable awakening insights from Daniel’s prayer.

 

  1. He admits guilt
    1. Admit – Dan 9:5 – 7a (Though Open Shame)
      1. Pain of Hiding sin – Psalm 32:1-5 – My Story
        1. Quote: “Confession is like a boil finally bursting – painful and relieving.

Receiving forgiveness is like a first breath of fresh sea air for one who has always lived at a garbage dump.”

 

  1. Life of confession
    1. I John 1:8-9 – If we say we have no sin…
    2. James 5:16 – Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

  1. We, Our, Us – 34+ Times – VS 20 “My Sin”
    1. Ezekiel 14:14 – Noah, Job and Daniel Righteous guys
    2. No recorded sin
  • BUT he includes himself
    1. He recognizes himself in light of the righteousness of God
    2. He identifies with God’s people
      1. I Cor 12:26 – If one member suffers, all suffer together

 

  1. APP: In the battle against sin we need to
    1. Admit our own sin
    2. Fight for our brothers and sisters
  • Life at GHC – Excited – Culture of Confession – Turn faces to God – Mentor – Friend Protege

 

  1. He agrees that God’s actions against the nation are righteous – Dan 9:12, 14
    1. We live in a time when the culture and even the church at times does not appreciate nor believe in the idea of a God who causes calamity – CS Lewis Megaphone

 

  1. Not every calamity is judgement for sin (Job) but every calamity is superintended by God to accomplish what he desires – and for those who are his children every circumstance that you experience will be made to serve God’s good purposes for you and we are called to rejoice in our trials trusting that God is at work in them. Romans 8:28 and James 1

 

  1. Sometimes, as in this case, the calamity is due to sin.

 

  1. I believe if we lose the Holy, Awesome and fearsome righteousness of God – and take away the justice of his judgements we not only do damage to his holiness we destroy the meaning of Grace

 

  1. Daniel here agrees that the calamity is from the Lord and that the Lord is righteous to have brought it.

 

  1. The purpose of the Lord when he brings correction for sin – Amos 4:6-13

 

  1. We do well in the midst of calamity to turn our faces to Lord and say “Lord – what are you saying to me in this? – Lord – what are you teaching me? Lord – try me and see if there is any grievous way in my and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

  1. Daniel appeals to the mercy of God in light of his unrighteousness– Dan 9:17-18
    1. ILL: Proverbial hand in the cookie jar – Lord Paddles – Exiles – Try to put cookie back together

 

  1. We are NOT at any time from cradle to grave, from unbelieving to justified to glorified – at no time are we saved by works.

 

  1. We in the church get it at conversion —– BUT once believers we often revert back to works. 
    1. ILL: The enemy lands a haymaker and some sin you thought you were over levels you – How do you react?  I’ll fix it – Rocky  YOU CAN’T DO IT
    2. Paul Addresses this in Galatians 3:1-5

QUOTE:  Jerry Bridges Transforming Grace: So what kind of bankruptcy did we declare? To use the business analogy, did we file under chapter 7 or chapter 11? Was it permanent or temporary? I suspect most of us would say we declared permanent bankruptcy. Having trusted in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, we realized we could not add any measure of good works to what He has already done. We believe He completely paid our debt of sin and secured for us the gift of eternal life. There is nothing more we can do to earn our salvation, so using the business analogy, we would say we filed permanent bankruptcy.

However, I think most of us actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to heaven, but we do think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.

After we become Christians we begin to put away our more obvious sins. We also start attending church, put money in the offering plate, and maybe join a small group Bible study. We see some positive change in our lifestyle, and we begin to feel pretty good about ourselves. We are now ready to emerge from bankruptcy and pay our own way in the Christian life.

Then the day comes when we fall on our face spiritually. We lapse back into an old sin, or we fail to do what we should have done. Because we think we are now on our own, paying our own way, we assume we have forfeited all blessings from God for some undetermined period of time. Our expectation of God’s blessing depends on how well we feel we are living the Christian life. We declared temporary bankruptcy to get into His kingdom, so now we think we can and must pay our own way with God. We were saved by grace, but we are living by performance.

  1. Daniel, of all people, could have said I come to you because I’ve got it together, but he doesn’t and he gets it right when he says “We don’t present our pleas to you because of our righteousness.” And then he adds “But because of your great mercy” Dan 9:18b

 

  1. Conclusion – 3 potential responses

 

  1. MERCY!! Daniel is in exile his homeland destroyed – Some of you are tempted to say with those who fled to Egypt – What Mercy?  God has allowed….  How can you say God is merciful? 
    1. Hasn’t the Lord be longsuffering towards you? Has not the Lord treated you better than you deserve?  Has not the Lord patiently pursued you and warned you and wooed you?  Why not surrender to His mercy right now?  Why not lay down your arms – acknowledge your guilt and run to his grace?

 

  1. Mercy… I’ve gone too far – I’ve failed too many times – I don’t deserve his mercy. I acknowledge my guilt but until I get it together I can’t look him in the face.
    1. Billy Graham and Tullian Picture
    2. True Repentance springs out of trusting His promises
      1. God loves to restore – Jeremiah 29:10-14 –
      2. Psalm 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping my tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.   In His chastening he is treating us like beloved sons
      3. Psalm 103:10-12 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
      4. HOW does he do this? By placing your sin – its curse – its condemnation – its judgement – its darkness – its defeat and despair through the hands and feet of the Lamb on the Cross – Jesus Christ.  “All we like sheep have gone astray we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
      5. Are you looking for hope? Are you looking to be restored?  Do you long for more transformation into the image of Jesus?  There is but one way and it is by faith in the grace, mercy and kindness of our Savior that he demonstrated so magnificently at the cross and that he shows you in his day by day mercy towards you.  Lift up your face to Him and in humility freely acknowledge your sin and in faith embrace HIM as life.  Humility and Faith two sides of the same coin.  Faith in His Grace is the only solution to sin.

 

  1. Last response – Billy Graham ended almost every sermon he preached with these words “Just as I am – without one Plea!! But that thy blood was shed for me and that you bid me come to thee – Oh Lamb of God I come.

 

Featured post

An Offering Message

Scripture

James says every good gift, every perfect gift comes down from above from the Father.  Moses charges us to serve the Lord with Joyfulness and gladness of heart because of the abundance of all things.  James says to set our hopes on God – who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

Thankful

How often do we just stop and consider, with a heart of thanksgiving, the amazing gifts of God.  He has packed our world full of joy.

CS Lewis says:   “Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.  These pure and spontaneous pleasures are patches of “God-light” in the woods of our experience”

This week I experienced “God-light”

  • as I drove over the pass – in awe again at the beauty and wonder of his creation.
  • As I walked in the early morning in Seattle into Specialties and order fresh coffee and an amazing blueberry cream-cheese croissant.
  • I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing Thai dinner I was served packed with flavors and spice
  • As I arrived home my 7 year old Andrew called me on the phone – “Dad – where are you? Can I see your car yet? I’m going to my friend’s house but I want to see you so I’m not going yet.”  Delight in my children – delight in my wife’s kiss – the delight of home and its comfort.

It truly is His Breath in our lungs and every breath gives us a chance again to see the gracious, generous, and beautiful hand of God towards us if we have eyes to see.

But there is more….

Jonathan Edwards says:  “Fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

If we gaze up the beams of light of earthly joys – we will see radiating in dazzling brilliance – the one in whom all our longings are satisfied – the one for whom our souls crave – Our glorious Savior, our friend, our God – Jesus Christ.   In Him we stand Holy and Blameless before the Father.  In Him we have been adopted as Sons.  In Him we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our sins.   He has lavished grace upon us.  He has chosen us in His love.  He has granted us an inheritance – Imperishable, Undefiled and Unfading.   He is our inheritance – He is the light from which all other joys come.

The Psalmist says: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  And  “You are the fountain of life. In your light we see light”

When we see Him – we give not out of repayment or duty but because he has become our joy and light.

Featured post

Global Warming, Climate Change & Polar Bears – Oh MY! 10 Reasons to Doubt Anthropogenic Climate Change

  • We graph 0.9 degrees of temperature change like the recent stock market performance held upside down.

Stock Market

  • We also graph the world as going from ice cold blue to inferno from hell using the same less than a degree change measurement.

Nasa temp change

  • Money, power, politics and social standing are all aligned to suppress any doubts or questions with a vehemence usually reserved for “round-earthers” in the dark ages.

flat-earth

  • We use “global temperature” records from 1881 to 2018 as if the data is equivalent and has been collected for 137 years with the same precision, profligate measuring stations, and zealot-like passion of a comic-con attendee who wins best costume.

Comic con

  • We treat 137 years as if it is a good sample size of world temperature history
  • We give tacit acknowledgment that we don’t really have great records back to 1881 so we narrow our sample size to 30 years 1951-1980 because as everyone knows the 60’s and 70’s were when normalcy reigned on the planet – just ask any Woodstock attendee.

Dancers in GG Park 	April 20, 1969   sheet 277	frame 36

  • Climate-change modelers have all the credibility of Sean Spicer defending “Covfefe” as a secret message and a track record of accuracy that rivals John Hagee’s 4 Blood Moons predictions.

convfefe

  • The incessant drumming mantra of “97% scientific consensus” that the earth is warming as if that is the same as saying 1) The earth is warming because of traffic congestion in Seattle 2) That the warming is unnatural  3) The rate of warming is alarming and we must increases taxes immediately and dramatically so we can improve school funding thus creating more duped subjects who will mindlessly surrender freedom for the greater good  4)  That we are hurtling over a precipice where both coasts are erased in cataclysmic tsunami dubbed “The Revenge of the Polar Bears” by post-apocalyptic survivors (though the loss of both coasts might be a win in the long run)

polar-bear-revenge

  • We state that there is between a .77 and 1.1 degree increase in global temperature over the arbitrary baseline of the average temperature of 1951-1980 and then acknowledge in the fine print that any given year is probably accurate within .50 degrees.
  • This makes Bernie Madoff look like Will Ferrell in a figure-skating competition when compared to the scale of charade governments are trying to pull off– and politicians everywhere are smiling all the way to the bank.

Will Ferrell

NOTE:  I realize that neither the alarmist graphs and potentials nor the suppression of  opposing arguments mean that the anthropogenic climate change proponents are wrong, but it is suspect when there appears to be an agenda to only see one possibility from the data, particularly when the subject is this complex and the complete failure of our models given current assumptions to predict future results with anything resembling accuracy.  I do believe normalizing the 60’s and 70’s is solid evidence that we are on the wrong track. 🙂

https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/

http://www.businessinsider.com/nasa-scientists-dispute-climate-change-2012-4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record

 

Featured post

More Gas Tax Coming Your Way Washingtonians?

The esteemed Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, just 3 years ago said, “Transportation pollution paying for transportation solutions. It’s not our children’s lungs that should be burned. It should be polluters.”

http://komonews.com/…/gov-inslee-wants-new-tax-to-fund-12-b…

This resulted in a 12 cent per gallon tax increase that was phased in over 2 steps – one in 2015 and one in 2016. This “polluters fee” increased what the state takes from each gallon of gas from 37 cents to 49 cents and resulted in an estimated 7 BILLION dollars in increased revenue projected over the first 12 years.

No automatic alt text available.

Let’s break down the Governor’s quote above.

The Governor would like to demonize transportation polluters. The term makes you think maybe there is a gang of dystopian marauders roaming the roads of Washington hauling steaming piles of nuclear waste and dumping them on children’s playgrounds. These villainous criminals should be “burned” rather than allowing our “children’s lungs” to be “burned” any longer. Given the incredible ability of this nefarious group to target “the Children” with their lung-burning toxic waste, one would think hanging would be in order rather than a piddly extra 12 cents. Of course, the governor does not have such a gang in mind – he has you in mind. And hopefully, himself – as he and his wife are chauffeured in different gas guzzling Chevy Suburbans. The good news is the 7 billion dollars will be used to fix bridges in the state (I assume the bridge over the fill here in town is going to be vastly improved) which will, I presume, solve the outbreak of children’s lung issues in the state.

https://www.opb.org/…/why-washingtons-green-governor-is-ch…/

The 12 cents per gallon taxed passed and has been fully in place for almost 18 months. That’s a long time and apparently long enough that the beneficent Inslee feels it is long past time to do more to thwart the driving designs of polluters everywhere.

Inslee has just proposed a new “carbon tax” on carbon emissions producers. The estimated end result is an additional 19 to 20 cents per gallon for the consumer plus an estimated 5% increase in your electrical bill. Inslee says these “modest” increases will be used to study and expand “clean energy” options… well at least half of the money will be used for that. The rest .. um… floodwaters… and other stuff.

Additionally, Inslee is proposing that this “modest increase” once enacted be raised annually at 3.5% OVER the rate of inflation.

http://www.king5.com/…/gov-inslee-unveils-car…/281-506575616

This proposal if enacted would raise the state portion of a gallon of gas to 69 cents and the total cost per gallon for taxes including the federal tax to 87 cents. I personally use about 28 gallons a week which means that amount I would need to budget just for TAXES on my gas would be $110 per month.

Gas today at our local Safeway is $2.72 – currently 67 cents of which is tax – gas would be $2.05 per gallon if we had no tax.
This means we are currently taxed nearly 33% on gasoline. This is BEFORE Inslee’s proposal to add 20 cents a gallon. With that tax we would be paying 43% sales tax on gas… Imagine if we just paid the sales tax rate we pay on everything else 7.9%… but then  the children’s lungs…. sigh …

This is still America – you can and should contact your legislature and the governor’s office. But will you?

Featured post

Speaker for the Dead

Many of you know Bob Smith – somehow it has been 7 years since he passed away – If you didn’t know him he was a great and dear friend and I miss him….

I had the honor of speaking at his funeral and I thought I would share my comments from that today in memory of him and in hopes that even now God can use his death for your good.
“I want to thank DiAnna for the opportunity to speak today, though I’d rather be doing almost anything else rather than speaking at the funeral for my dear friend Bob Smith.  Two weeks ago I was in the Tri-Cities with Bob doing our regular bargain shopping trip and if you had told me then that I would not see him again – that he’d be gone 4 days later – I could not have imagined it.  When DiAnna called me Thanksgiving morning with the news, I accused her of joking with me for 5 minutes before she finally convinced me that she wasn’t.   The realization brought me to my knees.  I was telling my wife, Christie, that I had imagined losing her or losing my parents and what that would feel like – but I just never thought of losing Bob.  He was so full of life – wasn’t he?  How can Bob be gone?
In speaking today I have a couple of purposes.  Those of you here today are here because in some way Bob’s life touched yours – and this is an unexpected and shocking loss.  You’re grieving.  We’re grieving… And I want to be with people who knew and loved Bob – I want to mourn his loss with you and celebrate his life.  I want to honor and pay my respects to this man whom we all valued for all that he was.  Many of you have posted your comments and memories about Bob on Facebook.  My wife and I wept together as we watched so many of you change your profile picture to a picture of Bob.  Thank you for sharing – there is great comfort in grieving and remembering together.   So for the next few moments I hope you are comforted as I share some of my memories about Bob.
Taking stock of a life and trying to summarize its significance and meaning – I’ve discovered the last few days – is not an easy thing to do.  How do you measure a man?  How do you express how all the little mundane routine things of life measured up to something huge – to something precious and valuable?  Life just happens – relentlessly the days pass and rarely do we try to take stock of what it all means – we are just living.
I remember when I moved to Moses Lake about 6 years ago, remarking or really complaining to my wife that I had no friends.  Not close ones.  I knew and enjoyed lots of people but not anyone who really knew me well – and still liked me anyway.  I met Bob my first week working at Genie – in the materials department.  David Dyer was our supervisor and needed volunteers for an overtime Saturday project – I volunteered because I needed the money and Bob volunteered … well because Bob was crazy about overtime.  I remember a few weeks into Genie David asked Bob and me again if we would work overtime – Bob of course immediately said yes and Dave turned to me and I hesitated.  I was like “I’ve just worked a 55 hour week I really don’t want to come in tomorrow” and was about to voice that sentiment when Bob, sensing what I was about to say, interjected with – “Oh yeah Ken will be there too –  Come on Ken it will be fun.”  As if cleaning up outside the high bays at Genie was the best thing he could think of doing on a Saturday.  As soon as Dave left, Bob scolded me.  “You looked like you were going to say ‘No’ you can’t do that.  It is a good thing I was here to save you.”   Ummm….. Thanks Bob….
But on that first Saturday project it was fun, and while I didn’t know it at the time I was finding the friend I was longing for.   Bob struck me at the time as smart and likable as we discussed money management and investing, which was to have a major impact on my life.  But he also struck me as more than a little eccentric.  I mean who has 200 jars of peanut butter?  And I’d never seen anyone get so excited about 99 cent cheese.  Who pours cayenne pepper in their eyes – on purpose anyway?
Very early on Bob invited me and my family over for dinner.  My wife asked me about him and I said…. “Well, he’s this outrageous, crazy guy who says some things that are a little shocking, but you know they invited us so…  It’ll be okay.   And it was okay.  And then he invited us over again the next week.  Which we thought was strange, but we went again.   Then he invited us over again and we saw a pattern developing and decided we better have them over.  I had said I wanted a friend – a close friend – but I hadn’t ever considered how that happened.  Bob taught me that friendship – deep friendship rather than casual – involves investing time in each other.  It is not our cultural norm to be in each other’s homes on a very regular basis.  Home is our retreat – the world stays out and when someone breaks that barrier we often think of it as an intrusion.  Bob taught me that deep friendships are formed when we let people into our personal spaces and by investing time in each other’s lives.
And he invested in many of your lives as well.  Tom Cox, Bob and I made 150 pounds of Thai food over the course of 2 days – Making vanilla will Dan Delano – going to the movies with John Gamble – he spent a lot of time with several of you in weight training.  And Bob appreciated each of you.   Even though I have been gone from Genie for over 2 years, it is almost as if I never left because Bob kept me up to date on everything going on.  If I could replay all the things Bob has said to me about you over the years I know you would feel how much he appreciated you.  I can’t mention all of you, but I do want to say specifically to Tom Cox how much he appreciated your friendship and partnership at work.  He really cared for you and respected you.  I know he would have trusted you to fill his shoes as difficult as that must be for you.  And Bob Rogers I don’t know you like I know Tom, but I feel like I’ve got to know you through Bob.  He very much appreciated, enjoyed and respected you and your leadership as his boss.  Each of you made an impact with Bob as he made one with you.
Bob had a great sense of humor and lighting quick wit, and if you didn’t get offended you never laughed so much as when you were with Bob.   I’m sure everyone in here has a Bob story.  Some of my favorites include the ball-kicking story, the Ben-Gay story–yes I know about that–the raisin story (which is really my story but Bob made it funny and made me tell it to every person at Genie) , the theater story – and over time we can share each of our stories with each other in memory of Bob.  I want to share one story about Bob that seems to capture his way with people.  Bob could say things to people that if I said them they would take me outside and beat the heck out of me.  I think Bob could get away with it because he always said things without malice.  So around Christmas time Bob made me go to Walmart with him to look for deals.  I really didn’t want to go to Walmart and who does around Christmas time, but I went.  And it was packed with people and I found myself getting increasingly irritated.  As we were walking down the candy aisle the lady in front of me stopped and there was no way to get around her since the aisle was so crowded.  Then the guy behind me rudely said “why don’t you guys get out of the way – your blocking my path.”  As if we could just magically move out of his way.  I was about to tell this guy exactly what he could go do with himself when Bob grabbed the front of my shirt and ducked down in front of me hiding his face and said, “Ken hide me from the mean man.  Where’s your Christmas spirit Sir?  Ma’am is that your husband?  Is he a jerk?”  I hung my head in embarrassment and tried to hide myself.  But you can probably guess what the “mean man” did… he laughed.  No way in a million I could have pulled that off, even if I wanted to.  But Bob could lighten the mood and confront the issue without being angry.  He understood and accepted that people are not perfect and was somehow able to sympathize with their frustration.  On my last trip with Bob last Friday, my van was filled and overflowing with over $1000 of groceries and guy just pulled out right in front of me and made a U-turn.  I had to slam on the brakes and I was instantly angry.   As the guy passed us he knocked on his head saying “sorry my bad.”  My attitude was like “Yeah – your bad”  but Bob leans OVER MY SEAT and waves at the guy and says “no problem, it’s okay” with a huge smile.  It was not fake – it came out of him spontaneously.  I wish I had more time with him just to have that trait rub off on me.
Bob was unusually genuine.  Most people have a least some level of façade they are maintaining.  But with Bob, he was pretty much what you saw.  Bob told me he only got drunk one time, but he wasn’t any less inhibited – he stayed exactly the same.
There are a lot of traits you could list about Bob – hard-working, funny, smart, family man, loyal, easily delighted, enthusiastic, extroverted, faithful, but I think the one that will stick with me the most was his ability to encourage me and make me feel valuable.  When I was feeling down after being laid off at Genie, Bob was constantly calling me to check on how I was doing.  And even in my new position at Bank of America I have at times felt overwhelmed, but Bob just consistently encouraged me to hang in there and gave great advice on dealing with obstacles there.
There is one other part of Bob I cannot help but share – I know he would want me to.  As you know Bob had a blunt way of speaking at times.  Not necessarily polished.  And I think if he were able to tell me he would say “don’t pull any punches here, Ken – I want my friends to hear this.”  So as much as I can I want to honor how I think Bob would like this said…   Death is not just a realty for Bob.  Every single one of us in this room will die.  The Bible says “It is appointed to all men once to die and afterwards to face the judgment.”   That is a stark reality.  There is no escaping it as much as we might like to.  And to add insult to injury the manner and timing of our inevitable deaths is an unknown.   It could be in an instant and while we are young like Bob.  We could be old and senile.  It could be cancer or an accident.  We don’t know.   The manner of Bob’s death and his youth should make us think about our own mortality and what we will say to God at that judgment.
Bob was not a particularly religious man.  In fact he bore some severe scars from religion.  Bob also knew he wasn’t perfect and despite the honor we are rightfully giving him for the life he lived, I think we call all agree that he had his flaws.  And so do each of us.  “Flaws” is not blunt enough – failures – sin – evil.  When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving Day I guarantee he did not walk up to God and say, “Hey, let me in – I never did a thing wrong – I am perfect.”  Nor did he say “Well I did my best God and I think if you weigh the good things I have done against the bad things I have done – it should come out ok.”  Now that is what is commonly believed.  And that may be true in comparison to other people, however that answer – “I was a good person” – the Bible says will get you sent straight to Hell.  Bob made me say it.  And I long for you to hear it and receive it.
Jesus said “I did not come for the righteous (the people who think they are good), I came to bring sinners to repentance.”  He said, “I did not come for those who don’t need a doctor, I came for the sick.”  So please stop thinking you are going to make it to heaven because you are good – you aren’t good enough and if you think you are Jesus says “I didn’t come for you.”  When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving, his answer to why he should be in heaven was –  GRACE.   Grace…. Grace is when you are given something you don’t deserve.  And grace was poured out for you on the cross two thousand years ago when Jesus who was God came down from heaven as a man and poured out his life’s blood that you might be forgiven.  It is HIS perfection – not yours that qualifies you for heaven.  If you will humble yourself enough to confess your sin and your need of grace.  The Father is waiting with open arms to receive you, just as he received Bob here on this earth and in heaven 9 days ago.  It doesn’t matter how bad you have been – Where your sin is great, his grace overflows cleansing you of all impurity.  Only by receiving that grace can a man as imperfect as Bob or as sinful as me stand in the presence of God – accepted and forgiven.  I hope that you will not let his opportunity of Bob’s death and the truth of this message be lost or forgotten.  I would be happy to talk to you anytime if you have more questions or want to pray.
In conclusion I would like to talk to Bob’s family.  To DiAnna’s parents – God put your daughter with you for perhaps the most difficult thing she has faced.  God certainly knew Bob would die and he prepared your home and your hearts to comfort DiAnna though this time.  To Bob’s Mom and Steve – I am very grateful to have come to know you through the trips over to Seattle that we made.  I know think were rough for a while especially after Bob’s dad died, but I know that Bob loved you and he knew you loved him.  Thank you for your words to me yesterday on what I meant to Bob.  I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Mercedes, Alexis and Jag – Thanks for sharing your Dad with me – he was a great man and a treasured friend and I hope I can help as much as possible with his loss.  It is okay to cry and to grieve and you miss him always.  He loved each of you very much and he always wanted to show you that.  Remember him coming to your soccer games and the gifts he gave you and the one on one time you got to spend with him this year.  It meant a lot to him.
DiAnna – Bob was so excited about the marriage group he was in with you this year.  He talked about it all the time.  He even skipped movie night with me to be at it.  Bob met his match in you.  And you met your match in him.  I know you will grieve this loss for a long time to come and no matter how long we live there will be a scar.  But I know we both would say that as painful as this time is – the loss would have been greater if we had never known Bob.  Please lean on us.  Bob’s friends are your friends.   And we are here for you in whatever way we can help.
And to Bob – Can’t wait to see you again Buddy.”

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But God Sent His Own Son…

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“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

“He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all”

I had one of those awful dreams one has from time to time where someone you love dies. This time it was my son, Benjamin – I woke up literally in the throes of grief. It was visceral, raw, heart-rending. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about – every once in a while a dream is so real it engulfs you.

I woke up in tears and God says –

This is how you are loved. I gave up my son so that you might be with me. What more must I do to prove my love for you?

How casually we look at the cross! How easily we turn it into a sentimental “precious moment” suitable for the living room or our necks.

But God’s son was “pierced for our transgressions” he was “crushed for our iniquities” it was through his death that we can have peace with God and be healed.  God sent his Son knowing the agony – knowing the pain.

God intentionally endured the “searing loss” of his only son so that through Him, I and all who would just turn and look to him for life – can have the joy of basking in the Father’s presence without fear and without shame.

“I need no other argument – It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.”

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Fleeting

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The head is struck
A flash, a flicker, a flame
Illumination, heat, beauty
A beat
Nothing

The heart awakens
A beat, a beginning, a being
Meaning, passion, pursuit
A beat
Nothing

Let me not squander nor misuse
This briefest breath – this second’s song
And grant that I might firmly choose
To trust, though weak, that He is Strong

And when on Jordan’s banks I spy
This moment wains and death steals nigh
Let this flicker flame and shine with might
Reflecting Him the Brilliant Light.

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Grace – a Poem

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Mount Morality's slopes are too steep
They've been the death of many
To Mount Calvary will I fly
And there be rescued by my Savior's strength.
The Law's demands I strive to keep
But only find despair I reap
I try again my case to plead
Brought to my face in desperate need

Then the Gospel clear and sweet
Comes with power and blood-stained relief
By Sovereign Grace and Power untold
I'm brought with Joy into my Shepherd's fold

He now is all, my song, my life
Because of His great Sacrifice
Though in this Life I often Fail
His grace upholding will prevail.
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5 Things We Could All Do to Support our Teachers, Students and Community

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All of us can see things we would like to be different in Moses Lake – reduced violence and drugs, better jobs and pay, more restaurants and shopping (Olive Garden and Winco anyone?). As a society, we have become so dependent on government to initiate and determine change that we have forgotten that we live in a country that (for now) recognizes our inalienable rights to be free. However, if we fail to avail ourselves of this freedom – if we fail to invest ourselves with our time and finances to create the community we would like to have, we will not only not have the community we want, but we will also lose the freedom that has long been cherished in this country. I’ll be the first to admit that I have felt powerless to change anything. I’ve had the attitude of “well – I guess that’s how it is.” I care – things seem off – but I don’t know what to do. Maybe you are in the same spot. Continue reading “5 Things We Could All Do to Support our Teachers, Students and Community”

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The Solution for Shame in the Satisfaction of God

Intro:

Introduced to this church via Bob Smith –

Review Series – Beginning to End

Communion with God – is the great end for which we are made – Philippians 3:8-9

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Continue reading “The Solution for Shame in the Satisfaction of God”

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God of the Ordinary

If I could just have the passion and wisdom of John Piper, the fortitude and exegetical prowess of John MacArthur, the practical insights of Paul Tripp, the spiritual depth of Larry Crabb, the mind and theological grasp of Michael Horton, the thunder of Paul Washer, the grace of Brennan Manning, the knowledge of Tim Keller and the ministry reach of Billy Graham…Then…Oh then I would truly be satisfied….  And God would Really love me…
Or
Maybe
Probably not…
But maybe…
God uses ordinary people
Maybe God loves sinners
Maybe my chronic measuring of myself is a detriment to any ministry and hinders my sense of the extraordinary love of God for me.
And maybe the stamp of approval on my life will not be earned either by my actions or results but has been bought for me by His Son on the cross – Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me..

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Things I Hated about my Fundamentalist College Experience

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1) During my first summer break I stayed in the dorms and attended a movie at the local theater. There was a “spy” at the theater who reported my nefarious activity to the Dean of Students who called me to his office. He asked me to admit whether or not I had committed the said offense. I readily said I had and that school was out. He proceeded to explain to me that truly spiritual and God-honoring students followed the rules of the school whether the school was in session or not. And that he had had higher hopes for me.

2) During a beginning of the year chapel session, a team of students that had traveled and sung together over the summer were asked to share. They explained that they had become friends over the summer and played the song “Friends are Friends Forever” by Michael W Smith to close out their chapel service. (Here is a link in case you are unaware of this death metal song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ped1jYLFtkA). This song was so strongly considered evil rock music – that the dismissal of the students from chapel was stopped and a speech given the apologized for the sending out of that group of students as the could not have done the Lord’s work as evidenced by the evil music they had chosen to play at the end of the chapel service. As I walked away from that service vowing to myself to find a way never to return, I walked through the admin building and a professor was talking to another professor and vigorously celebrating the bold stand and defense of righteousness that had been made by the administration member who had condemned the students.

3) So rigid were the beliefs and so desperate were they that not one iota of the perfect theology they had be modified or lost, that many of my classes largely consisted of 40, 50, 60-year-old notes read verbatim sometimes off of purple mimeographed copies. I took out student loans for this opportunity.

4) My primary professor from whom I took nearly half of my classes on the study of God was extremely intimidating. He prided himself on hard tests and if you made the slightest noise or caused the slightest distraction in his class – his lecture would pause and he would stare intently at the perpetrator for what seemed an interminable length of time. During this time, I, and I assume everyone else, would keep their head down desperate to avoid eye contact. Sometimes the lecture would pick up as if nothing had happened, sometimes a lecture to the student would ensue, and sometimes the prof would storm out abruptly. This was my teacher of theology.

5) Another professor had just joined the staff after an absence and he prided himself, he told us, in being an extremely difficult grader on papers. In fact, he said many of you should probably not even try as we would just receive an “F” for our efforts. I took it as a challenge and typed out 4 pages (of a 12 page paper) and brought them to the prof to see if they were satisfactory to him. I had worked hard on them and was proud of them. I went with my friend who also wanted to see if this professor would approve. The professor condescended to read it and said nothing as I waited – then without a word took a black sharpie and wrote “clean fill” on the bottom of my paper and left. I asked my friend – “What is “clean fill?”. He informed me that it was clean fill dirt – ie without substance or merit.

6) I had come to school with some theological convictions – these were not appreciated by some and so for most of my tenure at the school people – many who had never talked to me – would chant in a sing-song voice – “Ken preaches heresy” I know this was meant as a joke and I tried to not let it bother me – but I hated it and felt it undeserved but had no opportunity to defend myself.

7) I was in my room listening to some head banging music by a group called Glad. The song was “Amen” you can enjoy it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdOIY3KH0nI It is a 70-fold “Amen.” My roommate came in, shut it down and said it was against God because it had repetition and so it was evil. I had the presence of mind to read Psalm 136 in the KJV as a defense that God was not against repetition  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…  The roommate stuck to his guns and insisted it was wrong and I should not listen to it and that the Bible can do what it wants, but that doesn’t mean I should do it.

This is a sampling of stories. A sampling of the culture I was immersed in for 5 years. These are not one-offs – they were my routine experience. This is not to say there was nothing I enjoyed – I had come to college expecting a “Dead Poet’s Society” experience in the study of God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7OE6bDfM2M Instead I got cold indoctrination with one notable exception – by God’s grace one professor Dr. Myron was kind and encouraged me. Nevertheless, I struggled mightily throughout my college years with sexual issues unable to confess them even to myself for the most part – after all if attending “Eraser” or listening to “Glad” put me out of God’s graces what would real sin do. So I learned, for the most part, to play along – to keep my religious mask in place and to try with all my might to conform to the religious expectations placed on me – to gain the approval of them which meant to me the approval of God.

I’m 18 years removed from this place. But I’m still haunted by it. And God has gently taught me grace – taught me his love – but I still default to performance-based Christianity. Human nature does – and I trained it further –

Many of the people above are equally victims of a system of religion. Had I not been so obviously failing – if I had been able to adhere to the code – I would have joined them. But God showed me my true sin and then showed me he loved me in the midst of my sin. That alone has been able to reach me. And I forget it too.  But then God shows me again – “Ken I love you – where your sin abounds grace abounds all the more – as far as the east is from the west so far have I removed your transgressions.” Call me antinomian if you want – but I believe, that while the law can reveal my sin it cannot change me. It is only by grace – when I see the love of God given for me APART from my performance, DESPITE my failures – only then is my heart set free to love like HE loves.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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Temporary Tax Cuts? Horrible for the Middle Class?

Have you heard that the tax bill is “permanent” for corporations and “goes way up after 10 years” for the middle class and there is “no tax relief for the middle class” in the bill? I just read articles this morning from the New York Times, Washington Post and US Today stating these exact things. I want to show you why this is dishonest journalism.

1) There is a rule in the legislature that limits the amount a bill can increase the deficit both by time and dollars. The congressional budget office forecasts what a bill is projected to add to the deficit – in the case of the tax bill it is projected that it will add 1.5 trillion to the deficit. (by the way I don’t think economists can project the resultant economy from a significantly reduced corporate and personal rate accurately over the next 10 years as it has never been done before – so I give little credence to the 1.5 trillion added in deficit spending estimate) This deficit amount is more than would be allowed under current rules IF if extended more than 10 years. The Republicans are not trying to screw the little guy in order to help corporations – they literally cannot make the middle-class tax cuts permanent under current rules. So they are implementing them for as long as they can which will establish a new baseline and allow them to be made permanent in the future – just as the Bush tax cuts were made permanent under Obama. When news agencies report this 10-year expiration window without showing the reason and the more than likely ultimate extension of these cuts and are telling half-truths and failing to serve the public honestly. And believe me they know what I have written above – so it is intentional duplicity. That’s frustrating to me.

2) You have heard almost certainly from almost every news source that you rate goes way up in the middle class after 10 years. From the above paragraph, you can see the half-truth they are telling to say that – but then they say there is no relief for the middle class in the bill – it all goes to the rich and corporations. Do you see the lie here? In 10 years (if there are no extensions to the tax relief) your taxes will revert to as they are now – which they are saying will be a huge increase to your taxes. It can only be a huge increase to your taxes if the bill is in fact significantly reducing your taxes over the next 10 years because at the end of ten years it would just go back to as it is. Again this is a very frustrating deliberate manipulation by the press.

My rule – read source documents or as close to source documents as possible rather than opinion pieces that mascarade as unbiased news reporting

The Trump tax plan: adoption tax credit and conservative economics

Two ways to think about taxes. Everyone should pay a portion of their income (as small as possible) to ensure that defense and infrastructure needs are met or… 
the tax code should be used to press the agenda of whatever the current whim of the US Congress is – ie tax credits.
Tax credits also inflate the cost of the product they are incentivizing or artificially support what would otherwise be a nonviable product.
I am for the elimination of most tax credits (targeted) in exchange for the overall reduction and simplification of taxes for everyone (broad)
Reducing taxes on corporations is NOT a “give-away” for nasty corporations it is an expense reduction to YOUR employer that allows for better margins and increased profitability that benefits you as an employee and as a consumer. Corporations in the US are taxed higher than any other industrialized nation at 35%.
Eliminating a 500 dollar teacher’s credit, or housing interest deductions or electric car credit or student loan interest or state taxes while 1) doubling the standard deduction 2) increasing the child tax credit to 1600 (to offset the loss of the 4000 exemption) 3) lowering significantly the tax rate for nearly everyone 4) eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax 5) Making it much simpler to file (no milage records to keep, no need for most people to itemize) These changes more than offset any loss from tax credits – How does that not make sense?
The sacred “adoption credit” This is a more significant loss because it is such a large credit but here are some questions for all those waxing eloquent on the evils of removing this credit. 1) Why do you believe your neighbor should be required to pay anything via taxes for you to adopt a child? 2) What percent should your neighbor be forced to pay in order for your moral outrage to go down – 100% 75% 10%? 3) What was the cost of adoption before the government began subsidizing it? 4) Why do you believe that funneling your money through the government for adoption is MORE efficient than having your friends and family have more disposable income to aid with the cost of adoption?
A simplified code and reduction in actual taxes paid and removal of special credits for the elite in Washington’s agenda (even those I agree with) is a great proposal regardless of the fact that Donald Trump proposed it.

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