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

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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 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.

 

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Is Justification about Ethnics or Ethics? A Response to Tom Wright What a Difference an “N” makes.

NT Wright

NT Wright is a brilliant NT Scholar and a leading teacher on the New Perspective on Paul. A very simplistic summary of one of the tenets of NPP is that there was no issue in scripture around whether law keeping was the means of attaining salvation. Judaism according to Wright already had grace built in so it could not be a religion of works. Thus the issue in Galatians and Romans on justification is not over whether someone can be saved by doing good works but whether someone must be Jewish rather than Gentile.

NT Wright writes: “In Romans 10.3 Paul, writing about his fellow Jews, declares that they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and are seeking to establish ‘their own righteousness’. The wider context, not least 9.30–33, deals with the respective positions of Jews and Gentiles within God’s purposes – and with a lot more besides, of course, but not least that. Supposing, I thought, Paul meant ‘seeking to establish their own righteousness’, not in the sense of amoral status based on the performance of Torah and the consequent accumulation of a treasury of merit, but an ethnic status based on the possession of Torah as the sign of automatic covenant membership? I saw at once that this would make excellent sense of Romans 9 and 10, and would enable the positive statements about the Law throughout Romans to be given full weight while making it clear that this kind of use of Torah, as an ethnic talisman, was an abuse. I sat up in bed that night reading through Galatians and saw that at point after point this way of looking at Paul would make much better sense of Galatians, too, than either the standard post-Luther readings or the attempted Reformed ones.” http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/new-perspectives-on-paul/

Wright: “virtually whenever Paul talks about justification he does so in the context of a critique of Judaism and of the coming together of Jew and Gentile in Christ.”

I do not disagree with Wright that the Gospel brings together Jew and Gentile. It does.

Eph 2:11-14 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”

It is a significant change from the focus on the chosen people – Jews – to the chosen of all races, nations and people groups. But it should not replace the more significant focus that all Jews and Gentiles fall short of the glory of God and stand in need of salvation apart from works and through the imputed righteousness of God obtained by grace alone through faith alone. Wright seeks to move to the background this main point and foreground the ethnic issue to paraphrase J.I. Packer. I do not believe scripture does this.

I was reading Acts 15 this week and found a passage that relates to this discussion. A debate erupts in the early church as to whether a man must be circumcised to be saved.

Acts 15:1 “But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them”

So it appears that Wright is correct – the question is not “must I adhere to the law to be saved but must I become ethnically a Jew to be saved.” And indeed that is what is first brought up. But the debate does not stay there. As the Pharisees continue to make their case they begin to insist that not only must they be circumcised to be saved (Ethnic) but that it is necessary that believers keep the law of Moses (Ethical, Moral, Performance) to be saved.

Acts 15:5: “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

Peter then address the group and moves the debate beyond the ethnic issue (though that remains) to the larger issue of how anyone obtains salvation.

“And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

When Peter says they are putting the Gentiles under “a yoke…that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” he is not talking about an ethnic issue. Peter is not saying being Jewish is the problem for him – he is saying adhering to the moral requirements of the law of Moses is the problem for him and all Jews and now Gentiles. This is the larger issue the ethnic one reveals.

His solution to the failure of all people Jew and Gentile to be able to keep the law of Moses?

God “cleansed their hearts by faith.” And “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

So the debate begins with the discussion of whether Gentiles must become ethnically Jews but ends on the more significant point how can both Jews and Gentiles who fail to keep the law of Moses be saved. Answer: Grace alone through Faith alone. This is the paramount issue.

Romans 9 on the Free Will of God to Save

Romans 9

The Statement

“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

WHOOOAAAA God …hates???? That would be unjust!!

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!

This must be about something else not about God saving people…

15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

But I thought salvation was based upon my free will….

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

But surely God has mercy on everyone right?

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Well if God is hardening people and saving people without regard to the person and based only on his own will, then it would be immoral of God to hold people accountable for their actions

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

SEE!! I told you!!
*Note Paul does not retract his statement or say “No, No you have misunderstood me.”

Response 1

20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Response 2

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

This passage is amazingly clear that God is the initiator of salvation and HIS will is the decisive will in the salvation of individuals.

The Glory of this truth is that no matter how far you wandered from the Lord, no matter how deeply you have indulged sin God is able to rescue and redeem. And the corollary is no matter how good you imagine yourself to be or how much work you have done to reach God – your strivings are insufficient to move God towards you at all. NO!! If we are to be saved it is by free grace alone. God is the complete Savior or none at all.

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Brief Thoughts on Acts 9

field

The bent of Paul’s heart to rage against God is the same bent of every heart apart from awakening grace.

The need of Paul to be knocked off his horse by the blinding light of the Lord is not a “Paul” need. God must reveal himself or we perish.

The response of faith in Paul once the Lord revealed himself personally to Paul, is the same response everyone has when the Lord reveals himself to you. Faith

Believers are all “chosen instruments.”

“And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem” Paul went to the church where it all started. The place he had approved of the murder of one of its deacons. Paul attended church in a place where he had murdered one of the beloved congregants. What amazing power the Gospel has to reconcile the vilest offender.

The church was multiplied as it Walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

When illness and death struck a church member, Peter an apostle was called by disciples of the Lord, and Peter raised her from the dead. By this means the gospel was spread throughout Joppa and many believed.

Application:

1) Thank you Father, for calling me – saving me, how I sense my desperate and wicked heart apart from Your saving grace. I am unworthy but grace to be a chosen instrument

2) Lord Let me embrace the vile, love sinners, trust the greatness of your call and your gospel as I encounter the broken.

3) Lead my heart to the fear and comfort of the Lord that your name may be magnified in my life.

4) Lord do the necessary miracles to spread your Good News in Moses Lake so that many will believe.

What is the Christian Gospel?

 

 

sunset.jpg

What is the Gospel?

“God is Holy” – God is perfect in all of his attributes – glorious in all that he does. He is set apart – unique – His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He dwells in pure radiant unapproachable light. Nothing and no one can stand in His presence.

“We are not Holy” – We are messed up people. We lie. We cheat. We lust. We steal. We are angry. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We are arrogant. We gossip. We do not honor God. We do not love God.

“The Penalty for Sin is Death” – That’s bad news for everyone reading this, because we are all sinners – God doesn’t weigh our “good” and our “bad.” He declares that if we have ever violated his holy law in one place we stand guilty of violating all of His law and are subject to condemnation. We have violated in many places and our just penalty is eternal death in hell. Don’t let yourself deny this reality. Acknowledge your guilt before an infinitely holy God.

“Jesus Died the Death We Deserve” – Jesus is God in human form. He came to the earth, born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Even though he was God he laid aside the splendors of heaven and became a man and dwelt among us. He humbled himself and died a torturous death on the cross though he himself was innocent. In his death he paid the penalty required for sin – he became our substitute. Though we are the sinful ones, He took our sins on himself. Though we deserve the sentence of death, he died our death in our place.

“God Gives Us Jesus’ Life by Faith and Not by Works” – Not only did Christ’s death pay our penalty, but for all those who receive Him, God gives them the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus. So when we give up trying to prove ourselves good to God and instead acknowledge that we are broken sinners in need of a dramatic rescue – there is hope. God Himself has died for us paying our penalty and by his grace through faith imparts to us his perfection. For all who believe in Jesus stand not condemned not because we are good but because He is and He has given his righteousness by faith.

“Faith is Casting Yourself on the Lord” – As you consider these things – God’s holiness, your sinfulness, sin’s penalty and Jesus’ payment – you will be tempted to think is that really true? Is it really enough that Christ died for me a sinner? I have to contribute something don’t I? I am still tempted by these thoughts even though I have been a Christian for many years. But the truth declared in Scripture stands that salvation comes not to the one who works or is good, but to sinners who cast themselves fully on the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ who died to take away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed him stricken
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
and with his stripes we are healed
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

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:4-5
Now to the one that works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

 

The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light

stevens-drawing

I John 2:8 “Because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shinning.”
There seems to me to be a great chasm between my most holy and righteous works and God’s righteousness. It is a chasm unscalable by my great discipline or willpower or ability. It is infinitely high I cannot get there. The law – the command – that I must get there is not meant to imply that I can, simply that I must. And if I don’t destruction awaits. Continue reading “The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light”

Grace is Practical

light.jpg

You don’t have to have your eyes open very wide to realize there is something horribly wrong in the world. I recently picked up a book given to my oldest son Steven by his teacher – Mrs. Copley. It is titled simply “Night” and the book describes the horrors of a young Jewish boy by the name of Elie Wiesel trapped in Nazi concentration camps. The book describesJewish captives being forced to dig their own graves while Nazi soldiers shot their children and then the parents themselves. Elie had a mentor by the name of Francois Mauriac whom he asked to write the forward of his book describing his experience. Mauriac in attempting to understand what young Elie had to endure wrote,

“Let us try to imagine what goes on in his mind as his eyes watch rings of black smoke unfurl in the sky, smoke that emanates from the furnaces into which his little sister and his mother had been thrown after thousands of other victims.”

The thought is unfathomably awful. Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

How to Love God – Part 2

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How to Love God Part 2

John Bunyan: “When God brings sinners into the covenant of grace, he doth first kill them with the covenant of works, which is the moral law, or ten commandments.”

To sum up yesterday’s post I argued that the main work of the law is to reveal God’s holiness and righteous standard and to then apply that standard of holiness to us in order to show our sinfulness. I proposed that even the command we think of us a softer New Testament command, namely to love, actually comes from the Old Testament and Jesus’ interpretation is even more difficult. I also said that the law of God is not able to change us by itself, but that its main job is to reveal to our hearts our sinfulness and push us to Christ for righteousness that comes through faith.  Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 2”

How to Love God – Part 1

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How to Love God

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-27

We often think of the above text as a New Testament command – a softer summation of the Old Testament laws. But actually the lawyer was quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 1”

Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?

luther

To the extent the Law of God is made attainable with statements like

– do your best and God will do the rest – we not only cheapen what the law says we lose grace in the process.

The law clearly says “your best efforts” are not going to be sufficient – more than that they are only going to serve to condemn you. God is not saying for us to do what we can and whatever we can’t do he will make up the difference. Instead he is saying our best efforts are tainted with sin and instead of calling us to work our way up to him by doing better he calls us to Faith in the Perfect One. Continue reading “Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?”

Every Good Story…

castle

Here is what I have noticed about every story– there must be a plight. There must be a peril to be rescued from – Kirk must have Klingons endangering the Enterprise or there is no story – there is no glory – there is no rescue. Can you imagine Superman flying at the speed of light – shadow boxing – “don’t be afraid – I’m here to save the day” if there were no bad guys – if there was nothing to be rescued from? You would think that guy is crazy. What is he doing? Saved me from what? Continue reading “Every Good Story…”

God’s Will – Man’s Will

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  1. I believe every person who sees the depth of their need and the beauty of Christ will willingly come to Christ
  2. I believe that no one is able or willing to see the depths of their sin or the beauty of Christ unless God reveals it to them.
  3. I believe God reveals a man’s sin and Christ’s beauty to those He calls.
  4. I believe that everyone the Father wills to call will believe
  5. I believe that all who believe choose willingly to do so because God has shown himself as beautiful.
  6. I believe God has good purposes in not revealing Himself as beautiful to every person

6 is probably the least palatable to the church, but it is most clearly stated in Romans 9

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Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation

darkness
Life feels sometimes like I’m wandering in a vast desert with no place to rest.

Sometimes it feels like my life is ebbing way in a hopeless search for satisfaction.

Sometimes all seems dark and it seems I will never find the light. I keep on trying to find my own way out of the darkness because I feel there is no one else I can really trust.

But then I realize I can’t even trust myself because I pursue my own selfish and sinful ends. And though I know my sin harms me I follow it to the gates of death.

To add insult to injury life is so hard. Friends die. Sickness hits. Finances are always a struggle. Parenting. Marriage. I feel often at my wit’s end. Continue reading “Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation”

Is Transformation the Highest End for Which We Were Made?

flowers

If we shine the light too brightly that Christianity is mainly about personal transformation – we create a hierarchy that encourages people’s natural inclination to push their sin underground and pretend to be more than they are. If we, instead, shine the light brightly on the beauty of Jesus – His Holiness – His Compassion – His Glory – His Grace – His Work on the Cross – His Resurrection – His Rescue of Sinful People perhaps we in church would quit our introspective, self-focused, navel gazing, and our mask-wearing, self-deceptive posturing. We could lift our gaze outside of ourselves to worship and glory in a God who loves sinners. We could focus our energies on knowing Him and delivering the same good news we have received to our friends. And then perhaps true transformation would occur as well.

When Being a Good Sailor is Not Enough

sail

The law is like a man in a sailboat with a sailing instruction manual. He knows what proper sailing is – He may even possess a lot of technology to aid him in sailing. But his knowledge and tech cannot move him across the water. Only wind can do that. So we must stop preaching the law for change. We must stop running to the law to make us good sailors. Only the gospel can fill our sails with wind. The grace of the Father in rescuing sinners by the blood of Jesus is the good news – is the gospel. Oh Spirit, breathe your wind in our sails!

Come & Dine With Me

dark-forest

I had this picture come to mind on Sunday while in church.

You remember the scene in the movie Hook with Robin Williams where he has met the Lost Boys and he sits down at the end of a very long day to what he thinks is going to be a glorious meal, but when the lids come off there is nothing. Peter is starving – dying for something to eat, but he can’t see the food.  We are like this sometimes.

Continue reading “Come & Dine With Me”

The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel

At the center of the good news of the gospel is Jesus Christ.

The ultimate benefit of the gospel is not that we can now do good works, or that we won’t go to hell, or even that our sins our forgiven as great as all those things are– the ultimate benefit is Continue reading “The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel”

Marriage & Divorce

20-anniversary

DisclaimerChristie and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage.  It has been good and sweet and difficult and humbling.  Please don’t despair from the happy picture, there are many times it has been ugly.  The statement below is what I have been convinced of from Scripture.  I truly believe that God is able to keep you in your marriage even through extreme difficulty.  

Marriage is a picture of Jesus’ covenant-keeping love for His bride. The radicalness of the love of Christ is pictured many ways – Jesus’ death on the cross for hell-bent sinners being number one.

Continue reading “Marriage & Divorce”

The Cross Speaks

bangkok-church

Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

Fairy Tale Church

owl-post

What if church were a place where…

…people felt the weight of their own sin more than yours
…the undeserved grace of God was experienced so strongly that you were truly loved despite your failures and flaws
…you could confess your faults and reveal all the is ugly about yourself with brutal honesty without fear of rejection or censure
…others celebrate the new creation God is still forming in you
…you were forgiven without hesitation because of your value in Christ
…living unreconciled was not even a thought because of the love of Christ
…others volunteered to help bear your burdens
…people gladly gave their time, their money, their ears (to listen not to fix), their whole lives to serve each other
…true community – genuine relationship were the norm, not the exception
… unbelievers and believers, “bad sinners” and sinning saints were equally received and grace was given without measurement

It begins with you – giving based on what Christ has given you rather than on what the other person deserves.

A real passion for each other and Christ stems from experiencing God’s genuine passion for us. Continue reading “Fairy Tale Church”

The Gospel – Destination to Inception

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1) Jesus is our destination – Knowing Him is our highest good and joy. He is what our souls were designed for and crave. Rom 5:11 Continue reading “The Gospel – Destination to Inception”

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