Sinning but Forgiven

“Christians live in an atmosphere of perpetual forgiveness.” – B.B. Warfield

Read that again. It’s a stunning quote.

It’s Romans 8:1, that you are no longer condemned because you’re in Christ and he was condemned for you.

Your justification is not just for past sins only but for continued sins all life long.

Christians are sinners!  oh cat

How many years I sat in church listening to pastors tell me all the things I needed to do in order to please God. Read the bible, pray, go on a missions trip, serve on the church committee, be a usher, help in the children’s Sunday School. The list grew longer and so did my guilt. I was twisted like a pretzel. I was either self-righteous because I managed to do some of these things, or I felt guilty and depressed because I wasn’t doing enough.

Rubbish!

God in his mercy has shown me otherwise.

God calls me to church every week to receive from him, not do things for him. Why? Because he’s done everything for me! I come in gratitude for everything he has given me in Christ. And he continues to feed me through the worship, the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments.

I’m not saying reading the bible, praying, and going on a missions trip are things to avoid. Not if you do them out of gratitude to God. But if you do them because you feel obligated, or you’re doing them to feel better about yourself, or call attention to yourself, then think again. Those aren’t good motivators. They don’t adorn the gospel. They’re sin!

Our lives must be gospel-centered. We live for God out of gratitude for Christ, and we love our neighbor out of gratitude for Christ.

The minute self inserts itself into the picture, we’re sinning. And that happens every day. That’s why we live in an atmosphere of constant forgiveness, all because of Christ.

How joyful does that make you? Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with a Broken Heart

Contrary to every thing you hear in the media, your life is not your personal possession to do with as you please.

If you’re a Christian, you belong to Jesus. You we were bought with a price – his blood – to no longer serve yourself, but him.

How are you doing with this?

If you’re like me, not so good.  love

I’d rather continue being addicted to myself. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. I’ve been doing it all my life.

I also like burrowing into my world of entertainment – my favorite TV shows, sports, painting, writing and photography. None of those things are sin in and of themselves, but when they push out Jesus in favor of them, then I have a problem.

And I push out Jesus a lot.

I can spend a whole day without thinking about him or talking to him.

I don’t do that with the people I love, but I do it with him.

I don’t keep short accounts of my sins with him either. I tend to bunch them all together at the end of the day, if I remember, and then confess them. When I think about it, that’s pretty stupid and laughable. What I’m doing is just discharging a duty without any heart work, and I know it and so does Jesus.

I’m reminded in the gospels, Jesus was not autonomous. He could have been. He didn’t need help from anybody, he knew who he was and where he was going. And yet he was 100% dependent on his Father, from what to say to people to what to do for them. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’” – John 5: 19

That dependency led him to the cross to die for me and you.

And I’m pierced through the heart.

I admit I fail miserably to live a dependent life. It’s foreign to me. But I don’t despair because I have hope. First, God makes me aware of my sin and depravity and I getting better at talking to him about it. Second, I don’t want to be like that any more and I tell him so. And third, in Christ I am becoming more like him. He’s doing the work he promised to do even if I don’t see it. “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6. And for that I rejoice!

Where are you on this road? Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

How the World Cup Teaches Me about Jesus

Tuesday I watched the US vs Belgium soccer game.

It was intense.

For 90 minutes neither team scored, but they did a massive amount of running across the field.

Belgium had more shots on goal than we did, but because of Tim Howard’s talent, our goalie, we blocked all the shots.

Then came overtime…

That’s when it unraveled.  Brazil Soccer WCup US Portugal

Both teams were exhausted, but nevertheless they rallied for a last ditch effort and with it came the goals.

Things ended up 2-1 in favor of Belgium.

So we’re out, they’re in.

How like life.

It’s in the overtimes of life where you discover if you have what it takes to live with your eyes fixed on the goal and to do it with grace and perseverance.

That’s where most of us fail.

Instead of a fixed gaze, we flounder in our choices.

Instead of grace, we get impatient, or cranky, or downright ugly.

And instead of persevering, we give up.

Just think what would have happened if Jesus hadn’t fulfilled his mission and instead thrown in the towel and walked off the field.

“Looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 ESV

If Jesus hadn’t lived and died for us, none of us would have a chance at a relationship with God.

And none of us would be forgiven of our sins.

But thanks be to God, Jesus stayed the course, set his mind on completing his mission, and was rewarded by a resurrected life which he now lives in heaven.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:11 ESV

It’s a comfort to know that everywhere we fail Jesus has succeeded for us.

He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s commandments for us and died a painful death to pay the price for our sins.

By putting our faith in him, we too can score those perfect goals in life.

Want to play the game right?

 

Does God Like Social Media?

Face-to-face is the original social media.

Conversations that used to take place over a meal or drinks after work is now happening on Facebook, Skype and Tweets.  tweet2

Whatever the delivery system, online gurus say it has to have at least these 4 components to be meaningful:

  1. relevant
  2. practical value
  3. emotion
  4. stories

But even if all these components are there, I’ve noticed something – people are hungry for human interaction, not just cyber chats. They want face-to-face. They need to feel connected to others they can see, hear, touch and laugh with.

And no online delivery system can deliver what a personal encounter can.

And God knew that.

God, with all his supernatural abilities, could have designed a mechanism whereby he could communicate with us without leaving heaven to do it.

He could have sent angel messengers.

He could have boomed his voice from heaven.

He could have scared the life out of us with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.

Instead, he sent his own flesh and blood Son to live among us, suffer alongside us, and then die a horrible death.

Where’s the value in that?

God knew the kind of mess we were in – we were dead in our sins and unable to rescue ourselves. So he fixed the problem by sending his Son Jesus to live a life of perfect obedience to the law of God for us, and then die in our place in order to pay the price for our sins.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2: 4-7 ESV

So how is that relevant to me?

If Jesus hadn’t done that, you would have no hope of measuring up to God’s standards and being loved by him.

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5: 7-8 ESV

Only Jesus measured up and secured your relationship with God, so when you place your faith in his finished work for you, God fully accepts you as his cherished child.

By taking that step, for the first time in your life you have face-to-face communication with God through Jesus.

Now that beats anything you can have online!

Want to plug into the best conversation today?

“Dear Jesus,

Thank you for living a perfect life for me, and for dying to pay the price for my sins on the cross. I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Fill me with your love and let me live from now on for you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed this today, would you let me know?

Smash the Lies

Ash3If you’re looking for a way to present the gospel to your friends and family, point them to Smash the Lies at: godisnotlikeyou.wordpress.com

It’s all there, including an opportunity to engage in the conversation.

We hope you like it!

How To Untwist Yourself

Jesus is my Sabbath rest. I have ceased from my own works to gain God’s acceptance. (Hebrews 4)

Christ earned God’s acceptance for me by living a perfect life of obedience to God’s law on my behalf, and by dying a death on the cross in order to pay for my sins.  woodduck

Since he accomplished this when I wasn’t even aware of my desperate need, how much more do I need to stop accepting burdens that only he can carry.

My burdens are my anxieties about my children and family members and their future, illnesses of friends, my own calling and vocation, and so on. These are burdens that disturb my rest in Christ.

They also point to pride in my life.

I think I can carry these cares!

The truth is I can’t. They weigh me down, they make me into a person who rarely has a lightness of heart over anything.

What to do about them? Pray as often as the Spirit leads me to, but then leave the care with him.

“Casting all your anxieties on him; for he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting – to throw upon, to place upon God
all – everything
care (burden) – distractions & anxiety about things pertaining to this earthly life
cares – to care about, have regard for
God calls me to leave everything with him.
As a Christian I am to be care-free!

A Better Trade-In

“Selfish ambition should not be part of a Christian’s life,” my pastor said Sunday morning.

Ouch! I’m prepared to pray, serve, read the bible, now I need to watch for this?

I was undone.

“Self-humbling is a privilege,” my pastor said.  photo(29)

That killed me.

“God didn’t pour his Son’s life into you so you can fill your life with amusements, worldliness, and money,” he said.

Where’s the exit?

“Mourn so you can be happy. Being sad over your sins is part of being a Christian. If Jesus submitted himself to the Father, why can’t you?”

Good question. Why can’t I?

It’s because I’m wired to turn inwards like a pretzel. It’s my comfortable place. I’ve been doing it since birth.

It takes the power of God to untwist me, and that hurts. It feels foreign.

And it’s impossible to do apart from the active work of the Holy Spirit in me.

But he is my only hope. I have no one else in heaven or on earth.

Jesus secured that right by giving himself in life and in death for me.  See Galatians 2:20

What’s stopping me from trading my puny ambitions for his all-encompassing vision he has for me?

Faith in the gospel. He died for me so he could live in me.

So what’s more important, my puny desires or embracing his goals for me with gladness?