What Sin?

I was in the office kitchen this morning and a co-worker asked me, “How are you?”

Without thinking I usually say, “Fine.” Nobody really wants an honest answer. The few times I’ve tried it, the other person feels responsible to respond in a meaningful way, and who has insights to give that early in the morning when you can barely pour a cup of coffee? So I’ve learned to answer in a neutral way. wool

But this morning I said, “I’m rejoicing that all of my sins are forgiven.”

And that opened up a beautiful gospel conversation.

I continued, “Did you know your sins are finite in number, and God knows every one of them, and they were all forgiven in Christ from the moment you were born?”

That lead to other comments about the wonderment of what God has done for us in his Son.

God purchased your soul before you were even conceived. Ephesians 1:4

God saw every one of your sins before you existed. Psalm 139

Each one was completely paid for before you committed any of them. Ephesians 1:7-10

Even those you haven’t committed yet, every one of them is already paid for, atoned for, and you are declared forgiven.

You’ve been forgiven in Christ from before the foundation of the world right through to eternity. Ephesians 1

What scandalous love!

Questions: How does that truth impact your struggles with sin today? How does it change your concept of who God is?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Perfect

If you are in Christ, you are loved, washed and cleaned up.

You walk around in the perfection of Jesus.

Since he never sinned, neither have you!

Not only that, God sees you as never having had a sin nature!

Meditate on that for a while.  photo (90)

Even in your worst moments when your life is in chaos, and all you know is failure and weakness, you are still in Christ and perfect!

Where you fail, he has obeyed perfectly for you.

Where you sin, he has paid for it on the cross.

When you are embarrassed and feeling ashamed, he has succeeded for you.

Barbara Duguid writes in her book, Extravagant Grace, “That means you are free to struggle and fail; you are free to grow slowly; you are free at times not to grow at all; you are free to cast yourself on the mercy of God for a lifetime.”

While obedience makes God happy, loving and delighting in Jesus, who has given you his perfect record even in the middle of your messy life, makes him happier.

Duguid goes on to say, “Repeated failure does not mean you are unsaved or that God is tired of you and disappointed. It does mean he has called you to a difficult struggle and that he will hold on to you in all your standing and falling and bring you safely home.”

Wow!

That’s breathtaking.

Take that with you this weekend.

And the rest of your life.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

A Funeral Is Better Than a Party

I attended a funeral yesterday for a church friend who died last week.

I was struck by this thought: Funerals are better than parties.

Why would I say that?

They remind me that I, too must die.  funeral

We all have expiration dates, but we don’t like thinking about those.

But it’s good for us. It forces the subject even for a little while.

The mortality rate has always been at 100%.

It doesn’t change from generation to generation.

We cannot mastermind our own exits.

That’s because there’s a time to be born and a time to die, and God holds the calendar on both.

So today is the only time we can be sure of. The past is gone, and the future is not certain.

Now is the time to renounce every hope of saving yourself and turn to the One who saved you. He did it 2,000 years ago on a cross outside Jerusalem. His name is Jesus and he paid the penalty for your sins and mine so we could be forgiven of our sins and given life.

That’s why you need a funeral.

We need that reality slap in the face.

According to Ecclesiastes, life under the sun doesn’t end well.

But life over the sun ends in triumph. It’s called eternal life and it’s a free gift if you believe in the work of Christ for you.

Won’t you take that step today?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

From Slave Trader to Singer

I know. This makes two quotes in a row. This one is outstanding, too and so I wanted you to have it.  John Newton

“We want victories without conflicts and the crown without fighting for it. And while we lament many evils, we overlook the chief of all – the impatient workings of self, which wants everything it’s own way. We are, we must be, sinners while we remain here, but if we are sinners believing in Jesus we may rejoice and sing. We must fight, we may be wounded, but we cannot be overcome. We may complain to the Lord, but when we write or speak to our fellow Christians, we should encourage each other and say, ‘Let us love and sing and wonder.'”

- John Newton (1725-1807)

 

 

Exile No More

This is so good, I must share it with you.

“He spares not His Son, but sends Him in quest of the exiles. He comes into the land of banishment, lies in an exile’s cradle, becomes a banished man for them, lives a banished life, endures an exile’s shame, dies an exile’s death, is buried in an exile’s tomb. He takes our place of banishment that we may take His place of honor and glory in the home of His Father and our Father.  photo(43)

“Such is the exchange between the exile and the exile’s divine substitute. Though rich, for our sakes He becomes poor. Though at home, He comes into banishment, that we may not be expelled forever.”

– Horatius Bonar

Tent Living is a Temporary Affair

“By faith he (Abraham) made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.” – Hebrews 11:9 NIV

I read that verse this morning and thought about how this applies today. Nothing came to mind and then, Pow! The Holy Spirit opened up the heavens.

Here’s what he taught me:  Tents

This is true of us post-moderns as much as those tent dwellers in Abraham’s day.

Abraham and his family made their home in the promised land like strangers in a foreign country. While they lived there, they didn’t belong there. Their citizenship was in the new heaven and the new earth, just like ours is. Whatever country we live in, that’s not home. Home is with Christ.

Abraham and his family lived in tents. They were mobile homes, able to be set up and taken down whenever necessary. We live in tents, too. Paul calls the body a tent, and when we die we step out of our tent and into a new immortal body, just like Christ’s. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

We, along with Abraham, the father of the faithful, and everyone who calls upon Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, to be living one day in the new heaven and the new earth, in new bodies, breathing pure air.

And where is this new world going to be? Right here! Every step we take on this solid ground we call earth will one day be renewed, made clean and pure and holy, inhabited only by saints washed in Jesus’s blood and sacrifice.

Don’t think of your salvation as an individual gift only. Salvation embraces the entire universe! Jesus’s perfect life of obedience and death on the cross restored the created order, including you and me.

Question: When you groan in your tent here what do you do about it?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

Mind the Gap

If you’ve been to London and taken the tube you’ve heard the recording that says, “Mind the Gap” that comes on at every stop. It’s a mantra. That’s because there is a space between the subway car and the platform large enough to lose a shoe in. I’ve seen it happen.

The idea of a gap between two realities is also prevalent in the bible, and it’s not a tiny space like the London tube. It’s immense. It’s as large as earth to Mars, only bigger. It’s the tension of the now and not yet. We are saved now but the reality of its fullness is not ours yet. That comes when Jesus returns or we die and go to be with him, whichever comes first. photo (8)

We see this tension fleshed out in the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 16. Here we see Sarah’s impatience with God to give her a son, so she takes matters into her own hands by suggesting to Abraham that he sleep with Hagar, her maid, and produce the child that way, something that Abraham did not resist, by the way.

We see Sarah’s struggles with God’s timing, which reveals Sarah’s doubt of God’s character. Why is he taking so long? It’s been ten years already and nothing’s happened. Can I continue to trust him? Underneath it all is a suspicion of God’s goodness. Can’t you hear the same echos of the devil saying the same thing to Eve in Genesis 3?

Here we see Abraham and Sarah living in the gap between what God had promised and their unfulfilled expectations.

I see this played out in my life and in the lives of family and friends. We long for close, intimate and satisfying relationships. Instead we live with distance, misunderstandings, and heartache. We long for satisfying work. Instead we grumble and complain because of the boredom. We want glory here and now, but God says not yet, it’s coming soon.

What can we learn from this? Here are three insights:

1) Living in the gap of the now and not yet tempts us to take matters into our hands. The underlying assumption is that we can fix the problems ourselves like Abraham and Sarah did. But instead of fixing things, we make a mess of things.

2) While living in the gap, we continue to be faithful to what God has called us to. We trust God’s faithfulness. That doesn’t mean we take no action, but it does mean we do things believing God is for us and not against us.

3) God doesn’t go AWOL in the gap and in our messes. He doesn’t flee to heaven and wait for us to figure out ways to make it home. If he did that, nobody would get home. He’s there working in the gap. He’s a God who sees and hears and is in the middle of the mess. That’s what he has promised to do. And ultimately he will fulfill all his promises to us. We don’t know how or when, but it will happen.

You won’t lose God in the gap. There is joy, freedom and laughter there if we trust him for the reality that’s coming.

Question: What are some of the ways you take matters into your hands while living in the gap?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com