Oh the Shame!

The word shame is mentioned so many times these days it seems there’s no other word in the English vocabulary. It’s talked about so often in sermons, books, lectures and therapy sessions that it has lost its meaning. We’re supposed to believe everyone feels shame and it’s the biggest problem out there that people are grappling with.

That might be true if you’re trying to restore someone’s self-esteem. If it’s meant to describe feelings of embarrassment, then everybody has felt it one time or another. For example, at not being prepared for an interview and you were caught off-guard with a question. Or when you forgot your lines in the school play. Or when you weren’t dressed appropriately at a gathering. These are common experiences that make people feel insecure and unacceptable.

But nowadays shame is being used in a therapeutic sense. It’s the popular word for feeling you’re not enough, you’re wrong as a person, you’re unwanted.

Someone gave you the message and you believed it. And from that moment on you made it your life’s mission to find ways to overcome it.

While this might be true of you, it doesn’t go deep enough. God says real shame is refusing to believe who he is for you. You prefer living in unbelief instead of embracing the God who loves you. You’re holding on to the message your parents or peers gave you from the past.

Everyone has those messages living in their heads. They’re common to the human race because sin is common to the human race. 

You can overcome these messages, but that won’t win the war for your soul. Only by turning to God, the author of your life, and believing his love for you, by giving you Christ to redeem you and bring you back to your true home, will you be right with him and your own soul. 

Christ took your shame (your unbelief) on the cross and it died there. And it was buried in the tomb with him. It’s dead. And when Christ was resurrected he gave you his new life. There is no shame mixed in there. Look all you want. It’s gone. You’re now free from those condemning voices to follow only one voice – the Father’s. And his voice is affirming, loving, and gracious. 

Talk to me.

 

Jesus Won the War

A war movie is an apt metaphor for life because we’re all prisoners of war. Everyone of us, from the rich and famous to the homeless person sleeping in a doorway. We are born in bondage to sin. There is no other identity. We can thank our first parents for that. They threw us under the bus when they chose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit. Ever since that day all of us are born broken, needy and rebellious.

The bible calls it bondage to sin, Satan and the wrath of God. The trio of horror, except we don’t recognize it as such. We think it’s normal. We have no other reality to compare it to.

Self exacts a gravity that pulls us deeper and deeper into itself. We are the compass we live our lives by. The darkness is light to us. Selfish behavior is the stuff of life. The only god that rules is ourselves.

But God. He has redeemed us. FullSizeRender (53)

He’s pulled us out of our misery.

Sin no longer has dominion over us.

Satan’s slavery is broken.

We’re free from the wrath of God.

Jesus paid the price for our freedom.

He has given us his nature.

We live our lives in His light now.

Hallelujah!

Talk to me.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place But Christ

“How shall I look up to God? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I have any communion with a holy God in this world? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I find acceptance with God? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I die? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. How shall I stand before the judgment seat? The answer is—In the righteousness of Christ. photo (26)

“Your sure and only way under all temptations, fears, conflicts, doubts, and disputes, is by faith to remember Christ, and the sufferings of Christ, as your mediator and surety, and say, ‘O Christ! you are my sin—in being made sin for me; and you are my curse—in being made a curse for me. Or rather, I am your sin—and you are my righteousness; I am your curse—and you are my blessing; I am your death—and you are my life; I am the wrath of God to you—and you are the love of God to me; I am your hell—and you are my heaven.’”

– Thomas Brooks

How To Have a Winning Resume

Have you read some online resumes lately?

The candidates sound like they walk on water.

By the time they’re 25, they have a Master’s degree and a PhD, with work experience since kindergarten.  photo(66)

And let’s not overlook the myriad of tech certificates that make them eligible for the most exciting jobs out there.

Have you ever read a resume that included a person’s failures? Of course not. That would be suicide.

Everybody wants to be perfect.

Some people want it so badly they’re willing to lie and cheat to appear that way.

In today’s competitive job market, unless you dazzle and out-perform your competitors, you could end up on the street before you even get a chance to start.

In case you’re thinking this is only true for recent college graduates seeking employment, the truth is all of us are crafting our resumes internally so we look our best.

The fact is we’re addicted to perfection.

You and I know we can’t be perfect, but we try anyway. We labor for a verdict of approval from all who matter in life.

Except there’s a huge problem with that.

Our mothers might give us high marks because they love us no matter what, but if we look to God, who is the ultimate approval giver, his verdict is not so good.

In fact the verdict stinks.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12 ESV

We’re in deep weeds and no amount of charitable deeds is going to convince God otherwise.

The truth is we were made to live with God’s acceptance.

“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God…” – Psalm 146:5 NKJV

Who you are in Jesus defines you.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” – Ephesians 1:3 NKJV

By accepting God’s provision for sin in Jesus,

God smiles on you.

God welcomes you.

And Jesus’ perfect record becomes yours.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a winning deal to me.

How To Ditch the Pitch for New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again.

I’m talking about those pesky New Year’s resolutions.

This year I’m staying clear of them.

I’ll let you make them.  IMG_0704

I’m not going on a diet, buying a gym membership, eating healthier, or being nicer to my brother.

I am staying just the way I am. Plump, self-indulgent, and cranky.

I don’t like failure. Who does? I don’t want to start the New Year in the negative. I want a few weeks of blissful self-illusion.

Have you noticed as the year begins how your inbox expands with tips for improved living? How to speak Italian in six weeks. How to find the mate of your dreams online. How to improve your relationship with your therapist. How to write a memoir.

All it takes is money. And sweat.

No thanks.

You’d think everyone would see the hype, but every year there are enough desperate people who believe the gimmicks.

The truth is we all want hope. Every one of us wants to be thinner, healthier, younger, and wealthier.

But have you noticed how these things promise results but deliver disappointment?

The gym banks on you dropping out.

The recipe you’re making only works on TV.

Last year’s fashions are this year’s thrift store deals.

Nothing changes, and everything changes.

If we put our hope in things, we’ll soon discover we’re bankrupt.

There’s only one place to put our hope and it’s in a person— Jesus. When he makes a promise, he delivers it. And he promised that if anyone puts their trust in him as Savior, he will forgive their sins and give them eternal life.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:40 NKJV

Now that’s my idea of success. The sure kind.

Why bother with lesser promises that don’t deliver when you can have God guaranteed-ones?  Instead of self-improvement propaganda, find the lasting improvements only God can offer.

I’d rather be chunky and happy in Jesus than nasty and model-thin without him.

How about you? Are you ready to put your hope in Jesus?

Leave me a fat comment.

 

How To Pray Really Badly

The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer. – Psalm 6:9

The experience here recorded is mine. I can set to my seal that God is true. In very wonderful ways He has answered the prayers of His servant many and many a time. Yes, and He is hearing my present supplication, and He is not turning away His ear from me. Blessed be His holy name!

What then? Why, for certain the promise which lies sleeping in the psalmist’s believing confidence is also mine. Let me grasp it by the hand of faith: “The Lord will receive my prayer.” He will accept it, think of it, and grant it in the way and time which His loving wisdom judges to be best. I bring my poor prayer in my hand to the great King, and He gives me audience and graciously receives my petition. My enemies will not listen to me, but my Lord will. They ridicule my tearful prayers, but my Lord does not; He receives my prayer into His ear and His heart.

What a reception this is for a poor sinner! We receive Jesus, and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His Son’s sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks our prayers so that they freely pass even within the golden gates. Lord, teach me to pray, since Thou hearest my prayers.

– From Faith’s Checkbook by C.H. Spurgeon

When I read this I was reminded of my sin of unbelief. I know God hears my prayers. I understand that much. But where I lose it is when he doesn’t answer them in the way I want him to. And when that happens, I immediately conclude he’s not listening to me, or worse, caring about me.

That’s utterly sinful because it maligns the character and promises of God. 

Truth is I want my prayers answered now and according to my will, not his.

Upon further reflection, I realized, too, that God is answering my prayers all around me, as well as in the lives of the people I pray for, but I don’t have eyes to see that because I insist on having the answers my way.

Just today a friend told me he had sold his last painting, the one that nobody wanted.

“You prayed for that, remember?” he said.

I hadn’t remembered.

That was another indictment. I  had prayed without expectation. My expectations of God were little, if they existed at all.

I was seeing things about my prayer life that were not pretty.

But instead of flogging myself and telling myself to do better next time, which I know I will fail at, I reminded myself of the gospel.

Jesus prayed perfect prayers, full of hope and faith and belief in God.

And God has put his perfect praying record to my account.

That’s my only hope. His prayers, not mine.

I can rest in that and keep praying!