This Old House

Sanctification is like being brought up again but this time in Christ. God is your Father, Jesus is your elder brother who has blazed the trail for you, and the Holy Spirit draws you deeper into your new identity in Christ.

You are born again but living inside an old house. Don’t get focused on the rusty hinges, the peeling paint, and the overgrown lawn. Keep your attention focused on the architect and builder of the new house you’ll be living in. Old House

Meanwhile, refuse to participate in the conspiracy of silence. You continue to be a wretched sinner even as a Christian. You have great examples of confession from the apostles. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. So can you. There’s no shame in that.

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make you more humble and dependent on the Lord, more grateful for his sacrifice, and more adoring of him as a wonderful Savior.

Don’t be surprised at your trials then, Peter said. They’re meant to make your faith like gold. And faith attaches itself to Jesus who was meek and lowly and won salvation for you.

Joy here and now is your birthright and inheritance even when you sin miserably as a Christian.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

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Condition Alert!

Have you struggled like me with knowing how to respond to the circumstances in your life? How you’re never prepared really even if you think you are? And how shocking sometimes they can be and you ask yourself the question, “How did I get here?”

Well, you’re not alone. The Apostle Paul faced the same thing, but he didn’t stay stuck there. He learned some valuable lessons. He said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-12 ESV

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Spiritual Depression says, Van Gogh2

“Paul had come to learn this great truth by working out a great argument. I think that the Apostle’s logic was something like this. He said to himself:

“1. Conditions are always changing, therefore I must not be dependent upon conditions.

“2. What matters supremely and vitally is my soul and my relationship to God – that is the first thing.

“3. God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from God. Even the very hairs on my head are all numbered. I must never forget that.

“4.God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever he wills or permits is of necessity for my good.

“5. Every situation  in life is the unfolding to some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore my business is to look for this peculiar manifestation of God’s goodness and kindness and to be prepared for surprises and blessings because ‘His ways are not my ways, neither His thoughts my thoughts’. What, for example, is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that, ‘When I am weak than I am strong’. Paul was taught through physical weakness this manifestation of God’s grace.

“6. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves therefore, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.

“7. Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment they are only temporary, they are only passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me with Christ.”

It took Paul a lifetime to learn this and it will take that long for you and me, too, but we can trust God to teach us this secret of contentment while the chaos swirls around us.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

The Steady Hand of Faith

Have you asked yourself, “What is faith and how do I know if I have it?”

So often we confuse faith with feelings and when we do that, we’re in trouble.

Faith is a steady belief in Christ and the work of salvation he accomplished on the cross for you.

Feelings, on the other hand, change like the weather. One minute you’re happy, the next you’re upset.

Here are some good reminders of what faith is: IMG_8004

1) Your spiritual life is a work of God. You didn’t produce it and you don’t maintain it. See Ephesians 2: 8-10

2) Faith is your spiritual DNA. Abraham is your father by faith and you inherit all his promises. See 1 John 3:9

3) Faith is life from the dead. God’s work in you, not what you do for God. If you think you roused yourself from the dead I’d like to talk to you! See Ephesians 2: 1-4

4) Faith sees beyond what is seen physically to the unseen that’s coming. And what’s coming defies imagination. See Hebrews 11:1

5) Faith is strengthened by your trials. Nobody is exempt. Examples abound: Abraham and Sarah without a child, Hannah without a son, Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt, Esther interceding for her people, David fighting Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Mary pregnant before marriage. See Genesis 17:15-21; Genesis 14; Esther 4: 13-17; 1 Samuel 17; Daniel 6; Matthew 1:18-25.

6) Faith glorifies God. It pleases God to strengthen your faith. See Romans 5:1-5

7) Faith justifies sinners. It’s the only means by which you can be saved. See Romans 4:5

No matter what you’re facing right now, know that God has his hand on you, he sees you, knows your every circumstance, and you can rely on him to take you through your trials just like he did Abraham, Moses, Esther, David, Daniel and Mary.

They were in good hands and so are you.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

My Father Is The Best

Do you realize you have a Father in heaven that never dies?

My earthly father died ten years ago, and I was left with a big hole in my heart.

My mother died when I was 15, and that was devastating.

But my Father is heaven is always with me. He never leaves me, disappears, or goes AWOL.

God lives forever and his love for me in Christ is unchangeable.  photo(179)

I can rest in it.

I can trust it.

I can lean on it.

He won’t disappoint me, and I will never be ashamed of him.

And I am his heir in Christ!

He bestows on me everything he owns.

If earthly fathers gave away riches the way God does, they would have nothing left to give.

Not so with my Father. He is always giving to me and yet he is never depleted.

He gives more to me than any father or king can bestow.

Praise his name!

 

 

Are You Ready to Take a Risk?

On the subway last week, I noticed a Hispanic woman get on, in her 50’s, sit down and pull out a book in Spanish with a kneeling picture of a praying Jesus on the cover. The title of the book was, “How To Move Away from Depression.” She read it with her lips moving. I began to pray for her. I was two rows behind her. The car was packed. I told the Lord if he wanted me to give her a gospel of John he’d have to clear the decks. We got through the tunnel and at the first stop in the city, everyone in my way got up and got off, leaving an empty seat right by her. I  photo(44)chuckled. I got up, sat in the empty seat, pulled out my gospel, leaned over and in Spanish said good morning, I have a gift for you. She looked at me, saw the booklet, took it, and smiled. I explained the booklet, especially the first three pages. I told her to read them and make that prayer of receiving Christ as her Savior. I asked her if the book she was reading was helping her. She said yes, that she had bought it at her church’s bookstore. I said the secret of getting rid of depression is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. She said she thought so, too. Then she got quiet. A few seconds went by. Then she leaned in and said, “My son was murdered three years ago. I have been depressed ever since.” I was stunned. I told her how sorry I was, and that God wanted to carry her burden, that she didn’t have to anymore. She thanked me. At that point I got up to get off at my stop. I’ve been praying for her ever since.

This is an example of what I am praying to do every day. We see and meet many people with wounds so deep that only God can heal them. So I ask God to make me alert to the needs of others, to give me the faith to engage them even if it’s risky, and to use me as his ambassador of hope and encouragement to them.

What about you? Would you join me this year? I hope to write my adventures here when I have them.