A Major Difference

Jesus is the face of God. That is what everyone is looking for.

We’re hungry to be seen. He knows you by name. He knows all about you.

We’re craving comfort. He is the Great Comforter, full of grace and peace.

We want acknowledgement. He gives it by dying on the cross for you. Broken

We long to be understood. He knows everything about you, what makes you tick, how you think, the pain you feel, the rejection.

But what do we typically do? We turn away from God and turn toward other people and demand they give us what we want. That’s why marriages don’t work. Our jobs don’t satisfy. Our hobbies get boring. Our children become work instead of pleasure. Nothing we touch fills us.

It was never meant to.

The fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore are only found in Christ.

Until we realize it, we’re doomed to traveling in the wrong direction, where the gravel pits are, where there is no water.

Idols take everything, and give nothing back except pain and disappointment.

Only Jesus is the fountain of life.

What are you waiting for?

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but in other things like lovers, friends, hobbies, travel, power, money, you name it.

 

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Out of Breath

In the span of two days I received an onrush of bad news that swept me up and took my breath away.

A friend’s brother died in his bed yesterday. A colleague’s brother was discovered dead in a field. My son’s mentor was rushed to the ER for colon surgery. My neighbor is battling lung cancer.

This leaves me bewildered and numb.

What do we make of trials? If you’re like me, I’m never prepared for them. They always surprise me and yet they shouldn’t because Jesus warned us we would have them in this life. fullsizerender-21

I was looking at quotes from John Newton and found this one:

“Trials remedy fictional escapism. Trials are the onrush of stinging realism crashing the idealized party we call ‘life.’ When these serious trials interrupt our lives, we ‘run simply and immediately to our all-sufficient Friend, feel our dependence, and cry in good earnest for help.’ But when all is well, when life seems peaceful and prosperous, and when the difficulties in life are small, then ‘we are too apt secretly to lean to our own wisdom and strength, as if in such slight matters we could make shift without him.’ We lose out on communion with Christ when we gorge on entertainment.”

What a commentary! Life as fictional escape, a movie of our own making filled with a diet of entertainment. With technology at our fingertips, this indicts everybody.

I’m guilty. I’ve either reading a book, watching TV, or living in my own head. And I think this is life. No wonder I need shaking up and waking up. I need to remember I’m a clay jar with a lot of cracks in it.  And I need to live close to the potter, otherwise I’ll dry up and smash to pieces.

What about you?

Talk to me.

 

 

 

The Horror of Idolatry

I’ve been reading Iain Duguid’s commentary on the book of Ezekiel. As you know, Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet who was given the unenviable task of indicting the nation of Israel for its sins of idolatry. They preferred every carved image to the God who loved and saved them. And God was furious at them and he wanted them to know that.

“Idolatry is adultery because it makes me unfaithful to God and his truth. It flows from the inordinate desire for a person, plan, or sensation, a desire stronger than my love for God and my desire to obey him,” Duguid says.

That pretty much slays me.

Duguid goes on to say, “Idolatry is the desire for something other than God at the center of my life acting like my guiding star, the source of meaning in my life.”

How often I live my life, as a Christian, desiring things that God has not given me and believing if I had them I’d be a happier person. The advertising industry thrives on that lie. So does the devil with his poisonous thoughts that suggest that God is stingy, or has overlooked me, or marginalized me in his kingdom.

We are not immune from the siren calls of the world and it’s temptations. If that doesn’t get us, then it’s our flesh that clamors for more attention, and if we can be the center of the universe, all the better. But even if we can withstand the flesh, there’s the devil lurking in the background waiting to bait us with his venom.

Is it any wonder we are messes?  IMG_4730

But there’s hope for messes. Jesus died for messes. He nailed us to his cross so we could be given a clean slate in his new life.

We are the only people on earth who have died and been resurrected! Do you realize that?

It happened at the cross. When Jesus died there, we died with him. When he was buried, we were in the tomb with him. And when he was resurrected on the third day, he took us with him! What a glorious trip!

Do you believe that? You should. See Romans 6.

These truths all flow out of our union with Christ.

And how did we get there?

God put us there. See 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

So what does that do to our idolatry? First, it’s pretty horrible to be in Christ and still crave lesser gods. Second, we have forgotten our position and privilege as children of God. Third, the only way to deal with idolatry is to run to God and repent. “It’s the ultimate idol-smasher,” Duguid says.

“Lord, forgive me for the sin of lesser loves, and remind me I am not my own but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

Even Though You Fail, But God

The gospel shows us that we fail to obey God.

Not sure that’s true?

Try this on for size: How well have you loved God and your neighbor today? Yesterday? How about last week?

If you’re like me, you must admit your failure. photo(43)

But not only do we fail to obey God, we dupe ourselves into believing that our imperfect obedience somehow is sufficient for God to fully accept us.

That’s because we’re trusting in our own performance.

We insist on being our own Messiahs.

Even people without faith in Christ are believers – in themselves, their performance, or the idols of their own making.

Christians struggle with the same issues.

Failure to believe the gospel results in our problems in church, in our relationships, and in our work.

We all agree that belief in the gospel is the way into the kingdom of God, but then we forget it’s also the way of life in the kingdom.

We never graduate from the gospel.

It’s essential for kindergarteners as well as PhDs.

It’s the only way to grow and be transformed by Christ.

So what is the gospel again?

To quote Question 60 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have You Repented Today?

Your biggest problem in life is not your suffering, but your sin.

The Christian life is one long repentance on your way to heaven. Real repentance goes down to the heart. It’s recognizes the depth of sin, the depravity of the heart, the unwillingness to bend to God’s will. Even as Christians.

True repentance confronts your idols. What are you really trusting in? Your earning power? Your youth? Your intellect? A good reputation? Your personality? Your body? Your talents?

Religion is about performance and performance is about changing bad behaviors.

Life in Christ is putting your hope in him. He is the changer of hearts. He is committed to your heart transplant. And the way to an intimate relationship with him is to keep short accounts. Repent often. Repent daily. And your love for God will increase.

Don’t settle for a cosmetic makeover.

How Content Are You?

Q: What is real contentment?

A: An inner poise, a deep seated joy that can handle anything life throws at you.

It’s not detachment or resignation. It’s not a personality trait. It’s not rooted in your circumstances.

Paul had to learn to be content. (See Philippians 4: 10-23) So do you. It’s a life-long lesson, which is not learned overnight. (How wonderful because I’m a failure at it.)

Can your contentment deal with the highs and lows of life? Both the failures and the successes? (My kind takes me on a roller coaster ride every time.)

You try to change your circumstances or fix yourself believing that will make you  content. (A better spouse, a modern kitchen, a new body, flashier clothes, whiter teeth.)

Ask yourself next time you are unhappy: who or what has seized the title to your heart? Mark that as an idol and smash it.

Here’s what true about idols: Idols can’t deliver. They lie. They trap and enslave you. Idols don’t handle the weight of life.

Who is your God? Who are you trusting?

Only Jesus Christ delivers what he promises. He gives you the meaning to the details of your life, even your suffering.

Q: What are the marks of contentment?

A: Gratitude to God for rescuing you from sin and death and giving you new life in his Son, and generosity toward your neighbor.

Contentment is found only in the gospel.