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.

 

 

 

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Who Cares?

Do we strive to enter God’s kingdom? Just because God has placed a ticket to heaven in our hands doesn’t mean we stay in the waiting lounge. We have to get up and walk into the plane.

Who are we listening to? Is it God through his Word or someone else’s voice?

How often it’s my voice I follow. It’s easy. It’s all too familiar.

Living the kingdom life is nothing short of brutal. It goes against the grain of self. It’s not the life we’re used to.

It requires humility, mercy, sincerity and loving our enemies.

Everything we don’t like doing.

Drifting is easier.  Bible4

Who wants to die?

Who wants to disregard his own ambitions?

It’s easier to profess Christ than to follow him.

I know. I’m an expert at it.

I suspect you are, too.

So what do we do about it?

Study. Pray. Respect.

Immerse yourself in God’s Word.

Pray God’s Word. Make it your own. Eat it.

Respect your teachers. Make sure they’re telling you about Christ and not themselves. Make sure they’re men of the Word. Humble. Accessible.

True followers of Christ are submitted to him, even in rejection and suffering.

As Christians we now live by the sermon on the Mount, but not by adhering to its rules, but by having faith in the preacher of the sermon.

He’s our Mediator. He’s the new Moses. He fights his battles for us.

Lean heavily into him.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

This Is Not Our Best Life

Nobody wants to die.
We cling to life like a drowning man on a splinter of wood in a vast ocean.
But if our best life is not here but in the new heavens and the new earth, we should be willing to die when our times comes.
We all have expiration dates, but they’re for others, not us. For some reason we can’t really believe we have one, and so we don’t think about it.
Today a young friend of mine, 30 years old, a husband and a father of two little girls, is dying of leukemia. It’s over for him here on earth. IMG_1685
I’m finding it difficult to talk to him. Instead of reaching out even more, I’m pulling away. Instead of ministering to him and offering him hope, I’m fighting thoughts of my own death in his dying. Watching someone you love die brings up your own mortality, no matter your age. I’ve seen both my parents die, two uncles, and several friends. You’d think these experiences would have tenderized me and the impact of the reality of death would have made me that much more compassionate and understanding. Instead, after the shock wears off, I eat ice cream.
We believe we’re going to live forever.  In a sense that’s true if we’re  Christians. In another sense it’s not true if we don’t know Jesus as our Savior. Then our hope for the future is bleak. We have no future. It’s as simple as that.
Now’s the time to think deep thoughts about where we’re headed. Are we in Christ? Is he our Savior? Do we believe he lived and died for us on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins? Have we given up our self-salvation strategies and embraced Christ by faith as the only Savior we’ll ever need?
Believe and live!
That’s what my dying friend is doing.
What about you?
Talk to me.

How Big Is Your Love?

Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?

If our sin is the biggest impediment to the Father’s love, then the cross is His supreme gift to us. Why is that? Because it’s the only way to his approval. Nothing else will do. Igor Mitoraj2

Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.

Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.

Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.

We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.

Christ won it all at the cross.

Thank the Father today!

Talk to me.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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?

United You Stand

Have you had days or maybe weeks of yelling at your kids over the littlest things, or experienced intense jealousy over your best friend’s gorgeous new house or wanted to curse God because you just got laid off from your job again?

I have. More than once. heart cloud

That’s when you ask yourself, “Am I really saved or is this all make believe?”

If you look at your Christian performance, you’re in big trouble. If you’re honest, you’ll have to admit it’s sketchy at best. Hardly the stuff God is looking for in your life.

So where do you look for reassurance that you belong to God when you are experiencing your worst moments?

No further than the gospel.

Let me explain.

Jesus not only paid the price for your redemption with his perfect life of obedience and then his death on the cross for your sins, but he also secured your perseverance and heavenly inheritance.

You were united to Christ (Romans 6) at the moment of your coming to faith, and once united you cannot be un-united.

You will never, ever, be separated from Him no matter what befalls you.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” – Romans 8:35

What about weakness, failure, deliberate sins, sins of neglect, unbelief, ungratefulness, or a cold heart?

Jesus died for all those, too.

Is it possible for any member of Christ’s body to perish?

Unthinkable!

God guarantees that you will persevere in this life. That’s why he has given you his Holy Spirit to be your guide, teacher, and encourager.

Not one of his children will be lost.

And that includes you.