Monday, May 1, 2017

He Makes All Things New

Well, I went through 2016 without a single post.

I'm writing not so much because my former blogging community is still around to read, but more for my own sake.

Life has changed a lot in the ten years it's been since I started this blog. The recent years have brought me a lot of reasons to be intentional about nurturing my faith. I've grown extremely tired of worrying and having that old feeling of impending doom which is especially strong at night - that's how it was before I knew Christ. After Christ, nights were the best time for me to walk around outside, praying and meditating on God. Some of my best memories are of laying on top of my mom's silver Jeep Cherokee, staring at the stars, listening to my iPod, and contemplating this incredible new love that I'd acquired out of nowhere.

Sin and worry are not worth the price you pay. Focusing on worldly things is hilariously tragic. Scrambling to fortify yourself against potential accidents, losing someone, pain, health problems, car problems, home repairs, etc is overwhelming if you don't have God.

I honestly do not know how people who don't have Christ do it and stay sane. A few months ago, I had my first and only panic attack while home alone. While I was eating I experienced this sudden, irrational fear of choking on my food and it felt like I was losing all control over myself.

Conversely, when I am intentional about focusing my mind on Christ and trusting Him for absolutely everything, I get my peace back. One day, He will return to pick me up or I will die and all of this will seem like some silly dream I had a long, long time ago.

I look forward to that Day. I have no idea what a carefree, painless, sinless world looks like, but I trust it's coming. Some people have claimed to have seen it and describe their experience, but I seriously doubt their experience. Paul said he saw it and said that he heard and saw things that were not lawful for men to speak about. That gives me even more hope.

Imagine all pain and discomfort vanishing in a split second. All worry, all anxiety, all stress, all weakness melts away immediately like it never existed.

For now, I set my mind on Christ and look forward to that. In Christ, I can experience a taste of what is to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grace for Life

Where is grace in day-to-day life? Where can you look to find it? Grace for salvation is easy to be seen once a believer has settled it in his or her heart to trust in it, but grace for everyday problems feels elusive, always needing to be tracked down and pursued through quiet contemplation and simple trust. I still feel all the stress, the burdens of a host of anxieties if I do not recognize who God is and what He is like. Close attention must be paid to Him if I want to be awakened to grace for life and experience the joys and thrills of His grace. That's it! That is what the Christian life is! Joys and thrills in the midst of a stupid, stupid world.

In recent news, I've moved into my new home - it's okay for my first home, but I would like to move back to my old neighborhood in a few years.

Right now I'm just sitting at my desk listening to Nat King Cole's Christmas album on iTunes.

These are some of my favorite lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Monday, February 17, 2014

Katy Perry - Unconditionally

This morning before work, I was listening to this amazing song and reading from one of my favorite chapters in Isaiah.

“Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
For the Lord has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake. - Isaiah 54:1-15

This gives me hope that one day God will rescue me from this 5 year slump. It's hard to believe I've been entangled in this mess that long. But my God, my Father, promises me that I will be free and will forget this shame. One day I'll see His face again and all of this will be "brushed aside like an unwanted cobweb".

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jesus and Freedom

I was listening to a YouTube video the other day of a guy speaking on freedom from sin.

One sentence in particular spoke volumes to me:

"Do NOT seek freedom (from sin); seek Jesus instead."

Wow! You know, it's never about resolve or law-keeping; it is always about setting your mind on God.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

We need to look for the Cause rather than the effect.

In fact, you could say that looking for freedom is the core issue with the law-keepers. They are searching for the effects of union with God rather than searching for God, and because of this, they never experience the union, thus never experiencing the fruit of the union. The law-keepers basically want to have children without first having a "union" with their partner. Not possible.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Know, Thyself.

You can't let people, no matter who they are, fashion for you an image of God. He is someone you have to see for yourself before you can fall nauseatingly in love with Him. Prior to my conversion to Christ, I hated church and Christianity all together. I let the country-style hymns, stained glass windows, and endless sermons on good behavior create for me an image of God. In the late winter or early spring of 2006, for whatever reason, I found myself sitting alone in my room, thinking. Thinking about God and heaven. What were they really like? There was no call for me from a preacher to come down the aisle and no resolve to dedicate myself or turn a new leaf over on life and begin to live as a good person (In that, I have failed miserably). Rather, for the first time, I thought of God in a new light. I really can't describe my train of thought at that time other than having the sudden idea that maybe God is something so much higher than what I had seen in church or from church-goers.

God will hold each person accountable for what they believe. You can't claim ignorance or play the victim of false or misleading teaching (though people who teach falsely will bear their own judgement). It will be every man's own fault for what he or she has allowed to shape their view of God.

If I could just get every man and woman to sit and to think for themselves for once in his or her life, I could convert millions. It doesn't matter so much as what I say but Who I point you towards. As Morpheus told Neo, "I can only show you the door; you're the one who has to walk through it." It's fitting in this case that Jesus refers to Himself in the Gospel of John as "The Door".

I don't think there is a man or woman, alive or dead, who, when presented with God in His true form, would not fall utterly in love with Him.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Options

I lament of my behavior quite often, but today is one of those days I came to myself. I am not esteemed by the Lord for my behavior, but by my faith.

Faith in Christ is the one and only thing you have as a believer that separates you from those outside. It's what God admires and loves about you; it's what pleases Him about you. He doesn't regard you according to your performance, but your faith. Faith is all you have, so be person of impeccable faith. Your behavior and your mood will rise and fall in this life. That is why the promise of eternal life is not granted to you through the currency of good behavior and generosity, but is freely given through placing your trust in Christ.

Mankind has two options with God:

1. Being a law-man


2. Being a faith-man

The law-man lives a life of ceaseless labor and doubt. You could say his good behavior locks him out from the kingdom. He lives only to glorify himself, while the person of faith lives to glorify God in Christ. And more than that...he also receives glory from God. Why? Because he dared to take the risk of escaping hell through something that seems like utter folly to the natural mind: simple trust.

Faith is the only obedience you have that merits anything with God.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Being Dead Feels Great

Having read about half of Ralph Harris' book, "God's Astounding Opinion of You", I've been reminded of truths I already knew, and have also been able to view already familiar scriptures in a new light. The chapter that Ralph used to give me new insight was the very beginning of Romans 7. Paul, in this letter is addressing both Jew and Gentile within one assembly and then speaks directly to the Jews who knew the law:

"Or do you not know, brothers...for I am speaking to those who know the law...that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?"

This simple verse amazed me. It's so simple that I can't believe I've overlooked it in the past. Or maybe I knew it before but had forgotten. could be I knew it and still required further persuasion from the scriptures to really believe it.

The law only has power over me if I am alive. If I die, the law ceases to mean anything to me because I'm dead. What use has the law in condemning a dead man? Paul says this is literally true for the Christian. The Christian literally died with Christ on that cross so that the law could no longer have a right to judge him.

It apparently pleases God to make it so that I do not have to keep the commandments. It pleased Him! If it were not pleasing to Him, He would not have done it. What!? Are you advocating my sin, God!? Nope. He's advocating ME.

It pleases God that I don't need to worry about being good anymore. It pleases Him that He doesn't need to worry about me being good anymore. He did this so that He could have a relationship with me. If I were under the law, even just a little, so that I could try to be somewhat good, He could not justly allow me to partake of Him.

This seems so irresponsible of God. You're going to make me free? ME? I think you may be a bit too trusting, God. I'm liable to tear this place apart. But apparently it's not as big a concern to Him as it is to me. Why? Because He has already dealt with sin and judgement.

Up until now, I would shun well-intended encouragement from other Christians who would tell me "God's not as concerned about your sin as you think." This was an offense to me. Of course He is! I thought this was just some way to lie, to make me feel better and give an excuse to my sin. Now I understand what they mean. It's God's desire not to hold my sins against me. He enjoys it because that means I can be entirely devoted to Him without the fear of being cast off.

This may not be a big revelation to you, but it was to me. And it's good for me to think on this and write about it.