Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Please, brother or sister, don't think Jesus will condemn at His return when you see your shortcomings, lack of love, your sins, or your seemingly small faith. Jesus Himself has purified you and made you able to stand before Him with great joy, fully assured of the power of His death, burial and resurrection. He alone has saved you. He has justified you Himself. And if God has justified you, how will you be condemned?
Don't listen to people who say you must do this or you must do that to enter the kingdom. Jesus told us "Fear not, little flock. For it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Don't be pressured to perform. Come boldly to the throne of God's unconditional love for you in Jesus Christ. Don't impose your thoughts or feelings about yourself on God. His thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are His ways your ways.
Jesus said there is one who condemns people and it is not Him. The Law alone that people put their hope in condemns them. And so it ends in being their pride that will condemn them.
Give yourself fully to God. He has taken away your short comings of all kinds. Boast in Him alone. Anyone who boasts in themselves or is filled with pride because they have been good boys and girls will be humbled at His coming. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Let the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus rule your heart. Let His work alone be your grounds for boasting in that Day.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I've noticed that I can feel guilty for things like this and I can start to get angry at people who pray longer and better than I do. I've heard people speak of praying long prayers for the salvation of their loved ones and things. And to be honest, I don't do that. I have no idea what to say other than, "Father, please let this person be saved. I love them so much and I want them to know You, Father. Please don't let them be lost."
And then the thought comes to me: "Such a small prayer for so great a need? How can you simply pray a few words when we're talking about someone you love being saved from eternal punishment?" And I will feel pressured into giving some long, prayer, rattling off words to God so that He will be impressed with me and finally hear me.
Honestly, the pressure of the feeling that I need to spew out a huge speech before God every time I pray for anything can keep me from praying at all. So then I start subconsciously running away from the presence of God because I don't feel like making some big speech at that moment.
But thankfully, Jesus came to set us free from religion. Whenever you feel like like this, read Matthew 6:7-8.
"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
So then, in prayer, be honest and simple. Believe God hears you not based on how pretty your speech is, but on what Jesus did to bring you into the presence of the Father to His throne of grace.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
There have been some rocky parts, but over all, it was a good Christmas.
I got me some readin' material. Mom bought me Abba's Child by Breenan Manning, Grace Rules by Steve McVey and The Shack by William Young. I've already started reading them all. The one I've been reading most is The Shack. Things are just now picking up and I'm excited to read it.
I also got a load of Itunes gift cards from my cousin Paul and my mom. about 75 bucks in all. That's 75 songs. I got some clothes and 2 bookstore giftcards from mom and my grandpa and grandma.
One of my favorite gifts came from our neighbor, Debbie. She was extremely kind to us this Christmas. She invited us to her home to eat Christmas dinner with her and her boyfriend, Alex. They were extremely hospitable and generous. Debbie found the way to straight to my heart by buying me a bag of coffee from this coffee place here called Caffino. We all had some last night and this afternoon with the cherry pie she baked for desert. It's really good stuff. Folgers just doesn't do it for ya after you have had Caffino's $10 a bag coffee.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
They are amazing to me and my mom. They are amazingly faithful to us. They have a genuine love for the Lord and an honest desire to follow Him.
I want to show them the same love and faithfulness they have shown to me without any fear.
You can check out our website at Vinefellowship.com
I'm not sure where exactly they stand on the issue of grace, but they are all wonderful.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It should be up sometime this evening for Thursday 12/20.
What I asked is sort of what I'm going through again at the moment.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Is it that we are to trust in Jesus Christ and then go out and trust Him to empower us to live Godly lives, or do we wait for Him to change us? When I go out and trust Jesus to live in me, there seems to be a lot of times where I see things that don't look so Christ-like. And I also eventually lose control and cannot get my mind on Jesus. Some days I'm just not able to focus enough to trust Jesus to live in me and through me. When everything inside me feels contrary to what I would like to do, how do I get Christ to live through me? There are times when I simply do not have the capacity to love someone or even be nice and the only thing I know to do is to shut up.
To put it simply, I am asking this: Am I to wait for the fruit, or do I go out and believe Christ will produce it?
When I try to live by faith in Jesus to produce fruit in me, I eventually get exhausted and unfocused.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
During this time I kept telling myself "Ok...Christ is in you" and "Don't be a jerk". And I was...I let it spew a little. No condemnation. I know I'm not condemned. But I was again confused, thinking I need to do something, being the Christian. I need to help. But there was no ability in me at all to be kind or understanding. I wanted to go outside and pray, but I felt I needed to stay there because mom was upset. But I ended up making things worse. I guess I had the "save the world" mentality.
I was frustrated and I prayed to the Father and asked "How do I activate Your Spirit!?"
I told Him something like, "I don't feel very much like a Christian right now. Nothing in me wants to love. I would like to be loving, but it isn't there. I don't even have the capacity."
Where is the button I push to get things going?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"And He said the kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. but when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." This reminds me of what Paul said in Colossians chapter 1:
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf."
Also, in Matthew 13: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I realized something when I was at Steve McVey's blog. His recent entry on a believer being persecuted named Weihan Shi. I feel selfish for posting this. I'm only concerned for my well-being.
I ignored this post this week thinking I don't need to do anything because I didn't feel led. I felt I should only do it from a genuine heart of love and if I didn't have the love to do something, then I shouldn't do it. But then I remembered the passage in the Bible on "Seeing his brother in need and shutting his heart up". That's scary. Where is the love?
Monday, December 10, 2007
I'm in one of those moods where I physically feel slouchy, tired and irritable. So how do I overcome this and quit being a jerk to people? I'm bored, irritable and lazy. It honestly hurts me even to talk.
Answer: By the Spirit! ....How?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
It confuses me so much as to why Christians focus so much on morality and "Christian living". We have an amazing God who loves us! Why do we dwell so much on what we do instead of who He is? I'm not saying we shouldn't talk about holiness. Of course we want to honor God and stir up one another to love and good works, but we aren't out to save the world and work for Jesus! God could do all that with a snap of His finger if that's what He really wanted!!! He doesn't want our slaving away for Him. He wants us!! I think if the majority of our time was spent on learning more of God's love and grace then difficulty with sin and disobedience would fade into nothingness. Why do we settle for the same old boring reminders that we ought to be living right instead of focusing on the Life Himself? I want Jesus, guys. I'm not interested in having a job.
I love God so much and I want so much to honor Him in all I do. But it won't come through my valiant efforts at service. It has to come from Him. Sometimes it hits me in these moments of clarity where I'm able to recognize my "branchness" and realize how I'm absolutely nothing without God. So, if that's true, then it isn't about me. It's about Him. Why do I think I'm able to do anything? Why do I keep getting tempted to rush along the sanctification process? Because I want instant shake and bake results. I subconsciously become insecure in God's love.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
I'm not judging anyone or anything but it does make me cringe a little when I see things like this. I just think people ought to quit with the flashy stuff. I could care less what your set looks like and how you dress or what kind of haircut you have! I just wanna hear the PURE, UNTAINTED GOSPEL! I don't care how pretty a book cover is. I just want it to tell the truth about the Good News. Again, I'm not bashing anyone or anything...This is just my opinion.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
When I try to understand things too much, and try to put faith in them, then it will be impossible. I can't understand spiritual things with my mind. Of course we are to trust He personally died for us, but struggling to grasp the fullness of that will wear us out. We will never completely understand with our minds, what Jesus did on the cross. Terry Rayburn, in a message I listened to shortly after this anxiety and frustration, said something very encouraging. He talked about how we need to break out of the bondage of trying to understand things in order to believe them. I admit I am terrible with this. I struggle to see my faith and wonder if I believed it right and so on and so forth. Questions such as "Do I really know Jesus?" and "Did I really believe that it was MY sins that He died for?" will plague the person who struggle to understand everything.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Just today I was going to post a blog entry about Universalism, New Age and how much I despise those beliefs. I was going to make the comment about how Oprah likes to quote scriptures from the Bible, but ignores things like the gospel and that there are none righteous, not even one. Then I realized how I still shy away from books like James, 1 and 2nd Peter, parts of Revelation and parts of other books because they seem to contradict the gospel. I know it's simply my lack of understanding, but I've yet to understand a lot of those things and I get scared when I read certain passages. This happened in Hebrews very often before I understood grace and the New Covenant. Now I love Hebrews. It always makes me very confident in the gospel.
But there are parts where I intentionally avoid because I feel I don't understand them or am not ready for them. I used to make myself read everything because I felt that I had to have all my theological pieces in order so that I could be a good Christian. But now I'm starting from the Gospel. Pure Gospel.
I worry at times because I can't love people the way I want and I can't surrender completely to God and love Him as much as I want to. Maybe it's a part of the "slow cooking" process. But I want to go higher and higher in love, faith and hope. I want to explode into the air, flying in the Spirit, loving God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength. But I find it difficult to understand and grasp God's love. I also have difficulty slowing myself down to meditate on Him.
"Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more."
Glory to God in the highest for His steadfast, unwavering love and grace. Glory to Him because He is God and there is no other. I wish I could love Him like He deserves to be loved.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Notice He doesn't say you will know them by their actions or by their behavior. He uses the idea of fruit for a very good reason. You see, a good man will naturally produce good and an evil man will naturally produce evil. "For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks".
Can you pick grapes from a bramble bush? How then can good fruit come from someone who has dedicated their life to Christ? If a good man, out of his good treasure, brings forth good, then what need is there in dedication and striving? Should not the work actually be then to simply remain in Christ?
Jesus said if you continue in His Word, you are His disciples indeed. What is His Word? Is it not the gospel? Why do we leave to Vine in order to try and produce something good for God? Is it not finished? Is He not also our sanctification and redemption, along with our salvation? Or does God's grace simply stop at the cross? Does it not go on to the resurrection?
This is very hard for me to articulate. But I hope and pray to God that this truth of the fruit of the Spirit would be a reality in my life. That I would simply "be" and cease striving and worrying.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's pronounced "Day-lon". Not "Day-lawn" lol.
My first name is Matthew. I prefer Matthew, but I'm mostly called Matt.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Just a little while ago, I was on Xbox Live with my little brother, Josh. I play for a good 2 hours. I didn't really want to play, but my brother wanted me to watch something, so I got on after I scarfed down a good helping of lasagna (which I also started to feel accusations for).
I felt as though I ought not play the Xbox so long. I felt I ought not have goofed off with my little brother so much. I felt as if I should have acted more reserved and holy. In the probably hour and a half I was playing, I was feeling so many screams of accusation, threats, and the need for re-dedication.
Then I ignored them. Then I felt like maybe I ought not ignore these accusations and things, because I might drift away from God and have the Word choked by cares, riches and pleasures of this life (which is one the "voices" favorite verses to use against me).
Freedom is scary. It makes me think I'm drifting away from God. I so dearly do not want to. I love God and I want to honor Him in all that I do, but I constantly feel I am letting Him down by spending too much time on the computer, video games, whatever.
I was just talking with my friend, Heather on myspace. She said that the road of grace is a lonely road. Indeed it is. A scary road. A hard road. Everything in your mind will threaten you and try to pull you back into religion. I love God! But I can't keep up the religious crap. It's duty with no heart in it. I can't have relationship with God if I'm constantly worried if I'm screwing up!
I'm not saying I ruin wild, sin, and do whatever either. I'm simply saying I need to be myself. I need to quit analyzing every word, action, and thought when I'm with someone. I just need/want to be their friend. Neither do I want to do this in order to convert them. Thats also the wrong motivation. Of course, I would love to see someone saved. I wouldn't be much of a believer in what Jesus said if I didn't. But I refuse to proselytize anyone. I want to be free and I want them to be free. I want to be free from oppression. Simply freedom to soak in the love of God and allow Him to love others through me. I want the real stuff. I want simplicity. I want disorganization. I want to be imperfectly perfect. I want to be a fumbler and a bumbler so that people (including myself) can see that it isn't me, but God.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I find it much more fulfilling if I simply rest in Him. But slowing myself down in order to soak in Him is a job. I want everything at once. In my inner being, I am eagerly waiting for Jesus to return.
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him".
How much longer must we wait!?
Friday, November 23, 2007
If I am not spending most of my waking hours in conscious prayer or meditation on God, I feel insincere. I struggle to believe I have God's Spirit inside me, because I struggle with seeing my own faith in Christ's resurrection. I find myself worrying that I never really put faith in Christ's resurrection because I try to see my faith. I'm easily deceived into thinking I am the only person that goes through these attacks. I feel that if I really had faith, I would be some super Christian or I would at least be doing more than I am now. Why? Possibly because there is so much emphasis on obedience.
People have emphasized the importance of their service to Christ. But just the other day, Jesus' very own words came to my mind... "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many".
I want obedience; I just have a big problem with slavery. I've told people before that if I could love God as much as I loved my ex-girlfriend, I would be the best Christian in the world. The best? How can I be better than Jesus? If every believer has His righteousness, then what qualifies as a "good" Christian? When I worry about my performance or my faith, I lose faith in Christ and my faith becomes directed towards my faith. I start to try to put faith in my faith and not in Jesus Christ. The enemy is very deceptive. I seem to fall for it every time...Though I am learning to stand my ground even when the feelings of condemnation and accusations are constantly crashing into my mind. When I give into this, I seem to be running in circles.
Day after day I sin. I'm slowly growing in grace. The accusations constantly seem to try and snatch away the seeds of the gospel so that I may not believe and grow. I can sometimes feel something stirring inside me, groaning, wanting to be released. This body often feels like a cage that prevents me from being completely free in the love of God. Sometimes I feel like I'm drunk. Like I don't really understand things very clearly. Especially God's grace. When I used to get drunk, people could mess with my head and really make me depressed. I feel sort of the same way with the accusations.
I struggle with living by faith that God has made me alive. I'm struggling to articulate exactly what tries to worry me. Sometimes I will hear something and it will cause my heart to sink. I'll feel an attack. I wonder how I'm suppose to habitually live by faith that Christ has made me alive. To habitually commune with Him.
I'm just expressing somethings inside that I don't really understand myself.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I know someone who never breaks a single law of the land. He never drives above the speed limit, never litters, never disturbs the peace, never does anything wrong at all. One might be inclined to say that he keeps all the laws, but I could argue the point. The person I'm thinking of is my grandfather. I'll tell you one more thing about him: he died years ago. Possessing that knowledge, would you say that he is keeping the laws of the land? Probably not, because you know that he has no relation to the laws of the land anymore. They simply have no relevance to where he lives today, in heaven. He has been "disconnected" from the law by virtue of his death. It would be absurd to insist that he is keeping the law just because he doesn't break it."
- Taken from "Grace Amazing" by Steve McVey
I struggle with this. I was watching the movie Deck the Halls the other night and there was a scene where all the people started singing O Holy Night or something...
Anyway, I felt myself get angry because they were ordinary people. Sinners, the fundamentalists would call them. And I had to realize I'm no better than they are. Even if it was one day out of the year they acknowledged the Savior. I'm not advocating it...but I refuse to think I'm better than them. Jesus died for the sinners, not the righteous.
All people means exactly what it says.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I can get on Xbox Live playing Halo 3 sometimes and someone says something crude or whatever and I'll have the "giggles" and laugh at it. Or simply playing the game alone makes me feel guilty. I'll start to goof off and cut up and I feel like I'm my old self. Not that I get crude or anything..I just goof off. I guess it's the pride in me that wants to act holier than thou and be very reserved or whatever.
One of my main concerns is that I will listen to a grace message or I will be refreshed in my understanding of it and in my excitement the first thing I do is run off to play a game, or whatever it may be. Then I feel guilty. I feel I squandered what I've just learned. I feel I should have used that time for prayer or meditation. But the reason I do this is because once I have filling of grace, I don't really know of anything else to do to experience God more, so I run off and do "secular" things. I think I may just be legalistic about this and hard on myself. I might need to lighten up, but one voice I hear is the parable of the four soils quoted to me about the Word being choked by cares, riches, and pleasures of this life. This makes me nervous.
What am I to do in order to have more of God? Pray? It's hard to slow myself down enough to pray when I get in these moods. I feel like some 8 year old kid diagnosed with ADHD who has juice around his mouth and sticky fingers.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I absolutely hate being lazy. But I also hate being a perfectionist.
Today I've just been lounging around, sleeping. I guess the same could be said for yesterday, apart from the 4 hours I spent at our home group.
I notice I feel anxious when I do nothing and I really dislike the feeling. I feel useless and out of touch with God. Like He is frowning on me or something. I know it isn't true, but I still get this feeling of anxiousness. I'm having a mild head cold and I can't seem to shake off the slouchyness. Argh. Times like these, for some reason, make me hesitant to read the Bible or hear grace messages. I simply feel unworthy for them when I'm just sitting around. I feel insincere or unworthy. Yuck.
I wish mom would wake up from the couch so I could wash dishes or do something! I hate lying around doing nothing!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Here ya go: The Power of Sin
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I told Him I don't understand how He can like, let alone love someone like me. I said I was a mess. I am more than a mess. I'm inconsistent in all that I say, think, feel and do. I don't understand why He insists on loving me when, in all my understanding, I seem worthless. I'm not depressed or sorrowful or anything. I'm just genuinely confused about God's love. I think evil (and I do mean evil) thoughts. Sometimes they're evil desires, sometimes they're random thoughts. Even against my own brothers and sisters. I will criticize them in my thoughts. And He still loves me? I mean I knew He is faithful when we are faithless, but I had no idea how faithless I was until I tried to be faithful.
I'm not talking faithless in some areas or inconsistent in just some things I do. It's everything. I'm not perfect. No where near it. Perfection, and my actions are as far as the east is from the west. I'm a perfect, imperfect person. I'm righteous, but I'm unrighteous. I feel a lot like Alanis Morissette's song "One Hand in my Pocket". My actions are completely contrary to who I really am.
And I'm suppose to believe that God loves me? People call this easy grace? What a load of ignorance. How easy was it for Adam to approach God after he had sinned? To come before God, naked. Jesus was right when He said that people who do evil hate the Light and do not come to the Light, for fear that their deeds may be exposed. But what they don't know is the Light seeks to cover their nakedness, not expose it. And so they don't believe in God's love. Every time we hide from God, we're saying we need more sacrifice for our sins. But if you're looking for more, the writer of Hebrews (The Holy Spirit) said, "There is no longer any offering for sin." Stiff necked people resist the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Grace.
Do not let an evil heart of unbelief be in you even for a moment. While you were a sinner, totally unredeemed, God loved you with all His precious being. Do not take lightly the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Friday, November 2, 2007
What caused this was listening to Bob George's latest sermon and he expressed what the parable of the four soils meant. Anyway, I felt my heart sink after I heard it. I felt I was someone who had no root in me. I felt that I soak the message of grace up at home, but in day-to-day living I sort forget and try to do things myself or I shy away from certain situations. So I've been trying to be more open and forward around people lately. I've had some success I guess. I try and remember who I am in Christ and that I shouldn't be afraid of anyone.
Scary stuff at times.
I see that we have grace all backwards. We believe it is my commitment to Jesus so that He could forgive me. When in actuality, it is His commitment to me so that He could forgive me.
And so we see it is an insult to grace to dedicate my life to Jesus in order to get some acceptance or a badge or some form of approval. Each time we do this, we treat the precious Blood of the Covenant as an unholy thing. Because when you break it down and look at the reason behind your re-dedication, you see it is actually you trying to cover up your sins and mistakes by your good behavior and good deeds. You're playing a Wizard of Oz. Telling God to, "Pay no attention to my sin behind the curtain! Look at the flashy, magnificent show I have going on on the outside of it!"
If dedicating my life to Jesus worked, then why would I have need of re-dedicating? Why would God call me to fail at something over and over? Doesn't sound like Life abundant to me. It may look like Life, but it's only a mimicking of Life. And so you fail and burnout. Because man does not have Life within himself. If we want to act good, we need the Cause, not the effect. We need the root, not the fruit. Don't focus on the fruit, because it ain't your job. Which is why it doesn't say the fruit of the saint. It says the fruit of the Spirit. Try as you may to produce fruit, but you will just wither up.
Isn't it ironic people have used this verse to tell people that if they don't have fruit then they're not working hard enough or are not as sincere as those who work harder than the others? It speaks to the very people who struggle to produce fruit, rather than rest in the Vine.
Jesus told them He was the Vine. YOU are the branches. Quit trying to do the Vine's job. We are to bear fruit with PATIENCE. And so we STRIVE to enter that rest. Because, as Paul Anderson Walsh said once: "Everything in your mind will tell you, "I must not rest. I must work."
Sunday, October 28, 2007
He gave a quote of a woman who had said something like: "You can't plant something and keep digging it up, looking to see if it's growing."
He went on to talk about how we need to learn to rest in Christ. I agree. And for me, this is the toughest part of the Grace Walk. Which would be learning to have a Godward gaze, because there are a million times in the day where I lose focus and start drifting off the narrow road of grace. It doesn't even have to be self sufficiency that causes me to wander. Sin and worldly distractions are also a major cause of my shifting focus.
Edit: I think it is also safe to say that a lot of people, including myself, have believed that faith without perfection is dead. This is what causes the constant analysis of myself. So I can relate to people who go through the same cycle of evaluating themselves and worrying when they don't express all the actions of the idea they have in their mind as to what a Christian really is.
We talk beautiful talks about being on fire for Jesus and such. But it's all lies. You can't love Him unless He first loves you. So people who claim to love Jesus so much under legalism, are lying. I do believe they WANT to love Jesus. But their efforts at forcing themselves to love Him are futile. I tried it as well. I can't love Him unless I first let Him love me. People are so quick to get people to work, thinking that is what discipleship is all about. They don't allow people to be established in grace. And so they end up burning out, or leaving the faith entirely, because they have found they just cannot be a "true Christian."
Yes, I get pissed off at people who constantly push people to sacrifice themselves, but have no love in their hearts. All they have is self-mutilation and then calling it love. They have the shadow, but not the Reality Himself.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Faith needs an outlet. It can't be contained. Garth Brooks' song called "Standing Outside the Fire" seems to describe the way I feel sometimes when it says, "There is this love that is burning, deep in my soul, constantly yearning to get out of control; wanting to fly, higher and higher. I can't abide, standing outside the fire."
This is faith and works. Do not even dare to make works a job or command people to have works. Then it's no longer faith operating. It's guilt and fear. We must first have faith to be inspired for works. Faith will inspire works if you simply believe the gospel. Works are a gift from God to us so that we can have tangible experiences of God's love. But we have made faith and works into theology. What a load of crap. Stay away from people who seek to get their theological puzzles in order but neglect faith and love.
God has called us to a relationship, not a job. He has called us to love, not a job. Don't let the ignorant bring you into slavery with guilt and condemnation. They say faith without works are dead, but they don't give people a chance to have faith, because they're so concerned with working.
God wants our works to be natural. He doesn't want us as employees. He wants us as His bride.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It hit me hard that all our efforts at perfection are useless and of no value. My struggles to read the Bible every day, pray everyday, be a good Christian and whatever else, is all for nothing if it doesn't spring from faith in the gospel. The Holy Spirit said through Paul that the ONLY thing that counts is faith working through love. Not striving in a war against sin, but simple love springing up from faith in the pure, unedited gospel. This means all other works we do will not even be acknowledged at the judgment seat of Christ. God loves a cheerful giver. Don't tell me I have to read my bible. I want to read it! It may not be for 2 hours a day, but I want to! Don't tell me I have to pray. I want to pray! I may not want to pray an hour everyday, but I want to pray! Don't tell me I have to give. I want to give! I may not give $100, but I want to give!
You see, when you order people to behave a certain way, you strip the gospel of a pure heart and make it into a job. You take the love out of it and have made it a list of rules.
I might give up my body to the Lord to be burned, but if it's only religious duty and not out of love, then I did it for nothing.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Jesus said you will know His followers by their fruit, not their behavior. In other words, it will be natural for them because fruit is natural, and the Spirit produces it, because goodness is from God's Spirit, and it is natural of His Spirit to be good. Struggling to have your behavior change may make you seem good, but it can do nothing to give you life from death. God is life. "In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men." The Ten Commandments are nothing more than a shadow of the Reality. God is the life.
We're going out to eat at Olive Garden after church today (yum!)
I love Olive Garden.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I'll take a guess and say "former sins" is in reference to who the person used to be? Like in 1 Corinthians when Paul writes a list of sins, and then follows it by saying: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Concerning "Make your calling and election sure." I have no idea what that means.
Can anyone help me out?
Monday, October 8, 2007
It's almost as if I'm angry at God's love sometimes. I want Him to be mad at me so I can re-dedicate myself to be better for Him. But the gospel is so annoying. It will not allow condemnation. God doesn't condemn me. He wants me to experience His goodness. It literally grieves Him when I sin. There is no anger or condemnation. I try to hide, but I hear, "Matt, where are you?" He wants me, but I want Him to leave me alone. I'm filthy and evil, and He is beautiful and gorgeous.
I feel so grieved by my sin. I can't hang onto it. It's hard to let go...I want so much to be better. But my efforts only last for a season. His love endures forever. I honestly want Him to be angry with me so I can re-dedicate myself to be better for Him. But it's not there. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
I've replayed a scene in the movie "Hook" over and over. Robin Williams, who plays Peter Pan, gets his 'happy thought', laughs, and starts to fly. Then he stops laughing, and in an "oh crap" sort of tone says: "I lost it" and then starts to fall.
Faith in grace, I think, is when it doesn't even make sense to you and you plunge into it anyway. It's the attitude that says, "screw it", and jumps. Believing Jesus loves me regardless of anything I think, feel, do or say is the toughest leap of faith. This is what it means to believe. To give up being good and to seek Jesus. I don't mean we live sinful lives. I mean we quit worrying about sin, and put our trust in Jesus. To do this, you have to die to the law completely. The law will nullify your attempts at faith in Jesus. I've had it happen over and over again.
Everything in your mind will tell you to focus on your behavior and try to point out everything thats going wrong inside of you and outside of you. The law will continue to bring to your mind more and more failures. That's all it can and will do.
When Jesus talked about not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing, I think He may have also meant not to even acknowledge your behavior, whether good or bad.
I also realized that when Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits", He didn't say, "You will know them by their behavior." He said fruit. Fruit is natural. Good trees bear good fruit. It's simple. Bad trees bear bad fruit. You can live under the law all you want, but Jesus is the only good tree that bears good fruit. Without Jesus, you can't do anything. You will only bear fruit for death under the law.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I honestly agree with him. Not that Christ is a job, but that He is portrayed as one through Christians.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I ended up, after a brief moment of butting heads with mom, getting very frustrated and irritated and getting very angry. But I despise my anger. I hate my actions done in anger. It wasn't that I felt condemned or anything, but that I had a genuine hatred for my sin. I just wanted it to go away. I also saw in that moment other areas where I suck. With selfishness, bitterness, pride, and laziness. I had afterward, started talking to God. In the middle of talking, I thought of people who preach law. I yelled to God very angrily, "How in the hell do they do it!?" I went on for a few minutes about how they must live in some fairytale world where they must not know how pitiable, wretched, blind and poor they really are under the law. I was very angry with people who basically say "suck it up". I really wish they would take the time to look into themselves under pure, undiluted law and see how wretched they really are. Sure, you can look nice, happy, holy, and whatever. But is that a true reflection of the inside, or are people trying to, "Clean the outside of the cup?"
It really got me angry when I thought of people I've heard preach law and self sanctification. It sounds so ridiculous to me now when I hear someone basically say something like, "Produce in yourself the fruit of the Spirit." It makes no sense to tell someone to have the fruit of the Spirit. Sure, you can mimic the fruit of the Spirit, but you can't produce it. I would love to see any human produce genuine agape, joy, peace, kindess, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. I would love it if I could do that stuff simply by willing myself to do it. I've even tried. But to no avail. It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.
I feel a little guilty for writing this, but it's what I felt.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I formerly wanted to be martyred to prove my sincerity to myself and to God, thus putting faith in my faith and not in Jesus. I would literally be so stressed out about this because I wasn't sure if I would deny Christ or not. I had no idea what I would do, so I was worried constantly about this. I would be stressed all the time. But I wasn't putting faith in the gospel with that preaching that if I wasn't obedient, I would go to hell. Which actually prevented me from putting faith in the gospel. Because now I had to rely on my own faithfulness. So faith in Christ was nullified through faith in myself. You can't balance grace with law. I've tried and tried. It doesn't work.
But I find through trust in the gospel, I am definitely more likely to endure persecution. Now I know that it's not me, but Christ. My salvation is sure and safe. It doesn't depend on me, but Christ.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"Watchman Nee once asked a class of children, 'Who is a sinner?' and their immediate reply was, 'One who sins.' He responded, 'Yes, one who sins is a sinner, but the fact that he sins is merely the evidence that he is already a sinner; it is not the cause. One who sins is a sinner, but it is equally true that one who does not sin, if he is of Adams race, is a sinner too, and in need of redemption. Do you follow me? There are bad sinners and good sinners, there are moral sinners and there are corrupt sinners, but they are all alike sinners.' "
So not much is going on lately. I've just been putting my full weight in grace. I notice I love prayer so much more when I'm in complete grace. Because in grace, God can hear me. I don't have to make huge, articulated, well explained prayers. I can just speak and believe God hears me, regardless of my behavior. I've been thinking about praying the psalms lately, but I never get to it. What I really want is simply a constant awareness of God's Spirit in me and my union with Him. I get tired of having to sense closeness with God only when I'm doing something like praying, reading the Bible, meditating, etc. I want to go mobile. lol. I ought to be able to have an awareness of God's presence even when I'm not doing any of the above. That's one major problem with me and doing my obligations. It's hard for me to focus on anything else other than God, because I get so irritated, anxious and homesick when I'm not aware of Him. I want to run and pray or read a grace book, or blog, or bible verse or whatever. Then when I'm able to, I don't. Because my body wants to watch TV or whatever and I'm sitting there hating every second of it because I want to be close to God.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Tonight was just the cherry on top.
Mom and I were driving back from a church she decided to try called, "The Body", then on the way home I expressed my opinion on what repentance for salvation is. I got yelled at and blasted pretty hard. I was accused of being "obsessed with the subject" and whatever.
I'm still pretty angry and left with a sense of insecurity. I got that heart sinking feeling.
I was just introducing the idea that I couldn't reconcile repenting from sin to be saved with "We don't clean ourselves up before we come to God". I told her I don't think quitting sinning has anything to do with salvation. I'm not saying people don't quit sinning. I'm saying sanctification is by the Spirit and not by human effort. I do believe in a change of heart toward God. But I believe repentance for salvation is repenting from the sin of unbelief.
She said "How do you expect anybody to get saved talking like that?" I said they will "Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved".
I asked what repentance meant then if our behavior has nothing to do with salvation. She said it's basically saying you're sorry and trying your best to quit. I know she just doesn't quite understand my point, but it's got me feeling down. Again, I'm not saying people don't feel sorry for their sin and repent from sin.
To be honest, I was excited to get blasted for it in a sense because people persecuted Paul because of the teaching of grace and accused him of preaching, "Let's do evil that good may come". - But then I thought and realized, this is my mom. Why am I excited she's angry at grace? Then I felt crappy for that. But when you're angry and hurt you tend to be blinded from the important things.
I'm just left with this feeling of "Am I right?".
If repentance is more than just feeling sorry for your sin, then how sinless do I have to be before I can consider myself truly repentant? Am I just splitting hairs? I don't want to spread lies. If it's wrong, I want to know. But Paul said we don't receive the Spirit by works of the law or adhering to the law, but by faith and faith alone.
But, John the Baptist told people "let him who steals steal no longer" and so on. So is repentance turning from sin or unbelief? - Or both?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I was addicted to Enya when I first started searching for God. I wasn't saved then I don't think. I had no understanding of the gospel, but God had put a STRONG love and desire in my heart to know Him.
Anyway, This is one of the songs I played over and over when I thought of Him. I remember not being afraid of a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. I would have gladly died for God. I would have quit any sin gladly. I remember flipping through channels and seeing girls gone wild commercials and I wouldn't be interested in the least. I was on this mountain for awhile. I soon came to understand the gospel.
But then came standard procedure grace, Calvinism, Arminism, performance, etc.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
On a lighter note, mom and I have started school again to get my GED, or, as Chris Rock once said: "Good Enough Diploma".
I forgot how much it hurts to sit in a desk for a few hours. I've also realized how terrible I am at math. Terrible seems to sugar coat it. I'm pretty good at English though. So I have no worries about that.
I'm very "out of it" lately in everything. I forget things, I can't focus, I goof off, I drive myself completely insane. I feel like I caught airborne ADD or something.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I can't pray. I want to. I can't keep my mind on Christ and allow Him to live in me...One reason is I simply cannot concentrate on Him. The other is I keep breathing against the machine as Steve McVey put it in his book Grace Walk. I try, rather than rest in my identity. I feel like I talk about and read the Bible and grace, but never apply it. I want freedom to just be in love with God and then just...live. I want good works, but I don't want it to be a job. I want it to be from life. Everywhere I go, Christian make Jesus like boarding school or boot camp. And the weight of oppression I feel when they teach that just completely disables me to love God. I try, but to no avail. "The flesh profits nothing."
An old best friend came by tonight and I felt "yucky" because I wasn't in "holy mode". I acted ...normal? I talked about old times and tried to be funny. I didn't mention God. I wasn't preaching the gospel. I didn't try to say all the right things. But I still felt nagging voices telling me how unholy I am. I can say really foolish things an act foolish, then feel like a complete loser afterwards. Not condemned, but just..stuck. Stuck in a body that wants things I don't want it to want.
If I seem repetitive, it isn't intentional.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Throughout the day I feel I have lack of control. I sort of feel like I'm drifting. I guess it's still getting used to the transition from law to grace. I backslide into law very easily without knowing it. And I'm honestly afraid of pure grace. I guess I had this idea in my head that as soon as I come to grace, I would stand firm without a problem. I thought I would have a lot more consistency with things like prayer right from the start.
My biggest fear is that I'm just drifting, not really doing anything. I want to have deep fellowship with God. Always thinking of Him and obsessed with Him. I want Him, but I don't allow myself to have Him, because my flesh is screaming to be fed.
I feel out of control and between two worlds. One foot in law and one foot in grace. It's like grace still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I'm not sure. It's this most difficult thing in the world. About like threading a needle. No wonder Jesus said the Gate is narrow and the Way is difficult. I constantly feel the need for guilt and condemnation, because I feel without it, I will just sin like the devil. And I worry that if pure grace sets in, I will drift.
I know that is wrong. But it just hasn't been totally absorbed into my being yet. If that makes sense.
On top of that...I have a lot of fears. One being I haven't been to church in a few weeks. The other is this voice saying "People don't like you". "They know you're evil".
It's ridiculous really.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
'Look, you scoffers,
Be astounded and perish;
For I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even
if one tells it to you.' "
Monday, September 10, 2007
A professional football player, husband and father loses his memory and has suffered brain damaged in a car accident. He was in a coma, eventually woke up, but didn't remember his family. The brain damage caused him to think he was playing football or something at times. He would go in violent rages and forget where he was. Sort of like people who have been in a war and have flashbacks.
Anyway, the family takes him back home immediately, against the doctors advice, thinking that he would be alright once they got him around familiar settings. So they bring him home and he starts going in these fits of rage and things. He isn't himself anymore because of his brain damage. So the family finally decides to send him away to get professional help.
Eventually he comes home, and acts like he's himself again. He appears to remember everything. He's acting sane and in his right mind. Only he isn't- His wife, as he's sleeping, finds cue cards that had fallen out of his clothes. Cards that tell him what to say and how to act.
Anyway, I thought this was quite similar to the Christian religion. We want immediate results, so we whip our cue card (the bible) and learn what to say, what to do, then try and do it. Only it can never fix the problem. It patches it up, and hides the problem. It does nothing to heal the brain damage. It's phony. It's like those plastic fruit bowls that my grandma uses to decorate her dining room table with. It looks like the real thing, but it's fake. A carved idol. A counterfeit. Bootleg righteousness.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I used to understand "It is done!" differently. Now I'm able to see it as an echo from the cross.
He is also, "The Beginning and the End." I believe this could possibly be reference to our salvation and sanctification. "From faith to faith." It is Christ through and through and there are no grounds for boasting.
I'm still wondering what this means in Revelation19:8:
"It was granted to her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure- For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints."
My guess is that the righteous deeds are our deeds done in faith? In other words, allowing Jesus to live through us. Because, as it's written, "Apart from faith, it is impossible to please God".
Anyone have any other insight on these two passages?
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
In the same way, I believe works without faith are dead.
Works are the effect, not the cause. God is our focus and our love. Not works. The works are a natural over flow. Which is why the bible refers to it as the fruit. Fruit grows naturally on a branch when it is connected to the vine.
"Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles." We can't be alive if we are dead. Good works don't come from striving, but being. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. If we don't abide in Him, we are withered.
I've always heard this as if I don't produce fruit for God, then I will be withered. But Jesus says exactly the opposite. If I try and produce fruit, I will be, "cast out as a branch and withered."
"A good person, out of his good treasure, brings forth good."
Good fruit is suppose to be (super)-natural from the indwelling life of Christ. How else could we, "run and not grow weary"?
I may be the biggest contradiction in the world. I pretend to be Christian around my brothers and sisters, but when I'm not around them I get angry at things they say.
I'm very intolerant against the slightest hint of legalism. And I hate that. I will dissect every word Christians say to make sure it's in line with the gospel. I don't want to hate my brothers and sisters. I don't want to sin..I don't want to be selfish or lazy. But I find myself doing it more often than not.
I've lost focus of Christ today. I had the thoughts that I must not be a Christian because I'm so evil.
My friends pray for me and all I do is think evil of them because I'm afraid they're going to scare me with legalism.
I try not to allow myself to feel condemned, but the weight of my sin bears down on me so hard sometimes.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I had always questioned this, because of how repentance is defined by the Church. It just contradicts something else I hear from the Church, which is "You don't clean yourself up and then come to God."
Also, it just doesn't make sense with the freeness of the gospel to me at all. Now, I believe in repentance, but I do not believe it means "turning away from sin". I'm sorry, that just doesn't make sense.
If repentance is, as they say, "Not just feeling sorry for your sin, but turning away from it", then no one has ever completely repented because no one is ever sinless. So there must be something deeper here.
Also, I'm reminded of what Jesus said in Luke chapter 13.
"Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
Which brings me to the ridiculous theories, some so-called Christians have come up with about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Some have said these people suffered in that way because of "all their sin". Do we even read the Bible? Having eyes to see, do we still not see?
The sin is unbelief. This, I think, is the sin we repent of. Otherwise, if repentance were turning away from sin, then how much sin must you turn away from before you're able to come to Jesus for salvation? Excuse me, but I thought Jesus was the Physician. I thought He was the Savior. But you're saying I must reach some unknown level of sinlessness before I can be saved? I thought you just said that we don't clean ourselves up in order to come to God?
If you think I'm saying It's ok to sin, you've missed my point. My point is that sanctification does not start until after salvation. And this is an ongoing process. - Edit: If anyone has any information on how to speed up this process, then please tell me.
This is just another reason I think people are hindered from coming to Christ. People have put cost on salvation. People cannot quit sinning. Even if they did, you still have the problem of spiritual death. So even if they do eventually learn to muzzle their sin, then what good is that if they're dead on the inside? First let them come to Christ and receive Life.
I may be wrong on this, but I just don't see how todays definition of repentance fits with the gospel.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Let's see what the Holy Spirit, through Paul, says about people who preach the law...
Romans 2:17-23 (ESV):
"But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know His will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you not steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. As it is written, 'The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'"
Remember, all it takes to be guilty of stealing is to covet. All it takes to commit adultery is lust.
Apply this message today: Do you know why everyone outside the Church views the Church as hypocrites, and blasphemes Jesus Christ? Because there are people who boast in a law they cannot keep, and lay it on peoples backs who cannot keep it.
From "Grace Walk" by Steve McVey
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
They condemn themselves. Jesus did not come to condemn...Yet there are some who still don't understand that.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
"O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of ruby, your gates of crystal, and all your wall of precious stones."
"This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their righteousness from Me, declares the Lord."
Friday, August 10, 2007
"For God so loved the world, the He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it maybe clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God."
This was so clear to me as I was reading over it and talking myself through it today.
I was thinking of how people are afraid that pure grace would cause them to sin, and I guess Rob Rufus' idea that grace only reveals what is already there made a light bulb go off in my head. "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
Jesus, I think, was telling Nicodemus that He is grace and truth (the light). I believe He was showing how people, who know they are evil, want to stay in the dark, lest their deeds should be exposed or made manifest. I have definitely noticed a change in my behavior since coming to grace, and some of it hasn't been good. But, just as Rob said, grace is only revealing what is already there. People are so afraid and trapped in a religious mindset that God will condemn them for their sin, that they're terrified of coming to the light. They don't want to sin, because it will leave them broken, with no one but Jesus to trust in. And when they do that, they're automatically forgetting what Jesus said just a few sentences before, which is: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him."
It's all a fear of grace, running to the law for comfort and assurance. Which is self-righteousness and darkness.
It all makes me think of a kid who has a cut or a scrape or something, who, when their parents get out the stinging medicine to keep it from getting infected yell, "No, no!! It will hurt too much!" Then the parents reply, "It has to hurt if it's to heal". A doctor, when checking a broken bone, has to first expose the pain.
It makes me think about the verse "Even though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day". God cares nothing for appearances. He wants to expose the root of the problem, which hurts.
I think this describes some of how I feel living in the grace and love of God.
Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
Forgetting all I'm lacking
I'll take your invitation
You take all of me now...
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you
There's nothing else to lose
There's nothing else to find
There's nothing in the world
That can change my mind
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you....
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you
Just hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment here with you
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I think about how much Christians say there is too much grace in the church these days. The idea that there is need for stronger laws and cracking down on sin. Excuse me, but I see this Old Covenant stuff on TV everyday! I see it on every book shelf. Preachers preaching against everything under the sun. No Harry Potter, no video games, quit cussing, quit gossiping, don't covet, don't commit adultery, stay away from bars.
Anyway, in this episode, the guy Jim calls the Bible the "rule book". And all throughout the show, they make jokes at how the Bible and God is all about keeping laws. I see it all the time. Everyone thinks Christianity is just another religion to add to the pile of the others. It's just another set of rules to live by. So, if we're preaching so much grace, then why doesn't the world see it? Why am I not seeing it? Why do they still see Christians as hypocrites? Because the majority of them are acting like hypocrites by preaching law, but breaking the law. If you've broken one law, you've broken them all James says. So if you can't keep them all, then why try and keep them at all? Why not just trust in Jesus and receive the abundance of grace? You can't love God unless you first let Him love you.
I see how to books everywhere. It's all crap. Pray more, do more, study more, abstain from this, don't touch that, and for heaven sake, stay way from sinners!
I love the church...or rather I want to love them, but I can't stand being around them sometimes with all this religious nonsense.
All the while forgetting that the bible says that the power of sin is the law. So then what do they to solve that problem? "You gotta put the fear of God in 'em!" So then you muzzle the sin problem with fear, rather than going to the Physician. Fear of letting go and trusting God to sanctify you. Fearing that if you sin, God will be angry with you and you will be in danger of the flames of hell.
You know what that sounds like to me? Religion. Old Covenant. Cleaning the outside and forgetting the inside.
You're not preaching grace at all if it isn't all grace. You're not preaching faith at all if you're preaching the slightest hint of law.
The thought came to me concerning the Parable of the Talents, or the Parable of the Ten Minas.
The idea came to me that maybe this servant who did nothing with his mina portrays someone who knows the gospel, but doesn't trust in its purity, thus taking away it's power. The man in the parable buried the talent given him, because he was afraid his master was a severe man.
The reason people revert back to law and rules comes from a fear that Christ doesn't accept them just as they are, and so if He does require good works, then they will have a safety net to fall back on. Or if grace doesn't work, they will have their own works as insurance. Which is really no faith at all. It's saying one thing, and living another. Forced worship, forced love, forced devotion. It all amounts to a pile of stinking religion if you break it down.
I'm not at all sure how exactly to interpret this, but I think I may have gotten a start? Of course I could just be mistaken. But God's grace allows me to be messy. =)
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
"And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, 'If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.' And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease."
Does this sound familiar? I hear about this in the church a lot. We go to person after person seeking what will give us victory in our lives and end the constant feelings of condemnation and unworthiness. We try as hard as we can and re-dedicate ourselves over and over, but things only get worse.
Preachers, revivals, motivational speeches, reading the Bible more, praying more, giving more, helping more, having guilt and condemnation cannot give life. Trying harder only makes things worse. It by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ that gives us life.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
It is the Spirit who gives life. Self-effort and self-discipline does not give life. It can only suppress sin. (I've given the analogy of a muzzled dog who loves biting the postman)
"Apart from the law, sin lies dead." To have victory is to suffer defeat, but to acknowledge defeat is the beginning of victory. "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ." Lets throw away our attempts at becoming more righteous and submit to God's righteousness. We need to quit worrying about all our faults, because we will always have them as long as we're on this earth. So instead, let's live by faith in who God says we already are in Christ Jesus. "The righteousness of Christ."
"Who will save me from this body of death?" Can I by trying harder? Can I by struggling to find all my faults and trying to change? No, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!".
The law came to increase sin, not decrease it (Rom 5:20, 7:5, 7:8, Gal 3:10, 2 Corin 3:6). The harder we struggle, the deeper we sink. It is not by our might! Thank God! It's definitely a road less traveled. Because it makes no sense and is completely a life of faith.
Monday, August 6, 2007
It just doesn't match scripture. Galatians chapter 3 clearly says the Spirit, miracles and all the promises are based on faith, not works. Receiving, not earning. And the other good news is that there is only one faith. You don't have to have faith for different things. You just have to believe in the gospel.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
"What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.""
One thing I did noticed while reading this as I typed it is that the Rock is a Rock of offense. It is not offensive, as the majority of the church would have you believe today because it involves laws, rules, regulations, etc. (Romans 5 and 6 are clear that laws and rules have no part in the life of a believer) The Rock is an offense because God shows no partiality. All are sinners so that God may have MERCY upon all. It just kills us to fully believe that it is all of grace and none of oneself.
In Romans chapter 10, directly below the verses previously mentioned, Paul says,
"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
I've seen this in myself. But reading this is like taking a cold shower in grace. I love being threatened with grace. I love "Either receive it freely and be saved or work for it and be doomed". Threaten me with grace all you want!! =)
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Romans, chapter 5, verse 20:
"Now the law cam in to increase the trespass, (sin) but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."
What this means is the law actually stirs up sin within you. Adding ANYTHING, which includes praying everyday, reading the Bible everyday, or what have you, will only cause you to sin more. The law came in to increase sin, not decrease. So why is the vast majority of the world still preaching law at all if it only inflames sin? This is only talking of salvation, but sanctification. If the laws job is to increase sin, why in the world are we preaching it at all? I mean even in the slightest. There are no have to's. I know it's scary..I get anxious myself. But I am spending a lot more time getting to know God now, I pray no longer because I feel guilty or because a sense of duty. I pray and I read the Word because I want to now. That's not to say I'm some super prayer/bible man now. I probably read and pray less. But there is life in it now. It is no longer dead works.
When I clean up, do kind things or say kind things, I no longer do it (which is a struggle) to earn brownie points better self-discipline. It's the Spirit who gives self-control.
Friday, August 3, 2007
This sets me free to learn to gain boldness and live fearless. It's not my job, but His. He leads, I follow. Please pray that I would dance with the Holy Spirit. To be a doer and not a hearer only. I can be very passive and lazy which scares me. I want boldness, assertiveness and freedom in the Spirit.
I noticed just now that I felt I didn't have enough credits to read Harry Potter because I spent them already this morning by playing Xbox and eating a bag of baked Cheetos. So I thought to myself, "Heres what I'll do...I'll do something nice for mom like clean the kitchen or her bathroom or something, then I'll read some Harry Potter." Because if I just indulge in these things without regulations, I'll love the world too much and I'll fall away from the love of God. I can hear that voice in my head right now that if I do these things too much, one thing will lead to another and I won't love God anymore.
Don't tell me you haven't had this mentality before.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
He gave the analogy of going into a very dusty, dark attic with a flash light. And he goes on to say that when you turn the flash light on, you don't say "Oh no, look at how much dust my flash light has caused!" Why? Because the light is only revealing what is already there. Grace is that light. Law just covers things up and never really deals with it. Grace brings it out into the open.
I've noticed since coming to grace, my sin is much more obvious. I've lost my temper even worse than I would when I was living under law. But thats not to say grace caused me to sin. It's only revealing whats already in me. And only by realizing how sinful I am, can I come to Christ, rather than the law to give me change in my life.
Grace doesn't cause you to sin. It only reveals whats already there. It doesn't increase sin. I know this sounds scary, but it's true. If you see that you have started sinning more obviously under grace than under law, then don't be afraid. You're not getting worse, you're getting a revelation of your indwelling sin, which drives you to seek the Physician. Just go to Christ and ask Him for His Spirit to change you from the inside. Being under law and shoulds is simply muzzling sin, rather than dealing with it.
This is a quote from Rob,
"People say "If you take the law off me then I can just go out and commit adultery."
They are not getting the revelation of the message of grace.
They are getting a revelation of the adultery that is in their hearts."
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
I think one of God's means of discipline is allowing His child to have sin in his or her life (obviously, seeing as nobody is sinless). Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't just change me overnight. I'm sure all Christians wonder why we can't change and do the same things over and over. So we come to the conclusion, "I've got to try harder!"
Again, don't take my word for it, but I think God may allow sin in my own life because it keeps me in grace and allows me to be well established in grace. This is what I mean by grace hurting. To be deeply rooted in grace, means stretching your faith and letting go of the faithlessness of self-righteousness. This is scary and it gets hard sometimes. We know how much God hates sin, and want to overcome it. But perhaps He allows you to have it so you recognize your brokenness. Perhaps He is changing the reason for your desire of increasing in holiness.
If God were to change me overnight, freeing me from timidity, anger, selfishness, and so on, then I would have a bigger problem - Pride. I would drift right back into law and come boldly to the throne of GRACE with my own soiled garments of self-righteousness.
It is one thing to say "His grace is sufficient", but taking the leap of faith to apply that can be painful. It forces you to be honest with your indwelling sin, rather than covering it up with good works, good behavior or re-dedication, which is bondage.
I love how Rob Rufus put it in one sermon. He said he once prayed for God to reveal all his faults so he could fix them. He felt God say, "Son, if I did that, you would want to kill yourself."
Why? Because it would completely overwhelm him. I don't think anyone has the capacity to have that kind of faith.
I noticed, while living under law and shoulds, that I became increasingly aware of my faults. I thought it was because God wanted me to change thus and so about my life. But as I would try and juggle these areas of my life, I would eventually lose rhythm and everything would fall apart (not that I ever had it together).
God was indeed putting more on me than I could bear. The overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and constant condemnation was God driving me to faith.
"What man, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost?"
I realized Jesus wasn't asking me to pay it, but showing me I couldn't. Now it's a daily acknowledgment of that. Every day I try to sink deeper and deeper into Christ and knowing nothing but Him crucified. You could say I take up my cross daily and deny myself. My endeavor is to count all things I thought were gain, as loss for the sake of knowing Christ.
"Whoever would save his life will lose it".