Sunday, October 28, 2007

Easily Entangled

I was listening to Grace Walk Radio again just now and heard someone (I didn't catch his name) talk about resting in Christ without being passive, but also without continual self-examination (which I am terribly guilty of).

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's Outlet

I've been having difficulties lately dealing with my desire to have a more tangible relationship with God. When grace and the gospel fill my heart with faith, I want something, but I have no idea how to get it. I long to see, touch, experience, etc.

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

Branch of Vine

I was over at Branch of Vine today and read a very inspiring post on Galatians chapter 5. I can't get enough of this.

Go check it out: Continuing on Galatians 5

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Mountains

I'm not sure how much longer it will be up, but there is a great sermon by Frank Friedmann over at called "Two Mountains".

It's a wonderful contrast of the two covenants.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Works Without Faith Are Dead

I was so excited last night after reading Joel B's post Beware of Dogs - Part 4

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

God is Life

I was outside the other night thinking about the law and the Spirit. It was so clear to me how we are to be good. I know that Adam and Eve did not have the law, since the law didn't come until Moses. So they had neither knowledge of good or evil. They had knowledge of God. It was in this Godward gaze that they were good (check out 2 Corinthians 3:18). The law empowers sin. Knowledge of GOOD and evil is to lose a Godward gaze and is now a meward gaze. Thus I get no where, because I have no life in me. It is not the law that has life in itself, but God has life in Himself. A sinner can ACT as good as he wants by observing the law, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a sinner.

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.

Happy Burfday!

It's my birthday today. The big 21. I told mom I just wanted a book, but she insisted on getting me Halo 3. Either one was fine though. I was slightly torn because I've really been wanting to read "Whats So Amazing About Grace?" By Philip Yancey. But it's a good birthday none the less.

We're going out to eat at Olive Garden after church today (yum!)

I love Olive Garden.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It burns!

I'm never cutting onions again. I wasn't built for it...I couldn't take it. Even safety glasses didn't work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2nd Peter

I was having some bad dreams last night, so I woke up early this morning at about 4:30AM and read some of 1st and 2nd Peter. I was confused about a few things Peter wrote. Such as the "make your calling and election sure", and also when mentions certain qualities, that if someone is missing, then he is: "So nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins."

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

Irritatating Love

It is in the moments when you have sinned really horrible when grace is the most precious. In a time when you've committed the worst abomination in the sight of God, and you can almost hear the condemnation. In the way that light is brighter in a dark room, so Jesus is most beautiful when you're your ugliest.

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

The Work Is To Believe

I realize I struggle with grace. lol. It's not that funny, but I love grace and hate it at the same time. I get it, then lose it.

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

Brusha Brusha Brusha

Are We Really Preaching Grace?

I was on some forums and someone told a guy, who says he is an atheist, "You should have capitalize Christ." And he said: "I intentionally didn't capitalize it because to me it's just a job description and not a noun, like god."

I honestly agree with him. Not that Christ is a job, but that He is portrayed as one through Christians.