Wednesday, July 30, 2008
First off, right around my 5th birthday I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my left leg (tibia). I don't remember everything as I was only 5 years old, but I remember practically living in Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC for about 2 years until I was finally released, having the cancer gone into remission by having radiation and chemo treatments. And so for the next few years of my childhood I lived pretty normal. But I would fracture my leg often because my bone had been made weaker because of the radiation treatments I received. But before long, I could no longer put any weight on my leg. It started growing deformed and my leg lost all muscle because I couldn't use it. So finally the doctors decided the only other option was to amputate. So, when I was 12 years old, we had my leg amputated through the knee.
Back up to my childhood...While I was in school, I was never very dedicated. But up until 3rd grade I did give some effort. But when 3rd grade came and we started learning multiplication and division, we had a chart on the left side of our classroom of who ranked where on our mathematics. It started out at the 1's and 2's of multiplication and went up to simple division. I slowly started seeing my name on the chart getting left behind by everyone else. I felt I couldn't do it and I had no real help at home, and being a kid, not wanting to do school work anyway, I just gave up. I felt it was just too difficult for me. And so 3rd grade was the first grade I flunked.
The next year, repeating 3rd grade was the same way for the first part of the school year. But after the holidays, I really started trying harder. And I remember for the first time, I had gotten the highest score in the class on a math test. I really believe my teacher Mrs. Dove was a Christian and prayed for that year. I can't say she was for sure though.
Anyway, after that year, I did absolutely nothing in school. I have no idea why the put me in 5th grade. But I had my amputation done while I was in the 5th grade and wasn't there at all during the later part of the year because of my surgery and recovery. So they bumped me up to 6th grade. I also did nothing in 6th grade. I basically had my mom talk my way to the 7th grade. I did nothing in 7th grade and I bullcrapped my way to 8th grade. I didn't even attend high school. I went for a few months to Adult Ed and finally dropped out when I was 17.
And so my education in school really goes only to the 3rd grade. And growing up, I was told I was lazy just like my father. He didn't really want to work or anything. He died of cirrhosis of the liver when I was 10 because of his addiction to alcohol.
So...I've never had a job. I never got my license and I won't go into detail why it's been difficult for me to get my license. I am still completely dependent on people right now. (I'm being more honest than I care to here).
I am a nobody in society. I don't matter. Yet I know God loves me and wants to use my life and I'm very excited about it. If He can love and use someone like me, I know He can love and use any one of you. He truly uses the weak to shame the strong and the unwise to shame the wise.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This is what made the light come on for me:
"Now is a time of regrouping, of re-evaluating. We want to honor God in how we live as a family, how we raise our kids, but more importantly how we love each other!
"No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."
Jesus was patient with His friends, to allow them to grow in Grace and in the knowledge of Him. He allowed them to have a root in themselves. He gave them time to have the foundation that He loves them freely so that their doing would not be done in haste and in compulsion, but in love.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I thought this song was perfect to describe the life of performance based Christianity. If only we try a little harder, we will be closer to God and He will love us.
You know, those teachers of the Law who load heavy burdens on peoples backs but aren't willing to lift a finger to help them.
They reason God is love. Yes, He is agape. But His agape is only possible because of the justice poured on Christ Jesus. I've mentioned this saying before that Jesus Himself said and I think every believer who toys with the idea of the heresy of universalism should think about. "All sins will be forgiven the children of man. But, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
It is those of faith that are sons of Abraham. The Scripture is clear that the unbelieving will have their part in the lake of fire that burns forever and ever.
I'm not trying to rain on anyones parade. I'm simply stating truth, whether or not it feels good. It's the truth. Telling people they're saved even if they have never believed the Gospel does them no help at all. Jesus said whoever would cause one of the little ones who believe in Him to sin, it would be better that that person should have a millstone tied around his neck and drowned in the depth of the sea.
God is love and God has lavished His grace on us. But only because of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Anyway, I wanted to post a quote I just read from the book. It's actually Philip quoting someone else, but I thought there was a lot of truth in it.
"The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the Church," says Gordon MacDonald. "You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace."
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It's such a great story about how God loves us and accepts us apart from our performance. He uses the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah to illustrate how God's love for us isn't determined by what we have done for him.
Hope it encourages you. :)
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
So the doctor recommended that I call vocational rehabilitation and go through them to get a prosthetic and get trained for a job where I will (Lord willing) get insurance for a prosthetic. But I'm not sure how interested vocational rehab will be in me as I've tried to go through them twice and I just quit going. A huge cause of it was a fear of man that I believe God is breaking off of me. I was terrified to even talk on the phone. God is giving me strength in this area. He is giving me the ability to be free from these sort of fears. It may sound small to some, but it's a huge step of freedom for me to be able to call the people I need to call and make appointments and quit worrying about whether or not I use all the right terminology or if I'm articulate enough or whether or not I know what I'm doing. Who cares? God loves me and I need Him right now.
I haven't been able to pray for people as I would like to lately. I'm not sure whats going on. I just know that God is in control and He gives me grace to allow me to figure things out.
So...That being said, if anyone would like to pray, pray for this. I've never been consistent in doing things like this because of fear and laziness. I know God is faithful.
Tomorrow I will be calling two of my childhood doctors for the medical records. I pray that God would give me wisdom to know how to get all this done and hopefully get a job through Vocational Rehab. If I sound stupid, then I sound stupid! Screw it! Bring on the medical records, doc!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I just wanted to let everyone know about a guy I met from the Grace Walk Forums. He is having a very difficult time believing he is saved. I wanted to share his blog so you guys could possibly give him encouragement and help. We have all experienced his doubts, fears and questions. It's exactly what drove us to Grace.
But here is his blog.
Hang in there, Jordan. We've all went through it! It's a necessary process in leading us to faith in God's Grace!
Malcolm is one of my favorite speakers. Hope you enjoy. :)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Am I allowed to allow God to love me based on Jesus' obedience alone? Am I too fearful to receive His love? I know that loving God doesn't come from trying to love Him. So why do I get so anxious and feel the need to muster up love for Him? To know God is to love Him. Are we letting people or religious mentalities around us pressure us into doing? Is our zeal in order to please men or God? When someone blasts you for not doing something right or doing something enough, do you feel like it's the voice of God saying those things? Rest assured that it's not God. Our Father says in Isaiah 54 that whenever someone stirs up strife with us, it's not from Him. It's very easy to mistake the voices of disappointment and disapproval people may show towards us and take it as coming from God.
We are free sons and daughters. We are not servants anymore. So stop allowing people to pressure you into obedience and allow God's love to be your motivation. If someone is trying to manipulate you or guilt or shame you into something, I don't believe that is of God. God knows fear and guilt does not breed love. It breeds more fear and guilt. Stand up to those voices and tell them that you must not do anything to prove yourself to God or to get Him to like you or love you.
I know all of this is easier said than done and I done expect anyone of us to completely stop it overnight. But learn to discern things like this. Even Jesus didn't do things out of people pressuring Him. Even when it was a good work! He wasn't a slave to guilt or condemnation. He was a slave to the love of the Father.
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying,"Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying,"Send her away, for she is crying out after us." He answered,
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The good news is that it's a blessing to be spiritually poor! It's a blessing to be broken!
Feeling bad because you pretty much suck? Feeling cruddy because you just can't love people the way you know you should? Feel like you just can't do enough? Or even when you do do something good it isn't good enough? Then you're a perfect candidate for salvation! Jesus has bought it for you Himself! He has been crucified and risen from the dead for such people. And many prophets and righteous people desired to see what you see and did not see it and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.
To those poor sinners who have trembled at the words of Jesus from the sermon on the mount, confronted with your own filth and wretchedness. I want to tell you that your eyes are blessed because they see and your ears are blessed because they hear.
Keep your eyes on Him. He loves you not because you paid some enormous cost, but because He paid the infinite cost. Receive from Him even when it feels wrong to receive. Allow yourself to remain humble without a brag or boast and receive everything He has lavished upon you in His grace.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Not that I don't want to do things when asked, but I just don't want to do it from a heart of trying to prove myself to my Father or to make Him like me. I want to learn to do the things He wants done because I love Him and worship Him. I don't want to be a slave to good works or trying to earn grace. The word grace means unmerited favor, so why am I trying to merit God's unmerited favor? You'd be surprised at how easy you can slip into this. It looks holy and nice but it's from a heart of unbelief in the work of Christ. Do I believe He made me accepted in the Beloved or do I have to, by constant working and keeping busy, make myself likable before God? Screw that.
When one starts to think he has to consistently go to his neighbors house everyday for at least 4-5 hours in order to sort of get his time in, thats when we become lifeless. Thats when our living in worship toward God becomes dead religious works. If I feel compelled to do something out of a sense of unworthiness, then I just don't need to do it. I want to learn to say no to people. I don't have to be some chauffeur bustling around with an anxious heart trying to please this God who is never satisfied. And rightly so. All our righteous works are as filthy rags.
"We were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through LOVE, serve one another."
Notice it doesn't say through guilty and obligation serve one another. It says in freedom and love.
Get off that treadmill of guilt and refuse to listen to people who would seek to manipulate you into the bondage of religion by guilt and shame. You say you believe in the work of Christ alone. Live like it! Complaining of ourselves with constant anxiety in our hearts that we're not doing enough for God is not faith. It's slowly drifting back under a covenant of self-centered performance. We're to be Christ-centered disciples. How are we to be Christ-centered if we're so self-centered! We're also not employees. We're sons and daughters. Quit living like an employee.
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying,
Friday, July 4, 2008
Honestly, I've swerved off the path of grace and freedom in Jesus. I get anxious to get going and to experience a lot of growth and maturity in a short amount of time that I forget that God would still love me even if I never did anything else for Him. I can usually tell when it's happening because I will be getting anxious about what I'm doing and start to feel burdened about proving myself to God. I've let go of the crazy, ruthless faith that God is love and He loves me freely in Jesus whether I pray like I'm suppose to it or not. Whether I clean my house everyday or not. Whether I do charitable things or not. Why do we always seek to imprison ourselves or control ourselves? For me, it's a lack of trust in my Father's love for me. My human reasoning wants to draw limit lines around my freedom.
Am I free to say no to someone? If a neighbor calls me and asks me to come over for a few hours am I obligated to say yes all the time? Is the Christian life one big obligation after the other? I've lost Grace in trying to get it. I want to back up and regroup. I want my insane trust in God's love back. I want my excitement for God's grace in Jesus again. I don't want to lose my first love. I don't want to draw boundaries around His limitless love and grace in Christ Jesus.
Some posts in the blog With Unveiled Face has helped me take a step back and refocus.
Jesus here is telling us again to send a delegation and ask for terms of peace, because peace will not be attained by struggling or by human effort or from being under the Law. The Law is our accuser (John 5:45) and we will be guilty if we are tried by the Law of God. So He is urging us to come to His grace found in the Gospel. He is threatening people with Grace! And if you understand that, you understand the whole book of Hebrews. I love being threatened to continue in the Grace of God. I love being here! It's amazing. He loves me! I can't stop Him from loving me! The only way that would happen is if I refuse to receive it and go back under trying to earn it.
So we have two options on the day of judgment. We can either choose to come as Cain or we can choose to come as Abel.
The Scripture says that Cain brought to the Lord the fruit of the ground. The result of his own labor and the Lord had no regard for it. But Abel, by faith offered up a more acceptable sacrifice. When Hebrews says "By faith Abel offered up..." it tells me there was a level of uncertainty in offering up his sacrifice to God. He was probably feeling anxious watching Cain work the ground by sweat of his brow in the scorching heat everyday, working hard on his garden to bring fruit for God. He may have even felt foolish or unworthy as he watched his brother working and striving. After all, all he does is sit in the shade and let his sheep eat grass! But, he remembers, "The Lord told me without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. I don't understand this, but thats what He said He wanted and I trust Him that He isn't a liar."
So, in the course of time they both brought their offerings. Cain brought all this beautiful fruit he had worked so hard to produce, but Abel simply brought a lamb sacrifice. And the Lord had regard for Abel's offering but for Cain's He had no regard! What a scandal! No wonder Cain was so po'd! He spent all this time and effort to produce this fruit and God doesn't accept him? And all his brother does is bring a sheep! So his face fell. I feel bad for Cain now that I understand all the hard work he put in in trying to please God with his fruit offering. Back then you didn't have a garden hose either. You couldn't go pick up fertilizer, a tiller or special made tools for gardening from Lowes. He didn't have pesticides either. And anyone who does any sort of gardening knows that it's hard work even with all those tools at your disposal. So it's not hard to understand why Cain was feeling so discouraged and angry.
"But Abel, by faith, offered up a more acceptable sacrifice." It doesn't say by hard work. It doesn't say by struggling and striving and dedicating and re-dedicating. It says "by faith". The lamb sacrifice reminded God of His precious Son. The Only One who is pleasing to the Father. So we see that the only "good" anyone can do is to put their faith in the only One who is good.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I used to see this as all the Christians being judged on judgment day. Now that I understand Jesus offered Himself to take away the sins of the whole world, I see what He was saying.
It's easy to see this (under Law) as God condemning the bad Christians but saving the "good" ones. You know, the "dedicated" or "faithful and good servants". But that would completely contradict the verse in Romans that says: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus". Not to mention the fact that we're not saved by our own righteousness.
In this parable I believe Jesus is simply saying that He died for everyone, but only those who believe (the righteous) will be saved. The evil (unbelieving) will be thrown away.
So, while He preaches universal reconciliation, He is not preaching universalism.
Have you guys any thoughts on this parable?
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I'm not saying He doesn't dare us to step out of our comfort zones or anything or to go against what the flesh desires. But they seem to view God's will as whatever we hate doing the most. The Scripture tells me exactly the opposite. It says that God's will is perfect and pleasing. The Scripture tells me I will go out with joy and be led forth in peace. Again, not that the Christian life is always up and happy. Of course not. But I don't think God's focus is what we can do for Him. He can do anything He wants done without our help. His focus is to have us delight in Him because He delights in us.
I really get irritated at people who seem to constantly gripe about how the Christian life pretty much sucks. They don't word it in that exact way, but from listening to them you can tell thats exactly what they're implying. The meaning of their Christian lives can be summed up as one obligation after another. I thought Jesus' yoke was easy and His burden light? The way they talk, they seem so exhausted in their Christian lives all the time.
How can we delight in a God who is "always out to get us". He's gonna getcha and make you do hard labor! Oi...Spare me.