Monday, September 28, 2009

...And Grace My Fears Relieved

Getting your footing on the grounds of grace is scary. It hurts so much to come to the realization that I am not in control and I can not trust myself.

I don't know if Jesus was referring to the road of faith when he descirbed the narrow way that leads to life as being difficult.

I'm not allowed to control my behavior with condemnation. How can I when I am confronted with the fact that I am loved unconditionally? I am no longer under the law and therefore am no longer condemned. Understand that when I say I can't be condemned, I mean that a lot of times I would like to go back to law, but I can't. I just can't be afraid of God anymore. I know who He is.

Jonah KNEW who God was. He KNEW God's ways and that God was abounding in lovingkindness. That is why he didn't preach to the Gentiles. He knew God would love the people that Jondah thought were absolutely unlovable. He didn't want Him to love them. Jonah was not afraid of God...He ran from Him and talked back to Him: "Yes I do well to be angry! Angry enough to die!"

Even Cain, after he killed his brother, knew of God's lovingkindness and how it endures forever. After Cain killed his brother, Abel, God asks him what he's done, and he back sasses God with a smart attitude: "How should I know? Am I my brother's babysitter?" And how does God respond? By putting a seal on the murderer, protecting him!

I'm not saying Cain was saved since the Bible doesn't ever hint at him being saved. He tried to offer God fruit rather than the blood of a Lamb. I'm not saying he was saved, but I am saying God clearly demonstrated His true character of Agape by putting a seal of protection on someone who just murdered their own brother.

We have not received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. We have received the Spirit of adoption as sons. You are not a slave, but a son. You are not God's employee, you are His son. If God protected Cain, a faithless murderer, will He not much more protect you from the wrath to come?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Thinking Outloud

Often I feel like "Who am I to call myself a Christian?" Ever feel like that?

I feel like I don't do enough and I'm not fanatic enough to be a Christian. I don't lay hands on people and pray. Actually, I never pray in front of people unless it's silent or someone else is praying. I'll pray for people, but not with them. It always feels as though I'm talking to them and not to God anyway.

I always feel like when I'm talking about Jesus, people are looking at me, thinking, "Is HE suppose to be a Christian? HA!"

A friend prayed for me today at Church. Her name is Rita, and she is so gentle and kind. She pressed her head against mine and sat there and prayed for something I've been struggling with lately. I wanted the boldness to do things like that...But I feel I'm just not ready. It didn't make me feel condemned or anything, but I do want to be free from the fear of people so as to just lay hands on people and pray when they need me to.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Daily Bible Reading

Are we really obligated to read our Bibles every day? If so, why?

Well, in my honest opinion, I don't see why we urge and guilt people to read their Bibles every day. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but I honestly don't see anywhere in the Bible where God says it is detrimental if we do not read it every day. In fact, I think it was something like 70-80% of the people in the early Church who were illiterate. Of course they were taught the Scriptures and had the Bible read to them by others, but they were not able to read it every day since they could not read.

I know we use the Scripture in Psalm 119:11 that we are to hide his word in our heart that we might not sin against him, but I wonder if that is not a prophesy of The Word (Christ) in our hearts. I don't want my relationship to be with the Bible, but with Christ Himself. The Logos, The Living Word of God.

So for me, I don't read my Bible every day. I do read my Bible and it is not wrong to do so every day, but if I am doing it in order for God to be pleased with me and think I'm a good boy, then I am being absolutely silly. We have God on the inside of us, guys! The written word should never take the place of the Living Word, Jesus Christ!

"You think that in the Scriptures are eternal life, but these are they which speak of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."

We have life on the inside of us, being Christians. The written word of God is precious since it tells us about Christ, but we should never prefer the Bible over it's Author.

Friday, September 25, 2009

God of Second Chance or Chances?

Julie has posted a blog with some GREAT thoughts in it on the idea of grace being about God giving us more chances.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I was listening to Enya sing this song just now and I began to think of grace and when, and how it comes.

Grace comes to us when we do not deserve it. That is the meaning of grace. It comes when we have just committed the sin we never thought we would, or the the sin we have repeated over and over and have made vows never to do again.

In the past, when I sinned, I viewed God's face as hidden from me by the dark cloud of sin. But now, when I sin, I am shocked to lift my head and see the light of God's face shining intensely on me. Only the light does not expose my sin, but it shines through my flesh and exposes the righteousness inside that I have from Christ. He convicts me of my righteousness and urges me, even when I insist on self-flagellation, to receive His grace and love. He proposes to me the preposterous idea of continuing in my freedom from fear and guilt, and invites me to sit down and eat with him, taking no heed of the sin I just committed, but to continue to enjoy Him and feed off of Him.

He insists that over time, His love will begin to restrain me. If I just continue in His word, I will know Him and begin to be set free.

Even growth in grace comes by grace. I could never, in all my struggles, even begin to be set free from fear of condemnation. It is truly God who gives the growth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Matisyahu - King Without A Crown

I know, Matthew is into Judaism, but I listened to this song so much when I first got saved. Everything was so new and exciting. God was so new to me and so beautiful! I had never knew anything or anyone like Him before. I was still very immature in my thinking, but that didn't matter. I loved Him. I was drunk with love.

What was once new has now become, as Aida said, normal. It isn't always that exciting now, though one day it will be, when I see Him face-to-face.

I remember when I first got saved. For some reason the name Father came to my heart. No one taught me to call Him Father, I just did it because, well, I knew He was my Father now. I still remember telling my friend, Tony on the phone, "I call Him Father now!!" I still don't know if Tony understood what I meant, but the Spirit was witnessing with my spirit that I was now a child of God. My heart was crying out, "Daddy! Father!"

And so, this post is more of a sentimental thing between my Father and I. He remembers. This is one of our songs.

This is my witness. My love for God, my affection for Him is my witness to others. He gives us new hearts through faith in Jesus Christ. He cleanses our hearts from all evil and gives us the Spirit of His Son in our hearts.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Are We Free To Sin?

Interesting question, don't you think?

Well, I'll get straight to it. In a sense we are free to sin, and in another sense, we aren't.

You see, we are no longer under the law, and where there is no law, the Bible says, there is no transgression. How can I be guilty of sin if I am not under the law? So then I could indeed use my freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. I can not out-sin the grace of God. Period. So, in a legal sense, I am free to sin.

But Paul also tells us something else in Romans chapter 6. He makes the point that since we have died with Christ, we have also been rasied with Him, in the spirit. He made us new creations by way of His death and resurrection. We, when we believed the Good News, were made dead to sin through His death, and were made alive to God through His resurrection. So now, in my spirit, I am (humanly speaking) a slave to righteousness. Whereas I used to be a slave to sin, I am now a slave of righteousness. So, in that sense, I am not free to sin because it is no longer my nature to sin. John says no one who abides in Him keeps on sinning because God's seed (Jesus) abides in him. Jesus destroys the works of the devil, we don't. It is not by our struggling and striving, but by His work. His seed abides in us and He causes us to walk in His ways. For a Christian to live in sin is like a fish out of water. It isn't natural, and sooner or later he is going to stop. Peter tells us that the Christian has been made a partaker of the Divine nature.

We, who were diseased trees before Christ came, naturally bore bad fruit. The root determined the fruit. Identity and result. I could not be a healthy tree by trying hard to bear good fruit. "A diseased tree cannot bear good fruit". But in Christ, I have been made a new tree; a healthy tree. And Jesus says of us, "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit." Why? Because he is healthy! It's nothing to do with how hard he tries or a law he is under. It is his nature to do good.

So why not stop all the sin and behavior focused sermons and just proclaim the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and what He has already accomplished!? You are a saint! There is no need to try hard to make yourself into someone you already are! Just rest and abide in Him! How do you abide in Him you ask? Well, how did you get in Him to begin with? By faith. Faith in what? In the finished work of the cross and resurrection! So how are you now to walk? The same way you were saved! Hello! "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now going to perfect yourself by your flesh?"

The law was part of an Old Covenant and what is old is passing away and has now become obsolete. And forget about "balancing" two covenants that are contrary to one another. The Old is obsolete. It isn't just an 'upgraded covenant'. It is a NEW Covenant.

Forgiveness By The Cross

I often get frustrated when trying to get people to understand grace because I try to prove it to them by theological debate, desiring to show them that I am right and they are wrong. I believe this is the wrong way to approach people. I think we are to give them grace at their level. I don't mean they're dumber than we are, I just mean that we need to get to the heart of grace rather than trying to show them why grace is right and mixture isn't. Rather than trying to persuade them to accept that what I am saying is true, I need to recognize their need of grace and just give it to them.

Sometimes people don't need a well laid out argument for grace, though that does indeed have its place, but sometimes people just need to hear something as simple as, "God isn't mad at you." I need to see the heart of the person that I am speaking to rather than wondering how I can make them believe the truth about grace.

I guess my point is that we don't have to have the most persuasive arguments, though we do indeed need to be able to back up our claims with the Scripture, but we just need to get real with people and get to the point: The Cross of Jesus Christ has provided forgiveness of their sins once for all, not through their repentence or even their faith. Our faith doesn't forgive our sins, our faith receives our forgiveness. Forgiveness is already there. It has been here since the Cross, but now all we have to do is reach out and take it. So the message is simple: Return to God, He has redeemed you. You're forgiven! Take it while there is still time!

I do not deny the coming of judgment for unbelievers, but it won't be because they were not forgiven. It will be because they did not believe the Good News that was spoken to them, not because they sinned. No human being goes to be with the Father because they didn't sin. They go to be with Him only by the righteousness provided for them through Jesus Christ.

Your sins are taken away, they are removed, they are washed, and cast as far as the east is from the west. Jesus bore all the wrath of God against sin and no one will ever be judged because they sinned, but because they rejected the gift Jesus bought for them. They will go to hell because they insulted the Spirit of Grace, by counting the precious Blood of the Covenant as an unholy thing. They go because they sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth. They persist in unbelief even after someone has proclaimed forgiveness to them through the Cross and through no merit of their own. For that hardness of heart there is no excuse.

It is bad enough to sin even after hearing God's law, but it is even worse to reject the free gift of forgiveness for that sin. Everyone who disobeyed the law of God died without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the one who has rejected God's own Son after everything He went through so that you could be brought back safely to God? It is the religious, not the filthiest sinner that will receive the harsher judgment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Bellamy Brothers - Let Your Love Flow

Now That We're Christians, Do We Keep The Law?

Well, do we?

To say that we do would be wrong. If I am still in any way in relationship to the law, then I am condemned by it and justly so.

But I, and many Christians have believed a widespread theology that because we have received the Spirit of God, He then enables us to keep the law. Nothing could be further from the truth! If I were still under the law, I could not be indwelt by the Spirit! But where there is no law, there is no transgression.

Malcolm Smith gave a great analogy as to how silly it is to put a Christian back under the law after being saved by grace. I don't remember the exact words he used, but I do remember the gist of the story.

Malcolm, growing up in the town he was from, didn't have electricity until he was a bit older, so they were forced to light their homes by candle light at night. But as things progressed little by little, the town he lived in eventually got electricity. Then one day, being at an elderly man's house, (who belonged to Malcolm's Church) he noticed the old man nodded toward his wife, telling her to turn on the electric lighting since it was beginning to get dark outside. And then after she turned on the lights, he began to light the candles that they had used before they got electricity, saying that it would be much easier to light the candles now that they had electricity.

The Old Covenant is said in the Bible to have had glory; it had a light. But now, Paul says, the glory of the New Covenant of grace much more surpasses the glory that the Old Covenant of law had. It would be silly to go back to the law (the Ten Commandments) now that you have God on the inside of you. You have the fulfillment of the law living on the inside of you! Why now do you retreat back to the law, believing it has some work yet to finish that God has not already finished?

The works that were to be done in order for God to be pleased with you were done by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the law and the prophets, and through faith, that same righteousness that He accomplished is now fulfilled in you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grace and Truth

You know, I want to be free from this attitude of pride. Pride that I understand more about God than other Christians because they don't see Him the way I do. That isn't grace. I need to let go of that attitude completely.

I guess what has kept me from my own Church is fear. Fear that this message may not really be true, but that I am giving myself to it so that I have an excuse to be lazy. I know that isn't true, but I want to let those hurts and fears go. I want to forgive and show grace and love to those who just haven't received the revelation yet. I am no more spiritual or saved than my other brothers and sisters.

I pray that God would cause me to walk in freedom and love for my family in Christ. I'm sick of this cynical, proud attitude I get whenever I listen to another Christian speak. I just need to allow the Spirit to brush aside error, gracefully, in love.

I know we pick on the Pharisees and say Jesus rebuked them strongly, and I do believe there is a place for rebuke and correction, but I believe that for our brothers and sisters who don't "get it", we are to be kind and gentle with them. We are to love them and show them the grace that has been revealed to us.

I pray that none of us would be puffed up in our hearts against each other, but that we would speak the truth in love and sincerity of heart, fully assured that the grace we speak of is true.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Clean Heart

Believers need to understand what salvation really is! That God has killed the old person we were before Christ, not symbolically, but literally, and then He raised us from the dead and seated us with Christ in heaven. We don't need rules or principles or self-discipline!

God dealt with the heart of the matter, literally. In salvation, He gave us new hearts, not hard as stone, but soft as flesh.

Self-discipline is nothing more than a work of the flesh and sooner or later your flesh will get tired of trying to be good (out of pride) and will want to act like itself. Self-discipline only lasts a season!

You see, Christians believe they cannot trust themselves with freedom, because they believe they are still sinners at heart and therefore they renounce the freedom they have in Christ, and in doing so, they remain as children, never moving on to maturity! "O foolish Galatians!"

My point is this: You can trust your heart. It is no longer deceitful, but God has performed a spiritual surgery of the heart. Your heart is no longer filled with sin, but with light, righteousness, purity and self-control. The Holy Spirit brings you freedom from sin IN freedom! You are free to sin, but Christians are not sinners! They died to sin and came alive to God! So the fear of licenteousness because we are not under law has absolutely no basis!

You don't have to discipline yourself anymore. The Holy Spirit, from the inside, will produce self-control in you. You're free to stagger and stumble on your way towards learning to walk upright as a fully mature child of God. Your Father isn't frustrated with you when you fall. In fact, you're not seeing Him clearly if you see Him like that! He is full of delight with you as you learn to walk. He doesn't notice how many times you fall, but He takes notice of how many steps you make.

He coaches you, encourages you and strengthens you with His love. He never discourages you or rebukes you. He is never angry with you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Issue of Identity

One thing that irks me when I listen to Christians speak on living the Christian life is this teaching that we must, "die to self."

In coming to further understand what the sacrifice of Jesus accomplished at the cross, I realize how silly this is to try and kill off the old sinful nature, or as Paul calls it, "old man."

It would be impossible for me to kill my spirit. And whats more impossible is for me to attempt to raise myself from the dead! So, what the law couldn't do, (make me a new creation) God did by sending Jesus.

Salvation doesn't only mean forgiveness of sins. It also means that Jesus, in Himself, kills the old man who is alive to sin. So the question of us (believers in Christ) sinning because we are no longer under the law is absolutely silly! That old sinner that we used to be is dead! And furthermore, God made us alive to Himself by raising our spirit from the dead when He raised Christ from the dead. We were baptized, not into water, but into Jesus' death. And we were raised, not from water, but from the tomb. So Jesus' death was our death. His resurrection from the dead is our resurrection from the dead.

So you see, it isn't that we must "die to self". We don't need to be killed again; we simply recognize that it has already happened in Christ. We don't try to attain some experience of dying. Jesus experienced death for us. His death was our death, and furthermore, we don't try to raise ourselves from the dead; we recognize it has already been done when we believed on Christ.

You are a new creation. You are alive, not dead. It is the dead who will be judged by what is written in the books, and it is the dead whose names are not written in the book of life.

Have you ever wondered how God could let a "forgiven sinner" into His heaven? Sinners do not go to heaven, but they are reserved for wrath. Not by their works, but by their very nature. (Ephesians 2:3)

A sinner cannot produce good. Likewise, a saint cannot produce evil.

Let's say sinners are apple trees and saints are grape vines. Apple trees cannot produce grapes. Why? Because they are not grape vines, but apple trees. Their nature determines their fruit.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Do you ever feel unspiritual? By that, I mean do you ever feel as though you have lost your witness as a Christian because you have stopped doing everything someone asks you to do in an effort not to feel guilty?

I may not be explaining myself well. Lately the thought crossed my mind that I am no witness for Christ because my lack of ...busyness? I don't attend our Church on Sundays anymore and I've become more relaxed in my thinking, my conversation and my doing. Sometimes when someone aks me to do something, I say no. And sometimes I get irritable when asked to do something. And I don't preach the Gospel and talk about God all the time to people.

I think these feelings are nothing but nonsense and I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and continue to bathe in God's presence. But will people see that I love Him if I am not busy trying to serve and influence? I suspect so.

I just want to exude an air of peace and joy and of being in love with my God. But I refuse to try and imitate that, only to give the impression that I have peace, joy and love. I want it to be real. I'm sick of masks, facades, and being a "connoisseur of moods".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Madonna - Borderline

People have often pushed my love to it's borderline. I can't love them like they need to be loved, but I can point them to the One who can. His love has no borderline.

Above All Rule and Authority

Since believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I must admit I have lost my fear of hell. When I see or hear people preaching about the wrath of God coming against sinners, I no longer tremble. Since believing, I have begun to see a God who loves me, who sings over me and who delights in me and coaches me in my identity and encourages me towards living righteously since I am a righteous being.

I still get a heavy heart when I think unbelievers, especially those whom I love, going to hell. Hell exists and I do not deny it. But I can't be afraid of it anymore. I understand what the finished work of Jesus did for me. It is a finished work. I'm seated with Him, far above all rule and authority and any who would judge me or accuse me. My accuser has been thrown down once for all, because He canceled the record of debt that stood against me with its legal demands. He set it aside and nailed it to the Cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Himself.

I know Whom I have trusted and I believe with full assurance He will guard me from the wrath of God that will come in the end.

"Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

For Carol

Hey guys,

If anyone of you have ever been to Bino's blog, you might have seen a guy posting by the name of Ike in the comments section. Well, his wife, Carol has cancer and she is in desperate need of financial help. While I don't have a job at the moment, I will offer what I can, and pray and pass this link on so that anyone who is led may donate as much as they will and offer prayers.

Here is the link to donate. This is Ike's son's blog.

Even a dollar is significant.