For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Uh-Oh The Real Truth is Comin' Out

That's right, I just titled this with hip hop lyrics from an old Flame cd.  But I feel like it's pretty appropriate.  Part of that song goes on to say:

The media's lying the T.V. is lying, and guarantee the streets ain't telling the truth
So what you want me to do?
But point to the Bible for more than survival
But God's word that be speakin' to you, they God breathe its true

OK, get past the loose grammar of the hip hop and consider the “truth” part.  If nothing else has been learned in the last few weeks, with all the revelations coming out about Planned Parenthood, it's that none of them have been telling the truth.  In fact, we're now told that 8-10 more videos might be coming out soon.  Sadly, our President's administration has responded by opening an investigation, not into PP, but into the group exposing them.  Uh-oh, the real truth is comin' out.

But before we get too excited about this (though we should be excited, no, outraged as this fine article says); let's turn those eyes of truth back toward ourselves and ask if we are ready for the truth to come out.  What does that mean, you ask?  Simply this.

When it's the enemy's dark side coming out, we all scream for the “truth.”  We want all the dirty details to come out.  We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  But do we hold ourselves to the same standard?

I can hear the protests:  But we're not selling baby parts!  No, we're not.  But the truth of Scripture is that your heart is just as black in its natural state as those who are.  Uh-oh, the real truth is comin' out!  We don't like that kind of truth, do we?  But all of God's Word is breathed true, including the truth of the sinfulness of our hearts. 

We say we want the truth, but we often don't hold ourselves up to the standard of truth set forth in God's Word.  We like the convenient truths that make us feel better about ourselves.  We like the truths that make those we dislike look worse.  But truth is a double edged sword, cutting both ways.  If we want to stand for “truth”, then we need to look to God's Word and stand for ALL of it. 

Too many in the church are falling for false teachings, half truths, worldly ideas.  That issue needs to be addressed as much, if not more so, than the horrors of PP.  As Flame also says in that song:

See it's a war and I done stepped into it
And I'm on the team of the rescue unit
For the following people..
1. Ones who caught up in false doctrine
2. Non-believers ignoring the sin problem
3. And new saints, so while my mic is on
All I've got is the truth and a warning

Indeed, all we have is the truth.  The truth of God's Word.  We need to let it's light shine into our own hearts and lives as much as we want it to shine on the sin of the world.  And there are so many applications of that.

For one thing, it means truly being dedicated to the truth.  That means not passing things around the internet simply because we like it, never testing to see if it's actually true.  How many times have Christians been guilty of passing along some quote that was never actually said by the person it was attributed to, or sending along some story about this or that latest conspiracy that a simple search would reveal isn't true, or any number of other simple ways we ignore truth?

On the other hand, or on the more serious side, there are so many caught up in the cheap gospel tricks of the Osteens and Meyers of the world, whose messages aren't any different than Oprah's or even a fortune cookie for that matter. (here's a great little piece on that).  No sound biblical truth to be found, but Christians everywhere buy into it; again, pass it around the internet; join the crowd because it feels good.

We need truth.  We need to be devoted to truth, in all it's forms.  The truth we speak to others, the truth of what we pass along on social media, the truth we accept from anyone claiming to be a teacher of God's Word. 

We need The Truth.  No matter how uncomfortable it might make us at the time, God's light needs to shine on our hearts and lives just as much as the light of truth needs to reveal the despicable acts of baby killers. Sin is sin, in my life just as in others'.  We all need Christ.  Apart from Him we are all lost.  Apart from His grace, my sin is just as vile and damning as those in the PP videos, and I am just as much deserving of His wrath.

And so, if that's true, the real truth that needs to come out is not just that these people are disgusting and horrid in every way imaginable; but that they need Jesus.  So don't just yell and scream (though again, in our outrage, a little yelling and screaming needs to be done on this particular issue).  But pray for these folks.  Be willing to share the love of Christ with them and those who support them. Only God can change their hearts.  Fight for the lives of the innocent children being butchered, but also fight for the eternal souls of their executioners.  I know it's hard, but it's what the Truth demands. 

So, if you can handle the truth, enjoy a little hip-hop truth from our man Flame from “back in the day.”  (full lyrics can be read here)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another (Huge) Domino Falls

As you are probably aware, the Boy Scouts of America are the latest national organization to give in to the Gay Agenda Juggernaut.  Having stood by their convictions for so long, they finally caved in, citing that they could no longer "legally" resist.

Joe Carter has written a wonderful response over at the The Gospel Coalition blog, in which he bemoans the fact that we are teaching young men that principles aren't worth standing for if it means a legal challenge.  He also rightly points out that many churches and faith-based organizations have also fallen prey to that mindset.  Principles are worth standing for, as long as you don't face opposition and legal challenges.

Somehow that doesn't seem to fit with the portrait we have of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin being commanded to stop speaking of Christ and responding: "Sorry, but we can't help it." (slight paraphrase).  Truth is worth standing for in all circumstances. 

Now, I realize the Boy Scouts are not a faith-based group, certainly not a Christian one.  I grew up in Scouts and had a good experience, in fact came across many good, godly leaders.  But the organization isn't Christian.  In fact, after spending three years doing mission work on a Sioux Reservation, I came away a bit uncomfortable with the Scouts' glorification of Native American religious ideas and rituals.  

Still, for the longest time, BSA has been a place of moral conviction.  Standing up for principles of right and wrong because they understand that the principles they stand for are the foundation of good citizenship for the young men in the program.  It breaks my heart to see them finally give in to the pressure of the Gay Agenda. 

The new lesson we are giving young men is simply that principles are good and worth teaching, but not worth fighting for if a minority of radical activists applies legal pressure.  The lesson is that activist judges are too powerful and fearful to stand against.  The lesson is that truth is only worth standing for when the standing is relatively easy.  This lesson is more harmful than all the Native American junk theology I was worried about. 

I hope that Mr. Carter is wrong in saying that, given this latest step, "maybe our country would be better off without the Boys Scouts of America altogether."  Even more, I hope he is wrong in saying that faith-based organizations will follow in this attempt to "preserve the organization" at the expense of truth and values.  

These are indeed perilous times for those who seek to stand on Biblical principles.  The secularization of culture has reached a new high in this nation, and the activism of the minority continues to frighten many into silence.  But again, the threat is no greater than what the church has faced for generations, and indeed faces even today around the world.  

I pray God will raise up men and women of conviction who will continue to stand for truth, even if it means "the organization" will fall.  Better to have an organization fall than to have the principles on which we stand be demolished.  Here's hoping this latest falling domino will do more to motivate people of character than to end up crushing others in it's wake.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's A-liiiii-ve!


It's been nearly a month since I posted here.  Part of that has to do with the fact that we took some time off to go pick up our oldest daughter after her year in Germany. (Anyone wanting to read her exploits can do so here.)  We decided to take some time to spend together as a family since we had to make a trip anyway. 

Then, when we returned, church "stuff" was in full swing.  In addition to VBS (going on right now, and you all know how much time that takes!), and other fun things, we've had several major crises for some of our families.  It's been a busy, stressful time.

So I get online to check out my little corner of the blogosphere, and to my amazement it's been nearly a month since I've posted here.  Wow.  Sorry.  Anyone still there?  I know I had been slowing down anyway, and probably losing some of my wide range of regular readers.  *Ahem*  Now, it may seem as if this is dead space completely.  Well, moreso than usual. 

Anyway.  So much has happened while I was away.  The horrific murder of church goers.  Banning Confederate flags while making deals to fund terrorists in Iran.  A terrorist attack right on American soil killing 5 US Marines, while this Administration completely ignores it, along with much of the media (guess if the gunman was a cop instead of a Muslim, and the victims were criminals instead of US Soldiers, it would have garnered more attention, but...)  And now the unveiling of the horrors at Planned Parenthood that many of us have been convinced of for years.   Oh, the continued decline into the moral cesspool.  

In case anyone is still here, and in case anyone cares, I hope to resume spouting off about these things and many others in the days to come.  When life returns a bit toward normal.  Well, more normal.  Well, more in our regular routine anyway.

In the meantime, how about enjoying this amazing bit of recorder magic.  Just because.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Trumps God? Again....

Below is an article I posted two years ago to the day.  Not surprising that what began here has found it's fruition in the decision by the US Supreme Court to "legalize" homosexual "marriage."  Yes, I use quotes, because the terms have all been redefined.  I am sickened and saddened that our nation has come to this point.  But I have no organized thoughts to respond.  So I simply repeat that post from two years ago.  Unlike the SC, I don't think the truths have changed in that time....

In the beginning God...

God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life.  God, the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.  You'd think His opinion counted for something.

In the begining God created the heavens and the earth.  And He created Man.  And then seeing that it was not good for man to be alone, He created Woman.  He commanded them to become one, to go forth and multiply, and to subdue the earth. Man and Woman, together.  That's the essence of marriage, according to God, from the beginning.  But not according to the Supreme Court.

Today, the US Supreme Court struck down a "core" portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it "unconstitutional."  It's wrong, they said, to treat gay "marriages" as "second tier" relationships.  But why should it be considered a "tier" at all?  Marriage is defined as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of mutual edification and the procreation of mankind.  At least, according to God.  you know, that One who was there at the beginning and invented the thing.

All of this comes on the heels of hearing that in France, one local mayor is currently facing jail time for refusing to perform a gay wedding.  With the SCOTUS decision, that same scenario is looming here in the good ol' US of A. (note: and now it's here!)

We just don't get it, do we?  You can't "redefine" something that was defined by God.  It's like saying, "OK, from now on, mountains are not mountains.  From now on, we'll call them trees and demand that they grow and reproduce like other trees."  No, it's a mountain.  It doesn't work like trees.

Marriage is not "redefineable."  It is what it is.  You can call aberrant relationships between men and men, or women and women (which are unable to produce a main biological function of marriage) whatever you want, but it is still not a marriage.  Shouldn't be treated as one.  Shouldn't be given the respect of one.  Etc.

I know that the world at large, enslaved to sin and self, will never recognize the reality of God's existence, let alone His law, apart from the grace of God opening their eyes.  I understand that we live in a fallen world, and fallen people will continue to seek out whatever their fallen flesh desires.  But in the end, the truth remains.  Regardless of what the SCOTUS or anyone else says, marriage is still marriage.  It is still theologically, morally, biologically, historically, and naturally the union of one man and one woman.  Nothing will ever change that.

And if one day I find myself in a jail cell along side that French mayor for refusing to perform a gay "wedding", then so be it.  You can't force me to say an immoral relationship is a marriage any more than you can force me to call a mountain a tree, or in the case of the original "Big Brother" that 2 plus 2 equals 5.  Words are just words.  It doesn't change the reality.  What God set forth in the beginning still stands. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Beautiful Bride

My Beautiful Bride
for Cheryl on our 26th Anniversary

My beautiful bride, sometimes I can
Hardly believe this wonderful plan
Our Father has shown
Making us His own
And giving you me, so I'll never be alone

We started as friends, and we still are
Though our bond has certainly come far
You stood by my side
My beautiful bride
Our journey begun, so that we as one abide

We've been one for twenty six year now
And sometimes I really wonder how
Your love keeps its pace
It must be His grace
That makes your love sing, through all of the things we face

I know that Christ is our greatest prize
But sometimes when I look in your eyes
My beautiful bride
Your heart open wide
I think I would die, if you were not by my side

I'm thankful for Christ, our great treasure
Still I'm so grateful for the pleasure
Of my precious wife
In joy and in strife
My beautiful bride, I'll stay by your side for life

With all my love,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Things That Make You Go...AHHHHH!!!

Confession time.  I watch late night TV.  Not nearly as much as I used to.  I used to watch the old Letterman late, late night stuff.  Can't handle those late nights anymore.  But occasionally I hang on after the local news to catch an opening monologue and maybe a bit more.  I don't know why. Half the jokes make me cringe, the other half probably should make me cringe.  And thrown in there now and then is one that just makes me want to scream. 

To show off more of my sinful late night past...does anyone else remember Arsenio Hall?  Back in the day (notice my hip lingo) he had a show that was pretty popular.  During his monologue he would often joke about his "commute" from Cleveland to LA for the show (which of course wasn't real..the commute, not the show...nevermind), and things he thought about during the long drive.  The joke was "things that make you go hmmmm..."  Oddities of life, interesting and funny thoughts, etc.  

Anyway, last night that escalated for me into "things that make you go AHHHHH!!"  The absolute ridiculous "logic" of the left is mind blowing.  Jimmy Fallon was doing jokes about Rachel Dolezal, the now famous NAACP leader who is Caucasian by birth, but has been pretending to be African American for years.  Her family has come out to reveal the truth, and, well, you know all this. 

Anyway, Fallon was talking about the fact that Rachel had asked her brother to keep her secret, to not "blow her cover." And Fallon's joke was this: “Her cover had already been blown by God when He made her a blonde haired, blue eyed, white lady.”  The crowd laughed. I went "AHHHHH!!"  Actually, I just gasped and gaped and pointed at the TV, then looked at my wife, and pointed at the TV.  Her reply was, "Don't do that to me!"

I'm certainly not the only one to notice this ridiculous double standard in the liberal logic, but I just had to write this because...well, because AHHHHH!!  If you don't understand, let me 'splain it to you. 

Ms. Dolezal's defense is that she "identifies" as black.  She wants to be black, she acts black, took steps to make herself look black, even though her DNA is obviously white.  Nothing can change that.  To "identify" as black is ridiculous.  Hence the Fallon joke, and the crowds laughter.

And yet!  These same liberal folks make a hero out of Bruce Jenner because he says he "identifies" as female.  He wants to be female, he acts female, took steps to make himself look female, even though his DNA is obviously male.  Nothing can change that.  To "identify" as female is ridiculous.  But no jokes here, just claims of what a "hero" he/she/it is. 

I need to just leave this alone.  My last few posts, as few and far between as they've become, have been about this issue.  But this latest twist... well... it just... makes me want to scream.  How can a person make the obvious observation about God's creating hand in the one instance, and completely reject it in the other? 

Of course, I did read one explanation from the so-called LGBT community (I guess when we put a nice sounding label on something it sounds less sinful?)  The argument goes that Ms. Dolezal isn't anything like Mr. Jenner because she wants to make a "choice" to be black, whereas Mr. Jenner doesn't have a choice in who he is.  

What?  Seriously?  One person can go against their DNA programming and try to be something they are not, but it's not their choice; whereas for someone else it is a choice?  If Jenner can claim to be a female even though he's obviously male, by birth, by DNA, by science, by reason; why can't this woman say she is black even though she's obviously white, by birth, by DNA, by science, by reason?

Amazingly, Jimmy Fallon had it right.  Ms. Dolezal is white because God made her that way, by birth, in her DNA, and any "feeling" she has to the contrary is just that, a "feeling."  And the exact same thing is true of Mr. Jenner.  He is male because God made him that way, by birth, in his DNA, and any "feeling" he has to the contrary is just that, a "feeling."  Oh, the frustrations of the liberal logic.  

Sadly, many of the sheeple in this country will blindly follow the liberal logic, laughing at Ms. Dolezal, embracing Mr. Jenner.  They will ignore the simple truth that both of these people are hurting individuals, looking for love and acceptance, looking for an "identity" that they will never find anywhere outside of Christ.  Only He can change us into who we really need to be.  Only He can take a heart mired in sin and make it new and whole.  

I need to remember that as well.  The only reason any of us see the reality of this whole thing is because God opened our eyes to the truth of our own sinful hearts, gave us new ones, gave us a desire for His truth above our own sinful desires.  Only by the grace of God. 

But still, sometimes, I just want to....... AHHHHH!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Rise of Opiniphobia

I might have coined a word.  I know I didn't invent the idea.  Many have addressed the issue.  But a friend was recently commenting about the fact that these days, if you disagree with someone, especially concerning immoral lifestyles, they label you as "phobic."  Homophobic is the term used to blast anyone who dares to point out sodomy as a sin.  The latest, thanks to the subject of my last post, is "transphobic."  Anyone who dares to say that Bruce Jenner is not "courageous" for mutilating himself to pretend to be something he biologically is not, is "transphobic."

My response to that friend's comment is simply this.  Those folks are opiniphobic.  And while mine not be a real word, at least I'm using the concept in the right way.  Others are not. 

A "phobia" is a persistent fear of something.  Someone who suffers from arachnophobia is someone who displays a genuine fear of spiders.  I know.  I suffer from this!  Spiders aren't nearly as dangerous as I perceive them to be, hence my fear is a genuine phobia.  I cringe at the sight of the things.  And don't get me started on snakes!

But here's the thing.  People use the label "homophobia" to simply describe someone who disagrees with them about the acceptance of sodomite behavior.  I don't fear those who claim to be homosexual.  I have no fear of homosexuality in general.  I simply disagree with those who claim it's acceptable behavior.  God's Word clearly says it is not.

It would be akin to two people discussing the issue of whether or not eating meat is acceptable.  One calls his friend "meataphobic" while the friend returns with a "vegaphobic" label.  It's not that either one has a dread fear of eating or not eating meat (for the most part), it's just that they disagree about whether or not it's appropriate. 

Since when did we decide that disagreeing is a phobia.  Because I don't support Jenner's "transgender" claim, it means that I'm automatically afraid of it?  Of course not.  Mr. Jenner doesn't scare me.  Well...  No, anyway.  I would gladly sit down and have lunch with him, share the gospel with him, pray with and for him.  I don't fear him, I simply share a differnt opinion about the ethical, moral, and spiriutal nature of his chosen lifestyle. 

On the other hand, those who use these kinds of labels are genuinely phobic.  They are terrified of others' opinions, if they don't line up with their own.  They can't stand disagreement with them.  And so they lash out with claims of "hate speech" and "phobia", which ironically in itself is usually accompanied by hateful speech and phobic actions.  Thus the idea of "opiniphobia."  The persistent fear of others' opinions. 

As I said, the idea is nothing new.  It's been on the rise for quite some time.  The liberal side of things has for a long time labeled anyone who disagrees as "phobic."  Primarily because it shifts the abnormality to the other person.  It makes it seem like those who disagree are the ones with the problem.  Again, even though it's an inaccurate description.  But since when are those who desire to redefine everything under the sun concerned with accuracy?

There are two streams of thought here.  One, as an American, people are entitled to their opinions.  I don't have to agree with them.  Mr. Jenner has the right to voice his opinion.  I have the right to disagree.  That's our society.  

Two, as a Christian, I'm compelled to go beyond my own opinion to see what God's Word has to say.  Once God has spoken, my opinion is worth nothing.  He is the Sovereign Creator of the Universe (I guess that makes me "evolutionaphobic").  He makes the rules.  He created male and female in the beginning.  He determined marriage is between one man and one woman.  He ordained that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone.  You are free to disagree with that.  I'm not opiniphobic myself.  But it's not me you will answer to.  And when you stand before the great Judge, I'm not really sure your opinion and your "phobic" labels are going to carry much weight.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Can We "Judge" Bruce Jenner?

I'm sure most folks have heard the big "reveal" of Bruce Jenner's "new identity."  After some surgery and other...stuff...the former Olympian has revealed that he is now "Caitlyn" Jenner. 

This morning, Pastor John Piper put a little post on Facebook asking if this "Caitlyn" was the father of Bruce Jenner's sons.  While in part it seems to be a jab, I think Pastor John was also simply trying to point out that no matter the surgery, Jenner is still biologically a male who has fathered several children.  Regardless of what he wants to "identify" as, he is a man, he provided the male "part" needed for child birth, and nothing changes that. 

Of course, as you can imagine, comments were quick and sometimes harsh.  Here is a snapshot as I saw it on my feed:

Aside from the simple head-shaking I experience when I wonder why some of these folks even read Pastor Piper's posts (that was fun to say), I also face the head-shaking question of "have these folks ever read a Bible?"

We hear all the time this mantra of "we can't judge others" and "we should just love everyone."  But those comments show a complete lack of biblical understanding, both of judging and love. 

When it comes to judging, it is true that God is the ultimate judge.  Only He determines the ultimate fate of any man, woman or child, and His Word clearly states that the only criteria to be used is that of Jesus Christ.  In that sense, we don't judge. 

Yet Scripture also clearly tells us to be "fruit inspectors", judging the fruit in one another's life compared to the truth of God's Word.  Within in the church, that judgment can at times even lead to removing a person from the fellowship of God's people if they live in consistent, unrepentant sin.  Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 6 and other places spell this out for us. 

So, to call sin, sin is not "judging" as so many put it.  We are simply holding one another to the standards of God's Word.  Which by the way, is what that text about "not judging" that so many point to is all about.  Matthew 7 is all about holding others to different standards than we apply to ourselves, ignoring our own sin while highlighting others, etc.  We should avoid that, but Jesus does tell us to deal with our own sin, and then we are more ready to help others deal with theirs as well.  It's not meant to tell us to ignore those in sin completely, but to hold all to the same standard, which is God's Word. 

As to love, this attitude shows equal ignorance.  Genuine love, biblical love, is not simply letting others do whatever they want regardless of the sinfulness of the actions.  True love seeks the highest good of others.  To seek the highest good of a man like Bruce Jenner, is to tell him that his current confusion is not remedied through surgeries and makeup, but through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Because we love others, we tell them they are lost in sin and that Jesus is the only answer for that sin problem.  

If I see a friend bound for disaster, it is unloving to keep my mouth shut and say, "Well, to each his own." If I see a child about to stick his hand in a hot oven, it's unloving to say, "Well, whatever makes him happy."  Love seeks the highest good, seeks to protect, seeks to heal.  To those in sin, love says "Your contentment can only be found in Christ, continuing in your sin will drag you to hell, Christ can heal and save and forgive."  

People often point to the story in John chapter 8 of the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus rebukes those who are preparing to "judge" her, and lovingly offers her forgiveness.  Yes, he does that.  Because those who were about to stone her were doing it out of rage, in an attempt to "trap" Jesus, in denial of their own need for forgiveness as well.  

But then notice what Jesus says to the woman.  Not, "hey, it's ok, live life the way you want, do what feels right."  He says, "go and sin no more."  He love and forgives, but then calls her to leave her sin behind.

So, the loving thing to say is "Mr. Jenner, whatever pain and loneliness has caused the confusion in your life, know that true and lasting peace can only come from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Turn from your sin, from your selfish desires, and seek Him. Find love, find peace, find reconciliation with God in Christ.  He will make you whole.  He will give you true identity in Him."  That's not judging, that's lovingly stating the truth.  Just as it was presented to me.  Just as we present it to any and all others who are lost and dying in sin.  Jesus is the answer. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The World is Broken...and So Are You

How can ______________________? (fill in the blank)

How can those ISIS monsters do what they do?

How can rioters cause so much destruction and think it's helpful?

How can Bruce Jenner think mutilating himself is going to help anything?

How can people blame the police for everything, including biker fights?

How can people continue to slaughter babies in the name of convenience?

How can my good friend buy into every conspiracy theory, including his latest "flat earth" kick?

How can we keep electing the politicians we do?  Can't people see who they really are?

How can...

The answer to all these questions is really simple.  The World is Broken.  Have you read the first few chapters of Genesis?  God created and it was good.  Man sinned, and it was broken.  We are in a state of brokenness that will continue until Christ returns and the New Heavens and the New Earth become a present reality.  

And that means that until then, people will continue to do broken things.  Horrible things.  Things that confuse some of us, and defy logic, and make you shake your head.  It's a broken world, with broken people.

But here's the thing.  You're one of 'em, and so am I.  We're all broken.  Have your read the first few chapters of Romans?  All of us, every one of us, is broken.  We all seek our own selfish desires.  Some of us are bound by cultural restraints, legal restraints, our idea of moral restraints.  But in the end, we all like sheep have gone astray, none seeks God, none seeks right.  We are all broken. 

I hear the arguments:  But I would never do that!  But I could never possibly...!  But!  As I once heard it put, the world is sliding to hell on their "buts."  We may not all act in the most sinful way possible, but we are all equally depraved.  The heart that murders is born in the heart that feels anger, Jesus said.  The heart that commits adultery is born in the heart that looks with lust, He said.  The heart is a deceitful thing, full of all kinds of wickedness, Jeremiah told us. 

Here's another "how can..." question.  How can a holy and perfect God, one who is perfect is righteousness and judgment, how can He know what you did/thought/said this week and still let you draw breath and escape His wrath?  How can God not just shake his head at our stupidity and wipe us all out right now?

Because while the world is broken, God is in the business of fixing things.  Jesus came to take the wrath we deserve, so that we might have forgiveness.  It's an act of pure grace.  And it's only His grace that separates me from that ISIS soldier, that rioter, that murderer, that...whatever.  It's grace. I don't pretend to understand it.  His thoughts are not like mine, His ways infinitely higher, Isaiah says.

All will one day stand before Him.  The whole broken world. All will be judged.  Only those in Christ will escape the flames.  Pray you receive His mercy now and don't find yourself surprised to be in "that" crowd on that final day.

And for those who do know Christ, know His mercy and forgiveness: the next time you're tempted to look down your nose and shake your head at the sin of others, take a good look at your own heart, and thank God for the mercy He's shown you.  You were born just as broken.  God's grace has fixed you.  How can He be so gracious as to save a sinner like me?  His thoughts are not like mine, His ways infinitely higher, and I'm so glad they are!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Can We "Overdo" Grace?

As you can tell by the title of this little blog, I kind of like the idea of grace.  I mean, apart from grace we have nothing.  Apart from grace we are nothing but a bunch of rebellious, hell-bound, wrath-deserving... well, you get the idea.  Grace is amazing.  I think someone even wrote a song about that. 

So, I'm reading through our daily reading plan at church, looking for Sunday night's message.  I preach through books on Sunday mornings (we're in John at the moment) and then for Sunday evenings, I take a text from that week's readings.  Anyway, I'm reading through this week, and I come to Isaiah 55. 

Now, let me say something. One of the reasons I think preaching through a book on Sunday morning is a good idea is because it forces me to address the topics as God's Word brings them up.  I don't get to pick and choose. I don't get to skip over things, or just dwell on my favorite texts and topics, etc.  I think that's a wise approach to get to the "whole counsel" of God's Word. 

And as I'm reading here in Isaiah 55 I'm reminded why this is a good practice.  Because I LOVE this chapter.  I'd probably come here way too often.  53 is obviously an amazing text, one I could meditate on forever.  But I love 55 as well.  What a great chapter.  And it's all about grace. 

Granted, the word isn't used there at all.  But the concept...  "He who has no money, come, buy and eat!"  Come and find God's salvation, you who have nothing to offer, no means of getting it!  That's grace.  "Let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."  Grace, grace, grace!

Anyway, I'm reading this chapter, and looking for all the things grace is to fill in the outline, and before I know it, I have it "narrowed down" to EIGHT points.  That's right, an 8 point sermon. And that really was narrowing it down, I think.  Because grace is so...well, amazing!

And then I think, "Am I overdoing this?"  I'm I overemphasizing this thing called grace?  Can we "overdo" grace? I mean, if I talk about grace too much, does that lessen the reality of sin?  Does it make it seem like our sin isn't that big a deal?   

C. H. Surgeon once said:  "We think that we are honoring God when we think great thoughts of our sin. Let us recollect, that while we ought to think very greatly of our own sin, we dishonor God if we think our sin greater than his grace. God’s grace is infinitely greater than the greatest of our crimes."

Infinitely greater than the greatest of our crimes.  So, can we really overdo grace?  Well....  I think sometimes grace can be misunderstood and misapplied.  Paul even addresses some of those potential problems in Romans 6.  But in the end, true grace, truly understood, can never be "overdone" or "over emphasized."  

Truly, apart from grace, we have nothing.  No hope.  No life.  No...anything.  I'm no John Newton, but I even penned a little hymn/ditty about this glorious grace not too long ago.  I can't help it.  I think about grace all the time.  I love to preach it, because I know I so desperately need it.  And you do, too.  

I hope I don't scare any of our folks away who might read this and think, "An EIGHT point sermon on Sunday night!"  I'll try to keep 'em relatively brief.  But oh my!  Grace!  It's the theme of the song we'll sing for all eternity.  We're just getting warmed up....

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you."