I heard someone say, “Certain fruit can only grow out of the soil of affliction.” This is true. I heard that on Sunday, and tonight I was speaking with a friend who lives far away. She was reminding me that she clings most closely to the undiluted truths of the Gospel, when all she has is Christ. Continue Reading
Every now and then a sermon really speaks to a need in your life. It actually happens to me regularly. I have so many things the Spirit could work on me, to change. Last Sunday was a perspective changing sermon. The passage of Scripture is Romans 8:31-34. You should read it a few times today, if you get the chance. The preacher asked the questions that these verses ask, but left out the answers at first. Kind of like this:
1. Who can be against us?
2. How could He freely give us all things?
3. Who brings a charge against us?
4.Who can condemn us?
Those questions are scary, if we don’t include the Gospel answers. Who can be against us? Plenty of people. How could God give us anything? I don’t see why he should, when we deserve his wrath. We are terrible sinners, by nature and experience. Who brings accusations against us? People do. Satan does. Who can condemn us? Well, God has every right to condemn us.
Find someone who knows less than you and teach them what you know. This has been some of the most helpful and hopeful advice I’ve ever received. Mentoring or discipleship doesn’t have to be intimidating. But it is something that is expected of you. You know something about God’s word that someone else could benefit from. Someone else knows something you can benefit from. This is the Spirit of the text in the book of Titus, which says, older teach the younger.
Are you too proud fo dat? Run through this short list and check your ego. If you’re too proud fo dat, it’s time to start removing obstacles to your effectiveness as a representative of the Gospel. I’ve been discovering, I actually am too proud fo dat.
Are you too proud to admit you don’t know something? This is a growth-stunter. You are waiving your right to more wisdom. That’s right, it could be that your pride is making you dumber. Not only that but, asking someone how or why gives them an opportunity to help you. People who help other people feel accepted and valued. If you’re too proud fo dat, you miss an opportunity to value someone else’s knowledge. As a result, you leave a door for the Gospel, shut in their lives.
We have such a hard time deciphering God’s will. We get all busy analyzing, reassessing and over analyzing what we think God might want us to do. We want to obey him. We really do. The hard part in all of it, is that we forget that sometimes God wants to use us by making us not very useful.
People who get sick can’t get up and run marathons for a good cause. Mute people can’t share the Gospel on a bus. I don’t speak Kikuyu. You probably don’t either. That rules out entire villages for us to reach, in Africa.
“Drop Dead, Creep!”
“An accident has happened”
“You are so beautiful”
“I’ll never stop loving you, ever!”
I wonder if we even make use of words, like we should. What I mean to say here, is that we don’t. We play “Words with Friends”. We talk all day. We tweet and blog and text in profusion. If words are a man, he is without respect in our generation. If they are instruments, they’re out of tune and if tools, then we find them rusty in the shed out back.
I’m not talking about using words more or using more words, but a better and strategic use of them. Less is good. Sometimes more can be good too, if it’s the kind of good that hits its mark.
We might all have the same kind of friend. You know her. She is much-o-matic when she speaks. She is flowery and fluffy in her verbosity, which is unnaturally corny. She pulls the groan from inside you. Her use of senses and tastes draws you unwillingly into her smooshy emotions, leaving you violated by things you did not want to know or even think about. By the time you get to the end of the first sentence, you’re planning your own funeral. She lovingly puts 90% of her readers to sleep by overly nurturing them and alternately knocking them out with life-instruction-overload. Continue Reading
Freedom from legalism sets you free into the ability to suffer and to really get some hard work done. When you’ve thrown off the fetters of a system of works, or style-control or how many times you enter the church doors a week or what you’re allowed to drink, it isn’t for the purpose of comfort and worldliness that you do so. And if you are still stuck in a place where you’re taught that very specific rules apply to your appearance and what you ingest, you will not be liked more by God because of it.
It is not grace vs. law when one decides “I don’t have to wear long skirts or dress conservatively anymore” or “I’ve been set free to go drinking with the girls and put on some skinnies.” (This is where I have to say that “drinking a glass of wine with dinner” isn’t wrong and wearing the latest fashion isn’t wrong.)
All I’m saying here, is that isn’t the point of the passages that address law vs. grace. It’s not grace to drink alcohol in the same way it isn’t law to wear long dresses. It is law to think you will work your rear off being good and thereby impress God. It is grace to say there is no righteousness of my own aside from my Savior who bought me with his blood. The best part of not being under the law is that the Law was completely fulfilled in Christ. Now we are under Christ. That is called grace. Continue Reading