Monday, May 30, 2011
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Recently I met with a friend who shared with me how she was struggling with her faith. Unfortunately the people representing Christ in her home had a less than stellar track record. Before I go on let me say that no home will pass the test of perfection. We all truly do fall short of the glory of God. However, contradictions of what we say and how we live should not be the prevailing theme in the home of a professed believer.
I grew up in a home where the only time you heard mention of God was if His name were attached to a curse word. Contradiction was the norm at my house where my dad would often say things like "do as I say, not as I do" to justify himself. I can remember growing up a very confused and angry child because it was obvious to me, that there were major inconsistencies in placing burdens on our backs that he himself was not willing to carry. (Luke 11:46) To me they were just a tool with which my dad could have power over me. Now my disobedience aside, there was not a lot of grace and very seldom an explanation for why my dad treated me the way he did.
The rooms of the believers home should be overflowing with the river of grace! There should not only be times when punishment is given for flat out rebellion, (which is God's mercy on children showing them that there are consequences) but grace given for accidents and mistakes. I once heard a story of a young boy who turned away from his grandmother when he thought she had finished serving spaghetti on his plate, causing her to drop an entire fork full on the ground. She remarked with anger in her voice "look what you done stupid" The family has learned to laugh about this incident now, but that must have been a very hurtful statement coming from someone whom you love.
The friend that I recently met with communicated to me that she didn't understand grace. Not in the sense of what it is, but more what it looks like lived out. This most likely came from a very legalistic upbringing where the Sermon on the Mount was taught as a set of rules instead of the demands of God which are only satisfied in the blood of Christ. So many people have confused the law of God for something that we need to do so that God will accept us. Instead of seeing it for what it is, a way for God to show us our true state. Remember the song “Amazing grace”? “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear”. Through the law we see our sinful state, but if we stop there our condition is utterly hopeless. If we read the next part of that verse though we see the gospel! “Twas grace my fears relieved” Jesus fulfilled that which we could not... the law. (Mathew 5:17) Became that which He was not...sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) And made a way for us to be something we could never be... acceptable to God. (Philippians 3:10)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Today I went to a park in the neighboring county called "Hell hollow wilderness area". Despite the name it really is a nice park. The ravine drops 100 feet down into what is called "Paine" creek. (I didn't know the name of the creek until I was doing research for this blog entry) You can walk down the 262 timber steps which put you right at the creek edge. After running up and down the steps twice, my goal was to find a nice spot up river to sit and eat my lunch. I normally would have gone home after church for a nap, but I have been wrestling with some things lately and I just don't know what to do. I don't ever remember a time, as a Christian, when I felt so helpless and unsure about what to do in my life. One of the worship leaders at church quoted psalm 46 this morning.
"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling."
When I heard those words I had to stop myself from crying because although I felt unsure about so many circumstances in my life, this Psalm covered things like the "Earth giving way" and "mountains being moved into the heart of the sea". Were my problems that big? Most would say no, but they are big to me. And I will add that they are important to God.
As I walked toward my "perfect" picnic spot I ran into some trouble. The water was high enough that I couldn't find a place to cross without getting my feet wet. I tried a balancing act on some logs which then got me to some bigger rocks, but I eventually had no choice but to get wet if I was going to continue. I made it across to the other bank and I walked along the waters edge for probably a half mile. I was looking for the place where no one else had been, even imagining finding ancient Indian artifacts or a deposit of gold! As I continued it became clear to me that God was pointing things out to me that totally related to what I was going through personally.
I noticed some trees growing out of the side of the bank. One of the things that really stood out to me was how the roots were exposed due to the years of water rushing over the base of the tree eventually eroding the soil away. Although most of the roots were exposed, the tree continued to flourish and grow at an awkward angle. I began to meditate on this a bit, and here is what I concluded. we are that tree! Now before you think I am getting all hippy tree hugger on you let me finish. Like the tree, we too do not look like we should. Our lives are crooked and imperfect at best. The roots illustrate what we are holding on to in this world. The soil that was washed away represents those things which have no ability to help us cope in this life like jobs, status, money etc. These things are not eternal and will eventually be burnt up. Remember the name "Paine" creek? the water that washes away our hold on those things is a picture of the trials and tribulation that God allows in our lives. The good soil further in is obviously God. The roots of the tree sink deep into this soil providing water and nutrients and stability. John 15:5 "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." As you look at the picture above notice that there is nothing holding this tree to the bank except the roots. Even a normal tree in your yard looks somewhat stable because it stands straight up. You can't tell how strong the tree is just by looking at it. The roots could be very shallow, and one small breeze could knock it over. Not this tree! A tree hanging off the edge of a cliff with all the soil around its base washed away has no hope but the roots that run deep into the good soil. There were many other lessons that the Lord taught me today through His creation but I will save those for another day. Romans 1:20 "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made". To Him be the glory and may the Lamb that was slain receive full reward for His suffering!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I was on my way to Florida for Christmas and as I went through the metal detector, I took off the ring that I was wearing and placed it in the box along with my other items. This was a ring that my mom had given me when I turned 18, and it was very important to me. I’m not even sure why I took it off because it is made of white gold with black Onyx and a diamond in the center, nothing that would set off a metal detector. I don’t wear it very often out of fear of losing it. As a matter of fact I don’t remember the last time that I had it out of its box, tucked away in the drawer of my desk. In my hurriedness to get out of the way, I left it in the container. It was with all of my other stuff, but somehow went overlooked. I was halfway across the airport when I realized it. So I gathered my bags and hoofed it back to the security station. They didn’t know anything about it and told me that they would page over the intercom if it was found. I walked away sad because I figured that it was lost forever. I made it all the way back to gate C20 to hear what I thought was the tail end of a page. All that I heard was “lost….return to the security checkpoint”. So I turned around and made my way back to the metal detectors. As I got there I was greeted by one of the security personnel. She asked me to describe my ring to her, and so I did. She happily handed it to me and I thanked her. What happened next was what I believe to be the whole reason why this happened. In the excitement of everything, I forgot that in my shirt pocket I had a stack of million dollar bill gospel tracts. I try to do this because people will actually ask what you have in your pocket. That makes it very simple to hand them out. Most people will thank you. I always tell them: “there is a Christian message on the back, make sure you read it”. So as I am putting my ring on, the male security guard says, “those look fake” and he pointed to my pocket. So I pulled the tracts out and handed them both one. They thanked me, and then the woman walked over and showed one of the passengers coming through the line and I was able to give him one also. All the commotion must have gotten the attention of the police officer on duty because he was sizing me up as I walked away. (mind you he had seen me four times at this point) So I said merry Christmas and handed him one also. Here is the point to this whole story. God is sovereign, and I believe with all my heart that He knew exactly who was to get the good news of the gospel. Out of all the thousands of people in the airport, these four people were in God's Crosshairs. I have no idea who these people are, but I can tell you this. Besides the officer, this was a completely different group that was on duty when I came through originally and when I went back the first time. Just as the ring that I lost was precious to me, these souls that I crossed paths with today were precious to God. I pray that all who received a tract from my pocket today would repent and come to faith in Christ, and that He would receive all the glory showing that He can use even “[i]the poorest material He has”, me.
[i] From; “Not my will” Francena H. Arnold