Friday, August 23, 2019

What kind of God is this?

I am currently reading the book, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.

God is not watching me from His heavenly throne saying, “When are you going to get your act together? When are you going to deal with that sin?” Rather, He is, as it were, coming alongside me, saying, “We are going to work on that sin, but meanwhile I want you to know that I no longer count it against you.”


(Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (p. 28). NavPress. Kindle Edition.) 

Unfortunately, I do not think the picture of a God who comes along side me is one that is preached in many churches today.

In many churches, we see the first God, the God who is watching you, waiting for you to fix yourself. The God of the prosperity preachers, who tell you that you need to have a better self-worth to live your best life. The God of the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the tax-collector sinner who stood a ways off from him.

Let me clarify, I am not, nor do I believe is Bridges in his book, saying that God is okay with our sin. In fact, quite the opposite. It's just that the means of dealing with that sin are two polar opposites.

In the first case, it is all on us. God is watching while we must fix it. That is a huge burden, an unbearable one as I constantly fall and must pick myself up again and again. Yet Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matt 11:29-30) 

In the second, it is a joint effort. God and me. The elephant and mouse on the bridge. You know, so that when they got to the other side, the mouse looked up at the elephant and said, "Boy, we sure shook that bridge, didn't we." We are yoked together with Jesus, just as two oxen (or an elephant and a mouse) are put together to plow a field. We are a work in progress and God leads us as we stay yoked to Him and follow His leading. As we pray, as we study His word, as we surrender to His Spirit. As we live in the joy that exists because of the assurance of salvation. John Piper calls it "Christian Hedonism." Where hedonism is the pursuit of ecstasy for pleasures sake, I understand Christian Hedonism as the pursuit of the ecstasy that is found in God alone. The more I find that my joy in God, the lighter my burden becomes, because now when I choose not to follow the ways of the world to satisfy my longings, but rather the ways of God, the burden is light because it is what my heart truly desires. It is why David could say that his delight is in the law of the Lord. (Ps 1:1-2, 40:8, 119:69-72, 119:92-93, 119:174)

I will end today with this quote from the book, "This twofold effect of encouragement and gratitude together produce in us a desire to deal with our sin. Make no mistake: Dealing with our sin is not an option. We are commanded to put sin to death. It is our duty to do so. But duty without desire soon produces drudgery. And it is the truth of the gospel, reaffirmed in our hearts daily, that puts desire into our duty."

(Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (p. 28). NavPress. Kindle Edition.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The cure for sin

I am currently reading the book, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.


In chapter 3, Bridges talks about the destructive power of sin, and makes an analogy using cancer, something that has deeply affected his life. Chapter 4 is titles "The Remedy for Sin." If you think of sin as cancer, hearing that there is a remedy is surely a welcome relief. 

He speaks of John Newton, author of the well-known hymn, "Amazing Grace." Early in life, Newton was a slave trader. Eventually becoming a minister, Newton looks back to his life as a slave trader and of course, is horrified by it. Reminds me of the story of the Apostle Paul in some ways. 

Bridges writes, "Both John Newton and the apostle Paul saw themselves as great sinners, but with a great Savior." (Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (pp. 23-24). NavPress. Kindle Edition.) While we might not have committed the same sins, any sin is enough to separate us from God, and with that knowledge, I pray that we too might see ourselves as great sinners in need of a Savior. Or as sick patients in need of a remedy.

I think we can safely make the assumption that both Newton and Paul progressed in their growth in the faith as time went on. One thing about this growth, it increased their knowledge of their sinfulness! Sadly, I am not sure that many of today's Christians or preaching shares this position. 

So what is the remedy for sin? It is the gospel. Not the one-time confession of faith or acceptance of Christ, but the daily knowledge that Christ died on the cross in our place. He suffered damnation in our place. And if there is a day that we do not recognize this, that is a day that we need to repent of. The Bible confirms this repeatedly. If not, then why all of the instruction about how Christians should live? Why would Paul have to encourage us to live as "living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1) or to "live a life worthy of the gospel" (Phil 1:27) unless there was an ongoing need to do so in the life of the believer?

It all brings me back to something God laid on my heart several years ago. Something obvious, but also something that had not fully penetrated by heart. Something that I still let go of when I do not remind myself of the gospel each and every day. And that is simply how beautiful God is. Why else would I become a living sacrifice to Him? Because I have seen His mercy. Because I have seen my sin, what it does to me, and believe that God through Jesus Christ has provided the remedy.

To quote Paul from Romans 11:33-36, just prior to his statement in Romans 12:1:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.



Monday, August 19, 2019

Seeing the good in light of the bad

I am currently reading the book, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.


I am picking up with the beginning of Chapter 3. In this chapter Bridges begins by discussing the destructive power of sin. Not only does sin destroy our union with God, but it also has destructive effects in other areas of our lives as well. And this is not just something that the unsaved must deal with, the Christian must deal with it as well.

Bridges states, "Now, here is the unvarnished truth that we need to lay to heart. Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls. It is the failure to recognize the awful reality of this truth that provides the fertile soil in which our “respectable” or “acceptable” sins grow and flourish." (Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (p. 16). NavPress. Kindle Edition.) 

In this chapter Bridges compares sin to cancer, something that he has personally felt the impact of in his own life. He shares how his wife was diagnosed with and then died of the disease. Sin, like cancer, is bad news. But that is part of the point of the gospel. If we don't see the bad news, how can we embrace the good news? But if we see the bad news as bad as it is, then the good news looks glorious! 

I will end with this quote from Chapter 3, "God forgives our sin because of the shed blood of Christ, but He does not tolerate it. Instead, every sin that we commit, even the subtle sin that we don’t even think about, was laid upon Christ as He bore the curse of God in our place." (Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (p. 22). NavPress. Kindle Edition.) When we begin to understand the meaning of that, the meaning of grace, the depth of our sin, then we can begin to appreciate the meaning of the gospel message.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Need to Breathe - Multiplied



Multiplied
Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied
Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these
Source: LyricFind
As I sit and listen to this song, this is one I can imagine using in church as a worship chorus. I am hopeful that many churches do use it that way. God's love is amazing. And while I might not have completely surrendered to his design, it is certainly what is in my heart when I truly see the depth of His love for me. How truly irresistible is his love when we are confronted with it!


10 out of 10, no doubt!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Flawless - Mercy Me



"Flawless"

There’s got to be more 
Than going back and forth 
From doing right to doing wrong 
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are 
Come on get in line right behind me 
You along with everybody 
Thinking there’s worth in what you do 

Then Like a hero who takes the stage when 
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late 
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace 

No matter the bumps 
No matter the bruises 
No matter the scars 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 
No matter the hurt 
Or how deep the wound is 
No matter the pain 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 

Could it possibly be 
That we simply can’t believe 
That this unconditional 
Kind of love would be enough 
To take a filthy wretch like this 
And wrap him up in righteousness 
But that’s exactly what He did 

No matter the bumps 
No matter the bruises 
No matter the scars 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 
No matter the hurt 
Or how deep the wound is 
No matter the pain 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 

Take a breath smile and say 
Right here right now I’m ok 
Because the cross was enough 

Then Like a hero who takes the stage when 
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late 
Well let me introduce you to grace grace 
God’s grace 

No matter the bumps 
No matter the bruises 
No matter the scars 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 
No matter the hurt 
Or how deep the wound is 
No matter the pain 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 

No matter what they say 
Or what you think you are 
The day you called His name 
He made you flawless
He made you flawless

No matter the bumps 
No matter the bruises 
No matter the scars 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless
I have to admit that I at first had mixed feelings about this song. 

I love the lyrics. And I love the concept of having the paint stained band with the stain of the paint being removed as the video keeps going. Not the biggest fan of the musical style. A little to "pop music" for me, but I am sure not for others. At  first, I struggled with the idea of including people who struggle with sin along with those who have physical issues, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter why we feel less then whole, Christ makes us all whole through the cross.

I also appreciate the idea at the beginning of the song where it talks about where we get our worth (from our behavior), and he introduces them to the idea of grace.

Final score for this one is 9 out of 10.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Shhh...that might offend someone.

I am currently reading the book, Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.


In chapter 2, he sets the premise that sin is not something that is discussed anymore by the average church goer, and perhaps something that is not even a issue for them. 

But why? He gives this premise in the book, "It may have been softened in many of our churches so as not to make the audiences uncomfortable." (Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins (p. 12). NavPress. Kindle Edition.) I couldn't agree more. As one who has sat in on numerous committee meetings, the common theme is, "What can we do to make our church more attractive to others?" Bigger buildings, gyms, coffee bars, that what we need. What can we get rid of? Fire and brimstone, boring hymns, and lets stop mentioning sin. But there is an axiom I have often heard, "You win people to what you win them with." I doubt many Christians today could even articulate what the gospel truly is.

Of course, I think that some of the judgmental finger-pointing of some churches and Christians contributes to this idea. Picketing or even bombing abortion clinics is just one example that comes to mind. We want to show that we are accepting, although at times even that has it limits. Again, I believe that we tend to be more tolerant of this sins we might be guilty of, or the "Respectable Sins," than of those that would offend us.

The author states that this is a dark picture. I agree. Jesus said, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke (18:8b). My fear is that there are many in the church who are there for the wrong reasons, because they have been won through the wrong methods. If we don't believe in our own sinfulness, do we really have the faith that saves us?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Bernie Sanders - Really doesn't get it

Like most liberals, or often people in general, Bernie Sanders just doesn't get it. In last week's confirmation hearings of Russell T. Vought, the following exchange took place.




I saw one comment on youtube, it stated, "Mr. Sanders is doing the very thing he is accusing Mr. Vought of doing—being exclusive. He is obviously rejecting Mr. Vought because of his beliefs." I couldn't agree more.

Seems like Bernie was trying to dig up some dirt on Mr. Vought, and found this article. An article where Mr. Vought is defending his university and expressing his values. But those values don't line up with Mr. Sanders values, so the attack was on. I find it interesting that when Mr. Vought is explaining his answer, and doing it well, that Mr. Sanders cuts him off and says, "again, I apologize, forgive me, we just don't have a lot of time." He then restates the question. If you don't have a lot of time, then why did you ask the question? But the answer is obvious, it is because he only wants a yes or no answer. He wants to make Mr. Vought appear racist or Islamophobic.

Are some Christians racist or Islamophobic. I would say yes, but Christianity in itself does not support such a position. And I believe Mr. Vought expressed that well. It is a core belief of Christianity that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Expressing that belief should not be a crime, nor should it be a litmus test for confirmation.

I am thankful to see that Mr. Vought was confirmed. Sorry Bernie, the only one expressing intolerance appeared to be you.