“I do”, but not perfectly

Is “pristine” the only thing that glorifies God and benefits us? Can love have mistakes in it? Certainly God’s love has no mistakes in it, but what about mine? Can it still be called love if it’s blemished and misshapen? Is it good-enough to offer up?

I don’t think our love should be the focus of our gaze. I believe our love should be a response to His love. His love is perfect–that’s why we focus on it and that’s why it makes us righteous in His sight. His love is the One that went to the cross; ours is the one that exists because of the cross. Our love should not be our shame because it does not define us. His love does–if we’ll let it.

Therefore, we should no more desire only that the glory of God would shine forth from our lives; may we also plead that His glory would shine into our lives. In love is glory and in Him it rests. Let us rest there as well…

I have a burden to be unburdened, Lord!

Have you ever felt like you had too much too do and you’re already impatient with yourself for what is not done? I know that the feeling is not so unusual in this crazy world of amp’ed up schedules and overburdened lives, but what I’m specifically talking about is an overburdened heart.

Can you identify with that? I know I can. It seems like my heart has been overburdened since birth. There have been so many things to contend with, so much to learn to understand. So much I’ve wanted to change and un-root from within me.

That’s a lot to have on one’s emotional to-do list. But I haven’t seen it that way; rather, I’ve considered it all to be necessary and so I’ve plunged in and tried to make a 24 hour workplace of my heart.

It will come as no surprise to you that I’m exhausted. But, to me all I can tell myself is that I can’t afford to be tired. If I slow down everything will just take longer and may, if I’m not careful, never get resolved at all.

I can’t live with that. I need to know that I’m making my way speedily along to healing. I need to know that the pain is quickly being overtaken by gain.

But while my desires for healing–like yours–are good, I think I need to pay attention for a moment to why I get derailed in this journey. I don’t think it is that I want too much. I think it is that I want too much from the wrong source. When I’m rushing along in this fierce pursuit of healing I’m not being still enough to be healed.

It’s like I think God’s forgotten that I’m broken. It is that I think He needs instruction on how to care. But isn’t this thinking pattern something that needs to be healed as well? Shouldn’t I hope for the day when I can be at ease in the knowledge that He is “it”?

I want that to be my reality. When doubts scream at me and try to tell me that I can be a better God than He, may I shut them up. May I tell them, tell Him I don’t want to be. I wasn’t made to be satisfied with such independence; rather, I was meant to be connected. Therefore, I want someone else to care for me so I can become who I was made to be.

Yes, I need lessons, Lord. So, would You help me sit and receive them?

 

Nothing less than abundance in everything

God is proving to be so interesting as I walk with Him. The thing that stands out the most to me at the moment is how He works in everything to make me know Him. He lets me have enough of what I want to see the weakness of those goals.

He would have me do nothing in vain — that is, He would have me do nothing less than labor with His glory as my end. Oh, the pleasures and purity and passion for knowing and enjoying Him to be gained on that journey!

Who is Jesus Christ anyway?

So Jesus is our Savior, but where does His power and authority to save us come from?

His power — yes the one thing in His personal profile that puts Him above every other holy man the world over — is in the fact that He is God’s choice; God’s specific means of saving us.

God looked on us in our sin and saw it as so definitive of our identity and nature that only He could do anything to save us from being who we are. He would send His only Son to work out in our midst the Father’s plan of salvation for us.

But, what did it mean for Him to be the Son of God? How is He different from us who also have the privilege of being called God’s children when we are reconciled to Father God through His Firstborn?

Well, for one thing, Jesus’ coming into the world was marked by the birth of a virgin. Mary carried the Savior of the world in her womb because the Holy Spirit (God) had enabled the physical conception of He who would be God in human form.

From the very beginning of Christ’s life on earth He was strikingly different than any man on earth. Yes, He was similar in visible form to His earthly companions, and yet there was so much of His composition that would not make sense to them unless they believed that He was at once the Son of God and God Himself.

This may sound like a peculiar thesis, but it is on this that the whole of Christianity hinges. Unless Jesus could be God and human simultaneously, He could not reconcile the two. These parties have been astranged because man’s sin can not be deleated and God’s glory cannot be compromised. If God accepted us on our own merits — with our sin — He would need to change His commands and become like we are in character to fellowship with us. This transformation would have done nothing good for either of us; after all, the predicament was not due to the fact God is not good, but that He is and we are in conflict with Him because we are evil.

Therefore, God had to do what would not alter His decree, but deliver us from the harshness of its punishment. The only way for us to be excused from serving our sentance was for it to be served by One who could give perfect righteousness to us in exchange for paying for us a debt He did not owe.

None would do that — none could do that — but Christ. Only He could boast the credentials necessary for a salvation proposition worthy of God’s divine consent. He was holy — it radiated from His whole identity: He glorified God in everything He did; He kept the law in every way, even when it came to the executing the Creator’s intent in His motivations; He knew God and had unbroken fellowship with Him; and He had power over the hearts of man — to declare to them the truth, convict them of their sin and save them from the penalty they deserved by offering divine forgiveness. Yet even in all these things that He did, He did not work to bring glory to Himself; He was faithful to His mission and the temporary limitations that it brought upon the revelation and exercise of His glory and majesty.

Though He was with God when He formed the earth and the world (as it says in John 1:1), He is also the reason all these things were formed. In Christ resides all the essence of God though He for His particular responsibility took on the fullness of mankind’s essence.

The second thing that distinguishes Christ in the eyes of God and the world is that He was sinless throughout the time that He was wrapped in the physical. The weakness of our fleshly bodies subjected Him to every sin that we are tempted and taken in by, but He was greater than the trap. Our mortal limitations were not His whole; He wrestled with sin because He was not under its power and it could have no claim over Him.

This sinless identity and legacy left no room for a barrier to exist between God the Father. In all things He was obedient; The Word (as He is called in John 1) was able to communicate God’s plea for faith to arrise within His people that they might accept His sacrifice on their behalf.

First we were sinners guilty of cursing God and incurring His just wrath, but how much more are we worthy of death if we should bear the guilt of an Innocent’s death rather than claiming it as our only hope before God?

If Christ is not the only thing that we have, then He is the condemnation against us in everything else we have. If I would offer an aliby it would discredit me in the eyes of the Judge; the only plea He will hear is Christ.

More clearly than anything else, Christ reveals the boundaries of God and man, but He also reveals what was the mystery of where they are meant to intersect.

God the Father, our Redeemer Christ, and the guilt of our consciences form the three-fold witness against each of us for our crimes. There is no reason that we should be released from death row except that One who knows our sins would bear them to the grave — putting all their power against us to death under Him.

Christ cannot be dismissed as a false witness on the part of His testimony of our sin. When He was tried to prove the legitimacy of what He testified, He told our end because of what we have done and announced that He would not let us go there without giving us access to His full pardon — a pardon He would offer at the cost of His own life. (God would know death for us so we could freely enjoy His eternal life).

Christ uses suffering to make us well

There is nothing like knowing that you will be okay when God gives you a glimpse of

how in control He is of your circumstances,

how capable He is of unveiling more of His glory to you in it, and

how adept He is in transforming your heart by its pressure.

Love Him even if He is all you have! If testing is what He has chosen for you, then appreciate the fact that there was likely no other way you could have become pliable enough for God’s love to freely mold you.

Consider the trial-testimonies of others, and ask your Savior for new insight in reflecting on yours. Our stories are not so different; they will always reflect the same truths that we need to see, if we are first conscious of the same God at work behind them.

Our Lord has enabled me to face and endure the testing of so many things that I never could have faced or come through alone. This is how the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to accomplish the revelation of grace in our lives: It corrals us into positions from which we might be most certainly impressed by our need for His sacrifice and by His willingness to offer it.

When ugliness of the soul is revealed, Christ may still be glorified

I was sitting in my room listening to Kutless and talking to God in preparation to seek Him before I read the Bible. I began journaling a little, trying to reflect on how mighty God is to turn anything and everything into something that brings glory to Him.

I thought of some of the things I have done lately that I have worried over the rightness of. Sometimes I do things or say things that I feel God leading me to do or say, but that doesn’t always mean that it goes over really well. Often I go away feeling like I have learned more than I knew I needed to; I end up believing that maybe the interaction was really more for my mind to be jolted and my heart to be brought in tune with God’s than anything else. The brilliant ideas of glory streaming from the very pores of the moment that I do what God tells me to do, are not really consistent with the need that God was addressing with the direction He gave me. Rather He had prepared a new way for me to see the pitiable state of my glory and potential so that my eyes might be lifted from this seat of self-endorsing glory.

God throws the spotlight on redemption when He speaks and instructs me to do something. I readily believe this at the outset, but I am thinking most naturally of the redemption of the other person. Only when I have passed through the opportunity, and look back, always with some measure of doubt, I question God as to the good He can bring out of the unmistakable evidences of my insensitivity and arrogance. Yes, there is love there, and more importantly, the power of the Holy Spirit is at work throughout the engagement, but I seem to be the neediest sinner in the exchange. How are You glorified in that, Lord? I ask in distress.

And He answers, Look, child. The whole thing was a glory to Me because it showed you both that I am “what it’s all about.” It was My idea to move you out of your comfort zone and speak the words that I gave you, but to see that they do not need your power of eloquence or persuasion — where there is nothing to carry them, they carry both the speaker and the hearer; thus you both need them, and I am the One who gets appreciated and profoundly recognized.

Therefore, do not grieve over seemingly unfavorable reactions, or unsightly errors in your character, that is why I came to save you. What I did for You in my death and continue to do for you in My life is too important for you to forget, so I remind you by the only thing that will build your faith knowledge that comes from Me of who I am and who you are.

This seems to make such a beautiful concept, until the shadows of my sin loom large in my recognition, and I cry, “But God, this stuff is just ugly! I am so ugly. This disgusting pride stains everything I do and say, everything I am. I am a sinner, what hope have I that I can do anything good even when I want to be involved in everything that You do?”

I know, My child. You know, none of this surprises Me. I saved you like this, and I keep saving you. I am not turned off by how you are, who you are — I am your Savior, it’s who I am.

Even in this I am letting you know the depths of My grace by the demands of your sin. There’s nothing of you that I can’t handle. So, don’t worry what others will think — it will give them a clearer vision of their own sin and their identification with you. You do not need to be great in the eyes of another for them to be turned to Me, the only contingent here is that I be great. If that be true, than every man is a lying sinner who needs my mercy and forgiveness more than he knows. And that is the only thing that anyone needs to take away from the actions and arguments of life.

Don’t Judge A Good Purpose By Its Ugly Cover

Do you feel torn down by your troubles? Uncertain of what kind of good purpose God could have in what you’re going through? Consider these verses from Psalm 102:

God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
And hurry—this can’t wait!

I’m wasting away to nothing,
I’m burning up with fever.
I’m a ghost of my former self,
half-consumed already by terminal illness.
My jaws ache from gritting my teeth;
I’m nothing but skin and bones.
I’m like a buzzard in the desert,
a crow perched on the rubble.
Insomniac, I twitter away,
mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
while others just curse.
They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes!
I draw drink from a barrel of my tears.
And all because of your furious anger;
you swept me up and threw me out.
There’s nothing left of me—
a withered weed, swept clean from the path.

Yet you, God, are sovereign still,
always and ever sovereign.
You’ll get up from your throne and help Zion—
it’s time for compassionate help.
Oh, how your servants love this city’s rubble
and weep with compassion over its dust!
The godless nations will sit up and take notice
—see your glory, worship your name—
When God rebuilds Zion,
when he shows up in all his glory,
When he attends to the prayer of the wretched.
He won’t dismiss their prayer.

Write this down for the next generation
so people not yet born will praise God:
“God looked out from his high holy place;
from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
along with their rulers to worship him.

God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
he cut me down in my prime.
“Oh, don’t,” I prayed, “please don’t let me die.
You have more years than you know what to do with!
You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
and their children will be at home with you.”

Maybe God has more spiritual goals then we can consider. Maybe He loves us enough to change us from the inside out, even if He has to bleed us dry. He can not be dismissed because we don’t at first understand what He does with us. Why would He empty us, but that He meant to fill us with more than what we had before?

Maybe He desires praise that is not merely a theme among themes in our hearts, but is so strong that it must subordinate everything else that lies within us. Maybe God is more than we thought. Maybe knowing Him is more self-requiring than we could ever know until we have fully died. Maybe He knows that what we will know then is all that we should ever want as people who belong with Him. Maybe believing all of this is enough for right now — even with these lesser things, these troubles that are also true in this moment of our lives.