Friday, June 22, 2012

Sarah, Jeremiah and Solomon

A beautiful siren once confessed, "Everything changes / Everything falls apart / Can't stop to feel myself losing control / But deep in my senses I know / How stupid could I be / A simpleton could see / that you're no good for me..."

A suffering prophet once observed, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

A wise king once commanded, "Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well." (Proverbs 5:15)

The grass is never greener. Our hearts will lie to us, tempting us to find satisfaction in the forbidden ones. Drink deeply from your own well, your own husband or wife. Do not be led astray; you'll only be left to die of thirst. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Oh, Hezekiah.

Here's the story: Hezekiah is king of Judah. He's one of the few "good kings." God tells him he's going to die, so he begs humbly for his life. God agrees to give him more time.

Then, the King of Babylon hears that he's recovered, so he comes to visit. He not-so-humbly lets this king see everything he owns, all his treasures and...Well, all the stuff you don't let another king know you have.

He's rebuked by the prophet Isaiah for doing that and God tells him that one day all his stuff will belong to the king of Babylon and his sons will be his eunuchs. Here's his thoughtful response: "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, There will be peace and security in my days. (see Isaiah 39)

That last little bit always fills my heart with anger. How on earth could you be so selfish and self-centered and...I mentally continue angrily interrogating King Hezekiah. {It's oh-so helpful and accomplishes a lot.}

Tonight, I stopped my little mental rant and realized: Usually, the reason I get angry at someone for something, especially a sin, is because it's something I do. {i.e. I get super angry at prideful people who want to be right, because it inhibits my moment of being right.}

I sat for a few minutes and journaled through my thoughts. I was thinking King Hezekiah was filled with pride, selfishness and a love of comfort...

Dang it.

That last one got me. Ooh, right on the kisser.

If I struggle with any sin, and I struggle with many sins, worshipping myself is number one. And what better way to bow at my altar than to be sure I'm always super comfortable. I've sacrificed much time, love and many people on the altar of comfort.

I got nothing. No more throwing stones at King Hezekiah. I must walk away with my tail tucked while Jesus writes my name in the sand.

After being humbled to the dust, I am grateful for a few things in this:

  • God always tells the whole truth about great "Bible heroes." 
  • He's preserved their stories, so I can see my life through theirs.
  • I don't have to hang my head in shame when I see my sin.
God's already paid the great cost of my pride and selfishness and idolatry. I'm free! Free to obey Him and follow Him and love Him above all, badly and inconsistently, but love Him just the same. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This May Be Bad Logic. I'm Not Sure.

I'm currently reading Three Free Sins by Steve Brown. {Confession: I'm nearly halfway through, and I'm still not sure I understand the phrase "three free sins."}

It's an easy read and still theologically solid. Strange, I know.

Well, here's the epiphany I had just now as I was reading:

  1. A person can only forgive others if he's know what it is to be forgiven.
  2. A person can only be forgiven if he's sinned. 
  3. Religious people are usually mean and angry at everyone and can't seem to forgive sinners. 
  4. One reason religious people can't forgive others, is because they can't accept the forgiveness they've been shown. 
  5. Religious people don't see themselves as sinners and see no reason they need to be forgiven. 
God's forgiveness -> Knowledge of own sin -> Repentance -> Ability to forgive others 

But none of that can happen if I'm convinced I don't sin, or that my sins are too small to warrant a holy God's forgiveness. 

My brain hurts. I think I need to sit, journal and draw more flow charts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is About You and Me.

"Keep a jealous watch over your repentance. Keep it up—keep it up, and let not the fire burn low. Whenever you find a slackness coming over your soul—whenever you feel slow, dull, heavy, cold, and careless about little sins—look to your own heart then, and take heed lest you fall. Say to your soul, 'Oh, my soul, what are you doing? Have you forgotten David’s fall? Have you forgotten Peter’s backsliding? Have you forgotten David’s subsequent misery? Have you forgotten Peter’s tears? Awake, O my soul, awake once more. Heap on fuel, make the fire burn bright. Return again to your God, let your repentance once more be lively. Let your repentance be repented over again.' Alas, how few are the hours in a Christian’s best days when he does not make work for repentance!" ~J.C. Ryle

An unrepentant heart filled with small sins will soon find the disastrous ones a little more gray.

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." ~Proverbs 28:13

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What if the Bible isn't True.

My pastor writes a short study each week to help prepare us for the next sermon.* It gets his people in the Word each day and has been very helpful in my life.

Yesterday, the question was asked in the study: What happens to the Gospel if the Bible isn't true? I sat and thought for a while, and my heart hurt.

The Gospel completely falls apart if the Bible isn't really God's Inerrant Word. Everything that Christians are banking this life and the next on is a lie or at the very least a mistake.

The Gospel is that God loves His children so much that He dies for them, so that they will be holy. They're freed from slavery to sin, freed from God's wrath and given victory over death and hell. They have His Spirit with them in this life and live with God forever in the next. All because of Jesus.

But if Jesus wasn't who He said He was, and the Bible isn't what It says It is. We truly are to be pitied above all men.

All that crumbles in my life if the Bible isn't true:
  • my marriage
  • hope in the face of death
  • my parenting
  • my personal worth
  • my decision-making
  • how to steward our money
  • why I exist
  • how and why I love others
  • compassion for the marginalized
Nothing is eternal. Nothing is everlasting. It's all fleeting and has little purpose beyond today. 

My Hubby and I are banking our entire lives on the Gospel, and It is true. It is the real, life- and heart-changing Truth that gives meaning, purpose and freedom to our lives. 

It may sound sad to wrap our lives up in something so tightly. But we all do it. We all worship something. If one thinks about her life, she may realize what she worships may not last much longer. Only a relationship with God through Jesus brings eternal satisfaction.

"When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

*I understand this fear: If your pastor is writing the sermons and dictating what you study in the Bible, then he may lead you astray. Yes, that is true. Cults are run this way. However, we're at liberty to read and study the Bible through any pastors or studies that we feel are helpful. This just keeps our church simple and has everyone on the same page. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Depressing. Like, Super Depressing.

I have never read through the entire Bible in one year, but I do read the Bible. {I study it using our church's study guide, but I also just read it.} I've been a Christian for almost a decade, but I've only read the whole thing once.

I use these nifty little bookmarks to keep my place. I'm at different places on each bookmark. Like I said, I'm not trying to read through the Bible this year; I'm just reading it.

I'm on my fourth or fifth time reading the Gospels, and only my second time through the rest of the Bible.

Well, all that to say: Our church is in Romans 2. I'm also in Job, Isaiah, and Revelation. {I'm also in Mark, but it's not depressing.} The rest of what I'm reading, so far, is so sad and disheartening and...Let's just say, I don't think Joel Osteen will be preaching from any of those books any time soon. {Does he even use a Bible?}

As my pastor said when I told him Romans was depressing so far, "Keep reading. It gets better." 'Tis true, Jim. 'Tis true.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Epiphany in the Car

The Toot and I were driving this afternoon and listening to his Seeds Family Worship CD, Seeds of Faith. The song Faith was playing, and the lyrics are Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NIrV). 

"v.1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
And certain of what we do not see...
v.6 Without faith it is impossible to please God
Because anyone who comes to him must believe
That he exists and that he rewards
Those who earnestly seek him."

Here's my stream of thought as I sang along with verse 6. 

"Hmm, 'He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.' 
John Piper would say He rewards us with Himself, and I believe that. 
God is Who satisfies our souls most. 
Prosperity preachers would say that God rewards us with stuff, with things--money, happiness, health.
But if I were in a place and couldn't find my Hubby, so I searched and searched and sought after him, the greatest reward wouldn't be a gift from him. 
It would be himself. 
If I earnestly sought my hubby, the greatest reward would be to find him and have him."

Well, Pastor John {and whole counsel of God's Word}, I do believe you are right. The reward of earnestly seeking God is Himself. Anything else will never be as satisfying.