Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kill me, now

I've got a lot going on tonight.  I've been blown away  lately by God's grace and mercy.  I got involved in a little Free Will v. Predestination discussion a few days ago and I think God's used it to point over and over again to his Grace.  He's reminded me of how he pursued me, saved me, redeemed and justified me.  Today I read the first several chapters of John's Gospel, it uses the word all about four times in the first few verses.  It also uses the phrase "grace upon grace".  I'm pretty sure God isn't doing this to remind assure me I'm right in my defense of free will, I'm sure it's the opposite.  My defense of free causing me to focus on grace.  I'm done trying to defend a position, I just keep hearing God say, "I love you.  Look what I did for you.  Look at the lengths I went to just to make you mine.  I bring light and hope and rest".

I think I might be getting lonely, spiritually lonely.  It's not that I work a weird shift now and don't get to see the people I love as often as I used to, it's not missing church or conversation or community - I don't think.  I've read and thought a lot about some of the people in the Bible that went through times of isolation to prepare them for the work they had been called to do.  I don't think flying is anything like preparing the way for Jesus, I just think this may be a time that God is using to deal with me on a more personal level.  I want it, but it scares the shit out of me.  I have no more defenses - the walls have come down.  I feel naked in my depravity before a holy and righteous God.  I'm exposed, suddenly and completely aware of all I am - all I'm not.    

In my my last blog I posted a quote from Matt Chandler about how God seeks to destroy anything in us that isn't of him.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about it - to stop wanting it.  I heard this Caedmon's call song in the car on the way home tonight and I again found myself exposed - in true broken worship of the God who redeemed me.
Of all the duties I have done.  I quit the hopes I held before. Now, for the loss I bear his name, What was my gain I count my loss.  My former pride I call my shame, and nail my glory to His cross.  Yes, and I must, I will esteem all things but loss for Jesus' sake.  O may my soul be found in Him.  No more my God, I boast no more. 
All I've done and hoped and gained, I count as loss for Jesus sake.  I want nothing more than to kill every part of me that isn't totally of and consumed and in service to Him.  No more my God, I boast - I lie - I lust - I covet - I fail - I rebel - I resist no more.  I want it done, and I want it done now.  I'm tired and I don't think I can carry it any longer.  In moments like these I'm reminded of the last words of our Savior uttered under the full burden of our sin, "It is finished".  
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart.
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I've found.
There is rest.  The process, for me, is difficult and often I resist it with all that I have left, but I find the more of me that is destroyed the more alive I feel.  I have to decrease so that he can increase.  Without his great mercy there is only death and guilt and shame.  In his grace there is light and hope and rest.  And I weep for the praise of the mercy I've found.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Abounding Grace

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For some time now this has been my favorite passage in all of scripture. Not just because verse 18 makes a pretty decent argument for free will, but because it (v18) provides hope and because 20 and 21 are my story. During the darkest times in my life I've found God right there with me. I have run from his love and he has pursued me. I often wondered how it was that the dirtier I got the closer he seemed to get. It seemed the faster I ran from him the more fervently he pursued me. In the face of an angry and deliberate rebellion God showed only mercy and love. Why was that my experience? Because that's how it works. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

I've been persuaded lately to read some Matt Chandler. He's no Isaiah, but he's not bad. He grabbed hold of every part of me and has absolutely ruined me for anything but Him. The process of sanctification has been and still is quite often a very difficult one. No one told me (or maybe they did) that Jesus wanted my heart. I thought there was going to be some behavior modification and some new friends but I didn’t understand how aggressively, ruthlessly and passionately He was going to search and destroy in me anything that wasn’t of Him. Nor did I understand how dark my heart truly was and how out of fear, pride and arrogance I would argue, complain and resist almost every advance of the Holy Spirit to reconcile every part of my being into holiness.I'm convinced this is what has been going on in my life. The process for me, up until now, has been quite painful. I have come to understand just how dark my heart is, and I think through my pain and anger god exposed those things in me that needed killing. I have complained and resisted most of what he has done, but his grace is ruthless and his blood is powerful. I don't think I've fully surrendered my heart to him (I'm sure I'll ever be able to) but I know now that he won't take anything less. I know that there is little I can do to stop it now. It's still painful at times, but I'm confident in his grace, I know I can't out sin him. Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So you know

It occurs to me tonight that I haven't talked much about what I believe when it comes to specific ideals.  I'm not going to take a long time and get into detailed arguments about why I think the way I do, I'm just going to lay it out there so you know the lens I'm looking (and writing) through. 

I believe the Bible is the perfect, inerrant word of God.  Perfectly preserved over two thousand years and given to us exactly as God intended us to have it.  I believe it to be the first and last word in all things.  

I believe Jesus was and is the son of God, the messiah.  I believe he is exactly who and what he claims to be.  I believe he walked this earth as God and yet was completely man.  I believe he went to the cross willingly and in perfect submission to will of the Father out of an unstoppable love for all of man.  I believe in dying he killed our sin and in resurrecting he defeated death.  I believe a faith in him is the only way to heaven.  

I'm not sure what the technical terminology for it is, but I believe it's the Holy Spirit working in you that first draws you to God, I believe it's God revelation of himself to you that allows you to make the first step towards him.  I believe in that first step you are saved and the Holy Spirit is with you.  I believe it happens at the same time, I believe that because it seems to me that without the Holy Spirit you could never find the strength to take the second step.  

While I believe it takes a move of God to draw us to him, I also believe we have it in us to deny him.  I think we were chosen in our creation and I believe Christ went to the cross for all of us, I believe God meant it when he said it wasn't his will that any should perish. I haven't read a bunch of fancy books on the topic, but I have read the Bible - all of it.  I have a hard time understanding how it is that God knew who would reject him and still saw fit to create them.  I don't know how you can say he gives everybody a chance if he already knows who won't take it, but I accept that the finite can never understand the infinite.  Nothing I've read in the Bible points to a God who creates a person destined to hell.  I believe that God takes his glory very seriously and I believe he is going to do the thing that glorifies him the most - I believe allowing his creation the freedom to deny him brings him glory when they freely choose him.  I have done my best to walk with God for the better part of 21 years, in that time I have lived the Christian life.  It's been real and dirty and difficult  - and the most joyfully freeing experience I can imagine.  I have hurt and ran and rebelled and God has always been in pursuit of my heart.  God has caught me - captured me.  He has done that because he has never forsaken me.  How can I claim that promise for myself and believe it isn't for everyone?  The Bible says whosoever believes - that includes you.  I believe it to be all inclusive.

I guess I'm technically an eternal security guy.  I've always believed that there is nothing you can do loose your salvation.  However, the more I see of the world and the more I think about the way salvation works, the more I believe you can willingly surrender your salvation.  The Bible talks about people trading truth for lies, the only way to trade the truth is to know it.  It seems to me that if you come to a point you can deny God then you've traded the truth you once accepted for lies, and in that case I think it may be possible to forfeit the salvation that truth provides.

I believe God is just and righteous and holy.  I believe he is love and mercy and grace.  I believe he is sovereign and powerful and tender.  He is all things good.  I believe that we, all of us, are his children created by him to spend eternity with him.  I believe sin is powerful and Satan is real.  I believe Jesus is victorious and death and Satan have been defeated.  I believe there is life and freedom in total surrender to the God who rescued us.  I believe heaven is a real, psychical place. I know that, if we allow it, the cross is powerful and grace sufficient enough to overcome all that binds us and see us safely home.   

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I've been thinking a lot lately about my first flight in real instrument conditions.  It was a really weird experience for me.  It was about learning to unlearn what I'd spent a lifetime learning.  If that makes sense.  The problem with flying in instrument conditions is you have no visual reference points and your body tells you all sorts of crazy stuff.  It becomes difficult to tell which way is up.  I found myself flying in tight banks with the nose down without even knowing it.  You really should be able to feel something like that.  It's almost like your body has so little to go on that it makes up things that aren't real.  I found myself sort of creating horizons to fly at.  I don't care how good you are, there is no way to fly in those conditions without your instruments.  The problem is, looking at an instrument panel for six hours is really boring.  I'd be flying along just fine and get the urge to look out the widow for a while and the next thing you know I'm spiraling toward the ground.  Someone once told me I didn't have a bad experience, I had the wrong experience.  I think that's probably a good way to describe what happens when you try to fly in the clouds based on what you feel and see.

I do the same thing with God.  I've spent a lot of time here telling you how I experience God and what that says about him.  I think most of it is probably valid, I love stories and I believe God is there in those stories - healing, teaching, comforting, revealing.  I haven't spent much time telling you what I've found the Bible to say about God.  That scares me a little.  I've been scooting along here in the clouds with only occasional glances at the instrument.  

When you're instrument flying you have to trust what they say.  You have to learn to ignore what you think you know, everything your mind tells you to be correct, and fly based on what the instruments tell you is true.  The analogy kind of breaks down here because flight instruments sometimes fail and the Bible never does, there has to be a balance.

The plane I took that flight in is pretty old and going through the clouds and rain one of the windows leaked a little and I could feel the cold and water down my arm.  It made the experience real.  It was one of the most memorable moments of my life, not because the instruments were nice to read, but because the experience was real.  At the same time, I probably would have died had the instruments not been there.  I guess I'm saying; dare to fly, live in the clouds, revel in the experience, just make sure and check the gauges.              


Thursday, April 9, 2009


The Word of the Lord came one evening
Concerning His bride's great sin
He'd send down His Word to renew her
To prepare for the Bridegroom again
The Word said repent
From seeking vain glories
While the gifts in the Lord's name you give
Repent of all the first stones cast to kill
While your own self-righteousness lives

Prepare ye the way for the Lord
Prepare ye the way for the kingdom

Caedmon's Call

I came here tonight to prepare. I haven't been to church or had any real quiet time in several weeks and I feel dirty. I feel disconnected - forgotten. I don't know what I expected to happen, I know better than to think God would be waiting here for me just because I felt like I needed him to be. I've sat here in silence for exactly 40 minutes just waiting for something to happen. I didn't know what it would take to prepare for Easter like I wanted, but I know I didn't want to walk into church on Sunday and, on the one day I'm able to be there, not be able to worship through my filth. After some time here in the dark alone I found myself singing this Caedmon's Call song. I'm again amazed by the simplicity of the way God moves. I find myself in the middle of confession and repentance like I've experienced few times in my life. I've heard repentance defined as making a change for the better in response to brokenness over one's sin.

I'm not sure what kind of change I'll be able to make. I'm sure it won't look life changing at first, but I wonder what it would look like to live without fear. Fear of what my sin makes me - fear of what my depravity drives me to become. I've found the latter to be the most crippling lately. A new found understanding and acceptance of grace helps to relieve the fear and guilt associated with past sins, but I'm starting to think a poor understanding of mercy leads me to fear what I may become. I'm probably totally off, this is feeling not scripture based, but I think it's grace that sets us free and mercy that continually revives us so we have the strength to live here.

It's funny how when one layer of weakness and fear is peeled away it often reveals another. Several Sundays ago I came face to face with God's grace. Tonight, in this place I've encountered His mercy. It's mercy that frees me to live. To fly, to love, and to laugh.

Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue.
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affection and bound my soul fast.

Without Thy sweet mercy, I could not live here.
Sin would reduce me to utter despair,
But through Thy free goodness, my spirit's revived
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart.
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I've found.

Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own
In the covenant love of Thy crucified Son.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine. -Caedmon's Call