Thursday, January 26, 2012

Me Me, all Me

It is so funny, how things come together. I logged on to check my blogger....really I logged on to check if anyone had commented on what I thought was a great recent blog...what a sinner I am man...then I came across this blog that I subscribe to...hope it blesses you (convicts) the way it did me...

I don't even know this guy and yet, most of what he discusses has thus far been right at me in the current season I am in and what God has been showing me. All credit goes to Brian Mayfield and his blog "Bring the Kingdom"

This past Sunday, preaching through Revelation 3, the issue of Repentance was front and center. The churches in Sardis and Laodicea were both in desperate need of waking up to their true condition and turning back to God. As a pastor, if Im' being honest, repentance is a whole lot easier to preach than it is to practice.

The day before, I had just dug in to J.D. Greear's new book, "Gospel". It only took a few pages for me to know that these were words my soul needed to hear at this crossroad in my life. But somewhere near the end of Chapter 2 a painful realization began to take place. Greear shared that he had begun to investigate what recurring sins were present in his life. He started down his list: worry, anger, overworking & neglecting his family, depression, lying.... His list was very troubling to me. Not because of judgment. But because of identification. His list was my list. And that stung. But then we moved from the sting to the blow to the head (or maybe I should say, the heart). Greear began to humbly confess that, while these sins are exactly that - SIN - there was a deeper root to them. They were just symptoms of a much greater, deeper-rooted corruption. All these recurring rebellions were simply the ripple effect and byproduct of his need for people's approval. Listen to what he says:

"My problem is that my heart so craves the approval of others that these sins come as instinctively to me as breathing! I delight more in the approval of others than I do in the approval of God. I am an idolater. That is my depravity."

I sat there in my chair in the corner of my bedroom, broken. Exposed. Humiliated. And at the same time, somehow beautifully and wonderfully relieved! How could I not have seen this? How could it not have been crystal clear? I had spent so much time and energy trying to trim off the branches and snip the limbs of a diseased, dying tree rather than digging down to the root of it all, pulling it up, and carrying that filth out of my yard. No more! I'm not called to live this way. And neither are you. And if the tree keeps showing signs of rot, decay, or death, it might be time to check the roots.

I am so grateful for my church family. As I stood there this past Sunday, having to confess that the underlying root of most of the sin in my life is "the need for your approval and admiration", never did I feel condemned or isolated. I felt loved. Forgiven. Hopeful. Relishing the truth that "the Gospel shows me a God who is better than the approval of others and a God more valuable than their praise. The Gospel shows me that God's presence and approval are the greatest treasure in the universe." (Greear) I don't need their approval. Or yours. And my church family, they don't need mine. We are all in desperate need of God's approval. And in Christ Jesus, I am found righteous, purified, and redeemed. Approved! Thank You, Jesus!

Have you taken time to dig below the surface of your "sins"?
Is confession and repentance a regular part of your life and walk with Christ?

"God made him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sums up me...

Below is a prayer from Scotty Smith, a pastor who frequently writes prayers and sends them out as emails. The man is brutally honest with himself and God and this is something I love about him because it shows me how I have to be. I loved this prayer in specific because it speaks to me so much of that struggle to perform, something I have done my whole life.

Growing up always under the gun to get the best grades and what have you, this built in me over time a need to be something. Living my life as though I had something to prove to others by way of whatever I was doing, this over time made me a prideful person who lived for the approval of others. This is something God has been showing me a lot about myself. So much so, how this same mindset has come out in my relationship with God, with others, with my fiance and at work. This does so much in me and as a result I am prone to do what is expected rather than do what flows from my heart. This is an issue because as long as I perform, my heart will go unchanged, but when I see what is expected, see that my heart doesn't measure up, I am then ready for the REAL change that can only be brought about by God and His Spirit...

Any way...enough about me (no seriously, enough...this may seem as humility, but this too can also be a sense of pride, after all, look at how "honest and humiliating" I am being...Yeah God has shown me a lot...a lot more than I wanted to see)

Here is the prayer he wrote yesterday... enjoy!

A Prayer for Recovering Performers and Those with Residual Legalism

I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor. 9:23-27

Dear Jesus, how I praise you for showing me the difference between doing all things for the sake of the gospel, and doing all things just to ease my guilt and fuel my pride. The difference is enormous.

For too long I believed that by my doing I could intensify your loving; that by my obedience I could earn more of your blessings; that by my good works I could deserve less hard things in life. The recovering performer and residual legalist in me still defaults to that foolish way of thinking, so I praise you for the ongoing teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. I praise you for showing me more about living in line with the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:14). I praise you for all the freedoms you have won for us, including the freedom to obey you from our hearts.

Thank you for setting us free from a wage-earning view of salvation and obedience. We run for a crown; we don’t work for a paycheck, and, ultimately, every crown will be laid at your feet, Jesus, for you have earned our salvation for us; you deserve every crown. It’s what you have already done for us that enables us to serve you as a beloved Bride, not a fearful slave. Though our obedience demonstrates our love for you (John 14:15), it merits absolutely nothing—zilch, nada, zero.

Thank you for setting us free from beating ourselves up out of shame, or bloating ourselves up out of pride. We now train ourselves for godliness, not acceptance. As we bring our appetites and bodies in submission to the gospel (1Tim. 4:7-8), you free us for fruitful discipleship. Forgive us when we are more disciplined out of vanity than out of a commitment to grow as your disciples.

Thank you for setting us free running aimlessly and beating the air. We now live in a story of redemption and restoration. All of history is bound up with your commitment to redeem your people from the nations and to make all things new. We praise you for rescuing us from little narratives of self-fulfillment for a life of kingdom advancement. We praise you for the promise of enough grace for the whole race.

Jesus, you won the ultimate prize for us by your life of perfect obedience—even obedience to death upon the cross (Phil. 2:1-11). Only this gospel—this good news qualifies us to “share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). We do not fear losing our salvation, but do let us grieve the ways we misrepresent you and “fritter away” this one short life you’ve given us. Show us how to do all things for the sake of the gospel, by the grace and truth of the gospel, for the ultimate goal of the gospel—your glory. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The me

In my attempt to be up to date with all this GOP and election what not, today I decided to dedicate some time to listening to debates on my headphones at work and what I heard was anything but reassuring not to mention the countless number of blogs and articles and everything in between out there today make it oh so difficult to figure this all out.

I have to stop here for a second and say this much. Years ago, I had a blog and on it was every kind of thing I had an issue with, from democrats to religions, to schools, you name it, it was there. My problem then was that my expression of these differences was one of superiority, shortly put, I was a pharisee...sadly, to this day I still suffer from Pharisaical behavior.

Back to the first paragraph, the beauty of it all is that we aren't called to figure it all out. We are simply called to have faith. This is something Martin Luther has driven home to me time and again and the more I read Galatians, the more I read of how important it is for us to drop the law and put on grace or put on Christ (Gal 3:27).

So much of us today has this deep rooted desire to want to be someone. I got a text from an old friend today that said plainly, "Chris my problem, our problem, is that we resist sin in the wrong frame of mind. We resist because we want to be good Christians, not because we love Jesus." Brutal statement in my mind and heart. It tore me down to my very core and showed me something about myself I wish I hadn't seen, I am the same way.

I am the same way because I too often fight for the right thing or right path more so because of my love for being right and my love for being good than I do for my love for Jesus. It is with this heart that I ought to approach things. Because coming to this conclusion, and it is a mean one, brings to a place of a new understanding of our problem.

Our problem is not the man in charge of our country, our problem is not some group who remains quiet, our problem is not some group who has distorted facts, our problem is not the lack of truth these days. If we are ever going to make progress, if we are ever going to get going in the direction we need to head in, we must identify our problem and call it what it really is. Again this goes back to what I said yesterday, we have a problem with definitions. What I call anxiety, cultural upbringing, what makes me feel good, what I say is "just how I am", what I call frustration, what I call intelligence, God calls sin.

Our problem is sin. We keep looking to these men on TV expecting picture perfect answers to flow from their mouths. The truth is, they, like me and you, are sinners. Our problem is sin, it has always been our problem and will always be a problem, but it doesn't have to control you. This is the beauty of the gospel and it is this that we need to drive home to ourselves. We need to begin identifying our issues for what they are, our issue is sin, our solution is Christ and we have been called to daily, DAILY, put on Christ (Gal 3:27). We have been called to daily deny ourselves.

So while the elections are going on, and people continue becoming more and more confused by the day on who is right and who is wrong, you, me, us, we need to put on Christ. We need to deal with our problem. And the best way to deal with it is to let it go and leave it at the foot of the only place where all of us can stand...the cross...

I'm not saying forget the elections, no. They are important and if you can vote, you should exercise the God-given freedom you possess. However, once you vote, the rest is up to God, it isn't my story, it is His, and however He see's fit to let it continue, end, or start again so be it. I am just thankful He has let me catch glimpses of it and only begin to understand it, let alone be a part of it.

So yes, research, read up and pray, then vote. Don't ever forget the problem, the problem is you, it is me, it is sin, and what we need is a Savior.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


It has been a while since I last posted and I have to say, while I did enjoy the blogging, taking a break from it to reflect has been awesome, not to mention God has showed me a lot more about myself than I really wanted to see, but more on that in another post...what I want to share with you I heard in a Timothy Keller teaching this afternoon.

It strikes home for me for multiple reasons, one of which is an idea I have been tossing around for a while now. These days our society is the way it is because of how it defines things and today I heard an example of how poorly people define a word that most often is used to describe Christians like you and me.

Ever been called "narrow-minded"? (side note, not sure if it needs a dash or not...quick Google search turned up that it does and that it can also be presented as two separate words) Well today in a teaching you should definitely listen to by Tim Keller called "God with us" he mentioned a brief little illustration that I am going to attempt to type up for you..

A lot of people have always been irritated by Christianity and its exclusivity, in its demand that you worship Christ and that you see Him as the only way to God and that you give Him all of your allegiance. See look, every other religion says that our founder is a great teacher and morality and goodness is enough. Our founder is a good teacher and if you live a good life you'll get to God. Morality and goodness is enough, morality and goodness is enough. Christianity comes along and say "No, your morality will never be good enough." The unique Son of God had to come and die for you and you have to put all of your hope and rest and trust in Him. Is that exclusivity, no! It is a different diagnosis of your problem.

For example, suppose you were sick and you have gone to see several other doctors and every one of them had said "It is not serious, plenty of rest and get some fluids and you'll be fine." Now what if I am a doctor, and I come and say to you "The other doctors are wrong. You are terminal unless you take this particular medicine." How would you respond to me? Would you say, "I don't want to deal with you because you're narrow minded. It is very narrow minded for you to believe these other doctors are wrong and your right. I don't want you to have anything to do with me because you are arrogant and narrow minded." You wouldn't say that, you know what you would say? You would say "You're either right or you're wrong, but you're not narrow minded, I need to find out if you're right!" I mean, what is narrow minded if you say that the other doctors are wrong and you will not be saved unless you take this medicine. I may be mistaken or I may be saving your life, but I am not narrow minded. I may be crazy, I may be a liar, or I may be right. It has nothing to do with narrowness.

Teaching morality and goodness is enough, Christianity says, "No, your situation is too dire. Haven't you been living long enough to see that your efforts to be moral and good, to live up to standards hasn't been good enough." Aren't you ready to believe what Christianity has said all along and that is that the medicine you need is a much more radical thing. You don't just need teaching, you don't just need a teacher. You need the Son of God to come and die for and to come into your life with His power and therefore you have to give your complete and total allegiance to Him.

This whole thing reminded me oh so much of Gal 3:19-29...

That is all I have for now...sorry for the drought of posts, however, it was something I had to do.

Down but never out,

- Chris

Gal 3:26-27