Last week, I finally did it. I broke the Facebook tether. I found no further use for it personally. Over this past year of elections, Supreme Court rulings, and social hot button issues, it had become nothing but an electronic cesspool that constantly filled my mind with garbage. Continue reading →
Have you ever thought about the word “Amen”?
We use it at the end of virtually every prayer. Depending upon one’s denomination, you may hear this word shouted from the pews as the pastor preaches from the Word. Sometimes, it’s used casually among friends or co-workers…as in “Amen, to that brother/sister.” Continue reading →
Today, I began reading the first part of the book of Daniel, partly because I have been listening to different sermons the past week, and he keeps popping up throughout them. I figured that if God kept putting him as a common theme so many times in rapid succession, then maybe there was something specific that I needed to hear again. I went into this with the intent of reading very slowly to allow God to minister to me. The more I thought about what I had read, the more my heart was broken for God and the more I wanted to be like this great prophet. I only made it through the first six chapters before I had to stop to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the Word that I had read. My thoughts on what I read are what follows. Continue reading →
With all that has been going on for the past month, I am finally at a point where I can start writing again…I think…I hope. Actually I tried to start this blog a couple of nights ago on the app only to find it frustrating. I am sure that is an excellent way to write short notes or to make minor edits to existing blogs. While I can text moderately fast, it is nowhere near my typing speed. A gorilla texting with his toes seems faster than I am sometimes, so I just held off until I could get to a real PC, which is fine because it gave me time to really think about what I wanted to write.
Moving on… Continue reading →
We’ve all heard someone speak on forgiveness at some point in our lives. For Christians, I would submit that it is statistically impossible not to have heard something on this subject. If you read scripture at all (and you should every single day), you’ll find it all throughout Jesus’ ministry as well as the rest of the New Testament. Even the Old Testament gives many examples of forgiveness in some form or another. It is a commandment that we are given by Jesus Himself.
So I ask you, then, how many times have you heard someone say, “I will forgive, but I won’t forget”? How many times have you and I failed in this area? Why is it that this seemingly simple instruction proves to be one of the biggest hurdles that we often face? How does the devil manage to gain such a stronghold in our lives through unforgiveness? Continue reading →
For some time, I have been trying to figure out how God wanted to use this blog. I’ve been trying to answer several questions. Who is the intended audience? What is that He wants to say and more importantly why? Does He want it written in first person voice where it is more personal, or does He see it written in objective, third-person voice? What happens if He leads other people to contribute to the blog (which honestly I hope happens as the blog expands)?
I do not want this to be a series of posts that touch on a lot of random topics. I want it to be real and alive. I want lives to be touched from reading it. It is my sincerest desire that this impacts the world. The biggest question, though, is exactly how do we do this? Continue reading →
New changes have been made to the website to fix the WordPress news feed and to streamline a few extra things. Please check it out and let us know what you think. We are always interested in hearing your suggestions about how to improve it.
Also, we have set up a new account on Twitter so be sure to check us out there too!
I am listening to Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave as I type this, so it seemed appropriate to name the blog accordingly.
All of humanity is flawed. It is a sobering reality to realize that no matter how good we try to be, that we are incapable of being good in and of ourselves. From the moment we enter into the world to the time that we exit it, we are steeped in sinful behavior, thoughts, and actions. Because of Adam’s sinfulness, we are all cursed with his punishment.
I hate that no matter how much I desire to walk through any given day without messing up, I know before I even get out of bed that it is an inevitable fact that I will mess up before the day is through. It is not like I get up any given morning and say, “Hey, I think I will go out of my way to disappoint Jesus.” That happens on its own from the muscle memory that is instilled in us from birth. In a lot of ways it is not fair that we all must suffer the same consequences because of someone who lived more than 6,000 years ago. I understand…I think…why God had to design it this way after the fall of mankind. That does not mean I like it any better, though.
Scripture tells us that if we know to do something and do not do it, to us it is sin. Sometimes that happens as a result of an emotional response to a situation that we may be facing. Sometimes we goof up unintentionally. Sometimes we just rebel against God and do our own “thing” just because we “can”. We just get stubborn, put the focus on ourselves, and go against God’s commandments. I wish I had a better reason other than we just get spiritually stupid sometimes and act this way. There is no other explanation other than we just do it. It is not dissimilar to a parent telling a child not to do something only to have the child do exactly what they were told not to do a few moments later. We, as God’s children, do the same thing.
I remember a few years ago, I awakened one morning with my heart heavy because I had done something that I knew was contrary to what I was supposed to do. I did it out of just plain rebellion just because I “could.” I do not remember the particulars of exactly what I had done. I remember more of how I felt that morning. I had asked God for forgiveness almost immediately upon being convicted by the Holy Spirit, but for some reason I could not shake the feeling of shame and inadequacy.
On this particular morning, I was going through my normal morning rituals getting ready for work with the exception that I kept asking God for forgiveness for turning my back on Him the night before. This went on for about twenty minutes until I heard the Holy Spirit…not audibly with my ears but inside my spirit and loudly at that. He said, “Will you please just shut UP!” That got my attention in a hurry. In the moments that followed, He spoke to my heart in a way that I have never forgotten, nor have I forgotten what He told me. Periodically, He takes me back to that exact moment and reminds me when I start going down the same pathway…though admittedly I don’t do it as much as I did when I was first learning how to walk in Christ. He told me this one thing that set me free.
He said, “Your confession to your sin is not when I found out about it. You are doing exactly what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for…their vain repetitions. The day you made Me Lord of your life, all of your sins…past, present, and future…were covered under the blood.” Without missing a beat, I halfheartedly threw back to God, “oh yeah, what about 1 John 1:9 about confessing our sins where you are faithful to forgive them?” And true to form, God had a response faster than I did, and it was in this answer that I found the freedom. He said, “Confession for the Christian is not for the covering of sin but for restoration of fellowship with Me.” That was the first time I had ever thought of redemption that way.
Hebrews 5 talks about sin being covered once under the blood. That doesn’t mean we do not sin afterwards…it means that the stain that sin leaves is gone. The gap between God and us is bridged by the cross permanently. Otherwise, we would be doomed because it would be impossible for us to operate at a standard high enough to meet God’s standards, and we would be in a constant state of flux of saved/not-saved. In other words, it would be dependent upon us for our salvation.
Yet Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we cannot do anything of ourselves other than exercising faith for salvation. Grace is God’s answer to our sin, and it is given despite our short comings. In other words, God’s love is capable of transcending who we are…even without Christ…to see us for who we can become through Him. We ourselves are incapable of doing anything, but God does it for us. Mercy is when we are deserved punishment and given a reprieve for no other reason other than the one giving the mercy wanted to!
Therefore, going back to that day many years ago, the Holy Spirit was telling me that on whatever day we ask Jesus to come into our lives…the day we confess our sins…the day that we ask for His covering of those sins…all sin is covered. It would have to be. Otherwise Psalm 103:12 would not be true. That verse says that He throws our sins as far as the East is from the West…He remembers them no more.
That does not mean that we do not break fellowship with Christ when we sin. In fact, we break His heart when we turn our backs on Him. I think it is even more so because we know better. Yet at the same time, the entire process of salvation is predicated on the knowledge that we get saved despite ourselves and despite the fact that we will still rebel against God at a future point. The concept of salvation, then, is that grace still abounds regardless. Colossians 1:21-22 says that we are “holy, unblamable, and without reproof” in His eyes. That is Psalm 103:12 in action.
So why, then, do we feel so much pain and feelings of inadequacy…of shame and guilt when we mess up, even after we ask for forgiveness for what we said or did? I think that is from a two-fold process that also epitomizes our humanity and dependence upon God. On one hand, if we genuinely are seeking to please God, the moment that His Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of our offense, it sets off a chain reaction within our spirits, and we cry out to our Father. We hurt Him, and knowing that we hurt Him in turn hurts us. So there is a pain deep inside as we seek to reconcile, just as we would with a friend or loved one that we cared about very much.
On the other hand, I also think that the devil tries to use our mistakes as a tool against us, whereby he constantly assaults our mental capacity with shame and regret. He tries to make us feel inferior, insignificant, and inadequate of God’s presence whatever we did or said. In other words, it is an attempt to oppress us and blind us…to distract us from the Truth…to keep us from being effective in our daily walks with Christ. It makes sense because if he can get us focused more on the problem rather than the solution, it keeps us from fulfilling our purpose to its fullest.
But scripture says that Jesus is our Advocate who is ever interceding on our behalf. That means that in the courtroom of God, whenever the devil brings a railing accusation against us or says “Look at what he/she did or said” that Jesus simply says to the Father, “No worries…they are covered under the blood.”
Now, this does not give us license to freely commit the same sin repeatedly saying that it’s covered. Yes it is covered, but God also expects us to repent, to turn from it, and to be bigger than what we think we can be. Still, we mess up, and often we do repeat the same mistakes…sometimes intentionally…and they are still covered under the blood. But when we do, it takes away the ability for the Holy Spirit to operate at His fullest in our lives until we do confess and turn.
Too many Christians…I myself included at times…have been entrapped with the fallacy that we can do just whatever we want, and that just is not true. We are redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, and we are counted as His children for which there is nothing we can do to change that once it happens. That means, though, that we have a duty to daily offer ourselves as a living sacrifice and deny ourselves to take up our cross to follow Him.
Will we mess up along the way? Yes. Will we mess up intentionally, maybe even repeatedly at times? Of course we will. However, we are the Redeemed because Jesus said so. He paid for you with His blood, and you were bought at a very high price. When you mess up, then, do not listen to the assaults of the devil who may try to convince you that you have messed up beyond His ability to fix it. Your sin is not any of the devil’s business because it is covered under the Cross.
When you mess up, don’t run from God…run to Him. Embrace the fact that your sins are completely covered, that He remembers them no more, and that you are counted holy in His sight because of it. You are simply restoring your fellowship with Him so that He can manifest Himself to His fullest in your life.
That will liberate you just as it did me those years ago.
You are redeemed. I am redeemed. Anyone who has ever asked Jesus to cover their sins is redeemed. You are forgiven.
Now go act like it!
It has been several months since I have been able to write anything here. A lot has been going on in my life personally, and I have had my attention drawn elsewhere. I have been eager to get back to where I could write, and I finally feel that I have arrived to that point now. So I will be posting blogs again. It is my hope to get several posted in short succession to sort of catch up on the months I have been away. I am excited to be writing again and look forward to sharing more with you as God leads. Thank you for your patience. May God bless you abundantly in every way.
Today, I was doing a little yard work early in the morning. In the distance I could hear one of the most unusual sounds I imagine one can hear. It was the sound of the thirteen year locust. They had been singing their mating calls for a couple of weeks already, but this morning the cacophony sounded in stark contrast to an otherwise still, quiet morning.
If you have never heard these creatures, from a distance their voices sound a little like the sounds of the Martian ships from the 1953 movie classic, The War of the Worlds. It has an alien sound, and a friend of mine who had never heard them before actually referred to them in that context as if we were being invaded by an unknown species. It is a high pitch “warble” that undulates in a peculiar frequency. Perhaps these creatures are what inspired the Foley artists on that now infamous movie. The alien sound contrasts significantly against how they sound up close. It is a constant din that sounds like the whirling of a weed eater.
I’ve done the calculations. If someone lived to be 120, they will have only heard this sound thirteen times (fourteen if they heard it in the first three years of their lives). The locusts’ song does not last very long either…perhaps a month or so at most. In a couple of weeks, they will die off, not to be heard from for another thirteen years.
Today, I was perusing vintage photos on Pinterest and stumbled onto one that was taken in July, 1975. It was a photo capturing what would be the final moments of life for a female in her mid-20’s after a young toddler and she fell when a fire escape collapsed while they were waiting to be rescued from an apartment fire. The child survived the fall, but she did not. Continue reading →
Recently I wrote to a dear, close friend of mine that I have been frustrated spiritually along many lines. I’ve been frustrated with myself whether I have been hearing from God correctly. If so, then why isn’t He moving as quickly as I want Him to? Is He actually moving in the first place, or am I just moving along in life just spinning my spiritual wheels, so to speak? If I am not hearing Him correctly, then where am I missing Him? Is it in everything that I believe I have heard Him in or is it in just certain things? Where is the delineation, and how do I find it? If I don’t know where it is broken…where I am and am not hearing Him, then how do I know how and when to act in the first place? How do I know when and where to move or to apply my faith? Can I apply faith correctly in the first place if I don’t know where to apply it? I mean certainly it seems to be a futile effort to put faith into something that isn’t from God in the first place.
But how do we as Christians know where that line is? It’s not like I suddenly “hear” something out of the blue in my spirit and randomly attribute it to God. I pray…hard and often for long periods of time. I hear in my spirit…I believe it…especially at the time I’m hearing it. Yet so many times, what I thought I heard never comes to pass. Then when one thing doesn’t, it sort of spirals out of control inside of me, and I begin to question whether I’ve heard from Him at all, and it inadvertently paralyzes me spiritually.
What’s even more frustrating is the fact that with everything in me I desire to hear from God on the most intimate of levels. My testimony includes a huge period of my life where I not only strayed away from God but completely all but abandoned Him. It was years later, and only by the grace of God, that I…the modern day prodigal son…finally realized what a spiritual cesspool I was wallowing in and turned back toward God. That process also took years, and I would love to say that it was not without missteps or utter rebellion as my sinful nature time and time again attempted to mimic the behavior of the world. I would love to say that in the instance that I began turning my spiritual compass toward Christ again that it always pointed me in the right direction. None of that is true. I am human just like everyone else, and I have my own faults, flaws, and failures that have proven as stumbling blocks in my journey with Christ. I think that everyone who is a Christian can relate to this.
God gave me an idea for a blog that came out of a bible study that I did some time ago. It comes from Exodus 20:1-17: Continue reading →
The Latin phrase carpe diem means “seize the day”, and many people use it in reference to living life to its fullest now rather than continually looking for a better day in the future. However, my grandfather, who was a minister, once made an astute observation about this phrase. He said that instead of seizing the day, we needed to seize the moment…the instance that is immediately in front of us. There is nothing guaranteed for any given day, so “seizing it” is presumptuous. But, we can seize each moment of life that God gives us, minute by minute! Continue reading →
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