How Long Is Never?

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22–23

Oh, how often do I need to remind myself that God’s mercies never come to an end. There is a big word in that sentence, never. It’s not that his mercies are very numerous and will last a really long time. No. They never come to an end. His steadfast love never ceases.

We have a hard time truly comprehending the extent of that statement. You see, man is like grass, we flourish for but a moment, maybe 70 or 80 years if we’re lucky. But eventually we all succumb to the breath of the Lord. That is, we all wither and fade, and our place knows us no more. Our finite minds can not fully grasp the truth of the infinite, never.

So today, even though the truth of it is beyond my comprehension, I’ll rest in the fact that tomorrow, his steadfast love will be available to me. I’ll press on in my fight against sin in my life knowing that I may fall, nevertheless, his mercies never end.

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We Are the Reason….. Really?

Now if that doesn’t get you feeling all warm and fuzzy this morning, meh, I don’t know what will. I almost sprouted a goose-bump. Apparently, this Christmas morning we can rejoice, for “we are the reason”! I don’t know about you, but to me, I find that just a bit self-centered. It really does beg a question…

Why did Jesus die for you, Christian? Is it because you were worth dying for? Is it a fact that Jesus dying on a cross for your sins declares your value to God? As we think about these questions, let’s ponder what prompts them. Sometimes, and probably with good intentions, it is asserted to congregations across America that they should not fret because when Jesus died on the cross it was saying that they were worth that much to God, in fact, that we were the reason. They are told that their value to God is so much that he would send his only son to die for there sins, so that they could have a personal relationship with him, should they decide to do so. It sounds good, and it’s a real self-esteem booster. I mean think about it, the Creator of the world thinks I’m to-die-for! But do we attend church to have our self-worth increased? Didn’t a certain character of the scriptures utter the words “he must increase, but I must decrease”? This is what I want to explore in this post.

As a side note before we dig into the word: I am not posting this to destroy your self esteem. My goal is for you to see Christ as your supreme treasure and worth, laying down his life for his sheep, not necessarily because of the worth of the sheep, but for spread of his Glory. Besides, I don’t think you should be esteeming yourself in the first place. Esteem that which is esteem-able, God, then be in awe of His great love for us.

  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to make God an idolater. This may hit as strong, offensive words, and they should, for it is an utterly heinous offense to suggest that a sinner could be of equal or more value than the son of God. If Jesus is God (John 1:1, Col 2:9), and God is supremely glorious, then to assign His worth beneath, or less than anyone else’s is idolatry, even for God himself. God seeks his own glory above everything else, for this is the most loving thing he can do for his beloved creatures. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, puts it like this, “He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside Himself. He would commit idolatry.” God cannot assign his worth and his glory to something less than himself. It would make his word untrue. “I am the Lord; that is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8) “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Ephesians 1:5-6 clearly states that we are saved according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which brings me to my next point.
  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to rob the Gospel of any and all grace. The bible makes it clear from cover to cover that we are wretched sinners and that it is by grace we have been saved. Isn’t saying that we were worth dying for the same as saying that we deserved salvation. Romans 5 tells us that we were still sinners when Christ died for us, while we were enemies of God. We know that sinners deserve wrath, for we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. There was nothing lovely in us, yet he looked upon our pitiful state, had mercy on us, and overcame our sinful rebellion and resistance, granting us repentance from our sinful inclinations! Praise be to the Holy One of Israel! To say that we were worth it is to say that it was owed to us, and God Almighty is in debt to no one.
  • There is no scriptural basis for making such a statement. None. There are plenty of scriptures that show us that God loves us (Eph. 2:4, Eph. 5:2, Psalm 36:7, Titus 3:4), has mercy on us (Eph. 2:4, Psalm 23:6, Mat. 9:13, 1 Pet. 1:3), and cares for us (Zech. 10:3, Psalm 8:4, 1 Pet. 5:7). I haven’t seen a single scripture that suggests that we deserve any of it.

Don’t take me wrong in all of this, what I’m telling you is not bad news. It is amazingly GOOD NEWS! God saves wretched, undeserving enemies of God: because he wants too! In fact, He has designed it such that this is the way He will receive praise for all eternity. This is jaw-dropping good news! The cross was the ransom paid for your life, not because your life was worth it, but for his glory, according to his purpose, to praise of his glorious grace, and for your joy! We have a reason to rejoice, and that reason is Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Born Again Hypocrite

So there are a few of you out there who know me… well, knew me. I’m sure most of you haven’t seen me in at least a couple years, but you have seen my posts on Facebook or Myspace. I’m pretty sure that at least once you’ve wondered, “What is he talking about?!!” or, “Who is this?” So it’s obvious that I’m not the same person that you partied with, smoked some-n with, or watched get arrested. So who is this new me, and where did the old me go? Well I can tell you first off that the old me is dead, buried and gone, never to return again. The things that have occurred in my life in recent years have been nothing short of miraculous. In a very short span of only five years I have gone from broke, drunk every night, on probation, job-hopping, “self-medicating”, getting arrested, fighting with anyone who wanted to, and being a not-very-nice boyfriend, to being free-er than I’ve ever been, [happily] married with two wonderful boys, a wonderful career in the palm of my hands, and the son of a King.

It could almost seem like an overnight transition, if not for the many times I fell flat on my face during the transition period. I mean I’ve gotten drunk, fought with my wife, been arrested, and disgraced this King that I claim to love more times than I care to remember. With all of this, in light of this evidence you could even question if the change is genuine, and you would be right to do so. I can tell you this though, the change in me is more genuine than the most passionate animal lover you know. I am not the same person, and I am never going back. The crazy part is this, I could go back, in an instant, if not for the grace of God. It’s by this same grace, this grace that keeps me suspended in a constant state of joy, longing to separate myself from sin to the nth degree, that has saved me in the first place. If not for this grace I would be in the same wretched and vile state I was in before I ever realized Jesus as my savior.

These failures that I speak about, they have caused those around me, people I love, to question the sincerity of my commitment to this Christian life. They have even caused some in my circle to call me the same name that every Christian dreads to be called, a hypocrite. But I stand guilty of the accusation. I was a hypocrite, and still am in some ways, I must confess. I still make mistakes. I still let myself down. I still let my loved ones down, but thank God that I can never let Him down… because I never held Him up. Just as I stand here guilty of the accusation of being a hypocrite, which I may as well be a murderer because by my actions I may have killed who someone was going to be-and the bible says that if you break one law, you’ve broken them all, but just as I’m guilty of that, I stand with a conscience free of guilt, knowing that the price for my sins has been paid. I will not and can not be held accountable in the High Court for my actions. It is for this reason that my mind is overwhelmed daily, and at the same time relieved. Overwhelmed because I know that if for one second God were to remove His hand of grace from my life, I would again return to my foolish ways, just as a dog will always return to lick up its own vomit. Relieved because I know without an iota of doubt that my Father has me securely in His hands, and there is nothing that can separate me from the love that Christ has for me. In the words of Marvin Gaye, “How sweet it is, to be loved by YOU!”

Day 1

These are my thoughts on the first day I’ve ever willingly abstained from smoking. Wow, I never thought this day would be possible. I started playing around with cigarettes when I was about eleven, a full-blown smoker by the time I was thirteen. At fifteen it was no longer a secret, not even to my parents. They certainly didn’t approve of it, but nonetheless, I suppose there wasn’t much that they could do, aside from locking me up 24/7. It’s a shame I wasn’t more obedient though, it would have saved me fifteen years of slavery.

Slavery is what I call it, because slavery it was. My entire day, life, revolved around when I could burn another one. If I’d be riding in a vehicle, and I would go to light up but couldn’t find my lighter, I would start to tweak, and you better believe that a pit stop was soon to come. It really was a sad sight to see, ask my wife. My addiction to nicotine has stolen literally years from my life, and I’m not even talking about the negative health effects that smoking has on your body. I’m speaking of the vast amount of time wasted, utterly wasted, five minutes at a time, as I puffed through another one.

Amazing Saving Grace

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” These words come natural to the lips of most people, because they remember the song. Sometimes though, I wonder if most people even realize the beauty of the truth that they are proclaiming. Recently, I was at the funeral of a friend of mine. As we were asked to rise and sing this song I looked around the room and saw that most of the people in attendance were following along. It was almost as though their mouths were moving, but the truth of the words wasn’t connecting. I say this because for me, every time I sing that song, I can’t help but smile. My heart cries out for joy when I hear those lyrics.

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