Remembering the Gospel

Each morning that I wake up, I seem to forget the grace of God.  It’s not that I forget that Jesus did indeed come and die for sinners, but rather I forget the profound implications that Jesus’ death and resurrection have on my life.

This morning I slept through my alarm and woke up feeling guilty.  Guilty that I didn’t wake up with productive energy (which rarely happens anyhow), guilty that I didn’t wake up with a hunger for God’s word, and just plain guilty because I know that I am a broken sinner.  As I took my morning shower, the hot water hitting my back helped me to relax and breathe.   Instead of listening to my sinful nature, I was able to remember the good news of the gospel.  As the author Jerry Bridges rightfully says, “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”  Whether we wake up proud and ready to conquer the day, or poor and overwhelmed, we must be dependent upon the Savior.  It’s as simple as remembering the gospel, Christ died for sinners and this simple yet profound love still pierces our hearts today.  There’s no need to complicate it.

When Jesus died on the cross, he bore God’s wrath for the payment of our sin.  When He rose again on the third day, he gave us a receipt of this payment.  As we submit our lives to God and his Word, we will point those around us to this payment and proof of Christ’s death and resurrection.  When we feel guilty, condemned, and broken, we too must fix our eyes on the cross.  This is why the gospel translates to “good news.”  Apart from it, even our righteousness is filthy.

Walk in grace today.  That’s why he came.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Journaling Through the Journey

I’m not gonna lie, journaling has always sounded a bit feminine to me.  Partially because academia in the midwest is typically shunned by independent, sport-watching, beer-drinking men.  I’m aware that this isn’t always the case, but the more men I come in contact with, the munore this stereotype develops in my mind.  As this stereotype has grown over the years with the guys I’ve come in contact with, the need I see to journal has also grown.

First off, we should know that journaling is not about writing down the warm and fuzzy feelings someone gets when they come in contact with that “special someone.”  Keeping a journal is about realizing that our life is part of a much bigger story that God is writing, and recording our current spot in that story (which can include the warm and fuzzies too I guess).  In addition, writing our thoughts and prayers down is a tool to keep the eyes of our hearts fixed in the right direction, not just a record keeper.  Paul E. Miller wrote a book called  ”A Praying Life.”  This book from page one has challenged and shaped my view on how to pray, why we pray, and why we should record our prayers -I highly recommend it.  On page 254 Miller writes,

When we keep our eyes on the Shepherd, we become aware of ourselves.  The valley of the shadow of death becomes a valley of vision… Journaling allows us to discover the story that God is writing in our lives.  Instead of rushing through life, it allows us to pause and reflect.

When I ask people the overused, underused, and abused question, “How’s it going?”  The answer I’m accustomed to hearing ranges from “good,” to “not too bad.”  When I am asked this, the answer that almost always rolls of my tongue is, “busy, but good.”  Life for me, no matter how chaotic or organized, almost always feels busy.  I’m going to venture the guess that most of you who read this feel the same way.  Praying through life won’t necessarily change the business of our schedules -we are the ones who allow our lives to be busy.  When suffering comes our way (which is bound to happen), we tend to automatically forget the goodness of God.  We may say that “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!”  But if we are honest, we don’t feel that God is good.

When we journal through the busyness and disappointments of life by pausing, reflecting, and recording our honest prayers, we are in essence giving God the reigns to slow our hearts down and to point our eyes toward His sovereign hand that is weaving a beautiful story in and through our lives.  Watch, pray, journal, and discover -Jesus still changes lives through His life, death, and resurrection.

 

A Well In the Desert

By nature, I’m not what you would call a “blogger.”  When I wrote my first blog post, I think my arrogance had me think that people would quickly latch on to my irresistible wisdom -that didn’t happen.  In fact, I haven’t shared any of my thoughts through this WordPress account in quite some time.  The Holy Spirit has his ways of teaching God’s people humility and dependence.  Through his help I’ve come to realize that my best thoughts are always someone else’s which is why it is freeing for me to write this post.  God’s desire isn’t to have great pastors, songwriters,  authors,  and missionaries -God’s desire is to make his name great through His followers.  “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3b Emphasis Added).

I’m beginning to see that the light suffering that comes my way isn’t God’s punishment for the sin in my life -that would be living by karma, not grace (by the way, anything better than Hell is a gift of grace).  God allows us to stagger through the desert so we can learn how to be dependent upon Him.  In the desert our proud, independent spirit becomes helpless and thirsty, we feel the weight of our needs and cry for help, the dry heat of our circumstances has us thirsting for nothing less than the presence of God, and before you know it we are praying like David.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

in the midst of bitter circumstance, God’s fellowship is sweet.  When you find yourself in the desert, look for the Wellspring of life: Jesus.