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The Simple Gospel

I’ve spilled a lot of (digital) ink here on this blog over the years about life, struggles, pain, joys, needs, etc.

But I find I may not have shared the single most important thing I believe. Oh, I’ve talked about it–about Him–to be sure. But I don’t think I’ve shared the simple Gospel.

I saw this image on Facebook, and it so beautifully encapsulates the Gospel, what Jesus did, I had to share it:

image

He took my sin, your sin, everyone’s sin, so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now what is sin? The term, as used in the Bible, means “missing the mark.” What is the mark?

Perfection.

God is perfect (“Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” said Jesus), and we are most decidedly not. Not by a long shot.

Which is why He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice. Now you may say to yourself, “Self, I’m not so bad. I haven’t killed, committed adultery… I’m no Jeffrey Dahmer.”

But have you ever lied? Even a little white lie? If so, you’ve broken God’s law: “You shall not lie.” And we know from the Bible that to transgress in one part of the law is to transgress all. In fact, Jesus upped the ante when He said that:

Lust = adultery

Hated = murder

Have you ever hated? Looked at someone with lust?

Chances are, you have. So have I–so have we all. Or maybe you haven’t, but you have taken something (no matter how small) that wasn’t yours.

That’s stealing.

So if a holy God, whose standard is perfection, were to ask you upon what basis He should let you into heaven? What would you say? Would you appeal to your assertion that you’re not such a bad person (even though we’re all lying, thieving adulterers at heart), or would you–like Hebrew National–appeal to a higher authority?

Like Jesus? He who knew no sin became sin for:

You

Me

Everybody

Everyone who would believe.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

We Can’t Avoid Pain

I’ve recently been reading the most excellent Dresden Files series (by Jim Butcher), and was gobsmacked by the following:

“Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living, only the dead don’t feel it.”

I read this only hours after sitting in church hearing the pastor teach on the true vine, branches, and pruning. It dawned on me that I’d spent an inordinate amount of my life trying to avoid the inevitable: pain. There are times in the past year, or so, where God was simply trying to do what all vinedressers do: prune.

And I tried to avoid it, tried to run from it. Tried to cover it with other things.

It didn’t work out so well. In fact, in trying to avoid pain, I only created more pain for myself and those around me. By avoiding, I only made things worse. Conflict is inevitable, and must be, well, confronted. There’s no way around it. By avoiding the uncomfortable, I set myself up for all kinds of failure.

I’m not saying pain is fun–it hurts!–but it’s a privilege when we consider the alternative: the dead don’t feel it. In point of fact: I don’t want to leave this world with regrets. Things undone, words unsaid, love withheld because it was scary and hard.

Love is pain, my friends. If we are going to love, we will hurt. If we are going to be loved, it will hurt. To shut ourselves off from pain, we (however unintentionally) shut ourselves off from the one thing we all need:

Love.

In Hebrews, it says that the Lord Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If that was true of Him, how much more so of us?

My question to you is:

Is there some pain in your life you’ve been trying to avoid? Trying to cover? What are you going to do to confront it, embrace it, learn from it?

Challenge yourself. You must find that, in your weakness, you are strong.

Let Hope Rise

I’m so excited about this! It’s been years in the making. Most of us sing their songs every week (if not everyday).

What am I talking about?

The Hillsong movie, people! It’s coming next year. Their story really is HIS story:


                            

The Tao of Poo #fb

Maybe I’m odd, but sometimes I think about poop. As a young man, I used to silently laugh at all of the commercials touting the benefits of regularity.

Then I got older.

And realized it’s indeed painfully uncomfortable to be anything other than regular. Now even if fiber is the right thing to do (thanks, Wilford Brimley), this post isn’t really about the health benefits of a morning constitutional (or a high colonic, for that matter). Rather, it’s about those things which emanate from us naturally. Whether that be feces, urine, perspiration, toe cheese, what have you…

Harsh words, slander, backbiting, gossip, anger, bitterness, vengeanace… The list goes on.

There’s a theology to be found in contemplating out natural body processes. Indeed, the simple fact of the matter is that there are things which proceed forth from us quite naturally, and all of which stink. All bespeak of decay, of breakdown, of death. Of our very human condition. C.S. Lewis once wrote of there being a theology of dirty jokes, i.e., the very reason we are uncomfortable with what is very natural, and normal, is because somewhere, on an instinctual level, we realize we are more (as Yoda wisely said) than mere “crude matter.” Luminous beings are we, certainly; yet nevertheless mired in shit. Stained on the inside.

This is the Tao of Poo, natural theology:

Where everything that comes forth naturally from you, me, everybody, stinks to high heaven. This is as immutable as entropy–things wear out, and the center cannot hold…

But for Jesus.

He has come to give us new a life, a new nature, a new heart. This is not natural, but supernatural. It’s not something we can transact on our own. For “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end of the ways thereof is death.” Our ways end in death, “but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord” who has given us life.

Life eternal, everlasting, neverending. Even so, these bodies will fail, and everyday remind us of their decay. Whether it’s a cut, hunger–or a trip to the restroom–there’s a theology there for all who have ears to hear, and eyes to see.

We Lost the War

For decades it seems the American church has been fighting a war on culture. Well, we’ve lost. I don’t say this lightly, but it also seems pretty clear that we marched into battle under faulty premises. I mean when are we ever  mandated to convert the culture in which we find ourselves to some semblance of Christian conduct?

Is it even reasonable to expect Christian conduct, or morals, from culture? From the world? I submit it is not. Moreover, we’re not even on the same page when it comes to values.

So we’ve fought a war, which we’ve arguably lost, and awoken in a world we don’t recognize… Because we didn’t fight biblically. Pop quiz:

Where was the Apostle Paul most effective–on Mars Hill, where he tried to be culturally relevant, or with the Phillippian jailer? How about Jesus? Was He after the masses, or the individual? You see, those of us who believe serve a God Who isn’t all about efficiency. He wants the one lost sheep who’s strayed, scans the horizon for signs of the prodigal son, tells the woman with the issue of blood that her faith has healed her… Or the woman caught in adultery to go, and sin so more.

Was the command to go into all the world and save the culture, or rather was it to make disciples? You see, it’s easy to lionize Hollywood, or lambsaste the gay agenda.

But it’s hard to confront the sin in our own hearts, check our motives, and then go forth with the message of God’s love.

For individuals.

It’s easy to write off entire segments of the populace. It’s far harder to love those souls for whom Christ died.

Changed lives don’t happen culturally, or societally, but rather face-to-face, one-on-one.

But we’re afraid, hiding in our holy huddles. It’s no wonder we’ve lost the war.

But it’s not too late.

Wake up, church: the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God.

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