Free ticket to heaven

perishableHow absurd it all is I used to think. I used to believe that the Christian faith was the pinnacle of insanity and self-delusion. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” says Paul (1 Cor 18). And there it is: I was perishing.

So what did I believe in then? Maybe it was the – “as-long-as-I’m-not-hurting-anyone-then-I’m-OK” – philosophy. What a great distance there was between where I was then and where I am now. Back then I was incredibly selfish, arrogant and vain. But nobody – or not so many – recognized it. “He’s a good guy,” they used to say.

So I subscribed to the “good guy” gospel. As long as I was  good  everything would be fine. It was a step in the right direction as before this it was all about trying to satisfy insatiable desires of the eyes, flesh and ego. Still, this “good guy” was a long way from the truth.

I look at the incredible distance between belief and unbelief. Can it be that the two are so far apart? Belief in Jesus basically comes in two flavors. One is that Jesus was a good guy, he helped the less fortunate and we should embrace his example. This is all true.

Then we have the second type of belief — that Jesus is a Savior. That he saves souls.

In my darker days, the idea of a Savior was abhorrent to me because this meant recognizing my sin. Back then I loved my selfishness, arrogance and vanity. I weaved an intricate web to hide from God. I went to great lengths to deny that not only was I headed to hell, but that I was already there. Not hurting anyone? I was inflicting mortal wounds upon myself. When I finally heard the Lord knocking my heart was bleeding profusely.

“Do you want to be made well?” He asked me.

And I answered, “Yes. Yes Lord, make me well.”

So Jesus Christ reached down and pulled me out of the pit and set me on my feet. Looking back, I see how different things were back then. What a great distance – or not?

Even now, I am not the “good guy” that I think I am or want to be. I am not so far from the wretched man of my past. Nastiness still can rear its ugly head in my life, but the difference is now I hate the wrong in my life. In the past I embraced it. I have been made clean and whole but not by any great effort of mine to be a “good guy”.

Instead, I have a free ticket to heaven. Why? Because, like the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, I know I have been forgiven of very, very much. And because of this I can love very much.

The distance between the sinner and the saint is not great. The greatness lies in recognizing the love Jesus pours out for you.

Luke 7:38

Image source: Attribution Some rights reserved by diongillard (I cropped the image and added the text.)
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Survival Of The Fittest

If God does not exist then what is the ultimate law? It must be survival of the fittest. The fittest, according to Darwin, are those that are best able to survive, reproduce and pass on their genes. And this makes a lot of sense.

If we are stronger, smarter and more useful humans then we should live longer. Even things like kindness and generosity can be considered survival advantages for the species as a whole. Still, if we take this theory to its limits, we encounter problems.

What if a person gave their life to save a busload of murderers, thieves and vile persons who were certain to pass on their vile genes to their children? What if that person, who sacrificed their life, was genetically perfect but had no children? According to Darwin, for the sake of the species, it would be better to let the bus burn. This is the logic of a universe without God.

But the heavenly Father showed us a higher way, a celestial law.

His law flies in the face of a godless universe. For it is the law of love.

Love means: give up your life – even for the wretched and the vile.

The Darwinian, or atheist, model fails for another reason: it invites control through power. Survival of the fittest allows for all kinds of atrocities. Here, the strong decide, survive and rule. We, as a species, have seen this and continue to see this.

One might point to the abuses of Christianity as a counter-argument, but these abuses deviated from the true Gospel message. On the other hand, oppression and control are in harmony with the Darwinian gospel.

How many times do we want to help the jerk, the rude and the abusive? How often do we feel mercy for those that irritate, frustrate or generate hate inside of us? It might be a particular person or group, or it might be a political party or politician.

Do we feel in the pit of our stomach that they would be better off dead? What do you feel?

Personally, I can never overcome this on my own. It requires a supernatural intervention. It obligates God to show me that he and his Spirit exist in my life. Otherwise, I would be killing people in my mind all the time – or at least choking on a deep desire to change attitudes through god-like control instead of love.

And much of the change in me occurs only on my knees in prayer.

In the end, Christ did not come down from the cross. He did not wield his mighty power and authority over all things. Instead of control, he showed us a much greater power that shouts his existence throughout the cosmos. The power of sacrificial love.

In the miracle of his resurrection, Jesus Christ did not pass on his genes. Instead, he passed us his Spirit. This is what makes us fit and strong.

Remember: You are not a Christian because you are better. You are a Christian because you are loved.

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Original Image: Takashi Hososhima  (Modified by Vincent Chough with some rights reserved: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

Trust Him Today

Why is it that we lose sight of our faith precisely when we need it most?

Jesus said, “Be not afraid” and we tremble in fear.
He said, “I am the bread of life” and we look everywhere else to feed our hungry souls.

What is keeping you from being at peace? Why don’t you do something about it TODAY?

It’s not about emotions…. it’s about making decisions and taking a stand.

Grab your faith with both hands and hold on tight.
Then beat down and kick out the things that are holding you down or holding you back.

Trust Him. He will fight the fight for you.

Patience

How patient do I have to be? I have been praying for some things for a very long time it seems.

So I ask God, “How patient do I have to be?”

And He answers, “How patient am I with you?”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

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photo credit: Ocean City NJ Sunrise 7-9-10 by David Saddler

You can amaze Him

Jesus is never shocked by your sin.

He already took care of that on the cross.

But he never stops marveling at your faith.

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Photo credit: Gerardofeganhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/29310420@N02/5440796379/in/photolist-9hMvd8-dhuUeN-9UQFGH-9vucmK-9xUY8T-9xUY4t-9xXWEd-9xUY3K-9xUY9X-9xUY78-9xXWwW-9xUY58-9xUYgg-9xUY3B-9xXWwC-9xUYhx-9xXWAW-9xUY6a-9xUYan-9xUYhc-9xUY8r-9xUYbe-9xXWN7-9y51Ub-9y23Ei-7SfkTD-8ijZqi-cbk3GY-aUBvpP-9y51Tu-9y23BB-9y51LY-9y51NQ-9xV5c8-9xV5gc-9xY3JW-9xV5eP-9xY3MA-9xV5dz-9xV5dP-9xY3N9-9xY3Hu-9xY3Kf-9xV5d6-bob2uG-9xUY9t-9hvc8z-dACDGa-7DNi2v-9Bxb3E-8UTeix

I reject these people

I reject the disrespectful. I reject the liar and the hypocrite. I reject the thief, the corrupt and the ungrateful. I reject the vain. I reject the traitor. I reject the violent, the impatient, the arrogant and the selfish.

I do not accept these persons. And when I see this behavior in the ones I love it drives me crazy. But what happens when I observe myself in these roles that fill me with disgust?

Jesus accepts everyone. Can I obey his invitation to follow him in these cases?

No. I can’t. I try to, but the moment always arrives where my “This Can Not Be” is much stronger than the limited mercy that comes from my heart. And when I reach my limit my desire to condemn approaches a desire to kill. On one hand, my reaction is just because it is against the things that cause much harm.

For God, the rejection is infinitely more intense because God is pure goodness.

But the Father says, “Justly for the most repulsive things in you, I send my Son.”

And Jesus says, “Justly for the ugliest things in all, I give my life.”

And the Spirit says, “Justly for the darkest things in you, I call you to the Son.”

When I understand this, it’s not like all of the sudden I can completely accept all the evil that I see in myself and the world. But I can begin to be humble.

And I can honor God with a river of praise for the perfection of his mighty love in Jesus Christ.

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Photo credit: jubileelewishttp://www.flickr.com/photos/77601953@N03/9306904421/

Brilliant ideas

“The truth is, I love you, but your brilliant project is not what interests me. I am interested in your heart. I am interested in true humility. For how long are you going to ignore me? How many times are you going to put on the mask of service when your true motive is ambition? If you worship power, glory or money… I am not interested at all.”

How many times has God spoken to me like this? Many.

The Christian is not someone with brilliant ideas. Or someone who works constantly. The Christian faith is for the weak and the broken. Because in our brokenness we recognize the importance of reconciling with God. In our weakness we know that we need a Savior.

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photo credit: Don & Tonya Christner
http://www.flickr.com/photos/52334279@N00/2905187757/in/photolist-5qHR76-5qHReF-5qHRmM-6noXA7-6Cdfre-72p7xv-74ihng-7jdQgc-7jdQgK-7jHB1w-bpnJTP-dxjcZK-dHKQQ1-efQBd4-dDXZoE-bkj585-byeKpL-byf8jd-byftb7-byf8nf-bM9PUn-bM9Qra-byfsDw-byfsgN-bM9AaV-bM9PBg-bM9EiX-bMa9X4-bMab7g-bMacUp-8mQpQr-8x1w1d-8x1wkN-dWWbjF-aqTfq3-7Hecx6-b3aRLn-8To9XM-bCCgRD-bpHkHu-bpHkEA-bpHkxG-bCCgYg-bpHkJN-bCCh5z-bpHkDj-dCBVrM-bM9Qax-bMaa5t-byeTpf-byf6Ko