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Showing posts from November, 2011

Mad at God for being God

This past Sunday I heard a message on the story of Jonah: Mr. Second Chance.  It reminded me of a series I taught a few years ago on the book of Jonah. During that series we spent 4 weeks looking at the four chapters of this Old Testament story of a prophet who was more than willing to receive God's grace when it was extended to him but unwilling to accept it when it was offered to those outside his comfort zone. The series was entitled Escape because at its heart that is what grace is: God providing an undeserved escape for us in spite of our sin. The story of Jonah revolves around the idea that God provides a means of escape for a wayward prophet who is trying to "escape" his divine mandate & ultimately God providing a means of escape for a people group who deserved anything but forgiveness and mercy.

The most fascinating part of the Jonah story to me is the last chapter. After God delivered Jonah from certain death (and from himself) and after Jonah witnesses one …

My Thankful List

Paul instructs the Thessalonian Christians to give thanks in all circumstances. My "thankful list" looks a little different this year based on life's circumstances. And although 2011 has been my toughest year to date, here are some things I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving:

- Jesus: your unconditional love and forgiveness gives me life and hope.
- The Gospel: I am in more need of its healing power than ever.
- The Cross: He bled out for my issues.
- Grace: its magnitude dwarfs my sins.
- Second Chances: He is the God of them.
- Jesus followers: many of them have been His hands and feet to me this year.
- The Healer: He is putting my heart back together.
- Brokenness: not easy to go through but necessary for true healing.
- Family: their love through this season has demonstrated the love of our Heavenly Father.
- My Kids: they love me in spite of me.
- My Wife: your love for me through this season blows my mind.

1 Thessalonians 5.18: "Give thanks in all circ…

Getting My Way

One of the central components of the Christian faith is the doctrine of sin. We believe God acted on our behalf because there was a spiritual need for His intervention. In other words, our sin creates a need for redemption.
We are sinners. We need a Savior. God acted on our behalf.
The Bible speaks frequently of sin. As a matter of fact, there are over 20 different words utilized in the original languages to portray the various dimensions of sin.There is no way for me to unpack the depth of the subject of sin in a single blog post. However, I do want to mention a couple of key ideas that help define sin and why grace is so radical in light of sin’s nature.
One of the chief images of sin most often employed in the NT is the idea of “missing the mark.”Paul conveys it as “falling short” of God’s standard (Rom 3:23). In other words, the holy nature of God requires perfection and simply put: we are not perfect. We “fall short” of God’s mandate.We are incapable of meeting God’s requirement. T…

Joe Paterno & Romans 6:23

The sports world is ablaze with discussions about the scandal at Penn State and the subsequent firing of long-term and esteemed coach Joe Paterno.  Much of the debate regarding Paterno centers on consequences.  What are the appropriate consequences for Paterno's apparent lack of response and follow-through in this horrific scandal?  What is the apposite penalty for remaining uninvolved in such atrocious and inappropriate activity?

Appropriate or inappropriate consequences can be extremely subjective.  What I have learned through personal experience is that everyone has an opinion on what the appropriate consequences should be for certain behaviors or sins. If you did __________, then you should face __________. This sin should result in these consequences. And if you do not face the consequences of choice, then people feel that you somehow escaped or got away with it. The difficulty in this scenario is that everyone's consequence of choice differs because everyone has an opini…

Wounded but Healing

"By His wounds you are healed" (1 Peter 2:24)

These words leaped off the screen at me this morning when I was reading through 1 Peter. I have been intrigued with the life of Peter in recent weeks and I was reading through his final recorded letters this morning seeking some fresh insight into this capricious disciple. I wrote some of my thoughts on Peter in an earlier post. In that blog I ruminated on the process that was required in order for Peter to find his ultimate healing in Jesus. One of the truths that stands out to me regarding both my life and the life of Peter is that we tend to wound others because our own hearts are wounded. For that reason, we need healing in order to live whole and complete lives in Jesus.

As I read the words of Peter today, I realized again (but in a fresh way) that ultimate healing comes through what Jesus did on the cross.  I do not believe that our human minds can fathom the magnitude of what happened on the cross when Jesus died.  The lon…

R-rated

“You can’t rewrite the story”
These words echoed in my mind early one morning.For whatever reason, I have always been a person who wakes up early in the morning and thinks.And one recent morning as I lay in the stillness of the morning and wrestled with some of my life choices, God impressed these words on my heart: “You can’t rewrite the story.”
Each of us has a life story and each of us has parts or chapters of our story that we would love to redo, unwind, or omit.Erratic decisions. Sinful choices. Damaged relationships. Errant seasons. Selfish moments. Poor planning. It would be so nice to get a “do-over” in life.
Each of us has parts of our story that forever altered the story of someone else – sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.Our stories are intertwined with other life stories and when we make certain decisions, their stories are changed.
My life is a complex story. There are parts of my story that I love. There are parts of my story that I wish I could erase.Th…

Labels

As part of my healing process, God has been teaching me to learn to focus on my identity in Jesus and not what others think or say about me.  He has been teaching me a lot about identity - where & in whom it is and is not found.  As humans, we tend to label people based on their actions. Here are some of the labels that have been assigned to me recently:

Cheater. Liar. Manipulator. Unrepentant. Divorced. Deceiver. Hypocrite. Disqualified.

Labels hurt. And yet, most of these labels fit me at some human level. But the bigger and more important question is this: will I allow these labels to define me?

Perhaps even more difficult than the labels others assign us are the labels we consign ourselves. The names others prescribe us pale in comparison to the self-imposed marks that often haunt our own soul. Here are some of the self-assigned labels with which I struggle:

Unworthy. Guilty. Inadequate. Dishonest. Marked. Depraved. Undeserving. Unlovable. Unfit.

These are weighty labels th…

In the Healing Business

I wound because I am wounded. 

I have been wrestling with the depth of that statement in recent days. I hurt people because I am broken. My actions & words often wound other people.  Why do we say or do things that cause such pain to those we claim to love? God has been teaching me that it is because I am in need of healing. The damage I cause is most often the result of my own degeneracy.  I need Jesus to repair my brokenness.  But here's what God is also teaching me: healing often takes time. And personal healing sometimes requires a lifetime.

When Jesus was on earth, there were times that he healed people instantaneously. He touched them (or spoke the word) and they were immediately and completely healed.  Blind eyes could suddenly see. Diseased skin was immediately cleansed.  Dormant limbs were fully restored.  The activity of Jesus often produced instant and direct healing.

At other times, healing came over time. I am not necessarily referring to physical healing here bu…