Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Say Goodbye, Because I Need You Tonight

"Those who have been justified are now being sanctified; those who have no experience of present sanctification have no reason to suppose they have been justified." - F.F. Bruce

If there is any idea that I am just not comfortable with, its the thought that I might be incomplete. Just being part of a whole has never sat well with me and I have always fought to gain whatever I didn't have. Its a great moral "believe in yourself" doctrine, but that kind of faith has no place in the kingdom of heaven. Bruce in spot on in his assessment; if we aren't being sanctified, we haven't been made righteous. But no matter how hard we want to believe, how hard I want to believe it, I still don't like being incomplete. And then what, you tell me I can't even work for my wholeness? You expect me to just sit around and piddle away while I wait on You to do some divine work? I am a doer of things, and patience is only needed when there is certainty. So I read, I pray, I fast, I seek Him alone, I seek Him in others, and the return seems void. But the only work is faith (John 6:29) and even that isn't accomplished alone (Romans 8:26-27). Its just a question of faith and I will never have enough. The work is accomplished, all that's left is to repent and believe. Even that is fruit of the Spirit so really its just try to love Jesus and accept that He has to do everything for you.

Everyone is a product of their environment, whether positive or negative. Sin taught us to work, and we knew it long before we knew Christ. It said to us that you have to work for everything to gain approval. It said if you don't do everything yourself people won't respect you. It said if you don't make yourself into God, you'll be alone. It said that if you apply yourself enough you will earn your salvation and you will never be alone again. Sanctification is the constant work of the Father removing idols, and replacing them with Himself. It happens by our plans because He works in His time. I have never felt more alone than when the Lord stripped me of my iniquity, my delights. He said to me "you will NOT seek these things and by MY work will you know that I AM THE LORD". How can I overcome this kind of grace? And so having been blessed with revelation, I seek to be a man with nothing. For the sake of my heart and His glory, I dare not look to anyone for assurance. Assurance is my revelation and I mark it by grace. The fears wash away though rather slowly and even now I hope to be made whole. It is a promised sealed in the next life, but by His grace I will come as close as I can. I will not seek my sanctification for it isn't an end in itself, but I will seek the face of the Lord know that in time, it will be brought to me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grace as it Conquers the Shadows of the Heart

Were it not that wickedness plagued my heart, I would never yearn for the things of this world. Were it not for the selfish rule of the flesh, I would never chase afters shadows amidst the light. I speak as one who has seen, heard, and given account yet constantly the darts penetrate me for my faith is weak. Its a though a stick of dynamite were strapped to chest, set to go off the instant my brain finishes tearing itself apart. Anxiety, jealousy, remorse are the outcome of these lies, these lurking shadows. Were I in darkness, misery would never claim me. Contentment in the shade would cloud my mind, hiding from me things that are good, revealing only that which destroys. It comes as a wolf in sheep's clothing. It bears no warning of its impending work, giving only whispers of satisfaction never to come. But there is the light.

Light cannot be overcome. Shadow has no weapon for it, so it places the things of this world before it so that the shade may roam for a time. In anger and in fury by the grace of our Lord I have beheld this shadow amidst the light. Violently I attack, blinded by rage at the sight of such a wicked curse setting itself against me. These thoughts of jealousy and remorse become my enemy and I am set against them with the fullness of my being for their evil offends me. But as with all things the Lord awaits patiently at my side. Nothing of what I do is hidden from His eyes, yet instead of joining me in this war against the flesh He but mourns. Compassion for the fool before Him shows that as I battle against this present darkness, I myself stand beneath a shade of self-righteous hate giving credence to the power of the air.

Sorrow is a tricky business and one that I am most unaccustomed to. It is the predecessor of rage as rage is sorrow put to action by those who do not wish be feel feeble. I have never wanted to be weak and though I have no acquaintance with rage, I accept it in the hopes that sadness might depart from my flesh never to return. By the grace of God I have seen that neither anger or sorrow can solve the puzzle of the heart. Guilt and regret may permeate as a false stain but there is still truth. The process is slow for I am still weak but truth begins its work upon the pain of guilt. With wisdom the Spirit has entrusted its truth with a work to give answer for regret. For regret in the midst of the light has but two choices. It can fade in the thoughts of a foolish child, revealing purpose that drives past decision. Or it can transform into promise of something to return to... something lost that might be received anew by grace in time. The Lord's will in all things and by it I put my trust, and in prayer will I place my requests for I am still a foolish child in need of grace.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Insufficiency of Wickedness

Time and time again the proud are humbled, the wise are shamed, and the rebel is made to kneel before the Cross.

I have never been in the condition to doubt myself. Doubt how others may react to me yes, but never taking the burden of doubt itself. Part of my condition, my self-imposed disease is to see myself as greater than I am. My pride is ladened with deception, greed, envy, and malice all of which work together to enhance what I consider joy. The result of my pride is that I desire others to experience the greatness I consider myself so that any adoration can satisfy my desire to be praised. Yet though I desire the affections of others I do not need it. At the end of the day, were all the world against me I would still insist that jealousy drove my enemies further escalating my self-made pedastal to new heights. My pride delights in itself and is self-seeking.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day." - John 6:44

Now ultimately my pride does not matter. It is a horrid, wretched thing that stains the earth with its filth and pollutes the hearts of those it meets. It garners no love for others, but only imitates love to fulfill its wicked purpose.

Jesus was punished on the Cross by His Father, because when His Father saw Him, He saw my pride. He saw my selfishness, my deception. He saw how I used others maniacally for my gain without care for their well-being. God the Father saw it all and He punished His perfectly righteous Son for it. What's worse, if you are in Christ, that same disease and selfishness was placed on the Son to be punished by the Father. What is the punishment? Separation from the all-fulfilling, all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful, all-righteous, all-just God of the universe who knew your name before time began. This is the God we worship. I accept all that I have done to further myself, poison those around me, and defile the name of God but I have not the right to bear shame or burden for any of it. Because to bear the burden, the shame, the condemnation for my sin would mean that Christ's work on the Cross was not sufficient. It would mean that the death of God's Son was not good enough to cover my pride. That is unacceptable. To live in self-pity is to spit on His sacrifice and that is the worst opponent of gratitude.

I don't say this in condemnation of anyone, but only to show myself how wretched I truly am to bear any burden for evil deeds that Christ attoned for. Repent? Yes. Wallow in disgrace? Never. I have lied to those I claim to love. I have toyed with hearts and minds for the sake curiousity and discovery. Yet for all my filth, the Father of Christ sees me as righteous. Not because of my works, so that I may not boast, but by the work of Christ on the Cross that cannot be defeated.

Grace is a gift greater than life and I am blessed to receive it. I am blessed that even in my reckless ignorance, the Lord continually leads me towards Himself through sanctification. I never recognize its full scope and never appreciate it as much as I ought, but it still remains faithful. Grace is all-sufficient as Christ is all-sufficient and I live by both.

- A Wretched Child, Eternally Blessed

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Being Wrong Never Felt So Right

I find it very hard to admit that I'm wrong. This has been the case as long as I can remember but I don't think I've ever considered it much until recently... probably because I have been wrong a lot. If you hear it from no one else, hear from this objectively prideful legalist that being wrong is no fun. Granted I have seen how the Lord has used my failings to edify me, it still doesn't take away the sting from my ego (a good thing no doubt). Oddly I have felt very pressured to be right as of late. Its mostly self-inflicted pressures but still, I don't like the fact that I'm having to make decisions with the full confidence that they will be the wrong ones. Just as a side note I would like to say that the Lord has kept me in surprisingly good spirits so praise be to His name.

During my flu infested week I had the great privilege to sit at home and listen to sermons from John Piper for 5 days (I can think of few other men alive that are as filled by the spirit). Taking advantage of the wisdom of another, I listened to a sermon on decision making. Let the record stand that up to this point I had never heard a talk on decision making that gave any practical application. Anyway he specified that good gospel inspired decision making came from an overflow of the Word. At this point the Lord began to work in my mind and I considered the nature of "overflow". Considering a cup I determined that if a cup is being filled with water, the only way to ensure that some water does not go to waste is to place it in another cup... bingo. Therefore effective decision making is not just a product of being filled but placing the excess of the Spirit into others. So the solution to my crisis was not to hole up and think for a week, but to experience an outpour of the faith in evangelism and discipleship.

I am supposed to give a talk on the importance of the spiritual disciplines. In considering what the disciplines are I also feel it necessary to explain the significance of each one. To be honest I have been worried how I'm going to find the root of each discipline but the grace and peace of the Lord has been sufficient as usual. Moral of the story, I'm going to make bad decisions and fail often. Yet Christ supplies me with my needs and all my successes will come through Him. Blessed be the wondrous cross and our Saviour by which we are saved.