We Must Be a Broken People

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Our Church has been finishing up a five-part series. The last of which was on the

 

“perseverance of the saints”. This biblical idea basically means that though our salvation is secure, we as Christians will persevere in our faith until the end. We won’t throw our love for Christ aside, we won’t give Him up. Ultimately though, we recognize that God is the one at work within us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Contemplating this concept is difficult for me. God clearly calls us to turn from our sins and always be repenting and turning back to Christ. This being the fruit and proof of salvation. And then there’s the other side: it’s ultimately God who’s doing the perseverance in and through us. It’s crazy to think about!

However mind-boggling God’s sovereignty is, He is teaching us much through our Wednesday night home-groups through our church. We talk in a group of 12-18 and

 

discuss the sermon from Sunday. We read through selected scriptures and open the floor for discussion. We eventually got on the topic of “how to recognize those who are persevering and those who are not”. Because, what sets good-works-salvation-bob apart from by-grace-through-faith-alone-Nolan? We externally do the same things, don’t we?

God led me back to a verse in Luke 18:10-14.

 

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This account is always a humbling reminder of what a broken heart before God looks like. It’s not flashy, it’s not proud or arrogant. It’s not perfect, It’s just broken.

We look at the pharisee and think he looks pretty good, by cultural standards. And the tax collector is pretty much the scum of the earth. At face value we could make a judgement call and say the Pharisee is “persevering”, but is he?

Jesus is getting deep here. The pharisee is pompous and arrogant before God, flaunting his spiritual “goodness” (aka filthy rags). He thanks God he’s not like other people. He thanks God He’s not like “those” people. He’s literally placing his good works on a false scale. This made up scale places the Pharisee as creator, the “other people” as the measured standard, and rigs it to go in his favor. He tries to “trick” God into thinking he’s good.

The contrast is this lowly tax collector. By societal standards, a thief, a swindler. The scum of the earth. But his prayer sounds much different. “be merciful to me, a sinner!” He recognized his sinfulness before God. He realized that he deserved nothing other than condemnation. And he physically expressed it by beating his chest is anguish over his separation from God. Naturally from the outside you’d think “this guys screwed up!” and he certainly was. But there’s a difference between these two screw-ups.

One was broken. One was not.

We have this idea in the Church that if we show our brokenness we will be shunned. And this should never be the case. This ‘scum of the earth’ Jesus was referring to was not scum to Him. But rather this man was the one who was saved in the end. Not the one who “looked good”.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17

An arrogant, thinks-they’re-put-together-person is not persevering in Christ. They are persevering by themselves.

A broken, contrite heart recognizes their own flaws. They turn to Christ for forgiveness and reveal themselves to be the truly persevering. And what does the latter example have that the former doesn’t? The Holy Spirit himself.

As a Church we must be a broken people. We must. Without brokenness and vulnerability what do we have? White-washed tombs and people not getting the spiritual nourishment they desperately need. We must be broken before we can be healed.

Every Breath Is Your Ministry

In the midst of life and all of its insanity, iv’e come to realize more and more that all of it, every breath i take is ministry.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

Our circumstances have been a bit crazy lately, though the car is fixed, (which we are very thankful for!) many things are a still a mystery for the future. But that’s life, an opportunity to learn and grow even when things don’t go the way we want.

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Amidst it all God has been really renewing my faith in His total control. Though it may seem a bit counter intuitive, all the trials and stress have brought me back to the throne of the king who’s really in control of it all. And that’s been the biggest comfort to me, knowing that God keeps His promises. And understanding that even though I may not see the purpose now (or may never until eternity) He is still working all things for His glory and my good.

So really, life is one big ministry.

We live, we die, and what’s it all for? Or rather who’s it all for?

As I watched my wife and cousin play a crazy game of badminton (pictured below) I thought of Gods purpose in the little things. What are ways I glorify Christ while playing a game? How can I love my wife well in the midst of stress? How can I praise Christ in everything?

And that’s when I was reminded that life is my ministry20140720-160059-57659900.jpg. God placed me here for a specific purpose. He elected me, saved me, and gave me the desire I have for ministry, and all I want to do is give back. Give back to His work and not mine. And as I wonder how and what that is, I’m learning to trust Him with every breath I breathe, to give each one to Him and let Jesus do the rest.

As my good friend (kind of) Jon Foreman once said “Every breathe is a second chance” and I want to live for Christ in such a way that each breath I’m reminded of the second chance that Christ’s blood bought for me on the Cross.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to follow me if you’d like more life and ministry updates! I just reached 50 followers and I’m so thankful that what i’ve been writing has resonated with some.

 

 

 

Whom Shall I Fear?

The rhetorical question David sets forth for me echoes in the distance of my heart. I incline my ear for a response… 1 second… 10 seconds… Nothing.

Who is it? Where are all the things i should fear? Will i fear men? Will I fear poverty? Will i fear loss?

Will i fear my boss? The worst he can do is fire me, and Christ has promised: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

Will i fear my friends? Even when Christ has called me personally from
darkness into His marvelous light? When he counts me righteous by his blood? My standing with him will never change, even when my standing with others will.

Will i be afraid of those who can take house, car, and material possessions? Even when He said: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Whom shall I fear?

Thoughts of music

So from the title you most likely know what this next post will be about right? Yep, music. I LOVE music. As i wrote in my last post, i haven’t a clue what i want to do with my life, but i do know i love music, especially rocking out to some rock and metal! But i’m sure it will somehow “play” into my future. (get it? ha.. ha..)

Anyways, i love searching for new artists, finding great new albums, and just listening for the pure joy of it. Recently i found an artist named, “Derek Webb” and, after listening to his album, “She Must and Shall Go Free” was filled with hope for the christian music industry, combining folksy-rock (Almost like Johnny Cash meets Relient K in my opinion?) with honest, solid lyrics to create a great album definitely worth the listen.

See, that’s me. Some people will listen through an album and thoroughly enjoy it, nothing wrong with that at all. But me, I Listen to the album. I Listen for good music sound-wise. And I Listen for solid, well-crafted lyrics. And if it fits what i like, then i’ll keep on listening!

You could call me a bit of a music critic. But sue me, i love music that’s honest, well crafted, and music and lyrics that fit together in perfect harmony. And, honestly, i haven’t come by many bands that can do it super well. But hey, it really is all opinion right?

And, as the late-great musician David said:
“Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”
(Psalm 33:3)

Whatever “skillfully” means for certain avid music listeners/players, from a nice guitar solo, to a passionate rock ballad, to even an intense throaty death-metal moment, keep on playing skillfully singing to Jesus a new song!