My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘justification’

I’m Cured…

Recently, I had a troubling experience with an infection. Through a strange set of circumstances, I ended up finding out that I had brought something more than souvenirs back with me on my trip to Indonesia. The worst part of the whole experience was the fear that I had infected my husband and children as well.

It ended up that I was the only one infected (due to a shot that didn’t quite “take”). Of course, I was very thankful for that. But it did get me to thinking…

I am completely and totally infected with sin. You are too. In fact, we all are. Yet we never think about how this sin infection is affecting and infecting our family, our friends, and even complete strangers.

Every day we walk around spreading this infection around through our actions. Everything we do, even with the best of motives, is sin-filled and dirty in the eyes of our Holy God.

We are called to be light to those around us. How can we be the light that points others to God when we are full of dark, dirty sin? The bad news is – we can’t. The good news is – Jesus can. And He does it through us when we trust in Him and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior.

And in this dirty, dark world, Jesus is a bright light. Like a lighthouse in the ocean that keeps ships from crashing into shore, Jesus shows us the way with His light. We are drawn to this light like a moth to a porch light.

So, with Jesus within me, I am now a lighthouse to the lost and searching people around me. I reflect this light to everyone around me…even fellow believers! I am no longer a person infected with sin dragging down people; I’m a light showing people the way.

I’m cured!

Amazing Love…

habakkuk2_14I have been thinking about some things that I was taught this weekend and mulling them over in my head.  There was much that I learned from this conference but one thing has been bouncing around in my head for hours and hours and is now ready to come out.

The gist of the teaching was that most things in the church tend to be “Me” centered.  This is talking about and dwelling on solely what God did for me.  Jesus died for me, Jesus thought about me while on the cross.  And both of those things are true.  However, that isn’t the whole picture.   The other side of the equation is that Jesus died to bring glory to God.  I guess what has really made me think is the idea that one is more important than the other.

Before we were saved, we were shaking our fist and telling God to “Leave me alone.”  I literally was doing that.  And let me be clear here, so were you.  You may not have been physically shaking your fist or audibly saying the words but emotionally, intellectually, and in your heart, you were saying the same thing.

Jesus and the cross changed all that.  He drew me to Him and He saved me.  The Bible tells us that we love God because He first loved us.  And that love saved us.

So, where is the glory of God in there?  The Glory of God is in Jesus’ obedience to the Father in going to the cross; it is in the death of death, and the final defeat of sin.  But it is also in our salvation and sanctification.

While I agree that you can’t look at the cross and think about ONLY your salvation, you can’t forget it either.

I think part of the difficulty is in how you think about God and your salvation.  If you are more free will in your belief, your salvation originates with you.  You alone make the choice to accept Jesus.  It is your decision.  Because of this I think some need to get to where the glory of God is revealed and that is why there is this dichotomy between the glory of God and our salvation in regards to the cross.

If you are more reformed in your belief, your salvation originates totally with God.  He calls you and then you respond.    The drawing of the sinner to God, the call, and the salvation all bring glory to God because they are all about God glorifying Himself by saving us.

Therefore, I think in our worship we need to sing songs about both the glory of God and Jesus’ dying on the cross for us.  I don’t think you can divorce one from the other without losing God’s greatest glory.

And that’s why I can sing one of my favorite hymns and know it is not about me, it never was.  It’s about Him!

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Praying for Persecution…

Yesterday, I spent a little over an hour watching a wonderful movie at church. It was a film called Malatya. The information describes it as follows:

malatyaApril 18, 2007, three men were murdered inside a Bible publishing office in Malatya, Turkey. The killers were five teenagers, each found with a note reading “We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion.” This film is the story of the martyrs, the Turkish Church, and the enduring faithfulness of God.

It was a wonderful although convicting film.

The three martyrs were tortured and then murdered by five boys whom they had welcomed into their church and witnessed the Lord Jesus Christ to. These were men with wives, fiancés, and children. They were loved and loved their families. However, they loved Jesus Christ more.

The Matalya Martyrs

The Malatya Martyrs

I was very convicted by something that was said by one of the people interviewed. They said that people are usually paralyzed by fear or paralyzed by comfort.

I was totally blown away by this statement. I had to pray this morning that I won’t be paralyzed by either but particularly by comfort. I have come to realize that this is the case with many, many of Christians in the United States. We have it so good – not being persecuted for our faith. So much so that I’ve heard that many of the churches in foreign countries pray that the US churches will be persecuted so that they will become more faithful and on-fire for Christ.

And this makes it hard. What do I pray for? I feel like I should pray for persecution of the US church so that we can be found faithful. But…wow…how do you pray for persecution? I finally prayed not to be paralyzed by either fear or comfort – no matter the cost.

This was something one of the wives of the martyrs talked about. How much is too much to give? Especially when our Lord and Savior gave even His life for us? How can we give anything less? And she is correct. We should give anything and everything to our Lord Jesus.  At any time.

I just pray that if everything is required of me that I will joyously and worshipfully give it. That I will be like Job and say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)


Don’t Bring Me Down…

A little over a week ago Lucy, Bella’s gerbil, died. Friday night I went to feed Rick James, the other gerbil, some celery and realized he had also died sometime during the day.

After he died, Bella picked him up from his cage and her hand was covered with these little red moving dots. After some research, we found out that both Rick James and Lucy must have died from having a severe mite infection. We didn’t know anything about mites or even that gerbils could have them and spread them to each other. We also learned that they can kill gerbils.

The guy who had Lucy that gave him to Bella originally had another gerbil. Usually the gerbils were purchased by the school through a medical supplier.  However, when Biv’s original gerbil died mid-semester, the professor didn’t have time to order another and purchased Lucy from a pet-supply store. Apparently, Lucy was infected with mites. When Bella got both Lucy and Rick James and put them in the same cage, Lucy infected Rick James and subsequently they both died.

This got me to thinking about people. We too suffer from an infection. We are born infected with sin. We got this infection from Adam at the moment of our conception and it is an infection that leads to death. The Bible teaches us that “… the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). We are going to die because of the curse of sin. As believers, we are ultimately cured of this infection. Our earthly bodies will still die, but we will live forever with Christ in Heaven.

As believers; however, we also can be “infected” by sin in another way. 1 Corinthians 6:9 tells us, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”” In our earthly bodies, we still war with sin. (Thanks Tommy for the wonderful sermon on this topic last night!)  We have to struggle every day to not let sin corrupt (or infect) us. Being around others, especially unbelievers, tends to make this struggle harder. Most people can relate to this. A good illustration for me, someone who struggles with losing weight, is being around people who eat whatever they want all the time. I can stick with my Weight Watchers and do pretty good until I am around others who are eating. Then it is an intense struggle for me not to snack and eat unhealthy. It is the same for us when people are sinning around us.

Unfortunately, sin can be a lot of fun. Our corrupted, sinful bodies long and fight against the Holy Spirit within us. We WANT to sin. Someone once put it this way to me: it is easier to pull someone off a chair then for someone on a chair to pull another up. In the same way, it is easier to drag someone down into sinfulness with you than to help them to be holy.

That’s why I am once again in a good, sound accountability group. I need someone to pull me up and help me to live a holy life. I need someone to knock me in the head and call me out when I sin. And to help inoculate me from the infection called sin.

New Life…

I was able to go and visit a brand new baby on Tuesday. She was actually less than 24 hours old when I got to hold her. Her name is Joy Alethia and she is beautiful! I was blessed to be able to come on my lunch hour and see her. She is the daughter of our Senior Pastor Shawn and his wife Lisa. Our Pastor of Discipleship, Tom and his wife Joy, also had a brand new baby on Monday. Her name is Karlie Elizabeth. She is also beautiful but unfortunately the hospital they are at is too far for me to make it there and back during my brief lunch. I look forward to getting see and hold Karlie soon.

After seeing Joy in person and pictures of Karlie, I got to thinking about brand new life. These precious little babies are so new they don’t even have a blemish on them. They are perfect and innocent. They are beautiful creations of God made in His own image.

Then I thought about myself. I used to be just like Joy and Karlie. Brand new with not a wrinkle or blemish on me. Beautiful and innocent. However, now, after 44 years, I’m worse for wear. I’ve got gray hair, sags, and wrinkles. I’ve got spots, and freckles, and scars. I’m definitely not innocent. I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God every single day of my life. And it’s taken its toll. I don’t look much like the newborn baby that I once was. In fact, if you saw me then and now, you most likely wouldn’t even recognize me.

Thinking about this really shows me what God has done for me. When I look in the mirror I see a middle-aged (when did that happen?), overweight (and when did that happen?) woman. But that’s not what God sees. He sees my heart and every thought and intention. He sees who I really am, not just who I try to be, or who I show everyone around me.

Now that can be really scary when you think about it. God sees the real me. The one I hide, the one I don’t want anyone else to know about. All the bad thoughts, the selfishness, and ugliness. There is this song called “Welcome Home.” It perfectly describes the hidden ugliness in my heart to me:

Welcome to this heart of mine
I’ve buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I’ve made
Inside of me
Come decorate, Lord
Open up the creaking door
And walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains
Until no sin or shame remain
Spread Your love upon the walls
And occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded
No more doors are barricaded

Take a seat, pull up a chair
Forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling
Gathered on my search for meaning
Every closet’s filled with clutter
Messes yet to be discovered
I’m overwhelmed, I understand
I can’t make this place all that You can

I took the space that You placed in me
Redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked

Come inside this heart of mine
It’s not my own
Make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own
Welcome home

Take me, make me
All You want me to be
That’s all I’m asking, all I’m asking

(Welcome Home, Shaun Groves)

Yet God did a work in me. He gave His Son to die on the cross for my sins. And now….He sees me clothed in the righteousness of Christ! And I too, look like a newborn babe!

And if that’s not enough, He will one day take this ruined, sinful body and give me a new glorified body. He will take away all that I am missing and make me whole again. And I will never sag, and gray, and wrinkle. I will be who I was made to be forevermore in God’s presence. And I think that is what new life should represent to us all. The hope and promises that we have from God. New babies should help us all see the new life that we as believers will one day have.