One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me, was the ability to think. This thinking led me on a search. And after much searching, I finally found the Way. This thinking allowed me to ask questions. And after many questions, I finally found the Truth. And as I continued thinking, I concluded that there is no way, and there is no truth, if all of these things ultimately lead to death. And that is when I found the Life. This Christianity wasn’t daily Ritalin, it was bread.

Repaying God

For some time, I had subconsciously believed that every time I committed a sin, that it was my job to do something good for God in order to prove my allegiance to him, and make up for the sins that I had committed in the past. In my mind, whether I knew it or not, I felt as if God was keeping a balance of the things that I had done wrong, and it was my job to pay off that balance. Surely, God must have been angry towards me, or at the least, highly annoyed, rolling his eyes every time I tripped over the same sins over and over again. This lead me to believing that God was more of an impatient, cosmic police officer, than a loving Father. Every time I made a mistake, I ran whimpering off with my tail between my legs before he wrote me up or launched a lightning bolt towards me out of anger. 

Theology irons out the wrinkles in the fabric of our beliefs about God. My problem was that fact that I didn’t really know who God was, and I certainly didn’t understand grace.

(Romans 5:20) “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”

(Romans 6:14) “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

(2 Corinthians 4:15) “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

What I did not realize that was I was a debtor to grace. In fact, even when I tried to repay God with good works, every good work that I was doing for God, God was actually doing through me in the Spirit. So instead of my good works repaying God, I was actually growing deeper into his debt. This was eye-opening. Now that any shimmer of hope that I could repay God was put to rest, I finally began to understand the mystery, joy, and freedom of God’s grace.

This verse summed up my life: (Galatians 3:3) “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

I had been trying to reach perfection through my humanity, instead of through Christ. The more I tried, the more I failed. Not only was my view of God and his grace critically flawed, but it removed the power of the gospel (Galatians 2:21), and caused me to view God in a way that was far from glorifying to Him. 

The joy of Christianity is found in the grace of God. You no longer bear the weight of repaying an impossible debt. That very debt becomes the reason of your gratitude. 

Science vs God

Are God and Science diametrically opposed? I believe the answer to this question lies within another - “Does the belief or the non-belief in God prohibit science in any way?” Clearly, the answer should be “no”. One person believes that God was a first cause, who brought the universe into being, the other believes that the universe is a product of random processes. The argument is not really God vs Science, the argument is, as it always has been, Creation vs Naturalism. 

Allow me to briefly explain why the argument is not God vs. Science. The definition of science could be watered down to a process of asking questions, finding and testing the results of the original question you asked. It is inquiry. By its nature, there is no way to disprove God through inquiry. Neither a microscope, nor a telescope, by its nature, has the capacity to disprove God. The ludicrous ideology that science has disproved the existence God is the fair equivalent that the Model T disproved the existence of Henry Ford.

"Who said the universe needed a creator?" you might ask. Consider that the very implications of something being "created" binds the object to a point in time. A created object has a beginning. Because it has a beginning, it is now a participant in history- it is subject to time. But God is not like something that was created, because God was not created. He had neither a beginning nor end. He was, He is, and He always will be. That’s a harsh principal for a finite being to wrap its mind around. The question "who created God?" is guilty of the fundamental error that God was created.

Creation is stapled to a timeline - a timeline in which God does is not subjected to. Because we know that the universe was created, we choose between two popular options: The first being, that universe was spontaneously thrust into existence by random, natural processes. The second being, that an intelligent creator created it. Now the fatal flaw with the first popular option, that the universe was spontaneously generated, lies within the very idea that “something material was, before nothing material was” - in other words, “something material came from nothing”. Obviously illogical. Material objects do not come from nothing. This is where the second option makes sense. A non-material creator, who is exists out of time, must be the explanation. This is why the universe needs a creator.

A belief or disbelief in God does nothing to hinder people from doing science. Regardless of belief, the door of science is open to all who dare to ask questions about the universe that we live in. Faith should never be a threat to advancement. Science has done nothing to disprove God. On the contrary, it has continued to prove Him over and over again. From the complexity of DNA, to the mystery of consciousness - God has revealed His creativity and beauty throughout the universe, and left the imprint of His image on the people who explore it. 

"Men became scientific because they expected to find law in nature. They expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver." -CS Lewis

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No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.
CS Lewis 

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Be Perfect

Many people grow up believing that love and acceptance can only be acquired through performance. If their performance doesn’t meet an expectation, then love is undeserving. If you’ve grown up under this ideology, you understand that it can be difficult to shake. In fact, it may even seem fitting when you read the words from Christ in Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”. 

Perfection is impossible. Good moral works and religious practices will not gain you any favor in the eyes of God. God is perfect, and God demands perfection. Therefore we are doomed from the start. 

"Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3). Works done in the flesh will never perfect you. You cannot be perfect. You will never be perfect. When Christ says to "be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect", He fully understood that this command was impossible when left to your own devices. The good news of the Bible is that Christ is that perfection for you. You cant do it on your own. 

God’s love is not rooted in a performance-based acceptance. His love is rooted in Christ. If Christ is in you, then you are in possession of that love.

"So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope". -Tim Keller

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How is Success Measured?

How do we measure success as Christians? Some might say that your success is measured by the number of people you lead to Christ. Some might say that your success is measured by how many Christians you have discipled. While both leading people to Christ and discipling believers is an important part of what it means to be a Christian (not to mention a command), it is paramount not to fall victim to believing that your success is in any measured by numbers. 

Take a look at what Paul brings to our attention in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.”

It is important for us to remember this verse in regard to both evangelizing and discipling, that all growth comes from God. Our job is to plant, water, and then leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. We cannot force people to grow, nor can we force salvation upon them. Thats not your job. Be glad that isn’t your job.

So if success isn’t measured by the number of people we disciple, nor the amount of people we lead to Christ, then how is success measured as a Christian? Its simple: Success is measured by obedience. Theres no question whether or not you are called to share Christ. You are. But do not be discouraged when people reject the gospel that you present to them. The truth of God is foolishness to men (1 Corinthians 1:18). It takes supernatural intervention for the gospel to settle into a heart. 

A danger that many Christians face (especially those in ministry- pastors, missionaries etc.) is being shot down by the pride that comes from their own God-given success. Every good work that is done, is done by Christ in you. You are merely and instrument in the redeemers hands. Take comfort in this truth. Do away with pride. 

Be obedient to the Word of God, and get out of the way. 

The Truth About Grace

Grace is not just the foundation of your relationship with God it is way that God has called you to live with and respond to others.

There is one constant in your life  that you can bank on, God’s grace won’t be withdrawn, won’t grow weary and will never wear out.

When you convince yourself that your sin is not such a big deal you also tell yourself that grace is not all that necessary.

God’s plan for you is very different from what you would’ve had for yourself, his wisdom and grace leads you where you didn’t plan to go.

You don’t have to fear the fact that you’re weak and needy because grace has been given precisely because God knows you are.

It is only the heart-satisfying riches of the grace of Jesus that can protect you from the dissatisfying “riches” of the fallen world.

No matter how deep your sin, weakness and failure is, God’s amazing, forgiving and transforming grace is greater.

No matter how foolish and without understanding you are, no matter how confused you may be, God’s grace is greater.

It’s not the strength of your faith that saves you, but the unstoppable zeal of God’s grace.

No matter how fundamentally weak and unable you feel, no matter how long you’ve felt that way, God’s grace is greater.

The grace you have been given is grace to be extended. The grace that is God’s gift you are called to give to others.

Don’t try to turn this world into the paradise you long for. Right now you get grace to deal with this unparadise. Paradise is coming.

You and I were born “without God and without hope in this world”. Grace didn’t just alter our destiny, it changed our present identity.

You should work to develop spiritual strength, but in your weakness, God moves toward you with  amazing grace.

With God’s call comes every necessary provision, grace to face what you do not know yet is coming.

With God’s presence comes mercy, with his commands comes enabling grace.

No need unmet, no forgiveness ungiven, no wisdom withheld. GRACE.

No more condemnation, no more guilt and shame, no more separation from the Father. GRACE.

No need to fear rejection, no need to cover wrongs, no need to deny weakness. GRACE.

In the power of the storm, the percussion of the rain and the grandeur of the mountain God reveals his presence and his glory. GRACE.

It’s so easy to convince yourself that you’re more righteous than you actually are, so easy to think you’ve moved beyond forgiving grace.

If grace has purchased a place for you in paradise, then it has also guaranteed you every provision you will need along the way.

You will never work yourself into greater favor with God than what you received by grace the first moment you believed.

The situation is still the same. Your standing with God is based on grace and nothing else even though you’ve grown and changed.

Hope isn’t found in your ability to make sense out of your circumstances, but in the grace of the One who understand and rules them all.

God calls you to confess, repent, follow, and obey and then provides every grace you need to do them all.

Just accept it; you cannot measure up to God’s standard and you prove it daily. That’s why you need daily grace.

Today you’ll be tempted to attribute to yourself righteousness you don’t have, denying growth you very much need. There’s grace for this.

Grace calls you to accept the hardest news ever so that you are hungry to receive the best news ever.

Corporate worship is designed to remind you how inglorious sin and glorious grace collided on the cross in a sacrifice of life-giving hope.

Grace reveals your sins, weaknesses and failures, but never turns and uses what has been exposed against you.

By grace Jesus welcomes us into community with him and with one another where the work of his transforming grace can continue and thrive.

The storm, the trial, the disappointment are not interruptions of God’s plan of grace they are loving and effective tools of that grace.

You have moral obligations before God, but your moral achievements  have no power to gain you his acceptance. You’re saved by grace.

So much attraction the the whispers of the world. Still seeds of resistance to the call of God. So grateful for rescuing grace.

(Credited to Dr. Paul Tripp)

Regardless

Regardless,

He is not cold. Love in loss. 

An open door, a seal of trust.

I am scattered, he collects me up.

Sews me new, provides enough.

Frail and broken, scared to death.

Worlds are formed, by his breath.

Every die I walk with ruin,

And more and more his promise proven.

Nothing more that I could give,

Than broken bones and tears again.

Through places you should not have been,

You lived the life I could not live.

With love, my violent heart.

Excerpt from “Loving Your Enemies”

Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to “love your enemies.” Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you? Others, like the philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus’ exhortation to love one’s enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous. Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist.

In spite of these insistent questions and persistent objections, this command of Jesus challenges us with new urgency. Upheaval after upheaval has reminded us that modern man is traveling along a road called hate, in a journey that will bring us to destruction and damnation. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one’s enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival. Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. Jesus is not an impractical idealist: he is the practical realist.

I am certain that Jesus understood the difficulty inherent in the act of loving one’s enemy. He never joined the ranks of those who talk glibly about the easiness of the moral life. He realized that every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God. So when Jesus said “Love your enemy,” he was not unmindful of its stringent qualities. Yet he meant every word of it. Our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it out in our daily lives.

Let us be practical and ask the question, How do we love our enemies? First, we must develop and maintain the capacityto forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin theact of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflictevil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realizethat the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, therecipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness.He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters offorgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.

Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the cancelling of a debt. The words “I will forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you’ve done” never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, “I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.” Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

-MLK

Alone?

One of the biggest disservices we do to each other within the church, is failing to acknowledge failure. We’re like characters in a play, who dress up and cover our faces with masks to fool the world into thinking we’re someone we’re not. But inside we’re hurting, and we’re dealing with heavy burdens. I see a major problem within the church walls, when a room is without prayer requests, and our biggest struggles are time management and forgetting to read our Bible.

There are much bigger problems left unsaid. 

We visit our churches every week, thinking that we’re the only ones who deal with the struggle of feeling lonely, or being addicted to pornography, or using drugs, or dealing with sexual immorality, or homosexuality, or feeling bitterness and hatred, or feeling hopeless, or feeling depressed or anxious, or suicidal, or unworthy, ruined, broken, abused, forgotten. 

The truth is, our very congregation is made up of the people I’ve just mentioned. They teach our sunday schools, they lead worship, they preach sermons, they sit beside us silently in service, or they stand up and raise their hands. Its okay to be imperfect, just like me, and everyone else. Embrace each others struggles. Alone, we are broken fragments- broken people. But together, we are complete. We are a bride to a living God. You aren’t alone in your struggles. 

The church is not a museum for saints. It is a hospital for sinners. 

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

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