Monday, April 9, 2018

Sinclination

It's always fun to play a bit with words. One of the things most apparent about us human beings is our tendency to sin. It is said that we are sinful in the womb, and though I would probably choose to debate that idea, I believe in the notion of a sin nature that we are born with, dating way back to the original sin.

If we honestly look into our behaviors and into our hearts, we have to agree that we sin. It isn't that we are guilty of the BIG sins, necessarily, but there are countless "respectable" sins, to borrow a phrase, that we deal with daily. These are, it seems to me, the ones that many find most difficult to really repent on. These sins just keep popping up, sometimes without our actually intending them.

Now if we believe that God truly abhors all sin, and we wish to worship Him with our lives, this Sinclination creates an issue. It gets even more complicated when we realize that God knows us completely- He even knows that we are going to sin before the sin occurs.
He doesn't accept any sin; yet, and this is the key, He provided for a way that our sins could be forgiven. He provided for a way for us to be in a relationship with Him through the atoning death of His son, Jesus, on the cross.

It was and is the ONLY way that our sinclination could ever have been dealt with- He became, through a plan devised before the beginning of time, the one to save us from the wrath He holds against evil, darkness, sin. He provided a light, life and an answer that only He could provide. We are blessed beyond words that He has initiated this life-saving and life-changing outreach.

So it is also important, I believe, to understand that even after we accept this Gift, come to believe upon His son and become 'sons' adopted into the church family of God, we will continue to battle this sinclination. We need to work with the Holy Spirit to guard against the problem of sinning, but we also need to be secure in the fact that God has forgiven our sins, past, present, and yes, future. They were forgiven, are forgiven and will be forgiven because God has chosen to love us sinners, not our sins.

Sinclination- a problem, a reality and a battle. Alone, we will not make a lot of progress. With the Spirit, we are on a journey to eradicate sin, a journey of sanctification, a journey of love.

Praise our God!




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

To Whom Do We Belong?

Well, in my seventieth year, I have become the only surviving member of my nuclear family. My parents and both brothers have gone on from this existence to, I hope, wait for me in Heaven. It is truly a weird feeling.

When one thinks about it, every situation we find ourselves in, as members, is truly temporary. My career was teaching in public schools which I did for thirty-four years before retiring. How weird it felt to walk out of that building realizing that the school would go on without me as a member of the faculty.

I have been blessed with a daughter I truly love, her husband, my son-in-law,and a glorious grand-daughter who I just wish you could meet. I so enjoy being in their presence; yet I get grumpy when I do not see them enough. Yet, I know the time is coming, it is inevitable, when we will no longer be together.

You know the old saying: I cane into the world naked and alone, and I will be leaving in much the same way.

Let's face it- belonging is probably a primary need for almost any person. Being loved and giving love to people who we value and to whom we wish to be of value, in return.

Feeling lonely? It is a bit hard to comprehend.

Yet, we really belong to the One who created us. We are His because He formed us in the womb, stamped His presence on our hearts and sustains us from conception to our last breath. Nothing temporary, here. In some magical way, through the greatest love ever known, He holds us in His hands and brings us, eventually, to Him simply because we
are His children.

As His children, each of us must accept a return to His presence. We must reach out to belong to the One who was always meant to include us. We weren't created on a whim; we were created with a purpose, designed by the Potter. It's all written. It's the eternal
promise and purpose. WE belong, in the end, to Him.

Praise our God!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Being like Jesus

We often hear that we need to be like Jesus, grow into being more like Jesus, be Christ-like.
I need to be careful, here, because the above would be so very wonderful and, obviously, different.

Jesus was and is counter-intuitive. One only needs to read His words in the Bible and follow His actions during His ministry, right down to the very last words to see that He doesn't operate at all like we do. No one has been like Jesus!

The issues are two-fold. One, He is GOD! God, by His own definition, is OTHER. He is totally different from His created to the point of being quite impossible to define or even clearly understand. We simply cannot be God. There are some people who walk this world with the misconception that they, in fact, are like God, but that is not true and leads to a serious set of problems, eternally.

Two, He is sinless and perfect. Sin is in our bones, if you will. Even the most wonderful Christians in this world continue to sin because of the nature of the flesh. Try as we may, we will not eradicate sin from our lives while we walk this planet.

So, here is the rub. To set a goal to be like Jesus is to set a goal that cannot and will not be achievable. I would suggest, and this is just me, that even at the point of Sanctification, we will still not be like Jesus because we will not be God.

The point is that we need to be careful not to define our walk by such an unreachable set of expectations. Do we need to wonder in awe at the very way Jesus lived? Yes. Do we need to pray to the Spirit that He will work with us to be more loving of our fellow man and appreciative of God's blessings? Yes. To emulate is not to be equal. 

The wonderful truth is that we will someday, through no work of our own, be face-to-face with a God who loved us enough to send His Son to die so that we might abide and live in His presence.

Glorious! Praise God!

Monday, March 12, 2018

We all need to Go Back....

Referencing an old Byrds tune, "Going Back." The song essentially refers to returning to the simplicity and innocence of youth. 

If we take Jesus at His word, it appears that we are in need of being like children even to gain the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus frequently admonishes his disciples to allow the children access to Him.  Our church contains a print of Jesus, looking very European, gathering a group of children to Himself. The point is that there most be a set of characteristics found in children that we would want to emulate as adults.

The terms child-like and childish are obviously quite different. For an adult to be childish, one must return to behaviors that I am sure Jesus isn't championing, here. We all know that there is a wearing down of characteristics like trust, surrender, lack of concern and worry and unconditional love that accompanies getting older and dealing with the stresses and responsibilities of this life. 

We cannot say that little ones are not affected by sin; yet, it would seem that their sins, especially at an early age, are innocent of pre-meditation.

So how is it that we can revert or turn back to a more child-like existence, as the Lord Jesus seems to be stressing? I would suggest that those who have accepted Christ and been ind-welled by His Spirit are well on their way to being more Christ-like and, I would add, child-like in their hearts. The Fruit of the Spirit are, in many ways, representations of a heart that thinks like a child. These are wonderful sign-boards that point toward Sanctification of those who are a part of God's blessed Kingdom

Can we make these changes on our own? I would suggest that the answer is 'No." Like so many things, God must be the One who initiates and supports a changed heart and a desire to love others and worship God.

So let's Go Back. We don't give up adult responsibilities and issues. We do look backward to
a living style that is more full of hope and excitement, joy and love. It's not so very difficult.
Just takes a desire to be like a child.

Praise our God.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

God's messed up, broken, wonderful creation

It's a messed up world out there! One really can see this, quite easily, while driving in traffic or in interpersonal relationships. God's perfect creation was tainted by sin, broken and cursed. What was it meant to be like? Scripture hints at it, Jesus embodies it and Revelation promises a re-creation, of sorts.

Yet....   There are countless, breath-taking examples of God's magnificent creative abilities. One can see this, quite easily, as well. My favorite scenario: A walk in a piney woods perhaps in the Great Smokies, just taking in the sounds, sights and smells. The peacefulness that comes from siting beside a stream and just taking it in. The smell and feel of a baby, the energy and naivete of a toddler, snuggling along with a favorite pet. Can you imagine the list we could make of the beauty all around us? Want to make one?

The same concepts can be associated with us humans. WE aren't what we were intended to be, are we? We are haunted by our flesh, our sin nature. We were born with it, and with it comes a life-long battle to overcome it. We don't do what we internally realize we ought, as Paul suggests. It is frustrating.

Yet....   There is glorious freedom in knowing that God has created us with a value based simply upon His Glory. We are loved and valued. He has sent His begotten into the world to provide us with forgiveness. He has patiently waited for us to hear his voice, feel His welcome and accept His Grace. So we live with this battle between who we are and who we were meant to be.

There is wonderful beauty and hope in this creation. It will be even better; so much better that we cannot even imagine it. Thus with us. We will be resurrected and new, yet we have inherent value in being God's children. That hope spurs us on to work at living a life that glorifies a most amazing Creator, Father and King.

Praise our God.

Monday, January 8, 2018

It's worth the try, but do not expect success!

Sin.
It's nasty. Pervasive. AND God does not accept or condone any of it!

In His wondrous grace, He fashioned a plan to send His son as the only possible solution for the chasm between Himself and His created. It would only work if Christ was completely able to do His will. 

He Was! Praise God.

So, what do we, then, about the fact that we still sin... daily. We have been changed, forgiven in Christ, who God actually sees when He looks upon us. Righteousness of Christ- not our own flawed righteousness.

Out of appreciation and gratitude for this Grace, we are tasked with joining the Spirit in eliminating sin. We are on a path, with the Spirit, to Sanctification or Holiness, a path that leads towards Christ-likeness.

YET.... WE still sin. Within us remains the tainted flesh, the sin nature constantly in conflict with our attempts to eradicate it. Alone, we cannot do it. Even with the Spirit of God, it remains a conflict- daily.

Do we just give in? Not if we adore Christ!
Do we find guilt daily in our inability to overcome sin? Not if we trust that we are Forgiven forever.
Do we work at every possible means of turning away from those actions that God abhors? Absolutely.

We owe complete effort ,along with the realization that we cannot be separated from the grace of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest.

Keep the fight! You are loved by God.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

So WHO really will be saved?

There could not be a more controversial topic, when discussing theology, than the topic of the width and breadth of salvation. I will admit, right here, reader, that I do NOT have than answer, but I do have some thoughts. I will bet that you do, too.

The determiner: GOD. He is, after all, sovereign over creation which includes the events that occur within His domain. It's all His. He can do with it what He desires. That immediately bothers some folks. It used to bother me, a bit, but not anymore.

Because God is in charge, He can play by whatever rules He determines. When we read the Bible, we are faced with the concept of election or predestination. It is there in the Scriptures. God has, it seems, chosen those who will populate His Church, before the beginning of time. He is in possession of the Book of Life, and names will appear there that determine salvation.

Since we are called to go out into a darkened world and seek disciples, it would therefore make sense that those folks we encounter are ones that God has placed before us. He, not we, brings faith and eventual transformation to these people, but He uses you and me to make a connection. We get the ball rolling, as it were. We start the ripple. He then works out salvation through His saving Grace.

Will everyone who calls on the name of the Lord be saved? Not, it seems to me, according to Jesus, Himself. He says that many will say, "Lord, Lord..." There will be many of those who He fails to recognize because He reads their hearts. They, it seems, were not meant to be among those destined to be in God's royal family.

There must be an acceptance on our parts; we must want to be saved, but getting back to God's overarching foreknowledge, He already knew what our response would be. 

Unfair? Only by man's standards. These are God's standards, and He is free to do His will. That child who is still born, that infant who dies before the age of accountability? God has that covered.

IF we have been regenerated, transformed in the heart, made alive in Christ... how wonderful is that? Lucky? No. Fortunate? Yes. Blessed beyond words by a grace that is bigger than any of our sins.

Praise God!