Monday, March 2, 2009

Just Like Visa, Accepted Anywhere!

You know what's so amazing about grace? What's truly amazing about grace is that it's given before. Before I fix my hair, before I get the right clothes, before I learn the right jargon. Before. Eh, maybe Paul says it a bit better than I can in Romans 5:8, "but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Now you catch my drift? We've been given grace before we even have a chance to clean ourselves up to picture perfection for God. He doesn't give us that chance...and praise God that He doesn't!

I've been reading this book called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It's a wonderful book on God's grace and I recommend it to anyone who has a tough time accepting it. It's not easy to accept God's mercy...not when you really consider what that acceptance implies. It implies that we have come to the end of ourselves, have admitted our ineptitude, and have given up on the ridiculous notion that we could ever save ourselves. One problem with that...PRIDE. Or more namely, SIN. It's hard for me, and I can imagine nearly every Christian, to forsake the idea of earning salvation, working for God's grace. But that doesn't work, God decreed so Himself, "For by works of the law, no human being will be justified in His sight..." Manning quotes a man by the name Paul Tillich and his words have stuck in my head since I read them, "Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted."

Despite my sin, I am accepted. Despite my eighteen year old raging hormones, I am accepted. Despite my overwhelming capacity of doubt and skepticism, I am accepted. Despite my insane habit of placing God on the back burner, I am accepted. There's nothing I can find in myself, nothing I can do, and nothing I can intend to do to earn God's acceptance. And it's too late anyway. There's nothing you can find in yourself, nothing you can do, and nothing you can intend to do to earn God's acceptance. Besides, it's too late for you too. He's beat us to the punch, He's made the first move. Before we could inevitably screw it all up, God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." Feel free to join in with me in a resounding "Praise God!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Playing the Field

 You remember that phrase, "playing the field"? People used it for individuals who would date multiple people at one time. It's a little old schooly for people around my age, but I've heard it. It's funny though, many of us may have never heard the phrase, but sadly most of us do it. I don't mean we go around falling instantly in love with everyone we meet. I mean that we are always playing the field on God, seeking lovers that we deem more satisfying than Him.

Ever read Hosea? Definitely one of my favs from the Old Testament. It's this story of a guy named Hosea who's a single old prophet dude. Well one day God tells Him to go out and marry a harlot, a professional player of the field, and have field children. Well, as ridiculous as it must have sounded, Hosea obeyed and married the lady of the night. They had children of the night. And during their marriage, Hosea's wife constantly leaves to play the field yet again. But every time as God commands, Hosea goes back and redeems her.

Sounding familiar? It should. We're all ladies and gentlemen of the night. We play the field looking for lovers to satisfy us, when it is truly only God who completely satisfies. Know why? Because as Tobymac put it, we were made to love Him. When we try to love other things more, we're miserable and left desperate from failed attempts at love. Whether we try and find it in money, clothes, accolades, or simply love from this world, we can gain it all but we'll do nothing but lose our souls in the process. We ignore and seek others and God patiently waits for us to love Him first again. Look at the words He says to Hosea in 3:1, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and loves cakes of raisin."

In the same way Hosea continues to love his wife though she's constantly unfaithful to him, God does the same with us. I don't know about this cakes of raisin stuff, but we do exchange the great fulfillment found it God for menial things found here that will never truly satisfy. Our playing of the field is useless and the game is never won. It gets old, it gets tiring. Aren't you tired? Thankfully, God promises rest for the weary, if only we turn our hearts to Him. As Augustine so rightfully said universally for all mankind, "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jesus, Take the Wheel

I've got to be honest, I'm not a fan of country music. My abundance of melanin doesn't allow me such a taste. Kidding, it isn't a racial thing, I just don't like it. Don't really like the "Jesus Take the Wheel" song either, but hey, you like it I love it. Just thought it'd be a neat title for the little story I wanted to tell you guys. This isn't something I came up with but I thought it was such a beautiful and quick allegory that is so applicable to my life right now and may be to yours as well. I don't know the precise wording so if you've heard it, forgive me for any erroneous parts I include. Well lets get to it shall we:

There was once a man and a woman(...original!). They met and began dating. Eventually the man and woman got more and more serious, became engaged and eventually were married. During their time of dating, the woman would always sit right next to the man while riding in his car. As they grew from just dating to being engaged, she unknowingly sat a little further away. As they became married and over a period of years, she gradually sat further and further away to eventually she was sitting in the passenger's seat.

One day, on the way to the grocery store, the woman looks over to the man as asks him, "We used to sit so close to each other. What happened?" The man looks over to the woman, smiles, and answers her, "Well dear, I've always sat here. It was you who moved, not me."

I couldn't believe how beautifully accurate this little story was in showing the Christian life. We are just like the wife. In the beginning we're lost in love with God, but it seems that over time that passion dies down. We slide further and further away from God until one day we look over and wonder what happened. But just like the husband, God was always right there. It was not Him who moved, it was us. And praise God that He never moves, that He's always right there waiting for us to slide back over to Him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

S.O.S.

Man have I had a rude awakening recently! I've learned so much from great ignorance on my part. I've always heard to heed other peoples' mistakes so that you don't make them yourself. Well I'll let you guys in on my own mistake, hoping that you'll heed my idiocy and run the opposite way.

It's no secret that I'm a Christian. If it wasn't obvious, now you know. I have banked my entire life on the sacrifice of Christ. He's my Savior and Rescuer. Before I became a Christian, I needed to be saved, to be rescued, and Christ fit that mold. But I think there's a tendency for people who've been rescued to forget. Forget what? I forgot that I didn't need a Savior just when I wasn't a Christian. I still need one today, and every day. In the words of Mr. Krabs from Spongebob, we need Jesus, "...the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day," (favorite episode! he does that for like five minutes...hilarious! moving on...)

My point is, don't make the mistake and forget that you need Christ daily, not just once and for all. Yes, His sacrifice was once and for all, but our sinful nature is still with us and we're needing to be rescued from it everyday. That fight against our flesh is hopeless without our Savior on our side. I forgot that and soon enough I was back into my old self. I forgot about my rescuer and I began to live like I was never rescued at all. And it's taking me great time and pain to get back to Him so please, please never forget our great God who saves, daily. Remember that without Him, we are nothing, we our hopeless, we are people drowning in our own selves. Please remember that it is Christ who rescued you and who rescues you. The cry of S.O.S., the plea for Christ to save our souls, should never cease in our daily prayers. Remember that there's never no need for a Savior.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Have A BFF...?

 Because they send you awesome stuff like this when you need it most:


I sought Him but found Him not.
Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find Him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find Him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust dwells. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, "Look for a thing where you dropped it--it is there." So look for Christ where you lost Him, for He has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us that the pilgrim found the piece of the road back to the Arbor of Ease, where he lost his roll, the hardest he had ever traveled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one mile back for the lost evidence.

Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to Him. But how is it you have lost Him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not watch Him every moment for fear of losing sight of Him? Yet, since you have let Him go, what a mercy that you are seeking Him, even though you mournfully groan, "O that I knew where I might find Him!" Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without your Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd, like a tree without water at its roots, like a withered leaf in the storm--not bound to the tree of life. With your whole heart seek Him, and He will be found by you. Only give yourself thoroughly up to the search, and truly you shall yet discover Him to your joy and gladness.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Holy Hip Hop?

Okay
, I know..random post. Even more random since I haven't written in months. It sounds even more dramatic when I say I haven't written since last year! Frankly, once you get out of the habit, it's really hard to get back into it. That's been the story of my life lately actually. Eh, but that's another post for another time. I decided to write about something that was a little controversial instead: Christian, or dare I say, Holy Hip Hop. Not to say it was completely random. Good old Piper made me think about it
here.

I am a strong proponent of Holy Hip Hop, Christian rap, or whatever we're calling it these days. I know many, including my dad, who are a little skeptical about it. I guess those types have reasonable doubt to assume such things. Considering that rap doesn't have a great rap (definitely no pun intended, I'm not that lame..), I can see why its hard for people to see how something so sinful can have anything Christian or holy about it. But you know, one would have to use that line of reason in themselves. Weren't you, weren't we something so sinful once? How on earth were we made to be Christian or holy? I think we're billions of times worse than the most crude and disgusting rap song ever created. But if Christ's blood can wash and clean people as sinful as us, I'm sure He can do it to something as insignificant as rap.

I just wanted to help present and lay the case for holy hip hop because I truly believe that it is a major force behind the new resurgence of interest in Reformed theology among youth. Here is a couple of my favorite material, directly from those "no good rapper dudes":

"We're elected and chosen, predestined just to behold Him, now I've got joy from my shoulders on down to my Achilles'. I don't need money forever, dibs of eternal inheritance, spiritual rags to riches like Beverly Hillbillies." - Lecrae, "The Truth"

"This is a call to introspection, some interjection into men's perspect since God calls them into question all their mindsets and behavioral patterns, "I gave you a pattern" He says, "But I'm afraid you're in Adam." So you're made in a manner that we called depraved in this grammar. It's just a big word to describe that you enslaved and you cannot find the power to even do the good you desire..." - Ambassador, "Free"

I could quote so many more theologically rich lyrics, but we'd be here all day. All I'm saying, is don't knock it until you try it. Yes, I know that music tends to be a cultural thing so if it's not what you're into, it's all good. I just want to show the way God is awesomely using great men like Lecrae, Ambassador, Cross Movement, 116 Clique, and countless others, who follow other great men of this movement such as John Piper, John Mac, R.C. Sproul, Sovereign Grace and other men and ministries, to glorify His name through their words. Praise God who can turn the lowest things, even us, into vessels that He graciously uses for His glory.


P.S. - I thought it'd also be cool to show you how these guys show respect for men like Piper and MacArthur.

"I got a back pack full of tracks plus I keep a Johnny Mac so we can pound it out" - Lecrae, "Jesus Muzik" referring to a MacArthur bible.

"Everybody listen up, don't just like us. Let Jesus Christ switch your life up, the mic's a tool that we use solo to end cyphers, to bring glory to God like John Piper..." - Cross Movement (Ambassador), "Clap Your Hands"

If only we all glorified God like John Piper and like these holy hip hoppers...what a cloud of witnesses we would be!