Monthly Archives: November 2010

May Our Hearts Be Turned

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I have a friend named Chip. He’s a chaplain in the Army. Over breakfast one morning he told me that one of his chief ambitions in life was to marry a woman so far out of his league that when people would see them together they would say “How in the world did he get her?”

I laughed when I initially heard of his goal. What a ridiculous thing to strive for. But about a month later, something sparked that conversation in my memory and instead of laughing, I felt an odd weight of conviction. Suddenly, I recalled times when I have seen what society would say was an “unevenly matched couple” and I would think to myself “Wow, he must have a great personality to make up for…”

It was in that moment that Lord gently, but firmly whispered,

You have the same reaction when you see an unlikely soul walk into Church on Sunday mornings.  You turn your head in astonishment as if to say that they are too much for Me to redeem. You turn your head, but not your heart. Be careful, Mere.

Have you ever noticed how beautifully terrifying a deeper relationship with Christ can be?

It is a beautiful thing to experience grace, to receive mercy; to be clothed in robes of righteousness and covered in garments of salvation.  To be declared holy, blameless, and pure.

It’s breathtaking to realize that you are loved endlessly and without cause by the very Creator of the universe. To know that you have captured the heart of a King. You have been chosen by name, set apart since the beginning of time, to be the recipient of a limitless and unfathomable love.

But in all of this undeserved glory and redemption, something becomes painstakingly clear. As we bask in the light of His grace, the veil is lifted and we can see with perfect clarity the depth and breadth of our depravity were it not for His gracious intervention.

As we draw closer to Him, growing more acquainted with his nature and seeking to harvest the fruit of His Spirit in our own lives, does it not become paralyzing obvious how unnatural His nature is in us? Is it not blindingly apparent how desperately we must depend on His grace and mercy in order that we might live as He has called us to?

In the light of His holiness, does not our sin become more evident?

If we are all honest, we would answer yes. And if we would continue to be honest, then we must ask our selves this question: If He invited and accepted me, as I am, what on earth would make me think that His grace and salvation are not enough for the next person? Who am I to say that this person’s sin outweighs the power of the Cross?

May we never forget who we were before Christ and may we always remember that His redemption is for every man.

It’s Not Them… It’s Us

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Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of Charity Water, spoke at Catalyst in October. A former party planner, and NYC nightlife guru, paid to be seen drinking Vodka and wearing Rolex watches, you would think Scott would be the last person to care of people living in poverty.

Burn out, fed up, and “spiritually bankrupt,” Scott went on a 5 month trip to Africa as a photographer in conjunction with Mercy Ships.  Separated from all comforts familiar to him and removed from any sense normalcy, he encountered poverty for the first time. 

As he shared the rest of his story, he posed this simple question to himself: “How did I go so long without knowing? Why did I never know before?”

“It’s not because I didn’t care about the poor. It’s not because I was belligerently trying to ignore the need,” he said. “I just hadn’t been told the right story. I hadn’t been exposed to the entire truth.”

It’s been well over a month now since the Catalyst Conference and I have not been able to get his words out of my head.

 I just hadn’t been told the right story. I hadn’t been exposed to the entire truth.

I can not help but think that so many people who have come to Christ, either later in life or without any testimony by another believer, might make the same statement.

Non-profit organizations are popping up all over the place these days.  Being charitable, concerned about “global justice issues,” food shortages, dirty water, sex-trafficking, and the like are suddenly trendy.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am grateful for the activism, acknowledgement and generosity of so many because it truly is making an incredible difference and impacting millions of lives all over the world. 

I just have one question: Do we see friends, family members, and strangers in elevators as living souls? Do we care if they know Jesus? Do we feel compelled to help them hear, see, and understand the truth and power of His Gospel?

If I looked at people in my life through the lens of eternity, would I be as motivated to share with them the good news as the millions of young adults that are so eager to bring clean water to people in poverty?

Is a soul’s destination not as critical? Is not as urgent?

 I do not think I believe that people who don’t know Christ and His salvation have truly rejected Him.

I think, perhaps, they haven’t been told the entire story.

I think, maybe, they haven’t been given the whole truth.

And if that’s the one thing we know for certain, it should be the one thing we never fail to give out.

Music Monday

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Alright… I need to preapologize for the sap that is coming your way.

If you have read this blog more than once, or know me at all, you have picked up that I am a hopeless romantic. I can’t help it. And the pills aren’t helping.

So… here it goes. One of my favorites,  by one of my favorite artists, Chris Rice.

Waves of Grace

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I love the mountains. I like looking at them. I like hiking through them. I like them from a distance. I like them up close.  There is something about their size, grandeur, and unpredictability that is absolutely captivating to me. Needless to say, I prefer mountains to water.

However, I can’t help but remember a trip I took to Hawaii years ago after high school graduation. My parents decided to stay on the boarded sidewalk and I wandered toward the sand beyond our resort. My dad used to always tell me to “blaze your own trail,” and so I find sidewalks overrated.  

I walked along the shore, letting the gentle waves wash over my feet and the breeze play with my hair. I vividly remember taking deep, slow breaths, and basking in the aroma that filled the air and soaking in the symphony that was composed on that Kauai beach.  

As I stopped to stand still  in that moment, doing my best to take heart picture of the peace I felt, a wave crashed over my ankles and my feet sank deep into the sand.  The sand tickled as it settled between my toes and as the water receded, it became firm, securing itself around me.

Another wave came, forcing its’ way in between the sand and my feet, causing my feet to sink deeper still.  And as it that wave receded, more sanded covered my feet and solidified by stance. I was surprisingly secure and stable. My feet were deeply planted and despite various waves that came and went, I stood perfectly still.

Then I got to thinking.

That’s life for the believer.

Waves of change come. Relationships end. Jobs are lost. Hearts are broken. Sickness threatens well-being. Loneliness masks opportunity. Visions of the future are obscured by the bleak views of the present. Waves come. They stir what was settled and they provoke you to raise a foot; to sidestep their approach.

I would know because I am a master-sidestepper. I have a black belt in avoidance. It’s tragic really. Because every time I raise my foot and replant it, it rests on the surface, completely vulnerable.  But if I, if we would all, just stand still and let the water wash over our feet, pressing us deeper into the love, grace, and truth of Christ, we would be steadied. In the midst of change, we would be solidified in our foundation–that is our faith.

I know have a tendency to take various forms of nature and make really ridiculous metaphors out of them, but… that’s just me.

There’s this song called “Washed by the Water” by my favorite band, NEEDTOBREATHE. And the chorus simply says,

Even when the rain falls,
Even when the flood starts rising,
Even when the storm comes,
I am washed by the water.

Water cleanses us; it refreshes and revives us. Throughout scripture, the image of water is used to bring renrewel and life to that stagnate and lifeless. Whatever a wave may bring, may we learn to anticipate the old life is will wash away and the renewed faith it will produce.

Have a listen…

To Take Away Our Condemnation

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I read something the other day that I can not get enough of. And for fear of diluting it, I’m just going to copy it straight out of his book, and give it to you untainted. What follow is an excerpt out of John Piper’s book, “The Passion of The Christ.”

The great conclusion to the suffering and death of Christ is this: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). To be “in Christ” means to be in relationship to Him by faith. Faith in Christ unites us to Christ so that His death becomes our death and His perfection becomes our perfection. Christ becomes our punishment (which we don’t have to bear) and our perfection (which we can not perform).

Faith is no the ground of our acceptable with God. Christ alone is. Faith unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours. “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ in order to be justified by faith in Christ and no by the works of the law, because by works of the law no one can be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Being “justified by faith” and being “justified in Christ” are parallel terms. We are in Christ by faith, and therefore justified.

When the question is asked, “Who is to condemn?” the answer is assumed. No one! Then the basis is declared: “Christ Jesus is the one who died!” The death of Christ secures our freedom from condemnation. It is as sure that we cannot be condemned as it is sure that Christ died. There is no double jeopardy in God’s court. We will not be condemned twice for the same offenses. Christ has died once for our sins. We will not be condemned for them. Condemnation is gone not because there isn’t any, but because it has already happened.

But what about condemnation by the world? Is that no an answer to the question, “Who is to condemn?” Aren’t Christians condemned by the world?There have been many martyrs. The answer is that no one can condemn us successfully.  Charges can be brought, but none will stick in the end. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). It’s the same as when the Bible asks “Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35). The answer is not that these things don’t happen to Christians. The answer is: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The world will bring condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). No one successfully. If they reject us, He accepts us. If they hate us, He loves us. If they imprison us, He sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, He refines us by the fire. If they kill us, He makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in Him. An in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous.

“And the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).