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Action Hero Jesus

This is how I see Jesus today.  This is the Jesus that I need.  I need my Action Hero Jesus.  I need a steel-faced Jesus walking away from an explosion without ever looking back.  This is the Jesus for me today.  This is who I need to be reminded of.

“Whoa, whoa.  Hold on there, OneCupOfJoe guy.  You can’t bring Jesus down to the level of a movie action hero.  That is so sacreligious.  What gives you the right?  Who do you think you are?”

Just follow me on this one.  It will make sense at the end.  Read on, my patient and forgiving readers!  This is a cool picture that God gave me about the gospel a while back, and it was brought back fresh to me this morning.

I have the privilege and undeserved honor to meet with some men much godiler than me every Thursday morning to pray for and about an area of our town that we are going to so some work in.  It is awesome.  The guy who leads the group has been doing this for years in a church planting ministry.  It is new to me, but John has an awesome way of talking to God and leading other to do the same.  Like I said, it truly is a privilege to be a part of this.

Since today is Thursday, I was up praying with these guys at six this morning.  I drove to the place we pray with the Sun just coming up over the horizon.  It was cool.  John usually starts with us praying “the truth about ourselves,” which is when we are in confession mode, and then this is followed by various ways he feels led to have us pray.  This morning we did a time of praise, and as a part of this all three of us were just led to pray and thank Jesus for his sacrafice.   In essence, we all prayed the gospel to ourselves and each other.  It was REALLY awesome!

This is where my Action Hero Jesus comes in.

A couple of months ago, I was reading a book called King’s Cross by Timothy Keller (a MUST read, in my opinion, he goes through the book of Mark but in a way I have never been taught before…the insights and connections are amazing…seriously, give it a read).  As I was drinking in all that Tim Keller had to offer, something really resounded with my soul.  God used it took the thought even further in my heart.

King’s Cross, Chapter 18, “The Beginning,” somewhere towards the middle:

 “Jesus had risen, just as he told them he would.  After a criminal does his time in jail and fully satisfies the sentence, the law no more has claim on him and he walks free.  Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins.  That was an infinite sentence, but he must have satisified it fully, because on Easter Sunday he walked free.  The resurrection was God’s way of stamping PAID IN FULL right across history so that no one could miss it.”

Wow.  That thought alone amazed me.  I had never thought about Christ’s sacrafice and the resurrection like that before.  I paused in my reading there and just sat in awe and wonder.  If that were not enough, the Spirit spoke to my heart and continued painting the picture.

The thought that came to heart/mind was, “Not only did he walk out of prison after completing the sentence for your crimes, he walked out with the keys to the jail in his hand and the building crumbled behind him as he walked out.  It was done.  It was over.  It was finished for you, Joe.”

Obviously, I was done reading for that night!  I spent time in worship over that thought.  Wow.  How wonderful?!  This is the picture of what Jesus did that I need.  I need to be reminded that I am done to sin.  It no longer has a hold on me.  I am free to love.  I am free to give.  I am free to serve.  I can’t be condemned for my sin anymore because, for me, the prison to hold me in is not there.  The creator of the prison served my jail time.  When he was done they had to close the place down!

Back to this morning.  While we were praying the gospel, this picture came back.  Only this time the Spirit added to it.  As I prayed about Jesus leaving the prison of my sin with the key in his hand and the building crumbling behind him, this time I saw the stereotypical picture of Jesus that has been fimly ingrained over the years (long hair/beard, white tunic, blue sash…you know the one I am talking about) walking away with a firm look on his face and the jail exploding behind him.  Just like the picture above but the old school Jesus in Wolverine’s place.  That picture has been in my head all day since.  And it is awesome.  It is just the Spirit reminding me that it is all really finished.  I am right with God.  Thank you, Jesus!

So anyhow, that is who I need to be reminded of today.  I need to remember my freedom from sin.  I need my Action Hero Jesus walking away from finishing my punishment with an exploding prison in his background.

I will close with a bit of Romans (sorry, it is what I am reading right now, so it will be what I quote).  I won’t type it here, but go check it out: Romans 8:1-11.

What do you think about this?  Do you need to think about Jesus in this way sometimes?  Does this give you a new view on our freedom from sin?

Performancing Metrics

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Gospel and Faith, Sin

 

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The Leaves That Left

Yesterday’s post was a bit heavy (and I know, a bit long).  I decided I probably ought to follow it up with some good news…in the form of a shorter post.  Luckily, God gave me a cool little epiphany moment on the way to church on Sunday.  Let me let you in on it.  Before you read this, if you haven’t read yesterday’s post go there first and read it then come back.

Welcome back!

Now, it all starts with the “Big Red Truck.”

I put quotations around that because that is the truck’s name in our house.  NB loves that truck.  He would ride in it anywhere and everywhere if he could.  When ever we go somewhere he always stands by the steps to our upper driveway and says, “Drive Big Red Tuck?”  He is always a bit disappointed when the answer is no.

This Sunday, I had to go to church early to help out with the children’s program.  When I told NB at breakfast that I was going in the Big Red Truck but he had to stay with Mommy and Nana (LA’s mom), his face fell.  I reassured him that we would take a ride in it soon, and he cheered up.

So, I get in the truck for a 15ish minute drive to church.  I have been home with NB most of the summer (I am a teacher with summers off), and so alone time driving is not something I have experienced in a while.  It is amazing how easy it is to hear him speak when you are alone in quiet (the radio doesn’t work) and how he can use the smallest thing to trigger a huge lesson.

You can’t drive much higher than 45 mph on most of the roads to church.  As I was riding down the road, I saw something out of the corner in of my eye through the rear view mirror.  When I went to get a closer look, it was gone.

A minute or so later, there it was again.  And once more, when I looked it was gone.

It happened once more, movement in the bed of the truck.  This time I looked up quick enough.  Leaves were moving all around the bed of the truck.  I was driving just fast enough to cause a cyclone of air back there.  Leaves from when we hauled some plants were caught in the cyclone.  What had caught my eye was not the spinning leaves, though.  I was seeing the leaves that got away.

Please allow me to drop some science on you for a second…I am a science teacher, that is my job.  What was happening in the back of the truck was the space between the cab and the gate caused air to get trapped.  The trapped air moves in a circle (cylcone…I like that word better).  This is by design.  The air cyclone moves slower than the air moving over the truck as it travels.  The faster air glances off of slower air, and this increases the aerodynamics (and the gas mileage) of the truck.

So anyway, I was watching the leaves as they spun (still watching the road, too) and more leaves escape.  As I was looking at this, God spoke to my heart, “That is you.”

“How?” I sliently thought.

Over the next couple of minutes, God showed me some of the sin cycles that I get caught up in.  The things that I am constantly fighting against.  The “snakes” that I so desperately need to clear out of my life (laziness and pride being cheif among these right now).  Then he reminded me that I am powerless to do this on my own.  I can’t win.  I am stuck.  On my own I will always be trapped, moving slowly in the cyclone of self…God’s fast moving love and grace just glances off and moves on.  I have to stop trying to stop the cycle on my own.  I have to let his kindness and love in.

When I do.  When I invite God into my struggles, through confession, I allow him to enter in.  The Spirit moves into my cyclone and  this allows me to break free.  Only through the power of the Spirit.  Only when I invite his grace in.  Only when I am honest before him.  This humbles me, breaks up the cycle, and this allows me to fly away.

Check out Romans 8:1-12.  I am just going to quote part of it, but read the rest on your own.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)   And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[d] because you have been made right with God.   The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  Romans 8:9-11.

You can be free.  You can break the cycle.  Yes, we HAVE to work on getting rid of the “snakes” in our lives, but we also HAVE to know that we don’t have to do this alone.  We can’t.  Jesus died and was raised again.  That same power that raised him from the dead will break the chains that trap us in the sin cycle.  Please call out to him!  Please turn to God with whatever has you trapped.  Trust him.  He will help you break free.

A side note, tonight I was driving in the Big Red Truck tonight and going to church for a meeting.  On the way there and back, I kept seeing less and less leaves as more and more broke loose and got away.  There is hope!  God can break our sin cycles and free us from them one by one!

Did this speak to you?  Have you found freedom from sin cyclones by inviting God into your stuggle?  Tell me about it  You don’t have to get details…just talk about your freedom!

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The Great Coffee Famine of 2011

About two and a half weeks ago I was challenged to do something.  My chiropractor has been talking to me for years about drinking coffee.  He knows that I have been drinking way too much (several cups a day), and he pushed me once more to give it up.  We talked about addictions and the health effects of coffee drinking.  It is a diuretic, and without coffee I barely drink enough water every day already (putting aside the recent news that the minimum amount of water that have come up in the last couple of weeks).  Long story short, he convinced me that coffee has been putting me in a water deficit.  On somewhat of a whim that day, I decided to stop drinking it cold turkey (mmmmm…cold turkey).

Now, let me in on how big of a deal this is for me.  I love coffee.  I don’t just drink it because I like the caffine boost, which I do…decaffinated coffee is pointless to me.  I actually love the experience of drinking coffee.  Smelling it.  Breathing it in.  Tasting it.  It doesn’t matter how hot the temperature is outside, a cup of steaming hot coffee gets my day off right.

More than this, I love coffee enough to be very picky about my coffee.  It must be black (nothing in it), and it must be GOOD coffee.  I am what some may call a “coffee snob.”  I don’t like it from resturants, for the most part, and I usually feel like I have to make it myself to have a good cup.  I will go out of my way to buy great coffee beans, and I even have a coffee pot that will grind the beans for me.  I can smell the delicious aroma of great coffee in my mind as I write this.

I obviously have a passion for coffee.  The problem was, and I agree with this, my passion was a borderline addiction.  The other side of my love of coffee is the amount I would drink.  I am pretty sure my average was hovering between four to six cups on a normal day, and possibly a lot more on some days, especially during the school year.  This was not a healthy relationship with my beloved drink, to say the least.

It was hard, but I committed to stopping.  On Facebook I gave updates on the progress every other day for the first week or so.  My body took awhile to adjust, but it did.  I stopped thinking about it.  I stopped wanting it all the time.  I was even able to make a pot for my parents when they visited without being overly tempted to drink some.

I made it from one trip to the chiropractor to the next, about two and a half weeks.  I was very proud of myself, but something occured to me.

I had a sudden realization, I gave up coffee but somewhere inside of me I was always thinking about it…even if that thinking was only thinking about how well I was doing in not drinking it.  This seemed odd to me, so I started to think about my motivation for not drinking coffee.  As I did this, all I could come up with is that I drank too much and it kept me from drinking enough water.  This did not balance out with my obvious love of coffee…something God created and is okay, in moderation.

A story about Peter in the book of Acts came to mind when he was challenged by God, in Acts 10.   Summary of the story: Peter was praying, a sheet came down from heaven covered in animals, a voice said “Kill and eat”, Peter said, “I have never eaten anything unclean”, the voice said “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  The story goes on to talk about how God opened the Gospel to the Gentiles and did so through Peter (and Paul).

I know it is a bit of a stretch, but it showed me something in my approach to coffee.  It was focus.  There was no real, hardfast reason for me to give up coffee outside of the vague idea of too much coffee and not enough water.  It made me think about coffee all of the time, even more so than I was thinking about it too much.  Coffee is not a sin.  It is not something to battle over my flesh with.  I was fighting it in my own strength, and in doing so it almost made it want it more than I did before.

Here comes the big lesson.  Sin.  When I focus on fighting my sin on my own, in my own strength, I fail most often.  I focus on the Law.  The Law that makes me guilty before God.  My reasoning is that I need to follow the Law and because sin puts me in a “deficit” before God.  That is the WHY I am battling my flesh.  This makes me focus on it even more, and more likely to fail.

I need to realize I do not have to fight against sin.  I am dead to sin.  I am dead to the Law.  The Law was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.  I do not have to battle my flesh to be made right with God.  Jesus “balanced” my “deficit” with God.  I battle with my flesh, not because I HAVE to, but because I now can, sin no longer has a hold on me.  I can discipline myself now because I am free to and because I am given power to do so by the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead and who gives me the strength I do not have.

Coming back to coffee, I have decided to have one cup a day.  No more.  Less is okay.  I will drink extra water on the days I drink coffee.  It is no longer a struggle.  I can have the taste I love, but it now longer has the hold on me it had.  I am not focused on it because I now have a balance.  Mmmmm…coffee.

This, by the way, is the inspiration for the name of my blog: One Cup of Joe.

Performancing Metrics

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Sin

 

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