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the sinners prayer PART III

I am back among the blogger living.  At least for another week or so.  It has been a busy school year as a teacher and a father of a now almost one year-old and almost four year-old.  But, I have finally found some time (winter break) to do a little writing.  So now it is time for the final installment of what God has taught me about the sinner’s prayer.

For a refresher, go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 and then come back.

Are you back?  Great!  Here we go.

Quick summary (in case you did not go read):

  • Part 1- I am amazingly disobedient and selfish toward God, and he is exceedingly patient and loving towards me.  His “no” and discipline it is out of love and care for my soul.
  • Part 2- Being a Christian and my hope of salvation is not built on a moment in time when I “did” something.  It is not a prayer, a pastor handshake, or a dip in water.  It is a life marked by change that can only be explained by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, I am a destable sinner in utter need of the saving, life changing gracce that is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  And that circle me back around to the original thought that sparked the start of this series of posts.  The sinner’s prayer and what it means for my life today.

The basics of the sinners prayer is communicating this to God:

  • We realize our sinfulness and inablity to do anything about it.
  • We know our separation from God because of this sinfulness.
  • We accept and believe that Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and came back to life again…and that he did this all to make us right with God.
  • We commit to a life of loving, trusting, and believing God and following him.

Some of us were lead through prescribed prayers that cover all of this, some of us were given the basics and encouraged to pray from our heart, and others may even have just been lead to pray without any leading at all.  But the gest of it is that we acknowledge that we are sinners separated from God, Jesus paid the price for our sin before God, and that we will live in trust of this and follow where he leads our lives.  The sinner’s prayer.  Basic and simple.  Proof of a change of heart.

“CupofJoe Guy, we get it.  What’s your point?”

Well, my getting irrated with the comment I mentioned that I read on Facebook (mentioned in Part II), led God to work on my heart.  Why did the overemphasis on the prayer itself bother me so much?  What was wrong with my heart that this was such a big deal?

God started to burn in my heart and mind the idea of the simplicity of the sinner’s prayer.  If the evidence of my salvation is a marked life with change and not a momentary prayer, how am I doing with that?  What does my life look like?  Am I characterized by this change of heart and life?

Slowly, the fact was impressed upon me that the sinner’s prayer is for me.  It is about me.  It is about my relationship with God.  Not the time I said it when I was six, but it is about my daily relationship with him.  Do I start each day with an admittance of my sinfulness and separation, a renewal of trust in Jesus sacrafice and resurrection, and a commitment to follow and trust him?

I don’t.  I live many days without any thoughts in this direction.  I am so focused on my day-to-day life that my relationship with God is mostly an afterthought if I give it any thought at all.  God gave me the realization that I need to begin each morning with the sinner’s prayer.  I need to start each day fresh.  I need to live each day in trust of Jesus.  I need to remind myself of that.  I need to preach the gospel to myself, accept it, and pray to admit and commit that day to follow God.

Have I lived each day this way since these revelations?  No.  But I have somewhere to start from each day, and I pray that it will become a daily instinct to one day start each day this way.

I know it has taken a long time to finish this thought, blogwise, but hopefully God will use the lesson God taught me to help you in your daily relationship with him.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, I am a sinner.  I am sperated from you based on anything I do or offer of myself.  Only Jesus was able to live a life that did not deserve death.  I know that his death on the cross allowed him to take my sin and your wrath.  I believe that he really died and was truly raised again.  I commit to you today.  Help me follow you today.  Please lead me and help me to obey.  I love you.  your son, joe

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the sinner’s prayer PART II

Okay, finally the long awaited sequel to my last post…okay, there is probably no one waiting on pins and needles, but here it is.  It has taken me much longer to find the time to write than I hoped.  If you haven’t read the original post, go read the sinner’s prayer and then come back.

Parenthood has taught me that trust is the key.  My son does not want to trust that my wife and I actually care and are out for his better good.  He can only see what he wants or thinks that he needs.  This leads to a lot of headaches.  However, if I remember that trust is the key to his heart, it makes the conversations and decisions that need to be had and made so much easier.

The stuggles with this combined with a personal soapbox of mine a month or so ago…and God used this to start a little revolution in my heart.

A friend on Facebook shared about an event at church or a camp (I don’t remember which), during which a large group of people “accepted” Christ and “prayed the sinner’s prayer.”  I don’t put these in quotes to belittle these two things, but I do it to emphasize what my issue is that has become a soapbox.

I grew up in a chruch tradition where getting people to “accept Christ” and “pray the prayer” was the ultimate goal.  There was acknowlegement of the need to disciple people, but the practice was that “coming to faith” was the greater goal.  Not that there is anything wrong with this.  But, I have come to having a growing uneasiness about the concentration on the “moment” of becoming a Christian that his leads to.

There are two by-products that can come from this, that I know can cause some major issues.  One is that some people think that if they go through the action of praying the sinner’s prayer, and even follow it up with a short time of religious zeal, that this is enough evidence that they are right with God and have secured their ticket to Heaven.  What is done the rest of their lives does not matter as long as they can look back to that one moment or short span of time.    They can live the rest of their lives however they want, as long as they know that at one point they “accepted Christ into their heart.”  They can go on living or thinking how they did before, as long as they have their Heaven pass and maybe go to church ever once in a while.   There are a lot of people that think that this is okay, and even people who really are Christians that look to this for comfort about loved ones that may not truly be.

I know I am asking for backlash as I get into this, but hear me out…please.

I do not think the Bible supports this.  There is eobviously going to be a moment in time when someone truly believes and the Spirit comes to live in his or her heart.  This is clear.  I just don’t think that the emphasis needs to be on that moment in time, but on the evidence that this change brings.  Jesus, in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), talked about the idea that not every heart that hears his message and accepts it will truly take hold of it.  There is the group of people that will hear it and not accept it and three groups that will accept it, but there was only one group that held on to it and changed.  The evidence was in the growth.

Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.  The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

The last sentence sums it all up…those who truly believe are those that produce a harvest.  The harvest, I believe, is the heart change that proves a new life in Christ…and when someone is truly changed, it will spread to others…and this spreading is when there is a harvest bigger than the seed that was planted.  One heart changed, and I mean really changed, will lead to the heart change of others.

Now, let me just do a quick side note.  I am not saying that what we do (good or bad) can change our standing with God.  We can never be good enough.  So when a person continues living the way they did before they “prayed the prayer”…what they are doing is not what keeps them from Heaven.  Going to church every time the doors are open and living a “Christian lifesyle” does not guarantee a right standing with God.  Only Jesus sacrafice on the cross can do this.  Jesus lived the life that we couldn’t…never breaking God’s law and living out of total trust in the Father…and then he died on the cross.  Jesus did not have to die.  He was not under the curse of death because he never broke the law that death is the penalty for…so dying at all was not in the cards for him.  This freed him up to die in our place.  To take our punishment…our curse on himself.

More than that, he died a gruesome death.  A torturous death.  He did this because he not only took our curse, but he also took the wrath of God in our place.  This was because we, as humans, have come up with a lot of ways to pervert God’s creation and the life he has given us.  This has led to God’s anger on top of separating us from him.  Jesus dying the way that he did, on the cross, took on the wrath of God for even the vilest of offenses.  There is nothing that we can do that is so bad that Jesus sacrafice can not covered.  He took the wrath and scorn for even the worst of things that humans can come up with.

And God accepted this sacrafice.  Jesus’s death was accepted as our.  His tortured murder fulfilled the wrath we deserve.  We know this because three days later, he came back from death.  The price was paid.  The jail time was served.  Once jail time is served, the prisoners are set free.  Jesus walked out of the prison, and it crumbled behind him.  For more on this, read Action Hero Jesus.

I said all of this to bold face the point that it is not what we do that saves us…but if we are brought back from the dead through what Jesus did, we will not be the same.  Our heart will change.  If we truly believe, the Holy Spirit…the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead…lives in our heart.  If the one whose power raises from the dead lives inside of us, we will not be the same.  We will love more, put others needs before ours, and start to live life differently.  This change is the first hint at the harvest.  It is the first few apples on the tree.  Then as you change, this will cause others to want to change.  They will want what you have.  They will want to go to Christ and be changed…which will lead to them having a harvest, causing Jesus’s harvest in you to grow and grow.

There has to be a change.  The change is the evidence.  Not the prayer you prayed.  Not the pastor’s hand that you shook.  Not the moment you came to faith.  It is the change that others can see.  You do not cause this change.  It is organic.  It happens because you can not be the same when you truly trust Jesus as your savior.

The second major problem with the focus on the moment and prayer is that those who grow up in church and a Christian family can confuse the values they grow up with is the change that being a true believer brings.  You prayed the prayer and live a Christian lifestyle, so you assume you are right with God.  BUT, again, it is about what you do.  This is my story.  I was not a Christian for most of my life, but I thought I was.  I never truly looked to Christ’s sacrafice as my saving grace.  My only evidence was the things that I did.  I did not have heart change.  Because I have gone long again, if you want to read about my story of life change go check out My Time Travel Testimony.

Once again, it is not about the prayer.  It is about the change in your heart, mind, and life.

Here I go again…never got to the lesson about the sinner’s prayer.  So I have to do a part three.  I promise.  The lesson is good.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please continue to teach me and help me trust in you alone.  your son, joe

 

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Number Two…Part Two

Now that ID (my second child) has been with us for almost two weeks, I thought I would write a follow-up to my post Number Two.  I have had a lot of time to think and reflect on the experience of going from the father of one to the father of two, albeit the thoughts are from a slightly sleep deprived mind.  Even though I now am in the process of potty training a toddler along with changing a bazillion newborn diapers, this is still not about that number two.  🙂

Here are a few of the things that I am learning:

  • Patience is hard at three in the morning.  I am trying hard not to get fustrated with LA and/or the baby when the ID is fussy and can’t be consoled, but it is hard.  I am being reminded time and time again that I do not have heavenly patience on my own.  It only comes from the Spirit.  I wish I could say I am doing really good at seeking the Spirit early in the AM, but I am not.  I just know what I need to work on.
  • Love can be equal and different.  I love both of my sons so much.  I love hanging out and playing with NB.  I love holding and cuddling with ID.  They are in two different phases of life, and the fathering skills are different for both.  Patience can be harder with the preschooler, especially when he is having trouble adjusting to not being the only one, but that goes back to my first point.  I do love them equally, and I love them differently.  They are different.  I will just stay in prayer that as they grow I will remember that and not compare them to each other.  I just want to love them for who they are individually.
  • I am still a selfish sinner in need of a Savior.  With to kids needing my love and attention, it is becoming even more apparent how selfish I am.  I am so prideful.  I want my time notched out for me as well as them.  I know rest time is important, but I use it as an excuse.  Even now, NB is watching TV when I probably should be playing with him.  I will play with him as soon as I am done, but it is an example of the problem.  I want to use tiredness and the need for a mental break as an excuse to worship at the throne of me.  I need to trust God to give me the energy, strength, and mental ability to do all I need to do for my sons and wife.  I need to admit to God that I am a selfish, prideful man.  I need to preach the Gospel to myself and remind myself that I am nothing without Jesus, and I can’t be the father and husband I need to be without Jesus and the Spirit.  I need the Gospel to be ever present.
  • I need the Bible more than ever.  In the last week and a half, I have found excuse after excuse not to read the Bible.  A week and a half is a long time to go without reading the Bible for me now.  I felt it.  I knew I needed to get back into it.  I finally did yesterday, and it was so refreshing.  I need to recommit to reading it everyday, meditating, and spending quality time with God.
  • God will provide.  I won’t go into all of the details, but God has seen our needs before we have known them and has provided.  It has been amazing.  God does not always meet our needs in the way we think they need to be met, and sometimes he does.  The thing we need to learn is that we can trust him.

Okay, there are a lot more things that I am forgetting, but maybe I can get to those later.  I just knew I needed to write a little.  It is something that burns in my heart until I do.  I need to go play with my son.  Hopefully you can glean something from what God is teaching me.

Has God taught you anything really cool, life-changing, or obvious but needed lately?

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Christmas Thoughts: Dear Lord Baby Jesus

I have had so many thoughts and lessons from God this Christmas season, but so little time and/or energy to share them here.  Because I am now out for winter break (I am a teacher, if you didn’t know), I have some time.  I have decided to do a series of posts that I will put up when ever time allows for some writing.  So there may be a string of them in one day, or days between them.  We’ll see how it goes.  Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of what I hope will be many before the 25th of December.

I am going to start with a soap box issue for me.  Possibly not the best jumping off point to inspire you to read future posts in this series, but I have to start where my thoughts started this year.  It is probably an overplayed issure, but it is my turn to pipe in on it.  Over commercialization of Christmas, however this is not just about Walmart (and other stores) starting the Christmas rush earlier and earlier every year…it is more about Christians buying into the over commercializing of the birth of Jesus and trivializing what his birth truly means.

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born into the human existence as a real human baby, which let him live a normal human life sinlessly (as prescribed to the Israelites by God through Moses), which allowed him to die a death he did not deserve and take the wrath of God that we deserve. and then he was raised from the dead to show that his payment for our sin was accepted as paid in full and the grave no longer had any rights to him.  Jesus being born is a big deal.  However, I think that the over commericialization of Christmas has led most Christians into missing the point of Jesus’ birth.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christ-child.  There are what I like to call the three “ions” that are key to the Christian faith.  The Incarnation (Jesus stepping out of heaven to live the human experience…just without sinning), the Crucifiction (Jesus dying a greusome death on the cross and being separated completely from God, and doing so to pay the price for our sin), and the Resurrection (Jesus being raised from the dead because the price was paid and death could not hold him).  Jesus’ birthday is the Incarnation side of things, and it is very important.  I just think as celebration of Christmas becomes bigger and bigger (and earlier and earlier), we lose sight of why it is important, and Christians start becoming more and more like the main character in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

The movie stars Will Farrell as a Nascar driver.  I do not know a whole lot about the movie, because I have never actually watched it.  But there are scenes that I remember from the ads for it and that I have heard quoted and eventually watched online.  The parts of the movie that I am referring to are parodies of how some Christians can act, and they are extremely over-the-top and sacreligious.  For that reason, I won’t share a link to YouTube or quote the movie.  I will just summarize what my reference is about.

The main character, Ricky Bobby, is a “christian.”  He prays often in the movie, but he prays to “Lord Baby Jesus.”  There are a few scenes with prayers in which he makes several allusions to Jesus as a baby.  He even gets into arguments with his family about it and how Jesus was not just a baby.  He response was always that he likes Baby Jesus the best and that is who he prays to and worships.  Like I said, it is over-the-top and a satire of how some people seem to be.  My fear is that we all take on shades of this sometimes at Christmas.

We get caught up with the magic and wonder of Jesus as a baby, which in of itself is not bad.  It was the miracle of God leaving Heaven to come to Earth as our Savior.  It is something to celebrate.  I think we just forget to focus on the why part of why Jesus had to become a baby to save us.  I know I do.  It is so easy to get caught up in Christmas and the Christmas traditions.

This year, I have really been convicted about this.  After reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been able to show me over and over why Jesus had to come.  It is because he had to be human and live that life so that he could sacrafice it for my sin.

The “reason for the season” is that I am a sinner who is separated from God.  Only God himself can save me.  Jesus is God in flesh.  He came to Earth and lived the live I couldn’t.  Because he lived a sinless life, he could give that life up.  He did not have to die.  He never sinned, so he did not deserve death.  Not only did he not have to die, he did not deserve to be tortured and then separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He was separated from them on the cross and then again as he was in the grave for three days (and what ever the sinners after life is).  The one who had lived in eternity past with the Father and Spirit was separated from them for days.  That may not seem like long to us, but I am sure it was like forever to him.  He then came back from the dead because the price was paid.  Prisoners do not have to stay in prison once the sentence is up.  Jesus walked away from the jail (while it blew up behind him…see Action Hero Jesus for more).  He came, lived, died, and rose again.  It it was all because I was a sinner who needed to be saved.

Baby Jesus is important, but it is not everything.  It is not even why Christmas is important.  God heard our cries, and he came and saved us.  Jesus being born is about him accepting our death.  This is what Christmas is about.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please do not let me miss the point and the reason for Christmas this year.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for your sacrafice.  Thank you for your love.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Christmas, Gospel and Faith

 

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Killed to Death

A friend shared this post on Facebook.  I laughed to the point that LA just had to know what it was.  She is not a Facebooker, and doesn’t really get why I enjoy reading people’s updates and whatnot.  Every once in a while, though, my reaction is enough to get her curious.  This was one of those times.

Okay, I know, I probably should not find hilarity over the death of someone.  I agree…however, I am laughing at the gaff made by who ever was in charge of the CG (character generator…what is used to create titles for TV).  It was probably a simple mistake, but it is still funny.  I laughed even as I looked at it again to get the picture to post here.  You can’t deny that it hits you in the funny bone.

I wanted to post something more light-hearted given all of the serious and challenging posts here lately.  I don’t want to get in a rut of only posting things like that.  So for a more cheery side to me, I am going to talk about death.

***SPOILER ALERT***

We are all going to die one day.  Yep.  Death is inevitable.  Yes, even you.  Even me.  All of us.  Sorry if you are the last one to find out, but it is true.

I am not sure on the timeline of things (I do have a really cool LOST-like theory, though), but at some point after death we are going to face God in judgment.  He is going to present our lives, the whole thing, and call us to account for what we have done.  We are going to have to answer for our sin, our pride, and our care (or lack thereof) of others.  I am going to be called out, and I will have to answer.

What can I say?  I will have to admit that I have lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, hated, disobeyed, disrespected, coveted, put myself first, and have not looked out for the interest of others before me.  I will have to admit these and probably millions of other things.  I will have to throw myself before God and say that I have done all of this and more.  However, I will also have the chance to call on his promises.

I will be able to say that though I have done all of these things, I can not serve the punishment for them.  I will remind God that his own Son Jesus died and took the wrath for my life and sins.  I will show him the marks of the Spirit in my life.  I will throw myself upon his mercy and cry out for Jesus to come and be my righteousness.

I am not sure what will happen next in detail, but in some way this will be enough.  Maybe Jesus will come to my defense, and as evidence present his scars.  What ever it is, I will be acquitted.  I know there maybe some consquences or something related to how well I have used the life given me through Christ and the Spirit, but I survive the judgement and be ushered into the the new life.  The life after life here on Earth.  Take a look at John 3:13-18 if you want to know why I know something will happen to save me from judgment.

I am not sure what Heaven is like, but I know I will be there.  I will be with the billions before the Throne of God.  I will praise Jesus as the Lamb of God.  I will eat at the wedding feast.  I will enjoy life with God forever.  I don’t know what that is like, but I can’t wait.

One day I will be “killed to death,” but I don’t fear that day.  To live is Christ, but to die is gain.  I love living here on Earth, but it is not my home…and that is the place I will go when I close my eyes here.  I just hope to bring as many people as I can with me (to Heaven, not death!).  I love what Rich Mullins said in the song Land of My Sojourn and I will close with this:

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you’ll come to love it
And how you’ll never belong here
So I call you my country
And I’ll
be lonely for my home
And I wish that I could take you there with me

 

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The Holy Spirit Was Wearing Pink

This morning I came across a blog that really hit home to me.  It was kind of perfect timing.  I have been trying to put words to some prayers for my attitude and how I approach people and situations.  This blog post hit it on the head.

The name of the post is called, “The Opposite of Love Isn’t Hate.”  It really caught my attention, so I gave it a read.  I am so glad I did.  I know that the Spirit totally set this one up, because this story doesn’t end here.  But before I get to the rest of the story, let me finish talking about what I read.

I can sum up the post in one statement from it, Hate is not the opposite of love, fear is.”  I had to get my mind around this.  The more I read, the more this made sense.  The tumblers started to fall into place in my head.  This is so true.  Fear really is the antagonist of love.  Debby went on to explain:

Fear the opposite of love? Yes, yes. That’s it. In my life that is true. It’s not hate but fear. Fear of those different from me. Fear of stepping out in faith. Fear my children will suffer tragedy. Fear those I’ve grown close to will relapse and fear for the day my mom won’t know any of us.

I can so relate to this.  When my son was born, I became even more paranoid about everything,  I can still be two and a half years later.  I found ways to micromanage everything.  I was, and can still be, so afraid of anything happening to him.  I am starting to see that this fear can get in the way of loving him and allowing him to grow and mature.

This fear can show itself in other ways, too.  I grew up moving a lot, so I learned at an early age not to form deep friendships.  This has led to a fear of losing friends or getting my feelings hurt by others that sticks with me even now.  I have a fear of allowing people too close to me.  That fear was overcome a good bit when I met my wife, but it still makes me distant from friends sometimes.

Even more so, this fear can keep me from growing in my relationship to God.  We are called to two commandments, to love God and love others.  When I am afraid of what could happen, I put a wall between myself, God, and others.  I am afraid of letting go and dying to myself.  I am afraid of what people will think.  I am afraid of completely trusting in the acceptance of God that comes through the work of Jesus Christ.  This fear stunts my spiritual growth.

1 John 4 holds the answer to the fear.  Love is the opposite.  Fear can keep us from love, but love can keep us from fear.  Only love breaking through to our hearts and mind can defeat our fear and allow us to love.

John wrote in verses 16-19 (NLT):

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each otherbecause he loved us first.

“Such love has no fear, because PERFECT love expels all fear.”  This is so awesome.  Because we have been loved perfectly, we do not have to be afraid.  Abiding in this love will allow us to overcome the fear.  We will be able to love!

So…this was on my heart as I drove to work this morning.  I can be a bit ADD with what I listen to (or don’t listen to) in the car.  Lately I have wanted to listen to music, but Christian radio can get repetative so sometimes I just put on a random station.  Today was a light rock station.  A song came on that I have always kind of liked when I have heard it.  It is by Pink.  As the song played, the Spirit brought these ideas back to mind and took them a little further.

Now, as a little disclaimer, I had no idea that I have been only hearing the edited version.  I went to look up the song to write this blog post.  It turns out that the song, which I thought was called “Perfect,” is actually named “F**ing Perfect.”  I had no idea.  I am sorry, if this offends you.  Just know I have only heard the edited version.  Any way, the song still totally spoke to me and the Spirit drove the message home (yes, through this potentially offensive song).

The part that spoke to me was the chorus:

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me

The message that came to mind is that it is my fear of not being accepted by God because of my sins is the overwhelming fear that holds be back from loving Him and loving others.  The thing is, if that I truly believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I am accepted by God.  I am free to love.  I am free to serve.  I am free to obey.  I do not have to fear the wrath I know I deserve.  Through Jesus, in terms of the eternal consequences of sin, I am perfect in the eyes of the Father.  The passage from 1 John says, “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”  This sentence leads directly into the statement that “perfect love drives out fear.”  Our acceptance is the love that shines like a light on our fear and makes it run away like darkness!

How awesome is this!  We are perfect in his eyes.  This perfect love is the antithesis of fear.  We can live love because he loves us!  Halellujah, what a Savior?

Do you see how fear keeps us from loving?  How can the perfect love of Jesus change you and allow you to love without fear?

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September 12th

This picture is permenantly burned in my memories from 10 years ago.  I am not sure if the flag was raised on 9/12 or not, but this is the image I think about when I think about the day after the 11th.  I believe this is even more powerful to me now than it was then.  There is just something about the flag being raised over the wreckage by some of the men who were there when the buildings fell.  This was a message.  It said to those who planned the attacks, “We are still here.”

After NB went to bed last night, my wife and I watched a special about 9/11 on CBS.  It was called, 9/11 Ten Years Later.  It was amazing.  It really was.  It was pieced together from the footage from two brothers who were filming a documentary about a rookie firefighter along with the interviews in the time since.  It was almost unbelievable that there just happened to be these two guys filiming these guys at the very moment the first plane crashed…and they were only a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center!

The firefighters were some of the first to the scene, and their chief was the first chief there and he allowed the filming brother with him to come into the building.  It was surreal to see this footage from inside Building One.  You are walked through the events from the perspective of the crew from this one firehouse.  Everything was filmed.  You feel like you are there when the buildings fell, because the camera was rolling.

It was a little hard to relive everything from that day, but I am so glad we watched until the end.  What stood out most to me was what happened following the buildings collapsing.

The firemen from the house were separated in the confusion running from Building One and it coming down.  The brother that was not at the WTC was at the firehouse.  He filmed everyone as they came back.  One by one they all returned, even the rookie who did not get back for six hours.  Everyone got back.  They were happy, but they took it hard as well.  They were one of the only firehouses that did not lose one person.  In a lot of ways, they felt guilty.  They were still here, while so many of their brother firefighters were not.

I was not ready for what came next.

After going home for a few hours, all of them came back to ground zero.  They felt like it was their duty to go and start digging and looking for people in the rubble.  They were still here, and they owed it to those who weren’t to go look for them.  Hundreds of firefighters, and others, came and dug.  They were on 24 hour shifts.  The first shift ended and they only found one person alive, but they came back again to look for more.

There was more to the show, but this is where I want to rest.  How beautiful is that thought in the middle of the tragedy.  They were still here, and they owed it to those that were not to risk their own lives to go looking.  In a lot of ways, the firefighters in the documentary should have died.  Most of them literally made it out of the building only minutes and seconds before it fell.  They survived though the odds said they shouldn’t have.  Instead of resting in that, though, they put themselves back into danger to look for others who were dying.

Isn’t this the story of how life should be?  Isn’t this how Christians should view life?

We were dying in our sins.  We were helpless from saving ourselves.  The world was crashing around us and we should have been caught up in the debris, but we weren’t.  Someone took our place.  Someone died in our place.  Jesus died the death we destined for.  The building fell on him, not us.  We were saved.  We are still here.  We are still here.

What is our response?  Do we rest in the fact that we are alive?  Or do we put this new life on the line to go search the wreckage of the world?  Do we risk our safety to dig and offer life to those who are helpless, just as we were?  Are we even trying?  Or are we taking our life for granted?  We are still here…but what are we doing about it?

I don’t know.  This really spoke to me.  I have lived most of my Christian life taking my “survival” for granted.  That is changing.  I am starting to see we need to leverage what we have for others.  To help them see that they can be saved from the wreckage.  To offer life.  It does not mean just sharing the gospel when the situation comes up, but it means loving other people.  It means serving other people.  It means giving up comfort and safety to try to make a difference in other people’s lives.  I am still here.  I want to spend my life making sure other people have the chance to say the same thing.

What about you?  What do you think?  Are you still here?  What are you doing about the others who aren’t?

Performancing Metrics

 

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