Visits From A Man Named Nobody 37

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 37

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 //

The strange square-shaped box composed of pebbles suddenly made sense to Paul. It had to be some sort of water container. His mother left the podium and went into a room behind the stage as the pastor came back out wearing a long white robe. 

He carefully stepped into the tub while someone rushed on stage and set up another microphone. 

“I agreed with Mary that this idea would be the best way to honor not only our Lord God, but also the memory of our dear friend Bill, who we all loved so fiercely,” the pastor, Paul supposed his name was Gabe, said. 

“I was very careful to talk to Mary about this,” Gabe said. “It would be easy to understand someone’s desire to share something with a lost loved one. It would be easy to hear someone talk about God just after losing said loved one. What I should have known was that Bill had been speaking with Mary and sharing the gospel for months. It would be wrong to falsely baptize anyone, but after hearing her testimony and speaking with her several times, I trust her judgement.”

Gabe took a breath. It was obvious he was stalling to give Paul’s mom time to change every bit as much as he was using the opportunity to talk more about God. “Baptism is an ordinance. It does not prove or establish salvation. It’s a gesture to reflect rebirth in Christ. Neither will it wash away the sadness we all feel at the loss we suffered. I know I certainly wish it would, but that’s not the case. We all must feel our grief and mourn with those who mourn. But I find a small bit of comfort in this. Mary is living proof that Bill’s work was always for Christ, and she’s a new bond we have in our lives and, in a way, with Bill. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does ease it a little for me.”

Paul hadn’t wanted to punch someone so much in months. Was this guy seriously using Bill’s death to advance his religious goals and pad his congregation’s numbers? Were they seriously going to just give a thirty-minute sermon and then move on with business as usual? Paul wasn’t even sure what kept him in his chair. Maybe he was trying to avoid the scene it would cause if he stormed out, but he wasn’t sure. 

His mother came back out wearing the same kind of white robe Gabe wore. She stepped into the water and smiled. She crossed her arms in front of herself, and Gabe placed on hand on hers and another hand on her back. 

“Mary, have you confessed and repented of your sins?” Gabe asked.

“I have.”

“Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, dedicating yourself to serving him?”

“I do.”

Paul gritted his teeth. She was supposed to say those words during a wedding with Bill, not in some stupid ceremony. 

“Then, based on your testimony today I proudly baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” 

Paul’s mother leaned back, and Gabe held her in the water for a moment.

“Washed clean by the blood of Christ.” Gabe pulled her back up. “And justified by Christ’s resurrection from the dead.”

Again the people launched in to a celebration. It’s like they’d completely forgotten this was a funeral. Bill was dead, and all they cared about was some stupid ceremony. Paul stood in stunned silence wondering at how crass it all was. His mother climbed out of the water and headed into the back room. 

Several people smiled at Paul. One person reached out a hand, maybe to shake it or place it on Paul’s shoulder, but whatever look Paul gave him made him pause and pull his hand back. Good! Paul didn’t want anyone thinking he was anything but angry. This wasn’t some pointless anger. Someone was dead, and everybody just moved on with life as if that death didn’t matter. 

He stormed out of the main room and into the lobby. He sat there stewing until his mother came out. She looked at him, a sad smile on her face. 

“Let’s go,” she said. 

Paul followed her to the car and got in. She got behind the wheel and buckled the belt across her shoulders and waist. 

She took a deep breath. “I’m going to ask you to listen.”

She waited. Paul stared out the window. She could say whatever she wanted. 

“I know how angry you are.”

That was obvious. It wasn’t like Paul ever hid his emotions well.

“I didn’t forget about Bill, and neither did anyone else in there.” She waited, probably wondering if Paul would argue, but he’d already decided to just let her have her say. “When Bill and I talked about … “ she paused, clearly trying not to cry. 

Paul was even more determined to stare out the window. He wasn’t about to watch her cry. Besides, didn’t she just get baptized? Didn’t that make life all better and happy? 

“When we talked about the future, I had thought I’d wait until the wedding.”

A tear fell down Paul’s cheek. For some reason, those words caused every memory Paul had of Bill to play through his mind, and each one hurt more than the one before it. 

“I’m still sad.” The tremble in her voice made that obvious. “I still miss him. I’m even still angry that he’s gone. I don’t have the answers I know you want. I don’t know why God took him now.”

Paul squeezed the handle of his passenger door. 

“I don’t know why God would put him in our life only to take him from us this soon. But I trust Bill, and I trust God. I trust the God who gave him to us in the first place.”

“You wanna know why?” Paul muttered.

“I’m sure you have some sufficiently witty and smart remark to make,” his mother said. “I’m sure it’s full of anger and resentment. But before you say that, just ask yourself if you really want to lash out at me right now?”

“So I’m supposed to just sit here and listen to, like, the third sermon in as many hours? I don’t get any say?”

Paul finally looked at her. Naturally, there were tears in his eyes and on her face. He cared less and less by the second. “You think if you talk long enough I’ll just suddenly realize that you all were right, and we should just happily flock to a God who would let this sort of thing happen?”

“No,” she said. “I just wanted you to know that I’m still sad and angry, too.”

“Well you’ve said it,” Paul said. “Can we go now?”

He did have several more things to say. Those church people and his mom may have some misguided idillic vision of some wonderful God, but Paul just had an empty chair where the man who could have been his father was supposed to be sitting. If Bill wasn’t going to sit there, no one would.”

Musings on Christianity 35

Musings on Christianity 35

What Holds Some People Back?

What is Heaven like? I’m actually reading a book about that right now. Oddly enough, you can read several accounts on near death experiences, but the Bible should be viewed as the authority on Heaven. This isn’t actually a chapter about Heaven. It’s just a question I want readers to ponder. If you’re like I was when I was younger, you pictured a world where you only did the things you liked doing here on Earth. Maybe Heaven is where you do nothing but watch football. Maybe Heaven is just a never ending feast with all your friends and family. Maybe Heaven is a giant party. None of those theories about Heaven are anywhere near correct, but I’m building to a point, so please bare with me.

While this isn’t a chapter about Heaven, I will tell you one thing I know without any reservation. Whatever you imagine Heaven is, Heaven is greater. The problem is that humans only know this broken, sinful Earth. Sure, there are fun things on Earth. But when we become fixated on the things of this world and start imagining Heaven as anything like this place, we’re not giving Heaven enough credit.

Imagine the best day of your life to this date. Imagine the happiest you’ve ever been. One second of Heaven will make that day seem worthless by comparison.

So why, then, would anyone not want to go to Heaven? Why, then, would anyone not seek the path to such a place?

The things that hold people back from believing are often tied to the pleasures of this Earth. God, our loving Father who gives us such wonderful things, blessed this world with so many wonderful things. One thing I feel happens though is that we start to see the gifts as God rather than the God who made the things we enjoy so much.

These gifts, which in and of themselves may not be sinful, become idols, which makes the action sinful. I’ve mentioned previously that anything you’re willing to sin to obtain or sin because you don’t get is an idol. One should look at their lives and consider those things. Time is a wonderful thing, and I struggle mightily with “my time.” The second I consider it mine, I’ve placed myself and the thing on which I want to spend my time on God’s throne.

These idols hold us back from the Kingdom because we’ve made that activity or action the ideal in our mind. However, Heaven is so much greater than anything you could do here on Earth. This is why Christians should be fixated on getting there. Maybe rather than imagine Heaven as a place where we can only do things we do here, we should imagine Heaven as a place where no matter how fun what we’re doing right now is, being in Heaven will be that much better.

Another thing that holds people back is money. Of course we want good things. Of course we want to provide for our family and ensure we have a comfortable retirement. It’s not sinful to have money. What is sinful is to make money God. God, who created the heavens and the earth; God, who created the world and the fullness therein, doesn’t need money. When you’re with him, you won’t either. His very presence and person is light and joy.

The concept of wealth is something I wonder about sometimes. Why do we need money? To buy stuff. What stuff? Food. People can plant food and raise animals for food. Sure, you’d have to buy the animals, but it could be done. This world has done an amazing job of convincing us that we “need” so many things. When you think about it though, humans don’t really need a lot to survive. Yet the quality of that survival is dependent upon amenities that span beyond survival. Sure, feed me some slop, shelter me from the elements, and provide me water, and I will continue to exist. However, we thrive as we have more.

So we’ve developed the thought that money is the need when money was literally invented as an exchange for the goods we actually need to sustain ourselves or thrive. Even in this world, money isn’t the need. At best, money is the means by which we obtain those needs. But Biblically, that’s not the way it really works. The way we obtain our needs is seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. If we do these things, our Father, who is in Heaven, will add to us all these other things (Matthew 6:33).

How will God provide? He’s God! He’ll do it however he wants. But if he can arrange for the survival of wild animals and plants, he can absolutely ensure the survival of the race he created last, humanity, who are worth so much more than birds and plants.

So is money really sinful? Not in and of itself. Solomon was the wealthiest, wisest man of all time. Daniel was a king. Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. These are all saints. None of them were perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they had good times. They also had bad times. David was chased throughout Israel. He had to live in caves and beg priests for food (1 Samuel). Joseph was sold into slavery and then thrown into prison (Genesis). Solomon wrote an entire book of the Bible speaking about how he’d gone chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes).

It’s hard for people with money to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:23).

I’m of the opinion that this is true because we start to worship the money rather than the God who blessed us with such wealth to begin with.

One who sees the kingdom of Heaven rightly, as so much better than all the wealth of the earth, wouldn’t covet that money so much.

That doesn’t mean we should be foolish or unwise with the money God entrusted to us. It just means we need to remember that this, too, is a gift from God, and we should worship the creator, not the creation.

It’s hard for me not to think about money sometimes. I have to remind myself that it’s not money I need, it’s God, the creator of all things who can give me everything I need. Like anyone, I work hard to earn a living. I aspire to earn more as an author. I wish I could send my sons to a Christian school. I want to pay cash for college for my sons. I never want to be in debt again. The trick is focusing on God rather than money.

There is a trick to being content in all situations (Philippians 4:11-13). It’s being focused on God.

We get held back because we blind ourselves with the things of this world. If our hard times become an opportunity to glorify God and seek Him and be grateful to Him for all He does, all will be well. If in our abundance we praise God and use what he entrusted to us to do His will, all will be well.

Maybe we think Heaven isn’t so great because some people we love won’t be there. Have you ever heard the phrase, “All my friends are in Hell”?

This one baffles me as a person. I’ve been through some hard times. And while the people we love can help us through these times, that doesn’t make them any less hard does it? Think about the Holocaust. Let’s imagine Hell as an eternal Holocaust (it isn’t; it’s so much worse, but it’s the closest analogy I know on this earth). If I promised you that every person you ever even liked a little bit would be there, would you really want to go there? Is there any amount of friends and family being beside you that would make such a horrid existence something you’d willingly go to?

Wouldn’t you instead do everything in your power to avoid such a fate and help those you love to do the same? Welcome to evangelism!

There isn’t a single person on this earth, no matter what he or she may have done to me, who I’d wish to experience that sort of thing. Sure, I’ve been angry and wanted justice or even vengeance, but even just based on the two or so books I’ve read about the Holocaust, I wouldn’t put anyone through that.

Instead, I want to go to Heaven. I want to go there so much I’m willing to give whatever I have to. But what we must give isn’t a sacrifice or offering. Instead, we must accept Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). We must believe He lived a perfect life. We must believe He died for our sins. We must believe He was resurrected on the third day, and we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

That means letting go of the things that turn us from him, and we all have work to do that. I know I do, but it’s worth it. We talk sometimes about Heaven and Hell. There are people who believe in Heaven, but they don’t believe in Hell. I’d argue that even if Hell weren’t a real place (it is), that any place not Heaven is Hell. That’s how great Heaven is. There are people who believe in Hell and not Heaven. Neither of these groups of people make a ton of sense to me, but they’re out there. I’d do anything to avoid Hell and keep those I love from going there.

Please look closely at your life and the things you fixate on. Believers, fixate on Christ. I know you have children to care for and a wife to love (and God commands us to do so). I know you have to provide for your live,s and I promise I understand the need for rest and the desire to pursue goals. I simply beg you, make getting closer to God your primary goal. Consider anything that takes you from Him antithetical to your overall mission.

For our panel: Are you willing to discuss an idol in your life that you struggled to turn away from? What are some other things that hold us back from the kingdom? What do we do when we recognize an idol, but still covet it even though we know it’s wrong? What is Heaven really like? What is Hell really like?

Musings on Christianity 20

Musings on Christianity 20

Can Anyone Be Saved? Can Anyone Be Forgiven? Can I ever forgive anyone?

Last chapter was a pretty convicting chapter. It certainly was for me when I saw myself through that filter. However, once a person sees the depth of one’s own sin, the beauty of Christ’s love becomes all the more amazing.

Even in the time of Christ, people had a desire to compare themselves to other men, which is the wrong measurement.

A Pharisee and a tax collector went to pray. The Pharisee told God all the things he wasn’t and all the things he did that made him righteous. The tax collector only asked for mercy. (Paraphrase of Luke 18:9-14)

When we see our own sin, we understand our need. Now, once that happens, we see how merciful God, through Christ, can be.

We also already discussed the thief on the cross. (Luke 23:39-43) If that story doesn’t show you just how wonderful Christ’s forgiveness is, look at one of the most recognizable apostles ever.

Saul  of Tarsus was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. (1 Timothy 1:13) He witnessed at least one stoning and confessed he voted to execute several other Christians before Christ approached him on the road to Damascus.

There are some people who truly mourn their sin. They punish themselves, feeling as though God couldn’t love them because of their sin. On their own, that’s true. With man, it’s impossible to reach Heaven, but not with God. (Matthew 19:26)

Through Christ, any man can be forgiven. Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, paid the price for whatever sin it is you carry. By God’s grace, we can receive the gift of forgiveness. There isn’t a thing you need to do. Heck, there’s not a single thing you could do. It’s a gift! He didn’t do it because you deserve it. That’s what mercy is.

Don’t let the sins you mourn cause you to look away or hide from Christ. Instead, rejoice! Rejoice that those sins have been punished.  The list of our debt was set aside and nailed to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)

Repent means to turn away. I still emphasis the turning away as evidence. Stop the sin that weighs you down. Don’t continue to live in it simply because you feel it’s too late. It’s never too late. The thief one the cross taught us that. Don’t simply live in it because you feel you couldn’t ever be forgiven! Paul taught us that.

This was a huge stumbling block for me. I carried guilt with me, nurturing it in my heart because I thought I deserved to be punished. I took every bad thing that ever happened as evidence of my forsaken nature. I was blind to how wonderful forgiveness is. I was so focused on how horrible I felt, I didn’t realize just how light a burden Christ really is. (Matthew 11:28-30) I thought I had to earn redemption. I thought I had to earn righteousness.

The problem was I knew that one who’d already sinned in any way could never be righteous.

But then I stopped looking to myself. I looked to the only being in all the world in any religion who not only was perfect, but paid the price I couldn’t pay. And He did it for one reason: Love.

The other hurdle was wanting to live in a world where I could be forgiven but others could not be. I wanted to put myself on the throne of God, telling myself my sins weren’t “that bad.” I arrogantly decided that “these” sins were too great, but my sins were so much less horrible, and therefor tolerable. This put me on a horrid cycle of guilt and self-justification.

But then I stopped trying to classify sin and focused instead on Christ, whose blood washed away all sins. This meant I had to let go of my own self-righteousness and hate. Some who read the last chapter will say I’m lying and I’m still judgmental. Stating the truth that the price of sin (regardless of degree) is death is a far cry from offering a list of the saved and the damned. Challenging anyone to look at the sin in their life isn’t a condemnation; it’s simply a challenge.

When you accept that challenge under the correct mindset, realizing that sin leads to death, you realize your need is as equally desperate as any maniac or murderer. Once you see that, you understand that Christ still paid the price.

Through Christ, God forgave my sins. If I were to try and name or list my sins, even just the ones I was aware of and felt guilt over, I’d never be able to get to anything else. But if God forgave me all my sins, shouldn’t I be able to forgive the man who cut me off? Shouldn’t I be able to forgive the father who shattered our family?

Consider the worst sin you’ve ever committed. For you, it may not be “that bad.” Forget for a moment that sin is sin, and your sin is indeed “that bad.” Think about the guilt you carry. How heavy is it? Mine felt like a mountain I couldn’t crawl from under. Through Christ, God forgives. But if he can forgive all your sins, every, single, one, including the one that gives you the most guilt; can’t you then also forgive the person who did the worst thing ever to you?

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it’s “fair.” Fair means we’re all condemned. Grace means we deserve punishment, but we’re passed over anyway. Grace means we realize our guilt, but praise God for the gift of grace He’s given us.

Rather than live in a world where “some” people “aren’t perfect” but still get to go to Heaven and “other” people are “much worse” so therefore deserve condemnation, consider for a moment the beauty of a world where even though we’re all wretched sinners, we can have redemption through Christ.

Yes, that means we have to forgive, but is it really so terrible? Again, I didn’t say it wasn’t hard, but is it so awful to think that anyone could be forgiven? Is it so awful when you remember that you were forgiven, too?

Why not forgive as we were forgiven? (Ephesians 4:32)

I acknowledge it’s easier said than done, but I can also tell you from experience that it’s actually easier to forgive than it is to carry that resentment and anger with you your whole life. I can tell you finding the ability to forgive others is easier when you take stock of the sin in your own life first.

This doesn’t mean we just randomly forgive anyone all the time. At least, I don’t think it does. That’s the question I mean to ask in the next chapter.

For our panel: What verses do you turn to, to contemplate how wondrous the forgiveness you’ve received is? What do you do when you know you should forgive, but still find it so hard to actually do? Can God really, really, forgive any sin through Christ? Should a person who honestly doesn’t feel like the’ve commit an “unforgivable sin” contemplate their own salvation?

Musings on Christianity 15

Musings on Christianity 15

Am I Saved?

For an embarrassingly long time, I felt that the mere fact that I sinned meant that I wasn’t saved. I had this idea in my head that the saved don’t sin, and that’s just not true (1 John 1:8). I lacked the Biblical knowledge to understand the relationship between Christ and the redeemed.

I’d encourage any to read John MacArthur’s Saved Without a Doubt. That book is a much deeper analysis for people who ask themselves this question. For the purpose of this work, I’m going to focus on issues I faced and realizations I’ve had.

I’ve been formally baptized at least three times. The first was because everyone I knew was baptized. It was the thing people did at church. The second time was (if I remember correctly) because I went to a different church. The third was when I finally understood what baptism represents.

Baptism is not the means by which one is saved. Here’s what should be the sad part. In my trials of faith and sanctification, I’ve had some sins that took a long time to turn from. If you can believe it, several, several, times I’ve gone into my own bathroom and baptized myself.

On one hand, I could say that this was extremely charming but completely unnecessary. You see, I mourned my sin. I hated it and the hold it had on me. I mistakenly thought each time, “This time will be the last.” 

On the other hand, I was just being silly. Nothing about what I did was Biblically sound. My heart may have been in a good place, but no amount of bathing was going to keep me from sinning.

It could have been the last time I committed whatever sin it was. Each time I faced temptation, I clearly remember ways the Lord provided me an escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). I imagined myself the rope in a tug of war between Christ and sin.

I think that idea is what gave sin power over me it never should have had. We are not ropes in a tug of war. If we have faith in Christ Jesus, if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

When we accept Christ as our savior, sin loses its hold on us. We become dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6:11).

But over and over again I tried to free myself with my own power. I was under this impression that I had to help Christ somehow. The brain-twister is the fact that that just isn’t how it works. Christ has overcome sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Each time I thought I’d do something, each time I tried to stand on my own, I fell, and I fell hard. But when I turned to Christ, when I gave myself to him, sin lost its hold on me. Not all sin, but one of the larger sins in my life that I felt particularly convicted of. For some, it might be lying. For others, it might be addiction. The sin is less important than the breaker of sin’s chains.

So, the circular reasoning then says, “But that means I shouldn’t ever sin again.”

Well, we shouldn’t, and we don’t have to. Sin has no dominion over us (Romans 6:14).

However, we’re still living in the flesh. Have you ever felt that all you tend to do is what you hate about yourself? Have you ever felt that all the good things you want to do, you never seem to do? This is the war that wages in your own mind (Romans 7:16-24).

This sort of turmoil can lead one to believe they are wretched and cast out, forsaken because you persist in the sin you mourn (Romans 7:24).

This is the salvation that Christ gives! His grace covers our sin and frees us from our iniquity. He gives us comfort when we mourn our sin (Matthew 5:4).

The trick is how sin is overcome because those who believe and long to follow his law and seek his righteousness will have it (Matthew 5:6). It is Christ who overcomes (1 John 5:4).

What I think happens is we forget this. We turn from Christ seeking to defeat temptation ourselves. We can’t. We were born in sin (Psalm 51:5).

All of these thoughts led me to a statement I still sometimes think to myself: “I wish the decision to do the right thing removed the temptation to do the wrong thing.”

For those of us who live in the flesh (which is everyone), temptation isn’t removed. In the resurrection, we’ll have perfect, sinless bodies, but only after that resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-38). 

In the meantime, stand strong, and we stand strong not by our own power, but in the power of Christ and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). Another book by MacArthur, Standing Strong, goes over this in great detail. I’m going to focus on the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

If I had only known about that one tool, if I had only sought to study that weapon, the only weapon we use against temptation, my struggle would have been much easier. You see, we don’t deny temptation by our power or our will. We’ll lose every time. And that’s the mistake I kept making. I made promises to myself (promises I never really intended to keep because they were only deals with myself).

Our Savior taught us how to use it, but I didn’t read the Bible until just a few years ago, so I was hopeless.

Just after He was baptized, the Spirit led Christ into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by Satan himself. (Documented in Matthew 4.)

And so Satan attacked. Christ didn’t simply cast Satan out. Christ didn’t speak some new command or special phrase. He didn’t resist by simple refusal. What he did, was speak the Word. This is how one uses the Sword of the Spirit.

When Satan dared Christ, who hadn’t eaten in 40 days and nights, to turn rock into bread, Christ quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 (Matthew 4:4), using the Word of God the way an expert swordsman uses his sharpened blade. 

One would think that’s all there is to it. But just as someone can misinterpret the Bible, Satan can flat out manipulate it. Just look at what Satan does next:

He took Christ up to the top of the temple and quoted Psalm 91:11-12. If we don’t study, we can actually be more dangerous with the Word than if we didn’t read it, just as an untrained swordsman is especially dangerous to himself.   

Christ, however, an expert in the Word because He is the Word (John 1:14), knew how to counter that false use of the Bible. He countered that promise of Psalm 91 with a more important, and relevant verse, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16).” 

A third time he was tested, and again Christ went to the scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13-14.

This, my friends, is how we defend ourselves against temptation. We turn to the Word of God. My friends, if you believe and proclaim Christ, you are saved. If you mourn sin and yearn for righteousness, you will be comforted and satisfied. These things are guaranteed. If you stumble, you will be protected because once you belong to God, nothing, nothing, can take you from him (Romans 8:38-39). 

Your salvation is assured in Christ, so this means your question is how to withstand temptation. My question was how to resist. The answer is simple: Study the word. Read it. Read it the way you’d eat healthy to grow strong. Read it the way you’d exercise to be fit.

Then, when temptation comes, seek the word. This isn’t a thing I can do as readily as Christ. Sometimes I know a verse right away. Sometimes, I have to look up parts of the Bible until I find one that helps my heart, and even the process of searching the Word for help is help in itself, and the verse you find then becomes another pass of the whetstone to sharpen your sword.

Doing so will also give you assurance in your salvation. As you read and study, you’ll learn more about Christ, and what He does for you.

For our panel: What verses can we study to learn more about salvation? What are some great, basic verses someone very young in the faith can memorize to start with? What are some verses we can turn to if we stumble? Would any of you care to speak more in-depth about the other components of the Armor of God?

Musings on Christianity 11

Musings on Christianity 11

How Should My Life Change Upon Salvation?

In a previous chapter, we discussed salvation, and I promised we’d talk about how a life should change later. Now that we’ve discussed Salvation and (to a degree) repentance, this seems like a good time to tackle this question.

When someone is saved, there should be an immediate change in life style. We are commanded to cast ourselves aside, pick up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23).

But the amount of change one must make is probably dependent on how far one was from Christ and/or how steeped in sin he was. Each individual just needs to focus on the above=referenced verses. How much of what you were doing was about you, and how much of it was about Christ? 

When one becomes a Christian, the key aspect of this is the casting off of self. This is where that life change is visible. When one sees an unredeemed individual, the obvious traits include:

A self-centered lifestyle with no or very little (lip service) direction toward Christ. This is an individual who never spends time with Christ, never (or hardly ever) spends time in prayer, never serves (evangelizes, helps a brother or neighbor.  This becomes more complicated because a person can be looking like he’s doing those things, but if he’s not doing so to honor God, and isn’t directing the attention from himself (or herself) to God, then his actions may be beneficial to man, but they are not done to the glory of God. We aren’t called to judge a person’s motives, but a careful look at a person and his habits are an indicator. Anyone spending the bulk of his energy to pursue his own goals and agenda may not be redeemed.  When this person turns and begins instead to purse Godly things or begins to transition from looking for credit for himself and giving it to God, that is one visible life change.

A sinful life. You can proclaim Christ till he returns, but if you’re still living in sin, you’re not redeemed. Christ never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23). In another chapter, we’ll talk more closely about living in sin rather than being sanctified in Christ. Here, the point is a guy who’s observable actions are sinful isn’t redeemed. That’s not to say that everything he does is Biblically sinful, but he (or she) may have several sins they covet and hold onto rather than turn from.  Some redeemed take more time. All redeemed still sin, but are more prepared to accept discipline than one lost in his sin. These are those who say, “Oh, I know it’s wrong, but Christ will forgive me.” Please beware dear people, that if you you feel what you have is a blank check to sin without cost, you are lost (Romans 6:1-4). Where an unrepentant or unredeemed person who hasn’t truly sought Christ for forgiveness would simply go on about his sinful life, a repentant person would mourn his sin (Matthew 5:4), and strive to stop their life. They wouldn’t say what the unrepentant above would say. Instead, they would say, “I’m ashamed of this sin, and I need help turning away. Pray for me! Thank God, who grants me forgiveness through the son he sent to die for my sins.”

Contrary to the popular phrase, God does not at all love us for who we are. He loves us despite of who we are. But this righteous God, this just God, our loving God will not change for us. Rather, he demands we change for him.

Some of our sins fall away quickly. Other fade, like an echo of a scream. Whichever happens, it should be obvious that a person’s sin is falling away. No one is prefect, but a repentant person is seeking to decrease his sin. He’s certainly not sinning without regard or remorse. 

I could probably expand this list. I think one concerned with this should study Matthew 25:36-40 closely. Are you doing the things Christ asks you to do or not?

I’ve thought for a while about the question, “Well what about you?”  Then something occurred to me while reading “The Heart of Anger” by Lou Priolo. That question is in itself a manipulative question smelling of the same accusatory questions the Pharisees used to attempt to convict Christ.

That question comes from the heart of one who wants to compare himself to other men, which we’re not supposed to do (Galatians 6:4-6). To you I say, it isn’t about me. This isn’t a challenge to compare yourself to me, but rather a plea that you look to your own life and seek to change that you may be blessed.

Now, for those of you who say, “But I’m trying! How can I know that I’m truly being sanctified? What happened in your life?” You my brothers, are seeking fellowship. Where the above person seeks to inflict guilt, this second set of questions seeks to find guidance. This is important. They’re different hearts, and the heart is what matters.

To you I say that I still have sins I struggle with. My greatest conflict is with the very pride I warned you about earlier. I’m striving to check myself. I’m striving to weigh my anger righteously. And I angry on behalf of God or myself? Am I disappointed that I didn’t get my way, or trusting in God’s sovereignty? I pray for help in this. I have brothers and sisters in Christ whom I discuss this with and seek their rebuke to guide me. There are sins that I haven’t committed in a long time. I word that carefully because what I’m not trying to do is pridefully say that,  “I’ll never do that again.” We must remember, we’re mortal, and our flesh is susceptible to sin. If we do slip, we have an advocate who speaks for us (1 John 2:1). How we respond to that sin matters.

As for a life change. Look at this blog. This time I choose to spend on God could be given to any other pursuit. Instead, I choose to give God this time. It’s not always … easy? What I mean is at this moment, there’s  a football game on. I don’t really care who wins, but I love football.  I’m tempted to “take a break” and watch the game. Is it a sin to watch football? Not at all. However, to love football more than god is to make it an idol. Then, it becomes sinful. Instead, I discipline my mind and body, working to give this time to Christ, who gives us entertainment tat we may rejoice and praise him. 

So what I chose to do to address this is to 1) remind people that it’s not to accuse me or justify yourself by comparison and 2) offer one example each of lifestyle change not as evidence of my salvation. Only God can make that judgement anyway.  Instead, it is there to offer encouragement to others.   

For our panel: How can one cast off their sin? What does one do when he struggles to let himself go? Should we simply give up if we don’t change by a certain time? Do we as Christians have authority to declare someone redeemed or unredeemed based on our own observations? if not, why do we look at the fruit people bare?

Musings on Christianity 7

Musings on Christianity 7

I’ve Repented! Why Am I Not Like Christ?

A man decides he wants to be in shape. He brings a bag to work with him. After work, he hits the gym. He does this for a week. The next week, he takes off his shirt in the bathroom and looks in the mirror.  The gut is still there. He gets on the scale, he’s only lost one pound.

Why isn’t he skinny? Most would answer simply. It takes time and commitment.

Sanctification is no different. When one repents, accepts Christ as his savior, and even gets baptized (which is a symbol of salvation, not a requirement), he’s just filled his metaphorical gym bag. No human in the flesh will ever achieve perfection because he’s still made of sinful flesh. Therefore he’s literally composed of sin. His heart is born in sin (Psalm 51:5).

Just like that man who’s realized he needs to live a healthier life, so to a repentant sinner  is one who’s realized he needs to live a more spiritually healthy life. Just like that man in the gym, so to does the man who’s just repented needs to realize that it takes time and commitment.

Paul is an amazing source of encouragement for sanctification. Whenever he talks about growing in faith, he talks like the beefiest muscle man speaking to that wimp who’s just decided to hit the gym. 

He teaches us to discipline our bodies and keep it under control (1 Corinthians 9:27). He teaches us to see the day of Christ’s second coming as the goal, to run for it, to finish (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Another great stumbling block for me (and some others I know) is the discouragement that comes when you’ve dedicated your life to Christ, and then you sin. You begin to mourn, but an unaware Christian can fall prey to the Devil’s schemes by beginning to believe that God has forsaken him.

Have you ever thought, “I can’t stop sinning! God must not want me”?

I have. I’ve had sins I’ve struggled with that made me feel ashamed and weak. I have sins I struggle with that make me feel foolish and slow. That’s when this tiny verse from 1 John comes to mind. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1 partial).

If you stop there, your discouragement only grows. Read the whole verse, and even the rest of the second: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: the rest of 1-2)

This isn’t a message saying, “don’t worry if you sin, God doesn’t care.”  To complete this picture, we need one more verse that is typically (even by me) misunderstood.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Remember that sadness and remorse I mentioned above? That’s a good thing. The difference between the redeemed and the unredeemed has a pretty simple measuring tool (there are a few, but I’m focusing on this one): The unredeemed don’t mourn their sin. They don’t feel guilt. The most painfully misguided think their sin is like some sort of unlimited credit card that Jesus will pay off. Let’s think about this realistically. 

A father gives his son a credit card with which he should buy some food. The son proceeds to buy whatever he wishes, choosing not to purchase any food, but instead using it for women, drink and debauchery. When that father receives the bill, do you think he’ll simply pay it with no complaint? Won’t he instead say, “Son, I gave you that card for things you need, and you just used it to put your life into a deeper pit.” Would that father, no matter how much he loves his son, choose to still pay that bill? Now you could run off on this tangent, but the truth is the father (even if he really wanted to, which I affirm he wouldn’t) would ether be unwilling or unable.

When we mourn our sin. When we strive to change our lives, we stumble. Like the person who’s just started working out, we pull muscles. Our commitment fades for a moment (usually because of discouragement, which could deny them the spirit necessary to push through, or because of a true unwillingness to put forth the effort, which shows the person never wanted to change in the first place).

But if we remember what Jesus said, we can seek that comfort, and there is much comfort to be found. This comfort doesn’t brush our sins aside as if they don’t matter. They lovingly tells us we’re forgiven. They tell us to rise again and trust God, who’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This is all to help one realize becoming Christian in no way makes you perfect or sinless. It’s the beginning of the journey, and the end comes when you finish the race. Run! Sprint! If you fall, get back up and keep running! The Lord is there waiting for you! He’ll wrap you in his arms and welcome you. You just have to keep running.

For our panel: Do you ever feel discouraged? What do you do if you do feel discouraged? How does one address any critics who may become aware of a sin you’ve committed? I guess that question is in regard to people who want to call you a hypocrite. When you stumble, in whatever way, how do you maintain that you are indeed saved even though you’ve just sinned? How should a person respond if they sin? Does a person’s sin immediately mean he’s not saved? Are you willing to share a sin you may have struggled with even after salvation?

Musings on Christianity 6

Musings on Christianity 6

What Is Evangelism?

“Go therefor and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

That just about sums up my knowledge on what we’ve been commissioned to do. When I start my deep study of Acts, I hope to gain more insight, but at this point, I don’t really know how to evangelize. Do you? What is evangelism?

I can tell you what worked for me: Patient insistence. 

In each phase of my life, I always had at least one patiently insistent friend. These were the friends who invited me to church or Bible study. These were the friends who were always willing to discuss Christianity whenever I had questions. These were the people who lived liked Christians, inspiring me to be more like them.

Of course, this topic relates to the moment of salvation. How does one know they’re saved? I think some do have moments that are defined, but I don’t think every person must have some defining moment of salvation.  If anything, the most recognizable evidence of salvation is a life change. For some, it’s more subtle.  Others, that change can be dramatic. But every instance of salvation usually is followed by a committed change to an old life. How different? Depends on the life. A lustful drug addict my turn from drugs and prostitution, thereby changing what might very well be everything about his life. But the young man raised to be Christian may simply offer more time to the church or change his social group.

We’ll have to discuss what salvation looks like from a life change perspective at another time, but this tangent is only to articulate that from before I was saved and throughout my walk in the faith, I’ve had those friends.

I tend to want to mimic this. I’ve had the pleasure of doing some formal evangelism with my church. To be clear it was one time, but I intend to do more. I just didn’t want readers to think I’m in front of a store or on a street corner every weekend. But is that the only way to evangelize? I think not.

The very way a Christian lives (See Chapter 2) can be a form of evangelism. When you watch a guy who always seems content and fulfilled, you kind of wonder what that guy knows that you don’t. When someone says, “How do you do it?” You respond, “Jesus Christ.”

What do people see you doing? What do you talk to people about?

I aspire to be a man who is clearly seeking Christ. I enjoy having the chance to talk about how I make decisions, because there’s usually a Bible reference coming. Do I wander around everywhere just randomly quoting scripture? No, but I bring up the Rule Book in a lot of situations.

Does that mean we shouldn’t be on street corners and in front of stores? Why wouldn’t we, but the techniques we use matter. Literature and a polite invitation to talk are great. If you have to stand in a person’s way, that person clearly isn’t interested in talking. If you have to shout, that person clearly isn’t interested in listening. If that person only wants to shout at you, that person early isn’t interested in listening. All the most major influences on my growth as a Christian are people I consider soft spoken. I’m not saying they aren’t strong people (at least one of those I’m thinking about is a woman). But they weren’t shouters or ranters

I currently am, and this is an area in which I hope to grow. No, I’m not shouting at people about God, I’m just a loud guy. I shout about the game. I shout about the movie. I shout about work.

These people, however, typically aren’t known for yelling or anything. They just speak the truth.    

We should absolutely be proclaiming Christ, and while we should seek opportunities to do this in our communities, we should also seek to do this in how we live and act.

For our panel: How do you evangelize? What obstacles should we be ready to face as we seek to evangelize? How do we overcome those obstacles? What scripture do you go to most when evangelizing? Why? Is evangelism the end of the task? If there is more, what comes next? Would you care to share a favorite evangelism moment or the moment you heard the call to Christ?

Musings on Christianity 2

Musings on Christianity 2

What Does It Mean To Be A Christian

Growing up, I was exposed to people who would block my path on the street.  “Do you know you’re going to hell?” the representative would ask.

“But I’m saved? I believe that Christ died for me,” I replied.

“So what church do you go to?” he asked.

“I don’t go to a church,” I replied. The last church I went to told my mom to forgive her child-molesting husband and maintain the marriage.  Their exact words were, “Get over it and keep your marriage.”  So I had some issues with church.  That memory played in my mind as I answered the representative.

“If you don’t go to church, you’re not saved.”


I’ve seen pictures of protesters at a Soldier’s funeral. The protesters held signs that read something like, “God killed your son because he was a … ” they used a derogatory f-word implying the Soldier was homosexual. There was no evidence available regarding the Soldier’s actual sexual orientation.


Is that what Christianity is? Is that how Christians should act?

I’ve seen protests, and honestly believe peaceable protest is a critical freedom for our country. But listening to the comments and reading the signs caused me to wonder, “is that what Christianity is about?”

This was a huge stumbling block for me to my faith. Regrettably, that was a very common thing in my home town. That was the norm. So, from my point of view, that was what Christianity was.  But is it really? What does the Bible say about how Christians should work?

For my part, I want to start with the obvious. The name Christian is derived from the name Christ. So a Christian is most simply put one who acts like Christ and/or believes in Christ. The book of Acts called early Christians followers of The Way. What way? The book of John has that answer: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).

So again, the simplest answer is those who follow Christ. So what does it mean to follow Christ.  How should Christians act? A further look into scripture provides a few (what I call) checklists. One who claims to be a Christian should be one who tries to embody these traits.

From Matthew, the Beatitudes: 

Be poor in spirit.

Be mournful of your sin.

Be meek.

Hunger and thirst for righteousness (in yourself).

Be merciful (that’s not the same as tolerant).

Be pure in heart.

Be a peacemaker (the best peace you can make is through evangelism. Make peace between God and his children).

Be encouraged when you are persecuted and reviled for Christ’s sake.

Now that last one sometimes encourages people to do the things like I spoke about above, but this section isn’t about evangelism or spiritual warfare (both are interesting topics, but not the one we’re discussing today).

The idea here though is you should strive to embody all of these traits. But there are more we can see.

Romans 12 offers more guidance:

Don’t be transformed by the world. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

Think with sober judgment.

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil.

Hold fast to what is good. (Jesus summed these last two up well above by the phrase pure of heart.)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Be fervent in spirit.

Be patient in tribulation.

Be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul continues to support Christ’s Beatitudes with some phrases:

Bless those who persecute you. Do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.

Weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another (in this context, Paul is talking to other Christians. I’m not stating we should be at animosity with others, but the hermeneutics demand I explain that point.)

More traits from Romans 12:

Do not be haughty.

Do not be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil.

Never avenge yourselves.

This wonderful segment concludes with one of my favorite verses. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

We must also look at the very commandments God gave to Moses. Some people will honestly argue, “That’s the Old Testament.”  There is an honest belief to some who think the New Testament overrules the old. We’re certainly under a new covenant. We’re not judged by the law. That’s a good thing too because we’d all be doomed. However, the New Testament doesn’t in any way negate the old. Jesus taught us this. “Do you think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

We therefore must acknowledge that a Christian must strive to obey these commandments, first given to us in Exodus chapter 20:

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me. 

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

In Matthew 5, Jesus even goes on to expand those commandments. Once more, he doesn’t dissolve them. Instead, he revealed how deeply those commandments apply.  He expands on adultery and murder. 

Anyone who angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder in the eyes of the LORD. (Matthew 5:22)

Anyone who looks lustfully at another woman is guilty of adultery. (Matthew 5: 28)

If you’re like me, you may be wondering, “How on earth could ANYONE do, or avoid doing, all of these things?” In point of fact, I got angry today (as I typed this).

No one is perfect. Remember that new covenant we are under? We are saved not by the law,  indeed all the law does is condemn us. We are saved by grace. (Romans 3:24)

Now, if you’re like me, you probably then think, “Oh, so I can sin all I want because Christ died on the cross for my sins.” Nope again! Paul asks that question and then answers it in his own beautiful debate-style of writing. “By no means!” (Romans 6:2)

So, looking at this scripture as a whole, we learn that Christians follow Christ. They believe he died on the cross and was raised. They then turn from their sin (repent) and follow him (sanctification).  God knows our sinful flesh is incapable of following that law perfectly, so his grace, and the blood of his only son Jesus Christ, saves us (grace). 

So we are left to hold true to the faith that saves us and strive to bear fruit and be sanctified. Our salvation grants us the Holy Spirit, who instructs us so we are better able to follow the commands above and reflect those traits above.

For our panel: How can we apply these concepts to our daily lives? Would you care to expand on any of these concepts? What aspects of being a Christian did I leave out? How can one best pursue a life that reflects these things?

Thanks for reading,


Sonnets For My Savior 49

Sonnets For My Savior 49

Why I Need Him

I can’t do enough on my own.
I dive into the mud every time You wash me.
There is nothing good in my flesh or bone.
This is why your sacrifice is the key.

Born into an imperfect body,
I could never claim or attain perfection.
However, the flawless grace You embody
is what gives me justification.

By myself, wrath is all I deserve.
By Your side, forgiveness is what I will receive.
I am alone, if my self is all I serve.
I gain life if in You I trust and believe.

His righteousness is the cloak I wear.
Alone, all of my deeds done without Christ wouldn’t receive a single care.



My Desperate Need

They pile up on me;
another comes even as I cast the first out.
I’m drowning in a filthy sea;
I can’t find any pure water in this drought.

Like skittering insects they crawl over my skin.
Sin seeps out of every pour.
I realize there is no way I can win.
For every sin I avoid, I commit a hundred more.

Indeed I do do everything I hate.
I fail to do that in which I would take delight.
My sin piles up on me, and I can’t bear the weight.
There is no part in me that is right.

Only Christ can take it all way,
which is why I seek him each and ever day.


The Distance

The sun is closer to the moon.
A flower’s petals are closer to the top of a tree.
Midnight is closer to noon
than your glory is to me.

A deep sea fish is closer to a vulture in flight.
The street is closer to the top of a tower
than my ability is to your might
or my strength is to your power.

Filthy rags are cleaner than I am
when compared to your holiness.
The worst criminal is more blameless than I am
when compared to your righteousness.

But you still sent Christ to die and pay my price
so that I might be saved and worship you in paradise.



Wonderful Gifts

A wife who loves and respects me.
Sons who listen to and obey me.
A roof to offer shelter to me.
Food and water to sustain me.

Family and friends who love me.
A job I enjoy through which, You provide for me.
Brothers and sisters in Christ who offer fellowship to me.
A church home to educate me.

Your Holy Word to feed me.
Your mighty power to protect me.
Your Grace to forgive me.
Your Glorious Son, who bled and died for me.

All these good gifts, You have given me,
but the greatest is the last, for it is what set my soul free.



My Safety

My sprit is secure, Lord, in your mighty hands.
My body is safe, Lord, for it is where you live.
Where others build on soft sands,
my home is built on the foundation you give.

You are my shelter, and with You, I am secure.
I fear nothing, for You are with me.
No matter what happens, I can be sure,
You will never leave or forsake me.

Creator of nature and man,
my trust is in Your sovereign plan.
The things I fear I can’t do, with You, I know I can.
You walk with me no matter how far my journey may span.

Whatever trials or threats come to me,
I can be brave, for You are my safety.



The Low Door

The door to Heaven is low.
One must crawl to enter.
To the humble one, God’s blessings flow.
The door won’t permit those who feel like the world’s center.

The haughty and prideful don’t understand.
They can’t compare to God’s righteousness.
They think they can earn inheritance of the land.
They are blinded by their foolishness.

Only God is truly good.
All fall short of His perfection.
None who would justify themselves to God could.
The only path to life everlasting is confession.

The high door leads to destruction.
But the humble who enter the low door will find salvation.



All I Need

I do not pretend I don’t desire more.
There is much I’d like to see.
But I have already received so much that I’ve asked for.
I don’t know how much happier I could be.

The Israelites were taken from Egypt and set free,
but they grumbled and complained so quickly after.
Their hardened hearts had a brief time of glee,
but they demanded and rebelled thereafter.

I pray that won’t be the course I take.
For I seek to remember what I’ve been given.
The LORD God filled my heart, which was empty with ache.
With him to provide, I need not be so driven.

Dear God protect me from a heart of greed.
Let me remember always that I already have all that I need.

Sonnets For My Savior 45

Sonnets For My Savior 45

Faith, Not Fear

Grant in me a heart that is bold.
Let my faith in You never waiver.
When You speak, let me have the faith to do as I’m told,
for obedience to Your will comes before Your favor.

Your will, LORD, not my own.
Let me walk your path always, straight and true.
When You call, let me answer without a grumble or moan.
Guide me to put myself aside for You.

Let my thoughts be on Your wisdom, not my fear.
Let my heart be filled by Your spirit, not my desires.
Let obedience to You fill my heart with cheer.
Let Your will reign and my own expire.

Let my faith and trust be ever with You.
Place in me a heart that is willing to do whatever You ask me to.



To Him Be True

Action behind speech.
Deeds to support every claim.
If you would gather others and teach,
do not practice sin, lest you lie against His name.

Stand in the light.
Avoid standing in darkness.
Seek to do what His word says is right.
Live as He lived, and testify as a witness.

To be true to thine own self,
places one’s self on the throne.
Instead set aside yourself.
Make your heart His and His alone.

Practice righteousness and avoid practicing sin.
This is the way to be true to Him.



Every Day

Let Your word reside within me.
Let Your commandments delight me.
Let Your peace be upon me.
Let Your grace be with me.

Let me contemplate Your word every day.
Let me pray for Your wisdom every day.
Let me seek to serve You every day.
Let me be pleasing to You every day.

For Your word is my path.
Your Light is my salvation.
Your grace is all that saves me from Your wrath.
Your Son died for my redemption.

Regardless of whatever I may go through,
let my mind, heart, and soul always belong completely to You.



His Freedom

Even if every sin were as a feather,
the weight of mine was as a mountain.
My sins became a gripping tether;
they formed a cage I was trapped within.

So numerous, they overwhelmed me.
So vile, they disgusted me.
So deep, they comprised me.
So convincing, they deceived me.

Jesus Christ set me free.
Jesus Christ made me clean.
Jesus Christ helped me see.
Sin was the disease; Christ is the vaccine.

There is no chain He can’t break.
There is no person he can’t remake.



It Cleanses

His blood cleanses it all.
It cleansed a thief on the cross.
It redeemed the apostle Paul.
It purifies all transgression regardless of the severity or cost.

Repent, all you killers, and you will be clean.
Repent, all you adulterers, and you will be clean.
Repent, all you liars, and you will be clean.
Repent, and trust in His blood, and you will be clean.

Do not hold back for fear of how severe your crimes were.
Do not hold back for fear that you can’t be redeemed.
Seek Him, and He will give you succor.
Seek Him, and you will find more than you’ve ever dreamed.

The filth you carry can be washed away.
All you need do is call on Him, so do it now; do it today.



The Sick

Oh LORD, be with the ill.
Heal  them, and they will be healed.
Their bodies can be cleansed if you will.
For our trust is in you and the great power you wield.

Let them seek your face
and turn from their wicked ways.
Then offer them your mercy and grace.
Let your peace be with them for the rest of their days.

You created the body, and you can make it whole.
You created the heart, and you can let its beat continue.
You created man and breathed into them him a soul.
You made all things, and you can make all things new.

If it is Your will, let this cup pass from the afflicted.
Let their bodies become whole and their hearts be uplifted.




You were redeemed,
but you are not perfect.
You were never as good as you may have seemed,
nor are you as holy as you may project.

Beware the desire to call out the sins of others.
Public shame is not fellowship.
We are called to judge our brothers,
but don’t pretend righteous judgment while committing self worship.

There is no one who is good.
Not even one.
Your redemption doesn’t permit you to do as you would;
It is a commission to do as Christ has done.

Do not publicly scoff at the sins of others to elevate yourself.
It is written, “he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.”