Sunday, December 24, 2006

Humble Savior

The Service was great, the turkey was fantastic, the relatives are napping, and I'm... blogging!

Merry Christmas all! I don't get to see my dad preach much these days... different states... but we were able to visit today and he asked me to read the "gospel" reading, which I was honored to do. The sermon was very inspiring. In my own words:

The little town of Bethlehem... what good can come out of such a little town? The humble girl Mary... what good can come from her life? A King who 'ruled' with Love... what??!!!

Power-seekers, money-seekers, self-seekers, etc, are not the ones you see God living in and through. The poor, the humble, those who Trust God and not Mammon or Power... these are the ones who relate to the babe born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough.

Christ... who though He was rich yet He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.

I can't say that I'm never self-seeking or that I never lust after the things of the world, but I can say that the more I understand the poverty of Christ, the more I understand the true wealth that I already have. The things of the world become less and less appealing.

I once tried to "give up" the things of the world through "trying." I thought I had to somehow come up with the strength to let go of the things of the world, and then to embrace Christ. Long story short, I can't. But through growing in my understanding of who He is... over a long period of time... by and by the world looks more dim and the things of heaven a little more clear.

It's no longer my effort, but rather His working in me. He's patient, AMAZINGLY patient! Soooo patient, in fact, that He never loses His patience with me. :) No wonder that any time I'm patient in any area of life, it's not any good quality that I've come up with. It's the fruit of Him in me.

I seem to be digressing... but all that to say... Merry Christmas! And thank Jesus for humbling Himself... coming to our level... becoming one of us... coming to an obscure small town, to an inn with no room for Him, to a people with no room for Him... and living and dying for us. For bringing God to us, since we could never make it there ourselves. And for making us to be like Him.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Life has always been by grace

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Life has always been a gift from God. Life was given to man before he ever even existed! How could he have ever earned it!

So now man had life - a gift from God. God put man in a garden paradise. The tree of Life was in the midst of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam had life. He was already created in the image of God. It was a gift of God's grace.

However, Adam was given a choice. God told Adam that if he touched or ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. Long story short, Adam believed the lie of the serpent. He was deceived into believing that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil contained something that he was missing and that he needed.

We all know the story. Rather than finding blessings in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam wound up finding death and curses.

We may think we'd choose differently if we were Adam. But think again. We make the same choice that Adam made, week after week - in CHURCH (!) and in how we choose to live our daily lives.

And we really ought to know better! We have the whole story right in front of us.

Adam was booted out of the garden, and all of mankind was kept out of there. He was separated from the tree of life, all because he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man now knew good and evil, but he no longer knew LIFE. It was supposed to be the other way around! Man now lived by the knowledge of good and evil, rather than by the grace of God and the life He had freely given. It wasn't meant to be that way!

However, long story short, Jesus came and restored us to LIFE. Living by the knowledge of good and evil would never give us life. Again, as Adam found out, it brought death and curses! God's law was put into effect to execute the consequences of the original choice to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - the curse. Paul rightly called the law "the ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation." Like Adam, Paul had thought that living by the law (the knowledge of good and evil) would give him life, but he found it was really ordained for death (see Romans 7:10). Why do we keep making the same mistake, especially when we know we've been redeemed?

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Galatian 3:13), but for some reason, instead of simply remaining with Him (He Himself is the way, the truth and the life), we fall back onto the law - the knowledge of good and evil - when it comes to daily Christian living!

The law is no more a set of values that we were meant to live by, than the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was!

We were meant, from the beginning, to live by grace - to live by the very life of God. By continuing to try to live by a set of rules or principles based upon the knowledge of good and evil (the law, or any set of "rights and wrongs") is to believe the same lie that Adam originally believed! Friends, we've been redeemed - to LIFE.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Siamese Twins

This is kind of a clarification and/or a correction of my previous post entitled "You Are Loved." In that post I wrote that God's love is not based upon His mercy or grace. I said that it precedes and transcends mercy and grace, and that it is not conditional of mercy and grace.

I was watching a video that Steve McVey had posted on his blog. It was a video of his appearance on a Canadian TV show. In it, Steve briefly mentions what he calls the "Siamese twins" of God's love and grace. God's nature is both love and grace. In that sense, God's love doesn't supersede or transcend His grace. The two are both His nature, inseparable.

I know I'm parsing my own words, perhaps unnecessarily. :) I think the overall point stands. God is love. You can't earn it, you can't shake it, you can't work for it, you can't get rid of it. God is Love and will always be Love. What we do or don't do (for better or for worse) has absolutely nothing to do with God's love. My correction of myself would have more to do with the conjoined twin of Love: Grace!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You are loved

Forgive the simplicity of this post. When you get to the heart of it, there's nothing profound or revolutionary about what I'm going to say. However, it's so simple that I think we miss out on what it really means. It's almost too good to be true, so we feel we must add to it in order to justify it.

God loves you.

It's not about anything you've done in the past ("good" or "bad") or anything you're currently involved in doing or anything you will ever do.

It's not that God loves you as a result of you doing anything great for Him or for people.

It's not that God loves you "in spite of" you doing any bad thing against Him or against people.

God's love for you is not based anything whatsoever at all (pardon my imperfect use of English) upon the result of anything you've ever thought, said or done, no matter how noble or sinful. It's not based upon any action or inaction. God's love is not even based upon His mercy or grace. It precedes and transcends ("exists above and independent of") mercy and grace. It is not conditional of mercy and grace.

God loves you. Period.

(!)

We've got to get the notion out of our heads that God's love is a response to anything we've done. We've got to do away with the contradictory notion that unconditional love can ever have any conditions whatsoever!

God loves you...
Because He loves you.

God loves you because He is (unconditional) Love.