Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Love God Like My Wife Loves Frogs… From a Distance

By Kurt Willems at The Pangea Blog

My wife Lauren makes me laugh out loud nearly every day.  She is amazing!  One thing that I find humorous is her fear of frogs… or should I say her love for frogs? Honestly, I’m not quite sure what description describes the situation.

About six months ago, Lauren downloaded an iPhone app called Sleep Maker.  I hate it, she loves it!  Basically, if you enjoy falling asleep under the intoxicating sounds of nature, this app is for you.  Melodic sounds of creeks flowing, crickets chirping, thunder roaring, birds harmonizing, waves crashing… and yes, you guessed it – frogs croaking.  For a month straight, we listened to the setting titled “medium frogs near brook.” Of course, she always falls asleep within 5 minutes of hitting the pillow, while I get to enjoy the full 45-minute duration of croak-age!   Seriously, they should change the name of this app to “Sleep Stopper!”

We currently live in a housing development with an irrigation canal that passes through the neighborhood.  I’m pretty sure that more frogs live in this man-made creek than humans in the whole sub-division.  It makes me wonder if the plague of frogs in Egypt under Moses could even compare to our population of Kermit’s cousins.

When we take our dogs out for an evening walk, the croaking sound is wonderful.  As long as this sound isn’t disrupting my slumber, I enjoy it quite a bit.  For Lauren, it might qualify as one of her favorite sounds on the planet.  She loves frogs from a distance.

But then there’s the other side of my lovely wife’s disposition towards these green wart covered amphibians.  When it gets dark enough, she is terrified that a frog might jump out in front of her.  This fear is somewhat justified as many of the frogs venture into the neighborhood to help cut down our insect population.  The thing that brings her near the point of trepidation involves the possibility of stepping on a frog, which results in two negative results: 1) such a frog would lose its life, 2) said frog would make a “squishy noise” under her feet.

To summarize: Lauren loves frogs from a distance, but fears close contact.

The more I think about my wife’s love and fear of frogs, the more I’m reminded of my life with God.  

From a distance:
  • I sing songs about God.
  • I study the Scriptures.
  • I listen to dynamic sermon podcasts as I commute 40 minutes to seminary.
  • I have deep theological conversations in coffee shops about the mysteries of the Creator.
  • I prepare sermons.
  • I read books about the way of Jesus.
In all these things, I attempt to engage God from a distance.  I deceive myself into believing that these activities are guaranteed to lead me into closeness with Jesus. Sometimes they do, but more often than not, God feels far away.  I think that I’m actually afraid of what it would cost to take my spiritual life to the next level.

I fear that close contact might mean self-sacrifice beyond the simple luxuries I might be willing to give up as a privileged American.  If I get too close:
  • I might lose my comfort.
  • I might have to serve more.
  • I might need to give my life fully to others.
  • I might feel compelled to live in authentic and intrusive community.
  • I might find myself in situations with people I’d rather not spend quality time with, because as much as I may abstractly believe that I’m called to love those in the margins, this takes work.
  • I might even find myself in situations where turning the cheek is a literal demand!
If I am completely honest, most of the time I love God from a distance.

But there’s something more beautiful in this picture. All of the things I fear about getting close to God are the very kinds of things that Jesus did perfectly during his life!  Whereas my tendency is to love God from a distance rather than up close, the pattern of Christ works in the opposite direction. Consider these familiar words from John’s gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made….  14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  John 1.1-3, 14
And then these words from the Apostle Paul:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2.5-8
Jesus doesn’t love us from a distance; he loves us by drawing near.

So, when we feel like our relationship with God is at arms length, may we remember that his arms spread wide open to embrace us all. When we feel guilty for the expanse between our lives and the life of God, may we be encouraged that the resurrected Christ invaded earth from the throne of heaven to eliminate all relational chasms between the Divine and us. And just as frogs may be wonderful from afar but scary up close, may we begin to realize that God comes close to us to cast away our fear. May God’s nearness to us empower our lives to bring Jesus near to those for whom God seems distant.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The perfect formula for God.

By Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like Blog. If you haven't visited his site, it is worth a read. Hilarious and inspired.

God keeps refusing to fit into my formulas for him.

Just when I think I’ve got him figured out, he throws a curveball.

For years, I’ve secretly believed that if I do my quiet times the “right way,” God will be happy with me and bless me and not smite me.

What’s the right way? What’s the recipe for a quiet time that “counts.” I’ll tell you:
30 minutes of prayer
Smidge of writing in a moleskine notebook
At least three pages of Bible reading

Debate all you want about the moleskine, but I’m pretty sure the book of Joel specifically mentions those notebooks are extra holy.

I used to set my timer on my iPhone to 30 minutes, sit down and then try to get my quiet time on. If for whatever reason I could only grab 15 minutes that day, I felt like God was 50% less happy with me. If I missed an entire day, I imagined he was picking out the right lightning bolt to get me with like a golfer picking a club.

My formula was:
“10 minutes of prayer + 10 minutes of writing + 10 minutes of Bible reading = Happy God.”

That sounds so silly when you write it out. That God’s heart is controlled by how I spend my morning is ridiculous, but I honestly thought that. That was my formula and for years I held on to it.

But the more you actually read the Bible, the more difficult it is to hold onto formulas about God. Especially when it comes to the thief on the cross.

Remember that guy? You should. Every time you mutate James’ “faith without works is dead” into “works equals salvation,” you should think about the thief on the cross.

He makes a brief, but spectacular, cameo in Luke 23. As Christ hangs on the cross, the two thieves next to him have a conversation:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

The first criminal tried to use a formula on Christ. Here’s what he was saying:
“The power of God + Threat of a brutal death = Get down off the cross.”

I understand what he was saying. Why would you suffer the worst possible death if you had the power
not to? That is so illogical.

The second thief responds to the first:
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

He uses a formula too:
“Criminal deeds + justice = death on a cross.”

They were getting what they deserved. The formula for that one was easy. He continues speaking:
“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

That’s his second formula. He’s saying:
“The innocence of Christ + justice = freedom from the cross.”

By all forms of earthly logic, it made no sense for Christ to be on that cross. We are criminals. We are exactly where we should be. This man hanging next to us, is not.

What does Christ say in that moment? When formulas are flying? When formulas are ruling the conversation? When formulas are loud? He breaks them all.

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus Christ is the formula killer. He won’t behave according to our formulas. He won’t fit into our incredibly tiny expectations. He refuses to be controlled by our logic.

How do we know? Because the thief didn’t get off the cross in order to pay for his grace. The thief didn’t climb down and have the right types of quiet time. He didn’t volunteer for 14 activities at his church that year. He didn’t join a small group.

All he did was bump into Christ and receive grace.

At some point, a voice of doubt, the voice of the enemy, the voice of fear is going to try to tell you that you’re not a good enough Christian. That there’s a formula to God. That if you’d just try harder to be perfect and quit messing up, maybe, just maybe you’ll be good enough.

But when you hear that voice, think of the thief, think of Christ, and think of grace.

Have you ever thought you’re not a “good enough” Christian?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sighs too Deep for Words......

This is by John Coleman.  He is a friend from college and law school. He left the practice of law to go to seminary and is the rector at Ascension Episcopal in Montgomery. 
The telephone call took me by surprise. Calls like this one always do. Even when you expect the news-it’s still a shock. If I wanted to visit with Tom, I should go to Atlanta as soon as possible. Hospice was called in and they felt he was very near the end of his life on earth. What?! I had just seen Tom a few months earlier and it seemed like he was doing better. He had battled cancer for years, but looked like he was on solid ground in the fight. And now it was time to say goodbye?
I took a deep breath and let it out in one big sigh. It was all I could manage. I guess I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m praying for you,” I would say each time I saw him. I was praying for Tom. He knew that; wasn’t that enough? I was overcome with the call to give him more than my assurances. I cleared the deck of a crazy schedule, got in my car and headed to Atlanta.

And then I heard the voice. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the voice that second guesses everything you do, so you end up doing just what you’ve always done, or worse, you do nothing.

“You haven’t seen him in months," the voice chided. "You don’t talk to him regularly. He knows you’re praying for him. You can just send a note.” And then the question that stops so many thundered out. "What are you going to say?!”

I’ve been with people in some of the most difficult circumstances in life. And yet there are times when I still struggle with what to say or do. I always feel like I should have the right words, say the right things and pray the right prayers, after all I'm a priest. And yet all those words in the face of some kinds of suffering can seem empty.

I know I'm not alone in this feeling. I hear these comments all the time: "I wouldn't know what to say." "I'm no good at praying out loud." "I don't know what to do." I watch as these words stop people from doing anything.

As I drove toward Atlanta I was reminded of the Apostle Paul's words in Romans. "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26-27.

The Spirit of God joins our sigh over the struggles and pain in this world. When we don't have the words or know what to do, God fills in the gaps with "sighs too deep for words." The immortal and omnipotent God sighs because He identifies with us. The life of Jesus shows us this. He was plunged into a sea of vulnerability and was subjected to rejection, hunger, weakness, pain and death. His life also shows us that God ultimately brings new life. God controls it all, even when we can't see it or when things don't go the way we would will them. And how we experience our present is completely shaped by what we believe about our future. Our sigh can be the end of it and we can give in to the anxiety, or we can remember the character and history of God.

I walked into Tom's room. His breathing was shallow and labored. He looked at me and struggled to say hi. He couldn't speak more than a word or two, so I talked a little.

I reminded him about the time we first met at a company convention. I thanked him for introducing me to jazz music. Then I prayed for awhile. And then...silence. I sighed. I was out of words and somehow that was just fine. The words were just getting in the way.

I spied a CD player in the corner of the room, so I picked out a Chris Botti jazz selection and hit play. The music filled the room as I sat next to his bed. I held his hand in silence and listened.

And then I heard the voice. It was more of a sigh or groan. I'm sure it was the breath of the Holy Spirit and it rippled over the music and our breathing to the ears of God. I heard it and I'm pretty sure Tom did too. It was the best prayer of all. Without words it reminded us of whose we are and who holds every moment of yesterday, today and tomorrow in the palm of his hand. And through the sadness and suffering the room filled with hope.

There are times when we don't need to have the right words. We aren't required to have it all figured out and arrive with just the right action to save the day. We don't even have to say or do anything. We just have to show up and be fully present. We are after all called to be faithful, not perfect. And when we're open to the movement and will of God, God uses us, even when we try our best to get in the way.

Even when all we do is sit silently with a friend.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rice Night you go....This is tough stuff.

An Ohio pastor's wife blogs the following:

"We started “rice night” in our home as a way to consistently remember those who do not have what we have. Our children LOVE food. And, well, so do their parents. So we really needed to pause each week and think about what a huge blessing our food really is and how we should be eating to nourish our bodies to do God’s work and not just eating for the self-gratification of it. So we decided that on Saturday nights (our Sabbath/day of rest), we would eat nothing other than a bowl of rice for dinner. We use that time to talk about and pray for the many children/people around the world who eat nothing but rice… if even that. We share letters/news from children and missionaries we support as well and talk about what their daily lives must be like. After dinner is our family worship time which I’ll talk more about another time, but concludes with praising God for the blessings He’s given us so that we can do a great work for Him.
It’s a great way to open the eyes of our children to see beyond their little worlds and to open their hearts to love those less fortunate as Jesus would."

Once a WEEK!!  Are any of us not too chicken to try this even once a month or once a year?  I can't even imagine what my family would say if I suggested this.  Dare we try this?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


"Tomorrow I plan to work, work from early until late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."
    -Martin Luther
"Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time."
    -Charles H. Spurgeon

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How Could God Ask That?

From Nancy Guthrie at The Gospel Coalition:
In our Sunday school class circle we were discussing Genesis 22, the account of God coming to Abraham and telling him to take his beloved son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. “I have always struggled with this story,” one man in the class said. “I just can’t understand how God could ask Abraham to do that. It just seems so cruel.”

Many of us have struggled to understand what seems like an outrageous request. And it is not only this command to Abraham that confounds us. We also read about Jacob’s wrestling in the dark with God throughout the night until finally God wrenched his hip, leaving him with a limp, and we wonder why God would do that. We read about God telling Hosea to marry a prostitute, to have children with her, and eventually to buy her back from the slave market even though she is already his, and we think we can hear Hosea’s heart breaking. We read about God telling Jonah to go to Nineveh to call Israel’s enemies to repentance, and when we get the full picture that these are the Assyrians who have slaughtered Jonah’s fellow Israelites and hauled them off to concentration camps, we think this is simply too much to ask of any man.

We are a bit offended on their behalf. How could God ask this of them?

And we’re also a bit afraid. Might God ask something like this of me?


Outrage to Adoration
Perhaps we’re meant to feel a bit appalled. Perhaps it is not until we feel a sense of outrage over these seemingly unfair requests that we can be prepared to feel an appropriate sense of wonder when we begin to see what we’re meant to see in these difficult-to-swallow scenarios. When we begin to see what God intends for us to see, our outrage gives way to adoration, consternation gives way to worship, and horror melts into humility before a God who, rather than asking the unthinkable of us, has done the unimaginable for us.
Why would God ask Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice? Is God trying to teach us that we should be willing sacrifice what is most precious to us? No. This story is not recorded to inspire sacrifice to God. Instead, it paints in vivid colors the sacrifice of God. The point of this story is not to convince you that you must be willing to sacrifice to God what is most precious to you, but rather to prepare you to take in the magnitude of the gift when you see that God was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to him—his own beloved Son—for you.

When we read the story of Jacob and see him walking away with a limp, we’re not meant to assume that God intends for us to suffer this way if we want to experience his blessing. Jacob, who wrested in the dark to gain a blessing for himself, points us to One greater than Jacob who wrestled in the dark of Gethsemane and was crushed by death itself so that he might gain a blessing for us.

When we read the story of Hosea, we need not fear that God might call us to marry an unfaithful spouse just to make a point through our misery. Instead, we’re meant to see that Jesus will join himself to an unfaithful wife—you and me—and make us his pure bride. He will go to the slave market of sin and buy us back at the cost of his own blood.

And when we read the story of Jonah and see him sent to people he has every right to hate because of who they are and what they’ve done, we’re not meant to assume that God is going to require this of us, but rather that he will require it of himself. Jesus will leave heaven to go to a people who deserve to be treated with contempt because of who they are and what they’ve done, yet he will show them grace. He will not be sad when they repent, but will, instead, shed tears over their refusal to repent.

If we read the Bible assuming that we are expected to follow in the footsteps of those who are featured in its pages, we will find ourselves always trying harder to sacrifice and obey but never measuring up. We’ll assume that God asks us to do things that will make us miserable just to put us through a test of our allegiance—diminishing, rather than magnifying God in our hearts. But when we read the Bible recognizing that it is not about what we must do for him, but about what he has done for us through Christ, rather than being offended by what we fear he may ask of us, we find rest in what he has done for us.

What do you think about Nancy's analysis?  I agree with her assertion that these "outrageous" actions inspire worship.  God, unlike Abraham, did sacrifice his son.  God did "wed" the church to his son even though our actions often look like Gomer (Hosea's wife).  But I think the stories can also inspire us to sacrifice or to undergo tough situations in order to glorify God.  I worry when writers suggest that a passage only stands for one thing when God can teach different/multiple lessons from the same story.
What do you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Anyone Tired?

“To whom does the invitation of this cross come?  It comes to the failures, the people who know they have gone wrong, the people who are filled with a sense of shame, the people who are weary and tired and forlorn in the struggle. . . .

Do you despise yourself, kick yourself metaphorically, and feel you are no good?  Weary, forlorn, tired, and on top of it all, sad and miserable?  Nothing can comfort you.  The pleasures of the world mock you.  They do not give you anything.  Life has disappointed you, and you are sad, miserable and unhappy, and on top if it all, you have a sense of guilt within you.  Your conscience nags at you, condemns, raises up your past and puts it before you, and you know that you are unworthy, you know that you are a failure, you know that there is no excuse, you are guilty. . . .

And then on top of all this, you are filled with a sense of fear.  You are afraid of life, you are afraid of yourself and your own weakness, you are afraid of tomorrow.  You are afraid of death, you know it is coming and you can do nothing about it, but you are afraid of it. . . .

This is the amazing thing about the cross.  It comes to such a person, and it is to such a person above all others that it brings its gracious and its glorious invitation.   What does it say to you? . . . You are not far off, and the cross speaks to you with sympathy.  That man dying on that cross was known as the friend of sinners.  He was reviled by the good and the religious because he sat down and ate and drank with sinners.  He had sympathy. . . .

Not only that, he will tell you that he is ready to accept you.  The world picks up its skirt and passes by.  It leaves you alone, it does not want to associate with you, you have gone down, you belong to the gutters, and the world is too respectable to have any interest in you.  Here is one who is ready to receive you and to accept you. . . . Sit down, he says.  Wait, stop, give up your activities.  Just as you are, I am ready to receive you.  In your rags, in your filth, in your vileness.  Rest.

What else?  Pardon.  The cross speaks of benediction, of pardon, joy and peace with God.  It tells you that God is ready to forgive you.  It says, listen to me, your sin has been punished.  I am here because this is the punishment of sin.  Listen to me, says the blood of sprinkling.  I have been shed that you might be forgiven, pardoned, at peace with God.  Oh, thank God, there is also cleansing here.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross (Wheaton, 1986), pages 168-170.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Final Score

By David Jeremiah 
He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death . . . and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV)

Monday night football is played mid-afternoon in Hawaii due to the time zone, so the local TV station delays its telecast until 6:30 p.m. Native Hawaiian, Lyle Akaki, admits that when his favorite team is playing, he is too excited to wait for the delayed airing and listens to it on the radio in real time. Then, he watches it on television later that night. If his team won, it influences how he watches the game: Fumbles or interceptions aren't a problem because he thinks to himself, "That's bad, but it's okay. In the end we'll win."

As Christians, we have no reason to fear death. The game has been played, the Lord has won, and the Bible promises us that "we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection" (Romans 6:5b NIV).

We worship a God who went to battle with death and emerged victorious. As a result, we have a hope that extends beyond this life and promises an eternity spent with our loving Savior.

"I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right."
Billy Graham

Thursday, August 11, 2011


By Jim Martin, of Crestview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas

Some years ago, I read through The Journal of John Wesley. In the journal, Wesley reflects on the mission effort among the American Indians. I was particularly moved by the following lines:

I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. (Tuesday, January 24, 1738)
What a moving paragraph! Wesley went to these people believing that they needed the Gospel. Yet, Wesley knew that he also needed the Gospel. He not only knew that the world needed Jesus but that he too desperately needed Jesus. Perhaps this is a great challenge for anyone who is a Christian leader. How important to know that your need for the Gospel has not lessened because of your ministry. If anything, it ought to make us aware of how badly we need Jesus.

The other line that I found very moving was his comment about having “a fair summer religion.” Does this seem all too familiar?

I’m thankful for these words from Wesley over 250 years ago. They remind me that I need Jesus — desperately. His words are a reminder that our commitment to ministry does not exempt us from our own profound need for Jesus.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


By Allan R. Bevere
Many years ago on a mission trip in Haiti, our group was ministering in the isolated mountains in the west near the Dominican Republic. They village where we stayed was where the road ended. To say it was a “road” was an exaggeration. Early one Sunday morning, we mounted horses and made our way to another village, even more remote, to worship with the believers there. We gathered with them in their sanctuary, a rectangular banana leaf hut. The worship was quite meaningful even though none of us understood Creole. Nevertheless, we didn’t need to speak their language to know that God was being worshiped and Jesus was being glorified.

After worship we gathered at the pastor’s house, a small hut, and we were served dinner. Some of us noticed that none of our Haitian brothers and sisters joined us, but for some reason we didn’t think to ask. We ate a variety of foods and when we were finished, we were quite satisfied.

Later in the day when we were on our way back to the village of our temporary residence, the missionary who was hosting us told us something that made the rest of the trip quite quiet. He informed us that our Haitian brothers and sisters of the village had given up their daily meal, the food they had for that day, so that we could eat. They had given up their daily bread so that we could have ours.

Do we really understand what it means to ask God for our daily bread? We who have more bread than we need? Somewhere, I can’t remember, Bishop William Willimon reminds us that most of us have in the affluent West have more bread than we need. Indeed, more of us in the affluent West will die of too much bread rather than too little bread. How serious can we be when we pray each Sunday, “Give us this day our daily bread?”

I have no doubt when the brother in Christ in Haiti utters that line in prayer, it means something very different from when I pray it. I am sure that when the sister in Jesus offers that request to God in Ethiopia, it is sincere in a way that I cannot fathom. When I say, as I do every Sunday along with the rest of the congregation, “Give us this day our daily bread,” how desperate, and therefore, how sincere am I, in what I say?

Is it possible for me to understand what it means to ask God only for the bread I need for today, when I have bread in the freezer at home? Perhaps, when I ask God for my daily bread each week, such words should remind me of how I must give out of my abundance so that others, who pray the same words, will receive the bread they need just for the present day.

May I be so willing to give up my daily bread, so that others will receive theirs.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Your Delight in Me is not Contingent Upon my Delight in you.

Heavenward by Scotty Smith
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

Dear Father, this is one of those days when I could create a long prayer list and methodically go through it, but I’m not sure I would really be praying. I could go through the motions, but to be quite honest, it would be more ritual than reality… more about me, than the people and situations I’d bring before you. I’m feeling a bit distracted this morning, scattered and not very focused.

It’s one of those days I’m glad the gospel is much more about your grasp of me than my grip on you. It’s one of those days I’m grateful your delight in me is not contingent upon my delight in you. It’s one of those days I’m very thankful for the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Gracious Father, I have no problem or reluctance in acknowledging my weakness this morning. In fact it’s freeing to know your Spirit doesn’t abandon us when we’re weak, but helps us in our weakness. Just as Jesus constantly prays for us, the Holy Spirit faithfully prays in us with “wordless groans.” Though I don’t understand everything that means, I do get the part about you searching our hearts and you knowing the mind of the Spirit, and that brings me great comfort today.
No one knows our hearts better than you, Father. And you search our hearts to save us, not to shame us… to deliver us, not to demean us… to change us, not to chide us. You know my dignity and my depravity, my fears and my longings, my struggles with sin and my standing in Christ. No one but you knows how little or how much of the gospel I actually get.
And at this very moment your Spirit is praying inside of me… perfectly tuned into my needs and in total harmony with your will. I cannot measure the peace that brings. I surrender right now, Father. I will gladly groan to your glory. I know you are at work for my good in all things, including this season.
All I have to do is look at Jesus and know these things are true. You have called me to life in him and you will complete your purpose in me… and in each of your children… and in the entire cosmos. I do love you, I would love you more. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and faithful name.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On the Other Side of the Door

“Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to.  Have we ever opened our door to Christ?  Have we ever invited him in?  This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me.  For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door.  I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole.  I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him.  I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well.  I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good.  But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm’s length, and keeping him outside.  I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences.  I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door.  Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life.”

            ----John R. W. Stott, 1921-2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011


“The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.  Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.  Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”
— John Stott
The Cross of Christ