The Gospel for my messy life …

Posts tagged ‘Real Talk’

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BE REAL through and by the Gospel!

BE REAL through and by the Gospel!

This post came from a Gospel-centered Blog, which I came across several years ago, but unfortunately, I am unable to find the original source of this post, in order to provide the link for my readers. Again, this is not my original thoughts, but nevertheless, I am able to identify and resonate with these words. But I read these words with the Biblical understanding that because of my continuous sinfulness condition, humanity, brokenness, imperfect sanctification, my psychological temperament and insecurities that there will always be an ongoing struggle with being real (in motives, thoughts and deeds). I will need  the proper distinction between Law and Gospel applied to my soul – in order to learn to be real; and in the midst of not being perfectly real – I am still loved, accepted, forgiven and secure in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ who was the only one who perfectly was real. So therefore, the Gospel is the Power of God to save, rescue, redeem and forgive my own hypocrisy within my heart. Only the Gospel enables and empowers me to experience mercy, grace, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, peace and joy in the midst of my messy life of being human, being a sinner and being a child of God.

THE POST ————————————————–

” I’m convinced that I cannot be real with others or myself without the gospel. It’s not a “cannot” like “I cannot eat ice cream because I’m on a diet.” No, it is more like “I cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound.” It’s an impossible cannot, not a voluntary, self-imposed cannot. Without the gospel, being real with others is an impossibility for me. If I lose sight of the gospel, it’s not long until I find myself saying this or doing that so that people will view me one way and not another.

As soon as I begin to say or do things so that others think I’m like this or like that, I’ve ceased to be real with them and with myself. This is hypocrisy. When the gospel loses its central place in my consciousness, my modus operandi is to attempt to create and sustain an identity with which those within my circle of relationships will be impressed.

The main problem with this failure to be real with others and myself is not that I’m failing to be real with others and myself. That’s a problem for sure, but it’s not the main problem. So what is it? It’s my failure to be real with God. My main problem when I’m saying and doing things for the purpose of influencing how people think of me is that, ultimately, I’m failing to be real with God Himself.

Consider two ways in which these two failures are connected. First, when I fail to be real with others, I’m guilty of exalting man’s view of me over God’s view of me. It means I care more about what man thinks of me than I do about what God thinks of me. This is idolatry because it essentially puts another god before my eyes, namely, the god of human opinion. To be real with people means having no other gods before the God (Exodus 20:3).

Second, when I fail to be real with others, I’m guilty of relying upon human works to make myself presentable rather than upon God’s grace. It means that I’m seeking acceptance on my own terms rather than resting in the acceptance that has come to me by grace. Trying to be who I am not before others is a form of works righteousness. It is the kind of thing we do when we are not resting in God’s gracious provision in Jesus.

Choosing not to be real with others is ultimately an affront to God’s grace. Only through the gospel can I admit who I really am to others or even to myself. When I lose sight of the gospel, there’s no way I can bear up under the weight of the knowledge of the sin that lurks within the recesses of my own heart. If I can’t bear it myself, I certainly can’t bear allowing other people to see it. But through the gospel I can bear to acknowledge the depth of my own sin, whether to myself or to others, because it has already been judged in Jesus. As Paul says, for those who are in Jesus the Messiah there is no longer any condemnation (Romans 8:1). The gospel says that because of the work of Jesus not only do I not have a sentence of condemnation hanging over my head but I also have God’s full and gracious acceptance. Only when I see those two twin truths in the gospel, namely, that I’m no longer condemned but rather graciously accepted because of the work of Jesus the Messiah, can I truly be real with others and begin to give God His rightful place in my life.

Beyond this, the gospel also announces God’s provision for my ongoing struggles with being real. It reminds again and again that God has dealt with all of my sin, even my hypocrisy, in Jesus. He accepts me not because I’m being real but because Jesus was real in my place in his life and death. Only the gospel enables me to press forward in my quest to be real with God, others, and myself.”

Christ is the Vine and I am the branch!

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In the midst of my messy spirituality, God’s Grace always remains sufficient towards me. I reflect upon this quote and John Chapter 15 … “For my holiness, righteousness and purity do not grow from myself, nor do they rest upon myself, but are in Christ alone and come from Him, into whom I am rooted through faith, as the sap passes into the grapes, and I have been made like Him, that He and I are not of one nature and substance, and through Him I bear fruit, which is not mine, but the vine’s. Thus Christ and the Christian become one loaf, and one body, and the Christians bear the proper fruit, not Adam’s and not their own, but Christ’s! – Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 330.

JOHN CHAPTER 15

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servantdoes not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

REAL TALK: Note From A Messy Christian – Awesome!

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“I once described faith as something I got on my shoe and can’t kick or wash off. I’m stuck with it. My poems are the trespasses and blasphemies of a malpracticing Christian, one who can’t stop ogling an attractive leg, or wanting to be first, who is venial, foolish, seldom at peace, horny and lonely, and so far from the kingdom of God that his whole life becomes the theme of that distance, someone knowing he is in deep shit. It’s the perfect place to be, where you can’t fool yourself into thinking you’re on the right track… The only thing I have to offer God is my sins. I am interested in mercy when it appears in places where you would never expect it. I am interested in love that shovels shit against the tide. I am interested in grace… It is better to be annihilated and crushed by God, if you are in love with God, then it is to have no relationship at all. Better God smite you than merely be absent. God does not ‘tolerate’ me. God loves me.” — poet  Joe Weil, He is an American poet. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate creative writing classes at Binghamton University. @ http://www.joeweil.org/ 

( Original source: http://blog.prodigalpaul.com/2010/01/05/just-a-little-reminder-of-my-life/ )

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” … inspired…

” … inspired by anger …” – Quote by Martin Luther

” I never work better than when I am inspired by anger; for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.”
– Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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Christ dwells only among sinners…

Christ dwells only among sinners… – Quote by Martin Luther

“Be careful never to endeavor to obtain such purity that you no longer find yourself a sinner, much less desire to be one. Christ dwells only among sinners. This is why he descended from heaven, where he dwelt among the righteous, so also to make his dwelling among sinners. Take note of this his love time and again, and you will experience the sweetest consolation. … And so only in him, through having despaired of yourself and your works, will you find peace. Here you will learn from Christ himself, that he, as he has received you unto himself, has made your sins his own, and his righteousness your righteousness.” – Martin Luther, “Letters of Spiritual Counsel”

Random Thoughts: From My Spiritual Journal

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    FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNAL:

    These are my thoughts and reflections from one of my journal entry several years ago (2004). These words continue to be experientially to true to me.

    The Bible is full of ugly stories, because it is about human beings and sin and darkness. But the miracle of the Bible is that it tells us the raw, ugly stories, but it also shows us how the Grace of God invades those ugly situations and brings something beautiful out of them.

    I am a Christian who at times would really enjoy getting together with a few Christian men to have a great time – to talk, to break bread together, drink a few beers, or wine, to smoke a few cigars – affirming the words of Charles Spurgeon,”I spoke cigars for the glory of God”.  Wow! Awesome!

    Together being real about our uglyness, our many sins that we still struggle with and fighting against, while at the same by the Grace and Mercy of God through Christ experiencing freedom from legalistic-moralistic religious perspectives; through the means of preaching the Gospel to ourselves! Why? Because we are still sinners – yes, I still struggle with my pride, lust, hypocrisy ect. therefore, I still need a Great and Perfect Savior as a Christian.

    Regarding disputable matters based upon personal convictions and matters of personal conscience – expressing grace, compassion, acceptance and understanding to each other as Godly imperfect men. Reflecting and applying Romans Chapter 14; and in 1Corinthians 6 Verse 12, the context deals with sexual immorality, but this verse is an excellent biblical passage that can be properly apply to areas of disputable matters such as masturbation, drinking alcohol, smoking cigars or cigarette, going to the movies or to the beach, going to an Art show that may display nudity, reading secular books, listening to secular music, going to a party, a man having long hair or earings, playing games such as lottery, sports, sexual positions within the context of marriage, kissing or physically caress when you are dating and other such matters of personal conscience. Many other disputable matters that many legalistic Christians and their legalistic preachers make these as “laws/rules” and impose them upon the conscience of literally hundreds of sincere Christians. In other words, The Letter Kills (law) , But the Spirit Gives Life (grace).

    And as Godly imperfect men, having our non-christians male friends join our gatherings, not to preach at the them but to really have them witness and experience real christian spirituality among men, who are not perfect, not legalistic or moralistic; who are truly by the Grace of God able to talk, eat, drink, laugh, or cry with other non-christian male who may not hold to same views or values because they are the so-called “great sinners”, or those “worldly people”, and of cause we are “not”! We really need to step out of the box of the “christian culture” and by the Grace of God engage in life and enjoy all the gifts from GOD such as: take a walk in the Park, read poems, go to a musuem, mentor a young boy or young man, or visit an old friend, write a letter, call a friend, ask your pastor what sins is he struggling with currently [confession is a gift from God, it’s good for the soul!], spend a day listening to different types of music, go to a party, dance the night away, e-mail someone, pray for someone, go and have some ice cream, think positive thoughts today, sing a few love songs to your girlfriend or wife , seek for several mentors in your life, it’s okay to be human – therefore enjoy your humanity, it’s okay to continue struggling with sin and fighting against sin (we live in the reality of Romans Chapter 6, 7, 8, at same time.) –  Why? Because you are a sinner, I am a sinner – so therefore, as a sinner saved and kept by the Grace of God go run to your Savior, go to the Cross and live under the message of the Cross, find your rest in HIM , not in anything else including “helpful tips” to live a so-called “perfect-victorious” christian life. Again, accept your humanity – it’s okay to feel, to have feelings, or even deep emotions – to have fears, questions, doubts, or any other deep emotions of our soul. For me THE GOSPEL has enabled and empowered me to embrace my true humanity with all my deep emotions, which I struggle very often with them, while at the same time they are SIGNPOSTS FROM GOD TO ME to teach me real life lessons. For example for many years I have struggled with the Father issue, and at times still struggle with this because I was abandoned and rejected as an infant by my earthly father, and raised by a stepfather who was an alcoholic, a workaholic and emotionally detached.          I never had a fatherly-bonding relationship, which still today somewhere deep inside of me I long for that – I really do, and sometimes I feel so hurt, so angry about not having a fatherly-bonding relationship – I really long for that – for that positive male role model in my life [I believe every men needs this]. At times I struggle with depression , discouragement, loneliness, anger, and fears, and other inner conflicts, regarding my many sins, my lack of “christian progress”, in my relationships – lack of real deep relationships Christ-centered, Male-bonding spiritual Friendships. I find myself affirming the words of David the Psalmist many times “THE DARKNESS is MY CLOSEST FRIEND” (Psalm88:18). In the past 12 plus years, I have a love and hate relationship with church life and almost everything that represent so-called Christianity, that in my view it’s all about a legalistic or moralistic oppressive spirituality which I am not able and do not want to live under that oppressive spirituality, a spirituality that is Christ-less,Cross-less, No Gospel. No Grace. No Mercy. No Realism. No Compassion. No Joy. No Peace! No Acceptance of Humanity No messy spirituality is acknowledged or accepted.

    I am a Christian because of Christ, through Christ, on the basis of Christ work for me on the on Cross. HE opened my heart and my mind to Him at the age of 12, and HE continues to do that work in me, as I still struggle with my many sins, and often I have found myself loving my sins, more then my Savior, but nevertheless my Savior is not shock about this reality of my messy life. HE is a Faithful Savior to me, who continues to provide to me loving correction filled with Compassion, Love, Mercy and Truth. I am not the person I “should” or “must” be in the eyes of the christian Legalistic/Moralistic culture, but I am completely secure in my relationship with Christ and He enables and empowers me to live by Faith in Him, no matter what! Maybe sometimes the best thing to do, is not to do anything and just be yourself [myself] with all your many questions and struggles which the answers may not be a satisfaction to your soul, but Jesus Himself becomes my only satisfaction in my soul. The Christian Faith is full of Paradoxical Truths and filled with Mystery and it’s okay! Embrace the tensions of your biblical faith, because it will not remove Mystery in your Faith Walk, because you and I are living under God’s Grace and Mercy everyday through Christ – by the means of the Holy Scriptures, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Is a walk of faith towards an Object and that Object is CHRIST HIMSELF. So therefore, CHRIST is more important then all my / your questions. HE is bigger then my fears, HE is bigger and much stronger then my sin of lust, pride, and hypocrisy. HE is in my real life, in my messy life, in my messy spirituality filled with joys and sorrows , hopes and disappointments, sinfulness and goodness. HE is Faithful to me not because of my “progress” or “holiness”, or “goodness”, or even my imperfect “obedience”; HE is Faithful to me because of HIS CHARACTER AND WORK ON THE CROSS for all my sins, EVERY SINGLE SIN! HE extends His Complete 100% Forgiveness to You and I. Christ continues to transform and conform you and I into HIS IMAGE (not the “perfect sinless christian image”), but one who struggles with sins, and cries out “Lord Have Mercy On ME a Sinner”, ” Lord Increase My Unbelief.” or Lord I Need You As My Savior Today”.

    I live today with Christ in my heart, while he reveals to me those sinful attitudes and actions that lies in my heart, and Christ in my mind, which he continues everyday to reveal to me my sinful thoughts and emotional conflicts within me. Christ is in me and with me in my DARK ROOM as my LIGHT in the midst of my darkness. I rejoice because I am completely secure in Christ, while still struggling with sin and growing in Godliness. Christ is my only anchor in my messy spirituality – I LOOK TO HIM, and I am able to be human, acknowledge my sinfulness, and move on and enjoy life with my hobbies and interests, such as praying, reading, writing, researching, mentoring, counseling, teaching, spending time with my wife, watching movies, talking walks in the park, bowling, eating great healthy food, talking to a friend, sending greeting cards, collecting postcards, drinking a beer or cup of wine, or sometimes smoking a cigar. Because of Christ, I have JOY, PEACE, and FREEDOM as I live everyday as HIS BELOVED CHILD. Laughing it’s okay. Crying it’s Okay. Being real is okay and being HUMAN is okay. Being an imperfect christian still loving Jesus imperfectly is okay!

    By His Grace, For His Glory and for the good of your soul.”

    Quote: ” For in the Person of Christ, there is everything, and without the SON, everything is lost. Therefore, it is no small matter that without the Son, we should seek nothing and will find nothing either in heaven nor on earth, for then all is lost.” – Martin Luther(1483-1546)

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