This is a poem I wrote back in 1998 (2 years prior to my conversion). When I was 16, I “gave my life to Christ.” However, I never considered myself to be a Christian, because I could never “act” or “be” Christian. I spent 9 years (1991 to 2000) wrestling with the fact that I couldn’t follow the “law” to the tee. I read and reread the book of Proverbs, which contained all that I believed I needed to do to be righteous and holy (the words of Proverbs are unreadable in my first bible, they were underlined so many times). Yet, daily I failed miserably. If I ever felt like I was “getting it,” I was most certainly destined for a major failure, which would dash my fragile and robust pride to the rocks, thus, leaving me hopeless, helpless, and near despair. The poem that follows was written out of one of those failures…
Sean Norris, one of the pastors of an Anglican church plant in Pittsburgh, PA, (Southside Anglican Church, www.southsideagnlican.org) provides a gospel centered response to the question: what does it mean to be “free” in Christ?
Healthy People Don’t Need a Doctor
I had a great conversation with a friend a while back. He shared with me what God has been teaching him about resting in the amazing grace and freedom of Christ. He admittedly does not have it all figured out, but as I listened to him my heart burst with joy and gratitude for what God is doing! It’s a big deal when we begin to grasp the freedom and liberty we have in Christ. His comments reveal the gospel taking root in his heart expressing itself in love.
If you have ever struggled with wanting to be loved or feeling unlovable, please listen to this message from Tim Keller. He redirects yours eyes to the true Lover of your Soul.
I have often struggled to understand the concept of asking God for forgiveness. I know it is a command (I John 1:9), but I also know that even before we ask we have been forgiven. This truth is demonstrated within scripture: in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-33); in various verses like Psalm 103, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit” (2-4a); and in Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing to the cross.”
Recently, I read in Brennan Manning’s book, Ragamuffin Gospel, two paragraphs that clarified the concept of asking God for forgiveness. . Here they are, in their entirety; I hope it encourages you the way it has me.
Bible teacher and retreat speaker, Reina Cherry brings a message of good news! Although we still try to commend ourselves to God, the truth is that the written code held against us has been cancelled. Jesus has done it all; your sin has been paid for in full.
You can listen to the other sessions from this retreat here:
1) I am a lot more scared than I’d like to think
2) I don’t like to trust
So, in essence, I’ve realized that I am just like the rest of the human race. Shocker.
These realizations have been uncomfortable, to say the least. But why? I mean, if I’m just like every single other person out there, then shouldn’t I actually feel more comfortable?
Well, see, we humans are a strange breed. Instead of embracing our helpless state and casting ourselves upon the grace and mercy of Jesus, we resist our fallenness like it’s the plague. We hate having to ask someone else to clean up our mess. We’d rather say, “Just tell me what to do to fix this,” instead of, “Just tell me what someone else had to do to fix this.” Deep down, we feel our desperate need for help, for salvation, yet we are allergic to dependence. We only want help if it’s a help we can give to ourselves. We only want salvation if it’s the kind we can accomplish through our valiant efforts and strivings. Even when someone offers us a helping hand, our natural instinct is to wave it off; thank you but no thank you, I’m just fine on my own.
If you are willing to be a “bad” Christian, you are ready to be a true Christian. If you insist on being a “good Christian,” you will never get on your way to experiencing a real life of faith. The pursuit to be a good Christian is an illegitimate quest. You must be a bad Christian or no Christian at all.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
When we set out to follow Christ, sometimes we expect to look like a champion marathoner. We envision ourselves running steadily on a dirt path through a beautiful amber canyon at dawn, a bird chirping while a gentle wind conveniently nudges us forward. But as many of us have already experienced, there is a gap between the ideal and the actual—between fantasy Christianity and real Christianity. Instead of running like Olympian Florence Griffith-Joyner (“Flo-Jo”), we run like a college freshman making a mad dash for the campus shuttle that is pulling away from the curb. Complete with spilled coffee on our shirt, heavy backpack slugged over one shoulder and arms flailing, we yell, “Wait!”
Be encouraged as our friend, Curt Benham from The Village Church at Vinings, gives us the Good News amidst our doubt.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Last night I told my daughter that she needed to stop thinking about her day and just go to bed. It’s something that I have to tell myself often because there is a natural self-examination that happens at the end of the day; an examination that tries my faith and leaves me with a scorecard in hand.
For some reason, I find it necessary to look over the events of the day, tally up my sins vs. my successes, and place myself in one of two categories: “good enough” or “not good enough.”