Archives for posts with tag: conversion

outoforderYou see this sign and what do you immediately know: something isn’t working correctly or is broken and needs to be repaired.

I was reading an article by Mike Adams on Townhall.com when I began to think of other ways we are hurt by getting things out of order. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘getting the cart before the horse’, but putting things in that order really is a funky way of moving a cart around, especially if it’s loaded.

Putting feelings before our will/our faith.  Feelings or emotions are the last things that should guide any decisions we make or conclusions we draw.  When we forsake our will and its adherence to the Truth of God’s Word to how we feel about people and things, we will always fall short of the truth. How? By focusing our aim on something that falls short to begin with. Not one of us is perfect or completely right so why would I allow my will to settle for falling short because I might feel better about it.  In the end, feelings don’t account for much. If I feel great about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I feel good about where I am. If I feel terrible about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I’ll be depressed when I die. Have faith in God and let your feelings follow.

Putting the praise of people ahead of the praise of God. This is a close cousin of  putting feelings ahead of our faith. Who is going to validate your life? Who tells you you’re good? If it’s people, know that you will be aiming at a moving target for what is an approved response.  If it’s God, know that the standard you seek to attain will be the same: yesterday, today, and forever, though not popular at given times, seasons, or places.

Putting convenience before our commitments. How many good things could we have accomplished if we didn’t give in to procrastination or momentary laziness?  How many times have we excused ourselves from following commitments by saying we will catch up to them later?

Making decisions and commenting on subjects before seeking the Lord in prayer.  How many complaints and conflicts can be diffused before they begin by simply asking the complainer or the conspirator, “How have you been praying about this?”  “What part of the Scripture led you to this conclusion or course of action?”

If you would like to add to this list, please do. How do things get out of order in your life or in the lives of ones you love?  Help me know where the turn-around battle needs to be fought.

Remember, being out of order is meant to be a temporary situation. There is nothing, by grace through faith, that can’t be restored or turned around.

pridequoteThe seed of sin holds its own destruction. When it first flowers you may not see it. In the beginning of sin, there is only the betrayal, the small failure, the falling short of victory. We feel the dis-appointment. We hopefully are conscious and aware that we have missed the mark. But, we’ve been told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So, one sin begets two; begets a thousand.

We got locked into a self-serving, sin-perpetuating biased way of doing things. At first, the dis-appointment nudged us towards introspection and evaluation. Now, it moves us to look for someone to blame.

True self-improvement will always pull us back towards humility and truly starting over. Sin with all its bitterness will simply demand repetition or recruitment of a crowd that agrees with us.

Pretty soon, a battle is being fought, sides have to be chosen.  Alignment to a path with those committed to breakthrough becomes impossible for us. Why? Because, we are no longer committed to breakthrough and newness of life. We are now committed to putting off and forestalling our breakdown and downfall.  This translates into a commitment to destroy anything or anyone who will once again expose our dis-appointment.

To what are we appointed? The Bible says, we  are all appointed to death and after that the judgement. (Hebrews 9: 27) But, what if that judgement had already been borne by someone else? Indeed, it has been. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9: 28)

For those, who await a different outcome, it is not too late for you. Today, if you will hear God’s voice, the offer of grace stands.  Yes, you are appointed to death but come before the Lord in humility and repentance and let that death be a death to self, a confession of your sin, and a turning to the Lord that uproots you from the life you’ve lived up til now and roots you and grafts you into God’s kingdom.

Yes, you will still be fighting a battle but this one will begin in humility.

keep-on-prayingActs 1: 14 says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

The disciples gathered in Jerusalem to pray and wait for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was Jesus’ last request of them so they might fulfill their commission and become the witnesses they were meant to be. For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus had met with the disciples, eaten with them, given them evidences to remove their doubts, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God.

But, in the midst of this waiting group of disciples a few more people are introduced. The ones I want to observe in particular are Jesus’ brothers. It was only after the resurrection they are counted among the disciples. Proximity had not produced intimacy. Time and teaching had not served as the best healer.

No, it was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that finally made the difference. This is why we keep on praying for other people. We can’t predict when this difference will be awakened in those for whom we pray.

It may be quickly as the Word of God finds good soil to be planted, cultivated, and fruitful in a person’s life. Others for whom we pray may have thorns that choke the Word of grace and something has to happen to bring the light of Christ to a point of breakthrough in their life. Others may have tried to receive the Word of God lightly, holding it alongside their own will. We keep on praying that a day of decision will come when the trouble or persecution because of the Word clarifies for them that Jesus alone is the Risen Lord.

We keep on praying. Some lives are dominated and devoured by the birds of hell that peck the Word out before it can take root in their heart. We keep on praying and following Jesus. We die to ourselves brand new each morning. We bury ourselves in loving and witnessing to others. We rise to tell them the truth. We keep on sowing. We keep on praying. We meet with them, eat with them, and offer them evidences to remove their doubts, and speak to them of the kingdom of God.

We keep on praying until they are joined together with us in prayer.

We keep on praying.

imagesThe dictionary’s primary definition of apron is “a garment, usually fastened in the back, worn over all or part of the front of the body to protect clothing.” But, for my thinking out loud through this blog, I am thinking of the protective paved part of a racetrack or an airport runway that allows some degree of safety or grace where you can miss the mark, yet quickly get back on track without missing the chance for the goal or prize.

Does grace provide an apron? Not an excuse. Not an exception. I understand, like in football, if you are a receiver and you run out of bounds during a play, even in a small way, you instantly become ineligible to catch the ball. I was taught by the Word that if we are born of God we cannot be those who make a habit of running out of bounds and be an eligible receiver of grace.

The hymn, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, echoes the power of Jesus on which we rely. “He breaks the power of canceled sin, he sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean. His blood availed for me.” So, do I need an apron, a protective grace-paved margin in my life to keep on moving forward? And if I do, what does it look like?

What happens when I “err from the truth” or start sliding off the track? Is it inevitable that my slide will go too far and take me out of the race? No. James, the brother of Jesus tells us we need to be “converted” or turned back  into the proper running lane for those who follow Jesus. In some sense, there is a place of conviction that leads to conversion, that leads to complying with the commands of God again.

If we reverse engineer these verses in James, chapter 5, what do we do when we find ourselves on the apron, somewhere off track where if we continue we will certainly wreck and who knows what happens then?  First, we need to quickly and with repentance thank the Lord for saving grace.

We ought to pray, fervently and effectively against the temptations that rain upon us. We ought to sing out loud. I find it impossible to imagine slipping into sin while singing a hymn of faith and devotion out loud. Jesus says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6: 45) so go ahead, and do not give your heart a chance to fill up on the wrong thing. For good measure, pray again. Do not let the day (or this moment) end with unresolved conflict between you and God or you and another.

Let your yes be yes, or your no be no. Don’t try to ride the apron. Get back on track. If the apron is there, it is there for your protection not your participation. Confess your faults and be healed. Get back on track and find your groove where you can move forward with the greatest speed.