Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plenty of Room to Merge!



The problem I have with being "saved by Grace" is that it is very misleading, at least the way we use that term it is.  While salvation certainly begins there, it is not Grace itself that puts us on the "narrow road"; it's Grace that allows us to make our way to that road. It's like a (free) boarding pass, if you don't accept the pass, you aren't going very far. However, if you have the pass but don't get on the train, you ain't goin' anywhere either!

Granted, it's not about how fast you're going on the road, what you look like, what vehicle you're using, how often you pull over with a flat, all that matters is you're on the road, and moving; at least moving over the course of your lifelong journey.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age" Titus 2:11-12 (ESV)

When I read that verse today at lunch it reminded me of just that. Grace is given for salvation, but it doesn't end there. It's used to train us to "renounce" our previous methods. It is what gives us the opportunity to renounce them; what gives us the opportunity to board that train, make a choice, and get on the road; even while others laugh at your course of action (that's why the road is narrow).

Also in that verse, the King James version uses the word lust (wordly lusts) rather than passion (wordly passions) as ESV/NIV does. Out of curiosity I looked it up and the Greek word being translated is "epithymia", which means passion, lust, or another definition that I really like is "what is forbidden". That dark cloud of forbidden passion that lures us in, promises us everything, but only gives short term extacy and leaves us with long term pain.

It's that pain that He wants us to avoid, and His Grace was given to train us to avoid just that. It's the pass that allows us to travel that narrow road ... that leads to Him ... waving your pass of Grace while traveling on the wide road will still only lead you to where that wide road is headed ...

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:24 (ESV)
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13 (NIV)

It may be narrow, but there is always enough room for merging! It's guaranteed! =)

Honking (cuz I love Jesus)
~Matthew

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Building for Earthquakes



A building that is made to (try and) withstand earthquakes is not build with rigid stability, but rather flexible design; structurally soft if you will, not iron clad. I was reminded of that today during prayer as I read this passage:

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)

You can call it a struggle, or you can call it a blessing, but stress often triggers heart palpitations for me. A struggle in the obvious ways that it gets scary or distracting (more distracting lately as I’ve been dealing with them for years so most of the scare is gone), but a blessing in a way that it most definitely is a sign to me that I am struggling with something, or not dealing with something properly. However after this passage (once I’ve read many times) it’s clear to me that I most definitely still have a heart of stone in many respects. Something major, or even something simple can trigger my internal earthquakes. The more I’m connected to Him, the softer my heart is and the better I deal with my internal earthquakes. However the more life seems to get me derailed (business, life issues, etc.) the more I try to do things on my own and my heart starts hardening up again. Then even the little tremors can set off some fractures in my heart.

Yet … 

When I see I’ve made some wrong turns, and find my way back to Him, that heart of flesh is there waiting for me. My life didn’t suddenly become less busy, my issues didn’t suddenly disappear … it’s just because I was able to give more to Him so that He can carry those burdens for me.

It’s crazy that I still stray more often than I want to admit, and still try to do things on my own … I know the routine … I know the peace that comes with Him … I know the joy … and my prayer is that I continue to learn from my mistakes, and will be lured away from Him less and less.

Feeling my heart soften …
~Matthew

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Skating with Him





As I was rollerskating with my family (and friends) this past Saturday, it occurred to me that it's much like my journey with Christ. You see, the devil is trying to keep me off the rink, saying things like "don't do that", "you can't do that", "don't you enjoy yourself", "worry about this", etc.

All the while, Jesus is just skating around on the track. Waiting for me to join Him.

When I do, I grab his arm and we have the most amazing time! I don't need to get off the track, in fact I can stay on there forever. The best part is that the enemy can't get "on" the track, he is restricted.

Christ keeps him away; he's just a spectator, with so many others.

It's when I take those breaks, sit down for a minute, have a breather, that he's all over me again. Clawing at me to stay off the track and remain in the crowd. The reality is that he's scared of what happens if I get back on the track ...

The better that I get to know Him, the more joy that fills my life. The better I get at skating, the more fun it becomes. After all, in the beginning it was work. Often seemed like something I had to do, out of obedience. I needed to learn how to skate. There were times I fell, and I felt arms picking me up, it must have been Him right? Anyway ...

Then He begins showing me more skills, tricks, ways to dance, and celebrate while I'm out there with Him. The better I get, the less breathers I end up taking. I just want to "get back out there". I want to stay on the track; I don't want to get off.

What a beautiful picture that the devil has to wait outside the track to get me. After all, in the presence of Christ there is no fear, no enemy.

I see myself smiling more, and my struggles seem to be less impactful. In multiple areas of my life I have found the desire to once and for all say "I'm done". I can't waste my day, this gift from Him, thinking about that garbage. After all, it's just too much fun to be skating!

Then it gets even more fun!

Perhaps every once in a while I'll get the privilege to see someone from outside the rink look at us skating together, with that unsure look on their face that I wore for so long. Perhaps I can see them finally tear themselves away from the claws of the enemy (invisible to them) and get on the track for the first time.

Oh look at that smile! I told you it was fun!

Oh no! They fell down! (It sure does hurt sometimes let me tell you)

I see Him look at me and give me a nod; He wants me to help them up.

"Me?"

What a responsibility; what a privilege!

May we all learn to skate with Him, and may we all learn to help those who fall trying.

I hope to see you on the rink,
~Matthew
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