Monday, November 23, 2015

White As Snow

Saturday morning my wife called attention to our Japanese Red Maple. It was becoming covered in white snow as our first snowfall of the season began to change the landscape all around us from fall to winter, very quickly. I went outside with my camera and captured this picture for her. However as I snapped the picture I could not help but think of this verse:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 ESV) 
As I stared at the scene outside, and stare at the picture now, I can't help but imagine all that has been accomplished for me on the Cross. Even later that day into Sunday, many of the red seen in this picture was stripped away completely as the weight of the white snow was no match for a decaying leaf. Sin is no match for the price that Christ paid on the cross.

Oh what a glorious reality is the one that this picture represents!

Perhaps sadness could overtake me as I stare at that tree.  Not because it reminds me of sin in general, but sin in a very personal way. I would need a much larger tree for each leaf to represent one of the many sins of mine that died on the cross. Yet instead I rejoice because in Christ, that is indeed what they are, dead.

Paid in full, by the blood of Christ.

Enjoy the song ...


♫ Jesus paid it all, 
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, 
He washed it white as snow
O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead ♫

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reaction, not the Action

As a parent I am continually challenged by the various ways in which I need to discipline, encourage, and guide my children. While there is an overarching biblical direction by which I parent, I still have to approach each child differently.  For instance, one of my children's biggest struggle during discipline is not their action, but rather their reaction. I correct them on a specific issue, and their reaction creates a knee-jerk response that often lands them in more trouble than when they started, if they were even in trouble to begin with! The simplest thing can turn a non-situation into something that needs serious addressing.

Recently reading through 2 Chronicles 26 it struck me how Uzziah ran into this very same issue. He decided that he would walk into the temple and burn incense. Azariah and another 80 priests stood their ground against him that he should not do this, as it was the role of priests. In fact, Uzziah was plagued with leprosy over this incident, which ultimately lead to his death.

However it wasn't the burning of incense that caused it, it was something else. You see, leprosy broke out not when he walked into the temple, not when he held the censer in his hand, but when he became angry over their rebuke. It is after this that Scripture tells us he broke out in leprosy.

What can I learn from Uzziah thousands of years later? Perhaps the better question is what do we have in common at times, and without a hesitation I raise my hand and say "pride". 

Going back to my child, while I certainly need to discipline and guide, I must remember that while I correct, I too am being corrected. They may show pride in their reaction to a situation, but no differently than I can list out the times that pride creeps into my life. I cannot excuse sin, but I can show forgiveness like I have been forgiven. I am encouraged and free to correct my children, but may I also freely and openly accept being corrected by my heavenly Father.

May I not be like Uzziah, where I become hardened to a proper rebuke from godly counsel.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Elimination

A Previous Elimination Scene from the TV Show MasterChef Junior
As we were sitting down yesterday watching one of our favorite TV shows, MasterChef Junior, I watched as the contestants approached for the elimination scene. Being brought forward, and separated into two groups, they were unaware of their outcome.

Am I going home?

Am I staying?
Did I do enough?
Did I not mess up too much?

They were either going to exhale in relief, and walk back to their station to fight another day, or they would be asked to depart. Either their journey would continue, or it would end. Yet this moment, while stressful I'm sure, pales in comparison to what awaits each of them in the future; each of us.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' (Matthew 25:31-34 ESV)
Wow! That is one elimination challenge I want to win!

So after this news, what did the sheep do, the ones on His right that inherited the kingdom? Did they, like the ones from so many reality shows after an elimination, breathe a sigh of relief? Did they go celebrate, cheer, or even gloat? Did they walk away with a sense of pride? Did they sit and ponder with understanding what they accomplished? Actually, not at all. In fact Jesus even told them why they were selected. He said when I was hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, sick, or in prison, that you fed me, gave me something to drink, welcomed me, clothed me, visited me, and came to me.

Yet when they heard this news, they did not smile and feel prideful, accomplished, or even recognize such praise. They had no understanding of what they did. They essentially looked at the Judge, and said: "Really? When? When did I do this? I didn't even know I did!"

And I'm guessing you may remember how He responded? Jesus said that when they did those things for the least of these, they did it for Him.

And they didn't even know.

They didn't know because they weren't trying to earn. Their eye was not on the works, though the works mattered, their eye was on their King and His commands. The real prize. Their love for the Lord naturally overflowed into works.

And those to His left? The goats? I will let you read on your own what happens at this elimination ... 

So what do we do with this information? Do we wonder if we are a sheep or goat? Do we wait and see? Do we take confidence in our salvation? Do any of these ways of thinking lead to us doubting our salvation? Do any of these ways of thinking lead to false pride, false hope, and ultimately a false truth?

I have come to a place where my salvation is not my focus; Jesus is my focus. Jesus will work out everything, I need not ponder. He is Just. Besides, I'm not here on this planet to spend my life working out my salvation, I'm here to do His Will. He commanded me to go and make disciples, so I suppose that is what I should do.

So rather than feel bad about the goats, and live a life trying to make sure I'm not one of the goats, how about I introduce a goat to Jesus, and give them an opportunity to switch sides. How about I spend time being what He called me to be. How about I spend time living life with crazy faith. How about I get off the balance beam and take a chance ...

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