Tag Archives: Gospel

Talking to Myself

8 Sep

I tend to talk a lot. If you were to ask someone who knows me if I am talkative, you would get an answer along the lines of “He’s quiet”. But I do talk a lot. I talk to myself all the time. Some people might think that does not count as talking. Well, what is talking anyway? Isn’t it just conversing with someone? Can’t I converse with myself?
But that’s besides the point.

I talk to myself so much because I think too much. Whenever I have a decision to make, whether minor or major, I think of every possible outcome and the consequences of all those outcomes. It’s a long process, believe me. Sometimes it’s profitable, but other times it just over-complicates everything for no real reason at all.

I do that a lot with spirituality as well. My rational side discusses with my spiritual side about a certain topic in the bible and very soon I’m having conversations with myself. I’ve done this a lot in the past with the gospel.

Here’s a snippet of what I mean. (I paraphrased a lot. I don’t use this kind of vocabulary when talking to myself.)

__________________________________________________

Rational: Because of God’s sovereignty, He allows Satan to do certain things, correct? God “allowed” sin to happen in the garden. God “allowed” Satan to enter the garden in the form of a serpent and God “allowed” Satan to tell vicious lies to Eve about the forbidden fruit. But how can God, a supposedly loving heavenly Father, let such malice and evil enter and torment His creation? Does He not want the best for His children? Does He not love His creation? Our faith is blind if we worship a deceitful God.

Spiritual: We were made for the son to be glorified. We were made to lift our eyes to the heavens and say “My help comes from You”. We have no good besides Him who molded us in our mother’s womb.

The next question is, “How does sin factor into our lives which must be fully devoted to glorifying Christ?” What you do not see, Rational, is that sin is both the ending of something terrible and the beginning of something magnificently beautiful. Because of our sin, we fail. Because of our old nature, we fall short of glory. But it is by the tragedies of our sin that we turn to God for everlasting righteousness. The life full of sin with no reason to boast in itself is the most likely to accept Christ and all his Father’s promises. A life with little sin and many accomplishments will reject righteousness in Christ. It believes that it can obtain righteousness itself without God’s intervention.

So you realize now how important sin is for God to receive glory? Without it, there would be no motivation to turn to Him and render Him glory.

This however does not mean that we are to continue living in sin to give Him even more glory. With His son’s sacrifice, we have new life and are dead to the sinful life we lived before coming to Christ. Sin is done with. We are victorious in His name and nothing, especially more sin, can separate us from the love of God.

__________________________________________________

Well this is part one. Maybe I’ll write a part two next week, or maybe not. For now, I think  I’ll just continue to blab away… to myself.

Advertisements

A Truth is a Terrible Thing to Waste

28 Aug

I think Christians don’t practice evangelism as much as they should. Maybe it’s because we feel awkward telling other people how to live their lives. Maybe it’s because we believe people will come to salvation by God drawing them to Himself and not by some street preacher. Whatever the reason is, I’m convinced we’ve got it wrong.

Why does Jesus tell his disciples to be “fishers of men” as a last commandment before he leaves for heaven? Why does David say, “I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will turn to You” after he repents from his sin with Bathsheeba? Why does Psalm 73, the very middle of the bible and of the psalms and often regarded as the pinnacle of the bible, end with, “I will tell of all your deeds”?

I am by no means telling Christians what to do. I hardly ever evangelize and if I do, it’s usually a short one-minute conversation. I’m probably not the only one for whom this rings true. We’ve become so caught up with things in the church that we’ve forgotten the people who walk by the chapel window on Sunday mornings. They are looking for truth. We have the answer. But we keep it in our pockets.  That makes a lot of sense…

Jesus, Thank You

23 Jun

Sovereign Grace Music and Bob Kauflin have once again moved me with one of their songs. “Jesus, Thank You” was recorded live at Next 2009 conference in Baltimore, same as my other favorite, “All I Have is Christ”.

This song hits home on so many different levels. It’s an outpour of what our hearts feel every day. There are so many moments in my life when I just think about the cross and Jesus in agony for our wretched lives. How on earth could the Son of God have died for all my sins,past, present and future? It makes zero sense, but it really happened. God really did send His son and Jesus really did have those nails pierce His palms. Jesus really did hang on that cross for hours. Jesus really did forgive those who mocked Him and Jesus really did die for all sins of those who embrace His sacrifice.

This song brings our confusion of the cross together with what our response should be. The verses show how mysterious and amazing Jesus’ death was; God crushing His very own Son so that His former enemies could be transformed into His friends. Then we respond with the chorus, “Jesus, Thank You”. Such a simple way to express our feelings, but also the most efficient way, but the song isn’t over just yet. In the bridge, we come to God with more than just words expressing our thanks. We come and we say, “Because of what You did for me, I want to live for You.” We need to want to live for Him. If we just say, “Thank You” but we don’t follow up with a testimony of what He did for us in our lives, than those words are useless.

Listen to it and sing it in your heart. He died. We are confused as to why, but He did die. Jesus, thank You. I want to live for You now. Isn’t that the least I can do? Live for You who died for me? Help me to live for You.

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

Lyrics by Pat Sczebel, recorded by Bob Kauflin and Reilly at Next 2009 conference.

There Just May Be Another Fisherman

19 Jun

In my last two years of high-school, I decided to start speaking to my friends about God. Some of them were professing Christians, some were catholic, and some just didn’t care about theism, but that didn’t matter. It was pretty cool to see their reactions to my beliefs. I would bring my bible to classes and sometimes my friends would open it, start reading, close it and give it back to me with a grin. They didn’t know what to think, but I made sure that they knew what my faith was all about.

One of my friends in particular, one of my closest friends at the time, became mad every time I talked about God. She was born and raised in a catholic family, but she only went to church for Easter Sunday and Christmas and she didn’t know Jesus as her personal saviour. I remember one afternoon we were both waiting for Math class to start and I mentioned God in our conversation. She was so frustrated that she said, “Do you always have to talk about God?!” She wasn’t happy at all and I think our friendship was affected because of my faith.

I didn’t do much else to introduce the gospel to my friends. All I did was talk about my faith and even though that’s better than not talking about faith at all, I still think sometimes that I could have done a better job at evangelizing.

But God showed me something recently that I wasn’t aware of a couple years ago.

Have you ever watched the movie, A River Runs Through It ? It’s a great film directed by none other than Robert Redford about a reverend in Montana and their two sons who love to go fly fishing. The two sons eventually part ways to pursue their own careers and are reunited later in their lives. It’s a great movie and if you haven’t seen it yet and you love a good motion picture, I suggest you rent it today.

There’s this one scene where Norman, Paul and Rev. Maclean (their father) go fishing in their favorite river, Black Foot. Norman (played by Craig Sheffer) sits with his father (played by Tom Skerritt) and they both watch Paul (Brad Pitt) as he fly fishes. Paul spots a great place to cast his hook and it pays off. A huge fish bites and takes Paul down the river a few hundred meters until Paul finally catches the tired fish. Here’s the clip.

Jesus tells his disciples to that they will be “fishers of men”, and if you’re a Christian, then you are called to be a “fisher of men” as well. To be “fishers of men” means to go and tell the world about the gospel of Christ Jesus and actually fish for people to join the kingdom of heaven. We are like Paul, fishing in a river for men to follow God. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of perseverance and dedication before you finally catch a fish, but sometimes they actually get away.

When I left high-school, almost all of my friends weren’t Christian and that made me sad. I often wished that I could have done more to bring them to God and sometimes I even got mad that God didn’t allow them to be converted through my testimony. I know, it sounds really selfish and foolish of me, but it’s the truth. I didn’t realize that even though so many fish got away from my bait and my hook, there may be another fisherman down the river who just might catch one of my friends. I’m not the only fisherman out there and I have to now trust that God will provide the right fisherman for my friends. If it happens that my friends meet many Christian fishermen down the river and escape each one, then so be it. I did my part to spread the gospel in high-school and even though I wish I could have done a better job, I can’t be mad at myself or God because I have no idea if my friends will meet other fishermen. I may even see that girl who got mad at me while waiting for Math class for talking about God in heaven some day.

You’re not the only fisherman. If you’ve been telling friends  about God and they don’t want to hear it or if you’ve failed in the past to lead people to God, don’t beat yourself up. Continue to talk to people about God even if they hate you for it. God may use you to convert your friends or you may be used to first plant a seed in their hearts and another Christian will lead them to Christ, if it’s God’s will for them to be saved. All you could do is persevere and pray for them. Continue to cast your hook into the water and let God take care of the rest.

All I Have Is Christ

25 Apr

Last year at Next conference, Devon Kaufflin and Na band sang this song called “All I Have is Christ”. I first heard it yesterday, and I literally have not been able to stop listening. It is so inspiring, so biblical, so moving and so true.

I’m really tired of shallow Christian songs that we sing on Sunday mornings. Some songs seem like they could be sung on the radio by the Backstreet Boys. Most of the words in modern songs are true, but we’ve forgotten theology in our contemporary Christian music. Songs like this one brings biblical theology and music together so beautifully.

Here are the lyrics:

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Let’s not forget theology in our music.

Forgiven Mocking Forgiver

4 Apr

We often take this time of year to remember Jesus Christ on the cross dying for us, for our sins. We think of the pain of the whips piercing his flesh, the crown of thorns pressed on his brow and the torturous walk up to Calvary. Then we remember how nails pierced his palms and his feet and how he stayed on that cross for hours upon hours and we mourn at the cross as Jesus’ mother did.

But we often forget one important aspect.

Stuart Townend says it perfectly in the second verse of his modern hymn How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.

“Behold the Man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.”

We are no better than the soldiers who spat on Jesus 2,000 years ago. We mocked him at the cross and we mock Him when we sin, when we take the cross for granted. We are ashamed at our mocking voice, but in His awesome grace, he says to God to forgive us while we mock Him.

That’s the beauty of the cross: we are forgiven while we mock the one who forgives us.

A Bagel and Cream Cheese for His Glory

14 Mar

Last week was my spring break, so I decided one day to head down to Steve’s Music Store to buy something for my guitar. On my way there, a homeless man came up to me and asked me if I could buy him lunch at Tim Horton’s, a bagel with cream cheese.

I wasn’t used to talking to homeless strangers, so I quickly, almost as a reflex, said, “No, I’m sorry.” I knew what I had done was wrong, so I promised myself that if I would come back that way to return home and find him still searching for food, I would buy him that bagel with cream cheese.

Twenty minutes later, on my way back, he was still there. I walked right up to him and surprised myself when I boldly said, “You! You want a bagel with cream cheese? Alright, let’s go.”

The waiting line was quite long, but I didn’t want to wait in silence. I asked him, “Who is Jesus?” His answer blew my mind: “The greatest man who ever lived.” We started talking about the bible and spiritual matters and he was telling me how he read the whole New Testament and from Genesis up to 2 Kings. Before leaving, I handed him a gospel tract, just to make sure that he understood salvation, and he promised to buy new reading glasses to read the tract.

This was my first encounter with a homeless beggar, and definitely not my last. God has opened my eyes to the needs of others, and we all need our eyes opened to this reality. This man wanted a simple bagel and cream cheese for his lunch, around $2 with tax. What did you eat for lunch today?

Jesus died for the poor as well and we need to spread the gospel of love to these people. They need Jesus, but just as the Ethiopian said (Acts 8:25-40), how can they understand salvation if no one explains it to them?

%d bloggers like this: