What follows here are several versions of what I believe is the defining song of Christ-followers, both past and present. And if anyone would know what it meant to be saved by Grace, it would be John Newton.
Month: September 2008
What do I DO?
Something just occurred to me–an unexplained craving I can think of no solution for. I’m very upset.
Where can a guy get funnel cakes when there’s no county fair in town.
This morning, I woke with the word “sanctification” in my head. Very nearly on my lips. Actually, I may even have said it to myself. I sat in my usual chair to read, and thought about it for a couple of seconds. And then asked Jesus.
What about sanctification, Lord?
The answer was merely the word repeated again.
What does that mean, Father? What do you want me to know about sanctification, or being sanctified?
And that was it. No more words. I prayed about it for a few minutes longer, and then it was time to finish packing for Yuma, and play with Sumo a little before I left.
But when I got to work, I was still thinking about it. I’ve never really been one to hear from God the way you hear about others doing it, so it was interesting that the time I did, I didn’t really understand what he was saying to me. For Pete’s sake, I wasn’t really even sure what the word meant.
So I looked it up.
according to dictionary.com, the top 3 definitions of “sanctify” are:
|1.||to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.|
|2.||to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.|
|3.||to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding: to sanctify a vow.|
Looking at those definitions, the first thought that occurred to me was, “Sanctify? How in heck am I supposed to sanctify anything? Make holy? It’s hard to even make anything clean.”
And the truth is, I can’t make anything Holy. I can’t purify. I can bless, but if it isn’t in the name of Jesus, my blessing would be without meaning or power. And I certainly can’t free anyone or anything from sin, not even myself. There’s only one way to do that, after all.
The third definition talks about rendering religious significance to, and also mentions making legitimate or binding. I don’t believe I can make anything have a particular religious significance, either. How could I make anything merely significant, religious or otherwise?
I think the answer lies in what is significant to me. It doesn’t make sense to me to invest too much of any kind of significance on an object–an object is simply that. I can’t sanctify an object. I could make it into a golden calf of sorts, but that only makes me a pagan idiot. And the object, whatever it is, is still just matter. Or cells. Whatever.
What can be sanctified, then? What can be rendered legitimate or binding?
I think it gets even more complicated. You can have something be legally binding, but devoid of any real kind of significance. Contracts, for instance. You can be bound to something via a piece of paper, but the paper itself is meaningless without something of you on it that makes it real and identifies it with you.
We don’t make a contract with God, certainly, but when we accept him into our hearts and lives, when we begin to be fathered by Him, we are sanctified. We are made legitimate. Our names are written in His book, and His blood makes the whole thing binding…
Then we’re made Holy.
Maybe that’s what this morning was about. I needed to reflect on what it is to be made Holy. I needed to think about what “Sanctification” meant to me.
What does it mean to you?
I love this song…
Resistance is Futile
I try to fight stuff. I do. Sometimes I win, but often I don’t. But I was thinking about it, and it seemed to me that the times I don’t are the times my focus is not in the right place. Kind of like focusing too much on the problem, and not enough on the solution.
An example would be the problem I mentioned a while back about food, or my diet. However you want to say it. What I would do would be to focus on the food itself. What I could have. What I could not, or should not have. And eventually, what I could not have would take the place of what I could in my thinking.
I would stress out and obsess about it, but I would not think about what would actually help.
Making Jesus the focus, rather than trying to lean on my own strength–or weakness, depending on how you look at it. I wonder now how much less difficult it would have been to “trust in the Lord, and lean not on my own understanding.”
My tendency is to try and fight battles like that on my own. I lose them.
Or maybe lust could be the problem. If you’re struggling with pornography, for example. Or maybe, as a believer, you’re trying to adhere to biblical abstinence (and that works the same for a man or woman, I believe). Or it could be alcohol, or drugs. These things, especially, I think people are inclined to try and fight on their own.
Not surprising, really. These things are embarrassing. Lacking self-control is embarrassing. And really, it should be easy to not….indulge, shouldn’t it? In whatever the vice, whatever the sin.
But it isn’t easy at all.
It’s tough. And since I always try and fight these fights alone, it’s just that much tougher. I focus on the battle. I focus on the problem. I miss the solution. I think a lot of people do.
We miss God in all of it.
I think the solution is that we need to look a little higher than the earth, and that often isn’t the case at all. We need to look beyond our stomachs, or thirsts, or “needs” for chemicals, or our libidos.
We need to look beyond ourselves for answers.
We need to look to God first.
Not that it will make everything easy, because it won’t. But if we have a loftier focus than the earth, if we
Turn our eyes upon Jesus
then the things of earth really will grow strangely dim, or at least dimmer.
And we’ll be able to see.
And be helped.
Grace is enough
Some days I don’t feel much like a new creation.
Probably everyone who believes has those kind of days–days where you feel subject to your base, primal urges, instead of having them be subject to you, and to God. Or maybe I’ll just get really angry at someone in traffic, or in line at the grocery store. You know what I mean? There’s always going to be someone who cuts you off, or who brings 37 items into the express lane.
My first response to these people is always anger, and never grace. At the least, I want to yell at them. I want to try and make them understand they’re an idiot, and I’ve been horribly inconvenienced.
I don’t do it, but I want to.
The injustice of it all.
And it feels like simply wanting to do those things is sin. It is.
If God knows my every thought, and numbers the hairs on my head (well, he did when I had hair. Maybe he counts my eyelashes now), then wouldn’t he know that I want to do a flying sidekick into some old lady’s face in Albertsons because she didn’t start making out her check before she got to the cash register?
Of course he would.
Or how about if or when I spot some attractive young woman walking on the street and let my mind wander for a second? Or think about being intimate with a significant other?
While it’s true that the former potential situation feels more sinful than the latter as I write it, both of them actually feel that way sometimes, depending on the context.
The truth is that there are certainly untold number of situations that could or would feel sinful, and when I’m in them, I feel miles from God. I don’t feel like a new creation. I don’t feel cleansed by the blood of Christ.
I feel dirty as hell. I feel tainted by the world.
(…..What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus….)
But the Word promises that isn’t the case, if I know Jesus.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through faith in his blood.” Romans 3: 23-25
He was sacrificed, for my atonement. He IS sacrificed for my atonement. Daily, His blood makes me clean, even when I don’t feel that way.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6: 1-4
Live a new life. I get to live a new life. I want to live a new life, subject to the will of God, and not to sin.
and then this, from 2 Corinthians 17-21:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
We might become the righteousness of God?
Change the world
I never wanted to change the world.
I would look at it sometimes and see that it needed changing, and in some cases, really was a horrible freaking place. But even at those times, I could see that the best I could do was try and change my own personal world, or perhaps better said, ask God to change it.
If he can change me, and my world, and set me on a path that would cause me to interact with others that could or would be impacted by my story, then he can do the same for anyone else, if they but ask. So what I have been moved to do of late is to simply tell people what God has done–and how He’s changed me.
Maybe it’s like Pastor Mike says, and someone is out there waiting to hear my story. I don’t know. I just know I want to tell people about it. I am changed, and I continue to change, thanks to the Holy Spirit working in my life. I continue to heal.
And lately, that healing has been especially moving and powerful. God has sent a person to me, an amazing, beautiful woman of God, a woman that is helping me to heal one of my most painful wounds–my heart. She’s a blessing, and I can’t believe that I’m with her sometimes.
But I am.
We got to worship together this past weekend, and it was hopefully a portent of things to come. I look forward to finding out. My world is changing….
Lately, it seems like the blessings are piling up for me. I haven’t done anything special to deserve them, yet there they are.
I am so thankful…
Taken from the “stuff Christians like” website…
#397. Feeling too small for God.
Maybe He doesn’t. I mean, maybe He’s up there and He’s working on really big stuff. He’s healing famines and trying to bring peace to war torn lands. The greatness of His issues makes your little issues look ordinary and simple and maybe even boring.
But every now and then I come across a verse that shakes my deep belief that I am beneath God’s radar. One that I love is Psalm 56:8. Here, in what hopefully makes me look pretty smart, is the King James Version:
“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”
But maybe you’re not old school, so here’s what the New Living Translation says:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
I think that’s beautiful. Can you imagine that? Can you picture God doing that? Taking His giant hands and tenderly picking up every single one of your tears? Knowing why they came, understanding what they mean, placing them in His bottle, so that He can comfort you.
That’s how God spends his days.
That’s how small this big universe is.
Son of God
This might be one of my favorite worship songs of all time: