The First Thing

Haven’t posted a lot of new things lately, but if this current work assignment has given me one thing, it’s a lot of time to think. What I’ve been thinking about the most lately is that things are different now for me then they’ve ever been.

This has come to pass in stages rather than all at once, but I honestly believe that nothing at all would have ever happened had it not been for the first thing. And that thing was realizing that I mattered to the One responsible for everything, that the one who crafted the stars had also been responsible for crafting me in all my flawed and imperfect glory. And I don’t mean just knowing in my head. More importantly, this realization was a truth I felt in my heart since I met Him.

The best way I’ve ever seen that represented is in a scene from the tv show, The Chosen:

Mary Tells Nicodemus about the difference Jesus made in her life and I’d say it was a similar experience for me:

I was one way, and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened between was him.

Not exactly the same for me, of course, but similar.

I was one way, and now I am completely different.

The thing that happened in between was him.

Satan Wants My Squeaker

I had this dog for a while who would utterly destroy all his squeak toys. It didn’t matter what they were made of, it typically only took him a few days to get at the toy’s squeaky little heart.

He would do it through small wounds, generally, and just work the toy over. He’d pull out little bits of stuffing from each tear in the material and deposit them on the living room floor as he worked to get at his ultimate goal–the messy death of the squeak toy.

When he finally got there, he’d crush the squeaker between his jaws and then just lay there and enjoy the carnage he’d created.

This morning I was thinking how much my faith is like one of those dog toys.

I’ll get wounded from time to time–small tears in my fabric. A little stuffing will come out, sometimes more than a little. Yet because my heart is still squeaking, I convince myself my wounds are only superficial. It’s only a cut or two.

I tell myself the cuts are no big deal, and since they don’t (really) threaten my life, I don’t need to worry about them.

The world–and life–are the cause of the tears in my fabric.

The world can’t get to me because of my faith, or because my wounds really aren’t that bad.

My wounds are not mortal.

And then the truth came.

1. It isn’t one singular tear in the fabric of my faith that will be my undoing.

2. It’s the collective whole of my wounds and the blame apportioned for their cause that can draw me away from God if I let them.

3. It’s separation from God that will kill me.

4. The tears in the fabric of my faith are caused by doubt, and by whispered lies from the enemy about God, and myself, and my wounds.

Another truth that came to me today is that for every lie we’re told and believe there is a corresponding truth from God.

We can fight the lies with truth, and it is that same truth that heals the tears in our fabrics–in my fabric.

It’s normal to doubt. Doubts mean you take your faith seriously, and provided you don’t allow them to overrun your faith, they can help you in the end. That is, if you seek the truth with a disciple’s heart. Doubt can only overcome you if you let it–if you do not fight.

Make no mistake, there is an enemy to fight. He prowls around like a lion (or perhaps an angry dog), looking for something to devour (1Peter 5:8).

That something is you. And me. It’s tough to hear, and even tougher to talk about. People want to hear platitudes, and that everything is good and beautiful and that they are saved from harm by faith.

That’s true, but not the only truth.

Our enemy–and I do mean Satan–can and will stop at no height or depth in his quest to separate us from God. He tears at the fabric of our faiths, and our lives. He burrows deep in our guts, attempting to get at our hearts.

He can’t unless we let him. We don’t have to.

We can fight.

We can pray the armor of God daily, and we can seek the Lord’s truth in and for our lives.

Otherwise, the world is the least of our worries. We’ll end up like this poor thing, but for eternity.


I Have Decided

People talk a lot about what it means to be saved. They discuss the semantics of it, and different ways they believe it can and cannot be achieved.

Many doubt there is even such a thing as salvation at all. In order for salvation to exist, there must be a thing or perhaps circumstance we are delivered from. In order for mankind to be delivered from sin, sin has to exist.

If sin exists, what is it, and what is the punishment for committing it?

Perhaps a very simple way to put it would be that it is something that pulls us away from God and toward the world, or ourselves, and our own gratification and glorification becomes paramount. The punishment is death.

The semantics of sin have generated endless hours of arguments, likely millions of written pages, and one dead and resurrected savior.

So what does a person have to do in order to be spared eternity outside the presence of God?

Some believe all one needs is to a be a good person. Treat people well and be nice to dogs and homeless veterans.

Others think faith in God receives the gift of salvation rather than causes it.

Then you have decision theology, which tells us one must make a conscious decision to “accept” Christ and follow his teachings to be saved from sin and its penalty.

I think that some people make it a lot more complicated than it actually is. They’ll talk about theology like monergism and that doesn’t sound like Jesus at all to me.

I think you truly do have to simply decide to follow Jesus, and then do it. It is a lifelong commitment, and it is not always easy.

I think of the old hymn, composed in India “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus. Who knows how this hymn was actually composed? I’d like to believe it’s the first version given in the above linked web page, but the truth is that even if it is not, that does not make the words any less true.

Here is a beautiful version of the song, and the story behind it.

As for me, I have decided to follow Jesus.