Over and over again
I can’t seem to win
same song, same dance
why do I always give in?
Time seems to speed up
sin has become a cover
deceptive, enslaving, debasing, and evil
I cannot escape, for I am a sin lover.
Trapped in worry, a debt to pay
the light of truth, a flicker in the dark
dispair, faithless, unbelief, and guilt
the gospel lost, for I missed the mark.
How could the perfect One love the vile
the darkest of sinners, who loves himself
self-righteous, self-serving, untrusting, and unloving
trying to hide my sin that is displayed on a shelf.
Yet, You see, You are not blind
my sin depicted like a book telling a story
love, forgiveness, hope, and grace
stuck no more, freed by the blood for His glory.
If there is one thing in a Christian’s life that is of the up-most importance that would be to preach the gospel to yourself daily. There are a number of reasons why… in fact there is a wonderful book that I have been reading called The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent and this book is full of great reasons to preach the gospel to yourself. I highly recommend the book. I am finding that when I dwell on the gospel it helps me so much in my everyday life. Especially when I am dealing with guilt. I seem to deal with guilt a lot. It is hard for me to see my sin, all of my screw-ups and failures, and be able to look at the gospel. I am amazed at how easily my mind and heart are captured by something other than God. Yet the gospel is still true. What it says about me is still true. I am still His son. I am still an co-heir with Christ. I am still loved by Him. I am still completely forgiven. This is so hard for my little works-based mind to grasp. And preaching the gospel to myself has helped a great deal. Last week my guilt was building up so much that I was having difficulty praying. It was so hard to believe the gospel, but finally God came. I wrote this one night last week and it has been so helpful for me. So to those struggling with sin. To those who feel so guilty. To those who have a hard time believing God’s glorious gospel. Here is some encouragement:
Come to Him
On what basis?
My mind races
Several different places
Stealing my heart
Driving me apart
From my King
Who took death’s sting
Given heavenly riches
Without any glitches
Adopted by Him
Wooed by Him
Reconciled to Him
Loved by Him
Bought with blood
By His grace
I can come
Alright so I thought I would give those who do read my blog a little taste of one of the activities that I get to participate in at Immanuel Church, which is our Tuesday night Men’s Group. We meet almost every Tuesday and this night has become one of the highlights of my week. When I first heard about men’s night I pictured it as a tight knit group of guys, between ten to twelve, who study the Bible together, they minister to one another, and pray for one another. This picture got me really stoked. What could be better? However, when I got there I was quite surprised to see around forty guys show up for this, much bigger than I expected. Now I was even more interested.
As the night began they would open up with a question, the first week I was there was about our favorite Christmas carol. From there Ray Ortlund, the pastor, began to teach. It’s crazy I had heard a lot about Ray, I had even heard him preach before, and knowing that he would be there, I am not going to lie I was pretty intimidated to meet him. But that night seeing him sitting in a circle with the other guys of Immanuel I saw, not an intimidating pastor, but a warm, welcoming, and approachable pastor who would teach the men of Immanuel about the upcoming year and how to prepare for it.
Once Ray finished teaching came two more activities. The first is walking in the light. This is where the guys would be open and honest with one another. Many bring up the struggles they are facing and others offer encouragement and gospel to help. The final thing we do is honor time. This is by far my favorite time of the week. The men in the group have the opportunity to out-do one another by honoring them. This time is very uplifting, not because I am getting honored but because I get to hear about how God is at work in other people’s lives. It is a time where we do nothing but lift up and encourage each other with the gospel. This is something that I have never seen before, I don’t think I have ever seen a group of guys sitting in a circle trying to strengthen and encourage each other, and not just with vague truths but with specific instances. They point out things like how they have seen God change them in certain areas of their lives or how Christ-like they were in certain situations or how an act of kindness meant a great deal to them or how they just loved having them around. It is amazing what kind of environment this creates. Such love and authenticity. I don’t see these guys trying to tear each other down with “light” jokes and sarcasm, which is what I am accustomed to doing. Instead I see men genuinely loving each other by pointing out Christ in their lives and this type of love creates a safe and freeing environment. I am not scared of saying the wrong thing or confessing sin. I don’t have to worry about the guys pointing and laughing at me or even making jokes about my sin, because I know they care and will pray for me and continually give me the gospel which is what I desperately need.
I love Immanuel church and the men that are apart of it. God couldn’t of put me in a better place. These aren’t perfect men, but they love God and want the gospel to shine in their lives. They are the most challenging group of guys I have ever been around and I barely know them. I can’t wait to continue to go deeper with them.
How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts that we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!
Life seems to go by so quick. It seemed like yesterday I was being dropped off by my parents at Tennessee Tech University with no friends and not a clue with what I wanted to do with my life. Now five and a half years later I find myself in Nashville, TN beginning the next chapter of my life. I have just started work with a company called edo Interactive (there is suppose to be a line above the o). I have enjoyed my first two weeks a bunch. I currently am living in Smyrna, TN which is about twenty-five miles from work. That doesn’t seem to far, but in Nashville traffic that equates to about an hour drive. So the commute has been a little rough, but nothing terrible. I have been thinking a lot about my life and where I would like to see it go and one big question that I’ve have been faced with is “Am I playing games with Christianity?” When Apostle Paul wrote Romans 6-8 he was addressing one big question and that question is “How does grace work in a person’s life?” The answer Paul gives is simply: Grace works by changing a person from the inside.
Paul first says that grace has completely saved them through the blood of Christ. Making them perfect through what Christ has done (this is called justification). The second is through sanctification (which is the process by which God makes us into the image of Jesus). Once Paul establishes this concept in Romans 6 he then lays out two different concepts in Romans 7, one being sin and the other the Law (or Ten Commandments). He then declares a very simple statement that says, “The Law is good, righteous, and holy. And sin is utterly wicked, enslaving, and debasing.” Now for us this may be common sense, but when we go deeper into these statements there is much more than meets the eye.
For me this has been something I have been challenged with quite a bit because Paul is trying to get me to see that I must be fighting sin and not just killing sin, but doing righteousness. Living out Christ’s obedience. And the crazy thing is I don’t obey the Law simply because I want to be moral, but because sin keeps me from loving, focusing, and cherishing God. Sin keeps me from a deeper intimate relationship with God and so when I am pursuing righteousness (the Law) my relationship with God grows deeper. I can focus on Him and begin to really see and experience the love that He is giving me through the blood of Christ. This perspective has helped me so much lately. Not just with seeing my need to fight sin. But helping me see that I have been playing games with Christianity. I toy with sin and do not run to Christ as treasure.
God has been showing me that my life should be about One person. God. And not because He is “whipping” or “making” me, but because there is nothing better to run to. So now I have begun to walk through Psalm 119 simply because I need better perspective on the Law of God. I want to truly believe and be convinced that this Law is exactly what I need to pursue in order to have a deeper and more intimate relationship with God… completely free from sin! Because if we are not convinced that the Law is here for our good then we will never go to it. We must truly be convinced that the Law is not a burden and Psalm 119 has really challenged me to see that. I don’t want to play games with Christianity. I want to honor and love God with my life and observing the Law is one of the main ways that can happen.