The Delightful Way


Amazing Grace…
June 4, 2007, 8:14 am
Filed under: Spiritual Life

This morning, I stand amazed at God’s grace.

I woke to the glorious strains of “Were It Not For Grace” the title track of a wonderful CD by Tara and Nicole Riddell.

“Were it not for grace
I can tell you where Id be
Wandering down some pointless road to nowhere
With my salvation up to me
I know how that would go
The battles I would face
Forever running but losing this race
Were it not for grace.”

During my morning devotions, God was gracious and granted me rich insight into some personal struggles. Then I read a prayer, “The Mover”, in the book “The Valley of Vision”:

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference

   between my receivings and my deservings,

   between the state I am now in and my past

      gracelessness,

   between the heaven I am bound for and

      the hell I merit.

And later in the prayer:

Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell,

But the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven.

Grant me to attain this haven and be done

   with sailing,

and may the gales of thy mercy blow me safely

   into harbour.

Let thy love draw me nearer to thyself,

   wean me from sin, mortify me to this world,

   and make me ready for my departure hence.

Secure me by thy grace as I sail across this

   Stormy sea.

Ah, the Puritans were so insightful.

Were it not for grace, I would be hell-bound, a miserable wretch receiving the just due of my sins. But, God be praised, thanks to grace I can look forward to a Rest I have no earthly right to, I can defeat Sin that was once my master, and I can live in victory through Christ.

All because of grace.

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God’s Role in Deliverance
May 31, 2007, 7:19 am
Filed under: Spiritual Life

This morning, I read Exodus 6. I was intrigued by the sequence of events, so I decided to explore the passage. Observe the dramatic sequence:

  • God promises a radical deliverance of Israel (vs. 1)
  • God reaffirms His covenant (vs. 2-8)
    He affirms His authority (“I AM”), He reviews the history of the covenant, He expresses His reaction to Israel’s bondage, and He promises deliverance—through His covenant promises.
  • Moses tells this to Israel as the word of the Lord. (vs. 9)
  • Israel rejects it. Why? Because of:

a)      their broken spirits

b)      their harsh slavery.

I find this intriguing. The Psalms are full of phrases like, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18) and “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:17).

The problem, I believe, comes in their discouragement. They wanted to believe that God would save them. When Moses first spoke to them (Ex 4:29-31), their reaction was belief and worship. And the result? Their hardship and suffering increased (Ex 5). So, it is understandable that they would reject God when He spoke a second time.

Ultimately, then, it must be God and God alone who saves them.

This has several implications, especially for counseling: When I’m counseling someone, it must be God who delivers them. I can’t, they can’t, only God. My role, then, is somewhat akin to a prophet: I must deliver God’s word of promise to them. They can accept it or reject it—ultimately God will deliver. This underscores the importance of intercessory prayer in counseling.

See also 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and Mark 9:14-29.



Let Us Therefore Strive to Enter that Rest
May 30, 2007, 6:50 am
Filed under: Spiritual Life

Today’s Daily Light on the Daily Path entry is rich:

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/devotions/daily.light/?date=2007-05-30

Particularly meaningful for me is a verse in the middle of the passage: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”

One of my major struggles this year has been trusting that God’s ways are best. Our culture tells me that I, as a 20-year-old young man, should be going to college, getting a career started, getting a gf and/or a wife, amassing fun and toys. God tells me I should be working at a ministry, foregoing the accolades and the accomplishments and the activities that mark the “wide way.” In a way, I am laboring for “enduring food” — my “wages” are in heaven.

The reality is that I have been called to this ministry and others are called to other things—careers, college, marriage. We are to be diligent to make our calling and election sure. (Of course, this verse has a lot of depth; I won’t unpack it here). We live in a war, not in a blessed paradise (yet). Therefore, we must seek to fight this fight, to run this race in such a way as to win the prize. I would challenge you: Are striving for the Kingdom of God? Are you violently seeking His Kingdom first?



“To Know Him…”
April 24, 2007, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Spiritual Life

For me, ALERT Basic training was the most difficult, most intense thing I’ve ever done. As Elihu pointed out to Job (Job 33), God teaches men in two ways: Through revelation (Scripture) and through suffering. The suffering in the first two weeks of Basic brought me to a point of brokenness where I let go of my pride and surrendured to God, acknowledging and accepting my total dependence on Him. Shortly after this breakthrough, He gave me the Scripture that has defined much of my time here at ALERT.

Each Saturday, we had a detailed inspection and then were “thrashed” for failing (The standard of passing was extremely high, and things as small as having dust on top of the doors or having your socks folded the wrong way or having a speck of dirt on your boots would be cause for failing). These thrashings involved intense physical exercise to the point of muscle failure. This particular Saturday, I was standing “at ease” by my bunk awaiting the inevitable pain when I pulled out my pocket NT and started reading in Phillipians.

God spoke to me through Phillipians 3:10: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” This verse sustained me through that thrashing that afternoon and on through the rest of Basic.

Recently, God has challenged my relationship with God to go deeper–to go to a level of intimacy, of experience, of really knowing.

Alex & Brett Harris wrote a great article on this subject at The Rebelution. In it, they say:

“As Christians—as rebelutionaries—we must never be content with simply having a relationship with our Savior. Is it growing? Do we delight to talk to Him? Do we hunger to read His Word?…Do I value the promised gift of sweeter communion with my Savior? Then let me demonstrate it by seeking after Him with my whole heart, through constant prayer and meditation on His Word. It will be hard, but it will be good. And someday I’ll be able to say, without a moment’s hesitation, that I have known my God.”

Read the whole article at The Rebelution: To Say, I Have Known God



Spiritual vs. Intellectual
April 21, 2007, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Spiritual Life

“…There is a danger lest that which is moral and spiritual should be neglected amidst the attention to that which is merely intellectual; lest talents should be appreciated more highly than virtues, and secular be more eagerly sought than religious knowledge. Yet it must be obvious to you, on reflection, that happieness, even for this world, to say nothing of the next, depends much more upon the state of the heart and the practice of life, than upon the culture of understanding.”

– John Angell James,  in A Young Man’s Guide through Life to Immortality, 15th ed.

The copy I’m reading was published in Birmingham, England in 1880.