A Day To Celebrate Jesus

Merry Christmas, friends! 😊

This is a day to celebrate Jesus — His first coming to this earth, as a baby who would grow up for this very reason: not only to speak the words of God, not only to do the works of God, but to die as the sinless sacrifice on our behalf, to pay the fine that we owed God.

We owed a massive debt to God because of all of our sins — everything we do wrong against God and against other people: lying, stealing, committing adultery, harboring anger in our hearts toward others (which is the precursor to murder), looking at pornography (which is not only lust [sexual immorality of the mind] but also covetousness: wrongfully desiring what is not ours), holding grudges/bitterness (unforgiveness), practicing homosexuality, gossiping…

All these things that we do amass a debt to God that we cannot pay. — We cannot, by our “good” works undo what has been done by our “bad works” — our sin. No, our sin separates us from God, and our “fine” is to spend eternity (forever and ever) in torment, at first in hell, and then in the lake of fire.

But God sent His Son Jesus (who is Himself fully God) into the world, not to bring more condemnation, but to make the way for us to have right relationship with God again and have true and eternal /life/. He did this by Jesus dying on the cross — paying the fine that we owed against God. And He didn’t stay dead — the mighty power of God brought Jesus up from the grave in resurrected life!

Now God is calling out to hearts through His children like me, saying, “Be reconciled to God!” God is asking you to repent of your sins (turn away from all the wrong things you have done and decide that you don’t want to live that way in rebellion to God any longer) and trust in Jesus. — Jesus already paid the fine: the debt is paid and the victory won! Now you need to make Jesus /your/ salvation: receive Jesus for yourself. Let Jesus be the Lord of your life, and not you yourself any longer. Turn away from the devil and his shackling hold on your life.

May you know and experience the powerful love of Jesus this Christmas! God’s love is the only lasting love — everything else will fade and disappoint. Let Jesus be your sure and strong foundation coming into the New Year!

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“Why doesn’t God stop the evil?”

Just heard a good thought:

A lot of people complain, “Why doesn’t God do anything about the evil in the world?”

And yet, these same people will read of the times in the Bible when God /did/ put a stop to the evil in the world (like when he brought plagues upon Egypt or destroyed the many wicked nations in the land of Canaan), and they’ll turn around and say that God is a violent, angry, evil god.

People, you can’t have it both ways.

God is God. He does whatever pleases Him. He is very patient (long-suffering), and yet He also does punish evil, wicked people for their atrocious actions. We only see glimpses of this now, but there is coming a day when Jesus will return with firey vengeance and He will make all things right.

The question is, are you ready for that Day? Jesus is the only Way of salvation — not Islam, not New Age beliefs, not Hinduism, not science or intellectualism, not praying to Mary or saints of old, not even going to church or being baptized or following the Law.

The ONLY way to be saved is by repenting of your sins and trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation. He came to this earth, He died the death you deserved to die, He rose in power with a resurrected life, and now He offers life to all who will call upon His Name.

Then you will be ready to stand before Him on that great Day of judgment.

Because I’m here to tell you that God /will/ do something about the evil in this world.

But you need to ask yourself, will you be pleased when He does so? Or will you be taken away in the storm of His wrath?

Desperate for Restoration

Desperate times call for desperate measures,
And hardly a time have I known more desperate than this.

Desperately I want to see your life restored –
A friend so loved, now so lost;
A breaking, raging soul,
Sold out to hate what once it loved.
And the worst of it is that I’m the cause.

Desperately I was trying to please you;
Desperately I longed to do only what was right.
But in the thick of it my decisions were clouded by night.
And even with all the strength I could muster,
I was mastered by darkness.

Desperate to win me, it wooed me in,
And the mouths in all directions spoke a different word.
And my ears were clogged to hear the truth.
And my eyes saw only the treasures I longed for.
And my feet hastened into suffering.
And my hands held the sword of my undoing.
And my heart marched to the beat of defeat.
In my holy pursuit, I was wholly defiled.

Desperately now I look up to Mercy,
Praying He’ll come and in His arms intertwine me.
But more than that – oh, so much more –
I pray He’ll right what I have made wrong;
That His love would flow freely,
As once did His blood;
That He’ll shine down with favor
And restore.
Restore.
Restore.

Restoration is a slippery thing.
It is not in my power to grasp it.
I try to take all my “desperate measures,”
I try to heal hearts with my “good nature,”
And I fail.
That’s why I look outside myself.

Restoration comes from God alone.
He chooses whom He wishes to save,
He decides even the untimely fate.
That’s why I plead for His grace!
‘Cause He’s the only one who can save me now.

“Desperate for You, God, I humble my heart.
I realize I’m to blame, in part.
So take all my shame
And set me up on my feet;
Heal the wounds that strike so deep
And show us Your restoration.
Restore us, God.
Restore us.
We are desperate for restoration.”

Enough!

Oh why should I sigh at another’s jubilance?
Why should I weep as they break into song?
Dancing on their merry way,
Holding hands on this blessed day,
While my heart is torn in shreds again.

Oh God, set me free.
May this terrible tearing rip me from my shackles!
May I live to see You and stop focusing on fables!

I do not deny I’ve been blind.
I do not deny I’ve been tied down in so many ways
When I thought this season my ties would break…

Oh, miserable, wretched man that I am!
To push and sway to get my way,
When the getting’s already been taken!
To love and lose and try to choose
A good path,
But at long last,
I’m defeated.

But I know You will brighten defeat,
Though it gnaws at my teeth
And grimaces the grin I once wore.
Though sour is the taste, I know Your sweet grace
Goes above the raging fountains I ignore.
…Try to ignore.

I wanted to be free –
Here’s my freedom, plain and pure!
Though ugly is the day,
Painted black with deepest stains,
I’ll tread on, though falling is the theme.

Oh God, will You be alone with me?

I don’t want to see those dark faces,
Smiling in their happy places,
Grinning in a winning kind of way…
It makes me wish my soul the better –
To have what is not mine to tether;
To wish upon a star that never shines.

Make my heart ache with intenesest groanings
So that after I despise my loathings
I’ll come out on the other side anew,
No longer controlled by ill-placed desires
That rage within me and exhaustedly tire
My body wracked in sorrows on the floor.
…Striving for more.

I don’t want to want more, God.
I don’t want to need love.
I just want to hear from You, God,
And know that You’re enough.

Oh, tame this lion heart, God!
Make me a humble child of Yours.
Give me wholly to Your purpose.
Help me to love when loving hurts.

And God, this hurts.

Who can I talk to?
I have no one but You.
Who can I run to?
You pick me up in Your arms.
…Revive my broken heart!

I don’t want to want more, God.
I don’t want to need love.
I just want to hear from You, God,
And know that You’re enough.

Oh, please, be enough.
Let the clamoring voices in silence fall as You speak:

“Enough!”

Hope Shimmers Like The Sea

My soul cries out in joy to my God,
The deliverer of my soul
And the provider of all my soul’s longings!

‘Tis a day of blessed peace!
‘Tis a day of achieving goals
That souls like mine don’t often dream of achieving.

I’ve set a course, and God puts me to task.
I climb aboard, we raise the mast,
And off we sail the wide open seas!
Who knows what God has in store for me?

It’s a joy to think about!
And it’s a joy to live!
For too long I’ve been tied down by ropes
That dashes all my hopes,
Leaving me tripping and carelessly falling to my end.

I’d tried to say I was okay –
I tried to remain strong –
But really, my efforts were far short
And altogether wrong.

I shudder to think of the days I was bound –
Bound by my sin,
Bound by simple laziness,
Bound by fear of the unknown –

But now I am known by the One
Who knows me inside-out and backwards.
I’m aboard His ship,
And we are sailing forwards!

There’s no use in looking back
When the past will only haunt you.
It’s eyes to the horizon,
Where my hope is deep and blue.

Ooh! To know You, God.
Wow. It leaves me in awe.
You take the worst in me,
And somehow You make it strong!

I guess that way there’s no question
Who’s the one to blame.
So, all my days I will praise You
And give credit to Your Name.

I Love My God

I love my God so much; He is so precious to me.
No matter what the circumstances that threaten me,
He is ever my strength, my warm embrace.

He loves me with a mother-like love – unconditional, ever-present.
Even if I stray, He is always willing to take me back.

He is the source of my joy, the only reason that I live.
Because of Him, I hope and praise Him exuberantly.

I wave my arms and dance with vigor;
My face is radiant because of all my God’s blessings and mercy.

He grants rest for my soul in the midst of the harshest turmoil.
I will never be ashamed when my feet are planted on His words.

I cannot contain my excitement;
I have to show it to the world.
They have to know the awesome God that I serve.

He is absolutely lovely.
Though I have not seen Him,
His face cheers my soul;
His hand draws me near;
His love beckons me to His side.

What can I say about my God?
His breath can unearth mountains,
His voice silences nations.
The world stood in silent anticipation in the beginning,
And even now all the world longs for Him to bring redemption.

Even I await His glorious finale.
All this life is His grand show,
Scripted out according to His masterful planning and ingenious mind.

Who could dare to argue with God?
Who could prove to know any better than He does?
Is the One who made the human brain not capable of understanding it?

He searches deep into my soul;
He sees my inmost thoughts and feelings,
My deepest desires and greatest fears.
He knows where I came from
And He knows where I will go.

He loved me before I came to be,
And it was His unfailing love that sent Him –
That drove Him – to the cross.
In pain, scorned, abandoned,
This most loving God of all
Was unloved.

I love my God so much.
I love Him because He loved me first;
Because He fought through all of His anguish,
Despising the shame but realizing that
There was a great hope He was achieving for us,
A hope that was worth pursuing,
Even in the face of the vilest death.

And my God is not a victim of death,
But indeed He is a victor.
He’s seated on high;
He rose from the tomb.
He’s who I’m counting on
When I feel weak and afraid,
For His power –
His death-defeating, dynamite power –
Is living and working in me,
Giving me strength that I need.

When I awake in the morning,
My heart belongs to God.
When I lay down to sleep,
His eyes watch over me.
My every step has been laid out
So that I might know Him more
And come to treasure Him for all He is.

I desire to know You even more deeply, God,
Because I have found Your love to be sweet.
Even Your punishment and chastisement
Serve ultimately to draw me closer to You.
So prune me, refine me in the fire,
Take out my impurities
And help me to become a godly man,
A reflection of Christ Himself,
A leader of confidence and humility,
Of peace and justice.

I want to be a man worthy of full respect –
Gracious, well-mannered, sober-minded,
Intelligent, gentle, bold, responsible, fearless;
One who’s whole life is devoted to loving God
With everything he has
And who likewise loves others
With whom he come in contact.

I want to be the kind of person
Who can lead a family;
Who can lead a band;
A hospitable person,
A caring person;
Someone who take care of the sick,
The imprisoned,
Widows,
Orphans,
And the oppressed.

I never want to have a tight grip
On my time, my money or my faith,
But I want to give generously
And help out wherever I can.

I want to have a heart like Yours, God,
And it is only through You that I can accomplish this.
Live through me and accomplish Your work.

Thank You. I love You so much.

Amen.

Dearest God Above

Dearest God above,

We come to You today giving You thanks,
For You are not just a God seated high above us,
But You are near to each of our hearts

Your providential hands conduct this world
With Your beautiful orchestral score,
And we adore You

We adore Your vast majesty that manifests itself
From the plants to the cosmos
We adore Your great intelligence that instigated a plan
To save a world that in sinful folly made its boast
We adore the way You adore us,
Wretched as we are from coast to coast
‘Til You step in
And into us impart a heart not made of stone
And break our loneliness and all the sickness prior fused to our bones

We were wandering on our own, then crash!
Our feeble minds were blown,
Stepping right into a trap of our own making,
We made it clear that our lives were for the taking,
To be taken without force but by Your divine ordaining,
For what is this world but Your delightful oil painting?

And You sweep the colors this way and that
And sometimes I slip right off like I’m under attack
And I look up to the sky and I question where You’re at
But my God don’t play games – He don’t like it like that

Nah, God, You got my back
And Your back ain’t never been turned on us
Just like the Red Sea been parted,
I know You’re paving our path
And we’ll continue to follow,
Not getting stubborn-hearted and stiff-necked
Like a self-seeking giraffe
Oh, those Israelites didn’t know what they were missing
When they threw You in the trash!

And God our hearts can be just as calloused
We don’t pretend to be shining like diamonds
We just want to look to the true Light
So would You open our eyelids?

With our hearts bowed before You now in humble silence
We lose the words to thank You for Your renewal that brightens
Even the depths of our souls, black as coals at the day’s end
Oh God, would You save us, save us like an old friend?

We ask for Your provision – You always provide
You’re always good, and without any pride
‘Cause You rightfully deserve all the praise
And at the end of our days, when all hands are raised
You’ll lift us up, and like a triumphal parade
We’ll sing and shout and lift high Your name
So with that in mind, direct our hearts today

Help us see from Your perspective,
Following Your divine directive,
Feeding the poor and the needy,
Comforting the broken,
And witnessing to a dying world

May we help widows in their distress
And look out for our fellow man,
Not seeking applause but approval –
Approval from the One who created both the oceans and the sand

For some day,
When this world fades away
All that will matter is what was done by Your hand

Thank You for choosing to love us
Thank You for helping us stand

Not to us, O Lord,
Not to us,
But to Your name be the glory –
To the Eternal One,
The everlasting and exalted Lamb

Amen