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Rethinking Reckoning

3 Dec
Living on the Life side of the cross!

Living on the Life side of the cross!

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11

I have long realized that reckoning is the key to spiritual growth, but I have to admit that when it comes to reckoning I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she’s clicking her heels together and reciting, “There’s no place like home.”  When I read/study about reckoning, I occasionally feel that reckoning myself dead to sin becomes a bit of a mantra. A positive thinking exercise.

I’m still slooooowly reading through my favorite book of the year, The Complete Green Letters, by Miles J. Standford.  This book presents spiritual truth about salvation–past, present, and future–in a way that speaks to my heart.  He discusses faulty reckoning, which is what I described in the last paragraph, and then moves on  to a discussion of true reckoning:

True reckoning has its ultimate emphasis on the life side of the Cross; we count on our having died to sin in in order to count on our being alive to God.  Since we are new creations in Christ, death is forever past; we were brought out of it in Him at His resurrection.  As for the old man within, we continually reckon that source to have been crucified, so that it may be held daily in the place of death.  We reckon; the Cross crucifies.

Look carefully at Colossians 3:3:  “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  However, we are not dead, but alive.  Neither is self dead, but judicially crucified.  We have forever passed beyond death.  The NASB brings out the past tense:  “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  All this difference in the world!  Once we see that our death to sin is in the past tense, completed, we are free to count ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus, and to live –in the present tense!

Reckon, logizomai, is really an accounting term.  It deals with facts, not suppositions.  It happened.  It’s done.  Rejoice.

Grace Restfulness

17 Oct

I read this last week and can’t stop thinking about it:

  • To believe and consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
  • To refuse to make resolutions and vows; for that is to trust in the flesh.
  • To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
  • To rely on God’s chastening (child training) had as a mark of his kindness.
  • To hope to be better (hence acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
  • To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.
  • To be discouraged is unbelief–as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.
  • To be proud is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves. – Miles J. Standford

This is the grace life.

(I don’t normally recommend a book after 30 pages, but The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford is [Disclaimer: so far] totally amazing!)

God: The Strength of My Heart

10 Oct

The other day I wrote about Psalm 90:11 which discusses the fear of the Lord.  Let’s take a look at the verse 12 today.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12 KJ

The meanings of the first phrase in Hebrew are self-evident, but the second phrase has some interesting shades of meaning:

The word apply, or bow’, means to lead in, to carry in, bring in, gather, and cause to come.  The word gather reminds me of something that is fragmented, like our heart which needs to be united to totally fear the Lord about which I wrote about the other day.  It sounds like we need a sheepdog to herd the fragments of our hearts together to be able to apply them to wisdom.

The word heart includes all of the innermost parts of us–our minds, our souls, our consciences, our emotions, and our wills.  It is incredibly easy for these parts to fragment, isn’t it?  This verse says that we can apply our hearts to wisdom when we learn to number our days due to our fear of the Lord.  It seems that the fear of the Lord is key to so much.

I can only relate this to the way I felt about my dad.  I respected him totally.  I had him on a pedestal.  I didn’t want to do anything to make him think less of me.  And so I worked and worked hard to gain his approval.  He loved me either way–but I still worked due to fear that I would lose His approval.  I tend to approach God the same way–with work.

Then I read the following verse and I gave a sigh of relief:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.  Psalm 73:26

God is the fragment gatherer.

Enter a Sinner, Leave Without Condemnation

10 Jul

I just want to share with you this amazing painting by the Russian artist, Vasily Polenov.  It’s called “Christ and the Sinner” from the story about the Pharisees bringing the woman caught in adultery before Christ in John 8:3-11.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Felix Culpa

5 Jul

I just want to share this quote from Eugene Peterson’s book, Leap Over a Wall–Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians.

The Latin phrase felix culpa, usually attributed to Augustine, puts the hope in a slogan:  “O happy sin!”  Only when I recognize and confess my sin am I in  position to recognize and respond to the God who saves me from my sin.  If I’m ignorant of or indifferent to my sin, I’m ignorant of or indifferent to the great and central good news:  “Jesus saves!”

We don’t want to face sin because we don’t want to lose our god-illusions, we’re afraid that if we’re not the gods of our lives and actions we’re nothing.  But stories like this [David and Bathsheba] sets us free from such sin-fears.  When sin is discovered in us, our guilty fears often produce a sense of condemnation.  But if we stay with the story–the God story, the David story, the Jesus story–before long the condemnation gives way, whether slowly or suddenly, to the surprised realization of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

[I read the other day that Poet James Dickey was a member of the “Make Yourself Do Right Club” when he was in 2nd grade.  My human nature leans toward joining that club, even though I know righteousness is a work of God.]

Rant

14 Apr

From the book, Hell Broke Loose

This morning I started reading John Bunyan’s book about coming to Christ and learning to depend upon Him, Grace Abounding:  To the Chief of Sinners.  In it he speaks about ranters.  The ranters were a sect who sinned much and ranted and raved to show their freedom in Christ.  Their particularly twisted doctrine ignored Romans 6:

 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?  Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (v. 1-3)

This got my sometimes overly-active mind a workin’.  Please, don’t think I’m ignoring Romans 8:1.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”  What I started to wonder is, “How often do I act like one of those 17th century ranters?”

Now, their behavior was pretty extreme.  As a matter of fact, I had a difficult time finding an image I could use in this blog as most of the images included nudity and sexual activity.  Nevertheless, how often do I enter into sin knowingly, without even asking God for help?  A delicious bit of gossip was going around school last week.  Did I ask God to help?  No.  I listened and partook while I shoved the conviction of the Holy Spirit into my back pocket.  Am I condemned?  No.  We know that.  But am I presuming on God’s grace?  I believe I am.  I’m not spouting some sort of legalism here, I’m simply pointing out that we are often presented with opportunities to depend more and more on our Lord God.

What a loving God who teaches each of us in the way we can best learn.

Lift Your Soul

11 Mar

photo credit: pphotography-blog.blogspot.com

Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.  Psalm 86:4

“As the heliotrope looks to the sun for its smile, so turn I my heart to thee. Thou art as the brazen serpent to my sick nature, and I lift up my soul’s eye to thee that I may live. I know that the nearer I am to thee the greater is my joy, therefore be pleased to draw me nearer while I am labouring to draw near. It is not easy to lift a soul at all; it needs a strong shoulder at the wheel when a heart sticks in the miry clay of despondency: it is less easy to lift a soul up to the Lord, for the height is great as well as the weight oppressive; but the Lord will take the will for the deed, and come in with a hand of almighty grace to raise his poor servant out of the earth and up to heaven.” ~ The Treasury of David

Fear of Rejection

29 Jan

According to Robert McGee’s book, The Search for Significance, the fear of rejection limits the intimacy of our relationships.  He says that “Turning to others for what only God can provide is a direct results of our acceptance of Satan’s lie:

Self worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

I was thinking about this in relationship to our roles as parents.  Could the equation be rewritten thusly:

My self-worth = Performance of my Children + Others’ Opinions (of me and my parenting)

People who believe this, and I believe that we all do sometimes, forget about the free will.  I remind others–and myself–that God was the perfect “parent,” if you will, to Adam and Eve in the Garden.  Yet we all know what became of that.  Are you living in Satan’s lie today?

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.  Col. 1:21-22

Fear of . . . Not Getting What We Want

3 Jan

How many of you have had the “Christian Marriage Fight”?  You know, the one where the husband says, “You need to submit to me.”  And where the wife says, “You need to love me sacrificially–the way Christ loves the church.  Or at least as much as you love your own body.”  Mike and I had one the first night we were married.  **Drumroll**  I know you’re waiting to hear something momentous.  **More drumroll** OK.  It was about pyjamas.  And that’s all you need to know about that.

I always talk to young couples about this useless matrimonial infighting, but today I found a name for the husband and wife roles in this battle.  One is “self-serving conformity” and the other was “self-serving assertiveness.”  You see, when it comes down to it we both just wanted to please self.  And we used “Biblical” ammunition to try and get it.  Now, that’s kind of disgusting.

What’s the motive here?  Love, grace, mercy, glorifying God?  Nope.  Selfishness–pure and simple.  Now, a couple of people who’ve commented on my posts about self seem to think I’m promoting some sort of works righteousness or self-improvement program.  Actually, what I’m learning and passing on is that we need to learn to be sensitive to the sin of selfishness, ask forgiveness (because we can’t live an other-centered life without God’s provision), and receive the forgiveness and grace that he has for us.  What do you think?

Photo from http://goo.gl/xI38Q

Advent-urous

23 Dec

I was looking up the word adventurous in my favorite dictionary (Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language) and it’s related to the word advent which means “to come to.”  Jesus came to earth for us.  I love this poem I found this morning about the Advent of Christ:

Light looked down and beheld Darkness.

“Thither will I go,” said Light.

Peace looked down and beheld War.

“Thither will I go,” said Peace.

Love looked down and beheld Hatred.

“Thither will I go,” said Love.

So came Light and shone.

So came Peace and gave rest.

So came Love and brought life.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. ~ L. Houseman

One of the definitions of adventure is “an enterprise of hazard; a bold undertaking, in which hazards are to be encountered, and the issue is staked upon unforeseen events.”  The best adventure we can have is to whole-heartedly follow Jesus.  It’s advent-urous because we don’t know what’s ahead,  but thankfully HE DOES.

The Word became flesh
and took up residence among us.
We observed His glory,
the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth. John 1:14 HCSB