Reconciliation

“What if I can’t be fixed?”

“What if I can’t be fixed?”

You ask a bunch of guys about their biggest fears, and you hope for some open dialogue. You don’t really expect someone to whisper from the depths of the fog.

“What if I’m hopeless? This addiction killed my dad and my grandma. My sister’s relapsed over and over for fifteen years. And I’ve prayed and done everything I can for a decade, but I keep falling into the same pattern.

“What if I’m broken so bad that even God can’t fix me?”

How are you gonna respond to that? Think carefully, because whatever you say better not rhyme. It better not be some platitude or theological truism. He’s heard them all, and they’re salt rubbed in an open, bleeding wound.

We don’t want to hear “God can’t.” Our first reaction is to argue — God can do anything! And when that fails — you can’t argue your way out of the fog — we’re tempted to retreat to the safety of the Christian cocoon where the light’s bright, the fog’s clear, and people don’t talk about the hopelessness of addiction and depression.

Are You Living on the Bridge of Grace?

Is your life a bridge of Grace to the world you encounter each day? The same grace that is saving, growing and changing you is also intended to draw those around you to Jesus. How so? His awesome grace works from the inside out in our lives; changing us from glory to glory and wooing all whose lives we touch. Here are some of the incredible ways that his grace works in and through our lives.

The Bible portrays God’s Grace as the Manifold Grace of God. That simply means His Grace has many facets. It’s like looking at a fine diamond with many sides or facets. As such, grace has innumerable expressions to and through those who have placed their faith in Christ. Another way of understanding this great Grace is seeing it as a bridge that God builds toward and out from those who believe the Gospel of Grace.

Each facet of His Grace expressed in our lives is another plank of that bridge. He builds this bridge of Grace to ensure that we successfully walk out the Christian journey. As we walk in Grace others are drawn to that very same Grace. What a wonderful and gracious God! Let’s examine some of the planks on this Bridge of Grace. First, consider with me some of what the Grace of God means in our lives.

Repentance Secures Freedom from Shame

Warning: the following will mess you up. Allow Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into all the truth concerning 'repentance'. This is a critical piece of The Message: that we believe the Gospel of Grace!

"The guilt and shame that is always associated with repentance causes this great gift to be, almost universally, thought of in a negative light and resisted rather than embraced as it should be and will be when seen correctly. " (Clark Whitten, Pure Grace - page 98).

"Repentance is the most mis-translated word in the New Testament" (Broudus). It means to change one's mind in light of new truthful information. This is the process by which believers have our minds transformed. When the truth of the finished work of Christ challenges religious mindsets, repentance allows one to embrace the new and discard the old.

By this process we grow up into the fullness of Christ. The mixture gospel taught by the vast majority of evangelicals reduces the glorious gift of repentance to a tool of behavior modification. Truth embraced will always produce freedom and correct Jesus-like thinking! The truth is--Believers are the righteousness of God (In Christ) or we are not righteous at all.

The Three Graces: Powerful to Equip You

The Three Graces are known in both Greek and Roman mythology as the muses of poetry, music and of course, art.

Lately, I've gained an intense appreciation for their numerous depictions in sculpture and on canvas.

I've been working on an article concerning body image; therefore, I've researched how beauty definitions have changed over time. This, inevitably, brought me to “The Three Graces.".

Centuries ago, the Rubenesque body shape, defined as a voluptuous female figure, was desirable.

In the 1600's, artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens was inspired by this fuller figure in his 1635 work, The Three Graces.

Redeemed Rebels: A Biblical Approach to Addiction

Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of God's majesty in His providence in such a way that we are left bewildered and in awe all at once. These are sweet moments. That is certainly the case concerning my redemption out of the headlong plunge into depravity and my slavery to drug and alcohol addiction. After my addiction, my wife Candi and I used to ask God and ourselves these questions:

    Why, God?
    Why did you allow me to go that way?
    Why didn't you do something to stop me?
    Why did I lose so much of myself, destroy so much, and come close to losing my life so many times?

Am I Loved? Will I Be Loved? Can I Really Love?

Without question, my greatest struggle and crisis of faith is, "AM I LOVED?" This question releases its evil first cousin; "WILL I BE LOVED?" Is being loved and loving contingent upon if I do some proverbial duty, service, behavior, performance enough and well enough? Close on their heels is "can I really love" without impure motive or impunity?

The only correct answer to these questions is simply God is Love.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it - we're called children of God! That's who we really are.(1 John 3:1a, Msg)

Look deeply into the glory of love! Having begun in Father's unmerited, unconditional, unending love; it elicits the following response!

My beloved friends let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8 The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about - not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! (1 John 4:7-12, Msg)

Freedom from Bondage

We celebrate our nation's freedom yet there are so many people who are still in bondage. They are in bondage to schedules, deadlines, television, sports, alcohol, drugs, sex, profanity, and all the other things that come before Jesus and keep them from serving Him and spending time with Him as He has commanded us to do. He has told us that we should have no other gods before Him. However all too often we allow things that will one day mean nothing come before Him and our service to Him.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:24-26, 33-34 King James Version

Addiction the Sin

Addiction is not just a moral defect of character we wish to be rid of. In the realm of religion, it is a mortal sin.

Do you feel that something is missing deep down in your soul? Do you feel an emptiness that you cannot explain - sometimes loneliness - even among many? Most people with substance abuse problems do.

In moments when we are most thoughtful about the meaning of life, there is a craving for something more. At its core, this is a longing to know or experience something or someone bigger than ourselves - "God", a spiritual being.

Often, people try to fill this emptiness with things that aren't always good for us - like alcohol, drugs, and sins of the flesh. However, none of these can fill this emptiness, or take away the inner loneliness.

What separates you from God? What causes that emptiness in your life? And finally, what causes you to use drugs? Could it be sin? The answer is most likely a "definite yes". In my opinion, drugging and excessive drinking are sins. You may not believe it on one side of the coin; on the other side, you may believe it, but you have trouble accepting it. It makes no difference. When you get high you break God's law, and that is where your life falters.

The Truth Shall Set You Free, part 10

This study was done during the last semester of my teaching career. A lot of things were on my mind. The letter of resignation had been written and accepted. I was starting to have dialogs with different campus constituencies about an orderly exit regarding pension, health plans, etc. I met my successor but stayed out of the process of his selection. I got an early start on cleaning out the office. I wanted an orderly exit so that on the last day of my tenure as a teacher, I would walk out and not return.

The Truth Shall Set You Free, part 9

John 8:31-32 is a conditional statement. Jesus says if we continue in His word, we will be His disciples. We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. The key words are: “if”, “continue”, “truth”, and “free.”

If we abide in, stay with, live out and proclaim His word through our attitudes and actions, we will know His truth and we will be free.

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