Redemption

That Unquenchable Thirst for Fulfillment

From that magical moment of birth, we all set out on a life consuming quest to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for fulfillment. It was then that we filled our little lungs with air; oh, what an overwhelming experience that must of been! In fact, we loved it so much that we have never intentionally stopped doing it.

Then came our need for nourishment and comfort, which in turn triggered a God inspired train reaction of magical events We instantly learned a beautiful reality, which was that the inhaled air (filled with oxygen) in our lungs not only insured a healthy body, but we could use the exhaled (void of oxygen) air to stimulate our little vocal cords and have our needs met. David the great Psalmist of Israel was so right on when he pinned this revelation of his God and maker:

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully made; Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

You see, it only took a mere whimper and our world stood at our command. Mom would come running into the room and filled our empty tummies or some one would answer the call and have our soiled diapers changed, and to add icing on the cake, the louder we cried, the higher people jumped. It seemed that life couldn't get any better.

THE WORLD WAS OUR STAGE
Then it did get better; can you remember your adolescence years? You know, the year when mom & dad were placed on the back burner and now it was all about that prince charming/goddess who sat next to you in class. Wow, if I could just get her to notice me and maybe fall madly in love (our limited knowledge of it) with me. Then this unquenchable thirst would be filled and for a season it did just that. But sadly, some one ended up with their first broken heart and OUCH, it sure did hurt.

“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.

Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Book Review)

Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel is a book for every Christian. Usually when we hear the word "addiction," our thoughts immediately leap to illegal drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. As the author correctly points out in this book, every Christian faces the temptation of addiction. The difference is some addictions are more acceptable than others. I can be addicted to books for example. Others can be addicted to food, credit cards, a beautiful yard, a hobby, work, or a multitude of other items in God's created order.

Welch rightly calls addictions sin. Addictions reveal a love of self and thus are idolatry. In the practice of them we put ourselves above God. Addictions are sin. This diagnosis will not be acceptable to many in our culture. But it is what we need to hear.

The author shows the pathway by which one can become addicted. More importantly he shows the only true way that slaves to addictions can be freed. Thus this volume is filled with hope for those who are tempted to or are already feasting on a "banquet in the grave."

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)

The Danger of Complacency and Sin

Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin... The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Matthew 23:26 NASB
You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

God is always ready to forgive -
but we must never become complacent about sin and think it doesn’t matter. Rather, we must do whatever we can to avoid temptation and deal with sin when it happens.

God does not want us to take a neutral attitude toward sin.
Though He loves the sinner, He does not love sin. It is sin that separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), yet He does not desire that any perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

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

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